With trades as far as the eye can see, the NBA Draft never lacks in intrigue.
That certainly was the case at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center 2018, with several teams moving about in both rounds.
There’s a lot to process after Thursday’s pair of rounds, so let’s hand out draft grades for all 30 teams.
Atlanta Hawks: B
No. 5 — Trae Young, PG, Oklahoma (acquired along with future first-round pick in exchange for Luka Doncic, who Atlanta selected at No. 3)
No. 19 — Kevin Huerter, SG, Maryland
No. 30 — Omari Spellman, PF, Villanova
The Hawks made their guard corps a point of emphasis in the draft, and they got two unique players in the process. While Young has plenty of upside, he has shown that when matched up with a solid defender he can struggle to create his own chances. But in adding Huerter, Atlanta got a player who can space the floor and is a tremendous catch-and-shoot guard.
Boston Celtics: B+
No. 27 — Robert Williams III, PF, Texas A&M
The Celtics filled their most exposed area, the front court, with a big man who boasts good size and athleticism. Even for his size, Williams moves well and will be a good paint presence in the NBA. The 20-year-old’s competitiveness reportedly has been questioned by some and caused his draft stock to fall, but he still has been described as a lottery-level talent if he reaches his potential. The Celtics certainly drafted with defense in mind.
Brooklyn Nets: C
No. 29 — Dzanan Musa, F, Bosnia and Herzegovina
No. 40 — Rodions Kurucs, PF, FC Barcelona (Spain)
No. 45 — Hamidou Diallo, SG, Kentucky
The Nets haven’t done themselves many favors by shipping away draft picks time and time again, and it appears they took a leap of faith by selecting a European player in Musa with their highest selection. Brooklyn is in a rebuild, so the team can afford to wait and see a bit, but it doesn’t appear they did much to help themselves now.
Charlotte Hornets: B
No. 12 — Miles Bridges, SF, Michigan State (acquired along with two future second-round picks for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who Charlotte selected at No. 11)
No. 34 — Devonte Graham, PG, Kansas (acquired from Hawks in exchange for two future second-round picks)
No. 55 — Arnoldas Kulboka, SF, Lithuania
Mitch Kupchak addressed some needs by acquiring an exciting player in Bridges. Graham has shown plenty of promise and has a good point guard to learn from in Kemba Walker.
Chicago Bulls: A-
No. 7 — Wendell Carter Jr., C, Duke
No. 22 — Chandler Hutchison, SG, Boise State
We love what the Bulls did. Lauri Markkanen was one of the NBA’s most exciting rookies last season, and the Bulls are making their frontcourt all the more dangerous with Carter. And in selecting Hutchison, they’re showing they want to roll with guys they think can play right away and won’t be projects.
Cleveland Cavaliers: A-
No. 8 — Collin Sexton, PG, Alabama
Cleveland had some pretty glaring issues exposed throughout the season, even into the NBA Finals, among them a lack of versatility on their roster and horrid defense. The Cavs managed to bolster up their backcourt defense with Sexton, who also runs a great game offensively from the point.
Dallas Mavericks: B+
No. 5 — Luka Doncic, PG, Slovenia (Selected at No. 3 by Hawks, acquired for No. 5 overall pick and future first-round pick)
No. 33 — Jalen Brunson, PG, Villanova
No. 56 — Ray Spalding, PF, Louisville (from 76ers)
No. 60 — Kostas Antetokounmpo, PF, Dayton (from 76ers)
While players from Europe selected high often are hit-or-miss, Doncic is a nice choice in that he’ll be able to grow alongside Dennis Smith Jr. Clearly the Mavs were enamored with Doncic, as they were willing to part with a future first-round pick to get him. Adding Brunson also was a wise move if the intent is to build around young guards.
Denver Nuggets: B+
No. 14 — Michael Porter Jr., SF, Missouri
No. 41 — Jarred Vanderbilt, SF, Kentucky (acquired from Magic for Justin Jackson, who Denver selected with the No. 43 pick, and a future second-round pick)
No. 58 — Thomas Welsh, , UCLA
While there is some danger with Denver’s top selection, there is a lot to be excited about. The Nuggets needed a small forward and certainly got one in Porter, who when healthy is one of the most complete players in the draft. That’s their problem, though. Porter could be the player that finally gets them over the hump and into the playoffs, but they are putting a lot of faith in his health after he played just three games in college due to back surgery.
