27 June 2014

2014 NBA Draft: Team Grades

While the 2014 NBA Draft may not have been as wild as some had thought (and hoped), there was still plenty of good action in Brooklyn last night. How did all 30 clubs grade out at the end of the day? Here are my team grades.

1st Round Grades

Atlanta Hawks
Mike Budenholezer wants to build a team in the likeness of the Spurs, except only more shooting oriented, and therefore a perimeter shooter of a big man like Adreian Payne fits that mold perfectly. That said, I think the Hawks may have been better off addressing their needs on the wing instead of bringing in a big. They did not address that need until taking Lamar Patterson late in the second round, although I don't think he can play at the next level. Walter Tavares is an enormous center but is really raw; he will not be seen for at least a couple of years.
Grade: C+

Boston Celtics 
Boston had a pair of first round selections (thanks, Billy King!) and I think they did a tremendous job with both picks. Marcus Smart probably cannot play with Rajon Rondo and is more likely to be his future replacement. I am a big Smart fan; I love how competitive he is, how aggressive he attacks the basket, and I think he will be a defensive fiend at the point. James Young may be a future replacement of Avery Bradley and he was a tremendous value at 17. He may be a little raw but he can be a dangerous threat offensively.
Grade: A

Brooklyn Nets
The byproduct of the genius of GM Billy King resulted in the Nets not having any draft picks going into the evening, so the team was forced to have to purchase some second rounders to  give their aging roster some sort of youth. I think Jordan Clarkrson would have been a better selection than Markel Brown at 44 but it was still a fine pick. Brown is a tough defender and plays hard, but he is a little undersized to be a shooting guard. Xavier Thames is a classic combo guard that knows how to score and Cory Jefferson plays hard and has some face-up abilities.
Grade: B-

Charlotte Hornets 
The then-Bobcats made some nice strides to get into the playoffs this past season and with a really good draft crop, they can further their rise in the Eastern Conference. Noah Vonleh should have gone earlier than the ninth selection and thus was a tremendous value. He is raw and Tom Crean underutilized him but he has a really nice inside-outside game that will complement the post work of Al Jefferson. P.J. Hairston, who was originally selected by Miami via the Shabazz Napier deal. has some character concerns but he gives the Hornets some much-needed perimeter shooting to stretch out opposing defenses. Semaj Christon is a talented and athletic guard that will provide some depth under Kemba Walker.
Grade: A

Chicago Bulls 
Maybe it is just me, although I don't think that's the case, I do not think the Bulls overpaid in trading the 16th and 19th picks up to the 11th and Doug McDermott. First, McDermott fills a major Chicago need for perimeter shooting and offensive pop. Tom Thibodeau can fit in anybody to his defense so McDermott's worries there in my opinion. And second, that move allowed Chicago to save some monies for free agency (hello, Carmelo?). Cameron Bairstow was brilliant in his senior year at New Mexico and he can be a solid reserve big man.
Grade: A-

Cleveland Cavaliers
The Cavaliers made the correct decision with the first overall pick in Andrew Wiggins. Jabari Parker would have been a nice pick but not as good as Wiggins, who fits better and has a higher ceiling in my opinion. If feels weird that Cleveland did not botch the first pick, right? The Cleveland second round picks were not great. Joe Harris can certainly shoot and may very well make the team, but he really cannot do anything else. Dwight Powell, who was acquired in a trade with Charlotte, is not much of an NBA player either.
Grade: B

Dallas Mavericks
One cannot give the Mavericks a grade as they did not make any selections on Thursday night. The first round pick ultimately became Mitch McGary to the Thunder after Dallas traded a first round pick to the Lakers for Lamar Odom (that worked out well), the Lakers traded this pick along with Derek Fisher for Jordan Hill to Houston, who then traded the pick to Oklahoma City in the grand larceny that was the James Harden trade.
Grade: Inc.

Denver Nuggets
Denver made a sensible trade with the Bulls to move back in the first round while picking up an additional first rounder in the Doug McDermott deal. I do not love Jusuf Nurkic and he does not fill a need, but that also makes sense as a draft and stash kind of player. I absolutely loved the Gary Harris selection as he was a total steal at 19 (I had Denver drafting him at 11 in my final mock) and he will definitely help upgrade the two guard spot along with Aaron Afflalo. Nikola Jokic is a nice draft and stash prospect in the second round that has some size and game to work with.
Grade: B+

Detroit Pistons
Stan Van Gundy and consigliere Jeff Bower both have a lot of work to turn this franchise around and losing their first round pick from the Ben Gordon-Corey Maggette trade with the Bobcats/Hornets. However, I really liked their second round selection of Spencer Dinwiddie. Here is a kid that could have been a lottery pick before tearing his ACL but he is a talented offensive point guard that could be the replacement of Rodney Stuckey in the backcourt.
Grade: A-

Golden State Warriors
The second team in the league that made no draft picks, although no move would come close to the rumored Kevin Love trade featuring Klay Thompson, Golden State originally had the 23rd selection that turned into the Jazz selecting Rodney Hood as part of the three team trade solely to create the cap room that allowed the team to trade for Andre Igoudala.
Grade: Inc.

