26 June 2014

2014 NBA Draft: 1st Round Grades

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As you may have known already, the 2014 NBA Draft is tonight and boy, it may be a wild one. I will be tracking every selection tonight and will be posting my lives grades right here as the picks are announced at the podium by commissioner Adam Silver. Enjoy.

Final Mock

1. Cleveland Cavaliers - Andrew Wiggins, G/F, Kansas
Ultimately, I think that Cleveland made the correct decision taking Wiggins over Parker. Yes, Parker is more likely to contribute right away but I think Wiggins has a higher ceiling and will be a better pro. He projects as an excellent defender right away and I am not too worried about the criticisms of him not being as assertive offensively. I really think we are looking at the next Tracy McGrady here, and he fits in well with Kyrie Irving in what should be a dynamite backourt.
Grade: A

2. Milwaukee Bucks - Jabari Parker, F, Duke
How will he fit with the Greek Freak? Quite frankly, does it matter at this point? Parker may not have a position as of yet, although I think he will be a stretch four, and he may never be a great defender. However, he has all the offensive skills necessary and should be able to be a 20-point scorer right away. He also is known to be a hard worker and a really good kid, the kind of player you want to be in the foundation of your team. And Parker wanted to go to Milwaukee, so everybody wins.
Grade: A

3. Philadelphia 76ers - Joel Embiid, C, Kansas
Looks like Philadelphia, a team still working on a rebuilding process, is not afraid to take a second straight center that will likely miss the next season. And I think it is a tremendous selection even with the Embiid injury concerns, because I think that Embiid has the talent to be the best player in this draft. Hell, there was a reason why he was going to be the top pick until a week ago. For a big man to be so fluid and athletic and to have the defensive instincts that he has, that is why some have compared him to a young Akeem. Bold pick and I love it.
Grade: A

4. Orlando Magic - Aaron Gordon, F, Arizona
I was not expecting Gordon to go here as I thought instead that Noah Vonleh and Dante Exum, and maybe Marcus Smart, were more likely to be the picks. Naturally, I don't know everything. This is a nice pick as Gordon can be the future at either of the forward positions for the Magic. I am high on Gordon and even with his offensive game and particularly his shot needing a lot of work. He is supremely athletic and takes advantage of that to be a tremendous defender. He looks like a Shawn Marion type and Orlando will have to love that, as well as the fact he is a great teammate and works his ass off.
Grade: A-

5. Utah Jazz - Dante Exum, G, Australia
Now I would have thought that Exum would have gone already and I was not really think about Exum landing in Salt Lake City. I understand that Exum is certainly a major question considering the level of competition he saw in Australia and how little GM's have seen him play, but I think there is a lot to like here. Maybe Exum will not be the next Kobe Bryant but he will make for a talented and fun backcourt with Trey Burke with the Jazz.
Grade: A-

6. Boston Celtics - Marcus Smart, G, Oklahoma State
I think that this basically means that the Rajon Rondo days are numbered in Beantown, although we probably knew that already. I like Smart a lot. I always love the super competitive guys that all they want to do is win. Smart struggled with his shot in his sophomore season but where he makes his money offensively is in driving and attacking the tin and either finishing or getting to the line. He has nice court vision and distributes well. His best attributes are on the defensive end as he will be one of the best defending point guards right away.
Grade: A-

7. Los Angeles Lakers - Julius Randle, F, Kentucky
If Smart was going to be off the board, then I felt that Randle is all but a lock to join Showtime, and I was right. The fit makes sense as the Lakers are a mess with their bigs right now. Randle plays a lot like Zach Randolph in the paint, he is so physical down low he can force his way to the basket. He also cleans up like a mother on the glass However, he will not be able to overpower guys as much in the NBA as he could in college so that will be something to watch for.
Grade: A-

8. Sacramento Kings - Nik Stauskas, G, Michigan
Now I like Stauskas a lot. He is a confident shooter and scorer that is not afraid to hoist up a shot from anytime from the perimeter. I also love how hard the guy plays and he helps a Kings club that really struggled to shoot the ball from the perimeter. However, I guess this means the team has soured quickly on Ben McLemore, who they took in the top ten only a year ago, and may be trying to move him. With Isaiah Thomas a restricted free agent, I would have rather seen Sacramento take Elfrid Payton. But what may be the biggest surprise is that they stayed at this selection.
Grade: C+

