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+
141829872_crop_exact.jpgA 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
netskid_medium.gif 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+
chris-grant-070910-307.jpg 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.

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