6/29/2005 Insider - Grading the draft


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Oct 3, 2002
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Updated: June 29, 2005, 2:03 PM ET

Grading the NBA Draft, from A+ to all the rest

By Chad Ford

We've billed this year's NBA Draft as being the deepest and most unpredictable in recent memory, and it certainly lived up to that billing.

After the first eight picks (of which we pegged seven correctly in our final mock draft), the draft went a bit haywire.

Lottery prospects like Danny Granger and Gerald Green slid fast.

Problem cases like Charlie Villanueva and Rashad McCants got love in the lottery.

Second-round prospects like Nate Robinson and Jason Maxiell made their way into the first round. So did France's Ian Mahinmi -- yes, Mr. Mahinmi made it.

Former first-round locks like Martynas Andriuskevicus, Andray Blatche and Chris Taft went into freefall, all the way into the netherworld of the second round.

The second round became Bizzaro World, as Ricky Sanchez, Bracey Wright, Cenk Akyol, Von Wafer and Alex Acker got drafted and Randolph Morris, Matt Walsh, Kennedy Winston, Dwyane Jones, Sean Banks, John Gilchrist, Eddie Basden, Will Bynum, Jawad Williams, Angelo Gigli and Keleena Azubuike found themselves unloved and undrafted.

So did your team score?

Here are our grades for each of the 30 teams:

Round 1: Marvin Williams, SF, UNC (No. 2)

Round 2: Salim Stoudamire, SG, Arizona (No. 31)

Round 2: Cenk Akyol, G, Turkey (No. 59, from San Antonio)

Analysis: Can't slam the team that ended up with the best player in the draft, but something just doesn't seem right. Passing on Chris Paul and Deron Williams may come back to haunt the Hawks if they can't land a decent point guard in free agency or via trade. Marvin was a want. Paul and Williams were needs.

They blew their second chance at a lead guard in the second round. They had a shot to land Croatian point guard Roko Ukic at 31 and instead took an undersized shooter in Stoudamire who duplicates what Tony Delk already does for them.

Grade: B

Round 1: Gerald Green, SG, Gulf Shores Academy (No. 18)

Round 2: Ryan Gomes, SF, Providence (No. 50)

Round 2: Orien Greene, PG, Lafayette (No. 53, from Sacramento)

Analysis: Danny Ainge pulled off one of the best drafts of 2004, but he topped himself this year -- and he got two guys named Green/Greene to boot.

Gerald Green should have been a top six pick in the draft based on his talent and potential. Al Jefferson from last year's draft and Green from this year's draft could be superstars down the road.

Gomes was a guy the team seriously considered with the 18th pick and should become a big part of their young core, along with Delonte West and Tony Allen.

Grade: A+

Round 1: Raymond Felton, PG, North Carolina (No. 5)

Round 1: Sean May, PF, North Carolina (No. 13)

Round 2: None

Analysis: Bernie Bickerstaff played it safe and went with two local college stars who will contribute right away and generate ticket sales.

But did Bickerstaff play it too safe? He passed on players with more upside at No. 5 and it's unclear how May will fit alongside Emeka Okafor, Primoz Brezec and Melvin Ely on the front line.

As with last year's bold move to No. 2, they could have traded the No. 5 and No. 13 picks to the Blazers to get their hands on local favorite Chris Paul, who brings more to the floor than Felton and May combined. Instead, the Bobcats are merely filling the team with solid players with good backgrounds.

After drafting in the top five its first two years, Charlotte is still a franchise that needs a true superstar to build the team around.

Grade: B

Round 1: None

Round 2: None

Analysis: No picks this year.

Grade: Incomplete

Round 1: None

Round 2: Martynas Andriuskevicius (No. 44, from the Magic)

Analysis: Owner Dan Gilbert couldn't stand to sit this one out.

He started by shipping Jiri Welsch to the Bucks for a 2006 second-rounder (remember when they gave up a first-rounder for him four months ago?), then they purchased the draft rights to Martynas Andriuskevicius from the Magic. Andriuskevicius was once pegged as a top five pick. Getting him for some cash could turn out to be a big steal down the road.

Grade: B

Round 1: None

Round 2: None

Analysis: No picks this year.

