Can Danny: 2012 NBA Draft Grades
For starters, I'd like to thank ESPN and other NBA "insiders" for turning Twitter into a virtual lap dance. For this past week, they've teased draftniks about possible trades, franchise altering moves, and then when the big moment arrived, nothing actually happened.
As for the draft, it was a rather confusing draft day although most teams seemed to draft for talent rather than need, which was refreshing although also made you realize why teams often draft for need. For my draft grades, C is an average draft - the draft is a crapshoot and you managed risk while getting guys who could do something. It shouldn't be seen as a bad grade; it's average. Higher grades means your draft seems to have more shoot than crap and lower grades means that you left your fan base scratching their own heads or calling for the head of their GM. I'm going to try not to grade TOO much on "How could you pass up (insert name)?!" because everyone has different takes on players and nobody is a surefire pick and there's been many a time when prospects have gone from a draft day "How could you pass on him?" to a "Thank God we didn't take him." (I'm looking at you Gerald Green and Acie Earl.)
Atlanta Hawks: C-
Mike Scott was an interesting pick and is a guy who I could see teaming with Ivan Johnson and Jason Collins to give the Hawks some tough, no nonsense minutes in the frontcourt. The reason the Hawks get a C- is because I think Scott at 43 could be better than John Jenkins, who they drafted twenty picks earlier. Jenkins is a one dimensional shooter (although, to be fair, he is a great shooter) who is likely going to struggle in the other facets of the game.
Boston Celtics: D+
A couple years ago, Danny Ainge broke up the Celtics core as they were trying to win a second championship together by trading Kendrick Perkins for Jeff Green and a future pick. One of Ainge's reasons for the deal was that the Eastern Conference no longer went through Dwight Howard, it went through LeBron, and the Celtics needed more bodies to throw the King's way. Today, Jeff Green is a free agent with heart problems and the Celtics used the pick they acquired in the deal on Fab Melo, a guy, who if he works hard, could be as effective as Perkins; it's just that Fab isn't known for working hard. One pick earlier, Boston took an even more sluggish big man in Jared Sullinger. The about face on Ainge's line of thinking is even more troubling when you remember that in crunch time of Game 7 of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals, the C's were having Brandon Bass (basically, a more athletic Sullinger) guard LeBron James. The Celtics needed depth everywhere and ended up with guys who I'm not sure will be better than Bass or Greg Stiemsma and most certainly won't help them get over the hump that is the Heat. Danny Ainge did manage to draft an athletic small forward in the second round in Kris Joseph but that brought up his second troubling problem.
Danny Ainge likes dumb players but his dumb players don't seem to ever really pan out: Marcus Banks, J.R. Giddens, Gerald Green, Orien Greene (Don't confuse dumb with crazy; his crazy players like Big Baby Davis, Tony Allen, and Delonte West pan out.) JaJuan Johnson could never really help out because he couldn't pick up NBA defenses. Kris Joseph and Fab Melo have equally low hoops IQ's and have spent most of their days playing zone. The Celtics are in win now mode and Danny keeps adding rooks who can't even get on the court now, nevermind actually winning. The C's did draft guys with potential so it could pan out but I doubt Melo or Joseph will see much of the parquet this next year and Sullinger is probably better off as a trade asset (let him shine a bit this year and then sell high; just look at DeJuan Blair, who went from surprise pick to on the block with no takers in a couple years.) All in all, it's not an awful draft day for the Celtics but it's not nearly as promising one as the one I was expecting a great day when I saw all of the talented prospects who had fallen to us at 21/22.
Brooklyn Nets: C
The Nets deserve an F for this draft because they traded the #6 pick for Gerald Wallace but pre-draft trades aren't being taken into account so they are let off with a C. They drafted a tattooed Turk who I'm sure will be all the rage back in Jersey, nabbed another solid sounded foreign prospect (who got the funny reaction on the right from the BK fan), and nabbed Tyshawn Taylor who might become a mix of Ty Lawson and Nate Robinson for the Nets; a lovable undersized point guard who is a speed demon (like Lawson) but (like Nasty Nate) makes so many bone headed decisions that it's tough to rely on him. And given the way Billy King is running the show, he might be Brooklyn's starting PG next year.
