Portland, Seattle come up big on draft night

Portland, Seattle come up big on draft night

Portland, Seattle come up big on draft night
June 29th, 2007

(Sports Network) - The 2007 NBA Draft is history. There were plenty of trades and surprising picks which should keep NBA fans talking throughout the offseason.

The top two picks went as expected, and then the fun started. An All-Star guard was traded back to the Eastern Conference, while another team from the East added an impact big man in what appears to be a one-sided deal.

Some franchises had big nights and will be applauded by the media and their fan base. Other clubs seemed to be lacking direction and made decisions that will have most scratching their heads in disbelief.

Which teams had slam dunk evenings, and what front offices were off their game?

WINNERS:

1. PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS
- This franchise hopes center Greg Oden is the savior. Portland selected the Ohio State product with the No. 1 overall pick in the draft. The seven-foot Oden is one of those players who comes along once in a decade. Oden, who is just 19-years-old, is very athletic, plays strong on the defensive end around the basket and runs the floor effectively. He is still developing his low-post game offensively, but with more experience he will polish his moves and should become a dominant force in the paint.

The selection of Oden makes this draft a slam dunk for Portland. However, the Trail Blazers also added Spaniard Rudy Fernandez, who was originally selected by Phoenix with the 24th overall pick in round one, and Duke product Josh McRoberts with the 12th pick in the second round. Fernandez has drawn comparisons to San Antonio's Manu Ginobili, while McRoberts was projected to be a first-round selection and is a strong pick at No. 37 overall.

Portland did deal forward Zach Randolph and guards Fred Jones and Dan Dickau to the New York Knicks for Steve Francis and Channing Frye. The 25-year-old Randolph led the team in scoring (23.6 ppg) and rebounding (10.3 rpg) in the 2006-07 campaign. The Randolph trade favors New York, but nothing can take away from the addition of Oden.

2. SEATTLE SUPERSONICS - Want to rebuild on draft night? Teams will be looking at what Seattle did at the 2007 NBA Draft for many years to come. The SuperSonics grabbed multi-talented forward Kevin Durant of Texas with the second overall pick, and dealt All-Star shooting guard Ray Allen, who turns 32 on July 20th, to Boston for guard Delonte West, forwards Wally Szczerbiak and Georgetown's Jeff Green, who was chosen with the No. 5 overall pick. Boston also received Seattle's No. 35 pick in the second round, LSU forward Glen Davis, while the SuperSonics will receive a future second-round pick.

Durant was the most talented offensive player in the draft, while Green is also expected to make an immediate impact. In one night, Seattle, which has missed the playoffs two straight years, changed the face of its franchise and started the rebuilding process. Durant and Green will both play big minutes right away and will give the SuperSonics an exciting duo at the forward spots.

A seven-time All-Star, Allen, who averaged a team-best 26.4 points in 55 games this past season, is still one of the best outside shooters in the NBA, but the SuperSonics were not winning with him. Forward Rashard Lewis is an unrestricted free agent and is expected to be playing in a new uniform in 2007-08. The time for change had arrived, and Seattle's front office did a great job by adding two future stars.

3. ATLANTA HAWKS - Florida's Al Horford and Acie Law of Texas A&M will step in right away and help the Hawks get back into playoff contention. Atlanta had a pair of first-round picks in this year's draft, and put them to good use. Horford was selected with the third overall pick, while Law was taken at No. 11.

Horford, who joins young forwards Josh Smith and Marvin and Shelden Williams in the Atlanta frontcourt, is a power forward. He can score in the low post, plays physical defense and is a monster on the boards. The Florida product can knock down a mid-range jumper and will put up big numbers right away for the Hawks, who have not qualified for the playoffs since 1998.

Law was the second point guard selected in the draft, as Memphis took Ohio State's Mike Conley with the fourth overall pick. Law fills a void for the Hawks, and will team with All-Star Joe Johnson to give the Hawks an athletic and talented backcourt.

4. NEW YORK KNICKS - Isiah Thomas drafted a player he had targeted, as the Knicks added DePaul forward Wilson Chandler with the 23rd overall pick. While Chandler is a solid pick, his selection does not make New York a winner. The acquisition of Zach Randolph from Portland has landed the Knicks in the winner circle.

