2016 NBA Draft Grades: Full Team-by-Team Report Cards
Welcome to the 60 newest members of the NBA's exclusive fraternity.
Ben Simmons got to join first, after the Philadelphia 76ers made him the No. 1 pick of the 2016 NBA draft. A few hours later, Tyrone Wallace became the last, when the Utah Jazz granted the title of Mr. Irrelevant.
Twenty-six different teams added new players Thursday night. Naturally, you want to find out how they did. We won't keep you waiting any longer.
Note: The Charlotte Hornets, Miami Heat, New York Knicks and Washington Wizards will not be featured in this article, since none made picks on Thursday night.
Overall Grade: B
No. 12: Taurean Prince, SF, Baylor
The Atlanta Hawks may have reached for Taurean Prince with the pick gained in the Jeff Teague trade, but he is a small forward who fits their system and makes it easier to avoid overpaying Kent Bazemore in free agency. The Baylor product is a natural fit in head coach Mike Budenholzer's scheme, both because of his versatile defense and ability to stroke long-range jumpers.
During his final three seasons with the Bears, Prince shot at least 36 percent from beyond the arc—the latter two coming while he took at least four treys per game.
Think DeMarre Carroll. Think Bazemore. That's the type of player Prince should become with the Hawks, though his lack of strength could make it tougher for him to survive the rigors of a full NBA season.
No. 21: DeAndre Bembry, SF, St. Joseph's
Atlanta continues to restock on the wings, making it even more unlikely it's willing to pony up and hand Bazemore a new contract.
DeAndre Bembry doesn't have the shooting ability you might expect from a wing playing under Budenholzer, but he's terrific driving to the basket and finishing through traffic. He also gives the Hawks another ball-handling option to take some pressure off Dennis Schroder/whoever else is playing point guard, and that shot-creating ability should prove invaluable on a second unit that often struggles to generate its offense.
This small forward also excels on the less glamorous end, even finishing No. 23 throughout the NCAA in defensive points saved during his final season at St. Joseph's, per NBA Math.
No. 44: Isaia Cordinier, SG, France
And the Hawks dip into the wing well yet again.
This 19-year-old French shooting guard won't be ready to play in the NBA for a few years, but he could make a significant impact once finally prepared to journey across the pond. Isaia Cordinier has the athleticism necessary to thrive in transition and play high-quality defense, and his jumper has shown signs of quick development.
Still, he's the definition of a draft-and-stash prospect. That won't change for at least a couple seasons.
Overall Grade: B-
No. 3: Jaylen Brown, SF, California
Instead of trading the No. 3 pick for a package from the Philadelphia 76ers that included Nerlens Noel, Robert Covington, No. 24 and No. 26 (as ESPN's Marc Stein reported Philly offered), the Boston Celtics added a young prospect.
Jaylen Brown is one of the best athletes in this class, and general manager Danny Ainge will hope he's a nice complement to Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder. His long-term ability to drain jumpers and thrive in transition could ease the pressure on established Beantown players—free-agent Evan Turner will not be one of them, after this pick—and he could develop into a defensive stud.
But this is still a risky selection, given Brown's trouble focusing, poor ball-handling skills and overall lack of readiness to compete at a high level. Right now, he is a physical prospect who doesn't have the skilled part of the game down pat.
Given Boston's desire to contend right away, this screams that Ainge couldn't get a deal done and had to settle.
No. 16: Guerschon Yabusele, PF, France
Unable to find deals for their 1,347 picks, the Celtics went the draft-and-stash route with this 6'8" power forward from France.
Guerschon Yabusele doesn't have the typical size necessary to play NBA power forward, and he might have to line up at the 3 in bigger lineups. But he does have the skill: He's adept at finishing around the basket, can explode to the rim and is capable of knocking down long-range shots.
He averaged 11.5 points while shooting 53.9 percent from the field and 42.6 percent from deep with SPO Rouen Basket. Eventually, that ability should help the Celtics grow their frontcourt while moving on from the current crop of limited players. After all, Yabusele won't celebrate his 21st birthday until mid-December.
No. 23: Ante Zizic, C, Croatia
Is it back to the draft-and-stash well? It is.
It’s worth noting that at the FIBA U-19 World Championships last summer, [Ante] Zizic really was bothered by the length of current UCLA backup forward Thomas Welsh when Croatia played the U.S. in group play, and got shown up by Zubac and power forward Marko Arapovic, as both flourished after Zizic was sidelined with a groin injury and helped Croatia storm to the final. Zizic also doesn’t have an NBA buyout this summer, meaning he’s a draft-and-stash guy for at least one season.
The influx of international prospects in a few years could pay off for the Celtics, but they may also be squandering assets while trying to improve.
No. 45: Demetrius Jackson, PG, Notre Dame
If you overlook his limited shooting ability, it's tough to understand how Demetrius Jackson wasn't off the board by the time we were nearing the end of the first round. Even with his shaky jumper, he was rather high on many experts' lists.
This is tremendous value, even if Jackson will be hard-pressed to find playing time in a backcourt that includes Marcus Smart, Isaiah Thomas, Terry Rozier and Avery Bradley.
