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ESPN Insider Request: Chad Ford's NBA Draft Grades


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fyi - link below to depth charts is not an Insider story, so you should be able to access it



NBA/DRAFT 2004 - Ford: Grading the NBA Draft

Grading out the draft

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Updated: June 25, 5:09 AM ET


By Chad Ford

ESPN Insider

Also see: Updated NBA Depth Charts

After 59 picks and several trades Thursday night, here's how Insider would grade each team's 2004 NBA draft:

Atlanta Hawks

Round 1: Josh Childress, SF, Stanford (No. 6)

Round 1: Josh Smith, SF, Oak Hill Academy (No. 17)

Round 2: Donta Smith, SF, Southeastern Illinois (No. 34)

Round 2: Royal Ivey, SG, Texas (No. 37)

Round 2: Viktor Sanikidze, SF, Georgia (No. 42)

A weird draft for the Hawks. Obviously they're still in shock over not getting Dwight Howard. We began hearing that Childress was the Hawks' guy late last night. They had him ranked on the board ahead of Andre Iguodala and Luol Deng. The Hawks love his versatility, his length and his experience. Like the Bobcats, the Hawks don't want to start rebuilding with high school guys. I like the Childress pick. However, then they go out and draft two more small forwards, Josh Smith and Donta Smith, who fit the same description? They're raw, super athletic and probably can't play for a while. I know Childress can play the two a little bit, but where's the size? The Hawks really have no one at the four or five. In the second round ... Royal Ivey? Huh? Sanikidze is a real sleeper. He'll stay in Georgia for a year or two.

Grade: C

Boston Celtics

Round 1: Al Jefferson, PF, Prentiss (MS) (No. 15)

Round 1: Delonte West, G, St. Joseph's (No. 24)

Round 1: Tony Allen, SG, Oklahoma State (No. 25)

Round 2: Justin Reed, SF, Mississippi (No. 40)

I'm not sure how you could call this draft by the Celtics a success. The lost out on the guy they wanted Robert Swift. They did get another guy they had ranked highly in Al Jefferson. Danny Ainge must have felt that they needed size considering that Mark Blount was likely gone, and they didn't have anyone else to play in the paint. However, after that the West, Allen and Reed picks are a little weird. West I can understand because, if he turns into a real point guard, he could be special. Allen was one of the best defenders in college basketball. He's got a great body and he's a very good athlete. However, I'm not sure how two undersized guards are going to help a Celtics' backcourt that already is size challenged. The stuff about having Allen and West ranked as the second-best two guard and point guard in the draft is either some serious after-the-fact spin, or everyone in their scouting department needs to be fired. That's ridiculous.

Grade: C

Charlotte Bobcats

Round 1: Emeka Okafor, C, UConn (No. 2)

Round 2: Bernard Robinson, SF, Michigan (No. 45)

Deals: Acquired the rights to Robinson from Milwaukee for Zaza Pachulia

I love the Okafor pick. It was the equivalent of landing the No. 1 pick in the draft and all they had to do to get it was take on Peja Drobjnak's salary. I think Okafor will be a great fit in Charlotte. The Robinson pick I'm not as high on. I have no idea how they think that Robinson is a better prospect than Pachulia. I really thought Charlotte would be the team that traded down to Denver to get Jameer Nelson. The fact that they let Orlando outmanuver them there was a disappointment. I would've loved to have seen Nelson and Okafor in Charlotte. Still, not bad for the first go around.

Grade: A-

Chicago Bulls

Round 1: Ben Gordon, G, UConn (No. 3)

Round 1: Luol Deng, SF, Duke (No. 7)

Round 2: Chris Duhon, PG, Duke (No. 39)

Deals: Traded future first-round pick and cash to Phoenix for Deng

I like what the Bulls did. Gordon was an interesting choice. He's the most ready of any of the players left on the board. That means a lot for GM John Paxson. He's sick of potential and rebuilding. He has enough of that in Eddy Curry and Tyson Chandler. I'm not sure if Kirk Hinrich and Gordon are a good fit in the backcourt however. Deng was probably a steal at No. 7. Deng got a bad rep in workouts for being unathletic. I don't think that's fair. He's not a super athlete, but he's not a bad one either. I could still see the Bulls moving Gordon, but Paxson claimed last night that they were staying put. If the Bulls keep the two picks, they did pretty well for themselves. However, I would've taken Iguodala and Jackson personally.

