2012 NBA draft grades

The NBA Draft is an inexact science and no one is truly an “expert.” However, we didn’t do so bad in our final mock draft when compared to other high profile websites, at least according to BuzzFeed. But, with the results in, let’s take a look at every player drafted for every team with our grading system based on player potential and value (where they were selected). Brace yourselves because this may be the most comprehensive NBA draft grading article on the internet. I need a life.

Eastern Conference

Atlanta Hawks
Draft Picks: John Jenkins, SG, Vanderbilt (1.23), Mike Scott, PF, Virginia (2.13)

Jenkins is the best shooter in the draft and can make it rain all over the court. He has a quick release and should be successful in the NBA as a spot-up shooter. He can get to the basket, but will make his money on the perimeter. Expect him to be on the receiving end of many kick-outs and be a solid contributor off the bench.

Scott is a skilled power forward that is comfortable working in the post with a decent array of post moves, particularly a hook shot. He’s a big that can hit jumpers from mid range, including on pick-and-pop plays. Scott can bang and isn’t afraid to play down low. I’m not sure how much burn he’ll get on the court, but he’s a solid player that will mostly get time during blowouts.

GRADE: B-

Boston Celtics
Draft Picks: Jared Sullinger, PF, Ohio State (1.21), Fab Melo, C, Syracuse (1.22), Kris Joseph, SF, Syracuse (2.21)

The Celtics ain’t scared! Sullinger’s back issues didn’t deter the Celtics from taking the two-time All-American who possesses lottery talent, but who fell because of said back issues. There’s certainly some risk here, but the reward could pay off big. Sullinger will need to keep his conditioning as a priority because he’ll obviously need to keep his medical issue in check. More importantly, the NBA game is much faster with stronger players and despite having solid size, his lack of athleticism could end up keeping him on the bench longer than he’s used to.

Melo won’t contribute much at all offensively, but he has some really good potential on the defensive end. He made a leap in his conditioning and footwork from his freshman and sophomore year, so if he continues to improve, he’ll end up with a long NBA career as a defensive specialist. However, if he can’t keep up with offensive players, as well as defend the pick-and-roll, there could be some problems.

Joseph is an athletic beast with excellent length, which he uses on the defensive side of the floor to deflect the ball and close out passing lanes. Joseph should have enough tools to transition from the zone defense that Syracuse plays to the NBA one-on-one game. Joseph is a very good scorer that can slash to the hoop, but will need to work on his shooting if he wants to be a contributing rotation player.

GRADE: B

Brooklyn Nets
Draft Picks: Tyshawn Taylor, PG/SG, Kansas (2.11; acquired from the Portland Trail Blazers for cash), Tornike Shengelia, PF, Georgia (2.24; acquired from the Philadelphia 76ers for cash), Ilkan Karaman, PF, Turkey (2.27)

Taylor could end up being a very good backup to Deron Williams should D-Will re-sign with the club. Let’s just go under that assumption he does … mainly because I’m a Nets fan. In any case, Taylor dropped a bit further than most expected as he seemed a lock at the end of the first round or very beginning of the second round. He’s a hard-nosed athletic defender with excellent handle. Although he could play there, Taylor is a bit undersized to truly succeed at the two regularly and doesn’t quite have the passing ability to be a true point guard. However, he’s a basketball player from two big-time programs in Kansas (college) and St. Anthony (high school). He’ll do what he needs to do to earn time on the court.

Shengelia was one of the outstanding players at the recent adidas Eurocamp where he displayed an excellent feel for the game down in the post while showing an ability to pass the rock. He also has an effective face-up game. At this point, Shengelia will need to work on his rebounding and defense in order to make the jump to the NBA. This is a classic stash move by the Nets, allowing Shengelia to develop overseas with the hopes of bringing him over when he’s ready and in his prime.

