2014 NBA Draft Grades and Analysis

Before I turn the page on the 2014 draft, I will give my analysis and grades on each team. I am not going to hammer any teams, because who knows who is going to turn out good and bad. I will just give thoughts and praise the teams who I felt had a fantastic night. Enjoy! Coming up next, my first 2015 NBA Mock Draft.


Milwaukee Bucks

Round 1, #2: PF Jabari Parker, Duke
Round 2, #31: SF Damien Inglis, France
Round 2, #36: PF Johnny O'Bryant, LSU

Best draft goes to the Milwaukee Bucks. Number one, for not trading the pick. The only All Stars Milwaukee usually lands are players they draft. Jabari Parker has a chance to be the face of the franchise, and he actually wanted to go to Milwaukee. Trading down would have been a bonehead decision, as would have drafting Dante Exum or anyone else. In the second round, Milwaukee passed on more recognizable names to draft Damien Inglis, who has tremendous potential but needs a lot of development and coaching. Johnny O'Bryant was the last big man drafted who could have an impact in the NBA, another great pick. Grade: A+


Utah Jazz

Round 1, #5: PG/SG Dante Exum, Australia
Round 1, #23: SF Rodney Hood, Duke

The Jazz have typically played it safe in free agency and the draft. I applaud them for swinging for a home run here. Even though they drafted a point guard early in a bad draft, they did not let that stop them from selecting Dante Exum. No one is sure if he is a point guard, two guard, or how his game will translate to the NBA. But the Jazz have not had a superstar since Deron Williams, and Exum has that type of ability. He could make the Jazz a team worth watching again. Rodney Hood was a fantastic selection in the late first round. He is a bit one dimensional as a shooter, but Utah really needs guys that can stroke it for deep. Grade: A+


New York Knicks

Round 2, #34: SF Cleanthony Early, Wichita State
Round 2, #51: SF Thanasis Antetokounmpo, NBDL
Round 2, #57: PF Louis Labeyrie, France

The Knicks had a tremendous day. First, they moved Tyson Chandler and got quite a few rotation pieces in return. I do not think Samuel Dalembert is a catastrophic downgrade, and the upgrade to Jose Calderon was worth it. Just as importantly, New York got an early second round pick in a very deep draft, and a chance to land an instant contributor. Cleanthony Early should be just that. I thought he was slightly overrated as a first round prospect, but right here, perfect. If Carmelo Anthony returns and plays more power forward, Early could be the favorite for small forward minutes. Thanasis Antetokounmpo was drafted off the strength of his brother, but is a great athlete as well. Louis Labeyrie has good size, but will probably not ever make it in the NBA. Not bad for a team who did not have a draft pick at all coming into the day. Grade: A+


Charlotte Hornets

Round 1, #9 overall: PF Noah Vonleh, Indiana
Round 1, #26 overall: SG/SF PJ Hairston, NBDL
Round 2, #45 overall: PF Dwight Powell, Stanford
Round 2, #55 overall: PG Semaj Christon, Xavier

The Hornets had one of the best drafts in the league. They landed four players who could all contribute in 2014-2015. The team had a nice mix of potential (Noah Vonleh, Semaj Christon) and production (PJ Hairston, Dwight Powell). It starts with Vonleh, a rare pick from a Charlotte regime that usually plays it safe on draft day. Vonleh has the potential to be the best power forward in this draft, and in Charlotte, he can develop his game at his own pace. Hairston is one of the more NBA ready players in this class and could contribute as a shooter right away, something the Hornets desperately need. Powell could work his way into a stretch four if he could reach the potential he never realized at Stanford. Christon was on his way to becoming a first round pick before an ill informed move to shooting guard killed his stock. He has the talent to become another Ramon Sessions for Charlotte. Grade: A


Los Angeles Lakers

Round 1, #7: PF Julius Randle, Kentucky
Round 2, #46: PG Jordan Clarkson, Missouri

