We wind up our NBA Draft Grades series with a look back at 2010, a year in which all general managers were sane, sober and not at all scared of a big, bad man from Birmingham or an intellectual throwback from southern Louisiana.
Possibly the two best players in the 2010 NBA Draft were picked No. 5 and No. 7, which should tell you that this could turn into a fun little grading exercise. Let's dig in.
John Wall (1), Kevin Seraphin (17), Trevor Booker (23), Hamady N'Diaye (56)
Wall can still become the best player from the 2010 class -- he didn't really improve much in his second season, but his roster was abysmal, the coaching situation abhorrent and the impact of the lockout damaging leaguewide. Next season will begin to tell the story of John Wall. Fingers crossed for the kid. Seraphin and Booker, meanwhile, look like legit NBA players; Seraphin was picked up for a Kirk Hinrich cap absorption, a great strategy for Ernie Grunfeld.
We neglected to mention the Wizards in the 2009 grades. Grunfeld traded the No. 5 pick to Minnesota for Mike Miller and Randy Foye. Suffice it to say that it was a trade well worth a big fat F.
Evan Turner (2)
I'm not being overly kind here -- as with Wall, I just happen to maintain some hope in Turner. He ascended from The Night Shift to a starting role late in the season, and average just about 13/7/3 in the front five. That's ... not bad. It's not the No. 5 pick's 18/11 or the No. 7 pick's 15/10. But we're reserving a top-5 F for one team and one team only.
NEW JERSEY NETS
Derrick Favors (3), Damion James (24)
And nope, it's not the Nets either. Favors is still considered primarily a defense prospect, though he can score around the hoop a little. Favors' production has been similar to that of Turner, so why does N.J. get the better grade? The Nets already flipped him for a legit star (Deron Williams); had N.J. landed Turner instead, I'm not sure Utah takes the deal. Favors, though disappointing to date, has held his value better than the other underwhelming players in the top five. That's not worth nothing.
And now, ladies and gentlemen, one of the worst decisions in recent draft history ...
Wesley Johnson (4), Lazar Hayward (30), Nemanja Bjelica (35), Paulao Prestes (45)
David Kahn's Wolves, who were a week away from giving Darko Milicic a $20 million contract and had no center to speak of having just traded Al Jefferson for surplus cap space and Kosta Koufos, passed up DeMarcus Cousins and Greg Monroe for ... Wesley Johnson, who is three years older than the two centers mentioned. Johnson was among the worst regular players in the league last season by any measure. Check out the list of regular players who averaged fewer than 10 points and five rebounds per 36 minutes and shot worse than 40 percent from the field last season: Steve Blake, Earl Watson The Corpse of Shane Battier, The Corpse of Derek Fisher and ... Wesley Johnson. Excellent company!
I have nothing against Wes Johnson, who seems to be a great dude and puts in work. But, man.
DeMarcus Cousins (5), Hassan Whiteside (33)
Sometimes, the draft is hard. You have the third pick in a two-dog derby, or everyone's range is wide and there's no telling what will happen in front of you.
Other times, it's easy. Like when the most productive college big man in ages falls into your lap. Easy pick made with ease, and one of the few things keeping Sacramento fans from community harakiri.
GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS
Ekpe Udoh (6)
Be but for the grace of #KAHN. The Warriors had two options: a defense-first older prospect who was perhaps undersized and almost certainly underskilled, or a taller, younger, more refined but less bulldog-like prospect. They went for defense, and they struck out. Udoh should be a solid rotation big at worst for his career, and Golden State has already moved on in tossing him in the Monta Ellis-Andrew Bogut deal. But if they'd made the right choice at No. 6, they wouldn't have needed to give up Monta for Bogut, because they'd have their center of the future.
Greg Monroe (7), Terrico White (36)
See the Sacramento entry. An easy choice made with ease.
Al-Farouq Aminu (8), Eric Bledsoe (18)
Aminu turned out to be the wrong wing to take at No. 8; Gordon Hayward and Paul George are each more valuable right now, and perhaps would have saved L.A. an asset in the Chris Paul trade. Bledsoe was a victory, though; he looks like to be a potential Kyle Lowry down the road, which is good for L.A. to have given the uncertainty of CP3's future.
