NBA Draft Grades: Backtracking on the 2008 Picks

Owen MunroCorrespondent IJune 28, 2008

Well, another year of "D-Day" has come and gone, and it leaves us this year with a bang. Trades were made (and many of them, too), as well as players either moving up or falling down each team's draft boards.

A surprising trend seems to be emerging, as well: Buying players. Yes, you heard me, buying. For every selection you don’t have, you can cough up some of your extra salary cap to go out and get someone. For teams that are desperate for cap relief, this is a good way to operate. Though, it is living life in the fast lane. Often you will give up someone who could either be a solid rotation player, or a flat-out stud, depending on where you pick, of course.

But now that the draft is over for another year, here are my grades for the 2008 NBA Draft, with analysis for each team. Enjoy!

Atlanta Hawks

No selections made.

The Hawks were one of the most inactive teams on Draft Day, partly because they had no picks to begin with. Atlanta was slated to select 15th, but with this being the first year they don’t have a protected lottery pick, it went to the Suns in part of the Joe Johnson deal a few years back. The Suns selected defensive presence Robin Lopez, twin brother of 10th Overall Pick Brook Lopez. Will the Hawks lose any sleep knowing they missed Robin Lopez? I wouldn’t think so; not at this point, anyway.

Grade: Incomplete.

Boston Celtics

J.R. Giddens - 30th Overall
Bill Walker - 47th Overall
Semih Erden - 60th Overall

It wasn’t as much as it was last year, but Boston looks like it is restocking there shelves for the future, and did a good job of it, too. Picking up two exceptional athletes in Giddens and Walker at their respective spots in the draft was no small feat. Walker was being talked about as a lottery pick in the 2009 Draft, so to buy this pick for nothing but a little cash and cap space is really not a big deal at all. If Walker can overcome those knee injuries, he will be a bright light on the horizon. Giddens is an energetic kid, but if he cannot stay mature and out of trouble, there may not be a spot in the NBA for him for very long. Erden is a interesting 7-foot international prospect who will most likely stay in Turkey to work on his game.

Grade: B

Charlotte Bobcats

D.J. Augustin - 9th Overall
Alexis Ajinca - 20th Overall
Kyle Weaver - 38th Overall

Larry Brown and Michael Jordan have to be shopping Raymond Felton. At the time, the Augustin pick really didn’t make too much sense, but now I’m beginning to understand it, and I actually like it. He will be an eventual improvement over Raymond Felton, who, at this point, obviously hasn’t been the guy the Bobcats hoped he could be. Ajinca and Weaver are both interesting selections. Weaver can play both guard positions, and is an excellent defender. I was very high on Ajinca, based on his workouts, but stepping back and looking at him in a pro standpoint, the five points per game he averaged in France is a wild card. Overall, it could have been a much more powerful draft for Charlotte, and was a bit of a disappointment.

Grade: B-

Chicago Bulls

Derrick Rose - 1st Overall
Omer Asik - 36th Overall

I can’t see anything wrong with the Rose pick. He’s a leader, which the Bulls need, and he can distribute the ball well, despite what his assist totals suggested in the NCAA. He’s a fighter, and is a guy who can really lead a team to victory. An all-around great pick for new coach Vinny Del Negro. Asik is one of the better European prospects, and has a high motor, which should provide the Bulls with some energy off the bench. Of course, Asik will not be over in the NBA for a few years, but when (and if) he is, watch out.

Grade: A-

Cleveland Cavaliers

J.J. Hickson - 19th Overall
Darnell Jackson - 52nd Overall
Sasha Kaun - 56th Overall

The Cavaliers played this draft safe, which is a good idea after their blockbuster with Chicago in the later part of last season, but it did, and should, work out well. The Cavaliers essentially got three sleepers, each with an extremely high ceiling, for an amazing draft. LeBron James really can’t complain about this. He gets one of the biggest sleepers in the entire draft in Hickson. Hickson has the ability to become a very good player, but he is raw. Jackson is another good pick who will be great off the bench as a sixth or seventh man in a few years. Kaun, while playing in Russia, should continue to develop his game, and could be an interesting prospect down the line. The Cavaliers found a few diamonds in the rough, but they’ll have to be patient.

Grade: A

Dallas Mavericks

Shan Foster - 51st Overall

The Mavericks took a step back this season, which isn’t the greatest thought, considering Jason Kidd is in his 30s, and the Mavs lost both Devin Harris and their first-round pick, which was good for the Nets to get Ryan Andersen, a great player out of California. Shan Foster is a decent shooter, but will be buried at the end of a deep bench, and is really nothing to write home about.

Grade: D

Denver Nuggets

Sonny Weems - 39th Overall

I haven’t seen too much of Sonny Weems, but he essentially seems like a poor man's J.R. Smith, and is that a good thing? I wouldn’t think too highly of it. The Nuggets did get some cash and cap relief for the 20th pick, and, with the players that were there, it looked like they didn’t make too much of a mistake. Although, a Darrell Arthur or a Mario Chalmers could’ve been nice at 20.

Grade: D

Detroit Pistons

Walter Sharpe - 32nd Overall
Trent Plaisted - 46th Overall
Deron Washington - 59th Overall

You have to feel that Joe Dumars and the Pistons had success in this draft. Dumars had his own edition of “wheeling and dealing” on draft night, and ended up with a trio of prospects. Dumars is a guy who will go out of his way and pick up a guy who could either be a great player, or a complete bust, and Sharpe is this year's edition. I haven’t studied Sharpe much for this draft, but he put up 14 points and seven rebounds per game, which are decent numbers for a player of his quality. I like this draft, so I’ll give them a solid B.

Grade: B

Golden State Warriors

Anthony Randolph - 14th Overall
Richard Hendrix - 49th Overall

I don’t understand the Warriors' draft from my perspective. Randolph is seemingly Brandan Wright with a higher ceiling and a weaker body. Was he the right pick at 14? In terms of "Best Player Available," yes, but when you already have a stronger, almost exact clone, it’s hard to see what is so great about this pick. Hendrix is a good get at No. 49, one of the better value picks, but is another power forward, who, for now, is just going to be buried and labeled as another guy who can’t get playing time in Don Nelson’s system.

Grade: C+

Houston Rockets

Donte Greene - 28th Overall
Joey Dorsey - 33rd Overall
Maarty Leunen - 54th Overall

I think Houston would’ve been better-served keeping Darrell Arthur, who could develop into a real beast in the future, but I understand why they like Greene. While I think Greene could’ve been better off in staying another year at Syracuse, he is a good project guy to work with, who has all the raw talents you look for. Dorsey will be the next Ben Wallace, in my opinion. He is rather limited in the offensive end, but plays very stingy "D," and is all-around very good at guarding big men.

Grade: A-

Indiana Pacers

Brandon Rush - 13th Overall
Roy Hibbert - 17th Overall

I love this draft for Indiana. For a franchise that has been really floundering the past couple of years, they seem to be moving in the right direction now. Rush was one of the most NBA-ready forwards, and he is reunited with brother Kareem Rush. Hibbert provides a presence down low. I don’t fully understand the Hibbert pick, as they just brought in Rush and T.J. Ford, two guys who really fit a fast-paced system, but I think Hibbert can turn up the athleticism, and, if he can reach his full potential, he will be a threat in years to come. One of the best drafts this year.

Grade: A

Los Angeles Clippers

Eric Gordon - 7th Overall
DeAndre Jordan - 35th Overall
Mike Taylor - 55th Overall

Let it be known that I don’t like Eric Gordon. I feel Gordon is just a one-dimensional player, and has just his shot to rely on. He is relatively small at the shooting guard position, at 6’4". To trade up to No. 4 and get him would be ludicrous to me, and, to be quite honest, I feel Gordon is going to bust up on the Clippers. A guy to watch here is Jordan. He is a project, and probably would be better fit if he stayed in school, but he will make the Clippers brass look very, very good, if he pans out into a Dwight Howard-like player, like some were speculating him to. Taylor is also a very good pick, and I feel he will be a solid NBA player.

Grade: B+

Los Angeles Lakers

Joe Crawford - 58th Overall

I read the Sports Illustrated NBA Draft Preview last week, and there was a section where the SI reporters and writers gave their thoughts on players that could be steals in the second Round. Crawford was among them, but not a whole lot of good was said about him. SI said that Crawford could not create his own shot well, as well as not set up others for shots, but would be a crafty scorer of the bench. I agree with this assessment. It really sounds like D-League material to me. The Pau Gasol trade was the main centerpiece of the Lakers season, though, and it was such a steal, that an A is in order, just for it alone.

Grade: A

Memphis Grizzlies

O.J. Mayo - 3rd Overall
Darrell Arthur - 27th Overall

The Grizzlies had a productive draft, which saw them pick up a possible gem in the late first round in Kansas power forward Darrell Arthur. Arthur apparently has kidney and heart problems: never good for a team that is going to spend a first-round pick on him. But the kid has top-15 talent, and will make a lot of GMs look bad if he progresses fine, and turns into a productive player. Mayo is reportedly already on the move, possibly in a deal with Miami, where Michael Beasley would be sent back. If this happens, Chris Wallace will go from donkey to genius.

