Heading into the 2014 NBA draft, we knew an exceptionally high number of teams would be getting potential franchise players but had nothing beyond a faint idea as to who would land where.
When the dust settled at the Barclays Center, Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid, Julius Randle, Jabari Parker and the rest of this immensely talented class had all found new homes, many of which were in unexpected places.
This was unquestionably one of the deepest groups of prospects seen over the last two decades; so for all 30 of the league's general managers, the importance of choosing wisely cannot be understated.
Here's a look at grades for each one of the 60 picks made in New York, as well as a breakdown of the best and worst fits between teams and their new draftees.
|2014 NBA Draft Grades|
|36||Bucks||Johnny O'Bryant III||PF||B|
|40||Timberwolves||Glenn Robinson III||SF||A|
|56||Nuggets||Roy Devyn Marble||SG||B|
Marcus Smart, Boston Celtics
The rebuilding Celtics were in need of a future game-breaker when selecting at No. 6, and they got one in former Oklahoma State stud Marcus Smart.
At first glance, it might not look like the smartest of decisions given that Smart and Rajon Rondo, Boston's lone remaining All-Star performer, both play point guard, but Celtics coach Brad Stevens believes the two will benefit one another, per ESPNBoston.com's Chris Forsberg:
I don't think there's any doubt, I think they can play together. I think it will be great for Marcus to have a guy like Rondo to look up to, to learn from. Not many guys get that opportunity, especially early on in the draft like this.
Marcus is another guy that I was thrilled that he was there at 6, because physically he's ready to play and he competes every single minute of every single day.
Rondo's a notoriously icy, competitive guy, so he doesn't fit the mold of a prototypical mentor, but for Smart, it's hard to think of a better role model to learn from, even if it's at a bit of a distance.
I didn't think Smart was the ideal pick at No. 6 in the interests of the club, but there is reason to believe his transition to the NBA will be relatively smooth with Boston.
He'll probably get to play right away. He will be regarded as a long-term franchise pillar and won't have much pressure to make the postseason in the immediate future.
And, with Stevens, a coach with a reputation for getting the most out of his players, in charge, USA Today's Eric Prisbell believes this is a mutually beneficial union.
Smart will be held accountable yet made to believe in his abilities, and if he avoids the off-court issues that plagued him in 2013-14, he could be the centerpiece of this team going forward.
Julius Randle, Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers began the evening as a team that seemed completely reliant on their abilities to lure top talent to Hollywood via free agency, but now, this team suddenly has a future star to one day replace Kobe Bryant.
That's because while Randle's tumble all the way down to the Lakers at No. 7 may have cost the former Kentucky power forward in terms of the value of his first contract, he couldn't have hand-picked much of a better landing spot.
For his part, Bryant seemed to recognize the importance of the moment for the franchise, as the five-time NBA champion was very pleased with the addition of the 6'9" Randle.
And the feeling has to be mutual:
Bryant will be the unquestioned leader of this team until he finally calls it a career, but from the sound of things, he's encouraged about the arrival of his heir to the throne.
Kyle Anderson, San Antonio Spurs
It really isn't fair that coming off one of the most dominant NBA Finals showings in recent memory, the Spurs continue to find ways to improve.
But that's precisely why this team has remained a contender for the last two decades, and in taking Kyle Anderson with the final selection of Round 1, San Antonio may have snatched up another steal to add to a collection of non-lottery picks that includes Kawhi Leonard, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker.
What's most striking about how well Anderson's strengths mesh with San Antonio's team-first style of play is evident in CBS Sports' Matt Moore's account of his best attributes: "Tremendous vision and passing ability. Draws fouls well and understands schemes and speeds of the game."
With the Spurs, Anderson will get time to adjust to the NBA, while the team's current legends play out the final season or two, and as we've seen from David Robinson to Tim Duncan to Leonard, this is an organization that fosters development from within.
Bruno Caboclo, Toronto Raptors
Brazilian prospect Bruno Caboclo may one day become an invaluable piece for the Toronto Raptors, but for a team coming off an encouraging season, shouldn't there be some urgency to get better in the immediate future?
At No. 20, the Raptors could've had Shabazz Napier, but as CBS Sports' Zach Harper framed things, they took a virtual unknown in Caboclo:
"I have very little idea who Bruno Caboclo is. I hadn't heard the name before the draft and then all of a sudden Masai Ujiri is taking him with the 20th pick of the first round. He's called the Brazilian Kevin Durant but that doesn't mean anything. He looks athletic and he can attack the rim."
I'm not saying he won't benefit from playing in Toronto, which seems to be a team that has jelled and seems to have a bright future. I simply believe that this team selected based on a need that shouldn't have been at the forefront.
But now, with Kyle Lowry's future with the Raptors in doubt, addressing the potential void created by his absence would've been the best choice, because this team may be headed back to the lottery if its star point guard isn't back in 2014-15.
Zach LaVine, Minnesota Timberwolves
It's been a tough few weeks for the T-Wolves, who appear to be preparing to part ways with franchise player Kevin Love, albeit against their will.
Theoretically, one of the only ways in which Minnesota could conceivably convince Love to stay would be to make a postseason push in 2014-15, which makes Flip Saunders' decision to take Zach LaVine puzzling.
LaVine, while oozing with potential and athletic abilities, could very possibly help this team in the long term, but he's a project. This team just doesn't have the luxury of waiting any longer to take the next step toward respectability.
There's a lot to like about his raw talent, but after averaging less than 10 points per game with UCLA, it's tough to see how he'll be able to make an impact anytime soon.
And, as Fox Sports' Phil Ervin reported, LaVine appeared to be less than thrilled to be taken by Minnesota: "His reaction immediately spawned social media speculation he's unhappy coming to Minnesota, which hasn't been to the playoffs in 10 years and could be saying goodbye to its franchise player in the near future."
Now, the Timberwolves will pray that LaVine and 2013 first-rounder Shabazz Muhammad develop into the players their physical abilities suggest they could be, because otherwise, Love will not be back.
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