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NBA Draft Grades

Posted by ssbg on June 29, 2006’s Marty Burns analyzes each team’s moves in the 2006 draft.
Atlanta Hawks
Picks: Shelden Williams (5); Solomon Jones (33)
They needed a defensive-minded forward in case Al Harrington leaves via free agency, and Williams (a.k.a. “the Landlord”) is an Antonio Davis clone who did a good job collecting the rent in the paint at Duke. But could they have traded down and still got their man? And will they regret (again) passing on a point guard, especially if Randy Foye or Marcus Williams blows up a la Chris Paul a year ago?
Boston Celtics
Picks: Randy Foye (7), traded to the Blazers for Sebastian Telfair and Theo Ratliff; acquired Rajon Rondo (21), along with Brian Grant, from the Suns; also acquired Leon Powe (49) in a trade with the Nuggets.
GM Danny Ainge parlayed his lone pick in this draft (along with the team’s first-round pick in 2007) for three NBA players, though Rondo’s inability to shoot could doom him to journeyman status. Ainge could have held on to the pick — and nabbed Rudy Gay — but it’s hard to fault Boston for not wanting to get any younger. The Celtics paid a high price for Rondo, since it cost them their first-round pick and required them to take Grant (he will be waived). But the bottom line is they got rid of Raef LaFrentz’s contract (in the Blazers deal), picked up two good PG prospects in Telfair and Rondo and gained some financial flexibility and assets for a possible future deal for Allen Iverson or Kevin Garnett.
Charlotte Bobcats
Picks: Adam Morrison (3); Ryan Hollins (50)
New boss Michael Jordan is a gambler, so it’s not surprising that he rolled the dice on a guy who could be either a huge star or a huge bust. MJ opted for the potential “next Larry Bird” over the raw potential of Gay. After Jordan’s experience with Kwame Brown, who can blame him? Morrison is a gifted scorer who should fit well with Gerald Wallace, Emeka Okafor and Raymond Felton, and he’ll surely give the ‘Cats some much-needed box office appeal. But can the ‘Stache defend on the NBA level?
Chicago Bulls
Picks: LaMarcus Aldridge (2), traded to the Trail Blazers; Rodney Carney (16), traded the to 76ers; acquired Tyrus Thomas (4), Thabo Sefolosha (13) and Viktor Khryapa in separate trades.
GM John Paxson got perhaps the draft’s best prospect in Thomas while adding the big defensive guard he needed in Sefolosha and another decent prospect in Khryapa. Though Thomas doesn’t solve Chicago’s desperate need for a low-post scorer, it’s doubtful Aldridge would have done so right away either. Meanwhile, Thomas also gives Paxson a blue-chip piece for a future blockbuster trade (maybe Kevin Garnett?).
Cleveland Calvaliers
Picks: Shannon Brown (25); Daniel Gibson (42); Ejike Ugboaja (55)
They needed backcourt scoring help, and Brown is a tough competitor from a big-time program who can shoot from the perimeter. He should be a good complement to LeBron James, and he’s insurance in case Flip Murray departs via free agency. Gibson, a point guard from Texas, was on their list as a possible pick at No. 25, but he fell into their laps at 42. Ugboaja, a 6-9 rebounder from Nigeria, will remain overseas to develop his game.
Dallas Mavericks
Picks: Maurice Ager (28); Danilo Pinnock (58), traded to the Lakers
They obviously don’t have many needs, so they took the best player available. Ager is a good scorer who can defend. He’s also insurance in case Jason Terry leaves as free agent. The Mavs scored with Josh Howard as a late first-round pick a few years ago; if this one works out half as well, they will be thrilled. They also picked up a 2007 second-round pick from the Lakers for Pinnock.
Denver Nuggets
Picks: Leon Powe (49), traded to Celtics
The team’s interim front office apparently didn’t want any part of this draft. The Nuggets used their only pick on Powe, then dealt him to the Celtics for a 2007 second-round pick. Denver now has two first-rounders and two second-rounders in next year’s draft, which is expected to be deeper. Still, this won’t give fans any reason for optimism in 2006-07.
Detroit Pistons
Picks: Will Blalock (60); acquired Cheick Samb (51) in a trade with the Lakers for Maurice Evans
It’s hard to get much help when your only pick is the last one of the night, but Blalock isn’t a bad pick this far down. The former Iowa State point guard is athletic and has good court vision, but he’ll need time to develop. Samb is a project with a capital P. The 7-1 shot blocker from Senegal has only one year of pro experience (in the Spanish League) and reportedly weighs only 195 pounds. Detroit will keep him overseas for a while to see if he develops. It’s hard to believe the Pistons gave up a legitimate bench player in Evans for such a long-range prospect.