Karaman is a strong player that plays above the rim. He’s very athletic and despite having the ability to step out to the three-point line as every stereotypical European big man, Karaman can also play with his back to the basket effectively and can grab boards. He plays with intensity and is very explosive. Funny and somewhat cosmically right that his nickname is “K-Mart” because he has a neck tattoo just like Kenyon Martin, although it isn’t a pair of lips. Again, another stash player for the Nets.

GRADE: B+

Charlotte Bobcats
Draft Picks: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SF, Kentucky (1.2), Jeff Taylor, SF, Vanderbilt (2.1)

It seems that the Bobcats decided to shun the reported five trade proposals put forth toward them before the draft. Kidd-Gilchrist will bring toughness, leadership and all the intangibles you’d want in a player. He’s an excellent defender with a high motor and can do some solid things offensively, particularly getting to the basket. He’s a jack-of-all-trades type of player, but also a master of none as he isn’t exceptional in any one skill. However, he’s great overall and should be a excellent piece in bringing the franchise back to relevancy.

Taylor had to be a best player available pick, right? Right? I hope so because otherwise Rich Cho just did a David Kahn and duplicated positions with his picks. Taylor is also a small forward with outstanding physical tools — athleticism, explosion, speed — and is every bit as good as his new teammate and fellow rookie at defense. Offensively, he’s improved his jumper, but will make his money from fast breaks and getting to the hoop. It’ll be interesting to see how the Bobcats play the new duo, but they’ll immediately make the team’s perimeter defense a strength.

GRADE: B

Chicago Bulls
Draft Picks: Marquis Teague, PG, Kentucky (1.29)

Here’s the Derrick Rose stopgap. Teague, like Rose, is an athletic and fast point guard that can break defenses down with his dribble. Also like Rose, Teague’s shooting needs improvement and consistency as he enters the NBA. He has some nice intangibles and should fit in nicely with the Bulls as a starter and back-up when Rose eventually returns. This is a great value pick that is also a tremendous need for the franchise.

GRADE: B+

Cleveland Cavaliers
Draft Picks: Dion Waiters, SG, Syracuse (1.4), Tyler Zeller, C, North Carolina (1.17; traded from the Dallas Mavericks for picks 24, 33 and 34 in this draft)

Waiters isn’t Bradley Beal, the shooting guard the team was rumored to be pining for, but the Cavs still selected a backcourt mate for Kyrie Irving. The duo have the potential to be one of the top backcourts in the league, right alongside the Wizards’ Beal and John Wall. But that’s only if Waiters comes as advertised, especially since there were some other talented players (Thomas Robinson and Harrison Barnes) who were still on the board.

The Maverickss really lucked out when Zeller dropped to 17th, as he was a mid-lottery pick in most mock drafts. However, the Cavaliers are even luckier because they were able to parlay a trio of picks for a relatively great talent. Zeller can really get down the floor, but also has some very good post moves. He’ll thrive big offensively with Irving as his point guard and I actually like this trade more than the draft pick above. You’re always dealing with the unknown with drafts, but Zeller is the more established and sure thing here compared to the three later picks.

GRADE: B-

Detroit Pistons
Draft Picks: Andre Drummond, C, Connecticut (1.9), Khris Middleton, SG/SF, Texas A&M (2.9), Kim English, SG, Missouri (2.14)

Expect Greg Monroe to slide over to the four position to make room for Drummond. What Monroe doesn’t give defensively, Drummond will more than make up for, as he should instantly become a defensive presence in the NBA with his athleticism, lateral movement and, most of all, 7-foot-6 wingspan. Offensively, he’ll need some work with post moves, but expect a lot of Drummond dunks on the break. Of course, despite the promise of high potential, Drummond could also end up being a bust. He’ll need some motivation to progress and hopefully getting paid millions won’t make him lazy.

Middleton has good size and is very athletic, but he’s more known for his jump shot. He’s an excellent shooter that should space the floor for Monroe to work in with lesser double-downs. Middleton is also a smart passer and never seems rushed when he plays. He also possesses the trait the Pistons hope Drummond has as well — coachability.

