Home Featured 2012 NBA Draft Re-grade: Western Conference

2012 NBA Draft Re-grade: Western 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 in 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. 

New Orleans Hornets

Picks (Pick No.): Anthony Davis (No. 1), Austin Rivers (No. 10), Darius Miller (No. 46)

Currently a top five player in the NBA, Anthony Davis is the best No. 1 overall pick of the decade. Davis averages a career 24 points and 10.4 rebounds per game, is a seven-time all star and three time All-NBA selection. He’s second in points behind Damian Lillard, second in rebounds behind only Ande Drummond and first in win shares at 82.3. He is the best player in this draft and would be taken No. 1 overall again. 

The peripherals of this draft were solid for New Orleans, as well. They picked up an additional first round pick in the trade that sent Chris Paul to the Clippers and selected Austin Rivers with the No. 10 pick. Rivers wouldn’t be picked 10th again but he has turned into a solid bench piece during his eight-year NBA career. Miller only lasted five seasons in the NBA, but that’s more seasons than the No. 46 overall picks in 2010 and 2011 combined. 

Grade: A+ | Davis has turned into the best big man of the decade and one of the best players in the NBA. 

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Sacramento Kings

Picks: Thomas Robinson (No. 5), Orlando Johnson (No. 36)

As much as the Pelicans hit on their picks, the Kings missed on theirs. Sacramento selected Robinson out of Kansas with the No. 5 overall pick who was a star for the Jayhawks in his final year of college. His stardom didn’t translate to the NBA. He only played five seasons in the league, never averaged more than 5.7 points in a season and he started just 16 games in his career. 

Early in the second round, the Kings drafted Orlando Johnson and traded him to the Pacers for cash the following day. That turned out to be the right move considering Johnson played 103 games over three seasons and was out of the league. Sacramento didn’t do much at all to improve on their 22-44 campaign in 2011-12. 

Grade: D | Eight seasons between two players both drafted in the top 36 is not good no matter how you spin it. It only gets worse when one of them was a top 5 pick.

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Portland Trail Blazers

PIcks: Damian Lillard (No. 6), Meyers Leonard (No. 11), Will Barton (No. 40), Tyshawn Taylor (No. 41)

As we discussed in the Eastern Conference version of the 2012 re-grade, the Blazers got the No. 6 overall pick in a trade with the Nets and went on to select the second best player in this draft who leads the class in points and assists. Nobody has played more games or minutes that Lillard either. Portland will always be remembered for drafting Lillard at No. 6, but they drafted well after that as well.

Leonard and Barton have both played at least 442 games and over 7,000 minutes. Barton has clearly had the better career which is awkward considering he was taken 29 spots lower than Leonard. Nonetheless, Portland drafted three players who have played all eight seasons since being drafted and one of the best scoring point guards in the NBA today.

Grade: A+ | This one is easy. 

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Golden State Warriors

Picks: Harrison Barnes (No. 7), Festus Ezeli (No. 30), Draymond Green (No. 35), Ognjen Kuzmic (No. 52)

Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. The core of the Warriors’ dynasty all came from the draft and this is the most impressive. Green, the third Golden State pick in this draft, is easily the best player out of the four selections. He’s third in rebounds and second in assists as the No. 35 overall pick. It’s reasonable to wonder what his career would look like had he gone somewhere else but he ultimately went to Golden State and became a key contributor on three championship teams.

Barnes was also a part of the first championship team and has gone on to prove he can score at a respectable level in the NBA, averaging at least 14.7 points per game every season since leaving the Bay Area. He wouldn’t be the No. 7 pick again but he would be a lottery selection and he helped the Warriors win a title. 

Grade: A+ | Golden State gets an A due to the impact these selections had on winning championships, not because they are of the same caliber as Davis and Lillard who also earned their teams an A+ grade.

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Houston Rockets

Picks: Jeremy Lamb (No. 12), Royce White (No. 16), Terrence Jones (No. 18)

It’s a good thing the Rockets picked Lamb first, because he’s the only one who has played all eight seasons since being drafted. He spent the first five years of his career coming off the bench in Oklahoma City and Charlotte and has become a large part of Indiana’s rotation with Victor Oladipo still working to fully recover from his gruesome knee injury. Jones had solid seasons for Houston including a 12.1 points and 6.9 rebounds campaign in 2013-14 but has only played two games in 2018-19 and wasn’t in the league in 2019-20. 

Royce White played just three games in his NBA career and struggled with his publicized fear of flying. He’s now training for a mixed martial arts career, but however you spin it, three games out of your No. 16 pick is not good.

Grade: C- | Any team would kill to have three top 18 picks, the Rockets didn’t do very much with theirs other than use Lamb as a piece in the trade that sent James Harden to Houston. 

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Phoenix Suns

Picks: Kendall Marshall (No. 13) 

The Suns made no trades in the 2011-12 campaign and ended it with drafting UNC’s Marshall with the No. 13 overall pick. Marshall was a stud in Chapel Hill but nowhere near that in the NBA. He played four seasons in the NBA and bounced around G-League teams through the 2017 season. In 2017, he returned to UNC and graduated in December of 2018 and is now the director of recruiting under Roy Williams for North Carolina men’s basketball. 