Houston Rockets
The main goal of Houston's draft night was to clear up cap space for whomever they want to grab in free agency. Taking a stash prospect in the first round was an easy way to do that and in Clint Capela, mission accomplished. Capela is very talented and athletic, but also quite raw so Houston can wait a little. I really liked the Nick Johnson selection in the second round because while he may not have a position, he is an energetic defensive player and is very athletic. The team also bought the selection of Alessandro Gentile, another draft and stash guy that can score.
Grade: A-

Indiana Pacers 
Indiana also made no selections on Thursday night either. Their first round pick was a part of the Luis Scola move to acquire Luis Scola from Phoenix in exchange for the pick, Gerald Green and Miles Plumlee. That trade really blew up in their face as Scola was a big disappointment while Green played really well and Plumlee showed a lot of improvement as well.
Grade: Inc.

Los Angeles Clippers
Now I do like C.J. Wilcox as a player and I think he can be a solid NBA contributor. And after all in today's NBA, you can never have too many shooters. That said, what is the need here for the Clippers? They already have a great number of shooters and shooting guards on their roster, particularly after drafting Reggie Bullock a year ago. Los Angeles went into the draft with very little depth with their big guys and they leave the draft with very little depth at that spot.
Grade: C

Los Angeles Lakers 
The Lakers really needed to have a strong draft to upgrade a thin roster that will be hamstrung by the ridiculous Kobe Bryant contract, and I believe they did a great job. Julius Randle helps fill a major need in the frontcourt and he is the kind of aggressive post player that teams love, a la Zach Randolph. Jordan Clarkson, who was acquired by the team buying a pick from the Wizards went in the middle of the second round and probably should have went in the late first. He can play the point or some two-guard and while his shot was a little inconsistent with his shot but he excels at getting to the rim.
Grade: A

Memphis Grizzlies 
I like a lot of what Memphis did in the draft with their two selections in grabbing a pair of guys that fit what this franchise is trying to do. Now whether I would have taken Jordan Adams over Rodney Hood or P.J. Hairston is uncertain, I like Adams as a player. He is a very good scorer despite not being particularly athletic thanks to a good shot and a nice game at the rim. Adams also is aggressive defensively and is great at nabbing steals. Jarnell Stokes was a great value early in Round 2 as he could have easily gone late in the first. He helps fill the need for more depth in the frontcourt and his physicality in the paint should quickly endear him to the Memphis organization.
Grade: B+

Miami Heat
Did the Heat solely move up to take Shabazz Napier because that was the guy that LeBron James wanted? There is no way that that was not a factor but I think Napier was also an excellent fit with this Miami team to replace Mario Chalmers after the latter's disastrous performance in the Finals. Napier is a winner and he knows how to take big shots. He is great at shooting from the perimeter, something Chalmers was inconsistent with.
Grade: A

Milwaukee Bucks
Jabari Parker made it clear that he wanted to land in Milwaukee, relatively close to his Chicago home, and Milwaukee was more than willing to oblige considering their needs for offensive pop from the wing. Parker and Giannis Antetokounmpo will make for a fun frontcourt pairing going forward. I don't see the reason why they drafted a forward draft and stash prospect in Damien Inglis but folks seem to think he can become a nice player down the line. Shortly thereafter, they drafted a talented big man in Johnny O'Bryant who can score well down in the paint; he is a nice change of pace from the defensive big men on the Bucks already.
Grade: A-

Minnesota Timberwolves
I did not love the Zach LaVine selection for a number of reasons. Yes, he is extraordinarily talented and an athletic monster and he showed flashes of greatness at UCLA. However, those were little more than flashes at times as other times he disappeared from the court. Also, I felt that there were better wing prospects available in Gary Harris and James Young. Glenn Robinson III has the talent to make it in the pros but he was a little too inconsistent at Michigan. He can shoot very well from the perimeter but his shot was hit or miss in Ann Arbor.
Grade: C-

New Orleans Pelicans
The Pelicans did not have a first round pick thanks to the Jrue Holiday trade a year ago; New Orleans would have had the tenth overall pick which Philadelphia flipped to Orlando who then acquired Elfrid Payton. In the end, they were left with only a second round selection which they selected Russ Smith with. Smith is a little undersized for a point guard and was a little hot and cold during his days in Louisville but gives the team a needed reserve point guard that can make big shots.
Grade: C+

New York Knicks 
The Knicks did not have a first round pick but they made a tremendous selection in Cleanthony Early early in the second round. Early is a guy that should have gone in the first round as he is an excellent athlete that knows how to put the rock through the hoop. Next up is Thanasis Antetokounmpo, the brother of Giannis, who is not as talented as his brother is but has a tremendous work ethic. And hey, will these two small forwards be replacing Carmelo Anthony? Louis Laberiye is a foreign prospect whose selection New York bought from Indiana but he may be hard-pressed to make the roster.
Grade: B+

