Blog Entry

2011 NBA Draft Team Grades

Posted on: June 24, 2011 3:10 am
Edited on: June 24, 2011 4:01 pm
Posted by Matt Moore and Ben Golliver

Here are our team-by-team grades for the 2011 NBA Draft. Listed are team, most notable player, and grade. You can tell us what you think grades should be at our Facebook page. .

Atlanta Hawks: Keith Benson. Grade: B-. Benson has some upside and it was just a second round pick. Good value for position.

Boston Celtics: JaJuan Johnson, E'Twaun Moore. Grade: B. Celtics needed a big, they got a big. They needed a guard. They got one. And they wound up taking guys with polish, both from Purdue, who were both underrated and are capable of being competent role players down the line. Yup, sounds like the Celtics of the last few years. 

Charlotte Bobcats: Bismack Biyombo, Kemba Walker. Grade: A+. A savvy GM knows his team's lot in life. Rich Cho, just weeks on the job, launched a full-scale rebuild by shuttling out Stephen Jackson and adding an extra lottery pick, securing the draft's best defensive prospect and a fan-friendly, dynamic point guard who has a definite shot of making it big at the NBA level. There are plenty more moves in Charlotte's future, but this was a great start.

Chicago Bulls: Nikola Mirotic. Grade: C. The Bulls knew they wouldn't get their improvement at the end of the first round, and didn't try. They traded for a stash and pulled in a 6-7 shooting guard in Jimmy Butler, who's worth a shot. Want not, waste not, I suppose.

Cleveland Cavaliers: Kyrie Irving, Tristan Thompson. Grade: A. Taking Irving with the first pick gave the franchise a new face, but the selection of Thompson, which was largely unexpected, showed that GM Chris Grant has the guts, vision and power to rebuild a roster his way. Thompson is an excellent two-way player who was a solid find amidst all the Euro hype.

Dallas Mavericks:
none. Grade: I. The Mavericks drafted Rudy Fernandez. So that's pretty good, I guess, but we're still not going to grade them on this "draft." Not that they needed a draft. What with being the champs and Dirk being "that dude" and all.

Denver Nuggets: Kenneth Faried, Jordan Hamilton. Grade: A-. Faried may wind up as nothing more than another high-energy, rebounding bench player who gives you ten minutes of solid defense a night. In this draft, that's great value for where they selected. Faried can't score, but he doesn't have to with the kind of talent he's surrounded by. Denver's a good fit for him. Hamilton is highway robbery. They surrendered Felton, who they neither needed nor wanted, and got back Andre Miller AND Hamilton, who bizarrely slid down the draft. Hamilton can do the work of Wilson Chandler should he depart in free agency. He's long with range and, next to Danilo Galinari, he makes the Nuggets look freakishly athletic. Great draft for Masai Ujiri.

Detroit Pistons: Brandon Knight. Grade A. Knight might not be as ready to lead a team as he thinks he is, but his raw intelligence, overall skillset and upside make him arguably the best value pick of the first round.

Golden State Warriors: Klay Thompson. Grade: B+. Thompson doesn't really address a positional need per se, but he does bring a different -- bigger and longer -- look to the Warriors backcourt. He was clearly their target and will allow a Monta Ellis trade to develop at its own pace. Thompson has sneaky upside. Could he be a star?

Houston Rockets: Marcus Morris, Donatas Motiejunas. Grade: B. Daryl Morey needed to hit a home run, which he didn't do. But he hit a stand-up double by getting a big body, excellent value in his Euro-stash and earns bonus points for getting out of Brad Miller's deal while taking a reasonable risk on a fresh start for Jonny Flynn. Losing a future first-round pick in the process turns this from A- or B+ into a B. Still very clever work.

Indiana Pacers:
No first round picks (traded Kawhi Leonard to Spurs). Grade: B+. This was a sneaky good night for the Pacers. I'm high on George Hill's potential when it's his show to run, and a sliding Kawhi Leonard -- the best player left on the board -- was going to be extraneous in Indiana. 

