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Grading the 1998 Draft

Did your team make the grade? CNN/SI's Albert Lin (Western Conference) and Dan Shanoff (Eastern Conference) rate each team's performance in the 1998 NBA Draft.

Posted: Thu June 25, 1998

Dallas Mavericks (Grade: A)

Draft-Night Acquisitions: SF Ansu Sesay, Mississippi; C Bruno Sundov, Croatia; G Greg Buckner, Clemson; PF Dirk Nowitzki, Germany (trade); PG Steve Nash (trade)

The Skinny: Don Nelson's moves since taking control of the club have been questionable, but he had a great night—provided the Mavs can convince Nowitzki to come to Dallas right away. Nelson may have given up too much for Nash (especially if the Mavs miss the playoffs next season), but he's a proven NBA point guard. Sesay should be able to help right away as well.

Denver Nuggets (Grade: A-)

Draft-Night Acquisitions: PF Raef LaFrentz, Kansas; F Tremaine Fowlkes, Fresno State; F Ryan Bowen, Iowa; PG Nick Van Exel (trade)

The Skinny: The Nuggets gained a skilled big man in LaFrentz, then traded second first-rounder, PG Tyronn Lue, and last year's flop, PF Tony Battie, for All-Star Van Exel. Fowlkes should be a keeper and Bowen is a sleeper.

Milwaukee Bucks (Grade: A-)

Draft-Night Acquisitions: PG Rafer Alston, Fresno State; PF Robert Traylor, Michigan (trade)

The Skinny: First pick Dirk Nowitzki, traded to the Mavs for Traylor, is an unknown quantity. Tractor will help immediately. If focused, Alston is an NBA-quality point guard.

Orlando Magic (Grade: A-)

Draft-Night Acquisitions: C/F Michael Doleac, Utah; C/F Keon Clark, UNLV; SF Matt Harpring, Georgia Tech; G Miles Simon, Arizona

The Skinny: The Magic get big help, literally. This group immediately adds depth to Orlando's frontcourt. Simon's a steal.

Toronto Raptors (Grade: A-)

Draft-Night Acquisitions: PG Tyson Wheeler, Rhode Island; SG Vince Carter, North Carolina (trade); C Sean Marks, California (trade)

The Skinny: Carter-Wheeler backcourt already better than what Raptors started in '97. Carter, acquired in a trade with Golden State for college teammate Antawn Jamison, brings high-flying excitement and ensures Doug Christie's ticket out of town. Wheeler can be the next Travis Best. Marks was acquired in the Camby-for-Oakley swap with the Knicks.

Vancouver Grizzlies (Grade: A-)

Draft-Night Acquisitions: PG Mike Bibby, Arizona; F J.R. Henderson, UCLA; SG Felipe Lopez, St. John's (trade)

The Skinny: Bibby was a no-brainer for this team, despite three other PGs on roster. One of those, Antonio Daniels, was traded for Lopez, who, like Henderson, has loads of physical skills but questions about production.

Boston Celtics (Grade: B+)

Draft-Night Acquisitions: G/F Paul Pierce, Kansas

The Skinny: Rick Pitino, who was thrilled to get Pierce, will work the softness out of this talented rookie. Swingman skills make Pierce a good fit for Celtics' frenetic style.

Indiana Pacers (Grade: B+)

Draft-Night Acquisitions: SF Al Harrington, Elizabeth (N.J.) St. Patrick's H.S.

The Skinny: Harrington gets a great education from coach Larry Bird and a team loaded with vets. He brings work ethic and young legs. Don't forget that F Austin Croshere, the team's '97 first-rounder, is a virtual rookie after sitting out injured most of last season.

Los Angeles Clippers (Grade: B+)

Draft-Night Acquisitions: C Michael Olowokandi, Pacific; PF Brian Skinner, Baylor

The Skinny: The Clips went with NBA convention and selected the big, raw Olowokandi, who has much greater upside than Mike Bibby. Skinner gives the team an abundance of young, athletic forwards.

