The 2008 NBA Draft has finally come and gone, but the fallout will linger for years to come. Who did well, and who passed on talent they shouldn't?
- The number in the first set of parenthesis represent the slot the player was selected, and the number in parenthesis in the body of the paragraph represents where I had the player in my big board, which can be found by clicking this link.
1. Chicago - Derrick Rose (1), Sonny Weems (39)
Rose (1) was always the pick, and I don't see how Chicago will ever regret it. Teams can win without a low-post game, and the way he will maximize the talents of Luol Deng and Tyrus Thomas especially will be phenomenal.
The decision to bypass Chris Douglas-Roberts for Weems (40) is a mysterious one to me. CDR has great length, can shoot off the dribble, has a great mid-range game, which is something that Chicago's wings haven't had since Michael retired. He also clearly knows how to play with Rose. If Rose had been embedded with Chicago for more than a few hours, maybe that pick changes?
Weems is primarily a spot-up shooter although he is one of the best athletes in the draft but is much more of a project on the wing.
2. Miami - Michael Beasley (2), Mario Chalmers (34), Darnell Jackson (52)
Selecting Beasley (2) ended up being quite a bit easier than the Heat made it out to be; my only concern is that I hope they didn't alienate some part of his subconscious where he's unable to fully trust the organization.
But winning cures a lot of trust, and the Heat are every bit as likely to make the playoffs as the Bulls.
Acquiring Chalmers (27) from Minnesota for a pair of future second round picks and cash was a brilliant maneuver. He is the ideal point guard to play off Dwyane Wade because he works so well without the ball in his hands and is an excellent defender. Damon Jones, no offense, played way above his head during the 04-05 season, so expect even better production from Chalmers.
Jackson (55) has the capability of being a power forward that can play in this league, but he would have been better off on the other Florida team where he can be offset by Dwight Howard.
3. Minnesota - Kevin Love (5), Nikola Pekovic (31)
Once again Kevin McHale begins a love affair at the power forward position with a Kevin.
There is a 25% chance that the 2008 Draft eventually becomes known as the O.J. Mayo Draft, but there is a 2% chance that it becomes known as the Kevin Love (13) Draft.
But I don't disagree that a little bit of cap relief, Mike Miller, positional need, and what Love can do for Al Jefferson is worth that risk. The consensus right now is in favor of McHale across the board, so he should PDF all of these pundit articles in case revisionists want to knock him down the road for giving up Mayo.
Pekovic (53) is a decent low post player, but I doubt he ever becomes effective in the NBA because his agility is quite poor. With how many amazingly talented players slipped into the second round, Minnesota could have done something bold with a high reward without any risk whatsoever.
4. Seattle - Russell Westbrook (4), Serge Ibaka (24), D.J. White (29), DeVon Hardin (50), Sashsa Kaun (56)
I love Westbrook (5) and believe he has the skill set to eventually be a great point guard, but I know Jerryd Bayless does have the offensive skills to be a great point guard. Bayless works extremely well without the ball and would have been the perfect point guard for a system built around Kevin Durant. While not a defender like Westbrook, Bayless has enough athleticism and desire to be well above average.
Westbrook will be a great player, regardless, because of his skills defensively, but if he doesn't become a great point guard, for the sake of argument, then they will be stuck with an energy 6th man.
There is a slight chance that Westbrook ends up being a better player than Bayless, but I don't like that risk/reward equation.
Ibaka (26) will develop in Spain for the next few seasons and depending on the how the American dollar performs, it may not be financially beneficial for him to make the move since he's locked into a 2008 rookie scale contract. Assuming he does come over when Durant and Westbrook are ready to make a real push, he will give them an extremely agile big who looks like he will eventually have a pseudo KG kind of skill set.
The Sonics locked themselves into having White (48) on their club as a first rounder, which they can afford to do since their second first round pick won't be on their roster. Because of Durant's length, White can get away with being undersized at the four, and while I don't think White has too too much in common with James Worthy, I had never heard that kind of comparison before Thursday and am going to look at some more tape on him to see if I can reshape my opinion.
