Monday, June 22, 2015

7 comments Reviewing Chad Ford's 2003 NBA Draft Grades (The Point at Which His Obsession With International Players Became a Joke)

I enjoy reviewing Mel Kiper's draft grades after a few years to see what he was incredibly wrong and incredibly right about. I also like to mock the grades he gives to a draft and mock the comments he makes about each player. He is an expert, so it's fun to see what an "expert" like him thought of a draft. Usually, Mel just gives each team a high grade. So I figure I would go through Chad Ford's draft grades as well. Guess what? Chad Ford gives every team high grades too. For the 2003 draft he gave the lowest grade as a "C-" while giving 19 "A" and "B" grades. I guess everyone got a ribbon in this draft too...except not really. There were some really bad drafts in 2003. But, of course, in an effort to make a mockery of draft grades that are already a mockery, Chad Ford didn't pan any team's draft. Like I say about Mel Kiper, it's better to be wrong while being positive than to be negative about a player and be wrong. No one remember when Chad Ford said Brandon Hunter would be a good pick (okay, people remember his love for Darko), but they will remember if he had said Carmelo Anthony would be a bust. Take no chances in giving your opinion and you will be rewarded.

After 58 picks and several trades Thursday night, ESPN Insider Chad Ford handed out his draft-night grades:

For an organization that loves to embrace debate, the draft experts with ESPN certainly stay pretty vanilla with their draft grades. Not that I'm complaining that Chad Ford doesn't embrace debate, but no team did well below average in the draft? Ford even gives "incomplete" grades instead of handing out a "D" or "F." Thankfully no one got their feelings hurt.

Atlanta Hawks

Round 1: Boris Diaw, SG, France (No. 21) Round 2: Travis Hansen, G, BYU (No. 37)

Boris Diaw was a shooting guard coming out of France. Interesting.

Grade: A-

Hansen only played two years in the NBA, though Diaw was traded for Joe Johnson, which means drafting Boris Diaw is how the Hawks went about overpaying Joe Johnson. That's a lot of information, but this isn't an "A-" draft.

Boston Celtics

Round 1: Marcus Banks, G, UNLV (No. 13) Round 1: Kendrick Perkins, C, Ozen HS (No. 27) Round 2: Brandon Hunter, F, Ohio (No. 56)

I promised that I'd give the Celtics an "F" if they took Banks and Perkins at No. 16 and No. 20. They traded down for Perkins and got him in a more reasonable range, so I upped the grade a bit.

For upped the grade "a bit" from an "F" to a "C." A fucking "C" is upping the grade "a bit." For those who haven't ever attended any type of school above elementary school (that would be no one), if a teacher/professor ups your grade "a bit" from an "F" then you probably aren't expecting for your failing work to all of a sudden become average work. But hey, Chad Ford was so impressed the Celtics got Kendrick Perkins seven picks later than he expected it moved them up two letter grades. Not that Ford makes things up as he goes along of course.

I like Banks' toughness and his ability to get to the basket, but I'm not sure he's that big an upgrade over J.R. Bremer.

I'm going to leave this here with a comment. This is like saying, "I like the taste of cat shit on a sandwich, but I'm not sure it tastes better than horseshit on a bagel." Either option sucks.

In the end, I wonder if the Celtics will get any better this year because of the draft.

Grade: C

One would think if Ford wasn't sure a team got better in the draft that he isn't grading an average draft. One would think absolutely wrong. Apparently a draft where a team doesn't get better is an average draft. Actually, it probably is an average draft from a macro level in that teams on average probably don't get a ton better based on their draft, but that's not how grades for the draft are supposed to work. It's not a "C" draft if the best you can do with two first round picks is Kendrick Perkins.

Chicago Bulls

Round 1: Kirk Hinrich, G, Kansas (No. 7)
Round 2: Mario Austin, F, Mississippi St. (No. 36)
Round 2: Tommy Smith, F, Arizona St. (No. 53) 

The Kirk Hinrich pick is a bit of a head-scratcher. I love Hinrich, but I'm not sure how he fits with Jamal Crawford. They needed a bigger two guard who could score and defend. They passed on Mickael Pietrus, a player who could've given them that. Still, Hinrich's versatile enough to play the point and the two. 

