While its WAY too early to evaluate how well teams made out in this draft, well attempt to take an early shot at grading the draft based on what we know now and what we heard and saw from covering the draft over the past few months.This report card was based off three factors:I:
How well did the team in question satisfy their personal needs or fill the gaps they have on their roster with the hand they were dealt.II:
How much value teams got from the picks they had.III:
Subjective opinions on the player they got and how well they fit with the teams style of play, the direction they are headed and what we know about the organization.Draft Grades Methodology:A:
The team probably could not have done any better considering the situation they were in.B:
The team did well in filling their needs, getting fair value from their pick and getting a prospect that fits their system and the direction the franchise is heading in.C:
The team had an average draft, not knocking anyones socks off, but also not embarrassing their fans.D:
The team should have done a better job with the picks they made.F:
The team did a terrible job and their fans have every reason to be mad about the picks they made or didnt make.Before you send a nasty email complaining about the grade your favorite team got, please read the methodology abovePortland Trail Blazers Picks: Greg Oden
(#1), purchased draft rights to Rudy Fernandez (#24) from Phoenix, traded rights to Derrick Byars
(#42) and cash considerations to Philadelphia for Petteri Koponen
(#30), Josh McRoberts
(#37), Taurean Green
For the second year in a row, Portland gets an A for effort, an A for creativity, and an A for going out and finding value when the rest of the league was content on twiddling their thumbs. Greg Oden
was an obvious pick that takes this teams potential to a whole new level. Rudy Fernandez is an absolute steal at #24--if he ever comes over considering the very low slot hes now slotted on the rookie scale. Petteri Koponen
s intangibles embody the culture that GM Kevin Pritchard
has been talking about for some timeand hell be stashed to develop overseas for another season as well. Josh McRoberts
was considered a top 10 pick coming into this season and still has that kind of ceiling if the light bulb comes on for him. Being one of Greg Oden
could very well help both players make the transition the NBA smoother, while their games complement each other too. Taurean Green
was fantastic value at #52 and might already be considered one of the best 3rd point guards in the league. All in all, this was another great draft for the Portland Trailblazers.
Seattle SuperSonics Picks: Kevin Durant
(#2), traded Ray Allen
and #35 pick (Glen Davis
) to Boston for Wally Szczerbiak
, Delonte West
and the rights to the #5 pick (Jeff Green
Sam Presti and co. began the project of restructuring their new roster with a bang, trading away an [aging] 26 point per game scorer for a future [very] solid role player in Jeff Green
. This might have been the most value Seattle could have gotten from Allen as they begin the process of building a nucleus that will compete for a championship down the roadeven if taking on Wally Szczerbiak
seems to nullify that to a certain extent. Joakim Noah
at #5 probably would have made this trade make a little more sense, but we really cant make a final judgment until we see what Presti ends up doing with Rashard Lewis
this summer. Right now this roster has a lot of holes, particularly at the shooting guard position. Trading the 31st pick for a future 2nd rounder and cash shows the kind of financial restrictions that Seattle is undersomething that has to be disappointing for Supersonics fans.
Atlanta Hawks Picks: Al Horford
(#3), Acie Law
The Hawks kept it nice and simple on draft night, making the two obvious picks of winning players with plenty of big-game experience who are ready to contribute right now. There isnt much more to say than that really. For once we can give the Hawks some propsthat is, until Mike Conley Jr
. turns out to be the star that many predict he will.
Memphis GrizzliesPicks: Mike Conley Jr
Great point guards are usually drafted, and incoming GM Chris Wallace made the right move taking Conley here. Some will say that Conleys stock would have never been this high if it werent for the miracle shot Ron Lewis
hit in the first round of the NCAA tournament against Xavier, which is probably true, but that would be ignoring the fabulous season Conley had manning the point for the national championship finalists in his freshman year. His poise, athleticism and intangibles coupled with his terrific productionhighlighted by a fantastic assist to turnover ratio and an impressive field goal percentagelead us to believe that Conleys ceiling is high enough to warrant being picked right here. Were not sure how Pau Gasol
will feel, but in a few years this will look like a very good pick.