I think Sam Presti could have gambled a little bit and selected Darrell Arthur at 24 and then come back around with Ibaka with Detroit's pick at 29.
I compared Hardin (38) to Chris Wilcox in my Big Board description, and he has a chance to be his understudy. They have similar skill sets although Hardin has more size but doesn't have as good of an offensive game. I always thought Hardin would benefit most from a situation where he can play with an elite assist man, and the Sonics don't have that right now.
Kaun (58) is unlikely to ever play in the NBA because of that Russian rule, but the Sonics will have him as a trading chip indefinitely.
5. Memphis - O.J. Mayo (3), Darrell Arthur (27)
I'm not sure one team improved themselves more on draft night than the Grizzlies. The acquisition of Mayo (3) was a bold move that will define their franchise over the next few seasons. The nucleus of Rudy Gay, Mike Conley, and Mayo is something that they can truly build around and comparing them to Presti's core of Durant, Westbrook and Jeff Green, I imagine there'd be many close games in the old style 3-on-3 Hoop It Up.
Arthur (16) had to go through the ordeal of waiting hours and hours to be picked as the last officially invited player selected and then was traded to Houston by Portland and to Memphis by Houston (he also was technically traded by New Orleans although it was well known at the time that they were picking for Portland). He has a great motor and a terrific face-up game. There are a number of late picks in this draft that will be "why did so many teams pass on him" kind of questions when they are referenced, and he's already the leader of that Arenas pack.
6. New York - Danilo Gallinari (6)
The boos of the New York City crowd when Gallinari (8) was selected were predictable, but since the player I assume they preferred (Bayless) was passed on by four other teams, it's tough for anyone to come down too hard on them. Bayless could truly redefine the position and be an All-Star, but at the end of the day they must have not seen him as a D'Antoni point guard while the D'Antoni point guard (D.J. Augustin) must not be at a high enough talent level to pass on Gallinari.
Assuming LBJ is the game plan, how does Gallinari fit beside him since they are both big wings that need the ball in their hands? I suppose that is a problem Walsh will love to deal with then and LBJ can just play the two, which would give them incredible playmaking and length at both wings.
I will later pose the same question to Mark Cuban: While creating cap room, how about spending some of that money they saved on Larry Brown on buying a pick and acquiring a talented asset like Paul Allen?
7. LA Clippers - Eric Gordon (7), DeAndre Jordan (35), Mike Taylor (55)
The Clippers made the correct call position wise and didn't erroneously give up a protected future first rounder, but I have an extremely difficult time believing Gordon (12) will have a better career than Bayless.
Granted, Gordon is more NBA ready, and he immediately gives them a swagger and height of talent they haven't had in the backcourt in years, so he falls into a "let's win with Brand" type of game plan; although, it is difficult to believe they have enough horses to truly compete in the West.
Grabbing Jordan (17) at 35 is like getting a do-over on the Michael Olowokandi draft and getting him at 36. Jordan was much maligned as a lottery pick, but getting him at 35 makes him the most affordable gamble in draft history. Guys like him usually require lottery picks you feel guilty about in the morning.
Finally Taylor (54) is another low risk freebie who has enough talent to become a dynamic backup point guard.
8. Milwaukee - Joe Alexander (8), Luc-Richard Mbah a Moute (37)
The eighth pick was locked in for quite a while, but a deviation from that strategy felt like it was in order when they acquired Richard Jefferson earlier in the day. Alexander (7) is a great talent, but I believe the Bucks would have been better served swapping picks with the Clippers for Gordon or selecting Bayless.
9. Charlotte - D.J. Augustin (9), Alexis Ajinca (20), Kyle Weaver (38)
This draft hinges heavily on what sort of player the Bobcats get back when they eventually deal Raymond Felton. I doubt that player to be named later will be nearly as valuable as Brook Lopez, and the difference between Augustin (11) and Chalmers doesn?t really make up the difference. I love Augustin and believe he is a great point guard to improve Wallace, Richardson, and Okafor offensively.
