Kings score well in NBA draft grades

4:56 AM, Jun 29, 2012   |    comments
  • Share
  • Print
  • - A A A +
  • FILED UNDER

USA TODAY Sports evaluated and doled out grades for each team's performance in the NBA draft, from best to worst:

Golden State Warriors: A

With the No. 7 selection, the Warriors took North Carolina small forward Harrison Barnes, addressing a need at the position while simultaneously taking the best available player. At No. 30, the Warriors picked up Vanderbilt center Festus Ezeli, adding depth behind Andrew Bogut, who is coming off ankle surgery. They finished with Michigan State power forward Draymond Green at No. 35 and Georgian forward Ognjen Kuzmic, who they'll keep overseas, at No. 52. That's three potential rotation players, all with great value at their spots, and a guy to watch in two or three years. 

Oklahoma City Thunder: A

With the 28th pick, the Thunder added Baylor's Perry Jones III, who can play either forward position and enters a no-pressure situation in Oklahoma City. He was easily the best player available, even as he had been medically red-flagged entering the draft for a knee injury. The rich get richer.

Memphis Grizzlies: A-

They took Tony Wroten Jr. with the 25th pick, and his upside is enormous for a late first-rounder. The Washington guard could replace free agent O.J. Mayo in the rotation, but his natural position is shooting guard. The Grizzlies had no major needs, and they arguably landed the best player available. 

Phoenix Suns: A-

Much of their rotation hits free agency, so general manager Lance Blanks said they would take the best available player with their lone pick. Whether Steve Nash departs this season or some point in the future, Kendall Marshall, chosen 13th out of North Carolina, is capable of replacing him. Marshall was the best passer in the draft.

Sacramento Kings: A-

Few teams were less efficient in the post than the Kings, who chose Thomas Robinson of Kansas, who led the nation with 27 double-doubles. The Kings need a defensive boost Robinson might not provide, but he was a great value at No. 5. They traded the No. 36 pick to the Indiana Pacers for cash, which drops the grade from an A to an A-minus.

Utah Jazz: A-

The Jazz added point guard Mo Williams in a three-team trade to give them a backup for Devin Harris. Williams should be a good addition to a rotation in need of scoring and ballhandling. The trade basically cost the Jazz cap space and nothing else. Then, they landed one of the highest-value picks of the second round in Tennessee Tech shooting guard Kevin Murphy at No. 47.

Atlanta Hawks: B+

The Hawks picked 23rd and landed the best shooter in the draft, John Jenkins of Vanderbilt. Jenkins should be an instant contributor. They followed that up with Virginia forward Mike Scott, a workhorse who is too small to contribute much in the NBA, at 43rd overall.

Charlotte Bobcats: B+

The Bobcats have needs all over, which you'd expect from the worst team in NBA history. But they drafted two nearly identical small forwards, Kentucky's Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (second) and Vanderbilt's Jeff Taylor (31st). Kidd-Gilchrist has drawn comparisons to Scottie Pippen and Shawn Marion, and Taylor could be a rotation player. But neither give the Bobcats sorely needed scoring or inside punch.

Chicago Bulls: B+

Preparing to play without Derrick Rose, the 2010-11 NBA MVP, for part of next season, the Bulls added depth at point guard with Kentucky's Marquis Teague. He may be the fastest player in the draft and can play off the ball, too. But like many young point guards, he needs to improve his jump shot, particularly if he will fit next to Rose.

Dallas Mavericks: B+

The Mavericks pulled off a seemingly brilliant trade, sending the No. 17 pick to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Nos. 24, 33 and 34. But they then used those two of those picks strangely, taking Oregon State guard Jared Cunningham (No. 24) and Marquette forward Jae Crowder (34) about 10 spots too early each. They made up for it with the selection of Florida State center Bernard James, an Air Force veteran who can instantly contribute inside. They also got rid of Lamar Odom for a trade exception and saved some cap space in a three-team trade.

