Redrafting the 2012 NBA Draft

Grant HughesNational NBA Featured ColumnistJune 23, 2014

Redrafting the 2012 NBA Draft

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    The 2014 NBA draft is creeping closer by the second, and teams around the league are eyeing the incoming crop of talent with equal parts excitement and fear.

    That first emotion, the hard-to-contain enthusiasm, is easy to explain. The draft brings optimism, the prospect of a fresh start and a chance to maybe, just maybe, hit the jackpot on a franchise-altering superstar. General managers know how quickly a team's fortunes can change with a single shrewd selection.

    But they also know how disastrously wrong things can go, which, as you've probably guessed, is where the fear comes from.

    Mistakes—especially in the lottery—can set organizations back years, and there are no do-overs allowed when it comes to bungled draft picks.

    What if there were, though?

    It's probably still too soon for the usual tools (hindsight, revisionist history and know-it-all-ism) to apply to the 2013 draft, but we've had two full seasons to evaluate the 2012 edition. That means we have enough information to give general managers something they've always wanted: a chance to get the draft right.

    In looking back at the first round of the 2012 draft, we'll take each squad as it existed at the time, which is critical to remember when dealing with team needs. Ultimately, talent will matter most, as it should in any draft—imaginary or otherwise.

    So, if we knew then what we know now, how would the 2012 NBA draft have shaken out?

     

1. New Orleans Pelicans: Anthony Davis, PF/C, Kentucky

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    Well, this is awkward.

    All that talk about hindsight and getting things right the second time around doesn't really apply to the No. 1 pick in our redraft. That's a credit to the New Orleans Pelicans, who took Kentucky big man Anthony Davis with the top selection two years ago.

    There's no plausible argument for another pick in this slot, as Davis has led all players in his class in win shares, despite missing a total of 33 games in his career, per Basketball-Reference.com.

    Though there would have been some debate if we'd slotted Davis first a year ago, his sophomore campaign left no room for discussion. Davis made his first All-Star team, led the league in blocks per game and finished fourth in player efficiency rating.

    Davis is already a star, blessed with a combination of size and skills that shouldn't exist in the same body. He's got ridiculous touch, a developing jumper and unteachable instincts that will one day make him one of the best defensive players in the league.

    And there's bad news coming for the rest of the league: Davis is getting bigger.

    Head coach Monty Williams told Nakia Hogan of The Times-Picayune that his franchise player has already used the weeks since his season ended to bulk up:

    He's just naturally getting bigger. It's weird seeing him. He's put on some muscle. I'm not going to be cracking a lot (skinny) jokes about him anymore. Before I could just put him down, now I'm like you have to be messing with my wife and kids for me to attack him now. He's put on some muscle. I didn't think he would be that much different but he looks different.

    Put simply, he's the most promising young talent in the NBA today—and he's only getting better. Which, when you think about it, is exactly what a No. 1 pick is supposed to be.

     

    Actual Pick: Anthony Davis, PF/C, Kentucky

2. Charlotte Hornets: Damian Lillard, PG, Weber St.

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    Danny Moloshok/Associated Press

    With sincerest apologies to Kemba Walker, a perfectly fine point guard in his own right, the Charlotte Hornets (nee Bobcats) happily snatch up Damian Lillard at No. 2.

    Though Walker posted a PER just a hair below the league average as a rookie in 2011-12 and has grown into a starting-caliber floor general, he can't match Lillard's overall offensive game. Short of Stephen Curry, there's no other point guard in the league with Lillard's handle and three-point stroke.

    With Lillard, the Hornets would boast a vastly improved offense. And teams would have to think twice before doubling down on Al Jefferson in the post—especially if the Hornets utilized Walker and Lillard together in a dual-point-guard set.

    Ben Golliver of Sports Illustrated (via the Oregonian) offered more on Lillard's value:

    This year, he joined Stephen Curry, arguably the NBA's best long ball weapon ever, as the only two players to take at least 550 attempts, and yet he still hit a crisp 39 percent of his threes. The other standout aspect of Lillard's season was his durability: through two seasons, he's played more than 6,100 minutes and has yet to miss a game due to injury.

