This is Part 2 of the NBA Draft Review. For those who have not read Part 1, please click here.
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Milwaukee Bucks Grade: B
1st Round – Larry Sanders, PF, VCU (#15)
2nd Round – Darington Hobson, SG, New Mexico (#37); Jerome Jordan, C, Tulsa (#44, Sold to New York Knicks); Tiny Gallon, PF, Oklahoma (#47)
Analysis – The Bucks took a risk last season drafting Brandon Jennings and it paid off big. They decided to take a few more risks this season and if they pay off, look for the Bucks to make it past the first round. I think Larry Sanders was a bit of a reach at #15. Long and athletic, Sanders will provide the Bucks with some depth in the frontcourt. He is a good rebounder, especially on the offensive glass, but needs to improve his toughness and consistency.
Hobson is another player who I thought was overrated coming into the draft, but #37 seems about right for him. A less-consistent version of Evan Turner, he can play three positions, but is not consistent enough at any of them to be a regular at the NBA level. Project him to play the 2, possibly back up Jennings a bit as well. He needs to improve his perimeter shot, especially his release time.
Gallon is another risk, but the risk is much-lessened half way through the second round. Almost 300 pounds, Gallon does a great job getting position in the post when he puts in the effort. He has good touch around the rim and is a surprisingly good perimeter shooter. If he puts in a consistent effort, this can be a very good pick up for the Bucks.
Minnesota Timberwolves Grade: C
1st Round – Wesley Johnson, SF, Syracuse (#4); Lazar Hayward, SF, Marquette (#30, from Washington)
2nd Round – Namanja Bjelica, SF, Serbia (#35, from Washington); Paulo Prestes, C, Brazil (#45)
Analysis – I thought the draft started out really well for the TWolves. I sincerely think Johnson is going to be a star in the NBA and he filled a team need. He is a great rebounder, is very athletic and is an underrated shooter. He needs to become more aggressive looking for his shot and using his athletic ability to create on the offensive end. With two more first round picks, I figured they could add some more key pieces to improve the team, but things went horribly wrong.
Hayward is another player I am very high on, but he is not a first round pick. He is a hard worker, did a good job adjusting from being a post player to playing out on the perimeter, and he is a strong finisher at the rim. He is also a solid defender, but is not quick enough to guard NBA small forwards and not strong enough to guard the power forwards.
The second round was filled with international players, neither who is close to being ready for the NBA. Bjelica is another small forward who plays a typical European game. In other words, he is soft, prefers to play on the perimeter at 6’10, though he does have a good, consistent shot. Prestes is the player with more of a shot of being a NBA player, with a solid body and power game, though he is still very raw on the offensive end.
Thrown into the mix was the acquisition of Martell Webster, another small forward, from Portland. While Webster is a good player, his game is very similar to Johnson, and having him on the team can be an impediment to Johnson’s progress. They could have kept the 16th pick and added another big man to help down on the blocks. I’m not sure what David Kahn’s plan is, but from what I have seen the last two years, it doesn’t seem to be a very good plan.
New Jersey Nets Grade: B
1st Round – Derrick Favors, PF, Georgia Tech (#3); Damion James, SF, Texas (#27, from Atlanta)
2nd Round – None
Analysis – New owner, new coach – would the draft bring the players to improve the worst team in the NBA last season? After last-minute chatter that they were considering Wesley Johnson, the Nets ultimately went with Favors, who has as much potential as anyone in the draft. Just 18 years old (he turns 19 in mid-July), Favors is very athletic, is a solid rebounder and will eventually be a solid post presence next to Brook Lopez. He needs to work on becoming a better shooter out to 15 feet and become a more aggressive defender, but he will be ready to contribute immediately.
If the Nets had kept Jordan Crawford at #27 and added another play at #31, I think the grade would have been a bit higher. I like James, I just think Crawford could have added a lot more value to the current Nets team. James will give some depth to the small forward position, possibly replacing the minutes of the departed Chris Douglas-Roberts, though he is a much stronger rebounder and is very strong around the rim.
New Orleans Hornets Grade: A
1st Round – Craig Brackins, PF, Iowa State (#21, from OKC); Quincy Pondexter, SF, Washington (#26, from OKC)
2nd Round – None
Analysis – This is how to trade down and really improve your team. Sending the 11th Pick and Morris Peterson to Oklahoma City, the Hornets netted two young players who will contribute right away. Brackins is very skilled, athletic big man, runs the court very well and knows how to finish strong around the rim. He also adds another shot-blocking presence around the basket, though his footwork on the defensive end needs some work.
Pondexter will be able to help out on both ends of the court. On the offensive end, he can consistently hit from 17 feet, goes strong to the rim and is a good offensive rebounder. Defensively, he is a good on-ball defender and closes on shooters well. He is the type of player who will sacrifice numbers for the team, which is always a good thing.
