In hindsight, it seems insane that Damian Lillard went sixth in the 2012 NBA Draft. While he wasn’t the same draw as the No. 1 pick, Anthony Davis, Lillard had the skills coming out of Weber State that NBA scouts typically love. Instead, several teams ended up making picks they eventually regretted. With that in mind, let’s rank the five players chosen ahead of Lillard from the worst to best pick.
5. Thomas Robinson, Sacramento Kings (fifth pick)
With freakish athleticism and a reputation as a hard worker, many pegged Thomas Robinson as one of the best players in the 2012 NBA draft. The Sacramento Kings needed a power forward to help complement their frontcourt of the future. Unfortunately, Robinson never panned out.
He showed some promise early on, such as a ferocious dunk over Dwight Howard during his first stint with the Lakers. Still, Robinson struggled on offense, had questionable hands to catch the ball, and never quite got the hang of NBA basketball.
The Kings traded Robinson the Houston Rockets halfway through his rookie season and is currently playing overseas. The team was still holding out hopes that Tyreke Evans was the point guard of a future, which likely influenced passing on Lillard.
4. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Charlotte Bobcats (second pick)
Another pick who proved to be all hype, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was Davis’s sidekick at Kentucky. At the time, the Charlotte Bobcats hoped to find a piece to fit next to Kemba Walker, Gerald Henderson, and the rest of their young core. While Kidd-Gilchrist wasn’t the worst player on the court, he struggled to fulfill his promise.
Now a role player with the Dallas Mavericks, reports the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Kidd-Gilchrist’s impact on the team is minimal, and he may be out of the league altogether soon.
3. Dion Waiters, Cleveland Cavaliers (fourth pick)
Waiters had experienced a tenuous career. A famously eccentric player, the Cavaliers hoped to recover from LeBron James’ departure years earlier. With Waiters, they had a lights-out scorer who helped bring Syracuse back to prominence during his stint there. Waiters had a knack for being his own worst enemy, however. After James came back, he was quickly sent away.
Now with the Los Angeles Lakers, Waiters’ behavior has gotten him into hot water several times. While he got paid handsomely by the Miami Heat, his on-court and off-court antics get more coverage than his play. The Cavaliers might have decided that Lillard and Irving were too redundant.
2. Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards (third pick)
With John Wall already on the team, the Wizards didn’t need a point guard. At the time, Wall appeared to be a surefire star, and a player like Beal could improve the team. While Beal might not be the superstar like Lillard, it’s hard to fault the Wizards for choosing Beal. While the team is stuck in mediocrity, Beal is the only thing keeping them afloat.
Still with the team. Beal has been the subject of rumors linking him to organizations across the league for years, according to NBC Sports. However, a recent contract extension means that he could only leave in a trade.
1. Anthony Davis, New Orleans Hornets (first pick)
While the other four picks may not be as good as Lillard, nobody questions the former New Orleans Hornets for taking a chance on Anthony Davis. He was dominant during his only season at Kentucky and a surefire No. 1 pick early on in his tenure.
Davis was the face of the franchise as they rebranded into the New Orleans Pelicans and remained there until last year when he was traded to the LA Lakers. When the season returns in July, Davis and his new teammate, LeBron James, are among the favorites to win a championship.
What about Damian Lillard’s draft pick?
Damian Lillard’s Portland Trailblazers had an offseason after blowing up last year’s successful roster. While the team isn’t in the playoff picture yet, they could be after the league’s brief closure on the season.
Lillard is one of the most clutch players in the NBA, and without a doubt, the second-best player from his draft class. While several teams regret passing upon him, the Blazers haven’t regretted it for a second.