2006 NBA Draft Report Card (Part One: 1-10)

2006 NBA Draft Report Card (Part One: 1-10)
Jun 30, 2006, 04:14 am
While it’s WAY too early to evaluate how well teams made out in this draft, we’ll attempt to take an early shot at grading the draft based on what we know now and what we heard and saw from covering the draft over the past few months.

This report card was based off three things:

I: How well did the team in question satisfy their personal needs or fill the gaps they have on their roster with the hand they were dealt.
II: How much value teams got from the picks they had.
III: Subjective opinions on the player they got and how well they fit with the team’s style of play, the direction they are headed and what we know about the organization.

Draft Grades Methodology:

A: The team probably could not have done any better considering the situation they were in.
B: The team did well in filling their needs, getting fair value from their pick and getting a prospect that fits their system and the direction the franchise is heading in.
C: The team had an average draft, not knocking anyone’s socks off, but also not embarrassing their fans.
D: The team should have done a better job with the picks they made.
F: The team did a terrible job and their fans have every reason to be mad about the picks they made or didn’t make.


#1 Toronto Raptors

Picks: Andrea Bargnani (1); PJ Tucker (35); Edin Bavcic (#56) [traded to Philadelphia for cash]


Picking Bargnani was a risky move that very few GMs in the NBA would have had the guts to make, and for that alone Colangelo should be saluted. It’s too early to gauge whether it was the right one or not at this point; that will mostly depend on the new coach and playing style that Bryan Colangelo inevitably brings in, how quickly Bargnani will be able to adapt to the playing style of the NBA, and how good of a job Toronto does in developing him into the player we all know he has the potential to develop into.

What’s odd is how Colangelo went about making this pick. There is a feeling that he wanted to prepare the fans and media so much for making this risky pick (as opposed to what happened last year with Charlie Villanueva) that he may have pigeon-holed himself into keeping the #1 overall pick rather than being able to explore alternative trade options to move down a bit further to pick up a valuable asset or two and still get the player he wanted. On what turned out to be possibly the most unpredictable draft of all time, the #1 pick was the only thing that we knew was definitely going to happen as we got closer to 7:35 PM. Whether he could have moved down and gotten a Jarrett Jack or improved Toronto’s cap situation for next year and beyond is certainly up for debate, but that was never going to be an option with the way things played out.

PJ Tucker is a tough-nosed mismatch threat who was always going to be a good pick once the 2nd round rolled around, although it will be up to him to develop a more polished perimeter game to ensure that he can stay in the league. If the Raptors indeed start playing a more wide-open Phoenix Suns type style of offense, Tucker could be a valuable contributor off the bench. He certainly won’t hurt them, as his toughness and work ethic should make him a fan favorite with the departure of Matt Bonner.

After drafting PJ Tucker and Andrea Bargnani, as well as with the imminent signing of Jorge Garbajosa, the Raptors’ roster is composed of no less than 8 perimeter oriented forwards, with only backups Jose Manuel Calderon and Rasho Nesterovic as their lone guard and center amongst likely returnees and contributors. More trades should be expected on the horizon to balance out their lineup, with a true point guard and shooting guard considered the biggest unmet needs still left to fill.

#2 Chicago Bulls

Picks: Tyrus Thomas (4), [acquired from the Trail Blazers with Viktor Khryapa]; Thabo Sefolosha (13) [acquired from the 76ers]


The Tyrus Thomas pick is one we’ll be able to judge starting three years from now, not on draft night. Like with Bargnani, there are too many variables involved for any self-respecting analyst to accurately predict while keeping a straight face. It’s my opinion that LaMarcus Aldridge is both the better prospect and the better fit for what the Bulls need both and in the future, but only time will tell on that one. They needed size and scoring in the post, and Aldridge grades out better on those fronts while still possessing a considerable upside to continue to improve. John Paxson has a stellar record in the draft since taking over as GM of Chicago, though, so there is still plenty to be excited about when it comes to Thomas. We’ll have to see how long it takes for him to pan out, because Chicago seems to be ready to make a move on the East starting next year.