Detroit Pistons: B-
No. 38 — Khyri Thomas, SG, Creighton (acquired from 76ers for two future second-round picks)
No. 42 — Bruce Brown, SG, Miami
Neither player necessarily will help the Pistons in the short-term, but both are exciting prospects who showed plenty of explosiveness in college.
Golden State Warriors: B+
No. 28 — Jacob Evans, SG, Cincinnati
What do you add to the team that has everything? In snagging Evans, the Warriors added a player who can guard multiple positions, something that any team would benefit from.
Houston Rockets: D
No. 46 — De’Anthony Melton, PG, USC
No. 52 — Vincent Edwards, SF, Purdue (acquired pick from Jazz)
The Rockets had a dearth of picks, and the results pretty much showed. The Rockets will be hoping players return in free agency if they’re unable to land LeBron James.
Indiana Pacers: B
No. 23 — Aaron Holiday, PG, UCLA
No. 50 — Alize Johnson, PF, Missouri State
Holiday was an exciting get for the Pacers at No. 23. He’s a pure scorer and a good ball-handler, and he’ll be able to learn from a handful of veteran guards in Indiana.
Los Angeles Clippers: A-
No. 11 — Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, PG, Kentucky (acquired in exchange for Miles Bridges, who Los Angeles selected at No. 12, and two future second-round picks)
No. 13 — Jerome Robinson, SG, Boston College
The Clippers managed to add to their backcourt with a pair of players that have plenty of offensive skill. They got maybe the most complete offensive player in Robinson, who managed to stand out in a jam-packed American Coast Conference.
Los Angeles Lakers: B-
No. 25 — Mo Wagner, PF, Michigan
No. 39 — Isaac Bonga, SF, Germany (acquired from 76ers for future second-round pick and cash considerations)
No. 46 — Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, SG, Kansas
There is no shortage of great young talent on the Lakers, and they injected more energy into that young core with Wagner, whose skill already projects to translate well into the NBA. Though he lacks some athleticism and isn’t a great rebounder, he’s fundamentally sound, passes well and can shoot with a little space.
Memphis Grizzlies: B
No. 4 — Jaren Jackson Jr., PF, Michigan State
No. 32 — Jevon Carter, PG, West Virginia
The knock on the Grizzlies of late is that they lack direction, and that reportedly was a concern of their top pick in Jackson. Direction or not, Jackson is one of the better defenders in the draft and a versatile big man, which gives Memphis something to build with.
Miami Heat: N/A
The Heat did not have any picks Thursday.
Milwaukee Bucks: B-
No. 17 — Donte DiVincenzo, SG, Villanova
What the Bucks needed, the Bucks got with their lone pick. A very poor shooting team got a player in DiVincenzo that not only is a knockdown shooter, but has tremendous range. The concern now is whether that will to the pro level, or if recency bias will prove fatal with Milwaukee’s selection.
Minnesota Timberwolves: B+
No. 20 — Josh Okogie, SG, Georgia Tech
No. 48 — Keita Bates-Diop, SF, Ohio State
When asked to compare himself to an NBA player months ago, Okogie went with Jimmy Butler. Fitting. He brings plenty of energy and grit to the wing and appears to have an insane drive to be successful, which bodes well for his NBA prospects.
New Orleans Pelicans: D
No. 51 — Tony Carr, PG, Penn State
The Pelicans had just one pick, which came late in the second round. And while they did fine enough with taking Carr, this likely will be a forgettable draft for them.
New York Knicks: C-
No. 9 — Kevin Knox, SF, Kentucky
No. 36 — Mitchell Robinson, C, No School
The selection of Knox didn’t sit well with Knicks fans, and while they’ve been wrong before (see Kristaps Porzingis), this isn’t totally without merit. Knox will be a bit of a project, but has the skills to become a serviceable NBA player. Still, for a team that will be without Porzingis to start the season, things do not bode well for them, especially since they left Porter on the board.
Oklahoma City Thunder: D
No. 53 — Devon Hall, SG, Virginia
No. 57 — Kevin Hervey, SF, UT-Arlington
Another team with few draft picks, the Thunder were unable to do much Thursday night.
