June 27, 2008
These are done on a scale from 1-10, and don't get too shook because most seem to be in the "eh, pretty good"-range. Anyone who wants to give you a whole host of definitive answers at this point regarding these 60 youngsters isn't really doing their job.
A scintillating start, eh? Atlanta waits for years to not be included amongst the lottery picks, they wait for years to see their team make a draft choice without Billy Knight's fingerprints all over it, they wait years for a playoff appearance, a new general manager, a new outlook on life ... and the Hawks didn't have a single selection in Thursday's Draft.
Ah, well. Silver lining and all that.
Additions: J.R. Giddens, Bill Walker, Semih Erden
I'm not going to rip the C's too hard, mainly because they can use whatever young help floats on by, and though Giddens was quite the reach (a guaranteed contract for that guy, too), they made up for it by taking a flyer on Walker. I don't want to dismiss Walker as a Chris Porter-type, mainly because anyone who comes back from injuries like he's had must have a willingness to work hard and a thirst to improve his game.
Additions: D.J. Augustin, Alexis Ajinca, Kyle Weaver
Every indication says that Ajinca ... not so much.
Augustin can play, but 5-11 points are going to need time to figure things out even if they are the next Terrell Brandon, and D.J. may not have that luxury if the Bobcats hand him the keys too early after trading Ray Felton.
Additions: Derrick Rose, Omer Asik, Sonny Weems
My thoughts on Rose were more or less summed up here, the Bulls need him to make a difference right away but I hope it doesn't lead to a series of rash trades that leaves Chicago with a 19 year-old out there by his lonesome come October.
Asik was rated by John Hollinger as the international player to watch, so that has to warm a few Cook County hearts, and Sonny Weems used to play the vibes in Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers. I think.
Additions: J.J. Hickson
Considering what they had to work with, getting a 19 year-old big man with skills who won't cost much to develop seems like a pretty solid night to me. It doesn't do much to change the rest of the Cleveland mistakes made over the few years (few?), but this one worked.
Additions: Shan Foster
Foster won't make the team, so there's no point in discussing him. Dallas' first round pick went to New Jersey in the Jason Kidd deal that really didn't work out all that well.
Three million bucks helps, especially when you pay the luxury tax, and the deal that sent Denver's 20th pick to Charlotte seemed sound at the time. Then Mario Chalmers fell. Uh-oh.
Additions: Walter Sharpe, Trent Plaisted, Deron Washington
Not that I think any of these guys are going to pan out. Far from it.
Detroit boss Joe Dumars may stink at picking in the lottery, but he knows a good lower-rung draft pick when he sees it. And if he doesn't see anyone worth sending two years worth of guaranteed money to with the 29th pick, then I have to give him the benefit of the doubt.
Beyond that, he gets three guys to take a chance on, with no obligations or salary constraints for a team trying to figure out what to do with itself.
Golden State Warriors
Additions: Anthony Randolph, Richard Hendrix
Randolph is one of those guys who we're either all working for in five years, or we'll all be dead by his hands. I don't like the basketball signs that surround him, not in the slightest, but there is that chance. There's always a chance we could be wrong. And if we're not, then the Warriors are only on the hook to pay him for two years. Big deal.
Additions: Donte Greene, Joey Dorsey, Maarty Leunen
Seems a safe enough pick, Greene has enough athleticism to not wash away as a Terrence Morris-type, and Dorsey is a worker.
Leunen has until October to amend the spelling of his first name.
Additions: Brandon Rush, Roy Hibbert
It was a bit odd to see the Pacers, finally ensconced in the rebuilding effort we've been begging for since 2006, take two of the most veteran pro prospects out there. You would think they would take flyers on younger players, but the problem was that good younger players just weren't available where the Pacers were picking.
So they picked up cap space and/or expiring contracts to trade this week, picked up a super starting point guard, some backcourt depth, a legit 7-footer, and actually acted like a team going in a singular direction for once. Regardless of the personnel involved, that in and of itself is a huge step.
Los Angeles Clippers
Additions: Eric Gordon, DeAndre Jordan, Mike Taylor
Jordan's an overwhelming favorite to fall on his face, but the slightest sliver of hope for greatness still makes him a good second round pick for the Clippers. They're under no obligation to do anything with him should he fail to improve, but if he busts out, the Clippers will benefit for the pittance of a second round pick.
