Well that was interesting. I feel like some of my more confident reads I had went as expected, some of my fuzzy reads were completely off the mark, and overall I think last night reinforced how deeply subjective the draft can be.
I think grading the draft is completely silly, and it’s hilarious for me to read this morning that Chad Ford gave the Rockets a C-. Yeah Chad, you definitely have a world of insight that Daryl Morey lacks, so you tell him how badly he screwed up! In fairness to Ford he’s required to do this as part of his job and he needs to stand by his rankings, but it’s just silly. Personally I accept my lack of expertise, so for me this is a two way street. For every pick I have opinions on how they may be questioned as well how they may call my rankings into question. I’m going to go down my ranking predicting sharpest to least sharp to share my thoughts on the draft:
1. San Antonio Spurs
30. Kyle Anderson
Well, this makes sense. The team that values ball movement takes an awesome passer who grades well analytically. I imagine Anderson is going to play a similar role to Boris Diaw, and I love this for his odds to succeed as a pro.
2. Philadelphia 76ers
3. Joel Embiid
12. Dario Saric
32. KJ McDaniels39. Jerami Grant
52. Vasilije Micic
54. Nemanja Dangubic
58. Jordan McRae
This was the draft I was most looking forward to as I couldn’t wait to compare notes with Hinkie and his copious picks. He delivered in both directions, as three of his picks were comfortably the best player available on my board (Embiid, McDaniels, Micic) and the rest were varying levels of surprises to me.
I ranked Dario Saric 23rd on my big board, Hinkie took him 12th. If I do a post draft big board, I’m skyrocketing Saric up my board. Frankly I never even watched him and never felt exceptionally confident in my ranking of him. He didn’t sound too attractive based on stats and his physical profile, but maybe if I watched film I’d feel differently. I can see how his virtuoso passing ability is not fully captured by stats, and how he may translate well to a less ball dominant role. It should be noted there wasn’t a clear value and fit for Philly in this slot: my top players were centers blocked by Embiid/Noel and PG’s blocked by MCW, and then my next best players were Inglis and KJ McDaniels who he got in round 2 anyway. There really wasn’t an obvious slam dunk and Hinkie may have decided to err on the side of a player he can stash and use as a trade asset down the line. I’m definitely elevating my perception of Saric regardless though, ranking him 23rd was NOT a high confidence ranking.
Jerami Grant I ranked 38th on my final big board and he went 39th. He’s such a weird player I never really knew where to rank him. Ultimately I decided to just fade his skill level and stick him 38th, but his tools are great, he allegedly has defended well man to man in the past, and his stats aren’t bad. I’m sure Hinkie invested quite a bit more thought into Grant than I have and it’s almost certainly better value than my board would indicate, even though I think his lack of skill level remains a big concern.
Dangubic and McRae are interested as late round fliers, because they are Hinkie going completely against the stats. I can see how McRae is underrated– he had a poor steal rate which vastly understates the role he played in Tennessee’s defense that was top 20 in spite of having no rim protecting bigs. I should have had him somewhere higher on my board. Dangubic is an international who has poor stats, but they rolled the dice anyway. These picks could have been Hinkie throwing his scouts a bone, but he may genuinely like them too. If nothing else I now know he’s willing to defy stat models late in round 2.
3. Houston Rockets
25. Clint Capela
42. Nick Johnson
I absolutely love Morey’s draft. I had Capela ranked 6th on my big board, which is a rather bold shot in the dark I was starting to doubt when smart GM’s kept passing on him. But Morey being the one to pull the trigger when Capela can’t play with Dwight Howard pleases me. I maybe shouldn’t have been so bold as to rank Capela ahead of Parker and Wiggins, but he’s in a mold where it’s so so easy to become valuable he’s a top 10 prospect to me in this draft no matter what.
In round 2 Morey took my 42nd prospect at 42nd overall, and I love the pick. Johnson is a great fit next to James Harden, as Harden can run the offense from SG and Johnson gives them another Beverley-esque 3 + D type. I definitely liked Johnson more than my 42nd ranking would indicate, so I think this illuminates that I probably didn’t even succeed at ranking the non-lotto prospects in an order that my intuition agrees with.
