July 6, 2012
By Dan Peyton
The pick: 23, John Jenkins, SG, Vanderbilt
Available: Tony Wroten Jr, Marquis Teague, Will Barton, Arnett Moultrie, Perry Jones III
By the end of the season, the Hawks were relying on Kirk Hinrich, Tracy McGrady, and Erick Dampier for bench production, so almost any player taken at this point would've been a worthy attempt to bolster their reserve unit, but Jenkins comes without as much upside as many other players who were still on the board at 23. It would've been fun to see what Perry Jones could've brought to "The Highlight Factory", and having Teague back up his brother at the point would seem to make sense from a teaching standpoint. But Atlanta usually plays it safe in the draft, and with Jenkins, you're getting a reliable catch-and-shoot player who can space the floor and won't take shots away from Joe Johnson or Josh Smith.
Update: The recent trade of Joe Johnson to the Nets for a scrap heap of ancillary parts would suggest that perhaps Atlanta had bigger plans for Jenkins, as he's now in the driver's seat to start at shooting guard from the outset. However, if the Hawks' front office knew they were on the verge of dumping Johnson, the need for a more multi-dimensional wing player should've been of more importance, in which case either Wroten or Barton would've been far better picks.
The pick: 43, Mike Scott, PF, Virginia
Available: Scott Machado, Darius Miller, Kevin Jones, Drew Gordon
There might've been more talented players on the board, but the Hawks got the player with the most NBA-ready offensive game among this group. Scott should be able to come in and contribute from Day 1, and that's a pretty solid outcome for any pick in the 40's.
Update: Another recent trade has cleared a potential road block to Scott's path to playing time, as Marvin Williams was sent to Utah in exchange for Devin Harris. It's likely that the hard-working, better-shooting Scott would've eventually pushed Williams for minutes anyway, but now he might already be the team's most talented forward not named Josh Smith. The new-look Hawks might not be done dealing, but in any case, Mike Scott could be a darkhorse to garner All-Rookie honors in '12-13.
The pick: 21, Jared Sullinger, PF, Ohio State and 22, Fab Melo, C, Syracuse
Available: Perry Jones III, Arnett Moultrie, Marquis Teague, Tony Wroten Jr.
These picks speak a lot to just how badly Boston felt the need to upgrade their big man depth. Going forward, it's hard to gauge just how much the C's can expect to get from Jeff Green, and PJIII might've been an opportunity to cover their tracks on that front while getting a potential star player in the process. Additionally, Tony Wroten could probably provide all the things Avery Bradley brings to the table while posing a bigger threat to defenses. The old cliche, "Go big, or go home" seems to perfectly fit the mentality behind Boston's draft strategy this year.
The pick: 51, Kris Joseph, SF, Syracuse
Available: Scott Machado, Darius Johnson-Odom, Kevin Jones, Drew Gordon
The Celtics had worked out Gordon, but with Sullinger and Melo already on board, they had little need for yet another rookie in the post. This pick came amidst a run on international players, but Boston very rarely looks overseas in the draft. Joseph represents a nice scoring option off the bench who won't need the ball until he's shooting, and he has the size and athleticism to become a decent defender on a team that won't let him coast at that end of the floor.
The pick: 41, Tyshawn Taylor, PG, Kansas
Available: Doron Lamb, Darius Miller
After reports earlier in the evening that the Bulls were set to take Taylor at 29, it's a bit of a surprise he fell this far, and the Nets needed a point guard regardless of the Deron Williams situation. While Lamb's shooting ability might've been a more natural fit alongside D-Will, Taylor is the better all-around talent, and he should bring a ton of pride and work ethic with his return to the metro area.
The pick: 57, Ilkan Karaman, PF, Turkey
Available: Scott Machado, Robbie Hummel, Marcus Denmon, Robert Sacre
With one of the last picks in the draft, Brooklyn decided to stash the Turkish lefty from overseas, who scouts say has plus athleticism and can even step back to shoot the 3. With the boatloads of cash set aside for Williams, the Nets simply didn't need to be saddled with another guaranteed contract and roster spot this late in the draft.
The pick: 2, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SF, Kentucky
Available: Bradley Beal, Thomas Robinson, Andre Drummond, Harrison Barnes
The first surprise of the draft was only surprising because Michael Jordan and co. actually made the right decision. It could be argued that Beal is a better prospect, and from a statistics perspective, it's possible that MKG will have the least impressive numbers among the lottery's top tier. But Charlotte needed a player capable of stepping in and changing the culture of the team, and Kidd-Gilchrist is a proven winner who Charlotte can build its entire roster around. John Calipari said after the draft that Michael "will never get used to it" in reference to losing games, and that's the kind of attitude that the other Michael in the organization should find admirable.
