2014 NBA Draft Grades: Full Team-by-Team Report Cards
There are 60 new members of the NBA fraternity.
Well, 61 if you want to include Isaiah Austin, who was drafted by Adam Silver in the classiest move of the entire 2014 NBA draft. The Baylor big man's basketball career was cut short by medical issues, but the league elected to make him the Association's one-and-only draft pick, allowing him to stand on the stage and shake the commissioner's hand, just as he would've if he were healthy.
However, while Austin was the feel-good story of the night, it's the other 60 players who strode across the Barclays Center stage who will be making an impact during the league's coming seasons.
From Andrew Wiggins, the Cleveland Cavaliers' No. 1 pick in the proceedings, to Cory Jefferson, this year's Mr. Irrelevant, this was a deep and talented class full of quality contributors. The first round was loaded with talent—and only a few surprises, including a Brazilian Kevin Durant—while the second round abounds with potential roster members.
There were steals, sure. And of course, there were reaches.
But as a whole, the NBA's general managers fared quite well. You'll see that reflected in these grades, which are given out for the overall results of every team's draft-day haul.
Maybe I'm being generous with my red pen, or maybe the league as a whole just flat-out nailed this draft.
Please note that the Dallas Mavericks, Golden State Warriors, Indiana Pacers, Portland Trail Blazers and Washington Wizards will be left out of this article, seeing as they had zero picks between them.
Overall Grade: B+
No. 15: Adreian Payne, PF/C, Michigan State
The Atlanta Hawks will not stray from their current course.
Though they could've used an upgrade on the wings, the often-middling franchise took Adreian Payne, bolstering the frontcourt with yet another big man who's fully capable of both putting the ball on the floor and dropping it in from the perimeter.
Under Mike Budenholzer, the Hawks loved shooting one three-pointer after another, even setting records during their first-round series with the Indiana Pacers. Now they have yet another player who's capable of knocking down those shots, as he proved time and time again at Michigan State.
This pick can't earn an "A" designation because it doesn't address the primary need, even with Gary Harris still on the board just outside the lottery, but Payne still fits with the Hawks' scheme, so long as he's able to stave off the exercise-induced asthma.
No. 43: Walter Tavares, C, Cape Verde
The Atlanta Hawks have no need to add any more big man to their roster, which makes Walter Tavares a surefire draft-and-stash pick. Remember, Al Horford will be healthy next year, and Lucas Nogueira (a first-rounder in 2013) should join the team after spending a year abroad.
You can find a detailed profile of Tavares here, but there's one thing you need to know immediately—he's a 7'3" center with a 7'9" wingspan.
No. 48: Lamar Patterson, SG, Pittsburgh
Lamar Patterson is essentially a less-athletic version of Lance Stephenson, except he hasn't shown that he's as prone to on-court antics.
The pick was acquired from the Milwaukee Bucks, as reported by Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and it's exactly the kind that Budenholzer will love. After all, Patterson is a wing player who contributes on the boards, settles down on defense and thrives distributing the ball, which aids the movement-heavy system Atlanta employs.
Overall Grade: B
No. 6: Marcus Smart, PG/SG, Oklahoma State
Does this mean Rajon Rondo is going to be leaving Beantown via a trade during this summer? If he is, that's one thing. But if he's not, this is a strange backcourt pairing, one that means Avery Bradley is on the way out.
Marcus Smart is a physical point guard—also capable of lining up at the 2 in the Association—but his biggest weakness is the complete absence of a consistent jumper. Even if he shines on defense and serves well as a distributor, defenses are going to have a field day with two guards who can't shoot.
Expect paints to be packed against the Boston Celtics throughout the foreseeable future. Until either Rondo (unlikely) or Smart (more likely, still unlikely) figures out how to drop the ball through the net from the perimeter, it'll be awfully difficult for them to open up huge passing lanes.
If Rondo is on the way out, though, making this pick the first domino of many to fall, this grade will be significantly higher, but that's too much to assume for the time being.
No. 17: James Young, SG/SF, Kentucky
The Celtics still aren't doing much to shore up their team's shooting woes.
Though James Young, an 18-year-old swingman out of Kentucky, has the ability to turn into a solid perimeter option, his form hasn't yet led to quality production from the outside. He's getting there, but he was just a lackluster shooter during his one-and-done season under John Calipari.
Young will be a good defender and a phenomenal athlete, which works nicely when he's receiving lobs from Smart and Rondo, but this still isn't a home run. It's a good pick, but this draft can't earn stellar marks until Boston finds shooting.
Overall Grade: B
No. 44: Markel Brown, SG, Oklahoma State
The Brooklyn Nets found their way into the 2014 NBA draft after all.
They bought the pick from the Minnesota Timberwolves, per ESPN's Andy Katz, and they're using it to select Markel Brown, making him the second Oklahoma State Cowboy drafted during the festivities.
Brown does two things well: jump and shoot. He's one of the best athletes in this class, and his jumper is already finely tuned. Plus, as a four-year collegiate player, he'll be experienced enough to compete immediately on a team with a closing title window.
This was a solid addition for Brooklyn. Nothing too special, but solid.
No. 59: Xavier Thames, SG, San Diego State
Why draft one shooting guard when you can take two in the second round?
