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NBA draft: Pick-by-pick analysis

Marques Johnson discusses the draft winners and losers.
Marques Johnson discusses the draft winners and losers.
NBADraft.net
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Here's what we think of each pick.

NBADRAFT.NET

For more analysis of all the picks and trades, check out NBADraft.net.

1. Cleveland CavaliersKyrie Irving, PG, Duke: I'll go on record right here saying I don't like this pick. Irving is probably going to be a good point guard, but you don't draft somebody No. 1 because they'll be good. You draft them to seriously alter the franchise's fortunes, and Irving doesn't do that. You're taking somebody with conditioning issues and letting him learn from Baron Davis, not exactly ideal. Irving lacks elite athleticism or elite shooting, and who's he going to pass to on that roster? I don't want to bash him too much, because he's a quality player -- I'm just not sold on him going No. 1 overall. Derrick Williams should have been the pick here. -Eric Yearian

2. Minnesota TimberwolvesDerrick Williams, SF/PF, Arizona: The Timberwolves spent most of the day sending out strong signals that they were strongly considering Enes Kanter with this No. 2 pick, but GM David Kahn continued his strategy of "asset collection" by taking Derrick Williams. Williams is arguably the most talented player in this draft, as his inside-outside game will prove to be a match-up nightmare. However, with Michael Beasley and Anthony Randolph already on the roster (not to mention Kevin Love), don't be surprised to see a trade. Williams is efficient, explosive, and gifted. He's one of the few prospects in this draft with All-Star potential. -Nick Prevenas

3. Utah JazzEnes Kanter, C/PF, Turkey/Kentucky: The only player in the draft that makes Kyrie Irving look experienced, Kanter is certainly a gamble. But in a weak draft like this one, his talent is just far too much to ignore. Kanter broke the Hoop Summit record for points with 34 and has a high skill level for a young post player. His combination of size and skills doesn't come along too often. The Jazz took the best player available and now have a cornerstone to build on in the post-Sloan era. -Seth Sommerfeld

4. Cleveland Cavaliers — Tristan Thompson, F, Texas: The Cavs wanted a big man to pair with Irving, and they passed up on Litunanian Jonas Valanciunas who they were said to like, for somebody they knew they could count on to step in and play right away. Thompson is a quality defender and looks to fit well alongside J.J. Hickson. They did pick up a quality forward with good size who can bang with anyone in the league. If he develops an offensive game he could be a good catch. A bit of a reach, but pretty good pick. -Eric Yearian.

5. Toronto RaptorsJonas Valanciunas, C, Lithuania: Bryan Colangelo loves to go international in the draft, so it should surprise nobody that Valanciunas is heading to Toronto – just maybe not right away, given his contract issues and the impending lockout. Valanciunas' complicated buyout situation will likely delay his debut, but when he does suit up for Toronto, he'll give the Raptors some much-needed size and rebounding. New coach Dwane Casey preaches defense, and Valanciunas shows the instincts and aptitude to develop into a solid starting center. He needs to get stronger and refine his post skills, but he fills a serious need for Toronto. -Nick Prevenas

6. Washington WizardsJan Vesely, SF/PF, Czech Republic: Vesely isn't your typical European; he's super athletic with incredible length and has good toughness. Wizards fans should be thrilled thinking of John Wall and Vesely running the fast break for years to come. Maurice Evans and Larry Owens played over 33 minutes per game for the Wiz last year... so yeah, Vesely fills a need. -Seth Sommerfeld

7. Milwaukee Bucks (trading to Charlotte)— Bismack Biyombo, F, Congo: Sacramento traded back to No. 10, and with Brandon Knight still on the board, they've got to be kicking themselves. The Bobcats, on the other hand, are glad to scoop up the draft's best defensive player in Biyombo. He has incredible length and his ability to alter and block shots will be welcomed on a roster short on true big men. This is a very good pick as it allows the Bobcats to shore up a frontline that depended heavily on Kwame Brown last season. They're in rebuilding mode and Biyombo is a good building block in the mold of Ben Wallace. -Eric Yearian