9. Charlotte Hornets (from Detroit) - Noah Vonleh, F, Indiana
Vonleh turned out to be the guy that slipped a little early on draft day and I don't see why. Sure his numbers are not as great, but why should he be blamed for Tom Crean's mediocre coaching decisions? Check out his advanced numbers, they are tremendous. This is a steal for the Bobcats Hornets as he fills a big need next to Al Jefferson at the four. He has the ability to be a stretch four because he has a very nice shot from the perimeter and he really cleans up on the glass.
Grade: A

10. Philadelphia 76ers (traded to Orlando; from New Orleans) - Elfrid Payton, G, Louisiana Lafayette
I would love this pick had the Sixers cashed in on Michael Carter-Williams's stock and dealt him for a high pick but I do not see how Payton and Carter-Williams fit, particularly as neither can shoot very well. I do like Payton, whose stock has been rising of late, due to his tremendous defensive skills and how he excels at getting to the free throw line which he led the NCAA in. I think he can be a really good player, but I do not like the fit unless one of them is being moved.
UPDATE: This pick is going to Orlando where Payton is an excellent fit. That Payton-Victor Oladipo backcourt will be fun to watch.
Grade: A-

11. Denver Nuggets (traded to Chicago) - Doug McDermott, F, Creighton
People are going to run around on Twitter and shout Adam Morrison, and they are dead wrong. McDermott is more athletic than Morrison ever was and is not as reliant as on his jump shot as Morrison was. He never will be a good defender and may not have a position, but his offensive skills are truly prodigious. Yes he has the sensational shot from outside but he also is crafty and can get points in the point. However, he is joining a team with a glutton of forwards so unless a deal is in the works, this is an odd fit.
UPDATE: The Bulls are acquiring this pick for the 16th and 19th picks and while that seems like a lot, I think it is a good move which will save them a little bit of money. Plus, they desperately need shooters, McDermott fits well with Joakim Noah and Tom Thibodeau can make anyone defend.
Grade: A-

12. Orlando Magic (traded to Philadelphia; from New York via Denver) - Dario Saric, F, Croatia
This pick will be flipped to the 76ers for the ten pick and Elfrid Payton. Considering that Payton made no sense for Philly and will be a great fit in Orlando, and that Saric is the kind of guy that Sam Hinkie will love to acquire due to his love of acquiring assets. Saric is a very unique prospect and he looks like a classic point forward with his playmaking ability coupled with his size. His shot is not great and he won't jump over anybody but I like this pick for Philly. And again, the team is not going to be a contender or anything close to it this upcoming season.
Grade: B+

13. Minnesota Timberwolves - Zach LaVine, G, UCLA
LaVine is ludicrously athletic and has a very high ceiling, but I am not sold on him. He was pretty hit and miss in his sole year in Westwood and he has a lot of work to do on his skill level to make in the NBA. I think he will be a two guard which the Wolves really need, but I would have rather seen them take somebody a little more polished like Gary Harris of Michigan State or even James Young of Kentucky.
Grade: C

14. Phoenix Suns - T.J. Warren, F, NC State
Is Warren going a little early for him? Maybe, but I think this is a very fine pick for the Suns, a club trying to push into the playoffs next year. They needed a wing scorer and a little more depth up front, and Warren fits. He is not a great shooter but he has more of an old-school kind of game in how proficient he is around the basket. Warren also works really hard on both ends of the court as well. A player I like and Phoenix can afford can tinker around with so many first round selections.
Grade: B+

15. Atlanta Hawks - Adreian Payne, F, Michigan State
This is a fine selection, but not a great one. Payne makes sense for the offensive system that coach Mike Budenholzer wants to run with a ton of shooting at every position, and Payne is a really good shooter for a big guy. But the Hawks also have a number of big guys that Payne will have to battle for playing time with. Also, you had some nice guards that would have given the Hawks some help in the backcourt. I do think it is a fine pick, but I think Gary Harris, for example, would have been better.
Grade: B

