NBA Draft Review, II
Reviewing the Western Conference picks
By Adam Hoff
Guest Starring: Jeff Dritz, Draft Guru
Since the first half of the draft review came out, we've seen Ray Allen re-sign with Seattle, the Bucks pursue Doug Collins, Flip Saunders, and Terry Stotts to be their new coach, and MTV premier their latest so-bad-that-it-is-sweet reality show about people living in the 1970's. Obviously, a lot has happened. However, we need to forget about all of that and focus on breaking down the draft performances of the teams in the Western Conference. Once again, 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.)
And we're off!
The Mavs had no picks this year due to trades that are too complex to analyze.
Guru's Grade: C. I love Julius Hodge, but Iím not sure where he fits in for the Nuggets. They needed a 2 who could shoot the rock, and thatís about the one thing Hodge doesnít do so well. Francisco Garcia was still on the board, and mightíve been better for the Nuggets. Ditto Luther Head. As for trading the rights to Jarrett Jack for the rights to Linus Kleiza and Ricky Sanchez, I think the Nuggets made a big mistake. Kleiza has promise, but needs to develop into a 3, and Sanchez is years away from making an impact, if he ever can. Jack is a good player and a potential steal, even though they didnít need another point guard. They also couldíve beefed up their front line by taking Wayne Simien at #22, thus making Nene more expendable as trade bait for a legit shooting guard.
Adam's Score: -19.25. The Nuggets had a very rough night. Hodge is merely a better version of Greg Buckner and was only #31 on their adjusted list. Kleiza (#42) and Sanchez (NR) were just brutal picks. The Nuggets managed to make three picks rated between -5.5 and -7.5, which I thought was impossible. Had Denver gone with Garcia at #20 and Simien at #22, as the Guru suggested, they would have scored a solid 6.5. Whoops.
Golden State Warriors
Guru's Grade: A-. Finally, after a decade of making terrible moves that culminated in the gross overpayment of Adonal Foyle and Derek Fisher last offseason, the Warriors are starting to make some good decisions. They made fantastic picks in this yearís draft, starting with Ike Diogu at #9. This was not too high. Ike is capable of being a 20/10 guy soon, and will let them move Troy Murphy to center and drop Foyle with the new collective bargaining agreementís one-time luxury tax exception (unless they decide to drop Fisher instead). As I said in my preview, getting Taft at #42 was a steal, since he has the talent to be a good player in the NBA, if he can motivate himself. The only blemish on the record was taking Monta Ellis at #40, when Roko Ukic was still available.
Adam's Score: 8. Ike was the ninth best player for the Warriors and that's who they got. Taft was a big boost to the score, as he was rated #22 on my Warriors board (a 5-point pick), and I actually like Ellis. I can imagine G-State running Baron, Ellis, and J-Rich at the same time in a few years and throwing up 45-point quarters.
Guru's Grade: A-. I love Luther Head. Heís very athletic, has NBA 3-point range, and defends well. There are questions about whether he has the ball-handling abilities to be a full-time point guard, but T-Macís solid handle alleviates this pressure somewhat. Itís a shame Jarrett Jack didnít drop, though apparently he couldíve been had for relatively cheap. Wayne Simien might have been a better pick here, as Juwan Howard is aging and Simien is tough and would do the grunt work that Yao Ming canít do. Nonetheless, the Rockets got a solid pro in Head.
Adam's Score: 3. I thought for sure that Houston would go with Simien (who was rated #16 on their board because of their need for a power forward), but their selection of Head seems to indicate that they think they can make a run at Stromile Swift with their full $4.9 mil exception. He's going to see bigger dollar signs elsewhere, so this might be misplaced hope, particularly in light of his recent quote: "A lot of people like to say that the dollars aren't important, but really they are." Nice. Regardless, Head has good speed and I think he can play the point effectively, so the Rockets get three points for grabbing the #18 player on their adjusted list.
