2023 NBA Draft Grades

The NBA Draft has come and gone, and what a night it was! As expected, Victor Wembanyama went first overall, but the rest of the draft was full of intrigue. The final 57 picks were littered with surprises, and there's a lot to unpack.

Noah Rubin and Zak Hanshew grade every team's draft with a breakdown of the picks below!

Atlanta Hawks - B

Draft Picks
Kobe Bufkin (No. 15)
Mouhamed Gueye (No. 39 via trade with Charlotte)
Seth Lundy (No. 46)

Atlanta obviously has two point guards in Trae Young and Dejounte Murray, but they lack playmakers outside of those two. Many will look at the Bufkin pick as unneeded, but he’ll play an important role from day one, and he can play off the ball. Gueye is nearly 7’ tall and has a lot of athleticism and upside. He may not see minutes as a rookie, but he’s worth the swing in the second round. Lundy is an older prospect that can shoot at a high level. He is also unlikely to see minutes next season, but he’s not a bad depth piece for a second rounder.

Boston Celtics - B

Draft Picks
Jordan Walsh (No. 38 via trade with Sacramento)

Boston came into the draft with the 25th pick. They traded back a million times and ended up with only the 38th pick and a bunch of future seconds. Walsh is a player that could help make for the loss of Marcus Smart (a bit) with his defense. He has offensive limitations, so he may not be able to find a role on this deep team, but there wasn’t really anyone they could’ve taken that late that would be able to. Walsh has upside and can sit while he develops. Of course, Boston did the majority of their work before the draft by landing Kristaps Porzingis and picks in a trade while sending out Marcus Smart.

Brooklyn Nets - B+

Draft Picks
Noah Clowney (No. 21)
Dariq Whitehead (No. 22)
Jalen Wilson (No. 51)

The Nets made three very solid picks, getting two high upside guys in the first round, and an older, win-now player in the second. Clowney was the 99th ranked high school prospect according to 247 Sports, but he grinded his way into being a first round pick. He has already stated that he wants to win Defensive Player of the Year in the future, so he should fit in well alongside Nicolas Claxton. Whitehead was the No. 3 prospect according to 247 Sports, but foot injuries plummeted his draft stock. Still, he was worth the risk with how much upside he has. Wilson had an excellent season for Kansas, and he could contribute next season. Three picks that have a path for making a difference, though they could’ve added a point guard. Perhaps they’ll do that with a trade…

Charlotte Hornets - C+

Draft Picks
Brandon Miller (No. 2)
Nick Smith Jr. (No. 27)
James Nnaji (No. 31 via trade with Boston)
Amari Bailey (No. 41)

Sure, Miller “fit” better than Scoot Henderson, but taking Miller instead cost them some points here. Passing on a talent like Scoot is a hard mistake to come back from, though Miller is a talented player. However, when you use LaMelo Ball and Terry Rozier as your excuse for not drafting Scoot, why would you draft two more point guards? Smith Jr. is solid value, since he was considered a lottery talent before the season. Nnaji has upside as a center, and Bailey was a five-star prospect out of high school. Hornets fans should be happy with the talent, while fantasy managers will likely be upset about the landing spot for the final three guys.

Chicago Bulls - C+

Draft Picks
Julian Phillips (No. 35 via trade with Washington)

The Bulls didn’t have a pick coming into the draft, but they moved future seconds to nab Phillips, who was a five star prospect out of high school. During his lone season at Tennessee, Phillips wasn’t able to display much offense, but the defensive upside and athleticism are still there. He’s worth taking a swing on for them. Unfortunately, Chicago’s VP Arturas Karnisovas announced after the draft that they don’t expect Lonzo Ball to play next season. They have their work cut out for them, and they wasted an opportunity to take a swing on a point guard, even if Phillips has upside.

Cleveland Cavaliers - B-

Draft Picks
Emoni Bates (No. 49)

The Cavs only had one pick, and it was a late second. Their main issue last season was that they had four stars, and not much else. Their fifth player was never able to provide enough. So, they took a chance on Bates, who was once heralded as the next Kevin Durant. It probably won’t work out, but it’s a pretty good swing to take.

