[NBA] The 4-Point Play: InsidePulse grades the NBA

It’s tough to know where 1863 ends and 2006 begins. In 1863 there was sewage, mixed with gore, in the streets of New York City. A draft had just begun and the masses were really pissed off about it. There was looting in the buildings and frustration spread from building to building along with the fires that couldn’t (or wouldn’t) be put out by the government.

While we can blame 1863 on what amounted to treasonous Democrats trying to thwart Abe Lincoln’s Civil War effort, we only have Isaiah Thomas to blame for the nightmare in MSG on our draft night, 2006. The mood was cantankerous, at best, and boos reigned down over anything that got in the path of the frothing fans in New York. J.J Redick, poor poor Andrea Bargnani, just about anyone was fair game.

Tonight we’re going to look at the draft from your point of view, no matter who your favorite team is. I’m going to try to give you the straight poop about who you got. No main-steam-media spin, no hommerism allowed…..hell I might even try to defend old Zeke one more time for kicks. Who knows! Anyhow, let’s get to grading.

However, before I do I think it’s important you know my criteria:

1) Did the team get a good player? This is the most important thing about the draft right? You’d be surprised how man “experts” seem to think about this last. I didn’t care where it happened as much as I cared if the team got a solid player.

2) Did the team get good value? After looking at what kind of player a team got, I look at the teams’ ability to read the draft board and get value for the pick. If #1 is the “who”, #2 is the “where”

3) Did the team fill a need? Most folks give this the highest priority. In my view the biggest “need” for any team is simply more talent. Once you get talent you can find a way to make it work…be it trading the talent or whatever. However, filling needs is still important enough to use in the grading system.

With that understood, let’s do it.

Atlanta Hawks
Shelden Williams; Solomon Jones

If you want to know why the Hawks are one of the worst franchises in professional sports you need only look at how they handled this draft. They DID get the kind of player they need in Williams, however they announced to the whole world they were taking him 5th. Not only was nobody on earth going to take this workman-like kid 5th, but nobody would ever consider moving ahead of them to get him.

What they did was make a promise to a player that they didn’t have to make a promise to. Even if you want this guy it’s silly because you never know how the draft board is going to fall. You might find a player in your lap that you couldn’t believe you had a shot at, or you could trade down and still get the player you want…as long as nobody knows exactly who you want. To me this wreaks of a team that had no plan. They couldn’t let him fall because they didn’t know what to do if he were taken more in line with where other teams had him. They weren’t confident enough in themselves to take the risk. So they got no value from the pick.

Solid player, I’d even say he fills a big need, but not a great player and the team didn’t get value.

Grade: C-

Boston Celtics
Rajon Rondo; Leon Powe; traded #7 and LaFrentz for Telfair and Ratliff

This is messy. The question that Danny Ainge had to answer was in relation to his feelings about the PG crop in this year’s draft. Clearly he didn’t feel like it was strong enough that he could get a good enough one at 7. He guessed that Telfair would have gone around 7th if he were in this draft….and he’s probably close to right. He also saved his owner over 10 million in cash by taking Ratliff over LaFrentz because Ratliff’s contract expires sooner.

In the end, however, he was able to pick up a quality PG later in the draft by nabbing Rajon Rondo. One could argue that neither he nor Telfair could shoot, and by extension that maybe Ainge could have gone a different way. That’s a tough call, but clearly Rondo is a good prospect and getting him at 21 is very solid value. Ainge walked away from this draft with some PG’s he can use for his team, some players he can use if he tries to make a play for Allen Iverson, and he walked away saving some cash to boot.

It’s very tough to argue much with this draft.

Grade: B+

Charlotte Bobcats
Adam Morrison; Ryan Hollins

The dumbest team name in the NBA certainly didn’t act dumb in this draft. I was mixed about Morrison going into this draft. I think it was really weak of him to start crying during his final loss against UCLA…BEFORE the game was even over. However, it shows a kind of passion that I think makes mediocre players into good players; I think it also makes good players into great ones.

The guy should mesh well with his team, Gerald Wallace really makes this pick work because he can take the tougher cover and leave the weaker player for Morrison. Also, Morrison should be able to score in the NBA right off the bat, which is never a bad skill to have.

Ryan Hollins is a pure athlete who needs some work. Either as a 12th man or in the NBDL this guy won’t be playing for the Bobcats in the near future. But we’re talking about the 50th pick here so getting anything is a bonus. All in all if you’re a Bobcat fan ( I didn’t think there were many), but if you’re one you should be pretty happy.

Grade: A

Chicago Bulls
Tyrus Thomas; Thabo Sefolosha; the contract of Viktor Khryapa

This was a strange draft for the Bulls. First, they traded down because they realized they could get Tyrus Thomas at #4. The Blazers gave them Khryapa to move down where, in fact, they did take Thomas. Later they dealt for Sefolosha.