    Sounds like a pretty good second-overall pick to me.

    In a draft with just a handful of surefire stars, there's no way Lillard would sneak past the Hornets.

     

    Actual Pick: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SF, Kentucky

3. Washington Wizards: Andre Drummond, C, Connecticut

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    Sure, the free-throw shooting could use a little work, but complaining about Andre Drummond's work from the stripe in any serious way is akin to moaning about a water spot on an an otherwise pristine Maserati.

    Or maybe a Hummer.

    Actually, is there such a thing as a Maserati-Hummer crossover? Because that would seem like the most appropriate vehicular equivalent to a player as monstrously large and ridiculously athletic as Drummond.

    Maybe it'll sting Washington Wizards fans a bit to see their beloved Bradley Beal passed over at No. 3, but let's get really honest for a second: Beal is a nice player with loads of upside, but Drummond is a franchise center who might have more room to improve than anyone in this draft besides Davis.

    "What you see from when he came in, he’s gotten better, but what you see more is all the things he can still do to get better,” Detroit Pistons coach and president Stan Van Gundy told Keith Langlois of NBA.com. “Really, the sky is the limit on Andre Drummond.”

    Oh, and one other thing: It doesn't matter in the least that the Wizards went into the 2012 draft with Nene on their roster. Had they known Drummond would go on to post dominant rookie and sophomore efforts, they would have held off on signing Nene to that hefty extension after acquiring him from the Denver Nuggets in 2011.

    We're getting too deep into layers of hindsight here, but the overarching point is this: You don't pass on Drummond at No. 3, regardless of who's on the roster. He's a beast, and he's only getting better.

     

    Actual Pick: Bradley Beal, SG, Florida

4. Cleveland Cavaliers: Bradley Beal, SG, Florida

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    No team needs a do-over more than the Cleveland Cavaliers, and while we can't erase their face-palm-inducing pick of Anthony Bennett at No. 1 in 2013, we can certainly improve on their fourth pick in 2012.

    With Kyrie Irving looking like a star in the making at point guard, Cleveland wanted to add a complementary scorer in the backcourt. In an ideal world, they would have picked up somebody who could do damage without constantly needing the ball in his hands.

    And if they could have snagged someone with that skill set who wouldn't immediately enter into a power struggle for alpha-dog status, all the better.

    Sounds like Beal to me.

    Thanks to Drummond shooting up the draft, Beal would be available (and ideal) for the Cavs at No. 4. He's two years younger than Waiters, boasts a career three-point accuracy rate of 39.6 percent (Waiters sits at 34.2 percent) and has absolutely no problem playing well with others. Remember, early in his second season, Waiters was at the center of rumors involving trade demands, accusations of "buddy ball" and a players-only meeting, per Chris Broussard of ESPN the Magazine.

    In contrast, Beal has been controversy-free. He's everything the Cavs wanted when they took Waiters.

     

    Actual Pick: Dion Watiers, SG, Syracuse

5. Sacramento Kings: Terrence Ross, SG, Washington

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    Bill Haber/Associated Press

    Happily, the Sacramento Kings snatch up Terrence Ross to solidify the shooting guard position.

    Though Sacramento had Tyreke Evans and the newly extended Marcus Thornton (who signed a four-year, $31 million deal in December, 2011) on the roster, Ross' combination of athleticism and three-point shooting would have made him too difficult to pass up.

    And the fact that neither Thornton nor Evans remain on the roster today shows how much value the Kings ultimately got from their wings.

    Ross dropped 51 points on the Los Angeles Clippers on Jan. 25, showing the kind of scoring prowess that should make him a valuable scoring guard for years to come. He can hit threes, a fact evidenced by his 39.5 percent conversion rate from distance last season, and we know he can elevate.

    The Kings tried to fill the void at shooting guard with Ben McLemore last season, but he proved too limited to contribute much as a rookie. If Sacramento had only taken Ross in 2012, it could have shored up other weaknesses in the 2013 draft.