Grade: B+

Cleveland Cavaliers

Round 1: Luke Jackson, SG/SF, Oregon (No. 10)

Round 2: No pick.

Jackson is obviously not LeBron, but he's been getting LeBron-like buzz lately. I thought they probably grabbed the best player on the board here. When they traded for Sasha Pavlovic on Tuesday, however, we thought that they may go in a different direction. Jackson is athletic, he can shoot it and will be a good fit with LeBron. However, it's possible that the Cavs could move this pick to the Pacers. Indiana loved Jackson and had been talking about a deal with the Cavs for the past 72 hours.

Grade: A-

Dallas Mavericks

Round 1: Devin Harris, PG, Wisconsin (No. 5)

Round 1: Pavel Podkolzine, C, Russia (No. 21)

Round 2: Luis Flores, SG, Manhattan (No. 55)

Deals: Traded Antawn Jamison to the Wizards for Jerry Stackhouse, Christian Laettner and the rights to Harris; Traded a future first to the Jazz for the rights to Podkolzine; Traded rights to Spanoulis to Houston for draft rights of Luis Flores

I think Pavel will end up being the steal of the draft at No. 21. By pick No. 12, there was no one with his upside (with the possible exception of J.R. Smith) left on the board with his upside. You think, if he develops, that Utah's going to regret trading him away for a future first round pick? The Devin Harris pick is a home run too. Whether they trade Steve Nash or not, Harris is a great fit in Dallas and can, at the very least, give Nash much of the rest he needs. Taking on Stackhouse's contract is a small price to pay for what they got in return. Flores can really light it up offensively, but I'm not sure whether a 6-foot-1 shooting guard has a great chance to make a roster.

Grade: A

Denver Nuggets

Round 1: No pick

Round 2: No pick

Deals: Traded the draft rights of Jameer Nelson (No. 20) to the Magic for a future first round pick.

The Nuggets traded their only pick. I think it was a good move. There was no one there for them. They save the money and pick up a future pick.

Grade: Incomplete

Detroit Pistons

Round 1: No pick

Round 2: Rickey Paulding, SG, Missouri (No. 54)

Assistant GM John Hammond used to be an assistant coach for Missouri so maybe he knows something we don't about Paulding's slide from a possible lottery pick all the way down in the second round. A solid second-round pick.

Grade: B

Golden State Warriors

Round 1: Andris Biedrins, PF, Latvia (No. 11)

The Warriors gave Biedrins a promise during the Chicago pre-draft camp. That's why he was hard to find the past few days. Philly tried hard to bring him in, but Biedrins wouldn't budge. He hasn't worked out for anyone in three weeks. His agent Bill Duffy was the guy who took Chris Mullin to Latvia to see the kid. I think it's a good pick for Golden State, especially because they'll likely lose Erick Dampier. Intrestingly, this is the first time since 2000 that an international player wasn't taken in the top 10.

Grade: B-

Houston Rockets

Round 1: No pick

Round 2: Vassilis Spanoulis, PG, Greece (No. 50)

Deals: Traded rights to Flores to Dallas for draft rights of Vassilis Spanoulis (PG, Greece)

Spanoulis was one of my international sleeper picks. At 6-foot-4, he's tough, fearless and, at the age of 22, could be a great pick-up here. I think he'll eventually play, a la Emanuel Ginobili or Mehmet Okur, in the NBA.

Grade: C

Indiana Pacers

Round 1: David Harrison, C, Colorado (No. 29)

Round 2: Rashad Wright, PG, Georgia (No. 59)

This is a very good pick-up for the Pacers. They were flooded with calls from teams at the last minute trying to get Harrison. In the end, they'll likely keep him. They felt the loss of Brad Miller this year. Harrison could fill that void. He's a good player. It's really just about his head. If he focuses, he should've went in the lottery. You normally don't find this type of size at this point in the draft. Nice pick.

