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NBA Draft Reaction and Team Grades

As the draft approached, it was widely publicized that this year was expected to be one of the most unpredictable in recent memory. While it may not have lived up to those lofty expectations, each team has now made moves that they feel will enable their franchise to take the next step towards success. Whether your team picked their franchise center, an undersized volume-shooting point guard, or a former top recruit who fell due to injury concerns, your team believes it is now better positioned than it was a few days ago. However, that is not always the case which is reflected in our post-draft grades.

 

Atlanta Hawks-

First Round: Trae Young, Kevin Huerter, Omari Spellman

Ok I love Trae Young’s potential, and if Doncic was not still on the board at that point it might not have been a bad pick. However, considering they gave up the chance to select Doncic and only got a future pick in return it does not make much sense to me. In regards to their later picks, I am not too high on Kevin Huerter because he was not even the best player on an average Maryland team this year. Omari Spellman does have the potential to be a prototype for the modern NBA big man, but he probably should have stayed one more year at Villanova and will be a year or two away from contributing. Fortunately, the Hawks have time to wait.  

Grade: C

 

Boston Celtics-

First Round: Robert Williams

Robert Williams, who was considered a potential lottery pick up until he fell down the draft boards on Thursday, miraculously fell to Boston at 27 and it might be the perfect situation for both sides. Williams is an elite shot blocker with massive defensive potential and will be able to come in and contribute on that end of the floor right away. He is also a solid rim runner who could develop into a great pick and roll weapon for Kyrie and Rozier. As a whole his offensive game is raw and there are concerns about his health and character; therefore, he will likely need a year or two to polish his offensive repertoire and mature. However with Brad Stevens leading the way,  anything is possible.

Grade: A

 

Brooklyn Nets-

First Round: Dzanan Musa

Second Round: Rodions Kurucs

 Both of Brooklyn’s picks this year were from overseas and they selected players with extremely high potential. Musa is an offensive weapon that after a couple years of adapting to the physicality of the NBA could be a straight up assassin on that end of the floor. Kurucs, who played sparingly for Barcelona this year, has potential to be a very solid rotation player and is  a borderline first round talent at pick 40.

Grade: B+

 

Charlotte Hornets-

First Round: Miles Bridges

Second Round: Devonte’ Graham, Arnoldas Kulboka

The Hornets started off their night by selecting Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, the player they knew the Clippers wanted, in order to get two more second round picks and only move back one spot to pick Miles Bridges. Bridges underperformed in his sophomore season at Michigan State, but I think a lot of people will be surprised by how good he ends up being. He is a prototypical stretch four skillset although he is a little undersized and could play SF if he improves his quickness. Graham was the best player on Kansas’ final four team and, some would argue, in the entire country. It is not hard to see a timeline in which the former four-star point guard will be a successful pro. Charlotte will stash Kulboka for at least a year, but he is a 6’10 wing who will have ample opportunities to develop in Lithuania.

Grade: B+

 

Chicago Bulls-

First Round: Wendell Carter Jr., Chandler Hutchison

Chicago was a mixed bag on draft night. Wendell Carter Jr. was the best prospect available at that point in the draft so that was the best pick even though it creates a very crowded frontcourt. Carter was in Bagley’s, and to a lesser extent Grayson Allen’s, shadow at Duke and it has become clear we have yet to see the best of Wendell Carter’s game. Lauri Markkanen and Carter would be a fantastic frontcourt for the modern NBA, and should be super fun to watch. On the other end of the first round, I was not a fan of the Hutchinson selection. According to Woj, the Bulls had promised to select Hutchinson at this point over a month ago, which is something I do not understand at all. At 22 years old, I simply do not think he has the polish to warrant a first round selection. However, if the Bulls promised to take him so early in the process it is likely they see something in him that I do not.

Grade: B-

 

Cleveland Cavaliers-

First Round: Collin Sexton

This pick shows the Cavs are prepping once again for an era without LeBron. Sexton is a ball-dominant guard who can create his own shot and is a tenacious defender. If he is able to develop a three-point shot he could easily be an All-Star one day, and if not he is at worst a Patrick Beverly type player. However, if LeBron does return, Sexton could have a tough time carving out a role on offense as he needs the ball in his hands to be effective.

