2012 NBA Draft: Last Thoughts on a Mixed Night for the Mid-Majors

When Gonzaga's Robert Sacre was chosen at No. 60, he made this face. And he gave mid-majors six selections in the 2012 NBA Draft.

With a day gone since the NBA Draft, we can finally put a few things into perspective with the help of some of the NBA experts around the Interwebs.

It was easy to get caught up in the moment on Thursday night, and come away with shock reactions without really thinking about things. But upon reflection, some of my gut reactions seemed to make more and more sense -- that the more I thought about the snubs from the mid-major ranks, the more obnoxious the whole thing seemed.

With the draft done, those players are free agents, welcome to find the place that fits them the best. With the modern two-round draft (can you believe that this used to go on and on for 10 rounds? Who are you picking then, Carl Lewis? Oh... ), there have been more and more players that found their way into the league that way, and they get to make the choice that is best for them.

But let's start with a quick review of what we know happened:

1. Damian Lillard went at No. 6 to Portland. It was a lock before the draft that Lillard was a lottery pick, and apparently it had been almost guaranteed that he was taken by Portland, even though Andre Drummond was still on the board.

Over at Rush the Court, they did an assessment of all the mid-major players that have been taken in the lottery over the last 15 years. Based on previous players, they conclude that Lillard should do fairly well:

"our research shows that few mid-major point guards ever wind up as lottery picks. But those who did have done pretty well."

Worth a read just to revisit some of the great mid-major names like Pacific's Michael Olowokandi.

And for what its worth, Sports Illustrated's Sam Amick gave the pick a 9.3/10.

2. No other mid-major player was taken in the first round. It seemed that Will Barton was destined to go somewhere in the 25-30 range and yet he feel at the last minute. Still no comment as to why he went past the Bulls when it seemed there was little doubt they would take him.

Yes, Marquis Teague was available at No. 29, but maybe it says something that Teague lasted that long. By our HOOPWAR analysis, Teague registered a -0.4 per 30 games playing for Kentucky (Barton was an 8.21).

Now, Teague was playing with the player who had one of the greatest college seasons in memory, but even with Anthony Davis, as the point guard, you should be picking up value. Someone has to get these guys the ball. Even if you look at other measures of values, like sports-reference's Win Shares, he scores just a 3.3 (for a team that went 38-2!!). Most of that value came on defense, an area where HOOPWAR seemed to think Teague was not as strong.

Either way, the lure of Teague was too good to pass up and there was no good landing spot for Barton until he was taken by Portland with the 40th pick.

3. We hit on our lock of Kyle O'Quinn. Despite the Norfolk State center pulling a Kevin Durant and not being able to lift the bar during the NBA Draft Combine, he was the first mid-major big man taken (and was almost the only one if not for Gonzaga's Robert Sacre at No. 60).

The total O'Quinn story is a good one, and the Virginian-Pilot was with him Thursday night to document the life-changing moment for the NCAA Tournament star.

4. Where were the other mid-major players? Orlando Johnson, Kevin Murphy and Robert Sacre filled out the mid-major ranks, giving us six total selections. The biggest surprise might have been the omission of Scott Machado from the players taken as he ranked highly on almost every mock draft out there.

What is most bothersome is not just that Machado wasn't taken but that so many other players, ones with actual tangible value NOW, were left standing without a team.

So many teams essentially punted their second round picks for European players that may never appear in an NBA uniform. The trend started at No. 48 when the Knicks enraged fans even more by taking Greek forward Kostas Papanikolaou.

Will we ever see him play, despite management's calls that this was a pick for the future? Seems doubtful.

Excuse me if I missed something, but it seems like the Knicks need cheap talent now to help boost the team. By taking The Greek, they passed on guys like Darius Johnson-Odom who went at No. 55, or even Campbell's Eric Griffin, who we profiled as giving teams a great piece to build with.

With the way the salary cap is structured in the NBA right now, there are three types of teams: Contenders, Rebuilders, and Stuck.

The Knicks try to portray themselves as contenders by grabbing up the big name free agents. Then they punt their only pick in the Draft as if it were a rebuilding move for them. So what are they really?

They seem more like a team that has to admit it screwed up and will be Stuck until it can unload a contract, rather than one looking for that last piece to be a true contender in the league.

I have to believe that one of the other 18 players that we profiled and weren't chosen would have been a better choice than some of these European wonders. Over the next few weeks, they will prove it at camps, but it still is a huge disappointment for a lot of those players who spent the last month giving a lot of sweat equity at tryouts, only to be outmaneuvered by guys who aren't on this side of the Atlantic.

You can almost bet that some of the mid-major snubs get a nice shot in the league before half of the Euro guys even try on an NBA uni.

So what was your takeaway from Thursday, as we start to leave the Draft behind us and look ahead to the coming season, especially Sunday when the league changes become official across college basketball.

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