A Trip Back in Time: A Review of the 2008 NBA Draft

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A Trip Back in Time: A Review of the 2008 NBA Draft
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Rose was the first player selected in the 2008 NBA Draft

With the 2011 NBA draft on the horizon, analysts have been in full fury charting the potential of the next crop of NBA’ers. With most of the NBA world looking towards the future, I figure it would be a good idea to look backwards at the 2008 draft to see how that year’s draft has impacted the present.

While many pundits will grade and critique teams based on their draft selections this season, the notion is a little bit whimsical—critiquing players on their role as NBA players before they’ve even played a game.

The process is made more difficult by the inadequate competition levels faced by college and foreign players, not to mention the fluxuation in the talent levels of those teams’ opponents. Nonetheless, it stirs up discussion, which is always a good thing.

Most people, however, will agree that draft classes can only be judged over time, and can only begin to be judged after three years' time. With that as an introduction, I present my analysis of the 2008 NBA Draft.

Overall, 2008 was a strong class with superstar talent at the top and good depth extending into the early second round. Even the final pick of the draft, Boston’s Semih Erden, turned into a valuable player.

As usual, their were a number of traded involving picks on draft day, before draft day, and in the case of the 48th pick, six years prior to the selection being made. Trades involving draft picks occurring within a year before the draft will be counted as part of the draft because under many circumstances actual players are more important than picks.

For brevity, trades made outside that one-year window will not be analyzed.

To give context of how each player turned out in relation to what number he was drafted, I’ve created a list of the top five players at each position, and the top 10 players overall, based on talent, impact on their team to date, and player potential.

Top Five Centers

1) Brook Lopez
2) Roy Hibbert
3) DeAndre Jordan
4) Robin Lopez
5) Javalle McGee

Top Five Power Forwards

1) Kevin Love
2) Serge Ibaka
3) J.J. Hickson
4) Luc Richard Mbah A Moute
5) Jason Thompson

Top Five Small Forwards

1) Michael Beasley
2) Danilo Gallinari
3) Nicolas Batum
4) Brandon Rush
5) Donte Greene

Top Five Shooting Guards

1) Eric Gordon
2) O.J. Mayo
3) Courtney Lee
4) Chris Douglas-Roberts
5) Sonny Weems

Top Five Point Guards

1) Derrick Rose
2) Russell Westbrook
3) George Hill
4) D.J. Augustin
5) Goran Dragic

Top 10 Overall Players

1) Derrick Rose
2) Kevin Love
3) Eric Gordon
4) Russell Westbrook
5) Brook Lopez
6) O.J. Mayo
7) Serge Ibaka
8) Michael Beasley
9) Danilo Gallinari
10) George Hill

For a complete listing of every pick, click here.

* Order of team grades will be determined by which teams had the earliest remaining pick. Grades will take into account players drafted and picks traded. A number in parenthesis indicates the number of pick. A player in parenthesis indicates what player a traded pick turned into.*

Chicago Bulls

(1) Drafted Derrick Rose. (39) Drafted Sonny Weems. Traded Weems’ rights to Denver and traded the #38 pick in 2009 (Jon Brockman) and the #44 pick in 2010 (Jerome Jordan) to Portland for the rights to #39 pick Omer Asik.

Players Received: Derrick Rose, Omer Asik
Players Lost: Sonny Weems, Jon Brockman, Jerome Jordan

Review: If you remember back to 2008, there was a bit of controversy at the top of the draft as Michael Beasley had been the consensus top choice for most of the 2007-2008 season. Chicago went against the grain by selecting Rose. Three seasons later, Beasley has battled off-court problems, immaturity, and soft play and hasn’t been worthy of a top overall selection, while Rose is an MVP. Rose’s prodigious athleticism, fantastic creativity, unselfishness on the court, improved jumper, and above-average defense make Rose the most prolific player from the draft class and a legitimate superstar. Given the fact that the Bulls had to make a choice between he and Beasley, the selection is a clear-cut A+.

The second part of Chicago’s night saw them involved in a three-team deal to acquire Omer Asik for essentially, Sonny Weems, Jon Brockman, and Jerome Jordan. Jordan hasn’t played a minute in the NBA, Brockman is a strong rebounder and a good and earnest, if limited, help defender, while Sonny Weems is a somewhat talented wing still learning what he can and can’t do in the NBA. Asik, meanwhile, plays veteran level help defense with surprising athleticism. If he’s a limited offensive player, he’s worlds better than Brockman both on offense and defense, and Weems’ offense isn’t better than Asik’s defense. Give the Bulls good marks for that deal, and good marks for their overall handling of the draft.

Grade: A+


Miami Heat

(2) Drafted Michael Beasley. (34) Traded the #45 pick in 2009 (Nick Calathes), the #47 pick in 2009 (Henk Norel), and $2 million cash to Minnesota for the rights to Mario Chalmers.

Players Received: Michael Beasley, Mario Chalmers
Players Lost: Henk Norel, Nick Calathes

Review: While Beasley is still young, he hasn’t had the profound impact on the game he was expected to coming out of Kansas State. Despite being quick for his size and able to face-and-go or pull-up, he has trouble scoring around the basket, doesn’t have an advanced post game, struggles when driving into traffic, isn’t a good passer, and can’t defend. Worse, several off-court incidents call his character into question, while his inattention to detail calls into question his basketball IQ. Miami was so unimpressed with him that, while also serving a dual purpose of shedding cap space, he was dumped on Minnesota last offseason for virtually nothing (two future second round picks and cash considerations). Considering that more talented players in Kevin Love, Eric Gordon, and Brook Lopez were available, the pick has to be given a D at best.

