Grading the 2013 NBA draft, team by team

The much-maligned 2013 NBA draft was on Thursday evening, and though we saw some surprises and some slip-ups, by and large it was an entertaining night out.

Now to dig into the really-real, and judge each team on its selections. Click the jump for more.

Atlanta Hawks

Grade: B+

Haul: Lucas Nogueira, Dennis Schroeder, Mike Muscala, Raul Neto.

This is going to be a re-occurring theme of this review, and we’re just going to have to live with it as we judge teams for using guaranteed contracts to secure iffy players.

THIS WAS NOT A GOOD DRAFT. Even though the Atlanta Hawks may go for broke in their attempts to sign either Dwight Howard or Chris Paul, gutting the roster along the way, there was not much to be had in terms of 2013-14 contributors outside of the lottery. Still, the Hawks managed to score Lucas Nogueira (16th overall) and Dennis Schroeder (17) in the middling stages. They pulled what could be a serviceable defensive big in Nogueria out, and Schroeder appears to have the sort of potential you’d align with a high-lottery level point guard. Muscala might be able to latch on as a fourth big, and Neto won’t be in a Hawks uniform for a while.


Boston Celtics

Grade: B

Haul: Kelly Olynyk, Cotton Iverson.

I’m not a huge fan of Olynyk, but he can play at this level and will be able to contribute right away due to his age (22) and jump shooting acumen. Pulling a front court contributor out of the low lottery is to be commended. Iverson seems like the sort of tough guy that won’t be able to make it out of October and into November with his new club, though he’ll certainly have his chances with Boston rebuilding so harshly.

This grade has nothing to do with the trade Boston agreed to on Thursday, it should be noted.


Charlotte Bobcats

Grade: D

Haul: Cody Zeller.

I want Cody Zeller’s game to translate to the pros, badly, mainly because I feel for whatever Charlotte Bobcats fans are left. I understand that he’s super athletic when it comes from running from baseline to baseline, but in the NBA just about every big-minute big man can run fluidly from baseline to baseline. It’s not as if Zeller has to outrun Bob Lanier, here. It’s the quickness in which Zeller gets into his (very good) hops that worries me. And with Ben McLemore and Nerlens Noel (and the possibility for a trade with Noel) still available at fourth overall, this one is hard to swallow.

This grade has nothing to do with Michael Jordan’s drafting history oh wait yes it totally does.


Chicago Bulls

Grade: B-

Haul: Tony Snell, Erik Murphy

Via trade or great record, the Bulls have been drafting near the end of the first round for so long that you forget that Snell comes to a luxury tax-fearing team via the 20th pick. In other years the skinny shooter would probably rank towards the end of the first round, but that’s just how this draft goes. His rebounding and steal marks give me pause, but as a long, lanky shooter and hoped-for defender, his potential intrigues. As a Bulls fans who has been cool on a few of their picks over the years, it truly does.

Erik Murphy is a stretch four. I have never seen an episode of ‘Entourage’ so I don’t get all of your jokes.


Cleveland Cavaliers

Grade: A-

Haul: Anthony Bennett, Sergey Karasev, Carrick Felix.

Bennett will contribute right away. He will use his long arms and good touch to immediately set to scoring, putting up great per-minute numbers, as some sort of (and this isn’t a shot) David Lee and Ike Diogu combo. I understand that you don’t draft for need, but I still would have liked to see the Cavs take a chance on Noel while working with their slow and smart rebuilding plan, and while I understand you have to take the best player available in the lottery, the presence of the “pretty good, he’s aiight” Tristan Thompson still has to be considered.

Will Bennett end up being the best player in this draft? Right now, I don’t believe so, because defense matters to me (and the Cavaliers were 27th in defense last year). Because of his overall gifts, though, he’s not far off even in these early stages, and that’s all you can ask for in the crapshoot that was the 2013 NBA draft. Meanwhile,

Karasev is a fine scorer to find waiting on your doorstep with the 19th pick.


Dallas Mavericks

Grade: B

Haul: Shane Larkin, Ricky Ledo.