Ah yes, the days when Jamal Crawford and Kirk Hinrich had to fit in together.

I like Austin in the second round, though I wonder if he'll ever see the light of day behind Tyson Chandler and Eddy Curry.

Well, it was hard to see anything behind Eddy Curry. You know, because he was so fat. Being behind him was never recommended.

Neither second round pick made the team and Ford gave this draft a "B-." This is sort of a high grade for a team whose first round pick he didn't particularly like.

Cleveland Cavaliers

Round 1: LeBron James, G, St. Vincent-St. Mary HS (No. 1)
Round 2: Jason Kapono, F, UCLA (No. 31)

They get an "A" for LeBron, but I thought they really passed up on a chance to get better in the post. I think Jerome Beasley was a real sleeper here and would've been a nice complement to Carlos Boozer.

Not that Jason Kapono was the greatest player ever, but the only impact Jerome Beasley made in the NBA was being mentioned several times in the draft grades that Chad Ford gave out. 

Grade: A-

You draft a Hall of Famer (even if by default), then you get an "A" in my book. What's annoying to me is how Ford criticizes the pick of Kapono. To find a guy in the second round who has one elite skill, that's a win in my opinion. 

Dallas Mavericks

Round 1: Josh Howard, F, Wake Forest (No. 29)

They got a steal with Josh Howard late in the first. He's the type of all-purpose guy who's thrived in Dallas the past few years.

Credit where credit is due here. Howard was really good for a while. But.................Ford just couldn't quite put aside his love for international players all the way.

I'm a little surprised they left more physical post players such as Mario Austin, Zaur Pachulia and Malick Badiane on the board,

Chad Ford is like, "Sure, the Mavericks made a really selection, know there are so many international players who we know NOTHING ABOUT and isn't it more fun to draft those guys and pretend they will develop over time, as opposed to drafting a guy the team thinks will help the team win games now?

Grade: B

Detroit Pistons

Round 1: Darko Milicic, F, Serbia-Montenegro (No. 2)
Round 1: Carlos Delfino, G, Italy (No. 25)
Round 2: Andres Gliniadakis, C, Greece (No. 58)

This is a dream draft for Chad Ford. The Pistons had three picks and took zero American players. I don't have to tell you this draft got a "A+" do I? It did. If there were a grade higher than an "A+" then that is the grade Chad Ford would have given the Pistons draft in 2003.

How many teams with the best record in their conference end up with the best big man in the draft and a draft-night steal in Carlos Delfino? By now, you know about Darko, but Delfino will also be important down the road.

Carlos Delfino wasn't a bad player, that is true. But back to Darko...remember how much Chad Ford loved Darko Milicic? It bordered on obsession. What's funny is Ford didn't get his reputation for over-loving foreign-born players just from Darko, he loved nearly every international player because so much wasn't known about them. How much fun is that? If Chad Ford played "Let's Make a Deal" then he would always choose the prize behind the closed door because he has NO IDEA what's behind that door. Not knowing what is behind the door is so much better than the prize he currently has. 

Gliniadakis was a nice pickup at the end of the draft. He's a 7-footer who can actually play. The Pistons will leave him in Greece for a few years and bring him over when he's ready.

Ford writes something like, "Leave him overseas until he's ready" in some variation many times in these draft grades. It's like he thinks these international players are chicken tenders you just put in the oven to cook and then they come out ready to be NBA All-Stars. Gliniadakis did come over when he was ready and then immediately got sent back to whence he came. He's still playing in Romania by the way. 

Grade: A+

Houston Rockets

Round 1: No pick
Round 2: Malick Badiane, F, Germany (No. 44)

The Rockets made the most of their only pick. The team knows a thing or two about African players and they believe Badiane could be a force in the paint someday.

Chad Ford doesn't even need to know if an international player actually knows what a basketball looks like. Just look at that player and think about how great he could be DOWN THE ROAD SOMEDAY. This draft got a "B+" grade and I'm guessing Ford was tempted to give it an "A++++". I'm not sure Badiane has gotten closer to America than playing in the D-league for one year. But hey, it's a "B+" draft!

