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2010 NBA Draft Re-grade: Western Conference

by Josh Mullenix | @TheJMULL_

The best time to grade an NBA draft is years after the NBA draft occurs. No one knows whether or not the pick was actually good 24 hours after the pick is made. In that spirit, 110 Sports is re-grading each NBA draft from the last 10 years in an attempt to grade that pick accurately. 

This is an examination of the player picked and what happened on draft night, but, of course, there will be some discussion about how long that player played for the franchise and what he was actually worth. For example, though the Nets traded away Derrick Favors for Deron Williams less than a year after drafting him, they will still get credit for making a solid pick on draft night but not as much credit as if he spent the majority of the last 10 years with the Nets.

The 2010 NBA Draft got boring quickly. Yes, the first pick in the draft turned out to be an explosive point guard and arguably the best two-way player in the NBA today was drafted at No. 10, but not a single player picked outside of the top 20 played all 10 seasons since they were drafted and only six of those players played seven seasons or more. 

The order mirrors the position in which each team made their first pick, not in the order of best to worst pick. The Eastern Conference has been through the gauntlet, now it’s the 110 Sports 2010 NBA Draft Re-Grade of the Western Conference

Minnesota Timberwolves

Picks (Pick No.): Wesley Johnson (No. 4), Luke Babbitt (No. 16), Trevor Booker (No. 23), Paulo Prestes (No. 45), Hamady N’Diaye (No. 56)

The Timberwolves were busy on draft night in 2010. They made a total of five picks, but only one of the players technically drafted by Minnesota actually got to the Twin Cities. Luke Babbitt was traded immediately to the Trail Blazers for Martell Webster. Trevor Booker and Hamady N’Diaye were sent to Washington for Nemanja Bjelica and Lazar Hayward. 

The real disappointment here is wasting the No. 4 pick on Wesley Johnson. He was solid at Syracuse, yes, but he’s never averaged more than 9.9 points in the NBA and was traded away two years later in a three-team trade for essentially a couple of second round picks. Not exactly what you want out of the No. 4 pick.

Grade: D+ | Not a whole lot to show from this draft in a dark, dark time for the Timberwolves, who won only 32 games from 2009-11. 

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Sacramento Kings

PIcks: DeMarcus Cousins (No. 5), Hassan Whiteside (No. 33)

From a names perspective, the Kings had one of the best drafts this year. Cousins and Whiteside are both in the top seven in win shares and top 10 in points in this draft class. Cousins’ career average of 21.2 points leads all players and Whiteside is top 10 in that category as well.

Unfortunately, Whiteside spent the first two seasons of his career recovering from a patellar tendon injury and playing with the Reno Bighorns — the Kings’ G-League affiliate. If his first two seasons go better, maybe the Kings are boasting one of the better frontcourts in the NBA. Nonetheless, the Kings front office drafted two big impact big men in 2010.

Grade: A+ | Things could’ve worked out better after draft night, but nobody drafted two better players than Sacramento in 2010.

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Golden State Warriors

Picks: Ekpe Udoh (No. 6)

It makes sense why Ekpe Udoh didn’t spend too much time in Golden State. Udoh hasn’t taken a single 3-pointer in his seven-year NBA career. He played one full season with the Warriors before being traded along with Monta Ellis to the Bucks for Andrew Bogut. Bogut was ultimately a big part of the Warriors title teams and the ushering out of Ellis put Stephen Curry in the spotlight. 

Grade: D | With all of that being said, you have to be better with the No. 6 pick in the draft. Udoh just wasn’t the right pick.

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Los Angeles Clippers

Picks: Al-Farouq Aminu (No. 8), Willie Warren (No. 54)

With the No. 8 pick, the Clippers selected Al-Farouq Aminu, who is one of the few players in this draft to play all 10 seasons since 2010. He didn’t spend much time in Los Angeles, though. On December 14, 2011, Aminu was part of the trade that put Chris Paul in a Clippers uniform. Paul was at the core of the success in LA in the early and mid-2010s and if Aminu helped get him there then that’s a win in my book. 