The interesting part of this is that Thomas believes he is a SF. Khryapa IS a SF and played well in Portland. Thabo is also a gritty, tough, athletic swing player that figures to be a combo SF/SG. When you add that to Ben Gordon and Deng, that leaves then with a heck of a lot of swing players, while still only having Tyson Chandler manning the middle.

My hunch is that Chicago is preparing for a deal that will take some parts away from this logjam. It could mean Gordon goes and is replaced by Sefolosha, it could mean that Deng is gone. It could also simply be GM John Paxon stockpiling talent so that he doesn’t have to overpay a wing player. Only he really knows.

I won’t comment much on Tyrus Thomas in that he could wind up being anything from Shawn Marion to Stromile Swift. Your guess is as good as mine…which is as good as Paxon’s. One thing I can say is that the safer move would have been taking Aldridge at 2 and sticking him in the middle with Chandler. Paxson disagreed and his track record is good enough that Bulls fans should feel VERY comfortable taking a wait-and-see approach.

Grade: B+

Cleveland Cavs
Shannon Brown; Daniel Gibson; Ejike Ugboja

It appeared to me that the Cavs were clearly on the look out for another wing player who can defend and hit some shots when called on. One would think they had that with Larry Hughes, however, it appears like maybe Hughes isn’t fond of playing for the Cavs. This draft could be to find his eventual replacement, or it could be used to light a fire under his rear. It’s probably a bit of both.

Brown is interesting in that he’s a small player who plays really big. He has long arms and fantastic athletic ability. I felt like it was a bit of a slip for him to end up in this spot and in that case I think the Cavs got good value. My hunch is that teams might have thought he was too small to play SG and clearly he doesn’t pass well enough to be a PG. In fact he might not pass well enough to be a player in the league, but with Lebron James his job is going to be to hit those open jumpers and cover players that would force James to run all over the building.

Gibson I almost like just as much because I think he has a real role on this team. He’s a scoring PG on a team that won’t require him to act like a traditional PG. His skills should be maximized on this team, whereas on another team he’d just be a tweener guard with little shot to shine.

Ugboja was horrid in Argentina and I don’t see much from him.

Grade: B

Dallas Mavs
Maurice Ager

Really nice pick from the Mavs here, a team who has a history of fantastic picks later in the draft. Ager is a slasher who is a solid defender and seems to have inherited the MSU gene that gives him a good personality. This isn’t a prima donna you have to worry about ticking star players off because of a want for more shots or attention. Title teams almost always have a few players like him around.

One of the best things about Ager is that he has the physical abilities of most players who happen to have a big head. You can tell that the team feels like it lost the title because it didn’t have enough players like him.

Lastly, with Jerry Stackhouse leaving soon and with the team clearly trying to deal Marquis Daniels (a mistake in my mind) this guy will make a good replacement to them when they go.

Grade: B+ (added to this grade was the acquisition of a draft pick in 07. Solid move)

Denver Nuggets
N/A

The team traded Leon Powe to the Celtics for their pick in 07. Good move considering it should be essentially a trade up in what is considered a far far superior draft. Why take a player you don’t want or need when you don’t have to?

Grade: C+

Detroit Pistons
Will Blalock; Cheick Samb for Maurice Evans

First off I can’t see Samb without thinking if Rusty Staub, a MLB player for the Expos. Anyhow, Will Blalock is a really nice pick for the draft position. You can’t argue with the 60th pick overall in a weak draft and still getting a player like Blalock.

Blalock is a true PG with some solid vision and good quicks. He’s a tough kid who seemed to have a mentality in which he feels like he has to earn everything he gets. It might come from his folks or maybe from being at a smaller school in Iowa, which always sits under the shadow of Iowa University. He isn’t a great shooter, but he has 6’5 wingspan ( he’s 6foot) and is a great defender.

Samb was acquired because they must like his play abroad and because it rids them of Evans’ contract. If you don’t need X player why not expand your roster by using that money on someone else, while leaving Samb overseas to figure out his game. Good stuff from the Pistons considering what they had to work with.

Grade: A-

Golden State Warriors
Patrick O’Brien; Kosta Perovic

If there any Bay Area racists who are cheering the Warriors for drafting a talented Irishman; hold your horses. O’Brien was the very African-American center at Bradley. O’Brien is the kind of player you almost never want your team to take, unless he works out.

He is inconsistent, not all that nasty, was a later bloomer, and didn’t even attract much attention coming out of high school. He also isn’t much of a leaper or physical force inside.