It’s tough for us not to like the Thabo Sefolosha pick since we’ve had him slated to be drafted by the Bulls with this pick for months now, even when he was considered an undraftable player or a 2nd round prospect at best by most NBA teams we spoke to and every other draft analyst out there. Sefolosha is underrated no longer and the Bulls have targeted him for quite some time as the big athletic guard they need to help move Kirk Hinrich back to defending point guards. He fits Scott Skiles’ philosophy in everything regarding defense, attitude, work ethic and especially his excellent demeanor on and off the court, and should thrive doing all the little things the Bulls will ask him to do.

Charlotte Bobcats

Picks: Picks: Adam Morrison (3); Ryan Hollins (50)


The Bobcats made out with what is certainly the best player in the draft right now, as well as possibly the best player down the road as well. Adam Morrison fills their needs perfectly on the wing with his scoring ability and should be a perfect compliment to Gerald Wallace’s versatility to defend either swing position equally well. Morrison’s winning attitude, work ethic and incredibly high skill level will be well appreciated by Charlotte’s staff, so it’s really difficult to see how they could have made out any better here.

Getting anything out of the #50 pick in what appears to be a fairly shallow draft depth-wise would be great, and Ryan Hollins certainly has all the tools to develop into a contributor after some seasoning in the NBDL. Whether that will happen after an underwhelming college career is up for debate, but there is no risk in taking a freakishly long and athletic 7-footer where they did in the draft.

Charlotte has made almost all the right moves over the past few years in terms of the group they’ve assembled at the moment, and could be ready to finally splurge on a free agent or two to add some depth and experience to help make a playoff run.

#4 Portland Trailblazers

Picks: LaMarcus Aldridge (2); Brandon Roy (6); Sergio Rodriguez (27); Joel Freeland (30)


Anytime you manage to come away with two players who very well could have went #1 and #2 overall in a draft while not giving up that much in return, you’ve done quite well. The Blazers knew who and what they had targeted going into the draft, and they made sure they got exactly that. It was not only inspiring to see the Blazers made trade after trade to ensure they secured the players they wanted; it was incredibly entertaining as well.

Taking on the ugly contract of Raef Lafrentz certainly isn’t pretty for the bottom line for a franchise that is trying to be sold, but considering the circumstances involved, it needed to be done. When you consider the equally shaky status of Theo Ratliff’s knees and the fact that he has just one less year on his contract than Lafrentz, it’s a move that makes quite a bit more sense.

Continuing with the trend of talent, character, and an abundance of upside, we find another potential steal at the #27 pick with Sergio Rodriguez. Acquiring a player of his caliber that late was a huge coup for Portland, as he’ll develop into a very solid backup point guard at the very least. The jury is still out on Joel Freeland and whether he’ll ever make it in the NBA, but considering the roster crunch involved with all the picks the Blazers already made, it’s a move that makes quite a bit of sense. Portland got two future 2nd rounders from Indiana for the #31 pick and then picked up another one from Memphis for the player they got at #45 to go along with the future 2nd rounder they picked up earlier in the night from Chicago, further showing how slick Kevin Pritchard and Steve Patterson are when working under pressure. The highlight of the night for me personally was seeing Portland single handedly destroy a trade the Timberwolves and Rockets had in place (#6-Brandon Roy, for Luther Head and #8-Randy Foye) by forcing Minnesota’s hand and taking Foye a pick early at #7. That ensured that the Timberwolves had to trade arguably the 2nd best player in the draft to the Blazers for Foye and cash considerations, a move that was entirely lost on ESPN at the time but should go down as one of the most ballsy ever.

Despite the ridiculous criticism that was levied on Portland as part of the embarrassing draft night coverage provided by ESPN, the Trailblazers had a fantastic night and had every right to call it a “homerun.”

#5 Atlanta Hawks

Picks: Shelden Williams (5); Solomon Jones (33)


The only thing saving the Hawks from getting an F for this draft was the fact that they actually got two players who fill a definite need.

