27 June 2015

2015 NBA Draft: Team Grades

It was going down for real on Thursday for the 2015 NBA Draft but ultimately, there was as much craziness as many folks thought there would be. In the end, how did each organization make out with their selections last night in Brooklyn? Here's my insight and analysis.
1st Round Grades

Atlanta Hawks
The Hawks came very close to getting a lottery pick from the Nets thanks to the Joe Johnson trade but in the end, they traded down with Washington to the 19th selection and some future second round picks and then traded that pick to New York in exchange for Tim Hardaway, Jr. Hardaway did show some promise as a rookie but was a disappointment last season and I don't know if he is worth that selection. Both of their second round selections, Marcus Eriksson out of Sweden and Dimitrios Agravanis, were draft-and-stash prospects.
Grade: C-

Boston Celtics
Given that the Celtics already have a number of guards already on their roster, seeing them taking three last night was a little odd (although Marcus Thornton, picked 45th, will have an uphill battle to make the team). R.J. Hunter made sense because the club really needs some perimeter shooting and he may just be the best shooter on the team right away. However, selecting Terry Rozier, and especially selecting him at 16, was both surprising and confounding. He doesn't fill a need whatsoever and he is similar to other defense-first guards Marcus Smart and Avery Bradley. On the other hand, Jordan Mickey was a very good pick early in the second as he will bring some much-needed shot-blocking.
Grade: C

Brooklyn Nets
They did have to part with Mason Plumlee in order to acquire Rondae Hollis-Jefferson but he was not a good fit next to Brook Lopez and was a disappointment down the stretch. I like Hollis-Jefferson a lot even as his jumper is a mess because he should be an exceptional defender right away thanks to his great athleticism, length and effort. He could be a potential replacement for Thaddeus Young. Chris McCullough was their other first-round selection and while he certainly is a risk as he is coming off a torn ACL, he showed lottery talent before then and for a team with little picks to work with going forward, he is a nice developmental prospect.
Grade: B+

Charlotte Hornets
Frank Kaminsky will help fill a serious need for offensive spacing and perimeter shooting and he could help fill the stretch four void that the team drafted Noah Vonleh a year ago to fill. Kaminsky does have some excellent offensive gifts but I am not as high on him as others are because as he is not all all that athletic or strong and thus could really struggle defensively. And considering that the team may have rejected as many as six draft picks to take him, they really seem to be higher on him than I am.
Grade: C+

Chicago Bulls
The Bulls are already loaded in their frontcourt and so Bobby Portis really did not fill a need. However, the value that Portis provided at the 22nd pick was too good to pass up (or somebody could be traded). He has an excellent motor, gets after it on the glass, has the strength to be a bully in the paint and he has a nice jumper out to the three-point arc (and perhaps beyond). He is not a great athlete but his skill-set should allow him to carve out a role under new coach Fred Hoiberg.
Grade: B+

Cleveland Cavaliers
Tyus Jones would have been a very good selection for the Cavaliers but they traded him for a pair of second-round picks which turned into Cedi Osman and Rakeem Christmas which should save them some money. Osman is a stash prospect out of Macedonia that could develop into a quality point forward in a few years. Christmas had his draft stock hurt by the fact that he is already 23 but he has talent and has really improved his offensive game. Sir-Dominic Pointer could be a useful defender off the bench but he has no offensive game.
Grade: B

Dallas Mavericks
While I didn't like that Dallas did not address their needs in the backcourt, I really liked their first-round selection of Justin Anderson. He will be a defensive stopper on the wing for a team that could really use one and he has shown improvement with his jump-shot to where he can be an effective three-and-D guy. He should fit right in into what Rick Carlisle likes to do on both ends of the court. Satnam Singh is an interesting prospect for many reasons and while he is a few years away from being close to being an NBA player, the flier is worth it late in the second round.
Grade: A-

