If you base your evaluation on the various report cards that were posted over the past 48 hours, New Orleans finished somewhere near the middle of the pack in its performance during the 2009 NBA Draft. There are probably over 100 websites that list draft grades these days, but here are several of the most well-recognized sources. All grades and opinions are those of the respective websites (writers name in parentheses):
CBS Sportsline (Dave Del Grande)
Defensive stalwart ideal tag-team partner for Chris Paul ... Play versatile guard along Paul and Hornets fast break becomes blur.
ESPN.com (Chad Ford)
A team with huge holes in the frontcourt addressed, instead, its backcourt.
I think Collison is rock-solid and a terrific backup for Chris Paul. He's steady, he defends and he can really push the pace of the game. Thornton is a terrific scorer who slipped because of his lack of size and so-so athleticism.
I like the picks, with my only issue being that the Hornets passed on a few big men who could have helped, like DeJuan Blair, B.J. Mullens and DaJuan Summers.
Grade: B minus.
Hoops World (Steve Kyler)
Getting Collison and Thornton in the draft really improves the Hornets where they were weakest help for Chris Paul. New Orleans has some solid options now, and both players are proven mature guys. These are not project guys that will need a year or two to develop. They can play tomorrow if needed. Very good moves by the Hornets.
Grade: B plus.
NBADraft.net (Adi Joseph)
Your best player is a lightning-quick 6-foot point guard. You're a playoff team near contention. Why would you draft a lightning-quick 6-foot point guard? With that said, Collison is a nice backup, and Thornton's scoring ability is almost enough to look the other way on the first rounder.
Grade: C plus.
NBA Fanhouse (Matt Steinmetz)
It was obvious in the postseason that Chris Paul needed a backup, a player to take some of the minutes-load off him. Collison, who has the potential to be a nice perimeter defender, will get every opportunity to take some of Paul's load. It is a little troubling that Collison's production in college went down from last year to the season before.
Grade: B minus.
NBC Sports (Ira Winderman)
A team with limited finances and an even more limited bench got exactly what it needed in a ready-made prospect, UCLA senior point guard Darren Collison at No. 21. While the upside might be limited, Collison can get into the lane and create for himself and his teammates. It could wind up being a seamless transition when Chris Paul steps aside during games. A smart, win-now pick.
Grade: B plus.
Pro Basketball News (Tony Mejia)
Darren Collison was the top point guard available when the Hornets looked on their board to upgrade an area of need, and he seems like a complimentary fit next to Paul, capable of coming in and pestering opponents while responsibly running the show. The Hornets loved LSU product Marcus Thornton (I had them selecting him at No. 21 in my final mock), so landing him from Miami for second-round picks in 2010 and 2012 seems like a major bargain. Tyson Chandler is still likely a goner and things are bound to get worse before they get better, but New Orleans managed to do pretty well for itself in the 2009 Draft.
SI.com (Scott Howard-Cooper)
The Hornets needed a backup for Chris Paul, and the point guards were flying off the board with Jrue Holiday at No. 17, Ty Lawson at 18, Jeff Teague at 19 and Eric Maynor at 20, so New Orleans was left with Darren Collison at 21. It could have turned out much worse. Collison is slight at 6-1½ and 165 pounds, but he has speed, will defend and is experienced in pressure situations from the postseason runs with UCLA. The 43rd pick, Marcus Thornton, an undersized shooting guard from LSU, has the potential to be a scoring threat as a role player.
Slam Magazine (Joey Whelan)
The Hornets did not choose wisely with their only first round pick of the draft, opting to go with an undersized point guard in Darren Collison when they so badly need help in the frontcourt. This pick makes little sense given that Chris Paul and Antonio Daniels are already on the roster, and yet Collison - who is really a second round talent - was the man they opted to go with at 21. With the need for another athletic big man who can run the floor with Paul, B.J. Mullens or DaJuan Summers might have been better picks here. Not to say someone like Mullens is going to blossom into a star, but certainly he addresses the need for versatility in the frontcourt. New Orleans did go out and get a scoring wing, something they needed, in the form of LSUs Marcus Thornton. Hes a player who can help fill the void being left by the decline of Peja Stojakovich as he continues to age and deal with injury problems. Thornton is a little undersized for the shooting guard position and his athleticism has been questioned on several occasions, but he does have a nose for the basket. Still, this pick doesnt make up for a poor selection for the team in the first round.