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Thursday, June 28, 2012

2012 NBA Draft Grades (Part One)

Atlanta Hawks - John Jenkins (23), Mike Scott (43)

Grade: D+

Atlanta helped start the run on questionable picks in the late first round. Jenkins was bad, but it got progressively worse. Jenkins is a great shooter, perhaps the best in the draft, but cant play a lick of defense. Some scouts believe he can be the next Redick, but even if he turns out, Im not sure thats what the doctor ordered for Atlanta. I would bust them more if Fab Melo didnt go the pick before, but there wasnt a center available in a whole separate tier from Jenkins.

With Mike Scott, the Hawks got a talented college player who doesnt translate great to the NBA. I could bust on every team for passing on Drew Gordon, but that wouldnt make this fun. For the players picked around Scott, its not a noteworthy pick. Scott went right after the talent crop started to get thinner.

Boston Celtics - Jared Sullinger (21), Fab Melo (22), Kris Joseph (51)

Grade: A+

I like all of these picks. Sullinger very well could be the steal of the night. The Celtics got a top ten talent with a pick outside the top 20. I think the Celtics would have been willing to trade up for him, but instead all those knocks that were leaked about Jared allowed him to fall right into Ainge's lap. I liked the idea of staying put in a deep draft. Melo complements Sullinger well with his defense and is another definite first round talent.

Getting Kris Joseph at 51 is about all you can ask for. He was Melo's teammate at Cuse. Ideal scenario for him. And he gets to play behind Pierce and watch Garnett work. Joseph has talent and is really good at getting to the line, he could become something.

Brooklyn Nets - Tyshawn Taylor (41), Tornike Shengelia (54), Ilkan Karaman (57)

Grade: B-

If we were to consider the fact that they traded their lottery pick (which became Harrison Barnes) for Gerald Wallace, then the grade would be much lower. Still, lets not look at the grade and believe Billy King is competent GM.

At 41, they bought Tyshawn Taylor from Portland. He would have been a good pick from the late first round on, so it was good value here. Brooklyn needs major help at the PG position and Taylor could push Farmar for his spot. They are kind of similar players, a little turnover prone but Tyshawn brings great defense to the table. With their international guys, they stayed on the board and took two guys that were actually on pundits' radars. They don't have that mythical immense potential that they won't ever live up to, but they do have quality playing experience.

Charlotte Bobcats - Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (2), Jeff Taylor (31)

Grade: B

The Bobcats set the tone for the rest of the draft at number two, surprising people by neither trading the pick or taking Thomas Robinson. Instead they took Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who can immediately change the culture of that team defensively. Bobcats were a good defensive team not too long ago with Gerald Wallace and MGK has been compared to the former Cat. Bobcats will certainly jump up from their league worst 107.8 defensive efficiency.

The worry about this pick though, is the pressure Kidd-Gilchrist will have offensively. Its good they brought in Gordon, and perhaps in retrospect, they may have made that trade knowing they were going to take Kidd-Gilchrist. But still, the #2 overall selection isn't a very good offensive player and a bad team could force him into bad habits. I wouldnt be surprised if he shoots under 40% this year.

Their second pick was Jeff Taylor. He reinforces their defensive philosophy for this draft. Him and Kidd-Gilchrist might be the two best wing defenders in the draft. He can back up both wing positions and provides some shooting that Kidd-Gilchrist can't. Good to see the Bobcats getting more athletic and not having to play Matt Carroll, but I think Thomas Robinson and Jeff Taylor would have looked better on paper. Still, Id be satisfied as a Charlotte fan.

Chicago Bulls - Marquis Teague (29)

Grade: A

The Bulls stayed put despite trade rumors circulating around the Chi city winds and were elated to find Teague still available. They desperately need ball handlers for next year and Teague brings that along with a ton of upside. I thought Tyshawn Taylor would have been a nice pick here because he could transform into a nice role player once Derrick Rose comes back, but Teague will make a nice trade chip if Chicago can develop yet another talent.

