Friday, June 25, 2010

NBA Draft Report Card

This years' NBA draft wasn't nearly as strong as we would have liked, but there were a lot of valuable players there for the taking. I am going to give each team a grade based on their draft choices.

Washington Wizards: John Wall (1), Kevin Seraphin (17), Trevor Booker (23)
John Wall is a cant miss player. Clearly the top talent in this years draft, Wall is an extremely gifted athlete with a great feel for the game. If Wall could shoot the jumper at a more consistent rate, he could be an unstoppable force in D.C. for years to come
Trevor Booker is a high energy guy who brings grit and toughness on a nightly basis. Booker is an exceptional athlete with a great knack for rebounding, he terrorized the ACC with monstrous dunks and a never quit attitude. If Booker can develop a mid range jump shot, we're looking at a poor mans Paul Millsap.
Seraphin is your prototypical European player, he can do a little of everything. He is a good athlete and makes a concerted effort on the boards. Seraphin is extremely raw on offense, but if he can develop some sort of offensive identity he could be the next coming of Chris Bosh.
I think Washington could have used Gilbert Arenas as a nice piece to acquire some more first round picks and expiring contracts.
Grade: B+

Philadelphia 76ers: Evan Turner (2)
Turner embodies the term "complete player". He has a diverse skill set that allows him to effectively play three positions on the court. He was the top player this past year in college and could have been the top pick if it weren't for John Wall. Turner needs to develop a more consistent jumper and improve his lateral quickness in order to defend at the NBA level.
Grade: B

New Jersey Nets: Derrick Favors (3), Damion James (24)
Favors is a pretty raw player at both ends of the court but he has huge upside. Favors is an explosive athlete who attacks the basket with tenacity. He needs to tighten up his back to the basket game and develop a mid range jumper. Favors needs to have more commitment and desire on the defensive end in order to compete at the NBA level.
Damion James is a versatile forward with great athleticism. He can guard multiple positions, rebound at a high rate and run the floor with the best of 'em. James needs to develop an outside shot in order to maximize his potential.
Grade: B+

Minnesota Timberwolves: Wesley Johnson (4), Lazar Hayward (30), Nemanja Bjelica (35), Paulao Prestes (45), Hamady N'diaye (56)
I like Wesley Johnson's game a lot. He has a very versatile offensive game with the ability to shoot, attack the basket and find the open man. If Johnson is gonna succeed on the defensive end, he's gonna have to put on some muscle to handle the 3's and 4's in the NBA.
Lazar Hayward is the prototypical Marquette player, he is tough, fundamental and can shoot. Like Wesley Matthews before him, Hayward will bring great defensive intensity and dedication to playing team basketball,
Bjelica won't overwhelm anyone with his athleticism but he will with his ability to handle the ball. He will stay overseas for a year or two to develop his jumper and low post game. Best case scenario, he turns into a Toni Kukoc type player.
Prestes and N'diaye are both guys who are big, long and physical. Both of them will also be stashed away overseas for a few years.
Grade: B+

Sacramento Kings: DeMarcus Cousins (5), Hassan Whiteside (33)
Cousins is a high risk, high reward player. He has shown flashes of greatness and flashes of not-so-greatness. His biggest problem is his lack of maturity. Cousins has the best footwork and low post game of any player in this years draft, but he needs to work on tightening up his body and his attitude in order to avoid being the second coming of Benoit Benjamin.
Whiteside is a very raw prospect, but he has the size and ability to become a serviceable center in the league. Whiteside has a good feel on the defensive end and has shown the ability to step out and hit a mid range jumper. If Sacramento develops him properly, he could be a Marcus Camby type player.
These two picks are extremely high risk, high reward for Sacramento. The Kings traded away Spencer Hawes for veteran center Sam Dalembert, which clogs the middle at Arco Arena, and could hamper the development of these two players.
Grade: C