Grade: B

Los Angeles Clippers

Round 1: Shaun Livingston, PG, Peoria (Il) (No. 4)

Round 2: Lionel Chalmers, PG, Xavier (No. 33)

The Clippers had to take Livingston. He was the best player on the board. I know Mike Dunleavy would've preferred to have taken a more experienced point guard like Devin Harris. But in five years, Livingston could be the best player in this draft. The Clippers always seem like they're waiting on something. However, Livingston is worth waiting on. Chalmers is a solid second-round pick-up. He can score and has some great experience running a team. The Clippers needed point guards and they got two good ones.

Grade: A

Los Angeles Lakers

Round 1: Sasha Vujacic, PG, Slovenia (No. 27)

Round 2: Marcus Douthit, PF, Providence (No. 56)

We've known about this pick for about a year. The Lakers were very close to promising him a first-round spot last year. This year it was a no-brainer. He was very good in the Italian league this year. He's an excellent shooter (especially in the mid-range game) and can play both the point and the two. He's a very good fit in L.A., especially if Shaq is still around. A nice value at this point in the draft.

Grade: B+

Memphis Grizzlies

Round 1: No pick

Round 2: Andre Emmett, SG, Texas Tech (No. 35)

Round 2: Antonio Burks, PG, Memphis (No. 37)

Round 2: Sergei Lishouk, PF, Ukraine (No. 49)

Call it deja vu. Last year the Grizzlies moved up high into the first round to take two undersized college senior guards -- Troy Bell and Dahntay Jones. Neither played in Memphis last season. This year they're more patient and get two undersized college senior guards neither of which will play next season. Here's the interesting thing, I like Emmett and Burks better than Bell and Jones. Lishouk could be an asset down the road. Great value in the second round for the Grizzlies.

Grade: B+

Miami Heat

Round 1: Dorell Wright, SG, South Kent CT (No. 19)

Round 2: Albert Miralles, PF, Spain (No. 39)

Round 2: Matt Freije, SF, Vanderbilt (No. 53)

Deals: Traded draft rights of Pape Sow to the Raptors for draft rights to Miralles.

With the guy they really wanted, Robert Swift, off the board, they go with the guy with the most upside. I thought the Nuggets would grab Wright at No. 20, but this is a good pick for the Heat. He's a couple of years away, but he reminds me of a young Tracy McGrady type. The Heat will put him on the developmental program. But, as much as I like Wright, I'm stunned that they passed on Jameer Nelson here. They needed a point guard who could play right away. Nelson seemed like a fit. Bottom line? The Heat stayed true to the philosophy of taking the best prospect on the board. Wright has enormous upside. The Heat keep collecting assets. Miralles was a very solid second round pick. He's tough, has a motor and great size. He's 22 and could play now in the NBA if the Heat wanted him to. .

Grade: B

Milwaukee Bucks

Round 1: No pick

Round 2: No pick

Deals: Traded No. 45 to the Bobcats for Zaza Pachulia

The Bucks hate the draft.

Grade: Incomplete

Minnesota Timberwolves

Round 1: No pick

Round 2: Blake Stepp, PG, Gonzaga (No. 58)

The Wolves get one of the best shooters in the draft. He's just a Stepp slow athletically.

Grade: Incomplete

New Jersey Nets

Round 1: No pick

Round 2: Christian Drejer, SF, Denmark (No. 51)

Deals: Traded Viktor Khryapa (No. 22) to the Blazers for Eddie Gill and cash

The Nets jumped the gun. They thought no one would be on the board at No. 22. Then Sergei Monia, who would've been a perfect pick for the Nets, slips. They blew it. Drejer was a nice pick in the second round, but the Nets will regret on passing on Monia -- a big two who can shoot and has toughness.

Grade: C-

New Orleans Hornets

Round 1: J.R. Smith, SG, Brunswick (NJ) (No. 18)

Round 2: Tim Pickett, SG, Florida State (No. 44)

The Hornets needed shooting in their backcourt and got two of the best shooters in the draft. Really great draft for the Hornets. Smith should be ready to go right away.

Grade: A

New York Knicks

Round 1: No pick

Round 2: Trevor Ariza, SF, UCLA (No. 43)

Ariza is a very nice second-round pick. Many scouts feel that he would've been a lottery pick in two years. This is the type of kid you have to find in the second round.