Denver Nuggets
Given the selection of Emmanuel Mudiay, it seems that Ty Lawson's tenure with the Nuggets is winding down. Mudiay has the ideal physical tools for a point guard thanks to plus size and excellent athleticism and he could be a great fit in the kind of uptempo basketball that the Nuggets are known for (although it is not certain if new coach Michael Malone will employ it). He does have to work on his jumper and who knows if playing in China will have been a benefit instead of going to SMU. The Nuggets used the 57th pick on Serbian guard Nikola Radicevic but I would be surprised if he were to make the roster.
Grade: B+

Detroit Pistons
As I said on draft night, I was not a fan of the Pistons taking Stanley Johnson when Justise Winslow was still on the board. Either would have filled a big need for the Pistons at small forward and Johnson is certainly a talented player in his own right. He is an excellent defender and, as is all the rage right now, will be able to guard multiple positions. Johnson also has the ability to be a good two-way player but I thought Winslow has the higher ceiling on that end. Darrun Hillard was a solid college player but he is limited beyond a decent jump-shot and was taken too early.
Grade: C

Golden State Warriors
As I have said all along during this draft process, the Warriors were pretty set with their roster in terms of depth which gave them flexibility with the 30th pick. And when a player like Kevon Looney fell to them, they swooped him right up. Looney fell due to some injury concerns but it wasn't that long when he was thought of being a potential lottery pick. He has shown some impressive ability on the glass and can step outside and hit a shot as well.
Grade: A-

Houston Rockets
Sam Dekker did not help fill the team's hole at the point but he can fill a valuable role on the wing with Corey Brewer being a free agent. More importantly, he was a good value at 18 and can fit well into the Rockets' system since he plays well without the ball as he passes well and has great athleticism while showing the ability to hit the three. An even better value was Montrezl Harrell at the 32nd selection. Harrell offers little outside of put-backs and dunks offensively but he has got a great motor and athleticism and can be a menace down low and on the boards. He will help provide some key depth in the paint.
Grade: A

Indiana Pacers
Myles Turner is a bit of a project for a team that appears to be trying to win now and given how raw he is, he isn't likely to be a player that could contribute right away. However, he has a lot of talent and there are not too many seven-footers that can both block shots and space the floor by hitting threes. He makes sense as a future replacement for Roy Hibbert and help the team play a more exciting style of offense. Joseph Young draws some comparisons to fellow former Duck Aaron Brooks in that he is small and doesn't have a position but has some scoring pop to bring to a punchless backcourt.
Grade: B+

Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers only had one selection in the draft and they had to trade with the Pelicans to order to get it. With said pick they acquired Michigan State forward Branden Dawson. Dawson is a tweener in which he is not athletic enough to be at the three but not big enough to be a four and since he can't shoot, that limits what he can do offensively. However, he plays hard and tough and is solid defensively so he should be able to contribute to what was a terrible bench last season.
Grade: B-

Los Angeles Lakers
As I said last night, I was in the camp of the Lakers taking Jahlil Okafor over who they actually took, D'Angelo Russell. I understand the old school-new school argument and certainly Russell was a pretty good selection as he is an excellent player but the big need the Lakers have for a big continues. Larry Nance, Jr. was a nice story but also a reach at the 27th selection as they could have taken him in the second round and I don't see the position at which he fits at the next level. Anthony Brown was a better selection with the 34th pick. He should help make an immediate impact with his perimeter shooting, as should Russell, as the Lakers were awful from the perimeter last year.
Grade: B

Memphis Grizzlies
Jarell Martin is certainly talented and he showed flashes of it during his short time in Baton Rouge but he did not show it consistently as his effort was not always consistent. He has got the athleticism and the skill to be a force on both ends but his jump-shot is still a work in progress and his passing game is not that great either. Andrew Harrison was a bit of a disappointment at Kentucky but he is a better fit for the NBA game in my opinion and should be a solid backup for Mike Conley thanks to his plus size and his improving three-point shot
Grade: B-