Los Angeles Clippers: Trey Thompkins. Grade: B. Thompkins slid all the way to the Clippers in the second round. Decent value pick even if it's definitely not a position of need for them. After all, they do have this guy named Griffin.

Los Angeles Lakers: Darius Morris. Grade: A. Even when the Lakers barely try, with all of their picks in the second round, they win. Morris somehow made his way to them and he's one of the better guards offensively in the middle to late part of the draft. The rich get richer, really. Their other picks are mostly just excuses to not pay someone. 

Memphis Grizzlies: Josh Selby. Grade: A-. Selby has great length, outside shooting range, and is a misfit. Perfect for Memphis. Even with Xavier Henry's struggles last year, this was a great pick for where the Grizzlies got him.

Miami Heat: Norris Cole. Grade: B-. Cole has a pulse. Therefore, he is better than half the players who played point guard for Miami this season.

Milwaukee Bucks (from Charlottte): Tobias Harris. Grade: B+. The Bucks cleared cap space and moved down and still managed to snag Harris. It creates a bit of a problem with Carlos Delfino but it's still great talent for where they landed, especially since they added Stephen Jackson.

Minnesota Timberwolves: Derrick Williams. Grade: B. Williams was the best player on the board and a no-brainer, although you always have to wonder when the Timberwolves are on the clock. His fit on Minnesota's roster isn't perfect, but it's not terrible, especially if David Kahn can find a way to ship out Michael Beasley for future assets. Malcolm Lee might be the wing defender they need.

New Jersey Nets:
Marshon Brooks. Grade: B-. The Nets managed a pretty good haul with Brooks hanging around until late when some thought he could go in the mid-teens. And, it's a position of need for them. Jordan Williams has some potential. Not bad for what they had to work with.

New Orleans Hornets: None. Grade: I. Incomplete, Hornets drafted one player then sold him. The end. 

New York Knicks: Iman Shumpert. Grade: B-. Come on, they were taking a guard, they were always taking a guard, they had to take a guard and there was no way to get Jimmer. From there this was unavoidable. Sure, Marshon Brooks would have been entertaining, but they needed someone who could at least play combo guard. Shumpert plays defense and has athleticism. The rest is up to D'Antoni.

Oklahoma City Thunder: Reggie Jackson. Grade: B-. Jackson is a good value pick. The knock will be that he didn't fill a need for the Thunder ... but look at their roster. Who are you going to take minutes away from to give to a rookie? No one. So this pick didn't matter and they still got value from it. 

Orlando Magic: DeAndre Liggins. Grade: B. Pretty talented guy for a team to pick up that late.

Philadelphia 76ers: Nikola Vucevic. Grade: C+. The Sixers needed size. They would have taken any big that was available here and Vucevic was the best available at 6-10. Taking Motiejunas would have been a bigger gamble and at least Vucevic has work ethic. He has no athleticism, none to speak of, and is, in a lot of ways, Spencer Hawes. But there's no point in creating a logjam for yourself just to avoid drafting for need. The Sixers could have done worse for how their roster is constructed. Lavoy Allen will not be joining us next year. 

Phoenix Suns: Markieff Morris. Grade: B-. The Suns went against the grain in terms of which Morris twin was expected to go first, and Markieff brings a physical presence that is currently lacking. He's probably the better fit. The Suns addressed a position, but did they put themselves back on a positive trajectory? Seems like they're facing the same problems as a franchise that they were yesterday.

Portland Trail Blazers:
Nolan Smith. Grade: C. Smith would have been there four to seven picks later if they wanted to trade down. They didn't address needs elsewhere and, while reshaping the backcourt was a priority, there were better guards than Smith to acquire here. A reach pick on top of a disappointing trade night for the Blazers. 

Sacramento Kings:
Jimmer Fredette. Grade: D. The Kings fell in love with a big name, found themselves on the bad end of a big three-team deal and generally continued their pattern of directionless instability. Kings fans suffered through a tough year to get to draft night and almost certainly leave feeling disappointed. 

