Published June 29, 2012
| Sports Network
Newark, NJ – Hindsight is the only true measure of a draft.
It always sports 20/20 vision and is the only real exact science. Hindsight is unforgiving, unapologetic and will ultimately be the judge and jury of the 2012 NBA Draft.
It also takes time, however, and less than 24 hours removed from the process, every franchise feels it did everything possible with the hand it was dealt.
The reality, of course, is far different and the early returns are in with exit polls enabling The Sports Network to declare the winners and losers from the NBA Draft.
And here they are:
NEW ORLEANS HORNETS - When you get the one player in what's considered a one- player draft, you have to be declared a winner by definition.
Kentucky's Anthony Davis was probably the biggest no-brainer since the Cleveland Cavaliers took LeBron James in 2003. The "Unibrow" will enter the NBA as an elite defender and shot blocker who also will do some damage offensively even though he is raw.
Davis' athleticism and skills on the perimeter, garnered from his youth playing on the outside before a massive growth spurt in high school, will surprise some people who have compared him to Marcus Camby.
It didn't end there for the Hornets, however, who also had the 10th pick. New Orleans wanted to pair Davis with the quarterback of the future in NOLA and went with Duke's Austin Rivers over North Carolina's Kendall Marshall.
Doc Rivers' kid is a nice-sized combo guard who has a higher ceiling as a player than Marshall even though the Carolina point guard is the more natural floor leader at this stage of the game. That said, Rivers would fit into virtually any rotation rather early in his NBA career and watching he and Davis grow together in the Big Easy should be a lot of fun.
OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER - The most talented team in basketball got one of the most talented players in the draft at No. 28.
Perry Jones III, the lengthy power forward out of Baylor, was once considered a possible No. 1 overall pick, so you know the skill set is there, but he never produced as expected in college and a knee problem scared off a number of teams unable to take a risk.
Jones is more than worth a flyer for OKC, a team which can afford to wait a bit, and he could be a nice insurance policy for Serge Ibaka, who is going to carry quite a price tag very soon.
SACRAMENTO KINGS - At some point, this franchise will turn it around if it keeps collecting ultra-talented top-five picks.
When Charlotte stayed put at No. 2 and took Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Cleveland reached for Dion Waiters at No. 4, Thomas Robinson fell into the Kings' lap at the fifth spot.
The Kansas power forward was considered the safest player in the draft outside of Davis and is the rare college player these days who will arrive in the pros with an NBA-ready body. Robinson doesn't have the height teams covet, but the wingspan is there and he's a high-energy player who brings a lunch pail mentality to the dance.
BOSTON CELTICS - Boston got what should be two sizable contributors with back- to-back picks late in the first round.
At 21, the Celtics took advantage of the hysteria surrounding Jared Sullinger and nabbed a lottery-level talent. You could see that shaping up early on. A smart organization taking a smart player who fell due to a balky back.
It was almost surprising the league's general managers didn't contact the CDC in Atlanta to warn the whole country about Sullinger's bulging disc. The risk- reward ratio is off the charts with Sullinger at 21.
A pick later, the C's finally got a replacement for Kendrick Perkins by taking Syracuse center Fab Melo, a player who projects as a Perkins-type player, limited offensively but solid as a defender.
HOUSTON ROCKETS - Bold is not always beautiful.
If you're a fan, having a general manager like Daryl Morey has to be a lot of fun. But when you roll the dice, sometimes you crap out and Thursday proved to be snake eyes for Houston.
The Rockets spent the early part of the week acquiring assets in an effort to land Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard, even though the big man made it pretty clear through intermediaries that he wanted no part of South Texas.
Morey pressed on despite the hurdles, parting ways with Chase Budinger and Samuel Dalembert, and ending up with three middling picks in the first round, Nos. 12, 16 and 18.
That wasn't enough to entice Orlando or convince Sacramento to trade down at No. 5, so they could take Connecticut center Andre Drummond. The Rockets had to take all three picks and the guaranteed money that entails.
The Rockets could have gotten a center in Tyler Zeller, but evidently didn't like the North Carolina big man and landed Connecticut shooting guard Jeremy Lamb as well as combo forwards Royce White and Terrence Jones, three players with solid upsides, but Houston now has seven players on its roster from the past two drafts and all but Lamb are forwards.
CLEVELAND CAVALIERS - The Cavs had a solid Plan A, but when that fell through, their Plan B left a lot to be desired.
Cleveland badly wanted to trade up from No. 4 in order to take Florida shooting guard Bradley Beal at No. 2. When that evaporated, GM Chris Grant threw out his back reaching for Syracuse sixth man Dion Waiters.
Waiters has the requisite athleticism to become an NBA standout, but snaring him with the four pick was way too early for a guy who played just 24 minutes a game at the college level.
CHARLOTTE BOBCATS - Charlotte needed assets and by all accounts could have acquired some for the No. 2 pick but stayed put to select Kidd-Gilchrist, the versatile small forward out of Kentucky.
Gilchrist plays with exceptional heart and energy and is a strong, athletic wing player who possesses a high basketball IQ and projects as a lockdown defender at the NBA level. That said, he's not and never will be an elite scorer, and when you are selected with the second overall pick, offensive acumen is expected.
As good as MKG will be, he'll never live up to expectations.
TORONTO RAPTORS - The adage in the NBA is you draft for talent and trade for need.
The Raptors wanted a wing player at all costs and followed the dominos. When Gilchrist went to Charlotte, that put Beal in play for the nation's capital and had Cleveland reaching for Waiters, the player Toronto wanted.
Instead of taking a Drummond, a projected top-five pick who slipped to No. 9, Toronto kept the blinders on and only looked at the wing player column on its board, selecting Washington's Terrence Ross, an excellent shooter with great size and athletics.
Ross could work out. He strokes it confidently and has great mechanics on his jumper with range out to the 3-point line. But winning teams simply don't draft with the philosophy the Raptors used.