The 2012 NBA Draft played out much the same as the 2012 NBA Finals: without much drama and at least one certainty. While the coronation of King James deepened the rifts between basketball fans, the selection of Anthony Davis by the New Orleans Hornets reminds even the most disenfranchised among us of a near inescapable fact: it only takes one.
While every draft expert had the Kentucky phenom Davis at the top of their boards, few anticipated Charlotte making the smart decision and selecting fellow Wildcat Michael Kidd-Gilchrist with their second overall selection. Charlotte has earned a reputation recently of zigging when most expect them to zag, often straight into oncoming objects or even into their own way. This time, Michael Jordan got the best of us all, selecting a franchise player whose college coach, John Calipari, publically lauded as being the type of person whom any team can build around. The Bobcats making the “correct” selection may have been one surprise of the night, but there were certainly other curiosities that stuck out as David Stern kept walking to the podium through a chorus of boos.
- Cleveland feels like the big loser on the night, missing out on Davis, Kidd-Gilchrist and Bradley Beal. Dion Waiters may be a good player, but the Cavaliers already have a guard in Kyrie Irving that fills the same role. The immediate response to the selection was that the Cavaliers solidified their backcourt with this pick, but Thomas Robinson from Kansas made much more sense for a team desperate to build an interior presence. Consider they traded three picks to Dallas for the rights to North Carolina center Tyler Zeller and you have to wonder if Cleveland panicked at the four spot.
- Speaking of Dallas, Zeller could have been an outstanding addition for an old team trying to get younger. The volume trade makes sense on paper, but Zeller is an athletic big man who could have really helped fill the shoes of the departed Tyson Chandler and the evicted Lamar Odom.
- New Orleans will not be a lottery team next season. Anthony Davis and Austin Rivers are a dynamic one-two punch that is eerily reminiscent of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook (with just as much upside). The fact that Portland and Toronto passed on the former Duke star Rivers in favor of other guards (Damian Lillard from Weber State, Terrence Ross from Washington) will be remembered.
- Royce White may be the steal of the draft. Houston may have lucked out on this whole “package-a-bunch-of-picks-for-Dwight-Howard-and-then-lure-Derron-Williams-back-to-Texas” scheme. Although Connecticut’s Jeremy Lamb remains somewhat of a project as a shooting guard in the NBA, White and Kentucky’s Terrence Jones will open up some unique sets for the Rockets. Though many casual fans likely missed White during his time at Iowa State, to hear Kevin McHale talk about the unique set of skills he possesses at his position and at his size, it’s hard not to be excited to see what he can do at the next level. Remember, McHale was the mastermind behind trading Rudy Gay to Memphis in order to acquire Kevin Love; his eye for talent has panned out in the past.
- What happened to Indiana? Stuck at the 26th spot, the Pacers fell victim to snipers as both Boston and Memphis selected players that would have likely been perfect fits in the Pacers young lineup. Tony Wroten Jr. from Washington could have provided the Pacers with the type of point guard they have lacked since Mark Jackson departed. Either Jared Sullinger from Ohio State or Fab Melo of Syracuse could have freed up David West from his role and added some much needed size to compliment Roy Hibbert. Instead, the Pacers selected Miles Plumlee…exactly.
- Boston did well drafting Sullinger and Melo. If Melo can truly evolve into a premiere defensive presence in the paint and Sullinger regains his scoring touch (and health), the Celtics may well replace Chicago as the favorites to knock off Miami next season.
- Miami had the chance to draft Perry Jones III and did not. Either they really believe the Baylor forward has serious knee issues, or they….well, that is the most likely explanation. Time will tell if they regret the decision to take Mississippi State’s Arnett Moultrie instead. Perhaps as soon as next years finals….
- …Oklahoma City was handed a gift by the other 28 teams. Perry Jones III is a do-it-all forward that immediately makes the Thunder an even more dynamic defensive and offensive team. The thought of Jones III and Serge Ibaka patrolling the paint will send opposing guards into hibernation when asked to drive the lane. Offensively, he takes nothing away from Westbrook or Durant but rather supplements their game with his ability to score anywhere on the floor. Beyond all of what he can do on the floor, it also gives the Thunder some flexibility in finding trade partners for James Harden. Provided Jones III stays healthy, the Thunder may have just punched their tickets for a dynasty at the expense of a certain team in Florida.
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