That must be Brooklyn's mantra, as they acquired the final pair of picks in the NBA draft—one from Toronto and another from San Antonio, as reported by Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski—and added another player at the 2 with the first selection.
Xavier Thames is a fantastic shooter who handles the ball nicely and hasn't been a liability on defense, but he's awfully redundant when paired with Brown.
This was strange.
No. 60: Cory Jefferson, PF, Baylor
At least Brooklyn didn't go with another 2-guard.
Instead, the Nets made Cory Jefferson, a promising power forward from Baylor with a quality mid-range game, the newest version of Mr. Irrelevant. Those have had mixed results over the years, ranging from high-impact players like Isaiah Thomas to non-events like Janis Timma.
Which will Jefferson be?
Chances are, he won't fit into either end of the spectrum. His shooting and rebounding bode well for his ability to land on the roster, but his age, defensive limitations and lack of polish will keep him largely confined to the bench.
Overall Grade: A
No. 9: Noah Vonleh, PF/C, Indiana
Noah Vonleh's draft-day slide ends with the Charlotte Hornets, who should be firmly moving on from the Bismack Biyombo era. After all, there's not much of a chance for Vonleh, Cody Zeller and Al Jefferson to all earn major minutes while the Congolese big man is in the rotation.
Josh McRoberts should be gone as well.
The Indiana product is a fantastic shooting threat, which works perfectly for a Charlotte offense in dire need of some floor-spacing abilities, something that Zeller wasn't able to provide during his rookie season.
He's also a rim-protecting big, which should make Steve Clifford and the surging Hornets defense quite happy.
This might prove to be one of the draft's bigger steals, though it might have been more beneficial for Charlotte to draft Doug McDermott or one of the many elite wing players. That's a bigger positional need, even if the shooting woes might be slightly assuaged by the Vonleh selection.
No. 26: P.J. Hairston, SG, Texas Legends
From North Carolina to the D-League. From the D-League to the Hornets, becoming the first player in NBA history to become a first-round selection after last playing in the Association's minor league.
P.J. Hairston is a perfect pick for the Hornets, and he's a nice value at No. 26.
After all, he's an elite shooter with great athleticism, one who can come in and make an immediate impact for a squad that's already prepared to do more than just make the playoffs in 2014-15. The D-League will have prepared him rather well for the rigors of the NBA, and his shooting stroke will ensure instant playing time.
Charlotte shocked everyone by passing up on McDermott at No. 9, but it made up for the lack of elite shooting 17 picks later.
No. 55: Semaj Christon, PG, Xavier
The No. 55 pick was acquired as part of the trade that sent Shabazz Napier to the Miami Heat, as reported by ESPN's Brian Windhorst.
After using it on Semaj Christon, a talented floor general out of Xavier, the Hornets have acquired yet another capable backcourt player. Though the former Musketeer won't be taking over for Kemba Walker at any point in the near or distant figure, he's a quick and athletic 1-guard who can create his own shot with ease.
That will come in handy for a Charlotte bench that often struggled to generate offense during the 2013-14 season. Not that the starters fared much better on that end, of course.
Is all that changing?
Overall Grade: B
No. 11: Doug McDermott, SF/PF, Creighton
The Chicago Bulls could use some more shooting, and they found some in the form of Doug McDermott after trading the No. 16 and No. 19 picks to the Denver Nuggets for this slot, as first reported by Yahoo Sports' Marc J Spears. The Bulls also pick up Anthony Randolph, per Christopher Dempsey of the Denver Post.
The Creighton standout is a known commodity at this point.
He's not a good defender, nor will he be at any stage of his NBA career. That said, he's an incredible shooter who can score in virtually any situation. Few are better at shooting in this draft class, and he'll benefit from no longer facing an inordinate amount of defensive attention at the next level.
He'll spend the 2014-15 season making it rain from downtown, though his playing time will likely be limited until he shows better instincts on the less glamorous end. On top of that, if any coach can figure out how to hide him on the defensive side, it would be Tom Thibodeau.
No. 49: Cameron Bairstow, PF/C, New Mexico
If Nikola Mirotic does indeed come over to the Chicago Bulls after playing overseas ever since he was drafted a few years back, it's hard to see Cameron Bairstow earning any playing time whatsoever.
After all, he'd be behind quite a few big men, including Mirotic and Taj Gibson. And that's assuming Carlos Boozer is gone.
Bairstow is a big and strong power forward who can step out and knock down mid-range jumpers, but it'll be awfully hard for him to do so while collecting splinters and sitting on the pine.
Overall Grade: A-
No. 1: Andrew Wiggins, SF, Kansas
The uber-athletic small forward from Kansas saw his stock fluctuate throughout his one collegiate season, but he finished exactly where he started—in the top spot.
The Cleveland Cavaliers have been leaving that small forward spot open for quite some time, all in the hopes that LeBron James might eventually come back to the team that originally drafted him, but it's now filled by Andrew Wiggins and his interesting wardrobe choice.
And it's the perfect choice.
Joel Embiid's navicular fracture eliminated him from the equation, leaving the Cavs selecting either Wiggins or Jabari Parker. The former is the right choice, as he offers Cleveland a two-way presence with an insanely high ceiling. Right away, he'll be an impact defender, even if he still has to assert himself more on the offensive end while continuing to develop his jumper.
