A practical, in depth analysis from a critical eye.
Many are very critical of this year's draft, but I am excited. Twin brothers going back to back, a romantic embrace, tears, and trades, what's not to like? There was a lot of talent that moved around, and here's my take on what happened last night.
A + Portland Trailblazers - The Trailblazers have secured their future with no Spaniards anywhere, and Raymond Felton, who will hopefully settle in and not be traded for a whole season. Furthermore, in case Brandon Roy retires or continues to struggle with injuries, they picked up two outstanding SG in Jon Diebler and Nolan Smith. They got rid of Rudy Fernandez, who was once loved in Portland, but burned some bridges and dwindled on the floor in recent years. They also shipped out Andre Miller, who has been arguably the most inconsistent player in NBA history (IE - 52 points one night, and 8 the next) It was almost a perfect day, what more could they have done? The only reason I wouldn't give them an "A++" is that they passed on Marshon Brooks.
A Boston Celtics - They had two picks and made the most of it. They landed a great trade with the Nets, and got JaJuan Johnson and E'Twaun Moore. Purdue fans might be donning Celtics jerseys this year, if there is a year. Johnson is one of the most exciting players in this draft, obviously noted his accomplishments which include Big Ten Player of the Year, and Defensive Player of the Year. Moore is obviously no slouch either, he is very talented, and I am surprised he fell as low as he did. Celtics fans, rejoice! The "Big Three" may be fading away, but your future at the top is assured for another decade.
A San Antonio Spurs - Although Tony Parker is wrong in saying the Spurs are no longer contenders, they won't be in 3-5 years as Duncan, Manu and Parker age and retire. Thus, they need to be more aggressive in pursuing future stars. I think they took Cory Joseph a little early, but when you know what you want, you have to go for it! I really liked George Hill as a Spur but I think he'll do better in his hometown and Kawhi Leonard is PERFECT for the Spurs. He'll be a superstar soon enough. Great trade!
A - Minnesota Timberwolves - Since the drafting of Williams involved more luck than skill, I can't honestly give the Wolves an "A+" grade, although Williams is an A+ player. I look forward to his many future All-Star appearances.
A - New Jersey Nets - Having Jordan Williams still around at # 36 might be something to write about, but I'm excited for the Nets about Marshon Brooks. Brooks is very underrated and college hero, at least in Rhode Island. Most people failed to notice him, aside from his 52 point game, but he really has the chance to be something special. Time will tell where he fits and how he meshes with the Nets, but I would not be surprised if one day he and Deron Williams make the best one-two punch guards in the NBA.
A - Sacramento Kings - Grabbing Jimmer will draw in a lot of fans, even if he doesn't keep up his astounding play. Getting rid of Salmons in the first place was stupid, I am glad they corrected their mistake. Not to forget Isaiah Thomas, who is very talented. This team now has a super-solid backcourt for a long time. I like Tyler Honeycutt, and their deal shipped out the under-perfoming Udrih, so it's hard to see any flaws in their draft day.
B + Denver Nuggets - By giving up very little, the Nuggets landed Andre Miller who although inconsistent, has helped teams trying to find their feet stay stable. Kenneth Faried is still largely untested, but there is a lot of buzz about him, and it all appears to be true. The Nuggets addressed some key holes in their team without sacrificing too much. Now if they could only get Chauncey back...
B + Los Angeles Lakers - Strong outing with no superb picks but they assembled a solid lot with little risk outside of Ader Majok. I think when they picked Majok, all of L.A. County simultaneously let out "Who?" I think Darius Morris will fit in well with the Lakers.
B + Philadelphia 76ers - Taking a risk on a Philly area boy and Temple standout gets them a bump up to a "+". It's a large risk, but it's the right type of risk which could put more Philadelphian bums in seats at Sixers games. Nikola Vucevic is one of my favourite players in the whole draft, and I expect him to do very well wherever he plays.
B + Utah Jazz - Snagging Alec Burks later than expected is the only thing stopping the Jazz from getting a much lower grade. I don't want to bash Kanter, he's good, but I have my doubts. I do want to smack the Jazz management upside the head. They had the opportunity of a lifetime to draft Jimmer, and passed. Fools. There hasn't been this much hype about a BYU kid since Ty Detmer and Steve Young went pro. Alec Burks is their future, he's the "B+".
