Tonight I will be venturing into a new aspect of my blogging career, channeling my inner Bill Simmons and “live-blogging” the 2012 NBA Draft. Tonight 60 former NCAA stars (and as it turns out far too many international players) will hear their names called at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey and their lives will forever be changed. This is a very deep draft, with a ton of skilled players, so franchises across the country (and Toronto) will be rebuilt and retooled tonight. Honestly I can’t wait to see how it all shakes out. I’ll try to keep my biases to a minimum as I give you my thoughts on each and every pick tonight, and since this won’t be published until after the draft has concluded it should give you some time to think about your favorite team’s pick(s). I would love to hear your opinions and feedback, not only on this blog entry, but also of how you think each team fared this evening.
Here We Go
7:32 PM – David Stern takes the stage to a ton of boos and only some cheers. Can you tell he’s not liked right now? He congratulates the Miami Heat and receives even more boos.
Boos sound loud for the commish #NBAdraft—
Brian Hoff (@BeHoff21) June 28, 2012
7:34 – The New Orleans Hornets are on the clock and have five minutes before they select Anthony Davis.
7:35 – The Unibrow is still there, not as pronounced, but still there.
7:37 – David Stern makes it official, with the first pick in the 2012 NBA Draft the New Orleans Hornets select Anthony Davis, center from Kentucky. The 6’10”, 220 lb center will be blocking shots in the Big Easy for years to come. He’s the best 19 year old player I have seen in a long, long time and the Hornets could not have gone wrong with a pick that many fans think was illegitimately given to them.
7:43 – The Charlotte Bobcats and new coach Mike Dunlap select Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, forward from Kentucky. This selection marks the first time ever that the top two picks in any draft have come from the same school. MKG is going to be a helluva player in this league, but he does still some development to do, especially when it comes to his jump shot and willingness to take it.
7:47 – The third pick in the 2012 NBA Draft is in, with the Washington Wizards selecting Bradley Beal from the University of Florida. Beal is a player that has drawn Ray Allen comparisons from some basketball scouts, but to me he’s more of an Eric Gordon type. Beal played out of position at UF, playing the small forward position for Billy Donovan, though he is more of a ball-handling guard who should project as a 2-guard with John Wall already handling the point-guard duties for the Wizards. This selection also marks the second time that all of the first three picks came from the same conference, as all three players selected so far have been freshman from the SEC.
7:53 – With the fourth pick the Cleveland Cavaliers select Dion Waiters, guard from Syracuse University. This is a surprising pick as Waiters never started a game while at Syracuse, joining Marvin Williams as the only lottery picks to not start for their college teams. Waiters can play, as shown by his Big East 6th man of the year award, but for him to be drafted top 5 is stunning to me. Referring to his time at ‘Cuse under legendary coach Jim Boehiem Waiters said, “I went there as a boy and left there as man”, high praise for his time playing for the Orange.
7:59 – Sacramento Kings select Thomas Robinson from the University of Kansas with the fifth pick. I love the 6’9”, 244 lb junior forward’s game and think he’ll fit in quite well with the Kings. To put it simply, T-Rob is a beast who plays relentless ball, and if you give him the proper coaching he could turn into an elite player in the NBA over the next few years. First tears of the night from a draft pick, his dream has become reality tonight. T-Rob and DeMarcus Cousins: scary front court out west.
8:05 – Portland drafts Damian Lillard, point guard from Weber State University. I’ll admit I don’t know too much about this kid, but he did finish second in the nation in scoring last year and impressed at workouts. Portland got this by essentially renting out Gerald Wallace, so even if this kid is a bust it wasn’t too risky of a move to draft a player with huge upside.
8:09 – All these stats on Damian Lillard make me think I’m watching Mel Kiper Jr. and the NFL Draft. Stats are near meaningless when you play in a lesser conference like the Big Sky Conference.
8:11 – The Golden State Warriors select Harrison Barnes with the 7th pick in the draft. Barnes, a star swingman from the University of North Carolina could be a steal with that pick, if he decides to dedicate himself to basketball and put all the work in in the gym. Barnes is a great shooter with a ton of potential, but he really has to “man up” and work on his toughness and find a way to get to the rim. At 6’8”, 228 lbs there can’t be any excuses from Barnes and I’m excited to see what he can do on this stacked Warriors squad.