Had the Hawks gone into draft night and made their pick independently without telegraphing it to the entire world more than a month in advance this might have made some more sense, but there is absolutely no logic in guaranteeing a player at #5 who is going to be on the board every single time even if the draft is redone a thousand times over. The Hawks had a chance to redeem themselves by executing a trade with the Rockets and landing Luther Head and Shelden Williams at #8 rather than reaching badly the way they did, but they were not willing to take the risk due to the fact that they were woefully unprepared (and undoubtedly scared of the wrath Williams’ super-agent Arn Tellem) for what might have happened in the unlikely scenario that Minnesota’s bluff to take Williams would have been called.

Not working out Williams and only beginning to conduct private workouts two weeks before the draft is a move bordering on negligence that cannot be made by a GM like Billy Knight that should be on the hotseat. The Hawks did not do their homework in regards to the #33 pick in this aspect either.

Make no mistake, us moving up Solomon Jones 15 spots to the #33 pick on the day of the draft wasn’t a coincidence either, that was yet another move that was telegraphed to us and in turn every other team in the NBA.

Atlanta is a franchise that hasn’t made the playoffs in god-knows how long, and with the amateur way they’ve been run over the past few years, most likely won’t make it there anytime soon if their front office has anything to say about it.

#6 Minnesota Timberwolves

Picks: Randy Foye (7); Craig Smith (36); Loukas Mavrokefalidis (57)


Being outmuscled by the Portland Trailblazers should be embarrassing enough, but you have to wonder why in the world they gave up Brandon Roy for so little? The Timberwolves should have been taking Roy at #6 to begin with, and the drop down to Randy Foye at #7 most definitely should have cost a lot more than just a million dollars. That’s not a knock on Foye, but more an indication of just how lucky Minnesota should have felt to get Roy at #6 with how perfect he fills their needs.

If that wasn’t enough, the Timberwolves took a 6-7 unathletic power forward early in the 2nd round and then traded away a better player in Bobby Jones for a future 2nd round pick. To make up for all their mistakes up until this point, they drafted a Greek robot in the late 2nd round whose game won’t translate to the NBA in a million years.

Considering the hand they were dealt, how poorly they satisfied their needs, the lack of value they got at their picks and the very obvious lack of direction that Kevin McHale and the Minnesota Timberwolves have shown over the past few years, it’s no wonder Kevin Garnett cannot wait to get out of town.

#7 Boston Celtics

Picks: Rajon Rondo (21) [acquired from Phoenix]; Leon Powe (49) [acquired from Denver], also traded the #7 pick and Raef Lafrentz for Sebastian Telfair and Theo Ratliff


This is a tough one to evaluate, but if Danny Ainge didn’t see a point guard he liked at #7, it’s difficult to argue with grabbing a young talent like Sebastian Telfair who most certainly would have went at least this high had he went to Louisville for two years. Rather than developing in the NCAA, Telfair has gotten plenty of playing time as a professional in Portland and is ready to contribute more than any other point guard Ainge could have gotten with the hand he was dealt. Ainge has been in love with Telfair for years now and would have taken him back in 2004 if he could have. He also saved his owner nearly 13 million dollars off of Raef LaFrentz’s contract, which has to make him happy. If Ratliff can somehow find a way to stay healthy, he’ll contribute much more than LaFrentz would have over the next three years.

Another Ainge favorite, Rajon Rondo, was there for the taking at #21 and Boston did what it needed to do to go out and get him. There was some thought that he might take him at #7, so getting him here is pretty tough to argue with unless the pick he gave up turns out to be incredibly good. Rondo has a world of upside to develop and the Celtics do a great job of helping their young players reach their full potential. In the 2nd round the Celtics went out and got Leon Powe, who could become a decent contributor off the bench if he somehow manages to keep his knees in order.

Boston’s draft will be best judged a few years down the road depending on how Telfair in particular pans out, but it’s nice to see the Celtics make the moves they needed to make in order to secure the players they wanted.