The pick: 31, Jeff Taylor, G/F, Vanderbilt
Available: Will Barton, Draymond Green, Jae Crowder, Tyshawn Taylor
The Bobcats really struggled to score last season, and to date, their brief draft history has produced only three players with career double-digit scoring averages. Taylor could become the fourth as early as next season, as his size, versatility, and improved 3-point stroke should add up to a heavily-utilized role for him even if he doesn't start right away. One could even see him playing some point forward in an intriguing lineup alongside Kidd-Gilchrist and Gerald Henderson, in which Charlotte would finally be able to feature some previously-lacking size out on the perimeter.
The pick: 29, Marquis Teague, PG, Kentucky
Available: Tyshawn Taylor, Will Barton
Reports earlier in the day claimed Chicago was set to pick Tyshawn Taylor, who has more experience and size than Teague, and is a better outside shooter. Both players can make some bad decisions at times, and perhaps Teague's youth was enough to make the Bulls think that he has more potential to grow as a floor general than Taylor, who should've been expected to be much less turnover-prone by now. It also couldn't hurt that, like Derrick Rose, Teague comes from John Calipari's system, in which he showed a similar ability to Rose to get in the lane quickly and make the defense react to him. While he won't make anybody in Chicago forget the limited potential of the team while Rose is hurt, there are enough veterans familiar with the offense to help Teague's learning curve through the early months of the season. With CJ Watson not likely to be brought back, Marquis will be heavily relied upon from the get-go, and his play early on could have a major impact on whether or not the Bulls can remain in contention without their best player. This is a tall order for a rookie point guard, but Teague is no stranger to playing with and against NBA-level talent, and the fact that he'll be learning on the court rather than from the bench will be a good thing in the long run.
The pick: 4, Dion Waiters, SG, Syracuse
Available: Thomas Robinson, Harrison Barnes, Andre Drummond, Jeremy Lamb
All the pre-draft hype surrounding Waiters finally came to a head when the Cavs made him their selection with the draft's fourth pick. It's admirable that Cleveland continues to go against popular opinion and stay true to their draft board, but it's hard to argue that Waiters was anywhere near the fourth-best player in this draft, and it's not as if their roster is just overflowing with talent at other positions where better players were available. For instance, Robinson would've been a solid double-double candidate next to Tristan Thompson, whose game he compliments well, and both Barnes and Lamb would appear to be better spot-up shooters for Kyrie Irving to find in the half court. Waiters is better at creating his own offense than any of these other prospects, but when you already have a point guard like Irving, that ability would appear to be more luxury than necessity. This pick could very well prove to be a home run if the supremely confident Waiters is able to come right out of the gates and be the 2nd backcourt scorer that Cleveland so desperately needs, but if he struggles early, there's going to inevitably be a lot of noise that the Cavs out-thunk themselves in this draft.
The pick: 17, Tyler Zeller, C, North Carolina
Available: Terrence Jones, Jared Sullinger, Arnett Moultrie
Cleveland went all-in on Zeller here, trading their picks at 24, 33, and 34 to Dallas for the rights to the Tar Heels' big man. Zeller was arguably the most polished offensive big in this draft, and his ability to score down low should compliment the more physical, defensive game of Tristan Thompson. Coming out of Roy Williams' up-tempo system, Zeller is no stranger to getting out in transition and offering a good target for finishing plays on the break, something that Irving will no doubt embrace on this offensively-challenged roster. Arnett Moultrie lasting til 27th overall suggests that Zeller was the last remaining "top tier" post player, and though the price paid to get him was steep, Cavs fans shouldn't be disappointed.
The pick: 24, Jared Cunningham, G, Oregon State
Available: Scott Machado, Darius-Johnson Odom, Tyshawn Taylor, Will Barton, Tony Wroten Jr, Marquis Teague, Jeff Taylor
Given the litany of comparable guard prospects available at this point, it'd appear as though the Mavs put a premium on getting elite athleticism here, and who could blame them? Coming off a season in which the average age of Dallas' four main backcourt contributors-- Delonte West, Jason Kidd, Jason Terry, and VInce Carter-- was an ancient 34, this was a team in major need of some spry legs. Cunningham's explosive all-around game proved to be the trump card over the versatility of Barton and Jeff Taylor, and his quick first step should make him a more dangerous penetrator than the other Taylor. His jumper, while not perfect, is still better than Wroten's, and he has a more proven track record than Teague. Scott Machado's court vision might've made him the perfect player for Kidd to eventually pass the torch to, but it's since become obvious that New York's finest PG wasn't high on any team's draft board.
The pick: 33, Bernard James, C, Florida State and 34, Jae Crowder, F, Marquette
Available: Quincy Miller, Quincy Acy, Kyle O'Quinn, Draymond Green, Orlando Johnson
As evidenced by these two picks, the overall theme for Dallas' draft could best be summed up in one word: energy. It's a bit surprising that the Mavs opted for Crowder over Quincy Miller here, and the younger Baylor forward could probably have learned a lot by mimicking Shawn Marion's all-court versatility, but perhaps those knee issues were the deciding factor in taking a pass on him. In Crowder, Dallas got a proven warrior who probably won't be too discouraged by a lack of shot attempts, and the same could be said for Bernard James, whose physicality and shot-blocking presence should make Ian Mahinmi expendable. Some have argued that Dallas didn't maximize talent with their three picks last week, but it's not a stretch to envision all three players factoring into what should be an improved rotation to compete against what's becoming a superiorly athletic Western Conference.
The pick: 20, Evan Fournier, SG, France
Available: Tony Wroten Jr, Will Barton, Perry Jones III
The uncertainty surrounding Wilson Chandler's pending free agency could leave a major hole on the wing for the Nuggets, so it's a good thing for them that Fournier appears intent on coming in from overseas and playing right away. By most accounts, the lengthy shooting guard was a stud in France's first division in '11-12, no small feat considering his youth. Still, Barton is a better scorer and shooter, and just a year older than his French counterpart, so it's a bit of a head-scratcher that Denver didn't make him their selection in the first round.
The pick: 38, Quincy Miller, SF, Baylor
Available: Khris Middleton, Darius Miller
Miller's ridiculous slide finally ended at 38, when he was without question the most talented player still on the board. Knee issues or not, Quincy Miller would appear to complete a young frontcourt quartet alongside Faried, Gallinari, and the rejuvenated Javale McGee that'd give Denver incredible lineup versatility in their fast-paced system. Corey Brewer has been a pleasant surprise with his contributions off George Karl's bench, but the ability to feature the far-more-dangerous offensive talents of Miller in that role could pay huge dividends for a team that was already the highest-scoring outfit in the league.
The pick: 50, Izzet Turkyilmaz, PF, Turkey
Available: Kevin Jones, Drew Gordon, Robbie Hummel
By this point, the Nuggets already had a plethora of talent at the forward positions, so nothing wrong with stashing a 7-footer with a good face-up game overseas for a few years.
The pick: 9, Andre Drummond, C, Connecticut
Available: Meyers Leonard, John Henson, Tyler Zeller, Royce White
People had been saying for days that John Henson was the Pistons' target at number 9, but it appears that the allure of pairing a potential franchise center with Greg Monroe was just too much upside to pass on in the top 10. For all the doubts about Drummond's motor and somewhat raw offensive game, most would agree that Detroit could end up being the perfect landing spot for his talents. The interior passing ability and defensive attention paid to Monroe will help ease the need for Andre to become a go-to scorer right away, and in the meantime, his defense would appear to project just as high, if not better than Henson's if he remains motivated. Zeller's scoring ability might've addressed more of an immediate need, but if Drummond can even end up reaching, say 75% of his potential, it would appear the Pistons would have a pair of cornerstone big men to build around for the next decade.
The pick: 39, Khris Middleton, SF, Texas A&M
Available: Will Barton, Doron Lamb, Mike Scott, Kevin Murphy, Kris Joseph
This pick doesn't make a lot of sense. With Austin Daye, Jonas Jerebko, Charlie Villanueva, and Tayshaun Prince, Detroit already has a logjam of small forwards, and that's without even mentioning the recent acquisition of Corey Maggette. In addition to that, giving up Ben Gordon in the Maggette deal has left the Pistons with a combined backcourt scoring output of barely 31 points per game. How does a former shooting guard like Joe Dumars fail to address that position as GM when both Barton and Lamb could've started right away at the 2?
The pick: 44, Kim English, SG, Missouri
Available: Darius Jonhson-Odom
If Detroit was asleep at the wheel for the 39th pick, they made up for it five picks later by taking a player who could be the next Rip Hamilton. Kim English has evolved into an incredibly efficient mid-range shooter whose size will enable the Pistons' multiple-point guard lineups to become a thing of the past, and is probably what put him ahead of Johnson-Odom on Detroit's board.
The pick: 7, Harrison Barnes, SF, North Carolina
Available: Jeremy Lamb, Austin Rivers, Andre Drummond
Golden State's supposed interest in Dion Waiters might've served as an effective smoke screen that steered the Cavs away from drafting Kyrie Irving's good friend, Harrison Barnes at number 4. Whatever the case, the Warriors seem to have made the right decision by getting the sweet-shooting Barnes at 7th overall, and he should provide an immediate impact as their starting small forward. The emergence of Klay Thompson at the 2 probably put to rest any possibility of taking Lamb here, even though he's a better defender with more length than Barnes. At the end of the day, Barnes's tantalizing athleticism was probably enough to convince Mark Jackson that he could mature into an effective defender, and they didn't need the potential controversy that might've resulted in taking Drummond here before Andrew Bogut has even played a single game for his new team.
The pick: 30, Festus Ezeli, C, Vanderbilt
Available: Bernard James, Drew Gordon, Kevin Jones
After Ezeli, the drop-off among centers was a steep one, so Golden State did well here by taking the aggressive Nigerian who's built like a tank to finish the first round. Ezeli will back up Andrew Bogut at center, and if Bogut's injury woes continue, Festus might find himself in a starting role by the midway point of the season. To this point, Ezeli's underwhelming rebounding ability is inexcusable, and he'll need to work at that going forward, but his ability to defend the paint is something the Warriors have been lacking for a long time, and his impact at that end should be noticed right away.
The pick: 35, Draymond Green, SF, Michigan State
Available: Quincy Miller, Darius Miller, Orlando Johnson, Jae Crowder
The Warriors did well here in acquiring the most talented remaining forward not named Quincy Miller. While Miller projects as a better scorer at the NBA level, Green's more well-rounded game could make him a valuable glue guy in the bay area for years to come. He's also a great leader and teammate, and his presence could help push Harrison Barnes to realize his potential. Green would also project as Golden State's most versatile and physical defender on the perimeter, which is something they've lacked among their bevy of one-dimensional shooters at the position in years' past.
The pick: 52, Ongjen Kuzmic, C, Bosnia
Available: Robert Sacre, Garrett Stutz, Drew Gordon
One of the last picks in the draft, Kuzmic is a 7'1'' shot-blocker who can occasionally dominate the paint, and is worth keeping an eye on. Since the pick wasn't expected to pay immediate dividends anyway, it might've been worth their while to take a flier on Stutz here, whose offensive game really came on in 2012, and he too can block shots at a decent rate with his size and length.
The pick: 12, Jeremy Lamb, SG, Connecticut
Available: John Henson, Moe Harkless
The Rockets were expected to be the biggest movers in the draft thanks to a couple trades earlier in the week that positioned the team with three picks in the 2nd ten. Even though they weren't able to put together a package to secure a top-10 pick, the fact that they got Lamb near the end of the lottery should be considered a steal. Kevin Martin appears to be unhappy with his situation in Houston, and that might open up the window for Lamb to become the immediate starter at the 2. More-so than John Henson or Moe Harkless, Lamb would appear to provide the most immediate impact if the Rockets are aiming to get back to the playoffs in 2013. He was easily the most talented player on the board.
The pick: 16, Royce White, SF, Iowa State and 18, Terrence Jones, PF, Kentucky
Available: Tyler Zeller, Perry Jones III, Jared Sullinger, Quincy Miller
This is the point in the draft where Daryl Morey got stuck in the mud. After taking Marcus Morris in the lottery last year and trading Samuel Dalembert to Milwaukee for Jon Brockman and Jon Leur, why draft yet another two power forwards? Unless he's traded, it would appear that Luis Scola is still set to get the lion's share of PF minutes in Houston, and they still have Patrick Patterson and Chandler Parsons off the bench. For those scoring at home, that's eight power forwards and no center, a fact that makes these picks even more redundant given the availability of Tyler Zeller at 16. While one could argue that the goal here was to stockpile assets, the question is, just how many of these power forwards are actually appealing to other teams aside from the rookies? At the very least, taking a stab at Perry Jones at 18 would've given Houston an appealing trade piece to spice up a package deal down the road. Both White and T. Jones are worthy top-20 talents, but in no scenario should they both have been drafted to the same team, especially one with as many other needs as Houston.
The pick: 26, Miles Plumlee, PF/C, Duke
Available: Perry Jones III, Arnett Moultrie, Draymond Green, Kyle O'Quinn
Some have compared Plumlee's arrival in Indiana to the second coming of Jeff Foster, and before scoffing at Larry Bird's final draft pick as president of the Pacers, it should be noted that Foster averaged 7+ rebounds for five straight years off Indiana's bench. If indeed that's the kind of player they were hoping for this late in the draft, the Pacers should be pleased with the relative upside of a player like Plumlee, whose athleticism and rebounding give him two very translatable NBA talents that should make him an effective role player for this up-and-coming team. O'Quinn and Moultrie would've brought more to the table in terms of point production, which might prove to become a bigger need if Roy Hibbert isn't retained, but this is a deep team with plenty of mouths to feed already. The presumption that Plumlee won't demand the ball makes him a major, cost-effective upgrade in the role previously filled by the $2.5 million-a-year Louis Amundson, who isn't likely to return. Pacers fans might've been craving a star like Perry Jones here, but Indiana has been served well in the past by opting for steak over sizzle.
The pick: 36, Orlando Johnson, SG, UCSB
Available: Quincy Miller, Will Barton, Doron Lamb
Assuming Leandro Barbosa isn't brought back, the Pacers once again did well here by getting a potential backcourt replacement for him in athletic shot-maker Orlando Johnson. Johnson might not have the floor game of Will Barton, but he's bigger, stronger, and one of the better athletes at the 2 in this draft. With the offensive balance Indiana possesses, "OJ" appears to be a nice fit as a spot-up shooter who will play the kind of tough, physical defense that the blue collar Pacers have made their trademark.
LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS
The pick: 53, Furkan Aldemir, PF, Turkey
Available: Darius Johnson-Odom
The Clippers almost immediately dealt the 6'10'' power forward in the four-team trade the next day that made room for the return of Lamar Odom and featured Mo Williams heading to Utah. The explosive Darius Johnson-Odom might've been able to provide some backcourt scoring punch off the bench, but the Clippers appear to be addressing that need by targeting Jamal Crawford. By the way, the team that ended up with Aldemir? You guessed it-- the Houston Rockets.
LOS ANGELES LAKERS
The pick: 60, Robert Sacre, C, Gonzaga
Available: Drew Gordon, Kevin Jones, JaMychal Green
It's tough to knock the Sacre pick, since the Lakers' only center off the bench, Jordan Hill, is really more of a power forward. That said, Sacre wasn't anywhere near as good a rebounder as the three available prospects mentioned above, and he would also rank fourth on this list as an offensive threat.
Update: The Lakers acquired Darius Johnson-Odom from Dallas in exchange for cash considerations. DJO should provide a major boost to a Lakers 2nd unit that lacks athleticism and guys who can create their own shots.
The pick: 25, Tony Wroten, Jr, G, Washington
Available: Perry Jones III, Arnett Moultrie, Marquis Teague
For all the concerns surrounding Wroten's perceived lack of shooting ability, there's not much else he doesn't do well. Another player who can't shoot, Tony Allen, has thrived since coming to Memphis, and it's not unlikely that the Grizz were reminded of this while projecting what Wroten could give them athletically. In fact, Wroten's creativity and ability to penetrate could make him a far more dangerous threat on offense than Allen ever was, and if he can improve that jumper, he'll end up being a potent replacement for the soon-to-be-elsewhere OJ Mayo.
The pick: 45, Justin Hamilton, C, LSU
Available: Robert Sacre
The Heat obtained Hamilton in a draft night trade that sent Arnett Moultrie at 27th overall to Philly. Right now, all is well in Miami, and not even a talent like Moultrie would appear necessary to help LeBron James fulfill his promise of multiple championships. But despite the perfect ending to their season, the Heat's lack of depth up front was exposed at times throughout the playoffs, and this summer's crop of free agent big men isn't exactly overflowing with talent. Hamilton reportedly had a very strong spring in the pre-draft circuit, and if not for Anthony Davis, he might've made First Team All-SEC this past season. Throw in the future first-rounder that the 76ers included in the deal, and it seems like Pat Riley and co. made another savvy move.
The pick: 14, John Henson, PF, North Carolina
Available: Moe Harkless, Terrence Jones, Perry Jones III, Royce White, Quincy Miller
This pick had Scott Skiles written all over it, as it's been a trend for the Bucks to seek out lengthy, defense-first forwards ever since he took over. Even with the addition of Monta Ellis, Milwaukee remained one of the worst offenses in the league, and there were a number of other players available with far more scoring ability than Henson. If he doesn't end up being any more impactful than the similarly-skilled Larry Sanders or Luc Mbah a Moute, the end result for Milwaukee will probably be another lottery pick and a new coach.
The pick: 42, Doron Lamb, SG, Kentucky
Available: Darius Johnson-Odom
It took them long enough, but Milwaukee finally got the shooter they so desperately needed with the 42nd pick in the draft. Darius Johnson-Odom, with his experience and disruptive defensive ability, might've been a better fit for a Scott Skiles team; but at the end of the day, Lamb's size and floor game seemed to be of preferred value here. He'll be an efficient shooter capable of backing up either guard position, which should have Milwaukee fans pleading for him to enter the game on the nights when Ellis and Jennings are shooting 30% from the floor.
The pick: 58, Robbie Hummel, F, Purdue
Available: Darion Pellum, Hollis Thompson, Henry Sims
The T-Wolves have precious few open roster spots, so whoever they took at 58 would've projected as a longshot to even make the team. With that in mind, they probably made a good move by picking one of the most persistent workers in the draft... but it would've been quite a story to see if a small-school talent like Pellum could've pushed former lottery pick Wesley Johnson to the free agency bin.
