While it’s too early to evaluate how well teams made out in this draft, we’ll attempt to take an early shot at grading them based on what we know now.
This report card was based off three factors:
1. How well did the team in question to satisfy its personnel and roster needs.
2. How much value the team received from its picks.
3. Subjective opinions on the player the team selected and how well the player fits with the team’s style of play and the direction of the franchise.
No picks means no grade, but Rick Sund surely didn’t impress anyone by already making his first mistake – not showing any serious interest in bringing over former draftee David Andersen, who could have been a nice compliment to Al Horford and would have contributed more to the team than any player drafted outside of the lottery this season. The Australian center took less money than he made last season to go to Barcelona and the Hawks yet again blew a chance to strengthen their roster. Some things never change.
Giddens makes a lot of sense here, as he surely has the talent and athleticism to warrant being drafted this high, granted he realizes how blessed he was to get a second opportunity. Playing alongside warriors like Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, Giddens should fall right in line. He needs the security of a two-year contract to give him a cushion until he’s truly ready to contribute anything more than spot defensive minutes, so it will be interesting to see how well he takes advantage of this opportunity.
Bill Walker slipped deep into the second round due to concerns about his knee. He has a good deal of talent but doesn’t look close to being able to contribute at this point. It will be interesting to see if the Celtics hold onto him long enough to see whether he was worth the cash they gave the Wizards for his rights. The Celtics are reportedly shopping him overseas at the moment, trying to get him to play in Europe next season before having him try to make their team next year.
Picks: D.J. Augustin (No. 9); Alexis Ajinca (No. 20); Kyle Weaver (No. 38).
It was definitely surprising to see the Bobcats pass up on Brook Lopez here once he fell right into their lap. They just drafted Raymond Felton fifth overall just a few years back, and now it looks like they might need to trade him and start the process all over again from the start. Augustin is obviously more of a Larry Brown type point guard than Felton is, but you have to wonder just how much better the Bobcats got on draft night compared to where they were. At some point you need to start winning games and Charlotte seems to still be stuck in that dreaded spot between just being mediocre enough to teeter between securing late lottery picks and losing in the first round of the playoffs, but not quite bad enough to be able to shake themselves out of the cycle. From what we understand, Augustin was Larry Brown’s pick all the way. We like him, but just wonder about him being taken at this spot.
With the 20th overall pick, Alexis Ajinca is the type of project you can afford to take a risk on at this point in the draft. He had a terrific workout in Charlotte and also had the backing of international scouting director (and Nike Hoop Summit organizer) Rich Sheubrooks, who has studied him closely.
Picks: Derrick Rose (No. 1); traded Sonny Weems (No. 39) to Denver for 2009 second-round pick; traded three second-round picks for the rights to Omer Asik (No. 36).
The Bulls don’t deserve a great deal of credit for lucking their way into the No. 1 pick and then selecting one of the two best talents in the draft. They do deserve credit for the way they handled the process, though – keeping an open mind about both players throughout, doing an extensive analysis of each and not jumping to conclusions based off their overenthusiastic local media who anointed Rose as the pick as soon as the ping-pong balls dropped. There was plenty of reason to consider Michael Beasley, but at the end of the day GM John Paxson decided to minimize his risks and go with the guy he trusted more, even though Chicago was, according to NBA team sources, leaning towards Beasley as late as the first week of June. Only time will tell if that was the right move.
In the second round, the Bulls picked up the player we called “one of the biggest steals of the draft.” Our enthusiasm for Asik was severely dampened once he decided to sign a five-year contract with Fenerbahce that has no escape clause for the NBA. Making things even worse is the fact that Chicago needed to burn three second-round picks (two of their own and Denver’s 2009 second-rounder) to get him when he very well could have been had just three picks later with the 39th pick. They might not have gotten great value there, to say the least.
Picks: J.J. Hickson (No. 19); traded future second-round pick to Miami for rights to Darnell Jackson (No. 52); traded cash considerations to Seattle for rights to Sasha Kaun (No. 56).