But Chalmers could have played beside Felton for a few minutes a night because he is longer and is a better defende,r and this pick kill the incumbent?s chances here.
I keep believing the Bobcats want to win now, but Ajinca (22) is a serious project that I don?t believe Larry Brown has the time, patience, or energy for. Not a great situation for either party.
Weaver (30), on the other hand, might as well had L.B. tattooed to his arm. He was a brilliant pick at 38.
10. New Jersey ? Brook Lopez (10), Ryan Anderson (21), Chris Douglas-Roberts (39)
Brook?s (9) basement is a 14 and 8 center, so the risk for him at 10 is nil. Bayless would have been a redundancy behind Devin Harris, so the Nets had the easiest decision of the night, even easier than Miami?s.
Anderson (36) felt like a reach, but apparently there were other teams in the twenties that also liked him.
With this trio of picks, I would have predicted it would be CDR (25) at 21 and Anderson at 39, but all is well that ends well.
The Nets went to sleep Thursday with cap room and three guys who should be good pros.
11. Indiana ? Brandon Rush (13), Roy Hibbert (17)
I like the Jermaine trade, but with Bayless falling into their lap at eleven, I wouldn?t have let him go. T.J. Ford is far from a sure thing physically, and Bayless will be able to often play shooting guard in the NBA, so the worst-case situation there could be is to have a Baron and Monta kind of deal. Or, you could have flipped Ford eventually to Portland or Phoenix or any of the other half dozen teams that would love to have him.
Rush (18) duplicates what they already have and won?t be an All-Star. They?ve done a nice job rebuilding their team, but Jarrett Jack isn?t worth giving up on a special talent like Bayless as a back up point.
Hibbert (28) is a nice pick and will be a good center, but I would have preferred Kosta Koufos.
Despite trading away their franchise player, they are drafting and building in a win-now mentality, which seems like a contradiction, but I somehow get it. It is similar to when the Mariners dealt Ken Griffey, let A-Rod walk, signed Ichiro, and had absurd depth to win 116 games. It works in baseball, but this is a superduperstar league, as my friend Elrod Enchilada says.
12. Sacramento ? Jason Thompson (12), Sean Singletary (42), Patrick Ewing, Jr. (43)
It is tough to admit this, but I laughed when each of their three selections were made. I wasn?t laughing at the pick, but at how surprising each one of them were and how people like myself spend hours and hours attempting to figure out what will happen on draft night and everything we were told and every conventional logic goes out the window sometimes.
Thompson (29) is a great story and should be a good offensive player, but clearly based off where I had him in my personal big board, I think this is a reach. The Kings really like Hibbert and Donte Greene, and either one of those guys could eventually make a real impact that I don?t see coming from Thompson.
Singletary is a four-year senior who played on a bad Virginia team, but I think point guards like Jamar Butler (50) and Mike Green (59) have better shots at being NBA players than he does.
Same thing with Ewing (NR) and a Will Daniels or Davon Jefferson, neither of whom were drafted.
13. Portland - Jerryd Bayless (11), Nicolas Batum (25)
On the years his team doesn't win the lottery, Kevin Pritchard pulls off action movie maneuvers to win the draft. How he could walk away with Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge in 2006, Greg Oden in 2007, and Jerryd Bayless and Nicolas Batum in 2008 makes Pritchard very much deserve the KP nickname.
I ranked Bayless (4) very closely behind Mayo, and from what I gather the Blazers did, as well. Many of the things I've written heretofore touch on the fact that I can't believe so many clubs passed on Bayless, so I don't need to reiterate that, but I really can't believe so many clubs passed on Bayless.
Now he's in a situation where he has no chance of failing; he plays for a young, stacked team in a backcourt with a shooting guard who handles the rock extremely well, which maximizes the best part of his game (shooting off curls and screens).
Batum (15) drops down to the end of the first round because of a mysterious medical issue and has the highest ceiling out of any pure wing in the draft.