8. Detroit PistonsBrandon Knight, G, Kentucky: The Pistons hoped to grab a rebounder/defender with this pick, but with Thompson and Biyombo flying off the board, Detroit actually catches a big break as Knight falls into their laps at No. 8. Knight was listed as high as No. 3 in many mock drafts. Knight should remind many Detroit fans of Chauncey Billups, with his combination of height (6-foot-3) and shooting ability. He'll form a solid backcourt duo with Rodney Stuckey. Knight is a high-character kid with a tremendous basketball IQ. He could also develop into a terrific on-ball defender as he gains strength. - Nick Prevenas

9. Charlotte Bobcats —  Kemba Walker, G, UConn: Michael Jordan is beginning to become a little predictable as he continues his love affair with established NCAA champions. Walker should be able to step into the Bobcats' lineup and give them some much needed guard scoring from Day One. While he'll probably never be an All-Star guard, at worst he should be a poor man's Ben Gordon. -Seth Sommerfeld

10. Milwaukee Bucks (trading to Sacramento) — Jimmer Fredette, G, BYU: This is what happens when ownership cares more about selling tickets in the short term than winning games. The Kings move back and end up with the most polarizing figure in this year's draft. Jimmer can score from anywhere, but can he defend, and can he defer to Tyreke Evans when he needs to? The Kings need to hope the doubters are wrong. But teaming Jimmer with Tyreke and Cousins doesn't appear to be a match made in heaven. -Eric Yearian

11. Golden State WarriorsKlay Thompson, SG, Washington State: With the Warriors essentially listing Monta Ellis on Craigslist, they've made no secret about their desire to land a taller, more traditional shooting guard to play next to Stephen Curry. Enter Thompson – the pick Jerry West tipped off a couple weeks ago. The Washington State product is among the best shooters in this draft, and will help space the floor alongside Curry and Dorell Wright. He should give the Warriors roughly the same things Kevin Martin gives the Houston Rockets. Nice pick. -Nick Prevenas

12. Utah Jazz — Alec Burks, G, Colorado: The Jazz complete their inside-outside lottery combo pairing Burks with Kanter. Burks lacks a specific standout skill, but contributes in all areas due to his athleticism and length. A big concern is that while he's a scorer, he's not a shooter (a scarry 29.2% from 3-point range last season). Expect Burks to contribute, but don't be suprised if he's not a starter for years.

13. Phoenix SunsMarkieff Morris, PF, Kansas: In the end the bigger, stronger, more athletic, but less skilled Morris twin goes first to the Suns. With Kawhi Leonard and brother Marcus still on the board, the Suns reach to bolster their frontcourt. Phoenix ultimately gravitates to the lousier Morris Twin, and Robert Sarver prefers the films of Frank Stallone. -Aran Smith

14. Houston Rockets — Marcus Morris, F, Kansas: The Rockets, apparently fans of symmetry, make sure the Morris twins keep their names together on the draft sheet. Daryl Morey loves players like Marcus Morris – an efficient scorer who can score with his back to the basket, as well as with a terrific fallaway jumper that is impossible to block. He thinks he's a small forward, but he'll be much more successful as a power forward. Think of him as a poor man's Derrick Williams. He'll join a crowded frontcourt, with Luis Scola, Patrick Patterson, and Jordan Hill. -Nick Prevenas

15. Indiana PacersKawhi Leonard, F, San Diego State: Kawhi Leonard was dealt to San Antonio for George Hill. Leonard is a Spurs type of player that should fit Gregg Popovich's system like a glove. He's got a killer motor and can do just about everything on the floor. Adding a young, tough lottery talent is huge for this team and Leonard can immediately step in and make an impact at small forward. -Seth Sommerfeld

