Here are my 2015 NBA draft grades. I felt like quite a bit of teams did well, so there is quite a few A’s and B’s, but also some lower grades, as some teams reached for a particular player, or did not draft a need filling player.
Minnesota Timberwolves- A
Draft Picks: Karl Anthony-Towns and Tyus Jones
Having the number one selection and using it to acquire Towns, one of the most dynamic players in the draft, that also fits a huge need for you, garners an A for you. The Timberwolves then used their two early second round picks to acquire Tyus Jones from the Cleveland Cavaliers, who did not want a rookie guaranteed contract on their squad, as they look to resign all their free agents. Jones can step into the point guard spot, and allow for LaVine to slide to shooting guard. Jones is a better pure point guard, that also has that “it” factor. Look for the Timberwolves to be very active the next few weeks in trade talks involving, Pekovic, Martin, and possibly Rubio. The Timberwolves are building a very nice core for the future.
Los Angeles Lakers- A-
Draft Picks: D’Angelo Russell, Larry Nance, and Anthony Brown
D’Angelo Russell was an A+ pick. Russell is ready to learn from one of the all-time greats in Kobe Bryant. Bryant and Russell both have the “it” factor to be stars in the league. Russell will help shoulder the offensive load from Kobe this next season, and then lead the offense after that. Nance was an unexpected first round selection, and with Robert Upshaw on the board, who could have made a bigger impact, this was a bad pick. Brown will be a nice rotational player for the Lakers, who needed wing depth. The Lakers did sign Robert Upshaw to a summer league contract, which I expect Upshaw to shine at, and Upshaw should make their roster for the season.
Philadelphia 76ers- B-
Draft Picks: Jahlil Okafor, Luka Mitrovic, J.P. Tokoto, Arturas Gudaitis, Richaun Holmes, and Guillermo Hernangomez
Getting Okafor, who some, myself included, thought was the best NBA ready prospect at third overall is fantastic, but when your last three top ten picks have been centers, you would think to look elsewhere. Unless Hinkie is thinking of trading Okafor, Noel, or Embiid, this pick is questionable especially with all the other talent on the board. The 76ers than took another pair of centers in the second round, and other foreign players. I just felt this draft was used poorly by Hinkie, and do not understand when his plan will begin to unfold.
New York Knicks- B-
Draft Picks: Kristaps Porzingis and Jerian Grant
Now this grade is a bit harsh, but when you are playing in Madison Square Garden, you do not take a player, who needs multiple years to develop. Porzingis has the talent to be the best player out of this draft, but trying to sell that to free agents, who want to win now is not going to work this summer. By the time Porzingis will be ready to contribute considerably, Anthony will be exiting his prime. With Winslow, Mudiay, even Johnson on the board, the Knicks will regret this pick in the short term. Even after this pick, the Knicks made a trade to acquire Jerian Grant, who will shine at point guard for them. The Knicks were desperate for a point guard, and Grant could compete for the best in his class. The Knicks had to give up Hardaway Jr, but Hardaway never looked like he was going to take the next step, so his departure is not as bad as it seems.
Orlando Magic- A
Draft Picks: Mario Hezonja and Tyler Harvey
The Magic got a offensive specialist, and that is exactly what they need, Hezonja has said he could beat Kobe one-on-one, and the Magic need that kind of confidence, if they want to take the next step. Hezonja allows for them to let Tobias Harris walk if they want, to retain cap room for their other rising youngsters.
Sacramento Kings- C+
Draft Pick: Willie Trill Cauley-Stein
Stein is not a great frontcourt partner for Cousins, even with his defensive presence. For Stein to not be labeled a bust, he will have to make first time all-defense nearly every year, for he offers very little on the offensive side of the ball. I understand Mudiay completely rejected the Kings prior to the draft, but even Johnson or Winslow could have been much better picks for the future.
Denver Nuggets- A
Draft Picks: Emmanuel Mudiay and Nikola Radicevic
You pick up a guard, who has comparisons to John Wall at seven? That is a steal for the Nuggets, who want to trade their current point guard, Ty Lawson anyways. Mudiay, of all the recent Nugget picks has the highest chance of evolving into the star they desire. The Nuggets are trying to rebuild, and Mudiay serves as a good foundation piece. They have Gary Harris for a potential backcourt duo. The Nuggets also have Nurkic for their interior defense building block, and with another high draft pick next season, they could fill their forward spot, and have a bright future as a team.
