Posts Tagged ‘NBA Draft’

If you’re a fan of big names and surefire superstars running out their first blocks in the NBA, this draft isn’t for you. However, if following the most wide open NBA debut night in many, many years intrigues you, this is a great year. The talent pool for tonight’s NBA Draft is devoid of any John Wall, Blake Griffin or Derrick Rose type of definite impact debuts, but there is a ton of movement around a group of well known college stars that makes this one of the NBA’s best soap opera nights in sometime.

From the Cavaliers having to make not one, but two, tough calls in rebuilding their team early in the night, to mixture of “known”, by name only, college ballers being evaluated nearly equally with international guys, theres a lot of everything here. So before passing judgement or being disappointed by no one player that is already a superstar in a league he hasn’t played in yet, take time and look around what may be one of the purest drafts of all-time.

Irving brings a short resume to a spot with long expectations if his name leads off this draft.

No player has ever earned any top billing in the NBA before they step foot on it’s court. And at least with this year’s class, their image can only go up. Here is my take on what goes best for each club,  with a mixture of what fits, what’s the rumors and where their talent says they should land.

 

1. CAVS: Kyrie Irving-PG-Duke

In today’s NBA, a point guard is the quickest route to turning a franchise’s fortune, outside of a once in a generation-type talent to build around. Well since they lost one of those, and felt the immediate effects, they’ll go around the safest way to build up a franchise otherwise. Forget the Baron Davis is already there talk, if he was so good the Clippers wouldn’t have traded him (and this pick) just to move him out. Having a definite floor leader to influence the game and build around is a solid way to head back up the road to respectability, and Irving is the most balanced option in this year’s pool.

2. T-WOLVES: Derrick Williams-PF-Arizona

Williams is a great talent that can contribute in multiple ways from day one. However, exactly how (and where) he does that is uncertain. What is certain is that he puts the Wolves in a tight spot of needing to add the most talent possible, but having that talent be at a position they are relatively set at already. He could be an insurance item in the case of Kevin Love leaving town, or this year’s Derrick Favors (a high talent selection held on until the right deal presents itself…either tonight or after the season starts).

Whether it is about his position or even his city after being drafted, where he fits has been Williams' biggest question mark.

3. Jazz: Enes Kanter-C-Turkey

More than just a few guys help the Jazz here, as they could use a point guard and some help on the wing. However, taking Kanter gives them something that won’t be available when they pick again at number 12: a solid middle piece to an impressive collection of front court talent.

4. CAVS: Tristan Thompson-PF-Texas

Toughest call yet, and the first true wild card of the draft. Evidently the Cavs love seven footer Jonas Valanciunas here, but he won’t be available to play next year in the NBA, and the Cavs need as much immediate help as possible. They worked on Thompson again recently and liked what they saw, so the move to add another long, athletic talent around the rim could land on him. Since they have said they’ll be staying here, the options could be limited just to him at this point. A few other guys make a bit more sense to go with what they want to build around already though.

5. RAPTORS: Brandon Knight-PG-Kentucky

This a major find here for Toronto. He is a legit play creator that can function in both positions in the back court and would give them an impressive young, athletic backcourt along with Demar DeRozan. They need a body in the post that’s inclined to improve their terrible defense, but passing on Knight’s talent isn’t an option here.

Knight looks to follow in the footsteps of his Kentucky PG predecessor John Wall as a quick impact NBAer.

6. WIZARDS: Jan Vesely-SF-Czech Republic

Vesley gives them a long athletic finisher that can run the floor and continue to better that fast break approach the Wizards have committed to building around John Wall. They need help under the rim, but waiting on Valanciunas isn’t an option here and they love what Vesley brings to the table on potential as a perimeter defender as well.

7. KINGS: Kwahi Leonard-SF-San Diego St.

Tough call here, as they are in need of a point guard since Tyreke Evans is moving off the ball next season and there are several talented ones on the board still. However, Leonard brings an athletic, versatile forward that adds another running mate with Evans in their attack and has the skill to become one of the better shot blocking wings in the League. Management loves Jimmer though, and that could overrule here.

8. PISTONS: Jonas Valanciunas-C-Lithuania

A top-3 talent with plenty of strings attached. No team wants to go through a Rubio situation and while Valanciunas’ debut is guaranteed to only last a year, all of these teams need help yesterday. The Pistons are looking for a defensive talent to pair with Greg Monroe around the rim, and Valanciunas’ promise may be worth the wait. This could be a hold pick for the Rockets as well, as they are in love with the Lithuanian big man and are willing to give up several picks to select him.

The impact won't be immediate, but Valanciunas is out to prove he is worth the wait.

9. BOBCATS: Chris Singleton-SF-Florida St.

The Bobcats need everything they lost when Gerald Wallace was shipped away, and Singleton brings many of those same tools to the table. He isn’t the freakish athlete Wallace is, but he is the best defender in the draft and is also quite familiar with coach Leonard Hamilton from college.

10. BUCKS: Alec Burks-SG-Colorado

The Bucks need another attacker on the wing, and Burks is the most aggressive scorer in a weak shooting guard class this year. His shot needs to come a long way, but he can flat score and gets to the rim and free throw line. Instant offense.

11. WARRIORS: Klay Thompson-SG-Washington State

Jerry West likes smart players, and Thompson is that. He is capable of playing anywhere from the 3 to the 1, and gives the Warriors options as they reshape and balance out their roster under their new regime. An athletic big man could also be in play here.

12. JAZZ: Jimmer Fredette-PG-BYU

This is part need pick and part fan pick. Jimmer is a legend in Utah and he is also instant offense for a team that needs to get more off it’s bench. Being paired with Devin Harris for now at the one gives him time to grow, and gives Jazz fans a reason to get excited.

13. SUNS: Marcus Morris-PF-Kansas

The Suns brought nothing under the rim that could provide any sort of threat around the rim after Amare Stoudemire left for New York, and they suffered last year because of it. Morris is a solid big that does some of everything, and while he’ll never be the All-Star athlete that preceded him, he does give the Suns a much need boost in the toughness department.

14. ROCKETS: Nikola Vucevic-C-USC

The Rockets need size around the rim and Vucevic is the last of the legit true centers in this draft. There’s more talent available, but this is a pick to fit and the Rockets learned how small they are last year with Yao out the mix. He’d be one of the quicker to start players in the Draft landing here.

15. PACERS: Kemba Walker-PG-UConn

And the slide ends here. Kemba could take a major hit if the Kings pass on him or another team doesn’t stray far from their needs to snatch him before he gets here. The Pacers made the move to solidify their PG situation with Darren Collison last year, but landing Kemba gives them another offensive threat from the point, which they lacked for a long time.

Walker brings a big name to the Draft, but could he be in for a big slide too?

16. SIXERS: Bismark Biyombo-PF-Congo

The biggest unknown in the field and will be tempting to a number of teams long before this point, starting with the Raptors at 5. However, with so little for sure talent in this year’s pool, some teams may pass on him due to concerns about him having any offensive potential at all. However, he can bang under the rim and he will add a body, which is exactly what the Sixer need to mix in.