Now, it's a strong possibility that Wiggins could be playing more than 82 games during his rookie season. The playoffs are a realistic goal with him earning immediate playing time at the 3.
No. 33: Joe Harris, SF, Virginia
Joe Harris may be an incredible shooter, but he doesn't make much sense for the Cavs.
Not only is he a subpar athlete who will struggle defensively against NBA-caliber competition, but small forward was already addressed when Wiggins was drafted. Don't forget that Sergey Karasev was drafted last year, and Anthony Bennett can also play the 3 in bigger lineups.
Center should've been addressed here, but instead Cleveland made a redundant pick who might not have the defensive capabilities to ever earn major minutes on a roster that already has multiple liabilities.
There were too many other beneficial players here to justify this selection.
No. 45: Dwight Powell, PF, Stanford
This is more like it.
Dwight Powell is a massive power forward, checking in at 6'11" when last measured, and he's ready to compete from Day 1. Primarily because of his ability to distribute the ball from the post, he's able to serve as an offensive hub, which could give the Cleveland offense a new dynamic when he's on the court.
He'll have to become a more consistent defender and develop more post moves, but those would be gravy at this stage of the draft-day proceedings.
Powell was acquired after Cleveland traded cap relief to the Charlotte Hornets, as reported by Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer.
Overall Grade: A-
No. 16: Jusuf Nurkic, C, Bosnia and Herzegovina
A big man who compares favorably to bruisers like Nikola Pekovic, Jusuf Nurkic is a strange selection for the Denver Nuggets, who took him with the first of the two picks they gained by trading down from their initial No. 11 spot.
This team already boasts the services of Timofey Mozgov—who broke out during the 2013-14 season, especially during the second half—and JaVale Mcgee. Plus, Kenneth Faried and J.J. Hickson are both capable of playing the 5 during small-ball lineups.
Nonetheless, the 6'11" big man is a strong prospect who can step out and hit jumpers while making an impact on the boards. If he can morph into a quality defender, he'll be much more likely to carve out a spot in the rotation.
But for now, there's a solid chance the 19-year-old could be treated as a draft-and-stash pick, despite his desire to come stateside right away.
No. 19: Gary Harris, SG, Michigan State
With the second of the two picks Denver picked up in the trade with the Chicago Bulls, the Nuggets picked up Gary Harris. And it came faaaaar later than Harris was supposed to come off the board, as the elite 2-guard inexplicably fell well out of the lottery.
The young Michigan State product is a stellar shooter who thrives when he's asked to lock down on the defensive end of the court, and he can play both on and off the ball. Versatility is the word you'd use to describe him.
Given the trade for Arron Afflalo, Harris won't end up starting for the Nuggets, not unless Danilo Gallinari reinjures himself and forces Afflalo to the 3, but he'll thrive off the Denver bench.
This was one of the best picks of the first round, bar none.
No. 41: Nikola Jokic, PF/C, Serbia
It's another draft-and-stash pick for the Denver Nuggets.
Nikola Jokic is a huge big man, standing 6'11" and boasting a ridiculous wingspan on top of that. However, he needs to add strength, quickness and discipline before he's ready to break into the deep Denver frontcourt rotation.
Don't forget about Jokic, even if it'll be a few years before you hear his name again.
Overall Grade: A
No. 38: Spencer Dinwiddie, PG/SG, Colorado
If you see a little bit of Shaun Livingston when you watch Spencer Dinwiddie play, I can't blame you.
The 6'6" combo guard is a natural floor general who can thrive whether he's scoring the basketball or playing the "true" point guard role and setting things up for his teammates. Before his ACL injury, the Colorado Buffalo was considered a fringe lottery prospect, and only the health concerns dropped him so far down the boards.
This has the makings of a massive steal for the Detroit Pistons, especially if he can be more assertive in the Association and start trying to get to the rim at all times. Improving his handles will help as well, but he can already shoot the ball.
Wait? A Piston who can shoot?
It's a rare sight these days, but Dinwiddie should help space the court out for the talented frontcourt players when he's on the floor. Even during his rookie season.
Overall Grade: B+
No. 25: Clint Capela, PF/C, Switzerland
Simultaneously, the Houston Rockets managed to land a high-upside player with great analytics and measurements while preserving cap space for the inevitable pursuit of Carmelo Anthony and/or LeBron James.
Clint Capela will likely develop overseas, but he's already prepared to play in the NBA.
He's a 6'11" big man with a monstrous wing span, and he can also jump out of the building. You can't teach that type of size and athleticism, but you can certainly work on Capela's defense and ability to score the basketball without relying on alley-oop lobs, easy transition buckets and put-back attempts. That's what he'll be working on over the next few years.
There's a chance for Capela to remain in Houston for the 2014-15 season, seeing as Omer Asik was recently traded to the New Orleans Pelicans, but the draft-and-stash route is more likely.
No. 42: Nick Johnson, SG, Arizona
The Rockets must be looking to replace Jordan Hamilton, who was acquired from the Denver Nuggets before the trade deadline.
Nick Johnson essentially fills the same role, as he's an athletic slasher who's ready to make an immediate impact. Strong and quick, the former Arizona standout shouldn't have much trouble adjusting to the next level, though his 6'3" frame will work against him and ultimately limit what he can do for Houston.
