The 2012 NBA Draft class has produced some really good players over the past four years. Of course there are always going to be some busts associated with any draft, but this draft produced more than one franchise player to build a team around. The first pick in the draft was Anthony Davis going to the New Orleans Pelicans, and the second pick was his Kentucky teammate Michael Kidd-Gilchrist going to the Charlotte Bobcats.
Other notable players in this draft class included Bradley Beal, Damian Lillard, Harrison Barnes, Draymond Green and Andre Drummond. If NBA GMs could go back in time they likely would have done things a bit differently which could have changed the course for their franchises for several seasons to come.
30 New Orleans Pelicans – Anthony Davis (Kentucky)
Original Pick: Anthony Davis (Kentucky)
If the New Orleans Pelicans (at the time they were the Hornets) could have another shot at the #1 pick of the 2012 NBA Draft, chances are they would still take big man Anthony Davis to build their team around. Even though the team hasn’t had much success since drafting Davis, many NBA GMs have said they would want to start a new franchise around him. He made the All-Rookie First Team and has made the All-Star game three times and led the league in blocks twice. The Pelicans could have gone with Damian Lillard if they wanted to build around a guard, but it seems like they made the right choice. The problem has been the pieces around Davis and not the Unibrow himself.
29 Charlotte Bobcats – Damian Lillard (Weber St.)
Original Pick: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (Kentucky)
Instead of the Washington Wizards drafting Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, if they could do it all over again they would likely select Damian Lillard, who was taken at #6 by the Portland Trail Blazers. Lillard shared the team with LaMarcus Aldridge until he signed with the San Antonio Spurs, making him the guy in Portland. Even though the Blazers haven’t done too much, Lillard is a solid point guard who has been a two time All-Star and averaged more than 21 points a game. He has certainly been a better player than Kidd-Gilchrist and would be a much better building block for the Bobcats under Michael Jordan. By comparison, Kidd-Gilchrist has only averaged 9.1 PPG during his time in the league and hasn’t earned any achievements.
28 Washington Wizards – Draymond Green (Michigan St.)
Original Pick: Bradley Beal (Florida)
If the Washington Wizards knew that superstar point guard John Wall would butt heads with their original pick Bradley Beal, they probably would have drafted Draymond Green, who was taken at #35 by the Golden State Warriors. Both players have stayed with the clubs that drafted them, but Green has been much more successful. Even though he is now arguably the fourth best player on his team, Green would have become a guy to build around in Washington paired with Wall. It would be interesting to see how he would fare as part of two franchise players rather than three other superstar teammates. Green averaged career highs in points, rebounds, and assists per game in 2015-2016 at 14.0, 9.5, and 7.4. If he was drafted by the Wizards he might be averaging a triple double.
27 Cleveland Cavaliers – Andre Drummond (Connecticut)
Original Pick: Dion Waiters (Syracuse)
If the Cleveland Cavaliers knew that LeBron would come back in 2014 and help them win their first NBA championship, they may have done things differently. Rather than drafting Dion Waiters in 2012, the Cavs could have had big man Andre Drummond to pair with Kyrie Irving and the “Big 3” would have featured Drummond instead of Kevin Love. That also means they wouldn’t have had to trade Andrew Wiggins, assuming they were still the worst team in the league which they probably wouldn’t have been with Drummond and Irving. Drummond was the NBA’s rebounding leader and an All-Star in 2016 and would provide the big man the Cavs need. Waiters left Cleveland in 2015 and has played for the Thunder and Heat but has not done much of note.
26 Sacramento Kings – Bradley Beal (Florida)
Original Pick: Thomas Robinson (Kansas)
With Washington passing on Beal to go with Lillard, he would have become available for the Kings to take at #5 instead of Thomas Robinson. Robinson has been a bust and is now playing for the Lakers who are his sixth team since being drafted in 2012. The Kings could have had Beal to pair up with DeMarcus Cousins. Assuming the two players could get along, Cousins and Beal could have been a nice combo and certainly would have helped the Kings who have been one of the worst teams in the league in recent years. Beal’s pairing with John Wall in Washington has been alright but the two don’t like each other and haven’t achieved much success together. Beal would have been off in Sac town with D-Cuz.
25 Portland Trail Blazers – Harrison Barnes (North Carolina)
Original Pick: Damian Lillard (Weber St.)
