Jun 27, 2008

Draft Grades - Western Conference

Here's my take on how all the teams in the West fared on Thursday:

Minnesota: A-
McHale made no bones about his "love" for Love. There was some talk that he might take him with #3, but for the first time in his tenure as GM, McHale outsmarted someone. He managed to get Love and a perenially underrated Mike Miller. In the process, he also dumped an unhappy Marco Jaric. I think Miller will provide the perfect veteran leadership and an all-around game that any team would love to have. Love will spread the defense and give Jefferson room to operate under the basket. Picking Nikola Pekovic was smart, as well. Many scouts think he is a top-15 talent, and he probably dropped to the second round simply because he won't be coming to the U.S. for a few years. With a roster that is already loaded with young talent, it may be best in the long run that they don't have another young player on the roster next season, anyways.

Seattle: C-
I liked Bayless at #4 and thought he would have been a better fit in Seattle than Westbrook. Bayless is a much more proficient scorer and would have taken more pressure off Durant on the offensive end. Their other 5 picks were okay at best. I really expected more out of Seattle with all of the picks they had on their hands.

Memphis: B-
I thought they should have held onto Love. Instead, they dumped their second-best player (Miller) and added a fourth point guard and a shooting guard. Now Memphis could potentially be stacked at the guard spots in a few years (Conley, Mayo, Gay), but have virtually nothing underneath. I do think Mayo is going to be special, but I really thought Memphis would have targeted a big man to keep. Apparently they are happy with keeping Darko & Kwame in their rotation (if not starting). The best they can hope for in a few years with this roster is the modern day version of the 2004 New Jersey Nets (Carter, Kidd, Jefferson). Silver lining: they got Darrell Arthur, who could have easily been a lottery pick.

LA Clippers: B+
Gordon was a good pickup, although I think Bayless would have been a better pick for LA at this slot. He can play both guards, and with Maggette probably leaving, they will need help at both guard positions (they don't have a decent healthy point guard, either). Gordon won't be playing any point, but I do think he will help them tremendously in the scoring department. What bumped up their grade in my opinion was the steal of DeAndre Jordan in the second round. I still can't believe he fell so far, and with Brand and Kaman holding the fort down low, the Clippers have the ability to be patient in Jordan's development. Solid day overall.

Sacramento: D
Wow, Jason Thompson at #12? I don't think anyone saw that one coming. They do need help at the 4, but this was a major stretch in my opinion. I would have easily selected Arthur if they were looking for a 4. Patrick Ewing, Jr. probably will never amount to anything in the NBA, so the Kings best hope is that someone will fall in love with his name and make a foolish trade for him. The one silver lining for me was the pick of Singletary -- I like his game and the Kings needed help at that position. Problem is, he will probably never be a quality starter in the NBA.

Portland: A
I probably shouldn't be shocked that Pritchard stole a high-quality talent like Bayless, but I am. In the process, Portland also dumped one of its mediocre point guards in Jack and got a tough young player in Diogu. In my eyes, they got the 4th best player in the draft with the 13th pick. Oh yeah, PG is the position they needed the most help. Even better. About the only flaw I saw in the Blazers' decision-making was trading away Arthur, but the local paper up here had Pritchard singing the praises of Batum -- and I agree that he could become a solid NBA player. A point that has been somewhat overlooked is the 3 future second-round picks Portland traded for. These could be valuable assets to use as part of future multi-player deals. Best draft-day management of any team.

Golden State: D
I feel like I'm experiencing deja vu. Didn't the Warriors use lottery picks on speculative big men in each of the past 2 drafts? Now they draft Randolph, who in my opinion was the most overrated player in the entire draft. Why make that pick when they already have Biedrins and a young Brandan Wright down low? It baffles me and lets me know that Don Nelson has nothing to do with the decision-making on draft day. I would have thought they would have targeted a guard given Baron Davis' & Stephen Jackson's probable departures in the near future? So what did they do in the second round? Pick another power forward. I'm stunned.

Phoenix: C-
Brook Lopez doesn't even have the semblance of an offensive game, and he is a painful show to watch on the court. Obviously, Kerr is overcompensating for the Suns' lack of defense by trying to get a defense-only player here. I could be wrong, but it doesn't make much sense to me to shift the entire personality of a franchise that has been consistently winning 50+ games a season.

Utah: B
Kuofos was a great pick at #23. He gives them size & outside shooting ability from the Center position. He'll be able to spell an often out-of-shape Mehmet Okur in a few years. I don't know much about Tomic, but at #44 this was a very low-risk pick. Apparently the Jazz thought about taking him at #23, so the fact they were able to nab him this late was a well-calculated risk.

Houston: C
They should have kept Batum with this pick. They could have also nabbed DeAndre Jordan, who would have had time to grow playing behind Yao. Leunen was a decent pick at #54, but in my eyes is a Steve Novak clone -- whom Houston already has.

San Antonio: B
The video I saw of George Hill made him out to be a pretty solid, yet undersized combo guard. Watching the draft, they mentioned he had a 6'7 wingspan which could turn him into a good defender. I think he'll be a solid upgrade to Vaughn as Parker's backup by year 2. I really liked the pick of James Gist at #57. He was a productive player in one of CBB's best conferences (ACC) and is an athletic specimen. On an aging Spurs roster, he could be a valuable energy guy off the bench.

New Orleans: B
No players to show for this draft, which is fine given they have a young & talented roster with no gaping holes that need to be filled immediately.

Dallas: C
Dallas does need help at the guard positions, but I don't think Shon Foster is the answer. Since they didn't have a first-round pick, there wasn't much hope that a solid guard would still be available at #51, but I like Joe Crawford better.

LA Lakers: B
Joe Crawford was a pretty good pickup at #58, given the slim pickings at that stage of the draft. The Lakers could use him in a few years with Fisher near retirement and Kobe needing a sub (every once in a great while). Crawford is a hard-nosed player. As this was their only pick in the draft, that's all I've got.

Denver: C
They didn't have any picks and made no moves in this year's draft. While they are great on paper, the culture of that franchise is miserable. It could still happen, but I'd trade away one of their pre-madonna stars before the season starts to shake things up a bit. Time will tell.

Coming Soon: Draft grades for all Eastern Conference teams

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