The pick: 10, Austin Rivers, G, Duke
Available: Jeremy Lamb, John Henson, Terrence Jones, Meyers Leonard
It's possible that Austin's good relationship with top dog Anthony Davis made this an easier choice for the Hornets than many outsiders assumed it'd be. Last season, only the historically bad Bobcats were worse offensively, and a lot of that could be attributed to a weak group of Hornets guards that simply couldn't make up for the 57-game absence of Eric Gordon. If this pick pans out, teams might have their hands full next season trying to contain the penetration and shot-making ability of a Rivers-Gordon backcourt. It's Austin's ability to do the former that ultimately makes him a better fit in the pick n roll with Davis than Jeremy Lamb would've been.
The pick: 46, Darius Miller, SF, Kentucky
Available: Kevin Murphy
The trade of Trevor Ariza to Washington last week created a need for New Orleans to bring in another small forward, and they did well to get such a good one this late in the draft. Miller does a little bit of everything, and has a winning pedigree from his time spent with Davis at Kentucky. His potential to defend multiple positions along the perimeter gives him a higher floor than the more offensive-minded Murphy, who also didn't face nearly the same level of competition during his career at Tennesse Tech.
The pick: 28, Perry Jones III, F, Baylor
Available: Quincy Miller, Jeff Taylor, Will Barton
...and the rich keep getting richer. The Thunder probably would've easily handled any other Eastern Conference team en route to a title this past season, but against Miami, they always appeared to be just one difference-maker short. By the time they picked at the end of the first round, there was really only one clear-cut talent on the board that could be the kind of all-court threat with the potential to push a team like OKC over the top, and with Perry Jones III, they got him. Right now, it's hard to determine exactly what Perry's initial role will be on this team; will he be the primary backup to both forward positions behind Durant and Ibaka? If Ibaka is traded, would Jones start at the 4? Or could he perhaps even start at the 4 with Ibaka playing center in what would be perhaps the most athletic starting 5 in the NBA? No matter the case, both the Thunder and Jones would have to find it comforting that the answers to these questions really don't matter right now. On almost any other team, Perry Jones would be counted on to make an immediate impact-- knee issue or not. But on a team that seems like a lock for 55 wins, Oklahoma City can be patient with the star talent and adjust his role as the season progresses while he gets fully healthy and learns the system. All Jones has to do is become an important part of the rotation by next season's playoffs for this to become the steal of the draft, and maybe even the pick that swings the 2013 championship.
The pick: 19, Andrew Nicholson, PF, St. Bonaventure
Available: Jared Sullinger, Perry Jones III, Arnett Moultrie
In what would become a pattern for the Magic by the end of the night, Andrew Nicholson was brought in with the 19th pick to help Orlando beef up its frontcourt, guarding against the possibility that Dwight Howard's days with the team are nearing an end. In addition to Nicholson's ability to score in both face-up and back-to-basket situations, he brings underrated rebounding and shot-blocking talent to the table as well. That said, he's still a bit undersized and probably can't be used a a center, and this could become an issue if Howard becomes increasingly salty as the season progresses, or if his back issues flare up again. With all that in mind, the bigger, more athletic Moultrie might've been a safer pick here.
The pick: 49, Kyle O'Quinn, C, Norfolk State
Available: Kevin Jones, Drew Gordon
With his 7'5'' wingspan and exceptional big man instincts, Kyle O'Quinn was one of the best players on the board at 49. Another player presumed to be an insurance policy for Dwight Howard, O'Quinn should have a chance to be the first center off the bench for Orlando, allowing Glen Davis to play his more natural position of power forward. While Jones and Gordon have the better resumes and faced tougher competition during their NCAA careers, neither have the size to play center at the NBA level, and that's perhaps what nudged the Magic towards drafting the Norfolk State product.
The pick: 15, Moe Harkless, F, St. John's
Available: Terrence Jones, Tyler Zeller, Jared Sullinger
Harkless had a sterling combine, both on and off the court, so it's no surprise he ended up being taken this high, and he's the kind of player who could make some of the teams who picked ahead of Philadelphia regret passing on him. The 76ers' inconsistent frontcourt production resulted in a team that really struggled to score, especially in the half court. Harkless won't give them much of a boost from the perimeter, at least not early on, but he'd appear capable of providing the offense an added wrinkle with his slashing ability and the mismatches he could have against many opposing forwards. Though he's projected as mostly a 3 at the next level, his game and body are still maturing, and it wouldn't be a surprise to see Doug Collins feature him at the 4 occasionally in lineups where he can still keep Andre Iguodala and Evan Turner on the floor. One aspect of the game that Philly really banks on is transition offense, and Moe is the kind of frontcourt athlete that can help them continue to thrive in that area. In 2-3 years, once his jumper comes around, Harkless could easily be the best player on the team.