Batum and Rudy Fernandez will be on the Blazers for no reason but the fact that Paul Allen bought picks. How could you not love being a Blazers' fan, and because they are in small market Portland and not Los Angeles, Chicago, or New York, how can you really dislike them?
I woke up following the draft thinking about moving up to Portland to cover this team 55 times a year for the next 10 years because that's about how many games they'll host at the Rose Garden when you factor in the playoffs.
14. Golden State ? Anthony Randolph (14), Richard Hendrix (49)
I had been lobbying far and wide for Marresse Speights for months now, so any player besides him was going to be a disappointment for me, but it is simultaneously difficult for me to complain about Randolph (10).
I have Randolph ranked higher than Augustin, Gordon, and Love, who all were top-10 picks, but the LSU forward represents a duplication of Brandan Wright even though they are different players. Randolph is a slighter Lamar Odom who can block shots while Wright has more Chris Bosh in him.
Does Randolph put the Warriors over the top if or when it comes time to make a trade for Brand?
Hendrix (43) is a great pick up in the second round whom I know they?ve liked for a long time, and I expect to make the team. He doesn?t have the upside of Carl Landry, but he could make similar impact.
15. Atlanta - None
The Hawks didn?t have a selection, and dealing Boris Diaw and Robin Lopez for Joe Johnson looks pretty stellar for the franchise.
16. Philadelphia ? Marresse Speights (16)
The Sixers grabbed my boy Speights (6), and this is probably the best situation for him outside of Golden State and could be even better since Mo Cheeks obviously likes rookies more than Nellie does.
Ed Stefanski made an easy choice, improved his team, and went home.
17. Toronto ? Nathan Jawai (41)
No qualms with dealing away the 17th pick for Jermaine O?Neal.
Jawai (39) has a nice game and gives them an element of toughness that they don?t have, but I think their team could really use a Bill Walker on the wing.
18. Washington ? Javale McGee (18)
McGee (34) isn?t a bad pick, but if you?re going to go with a young project center, I?d rather go with Kosta Koufos or even DeAndre Jordan.
Either of those players or even a JJ Hickson/Darrell Arthur would have helped them out more in the short and long terms.
19. Cleveland ? J.J. Hickson (19)
I had Hickson (20) in the 19th slot for quite a few weeks but dropped him out of it with my final mock. I commend the Cavaliers on taking a chance on a longer-term player who really could become a great low post threat.
20. Denver ? None
The Nuggets sold themselves out of the draft, which should help offset that luxury tax since it looks less likely that one of their big three will be dealt.
21. Dallas ? Shan Foster (51)
Foster (44) is an excellent shooter and has an outside chance of sticking with Dallas, but why couldn?t Mark Cuban take that extra step forward for a higher talent pick with cash? The prices were steeper than usual, but they are beginning to be lapped in the talent department by the Lakers and Blazers.
22. Orlando ? Courtney Lee (22)
The worst kept secret of the draft was true after all. The Magic didn?t hide their love for Lee (32) and grabbed him with the 22nd pick. I preferred CDR or even Bill Walker here, but Orlando loves Lee?s game and believes he is good enough as a spot-up shooter for their system.
They tried to grab a second round pick but couldn?t get a deal done.
23. Utah ? Kosta Koufos (23), Ante Tomic (44), Tadija Dragicevic (53)
Koufos (19) was the right grab for Utah, fits their system, suits their style, fills their need. He is the heir apparent to Okur and could end up being the superior player.
Tomic (41) has good length, and some people believed he was a borderline first rounder. I don?t see that kind of game from him, but he has the skills to be really good should he develop physically over in Europe over the next few years.
Aran Smith, Chad Ford, Jonathan Givony, whoever else does this thing, and myself all have as good of a chance of ever playing for the Jazz as Dragicevic (NR).