Indiana Pacers

Round 1: No pick
Round 2: James Jones, F, Miami (No. 49)

Jones is a nice second rounder. He has size, athleticism and a sweet stroke. But do the Pacers need another small forward?

Grade: B

See? Draft an American player and that team gets knocked from a "B+" to a "B" grade. If his name were Jamemarko Jonesinfino then there's a chance this is an "A" draft. The Pacers made the mistake of drafting a player with a unique skill he can use the NBA. They could have used this pick on a player that no one knew anything about, but who would marinate overseas and then come over to America and totally dominate.

Los Angeles Clippers

Round 1: Chris Kaman, C, Central Michigan (No. 6)
Round 2: Sofoklis Schortsanitis, F, Greece (No. 34)

The Kaman pick makes sense at one level. They know they're going to lose Michael Olowokandi and they're pretty sure that free agents won't be flocking to sign with them. But is Kaman a good fit? He doesn't want to play there and he doesn't fit their style of play.

No worries. The Clippers drafted an international player in the second round. Guess what? Chad Ford LOVES this player I haven't ever heard of and who never actually played in the NBA.

Their second-round pick was a steal at No. 34. Will Schortsanitis replace Elton Brand if he bolts this summer? More likely, he'll head back to Greece for another year or two before trying to bruise and pummel the NBA.

Yes, will Schortsanitis come over and immediately start playing at a high level in the NBA. Logically, he could do this since he was 18 years old at the time and had never played in the NBA before. How could he not come to the NBA and immediately take Elton Brand's place?

The absurdity of Chad Ford's love for international players can not be understated.

Grade: B

Memphis Grizzlies

Round 1: Troy Bell, G, Boston College (No. 16)
Round 1: Dahntay Jones, G, Duke (No. 20)

I can't fault the Grizzlies for liking Troy Bell and Dahntay Jones. They're both proven players and great athletes who can contribute immediately. However, they gave up two first-round picks to draft, essentially, two second-round picks. I don't agree with that. I think Bell will be a nice addition if he can crack the point guard rotation. If he can't, what was the point?

Grade: C-

The Grizzlies reached for two players in the first round and it only got them knocked down to a "C-." What would it take to get a "D" from Chad Ford? Drafting three American players in the first round who were projected to be undrafted? What would it take to get an "F"? Spending three first round picks on three guys who never actually played basketball at any level? Even then, if one of those guys was an international player then that team's draft would probably get a "D-."

Miami Heat

Round 1: Dwyane Wade, G, Marquette (No. 5)
Round 2: Jerome Beasley, C, North Dakota (No. 33)

It's tough to criticize Pat Riley for passing on Lampe when 24 other teams did the same thing.

It's also tough to criticize Riley because Lampe sucked terribly bad and fell in the draft for a very good reason.

Grade: A-

Any draft where a Hall of Famer is selected is an automatic "A" for me. This is a rare instance where Chad Ford gives a team too low of a grade.

Milwaukee Bucks

Round 1: T.J. Ford, G, Texas (No. 8)
Round 2: Szymon Szewczyk, F, Germany (No. 35)

If Gary Payton and Sam Cassell don't come back, it could be a good pick. But with the franchise for sale, will the 6-foot point guard turn this team around? I'm just not sold.

I SEE WHAT YOU DID THERE CHAD! The franchise was for sale and you aren't sold on T.J. Ford turning the team around. What if his name was Teejay Fjoryd and he was a skinny guy from Iceland? Would you have liked him more if that were the case?

Szymon Szewczyk is a nice player to get for future use. He'll head back to Germany, but in another year or two he could come back and be a force.

What is it with Chad Ford saying all these guys need "a year or two" overseas and then can come over and dominate? It's never "3-4 years" or "hey, he can come over now and play well," but Ford always gives the international player 1-2 years overseas and then the absolute domination begins.

Grade: C+

Minnesota Timberwolves

Round 1: Ndudi Ebi, F, Westbury Christian HS (No. 26)
Round 2: Rick Rickert, C, Minnesota (No. 55)

Remember the time when the Timberwolves would draft in the mid-20's and not just because they had traded for a pick in that area of the draft?

The Wolves passed on some talent that could help them right now (Josh Howard, Mario Austin) to take a kid that's at least three years away. Ndudi Ebi has the upside to be worth the risk down the road. But for a team like the Wolves -- who need to make that next step in the postseason -- Ebi gives zero relief. Ditto for Rick Rickert, who already gets the official label of draft bust.

Grade: Incomplete

Ford can't even give a failing grade. He gives an "incomplete" grade. Just give a "D" or an "F." Why the fuck would he give an "incomplete" grade for a draft that is complete?

New Jersey Nets

Round 1: Zoran Planinic, G, Croatia (No. 22)

The great thing about Planinic is his versatility -- taking Planinic is like drafting three guys. He has the experience and the basketball skill to make an impact in year one.

Drafting Planinic is like drafting three players. Basically, the Nets had three first round draft picks during the 2003 NBA Draft. What a nice luxury to be able to spend three picks on just one player. I bet Planinic was a real stud in the NBA. (looks up Planinic's numbers in the NBA)

Oh, he never averaged more than 5 points a game and averaged more personal fouls per game than rebounds, assists, or steals. God, how terrible would Planinic have been if drafting him had not been like drafting three guys? More importantly, what kind of versatility did Planinic display? He was good at missing shots (40.5% career FG), good at committing fouls (1.6 fouls per game in 10.7 minutes per game), and wasn't even a good foul shooter (67.7% FT).

Definitely not an "A-" draft from the Nets.

Grade: A-

New York Knicks

Round 1: Mike Sweetney, F, Georgetown (No. 9)
Round 2: Maciej Lampe, F, Poland (No. 30)
Round 2: Slavko Vranes, F, Serbia-Montenegro (No. 39)

But landing the other guy you thought about taking at No. 9, Maciej Lampe, was a huge draft steal. I've seen Lampe play enough to know that his slide wasn't warranted. Lots of teams dropped the ball on him. If he can work out his contract issues with Real Madrid, he'll make Knicks fans happy.

Knicks fans were happy when Lampe didn't play for the team anymore. The same can be said for Sweetney as well. I like how Chad Ford is so confident that Maciej Lampe was going to be a great player. Chad Ford KNEW that Lampe's slide wasn't warranted. So much confidence from a guy who couldn't give a "D" or "F" grade in these draft grades.

Grade: A-

Now, THIS is an "F" draft if there ever is one.

New Orleans Hornets

Round 1: David West, F, Xavier (No. 18)
Round 2: James Lang, C, Central Park Christian HS (No. 48)

David West is a solid pick. He'll contribute a little in year one, get some rebounds and block some shots. He's a poor man's P.J. Brown. They didn't shoot for the moon on this pick, nor did they stick out their necks.

David West was better than a poor man's P.J. Brown. I like how Ford graded this draft. Good effort, good job. Ah, who the fuck knows how to grade it? Here's a "C+" grade.

Orlando Magic

Round 1: Reece Gaines, G, Louisville (No. 15)
Round 2: Zaur Pachulia, F, Turkey (No. 42)
Round 2: Keith Bogans, G, Kentucky (No. 43)

This is the best draft the Magic have had in years. Gaines was the guy they wanted at No. 15 and he's a perfect fit in Doc Rivers' system. Landing Zaur Pachulia in round two was another big coup.

Grade: A

Bogans has had a pretty good career. Reece Gaines was not a fit for Doc Rivers' system. Maybe Chad Ford thought Gaines was from overseas. Even if Zaza and Bogans had decent careers this is not the best draft the Magic had in years (and if so, that's not saying much) and it is not an "A" draft.

Philadelphia 76ers

Round 2: Willie Green, G, Detroit (No. 41)
Round 2: Kyle Korver, F, Creighton (No. 51)

Kyle Korver may be one of the better shooters in the draft, but he can't create his own shoot and can't play a lick of defense.

It's the middle of the second round. To find one of the better shooters in the draft in the second round, in other words finding a guy with an elite skill, is not a bad thing. What else does Ford expect to be available in the middle of the 2nd round?

Grade: C-

We all know soft, white guys are deemed as having a high ceiling if they come from Poland. Unfortunately, Korver came from Creighton, so he has NO projectability and Chad Ford is disgusted at his existence in this draft. Why couldn't Korver just become an accountant like any good self-respecting white guy from America who played college basketball and could shoot the ball well would do?