Golden State Warriors: Epke Udoh (6)
The Warriors used their only pick in this years draft to take a player who is extremely raw. Udoh didn't crack ESPN Chad Ford's top 30 players, but after a good year at Baylor and a nice run in the NCAA tournament, Udoh shot up the draft boards. Udoh is very similar to former Warrior draft picks Anthony Randolph and Brandan Wright, Golden State is hoping Udoh produces much more than those two players have so far in their careers.
Grade: D

Detroit Pistons: Greg Monroe (7), TerrIco White (36)
The Pistons needed a big man more than any team in the draft, and they went out and got, in my opinion, the most skilled and versatile one the 2010 draft class had to offer. Monroe's game is very european in his ability to to face up, drive and pass. Monroe is a guy who is ready to contribute right now and the Pistons made a great pick.
Terrico White is a very gifted athlete who loves to attack the basket off the dribble. He has a decent jump shot and can defend the 1 or 2 position effectively. The only knock on White is his conditioning, but that's an easy fix.
Grade: A

LA Clippers: Al-Farouq Aminu (8), Eric Bledsoe (18), Willie Warren (54)
Aminu is a very gifted basketball player. He can attack the basket and also pull up and hit a jumper, but his real strength is his rebounding. Scouts aren't sure as to what position Aminu will play, either SF or PF, but he will succeed at whichever one the Clippers choose to play him at.
Bledsoe got stuck playing second fiddle to John Wall at Kentucky. What I see in Bledsoe is a very smart PG with a pure shot, he will be a great backup for Baron Davis.
Willie Warren was projected as a top 10 pick before the start of his sophomore season at Oklahoma. Injuries and questions about his drive and dedication doomed his draft stock, but Warren can play. He is a dynamic scorer and very athletic, great value at number 54 for the Clippers.
Grade: A

Utah Jazz: Gordon Hayward (9), Jeremy Evans (55)
Utah got the guy they wanted in Hayward, a tough, versatile and fundamental forward who embodies everything that Jerry Sloan looks for in a player. Hayward has good size and length but needs to improve his athleticism to be an effective NBA defender. Hayward has huge upside and could be a very good player down the road.
Jeremy Evans is a guy who went under the radar coming out of South Florida, but Utah saw great size and athleticism and made Evans their second round choice.
Grade: B

Indiana Pacers: Paul George (10), Lance Stephenson (40), Magnum Rolle (51)
George is a high risk, high reward player. He went to Fresno State but never really dominated against the lesser competition. His talent is undeniable, but his attitude is what worries me. He has the skill set to be a good NBA player, but he reminds me a lot of of former
Pacer first round pick Jonathon Bender.
Stephenson had a lot of hype around him coming out of Lincoln High School in New York, but the lack of a consistent jump shot caused him to become a very one dimensional player at Cincinnati. Stephenson used his size and strength to get to the rim in college, but that won't work as effectively in the NBA. He can handle the ball and has great passing ability when he chooses to actually pass the ball. Stephenson desperately needs to develop a jumpshot.
Rolle is big, long and athletic, but is already 24 years old which means his development is limited.
There are two grades for the Pacers here, the first one for if these players develop and the other if they don't.
Grades: A/F

New Orleans Hornets: Craig Brackins (21), Quincy Pondexter (26)
I like Brackins offensive game a lot, he can hit outside shots at a decent rate, he can get to the rim off the dribble and he has a decent back to the basket game. I also like the way Brackins crashes the boards, he was a very effective rebounder in college. What I don't like is his desire on defense, he was a liability on that end of the court for Iowa State. He has the athletic ability to be a good defender, but it's all about desire with Brackins
Pondexter was a four year starter at Washington and he definitely benefited from staying all four years in college. Pondexter was more of a slasher and excelled when he drove the ball to the rim during the first few years at Washington. Pondexter has developed a decent mid range jumper, but he needs to extend his range to the three point line to be a good scorer in the NBA.
Grade: B-

Memphis Grizzlies: Xavier Henry (12), Greivis Vasquez (28)
Xavier Henry has a good feel for the game and an extremely smooth jump shot with good range. Henry isn't overly athletic, however, which will make it somewhat difficult to play and defend the small forward position in the NBA.
Vasquez brings a lot of passion and energy to the table. He has good ball handling skills and the ability to get to the rim or hit a jump shot. To me, Vasquez reminds me of Manu Ginobili with his knack for creating his own shot.
Grade: B+