This probably isn’t the move that makes LeBron James fall back in love with Cleveland, but it’s also not a pick that can be judged for at least two to three years. It seems like there were better players to be had here that could have filled Cleveland’s needs quicker, but this is risky territory we’re getting into trying to predict the improvement, or lack of, that a 19-year old college freshman will make in the NBA.
Darnell Jackson seems to duplicate a lot of what Cleveland already has on its roster, and if he can’t make it out of camp, the Cavs would have burned two second-round picks on nothing.
Picks: Shan Foster (No. 51).
The Mavericks certainly made the best of what they had to work with, taking a player who could emerge as a steal for them if they show the willingness to develop him. Foster might be the best shooter in this year’s draft. With his size at 6-6, terrific 6-11 wingspan and uncanny ability to make shots at a prolific rate, it’s surprising he didn’t get drafted much earlier.
Picks: traded No. 20 to Charlotte for future first-round pick; acquired rights to Sonny Weems (No. 39) from Chicago for 2009 second-round pick.
The Nuggets selected arguably the best athlete in this draft, Sonny Weems, early in the second round. Weems doesn’t have the willingness or knowledge of to use that athleticism to his benefit at this point, but if he can figure that out over the next few years, he could develop into a solid rotation player. He has more upside than almost anyone drafted in the second round.
Picks: Traded rights to D.J. White (No. 29) to Seattle for rights to Walter Sharpe (No. 32) and Trent Plaisted (No. 46); Deron Washington (No. 59).
Even though the Pistons really didn’t have a whole lot to work with here, it’s hard to come away overly impressed with what they did on draft night. They traded their first-round pick for the rights to Walter Sharpe (a big talent with major red flags) and Trent Plaisted, who will join Deron Washington in Europe next season.
Picks: Anthony Randolph (No. 14); Richard Hendrix (No. 49).
Anthony Randolph definitely had the potential to warrant being picked at this spot, but the jury is out on whether it makes any kind of sense to take him considering the style of offense Golden State likes to employ. Randolph’s inability to make shots from the perimeter, along with his often-selfish play and lackadaisical attitude on defense and the boards, is exactly the opposite of what Golden State needs, which makes it difficult to imagine him being overly successful early on under coach Don Nelson. Considering Randolph’s overall profile, that could spell trouble down the road for him. In fact, we said many of the same things about Brandan Wright (a player Randolph somewhat resembles) exactly a year ago, but were a bit higher on his ability to score inside. We will see what direction Golden State heads over the next few years and whether they’ll find a coach that can make use of the players their GM is drafting. Right now, the two definitely don’t seem to be on the same page.
At 49, the Warriors did extremely well for themselves, drafting one of the players we pegged as one of the steals of this draft: Richard Hendrix. Hendrix fell quite a bit on draft night because of a knee problem that was discovered during the Orlando pre-draft camp. Thus, the parallels with Carlos Boozer continue, as he not only put up very similar numbers in college, but also was red-flagged for the exact same reason (according to one NBA team we talked to, at least). We see Hendrix as more of a Paul Millsap type in the NBA, and this is exactly what Golden State needs considering the type of players they currently have on their roster.
Picks: Traded rights to Nicolas Batum (No. 25) to Portland for rights to Darrell Arthur (No. 27) and Joey Dorsey (No. 33); traded rights to Arthur to Memphis for rights to Donte Greene (No. 28) and 2009 second-round pick; Maarty Leunen (No. 54).