    Thanks to some make-believe redrafting, Ross is now a King, and all's well.

     

    Actual Pick: Thomas Robinson, PF, Kansas

6. Portland Trail Blazers: John Henson, PF/C, North Carolina

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    Gary Dineen/Getty Images

    Sorry, Blazers: Lillard is long gone this time around.

    That's the thing about ranking talent with the benefit of hindsight: It means teams that scored big by drafting intelligently later in the lottery won't have the luxury of stars falling into their laps.

    Still, John Henson gives the Blazers a rim protector who can do serious work on the offensive glass because of his length and touch. The North Carolina product proved he could be immensely productive when given the opportunity last year, averaging 15.1 points, 10.7 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per 36 minutes with the Milwaukee Bucks.

    And if it seems duplicative to slot a big man behind Robin Lopez and LaMarcus Aldridge on the Portland Trail Blazers bench, go ahead and scan that woeful cast of reserves real quick. 

    Horrible, right?

    Henson gives Portland an immediate boost where it needs one the worst, and he could eventually add enough muscle to push Lopez for the starting gig at center.

     

    Actual Pick: Damian Lillard, PG, Weber St.

7. Golden State Warriors: Terrence Jones, PF, Kentucky

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    Quietly, Terrence Jones has piled up the fourth-most win shares among players drafted in 2012, according to Basketball-Reference. Though he's substantially behind the top tier comprised of Davis, Lillard and Drummond, his high-percentage offensive game and terrific rebounding rate combine to make him extremely valuable.

    Perhaps most importantly, he showed the ability to stretch the floor as an undersized power forward in his second year, attempting 101 triples in 2013-14 after trying just 19 in 2012-13.

    Now, Jones definitely has some work to do on his accuracy. He hit just 30.7 percent from beyond the arc last season. But he's trending in the right direction and does enough other things well to earn a bit of a pass while he continues to improve his stroke.

    The Warriors desperately need a stretch 4—and have for, well...basically forever.

    Jones is their man, and he's a steal at No. 7.

     

    Actual Pick: Harrison Barnes, SF, North Carolina

8. Toronto Raptors: Jared Sullinger, PF, Ohio St.

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    Perhaps somewhat miffed (to the extent that unfailingly polite Canadians get miffed at all), the Toronto Raptors won't be getting Terrence Ross at No. 8.

    Fortunately, they can snatch up big man Jared Sullinger, a player who could provide some bulk in the middle and an improving perimeter game that should fit nicely in an NBA that increasingly values shooting from frontcourt players.

    Sullinger tried 208 triples in his second season, a massive increase on the five he attempted as a rookie. Toronto could use a little more space on offense because DeMar DeRozan operates so frequently in the mid-range area. The big man from Ohio State provides the sort of extra breathing room the Raps need.

    Plus, he's a beast on the glass. As consolation prizes go, Sully's not so bad.

    Actual Pick: Terrence Ross, SG, Washington

9. Detroit Pistons: Draymond Green, SF, Michigan St.

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    The Detroit Pistons stay local with their selection, gladly selecting Draymond Green, a Michigan native, with the No. 9 pick.

    Green's climb up the draft ladder is impressive, as the Warriors grabbed him at No. 35 in the real 2012 draft. A four-year collegian, Green brings intangibles like toughness, an uncanny knack for corralling loose balls and an unparalleled competitive spirit—qualities that make up for an unreliable jumper and tweener size.

    There are flashier players available, and perhaps even a few with higher ceilings. But Green is a flat-out winner and an immediate rotation player for the Pistons. If he continues to improve his three-point stroke, he'll quickly become an ideal small-ball power forward.

     

    Actual Pick: Andre Drummond, C, Connecticut

10. New Orleans Pelicans: Harrison Barnes, SF, North Carolina

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    A troubling second-year dip in performance means Harrison Barnes falls three spots from his original draft position, making him available for a Pelicans team that badly needs a do-over on this pick.

