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Part One of "The Gerald Green Draft"

 

Evaluating the draft picks of the Eastern Conference teams

 

By Adam Hoff

Guest Starring: Jeff Dritz, Draft Guru

 

The Draft is now in the books.  There were surprise picks, guys that dropped, Green Room anguish, and the seemingly impossible scenario that had one of the three best players in the draft going #18.  I'm calling it now: this will forever be known as "The Gerald Green Draft."  That alone is big news.  Plus, we had the typical odd moments like McCants tapping Stern on the shoulder, Martell Webster's great aunt's hat, and the boos raining down on poor David Lee when the Knicks took him to finish the first round.  Now it is time to get to work on the task of grading each of the teams based on their draft performance.  Draft Guru Jeff Dritz is handing out letter grades while I am dishing out scores based on an elaborate and completely subjective scoring system. 

 

(The scoring system works like this: I created a mock draft list of the best players from 1-60.  The teams are then scored based on where their selection ranked on the list.  You get one point for taking the right guy, then up or down for getting a guy you shouldn't have been able to draft or for taking a guy ranked lower on the list.  Okay, so maybe it is not so elaborate after all.  However, the list is also adjusted for each team based on which players they already have.  For instance, the Blazers will score higher because Chris Paul and Deron Williams were not rated ahead of Martell Webster on their adjusted list.  Finally, the scores are weighted.  Top five picks are worth double points, picks five through 15 are worth full points, picks 10-20 are worth .75, picks 20-30 are worth half, and second round picks are worth .25.  This is due to the fact that higher picks carry more importance.) 

 

Let's get to the scoring.

 

Atlanta Hawks

Guru's Grade: B+.  Marvin Williams is the sort of guy you build a franchise around. However, their four best players are now small forwards (Williams, along with Josh Smith, Al Harrington, and Josh Childress), and they might have helped themselves more by taking Chris Paul. The Hawks opened the second round by taking Salim Stoudemire, a good shooter, but Roko Ukic is a better all-around point guard and would’ve made for a better choice here. Overall, the Hawks took the best player in the draft at #2, and can’t be faulted for it.

Adam's Score: 0.  The Hawks didn't do horribly, but it is hard to score well when you have such a high pick.  You are drafting this high because your team sucks so you can't afford to screw it up.  Hey, it's my system and that is the way it goes.  Williams was the second rated player on my Hawks Draft List (behind Paul) so they get two points for nabbing him (1 points for being the same draft slot, doubled for being a top five pick).  However, they passed on several better options when they took Salim Stoudemire eight picks too early so they get -2 for their second round selection (-8 spots at a rate of .25). 

 

Boston Celtics

Guru's Grade: A.  Danny Ainge did a great job. He got away with the steal of the first round when potential superstar Gerald Green fell into his lap at #18. Then, he made one of the best picks of the second round by taking Ryan Gomes at #50. Gomes is a strong, polished player who could work his way into the Celtics rotation this year. My only minor knock against Ainge was passing on John Gilchrist at #53, since the Celtics will need a point guard and Gilchrist has legitimate NBA first-round talent. Still, two steals for the C’s, well done.

Adam's Score: 14.75.  The Celtics dominated this draft.  They lose 1.75 points for taking Orien Greene (who I didn't even have on their top 60 list), but get huge points for grabbing the #3 player on their adjusted list in Gerald Green at pick 18 (11.25 points) and for snagging the #29 guy on their list in Ryan Gomes deep in the second round (5.25 points).  They got the biggest steal of each round.  Amazing.  Gomes should play both forward spots off the bench and Green could wind up being the best Celtics player since Larry Bird.  Not bad. 

 

Charlotte Bobcats

Guru's Grade: B+.  Bernie Bickerstaff went with two local boys to promote his team. Felton may have been a bit of a reach, but the Bobcats need a young point guard and he was the best available. I love May, he’s a great pick at #13, but they’re already strong at 4/5 with Emeka Okafor and Primoz Brezec, and might have done well to take Danny Granger to round out their front line. Nonetheless, May can be a double-double player this year, and they’ve improved their marketing capabilities greatly.