Miami’s other move was a good one though, acquiring Mario Chalmers for cash and two dead picks from Minnesota. Chalmers is still a work in progress as a point guard, but he has good athleticism, can shoot, plays passing lanes and loose dribbles well, and occasionally plays solid positional defense. Give that pick an A, weigh the Beasley pick a bit more because it came earlier, and you get your final grade.

Grade: C+

Minnesota Timberwolves

(3) Drafted O.J. Mayo. Traded Marko Jaric, Greg Buckner, Antoine Walker, and the rights to Mayo to Memphis for the rights to #5 pick Kevin Love, Mike Miller, Brian Cardinal, and Jason Collins. (31) Drafted Nikola Pekovic. (34) Drafted Mario Chalmers. Traded his rights to Miami for the #45 pick in 2009 (Nick Calathes), the #47 pick in 2009 (Henk Norel), and $2 million cash.

Players Received: Kevin Love, Mike Miller, Brian Cardinal, Jason Collins, Nikola Pekovic, Nick Calathes, Henk Norel
Players Lost: O.J. Mayo, Marko Jaric, Greg Buckner, Antoine Walker, Mario Chalmers

Review: In a vacuum, Kevin Love may be better than O.J. Mayo, but Love hasn’t been what the T-Wolves have needed. The T-Wolves haven’t had a wing who could create his own shot since Latrell Sprewell was trying to feed his family, and have been one of the least athletic teams of the past three years. Mayo’s ability to create his own shot and play strong on-ball defense would have proven much more advantageous to Minnesota than Love’s rebounding, shooting, and garbageman buckets. With Al Jefferson entrenched at the time as a quasi-dependable interior scorer, the appropriate pick would have been to select Mayo who could have complemented Jefferson a little better.

None of the other players were expected to be impact players, except for Mike Miller who struggled dreadfully during his stay in Minnesota. Nikola Pekovic’ best trait is his offensive rebounding, but he’s another low-impact player who would have been better served as Omer Asik. The final deal gifted Mario Chalmers to Miami for a few million dollars and some non-NBA players. While a decent, but unspectacular point guard may not have been the best pick with Minnesota’s point-guard heavy drafts the past few seasons, the Chalmers trade didn’t fetch equal talent in return. At the least, Chalmers is a better player than Johnny Flynn.

Botched drafts keep lottery teams in the lottery. The T-Wolves botching of the 2008 draft continues to leave Minnesota short on athleticism and impact scorers.

Grade: D

Seattle Supersonics

(4) Drafted Russell Westbrook. (24) In 2007, Seattle acquired the #24 pick, Kurt Thomas, and the #26 pick in 2010 (Quincy Pondexter) from Phoenix for the #57 pick in 2009 (Emir Preldzic) and $9 million dollars. Drafted Serge Ibaka. (29) In 2007, Seattle traded Ray Allen and Glen Davis to Boston for Wally Szczerbiak, Delonte West, Jeff Green, and the #46 pick. Used the #32 pick to draft Walter Sharpe. Used the #46 pick to draft Trent Plaisted. Traded the rights to Walter Sharpe and Trent Plaisted to Detroit for the rights to #29 pick D.J. White. (50) Drafted DeVon Hardin. (56) In 2007, Seattle traded the rights to Carl Landry for the pick and cash. Drafted Sasha Kaun, then sold his rights to Cleveland.

Players Received: Russell Westbrook, Kurt Thomas, Quincy Pondexter, Serge Ibaka, Wally Szczerbiak, Delonte West, Jeff Green, D.J. White, DeVon Hardin
Players Lost: Emir Preldzic, Ray Allen, Glen Davis, Walter Sharpe, Trent Plaisted, Carl Landry

Review: With the Sonics, later the Thunder, in heavy rebuilding mode, they were heavily active during the 2008 draft. Their first course of action was to draft Russell Westbrook. While Westbrook still isn’t a point guard, a problem that hurt the Thunder during their last two playoff runs, he is an extremely talented player, which on a rebuilding team, takes maximum precedence. Westbrook’s blinding speed and wondrous ability to break down a defense have helped the Thunder reach the playoffs twice the last two seasons, and the Western Conference Finals last year.

The second part of the draft saw the Sonics buy Kurt Thomas and what would eventually become Quincy Pondexter and Serge Ibaka. Thomas was an old veteran even then and his influence was more intangible than anything, while Pondexter may be a useful player in the league. However, Serge Ibaka is shaping up to be one of the premier shot-blocking big men in the NBA. He has fantastic instincts, length, and athleticism that make finishing at the rim a chore for Thunder opponents. Ibaka also projects to be a good individual defender, though he isn’t quite there yet, struggling with positioning, and foul trouble. Offensively, Ibaka has an underdeveloped but improving jumper and hook shot, and he’s fantastic in transition and on broken plays. He’s a steal for a total of $9 million dollars and a non-prospect in Emir Preldzic.

The previous offseason’s Ray Allen trade wasn’t as successful as the Sonics’ 2008 draft as Jeff Green never panned out as a reliable player and everyone else was just future cap space. The saving grace is the lack of forward talent behind Green in the draft. You can argue even in hindsight that he was the best forward available. The last vestiges of the trade manifested in an inconsequential Trent Plaisted and Walter Sharpe for D.J. White swap.

