Friday, June 30, 2006

NBA Draft Grades


Here is my ranking of the draft Wednesday night. 

30-DENVER:  The Nuggets didn't get anyone.  Denver did draft Leon Powe, but dealt him away for a future 2nd rounder.  Not too good for a team with limited cap space and a roster in flux. 

29-PHOENIX:  The Suns had two picks...but came home with nothing.  And I absolutely hate what they did.  Sure, I understand....kinda.  The thinking is that they like the team they have and really didn't want rookie salaries pushing them into the luxury tax bracket.  They also are looking at resigning some of their own guys in the next summer.  However, they came off like cheapskates.  They dealt away both of their picks for cash....even though there were some great players sitting there for their picks.  They did end up with a future 1st rounder from Boston...which just keeps them out of the bottom spot. 

28-SAN ANTONIO:  The Spurs made the second-to-last selection...then shipped him off to Milwaukee.  Not bad for the Spurs, who already have a full roster and a bevy of international guys waiting in the wings. 

27-MIAMI:  Miami was the only team who had no picks in this draft.  The picks they would've had in this draft were used to get Shaquille O'Neal and Antoine Walker.  Not bad. 

26-NEW YORK:  The Knicks gained PF Renaldo Balkman and PG Mardy Collins.  The only reason they aren't dead last is because a couple of teams didn't get to pick.  And by my personal reasoning for this...picking anyone in the draft rates higher than getting nothing.  It's not that I hate the players.  I just hate the picks.  Balkman isn't worth the #20 pick in the draft.  He could've been had later in the draft.  Collins is a defensive combo on a team with four combo guards.  Sigh.  This was the one area that most hoops people feltthat Isiah Thomas was really good at.  Not anymore. 

25-SEATTLE:  The Sonics gained C Saer Sene, SG Dehnam Brown and PG Yotam Halperin.  What's going on??  The Sonics drafted a very raw center with their first rounder.  Last year, they drafted a raw center Johan Petro in the first round.  In 2004, they drafted a raw center Robert Swift in the first round.  So, what is this??  Not to mention, they just drafted a guy who averaged 3 pts and 4 rbs in the Belgium league last year.  THE BELGIUM LEAGUE!!!!  If that was your average in any colleigate conference last'd be looking to go to graduate school.  Sure, he showed some stuff in some exhibition games...but the Sonics needed more from their pick.  Brown and Halperin could be key players to Seattle in time. 

24-SACRAMENTO:  The Kings gained SG Quincy Douby.  I like Douby [I was hoping the Lakers could get him] but he doesn't fill any need.  The Blazers already drafted lanky two-guards in 2005 [Fran Garcia] and 2004 [Kevin Martin].  With a ton of point guards available at their pick...including Bobby Jackson-esque Rajon Rondo....this pick made no sense. 

23-DETROIT:  The Pistons gained C Cheik Samb and PG Will Blaylock [and lost Maurice Evans in a trade].   Samb is a project...a huge kid who will stay over in Spain to develop.  Getting him cost the Pistons Evans.  Blaylock could make the Pistons as the team does need backup guard help since they dealt Carlos Arroyo last season. 

22-MILWAUKEE:  The Bucks gained SF David Noel and SF Damir Markota.  Noel was rated the top athlete in the Orlando camp.  He's a big time dunker, plays pretty good defense, passes well and has a decent jumper.  He may get a shot with the Bucks.  Markota, well, I'm not so sure.   

21-HOUSTON:  The Rockets gained SF Steve Novak and SF Lior Eliyahu via the draft and SF Shane Battier via a trade [they also lost Stromile Swift].  I may be the only person who completely hates Houston's draft.  They essentially traded Rudy Gay [who they drafted] and Swift for Battier.  Huh?  Then they draft Novak.  I like what those guys can do....hit open shots...which will be key playing alongside Yao Ming.  But the price Houston paid to get Battier was too high.  Not to mention that the Rockets only athletic player is now T-Mac.  Battier may be a great defender, but isn't an athletic offensive player.  They dealt away two great athletes in Gay and Swift and gain two stand still jump shooters.  And they didn't even address their biggest need of a point guard.  Eliyahu may be able to sniff the NBA.

20-INDIANA:  The Pacers gained SF Shawne Williams and SG James White.  I don't understand the Pacers, either.  They needed size and a point guard....and got neither.  Sure, Peja could be out the door, but they drafted Danny Granger last year and he does what Williams can do.  White is one heck of an athlete and seemingly coachable...but needs some polishing just to get minutes. 