17. KNICKS: Kenneth Faried-PF-Morehead St.

The Knicks need defense anyway they can get it, and Faried is exactly the type of guy they need. He can match up with either forward position and has a strong motor around the rim and blocking shots. He is exactly the type of defensively inspired player they need.

18. WIZARDS: Jordan Hamilton-SF-Texas

A long, rangy shooter that can step into the shoes of Rashard Lewis. Hamilton gives the Wizards the ability to stretch the court more and could live on kick outs from Wall alone.

19. BOBCATS: Markieff Morris-PF-Kansas

The Bobcats need more presence around the rim and guys that are able to rebound. The other Morris twin gives them that and is experienced and ready to go now.

20. TIMBERWOLVES: Iman Shumpert-SG-Georgia Tech

A hot rising name in the last few days before the Draft, and there are a number of teams that are interested in him before this point. If he lasts this long he makes great sense for the Timberwolves, who have an abundance of young offensive-minded talent, but need a defense first grinder as well. Shumpert is that guy, and can guard either position in the backcourt.

21. BLAZERS: Tobias Harris-PF-Tennessee

The Blazers need more help on defense around the rim, but passing on Harris may be too hard to do. He can play either forward position and gives the Blazers another tall forward that can stretch the floor with his jumper. Taking a combo guard could be the order of the day here too.

22. Nuggets: Marshon Brooks-SG-Providence

Brooks is a multi-talented guard that can slide between shooting and point guard with little effort. Since J.R. Smith most likely will not be returning and Raymond Felton could be on the move, he fits in in a number of ways here.

23. ROCKETS: Dontas Motiejunas-PF-Lithuania

Once again, more size for a team that needs it, but this time with an offensive touch. While the Rockets could be packaging this pick to move up for his countryman Jonas Valanciunas, if they don’t make that move they don’t lose out completely landing this 19 year old with definite offensive skill to be developed.

24. THUNDER: Kyle Singler-SF-Duke

Singler is just a solid, do everything needed type and fits in well with the Thunder, who don’t have one glaring need. They are said to be in love with his work ethic and ability to do what is needed between the lines. We’ve seen his kind before, and if given a manageable role, he’ll be a good asset.

25. CELTICS: Tyler Honeycutt-SF-UCLA

The Celtics are building up their bench for the soon-t0-come roster turnover due to the age of their stars, and having Honeycutt on staff helps them out at either the SF or SG spot down the road. It’s all about versatility here.

26. MAVERICKS: Reggie Jackson-PG-Boston College

Jackson hasn’t worked out once due to a knee injury suffered just before Draft camps and workouts began, but for a team that can afford to take a risk to get back a sure fire contributer, he’s a good pick. The Mavs have the depth in the backcourt to support such a pick and he makes some of their impending free agent decisions a bit easier to confront.

27. NETS: Jimmy Butler-SF-Marquette

The Nets are weak on the wings, and need a solid overall player that can step in and help immediately. Butler is that guy and can knock down the long range shot at a plus rate as well.

28. BULLS: Jajuan Johnson-PF-Purdue

Another body never hurts, and Johnson is an experience veteran that is committed to defense around the rim and is an athletic finisher to boot. He fits in perfectly with what the Bulls emphasize.

29. SPURS: Nikola Mirotic-SF-Serbia

The Spurs collapse at the end of the season and rapidly aged roster says on the surface that they need to get an immediate youth boost with this pick, but if they are anything as a franchise it’s patient and Mirotic is an investment in that philosophy. He won’t be available to come to the NBA for at least two years, but could be well worth the wait (he’d be approaching Lottery consideration if he was free to play next year) and would give the Spurs yet another international first round theft.

30. BULLS: Nolan Smith-PG-Duke

Smith is a polished contributor and ACC Player of the Year that proved over the course of his career at Duke that he was capable of filling any role needed, including defense first guard, to off ball shooter to offensive center piece. He is perfect for a Chicago team that needs help at both guard spots off the bench and needs a steady ball handler behind Derrick Rose.

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The word following up the NBA Finals hasn’t been in the spirit of celebrating the victors; rather it has been towards the promise unfilled by one LeBron James of southern Florida fame. There has been a world of talk and example made about his shortcomings, and I’ve already addressed that here, so I wont’ go any further into that. Rather lets take a look back at some the fails that took place over the course of the entire season here.

Jennings couldn't recapture his rookie magic, and the Bucks couldn't continue to grow either.

From the a much discussed free agent carnival in the summer of ’10, all the way through a quite unpredictable season on the court, the 2010-11 NBA was full of all sorts of highs and lows, deliveries on promise and M.I.A. missions as well. While there were a few teams and players that came up short on what was called for them this year (the Bucks, Rockets, David Lee and Deron Williams/Jerry Sloan to mention a few), below are what I see as being the biggest “WTF?” moments and performances of the season. On Monday, we’ll take a look at the biggest surprises and overachievers from the year past as CSP moves into NBA Draft week….and perhaps some off court struggles that could be the #1 moment on this list next year.

 

5. Los Angeles Lakers: The Lakers seemed like they were on cruise control all season and never really showed the flare to have the push that everybody was waiting to see out of them. Even Kobe kind of seem to go through the motions this year (which still lead to him being a top 5 MVP finalist). In the end, they caught a sweep in the Western Semifinals, and ended it in a classless manner that proved they were only the team they had been the previous two seasons in appearance only.

In the end, even Bryant couldn't will his Lakers to finding their stride for long this year.

4. Milwaukee Bucks: This was a team a year ago that made a surprisingly strong push behind Brandon Jennings major debut, and even touched the playoffs after some good trade deadline moves around John Salmons. However, a year later after adding to that core and getting a monster year out of Andrew Bogut around the rim, they got worse in a division that got much worse too…very strange.

3. Carlos Boozer: He was brought in to give the Bulls a front court scoring threat for the first time since Elton Brand was jettisoned, but often was more obstacle that asset. Running in the pick and roll based attack Jerry Sloan deployed in Utah, his jump shot based offense was perfect, but he was asked to create more of his own offense this year and struggled to do so against the variety of athletic forwards in the East. Either the Bulls have to tweak their attack or Boozer has to find a way to get new openings because he wasn’t brought over for 17 points and 9 rebounds a night.

2. San Antonio Spurs: It’s rare that you see a veteran team just absolutely lose their way like the Spurs did down the stretch; let alone one that has the championship pedigree this squad does. The Spurs raced out to what remained an insurmountable start to be the best club in the West all season. They lost 21 games on the season, but 10 of them came after March 1. By March that was just by record as they began a collapse that followed them into the Playoffs and showed them an early door. What’s more alarming, yet shouldn’t be surprising, is that the young Grizzlies pushed them to several clutch moments in their first round matchup that should have favored the Spurs, but they couldn’t capitalize on them and became the third #1 seed to lose in the first round ever. Never has a team began to look it’s age so quickly over the course of a season.