Great Phillip, what the HELL is he good at? Good questions. He does have good footwork that seemed to get better as his career went on. In the NCAA’s he played well and his growth in that area showed. He is a decent-to-good shot blocker who isn’t afraid to mix it up with people, we’ll see if that carries over when he joins the NBA. Finally, he has the frame to get bigger and stronger. If he does that and adds some nasty to his game then he could just work out. Lord knows the bar isn’t set high in GS. Just about any warm body can play center there!!

Perovic is huge and should stink. He’s a bit like Illgauskus in the injury department and yet has none of the offensive game. This makes him just about worthless.

Grade: C-

Houston Rockets
Steve Novak; acquired Shane Battier for Stromile Swift and Rudy Gay

This pick, almost more than any other, is getting the buzz among the draft guru’s. Its split pretty evenly among those who think the move stunk and those that don’t. The question really comes down to your view about how fast Rudy Gay is going to develop.

Understand, the Rockets face some injury issues with Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady. McGrady always seems to be having back issues, and few players with the body type of Yao Ming stay healthy for very many years. It’s very possible both men will be shells of themselves in 3-4 years. You just never know. With that in mind it makes more sense that the Rockets would get a player that, 1) Fits coach JVG well; 2) Can help them right away; 3) Plays a style of ball that co-exists well with high scoring superstars.

No doubt Rocket fans were upset thinking about what Gay can do on the wings, and if he bursts right away then the team made a big mistake. However, I think it’s just as likely that Gay’s alleged laziness getting him in hot water with JVG AND prevents him from developing as fast as the team needs.

Novak is a Matt Bullard part 2. One can make the case he’s a better shooter than JJ Redick and he’s a player you MUST guard and not leave open on double teams to Ming and McGrady. Solid pick. I know many Rocket fans are upset at the team for taking a very “unsexy” Shane Battier, however I think once they see how the parts fit they will change their tune.

Grade: A-

Indiana Pacers
Shawne Williams; James White (they gave up the 45th pick and 2 2nds for him)

I gotta say this is a bit of a head-scratcher for me. Even if they realized Peja Stojakovic was going to leave, they had drafted the promising Danny Granger at this same position last year. It’s difficult to see either man playing PF so my guess is that they still have questions about Grangers long term health (he had leg concerns going into last year’s draft) or feel like Williams is great insurance. It’s possible that when Granger’s rookie deal is up, the team declines to sign him long term unless they are 100% sure that his injury past….is in his past.

Williams is very versatile and seems to rise to the occasion when challenged. Some that versatility will be questioned because there are some issues with toughness, but I didn’t see a problem with his toughness in the games I saw. He seemed to have some spunk…some dog… in him. He is a quieter personality and sometimes people mistake that.

James White better be good. The Pacers gave up some nice pieces to get him. White is a senior SG from Cincy who fell because of a lack of toughness, but who the Pacers probably like because he has 4-year experience, amazing athletic ability, and can play the kind of defense Ricky Carslile wants. Only time will tell if they made the right choice here, but as a Pacer fan I think there is enough good about him to be excited.

Grade: C+

L.A. Clippers
Paul Davis; Guillermo Diaz

Not a throwback player by any means, if anything he resembles a bunch of the European players coming out. In fact if his name were Paul Bargnani he might be a top ten pick.

What he has is a solid post up game with a really silky perimeter shot, for a big man. He seems to improve just a little bit every year, however he’s a senior so who knows how much better he’ll get. He appears to be the kind of player who is a coach favorite because he seems to keep his mouth shut and so what folks expect of him in regards to his role on the team.

What he doesn’t have is a very athletic body. He’s a bit of a plugger, and doesn’t block a ton of shots when consider the kid is 7ft and about 270 lbs. He has some problems with his hands, not deformities mind you, but he doesn’t have soft hands and turns the ball over more than you’d want from a kid who believes he’s mostly an offensive threat.

At the end of the day it’s tough to quibble with this pick because it’s so late (#34), and I don’t really know in what other direction the club could have been really locked on going. He’s very solid value.

Diaz is the exact opposite. He’s fast, he’s strong, he’s small, and he’s tough. He dropped in this draft due to his not having a true position. Much like Shannon Brown he’s a man without a position who will benefit from being paired with a large player who can pass. In L.A. that player is Shaun Livingston. Shaun’s size will allow Diaz to essentially play a SG role, while guarding the opposing teams’ smaller player. Guys like this end up being steals for teams with tall playmakers, as opposed to bad fits for more traditional teams where the smallest player on the court is the PG.

Grade: B+

L.A. Lakers
Jordan Farmer; Maurice Evans for a draft pick; Danilo Pinnock

I’m really not sure where to start here. Farmer doesn’t seem to fit well with the Lakers. He’s small, he isn’t physical, and he is going to be way more turnover prone than Phil Jackson is going to be able to put up with. This doesn’t mean he has no strengths, but it does mean that his negatives seem to be in the exact places that hurt a triangle offense the most.

