Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Draft Grades

Atlanta: The Hawks didn’t do anything stupid like passing up on the (most likely) best player in the draft. Maybe all the Deron Williams talk was an attempt to add a first round pick by trading down. That wouldn’t have been a bad idea since most teams made a hash of the second half of the lottery. Chad Ford thinks Salim Stoudamire was a bad pick because the Hawks already have Tony Delk.


I may not have Chad Ford’s credentials or contacts, but I’m pretty sure that a) Tony Delk won’t be on the next good Hawks team and b) NBA teams don’t base their draft strategy around 32-year-old backup combo guards with a career eFG% of .458 and an assist-to-turnover ratio under 2:1. Also, Cenk Akyol. B+

Boston: Pierce, Davis, LaFrentz, Blount, Allen, Jefferson, Banks, West, Perkins, Reed, Green, Gomes, maybe Greene, maybe Payton or Walker...your 2005-06 Boston Celtics. That’s not a perfect roster, but it is a lot of young talent. Gerald Green gives Danny Ainge either a Paul Pierce or Ricky Davis exit strategy. Ryan Gomes will help the second unit score off of something other than turnovers or Ricky Davis improvisations. Orien Greene might not make the team, but he’s a reasonable gamble for a team that hasn’t settled on a point guard yet. A

Charlotte: I’m higher on Raymond Felton than most so I don’t think taking him with the fifth pick is anything to get worked up about, especially if his presence will help sell tickets. Taking Sean May rather than Granger, Wright, Green, or Warrick is another story entirely. May, Okafor, and Brezec create a logjam for the Bobcats in the paint. I like Sean May. The Lakers or Magic, for example, could have made immediate use of his skills.

Quick guide to reading draft grade reports: if the grader doesn't mention Primoz Brezec when discussing the May pick, assume he's either lazy or incompetent. B-

Chicago: No draft.

Cleveland: The Martynas Andriuskevicius video had me watching from between my fingers. Good practice for going to see LAND OF THE DEAD, I guess. Most everything the Cavs front office has done since getting Gooden and Varejao for Tony Battie has been inexplicable. Andriuskevicius will have less impact on the court in Cleveland than either Dajuan Wagner or DeSagana Diop. F

Dallas: No draft.

Denver: Julius Hodge should get along great with George Karl and be a useful player on the wing for years to come. However, he is not the shooter the Nuggets needed and still lack. Nice pick. Good start to draft night.

Then, Kiki trades the rights to Jarrett Jack for the rights to Linas Kleiza and seven-foot high school small forward Ricky Sanchez. There is no way that will prove to be a good decision. Kleiza’s shot selection, turnovers, and poor defense will permanently disgust Karl by Thanksgiving and Ricky Sanchez is, I repeat, a seven-foot high school small forward. Also, John Calipari encouraged signee Sanchez to turn pro rather than come to Memphis. Axel Hervelle has an intriguing stat line from his year with Real Madrid. He played better in Euroleague games than in the ACB, so that’s something. C-

Detroit: If Jason Maxiell proves able to guard small forwards at least some of the time, he’ll be a good pick. Amir Johnson looked overwhelmed at the McDonald’s game and turned pro because he couldn’t qualify to play at Louisville. That’s the sort of risk a good franchise can afford to take. Alex Acker was a good shooter at Pepperdine and played a little point there as well. There are a ton of guys his size with similar skill sets. He’ll need to take advantage of his opportunities. B-

Golden State: It seems that I might have misjudged the Baron Davis trade. It worked for the Warriors down the stretch last year and may have been the start of a new era in Oakland. The Warriors still must have Davis healthy for most of next year to think about sneaking into the 8th spot out West. Ike Digou was the second best player in the draft and will form a fine partnership with Troy Murphy up front.

People talk about Taft slipping in the draft because of a poor work ethic, but that's only half of his problem. He has a poor work ethic and no basketball skills. Strcitly an athlete at this time. If Adonal Foyle can successfully mentor Chris Taft and someone teaches Taft some basketball skills, then that’ll be a good use of second-round pick. I’m extremely skeptical of Monta Ellis, a twenty-year-old high-school senior with a bad knee. A-

Houston: Luther Head is an excellent addition to Houston’s backcourt. Neither Head nor Sura is an ideal point guard, but they can both play basketball (as can Mike James). McGrady’s going to handle the ball a lot anyway and Van Gundy might someday make full use of Yao’s passing skills so it’s not like Houston needs a pure point in the worst way. A

Indiana: Danny Granger is a better basketball player than Martell Webster today. Danny Granger will be a better basketball player than Martell Webster in 2008, in 2010, in 2012, etc., etc. Repeat the above, replacing Webster’s name with Charlie Villanueva’s name. Then with Channing Frye’s name. Then with Andrew Bynum’s name. Then with Fran Vazquez’s name. Then with Yaroslav Korolev’s name. Then with Sean May’s name. Then with Rashad McCants’ name. Then with Joey Graham’s name. Next, consider that Toronto, Charlotte, and Minnesota all desperately need a small forward.