Randolph, who turns 26 on July 16th, is a proven commodity. He can score down low and is a strong rebounder. Thomas wanted to make a big move, and that is just what he did. And don't forget, New York also got rid of Steve Francis and his big contract in the deal. Channing Frye had a disappointing 2006-07 campaign for the Knicks and may benefit from a change of scenery.

Thomas needs to win now. He survived last season, as the Knicks showed improvement even though they finished just 33-49. With Randolph in the fold, they actually have a legitimate shot at getting back to the postseason. A great night for Knicks' fans.

LOSERS:

1. BOSTON CELTICS
- What else can Danny Ainge do to this franchise? The fear of Paul Pierce, who averaged 25.0 points, 5.9 rebounds and 4.1 assists this past season, asking for a trade may have made Ainge trade away the fifth overall pick for an aging star in Allen. Yes, the Celtics have a good shot at getting back to the postseason next year, but a quick fix was not what this team needed.

Allen and Pierce will makeup a potent one-two scoring punch. Did Ainge forget that they are a shooting guard and small forward? Boston needed a young frontcourt player to complement 22-year-old Al Jefferson, who averaged 16.0 points and a team-best 11.0 rebounds in just his third year in the league.

If Boston would have kept the fifth overall pick, Jeff Green, Florida's Corey Brewer, Yia Jianlian of China and North Carolina's Brandan Wright would have all been excellent choices. The Celtics want to get back to the glory days, and the deal with Seattle was not a step in that direction.

Keeping the fifth pick and seeing if Pierce would ask for a trade would not have been the worst thing for the Celtics.

2. CHARLOTTE BOBCATS - North Carolina's Brandan Wright slipped to No. 8 and the Bobcats were lucky enough to be there to take him. But, to trade him to Golden State for Jason Richardson. What was Charlotte thinking?

The 26-year-old Richardson's production was down big time last season for the Warriors. He averaged 16.0 points, down from his 23.2 points per game in 2005-06. Richardson was hampered by a knee injury and missed 31 contests.

Wright was a steal at No. 8. He is athletic and would have fit well with Emeka Okafor and Adam Morrison. Gerald Wallace, who led Charlotte in scoring (18.1 ppg) this past season, is testing the free agent market, which probably made the Bobcats pull the trigger on the deal with Golden State.

Bottom line, Wright is loaded with that dangerous word, potential. Another young player from a winning program would have been perfect for the Bobcats. Jared Dudley of Boston College was a nice pick at No. 22 for Charlotte. Unfortunately, the trade with Golden State makes this club a loser on draft night.

3. LOS ANGELES LAKERS - The Kobe Bryant/Lakers soap opera will definitely continue into the summer. Draft night was the perfect time for the Lakers to make a statement to their superstar. Kobe wants to win now. He has questioned the team's directions and commitment to winning.

For the second year in a row the Lakers picked a point guard in the first round. They picked UCLA's Jordan Farmar with the 26th overall selection in 2006, and grabbed Javaris Crittenton of Georgia Tech at No. 19 this year. Guaranteed, Bryant isn't jumping for joy.

The Lakers needed to make a trade. They had to do something that showed Kobe that help was on the way. Trade talk was alive and well at the draft, but the Lakers couldn't turn the rumors into reality. Not a good night for Lakers' fans.

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Re: Portland, Seattle come up big on draft night

Sonics get high marks in Draft 101
FOXSports.com

After a long night, there wasn't quite as much action as what some expected. Kevin Garnett is still in Minnesota, Kobe in L.A. and Jermaine O'Neal in Indiana — at least for now.

However, there were a few trades — with Danny Ainge always willing to mix it up. We're handing out grades for each NBA team — and we'll warn you. We don't just give grades — unlike plenty of college professors. You have to earn them the hard way.

