Friday, June 26, 2009

2009 NBA Draft Grades

Atlanta Hawks -- B-
Picks: Jeff Teague (19,), Sergey Gladyr (49)
Fearing the possibility of Bibby leaving in free agency, and having just traded Acie Law and Speedy Claxton for SG Jamal Crawford, the Hawks likely considered only point guards with the 19th pick. One of the primary reasons for Atlanta's newfound success has been their having at least four players capable of knocking down a jump or shot or creating something on their own on the court at all times, and Teague is that versatile scorer. With Bibby potentially leaving, though, should they have gone for a more NBA-ready PG, such as Eric Maynor or Darren Collison?

Boston Celtics -- B+
Picks: Lester Hudson (58)
A 24-year old PG (he'll be 25 in August) from UT-Martin? Best believe! Hudson considered entering last season but dropped out at the last moment, even generating some serious buzz about his being picked late in the first round. Last season Hudson averaged 27.5 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 4.2 apg and even 2.3 spg, and is profficient at both guard positions. With Eddie House planning to test free agent waters, and their guard situation in utter dissaray, Hudson might turn out to be a brilliant pick.

Charlotte Bobcats --B-
Picks: Gerald Henderson (12), Derrick Brown (40)
I think the Bobcats should have targeted a big man at 12 (you can't expect Okafor to be happy playing with four guards), but Henderson, who played his college ball close by, gives them a versatile scorer to platoon with the oft-injured Wallace and Bell at the swing. Brown is similar to Diaw, but could have a future on this team as an instant-offense boost off the bench.

Chicago Bulls -- C-
Picks: James Johnson (16), Taj Gibson (26)
The Bulls professed the need for another big man to bang they drafted James Johnson to back up Luol Deng and John Salmons at the 3? The plan must be for him to play PF at some point, but that doesn't excuse taking him over DeJuan Blair, who would have been an absolutely perfect fit. Taj Gibson matches that description a lot better, but they should have used one of those picks on off-guard to groom as Ben Gordon's replacement.

Cleveland Cavaliers -- C
Picks: Christian Eyenga (30), Danny Green (46), Emir Preldzic (57)
The Cavs #1 goal should have been to take a player capable of contributing immediately, and Eyenga probably isn't that guy, though he supposedly has great potential. Danny Green fits that mold slightly better, but neither will have any sort of impact for at least a couple years.

Dallas Mavericks -- B+
Picks: Rodrigue Beaubois (25), Nick Calathes (45), Ahmad Nivins (56)
The Mavs scored in their first semi-meaningful draft in years. With experts suggesting that Kidd has played his last full season in Dallas, the Mavs were after a PG, as J.J. Barea is much more effective off the bench. Beaubois is quick, has the wingspan of a SF, and is perfectly suited to run the Mavs offense, from what I glean. Picking Calathes was a smart move; the don't have room on the roster for anyone else it seems, and it will be comforting knowing they have a potential future starter being groomed overseas.

Denver Nuggets -- B
Picks: Ty Lawson (18)
They're virtually stacked, but Antony Carter will only be serviceable for so long. Lawson, whose up-tempo style will be welcome in Denver, has a great mentor in Chauncey Billups, who can hopefully teach him a thing or two about the art of the pull-up J.

Detroit Pistons -- C
Picks: Austin Daye (15), Dajuan Summers (35), Jonas Jerebko (39)
Reports concerning the Pistons' having promised to take BJ Mullens had been circled for a while, reports they dispelled by drafting Daye, who just about everyone seems to have mixed feelings about. He makes sense for a team in a rebuilding phsae, but still shouldn't have gone this high, I don't think. Summers is a powerful forward who I'm not sure they needed.

Golden State Warriors -- C+
Picks: Stephen Curry (7)
It's hard to defend this pick. Curry was the best player available, but he is a carbon copy of Monta Ellis: a scrawny 6-3 combo guard who's just almost always looking to score. I don't have know they will be able to collaborate offensively, let alone guard anyone without being flattended. Curry is great for their system, though, and because he's my fave, I can't stomach giving the team that picked him an awful grade.

Houston Rockets -- A-
Picks: Jermaine Taylor (32), Sergio Llull (34), Chase Budinger (44)
The Rockets work their mid-draft magic again, swiping big-time scorer Taylor (26.2 ppg) and, improbably, Arizona swingman Chase Budinger, whom I projected would go 20th, and thought should go even earlier. Taylor and Budinger help balance out a very forward-heavy team and add sizzling range to a team that lives mostly in the paint, especially with McGrady's future uncertain.

Indiana Pacers -- C+
Picks: Tyler Hansbrough (13), A.J. Price (52)
Hansbrough fulfills his destiny of rounding out the whitest front line in the league, as the Pacers can now potentially start Mike Dunleavy, Hansbrough and Troy Murphy...and when they're out, Rasho Nesterovic, Jeff Foster and Josh McRoberts cans step in and white it up. But seriously, the Pacers set out looking for an athletic big man, and Hansbrough, who tested better than expected at the combine, could be a good fit (though here's another tragic case of DeJuan Blair's being passed up). A guard was their second target, and Price was a steal at 52.