Grade: A-

 

Dallas Mavericks-

First Round: Luka Doncic

Second Round: Jalen Brunson, Ray Spalding, Kostas Antetokounmpo

I absolutely love what Dallas did in this draft. They gave up minimal assets to move up two spots and select Doncic, who I consider the best prospect in the draft, who will make a dynamic backcourt with Dennis Smith Jr. which instantly makes them a top five League Pass team. Jalen Brunson, the Wooden award winner this season,  is a low-risk high-reward pick who could develop into a starting point guard in the right situation. Ray Spalding and Kostas Antetokounmpo are lengthy big men who are young and full of potential. Rick Carlile finally has some young assets again and it will be extremely fun to see how he develops them.

Grade: A+

 

Denver Nuggets-

First Round: Michael Porter Jr.

Second Round: Jarred Vanderbilt, Justin Jackson, Thomas Welsh

After a dismal 2017 draft where Denver traded Donovan Mitchell for Tyler Lydon, the Nuggets are gambling once again. Porter, once the top recruit in the country, slipped in this draft due to injury concerns around his back. Porter is one of the most talented players in this draft so if he is able to get healthy, he could be the steal of this draft. In the second round, Denver first selected Jared Vanderbilt, a former five-star forward recruit that struggled with injuries while at Kentucky. He is a low-risk, high-reward pick for the Nuggets. Keeping with the current theme, Justin Jackson was hurt for the majority of his sophomore year but would have likely been a first round pick if he came out after his freshman season. Thomas Welsh is an intriguing prospect that averaged a double-double and shot 40% from three in his senior season. If this draft class is able to get healthy, they could be the biggest winners from this draft.

Grade: B+

 

Detroit Pistons-

Second Round: Khyri Thomas, Bruce Brown

Despite not having a first round pick, the Pistons were able to select two first round talents. Both Khyri Thomas and Bruce Brown were extremely productive players in college and address positions of need within Detroit’s organization. Brown and Thomas spent multiple years in college and are seasoned vets that with time to develop could be contributors in the future for the Pistons.

Grade: A

 

Golden State Warriors-

First Round: Jacob Evans

The Warriors need more guard depth and they attempted to address this by selecting Jacob Evans. Evans was a star on Cincinnati’s best team in a while and has the potential to be a solid pro player. He is a lockdown defender who posted a 88.3 defensive rating his junior year, and may be able to contribute to the Warriors second unit right away.

Grade: B

 

Houston Rockets-

Second Round: De’Anthony Melton

De’Anthony Melton is a do it all guard who is a great value pick at 46. He can do a little bit of everything, including defend at a high level. The major question mark for Melton is his shooting as he only shot 28% from three so he will not be incredibly useful in Houston’s offense

Grade: B-

 

Indiana Pacers-

First Round: Aaron Holiday

Second Round: Alize Johnson

Aaron Holiday, the third Holiday brother to be in the NBA, was one of the more polarizing prospects in the draft. Some mock drafts had him in the mid-teens while some had him falling to the second round. He is an undersized guard who can score in bunches and is a decent playmaker who recorded 5.8 assists per game at UCLA. This does address a need for Indiana, as they do need point guard depth, but it might have been a reach at this point in the draft. Alize Johnson was a star at Missouri State who averaged a double double and shot almost 40% from three last year, so he could end up being a quality prospect if his game translates to the NBA.

Grade: B-

 

Los Angeles Clippers-

First Round: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Jerome Robinson

Going into the draft the Clippers were in a very nice situation with back to back picks in the late lottery. However, their use of them was less than optimal. After being forced to surrender two second rounders in order to pick Gilgeous-Alexander, who the Hornets had selected, they reached on the next pick for Jerome Robinson. I am not too high on either of these prospects, as both have big question marks, and in the case of Robinson, could have been selected later in the draft. I am not saying Robinson won’t be a solid NBA player, but I would have selected a player like Lonnie Walker or Zhaire Smith before him. With back to back first round picks, taking the risk on Michael Porter Jr. might not have been a bad idea either.

Grade: D-

 

Los Angeles Lakers-

First Round: Moritz Wagner

Second Round: Isaac Bonga, Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk

The Lakers are likely gonna be making headlines all offseason, but they did not do anything notable on draft night. Moritz Wagner was a very productive player at Michigan, but the German big man may struggle with the quickness of the NBA game and I would not have used a first round pick on him. Isaac Bonga is a draft and stash player who is only 18 and full of potential. If he can fill into an NBA-ready body, look for him to make an impact in a couple years. At Kansas, Mykhailiuk was a very productive player with above-average athleticism and a solid three-point shot. Out of these three picks, Bonga is the only one I can clearly being a game changer.

Grade: C-

 

Memphis Grizzlies-

First Round: Jaren Jackson Jr.