It's possible he could be a long-term project at point guard.
No. 53: Alessandro Gentile, SG/SF, Italy
Even though Alessandro Gentile will turn 22 during the opening salvo of the 2014-15 season, he's not ready for the NBA. In fact, it might be a couple of years before he's fully prepared for the rigors of the 82-game season against the world's best competition.
Though Gentile has an intriguing combination of offensive tools, he must improve his jumper and defensive fundamentals before making the journey across the pond.
As reported by the Houston Chronicle's Jonathan Feigen, this pick was acquired from the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Los Angeles Clippers
Overall Grade: F
No. 28: C.J. Wilcox, SG, Washington
As a caveat, I'm a fan of C.J. Wilcox. He's an experienced shooting guard who can flat-out stroke the ball from the perimeter, basically knocking down three-pointers with his eyes closed. On top of that, he's a capable ball-handler who always seems to make the right decisions.
However, how does this pick make sense for the Los Angeles Clippers?
If there was one position they didn't need to address, it was shooting guard. Especially by drafting yet another three-point specialist who only lines up at the 2.
Not only are J.J. Redick, Jared Dudley, Willie Green and Jamal Crawford on the roster (though not all are true shooting guards), but the team drafted Reggie Bullock last year, and he fills the exact same role as Wilcox.
I've steadfastly maintained that heads should roll in the LAC front office if someone other than a big man is taken at No. 28, and here we are.
Los Angeles Lakers
Overall Grade: A+
No. 7: Julius Randle, PF, Kentucky
Julius Randle really shouldn't have been around at No. 7, which means the Los Angeles Lakers have found themselves a minor steal while picking in single digits for the first time since James Worthy joined the team.
The Kentucky product is already a solid post player who might think a bit too highly of his one-on-one skills. Too often he took on three defenders and failed to hit the open man with a pass, but he's only going to get better. Once Randle continues developing his jumper, he's going to be a true standout on the offensive end.
Defense, though, is a question mark.
His wingspan was longer than expected at the combine, but it's problematic that he didn't manage to record many steals or blocks while with the Wildcats. This unfortunately limits his upside, and it means the Lake Show is still seeking that unquestioned superstar to eventually fill in for Kobe Bryant.
That's the only thing keeping this from being a perfect pick, though it's admittedly hard to find an unquestioned star at this point in the proceedings. Noah Vonleh might have been one, though.
No. 46: Jordan Clarkson, PG/SG, Missouri
Is Jordan Clarkson the steal of the draft?
He very well could be, assuming his well-rounded play translates nicely to the NBA. The Missouri product can play either guard position, boasting impressive size and athleticism while showcasing an ability to thrive while driving or contributing from the perimeter.
Clarkson's defense needs work, as is the case for most everyone the Lakers have rostered these last few seasons, but his combination of production and potential are untouchable this deep into the second round. After all, this particular combo guard would've been a justifiable selection in the early 20s and only a slight reach just outside the lottery.
This pick originally belonged to the Washington Wizards, but it was bought by the Lake Show, per the Washington Post's Michael Lee.
Overall Grade: A+
No. 22: Jordan Adams, SG, UCLA
The Memphis Grizzlies finally addressed their shooting woes.
Drafting Jamaal Franklin in the second round of a weak 2013 NBA draft didn't work (yet). Adding Mike Miller didn't work. Trading for Courtney Lee didn't work.
Maybe drafting Jordan Adams will. After all, he's one of the better marksmen in this draft class, which is much stronger than last year's, drawing comparisons to Anthony Morrow during his career at UCLA. He's one of those 2s who puts the "shooting" in the shooting guard position.
Athleticism isn't his strong suit, but his instincts won't allow him to be a liability in Dave Joerger's defensive systems. If anything, he'll be a plus, given the steals he racked up for the Bruins.
But this is all about shooting. Kudos to the tumultuous Memphis front office for not falling back on the excuse of trying to address this glaring issue last year and actually using the pick on the weakness that needed it most.
No. 35: Jarnell Stokes, PF, Tennessee
According to ESPN's Chad Ford, the Grizzlies traded a second-round pick in 2016 to the Utah Jazz for the rights to the No. 35 pick, which was used to draft Jarnell Stokes out of Tennesse.
Stokes may well be the best rebounder in this draft class, thriving on the offensive end in particular. He'll fit in perfectly by coming off the bench behind Zach Randolph (if Z-Bo stays with the team rather than opting out and going elsewhere), and the offensive rebounding combination will be brutal for other teams.
He's also a developing post player with an unstoppable motor. At No. 35, it's hard to complain, especially when it only took a future draft pick that could come later in the 2016 proceedings to gain access to him.
Overall Grade: A+
No. 24: Shabazz Napier, PG, Connecticut
The rich get richer.
LeBron James, if he decides to return, will be playing with the point guard he coveted, as the Miami Heat traded up in the draft to land Shabazz Napier, the championship-winning 1-guard out of Connecticut. The deal was first reported by ESPN's Chad Ford.
"No way u take another PG in the lottery before Napier," tweeted the four-time MVP back in April.