1. The 2010 Draft Class: Blake Griffin’s success in his debut masked the fact that his fellow rookies (that he wasn’t even drafted with mind you) did little to nothing. John Wall had a solid debut and shows exactly what he can be for the Wizards, but the rest of the group? It was nothing to write home about if you like to give good news. Of the All-Rookie team, Gary Neal was a free agent signing and Landry Fields was a second rounder. Of all Draft picks from last April, only Wall and DeMarcus Cousins managed to average double figures. While it’s still early to doom them to complete Bustville, they could be the first leg to the worst back to back years of new talent in NBA History. Stay tuned.

Wall showed up all season in D.C., but the rest of his fellow true rooks didn't have the best attendance.

 

 

Don’t see the biggest failure of the season from your seat here? Somebody taking an extra amount of heat they don’t need here? Comment and let me know. Also follow-up over on Twitter at @CheapSeatFan AND @STLSport360

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This years Draft lotto caught a fair amount of shade based on the fact it has been decided long ago that this class was a joke. While it is nowhere near the deepest class ever (long before about half of the top 10 prospects pulled out), there are still some intriguing players in it that could make a difference on some of these clubs at the top of this Draft. There’s no day one franchise savior, but there’s a few talented difference makers….for those picking high at least.

The Cavs hit the jackpot after their nightmare fall from grace this year, and after being able to land nothing in the wake of LeBron leaving town, now have two top 5 picks where they can max out on the limited available talent in this class. The Jazz also worked their way up the boards with a top 3 pick after dealing their franchise PG mid season, and still having a later pick..

Basically what this draft is putting some former major players in good position to get better quickly. And below is who won by landing where they did based on what they need and what’s out there, and who flat out lost by where they ended up at and what’s available.

This isn’t the best draft, and it would be much better to be higher next year, but with some smart picks, there’s some solid bonus picks here after the clear top two guys. I’ll be back later this week to familiarize you with some of these prospects and my take on them and how they fit in the NBA, but for now run with the team info/projections and fall backs options.

Not sure if any of these guys (even the #1) is enough to save these squads….well that’s a different question. Bit they can’t get much worse. I think.

1. CAVS: #1 is always a great spot, even in this year’s uncertain class. And in any situation, for unloading Mo Williams and babysitting Baron Davis, they land the top pick as a throw in and now have a chance to get a potential new face of the organization to rebuild around.

The CHOICE: Kyrie Irving. If no? Derrick Williams.


2. T-WOLVES: Once again they miss out on the top prize in their never-ending rebuilding project, and as a result, they are subject to whatever the Cavs do. Any point guard is a loud admission of perhaps early defeat in their Flynn/Rubio ’09 Draft, but with Derrick Williams they at least get some versatility, albeit at the positions they are best at, forward. Tough spot.

The Choice: Derrick Williams. If No? Brandon Knight


3. JAZZ: They have a cluttered roster that is in transition after the Deron Williams move, and there will definitely be some new openings, but they could have really used a spot in the top 2 to properly address their needs. But with this first of two Lotto picks, they should take another backcourt athlete, or potentially a high potential foreigner. But really, nothing fits perfectly here.

The Choice: Brandon Knight. If No? Jan Vesley.


4. CAVS: A luxury pick for many other clubs, this is a blessing from above for a team in need everywhere. This quick turnaround in the top 10 represented by their own pick gives them a shot to add two quick fixes along the road of redemption. They really have to take the best available player here once again.

The CHOICE: Enes Kanter. If No? Kemba Walker.


5. RAPTORS: They need helping the middle, as they have a large group of talented, but slender frontcourt guys. However, an athletic backcourt scorer to run with DeMar DeRozan would be a big coup as well, and here they have the option to do both. Although they have a taste for international talent, they could benefit more by looking south intobthe States this year.

The CHOICE: Kemba Walker. If No? Jonas Valanciunus.

6. WIZARDS: The need athletic wings that can bring out the best in John Wall, so the more they can run and finish, the better. However getting an shooter that can stretch the D is needed too…AND a big man that turn his back to the basket…AND, well just about everything else too. They may be best suited taking the best available player that can contribute quickly.

The CHOICE: Kawhi Leonard. If No? Jan Vesley

7. KINGS: Getting higher in the mix to land the point guard they need to move Tyreke Evans off the ball would have been ideal, but they’ll miss out on that this late, while being too high to take a reach at the next level of PGs. They have to settle for one of the wings here late, and hope to find a better way to even out their lineup elsewhere.

THE CHOICE: Jan Vesley. If No? Josh Shelby

8. PISTONS: There will be a TON  of personel turnover here after the last season mutiny by the veterans on board. Whatever gets done however will be based around Greg Monroe and Rodney Stuckey (and the log jams of Ben Gordon, Charlie Villanueva and their contracts). These issues say take a physical front court presence or find an athletic swingman to fill in the Richard Hamilton gap in the works.

THE CHOICE: Jonas Valanciunas. If No? Alec Burks

9. BOBCATS: This team needs scorers of any type, but their lack of toughness inside will most likely take priority. Whoever can start to give this team some identity again would be a great call, but with Jordan calling the shots you never know what could happen here. Logic says take the best available player from my view.

THE CHOICE: Tristan Thompson. If No? Jimmer Fredette

10. BUCKS: The were tremendously underwhelming this year, but still have a lot of talent on deck to be adding a top 10 player to. This works out well because it can be a bonus to a core that can improve. An athletic front line body would be a big bonus, but a slasher that can shoot a bit too would be the best fit.

THE CHOICE: Alec Burks. If No? Marcus Morris

11. WARRIORS: Usually, this doesn’t matter. They’ll just take the best player at a position they are already deep at. However, with Jerry West on board now in Oakland, the picks will get smarter. They need to fill in the space between David Lee and Monta Ellis/Stephen Curry with some versatile forward talent. Or they could potentially look to land a legit fixture at center as well.

THE CHOICE: Chris Singleton. If No? Bismack Biyombo

12. JAZZ: This depends on what they do with #3, but getting more explosive overall has to be their goal. They are in a position to gamble here on potential/payout, but could go for the name brand move here too via a certain BYU star. Makes a weird sort of symmetry sense, but could also be a decent fit.

THE CHOICE: Kenneth Faried. If No? Jimmer Fredette

13. SUNS: They’ll be changing a lot very soon, and it could even include Steve Nash. However, they could delay some of their mass overhaul by adding getting some athletic size to go with their guard based attack, as they have nobody on their roster currently that presents an obstacle to opposing rim attackers.

THE CHOICE: Markieff Morris. If No? Jimmer Fredette

14. ROCKETS: They are picking from the same position as last year, but they are not the same team as they were a year ago. They don’t have the same optimism on Yao Ming returning, and have no true presence at the point. They would be best suited adding some height, but this late in a shallow pool, they are the rare position of having to actually settle for the “best” available player to better themselves.