No. 51: Ben Bentil, PF, Providence
Even though Ben Bentil was one of the last 10 names to come off the board, he should be given a chance to compete for a rotation spot with the Celtics. So long as they're willing to look past his lack of height (6'8"), they'll quickly realize he's a born scorer who can produce points from any spot on the court.
At this stage of the draft, it's advantageous to target players who have a defined skill. Bentil showed it off throughout his final year at Providence by averaging 21.1 points while shooting 46.2 percent from the field and 32.9 percent from downtown. If he's able to work in short bursts, Bentil will be able to provide an offensive boost in Beantown.
No. 58: Abdel Nader, PF, Iowa State
Considering Abdel Nader was the fourth big man drafted by the Celtics on Thursday night, and wasn't really on the national radar, it's a bit unlikely he gets a serious chance to compete for a Boston roster spot. Instead, he'll have a role during summer league and get a chance to prove himself with the D-League's Maine Red Claws.
According to DraftExpress' Jonathan Givony, Nader's already agreed to do exactly that.
Overall Grade: B+
No. 20: Caris LeVert, SG, Michigan
Kudos to the Brooklyn Nets for biting the bullet.
There's no more waffling between rebuilding and trying to remain competitive. General manager Sean Marks traded Thaddeus Young to the Indiana Pacers for this pick, and he used it on a potential home run, swinging for the fences with Caris LeVert's upside.
A pair of stress fractures in his foot pushed this Michigan product down most draft boards, but LeVert remains a talented prospect with protoytpical size (6'7", 191 lbs), athleticism and shooting range. He will serve as a primary scoring option, though Brook Lopez should draw enough defensive attention that he won't be overwhelmed as a central piece of this rebuild.
Essentially, trading Young for LeVert sounds bad in a vacuum, but if he stays healthy, the rookie is a premier talent. And with so few lottery picks and so little free-agent appeal throughout the foreseeable future, the Nets were the perfect team to take this gamble.
No. 42: Isaiah Whitehead, SG, Seton Hall
The Nets need players who can score, and they're likely going to give Isaiah Whitehead every opportunity to do so.
Throughout his brief career at Seton Hall, the 2-guard proved not only that he was able to put the ball in the basket, but that he was willing to do so at the expense of everything else. Brooklyn will have to break his bad habits and maximize his innate talents on the offensive end, including strong court vision.
This is a risky move. But once more, Brooklyn is supposed to be taking chances.
Overall Grade: B+
No. 14: Denzel Valentine, SG/SF, Michigan State
So long as Denzel Valentine's knee troubles don't shorten his career too dramatically, the Chicago Bulls will have added a great prospect. Plus, head coach Fred Hoiberg is one of the more creative minds in the coaching ranks, so it's incredible to think of the sets he could draw up for a player with this much versatility.
Remember, Valentine averaged 19.2 points, 7.5 rebounds and 7.8 assists during his last season at Michigan State, shooting 46.2 percent from the field and 44.4 percent from downtown. According to NBA Math's total points added, he was the most valuable player in the NCAA, beating out Ben Simmons and Buddy Hield by a substantial margin.
Valentine's ball-handling abilities will help Chicago replace Derrick Rose, and his knack for draining perimeter jumpers will aid everyone. It's only the ongoing injury concerns that prevent this from being a true home run.
No. 48: Paul Zipser, SF, Germany
Even though he's an international player taken deep in the second round, Paul Zipser may not be a draft-and-stash candidate. Here's Sam Vecenie for CBS Sports:
There's a lot to like about him. He's athletic, defends multiple positions, hits shots, plays well away from the ball, and has terrific feel for the game. It's extremely easy to see a team plugging him into their lineup sooner rather than later and having a solid contributor. The reason his stock isn't necessarily higher is because he's just doesn't quite have the ceiling of some of these other players right now.
Chicago may have found itself a mini-steal.
Overall Grade: A-
No. 54: Kay Felder, PG, Oakland
The defending champions bought this pick from the Atlanta Hawks, per The Vertical's Shams Charania, and they used it to unearth a potential steal.
"He's a 5'9" Dominique Wilkins," Oakland head coach Greg Kampe recently said about his former point guard, via Sports Illustrated's Jesse Kramer. "He does stuff that makes you go: holy s--t! We'll throw him alley-oop passes and the ball looks like it's going out of bounds, and all of a sudden it's in the basket.”
If Kay Felder were a bit taller, he'd have become a first-round lock. Now, he's left scrambling to make a squad, and he should have a good chance to do so on a Cleveland Cavaliers outfit that could be looking to move on from both Mo Williams and Matthew Dellavedova.
Best of all? Felder has learned how to play off the ball—something that's fairly abnormal for a player with such diminutive stature—and that should bode well for his chances to succeed on a team that also employs LeBron James.
Overall Grade: B
No. 46: A.J. Hammons, C, Purdue
Can the Dallas Mavericks turn A.J. Hammons into a steal?
Few prospects seem to fall into the boom-or-bust category more than this physically gifted big man from Purdue. Attitude issues, a lack of conditioning and a limited motor held him back during his time with the Boilermakers, but he took over games when locked in.