Second Round: Jevon Carter

In the hours leading up to the draft, trade rumors were running wild around the Grizzlies’ fourth overall pick. They reportedly were looking to unload Chandler Parsons’ contract and move down into the middle of the lottery. However, they decided to remain where they were and select their big man of the future. Jackson is a perfect fit for the modern NBA big man. He has all of the tools to be an elite defender, and also shoots at a high clip from three. In the early second round they selected former West Virginia star Jevon Carter which I think is a great pick. Carter is a plus defender who can knock down open shots as well. He is a great fit for the Grizzlies and will come in to contribute immediately.

Grade: A

 

Miami Heat-

Grade: I mean….. They didn’t pick anyone so C I guess??

 

Milwaukee Bucks-

First Round: Donte DiVincenzo

The Bucks used their 17th pick on this year’s final four Most Valuable Player. DiVincenzo is an extremely athletic guard who can score from anywhere on the floor. He rode the momentum he gained from a dominant championship run at Villanova through the pre-draft process into the top 20 of the draft. That being said, I think 17 was too high of a pick for him. Especially with a player like Lonnie Walker IV still on the board. Milwaukee lacks backcourt depth, and DiVencenzo will likely be asked to do a lot early in his career. Coach Budenholzer has shown that he is good at developing his young players, so this might be a good situation for DiVincenzo to thrive.

Grade: C

 

Minnesota Timberwolves-

First Round: Josh Okogie

Second Round: Keita Bates-Diop

After Jamal Crawford opted out of his contract for next year, the Timberwolves were in desperate need of wing players off the bench. Minnesota took a step to addressing these issues by drafting two extremely talented players that play on the wing. Okogie is a super tough and talented defender who can also score his fair share of points. He did struggle with playmaking and only averaged 2.5 assists in his career, and he likely only has the size to play the lead guard. Bates-Diop was a star on a surprisingly good Ohio State team this year who has excellent size for an NBA wing. The reigning Big Ten Player of the Year scores and rebounds well and was a steal for the mid-second round.

Grade: B+

 

New Orleans Pelicans-

Second Round: Tony Carr

The Pelicans’ only pick in the draft was the 21st spot in the second round. However, they were able to get extremely good value for their pick. Carr is a tall point guard who was extremely productive at Penn State and began appearing on draft boards  late this year. Carr is a 40% three-point shooter, but he struggles to finish inside as he shot worse from inside the arc than out. If he can develop some inside touch and improve his playmaking, Carr could be a very good point guard one day.

Grade: A-

 

New York Knicks-

First Round: Kevin Knox

Second Round: Mitchell Robinson

If you told a Knicks fan one year ago that they would get two former five-star recruits in this year’s draft they would likely be ecstatic. Kevin Knox, a lengthy forward with shooting range, is one of the most underrated prospects in this year’s draft class who underperformed at Kentucky in part because he was asked to do to much. Next year with a more focussed role, I expect Knox to flourish and within a few years develop into a quality NBA player. The selection of Mitchell Robinson in the early second round is one that should get Knicks fans excited. Robinson committed to Western Kentucky before suddenly quitting the team and never playing a minute of college basketball. His high school tape shows that he could already be a solid shot blocker and inside finisher, but we have yet to see him against anything close to NBA competition. If he lives up to his five-star label, then the Knicks could be the biggest winners of the draft.

Grade: A-

 

Oklahoma City Thunder:

Second Round: Devon Hall, Kevin Hervey

The Thunder took two flyers on experienced college stars with very different backstories. Hall was a key piece to an elite UVA basketball team that was at the forefront of national coverage for each of his for seasons. This was a significant difference from Hervey who spent four years at Texas-Arlington which has not made the NCAA tournament since 2008. Both players had solid college careers and skill sets that will likely translate to the next level. Considering the Thunder want to be contenders, spending their second round picks on polished veterans was probably the right way to go.

Grade: B

 

Orlando Magic:

First Round: Mohamed Bamba

Second Round: Melvin Frazier Jr.

Due to a series of questionable roster moves, the Magic have a surplus of frontcourt players and have now added one more. Bamba is a questionable fit due to the Magic’s current roster situation, and Orlando will likely make a couple of deals to trade away players like Nikola Vucevic and Bismack Biyombo. If they are able to do this it creates an exciting and big frontcourt of Jonathan Isaac, Aaron Gordon, and Bamba; which is young and super versatile. Melvin Frazier was a solid guard for Tulane this year, but he lacks shooting range which is something he will need to develop in order to contribute to the Magic.  

