1. New Jersey Nets– Sweet sassy molassy did they do an amazing job. The best way to think about what they did is to put it in the context of their twin goals.
(1) Clear money so they can sign Lebron in the 2010 offseason.
(2) Get talent
They did both of those, and did them astonishigly well. Brook Lopez is a starting-caliber NBA Center, which is astonishingly valuable in today’s NBA, especially in the Eastern Conference. To complement him, the Nets grabbed Yi and the underrated Bobby Simmons in the trade, which accomplishes both goals. To add to that, they added in a guy in Ryan Anderson who can be a great contributor off the bench and the criminally underdrafted Chris Douglas-Roberts, who may end up being a prototypical wingman next to King James. Also, one of my good friends who knows Ryan Anderson and used to smoke out with Dominic McGuire wants Odds on whether he’ll smoke out with Sean Williams now that Ryan is on the team and my friend is in NYC. I’m putting it at 45% right now.
2. Milwaukee Bucks– It is genuinely amazing to see two teams that traded with each other at #1 and #2, but it’s well-deserved. The Bucks weren’t going to get out of salary purgatory any time soon, and they added a bevvy of talented players who should fit in fairly well with their squad. Jefferson will bring excitement and a presence that opens up the floor more for Redd, Bogut, and Mo Williams. Also, adding in the gritty (and talented) Joe Alexander along with one of the true glue guys in this draft in Luc Richard Mbah a Moute provides them with a SF/PF rotation that is actually somewhat formidable if they go up-tempo, since they can throw so many bodies at their opponents.
3. Boston Celtics– One way to have a great draft is to do more with less. Well, no one did better at that than Danny Ainge. He didn’t even need McHale to bail him out with buying Bill Walker- Grunfeld was more than happy to help. JR Giddens should make the team and his potential is pretty potent if he can ever get his head on straight, and Bill Walker is a stud who should be a consistent presence on the C’s for a long, long time.
4. Portland Trailblazers– They would be one spot higher, but it bothers me a little that they dumped some of their 2nd rounders like Omar Asik who could end up being a valuable member of the Blazers Euro farm team. That said, I was never keen on Jerryd Bayless, but they got him for almost nothing and he will be a fantastic fit next to Brandon Roy. All he has to do is score, which is fortunate for him. Also, adding Nicolas Batum makes the SF spot much more stable in the long-term, so they primarily need to focus on getting a starting SF, which should be cake given the appalling amount of talent they have. It warrants mentioning that they also stole one of my favorite players in all of NBA backup-dom in Ike Diogu- he is skilled and a hard worker who will fit very well with the Blazers’ Centers for however long they want him around.
5. Minnesota Timberwolves– They couldn’t sniff this level earlier tonight. You can call me a UCLA homer all you like, but Kevin Love will be a great complement for Al Jefferson. The amount of balls that it took to draft Mayo and then extort the Grizzlies the way they did shows me alot about McHale and Mr. Hoiberg. Marko Jaric’s contract is as long as Gasol’s and half of the cost, and the T-Wolves got Mike Miller in the deal too, who can be a good player or a valuable trading piece close to the deadline. The Mario Chalmers trade wasn’t their finest hour, but the rest of the draft has enough merit to put them here.
6. Chicago Bulls– Taking the best player in the draft makes this a great draft, and adding a big for the future in Omar Asik puts them right here. I wish they’d have added some size that could contribute in the nearer future (they’re Anthony Randolph-thin at C right now), but they have such a strong foundation for the future.
7. “Seattle Sonics”– Nice job aiming long-term here. Westbrook is a guy who can be a good complement to a variety of PG/SG players that they can go after down the line, with the almighty Ricky Rubio being the crown jewel of possibilities. I also really like the additions of Serge Ibaka and DJ White, both of whom hold value to the team, albeit for different time periods.
8. Orlando Magic– Drafting Courtney Lee (especially with Ryan Anderson off the board) gives the Magic a guy who they can set a the SG slot for years to come, which will prove exceptionally valuable considering the needs at the PF and PG spots. He’s a natural fit with their roster and scheme and will do a great job of playing within himself and the system, which is pivotal for the Magic to succeed.
9. Miami Heat– Beasley will be a compelling player to watch for a long time. I think his #’s were greatly inflated by playing in a conference with no quality size and mediocre talent otherwise, but it is hard to deny that Beasley oozes potential. Having dominating presences like Riley and Wade should help keep him motivated, as will the chip on his shoulder because he wasn’t #1. Also, the Heat grabbing Mario Chalmers was a stroke of genius because the cupboard is literally bare at PG. Super Nintendo Chalmers can contribute right away and keep Wade at the SG more, which he apparently prefers.