English has excellent basketball smarts, which is matched by his excellent jump shooting ability. He can let it fly as a spot-up shooter or off the dribble. He’s is a solid defender, but will get outmuscled by stronger twos because of his thin frame. He’ll occupy the end of the bench most of the season, but come in during situations that call for a three-ball.

GRADE: C

Indiana Pacers
Draft Picks: Miles Plumlee, C, Duke (1.26), Orlando Johnson, SF, UC-Santa Barbara (2.6; acquired from the Sacramento Kings for cash)

What the hell, Larry Bird? Are you mad about something and wanted to stick it to the Pacers before you left or something? Plumlee is a big-time athlete that can run the floor with a high skill level. He wasn’t a star at Duke, but he should do just fine with the Pacers, allowing Roy Hibbert to catch his breath. (Hibbert, a restricted free agent, may re-sign with the Pacers as the organization has said they would match any offer.) Plumlee might also find some time backing up the four, but surely, there were some other players Bird could have drafted, right? What the hell!

Johnson is a solid scorer that can score from just about anywhere on the court, utilizing spacing, his shooting range and ability to make difficult shots. His ball-handling skills are solid and he should end up being a bench contributor for the Pacers.

GRADE: D+

Miami Heat
Draft Picks: Justin Hamilton, C, LSU (2.15; acquired from Philadelphia 76ers, trading draft rights to Arnett Moultrie [1.27]; Heat also receive a future first-round pick)

Hamilton is a big center with very good post moves. He should provide a nice change of pace for the Heat, who currently don’t have a player with Hamilton’s offensive skill set and legitimate size to man the middle. I was kind of disappointed that the Heat traded away Moultrie because he would have been a great fit for the club. However, it’s kind of hard to question the champs.

GRADE: C

Milwaukee Bucks
Draft Picks: John Henson, PF, North Carolina (1.14), Doron Lamb, SG, Kentucky (2.12)

Henson is an excellent defender and rebounder, plus he can run the floor. Yeah, he kind of sounds like Anthony Davis, doesn’t he? Henson probably has it over Davis in regards to offensive polish at this point, as Henson has some solid post moves and should develop them even more at the pro level. Right now, Henson isn’t as great a defender as Davis, but there’s some really great upside here and the Bucks could benefit big down the line.

Lamb really dropped in the draft as he had some middle to late first round talent. All the better for the Bucks, who probably found Monta Ellis’ backup. Lamb is a great scorer in the mid range game and can shoot off the dribble. He also attacks the basket and can convert either at the rim or at the line. Very solid player from the NCAA champs.

GRADE: B+

New York Knicks
Draft Picks: Kostas Papanikolaou, SF, Greece (2.18)

Papanikolaou could end up helping the Knicks in a significant way down the line. He’s an aggressive player that can shoot the ball out to the three-point line and get to the rim. He’s an intense player with really good size at the three that enables him to also get a fair share of rebounds. This is an obvious stash pick for the Knicks.

GRADE: B-

Orlando Magic
Draft Picks: Andrew Nicholson, PF, St. Bonaventure (1.19), Kyle O’Quinn, PF, Norfolk State (2.19)

Nicholson is a very solid, mature big man with a high basketball IQ. He has a nice inside-out repertoire and can be utilized in the pick-and-pop game. He’s also a very good defender, and should free agent Ryan Anderson leave, Nicholson could end up being a nice replacement, albeit without the three-point shooting ability that Anderson has.

O’Quinn is a great value pick as he should make some sort of impact this season. He’s a physically strong player with a long wingspan that can block shots and get a lot of rebounds. This selection, along with Nicholson, really beefs up the Magic front line. The rotation is basically still in stasis as the Dwight Howard situation is ongoing at this point. However, some nice fours were had.

