The Sports Report

A Statistical Take on Sports and Politics

2008 NBA Draft Recap and Early Projections: Part Three

Western Conference – Northwest Division

Utah (54-28, #4 in conference and lost in six games in the Conference Semifinals)
The #23 selection in the draft (Kosta Koufos out of Ohio State)
The #44 selection in the draft (Ante Tomic out of Croatia)
The #53 selection in the draft (Tadija Dragicevic out of Serbia)

Star contributors on the team in 2008-2009 are projected to be PG Deron Williams, SG Ronnie Brewer, SF Andrei Kirilenko, PF Carlos Boozer, C Mehmut Okur, SF Kyle Korver and PF Paul Millsap. SG C.J. Miles is a restricted free agent.

Report Card: Utah is stockpiling on their European big men, as the addition of Koufos (Greek, 7-1), Tomic (7-2), and Dragicevic (6-9) to their already strong core of Kirilenko (6-9), and Okur (6-11) gives them the most international frontcourt in the NBA. Not like that really matters, unless the front office was just hoping, and praying one would turn out to be as successful as Cavaliers center Zydrunas Ilgauskas (chances are unlikely.) Utah had a great year last year as the trade for Korver helped them make an end of season surge to become the #4 seed. Brewer, and Millsap continue to get better, and the duo of Williams, and Boozer is up there for one of the best in the NBA. Projection: #1 in Northwest Division, #3 in West, between 53-57 wins.

Denver (50-32, #8 in conference and lost in four games in the first round)

The #39 selection in the draft from Chicago (Sonny Weems out of Alabama)
A future, protected first round pick from Charlotte
Traded away the #20 selection in the draft, Alexis Aijnca out of France, to Charlotte and their future, protected first round pick and traded away their second round pick in 2009 to Chicago for Weems.

Star contributors on the team in 2008-2009 are projected to be PG Allen Iverson, SF Carmelo Anthony, PF Kenyon Martin, C Marcus Camby, SF Linas Kleiza and PF Nene. Key unrestricted free agents include PG Anthony Carter, SG Yakhouba Diawara, and SF Eduardo Najera, while SG J.R. Smith is a restricted free agent, and SG Bobby Jones and PG Taurean Green have limited salary protection.

Report Card: I still do not understand how a team with so much talent did so miserable last season. Not like 50 wins, and a first-round exit to the eventual Conference Champions is that bad of a season, but you would normally expect a higher placement within the conference from the trio of Iverson, Anthony, and Camby. Their first need in the off-season is to re-sign J.R. Smith, their only promising young talent on their roster, and hope for the best. In a conference with a handful of up-and-coming teams (Portland, LA Clippers, and Minnesota) vying to make the playoffs in 2008-2009, it is hard to see this old team beating them out, despite all of the past success. Projection: #3 in Northwest Division, #10 in West, between 39-43 wins.

Portland (41-41, #10 in conference and nine games out of the playoffs)

The #11 selection in the draft from Indiana (Jerryd Bayless out of Arizona)
The #25 selection in the draft
from Houston (Nicolas Batum out of France)
F Ike Diogu from Indiana
LA Clippers’ second round pick in 2009
Two future second round picks from Chicago

Traded away the #13 selection in the draft, Brandon Rush out of Kansas, along with PG Jarrett Jack and F Josh McRoberts, to Indiana for Diogu and Bayless. Traded away the #55 selection in the draft, Mike Taylor out of the NBDL/Idaho State to the LA Clippers for their second round pick in 2009. Traded away the #27 selection in the draft, Darrell Arthur out of Kansas, and the #33 selection in the draft, Joey Dorsey out of Memphis, to Houston for Batum. Traded away the #36 selection in the draft, Omer Asik out of Turkey, to Chicago for two future second round picks, and traded away cash considerations to New Orleans to begin a series of trades involving Darrell Arthur.