What he can do is make exciting plays. At UCLA he seemed to see plays happen that you know lots of other college PG’s wouldn’t see. With many college PG’s we, at home, see a player open first and we can actually see the gears turning while the PG on the court finds that man. With Farmer, once we see the man, it seems like he already has and the ball is in mid air. It makes him fun to watch and probably a joy to play with. I’m sure that’s the type of skill that drew L.A. to him. I’m also sure that they watched a ton of him live being that he played so close by. However, I still have a hard time seeing where he fits in unless Jackson really makes a concerted effort to let the rookie mistakes go and allows him to be him. Because there is less pressure on the Lakers, and because Kobe Bryant has such a large amount of pull in the franchise, maybe Phil doesn’t feel like he has to be as strict as he once was. I guess Laker fans will find out.

The trade for Evans was stupid and if Pinnock is still on this team at this time next year I’ll by my editor a steak dinner.

Grade: C (it’s not a D, because at least Farmer IS a good player)

Memphis
Rudy Gay; Kyle Lowry; Alexander Johnson; traded away Shane Battier but received Sto Swift

I’m of the opinion here that Shane Battier carries more value for the Rockets than he did for Memphis. The Rockets have their stars, the Grizz really need a few more to help Pau Gasol. From that vantage point this trade could work out great for Jerry West. The team clearly had gone as far as it was going to without a major influx of talent so why not get one of the most talented guys in the draft? This is one of those rare cases where both teams probably made the right decision.

We all know the book on Gay; he has the talent and physical attributes to be special. The doubts come in when you try to figure out why he wasn’t dominating at the college level. His supporters will say he deferred to the older kids on the team and played a team role, his detractors will tell you that he lacks the drive necessary to be great.

It is at that point that most realistic fans and writers have to shrug their shoulders and make a guess. The best way to figure out if he has the mental goods is to talk to his coaches and interview him yourself. I haven’t done it, you haven’t done it, and most people telling you what kind of player he WILL be…hasn’t done it.

Whatever the case is Jerry West had enough information to feel comfortable dealing a great team guy, in Battier, for Gay. He probably did this with the knowledge that Gay has folks like Eddie Jones to lean on, and a fairly well respected coach who takes little guff from the kiddies.

I like the other picks by Memphis. Lowry is a natural born leader and was probably looked over heavily by West. He isn’t the greatest shooter and on a team that doesn’t run that’s always going to be an issue. However, he’s tough, quick, and smart. Typically there’s always a place in the league for PG’s like that….look at Eric Snow.

Johnson is a thick rebounder who could surprise some people. He’s a vacuum on the court, hungrily digesting rebounding at very good rate. He’s athletic and a huge guy with good hops and some decent quickness. He does tend to lose focus during games and I think he fell due to the phenomenon that happens where once a player doesn’t get picked by a certain pick teams start wondering what’s wrong with him. Lots of teams who assumed they wouldn’t have a shot at him didn’t work him out and the tumble continues. I believe, however, he will be a nice addition to the club.

Certainly, this is a risk/reward draft for Jerry West. If all these guys make it then this draft will be a franchise turning point; if they don’t it will set this team back a couple of years.

Grade: B+

Miami Heat

This draft went in the Shaq trade and I doubt the Heat regrets that. They stood still and watched the chaos ensue. As a result they have no grade.

Grade: NA

Milwaukee Bucks
David Noel; Damir Markota (acquired in a trade with the Spurs)

There’s nothing particularly stunning about Noel; he’s a college big man that’s way too small to play big in the NBA. He has some good athletic ability but not the skill set really that is required to fit in where the Bucks are probably going to want him to. I really don’t think he has the ability to make the team, but he is tough and he’s a good solider. It could turn out that the coach wants to keep him around strictly for that reason alone. If I’m a Bucks fan, however, I’d expect nothing from him….ever. Then, if he does something, it’s a bonus.

Markota I wonder about simply because the Spurs let him go. Typically when a team without a track record makes a trade with a team that has a sterling track record….I’m never too excited about it for the non-track record club. What you have to hope here is that this kid brings his fantastic 3 point ability to the Bucks and that he can make the team by knocking down shots from deep range. I guess you just hope to God this guy is Vlad Radmanovic.

