2012 NBA Draft Grades

I have had a chance to digest the draft and look over how each team did. As always there were winners and there were losers, there were steals and there were head-scratchers. Here’s our assessment of how each team did.

Atlanta Hawks GRADE: C-
1 (23) – John Jenkins
2 (43) – Mike Scott

New GM Danny Ferry made his splash during free agency after taking the draft off. The Hawks’ draft was boring at best. While Jenkins provides outside shooting he is a bit small. Scott is a decent 2nd rd pick and he should provide some toughness to the roster, if he makes he team.

Boston Celtics GRADE: B-
1 (21) – Jared Sullinger
1 (22) – Fab Melo
2 (51) – Kris Joseph

I felt like Boston played it too safe here. I won’t argue with the Sullinger pick but 22 was too high for Melo in my opinion. I would have jumped at PJ3 or taken Festus Ezeli there. Sullinger’s game is a little too ‘under the rim’ to be a superstar but he should provide rebounding depth and low post scoring off of the bench – two things that Celts desperately need. Fab Melo is big, but he really is still a project of sorts. His game is limited. However, it is not a stretch to think that, learning defense from KG, that he can be a contributor – like a young Kendrick Perkins – by the time the playoffs come around. Kris Joseph is a nice pick as late as 51. He may not stick but could find a job with another team.

Brooklyn Nets GRADE: D
2 (41) – Tyshawn Taylor
2 (54) – Tornike Shengelia
2 (57) – Ilkan Karaman

The Nets’ grade is based on the trade that sent their 1st rd pick to Portland for Gerald Wallace. Simply put: I’d rather have Harrison Barnes for 4 years than pay for Gerald Wallace for 4 years. I like Wallace, I just believe in the value of the rookie contract in today’s NBA. The Nets will be leaps and bounds better than last year so it is hard to criticize anything they have done this off-season. I do like the aggressiveness of the front office in targeting players in the 2nd rd that they like. I believe that Tyshawn Taylor has the size and skill to be a very good pack-up to Deron Williams once he adjusts to the speed of the league.

Charlotte Bobcats GRADE: A
1 (2) – Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
2 (31) – Jeffrey Taylor

The Bobcats made the right choice at 2. I feel like MKG was the best player for the second pick based on his attitude, work ethic and upside. His ceiling projects as better than Barnes down the road and should provide what the Bobcats have always lacked: drive and leadership. I also liked Taylor in the 2nd as well. Although he plays the same position as Kidd-Gilchrist, his game is very different and they should complement each other.

Chicago Bulls GRADE: A
1 (29) – Marquis Teague

The Bulls, though I hate them, have been phenomenal picking late the last couple years and this year is no different. Teague will play a bit more due to the injury to Derrick Rose and then should settle nicely in behind him. He also allows them some roster flexibility being so close to the luxury line with CJ Watson and John Lucas being free agents. He should provide youth and length in the back-court perhaps allowing Rose to play some SG when the team needs his scoring.

Cleveland Cavaliers GRADE: C-
1 (4) – Dion Waiters
1 (17) – Tyler Zeller

I hated the Waiters pick. I felt he had no business in the top-10, let alone 4th overall. Not that I don’t think he could be a decent player down the road but I just don’t think he showed enough consistency to be such a high pick in such a deep draft. I can’t help but think that they made a big reach here. I had three other SGs rated above Waiters and Barnes was a much better prospect that high. I did like the aggressiveness of going after Tyler Zeller at 17 though. I was very surprised that Zeller fell as he has great hands, is a tough rebounder and runs the floor very well.

Dallas Mavericks GRADE: D
1 (24) – Jared Cunningham
2 (33) – Bernard James
2 (34) – Jae Crowder

Just as I applauded Cleveland’s aggression moving up I did not like Dallas’ moving down (like they always do). Donnie Nelson is completely the opposite of his father as a drafting GM and it is for the worse. Cunningham has good upside but neither of the other guys projects as a potential rotation breaker. Dallas passed on several players that they could have used in order to trade down and take guys that likely won’t make their team. Cunningham has potential but in the end, he is a project.

Denver Nuggets GRADE: B
1 (20) – Evan Fournier
2 (38) – Quincy Miller

Denver went safe and solid with Fournier in the 1st. All reports show that he is a good shooter and enough size to play the off-guard as well as the ability to get to the basket in traffic. The key to their draft was Miller falling to them in the 2nd rd – nothing less than a stroke of luck. Miller is oyung but immensely talented and down the rod he could be the steal of the night. What Denver is going to do with all the players on its roster though will be interesting; they have depth because of the Carmello trade and not enough roster spots for everyone.

