With the 2014 NBA draft in the books, there's a new air of optimism for all 30 teams who believe that one right move will bring a championship banner. Of course, if you catch some personnel people in an honest moment, they would say roster building is a process that doesn't yield results overnight.
Thanks to the benefit of hindsight, we will put grades to Thursday's action. It was certainly a memorable event, highlighted by commissioner Adam Silver's gesture to Isaiah Austin halfway through the first round, so there's much to discuss.
Even though grades are a wholly subjective thing, we try to put some method to it by examining the value teams got because we won't have a definitive answer on how good or bad these players are for at least two years.
|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)||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), Bogan 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), Semaj Christon (55)||B|
|Utah Jazz||Dante Exum (5), Rodney Hood (23)||A-|
Best Moment: Adam Silver Drafts Isaiah Austin Into NBA
Adam Silver has had to deal with a lot in nearly five months as NBA commissioner, most notably the Donald Sterling fiasco that could have been a nightmare. Silver got out in front of the situation quickly and justly was lauded for it.
Isaiah Austin is a 7'1" center who played two years at Baylor before declaring for the 2014 NBA draft. He was diagnosed with Marfan syndrome during the evaluation process and could no longer continue his playing career.
It was a crushing blow for a 20-year-old who probably would have been a second-round pick, but the opportunity to recognize Austin didn't slide past Silver. The commissioner stopped the draft about midway through the first round to acknowledge his presence in the building, then continued the incredible gesture by drafting the center into the NBA.
Commissioners often get booed by fans walking to the podium before a draft starts, but the Barclays Center greeted Silver with a rousing ovation prior to the first pick and only enhanced his legacy by giving Austin his moment in the spotlight.
Best Pick: Julius Randle to the Los Angeles Lakers
If you've seen the movie Inception, you know about the state of limbo that Leonardo DiCaprio's character is potentially stuck in when the credits roll. The ending of that movie reminds me a lot of where the Los Angeles Lakers find themselves entering next season.
Who had the best night at the 2014 NBA draft?
With Kobe Bryant under contract for two more years, the Lakers certainly aren't planning to go through a long rebuilding process despite losing 55 games last season and having one of the oldest rosters in the league.
There is some hope the club can land Carmelo Anthony and/or LeBron James in free agency because they have just four players under contract combining for a total of $34 million.
However, the Lakers' smartest move this offseason came on Thursday night when they opted to keep the No. 7 pick to take Kentucky power forward Julius Randle.
As Bleacher Report's Kevin Ding wrote after the draft, Randle gives Los Angeles the perfect mix of present performance and long-term upside to work with Bryant:
Bryant earned his ticket to L.A. with his legendary predraft workout against Michael Cooper in front of Jerry West. Randle said he was so strangely comfortable in the Lakers' practice gym that it felt "like home" to him for his own deal-sealing workout that ended with Jim Buss approaching for a handshake.
And 18 years to the day after Bryant was drafted, Randle was chosen by the Lakers.
The Lakers haven't picked in the lottery since drafting Andrew Bynum 10th overall in 2005. They needed to start building for the future while getting help for the present. Randle is the piece this franchise desperately needed and was fortunate to get him seventh overall.
Best Draft: Philadelphia 76ers
There's not a more divisive draft class than the Philadelphia 76ers'. If you look at grades from around the Internet, you can find just as much praise as you do uncertainty over what general manager Sam Hinkie is trying to do.
ESPN.com's Chad Ford (Insider subscription required) gave the team an incomplete, citing the fact that Embiid may not play this season and Dario Saric being under contract overseas and unavailable to the 76ers for at least two years.
Sam Hinkie has a plan for the future, and it's rarely been this clear. Embiid and Saric will make little to no impact next year, as Saric will stay in Turkey while Embiid will miss extended time rehabilitating the foot stress fracture that caused his slide from the No. 1 spot. But they have ridiculous potential...
This is what the Sixers need to do as they continue to build for 2016 and beyond.
It's precisely because of where the Sixers are as a franchise that it's easier to agree with Joseph's assessment. If they were close to contending for a playoff spot, these moves would be easy to question after they bet big on another injured big man in Nerlens Noel last year.
Sometimes the best way to get out of purgatory is take big swings and misses. No team did that more than Philadelphia on Thursday night. It may end up biting the franchise in the future, but right now it looks like a brilliant strategy for Hinkie to follow.
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