Charlotte Bobcats: A-
With Kemba Walker and Ben Gordon manning the backcourt, the Bobcats could use a SF who can excel in other ways than scoring. More importantly, as noted before, this is a league that runs through LeBron James and Kevin Durant so if you want to succeed, you need someone who can lock them down. MKG should do that and he's such a hard worker that I think he'll also improve his deficiencies enough to where they'll at least be adequate. I foresee a guy who could be the backbone of a winning team, even though he's not the lead dog. With their second round pick, the Bobcats picked another defense first small forward in Jeff Taylor. Obviously not a need but he was a good value and could develop into a nice role player off the bench or trade asset.
Chicago Bulls: A
Picking at 29, the Bulls could have rolled the dice on a shooting guard prospect but instead grabbed Teague, who has a real shot at being the best point guard in the draft and should pan out to be, at least, the perfect backup for Derrick Rose. If/When Rose gets back to 100%, Teague should become a solid trade asset (somewhat like George Hill's time in San Antonio.) The Bulls had one pick and nailed down one of the best assets available; you can't do better than that.
Cleveland Cavaliers: D+
Dion Waiters is a shooting guard with limited range and works best with the ball in his hands. That's pretty much the opposite of what most everyone would say a team led by Kyrie Irving should be looking for in a shooting guard. That's not to say that Waiters won't be a good NBA player but he doesn't make sense in Cleveland. Now perhaps Cleveland took him to move him to one of the teams that wanted him (Cavs could try to go after Gortat in Phoenix or deal Anderson Varejao and Waiters for Terrence Ross and Andrea Bargnani from Toronto) so it's hard to write off the deal yet but I'm not a huge fan of this choice. The scary thing is, Cleveland's other move was far worse.
Cleveland dealt three picks (24, 33, and 34) to move up and draft Tyler Zeller. Now, again, Zeller could (and probably should) be a solid pro but he's certainly not worth three picks, especially for a team like the Cavs who are rebuilding, are in asset collection mode, and could have used the two early second rounders where they could have picked up solid players that could have filled some gaps in their roster.
The Zeller deal reeked of a panic move. Cavs GM Chris Grant couldn't trade up to get the guy he wanted at the head of the draft, somehow wasn't able to trade down despite having two teams in Toronto and Phoenix who wanted the guy he drafted, and then went all-in with the rest of his picks to land a guy who projects to be a backup center. I give the Cavs the plus because Waiters and Zeller do seem like solid bets to stick around the league but, entering the draft with four picks, the Cavs should have walked out of the draft with more than they did.
Dallas Mavericks: B
The Mavericks boosted their draft by getting three picks from the Cavs but used those picks on prospects that I'm not entirely fond. Jared Cunningham is said to be a potential poor man's Russell Westbrook but people can't stop giving the actual Westbrook shit about his style of play so I'm not sure how that's going to pan out. Russ is Russ because his superstar production makes up for his problematic aspects. A poor man's version of that doesn't sound too enticing.
I really like the pick of Jae Crowder and think he should fit in nicely alongside either Dirk Nowitzki or Shawn Marion (who he'll probably be on the court with.) He also adds the energy that the Mavs were lacking last season. Bernard James, a 27 year old former member of the Air Force, but he's a 27 year old big man project. I was going to bump them up for the late addition of Darius Johnson-Odom but then they shipped him off to the Lakers.
So, the Mavs came away with some decent talent and did better than they expected to when the day began but I can't help but feel like they could have done better.
Denver Nuggets: B-
Evan Fournier's scouting report is the kind that makes me nervous. He's a good shooter without three point range, he's adept at penetrating to the hoop but may not be athletic enough to get past NBA defenders, and he's too weak and maybe too slow on the defensive end of the court. He sounds like Sasha Pavlovic with worse defense and, obviously, that's not somebody you'd be thrilled to land in the first round. However, Quincy Miller, who they landed in the second round, is exactly the kind of guy you want to land late in the draft. Hell, swap the picks with Miller going at 20 and Fournier at 38 and I might give them a B+. Miller was a talented freshman on a team that misused him while he was struggling to overcome an ACL injury. He's a risk but he has talent enough that he could blossom into someone who should have gone in the lotto. And with the Nuggets already having so much depth, they can afford to take a flier on a kid like Quincy.
