Atlanta Hawks: A-
Atlanta was able to end the slide of AJ Griffin in the draft. Earlier in the process, he was discussed as a likely top 10 pick, and Atlanta was able to get him at #16. Griffin is a second generation NBA player, an excellent shooter, solid defensive fundamentals, and close to ideal length for modern wing. This certainly gives him a high floor, which more than makes him worthwhile where he was taken. The intrigue is whether or not he was limited by the situation of being on a loaded team. The team had Paolo Banchero and returned Wendell Moore, Mark Williams, and Jeremy Roach. It was essentially “fit in or wait a year.” After a largely non-descript opening month, Griffin found his role and excelled in it. One has to wonder, however, if he could be like Devin Booker or Russell Westbrook, not in style, but in that they were the rare prospects who had more depth to their game than they were able to display in their college career. Can Griffin be more of a creator? Atlanta rounded out their night with the addition of Tyrese Martin out of Connecticut. He is a very good athlete whose shooting improved considerably in his final season to 42 percent from three. His opportunities to show will likely be limited in Atlanta. He’ll need to be patient as he is going to a team that is committed in some way to Bodgan Bogdanovic, Kevin Kuerter, De’Andre Hunter, and now AJ Griffin.
Boston Celtics: B+
53. JD Davison, Alabama Fr.
Boston had a quiet night staying off the board until #53 and came away with a former 5-star with a lot of pedigree. Davison has a ton of athleticism and was explosive off the bounce, but was a poor shooter from mid-range and deep, turned the ball over too much, and does not exhibit a great feel for the game. To be fair to him, his profile and freshman season was not all that different from Jaden Ivey, but Ivey went back to school and turned himself into a top 5 pick while Davison entered the draft and probably has to work his way through the two-way contract path and develop under more challenging circumstances. For Boston, it is a flier without any real risk.Davison was one of a number of head-scratching players who decided to stay in the draft despite a consensus that they were future first round talents that were jumping the gun and projected as late second round to undrafted picks in this year’s draft. He finds himself in a good system provided that he makes the team and begins developing.
The Nets tried to sit out draft day, but Kyrie used the day to plot how he will set fire to Brooklyn again.
Charlotte Hornets B+
After trading their #13 pick to New York, the Hornets filled a need that everyone knew about at center. Mark Williams is as long as they come with a 7’6” wingspan and 9’9” standing reach. Given his length it is not shocking that he blocked 2.8 shots per game, and showed a surprising ability to move his feet laterally considering his size. On a team like Charlotte who needs to get better on the defensive end, Mark Williams should have a major impact. Offensively, he led college basketball in dunks, and shot better than 70 percent from the field. While largely a rim runner and lob threat, he is a pretty good free throw shooter. In the few jump shots he took, he looked pretty good, so there is hope he can expand his range over the coming years. In the 2nd round, Bryce McGowens is a good value as a prospect with upside, but not a great style for a guy who has to fit a role in order to get on the court and stick. On the plus side, he is long and smooth operator who was incredibly effective at getting to the rim and finishing. On the down side, his shot selection is not great, and was not effective from three. While he has the length and athleticism to grow into being a good defensive player, like virtually everyone at Nebraska, he was not particularly good at it.
Chicago Bulls: B-
18. Dalen Terry, Arizona So.
As the Bulls season went on, it was clear that the team needed to add defensive length on the wings. Dalen Terry certainly fits that mold as he is 6’7” with a near 7’1” wingspan. He is a heady offensive guy who has a great sense of how to fit in. He can handle the ball, make good reads and cuts off the ball. If Lonzo Ball misses time next season, he could be a candidate to step in and initiate the offense. His 36 percent shooting from three probably overstates his ability as a shooter. He ran hot and cold on a limited number of attempts, and will need to improve his form and become more polished in order to keep teams honest for his strengths to emerge. Defensively, he proved himself to be a pest and has the physical makeup for it to translate to the next level. It was not a home run swing of a pick, but a defensible upside selection that could pay dividends if he can become a reliable shooter.
Cleveland Cavaliers: B
After taking a major step forward in 2021-22, Cleveland was able to transition from shooting for upside to fill a need for a wing shooter. Agbaji has all the tools to be a three-and-D wing. He shot better than 40 percent from three as a senior. He was excellent in catch-and-shoot situations and receiving off the move. He is not much of a ballhandler, so it probably benefits him to go to a team with ball dominant creators in Darius Garland and Caris LeVert. He is a willing and able defender making the most of his high end athleticism and 6’10” wingspan. Khalifa Diop is young and has great size, but is still very raw. He does not have much range offensively, and averaged more than 3 fouls in 16 minutes per game for Gran Canaria. Spending a few more years in Spain would be best for his development. At #49, Cleveland took Evan Mobley’s brother Isaiah. The two made a formidable duo a couple years ago at USC, and Isaiah took a nice step forward as a junior. He led the team in scoring, rebounding, assists, steals, and blocks, and shot a respectable 35 percent from three on 122 attempts. While shorter than his brother, he possesses a 7’3” wingspan. He probably starts out on a two-way deal, but the team shows their commitment to Evan, and Isaiah could become a knock down shooter off the bench. Luke Travers was their final selection of the night. He fits the prototype for the kind of size every team wants in a wing, 6’8” with a 6’10” wingspan and the ability to move laterally. He went to the G-League Elite Camp and has a good second game. His season in the NBL was not overly impressive where he can handle and create, but has not been much of a shooter over his two full seasons with Perth.
