Breaking Down The NBA Draft First Round: The Good, The Bad And What Were They Thinking?

The first round of the 2012 NBA Draft is now in the books and as always, featured some rather surprising picks. Let’s take a look at how your favorite team did as they look forward to next season:

1. New Orleans Hornets: Kentucky forward Anthony Davis: Certainly no surprise with this selection, as the 19-year-old, who led Kentucky to a National Championship, knew he would be heading to the “Big Easy” once the Hornets won the NBA Lottery. There is no question about this young man’s talent, athleticism and ability; however, what position will he play in the Association?  Grade: A

2. Charlotte Bobcats: Kentucky forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist: An unexpected pick, but still a solid one for the B-Cats, as they add a young man who is known for his toughness and character. MKG, is not a scorer, but he will help set a positive tone for Charlotte, as they climb out of the ashes of this past season. Grade: B+ 

3. Washington Wizards: Florida guard Bradley Beal: Beal’s college coach Billy Donovan, says that the guard did not want to offend any of his teammates early in the season, which accounts for why the talented 18-year-old waited until later in the season to break-out. Beal will join point guard John Wall, to give the Wizards one of the most talented back-courts in the Association. Grade: A+ 

4. Cleveland Cavaliers: Syracuse guard Dion Waiters: It was no secret that Cavaliers General Manager Chris Grant, wanted to pair-up Beal with “Uncle Duke,” Rookie Of The Year Kyrie Irving; as there were reports that Cleveland had tried to swing a deal with Charlotte to acquire the number two pick. The Cavaliers stuck with that game plan, bringing in a young man who can penetrate, to team-up with Irving, however with North Carolina’s Harrison Barnes still available, the pick might have been a reach. Grade: B-   

5. Sacramento Kings: Kansas forward Thomas Robinson: Strong pick for the ever-rebuilding team from Sacramento, as Robinson will most likely be in their starting line-up alongside DeMarcus Cousins, in the upcoming campaign. Kings coach Keith Smart, will have to stress defense with the 6’9″ forward, but the young man could be a star in the Association. Grade: A+

6. Portland Trail Blazers: Weber State guard Damian Lillard: The 21-year-old, is not going to make anyone forget Derrick Rose, or Chris Paul, but the young man can lead an offense and is a good shooter. He will be a good addition to what new Blazers G.M. Neil Olshey identified as the club’s two core players, LaMarcus Aldridge and Nicolas Batum. Grade: B+

7. Golden State Warriors: North Carolina forward Harrison Barnes: After what has seemed like eons of futility by the Warriors, they suddenly have the makings of a pretty good team. Golden State got a very talented player, who can flat-out score and has the potential to be a special player. Warriors head coach Mark Jackson, may be the perfect guy to help keep Barnes ego in check. Grade: A+

8. Toronto Raptors: Washington guard Terrence Ross: How does Bryan Colangelo continue to have a job? Terrence Ross, was not a bad pick, as he has the potential to stick around in the Association, but what was he thinking with Jeremy Lamb and Austin Rivers, still on the board? Grade: C-

9. Detroit Pistons: Connecticut center Andre Drummond: The 18-year-old center is extremely raw, but he has the potential to be a monster in the Association. Drummond will be a project, however two to three years down the road he and Greg Monroe could give the Pistons a formidable front-court. Grade: B+

10. New Orleans Hornets: Duke guard Austin Rivers: If the Hornets are going to bring back Eric Gordon, then the pick truly does not make much sense for the Hornets. Rivers, can be a star at the two-slot, however he is not a point guard. If that is the team’s wish; it will most likely be an unworkable situation. Grade: C-

11. Portland Trail Blazers: Illinois center Meyers Leonard: The big man like Drummond, is still incredibly raw, however he most likely does not have the upside that the former Huskie does. Portland does need size, however Leonard is probably going to need time to contribute. Grade: C

12. Houston Rockets: Connecticut guard Jeremy Lamb: Lamb reportedly sprained an ankle, while he was working out for potential teams, however he showed his skills this past year for the Huskies. Whether he remains with the Rockets, or is part of a package to acquire an established NBA star, he should be a good player in the Association. Grade: B+

