Saturday, June 26, 2010

2010 NBA Draft Grades

Atlanta Hawks- Jordan Crawford (27), Pape Sy (53)

Atlanta turned their pick (#24) into two picks (#27, #31) and then traded #31 for cash, getting the player they really wanted (Crawford) in the process. They also got a guy they really liked (Sy) in the late second round. He's relatively unknown and needs a lot of work, but picking him in the mid 50's is very low risk.

Crawford could help ease the loss of Joe Johnson, but Atlanta will still need to upgrade their frontcourt rotation if they hope to return to their form from 2009-2010.

Grade: B-

Boston Celtics- Avery Bradley (19), Luke Harangody (52)

The Celtics got great value from Bradley at #19, and he could turn out to be quite a steal. However, he doesn't seem to be the kind of player who will be able to help in the short term. Harangody is the exact opposite story. What he is today is about all he'll ever be. He was extremely productive in college, but his role at the next level will be very limited. I would be surprised to see him log more than eight minutes a game if he even makes the roster.

Boston's "Big 3" are all on their downside, but Rajon Rondo and Kendrick Perkins have done a great job of bridging the gap. Bradley could take over the shooting guard role down the line, but re-signing Paul Pierce and Ray Allen will be of paramount importance in the short-term.

Grade: B

Charlotte Bobcats- No Picks

Charlotte traded their first round pick to Denver for the rights to Alexis Ajinca, which turned out really great. Their pick (Luke Babbit) ended up in Portland via Minnesota via Denver, and the team still finds themselves without a playoff win or a point guard. But, hey, at least they have MJ.

Grade: D-

Chicago Bulls- No Picks

The Bulls took a page out of the Miami Heat playbook and traded a proven commodity (Kirk Hinrich) and a mid teens pick (#17) for nothing more than cap space. As July approaches, it could prove to be genius, but the jury's still out. If the Bulls come up short in free agency, their grade will be an F. If they can get two big name players to team with Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah, they'll get a A+.

Grade: INC

Cleveland Cavaliers- No Picks

The Cavs first round pick went to Washington as part of Antawn Jamison deal, and ended up in Minnesota in a draft night deal. Jamison fit in well in Cleveland, but the Cavs still couldn't manage to win a ring for The King.

Grade: C

Dallas Mavericks- Dominique Jones (25)

Dallas traded their original pick (#27) to New Jersey as a part of the Jason Kidd- Devin Harris trade. They bought back into the first round on draft night and picked a guy that had targeted around #20 (Jones) at #25. Jones is a nice fit in Dallas, because of his ability to create and defend.

Like many teams around the league, the Mavericks have a lot to win or lose this summer, but all signs indicate that Dirk Nowitzki will return next season. Dallas also has some assets to offer, including Erick Dampier's non-guaranteed contract, so they could be movers and shakers in the trade market.

Grade: B

Denver Nuggets- No Picks

Denver's original pick went to Memphis in the Stephen Hunter trade (August 2009), and the pick they acquired from Charlotte went to Minnesota for the rights to Ty Lawson. Lawson had a good year last year, and was reportedly dangled to Indiana for the #10 pick this time around. I'm no mathematician (well, actually I am), but I would rather have #10 than #16. Even though that trade didn't work out, Lawson's value makes that trade more than worthwhile for the Nuggets.

Grade: B+

Detroit Pistons- Greg Monroe (7), Terrico White (36)

The Pistons got fantastic value from both of their picks. Monroe was by all accounts a top five pick, and the Pistons were thrilled to get him at #7. I'm a little wary about his fit in Detroit, but there's no question that Joe Dumars and company made the right choice. Terrico White is another guy with a wealth of upside, who probably deserved first round consideration. Again, I'm a little wary of his fit in Detroit because I'm not sold on him as a point guard. However, the NBA draft is about stockpiling valuable assets, and that's exactly what Detroit did.