Detroit Pistons: A
I never would have guessed that I'd be giving the team that drafted Andre Drummond an A. But once Drummond fell to #9, the risk outweighed the reward (and also outweighed the Pistons original option, John Henson) as Drummond alongside Greg Monroe gives the Pistons a potentially stud frontcourt. In the second round, they added Khris Middleton, a nice small forward product who could blossom if he can get healthy. Kim English is a bit like John Jenkins in that he can shoot but not do much of anything else but when you get a shooting specialist at 44, it's far more acceptable.
Golden State Warriors: A-
I'm sorry but I just can't get past the name Festus Ezeli. That's just not a name I expect to hear NBA announcers to call. Still, he was the 30th pick and he's just there to back up Andrew Bogut (and maybe light a fire under Andris Biedrins to get him playing up to his potential again) so I can't knock the Warriors that much for rolling the dice on a legit center. I love that they didn't overthink their first pick and just took the highly touted Harrison Barnes at #7. He's a kid who can slide right into the starting SF spot but shouldn't have too much pressure on him as he'll be a fourth or fifth scorer with Steph Curry, Andrew Bogut, David Lee, and Klay Thompson running alongside him. And while I didn't think Draymond Green's game was going to translate in the pros, he's not a bad risk at #35 and I do think that his talents fit the Warriors needs. And I think this is an underrated aspect of the NBA draft; how someone fits on a team is crucial to their success. Put Green on most other teams and I think he might be out of the league in a few years. But as a small ball power forward in Golden State, where he probably can utilize his passing more and allow the other players to focus on scoring, and with Andrew Bogut backing him up on defense, I think there's a very good chance that he becomes an effective and beloved role player in the Bay Area.
Houston Rockets: B+
My initial take on the Rockets' draft was disappointment because so much was made about the moves they were trying to make and the possibilities of landing two top ten picks and then they just stood pat and drafted three guys. And, honestly, I wouldn't be surprised if the guy they drafted third turned out to be the best player of the bunch. Terrence Jones is a forward who has a lot of potential and probably should have been a lotto pick. Jeremy Lamb was a solid pick at 12. I'm not in love with his motor and think he fades into the background too much but, unlike Kevin Martin, I think Lamb knows how to fit into an offense and is actually better served as being a lesser option instead of a lead dog. The key will be how much he brings it on defense. If Royce White had landed in Golden State, I'd be higher on his prospects. But right now, he's a tweener forward on a team of tweeners (Chandler Parsons, Marcus Morris, Patrick Patterson, Terrence Jones) all of whom I think are better than him. Well, maybe not Marcus Morris. I was going to give the Rox an A- but with all those picks and all those opportunities, I just think they could have come away with a better haul and one that would have improved more of the team's needs.
Indiana Pacers: B-
Plumlee is the epitome of a C draft pick. Is it a good pick? Kind of. The Pacers need a back up big and Plumlee is athletic and brings some toughness that the Pacers need. Is it a bad pick? Possibly. The Pacers have some real needs elsewhere and there were players available (arguably better than Plumlee) who filled those needs. It's a defensible pick but I don't think anybody is going to argue that there aren't five or six better players who went after him. The Pacers get a boost for not being cheapskates and spending some money to buy a second rounder to nab Orlando Johnson, a decent shooting guard prospect who can't do any worse than Leandro Barbosa did during the Pacers' playoff run.
LA Clippers: C
Who is Furkan Aldemir? I don't know. And I felt like downgrading the pick because you just know the Clippers knucklehead announcers will laugh about how close they are coming to saying fucking ("It's that Furkan Aldermir guy again!" "He's a Furkan problem!") but at 53, it's always good to roll the dice on a project big man who you can hide overseas for a year or two. Also, he's supposedly a bruiser and with Reggie Evans getting older, the Clips might need a new enforcer type.
LA Lakers: C+
I like that they got Johnson-Odom from the Mavericks and I think he could be a useful role player in the near future. The Lakers didn't have the picks to really make much of a difference and I'd be surprised if Robert Sacre ever sees the hardwood at the Staples Center but they did just fine for where they were drafting.
Memphis Grizzlies: B-
If Tony Wroten was ever going to amount to anything in the NBA, it would be amongst the other misfits that make up the Memphis Grizzlies. And since they already have Mike Conley Jr. at the point and Tony Allen at the 2, they don't need to rush him into playing time. The Grizzlies would get knocked down to a C, however, if I took trade rumors into account because they reportedly turned down Rudy Gay for Andre Iguodala, a deal that would have cut payroll and given them a guy who I think is a step up at the small forward position. The Grizzlies have shown that they can win without Rudy's scoring so I'm kind of stunned that they turned that offer down.