It seems like one of two extreme outcomes is guaranteed here: Hammons will either make the most of his athletic ability and skill around the hoop, turning into one of the draft's biggest steals, or he'll quickly flame out and render the fruits of the No. 46 selection obsolete.
Overall Grade: B
No. 7: Jamal Murray, PG/SG, Kentucky
Despite a lottery finish, the Denver Nuggets don't have any significant needs. They boast talent and upside at every spot in the lineup, including the backcourt. Emmanuel Mudiay remains the point guard of the future, and Gary Harris developed into a usable 2-guard during his second season. But now, Jamal Murray will push that duo.
The Kentucky product is a lightning-quick and aggressive scorer with passing skills to boot. Whichever guard spot he lines up at, he can probe a defense and keep it honest with his knack for finding open teammates and hitting perimeter jumpers.
This is a move geared to bring more depth to the Mile High City, but it's still a bit troubling the Nuggets have spent each of their last two top picks on players who line up at the same position. There just aren't enough minutes to go around, and the ball has to remain in Mudiay's hands for his long-term development.
No. 15: Juan Hernangomez, PF, Spain
The Nuggets can't stop collecting international talents up front: they now boast bigs from Spain (Juan Hernangomez), France (Joffrey Lauvergne), Serbia (Nikola Jokic) and Bosnia-Herzegovina (Jusuf Nurkic). Of course, the newest addition probably won't play in 2015-16, serving instead as a draft-and-stash prospect on this overstuffed roster.
Only 20 years old and already showing the ability to serve as a stretch 4, he's ready to compete in the NBA, as Fran Fraschilla hinted at on the ESPN draft broadcast. But, due more to the nature of the roster than his own abilities, it's still best he develops abroad for one more year.
By that time, the Nuggets may have cleared up the logjam that includes the aforementioned international players and Kenneth Faried.
No. 19: Malik Beasley, SG, Florida State
Say it with me: Three. And. D.
Between Murray and Malik Beasley, Gary Harris must keep developing if he wants to hold on to his job. Beasley is a skilled defender who can use his athleticism and size (6'5", 190 lbs) to switch onto multiple positions, and he can space out the court with his jumper. During his final season with the Seminoles, he knocked down his treys at a 38.7 percent clip while taking 4.2 per game.
"He projects as a similar three-and-D 2-guard to the Dallas Mavericks' Wesley Matthews," Bleacher Report's Jonathan Wasserman wrote. "They're complementary shot-makers and opportunistic scorers, though you wouldn't want them first or second in your offensive pecking order."
Even on this crowded roster, the rookie could be an immediate contributor—so long as he realizes he doesn't need to do too much.
No. 53: Petr Cornelie, PF, France
Still only 20 years old, Petr Cornelie won't be playing in the NBA anytime soon.
The Nuggets have far too many bigs on the roster to hand him a spot, and that's doubly true if they decide to give Hernangomez a chance to compete from day one. But even if their frontcourt were bare, Cornelie would need time to add strength and work on his fundamentals.
Right now, he's an intriguing prospect, but only because he seems likely to morph into an athletic stretch 4.
Overall Grade: A
No. 18: Henry Ellenson, PF, Marquette
The Detroit Pistons have to be thanking their lucky stars, because Henry Ellenson is a perfect fit for their roster. He should be similarly happy, because the Pistons are one of the organizations able to maximize his strengths and minimize his weaknesses.
Next to Andre Drummond, Ellenson's lack of athletic ability shouldn't be too prominent. Detroit won't ask him to muscle up in the paint or protect the rim on a regular basis, leaving the heavy lifting to his stronger frontcourt counterpart. More importantly, the Pistons want shooting from every position to space the court around Drummond.
Don't be fooled by the one-and-done power forward's 28.8 percent shooting from deep at Marquette. His ability at the free-throw stripe and shooting form both bode well for development, and he should eventually extend his range beyond the NBA's three-point arc.
No. 49: Michael Gbinije, SF, Syracuse
Can Michael Gbinije shoot? Of course he can! He was drafted by the Pistons!
Often operating as a positionless player at Syracuse, he showed off a dizzying array of skills with the Orange. He'll likely settle in as a NBA small forward, but he can handle the responsibilities of multiple positions and serve as a secondary ball-handler for Detroit.
That said, it will take him some time to adjust defensively after working in Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim's vaunted zone schemes for three long years once he transferred from Duke.
Golden State Warriors
Overall Grade: B+
No. 30: Damian Jones, C, Vanderbilt
Could the Golden State Warriors be letting Festus Ezeli walk in free agency, only to replace him with another center from his alma mater? Damian Jones should make the incumbent big a bit more expendable, so long as he proves he's willing to work on the motor that often held him back at Vanderbilt.
Jones has every physical tool you could ask for in a big man: At 7'0" and 244 pounds, he's massive enough to hold his own in the low post and on the boards. He has the timing and explosiveness necessary to serve as a shot-blocking presence, and his wheels allow him to run the court faster than most frontcourt players. He can step out of the paint and knock down jumpers too.
