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Grading The Teams That Supposedly Drafted Well

The Kings certainly deserve all A's for nabbing Thomas Robinson at #5 in Thursday's draft.The following teams all earned grades of B+ or higher from nearly every internet pundit who graded each team’s draft haul from Thursday night. Because we don’t simply accept the status quo here at Behind The Basket, I’ve taken a closer look at what each of these supposed “smart” teams did with their available picks in the 2012 Draft (franchises had to have at least one first rounder to be mentioned here). Although I have to agree with some of these conclusions, if the facts and evidence point to a different conclusion than what all the other experts think, you’ll see what grade they should have gotten and an explanation why below.  

Boston Celtics: The team nabbed very strong, very skilled PF Jared Sullinger with the #21 pick after falling due to some questions about the health of his back, and then grabbed shot-blocking center Fab Melo with the #22 spot. Boston received great grades for getting Sullinger so late in the draft after being a projected top-10 pick until his back got red-flagged by a doctor a week ago, and Melo is supposed to bring some defensive toughness to help aging KG inside. Melo’s Syracuse teammate Kris Joseph was picked up at #51, but won’t be of any consequence. Truth: Sullinger was indeed a huge steal this late in the first round considering how productive he has been at Ohio State. He did miss 2 games this past season due to back trouble, but he’s an absolute steal in the 20’s considering how many players who never produced in college were taken before him. Melo, on the other hand, is far more hype and hope than reality, and he entered the draft with every type of issue you can imagine (legal, conditioning, academic, attitude); I just don’t see the 5.8 rpg (seriously, five point eight boards a night) center working out in the NBA, and the C’s should have done more with this pick. Real Grade: B+

Charlotte Bobcats: Everyone who graded the draft loves the hustle and intangibles that SF Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, the #2 pick, brings to this franchise. Many places noted that MKG was actually considered the second-best player in the draft, so good for Charlotte not doing something wild. Pundits also liked the defense that #31 selection Jeff Taylor will provide when Kidd-Gilchrist is on the bench since they both play SF. Truth: It’s my belief that they should have taken PF Thomas Robinson with the second pick, but MKG’s value is at least arguably on par or better, and it’s certainly a far better pick-up than had they screwed around with “potential” guys like Beal, Drummond, or Waiters. I think Taylor is being severely underrated at this point, and he should be playing 24-30 minutes/game by the end of the season, regardless of what position titles they need to assign these two players. Real Grade: A

Chicago Bulls: Derrick Rose will miss most of the season due to an ACL injury, so the Bulls picked up Kentucky PG Marquis Teague at #29. Although at least one pundit thought it was only an OK pick, most think it was great since Teague is hugely athletic and just won a national title. Truth: Teague is indeed very fast, but also a terrible decision maker, so the result is a player who makes mistakes very quickly. He is not a game-manager at all, forces bad passes and bad shots, and was yelled at by Coach Calipari pretty much constantly last year. He didn’t have the worst amount of turnovers of all the overrated PG’s, so he avoids the F. Real Grade: D-

Detroit Pistons: Pundits gave the Pistons mostly A’s for grabbing C Andre Drummond, the boom/bust draftee with the highest “boom” ceiling, at #9. Considering he has the size and athleticism to theoretically end up better than Anthony Davis, ninth was seen as a safe place to take the motivationally-challenged center. Some think SF Khris Middleton at #39 could stay in the league for a while, and SG Kim English at #44 provides good outside shooting. Truth: Not only is Drummond far too unsettled emotionally to ever be an elite pro, he is majorly lacking skills, has a perpetually sleepy look on his face, and was noted for being inconsistent and having a low motor long before going to UConn. Selecting him in the first round, let alone top-10, is a total bust of a pick. Middleton got worse as a junior, and although English only does one thing well (3-point shooting), he could be around for a little bit because of it — he's the reason they don't have an F. Real Grade: D-