Golden State Warriors
Picks: Patrick O’Bryant (9); Kosta Perovic (38)
The Warriors need a center, and they got two decent prospects in the 7-foot O’Bryant and the 7-2 Perovic. The agile O’Bryant was considered the best center of this year’s crop, which doesn’t say much. He might not be much better than Adonal Foyle right now. Perovic has spent four seasons playing in Serbia. He has three years left on his contract there but might opt out this summer. The Warriors are probably reaching here to fill a need, generally a bad idea, but it’s hard to blame them given what was left on the draft board.
Houston Rockets
Picks: Rudy Gay (8), traded to the Grizzlies for Shane Battier; Steve Novak (32); acquired Lior Eliyahu (44) in a trade with the Magic
They wanted Brandon Roy but couldn’t move up to get him. So they basically swapped the tremendous potential of Gay (along with Stromile Swift) for the proven commodity of Battier, himself a former No. 6 overall pick (in 2001). Battier’s versatility, defense and three-point shooting will make him a good fit alongside Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming. He will be a valuable contributor, and it doesn’t hurt that Houston got rid of Swift and his big contract as well. But if Gay blossoms into a big-time star, this move won’t look so good down the road.
Indiana Pacers
Picks: Shawne Williams (17); Alexander Johnson (45), traded to the Blazers for James White (31)
Did Larry Bird mean to call out the name of Marcus Williams? Most draft boards had the Pacers selecting a point guard here, either UConn’s Marcus Williams or UCLA’s Jordan Farmar. Oh well, Shawne Williams is a versatile forward who will provide some needed athleticism for Indiana. But he’s raw and thin right now, and plays the same position as Danny Granger and Peja Stojakovic. White, acquired for future second-round picks, fits the same bill. Apparently Bird feels they can get a PG later, or he’s stockpiling wing players in case they want to trade Jermaine O’Neal.
Los Angeles Clippers
Picks: Paul Davis (34); Guillermo Diaz (52)
With Zeljko Rebraca’s health an issue, they wanted to add a backup center. Davis, a four-year player at Michigan State who can shoot the ball, was clearly the best pivot left on the board. Diaz, a point guard from Miami, was probably the best overall player left at No. 52. He might not make the Clippers’ roster next year, especially if they bring back Sam Cassell, but L.A. would hold onto his rights if the Puerto Rico native ends up playing overseas. All in all, not bad for two second-round picks.
Los Angeles Lakers
Picks: Jordan Farmar (26); Cheick Samb (51), traded to the Pistons for Maurice Evans; acquired J.R. Pinnock (58) in a trade with the Mavs
They parlayed their two picks into Farmar, a decent point guard prospect, and Evans, a solid NBA bench player with the Pistons. Farmar is an odd pick considering he’s still a year away and Phil Jackson has a well-known preference for bigger guards. But the 6-1 playmaker’s passing and mid-range shooting skills could eventually make him a good fit for the triangle offense, and it doesn’t hurt that he’s a local product from UCLA. Of course, considering this pick came from the Heat as part of the Shaquille O’Neal trade, no player here was going to get Lakers fans too excited.
Memphis Grizzlies
Picks: Kyle Lowry (24); acquired Rudy Gay (8), along with Stromile Swift, in a trade with the Rockets; acquired Alexander Johnson (45) in a trade with the Blazers
GM Jerry West managed to give his roster a much-needed shakeup by nabbing an exciting young talent in Gay, along with former Grizzlies power forward Swift, while giving up Shane Battier. Along with Lowry, the Villanova point guard who was ranked as the third-best PG prospect in the draft, it’s not a bad haul. If Gay lives up to his vast potential, this trade could go down as a steal. West also acquired Johnson, a beefy forward from Florida State, from the Blazers for a 2008 second-round pick. The key will be the development of Gay. He could be another Scottie Pippen — or he could be a disappointment like Swift was in his first go-round in Memphis.
Miami Heat
Picks: None
The only NBA team with no picks in either round of this year’s draft. We’re guessing they don’t regret it right about now (see Lakers).
Milwaukee Bucks
Picks: David Noel (39); acquired Damir Markota (59) in a trade with the Spurs
They gave up their first-round pick to the Hornets in last year’s Jamaal Magloire deal. In the second round they landed UNC’s Noel, a solid, all-around type with a Corey Maggette-like physique. He should help shore up their depth at the wing. They used their other pick on Markota, a 6-10 prospect from Croatia.