Grade: D-/F+

Minnesota T-Wolves
Randy Foye; Craig Smith; Loukas Mavrokefalids

Boy do I have some questions about this draft. Minnesota had Brandon Roy in their clutches when they traded him, basically, for Randy Foye and some cash. My first question is why they trust in the injured Rashad McCants enough to not feel the need to draft a SG, even when the SG that fell to them was one of the best in the draft. But, ok, you feel like you don’t need a SG of the future so you try to trade for a PG. Well, Randy Foye doesn’t really have the game that leads you to believe he can be a real PG in the league. At best you’re looking at a slower Jason Terry-type PG who is really a combo guard. You’re banking on the hope that this kid is not only good, but has the requisite skills to be a PG of the future. To me that’s a hell of a lot of hoping when you just had the most polished player in the draft on your team to begin with in Roy. I’m fully aware Foye could turn out fine, but I still don’t like the trade at all.

Craig Smith isn’t really tall enough to be an NBA PF, however, if he had the athletic ability to compensate he might be ok. Unfortunately, for T-Wolves fans….he doesn’t. Smith probably only makes the most talent bare of squads and I don’t see him making this one. It’s as if they didn’t know what to do with the pick so they just picked a guy. Good teams don’t waste picks on guys they don’t really want. And if the team DOES really want him then I must humbly take issue with their scouting department.

There is no point mentioning Mavrokefalids because he isn’t making this club; another wasted pick.

Grade: C- (Foye can be a good player, but question the value, and the talent of the rest of their draft)

New Jersey Nets
Marcus Williams; Josh Boone; Hassan Adams

NJ fans are gonna hate me here. I disagree with everyone on this one so take my opinion with a grain of salt, but I don’t see the upside of drafting an out of shape PG who steals computers in his off time. He does have all the PG skills you need on offense; I really have no quibble with the pick here. However, he obviously lacks a maturity level that most rational humans just don’t understand. You’re on your way to being an NBA player and steal computers? You are trying to impress future employers and you show up out of shape? I would be like me talking to my editors in pig latin….it’s just not becoming of someone who takes what they do seriously. If that’s his attitude one wonders what will happen with some free time and a crap-load of money. I guess the upside is he won’t feel the need to steal stuff now!!

Josh Boone is a vastly overrated player who is what Jason Collins is on a mediocre day for Jason Collins. Josh Boone lacks that muscle in your chest that you need to be a top player. Some guys are just wired to be passive and he is.

Hassan Adams was a really nice player at Arizona, but has some holes in his game in terms of shooting and had some real off-court problems during his failed senior year. The Nets took him late in the 2nd round though so you can’t get too worked up about the risk. Adams is about as good, physically, as you can get in the explosion department. He does lack some actual skill because he’s never pressed out of a comfort zone because of his physical tools. What I do like about though is he’s a tough kid who works on his game and defends well. If he head is together and he can make the switch from a college 3, to an NBA 2, he could be a steal.

Grade: C

New Orleans Hornets
Hilton Armstrong; Cedric Simmons; Marcus Vinicius

What I like about this draft is that, unlike many teams, you could see that they have a philosophy about the kinds of players they want and they stick to it. With the team already having Chris Paul the Hornets were looking for big men that could run the floor and make themselves available for fast break dunks. They didn’t need greatly skilled players because the hope is they aren’t in as many half court sets as most teams. If the players have young legs and can beat their men down the court, they’ll be fine with that. It’s a certain prototype they feel best fits them.

Armstrong is a combo C/PF type. He’s fast, active, and a dunking machine. A lot of people say he’s a good player and has some range on his jumper, but I didn’t see it and frankly I would say he’s still lacking in those areas. While he does have the good hands needed to be a good passer, I didn’t see the vision yet….but by no means am I saying he won’t get that.

Simmons is a smaller PF maybe in the mold of an Antonio McDyess. Not the all around player “Dice” was in his prime, but he’s got a similar body make up and size. Based on potential he’s probably a better prospect than Armstrong simply because his game has some different wrinkles in it. He has a better jumper, better feet, and because of the better feet he has a better post game.

Vinicius is a name most people probably don’t know. Personally, I haven’t see him on tape because he played in Brazil. So I have to go by the 8 scouting reports I’ve seen, his specs, and my personal gut….take all that with a grain of salt.

Vinicius appears to be a project in every way imaginable. He’s a 6’9 SF that runs like a deer. If the name of the game is a variety of skills…this guy has em. He can shoot the 3 very well, he has very solid hands and an understanding of the game that helps him make plays, and he’s very dangerous on the break.

His problem is going to be defense…..he plays very little. Some of it is an underdeveloped body while some of it is simply that he doesn’t really seem motivated to play that side of the court. He must get better because nobody who is that much of a liability is going to stick in the NBA. It just won’t happen.

