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2012 NBA Draft Re-grade: Eastern Conference

by Josh Mullenix | @TheJMULL_

The 2012 NBA Draft is an interesting one. The top of this class is as good as any other draft in the decade. Anthony Davis, Bradley Beal and Damian Lillard went in the top six, but the next best players — Khris Middleton and Draymond Green — were both drafted in the second round.

The rest of the draft features a large number of solid role players from Harrison Barnes to Jae Crowder to Austin Rivers and 56 of the 60 players drafted played in an NBA game — for comparison, only 51 of the 60 players drafted in 2010 played an NBA game. The 2012 NBA Draft is one of those drafts that wasn’t horrible, but won’t be remembered for anything in particular, other than Draymond Green knowing the names of all 34 players drafted before him. Let’s re-grade it. 

Charlotte Bobcats

Picks (Pick No.): Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (No. 2), Jeffery Taylor (No. 31)

The 2011-12 Bobcats are one of the worst teams in NBA history. Charlotte went 7-59 and desperately needed a good draft to get them back on track and they didn’t exactly have one. They drafted Kidd-Gilchrist second overall and that was a mistake. To be clear, Kidd-Gilchrist has had a respectable career, averaging 8.5 points and 5.4 rebounds, but he’s obviously a mid-first round level out of this draft class. He’s 18th in games played, 15th in minutes and 16th in points.

Taylor, on the other hand, spent three seasons in the NBA and served a 24-game suspension in the middle of it after pleading guilty to domestic violence charges and malicious destruction of hotel property. He was actually a decent NBA player who could’ve come off the bench for a lot longer if he didn’t have those off-court issues. 

Grade: C- | Kidd-Gilchrist isn’t bad, but he clearly wasn’t the right pick at No. 2. 

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Washington Wizards

Picks: Bradley Beal (No. 3), Tomas Satoransky (No. 32)

Beal was picked third and would be picked third behind Damian Lillard and Anthony Davis if this class was re-drafted. He’s third in points, third in assists and fifth in win shares. Beal has transformed into one of the best scorers in the NBA averaging at least 13.9 points every year of his career and 30.5(!) points in 2019-20. He doesn’t do much else, averaging just four assists for his career, but has fit nicely alongside John Wall and stepped into the spotlight while Wall deals with lower body injuries.

Satoransky was drafted in 2012 but didn’t play an NBA game until he left FC Barcelona to enter the NBA. He hasn’t blown anyone away, but since entering the league he has been a reliable backup point guard, averaging 7.4 points, 4.1 assists and 3.1 rebounds in his career. 

Grade: A | It’s not an A+ because the Wizards could’ve gotten more value than they did out of Satoransky, but still a really solid draft.

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Cleveland Cavaliers

Picks: Dion Waiters (No. 4), Jared Cunningham (No. 24), Bernard James (No. 33), Jae Crowder (No. 34)

Cleveland drafted four players in this draft and their last pick is easily the best NBA player out of the four. Only Waiters and Crowder have played for more than four seasons. The Cavs didn’t do much with the other two picks they got from trades and it resulted in a 21-45 team not getting much better at all with four picks, one of them being a top five selection. 

Grade: C+ | The Cavs selected two guys who have played eight seasons in the NBA, but drafting Dion Waiters fourth overall is a mistake they wouldn’t make again.

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Toronto Raptors

Picks: Terrence Ross (No. 8), Quincy Acy (No. 37), Tomislav Zubcic (No. 56)

Upon arrival, it seems that Ross might be the wrong pick at No. 8 but after further investigation he would be picked around eighth again. He’s eighth in total points, sixth in games played and 11th in win shares. He might not go quite as high as eighth but he would certainly be a lottery pick again. He’s started and come off the bench for solid Toronto teams and has now found a place as a reliable bench scorer in Orlando. 

Acy played for six teams in seven years and wasn’t on an NBA roster in 2019-20 after only playing 10 games in Phoenix in the 2018-19 season. Zubcic was one of just four players from this draft to not play an NBA game. He spent time with the Thunder’s G-League team in December of 2015 before signing a contract with a Russian team in September of 2016. 

Grade: B- | Ross was ultimately a solid pick at No. 8 and Acy spent seven seasons in the NBA, but the value of those players doesn’t allow a grade much higher than this. 