24. Phoenix ? Robin Lopez (15), Malik Hairston (48)
Lopez (23) is in a perfect situation because his defense in comparison to what they have will look great, and he also finally gets to play with a point guard that will get him open shots. He had to work for everything he got at Stanford, including all of those Brook misses he put back for dunks.
Drafting him instead of a Greene allows Phoenix to keep cracking at that closing window.
There isn?t anything wrong with Hairston (48), but he doesn?t do one thing exceptionally well and is unlikely to make much, if any, impact.
25. Houston ? Donte Greene (28), Joey Dorsey (33), Marty Leunen (54)
In the days leading up to the draft I kept on hearing from sources that the Rockets were looking to trade up for Greene (14), but they ended up trading down for him and picking up Dorsey (42) along the way.
Both players should help them, especially Greene who could be one of the best scorers in this draft upon going to a playoff team that already has their scorers. He should be able to play off those guys instead of being asked to shoulder such a huge load as he did at Syracuse.
26. San Antonio ? George Hill (26), Goran Dragic (42), James Gist (57)
I like Hill (45) a lot, pure shooter, can run the point, and he gives them a different kind of point than Tony Parker; however, this felt like a reach. He wouldn?t have likely been there at 42, so if he?s their man then it doesn?t matter, and I?ll trust it. Throw KU on his uniform instead of IUPUI, and I?m sure the perception changes tenfold.
Speaking of uniforms, whenever I watched Dragic (56) on tape I pictured him as a member of the Spurs.
If Gist (51) makes the team I think he?ll flourish in their system. He upgrades them athletically, and he has a nice little turnaround jumper that hits when he gets open shots, something SAS teams do so well.
27. New Orleans - None
The Hornets sold their first rounder and can afford to do so and still be good talent-wise. We?ll see if they?re able to use that money on a free agent, but a Bill Walker, J.R. Giddens, or Chris Douglas-Roberts all would have filled a need.
28. LA Lakers ? Joe Crawford (58)
The supposed ?fleecing? of the Grizzlies by the Lakers continues to be more and more overstated. Chris Wallace turned an albatross-esque contract into cap relief, Javaris Crittenton, Darrell Arthur, and two more first round picks. I?d hardly call that a horrible trade, even if the Lakers would have gone undefeated for the remainder of the 07-08 season.
I think that perception doesn?t really exist in L.A., though, as Gasol doesn?t have the trust of the fan base after what happened in the Finals.
You can?t undo it and wouldn?t want to, but those same three players who would have helped New Orleans also would have helped the Lakers. With this pick, they should have selected a Davon Jefferson.
Crawford (NR) can do some of the same things that Kobe Bryant can do. But one of the guys in his dorm hall at UK who is an acting major can do some of the same things that Jack Nicholson can do too.
29. Detroit ? Walter Sharpe (32), Trent Plaisted (46), Deron Washington (59)
The Pistons got a guy they would have taken at 29, but now have the luxury of paying him less or paying him nothing if they don?t like what they see in the summer league and/or training camp.
This is a maneuver more teams drafting late in the first round should do.
I like Sharpe?s (47) game a lot, and he has the look of a pro player.
I?m not too big on Plaisted (NR) or Washington (NR), but both are worth looking at.
30. Boston ? J.R. Giddens (30), Bill Walker (47), Semih Erden (60)
How often does a team who finishes the regular season with best record and wins the championship end up with two players who were once considered lottery picks at positions of need?
The Celtics were lean on the wings behind Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, and both Giddens (24) and Walker (21) flat out know how to play the game and have the talent to be special.
Giddens will be a defensive workhorse under Tom Thibaudau and a Kobe-stopper if they meet again in the Finals.
Walker, as soon as he is healthy, will be taken under the wing of Pierce and KG and really be fostered as a scoring wing.
It?s not like getting McHale and Parrish, but I expect Giddens and Walker to wear Celtics? uniforms for a long time to come.
Erden is a straight-up banger who doesn?t really do anything else, and I ironically had him as the 60th best prospect on my board.
Christopher Reina is the executive editor of RealGM. He can be reached at Chris.Reina@RealGM.com