Ball Don't Lie - NBA



Just as it is with the NBA offseason, you can't help but go glass half-full with the NBA draft.

Why? Because every player's potential is on full blast right now. Nobody's showing up to camp out of shape. Nobody's breaking plays. Nobody's disappointing anyone.

So if there's a cheery bottom line to a few of these draft grades, you'll have to forgive me. What a lovely day.

Click the jump for the grades.

Atlanta Hawks: Jordan Crawford(notes), Pape Sy(notes)

Crawford can play, he had quite a few NCAA-backers asking for teams to take him higher than 27th, where the Hawks landed him. Grabbing him with a lower-rung guaranteed deal will be a pretty worthwhile move for an Atlanta team that is hurting, depth-wise. Sy is someone to stash, a major project, but isn't that the point of the second round?

Grade: B

Boston Celtics: Avery Bradley(notes), Luke Harangody(notes)

Talk about drafting for need, the Celtics turned an afterthought draft (Doc Rivers is a week-and-a-half removed from admitting he didn't know when his team would be drafting in the first round -- and we don't blame him for that) into an actual depth-provider by finding a legitimate minutes-sopper in Bradley (a standout defender to back up Rajon Rondo(notes)) and potential frontcourt rebound-helper in Harangody.

Grade: A

Charlotte Bobcats: No selections

Usually I'm pretty low on middling draft projects who automatically earn guaranteed deals, but trading your pick two years in advance for the chance to draft Alexis Ajinca(notes)? Fail.

Grade: F

Chicago Bulls: Kevin Seraphin(notes)

Seraphin's a project, a Nene-type who appears to have been scouted only by the Wizards. The Bulls took this player for the Wizards, by the way, because they appear to have a trade in place that can be consummated on July 8 that will send Kirk Hinrich(notes) and Seraphin to Washington (along with $3 million in cash) for a conditional second-round pick. Brian Windhorst, because it's 2010, Tweeted it best:

This is modern NBA: Bulls literally give away one of best players, 1st rounder & $3 million for nothing in return. And they're cheered.

Rightfully so. Chicago now has nearly $30 million in cap room to work with this summer. And props to Brian for the use of an ampersand.

Grade: A

Cleveland Cavaliers: No picks

I'm not that high on Antawn Jamison(notes), and I fully understand what sort of millstone the scoring big forward with the bigger contract can become. But this is a win-now league, and when you have a chance to turn an expiring deal and the 30th pick into a helper like Antawn, you move on it. Nobody knew in February that LeBron James(notes) would mope through the second round. So I won't be killing Danny Ferry here.

Grade: B

Dallas Mavericks: Dominque Jones

Jones seems like a weird fit because doesn't Rodrique Beaubois already provide the same services? And that's assuming Jones' best-case scenario comes through. Even if he is a bit superfluous, Dallas can use all the depth it can get at this point, so cheers to the Mavericks for paying the cash to pull in a possible rotation contributor.

Grade: C

Denver Nuggets: No picks

The upside? Denver would have had the 23rd pick, but it decided to send it to Minnesota last season for Ty Lawson(notes), who may have been a top-five rookie last year. The downside? Denver is desperate for some frontcourt depth, and it spent all night (when Mark Warkentien wasn't tying up the line faxing out resumes) working the phones to try and buy a pick to use on a big man. So the Nuggets did what they had to do, and didn't do what they were supposed to. All at once. And somehow, we'll give them a ...

Grade: B

Detroit Pistons: Greg Monroe(notes), Terrico White(notes)

I'm not going to destroy the Pistons because they fell a pick short, because those lottery balls left them at seventh in what may have been a four-man draft (when the Timberwolves and Warriors are in the top five, the sixth pick in a four-man draft is a good thing to have). Monroe is a clear step down from DeMarcus Cousins(notes), at least on paper, and the Pistons are still trying to convince Sacramento to send Cousins to Michigan. Monroe can play, though, and White's upside is huge. Not what they wanted, but a good night out considering the pick placement.

Grade: B+

Golden State Warriors: Ekpe Udoh(notes)

Ekpe is 23 years old and he didn't average 25 a game last season in the NCAAs. If you're 23, you should be dominating in some aspect among the 20-year-olds, and he wasn't. Apologies for making it that simple and flip, but this seems like the Warriors just grabbed the first guy who didn't come into an individual workout looking for the broom closet because someone told him that's where he'd find a half-soused Don Nelson at 2 p.m., midway through his second bag of Funyuns.