4. Boston Celtics
6. Marcus Smart
17. James Young
To me Marcus Smart was the only defensible choice at 6th overall, and Ainge smashed that one. That’s 3 years in a row that the Celtics have taken my top choice with their top pick (Smart, Olynyk, Sullinger).
James Young feels like a Fab Melo-ish follow up to the Sullinger pick, but not quite as bad. I hate that the Celtics passed up Capela at 17, but Ainge tends to not go international in drafts so I can’t say I’m surprised. Based on NCAA players that fit, I would have taken KJ McDaniels but I feel that taking Young ahead of him is somewhat defensible. I have noted multiple times that I think there are hidden edges in Young: I think he’s going to become a better shooter than his stats indicated and he was the UK player who lit up tough defenses. I ranked him low because I feel like he’s going to be a one way player, and I think Ainge is making a statement that he thinks Young can play both ways. I think Young has a chance to become average or better defensively, and playing for Brad Stevens definitely helps his odds. I still feel like this pick isn’t great value, but Ainge liking Young makes me like him a bit more.
5. Oklahoma City
21. Mitch McGary
29. Josh Huestis
I like the McGary pick. I only ranked him 25th on my big board which has him as a slight reach, but he was a prospect I could have easily been coerced into ranking higher. So this is probably fail to properly rank my intuition again.
The Huestis pick is a surprise to me. I stashed him in the 81-100 range but honestly gave zero thought to him because he’s old and appears to be a zero offensively. But he’s toolsy and apparently great defensively, and it sounds like he did well at Portsmouth. I’m skyrocketing Huestis up my board if Presti likes him in round 1, but I still feel like he’s so limited offensively for a wing that this is a questionable pick.
15. Adreian Payne
43. Walter Tavares
48. Lamar Patterson
I had Payne 18th on my first big board and closed with him 33rd on my big board. The fact that Danny Ferry likes him 15th overall makes me feel like I may have been closer on my first try and moved away from the truth due to information overload. Payne was definitely one of the toughest players for me to rank. I have a hard time bashing investments in tall guys who can shoot, especially since Payne has the tools to be decent defensively. But I still think the value is questionable nevertheless– if nothing else Atlanta seems to be capping their upside here. I’m interested to see how Payne pans out.
Tavares is just a good pick in the mid-2nd. Patterson is a bit surprising, he doesn’t seem to have the physical tools to guard SG’s but he does have a bit of shake and a nice offensive skill level. I ranked him 54th so this is roughly neutral value to me, and I could see how I underrated LPatt. Of course it’s also possible that the Hawks are underrating the predictive power of age with these picks.
20. Bruno Caboclo
37. DeAndre Daniels
The NBA Draft: where Bruno Caboclo happens. I didn’t bother to try to rank him because I could find zero information on him. I think it’s pretty crazy that Ujiri thought Caboclo is so so good that he couldn’t risk having him sniped before round 2. If he’s 6’9″ with a 7’7″ wingspan, athletic, and can shoot at the age of 18 then I suppose I see his point. I’m not going to question Masai until I see Bruno play because it doesn’t sound like somebody who has a limit to his ceiling. I just don’t understand how he went so undetected in spite of being such a freak AND being able to shoot. My mind is forever blown by this pick.
The DeAndre Daniels pick is a shock to me. I ranked him 70th on my big board because he never passes, and unless you’re a rim protecting center this is a big turn off to me. He’s also 22 and didn’t quite shine enough to feel like he has upside in spite of his lack of passing. I’m a bit less bearish on him if Masai likes him, but I can’t help but feel he could have done better.
14. TJ Warren
18. Tyler Ennis
27. Bogdan Bogdanovic
50. Alec Brown
The jury is still out on Ryan McDonough as a drafter, and I feel mixed about these picks. The TJ Warren pick feels meh to me but again I may have underrated him at 28th overall. He’s just a completely bizarre prospect and I put all of 5 minutes into solving his draft ranking, so why should I be confident. I obviously love the Ennis pick, especially if they now package one of Dragic or Bledsoe for Love. Bogdan Bogdanovic’s big statistical weakness is 2p%, and if Jeff Hornacek can get him a higher quality of shots that’s a pick that can pan out. I had him as a slight reach but I love the fit with Hornacek (although Inglis or Jokic would have been cooler). And Alec Brown is an investment in a tall shooter at a low price, so can’t complain there. Overall I feel like Phoenix had a solid draft, but they didn’t quite inspire confidence that McDonough is en route to becoming a top top drafting GM.