The Blazers got a steal in the 2012 NBA Draft being able to select Damian Lillard at #6. If the draft was re-done, Lillard would be long gone meaning the best available player for Portland would be Harrison Barnes, who was originally drafted at #7 by Golden State. Barnes was more of a role player in Golden State, but was a key part of the team who won the NBA Championship in 2015. Barnes was named to the NBA All-Rookie First Team and has a lot of talent, averaging 10 points and almost 5 rebounds per game. He joined the Mavericks in 2016 perhaps hoping to take a bigger role which he would have received in Portland, first teaming with LaMarcus Aldridge and then taking over the role as the team leader.
24 Golden State Warriors – Terrence Ross (Washington)
Original Pick: Harrison Barnes (North Carolina)
With Barnes going to Portland a pick earlier, the Warriors would have had to change their strategy and they would have been best off to draft Terrence Ross, who went to Toronto at #8. Ross hasn’t been a star but he did start a lot of games for the Raptors in the 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons, averaging about 10 points a game. He likely would have taken on the role that Harrison Barnes did for the Warriors, and would have won an NBA Championship in 2016 instead of only reaching the Eastern Conference Finals. Ross has a lot of potential and was the first player in the history of the league to score at least 50 points in a game while his average was less than 10 points per game.
23 Toronto Raptors – Austin Rivers (Duke)
Original Pick: Terrence Ross (Washington)
With Terrence Ross off the board, the Toronto Raptors would have been best served by drafting Austin Rivers, who went to New Orleans at #10. The son of Doc Rivers now plays for his father on the Los Angeles Clippers where he is a solid backup to Chris Paul at point guard. Rivers could have joined DeMar Derozan and Kyle Lowry in Toronto. He may have backed up Lowry or moved to the two guard position as a starter. He probably would not have helped the Raptors get past Cleveland in the Eastern Conference Finals in 2016, but he would have been a nice fit up north. Rivers played with Anthony Davis in New Orleans but was unable to get anything going while he was there.
22 Detroit Pistons – Festus Ezeli (Vanderbilt)
Original Pick: Andre Drummond (Connecticut)
With Andre Drummond off the board, the Detroit Pistons may have gone with big man Festus Ezeli, who was drafted #30 by the Golden State Warriors instead. While Drummond is the better player, Detroit could have still had a center to build around. Ezeli has started about 60 games during three seasons with the Warriors and has mostly been a role-player. He was able to win an NBA Championship with Golden State in 2016 which he would not have won in Detroit, but he may have helped the team in other ways. Ezeli was born in Nigeria and played his college basketball at Vanderbilt where he was a second-team All-SEC selection. With Drummond the Pistons would have had to find another franchise player because Ezeli would not have likely filled that role.
21 New Orleans Hornets – Terrence Jones (Kentucky)
Original Pick: Austin Rivers (Duke)
The Hornets originally took Austin Rivers with the 10th pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. Under these circumstances he would not have been available so they could have selected Terrence Jones who went #18 to Houston. Jones played for the Rockets until 2016 when he joined the New Orleans Pelicans. He was a starter during the 2013-14 season and averaged about 12 points and 7 rebounds per game. Jones could have been a nice complement to Anthony Davis and may have been more successful than he was with Dwight Howard as his center. Jones had a great high school and college career as an All-American at Jefferson High School and SEC Rookie of the Year, First-team All-SEC, and even an NCAA Championship at Kentucky.
20 Portland Trail Blazers – Evan Fournier (Poitiers Basket – France)
Original Pick: Meyers Leonard (Illinois)
The Blazers originally picked Meyers Leonard in this spot as it was their second pick in the draft after going with Damian Lillard. In this re-draft they would have selected Harrison Barnes and could have paired him up with Evan Fournier, who was taken 20th by Denver. Fournier played professionally in his home country of France and was named French league Most Improved Player two years in a row (which doesn’t make a lot of sense). He played for the Nuggets until 2014 when he joined the Orlando Magic. Fournier has played on the Spanish national team winning several bronze medals. As a full time starter in 2015-16 he averaged a career high 15.4 points per game. The Magic like him enough to have given him a five year deal worth $85 million.
19 Houston Rockets – Jae Crowder (Marquette)
Original Pick: Jeremy Lamb (Connecticut)
The Rockets opted to go with Jeremy Lamb in 2012 who has been a bench player for the Thunder and Hornets. He was sent to Oklahoma City in the deal that brought James Harden to the Rockets, so if Crowder was in that spot who knows if he would have played for Houston or OKC. It turns out that Crowder was picked #34 by the Cleveland Cavaliers, and traded to Dallas on draft night. It starts to get pretty confusing where all these guys could have ended up, but Crowder had his best season in 2015-16 as a starter averaging 14 points and 5 rebounds per game. He would have made a nice option for James Harden in Houston or Russell Westbrook in Oklahoma City.