Nothing against Larkin or the idea of grabbing him 18th overall, but will the $1.5 million he’ll make next year prevent the Mavericks from being able to sign off on a maximum contract this summer? Nah, probably not – this team isn’t getting Dwight Howard anyway, even if he does leave Los Angeles. Plus, the Houston Rockets had the 18th pick last year, and that didn’t stop them from dealing for James Harden. Larkin’s size will be an issue, he’s 5-10 and no Tim Hardaway-in-waiting, but he can play at this level.

Ledo is a raw talent, but at just 20 years of age and at a second rounder’s price, a fantastic flier (in more ways than one) that Dallas just took a slim chance on.


Denver Nuggets

Grade: C-

Haul: Erick Green, Joffrey Lauvergne.

This was a terrible draft, so the Nuggets (who are owned by the billionaire that runs Wal-Mart) decided to make a cash grab for its first round pick, dealing Rudy Gobert to Utah for money and a second rounder. Green is a 6-4 college scorer that may be able to shoot his way onto the roster, while Lauvergne probably isn’t long for his draft rights.


Detroit Pistons

Grade: B-

Haul: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Tony Mitchell, Peyton Siva.

Even selecting eighth overall, the Pistons weren’t going to find an earth-shaker in this draft, and I don’t think Caldwell-Pope is an earth-shaker. His rebounding rates at Georgia and shooting acumen bode well for a nice NBA transition, though I worry slightly about his height.

Mitchell is a banger who could forge out a career as a fourth big man, while Siva may find it tougher to contribute.


Golden State Warriors

Grade: C

Haul: Nemanja Nedovic

This is an interesting one. The Warriors traded up and then back down to have perhaps the least desirable spot on the board – the 30th pick in a terrible draft. The last pick of the first round, if he signs, will receive a guaranteed deal, and while I’m reading that many are high on Nedovic, he’s also an in-between guard, a 6-3 scorer that is already 22.

It’s not our money to spend, though, and we’re guessing that the owners of top picks in the second round were desperately clinging onto their assets which made it harder for the Warriors to get their guy in the second round.


Houston Rockets

Grade: A

Haul: Isaiah Canaan.

The Houston Rockets did not want to add salary in their chase down of Dwight Howard, and succeeded on staying out of the first round and only taking a flyer on Canaan in the second. At Murray State Canaan developed into a second-team All-American, averaging nearly 22 points a game in his senior year, even though his three-point percentage dropped. If he can regain the touch that saw him shoot well into the 40 percent mark in his first three seasons, the Rockets may have just grabbed a solid bench scorer for the price of a second rounder.


Indiana Pacers

Grade: D

Haul: Solomon Hill.

At least he’s not Mason Plumlee, I guess.

Hill is already at that NBA-average status, coming in at 6-6 and 220 pounds, but are you sure this isn’t someone you could have traded down to grab in the second round? Every report I’ve read lauds Hill’s maturity and team-first sensibility, always a plus, but those are useless in the NBA unless you combine them with pro-level skill. Hill’s athleticism doesn’t seem to set him apart, though.

Plenty of these types have failed with these attributes – where have you gone, Chris Carrawell? – but enough have succeeded to hold out hope. After the Plumlee experiment, though, we’re dubious.


Los Angeles Clippers

Grade: B+

Haul: Reggie Bullock.

The Clippers were able to draft for need, secure a prospect that can contribute that need, and do it all on a lower-rung NBA rookie first round salary. At 6-7, Bullock is an outside shooter and little else. He rarely took free throws at the NCAA level and refused to drive, but he’s also joining a Clipper team that won’t be asking him to use those young legs to grab freebies. Bullock knows how to play off the ball for a winning program, and it’s weird to write that this hallmark fits the Los Angeles Clippers (?) expertly. Grabbing a young James Jones type is excellent value, here.


Los Angeles Lakers

Grade: B

Haul: Ryan Kelly.

It’s always fascinating to see how a unique set of skills will translate to the pro level, and this Duke second rounder is certainly skilled. Kelly hit over 40 percent of his three-pointers in his final year with the Blue Devils, a season that was cut short by a sprained foot. He’s an excellent passer with great footwork, but his athleticism and strength are a concern.