Grade: B+

Miami Heat

Michael Beasley - 2nd Overall
Mario Chalmers - 34th Overall

The Heat had the best draft—far and away the best draft. They picked up a crafty, powerful scorer in Beasley, and a great guy to start at point guard in Mario Chalmers. Chalmers is a typical Pat Riley player, who can steal the ball and play stingy defence, then turn around and dish the ball to either Dwayne Wade, Shawn Marion, or Michael Beasley—all day. But, if the grumblings of a Beasley/Mayo swap are true, the Heat may have made a bad choice. Now, I’m not saying it based on the talent of Mayo, but on the lack of common sense by Pat Riley. If he doesn’t like Beasley, fine, he doesn’t like the kid. But to trade for something you know you could’ve had? Nonsense.

Grade: A

Milwaukee Bucks

Joe Alexander - 8th Overall
Luc Richard Mbah a Moute - 37th Overall

The Bucks didn’t have a flashy draft. They played it safe this year, but also made a great deal, as well. Picking up Richard Jefferson for Yi Jianlian and Bobby Simmons is a plus, as Milwaukee no longer has to really deal with the baggage Yi came with. Jefferson provides a veteran spark, and tough defender, something Milwaukee sorely needed last year. Joe Alexander could learn well under the tutelage of Jefferson, and could become one of the league's most hard-nosed players if he comes through. A solid, safe draft.

Grade: B+

Minnesota Timberwolves

Kevin Love - 5th Overall
Nikola Pekovic - 31st Overall

Kevin McHale actually did quite a solid job this time. I personally see many connections between Love and McHale, and both Kevins actually see the same thing as most do. Love has many old school-type moves down low, and can shoot the ball, as well. He is powerful in and around the basket, but, like DeAndre Jordan, Love could’ve probably used another year in college. Pekovic was one of my favorite prospects, and, although he’ll stay in Europe for a few more years, he has done many things already. Bringing in Mike Miller is great, as well.

Grade: A-

New Jersey Nets

Brook Lopez - 10th Overall
Ryan Anderson - 21st Overall
Chris Douglas-Roberts - 39th Overall

I’m not a fan of Lopez; I think he is going to be somewhat exposed in the NBA, especially in the first few years. But he was great value at 10, especially since there were reports of him going at No. 4 to Seattle. He needs a few more post moves, and could toughen up a bit, but he has the skill-set to survive. The addition of Yi makes the already soft Nets even softer down low, and Ryan Anderson doesn’t exactly fix it. Anderson faces the basket a lot, and also needs to toughen up. Chris Douglas-Roberts is going to be a great pickup from the second round. He presented good value, and filled a need left by Richard Jefferson. The Nets are going to miss Jefferson's defense more than they think.

Grade: A-

New Orleans Hornets

No selections made.

The Hornets “sold” their 27th overall pick to Portland in exchange for cash considerations and, without having to pay a first-rounder, the freeing up of cap room. It left them with no picks in the draft.

Grade: Incomplete

New York Knicks

Danilo Gallinari - 6th Overall

I like the pick of Gallinari, but I feel he is going to be another kid who may be exposed a bit early on in his career as he gets used to the North American style of game. His defense needs to improve, which is surprising, as his father was a “defensive specialist” in Europe. But this was a good start to an eventual rebuilding process for Mike D’Antoni and his team. If they can dangle David Lee to Charlotte for Ray Felton, this team could be very competitive this year, and could definitely surprise people.

Grade: A-

Orlando Magic

Courtney Lee - 22nd Overall

I feel Lee was a need pick for the Magic, and someone who could contribute right away. He has a great pass off the dribble, and can shoot fairly well. But there was better talent on the board, I felt, that could have helped Orlando more, including Darrell Arthur. The Magic had reportedly promised Lee the 22nd overall pick, and he should do well off the bench for Hedo Turkoglu.

Grade: B-

Philadelphia 76ers

Marreese Speights - 16th Overall

In my opinion, this was the best fit for Speights, out of any team. He is a bruiser down low and can rebound exceptionally well, both areas in which Philly needed improvement. If the 76ers can lure a high-profile free agent like Elton Brand, the they are going to excel in an improving Eastern Conference.

Grade: A

Phoenix Suns

Robin Lopez - 15th Overall
Goran Dragic - 42nd Overall

This draft signifies the end of the high-tempo offense in Phoenix. The D’Antoni days are behind them, and, with the pick of Lopez, it only makes sure of it. Lopez was brought in to do exactly what the Suns need; play defense and bring energy to the squad. He gets extra marks for the way his hat fit onto his bed of hair. Dragic could eventually become another energy player of the deep bench, but that remains to be seen.

Grade: B

Portland Trail Blazers

Jerryd Bayless - 11th Overall
Nicolas Batum - 25th Overall

It’s time to really watch out for Portland. They originally added Brandon Rush at 13, but made a swap with Indiana, which took Bayless at 11, in exchange for Rush, Josh McRoberts, and Jarrett Jack. It gives the Blazers the point guard they have been looking for for some time. Moving up for Batum could turn out to be a move that everybody envies, and that’s the type of thing you're going to get from Kevin Pritchard, who is always getting the better of deals, and making moves to better the franchise. Portland is going to be flat-out scary in two or three years.