Grade: B-

 

Philadelphia 76ers:

First Round: Zhaire Smith, Landry Shamet

Second Round: Shake Milton

After the unfortunate situation with Colangelo, Philadelphia was left without a GM. Coach Brett Brown stepped in in the interim, but he did not have the luxury of scouting these players all year and that was reflected in his drafting. After selecting Mikal Bridges with the tenth pick, they quickly flipped  him for Zhaire Smith and a future pick. Smith is a super athletic guard who played center in high school and is a great defender. His offensive game needs significant work which is why I question this selection by the 76ers because they are in win-now mode and need someone to contribute immediately. Picking Shamet in the late first round was a big reach according to most mock drafts and they might have been wiser to trade back into the second round if they really wanted him. Shake Milton was the one pick they made that I liked. Milton did everything at SMU and can score at all three levels, along with passing and rebounding at a high level. All three of these pick could be asked to contribute as early as next year depending on the health of Markelle Fultz and the 76ers’ choices in free agency.

Grade: C

 

Phoenix Suns-

First Round: DeAndre Ayton, Mikal Bridges

Second Round: Elie Okobo, George King

The Suns started off the night by doing the predictable and selecting DeAndre Ayton who will likely end up being a very good NBA player. However, it is what they did with the rest of the draft that led to them possibly winning the night. By trading for Bridges they acquired one of the most NBA-ready players in the entire draft who has a very high floor as a prospect. Elie Okobo was considered the second best international prospect in the draft and it was very surprising that he fell to the second round. It is great news for the Suns though, as they now have an intriguing option at point guard if they fail to resign Elfrid Payton. King is a more questionable pick who will require significant development before contributing.

Grade: A

 

Portland Trail Blazers-

First Round: Anfernee Simons

Second Round: Gary Trent Jr.

The Trail Blazers used both of their first round picks to select two young guards. Anfernee Simons opted to enter the draft out of IMG academy this year despite the fact that he likely would have been a lottery pick next year. He landed in a good situation in Portland where he will be able to develop slowly and be mentored by two fantastic guards. Trent is more prepared to contribute immediately as he was a sharpshooting role player on Duke this year. I would have possibly selected a big man with one of the picks to make up for the potential loss of Nurkic, but other than that they drafted well.

Grade: B

 

Sacramento Kings-

First Round: Marvin Bagley III

For years the Kings have been labeled one of the most dysfunctional NBA franchise in the league. After bouncing back and forth between multiple prospects, they finally focussed in on Marvin Bagley III, a selection I do not agree with. Bagley has some very questionable aspects to his game, including a suspect jumpshot and his defense. Selecting him over Doncic is just not something I can agree with at all. However, I do think there is a very good chance he will be at least a starter in the NBA, I just would have picked Doncic.

Grade: C+

 

San Antonio Spurs-

First Round: Lonnie Walker IV

Second Round: Chimezie Metu

Thanks to the Kawhi Leonard situation the Spurs are experiencing there first organizational dysfunction in a long time. Despite this, they may have struck gold in this year’s draft. Lonnie Walker is a super athletic guard who defends at a high level. He fell in the draft for unknown reasons, but if it is not something Popovich is worried about then I’m sure it is no big deal. Metu is a highly athletic big man who blocked almost two shots per game last year. However, he will have to develop significantly on the offensive side of the floor if he hopes to contribute at the NBA level.

Grade: A-

 

Toronto Raptors-

Grade: No picks, C

 

Utah Jazz-

First Round: Grayson Allen

Second Round: Vincent Edwards

I am not super high on Grayson Allen as an NBA player. Not to mention all of the on-court drama he creates, he is not a great defender and will likely be a liability on that side of the floor. However, he does score at a high level and if he is only used as an instant offense off the bench player he may thrive in Salt Lake City. Vincent Edwards was a key contributor on a very good Perdue basketball team. He has good size for an NBA wing and shoots an excellent percentage from three. That being said, he is probably a year away from being a rotation player.

Grade: C-

 

Washington Wizards-

First Round: Troy Brown

Second Round: Issuf Sanon

I can not get over the fact that the Wizards did not pick Robert Williams with the 15th pick. He is the perfect big for their system, and he would have thrived catching lobs from John Wall next year. However, they went in the direction of Troy Brown, a point guard in high school who has developed into a skilled defender and a good ball handler but lacks an outside jumper. If he can develop the jumpshot, Brown could end up being a very good pick. The Wizards also managed to reach with their second round pick by selecting Sanon, who will be stashed in Europe for the foreseeable future. They made this pick despite players like Keita Bates-Diop still being on the board.

Grade: D

 

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