Golden State Warriors: People have fluctuated back and forth so many times with what SF Harrison Barnes could be or should be, most agreed he was a solid pick at #7. Center Festus Ezeli at #30 was seen as a safe selection based on need, and everyone loves undersized-but-multi-skilled PF Draymond Green at #37 after posted two career triple-doubles in the tournament. Truth: You heard it hear first: Barnes should be able to be Tayshaun Prince minus the passing. He's a good catch-and-shoot threat but needs a decent PG to make it happen (fell apart without Kendall Marshall), and he has all the length and speed to be a great wing defender, which he showed in college. If you think a Prince-esque player who can’t pass is a good pick-up at 7, then I guess it’s OK. Ezeli has way too many issues (multiple injuries and suspensions, poor rebounder, no offensive game) to be taken over Kyle O’Quinn who went 19 picks later, and Green might make Golden State's opening day roster, but he really is too small and slow to stick in the league. Real Grade: C+

New Orleans Hornets: Anthony Davis is universally loved at #1, no one is sure what to make of SG-wannabe-PG Austin Rivers at #10 since he has all sorts of scoring skills and confidence but nothing resembling actual PG skills or sound decision-making, and multi-faceted SF Darius Miller at #46 somehow barely gets mentioned in most pundits’ write-ups. Truth: Davis was a gimme at #1 which shouldn’t automatically earn a high grade for NO because it takes no intelligence or vision to select him – frankly I won’t even factor his selection into their grade. We all saw that Rivers loves to play hero-ball and do things like take on a double-team instead of passing to an open man, so there is no way to play him next to Eric Gordon. He’s way too much of an inefficient prima donna to be considered a good selection. Miller could be a crafty little role player down the road, particularly if he focuses on improving his defense; it’s a decent pick for the middle of the second round. Real Grade: D+

You have no clue who that white chipmunk is in front of Perry Jones (1), but know that he was more efficient and consistent than Jones and came through more regularly in big wins than new Thunder rookie Jones. It's Brady Heslip, by the way.

Oklahoma City Thunder: Bloggers and pundits absolutely love the value the Thunder got with super-long PF Perry Jones at #28 since he’s shown an unbelievable array of skills in short bursts while at Baylor. If he reaches anything even close to his obscenely high athletic ceiling, people think this is a major steal that really helps OKC for several years. They earned all A’s and A+’s for this one. Truth: Much like Drummond, Jones is all hype and no reality. He was the fourth- best player on Baylor last year, and I’m not even including Quincy Miller. Jones’ mentality, consistency, drive, motor, etc. have all been questioned since as far back as his high school days (and his teams tend to underperform as well, so that’s bad), and he disappears forever on the court. He also has a knee issue that scared teams off. Yikes! Real Grade: F

Portland Trail Blazers: They needed a PG and C, so guess what, they got them both in the lottery! At #6, they nabbed super-scorer Damian Lillard who played at tiny Weber State and many people think will help ease LaMarcus Aldridge’s scoring load. A few picks later, Portland picked up big man Meyers Leonard at #11, which pundits liked since he has a great size/speed combo rarely seen in a center. The frosting on the cake was versatile scoring SG (and super-for-his-position rebounder) Will Barton at #40. Truth: Lillard’s highlights are all against terrible defenders because the few good teams he did face made him look pretty awful – that’s a troubling sign for a 6-feet-3 player who really isn’t a PG-level passer. Leonard is another “potential” guy who didn’t bring the goods in college, through great production or determination, as his Illini lost 12 of their last 14 contests. Barton could really be something special if his stick figure body holds up in the NBA – he’s the true saving grace of the Trail Blazers’ draft. Real Grade: C-

Sacramento Kings: Most experts believe Thomas Robinson was the second best talent in the draft, and he fell to the Kings at #5. Everyone likes everything he does, and pairing this great rebounder up with DeMarcus Cousins is already sounding awesome. Truth: No complaints here – absolute stud who fell to 5 because the Wizards wanted a 33% 3-point shooter tossing their bombs and the Cavs wanted the Big East Sixth Man of the Year. The Kings could have gotten cute and taken Barnes or Drummond, but they did the right thing. Real Grade: A+

