The Not Quite As Young Bucks: Catching Up With The 2012 NBA Draft Lottery Picks


In this instant-analysis world we now live in, people cannot help but make declarative statements about athletes immediately, particularly rookies. As we all know, that doesn't make a whole lot of sense in the grand scheme of things, because it can take different players different times to grow into their own.

Some rookies may flourish from the start and then fade as their careers progress. Others my start slowly and then flourish with experience. Still others may be exactly what we see from day one. You never really know until players' careers play out. But that doesn't mean we should ignore tracking the young stars.

With that in mind — and with this year's NBA rookie class underwhelming thus far — Esau Howard and Joe Boland decided to catch everyone up on the 2012 NBA Draft lottery picks, with Esau tackling the odds and the Rev taking on the evens. Enjoy.


1. Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans
It’s lonely at the top, and in the case of the prized pick of the 2012 NBA Draft, Anthony Davis still stands alone. After having a decent rookie season in which he averaged 15.5 points per game to go along with 8.2 rebounds, it’s not a reach to say that his debut season was a bit underwhelming. All things considered, he certainly gave people plenty to be excited for moving forward in his career, but there was definitely room for improvement. Watching the franchise centerpiece of the Pelicans deal with injuries and slowly adjust to the NBA forced people to continue to focus on what he could be, and not what he was at the current time.

Then began season two. Davis started his second year in the NBA as impressive as any could have predicted, with a stat line of 26 points, 17 boards, and 3 blocks against the Orlando Magic. Since that moment he has played as if he made the leap from rookie to seasoned veteran ready to claim his place among the NBA’s current pantheon of elite bigs. Averaging 19.6 points a game complimented by his 10.3 boards a night, and a serious case for his first All-Star appearance has been made. Davis was expected to be a defensive stud, and watching his offensive skill set develop in an effective way has been a thing of beauty. An early injury caused him to miss a couple of weeks, but as long as he is on that court his presence is being felt. —Esau

2. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Charlotte Bobcats
After being selected after only his Kentucky teammate Anthony Davis, Kidd-Gilchrist had essentially the type of rookie season expected of him. He mostly relied on his athleticism and slashing style to get what offense he could and provided some flashes of strong defense, but nothing really stood out about his game.

It's tough to exactly gauge his progress in year two, as Kidd-Gilchrist has played in just 18 games after suffering a broken left hand in early December. The good news is his field goal percentage has improved, but most of his other numbers have actually taken a slight dip. Plus, he's still on the Bobcats, which does him exactly zero favors. —Rev

3. Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards
After having his rookie season ended early due to a leg injury, Bradley Beal returned this season picking up where he left off. For the first month he provided the Washington Wizards with a formidable backcourt alongside point guard John Wall, despite the lack of team success. Beal was giving the franchise a legitimate look as a shooting guard on the rise, until he was forced to sit in November with another injury to his left leg.

While he is averaging 17.3 points a game, Beal hasn’t provided much for the Wizards since returning to the lineup. The unique nature of the injury has kept his minutes closely monitored and does raise red flags all around. Hopefully the second-year guard can bounce back and start playing at the level that he started the season at. If that happens, Beal will continue to be in the mix as one of the rising stars of the Association. —Esau

4. Dion Waiters, Cleveland Cavaliers
Talk about a guy that's hard to peg. Last season, Dion Waiters got a lot of praise as a dynamic bench scorer — albeit an inefficient one. And while his defense left pretty much everything to be desired, Waiters flashed the kind of potential to be at least a valuable scorer in some capacity with his 14.7 points per game.

However, while his numbers are nearly identical in year two, the script has flipped on Waiters, as rumors of a strained relationship with point guard Kyrie Irving are running rampant.

