2018 NBA Draft Grades

Atlanta Hawks

Picks:

  • Trae Young - PG - Oklahoma
  • Kevin Huerter - SG/SF - Maryland
  • Omari Spellman - PF/C - Villanova

 

Grade: B

 

The Hawks ended up trading out of the #3 spot with the Dallas Mavericks, and in the process they picked up a future top-5 protected first round pick from Dallas. I would say Dallas won this trade, because they got my #1 prospect in Luka Doncic, but Atlanta got the player they wanted all along. Trae Young (#17 on my big board) is one of the best shooters in the draft, but I have concerns about his defense and effort. Huerter (#19 on my big board) was a solid pick in the middle of the first round. He will also provide some much needed shooting, and he showed flashes of good perimeter defense at Maryland. Spellman (#37 on my big board) was the best big man available late in the first round, so to me they made the right choice. Big men that can stretch the floor are at a premium in the league right now. Just based off of their picks, I would probably give them a B-, but getting that future first rounder from Dallas bumped it up to a B.

 

Boston Celtics

Picks:

  • Robert Williams - PF/C - Texas A&M

 

Grade: B+

 

The Boston Celtics only had 1 draft pick this year, but this team does not need to add many more pieces. They already have their superstar players and a few young guys with a ton of potential. The only position they really needed to upgrade was the back-up Center spot, and that is exactly what they did. Robert Williams (#30 on my big board) would have been rated much higher if it wasn’t for some of his off the court issues. He is somewhat limited offensively, but he is exactly what you want as a back-up Center. Williams is a rim running big that will bring energy off the bench, and he has a much different skill-set than Al Horford. I think this is an upgrade over Aron Baynes from last year. This pick gets them a B+ based on value and fit.

 

Brooklyn Nets

Picks:

  • Dzanan Musa - SF - Cedevita Zagreb
  • Rodions Kurucs - SF/PF - FC Barcelona Bàsquet

 

Grade: C-

 

Brooklyn Nets ended up in the late first round again due to that awful “Big 3” trade with the Boston Celtics. Fortunately for Brooklyn, this is the final part of that franchise altering trade. I feel like they make a decent selection with Dzanan Musa (#27 on my big board). He’s got some length for a wing player and also has a nice shooting stroke. I would expect Musa to come over from Europe right away. I did not have Rodions Kurucs ranked in my top 60, so this is what dropped their grade down for me. It looks like he will be a draft-and-stash player for them. In draft that was considered weak for international prospects, the Brooklyn Nets doubled down on Europeans. 

 

Charlotte Hornets

Picks:

  • Miles Bridges - SF - Michigan State (traded from Los Angeles Clippers)
  • Devonte’ Graham - PG - Kansas (traded from Atlanta Hawks)
  • Arnoldas Kulboka - SF - Orlandina Basket

 

Grade: B-

 

I really like the Miles Bridges (#9 on my big board) pick for Charlotte, and they also got 2 additional second round picks to move back 1 spot with the Los Angeles Clippers, who took Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Bridges is going to come in and make an immediate impact as a wing, or even a small ball power forward. He will be a solid role player for them early on, and he still has potential to become an all-star down the road. I thought they reached a bit for Devonte’ Graham (#46 on my big board), but he can be a good back-up point guard for a team that desperately needed to fill that void. I would say he is definitely a better option than Michael Carter-Williams. Arnoldas Kulboka is not ranked in my top 60, and I don’t expect him to come over to the NBA any time soon. I am giving them a B-, because they were able to get a top 10 player, while also picking up a few more draft assets.

 

Chicago Bulls

Picks:

  • Wendell Carter Jr. - C - Duke
  • Chandler Hutchinson - SF - Boise State

 

Grade: C

 

I never thought Wendell Carter Jr. (#24 on my big board) was worthy of a lottery pick. I understand he is young, and has some potential, but picking him at #7 is a reach. I see him being a career back-up Center. There were so many other players with higher upside available at 7 that it makes it hard for me to justify the pick. Center was a need for them, but Carter does not fit the mold of a dominant Center in today's game. Chandler Hutchinson (#43 on my big board) will be a solid rotational wing in this league, but once again the Bulls passed on players with much more upside. At best, Chandler is a 6th man for them down the road. I wasn’t very impressed with their draft this year, considering where they picked, so I will give the Bulls a C.