THE CHOICE: Jimmer Fredette. If No? Donatas Motiejunas

I was troubled early this season in college basketball by the lack of quality, and the basic lack of even a surefire team that would be the top dog. Then about a month went by & I realized why: there flat-out aren’t any great players in the NCAA this year. Each “top dog” prospect is playing more like underdog, to the point where there is no clear guy that looks to be anywhere close to a franchise cornerstone.

But wait, look around the NBA this year too….um, did the kids not come out for recess this year? Save for John Wall & DeMarcus Cousins, the 2010 draft so far is catching a big break due to Blake Griffin (who isn’t even a part of this class) has eliminated any need to look at who deserves the Rookie of the Year, because these guys aren’t doing a thing either. The All-Rookie team’s stats are going to need food bank donations from everywhere, because they are slim. Well, if you’re gonna score eight points a night, at least make them exciting, right Wes Johnson? No? Okay then.

However, in the recent history of the NBA, eight points a night would’ve been a career year for some high-profile picks. Any draft is more educated guess than anything else. You’re only going to get a Tim Duncan or LeBron James-level safe pick once every blue moon. More often than not, draft picks are calculated risks that best is hoped of. But sometimes, there’s some things done on draft day that invoke the time-tested, three-step draft day bust warning:

1) David Stern has that quick smirk like “Well, I didn’t plan on having to announce (or sometimes pronounce) this guy’s name, but here goes….”

2) That 5 seconds of quick silence while Jay Bilas & company look for some way to not cross over into being a part of step 3, which is…

3) The chorus of boos and laughs shared in live at Madison Square Garden, in bars & living rooms around the country.

There’s a great deal of these moments over the years, and sometimes we just aren’t smart enough to boo yet (see Williams, Jay & Curry, Eddy….I’m a Bulls fan. I drank the Kool-Aid briefly). In other times, it’s just too unbelievable to register. Those are the guys listed here, the ones that make you take an Aspirin on draft day, and then later on have GMs considering fonts to use for their suicide notes (unless you’re Michael Jordan, then you just play some highlights, sell some Hanes & all is forgiven).

Let’s pay these guys some homage, as they made the biggest reverse impacts of the last 10 years (11 actually, I’ll save judgement on this year crop for another year or so. But I see some familiar symptoms developing….Gordan Hayward). This is the worst player taken, per slot, since the 2000 Debacle…er, Draft. (I could have easily just taken that entire top 10 & done this list, but that would’ve been too easy. Note, don’t ever take a guy from Cincinnati with a blown out knee & attitude number one again. Also, in the top 3, avoid guys that get ACT scores that score in the negative either. But you’re the Clippers, so it’s understandable.)

I don’t know if any of the college guys this year are quite this bad, but this serve as a warning of what could be to come. Allow the misery of the Cleveland Cavaliers 2010-11 continue.

1. Kwame Brown (’01-Wizards): Here’s the thing about Kwame, he was the ultimate workout warrior. He was one of three high schoolers taken in the top five that year, AND HE WAS THE WORST OF THEM IN HIGH SCHOOL. The other two guys that were better than him? Tyson Chandler & Eddy Curry. That just screams “Franchise Cornerstone”. But he got the Jordan seal of approval, and set out quickly in kick starting Mike’s new reputation as being the “Michael Jordan of bad drafters”. Ten years, miraculously, he is still in the League and has been reclaimed by another Jordan-led team in Charlotte, and is actually having one of his most successful seasons….averaging seven points a night.

Mike should have showed him one of his old Gatorade commercials for inspiration right after this pick. It couldn't have hurt.


I think one of Jordan’s underrated achievements is that he actually Sam Bowie’d two guys in his career via his reputation. Can’t think of anybody else that could do that.

2. Darko Milicic (’03-Pistons): I’ve been down this road before. Enjoy my take on Darko and his “American Tale” from this summer.

Exactly.

3. Adam Morrison (’06- Bobcats): If Mike’s 63 points on the Celtics in ’86 proved for the first time he was a legit NBA force, this pick is the equivalent of that effort for him as the exact opposite in executive decisions. Morrison was a force at Gonzaga, but if there ever was a clearer red flag than Morrison’s mustache & Marty Jannetty-inspired do, I don’t know what it was.

This mustache just screams "A park my van close to mall exits & playgrounds" over quality NBA swing man.

 

He also gets this nod for being the most laughable two-time champion of ever. I don’t think he moved in his seat once during his two years as a Laker except to receive his “winnings” on ring night at the Staples. Sigh…best of luck in your post-NBA porno career your mustache was 35 years too late for Adam.

4. Eddy Curry (’01-Bulls): Here’s a quick story about when I realized this guy would become who he is now. In ’01 just before he turned pro out of high school, he came to St. Louis to play in a showcase game that was to pit the two greatest high school centers in the land against each other, Curry vs. Chandler. By halftime of that game, the sold out Savvis Center was so disgusted by the play of both of them that I think I literally saw folks throwing up in the isles. Curry had something like 10 points, and was in tears by the end of the game on the bench. So, does everything else that has followed make sense now? Okay.

5. Nikoloz Tskitishvili (’02-Nuggets): In the early 2000’s, any European that came over carried an automatic & mysterious lure as being a potential “7’0 foot shooting force that will redefine the game”. Well that’s true if you consider being legendary busts that within 5 years would have GMs running from top 10 foreigners like they are an Isiah Thomas approved contract. Darko was the pinnacle of this, but Tskitishvili is still the worst example ever, with his 2.9 career PPG & not even that many rebounds per. Did I mention he’s seven feet tall? Alright, just wanted to be sure.

6. Yi Jianlian (’07-Bucks): Number six has actually been a good spot in most drafts, so Yi is here by default as he’s the most suitable fit. Also, because he complained about not wanting to play in Milwaukee, yet only gave them eight points a game once finally agreeing to play for them. He was subsequently traded to the Nets, which was followed by being dealt to the Wizards, which has sealed his fate as the most “punished by location” player since the NBA/ABA merger.

Dude, nobody REALLY like being in Milwaukee, but at least sell the moment.

 

7. DeSagana Diop (’01-Cavs): Any time you’re career highlight is providing support for Erick Dampier you know something has gone wrong along the way. But he apparently has taken some lesson from Dampier on how to turn in the least possible work for the maximum payday, as his career totals 2.1 points & 3.8 rebounds per game into a $32 million dollar contract & hopefully a role in a future “Dead Presidents” remake as well.

8. Joe Alexander (’08-Bucks): Hailed as the prototypical “athletic white guy that can shoot as well”, Alexander’s impact on Bustville can be summed up by one number: 4. That’s the number of teams he played for in 2010, with two of them being NBDL squads (Thats right. Two different ones, same year).

9. Patrick O’Bryant (’06-Warriors): Don’t draft black guy’s with Irish names unless their first name is Shaquille. Without that combination, DO NOT PASS GO. Patty O’s first NBA Coach, the immortal enigma Don Nelson, summed up his career best.

