NBA Draft’s Winners And Losers
With the NBA Draft in our rearview mirrors, its time to start critiquing players before we’ve even seen them play in the NBA. But that’s what makes the draft so much fun; no one knows how one player is going to turn out in the pros. Remember when Darko Milicic was taken over Carmelo Anthony…and Dwyane Wade…and the Heat’s pet dinosaur Chris Bosh? Me too. So since we have no idea how a player is going to pan out, we can only guess who had a good draft, and who had a poor draft. Here are the 2012 NBA Draft’s winners and losers.
New Orleans Hornets:
A team desperate for hope, they watched their playoff dreams sail off to Los Angeles in the form of Chris Paul. They needed this draft to start the youth movement, and they got exactly that. With the first overall pick, they took the stud forward Anthony Davis to build the franchise around. They followed that up with a solid guard in Duke’s Austin Rivers. A lot of people criticize his shoot first mentality, but he didn’t have anyone around him at Duke that could really create their own shot. This is a kid who grew up in the NBA culture, and although Jarrett Jack will start the season in the first five, don’t be surprised if Rivers plays his way into a starting role. Oh yeah, and they got Darius Miller in the second round, a four year player at Kentucky. Add in the fact that they will still have Eric Gordon, and you got a team that could definitely turn it around.
The Mavs solidified a draft class through trades rather than actual drafting, but still got a good incoming group nonetheless. In a trade with the Cavaliers that brought them high scoring slasher Jared Cunningham, 27 year old (and experienced) center Bernard James, and an experienced big bodied Jae Crowder, the Mavs received a potential starter (Cunningham) and two role players who could contribute a lot this season.
Jared Sullinger fell into the Celtics’ laps at pick 21, but they aren’t complaining. Sullinger has the talent of a lottery pick and if he can stay healthy, he can do a lot of damage in the NBA. After being scorned by the lottery teams and not even being invited to the draft, Sullinger will have a chip on his shoulder and will be ready to play come October. They also got a powerful presence in the middle with center Fab Melo (who I said they should get in my last article http://www.takingbadschotz.com/?p=7059). He has raw skills, but is a big enough body to be a staring NBA center. Add both of those picks with their selection of Kris Joseph in the second round and you got the formula for a very good draft.
Oklahoma City Thunder:
Not much to say about this pick…oh except it may be one of the best of the entire draft. It’s no secret the Thunder like to build their team through the draft, and when the draft lottery talent of Perry Jones III fell all the way to the 28th pick, the Thunder were ecstatic. Jones III is one of the best talents in the draft and could have gone top ten if there weren’t attitude and injury concerns. He is extremely athletic, and he only makes the Thunder younger and better (which is a very scary thought for the rest of the NBA).
The Cavaliers, still recovering from losing Lebron James, made huge strides in the draft last year by getting Rookie of the Year Kyrie Irving. They took a step back this year by reaching too far, so far that owner Dan Gilbert probably threw out his shoulder. With the fourth pick, they could have gotten UNC standout Harrison Barnes, or Kansas star Thomas Robinson, but instead went with Dion Waiters, Syracuse’s sixth man? Very questionable. They then had three draft picks they could have used to beef up their bench or try and get a late steal, but traded all three away to the Dallas Mavericks for injury prone center Tyler Zeller? Even more questionable. Don’t get me wrong, Waiters can get to the rim as good as anyone and anytime a team gets an athletic 7 footer it’s a good thing, so the Cavs could still end up winners. But compare these two players to all the other ways they could have drafted, and you have to consider them Draft-day-losers.
This was the draft where the Nets were going to convince Deron Williams to stay. This was the draft where the Nets were going to prove to Dwight Howard they are committed to winning. This was the draft where the Nets…select two players who may never see the court? I will give them credit for landing Kansas stud Tyshawn Taylor (who I think was grossly undervalued). But then they select two foreign players who still need development overseas. I hope Brooklyn has a very good sales pitch for D-Will and Superman, cause the draft didn’t help.
New York Knicks:
I know what your thinking. “Tyler, how could the Knicks be draft day losers when they only had one, late second round pick?” Well they are losers for exactly that reason. Let’s remember what gave them that lone second round pick, shall we? They traded away their first round pick in a three-team trade…FOR TRACY MCGRADY! The deal was to get them under the cap for Lebron James, WHO THEY DIDN’T GET! T-Mac didn’t do anything for the squad and was a waste of a pick. Then in the second round, they draft Kostas Papanikolaou, an overseas project. I mean the New York Post didn’t even know who he was; they printed a picture of his teammate! https://twitter.com/CtotheI/status/218695029944893442 The Knicks are trying to win a championship, but they aren’t helping Amare and Carmelo with a player that won’t be there for 2 years.
This team tried its best to get into the top ten, but just couldn’t do it. With three first round picks though, the Rockets looked like they were poised to make a splash and lure Dwight Howard to Texas. They then drafted Jeremy Lamb who doesn’t fit with the team and a very risky Royce White who may not live up to his potential due to his general anxiety disorder and fear of flying. Although I love Terrence Jones and think he could be a standout from this draft, he was the only pick I thought the Rockets got right, Maybe they are beefing up their assets to prepare for a big time trade, but until that happens, they are branded a loser.
Also, a quick congratulations to Michael Jordan. This may be his first successful draft in his front office history!