 

Cleveland Cavaliers

Picks:

  • Collin Sexton - PG - Alabama

 

Grade: B

 

Only having 1 pick this year, the Cavaliers had some pressure to get an impactful player with Lebron James’ likely leaving the team this summer. Collin Sexton (#18 on my big board) is going to come in right away and run the offense for Cleveland. The only reason he wasn’t rated higher for me was due to his size and shot selection, but with James likely gone, the Cavs could use a guy that can go get his own buckets. He is going to be asked to do a lot for this team, so I see him being one of the top candidates for 2018-19 Rookie of the Year.

 

Dallas Mavericks

Picks:

  • Luka Doncic - PG/SG - Real Madrid
  • Jalen Brunson - PG - Villanova
  • Ray Spalding - PF - Syracuse (traded from Philadelphia 76ers)
  • Kostas Antetokounmpo - PF - Dayton (traded from Philadelphia 76ers)

 

Grade: A-

 

The Dallas Mavericks made sure their season of tanking paid off by trading up to get the player they thought was #1 in the draft. Luka Doncic (#1 on my big board) is exactly the type of franchise player this organization needed, especially with Dirk Nowitzki getting closer to retirement. A Doncic and Dennis Smith backcourt is going to be very dynamic for the next decade. Now they really have two foundational pieces they can build around, and use them to attract some high end free agents. Jalen Brunson (#39 on my big board) was a good value pick early in the second round. The national champion will be a solid back-up point guard for them moving forward. Ray Spalding (#47 on my big board) and Kostas Antetokounmpo (#52 on my big board) are players with some potential, but I do not expect them to make the team. We will probably see them in the G-League next season. Their draft grade would have been an A+ if they did not have to give up their first rounder next year (top 5 protected), but they still get an A- from me.

 

Denver Nuggets

Picks:

  • Michael Porter Jr. - PF - Missouri
  • Jarrad Vanderbilt - PF - Kentucky (traded from Orlando Magic)
  • Thomas Welsh - C - UCLA

 

Grade: B+

 

The Nuggets somehow ended up with a top 5 player in this draft that fell due to injury concerns. Michael Porter Jr (#3 on my big board) may have to redshirt a season with his back problems, but if he comes back to form in a few years, they may end up getting one of the biggest draft steals of all-time. The Nuggets have a possible big 3 in Jamal Murray, Nikola Jokic and not Michael Porter Jr. Later in the draft they got another high upside player in Jarrad Vanderbilt, who also dealt with some injuries last season. He was one of the top recruits coming into Kentucky, so we know the potential is there. Thomas Welsh was not ranked on my big board, and I do not expect him to make the team. He will most likely end up in the G-League, or over in Europe. Denver gets an B+ from me, because they managed to land a top 5 talent without trading up from the 14th pick.

 

Detroit Pistons

Picks:

  • Khyri Thomas - SG/SF - Creighton (traded from Philadelphia 76ers)
  • Bruce Brown - PG - Miami

 

Grade: A-

 

The Pistons got a steal in the second round with Khyri Thomas (#14 on my big board). He is going to contribute immediately, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up fighting for a starting spot. I’m not sure why Thomas fell to the second round, but Detroit was happy to give up two future second round picks to draft him. Bruce Brown (#60 on my big board) is a solid player, that probably would have been higher on my board if it weren’t for his injuries. I think he will fight for a roster spot, but he will most likely be spending his time in the G-League. They get an A- for landing first round talent with only second round picks.

 

Golden State Warriors

Picks:

  • Jacob Evans - SG - Cincinnati

 

Grade: B+

 

The back-to-back champions continue to add high value talent to their roster in the draft. Last year it was Jordan Bell, and this year they landed a great wing prospect in Jacob Evans (#23 on my big board) of Cincinnati. I don’t expect him to play much this season, but they will be developing him as a player and he will learn a lot from the veterans on this team. He will eventually become one of their key bench pieces when players like Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston leave the team. The Warriors surprisingly have some young talent they can develop over the next few years.

