As the 2012 NBA Draft came and went on Thursday night, one couldn’t help but notice that of all the huge, blockbuster trades that had been discussed in the lead-up, a grand total of zero actually came to fruition.
Sure, you had a couple of minor Cavs-Mavs, Heat-Sixers swaps, but certainly nothing game-changing.
Even still, despite the lack of big name transactions, last night’s draft was impactful. And it was impactful for the reason that we all knew it would be impactful before the salacious trade gossip ever started up: depth.
From top to bottom this was one of the deepest drafts in recent memory and, while there may not have been many superstar-caliber players selected, there were plenty of guys taken who will go on to have lengthy, successful pro careers.
Before analyzing the winners and losers from Thursday’s schindig, let’s take a moment once again to defend the concept of immediately analyzing winners and losers.
A lot of people will argue that doing this is hasty, dumb and pointless – but those same people never seem to have a problem with grading trades before the parties involved ever play a single game. Much in the same way that the jump from college to pro ranks is unpredictable, so is the jump from one squad to another. Or did Lamar Odom not prove that to everyone and anyone who watched him play this past year?
But we digress.
With all that said, here are the winners and losers from the 2012 NBA Draft:
New Orleans Hornets – The Hornets did exactly what they needed to do on Thursday night. They nabbed the biggest and best player available in Anthony Davis, and then they drafted the perfect, made-for-the-NBA shooting guard in Austin Rivers. A lot of people didn’t love Rivers’ ball-hogging in college, but that’s essentially all the pro game is about. Suddenly, in 24 hours, Eric Gordon became a lot more expendable and New Orleans became a lot more watchable.
Houston Rockets – More on them below. Look, it’s easy to view Houston’s inability to land Dwight Howard as a failure. That said, if you just look at their picks, they added up a nice little batch of players with their three first round selections. Jeremy Lamb, Royce White and Terrence Jones are all ultra-talented studs, and all three could be great players down the road.
Philadelphia 76ers – Moe Harkless and Arnett Moultrie were two of the more talented prospects in this draft, and Philadelphia was able to get both for basically nothing. The 76ers could end up being one of the biggest winners of last night's event when we look back on it in five years.
Oklahoma City Thunder – The rich get richer. Perry Jones III, at one point, was projected to be a lottery pick. He ultimately fell into the low 20s because of three factors: knee concerns, attitude concerns and concerns about which position he should be playing. A smart organization like OKC understood all that and felt like they could handle him anyway. Given their track record, are we really in a position to question them?
Boston Celtics – Whether the Celtics were winners or losers last night depends largely on your opinion of Fab Melo. Jared Sullinger was a great value pick at No. 21; however, Melo -- a raw, not-particularly-impressive big -- doesn’t bring much of an NBA game to the table at this point. Maybe he’ll improve down the line but, right now, he probably didn’t deserve to be taken this high. Keep an eye on Kris Joseph, though, he may turn out to have been a steal at No. 51.
Detroit Pistons – The Pistons could have gotten any one of a number of pro-ready studs at No. 9, and instead they opted to get a project with attitude problems in Andre Drummond. Look, Drummond obviously has the talent and physical tools necessary for success at the next level; however, even his own UConn teammates questioned his preparedness to go 100 percent on a daily basis. He needed to land in a locker room with veteran leadership and a strong coach – Detroit ain’t that on any front.
Toronto Raptors – The Raptors knew that they wouldn’t get great value here, that’s why they tried so desperately to move this pick. When that didn’t work out, though, the Raptors still looked like they could walk away with a quality player like Austin Rivers, Damian Lillard, Kendall Marshall, etc. Instead, they didn’t land any of those guys (in some cases because the players were off the board, in others by choice) and wound up reaching for Terrence Ross. No bueno.
Houston Rockets – See above. If you try to bring in a Dwight and fail, you have to be featured on this half of the list, too.