San Antonio Spurs: A+

1. Victor Wembanyama, France
44. Sidy Cissoko, G League

There isn’t a ton more to say about the Spurs’ draft. There’s a generational prospect available, draft him and let the chips fall where they may with regard to his long term health. There’s no better place in the league for a bigman to land in order to reach their ceiling, so the stars have aligned here for greatness. Therefore they get an A+. He will slide right in to the lineup as the team’s best player. Victor was load managed on a team that played just one game a week, and certainly will be with the Spurs this year. San Antonio then took a swing on a young, promising wing player in the second round. Cissoko has a lot of growing to do as a player, but the Spurs are not expected to contend right away, so they can afford to opt for upside here. Victor’s countryman is a jack of all trades type with some defensive tenacity. Gregg Popovich is a coach that should be able to get the most out of his versatility.

Dallas Mavericks: B

Richaun Holmes
12. Dereck Lively III, Duke
24. Olivier-Maxence Prosper, Marquette

I like Dereck Lively III, especially for this roster. However, Dallas gets dinged hard here for their asset management. They blasphemously punted on the playoffs to keep their pick, and then turn around and traded down two spots with OKC. They were able to offload the contract of Davis Bertans though, so that will help the team’s bottom line. As for Lively, he will supply them some rim protection on their front line and still have the mobility to step out and defend the pick and roll. It’s not a sure fire pick however, as Lively spent the first half of last season looking like he had never played basketball before, and despite his reputation as a stretch big coming out of high school, he didn’t show much of that in college. This is a pick for need. They also made a trade with Sacramento to bring in Richaun Holmes and Olivier Maxence-Prosper. Prosper is an older, late riser and seems like it was a pick designed to fill the role vacated by Dorian Finney-Smith. Ultimately, Dallas did their best to address their frontline tonight. We just question the targets they made.

Denver Nuggets: A-

29. Julian Strawther, Gonzaga
32. Jalen Pickett, Penn St.
37. Hunter Tyson, Clemson

Good teams know who they are. Denver plays through Nikola Jokic, and any looks their young guys will get are going to come off of plays going through their playmaking bigman. Denver wanted to make sure they were able to add pieces this offseason, so they made some moves to acquire some late first/ early second round picks. And they used those picks on players that will be very comfortable playing off of Jokic. Strawther is a great cutter and will prove to be a great pick at 25. And Tyson and with Strather are both great spot up guys. Allowing them to catch and shoot off of the Nuggets’ existing playmakers will allow them to play a role immediately for the reigning champs. Meanwhile, Pickett appears to be their attempt to replace Bruce Brown. He’s a bully ball guard that can really score from the perimeter but has some athletic limitations. Getting a player that hopefully will buy into his role could lead to the team getting the best out of him. Individually, none of these players stand out as must have prospects, but they fit perfectly into what Denver wants and needs on their roster, so the Nuggets were able to maximize the value of their picks. GM Calvin Booth is consistently proving to be one of the top GMs in the league.

Golden State Warriors: B-

Chris Paul
19. Brandon Podziemski, Santa Clara
57. Trayce Jackson-Davis, Indiana

Golden State moved on from Jordan Poole’s contract  by surprisingly bringing in the future Hall-of-Famer, Chris Paul, a deal that seemed a bit of a head scratcher, but makes more sense when framed with the pending CBA agreement. Poole could lead the league in scoring next year, but he became a net negative in a Warrior uniform. Draymond can now re-sign and the team will hope that this will clear the chemistry issues that loomed over the team over the past season. The trade was probably necessary in order to resign Draymond, who had opted out. In terms of the draft, Podziemski optimistically gives them a Donte DiVincenzo replacement that can come off the bench and make plays for them. Podziemski is a shooter that should fit in within the Golden State offense. While he’s painfully slow for NBA guard standards, his feel for the game and high skill level gives him a chance to fulfill expectations. The Warriors are said to have him graded out as high as 11th overall. The addition of Trayce Jackson Davis, a player we believed had first round talent at 57, enhances their draft grade. He has signed a three year deal with the team, giving them a versatile, athletic, two way player and some much needed depth with good value, in the frontcourt.