Toronto Raptors: Ed Davis (13), Soloman Alabi (50)
Toronto used this pick as an attempt to replace Chris Bosh if he leaves via free agency. Davis is extremely long and has a good feel on defense. He is an above average hot blocker but he needs to develop some type offensive game whether it be back to the basket or face up. I also think he needs to add some muscle to be able to bang down low with the likes of Dwight Howard and Andrew Bynum.
Alabi fell very far in this years draft. I like this pick for Toronto because Alabi is 7'1 and very long. He has a good feel on the defensive end and is a very good shot blocker. There can only be positive growth with this pick
Grade: B+

Houston Rockets: Patrick Patterson (14)
Patterson is a guy who is ready to contribute right away. He plays tough defense and works the boards hard. He definitely needs to tighten up his offensive game. The Rockets are hoping Patterson turns into a Carl Landry type player.
Grade: C+

Milwaukee Bucks: Larry Sanders (15), Darington Hobson (37), Jerome Jordan (44), Keith Gallon (47)
Sanders is tall, long and athletic. He is a very good defender and shot blocker which is what Milwaukee really needs. If he can develop some offense, Sanders could be a very effective player.
Hobson can definitely play the game, but his lack of athleticism begs the question, can he play in the NBA? If Hobson develops a three point shot the answer to that question is yes.
A lot of scouts were high on Jordan before his Senior year at Tulsa, but a bad year caused his draft stock to plummet. Jordan has great size and length and is a pretty decent athlete. Scott Skiles needs to work this guy into shape.
Keith Gallon is huge, both in a bad way and a good way. Gallon has a decent offensive game, and if he drops some pounds this pick would be a steal.
If these players can develop this is a fantastic draft for the Bucks. Two grades here as well.
Grades: A/D

Chicago Bulls: No picks
The Bulls traded away their picks along with Kirk Hinrich in order to clear enough cap space to sign two maximum free agents. I like that the Bulls used the 17th pick as trade bait, they don't want a project player or a rotation guy which tells me they want to win now.
Grade: A

OKC Thunder: Cole Aldrich (11), Tibor Pleiss (31), Ryan Reid (57)
Aldrich has the best offensive game out of any of the big men in this draft. The problem is he measured at 6'9, much smaller than originally thought. There are also questions about his ability to defend on the next level based on his size, but Aldrich can rebound and block shots at a good rate. I like this pick for the Thunder.
Pleiss is a true big man, he can block and defend very well but is very raw on offense. OKC will have Pleiss play overseas for a few years and hope he can develop into a good player.
Reid is a big, tough forward out of Florida State, he didn't have much impact on the Seminoles squad so I don't see him having much of an impact on the Thunders squad.

Boston Celtics: Avery Bradley (19), Luke Harangody (52)
Bradley was the top player coming out of high school and his one year at Texas showed that he can be a lockdown defender, but he needs to find an identity on offense. Bradley will do very well as a backup for Rajon Rondo and needs to pay close attention to how Rondo developed his offensive game. Great value pick here for the Celtics.
Harangody is a Danny Ainge type of player, he plays with extreme passion and energy, and leaves everything on the court. Harangody is a bit undersized to play the 4 in the NBA but he could make an impact off the bench, similar to what DeJuan Blair did this season for the Spurs.
Grade: A-

San Antonio Spurs: James Anderson (20), Ryan Richards (49)
James Anderson is a great value pick at 20th overall. He can score at ease with a great jumper and an uncanny ability to get to the line. Anderson is ready to contribute right away, another steal for the Spurs.
A lot of scouts were high on Richards before the draft last year but after a down year overseas, his draft stock took a terrible downfall. He is extremely young and raw with a ton of upside. He is big, at 7'0 230lbs and light on his feet. The Spurs are known for developing talent, and if they develop this guy, they would have another draft day steal in their pockets.

