24 June 2016

2016 NBA Draft: Team Grades

(AP)
The 2016 NBA Draft was last night so naturally the next question has to be how did each and every NBA franchise do last night? Well, here's my take.

Atlanta Hawks
Atlanta Hawks (2016 - Pres)The Hawks acquired the 12th pick by way of the Jeff Teague trade and while Taurean Prince was a bit of a reach at that point, and probably would have still been available by the 21st pick, he is a good fit for what they like to do. After all, he is a very good shooter, gets it done on the boards and has some versatility on the wings. They then continued on the wing push by taking DeAndre Bembry but he is an interesting fit considering he's not much of a shooter. However, he has some ability to create offense and he can be a tough defender.
Grade: B

Boston Celtics
Boston Celtics (2015 - Pres)
Perhaps the biggest disappointment for the Celtics has to be that they were unable to move any of their picks for pieces that could contribute right now. I like Jaylen Brown but I think that three was a little too early for him considering his inconsistent freshman campaign at Berkeley. That said, he has all the tools to become the kind of two-way weapon on the wing that they have sorely lacked. Their next two picks were draft-and-stash prospects but while Ante Zizic was a solid value at 23, Guerschon Yabusele was a total reach at 16. However, Notre Dame guard Demetrius Jackson was a great value at 45 and I think Ben Bentil at 51 could be a useful bench scorer.
Grade: C

Brooklyn Nets 
Brooklyn Nets (2013 - Pres)It is a little odd that the Nets got the 20th pick for Thaddeus Young while Marco Belinelli was dealt for the 22nd pick but whatever. It did get back into the first round but I didn't love what they did with the selection. Caris LeVert has some scoring talent and he can create his own shot but he also has some serious injury concerns thanks to stress fractures in his feet. Then they went for a local guy in Isaiah Whitehead but he has got some bad habits (namely looking for his shot and only his shot) but he has got great court vision and if he gets his act together, could be a good scorer off the pine.
Grade: C+

Charlotte Hornets
Charlotte Hornets (2015 - Pres)
As I just aluded to, the Hornets traded the 22nd pick to Sacramento in exchange for Marco Belinelli. Now while Belinelli is another solid perimeter shooter for a club that really has come to value the threeball, is he really worth the 22nd pick in the draft? After all, he really wasn't that good during his sole season with the Kings. That was their sole pick in this draft so one really cannot give them a grade considering that fact.
Grade: Inc. 

Chicago Bulls
Chicago Bulls (1967 - Pres)
After the Derrick Rose trade, I was fully expecting the Bulls to take a point guard with the 14th pick, specifically Wade Baldwin IV. Instead, they went with Michigan State's own Denzel Valentine and while the need for a wing may not be as much as for a point guard, Valentine's skills as a playmaker should help fit into that need. Plus, Fred Hoiberg is creative enough of an offensive mind to take full advantage. However, Valentine also has some injury concerns with his knees that could hinder his full potential.
Grade: B+

Cleveland Cavaliers
Cleveland Cavaliers (2011 - Pres)
The NBA champions only had one pick in this draft and it came late in the second round after they bought the 54th selection from the Hawks. They used said pick on Oakland point guard Kay Felder, a great name by the way, and I think it could prove to be a worthwhile decision. Felder may only stand 5'9" but you could make a case that his height is what mostly kept him from going earlier. After all, he has got some noticeable scoring talents and with Mo Williams and Matthew Dellavedova both being free agents, he's got a shot to make the squad.
Grade: A-

Dallas Mavericks
Dallas Mavericks (2002 - Pres)Dallas is another club that only had one selection in the draft and it was one late in the second round, a range in which it can be hard to find solid, consistent contributors. A.J. Hammons had himself a really nice senior season at Purdue but he slipped in the second round because he is still very raw, he struggles with his conditioning and his motor. But Hammons definitely has some skills, namely nice touch around the hoop, and he is a good athlete as well. Given the team's needs at the center, he could be worth a shot.
Grade: B