B Charlotte Bobcats - With all the picks they had, they took the high risk-high reward route. Biyombo could pay off tremendously, and getting rid of Steven Jackson will likely help team morale and boost all around scoring. Not to mention, the pairing of Tyrus Thomas and Biyombo will make for a very versatile frontcourt. But as easily as he could be an All-Star, he could all turn out to be Kwame Brown, and in case you're wondering, yes, Rich Cho was dumb enough to give Kwame a third chance. So, I'll predict this draftee turns out to be the latter, but hope for Bobcats fans to be the former. As for the big trade, Corey Maggette is a fading star, he's still got gas left in the tank, so we'll see how he does in the Cats front court. Side note - I love Kemba Walker and think he's pro-ready. He'll win ROY barring injuries in my book.
B Chicago Bulls - As an ESPN writer already pointed out, Jimmy Butler is the Michael Oher of basketball. Great story, and you can't help but root for the kid. I know he'll do great things. As for the Bulls, they should have help onto Norris Cole, I like the guy, but oh well.
B Cleveland Cavaliers - Obviously Kyrie Irving is the talk of the draft, but having the picks they did, they could have done better. I get the feeling they snapped up Thompson only to take him away from the Raptors, and while there is nothing wrong with Thompson, I never picture him as a top 5 pick, more like a top 15 pick. I guess when your team is hurting all over, any good player will do. Spite picks don't earn you a lot of respect, and neither does pissing away your late picks on boring European players. Sure, Macvan may have good size and grab boards, but too many people jump to the conclusion that if a guy is a big Serbian and can grab boards, he's the next Vlade Divac. I can tell you now, he's not. With the talent and promise of Irving and Thompson, Cleveland's draft might deserve an "A", but the Cavs are not an "A" team, they're a "B" team.
B Oklahoma City Thunder - This team is not tragically flawed, it just needs tinkering. Reggie Jackson (no not the baseball legend) could prove to be a useful piece of the fabric of the Thunder. He's a decent defender and he can drain it from beyond the arch, both of which were much needed in the playoffs this year. He's a little slow to keep up with Durant, but time will tell how he transitions to the NBA game. Good pick, not great.
B - Atlanta Hawks - Looking for a safe backup to Al Horford, the Hawks played it safe by selecting Keith Benson. They could have taken a chance on Fresno State's Greg Smith, but they wanted someone more reliable, consistent and pressure-proven. That they got, along with an average grade for a decent, but far from interesting pick.
B - Golden State Warriors - I'll start off by saying Charles Jenkins was a great pick. I wish him well. Jeremy Tyler has so many question marks surrounding him, it's not even worth getting into. The reason for the grade is the confusion surrounding the question 'Why Klay Thompson?' It's an honest question, one which has no logical answer. He was predicted in many mocks to go a few picks later, the Warriors are not in need of guards, and some more impressive players were still on the board. Mystery to me, maybe we'll figure it out in a year when he gets traded for a D-Leaguer and a 2nd round pick.
B - Houston Rockets - They passed on Longhorn Jordan Hamilton and took another SF instead. Strike one. They didn't pick up a much needed center in the draft or by trade. Strike two. They threw away their final pick by selecting a guy who I can already tell will be in Europe of a local league within 3 years. Strike three. Are they out? Yes, but I am giving them a mercy "B-" for having Marcus Morris falling into their laps.
B - Indiana Pacers - The Pacers are deserving of a "B" grade for bringing George Hill home, but they got bumped down because they did not pick Shelvin Mack. Good trade, but they needed to be more active.
B - Los Angeles Clippers - This is one of the Clippers best drafts, ever. That isn't saying much seeing as how they achieved this by sticking to low-risk options. I like the decision to keep UGA boys Travis Leslie and Trey Tompkins together, it may help with team morale, assuming DeAndre doesn't jump ship.
B - Orlando Magic - Scoring Justin Harper was nice, but not really noteworthy. The Magic were taking a back seat to the action today, and while sitting in the back, they took a player who is used to sitting back there, as he did behind his star teammates at Kentucky. There's nothing to hate about DeAndre Liggins, but not a lot to love. He's a decent all around player, but he's about as exciting as a baked potato. Hmmm, maybe he'd do well in San Antonio...