Detroit Pistons: A-
Merry Christmas Detroit! It seemed improbable that Ivey was going to be available to the Pistons at #5, but Sacramento went for Keegan Murray at #4. Detroit ended up coming away with a powerful, explosive guard who is a highlight reel in the open court. He had a standout sophomore campaign where he was Second Team All-American and First Team All-Big Ten. While not a great shooter, he showed improvement. The Purdue offense and personnel did not offer him a great deal of spacing in the halfcourt, and the additional room to operate in Detroit should allow him greater ability to utilize his speed and agility. Defensively, he has the length and athleticism to grow into being a good defender, but was not at Purdue. With Cade Cunningham being a work-in-progress at that end, Ivey will have to improve for the backcourt partnership to work. Detroit then went wheeling and dealing and came away with the 6’10” with a 7’5” wingspan manchild Jalen Duren. Duren reclassified to enter Memphis a year early, and like the Tigers in general had an up-and-down season. On some nights, he dominated the paint on both ends finishing everything, cleaning up the glass, and protecting the rim. On others, he would seem lethargic or find himself in foul trouble. Even when going well, he is limited offensively. He is stiff in the post and showed very little as a shooter. Gabriele Procida is a promising wing from Italy with good athleticism and shot the well from behind the arc, but played less than 500 minutes each of the past two seasons. Whether he comes over or not, they probably will want to see him play more be it with the Pistons, the G-League, or abroad.
Indiana Pacers: B+
The Pacers draft slot at #6 was solid and they may end up with a top 5 pick when all is said and done. Mathurin is an athletic wing with plus length and a 38 percent three-point shooter on 316 attempts over his two years at Arizona. As a solid off-ball mover, he should benefit from having Tyrese Haliburton as his point guard. His ballhandling is not developed at this point to where he is going to create much. Despite this, his vision is not bad, which is reflected by having 2.5 assists per game when he did not handle the ball a ton. Defensively, he is solid but not quite as good as his reputation as his intensity sometimes wains. With Indiana in a rebuild, that bad habit could be problematic if they envision a quick rebound to competitiveness. At #31, the Pacers opted for Andrew Nembhard who grew by leaps and bounds over his four years at Florida and Gonzaga. He emerged from Jalen Suggs’ shadows in his senior year, and showed himself to be a solid floor general with a near 3-1 assist:turnover ratio. After struggling with his three point shot in his first three years, he shot a solid 38 percent as a senior. While reports have Malcolm Brogdon on the trade block this summer, the Pacers still have him along with T.J. McConnell with multiple guaranteed years on his deal behind Haliburton. Nembhard might have to wait his turn before getting a chance to be the backup point guard, but has the ability to ultimately take that role. Later on, the Pacers came away with Kendall Brown. While he did not show enough offensively to merit a first round pick, he does have the style and profile to be a value in the 2nd. Long, top shelf athletic guys who have an understanding of how to fit in have value at #48. It will be interesting to see if Indiana opts to give him a full deal in the hope of having him locked into multiple option years or starts him out on a two-way.
Miami Heat: B+
27. Nikola Jovic, KK Mega Bemax
Jovic has the look of an excellent prospect. He is 6’11” with guard skills. He can handle and create. His shot has run hot and cold, but looks sound. His season was up-and-down. The season started slow, things picked up for a month, struggled again, and then finished string. It is quite something given that he only played 700 or so minutes. Given where the Heat took him at #27, it is hard to find fault with the pick. With Jovic’s relative lack of experience, and Miami’s continued push to contend for a title, he can bide his time and learn about winning basketball in Miami’s “culture”.
Milwaukee Bucks: B-
It was a bit of a surprise to see Milwaukee take Marjon Beauchamp at #24. Granted, he was the most impressive defensive player on the G-League Ignite. He is a very good athlete with a 7-foot wingspan. Offensively, he struggled when he operated away from the rim. While he moves well off the ball, it is slightly hard to see how a wing that’s a non-threat from the perimeter works on a team with Giannis. With Milwaukee looking to compete for a title the next few seasons, can he develop enough of a shot to allow his defensive prowess to get him on the court? Hugo Besson was the final pick of the draft. He moved from his native France to the NBL where he played for the nomadic New Zealand Breakers. He is intriguing as a combo scoring guard, but his value to Milwaukee will likely be in that he continues to develop off their roster.
