Immediately after the conclusion of the 2014 NBA draft, fans are begging to know how good of a job their favorite team did at acquiring talent.
Players have a way of surprising draft experts after serving a few years in the league. With this in mind, it is impossible to know how well each team did until we see how things work out on the court.
Still, every team in the draft needs to use its position to gain value while minimizing risk. It does not make sense to take a chance on a player too early who only has a slight chance of excelling a few years down the road. Upside only works when you can get value for it and have a plan for it to develop.
Here is a look at grades for each pick in the draft with a breakdown of the best team drafts from Thursday night.
|1||Cleveland Cavaliers||Andrew Wiggins, SF, Kansas||A|
|2||Milwaukee Bucks||Jabari Parker, SF Duke||A|
|3||Philadelphia 76ers||Joel Embiid, C, Kansas||A-|
|4||Orlando Magic||Aaron Gordon, PF, Arizona||B+|
|5||Utah Jazz||Dante Exum, PG, Australia||B|
|6||Boston Celtics||Marcus Smart, PG, Oklahoma State||A|
|7||Los Angeles Lakers||Julius Randle, PF, Kentucky||A-|
|8||Sacramento Kings||Nik Stauskas, SG, Michigan||C|
|9||Charlotte Hornets||Noah Vonleh, PF, Indiana||A+|
|10||Orlando Magic||Elfrid Payton, PG, UL Lafayette||B-|
|11||Chicago Bulls||Doug McDermott, SF, Creighton||B|
|12||Philadelphia 76ers||Dario Saric, SF, Croatia||A-|
|13||Minnesota Timberwolves||Zach LaVine, PG, UCLA||B|
|14||Phoenix Suns||T.J. Warren, SF, N.C. State||A-|
|15||Atlanta Hawks||Adreian Payne, PF, Michigan State||B|
|16||Denver Nuggets||Jusuf Nurkic, C, Bosnia-Herzegovina||B+|
|17||Boston Celtics||James Young, SG, Kentucky||A|
|18||Phoenix Suns||Tyler Ennis, PG, Syracuse||B-|
|19||Denver Nuggets||Gary Harris, SG, Michigan State||A+|
|20||Toronto Raptors||Bruno Caboclo, SF, Brazil||D|
|21||Oklahoma City Thunder||Mitch McGary, PF, Michigan||C-|
|22||Memphis Grizzlies||Jordan Adams, SG, UCLA||C-|
|23||Utah Jazz||Rodney Hood, SF, Duke||B+|
|24||Miami Heat||Shabazz Napier, PG, Connecticut||A+|
|25||Houston Rockets||Clint Capela, PF, Switzerland||A-|
|26||Charlotte Hornets||P.J. Hairston, SG, UNC/NBA D-League||A|
|27||Phoenix Suns||Bogan Bogdanovic, SG, Serbia||C-|
|28||Los Angeles Clippers||C.J. Wilcox, SG, Washington||C+|
|29||Oklahoma City Thunder||Josh Huestis, SF, Stanford||C|
|30||San Antonio Spurs||Kyle Anderson, SF, UCLA||A-|
|31||Milwaukee Bucks||Damien Inglis, SF, France||B-|
|32||Philadelphia 76ers||K.J. McDaniels, SF, Clemson||A|
|33||Cleveland Cavaliers||Joe Harris, SG, Virginia||B|
|34||New York Knicks||Cleanthony Early, SF, Wichita State||A+|
|35||Memphis Grizzlies||Jarnell Stokes, PF, Tennessee||A-|
|36||Milwaukee Bucks||Johnny O'Bryant III, PF, LSU||B+|
|37||Toronto Raptors||DeAndre Daniels, SF, Connecticut||B-|
|38||Detroit Pistons||Spencer Dinwiddie, PG, Colorado||A-|
|39||Philadelphia 76ers||Jerami Grant, SF, Syracuse||A|
|40||Minnesota Timberwolves||Glenn Robinson III, SF, Michigan||A-|
|41||Denver Nuggets||Nikola Jokic, PF, Serbia||B-|
|42||Houston Rockets||Nick Johnson, SG, Arizona||A|
|43||Atlanta Hawks||Walter Tavares, C, Cape Verde||B-|
|44||Brooklyn Nets||Markel Brown, SG, Oklahoma State||B+|
|45||Charlotte Hornets||Dwight Powell, PF, Stanford||B-|
|46||Los Angeles Lakers||Jordan Clarkson, PG, Missouri||C+|
|47||New Orleans Pelicans||Russ Smith, PG, Louisville||A-|
|48||Atlanta Hawks||Lamar Patterson, SG, Pittsburgh||B-|
|49||Chicago Bulls||Cameron Bairstow, PF, New Mexico||B|
|50||Phoenix Suns||Alec Brown, C, Green Bay||B|
|51||New York Knicks||Thanasis Antetokounmpo, SF, Greece||A-|
|52||Philadelphia 76ers||Vasilije Micic, PG, Serbia||B|
|53||Minnesota Timberwolves||Alessandro Gentile, G, Italy||C+|
|54||Philadelphia 76ers||Nemanja Dangubic, SF, Serbia||B+|
|55||Charlotte Hornets||Semaj Christon, PG, Xavier||A-|
|56||Denver Nuggets||Roy Devyn Marble, SG, Iowa||A|
|57||New York Knicks||Louis Labeyrie, C, France||B-|
|58||Philadelphia 76ers||Jodan McRae, SG, Tennessee||C|
|59||Toronto Raptors||Xavier Thames, PG, San Diego State||A-|
|60||Brooklyn Nets||Cory Jefferson, PF, Baylor||B+|
It seemed strange for the Celtics to draft a point guard when arguably the best player on the current roster was also a point guard. This is especially true considering both have problems shooting from the outside, making it unlikely either will move to the 2 position.