    Barnes isn't broken—not exactly anyway. He suffered from misuse last season, as former head coach Mark Jackson set Barnes up to fail as the primary scoring threat on the second unit. Blessed with a sweet stroke and terrific open-court athleticism, Barnes isn't a shot-creator—especially in one-on-one situations when the defense is set.

    As a finisher and catch-and-shoot option, he's perfectly fine, though.

    With a couple of NBA-ready skills and a chance to improve his ball-handling (which will only help him in the half-court), Barnes is a nice grab at No. 10. Plus, his athleticism on the wing makes for a tantalizing pairing with Davis in the middle.

    Toss in a healthy Ryan Anderson spreading the floor and Jrue Holiday running the show, and you've got a nice little core.

    And hey, at least he's not Austin Rivers!

     

    Actual Pick: Austin Rivers, PG, Duke

11. Portland Trail Blazers: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SF, Kentucky

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    This is how you shoot 15 percent from 10-16 feet.
    This is how you shoot 15 percent from 10-16 feet.Grant Halverson/Getty Images

    There are guys who can't shoot, guys who really can't shoot and somewhere, about 50 permutations down that scale, there's Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, the No. 2 overall pick in the actual 2012 draft.

    A diligent worker who can defend, rebound and score in transition, MKG's horrendously hitchy jumper completely neuters his half-court effectiveness. Defenses don't guard him, and he shot a mere 11 percent from beyond the arc in 2013-14.

    Moving closer to the bucket didn't help much, either. He hit just 15 percent of his attempts from 10-to-16 feet last year, per Basketball-Reference.

    Now, I realize this sounds like a takedown of a young player who's never done anything but give maximum effort. That's not really the case, though. Instead, it's an explanation for why the Blazers are going to be able to get their hands on him at No. 11.

    Portland had Wesley Matthews and Nicolas Batum on the roster at the time of the 2012 draft, which means MKG would have gotten the chance to work on his weaknesses as a reserve rather than being thrust into the starting lineup immediately.

    It's hard to know how much a more gradual introduction into the rotation would have helped MKG's shooting, but it couldn't possibly hurt.

     

    Actual Pick: Meyers Leonard, C, Illinois

12. Houston Rockets: Miles Plumlee, C, Duke

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    Miles Plumlee needed a fresh start with the Phoenix Suns after a ho-hum rookie campaign with the Indiana Pacers to get his career off the ground. But he's now a legitimate starting center in the NBA, blessed with ridiculous athleticism and the ability to dominate for long stretches on the glass.

    As a "catch ball, dunk ball" offensive player, Plumlee is somewhat limited in his scoring options. But when he does catch ball and dunk ball, it's usually pretty spectacular.

    The Houston Rockets like to spread four shooters around a conventional center who sticks near the bucket, and Plumlee can absolutely fill that interior role.

    Admittedly, we'll need a thorough explanation of relativity and space-time theory to figure out if Dwight Howard and/or Omer Asik would have ended up on the roster had Plumlee been the pick at No. 12, but hey, we're not here to get into theoretical physics.

    Plumlee is going to be rebounding, blocking shots and scoring high-efficiency buckets in the league for decades. That's pretty darn good for a 12th pick.

    Bonus points awarded to the Plum Dog for having terrific hair, a quality we know the Rockets value (see: Motiejunas, Donatas).

     

    Actual Pick: Jeremy Lamb, SF, Connecticut

13. Phoenix Suns: Maurice Harkless, SF, St. John's

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    Full disclosure: Part of the reason I have the Suns taking Maurice Harkless is because I think it would be funny to add to the confusion of having both Markieff and Marcus Morris.

    Steve Albert, the Suns' television play-by-play man, has managed the difficult task of telling the Morris twins apart, so let's see how he does when Maurice, Markieff and Marcus are on the floor together. The tongue-twisting gauntlet has been thrown down.

    In addition to screwing with Albert, Harkless is also a player the Suns would be happy to snatch up at No. 13. He's a rangy, athletic forward who would fit right into the team's uptempo transition attack. 