The DeVon Hardin pick was acquired in 2006 in the deal that sent Reggie Evans to Denver. The trade was outside the one-year window I set, so Hardin won’t be compared against players involved in the deal. He hasn’t played in the NBA, and normally it’s hard to find fault with the pick since most 50th picks don’t make it to the NBA. However, Semih Erden and Darnell Jackson were picked after Hardin and have had some success, bringing the Hardin pick down.

In 2007, the Sonics traded Carl Landry for what would eventually become Sasha Kaun, then sold Kaun for cash. Given Landry’s ability to carve out a niche for himself as a hard-working, effort power forward, the Sonics swung and missed on Landry.

The Westbrook trade nets the Sonics an A, while buying Serge Ibaka does the same. The Ray Allen trade ultimately yielded disappointing results, though the trade may have been the best available deal. Give it a C+. Selecting DeVon Hardin was an F, all things considered, as was giving away Carl Landry.

Since the tops of drafts are weighted heavier than what happens in the late second round, the Sonics get a B+ for their work.

Grade: B+

Memphis Grizzlies

(5) Drafted Kevin Love, then traded Love’s rights, Mike Miller, Brian Cardinal, and Jason Collins to Minnesota for the rights to #3 pick O.J. Mayo, Antoine Walker, Greg Buckner, and Marko Jaric. (28) That season, traded Pau Gasol and the #43 pick in 2010 (Devin Ebanks) to the Los Angeles Lakers for the pick, Kwame Brown, Javaris Crittenton, Aaron McKie, the rights to Marc Gasol, and the #28 pick in 2010 (Grevis Vasquez). Memphis used the pick to draft Donte Greene then traded his rights and the #36 pick in 2009 (Sam Young) to Houston for the rights to #27 pick Darrell Arthur.

Players Received: O.J. Mayo, Antoine Walker, Greg Bucker, Marko Jaric, Kwame Brown, Javaris Crittenton, Aaron McKie, Marc Gasol, Grevis Vasquez, Darrell Arthur
Players Lost: Kevin Love, Mike Miller, Brian Cardinal, Jason Collins, Pau Gasol, Devin Ebanks, Donte Greene, Sam Young.

Review: When teams transition from playoff clubs into fully rebuilding squads, they usually undergo massive turnover to get their finances in line and secure draft assets. The 2008 Grizzlies were no exception having traded away most of the core of their roster between 2007 and 2008.

Having to trade Pau Gasol, the Grizzlies acquired several picks that turned into Grevis Vasquez and Darrell Arthur. The Grizzlies also received cap space due to Kwame Brown’s massive expiring contract that was eventually used to take on Zach Randolph while extending Randolph and Rudy Gay. Finally, the Grizzlies received a pair of  up-and-coming players. One wouldn’t work out in Javaris Crittenton, while Marc Gasol has become one of the most complete centers in the league.

Considering how teams rarely get value back when trading superstars, the Grizzlies were able to essentially obtain a top-flight frontcourt, and two sharp backups, while obtaining some cash to extend the team’s two most talented players. All things considered, the Grizzlies made out quite well and earn a B+ for how they handled the Gasol deal.

Draft day saw the Grizzlies trade Mike Miller and Kevin Love for O.J. Mayo. To date, Love has been the better player, due to his fantastic rebounding, improved shooting, respectable shot-creating ability and sharp passing. Meanwhile, Mayo was chiefly a volume-scoring isolation player for the first two-and-a-half years of his NBA career. Considering Rudy Gay’s presence on the roster, Mayo was somewhat superfluous, but then again Love wasn’t the dreadnaught post scorer the Grizzlies would eventually find in Zach Randolph.

Plus, after finding himself benched and nearly traded, Mayo’s shot selection improved, his respectable defense became stronger, he became a better ball-mover on offense, all without subduing his explosive talent. By the time the postseason rolled around, Mayo was the second best player on a team that was one win away from the conference finals.

While most of the rest of the Mayo-Love swap involved contracts more than players, the Grizzlies were wise to send Mike Miller packing as he would never regain the success he saw in Memphis. This deal also gives the Grizzlies a B+.

Grade: B+

New York Knicks

(6) Drafted Danilo Gallinari. (36) In 2007, New York traded the pick (wound up in Chicago as Omer Asik), Steve Francis, Channing Frye and the rights to Demetrius Nichols to Portland for Zach Randolph, Fred Jones, and Dan Dickau.

Players Received: Danilo Gallinari, Zach Randolph, Fred Jones, Dan Dickau
Players Lost: Steve Francis, Channing Frye, Demetrius Nichols, Omer Asik

Review: The Zach Randolph trade was a disaster for the Knicks as Isaiah Thomas couldn’t force Randolph to abandon the bad habits that crippled his ability to maximize his skillset. For reasons that extend beyond Randolph, his tenure with the Knicks was a train wreck easily forgotten. Dan Dickau and Fred Jones were inconsequential pickups in their own right. The Knicks did purge themselves of a washed up Steve Francis in the deal, while Channing Frye has gone on to thrive in the one location that fully maximizes his one skill—shooting the three. Demetrius Nichols is the fringest of NBA players, while Omer Asik had a promising rookie season and has potential to at least be a terrific rotation big due to his defense.

Given that Lionel Hollins appears to be the first coach to properly motivate Randolph to play team ball, we won’t punish the Knicks too badly for his rejuvenation. However, of all the players in the trade, it’s likely that Channing Frye would have been the best fit as a floor-stretcher within Mike D’Antoni’s offensive system. No matter how you look at it, the Randolph trade was a failure, both in his inability to produce in the present, and the fact that the Knicks gave away young assets in Frye and Asik for the future.