When he's on, Waiters can literally carry the scoring load. When he's not, his poor defense and poorer shot selection can derail the Cavs. Suddenly, the Syracuse product is starting to bear a striking resemblance to J.R. Smith — another wildly talented scoring threat who is inefficient offensively, laughably bad defensively and overall insane. As with J.R., Waiters seems to be the more trouble than he's worth mode, at least on his current team, and that's not a good thing. However, given the way J.R. Smith has turned in some truly epic performances and strong seasons in his rocky career, Waiters has the ability to do the same thing. —Rev

5. Thomas Robinson, Portland Trail Blazers
The transition of Thomas Robinson into the NBA has been a frustrating one to say the least. With only a year under his belt, the former Kansas player is already on his third NBA team and doesn't appear to be any more secure in Portland than he did in Houston or Sacramento.

Clocking in just a little over eight minutes a game on a team that is pretty solid in the starting rotation makes Robinson a prime candidate for the D-League. In fact, it would be the best place for him, until another NBA suitor comes calling. A change of scenery for the second-year player clearly hasn't done anything for him, but without opportunity his talent remains stagnant. Sad to say, but Robinson's best days may now be a thing of his collegiate past. —Esau


6. Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers
Your reigning Rookie of the Year has only gotten better in year two, running the show for one of the NBA's best teams out in Portland. Not only has Lillard upped his scoring to get over the 20 points per game mark, but he's also had a drastic jump in his three-point accuracy while playing his typically solid all-around game.

The truth of the matter is he's already entering the conversation of the game's best point guards — particularly given the rash of injuries to the position this season — or at the very least the best young point guards in the league. He, along with LeMarcus Aldridge, is a prime reason the Blazers have put the Jail Blazers and even Brandon Roy eras in their rearview mirror for good, and he's as big a reason as any that people are really starting to believe in the Blazers are legitimate NBA championship contenders. —Rev

7. Harrison Barnes, Golden State Warriors
In his debut season, Harrison Barnes not only suited up, but he started in 81 games in his rookie season. If nothing else, he's proved to be durable. As a key part of that surprising Warriors team last season, the UNC product was given the opportunity to accelerate his transition into the NBA. Fast-forward one year later and the small forward finds himself in an interesting position. With the acquisition of Andre Iguodala, the Warriors chose to bench Barnes, making him the team's instant sixth man. While a case could be made that Barnes is a better start than Klay Thompson on the wing, so much of what Thompson does is an effect of being on the floor with Stephen Curry.

For Barnes, this proves to be a gift and a curse simply because he has the ability to create his own shot. That asset makes him a much more valuable spark off the bench than it does as a starter, at least on this version of the Warriors. The biggest flaw with Barnes is that while he is good at several things, he isn't necessarily great at any one thing. Barely shooting 70 percent from the line, his offensive production has been inconsistent this season, and at times come off as stagnant. It's hard to say if he is progressing or at a standstill at this point. —Esau

8. Terrence Ross, Toronto Raptors
You know, it would be a lot more fun to write bout Terrence Jones as opposed to Terrence Ross, but Jones was not a lottery pick, even though he was selected in the 2012 NBA Draft. Plus, our editor-in-charge already did that.

This Terrence hasn't been quite as impressive, with a relatively quiet rookie campaign and a slightly less quiet sophomore season to date. But people should start taking notice, as he's somewhat innocuously improved his game as an integral piece to the Atlantic-leading Raptors. He's a good long-range shooter, excellent three-throw shooter and approaching averaging double digits in point. His numbers may not wow you, but Terrence Ross has definitely become a key cog in the relatively surprising start for Toronto. —Rev

9. Andre Drummond, Detroit Pistons
Andre Drummond is good. Like so good, one could look back on this draft five years from now and wonder why he wasn't selected first. The 6'10, 270-pound center is a walking double-double machine and along with several other young centers is breathing life into a position that has been laughably depleted for some time. His athleticism allows him to not only move swift in the paint, but dominate it if he chooses. Averaging 12.7 points and 12.7 boards a game, poor free throw shooting aside, Drummond has nothing but upside. That frontcourt in Detroit is crowded alongside Greg Monroe and Josh Smith, but it's Dre that the Pistons are hoping to build a contender with. —Esau

10. Austin Rivers, New Orleans Pelicans
How can I put this nicely? Austin Rivers is … not good. He's not good at shooting — from anywhere on the floor. He's not good at distributing. He's not good at rebounding. He's not good at defending. And he can't really get much run on that oddly constructed roster down in New Orleans.