“I told him if he goes down to the D-League and isn’t a dominant player, there should be red flags all over the place, and he should be the first to notice. He’s not only not dominating, he’s not playing very well. He’s a long-term project. I really liked him the first week of training camp, but I assumed there would be great progress. […] He hasn’t gotten better one bit.”

Exactly.

10. Luke Jackson (’04-Cavs): Jackson was drafted simply to hit open jumpers in the corner off of LeBron James drive-and-dishes. Simple enough right? Especially for a first team All-American, right? Well, this didn’t quite workout well, and now Jackson has spent three separate tenures playing pro basketball in Idaho.

Enough said.

Follow me for more outtakes, facts & random sports blabber on Twitter at @CheapSeatFan

The Lineup #5: NBA ROOKS, Top 10 of the Last 10.

Posted: February 7, 2011 by The Cheap Seat Fan in NBA
Tags: , , , ,

There’s been a lot of buzz this year around the blowup of Blake Griffin on the scene. His every move has been broadcast by SportsCenter it seems, and his efforts have even lifted the Clippers up to some measure of success, something that waves of rooks from Danny Manning to Michael Olowakandi couldn’t pull off.

 

Griffin has blown up on the spot this year. Where does it place him amongst his' peers debuts though?

 

However, being a truly prolific rookie in the NBA is a rare thing. It’s a deep league, and only the absolute cream of the crop can breakthrough to make a truly historic impact when their feet first squeak the court. So, for everything Griffin has done this thus far, in route to an All-Star birth to boot, where does he place amongst the debuts of his peers?

There’s been some big debuts over the last 10 years, but here’s the best of the pack. Figure out where you’d place Griffin’s debut amongst this group, or if it belongs at all. I’ll add my take in the comments.

10. Pau Gasol (’01): Things didn’t go well for the Grizzlies when Vancouver was attached to their name, but the last player they selected on the way out the door to Memphis would end up being the greatest player in the franchise history. The Spanish import didn’t waste anytime making his presence felt, as he averaged 17.8 points, 8.9 rebounds and a now career-high 2.1 blocks for the lowly Grizzlies, and became the first feature player for the young team.

9. Dwyane Wade (’03): While the best was yet to come from Wade, he quickly did two very distinct things once he touched Miami. Firstly, he proved that his dominant play for Marquette in the 2003 year’s Final Four was no fluke, and secondly, that there was a lot more to his draft class than just LeBron & Carmelo, averaging 16.2 points, 4 rebounds and 4.5 assists. The Heat improved by 17 games from the season before, while Wade showed glimpses of what he would become shortly afterwards, as Finals MVP three years later.

8. Emeka Okafor (’04): Long before the Bobcats where the respectable playoff squad they are now, they had selected Okafor with their first draft pick in their history. He was the perfect player for the young club, with a polished, defense first, college game. He was the focus player on this team, and he didn’t disappoint, and at 15.1 points, 10.9 rebounds and 1.7 blocks, had a great statistical season of his career for the worst team he would suit up with.

7. Kevin Durant (’07): When he entered the league, Durant was taken number two behind Greg Oden. The duo was being set up to take part in a long rivalry that was to be a definitive battle for the next decade. However, this never got off the ground, as KD never played second fiddle to Oden for another day in career after draft day. His immediate superior scoring touch, coupled with an Oden’s first season-preventing knee injury, ended these comparisons quickly. Durant averaged 20.3 points (which has become to be a career LOW by five points) in route to the 2008 Rookie of the Year award, and gave the soon-to-be Thunder an immediate face to their franchise.

He wasn't technically a Sonic for long, but Durant made a loud debut in Seattle before pack his bags for OKC.

 

 

6. Tyreke Evans (’09): Evans blew up for Kings across the board in a way that few had ever done during their debut, not just over the last 10 years, but over every season played in the league’s history. The young combo guard finished with marks of 20.1 points, 5.8 assists and 5.3 rebounds, joining Oscar Robertson, Michael Jordan & LeBron James as the only rookies to average 20 points, five rebounds & five assists for the season. Good company to say the least.

5. Yao Ming (’02): The expectations were through the roof for the game’s most mysterious & hyped foreign import, and Yao did not disappoint. His 13.5 point, 8.2 rebound over 82 games showcased talents that would soon make him the best offensive center in the game. He made an immediate impact for the Rockets, finishing with a 15 game improvement & a return to the Playoffs. However, more importantly, his immediate success in the NBA cued a global viewership expansion onto the other side of the globe in Yao’s native China that took the League’s exposure to another level.

Worldstar: Yao's debut was solid on the court and massive across the Pacific.

 

4. Dwight Howard (’04): The Magic shocked a few by selecting Howard, a relative late arrival to the top prospect scene, over Okafor, the National Player of the Year & champion who played the same position. Howard immediately quieted these questions by becoming the first high school-to-pro leap to average a double-double (12 points and 10 tens) and start in all 82 games. He also became the youngest player grab 20 rebounds in a game & average 10 for a season.

3. Chris Paul (’05): A good point guard’s impact on his team should be to make every player better around him. And if that’s the requirement, CP3 never stopped at just merely good. His overall impact was undeniable, as his averages of 16.1 points, 7.8 assists, an outstanding 2.2 steals & even snatched down five rebounds a night, while standing at a generously listed 6 feet tall. The rook ‘s presence improved the Hornets by 20 games from the season before. He won every Western Conference Rookie of the Month award for the season, and gave fan bases in both Oklahoma City and New Orleans reasons to believe in their NBA futures.

2. LeBron James (’03): Nearly every thing he has done in his career thus far he has been the youngest player to reach the milestone, and that trend started early in much-awaited rookie season. In route to becoming the youngest Rookie of the Year in league history, he averaged 20.9 points per game, 5.9 assists and 5.5 rebounds, joining Jordan & Robertson as the only player to do this at the time. The only difference is they did this at 21 and 22, respectively. LeBron did it one year removed from high school at 18/19. The Cavs improved 18 games from just the season before, and began their most successful run in franchise history.

LBJ went #1 and snagged top rookie honors over Carmelo, but in on-court impact, Melo meant more earlier.

 

1. Carmelo Anthony (’03): As one half of the most heralded draft class in 20 years, the heat was on Anthony, and his play more than justified it. Also, he didn’t take home Rookie of the Year honors, as they went to LeBron, but in my estimation, his impact was greater because the Nuggets ascended further in a tougher conference with Melo suiting up. His selection immediately turned the Nuggets from laughing stocks to playoff contenders, as 2003-04 Nuggets won 24 more games than the year before, the highest turnaround of any team’s performance from a rookie debut. During his first season as a 19-year-old, he became the second youngest player to score 30 & 40 points in a game and became the first rookie to lead a playoff bound team in scoring (21 points per) since David Robinson in 1989-90.

