Monday, July 2, 2012

NBA Draft Grades For Every Team

The NBA Draft is completed. I was unable to watch it that night and had a very busy weekend, so I taped it and watched it the following night. Thus the reason for my late analysis. Here's what each team gets on their report cards.

New Orleans Hornets: A-

You can't go wrong with Anthony Davis. He's going to be a stud in this league. Enough said. However, Austin Rivers was a questionable pick. Yes, he does have the talent to be a star and yes, the team may see Eric Gordon leaving, but Rivers still needs to work on how he plays with others. If he can fit in well with his New Orleans teammates, he will be a good pick. However, with Meyers Leonard and Tyler Zeller still on the board, the team could have taken their future center. Darius Miller is a solid pick. He's a shooter off the bench and one that could become rather good one day.

Charlotte Bobcats: B

I was a bit surprised with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist going second, but it's a very good pick. The Bobcats get a starting caliber forward who can play great defense and will push his team to work as hard as he does. Then, Charlotte went and took another small forward. Jeffrey Taylor is very athletic and a better scorer than MKG. His versatility will make him a name in this league. However, I'm just not sure why the Bobcats took two small forwards when their frontcourt is horrendous.

Washington Wizards: A-

The pick of Bradley Beal was fantastic. He was coveted by many teams but the Wiz have found a sharpshooting mate for John Wall. Tomas Satoransky has a chance to be a very good foreign player in the NBA. He has ridiculous height for a point guard. However, I think the the team may have wanted to take a power forward here instead

Cleveland Cavaliers: B

The draft was somewhat confusing for the Cavs until they traded with Dallas. Then, it started to make more sense. Cleveland sent a slew of rookies to the Mavericks for UNC's Tyler Zeller, a player they will be happy with. Zeller can play both big men positions and will run the floor well with Kyrie Irving.  And Dion Waiters, although he was drafted higher than expected, should be a fantastic scorer in this league. One issue I have is that the Cavaliers have Tristan Thompson and Anderson Varajeo. It doesn't hurt to draft another big, but small forward was a more pressing need. The other issue I have is that the Cavs passed on Thomas Robinson and Harrison Barnes for Waiters. At least trade down.

Sacramento Kings: A-

The Kings made a very smart move and a very dumb move, which is why they get an average grade. They had Thomas Robinson fall into their lap, and will now pair him with DeMarcus Cousins to make a beastly frontcourt duo that will clean the glass every night. Robinson is a high character player and a steal at #5. Then they went and drafted Orlando Johnson out of UCSB, who is a strong scorer and shooter, filling Sacramento's void at small forward. But wait! Let's trade a big need away for cash...are you serious?

Portland Trailblazers: A

By taking Damian Lillard and Meyers Leonard, the Blazers get their point guard and center of the future, two positions they desperately need. The two will be running mates and look to have bright careers in the NBA. In the second round, the team added some wing depth in Will Barton to play behind Wesley Matthews and Nic Batum. He is a very talented scorer who will be great off the bench. Barton is actually a steal at this point in the draft. Portland drafted talented players that filled the positions they needed. And after they blew up a pretty decent team (let's just fire and trade everybody!), they still have decent pieces to be competitive.

Golden St. Warriors: A

The first two picks for the Dubs went better than anyone could have expected. The small forward they wanted to complete their starting five, Harrison Barnes, was available at #7 and the defensive center to replace Andrew Bogut when he's hurt (oh yes, he will be hurt), Festus Ezeli, was snatched up at #30. Both fell a few spots in the draft. Then, with the 35th pick, Golden St. made another great value pick in Draymond Green. He will be solid off the bench and bring intangibles that every team wants. Overall, this was a great draft for the Warriors. Acquiring Ognjen Kuzmic was not the smartest thing to do, but the team gets a pass after their impressive draft.

Toronto Raptors: D+

I've been giving out a lot of good grades to start, but that's because teams who picked high had the opportunity to draft top players and this year, teams actually drafted rather smart! Now it's time to play tough grader for the Toronto Raptors. I didn't mind Terrence Ross with the first pick. He's a very talented scorer who can shoot, attack, and play defense as well. However, it remains to be seen how he fits on the wing with DeMar DeRozan who is essentially the same player. Then, they went and grabbed Quincy Acy. I didn't even think Acy would get drafted, He is a very tough and physical player down low, but he just doesn't have the skills to play in the NBA. Finally, with their last pick, they grabbed Croatian big man Tomislav Zubcic. Who? These European picks rarely work out. I understand if your team doesn't need anything and you're stashing foreign players, but the Raptors have needs!!! Why not take Scott Machado for a backup point guard???

