The hard part is over.
As Corey Jefferson had his name called to conclude the 2014 NBA draft, we became aware of where each prospect is and could begin to analyze their fits, thus giving us the ability to identify prospects who will turn out to be the top in the class and sleepers who will shock even the staffs that selected them.
The best part? It's loads easier than discerning how last year's shaky class panned out. It was hard to tell that a guy like Giannis Antetokounmpo, taken No. 15 overall, would turn out to be so great. We just knew the No. 2 overall selection, Victor Oladipo, would turn out alright.
The same applies this year. Let's take a look at some grades before diving right into the action.
|1||Cleveland Cavaliers||Andrew Wiggins, SF, Kansas||A|
|2||Milwaukee Bucks||Jabari Parker, SF Duke||A|
|3||Philadelphia 76ers||Joel Embiid, C, Kansas||B|
|4||Orlando Magic||Aaron Gordon, PF, Arizona||A+|
|5||Utah Jazz||Dante Exum, PG, Australia||A|
|6||Boston Celtics||Marcus Smart, PG, Oklahoma State||C|
|7||Los Angeles Lakers||Julius Randle, PF, Kentucky||B|
|8||Sacramento Kings||Nik Stauskas, SG, Michigan||D|
|9||Charlotte Hornets||Noah Vonleh, PF, Indiana||A|
|10||Orlando Magic||Elfrid Payton, PG, UL Lafayette||B|
|11||Chicago Bulls||Doug McDermott, SF, Creighton||B|
|12||Philadelphia 76ers||Dario Saric, SF, Croatia||D|
|13||Minnesota Timberwolves||Zach LaVine, PG, UCLA||C|
|14||Phoenix Suns||T.J. Warren, SF, N.C. State||C|
|15||Atlanta Hawks||Adreian Payne, PF, Michigan State||B|
|16||Denver Nuggets||Jusuf Nurkic, C, Bosnia-Herzegovina||C|
|17||Boston Celtics||James Young, SG, Kentucky||B|
|18||Phoenix Suns||Tyler Ennis, PG, Syracuse||B|
|19||Denver Nuggets||Gary Harris, SG, Michigan State||A|
|20||Toronto Raptors||Bruno Caboclo, SF, Brazil||D|
|21||Oklahoma City Thunder||Mitch McGary, PF, Michigan||C|
|22||Memphis Grizzlies||Jordan Adams, SG, UCLA||C|
|23||Utah Jazz||Rodney Hood, SF, Duke||B|
|24||Miami Heat||Shabazz Napier, PG, Connecticut||B+|
|25||Houston Rockets||Clint Capela, PF, Switzerland||C|
|26||Charlotte Hornets||P.J. Hairston, SG, UNC/NBA D-League||B|
|27||Phoenix Suns||Bogan Bogdanovic, SG, Serbia||D|
|28||Los Angeles Clippers||C.J. Wilcox, SG, Washington||C|
|29||Oklahoma City Thunder||Josh Huestis, SF, Stanford||C|
|30||San Antonio Spurs||Kyle Anderson, SF, UCLA||A+|
|31||Milwaukee Bucks||Damien Inglis, SF, France||C|
|32||Philadelphia 76ers||K.J. McDaniels, SF, Clemson||B|
|33||Cleveland Cavaliers||Joe Harris, SG, Virginia||D|
|34||New York Knicks||Cleanthony Early, SF, Wichita State||A|
|35||Memphis Grizzlies||Jarnell Stokes, PF, Tennessee||A|
|36||Milwaukee Bucks||Johnny O'Bryant III, PF, LSU||C|
|37||Toronto Raptors||DeAndre Daniels, SF, Connecticut||C|
|38||Detroit Pistons||Spencer Dinwiddie, PG, Colorado||C|
|39||Philadelphia 76ers||Jerami Grant, SF, Syracuse||B|
|40||Minnesota Timberwolves||Glenn Robinson III, SF, Michigan||B|
|41||Denver Nuggets||Nikola Jokic, PF, Serbia||C|
|42||Houston Rockets||Nick Johnson, SG, Arizona||C|
|43||Atlanta Hawks||Walter Tavares, C, Cape Verde||C|
|44||Brooklyn Nets||Markel Brown, SG, Oklahoma State|
|45||Charlotte Hornets||Dwight Powell, PF, Stanford||B|
|46||Los Angeles Lakers||Jordan Clarkson, PG, Missouri||C|
|47||Philadelphia 76ers||Russ Smith, PG, Louisville||B|
|48||Atlanta Hawks||Lamar Patterson, SG, Pittsburgh||C|
|49||Chicago Bulls||Cameron Bairstow, PF, New Mexico||C|
|50||Phoenix Suns||Alec Brown, C, Green Bay||B|
|51||New York Knicks||Thanasis Antetokounmpo, SF, Greece||A|
|52||Philadelphia 76ers||Vasilije Micic, PG, Serbia||C|
|53||Minnesota Timberwolves||Alessandro Gentile,G, Italy||C|
|54||Philadelphia 76ers||Nemanja Dangubic, SF, Serbia||C|
|55||Charlotte Hornets||Semaj Christon, PG, Xavier||B|
|56||Denver Nuggets||Roy Devyn Marble, SG, Iowa||C|
|57||New York Knicks||Louis Labeyrie, C, France||C|
|58||Philadelphia 76ers||Jodan McRae, SG, Tennessee||C|
|59||Toronto Raptors||Xavier Thames, PG, San Diego State||B|
|60||Brooklyn Nets||Corey Jefferson, PF, Baylor||B|
ESPN, Highlighted picks indicated draft-day trade
Jabari Parker, SF, Milwaukee Bucks
Between Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker, it is the Duke project who will have the most success both now and into the future.