Chicago Bulls (Grade: B)

Draft-Night Acquisitions: SG Corey Benjamin, Oregon State; F Maceo Baston, Michigan; SG Cory Carr, Texas Tech (trade)

The Skinny: The high-flying Benjamin must learn to harness his immense physical gifts, hopefully under Jordan's tutelage. Carr, acquired in a swap for draft pick Shammond Williams, makes Steve Kerr expendable, and Baston will likely spend some time in Europe developing.

Los Angeles Lakers (Grade: B)

Draft-Night Acquisitions: SG Sam Jacobson, Minnesota; SF Ruben Patterson, Cincinnati; SG Toby Bailey, UCLA; PG Tyronn Lue, Nebraska (trade); PF Tony Battie (trade)

The Skinny: Something is obviously in the works here because the Lakers have way too many wing players. Will Elden Campbell and Eddie Jones leave town? Or maybe Kobe Bryant will move to point. The five players acquired are all terrific athletes, which bodes well regardless of how they fit.

Philadelphia 76ers (Grade: B)

Draft-Night Acquisitions: G Larry Hughes, Saint Louis; PF Nazr Mohammed, Kentucky (trade)

The Skinny: Drool over the Hughes-Iverson backcourt, but who gets the shots? The Sixers missed out on coveted Traylor; Mohammed is merely a door prize by comparison.

Golden State Warriors (Grade: B-)

Draft-Night Acquisitions: F Antawn Jamison, North Carolina (trade)

The Skinny: Jamison is the ultimate tweener, but his athletic ability should carry him to some success. The Warriors probably should have kept Carter, who would have been the perfect replacement for the soon-to-be-departed Latrell Sprewell.

Houston Rockets (Grade: B-)

Draft-Night Acquisitions: SG Michael Dickerson, Arizona; G Bryce Drew, Valparaiso; PF Mirsad Turkcan, Turkey; SG Cuttino Mobley, Rhode Island

The Skinny: Dickerson has as much ability as anyone, but he disappeared in the 1997 Final Four and the 1998 NCAA Tournament. Drew should be a good-but-not-great player, and Turkcan shows potential as an active rebounder with good touch. Still, each of these guys screams "role player."

New York Knicks (Grade: B-)

Draft-Night Acquisitions: F DeMarco Johnson, UNC Charlotte

The Skinny: The Knicks add a banger to the frontcourt, which will help now that Charles Oakley has been dealt to Toronto for Marcus Camby. Marks also was sent north in the deal.

Phoenix Suns (Grade: B-)

Draft-Night Acquisitions: F Pat Garrity, Notre Dame (trade); SF Martin Muursepp (trade); SG Bubba Wells (trade); Mavs' 1999 No. 1 pick (trade)

The Skinny: The Suns were able to parlay Steve Nash, who they really didn't need because of Jason Kidd, into the 19th pick this year (Garrity), two borderline talents, and, most important, a non-lottery-protected first-rounder. Garrity should help—he can score from anywhere and is big enough to defend at the 4.

Seattle Sonics (Grade: B-)

Draft-Night Acquisitions: PF Vladimir Stepania, Slovenia; F Rashard Lewis, Alief (Texas) Elsik H.S.; PF Jelani McCoy, UCLA

The Skinny: Three guys with tremendous potential for a team that doesn't need immediate help. Stepania is a typical European center—he's a forward. Lewis, a projected top 15 pick, is a steal in the second round. McCoy will be an active body if he stays out of trouble.

Atlanta Hawks (Grade: C+)

Draft-Night Acquisitions: SF Roshown McLeod, Duke; G Shammond Williams, North Carolina (trade)

The Skinny: Did the Hawks see something in McLeod that the rest of us missed? Give them credit for filling a need at small forward.