    Harkless also shot 38.3 percent from long distance last year, which also appeals to a Suns team that shot the fourth-most threes in the league during the 2013-14 season.

    This works on every level.

     

    Actual Pick: Kendall Marshall, PG, North Carolina

14. Milwaukee Bucks: Dion Waiters, SG, Syracuse

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    John Raoux/Associated Press

    Don't worry, we didn't forget about Waiters—though it's hard to say whether being forgotten or slipping 10 spots in a fairly weak draft is worse for the ego.

    If you did more than skim the slide in which Beal went to the Cavs at No. 4, you've probably had your fill of Waiters criticism. But knocking a No. 4 pick down this far warrants just a bit more of an explanation. After all, you'd think a guy with a reputation for putting the ball in the hole would have been grabbed by somebody before this point.

    But Waiters ranks 22nd in his class in career win shares, per Basketball-Reference, and he's a low-efficiency scorer who doesn't really do anything else.

    The Bucks take him here because they don't have a capable guard to absorb minutes behind Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings, their hilariously poor backcourt pairing at the time of the 2012 draft. And what's better for a backcourt that shoots terribly and doesn't defend than another guy who shoots terribly and doesn't defend?

    I mean, this is the Bucks we're talking about. They paid O.J. Mayo $24 million over three years last summer. Of course they take Waiters here.

     

    Actual Pick: John Henson, PF/C North Carolina

15. Philadelphia 76ers: Tyler Zeller, C, North Carolina

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    Hey, brother.
    Hey, brother.Mark Duncan/Associated Press

    It might not seem like Tyler Zeller is all that exciting at No. 15, but the Philadelphia 76ers are getting a sneaky bargain here.

    See, Zellar played less this past season (15 minutes per game, down from 26.4 as a rookie), but he was substantially more effective when he was on the court. His per-36 scoring and rebounding numbers both spiked, and his field-goal percentage jumped from 43.8 percent to 53.8 percent.

    Now, it's possible he benefited from softer matchups as a bench player, but it's also entirely reasonable to assume that the completely rudderless Cavaliers simply had no idea Zeller should have been playing a lot more last season.

    At any rate, he gives the Sixers a solid, improving big man to shore up a front line that needs all the help it can get. Toss him out there with Nerlens Noel, and expect growing pains. But at least he'll offer potential and a steady rebounding presence.

     

    Actual Pick: Maurice Harkless, SF, St. John's

16. Houston Rockets: Jae Crowder, SF, Marquette

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    So, here's the thing: The Rockets really can't get this pick wrong. After gambling (and losing) on Royce White, anyone who plays a single second of an NBA game for Houston would constitute, by definition, a better return on its investment.

    Congratulations, Jae Crowder: You are that better return.

    Crowder is a solid, physical combo forward who spends most of his time at the 3 and offers a rotation-ready contributor the Rockets would almost certainly use as a floor-stretching power forward. Though he's no dead-eye from distance, Crowder is a threat from long range, having hit at least 50 triples in each of his first two seasons.

     

    Actual Pick: Royce White, SF, Iowa St.

17. Dallas Mavericks: Khris Middleton, SF, Texas A&M

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    Issac Baldizon/Getty Images

    Context matters in the NBA, which makes it hard to know if what Khris Middleton did on the go-nowhere Milwaukee Bucks last season would translate the same way in a situation where the games were, you know, actually meaningful.

    But a guy who can get buckets consistently has value, and Middleton showed a real scoring knack with the Deer in 2013-14.

    Playing in all 82 games, Middleton averaged 12.1 points per game while hitting 41.4 percent of his shots from long range. At 6'7", he's got enough size to guard both wing positions, though his performance on that end leaves plenty to be desired at this stage of his career.

    Dallas isn't getting Crowder in this redraft, and Middleton represents an adequate replacement with a somewhat overlapping skill set.

     

    Actual Pick: Tyler Zeller, PF, North Carolina

18. Houston Rockets: Kyle O'Quinn, Norfolk State

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    We've already mentioned a handful of times how the Rockets like forwards who can stretch the floor with a reliable three-point shot, but they're not only interested in bigs who can snipe from distance.

