2011 NBA Draft Grades

Much fewer trades than anticipated. Only one “blockbuster” if you want to call it that featuring the Bucks, Kings and Bobcats that moved meaningful players and picks. The surprises came early and continued all night, here are the initial grades for each team.

Remember, keep perspective while reading this. The draft has great role players and the grades are based on a team filling a need or getting high value at their spots.

Atlanta Hawks

Selected: Keith Benson (No. 48)

Trades: None

The Hawks had one pick, they went big with it. After weeks of speculation that Josh Smith could be shipped (still a possibility) the move never came together on draft night. Benson is a talented defender, that when motivated can protect the rim with blocked shots. He is still going to be a bit of a project, the energy he plays with can be lacking, and he needs strength, but is a talented shooter. Benson is a prospect that could find minutes on the Hawks as a back-up center, a Channing Frye type.

Grade: B-

 

Boston Celtics

Selected: E’Twaun Moore (No. 55)

Acquired: The rights to JaJuan Johnson (No. 27) from New Jersey

Traded: Traded the rights to Marshon Brooks (No. 25) to New Jersey

Just call them “Purdue East” next season if Moore makes the roster. Both picks allow the team to keep chemistry while building quality to the bench. Johnson likely replaces Glen Davis on the roster as the energy big and Moore could step in as the back-up to Ray Allen who is on his way out the door.

Grade: B+

 

Charlotte Bobcats

Selected: Bismack Biyombo (No. 7) and Kemba Walker (No. 9)

Acquired: Corey Maggette from Milwaukee and the No. 7 pick from Sacramento

Traded: To Milwaukee Steven Jackson and Shaun Livingston

They could be the winners of the draft with who they were able to get at both seven and nine. Biyombo and Walker are both risky, they added a bad contract in Maggette and this feels like a swing for the fences. That is a crossroad that every team has to explore, this is the Bobcats taking a needed risk to get better. Walker is a winner and a very talented floor general that may already be the best point guard on the roster. Biyombo may be Ben Wallace 2.0 or a better version of Joel Anthony, only time will tell.

Grade: A-

 

Chicago Bulls

Selected: Jimmy Butler (No. 30)

Acquired: The rights of Nikola Mirotic (No. 23) from Houston

Traded: The rights to Norris Cole (No. 28) to Miami (via Minnesota)

Getting the rights to a potential lottery talent in Mirotic on paper seems like a great value, but in this case it may not be. Mirotic may not play in the NBA for 4-6 years, is that worth a first round pick today? Looking at the pick they kept, Butler is a great fit for the Bulls as a back-up wing that will dig in on defense. He is a chip towards this team winning an NBA Championship.

Grade: B-

 

Cleveland Cavaliers

Selected: Kyrie Irving (No. 1), Tristan Thompson (No. 4) and Milan Macvan (No. 54)

Acquired: Two future second round picks

Traded: The rights to Justin Harper (No. 32) to Orlando

At number one we did not see a shock, but the Cavaliers shocked with their last three picks. Irving was definitely a lock for the top pick from the night of the Draft Lottery, he will be no worse than a quality point guard that will lead the team. Thompson was going to be the steal of the draft falling between 8-13 until he was scooped up at number four. That is a high value that could turn out to be a great role player or even a quality starter in the current structure of the team.  Both second round picks were basically given away, Harper would have fit well and Macvan will not be on this team anytime soon.

 

The team is not fixed over night, but it is in a position to improve as a team and positioned well to target a potential star in the 2012 NBA Draft. This was a smart move in the long-term, Cavaliers fans will learn to really appreciate Thompson’s game.

Grade: A+

 

Dallas Mavericks

Selected: None

Acquired: Rudy Fernandez from Portland

Traded: The rights of Jordan Hamilton (No. 26) and Targuy Ngombo (No. 57) to Minnesota

The Mavericks had Hamilton and the “Derrick Williams” of Qatar until they entered the three-way trade involving Portland and Denver. In the end they receive Rudy Fernandez from Portland who is a talented player, but may not be interested in playing in the NBA. Basically the Mavericks from a possible draft day steal to acquiring a player who may not be invested in the NBA.

Grade: D

 

Denver Nuggets

Selected: Kenneth Faried (No. 22)

Acquired: The rights to Jordan Hamilton (No. 26) from Dallas, Chukwudiebere Maduabum (No. 56) from Los Angeles Lakers and Andre Miller from Portland

Traded: Raymond Felton to Portland

Now the Nuggets have two energy rebounders as Faried joins Chris Anderson, a European stowaway in Ngombo, a veteran leader in Miller and a future star in Hamilton. This is a fairly good haul for what they gave up and gives Coach Karl another group of good basketball players with no stars. Hamilton has the potential to be a really good player, but he has had mental blocks that have prevented that so far in college.

