NBA Draft Grades

Steve O Speak

Atlanta Hawks: D-

The Hawks traded away their first round pick (18th overall) as part of the deal for Kirk Hinrich. In the second round they landed center Keith Benson, but unless they make some moves they might not have room for him on the roster.

Although you’d think Hinrich would make this draft look better, remember the 18th pick was only a part of that deal as they traded Jordan Crawford and Mike Bibby (whom was bought out meaning cap space) as well. They overpaid, and now they are without even a solid player from this draft class.

Boston Celtics: B

Boston swapped 1st round picks and ended up with PF JaJuan Johnson and a future 2nd rounder. They also picked up E’Twaun Moore in 2nd round.

Overall I thought Boston did really well, instead of reaching for a player they moved back and picked up a future pick, and still landed a guy that makes sense for them. Johnson helps add to the lack of size in beantown right now, and he is a solid defender. Moore was a great pickup in the late 2nd round. While most teams were going with Euroleague reaches at that point, hoping they’d develop into something 3-4 years from now, the Celtics took a guy who can play this year. Moore will never be a starter, but he can be a solid role player and should be like a 4th guard on the team. Given the importance of their starting guards having that quality depth is important so you can rest them more in blowouts.

Charlotte Bobcats: B

Despite having two top 10 picks and saving some money in their trade, I hesitate to give Charlotte an A for this draft. Overall I like both Bismark Biyombo and Kemba Walker, but Brandon Knight was sitting there at number 7, and I think he is better than both Walker and Biyombo. If the Bobcats took Knight at 7, they would only have to hope the Pistons don’t take Biyombo at 8, to land him as well. And even if the Pistons took Biyombo, you still have a number of promising players on the board, like say one of the Morris twins.

To me both Biyombo and Walker were slight reaches and the Bobcats didn’t roll the dice on Knight, which is enough of a knock in my book. I also didn’t understand dealing their 2nd rounder Jeremy Tyler for just cash considerations. I absolutely hate that as a rebuilding team, especially when Tyler could have some upside (and def. has size) which is lacking on this roster.

Chicago Bulls: B-

I like the Bulls trading up to get a high upside guy in Nikola Mirotic, but I worry it might be 3+ years before he comes over. If it is just one season that is fine, but any longer than that and I don’t really get it. Adding Jimmy Butler gives them a capable wing player who can guard both the 2 and the 3. It’s a solid draft considering they were drafting so late.

Cleveland Cavaliers: C+

I know the Cavs had two of the top 4 picks, but I thought their draft strategy was flawed from the very beginning. Sure they landed PG Kyrie Irving and PF Tristan Thompson, but I think they could have done so much better. For me Derrick Williams was the best player in this draft and considering that the Cavs had nothing at SF, he made the most sense. By taking him at 1 the Cavs ensured themselves that they would either get a PG (Irving or Brandon Knight) or a Center (Enes Kanter) at 4. Instead by taking Irving they had to reach for Thompson over Knight since he was no longer a need.

I also don’t like it because if you currently look at the Cavs roster their 4 best players are PG’s Baron Davis and Ramon Sessions and PF’s J.J. Hickson and Antwan Jamison, and those are the two positions you addressed with the 1st and 4th picks. Now Irving should be better than Sessions and Davis, and they can now go on the trade block, as will Jamison, but the point is the upgrade won’t be too much next season. And this is still a team without any real production from their SG, SF and C.

Although not as important their 2nd round strategy was also really bad. They traded away a quality player in Justin Harper (while he was another 4, he could be a stretch 3 as well) for two 2nd rounders. And while they traded a redundant guy, they could have taken a guy like Kyle Singler, Tyler Honeycutt, Jeremy Tyler etc. who would have filled an actual need. Maybe they wouldn’t be starters, but I think they could crack the rotation. As for the other 2nd rounder they took a Euro guy who might not ever come over. With again guys who could maybe crack the least talented roster in the NBA still on the board.

Dallas Mavericks: B

While I like the pickup of Rudy Fernandez for them, I was a big fan of Jordan Hamilton and would have just kept him as a quality role player. Fernandez is more of a sure thing, but I don’t see this as anything but an average move for Dallas.

Denver Nuggets: B+

Not only did the Nuggets swap an unhappy player, for one that should be a better fit in the Raymond Felton-Andre Miller swap, but they picked up an extra 1st rounder. I love both of the Nuggets 1st rounders Kenneth Faried and Jordan Hamilton so they get high marks for me. The one thing I don’t understand is how Hamilton fits in, as Denver is quite deep at the 3. Regardless it is a good player to pick up, that should give them trade flexibility later this season.

Detroit Pistons: A-

I love the Brandon Knight pick in the first round as I think he is an impact player in this league. By taking him the Pistons can move Rodney Stuckey to the 2, and now have a nice little core with Greg Monroe as well. I wasn’t as impressed with Singler at the top of the 2nd, but he has some ability and has a low floor (he won’t be a bust).

Golden State Warriors: A-

I’m a huge fan of their draft overall. I love Klay Thompson and think that he and Stephen Curry will basically have a 3-point shooting contest each night. While some people don’t like Thompson, because they don’t see the upside, I really disagree. He’s not exceptionally quick or athletic, but he is an excellent shooter with outstanding basketball intelligence. In the 2nd round they landed Charles Jenkins and traded cash for Jeremy Tyler, adding a PG and a big man, which I thought was great. The additions of Jenkins and Thompson will likely allow the Warriors to deal Monte Ellis this season for hopefully another piece.