Only the above-the-neck game held Jones back while with the Commodores, keeping him from becoming a consistent force against SEC competition. Luckily, there's nothing quite like a championship-caliber team to help the mental aspect develop.
No. 38: Patrick McCaw, SG, UNLV
The Warriors paid $2.4 million to the Milwaukee Bucks for this pick, per The Vertical's Adrian Wojnarowski, and they made the most of their purchase.
Patrick McCaw should eventually translate as a quality three-and-D presence, enabling him to fit in with the Golden State mentality on both ends of the floor. Just don't expect him to translate immediately. DraftExpress' Jonathan Givony has more:
McCaw was very inconsistent from game to game, and certainly doesn't look ready to step into a major role anytime soon at the NBA level. But at the same time, the growth he's shown in the last two years has been very impressive considering where he started (completely off the map as a high school recruit), and he shows many of the characteristics teams look for in a shooting guard position, with his size, length, athleticism, shooting ability, passing and defensive potential.
Overall Grade: B-
No. 37: Chinanu Onuaku, C, Louisville
Lest we forget, Dwight Howard will be seeking a new home after exercising his player option, and Donatas Motiejunas and Terrence Jones are both restricted free agents.
The Houston Rockets found their insurance policy: Chinanu Onuaku won't make even the tiniest offensive impact. He's as raw as it gets on that end of the floor, often missing easy shots and staying out of the way until he's able to grab an offensive board and clean up the trash.
But the former Louisville big is a threatening defensive presence who already understands the fundamentals of positioning and can leverage his athletic gifts into immediate production. That's a bit redundant with Clint Capela already on the roster, but it should help Houston's frontcourt depth down the road.
No. 43: Zhou Qi, PF/C, China
Six picks later, Houston decided to address the frontcourt again; After adding the defense-only specialist Onuaku, they went the opposite route by selecting Zhou Qi and his ridiculous 7'8" wingspan, per ESPN.
The Chinese big man loves to block shots, but he's also able to showcase his offensive skills. Though you might not expect it from a frontcourt player with his frame, he's a deft, willing distributor who can lead cutting players as they burst toward the basket. He also shows nice touch around the hoop—that's sure to be tested against the physical bigs in the NBA who will bully him in the painted area.
Qi is a project, but the rewards could be just as massive as his body.
Overall Grade: B
No. 50: Georges Niang, SF/PF, Iowa State
We're technically not grading the Indiana Pacers for their Jeff Teague and Thaddeus Young deals—the latter of which The Vertical's Adrian Wojnarowski reported—as both happened before the draft began. For grades and more information on those moves check out these links.
Because of the swaps, the Pacers didn't make a selection until No. 50, when they chose Iowa State's Georges Niang. It's a fun gamble, because this forward is one of those players who could defy the odds and fit in well with the modern NBA.
At 6'9", Niang is big enough to play power forward, and that should end up being his best position despite a lack of elite athletic ability. However, he's a skilled player who enjoys handling the ball and creating for others, and he often found success at Iowa State while operating on the wings.
If he's a positionless asset, he'll be a huge steal. If he's a tweener, he won't last long.
Los Angeles Clippers
Overall Grade: B-
No. 25: Brice Johnson, PF, North Carolina
Brice Johnson was all over the place: Bleacher Report's Jonathan Wasserman had him 19th on his big board; DraftExpress at No. 34; ESPN's Chad Ford at No. 29. NBADraft.net's Aran Smith at No. 16. But the Los Angeles Clippers didn't make a significant reach. They have needs everywhere on the roster as they attempt to add universal depth behind their potent starting five.
Johnson's nose for rebounds and explosive finishing ability around the basket should play well alongside either Blake Griffin or DeAndre Jordan, as will his knack for stepping out and knocking down mid-range jumpers. But unless he develops other parts of his game, he's destined to serve as a specialist off the bench.
With Deyonta Davis, Damian Jones, Furkan Korkmaz and other highly regarded prospects still on the board, this didn't feel like the perfect decision, even if it wasn't a bad one.
No. 39: David Michineau, PG, France
With the first of the two picks they acquired from the New Orleans Pelicans for No. 33, the Clippers made the puzzling decision to add a French point guard who wasn't really on the draft radar.
David Michineau is already 22 years old, but he didn't make much of an impact during his last season with Chalon-sur-Saone, averaging only 5.8 points, 1.2 rebounds and 1.9 assists while shooting 42 percent from the field and 26.9 percent from beyond the arc.
For a team that desperately needs to add depth, this didn't make much sense.
No. 40: Diamond Stone, C, Maryland
The Clippers still needed to shore up the wing positions. So, naturally, they took a raw center from Maryland.
Diamond Stone has the name necessary to become a gem, but that doesn't mean he's guaranteed to serve as a steal. He's not an NBA-caliber athlete and isn't yet strong enough to handle the rigors of an NBA season. That makes it exceedingly likely he'll spend a significant amount of time in the D-League as he works on honing his jumper and improving his defensive fundamentals.
Again, this was a weird decision for an organization that has often struggled to produce a strong second unit.