Boston Celtics Picks:
Traded Jeff Green
(#5) to Seattle with Delonte West
and Wally Szczerbiak
for Ray Allen
and #35 pick (Glen Davis
), Gabe Pruitt
This reeks of a panic move on Danny Ainge
s part to try and save his job after the flurry of trade rumors that never materialized. If this was a matter of trading for Ray Allen
now or trading Paul Pierce
for pennies on the dollar he might have made the right choice, but its hard not to feel like he could have gotten more value out of the #5 pick. If Ainge turns around and flips Theo Ratliff
, Al Jefferson
and change for Kevin Garnett
then well stand corrected, but right now theres not a whole lot to get excited about here, besides the temporary excitement Celtics fans will get from being knocked out of the playoffs in the first or second round.
Milwaukee Bucks Picks: Yi Jianlian
(#6), Ramon Sessions
There is really no way to evaluate this pick at this early juncture, considering that we just dont know exactly what the reaction of Yi Jianlian
s camp will be to Milwaukee drafting him in spite of their wishes. If all goes well, this could look like a decent pick in a few years, since it makes a lot of sense for him to start as a backup in a smaller market where he wont have as much pressure on him. Itll be a few years regardless to know for sure how this turned out. At #56, the Bucks got very good value selecting a player that some people had slotted as early as the late first round in Ramon Sessions
. He fills a distinct need and has the talent to develop into a solid backup point guard.
Minnesota Timberwolves Picks: Corey Brewer
(#7), Chris Richard
Minnesota gets the best of both worlds heredrafting a proven player with Final Four MVP credentials underneath his belt, as well as a terrific upside to continue to improve. From what weve seen of Brewer, he will achieve that upside and then some. Kevin Garnett
should take a look at Brewer and the tenacity he brings to the floor before he completely writes off the team hes been playing for since 1995. Him and Randy Foye
form a nice nucleus for the future moving forward. Whether or not Chris Richard
had value at the #41 spot remains to be seen, but there certainly were other teams in the second round that had their eye on him.
Charlotte Bobcats Picks: Brandan Wright
(#8), traded to Golden State for Jason Richards
on the #36 pick (Jermareo Davidson
), Jared Dudley
I couldnt disagree with Steven A. Smith more regarding his analysis of the Jason Richards
on trade. Every young team reaches a tipping point where its time to stop loading up on talent that needs to be extended at the end of their rookie contract, and start focusing on winning playoff games. Jason Richards
on is only 26 years old and is coming off averaging 23 points per game when he was last healthy for an entire season. Brandan Wright
might turn into a 20 point per game guy in three years
but then again, he also might not. Charlotte has no salary cap issues to worry about right now, and Richardson is a high character guy. This trade was an excellent move, as was drafting another
proven winner in Jared Dudley
. People scoffed when we had Dudley ranked as a first round pick five months ago (he was slotted late second round to undrafted everywhere else back then), but Dudley won the Bobcats over the same way he did for us.
Chicago Bulls Picks: Joakim Noah
(#9), Aaron Gray
(#49), JamesOn Curry
The rich get richer, as they say. Joakim Noah
is a proven winner with the best motor in this years draft. Hes the perfect big man for Scott Skiles
style of play, and they somehow managed to snatch him all the way down at #9. Noah is ready to contribute right away and should become a crowd favorite at the United Center. Many are questioning whether he fits their need for a low-post scorer, but the Bulls dont have three years to wait on Spencer Hawes
, and if Noah had a great back to the basket game he obviously would have been long gone by the time they picked. Hell pick up 12-14 points a game just by running the floor and hitting the offensive glass every night. This isnt the early 90s anymore anyway, and thats not how the Bulls play.
At #49, the Bulls got fantastic value with a player that probably would have gone in the top 20 (likely to Washington at #18) had he kept his name in last years draft. Instead he stayed in school and became a better player, and the Bulls snatched him up in the late second round to help fill a need at the center position. He should develop into a solid backup center. At #51 the Bulls got a Jannero Pargo
clone in JamesOn Curry
and anything they get out of him will be pure gravy at this point in the draft.
Sacramento Kings Picks: Spencer Hawes
The Kings got solid value with the 10th pick by taking Hawes, but you have to wonder how he fits in with incoming coach Reggie Theus
plan of playing run and gun? It sure seems like Julian Wright
or Al Thornton
would have made more sense for that plan. Hawes will be able to pick up the tricks of the trade behind Brad Miller
over the next few years, so well see how this pick turns out. Things are probably going to have to get a lot worse in Sac-Town before they get better.