Willie Warren wasn’t nearly as spectacular, but that’s expected from the No. 54 overall pick. The Clips also traded a 2012 first round pick on draft night for Eric Bledsoe, who played three decent seasons as a backup to CP3. Fab Melo was ultimately taken with that 2012 first round pick and he played six NBA games. So, the Clippers won that one, too.

Grade: B+ | It might not have been incredibly impressive on draft night, but the picks they made played a role in getting Chris Paul and Aminu has had a very solid NBA career. 

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Utah Jazz

Picks: Gordon Hayward (No. 9), Jeremy Evans (No. 55)

Gordon Hayward would be taken in the top 5 if this draft were done again. Until his gruesome leg injury, he was never injured, playing at least 66 games every season. While success wasn’t out of this world during his time in Utah, Hayward was the main reason the Jazz were never terrible at any point this decade. He’s third in minutes, fourth in points and third in win shares out of this draft class. 

Evans was also a decent pick for a No. 55 overall pick. He’s 29th in minutes played, but that’s not to say he was anything special. He averages just 10.5 minutes per game for his career and his points per game peak was just 6.1 points. With that being said, any pick outside of the top 50 that hangs around the NBA for a while is a solid choice. 

Grade: A | The Jazz essentially picked the third most valuable player in this draft with the No. 9 pick. That’s valuable no matter how you spin it. 

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New Orleans Hornets

PIcks: Cole Aldrich (No. 11)

Aldrich was the only player taken by the Hornets on draft night. They immediately traded him and Morris Peterson to OKC for Craig Brackins and Quincy Poindexter. The Kansas star never amounted to anything in the NBA, so getting rid of him was ultimately a good call, but Pondexter left for Memphis just a year later and Brackins played 17 games in the NBA.

Quite frankly, this was the beginning of tough times for this franchise. After a decent 2010-11 season, Chris Paul went to LA and it took the Hornets seven years to win more than 45 games. This draft didn’t help that, they walked away with a bunch of guys that are in the footnotes of a lot of trades but never really helped a team win.

Grade: C- | It was just a boring draft for the then-Hornets that involved a bunch of moves that amounted to nothing. 

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Memphis Grizzlies

PIcks: Xavier Henry (No. 12), Dominique Jones (No. 25), Greivis Vasquez (No. 28)

Memphis is notorious for bad draft picks under GM Chris Wallace’s reign — it’s a shame we aren’t regrading the 2009 draft. In actuality, this is one of the more ok drafts in a long line of bad picks between Mike Conley and Jaren Jackson Jr. However, the Grizzlies didn’t get a whole lot out of their three first round picks in 2010. Apart from their own pick, the Grizzlies got the No. 28 pick as part of the Marc Gasol for Pau Gasol deal in 2008 and a deal with Denver in the summer of 2009. 

Xavier Henry and Greivis Vasquez weren’t horrible, but that’s about all you can say about them. Jones was sold to Dallas on draft night and neither Henry nor Vasquez spent more than a year in Memphis. They were ultimately traded, both ending up in New Orleans and the Grizzlies got Quincy Pondexter and Marreese Speights in return. At the end of the day, another boring, uninspiring draft from Memphis. 

Grade: C | Memphis got players that played real minutes, but that’s it. 

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Houston Rockets

Picks: Patrick Patterson (No. 14)

Patterson has had a really solid career, better than most No. 14 picks. He’s played all 10 seasons, ranks top 11 in win shares and minutes played and only two players picked after him have played more NBA minutes. He only played two and a half seasons in Houston but was solid from the jump. Houston traded their 2010 second round pick for Gerald Green in February of 2008, so there wasn’t much else going on for the Rockets on draft night.

Grade: B | A solid pick, and a B on a math test is always solid. 