However, with Jrue Holiday joining the list of walking dead point guards, perhaps Rivers will finally get a chance to at least attempt to grow on the floor. Or perhaps in a couple years we'll all be wondering what in the hell happened to Doc's kid — you  know, the one who was supposed to be all-everything at Duke? —Rev

Los Angeles Lakers at Dallas Mavericks

11. Meyers Leonard, Portland Trail Blazers
The NBA is fickle proving ground. The right situation for any player could change a career in the blink of an eye. In the case of Meyers Leonard, that may one day be possible. With Portland it remains to be seen. Despite playing in 69 games last season, Leonard has only been featured in 15 this year. To make his situation more complicated, his minutes have ironically enough been given to his fellow draft mate Thomas Robinson. The emergence of Robin Lopez as Portland's rim protector has become a reality, and Leonard is struggling to crack the rotation on a nightly basis. It's possible he can still thrive as a solid bench piece, but for the moment he remains on the far side of the bench limbo. —Esau

12. Jeremy Lamb, Oklahoma City Thunder
Coming out of UConn as a salivating prospect, Lamb did very little as a rookie, struggling to earn time on an Oklahoma City team chasing a title. The Thunder could not afford to live through Lamb's rookie mistakes.

This season, Lamb has been called upon to do a heck of a lot more, particularly with Russell Westbrook suddenly struck again by the injury plague befalling point guards this season. He is carrying a heavier offensive load, now scoring in double figures while shooting well from both the field and beyond, not to mention his near flawless foul shooting. All of his numbers have gone up with more minutes, and he seems to be growing in confidence, as his recent performance against Milwaukee indicated.

The Thunder are hoping he can be the type of compliment to Kevin Durant that the MVP candidate needs, especially with Westbrook out, and a player who can eventually meld with the core of Durant, Serge Ibaka and Westbrook to form a very formidable unit. He still has a ways to go to get there, but Lamb is making strides. —Rev

13. Kendall Marshall, Los Angeles Lakers
In a strange twist of fate, Kendall Marshall went from being a D-League castaway to the starting point guard of one of the NBA's most storied franchises. Even stranger is that despite failing to register any serious minutes with the Phoenix Suns in his rookie season, Marshall has proved to be the lone bright spot in a depleted Lakers backcourt.

The UNC product's scoring may come in doses and his shooting isn't something to marvel at, but his strength as a facilitator has impressed. In fact, his superior passing has made this Lakers team not only bearable to watch, but catapulted Marshall into a position where he could remain the starter should any of the other point guards on the roster return. His court vision is a testament to the high IQ he showed in his final season at UNC. It's hard not to root for the 22-year-old in the underdog role, especially when he's in a position to rewrite his own destiny. Consider Marshall the biggest surprise to emerge from this lottery group. —Esau

14. John Henson, Milwaukee Bucks
The Bucks are dreadful, but John Henson has been a revelation in his second season. After playing just 13 minutes a game as a rook, Henson is putting up very solid numbers for a slender big man, averaging 12.2 points and 7.9 rebounds again, along with 2.3 blocks a night, currently ranking fourth in the NBA in that category. On top of that, he's shooting over 50 percent from the field and looking a lot like the player he was at North Carolina.

Unfortunately, Henson is still too slender to go up with the stronger bigs in the league. He has to get stronger to fully realize his potential, but he's certainly taken some steps forward in year two. —Rev

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *