The wheeling and dealing started early Wednesday afternoon with the Pacers swapping Jermaine O' Neal for the Raptors point guard T.J. Ford and contuned until 2am eastern time Friday with Kevin Love being traded from Memphis to Minnesota for the rights to O.J. Mayo (or as i like to call him Ovinton J' Anthony Mayo).
That trade ended the draft but the debate rages on, Big vs. Small.
The Chicago Bulls had that choice with the first pick and chose Memphis PG Derrick Rose over a seemingly sure 20 and 10 guy Michael Beasley. The league is being taken over by great point guards with the stellar play of Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Tony Parker, and Steve Nash.
The thing I don't understand is that none of those great players were in the Finals. Instead the two point guards were Derek Fisher and Rajon Rondo. Fisher is a rock on defense and one of the smarter guards in the league. Rondo is extremely athletic and fast but neither are even mentioned in the same breathe as those other guards.
If you truly want to get technical a team with a great point guard as there go to man has not won a championship since 1990 when Zeke sliced the Trailblazers up in 5 games (Tony Parker has Tim Duncan). Point guards are changing the game these days and signal a faster turnaround to a team than most other players.
Just look how successful the Hornets and Jazz have been lately.
Point guards are the new hot thing in the league and I love it but I am still under the old adage that big's put banners in your arena. Just two years ago the experts were telling us that the run and gun was taking over basketball and i haven't seen the Warriors or Suns put any gold on their fingers (Stephen Jackson's brass knuckles don't count). So we will see how these deals and decisions workout for the big and the little of the draft. So I realize that grades are pointless if these guys haven't even stepped on the floor yet but i will put my talent evaluating skills to the test and tell you what these players will in the league.
So now i will attempt to be a professor at the school of basketball and hand out my 2008 NBA Draft Grades.
Atlanta Hawks Grade: B+ No Picks
The Hawks had no picks in this draft because they traded there first rounder this year for Joe Johnson in 2005 and their second rounder for Mike Bibby this year. I gave them their grade because they finally made the playoffs after a miserable drought. The trades were worth it and the future looks good in Atlanta.
Boston Celtics Grade: B- 1.30 J.R. Giddens 2.47 Bill Walker 2.60 Semih Erden
Coming off of the abomination of the Lakers the Celtics wouldn't appear to need much. They really don't but they missed out on a great opportunity to get Mario Chalmers who would of been a great upgrade on defense for Sam Cassell and a change of pace for Rondo.
They also didn't take Chris Douglas Roberts who could of been instant offense off the bench, something the Celtics really need. The C's did address their lack of athleticism with Giddens and Walker. Both are high flyer's and have the potential to be very good defenders. Giddens can shoot and will fill a big hole if James Posey walks via free agency this summer. Walker was a lottery pick before knee injuries slowed him down, but he does have the tools to be a starter in this league. I don't think it will ever be with Boston.
Charlotte Bobcats Grade: C- 1.9 D.J. Augustin 1.20 Alexis Ajinca 2.38 Kyle Weaver
Michael Jordan continues to amaze me at how bad of a player evaluator he is. If he was this bad at gambling he would be broke.
Its like Jordan is putting 100 grand on an 8 team parlay. Remember Jordan is the guy that picked Kwame Brown numero uno and also selected Adam Morrison over Rudy Gay. Well Jordan did it again. The Bobs (Bonilla is my favorite) already have a point guard named Raymond Felton who has a world of talent and is from Carolina. Now i don't know if they plan on dealing Felton and making Augustin the starter but that would be a big mistake. Augustin is extremely undersized at 5'10" and does not have the athleticism or blazing quickness to make up for that. He does shoot the ball very well but i only see him as a very serviceable back up in the league.
As for the other stiff they drafted Alexis Ajinca, another big mistake. When your 7'1" with a 7'8" wingspan how do you only average 5 rebounds and 5 points a game. This kid better stay in Europe for five years and put on 50 pounds if he ever wants to be anything in this league. Career back for Ajinca. I do love the pick of Weaver in the second round. Weaver is very long and a great defender. He can also initiate the offense and should be a top 8 rotation guy for at least 10 years.
Get it together Michael. Maybe you should take a few days away from the golf course and actually scout some players. It could tell you a lot.
Chicago Bulls Grade: A- 1.1 Derrick Rose 2.36 Omer Asik
The Bulls had a choice to make and they made the right one. They already have a less refined Michael Beasley in Tyrus Thomas. It is now Derrick Rose's job to turn Tyrus into a beast and I don't see him having trouble with that. Rose is one of the most explosive players I have seen out of college in a while. He has a 40 inch vertical and the strength to finish at the rim with ease. He is lightning quick and can run the fast break by himself. He has good enough court vision and speed that setting up his teammates will be very easy because the defense will be so focused on him.
I see Rose becoming an all-star by year 3 and definitely a staple in the playoffs every year. He has the potential to get close to Chris Paul and Deron Williams very soon. Asik can be a very productive player in 3 or 4 years and the Euroleague will definitely improve his game.
Cleveland Cavaliers Grade: C+ 1.19 J.J. Hickson 2.52 Darnell Jackson 2.56
Sasha Kaun I wasn't particularly fond of Clevelands draft until they traded for Darnell Jackson and Sasha Kaun. I am not a big fan of J.J. Hickson and thought Kosta Koufos would have been a better fit with an aging Big Z only having a few years left. Hickson will be a formidable back up in the league but i don't see him keeping Lebron James around past 2010.
Darnell Jackson will eventually eat up Hickson's minutes. Jackson is a beast and plays with his motor revving at 7000 RPM's. He also has a pretty mid range jumper and is a National Champion. I also like Sasha Kaun. He will be playing in Russia for the next couple of years developing his skills and will be a great role player when he returns back to the states. Cleveland cherish Lebron while you can.
Dallas Mavericks Grade: D 2.51 Shan Foster
The Mavericks traded their first round pick in the Jason Kidd deal and their future continues to look bleak. They are looking like the odd team out to not make this years playoffs. They better make some major moves fast because Shan Foster isn't gonna do it. Shan can shoot the ball but not from 23'9" yet. If he extends his range could crack a 12 man roster
Denver Nuggets Grade: D+ 2.39 Sonny Weems
The Nuggets traded their 20th pick to the Bobcats and didn't miss out on anyone that will win them the west next year. They then traded for Sonny Weems who is a great athlete but not much else. He will have a very hard time getting run with Carmelo and Kleiza ahead of him. He could just be a bigger part of a big time deal the Nuggets need to make to grab the ring.
Detroit Pistons Grade: D- 2.32 Walter Sharpe 2.46 Trent Plaisted 2.59 Deron Washington
I really didn't like what the Pistons did in this draft. Trent Plaisted is a stiff in the mold of Rafael Araujo. Your probably asking yourself who that is and that is my point. Deron Washington probably will never crack a rotation. I don't know much about Walter Sharpe but if he can turn into and Alexander Johnnson off the bench that would be solid. I expect more out of Joe Dumars and this was a very disappointing draft.
Golden State Warriors Grade: C+ 1.14 Anthony Randolph 2.49 Richard Hendrix
The Warriors drafted Anthony Randolph who has some of the most potential in this draft. He also has the potential to be blown away in a 20 mile per hour breeze. The kid is a 197 pounds. Even Kate Bosworth thinks he needs to gain weight. Didn't the Warriors take this same exact kid last year too. Brandan Wright and Randolph are almost the same players although i think Wright is going to be a great player in Oakland. I see Randolph as a Stromile Swift type guy that never lives up to his potential. Hendrix is a very big body and could be a bruiser off the bench. A lesser version of Paul Milsap.
Houston Rockets Grade: B+ 1.28 Donte Green 2.33 Joey Dorsey 2.54 Maarty Luenen
Houston grabbed three players that will help them immediately.
Donte Green will be a scoring spark off the bench with his combination of stroke and post up abilities. Donte has the potential to be a starter and could eventually put up 15 points per night. For now he will give Shane Battier and Tracy McGrady a well needed rest every once in a while. Joey Dorsey is also a good pick because it allows that 85 year old Dikembe Mutumbo to finally retire. I didn't know they allowed walkers on the court. Dorsey will get hustle buckets and block shots and the comparisons to Ben Wallace are very fair. Luenen has a very good shot to become the next Matt Bullard. He can shoot the ball from range and the Rockets love tall white guys that can shoot.
Indiana Pacers Grade: B 1.13 Brandon Rush, 1.17 Roy Hibbert
This grade includes the trade they pulled off to get T.J. Ford from the Raptors.
It was a good move for the Pacers because they would have never gotten 100% out of O' Neal. Now they have one of the fastest guards in the league. They also got a great back up in Jarrett Jack. Brandon Rush was one of my favorite players in this draft. Not because he is going to wow you with great moves or athleticism but because he always does the right thing. He is a very good shooter and a great defender. I don't ever expect him to score more than 15 points a game but his defense and basketball IQ will keep him a starter for years. As for Mr. Hibbert, i don't think so highly of him. Extremely slow and isn't that great of a shot blocker at 7'1". He is a career back up.
Los Angeles Clippers Grade: B 1.7 Eric Gordon, 2.35 DeAndre Jordan, 2.55 Mike Taylor
Its official, Michael Jordan's son is now in the NBA. Well not his real son, he sucks at basketball. His son from Space Jam Eric Gordon is now in the league.
Gordon is an extremely explosive shooting guard that can score in Hawaiian waves. He has a great jump shot and can get to the rim. He is a little undersized though and won't be able to defend bigger guards in the league. Ben Gordon is a great comparison for him and he will put up those type of numbers. I just think it is to bad that he will be lost in Clipperland. Unless they start winning no one will care about what he does. Jordan was a steal at 35. He is extremely athletic and long. The comparisons to Dwight Howard do need to stop though. Dwight Howard's super man cape has more talent than DeAndre Jordan. Best case scenario his talent develops and he is kind of like Tyson Chandler. Worse case is Kwame Brown. Well at least you can get Pau Gasol for that.
Los Angeles Lakers Grade: B- 2.58 Joe Crawford
Joe Crawford I know what your thinking, the Lakers picked referee Joe Crawford in the second round. That is crazy. With all the controversy over the Lakers and Kings series being fixed it would sound right, but the Lakers didn't select a ref. Instead it was Kentucky guard Joe Crawford. Crawford will probably never crack the rotation but it is another player Kobe can play one on one to 100 and that always helps. It is also another kid Colby Karl can talk to while wearing a suit during the playoffs. The Lakers gave up their first rounder in the Pau Gasol heist and that is why they got their grade.
Miami Heat Grade: A+ 1.2 Michael Beasley, 2.34 Mario Chalmers
The Heat came out on top in this draft. They got a guy in Beasley that will average 20 and 10 in his sleep. I wouldn't be surprised if he put up 25 to 28 a game eventually. His game is so smooth, whether it is in the post or lighting it up from three. He can either be a 3 or a 4. Pairing Beasley with Dwyane Wade makes a potent combo. The Heat are now back in the playoff discussion and when they free up cap space for next year they will be in the championship hunt.
Chalmers is a gamer as all of you know that bet money on Kansas in the National Championship. If he doesn't turn out to be a starter he will be a great back up point guard. Will definitely hit the open three from Beasley.
Memphis Grizzlies Grade: A- 1.3 O.J. Mayo, 1.27 Darrell Arthur
Don't quite understand what the Grizzlies are trying to accomplish with their team but i do know they are stockpiling a lot of guys that can play point guard. They now have 4 after trading Kevin Love for O.J. Mayo. Once the Grizzlies get rid of Kyle Lowry and Javaris Crittenton i love the Mayo pick. Mayo is going to be a star. He has the potential to average 24 points per game and be a great defender. I love Mayo as a second tier player also. If he is your number one guy then you won't win much games but if Memphis can bring in a go to guy then he will be great. O.J. will definitely be top three in rookie of the year voting.
I also love Arthur's game. He has a great mid-range shot and can make his way to the basket. reminds me a lot of Antawn Jamison. Don't expect him to rebound early but eventually can pull down 9 a game. Definite starter in this league.
Milwaukee Bucks Grade: B- 1.8 Joe Alexander, 2.37 Luc Richard Mbah a Moute
I love the trade the Bucks pulled off to acquire Richard Jefferson. It gives them another great scorer to go along with Michael Redd and a guy that can play some good defense in Scott Skiles system. What loses me is drafting two more small forwards. Joe Alexander is a great athlete and going to be a player in this league. He has more lift than Jay Cutler (the bodybuilder). He will be able to rise up and hit his jumper over anyone in this league. They might as well call him Randy Moss. The only problem is that he can not play the 4. He is undersized and over matched in strength. So i hope they find a place for him.
Prince Mbah a Moute would of been a great pick again if they had any place to play him. He will carve a niche in this league playing defense. He is like Ron Artest to me without the scoring ability and the Malice at the Palace.
Minnesota Timberwolves Grade: B+ 1.5 Kevin Love, 2.31 Nikola Pekovic
Let me just start by saying thank you to Minnesota for making the deal for Love. I would of hated hearing about the Gay-Love connection in Memphis for the next 5 years. Let me say i LOVED Minnesota's draft.
Not only did they get a bear in the post in Love, they got Mike Miller. If you didn't know Miller was the only American born white player to average 20 points per game this year. He will take a lot of pressure off the young players and allow them to play freely. Kevin Love will be a very good player for years to come. He knows how to use his body and has a very high intelligence level. His passes are things of legen. If Kevin Love doesn't eventually average 17 and 10 i would be shocked.
As for Pekovic i don't know much about him but since Kevin McHale has finally made one good move i am gonna say Pekovic will be a Hall of Famer. (joke)
New Jersey Nets Grade: A- 1.10 Brook Lopez, 1.21 Ryan Anderson, 2.39 Chris Douglas Roberts
The Brooklyn Lebron's, who many sources tell me will be there new name when they move to Brooklyn had a great draft. By trading away Richard Jefferson they freed up a whole bunch of cap space and landed Yi Jianlian who will be a lesser version of Dirk Nowitski. This team keeps getting prettier and prettier to Lebron James. They have talent at every position and by 2010 with the addition of Lebron should be ready to battle for a championship.
Now over the next two years they will not have their savior but they were handed a gift when Brook Lopez fell to them at 10. I don't think Brook will be a monster but 15 and 9 is very respectable for a center in the NBA. I also love the Ryan Anderson pick. He wouldn't be able to guard a club at night but he can shoot the lights out and looks like a guy that is just going to score. Reminds me of a young Troy Murphy. I also love Chris Douglas Roberts. The kid can flat out score the ball and every bench in the league needs a guy like him. Lebron your future awaits you. Get to work Jay.
New Orleans Hornets Grade: B No Picks
The Hornets traded the 27th pick in the draft to Portland to keep cap money available to sign a free agent 2 guard. If they land Ben Gordon then their grade goes to an A. If they don't drop it a letter. They are just some experience away from the finals.
New York Knicks Grade: C+ 1.6 Danilo Gallinari
The Knicks got booed for this pick and if I were a fan of theirs I would of been booing too. This kid may be good but who was the last European player drafted in the last 5 years to do anything. Bargnani and Millicic have been very disappointing. This kid does seem to have some talent but he looks very slow to me. His size may make up for it, but i just dont think he is that good. A pick of Bayless or Alexander would have been a better choice. I don't see Gallinari ever averaging over 17 points a game and that is stretching it.
Orlando Magic Grade: C+ 1.22 Courtney Lee
The Magic desperately needed a 2 guard and they got a very good one. Courtney Lee can shoot from the outside and at 6'5" has good size. He will step right in and continue to keep J.J. Reddick on the bench. Look for Lee to play a little like Deshawn Stevenson and if the Magic can get Stevenson production out of him they will be extremely happy.
Philadelphia 76ers Grade: B 1.16 Mareese Speights
The Sixers got a steal at 16. Speights has a chance to be a real force in three years. He has a very wide body and is extremely young. His mid range game is already solid and can get better. If he works hard in the gym and keeps his weight down 18 and 10 is not out of reach. He should be a staple of the Sixers for years to come and save them some money by not getting Elton Brand because you may already have him.
Phoenix Suns Grade: C 1.15 Robin Lopez, 2.48 Malik Hairston
The Suns are very confused about the direction they want to go in.
They draft Robin Lopez or should i say Side Show Bob and yes he will play defense and rebound for you 15 minutes a night but he does very little to improve your team. His upside is very limited and will never turn into a star. The Suns must think they can win the championship this year which is a joke. They need to start looking toward the future and a pick of Donte Green or Darrell Arthur would have been better. As for Hairston, he will be in this league for a very long time but he will get no run in Phoenix unless they make some moves to free up the wings.