We could have another Boris Diaw, or another Brian Cook on our hands here. And the Brian Cook suggestion isn’t a dig – if you can get some contributions from a pick this low, you’ve done well.


Memphis Grizzlies

Grade: A

Haul: Jamaal Franklin, Janis Timma

This grade is basically only for the inclusion of Franklin, who most had pegged as a strong first round talent, and yet the Grizzlies were able to snatch him up at 41. Franklin comes with an NBA-ready body as a 6-5 off guard, and a defensive pedigree. His jump shot is a concern, he was a below average three-point shooter at San Diego State and he’ll come to camp with a hitch in his release. Still, the dude brings the D.

The guy has been known to overplay defensively, but that’s a good hustle point and something that can be helped on a team featuring Marc Gasol down low. Plus, if re-signed, Franklin will have Tony Allen to grit, grind, and learn after.


Miami Heat

Grade: B

Haul: James Ennis.

The Heat did well not to add to their luxury tax woes, and traded out of the first round. At 50 overall they took a flier on a prospect in Ennis who has just one year of D-1 ball to his name, but one that impressed at two pre-draft camps.

He’s a long dunker and athlete that, if he does make the squad, could remind Heat fans of Mark Strickland. Not a famous name, but an NBA contributor with the 50th pick would be a huge win.


Milwaukee Bucks

Grade: B

Haul: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Nate Wolters.

The Bucks are infamous for taking the safe route when it comes to coaches, trades, and free agency. And yet general manager John Hammond has never been shy to go for the strange ones in the draft – going after projects like Brandon Jennings and Larry Sanders.

Antetokounmpo (who I will probably nickname “CTRL-C” at some point during his rookie season) is a massive project with very little history playing against strong competition, but one that features a fantastic NBA skill curve and impressive wingspan. He could go Scottie Pippen, he could go Thabo Sefolosha, or he could watch as the Bucks pass on picking up his team option in 2015. The range is that wide.

Wolters is a shooter whose footspeed will have to improve, but he does appear to have minutes-earning skills at this level.


Minnesota Timberwolves

Grade: C+

Haul: Shabazz Muhammad, Gorgui Dieng, Lorenzo Brow, Bojan Dubljevic.

First, the rosy bits.

If Timberwolves fans had been told last January that their season on the rocks would result in Shabazz Muhammad, they’d be over the moon. They may have stayed in that particular position even after learning about Muhammad’s, um, “advanced age.” There are all sorts of character issues that seem expertly created to encourage NCAA players to fail, things that could go away once the money, clarity, and certainty sets in at the pro level.

Or, Shabazz could screw it all up. His call. Still, if the Wolves got a mini-Cedric Ceballos with the 14th pick in a crummy draft, they should be happy. Some guys just play better, and live better, in the pros.

I’m less enthused about Dieng, who is already 23 and still a project that seems like he needs a few years. Those are the sort of players you pick in the second round, because learning on the company’s dime at age 23, 24, and 25 isn’t ideal.

Brow reminds me of Jeryl Sasser, which I know is of no help to most of you.


New Orleans Pelicans

Grade: D

Haul: Pierre Jackson

I love Jrue Holiday’s game, I’m going to love the rest of his 20s (he’s still only 23), I like his salary (four years and around $40 million, starting next year), and I dig his attitude. Holiday had to work under Doug Collins’ wearying tutelage for years, and developed into an All-Star.

I also understand that a backcourt combo of Holiday and Grievis Vasquez, with Eric Gordon possibly still around, can do some damage despite its size. Giving up both Nerlens Noel and a first round pick in 2014 is too much for Holiday, though.

It’s that pick, in what is being called a very good 2014 draft, that sets me over the top. On top of that top is the Gordon situation – teams know New Orleans is going to attempt to rid itself of the unhappy, low-efficiency, often injured tweener guard, and what teams are going to line up to take the final three years and over $44.5 million contract off of NOLA’s hands?

