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-

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Final Pre-Draft Thoughts

I'm softening on the idea of the Knicks taking Channing Frye. Not that he'll be the best available player at #8 or because he's likely to be a good player. The Knicks have two good players: Marbury and Mike Sweetney. That precludes them from taking a point guard (if available) or Ike Diogu. Their next best players are Jamal Crawford, Tim Thomas, and either Kurt Thomas or Quentin Richardson. Unless Isiah can trick some GM into taking Crawford or Thomas the younger off his hands, he won't be able to make use of Granger, Wright, Joey Graham, or Hakim Warrick. Selecting Channing Frye might be the first step not toward a championship but to half-way sensible roster construction. Unfortunately previous missteps may force the Knicks to ignore many players better than Frye. That needn't be disastrous. Someone useful should be available at #30 as well.

Beware Andrew Bynum. Pundits seem to be talking themselves into approving the potential selection of Bynum somewhere in the lottery because of Eddy Curry's improved play last year. Curry did improve last year but he still can't rebound, block even one shot per game, catch passes, or pass out of a double-team. And the Bulls (even leaving aside health concerns) have to decide at this moment in time whether to again invest a significant amount of the franchise's future in a slightly above average center who is definitely still young but may or may not still be developing.

Very few big men have to play basketball at the high school level. Their physical gifts exist in such stark contrast to the majority of their opponents that they have no need to develop the type of game necessary to take on the best basketball players in the world. The best high school big men struggle when they advance to college basketball where the upper limit of talent and size consists of Diogu, Bogut, May, Warrick, Simien, and Frye rather than Duncan, Garnett, Shaq, Stoudemire, and Ben Wallace.

Josh McRoberts is generally, almost universally, considered a better player now and a better prospect for the future than Andrew Bynum. McRoberts will struggle at times next year for Duke playing against Eric Williams and Ikene Ebekwe.

Bynum could be great at some point in the future, but I think the chance that he never develops into even a solid contributor combined with the chance that the drafting team spends the time and money to develop his talents only for him to use those talents for another team on his second contract makes drafting him an unnecessary risk.

I've got no problem with Andrew Bynum (or Brandon Rush or any other 18-year-old) not wanting to go to college, but far more important than instituting an age-limit, it's incumbent upon the NBA to create and maintain a developmental system for players who don't wish to attend college. The current system of drafting players who, like Bynum, have no chance of contributing immediately and sticking them at the end of the bench for two or three years while expectations for them fester benefits neither the teams nor the players.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

2005 NBA Draft Preview

I'm ignoring all the international players and most of the high school kids out of ignorance. I'll wait to provide my speculations on them until I see 20 seconds of grainy videotape on Tuesday night. Individual analysis in alphabetical order, followed by some rankings.

I do think the new CBA, especially the expansion of the D-League into a true minor league, will encourage teams to take risks with their second round picks as they won't have to relinquish their rights to American players who aren't yet ready to play in the Association. Thus, more four-year guys who project as nothing more than role players will go undrafted, hopefully benefiting from the freedom to find a situation that makes sense for them.

Yes, I'd watch minor league professional basketball.

Alan Anderson: There are going to be some decent players available at the start of the second round. It wouldn't be at all dumb for a good team to take him at the end of the first round and make use of Anderson's versatility. The early departures of Erazem Lorbek and Marcus Taylor forced Tom Izzo to play Anderson at both the point and inside at times.

Sean Banks: The new rules/procedures for the NBDL make Banks slightly more valuable. Somebody was going to take him in the second round anyway. He's talented enough to make a team, but the fallback position of retaining his rights while he plays in the minors makes him less of a gamble. He could easily demonstrate sufficient disinterest in playing in the D-League to follow Joe Forte's career path.

Eddie Basden: I'm skeptical of his defensive reputation as C-USA isn't awash with gifted swingmen. Perimeter shooting is also a concern. The new CBA could encourage more teams to take fliers in the second round and force known quantities with limited upside such as Basden into the free agent pool. That may not be a bad thing for such players. In five or six years he could be starting Mario Elie's career or be a third of the way into Anthony Parker's European success.

Brandon Bass: Bass has a good chance of falling through the cracks. He clearly lacks perspective on his relative ability. Talented yet ill-prepared for NBA basketball, his success will depend on both his own effort and luck.

Andrew Bogut: Bogut is not the most talented player in the draft. Nor does he have the greatest upside.
But he did show up in a suit with resume in hand when he met Senator Kohl. For the sake of Milwaukee fans, I hope every ridiculous quote from Milwaukee officials in that story is part of a smokescreen and they take Marvin Williams. As a potential Atlanta Hawks fan, I hope the Bucks take Bogut. Bogut won't be a bust, but he will be perceived as such due to his high draft position. Upside: almost as good as Brad Miller.