Miami Heat: C-
The Heat need big men. The Heat drafted a big man. The Heat traded the big man away. On the other hand, the Heat just traded this year's #27 pick for what'll likely be next year's #17 or #18 in a draft that could have a number of big man options so patience does have its virtues. Still, they passed on some interesting talent this year so I have to knock them down a bit. Justin Hamilton, who they picked at #45, doesn't help their cause any.
Milwaukee Bucks: D+
The Bucks were the team that proved that choosing the "best player available" isn't always the wisest move. At #12, they drafted John Henson, a rail-thin "power" forward, who is basically a similar player to Ekpe Udoh and Larry Sanders. Even worse, if Milwaukee didn't have those players, I still don't think Henson made sense at #12. A kid who has had three years to fill out and is still skinnier than 19 year old Anthony Davis doesn't seem like a great lotto pick. The Bucks did redeem themselves in the second round, at least, grabbing Doron Lamb, a great shooter and a guard who has enough PG skills and potentially enough defense that he could pan out to be the perfect complement to Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis. Still, the Henson pick boggles my mind so much that I can't help but knock the Bucks down to the D range.
Minnesota Timberwolves: C
The Wolves traded the 18th pick for Chase Buddinger, which was a solid enough trade. They then grabbed another white, good shooting small forward in Robbie Hummel, who wasn't all that athletic before his two blown ACL's. Still, at #58, you're happy to grab a guy who has a high hoops IQ and a legit NBA skill so it's not bad.
New Orleans Hornets: A+
As I noted in my mock draft, I think an Anthony Davis/Austin Rivers duo could give the Hornets the best forward and guard in this draft. Rivers has some kinks to work out but he knows Monty Williams through his dad and is friends with Davis so it's a perfect landing spot for him. Personally, I think they should trade Eric Gordon, who is injury prone and about to make big money, but if he sticks around, I still think Rivers works there. The Hornets solidified their A+ ranking by grabbing Davis's teammate Darius Miller in the second round. Miller isn't the greatest talent but, unlike the recently departed Trevor Ariza, he knows his role and he knows how to do it well. If he can shore up his defense to go along with his steady shooting, he'll be a great complement to Davis and Rivers.
New York Knicks: C
They took a foreign dude in the second round. Par for the course.
Oklahoma City Thunder: A+
This time last year, I was saying Perry Jones was a fool for staying in school and that he'd probably slide and he might even be the next Terrence Morris, a guy who went from lotto to second round and out of the NBA in no time. Then a funny thing happened; he did slide in the draft but it worked to his advantage. OK City is a perfect landing spot for Jones; they don't need him to do anything so pressure will be off and they have a team of hard workers who'll keep him honest. PJIII might have been hating life as he plummeted in the draft but his future is much better for it.
Orlando Magic: B
Andrew Nicholson is a little like Ryan Anderson, a big man who can block shots and hit threes, but he's better than Anderson in the post. He's also a nice complement to Big Baby Davis as a second unit frontcourt. At 49, they grabbed Kyle O'Quinn, a project big man. Given where they were picking, they got good talent out of both picks and guys who fit their team. No home runs (or even potential home runs) but a solid job that's a shade north of average.
Philadelphia 76ers: C-/D+
Talent-wise, Maurice "Don't Call Me Moe" Harkless works as the 15th pick in the draft. He's raw but has a ton of upside and made as much sense as anyone else on the board at that time. The problem is that Harkless isn't what Philly needs at all and there were players available at 15 who filled those needs and were as good, if not better, than Maurice. Also, those players were almost all more polished and you'd think that a team that is making a bit of a push in the East wouldn't want to deal with on the job training of a teenager. On the bright side, the Sixers did fill a need by adding Arnett Moultrie in their trade with the Heat. Moultrie should be able to get some minutes in the Sixers frontcourt and could replace Spencer Hawes (minus the blocked shots) in the near future. On the other hand, they gave up next year's pick to do it and I have a feeling that that pick is going to be a nice mid-first rounder next year.