Grade: F

Houston Rockets: Patrick Patterson(notes)

Houston may as well sign this guy to his second deal already, because he's perfect for this team. Any team, really. Patterson will score in the interior, rebound well and generally do things right. He'll never be an All-Star, but what do you expect from the middle of the first round.

Who do I expect? Honestly? Usually crummier players than Patterson, really. Great pick.

Grade: A

Indiana Pacers: Paul George(notes), Lance Stephenson(notes), Magnum Rolle(notes)

Here's my issue with the Tracy McGrady(notes) comparisons for George. Paul is 20 right now, and at that age T-Mac was averaging more than 15 points and six rebounds for a Raptors team that made the playoffs -- with two blocks per game. This was the year before McGrady averaged 27 a game for Orlando. Paul averaged 17 and seven for Fresno State last season, and while his shooting numbers look smoother than a waxed yacht deck, you have to wonder about his motor and his placement on a Pacers team already featuring Danny Granger(notes).

To get Stephenson and Rolle in the second round? And the cojones to go after George in spite of Granger's permanence? I dig it. It might not work out, but I appreciate the moves.

Grade: A

Los Angeles Clippers: Al-Farouq Aminu(notes), Eric Bledsoe(notes), Willie Warren(notes)

I suppose taking Aminu toward the end of the lottery is smart enough, as the Clippers hardly need more offensive mouths to feed. Bledsoe was great value for a straight cash grab and Warren has upside that he apparently doesn't seem all that enthused about cashing in on. So go, Clippers, go.

Grade: B+

Los Angeles Lakers: Devin Ebanks(notes), Derrick Caracter(notes)

I've fallen for this trap before, getting enthused about guys taken in the second round who I've actually heard of, and then Pete Mickael goes and flames out. But Caracter has a legitimate post game, and Ebanks can help defend at the end of the bench. Considering you just won a championship and had two second-rounders to work with? Yeah, I know I've been mostly A's so far, but...

Grade: A

Memphis Grizzlies: Xavier Henry(notes), Greivis Vasquez(notes)

Henry looks smallish and shooting guard-ish, and the Grizz already have one of those. Vasquez, I'm sorry, looks about as slow as they come. And both get guaranteed deals?

Grade: D

Miami Heat: Dexter Pittman(notes), Jarvis Varnado(notes), Da'Sean Butler(notes)

The Heat wanted no guaranteed deals, and a whole heap of second-rounders to replace the veteran cap holds. Sound work, my friends. Sound work. OK players, bigger summertime impact than you may have guessed.

Grade: B

Milwaukee Bucks: Larry Sanders(notes), Darington Hobson(notes), Jerome Jordan(notes), Keith Gallon

Sanders feels like a stretch as a middling first-rounder, but the Bucks need someone who can jump in the worst way, and they'll (likely) be without Kurt Thomas(notes) next season and (definitely) without Dan Gadzuric(notes). Tiny Gallon(notes) also feels like the sort of guy who wins a starting spot in the first month of his NBA career and then isn't heard from again.

Grade: B

Minnesota Timberwolves: Wesley Johnson(notes), Lazar Hayward(notes), Nemanja Bjelica(notes), Paulo Prestes(notes)

Listen, I even like Martell Webster(notes). Think highly of him. But to cash in Ryan Gomes'(notes) desirable contract and the 16th pick on Webster? Johnson might be terrible, and a guaranteed contract for Lazar Hayward? What an awful night.

Grade: F

New Jersey Nets: Derrick Favors(notes), Damion James(notes)

James can play perhaps more than Favors can at this point. The Nets went with the project who says "please" and "thank you" instead of following through on a trade or going after DeMarcus Cousins, and only time will tell if he'll pan out. I know that's shoddy analysis, but not even Favors himself knows how he'll respond to NBA banging.

Grade: B

New Orleans Hornets: Craig Brackins(notes), Quincy Pondexter(notes)

So, the Hornets not only saved themselves a heap of money by trading Morris Peterson(notes) and heading under the luxury-tax threshold, they added two first-round prospects in the process. I know next-to-nothing about Brackins and Pondexter, but given Jeff Bower's draft history and the sting of Peterson's contract, I'm inclined to call this one of the best nights of the bunch.