16. Philadelphia 76ersNikola Vucevic, F, USC: The 76ers need size, so why not take one of the biggest guys in the draft? Vucevic wasn't a hot prospect heading into last season, but posted tremendous measurements at the combine (6-11.75 in shoes) and showed deft touch around the hoop during workouts. Vucevic is tremendously skilled. He can score with either hand and shoot it out to 20 feet. He's not very fast or athletic (much like current Sixers Spencer Hawes and Marreese Speights), but he can score and rebound. -Nick Prevenas

17. New York KnicksIman Shumpert, G, Georgia Tech: The Knicks need defense and Shumpert provides that. He's the best defensive point guard in this draft thanks to his tremendous length. The question is whether he'll ever develop any offensive skills. If he does this could be a steal, but that's a massive 'if.' Not surprisingly, Knicks fans at the draft booed. They may be right about this one, it seems like a reach. -Seth Sommerfeld

18. Washington Wizards — Chris Singleton, F, Florida State: The Wizards were among the worst defensive teams in the league last season. Singleton should help fix that right away. Singleton was the last man standing in the green room, meaning he was a huge steal at this point in the draft. At 6-9, he can defend anyone from shooting guards to power forwards. He's not a very good shooter, and will never be the type of player who creates his own offense, but he can defend with the best of them. Think Luc Richard Mbah a Moute. He'll bring much-needed toughness to the Wizards and complement Jan Vesely nicely. -Nick Prevenas

19. Charlotte Bobcats (trading to Milwaukee)— Tobias Harris, F, Tenn.: Harris is the youngest American player and should give the Bucks a versatile yin to Mbah a Moute's yang as a player with offensive potential. At 19, Harris isn't a terrible pick, but the Bucks likely have a long wait before he'll be ready to produce. -Aran Smith

20. Minnesota Timberwolves — Donatus Motiejunas, F, Lithuania: The Timberwolves drafted a stretch forward at No. 2 overall, so logically, they draft a stretch power forward in Montiejunas. Thankfully, David Kahn sends him to Houston with Jonny Flynn for Houston's No. 23 pick and Brad Miller. Montiejunas has lottery-level talent on offense thanks to his pure shooting stroke, height (7 feet) and ball-handling ability. However, Montiejunas is allergic to rebounding and every scouting report on the kid includes the word "apathetic" in bold type. -Nick Prevenas

21. Portland Trail BlazersNolan Smith, G, Duke: Picks don't get less exciting than Nolan Smith. Congrats Portland, you just drafted a potential backup guard. You know, if he reaches his ceiling. For a team that seriously lacks frontcourt depth this pick makes no sense. I guess that's what happens when you fire your GM a month before the draft. -Seth Sommerfeld

22. Denver NuggetsKenneth Faried, F, Morehead State: The Nuggets and Trailblazers are in the midst of trying to swap Ray Felton and Andre Miller. Faried has the highest-revving motor in this year's draft. He's one of the most tenacious rebounders in college basketball (more rebounds than anyone who has ever played college hoops), and he plays with maximum effort every second he's on the floor. He won't score much, and he's a little undersized for a power forward at 6-8, but there is always a spot for a guy with Faried's rebounding instincts. -Nick Prevenas

23. Houston Rockets — Nikola Mirotic, F, Montenegro: Pick acquired by Chicago. Mirotic is the prototypical guy to stash overseas. He's already a dead-eye shooter and can work on rounding out his skill set and getting a more NBA-ready body over the next few seasons. While it would be nice for the Bulls to add another piece to get further in the playoffs, this is a very good big-picture move. It's not like Derrick Rose won't be around when Mirotic is ready to start draining shots. -Seth Sommerfeld

24. Oklahoma City ThunderReggie Jackson, PG/SG, Boston College: Just as we reported a few weeks ago, the Thunder had a promise in place for Jackson. The Boston College guard is one of the draft's most explosive perimeter players, and elected to shut down workouts after OKC promised to take him early on. He'll provide a nice scoring punch off the bench behind Russell Westbrook, and may prove to be Eric Maynor insurance, should Maynor be moved or depart after his rookie contract expires. -Nick Prevenas