Grade: A-

Golden State Warriors- Ekpe Udoh (6)

Udoh really impressed at his workout with the Warriors. Reports are that he won the team over by showing up in suit and dazzling with his personality as much as his basketball skill. Udoh will be a nice fit in Golden State, but his value at #6 is non-existent. The team could have moved back three, four, or maybe five slots and still gotten him along with another asset. They also could have selected Wake Forest's Al-Farouq Aminu, who is a very similar player with much higher upside.

Grade: D

Houston Rockets- Patrick Patterson (14)

I expected more action from the Rockets on draft night, but they were lucky to get a player like Patterson with the last pick in the lottery. He's one of the most NBA-ready players in the draft, and the Rockets' frontcourt situation moving forward (Yao Ming, Luis Scola, Jordan Hill, Chuck Hayes, and Patterson) is arguably the best in the NBA.

The Rockets just missed out on a playoff appearance in a very tough Western Conference last year, but I would be shocked to see them miss out in 2010-2011, regardless of Yao Ming's injury status. Darryl Morey is one of the best GMs in the game, and he has assembled a talented and deep roster, which should make waves sooner rather than later. I also wouldn't be surprised to see Houston involved in a sign-and-trade for someone this summer.

Grade: B+

Indiana Pacers- Paul George (10), Lance Stephenson (40), Magnum Rolle (51)

The Pacers got two players (George and Stephenson) who develop into starters down the line. George is somewhat risky because of the low level of competition against which he played at Fresno State, but he's arguably the most confident player in the draft. I love the fit of Stephenson for two reasons- first, he dropped out of the first and will have to fight to keep his career alive, and two, he'll be playing in Indianapolis, half a continent away from that city that declared him "The Chosen One". Rolle is a wild card. He has good athleticism, but lacks polish. I would be surprised to see him make the roster any time soon.

I still wonder whether the George pick is part of a larger trade plan that will take place sometime in July. Indiana was widely reported to be after a point guard, but was unable to find a suitable option. They had been in discussions with Minnesota for Jonny Flynn, and the Wolves are reportedly very high on George. Stay tuned for further developments.

Grade: B

Los Angeles Clippers- Al-Farouq Aminu (8), Eric Bledsoe (18), Willie Warren (54)

It pains me to say this, but the Clippers actually did a very competent job. I still believe that Aminu is more of a power forward at the next level, but if he can develop an outside jumper, he could certainly prove me wrong. Bledsoe will need some time to learn how to run a team, but Baron Davis should hold down the fort in the meantime. Warren was considered by some to be a top 5 pick before the season, so his value at #54 is astronomical. I like the idea of him re-uniting with former Sooner teammate Blake Griffin.

I wouldn't be surprised to see Warren as the Clippers' backup point guard on opening night with Bledsoe just outside of the active roster. In time, their roles will flip-flop, but for now, Warren is more ready to produce. The Clips may find themselves in the lottery again next year in a stacked Western Conference, but they're certainly stockpiling some nice pieces. The level of protection on the first rounder sent to Oklahoma City could be the defining factor in the Clippers' draft, but in any event, they added some pieces they really liked.

Grade: A-

Los Angeles Lakers- Devin Ebanks (43), Derrick Caracter (58)

Ebanks sank like a rock on draft night because he doesn't have any translatable NBA skills. He has great length and adequate athleticism, but he's far from being able to produce at the next level. With that said, his value at #43 is undeniable. Caracter was a highly touted high school recruit who finally started putting the pieces together after his transfer from Louisville to UTEP. He's very strong and has an NBA body, and I think he could be an upgrade over Josh Powell.

Grade: B-

Memphis Grizzlies- Xavier Henry (12), Greivis Vasquez (28)

Memphis wanted Paul George at #12, but settled for Henry, who I think will be a top 5 player from this class. His fit at small forward (likely in place of Rudy Gay) is questionable, but he has good size and he's very strong. Vasquez is very versatile and is a much better backup point option than Jamaal Tinsley.