 

 

Yesterday, the Western Conference was summarized through the small changes many of their teams committed to make the difference in their team’s fortunes. Moving along to the East, that couldn’t be further from the case here. If you went to sleep on the NBA after the Finals and woke up in October, you may not recognize many of the teams in the East. The LeBron James saga had every major market team in the Conference gutting their roster in the hopes to add him and another All-Star free agent to change the destiny of their franchise.

After that saga (dramatically) ended and teams reacted and regrouped to “The Decision”, many other teams also changed their membership dramatically as well. Also, some team were left dangerously depleted from the free agent movement free-for-all. This was a case of a group of a few making big leaps, but many others being left without much room to match the major move makers.

Clearly the Heat had a good summer break, but did other teams still do enough to keep up in the East?

Miami Heat-Grade: A+

Retained: Dwyane Wade, Udonis Haslem, Joel Anthony, James Jones, Jamaal Magloire, Carlos Arroyo

Additions: LeBron James (fa), Chris Bosh (fa),  Zydrunas Ilgauskas (fa), Mike Miller (fa) Juwan Howard (fa)

Lost: Jermaine O’Neal (BOS), Quentin Richardson (ORL), Michael Beasley (MIN), Daequan Cook (OKC)

Perhaps no team in the history of the NBA as more radically altered the face of their franchise than the Heat did by luring LeBron James and Chris Bosh into their fold to join Dwyane Wade. While this starting tandem instantly became the best in basketball, the talent and depth they almost instantly attracted is what separates this team’s offseason from all others. Adding Mike Miller and Zydrunas Illgauskas, and bringing back Udonis Haslem among others assured that this team has the impact and depth to play long in to the spring of 2011.

Chicago Bulls-Grade A+

Retained: No FAs returned

Additions: Carlos Boozer (t), Kyle Korver (fa), Ronnie Brewer (fa), Kurt Thomas (fa), CJ Watson (t), Omer Asik (d-2008)

Lost: Kirk Hinrich (WAS), Hakim Warrick (PHO), Brad Miller (HOU)

The Bulls were players in the James/Bosh/Wade market, but when that didn’t play out as planned, they regrouped and became quickly active in still capitalizing on the depth of the free agent field. The additions of Kyle Korver, Carlos Boozer and Ronnie Brewer have them being called “Jazz-East”, but that isn’t a bad thing, as the 2010 Jazz would have finished 4th in the East, without the Derrick Rose/Joakim Noah, back-to-back playoff core they are joining.

Milwaukee Bucks-Grade: A

Retained: John Salmons

Additions: Corey Maggette (t), Drew Gooden (fa), Chris Douglas-Roberts (t), Keyon Dooling (fa), Jon Brockman (t), Larry Sanders (d), Darington Hobson (d), Keith Gallion (d)

Lost: Luke Ridnour (MIN), Royal Ivey (OKC), Kurt Thomas (CHI), Charlie Bell (GS), Dan Gadzuric (GS), Darnell Jackson (SAC)

Quietly, the Bucks managed to resign one of the best guards available (John Salmons), make several big value trades (Drew Gooden, Chris Douglas-Roberts & Drew Gooden) and land their #1 target in the draft (Larry Sanders). Never a player for any of the big names on the market, there isn’t much more that can asked from the Bucks from their summer and they will be a tough match up for any team in the East all year.

The Bucks flew under the radar and made all the right moves, including locking up Salmons.

Boston Celtics-Grade: B+

Retained: Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Marquis Daniels, Nate Robinson

Additions: Jermaine O’Neal (fa), Avery Bradley (d), Luke Harangody (d)

Lost: Tony Allen (MEM), Shelden Williams (DEN)

Surprises quickly followed the Celts Finals run, with Paul Pierce opting out of his contract and Rasheed Wallace apparently retiring. However, they score high by how they reacted. Resigning Pierce was a must and landing Jermaine O’Neal to replace Wallace is a push. Despite losing Tony Allen, they resigned Ray and draft pick Avery Bradley could be a steal at #18 overall.

New York Knicks-Grade: B

Retained: No FAs returned

Additions: Amar’e Stoudemire (fa), Raymond Felton (fa), Kelenna Azubuike (t), Anthony Randolph (t), Ronny Turiaf (t), Timofrey Mozgov (fa), Andy Rautins (d), Landry Fields (d), Jerome Jordan (d)

Lost: David Lee (GS), Chris Duhon (ORL), Al Harrington (DEN), Sergio Rodriguez

The Knicks cleared almost their entire roster in an effort to land any of the top free agents available. While he’s no LeBron, they did end up with Amar’e Stoudemire. Adding Raymond Felton to run with him and getting much depth from a sign-and-trade deal for David Lee could signal a slight changing of the fortune coming to Madison Square Garden, but they still need help at center badly.

Orlando Magic

Retained: JJ Redick

Additions: Chris Duhon (fa), Quentin Richardson (fa), Daniel Orton (d), Stanley Robinson (d)

Lost: Matt Barnes (LAL)

They may have overpaid to retain JJ Redick, but it was necessary in case they lost Matt Barnes, as they eventually did, a blow to the defense. However, Q. Richardson can make up for some of his lost and big man Daniel Orton, while a project, could become a quality contributor under the rim with Dwight Howard.

Redick's salary went up this summer, his responsibilities will in the fall.

Washington Wizards-Grade: B-

Retained: No FAs returned

Additions: John Wall (d), Kirk Hinrich (t), Kevin Seraphin (d), Travis Booker (d), Hilton Armstrong (fa), Hamady N’diaye (d)

Lost: Mike Miller (MIA), Randy Foye (LAC), Shaun Livingston (CHA)

The Wiz made a huge move in securing their future, making the obvious pick of  franchise guard John Wall number one in the Draft. This is a huge step in the rebuilding process in DC, but its failure to move troubled guard Gilbert Arenas, the former face of the team, could slow this process, but the Wall selection is huge step in the right direction.

Toronto Raptors-Grade: C

Retained: Amir Johnson

Additions: Leandro Barbosa (t), Ed Davis (d), Linas Kleiza (fa), Solomon Alabi (fa), Dwayne Jones (t)

Lost: Chris Bosh (MIA), Hedo Turkoglu (PHO)

The loss of Chris Bosh is an undeniable blow to Toronto, but the Raptors were not on the fast track to the top of the Conference at any rate, so it also gives them a chance to retool. The major move in starting this rebuilding stretch was moving out the disappointing Hedo Turkoglu from their ranks. The veteran presence of Leandro Barbosa and the pick of Ed Davis is a move in the right direction.

Philadelphia 76ers-Grade: C

Retained: No FAs returned

Additions: Evan Turner (d), Spencer Hawes (t), Andres Nocioni (t), Tony Battie (fa)

Lost: Samuel Dalembert (SAC)

The Sixers are moving in a new direction and brought in even more young talent with #2 overall pick Evan Turner and trading for Spencer Hawes, who will add depth in the front court. Turner struggled some in the summer leagues, but as he settles in more along with Andre Iugodala and Jrue Holiday, he should help the Sixers become a very strong defensive team along the perimeter.