Denver Nuggets: B+

They are comfortable with their rotation and added depth with No. 20 pick Evan Fournier, a 19-year-old wing who averaged 14 points for Poitiers in the top French league. They used later picks on oversized forwards Quincy Miller of Baylor (38th) and Izzet Turkyilmaz of Turkey (50th) rather than get insurance for point guard Andre Miller or center JaVale McGee, both free agents. But McGee, at least, should be back, and Miller and Turkyilmaz have potential.

Detroit Pistons: B+

Connecticut center Andre Drummond, picked ninth, needs time to develop, but he eventually could form one of the best post duos in the NBA with budding star Greg Monroe. Drummond has as much potential as anyone but Anthony Davis in this draft, but he's also had questions about his effort level. Texas A&M forward Khris Middleton, picked 39th, and Missouri guard Kim English, 44th, probably won't make the roster.

Los Angeles Clippers:B+

The Clippers had a quiet draft night, taking long-term project Furkan Aldemir, a Turkish forward, at No. 53. But they've agreed to terms in a trade that sends Mo Williams, a mostly extraneous piece, to the Jazz and gets them veteran forward Lamar Odom from the Mavericks. That would address a need for depth.

New Orleans Hornets: B+

You can't go wrong when you get far-and-away the best player in the draft, as the Hornets did with top pick Anthony Davis of Kentucky. They used the 10th pick to take Austin Rivers of Duke, a talented player who really will struggle to play next to Eric Gordon. They're both undersized shooting guards, and the plan would be to have Rivers play the point, which he struggled at in college. Davis' teammate, Darius Miller, was a very underwhelming 46th pick.

Philadelphia 76ers: B+

Maurice Harkless, the St. John's small forward they picked 15th, could be a nice long-term fit, but there were more polished products still on the board who could have helped a team capable of winning now. Still, they made up for it by trading a future first-rounder and the No. 45 pick to the Miami Heat for Arnett Moultrie, the No. 27 pick. He could start for the Sixers at center.

San Antonio Spurs: B+

The Spurs had one pick, the 59th, and selected a good college player who could maybe make the roster in Missouri guard Marcus Denmon. Nothing to see here.

Houston Rockets: B

They traded Chase Budinger before the draft but filled that hole with Connecticut shooting guard Jeremy Lamb at No. 12. Then they took two very similar forwards, Iowa State's Royce White and Kentucky's Terrence Jones, 16th and 18th. White and Jones have tremendous potential but dealt with off-court issues in college. The likelihood is they'll move one of them.

Los Angeles Lakers: B

The Lakers went into the draft with only the 60th pick in hand, which they used on Gonzaga center Robert Sacre, who is 7-foot and has some skills. They also bought the Mavericks' 55th pick, Marquette guard Darius Johnson-Odom, who is one of the draft's toughest players and best athletes but lacks skill and height. But you can't fault a team for drafting two potential roster players at 55th and 60th.

New York Knicks: B

The Knicks picked for the future, taking forward Kostas Papanikolaou from Greece at No. 48. He has a nice all-around game and better-than-average range on his jump shot. By No. 48, the best steals of the second round were off the board, and Papanikolaou could have long-term value. The fans didn't like it, but do they ever?

Milwaukee Bucks: B-

It's possible they will lose forward Ersan Ilyasova in free agency, so they took North Carolina forward John Henson at No. 14. Henson is a great shot-blocker and defender and has an offensive skill set in the low post and mid-range. But there were better values at the spot, and even without Ilyasova, the team needs help at center more than power forward. On the other hand, Kentucky guard Doron Lamb may be the steal of the second round.

Orlando Magic: B-

New GM Rob Hennigan walked into a tough situation, not knowing if point guard Jameer Nelson will be back or what exactly to do about center Dwight Howard, who could be traded any day. They took St. Bonaventure power forward Andrew Nicholson, who is strong in the low post and has range on his jump shot, 19th, then added No. 39 pick Kyle O'Quinn, a center from Norfolk State. Neither can replace Howard, but they can both lend a helping hand.

