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July 1, 2007

NBA Draft Grades: Southwest Division

Rivals.com has partnered with NBA Draft expert Jonathan Givony and his staff at DraftExpress.com to analyze the results of Thursday's draft. Givony hands out grades for each team, and we have grouped them by division. Below, please find the grades for the Southwest Division.

This report card was based off three things:

I: How well the team satisfied its needs or filled gaps on the roster with the hand they were dealt.
II: How much value teams received from the picks they had.
III: Subjective opinions on the player(s) they landed 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.
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.
C: The team had an average draft, not great - but also did not embarrass 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 angry.

Southwest Division:
Dallas Mavericks | Houston Rockets | Memphis Grizzlies | New Orleans Hornets | San Antonio Spurs

Dallas Mavericks
Draft Grade: A
The Mavericks had very few needs coming into this draft, but still did a nice job with the three picks they had at their disposal. At No. 34, they took a superb shooting big man who should be able to step in for Austin Croshere and back up Dirk Nowitzki immediately. Fazekas isn't quite quick enough to create his own shot, but on this team there will be plenty of opportunities to space the floor and have shots created for him. If he can translate some of the rebounding numbers he produced in college, he will have a long and excellent NBA career.

At No. 50, Dallas took a flyer on an international player that they can stash in Europe for the next few years. To top things off, Mark Cuban opened up his wallet and let Donnie Nelson purchase a very athletic small forward with a Carolina pedigree. Terry has first-round potential and was available in the middle of round two. Terry will be just about as good as he wants to be, and the Mavericks have the tools at their disposal to help him get there.

Rd
Sel#
Player
Pos
School/Organization
2.
34.
Nick Fazekas
F
Nevada
2.
44.
Reyshawn Terry (from Orlando)
F
North Carolina
2.
50.
Renaldas Seibutis
G
Akasvayu Girona, Spain

Houston Rockets
Draft Grade: D
First off, this pick reeks of a trade because it obviously makes very little sense. The Rockets have three capable point guards on their roster already in Rafer Alston, Mike James and John Lucas, so it's not quite clear where Brooks fits. If the Rockets end up trading this pick on July 15 (maybe to Sacramento in a package for Ron Artest?), then ignore this grade and analysis altogether.

If they took Brooks with the intention of keeping him, though, then we're pretty stumped. Brooks is a player who clearly could have been had in the second round. He also doesn't fill any kind of need for a team that has to win right now. The Rockets don't have any power forwards on their roster at the moment (Chuck Hayes is a free agent), and there were a few players here that could have had value at this slot. Nick Fazekas, Josh McRoberts, Glen Davis, and especially Tiago Splitter come to mind. When Splitter comes over to San Antonio next year and starts contributing big minutes right away, people in Houston will be upset for passing on him.

Daryl Morey has been criticized for only being a "Moneyball" or "stat guy" by various sources, but Brooks doesn't grade out particularly well on the sabermetrics scales. Carl Landry on the other hand, does. Landry also fills a bit of the void we spoke about at the power forward position, even though he can't do it by himself. Landry comes game-ready, though, at age 23. That is good, considering how much they'll need him if they don't make a big move in free agency. Still, it's hard not to come away thinking that the Rockets reached once again here.

Rd
Sel#
Player
Pos
School/Organization
1.
26.
Aaron Brooks
G
Oregon
2.
31.
Carl Landry (from Seattle)
F
Purdue
2.
54.
Brad Newley[/db]
G
Australia

Memphis Grizzlies
Draft Grade: A
Great point guards are usually drafted high, and incoming GM Chris Wallace made the right move taking Conley here. Some will say that Conley's stock would have never been this high if it weren't for the miracle shot Ron Lewis hit in the first round of the NCAA Tournament against Xavier. That is probably true, but that would be ignoring the fabulous season Conley had manning the point for the national runners-up in his freshman year. His poise, athleticism and intangibles - coupled with his terrific production - lead us to believe that Conley's ceiling is high enough to warrant being picked here. Conley has a fantastic assist-to-turnover ratio and an impressive field-goal percentage. We're not sure how Pau Gasol will feel, but in a few years this will look like a very good pick.
Rd
Sel#
Player
Pos
School/Organization
1.
3.
Mike Conley Jr.
PG
Ohio State

New Orleans Hornets
Draft Grade: C
Wright had solid value at No. 13 and gives the Hornets some versatility to go small and run if they please. He brings rebounding, passing, energy and a big upside to continue to improve - as well as insurance against Peja Stojakovic's injury problems. Whether he achieves that upside will largely depend on how hard he works on expanding his shooting range. The Hornets really needed a shooting guard here, but obviously weren't enamored with Nick Young. They'll have to go out and fill their needs in free agency instead. Haluska might end up getting minutes for them, even though he almost certainly would have gone undrafted had he not been taken here.
Rd
Sel#
Player
Pos
School/Organization
1.
13.
Julian Wright
F
Kansas
2.
43.
Adam Haluska (from Miami)
G
Iowa

San Antonio Spurs
Draft Grade: A+
The rich get richer once again. The best team in the league lands possibly the most NBA-ready player in the draft all the way down at No. 28. That almost shouldn't be allowed. The reason this happened is because most teams preferred to draft backups who will play 10 minutes a game at most next year rather than wait another season for some real help. But that's why the Spurs are the Spurs, and everyone else is everyone else.

At No. 33, the Spurs again got some solid value in Marcus Williams. He was considered a lottery pick for much of the year before his stock dropped from working out poorly and for the wrong teams (He went to Washington, selecting No. 16, the day before the draft). Williams isn't quite the defender or perimeter shooter the Spurs covet on the wing (see Michael Finley and Bruce Bowen), but he does have the upside to improve in those areas. He will have to restructure his shooting mechanics to reach his full potential, though.

With the No. 58 pick, the Spurs pulled off yet another shrewd trade like they do practically every year (the reason why they were drafting at No. 33 this time). The Spurs flipped a late second-rounder for Toronto's 2008 second-round pick. Considering how weak of a crop this was for International players this year, there is certain to be more value to be found in 2008.

Rd
Sel#
Player
Pos
School/Organization
1.
28.
Tiago Splitter
C
TAU Vitoria
2.
33.
Marcus Williams
F
Arizona



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