Denver Nuggets
Denver Nuggets (2009 - Pres)
I think it is safe to say that the Nuggets were happy to see Kentucky guard Jamal Murray fall to them at the seventh pick. After all, they really could use a knockout shooter to develop next to Emmanuel Mudiay and Murray has got the skills to be just that. Murray has got the skills from all over the floor but he isn't an amazing athlete. Juan Hernangomez is a solid draft-and-stash prospect as he can hit the outside shot while Malik Beasley gives them another solid shooter to help space the floor. And then you've got French big Petr Cornelie who also has got the ability to be a useful stretch four.
Grade: A-

Detroit Pistons
Detroit Pistons (1980 - 1996)
I was very surprised to see Henry Ellenson available at the 18th selection but heym he fell into a pretty good fit with the Pistons. When you have a center like Andre Drummond that does a lot of things really well, but also is the classic back to the basket center, you need to pair with him with a power forward that can stretch the floor and Ellenson is that guy. He could also play at center as well but the questions with him surround his athleticism and his defense. But, perhaps Stan Van Gundy can do some work with him.
Grade: A

Golden State Warriors
Golden State Warriors (2011 - Pres)For what it's worth, I correctly projected the Warriors taking Vanderbilt center Damian Jones with thr 30th pick in my final mock draft so I'll just give myself one of these. After all, both Festus Ezeli and Andrew Bogut are free agents this offseason and while the Warriors do like to play small, they also like to utilize a more natural center at times as well. Jones has got the skills to be a quality rim protector down low and he has the athleticism and the explosiveness to power it down as well. The Dubs then bought the 38th pick from Milwaukee and took the talented yet raw Patrick McCaw in another solid selection.
Grade: B

Houston Rockets
Houston Rockets (2004 - Pres)
The Rockets did not pick until the 37th selection in the second round but with their two picks, they addressed their need of greater depth in the frontcourt. When you have a guy like James Harden leading the charge, you don't need to surround him with guys that contribute much offensively and that's a good thing for Louisville center Chinanu Onuaku as he has got next to no offensive game. He is a stout defender in the paint but so is Clint Capela, already on the roster. Chinese big Zhou Qi has some offensive tools (solid touch around the rim and and nice distribution skills) alongside with a 7'8" wingspan but he is extremely raw and needs to bulk up big time. In short, he won't be much of a contributor anytime soon.
Grade: B-

Indiana Pacers
Indiana Pacers (1977 - 1990)
After dealing the 20th selection to the Nets in exchange for veteran forward Thaddeus Young, Indiana lacked a pick until well into the second round and pick 50, which they used on Iowa State forward Georges Niang. Niang is a classic forward tweener in which he isn't quite big enough to play the four but not quite athletic enough to play the three. What makes him a good fit is that when in Ames, he played in an uptempo offense not unlike what the Pacers are going to run and he can handle the ball and create for others. But who he defends will be a continuing concern.
Grade: B

Los Angeles Clippers
Los Angeles Clippers (2011 - 2015)One of the bigger needs for the Clippers for several years now has been more depth in the frontcourt and they utilized two of their three draft picks to try to address that. Brice Johnson, a four year player for the Tar Heels, should be able to contribute right away after a stellar senior season as he is a quality scorer in the paint and works the glass hard. Diamond Stone at pick 40 is very raw but he has got the ability to be a quality center. Right before Stone was Frenchman David Michineau, a draft and stash point guard. Surprisingly, no reinforcements for the wings.
Grade: C+

Los Angeles Lakers
Los Angeles Lakers (1977 - 2001)In what was considered by many to be a two person draft, the Lakers got the second person but even then, they made out pretty well. Brandon Ingram was not that far off from Ben Simmons on my hypothetical big board as he is a ttremendous shooter, can create for himself one-on-one and is unselfish. The comparisons to Kevin Durant may be a little too much but hey, they are there for a reason. Then the Lakers came out 30 picks later with a steal in Croatian center Ivica Zubac and he has got the talent to be a starting NBA center with the right development. All in all, a very good job by Showtime.
Grade: A