Detroit Pistons: A-

Lucky is something that the Pistons may or may not be. If Andre Drummond can be, at the very least, the dominant defender he should be, Detroit has themselves a frontcourt mate for Greg Monroe and a steal. If he winds up being a flop, it'll be a shame they used a lottery pick on him. As for right now, however, I like the pick. In the second round, the Pistons went out and grabbed two shooting guards in Khris Middleton and Kim English. Middleton will be able to score from anywhere on the floor and English is a spot up shooter, so these will help with the loss of Ben Gordon. However, did they need two of them? Why not take a backup point guard or big man? But I guess scoring is always good.

Houston Rockets: B+

Did they get Dwight Howard? No. But did they get pieces? Yes. Jeremy Lamb will be a nice shooter and defender in the league (although I question if they really had to move up to get him). Royce White has the tools to contribute in so many ways, and he could break out to be a very valuable player. I like that pick, as well as Terrence Jones at #18. Jones has NBA ready scoring talent, but I wonder what position he'll wind up playing. The one thing I'm confused with is to what they're going to do with their forward logjam. Along with the three they just drafted, they also have Chandler Parsons, Marcus Morris, Luis Scola, and Pattrick Patterson. I understand they want Howard, but maybe taking Fab Melo (especially with the departure of Samuel Dalembert) might have been a good move. All that being said, the Rockets picked up some great players and can piece them in a trade if they want.

Phoenix Suns: A+

YESSSSSS! Someone listened to me! Aside from Anthony Davis, I was more set on the Suns taking Kendall Marshall than any other player for any other team. Phoenix looses the best pure point guard in the NBA in Steve Nash (he's not coming back), so why not take the best pure point guard in the draft? Marshall may never be Nash, but he's got the skills to make his teammates better and be a starter at the pro level. The Suns did as much as they could with their one pick, and I commend them.

Milwaukee Bucks: A-

The John Henson pick is going to be a project. I feel like you need to put a scoring center next to him to get the most out of his shot blocking potential. He also needs to bulk up and add a scoring game, but he was a good pick to help the frontcourt nonetheless. By grabbing Dalembert from the Rockets, the Bucks also obtained a stopgap in center to make up for the loss of Bogut. The selection of Doron Lamb was incredible. Lamb could have been taken 20 picks higher, but he fell and Milwaukee got themselves a fantastic scorer and leader. All in all, these picks may possibly push the Bucks over the edge and into the playoffs.

Philadelphia 76ers: C

I love Moe Harkless as a player. He has all the makings of a superstar talent with his scoring. His frame is solid and perfect for the position of small forward. But where is he going to play? Not at shooting guard or power forward. As the third man behind Andre Iguodala and Thaddeus Young. Ugh. Mo is better than that. As for their trade with the Heat, it remains to be seen how good Arnett Moultrie can be. He has nice value late in the first round and is incredibly athletic for a big man, but we'll see when the Heat get with the first round pick they grabbed before we make any judgements. Tornike Shengelia wasn't a bad stash pick.

Dallas Mavericks: D+

Yes, the Mavericks certainly wanted to get some pieces for the team through the draft and get a big name through free agency. But why would a free agent want to come to Dallas is they don't draft top young talent for Dirk? Jared Cunningham is a solid defender a scorer, but he was a reach that early. I love the story of Bernard James and he'll probably be a rotation player as a bruiser down low, but he was also a reach. And Jae Crowder? You guessed it, reach. Crowder may not be cut out for this league. At least they traded away Darius Johnson-Odom. The Mavs must know something that everyone else does not, because the players they drafted were not that great.

Orlando Magic: B-

The Magic got two very talented players. Andrew Nicholson is a shifty scorer down low who can stretch the floor with his shooting ability. Kevin O'Quinn can dominate the boards with his size and relentlessness. But there's two problems 1. Orlando, a team who has a LOT of needs, already has a starting power forward and 2. Nicholson and O'Quinn play the same position. The two players will definitely help the Magic, but they are a long ways from respectability. Maybe taking Marquis Teague at #19 to be their new point guard would have been better.

Denver Nuggets: C

One of the teams that don't have a lot of needs, Denver is loaded with talent that is just waiting to break out. That being said, I'm OK with the pick of Evan Fournier. He's a scoring guard who excels at getting to the basket. It will be interesting to see if he comes over right away or the Nuggets have stock in him, but either will be good for them. However, after that, their draft went downhill. They do have one big need, and that's post scoring. Instead of looking for that, they drafted Quincy Miller and Izzet Turkyilmaz. Miller has good value at his spot, but Denver is crowded on the wing, so I'm not sure where he will play. And Turkyilmaz? You've got to be kidding me. This guy probably won't ever come overseas. Not a smart move.