A born winner, Napier will thrive in the Miami lineup, so long as the Big Three all decide to return to South Beach. It's also safe to say that he'll no longer have to go to sleep hungry.
Though Napier is undersized, he's a dynamic offensive creator, one who can thrive as a leading scorer or a player who focuses on opening things up for his teammates. This is unquestionably an upgrade from both Mario Chalmers (a free agent) and Norris Cole.
And the cost? According to ESPN's Brian Windhorst, Miami only has to give up the No. 26 pick, the No. 55 selection and a future second-rounder to the Charlotte Hornets.
Overall Grade: A+
No. 2: Jabari Parker, SF/PF, Duke
The Milwaukee Bucks desperately needed a go-to scorer, and they've found one in Jabari Parker.
Fresh out of Duke, the combo forward has the tools to immediately become a dominant offensive player, as he has a smooth jumper, does a convincing freight train impersonation in the open court and has the requisite athleticism to finish plays around the basket in the half-court set.
Defense is a question mark—and likely what pushed him back to No. 2 in the proceedings—especially because he projects as a bit of a tweener. Without elite foot speed or length, he'll need to be hidden on that end for quite some time.
Nonetheless, Parker's scoring talents and NBA-ready status have to be exciting for the scoring-deprived Bucks. No longer will Brandon Knight and O.J. Mayo have to attempt to carry the offensive load, which puts Parker in great position to make a run at Rookie of the Year.
No. 31: Damien Inglis, SF/PF, France
Will the Bucks ever feel as though they have too much length?
Between John Henson, Larry Sanders and Giannis Antetokounmpo, they already specialize in unfairly long wingspans, and now they're adding a 6'9" combo forward with a 7'3" measurement from fingertip to fingertip. That's just ridiculous.
Inglis is a standout, at least in terms of physical measurements. However, the Frenchman still needs to develop a greater grasp on the mental aspects of the game. He's likely to be a draft-and-stash guy as a result, even if he's already a strong prospect with shooting skills.
No. 36: Johnny O'Bryant, PF/C, LSU
A strong big man who can thrive on the boards, Johnny O'Bryant has tons of offensive potential, especially if he ends up lining at the 4.
Bryant is the rare second-round frontcourt player who can put up points while operating with his back to the basket and stepping out to the perimeter to knock down jumpers. Defense is a major question mark, but he can excel in a specialist role while surrounded with the lanky options on the Milwaukee roster.
Overall Grade: A
No. 13: Zach LaVine, PG/SG, UCLA
The Minnesota Timberwolves just found themselves a steal.
Zach LaVine requires a bit of seasoning before he'll be a player worth using in an NBA rotation, particularly when it comes to his defense, but you can't teach this type of athleticism and upside. LaVine is an above-the-rim combo guard with the ability to thrive on defense, which is exactly what the 'Wolves so desperately needed.
Don't make the mistake of thinking Minnesota just added yet another point guard in the draft.
LaVine is big enough to line up at the 2 on a consistent basis, and he plays so far off the ground that it won't even matter what spot in the rotation he uses. He'll still be an off-ball threat who can always cut to the basket and finish at the rim, even when a defender's in his way.
No. 40: Glenn Robinson III, SF, Michigan
Minnesota just keeps filling needs.
By adding Glenn Robinson III, the Wolves just gained even more athleticism on the wings, and they did so while also finding yet another player who can stroke the ball from the outside. If he's more assertive than he was at Michigan, where he was often content to fill a small role, he'll shine at the next level.
On top of that, there's some serious defensive potential contained in Robinson's body. He's not ready to excel on that end, but he could be in a few years.
New Orleans Pelicans
Overall Grade: C-
No. 47: Russ Smith, PG, Louisville
Well, this is just Russdiculous.
Russ Smith is a quality point guard, boasting boundless athleticism and plenty of confidence, but it's still a rather inexplicable more for the New Orleans Pelicans.
In order to get into the draft, via Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski, the Pellies had to trade the rights to Pierre Jackson, last year's pick who spent the year flat-out dominating the D-League. And Jackson is better than Smith, even if he's also shorter than his fellow diminutive point guard.
If you're going to add a point guard to the roster, why not keep the one who posted so many 40-point games against even stiffer competition than Russ faced during his four-year career at Louisville?
This doesn't make much sense.
New York Knicks
Overall Grade: A+
No. 34: Cleanthony Early, SF/PF, Wichita State
Not only did the New York Knicks move into the NBA draft when they traded Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton to the Dallas Mavericks, but they managed to land one of the steals of the draft at No. 34.
Cleanthony Early is a natural small forward who can also play the 4, which gives New York a great option in the frontcourt, especially if Carmelo Anthony spurns his hometown team and goes elsewhere. Early obviously isn't Anthony, but his impressive jumper and ridiculous athleticism both make him an intriguing option, even during his rookie season.
Defense, size and rebounding are all question marks, but you aren't going to find a perfect player this late in the draft, even with a class this deep.
No. 51: Thanasis Antetokounmpo, SF, Delaware 87ers
The Knicks had the coveted "A+" after selecting Early, but their draft got even better when they took Thanasis Antetokounmpo 17 picks later.
First, divorce yourself from the notion that he's the same player as his younger brother, who looks like he's brimming over with potential for the Milwaukee Bucks. The two are not the same, as Giannis has significantly more upside and offensive skill.