EASTERN CONFERENCE

Atlanta Hawks:
Surprisingly, Billy Knight and the Hawks didn't mess this one up. They made the safe pick in Al Horford at No. 3 and then went with another no-brainer by taking the highest-rated point guard still on the board in Acie Law IV.
Grade: B

Boston Celtics: It's no secret that Danny Ainge likes to wheel and deal. This time he dealt a worn-down Wally Sczerbiak, backup combo guard Delonte West and the fifth pick (Jeff Green) for a soon-to-be 32-year-old Ray Allen coming off a pair of ankle surgeries. Ainge also nabbed a second-rounder in the deal and went out and drafted Gabe Pruitt and Glen "Big Baby" Davis with the Celtics two second-round picks.
Grade: C+

Charlotte Bobcats:
Michael Jordan should be popping champagne. The Bobcats owner watched as he picked Brandan Wright with the 8th pick and proceeded to deal him to Golden State for athletic wing Jason Richardson. The franchise also got cerebral forward Jared Dudley with No. 22 — the ACC Player of the Year who will be a valuable piece.
Grade: B+

Chicago Bulls: The Bulls already have a terrific young nucleus with Ben Gordon and Kirk Hinrich in the backcourt and Luol Deng up front. Ben Wallace isn't getting any younger and while he's not quite as physical, Joakim Noah (No. 9) will bring a similar intensity in the middle. Chicago also drafted plodding big man Aaron Gray in the second round, which was worth the flyer.
Grade: B

Cleveland Cavaliers: The Cavs didn't have a pick in the draft. If I were them, I would have shipped out Drew Gooden for a barber.
Grade: Incomplete

Detroit Pistons: Joe Dumars was a small-school guy coming out of McNeese State, so it's no surprise he went with Eastern Washington combo guard Rodney Stuckey with the 15th overall pick. Stuckey is a guy who could eventually be the next Chauncey Billups. The Pistons also took Arron Afflalo late in the first round at No. 27.
Grade: C+

Indiana Pacers: I think Larry Bird might have gone back to French Lick or something. Then he woke up and made a huge move — he acquired the household name of Stanko Barac for a second round pick next year.
Grade: Who Really Cares

Miami Heat: The Heat needed help for Shaq and D-Wade. They added Daequan Cook in a flip of picks with the 76ers. Miami also dealt Stanko Barac, the 39th pick, to Indiana for a second-rounder next year.
Grade: C-

Milwaukee Bucks: The Bucks fell in love with the Workout Wonder. Yi Jianlian doesn't know much about Milwaukee — other than the fact that he's been told he doesn't want to go there. This marriage will end in divorce. However, the Bucks did rebound well by getting point guard Ramon Sessions in the second round.
Grade: C+

New Jersey Nets: Let's face it. There's more than a few guys in the league that smoke marijuana. The bottom line is that no one except for Greg Oden has the ability to change the game defensively in this draft like Williams. He's a freak athlete and Jason Kidd will love him. Great risk-reward pick by the Nets.
Grade: B+

New York Knicks: Wilson Chandler at No. 23 is a reach — just like Renaldo Balkman was a year ago. But the bigger news was the deal that sent Stevie Francis and Channing Frye to Portland for Zach Randolph and a bag of balls (sorry Dan Dickau). Just imagine Randolph in New York City.
Grade: D+

Orlando Magic: It was a non-descript draft for the Magic, who got North Carolina forward Reyshawn Terry in the second round.
Grade: C+

Philadelphia 76ers: Solid, but not spectacular. They got three solid pieces, but it won't be enough. They needed to deal two of them and get into the Top 10. Thaddeus Young will take a few years to develop, Jason Smith is a serviceable and skilled big man and Derrick Byars can be a quality piece.
Grade: C

Toronto Raptors: Zippo for the Raptors.
Grade: Incomplete

Washington Wizards: Gilbert Arenas is threatening to leave after his contract expires — and the Wizards addressed it already by bringing in another cocky, ex-Pac 10 standout. Nick Young is bigger and has some of the same scoring ability.
Grade: B

WESTERN CONFERENCE

Dallas Mavericks:
The Mavs got Nick Fazekas early in the second round and a pair of Europeans whose names I can't pronounce. Fazekas runs like my grandmother (sorry, Nana).
Grade: C

Denver Nuggets: The Nuggets were inactive.
Grade: Incomplete

Golden State Warriors: Dealing Jason Richardson for Brandan Wright. Wow. Terrible move. NBA folks like Wright because of his length, but Don Nelson won't like how soft he is. Then the Warriors went with Marco Belinelli, the 6-foot-5 guard.
Grade: C

Houston Rockets: The Rockets went with Aaron Brooks at No. 26 overall, which was somewhat of a reach. They went for Aussie shooter Brad Newley.
Grade: C+