Memphis Grizzlies
Memphis Grizzlies (2005 - Pres)
Safe to say that I really liked what Memphis did in this draft. I didn't think that Wade Baldwin IV was going to last past the Bulls but I bet the Grizzlies were fortunate to take him at 17 and he brings the kind of 3-and-D game that will endear himself to the fans of this franchise. Even if Mike Conley sticks around, he'll make an impact. I don't get why Deyonta Davis fell into the second round but Memphis traded up to get him and it was a good move. Davis' defensive skills fit with the Grizzlies' mindset well and he can knock down jumpers. He is definitely a little raw but in the second round, he's a total value pick. And Serbian forward Rade Zagorac may be a draft-and-stash guy but his shooting skills will be useful.
Grade: A

Miami Heat
Miami Heat (1989 - 1999)
The Heat entered last night's draft with exactly zero selections and they ended it having made zero selections so as a result, I really can't give them a grade. Interestingly enough, their first round pick originally was moved to Cleveland as part of the LeBron James acquisition way back in 2010 and then got moved from Cleveland to Philadelphia as part of the Kevin Love trade. So in the end, I think the Cavaliers made out well in that trade.
Grade: Inc. 

Milwaukee Bucks
Milwaukee Bucks (1979 - 1993)
Milwaukee has the distinction of having the first major stunner of a draft pick in taking Thon Maker at the tenth pick. Considering how much of an unknown Maker is, he certainly has talent and skill but he is far away from being NBA-ready plus his age is a question, taking him in the top ten is pretty crazy. I understand that they had a big success in Giannis Antetekounmpo a few years back but he wasn't a reach like Maker is now where he was drafted. Malcolm Brogdon was taken next at pick 36 and while he is a little undersized and not a great athlete, he's a smart athelete that should be a useful 3-and-D wing.
Grade: D+

Minnesota Timberwolves
Minnesota Timberwolves (2009 - Pres)Considering how long the rumors regarding them trying to swing a deal with the Bulls for Jimmy Butler, some may be surprised that something did not work out between the two but in the end, I think the Timberwolves made out well with Kris Dunn. Dunn seems like a great fit to play the point under Tom Thibodeau considering how good he is defensively. But he also is no scrub offensively as he has great court vision and has an improving jumper that could keep defenses at bay.
Grade: A

New Orleans Pelicans
New Orleans Pelicans (2014 - Pres)I'll be honest, and I do like Buddy Hield and I think he could be a quality NBA player but in the end, I would have gone with Jamal Murray instead. But alas, what's done is done. Hield is the top shooter in this draft and he should be able to score plenty of points from the get-go as he can nail down the threeball and help space the floor. However, he isn't an amazing athlete and I don't see him contributing a whole lot defensively in his career. Cheick Diallo was thought by some to be going late in the first so getting him at pick 33 is decent value. He's definitely raw since he didn't play a lot at Kansas but defensively, he's got the skills to be an impact guy.
Grade: B

New York Knicks
New York Knicks (1979 - 1979)
The Knicks made precisely zero selections during Thursday's draft (say thank you, Andrea Bargnani) but that was a storyline that got buried in the wake of the big trade bringing Bulls point guard Derrick Rose to Midtown. As I said to my cronies, I think that it could turn into a solid pickup for the Knickerbockers if, and really only if, Rose can stay healthy. It is such a question mark that who really knows.
Grade: Inc. 

Oklahoma City Thunder
Oklahoma City Thunder (2009 - Pres)The Thunder parted with Serge Ibaka and in return from the next team on this list, they got back Victor Oladpio, Ersan Illyasova and 11th pick Domantas Sabonis. In my opinion, even as I think Oladipo may be a little overrated, that's a pretty good haul. Sabonis is a fiery guy, which should make him fun to watch next to Steven Adams, and we all know about his bloodlines. What you should also know about Sabonis is that he's not afraid to be physical and he can score with his back to the basket. And if he can get anything out of his jump shot, that'll be a plus.
Grade: B+

Orlando Magic
Orlando Magic (2001 - 2010)
The Magic only made one selection and it came in the second round with UNLV big Stephen Zimmerman. Zimmerman didn't exactly light the world on fire during his sole season in Vegas but he has got some skills to work with as he can shoot and he is mobile, he also isn't particularly good on the boards and he has got a lot of work to do defensively. But this draft will be defined by the Serge Ibaka trade, which I have a couple reservations about. First off, I think they may have given up a little too much. Second, now his presence will effectively block Aaron Gordon.
Grade: C

