A lot of people are going to give out letter grades to the teams that participated in this draft. I’m not going to do that because I don’t KNOW how well each player will perform in the NBA. I just have an idea of how likely it is that each player will succeed. I’m going to separate the draft into three categories: teams that got good value from their picks, teams that got fair value, and teams that got poor value. Let’s get started:
TEAMS THAT GOT GOOD VALUE
PHILADELPHIA: Of all the places I thought Nerlens Noel could go, I certainly didn’t envision him landing in Philadelphia. The 76ers gave up point guard Jrue Holiday and next year’s first-round pick to make it happen, which is more than worth it in my opinion. Yes, there are concerns about Noel, but in terms of pure talent and impact on the game, there’s no better prospect this year. I also like Philadelphia’s second round selection of Pierre Jackson, and taking Michael Carter-Williams at #11 isn’t bad.
DETROIT: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is a very solid pick at #8, and Detroit followed that up by taking Tony Mitchell at #37. The Pistons got good value in both picks. With a very good frontcourt of Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond and a solid point guard in Jose Calderon, I like the direction Detroit is headed.
EDIT: Never mind about Calderon, he was a free agent and has signed with Dallas. I still like Detroit’s nucleus, especially after signing Josh Smith.
UTAH: At first I thought they were the biggest loser in the draft when they grabbed Shabazz Muhammad at #14. Then I found out they traded Muhammad and Gorgui Dieng to Minnesota to get Trey Burke. That’s pretty sweet; Burke fills a huge need at point guard for the Jazz. What makes it even sweeter is they were able to trade for Rudy Gobert late in the first round. That’s two of my top 13 prospects for a team that entered the draft without a top 13 pick. Well done Utah.
OKLAHOMA CITY: Steven Adams is a very solid pick at #12, and should allow the Thunder to get rid of the overpaid Kendrick Perkins. If there’s one thing we know about GM Sam Presti, it’s that he can draft, and he made the Thunder an even more formidable team than they were before by taking Adams.
ATLANTA: By trading with Dallas, the Hawks were able to secure Brazilian center Lucas Nogueira, a player I think has a lot of upside. I also love their acquisition of Mike Muscala in the second round. That’s more than enough to make up for taking the overrated Dennis Schroeder at #17.
NEW ORLEANS: I loved the idea of Anthony Davis and Nerlens Noel forming a devastating shot-blocking tandem, but the Pelicans were still able to parlay their #6 pick into Jrue Holiday and a first-round pick next year. That’s pretty good value. They also took Nate Wolters in the second round, who is a player I think has a decent chance to contribute. It was a good night for New Orleans.
MEMPHIS: The Grizzlies didn’t have a first-round pick, but they used their #41 pick on Jamaal Franklin, who was one of my top 13 players and a player I think has a good chance of making a big impact in the NBA. The Grizzlies got insane value with that pick.
TEAMS THAT GOT FAIR VALUE
WASHINGTON: Like every team in the top five, I think the Wizards made a big mistake not selecting Nerlens Noel, especially with Emeka Okafor likely to leave in free agency. With that said, I had Otto Porter as my #3 prospect, and the Wizards picked him third, so that’s fair value.
CHARLOTTE: Cody Zeller is a terrific offensive player and a guy I think will do well in Charlotte. It’s not a bust pick at all. I just can’t get too excited about the Bobcats choosing Zeller when Noel was on the board. Good player, but wrong pick in my opinion.
PORTLAND: Getting C.J. McCollum at 10th overall is a solid pick, and almost good enough for me to put Portland in the “good value” territory. He should work well in a backcourt with Damian Lillard. I wasn’t too blown away by Portland’s other picks, but they had a decent night.
MILWAUKEE: The Bucks could have done better at #15 than Giannis Antetokounmpo (I still prefer the shorter version of his last name) but they could have done a lot worse too. Antetokounmpo is a very young player with upside, and I anticipate we won’t see him in the NBA for at least a couple years.
LA CLIPPERS: I don’t think too highly of Reggie Bullock, but he got first-round grades from enough experts that I don’t think the Clippers did themselves a disservice by taking him at #25.