Grade: A

New York Knicks
Renaldo Blackman; Mardy Collins

Oh those NY Knicks. Let’s start by saying that the conspiracy machine has already spun into overtime. There are rumors about that GM Isiah Thomas picked both men because they are represented by the same people that represent Lebron James. The idea being that NY would have a better shot of landing James in 2008, if the team picked both me. I can’t confirm or deny any of that suffice to say that I wouldn’t be shocked at all if it were true.

What I can confirm is that Blackman was the MVP in the NIT during which time Thomas was in the building and watched him in almost every game. It very well could be that those games left a huge impression on Thomas to the point where he decided it was a man he couldn’t risk losing, thus taking him at pick 20. Understand, no team had this kid going in the top 40 so it does strike me as odd that Thomas felt threatened that he might lose him. Thomas has said, or it was rumored, he took Blackman at 20 because he thought the Suns were going to take him right after….thus before Thomas’ next pick at 29. The Suns, for their part, laughed at that idea and said they didn’t grade him first round talent. They could be right, they DO have reason to lie in either case….so who knows.

Blackman is a tough kid with good athletic ability, drive, and intensity. He’s a really good defender which is probably a huge reason Thomas wanted him and he can rebound the ball well from either the 3 or the 4. Another thing that I think led to this pick was that Blackman is the type of player that does what coaches want him to do, he plays his role well, and he isn’t going to clash with star players. Chemistry was probably a major aspect.

All that said he does NOT grade out at first round talent and I see no reason that Thomas couldn’t have taken him later. It was a reach under any circumstance or criteria you want to use and only him being a very good player will ever justify this pick.

Mardy Collins is basically Aaron Mckie redux. Tough and versatile he survived playing at Temple, for John Chaney, and lived to tell about it. Again, he isn’t going to clash with high-ego players and he will do what’s asked in whatever role you wanna put him in. It’s obvious that Thomas wanted glue-guys with these picks and in that way he got what he wanted. However, he did reach for Blackman and didn’t handle the value well at all.

One last note: The Knicks would have had the #2 pick in this years draft, but traded it away in a deal that netted them Eddy Curry.

Grade: D- (only because Thomas is a good drafted will I entertain the idea that these guys might work out. Thus no F)

Orlando Magic
J.J. Redick; James Augustine

Before the rules were changed on hand checking and zone defenses this would have been a horrific first round pick. Guys like Redick just didn’t make it in that NBA. Because, however, the rules have moved a bit more towards college (and international) ball, I think this pick can work out.

Redick is a very good 3 point shooter and one would assume he would have a lot of opportunities with Dwight Howard and Darko Milicic down low. The key for this is going to be Redick making it as a starter and actually playing with both men. If he’s forced to come off the bench because he doesn’t defend, then he won’t have the bigs there to draw the doubles, thus he won’t get those same shots he’s going to have to see to make a real impact. I’m not as high on this pick as some because I think his defense leaves a lot on the table and I think there is a great possibility that he rides the bench. If he plays with the back up C and PF he won’t be nearly as effective and I think he will lost his value quick. Time will tell.

Augustine was very nice pick late in the draft. I can’t see him being cut which means he makes the team as a 41st pick; you can’t really ask for much more than that. What he brings the team is a rebounder who hustles and is very fluid in motion. To me it means he still has some room to expand his offensive game, while proving enough “big man” skills to be a very valuable back up during his career. I don’t ever see him being starter quality, but every team needs a guy like this and to get him in the 2nd round is coup.

Grade C+

Philadelphia 76ers
Rodney Carney; acquired the Draft rights to Bobby Jones from Minnesota for a future second-round pick; acquired the Draft rights to Edin Bavcic from Toronto for cash considerations

This one is tough. Philly was sitting at 13 with several good players still on the board. Ronnie Brewer, Cedric Simmons, Shawne Williams among them. Philly chose a Swiss international for Chicago and then traded down to 16 to take Carney. In that trade they acquired future 2nd and some cash. Cash they ended up using for Edin Bavic.

Thinking this move is a good one is based on two assumptions:

1) There is little difference in talent from Rodney Carney to Simmons/Brewer/Williams.
2) The money spent on Bavic was well spent.

In my view #1 is close, and I think they could have gone either way. However, #2 was horrible as Bavic is so worthless I’m not even going to waste time talking about him.

The issue that I’m sure Billy King had to deal with was that he must feel like he was set at the SG, PG, and PF positions. Assuming King knew he couldn’t deal Iverson for awhile he probably didn’t want to risk taking a PG just in case he had to keep AI for one more season. My guess is that he felt pressed to take a SF with his first round pick. If he’s set on Carney why get him at 13 when he can deal down and get him at 16?

In that respect he, using that mentality, he made a smart move. Now for the analysis. I don’t think there is a lick of difference between Carney and Williams. I think a 2nd round pick isn’t all that valuable and the money he got he ended up wasting on Bavic. At the end of the day this move is pointless and he better hope that Brewer doesn’t end up being as good as many NBA scouts think he could be.