Los Angeles Clippers -- A
Picks: Blake Griffin (1)
They weathered the trade proposals, rumors of their 'getting to work on screwing this up,' and Zach Randolph to finally, finally make the right choice.

Los Angeles Lakers -- D
Picks: Chinemelu Elonu (59)
Have they learned nothing from the trajectory of the Phoenix Suns, who were a perennial 60-win powerhouse, and sold all their picks over about three years - picks that would become Rajon Rondo, Rudy Fernandez, Luol Deng and Marcin Gortat - only to fade into mediocrity, left without a backup to Nash or any youth worth mentioning? The Lakers might think they're stacked now, but let my warning them be noted on the record.

Memphis Grizzlies -- A
Picks: Hasheem Thabeet (2), DeMarre Carroll (27), Sam Young (36)
The Grizzlies arguably accomplished more in their selections that any team on draft day. Thabeet is set to form arguably the best tandem of young bigs in the league when paired with Marc Gasol, his defensive tenacity complementing Gasol's refined offensive repetoire. What most impressed me was their satisfying intangible needs, like more strength throughout the depth chart (Gasol is the only starter who appears to be acceptably nourished). Thin from PG (Mike Conley) through PF (Darrell Arthur and Hakim Warrick), the Grizz added two powerful swingmen in Carroll and Young, both whom could have a real impact without posting big numbers.

Miami Heat -- C
Picks: Patrick Beverly (42), Robert Dozier (60)
Wisely avoiding pure shooters like Jack McClinton, the likes of which they have too many, Miami nabbed two decent talents who might never see the floor. Beverly is highly regarded, but his best case scenario is backing up Chalmers, and right now he's the third PG; Dozier is a lot like Haslem and will have to carve out a niche as a rebounder/versatile post defender if he hopes to contribute.

Milwaukee Bucks -- B+
Picks: Brandon Jennings (10), Jodie Meeks (41)
I think its impossible to accurately grade a team based on picking Jennings; he's the draft's biggest mystery, not because people aren't familiar with him, but because he's either a franchise-wrecker or the second coming of Allen Iverson (let's consider that as a positive in this case). I love Jodie Meeks, though. I'm a firm believer that any player that averages 24 ppg for a major conference school - let alone breaks one of the nation's most storied program's single-game scoring record - should at least get first round consideration, which Meeks was refused. But he couldn't have landed in a better environment, because, you see, Meeks reminds me of another relatively undersized and supposedly un-athletic SG who starred at a major school but was drafted 43rd overall, and wound up having a sensational NBA career - Michael Redd.

Minnesota Timberwolves -- C+
Picks: Ricky Rubio (5), Johnny Flynn (6), Wayne Ellington (28), Henk Norel (47)
Utterly beguiling. Since there's no way Rubio is going to play SG, we have to assume that A) Flynn, a 5-11 PG with no real jump shot, will play the 2 or B) They're working ond dealing one of these guys to NY in a sign-and-trade involving either David Lee or Nate Robinson. The backcourt could conceivably work, but it's a stretch. Ellington was a great choice, seeing as they didn't have any shooting guards on the roster Thursday morning.

New Jersey Nets -- B
Picks: Terrence Williams (11)
The Nets have a great young core in Devin Harris, Courtney Lee and Brook Lopez, and expect Louisville's Terrence Williams, one of the most complete players in the draft, will be the glue guy. I think it was a smart, if conservative, pick, and it means that their forwards, especially Yi and Josh Boone, will really have to step it up.

New Orleans Hornets -- A-
Picks: Darren Collison (21), Marcus Thornton (43)
Ironically I had the Hornets picking Thornton, one of my favorite prospects, in the first round. Either way, I'm glad they got him. Collison, who deserved to go in the first round after playing in three Final Fours and having entered the draft seemingly every year, only to return to school to fine tune his game, will be a worthy backup to Chris Paul, and I love Thornton as their future starting SG - he reminds me of Gilbert Arenas.

New York Knicks -- C+
Picks: Jordan Hill (8), Toney Douglas (29)
For once, I actually felt sorry for Knicks fans. Not only was Steph Curry born to run in D'Antoni's offense, but LeBron is one of his biggest fans, having attended Davidson's Sweet 16 contest against Wisconsin for the sole purpose of seeing Curry, who scorred 33 in a 16-point victory. He dropped further than expected, only to be snatched up by Golden State, where he's not an ideal fit. Jordan Hill is a lot like David Lee, and in a draft filled with point guards, you would think this team, dying for one, would have used their lottery pick to take one. They were in a very unfortunate situation though. Douglas could be good.