Philadelphia 76ers Picks: Thaddeus Young
(#12), traded Daequan Cook
(#21) and 2009 2nd round pick to Miami for Jason Smith
(#21), traded rights to Petteri Koponen
(#30) to Portland for rights to Derrick Byars
(#42) and cash considerations, traded draft rights to Kyrylo Fesenko
(#38) to Utah for rights to Herbert Hill
This probably wasnt a bad draft for Philadelphia, but you get the feeling that they could have done a bit more considering what they started with. Thaddeus Young
was a reach at #12, and doesnt really fill a need either. The drop-off from the end of the top 10 to here was pretty steep, but the Sixers had the assets to make a move had they wanted to. Jason Smith
had solid value at #21 and certainly does fill a needa few years down the road. He should get the minutes to play through mistakes and build confidence as he makes the very sharp transition from the cellar of the Mountain West Conference to the NBA.
Rather than hold on to a player with real talent and potential in Koponen who could have had a great chance to gel with Phillys young roster, they traded him away for yet another swingman, their fourth straight counting Rodney Carney
, Bobby Jones
and Thaddeus Young
. At least they got cash out of it, which should make their fan base feel terrific
We do like the Herbert Hill
pick at #55. If he gets a fair shake, he might end up stealing minutes from Smith at the 4-spot. Right now, hes a better player than him, but well see what happens down the road.
New Orleans Hornets Picks: Julian Wright
(#13), Adam Haluska
Wright had solid value at #13 and gives the Hornets some versatility to go small and run if they please. He brings rebounding, passing, energy and a big upside to continue to improveas well as insurance against Peja Stojakovic
s injury problems. Whether he achieves that upside will largely depend on how hard he works on expanding his shooting range. The Hornets really needed a shooting guard here, but obviously werent enamored with Nick Young
. Theyll have to go out and fill their needs in free agency instead. Haluska might end up getting minutes for them, even though he almost certainly would have gone undrafted had he not been taken here.
Los Angeles Clippers Picks: Al Thornton
(#14), Jared Jordan
The Clippers desperately needed a ball-handler to help ease the load on Sam Cassell
, but couldnt pass up Al Thornton
falling right into their lap. Its questionable how much immediate help the best real point guard on the boardJavaris Crittenton
would have been able to give them anyway, so taking Thornton doesnt seem like a bad move. Jared Jordan
gets drafted into a fantastic situation in the middle of the 2nd round, and will receive every opportunity to compete for minutes right away. We didnt rank him as the first or second best point guard available at this slot (that honor would go to Taurean Green
or Zabian Dowdell
), so well see if he goes out and proves us wrong.
Detroit Pistons Picks: Rodney Stuckey
(#15), Arron Afflalo
(#27), Sammy Mejia
at #15 was the worst kept secret of the entire drafta promise that was broken right here on DraftExpress
three weeks ago. Regardless, he is a solid fit here position wise as well as in terms of his personality and style of play. The same can be said for Arron Afflalo
, who many (including us) had falling to the second round because of his limited athleticism and upside, but makes sense here because of his ability to defend and knock down shotsand do so right away. Combo guard Sammy Mejia
is going overseas for the time being and might not be heard from in a while.
Washington Wizards Picks: Nick Young
(#16), Dominic McGuire
The Wizards couldnt believe their luck when a player they had ranked highly in Nick Young
fell to them at #16. Young fills a need at the 2-guard spot and had the talent to easily get drafted in the late lottery. His athleticism and perimeter shooting on the wing will come in handy as Jarvis Hayes
is finally shown the door. If he can learn to defend adequately and do the little things, the Wizards might have found their starting shooting guard of the future.
In the middle of the second round, the Wizards got a player who weve liked all year in Dominic McGuire
. He brings even more athleticism, as well as plenty of versatility as a combo forward. McGuire has been playing hurt for some time now, so we may not have even seen the best of him yet. All in all, the Wizards did a really nice job both filling needs and getting players with solid upside to continue to improve where they were drafting.
