2012 NBA Re-Draft: How It Should Have Gone
NBA Draft night is the time where franchises’ fortunes are reversed, dreams come true, and heartbreak happens.
It’s a frenetic period where coaches, scouts, owners, and general managers come together to make a career-altering (good or bad), super-expensive gamble on a young college player who they think can turn the tides of a struggling franchise.
Sometimes it works, and GMs look like omniscient basketball gods. Other times, the pick can fall flat on its face, setting a franchise back years in an instant.
After six full seasons of basketball, where players’ abilities have been heavily scrutinized, busts have been labeled and stars have been shining, it’s time to re-examine the 2012 NBA Draft class and select it all over again — something every general manager wishes were possible. (Numbers in parenthesis are the original 2012 draft position.)
1. Anthony Davis (1) — New Orleans Hornets
Ok, so the Pelicans nailed this one. Well done, folks.
Anthony Davis. Not much needs to be said about this amazing big man. There isn’t a team in the NBA who wouldn’t want the formidable Davis on their squad. Since entering the league out of the University of Kentucky, the young Davis has simply dominated on the defensive side of the court.
He has led the league in blocked shots three times and is a three-time first team All-Defense selection. He also snags a healthy 10 boards per game for his career. On the other side of the ball, Davis is just as effective. With a scary arsenal of post moves, Davis can attack the rim from nearly any angle.
His perimeter game is solid too, shooting a respectable .517 from the field and .795 from the charity stripe. Overall, Davis has career averages of 23 points and 10 rebounds per game. In 2017-18, Davis averaged a career-high 28.1 points. As a leader, Davis has been a focal point for the surging Pelicans.
Davis, facilitated by Rajon Rondo this past year, had a truly dominant season and has established himself as a premier scorer in the league. Paired with a healthy DeMarcus Cousins, the Pelicans are set to be one of the league’s most feared teams in the paint. When he entered the league, the then-New Orleans Hornets were, as you guessed, one of the league’s worst franchises.
However, with each passing year, Davis has led the resurgence of quality basketball down in the Big Easy, culminating with this past season’s incredible playoff run that included an epic first-round sweep and upset of the Portland Trail Blazers. In the second round, the Pelicans managed to steal a win versus the eventual champion Golden State Warriors.
At this point, one thing is abundantly clear: Davis was worthy of the first overall pick. His numbers have improved every year since entering the league, and more importantly, his team has thrived with him in the lineup. At this rate, Davis will go down as one of the most effective, versatile big men in NBA history.
2. Damian Lillard (6) — Charlotte Bobcats
Quite possibly the biggest blunder of the 2012 NBA Draft was the Charlotte Bobcats’ selection of small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist with the second overall pick. Since entering the league in 2012, Kidd-Gilchrist has put up enough bricks to build multiple mansions in the Charlotte metropolitan area. A big-time shooter, MKG is not.
The selection of MKG further solidified Michael Jordan’s horrendous reputation as a general manager — especially from a drafting perspective. What the Hornets could have had, instead of a player who averages 9.1 points per game, 5.9 rebounds, and 1.2 assists, is rising Portland Trail Blazers superstar Damian Lillard.
Weber State’s Damian Lillard has simply torched NBA defenses since entering the league. Originally drafted sixth overall, Lillard is easily worthy of the number two overall pick, thanks to his pure dominance from an offensive perspective and ability to change the game in a flash.
Lillard, a constant threat from beyond the arc, is second in NBA history for three-pointers drained by a rookie. His durability is nearly impeccable, and that holds a ton of value in and of itself, especially considering the amount of time Kidd-Gilchrist has missed due to shoulder injuries. In Lillard’s first three seasons, he played in every game and over the course of six seasons, he has only missed 23 games.
He’s averaging a healthy 23 points and 6.2 assists while leading the Blazers to the playoffs in every year but one — his rookie year. And not to forget: he was the unanimous Rookie of the Year in 2013 and, this past season, was named to the All-NBA first team. Had the Hornets chosen this offensive genius, their franchise would be a lot different today.
