Draft 2008: The Northwest Division
The Blazers just may have made them the best team in this division, if not the Western Conference, in this draft. The Timberwolves, on the other hand, made themselves a fun team to watch... for opposing fans. They'll probably give up well over 100 points a game this year. The Sonics took another step closer to making Kevin Durant the next great scorer who never wins anything.
The Good: Sonny Weems makes the roster.
The Bad: Nuggets fans wonder why the front office sold the pick for cash but then refused to spend the cash on JR Smith. It's more of the same for the Nuggets and Iverson decides to sign elsewhere after the season.
My Guess: Weems makes the roster but it's because J.R. Smith gets a full MLE deal from another team and leaves via free agency. The draft has little impact and the Trade Iverson discussions heat up at the trade deadline.
The Good: Kevin Love's all-around skills and tenacity makes him a valuable big man. He can step out and hit the three on offense and is tough enough to handle himself on defense. Nikola Pekovic comes over in a couple of year and proves to be a great big man off of the bench. The group of Love, Jefferson, Randy Foye, and Mike Miller becomes one of the best offenses in the league.
The Bad: OJ Mayo becomes a Deron Williams. Kevin Love becomes Nick Collison. The Wolves score 100 points a game and give up 125 with Corey Brewer being the only person on the team who can play defense.
My Guess: OJ Mayo was a great fit for this team and the Wolves made a huge mistake by giving him up. Kevin Love is a solid player but I don't like him as a complement to Al Jefferson and don't think he'll be anything more than a third star, at the very best. You can't give up a guy who is potentially the best player in the draft for a role player like Love. Mike Miller is a nice player but he's not getting any younger and the Wolves are still a couple years away from being much of anything. Like last year, the Wolves will be good enough to pull of some upsets during the regular season but I don't think they are anywhere close to really competing in the NBA. Pekovic sounds like a better complement to Al Jefferson than Love but he might not come to the US. Cap space is nice and all but I don't see people lining up to play in Minnesota and none of the young talent outside of Jefferson is good enough to bring back a star player.
The Good: Jerryd Bayless becomes a star at the point and the Blazers bumrush the NBA and make the playoffs. Nicholas Batum lives up to his hype and becomes the starting SF in a couple years.
The Bad: Bayless is an inconsistent scoring guard ala Jamal Crawford and struggles to beat out Sergio Rodriguez for playing time at the point. Petteri Kopponen then comes over from Finland and takes the starting spot, relegating Bayless to backup minutes. Batum doesn't beat out Rudy Fernandez, Martell Webster, or Travis Outlaw for minutes and heads back to France after a year. Fans wonder why they gave up Donte Greene (and then Darrell Arthur) for him.
My Guess: I loved the Blazers trade to get Bayless, who I had as the #4 talent in the draft. He is an almost perfect complement to Brandon Roy and should give the Blazers a huge scoring threat and make it impossible for anyone to double team Oden or Aldridge. Donte Greene and Darrell Arthur seemed like better assets than Nicholas Batum but the Blazers could be the best place for the young Frenchman. He won't have much asked of him and can grow into his role. He also looks to be a better perimeter defender than either Arthur or Greene which fills a need.
The Good: Russell Westbrook becomes a lockdown defender and learns to run the offense, making him a perfect complement to Kevin Durant. Serge Ibaka comes over in a couple years as an athletic defensive minded big man off of the bench. Devon Hardin proves to be a legit starting center. DJ White becomes a solid backup big man.
The Bad: Westbrook never improves offensively and has neither the shot nor ball-handling to survive as a starting guard. Ibaka, White, and Hardin can't put it all together and are little more than 18 fouls.
My Guess: I don't like getting someone who's just learning to play point to go alongside Kevin Durant who has, in my opinion, questionable playmaking skills. Westbrook should pan out to be a defensive stopper but it's still probably in the Sonics best interest to move Durant to the 3 and grab a playmaking 2 guard. Westbrook has potential but is a little too reminiscent of the Keyon Dooling/Antonio Daniels types that became career backups. Devon Hardin was a steal where they got him and because of his defense, he could turn out to be the best center on the team (which is sad since the Sonics have spent about 8 first round picks this last decade on big men). I don't think DJ White will amount to much of an NBA player. He'll probably be out of the league before Ibaka ever arrives (if he ever does).
The Good: Kosta Koufos replaces Mehmet Okur (and help make him trade bait). In a couple years, Ante Tomic and Tadija Dragicevic come over to become key role players.
The Bad: Koufos is soft ends up as a permanent resident of Jerry Sloan's doghouse. The Euros don't pan out.
My Guess: Whenever a foreigner is drafted and "just isn't for the NBA", it usually means that they'll never be ready. Most guys who stay over and pan out do so because of contract issues, not talent or tenacity problems which is exactly Tomic's problem. As for the other Euro, if even Chad Ford hasn't heard of a foreign player, I'm not putting much stock in him. As for Koufos, he seems like a bust but now that he's in Utah I'm inking it in that he never amount to anything. A "disinterested" defender who doesn't rebound? Jerry Sloan is going to break this kid worse than MJ did Kwame Brown. The players were probably worth the risks where they were picked but I don't see Utah adding a single player out of this draft.