Grade: Incomplete

Round 1: Julius Hodge, SG, NC State (No. 20, from Washington via Orlando)

Round 1: Linas Kleiza, SF, Missouri (No. 27, from Dallas via Utah and Portland)

Round 2: Ricky Sanchez, SF, IMG Academy (No. 35, from Portland)

Round 2: Axel Hervelle, PF, Spain (No. 52)

Analysis: The Nuggets landed two quality players in Hodge and Kleiza and two prospects for the future in Sanchez and Hervelle. All have a lot of talent. Hodge and Kleiza have that toughness that George Karl loves.

But I wonder if the Nuggets missed the target here. The Nuggets needed a big-time shooter to play the three and a center to help spell Marcus Camby. They landed neither even though there were intriguing prospects on the board.

For instance, Francisco Garcia and Johan Petro might have been a better combo for them.

It wasn't a disastrous draft by any stretch of the imagination, but it wasn't all that it could have been either.

Grade: B-

Round 1: Jason Maxiell, PF, Cincinnati (No. 26)

Round 2: Amir Johnson, PF, Westchester HS (No. 56)

Round 2: Alex Acker, G, Pepperdine (No. 60, from Utah via Philadelphia)

Analysis: Joe Dumars knows what he likes. He identified Maxiell early and knew he'd be a great fit on Detroit's squad. He's a mini-Ben Wallace who plays with an intensity and aggression that's rarely seen in the league.

The Pistons went for upside in the late second round and will probably send Johnson and Acker to the NBDL next year.

Grade: B

Round 1: Ike Diogu, PF, Arizona State (No. 9)

Round 2: Monta Ellis, PG, Lainier HS (No. 40)

Round 2: Chris Taft, PF, Pittsburgh (No. 42 from LA Clippers via New Jersey)

Analysis: I must be getting a warm place in my heart for the Warriors.

First it was Andris Biedrins. Then the Baron Davis trade.

And now they've put together a very solid draft that gets them some serious help on the boards from Diogu and Taft and a young prospect who could eventually back up Davis and Jason Richardson in the backcourt.

Some will say the Warriors took Diogu too high. I don't think so. I think the Elton Brand comparisons could be dead on. He'll add much needed toughness and rebounding up front and he's more skilled than teams give him credit for.

We've been tough on Taft most of the year, but in the second round he's a steal. If he plays with a chip on his shoulder, he could end up being the best pick the Warriors made on Tuesday.

Grade: A-

Round 1: Luther Head, PG, Illinois (No. 24)

Round 2: None

Analysis: The Rockets needed a point guard and got, in my estimation, one of the two or three most underrated prospects in the draft at No. 24. Head has the athleticism, jump shot and experience to be a long-term solution for the Rockets at the point. He should have a long career ahead of him.

Grade: A

Round 1: Danny Granger, SF, New Mexico (No. 17)

Round 2: Erazem Lorbek, PF, Slovenia (No. 46)

Analysis: To put this into perspective, had Utah not moved up to No. 3, the Jazz had planned to select Granger with the No. 6 pick in the draft. As it stands, the Pacers, who were trying to move up all night, did nothing ... and watched Granger fall into their lap at No. 17.

Granger is the perfect fit for what the Pacers like to do. He is versatile, can shoot and handle the ball, and most importantly can defend three positions. He may be one of the five best prospects in the draft and one of the few who is ready to come in and contribute immediately. Adding Granger gives the Pacers' title hopes a pretty big shot in the arm.

In the second round, the Pacers landed a guy many believe is the top young player in Europe. He's not flashy, but Larry Bird loves him. In a few years, after an extended stay in Europe, he could become a fixture in Indiana.

Grade: A+

Round 1: Yaroslav Korolev, SF, Russia (No. 12)

Round 2: Daniel Ewing, PG, Duke (No. 32, from Charlotte)

Analysis: Yaroslav Korolev may turn into a Toni Kukoc type of player in three or four years, but it's hard to understand why the Clippers, on the verge of being a serious contender for the playoffs, would pass on the immediate help (and upside) that Danny Granger or Antoine Wright would have brought to the team. The problem appears to be that the Clippers made a promise to a player who didn't quite deserve one.

Ewing was a solid second-round pick who'll be able to play both guard positions backing up Shaun Livingston and Bobby Simmons.

Grade: C

Round 1: Andrew Bynum, C, St. Joseph HS (No. 10)

Round 2: Ronny Turiaf, PF, Gonzaga (No. 37, from Charlotte)

Round 2: Von Wafer, SG, Florida State (No. 39)

Analysis: If Andrew Bynum turns into the dominant big man that the Lakers believe he could be, the Lakers deserve an A+ for the draft. If he turns into the next DeSagana Diop, they get an F.