8:16 – The Raptors select guard Terrence Ross from the University of Washington with the 8th pick. The guard wasn’t expected to go this high, but the Raptors needed a shooter and someone who can light up the scoreboard. A 6’7” two guard can be an intriguing matchup and I guess that’s why Toronto decided to snag him so high tonight. The Raptors are still pretty garbage of a team and my man Solomon Alabi is a free-agent who they might lose when free-agency starts on Sunday, so this team still needs to work in a few more pieces if they want to turn themselves into a contender. When the ESPN announcers are talking about a player who the Raptors stashed away last year, Jonas Valanciunas, instead of the guy they just drafted that raises a bunch of question marks in my mind.
8:22 – Andre Drummond, center from UConn, goes 9th overall to the Detroit Pistons. This is the perfect example of a risk-reward pick, as Drummond has the potential to be a dominating center in the league for many years. That is, if he applies himself. He’s almost 7’ tall, and already has an NBA ready body, but his game still has too many flaws at the moment. At times he also lacks focus and effort, but since he should just be coming out of high school now he has a huge upside and could be a Dwight Howard type player if he gets his head on straight.
8:29 – 29 years ago today Doc Rivers was selected by the Atlanta Hawks. Tonight, his son Austin Rivers joins the New Orleans Hornets along with Anthony Davis, after the Hornets select him with tonight’s 10th overall pick. Rivers becomes the second ACC pick of the night. This kid can play, as much as I hate Duke, I’ve always enjoyed watching this kid play even since his high school days in Winter Park, Florida. Great pickup by the Hornets.
8:32 – Doc getting interviewed now on ESPN. Love that this guy represents my favorite team, true class act.
8:35 – Portland on the clock for the second time tonight. They grab center Meyers Leonard from the University of Illinois. First white guy drafted tonight, and the 7’1” big man could be a force if he puts on some additional muscle and improves his footwork. As is typical with guys his size, it’s all about potential with him. Good pick from Portland here as they try to replace Greg Oden who is a free-agent and who may never suit up in the NBA again.
8:42- UConn gets their second player of the lottery selected, in guard Jeremy Lamb picked by the Houston Rockets. He was a 2011-2012 AP Honorable Mention All-America, and a first time all Big East and Big East All-Rookie selection. Lamb joins a fraternity of players from Norcross High School in Norcross, Georgia, and he was also the second leading scorer on the 2011Huskies squad that won the National Championship. Solid pick by the Rockets.
8:47 – It’s looking like the Suns will need to replace their face of the franchise in Steve Nash this offseason. With the 13th pick the Suns select Kendall Marshall, point guard from the University of North Carolina. Marshall is a true point guard, and his PassFir5t movement is something that I do expect will have an impact bigger than sports, as his idea to put others before yourself is something truly special. This kid is fun to watch, and he’ll fit in perfectly with the Suns up-tempo offense.
8:53 – The last pick of the 2012 Lottery is in. With the 14th pick in this draft, the Milwaukee Bucks select one of Kendall Marshall’s teammates, forward John Henson from UNC. Henson was a two-time ACC defensive player of the year, and at just under 6’11” he can play both the power forward and small forward positions. Henson will need to get in the cafeteria and put some meat on his bones so that he can rebound better at the NBA level, as it’s almost unhealthy for a guy to be that tall and just 216 lbs.
8:58 – The first playoff team to select tonight is the Philadelphia 76ers. They select Maurice Harkless, forward from St. John’s University. Harkless is a guy who played power forward in college but will need to become a true 3 in the NBA. The Sixers took the Celtics to 7 games in the playoffs this year and just added another athletic forward, going to make them a tough team to deal with next season. The 76ers are looking to trade Andre Igoudala this offseason, a move I don’t really understand, but they do want their core group to grow together and Harkless will be a major piece of their future.
9:04 – The 16th pick belongs, again, to the Houston Rockets. With this pick the Rockets select Royce White of Iowa State University. This pick hurts me, as I was hoping that he’d fall to the Celtics. White is a player who has dealt with generalized anxiety disorder in his personal life, and could not physically get himself on a plane to attend the University of Kentucky on scholarship after figuring out that the University of Minnesota was not a good fit for him. White could be a dominant player if the Rockets support staff and the Houston area doctors can help him with his mental issues, as he’s 6’8”, 270 lbs and built very similarly to this dude LeBron James. When you talk about potential in this draft White’s name has to be one of the first ones mentioned, and we’ll all see what happens as his career plays out.