New Jersey Nets Picks: Sean Williams
A cop-out, indeed, but there is no way of grading this pick until we see whether or not Williams flames out of the league after a year or two like his history indicates he will. If he miraculously cleans up his act and decides to pick basketball over smoking marijuana, the Nets will have done extremely well here. If he doesnt, then obviously everyone will say that the writing was on the wall. Considering where they were drafting and the fact that they needed an athletic power forward that can play in Lawrence Franks system right nowtheyll tell you that they really didnt have a choice here. Only time will tell if that was indeed the case.
Golden State Warriors Picks:
Traded Jason Richards
on and the draft rights to Jermareo Davidson
(#36 pick) for Brandan Wright
(#8), Marco Belinelli
(#18), Stephane Lasme
Its not exactly clear what the Warriors were trying to accomplish here, just a month and change after losing in the second round of the playoffs. They seemed to have some very nice momentum and the core to continue to cause damage in the West, but instead decided to take a step backwards and cut costs. Brandan Wright
is obviously a supreme talent, but its questionable how well he will fit into Don Nelson
s system. The Warriors need help on the glass, and Wrights 200 pound frame doesnt give them much of that. Like Patrick OBryant
, he seems like a guy that needs to be coddled
another player that Nelson would like to have to dinner with, but wouldnt want to play.
At #18, it already seemed like there often werent enough balls to go around last year, and Marco Belinelli
isnt of much value unless someone is creating shots for him by the dozen.
Los Angeles Lakers Picks: Javaris Crittenton
(#19), Sun Yue
(#40), Marc Gasol
There wasnt going to be a whole lot that the Lakers could do here to help them in their sorry post-Kobe Bryant
-trade-demand state. They already drafted a point guard last year in Jordan Farmar
, and Javaris Crittenton
is hardly going to be of much help right now. On the plus side, he will give their D-League team the LA D-Fenders a nice boost. He has the upside to develop into a contributor down the road, but will probably need the full two seasons the developmental league can offer in order to iron out the wrinkles in his game.
At #40 and #48, the Lakers selected two players who agreed to stay overseas and not take up a valuable roster spot next yearSun Yue
and Marc Gasol
. Yue, who played in the ABA these past two seasons and was drafted over many proven NCAA players, has the potential to help the Lakers draw from the massive Asian population on the West Coast if Kobe Bryant
is traded. He has the passing ability of a point guard, but questionable perimeter shooting and defensive skills on the wing. Gasol on the other hand has developed himself into a legitalbeit slightly outdated-- talent this past season playing in the very strong ACB league, and could very well be a solid rotation player when the Lakers decide to call on him in a year or two.
Miami Heat Picks:
Traded draft rights to Jason Smith
(#20) to Philadelphia for rights to Daequan Cook
, (#21) a 2009 second-round pick and cash, Traded draft rights to Stanko Barac
(#39) for a 2009 second-round pickD
Miami was not picking in a slot that was going to excite anyone in particular, but you have to wonder about this pick. For one, Cook plays the one position (shooting guard) that Miami really doesnt have a need for behind Dwyane Wade
and Dorell Wright
. Cook wasnt able to get off the bench during the second half of the season for Ohio State due to his questionable defensive ability, and its very tough to see that changing anytime soon under Pat Riley
. A player like Jared Dudley
or Morris Almond
probably would have made more sense. At #39, the Heat continued to ignore their needs for help at the point guard slot, preferring to instead pick up yet another 2009 second round pick. Extorting cash out of Philly for the rights to Jason Smith
was a pretty slick pretty move, but Miamis future doesnt look much brighter because of it.
New York Knicks Picks:
Trade Channing Frye
and Steve Francis
for Zach Randolph
, Wilson Chandler
(#23), traded 2008 2nd round pick to Portland for Demetris Nichols
being picked at #23 was the second worst kept secret of this years draft, also a scoop broken right here at DraftExpress
a week and change before the draft. This move makes very little sense considering the current make-up of New Yorks roster, but is of typical Isiah Thomas
fashionlength and athleticism over skills and intangibles. He clearly could have gotten Chandler 10-15 picks down at a lesser salary slot. Thomas then went out and traded what is probably going to be a very nice 2nd round pick next year to get into the bottom of the draft and pluck Demetris Nichols
, yet another small forward. We actually happen to like Nichols, and he clearly fills a need as a shooter, but you have to wonder how he is ever going to get any playing time behind (or next to) Jarred Jeffries, Renaldo Balkman
, Quentin Richardson
and Wilson Chandler
The one saving grace that we can see here is the trade packaging Steve Francis
and Channing Frye
for a legit 24+10 player in Zach Randolph
. Ignoring the salary cap ramifications, this has to be considered a very shrewd move considering the caliber of talent that was swapped. The Knicks just added some major firepower to their roster to compete in the East, and did so without giving up on all that much. How all that talent actually meshes on the floor is anyones guess, but for a team that has been looking to cut corners constantly for the past five years or more, this was definitely one of their better moves.