As for their own pick, Gallinari isn’t quite the scorer or all-around offensive player that Eric Gordon is, but he’s versatile, fits well within offensive systems, and plays above-average defense. There were better players chosen after Gallinari, but he’s not a bust. Still, on the whole, it wasn’t a strong draft for the Knicks.

Grade: D

Los Angeles Clippers

(7) Drafted Eric Gordon. (35) DeAndre Jordan. (55) Traded the #33 pick in 2009 (Dante Cunningham) to Portland for the rights to #55 pick Mike Taylor.

Players Received: Eric Gordon, DeAndre Jordan, Mike Taylor
Players Lost: Dante Cunningham

Review: Gordon is a fantastic scorer who can create his own shot, hit spot-up jumpers, finish at the rim, and excel in a broken field. He’s a good passer to boot, and can play backup point guard in a pinch. His lack of size hinders him some as a point guard, but he’s becoming one of the game’s finest two-guards. DeAndre Jordan is a fantastic shot-blocker. While he has no idea how to play defense without selling out to swat shots, his athleticism is fantastic. He can also finish on the break and dunk in lobs on offense. While Omer Asik is the better defender because of his awareness, Jordan has more upside and is a better offensive player.

The Clippers got tremendous value with each of their first two picks and deserve A’s for each. Dante Cunningham is a useful athletic forward who sometimes cracks Portland’s rotation, while Mike Taylor is out of the league. The Clippers missed with that pick, but it doesn’t detract much from their draft.

Review: A-

Milwaukee Bucks

(8) Drafted Joe Alexander. (37) Drafted Luc Richard Mbah A Moute.

Review: Joe Alexander lacked the skills to thrive in the NBA, never found a position, and is currently in the D-League. Especially considering Brook Lopez was taken two picks away, the Alexander pick was a huge bust and netted Milwaukee virtually no value.

Luc Richard Mbah A Moute, however, may be the best overall defender of the entire draft, with Serge Ibaka his only competition. Mbah a Moute’s lateral quickness and length allows him to defend ball screens on the perimeter and athletic fours especially well, and he’s tough to score on in the post and on isolations as well. Mbah A Moute has virtually zero offensive skills however so he’s strictly a niche performer, and the Bucks needed and still need offense more than anything. However, getting a valuable rotation player in the early second round is always a plus. Still, the wasted Alexander pick is a stain on their draft.

Grade: D+

Charlotte Bobcats

(9) Drafted D.J. Augustin. (20) Traded the #16 pick in 2010 (Luke Babbitt) for the pick. Drafted Alexis Ajinca. (38) Drafted Kyle Weaver.

Players Received: D.J. Augustin, Alexis Ajinca, Kyle Weaver
Players Lost: Luke Babbitt

Review: Larry Brown wasn’t enamored with Raymond Felton and spent his first round pick on D.J. Augustin. This turned out to be a poor decision for several reasons. For starters, Felton has come into his own the past few seasons as a good decision-making screen/roll player, and is in the top half of NBA point guards. Secondly, Augustin, who is a frequent defensive mismatch because of his small stature, and isn’t as adept at breaking his man off the dribble as he needs to be, wasn’t the best point guard available at the time. Hindsight has shown that George Hill has been the better overall player. Finally, the Bobcats lacked a low post scorer and missed a chance to draft Brook Lopez, easily the most accomplished post player in the class, who was taken one spot after.

The Luke Babbitt-Alexis Ajinca trade is a wash as neither player has put together an NBA resume. Kyle Weaver is out of the league, while Sonny Weems, taken one spot after Weaver, is a sometimes starter for the Raptors. Not a good draft at all for the Bobcats.

Grade: D-

New Jersey Nets

(10) Drafted Brook Lopez. (21) Traded Jason Kidd, Malik Allen, and Antoine Wright to Dallas for the pick, the #27 pick in 2010 (wound up in Atlanta as Jordan Crawford), Devin Harris, DeSagana Diop, Trenton Hassell, Maurice Ager, Keith Van Horn, and $3 million dollars. Used the pick to draft Ryan Anderson. (40) Drafted Chris Douglas-Roberts.

Players Received: Brook Lopez, Devin Harris, DeSagana Diop, Trent Hassell, Maurice Ager, Keith Van Horn, Ryan Anderson, Chris Douglas-Roberts
Players Lost: Jason Kidd, Malik Allen, Antoine Wright

Review: The Jason Kidd trade signaled a rebuilding stage for the Nets. However, all they got out of the deal were players used to make the financials of the deal work, future cap relief, the athletically limited Ryan Anderson, and Devin Harris—a quick attacking point guard that isn’t a great decision maker or distributor. While Harris is a starting-caliber point guard, and Anderson is a rotation big, the Nets certainly could have gotten more for Kidd, whose talents and savvy helped the Mavericks win a championship this season.

New Jersey did better with its own selections. Brook Lopez is a touch soft in the post, a sloth on defense, and a timid rebounder, but his size, breadth, and touch make both him a reliable scorer in the post, and a guy who can step out to 18 feet and knock down a jump shot. Chris Douglas-Roberts was the best wing available at the 40th pick, and while he still needs work on his jump shot, he’s an explosive slasher who can create offense around the rim.

Balance out the fact that Ryan Anderson could have been Serge Ibaka and Devin Harris wasn’t equal value for Jason Kidd, with the smart pickups of Lopez and Douglas-Roberts, and the Nets had themselves an average draft.

Review: C+

Indiana Pacers

(11) Drafted Jerryd Bayless. Traded the rights to Bayless and Ike Diogu to Portland for Jarrett Jack, Josh McRoberts, and the rights to #13 pick Brandon Rush. (17) Traded Jermaine O’Neal and the rights to #41 pick Nathan Jawai to Toronto for the rights to #17 pick Roy Hibbert, T.J. Ford, Rasho Nesterovic, and Maceo Baston.

Players Received: Jarrett Jack, Josh McRoberts, Brandon Rush, Roy Hibbert, T.J. Ford, Rasho Nesterovic, Maceo Baston
Players Lost: Jerryd Bayless, Ike Diogu, Jermaine O’Neal, Nathan Jawai

Review: Brandon Rush has been an ineffective offensive player for the early part of his career, though he developed into an excellent help defender last season and has become a reliable spot-up shooter. Meanwhile, Jerryd Bayless is an impulsive playmaking guard who makes things happen—for his team or for the opponents. While neither player stands out as being much better than the other, the Pacers acquired the two best non-rookies in the deal. Jarrett Jack is one of the best backup point guards in the game, while Josh McRoberts has evolved into a rugged, athletic backup big. Meanwhile, Ike Diogu seldom gets off the bench. Give the Pacers a grade a little better than average for getting more value out of their end of the trade.

Jermaine O’Neal at the time was a brittle, oft-injured power forward who couldn’t be effective for long stretches of time. By shipping him out, the Pacers received a useful center in Hibbert who has the second most advanced post game of anybody from the class. The Pacers didn’t have a spectacular draft, but they ended up getting some value out of their trades and acquired some strong complementary players going forward.

Grade: B-

Sacramento Kings

(12) Drafted Jason Thompson. (42) Traded Mike Bibby to Atlanta for the pick, Lorenzen Wright, Sheldon Williams, Tyronn Lue, and Anthony Johnson. Used the pick to draft Sean Singletary. (43) Drafted Patrick Ewing Jr.

Players Received: Jason Thompson, Lorenzen Wright, Sheldon Williams, Tyronn Lue, Anthony Johnson, Sean Singletary, Patrick Ewing Jr.
Players Lost: Mike Bibby

Review: Mike Bibby had value as a screen/roll shooter and good decision maker but the best Sacramento got for him was some cap space and megabust Sheldon Williams. The Kings could have gotten more value out of trading Bibby, at least a late first round pick. Meanwhile, Jason Thompson is an athletic, finesse center still developing his offensive game while learning how to defend. Given how Serge Ibaka was also a project at the time and has developed into a superior all-around player, Ibaka would have been the better choice. Patrick Ewing Jr. hasn’t found a niche in the NBA and could have been Goran Dragic. The Kings didn’t have a particularly successful draft considering what they could have had.

Grade: D

Portland Trail Blazers

(15) Drafted Brandon Rush then traded his rights, Josh McRoberts, and Jarrett Jack to Indiana for the rights to #13 pick Jerryd Bayless and Ike Diogu. (25) Drafted Darrell Arthur with the #25 pick and Joey Dorsey with the #33 pick. Traded the rights to Arthur and Dorsey to Houston for the rights to #25 pick Nicolas Batum. (36) In 2007, traded Zach Randolph, Dan Dickau, Fred Jones, and Demetrius Nichols to New York for Channing Frye, Steve Francis and the pick. Used the pick to draft Omer Asik then traded his rights to Chicago for the rights to the #38 pick in 2009 (Jon Brockman), the #55 pick in 2009 (Patty Mills), and #44 pick in 2010 (ended up in New York as Jerome Jordan). (55) Drafted Mike Taylor, then traded his rights to the Los Angeles Clippers for the #33 pick in 2009 (Dante Cunningham).

Players Received: Jerryd Bayless, Ike Diogu, Nicolas Batum, Channing Frye, Steve Francis, Jon Brockman, Patty Mills, Jerome Jordan Dante Cunningham
Players Lost: Brandon Rush, Josh McRoberts, Jarrett Jack, Darrell Arthur, Joey Dorsey, Zach Randolph, Dan Dickau, Fred Jones, Demetrius Nichols, Mike Taylor

Review: Portland was universally praised for how they handled the 2008 draft, though ultimately, most of their maneuverings had little on-court consequences. Their biggest splash actually came the prior offseason when they unloaded Zach Randolph on the Knicks. In return they got nothing more than delayed cap relief in Steve Francis, an inconsequential two seasons from Channing Frye, stocky non-rotation defender Jon Brockman, and micro-sized backup point guard Patty Mills. Portland gained eventual financial flexibility in the deal as well—but their contract extension to the athletically sapped Brandon Roy, and their free agent signing of rangeless Andre Miller haven’t taken the Blazers to the next level.

For the 2008 portion of the draft, Brandon Rush manned a position occupied by Brandon Roy, and has struggled to create his own offense in the NBA, so the Blazers were smart not to put too much stock in him—but Jerryd Bayless was too reckless and mistake prone and was finally jettisoned from Portland this year. While Josh McRoberts has found a home in Indiana’s rotation, and Jarrett Jack continues to do play smart, tough, if not overly flashy basketball, the Blazers also gained Ike Diogu from the deal, a perpetual 11th man. While the deal wasn’t the worst in the world, it didn’t make the Blazers significantly better.

Trading Darrell Arthur and Joey Dorsey to acquire Nicolas Batum wasn’t a bad move as Batum is a top flight defender who can play multiple positions. While the Blazers deserve a small plus for the deal, Batum is still limited offensively, while Arthur’s athleticism and impressive mid-range shooting make him a quality player in his own right. Give the Blazers credit for their final piece of work, leveraging a late-second round draft pick into Dante Cunningham, a forward who may have a future in the league as Mike Taylor finds himself out of it. The Blazers didn’t have a bad draft. But it wasn’t as special as it was made out to be.

