Every team went into the 2014 NBA draft hoping to improve, but a few organizations did a better job of that than others.
While it is impossible to know exactly how well each player will turn out for a few years, it is never too early to judge the merits of a draft pick. It is still important to get value and fill needs when making selections, especially since the "fit" ends up playing a huge part in development.
Although everyone will have a different view on what occurred on Thursday night, here are complete grades by team with a breakdown of the most intriguing drafts.
|Boston Celtics||Marcus Smart (6), James Young (17)||A-|
|Brooklyn Nets||Markel Brown (44), Cory Jefferson (60)||B-|
|New York Knicks||Cleanthony Early (34), Thanasis Antetokounmpo (51), Louis Labeyrie (57)||B+|
|Philadelphia 76ers||Joel Embiid (3), Dario Saric (12), K.J. McDaniels (32), Jerami Grant (39), Vasilije Micic (52), Nemanja Dangubic (54), Jordan McRae (58)||A|
|Toronto Raptors||Bruno Caboclo (20), DeAndre Daniels (37), Xavier Thames (59)||D|
|Chicago Bulls||Doug McDermott (11), Cameron Bairstow (49)||B-|
|Cleveland Cavaliers||Andrew Wiggins (1), Joe Harris (33)||A-|
|Detroit Pistons||Spencer Dinwiddie (38)||B|
|Indiana Pacers||No Picks||-|
|Milwaukee Bucks||Jabari Parker (2), Damien Inglis (31), Johnny O'Bryant III (36)||A-|
|Atlanta Hawks||Adreian Payne (15), Walter Tavares (43), Lamar Patterson (48)||B-|
|Charlotte Hornets||Noah Vonleh (9), P.J. Hairston (26), Dwight Powell (45), Semaj Christon (55)||A|
|Miami Heat||Shabazz Napier (24)||A-|
|Orlando Magic||Aaron Gordon (4), Elfrid Payton (10)||A|
|Washington Wizards||No Picks||-|
|Golden State Warriors||No Picks||-|
|Los Angeles Clippers||C.J. Wilcox (28)||C+|
|Los Angeles Lakers||Julius Randle (7), Jordan Clarkson (46)||B-|
|Phoenix Suns||T.J. Warren (14), Tyler Ennis (18), Bojan Bogdanovic (27), Alec Brown (50)||B+|
|Sacramento Kings||Nik Stauskas (8)||C|
|Dallas Mavericks||No Picks||-|
|Houston Rockets||Clint Capela (25), Nick Johnson (42)||A-|
|Memphis Grizzlies||Jordan Adams (22), Jarnell Stokes (35)||C-|
|New Orleans Pelicans||Russ Smith (47)||C|
|San Antonio Spurs||Kyle Anderson (30)||B+|
|Denver Nuggets||Jusuf Nurkic (16), Gary Harris (19), Nikola Jokic (41), Roy Devyn Marble (56)||A+|
|Minnesota Timberwolves||Zach LaVine (13), Glenn Robinson III (40), Alessandro Gentile (53)||A-|
|Oklahoma City Thunder||Mitch McGary (21), Josh Huestis (29)||C|
|Portland Trail Blazers||No Picks||-|
|Utah Jazz||Dante Exum (5), Rodney Hood (23)||A|
Most Interesting Drafts
A year ago, the Philadelphia 76ers drafted Nerlens Noel and were willing to leave him on the bench while he recovered from a torn ACL. This worked out just fine because they were happy to tank and earn another high draft pick.
Unfortunately for fans, the squad is likely headed for another miserable season despite holding two lottery picks.
Joel Embiid represents as much upside as anyone in the class, but back and foot issues will slow his start. With the second selection, the 76ers worked to acquire Dario Saric, who will not come to the NBA for a few years as he remains in Croatia.
As ESPN's Chad Ford points out, it will be another poor year in Philadelphia:
Interesting, the Sixers won’t have either Embiid or Saric this year. Saric unlikely next year too. Tank City.— Chad Ford (@chadfordinsider) June 27, 2014
Pete Thamel of Sports Illustrated argues that this season will be tough for fans:
Philly has a couple redshirt candidates for next year (Embiid and Saric). My God, why would you ever buy season tickets? Ugh.— Pete Thamel (@SIPeteThamel) June 27, 2014
Still, few will deny Embiid's potential as someone who could be one of the best centers in the NBA when healthy. Meanwhile, David Aldridge of NBA.com thinks the Saric pick will pay off as well:
IMO, it's a smart move for Philly with their second first. Saric is a huge talent worth waiting for.— David Aldridge (@daldridgetnt) June 27, 2014
The squad was also able to add some legitimate contributors in the second round in the form of K.J. McDaniels, Jerami Grant and others.
There is obviously a lot of risk in this draft, but Philadelphia is clearly building for the future and looking for as much upside as possible. If things do not pay off, the franchise will likely have plenty of lottery picks in the coming years.
The Magic made one of the first surprising picks of the day by taking Aaron Gordon at No. 4. While he is incredibly athletic, he is very raw offensively and does not quite fit the system, as noted by Jonathan Givony of Draft Express:
How does Aaron Gordon fit in with Tobias Harris and Mo Harkless, two fellow tweener SF/PFs in Orlando's frontcourt? This was a bold move.— Jonathan Givony (@DraftExpress) June 27, 2014
On the other hand, he is still extremely young and should have plenty of time to turn his potential into production. Gordon also provided his own scouting report to 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
This was just the first of two early picks for the Magic, who were able to acquire Elfrid Payton from Philadelphia in a trade that cost Orlando a future first-round pick, according to CBS' Ken Berger:
Philadelphia gets Orlando's 2017 first-round pick, 1-11 protected, in Saric-Payton deal. Pick is 1-8 protected in 2018.— Ken Berger (@KBergCBS) June 27, 2014
Payton is also relatively raw, but he was a great scorer at Louisiana-Lafayette and knows how to play defense. The question is whether he will be able to improve his shot to truly become an all-around offensive threat.
While both lottery picks can be considered reaches, at least one celebrity fan is impressed:
Considering this squad is still a few years from true contention, these high-upside picks have time to pay off down the line.
Although the Nuggets had a chance to bring in Doug McDermott, the organization decided to instead move back for multiple picks, sending the Creighton star to the Chicago Bulls for the No. 16 and No. 19 selections, according to Jon Greenberg of ESPN Chicago.
This ended up paying off well for the Nuggets, which were able to get two solid players in the middle of the first round.
Jusuf Nurkic might not excite fans that are unfamiliar with his game, but analysts like Kevin Pelton of ESPN were high on him:
Nurkic was my best player available at 11. Love Nuggets not only getting him but also adding 19 as well. #NBAFrontOffice— Kevin Pelton (@kpelton) June 27, 2014
Meanwhile, the No. 19 pick was a true steal in Gary Harris, who could have been taken in the top 10 without anyone questioning the move. ESPN's Jemele Hill was impressed by the selection:
My bad...Nuggets just got a STEAL— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) June 27, 2014
Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated had good things to say about the duo as well:
Nice draft for the Nuggets. Nurkic is a project, but has strong offensive potential. If Harris can get his shot right, he's a steal at 19.— Chris Mannix (@ChrisMannixSI) June 27, 2014
The Nuggets had a lot of holes to fill on this roster, and they did a great job of finding multiple players who can help out going forward.
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