The 2014 NBA Draft Report Card: What Did Your Team Earn?
Thursday night in Brooklyn’s Barclays Center came and went and another NBA Draft is in the books. It’s time to take a look back and reflect on how each and every NBA franchise did the other night with their selections (or lack of selections). Don’t forget about trades that were made during the selection process (this year we really didn’t see many) or many blockbusters at least. Here is my 2014 NBA Draft report card for all 30 teams.
Atlanta Hawks: The Hawks may walk away with the best hidden gem of the entire draft, if you can call him that. With Atlanta’s selection of Michigan State’s Andreian Payne at #15, the versatile big man is set to bring range and size for a team thats in depurate need of it. Atlanta ranked near the bottom of the pile in both rebounding categories last season and really need a tune up there. But there’s one thing we know about the NBA, a big man that can stretch the floor and shoot is deadly for defenses and this move can really bolster Atlanta and move them up in the Eastern Conference rankings. The Hawks took C Walter Tavares out of Cape Verde, which in all honestly is a stash away pick for a couple of years. Finally, at #48 Pittsburgh’s Lamar Patterson went off the board to Atlanta and I really liked this pick. He is a poor man’s Lance Stephenson without all of the drama and can really be a scoring threat for this team off the bench.
Overall Grade: They drafted a position in need which is always a positive and a bench player that can score, right away? Maybe not, but they get a solid B.
Boston Celtics: The Celtics made their fans happy last night thats for sure, including Bill Simmons on national TV. But one Rajon Rondo might not be so happy. Personally I think Rondo is on his way out soon anyway, so I think the move to draft Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart at 6 was perfect from GM Danny Ainge. Smart is built like a football player and can create, dish, but most importantly score the basketball. He will be a dangerous tandem with Rondo if he sticks around, and can fill the void at point guard if #9 leaves (don’t forget Avery Bradley & Jarred Bayless who are Free Agents). The Celtics had another pick in the first round at 17 and they went bold and took the athletic guard out of Kentucky James Young. He’s another that can be a role playing bench scorer and his athleticism can’t be taught. He is a bit raw coming straight out of the NBA factory (Kentucky) but I see him pannig out well for the C’s in the next couple of years
Overall Grade: They drafted one of the best at his position and talented athleticism cant be beat. No second rounders for Boston, but they did a great job. A-
Brooklyn Nets: The Nets came into the night just hosting the draft because they had no picks! The KG Paul Pierce deal left them without a window to draft any talent. But they traded their way into the second round and really did some damage. At #44 Markell Brown is a solid guard who can shoot the ball very well. Nothing crazy, but a solid addition for the Nets. At #59 the Nets took Xavier Thames, another shooting guard that can handle the ball and shoot pretty decently. Two good picks for a team that struggles to shoot the ball at times. Finally at #60, the Nets went against the grain of guard selections and took Baylor’s Corey Jefferson. I don’t know if he’ll be able to make the team but he has quality mid range shooting and size, which you can’t teach.
Overall Grade: They needed shooting and guard play, so they went out and got it. But the lack of a first rounder and uncertainty of their second round selections has this team at a B-
Charlotte Hornets: The newly re-named Hornets got the first steal of the night at #9 with Noah Vonleh out of Indiana. They might be loosing the likes of Josh McRoberts who broke out this year. But when you add a big man that can shoot and space the floor for a team thats in deperate need of it, you cant go wrong if your Michael Jordan at that spot. At #26 they took UNC’s P.J. Hairston who is another shooting threat, but might need some time to develop an overall NBA game. Finally, at #55 Xavier’s Semaj Christon was selected. This guy can do one thing, score. But can he do it right away for Charlotte?
Overall Grade: They got an absolute steal at 9, but their other picks might need some time and work. They didn’t adress the need of immediate impact with all of their picks, so for that they get a C-
Chicago Bulls: The Bulls not only drafted one of the greatest college basketball scorers of all time in Doug McDermott, but they also made one of the best financial moves in the draft. They get the shooter they need and also clear cap space with the expected departures of Mike Dunleavy and Carlos Boozer. What does that mean? There in play for Melo or LeBron. Rose, Noah, McDermott, Butler, and or LeBron and Melo? Wow. In the second round at 49 the Bulls took PF/C Cameron Bairstow out of New Mexico. It’s hard to see him playing with all of the talented big men on Chicago.