Memphis has a very solid starting five, and they drafted size and more size in 2009 (Hasheem Thabeet and DeMarre Carroll), so a couple of guards this time around makes sense. Up next for Memphis is re-signing Rudy Gay at (almost) any cost.

Grade: B+

Miami Heat- Dexter Pittman (32), Jarvis Varnado (41), Da'Sean Butler (42)

Miami took an interesting stance in the lead up to the draft. They traded Daequan Cook and #18 (Eric Bledsoe) to Oklahoma City for #32, and then wasted that pick on a guy they could've gotten at #42 (Pittman). Conversely, Oklahoma City turned around and traded Miami's pick to the Clippers for a future first. Wouldn't Miami love to have a 2011 Clippers' first rounder in their back pocket? I understand that they need to clear cap room, but will an extra $2 M really make that big of a difference? Finding a new home for Michael Beasley would have made much more sense.

There other two picks were better. Varnado is a proven shot blocker and a very mature kid with a great attitude. Da'Sean Butler is a pure scorer with good size, who could make a nice impact at a very palatable cap number. Miami also traded the rights to their 48th pick (Latavious Williams) to Oklahoma City for a protected 2011 second rounder.

Miami did what they had to do to get Dwyane Wade a sidekick, but they may have showed their hand too early. Chicago turned around and one-upped them a day later, and it's beginning to look like the Heat will have to settle for a second tier free agent like Joe Johnson or Carlos Boozer.

Grade: C-

Milwaukee Bucks- Larry Sanders (15), Darington Hobson (37), Jerome Jordan (44), Tiny Gallon (47)

It's hard not to take the entire draft week into consideration when grading Milwaukee. Trades earlier in the week netted the Bucks scorers Corey Maggette and Chris Douglas-Roberts, which essentially stamps John Salmons' ticket out of town. Then the Bucks landed what amounts to an entire big man rotation (PF- Gallon, C- Jordan, PF/C- Sanders) on the night of the draft, along with another promising, versatile swing man (Hobson).

None of these players are overwhelmingly NBA-ready, but they all show some promise, with all but Jordan displaying significant upside. Best of all, Milwaukee only has to guarantee one rookie contract next season, providing them with some valuable roster and cap flexibility.

Grade: A-

Minnesota Timberwolves- Wesley Johnson (4), Lazar Hayward (30), Nemanja Bjelica (35), Paulao Prestes (45), Martell Webster (Trade)

David Kahn has officially done it again. After drafting four point guards last year (2 were traded away), the Wolves managed to outdo themselves, selecting 4 small forwards this time around, while trading one away for yet another three man. Johnson is a great athlete and shooter, but his ability to create his own shot is still somewhat suspect. Several experts have chosen him as the early ROY favorite, but only time will tell. Hayward was a huge reach at #30, and probably would have been available 15 picks later. Bjelica and Prestes are low-risk picks, but Bjelica recently signed a three year contract to stay in Europe, which reportedly includes $1 M buyouts after each season.

With cap space, draft picks, and expendable young assets, Minnesota was in position to make some huge improvements on draft night, but instead made one minor move and took several calculated risks. There is still a lot of summer left, and a sign-and-trade is a possibility, but Minnesota have really got their work cut out for them. They will almost certainly be a lottery team again next year, with a top 5 selection very likely.

Grade: D

New Jersey Nets- Derrick Favors (3), Damion James (24)

Favors may be raw, but he has as much potential as anyone in this class, including John Wall. He measured out splendidly at the Combine, and I have no doubt that he and Brook Lopez will be the best frontcourt tandem in the league within three years. The trio of Devin Harris, Terrence Williams, and Damion James gives the Nets a huge amount of flexibility. Assuming that Lopez would join those three on the floor, the group could be joined by a point, a two, a three, or a four without skipping a beat. James also adds a dimension of toughness that the hapless 2009-2010 Nets badly needed.