9:12 – The 17th pick belongs to the 2010-2011 champions, the Dallas Mavericks, who select Tyler Zeller, center from North Carolina. Zeller is the middle kid in his basketball playing family, and was named to the John Wooden All-American team this past season. Zeller runs the floor well and has a ton of skill, and probably would have been drafted earlier if this draft wasn’t so top heavy. He’s a legit 7’ who plays the true center position, a rarity in today’s game. North Carolina takes the lead 4-2 in first round picks so far tonight, as none of the rest of the Kentucky five have been selected since Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
9:17 – The Rockets are making their third pick of the first round, thanks to trading Chase Budinger earlier this week. With the 18th pick tonight Kevin McHale’s Rockets select Terrence Jones from the University of Kentucky. Jones is a tweener between the power forward and small forward positions, and is another one of those players who needs to work on his focus to succeed at the next level. Jones stayed an extra year at the University of Kentucky and turned himself into a better player, even if that means his draft status suffered a bit.
9:18 – First trade of the night. Tyler Zeller is headed to the Cleveland Cavaliers in exchange for the 24th, 33d, and 34th picks of tonight’s draft. Zeller was looking forward to playing with Dirk Nowitzki , that’s not happening now, instead Zeller will try to learn from Semih Erden (though it will probably be the other way around).
The Mavs will trade just taken center Tyler Zeller to the Cavs for the 24th, 33rd and 34th picks, per source.—
David Aldridge (@daldridgetnt) June 29, 2012
9:22 – The Orlando Magic select Andrew Nicholson from St. Bonaventure University with the 19th overall pick. I saw this kid up-close when he played against FSU in the first round of this year’s NCAA tournament, and kid can play. At 6’10”, 234 he projects as a power-forward in the NBA. He averaged 17 points and 7 rebounds in his college career, and put up 20 and 7 against my Noles and their tough forwards, so I like this pick by Orlando.
9:27 – The Nuggets 20th selection is in, and it’s our first international player of the night. Evan Fournier, a guard from France will be headed out to Denver to join their crop of international players. Apparently he’s a crafty player who plays well off the pick and roll, but I’ve never seen him play. He is also 19 years old.
9:28 – The Celtics are on the clock for the next two picks. And Jared Sullinger is sounding like one of those picks.
9:34- Welcome to the Celtics, Jared Sullinger. Red-flagged because of potential back issues, the Ohio State forward slipped hard in tonight’s draft. The Big 10 Freshman of the Year and first team All-Big 10 team forward has something to prove despite averaging 17.5 points and 9.3 rebounds per game last season for the Buckeyes. I like his game, but at 6’9”, 265 lbs he doesn’t play above the rim and that scares me a bit. Let’s see what he can do in Celtic green, but welcome to Boston, Sully.
9:38 – How appropriate that Kevin McHale is being interviewed via telecom when the Celtics are on the clock. He made the 2008 Celtics championship possible by trading Kevin Garnett to Boston while in Minnesota, and he’ll always be loved back in Boston.
9:41 – With the 22nd pick, the C’s select Fab Melo, center from Syracuse. Melo, like Andre Drummond, has motivation questions, but as a defensive player his skills translate over to the NBA very well. Melo is a Brazilian player who played two seasons at ‘Cuse, though he did kill the Orange by being academically ineligible for the 2012 NCAA Championship. Thank God there are no tests or classes in the NBA, it’s all about production, and Melo has the kind of ceiling that selecting him this late in the first round was a risk worth taking.
9:48 – With the 23rd pick the Atlanta Hawks select John Jenkins, guard from Vanderbilt University. I didn’t see Vandy play enough this year and was hoping that the Hawks would bring in the Teague Connection in Marquis from Kentucky, but this Jenkins kid can flat out shoot.
9:52 – The 24th pick is the Cavs selecting for the Mavericks, and the pick is Jared Cunningham, guard from Oregon State University. At 6’5, 188 lbs he’s a two guard who can get to the rim but for the Mavs he may need to transition to the point guard position. This kid is definitely a project, but this late in the draft you can do that, and he’s a great prospect for a late round selection.
9:55 – This Twitter era sucks when it comes to sports drafts. The information is out there before selections are even made, as I see who will be the 26th selection in tonight’s draft before David Stern and ESPN officially announce the 25th pick.
9:58 – The Memphis Grizzlies select guard Toney Wroten from Washington. A 6’6” point guard, Wroten is an athletic player who can get to the rim, but he will need to work on his shooting and his scoring ability is he wants to be a playmaker in the NBA. Wroten is a great passer and can find holes in opposing defenses, it’s just a matter of putting it all together and he’s a prospect at the moment.
