2012 NBA Draft Grades: Western Conference

June 29, 2012

By Luka Papalko, Joe Kotoch, Dan Peyton



Golden State Warriors

#7 – Harrison Barnes (SF, North Carolina), #30 – Festus Ezeli (C, Vanderbilt), #35 – Draymond Green (PF, Michigan State), #52 – Ognjen Kuzmic (C, Malaga)

It's been no secret that the Warriors have been looking to address their need at small forward this entire offseason, and they have to be excited about the fact that Barnes was still available at 7. Along with Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, Barnes gives the Warriors a ton of firepower and spacing along the perimeter, and Andrew Bogut should be afforded more room to operate in the post than he ever had in Milwaukee. Since day one, Mark Jackson has been trying to establish a culture of defense in the bay area, and Festus Ezeli is exactly the kind of big man to help do that. Draymond Green is an underrated playmaker who gives the Warriors some much-needed physicality and versatility on the perimeter, and his attitude and toughness should rub off well on Barnes. Kuzmic is a decent overseas stash, a strong 7-footer who could eventually become insurance for Bogut if his injury woes continue.

Grade – A-


Los Angeles Clippers

#53 – Furkan Aldemir (PF, Galatasaray)

Just 20 years old, Aldemir is a very good rebounder who will be given time to develop more of his post game overseas. Still, this pick feels like a money-saving cop-out by notoriously cheap owner Donald Sterling; the Clips need backcourt help and Darius Johnson-Odom, Marcus Denmon, and other dynamic guards were still on the board.

Grade – C-


Los Angeles Lakers

#55 - Darius Johnson-Odom (SG, Marquette) #60 – Robert Sacre (C, Gonzaga)

Robert Sacre is a low-risk, low-reward pick that can't really be criticized at the draft's finale. Meanwhile, Johnson-Odom was a very good pick-up via trade at #55. DJO doesn't have ideal size but is the definition of a basketball player and gets it done on the basketball court.

Grade – B


Phoenix Suns

#13 – Kendall Marshall (PG, North Carolina)

This would've been a more perfect fit for Phoenix if a player like Marshall had come along 2-3 years ago, when the Suns had more offensive options to get him going, and a locked-up Steve Nash to mentor him. They got the guy they wanted, but if Nash leaves, Marshall is sure to go through some growing pains as the quarterback of such a mediocre offense.

Grade – B-


Sacramento Kings

#5 – Thomas Robinson (PF, Kansas)

The Kings ended up getting perhaps the 2nd-best player in the draft without having to trade ahead, so in many regards, Robinson is a steal here. Pairing him with DeMarcus Cousins gives the Kings a menacing frontcourt that'll be needed to go toe-to-toe with the two Los Angeles teams in this division. There's a bit of a question regarding how willing Cousins will be to move to the Center position full-time, and Orlando Johnson probably would've been an upgrade over Jimmer Fredette in terms of bench scoring, but at the end of the night the Kings had as good a draft as they could've hoped for.

Grade – A



Dallas Mavericks

#24 – Jared Cunningham (SG, Oregon State), #33 – Bernard James (C, Florida State), #34 – Jae Crowder (SF, Marquette)

The Mavericks started out the night with 2 picks but came away with 3 players when it was all said and done when they traded down in the 1st round. With their 1st round pick, they ended up selecting the very athletic combo guard from Oregon State, Jared Cunningham. Cunningham was viewed as a mid-2nd round pick, so seeing him get picked in the early 20’s was a bit of a surprise. Cunningham played some SG in college but some see him as a potential PG in the NBA. With their two 2nd round picks the Mavericks got two tough, hard-nosed, high intangible basketball players. James, who is 27 years old, is a great story after serving 6 years in the Air Force. He will be able to provide the Mavericks with strong defender next to Dirk Nowitzki, which is something they lacked last year. Crowder was a do-it-all player for Marquette last year, playing the PF position despite measuring in at SG size at the Draft Combine.

Grade – C


Houston Rockets

#12 – Jeremy Lamb (SG, Connecticut), #16 – Royce White (PF, Iowa State), #18 – Terrence Jones (PF, Kentucky)

The Rockets were viewed as a team that could potentially make a move for a high pick or a high profile player but ultimately, and surprisingly, stayed at all 3 picks. With their 1st pick in the late lottery, the Rockets opted for the Jeremy Lamb, who is a smooth athlete and can really score. With Kevin Martin potentially departing, whether it’s via trade or free agency, this pick could have been made looking towards the future for the Rockets. Their next two picks were spent on similar players: versatile, perimeter oriented power forwards. White and Jones are both extremely talented and good picks where the Rockets got them but they seem redundant, especially with several PF’s already on the roster.

