Grades for the 1st Round Picks of the 2014 NBA Draft

The 2014 NBA Draft will go down in history for all of the right reasons
The 2014 NBA Draft will go down in history for all the right reasons

Now that 2014 NBA Draft is over, it is time to dish out the grades for each pick. I’ve based my evaluation on several factors including the talent of the player and the needs of the team which chose the player. However, I should note that in the end I always just go with my gut feeling.

I think the Milwaukee Bucks, Boston Celtics, and Los Angeles Lakers came out on top in this draft. I see their respective picks of Jabari Parker, Marcus Smart, and Julius Randle as the three most successful players going forward. Though I must admit, I haven’t really thought about Embiid. I should probably do that.

What separates Parker, Smart, and Randle from the rest of the bunch is their attitudes. The biggest head scratching picks came from the Hornets, Kings, and Suns. There are definitely a few late round steals. And of course, there are a few busts.

Is there any doubt that Jabari Parker will be better than Andrew Wiggins?
Is there any doubt that Jabari Parker will be better than Andrew Wiggins?

1. Andrew Wiggins to the Cavs – Wiggins lacks the killer instinct to be truly great. He will never be a Kobe Bryant or Lebron James. He is more like Vince Carter or Tracy McGrady. That’s still pretty good, but there are better players in this draft. Grade: B

2. Jabari Parker to the Bucks – When it’s all said and done, Parker is going to be one of the top three or four players in this draft class. He has star written all over him. He’s likely to drop 18 points per game and win Rookie of the Year in his first season. My question with Parker is whether he will be really good or great? Will he be closer to Carmelo Anthony or Lebron James? Grade: A

3. Joel Embiid to the 76ers – Embiid is a franchise center. The Cavs panicked because of the broken bone in his foot, even though players like Michael Jordan had the same injury and recovered just fine. However, drafting Embiid is still a risk, especially with Nerlens Noel being a question mark with his own injuries. Shouldn’t the 76ers have gone for the more surefire thing? Grade: B+

Did the Magic reach with Aaron Gordon?
Did the Magic reach with Aaron Gordon?

4. Aaron Gordon to the Magic – Gordon is supposedly the best athlete in the draft, but he can’t shoot the rock. He also lacks ball handling and playmaking skills which are crucial for today’s perimeter players. He will be a solid starter for years to come, but they could have done better with the talent available. They should have chosen Julius Randle. Grade: B-

5. Dante Exum to the Jazz – Exum looks like an elite athlete with a good head on his shoulders, but the Jazz need to figure out how he fits alongside Trey Burke. The young Australian might have to wait a few years before he’s fully launched. It’s hard for me to see Exum being better than Smart. Grade: B

Marcus Smart - the next Celtic great?
Marcus Smart – the next Celtic great?

6. Marcus Smart to the Celtics – Smart will be better than Wiggins, Gordon, and Exum. He is a relentless competitor (he even fights fans, see below) who would run through a brick wall to win a game. If he develops a consistent jumper, he could be truly special. Now… how, if at all, does he fit alongside Rajon Rondo? Grade: A+

7. Julius Randle to the Lakers – A no brainer pick for the Lakers, who need all the help that they can get after a dismal season. Randle will get them buckets and rebounds from day one. He should see plenty of playing time with Gasol likely heading out the door. Alongside Parker, he’s a front-runner for Rookie of the Year. Grade: A+

8. Nic Stauskas to the Kings – Kind of a head scratcher. Why pick Stauskas after taking Ben McLemore last season? Plus, the Kings already have ball dominant players such as Demarcus Cousins, Rudy Gay, and Isaiah Thomas (if they re-sign him). Where will Stauskas get his touches to be effective? The Kings need players to do the dirty work, not put the ball in the hole. I would have taken Elfrid Payton and let Isaiah Thomas walk out of the door as a free agent. Grade: D+

9. Noah Vonleh to the Hornets – Another head scratcher. Vonleh wasn’t even able to dominate in his one year at Indiana University. The Hoosiers didn’t even make the NCAA tournament with him as their star. He seems to me to be a typical “bust” who only rose in the pre-draft rankings because of his potential and measurements at the combine. Grade: D-

Is Elfrid Payton the next Gary Payton?
Is Elfrid Payton the next Gary Payton?

10. Elfrid Payton to the Magic – Orlando is a good fit for Payton, who can team up with Victor Oladipo for a scrappy and intense backcourt. Payton’s all-around numbers are impressive even though he can’t really shoot too well. He gets to the bucket which is a crucial sign for rookie point guards. Is he the next Gary Payton? Grade: A

11. Doug McDermott to the Bulls – Not in love with Chicago’s acquisition, though I do think their half-court offensive system will help the former Creighton star score some points. McDermott can shoot, but he’s also classic tweener. He’s not big enough to bang with the big boys and not athletic enough to hang on the perimeter. I see him as a solid career backup, but the Bulls gave up too much for his services. Grade: C

12. Dario Saric to the 76ers – Saric is going to be a special player in the NBA, though Philadelphia will have to wait a few years to see him on the court. He reminds me of Toni Kukoc, but much tougher. He looks to have that killer mentality like Marcus Smart. Grade: A

13. Zach LaVine to the T’Wolves – The early favorite for winning the 2015 slam dunk contest. He reminds me of a young Tracy McGrady coming out of high school. He’s so raw and talented. Grade: A