Phoenix Suns Picks:
Sold draft rights to Rudy Fernandez (#24) to Portland, Alando Tucker
(#29), D. J. Strawberry (#59)D
Its not quite clear what to think of Phoenix anymore. Do you give them props for being able to compete at such a high level despite having an owner who is developing a worse reputation than Donald Sterling? Or do you wonder how long its going to be before agents stop sending their players into workouts every year only to see them sell their picks off one by one? How good would the Suns be if their front office was allowed to build a bench through the draft? These are all questions that Phoenix fans might be asking themselves; especially when Steve Nash
starts slowing down in a few years and players like Sergio Rodriguez
, Rajon Rondo
and Rudy Fernandez enter their prime.
The Suns still made two picks this year in Alando Tucker
and D.J. Strawberry
. Both are 6-5 swingmen with superb athletic ability, terrific defense, an excellent work ethic, questionable ball-handling skills, and even more questionable perimeter shooting skills. How they fit into Phoenixs style of play is anyones guess, as Mike DAntoni has had a tendency to shy away from players who cant shoot or create their own shot.
Utah Jazz Picks: Morris Almond
(#25), traded draft rights to Herbert Hill
(#55) to Philadelphia for draft rights to Kyrylo Fesenko
A team with a very good track record in the draft seems to have made another couple of solid picks, despite drafting fairly low. Morris Almond
fills a need as a perimeter shooter, has great value at #25, and also has the type of character and intangibles that the Jazz covet. Kyrylo Fesenko
is a bit of a mystery to most people at #38, but he also fills a need as a rebounder inside and has the toughness to endear himself to Jazz fans and especially Coach Jerry Sloan
. Hes not afraid to take or dish out pain and will give Utah plenty of youthful energy running the floor and crashing the offensive glass. Hes not exactly a great fit as far as his off the court habits go, but there is still time to iron out those things if he shows the desire to stick in the league.
Houston Rockets Picks: Aaron Brooks
(#26), traded future 2nd-round pick and cash to Seattle for Carl Landry
(#31), Brad Newley
First off, this pick reeks of a trade, because it obviously makes very little sense. The Rockets have three capable point guards on their roster already in Rafer Alston
, Mike James
and John Lucas
, so its not quite clear where Brooks fits in. If the Rockets end up trading this pick on July 15th (maybe to Sacramento in a package for Ron Artest
?) then ignore this grade and analysis altogether.
If they took Brooks with the intention of keeping him, though, then were pretty stumped. Brooks is a player who clearly could have been had in the second round, besides the fact that he doesnt fill any kind of need for a team that needs to win right now. The Rockets dont have any power forwards on their roster at the moment (Chuck Hayes
is a free agent), and there were a few players here that could have had value at this slot. Nick Fazekas
, Josh McRoberts
, Glen Davis
, and especially Tiago Splitter
come to mind. When Splitter comes over to San Antonio next year and starts contributing big minutes right away, people in Houston will almost certainly be smacking their foreheads for passing him up.
Daryl Morey has been criticized for only being a Moneyball or stat guy by various sources, but Brooks doesnt grade out particularly well on the sabermetrics scales. Carl Landry
on the other hand, certainly does. He also fills a bit of the void we spoke about at the power forward position above, even though he cant do it by himself obviously. Landry comes game-ready, though, at age 23, which is good considering how much theyll need him right away if they dont make a big move in free agency. Still, its hard not to come away thinking that the Rockets reached once again here.