Overall Grade: You can’t go wrong with the safe pick of McBuckets and they made a play for top free agents this summer. For me, that lands them an A
Cleveland Cavaliers: Ah, the Cavaliers. Another year, another #1 pick. They went the vanilla rout and took the most talented player out there in Mr. Andrew Wiggins this year (avoiding the head scratcher for the second year in a row). To me, Wiggins will be a superstar no matter who he plays with and if the Cavs don’t get their former hometown boy back (LBJ of course) than this is a good second if they can keep Kyrie Irving. At #33 Joe Harris of the Virginia Cavaliers was available and Cleveland jumped at it. He was one of the ACC’s best and knows how to handle the point guard position. If Jarret Jack leaves, he is a great addition to the backup back court. Finally, at #45 Cleveland took Dwight Powell from Stanford to add size. At 6’11 he is a great passer and can add versatility to that position if he finds his way onto the team
Overall Grade: Each pick made complete sense (not to mention they drafted what many would call the next LeBron) and they added to positions they needed. So for that, they receive an A
Denver Nuggets: The Nuggets made some head scratching moves during the draft. First they traded away Doug McDermott who many thought would never slide to them in that position at #11. Than they go international with the trade and select Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Jusuf Nurkic who most likely won’t play next season. But all of that made more sense when they got the 19th pick from the Bulls and selected another big time prospect who slid to them and that man is Garry Harris. The Nuggets need guard play bad, especially one that can score and create off the dribble. Harris can do that right away. The tandem of him and newly re-squired Aaron Afflalo will be lethal. Their third rounder PF/C Nikola Jokic is another stash away pick for a couple years. But a lot are high on his toughness and you can’t teach 6’11.
Overall: Didn’t like the McDermott trade, but it landed them in position to get possibly the steal and one of the best players of the draft. So they get a B-
Detroit Pistons: I really feel for Pistons fans. The recent years of terrible contracts and trades has left the cuburd bare for a once Eastern Conference powerhouse. Due to the Ben Gordon for Corey Maggette trade a couple years back, they had no lottery pick (which they certainly deserved). But, alas they had a second rounder at 38 and they took Colorado combo guard Spencer Dinwiddie. His name might be unknown, but this man was once considered a sure fire lottery pick before his ACL injury this year. So be happy Pistons fans because you have a coach in Stan Van Gundy who knows what he’s doing and a player who could be the steal of the second round.
Overall Grade: A team that needs to get back on track with their contracts and players, but a solid second round selection. For that, Detroit basketball gets a B+
Houston Rockets: Their’s no secret that the Rockets came into draft night wanting to clear cap space. So, thats what they did at 25 with their pick of Clint Capela (cool name) out of Switzerland. He creates cap room for Lebron/Melo so no loss their. They did pick a player they may use at 42 with Arizona’s Nick Johnson. He is an athletic slashing forward who can replace the loss of Jordan Hamilton next season. At number 53, the Rockets went experiment with the selection of Italy’s Alessandro Gentile (another cool name). He isn’t ready for the full grind of an NBA season and is heading back overseas to work on his game.
Overall Grade: It was all about the bejamins for the offseason, and they drafted a potential player they can use in the second round. If they land Melo or James, this draft will be a huge success for them. But because we can’t see into the future this draft effort earns them a B.
Los Angeles Clippers: The Clippers didn’t have a lot to work with on draft night, only garnishing the 28th pick in the first round. They took knock down shooter C.J. Wilcox out of Washington. A lot of people are bashing the Clippers for this pick because let’s face it, it’s shooting guard paradise over there, especially ones that can shoot (Redick, Crawford, Dudley, Green. Bullock). But I like Wilcox as a fundamentally smart player.
Overall: They picked up a talented shooter, but they have tons of that. Still, he’s a mature player both on and off the court out of college so I won’t fail them on the spot. D-
Los Angles Lakers: A team that has had a nightmarish 2013-2014, but all of that was worth it on draft night. They took what might be one of the best picks of the night in Julius Randle at #7, and he plans of letting teams that passed on him know they will regret it (hmmm sounds like something #24 would say). But LA was in bad need of a scoring big with the uncertain future of Pau Gasol. But if he stays, that makes them all the more dangerous. There still a few pieces away from the playoffs and certainly contention, but its a great start. In the second round, L.A. grabbed Mizzou’s Jordan Clarkson at #46. This a a stellar second rounder because he is athletic and can drive to the whole with style. His game is NBa ready and I think he can make an immediate impact at a needed position of PG/SG.