However, Thanasis also has great physical tools, allowing him to dominate in transition, thrive as a lockdown defender with plenty of explosiveness and finish plays at the rim after cutting to the basket and corralling a pass, whether it's on target or slightly awry.
No. 57: Louis Labeyrie, PF/C, France
Remember when the Knicks didn't have any picks in the 2014 NBA draft?
So much for that.
As reported by Marc Berman of the New York Post, Phil Jackson and Co. bought the No. 57 pick from the Indiana Pacers, using it to select Louis Labeyrie, a big man from France. The 22-year-old last played for Paris-Levallois, and it's highly unlikely he comes to the NBA anytime soon.
He might have experience, but his developing jumper isn't going to be enough to earn a spot in the New York rotation, devoid as it is of high-quality big men. Expect him to remain in Europe for at least a year, with the potential to stay there for his entire career.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Overall Grade: B-
No. 21: Mitch McGary, C, Michigan
The Oklahoma City Thunder are moving on from the Nick Collison and Kendrick Perkins era, even if they're both on the roster for the 2014-15 season.
Mitch McGary was a bit of a reach at No. 21, as he might've been available near the very end of the first round, where OKC had a second pick, but he's an intriguing option for the Thunder. Scott Brooks might be forced into having more creativity on the offensive end, as McGary is the rare big man—and I mean big man—who can handle the ball and distribute it to more than just the open teammate. He can actively create.
McGary is big, but he's also skilled. Let's not forget his near triple-double in the 2013 NCAA tournament, even if his suspension and back injuries depressed his stock from its former lottery status.
This was a reach, but it's an acceptable one for the Thunder, who need to find a way to get over that hump.
No. 29: Josh Huestis, SF, Stanford
For the second pick of their draft, the Thunder reached yet again.
Josh Huestis is a great defender who can make an immediate impact for OKC, but it's going to be awfully hard for him to earn a spot in the rotation. So long as the Thunder have other wing players who can provide positive contributions on either end, it's going to be tough for an offensively challenged small forward to carve out a lot of playing time.
Additionally, Huestis likely would've been available deeper in the proceedings. It's more acceptable because this was the last pick that OKC owned, but why not trade down when it's almost a lock that the former Cardinal would still be on the board much later?
The Thunder have to be hoping that his athleticism pans out in a big way.
Overall Grade: A-
No. 4: Aaron Gordon, PF, Arizona
The Orlando Magic desperately need a franchise point guard, but they overlooked both Dante Exum and Marcus Smart in order to take Aaron Gordon, the extremely athletic forward out of Arizona.
Gordon isn't much of a shooter, but his leaping ability is quite impressive. He's going to make for a stellar transition threat right off the bat, though—outside his slashing—the Magic will basically be left playing 4-on-5 during the half-court sets.
Could this change in the future? Absolutely.
The positives are upgrading the power forward rotation of Andrew Nicholson and Kyle O'Quinn, as well as Gordon's shut-down defensive abilities and mentality, but that's not enough to trump the need at point guard.
This was a strange pick, as there's too much talent at floor general to go with Gordon, even if the Magic felt he was the No. 1 player on their draft board.
No. 10: Elfrid Payton, PG, Lousiana-Lafayette
The Magic found their point guard, and it came after trading the No. 12 pick to the Philadelphia 76ers, per ESPN's Chad Ford.
Elfrid Payton's shooting woes aren't going to look good next to Victor Oladipo, who is similarly inadequate beyond the arc and on mid-range attempts.
Nonetheless, the former Ragin' Cajun is an impressive offensive talent overflowing with athleticism, and he'll also help fix some of Orlando's defensive problems.
I'm a Payton fan, and there's no reason to be skeptical about this pick. He's the point guard Orlando needs, even if the Magic overlooked the truly elite options at the position.
No. 56: Roy Devyn Marble, SG, Iowa
Orlando keeps bolstering the backcourt.
The Arron Afflalo trade brought Evan Fournier all the way across the country, and he'll now be joined at the 2 by Roy Devyn Marble, a shooting guard out of Iowa with a penchant for all things three. Not only does he have three words in his full name, but he has a certain flair for knocking down triples, nearing the 35 percent benchmark during his final season with the Hawkeyes.
This is the type of shooting Orlando could use, so long as Marble's lack of strength, athleticism and defensive abilities allow him to find his way onto the court at the Amway Center.
Overall Grade: A
No. 3: Joel Embiid, C, Kansas
The NBA draft started off perfectly for every team involved, at least when you consider who's on the board. Three selections, three perfect picks.
Joel Embiid could emerge as the steal of the draft for the Philadelphia 76ers, seeing as he has as much upside as anyone, and then some more on top of that. He's been favorably compared to Hakeem Olajuwon for good reason.
As long as his navicular fracture in the right foot and his back injury don't hold him back, he'll be a stud at center. Seeing him and Nerlens Noel in the frontcourt has to be terrifying for other teams. Actually, "terrifying" might not be a strong enough word.
There's a reason this guy sat at No. 1 on so many draft boards before the foot injury popped up just prior to the draft-day proceedings. Philly may have wanted Andrew Wiggins, but this is one helluva consolation prize.