San Antonio Spurs: Kawhi Leonard. Grade: A-. Huge steal for the Spurs who give up George Hill but get a lottery-quality pick plus Davis Bertans has a lot of potential and is just the kind of guy the Spurs can wait on. Leonard will be an impact player immediately, the rare combination for the Spurs of youth, athleticism, and polish. He gives them a player to help ease the transition and possibly make one more run. Yet another reminder of how good R.C. Buford and company are at this gig. 

Toronto Raptors: Jonas Valanciunas. Grade: I. Well, Bryan Colangelo certainly sticks to his guns, doesn't he? Vegas considered Toronto to be the least likely team to win the 2012 NBA title and that was before they blew a top five pick on a player with a buyout issue that will keep him from the NBA for at least a year. The Raptors addressed their biggest need -- the five spot -- but they needed lots of help now, and didn't get it.
Utah Jazz: Enes Kanter, Alec Burks. Grade: B+. The Jazz arguably came away with the best center and best two guard in the draft. The moves signaled that Utah is ready for a quick turnaround rather than a slash-and-burn style tear down. Kanter has considerable hype to live up to and Burks will need to work on his range, but the Jazz addressed major issues and provided hope, even if they didn't land cult hero Jimmer Fredette.

Washington Wizards: Jan Vesely, Chris Singleton. Grade: A+. The Wizards got two of the best steals of the draft. Vesely will bring aggression and athleticism. Singleton, defense and versatility. They knocked this out of the park. 

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Category: NBA

Since: Jun 26, 2011
Posted on: June 26, 2011 12:07 am

2011 NBA Draft Team Grades

OK i didnt have an account here but I joined just to talk to you.... Do you really think Pop is the most overrated coach in the leauge? Yeah he might have a good player in Tim Duncan but that has not given him automatic success! Phil Jackson is the most overrated coach EVER and thats why he retired now before Kobe begins to go downhill. and what do you mean by "WHICH IS IT?" everything he said made sense and nothing was conflicting!!

Since: Oct 6, 2006
Posted on: June 25, 2011 11:52 am

2011 NBA Draft Team Grades

I think you are being too hard on the Bulls.  I give them an Incomplete.  We will know in a few years if it was a good draft or not.  The European player would have been a lottery pick if he didn't have a 4 year contract with Europes top team.  If he comes in a few years and replaces Boozer for much cheaper it will be a win.  The other pick is more questionable, but I think what will happen is he will replace Brewer and they will use Brewer as part of a package to trade for a SG which is what they really need.  If they can pick up a decent SG by freeing up Brewer and not having two additional guaranteed contracts then it will be a win, so this draft could be anywhere from an A to a D depending on how things play out.

Since: Jan 15, 2008
Posted on: June 25, 2011 11:03 am

2011 NBA Draft Team Grades

You've obviously never watched Deron Williams play.

Since: Jan 15, 2008
Posted on: June 25, 2011 11:00 am

2011 NBA Draft Team Grades

KNICKS - First off, the KNICKS should receive an F-. Leaving Singleton on the board for the WIZARDS to take was a big mistake. But kudos to the WIZARDS on their A+.

KINGS - My other problem is giving the KINGS a "D." I'm not a KINGS fan but they added a point guard (Jimmer) with a giant ceiling. Yes, Jimmer could fall short but It's a weak draft and why not take the risk? When you think about a starting lineup for the Kings you're looking at Jimmer, Evans, And Salmons could move up to a tweener at the Small Forward position. Some teams could score on that frequently, but they could score on any team just as much with those three on top. 
I give the KINGS a B+ at least.

BOBCATS - I give them a B-. Yes they drafted the best players on the board. But not the best fit for the team. They had better hope Kemba blooms into a star fast.