Houston Rockets: A

4. Amen Thompson, Overtime Elite
20. Cam Whitmore, Villanova

I really like Houston’s draft. While I’m not a huge fan of the Thompsons, Amen was the consensus 4th best player in this draft and Houston was able to grab him at that spot. He’s got good size and playmaking skills, and if he can develop his shot, he should be a major player for them. If not, well, he can still use his size and playmaking ability to carve out a role on this roster. Grabbing Cam Whitmore at 20 may be a steal. His interviews combined with some medical red flags caused him to slide all the way to 20. So for Houston to come away with two players that highly regarded in this class is a big positive for them and their future.

Los Angeles Clippers: C

30. Kobe Brown, Missouri
48. Jordan Miller, Miami

The Clippers got some good players in Brown and Miller. While Kobe Brown has some intriguing versatility, he was graded out by many scouts in the 40-50 range, So by most accounts this was a major reach. Time will tell if he can live up to the draft position. They need pieces to plug in around Kawhi Leonard and Paul George since they kept the team together, and Brown has a diverse skill set that should allow him to carve out a role, but he is at his best with the ball in his hands, and he’ll now be playing off of his teammates more than he’s accustomed to. Miller is another older player who has some potential as a 3 and D guy, but ultimately is a low ceiling player that they are likely just hoping will be a role player for them.

Los Angeles Lakers: A-

17. Jalen Hood-Schfino, Indiana
40. Maxwell Lewis, Pepperdine

I know the Lakers wanted to move their first round pick, but they ended up getting excellent value with both of their picks. Hood-Schfino is a long guard that is streaky, but will benefit from being able to settle into a low usage role. He can play alongside their existing players and fits well with LeBron James and Anthony Davis. He is a solid pick that should pay dividends for them. In the second round they selected Maxwell Lewis, who could have easily been selected at the end of the first round. Maturity came into play in the interview process, but it’s clear that the talent is there. He’s a guy that can come in and score the basketball.

Memphis Grizzlies: B

Marcus Smart
45. GG Jackson, South Carolina
56. Tarik Biberovic, Bosnia & Herzegovina

The Grizzlies made waves before the draft started by acquiring Marcus Smart in a deal with Boston and Washington. Smart is an excellent fit in Memphis as someone that can play high level defense like they love, and he can play the point or slide over and play beside Ja Morant. They paid a premium for him though, as they had to offer up multiple first rounders, not to mention the cap hit. But if the Grizz are as good as they expect to be, those will be late draft picks anyway. This trade also helps them to absorb the 25 game Ja suspension without falling far in the standings. For a team in need of one, Smart offers a culture change type of personality. Ultimately, I think it’s probably a net positive for Memphis. In the draft they grabbed GG Jackson out of South Carolina in the second round. He’s a big bodied forward who has a lot of room to grow as a player. He will need time, but was as big of an upside pick as they could have made here. Biberovic is a shooter, but was not expected to be taken and is considered by most Internationals a long shot to ever play in the NBA.

Minnesota Timberwolves: B-

33. Leonard Miller, G League Ignite
53. Jaylen Clark, UCLA

I hate to be too hard on Minnesota, because it’s hard to have a good draft when you don’t have a first round pick. Leonard Miller is an interesting pick early in the second. He’s a raw, lanky forward who is very offensively oriented and will need to find when and where to attack on that end. He is a player that may be a few years away from making any major contributions. Clark, meanwhile, is the opposite in that he is all about defense and while he isn’t likely to develop all that much, he can come in right away and play a bit role as a wing stopper. Coming off an achilles injury, he’ll have to get back into playing shape this summer. He’s very disruptive and may make the opening day roster for that reason alone.

New Orleans Pelicans: B

14. Jordan Hawkins, UConn

Hawkins is one of the better shooters in the draft and should be able to contribute to some degree very early on in his career. However, his fit on this roster is a bit questionable. His fit next to CJ McCollum could leave the Pels extremely vulnerable on defense, and there were better fits still on the board at this point. He’s not a bad player by any means and will likely carve out a role, but he’s got a questionable ceiling on this roster.