GRADE: B+

Philadelphia 76ers
Draft Picks: Maurice Harkless, SF, St. John’s (1.15), Arnett Moultrie, PF, Mississippi State (1.27; acquired through trade from Miami Heat, sending the draft rights to Justin Hamilton [2.15] and a future first-round pick )

Harkless has the ability to play the four position, but will be looked upon to fill the three. He’ll likely come off the bench with another great youngster in Thaddeus Young and eventually take over for Andre Iguodala, who is expected to be traded at some point. However, that song has been sung so many times, so who knows? In any case, Harkless is very athletic and can get to the basket, as well as rebound the ball. He’ll need to work on a consistent outside game, but he’s gifted enough to be able to make it happen given he puts in the work. Doug Collins will make sure he does.

Moultrie is a big man that may be able to play the center position considering his height at about 6-foot-11. He brings a high skill level and willingness to get better. Moultrie is a very good perimeter shooter with range to the three-point line and is also an athletic player that can finish on the break. Moultrie allows the Sixers to say goodbye to Spencer Hawes and possibly/eventually Elton Brand. The Heat may end up regretting trading Moultrie, but there were probably salary cap implications involved with the first rounder’s guaranteed money. It should pay off for the Sixers.

GRADE: A

Toronto Raptors
Draft Picks: Terrence Ross, SG, Washington (1.8), Quincy Acy, PF, Baylor (2.7), Tomislav Zubcic, SF, Croatia (2.26)

Is this the end of DeMar DeRozan Era, if there actually was one? Not necessarily, as Ross may have the size to play at the three or be part of a three-guard lineup on the floor. He’s an excellent shooter and as athletic as they come. I was somewhat surprised they didn’t take Austin Rivers who is just as dynamic a scorer as Ross, but also with the tools to play the point guard position, a need they may have depending on what they do this summer. However, the Raptors were probably in a “best player available” draft mode, looking to fill up their talent pool. But is Ross really better than Rivers? In any case, the addition of their draft pick from last year, Jonas Valanciunas can make the Raptors a young team to keep an eye on.

Acy is a super athlete who likes to attack the basket like it owes him money. A significant amount of his makes come off of dunks, which also lends itself to Acy having a great shooting percentage from the floor. He has excellent length that allows him to block many shots, which is something the Raptors do not currently have. If all things break right, Valanciunas and Acy could do some damage in the post for the foreseeable future.

Zubcic is a very tall three (6-foot-10) with excellent shooting ability out to the three-point arc. He’ll need to get stronger and is pretty much one-dimensional at this point, but the Raptors should let him stay overseas to develop before eventually calling on him.

GRADE: B

Washington Wizards
Draft Picks: Bradley Beal, SG, Florida (1.3), Tomas Satoransky, PG/SG, Czech Republic (2.2)

Beal, the top shooting guard in the draft, will be joining John Wall in the Wizards’ backcourt. This is significant because I believe that Beal is the player in this draft that can really help Wall maximize his potential. Beal can pretty much do it all, and despite being able to score at a prodigious rate, he’s also very unselfish. Beal and Wall will be one of the top backcourts in the game as soon as next season. Yes, I’m buying all of the hype.

Satoransky is a tall point guard, but could easily play the two or three when called upon. He’s an athletic player with the ability to get to the rim for the score or dish out to the open man. Satoransky has very good court vision, which is only amplified by this height. Should he come over to the NBA next season, as well as produce, the Wizards backcourt could be really scary to the rest of the league.

GRADE: A

Western Conference

Dallas Mavericks
Draft Picks: Jared Cunningham, SG, Oregon State (1.24; traded from the Cleveland Cavaliers for the rights to Tyler Zeller and Kelenna Azubuike), Bernard James, C, Florida State (2.3; see previous trade note), Jae Crowder, SF, Marquette (2.4; see previous trade note)

Cunningham is a versatile player that attacks the rim, both in the halfcourt and on the break, who also gets to the line because of his ability to get up off the floor and go straight at the hoop. He can also shoot from the outside at a very good rate. However, as good as his offensive game can be, his anticipation skills on defense will make him stand out on the floor. He could start at the two-guard as soon as next season.

