2012 NBA Draft: Pick-by-pick analysis

The 2012 NBA draft is over and it was eventful. Get analysis of each first-round pick here and check our Draft Tracker for every selection and second-round analysis.

1. New Orleans: Anthony Davis, 6-10, PF/C, Kentucky

Shocker. The Hornets land the clear No. 1 player in the draft to begin the club’s post-CP3 rebuilding efforts. You could make an argument that Davis is now officially the best shot-blocker in the NBA. His defense and rebounding will help him make an immediate impact and likely put him on All-Defensive teams for the next decade or so. However, his offensive game is still not incomplete. The consensus is that it will come around, but how much he develops on the offensive end of the floor will determine whether he’s an elite superstar or merely a great player. – Seth Sommerfeld

2. Charlotte: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, 6-7, SF, Kentucky

The Bobcats throw a curveball at No. 2, taking Anthony Davis’ wingman with the Wildcats. He plays so remarkably hard on every possession, but his glue-guy skills might be wasted on that garbage heap of a Bobcats roster. He’s not the sort of player who creates his own offense, and his jumper’s mechanics need some honing, but he has All-NBA potential on the defensive end, and he will bring a much-needed competitive streak to a Charlotte squad that set an NBA record in futility last season. He’s a major upgrade at the small forward position and he’ll be asked to cover for some brutal perimeter defenders from Day One. His ceiling is Scottie Pippen, but it’ll be incredible if he achieves that ceiling in Charlotte. – Nick Prevenas

3. Washington: Bradley Beal, 6-4, SG, Florida

Thanks to the Bobcats standing pat, the Wizards get the player they’ve long been targeting. Beal is the prototypical SG prospect, possessing the size, athleticism and shooting stroke that teams crave at that position. The one red flag with Beal is that he simply wasn’t great in his one year at Florida. His play for the Gators could best be described as “solid.” He’s a good fit for the Wizards and he’s certainly got All-Star talent, but he needs to start showing his talent on the court in order to justify his top-three draft position. – Seth Sommerfeld

4. Cleveland: Dion Waiters, 6-4, SG, Syracuse

The Cavs have a nice foundation with Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson in the fold, but they still have a serious hole on the wing. Instead of selecting Harrison Barnes (a player they reportedly loved going into last year’s draft), the Cavs reach on the draft’s highest riser in Waiters. He was never brought in for a workout and he had more than his fair share of “attitude problems” at Syracuse, but he can flat-out score. He plays with an edge and he has a knack for getting to the rim. He has an NBA body and a solid jumper, but he will have to adjust his game to complement Irving’s dribble-heavy style. It’s a bit of a head-scratcher at No. 4 given the talent on the board (so was Thompson last year), but Waiters should be an immediate contributor. – Nick Prevenas

5. Sacramento: Thomas Robinson, 6-10, PF, Kansas

The Kings now have a formidable front line. Teams aren’t going to be psyched about going up against the combo of Robinson and DeMarcus Cousins. Robinson is the safest pick in the lottery outside of Anthony Davis, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a high ceiling. His game has no real flaws and has the perfect blend of size and athleticism for a power forward. Maybe more importantly, he’s got a relentless motor and work ethic that hopefully will rub off on the rest of his Kings teammates. – Seth Sommerfeld

6. Portland: Damian Lillard, 6-2, PG, Weber State

The Blazers have been driving the Damian Lillard bandwagon all summer, so it’s no surprise to see him taken here at No. 6. He reportedly blew Portland’s staff away with his workout, and he posted surprisingly phenomenal combine numbers (testing similarly to Derrick Rose). Lillard is a scoring point guard, but he has a passer’s mentality and a high basketball IQ. He’s a bit of a late bloomer, and it should give Portland fans pause that the 22-year-old Lillard feasted on subpar competition, but Lillard possesses all of the skills and measurables one hopes to find in a starting point guard – Nick Prevenas

7. Golden State: Harrison Barnes, 6-8, SF, North Carolina

Barnes has taken a lot of abuse since his somewhat disappointing NCAA tournament performance and it’s overshadowed how great a player he really is. Maybe he’s not the player that he was hyped up to be coming out of high school, but there is no doubt Barnes can score. He can flat-out shoot and moves with tremendous fluidity, though he does struggle to create his own shot. If Stephen Curry can stay healthy, Golden State could have a tremendous scoring combo. – Seth Sommerfeld