Grade: C+

Golden State Warriors

(14) Drafted Anthony Randolph. (49) Drafted Richard Hendrix.

Review: The Warriors took a chance by drafting the hyper athletic Randolph, and it didn’t pay off as Randolph is on his third team. Fundamentally poor, and very lean, Randolph is mistake-prone and a subpar defender who hasn’t caught up to his talent level. Serge Ibaka is a good enough finisher on broken plays that he can’t be ignored and his high-flying athleticism would have fit in well with Golden State. Plus his defense would have cleaned up the  mistakes of his teammates, with his blocked shots and rebounds fueling transition opportunities. Ibaka would have been the better choice. Hendrix never played a second in the NBA. This isn’t a colossal oversight as most late second round picks don’t make it to the NBA. Semih Erden and Darnell Jackson were picked after Hendrix but haven’t been huge difference makers.

Grade: D+

Phoenix Suns

(15) Drafted Robin Lopez. (24) In 2007, traded the pick (Serge Ibaka), the #26 in 2010 (Quincy Pondexter), and Kurt Thomas to Seattle for the #57 pick in 2009 (Emir Preldzic) and a $9 million trade exception. (45) Traded the rights to # 48 pick Malik Hairston and the #37 pick in 2009 (DeJuan Blair) to San Antonio for the rights to #45 pick Goran Dragic.

Players Received: Robin Lopez, Emir Preldzic, Goran Dragic
Players Lost: Kurt Thomas, Quincy Pondexter, Serge Ibaka, Malik Hairston, DeJuan Blair

Review: Is Robin Lopez a better player than Serge Ibaka? Ibaka is a better rebounder and defender, especially in space and from the weak side. Lopez may have a slightly more effective post game, but Ibaka has more range on his jumper and is more active around the basket. Ibaka’s fantastic defensive upside and developing offense all rate as better than Lopez’ floor bound game.

Dragic has had one strong season in Phoenix and one strong half season in Houston. He’s a talented offensive player, but incredibly streaky and reckless with the ball. Meanwhile, DeJuan Blair is one of the game’s most consistently reliable rebounders. He’s improving his creativity around the basket to finish consistently, and he’s a passable defender.

The Suns didn’t swing and miss, but they didn’t get the better player in either trade.

Grade: C-

Philadelphia 76ers

(16) Drafted Marreese Speights.

Review: Speights is a talented who can create his own shot and knock down jumpers, but he has terrible defensive awareness and makes too many mistakes to be relied upon in crunch time. That being said, of the players who were available with the Sixers pick, Speights’s is still the most talented offensive player which shouldn’t be discounted. Even if Speights doesn’t fully realize his potential, he’ll still have value for his ability to create his own shot. However, it’s time for him to start putting things together and play crisper basketball.

Grade: C

Toronto Raptors

(17) Drafted Roy Hibbert then traded his rights, T.J. Ford, Rasho Nesterovic, and Maceo Baston to Indiana for Jermaine O’Neal and the rights to #41 pick Nathan Jawai. (45) In 2007, traded the pick (wound up in Phoenix as Goran Dragic) to San Antonio for Giorgos Printezis.

Players Received: Jermaine O’Neal, Nathan Jawai, Giorgos Printezis
Players Lost: Roy Hibbert, T. J. Ford, Rasho Nesterovic, Maceo Baston, Goran Dragic

Review: The Raptors decided to pair Jermaine O’Neal with Chris Bosh and received half a season worth of inconsequential play from O’Neal before flipping him to Miami. Toronto had no defensive presence with the duo, and O’Neal was often injured or playing hurt. Simply by keeping their cards, the Raptors could have at least drafted Roy Hibbert giving the team an interior offensive presence they’ve lacked almost throughout the franchise’s existence. The Raptors second round pick was swapped the year prior for Giorgos Printezis, a player who likely will never see the NBA. The pick they swapped turned into Goran Dragic, a talented player who has provided a year and a half of excellent backup work and could someday be a starter in the league. By all accounts, the Raptors made the wrong moves involving the 2008 draft and are paying the price today.

Grade: F

Washington Wizards

(18) Drafted JaVale McGee. (47) Drafted Bill Walker, then sold his rights to Boston for cash.

Players Received: JaVale McGee
Players Lost: Bill Walker

Review: With Serge Ibaka as the standard to judge all 2008 project big men, McGee grades out as substandard. While McGee is terrific at selling out for blocked shots, he doesn’t play positional defense as well as Ibaka, and his rotations are often faulty. Offensively, neither player is adept at creating his own offense, though each is active around the rim and the offensive glass. The major difference is that Ibaka has developed a 20-foot jump shot while McGee’s range is still extremely limited. Ibaka has played fewer years in the NBA and already has more polish and is younger. The Wizards took the wrong guy.

With the Wizards’ second pick, they decided to sell away Bill Walker, a player whose skill set includes decent shooting with athletic cutting and dunking. The Wizards fancied themselves a contender that offseason, and the cash could have proven more valuable than a second round pick, but the Wizards have been strapped for wing talent since Caron Butler and Gilbert Arenas began losing their battles with injury and age, and Walker has proven to be a decent enough player to be worth an opportunity.

Grade: D

Cleveland Cavaliers

(19) Drafted J.J. Hickson. (52) Traded the #60 pick in 2009 (Robert Dozier) to Miami for the rights to #52 pick Darnell Jackson. (56) Bought Sasha Kaun from the Seattle Supersonics.