With a huge amount of available cap space, the Nets could still make a huge splash this summer, but the turnaround is already well underway. Assuming the team can stay healthy and add even a mid-level talent in free agency, they should challenge for an Eastern Conference playoff spot next season.

Grade: A-

New Orleans Hornets- Craig Brackins (21), Quincy Pondexter (26)

New Orleans' selection of Cole Aldrich made almost no sense, as Aldrich is a very similar player to Emeka Okafor. However, the Hornets were able to package his rights along with Morris Peterson's toxic contract to move down for two later first rounders. The Hornets made both picks count, acquiring arguably the best stretch four man (Brackins) and the most NBA-ready scorer (Pondexter) in the draft.

The Hornets added some quality talent to their roster, but more importantly they found a way to sneak in under the luxury tax threshold without conceding Chris Paul or David West.

Grade: B+

New York Knicks- Andy Rautins (38), Landry Fields (39)

The Knicks were at it again, taking two players that they clearly valued, but who may have been available as undrafted free agents. Rautins would have probably gotten snatched up somewhere in the 50's, but Fields wasn't on my or Chad Ford's top 100 list. His inclusion in the 30's was the single biggest surprise of the draft (aside from Wes Johnson's pants).

This summer is clearly a make-or-break period for one of the NBA's most storied franchises, and this was not a good start. Can you really travel to Ohio on July 1st and say, "Hey LeBron James, look at the two young prospects we brought in for you"? Absolutely not. There's no way that Rautins and Fields are names that will appeal to the NBA's elite. Players such as Lance Stephenson, Willie Warren, Devin Ebanks, Jerome Jordan, Tiny Gallon, Gani Lawal, and Solomon Alabi were all available, and the Knicks decided on Rautins and Fields instead!?! Please. Good luck throwing max money in Rudy Gay's direction and letting him bring you back to the promised land.

Grade: Is there anything lower than an F?

Oklahoma City Thunder- Cole Aldrich (11), Tibor Pleiss (31), Latavious Williams (48), Ryan Reid (57), Morris Peterson (Trade), Daequan Cook (Trade)

Someone call 911 because Sam Presti just murdered the draft AGAIN. Presti took back one bad contract (Peterson) and one bi-annual level contract (Cook) in order to move up from #21 and #26 to #11 and #18. Hey then traded the 18th pick to the Clippers for a future first, which depending on the protection level could easily be a lottery pick sooner rather than later. But he wasn't done. Presti traded cash for arguably the most valuable non-lottery pick in the draft (#31), drafting a promising young 7-footer (Pleiss) to stash in Europe for a year or two. He also traded a future second rounder for the rights to high school-to-D League forward Latavious Williams, and moved down 7 spots from #51 to #58, recouped a little cash, and drafted Ryan Reid, an absolute unknown who averaged only 6.8 points per game as a senior at Florida State.

Grade: A

Orlando Magic- Daniel Orton (29), Stanley Robinson (59)

Boy was I wrong about the Magic's draft plans. Orlando has surrounded two highly paid centers (Dwight Howard and Marcin Gortat) by myriad shooters. With their two picks, however, they picked the draft's biggest project (Orton), and one of its poorest shooters (Robinson).

Grade: C-

Philadelphia 76ers- Evan Turner (2)

Philadelphia did the right thing at #2, even though I'm still concerned with their roster's ability to shoot from the outside and stretch the floor. Andre Iguodala could still be on his way out of Philly, but I would be surprised to see a move unless the 76ers could fetch proper value.

As talented as Turner is, I still believe the 2010-2011 76ers will be a high lottery team, with a top 5 pick very likely.

Grade: B

Phoenix Suns- Gani Lawal (46), Dwayne Collins (60)

Lawal and Collins are two of the three best rebounders in the class, along with Trevor Booker, who was picked at #23 and traded to the Washington Wizards. Each player constitutes significant value, and with Amare Stoudemire potentially on his way out, the Suns did have a need up front. However, the similarities between the two players are remarkable, and the need for both is inexplicable.