Will Bynum: Too small to play the two, but not a point guard at all. Nobody's really looking for the next Dana Barros, at least not in this country.

Will Conroy: Probably won't be drafted, but could be a decent backup at some point in the next decade.

Taylor Coppenrath: Coppenrath should take his shot at making the Association. I'm skeptical of him succeeding in that pursuit and would encourage him to go to Europe and be a star, but Matt Bullard's never going to have to work for a living and that's nice too.

Travis Diener: It might take a couple of years, but Diener will become a competent NBA point guard; one who can shoot and lead a team but give some back on the defensive end due to physical limitations despite his best efforts. Valuable second round commodity.

Ike Diogu: Somebody better take Diogu in the lottery. The great draft class of two years ago featured both Mike Sweetney and Nick Collison as lottery picks and Diogu's better than both of them offensively and possesses the physical gifts to develop into as solid a defender as Collison. Diogu's not just the best power forward in the draft; he's better right now and has greater upside than either Bogut or Channing Frye.

Monta Ellis: Fighting with Louis Williams for the title of the poor man's DeJuan Wagner. When people discuss Ellis' potential, please remember that he turns 20 in October. He's only a few months younger than Chris Paul. Ellis has been taking advantage of younger players and impressed no one at the high school all-star games.

Daniel Ewing: Ewing's three-point shooting fell off this year when he moved to the point. I doubt he'll get drafted and though I always liked his game, I don't see him as a successful backup in the NBA.

Raymond Felton: Felton arrived at North Carolina and quickly proved that his reputation as a scorer was unwarranted. He's improved his shooting over his three years in Chapel Hill and is ready to play significant minutes in the NBA should the team which drafts him not force into too much half-court ball. I'd take him over Chris Paul.

Channing Frye: This I don't get. Channing Frye, despite his combination of size and skills, can't consistently dominate college basketball games but he's going to be a successful NBA center against bigger, stronger, faster, better players. If the rumors are true, he'll be a perfectly representative pick for either Golden State or the Knicks.

Francisco Garcia: I hope that teams who passed on Tayshaun Prince have learned something. Garcia's game is unorthodox. It borders on clumsy looking at times, but he can play. There's no reason that Garcia couldn't be a key supporting player on a championship team within the next 3-5 years.

John Gilchrist: More unpleasant and less mature than anybody else in the draft. The new CBA makes him a much more likely second round selection than potential 10-year backup point guards Will Conroy and Aaron Miles as the drafting team can now send Gilchrist relatively risk-free to the D-League. Unless he matures quickly, he'll be a great steal or a complete washout.
Ryan Gomes: I'd rather have Gomes than Lee Nailon. Size-wise he's somewhere between the Corliss Williamson/Clarence Weatherspoon and Robert Horry/Clifford Robinson exemplars of valuable backup forwards. His upside is likely Rodney Rogers had Rogers stayed at 250 pounds.
Joey Graham: I'm more bearish on Joey Graham than most. To be sure, he's a delightful offensive player, but he never guarded anybody at Oklahoma State. Too many analysts have reflexively praised Graham's defense because he played for Eddie Sutton. Well, in point of fact, last year's Oklahoma State team struggled to guard anybody. They were the only team Kansas could score on the last six weeks of the season. Graham's athletic gifts suggest he could be a solid defender, but he hasn't demonstrated that yet. Some team might just be drafting a more athletic Wally Szczerbiak.

Stephen Graham: Joey's twin hasn't peaked yet. I think he could be an excellent bench player down the road and wouldn't hesitate to use a second round pick on him.

Danny Granger: Granger is easily the best swingman in the draft. He's been an efficient scorer throughout his college career, successfully expanding his range last season. He's always been a good rebounder as well. Why anyone would develop Gerald Green so some other team could sign him to his second contract rather than bring Granger in to contribute immediately is beyond me.

Gerald Green: I think Green will become a good player. I don't think there's reason to believe he will necessarily be better than Danny Granger but I'm always skeptical about high school players. Easily the most impressive high school player in the draft in my limited exposure to those players.

Chuck Hayes: I've always liked Chuck Hayes but he was overstretched as the first or second option at the college level. He'll never be asked to do that again, though. He might be the new Malik Rose. That's not a bad gig.

Luther Head: Luther Head will be an NBA All-Star. Among guards in the draft, only Chris Paul is a more dangerous offensive player and Head has demonstrated the ability to guard two positions competently. Head's projected to go at the top of the second round, allowing for my ignorance of the foreign players and most of the high schoolers, I can't find 10 guys I'd rather have than Head.

