Dallas Mavericks: A
37. Jaden Hardy, G League Ignite
The Mavericks did most of their damage before draft night, trading pick 26 to acquire Christian Wood. Ultimately, is Wood better than what they would have gotten at 26? The answer is almost certainly yes. For a team that advanced as far as they did last season despite their obvious weaknesses, it made a lot of sense to grab an established player instead of taking a flier on a prospect that may not actually play meaningful minutes for them right away. Then, in the second round, they saw an opportunity to trade for Jaden Hardy, who many expected to go in the first round. For only 2 future second rounders, the Mavs scooped Hardy out of the Green room and gave themselves a productive draft night.
Denver Nuggets: C+
The Nuggets started their night at 21 by selecting Christian Braun. He’s got good size and a good shooting stroke, but he doesn’t necessarily fix the weaknesses that Denver struggled with last season. This would have been a good place for someone like Blake Wesley instead. Braun has value though, and assuming Denver can figure out their ball handling situation (which should be better with Jamal Murray back healthy), Braun could play a nice role, especially cutting off of Jokic post ups and finding open spot up jumpers. At 30 the Nuggets made a puzzling decision to select Peyton Watson who showed next to nothing in college. They could have gone with plenty of more established or productive players at the end of the first round. Watson has some upside, but with players like Max Christie and Jaden Hardy still on the board, both picks could have been maximized better. In the second round they traded a future second for Ismael Kamagate, who may not come to the league next year. Ultimately, the Nuggets didn’t do a great job in addressing their issues in the draft and even though they had limited draft capital, it seems like they squandered some of it on draft night.
Golden State Warriors: A-
The Warriors are the champs, so draft night was an opportunity for them to swing for the fences, as they don’t have a lot of major needs. They resisted the temptation to trade James Wiseman, at least for now, and with pick 28 selected Patrick Baldwin Jr. Baldwin only played a handful of games at Wisconsin-Milwaukee and was extremely underwhelming there. However, going into his junior year he was among the top rated recruits in his class and there was a debate about who was better between him and number one pick Paolo Banchero, so it’s clear the talent is there. He has size and skills that make you believe the production will eventually come, and he couldn’t have even up in a better situation with a mentor like Draymond Green. He’s a very skilled 6’10 forward with passing, ball handling and shooting ability. The key will be staying healthy and getting tougher. Ultimately, though, Golden State won’t rely on him to play significant minutes and will likely have him develop in the G-League. If he doesn’t hit, the champs blew the 28th pick taking a risk so it won’t kill them, but if he hits, he could be the steal of the draft 5 years from now. In the second round the Warriors traded up to land Toledo’s Ryan Rollins, who could be another scoring guard off the bench for them. Rollins has first round talent and some intriguing isolation skills, ala CJ McCollum. Like Baldwin, Rollins shot looks a lot better than the (31% from 3) stats would indicate and also has a chance to be one of the draft’s biggest steals at 44. While we preferred Max Christie who was being considered heavvily for the pick, Baldwin has a chance to be a bigtime player and has great versatility at his size. Santos is a nice draft and stash pick late with a surprising skill level and feel for the game.
Houston Rockets: A
The Rockets had their hearts set on Banchero, but Smith, who many had pegged at the number one pick for months is not a bad consolation prize. Smith fits in well with their roster but could use a high level assist man to get him better looks. He probably will take longer to adapt to the NBA than Banchero, but has the higher ceiling with his scoring ability. He should also provide some much needed additional floor spacing. The Rockets were in a position that they just had to select whichever member of the big three fell to them, and they didn’t over think it when it came time to pick at 3. They followed that up by selecting Tari Eason from LSU at 17, giving them a long, defensive-minded forward. He overlaps a little bit positionally with Smith, but they have different enough skill sets that it still makes sense. And then they swapped the 26th pick for the 29th pick, where they selected Tyty Washington, who plays with less reckless abandon than Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr., so he should help balance those other young guards out stylistically. Very strong draft night for the Rockets. In SEC the Rockets apparently trust, as all three of their first round picks were players from SEC teams.