Given that Phil Jackson wants to win now, it's a little surprising they passed on guys like Granger or May.

Turiaf was a solid second-round pick and Wafer has enough talent to make it worth the Lakers' gamble.

Grade: B

Round 1: Hakim Warrick, PF, Syracuse (No. 19)

Round 2: Lawrence Roberts, PF, Mississippi St. (No. 55, from Seattle)

Analysis: The team debated whether to take Warrick or Julius Hodge. Both are typical Jerry West players: They went to school for four years, play hard and like to win. I didn't see Warrick as a lottery pick, but he makes more sense here. The issue now is that there's a pretty big logjam at the forward position in Memphis, with Pau Gasol, James Posey, Shane Battier and Brian Cardinal all in front of Warrick. But he should make a nice long-term replacement for Stromile Swift.

Drafting Roberts in the second round will give them a solid, albeit undersized rebounder.

Grade: B

Round 1: Wayne Simien, PF, Kansas (No. 29)

Round 2: None

Analysis: When you're drafting at No. 29, you expect to get a role player. The Heat exceeded their own expectations, we're sure. Simien is an upgrade over last season's starting power forward, restrictred free agent Udonis Haslem. If he can stay healthy, Simien could be a productive scorer and rebounder in Miami and serves as a great insurance policy should Haslem bolt in free agency. The Heat couldn't have done any better with their pick.

Grade: A

Round 1: Andrew Bogut, C, Utah (No. 1)

Round 2: Ersan Ilyasova, SF, Turkey (No. 36)

Analysis: Thanks to this draft, the Bucks could be looking at their starting frontcourt of the future.

Bogut will come in immediately and take over the starting center position. He might not be destined to be a superstar, but he should be a top 10 center in the league his rookie year and work his way into the top five eventually.

Ilyasova is a longer-term project, but he has lottery talent that was obscured by an ankle injury last year. He plans on staying in the U.S. and learning his trade with the Bucks, perhaps in the NBDL. If he lives up to his potential, he could be a Andrei Kirilenko type of forward for the Bucks and the perfect complement on the front line to the less athletic Bogut.

While I still think they should have taken Marvin Williams with the first pick, it's awfully tough to take issue with what they did.

Grade: A

Round 1: Rashad McCants, SG, North Carolina (No. 14)

Round 2: Bracey Wright, G, Indiana (No. 47)

Analysis: The Wolves made their first lottery pick since 1998 and swung for the fences. McCants is a high risk, high reward player, a top five talent who had a number of issues that hurt his stock. He could step in and immediately replace Latrell Sprewell at the two if he stays healthy (he has stomach issues) and gets on new coach Dwane Casey's good side. Or he could be a bust.

The Wright pick in the second round is shakier. He's undersized, like McCants, but he can't create his own shot.

Grade: B-

Round 1: Antoine Wright, SG, Texas A&M (No. 15)

Round 2: Mile Ilic, C, Yugoslavia (No. 43)

Analysis: The Nets made an interesting choice. They clearly needed another big man and Hakim Warrick, one of their favorites, was on the board. They also needed some shooting and both Antoine Wright and Danny Granger had slid to them. What I don't understand is why they didn't split the difference and grab Granger. He could have been a three or a four in the Nets' system and would have added great defense, toughness and sharp-shooting to the team. Nothing against Wright, but I think Granger was a better prospect.

Ilic is a solid prospect in the second round. In a few years, he could be part of the answer in the middle for New Jersey.

Grade: B

Round 1: Chris Paul, PG, Wake Forest (No. 4)

Round 2: Brandon Bass, PF, LSU (No. 33)

Analysis: Landing the best point guard in the draft and a sleeper power forward in the second? Nice. Things couldn't have gone much better for New Orleans. Well, the Raptors could've taken their offer of Jamaal Magloire for the No. 7 and the No. 16 and the Hornets could've really started rebuilding. Still, it's not horrible that the Raptors turned them down.

With Paul, Magloire and J.R. Smith, the Hornets have a great core and plenty of cap room to fill in the blanks at the three and four.