Their starting lineup could look like a three-headed scoring trio of Kemba Walker, Al Jefferson, and Lillard. Or the Hornets could have moved Walker, whom they drafted in 2011, if a move to shooting guard was not in the cards. Had it worked, two scoring guards that have a knack for making big plays, teamed up with a post player with a polished offensive game in Jefferson, would have made the Hornets an immediate threat to compete for the notoriously weak East.
3. Draymond Green (35) — Washington Wizards
The first big shocker of the re-draft has the 35th overall pick — the ever-versatile Draymond Green — going third to the Washington Wizards. Green is a player notorious for his loud mouth and off-the-court antics that have drawn him tons of scrutiny and the ire of basketball fans everywhere. On the court, Draymond has proven himself to be one of the league’s most valuable players overall. His versatility is almost unmatched, and his work ethic is second to none.
There simply is no knocking Draymond in those departments. Offensively, Draymond’s game has been slightly hidden in the shadows of two of the league’s most explosive players: Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. That isn’t to say, though, that he can’t find the bottom of the net. He’s averaging 9.3 points while shooting 43.8 percent from the field and 71 percent from the free-throw line.
His three-point shot is also fairly respectable and still must be guarded by opposing defenses. Defensively, Green is a shut-down player who has three All-NBA Defensive first-team awards and a Defensive Player of The Year Award. He led the league in steals in 2017 and averages 6.9 rebounds.
Often Green’s plays are the ones that don’t make the stat sheet yet turn the tides of the game, like taking a crucial charge or diving for loose balls. When watching the Warriors, don’t bpe surprised to see Green match up with the opposing team’s star player or shift around the court with his ability to guard any player, be it a guard or center.
Simply put, Green is the complete player. He’s selfless, smart, and is team-oriented. Had the Wizards selected Green, he’d pair up with the offensive-minded John Wall and would have taken the pressure off big men Nene and Emeka Okafor. Green’s defensive presence would have made an already impressive Wizards defense that finished 8th overall even better.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Wizards were terribly one dimensional. Led essentially by Wall, the Wizards finished tied for dead last in points per game. Adding Draymond would have helped space the floor and add depth. Yes, Bradley Beal could (and did) have that same offensive effect, but defensively, there’s no denying that Draymond is the better player and harder worker.
4. Andre Drummond (9) — Cleveland Cavaliers
The 2012 Cleveland Cavs were a sad, sad franchise. They desperately needed help, and the draft was looking like the path to salvation.
The prior year, the Cavs made the great call to draft sensational point guard Kyrie Irving from Duke. Irving, once partnered with the returning LeBron James, would lead the Cavs to the NBA title in 2016.
Skipping ahead to 2013 for a brief moment, the Cavs made arguably the worst pick in recent NBA history by selecting Anthony Bennett first overall in the 2013 Draft. B-U-S-T.
So, what would it be for the Cavs in the 2012 Draft? Boom or bust? Well, it ended up being somewhere in between, leaning towards massive disappointment but narrowly escaping bust.
The Cavs drafted Dion Waiters out of Syracuse, who lasted three seasons in the ‘Land before leaving for Oklahoma City and then Miami. As a Cavalier, Waiters didn’t provide Irving with the much-desired help he and the team needed.
With career averages of 13.3 points, 2.7 rebounds, and 2.8 assists, Waiters hasn’t really lived up to the hype that is traditionally associated with a top-five pick.
During his rookie season, paired with emerging star Irving and some notable veterans, the Cavs stumbled from the get-go, eventually falling face first. They ended up third-worst in the league in defense and overall record and were 19th in the league for scoring. Two lottery picks later, the Cavs were still miserable and Waiters wasn’t helping.
Had the Cavs selected Andre Drummond, they could have been a force to be reckoned with still to this day, potentially challenging the Warriors for the three Finals that they were vanquished in.
Since being drafted by Detroit, Drummond has averaged a whopping 13 rebounds per game to go along with 13 points and 1.5 blocks.
