Friday, July 1, 2011

7 comments 2011 NBA Draft Grades

It's that time again! The time no one was looking forward to. The 2011 NBA Draft has concluded and it is time for me to grade each team (as soon as I understand all the trades that happened...there was a 30 minute span where I thought Kemba Walker went to Sacramento) on a scale of 0-10. "0" will be the lowest ranking and a "10" is the highest. As always, my rankings will be arbitrary in that they are merely my own opinion. Feel free to agree, disagree, or call me an idiot. I'll start in alphabetical order with the NBA teams.

You know, I still can't say I hate this draft. There aren't a lot of top-tier stars, but I believe there will be some contributors to teams in this draft. Still, the fact many of the top projected picks stayed in college hurt the 2011 NBA Draft. Next year's draft plays out to be ridiculous. I just wonder how many players on the 2012 NCAA Champion UNC Tar Heels will go to the NBA. It wouldn't shock me to see as many as 5 guys go early to the NBA from that team.

Atlanta Hawks

The Hawks had one pick and took Keith Benson. I actually like this pick because it is hard to find an experienced big man in the middle of the second round. Will he ever start in the NBA? Probably not, but he still has been productive in college, which is more than some of the guys drafted could say for themselves. I have a feeling if Benson was named Keif Bfjanko and was from Nigeria where he put up 8.6 ppg 2.2 bpg and 4.5 rpg as a 20 year old he would have been a late first round pick. It's hard to find big guys and though Benson is "soft" it wasn't a terrible pick at this stage for the Hawks. They could have screwed this pick up and taken a guy with "potential," which is roughly translated to "we haven't seen him play much, but he sure looks like he can play doesn't he?"

Grade: 6

Boston Celtics

Apparently the Celtics only scouted Purdue players for this draft, because they took two of them in JaJuan Johnson and E'Twaun Moore. I'm torn on Johnson because I wish the Celtics could have turned that pick into a physical big man or drafted a more physical big man in this spot. Johnson has improved every year at Purdue and if he gets a little big stronger than I think it was a great pick. Still, the Celtics need more strength inside and I'm not sure Johnson is that guy right now. A lot of people like the E'Twaun Moore pick, and I do as well. He has a ceiling, but most second round picks either have not proven themselves or have a ceiling. I think he'll end up being a better player than Johnson for the Celtics simply because he's a better backup shooting guard than the Celtics have on their roster right now.

Grade: 7

Charlotte Bobcats

The Bobcats made some trades and got Corey Maggette out of the deal. If his last stint in North Carolina is any indication, he will leave the state after a year and piss everyone off in the process. Still, the Bobcats saved money and got a decent player in return. So not a bad trade. Bismack Biyombo is the type of pick I traditionally just hate. He really hasn't done much other than show he has the potential to do something and he has no offensive game at this point. Throw in the fact he may not even be 18 years old and the Bobcats may have gotten themselves a 21 year old project. The Bobcats will appreciate his defense, but if he can't score he won't be too much use to them since they need players who can score as well. I like the Kemba Walker pick, just from the standpoint he will provide scoring and he is the type of leader the Bobcats need right now. That was a good move. What's really, really irritating for me is the Bobcats picked a power forward/center who has offensive potential, Jeremy Tyler, and just needs some coaching and they traded him for money. Apparently centers who can actually score are just too easy to find, yet the Bobcats felt they needed a defensive specialist at the #7 pick.

Grade: 3

Chicago Bulls

I may be misremembering a bit, but didn't the Bulls need a guard who can score last year? Wasn't that the indication after the series against the Heat where Derrick Rose was the only swingman who could put the ball in the basket? So why did they trade a guy who could provide this for them, Norris Cole, for a player who may not make it to America this upcoming year, Nikola Mirotic? I know he has gotten high grades from those who know foreign basketball, but the Bulls are contending now. Yes, the Bulls have a bright future as well, but they now have to find a shooting guard in free agency...whenever that may happen, if it happens. I can't believe the Bulls couldn't have used Norris Cole on the roster. I find it hard to believe. Maybe I'll look stupid in 2 years when Mirotic comes over and makes Carlos Boozer more expendable than he may already seem. Jimmy Butler is a good pick for the Bulls. He may end up getting the LeBron James assignment, so welcome to the league kid. He plays defense, which is nice, but I would have loved to see the Bulls do something at the shooting guard position. Maybe that's what free agency is for.