Great draft for the Lakers. I thought the talent level really went down after the first eight picks. Los Angeles had a choice between Julius Randle and Noah Vonleh and smartly went with the more ready to produce player. I like Vonleh more as a long term big man, but Randle should start at power forward from day one and give the Lakers 15 points and 8 rebounds. It will be important for Los Angeles to find defenders to put around him, as Randle is basically a down low scorer and rebounder only, but that type of post scoring is rare. Jordan Clarkson got some late first round chatter. I thought early second was more appropriate, and he was a borderline steal at #46. He should be a solid presence at point guard. Grade: A


Boston Celtics

Round 1, #6 overall: PG Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State
Round 1, #17 overall: SF James Young, Kentucky

The Celtics took the best player available in my opinion with both choices. This was a team that needed talent all across the board, and employed a good strategy. Marcus Smart is tough, and a fierce competitor. He saved his best for big competition and should grow into a fan favorite right away in Boston. Frankly, I am surprised the Magic chose to pass on him to take Aaron Gordon. I have maintained all along that James Young is going to make a very solid starter in the NBA. He is a good shooter, and more athletic and versatile than Kentucky used him. He will not get minutes right away, but should grow into a good starter. Overall, the Celtics landed two long term starters with upside. Grade: A-


Cleveland Cavaliers

Round 1, #1 overall: SF Andrew Wiggins, Kansas
Round 2, #33 overall: SG/SF Joe Harris, Virginia

Once Joel Embiid broke his foot, Andrew Wiggins was the only alternative that made sense. So kudos to the Cavaliers for not trying to out-Cavalier themselves this year. LeBron James is not coming back to Cleveland, but the hole at small forward since his departure has finally been filled. Even if Wiggins never fulfills his superstar potential, I think the chance of a bust is very low. He is a solid defender who should develop a very good overall game. I don't like the Joe Harris pick. He regressed as a senior and may lack the foot speed to keep up with wings defensively. He will have to rely on his jump shot to carve out minutes. Grade: A-


Phoenix Suns

Round 1, #14: SF TJ Warren, North Carolina State
Round 1, #18: PG Tyler Ennis, Syracuse
Round 1, #27: SF Bogdan Bogdanovic, Serba
Round 2, #50: FC Alec Brown, Wisconsin Green Bay

The Suns had a fantastic first round. TJ Warren and Tyler Ennis might not ever be starters for a deep Suns team, but both are ready to contribute now as key backups. Warren especially is a great fit offensively for the Suns up tempo defense. You can never have too many solid point guards, and Ennis gives the Suns three good to great ones. Bogdan Bogdanovic is one of the most successful players in Europe right now. Phoenix was not going to bring aboard three rookies, so he is a good draft and stash prospect. Alec Brown had no business being drafted. Once a favorite of NBADraft.net, he couldn't even average a double double during senior year. But 7 feet will always get you drafted. Grade: B+


Detroit Pistons

Round 2, #38 overall: PG/SG Spencer Dinwiddie, Colorado

Not taking into account one of Joe Dumars many terrible decisions that cost Detroit a top ten pick, the Pistons came out of this draft with a guy who should be a rotation player in 2015-2016. Dinwiddie would have been a first round pick if not for an ill timed knee injury. The Pistons might let Rodney Stuckey go and Dinwiddie could work his way into the backup point guard role. Grade: B+


Philadelphia 76ers

Round 1, #3: C Joel Embiid, Kansas
Round 1, #12: SF Dario Saric, Croatia
Round 2, #32: SF KJ McDaniels, Clemson
Round 2, #39: SF Jerami Grant, Syracuse
Round 2, #58: SG Jordan McRae, Tennessee