Grade: C-

Phoenix Suns
Cavs 2nd round pick; cash; some cap space

Suns fans might not view this as a very productive draft, but it really was. They felt no need to burn roster spaces on players they didn’t like. Also, they wanted some more financial flexibility to help with the resigning of guys like Boris Diaw and Tim Thomas. Similarly, next years rookie draft is light years better than this one, so dealing a pick now for a pick then seems very bright indeed.

Understand, the biggest limiting factor in the NBA isn’t the salary cap. I know folks want you to think that it is, but it isn’t. There are exceptions, luxury taxes, the ability to go over the cap to resign home players, etc. The biggest limitation on an NBA team is: YOU ONLY GET X AMOUNT OF ROSTER SPOTS. That’s the factor.

What the Suns did was they didn’t feel the need to burn precious roster spots on players they knew would do nothing for them next year. So they punted and got assets for those picks. I hope when Suns fans see it that way, they understand that they are fans of a franchise that “gets it”.

Grade: A

Portland Trailblazers
LaMarcus Aldridge; Brandon Roy; Sergio Rodriguez; Joel Freeland

How anyone can give them anything less than an A I will never know. In fact that needs to be your test on who in the media you find credible and who you don’t. Anyone you read that doesn’t give them an A….read them no longer.

Aldridge is a very slick big man with some great offensive skills. Like most bigs with a great offensive game there are some questions about his toughness and defensive ability. I don’t think those are things Portland fans need to worry about. He isn’t a Ben Wallace, but he isn’t a big big female reproductive organ either. He’ll be just fine. He has a great jump hook, but can also run the floor and is a solid finisher on the break.

Brandon Roy, simply put, is the most complete player in the draft. It took an interesting, some say gutsy move, to get Roy. The Blazers took Randy Foye a pick before the T-Wolves wanted him. The T-Wolves SHOULD have taken Roy, thanked their stars, and moved on. However, Portland knew the Wolves wanted Foye and when Kevin McHale came calling Portland knew what to do. They extracted a “moron-tax” from McHale and moved along on their merry way. The folks at ESPN didn’t understand the move, but that’s because they’re idiots and you should be glad you have me here to set this all straight for you. It wasn’t an unnecessary move, it was the smart play.

Sergio likes to fancy himself as a Spanish Jason Williams. He isn’t physical but he’s really quite electric with the ball and teammates are going to love playing with him. He’s an absolute blur and his ball handling rivals that of Jenna Jameson….it’s good.

Grade: A+

Sacramento Kings
Quincy Douby

Douby is a great little combo guard who simply knows how to put the ball in the basket. He’s the kind of guy that wins 6th man awards because he enters the game and lights it up in a hurry with an unbelievable 3 point shot.

He might be difficult to find a role for right away simply because the team is going to have to adjust a bit in how they use him. He’s used to freewheeling, not the Princeton offense that the Kings run, however, I don’t think it’s going to take long at all. I believe Kings fans are going to take to him like they did Tony Delk and Bobby Jackson, he’s in a similar kind of mold.

Grade: B+

San Antonio Spurs
Future 2nd round pick

Just the like the Suns, you can tell the Spurs don’t like to give roster spots away. They ended up trading Damir Makota away for a pick in a better draft. These moves don’t get a lot of publicity, but it’s move like this that do tend to separate the good teams from the great ones over time.

Remember, every team has finite resources; it’s the ability to get every drop of value you can out of those resources that makes a team great. Nobody does that better than the Spurs.

Grade: A

Seattle Sonics
Saer Sene; Denham Brown; Yotam Halperin

The Sene pick caused many in NY to question the motives of the Sonics. I think they wanted to expand their roster by keeping the rights to a player they could steep overseas while not paying him to get better. From that point of view it was a good pick. You could make the case that they could have gotten Sene later, however because Sene came from out of nowhere it was going to be impossible to determine how other teams felt about him. Why risk it?

Sene is a physical specimen I’m not sure I’ve seen anything like. Size, speed, strength, and quickness you name it and he has it. His wingspan is 7’8 which blows my mind when you think about the kind of shot blocker this kid can become. He did a nice job at the Nike Hoop Summit game which really put his name on the map. The most impressive stat was 10 blocks in 27 minutes.

Offensively he’s a raw as sushi. His footwork just doesn’t pass the test at this point to the level of being quite bad. He also hasn’t developed a go-to move yet, which I believe is a must for any player that doesn’t have a diversified offensive game. You have to have a move you can get off clean whenever you want.

On defense, however, watch out. Like I said before he has all the tools you need to become one of the most dominating interior defenders you’ll ever see. Assuming of course he can stay out of foul trouble.