16. Chicago Bulls (traded to Denver; from Charlotte) - Jusuf Nurkic, C, Bosnia
As noted earlier, this pick is headed to Denver town in the Doug McDermott trade. I am a little hot and cold on this selection. One one hand, I think Nurkic is going a little earlier from where I think he would ideally go later in the first round and the Nuggets have a number of centers on the roster already. On the other, Nurkic has all the physical tools to be a nice NBA center and Denver, with all those centers, can afford to wait on him.
Grade: B-

17. Boston Celtics (from Brooklyn) - James Young, G, Kentucky
Has the Celtics taken their backcourt of the future with selecting Marcus Smart and now Young? And is Young insurance for restricted free agent Avery Bradley? Young is a nice value here for Danny Ainge, Brad Stevens and the Celtics and he fits the need of a strong perimeter shooter. He is a little raw and could use some polish but he has nice size and length and can also get after the boards well. Why he is still available at this juncture, I don't know, but I don't think the Celtics will mind.
Grade: A

18. Phoenix Suns (from Washington) - Tyler Ennis, G, Syracuse
Are the Suns making this pick for somebody else? Could be something for the folks at home to consider, or not. Unless the team is worried about losing Eric Bledsoe in free agency, I do not love this selection as I do not see the need. Ennis showed plenty of leadership skills at Syracuse but he may have left a year early. He is probably never going to be a great shooter nor is he a totally impressive athlete, but he is a smart playmaker that takes care of the rock and does whatever it takes to. But again, I don't see the need for Phoenix.
Grade: C-

19. Chicago Bulls (traded to Denver) - Gary Harris, G, Michigan State
The Doug McDermott deal has the Bulls taking this selection for the Nuggets. And the thing is, Denver could have taken Harris at their original pick (which I had in my last mock) and it would have been a really nice selection, but here, this is a steal. I like Harris a lot. His shot only declined this past year due to playing through injuries, but he does shoot well from outside, has a nice floater in the lane, and can get to the rim. Plus, he is a tremendous defender and is still a young guy. The Nuggets did just acquire Aaron Afflalo and now with Harris, they have really put together a nice crop at shooting guard.
Grade: A

20. Toronto Raptors - Bruno Caboclo, F, Brazil
Wait, what the hell is this? I am completely stunned that Caboclo, who I had zero first round radar and may not have seen him being drafted at all, is going here in the first round. This is a great athlete that the great Fran Fraschilla has described as being "two years away from being two years away." He is incredibly raw and has a lot of work to do to come even close to the NBA. Why Toronto took him here when they could have easily selected him in the second round is mind boggling, particularly when they could have taken Shabazz Napier.
Grade: F

21. Oklahoma City Thunder (from Dallas via Lakers, Houston) - Mitch McGary, F/C, Michigan
McGary reportedly was promised to be drafted by the Thunder so there you go. This is a really nice pick for a guy that had a disappointing sophomore year ruined by injuries and was facing a year-long suspension for marijuana but has a nice ceiling. McGary is a sensational passer but his offensive games has a lot of work to do. However, he will likely to be an energy guy off the bench that pounds the glass, defends well and runs the floor well. Maybe a little early for him but I like the selection.
Grade: B

22. Memphis Grizzlies - Jordan Adams, G, UCLA
Adams over Rodney Hood or P.J. Hariston or even Shabazz Napier? I don't love that, but I do like Adams here for Memphis. Everybody knows that the Grizzlies needed some perimeter pop and some depth on the wings and while Adams is not particularly athletic nor is he particularly explosive, the kids knows how to put the ball through the hoop. He knows how to get off of screens and score from the perimeter and at the rim. He takes advantage of his instincts to get a lot of steals as well.
Grade: B