8. Toronto: Terrence Ross, 6-6, SG, Washington

The Raptors look at this as their second lottery pick, with last year’s pick Jonas Valanciunas set to join them. With him in the fold, Toronto felt like they could pass on the tumbling Andre Drummond and take one of the draft’s most athletic wingmen in Ross. He was trapped on a dysfunctional Washington team last year, so many folks didn’t get a chance to see just how good Ross really is. He has remarkably deep range on his jumper and he loves to get out and run on the break. Think of him as a high-character, smarter, defensive-minded, doesn’t-fade-away-on-every-jumper-for-no-reason J.R. Smith. Strong pick. – Nick Prevenas

9. Detroit: Andre Drummond, 6-10, PF/C, UConn

Drummond falling to Detroit was the dream scenario for Motor City basketball fans. Drummond has a downright freakish combination of athleticism and size, and pairing him with a terrific passing big like Greg Monroe can only help his development. There’s an argument to be made that Drummond has an even higher ceiling than Anthony Davis. The question with Drummond is his work ethic and motor, but if he starts giving his all, there are going to be lots of GMs answering questions about why they passed on him. – Seth Sommerfeld

10. New Orleans: Austin Rivers, 6-5, PG/SG, Duke

With the Hornets’ second lottery pick of the night, they select one of the draft’s most divisive prospects in Rivers. Glass half-full: Rivers is one of the most confident, intelligent scorers in this draft class. He has range on his jumper, and he can create his own shot off the dribble. He showed a knack for coming through in the clutch at Duke. At the very least, Doc Rivers’s son should develop into a Jason Terry-esque sixth man. Glass half-empty: Rivers is a bit of a black hole. When he gets the ball, it usually doesn’t find its way anywhere other than the rim. The tricks that worked for him in high school likely won’t work against bigger, more athletic NBA defenders. But with Davis and (probably) Eric Gordon already in the fold, Rivers will be given a terrific opportunity to blossom for a franchise on the rebound. – Nick Prevenas

11. Portland: Meyers Leonard, 7-0, C, Illinois

Leonard is a somewhat risky pick, but for the Blazers it’s a risk worth taking. At times Leonard looked like a highlight machine while throwing down big dunks and other times he looked downright lost. He’s got athletic gifts in a 7-1 frame and a decent shooting touch, but needs to build up more strength to play in the post with NBA bigs. He likely isn’t ready to be a starter from Day One, but if the Blazers give him time to develop he could be special. – Seth Sommerfeld

12. Houston: Jeremy Lamb, 6-5, SG, UConn

There has to be a trade coming, right? The Rockets own three mid-first round picks in hopes of collecting enough assets for a Dwight Howard rental, so it’s hard to say which of these players will actually remain here. Lamb is an intriguing wing player, but he seems to duplicate most of what Kevin Martin brings. Lamb’s sleepy expression doesn’t do his game justice. He’s a skilled, well-rounded two-guard with terrific range, good size (if a little thin) and phenomenal length (the wingspan of a power forward). That length and quickness give him the potential to become a stellar defender, and as he gets stronger, his game will develop nicely. – Nick Prevenas

13. Phoenix: Kendall Marshall, 6-4, PG, North Carolina

Wave goodbye to Steve Nash, Suns fans. Kendall Marshall is your point guard now. Marshall is the best distributing PG to come into the league since Ricky Rubio was drafted in ’09. There have been questions about his scoring ability, but don’t read too much into that. While he doesn’t fit the mold of the modern freakishly athletic PG (like Derrick Rose or Russell Westbrook), he should be able to make all the players around him better. – Seth Sommerfeld

14. Milwaukee: John Henson, 6-10, PF, North Carolina

The Bucks have Samuel Dalembert, Ekpe Udoh and Larry Sanders in tow, so why not add another bouncy, long-armed shot-blocker without much offensive skill? Henson was one of the nation’s premier shot-blockers in college, but he is painfully thin for a post player and will get muscled out of the paint until he adds bulk. He has great potential, due to his freakish wingspan, high IQ and soft hands, but that potential will remain untapped until he gets stronger. Milwaukee is going to have to be patient with Henson. – Nick Prevenas

