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July 1, 2007

NBA Draft Grades: Atlantic 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 Atlantic 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.

Atlantic Division:
Boston Celtics | New Jersey Nets | New York Knicks | Philadelphia 76ers | Toronto Raptors

New York Knicks
Draft Grade: B-
Wilson Chandler being picked at No. 23 was the second-worst kept secret of this year's draft. That was another scoop that we broke at DraftExpress more than a week before the draft. This move makes very little sense considering the current makeup of New York's roster, but it is typical of Isiah Thomas. He chooses length and athleticism over skills and intangibles. He clearly could have landed Chandler 10-15 picks down at a lesser salary slot. Thomas then went out and traded what is probably going to be a very nice second-round pick next year to get into the bottom of the draft and pluck Demetris Nichols, yet another small forward. We like Nichols, and he clearly fills a need as a shooter. However, you have to wonder how he is ever going to get any playing time behind (or next to) Jarred Jeffries, Renaldo Balkman, Quentin Richardson and Chandler.

The one saving grace that we can see here is the trade packaging Steve Francis and Channing Frye for a legit 24-point, 10-rebound player in Zach Randolph. Ignoring the salary cap ramifications, this has to be considered a very shrewd move considering the caliber of talent that was swapped. The Knicks just added some major firepower to their roster to compete in the East, and did so without giving up on all that much. How all that talent actually meshes on the floor is anyone's guess, but for a team that has been looking to cut corners constantly for the past five years or more, this was definitely one of their better moves.

Wilson Chandler (from Philadelphia)
Demetris Nichols (from Portland)

Philadelphia 76ers
Draft Grade: C
This probably wasn't a bad draft for Philadelphia, but you get the feeling that they could have done more with three first-round picks. Thaddeus Young was a reach at No. 12 and doesn't really fill a need. Jason Smith had solid value at No. 21 and certainly will fill a need a few years down the road. He should get the minutes to play through mistakes and build confidence as he makes the very difficult transition from the cellar of the Mountain West Conference to the NBA.

Rather than hold on to a player with real talent and potential in Koponen, the Sixers traded him away for yet another swingman. Koponen could have had a great chance to gel with Philly's young roster. Now, they have a logjam with Byars joining Rodney Carney, Bobby Jones and Thaddeus Young. At least they got cash out of it, which should make their fan base feel terrific. We do like the Herbert Hill pick at No. 55. If he gets a fair shake, he might end up stealing minutes from Smith at the 4-spot.

Thaddeus Young
Georgia Tech
Jason Smith (from Miami)
Colorado State
Derrick Byars (from Portland)
Herbert Hill (from Utah)

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