Toronto Raptors: B-

Washington guard Terrence Ross was a low-risk pick, but there were better wings available at No. 8. Baylor forward Quincy Acy, picked 37th has athleticism and energy that could make him a valuable contributor off the bench. Croatian forward Tomislav Zubcic, 56th, was a stowaway project who likely will never play in the NBA. Overall, a ho-hum draft that gets a ho-hum grade.

Washington Wizards: B-

At No. 3, they got Florida shooting guard Bradley Beal, a three-point threat who can spread the court to allow point guard John Wall to operate. Beal is an underrated defender and strong rebounder for his size, but he needs to improve his consistency. The grade drops slightly because they took Czech guard Tomas Satoransky with the No. 32, a high spot for a player who still needs a lot of work and lacks a position.

Boston Celtics: C+

The Celtics made one really good pick, one really bad pick and one solid but unremarkable pick. Ohio State forward Jared Sullinger, picked 21st, could be a starter next to Kevin Garnett down low. Syracuse center Fab Melo, 22nd, probably will never be more than a big body and five fouls. And Syracuse forward Kris Joseph, 51st, could make the roster but won't do much else.

Indiana Pacers: C+

Retired team president Larry Bird stuck around to help with the draft, and depth at any position was the main goal for a team with a set starting five. They needed a good backup center with size and picked one up in Miles Plumlee at No. 26, but there were numerous better options at the position still available. But the Pacers got a steal when they bought UC Santa Barbara guard Orlando Johnson, the No. 36 pick, from the Sacramento Kings.

Minnesota Timberwolves: C+

They traded the No. 18 pick for Chase Budinger, but there were better players available with the pick. We gave them the plus for drafting Purdue forward Robbie Hummel, a great college player who was dealt numerous knee injuries but has a great back story and a lot of talent, with their lone pick, the No. 58 selection.

Portland Trail Blazers: C

The Blazers drafted for need, which isn't a great idea when you've got two lottery picks. Weber State point guard Damian Lillard, the sixth pick, should start right away as the Raymond Felton experiment comes to an end. And 7-1 Meyers Leonard will fill a void at center when he's ready to contribute. But neither has much upside compared to many of the players on the board when they were taken. Their 40th pick of Will Barton, a guard from Memphis, was unimpressive as well.

Brooklyn Nets: C-

The Nets are moving to a new town in a new arena, and they began the draft with only one pick, the 57th. But they bought two, the 41st from the Portland Trail Blazers and the 54th from the Philadelphia 76ers. They took Kansas point guard Tyshawn Taylor first, then foreign forwards Tornike Shengelia and Ilkan Karaman with the other two. The latter pair aren't likely to come to the USA soon, and Taylor makes a lot of poor decisions. The Nets have a ton of holes, even at the back of the roster, and could have found players to fill them with those picks. Instead, they stocked away to save money.

Miami Heat: C-

Since putting the Big 3 together, the Heat have lacked height. But instead of keeping Mississippi State forward/center Arnett Moultrie, a steal at No. 27, they sent him to the Philadelphia 76ers for the 45th pick and a future first-rounder. Then the defending champions took LSU center Justin Hamilton, who isn't any upgrade at all and may not make the rotation.

Cleveland Cavaliers: D+

The Cavaliers landed two good players in Syracuse guard Dion Waiters and North Carolina center Tyler Zeller, but they overpaid horrendously. Waiters was the first stunner of the draft when Cleveland took him fourth, ahead of several players who would have been better fits and better talents. Zeller, picked 17th, should be a perfect fit but came at the cost of the 24th, 33rd and 34th picks in a trade with the Dallas Mavericks. The Cavaliers had too many holes to fill to give up so many picks for an injury prone center.

By Jeff Zillgitt, Robert Klemko and Adi Joseph

USA Today

Most Watched Videos