Handing out grades for the NBA draft
For more NBA draft coverage, check out NBADraft.net.
Another year, another crazy draft.
Thursday, June 24, 2010, will go down as the day John Wall was officially drafted and a million trades – none as substantial as rumors suggested – were made. Picks were swapped left and right, a general manager was fired, and it was a mess trying to sort it all out.
But after digging through the final results of draft day, we've come out with a set of winners and losers. Detroit had the best draft, getting Greg Monroe and Terrico White in good positions. Golden State made the worst pick of the day, taking Baylor's Ekpe Udoh sixth overall.
But it's easiest to break it down team-by-team:
Atlanta Hawks: C-plus
Neither of these players were tremendous value picks, but both have the potential to be good contributors down the road. Crawford is a bit of a redundancy with Jamal Crawford, an eerily similar scoring combo guard, already on the roster. But if Joe Johnson leaves, as many have speculated, there will be enough playing time available that Crawford could find a rotation spot, too. Sy is a project, but if he's left abroad for a few years, he could be a nice point-forward type one day. The Hawks get a bonus plus on their grade for a trade that got them No. 27 and No. 31 (which they traded to Oklahoma City) for No. 24, even if they didn't use the picks perfectly.
Boston Celtics: B
There's a lot to like about Bradley teaming with Rajon Rondo in the future. Defensively, you couldn't come up with a much better backcourt. It was important for Bradley to land on a team that didn't need him to play point full-time but would also give him the opportunity to learn the position. Harangody is a value along the same lines as Glen Davis and Leon Powe of previous drafts – a highly productive college player who should be better than Brian Scalabrine, for what that's worth. Neither was a “great” pick, but both were solid and earn a solid grade.
Charlotte Bobcats: I
The rumors abounded that Charlotte would try to slip into this draft, but nothing happened
Chicago Bulls: I
Kirk Hinrich and the No. 17 pick for a future second rounder? This whole LeBron James fiasco better work out for Chicago, because they're mortgaging their future. For a team with Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah – both potential All-Stars – Chicago isn't showing any interest in traditional team building. If they land James, Dwyane Wade or some combination of the other group of free agents, this draft will have worked out just fine for Chicago. If not, they deserve an F for trading a good role player and a potential starter (the No. 17 pick) for essentially nothing.
Cleveland Cavaliers: I
Both of their picks were gone, and the Cavaliers had no real interest in this draft. It's easy to understand why they might have their minds on July 1 more than June 24.
Dallas Mavericks: B
Pick: Dominique Jones (25)
The South Florida guard is a really nice player to add to a team that could use a true shooting guard. Jones is not a combo guard, and while he could use an inch or two, his 6-foot-9 wingspan should make up for height issues at the two. Trading Solomon Alabi for future pick(s) was a smart move as they were able to turn a late second-rounder into multiple picks.
Denver Nuggets: I
Denver entered draft day without a pick but with a clear second-round target, UTEP forward Derrick Caracter. According to reports, they tried to pry him from the Lakers but were unsuccessful. As a result, there's nothing here to give a grade on.
Detroit Pistons: A
Cheer for your team, Detroit. The Pistons land two excellent picks, one filling the team's biggest need. Monroe should start from Day 1 in a desperately weak frontcourt. White might be the draft's top athlete, and while he doesn't fit a need for Detroit, at No. 36, he's a tremendous value pick. He has the potential to be better than Rodney Stuckey, but could also play with Stuckey if and when the team lets Richard Hamilton go.
Golden State Warriors: D
Pick: Ekpe Udoh (6)
The draft's biggest riser, Udoh simply is not good enough to be drafted No. 6 overall. He's awkward and not particularly skilled, but tested out well in workouts thanks to his length and good matchups – he told NBADraft.net he was most often paired with centers Cole Aldrich and Hassan Whiteside instead of power forwards. In addition, the Warriors have a pair of young, athletic forwards in Anthony Randolph and Brandan Wright, both of whom have more potential than Udoh should they ever stay healthy. To sum it up, the Warriors took the 20th-best player in the draft with the sixth pick. The only saving grace was they didn't have a second-round pick to mess up.
Houston Rockets: A-minus
Pick: Patrick Patterson (14)
Patterson's been high on our big board (No. 6 in the final rankings) for three years, and he's a wonderful value pick at No. 14. Leave it to Daryl Morey, without a doubt a top general manager, to ignore need and take the best available player when he sees it. Patterson will have to fight for playing time with Luis Scola, Jordan Hill and Chuck Hayes, but he's so ready for this level he could easily force Hill to center and Scola to the bench by season's end. It's a shame we didn't get to see Morey work his second-round magic, as he did last year in nabbing Chase Budinger.
Indiana Pacers: B-plus
Larry Bird took a risk! And then he took another and another! The Pacers are known for drafting proven college players such as Brandon Rush, Tyler Hansbrough and Roy Hibbert. George was a departure from that ideology, one that has left the team mired in mediocrity. He's got great upside and looks a lot like Rudy Gay, but there's understandable concern that he is turnover prone, makes poor decisions and played low-level competition at Fresno State. Stephenson could be very good, and at No. 40, his massive risk factor – egotism being the primary concern – is acceptable. Rolle played in the WAC with George but is the type of athlete the Pacers' frontcourt needs. The big question here is, how will George and Danny Granger play together? They share many of the same traits. Still, good – and refreshing – picks from Indiana.