15. Philadelphia: Moe Harkless, 6-8, SF, St. John’s

Moe (ahem … Maurice) Harkless isn’t a need pick for the Sixers, but he’s a great pick nonetheless. He’s the rare balanced player with tremendous upside. He immediately provides a very deep team with even more depth and could take over the small forward position when Andre Iguodala eventually leaves town. – Seth Sommerfeld

16. Houston: Royce White, 6-8, SF/PF, Iowa State

The Rockets continue Mission: Asset Accumulation with the most intriguing player in this draft class: Royce White. Simply put, there isn’t anyone quite like him. He’s either a more disciplined Boris Diaw, a nicer Anthony Mason, or a less athletic Chris Webber. Very few players at that size (6-8, 245) with that strength can pass and handle like him. He can do anything except for shoot free throws. He has a well-documented list of off-the-court issues, including an anxiety disorder. He appears to have the off-court problems under control, and he’ll bring a unique dimension to whichever team he plays for. Anyone with his wide array of skills has a place in the NBA. – Nick Prevenas

17. Cleveland (from Dallas): Tyler Zeller, 6-11, PF/C, North Carolina

Cleveland gave up quite a lot (24, 33 and 34) in order to get a big man who can run the floor with Kyrie Irving. Zeller shines in the open floor as he possesses fantastic quickness for a 7-footer. His offensive game is polished, but he’s still a project on the defensive end of the floor. He certainly needs to get stronger to hang with NBA bigs. In a draft with tremendous depth, Cleveland may regret trading away three picks for Zeller. – Seth Sommerfeld

18. Houston: Terrence Jones, 6-8, SF, Kentucky

Unless the Rockets plan on using a hockey-style line-change substitution pattern, someone is getting traded. But if Jones ends up staying in Houston, he’ll bring a hard-nosed toughness – something few people expected to say about him after a freshman season that saw his effort come and go. On last year’s title team, Jones helped anchor the defensive rebounding for Kentucky, while still showing the same versatile skill set on offense. He measured out tall enough to play the 4-spot in the NBA, where he could provide a lot of mismatch problems. Think of him as having Lamar Odom’s ceiling (Lakers version) with Lamar Odom’s floor (Mavericks version). – Nick Prevenas

19. Orlando: Andrew Nicholson, 6-9, PF, St. Bonaventure

Few guys can match Nicholson’s combo of shooting and size. His basketball IQ is high and he can block shots and rebound at a decent clip. While he’s not going to blow anyone away athletically, he has all the tools to excel in an NBA pick-and-roll game. – Seth Sommerfeld

20. Denver: Evan Fournier, 6-7, SG/SF, France

The Nuggets select the best player available in the weakest crop of overseas prospects in quite some time. Fournier was the only international player to come into this draft with a first-round grade, and if he elects to come over right away, he’ll provide depth behind Arron Afflalo at the 2-guard spot. He’s a steady, crafty offensive player with a bunch of herky-jerky tricks at his disposal, and he possesses great size for his position. He’s an average-at-best athlete and will struggle to defend his position, but he’s only 19, so he still has room to develop. – Nick Prevenas

21. Boston: Jared Sullinger, 6-10, PF, Ohio State

Sullinger’s stock has taken a nose dive since he decided not to declare for last year’s draft, but being drafted by the Celtics could work out for him. He no longer will face the pressure of being “the guy” that would’ve come with being a top-10 pick. His post skills on the offensive end are elite, it’s just a matter of whether he’ll be able to effectively use them as a below-the-rim player in the NBA. If he can develop a more consistent mid-range jumper he could end up being a valuable piece off the bench as the Celtics make a few more title runs to close out the Pierce/KG era. – Seth Sommerfeld

22. Boston: Fab Melo, 7-0, C, Syracuse

The Celtics, still in need of serious depth on the front line, take the polar opposite of Sullinger in Fab Melo. He is very limited offensively, but he has the body and athleticism of an NBA center. He can defend and block shots as long as his stamina holds up, and he has plenty of room to grow. On half of the teams in the league, a guy like Melo often turns into a stiff, but with the Celtics and Kevin Garnett helping show him the ropes, he could become another Kendrick Perkins. – Nick Prevenas