Oklahoma City Thunder: A-

10. Cason Wallace, Kentucky
50. Keyontae Johnson, Kansas St.

As they’re making an annual custom of making use of their stockpile of picks, the thunder made a swap with Dallas to ensure they ended up with their guy in Cason Wallace. Frenchman Bilal Coulabaly was their original target, but ultimately Washington was able to use their 8th pick and two seconds to move up for him. He’s not much of a creater, as his offense comes mainly from playing off of his teammates, and OKC already has two guards who excel at creating in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddey who can set him up for catch and shoot opportunities. Meanwhile, it’s his defense that will get him on the court early and often. Wallace, in the Marcus Smart mold, gives them a look they don’t currently have, and should be a solid pickup for a team that is looking to start contending next year when they get Chet Holmgren back as well. They also grabbed Keyontae Johnson at 50. He’s another defensive minded player and while he doesn’t have a dynamic offensive game, he does a lot of little things that help a team win.

Phoenix Suns: B

Brad Beal
52. Toumari Camara, Dayton

It was actually prior to the draft, but you can’t assess the Suns’ draft without taking into account that they traded for Brad Beal. With the pick they had remaining, they took Toumari Camara, who seems to have developed a better outside shot recently.  Beal is an awesome talent, but the Suns are still in a position where they lack the depth you generally expect from elite teams. Defending a lineup of Booker, Beal, and Durant will be a nightmare, but who will play alongside them? They fought the urge to trade Deandre Ayton, but this is a team that still has some work to do. Unless some players come their way on the cheap to surpisingly fill out their depth, it’s hard to imagine the Suns surviving in the playoffs as the three stars duplicate one another’s strengths too much.

Portland Trailblazers: A

3. Scoot Henderson, G League Ignite
23. Kris Murray, Iowa
43. Rayan Rupert, France

Portland had an easy decision at 3, making the prudent decision to keep the pick. In a draft with three locks, they hit a mini jackpot on lottery night. Scoot Henderson is a player with a chance to be special, and Portland’s future looks bright once again. With the team loyalty he has built, Dame Lillard holds the cards on whether he stays or goes, and figures to have a couple more years of elite play left in him to push for a title. In a small market, shipping Lillard out without his consent would send the wrong message to future star players about their commitment to loyalty. So they are likely to wait until Lillard decides a change is good for all parties. But for now, they have an incredibly dynamic backcourt with Scoot, Dame, and Anfernee Simons. At 23, they added Kris Murray, who projects as a forward that can stretch the floor with his shooting ability and mix in some one and two dribble pull ups. Those two players should have roles on this roster from day one. Rupert may need some time to develop, but he was seen as a first round talent on potential, so it’s a worthwhile pick for the Blazers at 43.

Sacramento Kings: B-

34. Colby Jones, Xavier
54. Jalen Slawson, Furman

The Kings didn’t have the flashiest draft, but they cleared some cap space and grabbed a couple players that they hope will continue to develop. Jones is an analytics darling but was lower on our rankings than most, and really didn’t pop from an athletic standpoint. He will add depth in the backcourt in Sacramento behind DeAaron Fox, Davion Mitchell, and Kevin Huerter. Slawson is a great pick where they landed him and gives the team a versatile jack of all trades type with passing, defense and some hidden athleticism. The NBA no longer discriminates against the over 22 guys and a number of guys like Slawson (23) are benefiting. He developed late and Sacramento will hope the upward trend continues for the forward out of Furman.

Utah Jazz: A-

9. Taylor Hendericks, Central Florida
16. Keyonte George, Baylor
28. Brice Sensabaugh, Ohio State

Hendericks was fourth on our big board and we see this as a home run pick where they got him at 9. He joins Lauri Markannen and Walker Kessler as their young core going forward. Hendricks’ ability to defend and hit threes gives him a unique skillset to develop. With their next two picks they added Keyonte George and Brice Sensabaugh, two offensively skilled guys with upside. Both have problems with taking good shots, and it’s hard to win with two young players both taking bad shots. But the Jazz are still in rebouild mode, so these young players George and Sensabaugh are both players that should get opportunities. They would both arguably benefit being on a veteren team with less opportunity but more structure and having vets around them teaching them how to play winning NBA basketball.


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