Los Angeles Clippers: C
43. Moussa Diabate[, Michigan
The Clippers only had one pick in the draft and it was way down at 43. With it they selected Moussa Diabate out of Michigan. Admittedly, options are limited this deep into the draft and there weren’t many significant options left on the board, but there just isn’t much Diabate does that appears to translate to the NBA game. He’s likely to spend most of his NBA career in the G-League. They may have decided to adress need and perhaps they can develop Diabate into something considering his length and athleticism, but it seems they would have been better off selecting Ryan Rollins or Kendall Brown here.
Los Angeles Lakers: A
35. [Player: Max Christie, Michigan State
The Lakers had no picks, but swung a deal with Orlando to get the 35th pick on the day before the draft. With it they selected Michigan State guard Max Christie a player we had graded out 20 spots higher. Is he the answer to all of LA’s problems? No. But their grade is based on what the team does with what’s available to them, and getting a young shooter who should be able to develop over time and play alongside LeBron James as he learns the NBA game. Christie at 35 is really good value for a team that needs some young talent infused into their roster. Extremely impressive draft with their trade up and selection.
Memphis Grizzlies: D
Memphis was extremely active and sometimes it felt like they were bidding against themselves. However, their front office is clearly steadfast in their convictions and are not afraid to go against the grain. They decided to trade 22 and 29 to move up only 3 spots and take Jake LaRavia even though there’s a very good chance they could have landed him at 22. DeAnthony Melton was clearly out of favor in Memphis and they took the opportunity to move on from him and get some value by trading him to Philadelphia in a deal for Danny Green and the rights to draft David Roddy, who they likely could have drafted at 29. So even though it seems as though the Grizzlies got the guys they wanted, their asset management was awful, and they wasted some opportunities to make the most of what they had. On top of that, the players they got in the first round don’t appear to be massive gets for the franchise, although Roddy is an intriguing figure on that team and in that system. he could ultimately fill the role of emotional leader if Dillon Brooks moves on. One positive thing Memphis did was trading a future second for Kennedy Chandler, bringing the hometown guard home to play behind Ja Morant. He represents excellent value in the second round and could be a solid replacement for Tyus Jones as Ja’s backup.
Minnesota Timberwolves: B+
Credit new President of basketball Ops Yim Connelly for turning one pick into two first rounders. The one player they missed out on was Malaki Branham, who went a spot after their original pick at 19. Minnesota had an interesting night. They started off by making a nice trade with Memphis to net them picks 22 and 29 for their 19th pick. By moving down only three picks, they were still able to grab Walker Kessler, whose defensive presence should help them account for Karl Anthony-Towns’ lack of defensive acumen. Kessler is a stellar shot blocker who, while not a stretch big, should have enough shooting touch to be able to play out to midrange at least. The Wolves then decided to trade back up from 29 to 26 in order to grab Wendell Moore. Moore is a solid player who should be able to carve out at least a small role in the rotation, but I’m not convinced that the Wolves wouldn’t have been better off just staying at 29 and taking someone younger and better in TyTy Washington. Ultimately though, it was a solid draft for the Timberwolves. Both Kessler and Moore were targets for the team, and their ability to land both was impressive.
New Orleans Pelicans: B-
At 8, the Pelicans nabbed Dyson Daniels, who is a 6-7 ball handling wing, who may not be done growing. I’m not sure he’s a perfect fit on a roster that isn’t actually very far off from being a contender if Zion is healthy, but he represented the best value once the Pels were on the clock. His skill set is quite interesting, and much like his start to his season with the G-League Ignite, I would expect him to take time to get acclimated to the team and NBA style of play, but if he and CJ McCollum can mesh in that backcourt, New Orleans could throw some really interesting lineups at teams next season with McCollum, Daniels, Ingram, and Zion all out there at once. Daniels is more of a glorified role player, glue guy but his attitude, professionalism and work ethic ensure that he will be a solid contributor at minimum. With a team looking to make the jump into the contenders in the West, Daniels gives them solid value in the short term. In the second round they selected EJ Liddell and Karlo Matkovic. Matkovic is unlikely to play meaningful minutes anytime soon, but the Pels will be hoping that Liddell, an undersized four, can fill a role, but it’s hard to play a frontcourt as small as Zion and Liddell together, so Liddell, as good of a college player as he was and even though he had a first round grade by some, actually brings this grade down slightly.