In the end, despite the fact that I like the raw potential of their draft, Harkless is such an odd fit with with Evan Turner and/or Andre Iguodala, I have to be knock them down into the D range. Basically, I like landing talents Harkless and Moultrie; I just wish they'd landed on a different team.
Phoenix Suns: D+
I like Kendall Marshall. I'm rooting for the kid. I just don't think he's a starting point guard in the NBA. He's replacing Steve Nash and he doesn't do anything as well as Nash. He might not even play defense as well as Nash, and that's saying something. The only reason he went this high was because the point guard crop in this draft was weak. The Suns really should have looked into trading down because they have the worst roster in all of the NBA right now (Marcin Gortat is the only legit NBA player there) so they could have used more warm bodies. If they had made the Mavs deal with the Cleveland, it could have been a huge boost to their roster. But instead they just have Marshall, a great passer on a team that can't shoot for shit, and a poor defender who is going to face Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, Tony Parker, etc. in the West. Phoenix fans should probably start scouting Nerlens Noel and Shabazz Muhammed for next year's top pick
Portland Trailblazers: A
I can't say that I'm blown away but their picks but Neil Olshey added an intriguing big man in Meyers Leonard who should fit nicely alongside LaMarcus Aldridge, as well as a new starting point guard in Damian Lillard. In the second round, they drafted Will Barton, who could potentially be the best player of the trio. With Nic Batum likely back in the fold and Wes Matthews holding down the shooting guard spot, the Blazers look as if they took a nice step forward this draft day.
Sacramento Kings: A-
The Kings reportedly did something that more teams needed to do on draft night. Word was that if Thomas Robinson wasn't available at #5, they would have traded down with Portland. Their contingency plan didn't turn out to matter but I think more teams like the Cavs could have benefited by having a better plan B. I love the pairing on Robinson with DeMarcus Cousins and I think the fact that he's going to be working with Big Man Whisperer Clifford Ray gives him a good chance of becoming an impact player in the NBA. The reason the Kings get the minus is because they had a second round pick and there was a lot of talent available but the supposedly not cash strapped Maloofs decided to sell it. Dumping the pick as opposed to adding to the roster moved them from a potential A+ to an A-.
San Antonio Spurs: C+
Shockingly, the Spurs didn't take a foreign player in the second round. Marcus Denmon is a smart, efficient player who seems like the kind of kid that one see the light of day in his rookie year but will then become a quietly and surprisingly effective role player for the Spurs in year 2 or 3. Again, he's another guy who might have had a completely different career had he gone to a different team but I think Gregg Popovich will know how to utilize him.
Toronto Raptors: B
While 8 was a little early for Terrence Ross, I think he's a great fit for Toronto and there was a definite chance that, had they moved down, they might have missed out on him. Quincy Acy adds some life to the rather reserved professionals up north but he's not THAT good offensively and won't improve their defense at all so I think they would have been better off with most of the other players that went after him. Still, it's a solid B draft and Ross should be able to step in and help the Raptors from Day 1.
Utah Jazz: C
I thought we might hear about the Jazz making a run at a lotto pick but nothing transpired and they settled on Kevin Murphy with their second round pick. He could eventually be a CJ Miles replacement, which isn't bad at the 47th pick but nothing to get too excited about.
Washington Wizards: C+
I'm not a big fan of Bradley Beal but he makes some sense for Washington. I saw only "some sense" because, while he fits their whole at SG, he was a kid who struggled a bit with shoot first teammates and he's going to be playing alongside John Wall and Trevor Ariza. If he can stay tuned in and confident, he should have a nice rookie campaign and will hopefully settle into his role behind Wall and Nene. I was considering moving the Wizards up a bit but they decided to take a Euro point guard in the second round and it seems like his best asset is that he's friends with Wizards' lotto pick Jan Vesely. Tomas Satoransky is one of those infamous Euros who makes a splash on the scene... and that's all; he peaked at his introduction. His improvement has reportedly leveled off and I'm just not sure how a team like the Wizards, who just pissed away their potential cap space on Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza, wouldn't be interested in adding a talent young player on a cheap contract, which was what was readily available at the second pick in the second round. I'm sure most experts will give them a higher grade but with the #3 pick, the Wizards got what you'd expect and nothing more.
There it is. And remember, if you want to comment or call me names, comments here are down so you have to head to Twitter or the SoulHonky Facebook page.