I did this for the Eastern Conference earlier today. If you missed that piece then 1) go check it out…now 2) these are my rules for how I review teams:
- I don’t give team grades. I give thumbs up or thumbs down. If I really, really liked a team’s draft, I’ll give them two thumbs up, and if I really hated it, I’ll give them two thumbs down. I have to have a really strong opinion of a team’s draft to do that though. For the most part, I either have a positive or negative opinion. I don’t think in terms of grades. If I’m undecided, I’ll give a team an “On the Fence.”
- I’m concerned with who received good value for their picks. For instance, obviously the Bulls had a better draft than the Magic, they picked first and Orland picked 22nd. However, if Chicago didn’t pick the right guy and Orlando got good value for their pick, I’ll like Orlando’s draft more, despite the fact that the player they got might be less talented. Make sense? Good, On to the teams!
Dallas Mavericks – Thumbs Up
Picks: Shan Foster (51)
-They didn’t have much to work with, having given away their first-rounder in the terrible Jason Kidd trade. However, they got a pretty decent player with their one late second-rounder. Foster may never find a place in the league, as often happens with second-rounders, but he’s at least got one exceptional skill, and that gives him a shot. His jumper is absolutely beautiful, and he’s got a high, quick release on it. If you’re going to have one defined skill, long-range shooting is a pretty good one to have, NBA teams are always looking for that.
Denver Nuggets – Thumbs Up
Picks: Sonny Weems (39)
-They could’ve had CDR instead of Weems, so it’s a bit hard to defend that pick. Weems is a terrific athlete, but whether or not he’ll be much of a player is still to be seen. However, they get a good grade for trading a late first-rounder to Charlotte for a future first-rounder. With the way Charlotte has been going, that’s almost certainly going to wind up being a decently high pickin the future. Considering the Bobcats got Alexis Ajinca in this spot, I think it’s safe to say that Denver didn’t lose much giving up the pick.
Golden State Warriors – Thumbs Up
Picks: Anthony Randolph (14), Richard Hendrix (49)
- Don’t get used to all the thumbs up, I don’t like everyone’s draft. While I’m not sure Randolph is the best fit for Golden State (they’ve already got one super-skinny forward in Branden Wright), but he was pretty clearly the top prospect on the board. I’m sure they were disappointed to see Jason Thompson (who they reportedly loved) and Brandon Rush go right ahead of them, they did end up picking a guy who could be really good down the road. He’s got a pretty high skill level for a 6′11 guy, he’s a really good ball-handler for his size. He’s very inexperienced and VERY skinny right now though, so it’ll be a few years before he contributes at all. Before all is said and done, I think there’s a good chance they trade either he or Wright. Hendrix is one of my favorite guys in the draft. He’s kind of the anti-Randolph. He’s a load inside and a rebounding machine, with good touch inside and surprising quickness for a guy his size. Though he’s a bit undersized, he has a huge wingspan, and his standing reach measured the same as Al Horford from last year. That late in the draft, he’s a great pickup.
Houston Rockets – Thumbs Up
Picks: Donte Green (28), Joey Dorsey (33), Maarty Leunen (54)
- First of all, they helped screw up the Spurs’ draft plans by taking Nicholas Batum and trading him to Portland (more on that later). Second, they got great value with Green, a late lottery talent who fell to them at the end of the first round. He’s got a chance to be a Rashard Lewis type of player with his shooting stroke. Third, they picked up Joey Dorsey, one of my favorite second-round guys. He’s got the potential to be a real defensive game-changer in the Ben Wallace mold. What’s more, he’ll have a lot of competition in Houston’s frontcourt, so he’ll have to work hard if he wants to crack the rotation. I think it’s a great situation for him. Really good draft for the Rockets given what they had to work with.