No. 12: Dario Saric, SF/PF, Croatia
Will Dario Saric play in 2014-15? Nope.
Will he play for the Sixers in 2015-16? Nope.
It'll be a while before the Croatian forward joins the team, but he's a high-upside player who was acquired for the No. 10 pick. Philly also picked up a selection in the 2017 NBA draft from the Orlando Magic, as reported by Grantland's Zach Lowe. And per Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski, the Sixers also pick up a 2015 second-rounder.
Saric is a versatile offensive player who will work well in the up-tempo Sixers scheme. Plus, with their abundance of young talents and draft picks, they can afford to go draft-and-stash this early.
No. 32: K.J. McDaniels, SF, Clemson
If K.J. McDaniels continues to improve his outside shooting, he'll prove to be a huge steal at this early stage of the second round. And given the end of his career with Clemson, that's something that he can certainly do.
A ridiculously good athlete with plenty of size for the small forward position, even at the NBA level, McDaniels will thrive as a defensive specialist who provides the occasional offensive contribution. Usually that will come by hitting a wide-open triple or throwing down a big slam in transition.
He's basically going to fill the Thabo Sefolosha role for Philadelphia, which finally gives the up-and-coming team some credibility on the less glamorous end.
No. 39: Jerami Grant, SF, Syracuse
The Sixers must love the color Orange.
Jerami Grant now joins former teammate Michael Carter-Williams, and the reigning Rookie of the Year will love to have a fellow Syracuse product in the lineup with him. He's a fantastic transition athlete who finishes around the rim with ease, but he's also a terrific rebounder with plenty of defensive potential.
With Grant and McDaniels, the Sixers finally have some defensive pieces.
No. 52: Vasilije Micic, PG, Serbia
Even though many international prospects are brought up to be great shooters, Vasilije Micic is not one of them. That makes him a rather strange pick for a team that desperately needs a perimeter threat in the backcourt, but his upside still makes him worth the selection.
Not only does Micic have great size, but he's one of the best distributors in the draft. His court vision—aided by that 6'6" frame—is excellent, especially when he's running pick-and-rolls or picking out a teammate in transition.
Improving his basketball I.Q. and no longer relying solely on instinct is of paramount importance, but the potential size of an MCW/Micic backcourt is off the charts.
No. 58: Jordan McRae, SG, Tennessee
Now we're going to find a shooter.
Jordan McRae might be hard-pressed to earn much playing time in a Philadelphia system that's absolutely overflowing with young talent, but he'll have a job if he can consistently put the ball in the basket. That's what he did during his four years at Tennessee, and his NBA career is entirely dependent on that continuing.
The former Volunteer is a good athlete with defensive potential, but shooting is still going to be his niche in the Association. If he even has one.
This pick was acquired from the San Antonio Spurs, per Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski.
Note: Philadelphia also gets bonus points for trading the No. 47 pick to the New Orleans Pelicans for the rights to Pierre Jackson, per Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowksi.
Overall Grade: B+
No. 14: T.J. Warren, SF/PF, N.C. State
The Phoenix Suns needed a forward, and they also needed one who could score from that spot in the lineup, but T.J. Warren was still a strange pick.
Not only is he a bit of a reach at the very end of the lottery, but he doesn't shine from the perimeter. If he can morph into the post-up scorer the Suns need, he'll prove my initial analysis wrong, but that wasn't really a strength while he was still playing at N.C. State.
Even though Warren isn't a tremendous spot-up shooter and didn't often work in the post, he was still an incredible scorer who just had an instinctive knack for putting the ball in the basket. He scores in strange ways, which will make Phoenix that much more fun to watch.
But does he make the Suns better? Not unless he develops a defined niche and becomes a better defender.
No. 18: Tyler Ennis, PG, Syracuse
Are the Suns hedging their bets in case Eric Bledsoe escapes them? After all, the dynamic point guard is a restricted free agent, and if he signs a max offer sheet, it could be awfully difficult to exercise that right of first refusal and bring him back.
Are the Suns just trying to upgrade from Ish Smith? He was a serviceable backup point guard during the 2013-14 season. However, an upgrade is still needed so that Goran Dragic can stay fresher during the follow-up campaign to the surprising run, one that fell just shy of the postseason.
Tyler Ennis works regardless of intent, as he's a good value at No. 18. The freshman point guard is one of the few "true" floor generals expected to go this high up in the proceedings, and he'll look good next to either Bledsoe or Dragic in two-point guard sets.
At this stage, drafting for value is acceptable, especially when selecting a player with such impressive passing skills.
No. 27: Bogdan Bogdanovic, SG, Serbia
The owner of one of the best names in the draft class, Bogdan Bogdanovic is yet another addition to the loaded Phoenix backcourt. He just won't be making any sort of impact during the 2014-15 season, as he's most likely a draft-and-stash player.
Even though Bogdanovic is ready to compete in the NBA right now, boasting an impressive jumper, plenty of distributing skills and above-average size, the Suns just have too many pieces already in place. As a result, the 21-year-old will do more developing overseas before officially making it across the pond.
This is useful for the Suns, as they have a young roster that's going to be inundated with rookies over the next few seasons, due to an excess of draft picks.
No. 50: Alec Brown, C, Wisconsin-Green Bay
It's hard to find a player who fits a need so perfectly in the 50s, but Alec Brown does that for the Suns.