Los Angeles Clippers: OK, I can't believe I'm saying this — but the Clippers had a terrific draft. They took Al Thornton at No. 14, who will compliment Elton Brand and Corey Maggette well, and then got a solid floor leader in Jared Jordan midway through the second round.
Grade: B+

Los Angeles Lakers: Now replacing Kobe Bryant is. ... Sun Yue. OK, so that's a stretch. However, the Lakers didn't fare all that well on Thursday night. Los Angeles took scoring point guard Javaris Crittenton and I'm not sold on this one because the Lakers already have Jordan Farmar. If Kobe is shipped out, it would be difficult to imagine Farmar and Crittenton together in the backcourt. It would be even tougher to imagine a Kobe-Crittenton backcourt.
Grade: C-

Memphis Grizzlies: This was Jerry West's Swan Song as the GM of the Grizzlies. He fell in love with Mike Conley Jr., because of his ability to make those around him better. Now the question is what they do with Kyle Lowry.
Grade: B

Minnesota Timberwolves: The T-Wolves finished the night with Kevin Garnett still employed — and the perennial All-Star won't quite have enough help. He'll have a couple of winners on board, but that was in college. This is the pros. Corey Brewer can defend, but that won't help Garnett all that much. Chris Richard would be a terrific bodyguard for K.G.
Grade: C

New Orleans Hornets: The Hornets nabbed Julian Wright at 13th overall. He's not a great shooter, but he won't have to be with Chris Paul running the show. Paul, Wright and Tyson Chandler should be pretty lethal on the break.
Grade: B-

Phoenix Suns: The Suns just couldn't get into the Top 10, so they took Rudy Fernandez at No. 24 and traded him away for cash. Maybe now they can keep Shawn Marion. Steve Kerr and David Griffin also took Alando Tucker, who will look good down at the end of the bench.
Grade: D+

Portland Trailblazers: Kevin Pritchard was a busy guy, but only one thing mattered. He got his franchise player when he took Greg Oden numero uno. The other big news was the trade where he got Stevie Francis and Channing Frye from the Knicks and was able to unload Zach Randolph. Basically, he traded one problem child in Randolph for another in Stevie Franchise. He also added Josh McRoberts, Petteri Koponen, Taurean Green and Demetris Nichols. Someone may want to tell Pritchard this isn't the NFL.
Grade: A-

Sacramento Kings: It's true that the Kings are in dire need of quality size, but they needed athleticism up front. Hawes is skilled, but he's not overly athletic. We're torn on this one because Hawes can be a quality NBA player — it just might not be a quality fit.
Grade: C+

San Antonio Spurs: The Spurs love those imports. They took big man Tiago Splitter out of Brazil, but they won't see him in the states for another year. Marcus Williams was worth the risk in the second round. It's hard to question this franchise with its recent track record.
Grades: B-

Seattle SuperSonics: New general manager Sam Presti had a no-brainer with Durant at No. 2, but it was his trade that got our attention. The young boss wasn't afraid to take a risk by trading away aging shooting guard Ray Allen in a deal to Boston that brought multi-dimensional forward Jeff Green and role players Delonte West and Wally Sczerbiak. Who cares about Wally World. Green will be the third-best player to come out of this draft.
Grade: A-

Utah Jazz: Morris Almond at No. 25 and Herbert Hill in the second round. Not a bad night all things considered.
Grade: C+

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Re: Portland, Seattle come up big on draft night

NBA draft's winners and losers
Dan Wetzel
Yahoo! Sports

NEW YORK – With the green room empty, the heckling fans gone home and the newly minted NBA players wondering if they can return those suits, it's time to take a look back on the winners and losers of Thursday's NBA draft at Madison Square Garden.

WINNER: Portland Trail Blazers – They got Greg Oden. At the end of the day, that's all that really mattered. At the team's draft party, fans stormed the court in celebration of landing an athletic 7-footer who is a supreme defensive talent and an absolutely great guy. This is the start of a great run.

That said, the trade with the New York Knicks was a bit baffling, Portland giving up 20-and-10 machine Zach Randolph to take Stevie Franchise Killer and a sort of stalled-out Channing Frye. Opening things up for LaMarcus Aldridge and eliminating about the last of the Jail Blazers makes sense, but was this the best the Blazers could get? You really want Francis in that locker room?