There isn’t much not to like here with what Houston did on draft night considering their limited resources. First they busted up the plans of their division rival, the San Antonio Spurs, by selecting Nicolas Batum (the player they had promised and tried to hide from the rest of the NBA). They likely did not win many fans a few hours down I-10 with that move, but ended up coming away as winners by picking up Donte Greene, Joey Dorsey and a 2009 second-round pick out of that lone No. 25 pick. That’s what we call value, particularly Greene, who could have gone 15 spots higher had he not behaved poorly in a workout with the New Jersey Nets (something that reportedly spread quickly around the league). Rockets GM Daryl Morey loves Dorsey and Leunen. Their college production is impossible to argue with, even if it seems strange to add a fourth and fifth power forward to the mix now.
Picks: Traded Jermaine O'Neal to Toronto for T.J. Ford, Rasho Nesterovic and the rights to Roy Hibbert (No. 17); traded Ike Diogu and the rights to Jerryd Bayless (No. 11) to Portland for Jarrett Jack, Josh McRoberts and the rights to Brandon Rush (No. 13).
With their backs against the wall, the Pacers managed to land a sweetheart deal by packaging Jermaine O’Neal to the Raptors for T.J. Ford (filling their void at point guard), Rasho Nesterovic (filling their void at center) and the 17th overall pick. This gave them the flexibility to target the best overall player on their draft board and pick up a nice asset in Jarrett Jack with two proven and polished college players: Roy Hibbert and Brandon Rush. All in all, this was definitely a home run draft for Indiana. They are a better team, with better character in the locker room, deeper off the bench and also more flexible financially to go out and continue to add pieces in their rebuilding process.
The one thing we wonder about is whether Jerryd Bayless may develop into enough of a talent to make the Pacers regret trading him after he shockingly fell right into their lap at No. 11. Taking Hibbert over Kosta Koufos is another one we’ll have to wait and see on.
Picks: Eric Gordon (No. 7); DeAndre Jordan (No. 35); traded 2009 second-round pick to Portland for rights to Mike Taylor (No. 55).
The Clippers had Eric Gordon pegged as “their guy” all throughout the draft process. In fact, they proposed trading a future first-rounder to Seattle to move up to No. 4 to ensure that they got him. The big question here is: Which Eric Gordon will the Clippers be getting? The one who dominated college basketball at the beginning of the season? Or the one that struggled badly near the end? The answer is likely somewhere in between.
How good Gordon ends up being largely depends on what kind of guard the Clippers can find to place alongside him. He will be able to accelerate his learning curve significantly by seeing some minutes at the point guard position early on, but in the long run, having someone such as a healthy Shaun Livingston (good luck) playing next to him would let him focus on what he does best: scoring. Until then, the jury is still out.
In the second round, the Clippers got great value and also managed to patch up some needs by securing solid potential backups at both point guard and center. The very athletic DeAndre Jordan, once projected as a top-10 pick, was shockingly available for them at 35. At 55, the Clippers identified yet another terrific athlete in Mike Taylor for which they traded a future second-round pick to Portland. There are question marks about Taylor’s all-around profile, but there is surely enough in the ways of physical tools and talent to at least take a chance here.
The Clippers could line up their draftees against those of any other teams in a track meet and probably come out victorious.
Picks: Joe Crawford (No. 58).
Crawford may not make it out of training camp, but it’s hard to argue with drafting anyone this late when it was the Lakers’ only pick.
Picks: Traded Mike Miller, Brian Cardinal, Jason Collins and rights to Kevin Love (No. 5) to Minnesota for Marko Jaric, Antoine Walker, Greg Buckner and rights to O.J. Mayo (No. 3); traded rights to Donte Greene (No. 28) and a 2009 second-round pick to Houston for Darrell Arthur (No. 27)
There didn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to anything Memphis was doing throughout this draft process (and over the last year, really), and that impression certainly continued as we learned how much it needed to give up to move up two spots in the draft to select Mayo. The Grizzlies might have ended up with the better talent in Mayo, but they hampered their financial flexibility for the future (the whole point of trading away Pau Gasol for nothing?) with by taking Jaric’s contract off Minnesota’s hands, and they also created a huge glut of players in their backcourt. If we’re looking at value and the direction the franchise is heading in, there are certainly some eyebrows to be raised.
