As the NBA season reaches the end, I know many teams want to go back to the previous offseason and take back some of the contracts they offered (Beasley’s three-year, 18 million to Phoenix), or a trade (New Orleans trade of Jarrett Jack) that effected them negatively. Here, I wanted to do something similar, but with the draft. Overall, I would say that this year’s rookie class has been average at best. Portland guard Damian Lillard has been in the spotlight for most of the season, but guys like New Orleans forward Anthony Davis, Charlotte forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, and Washington guard Bradley Beal have also shined. The biggest surprise has to be Detroit center Andre Drummond, who went from an unknown to a fan favorite in less than two months.
After those five? It’s really been a gamble. Thomas Robinson went fifth to Sacramento, and got traded to Houston before the trade deadline, Harrison Barnes (7th overall to Golden State) has been lackluster for the past two months, Terrance Ross (8th to Toronto) is shooting just 40%, and Austin Rivers (10th to New Orleans) was having the worst rookie season ever before an injury ended his season. This draft class has the upside to be a great draft, but it’s been off to a terrible start. That being said, here is what I believe would’ve happened if the 2012 NBA draft would’ve went down today.
1. New Orleans Hornets
Original Pick: Anthony Davis | New Pick: Anthony Davis
New Orleans sticks with its original pick. The Hornets won the lottery, and the right to select Anthony Davis, and they keep with that notion. Over his rookie season, Davis has battled concussions and shoulder issues, but when he’s suited up, he’s looked impressive. After growing six inches between his high school junior and senior years, the one concern I had about Davis was how he would match up against other big men. Not only has he been able to stay in front of opposing NBA big men, but he’s also showing that he’ll contest their shot, averaging 2.3 blocks per 36 minutes. Needless to say, Davis will continue to grow into his body, and that could make him a legitimate All-Star talent for the Hor….er, Pelicans.
2. Charlotte Bobcats
Original Pick: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist | New Pick: Andre Drummond
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has looked good in his rookie season, but even he wasn’t touching Drummond. Even though the collective basketball fans took to twitter for the #FreeDrummond campaign, Drummond still averaged 7.5 points and 7.4 rebounds per game. When you look at his PER 36 numbers, Drummond averaged 13.7 points, 13.6 rebounds, 1.0 steals, and 1.7 blocks. The two things about Drummond that stood out to me was his ability to dominate in the pick-and-roll, scoring on 37 of his 55 total attempts, but he’s been active on the defensive end as well, showing his ability to be a bit of a defensive anchor. As Drummond develops, it’ll be interesting to see if he becomes a dominant center in this league, as he has all the tools to do so.
3. Washington Wizards
Original Pick: Bradley Beal | New Pick: Bradley Beal
One of the few picks to keep the same. The Wizards took Beal as a backcourt mate with John Wall, and so far, the results were so-so. In Wall’s return to the team, Beal’s scoring has increased, and he just looks more comfortable having someone create for him. Not only has Beal’s field-goal percentage increase, but rebounding numbers jumped as well. Going into next season, Beal still has little kinks to get out of his game; he’s a respectable defender, but still gets engulfed by screens, and his jumper, while good, seems to be a bit off, Beal will rise in the ranks of shooting guards, and could become something like Hornets’ guard Eric Gordon.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers
Original Pick: Dion Waiters | New Pick: Harrison Barnes
The Cavaliers shocked many on draft day, going with Syracuse guard Dion Waiters. In the re-draft, the Cavaliers go with Harrison Barnes. While Barnes’ numbers aren’t spectacular (13.1 points, 5.6 rebounds PER 36), he plays with two players who aren’t big on creating. In Cleveland, not only would Barnes get plenty of scoring opportunities, but he’d also be the perfect wing to catch-and-shoot on the wings opposite Kyrie Irving. Moving forward, I think Barnes will continue to develop into a versatile offensive player, but the defensive ability is what intrigues me. With a large wingspan, quick feet, and above-average intelligence, Barnes has the upside to become an elite defender.