Overall Grade: The Lakers got two of the best players in each round to possibly avenge last season’s nightmare and of course Mr. Black Mamba. They get an A+
Memphis Grizzlies: Aside from Mike Miller, who himself had a down year shooting the ball, this team was abysmal at shooting last season. So they went out and addressed that need with their first round selection of UCLA’s sharpshooter Jordan Adams at #22. All he truly does is shoot the ball and will be a threat to so so for years to come in Memphis. At number 35 in the second round, Memphis took relentless rebounder Jarnell Stokes out of Tennessee. You can’t go wrong with taking a guy who can crash the boards with the best of them right away. We’ve seen so many guys make careers and a lot of money out of it (Farried, Millsap).
Overall: They addressed a gigantic need at “shooting” guard and got possibly the best rebounder in the entire class. Well deserved A
Miami Heat: The power of Twitter. Remember way back in April when Shabazz Napier was playing his way onto the national scene and winning UCONN a National Championship? Well, LeBron took notice to that and tweeted out he will be the best point guard in this years class. Welp, after a Finals loss and a LeBron that wants the Heat to retool and make some moves, the Heat did just that by trading with the Hornets selection of Napier to bring him to South Beach. Plus, it bolsters a position that disappeared in the NBA Finals at point guard.
Overall Grade: They got what the best player in the world wanted, and that could be HUGE in making up his mind to stay in Miami. Got to give the Heat an A+
Milwaukee Bucks: I don’t think any team could be more happy with getting the number two pick since the Sonics did back when they took Durant at 2 over Gregg Oden who was already gone. Well, thats the case with the selection of Duke’s prized frosh at #2. You can’t go wrong with his amazing skill set. He has size, athleticism, and can pretty much play every facet of the game effectively. He will be the next Carmelo to me, there’s no doubt in my mind. In the second round, Milwaukee selected Damien Inglis at #31. This kid has a 7’3 wingspan, enough said. Not that they already have length at forward (the Greek freak). Finally, LSU’s Johnny O’Bryant was picked at #36 at the PF/C position. He brings toughness and rebounding for a team that badly needs it. Can’t go wrong there.
Overall: They were in excellent position and capitalized with drafting a future superstar for a franchise and city that needs it BAD. They also picked up athletic freak big men who can come in and contribute quickly in my opinion. They receive an A+
Minnesota Timberwolves: If your looking for the one team that took “name brand” players, the T-Wolves were that franchise. But it ended up working out well and filling needs. They took UCLA’s talented swingman Zach LaVine at #13, a player who may need some time to develop a bit, but his athleticism and ability to score the basketball are bar none at the top of the draft class. Similarly, in the second round at #40, they took Michigan’s Glenn Robinson III to help with that offensive threat to keep their star at home (Kevin Love).
Overall: Two talented big name guys in both rounds can lead to some skepticism, but with time these busy will pan out. That gets them an B+
New Orleans Pelicans: New Orleans really didn’t have a lot to work with in this years draft, but they tried to make the most out of it. They went big name talent at Russ Smith in the second round at #46, Honestly, I think Smith is the best creator and slasher on offense in this deeply talented draft and can come in and do just that right away for a Pelicans team that struggled to score last year. But they traded away Pierre Jackson, who dominated the D-League this year and quite honestly is better than him.
Overall Grade: Nothing fancy or flashy, but they got a pick and made something out of it by drafting a talented player at his position that does what he does well, but they gave up a lot for him. For that, give them a C
New York Knicks: Well would you look at that, not only did the Knicks get rid of hated Raymond Felton and the big contract of Tyson Chandler to create cap space for the offseason, but they actually had a great draft! Unheard of for Knicks fans. But in all seriousness, the absolute steal of the draft in Cleanthony Early at #34 is big time for New York. He can score, rebound, hustle, and plays excellent defense that will transition well in the pros. Additionally, they took the Greek Freak’s brother Thanasis Antetokounmpo (if I spelled that right) at #51. Now I don’t know if he can come in right away and turn heads with his athleticism like his brother did in Milwaukee, but it doesn’t hurt to draft and find out. Finally, the Knickerbonkers snagged France’s Louis Labeyrie at #57. He’ll need some time to develop, but more of a chance Phil Jackson was willing to take because of his impact in the pros overseas. But we might never see him comeback at his young age and inexperience with the NBA’s speed, talent, and ability.
Overall Grade: The Knicks pleased fans and got into the draft and they made the most of it by picking up what can and should be the steal of the draft in Early and freak athleticism in Greek Freak Jr. Have to hand them an A
Oklahoma City Thunder: He may have been forced to enter the Draft, but for a team that needs desperate help down low to assist Steven Adams, Michigan’s Mitch McGary at #21 is a great fit. He can be tough and rebound the ball, and can also provide a scoring asset too. Can he score at this level is the real question. I think so. To end the first round, the Thunder scooped up Stanford SF Josh Huestis at #29. A solid defender, but can he make the team full of depth? Remains to be seen.