Players Received: J.J. Hickson, Darnell Jackson, Sasha Kaun
Players Lost: Robert Dozier

Review: J.J. Hickson has some skills, but he’s not a player who commands double teams on the block, his jump shot is spotty, and he has bad hands. This is before you mention the fact that he doesn’t box out on the boards and is a hopeless defender. He’s still the most polished post player taken at his spot in the draft, but he’s not really an offensive difference maker and he’s a defensive liability. His selection therefore only warrants a C. Essentially swapping Robert Dozier for Darnell Jackson is a miniature plus as Jackson is still an NBA 12th man while Dozier never played in the NBA. Buying Sasha Kaun was ineffectual.

Grade: C+

Orlando Magic

(22) Drafted Courtney Lee. (52) In 2007, Orlando relinquished the rights to Stanko Barac and the pick to Miami as compensation for hiring Stan Van Gundy. Miami drafted Darnell Jackson.

Players Received: Courtney Lee
Players Lost: Stanko Barac, Darnell Jackson

Review: Not too much to say here. Courtney Lee is a very good on-ball perimeter defender who struggles a bit in defending the post. More of a defensive player, Lee still provides offensive worth as a terrific spot-up shooter and an athletic cutter, and was good enough to start for a team that made the NBA Finals. There were several combo guards taken after Lee who have been productive early in their careers, but no true two-guards, and taking George Hill would have left the Magic with two point guards (which would’ve become one after Jameer Nelson went down to injury) and a void at the shooting guard position on their run to the Finals. Lee provided immediate returns in that regard.

The Magic lost their second round pick as compensation for signing Stan Van Gundy. Van Gundy has been a better coach than Barac or Jackson have been players, so no harm there.

Grade: B+

Utah Jazz

(23) Drafted Kosta Koufos. (44) Drafted Ante Tomic. (53) Drafted Tadija Dragicevic.

Review: Serge Ibaka, DeAndre Jordan, Nicolas Batum, even Omer Asik and Luc Richard Mbah A Moute, all those players have had more impact on the NBA than Koufos, a limited offensive player with poor athleticism on offense and recognition on defense. While none of the above players is an offensive stalwart, they all project to be much more better defenders over their careers. Utah acquired its first second round pick in a 2005 second-round swap, and used both their second round picks to stash away foreign players. Wouldn’t the Ante Tomic pick look better if it were Goran Dragic? As for Dragicievic, 53rd overall picks seldom make the NBA, and the crop of players drafted after him hasn’t impressed, so that deal gets a neutral C. The rest of the draft gets a major F.

Grade: F

Houston Rockets:

(25) Drafted Nicolas Batum then traded him to Portland for the draft rights to #28 Donte Greene and the draft rights to #33 Joey Dorsey. (54) Traded Bonzi Wells, Mike James, and Malick Badiane to New Orleans for Bobby Jackson, Adam Haluska, Marcus Vinicius Viera de Souza, and the pick. Drafted Maarty Leunen. (56) In 2007, traded the pick (Sasha Kaun) to Seattle for the rights to Carl Landry.

Players Received: Donte Greene, Joey Dorsey, Bobby Jackson, Adam Haluska, Marcus Vinicius Viera de Souza, Maarty Leunen, Carl Landry
Players Lost: Nicolas Batum, Bonzi Wells, Mike James, Malick Badiane, Sasha Kaun

Review: Trading Nicolas Batum for Donte Greene and Joey Dorsey wasn’t a smart move. While the deal is mitigated by the fact that the Rockets had Shane Battier, and would later acquire Ron Artest, making Batum redundant, he’s still the far better player in the deal. Greene is impulsive and lands in and out of coaches’ doghouses, while Dorsey splits time between the NBA and the D-League.

The Bonzi Wells trade was mostly addition by subtraction as Wells and Mike James were shot-happy, score-first players who provided little else, though Bobby Jackson was largely ineffective down the stretch and was mutilated by Deron Williams that postseason.

The 2007 Carl Landry trade was the best move Houston made involving the 2008 draft, netting a valuable player almost for free.

Grade: B-

San Antonio Spurs

(26) Drafted George Hill. (45) In 2007, traded the rights to Giorgos Printezis to Toronto for the pick (Goran Dragic). Traded the pick to Phoenix for the rights to #48 pick Malik Hairston and the #37 pick in 2008 (DeJuan Blair). (57) Drafted James Gist.

Players Received: George Hill, Malik Hairston, DeJuan Blair, James Gist
Players Lost: Giorgos Printezis

Review: The Spurs had an outstanding draft. People rave about Hill as a player. He can create his own shot, he has three-point range, he’s a good finisher, and a good defender. He’s only an average passer for a point guard, but he was easily the best overall point guard available in the draft.

Since the Spurs never originally had Goran Dragic, in net, the Spurs couldn’t have lost him. Instead, he’s a conduit for a pair of other trades, trades that essentially landed DeJuan Blair and Malik Hairston for Giorgos Printezis. Getting the rebounding machine Blair, plus an NBA 12th man in Hairston, for a player who may never play in the league is an absolute steal.

Grade: A

New Orleans Hornets

(27) Drafted Darrell Arthur then sold him to Portland. (54) Traded Bobby Jackson, Adam Haluska, Marcus Vinicius Viera de Souza, and the pick (Maarty Leunen) to Houston for Bonzi Wells, and Mike James.