New York Knicks: B-
3 future first round picks (one traded away)
42. Trevor Keels, Duke Fr.
Cap space (moved Kemba Walker contract)
After a myriad of trades to create cap space, add future picks, and take them out of the first round, the Knicks took Trevor Keels at #42 continuing in the trend of the Knicks taking players from blue blood program. Keels ran hot-and-cold offensively, but with a strong frame and attitude as well as good length was more consistent on that end. he did prove to be clutch with his play in the tournament. As long as Tom Thibodeau is in New York, a player has a chance if he gets after it defensively, and that is going to be Keels’ best chance to stick. Ultimately, New York decided it was a night to punt on the draft class and try to build their squad through trades and free agency. It will be interesting to see how the free agency period shakes out and whether they actually are able to land a top tier point guard.
Orlando Magic: A-
Surprise, surprie! The night started with a shocker. There were whispers that it could happen, but many felt it was just a smoke screen until it actually happened. Banchero arrived to Duke at a very advanced level both physically and developmentally. He is a sturdy 6’10” and 250 lbs. At his size, and with ability to handle the ball, see the floor, and make contested jump shots, he was able to overwhelm defenders on most nights. He earned all the accolades of being ACC Freshman of the Year, First Team All-ACC, and AP Second Team All-American. With his skill set, and continued development on a good looking shot, he should be a standout offensive player in the NBA. On the flip side, he is not the best athlete, certainly not the kind typically seen of top overall picks, which raises some concerns. He is not a great lateral mover defensively, and his lack of explosiveness will limit the effectiveness that one would expect from a guy his size with a 7-foot wingspan. While Banchero is likely the best equipped to join a struggling franchise and carry the burden of going first and thrive, it was stunning that Team President John Hammond, who has for years chased players with length first and foremost, went against that philosophy with the first overall pick. Houstan came in with a lot of hype, but underwhelmed. He has prototypical size and length for a wing, and has a good looking shot, yet was often invisible even while playing more than 30 minutes per game. He offers a different kind of wing than they have been bringing in over the past couple years. Selling off the #35 pick to the Lakers was disappointing without first seeing who might be available. The player LA landed at 35, Max Christie, could easily end up better than the player they took at 32, On their current team, only Terrence Ross, who might be moved this summer, and Devin Cannady, whose contract is not guaranteed, are over 25 years old. It might behoove the Magic to use those final roster spots on some veterans who will be able to help guide a young team trying to develop yet another young player whose opportunities would be limited.
Philadelphia 76ers: B
Traded for De’Anthony Melton
The Sixers opted to deal the #23 pick to Memphis for De’Anthony Melton, which makes sense. While Melton is not going to move the needle for Philadelphia’s long-awaited attempt to exit its declared purgatory of being a team that maxes out in the 2nd round of the playoffs, he has been good in a lesser role in Memphis. He is a willing and solid defender who can reliably knock down threes. Seeing as how his role will likely increase due to Philadelphia needing a defensive guard to cover for Harden, it will be interesting to see how that impacts his shooting efficiency.
Toronto Raptors: B
33. Christian Koloko, Arizona Jr.
Toronto had a clear need at center coming into the offseason, and came away with one. Whether or not Koloko is ready to step into a role is uncertain. At Arizona, he was an excellent shot blocker who showed some potential to move laterally. If that holds, he might be able to step in as a backup center. Offensively, Koloko is limited. He went from 2.3 points per game as a freshman to 5.3 as a sophomore, and finally 12.3 as a junior. Despite never having shot a three in college, his form does look solid. The vast majority of his offense came at the rim, and was created by his teammates. While he comes across as a good athlete on defense, he looks stiff on offense. When in the post, he had some ugly misses and was never really effective. One of the big surprises to come out of the Combine was that Koloko shot the ball well. He was 73.5 percent from the free throw line, so it is possible that his workout form could eventually work its way into live game action. Given Toronto’s history of development in the G-League, and Koloko’s background, he should benefit playing North of the border in an International environment.
Washington Wizards B
Davis emerged in a big way during his sophomore season at Wisconsin. While cliché, he has the kind of game one expects from a son of a longtime pro, heady and old-school. He was excellent in the mid-range and operating with a defender on his hip. The concerns are that while he has good size and length for a guard, he does not project as a switchable defender capable of handling bigger, longer wings. On offense, he has a good looking shot, but was only 30.6 percent from three as a sophomore. Given how good of a shooter he is in the mid-range and the free throw line, one would expect him to improve in that area, but it has to happen as he will have the ball less on a team with Bradley Beal. As a slight aside, it was disappointing that Johnny’s representatives did not ensure there was a toasted cheddar chalupa on the table in front at the draft after he made the best commercial so far by a basketball player prior to entering the NBA draft. At #54, Yannick Nzosa is young, has great length, and is in a good developmental place in Malaga. He is coming off a rough season at the best domestic league in Europe. He is still only 18 years old, and could very well develop over the coming years.