NBA Draft Done, Free Agency Up Next

By: Michael Robinson | Friday, June 29, 2012
Austin Rivers

Duke’s Austin Rivers was New Orleans’ second pick in the opening round.

The 2012 NBA Draft was quiet in terms of big trades for players and picks, but a lot of marquee talent was added to teams looking to make a jump for next season.

The internet world was buzzing earlier this week with the rumor that Oklahoma City could trade sixth man James Harden for the No. 2 or No. 3 overall pick and draft Florida’s Bradley Beal. That never materialized and the Thunder remain the +250 co-favorite along with Miami for next year’s championship.

Dwight Howard was another big name bandied about before the draft. Houston was stockpiling first round picks in an effort to acquire the Orlando big man for at least a 1-year rental. That trade likely never came close, but the Rockets did draft some intriguing talent with Jeremy Lamb, Royce White and Terrence Jones.

The only real certainty of the draft was the top pick and New Orleans drafting Kentucky’s Anthony Davis. He will need time to fill-out, but should instantly make an impact defensively.  The Hornets also drafted Austin Rivers (son of Celtics coach Doc Rivers) at No. 10, and it will be interesting to see how the combo guard fits next to Eric Gordon who is currently a restricted free agent.

Charlotte didn’t get any breaks before the draft by failing to land the top pick despite a 7-59 record. The Bobcats did surprise some by taking Kentucky’s Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. He is talented and a high quality guy, something they really need, but his perimeter game is suspect. Kidd-Gilchrist joined Davis to become the first former college teammates to be selected with the top two overall picks.

The rest of the top-5 appears to be hit and miss. Washington took Beal at No. 3 and the shooter looks like a great fit next to John Wall in the backcourt. Sacramento gobbled up Kansas power forward Thomas Robinson at No. 5 after he fell. Robinson looks like the perfect piece next to talented, but enigmatic big man DeMarcus Cousins.

Cleveland had another curious selection at No. 4 after taking Tristan Thompson at the same spot last year. Thompson averaged 8.2 PPG as a rookie in 23.7 minutes. This year’s pick was fast-rising guard Dion Waiters, who was a sixth man for Syracuse last year. The Cavs made a more popular move later in the first round by trading up for UNC center Tyler Zeller.

Other big news involved two free-fallers who would have been top-5 picks a year ago. Jared Sullinger returned for his sophomore season at Ohio State and fell to Boston at No. 21 after knee issues, plus athleticism/height questions. The Celtics were still very happy to scoop him up and followed that pick with Syracuse center Fab Melo at No. 22.

Baylor’s Perry Jones III has the talent of a top-3 pick, but also major questions about his motor. He fell all the way to Oklahoma City at No. 28, a great landing spot for a young player, even if the drop did cost him a lot of money.

One great value pick was Chicago getting point guard Marquis Teague at No. 29. The opposite end of the spectrum was Indiana taking Duke’s Miles Plumlee at No. 26. That was a major reach by almost all accounts.

Note that free agency starts on Sunday, July 1 and the player movement (and subsequent trades) will have a big impact on the NBA future odds. As always, Don Best will be there with the latest breaking news and analysis.

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