Granger going seventeenth is the height of lunacy. One of those teams that passed on Granger will now likely trade for Artest or Stephen Jackson and make the Pacers even better. Needless to say, there aren’t 30 well-run NBA franchises. Erazem Lorbek should provide a functional frontcourt presence to replace either Jeff Foster or Scot Pollard. A+

Los Angeles Clippers: I’ve never seen Yaroslav Korolev play but apparently he might be ready to help in three years. You know who could help in three years: Danny Granger or Hakim Warrick. They both also have the added ability to help in two years or in one year or next week while making a sign-and-trade of Bobby Simmons a possibility if some team provides a great offer. I’ve always liked Daniel Ewing and, unlike Chris Duhon, I do not yet know for a fact that he can’t guard NBA guards. Ewing could be a decent backup point guard, but I am worried that his shooting percentage dropped when he moved to the point last year. F

Los Angeles Lakers: They should have taken Sean May or Jarrett Jack or traded up for somebody good (especially if that trade would have moved Luke Walton to a team that would let him play). I wrote about Bynum yesterday and all that still holds. He’s an unnecessary risk. Both of the second-round picks could work out. Turiaf lacks much of a post-up game but, when healthy, he’s active on both ends of the floor. Von Wafer is at least 90% of the player Rashad McCants is. Wafer is also at least 90% as crazy/moody as McCants. Wafer could be Cuttino Mobley or he could be Joe Forte. C-

Memphis: The Grizzlies have a lot of good players which is a great way to get into the playoffs consistently. They have no great players which makes things difficult once they reach the playoffs. Hakim Warrick strengthens the team without really making them better. It’s not his fault it’s just how it is. Nobody available at 19 was going to push Memphis over the top. Lawrence Roberts is not as good as Brian Cardinal so he can’t even hope to get paid handsomely coming off of a fluke season for a horrible team. B

Miami: Simien might be better than Udonis Haslem right now so he’ll both fill a role alongside Shaq and Mourning in the frontcourt and marginally increase Miami’s cap flexibility to augment Eddie Jones on the wing. B

Milwaukee: I don’t think Andrew Bogut will be a bad player, but there were better players in the draft and any team whose third best player has just been cleared to play after missing 15 months with a spinal cord injury needs to maximize a number-one pick. This year, maximizing the pick would have constituted trading down and picking up an extra first-round pick. Ilyasova is really young and really inexperienced. Presumably he’s talented. B-

Minnesota: Rashad McCants is basically Ben Gordon with serious concerns about his personality and attitude undermining the value of his one skill: scoring. The only explanation for selecting Bracey Wright is that Minnesota panicked after the Louis Williams pick and feared there was about to be a run on small guards who can’t dribble, pass, or shoot effectively. D

New Jersey: The Nets would have been happy to take Charlie Villanueva, but the Raptors went nuts even for the Raptors. May and Diogu were gone as well and Simien wouldn’t be an ideal fit in their frontcourt. I assume they were choosing between Granger, Warrick, and Wright. I think they took the least good player, but Wright isn’t a bad player and adding good players to the roster can’t do you any harm. If Wright’s selection means that the Nets will play some 4-guard sets and spread the floor like the Sonics did last year, I’m all for it. According to, Mile Ilic has played in 70 games over the past three years. I doubt he’s ready in the near future. B-

New Orleans: Chris Paul is the best offensive player in the draft. His current defensive limitations may be exposed on a bad team but I suspect that (they're alleged to exist) Hornets fans will take to the presence of an actual star and allow him time to develop a well-rounded game. Brandon Bass could be a starter in three years. He’s a good talent who is still immature. I’d rather have his future than David West’s. A

New York: When I wrote yesterday that Channing Frye wouldn’t be that bad a pick, I assumed that Danny Granger wouldn’t be an option for the Knicks. That Granger was available and Isiah passed on an actual multi-dimensional basketball player speaks ill, yet again, for the future of the franchise. Frye will be better than Loren Woods, but he’ll never be more than a mid-range jump shooter who doesn’t especially like to rebound and can only block shots as a help-side defender. A slightly more physical Tim Thomas, with reduced range, if you will.