Portland Trail Blazers

Round 1: Travis Outlaw, F, Starkville HS (No. 23)
Round 2: Nedzad Sinanovic, C, Bosnia-Herzegovina (No. 54)

Travis Outlaw may be a lottery pick after a couple of years in school, but right now he's a second-rounder. He can't contribute and won't for years. Meanwhile, the Blazers passed on several guys (Lampe, Barbosa, Pachulia, Cook) with just as much upside.

Grade: C-

The Trailblazers didn't have a great draft, but since when does Chad Ford have a problem with a player taking a few years to contribute? How many times in these draft grades has Ford fawned over an international player who will spend a few years overseas and then come to the NBA to contribute? When it's American player who may take a few years to contribute, all of a sudden it's a bad thing that player will take some time to develop. It doesn't make sense. International players have the benefit of time, but how dare an NBA team draft an American player who needs time to develop! Chad Ford hates it when NBA teams do that.

Sacramento Kings

Round 1: No pick
Round 2: No pick

They traded their only second-round pick for Darius Songailia. It was probably worth it. Sogailia had a great year on one of the best teams in Europe and should be able to step in and help the Kings next year.

Grade: B

While Songailia wasn't terrible in the NBA, it's hilarious that Ford is so obsessed with overseas players the fact that Songailia played well in one year overseas then Ford knows he's immediately ready for the NBA.

Seattle SuperSonics

Round 1: Nick Collison, F, Kansas (No. 12)
Round 1: Luke Ridnour, G, Oregon (No. 14)
Round 2: Paccelis Morlende, G, France

While both of their choices were solid, I think they could've done better. I would've grabbed Cook over Collison at power forward and taken Gaines over Ridnour at the point.

Collison still plays for the Sonics/Thunder, while Brian Cook isn't in the league anymore. Ridnour versus Reece Gaines was another win for the Sonics. This wasn't a great draft, but Chad Ford's suggestions for who the Sonics should have taken are not good at all.

Maybe Ridnour will be the next Steve Nash and Collison will be the next Austin Croshere.

WELCOME TO 2003 EVERYONE! Austin Croshere is a thing that other white power forwards get compared to.

Toronto Raptors

Round 1: Chris Bosh, F, Georgia Tech (No. 4)
Round 2: Matt Bonner, F, Florida (No. 45)
Round 2: Remon Van de Hare, C, Spain (No. 52)

Bosh has the chance to be a special player. It seems like the Raptors would've been better off sending him to Seattle or somewhere else for more veteran players, however.

Bosh had a chance to be a great player. Naturally, the Raptors should have immediately traded him in order to make sure they never got a chance to take advantage of having that great, young player like Chris Bosh. Brilliant idea.

The selection of Van de Hare, a true Euro stiff in the second round, hurt their grade.

(Bengoodfella gasps for breath at the realization that Chad Ford bashed a player who comes from overseas...what about giving him one or two years to develop and then he'll dominate in the NBA? WHAT HAPPENED TO THAT CHAD?)

Grade: B+

Utah Jazz

Round 1: Aleksandar Pavlovic, G, Serbia-Montenegro (No. 19)
Round 2: Maurice Williams, G, Alabama (No. 47)

Pavlovic gives them the shoot-the-lights out scorer they've coveted for years. Alabama's Mo Williams was a steal in round two. Both players could end up contributing in Utah next season.

Of course, Pavlovic may not be able to play a lick of defense, but who cares? He's there for his shooting ability. It's not like a player at #19 should be judged as if he were an all-around player like a player who was drafted at #51 would be judged.

Grade: A-

Washington Wizards

Round 1: Jarvis Hayes, G, Georgia (No. 10)
Round 2: Steve Blake, G, Maryland (No. 38)

Hayes is a good shooter, but in extending Jerry Stackhouse's contract, where does he fit? Stackhouse, Larry Hughes and Juan Dixon all play the same position. As for Steve Blake? So, let's see, Blake, Dixon ... How long before Chris Wilcox and Lonny Baxter end up in a Wizards uniform?

That's ridiculous. How long before Chris W---okay fine...Lonny Baxter played for the Wizards during the 2003-2004 season. That team did win 25 games by the way, which in college would have been a pretty good season. Unfortunately, in the NBA that was out of 82 games played.