People either love or hate what Sam Hinkie is doing in Philadelphia. I personally think it's genius. Sure, I don't know how ownership can justify charging fans full prices for tickets, but if they are okay with low attendance, and will allow Hinkie the time he needs to develop, the 76ers could be a powerhouse in a few years. Philadelphia could have drafted Dante Exum and Doug McDermott as two guys who would have filled roles right away. Instead, three of Hinkie's last four lottery picks will not play their true rookie season. Joel Embiid could be the best center in the NBA one day, or his foot injuries could knock him out of the NBA. Dario Saric will not be over for at least two years. In the second round, KJ McDaniels landed in the perfect spot. He should get good minutes right away as a jack of all trades wing player. Jerami Grant has the look of a young Thaddeus Young and will need time to develop. Jordan McRae might be the best shooter on the roster by default. It will be another extremely painful year in Philadelphia, but I wish more owners allowed their teams to be rebuilt from the ground up like this situation. Grade: B


Denver Nuggets

Round 1, #16: C Jusuf Nurkic, Bosnia
Round 1, #19: SG Gary Harris, Michigan State
Round 2, #41: PF Nikola Jokic, Serbia

I loved the Nuggets decision to trade down. I thought both Jusuf Nurkic and Gary Harris were overrated as late lottery prospects, but they were both worthy of where they were selected. Denver would have picked up one rotation player at #11, instead they got two. Great decision in a deep draft. Nikola Jokic is strictly a draft and stash prospect. He isn't a tremendous athlete but has a very nice overall game. He is still very young but if he makes his way to the NBA in a few years he could become a rotation player. This grade does not take into account the Arron Afflalo trade, but Denver got much better earlier Thursday when they landed their ex-shooter for pennies. Grade: B


San Antonio Spurs

Round 1, #30: PF Kyle Anderson, UCLA
Round 2, #54: SG Nemanja Dangubic, Serbia.

Kyle Anderson has gained plenty of Boris Diaw comparisons, mostly for his negatives. This is a great situation for him to land. If anyone can figure out how to use him, it will be Gregg Popovich. Expect him to ride the pine for the defending champs. We might not know how he will turn out until the dynasty is over and Popovich has moved on. Nemanja Dangubic is thin and not a great shooter. But anytime the Spurs draft a foreign prospect, we need to store that player's name in the back of our memory. Grade: B


Minnesota Timberwolves

Round 1, #13: PG Zach LaVine, UCLA
Round 2, #40: SF Glenn Robinson III, Michigan

The Timberwolves drafted two great athletes who will most likely not give Minnesota any production in 2014-2015. This could be a year of transition, so developing these players will be key. LaVine is a tremendous athlete who is a few years away from being a starter. Likewise, Robinson has talent but needs to harness those abilities and learn how to become more of a focal point of the team. Minnesota either drafted two future starters, or if they fail to develop them like they have so many draft picks before them, two guys who could be out of the league or on other teams before they make an impact. Grade: B-


Atlanta Hawks

Round 1, #15 overall: PF Adreian Payne, Michigan State
Round 2, #43 overall: C Walter Tavares, Spain
Round 2, #48 overall: SG/SG Lamar Patterson, Pittsburgh

I believe the Hawks wanted to draft Dario Saric in the first round, but settled for Adreian Payne. Payne will provide the Hawks with much needed shooting, but with Al Horford, Paul Millsap and Mike Scott on the roster, minutes could be hard to come by. Still, he should be a rotation guy right away. Walter Tavares is a nice gamble in the second round. He is huge, but recently resigned with his team and may not ever make his way to the NBA. Lamar Patterson is a hard worker who could carve out a role on a team that lacks wing talent. He could be a poor man's Lance Stephenson. Overall, the Hawks landed two potential rotation players, but neither guy will likely grow into a starter. Grade: B-


Brooklyn Nets

Round 2, #44 overall: SG Markel Brown, Oklahoma State
Round 2, #59 overall: PG Xavier Thames, San Diego State
Round 2, #60 overall: PF Cory Jefferson, Baylor

Brooklyn came into Thursday night without a pick, but drafted three collegiate players late, and will hope one or two of them can crack the roster. That will most likely be Markel Brown and Cory Jefferson. Brown is a man without a position, but is a great leaper and could be a decent scorer off the bench. Jefferson is another undersized player, but could provide solid energy and rebounding. Not bad for three picks very late. Grade: B-