San Antonio Spurs Picks: Tiago Splitter
(#28), Marcus Williams
The rich get richer once again, as the best team in the league lands possibly the most NBA-ready player in the draft
all the way down at #28. That almost shouldnt be allowed, its so unfair to everyone else. The reason this happened is because most teams preferred to draft backups who will play 10 minutes a game at most next year rather than wait another season for some real help. But thats why the Spurs are the Spurs, and everyone else is everyone else.
At #33, the Spurs again got some solid value in Marcus Williams
, a player who was considered a lottery pick for much of the year before his season went and his stock dropped from working out poorly and for the wrong teams (for example Washington, selecting #16, the day before the draft). Williams isnt quite the defender or perimeter shooter the Spurs covet on the wing as Michael Finley
and Bruce Bowen
continue to age, but he does have the upside to improve in those areas, being a very naturally talented sophomore with superb scoring instincts. He will have to restructure his shooting mechanics to reach his full potential, though.
With the #58 pick, the Spurs pulled off yet another shrewd trade like they do practically every year (the reason why they were drafting at #33 this time), flipping a late 2nd rounder for Torontos 2008 2nd round pick. Considering how weak of a crop this was for International players this year, there is certain to be more value to be found in 2008.
Dallas Mavericks Picks: Nick Fazekas
(#34), Renaldas Seibutis
(#50), traded rights to Milovan Rakovic
(60) and cash to Magic for rights to Reyshawn Terry
The Mavericks had very few needs coming into this draft, but regardless did a nice job with the three picks they had at their disposal. At 34, they took a superb shooting big man who should be able to step for Austin Croshere
s minutes backing up Dirk Nowitzki
right away. Fazekas isnt quite quick enough to create his own shot, but on this team there will be plenty of opportunities to space the floor and have shots created for him. If he can translate some of the rebounding numbers he produced in college, he will have a long and excellent NBA career.
At #50, Dallas took a flyer on an international player that they can stash in Europe for the next few years to see how he develops. To top things off, Mark Cuban opened up his wallet and let Donnie Nelson purchase a very athletic small forward with a Carolina pedigree and first round potential in the mid-2nd round. Reyshawn Terry
will be just about as good as he wants to be, and the Mavericks have the tools at their disposal to help him get there.
Indiana Pacers Picks:
Traded 2009 2nd-round pick to Miami for Stanko Barac
The Pacers came into this draft with no 2nd round picks after having traded away three last year to draft James White
who they promptly cut in training campbut regardless decided to join in on the fun. They sorely needed a point guard and had quite a few sitting there at #39 that could have helped them (Taurean Green
, Zabian Dowdell
, Ramon Sessions
), but instead decided to draft a European center that wont join the team anytime in the near future. The Pacers wont be drafting in the second round anytime soon either at this rate.
Orlando Magic Picks:
Traded draft rights to Reyshawn Terry
(#44) to Dallas for draft rights to Milovan Rakovic
and cash, traded rights to pick #54 to Rockets for cashF
We watched Rakovic in Treviso and didnt even think he was considered a draft prospectas hes not really athletic, nor skilled, nor productive, nor particularly smart. To see him drafted was a bit of a shock, even this late in the draft. Something that he does have going for him is the fact that he shares the same agent as Darko Milicic
, who just happens to be up for extension with Orlando this summer. Reyshawn Terry
should get some highlight reel footage of Mr. Rakovic and use it as motivation every time Orlando comes up on the schedule.
Toronto Raptors Picks:
Traded 2008 2nd round pick for draft rights to Giorgos Printezis
Unlike Rakovic, Printezis is actually a legit basketball player. Hes fairly athletic and has some scoring tools at his disposal, even if his game is too mechanical for the NBA right now. He has time to improve on that and his perimeter defense as he makes the full time transition to the small forward spot, but there is certainly some upside to work with here.
Cleveland Cavaliers Picks:
The Cavaliers apparently tried to get into this draft (they conducted at least a couple of workouts from what we were told), but in the end decided to stand pat.
Denver Nuggets Picks:
For the second straight year, the Nuggets decided to sit out the NBA draft. They did show up in full force at the Orlando pre-draft camp, but apparently didnt see anything that made it worth making a trade for. They probably think that landing Allen Iverson
for Andre Miller
, Joe Smith
, Jason Smith
, Derrick Byars
and cash considerations was a pretty good move in hindsight.