5. Sacramento Kings
Original Pick: Thomas Robinson | New Pick: Damian Lillard
It’s so tough to re-draft for Sacramento because their original selection, Thomas Robinson, was trade just five months after being picked. However, there’s one guy that fits ; and his name is Damian Lillard. Going into the season, Sacramento had Jimmer Fredette, Isaiah Thomas, and a recently acquired Aaron Brooks to run the point guard position. The re-selection of Lillard gives Sacramento a point guard who can not only move the basketball, but also provides a leader on the floor. Unless someone explodes the next ten games, Lillard (19.0 points, 6.5 assists, .549 TS%) will win the award for this season’s best rookie, and moving forward, I believe Lillard could become one of the league’s top 10 point guards. While his age limits his upside a bit, Lillard looks to be a respectable guard for years to come.
6. Portland Trail Blazers
Original Pick: Damian Lillard | New Pick: Andrew Nicholson
With Lillard off to Sacramento, the biggest losers in this re-draft, the Portland Trail Blazers, has a couple of options. For this re-draft, I’m giving them Andrew Nicholson for many reasons. The first reason is it saves Blazers fans from the struggle of watching J.J. Hickson put up great numbers while not being actually good. The second reason has to do more with Nicholson’s game; he’s actually a pretty good player. For Orlando, Nicholson couldn’t find himself in the starting lineup but in those reserve minutes, Nicholson has shown the tools to be a solid offensive player. Per 36 minutes, Nicholson has averaged 17.7 points and 7.4 rebounds. When watching Nicholson play, he reminds me of Carl Landry, and if he can become an average defender, Nicholson will have a respectable NBA career.
7. Golden State Warriors
Original Pick: Harrison Barnes | New Pick: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
One of the biggest benefactors in this re-draft is Golden State. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist falls from second overall to seventh, partially because of team needs, but mainly because Andre Drummond and Andrew Nicholson. In his first season, Kidd-Gilchrist has looked good as an offensive small forward (12.7 points, 7.8 rebounds PER 36), but his ability to fit so many roles is what has me excited for his future. In his short tenure with the Bobcats, Kidd-Gilchrist has shown the ability to defend shooting guards and small forwards, battle for rebounds with power forwards, and defend point guards on the perimeter. Coming out of Kentucky, Kidd-Gilchrist has shown leadership traits, and as Charlotte rebuilds, MKG will be a valuable contributor.
8. Toronto Raptors
Original Pick: Terrance Ross | New Pick: Dion Waiters
Another tricky team. The Raptors could use a big man who could team up with Jonas Valanciunas, but with Andrea Bargnani and Amir Johnson, I think they go with Dion Waiters, who could’ve been the perfect fit for Toronto, mainly because of his ability to score like a shooting guard, and his ability to handle the ball could’ve gotten Waiters some time at point guard. Waiters has looked good at times in his rookie season, but my biggest question about him is what is his long-term role in the NBA. One of my biggest issues with Cleveland selecting him at 4 was that it seemed like he was the perfect sixth man. Regardless, Waiters has a niche in the league; his ability to score the basketball, and he shows some inkling of wanting to be an all-around shooting guard. If Waiters can become a more efficient player (.493 TS%), then Waiters will be well worth the fourth overall pick.
9. Detroit Pistons
Original Pick: Andre Drummond | New Pick: John Henson
Thanks to Drummond’s explosion, he’s not available for the Pistons at 9. However, John Henson is here, and the Pistons make him the pick. Coming out of North Carolina, Henson was the string bean power forward with the ability to defend small forwards and power forwards, and before Anthony Davis dominated college ball in his only season as a collegian, Henson was the player we seemed enamored with. While Henson’s numbers aren’t great, his advanced numbers (16.7 points, 12.3 rebounds, 1.5 blocks per game) are spectacular. Henson still has to develop, but he reminds me of Andrei Kirilenko. As Henson gets more playing time, his defensive ability should allow him to stay on the court, and that should help him figure out his offensive game as well.