19-DALLAS:  The Mavericks gained SG Maurice Ager.  Ager is one of those do everything guards that the Mavs seem to really like.  He won't be a star...but he'll get some time. 

18-WASHINGTON:  The Wizards gained PF Olexsiy Pecherov and PF Vladimir Veremeenko.  Both of these guys will sit in Europe for at least a year...but that's fine with Washington.  The Wiz still have Calvin Booth and Michael Ruffin [how is Ruffin making $1.8M???] on the books this coming season....and then they are gone.  These rookies can come in and, at worst, fill the exact same roles. 

17-ORLANDO:  The Magic gained SG JJ Redick and C James Augustine.  Redick is small for a two guard and may not be what Orlando needs.  There were bigger, more athletic guards availiable when they I don't like it.  Redick, again, will be a Steve Kerr kind of player....not Reggie Miller.  As for Augustine, he could make the team as a backup center. 

16-LA CLIPPERS:  The Clippers gained C Paul Davis and PG Guillermo Diaz.  Davis and Diaz are those 2nd round guys who could last a long time in the NBA.  Davis is a big man with a post presence and a nice little offensive game....especially a jump shot.  Big centers who can hit open jumpers are always needed.  Diaz is a ballsy guard who has some trade value if Miami really, really, really wants him. 

15-GOLDEN STATE:  The Warriors gained C Patrick O'Bryant and C Kosta Perovic.  Both picks are big men and both need time to develop.  The Warriors needed big men...but these guys are a bit unproven.  However, if O'Bryant keeps improving as he did late in the college season, he could turn out to be quite a player. 

14-ATLANTA:  The Hawks gained PF Sheldon Williams and C Solomon Jones.  Williams should be a solid NBA player for years as his defense and rebounding will be needed anywhere he goes.  But, the Hawks took him too high and there were guys at the #5 spot that fit bigger needs [Foye, Roy].  Jones has a chance to make the team. 

13-PHILADELPHIA:  The Sixers gained SF Rodney Carney, SF Bobby Jones and C Edin Bavcic.  The draft picks, to me, were rather interesting.  They got an athletic swingman in Carney and a very tough defender in Jones [Bavcic is a project].  Carney was a very good pick, especially at the 16th spot.  However, the still failed to get a point guard.  Of course, this may fall under the "to be continued" pile as Philly may be looking to deal away Allen Iverson...possibly to Boston...and getting some help that way. 

12-TORONTO:  The Raptorsgained PF Andrea Bargnani and SF PJ Tucker.  Boy....Bargnani is a very risky pick.  I think he'll be solid...but it is a risk to take him #1.  Especially when most anyone in the top 6 wouldn't have wanted him.  Toronto coulda/shoulda dealt the pick back and got him and some other stuff.  Still, they wanted him and got him.  Tucker is a nice player, but they drafted Joey Graham last year who does the same things.  And they still didn't get point guard help. 

11-MINNESOTA:  The Timberwolves gained PG Randy Foye, PF Craig Smith and C Loukas Mavrokefalidis.  Foye really helps the Wolves in the backcourt as far as scoring.  He could be ROY.  However, the guy they dealt for him, Brandon Roy, was a better fit.  Also, they were screwed by Portland...who snuck in and took Foye and ruined the premeditaded deal they had with Houston.  I like Craig Smith as he's a tough guy around the basket.  He is a bit smallish though. 

10-BOSTON:  The Celtics gained PG Rajon Rondo and F Leon Powe via the draft, and PG Sebastian Telfair and C Theo Ratliff via trades [they lost Dan Dickau and Raef LaFrentz].  Boston gained two point guards in Telfair and Rondo.  Interesting, since neither is a good shooter.  Telfair is a poor chemistry guy as well.  This may lead to a possible deal for Allen Iverson down the road.  Not a bad draft for the C's, as they get Ratliff, who at worst shaves a year from dealt Raef LaFrentz.  Powe could be a sleeper as an undersized power forward. 

9-LA LAKERS:  The Lakers gained PG Jordan Farmar and PG Danilo Pinnock via the draft and SF Maurice Evans via trade.  Farmar will be in an interesting battle with Smush Parker and Sasha Vujacic for those point minutes alongside Kobe.  The guy who hits more consistently from the field will rise to the top.  Farmar could be that guy.  He's smart [can pick up the triangle quicker than most] and a leader.  He's also local which couldgive him fan points.  Pinnock could also be thrown into the mix if he does well in the summer leagues.  Evans wanted out of Detroit and got his wish.  As a Laker, he'll back up Kobe and whomever is at small forward. 