Julius Hodge: Remaking Hodge into a point guard is lunacy. I can't remember such a conversion working. Luckily for Hodge, he's versatile enough to be a useful swingman off the bench for an up-tempo team.

Jared Homan: Skilled enough to take advantage of an opportunity should he get one. I wouldn't surprised to see Homan dominate in the D-League over the next couple of years and work his way into the league.

Jarrett Jack: Jack is still getting better. Somebody is going to get great value in the mid to late first round. If he were a better defender, he'd be in the lottery with Williams, Felton, and Paul.

Dwayne Jones: Strictly an energy guy off the bench for as long as he can convince some team that his effort makes up for his lack of skills. It would help if got a nickname such as "The Junkyard Dog" and/or dove after a lot of balls that had already gone out of bounds to curry favor with the fans.

Linas Kleiza: Kleiza's lack of maturity as a player negates his obvious gifts. He's probably better off going to Europe than attempting to develop while on an NBA bench. There's not a coach in the league that wants a young, error-prone, finesse power forward on his roster.

David Lee: Lee's a gifted athlete who never lived up to his high school class ranking at Florida. After making allowances for playing his entire career under Billy Donovan and most of it without a point guard on the court, he'll get a fair chance to become the new Chris Andersen.

Jason Maxiell: Maxiell has destroyed most of his opponents in camps and workouts this Summer, but he's still just a miniature Ben Wallace at best. He'll have to show an ability to guard on both the perimeter and in the paint to have any real value in the NBA.

Sean May: Roy Williams got Sean May into good shape. If May can stay in shape he'll be a good post player for 10-12 years. He makes good sense for any late lottery team that either needs someone to consistently draw a double team (though May won't draw that sort of attention immediately) or play alongside someone skilled in the high-post.

Rashad McCants: I don't think I've read a report of McCants finishing a workout. He's a slightly undersized scoring guard with questions about his desire and/or health. I'd hate to draft him under the assumption that he'd play a key role immediately.

Aaron Miles: Even if he goes undrafted, I think Miles could carve out a nice career as a backup point guard. He'll never carry the burden of expectations greater than that or cause any problems off the court. He'll struggle to guard bigger point guards and make jump shots, but he can run a team effectively for short stretches.

Randolph Morris: This is exactly the sort of player that a true minor league can help. Morris obviously doesn't want to be in college but he failed to make an impact in his year at Kentucky (averaging just over four rebounds a game). He's got that much sought after "true center" body combined with the all too common lack of any idea what to do with it. Though equally unprepared to play in the NBA, I'd rather have Morris for the next ten years than I would Robert Swift.

Chris Paul: The next Steve Nash. Neither Felton nor Deron Williams possess Paul's offensive gifts, but neither have a weakness as vast and obvious as Paul's defense. In rare situations, that won't matter but it could be a public point of contention for a young player on a bad team in the short term.

Shavlik Randolph: Even before last season I was touting Randolph's potential. I have now stopped doing so.

Anthony Roberson: Roberson is also more attractive as a second round pick now that a team can maintain his rights while he plays in the NBDL. I don't think he'll ever be an NBA point guard, but he could mature into a scoring guard off the bench someday.

Lawrence Roberts: He's just not as good as Timmy Bowers made him look two years ago. Roberts will have to remake himself as a rebounder/defender to earn the league minimum.

Nate Robinson: Robinson will be a great combo guard off the bench for years. He's a gifted athlete who plays bigger than his listed 5-9, 180. Sure, there will be situations where his size will be a liability on defense, but Robinson is able to dictate enough on offense (both in the half-court and in transition) to mitigate those occurrences.

Luke Schenscher: Simply an immobile big man who can knock down the 18-footer and grab the occasional rebound. If you're in the market for the poor man's Michael Doleac, Schenscher's your man.

Wayne Simien: Simien will make most of his face up jump shots, free throws, and he'll rebound effectively in one spot. He can't guard anybody right now, but he'll probably pick up a couple of tricks that referees ignore and achieve near-competency. He could be a good role player, but nothing more.

Salim Stoudamire: I've always questioned Stoudamire's grasp of the big picture. That'll be less of a factor in the NBA as he won't have any responsibilities beyond scoring off the bench.
Chris Taft: Taft could inaugurate the following career path: first-round pick sent to the D-League, consistently outplayed by D-League free agents (Jared Homan, Chevy Troutman, Juan Mendez, Quemont Greer types), drafting team declines their option and he becomes a basketball vagabond at 22. He's gifted, but not especially skilled at this point: a poor man's Chris Wilcox.