However, general manager Danny Ainge is confident Rajon Rondo will stick around even after Boston drafted Marcus Smart, telling Chris Forsberg of ESPN Boston:
Absolutely. No question. And [Smart] and Avery. No question. He’s a very versatile player. He can play off the ball. He can handle the ball. With his length and his size, he can probably play against a lot of small forwards -- 6-3, long wingspan, 230 pounds. He’s a very versatile player. Easily those guys can play together, and I think they would really thrive playing together, all of them.
The good news is that the Celtics now at least have a safety net as someone who can lead the rebuilding process from the point guard position. Smart is one of the best two-way players in the class and can do anything to help his team win.
Meanwhile, Boston made another strong pick later in the first round in the form of James Young. The wing is one of the best offensive players in the class thanks to his slashing ability and knack for finishing above the rim.
Young knows exactly how he will help the team right away:
James Young in what he'll bring to the Celtics: "Def bring a lot of energy. At the offensive end... Just put a lot of points on the board."— Boston Celtics (@celtics) June 27, 2014
If he can gain more consistency in his outside shot, he could become one of the bigger steals in this class.
The Nuggets needed help at more than one position after an extremely disappointing season. As a result, they traded the No. 11 pick for the No. 16 and No. 19 selections in the first round. This ended up being a good move for Denver because the organization was able to bring in two talented players.
First, the Nuggets selected Jusuf Nurkic, who is more advanced than your typical international big man. He has good technique in the low post and knows how to perform defensively.
Meanwhile, the real jewel of the class was Gary Harris at No. 19. The shooting guard was a bit inconsistent in college but has all the tools you look for in a shooting guard. Seth Greenberg of ESPN explains that his ability goes beyond ordinary measurements:
Gary Harris will be be a very good pro. Character toughness skills— Seth Greenberg (@SethOnHoops) June 27, 2014
Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com takes into account all the moves over the two-day period for the Nuggets:
Good day for the Nuggets. Add Afflalo at a low cost, trade down and get Nurkic and Harris, add intriguing second-rounder Jokic.— Scott Howard-Cooper (@SHowardCooper) June 27, 2014
It seems unlikely Denver will automatically become contenders in the Western Conference right away next season. Still, the additions will make a big difference going forward.
According to CSN Philly, Joel Embiid will miss the next five to eight months due to his surgery. Dario Saric will not come to the United States to play for at least two years. If you are a 76ers fan, it makes sense to be disappointed with this draft.
Things are even worse when you consider that Philadelphia is coming off a terrible year with Nerlens Noel sitting out all season with an injury.
So why was this draft a good one? Because the 76ers know that it will take a long time to turn this team into a contender and are patient enough to build for the long term.
Dana O'Neil of ESPN believes the first pick will end up well:
Sixers might have gotten steal of draft. Embiid is terrific, smart, great personality. Hope for his sake & 76ers organization he heals well— Dana O'Neil (@ESPNDanaOneil) June 26, 2014
Meanwhile, Saric can be a big-time player in the future with his pure skill on the offensive end. ESPN's Kevin Negandhi breaks down the strategy:
So Saric was the guy for the Sixers the whole time. Their draft so far is about potential and patience for the back end of the decade.— Kevin Negandhi (@KNegandhiESPN) June 27, 2014
Philadelphia added quality players in the second round like K.J. McDaniels and Jerami Grant, who will help out now and still have room to grow. This was a risky draft for the 76ers, but it will be fun to see how this turns out.
New York Knicks
This draft was extremely impressive for a team that did not have any picks as of one day earlier. The Knicks sent Tyson Chandler and others in a package that brought back some second-round selections, and New York made them count.
With their first pick, the Knicks selected Cleanthony Early, who could have easily been taken in the middle of the first round. ESPN's Jeff Goodman was happy with the selection:
Phil Jackson with a tremendous first draft picks as the head honcho of the Knicks: Cleanthony Early.— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) June 27, 2014
Early can create his own shot and consistently be a matchup nightmare for opposing defenders. On a team without many scorers, the Wichita State star can play a big role next season.
The Knicks then followed up this pick by taking Thanasis Antetokounmpo, the brother of the Milwaukee star. The Greek player is a bit older at 21 years old, but he still has plenty of upside that should excite fans as soon as he steps on the court.
When you add these picks to French center Louis Labeyrie, this was a good haul for the Knicks. Jeff Borzello of CBS Sports was impressed as well:
So basically this is the best Knicks draft in decades.— Jeff Borzello (@jeffborzello) June 27, 2014
While it would have been nice to have a first-round pick, the organization did a great job with what it had.
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