Is what they have now up front – Oden, Aldridge, Travis Outlaw and Frye – better than if they had gone with Aldridge, Randolph, Outlaw and Kevin Durant? Yes, probably because it is a struggle to play Randolph and Aldridge at the same time, but it's a fair question to ask.

Of course, in the end, it hardly matters. The Blazers are still big winners. Oden is Oden, the franchise is relevant again and Portland has an inside track on a second consecutive Rookie of the Year.

LOSER: Boston Celtics – The trade for Ray Allen was a head-scratcher, even by Danny Ainge standards. Can the Celtics ever trade for a guy not coming off of surgery? Does Ainge know that NBA statutes actually allow this?

Boston gave up the five pick, Delonte West and Wally Szczerbiak for another gunner with questionable ankles. Maybe his brain/personality profile fits into Ainge's qualifications. (They also got Glen "Big Baby" Davis, which means buying stock in Bickford's isn't a bad idea right now.)

Perhaps Allen is the "veteran" that will keep Paul Pierce from going Kobe on the franchise and demanding a trade, but it can't be seen as anything but a desperation move by a front office and coaching staff trying to hang onto their jobs.

The ultimate insult is the parade of players who refused to be traded to the winningest franchise in NBA history. The Celtics are the new Clippers, which is almost unbelievable to imagine.

WINNER: Seattle SuperSonics – Not only do they get Kevin Durant, the most exciting player to enter the league Thursday and a future 10-time all-star and highlight-making machine, they also shipped out Allen to get Jeff Green, the big-time scorer from Georgetown, an outside shooter in Szczerbiak and a rotation guard in West. Plus, with Allen gone, they have the money to re-sign Rashad Lewis.

That's a heck of a night for a franchise starting a brand new era. Durant is such a thrilling talent that he may even be able to energize the city and help get an arena built. If not, he'll be a mega-star in Las Vegas, the new-age Sinatra on the Strip. It's a win-win for the Sonics.

LOSER:
Los Angeles Lakers – Javaris Crittenton? Yep, that ought to do it. Kobe Bryant is currently wandering Orange County parking lots looking for rogue film crews to tape his latest rant against the franchise.

The Lakers couldn't get Kevin Garnett or any other difference maker that Bryant wanted and if they thought he wanted out of L.A. before, heaven knows what is coming now. Is there really any way he would pull a 180 and show up at training camp as a productive leader eager to help mentor Andrew "Are you kidding me?" Bynum. Agree or not with Kobe, the Lakers needed to do something to solve this problem.

A young and erratic (if gifted) point guard out of Georgia Tech wasn't it. Of course, they did pick up Marc Gasol in the second round. Maybe they can confuse Kobe and make him believe they got Marc's brother, Pau.

At this point, the Lakers need to try something.

WINNER:
New York Knicks – Isiah Thomas has been an annual draft night loser, but this was one of the good ones for Thomas, who ditched one past mistake (Francis) and Frye to pick up Zach Randolph, a beast of a low-post scorer.

Now, how Randolph and Eddy Curry coexist down low is a major question, but at least Randolph plays hard. Of course, if he could find trouble in his hometown of Marion, Ind., and then Portland, uh, what's Manhattan going to do to him? And maybe Frye wasn't so bad. So this isn't the greatest night in the franchise's history.

But if nothing else, the move inspired the downtrodden Knicks fan base to foresee a better, brighter day. Then they landed a great athlete in Wilson Chandler.

For the Knicks, that doesn't make them good and doesn't solve all their past mistakes, but it at least makes them a little better.

WINNER: Scores – If the Manhattan gentleman's club was struggling financially, the arrival of Gentleman Zach Randolph can only be hailed as the start of the salad days for working girls and owners alike.

WINNER: Wilson Chandler – OK, the kid entered the draft after two seasons at DePaul with everyone saying he'd be a second-round choice. He then proceeded to work out for no teams and attend no draft camps. "He worked out for no one," said his agent, Chris Grier Luchey. And then the Knicks take him at 23. That is a truly incredible route to the first round.