Dallas Mavericks - A-

Draft Picks
Dereck Lively II (No. 12 via trade with OKC)
Olivier-Maxence Prosper (No. 24 via trade with Sacramento)

Dallas could’ve taken Lively with the 10th pick, but they were able to trade back and rid themselves of Davis Bertans’ contract. Bertans was traded to Dallas at the 2021-22 season’s trade deadline, and he never did much for them. They still were able to add one of the best shot blockers in the draft, and he could start for them from day one. His competition at center currently is Richaun Holmes and JaVale McGee. They acquired Holmes along with the 24th pick using the trade exception they acquired during their first trade of the night. They made excellent moves and added two players that should play large roles next season.

Denver Nuggets - B+

Draft Picks
Julian Strawther (No. 29)
Jalen Pickett (No. 32)
Hunter Tyson (No. 37)

Calvin Booth did the opposite of what most teams do. They didn’t take any swings in the second round. They drafted older players that could be part of their rotation next season. Strawther and Tyson can both shoot at a high level and rebounder well, while Pickett showcased his scoring ability in college. None of these guys will make much of an impact in fantasy basketball, but they’ll be nice depth pieces for the defending champs.

Detroit Pistons - B+

Draft Picks
Ausar Thompson (No. 5)
Marcus Sasser (No. 25 via trade with Boston)

The Pistons had the worst record in the league, but they had poor luck in the lottery. Still, they ended up getting an incredibly talented player with the fifth pick. They were also able to trade up and get a guard that provided plenty of 3-pointers and steals in college. Thompson should end up starting alongside Cade Cunningham and Jaden Ivey that will feature three excellent playmakers. Sasser could end up being a solid piece of the bench for them, which would likely leave Killian Hayes as the odd man out. They didn’t do much to help out their frontcourt, which is where they likely need more help, but the players they added should contribute immediately.

Golden State Warriors - B-

Draft Picks
Brandin Podziemski (No. 19)
Trayce Jackson-Davis (No. 57)

The Warriors made headlines shortly before the draft by trading Jordan Poole and future picks to acquire Chris Paul, which was a relatively questionable move. Paul should help them win now, but the value felt off, since Golden State gave up the talented young player. Still, they were able to add Podziemski, who soared up draft boards and should be able to become a rotational piece for them. Jackson-Davis slid way too far and fell right into their lap. He’s an older prospect, but he should be able to make an impact from day one. Among players drafted this late, he has the best chance to be relevant in fantasy.

Houston Rockets - A

Draft Picks
Amen Thompson (No. 4)
Cam Whitmore (No. 20)

Thompson has been the expected pick for a long time, and he fills a huge need for them. He’s a true point guard and a freak athlete, and he should start from day one, which would move Kevin Porter Jr. to the bench. Thompson and Jalen Green will form one of the most athletic young backcourts ever. However, with their second pick, they were able to nab Whitmore, who was initially expected to go in the top five. Rumors suggest that Whitmore has a poor medical history, but he assured the media in his introductory press conference that he is healthy. So, as of now, it appears that Houston got a major, major steal. So much talent, and now it’s on Ime Udoka to make it all work.

Indiana Pacers - C+

Draft Picks
Jarace Walker (No. 8 via trade with Washington)
Ben Sheppard (No. 26)
Mojave King (No. 47)
Isaiah Wong (No. 55)

Indiana started the draft off well. They got the guy that everyone expected them to take, but they were still able to get Washington to trade some future seconds to move up a spot. They also added some talented players with their final three picks. Unfortunately, they don’t fit a need as much as other guys could have. They have so many guards and multiple centers, but they lack taller forwards. Walker should be able to start and play big minutes from day one for that reason. They added good players, but they really needed to add forward depth. There’s still time to do so, but the draft didn’t solve their issue there, unless Walker is going to do it all by himself.

Los Angeles Clippers - B-

Draft Picks
Kobe Brown (No. 30)
Jordan Miller (No. 48)

The Clippers added two talented, older forwards with their picks in this draft. They should be able to see minutes off the bench as rookies, which will help their depth issue. The team announced that Kawhi Leonard underwent a cleanup on his meniscus, but he is expected to be ready for training camp. However, with Kawhi and Paul George’s injury history, Brown and Miller could be asked to play big roles as rookies.