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Oklahoma City Thunder

Picks: Eric Bledsoe (No. 18), Craig Brackins (No. 21), Quincy Pondexter (No. 26), Magnum Rolle (No. 51)

Trivia time: how many of the players above played a game for the Oklahoma City Thunder? The answer is zero. On draft night, Bledsoe went to LA for a 2012 first round pick, Brackins and Pondexter went to New Orleans for Aldrich and Morris Peterson and Magnum Rolle went to Indiana for Ryan Reid. Bledsoe was the only truly solid pick followed by Pondexter, but they got virtually nothing in those trades and ended up with very little that could help a franchise who was on their way to the 2012 NBA Finals. 

Grade: D+ | With four picks and so many transactions, the Thunder should’ve come out with more production than they actually did. 

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San Antonio Spurs

Picks: James Anderson (No. 20), Ryan Richards (No. 49)

2010 is right in the middle of an 18-year streak in which the Spurs won at least 50 games. Absurd. As a result, they never had a great draft position because, well, they didn’t need it. James Anderson hung around the NBA for five seasons and played roughly 10 minutes off the bench in his three with San Antonio. Richards, on the other hand, didn’t play a single NBA game. Was it a great draft for the Spurs? No. Did they need a good draft? No.

Grade: C | They didn’t need great draft picks, but the Spurs could’ve done better on draft night. 

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Portland Trail Blazers

PIcks: Elliot Williams (No. 22), Armon Johnson (No. 34)

Elliot Williams and I graduated from the same high school, but our similarities stop there. His NBA career wasn’t nearly as spectacular as everyone at St. George’s thought it would be. He played just four seasons, never spending more than a year with any team. Armon Johnson played two seasons. 

On draft night, Portland traded Martell Webster for Luke Babbitt and Ryan Gomes. At the time, the draft wasn’t all that important for the Trail Blazers. They had just gone 50-32 thanks to a core of Andrew Miller, Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge. But then Roy’s knee’s officially failed him and Portland fans patiently waited for Damian Lillard to be picked in the 2012 NBA Draft. There was a rebuild much quicker than expected, and there were no young guys from this draft to play a key role in it. 

Grade: C- | Luke Babbitt had a respectable NBA career, but apart from that, not a whole lot went right for Portland in the 2010 draft. 

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Los Angeles Lakers

Picks: Devin Ebanks (No. 43), Derrick Caracter (No. 58)

The Lakers lost their 2010 first round pick to the Grizzlies when trading for Pau Gasol, but they did get Memphis’ second round pick in return. Neither Ebanks nor Caracter amounted to anything. They combined to play 104 games over four seasons and both averaged less than four points. But the Lakers had just won the title and were going to three more playoffs before the rebuild began, so it didn’t really matter.

Grade: C | Like the Spurs, LA didn’t need any more pieces, and it’s understandable when a team gets so little from their picks outside of the top 40. 

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Phoenix Suns

Picks: Gani Lawal (No. 46), Dwayne Collins (No. 60)

These were good times for the Suns, who had just lost in the Western Conference Finals to the Lakers. They had a core of Steve Nash, Amar’e Stoudemire and Jason Richardson not to mention guys like Grant Hill and Channing Frye. But the Suns would’ve gotten more production out of a bottle of Gatorade than they did from Lawai and Collins. The two combined to play two minutes and score zero points in the NBA.

Grade: F | Because, there’s no other grade. Right?

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Dallas Mavericks

Picks: Solomon Alabi (No. 50)

Dallas won 55 games in 2009-10 and was about to win a championship the next season. They didn’t need much and they didn’t get much from the draft. However, they did trade their 2010 first round pick in 2008 in the trade that included Jason Kidd, which was obviously the right move in hindsight. Solomon Alabi was traded on draft night for a 2013 second round pick.Grade: C | There really isn’t anything going on here, but the Mavericks technically didn’t do anything wrong.

Photo by: Scott Mecum / Wikimedia Commons

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