New York Knicks Grade: B
1st Round – None
2nd Round – Andy Rautins, SG, Syracuse (#38); Landry Fields, SF, Stanford (#39)
Analysis – Rautins is a great fit for the New York offense – a deadly shooter, he also has the ability to be a playmaker, and can spend some time backing up the point. Concerns about his defense are overblown, and while he may not be as quick as the men he will guard, he makes up for it with good court sense and anticipation.
Fields may have been a bit of a reach, but he is a consistent player, has a very good mid-range game and is very fundamentally sound. He will need to improve his long-range game and work on his first step, but he is another player who I think will do well in D’antoni’s system.
Oklahoma City Grade: A
1st Round – Cole Aldrich, C, Kansas (#11, from New Orleans)
2nd Round – Tibor Pleiss, C, Germany (#31, from New Jersey); Latavious Williams, SF, Tulsa 66ers (#48, from Miami); Ryan Ried, PF, Florida State (#57)
Analysis – The key to this draft for the Thunder was to come away with a big man for the middle, and Sam Presti did a lot of maneuvering to get just that. Aldrich was the best true center available. He is a great rebounder, is fantastic on the pick and roll, and is an above average defender and shot-blocker. His offensive skills are good, though he needs to learn to become a better shooter from 10 feet out and don’t even get started about his free throw shooting. This is the kind of pick which will have the Thunder competing in the Western Conference for a long time.
The second round picks are full of projects which OKC has time to develop. Pleiss, a German center, is extremely talented, but very raw. He needs to improve his play with his back to the basket and work on increasing his strength. Williams, who did not have the grades to play in college, went right to the NBDL. Still developing, he spent the season for the Tulsa team, which is owned by the Thunder and acts as a true minor league system. Expect him to still be there next season, and I would be surprised if he ever gets quality minutes at the NBA level. No one is quite sure why Ryan Ried was drafted, and part me like to think that a mistake was made and they were trying to draft Ryan Richards out of the UK, but I don’t see Ried playing here in the US at all.
Orlando Magic Grade: B
1st Round – Daniel Orton, C, Kentucky (#29)
2nd Round – Stanley Robinson, SF, UConn (#59)
Analysis – The key to this draft will be the eventual development of Daniel Orton behind Dwight Howard. Orton showed some decent skills as a backup to DeMarcus Cousins last season, though he still needs to work on both the offensive and defensive ends. If his frame fills out, he can be a very big presence down low. His athleticism is suspect, but I won’t worry about that for another year or 2.
Getting Robinson with the second to last pick in the draft is a steal. Though he is 23 already, he is one of the best athletes in the draft and can help the Magic right away with his rebounding and his ability to get out in transition. He needs to be more aggressive on the offensive end, especially shooting from the perimeter. He defers to his teammates too often, but he is very capable of being a good role player for a contending team.
Philadelphia 76ers Grade: A-
1st Round – Evan Turner, SG, Ohio State (#2)
2nd Round – None
Analysis – Turner was the obvious pick at #2 and is going to pay instant dividends for the Sixers. He will be able to backup the 1, 2 and 3 and get on the floor for 20-25 minutes a game right from the start. Eventually, I see him settling in to the Shooting Guard role, or, depending on Holiday’s development, a Point Forward role. He has good court vision, can find holes in the defense and finish at the rim. His perimeter shooting can be a little more consistent, but he is still good. Defensively, he can guard both the 2 and the 3, and uses his long arms well to disrupt passing lanes. I think Turner can easily be a 20-6-6 guy within 2 years in the league, and will be a key piece in the Sixers rebuilding.
Phoenix Suns Grade: C+
1st Round – None
2nd Round – Gani Lawal, PF, Georgia Tech (#46); Dwayne Collins, SF, Miami (#60)
Analysis – The Suns did the best with what they had in this draft. Lawal will add some toughness to the bench, especially with Stoudamire most likely departing. He finds ways to score in the lane and has become more efficient when he gets the ball within 10 feet. He is a solid rebounder, boxes out well and keeps the ball high. Defensively, he does a good job moving players off the blocks and has the ability to block some shots.
Dwayne Collins is another big body, but I don’t see him having a shot at making the team.
Portland Trail Blazers Grade: A
1st Round – Luke Babbitt, SF, Nevada (#16, from Minnesota); Elliot Williams, SG, Memphis (#22)
2nd Round – Armon Johnson, PG, Nevada (#34)
Analysis – Based on the picks, this is probably a B+ draft, but to pull this off hours after you have been forced out as GM is nothing short of amazing, and Kevin Pritchard deserves a lot of credit here. He worked out a deal with Minnesota to land Luke Babbitt, a scorer/rebounder who can hit consistently from the perimeter. He’s a bit slow on the defensive end, but he provides a good rebounding/shot-disrupting presence with his length.
