This week, we'll look back at the last five NBA drafts and assess grades for performance. For all the folks who rip next-day draft grades in June, none of them seem to go back and revisit later. Since we do next-day draft grades here at SBNation.com, we'll go ahead and do the harrumphers' bidding, too.
We begin with ... oh God, no. We begin with ... 2007, and it's really going to hurt to do this, especially given the most recent exploration of the No. 1 pick's psyche. But it's a job that must be done, so ...
What looked like a massive haul turned out to be a nightmare and scrap metal. We all know Oden's story well: a series of injuries befell him, and he's out of the league trying to rebuild himself. When on the court, he was actually quite good, which salvages part of this grade -- without the injuries, he wouldn't have been a bust. But would he have been nearly as good as the player Portland passed up, the three-time scoring champ?
Rudy never really fit and could be headed back to Spain. Koponen still hasn't arrived, McRoberts was a neat reserve for a couple years before bailing, and Green never made an NBA impression. Most of this grade can be attributed to fate. But for a draft harvest that should have been bountiful, this turned out awfully bleak.
The Sonics picked up the best player in the draft with the No. 2 pick. You can't ask for more. The only thing keeping Seattle's work in 2007 from being deemed an A+ is that Green was taken with Joakim Noah on the table. It worked out eventually as Green was flipped for Kendrick Perkins, but a Durant-Noah core bringing in Russell Westbrook in 2008 would have been spectacular.
Horford was an ace pick -- he's possibly the second best player from the 2007 draft, though there have been a myriad of arguments comparing Al to Noah. (I'd give the edge to Horford, but I'm just one guy.) Where Atlanta fell apart is by taking Law in the lottery. This is a famously light draft after the top few players, but with two lottery picks, the Hawks could have made their future for the long-term. Law was a wasted opportunity; he's already a journeyman who has played for five teams. Thaddeus Young, Rodney Stuckey or Aaron Brooks would have worked better there.
Mike Conley (4)
Conley turned out OK; he's one of the league's best ballhawks and a sure handler who isn't close to the league's top point guards, but he is still a solid starter. Even more than that, there's only one pick who came after him who was surely better (Noah). (It's really too bad that Memphis dropped to No. 4 -- they had the worst record that season and the best shot at No. 1.)
As we've noted, the well dried up quickly. Compounding matters, the Bucks already had a defense-first center, 2006 No. 1 pick Andrew Bogut. So Noah didn't make sense. But there were plenty better prospects than Yi, it turns out. Being stuck with Yi is precisely why the Boston Celtics traded out of the lottery, sending their No. 5 pick to Seattle for Ray Allen.
Sessions was a second round win, but didn't actually win anything for Milwaukee as he bounced at his first opportunity as a free agent.
Brewer was an absolute disaster for his first two seasons, began to come around in his third season and ... fell back off the edge of the Earth in 2010-11 before being traded out in the Eddy Curry portion of the Carmelo Anthony trade. (The best part was when analysts rushed to assert Brewer could be key for the Knicks ... and then New York waived him within a week.)
This was Kevin McHale's final draft failure with Minnesota. (He did markedly better in 2008.) Pour one out for old time's sake.
The Bobcats smartly traded out of the No. 8 pick instead of taking Brandan Wright. Again, Noah would have been the right decision here. But Jason Richardson was a nice veteran pick-up. Jared Dudley was a lottery pick in this draft, picked up at No. 22. Hurray on both counts!
Here's where it falls apart: Charlotte eventually needed size instead of J-Rich, so the Bobcats traded Richardson to Phoenix for Boris Diaw. One problem: the 'win' of the 2007 draft, Dudley, was sent off, too. Dudley is currently the only player in that trade anyone actually likes.
The Bulls, who were a playoff team in 2006-07, got the No. 9 choice from the Knicks in a pick swap executed through the Eddy Curry sign-and-trade. Whoops! (The Knicks ended up with the No. 23 pick.) Chicago took the second- or third-best player in the entire draft at No. 9 in Noah. This is why the Bulls are now perennial contenders, and the Knicks are punching fire extinguishers. (Also: Derrick Rose and Tom Thibodeau.)