18 Phoenix Suns – Kent Bazemore (Old Dominion)
Original Pick: Kendall Marshall (North Carolina)
The Suns drafted Kendall Marshall who turned out to be a big bust, being waived by the Utah Jazz in the summer on 2016 after playing with the Suns, Lakers, Bucks, and 76ers. Bazemore went undrafted, but the Suns might have been a nice fit for the shooting guard and small forward who played with Golden State from 2012 to 2014, the Lakers in 2014, and the Hawks ever since. Bazemore became a starter in the 2015-16 season and averaged almost 12 points and 5 rebounds per game. Off the court he reportedly played a big role in helping Under Armour sign Stephen Curry away from Nike in 2013. In college he also won the Lefty Driesell Award for best defensive player while at Old Dominion.
17 Milwaukee Bucks – Meyers Leonard (Illinois)
Original Pick: John Henson (North Carolina)
Leonard was originally drafted at #11 by the Trail Blazers but if the draft were to happen again he would go #14 to Milwaukee, who took John Henson who has been a bench player for the team ever since 2012. Meyers Leonard has played for the Blazers since coming into the league and the big man has mostly been a role-player although he did start 7 games in 2014-15 and 10 in 2015-16. During that season he averaged a career high 8.4 points per game along with 5 rebounds. Leonard had surgery on his left shoulder in early 2016 and later signed a four year deal with Portland worth $41 million. He might have seen more playing time in Milwaukee and been a better fit for that ball club.
16 Philadelphia 76ers – Jeremy Lamb (Connecticut)
Original Pick: Maurice Harkless (St. John’s)
Before the 76ers started stockpiling top lottery picks they had the 15th selection in the 2012 NBA Draft and went with Maurice Harkless who was traded to Orlando in the deal that brought Dwight Howard to the Lakers, so who knows what may have happened if they picked Lamb instead. Lamb was drafted #12 by Houston in the draft originally. He was actually traded to the Thunder in the James Harden deal so again who knows where everyone would have ended up. Lamb played for the Thunder until 2015 when he joined the Charlotte Hornets. He has been a role-player who averaged a career high 8.8 points per game and 3.8 rebounds per game in 2015-16. If given a chance to shine in Philadelphia things may have turned out a little better for the shooting guard.
15 Houston Rockets – Tyler Zeller (North Carolina)
Original Pick: John Henson (North Carolina)
Tyler Zeller actually went with the next pick in the draft to the Dallas Mavericks and then was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Houston Rockets got this pick from the New York Knicks and would have been better off using it on the center Zeller who was named to the NBA All-Rookie Second Team in 2013. He joined the Boston Celtics in 2014 in a three team trade also involving the Brooklyn Nets. Zeller started 55 games for the Cavs his rookie season and another 59 in 2014-15 before becoming a bench player in 2015. During that season he averaged career highs for points at 10.2 PPG, rebounds at 5.7 RPG, and assists at 1.4 APG. Zeller was an Indiana Mr. Basketball and the ACC Player of the Year.
14 Dallas Mavericks – Maurice Harkless (St. John’s)
Original Pick: Tyler Zeller (North Carolina)
With Zeller going at 16, the Dallas Mavericks’ best choice would have been small forward Maurice Harkless who was doomed to obscurity being picked by the Philadelphia 76ers. Luckily for Harkless (although it wasn’t that much better) he was traded to the Orlando Magic in a multi-team deal that saw Dwight Howard going to the Lakers and Andrew Bynum joining the Sixers. Maurice started about 60 games his rookie season and then started half in 2013-14 where he averaged nearly 8 points a game and almost 4 rebounds. He was traded to the Portland Trail Blazers in 2015 and started 14 games, with his numbers almost mirroring his career totals at 6.7 PPG and 3.5 RPG. Harkless played at St. John’s where he was Big East Rookie of the Year.
13 Houston Rockets - John Henson (North Carolina)
Original Pick: Terrence Jones (Kentucky)
The Rockets got a nice pick here originally with Terrence Jones, but in this re-draft he is already off the board which means they should have gone with John Henson who actually went #14 back in 2012 to the Milwaukee Bucks. Henson had a lot of success being before being drafted and was a McDonald’s All-American and First-team Parade All-American in high school. He played for North Carolina in college and was a First-team All-ACC selection in 2012 and a two time ACC Defensive Player of the Year. The Rockets would have surely welcomed his defensive prowess. The power forward / center has averaged nearly 8 points per game and 2 blocks a game during his NBA career. He has stayed in Milwaukee where he has only seen spot duty.