Philadelphia 76ers
Philadelphia 76ers (1998 - 2009)
You could have made a very good case in my opinion for the Sixers to take Brandon Ingram with the first pick, I do think they made the right call in Ben Simmons. Simmons is not a perfect prospect (and who is, in all honesty), and he may have to fight for time in a busy frontcourt, the talents that he does possess are somewhere between really fun and spectacular. What made their draft even better was a pair of quality value picks in Euro wings Timothe Luwawu and Furkan Korkmaz. Both should have gone ten picks earlier than they did but both have the skills to really improve a truly disgraceful perimeter situation in Philadelphia.
Grade: A

Phoenix Suns
Phoenix Suns (1993 - 2000)I am not surprised at all to see the Suns take two power forwards with their first two picks considering how big of a need it is. Both Dragan Bender and Marquese Chriss (for whom they traded up for from 13) are very raw but with patience and a little elbow grease, both have the talent to be dangerous stretch fours since both have range out to the perimeter. Not to mention that both players went in right around their correct range (from what I thought). And then the Suns went out and made a great pick in Tyler Ulis in the second round. They didn't really need another point but I will go on the record and say that I like the undersized Ulis a lot.
Grade: A

Portland Trail Blazers
Portland Trail Blazers (1991 - 2002)Portland originally did not have any picks in this draft but they sent out cash to get back in by way of pick 47 to take Jake Layman. Now I am on record of having a cornucopia of problems and issues with the University of Maryland but Layman was not a terrible prospect. After all, we love 3-and-D guys in the league these days and he's got a little bit of athleticism. But it also is hard to see where he will get his playing time considering how many small forwards that are already in the mix with the Trail.
Grade: C-

Sacramento Kings
Sacramento Kings (2017 - Pres)There are some times where I wonder if the Kings will ever get it and ever get it right. Trading back with the Suns to go from eight to 13 was fine but taking Georgios Papagiannis with that selection was, to be frank, a disgrace. After all, we're talking about a second-round prospect that, although he does have a little bit of talent and is very strong, he also plays the same position as DeMarcus Cousins and Willie Cauley-Stein. And while Skal Labissiere was a great value at pick 28, he also plays the same position! Malachi Richardson was not a bad value after they traded up considering their hole on the wing, but I have questions about his efficiency, or lack of it, in his time in Syracuse.
Grade: D

San Antonio Spurs
San Antonio Spurs (2003 - Pres)
While some teams clown around and make fools of themselves, the Spurs instead just sit back and let quality prospects fall right into their lap. Considering that Dejounte Murray is not a particularly great shooter and turns the ball over like a moth, he may make for an interesting fit with what Gregg Popovich likes to run but he is also a quality ballhandler and can really push the action in the open floor. For a point guard, he also is bigger than the average player at said position.
Grade: A-

Toronto Raptors
Toronto Raptors (1996 - 2008)I projected that the Raptors would use the ninth pick, which did once belong to the New York Knicks, on a big and specifically a big named Jakob Poeltl and would you look at that. After all, Bismack Biyombo is a free agent and after his huge postseason, he's going to cash in elsewhere in all likelihood. He probably won't be able to play the four next to Jonas Valanciunas but Poeltl is both a solid scorer in the paint, a stout defender and an aggressive rebounder. Taking Pascal Siakam may have been overkill and likely a reach but he could help replace some of what Biyombo brought.
Grade: B-

Utah Jazz
Utah Jazz (1980 - 1996)
Not a huge night for the Jazz and that's okay in their eyes, I would presume. After all, they already have a young and talented roster so only taking a trio of guys late in the second round is fine business and particularly so after they brought in George Hill to start at the point. Joel Bolomboy was pretty productive at Weber State and he can really get after it on the boards. He was a solid pick but for them to take two more point guards after the Hill deal was odd. It is very hard to see where Marcus Paige and Tyrone Wallace make the team.
Grade: C

Washington Wizards
Washington Wizards (1998 - 2007)The Wizards did not do anything on draft night since they had no picks. In fact, they probably didn't even bother to set up a war room at all. And considering how they are trying to win now, while also trying to make a splash in free agency this offseason, I don't think they are much too worried about it. But then again, what or who do I know about all of this?
Grade: Inc. 

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