Spencer Hawes (10)
The Kings' poor 2007 draft was more a result of fate than mistake -- even at the time, reports suggested that Noah would be Sacramento's pick were he on the board. (Compounding this: the Kings reportedly rejected a straight-up Noah-for-Hawes trade after Joakim's eventful rookie season.) Still, when you pick a center with the No. 10 choice and a year later absolutely must pick another big man because your frontcourt is so bad, that's not a successful draft.
Young is one of the top five players from this draft, so that's a big win. But the Sixers needed a bit more out of their second first-round pick; there are a good number of better prospects who were available, and Smith did little for Philadelphia before being spun to New Orleans.
Welp. Wright could have gone top-5 -- he had a lot of fans as a point forward. He is averaging a whopping 2.1 assists per 36 minutes on his disappointing career.
Going into the draft, Thornton was pegged as an older volume scorer who did little else, especially on defense. Five years later, Thornton is pegged as a volume scorer who doesn't even do that well, and who does little else, especially on defense.
Rodney Stuckey (15), Arron Afflalo (27), Sammy Meija (57)
The Pistons picked up two great value picks in Stuckey and Afflalo; unfortunately, Detroit traded Afflalo to Denver in a senseless swap in 2011. (Vernon Macklin!) In a bad draft, Joe Dumars found two starters outside of the lottery. That's worth applause.
Young turned out to be a decent prospect, but in the end, the Wizards flipped him for ... Brian Cook. So ...
NEW JERSEY NETS
Sean Williams (17)
When you have to waive a first-round pick within the first three years of his pro career, that's a bad pick.
The best player to come out of the Warriors' 2007 draft will be whoever Golden State picks with New Jersey's 2012 second-round pick (which came over in the Wright trade last year). The sad part is that Wright and Belinelli actually proved to be a kinda decent players once they left the Warriors. And Golden State has nothing to show for it.
The positive grade is all about Gasol, who never even played a second for the Lakers. But he did make the Gasol brothers trade palatable for Memphis, and the Lakers did win two titles with Pau, so ...
Also, we were treated to a few weeks in which Sun Yue was compared to Magic Johnson. Always fun!
Daequan Cook (21)
Cook is actually a valuable participant in these playoffs ... for Oklahoma City. A designated shooter isn't a bad pick-up at No. 21, but Miami didn't get much out of him in person or by trade.
Getting a legit rotation player this far down in the draft in a bad year is a win. To think, we chided Isiah Thomas for this!
We're in the no-fault zone of the draft now, but there shouldn't be any credit given for Almond, who has never made it. Fesenko, though hilarious, hasn't done much either.
Aaron Brooks (26), Carl Landry (31), Brad Newley (54)
Rotation players at No. 26 and 31? A big ol' A for you. (That both rotation players have since fallen off the face of the Earth should be ignored. They were once awesome.)
SAN ANTONIO SPURS
Tiago Splitter (28), Marcus Williams [the big one] (33)
Splitter took forever to come over, then took forever to develop. Now he's playing 16 minutes a night for a team that's won 18 straight games (eight in the playoffs) and leads the NBA in postseason shooting percentage. The long wait is paying off.
No-fault zone, though I cast a disappointed eye at trading the No. 24 pick to Portland for cash.
Danny Ainge accurately assessed the 2007 draft as bad after the top three and flipped his No. 5 pick for Ray Allen. He managed to get the Sonics' early second out of it, too. This opened the door for the Kevin Garnett trade -- a team with Paul Pierce and Jesus Shuttlesworth was appetizing -- and a title. This was a great trade for Boston. (And they ended up with Jeff Green anyway.)
Wait, Reyshawn Terry got drafted? How do I not remember this at all?
Stanko Barac (39)
But an A for the All-Name Team!
Giorgos Printezis (58)
I remember passing out around this pick, if I'm not mistaken.
Milovan Rakovic (60)
Nope, it was right there. "We have a trade!" Uh huh.
There you have it: the 2007 draft, graded five years later. I gave out nine As, three Bs, eight Cs, five Ds and three Fs. Let's vote on those As, and decide who had the best 2007 draft. Explain your vote in the comments.