For a night that so many organizations have aimed toward over recent seasons, the 2014 NBA draft certainly lived up to the hype. Now it's a matter of the players living up to that same hype.
Although the destinations of Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker and Joel Embiid dominated the storylines and speculation heading into Thursday night, there was little surprise when that trio saw their names come off the board first. After that, though, it got awfully interesting with plenty of teams making surprise moves—some good, and some not so good.
Some of the tank-happy teams got their wish at the top of the board, while other teams with great opportunities decided to go in head-scratching directions.
Let's break down grades for all 30 teams that took part in the 2014 NBA draft.
|Boston Celtics||Marcus Smart (6), James Young (17)||A-|
|Brooklyn Nets||Markel Brown (44), Xavier Thames (59), Corey Jefferson (60)||B-|
|New York Knicks||Cleanthony Early (34), Thanasis Antetokounmpo (51), Louis Labeyrie (57)||B+|
|Philadelphia 76ers||Joel Embiid (3), Dario Saric (12), K.J. McDaniels (32), Jerami Grant (39), Vasilije Micic (52), Jordan McRae (58)||B|
|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)||B-|
|Milwaukee Bucks||Jabari Parker (2), Damien Inglis (31), Johnny O'Bryant III (36)||A|
|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), Roy Devyn Marble (56)||C+|
|Los Angeles Clippers||C.J. Wilcox (28)||C|
|Los Angeles Lakers||Julius Randle (7), Jordan Clarkson (46)||A-|
|Phoenix Suns||T.J. Warren (14), Tyler Ennis (18), Bogan Bogdanovic (27), Alec Brown (50)||B+|
|Sacramento Kings||Nik Stauskas (8)||C|
|Houston Rockets||Clint Capela (25), Nick Johnson (42)||B+|
|Memphis Grizzlies||Jordan Adams (22), Jarnell Stokes (35)||B-|
|New Orleans Pelicans||Russ Smith (47)||B|
|San Antonio Spurs||Kyle Anderson (30), Nemanja Dangubic (54)||A-|
|Denver Nuggets||Jusuf Nurkic (16), Gary Harris (19), Nikola Jokic (41)||A-|
|Minnesota Timberwolves||Zach LaVine (13), Glenn Robinson III (40), Alessandro Gentile (53)||B+|
|Oklahoma City Thunder||Mitch McGary (21), Josh Huestis (29)||C+|
|Utah Jazz||Dante Exum (5), Rodney Hood (23)||A-|
Grades via Steven Cook, results via NBA.com
The Bucks were the second team to draft on Thursday night, but their selection had more of a No. 1-overall feel to it—which should play out on the court as well.
Jabari Parker had a real chance to go No. 1 overall, but the Bucks weren't about to pass him up at No. 2 when Andrew Wiggins was selected first.
Milwaukee knows what it is getting with Parker—a player who is already polished on the offensive end with the ability to play on the wing or even at the four spot, if needed. He's already big and skilled enough to be the Bucks' go-to guy from the start, despite being one year removed from high school.
Perhaps most important for the Bucks is that he doesn't seem to mind the idea of sticking around his whole career, as the Washington Post's Michael Lee observed:
Jabari Parker, very emotional about going to MIL. “I’m trying to be a throwback player & stick with one team.” #NBAdraft— Michael Lee (@MrMichaelLee) June 27, 2014
The Bucks were the worst team in basketball last season, but the tanking has paid off in a big way with Milwaukee nabbing one of the top prospects not just in this class, but in the last five or six years. There's no real star power on the roster, meaning Parker can be the franchise player from the start and the Bucks can build around him.
They began doing so before Thursday's draft even concluded, adding Damien Inglis and Johnny O'Bryant. Inglis should be an immediate addition, per the Bucks' Twitter account:
GM John Hammond says the Bucks plan on bringing Damien Inglis to the team immediately. #BucksDraft— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) June 27, 2014
Inglis will give the Bucks some depth on the wing to help out Parker, and O'Bryant has great potential as a post scorer and rebounder who can crack the rotation. But there's no doubt that this draft is all about Parker, and Milwaukee got its man.
It might be safe to say that when the Sixers decided more than a year ago to sell out for the 2014 draft, few around Philadelphia expected neither Wiggins nor Parker to be available when the Sixers were on the clock.
For much of the months leading up to draft day, it was working out perfectly for Philly as Joel Embiid threatened to be picked at No. 1 or 2—leaving either Wiggins or Parker, not both, open. Well, Embiid's fractured foot a week before the draft put a stop to that.
But there was no denying Embiid's stock, per the team's official Twitter:
"Bottom line, Joel Embiid was going to go #1 before the injury." – Coach Brown says getting him at #3 is exciting pic.twitter.com/UV6Fw1sFqL— Philadelphia 76ers (@Sixers) June 27, 2014
Picking Embiid complicates things a bit in Philly as it picked Nerlens Noel in the 2013 draft before sitting him out all of last season. But Noel's ceiling to begin with was a starter at best, so this allows Embiid—a franchise player if he fulfills his potential—to take the long-term role of dominating the frontcourt.
Of course, the Sixers were busy on draft day with a number of picks. They moved down from No. 10 to 12, grabbing Dario Saric on a draft-and-stash—arguably the best international player in the class who figures to make a big impact when he leaves Europe.
Philadelphia continued stockpiling talent in the second round, adding Jerami Grant, Vasilije Micic and Jordan McRae. Grant can be an impact rebounder right away, while McRae is a pure scorer who will give the backcourt more options if he thrives.
With picks No. 16 and 19 in the first round, the Chicago Bulls were in position to add a couple of talented youngsters to help bolster a championship-caliber squad that has a number of holes.
But they had their sights set on just one player, and using both picks to get him ended up being an easy choice. The Bulls added Doug McDermott by moving into the lottery and grabbing him with the 11th overall pick.
Of course, the biggest move the Bulls are hoping to make this offseason isn't in the draft, but rather to add Carmelo Anthony. Yahoo Sports' Marc J. Spears reported Friday that the Bulls are one of five teams Anthony expects to meet with.
This may or may not help in that regard, but ESPN's Mike Wilbon likes the pick regardless:
The Bulls acquisition of McDermott is a huge add - on whether or not he's joining Carmelo nor not...Bulls need multiple scorers and shooters— Michael Wilbon (@RealMikeWilbon) June 27, 2014
It's not hard to see why McDermott fits so well. The Bulls are a serious contender, but their lack of scoring on the wing—and in general—has been their downfall over recent seasons.
If Chicago makes a serious free-agent swoop in the coming days and weeks, it will need McDermott to bring a scoring burst off the bench. If the Bulls fail to bring in a max-contract free agent, they'll really need McDermott's scoring.
All in all, the Bulls couldn't have gotten a much better fit for what they're trying to build in 2014-15.
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