Ball Don't Lie - NBA


Not a lot of dynamic range in these rankings. On a scale of 1-to-10, most of these teams ended up closer to 10 than 1. Or "4," even.

Why is that? Well, considering the talent level in Thursday's NBA Draft, most GMs did quite well. Did every one of them pass on DeJuan Blair(notes), until the Pitt forward went 37th overall to the San Antonio Spurs? Yes. And that's why we won't fawn.

But we're also not going to criticize too much. There will be plenty of time for that once hindsight becomes 20/20. For now, though, here are the scores ...

Atlanta Hawks — Jeff Teague(notes), Sergiy Gladyr

Atlanta has a type, they can't deny it. They love point guards who shoot first, and Jeff Teague fits the profile. Can you really slam a team for being in love?

Score: 7

Boston Celtics — Lester Hudson(notes)

Taking a big NCAA scorer with one of the last picks in the Draft hasn't worked out ... ever. But for the pittance of a second round pick, non-guaranteed money, and a camp invite, the C's could have done a lot worse.

Score: 7

Charlotte Bobcats — Gerald Henderson(notes), Derrick Brown(notes)

Despite all the hype and his Duke pedigree, Henderson still feels like a reach. The Bobcats think they found a starter at the wing, but the guy just reeks of 10th-man. So does Brown, but he wasn't the one taken in the lottery, was he?

Score: 7

Chicago Bulls — James Johnson(notes), Taj Gibson(notes)

Are these really two players that you want to hand guaranteed contracts to for the next two or three years? Johnson is athletic, no doubt, but at what point do we start to expect actual, you know, "production" out of athleticism when you're 22? Gibson? You don't draft 24-year olds. You don't do it. Unless they're 24 and absolutely dominating college ball, and he wasn't. And you hadn't heard of Gibson, either. Both players might make the rotation, sure, but with Blair still available?

Score: 4

Cleveland Cavaliers — Christian Eyenga(notes), Danny Green(notes), Emir Predzlic

Green can play, but why send guaranteed money Eyenga's way? If he's worth hanging onto, why not trade out of the first round to pick him? Strange move.

Score: 6

Dallas Mavericks — Rodrigue Beaubois(notes), Nick Calathes(notes), Ahmad Nivins(notes)

Again, guaranteed money for Beaubois? He might turn out to be a fine player, that isn't the question. It's the idea of being forced to pay the man guaranteed money under terms atypical for players named "Rodrigue Beaubois." We hear good things about Calathes and Nivins, two proper second round attempts.

Score: 7

Denver Nuggets — Ty Lawson(notes)

Lawson will be fantastic with the Nuggets. He's hardly lanky, but that hasn't stopped him from putting up great numbers and winning big games in a nasty, nasty conference. Great value for an 18th pick.

Score: 10

Detroit Pistons — Austin Daye(notes), DaJuan Summers(notes), Jonas Jerebko(notes)

Fine moves from Joe Dumars, grabbing a litany of forwards that boast a high ceiling. There might be a chance that all three mope their way out of the NBA, or the triptych could became huge rotation parts. Either way, for the price of a first round pick (second round cash isn't guaranteed), this trio is worth a chance.

Score: 9

Golden State Warriors - Stephen Curry(notes)

Curry may or may not (rumors lean toward the latter, at this point) be on his way to Phoenix in a deal that would net the Warriors Amar'e Stoudemire(notes). Doesn't matter. Doesn't matter that Monta Ellis(notes) might be unhappy with Golden State selecting a player with a frame similar to his. If Monta Ellis has enough sway in your organization to call shots, then your organization is shot. Curry can play. Figure the rest out later.

Score: 9

Houston Rockets — Jermaine Taylor(notes), Sergio Llull(notes), Chase Budinger(notes)

All second rounders, guys you don't have to throw guaranteed money at, but three guys you spent a bit of dough on just to secure the rights to. Call it a bias, but we're inclined to believe in what Daryl Morey is doing scouting-wise at this point.

Score: 8

Indiana Pacers — Tyler Hansbrough(notes), A.J. Price(notes)

We can joke about Hansbrough's pigmentation until we're white in the face, and make white of Larry Bird's seeming predilection toward players of a certain tone. What we can't joke about is his game. He can play, ably using up minutes, and he's a solid pickup for a low-lottery selection.

Score: 7

Los Angeles Clippers — Blake Griffin(notes)

Listen, Griffin has some holes. He'll be beat defensively. He isn't the sturdiest in the low post, as he tends to fall to his left or right when he should be jumping straight up for jump hooks. The same glitch hurts his jump shot. He isn't 7-feet tall, either. And that's about it. The guy is a stud.

Score: 10

Los Angeles Lakers — Chinemelu Elonu(notes)

Teams talk themselves into all sorts of nutty things during the Draft. They talk themselves into thinking that a 29th pick could provide insurance for a 10-year starter. The talk? It's nonsense. The Lakers grabbed $3 million bucks to dive out of the first round, something a series of teams should have tried on Thursday night.

Score: 9

Memphis Grizzlies — Hasheem Thabeet(notes), DeMarre Carroll(notes), Sam Young(notes)

Young will help right away, and that's about it. Carroll can play, and Thabeet will become a hell of a player. It's become obvious that the Grizzlies don't know what they have in Marc Gasol(notes), but we'll save that criticism for another column. For now, a solid trio of players, well worth their picks.