Grade: B-

 

Detroit Pistons

Selected: Brandon Knight (No. 8), Kyle Singler (No. 33) and Vernon Macklin (No. 52)

Acquired: None

Traded: None

Add another combo guard expected to run a team with more players that look like what they already have on the roster and you are just continuing the mess. Knight is a terrific talent, very good smart, good shooter and the potential to be an excellent defender, but he is not a pure point guard. Singler and Macklin could make the roster if other moves are made; both have intangibles that stick in the NBA.

Grade: B-

Golden State Warriors

Selected: Klay Thompson (No.11) and Charles Jenkins (No.44)

Acquired: The rights to Jeremy Tyler (No. 39) for two million dollars cash

Traded: None

With a new regime in town the Warriors had a different mentality in the draft. They drafted a classic sized shooting guard in Thompson who will compliment Stephen Curry nicely. Either as a 6th Man or a starter (if they trade Monta) the size and shooting Thompson brings in while be valued. In the second round they bought Tyler (for two million dollars) and selected Jenkins who should both make the roster and have an impact. The Warriors had a great draft and found high value in every pick, but may have reached on Thompson who may be a one-dimensional player.

Grade: A-

Houston Rockets

Selected: Marcus Morris (No. 14) and Chandler Parsons (No. 38)

Acquired: The draft rights of Donatas Motiejunas (No. 20) from Minnesota and Jonny Flynn from Minnesota

Traded: Brad Miller to Minnesota and the rights to Nikola Mirotic (No. 23) to Chicago (via Minnesota).

Morey was at it again, wheeling and dealing to get as much talent as possible. This year he was able to turn Brad Miller and the 23rd pick into Morris who is a tweener forward who can hit the mid-range shot, Motiejunas who might have the potential to start in the NBA in a few years and Flynn who was stuck on a bad Minnesota team. To recap, they added an average point guard via trade and two more scoring forwards that need minutes. The Rockets strategy may be to collect assets and make a big move down the line, but they did not address either of their most glaring needs, small forward and center.

Grade: C+

Indiana Pacers

Selected: None

Acquired: George Hill from San Antonio

Traded: The rights to Kawhi Leonard (No. 15) to San Antonio

The Pacers targets at point guard were not there when they were on the clock; they decided to trade out of the draft entirely. By moving the No. 15 pick the Pacers were able to acquire a point guard with size and defensive ability. If needed, Hill can guard both guard positions and developed into an essential part of the Spurs bench over the past few years. Keeping the rights to Leonard made little sense with All-Star Danny Granger and standout rookie (Paul) George on the roster at the wing.

Grade: A-

Los Angeles Clippers

Selected: Trey Thompkins (No. 37) and Travis Leslie (No. 47)

Acquired: None

Traded: None

Like the Celtics, the Clippers are the location of a college team now after drafting two junior’s from Georgia in Thompkins and Leslie. They were selected in spots that make them high value; neither addresses an immediate need and may not make the roster. Leslie is a terrific athlete and a quality defender, but thinks very highly of his own game, which is an issue for any player who needs to accept a role on a team. Thompkins is a very gifted player, but never put it all together. At times both of these players think resort to aspects of their game that should be used less, shooting for Thompkins and play-making for Leslie.

Grade: C-

 

Los Angeles Lakers

Selected: Darius Morris (No. 41), Andrew Goudelock (No. 46) and Ater Majok (No. 58)

Acquired: None

Traded: The rights to Chukwudiebere Maduabum (No. 56) to Denver

Like thieves in the night, the Lakers may have the steal of the draft as they took Morris and Goudelock in the twilight hours of the night. Morris has a chance to be a star and will replace (Derek) Fisher here in a year. He is a big point guard that can run a team, the biggest knock on Morris was shooting, on this team he may never need to shoot the ball and can try to duplicate a (Rajon) Rondo role earlier in the All-Stars career. Goudelock is the best shooter in this class, he can space the floor for the many Lakers stars to get easy buckets. With their last two picks the Lakers selected former Connecticut let down Majok and Maduabum, both have a very small chance of ever making the roster.

Grade: A+

Memphis Grizzlies

Selected: Josh Selby (No. 49)

Acquired: None

Traded: None

If he puts it together mentally, we will be talking about Shelby the same way we do about former second round steals like (Michael) Redd and (Monta) Ellis. He is easily a lottery talent, but injuries and personal choices set his college career back. The worst case, the Grizzlies wasted the rookie minimum on another kid who did not reach his potential. Best case, Selby duplicates great scoring guards like Ellis and (Allen) Iverson. This is could be the steal of the draft, no risk and all reward for a franchise that turned the career of Zach Randolph around.