Clippers Los Angeles
Guru's Grade: D-. Three things you can rely on: Death,
taxes, and the Clippers blowing the draft. The Clips were actually competitive
this year, and are a good player or two away from making the playoffs. Theyíve
got a solid core built around Brand and Maggette. Then, two guys who could
immediately help them finally qualify for the postseason surprisingly are
available to them at #12 (Danny Granger and Antoine Wright). Only the Clippers
could find a way to blow this opportunity by picking a 17-year-old Euro who
might be the next Toni Kukoc, but is at least 3-4 years away. They needed help,
and now, and could have had it. They shouldnít have made a promise to Korolev,
and they shouldnít have kept it. The topper was then taking Daniel Ewing at #32.
The Clippers are hoping for another Chris Duhon. While theyíre both tough and
gritty, thereís a significant difference between Duhon and
Adam's Score: -14.25. I agree that the Clippers blew it again and that their draft was high comedy, but I don't think it was Elgin's fault. Apparently, Mike Dunleavy is calling the shots now and the word is that he became enamored with Korolev because he reminded him of his son (who has been a constant disappointment in Golden State, by the way). So make fun of the Clippers all you want, but Baylor might be off the hook on this one. Either way, they got a horrible score for taking the #23 player on their board with the 12th pick (-8.25 points) and the #56 player with the 32nd pick (-6 points). That is downright pathetic.
Los Angeles Lakers
Guru's Grade: D+. Well, since the Clippers were finally competitive with the Lakers during the season this year, I guess the Lakers decided to be competitive with the Clippers in the offseason (not good). Andrew Bynum is a 7-footer and big, so he must be the next Shaq. Right? Or maybe the next Eddy Curry? I still canít figure out why they traded the real Shaq. I also canít believe Phil Jackson or Kobe Bryant would sign off on this pick, when the Lakers need immediate help to get back into the playoffs and guys like Danny Granger, Sean May, and Antoine Wright were still on the board. Wright would have helped them the most, since they need a sharpshooter for Kobe to dish to. Bynumís a couple years away, at least, and I canít imagine that Phil really plans to be around to see this pick come to fruition. If the Lakers were going to draft for potential, they should have picked Gerald Green. They get a D+ because I like Ronny Turiaf, though there were better players like Roko Ukic, Chris Taft, and Ryan Gomes still available. Von Waferís very athletic, but heíll lead the Lakers in suspensions and arrests before he ever leads the team in any on-court statistical categories.
Adam's Score: -5. I agree that this was a bad draft for the Fake Show, but the scoring system isn't terribly harsh on them. Bynum is a legit center prospect and if he does progress at the same rate as a guy like Curry, he'll be pretty solid in about four years. Most teams will take that. I agree though that this was a weird choice given the circumstances. First, they were supposedly desperate to move up to #3 so they could take Gerald Green (despite the fact that they needed a point guard more than a shooting guard). Then he drops to them at #10 and they pass. Mistake #1. Their second mistake was when they passed on a guy who was referred to as "possibly a Scottie Pippen type of player" in Danny Granger. Now, we all know that the analysts are prone to hyperbole and they love to use the "he's the next" comment, but this might be warranted. Granger can shoot and handle the ball, he's fast and athletic, he's versatile, and he's an outstanding defender. He really does sound like Pippen. So do you think, just maybe, the Lakers could have used a new version of Scottie Pippen to help run the triangle offense? It is downright bizarre that they passed on Granger.