Later on in the first, Memphis was able to pick up the free-falling Darrell Arthur – a risk well worth taking at this part of the first round. We were never quite on board with Arthur as the lottery-caliber talent some were painting him out to be – because of concerns we had with his intensity level, rebounding skills and fairly disappointing measurements. But at the 27th pick, you certainly can’t argue with taking him.
Picks: Michael Beasley (No. 2), traded two future second-round picks and cash considerations for rights to Mario Chalmers (No. 34), traded rights to Darnell Jackson (No. 52) for the lesser of Cleveland’s two second-round picks in 2009.
Whether they wanted him or not, Miami ended up landing Michael Beasley, who many feel could emerge as the best player in this year’s draft. Beasley’s production at the collegiate level puts him in a class of his own looking at big men over the last 10 years or so, and there is very little question that he will quickly emerge as a scoring machine and an absolute beast of a rebounder. That’s not what concerns Heat president Pay Riley, though. Miami made every effort possible to get the best offers they could for this pick in the days leading up to this draft, but when it was all said and done, the Heat just couldn’t get enough value to actually make a move. Looking forward, Riley may end up feeling very fortunate that he decided to keep Beasley, and it’s now up to the player to prove that he can indeed live up to his potential.
In the second round, the Heat made a very aggressive move targeting Mario Chalmers, an exceptional defender and spot-up shooter who could very well prove to be a terrific compliment playing next to a dominant ball-handler like Dwyane Wade. Chalmers was never talented enough to be considered the lottery-caliber value that some analysts pegged him as on draft night, but weaknesses (shot-creating ability, natural playmaking instincts) are minimized in a system like this, as he’ll be able to execute Miami’s half-court offense well enough and still provide plenty of value with the things he does well. He could emerge as a Derek Fisher type in time, as his attitude fits what Riley is looking for.
Ignoring their draft picks for a moment, you have to like what the Bucks did in packaging the equally disappointing Yi Jianlian and Bobby Simmons for one of the 10 best small forwards in the NBA in Richard Jefferson. Milwaukee went into this draft looking to get better at the position and they did exactly that without giving up too much in return. Yi never wanted to be here in the first place and Bucks fans don’t really sound all that sad to see him go. Bobby Simmons might have been the most overpaid player in the NBA at his position considering what he’s given the Bucks since he signed his five-year, $47 million contract.
With Jefferson in the fold, we definitely feel better about seeing Milwaukee take a chance at Joe Alexander with the eighth overall pick. He was always going to have problems justifying being drafted that high considering his lack of polish. But with Jefferson in the fold and minutes to be had off the bench at small forward and especially at power forward, Alexander can develop at a more reasonable rate instead of being thrown straight into the fire.
Mbah a Moute at 37 doesn’t seem to make much sense at all this high in the draft (this pick is eerily similar to taking David Noel at a similar spot a few years back). But former Detroit front-office exec John Hammonds likely feels that he can bring the Bucks something in the form of toughness and defense, which the Bucks sorely lack.
Picks: Traded Marko Jaric, Antoine Walker, Greg Buckner and the draft rights to O.J. Mayo (No. 3) to Memphis for Mike Miller, Brian Cardinal, Jason Collins and the draft rights to Kevin Love (No. 5), Nikola Pekovic (#31); traded rights to Mario Chalmers (No. 34) to Miami for two future second-round picks and cash.
You have to take your hat off to Wolves GM Kevin McHale for once. Not only did he go out and get the player he coveted the most in this draft – Kevin Love – he managed to pick up a terrific player to compliment him in Mike Miller while also unloading Marko Jaric’s contract. That might even qualify as a home run in our book. Don’t look now, but Minnesota has firmly entrenched themselves to be huge players on the much-anticipated 2010 free-agent market if they have the patience to continue to maintain their flexibility.