12 Orlando Magic – Jared Sullinger (Ohio St.)
Original Pick: Andrew Nicholson (St. Bonaventure)
Big man Jared Sullinger was originally drafted #21 by the Boston Celtics and he has paid dividends, getting better as time goes on. Sullinger earned high honors in high school as the Naismith Prep Player of the Year and McDonald’s All-American Game Co-MVP. At Ohio State he was a two time Consensus first-team All-American among other accomplishments. Sullinger may have been the next in succession to Shaq and Dwight Howard as great big men in Orlando. Starting 44 and 49 games in the 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons, he averaged 13.3 PPG and starting nearly the whole season in 2015-16 he averaged 10.3 PPG and 8.3 RPG. Trying to capitalize on his success, he signed a one year deal worth $6 million with Toronto in 2016 but injured his foot in the preseason, requiring surgery and a two to three month absence.
11 Denver Nuggets – Miles Plumlee (Duke)
Original Pick: Evan Fournier (Poitiers Basket – France)
With Fournier off the board, the Denver Nuggets could have selected Miles Plumlee, who was originally drafted #26 by the Indiana Pacers. Plumlee won an NCAA Championship at Duke in 2010 with his brother Mason Plumlee (they are not twins). “Plum-dog” was only with Indiana for one season and was demoted to the D-League’s Fort Wayne Mad Ants. He played for the Phoenix Suns from 2013 to 2015 where he career highs in 2013-14 starting nearly every game and averaging 8 points and 8 rebounds a game. Plumlee was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks in a three-team deal in 2015 and re-upped in 2016 with a four year deal worth $52 million. He may have been a good fit in Denver and had more opportunity to start like he did in Phoenix.
10 Boston Celtics – Andrew Nicholson (St. Bonaventure)
Original Pick: Jared Sullinger (Ohio St.)
For the first of their back to back picks at #21, the Celtics took Sullinger who is already off the board. They would have been smart to go with power forward Andrew Nicholson who originally went to the Magic at #19. Nicholson earned all types of accolades at St. Bonaventure including Atlantic 10 Player of the Year, Atlantic 10 Tournament MVP, and two time First-team All-Atlantic 10. He was a bench player with the Magic for the most part, averaging 6.5 points a game and 3.2 rebounds over his four seasons there. In 2016 he signed with the Washington Wizards as a free agent for $26 million for four years where he can complement players like John Wall, Bradley Beal, and Marcin Gortat, hoping to make the playoffs.
9 Boston Celtics - Tomáš Satoranský (Banca Civia Sevilla – Spain)
Original Pick: Fab Melo (Syracuse)
The Celtics originally took Fab Melo, who was a bust and only played in the league for one season. This pick came from the L.A. Clippers by way of the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Czech guard would have been a much better selection and fell to #32, being drafted by the Wizards originally. Satoransky put up good numbers with Barcelona, averaging 11.4 points per game along with 3.8 assists per game. He finally signed with the Wizards in 2016 so it remains to be seen how his game will translate to the NBA. The Celtics could have been patient as well, adding him to their team of young stars vying for an Eastern Conference championship. In 2015 he won the Spanish Supercup playing for Barcelona.
8 Atlanta Hawks – Khris Middleton (Texas A&M)
Original Pick: John Jenkins (Vanderbilt)
Khris Middleton was originally drafted by the Detroit Pistons at #39 and only played there for one season before being traded to the Milwaukee Bucks. The combination shooting guard and small forward played at Texas A&M where he was Second-team All-Big 12 in 2011. Middleton became a starter in Milwaukee and posted more than 12 points per game his first season. His numbers went up for the 2014-15 campaign, scoring 13.4 PPG and a career high 4.4 rebounds per game. Middleton had a career high in the 2015-16 season with 18.2 PPG to go with about 4 rebounds and assists a game. His scoring has gone up every year and Middleton would have been a nice fit for the Hawks team that has won a lot of games but has not been able to get very far in the playoffs.
7 Cleveland Cavaliers – Will Barton (Memphis)
Original Pick: Jared Cunningham (Oregon St.)
This pick came to Cleveland from the L.A. Lakers and was traded to the Dallas Mavericks. Shooting guard Will Barton was originally picked at #40 by the Portland Trail Blazers where he played until 2015. Barton played his college ball at Memphis where he was named the Conference USA Player of the Year in 2012 and was also a First-team All-C-USA selection that year. In his first three seasons with the Blazers he only saw about 10 minutes per game, but his role increased when he was traded to Denver. Barton averaged 11 points a game in 2014-15 and 14.4 in 2015-2016, all while coming off the bench, playing a little more than one half per game. He could have been a nice role-player for the Cavs, but Denver is happy with him now.