CAVS - I give the Cavs a C+. Yeah they took a bold move taking Thompson at 4. But they should have taken Williams number one. He is the more ready player for the NBA, and he actually played a decent amount of games last year. Irving would be a better suit if they get rid of Davis, now.

Since: Jun 24, 2011
Posted on: June 24, 2011 5:32 pm

2011 NBA Draft Team Grades

Talk about grading on a curve.  One D and no F in a weak draft.  Must be trying to make all the viewers happy.  

Let's translate - Sacramento you got an F, what were you thinking?
Chicago, I love you - and you guys got a D.  Hey - you were picking at the end - so be it
Miami, naw that's really a C-, you have 3 incredibily great guys, a bunch of medocre ones and this new guy will be sitting all year...done

I could go on


Since: Apr 23, 2010
Posted on: June 24, 2011 4:41 pm

2011 NBA Draft Team Grades

This guy says the exact opposite from the guy who did the grades last night. He did a much better job grading the teams today.

Since: May 31, 2011
Posted on: June 24, 2011 4:33 pm

2011 NBA Draft Team Grades

So let me get this straight...Kawhi Leonard...excuse me a "SLIDING, Kawhi Leonard" would have been "extraneous" in Indiana...but, traded to San Antonio he is a "HUGE STEAL" and an "IMPACT PLAYER IMMEDIATELY, a "RARE COMBINATION OF YOUTH, ATHLETICISM, and POLISH! A PLAYER TO HELP EASE THE TRANSITION AND POSSIBLY MAKE ONE MORE RUN???"

So...WHICH IS IT?   OH, a tip to the most OVERRATED COACH IN THE NBA...When Duncan retires...follow him right out the door "POP"s" without him the Emperor has NO CLOTHES!!!

Gary Holt   

Since: Oct 7, 2010
Posted on: June 24, 2011 4:29 pm

2011 NBA Draft Team Grades

I agree with JPC 123 that this was a bad draft, most like likely due to the fact of the lockout looming in the near future, and that these guys might not get the money. And the Kings did what they could do to try to put a hustle on their fan base by drafting Jimmer in hopes to sell tickets. the rest of the article seemed to talk about all the other guys in the league and their contracts and trades not what real talents got drafted, if their is any. It also seemed to me that I really didn't see alot of the underclass men jump in like i have seen in years past but hey this is an oppinion not a doctorate program. As to the Bobcats I watched Kemba in the Big East turney, and through March madness gotta tell ya, I'm thinking he's gonna fit in better than Jimmer. He passed when he saw he needed to, and he took the shot when he needed to. He directed what Calhoun wrote on offense and thats what makes the kid a player and not a Iverson, who's gone. James, when he tried to play like that he still looked like an #$% and a child stomping his feet. And more like a vetran player like what the Mavericks have in Dirk and Kidd. Last but not least Cho must see something in Biyombo like he saw in Ibaka which i think it took him 2 years to make an impact. All in all cho and the Bobcats derserve an A+ due to the curve in the scale that I see. This is why I'm keeping my day job and not going into sports journalism.

Since: Sep 6, 2006
Posted on: June 24, 2011 4:16 pm

2011 NBA Draft Team Grades


I like the idea of Knight and Williams. I really think Knight is the best player in the draft. Irving might eventually be Chris Paul, but I think Knight could end up being Deron Williams with more athleticism. 

Since: Nov 15, 2006
Posted on: June 24, 2011 3:47 pm

2011 NBA Draft Team Grades

Sorry, but I have to give these two sportswriters a D for their assessments. Some of it was okay in their defense, but the majority of it brought laughter in my office. The most glaring offenses were Charlotte's and LA Laker assessments. Experts from the NBA are all in agreement that these two were franchise embarrassments. On the other hand,  I think they got Sacramento right - Jimmer, while a big-time scorer and a really nice kid is going to a place that won't want him to take too many shots.  I also think that Cleveland missed a chance to take Derrick Williams first and then get Brandon Knight at 4.  Knight and Williams versus Irving and Thomas, hmm. Just a thought. Peace.

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