Grade: 5

Cleveland Cavaliers

Irving or Williams had to be the first pick. Irving was the pick and I think he is a great leader and teammate. Cleveland will love him. I like Tristan Thompson, but I don't know if I like him for Cleveland. They have JJ Hickson there already. I know there is always room for more big men, but at the #4 spot in the draft I would have liked to see Cleveland pick a different position, like center. I am also a little amazed the Cavs are at the point where they can sell away high second round picks like they had at #32. Apparently the lure of getting the Magic's second round picks, which will probably be in the mid-40's at the lowest was too great. I guess Shelvin Mack or Tyler Honeycutt are wing players that aren't needed on the Cavs roster. I didn't realize Alonzo Gee and Anthony Parker were that irreplaceable. Later in the draft the Cavs chose to go overseas with a pick rather than take a chance on a wing player who could help them eventually or even actually play in the United States at some point. It wasn't a disaster draft, but I am not sold. I think a draft of Irving, Valanciunas, Honeycutt, and Scottie Hopson would have impacted the mediocrity on the roster too much. We can't have that.

Grade: 4

Dallas Mavericks

The Mavericks have to win now. Keeping Jordan Crawford wouldn't have been a bad deal, but they got Rudy Fernandez in return? Nice move. There was no player in this spot who could provide what Fernandez can provide and it covers a need the Mavericks have. I would have loved to see other teams (Boston) do the same type thing with their pick.

Grade: 9

Denver Nuggets

It was clear from the beginning of the Carmelo Anthony trade last year that Raymond Felton probably wasn't going to be in Denver for a long time. So the Nuggets did trade him and managed to get Andre Miller and Jordan Crawford in return for Felton. Not a bad deal. I generally hate discussing potential, but Crawford has what I would "realistic" potential. This means basically he has potential based on the real numbers he has put up previously, but he hasn't hit his ceiling. Whereas Biyombo just has "potential" because other than a few times, he hasn't shown he can be an NBA player. So I think given a year or two Crawford will be a contributor to the Nuggets. I really like the drafting of Faried. You know he won't be an All-Star, but you also know he will rebound and given an effort on the court. You can teach rebounding, but Faried seems to also have a sixth sense on how to rebound and he has rebounded well against high competition (when he played this competition) in college. I think the Nuggets are on the right track...though they seem to be missing that star player.

Grade: 8

Detroit Pistons

First off, I really like Brandon Knight. Every year I seem to pick a point guard in the draft I really like (last year it was Eric Bledsoe) that seems to not be a Top 10 pick. Knight ended up being a Top 10 pick, so he was highly thought of by others. This is a great pick by the Pistons. Yes they needed a big man, but Knight is a point guard who can score. He's like Rodney Stuckey, except better. I don't as much know about Kyle Singler in the second round. I like Singler, but he is better used as a glue guy on a good team, not as a borderline starter on a bad team. He can't create his own shot well, though he doesn't really do anything poorly. I would have gone with a player with a higher ceiling in this spot personally. It is still the early second round so there were a couple of those guys available (Jordan Williams, Tyler Honeycutt, Trey Thompkins). I'm not a huge Vernon Macklin fan. I feel like the Pistons could have done better.

This brings me to Stuart Scott saying a few nights ago at the draft, "Joe Dumars is well-respected around the league as a GM, so people pay attention when he drafts," (or he said something like that). I didn't realize it was 2005.

Golden State Warriors

I think I would have felt better about the Warriors choosing Klay Thompson if Monta Ellis had already gotten traded. At this point though, he is still on the roster so Thompson is a shooter who doesn't play great defense behind another shooter who doesn't play great defense. I like this pick more when Ellis is gone. Defense is overrated I guess. As I said earlier, I like the Jeremy Tyler pick. He may never make it in the NBA, but he as good of a chance as any other big man drafted in the second round. Charles Jenkins will raise the team's IQ, but I wish he had gone to a different team where he could have made a bigger impact. I'm afraid he won't get a chance with the Warriors because of their guard depth.