Fans have known for quite some time that Parker was more pro-ready than his Kansas rival and set to score seemingly at will as a rookie, but this notion is only furthered by his landing in Milwaukee with the hapless Bucks.
There, Parker immediately becomes the No. 1 option on the offense, while the aforementioned Antetokounmpo can slide to the 2-guard spot. As Numbers Never Lie records, he's in some great company stats-wise:
FR w/ 19+ PPG, 8+ RPG, 35% 3-pt FG pct in last 15 seasons: '14: Jabari Parker '08: Michael Beasley '07: Kevin Durant ...ALL drafted No.2— Numbers Never Lie (@ESPN_Numbers) June 26, 2014
For his part, Parker is ready to give all he has to the organization, as captured by Michael Lee of the Washington Post:
Jabari Parker, very emotional about going to MIL. “I’m trying to be a throwback player & stick with one team.” #NBAdraft— Michael Lee (@MrMichaelLee) June 27, 2014
Given his situation and already sound set of skills, Parker is set to be a resounding success right away.
Aaron Gordon, PF, Orlando Magic
The youngest player in the draft class just so happens to be one of the most pro-ready on the defensive side of the court, which was surely why the Orlando Magic elected to shock the globe and grab Arizona's Aaron Gordon at No. 4 overall.
Gordon averaged 12.4 points, 8.0 boards, 1.0 blocks and 0.9 steals per game last season, but the real focal point is on what he brings to the table as a defender. It's clearly a theme the Magic have built around in recent years, as Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders alludes to:
Elfrid Payton, Victor Oladipo, Maurice Harkless and Aaron Gordon? How will teams score on ORL next season? Excellent draft for the Magic.— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) June 27, 2014
As did Gordon, via SLAM Magazine:
Aaron Gordon: "I bring energy. I bring defense. I bring a mismatch problem, and I just bring a high energy teammate." pic.twitter.com/z6T0GGUpWg— SLAM Magazine (@SLAMonline) June 27, 2014
Gordon will have a massive impact next to Nikola Vucevic next season, although—outside of his acrobatic dunks—he won't get much national attention for being a defensive stalwart.
Just give it time. As long as he continues to develop a shot and improve from the line, Gordon is a surefire superstar.
Shabazz Napier, PG, Miami Heat
Napier stayed in college all four years and most recently willed his UConn squad to the national title while posting averages of 18.0 points, 5.9 boards, 4.9 assists, 1.8 steals and 2.9 turnovers on 42.9 shooting from the field.
The hype train hit Napier hard on the late path to the draft, but he went about where most had always expected—No. 24 overall—before being promptly shipped to the Miami Heat, per ESPN's Brian Windhorst:
Heat will trade No. 26, No. 55 and a future 2nd to the Hornets for Shabazz Napier— Brian Windhorst (@WindhorstESPN) June 27, 2014
The King let his thoughts be known on the matter:
My favorite player in the draft! #Napier— LeBron James (@KingJames) June 27, 2014
Given the potential situation Napier could find himself in, at a minimum likely with James at his side, the future is quite bright for the Huskies star. Napier was never the type of point guard who was going to uplift a mediocre squad at the pro level, but he can put a great team in a great position to win and benefit as well.
In Miami, Napier is sure to be a hit.
Kyle Anderson, SF, San Antonio Spurs
It's simply not fair. The San Antonio Spurs win the title and sit on their hands for 29 picks before waltzing to the podium and promptly getting a major steal.
Kyle Anderson's name will be well known in living rooms around the nation before long, and ESPN's Jay Bilas was right to call him "the best passer in the draft" on the broadcast—the 6'9" Anderson averaged 6.5 assists per game last season.
So yes, he's perfect for the Spurs' system, especially with Boris Diaw not with the team anymore. ESPN's Myron Medcalf put it best:
Kyle Anderson will be the 2015 Finals MVP. That's just what they do in San Antonio.— Myron Medcalf (@MedcalfByESPN) June 27, 2014
Alright, that might be a slight exaggeration, but Anderson is a star in the making who lands in a system that milks the absolute best out of anyone who joins the roster. Along with those gaudy assist numbers, he also posted 14.6 points, 8.8 boards, 1.8 steals and 0.8 blocks.
Anderson can contribute right away, but he is also the right man for the franchise long term. Don't forget his name.