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2012 NBA draft grades

Anyone expecting a bunch of teams to vault out of the lottery should temper their explanations. Even the Hornets managed to screw this up. Weirdly, tonight didn't have many big winners. A lot of GMs paired solid picks with head-scratchers. Onward.

Atlanta Hawks
Picks: John Jenkins (23), Mike Scott (43)

This might have been a little high for Jenkins, but both of these picks make a lot of sense for Atlanta, which needs NBA-ready players if they are going to make any noise in the Eastern Conference. Jenkins really fits as an outside threat and he and Scott should make for a formidable second string.

Boston Celtics
Picks: Jared Sullinger (21), Fab Melo (22), Kris Joseph (51)
Grade: B

How NBA GMs think. Bad back = disqualified. Cannot play basketball = lottery pick. The Celtics had a real chance to be the stars of this draft. Sullinger is way too good of a player to go to a contender. Fab Melo is a project and I hate 7 footers who can't rebound. Joseph has the athleticism to be a defensive stopper, I suppose, but he doesn't bring enough on offense to compensate. I don't see him sticking around.

Charlotte Bobcats
Picks: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (2), Jeff Taylor (31)
Grade: B+

Some folks are questioning the fit, which is absurd to worry about for a team that won 11% of its games last year. Gilchrist is one of the few "athletes" who demonstrated his athleticism during his NCAA career. That said, I think Robinson would be the safer pick here. I like the Taylor pick fine, but they passed up on good bigs to get him.

Chicago Bulls
Picks: Marquis Teague (29)
Grade: B-

I think the Bulls reached here based on ability, but it's hard to blame them for using their draft pick to stop the hemorrhaging until Rose comes back. Even if he plays inefficiently, so long as he puts points on the board, he'll be a nice trading chip.

Cleveland Cavaliers
Picks: Dion Waiters (4), Tyler Zeller (17)

The Waiters pick is a bit bizarre. I think he'll be solid, especially on the defensive end, but that certainly doesn't justify the 4th pick. I like the Zeller trade for both teams. He was a great value at the 17, and Cleveland now has the opportunity to establish a real defensive presence.

Dallas Mavericks
Picks: Jared Cunningham (24), Bernard James (33), Jae Crowder (34)
Grade: A-

First of all, there is a very good chance Crowder is THE steal of the draft. Plus, he's ready to contribute now. When I did my draft writeup on James, I thought the Mavericks would be the ideal spot for him. He has no upside, being 27, but I think he rounds out the rotation nicely. The appeal of Jared Cunningham eludes me. I know they want their PG of the future, but he isn't it, so why use the pick?

Denver Nuggets

Picks: Evan Fournier (21), Quincy Miller (38), Izzit Turkyilmaz (50)

Grade: D

From Birdman to Turky. The Nuggets went foreign this year and I think they had some immediate needs that could have been met. Quincy Miller is a nice value at the 38, since he has an excuse for his poor performance, and Fournier could be outstanding for all we know. This draft might have been more about budget than talent, I'm afraid.

Detroit Pistons
Picks: Andre Drummond (9), Khris Middleton (39), Kim English (44)
Grade: D-

Sigh. The Pistons were elated with Drummond dropped to them. Memo to everyone, there is a reason these players drop. Look, Drummond has the body to rebound and block shots. However, the same is true of any number of big men who do not work to improve their game. I'm calling him Darkwam until he proves me wrong. Middleton is a jaw-dropper. He wasn't good before his injury, and he was, um, injured. English somewhat redeems this draft. He brings elite shooting to the table, and has the size to deliver it at the NBA level. I actually had him about on par with Drummond on my board.

Golden State Warriors
Picks: Harrison Barnes (7), Festus Ezeli (30), Draymond Green (35), Ognen Kuzmic (52)

Draymond Green is a nice value at 35, but this is an otherwise terrible draft for the Warriors. Harrison Barnes spent the last two seasons demonstrating he is not ready to play at the NBA level, Festus Ezeli is a big man project and a massive reach, and Ognen Kuzmic doesn't project well even for a Euro. Any hope Warriors fans had that the new GM would bring about change has been pretty much dashed.

Houston Rockets
Picks: Jeremy Lamb (12), Royce White (16), Terrence Jones (18)

I like Royce White, but I'm not particularly sold on the other two picks here. With Lamb, you are hoping he can be Kevin Martin, efficient and prolific enough from two point range to overcome his other shortcomings. Terrence Jones seems like a Rockets defensive specialist rotation guy. It looks to me, though, they the Rockets were picking with an eye toward a trade. This draft was sort of the equivalent of painting the house neutral colors before you sell it.

Indiana Pacers
Picks: Miles Plumlee (26), Orlando Johnson (36),
Grade: B

I had these two players pretty much reversed on my draft board, so it's a bit of a wash. These are good picks for a team looking to become a contender. Plumlee gives you rebounds pretty much no matter what, and Johnson gives you shooting pretty much no matter what.

Los Angeles Clippers
Picks: Furkan Aldemir (53)
Grade: A-

I had Aldemir as a first rounder. Not sure there is much difference between him and Fournier in terms of talent. Aldemir put up big rebounding numbers and his 62 TS% is enticing. You could do much worse with the 53 pick.

Los Angeles Lakers
Picks: Robert Sacre (60)

Didn't do much in college, and he's 23 years old. Sure he's tall, but so are a lot of busts. Lakers could have used Machado.