10:02 – Thanks to Twitter, I know that the Indiana Pacers will select Duke’s Miles Plumlee with tonight’s 26th pick. Plumlee averaged just 6.6 points per game last year and 7.1 rebounds, and I really don’t like the way his game projects at the NBA level. Perry Jones III of Baylor is still available, and he’s twice the talent that Plumlee is so I’m pretty surprised that the Pacers organization would select the Duke forward here.
10:06 – The Miami Heat are on the clock. They get a mixed reaction in New Jersey.
10:08 – Heat select Arnett Moultrie with the 27th pick of the first round. Moultrie becomes the first Mississippi State Bulldog selected in the first round since Erik Dampier, and is a pretty good rebounder and an excellent free-throw shooter from the power-forward position. He’s a player that needs to get tough, but he should fit right in with all the soft people on South Beach.
10:12 – Oklahoma City is on the clock. They are trying to move James Harden to avoid the luxury tax but were not able to move up tonight. With the 28th pick of the first round, the Thunder select Perry Jones, forward from Baylor. I love this pick for the Thunder, adding another athletic player to their roster and making the best steal of the night (Celtics couple picks being the only rivals to this selection). According to Chad Ford’s big board, Perry Jones was the fifth best NBA prospect, so to grab him at 28 is an incredible feat.
OKC not worried about Jones' knee. As far as value goes, Thunder off the charts w/late first rounder again.—
David Aldridge (@daldridgetnt) June 29, 2012
10:21 – With the 29th pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, the Chicago Bulls select Marquis Teague from the University of Kentucky. I know there haven’t been too many picks I don’t like tonight (thanks to all the depth in this draft), but Teague to the Bulls is a perfect fit. Jeff’s younger brother now has the opportunity to learn from Derrick Rose, the best overall point guard in the game today. Teague also provides a good insurance plan if Rose is not able to recover from the knee injury that he suffered in the playoffs, and is really a steal at the end of the first round.
10:25 – Second trade of the night. The Heat trade Arnett Moultrie to the 76ers for tonight’s 45th pick and a future first round pick. The Heat save some money and get a future first rounder to boot, so not a bad fit for either team.
10:26 – With the final pick in the first round the Golden State Warriors select Festus Ezeli, center from Vanderbilt. Again, I haven’t seen enough of Vanderbilt to make a definitive statement on his play, but from the clips I’ve seen he could be a great role player down the road for the Warriors. More importantly with this pick tonight, we’ve seen the last of David Stern who got booed one final time coming to the podium, and Adam Silver, the deputy commissioner of the NBA who will announce all the second round picks got the biggest ovation of the night.
10:31 – Adam Silver opens up the second round, as Jeffrey Taylor is selected #31 overall by the Charlotte Bobcats. He’s more of a defensive player and was a senior this past season for Vanderbilt, an okay value pick for the Bobcats.
10:35 – With the 32nd pick another international player was selected, 6’7” guard Tomas Satoransky from the Czech Republic. Never heard of him.
10:40 – Dallas got my man Bernard James with the 33rd overall pick tonight. The 6’10” power forward from FSU is the oldest player who will be selected tonight, at 27 years old, but he is also the one who has played the least basketball of anyone in the draft. His story is a unique one, and I will have a write-up on him tomorrow, but I’m so glad he has this opportunity to play ball at the next level. The U-S-A chant and standing ovation were a nice touch from the Newark faithful.
10:44 – Dallas selected Jae Crowder with the 34th pick. This was another pick that they acquired in exchange for Tyler Zeller from the Cavs, and Crowder is an undersized forward (6’6”, 241) who plays bigger than his size. He attended Marquette and his dad played in the NBA for the Utah Jazz, so he has a good pedigree.
10:50 – Golden State selected Draymond Green with the 35th selection tonight. Green is a 6’7” power-forward and is the ultimate stat-stuffer who can do it all on the basketball court. He doesn’t excel in any particular area but plays all areas very well, and was named Big 10 player of the year last season.
10:56- Two Quincy’s went 37th and 38th tonight, both from Baylor. Quincy Acy went 37th to Toronto and Quincy Miller 38th to Denver, and both have the potential to be solid role players at the next level.
10:59: Khris Middleton, a defensive player and good shooter from Texas A&M went to Detroit. Solid player who should fit in well with the Pistons.
11:00: Portland had back to back picks, and selected Will Barton from Memphis and Tyshawn Taylor from Kansas.
11:01 – The Brooklyn Nets have traded for Tyshawn Taylor. Taylor helped propel the Jayhawks to the national championship game last year, and as a player who grew up in Jersey City, New Jersey he should be an excellent fit for the Nets in their first year in New York.