Gordon seems like a better-built Jamal Crawford to me, but the Clippers desperately need scoring (no matter how inefficient). I still don't know where this team is going, though.
Los Angeles Lakers
Additions: Joey Crawford
Really, that's just pandering.
Additions: O.J. Mayo, Darrell Arthur
On the surface, the trade between Minnesota and Memphis truly seems like a miserable shuffling of the deck chairs that would lead to the Grizzlies' ship sinking a lot quicker than Minnesota's. Upon a closer look, the deal sort of reveals itself to be merely an even shuffle. Antoine Walker and Greg Buckner's contracts aren't guaranteed in 2010-11 and 2009-10 respectively, and the only salary difference in the contract that lasts that long would have the Grizzlies paying the quite-tradeable Marko Jaric's 7.6 million that season.
Still, that's a lot of junk to take on just for the right to move up and grab O.J. Mayo. I was on board with Memphis trading Mike Miller for pennies on the dollar, he's too old to be part of their plans, but couldn't they have gotten a better cut of the action salary cap-wise?
That said, while the team should have been just fine with Love and probably overrated Mayo, picking up Arthur helps bump the team's grade. Getting a talent like that at a salary slot that will cost them very little was a huge coup.
Additions: Michael Beasley, Mario Chalmers, Darnell Jackson
A fantastic night for the Heat, who didn't try to get cute, and rolled the dice on turning around the life of a person who could turn out to be an MVP-level talent. There's a very (very, very) good chance that Beasley will be a constant disappointment in his time as a pro, but you have to take a chance that he won't.
And, forgetting that, Chalmers has what it takes to start for the Heat next year. They'd prefer he didn't, I'd prefer they find someone else, but he's a nice fallback option for a second round pick. And I've heard nothing but good things about Jackson from people whose opinion I value.
Additions: Joe Alexander, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute
The Bucks are obviously gunning to win right now, Scott Skiles has never been the patient sort, so the trade that brought in Richard Jefferson in his prime has to be accepted and taken into context. They are what they are, and they're not rebuilding.
We'd been hoping for a week that Alexander would end up in Milwaukee, but he makes no sense now with Jefferson on board and Charlie Villanueva (a power forward with small forward skills) now the holdover at the 4 for the Bucks. Still, if we're going to hold that "take the best player available" mantra so dear, we might as well stick to it in this instance.
Mbah a Moute made my jaw drop with that highlight package ESPN showed last night. If his head's on straight and he listens to Skiles, this guy could turn into an amazing stopper who rarely leaves the ground - a la Tayshaun Prince - though his body is nothing like Prince's.
Additions: Kevin Love, Nikola Pekovic
I'm not going to get too high on the big deal for Minnesota, they dumped Walker, Jaric and Buckner but didn't get a huge amount of cap relief to work with as a result. Sure, Jaric has a contract that goes until 2010-11, a year later than Cardinal and Miller's, but he doesn't make a ton of money, has tiny talent, and you can find someone to take him off your hands without having to take as much salary on. Though Walker and Buckner make a ton, the Wolves will be paying just as much to Cardinal and Miller over the next few years.
And I don't get what Miller (age 28) does for this young team. Sure, he gives them a guard with size now, but this is a rebuilding team that needs to lose games and develop younger talent. Miller's going to be 31 or 32 once this crew turns the corner, and on the decline, so what's the point?
On top of that, love Love, but didn't the Timberwolves learn their lesson defensively last year trying to play two smallish power forwards at once? Just because Love is a talent upgrade over Ryan Gomes or Craig Smith, it doesn't mean he and Jefferson will be able to guard anyone. When trading for a lottery pick, you might want to check if he plays the same position as your best player, or if he could easily swap clothes with your best player without anyone noticing.
I can't believe I'm ripping a team for grabbing the best player in the trade (Love) while securing and establishing even more cap relief, but the idea of Love and Jefferson trying to defend more than overwhelms the feeling of warmth I'm getting from Love and Jefferson ham-and-egging it at the high and low post respectively. Hopefully I'm way, way wrong.
New Jersey Nets
Additions: Brook Lopez, Ryan Anderson, Chris Douglas-Roberts
I know I talked about it quite a bit yesterday, but forget LeBron James. The mere idea that the Nets have finally taken to a committed rebuilding process is enough to keep me - an NBA fan who can't stand it when teams try to sustain mediocrity - giddy.