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Detroit Pistons

Picks: Andre Drummond (No. 9), Khris Middleton (No. 39), Kim English (No. 44)

Only six players drafted in 2012 have made an NBA all-star team. Detroit drafted two of them, which is ironic considering they let go of Middleton, who might’ve helped them get out of the mediocrity hole in which they are still stuck in 2020. They traded Middleton before the 2013-14 season to Milwaukee for Brandon Jennings where he has turned into a two-time all star and maybe the second-best player on the best team in the NBA. 

Drummond has been arguably the best rebounder in the NBA since he was drafted in 2012. He’s pulled down almost 3,000 more boards than Anthony Davis, who is second in this draft class in that category. His career averages of 14.5 points and 13 rebounds are impressive and he was an All-NBA selection in 2015-16. Even though the NBA’s evolution has left Drummond in the dust, his numbers are ridiculous and he produces every season.

Grade: A+ | The Pistons drafted two of the six best players in this draft. That’s an A+ even if English only played 41 NBA games. 

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Milwaukee Bucks

Picks: John Henson (No. 14), Doron Lamb (No. 42)

Henson is one of those players who got left behind when the NBA game started to be played differently. He averaged 11.1 points and 7.1 rebounds his second season and looked like he would be an integral part of Milwaukee’s interior for a long time. However, his numbers have decreased every year since then and Milwaukee moved on to more versatile big men. 

Lamb was on the 2012 Kentucky team that won the national championship alongside Anthony Davis, but his career didn’t exactly turn out the same as AD’s. He played just two seasons and a total of 100 games before being out of the league in 2014. 

Grade: C+ | It’s not Milwaukee’s fault that the game pivoted away from Henson’s skillset, but it did and an average-at-best grade is the result. 

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Philadelphia 76ers

Picks: Maurice Harkless (No. 15), Justin Hamilton (No. 45), Tornike Shengelia (No. 54)

Contrary to popular belief, the Sixers actually had some solid seasons and even won a playoff series in 2012 against the Bulls after Derrick Rose tore his ACL in game one of that first round series. 

All three of these players were traded before ever playing a game in Philadelphia. Harkless was good value at the No. 15 pick, ranking at least 15th in most categories out of this draft class but was traded in a massive four-team deal in August of 2012 that included Dwight Howard going to the Lakers and Andrew Bynum finding himself in Philly. Hamilton and Shengelia played five seasons combined and a total of 158 NBA games. 

Grade: D+ | It’s just an ultimately useless draft for the Sixers. The best thing to come from it was a pick in that four team trade that was used to draft Landry Shamet. At this point, Philly is waiting around for a Process to Trust in. 

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Orlando Magic

Picks: Andrew Nicholson (No. 19), Kyle O’Quinn (No. 49)

It’s always awkward when your No. 49 pick is far better than your No. 19 pick. Both players came from schools that you don’t often see on the draft board — St. Bonaventure and Norfolk State. O’Quinn has played every season since draft night to Nicholson’s five, played 200 more games, scored 800 more points and played 2,600 more minutes. The Magic were still solid at this point, but they were about to trade Dwight Howard to the Lakers and better picks to expedite the rebuild would’ve been helpful. 

Grade: C- | It’s a C- because Kyle O’Quinn’s value at No. 49 shouldn’t be overlooked even if it isn’t spectacular. 

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Boston Celtics

PIcks: Jared Sullinger (No. 21), Fab Melo (No. 22), Kris Joseph (No. 51)

Sullinger was a two-time first team all-american at Ohio State and was solid in the NBA his first four seasons, averaging roughly 12 points and eight rebounds from 2013-2016. In 2014, he suffered a stress fracture in his foot that he would still be dealing with two years later. That and the changing landscape of the NBA as a pace and space game didn’t fit Sullinger’s skill set ending his NBA career sooner than it might have in a different era. 

Melo and Joseph both came from the 2011-12 Syracuse team that went 34-3 and lost in the Elite Eight to, believe it or not, Sullinger’s Buckeyes. The two played a total of 16 games and scored a total of 16 points.

Grade: D- | Seven seasons combined from three players is bad. Especially when two of them were drafted in the top 25. 

