Denton: If 2012 NBA Draft Was Redone

By John Denton
June 27, 2013

ORLANDO – In the days, weeks, months and years following Thursday’s NBA Draft, the players selected will become subject to revisionist history. Not only will that draft class be forever linked, but those players will also be compared against one another every time they face off.

Because the impact of a high draft pick can be so great – or disastrous, for that matter – there will be much attention paid to the order that players are selected in the NBA Draft. The Orlando Magic have the second pick, just behind the Cleveland Cavaliers at the top of the draft order. Washington, Charlotte and Phoenix round out the top five picks.

The Magic have a long history of getting it right when they select in the top five of the NBA Draft, picking Dennis Scott (1990), Shaquille O’Neal (1992), Chris Webber (who was traded for Penny Hardaway in 1993), Mike Miller (2000) and Dwight Howard (2004). O’Neal, Hardaway and Scott formed the foundation on Orlando’s 1995 team that reached the NBA Finals, while Howard led the 2009 Magic to the NBA Finals. And Miller emerged from a weak draft class in 2000 as the Rookie of the Year.

The course of history in the NBA could have been dramatically different had players been properly evaluated and drafted accordingly. While some picks were dead on, most GMs would like a do-over with the benefit of history to make their picks.

Imagine if any of three Hall of Famers Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley or John Stockton had gone No. 2 to Portland instead of Sam Bowie in 1984. What if Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade or Chis Bosh had been taken by the Detroit Pistons in 2003 instead of wasting that pick on Darko Milicic? And what if Portland, and not Oklahoma City, had grabbed Kevin Durant with the top pick in 2007 rather than the brittle Greg Oden?

As the saying goes, hindsight is always 20/20, so with the benefit of history before us let’s look back at the past 10 years of NBA Drafts and pick how those draft nights should have unfolded. There have been draft night home runs and major misses in recent years, so let’s pinpoint how the top five picks (plus the Magic’s picks) of those drafts should have played out.

Today, we’re going to break down the 2012 NBA Draft – a draft that was notable in Orlando for being the first conducted by new Magic GM Rob Hennigan. He not only uncovered a couple of keepers in Andrew Nicholson (No. 19) and Kyle O’Quinn (No. 49), but he also traded for 2012 draftees Maurice Harkless (No. 15) and Doron Lamb (No. 42).

Here’s how the 2012 NBA Draft might unfold today if GMs were given a do over:


1 Hornets Anthony Davis Anthony Davis


REVIEW: Davis rookie season was cut short by injury, but he otherwise gave every indication that he is a star in the making. He has the quickness and perimeter shot to play power forward, yet he can still block shots and rebound like a center. Adding bulk this offseason could help his durability. Some might opt for Lillard here, but I still think that Davis can be a game-changing center for years to come.


2 Bobcats Michael Kidd-Gilchrist Damian Lillard


REVIEW: The Bobcats, 7-59 two seasons ago, were devastated when they fell to No. 2 in the draft and missed out on drafting Davis. They then compounded the bad luck by drafting Kidd-Gilchrist, a perimeter player who doesn’t yet have a reliable jump shot. MKG still has plenty of time to mature, but had they picked Lillard the Bobcats finally would have had the point guard they have been seeking since the inception of the franchise back in Charlotte in 2004. Lillard won the Rookie of the Year award and figures to be a future star in the NBA for years to come.


3 Wizards Bradley Beal Harrison Barnes


REVIEW: Beal proved to be a major steal for the Wizards with the No. 3 pick and he is a player whom Washington can build around for years to come. He was so highly thought of in D.C. that the Wizards reportedly turned down a trade offer for James Harden just before the season. Barnes slipped to No. 7 following a mediocre junior season at North Carolina, but his toughness and versatility came out in Golden State’s playoff run. He made loads of big shots and carried the Warriors at times while averaging 16.1 points and 6.4 rebounds in the playoffs.


4 Cavaliers Dion Waiters Bradley Beal


REVIEW: Waiters was a surprise pick at No. 4 for the Cavs after playing mostly as reserve in college at Syracuse. But from the early returns it looks as if Cleveland would have been much better off with Barnes or Beal in this spot. Waiters averaged 14.7 points as a rookie, but his shooting percentages (41.2 percent overall and 31 percent from 3-point range) were just ordinary and he didn’t do much other than scoring to help his team win. Cleveland stayed away from Lillard because they already had Kyrie Irving, but clearly Barnes would have been a better pick here.


5 Kings Thomas Robinson Andre Drummond


REVIEW: Sacramento has spent several years in the lottery, and a big reason is picks like the wayward one of Robinson in the top five. Robinson was a dominant player at Kansas, but in the NBA he looked to be a tweener forward because of his 6-foot-8 size. The Kings gave up on him just 51 games into last season, trading him to the Houston Rockets. Drummond had a forgettable career at UConn, but he showed great promise as a rookie in Detroit. In time, he should be a double-double power forward, while also being a dominant shot blocker. His motivation will always be a concern, but his physical gifts are unquestioned.


19 Magic Andrew Nicholson Andrew Nicholson


REVIEW: The Magic loved the maturity and the fundamentally sound production of Nicholson before the draft and he proved to be just that kind of player as a rookie. He can score with either hand on the block, had tremendous footwork and can knock down the 15-foot jump shot. Nicholson has been hard at work this summer to add bulk and muscle so that he can become a better low-post defender. He should be a rotation player for years to come, as long as his defense continues to improve.


Note: The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Orlando Magic. All opinions expressed by John Denton are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Orlando Magic or their Basketball Operations staff, partners or sponsors. His sources are not known to the Magic and he has no special access to information beyond the access and privileges that go along with being an NBA accredited member of the media.





Follow John Denton on Twitter here