Los Angeles Clippers: A-minus
The Clippers had two needs entering this draft: a small forward and a young point guard to eventually replace Baron Davis. They used their first pick on the bigger need, then acquired a cheap second first-rounder (future first-rounder) to fill the other. Then they took a risk on a guy with some character issues and a ton of talent in the second round. It was a textbook draft by a team that's really starting to turn things around. Bledsoe and Aminu weren't incredible values, but Warren puts this draft into A-range, as a year ago he looked like a future top-10 pick. Let's not forget, they've got the Rookie of the Year favorite waiting in the wings in last year's No. 1 pick, Blake Griffin.
Los Angeles Lakers: A
No team had a better second round, and there's a lot to be said for that. Many question whether Ebanks will ever put it all together, but he has vast potential and should fit right in for a team that could use an athletic defender on the wing. Caracter is the ultimate risk-reward player, with knocks on just about everything players get knocked for but more talent than some NBA starters. At Nos. 43 and 58, respectively, both were great values. What more can you ask for from the defending champs?
Memphis Grizzlies: B-minus
A forward might have been a better fit with Rudy Gay's potential departure and Zach Randolph's upcoming free agency, but Henry and Vasquez were both good picks. Henry was 12th on NBADraft.net's big board, while Vasquez is a perfect fit to play alongside O.J. Mayo in the backcourt. It remains to be seen how playing time will be distributed – Vasquez is likely to come off the bench but Henry could end up starting at either wing spot, depending on what happens with Gay. He's not a natural small forward and would be giving up size, but he shouldn't be a liability at the position. That option seems better than moving Mayo to point, where his selfishness could cause issues for a team loaded with solid scorers. Vasquez is the draft's best passer and a good bet to push Mike Conley for playing time, if Mayo is kept at shooting guard. Selling Dominique Jones to Dallas makes sense.
Miami Heat: C
Three second-rounders, and the picks kept getting better and better. Pittman was a big reach, but if the Heat can solve his weight concerns, they might find a decent player. Varnado is one-dimensional. And Butler has injury concerns but was a top-20 pick at one point. In addition, the Heat kept their massive available cap space by avoiding first rounders and ditching Daequan Cook, who wasn't particularly valuable. Giving up the No. 18 pick wasn't pretty, but it was what the team wanted.
Milwaukee Bucks: C
Perhaps the most interesting set of picks in the draft, Milwaukee landed several potentially valuable players. Sanders, Jordan and Gallon all could be busts, but they also could provide the boost in size Milwaukee needs. The Bucks were exposed inside when Andrew Bogut went out late last season, and Sanders can provide a future complement to Bogut while also occasionally sliding over to center. For every pound Sanders needs to add, Gallon needs to lose two. But he's got a lot of skill and plays like an oversized Antoine Walker, in both a good and bad way. Hobson and Jordan are mediocre picks, and both could never play a minute in the league or find their way into the Bucks' rotation. Milwaukee made two trades, for Corey Maggette and Chris Douglas-Roberts, that we like but won't include in the grade because they didn't involve picks.
Minnesota Timberwolves: C-plus
Johnson was the right pick. Sure, DeMarcus Cousins has more upside, but Johnson was the best fit for a team that has a few upside guys already and needed support on the wings and outside shooting desperately. Hayward was a pleasant surprise, a hard-working player who came into his own as a senior and could be an immediate contributor off the bench. He's similar to Jared Dudley, who was great for Phoenix this year. Bjelica has the potential to be a fantastic player down the road, and he and Hayward for the 23rd pick was a great deal. Prestes is a developmental prospect taken without much risk, though there were better players on the board. The confusing move was the decision to trade the No. 16 pick (Luke Babbitt) and Ryan Gomes to Portland for Martell Webster. Babbitt should be better than Webster by himself, and if they didn't like him, there were plenty of other good options available.
New Jersey Nets: B-plus
Favors might be the second-best prospect in this draft class, so getting him third was definitely the right move for the Nets. There may still be trades to come, but this haul is a good one. They overpaid a bit for James, as mentioned in the Hawks' analysis, but he should be a good player from Day 1 for a team that could use a stalwart small forward. Favors and Brook Lopez are a tantalizing post duo. Selling the 31st pick makes sense as this team tries to free up cap space.
New Orleans Hornets: C
Neither of these picks were of particularly good or bad value, but trading down makes some sense for the Hornets. I would have liked to see them add a wing who can shoot, but they chose to go with a power forward who can shoot and a wing who can't. The trade of No. 11 for Nos. 21 and 26 wasn't the greatest but it makes some sense given the Hornets' need for bodies. If they could have pried the 18th pick from Oklahoma City instead, that would have been a better value.