Guru's Grade: C. After picking players like Troy Bell and Dantay Jones in the first round in the past couple years, the days of giving Jerry West the benefit of the doubt are over. Hakim Warrick is a good player at #19, but doesnít really make sense for the Grizzlies. The idea is for him to replace Stromile Swift as an athletic big man up front, but Swift could play center, whereas it's debatable whether Warrick at 215 pounds can even play power forward. The Grizzlies are already overstocked at the 4, with Pau Gasol, James Posey, and Brian Cardinal. Meanwhile, theyíre going to lose Earl Watson to free agency and want to trade Jason Williams, leaving them incredibly thin at the point. Iím not sure why they didnít take Jarrett Jack here. Undoubtedly, West was scared of Jackís turnovers (probably reminded him too much of Williams), but Jack is also playmaker and a scorer. As for Lawrence Roberts in the second round, Iím a big fan, but the Grizz gave up their second-rounders for the next two years and cash for his rights, undoubtedly too much for a guy who they probably could have signed as an undrafted free agent.
Adam's Score: 2.5. Even with an undefined position and Memphis' relative lack of need in the frontcourt, Warrick was a solid pick according to the scoring system. He's athletic and has a great attitude, which is more than can be said about most players. Personally, Memphis bores me, so lets move on.
Guru's Grade: C. After years of banishment from the
first round due to the Joe Smith fiasco, Kevin McHale clearly isnít comfortable
picking in the lottery. Rashad McCants ďhas a lot of upsideĒ but there are so
many questions about him. Iím sure heís a nice guy, but to be honest, I think
heís too sensitive (lacks toughness) to be an NBA star. He has stress-related
stomach problems, backed out halfway through workouts, and couldnít handle the
Adam's Score: -6. Weird draft. The thing that I find strange is that Wright is widely regarded as being just as talented as McCants but without any of the issues. I still think McCants' "upside" is vastly overrated. As for Bracey Wright. he was a terrible pick. They get dinged three points for each selection.
New Orleans Hornets
Guru's Grade: A. The Hornets really lucked out when the Jazz traded up to #3 to pick Deron Williams. Chris Paul is a better player, and one of three guys in this draft with superstar potential (Marvin Williams and Gerald Green are the others). The Hornets did well by going with the obvious choice, and Paul will be a huge upgrade over Speedy Claxton at the point, and can attack the basket, dish, shoot, and run the floor. Brandon Bass is a decent pick at #33, not quite as big or talented as Chris Taft (who was available), but much more motivated. With Paul and J.R. Smith, the Hornets now have a backcourt to build around.
Adam's Score: 7.50. The bottom line is that the Hornets got the best player in this draft (8 points for getting their top guy at #4). Just remember what happened here when Paul is a seven-time All-Star and dicing people up in the Finals in 2013. Bass was a decent pick, I suppose.
Guru's Grade: C-. The Suns gave away their #21 pick (Nate Robinson) to the Knicks, along with Q Richardson to get Kurt Thomas. Thomasí toughness on D and the boards will help them, but itís a shame they had to give up Robinson in the process. In the end, this trade is good for them, though. Dijon Thompson, their second-round pick, is talented but lazy, and may not make the squad. They wouldíve done better to pick someone more ready to contribute, like perhaps Lawrence Roberts, Kennedy Winston, Sean Banks, or maybe Eddie Basden for his D.
Adam's Score: -.25. Yawn. Thompson was #55 on the Suns' adjusted board and they got him with the 54th pick. Not a whole lot to get excited about. (But for the record, I think Raja Bell is going to be better for them than Q was. Add in Thomas and they are quietly better than last year, already. As long as they sign Joe Johnson, things are looking good for the Suns.)
Guru's Grade: C. Iím not a huge fan of Martell
Webster. Sure, heís the most ďreadyĒ of the high schoolers, but is he really
good enough to contribute now? It seems ludicrous to pick another high school
shooting guard ahead of Gerald Green, who has the potential to be great. If the
Blazers wanted a more developed 2 guard, why not pick Antoine Wright? Iím not
sure about the Jarrett Jack pick, either. I love Jack, but didnít they draft
Sebastian Telfair last season with the plans of handing him the reins? Telfair
and Jack play similar styles, and canít play on the court together. At least
Webster and Jack donít seem too likely to be adding their names to the police
blotter soon. Then again, everyone seems to go bad in
Adam's Score: -5. The Webster pick was solid, according the scoring system. Paul, Williams, and Felton all got dumped out of the Blazers' top 10 because of their insistence that Telfair was the guy. So Webster actually landed right at #6 (where he was drafted). In reality, I'm just adding them to the "Passed on Chris Paul" list. Not only that, but the Jack pick gets hammered, because he was #34 on their list for the same reason Webster got bumped up. If they donít want to draft Chris Paul, why draft Jarrett Jack? Strange work by the Blazers, as always.