25. Boston Celtics (trading to New Jersey) — Marshon Brooks, G, Providence: Due to his amazing ability to put the ball through the hoop, Brooks has outstanding upside. Unfortunately, the rest of his game is suspect. His defense is downright awful. If the Nets are able to properly develop him (or at least figure out a team D to compensate for him), this could be a major steal. Considering Anthony Morrow and Sasha Vujacic are the Nets’ shooting guards, it’s hard to argue with the pick. -Seth Sommerfield

POLL

  • Who will be the 2012 NBA rookie of the year?
    • Kyrie Irving (Cavs)
    • Derrick Williams (Wolves)
    • Enes Kanter (Jazz)
    • Kemba Walker (Bobcats)
    • Jimmer Fredette (Kings)
    • Someone else

26. Dallas MavericksJordan Hamilton, F, Texas: The world champion Mavericks selected the versatile Hamilton, but reports indicate they will be sending him to Portland for Rudy Fernandez. Hamilton heads to the Nuggets as part of this deal. He can score in a multitude of ways, and is much too talented to fall this far. The big knock on Hamilton is his shot selection, but he seems to be improving on that. He's also a strong rebounder and capable defender. At 6-8, he'll give the Nuggets a much-needed scoring threat on the wing. Denver used to have a pretty strong wing scorer, but his name escapes me right now. -Nick Prevenas

27. New Jersey Nets (trading to Boston) — JuJuan Johnson, F, Purdue: Johnson seems like the anti-Glen Davis. He’s got length and athleticism, but needs to improve his basketball IQ and put on some bulk if he's going to stick in the league. He certainly will inject energy into the aging Celtics, it's just a question of whether he will be consistent enough to stay on the court. -Seth Sommerfeld

28. Chicago BullsNorris Cole, G, Cleveland State: This No. 28 pick has switched hands from Chicago to Minnesota to Miami, enabling the Heat to land Cole. This is a logical fit for Miami, which is in serious need of depth at the guard spots. Cole filled the stat sheet like few others, but he was a one-man show at Cleveland State. He is an exceptional rebounder for his size, and possesses terrific quickness and straight-line speed. Think of him as a poor man's Rajon Rondo. He'll need to prepare for constant scrutiny, as there is a little bit more media coverage of the Miami Heat than Cleveland State. -Nick Prevenas

29. San Antonio SpursCory Joseph, G, Texas: With the Spurs trading George Hill to Indiana, Joseph has a chance to come in and immediately make an impact. With any other team this would be considered a reach, but the San Antonio system will help Joseph immensely. His speed and ability to penetrate suit the Gregg Popovich system. It may take him a few years to develop, but this is a very good fit all things considered. -Seth Sommerfeld

30. Chicago Bulls — Jimmy Butler, F, Marquette: And the last guaranteed first-round contract in the current collective bargaining agreement goes to... Jimmy Butler from Marquette! Now this is a feel-good story. Butler's story has been told many times by now (his mom kicked him out at age 13 and he bounced around until finding a family to live with), and now he gets his happy ending with the Bulls. Butler can do a little bit of everything. He's a smooth and versatile combo forward who will work his butt off and do whatever the coaches say. He'll fit right in. -Nick Prevenas

Second-round picks and analysis >>

Tagged: Celtics, Bulls, Cavaliers, Mavericks, Nuggets, Pistons, Warriors, Rockets, Pacers, Heat, Bucks, Timberwolves, Nets, Knicks, 76ers, Suns, Trail Blazers, Kings, Spurs, Thunder, Jazz, Wizards, Raptors, Baron Davis, Ben Wallace, Bobcats, Ben Gordon, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Derrick Rose, Kevin Love, George Hill, Eric Maynor, Jordan Hill, John Wall

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