James served time in the military and comes into the league as a 27-year-old rookie, which will probably save him a lot of headaches from adjusting to the NBA off-court life. He’s a strong player with great length and should provide a shot-blocking presence for the Mavs when he finds time on the court.

Crowder is a very solid all-around player that can score in a myriad of ways. He played some power forward because of his strong build, but won’t get away with that in the NBA at only 6-foot-6. He’s an overachiever type, but that’s not a slight in any way as it’s more praise for his high motor. He could become a fan favorite in Big D, as well as Shawn Marion’s eventual replacement.

GRADE: B

Denver Nuggets
Draft Picks: Evan Fournier, SG, France (1.20), Quincy Miller, SF, Baylor (2.18), Izzet Turkyilmaz, PF/C, Turkey (2.20)

Fournier really jumped up on the draft board, as most mocks had him later in the first round. It’s a very solid pick for the Nuggets as Fournier can space the floor, create his own shot and find the open man. He’ll join a solid rotation of Ty Lawson and Arron Afflalo and should be one of the first players off the bench for George Karl once he adjusts to NBA competition.

Miller has first round talent, but a past ACL problem probably caused him to drop. Even still, it seems like a steep drop, so this could end up being big for the Nuggets. Miller has great length, which he uses to make a lot of perimeter shots. His jumper can do a lot of damage. His thin frame doesn’t really lend itself to effective post moves, but Miller finds a way when he finds himself with the ball down low. He’ll probably spell Danilo Gallinari, but will need to gain some strength to maximize his talent and tools at the NBA level.

Turkyilmaz is the classic big man (7-foot-1) from Europe that can hit from the outside, but doesn’t do much on the inside. He’s very thin and unless he “trains” with Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds, his transition to the NBA won’t happen anytime soon, if at all.

GRADE: B

Golden State Warriors
Draft Picks: Harrison Barnes, SF, North Carolina (1.7), Festus Ezeli, C, Vanderbilt (1.30), Draymond Green, SF/PF, Michigan State (2.5), Ognjen Kuzmic, C, Bosnia (2.22)

Thanks to a ton of friends and family in the Bay Area, I know many Warriors fans breathed a sigh of relief when the team didn’t select Andre Drummond because they were scared of another Ekpe Udoh. Breathe easy, RJ and Dax. Instead, the team lucks out in getting a small forward that should be able to space the floor and make Stephen Curry and Andrew Bogut that much more effective. Barnes is a solid scorer who may back up Dorell Wright to begin the season, but expect the rookie to eventually take the job. Heck, the starting nod may happen as soon as the start of the season because Barnes is the real deal. And, more importantly, not Drummond or Udoh.

Ezeli is the classic big man that eats up space in the paint. He’s a bull in the paint, but with excellent lateral quickness, which helps his defense in the box area. He has a long wingspan that enables him to get a fair share of rejections. Offensively, he has one basic go-to hook shot, but is raw otherwise. He’s not a great rebounder for someone so big with so much length. Overall, however, he should be a solid contributor off the pine.

Green is a pretty good value pick in the second round as he definitely has first round talent. He’s a bit of a tweener, lacking the speed and athleticism to stick threes while being a bit undersized to play the four. However, what he lacks is more than made up for with his motor and high basketball IQ. Offensively, he can score facing up and with his back to the basket. Green has a solid mid range jumper with the ability to hit the NBA three. He’s also an excellent passer and should play some sort of significant role off the bench.

Kuzmic is a tall player (7-foot-1) with a long wingspan, but also very thin. He’s a high motor player that is very active down in the block and he rebounds the ball very well. Kuzmic lacks polish offensively, often getting points off of hustle, but he is a capable scorer. I’d expect him to stay overseas until he’s ready to make the move over to the NBA.