The 2017-18 season saw Drummond averaging a gargantuan 16 rebounds and 15 points while solidifying himself as a premier NBA center. Without a doubt, Drummond’s defensive presence would immediately boost the Cavs porous defense; while on offense, he and Kyrie could have had an amazing inside-out chemistry. Then wait a couple years for LeBron to rejoin the Cavs and you have a scary team.
5. Bradley Beal (3) — Sacramento Kings
The Sacramento Kings have been a pretty dismal franchise since 2005-06, their last playoff appearance. But their soul really departed and ascended to another world when Big Shot Rob crushed them in the 2002 playoffs.
Enter the 2012 Draft, another chance to redeem themselves from past draft mistakes and miserable losing-seasons. One year prior, the Kings gambled on BYU superstar Jimmer Fredette by trading for him on draft day.
Sadly, his hype was short-lived and his NBA career was less than spectacular. For reference, this scoring machine at the college level only managed to scrape up an average of six points in the NBA.
With that being said, the struggling, albeit young, Kings selected forward Thomas Robinson with the fifth pick. If you are asking yourself, “Who’s that guy?” you’d have a valid reason for doing so.
Currently out of the league, Robinson averaged a paltry — no, make that negligible — 4.9 points and 4.8 rebounds. During his rookie season, the under-performing and underwhelming power forward was traded away. He went essentially unheard from for the remaining few years he managed to last in the league before trying his luck overseas. Currently, this former lottery pick is playing in Russia, a nation more well-known for drinking vodka than playing basketball.
That season, the Kings were the worst defensive team in the NBA and were 10th in scoring, mostly because they got the ball a lot thanks to their lack of defense. They would finish the year 28-54 while wasting the talents of Demarcus Cousins and Tyreke Evans. What they could have secured at number five was Bradley Beal, a scoring machine.
Currently averaging 18.7 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 3.4 assists as a second option to Wall, who knows what could have been in Sacramento. They had a formidable big man in Cousins, a young Isiah Thomas who could develop into a scoring threat at point guard, and a lethal shooter in Beal.
Not to mention a stable scorer in former fourth-overall pick Tyreke Evans. Had the Kings selected Beal, the playoffs would have become more of a reality rather than a pipe dream, and their offense could have blossomed into one of the NBA’s most exciting — rivaling that of Houston and Golden State.
6. Khris Middleton (39) — Portland Trail Blazers
In this hypothetical draft, the Blazers fall victim to having Lillard perform so well, making him unavailable at the sixth spot. With that said, the Blazers still missed the 2013 playoffs and relied heavily on two players to guide them through the vaunted West: Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge.
They finished 15th in scoring — dead center — and were 21st in defense. They by no means were a horrible team, but there were some major holes that needed to be plugged. Hello Khris Middleton, another surprise pick here. After an incredibly sub-par rookie season with Detroit, Middleton was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks.
Up in Wisconsin, Middleton evolved into one of the Bucks’ key figures and has steadily elevated his game year after year. Averaging 15 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists, Middleton has carved out a role for himself on the offensive side of things. This past season, Middleton averaged a robust 20-5-4 — all career highs — as the Bucks took the Celtics to seven games in the playoffs.
During that playoff run, Middleton solidified himself as one of the Bucks top go-to players and tormented the Celtics each game, leaving many fans in awe asking who Middleton was. Had he gone to Portland at No. 6, Middleton and Aldridge would have formed a nice 1-2 punch capable of scoring from anywhere on the floor.
This dynamic duo would be supported by future draft pick at center Meyers Leonard. Now with a young core capable of scoring, the Blazers would have to address just one pressing issue — their point guard, which was obviously addressed by Lillard.
Although not a superstar like Lillard, Middleton is a reliable player who can consistently score and has the potential to erupt on any given night.
Defensively, he’s lengthy and makes some clutch plays while contributing to the rebounding effort. In fact, he was second on the team in scoring and third in rebounding and assists. From a coach’s perspective, he’s a do-it-all kind of guy who puts in work daily, making him worthy of a lottery pick in 2012.
