NBA Draft Team-by-Team Grades and Thoughts

Yes, handing out “grades” a day after the draft is silly, but so is ranking players before their careers even start. I don’t know why people always harp on grades in particular, but they’re interesting to me, so I figured I’d give them a shot. For teams that made trades, I’ll give them grades based on just prospect value/fit alone, and just my thoughts when it comes to the trades. In terms of best player available vs. fit, this article lays out many of the points on why I heavily prefer BPA, but I do still factor fit into my team evaluations of how they did.

Atlanta Hawks — Marcus Eriksson (50th), Dimitris Agravanis (59th): The Hawks did have the 15th overall pick, but swapped that to Washington for the 19th and 2 future seconds, and then proceeded to trade the 19th to the Knicks for Tim Hardaway Jr. The 15th/19th trade was a fine value exchange, but I can’t get behind the Hardaway trade. There were a lot of valuable guys on the board who easily project to potentially being better than Hardaway, Hardaway’s advanced numbers have been truly awful so far in his career. I didn’t really have an opinion on the two late second rounders as I haven’t scouted either of them, but there was a fair amount of domestic talent still on the board. If the Hawks were committed to going draft and stash I still would’ve preferred them go after someone like Luka Mitrovic, Mammahdou Jaiteh, or Ailun Guo. It’s possible Erikkson and Agravanis are good picks, but I feel like I would’ve heard a little more about them if they were more intriguing.

Draft Grade: C+

Boston Celtics — Terry Rozier (16th), R.J. Hunter (28th), Jordan Mickey (33rd), Marcus Thornton (45th): Hunter at 28th is both solid value and good fit, but other than that this Celtics draft was filled with reaches compared to my board. Specifically, Rozier at 16th is a mindboggling pick, his lack of an advanced offensive skill set prevents me from seeing him as a first-rounder, and he’s an awful fit in Boston with Bradley/Smart/Thomas all being there in the backcourt already. In the second round, Mickey at 33 was a reach on my board, but most of the big guys I had ahead of him ended up going undrafted so it isn’t an atrocious pick. Thornton looks like more of a clear mistake as it’s unclear what NBA skill he really has other than speed, and there is plenty of good point guard value to be had in the second round. Most of all, the Rozier pick looks like a huge mistake, and there were plenty of good options on the board; it might have been the biggest reach of the draft.

Draft Grade: C-

Brooklyn Nets — Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (23rd), Chris McCullough (29th), Juan Vaulet (39th): A consistently solid draft across the board, in both the drafting part, and the trade element. All three picks strike me as good or at least appropriate values, and if I were to update my big board Vaulet would probably slide into the mid/late 30s. The Plumlee trade also makes sense if the Nets are planning to keep Lopez around, Hollis-Jefferson is probably a similar level asset to Mason due to greater upside and downside, and a better fit with the Nets current team. If just one of their three picks can get a consistent jumper the Nets will have probably gotten great value in this draft.

Draft Grade: B+

Charlotte Hornets — Frank Kaminsky (9th): In a vacuum Kaminsky at 9th is fine value, but with Winslow sitting there after having fallen the Hornets could’ve made a big mistake. Even with MKG and Batum on the roster Winslow is enough of a BPA over Kaminsky that it is worth drafting him and figuring things out later, especially since Kaminsky isn’t even a great fit with the Hornets crowded frontcourt. Still, the value is fine so I’m not too down on the pick. In the second, the Hornets traded the 39th pick for two future second rounders, probably a solid value move.

Draft Grade: B-

Chicago Bulls — Bobby Portis (22nd): This is a great example of when fit should be ignored at the expense of BPA. Portis wasn’t my clear BPA, Kevon Looney, Christian Wood, and Tyus Jones were all ahead of him, but since Wood and Looney both slid due to injury and off-court concerns Portis might deserve to be ranked ahead of them each. I would’ve preferred them to go with Tyus, but Portis is a fine pick, and assuming the Bulls trade one of their four bigs he should end up providing fine value to the team over time.

Draft Grade: B

Cleveland Cavaliers — Cedi Osman (31st), Rakeem Christmas (36th), Sir’Dominic Pointer (56th): Trading the 24th pick for the 31st and 36th makes sense for a team that is going to be paying a humongous tax bill next season. Trading the rights to Tyus Jones for a non-shooting wing and not very good big makes less sense. Lebron is one of the few players who it might make more sense to draft for fit around, and neither Osman or Christmas is a great fit since neither space the floor well, and the Cavs already have three good traditional big men in Varejao, Thompson, and Mozgov. Even if you don’t want the first round pick, if the Cavs were going to give up a talent like Tyus Jones they should’ve gotten better talent in return. The Sir’Dominic Pointer pick is fine, but he’s another non-shooter, and they’re a team where it might’ve made more sense to gamble on one of the big guys who slid for off-court concerns.