It’s a win-now move, and this team will be exciting to watch. Not at the cost of two lottery picks, though.


New York Knicks

Grade: C+

Haul: Tim Hardaway Jr.

The Knicks fans applauded this move because, hey, there’s a name! There’s not much to cheer about on the NBA level when it comes to Hardaway Jr., though. The guy is clearly a worker and has a head on his shoulders – growing up as the much-watched son of an NBA All-Star will do that to a young man – but he’s not yet a lights-out enough shooter to make up for the fact that his game from inside the arc is rather vanilla.

Hardaway Jr. is already a pro’s pro before signing his first professional contract. Dropping a first round salary on the guy seems like a stretch to me, but I suppose that’s just a function of this 2013 draft.


Oklahoma City Thunder

Grade: B+

Haul: Steven Adams, Andre Roberson, Alex Abrines, Grant Jerrett.

It’s time to rank this deal irrespective of how OKC secured the Adams pick, in light of the James Harden deal. The Thunder owners decided to reward their loyal fans for years of sellouts by declining to pay the luxury tax, and there’s only so much patience a GM can have before deciding to initial an October deal instead of a June decision. I don’t mind Sam Presti jumping the gun.

His reward is a defensive-minded big man who should be able to stay on the floor, one that comes with good hops and room to grow. Adams doesn’t look like the typical late-lottery 7-footer to me, though many have been burned by that statement before.

Rebounds in college translate better to both that particular stat in the NBA, and NBA-level athleticism. Nobody on this board rebounds better than Roberson, and the Thunder scooped him up with a late pick. Abrines has the potential to be a weird, ball-dominating scorer off a team’s bench, while Jerrett could make the team if his jumper sticks.


Orlando Magic

Grade: A

Haul: Victor Oladipo, Romer Osby.

Nobody – from scouts to players to jealous teams to draft analysts – seems to have a cross word to say about Oladipo, as the Indiana product that plays as well off the ball as he does while dominating it. At first I had him ranked as a sort of Jason Richardson-type, but it appears as if his handle far outpaces the sort of in-between game Richardson came into the NBA with in 2001, and by all accounts Victor appears to be the sort of guy you want in your locker room.

Searches haven’t been as kind to Osby, but we can confirm that he is a human being.


Philadelphia 76ers

Grade: A+

Haul: Nerlens Noel, Michael Carter-Williams, Arsalan Kazemi.

Philadelphia wasn’t going to be doing much of anything this year, they didn’t do much of anything last year, and unless you count a fluke run to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semis in 2012 as “something,” they haven’t done much despite making the playoffs with a mediocre outlook in previous seasons.

It’s true that Jrue Holiday, at age 23, was young enough to be a factor in his prime when the 76ers finally turned the corner on a rebuilding project, but new GM Sam Hinkie wanted to start things his way, with his guys. And he’s grabbing Noel, the once-thought-of top overall pick and total rebuilding project, along with a long and lanky guard in Michael Carter-Williams (who sounds like he should be the third lead on a procedural drama). And Kazemi is a beast of a rebounder who should make the team.

Meanwhile, the team will have two lottery selections (thanks to New Orleans weirdly sending over their first round pick) in next year’s far more impressive draft.

All it cost Philadelphia was Andre Iguodala, a year of paying for Andrew Bynum’s rehab, and Jrue Holiday. Philadelphia will stink next year, but they’ll finally be stinking with a front office worth getting behind.


Phoenix Suns

Grade: B

Haul: Alex Len, Archie Goodwin, Alex Oriakhi.

New Suns GM Ryan McDonough comes very highly spoken of, so it was a bit of a surprise to see him gamble on a center in Len that seems to have all the hallmarks that tend to disappoint in the end – possible issues with quickness, still-developing game, and a minor stress fracture injury.

Len has skills and size, and at fourth overall it proved too tough for McDonough to overlook, and we understand that even with Nerlens Noel still on the board. I get it, I hope it works, and I hope my grade looks too pessimistic at some point in Len’s career.