10. Detroit Pistons– A typical Detroit draft. They got a few guys who should contribute in the near future and can grow into bigger roles down the line. Dumars has had the Midas touch with PF’s, so we’ll see how Sharp turns out. I am a huge fan of Trent Plastied, and the Pistons need Center depth like no one’s business. We’ll see if Trent Washington makes it, but his dunk vs. UNC was astonishing and he might be a D-league stash guy, which makes him a solid late 2nd round pick.
11. LA Clippers– Eric Gordon is a solid but unspectacular selection, but his fit within the Clippers is somewhat good. He can make opponents pay for focusing too hard on their other talents (Brand, Kaman, Thornton, Maggette?) and here’s hoping he can get his mind right. Having less responsabilities and a team with good guys on it should move that along. As for the 2nd round, they got DeAndre Jordan who was an absolute theft that late (and exactly one round later than his Eric Weddle corrolary brother in Kevin Love- https://veganfishtacos.wordpress.com/2008/03/28/deandre-jordan-kevin-love-and-the-eric-weddle-corollary/). He may have a long way to go, but that’s totally fine considering where they got him and how barren the Clipp Show’s front-court bench is.
12. Phoenix Suns– What the Robin Lopez pick does is make sure that Amare never has to be the lead defender, which is worth its weight in gold. Amare at the PF does a ton more damage, and Robin will develop into a player who can more than hold his own. The Suns should be able to grab SG’s and SF’s down the road, and the TJ Ford trade pretty much took the wind out of their sails in terms of trading Barbosa and/or Diaw. I think they needed to have a guy like Malik Hairston around to fill some SG/SF depth, but I guess they’d rather take the potential gains of Goran, but he is a good player.
13. NY Knicks– I love the Danilo pick. He is a fantastic talent who has the mental part of the game pretty solidly as well. He has the physical attributes, savvy, and is also surprisingly young for a Euro making the jump. He is especially important if the Knicks want to keep David Lee with a role, because they need scoring in the worst way to balance that out. They made a great decision not forcing a PG pick in a draft that only had one of them (Rose). They will be able to fill that slot down the road, and trust me, it’s a while until the Knicks are legit contenders, but Gallinari sure helps.
14. Toronto Raptors– In effect, they moved a malcontent PG in TJ Ford and the #17 pick for the king of all boom/bust players. Jermiane O’Neal should have a major grudge and is one of the better natural pairings with Chris Bosh when he is at his best. I wish they hadn’t given up Rasho (or had gotten some other pick compensation), but they did pretty well anyway. Also, I’m a fan of Nathan Jawai whether he comes over from Kangarooland now or later.
15. Philadelphia 76ers– They needed a PF. They got the best one on the board in Marresse Speights. Sorry Mike, but that’s really all there is to it. I really like Speights, and he can do some work at both PF/C and should fit fine with both Dalembert and Jason Smith.
16. Utah Jazz– In effect, this all depends on what Kosta Koufos decides to do. If he plays for the Jazz instead of going to Greece, they did a very good job- the kid has heaps of talent and fits in fairly well with what they have, especially in the context of Boozer bolting to Miami (or somewhere else) after this season. Their aversion to US players continued in the 2nd round, but both Tomic and Dragicevic could both end up reaping huge dividends. If they had drafted a viable PG backup for Deron, they’d be higher on the list too.
17. San Antonio Spurs– They’ve got stones, let me tell you what. I’m sure RC was beating himself up a little after Batum and Ryan Anderson went right before their first rounder, but George Hill is a compelling player alongside both Manu and Tony Parker and could play meaningful minutes sooner rather than later. I also really like James Gist for when they got him, and Malik Hairston provides the Pac-10 with a chance to make up for Marcus Williams as the Spurs swingman depth guy.
18. LA Lakers– I was originally going to put them in an “Incomplete” category, but they moved this pick in the Gasol heist, so that warrants mentioning again.
19. Atlanta Hawks– This pick was a part of the Joe Johnson deal, and that is working out very well for them (though not as well as the Gasol one, thus putting them here).
20. Indiana Pacers– The definition of a mixed bag. I like TJ Ford OK, but they have such an insane amount of money drained in two PG’s who aren’t really movable. Brandon Rush is a pretty good player in Jim O’Brien’s system, but they need big man depth in a bad, bad way, especially after letting go of Ike Diogu in the Blazers trade. That said, I think McRoberts has some potential to be a contributor and I am simply fascinated to see what Hibbert does in a run-and-gun scheme.
21. Charlotte Bobcats– I was ready to put them much, much lower than this after they drafted DJ Augustin and then Hibbert went off the board. Ajinca redeems some of that, but their decisionmaking is still suspect. How in the hell are Augustin and Felton going to co-exist? Brook Lopez would have made a ton of sense there. The Bobcats had a chance to re-build their front line considering their multitude of SG/SF types and a starting PG in Felton, but they only got 1/3 of the way there. I like Kyle Weaver as a player (stopper off the bench for PG/SG guys), but I have no idea if he’ll get PT with Gerald Wallace, J-Rich, Matt Carroll, Adam Morrison, and Jared Dudley presumably ahead of him on the depth chart.