Star contributors on the team in 2008-2009 are projected to be PG Steve Blake, SG Brandon Roy, SF Martell Webster, PF LaMarcus Aldridge, C Greg Oden, SF Travis Outlaw and C Joel Przybilla. Key unrestricted free agents include PF James Jones and SG Von Wafer.

Report Card: The Atlanta Hawks of the Western Conference failed to make the playoffs because average just doesn’t cut it anywhere but the East. Portland will get Greg Oden back in 2008-2009, and along with their trades for Bayless, and Batum, they add another handful of young weapons to an already potent lineup. Roy, and Aldridge have already developed into some of the best young players in the NBA, and adding first-round talent rookies (Oden included) will be just enough to propel this team into their first year of the playoffs in a long time. I think Diogu as well will be a nice frontcourt addition to a team that might need it, especially if efficient James Jones heads out of town. Projection: #2 in Northwest Division, #6 in West, between 45-49 wins.

Minnesota (22-60, T-#13 in conference and twenty-eight games out of the playoffs)

The #5 selection in the draft from Memphis (Kevin Love out of UCLA)
The #31 selection in the draft (Nikola Pekovic out of Serbia)
SF Mike Miller from Memphis
PF Brian Cardinal from Memphis
C Jason Collins from Memphis
Miami’s two second round picks in 2009
Traded away the #3 selection in the draft, O.J. Mayo out of USC, along with PG Marko Jaric, F Antoine Walker and SF Greg Buckner to Memphis for Love, Miller, Cardinal and Collins. Traded away the #34 selection in the draft, Mario Chalmers out of Kansas, to Miami for their two second round picks in 2009.

Star contributors on the team in 2008-2009 are projected to be PG Randy Foye, SG Rashad McCants, SF Mike Miller, PF Kevin Love, C Al Jefferson, SG Rashad McCants and SF Corey Brewer. Key unrestricted free agents include C Michael Doleac, SG Kirk Snyder and PG Sebastian Telfair, while SF Ryan Gomes, PF Craig Smith and C Chris Richard are restricted free agents.

Report Card: I still do not comprehend the trade that Minnesota and Memphis pulled off on draft night, as it seems to give a complete unfair advantage to the Timberwolves. After trading away Garnett last season, everyone knew that Minnesota would be in rebuilding mode. But after acquiring Mike Miller, and the most fundamentally sound prospect in years in Kevin Love, Minnesota might only be a year or two away from making the playoffs. They will need to keep some young guys around on the bench such as Gomes, and Smith, but I think they still will have a chance to win 15 more games this season. Projection: #4 in Northwest Division, #11 in West, between 35-39 wins.

Seattle/Oklahoma City (20-62, #15 in conference and thirty games out of the playoffs)

The #4 selection in the draft (Russell Westbrook out of UCLA)
The #24 selection in the draft (Serge Ibaka out of the Republic of the Congo)
The #29 selection in the draft from Detroit (D.J. White out of Indiana)
The #50 selection in the draft (DeVon Hardin out of California)
Cash considerations from Cleveland
Traded away the #32 selection in the draft, Walter Sharpe out of UAB, and the #46 selection in the draft, Trent Plaisted out of BYU, to Detroit for White. Traded away the #56 selection in the draft, Sasha Kaun out of Kansas, to Cleveland for cash considerations.

Star contributors on the team in 2008-2009 are projected to be PG Russell Westbrook, PG Earl Watson, PG Luke Ridnour, SF Kevin Durant, PF Jeff Green, PF Nick Collison, and PF Chris Wilcox. Key unrestricted free agents include SF Ronald Dupree, C Francisco Elson, and SG Mickael Gelabale, while C Robert Swift is a restricted free agent, and SF Adrian Griffin has limited salary protection.