Grade: 3 (If Ellis stays)

Houston Rockets

Sometimes I think Daryl Morey enjoys the trading aspect of being a GM more than he actually enjoys trading to build a better team. It's just a feeling I get, but I've heard from Bill Simmons that Morey is a genius, so I'll continue to believe this. Marcus Morris is a power forward, which is only interesting because so are Luis Scola and Patrick Patterson, and they are already on the Rockets roster. Maybe there is a trade coming up soon. It seems the Rockets drafted Flynn so they could get rid of Brad Miller's contract and trade Flynn again. Donatas Motiejunas can play center in a pinch, but he fits best at power forward...which is a spot the Rockets had covered decently before they drafted a power forward with their other first round pick. Maybe the Rockets think Motiejunas can play center and I am just stupid. I like Chandler Parsons, but I'm not sure where he fits in with the Rockets if Marcus Morris plays SF and the Rockets already have Chase Budinger.

Grade: 3

Indiana Pacers

The Pacers decided to trade their two draft picks and some guy from the 2005 draft who they have the rights to for George Hill. It's probably a good move for them. George Hill is a proven player and he can be a backup to Darren Collison and even play along with Collison. It's a good move by the Pacers to get a proven player in exchange for non-proven players. I wouldn't say the Pacers are in "win-now" mode, but I guess they didn't want to wait on a drafted player to develop.

Grade: 7

Los Angeles Clippers

The Clippers were able to take Kyrie Irvin---wait, nevermind...let's start over. The Clippers had two second round picks and they didn't do a terrible job on 50% of them. They took two players from Georgia (the university, not the country) and neither of them will probably make a huge impact in the NBA, but Trey Thompkins has the best chance to do so. He provides a good backup to Blake Griffin and also still has some potential to improve. Travis Leslie is worth a risk at this point, but he's a great athlete who just happens to also play basketball. The Clippers may be better off just hiring him as a coach and then televising the dunk contests between he and Blake Griffin. I'm not impressed with Leslie, let's say that. He should have stayed at Georgia for a few more years.

Grade: 6

Los Angeles Lakers

Darius Morris was a great choice for the Lakers. Coming into the draft, I think the Lakers needed to draft a point guard and Morris was a great choice in the second round. I also really like Goudelock as well. He can straight shoot the ball, but he is also a point guard. Now, if the Lakers can find a way to combine Goudelock and Morris into one point guard they will have found the exact guy they need. Then the Lakers drafted Ater Majok, who is a bit of a stretch at this point, but they drafted him based on potential anyway. So no one pays attention to the fact it was a wasted pick because he has "potential." Still, good move in picking up the two point guards, though I don't know how both of them fit on the maybe it wasn't such a great move.

Grade: 4

Memphis Grizzlies

The Grizzlies had one draft pick and they chose Josh Selby in the second round. Did the Grizzlies really need Selby after re-signing Mike Conley Jr and drafting Greivis Vasquez last year? Probably not, but at the very worst he is a guy who doesn't make the roster, at best they have a shoot-first combo guard who has a ton of ability and really hasn't figured out how to harness it. Points go to the Grizzlies for having a player drop to them and then selecting the player.

Grade: 6

Miami Heat

The Heat, as well documented, don't have a ton of chances to improve their team with the lack of cap room and draft picks they have. They needed another point guard on the roster to replace the corpse of Mike Bibby. Really, the Heat need a point guard who can shoot and score some points as LeBron and Wade drive to the basket and draw defenders. Norris Cole can really score, in fact I think the Bulls should have kept their pick and chosen Cole, but I"m not sure he is an NBA point guard. Still, he can score and it was worth moving up three spots to grab him. He won't be a superstar, but I think he can find a role on the Heat team.

Grade: 8

Milwaukee Bucks

I like the Bucks made a trade that saved them money and they managed to get two quality NBA prospects in return. Tobias Harris is the definition of a raw player, but I don't believe he is quite the tweener he is being made up to be. He definitely has some power forward and small forward skills, but I think he is a small forward. Harris, provided he gets playing time, has great potential and the Bucks could have done a lot worse than they did at #19 in the first round. Jon Leuer, though it has been covered sufficiently, isn't the most athletic guy in the world. Still, coming off the bench it never hurts to have a tall guy who can shoot and rebound...which I think he can do better than he is given credit for. The Bucks benefited from the fact Leuer doesn't have "potential," but I can see him sticking around in Milwaukee.