Grade – B-


Memphis Grizzlies

#25 – Tony Wroten Jr. (PG, Washington) The Grizzlies entered Thursday night with only one draft pick but came out of it with one of the more talented players in the draft. Concerns about Wroten’s jump shots and his true position at the next level but that didn’t scare the Grizzlies away from taking him. The Grizzlies were looking to add a backup point guard and someone who could score coming off the bench, which is exactly what Wroten will provide. His upside is very high and he has the chance to develop into a very good guard down the road.

Grade – B+


New Orleans Hornets

#1 – Anthony Davis (PF, Kentucky), #10 – Austin Rivers (SG, Duke), #46 – Darius Miller (SF, Kentucky)

Whenever a team has a chance to draft a talent like Anthony Davis #1 overall that automatically makes it a good draft. On top of that, the Hornets were able to get a couple of very good players with their other picks, making this draft one of the best in the NBA. There isn’t much left to be said about Anthony Davis. Simply, he’s a franchise cornerstone and an immediate impact player. The real interesting part of this draft is the Hornets taking Duke guard Austin Rivers at #10, in hopes of making him a point guard. Head Coach Monty Williams really thinks that Rivers and Eric Gordon, assuming he re-signs, can work in the backcourt together. Both players are ball dominant guards and neither has too much experience setting up others on a consistent basis which means it’ll make up an intriguing backcourt combination. In the 2nd round, the Hornets drafted Davis’ Kentucky teammate, Darius Miller. Miller will play a similar role in the NBA as he did at Kentucky: do the dirty work, knock down open shots and play good defense.

Grade – A


San Antonio Spurs

#59 – Marcus Denmon (SG, Missouri)

The Spurs were quiet throughout Draft night, which is expected when their only pick was #59 overall. The Spurs ended up with Missouri wing, Marcus Denmon, who had a good college career and projects to be a solid role player in the NBA. What the Spurs do better than any team is finding role players that fit well around their core and putting them in positions to succeed. Denmon is a good shooter and should be able to succeed in San Antonio.

Grade – B-



Denver Nuggets

#20 – Evan Fournier (SG, Poiters), #38 – Quincy Miller (SF, Baylor), #50 – Izzet Turkilmaz (C, Banvit)

What is not to like about what Denver is doing. Already young and full of assets the Nuggets continued to stockpile talent. Fournier was seen by some as being a mid-first talent. At 19, Fournier can stay in France, he plays in the top division, and develop for another year or two and then come to Denver. Miller may end up being a steal at 38, if not the whole draft. The talent SF slipped but concerns about his freshman season were attributable to his ACL injury. Either way great pick by the Nuggets. Denver decided to go obscure with the pick at 50, Turkyilmaz has NBA size and can shoot. Worth taking a flier there.

Grade – A


Minnesota Timberwolves

#58 – Robbie Hummel

The Timberwolves biggest move came before draft night, when they elected to trade away their 18th pick for Chase Budinger. The Wolves wanted a wing that could contribute right away and were more comfortable with Budinger than any more that they could potentially get at #18. Whether or not that’s the right choice, it remains to be seen, but the Timberwolves are looking to compete now and the move was a step in that direction. Taking Robbie Hummel with the #58 pick was a good move. They got a very productive, fundamentally sound player in Hummel, who will be able to do a lot of different things for them.

Grade – C+

Oklahoma City Thunder

#28 – Perry Jones III (PF, Baylor)

Why does it seem that Sam Presti always comes out a winner on draft night? It’s not enough that he drafted Durant, Westbrook, Harden, and Ibaka but now he has Perry Jones fall into his lap. Despite a knee concern, Jones is a perfect fit in OKC where his ability to score and face the basket will give the Thunder an added dimension offensively that they currently lack. Also, worth noting that Jones could eventually replace Ibaka if the Thunder opt to re-sign James Harden over Ibaka.

Grade – A+


Portland Trail Blazers

#6 – Damian Lillard (PG, Weber State), #11 –Meyers Leonard (C, Illinois), #40 – Will Barton (SG, Memphis)

Portland ultimately kept 3 of its 4 picks and addressed their main needs. With LaMarcus Aldridge and Nicolas Batum entrenched Leonard and Lillard should see the court right away. Barton could be a great scorer off the bench and his length could be a tough adjustment when he is in for Wesley Matthews. Lillard was the consensus top PG and is a talented scorer, who will play with a chip on his shoulder. Leonard has arguable more upside than any other center not named Andre Drummond. The legit 7-footer will make a smooth transition defensively and on the glass.

Grade – A-


Utah Jazz

#47 – Kevin Murphy (SG, Tenessee Tech)

Murphy epitomizes the type of player Kevin O’Connors likes. Murphy has tremendous length and is a very good shooter and scorer and should provide immediate depth in Utah. Murphy needs to get stronger but could possibly play some SF as well.

Grade – B-