Grade: B-

 

Miami Heat

Selected: None

Acquired: The rights of Norris Cole (No. 28) from Chicago

Traded: The rights to Bojan Bogdanovic (No. 31) to Minnesota

Not sure how Cole fits on this current team which is not a knock on the talents he possesses. Cole is a great floor leader who can also score basketball when needed. He needs to have the ball to be effective, that will not be an option playing with (Dwayne) Wade and (LeBron) James. Ironically the player they selected and shipped to Minnesota to complete this deal may be a better fit for the team long term.

Grade: D

Milwaukee Bucks

Selected: Tobias Harris (No. 19) and Jon Leuer (No. 40)

Acquired: Steven Jackson and Shaun Livingston from Charlotte and Beno Udrih from Sacramento

Traded: John Salmons to Sacramento and Corey Maggette to Charlotte

The Bucks shed two bad salaries while taking a risk on a few players that could help the immediate future of the team. Jackson and Udrih are going to have an direct impact in different ways, Jackson will start and score while Udrih will slide into the role formerly owned by (Luke) Ridnoir. As far as the draft picks, Harris is a very undervalued talent that is so smooth you take him for granted. He can run the offense and score from the high post with ease. The hometown kid Leuer will be more than just a fan favorite, he steps in as a stretch-four to compliment (Andrew) Bogut in the front-court.

Grade: B+

Minnesota Timberwolves

Selected: Derrick Williams (No. 2)

Acquired: The rights to Malcolm Lee (No. 47) from Utah, the rights to Targuy Ngombo (No. 57) from Dallas and Brad Miller from Houston

Traded: Jonny Flynn and the rights to Donatas Motiejunas (No. 20) to Houston

The best overall talent may have gone to the Timberwolves, but then they dealt a lot of value for a little return. Firstly, Williams is a star, ignore the position debate he is a great talent who can play inside and out. Last time I checked versatility was valued not scrutinized. With Bogdanovic they will get a solid role player on the wing that can score and is very tough, but he is a few years away. The trades of Motiejunas and Flynn made little sense, both could have netted much higher value than received.

Grades: B-

 

New Jersey Nets

Selected: Jordan Williams (No. 36)

Acquired: The rights of Marshon Brooks (No. 25) from Boston and the rights to Bojan Bogdanovic (No. 31) from Minnesota

Traded: The rights to JaJuan Johnson (No. 27) to Boston

This is a steal, but maybe a spot that is truer to the value of Brooks. The Nets need wing scoring, they need shooting and they need a player who can take some play-making pressure off of (Deron) Williams; Brooks can do them all. He needs to add some strength and weight to his frame to handle the rigors of the NBA, but that can always be added.

Grade: B-

New Orleans Hornets

Selected: None

Acquired: None

Traded: The rights to Josh Harrellson (No. 45) for cash to New York

Another team that traded their way out of the draft entirely for a few hundred thousand dollars. The Hornets have been a financially frugal team for years and they did not value anyone on the board more than money in the pocket here.

Grade: D

New York Knicks

Selected: Iman Shumpert (No. 17)

Acquired: The rights to Josh Harrellson (No. 45) for cash

Traded: None

It is a tradition like no other, the boo birds came out to Jersey to give their opinion of the Knicks draft pick. Fans booed this selection louder than the (Renaldo) Balkman pick a few years ago. The players they did get, Shumpert and Harrellson will both serve a very important role off the bench of the Knicks. Shumpert is a great defender who can lock-up NBA point and shooting guards today. Both picks had high value and should impact the team from day one.

Grade: B-

 

Oklahoma City Thunder

Selected: Reggie Jackson

Acquired: None

Traded: None

Jackson had reported promises from about a half dozen teams ranging 20-31, the pick came in at 24. This is an interesting pick with the current Thunder roster, they have a great athlete at the point and a smart back-up, now they add another great athlete? It is a high value pick, Jackson should have a better career than more than half the players selected ahead of him. Injury and attitude issues may be why this slide occurred.

Grade: C-

Orlando Magic

Selected: DeAndre Liggins (No. 53)

Acquired: Justin Harper (No. 32)

Traded: None

The roster of the Magic is a mess with lots of talent, a trade is needed to fix this, but for now they have to draft the current roster. Harper and Liggins both have very high value where they were selected, Harper as a stretch-four and Liggins as a perimeter defender. With (Ryan) Anderson on the roster as the established stretch-four Harper makes little sense, they have similar size and skill. Liggins can be another body to guard All-Stars in (Derrick) Rose and (Dwayne) Wade.

Grade: B+

 

Philadelphia 76ers

Selected: Nikola Vucevic (No. 16) and Lavoy Allen (No. 50)

Acquired: None

Traded: None

No trades, no drama and no flash for the 76ers while adding to their current playoff roster. Vucevic is the biggest player in the draft who has very nice skills around the basket. He is a quality rebounder and can play both big positions. His ability to stretch defenses will be the biggest immediate area of his game he brings to the table early. Some question his athleticism, he resembles the classic stiff big man that has trouble getting up-and-down the floor after a few years.