Throughout the draft process, we got the feeling that Minnesota’s staff was not enamored with Mayo as the third-best talent in this draft. Love was McHale’s guy, as we back in May and it was very shrewd of him to be able to get him and everything else he acquired in this trade. Now we’ll have to wait and see what kind of player he turns out to be alongside Al Jefferson. The fact that Minnesota has not given up yet on Randy Foye is fairly significant, too.
In the second round, the Timberwolves picked up a first-round caliber talent in Nikola Pekovic. It’s still up in the air whether or not he’ll ever decide to join the NBA, but if he does, he could immediately compete for minutes off the bench.
Minnesota must not have felt like it had the roster spots to add another rookie with its other second-round pick (No. 34), so the team converted this pick into two future second-rounders and $1.5 million. If Chalmers develops into a quality NBA backup, this might not look like such a smart move in time, especially considering how shallow Minnesota’s backcourt currently is.
NEW JERSEY NETS
Picks: Brook Lopez (No. 10); Ryan Anderson (No. 21); Chris Douglas-Roberts (No. 40); also traded Richard Jefferson for Yi Jianlian and Bobby Simmons.
We probably need to separate between what happened before the draft and what happened after. Before the clock started ticking, the Nets cleared out a significant amount of cap space for the 2010 offseason by trading Richard Jefferson for what appears to be pennies on the dollar (Yi Jianlian and Bobby Simmons). It’s hard not to imagine that they could have landed a more attractive package had they waited until the trading deadline, but the Nets must think more highly of Yi than others.
After the draft kicked off, the Nets were very fortunate to see the top center in the draft, Brook Lopez, slip to them at 10th. They snatched him right up and definitely got great value in doing so. At 21 they decided to select Ryan Anderson, a talented player who was rated lower on most teams’ boards and who surely duplicates some of the things that Yi already brings to the table. They might have been better off taking a chance on Donte Greene here, but one of the reasons he fell was because he got into an argument with a member of their coaching staff in a private workout.
With the 40th pick the Nets may have landed one of the biggest steals in the draft in Douglas-Roberts. It’s not quite clear why he slipped so far, but the Nets may be able to get immediate production from him off the bench now that Jefferson is gone.
Picks: None (traded No. 27 to Portland for cash).
Operating in a small market such as New Orleans, the Hornets need to make every penny count. They decided to sit this one out and will probably use the money they saved to help offset the cost of coach Byron Scott’s new contract extension and Chris Paul’s impending extension.
Picks: Danilo Gallinari (No.6).
This is just a subjective opinion on how we feel about Gallinari. He’s a great talent with terrific intangibles and should prove to be a very solid building block in the very long rebuilding process that New York needs to go through. The Knicks did not guarantee they would draft him at sixth. We thought they should give a stronger look at Jerryd Bayless than they did, but they obviously disagreed.
Picks: Courtney Lee (No. 22).
You won’t find us arguing with this pick, as the Magic got good value, filled a definite need and also landed one of our favorite wing players in this draft. Stan Van Gundy will actually like Lee, and it’s not difficult to envision him getting playing time as a rookie. The Magic definitely telegraphed this move in the weeks leading up to draft night, but ended up getting their man regardless. Lee brings them outside shooting, passing skills, defensive ability on the wing and an excellent all-around feel for the game. The biggest question mark now is, what will Orlando do with J.J. Redick?
Picks: Marreese Speights (No. 16).
Value? Maybe. Need? Check. Subjective opinion? Check back with us in a few years. On talent, Speights is certainly a lottery pick, but beyond that, he’s simply not. Drafting him this close to the lottery might be a slight reach, but only if Speights doesn’t wise up, mature and show that he has the internal motivation to prove his doubters wrong. The other players the Sixers were reportedly considering – Darrell Arthur and DeAndre Jordan – were no sure things, either.
Picks: Robin Lopez (No. 15); traded rights to Malik Hairston (No. 48), a future second-round pick and cash considerations to San Antonio in exchange for draft rights to Goran Dragic (No. 45).