Guru's Grade: B. The Kings have been knocked for taking Francisco Garcia when they took a similar player in Kevin Martin last year, but Garcia is better. Aware that Cuttino Mobley is likely to leave via free agency, they moved to fill that hole. Garcia can hit from downtown and play D. Heís a good addition, though they mightíve done well to add Simien for some inside toughness.
Adam's Score: 4. Garcia was #15 on my Kings draft list and was a great pull with the 23rd pick. Kevin Martin is horrible, so people shouldn't worry about that aspect of things.
San Antonio Spurs
Guru's Grade: C. Iím giving the Spurs the benefit of the doubt, they always hit big on the internationals. Nobody seems to know anything about Mahinmi, and there was absolutely no buzz surrounding him before the draft. I bet they couldíve waited and signed him as an undrafted free agent. Iím a proponent of contenders drafting guys who can help them right away, and a guy like Simien or Gomes wouldíve worked (if at least to keep Simien from potential Finals opponent Miami), but apparently the Spurs didnít see any open time in their rotation for these guys.
Adam's Score: -9.5. I wish I could give bonus points for comedy, because Mahinmi's reaction at the draft was priceless. All I know is that I had him #48 on the Spurs' list (and that was only because I had never heard of him, which meant that he was probably a good fit for the Spurs) and that they took him WAY too early.
Guru's Grade: B. Both Johan Petro and Mickael Gelebale are raw but seem to have real potential. We wonít see them here in the next couple years, but if they develop, this could end up being a great draft. Still, with the Sonics poised to lose some guys via free agency, yet seemingly intent on contending now, I canít help but think they mightíve done better by taking Simien and Gomes instead.
Adam's Score: 2.75. Pass the baguettes! The Sonics went all French, all the time in this draft. I know little about either player but had them at #24 and #39 on Seattle's list, which is great for the Sonics, because they took at them at #25 and #48.
Guru's Grade: D+. The Jazz made a great move in trading up to the #3 spot so they could draft the top point guard available, a guy who has All-Star potential for the next decade. Then, they drafted Deron Williams instead. They lose major points for passing on Paul. To be honest, Iím not sure why they ever traded away Carlos Arroyo. Williams supposedly is a ďbetter fit in the Jazz systemĒ than Paul, but Paul is simply a better player. As for their second-rounders, CJ Miles might go back to college, though that may work out for them in the end as theyíll hold his rights when he leaves, and Robert Whaley probably wonít make the team. Guaranteed, the Jazz will be kicking themselves when Paul wins the Rookie of the Year award.
Adam's Score: -7. I agree that they botched things big time passing on Paul, but Williams still provides a decent score on the system (their #4 player with the third pick, a score of -2). Miles and Whaley were actually bigger misfires.
The Adam's Score Standings
Golden State Warriors: 8
New Orleans Hornets: 7.5
Sacramento Kings: 4
Houston Rockets: 3
Seattle Sonics: 2.5
Memphis Grizzlies: 2.5
Phoenix Suns: -0.25
Portland Blazers: -5
Los Angeles Lakers: -5
Minnesota Timberwolves: -6
Utah Jazz: -7
San Antonio Spurs: -9.5
Los Angeles Clippers: -14.25
Denver Nuggets: -19.25
Adam Hoff is a columnist for the Webby-winning WhatifSports.com and a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers of America. He can be reached at email@example.com.