23. Utah Jazz - Rodney Hood, F, Duke
Another guy that has slipped a little and turns into a really good value for the team that drafts well is Mr. Hood right here. One thing the Jazz really needed to find this offseason was a legitimate threeball shooter from the perimeter and Hood is one of the purest scorers and shooters in the draft. He will have to work a lot on his defense and on his rebounding but at the very least, he will help space out the Jazz offensively.
Grade: A-

24. Charlotte Hornets (traded to Miami; from Portland) - Shabazz Napier, G, UConn
I am a little surprised that Napier was still on the board here at 24 and I would have thought that Miami could pull off a deal to get him. That did not happen and the Hornets, who feature a former teammate of Napier's in Kemba Walker, get a steal and a very good ballplayer in this selection. Napier is a damn winner that showed the leadership and toughness in leading the Huskies to the NCAA title. He gives the Hornets another guard to work with Walker and some excellent shooting. Good work.
UPDATE: It looks like Napier is indeed taking his talents to South Beach as the Heat have acquired his rights. Napier is a great fit to slide right into Mario Chalmers's role and this is the guy LeBron James wanted.
Grade: A

25. Houston Rockets - Clint Capela, F/C, Switzerland
Considering how aggressive the Rockets want to be in free agency (LeBron? Carmelo?), it makes a ton of sense that Houston stashes this pick overseas to avoid the immediate cap hit, and Capela makes sense because he is far from coming in right away and will stay in Europe at least initially. Capela has a high ceiling because he is extraordinarily athletic, only his actual game has a ways to go. He is long and explosive and can be a beast in the post in time. But the ultimate goal was to maximize cap space so mission accomplished.
Grade: B+

26. Miami Heat (traded to Charlotte) - P.J. Hairston, G, Texas Legends
Hey a local guy for the Bobcats Hornets! Of course, Hairston's issues with some of the people he was associated with before getting kicked out of UNC but beyond that, this is a really good pick for what the Hornets need, which is shooting from the perimeter. And that is certainly what Hairston can provide as he is a great shooter and a really good scorer from the floor. The character concerns caused his stock to drop and I think he can get it done with a rising Charlotte franchise.
Grade: A-

27. Phoenix Suns (from Indiana) - Bogdan Bogdanovic, G, Serbia
Phoenix had so many first round selections in the draft that it made sense for them to take a foreign guy to stash and overseas. That is what they are doing here with the Belgrave native. He is a tremendous shooter from the perimeter and has ideal size for a two guard. He also has some game off the dribble and can play a little defense as well. All in all, he is a very nice player that can come in and contribute or the Suns can hold him overseas.
Grade: B

28. Los Angeles Clippers - C.J. Wilcox, G, Washington
Although the Clippers already have a number of good shooters in their backcourt, you can never have too many shooters in today's NBA. Wilcox may have seen his season end prematurely in the Pac-12 Tournament but the kid is a tremendous scorer and shooter that can make him a nice guy off the bench. He also has solid size for a shooting guard as well. Maybe they could have taken a big guy considering they have they have no depth down, and they really did not need another two guard, but this isn't an awful pick.
Grade: C

29. Oklahoma City Thunder - Josh Huestis, F, Stanford
This is an awful pick on multiple levels. But beyond I trash it further, Huestis is not an awful player and can give the Thunder a nice defender on the perimeter. But first, they took this guy a round two early as he was a mid to late 2nd round talent. Second, there were much better perimeter players available like Cleanthony Early or K.J. McDaniels, who I think is a better defender and more talented that Huestis, Jerami Grant, as well as a host of better prospects. I'm sure Huestis is a nice guy and he will have a specific role, but Oklahoma City made a pretty poor selection here at 29.
Grade: F

30. San Antonio Spurs - Kyle Anderson, G/F, UCLA
Not the foreign prospect a lot of folks were thinking but Anderson could be a really fun fit into this San Antonio offense. Anderson really is a unique player as he has the size of a small forward and the game of a point guard. He is not a great athlete, is not a tremendous shooter and does not have a defensive position. However, he has sensational court vision and is a tremendous passer and playmaker. Think of him as a less athletic Boris Diaw, and we know how big Diaw was for the Spurs in the Finals. Well done, San Antone.
Grade: A

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