The spotlight is on Turner, the new franchise building block, after quiet offseason from the Sixers.

Indiana Pacers-Grade: C

Retained: No FAs returned

Additions: Paul George (d), Lance Stephenson (d), Magnum Rolle (d)

Lost: None

Indiana has built a strong overall roster and continue to build through the draft, with Paul George and Lance Stephenson, the latter of which could be a steal and help a both the point and shooting guard. George will add more immediate scoring to their bench. The failure to add help at the point guard spot could hold them back still however.

New Jersey Nets-Grade: C-

Retained: No FAs returned

Additions: Jordan Farmar (fa), Anthony Morrow (t), Derrick Favors (d), Travis Outlaw (fa), Johan Petro (fa), Damion James (d)

Lost: Tony Battie (PHI), Keyon Dooling (MIL)

Missing out on all of the premier free agents could be viewed as an offseason failure, however this team was so bad last year that any new talent of any sorts pushes them in the right direction. #3 pick Derrick Favors will add athleticism and rebounds immediately. Jordan Farmer, Anthony Morrow and Travis Outlaw wont push them to the promised land, but they will make sure this team doesn’t challenge for the all-time loss record again.

Charlotte Bobcats-Grade: C-

Retained: No FAs returned

Additions: Shaun Livingston (fa), Dominic McGuire (fa), Erick Dampier (t), Eduardo Najera (t), Matt Carroll (t)

Lost: Raymond Felton (NY), Theo Ratliff (LAL), Tyson Chandler (DAL), Alexis Ajinca (DAL)

The Bobcats just looked to add depth to their roster and came out well by adding Erick Dampier, Eduardo Najera and Matt Carroll to their intact core. They are a solid team that matches up well across the floor and these additions just solidify that more. Nothing spectacular, but not bad either.

Atlanta Hawks-Grade: D+

Retained: Joe Johnson

Additions: Jordan Crawford (d), Josh Powell (fa)

Lost: Josh Childress (PHO)

The Hawks decision to hand Joe Johnson a max contract at the onset of free agency was a brash move that doesn’t make the team better than it already was and could be an anchor to the future development of the team, as he will be 35 when it expires and most likely well into his decline. It could be justified if it was part of a deal with another player to better them, but it wasn’t because they couldn’t afford any more moves. The “win now” philosophy gone wrong.

Detroit Pistons-Grade: D

Retained: Ben Wallace

Additions: Greg Monroe (d), Terrico White (d)

Lost: None

Detroit drafted well in adding Greg Monroe and Terrico White, but their failure to act on a much need clearing house of their older pieces (and even resigning one in Ben Wallace), will continue to keep this team from moving on. These commitments keep them from being able to afford or have room for a much-needed youth infusion. The Pistons are in need of a new look and Monroe is a big grab at #7 overall, who could become a younger Rasheed Wallace if given the time.

Without LeBron backing him, does Mo Williams have enough help to save the day in Cleveland?

Cleveland Cavaliers-Grade: F

Retained: No FAs returned

Additions: Ryan Hollins (t), Ramon Sessions (t)

Lost: LeBron James (MIA), Zydrunas Ilgauskas (MIA), Delonte West, Sebastian Telfair (MIN)

The Cleveland Nowhere Men may be more appropriate here. The biggest losers of the entire LeBron James move, they are left virtually empty. But their failure to add anything of substance to try to replace LeBron’s impact is their biggest mistake of all. Maybe it’s the fact it’s looked at as a Post-LeBron wasteland by free agents or some other act, but they did take advantage of the open market after he left. At this rate, they will be able to count on the Lottery to help rebuild them for many years.

This has been without a doubt the most memorable off-season in the history of the NBA. The player movement frenzy went from its usual speculation and rumor mill style, to all out pop culture event in some instances. This summer has looked more like a Fantasy League draft than re-ordering of some players in new area codes. The earthquake across the league this summer reset much of the power from being just on the left coast, and into the east. However, the talent in the west is still spread across the board better than anywhere else. Of the 15 teams in the division, 13 of them have a legit chance at making the playoffs every year. While the biggest moves of the off-season didn’t happen amongst the teams from the West side,  a lot of them honestly didn’t need to make huge moves to sustain their success. Here is a showing of where less can be more.

The Thunder added even more pieces to the league's best young group, but how do they fit?

Here are the CHEAP SEATS take on how each Western Conference team made out in the offseason, from additions and subtraction, draft and current free agent moves. Additions are noted as free agents (fa), draft picks (d) or trades (t).

Houston Rockets-Grade: A

Retained: Luis Scola, Kyle Lowry

Additions: Brad Miller (fa), Patrick Patterson (d)

Lost: None

The off-season sealed the march back towards the playoffs for the Rockets by not looking outwards, but keeping their already impressive corps together by resigning restricted free agents Luis Scola and Kyle Lowry in town. Add in well-rounded Patrick Patterson for the bench and potential return of Yao Ming, with Brad Miller for security and depth, and you’ve got a team the is guaranteed to push for the playoffs this year.

Los Angeles Lakers-Grade: A

Retained: Derek Fisher

Additions: Matt Barnes (fa), Steve Blake (fa), Theo Ratliff (fa), Devin Eubanks (d), Derrick Character (d)

Lost: Jordan Farmar (NJ), Josh Powell (ATL)

The champs did exactly what they needed to do, keep their core intact and improve on depth. Resigning Fisher took care of the first part and adding Barnes and Blake handled the rest. Blake will make a seamless transition for the departure of Farmar and Barnes will team with Lamar Odom to make this one of the toughest second teams in basketball. If Shannon Brown returns, this becomes the best graded off-season in the West.

Despite flirting with Miami, Fisher's return to the Lakers keeps intact the two-time champ's starting 5.

Oklahoma City Thunder-Grade: A-

Retained: No FAs returned

Additions: Morris Peterson (fa), Daequan Cook (fa), Royal Ivey (fa), Cole Aldrich (d), Tibor Pleiss (d), Latavious Williams (d), Ryan Reid (d)

Lost: None

The number one team on the verge of breaking through made the right moves to finish that transition this off-season. They already have a solid rotation starting around the All-Universe Kevin Durant and added more depth than nearly any other team. Morris Peterson’s veteran presence could be exactly what this team needs to go over the top. Cole Aldrich, acquired in a draft day trade with Peterson, will be a plus front line bench performer.

Memphis Grizzlies-Grade: B

Retained: Rudy Gay

Additions: Tony Allen (fa), Xavier Henry (d), Greivis Vazquez (d)

Lost: Ronnie Brewer (CHI)

Memphis’ summer is best understood by looking at the future. While Gay may not be worth the five-year, $82 million contract he signed to kick off agency, it could pay off in big time if he continues to his personal consistent improvement and becomes one of the premier wings in the League, as he projects to be over the course of the contract. It was premature, it was necessary to keep intact one of the best young cores in the NBA.