Miami Heat
I made clear how much I liked Justise Winslow as a prospect and for the Heat to be able to get him with the tenth pick was a total steal in my opinion. Taking the best player on the board is usually a good strategy when you have a roster that lacks depth and has a lot of moving pieces this offseason. Winslow has the skills to be a really good two-way player on the wing, especially as he works on his perimeter shooting, and he will be good insurance in case Luol Deng leaves in free agency. The aforementioned lack of depth should give Josh Richardson a shot to make the roster even as he may not have been a draftable prospect.
Grade: A-

Milwaukee Bucks
Rashad Vaughn does help fill a team need of perimeter shooting and a young two-guard but he was also a reach at the 17th selection. Vaughn does have scoring talent but he also still is raw as he is 18 and not much upside on defense in playmaking. I also think they could have filled a bigger need like in the frontcourt with a better prospect to boot. They also made a draft-day trade for Grievis Vasquez who while he can be useful off the bench, I don't think he is worth a future first-rounder and the 46th pick.
Grade: D

Minnesota Timberwolves
Flip Saunders could have overthought the first pick and taken somebody other than Karl-Anthony Towns but in the end, he made the right call. Towns may not be an instant star but he has the talent to become one down the line. A Towns-Wiggins core is pretty intriguing for a franchise that has been lost since the Kevin Garnett trade. They then traded back into the first-round to take Tyus Jones and not only was he a good value at the 25th pick but he should be a good change-of-pace from Ricky Rubio at the point because his jumper has come along and he could excel coming off the bench. A very strong draft for the Wolves.
Grade: A

New Orleans Pelicans
The Pelicans did not have a first-round choice this year thanks to the trade for Omer Asik and as mentioned already, they traded their second-round selection to the Clippers. I am sure that the Pelicans would have liked to have had a draft pick but considering they are expected to be active in free agency this offseason as they work to build a championship-level club around Anthony Davis.
Grade: Incomplete

New York Knicks
You knew that Knicks fans were not going to like the selection of Kristaps Porzingis, this is a fanbase that loved the selection of Tim Hardaway, Jr. two years ago only because he was a familiar name and we know the track record of international lottery picks of late. That said, I am high on Porzingis and I am willing to bet that he is more likely to be a hit than a miss. Not only does he have prodigious talent, especially on the perimeter, for a seven-footer but unlike a Darko Milicic or a Nikoloz Tskitishvili, he is not just the product of a great workout. He played well in a tough league in Spain. The Knicks have to be patient and if they are, they can pay off big-time. They were able to turn Hardaway into Jerian Grant who should be an upgrade at the point thanks to his excellent passing ability. Guillermo Hernangomez is another big that can shoot and he was also a Porzingis teammate.
Grade: A-

Oklahoma City Thunder
The Thunder were reported to have been high on Cameron Payne and in the end, they took him with the 14th pick. He should help fill the void of a combo guard off the bench that Reggie Jackson filled before he was traded to Detroit, although his perimeter shooting could use a little work. He excels in the open court thanks to his excellent court vision and handles and is also a good passer. Dakari Johnson is a raw center as he didn't play much at Kentucky but his massive size and his high effort could find him useful as and especially so if he further develops.
Grade: A-

Orlando Magic
Even for a European prospect, Mario Hezonja should be able to make an instant impact due to his success in the best non-NBA league (Liga ACB) and for a team that has been brutal offensively at times over the past few seasons, he will be helpful. Hezonja has a lot of nice offensive tools as he can hit the outside shot and also slash to the basket. He also has the reputation of being a little headstrong and certainly needs to provide more consistent effort on defense but with his skill level and confidence, he can be a big-time player. Tyler Harvey can't do much more than shoot but that is also what the team needs.
Grade: A-