Boston Celtics: A-

Grabbing Jared Sullinger that late should prove to be a steal. While the team does have a plethora of power forwards, there will be a day when Kevin Garnett is out of Boston and Sullinger and fellow first rounder Fab Melo will own the Celtics' frontcourt. That combination of offense and defense will be a force. The two may even get minutes in their rookie seasons. Taking Kris Joseph was a solid pick. While the team could have added more scoring, Joseph gives them length on the wing.

Atlanta Hawks: B-

With the picks they had, it wasn't easy for the Hawks to make a huge impact. John Jenkins is a solid player who can shoot the lights out. This pick makes even more sense now that Joe Johnson seems to be traded to Brooklyn. Mike Scott will add some depth down low. Overall, a very average draft for Atlanta. Not bad, but nothing special.

Memphis Grizzlies: C-

Memphis is a team that has the chance to contend in the West. However, there are still pieces that they need. A backup point guard for Mike Conley is not their biggest desire, but they got one in Tony Wroten. Wroten is a very good scorer but there are still questions about his point guard skills. If they're truly trying to get rid of Rudy Gay and O. J. Mayo, Perry Jones or Doron Lamb would have been much better picks here.

Indiana Pacers: F

What a joke. The Pacers made by far the worst pick of the night when they selected Miles Plumlee at #26. First of all, Plumlee isn't even the best basketball player in his own family. Mason, who is still at Duke, seems like he would be a much better player in the NBA. Second, Miles was not good enough to go in this draft, let alone in the first round. Even in a draft thin on centers, there were several better than him still available (Festus Ezeli, Robert Sacre, Henry Sims). Finally, if the Pacers really thought Plumlee was their guy, they should have traded down to get him. They could have easily acquired more picks and still gotten him. Getting Orlando Johnson from the Kings for cash was a nice pickup, but it's not enough to make up for their disgusting first round pick.

Oklahoma City Thunder: A+

It's obvious that the Thudner got the steal of the draft in Perry Jones. If Jones doesn't live up to his full potential, it's not a big deal at pick #28. But if he does, you could see an incredibly talented NBA player, and one who could play serious minutes even on an OKC squad that's so talented. It's that simple.

Chicago Bulls: A

I thought that at the end of the first round, the Bulls weren't going to get a point guard who would be good enough to be Derrick Rose's backup. However, like the Thunder, they struck gold on the falling Marquis Teague. Teague is a solid floor general who needs some work, but could definitely be Rose's partner. We'll see if Teague starts games in the beginning of the season if Rose is still out.

Brooklyn Nets: C-

The pick of Tyshawn Taylor wasn't bad, but just confusing if the team is set on Deron Williams returning. However, Taylor could be a very good backup for Williams. He can play both guard positions and is a big time scorer. Taking Ilkan Karaman doesn't really make sense. There were other role players available late in the second round that Brooklyn could have grabbed.

Miami Heat: B-

Getting the first round pick from Philadelphia was actually quite brilliant. Miami isn't going get an early first round pick anytime soon, so trading for one was smart. However, getting Justin Hamilton too wasn't that great. There were better centers on the board, and they could have still taken Festus Ezeli at #27, a player who could have a serious impact on the Heat frontcourt.

Utah Jazz: B

Well at least they didn't take a big man. Kevin Murphy is a talented scorer and a top shooter in this draft. While he may not be Utah's biggest need, I think getting Murphy this late was good value. Trying to find a backup point guard who can eventually overtake Devin Harris (paging Scott Machado...) may have been more beneficial.

New York Knicks: D+

While Kostas Papanikolaou was one of the better foreign players in the draft, the Knicks do not have the luxury of stashing Euro players. They have a serious need for scoring, both on the wing and down low. The window for New York to win a championship isn't as big as some may expect, and I think they wasted this pick here.

Los Angeles Clippers: C

Like the Knicks, L. A. has yet to break through as a true contender. Taking Furkan Aldemir may backfire. Aldemir is a bruiser down low, but unless he can help the team soon, he'll be worthless. Why not take a small forward? I think Caron Butler's days as a starter are numbered.

Minnesota Timberwolves: B

The T-Wolves have a ton of young talent, so taking a chance on a player like Robbie Hummel may actually pay off. Hummel has torn his ACL more times that Minnesota has drafted badly, but he has overcome everything and was a great leader for Purdue. He can be an encouraging presence in the locker room while adding some threes and rebounds off the bench.

San Antonio Spurs: C

Like last year, the Spurs drafted a guard who wasn't even expected to be drafted. Marcus Denmon is not as bad of a pick as Corey Joseph was, and not a risk at #59, but they may have missed on some hidden gems.

Los Angeles Lakers: B+

The more I think about it, the more I actually like this pick. Robert Sacre gives big man depth to a team that is looking to move one of it's seven footers, Pau Gasol. Sacre has a nice back to the basket game. He can actually help the team sooner than later.

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