Chicago Bulls

Round 1, #11 overall: SF Doug McDermott, Creighton
Round 2, #49 overall: PF Cameron Baristow, New Mexico

The Bulls landed the shooter they desperately needed, but paid a heavy price to do so. Chicago could have used some size and a backup point guard, but put all their eggs in the McDermott basket. McDermott had to go to a team with a strong defensive philosophy and solid coaching, and there are few better in those areas than Chicago. He has the chance to be a 15 point per game scorer, but it all depends on if Derrick Rose can stay healthy. Cameron Baristow has good size and is a tough, blue collar, player, but might not have the athletic ability to forge out an NBA career. Grade: C


Memphis Grizzlies

Round 1, #23: SG Jordan Adams, UCLA
Round 2, #35: PF Jarnell Stokes, Tennessee

Jordan Adams is a difficult prospect to analyze. He is not a good athlete whatsoever, but his analytic numbers are some of the best in the draft. Memphis hopes he can develop into a reliable scorer, as the Grizzlies have lacked wing scoring since trading away Rudy Gay. I personally think Rodney Hood and PJ Hairston are superior prospects who would have filled much bigger roles for Memphis. Jarnell Stokes should develop into a backup big man for Memphis. Like Adams, Stokes lacks athleticism but is a tough rebounder. With Ed Davis moving on, the minutes will be there. These two players might not ever become starters, but should provide bench minutes right away. Grade: C


Los Angeles Clippers

Round 1, #28: SG CJ Wilcox, Washington

Wilcox is a one trick pony who will really struggle to get minutes behind JJ Redick and Jamal Crawford, just ask Reggie Bullock. Wilcox is not a player who really needs to be developed, as he is already 23 years old and is what he is. I would have preferred Los Angeles go after someone more versatile like Cleanthony Early or KJ McDaniels. However, the Clippers will most likely load up the roster with ring chasing aging veterans, so whoever was drafted here would not have made a serious impact. Wilcox could step in if someone gets hurt. Grade: C


Orlando Magic

Round 1, #4: PF Aaron Gordon, Arizona
Round 1, #10: PG Elfrid Payton, Louisiana Lafayette
Round 2, #56: SG Roy Devyn Marble, Iowa

At first I was disgusted with the Magic's draft, but it has grown on me slightly. Orlando is a bad team without any real superstar potential talent on the roster, even with Victor Oladipo. Aaron Gordon was the most talented player available. I would have went with several players instead of him, but I can't fault Orlando for aiming higher than Maurice Harkless and Tobias Harris. Like those two, Gordon is a tweener, but much more talented. Orlando had to come out of this draft with a point guard. Miscasting Oladipo as a point for another year would have stunted his development. Elfrid Payton is a risk. Point guards who can't shoot better be able to get to the rim. Roy Devyn Marble has a chance to crack the roster as a shooting specialist. Orlando got more talented, but not any better. Expect this team to lose another 60 games next year. Grade: C-


Houston Rockets

Round 1, #25: PF Clint Capela, Switzerland
Round 2, #42: SG Nick Johnson, Arizona
Round 2, #53: SG Alessandro Gentile, Italy

The Rockets drafted exactly how I predicted they would in my final mock. In fact, I had them taking the very same player. Houston will want to save every penny for a run at a top free agent this summer, so they took Clint Capela, an intriguing, talented big man who is several years away from making a dent in the NBA. I doubt Nick Johnson or Alessandro Gentile ever makes much of an impact with the Rockets. Unfortunately for Johnson, he is three inches too short to really be an NBA contributor. The track record for players like him is not good. Gentile is not a great athlete or shooter, two things that would work against him if he were to become an NBA wing. If the Rockets can land Carmelo Anthony or Kevin Love, then it was worth it. If not, this could be a throwaway draft for Houston. Grade: C-


Sacramento Kings

Round 1, #8: SG Nik Stauskas, Michigan

With Noah Vonleh on the board, Sacramento decided to go shooting guard in the top ten for the second year in a row. Shooting was identified as a weakness this off season for the Kings, who were one of the worst shooting teams in the league, but this pick was still puzzling to me. Are they giving up on Ben McLemore? Or will they just run a small lineup with Rudy Gay at the 4? Either way, it is hard to see how this pick made the Kings any better, as they will still be absolutely dreadful on defense. Grade: C-


Miami Heat

Round 1, #24: PG Shabazz Napier, Connecticut

I suppose if LeBron James wants a player, you go out and draft him. No one selected at this spot would have made much of an impact, but Shabazz Napier could actually be the team's starting "point guard" as a rookie. I put it in quotations because all he will need to do is park at the three point line and knock down jump shots. Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole never quite worked out as point guards on this roster. There will be plenty of pressure for Naiper to step up with James endorsement. Napier was a career underachiever before a great senior year. Grade: C-


Toronto Raptors

Round 1, #20: SF Bruno Caboclo, Brazil
Round 2, #37: SF DeAndre Daniels, Connecticut

As a Nuggets fan, I believe in Masai Ujiri. He turned the Nuggets and Raptors into winners. I can't pretend I know a thing about Bruno Caboclo, but Ujiri obviously believes in the potential. NBADraft.net compares him to Serge Ibaka, with great athleticism and a huge wingspan. He will join the Raptors in 2014-2015 but we might not see much of him for a few years. DeAndre Daniels is a more classic second round selection. He could work his way into the rotation as a nice shooter. I can't give the Raptors a good grade because of the massive reach (or so we all think, who knows what draft boards really look like), but I will definitely follow Toronto to see how this kid turns out. Grade: C-


New Orleans Pelicans

Round 2, #47: PG Russ Smith, Louisville

With no first round pick the Pelicans were not going to find any immediate contributors. I have serious doubts that Russ Smith can become a successful pro, and he may go the same route Pierre Jackson did the year previous. A high upside draft and stash small forward might have made more sense. New Orleans continued to try to accelerate the rebuilding process by trading a first round pick for Omer Asik. That is now three straight first round picks the Pelicans have dealt. Not a great way to build a winning franchise in the NBA's toughest division. Grade: D


Oklahoma City Thunder

Round 1, #21: PF Mitch McGary, Michigan
Round 1, #29: SF Josh Huestis, Stanford

This was a very puzzling draft by the Thunder to me. I get the Mitch McGary pick, even though I disagree with him going that high. This draft is light on big men, and Oklahoma City wants plenty of big men on the roster to do the dirty work. McGary should carve out a Nick Collison like career. Josh Huestis makes no sense. He was a late second rounder at best, who earned a fat paycheck by shutting down Andrew Wiggins in the NCAA Tournament. With Andre Roberson already on the roster, he seems redundant. The Thunder must think very highly of Reggie Jackson and Jeremy Lamb to not draft anybody who can score. Grade: D-


Dallas Mavericks

Dallas traded both of it's second round draft picks and some solid players to get Tyson Chandler back from the Knicks. I did not like the trade from a Mavericks prospective, but I won't grade trades in this analysis. Grade: Incomplete


Golden State Warriors

Golden State did not have a draft pick, both of which went to Utah in separate deals. The Warriors are built to win now and sacrificed draft picks to sign Andre Iguodala. Grade: Incomplete


Indiana Pacers

Indiana traded away their late second round pick, choosing to pass on adding a draft and stash prospect to the organization. Grade: Incomplete


Portland Trail Blazers

The Blazers did not have any picks Thursday night. The pick was originally traded years ago to Charlotte for Gerald Wallace. Of course, famously, Portland flipped Wallace to an inept Nets team for the pick that ended up being Damian Lillard. So I say they are pretty happy with how the events unfolded. Grade: Incomplete


Washington Wizards

The Wizards did not have a pick, thanks to trading their first round selection to the Suns for Marcin Gortat. Considering the Wizards advanced to the second round for the first time in many many years, I say they are happy with the trade. Grade: Incomplete


Jonathan Carrano

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