Oklahoma City Thunder: A-
The Thunder landed Chet Holmgren with the second pick, and with Paolo Banchero off the board at that point, that left Holmgren as the highest upside guy on their board available, so the Thunder stayed the course and went for Holmgren’s potential over Smith’s higher floor plus considerable ceiling (although the world may implode in upon itself if we ever witness Holmgren and Pokusevski on the court together). They followed it up by trading for yet another first round pick (surprise, surprise) by giving up 3 future picks to the Knicks. With the 11th and 12th picks, they went with Ousmane Dieng and Jalen Williams, who were fine picks, but I’d have preferred AJ Griffin or Malaki Branham over Williams. And then they finished up by selecting Jaylin Williams of Arkansas, giving them a defensive pest who should be able to carve out a role early on in Oklahoma City. All in all it was a strong draft. It wasn’t perfect, and they certainly created some confusion with two players with the same name coming in. But give them credit for swinging for the fences with their first two picks and being aggressive using their stockpile of future picks to acquire a highly sought after asset at 11. They did so knowing Dieng would not have been there at 12 with teams like New Orleans bidding for the Knicks selection at 11. Dieng may never reach his potential, and is a long ways off, but as far as upside goes, they maximized their picks and should see at least one of the these players hit big.
Phoenix Suns: Incomplete
The Suns did not have a pick in this draft.
Portland Trailblazers: B-
7. Sheadon Sharpe, Kentucky
57. Jabari Walker, Colorado
While not part of their draft, they acquired Jerami Grant before the draft without dealing their seventh overall pick, which became Shaedon Sharpe. The acquisition of Grant should help them take some of the load off of Dame Lillard, but then they swung for the fences with the selection of Sharpe, who is largely an unknown after not having played meaningful basketball in what seems like forever. He has all of the tools to develop into a terrific player, but his timeline is very different from that of Lillard and Grant, and it feel as though the Blazers are stuck between building for the future and contending now, which is not where you want to be in the NBA, unless you’re the Golden State Warriors. Sharpe, if he hits, could be a stellar pick, but he’s extremely risky, and if it doesn’t pan out, they risk alienating the veterans on the roster. They elevated their selection by trading away CJ McCollum, and sliding in the standings, so adding a cheaper CJ type of player with more readiness, like Johnny Davis would have seemed to make more sense. They also added Colorado’s Jabari Walker late, who was a nice pick and could see some spot minutes for them early in his career.
Sacramento Kings: C
4. Keegan Murray, Iowa
Murray is a solid pick, and makes sense from a team need and immediate production standpoint. And taking Jaden Ivey wouldn’t have really fit their roster all that well. However, with the Kings’ history of botching the draft, I can’t give them the benefit of the doubt, and they passed up a younger, more promising player in Ivey and it just feels like a mistake for a team that isn’t in contention for anything and should be looking to stockpile as much young talent as possible. Murray should be a really good piece for them, but he doesn’t move the needle very much for me on that roster. Then in the second round, they practically stole a promising young guard by stopping the slide of Jaden Hardy, but did so to trade him to Dallas for two future second rounders. The Kings may have out done even themselves this draft. If Ivey ends up a bust, and Murray ends up being an All Star, we may look back in a few years and say they made the right decision, but nothing in the Kings’ recent draft history leads me to believe that will be the case. When you can’t find a way to make a player as talented as Jaden ivey fit into your team, something is clearly broken.
San Antonio Spurs: A
The Spurs had three first round picks and I personally viewed them as a team to watch in the draft this year. With their first pick, number 9, they selected Jeremy Sochan. While he may not have the physical gifts of a player like Jalen Duren], his versatility and defensive potential is very intriguing. Don;t bet against him developing and justifying the selection here. At 20 the Spurs grabbed Malaki Branham, who we had graded out 10 spots higher. The Spurs have burned a handful of draft picks the last few years on wing players, but Branham, who we compared to Kris Middleton, gives them one that can fill their need on the wing with his shooting stroke. And at 25, they selected Blake Wesley. Wesley was another tremendous pick and either one of their non-lottery picks could end up being stars and better than their 9th overall pick Sochan. The Spurs really had one of the best drafts of anyone with the high character and talent they brought in with all three players.
Utah Jazz: Incomplete
The Jazz did not have a pick in this draft.