Grade: A

Round 1: Channing Frye, C, Arizona (No. 8)

Round 1: Nate Robinson, PG, Washington (No. 21, from Chicago via Phoenix)

Round 1: David Lee, PF, Florida (No. 30, from Phoenix via San Antonio)

Analysis: The Knicks have been the worst drafting team in the NBA over the last decade, according to our John Hollinger.

Isiah Thomas did a good job of reversing course on Tuesday. He may have taken Frye a bit high, but you can't blame him. The Knicks needed size and Frye was clearly the best center on the board at No. 8.

I really like the Robinson pick. He's an electric player who will, if nothing else, keep Knicks fans interested next year.

Lee was a safe pick at the end of the first round, though I think Isiah could have afforded to take a risk at No. 30 with a high school player like Andray Blatche.

Overall, it was a solid performance for the Knicks.

Grade: B+

Round 1: Fran Vazquez, PF, Spain (No. 11)

Round 2: Travis Diener, PG, Marquette (No. 38, from Toronto)

Round 2: Marcin Gortat, C, Poland (No. 57, from New Orleans via Phoenix)

Analysis: Orlando pulled one of the surprises of the draft when it drafted Vazquez at No. 11, because no one knew the team was even interested. But it's a good pick for the Magic. They needed size and toughness in the paint and Vazquez can provide that right away. I'm a little surprised they didn't take a swingman who can shoot the ball, but obviously they felt like they couldn't afford to pass on a big.

Diener is an interesting pick in the second round to play behind Jameer Nelson, another small point guard. I wonder if this means that Steve Francis is done playing the point (or just done in Orlando).

The Magic also acquired Gortat, an athletic center from Poland who should be a great fit in the Magic's up-tempo offense.

Grade: B

Round 1: None

Round 2: Louis Williams, SG, South Gwinnett HS (No. 45)

Analysis: I don't understand this pick by Philly. Williams is an Iverson knockoff. But wasn't Willie Green the same thing? And isn't Iverson the real thing?

Williams is so far away from being an NBA player you have to wonder whether he's really worth the Sixers' time. He'll always be an athletic two guard who's undersized.

Grade: C-


Round 2: Dijon Thompson, SF, UCLA (No. 54, from Houston via New York)

Analysis: The team traded away the draft rights to both Nate Robinson and Marcin Gortat and picked up the rights to Dijon Thompson.

Thompson is a good fit for the Suns, but Robinson and Gortat were better. I know that the Suns made this trade to get the Knicks to pull the trigger on the Quentin Richardson-for-Kurt Thomas swap and to give themselves a better chance to bring back Joe Johnson, but it's still unfortunate for basketball fans that we didn't get to see what Robinson could do in the Suns' run-and-gun system.

For the second straight year, it's a wash on draft night for Phoenix.

Grade: C

Round 1: Martell Webster, SG, Seattle Prep (No. 6, from Utah)

Round 1: Jarrett Jack, PG, Georgia Tech (No. 22, from Denver)

Analysis: The Blazers didn't need a point guard and did the right thing by moving out. But did they take the right guys? I love Webster, but am not sure he's really as good a prospect as fellow high school star Gerald Green. He's more ready, but his ceiling is a little lower. That said, I think Webster is a pretty good pick here. He could be a Glen Rice-type player and give the Blazers some much-needed shooting.

Adding Jack via trade with another first-round pick was a nice move. He should help relieve a lot of the pressure on Sebastian Telfair.

Grade: B+

Round 1: Francisco Garcia, SG, Louisville (No. 23)

Round 2: None

Analysis: Didn't the Kings make this same pick last year when they selected Kevin Martin in the late first round? Martin is a long swingman who can shoot and score. Garcia is a long swingman who can shoot and score. Garcia is an upgrade over Martin, but not by that much. I have to wonder if the Kings weren't better off trying to add some size. Johan Petro, Wayne Simien, David Lee and Chris Taft were all available when the Kings picked.

Grade: C+

Round 1: Ian Mahinmi, PF, France (No. 28)

Round 2: None

Analysis: I wish I could say that I knew everything there is to know about Mahinmi, but the truth is that the information on him is sketchy. Normally that would raise eyebrows in a first-round pick, but given the Spurs' fantastic track record in recent drafts, it's hard to second guess them. He's a long, athletic big man who plays defense already. He's a long-term project, but given the success of their other projects, Manu Ginobili and Luis Scola (who should be arriving in San Antonio soon), the Spurs have shown what upside is all about.