Grade: 9

Minnesota Timberwolves

I think it may just be knee-jerk reaction, but I don't like the Wolves draft. I really, really like the drafting of Derrick Williams, though I think it would be great if they, and I know this sounds crazy, leverage the fact they have two other players that play the same position as Derrick Williams and make a trade of one of those players that (gasps) improves the team in another area. Williams deserves minutes because he could be the best player in this draft, so I would like to have seen the Wolves open up more minutes for him. I do really like Malcolm Lee in theory, mostly because he is willing to play defense, but I am not sure a guy who underachieved his entire career in college can step it up in the NBA. Also, the Wolves drafted a middle-aged man or something (actually he was 26) because they didn't do enough research to know his age. That sounds about right. That is something the Timberwolves would do.

Grade: 2 (not based on the players, based on drafting Williams and him having to fight with Beasley and Randolph for know they won't give him minutes with those two guys on the roster)

New Jersey Nets

I think the Celtics possibly should have kept Marshon Brooks, but the Nets benefited from the Celtics wanting JuJuan Johnson. Brooks appears to be a great scorer and will work well for the Nets off the bench. There's nothing wrong with drafting a guy in the mid-first round who can score. I don't know much about Bojan Bogdanovic, but his name sounds like the restaurant Bojangles and I really like Bojangles after I have been out drinking. I believe Jordan Williams has a chance to stick around. The other side of this is he's a guy who may have weight problems and flame out of the NBA, but he's worth a shot because he can play in the post and rebound. Maybe he will stay on the team long enough to teach Brook Lopez to rebound. Part of me loves Jordan Williams' future in the NBA.

Grade: 6

New Orleans Hornets

The Hornets needed to try and do something to keep Chris Paul around. They didn't have much ammo to do this with, but they decided not drafting a player to improve the team was the best route to go. I guess drafting Josh Selby or, you know, an actual basketball player was too risky of a venture. I hope they got a lot of money from the Knicks. Hey Chris Paul, you may want to leave New Orleans after this year, but you can leave knowing the Hornets are now $250,000 richer. The joke is on you. Enjoy New York.

Grade: 0

New York Knicks

The Knicks wanted a defensive guy in the draft, so they took the second best one available. That would be Iman Shumpert, who would have been a better choice had they not drafted him and drafted Chris Singleton instead. I will hold out hope for Shumpert being that he played for Paul Hewitt, who pretty much just seemed to let his players do whatever the hell they want. I actually don't hate Shumpert as much as some other draft graders do, because he is very athletic and a good defender, but I don't know if he will fit in with the Knicks as well as some other players available would. Josh Harrellson helped Kentucky beat UNC, so I won't say anything bad about him...but I am not sure he should have been drafted.

Grade: 3

Oklahoma City Thunder

I think Reggie Jackson was a very underrated player. He was the best or second-best player in the ACC for a good amount of time last year. The Thunder don't seem to have a hell of a lot of room in their rotation for Jackson. He will backup Maynor and can probably play shooting guard as well. There was some criticism the Thunder didn't have enough scoring and Jackson can definitely get to the basket and score. It's not like they reached based on his talent and they fixed what they perceived to be a need, even if they fixed it with a position that didn't seem to be a need position.

Grade: 9

Orlando Magic

I don't know if the Magic are in a position to try and keep Dwight Howard around by making trades or through free agency, specifically since the move to bring Hedo and Gilbert Arenas in took up cap room. The Magic got Justin Harper so very cheap, and I am still not sure why the Cavs didn't keep the pick. Harper won't be a star, but I think he was a good pick in exchange for two second round picks. DeAndre Liggins is a great defender and maybe if he plays offense well enough to stick on the roster then it won't be four guys and a Howard on defense. I see Liggins possibly as a Bruce Bowen-type guy in the future.