Philadelphia 76ers
Much has been made about the "process" for the 76ers and that discussion makes the Jahlil Okafor selection fascinating in my eyes. Okafor was the best player available but what is interesting is that he should be able to make an impact right away. Considering that Joel Embiid's injury issues are not going away, that is big but eventually when Embiid can play, the Sixers will have three bigs that were top-six picks but will not be able to play them all together at once. Their backcourt is still barren to boot. The Sixers have a bunch of second round picks (again) and took a couple of stash guys in Arturuas Gudaitis and Luka Mitrovic. Richaun Holmes has the ability to be an interesting back-up four and while guard J.P. Tokoto can't shoot, he is a great athlete and defends well.
Grade: B

Phoenix Suns
One of the reasons why the Suns took a step backwards last season offensively was, among other things, they lacked offensive spacing that was provided to them before from Channing Frye. Adding a big-time shooter from the perimeter then became a must and they happened to get one of the finest shooters in the draft when Devin Booker fell to them at 13. Even as the youngest player in the draft, his shot is good enough to make an immediate impact as the rest of his game develops.
Grade: A-

Portland Trail Blazers
The Trail Blazers are undergoing a major reshaping effort with their roster as LaMarcus Aldridge is on his way out as a free agent, Nicolas Batum has been traded to the Hornets in exchange for Noah Vonleh and Wesley Matthews is also a free agent. The team originally drafted Rondae Hollis-Jefferson but then they traded his rights along with Steve Blake to Brooklyn in exchange for Mason Plumlee and the rights to Pat Connaughton. Plumlee is the kind of athletic big man that should fit well under Terry Stotts and while Connaughton may pursue a baseball career, his excellent shot should help him find a role. Daniel Diaz is a stash prospect out of Spain.
Grade: B+

Sacramento Kings
Willie Cauley-Stein saw his draft stock dip the minds of some observers due to a past ankle injury but he makes a ton of sense for a Kings team that was dreadful defensively last season. Cauley-Stein projects to be a defensive force as he can guard all five positions. His offense certainly needs some work but he could develop into a passable mid-range jumper. Now the question will be whether he will be the replacement for DeMarcus Cousins or his frontcourt partner.
Grade: A-

San Antonio Spurs
Nobody does the draft-and-stash like the Spurs do it and they did it once again with their first-round selection with Serbian big Nikola Milutinov. Stashing a prospect makes sense as the Spurs have a number of free agents and are expected to go after LaMarcus Aldridge. Milutinov is a mobile seven-footer with an intriguing offensive game so he can be useful down the line. Cady Lelanne out of UMass can block shots and may be able to shoot a little bit too.
Grade: B

Toronto Raptors
The Raptors made a very good move in moving Greivis Vasquez for a future first-round pick and a second rounder that turned into Norman Powell, and then they filled the need for a reserve point guard in Delon Wright. He provides a nice contrast with Kyle Lowry because he runs an offense very well and is a good table-setter. Where he really excels is on defense and since Toronto was terrible defensively last season, his skill on that end will be a big plus. Powell is also a very good defender and he can be a surprise if he can get anything from his jumper.
Grade: B+

Utah Jazz
The Jazz had the ability to take a chance given the state of their roster and Lyles does give their talent frontcourt a little more versatility. However, I do not love Lyles' game as he is a face-up four that can't shoot threes, at least not yet, and he is also that not impressive of an athlete despite his size and length. He will need to show more than he did during his sole season in Lexington. On the other hand, I did like the team's second-round selection of BC guard Olivier Hanlan. He can provide some shooting to a team that could use some.
Grade: C+

Washington Wizards
It did not cost the Wizards a great deal to trade up from 19 to 15 to take Kelly Oubre but I was not a huge fan of the move because Oubre is so raw and because I didn't see the need being that big. His skills are very impressive but his game-tape in Lawrence was not all that impressive and he also has some work ethic questions. Aaron White is a versatile player as he showed at Iowa State but I don't see his future in the NBA since there isn't one thing he really excels at and he can't rebound.
Grade: D+

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