8-UTAH:  The Jazz gained SG Ronnie Brewer [above], PG Dee Brown and PF Paul Millsap.  I think the Jazz did a great job with their picks.  Brewer is a Jerry Sloan kind of guy.  He plays tough defense and a guy who can create his own shot...something they desperately needed.  Brown can back up Deron Williams...his former Illinois backcourt mate.  Brown can be that change of pace guard who can get the team running a bit.  Millsap is a stud rebounder [he led the country in boards at UTEP] who can contribute in the paint scoring wise. 

7-CHARLOTTE:  The Bobcats gained SF Adam Morrison and C Ryan Hollins.  Morrison brings a scorer to the Cats, something they haven't had.  He's a guy that can get his shot off anywhere on the court.  And he's passionate which could make him a fan favorite.  Hollins could come in and be a solid prospect as well...a big man who can run the floor.  Also, there is a lot to be read in the Morrison pick.  Jordan was high on Rudy Gay...but kept with the program of Morrison, taking the proven guy instead of a guy who's got more to learn.  Maybe MJ did learn something from the Wizards fiasco [right, Kwame??]

6-PORTLAND:  The Blazers gained C/PF LaMarcus Aldridge, SG Brandon Roy, PG Sergio Rodriguez and C Joel Freeland via the draft and PG Dan Dickau and C Raef LaFrentz via trades [they did lost Viktor Khryapa, Theo Ratliff and Sebastian Telfair in deals].  What a night for Portland.  They pulled off SIX trades.  Now, you can view what the Blazers did two different ways.  You can assess each deal one-by-one or you can look at the overall haul.  As seperate deals, sure, you can dump on Portland for some overzealous actions [why the 2-for-4 and Khryapa pick??].  However, they also did the shrewdest move of the night by blocking the Rockets/Wolves deal by drafting the guy that Minnesota wanted Houston to take.  Then they made the deal.  Overall it looks pretty decent.  Aldridge and Roy are good character guys who can come in and start for Portland.  They already dealt away bad seed Telfair and are looking to deal Zach Randolph.  While LaFrentz isn't the defensive person that Ratliff was, but he is younger and more of a threat to score.  Rodriguez and Freeland can stay in Europe and develop...which is good for Portland who already invested in high school projects in the last 4-5 drafts. 

5-NEW JERSEY:  The Nets gained PG Marcus Williams, PF Josh Boone and SG Hassan Adams.  The Nets had to have been shocked to see Williams fall in their laps.  He was labeled a "Jason Kidd type" of player...and now he gets to work with Kidd.  So he should fit with what the team is trying to do.  Boone is a risk, but when his mind is right, he can rebound, block shots, score around the basket and defend well.  The Nets need that badly.  Adams is a highlight dunker who brings gritty defense.   

4-CLEVELAND:  The Cavaliers gained SG Shannon Brown, PG Daniel Gibson and F Ejike Ugboaja.  Brown fills a need.  A big guard who can score in a variety of ways...including hitting jumpers, something the Cavs need with those LeBron kick-outs.  He'll be more of a combo guard.  Gibson is too, but not as gifted.  Ugboaja is a project that may never set foot in the league. 

3-NEW ORLEANS:  The Hornets gained C Hilton Armstrong, PF Cedric Simmons and SF Marcus Vinicius Vieira de Souza.  Armstrong and Simmons bring toughness to their frontcourt.  They really need that.  With PJ Brown getting old and nothing else to speak of in the middle, those two guys can come in and make waves.  De Souza was dubbed by some as a first getting him later was a nice move. 

2-CHICAGO:  The Bulls gainedPF Tyrus Thomas and SG Thabo Sefolosha via the draft, and SF Viktor Khryapa via trade.  Thomas was many people's top guy on the board.  He is athletic and could be the interior scorer that Chicago desperately needs.  They also needed a big guard, and Sefolosha is that.  And he is more refined than most foreign players are.  Khyrapa adds depth to the wing position. 

1-MEMPHIS:  The Grizzlies gained SF Rudy Gay [below], PG Kyle Lowry and PF Alexander Johnson via the draft and PF Stromile Swift via trade [they lost Shane Battier].   They dealt away Battier for Gay and Swift, meaning they did lose their best defender but got two awesome athletes.  Swift has been disappointing with both Memphis and Houston, but could be back in the saddle if Memphis decides to use their new found athleticsm to run a bit more.  Lowry helps that aspect too, and brings depth to the point guard spot.  Johnson could make the team if he concentrates on his rebounding abilities.  Still, the team hasn't found a center yet...and must keep Pau Gasol there until they do.


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