The 2014 NBA draft truly felt like a watershed moment for professional basketball. The amount of talent available in the draft, combined with the extensive coverage and the ever-increasing influx of foreign prospects, might make this draft one of the more notable nights in league history.
There was plenty at stake for each and every team involved in the draft. Even the second-round prospects were enough to convince the cash-flush Brooklyn Nets to get in on the draft. They went from having no picks on Thursday night to picking up three late-draft prospects via trade.
This was a markedly different approach from the Washington Wizards, who sold their only draft pick to the Los Angeles Lakers. The team must be confident in the core of John Wall and Bradley Beal to skip out on this draft class entirely.
I'm not a professor, but I don't mind busting out the metaphorical red pen, spilling some digital ink and grading each team on their draft decisions.
|2014 NBA Draft Trades, Grades|
|Trade Partners||Team||Team||Trade Grades|
|Chicago Bulls-Denver Nuggets||Bulls receive: Doug McDermott (11), Anthony Randolph||Nuggets receive: Jusuf Nurkic (16), Gary Harris (19), 2015 second-round pick||Bulls: A Nuggets: A-|
|Philadelphia 76ers-Orlando Magic||76ers receive: Dario Saric (12), 2015 second-round pick, 2017 first-round pick||Magic receive: Elfrid Payton (10)||76ers: B+ Magic: B|
|Charlotte Hornets-Miami Heat||Hornets receive: P.J. Hairston (26), Semaj Christon (55), 2019 second-round pick, cash considerations||Heat receive: Shabazz Napier (24)||Hornets: A Heat: B+|
|Memphis Grizzlies-Utah Jazz||Grizzlies receive: Jarnell Stokes (35)||Jazz receive: 2015 second-round pick||Grizzlies: B+ Jazz: C+|
|Atlanta Hawks-Milwaukee Bucks||Hawks receive: Lamar Patterson (48)||Bucks receive: 2015 second-round pick||Hawks: B- Bucks: B+|
|Los Angeles Lakers-Washington Wizards||Lakers receive: Jordan Clarkson (46)||Wizards receive: cash considerations||Lakers: A- Wizards: D|
|Oklahoma City Thunder-Charlotte Hornets||Thunder receive: Semaj Christon (55)||Hornets receive: cash considerations||Thunder: B Hornets: B|
|Denver Nuggets-Orlando Magic||Nuggets receive: Arron Afflalo||Magic receive: Evan Fournier, Roy Devyn Marble (56)||Nuggets: A Magic: C+|
|New York Knicks-Indiana Pacers||Knicks receive: Louis Labeyrie (57)||Pacers receive: cash considerations||Knicks: B Pacers: B|
|San Antonio Spurs-Philadelphia 76ers||Spurs receive: Nemanja Dangubic (54)||76ers receive: Jordan McRae (58), Cory Jefferson (60)||Spurs: B+ 76ers: C+|
|Brooklyn Nets-Minnesota Timberwolves||Nets receive: Markel Brown (44)||Wolves receive: cash considerations||Nets: B Wolves: B-|
|Brooklyn Nets-Toronto Raptors||Nets receive: Xavier Thames (59)||Raptors receive: cash considerations||Nets: B+ Raptors: D|
|Brooklyn Nets-Philadelphia 76ers||Nets receive: Cory Jefferson (60)||76ers receive: cash considerations||Nets: B 76ers: B|
|New Orleans Pelicans-Philadelphia 76ers||Pelicans receive: Russ Smith (57)||76ers receive: rights to Pierre Jackson||Pelicans: B- 76ers: B|
|Dallas Mavericks-New York Knicks||Mavericks receive: Tyson Chandler, Raymond Felton||Knicks receive: Jose Calderon, Wayne Ellington, Shane Larkin, Samuel Dalembert, Cleanthony Early (34), Thanasis Antetokounmpo (51)||Knicks: A Mavericks: B-|
|NBA.com, grades by Nate Loop|
|2014 NBA Draft: Overall Grades|
|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)||A-|
|Cleveland Cavaliers||Andrew Wiggins (1), Joe Harris (33), Dwight Powell (45)||A|
|Detroit Pistons||Spencer Dinwiddie (38)||C+|
|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),||A+|
|Miami Heat||Shabazz Napier (24)||B+|
|Orlando Magic||Aaron Gordon (4), Elfrid Payton (10)||A-|
|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)||A+|
|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)||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)||C-|
|Utah Jazz||Dante Exum (5), Rodney Hood (23)||B+|
|NBA.com, grades by Nate Loop|
Best Overall Night: Charlotte Hornets
In terms of hitting team needs and making savvy trades, you could hardly do much better than the Charlotte Hornets' haul from Thursday night.