The Suns certainly telegraphed the fact that they’ll be taking Robin Lopez very early on. He has the potential to be a solid backup, which, considering his size and energy level, makes him a reasonable pick at 15. The Suns will hope he can develop into a bit more.
What is surprising, though, is the way the Suns handled themselves in the second round. In order to move up three measly spots from 48 to 45, they traded a player (Malik Hairston), a future second-rounder AND cash. We realize the Suns are serious about getting tougher and better defensively (Dragic fits the bill there), but we’re not talking about a sure-fire NBA player by any stretch, and there aren’t even any guarantees that he will want to leave Tau Vitoria for whatever the Suns offer him. We always talk about value, value, value. The Suns did not get a lot of it here.
Picks: Traded Jarrett Jack, Josh McRoberts and rights to Brandon Rush (No. 13) to Indiana for Ike Diogu and rights to Jerryd Bayless (No. 11); traded rights to Darrell Arthur (No. 27) and Joey Dorsey (No. 33) to Houston for rights to Nicolas Batum (No. 25); traded rights to Omer Asik (No. 36) to Chicago for three future second-round picks; traded rights to Mike Taylor (No. 55) to L.A. Clippers for 2009 second-round pick.
Kevin Pritchard and his terrific staff continue to run circles around every other front office in the NBA, going out and securing the top players on their draft board, at their biggest needs, while continuing to stock up on picks for the future.
Portland’s staff identified Jerryd Bayless as the best fit for their roster very early on in the season and they were confident and aggressive enough (as usual) to go out and get him.
It makes perfect sense, of course, as Bayless’ biggest weakness (the fact that he’s not a true point guard) actually becomes a strength playing alongside Brandon Roy (who will do the majority of the ball handling), letting Bayless focus on what he does best: making shots and creating for himself and in turn for others. Bayless will defend point guards while Roy will handle the shooting guards and the two will just cross on offense. The Blazers had him ranked as the fourth-best player in this draft – as did we – and being able to nab him with the 13th pick and Jarrett Jack was a huge coup.
Picks: Jason Thompson (No. 12); Sean Singletary (No. 42); Patrick Ewing Jr. (No. 43).
We understand the logic in taking a senior power forward like Jason Thompson at No. 12. He has the size, range and intangibles to be a nice piece next to Spencer Hawes, but you have to wonder if this wasn’t a reach considering some of the players that were on the board here. The Kings were likely disappointed to see the top two guards left in the late lottery off the board when Charlotte surprisingly selected D.J. Augustin ninth and then Indiana snatched up Jerryd Bayless at 11. Thompson had an excellent workout in Sacramento and could develop into a fine player, but he will definitely be under a lot of pressure to do so.
In the second round, the Kings continued to reach for players that many teams did not have ranked anywhere on their board, taking Patrick Ewing Jr. and Sean Singletary.
SAN ANTONIO SPURS
Picks: George Hill (No. 26); traded rights to Goran Dragic (No. 45) to Phoenix for rights to Malik Hairston (No. 48), a future second-round pick and cash considerations; James Gist (No. 57).
San Antonio was likely blindsided after being caught trying to steal Nicolas Batum from the rest of the league, so much that they seem to have reached for George Hill, who they almost certainly could have had in the second round. Hill’s numbers are off the charts and he did play extremely well at the Orlando pre-draft camp, but learning how to play the point guard position is not going to be the easy for him.
In the second round the Spurs took Phoenix to the cleaners simply for the price of moving up three spots in the draft. They landed the better player in the deal (Malik Hairston), picked up a future second-round pick and even managed to swindle some cash out of the Suns in the process. A very nice transaction. Hairston has a great chance to make this team and may develop into a contributor down the road if he can improve his perimeter defense skills.
James Gist was someone that a number of teams had fairly high on their draft boards, but for some reason slipped all the way to the end of the second round. Nothing about his profile really jumps out at you, but he does have the athleticism to hang around for a little while.