Overall Grade: Two picks that are reaches, but not bad with the McGary selection. Give them a B-
Orlando Magic: After the trading of probably their best player in Aaron Afflalo back to Denver, many are wondering what exactly the Magic are doing. But there is one constant in their lineup and that is great big men. The #4 pick of Aaron Gordon out of Arizona is another tool to that talented box. They also traded to get talented point guard Elfrid Payton from Philly, who can come in and be a Lillard type of player for the Magic if Jameer Nelson decides to leave. Finishing off, Roy Devon Marble out of Iowa was taken at #56 to bolster up the backcourt. He can flat out score and can be an immediate role playing asset for a team not riddled with talent.
Overall Grade: They addressed needs and sprinkled in great talent to boot. Well deserving of at least an A-
Philadelphia 76ers: Let’s make it quick and easy, the Sixers had A LOT of selections this past Thursday. The most striking being of course Joel Embiid at #3, Dario Saric at #12, and K.J. McDaniels at #32. They even got big college impact players like Jeremy Grant out of Syracuse at #39 and scoring threat Jordan McRae out of Tennessee at #58. All in all, Embiid is a risk and will have to miss some time with the foot injury, but him and Noel will be a lethal front court and Saric may wind up being one of the best international players in the league in a few years.
Overall Grade: No secret this team is building for the future (like 5 years from now future, not 2 to 3 years) but solid and smart selections for the time being. For Philly, an A.
Phoenix Suns: The Suns were another team that had a lot of picks, but are certainly in better position to win right away than the Sixers. The most notable selections were T.J. Warren at #14 out of N.C. State and raw but talented Tyler Ennis at 18. Both are extremely talented and good at offense, but do they have complete games that can translate on both sides of the court especially for a team that lacks defense? We’ll see.
Overall Grade: Talent was galore for them in their picks, but the questionable defensive strategy has me questioning. I’ll hand them a B
Sacramento Kings: The Kings are here to stay in Cali, but only had one pick on the night at #8. Many experts didn’t see Michigan’s Nik Stauskas going that early, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad pick for a squad that needs his services. Perimeter shooting and great defensive skills have the Kings looking like they found a gem in the Wolverine SG.
Overall: Stauskas’ overall game on both ends is promising and his offensive skill set can help fix Sac Town’s shooting/scoring woes. Can’t find too many holes to poke at here with their selection. For that I’ll give them an A-
San Antonio Spurs: As if the Spurs need any dissecting of weather their picks were quality or not. Well, to answer that question with the same answer, they were. Many considered their pick of UCLA stud Kyle Anderson at #30 a super steal. Anderson brings a tremendous skill set in terms of basketball smarts in the best basketball smart team in the NBA. As Bill Simmons put it during the telecast “Typical” of the Spurs to draft like that. In the second round the grabbed Serbia’s Nemanja Dangubic at #54. Nothing flashy or top secret there, but its also no surprise either. The Spurs have always been known to draft potential international hidden gems in the second round.
Overall Grade: Do I even need to go any further? A+
Toronto Raptors: Now comes the absolute head scratcher of the night. I joked around during the telecast that Drake would be drafted by the team to play, seeing as he’s everywhere for that team, which I do think is pretty darn cool. But after the selection of unknown Brazilian Bruno Cabaclo, I thought Drake was the one making the pick for the Raptors in their war room. When I say this kid was unknown, that doesn’t do it justice. He didn’t work out for any team in the league and his highlight tape looked like a VHS copy. But hey, at least he can say he was drafted in the NBA before guys like Shabazz Napier. Who knows, maybe he’ll all make us eat our words one day in the far future.
Overall Grade: A waste of an only pick in this talented draft class. The Raptors are know to go international, but this pick just made no sense. Maybe they know something none of us know, but have to give them an F.
Utah Jazz: The Jazz made the first splash of the draft by taking Australia’s big talent Dante Exum. This kid will be fun to watch in the backcourt with Trey Burke. It will be interesting to see who plays where, as both players are considered combo guards. But you can’t go wrong with adding extreme talent, especially if he’s available to you at that spot of #5. To finish of Utah’s picks in the second round, the Jazz took falling Duke sharp shooter Rodney Hood. He adds a sniper to the team that doesn’t have much shooting outside of Richard Jefferson, who will be leaving in free agency.
Overall Grade: They got one of the most talented and prized possessions of the draft and added a shooter which is always needed in this league, especially off the bench. They get an A
Portland Trail Blazers: No Picks
Washington Wizards: No Picks
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