2012 NBA Draft Grades: Blazers, Bobcats, Bulls, Celtics, Hornets, Kings, Pistons, Thunder, Wizards
Boston Celtics: The team nabbed very strong, very skilled PF Jared Sullinger with the #21 pick after falling due to some questions about the health of his back, and then grabbed shot-blocking center Fab Melo with the #22 spot. Boston received great grades for getting Sullinger so late in the draft after being a projected top-10 pick until his back got red-flagged by a doctor a week ago, and Melo is supposed to bring some defensive toughness to help aging KG inside. Melo’s Syracuse teammate Kris Joseph was picked up at #51, but won’t be of any consequence.
Truth: Sullinger was indeed a huge steal this late in the first round considering how productive he has been at Ohio State. He did miss 2 games this past season due to back trouble, but he’s an absolute steal in the 20’s considering how many players who never produced in college were taken before him. Melo, on the other hand, is far more hype and hope than reality, and he entered the draft with every type of issue you can imagine (legal, conditioning, academic, attitude); I just don’t see the 5.8 rpg (seriously, five point eight boards a night) center working out in the NBA, and the C’s should have done more with this pick. Real Grade: B+
Charlotte Bobcats: Everyone who graded the draft loves the hustle and intangibles that SF Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, the #2 pick, brings to this franchise. Many places noted that MKG was actually considered the second-best player in the draft, so good for Charlotte not doing something wild. Pundits also liked the defense that #31 selection Jeff Taylor will provide when Kidd-Gilchrist is on the bench since they both play SF.
Truth: It’s my belief that they should have taken PF Thomas Robinson with the second pick, but MKG’s value is at least arguably on par or better, and it’s certainly a far better pick-up than had they screwed around with “potential” guys like Beal, Drummond, or Waiters. I think Taylor is being severely underrated at this point, and he should be playing 24-30 minutes/game by the end of the season, regardless of what position titles they need to assign these two players. Real Grade: A
Chicago Bulls: Derrick Rose will miss most of the season due to an ACL injury, so the Bulls picked up Kentucky PG Marquis Teague at #29. Although at least one pundit thought it was only an OK pick, most think it was great since Teague is hugely athletic and just won a national title.
Truth: Teague is indeed very fast, but also a terrible decision maker, so the result is a player who makes mistakes very quickly. He is not a game-manager at all, forces bad passes and bad shots, and was yelled at by Coach Calipari pretty much constantly last year. He didn’t have the worst amount of turnovers of all the overrated PG’s, so he avoids the F. Real Grade: D-
Detroit Pistons: Pundits gave the Pistons mostly A’s for grabbing C Andre Drummond, the boom/bust draftee with the highest “boom” ceiling, at #9. Considering he has the size and athleticism to theoretically end up better than Anthony Davis, ninth was seen as a safe place to take the motivationally-challenged center. Some think SF Khris Middleton at #39 could stay in the league for a while, and SG Kim English at #44 provides good outside shooting.
Truth: Not only is Drummond far too unsettled emotionally to ever be an elite pro, he is majorly lacking skills, has a perpetually sleepy look on his face, and was noted for being inconsistent and having a low motor long before going to UConn. Selecting him in the first round, let alone top-10, is a total bust of a pick. Middleton got worse as a junior, and although English only does one thing well (3-point shooting), he could be around for a little bit because of it. Real Grade: D-
Golden State Warriors: People have fluctuated back and forth so many times with what SF Harrison Barnes could be or should be, most agreed he was a solid, safe pick at #7. Center Festus Ezeli at #30 was seen as a safe pick based on need, and everyone loves undersized-but-multi-skilled PF Draymond Green at #37.
Truth: You heard it hear first: Barnes should be able to be Tayshaun Prince minus the passing. He can catch-and-shoot but needs a decent PG to make it happen, and he has all the length and speed to be a great wing defender, which he showed in college. If you think a Prince-esque player who can’t pass is a good pick at 7, then I guess it’s OK. Ezeli has way too many issues (multiple injuries and suspensions, poor rebounder, no offensive game) to be taken over Kyle O’Quinn who went 19 picks later, and Green might make the opening day roster, but he really is too small and slow to stick in the league. Real Grade: C+
New Orleans Hornets: Anthony Davis is well loved at #1, no one is sure what to make of SG-wannabe-PG Austin Rivers at #10 since he has all sorts of scoring skills and confidence but nothing resembling good decision-making or actual PG skills, and multi-faceted SF Darius Miller at #46 somehow barely gets mentioned in most pundits’ write-ups.