Detroit Pistons- A-
Draft Picks: Stanley Johnson and Darrun Hilliard II
Getting Stanley Johnson was a huge win for the Pistons. Detroit needed a defensive presence on their perimeter, and Johnson will give them that. Johnson will need a few seasons to bring his offensive game up to par with his defense, but in Detroit he will have that time. They added some guard depth in the second as well. Detroit will boast a pretty good starting five, if Jackson is retained, of Jennings, Jackson, Johnson, Ilyasova, and Drummond.
Charlotte Hornets- B-
Draft Picks: Frank Kaminsky
The Hornets needed spacing, and Kaminsky gives them a stretch five for their bench. Although, I think they filled this need with Hawes, and should have traded down, Kaminsky is a hard worker, who has a way better work ethic than Hawes. With the addition of Kaminsky, look for Charlotte to become extremely active trying to deal Cody Zeller.
Miami Heat- A+
Draft Picks: Justise Winslow and Josh Richardson
Selecting Justise Winslow at tenth overall may have been the biggest steal of the draft. Most mocks never had Winslow falling out of the top seven, eighth at worse. Winslow will bring explosiveness to the offensive side of the ball, and will lock down the perimeter on defense. Even if Wade decides to leave, Winslow could start off at shooting guard, and allow for Loul Deng to stay at the three. Although he will not offer the same offensive ability as Wade, Winslow will offer better defense and the ability to stay healthy.
Indiana Pacers- A
Draft Picks: Myles Turner and Joseph Young
The Pacers got who they wanted in the first round with Myles Turner. Turner gives them the ability to shop Roy Hibbert, who almost immediately after the pick was made, opted in to his last year of his contract. After this move, the Pacers are planning to try and trade him. I think Hibbert could be a good defensive mentor for Turner, but his salary is extremely high, and the Pacers need more dynamic players to help Paul George in the east. In the second round, Indiana selected Joseph Young, who will be a great scorer off the bench for the Pacers, even a possible sixth man for them. Overall, the Pacers got great talent, without having to move around.
Utah Jazz- C
Draft Picks: Trey Lyles and Olivier Hanlan
I am not a huge fan of Trey Lyles, and his fit in Utah is questionable. The Jazz were really high on Frank Kaminsky and tried to move up, but Charlotte would not budge. Lyles felt like a reach to me, and offers great offense off the bench for the Jazz, but a player like Sam Dekker would have filled a bigger hole. Lyles will luckily be coming off the bench, so his defensive woes will be less noticeable, and his offensive skills highlighted.
Phoenix Suns- B
Draft Picks: Devin Booker
An already jammed backcourt gets more jammed. Adding Booker was a good selection for his talent, but with a wing like Oubre, who possess more game changing potential, than that of Booker, who I think will end up being just a sixth man. A sixth man is crucial for your team, but when you are stuck in the 8-10 zone in your conference, you need to look for major difference makers. They did trade for Jon Leuer, who should help with their second unit spacing from the four, but he will not help them take a huge step further either.
Oklahoma City Thunder- A-
Draft Picks: Cameron Payne and Dakari Johnson
Oklahoma did a good job standing pat, and filling holes. Payne will be a great back-up guard to Westbrook, who will be able to lead the second unit, as they will not miss a beat when Westbrook takes a breather. If Westbrook decided to leave in free agency, Payne could potentially take over as their main point guard. In the second round they drafted Dakari Johnson, who will be a developmental big off the bench to give Adams and Kanter a break. I would have liked to see the Thunder target a back-up small forward, but with their interest to resign Singler, that was unlikely.
Atlanta Hawks- C-
Draft Picks: Marcus Eriksson and Dimitrios Agravanis
Atlanta ended the draft day with the main addition of Tim Hardaway Jr. I thought they made a great choice in Kelly Oubre, but they almost immediately traded him to Washington for Jerian Grant, who they used to acquire Hardaway. Oubre had a lot of potential, both for stardom and bust ability. Hardaway seems like nothing more than a role player to me, and with Monta Ellis expressing interest in playing for you, he offered a better skill set than Hardaway, and you could have kept Oubre. The Hawks decided to go with draft-and-stash in the second round, instead of looking for a rim protector. The Hawks, in my eyes, did little to improve their team after this draft.