Oklahoma City Thunder -- B
Picks: James Harden (3), BJ Mullens (24), Robert Vaden (54)
Sam Presi has quickly estabilished OKC as the gutsiest team in the league in terms of drafting. Harden was a sensible, good pick, but it was in drafting Mullens that they pulled out all the stops. He's God-awful, but should he realize his potential, this team could really go places. But then again, the franchise doesn't have a great track record in cultivating the talents of young centers (Robert Swift, Johan Petro, Saer Sene), and were really playing with fire in acquiring the notoriously diffucilt Mullens by dealing away Beaubois, who would have been a solid backup to Westbrook, no doubt about that. The grade comes down to Harden, though, and they were wise to pass on Rubio for the better fit in the Arizona State All-American.

Orlando Magic -- N/A
No Selctions

Philadelphia 76ers -- B
Picks: Jrue Holiday (17)
Many would say he was a steal, I would argue otherwise, but it really was a smart pick. They have loads of talent down low (Brand, Dalembert, Jason Smith, Marreese Speights), but nothing to speak of in the backcourt outside of Andre Miller and Lou Williams. Not a true PG, Holiday will benefit from the tutleage of Miller, who's currently 13th all-time in apg and has played in 501 consecutive games.

Phoenix Suns -- D-
Picks: Earl Clark (14), Taylor Griffin (48)
Run, Steve Nash, run! In the last two days the Suns will have lost Shaq and Amare Stoudemire, and will likely start year with Andris Biedrins and, um...Robin Lopez? down low. Clark and Griffin are big, but neither is the answer. Clark fits nicely into the system, but he's exactly like Boris Diaw, whom they signed to a big contract and then immediately shipped off, recognizing their mistake, and he would be their 1,000,000th SF.

Portland Trailblazers -- A-
Picks: Victor Claver (22), Jeff Pendergraph (31), Dante Cunningham (33), Patrick Mills (55)
GM Kevin Pritchard again proves why he's the savviest GM in the game. Recognizing a slowly growing hole at SF - they're talking about acquiring Turkoglu - they traded up to get their man, 6-9 SF Victor Claver. They then acquired Patty Mills, one my favorite players in the draft.

Sacramento Kings -- A+
Picks: Tyreke Evans (4), Omri Casspi (23), Jon Brockman (38)
Sacramento was, truly, King for the night. Refusing to stand for Ricky Rubio's nonsense, they took the better player and fit in Tyreke Evans, who i'm a big fan of. Unsure of whether they were ready to kick Beno Udrih to the curb, and with Kevin Martin perpetually struggling with injuries, they now in Evans an unselfish, exatraordinarily talented guard capable of playing three positions. Also, like the Grizzlies, they focused on adding strength, especially down low, as Jason Thompson and Spencer Hawes both could use 25 pounds. Brockman, as efficient a post player as there was in college last year, is a great addition, and Evans (6-5/220) adds strength to a backcourt that includes Martin (6-7/185) and Francisco Garcia (6-7/195). Finally, Casspi is a well-rounded forward in the Hedo Turkoglu mold, and they hope he'll have similar success.

San Antonio Spurs -- A-
Picks: DeJuan Blair (37), Jack McClinton (51), Nando De Colo (53)
Though he slipped shockingly far, Blair found himself in the best position imaginable, as the Spurs just shipped off two contributing forwards. He'll be able to make a real impact here, and could start as soon as next season, while getting a lot of run as a rookie.

Toronto Raptors -- B
Picks: DeMar DeRozan (9)
Despite not being a fan of DeRozan, I find it hard to fault the Raptors making this pick. Anthony Parker doesn't fit into their future plans, and DeRozan's potential was irresistible.

Utah Jazz -- A-
Picks: Eric Maynor (20), Goran Suton (50)
Its hard to argue against the Jazz as being the best drafting team in the NBA over the past few seasons. Recognizing that Brevin Knight had probably the worst +/- in the league, they went out and finally got a point man worthy of backing up Deron Williams, which Maynor should be expected to do immediately. Some may fault Utah for taking Suton solely for his whiteness - he is very white - but the Jazz expect both Boozer and Okur to opt out, and Suton's an experienced big man with an NBA-ready game.

Washington Wizards -- C
You expected an A here, didn't you? Not a chance. They'll be better next year than they would have been had they kept this pick, but making that trade for Foye and Miller - couldn't they have waited another day? - means that they missed out on Ricky Rubio, who would have been a dream come true for D.C. (and Rubio's camp), and would have erased the Wizards' dissapointment about not landing a higher pick in the lottery. Is a lineup of Arenas-Miller-Butler-Jamison-Haywood with Foye off the bench (remember they also have Nick Young) really more appealing than Rubio-Arenas-Butler-Jamison-Haywood? Ricky Rubio running this offense?? Getting rid of Etan's contract was great, and this team could still win 45-55 games - that's not up for debate, as they're going to be a force in the East - but Grunfeld must be kicking himself. I know they didn't expect Rubio to fall this far, but damn.

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