Los Angeles Lakers
Overall Grade: A
No. 2: Brandon Ingram, SF, Duke
The Los Angeles Lakers needed not only a quality scorer to lead them into the post-Kobe Bryant era, but also a player who could assume the superstar mantle. They found one in Brandon Ingram, and not just because his driving game is eerily reminiscent of a certain Texas product the Seattle SuperSonics selected No. 2 overall in 2007.
"He might get hit or thrown down," Ingram's father told USA Today's Scott Gleeson. "He might hear remarks on social media. But his response is always on the court. He channels the criticism by winning. That shows a lot about his strength on the inside. Everybody's talking about his strength on the outside with his frame. But that inner strength is what a team's drafting."
Ingram won't immediately look like Kevin Durant, he won't be able to make perfect use of his drool-inducing, 7'3" wingspan and he may even get pushed around by the league's bigger wings. But he's ready to score from day one, and his potential is sky-high.
No. 32: Ivica Zubac, C, Croatia
"[Ivica] Zubac has an NBA out in his contract this summer, according to his agent, Depending on where he ends up, a team might want to stash him overseas, where he'll get more playing time in 2016-17."
It remains to be seen what the Lakers will do with this 7-footer, since they could use low-post scoring and interior touch right away. But no matter what they choose to do, this should be viewed as a positive selection. Los Angeles isn't getting caught in the trap of trying to rebuild too quickly. Instead, it's seeking values and taking a legitimate first-round talent in the second round.
Overall Grade: B+
No. 17: Wade Baldwin IV, PG/SG, Vanderbilt
It might be time for Memphis Grizzlies fans to put their Mike Conley jerseys in storage. The southpaw is a free agent this summer, and he's likely to draw a massive contract from a team desperate to sign the best point guard on the market. So the Grizz now have a plan to mitigate the damage of losing him.
Wade Baldwin IV won't knock down many mid-range jumpers, but he has the ability to lead a team on both ends of the floor. He'll record plenty of steals, just like Conley, while locking down opponents who are often smaller than him (6'4", 202 lbs). He also displays strong court vision while constantly seeking his own shot at opportune times.
Whether serving as a re-signed Conley's backup or attempting to lead a team in the midst of a rebuild, Baldwin should have an immediate impact.
No. 31: Deyonta Davis, PF/C, Michigan State
The Grizzlies had to part with a 2019 first-round pick from the Los Angeles Clippers, per ESPN's Jeff Goodman. But they got back the Nos. 31 and 35 slots, courtesy of the selection-laden Boston Celtics. A first-rounder might seem like a lot to give up, but it was a fair price to snag Deyonta Davis.
The Michigan State big man is a legitimate lottery talent who inexplicably slipped out of the initial round, and his declining status doesn't change the tools in his arsenal. He can knock down mid-range jumpers, though he won't help Memphis solve its three-point woes. More importantly, he's an explosive leaper who understands how to parlay his physical gifts into rejections and boards.
Davis should fit nicely with the Grizzlies' enduring grit-and-grind style. In fact, we still would've given them strong marks for taking him with their first pick of the night.
No. 35: Rade Zagorac, SF, Serbia
There's the shooting touch the Grizzlies need.
Still only 20 years old, Rade Zagorac should continue developing overseas. But when he comes across the pond, he'll be able to knock down triples with regularity. The small forward has spent each of the last two seasons lining up for KK Mega Vizura, and he's nailed better than 37 percent of his three-point attempts during each of them.
No. 57: Wang Zhelin, C, China
Make it two draft-and-stash prospects for the Grizzlies.
Wang Zhelin may have a 7'0" frame and a developing mid-range jumper, but he's not even close to being ready. Even the D-League would be a significant step up in terms of competition, and it would expose his lack of strength.
Overall Grade: C+
No. 10: Thon Maker, PF, Australia
General manager John Hammond can't help himself. Perhaps swayed by the massive success he had gambling on Giannis Antetokounmpo, the man in charge of the Milwaukee Bucks took another big risk by selecting Thon Maker at No. 10.
The 7'1" power forward can knock down three-pointers, and he seems to be a solid athlete for his size. But he's also incredibly skinny at 216 pounds and will take years of development and weight training before he has a chance to bang around with NBA-caliber bigs. He could flame out, and No. 10 is too early for that kind of risk.
Maker needs to prove he has a top-notch basketball IQ and to show he's a hard worker who is willing to labor away in the NBA D-League, free from the national spotlight. He needs to add plenty of muscle to his lanky frame.
Hammond will look like a genius if this works. For now, it feels like he's doubling down on his previous success; there's no telling if the gambler's fallacy applies to the NBA draft.
No. 36: Malcolm Brogdon, SG, Virginia
Malcolm Brogdon doesn't fit the typical physical profile of an NBA wing. He's only 6'5", and he lacks the explosive athleticism that so often characterizes the modern 2-guard. But that doesn't make him ineffective.
Brogdon is a terrific shooter and defender who proved himself throughout his four-year career at Virginia. He's a smart player who's ready to make an impact, and head coach Jason Kidd won't hesitate before inserting him into the lineup in crucial situations. He can rest assured Brogdon won't make any poor decisions.