14. T.J. Warren to the Suns – Not sold that Warren’s game will translate well to the NBA. I’ve never bought into the theory that a team should draft a player because “he just gets buckets.” Shawn Respert was able to “just get buckets too,” and he did nothing in the NBA. Can Warren create his own shot? Will he earn minutes over the Morris brothers? Is he a three or a four? Too many question marks here. Grade: D+

Adreian Payne is in good hands with Al Horford and Paul Milsap in Atlanta
Adreian Payne is in good hands with Al Horford and Paul Milsap in Atlanta

15. Adreian Payne to the Hawks – Payne’s stretch four game translates well to the NBA. Phoenix will regret not taking him and the Hawks will be thrilled with his production. Payne has two excellent big man mentors in Al Horford and Paul Mislap. Both are similar players who can help Payne maximize his potential. I could see Payne being one of the more productive players in this class. Grade: A

16. Jusuf Nurkic to the Nuggets – Nurkic is a monster and fairly nimble on his feet (see video). His body build reminds me of Vitaly Potapenko, though Nurkic is much more athletic. If Embiid’s body doesn’t hold up, Nurkic could end up being the best center in the 2014 class. Grade: A

17. James Young to the Celtics – Boston made the right decision by taking Young over Gary Harris. Young’s length and true position, SF, makes him a better prospect than the undersized Harris. Young has the potential to be a very good player in the NBA. Some are calling him a steal. He has a sweet stroke from downtown and has the ability to finish at the rim. I also like that he showed up in the NCAA tournament. He reminds me of a more athletic version of Michael Redd. Grade: A

18. Tyler Ennis to the Suns – Backup PG is an area of need for the Suns, but Ennis doesn’t seem to fit Phoenix’s run-and-gun system. Ennis appears to be a methodical point guard and game manager. In what ways does Ennis mesh well with Goran Dragic or Eric Bledsoe? And how could Phoenix take Ennis over Shabazz Napier? I just don’t get it. Grade: D

19. Gary Harris to the Nuggets – What exactly is Harris great at on the floor? He’s a bit too short to play the two guard and not skilled enough to play the point. This would be a different story if he was an elite athlete, but he’s not. If Denver wanted some scoring punch they should have drafted P.J. Hairston. Grade: D

20. Bruno Caboclo to the Raptors – Caboclo has some of the longest arms I’ve ever seen on a basketball player (see video below). Perhaps he’s a diamond in the rough, but he also sounds like a real project. Toronto should have gone with a player who could step in right away and contribute. I’m not saying the pick won’t work out in the long-run, but the Raptors aren’t far away from the top of the East. They need help now. Grade: C-

21. Mitch McGary to the Thunder – McGary is Nick Collison’s future replacement. He will do all the little things which make OKC tick on offense and defense. However, Hood or Hairston would have provided the Thunder with more pop off their bench. They desperately need more scoring when Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are resting. Grade: B-

22. Jordan Adams to the Grizzlies – I can’t believe Memphis passed on Rodney Hood. What exactly is Adams good at? Grade: D

The Jazz have a steal in a Rodney Hood?
The Jazz have a steal in a Rodney Hood?

23. Rodney Hood to the Jazz – A great value pick this late in the first round. Hood seems like a prototypical two guard. My only concern is that Utah is already too loaded in the backcourt. Will he ever get minutes? How will the Jazz use him? It’s a tough spot for the former Kentucky Wildcat. Grade: B

24. Shabazz Napier to the Heat – Lebron James got his man. This pick is a success for that reason alone. Napier seems like an upgrade over Mario Chalmers. The former UConn champion has that killer instinct. Though he may never be an all star, I could see Shabazz having a long and successful NBA career. Grade: B

25. Clint Capela to the Rockets – Houston will stash Capela away in Europe for a few years. He seems a bit raw, but he’s no Bismack Byombo. Capela actually has some skills. He needs to put on some weight though. Grade: B

26. P.J. Hairston to the Hornets – One of the steals of the first round. Hairston excelled against professional players in the D-League. He reminds me of Dion Waters. Grade: A

27. Bogdan Bogdanovic to the Suns – Not much is known about the Serbian product, but he appears to be a well-rounded player. He’s not an elite athlete, but these Serbian guys know how to play the game. He could be a solid role player in a few years. Grade: B-

28. C.J. Wilcox to the Clippers – My guess is that Doc River wants Wilcox to be Jamal Crawford 2.0. He’s a deadly shooter, but can he create his own shot? He also needs to hit the weights. I guess it’s a decent pick this late in the first round. Grade: C+

29. Josh Huestis to the Thunder – Seems like an insurance pick in case Thabo Sefolosha heads elsewhere as a free agent. Huestis is apparently a defensive specialist, but why didn’t they take K.J. McDaniels? Surely he has more upside. Grade: C

30. Kyle Anderson to the Spurs – If any team in the league can maximize Anderson’s specific skill set as a 6’9 playmaker, it’s the Spurs. Grade: B+

Here are some more of my other predictions:

Rookie of the Year Race: 1) Jabari Parker 2) Julius Randle 3) Marcus Smart

Slam Dunk Champion: Zach LaVine

Biggest bust: Noan Vonleh

Biggest steal: James Young

The best players in 10 years: 1) Jabari Parker 2) Marcus Smart 3) Julius Randle 4) Elfrid Payton 5) Andrew Wiggins 6) Zach Lavine 7) Adreian Payne 8) James Young 9) PJ Hairston 10) Jusuf Nurkic


2 thoughts on “Grades for the 1st Round Picks of the 2014 NBA Draft

  1. DUDE, your forgot the NBA Honorary Drafting Isaiah Austin! That was a pretty class act for the NBA A+++++++


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