    They've also shown an affinity for excessively bulky forwards who take up loads of space in the lane and use their width and strength to do serious work on the boards.

    Chuck Hayes. Carl Landry. Greg Smith.

    Guys like that.

    Enter Kyle O'Quinn, a bearded bruiser who has posted an above-league-average PER in both of his pro seasons, per Basketball-Reference. There are a handful of flashier picks available here, but O'Quinn might be the most productive guy left on the board.

    And he's definitely the most intimidating.

     

    Actual Pick: Terrence Jones, PF, Kentucky

     

19. Orlando Magic: Jeremy Lamb, Connecticut

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    The 2011-12 Orlando Magic knew they were heading into a period of uncertainty. The Dwight Howard saga had reached the point of no return, the roster was about to be thrown into upheaval and, eventually, a full rebuild would commence.

    Jeremy Lamb hasn't done much besides dazzle in the summer league during his pro career, but he did take a couple of positive steps forward last year, hitting with more accuracy from the field and showing enough confidence to earn a short cameo in the Oklahoma City Thunder's postseason rotation.

    The talent is tantalizing, and Lamb would have been exactly the kind of high-ceiling project the Magic would have wanted two years ago. And if we flash forward, the increasingly likely departure of Arron Afflalo means Lamb's skills would likely earn him a shot at a starting gig.

     

    Actual Pick: Andrew Nicholson, PF, St. Bonaventure

20. Denver Nuggets: Meyers Leonard, C, Illinois

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    Sam Forencich/Getty Images

    Meyers Leonard is a complicated case, as he posted a promising rookie season before falling out of the rotation in his follow-up campaign. But at No. 20, a somewhat risky project with lottery upside (as evidenced by the fact that he was actually taken in the real-life lottery) is a pretty good get.

    The Denver Nuggets dealt Nene for JaVale McGee during the 2011-12 season, so Leonard would join the team with a clear backup role ahead of him. That's probably for the best, as the 7'1" center needs time to grow.

    One positive worth noting: Despite playing fewer minutes in his second season, Leonard's rebound rate spiked. Offensively raw, his future is probably that of a paint-protector and glass-cleaner, two things the Denver Nuggets could definitely use off the bench.

    This is a potential steal if Leonard eventually develops.

     

    Actual Pick: Evan Fournier, SG, France

21. Boston Celtics: Andrew Nicholson, PF, St. Bonaventure

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    With the first of their back-to-back picks, the Boston Celtics take floor-stretching big man Andrew Nicholson, a player who added a three-point shot in his second year at the cost of his scoring efficiency.

    Nicholson would have been ideal for the 2012-13 Celtics, as his mid-range jumper would have been valuable in an offense that took a whole lot of those kinds of shots. In what would have been Nicholson's rookie season, the C's attempted the fifth-most mid-range shots in the league, hitting an NBA-high 43.8 percent, per NBA.com.

    And, amazingly, Nicholson shot precisely 43.8 percent from the mid-range area as a rookie, per NBA.com. Talk about a perfect fit!

    As a useful rotation piece who fit Boston's style in the final year of the Kevin Garnett-Paul Pierce era, Nicholson would have had real value. And as a young floor-stretcher with an improving stroke from long range, he could have been a key piece of the Celtics' ongoing rebuild as well.

     

    Actual Pick: Jared Sullinger, PF, Ohio St.

22. Boston Celtics: Mike Scott, SF, Virginia

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    Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

    Mike Scott has two distinct advantages over Fab Melo, the man Boston actually selected at this spot in the 2012 draft.

    First, he has played more than six NBA games—Melo's total since being drafted by the Celtics two years ago.

    Second, he has proved to be an effective (if somewhat unconventional) manager of Dunder Mifflin, Inc.

    Wait, maybe I'm getting my Michael Scotts mixed up.

    The Scott who played for the Hawks these past two seasons was a terrific spark plug off the bench whose two-year numbers include 18.4 points per 36 minutes and a shooting percentage of 47.9 percent. In short, he's a legitimate rotation wing who would give the Celtics a whole lot of what Jeff Green provides at a much cheaper price tag.