Overall Grade: B+
No. 5: Kris Dunn, PG, Providence
As The Vertical's Adrian Wojnarowski reported, Minnesota Timberwolves head coach Tom Thibodeau had Kris Dunn No. 1 on his draft board. After the Boston Celtics failed to find a deal at No. 3 and went another direction, Thibs got a chance to add the draft's best guard to his roster.
Minnesota won't ask Dunn to fill a gigantic role right away, as Ricky Rubio is more than serviceable at point guard. Of course, that could change if the Wolves trade Rubio. Either way, Dunn adds legitimacy to the second (or first) unit while developing into the floor general of the future, giving Zach LaVine a primary ball-handler to play alongside.
Dunn's defense and scoring ability should translate right away, especially if his jumper continues to progress. But it's his vision that made him arguably the third-best player in this class, and that should make the lives of Minnesota's other youngsters significantly easier.
The Wolves didn't just add Dunn. They also made Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins that much more dangerous.
New Orleans Pelicans
Overall Grade: A-
No. 6: Buddy Hield, SG, Oklahoma
The New Orleans Pelicans found a convincing running mate for Anthony Davis.
Buddy Hield may be older (22) than many of the other top prospects in this draft, but he used his experience with the Oklahoma Sooners to develop into a dangerous scorer. The lanky shooting guard knocked down 50.1 percent of his shots from the field and 45.7 percent of his three-point attempts as a senior, all while scoring 25.0 points per game.
The Pelicans can slot him into Eric Gordon's role, then watch as he becomes an even more dynamic scorer and takes pressure off Davis. It's an ideal fit both on and off the court—the latter because his nationwide popularity should help increase the attendance in Smoothie King Center.
No. 33: Cheick Diallo, PF/C, Kansas
The Pelicans traded Nos. 39 and 40 to move up to select Cheick Diallo, which is puzzling.
Though the Kansas product is a legitimate first-rounder who was still on the board early in the second, New Orleans needs extra bodies at this point in the rebuilding process. Especially with so many key players hitting free agency, it could have used the additional pick.
Plus, shoring up the wings should continue to be the top priority, even with Hield already in the fold.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Overall Grade: A+
No. 11: Domantas Sabonis, PF/C, Gonzaga
Per The Vertical's Adrian Wojnarowski, the Oklahoma City Thunder made big news by trading Serge Ibaka for Victor Oladipo, Ersan Ilyasova and the rights to Domantas Sabonis, whom they picked with the No. 11 selection.
Though the Gonzaga standout isn't a dazzling athlete and has trouble knocking down three-pointers, he can immediately fill a niche. His physicality and willingness to score with his back to the basket should give the Thunder another player who can draw attention away from Russell Westbrook and, if he returns, Kevin Durant. Plus, Sabonis' passing ability will open more sets than OKC had when throwing the ball in to Ibaka.
Oladipo and Ilyasova are both usable pieces. The former makes it easier to let Dion Waiters walk in free agency and gives OKC another primary ball-handler. The latter helps replicate Ibaka's three-point ability. Given the stagnation of the departed power forward's development, as well as the fact he was entering the final year of his deal, this is a coup.
No. 56: Daniel Hamilton, SF, Connecticut
After buying this pick from the Denver Nuggets, per Wojnarowski, the Thunder added a wing who should give head coach Billy Donovan a bit more usable depth.
During the 2015-16 campaign, OKC was forced to deploy a bunch of one-way players, and their limitations often held the team back. Andre Roberson could only play defense. Waiters could (mostly) just look for his own shot. Anthony Morrow was simply a spot-up marksman.
Hamilton isn't yet a two-way asset, or else he would've been off the board before No. 56. But he's shown a streaky jumper and has the physical tools necessary to blossom into a quality defender, which is more than many of the incumbents can say.
Overall Grade: C-
No. 41: Stephen Zimmerman, PF/C, UNLV
This isn't a shot at Stephen Zimmerman, who was a fine value at No. 41. His length and skill should play well in the Association, especially as he proves he's able to knock down perimeter jumpers at the sport's highest level.
For that pick alone, we'd give the Orlando Magic a B.
But the team made its first selection of the night at No. 41 because it traded away the No. 11 pick, Ersan Ilyasova and Victor Oladipo to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Serge Ibaka, per The Vertical's Adrian Wojnarowski. And that's what doesn't make sense.
OKC ripped off the Magic by getting a lottery pick and a high-potential guard for a big man on an expiring deal who plays the same position as Aaron Gordon. If the Magic are that desperate to win right away, they could've gone about their search in much more advantageous fashion.
Overall Grade: A
No. 1: Ben Simmons, SF/PF, LSU
Though the Philadelphia 76ers presumably toyed with the idea of bucking convention and adding a floor-spacing presence (Duke's Brandon Ingram) to their lineup, they couldn't resist the No. 1 talent in this draft class.
No matter how broken Ben Simmons' jumper may be, he's an incredible, franchise-altering prospect— exactly what the lottery-dwelling, perpetually rebuilding Sixers needed.
Simmons should immediately assume heavy ball-handling responsibilities, showcasing his preternatural court vision to create easier looks for everyone. But it still remains to be seen how well he fits next to the incumbent frontcourt players, because this roster is crowded with them.