Grade: C-

Portland Trail Blazers- Luke Babbit (16), Elliot Williams (22), Armon Johnson (34), Ryan Gomes (Trade)

Portland got a little bit of everything in the draft. Babbit is a good rebounder and shooter, while Williams is a slasher, and Johnson is a play-maker. They dealt soon-to-be sixth year small forward Martell Webster for the rights to Babbit and Ryan Gomes, who's non-guaranteed contract was dumped needlessly by the Timberwolves.

The Blazers have a huge amount of depth on their perimeter with Brandon Roy, Andre Miller, Rudy Fernandez, Jerryd Bayless, Nicolas Batum, Babbit, and Williams guaranteed deals for next year, and Johnson likely to join the roster as well. Power forward is still a need, as the drop off between LaMarcus Aldridge and backup Juwan Howard is enormous. Perhaps Fernandez will be moved for a veteran big man, but we'll have to stay tuned.

Grade: B

Almost forgot, owner Paul Allen fired well-respected GM Kevin Pritchard just hours before the draft, then expected Pritchard to finish out the draft. What a guy!

Grade: F

Sacramento Kings- DeMarcus Cousins (5), Hassan Whiteside (33)

Cousins and Whiteside each have huge upside, and if both can keep their personalities in check, Sacramento will be well on their way to title contention. With that said, my first reaction to the Whiteside choice was "I wonder if the Kings can hire Ron Artest's (now infamous) psychiatrist".

Grade: A

San Antonio Spurs- James Anderson (20), Ryan Richards (49)

San Antonio was very pleased to have two players they coveted fall right into their laps. Anderson struggles to create his own shot, but he is a great scorer, and he's widely regarded as the best outside shooter in the class. Richards is a 7-footer from England, who has a limited resume, but showed good athleticism at the Combine.

Grade: B-

Toronto Raptors- Ed Davis (13), Solomon Alabi (50)

I was surprised to see the Raptors end the night without a point guard, but I must say, they may have gotten as much value out of their picks as anyone in the league. Davis was considered a possibility as high as #7, and Alabi was thought to be a first round prospect before tumbling on draft night.

Chris Bosh is almost certainly headed for a United States address this summer, and a sign-and-trade makes the most sense, but Davis and Alabi should mitigate the need to receive a big man in return. With that said, I think the Cleveland Cavaliers actually gained the most from the Raptors' draft. A package of Mo Williams, Delonte West, JJ Hickson, and picks would be pretty tempting to Toronto as they're currently constructed.

Grade: B

Utah Jazz- Gordon Hayward (9), Jeremy Evans (55)

Gordon Hayward is considered a sexy pick after Butler's NCAA tournament run, but his value at #9 is less than ideal. A big man or a combo forward like Luke Babbit would have made more sense at that spot. Utah hoped to address their frontcourt needs by drafting Evans at #55, but his was another surprising selection. Evans was steady at Western Kentucky, shooting 62% or better in each of his four seasons, but he never averaged more than 10 points or 7 rebounds, which doesn't bode well for his transition from the Ohio Valley Conference to the NBA.

Grade: C

Washington Wizards- John Wall (1), Kevin Seraphin (17), Trevor Booker (23), Hamady N'Diaye (56), Kirk Hinrich (Trade)

Washington is in the midst of a huge transition, and it's clear that their focus was at the point and the post. They managed to acquire John Wall (and his dance) and a veteran backup (Hinrich), which pushes Gilbert Arenas even farther out of the picture. They also selected one NBA-ready big man (Booker) and two projects (Seraphin and N'Diaye), which exemplifies their re-building status.

Arenas needs to be moved, no matter what the cost. His burden at this point likely outweighs his undeniable talent, but there is likely someone out there who will be willing to accept both his contract and his personality, although another asset would likely have to be attached.

Grade: B+

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