Cleveland Cavaliers - Dion Waiters (4), Tyler Zeller (17)

Grade: C-

Both of these players have talent and could end up making this grade look silly. Waiters, however, didn't deserve to go #4. The Cavs reached hard for a guy who didnt even workout for them. He basically rose all the way up to their spot on pure allure. He's got potential and can be a nice scorer, but he needs the ball in his hands and the Cavs should be focused on getting the right pieces around Kyrie. Waiters is not it.

With Zeller, he's obviously good value at 17. And hes a good fit. But look at what they traded. They gave up the 24th pick, 33rd, and 34th. In a deep draft, they could have added plenty of depth on a roster that needs it. Zeller arguably was the last guy available in his tier, especially if you are a team worried about injuries to Sullinger and Perry Jones, so I understand why the Cavs chose to play it safe at 17.

Dallas Mavericks - Jared Cunningham (24), Bernard James (33), Jae Crowder (34)

Grade: C+ (Actual Picks) B+ (turning pick #17 into 3 draft picks plus the draft picks)

The Mavericks added some solid depth to their team by trading back from 17 to 24. I think they were hoping Fournier would still be on the board, because when the 24th pick came back up they were said to be trying to trade back again. Instead, they had to settle for taking Jared Cunningham too high. He's got nice potential, but he's yet another combo guard on a team full of them (Beaubois, West, Terry, Jones, Calathes, even Kidd). So they reached for a player that doesnt even fill a need.

They came back strong in the second round with the two other picks they got in the Zeller trade. James and Crowder are both mature, hard working guys who will be great NBA defenders. They'll approach the game with a business-like attitude and do all the little things. Both are NBA ready and good value at their slots.  I dont think there is any question that they'll be on the opening day roster.

They also sold Darius Johnson-Odom for cash.

Denver Nuggets - Evan Fournier (20), Quincy Miller (38)

Grade: A-

Nuggets already have a full roster so getting an overseas player in the first round was a good bet. Fournier was good value at that spot and could come off the bench in a year and provide a change up to Afflalo's game. Nuggets have been good at drafting in the 20s lately and could have found another solid find here. Their second round pick may have fans even more exciting, getting the former #1 high school player in the country in Quincy Miller. Miller has fallen off since then due to injuries, but if he gets his legs back hes a steal. He was my best player available on the board for awhile during the draft. A very good reward possibility here with absolutely no risk. Great pick.

Detroit Pistons - Andre Drummond (9), Khris Middleton (39), Kim English (44)

Grade: C-

Dumars made the obvious selection when Drummond was on the board at 9. Can't really fault or credit him for that one. They needed a big man and get the BPA. Everyone sees this as a perfect fit at first glance. Im worried. For one, this isnt a great situation for Drummond to play in. Detroit has no quality veterans to show Andre the way. They haven't been great at developing talent (Afflalo, Milicic, Daye) and play a slowed down offense centered around Monroe. This is going to force one guy out of position and will diminish any defensive advantage they would seem to have picked up. Im being a little harsh, but the Drummond/Monroe frontcourt is no simple slam dunk.

In the second, they took Middleton who has a nice offensive repertoire. At one point he was viewed as a potential first rounder and then underwent a coaching change this season. He also had nagging injuries. He's able to get his shot off, the only problem is he was one of the worst jump shooters among drafted wings. If he fixes that, he could be a nice little player.

Middleton, along with Kim English were picked a little too high. But its semantics. English will be the only spot up shooting guard on the roster. Hes a hard worker and will be determined to make the team.

Golden State Warriors - Harrison Barnes (7), Festus Ezeli (30), Draymond Green (35), Ognjen Kuzmic (52)

Grade: B

Warriors caught a break with Barnes falling to them. They got one of the top tier talents in the draft and sewed up their need at small forward. He'll join other rookies Ezeli and Green on the roster.

Ezeli was the final pick of the first round so the Warriors were able to lock up a potential back up center for cheap. Backup centers on the open market go for way to much so its a decent pick, even though I dont think Ezeli will ever be a starter.

Draymond Green at 35 fits in well and gives the team a true competitor. He'll have no problem carving out a role on the Warriors roster.

Kuzmic is one of those mythological potential guys. Nothing wrong with going in that direction when you have four draft picks.

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