No. 24: Timothe Luwawu, SG/SF, France
The Sixers found their shooter. Philadelphia desperately needs talent on the wings, and Luwawu may well have been the best bargain at No. 24.
Timothe Luwawu, the 21-year-old French swingman, is capable of making an immediate NBA transition, setting up as a long-range sniper when he's not showing off his athleticism in transition. Given his physical tools and sharp-shooting skill, he could quickly establish himself as a version of Evan Fournier who's a little better on the defensive end.
Over the course of 33 games with KK Mega Vizura, Luwawu hit 35.8 percent of his three-point attempts. That means he's continuing to trend in the right direction. Even on the Sixers, he'll draw a bit less defensive attention, allowing him to pick his spots and continue the multi-year increase.
No. 26: Furkan Korkmaz, SG, Turkey
Drafting Furkan Korkmaz was a curious decision while Demetrius Jackson was still on the board, given this franchise's dire need for a true point guard. Korkmaz can capably handle the ball and line up at the 1 for short stretches, but he's still a natural 2.
Nonetheless, it's hard to fault Philadelphia for drafting someone else who can stroke the ball from the outside.
Korkmaz has spent each of the last two years lining up for Anadolu Efes, knocking down 42.3 percent of his triples during 2014-15 and following that by shooting a 39.8 percent clip in 2015-16. He'll likely add another percentage point to that tally as a draft-and-stash prospect, but that's not a bad thing.
Overall Grade: B+
No. 4: Dragan Bender, PF, Croatia
As Bleacher Report's Jonathan Wasserman wrote, Dragan Bender has quite the unique package of skills:
You don't hear of 7-footers who cover this much ground. He can shoot the three and run the floor like [Kristaps] Porzingis. And he can handle it, pass and potentially defend like [Joakim] Noah.
If he can tie the versatility together without being held back physically, we could be talking about one of the game's most unique big men. Bender will have the chance to become an All-Star role player, similar to Draymond Green.
That offense-defense combination could make Bender invaluable to the Phoenix Suns, but he's far from a polished prospect. The 18-year-old hasn't proved himself against high-level competition, making this a shoot-for-the-moon pick.
Still, the Suns managed to find a hard-working kid at a position of need. His pick-and-pop skills will work nicely alongside Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight. And there's no telling how high his ceiling could rise once Phoenix commits to him at the 4.
No. 8: Marquese Chriss, PF, Washington
First announced by The Vertical's Adrian Wojnarowski, the Suns traded back into the top 10 to get their hands on Marquese Chriss, who will either develop into the next two-way stud or the second coming of Anthony Randolph. He's a project player, which means Phoenix has dedicated two of its roster spots to power forwards in need of serious development.
Nonetheless, if Bender makes sense for the Suns, so does Chriss.
Drafting them together could have been a head-scratching move, except Phoenix barely had to give anything up. It traded the No. 13 pick, the No. 28 selection and Bogdan Bogdanovic, per The Vertical's Shams Charania, which allows it to keep the backcourt together while improving the frontcourt's prospects.
No. 34: Tyler Ulis, PG, Kentucky
Apparently, the Suns want to continue collecting players who line up at the same position. Not because they drafted a third power forward (they didn't), but because, in Tyler Ulis, they added a diminutive scoring point guard to a roster that already includes Eric Bledsoe, Brandon Knight and Devin Booker.
Unless a trade is coming later in the offseason, it's tough to see how Ulis can find his way or the ball, since he'll always be playing alongside a more established backcourt scorer.
Portland Trail Blazers
Overall Grade: C
No. 47: Jake Layman, SF, Maryland
Though he's a three-and-D candidate with athleticism, Jake Layman doesn't make too much sense for the Portland Trail Blazers. He was a decent value at No. 47, but he's redundant on a roster that could feature both Allen Crabbe and Maurice Harkless in 2016-17—so long as Rip City is willing to retain them.
Throw in Pat Connaughton, who has a similar profile and was selected last year, and this pick gets stranger still. But worst of all, the Blazers didn't just pay the Orlando Magic $1.2 million to add Layman. Per The Vertical's Adrian Wojnarowski, they also shipped off a 2019 second-round pick.
It's not a terrible price, but it's a lot to give up for a player who won't spend a lot of time on the court. And if he does, that's problematic, since it means Portland wasn't willing to fork over some well-deserved cash to the incumbent small forwards.
Overall Grade: D+
No. 13: Georgios Papagiannis, C, Greece
The Sacramento Kings didn't just get Georgios Papagiannis at No. 13. They were only selecting at this spot because they handed the No. 8 pick to the Phoenix Suns in exchange for the Greek center, the No. 28 pick and the rights to Bogdan Bogdanovic, so all of that has to be factored into the grade. It still won't help.
Papagiannis is massive, standing at 7'2" and weighing 240 pounds. He's an incredibly strong prospect with good low-post skills, though there are some questions about his motor. And that's troubling, especially since it was a massive reach for the Kings to take him in the lottery.