The pick: 27, Arnett Moultrie, PF, Mississippi State
Available: Perry Jones III, Festus Ezeli
The aging Elton Brand once had among the most diversified post games in the league, but now lacks the athleticism to complement his instincts. That shouldn't be a problem anymore for the 6ers, who got one of the draft's best inside scorers by trading up with Miami to get Arnett Moultrie, who will get some good on-the-job training in Philadelphia. While he's not quite a true center yet, Festus Ezeli doesn't offer the same scoring prowess, and Perry Jones would've been a riskier pick that they didn't need after drafting Harkless. Moultrie's ability to crash the offensive glass and finish inside will definitely come in handy for a team like Philly, who has a tendency to put up a lot of bricks. With Brand in the last year of a deal that'll pay him upwards of $18 million this season, this was a good move with an eye on the future. Brand might be the NBA's most expensive big man tutor, but whatever wisdom he's able to impart on the promising talents of Moultrie and Lavoy Allen should pay big dividends down the road.
The pick: 13, Kendall Marshall, PG, North Carolina
Available: John Henson, Terrence Jones, Tyler Zeller
No team in the NBA realizes the value of a franchise point guard better than the Phoenix Suns, and as Steve Nash's days in the desert are coming to an end, the Suns paved the way for a new era by taking Kendall Marshall in the lottery. While Marshall wasn't the best player on the board, the value of the position he plays made him the only player left that you could build a roster around. It's unfortunate for the Suns that Nash won't be around to mentor the rookie point guard, and Marshall is sure to face some growing pains dealing with a roster that might not even be as talented as his 2012 Tar Heels squad. Nevertheless, this was a glaringly obvious fit of player and team, and even though the Suns are likely to wind up in the lottery again next year, they can take some solace in the fact that they've become a popular landing spot for free agents.
The pick: 6, Damian Lillard, PG, Weber State
Available: Andre Drummond, Harrison Barnes, Jeremy Lamb, Austin Rivers
By the time this pick rolled around, there wasn't much doubt the Blazers would take their point guard of the future, and most would agree that they got the best one in the draft. However, hindsight is always 20/20, and now that they're faced with the possibility of losing Nicolas Batum to free agency, this is a team that's looking dangerously thin at the SF spot. Barnes might've been a better value, especially considering the fact that Kendall Marshall would've still been available at #11.
The pick: 11, Meyers Leonard, C, Illinois
Available: John Henson, Terrence Jones, Jeremy Lamb
While John Henson might've been a safer pick, Leonard would allow LaMarcus Aldridge to play his more natural position of power forward, and with Wes Matthews locked up through 2015, Lamb wouldn't have been as much of a need. Another option might've been Tyler Zeller, but after a season in which they ranked 5th from the bottom in opponents' FG%, the Blazers seemed to have their sights set on anchoring the defense with this pick.
The pick: 40, Will Barton, G, Memphis
Available: Tyshawn Taylor, Doron Lamb
With the possible departures of Raymond Felton and/or Jamal Crawford, Portland got the best combination of talent & need with the 40th pick. Barton features all the better aspects of Lamb and Taylor's games in one package.
The pick: 5, Thomas Robinson, PF, Kansas
Available: Andre Drummond
Thomas Robinson considered himself to be the best player in the 2012 draft, and now that he's being paired up with DeMarcus Cousins in Sacramento, he might be able to put up the stats to prove it. Thanks notably to Charlotte and Cleveland passing on the big man at 2 and 4, respectively, the Kings were able to snatch Robinson, opting for his NBA-ready game over the potential of Drummond. In addition to a skill set that compliments Cousins well, the high-motor Robinson also gives the Kings an opportunity to explore trades involving Jason Thompson and/or Chuck Hayes, two big men who've disappointed during their time with the team. Robinson could very well average a double-double his rookie year, and his introduction to the Pacific Division should be the start of some entertaining big man battles with the Clippers and Lakers for the next several years.
The pick: 59, Marcus Denmon, SG, Missouri
Available: J'Covan Brown, Terrell Stoglin
These days, it's impossible to critique almost any roster move made by RC Buford and the San Antonio Spurs. Lacking elite size and athleticism, Denmon is a great shooter with a comparable offensive game to Terrell Stoglin, who has more explosive scoring ability. But another thing Stoglin has is an immature reputation, and that perception would appear to be in direct contrast to the consummate professionalism preached by the Spurs' organization. Denmon is a high character guy who plays smart, works hard, and does all the little things well, and though J'Covan Brown can do more off the dribble, he had a poor all-around combine, which probably erased any chance he had of staying in Texas to start his pro career.
