A draft class is evaluated numerous times, but the three most important judging periods come right before the draft, the first few weeks into the player's rookie season and then again at the end of the rookie's inaugural campaign.
Overall, the judgments made prior to the NBA Draft each June might be the least accurate, but they are important for obvious reasons. Each of the league's 30 teams need to do their homework to take some of the guess work out of the process.
They may not be able to gauge a player's value perfectly (see: Brown, Kwame and Milicic, Darko), but as a whole the league does a very good job of evaluating talent. That's why it's important for rebuilding teams to have a series of high picks. Just look at what the Trail Blazers and Thunder have done over the last handful of years.
In the weeks and months leading up to this week's draft I conducted an informal poll among a number of NBA front office executives to gauge how they felt about this year's draft class.
Not surprisingly, all the executives I talked to gushed about Kentucky point guard John Wall, the consensus top pick in Thursday's draft and the cream of this year's crop.
After that, opinions were wide-spread.
Some talked about Ohio State's Evan Turner as if he were merely at the end of a sentence containing Wall, while others wouldn't even put him in the same paragraph.
The overwhelming theme was clear though, in comparison to recent years this draft class isn't nearly as strong.
"History says it won't be as good this year," said one general manager picking in the bottom half of the first round. "These things go in cycles."
Of the six executives I spoke to, not one categorized this year's draft class as above average. I asked each to describe the class as above average, par or sub par.
Over the last six weeks, three responded with "sub par."
Evaluations prior to the draft are imperative for executives, but the final verdict won't come for at least a year on this draft class.
Of this year's 28 All-Stars only six -- Rajon Rondo (21st in 2006), Gerald Wallace (25th in 2001), David Lee (30th in 2005), Steve Nash (15th in 1996), Kobe Bryant (13th in 1996), Zach Randolph (19th in 2001) -- and weren't drafted in the top ten of their class.
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