#8 Houston Rockets

Picks: Steve Novak (32); Acquired Shane Battier for Stromile Swift and the rights to Rudy Gay


Houston fans that have been watching highlight reel clips of Rudy Gay and dreaming of the potential he may or may not end up reaching in a few years seem to be furious with the decision to trade his rights for Shane Battier, but to me this seems like a very logical move considering the position the Rockets are in.

Houston tried to trade up to get Brandon Roy, but were stopped in their tracks by the Trailblazers at the last moment. Rather than select a player they really didn’t want, the Rockets went out and got the perfect player for Jeff Van Gundy’s system. Battier’s contributions don’t show up on the stat-sheet, but his terrific perimeter defense, timely outside shooting and ability to do all the little things make the Rockets a much more dangerous team. Rudy Gay has the potential to develop into a star player down the road, but he also has just as much potential to flame out and not contribute anything during his rookie contract. With two allstars reaching their prime in Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming, the Rockets didn’t have time to wait for that to maybe happen, so they went for the surefire starter who will guard the opposition’s best perimeter player, get the ball inside to Yao Ming, and knock down open shots that are created for him by his teammates. Stromile Swift was never going to be able to play under Jeff Van Gundy, so cutting their losses and getting out of his contract isn’t the end of the world for Houston.

At #32 the Rockets got another player who will play a valuable role sooner rather than later in Steve Novak. Novak is the perfect player to have next to Yao and McGrady, and should also flourish from the shots they create for him.

The Rockets also went out and secured the rights to a player they covet for down the road in Lior Eliyahu. Whether he pans out or not or maybe even outprices himself out of a rookie NBA contract (like Vassilis Spanoulis) is anyone’s guess, but in the middle of the 2nd round it’s not a bad gamble to make.

#9 Golden State Warriors

Picks: Patrick O'Bryant (9); Kosta Perovic (38)


If we could tell Warriors fans exactly how Patrick O’Bryant is going to pan out we probably wouldn’t be writing this right now, so let’s just cut to the chase and admit that we have no clue. DraftExpress got to watch O’Bryant work out privately once more than Chris Mullin did, and still came away pretty confused overall. What this will really boil down to is just how good O’Bryant wants to be, and whether he’ll continue to work as hard as he has to improve from being a reach for a mid-major school to sign two years ago to a top 10 pick today. You would think the answer to that would be simple, but it really isn’t. Considering how raw he is, if the Warriors finally manage to make the playoffs next year, it probably won’t be because of him. Regardless, O’Bryant has every tool needed to become a very solid NBA center down the road, and it will be up to Golden State’s coaching staff to bring that out of him.

At #38, the Warriors drafted a player who has almost none of the tools needed to become a solid NBA center down the road in Kosta Perovic. Considering the amount of big men Golden State already has on it’s roster, this pick is confusing to say the least.

#10 Seattle Supersonics

Picks: Saer Sene (10); Denham Brown (40); Yotam Halperin (53)


The Sonics felt like they already had a first round caliber swingman coming in in Mickael Gelabale, so they decided to swing for the fences and take Sene.

Sene is a player we’ve seen quite a bit of both on tape as well as at a private workout in Sacramento, but that doesn’t mean we are certain about how he will pan out. He has the tools for sure to go along with the right attitude to want to continue to improve, but he’s so far away from being ready to contribute that it’s almost impossible to tell how this gamble will turn out.

What is certain is that the Sonics really don’t need a 3rd project center on their roster after drafting Johan Petro last year and Robert Swift the year before. You can never have enough size, but at some point, someone needs to be ready to come in and contribute consistently at a high level. With the odd mix of having an aging star in Ray Allen and a talented, but somewhat one dimensional super-scorer in Rashad Lewis that may opt out of his contract and leave for nothing next year, Seattle’s roster is unbalanced and their future is still completely up in the air. Combine that with the mess around potentially leaving the city in a few years due to the fact that their owner refuses to pay for a new arena, and you have to wonder exactly what direction this franchise is heading in.

In the 2nd round the Sonics took two nice prospects that could very well end up being nice role players off the bench in Denham Brown and Yotam Halperin. Halperin has a buyout in his contract, but will not be leaving the States anytime soon unless he is absolutely forced to by the Sonics.

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