38. Spencer Dinwiddie
Stan Van Gundy is a smart coach and he took a smart player who I have as great value. Love this pick, I think Dinwiddie is going to carve himself out a career as a useful role player for SVG.
5. Dante Exum
23. Rodney Hood
When you get Dante Exum 5th overall, it hardly matters who you take 23rd. I’m exuberant if I’m a Jazz fan. But I’m pretty disappointed in Utah for taking Hood 23rd overall. I never even understood his draft hype. I’m guessing it’s great offensive skill set for a role player, and the tools to be alright defensively which is attainable since he has good intangibles? I don’t know. He doesn’t have crazy offensive upside and I think he’s clueless and hopeless defensively. Hood may do enough offensively to make this pick look alright, but I’m not compromising on this one: he’s going to be bad defensively and he’s not going to be a star offensively and there is no way he belongs in round 1.
22. Jordan Adams
35. Jarnell Stokes
I may have underestimated Memphis ranking them just 13th, as John Hollinger seems to have them on the analytics wagon. I would have taken Kyle Anderson before Jordan Adams, but this was still a good spot to gamble on Adams anyway. I completely love the Stokes pick and think that he’s going to carve out a solid career in the league as a role player.
4. Aaron Gordon
10. Elfrid Payton
56. Roy Devyn Marble
I was a bit surprised to see the Magic take Gordon over Smart and Exum, but it all made sense when they snagged Payton at 10th overall. I don’t love Hennigan moving up for Payton since Ennis would have been a perfectly fine fall back plan (and probably a better fit since Oladipo + Gordon give them a great baseline of perimeter defense), but it’s clear that he has a plan and it’s to invest in defense. You can do quite a bit worse than that plan. They will likely need to add shooting down the road, but I like loading up with great defensive perimeter players and dealing with the rest later. Devyn Marble was a good late flier too, I like this draft for Orlando.
2. Jabari Parker
31. Damien Inglis
36. Johnny O’Bryant
Well the Bucks lived up to their middle of the road ranking by making two picks I hate and one pick I love. I get why they made the Jabari pick but I really feel like he’s Glenn Robinson all over again for the Bucks. They then redeemed themselves by picking Inglis who I love, and then closed on a meh note with Johnny O’Bryant. Johnny O is somebody who I possibly underrate because he has a lot of fat to his offensive game that can be trimmed, but I’m just not sure what the selling point for him going early round 2 is.
18. Chicago Bulls
11. Doug McDermott
49. Cameron Bairstow
The Bulls lost their minds and I may have overrated them at #18 on my draft predictions. Flipping picks 16 + 19 for McDermott is a classic case of overrating fit/need, as the Bulls badly need shooting + scoring and got the highest rated shooter and scorer at whatever cost it took. The trouble is that in the process they completely disregarded EV, and missed out on players who may have been able to make a bigger impact for them. One could argue that McDermott’s defense can be hidden in Chicago, but at the same time he’s not going to be a panacea for their offense. This deal may not look terrible in retrospect if McDermott can develop into as good of a pro as JJ Redick did, but to me the upside is just not there and there is quite a bit of risk. If I’m a Bulls fan I’m sorely disappointed with their draft.
24. Shabazz Napier
They took the guy that LeBron wanted. Napier makes sense for them because he can space the floor and pairs well with LeBron, and they need to optimize for the scenario where LeBron stays as opposed to finding their next franchise cornerstone. Everything hinges on LeBron, and I don’t think the Napier pick is bad at all bearing that in mind.