LOSER: Money picks – The Phoenix Suns are trying to get over the hump and win a NBA title with a brief window (Steve Nash is 33) and now a young big man (Amare Stoudemire) who was deep on the trading block. So they trade the 24th overall pick to Portland for cash. They couldn't get anything that could help? They couldn't pay a little luxury tax?

Meanwhile, the Golden State Warriors have to ship Jason Richardson – whose high-wire act was perfect for their system and thrilled crowds – to the Charlotte Bobcats for Brandan Wright, who is talented but has consistency and toughness issues. It was all for the money since the Warriors can't pay Baron Davis and J-Rich, but for fans that's a tough thing to deal with. Golden State was more exciting and better before the draft than after.

WINNER:
Atlanta Hawks – The Hawks kept their two lottery picks and landed Al Horford, who should be great, and a much-needed point guard in Texas A&M's Acie Law, who is a cold-blooded scorer down the stretch. Two solid picks by the Hawks. Plus they even avoided picking Yi Jianlian even though a part of the team's ownership group has business interests in China, as was reported this week.

WINNER: Mike Conley Sr. – In his first year as a sports agent, the former Olympic triple jump champion and AAU coach had three players (Greg Oden, Mike Conley Jr. and Daequan Cook) taken in the top 21 picks. That's a monster haul for a rookie.

Late Thursday, a round table of Armani-clad slime-ball agents gathered to orchestrate his immediate whacking. Try the onion rings, best in the state.

LOSER: Milwaukee Bucks – There were plenty of questions about Yi Jianlian – like, how old is he? 28? – even before the Milwaukee Bucks took him. But Yi's handlers want no part of Wisconsin, preferring a big market with a huge Asian population for their guy. They wouldn't even work out for Milwaukee, a city with just 27,500 Asian-Americans according to the Associated Press.

Yi has no choice, so he'll probably play for the Bucks and learn to love beer, cheese and brats as much as the next guy. Heck, one tour of the Mars Cheese Castle ought to do it (get him the beer bottle-shaped salami or the "Cheddar Christmas Tree"). But taking a guy with so many question marks who may not want to be there to even some degree doesn't seem like such a smart policy.

WINNER:
Chicago Bulls – Always one of the most effective franchises on draft night (they never miss), the Bulls landed Joakim Noah who, with his energy and athletic ability, was born to play for Scott Skiles. No, he certainly doesn't solve their low-post scoring issues, but he fits in and will help Chicago immediately by doing all of the little things you need to win games.

WINNER:
Florida Gators – They had three picks in the fist nine (Al Horford, Corey Brewer and Noah) plus Chris Richard and Taurean Green, who went in Round 2. That's a great night for the Gators although Billy Donovan was suspiciously absent from the festivities. Either he had flight issues getting to New York or his NBA ban includes the green room. Or he just held a press conference claiming how happy he was to be here and then hurried back to Gainesville.

LOSER: Philadelphia 76ers – The Sixers had three first-round picks and wound up with Thaddeus Young, Jason Smith, Derrick Byars and some "cash considerations." Not terrible but not overwhelming considering the potential of the night.

WINNER: Sean Williams – The Boston College shot blocker was booted off the team in midseason for repeated drug test failures. But he still went No. 17 to the New Jersey Nets, and he should be a great pickup. The good news is the Nets shouldn't have to worry about Williams smoking any more pot because, as we all know, NBA players never do stuff like that. He'll be insulated from the weed culture of America. It's like an alcoholic joining the Mormons. Nothing bad can happen now.

WINNER: Agricultural Leadership – That's what Acie Law majored in at Texas A&M and far be it from us to make fun of the course work at the Harvard of the Brazos River Valley. After all, this Agricultural Leadership student just became a millionaire at the age of 22. But what the heck is "Agricultural Leadership" again? "It's a wide-open field," he said. And he didn't even intend the pun.

WINNER:
The Three UMass Fans At The Draft – Here's the beauty of the NBA draft – other than Joakim Noah wearing a bow tie or the screaming at Stephen A. Smith or chanting outrageous things about Duke players.

Deep in the second round just as deputy commissioner Adam Silver announced to a mostly silent theater that with the 46th pick Golden State had selected Stephane Lasme out of UMass, a wild and loud cheer went out. In the stands were three guys wearing UMass basketball jerseys cheering, high-fiving and eventually hugging each other in a show of complete jubilation and support because their guy had been chosen.

