July 4, 2007

An S/U Draft

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Well the draft is finally over, which means you won’t hear the name Brandon Wright again until Francis Ford Coppola makes another movie. We have reached that time of year when all the draft pundits around the world grade each team’s performance in the draft. Of course, this is a silly proposition; right now, who would know whether taking Gilbert Arenas in the second round would be a good move or that taking Kwame Brown first overall would be a bad move? It is probably makes more sense to grade the drafts from five years ago. But in our society today, everyone wants instant analysis. And you know what? I like reading draft grades, so I am going to do my own – with one twist. Instead of grading on an A-to-F scale like everyone else, I will be grading Pass/Fail, or the Cornell version – S/U. So basically, pretend that every GM is taking Introduction to Wines (or in Danny Ainge’s case, he probably was drinking wine when he traded for Ray Allen).

Atlanta – Wow, the Hawks actually picked a point guard in the first round after passing on one in the past several drafts. Acie Law IV does not have as much upside as Mike Conley, Jr., but at least they addressed a big need. Grade: S
Boston – I panned the Ray Allen trade when it happened, and on further reflection I still think it is terrible. I really like Ray Allen, and it is not his fault he was traded in a bad deal, just like it wasn’t his fault when Spike Lee decided to score Allen’s movie He Got Game using Aaron Copeland music. Grade: U
Charlotte – I might be the only person on the planet who liked the Jason Richardson trade. I think Richardson is a solid player and will fit in nicely with the nucleus of players that the Bobcats have. Grade: S
Chicago – They drafted a guy who wore seersucker to the draft. Enough said. Grade: S
Cleveland – The Cavaliers did not have a pick in the draft, because they traded away their first-round pick in the Jiri Welsch deal. They probably would have gotten more value by trading for a DVD copy of Herbie: Fully Loaded. Grade: U
Dallas – I am not quite sure how Nick Fazekas fits in with the Mavericks’ uptempo offense. He might become trade bait in the future, but he also might have to look for work at Mark Cuban’s Dairy Queen. Grade: U
Denver – The Nuggets had no picks because they traded away their first-rounder in the Allen Iverson deal. Grade: U
Detroit – The Pistons have a bit of trouble scoring, so they picked up one of the top scorers in the draft in Rodney Stuckey. Joe Dumars is one of the few former great players who make great GMs. Grade: S
Golden State – It seems like everyone is making Warriors GM Chris Mullin into John Nash for the Wright-Richardson deal. I have made clear my problems with Wright, but they did a good job clearing money for signing somebody down the road. Grade: S
Houston – The Rockets picked up Aaron Brooks (the one who never played for the Raiders). He is a nice pickup, and they got good value at pick No. 26. Grade: S
Indiana – The Pacers had no picks, but they acquired a second-rounder to pick Stanko Barac. Indiana doesn’t like Jamaal Tinsley, so I think it should have taken Taurean Green instead of a guy who is going to stay in Bosnia for several years. Grade: U
Los Angeles Clippers – The Clippers really needed a point guard, but the best available at pick No. 14 was Javaris Crittenton, who was going to be a project. Instead, they took the best available player, Al Thornton, which was the right move. Grade: S
Los Angeles Lakers – Kobe Bryant wants to win a championship now. The Lakers drafted a point guard, Jordan Farmar, last year. So what does Los Angeles do this year? It takes a point guard who won’t be good for several years. If GM Mitch Kupchak finds a horse head in his bed, I’ll know who’s responsible. Grade: U
Memphis – In the NBA right now, you need a really good point guard. Mike Conley, Jr. is going to be that really good point guard. Grade: S
Miami – Daequan Cook might possibly be a good player one day, but the Heat are built to win right now. They needed to draft a more NBA-ready player that doesn’t play the same position as Dwayne Wade. Grade: U
Milwaukee – Yi Jianlian doesn’t want to play in Milwaukee and China does not want to market him in a place with so few Asian-Americans. It seems like Yi has as good of a chance to play for the Bucks as the fictional Billy Walsh has of winning the Palm D’Or in Entourage. Grade: U
Minnesota – The Timberwolves needed to trade Kevin Garnett for at least a top-10 pick in this draft. They got Corey Brewer as a consolation prize, but Garnett needed to be gone, before Garnett turns into Liza Minelli and Minnesota turns into David Gest. Grade: U
New Jersey – With Nick Young and Rodney Stuckey gone, the Nets needed to take a big man. They got one, albeit one who really likes to smoke marijuana, so much that he got kicked off his team at Boston College. Nets GM Rod Thorn better buy some extra Doritos for the locker room. Grade: S
New Orleans – The Hornets need a shooting guard, so taking Nick Young would have made more sense than selecting Julian Wright. Nevertheless, Wright is a great prospect and is great value at No. 13. Grade: S
New York – The fact that the Knicks traded for another poor-character guy might have been the most questionable move made by a New York team this summer until Alex Rodriguez’s wife woke up the other day and decided to wear a shirt with the F-bomb on it to a Yankees game. Grade: U
Orlando – The Magic only had a second rounder and took a project from Serbia with the same agent as its free agent Darko Milicic. We obviously are a little bit closer to the day when agents rule the world. Grade: U
Philadelphia – The 76ers had a great draft. Taking Derrick Byars in the second round could have been the steal of the draft. Plus, despite my disdain for him, Jason Smith is good value late in the first. Thaddeus Young might be a star someday and fits into their rebuilding plans. Grade: S
Phoenix – The Suns sell draft picks like J.K. Rowling sells books. Frankly, I don’t understand why Phoenix seems to sell its top pick every year. Maybe the team ownership wants some extra cash to buy iPhones for all the team’s employees. Grade: U
Portland – The Trail Blazers got Greg Oden, and then added Rudy Fernandez, Petteri Koponen, Josh McRoberts, Taurean Green, Channing Frye and probably Jimmy Chitwood from Hoosiers. Even though they also received Steve Francis’s massive contract and bloated ego, that’s what you call a good draft. Grade: S
Sacramento – The Kings could be the worst team in basketball next year, so they went out and draft a guy in Spencer Hawes who many think will be a bust. I’m not sure if this was a terrible draft strategy, or a genius one if Sacramento really wants to get the first pick in next year’s draft and select incoming Memphis freshman Derrick Rose. Grade: U
San Antonio – It saddens me to think how good of a job the Spurs do at drafting players. Picking up Tiago Splitter that late in the first round is genius. Grade: S
Seattle – By picking up Kevin Durant and Jeff Green, the Sonics might get as many rings as … Sonic the Hedgehog (I have been waiting to use that one since I was like seven years old). Grade: S
Toronto – The Raptors had one second-rounder and drafted a European who won’t be available for a few years. This is nice in theory, but Toronto is on the verge of being really good and could have used a blue-chip prospect who could help right now. Grade: U
Utah – The Jazz made me look like a genius by picking Morris Almond, just like I said they would. I guess that makes up for me predicting that Sean Williams wouldn’t even go in the first round. Grade: S
Washington – I think Nick Young is going to be a great player one day. If Gilbert Arenas decides to move on, Young will keep the franchise in good hands. Grade: S

It really saddens me that the draft is over, but the draft lives on as the Yi Jianlian to Milwaukee saga continues. Next week I’ll look at the top prospects in next year’s draft.