13. Phoenix Suns: North Carolina guard Kendall Marshall: A “TRUE” point guard, in that Marshall thinks pass first and could be a nice replacement for Phoenix, if Steve Nash decides to take his talents to another team. He is not the most athletically gifted player, but he has good court vision, has excellent passing ability and will be able to run an NBA offense. The former UNC player will have to work on his shooting in the Association. Grade: A-  

14. Milwaukee Bucks: North Carolina forward John Henson: Once again the pick really does not make sense for Milwaukee, as they have a lot of depth at the power forward position. Henson, has talent, just where he will fit on the Bucks roster remains to be seen. Grade: C– 

15. Philadelphia 76ers: St. John’s forward Maurice Harkless: Mo could be the replacement for Andre Iguodala, if the Sixers finally pull the trigger on dealing the forward, that they supposedly have been on the verge of completing for years. If they decide that Iguodala stays, then he could be an upgrade for Evan Turner. Grade: B+

16. Houston Rockets: Iowa State forward Royce White: Royce White, is like the cartoon character, with the Angel on one shoulder and the Devil on the other. If he listens to the Angel, three years from now we will be talking about an All-Star; if the Devil rules, we will be discussing another “Head-Case” in the Association. Grade: B

17. Cleveland Cavaliers (From Dallas): North Carolina center Tyler Zeller: Cleveland sent picks 24, 33 and 34 to the Dallas Mavericks to get Zeller. Did they overpay? Perhaps; but they filled a need that this team has had since Zydrunas Ilguaskas started to show his age after the 2007 campaign. Grant, will likely get criticized for the trade, but it is a gutsy move that could pay off. Grade: B+

18. Houston Rockets: Kentucky forward Terrence Jones: This pick seems destined to be sent to another team, as the Rockets look to get an established All-Star. Jones will be a solid player for some team. Grade: B

19. Orlando Magic: St. Bonaventure forward Andrew Nicholson: The power forward should be a good addition to the Magic, whether teamed up with Dwight Howard, or not. Strong and has great low-post ability. Grade: B+

20. Denver Nuggets: French forward Evan Fournier: He may be a couple of years away before he leaves France and joins the Nuggets, but the 19-year-old, has a huge upside. Grade B+

21. Boston Celtics: Ohio State forward Jared Sullinger: The former Buckeye’s stock dropped more than Facebook’s after doctors from the Association, stated he could have back issues. If Sully stays healthy, his jersey will one day hang in the rafters of the “New Garden.”  Grade: A+

22. Boston Celtics: Syracuse center Fab Melo: He’s a big body that can fill the pivot for Boston, a desperate need for the club. Most likely has already reached his potential, as a shot-blocking defensive presence in the middle. Grade: B-

23. Atlanta Hawks: Vanderbilt guard John Jenkins: Danny Ferry picked a guy who can shoot the lights out with his first pick as the new General Manager for Atlanta. Not a guy who will impress you with his athleticism, but he should be a strong bench player for the Hawks. Grade: B+

24. Dallas Mavericks (From Cleveland): Oregon State guard Jared Cunningham: Mavericks General Manager Donny Nelson, is not going to win a lot of fans back with this pick: Grade: C-

25. Memphis Grizzlies: Washington guard Tony Wroten Jr.: The kid has yet to learn to shoot, but he is athletic and has a huge upside. Should be a strong backup for starting point guard Mike Conley: Grade: A-

26. Indiana Pacers: Duke center Miles Plumlee: Donnie Walsh and Kevin Pritchard fail to impress running their first draft for the Pacers. Grade: C-

27. Miami Heat: Mississippi State forward Arnett Moultrie: He could be heading to the Sixers, as ESPN reported that the Heat dealt the forward for pick number 45 this year and a future first round pick. Should fit in well with either team. Grade: B+

28. Oklahoma City Thunder: Baylor forward Perry Jones III: Reports of a knee problem, that surfaced on Thursday night allowed the Thunder to get what might be the steal of the 2012 NBA Draft. Grade: A+

29. Chicago Bulls: Kentucky guard Marquis Teague: Teague, is a combo-guard, that should help the Bulls get through the wait as Derrick Rose recovers from surgery and could turn into Rose’s partner in the starting back-court when the All-Star guard returns. Grade: B+

30. Golden State Warriors: Vanderbilt center Festus Ezeli: Jackson is going to have to get his young center to work on grabbing more boards, but he should be a nice addition to the Warriors. Grade: A-

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