Houston Rockets: B

I really liked all three of the Rockets picks in F Marcus Morris, PF Donatas Motiejunas, and SF Chandler Parsons, and I like the acquisition of Johnny Flynn as well (though they gave up a future protected 1st round pick). What I don’t understand is where are all these guys going to play. The Rockets were pretty set at SF and PF (not to mention PG), so I just don’t know where they all fit in. Maybe they will look to make current PF Jordan Hill more of a center and possibly Motiejunas as well, but that could be a reach of a projection. The Rockets have a ton of good players, but could be best served by packing some for a more impact player or a true center.

Indiana Pacers: B

I like their trade for George Hill, but they gave up both of their draft picks to do it. There will be some risk involved, but this was a playoff team, so who knows it could pan out.

LA Clippers: C

I know the loss of the top pick stings for the Clippers, but they had no way of knowing that would happen and they had to rid themselves of Baron Davis. LA did redeem themselves with a pair of solid 2nd rounders in Travis Leslie and Trey Tompkins (who were teammates at Georgia). Both have some solid upside and should be good role players for the Clippers.

LA Lakers: C+

The Lakers had 4 2nd round picks, but only the first two deserve a mention (they did pick up a future 2nd rounder for one), in PG Darius Morris and SG Andrew Goudelock. Morris has some legitimate upside and could develop into a solid starter 3 years from now, but Goudelock is likely a 12th man at best. It would have been better if the Lakers added some size, and they might regret that.

Memphis Grizzlies: B+

The Grizzlies only had a 2nd rounder, but they might have hit a homerun in Josh Selby, who is a combo guard with quality starting upside. He could end up a steal of this draft class, so great move by Memphis.

Miami Heat: B

The Heat traded up from the 2nd round to land PG Norris Cole and I think they made a smart move. A lot of guards were off the board and getting the guy they wanted was key. Cole could develop into a better guy to run this offense than Chalmers and gives them some decent upside.

Milwaukee Bucks: B

They added some talent in 3-way trade and still landed a quality prospect in Tobias Harris. Add that with a solid 2nd rounder in Jon Leuer and I’d call it a pretty good day for them.

Minnesota Timberwolves: B+

Mainly this grade is due to landing Williams, but their multiple trade backs, brought them value in a future 1st rounder and a ton of cash. Also they netted Malcolm Lee who should replace Johnny Flynn.

New Jersey Nets: B

I like the Nets pick of Marshon Brooks, despite it not being the biggest need, and Jordan Williams was great value in the 2nd round. The pick I don’t get was the 31st pick, as he is a good Euro player, but won’t be over in the next few years. The Nets need to show they can win right now and I think there were role players on the board that could have helped.

New York Knicks: C

I like both Iman Shumpert and Josh Harrellson (and just giving up cash to get the latter), but thought that there were way to many better options on the board at 17 than Shumpert. This was a big risk and one that could come back to bite them.

New Orleans Hornets: F

They didn’t have a pick in this draft and the trades they made didn’t net them any big pieces.

Oklahoma City Thunder: B

I like the Reggie Jackson pick, but he is really redundant on this team. Maybe that means Maynor is on his way out, but right now it is a bit of a head scratcher. Good value for the pick though.

Orlando Magic: B-

While they didn’t have a 1st rounder I thought the Magic did good in acquiring two young role players in Justin Harper and DeAndre Liggins. Both should give them good bench depth and help this team out going forward.

Philadelphia 76ers: D+

I see Nikola Vucevic as a huge reach for the 16th pick and feel that LaVory Allen was not even worth being drafted in the 2nd round. I really question this draft and feel that it was a huge misstep.

Phoenix Suns: B

I really like the Suns pick of Marikeff Morris and thinks he will be an instant upgrade on this team.

Portland Trailblazers: B-

I actually like the Nolan Smith pick, and feel that he can be a solid backup guard for Portland. This wasn’t a great draft, but I thought Smith had 1st round value.

Sacramento Kings: C+

Their part in the 3 way trade made zero sense, since they lost draft position and in my book the better player, but afterwards I thought they rebounded. Jimmer Fredette is a bit of a risk, but I also am a believer in him. I think he can play and compliments Tyreke Evans very well. I also liked adding a pair of solid 2nd rounders in Honeycutt and Isiah Thomas.

San Antonio Spurs: A-

They gave up George Hill for Kawhi Leonard and David Bertans, but I think it was worth it. Leonard helps them this year, and Bertans is a great stash player, even if it takes 2 years. In addition they picked up a young PG in Cory Joseph who will replace Hill as the backup to Tony Parker.

Toronto Raptors: B

Jonas Valanciunas should make this pick an A, but there is at least some question as to whether or not he can be bought out this year. If the Raptors need to wait a year than this pick was a bit of a waste.

Utah Jazz: A-

I thought the Jazz did well in playing the field and taking the top center and waiting to see what PG would fall to them. I really like Kanter and thinks he gives Utah another legit big. While I’m sure the Jazz were hoping for Jimmer or Kemba, landing Alec Burks is pretty good. Utah came out of this draft with two guys who should be quality starters by year two and that is a win.

Washington Wizards: B+

The Wizards did well landing 3 quality players in this draft in PF Jan Vesely, SF Chris Singleton and PG Shelvin Mack, but I don’t see this as an overall win. Vesely has some real holes in his game, and he at times looks like a SF in a PF’s body. Singleton is a great defender, but the Wizards needed a scorer that Wall could distribute to. And while Mack is a good pick, he will be only a bench player in Washington. I would have liked to have seen them possibly go for Hamilton or Tyler with their 18th and 34th picks. It’s not an awful draft, but I don’t know if it is a great one either.

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