6 Memphis Grizzlies – Hollis Thompson (Georgetown)
Original Pick: Tony Wroten (Washington)
Coming out of Georgetown, shooting guard / small forward Hollis Thompson was an undrafted free agent who first played with the Tulsa 66ers in the D-League. He was signed by their NBA team, the Philadelphia 76ers, in 2013 and has been on the team ever since. Thompson started half of the games in the 2013-14 season, averaging 6 points per game. Even though he started less games in 2014-15 and even less in 2015-16, his minutes per game have gone up each year along with his points as he had a career high 9.8 PPG in 28 MPG last season. Thompson is still a young talented player who could continue to get better. He fits in well with the 76ers but could have made a nice pick by the Grizzlies at the time.
5 Indiana Pacers – Henry Sims (Georgetown)
Original Pick: Miles Plumlee (Duke)
Similar to the pick before him, Henry Sims came out of Georgetown and went undrafted. The center / power forward signed with the Erie BayHawks of the NBA D-League. During his time in the league he has played with the Hornets, Cavaliers, 76ers, and Nets. Sims has also played for the Petron Blaze Boosters, Canton Charge, Grand Rapids Drive, and for the Salt Lake City Stars starting in 2016. He has not been able to stick with a team but he is a talented player who was a D-League All-Star in 2013. His best season was with Philadelphia in 2013-14 when he started 25 games and averaged 11.8 points a game along with 7 rebounds per game. He may have found better leadership with the Pacers and been able to stick around longer than a season or two.
4 Miami Heat – Jonathon Simmons (Houston)
Original Pick: Arnett Moultrie (Mississippi St.)
Jonathon Simmons was an undrafted free agent who played at three colleges including Houston. He signed with the Sugar Land Legends in 2013 and then played for the Austin Toros/Spurs from 2013-2015. Simmons finally joined the San Antonio Spurs in 2015 before he ended up going back down to the Austin Spurs. He is a skilled shooting guard who made the NBA D-League All-Defensive Third Team in 2015. Simmons played 55 games for the Spurs in 2015-16 and averaged 15 minutes a game with 6 points a game. He has struggled to find playing time on a talented Spurs roster so he might have been better off somewhere else like Miami where he could have been mentored by Dwayne Wade and played with LeBron for a time.
3 Oklahoma City Thunder – JaMychal Green (Alabama)
Original Pick: Perry Jones III (Baylor)
Perry Jones is still playing in the D-League, but the Thunder haven’t really gotten anything from him. They would have been better with the power forward JaMychal Green, who went undrafted out of Alabama after being named First-team All-SEC in college and a McDonald’s All-American in high school. Green played for the Austin Toros in the D-League and then for Chorale Roanne in France. He came back to the Austin Spurs before joining the San Antonio Spurs in 2015. He signed a pair of 10-day contracts with the Memphis Grizzlies in 2015 before singing a multi-year deal. Green started 15 games in the 2015-16 season, averaging 7.4 points a game along with 4.8 rebounds. He would have made a nice addition to the Thunder, but the Grizz are thankful he ended up playing for them.
2 Chicago Bulls – Chris Johnson (Dayton)
Original Pick: Marquis Teague (Kentucky)
Kentucky point guard Teague didn’t work out for the Bulls, who should have taken Chris Johnson, the shooting guard / small forward out of Dayton. He went undrafted but has played in the D-League as well as for the Grizzlies, Celtics, 76ers, Jazz, and Bucks. He hadn’t stayed long on an NBA roster until the 2015-16 season where he played in 70 games with the Jazz. Johnson has averaged 15 minutes a game during his career and 4.4 PPG along with 2.0 RPG. He was an NBA D-League All-Star in 2014 and won the league’s championship in 2013 when he was also named to the All-Rookie Second Team. Johnson also won an NIT Championship and was named NIT Most Valuable Player in 2010. Perhaps he would have been able to stick around better in Chicago.
1 Golden State Warriors – Kyle O’Quinn (Norfolk St.)
Original Pick: Festus Ezeli (Vanderbilt)
Nigerian player Festus Ezeli was a nice pick here originally, but with him off the board the Warriors could have selected Kyle O’Quinn, who was taken at #49 by the Orlando Magic. He played in Orlando through 2015 before being traded to the New York Knicks that year. O’Quinn started almost 20 games in both the 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons where he averaged 6 points a game and better than 4 rebounds PG. At Norfolk State, he was named the Mid-Eastern Athlete Conference Player of the Year in 2012 and was a two time MEAC Defensive Player of the Year. He was also the winner of the Lou Henson Award for Division I most outstanding mid-major player. The big man might have been able to come off the bench in Golden State.