The test is over and the grades are now in. Your beloved Cavaliers ended up performing pretty well once the final questions were answered. Questions surrounding the lack of a big man in the middle of their starting lineup and questions concerning Cleveland’s depth at the two guard position. Confused and angry Clevelanders didn’t even hesitate to start booing Waiters once he was announced as the fourth pick, but he was the second-best combo guard available behind Bradley Beal.
The Cavaliers had a pretty decent draft in my books, but nothing comparable to the picks that the New Orleans Hornets, Oklahoma City Thunder and the Boston Celtics acquired through the draft. Now without further adieu, here are my 2012 NBA Draft grades:
John Jenkins, SG, Vanderbilt — No. 23
Mike Scott, PF, Virginia — No. 43
I thought that grabbing Jenkins at No. 23 was a very smart move for the Atlanta Hawks. They’re gaining a great shooter in Jenkins, who developed a quick release and feel for his shot in his three years at Vanderbilt. Scott, the ACC Player of the Year runner-up, was a pick that I really liked, as he averaged 18.1 points and 8.4 rebounds his senior season. The Hawks just added some depth to their team.
Jared Sullinger, PF, Ohio State — No. 21
Fab Melo, C, Syracuse — No. 22
Kris Joseph, SF, Syracuse — No. 51
Considering that the Celtics are losing one of the purest shooters in the game in Ray Allen, I was surprised that the Celtics didn’t go with Jenkins at Nos. 21 or 22. Although Sullinger and Melo are very high-risk players, I do believe it was the right choice. The Celtics tried looking for a center all season-long, and may have landed their starter in Melo. With Rondo running the point and the Celtics loading up the front court in the draft, this Boston team just made some big moves for the future.
Tyshawn Taylor, PG/SG, Kansas — No. 41
Ilkan Karaman, PF, Turkey — No. 54
For what they had to work with, the Nets had a pretty okay draft. I really like the Taylor pickup, as it adds athleticism to the Brooklyn lineup, something that I think this unmotivated lineup doesn’t have. Taylor’s 6′ 3″ frame also makes him an attractive point guard pickup. The very strong Karaman is a gamble, as his skill set is not up to par for NBA standards.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SF, Kentucky — No. 2
Jeffery Taylor, SF, Vanderbilt — No. 31
Picking the highest-rated motor player in the draft in Kidd-Gilchrist instead of trading their pick to the likes of teams such as the Cavaliers was a great move, definitely heavily influenced by Michael Jordan. Jordan may have pulled the trigger on the Kentucky freshmen because he has drawn comparisons to Scottie Pippen, averaging 11.8 points and 7.6 rebounds in one year at Kentucky. Charlotte then went with another small forward in Taylor, which I thought was an odd fit. Taylor was a great prospect, but I don’t think the move made much sense.
Marquis Teague, PG, Kentucky — No. 29
Picking up Teague was a great move by the Chicago Bulls, who may have to go the whole 2012-13 season without star Derrick Rose. Although he wasn’t a prolific shooter in his freshmen campaign, Teague is the right guy to give the shot to run the Chicago offense. He is very speedy and poised with the ball, something that Rose has as well.
Dion Waiters, SG, Syracuse — No. 4
Tyler Zeller, C, North Carolina — No. 17
I love the explosiveness that Waiters is going to bring to the Cavaliers backcourt, as he has drawn comparison from Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim as a Dwyane Wade-type two guard. If that’s the case, Kyrie Irving will have a lot of fun running the offense with the Big East Sixth Man of the Year. I also enjoyed the almost all-in trade to get the elusive Tar Heel center. Zeller is going to help out a center-deprived team, and has great athleticism for a guy his size. Cleveland believes that Zeller can make an impact in Wine and Gold for at least a decade. Only time will tell if this draft was a bust or a game breaker.
Jared Cunningham, SG, Oregon State — No. 24
Bernard James, PF, Florida State — No. 33
Jae Crowder, SF/PF, Marquette — No. 34
And the team that sent these picks to Dallas were the Cavaliers, who ended up receiving Tyler Zeller, who I thought was a great pick for the Mavericks. Instead the Mavericks landed Cunningham with their first pick, an explosive wing player who had a breakout season last year. I also like the very physical pick with James at No. 33 and the well-rounded selection with Crowder at No. 34, who averaged 17.4 points and 8.1 rebounds.
Evan Fournier, SG, France — No. 20
Quincy Miller, SF, Baylor — No. 38
Izzet Turkyilmaz, PF/C, Turkey — No. 50
A very interesting draft by Denver. Two foreign players and the gamble with taking Fournier so high might end up backfiring on the Nuggets. He’s not very quick to get to the basket, which is something that a shooting guard has to have to be successful in the NBA. On the other hand I love the Miller pickup at 38, as his 7′ 3″ wingspan will give him an advantage as a shooting forward. His midrange game will be a crucial asset to the Denver offense.