Grade: C

Chad Ford seemed to hate this draft and yet it got a "C" grade. Just typical for Chad Ford's 2003 NBA Draft grades. As I always ask, if the grades aren't going to reflect poorly on any of the teams then what is the point of handing out grades? Every team can't have a wonderful to only slightly below average draft. 


Koleslaw said...

The only reason I can think of for why the "experts" give only high grades because they feel as if giving a bad grade and then having that grade be wrong looks worse than giving a high grade and being wrong.

I have no proof of this, it's just a theory.

Chris said...

I've never understood knocking a team for getting more guys at a certain position i.e. Chad giving the Pacers shit for drafting James Jones. To be fair going all David Kahn a few years ago and just assembling point guards is a little odd but surely a team needs depth on it's bench. A good role player can come off the bench and help the team a whole hell of a lot. Iqduoala proved that in the Finals. Not to mention should a team get bit by the injury bug it would be in their benefit to have depth. My favorite analogy of this odd way of thinking is saying Why did the Spurs draft Tim Duncan? They already have David Robinson!

Snarf said...

"WELCOME TO 2003 EVERYONE! Austin Croshere is a thing that other white power forwards get compared to. "

This was split across multiple lines, so I read it as "white-power forwards," rather than "white power-forwards." Was really confused for a second...

Slag-King said...

Did you miss the Spurs or did he leave them off? They drafted a Brazilian.

Bengoodfella said...

Koleslaw, I think our theory is absolutely correct. It's easier to be wrong and give a high grade than bash a player and be wrong.

Chris, I think I have knocked teams for doing that and it depends on the situation. I didn't hate Kahn drafting those PG's a few years ago, just because Rubio wasn't coming to the US for at least a year and they did need a PG. Of course, he chose the wrong PG, but that's a different story. I think Ford would have loved the pick if Jones was not from America.

Snarf, haha. It is a "white power-forward." Not anything dealing with white-power.

Slag, they traded Barbosa, so I skipped over that one. I probably should have included it for the international flavor. Though interestingly, that #28 pick turned into David Lee for the Knicks in 2005. The Spurs gave up the pick, their 2006 first round pick and Malik Rose for Jamison Brewer and Nazr Mohammad. So the Spurs turned the #28 pick in 2003, the 2006 first round pick, and Malik Rose into Brewer and Mohammad. Not sure how I feel about this. Though, the Knicks did draft Mardy Collins with the first round pick in 2006.

DG said...

Enjoyed the piece and think you make great points about international vs domestic "project" players as well as the ease of admitting favorable analysis was incorrect than having the stones to say "Ndudi Ebi is fucking terrible."

Small point, I disagree with your logic with the Hawks. Boris Diaw was a decent get at pick 21. My main disagreement (and correct me if I am inferring wrong here) was that him getting traded for Joe Johnson somehow diminishes the (IMO) solid selection of Diaw. Beyond that, the initial contract Johnson got from the Hawks wasn't a big overpay (again IMO). They shouldn't have included the picks in the sign and trade (that was bad) but I think he did well over the first contract with Atlanta (25-4-4 with 47/35/74 splits in 2006-7). The second contract was where things went bonkers.

Side point: You mocking this year? Curious to see your picks, especially your opinion on Okafor as an NBA prospect as I know you follow Duke.

Bengoodfella said...

DG, I don't think Diaw was a bad pick. The point I was trying to make was that the drafting of Diaw led to Joe Johnson being a Hawk, which led to that second contract. But yes, my logic probably did suck. I was trying to tie Diaw into Johnson and did it in an overly broad manner.

Yes, I am mocking this year. I am leaving tomorrow evening on vacation so I hope to have time to do it by then. Of course the draft is tomorrow evening, so if I don't do it by then there is no point in doing one. But yes, I will have a mock.

I probably would take Towns #1 overall. I like Okafor as an NBA prospect but think he needs to be matched up with a rim protector initially. His defense isn't there yet and he's never had to focus on defense and it showed at times at Duke. I think his defense can come along in the NBA though. I'll do my mock and give more of my opinion (which I know everyone can't wait for) tomorrow.