Los Angeles Clippers – Thumbs Up
Picks: Eric Gordon (7), De’Andre Jordan (35), Mike Taylor (55)
- Darn it, I want to give someone a thumbs down. It looks like I’m being too nice. Oh well, that’ll come later. As for the Clippers, I think they did a fantastic job with this draft. They were reportedly going to swap picks with Seattle to move up and get Gordon, but that deal was called off. Good thing for LA, because they got their man at #7 anyway. Gordon is one of the more intriguing prospects in this draft. He absolutely dominated for the first half of the season, but then floundered at the end of the year as he struggled with some injuries and the turmoil of Indiana’s coaching situation. Who is the real Eric Gordon? I think it’s the guy we saw early in the season, the kid with ridiculous strength and athleticism, and a killer jumper to go along with it. He’s a bit undersized for a SG, but he’s very strong and a terrific leaper, so I don’t think it’ll be much of a problem for him. If Shaun Livingston can come back from injury and give him a tall PG to pair with, that would really be an optimal situation. As for Jordan, he was the steal of the draft after CDR. There are concerns with his work ethic and low skill level, but there’s no way an athlete like that should’ve dropped to 35. He’s no-risk, all-reward for the Clippers, and could end up making a lot of teams look stupid when all is said and done.
Los Angeles Lakers – On The Fence
Picks: Joe Crawford (58)
- And by “On The Fence” I mean “I don’t care”. Crawford probably won’t make the team, but you don’t expect much with the 58th pick.
Memphis Grizzlies – Thumbs Down
Picks: O.J. Mayo (3), Darrell Arthur (27)
- Ah Memphis, I knew I could count on you for a thumbs down. They were doing so well, too. They had taken Kevin Love, a great fit for their team, and they’d grabbed the falling Darrell Arthur, another good fit. Alas, it was too good to be true, and we learned after the draft that they’d agreed to trade Love to Minnesota to get Mayo. So, they gave up Love (a perfect fit to their roster), Mike Miller (a reasonably priced shooter, definitely a valuable trade piece), and took back 3 worse contracts than the three they traded away. All that to get Mayo, when they’ve already got 3 point guards on the roster. Chris Wallace, Ladies and Gentlemen, let’s give him a hand. Chris, you can pick up your “Isiah Thomas Worst GM” trophy later, it comes with an obligatory turd sandwich.
Minnesota Timberwolves – On The Fence
Picks: Kevin Love (5), Nikola Pekovic (31)
- After I reamed the Memphis side of this trade, you’d think I’d be a big fan of the TWolves side, right? Well, I like a lot of things the TWolves did with the trade. They got a valuable trading piece in Miller, they helped their salary cap, and they got a very good prospect in Love. However, my reservation lies in the idea of a Jefferson-Love frontcourt. While I love Love (*snicker*), he’s not a great athlete, and neither is Jefferson. I just don’t see them doing anything significant with such a defensively limited frontcourt. They’re going to have to trade one of those guys eventually if they want to be a contender. Mayo was, in my opinion, the better fit. As for Pekovic, he was a fantastic pick-up. He’ll be overseas for a while, but he’s very talented and would’ve been probably a mid first-rounder if not for his contract situation. He could really help them a few years down the road.
New Orleans Hornets
- They sold their pick for money, which is acceptable given the financial state of the team. They’ll try to go out and get another piece with the mid-level exception this summer.
Phoenix Suns – On The Fence
Picks: Robin Lopez (16), Goran Dragic (42)
- RIP The Seven Seconds Or Less era in Phoenix. They take a center with limited offensive ability and they trade a skilled forward (Malik Hairston) for a defensive-minded guard. We’ll miss you Mike. I actually like the Lopez pick. They need that energy guy who can rebound and run the floor, and Shaq is definitely going to need to take a lot of breathers during the season, so he should get plenty of PT. He also gave the best interview of the night at the draft and seems like a nice guy. The move to get Dragic is a bit strange though. They traded away a guy with a definite chance to stick (Hairston), a future second-rounder, and cash (which is strange, because Phoenix has been selling picks off for years) in order to move up a few spots to get a guard who may not even come over from Europe. Just a strange move.