Memphis Grizzlies
Picks: Tony Wroten Jr. (25)
Grade: F

People have Wroten Jr. as a sleeper, but I don't see it. He really can't shoot at all, which means nobody is going to respect his shot. He also had more turnovers than assists. What do the Grizzlies need this guy for?

Miami Heat
Picks: Justin Hamilton (45)

A workout wonder who did nothing in the NCAA to suggest he's really ready for the next level. Hard to fault the Heat for wanting to add size just in case, but Hamilton just isn't a very good player.

Milwaukee Bucks
Picks: John Henson (14), Doron Lamb (42),
Grade: A+

The runaway winners of the draft, Milwaukee got two top 10 talents with complementary skills, and added Sam Dalembert('s contract) as the cherry on top. They have a chance to be the deepest team in the NBA this year.

Minnesota Timberwolves
Picks: Robbie Hummel (58)
Grade: F

They needed another white guy with a non-exotic name for the out-state billboards, and Miles Plumlee was off the board. That said, I think they've found their new Mark Madsen.

Brooklyn Nets
Picks: TyShawn Taylor (41), Tornike Shengalia (54), Ilkan Karaman (57)
Grade: D

Um, so yeah I'm not sure the the sort of haul that's going to entice Deron Williams to stick around.

New Orleans Hornets
Picks: Anthony Davis (1), Austin Rivers (10), Darius Miller (46)
Grade: C-

The Rivers pick is terrible. They found the one guy who will actually make Anthony Davis worse. The defense of Austin Rivers seems to consist of "well, he's arrogant, and so you have to admire that". What a weird attribute to admire, much less hire for millions of dollars per. Miller isn't a terrible pick here, but I don't think he's a good enough shooter to overcome his demonstrated lack of athletic prowess.

New York Knicks
Picks: Papa (48)

I think this guy in D'Antoni's system. Unfortunately, D'Antoni is no longer coaching the Knicks. Still, they picked up a nice shooter, which isn't bad for the 48 spot.

Oklahoma City Thunder
Picks: Perry Jones (28)

I'm beginning to think the Thunder maybe lucked into this whole success thing. They are trying to trade Harden for pennies on the dollar, drafted Reggie Jackson last year, and now this. It wasn't just the knee problem that was scaring off teams. It was also the lack of ability to play basketball.

Orlando Magic
Picks: Andrew Nicholson (19), Kyle O'Quinn (49)
Grade: A-

I thought this was a bit high for Nicholson, though not disastrously so. The real steal is O'Quinn, one last season's most dominant rebounders at the NCAA level. He doesn't have the smoothy upspanz, so he fell in the draft, but he is good at basketball, which is an enormous benefit in a league devoted entirely to the performance of the sport.

Philadelphia 76ers
Picks: Maurice Harkless (15), Arnett Moultrie (27)
Grade: A

Can't blame a guy for not wanting to be called Mo. The 76ers continue their trend of getting great talent through the draft. They proved me wrong on Lavoy Allen, and I'm a believer. Harkless and Moultrie are the quintessential "lottery talent, but nobody got excited about them so they slipped". Nice move targeting Miami for the pick once Moultrie dropped.

Phoenix Suns
Picks: Kendall Marshall (13)
Grade: A

Once again, the Suns have managed to get a great player who is a perfect fit. There really isn't any guarantee when it comes to point guards, since they are harder to project than bigs and wings, but Marshall has some jaw-dropping A/TO numbers. He won't replace Nash's shooting (who could?) but he has the potential to be a star.

Portland Trail Blazers
Picks: Damian Lillard (6), Meyers Leonard (11), Will Barton (40)

I like Lillard, and I think he fits. It's just too high to draft him here. Leonard was an even bigger reach. That said, I think Barton is a steal at 40. His athletic numbers are solid, and he made a big leap from freshman to sophomore year.

Sacramento Kings
Picks: Thomas Robinson (5)
Grade: A

Only one pick, but they managed to add major value. The second time in three years the Kings got a potential star at the 5 they had no business getting. Unlike Cousins, Robinson doesn't have the baggage. The Kings just had a couple of dumb GMs in front of them.

San Antonio Spurs
Picks: Marcus Denmon (59)
Grade: A

Like Kim English, Denmon was a hyper-efficient scoring freak. If you're the Spurs, who needs first round picks? Just wait until the other GMs barf away their picks on Lengthy McUpsides and assorted tall dudes, then strike. Denmon is a perfect fit for the Spurs' system, a guy who can spell Tony Parker or Manu Ginobili.

Toronto Raptors

Picks: Terrence Ross (8), Quincy Acy (37), Tomislav Zubcic (54)

Grade: D+

Tough to see what Toronto did to make itself better here. Ross is fine, but not at all worth the 8 pick. I thought Acy was worth a pick, but there were much better players available. I can't bring myself to have an opinion about Zubcic.

Utah Jazz
Picks: Kevin Murphy (47)
Grade: A-

If Damian Lillard went 6th, you know Murphy, another great shooter for a low-major, is a nice grab at 47. Murphy is not as strong all-around as Lillard, and his two-point and free throw shooting are red flags, but you have to like the opportunity here.

Washington Wizards
Picks: Bradley Beal (3), Tomas Satoransky (32)
Grade: F

Let's cut the Ray Allen nonsense out, okay? Bradley Beal was not in the top 40 in 3p% among the top 100 draft prospects. That's out of only 58 who had enough attempts. Given that is his bread and butter skill, it is pretty much tragicomic the dude went third in the draft. Satoransky? My goodness what a mess.