Nate Robinson will make Jamal Crawford’s contract look even worse. I think Robinson’s the better player of the two today. Depending on who the Knicks hire to coach the team, Crawford could struggle to get any minutes next year depending on whether Quentin Richardson spends most of his time at the 2 or the 3.

David Lee is an exceptional athlete with limited skills in the low-post and a decent face-up game to 15 feet. He could become the best of Isiah’s collection of backup power forwards before the end of the '06-'07 season. B-

Orlando: For what it’s worth, Fran Vazquez had the most impressive grainy video highlights of any of the European players. It’s not hard to match the contributions of Kelvin Cato and Tony Battie so Vazquez might partner Dwight Howard fairly soon. I’m not sure that Diener has a place on a team with Steve Francis and Jameer Nelson. I don’t see a backcourt rotation of those three plus DeShawn Stevenson will stop many opposing backcourts from scoring. Also, Marcin Gortat. C

Philadelphia: Louis Williams doesn’t posses a single aspect of basketball ability that translates to the NBA. F

Phoenix: Dijon Thompson might make the nine-man rotation during the regular season, but it’s doubtful he’ll get any run in the playoffs next year. After they pay Joe Johnson, the Suns will still need one more guy even assuming Barbosa starts delivering on his promise. D-

Portland: Taking Martell Webster sixth is dumb. Those who like him more than I do don’t rate his potential as any greater than Glen Rice or Dale Ellis. That’s useful but a waste of the sixth pick, especially considering the Blazers added Kirk Snyder and Gordan Giricek in the trade with Utah. Trading Linas Kleiza and Ricky Sanchez for Jarrett Jack is brilliant in and of itself but Sebastian Telfair looked better than I expected last year. Jack will beat out Telfair if given the chance, but more probably he'll get some minutes slightly out of position at the two, thus stunting the development of Snyder and Webster and rendering Giricek useless. C+

Sacramento: I guess they weren’t overly impressed with Kevin Martin. Garcia’s as good a player as you could wish to get late in the first round. B+

San Antonio: You know that I don’t know the first thing about Ian Mahinmi. My question then is this: considering Mike Tirico’s laughably poor math allowing for the interpretation that since 24% of the players in the NBA were second-round picks then 1 in 4 second round picks make the Association along which lines it would follow that since 16% of the players were undrafted that I, being undrafted, have a 1 in 6 chance of playing in the league AND I have a French surname, should I get in touch with the San Antonio or Seattle front offices? C+

Seattle: In three or four years, we’ll all have an idea as whether drafting Petro and Gelabale was brilliant, reasonable, or simply inefficient. C

Toronto: Poor Chris Bosh.

Rob Babcock managed to pass on the player he should have taken twice in the first round. Instead of taking Danny Granger, he took a soft, unmotivated player (Charlie Villanueva, who to be fair is better than Rafael Araujo and Loren Woods if they drafted him in order to play him out of position) who plays the same position as the only good player on the team. Nine picks later, he takes an inferior player (the uni-dimensional Joey Graham) who plays the same position as the guy he again should have drafted (Granger). Roko Ukic is an upgrade over Milt Palacio should Skip To My Lou be unavailable because Sam Mitchell made him cry or knocked him unconscious. Also, Uros Slokar at best provides further redundancy at power forward. D

Utah: I think Deron Williams was the third best point guard available, but there wasn’t much separating Williams, Paul, and Felton from each other so he’s by no means a horrible pick. However, apparently the 27th and 34th picks could have turned into Jarrett Jack who isn’t far behind Williams in terms of his development and may outstrip Deron’s talents. The Jazz then could have taken Danny Granger with the sixth pick, still had Snyder and Giricek, and run a couple of waves of guys out alongside Kirilenko.

If it’s true, I have no idea why CJ Miles would stay in the draft planning to go to Texas if he fell to the second round. If he goes to Texas, the Jazz own his rights until he leaves school. Can they trade his rights while he’s in school? What sort of offer can/must they make to keep his rights once he leaves Texas? If he doesn’t like their offer must he sit out for a year, then re-enter the draft? Or, if he sits out a year, does he then become a free agent?

Robert Whaley has been run out of the Missouri and Cincinnati basketball programs. It would make the less generous portions of my personality tickle if the sanctimonious Utah fans blithely cheer for him. B-

Washington: Everybody raves about Andray Blatche’s talent, but I don’t believe any college team bothered to sign him, he didn’t make the McDonald’s game, and he lasted until the 49th pick in the draft. That might add up to something, but I don’t really know. C-

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