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Revisiting the Final 08 Draft Board

As part of our ongoing effort for quality control here at Hoopus I thought it would be an interesting idea to revisit last year's final draft board to see where we went wrong (and right) with our college player rankings.  After all, the way this season is going (even of late), one of the most interesting parts of the year will still be wondering who the Wolves will select in the 09 draft.  Let's take a look at our top 10 players to watch from 07/08:

  1. Michael Beasley
  2. Kevin Love
  3. Derrick Rose
  4. Brook Lopez
  5. Joe Alexander
  6. Marreese Speights
  7. Mario Chalmers
  8. O.J. Mayo
  9. D.J. White
  10. Chris Douglas-Roberts

All in all, I think we batted about .777 (D.J. White is out for the year following jaw surgery) with our top picks being able to play well in the NBA.  CDR is getting very little burn (with poor numbers) in Jersey and Joe Alexander is doing much the same in Milwaukee.  The rest of the players are all shaping up to be solid NBA contributors.  I will add this to the ongoing Mayo/Love trade debate: the real issue is not Mayo v. Love but Foye v. Mayo and Love v. Lopez.  At one point during last off-season, the Wolves were staring at a Mark Madsen, Al Jefferson, Antoine Walker front line.  Brook Lopez is to Kevin Love what Brandon Roy (and O.J. Mayo) is to Randy Foye. 

That being said, let's move on to our buyer beware picks:

  1. Jerryd Bayless
  2. Eric Gordon
  3. Anthony Randolph
  4. Russell Westbrook
  5. Donte Greene
  6. Deandre Jordan
  7. D.J. Augustin
  8. Kosta Koufos
  9. Robin Lopez
  10. Bill Walker

Bayless is doing very little in Portland and is 3rd on the Blazers PG depth chart. Gordon is having a ho-hum year on a terrible Clippers squad.  Randolph is in Nelly's doghouse and apparently can't shoot from beyond 8 feet.  Greene is buried on the Kings' bench.  Jordan is a waste of nearly 7 feet of space.  Robin Lopez is averaging about 10 mpg coming off the bench in Phoenix, and Bill Walker is in the D-League.  I think the only clear screw-ups on my part here is Westbrook.  I don't follow the Thunder enough to tell you why, but he is performing like a #4 pick.  The jury is still out on Augustin and Koufos.  Koufos has the talent to be a versitile big and Augustin is playing point on a crappy team.  They are both playing like rookies with solid upside.  I suppose you could add Gordon to this list as well. 

I'd like to point out a few things from the original article:

Outside of Rose, who went nuts during the tourney and the last few games of the regular season, guards like Bayless and Gordon are especially underwhelming.  I'm going to predict that Bayless will be viewed as one of the biggest busts in recent top draft memory and will be a bench player within 2 years.  Mayo is a bit better than Bayless/Gordon/Westbrook but he, like Rose, benefits a bit from coming on late.  Unlike Rose, who showed he could operate at a potentially elite level, Mayo's ceiling is more of a subdivision than a high rise.  When all is said and done about his game, I highly suspect that he will be viewed as the jump-shooting, turnover prone, low ppr, low fta, solid defending guard that he is.  Instead of my original projection of him having a Billups/Payton-like ceiling, I think his absolute high end is in the area of Steve Francis and Joe Jackson.  We're talking about a guy who shoots a lot of jumpers and will get paid an amount that doesn't necessarily match up with the value he brings to the bottom line of wins and losses.  18/4/4 is the sort of top-end production you can expect out of Mayo...or Randy Foye.

I still view Mayo as a limited player more or less in the mold of Randy Foye.  He could be better but he's hardly the A-one-plus scoring option that many fans think they are missing with the juice down in Memphis.  (Note: While some readers think my recent column comparing Mayo to Ben Gordon was a politically motivated defense of the Love/Mayo trade, it was actually brought about after re-reading the above paragraph about Mayo's ceiling.)  Bayless has also proved to be underwhelming.  It's obviously early in his career but he hasn't done anything yet. 

