The 2014 NBA draft was headlined by Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker and Joel Embiid. They were the three premium prospects in a loaded class, and went at Nos. 1, 2 and 3 overall to the Cleveland Cavaliers, Milwaukee Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers, respectively.
However, there were plenty of other teams that made out well on Thursday. Due to the slew of promising players available, many first-round talents fell past the first 30 picks. Even teams who weren't fortunate enough to have any picks in Round 1 managed to land great value in the draft's latter stages.
Here is a look at grades for every team as well as further analysis regarding some of the draft's most interesting selections.
|36||Johnny O'Bryant III||PF||LSU|
|10*||Elfrid Payton||PG||UL Lafayette|
|Celtics||6||Marcus Smart||PG||Oklahoma State||A-|
|26*||P.J. Hairston||SG||NBA D-League|
|49||Cameron Bairstow||PF||New Mexico|
|40||Glenn Robinson III||SF||Michigan|
|Suns||14||T.J. Warren||SF||N.C. State||C-|
|50||Alec Brown||C||Green Bay|
|Hawks||15||Adreian Payne||PF||Michigan State||B|
|43||Walter Taveras||C||Cape Verde|
|19*||Gary Harris||SG||Michigan State|
|56||Roy Devyn Marble||SG||Iowa|
|59||Xavier Thames||PG||San Diego State|
|Knicks||34||Cleanthony Early||PF||Wichita State||A|
|Nets||44*||Markel Brown||SG||Oklahoma State||B|
* indicates draft-day trade for pick
Best Lottery Value: Noah Vonleh, PF, Charlotte Hornets (No. 9)
Not only did Charlotte swing a trade late in the first round to land P.J. Hairston, but they also nabbed Vonleh with the ninth pick. Former Creighton star Doug McDermott was reportedly a strong consideration here, per Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix, but the Hornets were wise in selecting Vonleh instead.
Just one year at Indiana was all Vonleh needed to prove he was ready for the NBA. An extraordinary offensive skill set combined with a 7'4" wingspan makes Vonleh a nightmare matchup on both ends as a power forward. That's a dimension Charlotte could certainly use.
ESPN's Skip Bayless praised the pick, while Andy Katz pointed out that the Hornets didn't even bring in Vonleh before the draft to run through drills:
Way to go, MJ. Charlotte keeps getting better. Every time I watched Noah Vonleh play, I saw NBA. Long, smooth, skilled. Steal at 9.— Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) June 27, 2014
Noah Vonleh didn't work out for Charlotte. Agent Jeff Schwartz said didn't think he would get to No. 9. Hornets say they are keeping pick.— Andy Katz (@ESPNAndyKatz) June 27, 2014
Although Charlotte invested last year's top pick in another Hoosier in Cody Zeller, there's no question which player offers more upside and has a higher ceiling. It's Vonleh—and it's not even close.
The Hornets are coming off a playoff appearance and are at the dawn of a new era. Vonleh figures to be a prominent part of that. With Al Jefferson serving as the bruiser down low, Vonleh can help with spacing and use his unique physical tools to contribute right away. He could eventually develop into an All-Star.
Teams that were concerned about how raw Vonleh was will be frustrated to see him shining in Charlotte for years to come.
Most Befuddling Pick: Bruno Caboclo, SF, Toronto Raptors (No. 20)
When NBA commissioner Adam Silver announced this pick, it was met with unanimous skepticism. With such great value to be had at No. 20, the Raptors opted to go a quite unusual route.
ESPN's Jeff Goodman noted what Fran Fraschilla had to say regarding Caboclo:
Quote of the night from @franfraschilla on Bruno Caboclo: "He's two years away from being two years away."— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) June 27, 2014
If it does indeed take the relative unknown swingman from Brazil time to develop, Toronto will feel it missed out on a big opportunity to grab a more immediate contributor. Perhaps the Raptors want to clear out cap space, but landing a marquee free agent—much less re-signing point guard Kyle Lowry—is going to be difficult.
That's especially so in light of this pick. Although Toronto finished third in the East in 2013-14, its core of players is still a piece or two away from really threatening to go on a deep playoff run. From the sounds of it, Caboclo won't be a part of any such effort for a number of years.
Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders added this, suggesting Caboclo was discussed as a potential draft pick—just not so high:
Last week, I reported that Bruno Caboclo had a draft promise, but multiple executives said it was second round. Nobody expected top-20.— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) June 27, 2014
This is what qualifies as a reach pick. Based on what happened last season, the team should have taken an NBA-ready role player to give them an extra spark. Instead, they await a project in Caboclo, though it is worth noting the Raptors emerged with two great prospects form the second round in point guard Xavier Thames and DeAndre Daniels.
Biggest Haul: Philadelphia 76ers
In addition to adding some solid second-rounders in K.J. McDaniels and Jerami Grant, general manager Sam Hinkie continued a fascinating rebuilding effort by landing Embiid and Dario Saric within the top 12. The draft grade they receive is only a "C" because of the uncertainty ahead for what happened at the top.
Embiid is a big question mark due to his recent foot injury, but former Kentucky star Nerlens Noel was a Sixers first-round pick last year coming off a torn ACL. Noel had a redshirt season and will now hit the hardwood as a potential elite defender. That is something Embiid can morph into, but he also has the offensive game to match.
Villanova head coach Jay Wright praised the Sixers for taking a flier on Embiid:
Joel Embiid is a great break for @Sixers - brilliant pick-the most potential of any prospect - most value - go 76ers !!— Jay Wright (@VUCoachJWright) June 27, 2014
Philadelphia gutted last year's roster in the hopes of landing in the lottery for this draft. Then Hinkie turned around and essentially hinted that next season should offer more of the same. Another losing campaign may be too much for fans to take.
ESPN's Chad Ford criticized the Sixers' strategy, while Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated observed how long it could be before Philly gets any return on Embiid or Saric:
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
Saric is playing in Turkey for at least one year, probably two, if you believe what he says. Embiid saying 4-6 months, but could be longer.— Chris Mannix (@ChrisMannixSI) June 27, 2014
Which team had the best NBA draft haul?
When thinking about what this team could be down the road, though, it's undeniably fascinating. Presuming Noel and Embiid stay healthy—why would Hinkie risk it if he thought they wouldn't be?—they would form one of the most athletic, agile and best defensive frontcourts in the game.
Pair those two with Michael Carter-Williams, along with a unique talent like Saric who can play point forward, and Philadelphia would suddenly be explosive. Then again, all of these moves could blow up in Hinkie's face. That's a real possibility, and this rebuilding effort will look comical in retrospect because of the seemingly incredulous risks the front office has taken and how the Sixers have often deferred for future assets.
The future will eventually come, so the sooner Embiid can return to the court, the quicker Philadelphia can begin its turnaround.