SAN ANTONIO: Livio Jean-Charles is a young prospect who didn’t get much playing time in France, and didn’t score very many points. I don’t see what the Spurs see in him, but the Spurs have such a good track record with foreign prospects that I won’t criticize them for choosing him at #28.
GOLDEN STATE: The Warriors didn’t start out with a draft pick, but they ended up with Nemanja Nedovic. Nedovic had one of the lowest ratings of any draft prospect I looked at, but the Warriors have done so well with finding good players later in the draft that I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt for now.
HOUSTON: As brilliant as GM Daryl Morey is, I’ve never been blown away by his performance in the draft (apart from Chandler Parsons). There were a few decent prospects still left at #34 but they ended up with Isaiah Canaan. I could easily see the Rockets trading Canaan as they try to sign Dwight Howard to a contract.
LA LAKERS: Win the award for least exciting draft by taking Ryan Kelly at #48. Kelly was a fairly solid player last season for Duke, but at 22 years old, he’s not an exciting prospect to get behind.
TEAMS THAT GOT POOR VALUE
CLEVELAND: I like Anthony Bennett and think he’ll be a good player, but he wasn’t the #1 player in this draft… not even close. Perhaps Bennett can be a huge small forward on a lineup with Tristan Thompson and Anderson Varejao, but when Varejao gets injured again, they’ll wish they had taken Noel. Sergey Karasev at #19 is fair value for a player who can shoot.
ORLANDO: I understand why teams like Victor Oladipo, and I like him too, but he was only #7 on my list. Oladipo is the jack of all trades – good at everything, great/amazing at nothing. I expect him to play well for Orlando, but once again, a team that had the opportunity to grab the draft’s best talent in Nerlens Noel ended up passing.
PHOENIX: Fell into the Alex Len trap. I don’t think Len will be a bust – he was one of the players I had as likely to succeed – but when I look at his statistical profile there’s just nothing that gets me too excited about him. Certainly he isn’t the shot blocking force Noel is. Len will likely be a solid big man, but fall short of all-star status.
SACRAMENTO: Fell into the Ben McLemore trap. At least the Kings didn’t pass on Noel to take him. When I look at McLemore’s numbers I see a good shooter who doesn’t provide much of anything else. The Kings redeemed themselves a bit by getting Ray McCallum in round two. If getting these two guards means they’re moving on from Tyreke Evans, that is a silver lining for them.
BOSTON: Their original pick was Lucas Nogueira, but they traded him to Dallas for Kelly Olynyk. I have nothing against Olynyk except his age. He was a terrific player for Gonzaga but at 22 years old the odds are against him being an impact NBA player. They would have been better off with Nogueira for their rebuild.
MINNESOTA: The biggest loser of the draft. It’s a shame because the Timberwolves have such a good core with Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio. I don’t trust Shabazz Muhammad to be a team-first player at all. As much as I like Gorgui Dieng, he’s 23 and that stacks the odds against him. This is pretty damning of Flip Saunders as Minnesota GM.
DALLAS: Seemed to be focused on building for the future more than anything. With that said, Lucas Nogueira moved through them and they ended up with Shane Larkin. Larkin’s not a horrible pick but the Mavericks really could have done a lot better.
CHICAGO: When I look at Tony Snell’s numbers I find a player who rates well in absolutely zero categories. Why the Bulls reached to select him is a mystery to me.
BROOKLYN: Obviously what the Nets did in the draft is not the big news of their day. That pales in comparison to acquiring Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. With that said I was thoroughly unimpressed by Brooklyn’s selection of Mason Plumlee with the 22nd pick.
INDIANA: Solomon Hill is a reach from bustville, or a bust from reachville. Or perhaps the Pacers know something I don’t. Either way, Hill is my lowest rated player to be chosen in the first round and I’m not a fan of this draft pick.
NEW YORK: It’s always entertaining to watch Knicks fans go crazy when it’s their turn to pick. It was even more entertaining this year when they went nuts for their team’s selection of Tim Hardaway Jr. If they saw Hardaway Jr.’s numbers as a junior at Michigan they wouldn’t be quite so excited.