The 7'1" big man isn't a bruiser, nor does he thrive when he's operating in the post. Nonetheless, he's quite adept at stretching out the court with his smooth jumper, something he did time and time again during his time at Wisconsin-Green Bay.
I'm not just talking about mid-range looks; Brown is fully capable of operating beyond the NBA three-point arc, which is quite the asset in the final 10 picks of the proceedings.
Overall Grade: A-
No. 8: Nik Stauskas, SG, Michigan
The Sacramento Kings may finally have figured out how to fix their shooting woes.
After all, Nik Stauskas' biggest asset is his ability to stroke the basketball from the perimeter, and he won't have any trouble making the transition from college basketball's shorter three-point arc to the longer one used in the NBA. His form is that pure, and he can both create his own looks and serve as a spot-up threat.
Making this even better is the former Wolverine's ability to work on the defensive end of the court as well. He can easily turn into a two-way threat while serving as an elite shooter, which is why he ended up going a bit earlier than some might have expected.
The only question is how he'll coexist with Ben McLemore, who has a nearly identical skillset.
San Antonio Spurs
Overall Grade: A+
No. 30: Kyle Anderson, SF, UCLA
Bill Simmons said it best during the ESPN broadcast.
Was this the most San Antonio Spurs pick of all time? The defending champions gained access to one of the smartest, most skilled players in the draft. He's now going to be playing in the league's best system, potentially learning from Boris Diaw, who he's been compared to time and time again. That depends on free agency, but this pick will work no matter what.
In the interest of full disclosure, Kyle Anderson was one of my least-favorite picks in this entire draft class. For 29 teams, I'd have been hesitant to take him in the first round.
Want to guess which one is the 30th?
This pick is so good that it borders on cheating. Can the NBA veto it for basketball reasons?
No. 54: Nemanja Dangubic, SG, Serbia
This is the San Antonio speciality, as they've consistently acquired international talents who suddenly show up and contribute down the road, long after the general public has forgotten about them. That's surely the plan with Nemanja Dangubic, a Serbian shooting guard whose primary asset is his smooth athleticism and size (6'8").
The pick originally belonged to the Philadelphia 76ers, but as Dangubic's agent tweeted, he'll be joining the Spurs instead.
No. 20: Bruno Caboclo, SF, Brazil
The Toronto Raptors refused to subscribe to convention.
This is the 2014 equivalent of Giannis Antetokounmpo, except he's even more raw. Remember how the Greek Freak was supposed to take a few years to be ready for the NBA? Antetokounmpo ended up being further along the developmental track than expected, but this Brazilian won't have the same situation unfold.
Caboclo is an elite athlete who is just brimming over with offensive potential. As Fran Fraschilla explained during the ESPN broadcast, he's considered the Brazilian Kevin Durant. But the expert in international prospects also said that the small forward is years away from being years away from being ready.
This could be a massive home run, especially for an organization that doesn't often draw elite free agents.
However, it's way too early.
Caboclo—who received no attention from most NBA teams and wasn't on anyone's radar, appearing in virtually zero mock drafts—likely would've been available deep into the second round. So why pick him at No. 20 when there are far more established options available? Shabazz Napier would've fit a huge need, for example.
Maybe this is a steal a decade from now, but Caboclo is a head-scratcher in the present.
No. 37: DeAndre Daniels, SF, Connecticut
It's all about the physical tools.
DeAndre Daniels has a 6'8" frame with a wingspan over 7'0", but he's also blessed with tremendous athleticism. He can thrive as a slasher or a transition threat, both of which blend nicely with the current wing options on the Toronto roster.
In order to last in the NBA, he'll have to get much stronger, though. His defense and durability both depend on it.
Overall Grade: A
No. 5: Dante Exum, PG/SG, Australia
The Utah Jazz just keep adding talent.
Dante Exum was this year's biggest mystery, as the Australian combo guard didn't spend much time showing off for NBA scouts, due primarily to lack of opportunity. Few had seen him play in anything other than small doses, though those doses were undoubtedly impressive.
The jaw-dropping athletic abilities and knack for ball-handling both speak well to his ability to succeed at the sport's highest level, but he'll have to fix his shooting woes before he has any hope of becoming a star. And that can absolutely happen, as his jumper isn't completely broken.
Additionally, his presence next to Trey Burke will aid the Michigan product's development, as Burke will no longer need to handle the distributing responsibilities quite as often, instead focusing on his off-ball offense.
Exum's status as a combo guard is a positive here.
No. 23: Rodney Hood, SG/SF, Duke
This was an impressive value during the second half of the first round.
Rodney Hood seemed to fly completely under the radar in weeks leading up to the draft, but he'll get a chance to shine now that he's not seeing all of his touches go to Jabari Parker. The Duke product is a lottery-level talent who can score on the inside and the outside while lining up at either shooting guard or small forward.
He's an impressive southpaw who can make shots off the bounce and while spotting up for a catch-and-shoot attempt, giving Utah yet another offensive option. No longer will Gordon Hayward be relied upon for an inordinate bulk of the offense, and that's if the swingman is even coming back to the Jazz after their recent additions.
Utah is now overflowing with young scoring talents.
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