Andre Drummond, PF/C, Connecticut — No. 9
Khris Middleton, SG/SF, Texas A&M — No. 39
Kim English, SG, Missouri — No. 44
What a great player to be paired up with Greg Monroe at the center position. The Pistons got lucky with Drummond falling all the way to them at pick No. 9. He shot 53.8 percent as a freshmen, while his size and athleticism was unmatched by any other big man in the Big East. Middleton seems to be pretty NBA-ready, and falling to the Pistons is a great pickup for them. He excelled in NBA-range shots in college, and has a lot of upside to him. English, another player with a lot of upside, increased his field goal percentage 15.5 percent from his junior season to his senior season.
Golden State Warriors
Harrison Barnes, SF, North Carolina — No. 7
Festus Ezeli, C, Vanderbilt — No. 30
Draymond Green, SF/PF, Michigan State — No. 35
Ognjen Kuzmic, C, Bosnia & Herzegovina — No. 52
The Warriors had one of my favorite drafts. Landing Barnes when he fell to pick No. 7 was just the start of a great draft for the Warriors. Barnes averaged 17.4 points and 5.2 rebounds while shooting 44.0 percent from the field. Ezeli is the perfect player for Golden State, who was looking for a player to protect the basket. He averaged 1.7 blocks in his four seasons at Vanderbilt. Landing Green in the second round was also a blessing.
Jeremy Lamb, SG, Connecticut — No. 12
Royce White, SF, Iowa State — No. 16
Terrence Jones, SF/PF, Kentucky — No. 18
The Rockets made all the right moves prior to the draft to make sure they took the players they need to build a team that is close to returning to the playoffs. Lamb is one of the best shooters in the draft, so landing him at 12 was a good call by the Rocket front office. White has the speed and ball handling of a point guard and the strength to be a power forward, as he averaged 13.4 points, 9.3 rebounds and 5.0 assists while shooting 53.4 percent. Jones also will make an impact right away, as his frame puts him at an advantage against other forwards.
Miles Plumlee, PF/C, Duke — No. 26
Orlando Johnson, SF, UC Santa Barbara — No. 36
Taking Plumlee as high as pick No. 26 was a huge mistake on the Pacers end of things. Plumlee, who barely showed a spark of offensive in his four seasons at Duke, won’t be able to contend with the big men in the NBA. Passing on players such as Perry Jones III was a bonehead move, and even drafting the high-scoring Johnson didn’t make up for the huge miss the Pacers had with Plumlee.
Los Angeles Clippers
Furkan Aldemir, PF, Turkey — No. 53
The Clippers drafted Aldemir for his rebounding abilities, as his great foot speed helps to position him when grabbing boards. His offensive game is iffy, meaning that we never may see this Turkish tower come over to the NBA.
Los Angeles Lakers
Darius Johnson-Odom, SG, Marquette — No. 55
Robert Sacre, C, Gonzaga — No. 60
With the departure of Ramon Sessions to free agency, the Lakers picked up the best two guard available this late in the draft. Johnson-Odom has a lot of question marks, however, as he only stands 6′ 2″ and doesn’t have enough attack in him to get to the rim. Sacre isn’t the center-type that Los Angeles needs.
Tony Wroten, PG/SG, Washington — No. 25
I have been really high on Wroten these past few weeks and actually think he deserved to go a little higher than where he landed. The Grizzlies got a great finisher in Wroten, who excelled in his one season at Washington. His knowledge of the game shows on the court, as he excels at finding open passing lanes.
Justin Hamilton, C, LSU — No. 45
I don’t understand why the Heat traded away a pick that could’ve landed Perry Jones III or Arnett Moultrie, other than the fact that the Heat have little money to spend on first round picks. We won’t be seeing much of Hamilton in the defending champs lineup.
John Henson, PF, North Carolina — No. 14
Doron Lamb, SG, Kentucky — No. 42
I absolutely loved the Bucks draft selections. Henson was a great pick, considering the Bucks traded picks with the Rockets earlier in the week. He will cause opposing defenses troubles with his 7′ 4″ wingspan and his blocking abilities (averaged 2.9 blocks his junior season). I also think Lamb could have gone in the first round. He’s a proven scorer, shooting 46.6 percent from three-point territory last season and averaging 13.7 points.
Robbie Hummel, SF, Purdue — No. 58
Hummel met expectations all four seasons that he played in Purdue, averaging 10+ points every single year. His shooting abilities worry me at times, but what he lacks in accuracy he makes up for with rebounds.