10. New Orleans Hornets
Original Pick: Austin Rivers | New Pick: Meyers Leonard
The Hornets took Austin Rivers 10th overall and within weeks, found another player to play his role in Brian Roberts. Going back, the Hornets stay in the frontcourt and go with another explosive big man in Meyers Leonard. With Anthony Davis penciled in at power forward for the next decade, why not take his counterpart in the frontcourt? Coming out of Illinois, Leonard was seen as this supreme athlete, but also a bit of a mean streak. For the Blazers this season, Leonard has seen spot minutes, but his athleticism has shined through, and he doesn’t look awful on defense. Moving forward, Leonard has to be more active on the boards, and that could make him a starting center in this league for the next 8-10 years.
11. Portland Trail Blazers
Original Pick: Meyers Leonard New Pick: Kendall Marshall
With Lillard and Leonard being off the board, the Blazers have some decisions to make. First, they took Andrew Nicholson to beef up the frontcourt, and now, Portland goes with Kendall Marshall to run the team. Coming out of North Carolina, Marshall was seen as the perfect uptempo point guard. His ability to find the open man was special; allowing many people to throw comparisons to Jason Kidd and Mark Jackson on Marshall. However, there are a few questions I need Marshall to answer. Can he become a solid defensive player in an era of great point guards, and can he become enough of an offensive threat to get his teammates open. If he can solidify both, Marshall should have a successful NBA career.
12. Houston Rockets
Original Pick: Jeremy Lamb | New Pick: Jeremy Lamb
This is the toughest and easiest pick for me. Lamb was traded to Oklahoma City, and has yet to show why he selected in the lottery. However, he was then flipped to Oklahoma City in a package for James Harden. I don’t think Houston goes with anyone else here. In his rookie season, Lamb has seen his time split between the NBA and the NBADL, primarily because of Oklahoma City’s depth in the backcourt. Between Reggie Jackson, Kevin Martin, and Derek Fisher (I wish I was kidding), Lamb has seen spot minutes at best for the Thunder. However, if Oklahoma City loses Martin this offseason, I’m curious to see what Lamb brings to the table in the bench role. Coming out of Connecticut, Lamb was a monster athlete on both sides of the ball. His jumper still needs improvement, but he seems to be a classic UConn wing player, who has the tools to offer defense and intelligence to that OKC second unit, when his minutes increase.
13. Phoenix Suns
Original Pick: Kendall Marshall | New Pick: Terrence Ross
The Suns went after Eric Gordon last summer, so the wing position was somewhat of a need. Instead of drafting Kendall Marshall to back up Goran Dragic, the Suns add Terrance Ross to help build up a wing position that’s currently fronted by Shannon Brown, Jared Dudley, Michael Beasley, P.J. Tucker, and Wesley Johnson. Moving forward for Terrance Ross, I almost feel bad for him. With DeMar DeRozan and Rudy Gay ahead of him, it’s tough envisioning him leapfrogging either of them. What intrigues most about Ross is his frame and his ability to shoot the basketball. Ross is now shooting 40% from the field, but coming out of school, he seemed like a great shooter. Ross may never profile to be anything better than a role player, but I think with his shooting ability, he could be a huge asset for Rudy Gay, mainly because he could find himself open for a ton of corner threes.
14. Milwaukee Bucks
Original Pick: John Henson | New Pick: Terrence Jones
Sorry Thomas Robinson, I went with Terrence Jones here for the Bucks. While Terrence Jones is still flipping for the NBADL and NBA for the Houston Rockets, I still believe he has the tools to be a great talent for Houston in the future. At Kentucky, he showed me two things that impressed me. The first was his ability to adapt. He started as a small forward at Kentucky, moved to power forward, and still had moderate success. Not only did he do well on the offensive end, but he was solid on the defensive end at both position. The second thing that impressed me was that he just seemed tough. Battling for rebounds, fighting for loose balls, defending on the perimeter, he just seemed like a grinder, and whether he is or not, showing it was enough for me. As Jones progresses in his rookie season, I think he has the upside of an NBA starter, as long as he improves his jumper. If Jones can become a solid three-point shooter, I think he can find himself in the rotation as early as next season.
What do you think about the draft redo?