Memphis' only move was a big one by locking up Gay with a max contract.

Dallas Mavericks-Grade: B

Retained: Dirk Nowitzki, Brendan Haywood

Additions: Tyson Chandler (t), Dominique Jones (d), Ian Mahinmi (fa)

Lost: Erick Dampier (CHA), Eduardo Najera (CHA), Matt Carroll (CHA)

The Mavs kept their franchise’s most pivotal player in place by resigning Nowitzki, but also add pieces that can make it easier for him to maximize his game at his increasing age. Resigning Haywood and acquiring Chandler, will let him spend more time on the perimeter and less contact under the rim.

Minnesota Timberwolves-Grade: B-

Retained: Darko Milicic, Nikola Pekovic (d-2007)

Additions: Michael Beasley (t), Luke Ridnour (fa), Martell Webster (t), Wesley Johnson (d), Lazar Hayward (d), Nemanja Bjelica (d), Paulao Prestes (d)

Lost: Al Jefferson (UTH)

The Wolves drastically changed their makeup this summer. When you’re as bad as they have been over last few years, anything is worth a try. To their credit the additions of Beasley, Ridnour and Webster give immediate boost to their bench and Wesley Johnson will be the “do anything” type that the team has needed for years. The only concern could be chemistry with so many young players looking to make their name at once on the crowded roster.

Portland Trailblazers-Grade: C+

Retained: No FAs returned

Additions: Wesley Matthews (fa), Luke Babbitt (d), Elliot Williams (d), Armon Johnson (d)

Lost: Martell Webster (MIN), Juwan Howard (MIA)

At this point the Blazers don’t have much more they can add, or afford to lose. They have to have a fully healthy unit on the court to see how good it is. Luke Babbitt could be nice draft coup for team depth along with Sergio Rodriguez and Wesley Matthews. In the end this team’s roof goes as high as it’s injured list lets it go.

Until Oden get back on the court, Portland's potential may never be reached, regardless of depth.

Golden State Warriors-Grade: C+

Retained: No FA has returned

Additions: David Lee (t), Dan Gadzuric (t), Charlie Bell (t), Ekpe Udoh (d), Jeremy Lin (fa)

Lost: Kelenna Azibuike (NY), Anthony Randolph (NY), Anthony Morrow (NJ), Corey Maggette (MIL), Ronnie Turiaf (NY), CJ Watson (CHI)

The Warriors changed more off their existing roster than any other team and surprisingly landed David Lee to give balance their back court heavy attack. #6 overall pick Ekpe Udoh should a new defensive presence once he heals from a summer injury, but depth could still be an issue considering what they moved out for Lee.

The Jazz hope Jefferson recovers his old work on the glass along with his health, as he replaces Boozer.

Utah Jazz-Grade: C+

Retained: NO FAs returned

Additions: Al Jefferson (t), Raja Bell (fa), Gordon Hayward (d), Jeremy Evans (d)

Lost: Kyle Korver (CHI), Carlos Boozer (CHI), Wesley Matthews (POR)

The Jazz are in transition this year after losing two of their core contributors from the past few years in Kyle Korver and Carlos Boozer. However they actively looked to improve everything they lost, with Al Jefferson, Raja Bell and rookie Gordon Hayward. Each could make up exactly for the player they are replacing, but there is experience and health questions that must be answered too.

Phoenix Suns-Grade: C

Retained: Channing Frye

Additions: Hedo Turkoglu (t), Josh Childress (t), Hakim Warrick (fa), Gani Lawal (d), Dwayne Collins (d)

Lost: Amar’e Stoudemire (NY), Leandro Barbosa (TOR), Dwayne Jones (TOR)

Phoenix changed their approach after the departures of Amar’e Stoudemire. Instead of replacing him with a similar presence, they changed the approach to a shooter based team, adding in Hedo Turkglo and Josh Childress. Not Amar’e with similar size could make them sorely susceptible to the big frontcourts in the West.

San Antonio Spurs-Grade: C

Retained: Richard Jefferson, Matt Bonner

Additions: Tiago Splitter (d-2007), James Anderson (d), Ryan Richards (d), Gary Neal (fa)

Lost: Ian Mahinimi (DAL)

San Antonio is a study in opposites this offseason. They retained Richard Jefferson for four more years at $10 million per, after he made minimal impact on the Spurs efforts to start to change their attack last year. Finally adding 2007 draft pick Tiago Splitter to the team will make it easier for Tim Duncan to decrease his load, without damaging the team.

Denver Nuggets-Grade: C-

Retained: Antony Carter

Additions: Al Harrington (fa)

Lost: Linas Kleiza (TOR), Johan Petro (NJ)

Denver wasn’t overly active in many roster changes and didn’t add any draft picks to their team. However, they did add Al Harrington to their frontcourt, which will make the minutes load easier for the injury prone Nene and Kenyon Martin, but could add some chemistry issues, due to his desire to shoot at a high level.

Sacramento Kings-Grade: D

Retained: No FAs returned

Additions: Samuel Dalembert (t), Darnell Jackson (t), DeMarcus Cousins (d), Hassan Whiteside (d)

Lost: Spencer Hawes (PHI), Andres Nocioni (PHI), Jon Brockman (MIL), Dominic McGuire (CHA)

The Kings made the smart pick in selecting center DeMarcus Cousins at #5 overall in this summer’s draft, but didn’t add much else to a team that has needs around the court. With new acquisition Samuel Dalembert also suiting up at center, they are more than set around the rim. Now for everything else…..Tyreke Evans can only do so much.

2010 Rookie of the Year Evans can only go so far without more help.

Los Angeles Clippers-Grade: D

Retained: Craig Smith, Rasual Butler

Additions: Randy Foye (fa), Ryan Gomes (fa), Al-Farouq Aminu (d), Eric Bledsoe (d), Willie Warren (d)

Lost: Steve Blake (LAL), Drew Gooden (MIL), Travis Outlaw (NJ)

The Clippers mistakenly thought they could compete in the LeBron derby for a while, but ended up with Randy Foye and Ryan Gomes, which is much more tradition Clipper fare. They did well in the Draft, landing Al-Farouq Aminu to add athleticism and Eric Bledsoe to develop into the point guard of the future, but they won’t have the immediate effect that should have been worked for this summer. Blake Griffin’s return is very critical for any improvement here.

New Orleans Hornets-Grade: F

Retained: Aaron Gray

Additions: Craig Brackens (d), Quincy Pondexter (d)

Lost: Morris Peterson (OKC)

While he didn’t go about it the right way, Chris Paul may have been on to something about the future in New Orleans, or lack thereof. They made no significant additions to the team and moved out original first round pick Cole Aldrich before the first round was over. Due to Paul’s time injured last year, this team was not able to live up to their potential of year’s past however and still could make a playoff push with their franchise player back full-time with what they have currently.