22. Golden State Warriors– They had the chance to go ballsy and move up for a guy like Robin Lopez, and they didn’t. They could’ve gotten CDR (whose system at Memphis was close to Nellieball) and didn’t. Anthony Randolph is a gigantic boom/bust player who makes no sense on a team that already has Brandon Wright (and Andris Biedrins locks down the starting C slot). I really like Hendrix in the 2nd round though- kid’s got fire and more talent than he gets credit for. He should end up with a spot on the 15-man after Kosta goes back to Europe. A draft of missed opportunities.
23. Cleveland Cavaliers– JJ Hickson is a solid player, but it’s baffling that they didn’t work harder to get another guy who can contribute. They need a ton of help at SG/SF (Wally and Sasha Pavlovic? Really?) and just didn’t even go after getting a 2nd round pick. They could have easily gotten productive players like CDR, Bill Walker, or another swingman like Miami did with Chalmers (as opposed to Darnell Jackson and Kaun), but they didn’t. And that’s why their franchise will be in shambles when Lebron goes to play with Devin Harris, Brook Lopez, Chairman Yi, CDR, and the rest in Brooklyn in 2010.
24. Dallas Mavericks– Tehy gave up the pick for Kidd (mistake!), but getting Shan Foster in the 2nd takes the sting out of it somewhat. He’ll be what they wanted Maurice Ager to be when they drafted him- a scorer off the bench in the SG slot.
25. Houston Rockets– Really, this all depends on how much you like Donte Greene. I’m not a fan and it astonishes me that the Rockets keep going after PF’s when they already have Luis Scola and Carl Landry locking up the minutes (with Chuck Hayes still on the books for three more years) considering their need for C depth and swingmen who can actually play behind and with their core. Dorsey is an OK player (though I’ll mourn the loss of the chance of seeing him get sodomized every day in practice by Oden, who Dorsey said he was better than right before Oden and Ohio State mauled Memphis). I freaking love Maarty Leunen in Adelman’s system though- let’s see if he gets burn with them, because he’s a great value.
26. Memphis Grizzlies– Obviously the most devisive of my rankings here, but I stand by it. OJ Mayo’s optimal scheme was playing off the ball and guarding PG’s. Guess what? He’s not guarding PG’s on a team that has Mike Conley and Kyle Lowry. They also ate one of the worst contracts in the NBA in Marco Jaric (possibly the worst- 3 more years at around $7m per). Even if Buckner’s deal isn’t fully guranteed, they are spending money long-term when they kicked Pau to the curb when he only makes double what Jaric does. On the upside, we get to see OJ Mayo eyeball Marco’s fiancee Adriana Lima, which will be awesome. Darrell Arthur will be servicable off the bench, but their big-man depth is deplorable and that’s awfully hard to improve, especially when you have the worst GM in the NBA.
27. Denver Nuggets– At least they got a future pick….. but they could have used a body for the short term, especially when they dumped the pick to a team that has never made the playoffs and it turns out there were plenty of helpful players on the board (Ajinca, Courney Lee, and Chalmers, to name three). Sonny Weems helps that a little, but it’s strange to add a SF with Melo and Linas already there.
28. Washington Wizards– Let’s see. We have a team that needs a bruiser C and could use a SF/PF to groom long term. OK, let’s take a soft and raw C and sell Bill Walker (who would have been a great pick) to a conference rival! YAY!
29. New Orleans Hornets– I’m sure George Shinn isn’t going to be missing that extra player to support their thin frontcourt and SG spots in May… Trading a 1st rounder for just $ is deplorable.
30. Sacramento Kings– What’s worse than dumping your only pick for money? Drafting Jason Thompson at #12. For scratch, they either could have gotten a better C in Brook Lopez or they could have just DRAFTED ANY OTHER FREAKING POSITION. It must be fun having a team with no PG’s, no worthy PF’s, and two redundant C’s and just going “Hey, let’s take another Center!”. I wish I had that kind of job security because I was the GM who oversaw a Western Conference team be stripped of what made it great with those guys going on to do great things other places (think Gerald Wallace and Hedo would help this squad?) Incidentally, I like Patrick Ewing Jr fine, but he doesn’t save the other two reaches and wasted picks.
Rookie of the Year: Greg Oden, Blazers
All Rookie Team:
First Team: Derrick Rose, Danilo Gallinari, Michael Beasley, Kevin Love, and Greg Oden
Second Team: OJ Mayo, Courtney Lee, Rudy Fernandez, Marresse Speights, and Brook Lopez
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