Chris Thomas: Not going to happen.

Ronny Turiaf: Never really became a more effective scorer as his Gonzaga career progressed. Dickau and Blake Stepp left, but Adam Morrison became their go-to scorer. Turiaf projects as little more than a big body in the NBA and that body may have been diminished by injury. There should be better options available to most teams in the second round.

Charlie Villanueva: I predicted Villanueva would spend two years at UConn when he first pulled out of the draft. Thought I was right about that, I was wrong in thinking he would be an excellent college player over those two years. He was good at times, but I think he should have at least occasionally dominated the proceedings. He's talented, but I'm lukewarm about his desire to do much besides shoot jump shots.

Tiras Wade: Good scorer and shooter, Wade also pulled down 6 boards a game for Louisiana-Lafayette. Less likely to succeed than Alan Anderson or Julius Hodge, but more likely than Kennedy Winston, Eddie Basden, Dijon Thompson, or Sean Banks, Wade will need some good fortune with the situation he inherits.

Von Wafer: A talented scorer, who, if he ever figures out how to play basketball could do so professionally.

Matt Walsh: I've always hated Walsh's game, more for his lack of control than a lack of skills. Should he harness his talents and accept his limitations, he could have Drew Barry's career.

Hakim Warrick: Warrick doesn't have a position like Shawn Marion doesn't have a position. Strong, long-armed, and athletic: Warrick can play. The team that figures this out will have 20% of their starting lineup solved for the next decade.

Martell Webster: Webster looked quite passive and content to launch threes in the McDonald's game. He might have a more diverse offensive game that I have yet to witness. Listed anywhere between 210 and 235 pounds, I'm getting a distinct George McCloud vibe.

Deron Williams: If somebody wanted to trade up to get Deron Williams and offered an extra first round pick to me, I'd make the deal and just take Jarrett Jack instead. That's a compliment to Jack, not a criticism of Williams. I think the greatest values are in the middle of the first round this year (Warrick, Diogu, Wright, Jack, May, Garcia) or the top of the second round (Head, Robinson, Anderson, Gomes). Again, that's bearing in mind my ignorance of the Europeans. Williams has an upside somewhere between Mark Jackson and Jason Kidd. That's more than worth a high draft pick, but not as valuable as getting two good players.

Louis Williams: NBA general managers, if you're looking for a young Eddie House, you've found him.

Marvin Williams: I thought Luol Deng was a moderately risky pick last year. I was wrong. Similarly, Williams should thrive in the extra space created by the depth of the NBA three-point line. I'd put Williams down the list of my Rookie of the Year favorites, but most likely to be the best player from the draft in five, eight, and ten years.

Kennedy Winston: Unrealistic expectations made the Crimson Tide season seem more disastrous than it was. I don't know if that's hurting Winston's stock or if he's failing to impress in workouts. He's a decent offensive player, but a poor decision maker and was never made to play defense by Coach Gottfried. Worth a second round pick.

Antoine Wright: Wright benefited greatly from the coaching change at Texas A&M last year. His talent was always undeniable but the program was in such disarray on the court he never could make consistent use of his skills. He greatly improved his offensive efficiency across the board last year. I'm curious as to how he'll react to playing with better teammates. He could either diversify his game by maximizing his skill as a passer to complement his scoring or he could become a useful supporting player.

Best players (I've seen) in the draft
1. Marvin Williams
2. Ike Diogu
3. Raymond Felton
4. Chris Paul
5. Danny Granger
6. Hakim Warrick
7. Deron Williams
8. Andrew Bogut
9. Luther Head
10. Antoine Wright
11. Jarrett Jack

Safe, useful picks to fill needs (some even with upside)
1. Francisco Garcia
2. Sean May
3. Gerald Green
4. Joey Graham
5. Charlie Villanueva
6. Wayne Simien
7. Julius Hodge
8. Nate Robinson
9. Alan Anderson

Worth a flyer if you can afford it (good role players/high risk talents)
1. Salim Stoudamire
2. Rashad McCants
3. Ryan Gomes
4. Tiras Wade
5. Travis Diener
6. Stephen Graham
7. John Gilchrist
8. Jason Maxiell
9. Brandon Bass
10. Randolph Morris
11. Kennedy Winston
12. Sean Banks
and David Lee, Dwayne Jones, Ronny Turiaf, Jared Homan, Linas Kleiza

Hoping your team doesn't waste a valuable pick on a bust
1. Chris Taft
2. Channing Frye
3. Martell Webster