Posted: Thursday June 29, 2006 12:56PM; Updated: Friday June 30, 2006 12:17PM
NBA Draft Grades
SI.com's Marty Burns analyzes each team's moves in the 2006 draft.
Picks: Shelden Williams (5); Solomon Jones (33)
They needed a defensive-minded forward in case Al Harrington leaves via free agency, and Williams (a.k.a. "the Landlord") is an Antonio Davis clone who did a good job collecting the rent in the paint at Duke. But could they have traded down and still got their man? And will they regret (again) passing on a point guard, especially if Randy Foye or Marcus Williams blows up a la Chris Paul a year ago?
Picks: Randy Foye (7), traded to the Blazers for Sebastian Telfair and Theo Ratliff; acquired Rajon Rondo (21), along with Brian Grant, from the Suns; also acquired Leon Powe (49) in a trade with the Nuggets.
GM Danny Ainge parlayed his lone pick in this draft (along with the team's first-round pick in 2007) for three NBA players, though Rondo's inability to shoot could doom him to journeyman status. Ainge could have held on to the pick -- and nabbed Rudy Gay -- but it's hard to fault Boston for not wanting to get any younger. The Celtics paid a high price for Rondo, since it cost them their first-round pick and required them to take Grant (he will be waived). But the bottom line is they got rid of Raef LaFrentz's contract (in the Blazers deal), picked up two good PG prospects in Telfair and Rondo and gained some financial flexibility and assets for a possible future deal for Allen Iverson or Kevin Garnett.
Picks: Adam Morrison (3); Ryan Hollins (50)
New boss Michael Jordan is a gambler, so it's not surprising that he rolled the dice on a guy who could be either a huge star or a huge bust. MJ opted for the potential "next Larry Bird" over the raw potential of Gay. After Jordan's experience with Kwame Brown, who can blame him? Morrison is a gifted scorer who should fit well with Gerald Wallace, Emeka Okafor and Raymond Felton, and he'll surely give the 'Cats some much-needed box office appeal. But can the 'Stache defend on the NBA level?
Picks: LaMarcus Aldridge (2), traded to the Trail Blazers; Rodney Carney (16), traded the to 76ers; acquired Tyrus Thomas (4), Thabo Sefolosha (13) and Viktor Khryapa in separate trades.
GM John Paxson got perhaps the draft's best prospect in Thomas while adding the big defensive guard he needed in Sefolosha and another decent prospect in Khryapa. Though Thomas doesn't solve Chicago's desperate need for a low-post scorer, it's doubtful Aldridge would have done so right away either. Meanwhile, Thomas also gives Paxson a blue-chip piece for a future blockbuster trade (maybe Kevin Garnett?).
Picks: Shannon Brown (25); Daniel Gibson (42); Ejike Ugboaja (55)
They needed backcourt scoring help, and Brown is a tough competitor from a big-time program who can shoot from the perimeter. He should be a good complement to LeBron James, and he's insurance in case Flip Murray departs via free agency. Gibson, a point guard from Texas, was on their list as a possible pick at No. 25, but he fell into their laps at 42. Ugboaja, a 6-9 rebounder from Nigeria, will remain overseas to develop his game.
Picks: Maurice Ager (28); Danilo Pinnock (58), traded to the Lakers
They obviously don't have many needs, so they took the best player available. Ager is a good scorer who can defend. He's also insurance in case Jason Terry leaves as free agent. The Mavs scored with Josh Howard as a late first-round pick a few years ago; if this one works out half as well, they will be thrilled. They also picked up a 2007 second-round pick from the Lakers for Pinnock.
Picks: Leon Powe (49), traded to Celtics
The team's interim front office apparently didn't want any part of this draft. The Nuggets used their only pick on Powe, then dealt him to the Celtics for a 2007 second-round pick. Denver now has two first-rounders and two second-rounders in next year's draft, which is expected to be deeper. Still, this won't give fans any reason for optimism in 2006-07.