    That's a bargain at No. 22.

     

    Actual Pick: Fab Melo, C, Syracuse

23. Atlanta Hawks: Thomas Robinson, PF, Kansas

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    It's not ideal to select a guy who ends up playing for three teams in his first two years with the fifth overall pick, which the Sacramento Kings did in the case of Thomas Robinson two years ago. But you might consider the option with the No. 23 selection.

    Robinson is undersized and doesn't shoot the ball well enough to justify a lottery selection, and it is hard to get past the way he fell out of favor with the Kings so quickly as a rookie.

    But somewhere lurking inside him are the skills any team would want in a backup forward. Robinson is energetic, exceptionally athletic and has shown the ability to rebound outside his area—all qualities that would intrigue the Hawks at this spot.

    He could have fit in as a backup for both Josh Smith and Al Horford as a rookie, then spelled Horford and Paul Millsap this past season.

     

    Actual Pick: John Jenkins, SG, Vanderbilt

24. Cleveland Cavaliers: Festus Ezeli, C, Vanderbilt

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    The Cavaliers' dalliance with Andrew Bynum last year proved they weren't scared off by big men with injury concerns.

    Great! Because Festus Ezeli followed up his rookie season by missing the entire 2013-14 campaign after knee surgery, so selecting him at No. 24 means doing so with the knowledge that his sophomore year will be a lost cause.

    That's fine, though, as Ezeli has the size (6'11", 255 pounds) to be a legitimate defensive anchor in the middle. He flashed serious athleticism and timing in his rookie campaign, and although his terrible hands make him a liability on offense, there's a lot to like about Ezeli as an overall prospect.

    Best of all, he's not a bowler.

     

    Actual Pick: Jared Cunningham, SG, Oregon St.

25. Memphis Grizzlies: Perry Jones, SF, Baylor

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    The Memphis Grizzlies get three things in taking Perry Jones with the 25th pick: potential, potential and potential.

    A man Kevin Durant recently labeled "the best athlete in the league," per Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman, Jones is a tremendously gifted player. At 6'11", Jones posted a 38.5" max vertical at the 2012 draft combine, per DraftExpress.com.

    He's long, runs the floor like a guard and even flashed some three-point range in his second season, hitting 36.1 percent of his long-distance attempts in limited playing time.

    The point is, Jones is a prospect with loads of upside and versatility galore. The stodgy Grizz could certainly use an infusion of what Jones brings, and you'd have to think he could steal minutes from the withered husk that is Tayshaun Prince right away.

     

    Actual Pick: Tony Wroten, PG, Washington

26. Indiana Pacers: Evan Fournier, SG, France

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    Maybe you've heard: The Indiana Pacers are a little short on offensive talent.

    Evan Fournier is a big (6'6") guard with three-point range and a mindset to score. Granted, he's not as physical a defender as the Pacers might like, but he's pretty rugged when it comes to finishing at the rim (he hit 61 percent of his point-blank tries in 2013-14, per Basketball-Reference).

    Not that it's saying much, but he's probably a more capable offensive option than anybody Indiana has coming off the pine in the backcourt. And when you're a team like the Pacers, fresh off a No. 22 offensive rating in the 2013-14 regular season, per NBA.com, even minor upgrades help.

    Fournier slips a couple of positions from his actual draft slot, No. 20, not because he fell short of expectations but because a handful of late-round talents hopped ahead of him. He's a solid pick at No. 26.

     

    Actual Pick: Miles Plumlee, C, Duke

27. Miami Heat: Kendall Marshall, PG, North Carolina

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    You can question the 45-game sample size, the zero-pressure environment and the Mike D'Antoni offensive system in which Kendall Marshall's resurrection took place last year, but you can't question the Miami Heat's need for a capable point guard.

    Mario Chalmers completely disappeared on the Heat in their unsuccessful playoff run this past postseason, and Norris Cole hasn't proved to be more than a spot-duty spark plug.