Los Angeles Lakers - B+

Draft Picks
Jalen Hood-Schifino (No. 17)
Maxwell Lewis (No. 40)

The Lakers only have a few players under contract currently, and both of their point guards from last year are unrestricted free agents. If D’Angelo Russell and/or Dennis Schroder doesn’t return, JHS will be a solid point guard option. However, he is also tall enough to play shooting guard if needed. They also were able to get Lewis, who broke out for Pepperdine last season. He may be more of a long-term option for them, but the Lakers can use as many of those as they can find. Both guys have the talent to be around the league for a long time, though JHS should be able to contribute earlier on.

Memphis Grizzlies - D+

Draft Picks
Gregory Jackson (No. 45)
Tarik Biberovic (No. 56)

Memphis had two picks in this draft, but neither one will help them much this season. Jackson is expected to be on a two-way deal, while Biberovic is a Euro stash. Jackson was a talented prospect, and he could be worth the swing, but they could’ve added at least one player to help them this season. They also could’ve packaged the picks to move up and get help. Either way, this felt like a waste of a draft for them.

Miami Heat - C

Draft Picks
Jaime Jaquez (No. 18)

JJJ (no, not THAT triple-J) was a bit of a reach by Miami here, but who are we to argue with the wisdom of Coach Spo? The man took his team to the championship with guys like Caleb Martin and Gabe Vincent playing huge minutes. At 22, Jaquez is a tried and true guard whose maturity and tenacity should fit in well with #HeatCulture. This was Miami's only pick of the draft. A solid, yet unexciting choice earns them a 'C'.

Milwaukee Bucks - C

Draft Picks
Andre Jackson Jr. (No. 36)
Chris Livingston (No. 58)

Milwaukee traded to get up to No. 36 and get an additional selection in the draft. The team took two quality defenders who are lacking quite a bit on offense. Both players will likely need some time to develop before contributing meaningfully in the NBA, but there's upside here.

Minnesota Timberwolves - A

Draft Picks
Leonard Miller (No. 33)
Jaylen Clark (No. 53)

The long and athletic Miller can get it done on defense, grab rebounds and hit outside shots. He's a first-round talent, and Minnesota snagging him at 33 was a slam dunk. Clark's Achilles injury from last season likely accounted for his slide down the draft board, but he's one of the best defenders in this class and could be a tremendous value for the Wolves at No. 53. The Wolves knocked it out of the park here.

New Orleans Pelicans - B

Draft Picks
Jordan Hawkins (No. 14)

The Pels made just one pick in this year's draft, and they selected the NCAA champ to close out the lottery. Hawkins averaged better than 16 points per game for the Huskies during their title run, and he can be a great addition to New Orleans' bench as a capable scorer and three-point shooter.

New York Knicks - N/A

The Knicks did not have any picks in the 2023 NBA Draft.

Oklahoma City Thunder - C

Draft Picks
Cason Wallace (No. 10, traded from Dallas for No. 12 pick and Davis Bertans)
Hunter Tyson (No. 37)
Keyontae Johnson (No. 50)

The Thunder took some chances on older prospects, and given how many future first-round picks the organization still holds, they can afford to swing for the fences. Wallace was a solid lottery selection who brings great defense to the table. He could see some minutes off the bench, but it's unlikely any of these three players make noticeable impacts in Year 1.

Orlando Magic, D+

Draft Picks
Anthony Black (No. 6)
Jett Howard (No. 11)

Orlando got a phenomenal point guard in Black with the No. 6 pick, but it's hard to see where he fits in on a team that's loaded at guard. But, as the saying goes, “draft for talent, not for fit.” Taking Howard at No. 11 was a ridiculous reach. Despite his abilities as a three-point shooter, there were better options on the board, and the Magic didn't need to draft another guard with this selection. Perhaps Orlando is looking for a homerun with the extra pick they got from Chicago in the Nikola Vučević-Wendell Carter trade?