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Atlanta Hawks

Picks: John Jenkins (No. 23), Mike Scott (No. 43)

The Hawks, led by Joe Johnson and Josh Smith, went 40-26 in the 2011-12 lockout season and lost to the Celtics in the first round of the playoffs. Jenkins played for five teams in six seasons and didn’t play more than 43 games in a season after playing 61 as a rookie. The Vanderbilt sharp shooter never made more than 1.3 triples per game.

Scott, on the other hand, has turned out to be one of the highest value players taken in the second round. He’s never been asked to score but is now in his eighth NBA season and has appeared in 63 of the Sixers 65 games in 2019-20, making 10 starts. He’s top 20 in minutes played, points and rebounds in this draft class. That’s high value from the No. 43 overall pick.

Grade: B+ | Jenkins wasn’t good, but did play six seasons. Scott turned out to be a top 25 player in this draft at the No. 43 pick which is good value no matter how you spin it and is the reason the Hawks get a B+. 

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Indiana Pacers

Picks: Miles Plumlee (No. 26)

This re-grade isn’t about transactions that don’t have much to do with the draft. But in March of 2012 the Pacers traded their 2012 second round pick to Toronto for Leandro Barbosa. Yes, the Pacers still lost to the Heat in the conference semifinals that season but Barbosa’s 8.9 points over 22 games is still more than what Toronto got out of what turned out to be the No. 56 pick in the draft.

Plumlee has had a decent NBA career but played only 14 games in Indiana, spending most of his time with the Pacers’ G-League affiliate. He was traded the following summer for Luis Scola, who turned in 163 games over two seasons in Indiana and filled a bench role for a Pacers team that went to the conference finals in 2013-14.

Grade: C | It’s just uneventful. Plumlee didn’t make much of an impact at all in Indiana, but it wasn’t a bad pick at No. 26.

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Miami Heat

Picks: Arnett Moultrie (No. 27)

The summer of 2012 is right in the middle of the LeBron era in Miami. This draft is sandwiched in between two championships and seasons of 46-20 and 66-16 records. In other words, the draft couldn’t have mattered less. For what it’s worth, Miami’s 2012 second round pick was one of the assets traded to Cleveland for LeBron. 

Moultrie was drafted and then sent to Philadelphia the following day for another player — Justin Hamilton — that was also irrelevant in the NBA. That’s pretty much all you need to know.

Grade: D+ | Moultrie only played 59 NBA games so it wasn’t a good pick. But giving the Heat a bad grade here is a little like giving a senior in high school who’s already gotten into their dream school a bad grade. It just doesn’t matter and the senior doesn’t care. 

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Chicago Bulls 

Picks: Marquis Teague (No. 29)

This is an unfortunate draft for Chicago just because Derrick Rose had just gone down with an ACL injury, but the Bulls were so good in 2011-12 that they were never going to get much from the draft. They drafted Teague in with the No. 29 pick because he fell far further than he was supposed to and had just helped lead Kentucky to a national title. It didn’t work out as well as they had hoped, but the logic was certainly sound and there was no point guard drafted after Teague who had a better career — even if Teague’s lasted just three seasons.

Grade: C- | It’s just an unfortunate series of events that left the Bulls in a spot where they went and got a guy that maybe could fit what they needed at the time. 

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New York Knicks

Picks: Kostas Papanikolaou (No. 48)

Papanikolaou might have almost every vowel in his name, but his Wheel of Fortune value is way higher than his NBA value. He played 69 games over two seasons in the NBA, but the Knicks didn’t really care because they had just acquired Carmelo Anthony a year earlier and were about to go 54-28 and enjoy their best season of the 2010s.

Grade: D+ | It’s a bottom 15 pick who actually played in the NBA. That alone keeps the grade from being an F.

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New Jersey Nets

Picks: Ilkan Karaman (No. 57)

New Jersey should’ve stayed home. One pick and he never saw an NBA court. What’s even more awkward is the Nets traded their first round pick to Portland for Gerald Wallace. The pick was top three protected but conveyed at No. 6 and the Blazers proceeded to draft Damian Lillard.

Grade: F | One pick, no games and the Lillard pick just adds insult to injury.

Photo by: Keith Allison / Wikimedia Commons

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