Grade: A

Sacramento Kings

Jason Thompson - 12th Overall
Sean Singletary - 42nd Overall
Patrick Ewing Jr. - 43rd Overall

This was another ugly draft by the Sacramento Kings. All three times (yes, count it, all three times) the Kings could’ve selected a better player. The selection of Jason Thompson was arguably the ugliest one in the draft. I feel like the Kings could’ve either bought a late-round pick for him, or traded up with their two second-rounders. Maybe that’s the way things go, though. I feel Patrick Ewing Jr. was drafted based on name, and not on skill. He really doesn’t even have a set position. I just don’t know about this draft.

Grade: D-

San Antonio Spurs

George Hill - 26th Overall
Malik Hairston - 48th Overall
James Gist - 57th Overall

San Antonio is usually spot-on with its picks, and usually has an international blend to it. Neither happened this year. I feel there will be a lot of questioning with the pick of Hill, especially when Mario Chalmers was on the board. Hairston is a threat all-around. Good defender, good shot, and can drive. Very nice pickup at No. 48. Gist is a guy who could surprise, especially where he was picked up, but I don’t think he can make the veteran-laden Spurs; not yet. Some D-League ball could do him some good.

Grade: C

Seattle SuperSonics

Russell Westbrook - 4th Overall
Serge Ibaka - 24th Overall
D.J. White - 29th Overall
DeVon Hardin - 50th Overall

I feel Seattle had one of the most productive drafts. They picked up one of the top defenders in this class in Russell Westbrook. He will man the point and will garner a lot of attention, even with Kevin Durant on the floor. I feel he was the right choice at No. 4 now, and, looking over the comparisons of Westbrook and Bayless, I’m confident Sam Presti made the right decision. Serge Ibaka is another international power forward who is another project. How many more does Seattle need? Johan Petro, Saer Sene and Serge Ibaka seem like more than enough to me. D.J. White and DeVon Hardin are both solid pickups, too.

Grade: A

Toronto Raptors

Nathan Jawai - 41st Overall

Based on the deal the Raptors made to pick up some more star talent, and the pickup of Jawai, I feel Toronto is going in the right direction. The Raps needed another big presence, and definitely got it here with the big man from Australia. The deal with Indiana went down as T.J. Ford, Rasho Nesterovic, Maceo Baston, and Roy Hibbert for Jermaine O’Neal. I think Raps fans can live with that.

Grade: B

Utah Jazz

Kosta Koufos - 23rd Overall
Ante Tomic - 44th Overall
Tadija Dragicevic - 53rd Overall

The Jazz went with a certain international flair here. Although American, Koufos definitely has a Greek name, and has Greek parents. The Jazz got a steal with Koufos, who is much like Mehmet Okur. The need was there, as the Jazz needed some big men coming into the draft. Tomic is a guy who will take his time developing in Europe. Dragicevic has a lot of work to do to make it in the NBA.

Grade: B

Washington Wizards

JaVale McGee - 18th Overall

McGee is an interesting player. He has potential, and a lot of upside, but he is fairly raw, and should’ve stayed in school. He and DeAndre Jordan can relate together. I don’t see much of an NBA career from McGee if he isn’t brought along correctly. If the Wizards take their time with him, they could have an interesting prospect on their hands.

Grade: C+

This draft was fairly entertaining, with a lot of star power being moved and a great deal of international flair working its way into the league. I feel that most teams are going to find that at least one player makes it on their bench from this draft. The draft was fairly deep, and had a lot of talent at the top. Here are my thoughts on some personal picks this year.

The gem of the draft in the near future is going to be Cleveland’s Darnell Jackson. He could replace Joe Smith even at the start of camp, and provides a lot of energy and offense to the team. Minnesota’s Nikola Pekovic is my pick to shine in the next four to five years. I really like Pekovic as a prospect, and he will flourish when given the chance in Minnesota.

My bust pick is Eric Gordon. Bias aside, I just don’t think this kid has what it takes to be depended on in the NBA. He seems like a kid who will play only when he wants to, and has just his shot to rely on. People may bring up the fact that he got to the line in college, but the NBA is head and shoulders over the college ranks in terms of defense, and Gordon will soon find that out.

My Rookie of the Year is Greg Oden. I know he wasn’t drafted this year, but he is ROY eligible, as he has not played an NBA game yet. If I had to choose someone from this class, it would be O.J. Mayo right now. If he is traded to Miami, like reports say, I would then have to say Brandon Rush and Michael Beasley would be frontrunners.

I hope people enjoyed the draft as much as I did, and I can’t wait till the next one.


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