I am a fan of the Elliot Williams pick and assuming that his injury is nothing serious, can provide major minutes at the 2 guard position, and can play the point if needed. He is strong going to the basket, sees the court well and has improved his perimeter shooting. He needs to become more consistent from long-range. Defensively, he is much better at guarding shooting guards rather than point guards, but he can do either if necessary.
Getting Babbitt’s teammate Johnson early in the 2nd round was a good pickup, providing some depth at the point position, and he will probably be their best point-scoring point guard.
Sacramento Kings Grade: A-
1st Round – DeMarcus Cousins, C, Kentucky (#5)
2nd Round – Hassan Whiteside, C, Marshall (#33)
Analysis – Not only did the Kings opt for big in this draft, they went really big. At this point, everyone knows the risks associated with Cousins, but there is no denying the impact he can have on the game if he decides to give it his all out there. He has the natural ability to be one of the top centers in the league within a year.
While another big was not needed after drafting Cousins, it was a smart move taking Whiteside who was still available at #33. This could be a great situation for Whiteside as he will only be asked to do what he is good at right away – be a defensive menace in the middle. This will allow the Kings to take time to develop his offensive skills, which need some serious work.
San Antonio Spurs Grade: B+
1st Round – James Anderson, SG, Oklahoma State (#20)
2nd Round – Ryan Richards, PF, United Kingdom (#49)
Analysis – San Antonio GM RC Buford did it again, stealing a great talent drafting in the 20’s. Anderson was one of the best shooters and complete scorers in the draft. He will give them great size at the shooting guard position and should help stretch the floor for Tim Duncan.
Richards was encouraged to return to Europe before the draft, but he has stuck it out and look for the Spurs to nurture him the NBDL for a few seasons to prepare him for the battles of the NBA. He is a decent shooter, but like the other international players, will be pushed around until he gets stronger.
Toronto Raptors Grade: B
1st Round – Ed Davis, Power Forward, North Carolina (#13)
2nd Round – Solomon Alabi, Center, Florida St. (#50, from Dallas)
Analysis – This is another draft that could look much better or much worse in a few seasons depending on how the players progress. Davis was considered one of the Top 2 or 3 players in the Draft going into the season, but a subpar effort and injuries cost him his elite ranking. Davis will be able to contribute immediately on the defensive end as rebounder and shot-blocker, but if he is to become Chris Bosh’s replacement, he will need to become a much better offensive player. His biggest issue on the offensive end is that he rarely goes strong to the basket, preferring to fade away or shoot the ball at awkward angles to avoid contact.
Alabi supposedly dropped this far due to health issue, but team officials have been assured that there is nothing to worry about. If this true, Alabi could be a steal at 50 – another defensive presence for a team that desperately needs it.
Utah Jazz Grade: B
1st Round – Gordon Hayward, SF, Butler (#9)
2nd Round – Jeremy Evans, PF, Western Kentucky (#55)
Analysis – Hayward can be a solid pick for the Jazz as his game is already tailored for their offensive system. He is 6’9, but is a playmaker, loves going to the basket and is a much better shooter than his numbers showed. He will need to adjust a bit to the speed of the NBA game, especially on defense, but he should be able to make an impact immediately in the Jazz lineup.
Evans is a painfully thin power forward, who will need to improve his ball-handling skills to work out on the perimeter if he is going to have any hope of playing in the NBA.
Washington Wizards Grade: A
1st Round – John Wall, PG, Kentucky (#1); Kevin Seraphin (#17, from Chicago); Trevor Booker, SF, Clemson (#23, from Minnesota)
2nd Round – Hamady Ndiaye, C, Rutgers (#56, from Minnesota)
Analysis – If all they had chosen was John Wall, this would still be rated an “A” draft. But they did much more than that, assuring that the climb back to respectability will be easier than expected. Wall was the prize of this draft, and his impact will be much greater than what he does on the court. Wall will be the face of the franchise and the buzz around him will generate into ticket sales. Expect the tempo to pick up with Wall running the show as he is not as effective in a half court offense, but the team has the players to do this.
Booker is another key pickup in this draft. Booker will do the dirty work for the team – rebounding, playing tough defense and setting up his teammates. He is also a skilled scorer in his own right, but his true value is how he makes his teammates better.
For those who read Part 1, you know my feelings on Seraphin. For those who didn’t – I don’t like him and don’t think he will ever be talented enough to contribute at the NBA level.
I do like the N’diaye pick as another defensive presence for the Wizards. While he is still raw offensively, he has improved significantly over the last 4 years and there is no saying that he has finished getting better. But the Big East Defensive Player of the year can come in right away and be a force blocking shots for a Wizards team that looks like it is building a solid defensive presence.
Well that concludes the NBA Draft Review and I will now officially be starting work on the 2011 Draft. Hope you all stick around for it.