Draft Grade: C-

Dallas Mavericks — Justin Anderson (21), Satnam Singh (52): The Anderson pick is a good value for the Mavericks and he could fit well on the wing there, though I would’ve loved them to go after Tyus Jones or Delon Wright, both who could’ve fit great in Carlisle’s scheme, and are probably better talents. The Satnam Singh pick is also probably fine, his package of size and some skill along with the market value he brings from Indian fans is worth a second round gamble, and I only left him out of my big board because I know nothing about him other than one DraftExpress video. Anderson pick was the important one, and while it wasn’t great, it wasn’t a big mistake either.

Draft Grade: B-

Denver Nuggets — Emmanuel Mudiay (7th), Nikola Radicevic (57th): Yes, I had Winslow>Mudiay on my board, and I do think the Nuggets should’ve taken him. However, the gap between them wasn’t huge, Mudiay is a good value at 7, and I could see him playing well at a fast pace in a typical Denver system. Hopefully, the Nuggets have a move lined up with Ty Lawson in order to really let Mudiay run the show. Radicevic is a fine pick late in the second, as with every team there are some guys I like they passed on, but Radicevic himself is fine value there. While Winslow might’ve netted them an A, the Mudiay pick was still a very good one, and he should turn into a nice player in Denver.

Draft Grade: B+

Detroit Pistons — Stanley Johnson (8th), Darrun Hilliard (38th): My criticisms here are very similar to Denver, I like Stan at the 8th pick, I just don’t like him when Winslow is still on the board. Winslow’s a better defender and slasher with similar upside as a shooter/playmaker, but Stan is ahead of him on those curves for now. A lot of teams might regret passing on Winslow, but the Pistons won’t regret taking Stan himself. In the second round Hilliard is probably a fine pick at 38th, but if they were going for a 3-and-D two guard they might’ve opted for Pat Connaughton, Michael Frazier, or Rayvonte Rice instead. Both picks are fine, but neither were ideal.

Draft Grade: B

Golden State Warriors — Kevon Looney (30th): He slid due to supposed hip and back concerns that may require surgery, and I’m not a doctor, but it sure seems like the Warriors got themselves a steal. Looney is a former top-10 recruit who looks like a top-10 prospect by draft models, moves well on defense, is long, shoots and handles pretty well for a 4, has decent passing vision, and rebounds the ball really well. The Warriors are sure to use him in creative ways in small ball lineups, maybe even paired next to Draymond Green, and he’s got the defensive quicks and length to execute the Warriors switching scheme. This is a rare combo of great fit and great value, as he was clearly the best player available on my board. It’s clear at this point that Bob Meyers really knows what he’s doing, and with a championship roster in tow it makes sense for the Warriors to take a gamble on a slight injury risk.

Draft Grade: A+

Houston Rockets — Sam Dekker (18th), Montrezl Harrell (32nd): Neither of these guys are very sexy picks in my mind, but of the players drafted I had Dekker 16th and Harrell 29th, so it is hard to say they didn’t come away with solid value. Again, I would’ve liked to see them go with Wright or Jones in Dekker’s slot, but Dekker could fit in well as a wing next to Harden if he shoots it well, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Rockets use him well in a small-ball role. Harrell joins a crowded Houston frontcourt, but I’m sure he will do well in the D-League on Houston’s fast-paced team seemingly made for his style, and if Morey isn’t convinced he’ll help the Rockets team out I bet he ends up flipping him for a better asset in the long run.

Draft Grade: B+

Indiana Pacers — Myles Turner (11th), Joseph Young (43rd): Turner at 11 was a great pick for the Pacers, as he was the best player on my board, and should learn how to play NBA defense well under Vogel. It looks like the Pacers will move Hibbert eventually, allowing Turner to play the 5 role he is more suited towards. I’m less than thrilled with the Young pick, as I don’t see him as an NBA talent, but nailing the Turner pick is much more important for the franchise’s future, and it looks like they did that.

Draft Grade: B+

Los Angeles Clippers — NADA: Doc the GM is no fun. (Actually, see the New Orleans section)

Draft Grade: N/A

Los Angeles Lakers — D’Angelo Russell (2nd), Larry Nance Jr. (27th), Anthony Brown (34th): Nice to see that the Lakers nailed the Russell/Okafor decision, I did not expect that. As long as Byron lets Russell shoot threes and he doesn’t let Kobe get too in his head Russell should have a bright future in LA. The Nance pick was a huge stunner for me, and though I liked him in the mid/early second round this was a reach, and my guess is the Lakers could’ve traded back and still gotten him. Brown is also not a great value, he’s got the tools to be a useful NBA player, but he’s just not a very good basketball player, he lacks instincts and toughness. Neither Nance or Brown are hellacious picks though, and here again nailing the big decision is by far the most important, and the Lakers did that.