Detroit Pistons (Grade: C+)

Draft-Night Acquisitions: SG Bonzi Wells, Ball State; SF Korleone Young, Chatham (Va.) Hargrave Military Academy

The Skinny: Wells is a nice fit at shooting guard and will learn from vet Joe Dumars. Young slipped out of first round for good reason.

Sacramento Kings (Grade: C+)

Draft-Night Acquisitions: PG Jason Williams, Florida; C Jerome James, Florida A&M

The Skinny: Both players have huge upsides but question marks off the court. Williams must stay out of trouble; James has surprising athleticism but needs to keep his weight in check. Caveat: The last time the Kings picked this high was in 1993, also seventh overall, when they took another small point guard, Bobby Hurley.

Washington Wizards (Grade: C+)

Draft-Night Acquisitions: F Jahidi White, Georgetown

The Skinny: The Wizards needed size, which White has amply. Did they make the pick to please giddy Hoyas coach/TNT analyst John Thompson?

San Antonio Spurs (Grade: C)

Draft-Night Acquisitions: SG Derrick Dial, Eastern Michigan; PG Antonio Daniels (trade)

The Skinny: Turned the 24th pick last night (Felipe Lopez) and a journeyman (Carl Herrera) into the fourth pick from last year's draft. Coach Greg Popovich feels Daniels just didn't fit into Vancouver's system, and the Spurs didn't give up too much to get him. Dial should be able to stick as a spot-up shooter.

Charlotte Hornets (Grade: C-)

Draft-Night Acquisitions: SG Ricky Davis, Iowa; C Andrew Betts, Long Beach State

The Skinny: Ironic that the second pick is better than the first, because Betts fills the Hornets' huge void in the post, while inexperienced Davis is merely eye candy.

Miami Heat (Grade: C-)

Draft-Night Acquisitions: G Corey Brewer, Oklahoma

The Skinny: Not much you can do when your only pick is No. 51. Riley's choice won't inspire Heat faithful.

Utah Jazz (Grade: C-)

Draft-Night Acquisitions: PF Torraye Braggs, Xavier; future Philadelphia No. 1 pick (trade)

The Skinny: Traded top pick Nazr Mohammed to the Sixers for a No. 1, which basically amounted to moving up at least 10 spots for nothing. Braggs could turn into another second-round contributor (like Shandon Anderson and Bryon Russell).

Minnesota Timberwolves (Grade: D+)

Draft-Night Acquisitions: C Radoslav Nesterovic, Slovenia; F Andre Patterson, Indiana

The Skinny: Nesterovic still has one year left in Europe. Patterson may have to step into the starting lineup sooner rather than later if, as expected, Tom Gugliotta leaves as a free agent. T-Wolves still need an outside shooter.

Cleveland Cavaliers (Grade: D)

Draft-Night Acquisitions: C/PF Ryan Stack, South Carolina

The Skinny: It's hard to poorly grade the Cavs, who mined the draft so successfully in '97, but Stack is a dud. Better talent was still available (like J.R. Henderson).

New Jersey Nets (Grade: Incomplete)

Draft-Night Acquisitions: None

The Skinny: Nets still basking in "A" for '97 draft coup Keith Van Horn.

Portland Trailblazers (Grade: Incomplete)

Draft-Night Acquisitions: None

The Skinny: Blazers have a talented, young nucleus, so going pickless probably wasn't a bad thing.

Related information
1998 NBA Draft coverage
Clippers take Olowokandi with first pick
L.A. trades Van Exel to Nuggets
Mavs GM wheels and deals; finally gets his man Nowitzki
Toronto sends Jamison to Warriors for Carter, cash
High School star Harrington anxiously waited for Pacers to call his name
Pistons find backcourt help with Wells
Sixers bypass Pierce, take Hughes with 8th pick
Pitino stunned, thrilled to get Pierce
1998 NBA Draft Board
Your Turn
You Be the GM: Who would be your top pick?
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