Adam's Score: -3.25.  Sadly, marketing doesn't go into my hard core methodology.  When the Bobcats selected Felton (the #7 player on their adjusted board which gives the 'Cats a -4 score on that pick), I thought they screwed up because my feeling was he would still be there at #13.  I bemoaned the fact that they could have had Granger with the fifth pick and rolled the dice on Felton dropping.  They didn't have the heart to chance it, but amazingly, Granger slid down to them … and they passed!  Bizarre turn of events.  I should give them negative points for passing on the most NBA ready player in the draft and a guy that could have been their starting small forward for the next 10 years.  (May was #13 on the adjusted board, so they got three quarters of a point for hitting the mark with an 11-20 pick.)

 

Chicago Bulls

Guru's Grade: A.  The Bulls had no picks this year, so this grade may not make sense on its face. However, the reason they didn’t have a first-rounder this year is because they traded it to Phoenix for the Suns’ #7 pick last season, which the Bulls used to take Luol Deng. Who knew the Bulls would have a surprising season, and end up with the #21 pick? Essentially, the Bulls traded Nate Robinson (who the Suns are shipping to New York) for Deng. No offense to Robinson, but Deng has the look of a star in the future. This grade would be an A+, but the Bulls lost their second-round pick in a long-ago trade that brought them Bryce Drew.

Adam's Score: NA.  This sort of creative thinking and analysis causes my groundbreaking scoring system to start smoking and making frightening sounds.  I'll pass.

 

Cleveland Cavaliers

Guru's Grade: B+.  The Cavs were without a first-round pick because Jim Paxson traded it for Jiri Welsch this season. Then the Cavs realized how broke Welsch is, and traded him for a second-rounder next year. In an effort to get into the action, they bought the rights to Martynas Andriuskevicious, who the Magic had taken at #44. Marty was supposed to be a top-10 pick last season before his stock dropped. However, he supposedly has a ton of potential, and if he pans out, this could be a steal. He also provided one of the more entertaining quotes of the night, when one of the commentators (I can’t remember which one, my draft party was a bit Grolsch-heavy), while pondering Marty’s fall from potential lottery-pick to the netherworld of the mid-second round, commented that “his agent (Herb Rudoy) should be fired.” After that, a girl at my draft party stopped talking about how her “brother’s friend’s dad is Marty’s agent.”

Adam's Score: 3.  As you can see by the score, the Cavs did make a decent scoop by getting the #32 player on their adjusted list with the #44 pick, so they score well based on my methods.  However, I take exception with the Guru granting them a B+.  First of all, a B+ is the worst grade you've given through five teams, so you aren't being too tough on these guys.  Beyond that, you used the "past trades" logic to reward the Bulls, yet it is seemingly ignored with the Cavs and the ill-fated Welsch trade.  Shouldn't trading their 2005 first round pick for a 2006 second round pick hurt their grade?  Come on, Dritz!

 

Detroit Pistons

Guru's Grade: B.  Maxiell is a hard working, blue-collar sort of player, though a bit undersized for a power forward. He may have gone too early, but he’s athletic and should fit into the Piston's system pretty well. He’s been called a “poor man’s Ben Wallace.” Their second-round picks in Amir Johnson and Alex Acker are pretty raw, and there are doubts about whether or not they’ll ever develop. Better prospects, such as Randolph Morris, John Gilchrist, and Kennedy Winston went undrafted.