Report Card: As a statistician, I hate Durant, I hate Green, and I hate Westbrook. Any other reason why I shouldn’t have Seattle/Oklahoma City towards the bottom of the Western Conference? Their first-round selections puzzle me more than Atlanta’s did a few years back. With a trio of solid, but not great point guards in Westbrook, Watson, and Ridnour, Seattle is clearly on the brink of making a trade. They currently have no shooting guards on roster, and their best chance at a center is unrestricted free agent Elson. Wilcox, and Collison are two solid, above average power forwards, but they might be the most efficient players on a roster that has no team players. Projection: #5 in Northwest Division, #14 in West, between 25-29 wins.

Western Conference – Pacific Division

LA Lakers (57-25, #1 in conference and lost in five games in the NBA Finals)

The #58 selection in the draft (Joe Crawford out of Kentucky)

Star contributors on the team in 2008-2009 are projected to be PG Jordan Farmar, SG Kobe Bryant, SF Lamar Odom, PF Pau Gasol, C Andrew Bynum, PG Derek Fisher, SF Luke Walton and PF Vladimir Radmanovic. Key unrestricted free agents include C DJ Mbenga and SF Ira Newble, while C Ronny Turiaf and SG Sasha Vujacic are restricted free agents and SG Coby Karl has limited salary protection.

Report Card: How can this team not be the top team in the NBA this coming season? By my rulings, Kobe Bryant may not be the most valuable player in the NBA, but the trio of Odom, Gasol, and Bynum makes him look pretty damn good. With these three sub-stars healthy, L.A. will be scary good in the Western Conference. Bynum was a top fifteen NBA player last year when healthy, Odom had a comeback year, and became one of the top forty players, while Gasol has consistently been in the top twenty-five. Add in the young talents of Farmar, Walton, and Vujacic (I hate him so much, but L.A. will need to resign him), and you have the best team in the league. Projection: #1 in Pacific Division, #1 in West, between 58-62.

Phoenix (55-27, #6 in conference and lost in five games in the first round)

The #15 selection in the draft (Robin Lopez out of Stanford)
The #45 selection in the draft from San Antonio (Goran Dragic out of Slovenia)
Traded away the #48 selection in the draft, Malik Hairston out of Oregon, along with a future second round pick, and cash considerations to San Antonio for Dragic.
Star contributors on the team in 2008-2009 are projected to be PG Steve Nash, SG Leandro Barbosa, SF Grant Hill, PF Boris Diaw, C Amare Stoudamire, SG Raja Bell and C Shaquille O’Neal. Key unrestricted free agents include SG Gordan Giricek, SF Linton Johnson, C Sean Marks, SF Eric Piatkowski, and C Brian Skinner, while SG D.J. Strawberry has limited salary protection.

Report Card: Steve Nash is no longer a youngster (turned 34 in February), and this team was not very good after they made the trade for Shaquille O’Neal (turned 36 in March) towards the end of last season. Amare Stoudamire is the best player on this team, and it would be smart for Phoenix to actually play him superstar minutes (33.9 minutes per game last season.) Bell, Barbosa, and Diaw are quality players in the NBA, but without MVP-caliber Steve Nash, and the matrix Shawn Marion, these Suns will not be among the top teams in the Western Conference. Robin Lopez is a defensive prospect, and is certainly not as polished offensively as his brother Brook. Look for him to be a solid rotational player down the road, and a nice backup for Stoudamire. Projection: #2 in Pacific Division, #7 in West, between 43-47 wins.

Golden State (48-34, #9 in conference and two games out of the playoffs)

The #13 selection in the draft (Anthony Randolph out of LSU)
The #49 selection in the draft (Richard Hendrix out of Alabama)

Star contributors on the team in 2008-2009 are projected to be SG Marco Belinelli, SF Stephen Jackson, PF Al Harrington and PF Brandan Wright. Key unrestricted free agents include PF Matt Barnes, PF Austin Croshere, PG Baron Davis (agreed to terms with the LA Clippers), C Patrick O’Bryant, and SF Mickael Pietrus, while SG Kelenna Azubuike, C Andris Biedrins, and SG Monta Ellis are restricted free agents, and G C.J. Watson has limited salary protection.