Detroit Pistons GRADE: B+
1 (9) – Andre Drummond
2 (39) – Khris Middleton
2 (44) – Kim English

The 1st rd could not have played out any better for the Pistons and getting Andre Drummond. He allows Greg Monre to split time between the front court positions and should provide the weak side defense and shot-blocking that the Pistons have lacked. I did not care for the sit and wait approach in the 2nd rd as Perry Jones and others slid down the 1st rd. I am not sure if the Pistons were trying to move up or not, but they should’ve been. I like the English pick better than the Middleton pick but felt there were better players at those positions (SG & SF) still available.

Golden State Warriors GRADE: A+
1 (7) – Harrison Barnes
1 (30) – Festus Ezeli
2 (35) – Draymond Green
2 (52) – Ognjen Kuzmic

The Warriors had hands-down the best draft. Barnes and Ezeli both slid from where I had projected them and getting Green in the 2nd rd is a steal. Barnes projects somewhere between Sean Elliot and Paul Pierce. He is a smooth player who does everything well and has some clutch to his game. Ezeli has had problems staying healthy and he has never really been coached to play the game. I feel he could be as big a steal as Perry Jones was – I had him in my pre-season top-5 prospects. Draymond Green should provide leadership, toughness and grit in the second unit. Sometimes it is better to be lucky than good but the Warriors are pointed in the right direction after this haul.

Houston Rockets GRADE: A
1 (12) – Jeremey Lamb
1 (16) – Royce White
1 (18) – Terrence Jones
2 (53) – Furkan Aldemar

I love that Houston got sick of being just good enough to miss the playoffs and blew the roster up. Turning Chase Budinger into a 1st rd pick was the rip-off of the year. All four players are talented and will make great rotation guys in the NBA. Jeremy Lamb has talent but could have used a couple more years in school. He is a little small but he is proficient in everything and played on a winner at UConn. Royce White has a little bit of nasty to his game and he provides a toughness to the small forward position and ball-handling to the power forward position. Terrence Jones has the body of a PF and the game of a SF. He has not yet carved out his niche for scouts but his talent is undeniable. Even Furkan Aldemar rated as a possible late 1st rd pick (I had him as the 2nd foreign-born player in the draft) so he was a very good value near the end of the draft. Houston needed a talent infusion and they got one in spades; unfortunately it won’t show in the win column this year.

Indiana Pacers GRADE: D+
1 (26) – Miles Plumlee
2 (36) – Orlando Johnson

I wasn’t shocked at all that Plumlee went at the end of the 1st rd. I predicted it in my final mock. However, it didn’t figure that they’d take him over Perry Jones and Festus Ezeli. Ouch. I love the Orlando Johnson pick though. He has a great upside and has good size for a SG and can score in droves.

Los Angeles Clippers GRADE: N/A
No Picks

The Clippers’ grade is based on the moves that resulted in landing Chris Paul. The picks that once belonged to them were Austin Rivers (traded for Paul) and Fab Melo (their own pick, traded to OKC).

Los Angeles Lakers GRADE: C
2 (55) – Darius Johnson-Odom
2 (60) – Robert Sacre

Mixed feelings on the Lakers’ draft. On one hand they did good in using their picks to dump salary at the deadline; but on the other hand they never should’ve gotten themselves saddled with those contracts. Call it a break-even C, C+ if either of these guys make the team this year.

Memphis Grizzlies GRADE: B
1 (25) – Tony Wroten

A good safe pick. Good talent and a need to boot. Having Wroten and Selby likely seals the exit of OJ Mayo. Wroten’s shot is ugly but he has good size. He should complement Selby who likes to score but is more of a PG sized player. Should make for a talented but frustrating 2nd unit.

Miami Heat GRADE: F
2 (45) – Justin Hamilton

Not a surprise. Pat Riley gets a gift when Arnett Moultrie slides to him and then he gives him away for nothing. Yes Justin Hamilton, you are nothing. Miami did get a future 1st rd pick that they will undoubtedly squander or give away.

Milwaukee Bucks GRADE: A
1 (14) – John Henson
2 (42) – Doron Lamb

A good solid draft. John Hammond plays it safe and gets defensive players to fit his system. It’s not like anyone other than Jennings and Ellis will get to shoot anyways. J Henson has good athleticism and is a solid rebounder and exceptional weak side shot-blocker. Doron Lamb has size and toughness as an NBA 2 and he is a decent shooter.

Minnesota Timberwolves GRADE: F
2 (58) – Robbie Hummel

Chase Budinger. That’s what you have to show for your 1st rd pick. Terrible.

New Orleans Hornets GRADE: A+
1 (1) – Anthony Davis
1 (10) – Austin Rivers
2 (46) – Darius Miller

Anthony Davis was a no-brainer. The Austin Rivers pick was gutsy and I loved it. The kid has so much up-side that he’s the type of player that teams could lament passing on for a decade (looking at you Cleveland, Toronto and Portland). The biggest questions that I had about Rivers were answered at the combine when he measured out around 6’5 which showed that he has legit NBA 2G size. The Miller pick was a good solid pick in the 2nd for a team that needs solid talent, especially on the wings.

New York Knicks GRADE: N/A
No Picks

They landed Carmello Anthony by trading their picks. Hard to argue with getting a superstar.

Oklahoma City Thunder GRADE: A
1 (27) – Perry Jones

Taking what the draft gives you is sometimes the best philosophy. I think PJ3 has the makings of a very good NBA player – I comp him to Clifford Robinson. He is certainly in the perfect environment to achieve. A very good, potentially historic, steal at 27.

Orlando Magic GRADE: B+
1 (19) – Andrew Nicholson
2 (49) – Kyle O’Quinn

Orlando got good players that I liked but I felt like they stayed too safe in the 1st rd of a strong draft. I can’t blame them for taking good, tough players for once though. Nicholson was under-rated this year like LaVoy Allen was last year. I expect he’ll make a solid pro and possibly a good starter down the road. As far as O’Quinn, the biggest adjustment for small college Bigs is the speed of transition in the NBA. If he is athletic enough he should stick – it does appear that he has enough other qualities to make at least a serviceable backup for years to come; I do like his upside to become more though. A really good value at 49.

Philadelphia 76ers GRADE: A
1 (15) – Moe Harkless
1 (27) – Arnett Moultrie

Ripping Miami off is the reason for the high grade. I wasn’t really as high on Harkless but getting Moultrie for a pick in next year’s much weaker class was just brilliant. Harkless had a very unexpected breakout freshman year and he really benefited from it in the draft. Moultrie has bounce and size enough to play the 4 or the 5 in the NBA. He is good enough to become a solid starter but I view him as at least a perfect first Big off the bench on a good team. Philadelphia is really young – well-coached – and really poised to make some noise this year.

Phoenix Suns GRADE: B
1 (13) – Kendall Marshall

I like Kendall Marshall, He is solid but not spectacular, he has good size but not speed. He makes everyone around him better; anyone who questions that just needs to see the team before he was named a starter as a freshman and after the got hurt in the NCAA tourney as a sophomore. Phoenix had better hope he makes their players better because everyone else on the team isn’t that good.

Portland Trailblazers GRADE: B
1 (6) – Damien Lillard
1 (11) – Myers Leonard
2 (48) – Kostas Papanikolaou

I thought they gambled a bit on Lillard – with Drummond still on the board – but I think it will pay off. I like him as a front-runner for ROY thanks to the opportunity he should get right off the bat. I did not care for Leonard at all and I felt it was a reach for need for a guy who was a fringe 2nd rd pick before a good workout at the combine. I think Papanikolaou was a nice grab from NY to stash overseas for awhile.

Sacramento Kings GRADE: A
1 (5) – Thomas Robinson

They stayed back and let the draft come to them nicely and they went safe. For Sacramento that is a good thing. If they a coach that was respected they could make some noise but I don’t think they’ll ever become more than a fun show. I think that Thomas Robinson has the potential to be an above-average starter for 10 years at PF but never ran all-star caliber player. His game should also compliment the game of DeMarcus Cousins down low.

San Antonio Spurs GRADE: C
2 (59) Marcus Denmon

San Antonio had to sacrifice their 1st rd pick to get rid of Richard Jefferson’s deal and I can’t blame them for that. Denmon will probably never play in the NBA.

Toronto Raptors GRADE: D
1 (8) – Terrence Ross
2 (37) – Quincy Acy
2 (56) – Tomislav Zubcic

I loved Terrence Ross as the most under-rated player in the draft, but 8 was way too high. They could have moved down and still gotten him – it also worth noting that they selected him over Austin Rivers. Acy hustles but may never be more than a fringe roster guy and Toronto already has a pretty full front-court.

Utah Jazz GRADE: B+
2 (47) – Kevin Murphy

1st rd pick was traded to Minnesota in the Al Jefferson deal, which I liked. Murphy was a great pick late in the draft. Utah always does a good job in getting value in the 2nd rd, and this year was no different.

Washington Wizards GRADE: A
1 (3) – Bradley Beal
2 (32) – Tomas Satoransky

Beal should step right in for Washington and play a lot; he should be in the ROY race as well. Beal ddoes everything well and was clearly the best at his position in this class. He is athletic, he can shoot, a can create and he hustles – and they have a need for a SG. Satoransky was one of the better foreign born prospects in the draft. A nice draft.