Draft Grade: B

Memphis Grizzlies — Jarell Martin (25th), Andrew Harrison (44th): Martin at 25th screams reach to me, from both a talent and fit perspective, especially when they drafted a better PF named Ja-something-ell just last year in Jarnell Stokes. Martin is athletic and skilled, but he’s got short arms, bad instincts, and no one area he could clearly contribute in at an NBA level. Some smart people like his skills so I’m not super bearish on him, but count me a firm disbeliever in him turning into an NBA player. Harrison at 44th is a good value pick, with the presence of Russ Smith there already it might not be the best asset management, but I can’t argue with solid value in the second round. Most of the obvious talent was gone by Martin at 25, but Looney, or Hunter would’ve been significantly superior options.

Draft Grade: C

Miami Heat — Justise Winslow (10th), Josh Richardson (40th): Was Josh Richardson the best 3-and-D wing available at 40? Probably not. Does it matter after you’ve somehow walked away with Winslow at 10th overall? Almost definitely not. The Heat could’ve picked anyone they wanted at 40 and this draft would’ve been a win for them, having Winslow slide to 10 is simply great value for a potentially great defensive player with pretty good offensive game and the versatility to guard multiple positions. Whether Wade and Dragic come back are big questions, but a core of Bosh, Whiteside, and Winslow along with Deng is a great starting point for the Heat. Also, Josh Richardson isn’t a BAD pick, just not a good one.

Draft Grade: A

Milwaukee Bucks — Rashad Vaughn (17th): Giving up a second rounder and a future first for Greivis Vasquez when you already have Tyler Ennis, Michael Carter-Williams and maybe Kendall Marshall is simply not a good move. Also, reaching for Vaughn at 17th over one of the three small forwards on the board isn’t good enough value to reach for his shooting. The Bucks are crowded with big wings, bigs, and point guards so they reached for a shooting guard, it probably wasn’t worth it.

Draft Grade: C-

Minnesota Timberwolves — Karl Towns (1st), Tyus Jones (24th): They came away with the best player in the draft, and they flipped two second rounders for someone I had 15th overall, a simply great draft. Towns is an awesome pick, and I don’t know if they deserve credit for “not messing up”, but either way Minnesota fans have real reason to be excited. Jones is also great value, and can fit in well as a backup to Rubio, and maybe even play along side him some. Tyus/Ricky passing to Wiggins/Towns (and Lavine I guess) is going to be a joy to watch.

Draft Grade: A

New Orleans Pelicans — Branden Dawson (56th): I’m not sure if this pick got traded to the Clippers, but if so, it was a solid late round pick for whoever made it. I doubt Dawson makes it, but his stats and athleticism are worth a gamble.

Draft Grade: B

New York Knicks — Kristaps Porzingis (4th), Jerian Grant (19th): Trading Tim Hardaway for the 19th pick is a fantastic move by Phil Jackson. Drafting Grant over Wright and Jones, and drafting Porzingis 4th over a bevy of very good prospects are two of the worst moves of the night. Porzingis is one of the players I’m most down on, and I could be very wrong about him, but I doubt the Knicks will be happy with who they took him over 5 years from now. Grant isn’t awful value at 19th, but I really think Wright or Jones would’ve made a better pick. Also, if they do actually plan on running the triangle, Porzingis lacks the post skill or passing to profile as a good triangle big guy. Additionally, I think the Knicks traded two future seconds for Hernangomez, but I’m not sure. If so, that’s not a great trade, but he’s a fine value at 35.

Draft Grade: D

Oklahoma City Thunder — Cameron Payne (14th), Dakari Johnson (48th): Again, I’m not a fan of Payne over Wright/Jones, and Payne is probably similar value at 14 to Grant at 19. OKC has done well with backup point guards in the past though, and his shooting could fit in well next to Russ/KD, even if they limit his chances to playmake. Dakari at 48th is a very good value, having Adams and McGary there already makes things a little confusing, but he’s a good enough value that I like the pick either way.

Draft Grade: C+

Orlando Magic — Mario Hezonja (5th), Tyler Harvey (51st): I had both Mudiay and Winslow ahead of Mario, but they’re all in the same tier, and with Payton there and the lack of shooting on the team Mario makes a lot of sense, and I would only have him ever so slightly behind Winslow on a Magic draft board. Hezonja/Oladipo/Payton is a fun backcourt, and with his shooting and their defense they fit together pretty well. Harvey at 51 is fine, and adding more shooting to a team that desperately needs it makes sense, even if he’s not my favorite late second round prospect.