 

Houston Rockets

Picks:

  • DeAnthony Melton - SG - USC
  • Vincent Edwards - SF - Purdue (traded from Utah Jazz)

 

Grade: B-

 

The Houston Rockets only had second round picks this year, but they don’t really need an impact player right now. DeAndre Melton (#61 on my big board) is a decent prospect with some upside. I like the pick for them, because his play style fits well on their roster. I expect him to make the team, and maybe even contribute next season. Vincent Edwards was not ranked in my top 60, and I don’t expect him to make the team. Overall they get a B- for landing Melton late in the draft.

 

Indiana Pacers

Picks:

  • Aaron Holiday - PG - UCLA
  • Alize Johnson - PF  - Missouri State

 

Grade: C+

 

The Indiana Pacers really made some huge strides this past year with Victor Oladipo, but they need some more scoring help. Aaron Holiday (#38 on my big board) can definitely bring a scoring punch off the bench. I worry about his size and what he can do defensively, but his offensive skills will help him get playing time early. Alize Johnson was not in my top 60, but he does have some upside. He is still a long shot to make the roster, unless he does a two-way deal.

 

Los Angeles Clippers

Picks:

  • Shai Gilgeous-Alexander - PG - Kentucky (traded from Charlotte Hornets)
  • Jerome Robinson - SG - Boston College

 

Grade: B

 

The Los Angeles Clippers needed to find their next point guard after losing Chris Paul last season to Houston. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (#12 on my big board) was the top point guard available when they traded up to 11. I think he will start for them right away, and he has the potential to be an all-star caliber point guard. I expect his name to be in the running for Rookie of the Year. Jerome Robinson (#31 on my big board) should provide a scoring punch off the bench for the Clippers, but I feel like they reached drafting him in the lottery. They passed on guys like Zhaire Smith, Lonnie Walker IV and Anfernee Simons. Players that I feel have much more upside than Robinson. Looks like the Clippers wanted someone that could help them now, rather than developing one of those younger guys.

 

Los Angeles Lakers

Pick:

  • Moritz Wagner - PF/C - Michigan
  • Issac Bonga - SF -Skyliners Frankfurt (traded from Philadelphia 76ers)
  • Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk - SF - Kansas

 

Grades: D+

 

I think the Lakers had by far the worst draft of any team with multiple picks this year. Moritz Wagner (#44 on my big  board) is a decent big man, but was not worthy of a first round pick. He can stretch the floor offensively, but he really brings nothing else to the table. Very underwhelming first round pick for a team hoping to lure big name free agents this summer. Issac Bonga (#35 on my big board) was one of my favorite draft-and stash-players in the draft. Although that isn’t saying much this year because the international class was extremely weak. He may be the best piece they got in this years draft, and they had to give up a few second round picks to get him. Sviatslov Mykhailiuk was not ranked in my top 60, but he provides some shooting if he makes the team. He never lived up to the hype at Kansas, so I don’t expect that to change at the next level. Issac Bonga is the only piece preventing this draft class from being an F.

 

Memphis Grizzlies

Picks:

  • Jaren Jackson Jr.- PF/C - Michigan State
  • Jevon Carter - PG - West Virginia

 

Grade: A-

 

The Memphis Grizzlies desperately needed some young talent after a disappointing season. Jaren Jackson Jr. (#4 on my big board) was an excellent pick and may have the second highest ceiling of anyone in this draft, only behind Mo Bamba. There is so much potential there and I think he will be a superstar within the next 5 years. Jevon Carter (#55 on my big board) will be a solid bench player, and I expect him to get some playing time next season. His size is the one thing that concerns me at the next level. All that matters is the Grizzlies got their next franchise player, so they get an A- for the 2 picks.

 

 

Miami Heat

Picks:

  • None

 

Grade: None

 

Milwaukee Bucks

Picks:

  • Donte DiVincenzo - PG/SG - Villanova

 

Grade: B+

 

The Bucks really needed some scoring help for Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton. Donte DiVincenzo (#16 on my big board) will provide that for this team immediately. I think he will even push for a starting spot this season. If not, he will bring some 3-point shooting and energy off the bench. The Bucks still have a lot of work to do with their roster, but I thought their draft deserved a B+.