Truth: Davis was a gimme at #1 which shouldn’t automatically earn a high grade for NO because it takes no intelligence or vision to select him – frankly I won’t even factor his selection into their grade. We all saw that Rivers loves to play hero-ball and do things like take on a double-team instead of passing to an open man, so there is no way to play him next to Eric Gordon. He’s way too much of an inefficient prima donna to be considered a good selection. Miller could be a crafty little role player down the road, particularly if he focuses on improving his defense; it’s a decent pick for the middle of the second round. Real Grade: D+
Oklahoma City Thunder: Bloggers and pundits absolutely love the value the Thunder got with super-long PF Perry Jones at #28 since he’s shown an unbelievable array of skills in short bursts while at Baylor. If he reaches anything even close to his obscenely high athletic ceiling, people think this is a major steal that really helps OKC for several years. They earned all A’s and A+’s for this one.
Truth: Much like Drummond, Jones is all hype and no reality. He was the 4th best player on Baylor last year, and I’m not even including Quincy Miller. Jones’ mentality, consistency, drive, motor, etc. have all been questioned back into his high school days (and his teams tend to always underperform as well, so that’s bad), and he disappears forever on the court. He also has a knee issue scaring teams off. Yikes! Real Grade: F
Portland Trail Blazers: They needed a PG and C, so guess what, they got them both in the lottery! At #6, they nabbed super-scorer Damian Lillard who played at tiny Weber State and many people think will help ease LaMarcus Aldridge’s scoring load. A few picks later, Portland picked up big man Meyers Leonard at #11, which pundits liked since he has a great size/speed combo rarely seen in a center. The frosting on the cake was versatile scoring SG (and super-for-his-position rebounder) Will Barton at #40.
Truth: Lillard’s highlights are all against terrible defenders because the few good teams he did face made him look pretty awful – that’s a troubling sign for a 6-feet-3 player who really isn’t a PG-level passer. Leonard is another “potential” guy who really didn’t bring the goods, through great production or determination, in college as his Illini lost 12 of their last 14 contests. Barton could really be something if his stick figure body holds up in the NBA – he’s the only saving grace to the Trail Blazers’ draft. Real Grade: D+
Sacramento Kings: Most experts believe Thomas Robinson was the second best talent in the draft, and he fell to the Kings at #5. Everyone likes everything he does, and pairing this great rebounder up with DeMarcus Cousins is already sounding awesome.
Truth: No complaints here – absolute stud who fell to 5 because the Wizards wanted a 33% 3-point shooter tossing their bombs and the Cavs wanted the Big East 6th Man of the Year. The Kings could have gotten cute and taken Barnes or Drummond, but they did the right thing. Real Grade: A+
Washington Wizards: The Zards got A’s across the board for taking SG Bradley Beal at #3. By taking a standout 3-point shooter with plenty of offensive craftiness, pundits feel Washington has a player who forces opposing defenses to spread out, which should open driving lanes for John Wall. Pairing the two together is supposed to help jumpstart an offense that’s been stagnant for years. They also picked up Czech SG/PG Tomas Satoransky of the Spanish League at #32, about whom Ball Don’t Lie said “Tomas Satoransky is a basketball player.”
Truth: Beal has a nice looking stroke and is a great rebounder out of the backcourt, but the comparisons to Ray Allen are a tad ridiculous. Beal shot a below-average 33% behind the arc at Florida while Allen hit 45% in college, including 40% as a freshman. It’s not like Beal improved much in that area as the year went on, either, since he was only 18 of 51 (35%) over his last 10 games. I honestly think Beal has a nice little set of skills that will help some other team down the road, but it won’t be the Wizards because he’ll never be able to live up to the expectations of being the #3 pick since he just doesn’t have that type of talent. He’ll eventually be benched, labeled a bust in the local papers, and at some point be gone, and the next team will let him be what he is – an OK-to-decent SG who occasionally gets hot (think about how much more valuable Shane Battier seemed once he was out of Memphis and no longer an underperforming #6 pick). Satoransky might have been only the 10th best international available, so that was a wasted pick early in the second round. Real Grade: D+