McDonough was smart to hop on Goodwin after a disappointing year at Kentucky, but the dude was thought to be a beast coming out of high school, and his game looks like it could explode on the NBA level.


Portland Trail Blazers

Grade: B

Haul: C.J. McCollum, Allen Crabbe, Jeff Withey, Marko Todorovic.

The late lottery, and poor draft, allows team to draft for need, and it’s hard to not like McCollum working well off the ball with Damian Lillard and Wes Matthews in Portland. McCollum seems … brave to me, and I like that. He should be a fun watch.

Meanwhile, in the draft’s catbird seat at 31 in the second round, the Blazers grabbed Crabbe, a shooter and little else that PDX will happily employ as a shooter and, um, little else. Withey, meanwhile, could provide defensive depth if he makes the team. Marko Todorovic is a stash pick that everyone seems to agree with.

The Blazers are going plucky. Kinda dig that.


Sacramento Kings

Grade: A

Haul: Ben McLemore, Ray McCallum.

Bringing in a player like McLemore, with whispers about his character issues, would have seemed like a massive whiff for the Kings in their past, especially with Tyreke Evans still hanging around on the roster. The Kings have a new daddy in town, though, a discipline daddy that could make a beast out of perhaps the top talent in this year’s draft.

New GM Pete D’Alessandro and coach Mike Malone don’t really like to mess about, and McLemore will do well to thrive in front of a rabid fan base that is happy just to have a team still around.

McCallum looks like camp fodder, but you should always take a chance on anyone who can run the point and chew gum at the same time.


San Antonio Spurs

Grade B+

Haul: Livio Jean-Charles, DeShaun Thomas.

As it always is with the Spurs the rosy glow of their past draft successes plays a part in the curve, but every clip we see of Livio Jean-Charles looks like a clip we want to see over and over again once he’s filled out, and against NBA competition.

He’s a rangy player with NBA length and what appears to be fantastic touch and timing. You can put the Euro jokes aside with this one, it’s not like the Spurs have a habit of drafting French guys (that would be two picks in 12 years’ worth of drafts), but the guidance of Tony Parker won’t hurt.

Thomas is a scorer, full stop, and well worth taking a second round flier on.


Toronto Raptors

Grade: Incomplete

Haul: No players selected.

The Raptors sat out a terrible draft and a chance at drafting Stephen Adams in the late lottery in order to deal for Kyle Lowry. Had Lowry had a better team to play for, we’d call that a win for Toronto. As it stands now? We’ll see. Lowry still has to work on his attitude, and we still have to see what sort of roster new Raps GM Masai Ujiri fields for 2013-14 and beyond.


Utah Jazz

Grade: B+

Haul: Trey Burke, Rudy Gobert.

This is such a Utah Jazz-sort of pick, but in the “everyone’s tied for first!”-glow of summer, I love it. The Jazz traded up and picked Burke because of his leadership qualities over C.J. McCollum, and though some fear Burke’s upside won’t rival his heights at Michigan, we don’t mind. The Jazz badly need someone to move bodies around and set up plays, and Burke should be that guy. At worst, he’ll be the trusted backup to That Guy if the Jazz pull a deal for a prominent point guard.

Using a first round pick on Gobert seems like a reach, but this man’s incredible reach could turn him into a rim protector nonpareil for years to come. He’s raw, but so long that the Jazz just couldn’t say “no” after years of watching Enes Kanter, Al Jefferson, and Paul Millsap’s T-Rex arms flail away.


Washington Wizards

Grade: A

Haul: Otto Porter, Glen Rice Jr.

It’s hard not to love this draft for Washington. The team gets a ready-made, perhaps David West-type in Porter with a good attitude and local (Georgetown) pedigree. Porter is a former small forward, and he played off the ball quite a bit in Georgetown’s offense, so that should help him adapt to an NBA game that is growing more and more complicated in terms of movement and misdirection by the season.

Rice Jr. is exactly the sort of guy you want taking chances at the outset of a second quarter with the starters resting. An excellent pick for the second round, as he should make the team and contribute in spurts.


Thank you for reading.