 

Minnesota Timberwolves

Picks:

  • Josh Okogie - SG - Georgia Tech
  • Keita Bates-Diop - SF - Ohio State

 

Grade: B+

 

The Timberwolves really needed a point guard, but they went with the best player available at 20. Josh Okogie (#11 on my big board) is my sleeper of the draft. I think he has the potential to shock some people like Donovan Mitchell did this season. If he isn’t starting this year, I expect Okogie to fill the void Jamal Crawford is leaving behind, as the sixth man. I thought Keita Bates-Diop (#29 on my big board) was a late first round talent, so Minnesota getting him in the second is great value. The Big Ten player of the year will give them some wing depth off the bench. Overall a great draft for the Timberwolves.

 

New Orleans Pelicans

Picks:

  • Tony Carr - PG - Penn State

 

Grade: C+

 

The Pelicans could use some help with their depth at the Point Guard position, and that is exactly the direction they went with their only draft pick this year. In the second round they selected Tony Carr (#43 on my big board), a point guard with some decent size and scoring ability. Some think he is a Shooting Guard, but I think he can develop into an NBA Point Guard. To get him in the 50’s is decent value. I don’t expect him to play much this season, but he will make the team.

 

New York Knicks

Picks:

  • Kevin Knox - SF - Kentucky
  • Mitchell Robinson - C - Western Kentucky

 

Grade: A-

 

The New York Knicks fans did not seem to like their draft picks, like usual, but I really liked the two players they selected. The Knicks used the #9 pick on Kevin Knox (#15 on my board), and I think he can make an immediate impact. Knox would have been rated higher if he had a better season at Kentucky, but he still has a ton of potential. He was one of the top rated players coming out of high school, and so was their second round pick Mitchell Robinson (#20 on my big board). He has some character issues, but has first round talent at Center. Getting two of my top 20 players is a pretty haul for the Knicks.

 

Oklahoma City Thunder

Picks:

  • Hamidou Diallo - SG - Kentucky (traded from Charlotte Hornets)
  • Devon Hall - SG - Virginia
  • Kevin Hervey - SG - Texas-Arlington

 

Grades: C+

 

The Thunder didn’t have a first round pick, but they used a second rounder get a guy with a lot of upside. Hamidou Diallo (#28 on my big board) is a Shooting Guard that really struggled at Kentucky, but was highly regarded coming out of high school. With the amount of players that struggle at Kentucky, and still succeed in the NBA, teams are willing to take a chance on guys like Diallo. I think he has a chance to stick on the roster, unlike the other two guys they drafted. Both Devon Hall and Kevin Hervey were not in my top 60. Overall this was a pretty average draft for the Thunder.

 

Orlando Magic

Picks:

  • Mohamed “Mo” Bamba - C - Texas
  • Melvin Fraizer - SG/SF - Tulane
  • Justin Jackson - SF - Maryland

 

Grade: A

 

Orlando had one of my favorite draft classes of any team this year. First of all they used the #6 pick on Mo Bamba (#2 on my big board). To me, he has the highest ceiling of anyone in this draft, and if he develops more in his offensive game he could be a superstar. Bamba is the franchise changing player the Magic have been looking for since Dwight Howard left. Him and Aaron Gordon in the front court could be a dangerous duo for many years to come. Melvin Fraizer (#22 on my big board) was one of my sleepers this year, so they got good value with him in the second round. Between him and Bamba, the Magic added two of the longest players in this draft. They also picked Justin Jackson, who did not make my top 60, but he could fight for a roster spot. I am assuming he ends up in the G-League this season.

 

Philadelphia 76ers

Picks:

  • Zhaire Smith - SG/SF - Texas Tech (traded from Phoenix Suns)
  • Landry Shamet - PG - Wichita State
  • Shake Milton - PG/SG - SMU (traded from Dallas Mavericks)

 

Grade: A-

 

Philadelphia already has an extremely talented young core that made it to the conference semifinals this season. They were gifted the Los Angeles Lakers lottery pick and made good use of it. The Sixers traded back frpm #10 to #16 with Phoenix and picked Zharie Smith (#10 on my big board). Smith is by far the best athlete in the draft, and showed potential to be a 2-way star. The most important part of the trade, though, was the unprotected 2021 Miami Heat first round pick they received. It sounds like they will use that as ammunition to trade for another star this off-season. Landry Shamet (#41 on my big board) and Shake Milton (#33 on my big board) are both good shooters at the guard position, and I expect them to compete for roster spots.