Boston Celtics- D+
Draft Picks: Terry Rozier, R.J. Hunter, Jordan Mickey, and Marcus Thornton
Besides the Hunter selection, which saved their grade, the Celtics draft was miserable. We will see how Mickey’s rim protection translates to bigger opponents at the next level, but other than that, the Celtics neglected their biggest need. Then they added more chaos to their backcourt. Rozier has no true position yet, but he can flat out score. The only problem is they have Isiah Thomas to do that off the bench, so this pick is beyond questionable. They added two more shooting guards in Hunter and Thornton. The Celtics now have a mess in their backcourt, no height on their frontcourt, with not a lot of talent at the small forward position. I just view this draft as poor choices by the Celtics. Unless these players are going to be used to try and do a sign-and-trade for a star player, the Celtics will have a lot of work cut out for them.
Milwaukee Bucks- B
Draft Picks: Rashad Vaughn
I was really hoping the Milwaukee Bucks drafted Bobby Portis, but instead they went with their bigger need, and that is scoring. Vaughn will be able to give them much needed bench scoring, and maybe develop into a rotational starter for them. If Vaughn did get hurt during the season he could have gone potentially higher than this, so hopefully during summer league we will see the original Vaughn in action. The Bucks used their second round pick to acquire Greivis Vasquez, who can handle the back-up point guard duties for them, as well as, start a few games for them if Williams gets hurt. The draft was used by the Bucks to acquire more bench depth, which they will need as the east grows stronger.
Houston Rockets- B+
Draft Picks: Sam Dekker and Montrezl Harrell
The Rockets addressed some depth issues in the draft. Dekker has good potential as a starter, but will offer more off the bench for the Rockets. Dekker will provide three point shooting, ability to attack the rim, and above average defensive ability. Harrell is a good value pick in the second round, and will offer great rebounding abilities for the Rockets, when things get physical, or Howard gets in foul trouble.
Washington Wizards- A-
Draft Picks: Kelly Oubre and Aaron White
The Wizards traded up to get Kelly Oubre, who is a great addition to their bench. With the uncertainty of whether Paul Pierce will be back, Oubre can give them the scoring punch off the bench, much as Pierce did. In the second round, the Wizards found a great value pick in Aaron White. White is a hard worker, who can also stretch the floor from the four spot, which they could use. White lacks the potential to become a starter, but will be a great offensive bench piece for the Wizards.
Toronto Raptors- A
Draft Picks: Delon Wright and Norman Powell
Toronto ended the draft in great shape. They drafted a great back-up point guard, who could also start if Lowry gets hurts, got some shooting depth in the second round, received a future first round pick, and dumped the contract of Vasquez. The Raptors still have a glaring hole at the four spot, but with the Chicago Bulls selecting Bobby Portis, Taj Gibson is likely hitting the trade block, and the Raptors should be targeting him. Gibson will give them defensive grit, as well as veteran leadership. A package built around Terrence Ross and some draft picks should get the Bulls to let go of Gibson.
Dallas Mavericks- B
Draft Picks: Justin Anderson and Satnam Singh Bharama
The Mavericks needed some perimeter defensive help, and Anderson should bring that to the table, as well as perimeter scoring. Anderson has good leadership qualities, and should be able to step in from day one at the two spot. Without drafting a point guard, it is obvious now, that the Mavericks will go heavily after Patrick Beverley in free agency. The second round pick of Bharama is a traditional draft-and-stash, as he is a 7’2 Indian center, that will hopefully be able to make it overseas, as developing the game of basketball in India would greatly increase the international love of the game, and future foreign prospects.
Chicago Bulls- B+
Draft Picks: Bobby Portis
Bobby Portis was one of my favorite player’s in this draft, so this was a great addition by Chicago. With that being said, Chicago really needed a rim protector or back-up guard. Portis gets added to the already crowded Chicago frontcourt, and the selection likely means Taj Gibson is on the move. Portis will be available to develop his mid-range game even further, under Gasol’s tutelage. Once Gasol leaves or retires, Portis will be able to come and fill the same skill set as Gasol, without the Bulls missing a beat.