Portland Trailblazers: Luke Babbitt (16), Elliot Williams (22), Armon Johnson (34)
Portland traded Martell Webster in order to take Babbitt with the 16th pick. Babbitt is a Raef LaFrentz type player with a but more athleticism. His smooth jumper will spread the floor at the Rose Garden.
Elliot Williams is an athletic scoring guard with a very smooth jumper. Williams has yet to show any prowess on the defensive end. Portland will interchange Williams and Bayless to try and find their PG of the future.
Armon Johnson is one of the elite athletes of this draft. He is very physical and explosive but needs to develop a much more consistent jumper. I think Johnson has the toughness to really compete in the NBA
Grade: A-

Atlanta Hawks: Jordan Crawford (27), Pape Sy (53)
Jordan Crawford is famous for being the guy who dunked on LeBron James at his own camp. Jordan Crawford made a name for himself at Xavier as well for torching opposing defenses with his smooth offensive attack. He is compared to Jamal Crawford which makes this an interesting pick for Atlanta.
Sy is a big time stretch pick here. I don't think anyone besides Atlanta had him on their radar. I guess the Hawks are hoping to develop him into a Serge Ibaka. Don't like this pick.
Grade: C-

Dallas Mavericks: Dominique Jones (25)
Jones is an aggressive slashing player. He attacks the rim often and with authority. He will work perfectly in Dallas with their run and gun offense.
Dallas traded away picks for future consideration, which shows me they are insistent on signing Dirk Nowitzki.
Grade: B

Orlando Magic: Daniel Orton (29), Stanley Robinson (59)
Orton hardly played during his only season at Kentucky, but still decided to declare. He is big and long with a decent feel on offense. Orton is a good shot blocker but should have stayed at UK for one or two more years.
Robinson is probably the most explosive athlete in the draft, but his low basketball IQ and spotty offensive repertoire is a red flag for NBA teams.
Grade: D

Miami Heat: Dexter Pittman (32), Jarvis Varnado (41), Da'Sean Butler (42), Latavious Williams (48)
Miami is hoping Pittman can shed some weight and turn into a force in the paint. I like Pittman's offensive game, and I think if he does drop weight he can be a bigger Big Baby.
Varnado will be a serviceable backup center in the league. He reminds me of Marcus Camby with less skill on offense, I like this pick for the Heat.
Da'Sean Butler had that terrible injury in the NCAA Tournament and would have been a first round pick if he was healthy. Butler plays hard and has a very high basketball IQ. I like any player who has played under Bob Huggins because he brings discipline and toughness every night. If Butler can get healthy this pick will be a steal.
Latavious Williams is the first D-League player ever drafted. He is very athletic and tore up the D-League last year. He definitely has a chance to make the squad if Miami can sign two max free agents.
Grade: C

New York Knicks: Andy Rautins (38), Landry Fields (39)
Rautins, in my opinion, has the smoothest jumper in the draft. His range goes on for days and he can change the landscape of a game if he gets on a roll. Rautins will face the same struggles as J.J. Redick did in his first few years in the NBA, especially on defense.
Landry Fields can score, no doubt about it. The question I have is can he create his own shot at this level, he lacks the foot speed to be able to get past premier NBA defenders. I don't like this pick from the Knicks.
Grade: D-

LA Lakers: Devin Ebanks (43), Derrick Caracter (58)
The Lakers are hoping Ebanks turns into a hybrid of Trevor Ariza and Josh Smith. Ebanks is a great defender but needs to strengthen his offense.
Caracter has shown he can play the game, but the question is, does he WANT to play, big attitude problem with this guy.
Like the Ebanks pick, not so high on Caracter.
Grade: C+

Phoenix Suns: Gani Lawal (46), Dwayne Collins (60)
Gani Lawal is a good pick here. He can defend in the paint and has a decent offensive game. He needs to trim down a little to be able to run the break with Steve Nash.
Mr. Irrelevant this year is Dwayne Collins. Collins is extremely explosive and attacks the rim every opportunity he can get. His athleticism gives him a good chance to actually make the Suns roster.

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