Adam's Score: 0.  First of all, there are no better prospects than former Pepperdine star Alex Acker.  None!  Okay, maybe there are, but Joe Dumars has wanted Alex for a while and I think he'll be very good for the Pistons.  There are actually a lot of similarities to Tayshaun Prince.  Both have enormous wingspans, both saw their stock drop because their calm demeanor was mistaken for a lack of intensity, and plus, Tayshaun's older brother Tommy also played for Pepperdine.  Okay, so maybe it's not a perfect comparison, but I still think I'm on to something.  As for the score, Maxiell went five spots early (-2.5 points), Johnson (who I think could be a little like Samuel Dalembert) gave them two points as #48 on the adjusted list, and Acker was a .5 as #58 on the list.  Anyone sick of this scoring system yet?  I know I am.  Too bad though, we're sticking with it. 

 

Indiana Pacers

Guru's Grade: A+.  As a Bulls fan, the Danny Granger pick terrifies me. How could the rest of the league let a polished player like him fall to Indiana, already a potential title contender next year? He’s a steal, and he’ll be contributing to their rotation immediately. Lorbek is supposedly one of the best players in Europe already.  Tough not very athletic, he’s quite skilled for a power forward.

Adam's Score: 11.75.  If it wasn't for the Gerald Green Situation, this would be destined to be called The Danny Granger Draft.  This guy compares favorably with Scottie Pippen, he's ready to play right now, and he's a good guy on top of that.  And he goes #17? Toronto and Charlotte both needed small forwards desperately and still passed on him … twice.  The Lakers want to go back to the triangle offense … yet they passed on a guy that could be the next Pippen.  Bizarre stuff.  The Pacers reap the benefit as always and their score reflects that (Granger was #4 on their adjusted list, giving them 9.75 points, and Lorbek came in at #35 on the Pacers list because of their ability to stash him overseas, good for another 2 points).  Can you believe Indiana's combination of savvy personnel moves and luck over the past several years?  They traded a washed-up Dale Davis for Jermaine O'Neal.  They stole Brad Miller (although they botched that by trading him to the Kings for Scott Pollard because they didn't want to pay him) and Ron Artest from the Bulls for a greedy Jalen Rose.  Jamal Tinsley fell into their laps with pick #26.  Al Harrington netted them Stephen Jackson right before Harrington was exposed as a one-dimensional player.  And now one of the three or four best players in the draft goes to them at #17.  Amazing. 

 

Miami Heat

Guru's Grade: A.  The Heat got a great pickup when Simien dropped to #29. He’s a down-and-dirty sort of player, aggressive on the boards and D, and should be able to pick up immediately if Udonis Haslem leaves in free agency. His midrange game is more developed than Haslem’s, too, and he should get some good baseline jumper looks when Shaq draws double-teams.

Adam's Score: 4.  Simien was #21 on my adjusted list for the Heat, so this is a solid pick.  I actually like Haslem better paired with Shaq, so I hope Miami keeps him, but Simien is a nice addition.  On a side note, I'm concerned that the Heat didn't address their need for a backup point guard.  I'm obviously scarred from the Keyon Dooling Experience, but even if you don't want to see Dooling locked away somewhere, they still need to do something.  I have to believe they will go after a guy like Gary Payton with their midlevel exception. 

 

Milwaukee Bucks

Guru's Grade: B+.  The Bucks took Andrew Bogut at #1. While Williams is probably better, Bogut is a safe choice and he’ll average a double-double right off the bat. He has good hands and nice moves, and should anchor the middle for a while. A lot of people like their second-round pick, Eryan Ilyasova, calling him an “Andrei Kirilenko-type of player.” Every year, there’s a “next KG,” “next T-Mac,” next “Dirk,” and now it seems there’s always going to be a “next AK-47.” Ilyasova is young and coming off an injury. I’ll believe it when I see it.

Adam's Score: -1.  Bogut was #2 on my Bucks list (only because Chris Paul dropped due to the news that T.J. Ford is supposedly healthy), so they get -2 for letting Marvin Williams slide past them.  Big mistake.  I had Ilyasova at #32, so they get one of those points back.  First Eastern Conference team in negative numbers though.  Of course, we have yet to get to the Raptors.