Doesn't matter what they're going to do with that cap space, it just matters that they're trying something new besides adding Jamaal Magliore and hoping to pay 70 million bucks for 45 wins.
Beyond that, Lopez, Anderson, and CDR were all probably the best players available at their respective spots. Sounds good to me.
New Orleans Hornets
I may not be George Shinn's biggest fan, but he's paying big money for a team in a small market, and every penny counts. Trading this pick for three million bucks works.
New York Knicks
Additions: Danilo Gallinari
The Knicks get a good-to-great player who should hold down that wing spot for a while. I don't understand why the team would look to deal David Lee in any trade beyond one that would aid in dumping either Zach Randolph or Eddy Curry off on another team; but then again, I really don't understand the sort of mind that would want to enter into this rebuilding mess to begin with.
Additions: Courtney Lee
The guy is going to be 23 on opening night, and couldn't even put together huge numbers for a so-so Western Kentucky team. I am not a fan. If you disagree, bookmark this and talk to me in three years.
Additions: Marreese Speights
Excluding Darius Miles, who didn't like playing basketball at all, Mo Cheeks has a knack for getting his players to love life on the court and work hard. He seems like the right tonic for Speights, and Speights seems like a player the Sixers could use.
Additions: Robin Lopez, Malik Hairston
I know that the NCAAs are a slower game, and that he only played about 24 minutes a contest, but it's hard to get excited about a purported "rebounder" that averaged just 5.7 caroms a game last year.
That said, to get a 7-footer that won't embarrass himself (on the court, at least) at 15 was a solid move for Phoenix. He's 20 and could be a good 9th or 10th man. Don't think of that as a rip.
Additions: Jerryd Bayless, Nicolas Batum
Batum's presence, as a first round pick no less, keeps the Blazers from a "10." Still, dumping the overrated Jarrett Jack (a nice fourth guard, but come on ...) while picking up the incredibly underrated and underplayed Ike Diogu while still scoring Bayless? Pritchard-esque.
The Blazers boss also turned all his second round picks into future second round picks, which makes sense because Portland has about 97 guys on its roster right now.
Additions: Jason Thompson, Sean Singletary, Patrick Ewing Jr.
You get the feeling that they were so surprised that every player the Kings thought they had a chance at had gone so swiftly in the minutes before their pick, that they just bite the bullet and went with the last remaining player at the top of the "best player available" list.
Sort of out-thinking yourself without thinking at all, and getting caught when you get too cute. There's no way they should have had this guy ranked this high, but they probably never thought they'd have to be forced into considering taking Thompson, and it may come back to bite them. Hopefully it doesn't, Geoff Petrie's so good at what he does that you'd like to hope for the best and see it actually come through.
Then again, when you think about Patrick Ewing Jr. (has he ever shown us anything that could be parlayed into a pro career?), it makes you wonder, even if he is a second round pick.
San Antonio Spurs
Additions: George Hill, Goran Dragic, James Gist
The Spurs' draft ranking depends on whether or not you prefer Hill or Mario Chalmers, and I'm firmly in the Chalmers camp.
Additions: Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka, D.J. White, DeVon Hardin, Sasha Kau
Seattle was pitiful last year on defense, even with Earl Watson manning the point for stretches, and Westbrook will help. Kevin Love would seem like a nice pick, but the team obviously valued Westbrook's offense over Love's defense, if you catch my drift.
Ibaka can play, and the next step is for Seattle to start improving that pitiful offense. Just because they put up a lot of points, it doesn't mean they were in any way efficient last season.
Additions: Nathan Jawai
A second rounder who doesn't cost a thing, Jawai could provide interior help and sop up minutes. With Jermaine O'Neal's knees in town, the Raptors best not look at adding anyone under 6-8 for the next 12 months.
Additions: Kosta Koufos, Ante Tomic, Tadija Dragicevic
For very, very little money or effort, the Utah Jazz added three players who have been quite good at their respective levels (NCAA or overseas), all with a solid shot at contributing in the NBA.
And if they don't? Then they pay Koufos for two years until he's 21. Big deal. Great draft.
Additions: JaVale McGe
He's athletic, but I just don't get handing a middling prospect like this guaranteed money. Washington knew the score months ago, and should have worked harder to ship this pick out.