GRADE: A

Houston Rockets
Draft Picks: Jeremy Lamb, SG, Connecticut (1.12), Royce White, PF, Iowa State (1.16), Terrence Jones, PF, Kentucky (1.18)

Bye bye, Kevin Martin. Hello, Jeremy Lamb. Lamb is officially the heir apparent to be the Rockets’ shooting guard for the foreseeable future. Expect Martin to be traded at some point during the season, as his scoring ability and expiring contract will be attractive to many teams. Lamb is a very skilled player that has a ridiculous mid range game and should become a franchise cornerstone with the other draft picks the Rockets accumulated for this draft. Lamb is right up there in the “best shooter in the draft” conversation.

White is a very good pick for the Rockets. He’s a conundrum on the court as he’s a big that can handle the rock like a point guard with excellent vision and the ability to drop dimes on the regular. He can board, get to the hoop with solid explosion and play well against tough competition. I love to compare him to Boris Diaw, so expect a fair share of 10 point, eight rebound, six assist type of games once he gets consistent burn on the hardwood.

Jones has legit power forward size and strength. He’s very athletic and can finish on the break as well as take the ball and attack the hoop in the half court. Jones has some post-up moves and isn’t afraid to get physical in the box and get after boards. While he only played two seasons at Kentucky, he was on a Final Four and NCAA championship team, so he has a great pedigree. However, with the drafting of White, who will play the most minutes at the four? And do the Rockets make any further trades of players for, well, who knows? The team accumulated three first-round picks in hopes of swaying the Orlando Magic into sending Dwight Howard. Mission not accomplished. So the franchise will have to make do with the three rookies, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. However, it just seems like all the trading to accumulate picks was all for naught. At least for now.

GRADE: B-

Los Angeles Clippers
Draft Pick: Furkan Aldemir, PF, Turkey (2.23)

Aldemir is a physical player that mainly works in the paint. He’s an outstanding rebounder, which should translate into the NBA, but that’s about all Aldemir does. Offensively, he hangs in the box waiting for teammates to create for him or converts on offensive putbacks. Aldemir has no semblance of an outside game, so he’ll need to build his skills in order make a successful leap to the league. But, he’s a tough player who’s not afraid to do the dirty work.

GRADE: C

Los Angeles Lakers
Draft Picks: Darius Johnson-Odom, SG, Marquette (2.25; acquired from the Dallas Mavericks for cash), Robert Sacre, C, Gonzaga (2.30)

Johnson-Odom is a strong and quick player, but lacks the height (6-foot-3) to truly succeed in the NBA as a shooting guard. He’s a very good outside shooter, athletic, quick and can jump. Johnson-Odom has a high basketball IQ and generally doesn’t turn the ball over. However, he’s not particularly good at setting up teammates, which would be detrimental to spending time on the court because of his height, which dictates that he should have some point guard ability. He’s the classic tweener that can end up not playing much because he doesn’t own a position on the court. However, in a Lakers offense where Kobe Bryant dominates the ball, all Johnson-Odom will have to truly worry about is passing the ball to Kobe and hitting stand-still jumpers when the stars kick it out.

Sacre is a really nice player down in the box as he’s a legit 7-foot and plays like an old school center. He’s a very smart player with several post moves that allows him to either convert on the floor or from the free-throw line where he is a very good shooter. He’s not athletic and doesn’t use his strength to his advantage as much as he could, especially on the boards. You can’t teach height and because of that Sacre could end up being a solid part of the big man rotation in Los Angeles.

GRADE: B

Memphis Grizzlies
Draft Picks: Tony Wroten, Jr., SG, Washington (1.25)

Wroten is a tall point guard (6-foot-6) that could end up being a very good value pick this low in the first round. He’s athletic, can get to the basket, defend and has excellent passing ability. He still needs a bit of maturity, but he should get that on a solid team such as the Grizzlies. This means that the likely loss of O.J. Mayo won’t hurt as much with Wroten ready to take the two spot. Cheaper price, too.