 

New Jersey Nets

Guru's Grade: C.  I like Antoine Wright, but he doesn’t really make sense for the Nets. They’ve got Kidd, VC, and Richard Jefferson at the guard and wing positions. A much better pick would’ve been Granger, since he could probably play some 4 along with backing up Jefferson. Wright’s a sharpshooter, but so is Granger, and he’s tougher, stronger, more athletic, and plays better D. I’m not much of a Hakim Warrick fan, but he was on the board and could’ve come in and run the court with the Nets at the 4, too. As for Mile Ilic in the second round, they’re clearly hoping he’ll develop like Nenad Krstic has, but he’s young, raw, and far from being able to help.

Adam's Score: -3.75.  Wright is pretty sweet, but he was only #21 on my adjusted Nets list, for the reasons mentioned by the Guru.  With so many solid power forwards in this draft, how could they take a swingman?  Granger can play some four, Warrick could be a Marion type and would have thrived attacking the rim next to Kidd, and guys like Diogu, May, and Simien could have been had by moving up or down.  Unforgivable draft. 

 

New York Knicks

Guru's Grade: B+.  The Knicks did a pretty good job. I like Channing Frye at #8, they need some size and athleticism in the middle, and he’ll provide it, along with some scoring on the offensive end. I like Kurt Thomas, but he just wasn’t working out in New York, and Quentin Richardson will provide them with good D and a post-up game at the 3. Getting Nate Robinson along with him is a steal, Robinson will be an Earl Boykins-like sparkplug off the bench. I might’ve liked Francisco Garcia or Luther Head more here, though. Finally, I’m not a big fan of David Lee at #30. He’s a solid rotation player at the 4, but the Knicks already have those in Mike Sweetney, Trevor Ariza, Malik Rose, etc. They should’ve gone for someone like Chris Taft, who has the talent to be a real quality starting power forward.

Adam's Score: -1.5.  The Richardson trade was moronic.  Thomas was one of the only guys on the team with any toughness and they moved him for a guy with a bad back and a tendency to disappear in big games.  Besides, the Knicks already had a version of Q in Jamal Crawford.  Think of next season as one big race to see who can get to 600 three point attempts first.  As for the draft picks, they get +1 for Frye (higher on the Knicks list than any other team with the exception of the Warriors), -1.5 for Lee, and -1 for Robinson. 

 

Orlando Magic

Guru's Grade: C+.  Fran Vasquez to the Magic at #11 was somewhat surprising. He’s solid but already near his ceiling, and his style of play is similar to Dwight Howard’s. Sean May probably would’ve been a better fit, as well as Danny Granger. And picking Gerald Green to team with Howard would’ve created a strong foundation for the future. I like Travis Diener, but he’s mostly a shooter and more of a late second-rounder, not an early one. Roko Ukic has much more upside, and was still available. The Magic bought the rights to Marcin Gortat from the Suns, who took him at #57. Gortat’s a big, athletic Polish center but is raw and will need to develop.

Adam's Score: -7.5.  Is there really such a thing as a big, athletic Polish center?  This is the one set of picks that just looks awful and that I plan on making fun of for hours but that will probably work out great.  There's always one team that somehow pulls that off.  Here, what I see is one guy that will improve Howard's confidence in his offensive game (Vasquez, who will get dunked on every day in practice by the young star), another guy that will pretend to be Kirk Hinrich when the Magic get ready to play the Bulls and need to practice against their sets (Diener), and a guy who just sucks (Gortat).  Again, this will probably be the trio that works out.  Stranger things have happened. 