Grade: A

New York Knicks: Andy Rautins(notes), Landry Fields(notes)

If they feel like a punchline, it's because they probably are. You might get LeBron in a month, New York, and your team is definitely moving in the right direction. But these two? Come on.

Grade: F

Oklahoma City Thunder: Cole Aldrich(notes), Tibor Pleiss(notes), Latavious Williams(notes), Ryan Reid(notes)

Nice to see the Thunder cashing in on their assets for Aldrich, who appears ready to contribute if he can keep his fouls to under 7.9 per 36 minutes. The team grabbed a future first-rounder from the Clippers, which could either be brilliant or terrible (actually guessing the latter), and Tibor Pleiss appears ready to give B.J. Mullens a walk for his money. Reid's a strange pick, but defense will always win out, and Williams was fantastic in the D-League last year.

Grade: A

Orlando Magic: Daniel Orton(notes), Stanley Robinson(notes)

Orton could be a contributor at some point, but it probably won't be with Orlando, as the Magic need to find whatever magic the Celtics worked with Kendrick Perkins(notes) back in 2004-05 (Perk's second year) to get him on the right track. Robinson is a project as well.

Grade: B

Philadelphia 76ers: Evan Turner(notes)

I can gripe about his less-than-stellar athleticism and his similarity to Andre Iguodala(notes) for the rest of your Friday, but the bottom line stays the same. Philadelphia just drafted Evan Turner. That's a good thing. Could be a great thing.

Grade: A

Phoenix Suns: Gani Lawal(notes), Dwayne Collins(notes)

None of these men will factor into your lives much.

Grade: C

Portland Trail Blazers: Luke Babbitt(notes), Elliot Williams(notes), Armon Johnson(notes)

Kevin Pritchard might be annoying as hell, but goodness gracious sakes alive this man can draft. And whether you like Babbitt or not hardly matters, because Pritchard just saved his former team a chunk of change by trading Martell Webster for Ryan Gomes, and Williams is good value for the 22nd pick.

Grade: B

Sacramento Kings: DeMarcus Cousins, Hassan Whiteside(notes)

It's the biggest "if" in the draft, and because we're four months away from playing anything, we're allowed to go glass half-full with this. If Cousins gets his act together, he'll fight former teammate John Wall(notes) to be the best player coming out of this draft. And if he doesn't? Fifth pick, no big deal. Eighty percent of a great player's potential at the fifth slot, still works. And Whiteside in the second round? He could waft his way out of the league, but who cares? Second-round pick, my man. No risk.

Grade: A

San Antonio Spurs: James Anderson(notes), Ryan Richards(notes)

The Spurs, seriously, may have just drafted themselves another starter. At 20. Jerks.

And Richards could pan out. Which, in Anglo vernacular, means he "could pull the drainpipe through the tire mason's stovetop outside the vicar's garden." Fantastic value for the 20th and 49th picks.

Grade: A

Toronto Raptors: Ed Davis(notes), Solomon Alabi(notes)

I can't get past the fact that Terry Davis, who I think I'm just a few years removed from discussing his role in a potential deal involving Ike Austin, now has a kid in the NBA. A man, I mean, in the NBA. Davis looks like a good interior minutes-sopper, a fine selection for 13th overall, and Alabi will be a factor in this league.

Grade: A

Utah Jazz: Gordon Hayward(notes), Jeremy Evans(notes)

Hayward, at this point, is a scorer and not a shooter, and scorers need the ball and space. He won't get that in Utah, and while I'm hating myself for comparing him to another white dude, this could be an Austin Croshere(notes) situation. If Hayward is given chances, he could pull it off. If he's an afterthought in the offense, he could turn out like Croshere, who could have been better had he'd been given shots.

Grade: C

Washington Wizards: John Wall, Trevor Booker(notes), Hamady N'diaye

Wall is a future All-Star, someone to build a team around. Booker comes with rave reviews, and people whose opinions I value a great deal speak very highly of N'diaye. Washington will also likely take in Kevin Seraphin after a deal with Chicago is completed. A great night out for a team that had a pretty lame afternoon, and pretty awful first 50 years in this league.

Grade: A

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