Picks: Will Blalock (60); acquired Cheick Samb (51) in a trade with the Lakers for Maurice Evans
It's hard to get much help when your only pick is the last one of the night, but Blalock isn't a bad pick this far down. The former Iowa State point guard is athletic and has good court vision, but he'll need time to develop. Samb is a project with a capital P. The 7-1 shot blocker from Senegal has only one year of pro experience (in the Spanish League) and reportedly weighs only 195 pounds. Detroit will keep him overseas for a while to see if he develops. It's hard to believe the Pistons gave up a legitimate bench player in Evans for such a long-range prospect.
Golden State Warriors
Picks: Patrick O'Bryant (9); Kosta Perovic (38)
The Warriors need a center, and they got two decent prospects in the 7-foot O'Bryant and the 7-2 Perovic. The agile O'Bryant was considered the best center of this year's crop, which doesn't say much. He might not be much better than Adonal Foyle right now. Perovic has spent four seasons playing in Serbia. He has three years left on his contract there but might opt out this summer. The Warriors are probably reaching here to fill a need, generally a bad idea, but it's hard to blame them given what was left on the draft board.
Picks: Rudy Gay (8), traded to the Grizzlies for Shane Battier; Steve Novak (32); acquired Lior Eliyahu (44) in a trade with the Magic
They wanted Brandon Roy but couldn't move up to get him. So they basically swapped the tremendous potential of Gay (along with Stromile Swift) for the proven commodity of Battier, himself a former No. 6 overall pick (in 2001). Battier's versatility, defense and three-point shooting will make him a good fit alongside Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming. He will be a valuable contributor, and it doesn't hurt that Houston got rid of Swift and his big contract as well. But if Gay blossoms into a big-time star, this move won't look so good down the road.
Picks: Shawne Williams (17); Alexander Johnson (45), traded to the Blazers for James White (31)
Did Larry Bird mean to call out the name of Marcus Williams? Most draft boards had the Pacers selecting a point guard here, either UConn's Marcus Williams or UCLA's Jordan Farmar. Oh well, Shawne Williams is a versatile forward who will provide some needed athleticism for Indiana. But he's raw and thin right now, and plays the same position as Danny Granger and Peja Stojakovic. White, acquired for future second-round picks, fits the same bill. Apparently Bird feels they can get a PG later, or he's stockpiling wing players in case they want to trade Jermaine O'Neal.
Los Angeles Clippers
Picks: Paul Davis (34); Guillermo Diaz (52)
With Zeljko Rebraca's health an issue, they wanted to add a backup center. Davis, a four-year player at Michigan State who can shoot the ball, was clearly the best pivot left on the board. Diaz, a point guard from Miami, was probably the best overall player left at No. 52. He might not make the Clippers' roster next year, especially if they bring back Sam Cassell, but L.A. would hold onto his rights if the Puerto Rico native ends up playing overseas. All in all, not bad for two second-round picks.
Los Angeles Lakers
Picks: Jordan Farmar (26); Cheick Samb (51), traded to the Pistons for Maurice Evans; acquired J.R. Pinnock (58) in a trade with the Mavs
They parlayed their two picks into Farmar, a decent point guard prospect, and Evans, a solid NBA bench player with the Pistons. Farmar is an odd pick considering he's still a year away and Phil Jackson has a well-known preference for bigger guards. But the 6-1 playmaker's passing and mid-range shooting skills could eventually make him a good fit for the triangle offense, and it doesn't hurt that he's a local product from UCLA. Of course, considering this pick came from the Heat as part of the Shaquille O'Neal trade, no player here was going to get Lakers fans too excited.
Picks: Kyle Lowry (24); acquired Rudy Gay (8), along with Stromile Swift, in a trade with the Rockets; acquired Alexander Johnson (45) in a trade with the Blazers
GM Jerry West managed to give his roster a much-needed shakeup by nabbing an exciting young talent in Gay, along with former Grizzlies power forward Swift, while giving up Shane Battier. Along with Lowry, the Villanova point guard who was ranked as the third-best PG prospect in the draft, it's not a bad haul. If Gay lives up to his vast potential, this trade could go down as a steal. West also acquired Johnson, a beefy forward from Florida State, from the Blazers for a 2008 second-round pick. The key will be the development of Gay. He could be another Scottie Pippen -- or he could be a disappointment like Swift was in his first go-round in Memphis.
The only NBA team with no picks in either round of this year's draft. We're guessing they don't regret it right about now (see Lakers).