Portland Trailblazers – Two Thumbs Up
Picks: Jerryd Bayless (11), Nicholas Batum (25)
Note to the rest of the league: Kevin Pritchard is making you all look like idiots. Pritchard turned his 13th pick and a backup point guard into Bayless, a top 5 talent on a lot of people’s boards. Not only that, but the Blazers apparently love Bayless and had been targeting him all along. When he slipped to 11th, they were happy to jump right in and snatch him up. Bayless is a perfect fit on the Blazers, where his weaknesses (point guard skills, a bit undersized for SG) will be hidden playing next to Brandon Roy, who can play PG and then switch over and guard SGs. The Batum pick was another great one. They’d scouted Batum extensively and loved him, reportedly considering him with the 13th pick. Together with the Rockets, they foiled San Antonio’s plan of hiding him from the rest of the league, and they got another great piece to add to their nucleus. If that’s not enough, they turned their remaining two picks into four future second-rounders (netting 3 future second-rounders from the Bulls for their 36th pick). Really, unbelievable work.
Sacramento Kings – Thumbs Down
Picks: Jason Thompson (12), Sean Singletary (42), Patrick Ewing Jr. (43)
- I liked Thomson a lot, but 12 was way too high for him. With a rebuilding franchise, Brandon Rush or Anthony Randolph would’ve been better picks. You’ve got to get good value with your picks in the draft, and Sacramento didn’t. If they really wanted Thompson, they should’ve traded down and hoped he slipped by Golden State. As for the other picks, I like one but not the other. I think Singletary has a great chance to be a player in the league. He struggled with some back problems and was stuck on a terrible team, but I thought he was the best player in the ACC last season. Ewing is an energy guy, but he’s really undersized, and it’s hard to see him finding a place in the league.
San Antonio Spurs – Thumbs Down
Picks: George Hill (26), Malik Hairston (48), James Gist (57)
- *Ducks lightning bolt* The Spurs have been masters of the draft process over the last few years, so it’s hard to criticize them, but I just can’t find much to like about this draft. The Spurs had clearly promised Batum they’d draft him, and that’s what both camps were hoping for, to the point that San Antonio apparently had a physical showing Batum’s heart problem to be a non-issue, only neither they nor Batum’s agent released it to the rest of the league (see this DraftExpress live blog of the draft and scroll to the part about Batum). However, Houston and Portland busted that up, and the Spurs were left scrambling. Hill at 26 is clearly a reach, however much they like him, and he could’ve been had 20 picks later. Getting Hairston, cash, and a second-round pick from the Suns later was pretty good work, but doesn’t make up for reaching big-time on Hill.
Seattle Supersonics – Thumbs Down
Picks: Russell Westbrook (4), Serge Ibaka (24), D.J. White (29), DeVon Hardin (50)
- No team came into the draft with more than the Sonics, who held 6 picks total. However they blew their first two picks, and I think this draft is going to come back to haunt them. There is no way on Earth you can convince me that Russell Westbrook is worthy of the #4 pick. He’s not a true point guard, he’s not a great ball-handler, and he didn’t even start until midway through the year. He’s an athlete, and that’s about it at this point. Draft history shows us how well that usually works out. Ibaka at 24 was another bad pick (though, apparently the Sonics are under contractual obligation to take a foreign mega-project every year at center, so I guess you can’t blame them). He may never end up playing in the league, since his agents told nobody to draft him in the first round since he has a contract offer on the table in Europe already. This pick makes sense how? I do actually like their later picks. White is definitely going to be a player in this league, he’s tough, athletic and skilled. Hardin is another very good athlete who is great value that late in the draft, some people had him as a borderline first-rounder. However, those picks aren’t enough to balance out the huge mistake of taking Westbrook that high.
Utah Jazz – Thumbs Up
Picks: Kosta Koufos (23), Ante Tomic (44), Tadija Dragicevic (53)
- No way Koufos should’ve fallen to them at 23, but they’re happy he did. He’s got a lot of similarities with Mehmet Okur, and he should fit in well there. Great value at that pick. Tomic is a solid international prospect who they can tore in Europe and let develop. He’s too thin right now, but if he can continue to add weight, he’s got a high skill level and could be a big pickup for this team.
BallerBlogger contributing writer ‘xphoenix87′ is a college student who dreams of one day writing about sports for a living. Since that’s not gonna happen, he’ll do this instead.