Minnesota Timberwolves
Picks: Brandon Roy (6), traded to the Trail Blazers for the rights to Randy Foye; Craig Smith (36); Bobby Jones (37), traded to the 76ers; Loukas Mavrokefalidis (57)
With his first top-six pick since Wally Szczerbiak (1999), GM Kevin McHale opted for the playmaking abilities of Foye over the more complete skill set of Roy. Did McHale really value Foye more than he did Roy, or was it a toss-up and he just decided to save his team a little money by taking the extra $1 million in cash from the Blazers? At any rate, Foye is a Chauncey Billups-type combo guard who should help make up for the loss of Rashad McCants to a season-ending injury. In other moves, McHale landed Smith, a banger from BC, and traded Jones to the Sixers for a future second-round pick and cash. Mavrokefalidis, a 6-11 Czech center, is under contract with his Greek League team and will stay overseas or in the NBDL for development. The bottom line is that McHale had better hope that Foye turns out to be better than Roy. Otherwise he’s going to look bad again.
New Jersey Nets
Picks: Marcus Williams (22); Josh Boone (23); Hassan Adamas (54)
Nets GM Rod Thorn tried hard to move up and select Cedric Simmons or Hilton Armstrong, but he has to be happy nonetheless. Williams, the QB for UConn’s juggernaut last season, might have been the best pure point guard prospect in the draft. He could be a valuable piece going forward as the replacement for Jason Kidd. Boone, another UConn product, is a legitimate big man who can step in and play some next season. Adams is an explosive scorer in the LeBron James mold and, like Williams and Boone, comes from a big-time college program (Arizona). Maybe Thorn can be gigged for not getting a deal done to move up, but at least he came away with three legit prospects.
New Orleans Hornets
Picks: Hilton Armstrong (12); Cedric Simmons (15); Marcus Vinicius (43)
The Hornets needed big bodies in the middle, and they got the two highest-rated on the board. Armstrong is a 6-11 wide body with good hands from a winning program at UConn. The 6-9 Simmons is a solid if not spectacular guy with a long wingspan. Neither player will excite fans, but New Orleans GM Jeff Bower wanted to shore up the frontcourt with Chris Andersen suspended (drugs) and P.J. Brown in the last year of his contract. The question for Hornets fans is, would the team have been better off trading down (to the Nets or the Suns, for example) and trying to address those needs via free agency or a trade?
New York Knicks
Picks: Renaldo Balkman (20); Mardy Collins (29)
This is what happens when the boss tells the whole world that the GM is in the last year of his contract. Isiah Thomas’ decision to use the 20th overall pick on Balkman, projected to go in the second round, smacks of a guy trying to hit a home run now instead of taking a long-range approach. Still, Thomas has had his share of draft successes and probably deserves a little slack. Balkman might turn out to be another Dennis Rodman, and there’s no guarantee that Marcus Williams (who the Knicks passed on at 20) will turn out to be a stud. But could the Knicks have plucked Balkman at No. 29 or in the second round (via a trade)? An angry Knicks nation has every right to ask. Meanwhile, Collins is an Aaron McKie-type who could be a solid choice. But if neither guy pans out right away, which is likely, Thomas is going to look bad.
Orlando Magic
Picks: J.J. Redick (11); James Augustine (41); Lior Eliahu (44), traded to the Rockets
Say this much for the new Magic regime: They have guts. Given the team’s history with Grant Hill and Fran Vazquez, they easily could have passed on Redick and his back issues. But new GM Otis Smith and assistant Dave Twardzik were ready to gamble that Redick will be healthy. If so, the former Duke sniper could be a good fit as a shooting guard who can make foes pay for double teams on Dwight Howard. But if Redick can’t defend in the NBA, the Magic eventually will regret the pick.
Philadelphia 76ers
Picks: Thabo Sefolosha (13), traded to the Bulls for the rights to Rodney Carney (16); acquired Bobby Jones (37) in a trade with the T’wolves; acquired Edin Bavcic (56) in a trade with the Raptors
They tried hard to get local star Foye from Villanova but couldn’t trade up to the necessary spot. So they worked a deal with Chicago instead to nab Carney and an extra second-round pick in 2007. Philly fans will love Carney’s athleticism and dunking skills, but he plays the same position/role as Andre Iguodala and there are serious questions about his focus and lack of a mid-range game. Maybe the Sixers are stockpiling wing athletes for a possible future trade of Allen Iverson. Even so, it’s hard to see much here to get excited about.
Phoenix Suns
Picks: Rajon Rondo (21), traded to Celtics for a 2007 first-round pick; Sergio Rodriguez (27), traded to the Trail Blazers
They burned up the phone lines in the days leading up to the draft as Mike D’Antoni was seeking either Thabo Sefolosha or more size. Failing to get either one, he swung a deal with the Celtics for a top 10-protected 2007 first-round pick and the chance to unload Brian Grant. Phoenix then sold its other pick for $3 million cash. The Suns hope the flexibility gained by the moves will help them re-sign Boris Diaw and Leandro Barbosa. But with no first-round pick for a third straight year, Suns fans might be wondering if they’re ever going to enjoy a draft-night party.