Players Received: Darrell Arthur, Bonzi Wells, Mike James
Players Lost: Bobby Jackson, Adam Haluska, Marcus Vinicius Viera de Souza, Maarty Leunen)

Review: The Hornets operate in an unstable market and need to be financially prudent in order to exist. Still, Arthur is evolving into a lethal mid-range jump shooter, who has a nice reverse-pivot fadeaway on the block, and great athleticism in the open floor. For a Hornets team that could have used some frontcourt scoring off the bench the past three seasons, losing Arthur hurt the team’s ability to perform on the court.

Bonzi Wells was so bad during the 2008 postseason, that he would never play in the NBA again, while Mike James was benched as the backup during the playoffs to Jannero Pargo. Marty Leunen isn’t an NBA player, while Bobby Jackson struggled in Houston during their playoff campaign, making the trade a failure from all angles.

Grade: D

Detroit Pistons

(29) Drafted D.J. White, then traded him to Seattle for the rights to #32 pick Walter Sharpe and #46 pick Trent Plaisted. (59) Deron Washington

Players Received: Walter Sharpe, Trent Plaisted, Deron Washington
Players Lost: D.J. White

None of the players involved in the White trade have had a substantial NBA career, though White showed glimpses of potentially being part of a rotation down the stretch for Charlotte last season. That’s more than can be said of the other two players who are now out of the league. Detroit traded away the best player in the deal for two non-NBA’ers.

Grade: F

Boston Celtics

(30) Drafted J.R. Giddens. (47) Bought the rights to Bill Walker from Washington. 60) Drafted Semih Erden.

Review: Drafting Giddens was a busted pick, as there were all manner of two-guards available to be selected better than Giddens, from Sonny Weems to Chris Douglas-Roberts. Bill Walker was worth taking a flier on as his athleticism and shooting have enabled him to crack the Knicks’ rotation. Finding a 60th pick who can play somewhat reliable basketball is a terrific find.

Grade: C

Dallas Mavericks

(21) Traded the pick (Ryan Anderson), the #27 pick in 2010 (wound up in Atlanta as Jordan Crawford), Devin Harris, DeSagana Diop, Trenton Hassell, Maurice Ager, and Keith Van Horn to New Jersey for Jason Kidd, Malik Allen, and Antoine Wright. (51) Drafted Shan Foster.

Players Received: Jason Kidd, Malik Allen, Antoine Wright, Shan Foster
Players Lost: Ryan Anderson, Jordan Crawford, Devin Harris, DeSagana Diop, Trenton Hassell, Maurice Ager, Keith Van Horn

Review: Heavily criticized after the first postseason following the trade, acquiring Jason Kidd turned out to be one of the decisions that allowed the Mavs to eventually win a championship. Kidd’s ability to get the ball to the right players at the right time, his ability to defend shooting guards, his ability to limit mistakes, and his improved shooting made him one of the most valuable contributors to Dallas’ 2010 championship squad. Contrast this with Devin Harris’ inability to find open players, his poor shooting, and his poor defense on Dwyane Wade during the Mavs’ first championship bout with Miami, and you’ll see how important Kidd has been. Giving up Harris, Ryan Anderson, Jordan Crawford, and contracts for a championship contributor is an obvious success.

Grade: A+

Los Angeles Lakers

(28) Traded Kwame Brown, Javaris Crittenton, Aaron McKie, Marc Gasol, the pick (wound up in Houston as Donte Greene), and the #28 pick in 2010 (Grevis Vasquez) to Memphis for Pau Gasol and the #43 pick in 2010 (Devin Ebaks). (58) Drafted Joe Crawford.

Players Received: Pau Gasol, Devin Ebanks, Joe Crawford
Players Lost: Kwame Brown, Javaris Crittenton, Aaron McKie, Marc Gasol, Donte Greene, Grevis Vasquez

Review: Pau Gasol made the Lakers an elite team after his acquisition and was the best big man in the game from 2008-2010. He was arguably the best Laker during their two championships, outplaying Dwight Howard and Kevin Garnett during the 2009 and 2010 NBA Finals respectively. While Marc Gasol has a bright future, none of the players traded for Pau are in his stratosphere, and none would’ve helped the Lakers make it to three NBA Finals and win two the way Pau did. One bad postseason doesn’t eclipse the three previous seasons Pau provided the Lakers.

Grade: A+

Denver Nuggets

(20) Traded the pick (Alexis Ajinca) to Charlotte for the #16 pick in 2010 (wound up in Portland as Luke Babbitt). (39) Acquired the rights to #39 pick Sonny Weems from Chicago for the #55 pick in 2009 (Patty Mills).

Players Received: Luke Babbitt, Sonny Weems
Players Lost: Alexis Ajinca, Patty Mills

Review: Neither Luke Babbitt nor Alexis Ajinca has made a difference yet early in their careers so that trade is a wash. Sonny Weems’ athleticism has given him a starting role in Toronto, though he has no range, while Patty Mills is a pint-sized backup still learning the game. Thus far, Weems has had the better career, though he has the benefit having played an extra season. Neither deal has yielded much of an advantage for either team.

Grade: C

Atlanta Hawks

(42) Traded the pick (Sean Singletary), Anthony Johnson, Tyronn Lue, Sheldon Williams, and Lorenzen Wright to Sacramento for Mike Bibby.

Players Received: Mike Bibby
Players Lost: Sean Singletary, Anthony Johnson, Tyronn Lue, Sheldon Williams, Lorenzen Wright

Review: Mike Bibby was a nice addition to the Hawks, giving them some ball-handling stability and outside shooting. None of the players Atlanta gave away went on to achieve much success, making the Hawks the clear winners in the deal. Their first round pick was given away earlier in the decade to acquire Joe Johnson.

Grade: A

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