GRADE: B+

Minnesota Timberwolves
Draft Pick: Robbie Hummel, SF, Purdue (2.28)

Hummel has a strong grasp of basketball fundamentals and while he won’t always make an exciting play due to a lack athleticism and speed, he also doesn’t make many plays that will make you groan. He’s a low risk-low reward player and is a very safe pick. Offensively, he has a very good jumper and can mix it up in the post a bit. Hummel is a good rebounder from the three position, but he did have experience playing the four in the college, so it shouldn’t be that surprising. He could end up being a solid wing off the bench for years in the NBA. Excellent value this low in the draft.

GRADE: B+

New Orleans Hornets
Draft Picks: Anthony Davis, PF, Kentucky (1.1), Austin Rivers, SG, Duke (1.10), Darius Miller, SF, Kentucky (2.16)

There’s no surprise here that Davis was selected first overall. He’s projected to be a game-changer, at the very least on the defensive end, but could grow into becoming a solid post player. I expect him to be a Marcus Camby-type that can board, block shots and run the floor. Hopefully, he won’t be as fragile.

It seems that Rivers wanted the Hornets more than the Hornets wanted him. Before the draft, he said he wanted to team up with Davis down in New Orleans to be a part of a strong nucleus with Davis and Eric Gordon, the free agent the team is expected to re-sign. Rivers can do anything on the court and you can ask him because he’ll tell you. There’s a certain amount of cockiness about Rivers, but he should be able to back up his talk considering how comfortable he should be on an NBA court after growing around the league. There aren’t any high expectations for the Hornets, so expect the franchise to throw the youngsters out there to make mistakes and grow. The Hornets can get really good after next season when they’ll have some cap space to work with for the big 2013 free agents.

Miller has a lot of experience playing for a few high-powered Kentucky teams as a role player type, displaying leadership and doing the small things to help a team win. He mostly works around the perimeter as he doesn’t really attack the basket due to a lack of elevation and athleticism. But he’s able to stick jumpers as far back as behind the three-point line and can get past defenders that over commit. Miller hardly makes any mistakes and is a excellent defender. He should be able to do more of that on the NBA level as a significant player off the bench.

GRADE: A+

Oklahoma City Thunder
Draft Pick: Perry Jones III, SF/PF, Baylor (1.28)

This could end up being a great pick for the Thunder. During the beginning of Jones’ freshman year, he was actually projected to be the first overall selection in many mocks. He has that much talent. However, there was a perceived dip in skill this season for Jones, who actually played out of position most of the season. It’s difficult to project what Jones will do with the Thunder as it will be dependent on where they play him. Since Kevin Durant will man the three, you’d have to assume that Jones will play the four, which could mean the eventuality of Serge Ibaka being let go when he becomes a free agent after next season. That would be a mistake, but Jones is so talented that it would be a mistake not to start him. Time will tell, but this is easily a low risk-high reward pick at the end of the first round. It’s easy to love this pick, value-wise.

GRADE: A-

Phoenix Suns
Draft Pick: Kendall Marshall, PG, North Carolina (1.13)

Marshall was drafted to be Steve Nash’s replacement, basically signalling the end of the Nash Era in Phoenix. Marshall has excellent vision and leadership ability, but unfortunately, he probably won’t be able to defend opposing point guards either. Marshall doesn’t really look for his own shot or create for himself and is nowhere near the shooter that Nash is, but he was selected for his passing ability and the intangibles he brings. Hopefully, he can grow as a shooter with his work ethic. However, he does seem to be a bit too one-dimensional at this point.