The value here is just plain awful, even factoring in the other assets Sacramento got for the No. 8 selection. Plus, why are the Kings using their top pick on a 5 when the roster's two centerpieces—DeMarcus Cousins and Willie Cauley-Stein—both line up in the frontcourt?
No. 22: Malachi Richardson, SF, Syracuse
Who's more valuable: Malachi Richardson or Marco Belinelli? It's a relevant question because the Kings traded Belinelli to the Charlotte Hornets for the No. 22 pick, which they used to select this Syracuse product.
Fortunately, the answer is Richardson.
Belinelli was horribly inconsistent during his lone season with the Kings, shooting only 30.6 percent from three-point territory. Even as Richardson adjusts to the NBA and learns how to thrive in a catch-and-shoot role—he often created his own looks at Syracuse—he'll be able to hit at that clip and flash far more upside than the man he's replacing.
No. 28: Skal Labissiere, C, Kentucky
And the progress made with the Richardson selection is negated.
Even though it's reasonable to gamble on Skal Labissiere's immense upside at No. 28, the Kings don't need another big. This former Wildcat could develop into a three-point terror who protects the rim with aplomb a few years down the road, but the pick still doesn't make sense when so many other needs remain unaddressed.
The Kings require help at point guard now that Rajon Rondo is hitting free agency. They have to upgrade on the wings, even after the addition of Richardson six picks earlier.
No. 59: Isaiah Cousins, PG/SG, Oklahoma
Able to play both point guard and shooting guard (the former in shorter spurts), Isaiah Cousins filled an actual need for the Kings. He profiles as a three-and-D contributor and seemed to have a serious shot at going early in the second round.
For that reason, we'll bump Sacramento up from earning a straight "D" since Cousins could work his way onto the roster as a rookie and spend some garbage-time minutes racking up stats. Plus, there's some nice synergy to the Kings rostering two players with the same last name.
San Antonio Spurs
Overall Grade: A+
No. 29: Dejounte Murray, PG/SG, Washington
The San Antonio Spurs are unfair.
Everyone they touch in the NBA draft seems to turn into gold, and Dejounte Murray won't be an exception. After all, it's not often the Spurs have a chance to get their hands on a lottery talent who plays a position that currently features a declining legend.
This 19-year-old has two-way ability and a knack for playmaking seldom found in even the most elite college guards. Plus, his 6'5" frame gives him a natural advantage when lining up at point guard. Now, he'll get to learn from Tony Parker and could eventually take over as the floor general in San Antonio.
Many young guards would do just about anything to receive this type of opportunity, and few have Murray's natural talent.
Overall Grade: C
No. 9: Jakob Poeltl, C, Utah
The quest to find a power forward continues, because 7'1" Jakob Poeltl is a true center.
Though he could become an impact defender and a threat to knock down mid-range jumpers, it's tough to see Poeltl playing alongside Jonas Valanciunas. Neither has the quickness to hang with modern forwards, and the fast-paced NBA would give a dual-big lineup significant trouble.
Poeltl is the most talented center in this draft class, sure, and he could develop into a value at No. 9. But it's tough to see how this makes sense for the Toronto Raptors. You're just not supposed to use top-10 selections on players who are redundant with immovable pieces already on the roster.
No. 27: Pascal Siakam, PF, New Mexico State
Pascal Siakam should pair nicely with either Valanciunas or Poeltl, given his ability to protect the rim and rebound via long arms. Per ESPN, Siakam's a 6'10" power forward with a 7'3" wingspan and 9'0" standing reach.
All that sounds nice, especially when paired with his developing face-up jumper. But Siakam was a major reach at the end of the first round, and we can't overlook the fact many highly touted prospects were still on the board. Deyonta Davis and Skal Labissiere both should've been taken before Siakam, and each has a skill set that would've aided the Raptors' quest to get over the Eastern Conference hump. Davis apparently agrees.
Overall Grade: C
No. 52: Joel Bolomboy, PF, Weber State
Not only was Joel Bolomboy a solid value this late in the proceedings, but he was drafted to fill one of the few positions of need on the Utah Jazz roster.
Assuming Trevor Booker leaves in free agency, the Jazz will need another power forward to back up Derrick Favors. Inexperienced as he'll be during his sophomore season, Trey Lyles alone won't cut it, and Bolomboy should help ease the pressure.
Lyles is more of an offensive commodity; While this Weber State product can knock down some jumpers, he's better suited as a rebounding specialist who's able to devote his energy to the defensive end.
No. 55: Marcus Paige, PG, North Carolina
It's unlikely the Utah Jazz view Marcus Paige as anything more than a D-League prospect.
After trading for George Hill prior to the draft, the Jazz don't need any more help at point guard. They have a new starter jumping to the top of a depth chart currently shows Trey Burke, Shelvin Mack, Raul Neto and Dante Exum.
Paige will have his work cut out for him—unless he's waived and subsequently finds a home with a different organization.
No. 60: Tyrone Wallace, PG, California
It makes sense that Tyrone Wallace is Mr. Irrelevant, since he'll basically be so to the Jazz's plans. Everything we said about Paige applies here since Wallace is a true point guard who probably won't have a job in Salt Lake City.