Oklahoma City Thunder
Both of Oklahoma City's selections were reaches, only with one being much more so of one that the other. Mitch McGary has the injury issues that saw him playing only a handful of games in 2013-14 and was bound for a suspension for pot prior to entering the draft. He is very raw offensively beyond being a tremendous passer and he should fit right in as a high-energy, boards and defender big. Josh Huestis, however, was a mid-to-late-second round prospect. Why take him over K.J. McDaniels or Cleanthony Early?
Grade: C

Orlando Magic
A lot of people, including myself, were surprised that Aaron Gordon was Orlando's selection at four but that does not mean it was a poor selection. In fact, I really liked the pick because I love Gordon. His shot needs a lot of work but he is the best athlete in this draft class and he already is a great defensive player. I look at him and see either Shawn Marion or Andrei Kirilenko. They eventually swapped picks with the 76ers to take Elfrid Payton in what I thought was a great move. He and Victor Oladipo will make for an elite defensive backcourt. Second round selection Roy Devyn Marble is skinny but he has can be a nice offensive guy off the bench.
Grade: A-

Philadelphia 76ers 
A lot of people are not liking what GM Sam Hinkie is doing with this draft class in that there will be no instant impact guys. I love it. First off, Philadelphia was going nowhere next year anyways. Second, I love that Hinkie is trying to build a great team down the road rather than an okay one right away (somewhat like what the Astros are doing). The injury concerns to Joel Embiid are worrysome but I love taking the risk on a guy has rare talent for a big man. Dario Saric is not coming to the NBA for, likely, two years but he is a very talented and unique prospect that will be worthwhile to develop. K.J. McDaniels is raw but was a tremendous value at 32 as he has can be an awesome defender on the perimeter and is obscenely athletic. Jerami Grant was also a great value at 39 and he is tremendous athletic as well. Vasilije Mici and Nemanja Dangubic are both draft and stash guys.
Grade: A-

Phoenix Suns
Suns GM Ryan McDonough really seems to know what he is doing down in the desert and the Suns did some nice work. T.J. Warren may not have been worth a lottery pick but he is also a guy whose games I really like. He should help give Phoenix even more options to play with on the wing. I was not crazy about Tyler Ennis at 19, not because I don't like Ennis (I do) but I did not see the need in the backcourt. Bogdan Bogdanovic makes sense in that one of the Phoenix trio of picks should probably be a foreign prospect to stash and he has a nice skill-set for a shooting guard. I like Alec Brown, but only for the fact that he played for Green Bay, not because I think he can make the team.
Grade: B

Portland Trail Blazers
The Trail did not make a selection in this draft, so we really cannot give them a grade even as their bench could sorely use some help. Their first round selection was traded to Charlotte as part of the Gerald Wallace trade which we all know turned a brilliant trade with the Nets for the selection that turned into Damian Lillard. Charlotte selected Shabazz Napier with the pick and then flipped him to Miami for the pick that turned into P.J. Hairston.
Grade: Inc.

Sacramento Kings
First off, I am relatively surprised that the Kings stayed with the eighth selection instead of needlessly trading the pick for a veteran just for the hell of it. Second, did they forget that they drafted a shooting guard a year ago in Ben McLemore? Have they soured on him too quickly, a la Thomas Robinson? And the thing is that I like Nik Stauskas and I think he has the game to be a very good NBA player. And I don't think this is a terrible pick by any stretch, just that this is a franchise that seems to be doing the same damn crap every year and wondering why they have not done anything in a while.
Grade: C+

San Antonio Spurs
Well the Spurs drafted a player who everybody thought would be a perfect fit for the system. Hell, the kid looks like a younger Boris Diaw, and we know how key he was in the NBA Finals. Anderson may not be thoroughly athletic or explosive, nor does he have a great jumper, but he is a gifted playmaker in the point-forward position.
Grade: A

Toronto Raptors
Everybody was floored by the selection of Bruno Caboclo with the 20th selection, partially because a lot of people had never heard of the guy and partially because the people who had were not thinking of him being a drafted prospect. Masai Ujiri is tremendous, for many reasons, but I see no reason why he could not have moved down to take Caboclo. At least they made a really nice second round selection in DeAndre Daniels, a talented two-way forward who peaked for UConn in the NCAA's. However, I still cannot get over that Caboclo pick. He is two years away, from being two years away.
Grade: D-

Utah Jazz
Nobody is denying that Dante Exum is the big mystery of this NBA Draft. And whenever somebody takes a foreign prospect, some people automatically assume he will become Nikoloz Tskitishvili (one of the classic lazy opinions I love come draft time). I am bullish on Exum and I think he has the skill-set and the talent to become a heck of an NBA player, and I think he will form a talented backcourt with Trey Burke (I do think Exum is a two-guard). The second first round pick was from the cap deal with Golden State a year ago and I think they got a great value on Rodney Hood, who will help their shooting immediately. A great haul.
Grade: A

Washington Wizards
And finally, the Wizards are the fifth team that did not make a pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. Their first rounder was sent to Phoenix as part of the Marcin Gortat trade before the season and turned into the Suns selecting Tyler Ennis. The Wizards also sold their second round selection to the Lakers, leading to a steal for the Lakers in Jordan Clarkson and a tremendous article by Mike Prada.
Grade: Inc.

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