Portland Trailblazers- C+
Draft Picks: Pat Connaughton and Daniel Diez
The Trailblazers traded their first round pick of Rondae Hollis-Jefferson in a deal for Mason Plumlee. Plumlee allows for the Trailblazers to let Lopez walk, if he gets out of their price range, and Plumlee is still a younger player to build around. Connaughton will give the Trailblazers a good stretch man off the bench, who can drain threes. I would have preferred the Trailblazers to keep Jefferson, but they did at least get a talented player in return.
Cleveland Cavaliers- A
Draft Picks: Cedi Osman, Rakeem Christmas, and Sir’Dominic Pointer
Trading Tyus Jones might come back to bite the Cavaliers in the butt, but in that trade they did get two very good prospects to work with, and no guaranteed salary commitment. Osman will not be coming over for at least a year or two, but offers great versatility on the wing. Christmas compares almost identical to current Cavalier forward, Tristan Thompson. This move could be made to replace Thompson, as he wants a max deal, and I do not think the Cavalier’s view him as this type of player. Getting two players, who will enhance your bench, and have potential to become starters in the second round, was huge steals for the Cavaliers, who greatly enhanced their team this draft.
Memphis Grizzlies- B-
Draft Picks: Jarell Martin and Andrew Harrison
Martin gives the Grizzlies a guy to back-up and learn from Zach Randolph, who is entering the final seasons of his career. Martin will a very explosive bench piece for the Grizzlies, who look to add as much talent as possible in the extremely competitive Western Conference. Harrison gives the Grizzlies a player, who can get extremely hot from the perimeter, and they needed this type of player.
San Antonio Spurs- B-
Draft Picks: Nikola Milutinov and Cady Lalanne
As everyone has already made the joke of the Spurs selecting an international player, so now he is bound to be good. The Spurs wanted to go with a draft-and-stash, due to their interest in signing LaMarcus Aldridge, who will put them close to the salary cap, so they did not want to worry about salary commitment to a rookie. Milutinov will likely come over after Duncan retires, as a possible successor. Lalanne could be a guy to keep an eye on during summer league. The Spurs have great luck finding gems in the second round, and Lalanne might be next in line for that.
Los Angeles Clippers- C+
Draft Picks: Branden Dawson
The Clippers had no draft picks this past draft, but have traded cash considerations for New Orleans’s second round pick, Branden Dawson. Dawson will have to prove his worth to make the competitive Clippers roster, but with the Clippers lacking depth on the perimeter, Dawson has a good chance to make the roster.
New Orleans Pelicans- N/A
Draft Picks: None
The Pelicans biggest need this offseason was a three-and-D wing, and they drafted Branden Dawson, who could fill this void. Dawson was traded for cash considerations, and the Pelicans have plans for going after Draymond Green and DeMarre Carroll this offseason, Although Green will likely be staying in Golden State, due to his restricted status, Carroll is unrestricted and could sign with them, even though most reports show New York and Atlanta as his two favorites.
Brooklyn Nets- A-
Draft Picks: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Chris McCullough, and Juan Vaulet
Had McCullough not injured his leg this past season, he could have gone a lot higher in this draft. So selecting him at the 29th pick is a steal in most people’s minds. McCullough has no need to rush back from his injury, as Thaddeus Young can hold down the four until he returns, and then move to small forward when McCullough is ready to start. Trading Plumlee for Jefferson was a great trade in many different reasons. The Nets wanted to bring back Lopez, and now with no competition for the center position, Lopez will likely decide to come back. Jefferson also gives the Nets one of the best lock-down defenders from this year’s draft class. The Nets, who did not have a lot to work with, came out stronger after this draft.
Golden State Warriors- A+
Draft Picks: Kevon Looney
To start the year, Looney was vastly considered a top ten pick, and then as the season progressed, Looney began to see his stock slide, and then he was suppose to be drafted in the late teens to early twenties. The Warriors snatched him up with the 30th pick, and have an interesting prospect to work with, or dangle in trade talks. Looney is a great rebounder, so he can fill the void of David Lee, if he is lost. Looney also has great offensive potential, as many compare him to a poor man’s Kevin Durant. Getting a player like this, only makes the already rich Warriors, that much richer.
By: Mac Crowe, @Mac_Truck17