7. Harrison Barnes (7) — Golden State Warriors
This pick is tough considering how stacked Golden State was and has been. One year prior, The Warriors hit the jackpot by selecting Klay Thompson, and a few years prior to Klay the Warriors got Steph Curry. Splash Bros unite!
Complementing the aforementioned three-point specialists were formidable big men Andrew Bogut and David Lee, giving the Warriors a complete roster with talent at each position.
So, with the seventh pick, Golden State decided to draft North Carolina forward Harrison Barnes, and in this re-draft, he is staying put. Remember this as well: the Warriors won’t be able to rely on Draymond Green in this hypothetical situation, as he was drafted a few picks earlier.
Yes, Barnes’ offensive numbers weren’t anything to gloat about in Golden State, but how can he be solely to blame for this? He was playing behind two of the league’s most prolific shooters and the ever-versatile Andre Iguodala (and Draymond Green, who in this case, wouldn’t be on the team).
Carving out a role was tough for Barnes and his fluid offensive game, but he provided numerous clutch plays and a keen on-court awareness that helped the Warriors win their first NBA title in decades. Despite his lack of scoring production throughout the Warriors’ playoff run, he made championship-caliber plays when it mattered most.
Eventually, Golden State’s roster was became too bloated with talent, and Barnes continued to struggle with the team. Thus, he left the Bay and signed a massive deal with Dallas, where his numbers immediately shot up.
He is currently averaging career highs in numerous categories, including 18.9 points and 6 rebounds. Those numbers are especially impressive considering how inept Dallas has been of late.
Had Barnes been given more of a chance in Golden State, who knows if the signing of Kevin Durant even happens. Maybe Barnes’ offensive production hovers around 18 points, which alongside Steph, Klay, and Iggy would be more than enough. His defense steadily improves each year and he pulls down 6-7 rebounds, making him a solid two-way player. And maybe, just maybe, Harrison develops enough confidence and play-making ability while in Golden State to help them avoid their catastrophic 3-1 finals collapse. A lot of questions remain regarding this former lottery pick.
8. Dion Waiters (4) — Toronto Raptors
Finishing dead last in your division is a sure-fire way to get a lottery pick, which is exactly what the Toronto Raptors did.
Despite having a talented nucleus of young players, the Raptors couldn’t piece together a successful season. They ended up with the No. 8 pick and used it on high flying dunker Terrence Ross.
Other than a few scoring outburst and the 2013 NBA Dunk Contest title, Ross has been a disappointment. During his rookie year, he averaged 6.4 points, 2 rebounds, and 0.7 assists. Not the kind of production the Raptors had in mind when selecting him. His career averages haven’t been much better. He’s currently at 9.6-2.6-1.o — the very definition of average.
So, with hindsight being 20/20, the Raptors would take Dion Waiters with this pick. In terms of production, Waiters has outperformed Ross on every level.
His rookie year, Waiters averaged 14.7 points, 2.4 rebounds, and 3.o assists. For his career, Waiters has put up 13.3-2.7-2.8. While not overwhelming anyone with his stat line, Waiters has had a resurgence playing for the Miami Heat, becoming one of their primary scoring options and on-court leaders.
With Waiters, the Raptors would have gotten a consistent scorer capable of being a team’s number one option when needed. Combine Waiters with talented big man Jonas Valanciunas and playmakers Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan and the Raptors become a team to be reckoned with. With multiple capable shooters and ball handlers that can provide offense from anywhere on the court, the Raptors would have set themselves up nicely for a few deep playoff runs.
Maybe Waiters would have provided the Raptors with the spark they needed to finally overcome their playoff disappointments. As it stands today, the Raptors are still trying to figure out the playoffs, and, despite posting the best record in the East, fired their head coach after once again bowing out before the Finals.
Maybe next draft will be different for our friends up north. Maybe they will select that player who can really transform their franchise. Until that day, the Raptors will be looking back at the 2012 Draft as a big what if. What if Ross panned out? What if he won more than a meaningless dunk contest? What if.