First, they got a bruising power forward in the form of Noah Vonleh, a tremendous value pick at No. 9 overall.
ESPN's Bomani Jones believes the hype on Vonleh should have people questioning how Indiana coach Tom Crean utilized him last season:
Vonleh should be a huge upgrade over Josh McRoberts for the Hornets. He is an excellent rebounder, works hard on defense and should wreak havoc trading off with Al Jefferson in the low post.
Vonleh couldn't help but show off his monstrous mitts at the draft:
You know who else has giant hands? Kawhi Leonard. Just saying.
It's tough for teams to succeed in this league without a solid outside shooter on the wing. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has tried in vain to improve his shot, with mixed results.
|Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, NBA Stats|
|Season||Games||Minutes||Points||Field-goal %||Free throw %|
|Basketball-Reference.com, (stats per game)|
His field-goal percentage improved while his free-throw percentage plummeted, and he's zero threat from long distance. Gilchrist may be able to hit the open jumper more consistently, but he is a liability in late-game situations if he can't be more consistent from the charity stripe.
The Hornets may have solved this problem by swapping Shabazz Napier for P.J. Hairston. The D-League star has a very smooth shooting motion. He hit 35.8 percent of his threes with the Texas Legends and 87 percent from the foul line. Hairston is the kick-out option Kemba Walker needs in pick-and-roll situations.
The Hornets also received cash considerations from the Oklahoma City Thunder for Semaj Christon to improve their bottom line. They also traded No. 45 Dwight Powell and Brendan Haywood to the Cavaliers for Alonzo Gee and his expiring contract, as per the Akron Beacon-Journal's Jason Lloyd.
Their sophisticated approach makes them clear winners on the night; if Vonleh and Hairston shake out, Charlotte could be making a run at finishing in the top four of the Eastern Conference as early as next season.
Worst Overall Night: Toronto Raptors
If you happened to have turned your head away from the screen before NBA commissioner Adam Silver announced the Raptors' pick at No. 20, the organization might need to apologize for giving you whiplash.
The Raptors selected the little-known Bruno Caboclo from Brazil.
ESPN's Fran Fraschilla, via ESPN's Jeff Goodman, had this to say about the pick:
Basketball Insiders' Alex Kennedy relayed some vague platitudes regarding Caboclo, although the descriptors didn't correspond with where the Raptors drafted him:
The Raptors can save cap space by stashing Caboclo for a few years, but potentially re-signing Kyle Lowry shouldn't really break the bank. The Raptors are a young team with a chance to improve in a weak Eastern Conference; they could have used more of a win-now approach to the draft.
Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri was quick to dismiss his detractors. Via Eric Koreen of the National Post:
I shouldn’t say this, but I don’t care. We’re in a business where I can’t react to anything, I just have to maybe do my job and you hope that the best comes out of it. Yeah, is it a gamble? Yes. But I was asking someone, do we remember who the 20th picks of the last 10 drafts are?
It's one thing to gamble on a top choice when you have a few other options in your back pocket, but Ujiri didn't have that luxury in 2014.
The Raptors then took DeAndre Daniels with the No. 37 choice, the one that was supposedly earmarked for Caboclo.
After that perplexing decision, the Raptors decided to do away with their final second-round draft choice, sending the rights to Xavier Thames to the wealthy Brooklyn Nets.
Thames would have been a solid option for the Raptors, especially since Lowry might not return to the league. The Raptors began the night with three picks and might just have Daniels to show for it next season.
Sure, all the draft-night decisions could all work out wonderfully for the team in the end; until that moment comes, the Raptors' brass will have to absorb the criticism.