Moving on, here's my take on Chalmers and the 2nd round picks:

That being said, if the Wolves want a lead guard, Mario Chalmers is there for the taking and he may even be worth more in the mid-teens than any other player in the draft.  Hoopus commenter Jianfu has been on the Chalmers bandwagon for a long time and I have to credit him (or her?) for turning me on to the Jayhawk guard.  Chalmers is legit and if I'm going to believe my ranking system, I have no idea how he's not in the conversation for top guards in this draft; especially when compared to Gordon, Bayless, or Westbrook.  If you're a lottery team not named the Bulls and you are looking for a point, you don't need to move up to get the best one available after Rose. 

If the Wolves are unable to move their 2nd round picks, they should have some solid big man options at the top of the 2nd round.  Ryan Anderson may be sitting there for the taking, as could DJ White, and Joey Dorsey.  While I'm kind of disappointed that David Padgett didn't grade out as highly as I thought he would, even he would be a more realistic option than bust-bombs like Javele McGee or Deandre Jordan, especially at that point in the draft.

Here's my take on how the Wolves should have used their top pick:

Short of Beasley, they need to end up with Love, Lopez, Speights, or Alexander by making a trade down no further than 8th.  Ideally, they would find a way to move both their 2nd round picks for a mid 1st as well as Shaddy/Foye + a contract and the Celtic pick for another mid 1st.  I have been saying it for a while: this is a great draft to have 3 picks and they should take advantage of players like Chalmers, CDR, and (if they have him graded correctly) Ajinca being available in the teens.

And a note on the ranking system:

As for the actual ranking of the players: I am in no way, shape, or form suggesting that a player like DJ White be selected with the 9th overall pick.  What I am suggesting is that his college stats suggest that he has a pretty damn good chance to turn into a top-10 rookie in his 1st year and that he would provide a wonderful value for whoever took him in the late 1st/early 2nd as his talent and numbers clearly outpaced his placement in numerous mock drafts.  The opposite can be said about a player like OJ Mayo, whose perceived value greatly exceeds his actual performance and the way in which he could provide value to a team, say, with the 3rd pick, is to find a willing trading partner who wholeheartedly believes the hype and is willing to trade down (+ additional assets) to get their hands on the 6'4" combo guard from USC.

Getting around to the point of this post, my draft board had some hits and misses.  The Wolves were obviously in the market for a front court player and they had to choose between Love, Lopez, Alexander, and Speights.  There is also the question of value for the pick.  I think the Wolves got good value with their #3 pick.  I appear to be completely wrong about Alexander, but Lopez and Speights could have provided excellent value had the Wolves been able to make a trade down to acquire these players.  I stick by my call on the 4 players Minnesota needed to walk away with.

I've made a few changes to my ranking system this year and I'll start running the numbers near the end of the college season.  As of now, here's how our 2009 draft board stands:

  1. James Harden
  2. Stephen Curry
  3. Danny Green
  4. Tyreke Evans
  5. Nick Calathes
  6. Dark horses: Earl Clark and Tyler Hansborough.

    The next 5: Blake Griffin, Chase Budinger, Hasheem Thabeet, Patrick Mills, and Cole Aldrich.

Actually, that's not completely true.  I need to make a few updates to the board.  I've left  Ricky Rubio and Brandon Jennings out of the mix because I don't know how to evaluate Euro talent.  Here's my updated list:

  1. James Harden
  2. Blake Griffin
  3. Earl Clark
  4. Evan Turner
  5. Hasheem Thabeet

Dark horses: Tyler Hansborough and Tyler Smith

The next 5: Danny Green, Nick Calathes, Cole Aldrich, Stephen Curry, Ty Lawson

Internationals to watch: Rubio, Jennings, Victor Claver.

I've finally given in on the Thabeet angle.  This draft is so thin that he may be the only option depending on where the Wolves end up drafting.  Here's hoping Jennings and Rubio enter and are good.  You may also notice that I've completely removed Stephen Curry from my top 5.  This year's draft board is going to rely a bit more on a personal take than last year's edition.  Last year I just looked at stats and ignored some of the things that my eyes were telling me.  So, this year I will weigh personal opinion a bit more into the mix, and after watching what Purdue did to Curry I have removed him from the top of the list.

Anywho, I just wanted to go over last year's picks so that our readers can see where we went wrong and right before we start getting hot and heavy into this year's draft.  I think we have a pretty decent track record so far.   What do you think we got right?  What did we mess up on?  What can we do better?

Until later.