Washington Wizards: The Zards got A’s across the board for taking SG Bradley Beal at #3. By taking a standout 3-point shooter with plenty of offensive craftiness, pundits feel Washington has a player who forces opposing defenses to spread out, which should open driving lanes for John Wall. Pairing the two together is supposed to help jumpstart an offense that’s been stagnant for years. They also picked up Czech SG/PG Tomas Satoransky of the Spanish League at #32, about whom Ball Don’t Lie said “Tomas Satoransky is a basketball player.” Truth: Beal has a nice looking stroke and is a great rebounder out of the backcourt, but the comparisons to Ray Allen are a tad ridiculous. Beal shot a below-average 33% behind the arc at Florida while Allen hit 45% in college, including 40% as a freshman. It’s not like Beal improved much in that area as the year went on, either, since he was only 18 of 51 (35%) over his last 10 games. I honestly think Beal has a nice little set of skills that will help some other team down the road, but it won’t be the Wizards because he’ll never be able to live up to the expectations of being the #3 pick since he just doesn’t have that type of talent. He’ll eventually be benched, labeled a bust in the local papers, and at some point be gone, and the next team will let him be what he is – a decent-not-great SG who occasionally gets hot (think about how much more valuable Shane Battier seemed once he was out of Memphis and no longer an underperforming #6 pick). Satoransky might have been only the tenth-best international available, so that was a wasted early-second round pick. Real Grade: D+

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Reader Comments (6)

Throughut your articles, you have been very critical of AUstin Rivers. What are you using to form your opinion of his attitude? Have you talked to his coaches and teammates?

July 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJamesD

I saw him play a little bit in high school, when I first started hearing about his questionable attitude and that he was tough to take as a teammate. He looked great on the first step but certainly wasn't a willing passer. Then I saw him play a bunch of times in college, and his questionable decision-making was quite evident, and scouts continued to use words like "prima donna" to explain how me-centered vs team-centered he was. His efficiency stats all fall in the average-to-bad range (43% FG, 37% 3FG, 66% FT, 2.1/2.3 ast/tov), so there's no signs there of anything he's doing super well. Then on draft nights as the talking heads are trying to explain how Rivers can be a PG, Bilas explains that Duke had no other PG and everyone else was a catch-and-shoot guy as if that was a reason for why he wasn't effective as a PG -- it sounds like he had the perfect opportunity to show he could be a PG. He obviously isn't, and as a SG he's an ineffective black hole.

Beyond this whole "he's confident and has a great first step" argument, which neglects to point out he's not particularly athletic so that first step gets worse in the NBA, I'm not sure what people are thinking with him.

July 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterZachariah Blott

So my opinion on his attitude is formed by realizing all of the scouts who have seen him play on multiple teams in multiple team dynamics for years believe this to be true and have no reason to make it up, he's not a willing passer, and he certainly never strikes you as someone who's getting along great with his teammates (his facial express usually looks like he can't believe his teammates are ruining his game of 1-on-1 that he's winning). Sure that last one is partial and likely helped along by me reading report after report of how me-centered he is, but scout after scout keeps seeing it and saying it, and I don't see anything different than that when I watch his body language or facial expressions. I can't think of a guy who had that much "prima donna with bad attitude" things written about him in college who turned out to not be similar to that in the league. If you do know of one, please let me know.

Same with guys who (and these aren't in reference to AR, just in general) had "low motors," were "inconsistent," "made bad decisions," etc.

July 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterZachariah Blott

Seems what you've heard is heavily influencing what you think. Basically, you are killing the decision making of a college freshman transitioning from SG to PG at the highest level of college basketball on a team with no one else capable of creating a shot for his teammates. When he does pass (lehigh game Seth Curry 1-9) and his teammates don't make shots, then he tries to take over and win the game, doing what he knows best. seems the criticism is a little too harsh.

I wonder why Kryzewski didn't have Seth Curry or any of his other PG's run the offense since they are not prima donna's and are willing passers?

July 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJamesD

Rivers has done nothing to change my thought on the scouts' opinions of his attitude/me-first mindset in the 10-12 games I've seen him in, going back to 2 with Team USA in high school. He just doesn't get it, and the stats don't help him out here either.

Now if I hear things from the scouts over and over that my observation and the stats don't support at all (Beal is an amazing 3-pt shooter), you certainly won't see me blindly agreeing with those assessments. I'll write of a young player who hasn't hit college yet that he's "supposedly" good at such-and-such, but again, scouts have no reason to make up a bad character assessment of the son of a respected coach who double as a top-5 prospect, yet they've all commented on it many many times before he even walked onto Duke's campus -- that's bad. Real bad.

July 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterZachariah Blott

What are your thoughts on the Toronto Raptors Draft?

October 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterStephen Waugh

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