C + Detroit Pistons - I thought it would have been funny to pick Isaiah Thomas, but I guess Joe Dumars doesn't share my sense of humour. My lame comedy aside, I like Brandon Knight but I am puzzled why Detroit. Is he there to light a fire under Stuckey's behindus? Are they not going to resign Stuckey? All I'm saying is that while it's rarely a bad thing to spend a top ten pick on the best player on the board, it doesn't really address any of their needs. I'm not convinced that Singler's play will translate to the NBA game, and the Pistons system, but it is a good pick as it looks like Tayshaun is out the door. The reason for the mediocre grade lies in the Macklin pick. This guy is already an underachiever, and the second he was selected I smacked my palm against my forehead. DUH! Just keep Jason Maxiell, at least he does something other than ride his high school achievements to a contract. Macklin has a lot of jeering to look forward to, and I can tell you from experience, the fans in the Palace don't let up. (PS - I hope they re-sign Jason Maxiell).
C + New York Knicks - They landed a decent depth center in Josh Harrellson for essentially nothing, and that's always a good thing. I was disappointed in their selection of Shumpert at #17. Not that I don't like Shumpet, because I do, a lot. It's that a lot of people expected him to go early-mid 2nd round, so it seems they jumped the gun. Considering who was still left on the board, and how they picked a player who is likely to be a depth/development player for the next year or two anyways, they could have gone for someone with greater upside.
C + Phoenix Suns - Face it, the Suns need a lot of help. Their inactivity today, paired with their selection of a player who may not fit into their offensive style leaves me concerned for Suns fans. I sense a future filled with anguish and frustration. Not an awful pick, but like many others today, they could have done better.
C + Washington Wizards - The Wiz failed to address their most pressing need, strength and scoring up front. JaVale McGee can't go it alone, and he has had trouble scoring consistently, he needs help up front. Jianlian is a UFA and likely gone, and Blatche, let's face it is more trouble than he's worth. Aside that major oversight, I really do not like Jan Vesely. Granted, I have never seen him play a full game, only read, heard and watched him online, but I have the feeling he's a middle-of-the-road scoring forward with a one-dimensional game. There is no shortage of those guys in the NBA, so having the 6th pick, they could have done much better. I hoped I am proven wrong about him, and I guess in time we'll see how he does. Outside of those two flaws, I really like the potential of Chris Singleton and Shelvin Mack, so they made excellent use of their other picks. I'm not sure how they'll fit into the gameplan, but that's for Coach Saunders to figure out.
C Miami Heat - Beyond the superstar trio, the Heat are struggling to stay afloat. They have some good talent on the roster, but with so many key players as free agents this year, they really should have attempted to make some moves and get a higher pick, or more picks. On top of that, I am not sure about Bogdanovic, mostly because I know so little about him. Getting Norris Cole is good, but they should keep Chalmers, leaving the 1 positions stacked, and others left wide open.
C - Dallas Mavericks - The champs certainly didn't look like champions today. They traded away a solid SF who could grow and draw in more Longhorns fans (Jordan Hamilton) to get a depth SG who has dwindled to a shadow of his former self (Rudy Fernandez). I do like Petteri Koponen's upside, but not as much as I like Jordan Hamilton's. Granted, they don't need instant All-Stars, but they need depth to replace some of their aging and injury-prone starters. I feel they failed to accomplish what they really needed to.
D + Memphis Grizzlies - The Grizz had one pick and took a risk on the underperforming Josh Selby. With the youth-dominated roster, the Grizzlies need solid players who can help keep the team's progression moving in a positive, upward manner. A high-profile (potential) under-achiever could really drag down a team that has finally got on the right track.
F New Orleans Hornets - This team has been falling apart slowly over the last two seasons. Despite this team needing help all over, they traded away their only draft pick for "cash considerations" (IE - A little spending money and a washing machine). That can't be a good sign. I fear a lockout may do the Hornets in for good.
F Toronto Raptors - Yes, Colangelo got shafted by Cleveland when they picked Thompson, but he did the worst thing possible. He went with his first instinct and drafted more Euro-trash. Not only can this guy not play next year, he is not noted for much of anything that the Raptors are in need of. I'm sure his lack of English will be amongst the least of the problems that comes with this pick. My prediction is that by 2015, Valanciunas will be back in Europe.