9. Will Barton (40) — Detroit Pistons
OK people, we have arrived at that section of the re-draft where notoriously thin NBA Drafts start to show us exactly why their reputation precedes them. We’re at a pivotal point where most draft picks are just bench players or, worse, are out of the league, playing in some castaway league in the deepest corners of the world. At this point, the remaining two players will strictly be evaluated on their talent, not on the drafting team’s needs.
With that being said, presenting the ninth-overall pick, Baltimore’s very own Will Barton. After playing two seasons at The University of Memphis, where Barton won the Conference USA Player of the Year award, the 6-foot-6 Barton declared for the NBA Draft.
Originally selected by the Blazers deep in the second round, Barton failed to have any real immediate impact on the game.
Following a trade to Denver, Barton’s stock began to rise. Barton is coming off four straight seasons in which Barton averaged double digit points, including the 2017-18 campaign where he averaged a career-best 15.7 in 81 games played. He also snatched a satisfying five rebounds per game and dished out four assists.
These numbers, although not eye-popping, are very respectable and more significant than the vast majority of players drafted before Barton.
Throughout his four seasons playing in the Mile High City, Barton is averaging 14 points, 5.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists, while being the team’s third-leading scorer and second-leading rebounder. Good job Will!
Now, if Barton was on the Pistons…
First and foremost, the Pistons wouldn’t have had to sign Reggie Jackson to that massive five-year, $80 million contract, considering Jackson’s scoring numbers are just slightly higher than Barton’s, but much more expensive. Chances are, with Middleton being drafted earlier, Barton would contend for the starting job on Detroit, needing to really only out-perform Rodney Stuckey and the great Kim English.
To reiterate: making this pick was no easy task. The draft is teeming with under-performers who, in all reality, shouldn’t even be drafted. It’s just a byproduct of the NBA’s downright obnoxious and inefficient two-round system.
So with that being said, a player most of you probably are Googling right now, has landed himself in the top 10. Bravo Will Barton!
10. Evan Fournier (20) — New Orleans Hornets
Last, but not least, with the 10th pick in the 2012 NBA Draft — after hours of watching lame game footage and analyzing numbers that sit well below the threshold considered to be impressive — the New Orleans Hornets (now Pelicans) select Evan Fournier, balding point guard from France. Every year since Fournier entered the league, his points, assists, and rebounds have increased.
He currently came off a 2017 campaign where he posted 17.8 points and 3.0 rebounds in 57 games. Scoring, for Fournier, is a forte. He has the ability to drive to the hoop and convert by the basket. His three-point shot isn’t horrible either. For those statisticians concerned with effective field goal percentage, Fournier’s ranks above some big-name players like Russell Westbrook and Jimmy Butler.
OK, so now we have a guy who can score fairly well and is a defensive liability — at best. So why does he make the top 10? Well, because the NBA, whether you like it or not, values scoring. High-powered offenses bring the league and franchises money. Everything can be traced back to money. And Fournier, in this regard, can help his franchise (besides broadening their market due to Fournier’s international presence).
He knows how to put the bright orange ball in the hoop. Voila. If he went to New Orleans, Fournier would pair up with aforementioned first pick Anthony Davis to create a dynamic scoring duo. They would play a nice inside-out game that would frustrate defenses as they surgically picked them apart, one by one.
To boot, Fournier’s stock has been steadily rising each year while the Hornets’ actual pick Austin Rivers has been somewhat of a bust. Scratch that. A bust. Definitely not worthy of going tenth overall.
Yes, his overall scoring numbers are slightly better than Fournier’s, but some of that must be attributed to Anthony Davis opening up the floor.
Then, he was traded to the L.A. Clippers where he played under his dad next to legendary point guard Chris Paul and athletic, dominant big man DeAndre Jordan. Fournier, meanwhile, has been a part of Orlando’s second most interesting attraction after Disney — the Magic. Not surrounded by talent, Fournier has had to grind his way into the spotlight.