21. LA Clippers
28. CJ Wilcox
I ranked the Clippers as a bottom 10 drafting team due to a lack of faith in Doc Rivers the GM, and he validated my ranking by spewing big time on Wilcox. He already took a jump shooter in the late 1st last year who failed to translate as a rookie (Reggie Bullock), and Wilcox is a much less attractive overall prospect. I assume this is a win now move, although I am skeptical of Wilcox’s ability to aid a team in winning ever. At least the Clippers still have CP3 and Blake I suppose.
22. Denver Nuggets
16. Jusuf Nurkic
19. Gary Harris
41. Nikola Jokic
The Nuggets were a team I was unsure of where to rank, and they came out and massively overperformed my expectation. Converting the 11th pick into Nurkic and Harris is amazing since I would have been fond of just keeping the pick and using it on Nurk. I’m lukewarm on Harris but he’s fine at 19th overall when that pick was basically a freeroll anyway. And there’s no way that Jokic is a bad gamble in round 2. I’m thrilled as a Nuggets fan, and while I’m not suddenly convinced that the Nuggets are super pro at drafting I am going to have higher expectations for them next year.
8. Nik Stauskas
This is what their crowd sourcing came up with. I suppose it could have been worse. I have Stauskas as a slight reach, but I like him and wouldn’t be surprised if he provides a happy return on the pick. Of course he could also be the next Jimmer Fredette. He’s another guy I like but struggle to pinpoint, but I am rooting for him nevertheless.
24. LA Lakers
7. Julius Randle
46. Jordan Clarkson
I expected the Lakers to be bad, and they reached for one of my least favorite prospects in the draft. No need to question my opinion of Randle for this– I watched him religiously, I stand by everything I have said, and I laugh at the Lakers for taking him 7th overall. Vonleh would have been a much better pick.
Clarkson is fine 46th overall. Doesn’t really move the needle either way for me.
1. Andrew Wiggins
33. Joe Harris
I dislike both of these picks for Cleveland. In fairness I think at least taking Wiggins over Parker was the right move, but I would have taken Embiid or traded down.
Joe Harris is somebody whose appeal I don’t really get. I think I may have underrated him leaving him out of my top 80. If he can play defense then he might have a career in the NBA. But he doesn’t seem to have all that much upside so I think he was definitely a reach early in round 2.
26. New Orleans
47. Russ Smith
I like Russdiculous, and I like him at 47th overall, but I don’t think it was a great idea to trade Pierre Jackson for him. New Orleans should maybe take Hinkie off of their speed dial.
9. Noah Vonleh
26. PJ Hairston
45. Dwight Powell
55. Semaj Christon
I’m fairly accustomed to laughing at the Hornets after the draft, but things might be changing in their front office. I actually like all 4 of their picks. Vonleh I’m not high on but was likely the correct pick at 9th overall. Hairston, Powell, and Christon were all good values at their respective slots and players I generally like. I probably slightly overrated Christon on my final big board at 32nd, but still this draft inspires a ton of optimism for me if I am a Hornets fan.
28. New York
34. Cleanthony Early
51. Thanasis Antetokounmpo
57. Louis Labyrie
I expected Phil Jackson to be bad, and he delivered taking one of the players who I feel is completely overrated in Early. Antetokounmpo pick is fine and I don’t know anything about Labyrie. But he lost the draft by wasting the best asset in the Tyson Chandler trade on somebody who has exceptionally low upside.
29. Minnesota Timberwolves
13. Zach LaVine
40. Glenn Robinson
53. Alessandro Gentile
I rated Minnesota fairly low as I assume Flip Saunders has no idea what he’s doing, and like Phil Jackson he delivered in a big way. Zach LaVine at #13 overall very well may be the worst pick of the draft. Flip did partially redeem himself with GR3 in round 2 and the Gentile pick is possibly OK too. But he blew their one good asset, and that’s why Love is leaving and it’s why Minnesota deserves it.
30. Brooklyn Nets
44. Markel Brown
59. Xavier Thames
60. Cory Jefferson
I have Billy King as the worst GM in the league because everything he ever does exudes a lack of cluefulness. Unfortunately, he didn’t have a good pick last night (or ever because he traded them all), but we did get to see him select a handful of 2nd rounders. I had them all as slight reaches, it seems that King just wants to take old guys who might help right away. They won’t help right away and probably not ever.