Grade: A-

Orlando Magic

Round 1: Dwight Howard, PF, Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy (No. 1)

Round 1: Jameer Nelson, PG, St. Joseph's (No. 20)

Round 2: Anderson Varejao, PF, Brazil (No. 30)

Deals: Acquired Nelson from the Nuggets for a future first rounder. Traded rights to Antonio Burks to the Grizzlies for a future second

Why Howard over Okafor? Two things stand out. One, now that the Magic are pretty certain that they are trading T-Mac, they want to start rebuilding. Many teams think that Howard has the most upside in the draft and can become a franchise player down the road. Fewer people believe that about Okafor. Two, the back issue, however minor it was, spooked the Magic. After going through the Grant Hill fiasco, they couldn't afford to have their building block come up lame. Still, I believe the Magic should've taken Okafor. I think Howard has all the skills to be a great player, but does he have the heart? Adding Nelson and Varejao were both very solid. Nelson can come in right away and help Orlando. Varejao could too as an energy guy, though it's likely he stays in Spain another year or two. Not a bad draft, but I think they'll regret not taking Okafor.

Grade: B+

Philadelphia 76ers

Round 1: Andre Iguodala, SG, Arizona (No. 9)

Round 2: No pick

The Sixers are very happy to end up with Iguodala. After Luol Deng, Iguodala was the second-highest swingman on their board. The great thing about Iguodala is that he doesn't need to shoot 20 times a night to be effective. That's important to any team that has Allen Iverson on it. I think Iguodala is a steal here. We had him ranked No. 4 on our big board.

Grade: A

Phoenix Suns

Round 1: No pick

Round 2: Jackson Vroman, C, Iowa State (No. 31)

Deals: Acquired Vroman from the Bulls along with a future first-round pick for the rights to Luol Deng.

In retrospect, the Suns probably should've stayed in at No. 7. I know they covet the cap space, but they could've had Iguodala at seven and I think he would've been a very nice addition to the team. Vroman is an excellent second-round addition.

Grade: B-

Portland Trail Blazers

Round 1: Sebastian Telfair, PG, Brooklyn (NY) (No. 13)

Round 1: Viktor Khryapa, SF, Russia (No. 22)

Round 1: Sergei Monia, SG, Russia (No. 23)

Round 2: Ha Seung Jin, C, South Korea (No. 46)

Deals: Acquired the rights to Khryapa from the Nets for cash and Eddie Gill.

They took Telfair way too high. Grabbing Monia at No. 23 was a great deal. However, Monia slipped in the draft because of serious concerns about his contract. He may have to play in Russia for another couple of years. So it isn't like they'll see any value in the short term. Ha was a solid second round addition considering that they seriously considered drafting him in the first round..

Grade: C-

Sacramento Kings

Round 1: Kevin Martin, SG, Western Carolina (No. 26)

Round 2: Ricky Minard, G, Morehead State (No. 47)

I think the draft was OK. I actually prefer Minard to Martin but can understand Martin's appeal. Martin ranked second in the nation in scoring last season. With Gerald Wallace being drafted by the Bobcats, the Kings really needed a player who could step in and give them some minutes at shooting guard. Martin needs to gain strength and weight, but he's a great athlete who knows how to score. Minard could be the next Ronald Murray which would be a very nice addition in Sacramento.

Grade: B-

San Antonio Spurs

Round 1: Beno Udrih, SG, Slovenia (No. 28)

Round 2: Romain Sato, SG, Xavier (No. 52)

The Spurs did as well as you could considering where they picked. Udrih was the star of the Chicago pre-draft camp. This isn't a surprise. We thought it would be either Anderson Varejao or Beno Udrih, if he was on the board. The Spurs really needed help backing up Tony Parker. Udrih, at 22, is actually older that Parker and appears to be very steady. This is a solid pick at No. 28. Sato was a steal at No. 52. Chances are, with his athleticism and great defense, that he makes the Spurs next season. They needed help in the backcourt and I think they really got it in this draft.

Grade: A

Seattle SuperSonics

Round 1: Robert Swift, C, Sonics (No. 12)

Round 2: David Young, SG, North Carolina Central (No. 41)

Deals: Traded the rights to Andre Emmett to the Grizzlies for a future second.

