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Wednesday July 5, 2006 12:59 am

NBA Draft Grades: Atlantic Division

Posted by Dennis Velasco Categories: Drafts, Editorial, NBA,

Unlike what he just did, Renaldo Balkman is NOT a slam dunkI know what you’re thinking - “What the hell took you so long to get these NBA Draft grades out?”  Well, I’ve been so immersed with watching the World Cup (and, yeah, I know I haven’t been writing about that either, but I find myself enjoying it way too much, I’m “spent” as Austin Powers used to say, to write about it; don’t worry, I’ll do up a Finals preview), being in TWO heated fantasy baseball matchups with archrivals, and doing several fantasy football mocks, I just had to put the old orange roundball on the side for a minute.  But, don’t worry, I’m on top of it like Zach Braff on any chick he was fortunate enough to be on top of… Natalie Portman?  Mandy Moore?  How’d that happen?!?!?! 

Well, at least, Braff didn’t draft Renaldo Balkman.

Who They Ended Up With: PG Rajon Rondo, PF Leon Powe, PG Sebastian Telfair (via trade), PF/C Theo Ratliff (via trade), PF Brian Grant (via trade)
Comments: At first, I liked the trade to get Telfair from the Portland Trailblazers because as good as Delonte West was, he’s not really a point.  I was really excited thinking of how West would flourish even more from the two spot as he didn’t have to worry about creating for his teammates anymore.  But then the Celtics drafted Rajon Rondo, another point guard.  They definitely are stocking up on PGs for Allen Iverson.  Hopefully, the deal gets done for the Celtics or they’ll look dumb.  But, getting Leon Powe was a great value pick.  Too bad he’ll probably be coming off the bench.  However if Ryan Gomes can come out of nowhere, so can Powe.
Final Grade: Incomplete, depending on what happens with AI.

Who They Ended Up With: PG Marcus Williams, PF/C Josh Boone, SG Hassan Adams
Comments: Man, were the Nets lucky sons of biznitches or what?  Williams was pretty much ranked as the number one point guard in the draft and he falls all the way to number 22 because of conditioning questions, as well as that stealing of laptops incident last year.  Okay, I understand.  But, Williams is as gritty as they come, can find the open man, and is a clutch performer.  Learning behind Jason Kidd will only help Williams become the Black Steve Nash (how funny does that sound?).  Nash sat behind Kidd back in Nash’s first go-around with the Suns and look at him now.  Boone will be good, eventually, as he’s just too talented not to succeed.  He just needs to play with a little more fire.  Understand, I’ve followed Hassan Adams since his high school days and I love him as a player, but in Jersey with Richard Jefferson and Vince Carter, I’m not sure if he’ll stick.
Final Grade: A

Who They Ended Up With: SF/PF Renaldo Balkman, PG/SG Mardy Collins
Comments: ISIAH THOMAS STINKS!  Man, being a Knicks fan sure is a hard thing to be.  Renaldo Balkman?  RENALDO BALKMAN?!?!?!  The Knicks needed a true point guard and Williams was there to be had, but instead they took Balkman who had a good NIT Championship game being named MVP, but the Knicks did the equivalent of paying Jerome James huge money for a one series with the Seattle Supersonics.  At first, I was stunned when the pick was made (and apparently so was Spike Lee).  Then I got to ruminate on it.  And I got angry.  I’m still baffled.  Collins will find himself stuck on the bench as the Knicks are loaded at the guard position.
Final Grade: F, without a doubt

Who They Ended Up With: SF Rodney Carney, SF/PF Edin Bavcic, SF Bobby Jones
Comments: I liked Rodney Carney better when he was known as Andre Igoudala.  Seriously, did the Sixers need another Igoudala-type player - athletic, jump out of the gym, great in transition?  Well, I guess the difference is that Carney has some semblance of a jumper and that he plays zero defense on most nights.
Final Grade: C

Who They Ended Up With: PF/C Andrea Bargnani, SF/PF P.J. Tucker
Comments: Bargnani is either the next Dirk Nowitzki, which would be great for the Raptors and its fans… OR… the next Vladimir Radmanovic, a big that’s all about shooting the rock from the outside.  Either way, Bargnani reminds me of Sloth from The Goonies.  Bargnani is still so young, but seeing some tape of him, I think he’ll be able to go down in the box and board and bang as well as rain jumpers from the perimeter.  Luckily, he’ll have a great point guard, T.J. Ford, who’ll find him when he’s open.  Also, some of the defensive pressure will be lifted off of him with Chris Bosh on the floor.  If Tucker gets the playing time, maybe at the three with Charlie Villanueva traded, he’ll bring fire every time he steps on the court.  He’s a little undersized, but can board like he’s a lot bigger.
Final Grade: B

More division draft grades to come.

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