The 2012 NBA Draft took place in Newark last night and the New Orleans Hornets began the night like the world knew they would: by selecting Anthony Davis. The 6'11” 222-pound power forward from Kentucky was the clear favorite to be picked first and is expected to be a franchise player for the rebuilding Hornets organization.
Most times, the first pick of every draft is known beforehand so lets take a more detailed look at the rest of the draft. First we'll look at the rest of the top-10, followed by teams that I believe had great drafts and finish with some additional thoughts.
Here's how the rest of the top 10 shaped up after Davis went to the Hornets:
2nd pick – Charlotte Bobcats – SF Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (Kentucky) —— There was a lot of talk about the Bobcats trading this pick, but I believe they made the best possible choice. Kidd-Gilchrist immediately changes the culture of the team with his hard work and winning mentality. Gives the Bobcats length and athleticism on the wing and a good partner for Kemba Walker in transition. Weakness: Needs to find an identity on offense.
3rd - Washington Wizards – SG Bradley Beal (Florida) —— By trading for Nene last season and Emeka Okafor this offseason, the Wizards definitely improved their frontcourt. Picking Beal gives them a guy who can spot up and make threes off John Wall's penetration. Valued as a top shooter in the draft and a good athlete, Beal will bring a ton of offensive talent. Weakness: Needs to work on his ball handling and off-the-dribble offensive game.
4th - Cleveland Cavaliers – SG Dion Waiters (Syracuse) —— Definitely a surprising pick in my opinion. I thought the Cavs might take Thomas Robinson or even Harrison Barnes, but I guessed wrong. Waiters has an NBA-ready body and can definitely score. He will take some of the scoring load off Kyrie Irving in the backcourt and is a strong finisher in the lane. Weakness: Needs to readjust to man-to-man defensive schemes after playing zone both years in college.
5th – Sacramento Kings – PF Thomas Robinson (Kansas) —— The Kings definitely got who they wanted at No. 5. Robinson is a hard-worker and gifted athlete for his size. A front-line of Robinson and young center DeMarcus Cousins could develop into a force down the road. Weakness: Robinson has made improvements to his offensive game but still needs to fine tune his skills on the block in order to become a consistent scorer.
6th – Portland Trailblazers – PG Damian Lillard (Weber State) —— Portland also got their first choice at No. 6. Lillard impressed a lot of scouts with his pre-draft workouts and was a force in college. He fills a hole at point-guard with the(probable) free agent loss of Raymond Felton. Lillard will also work nicely with LaMarcus Aldridge running the pick-and-roll. Weakness: Was forced to score a lot in college, so he needs to develop into more of a pass-first (if not more often) point-guard.
7th – Golden State Warriors – SF Harrison Barnes (North Carolina) —— I like this pick from Golden State. Barnes fits nicely with Stephen Curry running the point and Klay Thompson on the other wing. Barnes disappointed many last year at North Carolina but has star potential and good size. He will get a chance to play right away and his talents could be more fit for the NBA than college. Weakness: Needs to work on getting to the rim off the dribble; often settles for jump shots despite his athletic ability.
8th – Toronto Raptors – SG Terrence Ross (Washington) —— Don't know much about Ross from Washington but obviously the Raptors liked him enough to take him eighth. I do know he's a good shooter who's long and athletic on the wing. Weakness: From what I watched of him on tape, he definitely needs to get stronger.
9th – Detroit Pistons – C Andre Drummond (UCONN) —— He isn't one of my personal favorites, but Andre Drummond definitely has a big upside. His size at 6'11'' 278 lbs doesn't come along very often. Drummond gives the Pistons hope for the future building around current center Greg Monroe and point guard Brandon Knight. The question is whether Drummond is willing to work hard enough to reach his potential. Weakness: Needs to develop a post game on the block since he got most of his points in college on put-backs dunks.
10th – New Orleans Hornets – SG Austin Rivers (Duke) —— I believe the Hornets got a steal here at 10. Rivers has a ton of potential and could emerge as a star in this league. Rivers is a combo-guard who can create his own shot, shoot from deep and isn't short on confidence. Weakness: Needs to become a better passer and get stronger to be able to defend NBA shooting guards.
Let's now take a look at some teams that I believe had the best drafts:
New Orleans Hornets – It’s always a good start when you get the best player in the draft. Anthony Davis has star potential and will make an immediate impact on the defensive end. I believe Austin Rivers, who was picked 10th, was a steal. Rivers was criticized in college but I believe his up-tempo/isolation style of play fits the NBA game more so than college. Second round pick Darius Miller provides depth and athleticism to the wing position and the ability to make open 3’s. By pairing Rivers with young guard Eric Gordon, New Orleans possesses an explosive, youthful backcourt. With Davis up front and two scoring guards, the Hornets could be a team on the rise.
Golden State Warriors – In my opinion the Warriors addressed their needs as well as any team last night. Harrison Barnes could emerge as a star down the road, despite underachieving last season at North Carolina. He provides athleticism and scoring on the wing to compliment point guard Stephen Curry and shooting guard Klay Thompson. Festus Ezeli gives the Warriors depth and physicality in the frontcourt. I love the Draymond Green pick. Green could be a steal due to his high basketball IQ, rebounding ability and versatility.
Boston Celtics – I loved the draft the Boston Celtics had. They picked up Jared Sullinger who dominated the college game for two years. Yes, he is undersized, but he would have been a sure lottery pick if it weren’t for a back issue. Sullinger has proved he can produce at a high level and in my opinion was a steal at pick 21. Fab Melo immediately brings size and defense from the center position to a team that played undersized all season. Kris Joseph is also an underrated pick in my opinion. Joseph is long, athletic and a good scorer and will learn a lot playing behind Paul Pierce.
Some final notes:
– As much as I hate to say it since I want them to do well, I didn't think the Cleveland Cavaliers had a good draft last night. I think Waiters was picked too high at No. 4 and I didn't think giving up three values picks for Tyler Zeller was a good move. I'm not sure Zeller will be a reliable starter for them and Waiters might take shots away from Irving.
– As a Knicks' fan I have to address their pick at 48. Kostas Papanikolaou was definitely not the name I expected to here with guys like Darius Johnson-Odom and Kevin Jones still on the board. I don't know much about the guy, supposedly he's pretty good, but I don't like the pick. The Knicks have a small window to win a championship as Carmelo, STAT and Tyson Chandler are only signed for three more seasons at most and aren't getting any younger. This guy might not be on the team for two years so I don't get it.
– The best moment in the draft was clearly the “USA!” chants when military vet Bernard James was drafted by the Mavericks 33rd overall. This was a true patriotic moment and definitely a good change of pace from the boos that greeted Commissioner David Stern all night.