Philadelphia 76ers - N/A

The 76ers did not have any picks in the 2023 NBA Draft.

Phoenix Suns - B+

Draft Picks
Toumani Camara (No. 52)

The Belgian forward is an exceptional defender and quality scorer who can impact the game in many ways. In case you hadn't heard, Phoenix is looking for depth, and Camara is a good candidate to provide some. The Suns got value out of their only selection in the draft.

Portland Trail Blazers - A+

Draft Picks
Scoot Henderson (No. 3)
Kris Murray (No. 23)
Rayan Rupert (No. 43)

When Scoot Henderson falls to No. 3, that's an automatic 'A+' for the Blazers. Portland lands a guy who would've been the No. 1 pick in nearly any other draft after the Hornets went with Brandon Miller at No. 2. Murray - twin brother of Kings' forward Keegan Murray - brings a similar three-and-D skillset that should be quite useful. Rupert is another three-and-D guy with plenty of upside, and both Murray and Rupert were great value picks. Perhaps the Blazers don't need to bring back Jerami Grant on a massive contract after all…

Sacramento Kings - C-

Draft Picks
Colby Jones (No. 34)
Jordan Walsh (No. 38)
Jalen Slawson (No. 54)

Sacramento targeted defense in this draft, and in two of their three picks, the Kings went with guys who played at least three collegiate seasons. There's something to be said for older prospects who found success in college, and the Kings can afford to develop these guys given how talented the roster is. Sacramento's only real position of need is at power forward, and nothing was done in this draft to address that need. The Kings targeted some upside players in the second round, but it's hard to envision any of these guys seeing meaningful minutes in Year 1 or in the near future.

San Antonio Spurs - A+

Draft Picks
Victor Wembanyama (No. 1)
Sidy Cissoko (No. 44)

It's hard not to give this draft an A+, even though anyone with ears and eyes could have made this pick without hesitation. Wemby is a generational talent and arguably the most hyped rookie of all time. A 7'5 prospect with handles, shooting, defense and playmaking abilities is unheard of, and this pick alone gives the Spurs the highest grade available. Cissoko is a great defender and playmaker who could develop nicely into a reliable role player for San Antonio. The Spurs made the most of their second-round selection.

Toronto Raptors - A

Draft Picks
Gradey Dick (No. 13)

A potential top-10 pick, Dick fell to the end of the lottery, and Toronto smartly added him at No. 13. The Raptors ranked 28th in three-point percentage in 2022-23, so landing one of the best long-range snipers in this class earns Toronto an 'A'. This was the team's only selection, and they used it to address an area of need.

Utah Jazz - A

Draft Picks
Taylor Hendricks (No. 9)
Keyonte George (No. 16)
Brice Sensabaugh (No. 28)

With its first pick, Utah landed a versatile defender with plenty of upside on offense. They kicked off their draft on a high note, but that was just the beginning of the fun. Next up, the team landed a lottery talent in George. The Baylor product is a solid, two-way player who can make an impact with his defense and three-point shooting, both of which will be appreciated on this squad. The Jazz were reportedly targeting Sensabaugh in the draft, and they were able to get their guy - a big bodied player who can shoot from anywhere on the court. All three of these guys could be fantasy relevant this season. Utah upgraded on offense and defense without reaching on any of their three selections. A job well done.

Washington Wizards - B-

Draft Picks
Bilal Coulibaly (No. 7)
Tristan Vukcevic (No. 42)

Washington is in full rebuild mode, as evidenced by their trades of Bradley Beal, Kristaps Porzingis and Chris Paul over the last few days. Adding Coulibaly at No.7 was a reach, especially since Washington had to trade future picks to move up one spot when he likely would have been available at No. 8. The French forward has tremendous upside as a defender, but he's still a work in progress on offense. Vukcevic is young and raw, but there's certainly upside for a guy who started playing professionally overseas when he was 17. These guys won't help Washington win now, but the Wizards are looking for upside, and they have plenty of time for development. There were better options at No. 7, but this was a fine draft given what the team hopes to accomplish. Neither player has any fantasy upside in 2023-24.