11:04 – The Milwaukee Bucks selected Doron Lamb of Kentucky with the 42nd pick in tonight’s draft. Lamb is one of the most outstanding shooters in this draft and he has NBA range, and while not quite Michael Redd he should be able to produce in the NBA.
11:08 – Mike Scott, a senior forward from Virginia, is headed to the Atlanta Hawks. He is a scoring power-forward at just under 6’9”, and he is a player not afraid to take hits and draw contact. He averaged over 18 points a game for the slowest team in the ACC last year and kid is a baller.
11:10 – The Pistons scooped up Kim English, shooting guard from Missouri with the 44th pick tonight. English was a senior player who drastically improved over the course of his college career and the Pistons are hoping that trend continues.
11:13 – The 76ers selected Justin Hamilton, center from LSU with the 45th pick. Again, never heard of him. He’ll be headed to the Miami Heat.
11:15 – Darius Miller of the Kentucky Wildcats goes to the New Orleans Hornets with the 46th pick. This pick marks the first time that any team has had 6 players drafted in the same night, so congrats to the Kentucky Wildcats and Coach Calipari.
11: 17 – The Utah Jazz select Kevin Murphy from Tennessee Tech University with the 47th pick. He scored 50 in a game this year, but playing in the OVC it was lesser competition.
11: 18 – Finally, the New York Knicks are on the clock.
11:20 – With the 48th pick, the Knicks select Kostas Papanikolaou from Greece. Knicks fans go crazy considering they’ve never heard of him. Neither have I. Apparently he’s a draft and stash guy.
11:22 – The 49th overall pick is a familiar face, Kyle O’Quinn from Norfolk State fame, is headed to the Magic. Unfortunately at this point ESPN doesn’t even care about showing the picks live, so it’s a chore to finish up the rest of this live blog. Spent these four hours so far, so I’ll push on, but this is disappointing from the mothership.
11:24 – Another pick, another international player. Izzet Turkyilmaz, from where else but Turkey, is selected by the Nuggets. If you’ve seen him play, congratulations, you are one of the few people who care about basketball more than me.
11:27 – The Celtics are on the clock!
11: 29 – Sully, Melo, and now Kris Joseph. Another player from Syracuse, this time a 6’7” forward and a good shooter. Not a fantastic player, but pretty athletic and who knows, he might develop into a great player. Solid pick at 51 by Boston. Plus he has a Montreal Expos tattoo, that has to count for something.
11:30 – With the 52nd pick, Golden State selects Ognjen Kuzmic from Bosnia. Yeah, not even going to try.
11:33 – At 53, Clippers select Furkan Aldemir from Turkey. Good luck finding info on him.
11:35 – The Nets just bought this pick. And they select another hard name to pronounce, Tornike Shengalia from Georgia. No, not the University of Georgia, but the country Georgia. Okay then.
11:39 – At 55, the Dallas Mavericks select the first American in six picks, drafting Darius Johnson-Odom from Marquette. The guard will be headed to the Los Angeles Lakers in a trade.
11:42 – Thank God the final 5 picks of tonight are on their way. Toronto is on the clock, and with the 56th pick tonight they select Tomislav Zubcic from Croatia. I don’t remember this many international players ever being selected in the same draft, and especially not this many who won’t see any NBA action for at least 3 years.
11:47 – The Brooklyn Nets are making another pick. Please be a name I’ve heard of. With the 57th selection they get Ilkan Karaman from Turkey. Not a name I’ve heard of. I think the NBA needs to change to the Turkish league.
11:50 – The 58th pick is one I know! Robbie Hummel from Purdue is headed to the Minnesota Timberwolves. He was one of the top players in the SEC before he tore his ACL a couple times, and he would be a great feel good story if he can make the Wolves roster.
11:52 – The San Antonio Spurs select Marcus Denmon from Missouri with the 59th pick. He averaged almost 18 points and 5 rebounds per game for the Tigers his senior season, and is worth the flyer this late in the draft.
11:55 – The Lakers are on the clock to mercifully end this draft!
12:02 AM – With the 60th and FINAL pick in the 2012 NBA Draft the Los Angeles Lakers select Robert Sacre, center from Gonzaga. Only fitting that another Canadian player would be drafted tonight. And with that, so long from Newark, New Jersey. Summer league in two weeks!
Adam Silver is so skinny you could fax him places.—
Rick Reilly (@ReillyRick) June 29, 2012