 

Philadelphia 76ers

Guru's Grade: C+.  If Jason Maxiell is a “poor man’s Ben Wallace,” then Louis Williams is a “homeless man’s Allen Iverson.” Williams is an athletic, undersized shooting guard (like Iverson), and some have claimed he’s got attitude problems (like Iverson). While he certainly has talent, he may not have the heart that Iverson does. Clearly, the Sixers are hoping AI can be a guide for Williams. However, I have a feeling AI might just tear the unprepared Williams apart instead. There were a couple better players on the board at #45 (like Ryan Gomes), but this project must’ve intrigued the Sixers too much to pass up. Whatever the results, this one will be worth watching.

Adam's Score: -3.75.  Dritz, why are you stealing my lines?  This is the worst grade Philly could get with pick #45 and that is because Williams wasn't even on their adjusted top 60 list.  Not only do they have AI, but they also have another small shooting guard in Willie Green.  How many do they need?  They should have taken a guy like Alan Anderson or Kennedy Winston (neither of whom were drafted) that could have given them a nice platoon with Korver at one of the wing positions.  Maybe they'll pick one of them up as a free agent.   

 

Toronto Raptors

Guru's Grade: D.  1,000 monkeys with 1,000 typewriters would all make better picks in the first round than Rob Babcock. Charlie “locker room cancer” Villanueva at #7!?!?  Villanueva is a lazy, overrated player who looked like he’d rather be picking dandelions than playing basketball during his two years at UConn. And, he plays the same position as the Raptors’ only good young player (Chris Bosh)! Just when you didn’t think the Raptors’ “brain trust” could outperform themselves in the category of incompetence, they took Joey “poor man’s Danny Granger” Graham at #16, while Granger was still on the board! I like Graham, but Granger does everything Graham does, and better. All this after the Rafael Araujo fiasco last year! If this was how they were going to use their two first round picks, they really should’ve just traded them to New Orleans for Jamaal Magloire. The only reason the Raptors didn’t get an F- is because they got away with the steal of the second round, Roko Ukic at #41. This Euro can really get to the basket, passes well, and has good size for a point guard at 6’5”. Look for him to play ahead of or next to Rafer Alston next season. Still, no wonder Vince Carter wanted out of Toronto

Adam's Score: -11.75.  What a disaster.  Here's the breakdown of this atrocious score: Villanueva was a -15 (a 5-10 pick that went 15 places too soon), Graham was a -.75 (#17 on the list … although they should get an extra -10 for taking him instead of Granger.  It would be like having your choice between Jordan and Clyde Drexler in their primes and inexplicably choosing Drexler), and Ukic tried to save the day with a +4 (although I think Ukic is going to be more like Zoran Plananic than Tony Kukoc). 

 

Washington Wizards

Guru's Grade: B-.  I’m not sold on Andray Blatche, but he’s a skilled 7-footer, and young. Not a bad pick at #49, but Ryan Gomes could’ve helped this team off the bench immediately.

Adam's Score: 5.  The Wizards do well on this system.  I agree that Gomes would have been a better pick (I had him #26 on the Wizards' list, ahead of Blatche at #29), but that's not how this scoring system works.  Despite the fact that they might have passed on a better player, they still get credit for scooping up a nice pick.  Besides, who needs forward help off the bench when you have Laron Profit and Michael Ruffin? 

 

To wrap this up, here are the teams in order of score on my ridiculous scale (you don't need the Guru's grades posted again, because the context isn't as important):

 

Boston Celtics: 14.75

Indiana Pacers: 11.75

Washington Wizards: 5

Miami Heat: 4

Cleveland Cavs: 3

Detroit Pistons: 0

Atlanta Hawks: 0

Milwaukee Bucks: -1

New York Knicks: -1.5

Charlotte Bobcats: -3.25

New Jersey Nets: -3.75

Philadelphia 76ers: -3.75

Orlando Magic: -7.5

Toronto Raptors: -11.75

Chicago Bulls: NA

 

Tune in next time for the Western Conference Grades.

 

Adam Hoff is a columnist for the Webby-winning website WhatifSports.com and a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers of America.  He can be reached at wis.insider@gmail.com.

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