Score: 10

Miami Heat — Patrick Beverley(notes), Robert Dozier(notes)

On the surface, you'd have to think that neither of these guys would play for the Heat, and their selections wouldn't even be worth discussing. But considering the way Pat Riley has put together teams since coming to Miami in 1995 (high class payroll guys and minimum contracts, no middle class), Beverley might see some minutes. And apparently he's worth some minutes.

Score: 8

Milwaukee Bucks — Brandon Jennings(notes), Jodie Meeks(notes)

Jennings has massive holes in his game, fundamental issues with his shooting, handle, and approach. Meeks won't set the world on fire. But for the 10th and 41st picks? Huge potential.

Score: 9

Minnesota Timberwolves — Ricky Rubio(notes), Jonny Flynn(notes), Wayne Ellington(notes), Henk Norel(notes)

When you play basketball, and get the rock in an isolation situation, it's never a good idea to subscribe to your move before you even get the ball, and stay with it no matter what your defender does. Sure, it might pay off sometimes to know your move before you go into executing your attempt, but by and large you want to have practiced moves and options that allow you to think on your feet and adapt to the situation as it unfolds.

The Timberwovles, I'm sorry, but I think they picked a move heading into the Draft, and stuck with it even as the defender beat them to the spot.

I can't blame them. I begged every team to take Rubio to use as trade bait, and insist that every team take the best player available regardless of roster makeup. And the Wolves got two very good players, and two guys worth looking at. They just haven't looked good in the process. Rubio and/or Flynn are obviously trade bait, but nobody's biting. A transparent move, even if the telegraphed shot goes in, and Rubio/Flynn are brilliant together.

We really shouldn't rank them (or any other team) until 2012 or so, but for now ...

Score: 8

New Jersey Nets — Terrence Williams(notes)

Williams can play in this league. And for an 11th pick in a crummy Draft, I should accept that a rotation part taken at that spot is worth our time. Just not a fan.

Score: 7

New Orleans Hornets — Darren Collison(notes), Marcus Thornton(notes)

The Hornets have holes in the rotation up front, and in the back court. So they were in full "best player available" mode (or should have been), even if they took two guards. As it always is, time will tell if they actually took the best player available. Cop-out analysis, always worth your time!

Score: 7

New York Knicks — Jordan Hill(notes), Toney Douglas(notes)

Listen, the Knicks have holes, everywhere. They are starting from scratch. Guys like Nate Robinson(notes) and David Lee(notes) can play, but the team's brass wouldn't care if any of the 2008-09 roster is on board for a 50-win team in 2011-12. So New York went for the best players available. Hill doesn't quite look like a BPA at 8th, but Douglas does.

Score: 6

Oklahoma City Thunder — James Harden(notes), B.J. Mullens(notes), Robert Vaden(notes)

Harden can play, Mullens has lottery-level talent, and Vaden can make a team. In a weak Draft like this, even if Harden was taken third overall, this is still a fine haul. Now it's up to Scott Brooks to work things out. We're OK with that result.

Score: 8

Orlando Magic — No selections

Picked up Vince Carter(notes) and Ryan Anderson(notes) for expiring contracts and Courtney Lee(notes). A fine Thursday.

Philadelphia 76ers — Jrue Holiday(notes)

I mocked the pick initially, but Holiday is a lottery talent that the 76ers selected at 17. That's a good night out.

Score: 9

Phoenix Suns — Earl Clark(notes), Taylor Griffin(notes)

Griffin's probably not going to make the team, so let's just dump that idea. Clark can play, but he can also float. Huge talent, but a bit of a floater. Still, for the 14th pick (and, if Griffin does improve, the 48th pick?)? A workable turn for Steve Kerr.

Score: 9

Portland Trail BlazersVictor Claver(notes), Dante Cunningham(notes), Jeff Pendergraph(notes), Patrick Mills(notes)

The Trail Blazers didn't disappoint by not putting together 12 Draft-night trades, so let's just lose that idea. I don't like dumping Sergio Rodriguez(notes), not at his age, and am not sold on any of the players Pritchard picked up. But that's because I don't know much about them, and each of the guys (save for Mills) had gotten good marks entering Thursday's Draft. And only one (Claver) will get a guaranteed deal.

Score: 8

Sacramento Kings — Tyreke Evans(notes), Omri Casspi(notes), John Brockman

There's nothing actually wrong with any of these selections, but on a team that can't rebound to save its life, Blair would have helped.

Evans has huge upside, Casspi can play and was much-bandied about heading into the Draft, and even Brockman might contribute given a good summer, but you're still left wanting with this team. Wanting, maybe, Ricky Rubio and DeJuan Blair. Time will tell.

Score: 7

San Antonio Spurs — DeJuan Blair, Jack McClinton(notes), Nando De Colo(notes)

Two guys (one a lottery-level talent) that can help right away? And a man named "Nando De Colo?" Big, productive night for the Spurs, who didn't even have a first-rounder to work with.

Score: 10

Toronto Raptors — DeMar DeRozan(notes)

There's a good chance DeRozan could fall on his face, or never develop. Then again, there's also a chance he could turn into an All-Star. And for the ninth pick in an awful Draft, that's a chance worth taking.

Score: 9

Utah Jazz — Eric Maynor(notes), Goron Suton

Two useful talents that will see minutes, eventually. In a Draft low on talent, this is a fine night considering Utah entered the evening with the 20th and 50th picks.

Score: 9

Washington Wizards — No selections

Picked up Mike Miller(notes) and Randy Foye(notes) for a load of bad contracts and the selection that turned out to be Ricky Rubio. Time will tell.

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