GRADE: C+

Portland Trail Blazers
Draft Picks: Damian Lillard, PG, Weber State (1.6), Meyers Leonard, C, Illinois (1.11), Will Barton, SG, Memphis (2.10)

The Blazers get the point guard they needed and what a dynamic point guard they get. Lillard is known as a scorer, but he should be able to adjust to the point guard position in the NBA just fine as he is a solid passer, particularly when he drives and dishes. He has blazing speed that allows him to score at the rim, where he also draws a lot of contact that sends him to the charity stripe where he is a very good shooter. He has range well beyond the three-point line and is a deadly shooter from all over the court. The two main concerns about Lillard playing the lead guard position is his natural tendency to try to create for himself and score, as well as the weaker competition he played in college. Lillard should be able to improve on his passing with an improved cast of teammates, particularly LaMarcus Aldridge and possibly Nicolas Batum who is a restricted free agent. Regardless, Lillard fits right in with today’s NBA point guard that scores big and it might be crazy to say, but he could potentially be the best shooter of all of them.

Leonard is one of the best center prospects from this draft and the Blazers may have found their big man in the middle. He’s very athletic and strong and does a lot of good things on the court. Leonard can finish strong on the break, explode by his man when facing up, hit the perimeter shot from mid range and has very good passing ability. Because he can hit the jumper, he’ll sometimes settle and stay on the outside, which will need adjustment at the NBA level since he’s not automatic in any way, like a Dirk Nowitzki. Defensively, Leonard will get a lot of blocks from his help defense where he excels. There’s a lot of upside here.

Barton is an extremely thin player with extremely long arms, which help him in a lot of ways. He’s a slasher to the basket, but also has a quick release and is able to hit from downtown. Barton has excellent body control when in the air, but the slightest bump will send him flying due to his small frame. Defensively, because of his length and quickness, Barton is able to jump passing lanes and rip the rock. He also has the ability to block shots. The biggest detriment to his success in the NBA will be his body. If he can maximize his strengths — quickness and length — and improve his jumper and passing ability, Barton could stick in the league.

GRADE: A

Sacramento Kings
Draft Pick: Thomas Robinson, PF, Kansas (1.5)

This is going to be a monster front line between Robinson and DeMarcus Cousins. The duo should cause havoc on many an NBA court, but it will take some time for them to figure out the chemistry. If/once they can play well together, look out NBA! Robinson is a tenacious rebounder with great strength, long wingspan (7-foot-1) and isn’t afraid to get funky in the box. He’s very explosive and quick and gets to the rim in a hurry. He isn’t very polished in the post, but is decisive in his movements and has a go-to hook shot. Robinson is also a very solid shooter who is able to stick jumpers if left alone. Defensively, he’ll be able to hang with his man, whether it’s in the post or the perimeter. Robinson will make Kings fans very happy and it’s a wonder he fell this “far.”

GRADE: A+

San Antonio Spurs
Draft Pick: Marcus Denmon, SG, Missouri (2.29)

Denmon is an undersized shooting guard at only 6-foot-3 and while he has great intangibles, will it be enough for him to succeed at the next level? If the Spurs think there’s a chance, then so should everyone else. Denmon is a very good shooter from the outside with range beyond the NBA three-point arc. He can take his man off the dribble, but doesn’t excel at it due to physical limitations and skill. However, he’s very fundamentally sound and doesn’t make many mistakes. Denmon could fill in as a three-point threat with the Spurs, but there won’t be much else he’ll be asked to do beyond that.

GRADE: C+

Utah Jazz
Draft Pick: Kevin Murphy, SF, Tennessee State (2.17)

Murphy is an excellent shooter that can hit from anywhere on the floor in a variety of ways. He has a somewhat old school kind of game in that he hardly slashes to the basket and dunks the ball, preferring instead to shoot mid range jumpers. Murphy can knock down the three and should be comfortable doing so in the NBA. Defensively, he has a lot of room to improve, but he’ll make his money putting up points for the team.

GRADE: B

The NBA journey is only beginning for the above players and time will tell if this initial review is justified or not. Good luck to all the rooks!