    Marshall, on the other hand, shot 39.9 percent from three last year and averaged 8.8 assists in just 29 minutes per contest. It's possible his return to relevance was a product of the ideal environment he found himself in with the Los Angeles Lakers, and it's tough to get past the way he fizzled out of the league following 48 awful games as a rookie.

    But at No. 27, in an area of need, with more than half-a-season of solid play...why not?

     

    Actual Pick: Arnett Moultrie, PF, Mississippi St.

28. Oklahoma City Thunder: John Jenkins, SG, Vanderbilt

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    Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

    There's no such thing as having too much shooting on a title contender, and John Jenkins would immediately give the Oklahoma City Thunder a valuable floor-spacer to keep defenses from completely collapsing on Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook's driving lanes.

    Throughout the postseason, we saw opponents ignore Thabo Sefolosha and dare Caron Butler to fire away, effectively begging the Thunder role players to beat them from distance. OKC had no luck, got no spacing and eventually cut both Sefolosha and Butler out of major minutes.

    Jenkins is a lights-out shooter who can also make defenses pay for closing out too aggressively. He hit 38.4 percent of his threes as a rookie and at least 40 percent in each of his three seasons at Vanderbilt.

    The big issue with Jenkins is the back injury that limited him to just 13 games last season. But since we're messing with the space-time continuum in this redraft, let's pretend being drafted by the Thunder will create an alternate reality in which he never gets hurt in the first place.

    Deal?

     

    Actual Pick: Perry Jones, SF, Baylor

29. Chicago Bulls: Austin Rivers, PG, Duke

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    Layne Murdoch Jr./Getty Images

    Good news! Austin Rivers, real-life lottery pick, didn't fall entirely out of the first round.

    Unfortunately, he came pretty close, slipping to the Chicago Bulls at No. 29.

    Rivers was positively abysmal as a rookie in 2012-13, playing some of the worst statistical basketball of any rotation player in league history. Though he started to resemble an NBA player during a hot streak in March of 2013, Rivers broke his hand shortly into that mini resurgence and finished the season with a PER of 5.9, per Basketball-Reference.

    He was better as a sophomore, though, upping his free-throw rate and inching his field-goal percentage above 40 percent. He was still something of a ball-stopper, but Rivers showed more of the skills that made him a No. 10 pick.

    The Bulls always (always!) need more creators and penetrators on offense, and whatever Derrick Rose's health status is, Rivers could find minutes as a reserve—if only because he adds a different dimension than the one provided by the plodding, deliberate Kirk Hinrich.

    Nobody's saying Rivers will ever be a replacement-level NBA player, but he got better in his second season, has an NBA pedigree and, somewhere along the line, convinced a lot of people he was worth a lottery pick.

    Those are good enough reasons to take him at the end of the first round.

     

    Actual Pick: Marquis Teague, PG, Kentucky

30. Golden State Warriors: Quincy Acy, PF, Baylor

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    Rocky Widner/Getty Images

    An undersized power forward with a 7'3" wingspan and a motor that never shuts off, Quincy Acy is the final pick of our 2012 redraft.

    Golden State needs frontcourt depth—always has, seemingly. Acy isn't going to wow anybody with his productivity, and he may never develop into an even passable scorer. But every team needs a gritty, ridiculously competitive banger to grab rebounds, dive after loose balls and inspire teammates.

    And since the Dubs won't be getting Draymond Green in this draft, they'll have to settle for Acy as a replacement.

    It may seem like a reach to snag Acy, who didn't go until pick No. 37 in the actual 2012 draft, in the first round. And of the players we've listed to this point, only John Jenkins, Perry Jones and Festus Ezeli logged logged fewer NBA minutes in the first two years of their careers (though Jenkins and Ezeli lost tons of time to injury).

    But Acy somehow managed to amass 2.6 win shares in his two seasons, per Basketball-Reference, a figure that ranks 21st among players in his draft class. So, despite limited playing time, he's been doing something right.

     

    Actual Pick: Festus Ezeli, C, Vanderbilt