The 2014 NBA draft started in a way that most fans and analysts were expecting, but it quickly turned into an unpredictable affair full of trades, shocking selections involving players casual viewers never heard of and one of the most heartwarming moments in sports.
Most drafts take on an air of unpredictability, but this year's was particularly maddening because there were so many teams that had multiple picks and not enough roster spots to use them all. This led to a number of deals being made and/or international players taken who won't arrive for another year or two.
Now that we have seen what teams did, it's time for that time-honored tradition of grading the draft.
My grading system reflects more on the value teams got instead of the talent they got since we won't know definitively which players are good or bad for at least two years. There may be some grades higher than you will see on other sites because of this process, and vice versa.
|Boston Celtics||Marcus Smart (6), James Young (17)||B|
|Brooklyn Nets||Markel Brown (44), Xavier Thames (59), Cory Jefferson (60)||C|
|New York Knicks||Cleanthony Early (34), Thanasis Antetokounmpo (51), Louis Labeyrie (57)||C+|
|Philadelphia 76ers||Joel Embiid (3), Dario Saric (12), K.J. McDaniels (32), Jerami Grant (39), Vasilije Micic (52), Jordan McRae (58)||A|
|Toronto Raptors||Bruno Caboclo (20), DeAndre Daniels (37)||D|
|Chicago Bulls||Doug McDermott (11), Cameron Bairstow (49)||B+|
|Cleveland Cavaliers||Andrew Wiggins (1), Joe Harris (33)||A-|
|Detroit Pistons||Spencer Dinwiddie (38)||C+|
|Milwaukee Bucks||Jabari Parker (2), Damien Inglis (31), Johnny O'Bryant III (36)||B+|
|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)||B+|
|Orlando Magic||Aaron Gordon (4), Elfrid Payton (10)||B|
|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), Bogdan Bogdanovic (27), Alec Brown (50)||B+|
|Sacramento Kings||Nik Stauskas (8)||B|
|Houston Rockets||Clint Capela (25), Nick Johnson (42)||B+|
|Memphis Grizzlies||Jordan Adams (22), Jarnell Stokes (35)||B-|
|New Orleans Pelicans||Russ Smith (47)||C-|
|San Antonio Spurs||Kyle Anderson (30), Nemanja Dangubic (54)||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)||B|
|Oklahoma City Thunder||Mitch McGary (21), Josh Huestis (29)||B|
|Utah Jazz||Dante Exum (5), Rodney Hood (23)||A-|
Best Draft: Philadelphia 76ers
It's easy to say that the team with six picks in the draft had the best night, but that team still has to do something with all those selections to make it worthwhile. What makes the 76ers' draft so compelling is how they just went for it.
When you are a franchise that went through a season losing 26 straight games at one point and 63 overall, you must be willing to go for the home run. No. 3 selection Joel Embiid may not play this year, but he can afford to redshirt with Nerlens Noel coming back.
Embiid and Noel, whenever they play together, give the 76ers one of the most intriguing young frontcourt combinations in the NBA.
No. 12 pick Dario Saric, another big man, brings a different skill set with range on his shot and ball-handling, which gives him multiple dimensions. He just signed an extension with a team in Turkey that will keep him overseas for at least two years (with a player option for a third), but he said in a post-draft press conference he intends to play in Philadelphia, via Eliot Shorr-Parks of NJ.com.
I am not a liar. I told them I would be back. I will play in Philadelphia. I think we can talk about (coming to Philadelphia) to my Turkey team after this season. If there is chance to leave, I will come here.
The 76ers also got K.J. McDaniels, a defensive stalwart, in the second round at No. 32 and a raw but immensely talented upside play in Jerami Grant with the 39th pick.
All of Philadelphia's picks are as likely to bust as carve out long NBA careers, but you can't say general manager Sam Hinkie played things safe. If he hits with even one player in this class, the 76ers will have a star for the next decade.
Worst Draft: Toronto Raptors
What was the biggest story from the 2014 NBA draft?
I'm going to contradict myself by bashing the Toronto Raptors for betting on upside after praising the 76ers for doing exactly the same thing. However, there are two significant differences that must be taken into account.
First, whether you think they can repeat it or not, the Raptors were a playoff team last year and have a need at point guard due to Kyle Lowry heading to free agency. They could also use someone to defend the rim. Shabazz Napier and Jarnell Stokes, two proven college players, were still on the board.
The 76ers are far from being a playoff team, so they needed to take big risks in order to turn their franchise around. They also took chances on players who performed on the biggest stage in college basketball (Embiid, McDaniels, Grant, Jordan McRae).
Second, when you have ESPN's Fran Fraschilla saying on the draft night broadcast that Toronto's first-round pick, Bruno Caboclo (No. 20 overall), is "two years away from being two years away," it's not a good sign.
If you're waiting four years to get any sort of return on a draft investment, you've made a mistake.
Biggest Trade: Chicago Bulls Acquire Doug McDermott from Denver Nuggets
It took 10 picks before we got our first proposed trade, but it was what happened at No. 11 that made the most impact.
The Chicago Bulls, who have been desperately seeking an offensive spark for two years, had two picks in the late teens to work with.
However, Sam Amick of USA Today broke the news that Doug McDermott was going from Denver to Chicago for the Bulls' pair of first-round picks:
To follow on McDermott, he goes to Bulls and No. 16 and No. 19 go to Denver. Parts finally flying around...— Sam Amick (@sam_amick) June 27, 2014
Looking at the deal in a vacuum, it made sense for the Bulls. Yet, it's also a move that needs to be looked at from afar.
The Bulls no longer have to commit the roughly $2.8 million in guaranteed rookie salaries for the Nos. 16 and 19 picks, needing to use only $1.9 million for McDermott.
If you combine those savings with the potential $16.8 million the Bulls can use if they decide to amnesty Carlos Boozer, that gives them more flexibility to make a run at Carmelo Anthony in free agency.
Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun Times reported in May that Chicago's front office is prepared to get rid of Boozer and his escalating salary:
Despite general manager Gar Forman insisting that a decision to seek amnesty on the last season of Boozer’s contract ‘‘doesn’t have to be made until July,’’ sources indicated at the end of the Bulls’ season that a decision already had been made and that Boozer wouldn’t be returning.
Anthony has seemingly been the great prize for the Bulls for months, and ESPN.com's Chris Broussard reported they are one of the teams 'Melo will meet with once free agency officially begins on July 1.
Even if the Bulls' pursuit of Anthony falls short, they have at least taken one of the necessary steps to give them a real chance at landing him. They can also take solace in knowing they still have a good young shooter on the roster in McDermott.
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