Grade: 6

Philadelphia 76ers

I'm surprised the Sixers didn't draft a small forward since that's what they seem to enjoy doing. I'm kidding of course. I do like the Nikola Vucevic pick, though I can't help but wonder if he is Jason Smith all over again (I have to compare them since they are both white and play the same position). Lavoy Allen can end up being the 8th or 9th guy off the bench. It is not like the Sixers needed another small forward, so I can't say I like, but also can't blame for these picks. So going with size wasn't a bad idea for the Sixers. I probably would have liked for them to draft Kenneth Faried over Vucevic though.

Grade: 5

Phoenix Suns

The Suns seem to enjoy taking the perceived-to-be weaker brother in the NBA Draft and they did it again. I'm not a huge Markieff Morris fan. Morris is a tough guy inside and can shoot the mid-range jump shoot fairly well. He may not be the scorer-type player the Suns may have wanted/needed, but we wouldn't want to draft a player that would take away minutes from Vince Carter.

Grade: 2

Portland Trailblazers

Nolan Smith is the type of player that will probably never be a starter in the NBA, but they needed a point guard and Smith can play point guard...sort of. He has leadership qualities and intangibles. Not sure how much that translates to the actual playing of the game of basketball on a higher level. On a different note, I will get to see Nolan Smith and Raymond Felton play together, which is not something I've wanted to ever see. Like when I had to see Tyler Hansbrough get a chest bump from Dahaunty Jones in the playoffs this year. It made me shudder. Jon Diebler was the second round pick of the Blazers and he is a really good shooter. Can he make the Blazers team? That remains to be seen, but I am not so sure he has the all-around game to make it.

Grade: 2

Sacramento Kings

Jimmer! The Kings were the lucky team to draft Jimmer Fredette. Now I wonder if they see him as a point guard and will Evans at shooting guard? Either way, both players like to have the ball in their hands, so I hope that doesn't create trouble for the Kings. Fredette will definitely put asses in the seats in Sacramento, which will be nice. I like the choice of Tyler Honeycutt in the second round. He isn't ready to play now, but in 1-2 years I think he could end up being a starter for the Kings. Isiah Thomas is undersized, but knowing what I have read about him he will probably use being picked so late as a source of motivation. I can envision him being guarded in practice and destroying whoever is guarding him and then gaining minutes in games based on that. Thomas may not be an NBA-starter point guard, but I'm surprised he was taken this low. He could be an Aaron Brooks-type player for the Kings, so it was a good pick.

Grade: 8

San Antonio Spurs

I have traditionally thought the Spurs knew what they were doing in the NBA Draft. I haven't loved Kawhi Leonard, but in the right situation I think he could be a really good player. My issue lies in this...the Spurs traded George Hill, not Tony Parker, so they are clearly still trying to win now. If they are trying to win now, why did they take 3 of 4 picks that are essentially investments in the future? Not that it is a huge deal if these players work out, but Tim Duncan needs help now and the Spurs took a long view. 35% of me thinks they should have traded Parker and just started the rebuilding process on the fly. Leonard was a good player to get in return for George Hill, as he could be a starter in a year. I know very little about the foreign players except, and stop me if you have heard this, they have potential and aren't ready to play quite yet. This Spurs draft goes up a couple points for the selection of Cory Joseph. I saw a game in high school where Joseph outplayed Kyrie Irving and I think he got lost in the shuffle a bit at Texas this year. I like this pick for three years from now.

Speaking of which, I know Texas went 28-8 this year, but they had three guys drafted in the first round. They still have talent on the roster, why didn't they go further than they did in the NCAA Tournament? I question Rick Barnes' coaching ability quite often.

Grade: 8 (but not graded as high in regarding to helping this year's team)

Toronto Raptors

I know very little about Jonas Valanciunas. I follow college basketball, but haven't quite gotten into overseas basketball as much. At this point in the draft, there weren't too many America-born players with drafting. Valanciunas is projected to be a true center and given the other option of trading back in the draft and missing the chance to draft an impact player, the Raptors took Valanciunas. If he pans out, the Raptors will have a very intriguing frontcourt with Davis, Valanciunas, and Bargnani. Really, the biggest positive out of this is that Bargnani can play his more natural game (hopefully), which doesn't include playing in the paint all that much. The only issue I have with this pick is it probably won't make a huge difference in the short term, but the Raptors probably aren't thinking short term anyway.