Grade: Incomplete

Round 1: Johan Petro, C, France (No. 25)

Round 2: Mickael Gelabale, SF, France (No. 48, from Memphis)

Analysis: I think the Sonics did a great job getting maximum value late in the first round. Both Petro and Gelabale have great potential and the Sonics have the option of bringing them to the U.S. or continuing to develop their game in Europe. Look for Petro to come now and Gelabale to come later.

In three or four years, we may look back at what the Sonics did as some of the best moves of the draft.

Grade: B+

Round 1: Charlie Villanueva, PF, Connecticut (No. 7)

Round 1: Joey Graham, SF, Oklahoma State (No. 16, from Philadelphia via Denver and New Jersey)

Round 2: Roko Ukic, PG, Croatia (No. 41, from Orlando)

Round 2: Uros Slokar, PF, Slovenia (No. 58, from Miami)

Analysis: What are Rob Babcock and Co. thinking?

Last year they really reached for big man Rafael Araujo at No. 8 and paid a huge price. So what did they do this year at No. 7? They really reached for a talented but troubled big man who happens to play the same position as their best player, Chris Bosh. Villanueva has the skills to be worthy of a top-seven pick, but it's questionable whether he'll ever have the attitude or drive. Even if he does get it together, why not take a more sensible route and address their problems at center, point guard or small forward? I just don't get it.

They compounded the mistake by taking Graham over Danny Granger, given that I haven't talked to one scout who had Graham rated over Granger. Babcock talked about improving the team's defense, but Granger is actually a superior defender and a much better offensive player. Passing on Granger at No. 16 was inexcusable.

They saved themselves from a grade of F by landing Ukic, a guy they flirted with at 16, with the 41st pick. Ukic has the ability to come in and dethrone Rafer Alston at the point immediately. He's a great second-round pick.

Grade: D+

Round 1: Deron Williams, PG, Illinois (No. 3, from Portland)

Round 2: C.J. Miles, SG, Skyline HS (No. 34)

Round 2: Robert Whaley, C, Walsh (No. 51, from Chicago via Houston)

Analysis: GM Kevin O'Connor did the right thing by swapping the No. 6 and No. 27 pick (along with a future first-rounder from Detroit) to the Blazers for the No. 3. I think they should've gone with Chris Paul, but it's hard to criticize the selection of Deron Williams, who may be a little bit better fit in their system.

I'm not a huge fan of either of their second-round picks. Miles is a project and Whaley is interesting, but he's got enough background issues to scare Dennis Rodman. How's that going to fly in Utah?

Grade: A-

Round 1: None

Round 2: Andray Blatche, PF, South Kent Prep (No. 49)

Analysis: Armed with just one second-round pick, the Wizards made the most of it. Blatche has the talent to have warranted a mid first-round selection. He's long, athletic and skilled, and he has heart. I have no idea how he slipped this far, but it turned out to be a great second-round pick for the Wizards.

Grade: B+



Suns are my Kryptonite!
Jan 3, 2003
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Laveen, AZ
Dallas Maverics are arguably the only team that did worse than us in the draft last night! :D Forget his grades! Look at the Mavs! At least they didn't invite all their season ticket holders to their arena just to make them mad! :biglaugh:


Registered User
Oct 3, 2002
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Round 2: Dijon Thompson, SF, UCLA (No. 54, from Houston via New York)

Analysis: The team traded away the draft rights to both Nate Robinson and Marcin Gortat and picked up the rights to Dijon Thompson.

Thompson is a good fit for the Suns, but Robinson and Gortat were better. I

As far as I am concerned, Thompson is as good a pick as Nate Robinson.
Not that Robinson is not going to be a good player, but we did not need a point at #21.

But as far as helping the suns we should be able to get a backup point in free agency that is better than him for a couple years. Barbosa might come on and be great with another summer league and training camp.

But what is the deal with selling Gortat? If they did not want him, they could have drafted one of these guys and gave him a look, and if he did not turn out drop him. $$$$$? The money for Gortat can not have been much.

John Gilchrist
Steve Graham
Randolph Morris
Kennedy Winston
Sean Banks
Aaron Miles
Will Conroy
Angelo Gigli

I realize they still can, but they would have had his rights for sure to try him. It seems like they need one rookie free agent that can take the 14th spot on the team. Thompson might take the 13th.

Let us hope they have something going like getting Warrick from Memphis because they did not want their pick, or a player or two they have targeted to sign as free agents, etc......


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