Draft Grade: B

Philadelphia 76ers — Jahil Okafor (3rd), Guillermo Hernangomez (35th – maybe), Richaun Holmes (37th), Arturas Gudaitis (47th), J.P. Tokoto (58th), Luka Mitrovic (60th): I’ve got to hand it to Hinkie, every single one of his picks was a good value for where they were drafted, I don’t know anything about Mitrovic, but some guys I respect really like him so it was probably a solid pick. Still, drafting 4 or 5 big man to go along with one wing just doesn’t makes sense, even if Hinkie was consistently getting value in the second round. I’d be fine if he just made the Okafor and Gudaitis picks, but he should’ve looked to add more wings/guards with his other selections. However, Okafor at 3 was good value, Holmes was solid value, Gudaitis and Tokoto were both great values, and Mitrovic might be good value; that’s impressive work by Hinkie. Russell would’ve been much better for the Sixers, but you can’t blame them for taking Jahlil, clearly the best talent on my board.

Draft Grade: B

Phoenix Suns — Devin Booker (13th): I’ve written all along that Booker isn’t a lottery talent, and that doesn’t change going into a good situation in Phoenix. Oubre, Dekker, or Portis all would’ve been considerably more attractive options here if the Suns wanted to stay away from Looney and the point guards. Booker just doesn’t have enough non-shooting juice to justify this pick.

Draft Grade: D+

Portland Trail Blazers — Pat Connaughton (41st), Daniel Diez (54th): The trade for Mason Plumlee is probably a fair one, I don’t love it or hate it for Portland. Connaughton at 41 is also pretty good value, and Diez is a fine candidate at 54. None of their moves were particularly good, but I don’t think they messed up either.

Draft Grade: B-

Sacramento Kings — Willie Cauley-Stein (6th): Cauley-Stein at 6th with Winslow/Mudiay/Johnson/Turner all on the board is not a very good value pick, and he’s probably the worst fit of the 5 if they plan on keeping Demarcus Cousins (if they have another move lined up I might change that stance). I generally like Cauley-Stein as a prospect, and don’t think 6 is an enormous reach for him, but there were clearly better options on the board according to my rankings.

Draft Grade: C-

San Antonio Spurs — Nikola Milutinov (27th), Cady Lalanne (55th): I’m pretty low on Milutinov as an NBA defender, but I also haven’t watched that much of him and am roughly 1/500th as smart about anything as the Spurs are at evaluating Euros, so I’m going to try and watch more Milutinov this summer. Lalanne had really crappy college production, but has intriguing enough tools that he makes a good late second gamble. If Milutinov had been drafted late 1st by any other team I’d probably give them a D+, but since it’s the Spurs I’ll split the difference and settle for a….

Draft Grade: B-

Toronto Raptors — Delon Wright (20th), Norman Powell (46th): The Vasques trade was a fleecing. The Delon Wright pick is an absolute steal, and Kyle Lowry is a great PG for him to learn behind. I’m not a huge Norman Powell fan, but Masai is pretty darn smart, and a lot of people have told me I’m wrong about Norman Powell, so I’m not too low on the pick. Basically whichever team drafted Delon I was going to be happy with anyway, I can’t wait to see how he does in the NBA.

Draft Grade: B+

Utah Jazz — Trey Lyles (12th), Olivier Hanlan (42nd): I’m really not a fan of Lyles at 12 on talent due to his defensive questions and lack of one clear translatable offensive skill. Also, he’s not a great fit in Utah unless he can really improve his outside shot. The Jazz didn’t have any great options on the board, but Lyles wwould not have been anywhere near the top of my list for them. I’m aslo not a big fan of Hanlan at 42, and think there were a handful of more interesting second round guards than him.

Draft Grade: D+

Washington Wizards — Kelly Oubre (15th), Aaron White (49th): I’m a big fan of what the WIzards did, and not just because I’m a Wizards fan. Oubre was the best value on my board at 12th when he was picked, and he fits in well in a variety of different versatile small and big lineups for Washington. Also, getting corner threes from John Wall is great for any mediocre shooting wing. White was 41st on my board, so good value at 49th, and an encourgaing sign that the Wizards are commiting to playing stretch four’s even if White himself ends up going overseas and never contributing. Neither pick was amazing value, but they both were very good, and the Wizards didn’t give up too much to move up for Oubre.

Draft Grade: A-

Quick Note on Undrafted: Cliff Alexander and Michael Frazier both went inexplicably undrafted, and could provide great value for a team if they give them a chance. Christian Wood and Robert Upshaw clearly have more off the court concerns than I gave them credit for, and while I think teams should give them each a shot, I probably way overrated each of them on my boards if teams were so scared as to not pick them at all. Vince Hunter, Briante Weber, Seth Tutle, and the rest of the guys analytic models loved all deserve shots, and I hope they get to play in Summer League.

That’s all for my ocoverage of the 2015 draft, but I’ll have some content related to my thoughts on guys summer league play, and I’ll start looking at 2016 draft candidates who are appearing in FIBA play this summer. It’s been a lot of fun, thanks for reading my inital foray into deep draft coverage.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s