The pick: 8, Terrence Ross, SG, Washington
Available: Jeremy Lamb, Austin Rivers, Kendall Marshall
Some have called Toronto's selection of Terrence Ross at 8 overall a bit of a reach, but the Washington guard's stock was unquestionably on the rise after an impressive sophomore year and a buzz-worthy combine. Ross will need to make strides as a ballhandler for this pick to be considered a home run, but he dribbles well enough to create an effective jumper from anywhere on the floor, and Toronto has been searching for a 2-guard like that for years now. Additionally, he's quick and active off the ball, which, combined with his size and athleticism, allow him to rack up a lot of "found" buckets. With Andre Bargnani directing opposing big men away from the basket, Ross should function well in a slashing role and has enough creativity to be an option at the end of the shotclock as well. His mobility is probably what pushed him past Lamb here, and his high defensive potential far outshines that of Austin Rivers. An interesting subplot to this pick: Toronto put a lot of money on the table in the hopes of luring Steve Nash out of Phoenix, but at the end of the day, the only way to get him was through a sign-and-trade. Hindsight tells us that the Suns were high enough on Kendall Marshall to pick him ahead of several more talented players. Could Toronto have had the key to landing Nash if they'd taken Marshall at 8?
The pick: 37, Quincy Acy, F, Baylor
Available: Kevin Jones, Drew Gordon, Mike Scott, Quincy Miller
Quincy Acy is a pick that's very reflective of a culture change going on in Toronto. In years' past, the Raptors would've been seduced by the ability of the available players mentioned above to put points on the board. But Toronto started to make major strides last year on defense, ranking 8th in opponents' points per game and 5th in opposing field goal percentage. So why weren't they a better team? One reason is their inability to secure rebounds, as they ranked 20th in that category, and Acy is a player that can really help in that area with his high motor and willingness to do the dirty work down low.
The pick: 56, Tomislac Zubcic, SF, Croatia
Available: Robbie Hummel, John Shurna, Cameron Moore
Zubcic is a 6'10'' 22 year-old forward with a perimeter-based game who will probably remain overseas for at least a year or two. At this point in the draft, most teams were going the international route, but Hummel, Shurna, and Moore are all similarly-sized players with NBA range and a combined 13+ years of NCAA experience among them. By the time Zubcic comes stateside, any one of these three could've already been decent rotation players, so even though this was one of the last picks in the draft, it was still a poor one.
The pick: 47, Kevin Murphy, SF, Tennessee Tech
Available: Darius Johnson-Odom
The Jazz desperately needed somebody to deter defenses from collapsing on their talented big man duo of Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson, so it's no surprise they spent their only draft pick on one of the college game's best scorers. Kevin Murphy can fill it up from anywhere on the court, and he helped ease any concerns about his small-school pedigree by torching the opposition at the Portsmouth Invitational this spring. He's not quite the athlete that Darius Johnson-Odom-- another possible option at 47-- is, but his size and range are unquestionable, and those two things alone should make him a strong bet to stick on the Jazz roster.
The pick: 3, Bradley Beal, SG, Florida
Available: Andre Drummond, Thomas Robinson, Harrison Barnes
Last year, Florida seemed to become a much better team when their more experienced and ball-dominant guards finally started deferring a bit to star freshman Brad Beal late in the NCAA season. Though it ended up being too little-too late for the Gators, scouts recognized Beal's underutilized floor game, and his stock began to take a steady and sharp rise, culminating in the Wizards taking him 3rd overall. While the Ray Allen comparisons may be a bit of a reach, Washington won't need Beal to be Allen for this to be a great pick. His character and smarts are two underrated attributes that should go a long way for a Washington team that seemed so directionless through prolonged stretches of the '11-12 season. Beal's obvious range will fill a major need next to the still-weak perimeter shooting of John Wall, and Brad has the high basketball IQ and athletic frame to help contribute in other areas as well. Thomas Robinson probably would've flourished in the pick n roll with Wall, but before the draft, Washington traded for Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza; adding these two players to a long list of other relatively new faces in the Wizards' frontcourt ended up being the final signal that the team was definitely going with a perimeter player at the top of the draft.
The pick: 32, Tomas Satoransky, G, Czech Republic
Available: Will Barton, Tyshawn Taylor, Doron Lamb, Orlando Johnson
Early in the 2nd round, Washington made it two years in a row drafting a player from the Czech Republic by taking 6'7'' combo guard Tomas Satoransky. Just 20 years old, Satoransky is still a raw talent, but he's been noted to have exceptional guard instincts and has already won three dunk contests in the pro leagues he's played in overseas. Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld has already said that Tomas won't join his NBA team next season, but it'll probably be at least a year or two before Washington's a legit playoff team anyway, so the fact that they bypassed more NBA-ready guards at this juncture is only a minor letdown.