It typically takes a few years before you can truly rank an NBA Draft. But, this being the fourth season after June 18th, 2012, it’s safe to say that the 2012 NBA Draft will be talked about for years to come. Stacked from top to bottom, the amount of talent in this pool that is already making a substantial NBA impact is ridiculous.
Just for perspective, here’s a quick list of some of the best players taken in this draft:
* = Undrafted
Listed here are 18 good NBA players. These individuals will have job security in the league for years to come while a number of them are max-salary players. This is a ton of value compared to a typical NBA draft, and there’s 5 or 6 on this list that will be consistent all stars for the foreseeable future.
Anthony Davis – ‘The brow’ is an extremely unique talent. With an instant impact in the NBA, Davis is currently averaging over 24 points 10 rebounds and 2 blocks a game in what many people have considered a bad year. People knew Davis would be great, but I didn’t think he could have such immediate success. By his second season, Davis was already averaging 20.8 points at 51.9 percent with 10 rebounds and 2.8 blocks, good for fourth in NBA player efficiency.
To truly understand this, it took Kobe Bryant four years before he averaged 20 points in a season and Davis isn’t even a labeled “scorer” like Kobe. At just 23-years-old, Davis is an MVP level talent and will continue to get better and better.
Damian Lillard – Like Anthony Davis, Damian Lillard jumped instantly to NBA Stardom. An up and coming player in a small Portland market, Lillard has made a big imprint in the league. Not only winning rookie of the year and making two all star games in his first four years, Lillard has marketed himself extremely well and is featured heavily in both Adidas and State Farm commercials.
On the stat sheet Lillard is equally impressive. A terrific scorer and perimeter shooter, Lillard has averaged over 20 points and five assists in the past three seasons after a 19 point, 6.5 assist rookie year. This season, with the departure of all-star LaMarcus Aldridge, Lillard has upped his points per game total to 25.7 per game, fifth in the NBA. There’s no questioning Damian’s talent and he will be one of the best point guards in the game for the next decade
Bradley Beal – A terrific shooter, Beal isn’t on the level as Davis or Lillard, but is certainly a noteworthy player. Hobbled by injuries this season, Beal has still managed to average over 17 points a game for a Wizards team that has drastically underachieved this season.
However, a year ago, Washington was a Game 7 victory away from the Eastern-Conference finals with tremendous potential for the future. That potential is still there, Beal is already a borderline all-star who will consistently shoot 40 percent from three and put upwards of 20 points on every night.
Draymond Green – I wasn’t a fan of Draymond Green in college, but I can’t deny that as the 35th pick in the draft, he is was a complete steal.
Draymond has somewhat revolutionized the way people view basketball, in specific, the power-forward and center position. Labeled as undersized when he entered the league, Green does it all for the Warriors; he rebounds, shoots threes, makes plays, locks up on D, and provides them their energy. Consistently with the ball in his hands, Draymond led the NBA with triple doubles and has the rare ability to effect the game even when he doesn’t score, by averaging 9.6 rebounds, 7.4 assists, 1.3 blocks and 1.4 steals. He’s a nightmare to defend, guard, and figure out because of his size, athletic ability, and ball handling skills.
It took Green a few seasons to get ample court time in Golden State, but when David Lee went down with an injury to start the 2014-15 season, Green wasted no time stealing Lee’s starting spot and running him out of town. A year later, Draymond now, is unquestionably an all-star and max player who the Warriors will do anything to keep around.
Andre Drummond – Drummond has been known as a quality big since being drafted by Detroit. But this offseason when Detroit decided to ship out fellow teammate, Greg Monroe, Andre was seen as the Pistons future. Coach Stan Van Gundy has done an excellent job at allowing him to adapt and take the reigns for Detroit’s front-court. And Drummond has repaid him with excellent, dynamic play, both offensively and defensively.
His post moves have excelled, his rebounding ability is good, and his defense, while lacking at times, has gotten much better. Posting up 16.5 points, just under 15 rebounds, and a player efficiency rating of 21.5, Drummond was named an All-Star and has an upward trajectory for years to come.
Harrison Barnes & Jae Crowder – These two are a tier below the others mentioned, but still deserve a blurb. Crowder has flourished in Boston after some ups and downs in his first few seasons with Dallas. Crowder averaged close to 14.4 points at 45 percent shooting, with five rebounds and nearly two steals in 30 minutes a game. A physical 6’6” wing, he’s also an elite defender and has great versatility to keep him on the floor, nothing to complain about from the 34th pick.
Crowder has been Boston’s unsung hero this season, making this team even more dangerous for the future. His ability to defend, while also not wanting the ball on the offensive end, helps his team win and that’s extremely rare.
Barnes is another big, athletic wing. His production has steadily increased since his rookie season and this he’s currently averaging 11 points a game at 46 percent from the field with nearly five rebounds. Sometimes an afterthought on a great team, Barnes is a free agent this offseason and is going to get a serious pay day. Versatile wings players are a hot commodity in the NBA right now, where both Crowder and Barnes fit this mold.
The 2012 NBA draft will be one we remember for a long time. There were a lot of sleepers and players who came in to make an immediate impact on playoff, championship contending teams. With the likes of Lillard, Davis, Green, Middleton, Fournier, Drummond, and many more, the draft was one of the best in the last decade and may be overlooked in many ways.
At the top, teams made mistakes, like Thomas Robinson in Sacramento or Dion Waiters to Cleveland, but to look at a draft producing four, five, six, and potentially more All-Stars, is pretty remarkable.