2012 NBA Draft
Image: Mel Evans/AP Photo
By: Dustin Dietz
1. Anthony Davis-Kentucky-New Orleans Hornets
The 6’10” PF/C is the elite player in the 2012 NBA Draft. The freshman won the Wooden Award as the nation’s top college basketball player last season and helped lead the Wildcats to the national championship in April. The Unibrow averaged a double double (14 points, 10 rebounds) and set the SEC single season block record. Davis is the type of transcendent player who can turn the fortunes of a franchise around immediately.
2. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist-Kentucky-Charlotte Bobcats
With this selection, two players from the same school were drafted 1-2 for the first time in league history. The 6’7” athletic forward loves to attack the basket, and can also shoot from the perimeter. Kidd-Gilchrist only averaged 12 points a game, but that’s only because he played on an incredibly talented team with many scoring options. The Bobcats hope Kidd-Gilchrist can help improve a team which set the record for lowest winning percentage in NBA history in 2011-2012 (7-59).
3. Bradley Beal-Florida-Washington Wizards
The 6’4” guard would have won SEC Freshman of the Year in most seasons, but with Kentucky’s Diaper Dandy All-Star lineup last season, Beal had no chance of winning that award. Beal loves to attack off the dribble and has been compared to Ray Allen and Eric Gordon despite his 33% shooting percentage beyond the arc last year. Beal averaged 15 points a game for the Gators.
4. Dion Waiter-Syracuse-Cleveland Cavaliers
The sophomore Waiters did not start one game in college, but averaged starter minutes for the Orange. Waiters won the Big East 6th Man of the Year last season. He should complement last year’s number one overall pick Kyrie Irving quite nicely.
5. Thomas Robinson-Kansas-Sacramento Kings
The 6’8” junior is the reigning Big 12 Player of the Year and led the Jayhawks to an unlikely Final Four appearance last season. Robinson had 27 double doubles in 2011-2012 and averaged 15 rebounds every 40 minutes. Not only can Robinson explode to the basket, but he can also shoot well from the perimeter. The Kings were thrilled when Robinson fell to them at 5.
6. Damian Lillard-Weber State-Portland Trail Blazers
Lillard is the small school player many have never heard of, but every NBA fan will know who Lillard is very soon. Lillard is the two-time Big Sky Player of the Year and was second in the nation in scoring last season. He didn’t play against great competition, but he is quick and can create his own shot.
7. Harrison Barnes-North Carolina-Golden State Warriors
The 6’8” sophomore averaged 17 points a game and has an incredible 38 inch vertical leap. Barnes can shoot from the outside, but needs to improve his footwork.
8. Terrence Ross-Washington-Toronto Raptors
Ross shot up the draft boards as mock drafts last month had Ross going to the Mavericks at 17. The 6’7” sophomore is an excellent shooter and can play in transition too. Ross averaged 25 points per game in the 2012 NIT and is an above average defender.
9. Andre Drummond-Connecticut-Detroit Pistons
Andre Drummond is a freakish athlete at 6’11” with a standing reach over 9 feet. Drummond has the potential to block a ton of shots, but the rumor is Drummond has the propensity to drift through games and is softer than the inside of a Twinkie. The freshman shot FT’s last year at a pathetic 29.5%. Drummond must improve his energy to be an effective center in the NBA.
10. Austin Rivers-Duke-New Orleans Hornets
The 6’5” freshman was drafted 29 years to the day his father, Doc Rivers, was drafted. Rivers is a score first PG, but must learn to distribute the ball with Anthony Davis now on his team. Rivers is said to have an ego the size of some large islands, and must learn to become a better defender. The freshman averaged 15.5 points per game at Duke. With a little humility, Davis could be a stud.
11. Meyers Leonard-Illinois-Portland Trail Blazers
The Blazers hope their second lottery selection becomes the franchise center Greg Oden was never able to become. Leonard is 7’1” 250 pounds and averaged 14 points per game while shooting 58% from the field for the Illini. If Leonard fails to develop into a productive player, Portland may never draft a center again.
12. Jeremy Lamb-Connecticut-Houston Rockets
The 6’5” sophomore is a great shooter and has an excellent mid-range jumper. Lamb was voted First-Team All-Big East last season while averaging 18 points per game. Lamb’s durability needs to be questioned as he weighs a diminutive 179 pounds. He must bulk up if he wants to survive the physically exhausting NBA season.
13. Kendall Marshall-North Carolina-Phoenix Suns
Marshall is a pass first point guard and has phenomenal speed in transition. The sophomore is not a wonderful shooter, but he has an uncanny ability to create. The drafting of Marshall might signal the end of the Steve Nash era in Phoenix.
14. John Henson-North Carolina-Milwaukee Bucks
Henson is the two-time ACC Defensive Player of the Year. The 6’11” power forward has a wing span of 7’6” and averaged 3 blocks per game last season. Henson is not just a defensive star as he averaged a double double for the Tar Heels last year.
15. Maurice Harkless-St. John’s-Philadelphia 76ers
The 6’8” freshman forward was the Big East Freshman of the year last season. Harkless is the opposite of Andre Drummond as he is described as a relentless worker. He averaged 16 points and 8 rebounds per game for the Red Storm. Harkless has one of the higher ceilings in the draft.
16. Royce White-Iowa State-Houston Rockets
White is 6’8” power forward that people feel plays the game like Charles Barkley. He was First Team All-Big 12 last year. Part of White’s problem is he has social anxiety disorder and has a huge fear of flying. White must overcome his fear and learn to become a better defender around the perimeter.
17. Tyler Zeller-North Carolina-Dallas Mavericks (Traded to Cleveland Cavaliers)
Zeller is the reigning ACC Player of the Year. The 7’0” center played four years at UNC and improved in all statistical categories every season. Zeller can run the floor well for a big man and has an excellent jump hook shot. Zeller can rebound on both ends, defend, and block shots. The Mavs traded Zeller to the Cleveland Cavaliers for the 24th, 33rd, and 34th picks.
18. Terrence Jones-Kentucky-Houston Rockets
The 6’8” sophomore forward averaged 16 points and 9 rebounds per game with the talent rich Wildcats Jones is described as a versatile player with a relentless tenacity while on the floor. The former Wildcat shot 50% from the floor as a freshman and 44% as a sophomore. He must improve his 64% free throw percentage.
19. Andrew Nicholson-St. Bonaventure-Orlando Magic
Nicholson is a 6’9” long, athletic player from Ontario, Canada. He can attack the glass, but only averaged 8 rebounds per game in 2011-2012. He does have an effective back to the basket game and averaged 18 points for the Bonnies. He has a 7’4” wing span and can play center. The Mavericks are said to have been interested in drafting Nicholson at 17.
20. Evan Fournier-France-Denver Nuggets
Fournier was the first European drafted in 2012. He is a 6’7” 19 year old guard who has the ability to get to the rim off the dribble at will, but that was in France. His game is compared to Boris Diaw.
21. Jared Sullinger-Ohio State-Boston Celtics
Some feel Sullinger stayed one year too long at Ohio State. He was the 2010-2011 Big Ten MVP and Freshman of the Year. He had a similar sophomore year as he averaged 17 points and 9 boards last season. The 6’9” forward has a wing span over 7 feet, but is considered a below average defender. Sullinger fell in the draft due to medical concerns about his back. His father has refuted the medical issues.
22. Fab Melo-Syracuse-Boston Celtics
With their second consecutive pick, the Celtics chose the 7’0” center who was ruled academically ineligible just before the beginning of the NCAA Tournament. Melo’s suspension essentially ended the Orange’s title chances. The sophomore was the Big East Defensive Player of the Year last season while averaging 3 blocks per game. Melo’s offensive game needs to be questioned as he only averaged 8 points per game last year for the Orange.
23. John Jenkins-Vanderbilt-Atlanta Hawks
The 6’4” guard was believed by some to be the best shooter available in the draft. He is described as having unlimited range, but he is not near the athlete most of the players drafted ahead of him are.
24. Jared Cunningham-Oregon State-Cleveland Cavaliers (Traded to Dallas Mavericks)
The 6’5” junior guard is described by experts as a poor man’s Russell Westbrook Cunningham averaged 18 points per game and can play both guard positions, but the Mavs envision him as a 2. The junior will have to hit the weight room if he wants to handle the physical grind of a NBA season as he weighs just 194 pounds, while having just 3% body fat. Cunningham averaged 18 points per game his last season with the Beavers.
25. Tony Wroten Jr.-Washington-Memphis Grizzlies
The 6’6” freshman point guard is an excellent passer, but can play erratic at times. He will have to learn to not play as loose with the ball if he wants to play extended minutes.
26. Miles Plumlee-Duke-Indiana Pacers
Miles was one of three Plumlee brothers to play at Duke. He is a freak athlete for a player at 6’11”. During Duke’s 2009-2010 NCAA championship season, Plumlee averaged 5 points and 4 rebounds per game. Things did not change much Plumlee’s senior year as he sat most of his senior season on the bench while averaging 5 points and 5 boards.
27. Arnett Moultrie-Mississippi State-Miami Heat (Traded to Philadelphia 76ers)
The 2011-2012 First Team All-SEC selection is a hard working 6’10” forward who shot 44% behind the arc, excellent for a player his size. After transferring from UTEP, Moultrie improved his offensive game and averaged a double double last year.
28. Perry Jones III-Baylor-Oklahoma City Thunder
Jones helped lead the Bears to the Elite 8 last year while averaging 14 points and 7 rebounds per game. Jones has excellent size at 6’11” and loves to attack the rim. The former Baylor star fell out of the lottery because he was reported to have chronic knee problems. With Oklahoma City already sporting a young roster full of talent, Jones could not have ended up in a better situation.
29. Marquis Teague-Kentucky-Chicago Bulls
With star Derrick Rose suffering a torn ACL in May, the Bulls thought it best to draft an insurance policy in Marquis Teague. The 6’2” freshman guard was the 4th Kentucky player drafted in the first round. Teague loves to run in transition, and can shoot the rock as he shot 41% his only year with the Cats. Teague averaged 10 points and 5 assists last season with the champs.
30. Festus Ezeli-Vanderbilt-Golden State Warriors
The 6’11” center hails from Nigeria and graduated high school at the age of 14. People at Vandy praise Ezeli for his intelligence, not that his brains will help translate into NBA success, but it couldn’t hurt. Ezeli averaged 10 points, 6 rebounds, and 2 blocks per game last year for the Commodores.
New Orleans Hornets
The Hornets have experienced some tough times the last few years, but on draft night the fortunes of their franchise might have turned completely around. Not only did the team land the primo prospect in Davis, but they drafted a guy who has the potential to become the next Chris Paul in Rivers with the 10th pick. The Hornets also added Davis’ teammate at Kentucky Darius Miller in the 2nd Round. Miller will never be a star, but with his lethal stroke from beyond the arc and gritty play, he has the ability to become a usable role player. The Mavs already have a tough time playing in The Big Easy, but the trips might have become more difficult for many years to come after draft night.
Kentucky Wildcats and North Carolina Tar Heels
As if these two schools needed anymore potency in recruiting future high school studs. The defending national champion Wildcats had six players drafted Thursday night, including the first two picks. North Carolina had four players drafted, all in the top 20. Yes, these schools produce NBA talent.
I realize the Rockets had three first round picks, but all of the players they drafted have issues. Royce White might not ever be able to play a game outside of Houston once he travels there. The Rockets are rumored to be trying to trade for Dwight Howard and sign Deron Williams, but I am not sure any of these picks will help them obtain either one of them. I like Terrence Jones, but the Rockets already have a similar player in Patrick Patterson on their roster.
I am not sure if Jerry Jones was conducting the draft for the Mavs, but it sure seemed like it. I have never been a fan of trading down in a draft to acquire more picks, but Jerry certainly is. After draft night, it appeared the Mavs were fans of trading down as well as they traded the 17th pick, which turned out to be Tyler Zeller, to the Cleveland Cavaliers for the 24th, 33rd, and 34th picks in the draft.
My belief is to draft the best player available and hope the player works out. By trading down, one might be drafting more players, but the players are not as talented as the player one would have drafted had the team just stayed in the original spot. Quality always beat quantity. Remember when Jerry and the Cowboys traded down in 2004 to receive more picks because they thought Steven Jackson was not much better than Julius Jones? I know basketball is different than football, but the same holds true.
Cunningham has the ability to be a decent player, but I think Perry Jones, Jared Sullinger, and Arnett Moultrie would have been wiser selections at 24.
Pick #33 in the second round turned out to be a 6’10” center from Florida State named Bernard James. James is a physical big man, but has little to zero offensive game. Oh, and he is 27 years old because he spent 6 years in the Air Force before enrolling at Florida State.
The 34th pick was the reigning Big East Player of the Year Jae Crowder from Marquette. Crowder, a 6’6” power forward, is also described as a tough, physical player with some offensive skills. Crowder averaged 18 points and 8 rebounds his senior season with the Golden Eagles.
The Mavericks decided to go with experienced college players as all of the players they drafted played at least two years of major college basketball, but that does not always translate into success in the pro game. However, if all three of the players are playing minutes for the team next season, the Mavs are in serious trouble.
I was very underwhelmed by the Mavs draft. If Dallas fails to sign Deron Williams when free agency begins next week, management has a lot of work to do in the off season to improve the squad because the 2012 draft might have only improved their D-League team.
Also, the Mavs are working on a trade with the Clippers to send Lamar Odom back to his preferred domicile in LA. Why the Clippers would even want Lamar Odom after what he did last season, is beyond me.
Follow Dustin Dietz on Twitter @DustinDietz18