Grade: D- | I can’t speak for his coaching skills, but Marshall’s NBA career isn’t what you want from the No. 13 overall pick. 

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Dallas Mavericks

Picks: Tyler Zeller (No. 17), Darius Johnson-Odom (No. 55)

Dallas traded Zeller the day after the draft for Jae Crowder, Jared Cunnigham and Bernard James. Johnson-Odom played seven games over two seasons but you’re never expecting much from the No. 55 overall pick. The Mavericks were at a weird point in franchise history coming down from the high of winning the 2011 NBA Finals and moving into a different era. They didn’t expedite that process with anything they did in the 2012 draft.

Grade: C | Zeller certainly hasn’t had a bad NBA career, it’s just uninspiring. Just like this draft for the Mavs. Just like a C. 

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Denver Nuggets

Picks: Evan Fournier (No. 20), Quincy Miller (No. 38), Izet Turkyilmaz (No. 50)

Fournier is the only player to have a respectable NBA career. Miller played just 69 games over three seasons and Turkyilmaz never saw the floor of an NBA arena. Fournier is seventh in points at the No. 20 overall pick but Denver never really reaped the benefits of his play. He averaged just 6.8 points per game in his two seasons with the Nuggets compared to his 16 points per game over six seasons in Orlando. With that being said, Fournier would go much higher than 20th in a re-draft.

Grade: B | Fournier on his own is an A in the grade book, but just three seasons between the two other players keeps the grade from getting any higher than a B. 

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Memphis Grizzlies

Picks: Tony Wroten (No. 25)

Memphis was just a season away from going to the Western Conference Finals after going in 2012-13. A successful 41-25 2011-12 season left them deep in the first round. Wroten certainly wasn’t the best value, playing only four NBA seasons, especially with players like Jae Crowder, Draymond Green and Kris Middleton still on the board. However, the Grizzlies were in the middle of a run of successful years despite Chris Wallace continuing to make the wrong pick in the draft.

Grade: C- | Wroten is uninspiring, but it ultimately didn’t matter at the time. 

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Oklahoma City Thunder

PIcks: Perry Jones (No. 28)

The Thunder were one of the two best teams in the west in 2012, losing to the Heat in the NBA Finals. As a result, the draft was uneventful. Oklahoma City took Jones out of Baylor with the No. 28 pick. Jones played three seasons for OKC and then bounced around between G-League teams and overseas for the next several years. He is currently a part of Bursaspor in the Turkish Super League. 

Grade: C | The grade assigned to a team who didn’t make a great pick, but also didn’t need the player all that much either. 

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Utah Jazz

Picks: Kevin Murphy (No. 47)

The Jazz traded their 2012 first round pick to the Timberwolves in July of 2020 for Al Jefferson, who averaged 18.5 points and 9.5 rebounds during his three seasons in Utah. With their remaining pick, they picked Murphy out of Tennessee Tech who played 17 games over one season in the NBA. He’s since spent time in the G-League as well as overseas and currently plays in the Bahrain Premier League.

Grade: D+ | You’d like a little something more from the No. 47 pick, but it’s understandable that he didn’t make it in the NBA. 

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Los Angeles Clippers

Picks: Furkan Aldemir (No. 53)

Like the Jazz, the Clippers traded their first round pick to get a guy who was way better than the guy who was actually drafted with that pick. Austin Rivers was selected with Los Angeles’ first round pick but the Clippers got Chris Paul and six years of 18 points and 10 assists. They also picked a player in the draft who did nothing in the NBA. Aldemir played just 41 games over one season.

Grade: D+ | Because it’s only fair they get the same grade as Utah. 

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Minnesota Timberwolves 

Picks: Robbie Hummel (No. 58)

Hummel was elite at Purdue and could’ve been a really solid rotation piece in today’s NBA standing at 6’8. Unfortunately, injuries interrupted his career with the Boilermakers and it continued into his professional career. He injured his right meniscus in 2012 and then had more upper body injuries later in his career. He announced his retirement on October 4, 2017 after spending time overseas and is now a TV commentator and analyst. 

Grade: C- | It’s the No. 58 pick so it’s not a big deal, but still unfortunate Hummel’s career was cut short due to injuries. 

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San Antonio Spurs

Picks: Marcus Denmon (No. 59)

The Spurs went 50-16 in the shortened 2011-12 season. The result is a No. 59 pick and a player in Denmon who never played an NBA game. Denmon has played for the Zhejiang Golden Bulls since 2018.

Grade: No grade | There just isn’t anything here. 

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Los Angeles Lakers

Picks: Robert Sacre (No. 60)

The Lakers took Sacre out of Gonzaga who played 189 games over four seasons. Compared to the other No. 60 picks this decade, Sacre has played more games than every player except Isaiah Thomas, who was picked 60th in 2011. 

Grade: A | Relative to the typical value of a 60th pick, this was a good draft pick.

Photos by: Keith Allison / Wikimedia Commons, Frenchieinportland / Wikimedia Commons

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