Picks: Russell Westbrook (No. 4), Serge Ibaka (No. 24); traded Walter Sharpe (No. 32) and Trent Plaisted (No. 46) to Detroit for D.J. White (29); DeVon Hardin (No. 50); traded rights to Sasha Kaun (#56) to Cleveland for cash.
Possibly more than any team in the league, Seattle’s adventure on Thursday is one that cannot really be properly evaluated for at least two to three years. In terms of value, the Sonics’ draft could go either way. Russell Westbrook is a player that may or may not prove to be worthy of starting at either backcourt position in the NBA and taking him fourth was definitely a gamble looking at some of the other players that were on the board here. Is Westbrook enough of a playmaker to be a starting NBA point guard in time? And if not, is he big enough – and a good enough ball-handler, outside shooter and all-around scorer – to start at off guard? He can surely defend well enough at either position, but considering that he might need a specific type of lead guard alongside him, was he worthy of being drafted fourth overall? On first glance the answer to that seems to be no, but Sam Presti might know something that we don’t.
At 24, there is no question that Serge Ibaka has the physical tools and all-around upside to warrant being selected this high. The question is, will he ever play in the NBA? Ibaka currently has offers on the table that may not allow him the financial flexibility needed under the NBA’s rookie scale to justify paying his buyout along with the money he’ll be leaving on the table in Spain. His agents didn’t want him getting drafted in the first round: Did Presti call their bluff? Or did he just blow a first round pick? Only time will tell.
Later on in the draft Seattle definitely got great value, landing a prospect who has all the makings of a quality rotation player in D.J. White at 29 (in exchange for two second-round picks), and then doing the same late in the second round by stopping the free-fall of DeVon Hardin, who surprisingly dropped this far. If the Sonics can get anything out of this pick, this late in the draft, they’ve done absolutely well for themselves.
Picks: Traded T.J. Ford, Rasho Nesterovic and the rights to Roy Hibbert (No. 17) to Indiana in exchange for Jermaine O'Neal and the rights to Nathan Jawai (No. 41).
This doesn’t look like a very good trade for Toronto on paper. Jermaine O’Neal is not only injury prone and incredibly overpaid for the next two seasons, he also seems to duplicate Chris Bosh and Andrea Bargnani with his preference to play on the perimeter and often settle for low-percentage jump shots. You have to think the Raptors could have gotten more for the package they gave Indiana.
At No. 41, the Raptors picked an interesting project in Australian Nathan Jawai. The big man is nowhere near ready to play in the NBA considering his limited skill level, poor conditioning and inexperience, but he does have some upside to develop if his work ethic is better than advertised. Either way, it was worth the gamble at 41.
Picks: Kosta Koufos (No. 23); Ante Tomic (No. 44); Tadija Dragicevic (No. 53).
The Jazz came into this draft looking for a backup for Mehmet Okur and came away with a player that appears to be his carbon clone. Koufos could have gone as high as 11th to Indiana, most certainly filled a need at the center position and appears to have significant upside. Anytime you can get a 7-1 center with a 7-5 wingspan and an incredibly high skill level, you do it, particularly when that player is just 19 years old. Koufos could end up being one of the steals of this draft.
In Ante Tomic, the Jazz got a player at 44 they were considering at 23. There are serious question marks about whether he’ll ever come play in the United States, but if he does, he could end up making Jazz GM Kevin O’Connor look very smart, particularly if he continues to add weight.
Picks: JaVale McGee (No. 18).
At No. 18 there certainly isn’t as much to lose as there would be if McGee went in the top 10 like some prognostications anticipated earlier on in the process. Still, it’s hard not to feel like there weren’t better players on the board here. Again, this will come down more to McGee’s internal motivation to improve more than any arguments about his talent. If he does pan out, this could be an incredible steal for the Wizards. But that’s a big IF.