Portland Trail Blazers
Picks: Tyrus Thomas (4), traded to the Bulls for the rights to LaMarcus Aldridge; Joel Freeland (30); James White (31); also acquired Randy Foye (7) in a trade with the Celtics and Sergio Rodriguez (27) in a trade with the Suns; traded Foye to the T’wolves for the rights to Brandon Roy (6)
Talk about shaking things up. The new Blazers regime went crazy, executing an NBA draft-night-record six trades while completely revamping their roster. The bottom line is they have a promising new inside-out battery in Aldridge and Roy. Along with Martell Webster and Jarret Jack, they now have a decent young core around which to rebuild if they decide to blow up the current Zach Randolph/Darius Miles model. The risk for the Blazers is that Thomas or Foye may become a better player than Aldridge or Roy. If so, Portland fans will remember it and all those draft-night moves will be seen as nothing more than sound and fury signifying nothing.
Sacramento Kings
Picks: Quincy Douby (19)
Kings GM Geoff Petrie raised some eyebrows by passing on point guard Marcus Williams, but it’s hard to argue with his track record. The Kings needed a shooting guard with some pop off the bench, and this wiry little guy led the Big East in scoring. He could be a Bobby Jackson-type, able to take some pressure off Mike Bibby, Ron Artest and Kevin Martin. He’s also something of an insurance policy in case Bonzi Wells leaves as a free agent.
San Antonio Spurs
Picks: Damir Markota (59), traded to the Bucks
They didn’t have a first-round pick, having dealt it to New York in 2005 for Nazr Mohamed. GM R.C. Buford tried to acquire one in the days leading up to the draft but couldn’t. They wound up taking Markota in the second round and trading him to Milwaukee for a 2007 second-round pick. Not much to get excited about, but at least they didn’t add to the payroll.
Seattle SuperSonics
Picks: Mouhamed Saer Sene (10); Denham Brown (40); Yotam Halperin (53)
Fans in Coffee City probably aren’t toasting a cup of Starbucks over another center prospect (following Robert Swift and Johan Petro). But the 6-11 Sene is a long-armed shot blocker with great potential. The Sonics can stash him overseas and see how he develops. Brown, a sharpshooter from Ray Allen’s alma mater of UConn, has an outside shot at making the roster. Halperin, an Israeli guard, has a year left on his contract with Maccabi Tel-Aviv, so he won’t play for the Sonics next season. The Sonics tried hard to trade down here, and took a bit of a risk in passing on J.J. Redick. If he makes an impact next season in Orlando, the Sonics won’t look good.
Toronto Raptors
Picks: Andrea Bargnani (1); P.J. Tucker (35); Edin Bavcic (56)
New GM Bryan Colangelo tried to trade down, but there was little doubt he was going to nab Bargnani — a top international prospect for the NBA’s international city. The big Italian’s shooting touch should make him a good fit alongside Chris Bosh in a new wide-open Raptors attack. But Colangelo can only hope Bargnani will someday be famous for more than just being the first European to go No. 1 overall. In the second round the Raptors added Tucker, a rebounding forward from Texas, who only adds to the suddenly loaded Toronto frontcourt.
Utah Jazz
Picks: Ronnie Brewer (14); Dee Brown (46); Paul Millsap (47)
They expected to land Saer Sene or J.J. Redick with their top pick, but both were gone. So they gladly settled for Brewer, even though they didn’t work him out. Brewer, a star at Arkansas, is a good athlete and defender who can play three positions. He should help add some much needed-depth to the Jazz perimeter. Utah also picked up a good second-round prospect in Brown, a tough little guy who was a proven winner alongside Jazz point guard Deron Williams at Illinois.
Washington Wizards
Picks: Oleksiy Pecherov (18); Vladimir Veremeenko (48)
You know the Cold War is over when our nation’s capital welcomes not one but two former Soviet-bloc players to its basketball team. Pecherov, a skinny, 6-11 forward from Ukraine, is the real prospect. He is considered a good shooter and rebounder, but he’ll need a couple of years to bulk up and learn the NBA game. He reportedly has a buyout on his contract with Paris Basket Racing. Washington GM Ernie Grunfeld took something of a risk in passing on players Quincy Douby, Rajon Rondo and Josh Boone, but he apparently wants to stockpile big men (see Andray Blatche, P.J. Ramos).

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