Grade: 6

Utah Jazz

The Jazz had a couple of needs coming into the draft. Arguably, they could have chosen a point guard, but they really needed a center and a wing guy. They were fortunate in that two quality players at these two positions were available in the draft. Kanter is the best center in the draft, though I wonder if taking a year off from competitive play (other than practice) will set him back at all. I think if he had played at Kentucky this past year he may have ended up being the #1 overall pick. Alec Burks can score and get to the basket. As mentioned several times on this blog, the knock against him is he doesn't shoot the three point shot well. Not that I would compare him to Dwyane Wade, but that was a knock on Wade coming out of college too. Burks is still only 19 years old, so he has room to grow and could easily develop a good three point shot with enough hard work. The Jazz had a great draft.

Grade: 9

Washington Wizards

I really like the Wizards draft as well. Even though I don't personally know much about Vesely because I haven't seen him play much, it certainly seems like he could be on the receiving end of John Wall alley-oops in the very near future. At the least, the Wizards got more exciting. I personally really like Chris Singleton. He was miscast at Florida State and asked to do too much offensively, but he is a really defensive weapon. He is big enough to guard a small forward and quick enough to guard most point guards and shooting guards. He could play his way into the Wizards starting lineup just through his defense. What's equally important is I do believe he can play offensive basketball as well, but he will never be more than a #4 scorer (at the maximum) on an NBA team. He was asked to do too much at Florida State. The Wizards also gave John Wall a backup in Shelvin Mack, who will never be a star, but seems like one of those steady players championship teams always end up having. Perhaps this grade is high, but I like this draft.

Grade: 9

Feel free to agree or disagree and call me a moron, and even worse, in the comments if you would like.


rich said...

They have JJ Hickson there already.

Then they traded him for a contract and a pick. So no worries about Hickson, although it's interesting how he went from untouchable to traded for next to nothing in a year and a half.

(not based on the players, based on drafting Williams and him having to fight with Beasley and Randolph for know they won't give him minutes with those two guys on the roster)

I think they have to move one of those guys (maybe two?). It's like the sixers and their plethora of SFs: Iggy, Nocioni, Young and then you draft Turner... who sits on the bench most of the year.

though I can't help but wonder if he is Jason Smith all over again

Considering how piss awful this draft was, I'll take a slightly better version of Smith, it's not good (there's a reason the Sixers traded him), but hey, not really much you can do with a turd sandwich.

However, if you really want to scare Sixers fans with a tall, white guy... Shawn Bradley baby!

Bengoodfella said...

Rich, yeah I wrote this a few days ago and then completely forgot to update that. I'm surprised they gave up as little as they did for him. He was the centerpiece of some proposed trades previously which would have helped them a lot.

I think the T-Wolves will end up moving one of those guys. I probably would have tried to do it before the lockout and draft though. Just seems to make more sense.

A slightly better version of Jason Smith is like a turd sandwich with a tomato on top, no?

rich said...

Shawn Bradley was a turd sandwich without the bread.

your favourite sun said...

If Williams is worth the second pick then he should be worth Randolph's minutes. It would still be best to move one of those guys, though.

Arjun Chandrasekhar said...

the wizards draft is by far my favorite too. they got jan vessely (a cross between blake griffin and prince william), chris singleton (the draft's best defender and a guy who can do everything shawn marion did for dallas) and shelvin mack (a steady point guard who flat out knows how to play and knows how to win; perfect backup for wall). even if none of these guys pan out (which i don't think will happen) they deserve an A for picking the guy who provided the greatest moment and the cutest, most romantic display of affection in the history of the nba draft.

Bengoodfella said...

At least bradley gave us the mcgrady dunk. That's something. Í'm afraid also that williams won't get minutes if he isn't traded. I guess we will see. Arjun, I liked the wizards draft a lot too. They did a good job of building around wall.

nba jerseys said...

I think they have to move one of those guys (maybe two?). It's like the sixers and their plethora of SFs: Iggy, Nocioni, Young and then you draft Turner... who sits on the bench most of the year.