This was their night. They wait nearly five hours to hear a mostly anonymous player on a mostly anonymous team go No. 46. Then they promptly left.

That, folks, is NBA draft magic right there.

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Re: Portland, Seattle come up big on draft night

2007 NBA Draft Grades
by Robert Ferringo

Is there a bigger gamble within the sporting world than the NBA Draft? There's really no way to know which one of the players selected is going to flake out on you. Who's going to beat his wife? Who is going to get busted with the biggest bag of herb? Or who is going to change his name to Bison Dele and then get murdered by his older brother out at sea?

Gambling is what must be done when we're talking about young and undereducated American prospects or young and untested European ones. It's all conjecture. And that's what makes the draft so deliciously appealing. No one can really tell who is going to pan out and who isn't because basketball is such a dynamic, fluid, intangible game. It doesn't rely on the cold execution on the football field or the subtle mathematics of baseball. It's a game of flow, and you just can never be sure how certain players will gel.

But if the NBA Draft is a gamble, then the general managers have to be considered as poker players. And like with cards, you may not be able to control everything that happens to you but you just need to play the odds, know when to take a shot, and hope to catch a break or two.

Last night's NBA Draft has to be considered relatively nondescript. There weren't any major deals - certainly not any up to the level that ESPN had hyped in the days leading up to the draft in order to drum up some interest - and there weren't even that many ridiculous selections. I mean, there are some guys who teams had no choice but take, even though we all know they aren't going to be any good. But other than that, everything pretty much held form with what I had laid out in my 2007 NBA Mock Draft earlier this week.

And with that in mind, here are my snap judgment grades for how each team made out:


Atlanta (A-) - They got a stud point guard and a power forward with Elton Brand potential. I love Acie Law and think he'll be a great player in this league. They get docked for unveiling their new jerseys (did they think they got relegated to the ABA?) and because they could have had a shot at Amare Stoudamire. But ultimately it was a shockingly successful night.

Boston (B-) - I'm not a huge fan of the Ray Allen trade, but I do think that it makes them better immediately. He still has one or two very good years left in him, even if he's never an All-Star again. I really like the Big Baby pick. He would have gone in the Top 10 if he had come out last year.

Charlotte (B+) - I thought I liked the Jason Richardson deal, and then when I heard that ass clown Stephen A. Smith railing Michael Jordan for it I knew that it was a good trade. Richardson is an outstanding fit with the Bobcats, who didn't need another young project. They also grabbed one of my favorite players in the draft, Jared Dudley, who will produce immediately.

Chicago (C-) - I think they bit on two of the worst players available - Carrot Top Noah and Aaron Gray. JamesOn Curry was an intriguing get and they didn't bite on Spencer Hawes. But while they went after guys that seem to fit their needs, I'm not sure any of these three (except maybe Curry) will be able to address them.

Cleveland (N/A) - They didn't have any selections.

Dallas (D) - I don't see Nick Fazekas having much of an NBA impact, and their other two picks were zany foreigners. I'm not impressed.

Denver (N/A) - They didn't have any selections.

Detroit (B) - Let's not get too excited about Stuckey until he actually proves something. That said, I think they restocked the backcourt with two strong selections and Sammy Meijia has a shot at to be a poor man's Tayshaun Prince. On their practice team, that is.

Golden State (A-) - They saved money with the Richardson deal, got a guy with exceptional upside (B. Wright), and grabbed a foreigner (M. Belinelli) that will fit in well with Nelly's style. On top of that they grabbed a one-dimensional player (Lasme) that happens to excel at that one dimension - defending the rim.

Houston (C-) - I like Brooks, but I think this is a curious fit for him. The Rockets also could have grabbed Big Baby here but instead went with Carl Landry. It could have been worse, but it also could have been a whole lot better.

Indiana (C+)
- With only one second round pick it's really tough to gauge here.

L.A. Clippers (B+) - Thornton fell in their lap and they had the good sense to grab him. He should add a new dimension to the Clips. I also loved the Jared Jordan pick. This guy can ball in a big way, and was one of the top five point guards in college basketball last year. I don't know if he's athletic enough, but he definitely has the skills.