Brown is a nice little all around player who should crack the 12 man roster if he can put all the skills together. He did a great job at the Maui Invitational and coaches simply love this kid. He should mesh well with just about any superstar you have on your team because he’s a leader without much selfishness in his game.

Halperin is the great Jewish hope. Very nice player indeed. Watching him shoot is really fun for those that like to see fundamentals and a true “sweet stroke”. Halperin is a tough player; he’s a clutch player; and he’s an experienced player having already played professionally in the Euro league. I think being 6’5 is also going to help him. I can’t say he will make this team, but he should, and he most certainly will make SOMEONE’S team quite a bit better.

Grade: B

Toronto Raptors
Andrea Bargnani; PJ Tucker

Of all the top 5, or so, players I’m least sure about what the future holds for this guy. Firstly, I have never seen him play and only recently was I able to talk to anyone about him who had. Secondly, it’s difficult to project exactly where his natural position is going to be. On one hand he’s a tall kid, on the other his best attribute is his perimeter offensive game.

The one good thing is that he went to a GM that I’m very sure will understand how to use him. Colangelo realizes that the name of the game in today’s NBA is having tons of skilled players who have diversified offensive games. While it’s hard for me to imagine exactly how he fits in, I have no doubt that the Raptors GM has taken stock of the situation and would not put him in a position to fail. This pick means way to much to the franchise to mess it up.

What Bargnani bring to the team, in the short team, is an ability to stretch the defense with his 3 point ability and his ability to play off of star Chris Bosh in just about any situation you want to know. Bargnani can split doubles and slash to the basket or go out on the wing and hit jumpers. I firmly believe that this pick was sold to Chris Bosh as being a pick that will help Bosh, in the end, be a better player.

I love PJ Tucker, not in the gay way, but in a very real basketball sense. He’s nails on the court and as has been the theme for many teams: He’s an unselfish glue-guy. I think his game would not be well suited for a team that only uses half court sets, however, if the Raptors run he can use his athletic finishing ability to create some havoc.

Grade: B-

Utah Jazz
Ronnie Brewer; Dee Brown; Paul Milsap

I think you have to be excited if you’re a Jazz fan right now. Few people expected Brewer to fall to them at 14. Quite a few teams had him as top 7-8 talent and I think that the reason he fell was that this draft had so many players of equal ability that teams started drafting for need. Not that this is a bad thing, but it causes players like Brewer to fall.

I believe he will pair with AK-47 on the perimeter very well. He adds some really fantastic athletic ability to a team that doesn’t have it in spades. He has good leadership ability, runs like a thoroughbred, and will impress Jerry Sloan with his defensive tenacity and prowess. I don’t see how this kid isn’t a stud in a few years….crazy deformed arm not withstanding.

Dee Brown is a guy I wouldn’t have put much stock in had he went to another team. In Utah though he gets reunited (and it feels so good) with a former teammate in Deron Williams. I think their level of comfortability will have a tangible effect on how much value Brown can have on the Jazz. It’s very possible he could make the team, whereas I saw little hope of him making many other teams had he not had the college-teammate-connection.

Paul Milsap is a plugger who only makes the squad if he gets highly motivated. To me he lacks the skill and physical attributes needed to really make an impact. I will say that this team lost Kris Humphries in a trade and thus there is a spot open for him. I think they could find someone in the FA market to take that spot, but if he can impress the Jazz he has a golden opportunity to get minutes. His greatest attribute is his rebounding, while his size and lack of offensive game are what could hold him back.

Grade: B+

Washington Wizards
Oleksiy Pecherov; Vladimir Veremeenko

Who? This can’t be good. What the former Bullets needed was some weapons to help this year so they could convince Gilbert Arenas not to bitch and cry about the team. Remember he shot his mouth off about wanting the team to make moves to compete for a title in the near future. Not only did the team not do that, but they didn’t even fill their biggest need: quality/active big men.

Both men are perimeter based players who don’t really have the toughness needed to play early on this level. Veremeenko will probably be kept overseas for awhile, but Pecherov will be brought in right away. I have doubts he will do much and I have even bigger doubts he will do much soon enough to appease Arenas. Just a puzzling draft.

Grade: F

That wraps it up

This was my longest article ever and I hope folks got something out of it. Hopefully your team got high marks and you can be relieved about the direction they are heading. For those of you who had teams score low…well at least you found out some info on your soon-to-be busts.

As always email me any complaints, comments, questions, etc. and I will reply to as many as I get a chance to.

Finally, there are many many other great writers in the sports zone so I have a homework assignment for you: Find a writer in the zone that you’ve never read….and read them. Then email them your thoughts. It’ll be good stuff.