23. Atlanta: John Jenkins, 6-4, SG, Vanderbilt

The Hawks land the best pure shooter in the draft (last year he shot 10% better from beyond the arc than Bradley Beal did). He makes up for his lack of physical tools with a high basketball IQ, specifically knowing how to play off the ball. He might have some issues defending the 2-guard spot on the NBA level, but he should have a long career as a 3-point specialist. –Seth Sommerfeld

24. Dallas (from Cleveland): Jared Cunningham, 6-5, SG, Oregon State

The Mavericks moved down seven spots to take Cunningham, a bouncy, strong 2-guard who should give them some much-needed depth in the backcourt. He’s an athletic slasher who thrives in the open court and loves to play above the rim. His jumper steadily improved during college, and he has the physical tools to become a lockdown defender. He has to improve his overall offensive skill level to carve out a niche in the NBA (particularly his handle), but his physical gifts and attitude give him a good shot to contribute right away. – Nick Prevenas

25. Memphis: Tony Wroten, Jr., 6-6, PG, Washington

The Grizzlies didn’t pick for need, but that’s because Wroten could end up being one of the steals of the draft. Let’s get this out of the way: He can’t shoot. That said, he brings so many other things to the table. He has an elite skill for getting to the rim (and FT line), ideal size for the position, and is a great passer. He simply is too talented to fall all the way to 25. – Seth Sommerfeld

26. Indiana: Miles Plumlee, 6-11, C, Duke

The Pacers have undergone a major front-office upheaval. Larry Bird is reportedly still running the draft, but it’s never a good sign when a front office enters transition mode immediately before the draft. Case in point: Taking Miles Plumlee in the first round. Plumlee blew minds with one of the all-time greatest showings in combine history, but anyone who spent more than 10 minutes watching Duke play this year would tell you that Plumlee simply isn’t an NBA player. At best, he’s a developmental athlete who could eventually become a backup big man (think Chris Andersen). But right now, Plumlee is a long way away. The Pacers have spent the past handful of seasons making savvy moves. This is a big blunder. – Nick Prevenas

27. Philadelphia (from Miami): Arnett Moultrie, 6-11, PF, Mississippi State

In Moultrie, the Sixers get a hard worker who vastly improved over his four years in college. While not a particularly strong guy for his size, Moultrie can crash the boards and his displayed a deft shooting touch. He should fit in well with the Sixers’ athletic young core. – Seth Sommerfeld

28. Oklahoma City: Perry Jones, 6-11, PF, Baylor

Jones might’ve been disappointed to see his name plummet so far down the draft board, but he couldn’t have asked for a better situation. The Thunder add one of the top-five raw talents in this draft at the No. 28 pick. Unbelievable. If Jones fulfills even 70 percent of his potential, he’ll be a major steal for the Thunder at this spot. He is a jaw-dropping physical specimen with small forward skills in a 6-11 frame. Sound familiar? He played out of position on a chaotic Baylor squad, and he doesn’t always give his best effort (in the understatement of the draft). But he’s just too talented to pass up here, regardless of whatever knee issue he might have. Picks like these are what separates the Thunder from the rest of the league. – Nick Prevenas

29. Chicago: Marquis Teague, 6-2, PG, Kentucky

Teague gives the Bulls a solid backup PG who will get plenty of minutes while the team waits for Rose to return from his injury. He’s basically a slightly better version of his brother, Hawks PG Jeff Teague. Quickness is his strength, but he lacks a natural feel for distributing the ball. – Seth Sommerfeld

30. Golden State: Festus Ezeli, 6-11, C, Vanderbilt

The Warriors, desperate for anyone who can play a shred of defense, use their second pick of the first round to take Ezeli as Andrew Bogut insurance. He’s a big, strong interior presence with an NBA body. He isn’t a stiff offensively, but nobody would ever mistake his game for Hakeem Olajuwon’s. At 22, his upside is limited, but he defends well when he’s not in foul trouble. What you see is what you get. But guys with this size and strength tend to stick around the NBA for around 7-10 years. – Nick Prevenas