New Orleans Hornets
Anthony Davis, PF, Kentucky — No. 1
Austin Rivers, SG, Duke — No. 10
Darius Miller, SF, Kentucky — No. 46
The Hornets, in my opinion, had the best draft out of any team in the entire league. They nabbed the most-talented and most NBA-ready player in Davis, grabbed Rivers, one of the top-scoring guards in the draft and added Davis’ teammate Miller to the team. A year removed from Chris Paul and the Hornets are already going to be competing for Western Conference supremacy in the near future. The Hornets got the two players they were targeting all along, so congrats to the New Orleans front office.
New York Knicks
Kostas Papanikolaou, SF, Greece — No. 48
To the tailor of the New York Knicks, have fun. Also, Papanikolaou’s aggressiveness could land him on the Knicks roster some day.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Perry Jones III, SF/PF, Baylor — No. 28
By far the biggest steal in the draft. I don’t understand how teams can consider drafting Sullinger, but at the same time completely ignore a player like Jones. The Thunder should be very excited to have landed this very multitalented forward. He’s quick, he can rebound, he can run the court and his ball-handling skills are superb for a forward. Look for Jones to come in and make an impact right away.
Andrew Nicholson, PF, St. Bonaventure — No. 19
Kyle O’Quinn, PF, Norfolk State — No. 49
Nicholson led his team in points, rebounds, blocks while shooting 57.1 percent from the field. The Magic got a great all-around player in Nicholson, who if you didn’t know was a physics major at St. Bonaventure. He has a good head on his shoulders, something that the Magic want in a player. O’Quinn, one of the cinderella stories of the NCAA tournament, is also a high-percentage shooter who averaged a double-double in his final two seasons at Norfolk State.
Moe Harkless, SF, St. John’s — No. 15
Arnett Moultrie, PF, Mississippi State — No. 27
Just by looking at Harkless you can already tell that he’s the perfect specimen to play small forward for the 76ers. He can dominate the paint like a power forward and still move with the elusiveness of a small forward. Considering how the 76ers season went, they got a steal with Harkless. Also, with having no lottery picks and landing both Harkless and Moultrie, who led the SEC in rebounding, the 76ers are now very close to closing in on teams such as the Heat and Celtics.
Kendall Marshall, PG, North Carolina — No. 13
And with the 13th pick in the NBA draft, the Suns have decided to part way with Steve Nash. Marshall is the future frontman of the Suns, being one of the smartest floor generals available in the draft. Averaging 9.8 assists last season, Marshall is the definition of un-greedy, and will find open and hard-working teammates in a heartbeat.
Portland Trail Blazers
Damian Lillard, PG, Weber State — No. 6
Meyers Leonard, C, Illinois — No. 11
Will Barton, SF/SG, Memphis — No. 40
Although I applaud the Trail Blazers for passing up on Andre Drummond at No. 6 (I don’t think he would succeed in an offense like Portland’s), Lillard was one of the biggest question marks of the draft. I rated Leonard with Zeller and Drummond as the top centers in the draft, possibly even the second-best option. I also like them nabbing Barton at pick No. 40.
Thomas Robinson, PF, Kansas — No. 5
The Kings couldn’t possibly pass on Robinson at No. 5. I rated Robinson as the most NBA-ready player in this year’s draft, averaging 17.9 points and 11.8 rebounds in his final campaign at Kansas. Robinson will come into Sacramento and make an impact right away. He has the determination and skill set to make it in the NBA.
San Antonio Spurs
Marcus Denmon, PG/SG, Missouri — No. 59
The Spurs got a pretty good player with the second-to-last pick in the draft. Look for Denmon to study the play of Tony Parker for a couple of years and then come in and make an impact.
Terrence Ross, SG/SF, Washington — No. 8
Quincy Acy, SF, Baylor — No. 37
Tomislav Zubcic, SF, Croatia — No. 56
I love Ross and I love where Toronto took him. After watching Dion Waiters slide off the board at No. 4, they had their eyes set on Ross, who already possesses many NBA qualities such as a lethal three-point shot. I also like the Acy pickup at No. 37. The Raptors are rebuilding the right way.
Kevin Murphy, SG, Tennessee Tech — No. 47
The Jazz picked up a great scorer in Murphy. He averaged 21.1 points his senior season. Good find.
Bradley Beal, SG, Florida — No. 3
Tomas Satoransky, PG/SG, Czech Republic — No. 32
I really don’t want to discuss the Wizards selecting Beal. I thought Beal would’ve made the Cavaliers backcourt formidable for years. Now John Wall and Beal will be running mates together, making for a lethal scoring attack. Beal can even bring the ball up court, making him a double-threat guard. Satoransky, eh.
Topics: Andre Drummond, Anthony Davis, Austin Rivers, Boston Celtics, Bradley Beal, Cleveland Cavaliers, Detroit Pistons, Dion Waiters, Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Milwaukee Bucks, NBA Draft, New Orleans Hornets, Oklahoma City Thunder, Orlando Magic, Philadelphia 76ers, Sacramento Kings, Thomas Robinson, Toronto Raptors, Tyler Zeller