Report Card: Baron Davis is projected to sign with the LA Clippers, and the Warriors are having serious problems bringing anyone else in to replace the perennial All-Star. Without their catalyst Davis, it is tough to see this team anywhere near where they were the last two seasons, in having a record over .500, and being either the #8 or #9 seed in the West. Even if the Warriors do manage to bring in a player like Atlanta Hawks forward Josh Smith, I think that Portland, LA Clippers, Denver and Minnesota will be better. The end of Nellie-ball is just starting to appear over in Oakland. Projection: #4 in Pacific Division, #12 in West, between 33-37 wins.

Sacramento (38-44, #11 in conference and twelve games out of the playoffs)

The #12 selection in the draft (Jason Thompson out of Rider)
The #42 selection in the draft (Sean Singletary out of Virginia)
The #43 selection in the draft (Patrick Ewing Jr. out of Georgetown)

Star contributors on the team in 2008-2009 are projected to be PG Beno Udrih, SG Kevin Martin, SF Ron Artest, PF Mikki Moore, C Brad Miller, SG John Salmons, and SF Francisco Garcia. Key unrestricted free agents include PG Beno Udrih (agreed to terms with Sacramento), PG Anthony Johnson, and C Lorenzen Wright.

Report Card: I really do feel for Kevin Martin, who is clearly one of the most underrated players currently playing in the NBA. The 25-year-old out of Western Carolina (and born in Zainesville, Ohio,) is one of the most prolific scorers in the league, putting up 31.24 points per 48 minutes (sixth best in the NBA last season.) Unfortunately for him, however, the Maloofs are putting no talent around him. Ron Artest is bickering about choosing to extend his player option, and any starting lineup that includes Mikki Moore is certainly not going to be contending for the playoffs. The selection of Jason Thompson in the first round was a definite stretch by all accounts, but he should be a solid pro. No upside on this team, and there are just too many average talents around to see them even doing what they did last year. Projection: #5 in Pacific Division, #13 in West, between 27-31 wins.

LA Clippers (23-59, #12 in conference and twenty-seven games out of the playoffs)

The #7 selection in the draft (Eric Gordon out of Indiana)
The #35 selection in the draft (DeAndre Jordan out of Texas A&M)
The #55 selection in the draft from Portland (Mike Taylor out of NBDL/Idaho State)
Traded away their second round pick in 2009 to Portland for Taylor.

Star contributors on the team in 2008-2009 are projected to be PG Baron Davis (expected to be signed away from Golden State), SG Cuttino Mobley, SF Al Thornton, PF Tim Thomas, C Chris Kaman, and SG Eric Gordon. Key unrestricted free agents include PF Elton Brand, C Paul Davis, PG Dan Dickau, PG Shaun Livingston, SF Corey Maggette, SG Smush Parker, and SG Quinton Ross, while PF Nick Fazekas, and F Marcus Williams are restricted free agents, and PF Josh Powell has limited salary protection.

Report Card: As long as the Clippers can resign Elton Brand, and actually sign Baron Davis away from Golden State, they will be back in the playoff contention. It was only two years ago now when the Clippers finished the season with 47 wins, and made the playoffs with the fifth best record in the Western Conference advancing to the Conference Semifinals. Taking away Davis from Golden State clearly makes them better than the Warriors, and they are not that old in comparison to Dallas, or Denver. Meanwhile, the collection of Kaman, Thomas, Mobley, and rookie Gordon will be enough to complement the stars in Davis, and Brand. This is a nice looking team, and if they can get improved production, and solid health from guys like Livingston, and Thornton, they could be a threat deep in the playoffs as well. Projection: #3 in Pacific Division, #8 in West, between 42-46 wins.

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July 8, 2008 - Posted by | NBA Draft | , , ,

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