Grade: B+

 

Phoenix Suns

Selected: Markieff Morris (No. 13)

Acquired: None

Traded: None

The Suns got their man and start the defensive transition. The main issue with this pick, the transition will continue after this season without (Steve) Nash and (Grant) Hill. In the big picture, Markieff does not replace either of those star players, but he adds something they do not possess on the current roster. He brings solid defense, good rebounding and toughness to pair with (Marcin) Gortat.

Grade: B+

 

Portland Trailblazers

Selected: Nolan Smith (No. 21) and Jon Diebler (No. 51)

Acquired: Raymond Felton from Denver

Traded: Andre Miller to Denver and Rudy Fernandez to Dallas

When the pick came in for Smith, the initial thought by all was “here comes a trade.” That trade came, but it did not involve the rights to Smith who now joins the Blazers as another combo guard off the bench. The trade was basically a point guard swap, the improved Felton comes to Portland for the savvy Miller. In that trade the disgruntled Fernandez is shipped to the NBA Champs, they drafted Ohio State sharp-shooter Diebler in an attempt to replace the shooting they will lose.

Grade: C+

Sacramento Kings

Selected: Jimmer Fredette (No. 10), Tyler Honeycutt (No. 35) and Isaiah Thomas (No. 60)

Acquired: John Salmons from Milwaukee

Traded: Beno Udrih to Milwaukee

Jimmer-Mania has a home and it is in Sacramento as he will team with the talented core of (Tyreke) Evans and (DeMarcus) Cousins. He will be asked to compliment the dynamic scorers already mentioned and also, to pull the reigns in and control the team if they get off track. This is a good value and a good spot for both Jimmer and Sacramento. In the second round two first round talents fell in Honeycutt and Thomas. All three rookies should be on the roster to start the season, both Jimmer and Honeycutt will have an immediate impact.

Grade: A-

 

San Antonio Spurs

Selected: Cory Joseph (No. 29) and Adam Hanga (No. 59)

Acquired: The rights of Kawhi Leonard (No. 15) from Indiana and the rights to Davis Bertans (No. 42) from Indiana

Traded: George Hill to Indiana

Those Spurs never fail to shock us and make us think. They were able to keep Tony Parker and grab a high value player in Leonard to the roster. Losing Hill is a blow, but the addition of Leonard was crucial to getting younger and more athletic. The last pick in each round belonged to San Antonio, both picks likely made fans scratch their heads. The pick of Fisher was very high for where he could have fallen, but San Antonio may have known something we did not. He is a reach, but a very good talent who, in a few years could be an impact player. Hanga is also a very good pick-up that late in the draft and again, after a few years will be a quality player.

Grade: A-

 

Toronto Raptors

Selected: Jonas Valanciunas (No. 5)

Acquired: None

Traded: None

Getting a Top 5 talent in the first five picks is usually considered chalk, but with Valanciunas who was projected to fall, this is a great pick-up. In 2-3 years this could be the missing center that Toronto has been looking for since the departure of Marcus Camby. Valanciunas is a terrific basketball player who plays inside and can step-out a little. He plays with physicality rebounding and on defense, a very selfless player. When he comes over Toronto is that much closer to relevance.

Grade: A-

Utah Jazz

Selected: Enes Kanter (No. 3) and Alec Burks (No. 12)

Acquired: None

Traded: None

The Jazz were long rumored to take a point guard, shows what we know. Neither pick should be a shock, but both add a different value. The Jazz have a future frontcourt that rivals the best in the game, (Derrick) Favors and Kanter complement each other and will be a great duo. Kanter can knock down mid-range jump-shots, even the NBA three, but his best value is how bangs in the paint. In competition verse top talent like (Jared) Sullinger and Valanciunas, Kanter battled and got the best of them time after time. With Burks the Jazz may have their best scoring guard ever. He is a good athlete who can create his own shot. His shooting form indicates he can get better, once he becomes a reliable shooter Burks will be an elite scorer.

Grade: A-

Washington Wizards

Selected: Jan Vesely (No. 6), Chris Singleton (No. 18) and Shelvin Mack (No. 34)

Acquired: None

Traded: None

The best draft came from the Nations Capitol and likely put a large smile on the face of soon-to-be-star (John) Wall. Vesely is a terrific athlete for a power forward and will fill the lane with Wall on fast-breaks. He likes to call (Blake) Griffin the “European Jan Vesely,” if that is the case the NBA is on notice. At 18 Washington may have taken a player who will have a better career than Vesely in Singleton. He is a great defender, when on his game he can lock-down the 2-4 positions on the floor and rebounds well. Singleton is another athlete for Wall to create for. Mack was an interesting pick, he adds a smart back-up point guard that is needed to balance the bench and can play with Wall if needed due to his shooting.
Grade: A+

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