I think the Sonics made the right call here. There was a temptation, I'm sure, to go with someone more polished. But the truth is that Swift has more upside than most of the big guys in this draft. After suffering through so many stiffs in the middle, getting a real center with real potential is very solid. The Celtics and Jazz were both trying to move up to get Swift so it's possible that this is a trade. However, it sounds like the Sonics are determined to keep him..

Grade: A-

Toronto Raptors

Round 1: Rafael Araujo, C, BYU (No. 8)

Round 2: Pape Sow, PF, Cal State Fullerton (No. 47)

Deals: Traded draft rights of Albert Miralles to the Raptors for draft rights to Sow.

This was probably a little early to grab Araujo, but I understand what the Raptors were thinking. They needed a center in the worst, worst way. Chris Bosh is much more comfortable playing the four. Araujo is the only other big guy in the draft, other than Okafor, who is ready to play right now. He's strong, aggressive and isn't afraid to beat up people. He'll be a nice addition in Toronto, though he doesn't have the upside many of the other people on the board (read Swift and Pavel) did. Sow is an interesting second-round fit. His physicality will help in Toronto.

Grade: B-

Utah Jazz

Round 1: Kris Humphries, PF, Minnesota (No. 14)

Round 2: Kirk Snyder, SG, Nevada (No. 16)

Deals: Traded rights of Pavel Podkolzine to the Mavericks for a future first.

I really like the Jazz's first two picks. The Jazz were blown away by a Humphries workout a few weeks ago. They loved his athleticism and his ability to fill a need at the four. His college coach compared him to Karl Malone. That couldn't have hurt his stock with Utah. He's got a rep as a selfish player. That won't fly under Jerry Sloan. Being drafted by Utah could be the best thing that ever happened to him..Snyder ranked as the top athlete in the draft at the Chicago pre-draft camp. He's a jack-of-all-trades and should be able to step right in and contribute to the Jazz next season. He should be a starter in Utah next season. So far, they get an A. But then, at No. 21 the trade away the rights to Pavel for a future first. Huh? I know the Jazz didn't want three picks, but at 21, Pavel's no longer a risk. How many 21 picks pan out? If he develops in Dallas, Kevin O'Connor will never forgive himself.

Grade: B-

Washington Wizards

Round 1: No pick

Round 2: Peter John Ramos, C, Puerto Rico (No. 32)

Deals Sent Jerry Stackhouse, Christian Laettner and the rights to Devin Harris to Dallas for Antawn Jamison

I think the Wizards made a smart call by getting out of the first round. Jamison gives them what they needed, a 20 point a night scorer Eddie Jordan can depend on. Getting Ramos in the second round was a nice pick-up. I don't think he's as great of a prospect as everyone's made him out to be. But in the second round, everyone's a winner.

Grade: A-

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Originally posted by jbooma

what is funny is NO ONE mentioned that had the clippers stayed at the #2 they would have had omeka :laugh:

The problem with that is they said they didn't want a high school player, which they thought they would end up with at number two with Dwight Howard. However, they still drafted Livingston at number four, which makes no sense if that was the reason they traded down. Also, Deng, Harris, and Andre I. were still there to pick as a college player, which is what they said they wanted.

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Chad Ford's grades remind me of Garrision Keillor describing Lake Woebegon, "where all of the children are above average."

22 teams got either an A or a B. And he only graded 27.

Oh well, nothing like keeping ALL the fans happy. . .

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Something on CNNSI:

A quick message to Lionel Chalmers, pick No. 33: I hope you're worth it. You had a great tournament run at Xavier and I'd prefer not to heap a load of undue pressure on a second-rounder. ... But do you realize that when it boils down, you're the player the Clippers got in return for trading the No. 2 pick to Charlotte, and acquiring Livingston instead of Emeka Okafor?

None of this is Chalmers' fault -- it's the Clippers' fault. Instead of coming out of draft day with the most polished center available -- the best player in the draft, Okafor -- the Clips voluntarily emerged with a rail-thin, 18-year-old point guard in Livingston, and yet another point guard in Chalmers, who is 23.

Meanwhile, Charlotte GM Bernie Bickerstaff came out looking like a genius, locking up an intelligent, mature post player in Okafor who can become the face of the Bobcats' fledgling franchise. All Bickerstaff had to give up was ... Chalmers. A second-round pick. Genius.

Typical Clippers


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