New York Knicks: D-plus
Rautins has the potential to develop into a solid rotation player with his shooting ability and good basketball mind. He even ran the offense for Syracuse on occasion, and he's a good passer and selfless player. Even so, the value wasn't particularly great taking him so early in the second round. There were clearly better players available, and Rautins wasn't even assured of being picked at all. Fields was a plain old blunder. Players like him are a dime a dozen in the D-League, and that will be where he heads right away – and probably stays for a while. There were better uses for these picks.
Oklahoma City Thunder: C-plus
Easily the winner for the most confusing draft, the Thunder have a great general manager, Sam Presti, who outworks his competition. They entered the draft with one glaring weakness, at center, and addressed it with two decent big men available. Aldrich could start right away ahead of Nenad Krstic, and they got him for good value in a deal with New Jersey. Buying Pleiss was a nice move that could pay off one day. Reid was a big reach who wouldn't have stood a chance of being drafted had the Thunder not went out on a limb with him. Williams is an exciting, energetic player who showed a lot of mental toughness in the D-League last year and improved quite a bit for Tulsa thoughout the year. In short, no great picks but a pair that could be useful in building a promising future in the small market. The Clippers' future first-rounder should end up better than the No. 18 overall they traded for it, though Eric Bledsoe would have been a nice addition.
Orlando Magic: A-minus
Orlando had a simple draft: two low picks, two very good values. Orton was never worthy of the lottery hype some analysts gave him, but at 29th overall, the Magic can afford the risk and potentially reap the reward. Robinson was easily the best player available at No. 59. It's refreshing to see a team not overthink anything and just make solid choices.
Philadelphia 76ers: A-minus
Pick: Evan Turner (2)
There's not much to say here. The Sixers took the man they wanted, the man their fans wanted and the man many felt was the best player available second overall. With John Wall being such an obvious first pick, they had plenty of time to sort through their possibilities. An argument for Derrick Favors is certainly valid, but there's a lot to like with Turner. His fit in Philadelphia depends largely on Andre Iguodala's future with the team.
Phoenix Suns: A-minus
Both power forwards were great value picks with no risk as second-rounders. Either one of these ACC products could crack the Suns' rotation this season potentially, and both will help on the boards, which fills a big need. No one should have any complaints, seeing as this team doesn't even have a general manager right now.
Portland Trail Blazers: A-minus
The Blazers reportedly turned down trade offers for swingman Nic Batum, including perhaps the No. 4 overall pick, so Babbitt will almost certainly be coming off the bench for the foreseeable future. Still, acquiring Babbitt and Ryan Gomes for Martell Webster is a great trade on Kevin Pritchard's final day as the Portland general manager. Williams and Johnson are redundant, even moreso when Jerryd Bayless is factored into the equation. But Williams has long been seen as Portland's man, and he may play shooting guard to replace Rudy Fernandez, who reportedly is on the trading block. None of these picks were a reach, but the Blazers failed to get needed help up front.
Sacramento Kings: A-minus
Another excellent draft day for Sacramento, which is quickly developing a reputation for top scouting. Cousins and Whiteside have been compared to Eddy Curry and Tyson Chandler, respectively, by cynics, and similar to that duo, they'll play together to start their careers. The difference: Chicago took Curry fourth and Chandler second. There's a chance both of these guys could be stars. There's also a chance both could be busts, as each has major character issues. I'd expect at least one – and likely both – to pan out as at least solid players. Whiteside is really a tremendous value pick.
San Antonio Spurs: B-plus
The Spurs win 50 games every year for a reason, and it's not just Tim Duncan. Anderson should step in right away and contribute. He's similar to a young, albeit less explosive, Michael Finley. Richards wowed a lot of people in workouts and though he's a long ways off could prove to be a nice find despite a lack of experience.
Toronto Raptors: B
The Raptors can replace their lefty power forward with a lefty power forward. Davis is no Chris Bosh, but he has a lot of upside and it's doubtful the wrist injury that ended his season will have serious effects on his career. Raptors Assistant GM Masai Ujiri was instrumental in bringing him to the U.S., so it's fitting that he ends up in Toronto. Alabi was once built up as a top-20 pick, so getting him at 50 was a good value. Davis and Andrea Bargnani will make for one skinny frontcourt, but the potential is there.
Utah Jazz: C
Hayward falls somewhere between a reach and an OK pick. Paul George or Luke Babbitt would have been better choices to fill a void on the wing, but Hayward should do well in Utah's system. Outside of Ryan Reid, Evans was probably the most surprising pick of the draft. A relative unknown, the springy Western Kentucky power forward is under 200 pounds and averaged just 10 points and 6.9 rebounds per game as a senior.
Washington Wizards: A-minus
There's nothing left to say about Wall. He's the right pick. He's going to be a star. The trade to acquire Kirk Hinrich and Seraphin for a future second-rounder was brilliant, while the deal that sent the 30th and 35th picks to Minnesota for No. 23 was a stretch. Booker does fit this team's needs, though. This was a draft that could change Washington's future. And they didn't mess it up, even if they could have maximized it slightly better.