L.A. Lakers (C+) - This is great; it's like they're fucking with Kobe Bryant by drafting guys that they know aren't ready to play and will take years to develop. Classic.

Memphis (B+) - They had more general managers (two) than they did picks (one) but they didn't reach for Wright and ended up with the top point guard in the draft. Good show.

Miami (D)
- They needed a point guard and they drafted an underdeveloped G/F that rode the bench for his college team. They could have tried to trade up or down, but instead blew it on a guy that isn't a first round talent.

Milwaukee (B-) - It rarely ends well when a team drafts a guy that said beforehand that he doesn't want to play there. If Yi is as good as some scouts think then the Bucks could end up with an absolutely dominating frontcourt, so it might be worth the gamble.

Minnesota (D+) - Of all the moves out there to make for Kevin Garnett the T-Wolves couldn't get one of them done. I love Corey Brewer's game, but he's not someone whose contributions are going to be appreciated right away. And Chris Richard is awful.

New Jersey (D-) - I know they needed size, but they took the one lock for Guy Whose Career Is Marred By Legal Issues. Williams does not have the motivation - or the skill - to be an NBA player. Size simply isn't enough. This was their only pick and they missed it badly.

New Orleans (C+) - The book on Julian Wright is that he does everything but shoot and score. So, he's Mark Madsen. The Hornets picked up The Mad Dog, Part Deux with the No. 13 pick. Not good. Also, his favorite TV personality is Stephen A. Smith. Enough said.

New York (C+) - As much as I hate to say it, the Knicks actually had a decent draft night. They picked up Zach Randolph, who could give them solid numbers if he doesn't follow his lunatic tendencies. Wilson Chandler - an underachiever with no offensive refinement - is a vintage Isiah pick.

Orlando (C-)
- This is giving them credit for the Darko trade (they gave up the No. 1). Rayshawn Terry is a chump and there were a handful of players taken after him that the Magic would have been better off with.

Philadelphia (A) - Very quietly the 76ers have rebuilt their franchise. I think they got their hands on two fantastic prospects (Thad Young and Derrick Byars). One of those guys is going to pan out and play in multiple All-Star games. Herbert Hill is a lunch pail guy and although I'm not a fan of Jason Smith's, he does fit a need and I suppose he has a modicum of potential. But he's the only pick here keeping them from an A+.

Phoenix (B-) - I loved all three of their selections; it's just a shame they couldn't keep Rudy Fernandez, whom I'm very high on. They are in a tough spot because they've been more fiscally reckless than the former Republican Congress. But I think they did well with what they had to work with.

Portland (A++) - I really don't see how their night could have gone much better. They landed a franchise center, they dumped a head case and they scored three outstanding prospects. We all know about Oden, but the guy I'm really excited about is Rudy Fernandez. McRoberts has some versatility and athleticism. Taurean Green is just a winner, a clutch player and the leading scorer for the national champions. Throw in a solid Channing Frye pickup and the financial flexibility they'll get from dumping Randolph and buying out Steve Francis and this was an exceptional draft night.

Sacramento (D) - Spencer Hawes sucks. He's unathletic and overrated. Any one of the next six guys picked after him would have been a better choice. This is a selection that will be mocked for a decade.

San Antonio (B+) - After showing up in mock drafts for what seems like ages, someone actually took Tiago Splitter. He fits perfectly into the Spurs' system and they can leave him overseas until he's ready. Marcus Williams has first-round athleticism. It will be a matter of whether Pops can get him to work. If so, he could be a steal.

Seattle (C-) - Yes, they got Durant. But is this team better today than it was on Monday? I say no. I like Jeff Green a lot, but I have questions about how his game is going to translate. He'll be a solid supplement on a good team, but he's not really a piece to build around. They also took on that horrific Wally Szczerbiak contract, which was curious. That's going to hinder their efforts to give Durant players to work with, and if they can't keep Rashard Lewis then this team went from promising to putrid very quickly.

Toronto (N/A) - They didn't have any selections.

Utah (B) - They wanted a shooter and they got the one they needed. Simple and effective, just like the Jazz.

Washington (B) - I love Nick Young and think they got a steal there. The team now has a legit third perimeter scorer like they had two seasons ago with the Hughes-Arenas-Butler trio.

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