Wednesday, July 1, 2009

NBA Draft grades: Western Conference

Dallas Mavericks: 1st round: Rodrigue Beaubois-PG, 2nd round: Nick Calathes-PG, 2nd round: Ahmad Nivins-PF

I'm not a big fan of this draft. There is some future potential there, but for a play-off caliber team they should have looked for a more immediate return. Beaubois is an extremely raw player. Players like Douglas, or Blair would have been a better fit in round one. I like Calathes as a good value for a 2nd round pick, but the Mavs won't see him for a year or two. Nivins is another guy with upside. He should offer solid depth for the front court.

Grade: C+

Denver Nuggets: 1st round: Ty Lawson-PG (traded a future first round pick for Lawson)

The Nuggets didn't have any picks of their own, but still managed to have a solid draft. While the Nuggets had to give up a future first rounder, I think they got their money's worth in Lawson. Lawson is a great value pick in the middle of the first round. He should add some youth and energy to the Nuggets back court.

Grade: A-

Golden State Warriors: 1st round: Stephen Curry-PG

The Warriors got a great player with the 7th pick in the draft. Curry should be an elite scorer, from either the 1 or the 2 position. He will team up with Monta Ellis to form an elite offensive back court. There are some rumors that Curry may be part of a trade, but for the Warriors sake I hope they keep him. I think Curry will have a bright future with the Warriors if they keep him.

Grade: A- (if they don't trade him)

Houston Rockets: 2nd round: Jermaine Taylor-PG (traded from the Wizards), 2nd round: Sergio Llull-PG (traded from the Nuggets, 2nd round: Chase Budinger-G/F (traded from the Pistons)

The Rockets literally bought their draft class. Using cash considerations and a future 2nd round pick to get three players. Llull is a solid future player with some upside. Taylor and Budinger both have good chances of making the club in reserve roles. Overall there probably won't be much production from this draft class, but it should benefit the Rockets cap situation for the next couple of years.

Grade: B-

Los Angeles Clippers: 1st round: Blake Griffin-PF

The Clippers have had a grade 'A+' since the lottery results were announced back in May. Griffin was easily the consensus number 1 player in this draft class. He should immediately help the Clippers front court. Overall I think Griffin will be a star in this league. Maybe he won't be a savior like Tim Duncan, but I think he will be a solid piece for the Clippers to build around.

Grade: A+

Los Angeles Lakers: 2nd round: Chinemelu Elonu-PF

The Lakers traded away/ sold their top two picks, with the idea that no rookie would get playing time for the Champs. The problem with that idea is, what happens if the Lakers can't resign/replace Lamar Odom or Trevor Ariza. What happens if the team has a major injury or two? The Lakers could have had cheap cost controlled depth, but instead took the extra cash from the trades. While the Lakers have some youth already it wouldn't have been a bad idea to add another young guy for the future.

Grade: D

Memphis Grizzlies: 1st round: Hasheem Thabeet-C, 1st round: DeMarre Carroll-PF, 2nd round: Sam Young-F

Thabeet wasn't the 2nd best player in the draft, but he's the best center. He should give the Grizzlies a defensive upgrade and a man in the middle to pair with Gasol. Carroll was a very good late round pick. He's athletic and brings toughness to the floor. Sam Young is one of my favorite players in this draft, and could end up being the best player from this group. He will push Rudy Gay for playing time, and give Memphis a tough, athletic forward off the bench. These three players, give the Grizzlies one of the most talented front court's in the NBA. The Grizzlies put together an impressive draft night. In addition to these three players, they traded Darko Milicic for SG Quentin Richardson.

Grade: A+

Minnesota Timberwolves: 1st round: Ricky Rubio-PG, 1st round: Jonny Flynn-PG, 1st round: Wayne Ellington-SG, 2nd round: Henk Norel-PF

This was a strange draft for the T-wolves. The player they wanted to trade up for fell to their newly acquired 5th pick. Then a problem arose for Minnesota, with Harden, Thabeet and Evans off the board, point guards were the best players available. Leaving the T-wolves to have to take PG's back to back. While that's a problem to begin with, Minnesota compounded it by taking two true point guards. Had they grabbed Stephen Curry or Jrue Holiday, they could have played them at the 2 guard. Instead they took Flynn, who while a great guard, doesn't make much sense to play alongside Rubio. Minnesota didn't seem to have a grand strategy with their 4 first round picks.

Grade: C-

New Orleans Hornets: 1st round: Darren Collison-PG, 2nd round: Marcus Thorton-SG

I'm not sure what the Hornets were thinking in round one. Collison is a nice player and I think he'll be a good NBA player. But he is a horrible pick for the Hornets. New Orleans has the best young point guard in the league in Chris Paul. Collison doesn't seem to have a role on this team. He isn't a good fit to play alongside Paul, and won't likely play more than 10 minutes a game.

Grade: C-

O.K. City Thunder: 1st round: James Harden-SG, 1st round: B.J. Mullens-C, 2nd round: Robert Vaden-SG

The Thunder got a lot of talent and potential with their two first round picks. Harden is the perfect scoring option to go along with Russell Westbrook in the back court. Mullens has a ton of upside, but he is still very raw. If Mullens lives up to his full potential the Thunder will have the last piece to their roster.

Grade: B+

Phoenix Suns: 1st round: Earl Clark-G/F, 2nd round: Taylor Griffin

The Suns added a great player with a lot of upside in Clark. He can do anything on the basketball court, and fits the Sun's style of play perfectly. The Suns got solid value in the 2nd round as well. Griffin isn't the all-star talent of his brother, but he should be a solid bench player for the Suns.

Grade: A-

Portland Trail Blazers: 1st round: Victor Claver-SF, 2nd round: Jeff Pendergraph-F, Dante Cunningham-F, Patty Mills-PG

This was a depth draft for the Trail Blazers and nothing more. Claver has upside, but he probably won't be helping Portland any time soon. None of their 2nd rounders figure to be more than role players in the future. Portland passed up a number of players in the 1st round, who could have helped their play-off run next season.

Grade: C+

Sacramento Kings: 1st round: Tyreke Evans-G, Omri Casspi-SF, 2nd round: Jon Brockman-PF/C

The Kings passed up PG's Rubio, Flynn and Curry, and went with the upside of Evans. He is missed cast as a true PG but will help the Kings back court. Casspi is an intriguing international option, he could be a starter within two years. Brockman is a good depth player and could be a solid back-up for them.

Grade: B

San Antonio Spurs: 2nd round: DeJuan Blair-PF, Jack McClinton-G, Nando De Colo-PG

The Spurs got away with highway robbery when they got Blair in the 2nd round. Blair will give the Spurs a top-15 talent, and one of the best big men in the draft. McClinton has some upside as well and could be a valuable guy off the bench.

Grade: A+

Utah Jazz: 1st round: Eric Maynor-PG, 2nd round: Goran Suton-C

Maynor is an extremely underrated PG. He is fairly refined and should make for a good compliment to Williams. While the Jazz could have used some more help in the front court, Maynor made sense for the Jazz. Suton has a little upside and could play in Europe for a year or two. He may never be much of a player, but I could see him coming back and being a decent back-up.

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