Gordon Hayward (9), Jeremy Evans (55)
His production doesn't scream off the page, but it has become widely accepted that Hayward is going to be an awesome player quite soon. He's actually not as productive or promising, in my opinion, as Turner. But Hayward went No. 9, Turner went No. 2. It's all relative to the opportunity cost paid, and there's only one player picked after Hayward that Utah would rather have.
Paul George (10), Lance Stephenson (40), Magnum Rolle (51)
And there he is. (No, I don't mean Born Ready.) George has already become a draft prototype. You want to boost a prospect's stock? Just mention him in the same breath as Paul George. I'm convinced a Paul George comparison could get Chad Ford himself drafted into the first round.
OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER
Cole Aldrich (11), Tibor Pleiss (31), Latavious Williams (48), Ryan Reid (57)
There wasn't much left by the time the Hornets picked for the Thunder at No. 11, but OKC made a rare draft error by giving up Eric Bledsoe for a future pick. Aldrich remains untested and thus promising. But Bledsoe would have fit beautifully behind Russell Westbrook (no offense to Derek Fisher).
Xavier Henry (12), Greivis Vasquez (28)
The only silver lining of another bad draft by the Grizzlies is that Henry turned into Marreese Speights, who was pretty useful for long stretches this season. And hey, it wasn't Thabeet!
Ed Davis (13), Solomon Alabi (50)
Just like DeMar DeRozan a year prior, no one still has any clue whether Davis was worth the pick. But again, this draft fell off a cliff after No. 10, so if Davis never reaches his potential, you can't ding the Raptors too hard.
Patrick Patterson (14)
The perils of being good enough to pick No. 14: Houston landed Patrick Patterson in 2010 and a Morris twin in 2011. (See also: the Suns of the past three seasons, with Robin Lopez, Earl Clark and a Morris twin. It's a rough draft existence.)
Larry Sanders (15), Darington Hobson (37), Tiny Gallon (47)
I had such high hopes for Tiny Gallon, too.
PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS
Luke Babbitt (16), Elliot Williams (22), Armon Johnson (34)
That Babbitt has been a ghost is a detriment to the hilarious #KAHN sequence of Lawson --> Babbitt --> Martell Webster --> Martell Webster's hair.
Avery Bradley (19), Luke Harangody (52)
Danny Ainge found the rare player outside the 2010 top 10 who is a definite NBA caliber player. Bradley's importance was underhyped much of the season, but isn't going unnoticed now that he's injured at the worst time possible for the C's.
SAN ANTONIO SPURS
James Anderson (20), Ryan Richards (49)
Anderson could still pay dividends down the road, but he hasn't lived up to his billing -- or gotten an opportunity to do so, really -- to date.
NEW ORLEANS HORNETS
Craig Brackins (21), Quincy Pondexter (26)
A Morris Peterson cap dump led New Orleans to trade down from No. 11 to 21. At No. 26, the team picked a player who would later be traded for the player picked No. 28. o_O
Dominique Jones (26)
This would have been a D were his nickname not DoJo.
Jordan Crawford (27), Pape Sy (53)
Crawford helped land Kirk Hinrich and his rec specs, so cheers to that. Pape Sy provided great amusement on Twitter as everyone attempted to figure out where on Earth (literally) he came from. He wasn't exactly Targuy Ngombo, but who is?
Daniel Orton (29), Stanley Robinson (59)
A worthy successor for Marcin Gortat. In terms of being of the accurate size to wear Marcin Gortat's old warm-ups.
NEW YORK KNICKS
J.E. Skeets (38), Landry Fields (39)
Special mention to the Knicks for getting away with taking two white players back-to-back in the second round and getting absolutely no crap for it because, hey, one of them could actually play!
Thus ends our journey through recent past drafts. (We'll withhold judgment on 2011 for another year, mostly so I don't have to sob through a Jimmer Fredette entry.) We have a poll question rounding up all four years we looked at. Please think carefully about your answer. Lives depend on the result. Perhaps your own.