Orlando Magic: B-
No. 6 — Mo Bamba, C, Texas
No. 35 — Melvin Frazier, SF, Tulane
No. 43 — Justin Jackson, PF, Maryland (acquired along with a future second-round pick from Nuggets for Jarred Vanderbilt, who Orlando selected with the No. 41 pick)
While some believe Bamba could have the most fruitful career of Thursday’s selections, Orlando is going to need to take some time with him. He’s a quality rebounder, but needs to find a way to cement his spot in the paint against NBA defenders. He needs work offensively, too, as his touch and ability to finish around the rim is a problem. Frazier is an exciting forward, as is Jackson, but the Magic went out on a limb with their choices.
Philadelphia 76ers: A-
No. 16 — Zhaire Smith, SF, Texas Tech (acquired from Suns in exchange for Mikal Bridges, who was selected by Philadelphia with the No. 10)
No. 26 — Landry Shamet, PG, Wichita State
No. 54 — Shake Milton, PG, SMU (from Mavericks)
With so many ball-dominant players, the Sixers were in need of a player who plays well off the ball, and they got that in trading for Smith. His high basketball IQ and quick thinking allows him to play well off screens and will make him a valuable player off the bench right away in Philly. The Sixers also added some additional depth to their group of guards in Shamet, whose creativity and shooting ability are pluses.
Phoenix Suns: A+
No. 1 — DeAndre Ayton, C, Arizona
No. 11 — Mikal Bridges, SF, Villanova (acquired from 76ers in exchange for Zhaire Smith, who was selected by Phoenix with the No. 16 pick.)
No. 31 — Elie Okobo, PG, France
No. 59 — George King, C, Colorado
With the top pick, the Suns took the best player in the draft. With all the young talent they have in Josh Jackson and Devin Booker, they added to a compelling young core without the subtracting they would have needed to do in a trade. If Ayton becomes the player he is expected to be and fits seamlessly into the NBA out of the chute — mixed with Bridges, who is a great 3-and-D forward — the Suns just may become a compelling team to watch in the West.
Portland Trail Blazers: D+
No. 24 — Anfernee Simons, , IMG Academy
No. 37, Gary Trent Jr., SG, Duke (from Kings for two future second-round picks and cash considerations)
There’s a lot of mystery with the Trail Blazers’ selection of Simons. He was dominant as a post-grad player, but didn’t play against NCAA talent. While his strength and defense will need work (and possibly require him to spend some time in the G-League), he’s shown some great playmaking ability and athleticism. If the Blazers are willing to take their time with him, it could prove a valuable selection, but it doesn’t do them much now. While Trent was a nice get in a trade, considering what they gave up –plus their project of a first-round pick — the Blazers left you wanting more.
Sacramento Kings: B+
No. 2 — Marvin Bagley III, PF, Duke
In selecting Bagley, the Kings helped shore up their frontcourt with a player that is complete. While he still will take some developing on the defensive end, what he can do on offense assuredly will help take some pressure off Sacramento’s guards.
San Antonio Spurs: B
No. 18 — Lonnie Walker IV, SG, Miami
No. 49 — Chimezie Metu, PF, USC
Everyone loves Walker, and he looks like he has all the potential to be a prototypical Spurs star under Gregg Popovich. Could they be preparing for Kawhi Leonard’s eventual departure? If so, they could have done much worse.
Toronto Raptors: N/A
The Raptors did not have any picks Thursday.
Utah Jazz: A
No. 21 — Grayson Allen, SG, Duke
Although his career at Duke was marred by occasional tomfoolery, Allen has proven to be a knockdown shooter who can create chances on offense, even if his defense needs some work. He seems committed to changing his tune a bit in the NBA while still playing hard, and Utah will be a perfect fit for both sides of that coin.
Washington Wizards: C
No. 15 — Troy Brown Jr., SF, Oregon
No. 44 — Issuf Sanon, PG, Olympija (Serbia)
While the Wizards did address a need for some depth in their frontcourt, they selected a player who doesn’t particularly excel in any one specific area in Brown. In some ways that’s good — they added versatility in a position of need — but Brown was not a stellar athlete in college, something that will need to be monitored as he assimilates into the NBA.
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