Portland Trailblazers Grade: A 1.11 Jerryd Bayless, 1.25 Nicolas Batum
The Blazers had my second favorite draft of the night. They picked up their point guard of the future in Bayless and an extremely talented and athletic three in Batum. Bayless can shoot the lights out and can also take the ball to the rim with authority. He is not a true point guard at this time but he doesn't have to because Brandon Roy can handle the ball. Bayless will be the point guard when the Blazers win a championship in 5 years and will be a damned good one.
Batum is extremely athletic and long. He is only 19 years old and has plenty of time to develop. Once he develops an outside game he could be like Tracy McGrady. The Blazers stole him and he will also be a big part of their future.
Not to mention they picked up Ike Diogue from the Pacers and unloaded Jarrett Jack. Diogue can bang and is a great asset off the bench
Sacramento Kings Grade: D 1.12 Jason Thompson, 2.42 Sean Singletary, 2.43 Patrick Ewing Jr.
The Kings reached for Jason Thompson and the question is why? He was a senior who's upside does not seem high at all. He is Shelden Williams all over again and oh yeah they already have he manatee sitting on the bench. Jason will be a career backup. Singletary is very small and will be a career D-Leaguer. The only player with some sticking power is Ewing. He has a 42 inch vertical and can become a very good defender.
San Antonio Spurs Grade: C 1.26 George Hill, 2.42 Goran Dragic, 2.57 James Gist
George Hill will be a very formidable back up to Tony Parker. He is very strong and can be a good change of pace for 15 minutes a night. The player that intrigues me the most from their picks is Goran Dragic. The video i]I have seen on this kid makes me believe he can be a very good point guard. He plays very good defense and at 6'4" has great size to play the point. James Gist is very athletic but some time in the D-League will do him good.
Seattle Supersonics Grade: A 1.4 Russell Westbrook, 1.24 Serge Ibaka, 1.29 D.J. White, 2.50 Devon Hardin
The Sonics GM Sam Presti is surrounding Kevin Durant with some great defenders. Russell Westbrook is one of the most athletic players in the draft, just ask Cal or Oregon. He won Pac-10 defensive player of the year and it should translate into good defense in the league. It will take him a year or two to learn the point guard position but he will be solid. Has a chance to be a Gilbert Arenas type with less scoring. Ibaka from the Congo is only 18 years old and when he finally makes it to Oklahoma City he will be a beast. I wouldn't be surprised if he blocks 3 shots a game soon. D.J. White is a horse with a decent jump shot and should bring a spark off the bench. Hardin is a project but will bring a defensive presence right away.
Toronto Raptors Grade: B- 2.41 Nathan Jawai
Toronto made a very bold move by acquiring Jermaine O' Neal from the Pacers. I think it is a move that is going to pay off. It allows Chris Bosh to stay at the 4 and Jermaine will bring a presence in the middle and another scorer on offense. The pick of Jawai gives the Raptors another big body in the middle. He should make an impact off the bench and should be very hard to move off the block.
Utah Jazz Grade: B 1.23 Kosta Koufos, 2.44 Ante Tomic, 2.53 Tadija Dragicevic
The Jazz got an exact clone of Mehmet Okur in Kosta Koufos. That is not necessarily a good or a bad thing considering they already have Mehmet. Kosta will come off the bench and add some much needed scoring. Koufos and Paul Milsap will make a great tandem coming off the bench. Maybe one of the better center and power forward combos. Tomic is 7'2" and has a lot of upside at 21 years old. A couple more years in Europe and he will be ready to contribute for Jerry Sloan. I don't know anything about Dragicevic so good luck.
Washington Wizards Grade: D 1.18 Javale McGee
The Wizards passed up on a chance to get Darrell Arthur, an Antawn Jamison clone. If they lose him in free agency then they will be kicking themselves like wee man. Javale is extremely skinny, but I don't see much in his game that translates to much. When the best thing they can say about you during the draft is that your mom played in the WNBA your in trouble. Javale will be a bust. Should of spent another year with the Wolf Pack.