 

Phoenix Suns

 

Picks:

  • DeAndre Ayton - C - Arizona
  • Mikal Bridges - SF - Villanova (traded from Philadelphia 76ers)
  • Elie Okobo - PG - Pau-Lacq Orthez
  • George King - SG - Colorado

 

Grade: A+

 

Phoenix definitely had the best draft of any team, based on my player rankings. Everyone knew they were going to take DeAndre Ayton (#5 on my big board) at #1. He has a ton of talent on the offensive end, and could be one of the best Centers to come out in recent year. Ayton does need to work on his defense and effort in order to be the 2-way star Phoenix needs. They traded up to #10 with Philadelphia to take Mikal Bridges (#6 on my big board), and that to me was their best pick. He will make an immediate impact on both sides of the ball, and is a good fit next to their star Devin Booker. Bridges is probably the best 3-and-D prospect in the draft. Then they added Elie Okobo (#21 on my big board) early in the second round. He was the third best international prospect this year, and he could turn out to be the best draft-and-stash guy. Overall this was a great draft haul, but lets not forget they did give away an unprotected first rounder to Philadelphia. Good thing they have plenty of assets.

 

Portland Trail Blazers

Picks:

  • Anfernee Simons - PG/SG - IMG Academy
  • Gary Trent Jr. - SG - Duke (traded from Sacramento Kings)

 

Grade: B+

 

Portland really needed to get some front court help, but they decided to focus on the backcourt. I wonder if this is a sign they may go in a different direction from Damian Lillard, or C.J. McCollum. Anfernee Simons (#13 on my big board) was the mystery man of this draft, because he skipped college by doing a post grad year at prep school. He is still very raw, but he has a ton of potential to become a dynamic scoring guard in the league. Then they were able to add Gary Trent Jr. (#25 on my big board) in the second round. These are going to be great young guards to bring off the bench this season and Simons may end up being their future at Point Guard. Overall a pretty good draft talent-wise for Portland, but they do not get an A due to the roster fit.

 

Sacramento Kings

Picks:

  • Marvin Bagley III - PF - Duke

 

Grade: C-

 

The Sacramento Kings continue to make questionable decisions in the draft year after year. Marvin Bagley III (#7 on my big board) does have potential, but they picked him #2 overall. That is a reach to me, and could turn out to be costly when you are picking that high. I just don’t see any justification for selecting Bagley over Doncic, Jackson, or Bamba. We may look back at this decision and wonder what the Kings "could have been." Bagley is a good player, but the Kings get a C- for passing on 3 potential franchise changing players.

 

San Antonio Spurs

Picks:

  • Lonnie Walker IV - SG/SF - Miami
  • Chimezie Metu - C - USC

 

Grade: B+

 

The San Antonio Spurs always seem to find gems in the early/late first round. This year Lonnie Walker IV (#8 on my big board) fell into their laps at 19. Walker has a ton of upside, and could end up being the best wing player out of this draft. This is the steal of the first round. They got their potential replacement for Kawhi Leonard, if they end up trading him to an Eastern Conference team this off-season. The Spurs second round pick, Chimezie Metu (#49 on my big board), might make the team, but I expect him to sped most of his time in the G-League.

 

Toronto Raptors

Picks:

  • None

 

Grade: None

 

Utah Jazz

Picks:

  • Grayson Allen - SG - Duke

 

Grade: F

 

The Utah Jazz are a great up-and-coming team, but I really don’t like their draft this year. They only had one pick and ended up using it on Grayson Allen out of Duke, who is not in my top 60. The kid is known for his 3-point shooting, but his character issues and defense are huge question marks. It shocked me that Utah would use such a valuable pick on a kid that may not even be in the league in 4 years.

 

Washington Wizards

Picks:

  • Troy Brown - SF - Oregon
  • Issuf Sanon - PG - Petrol Olimpija

 

Grade: C

 

The Washington Wizards were in desperate need for an athletic big man to run with John Wall, but they decided to focus on their wing depth. Troy Brown (#40 on my big board) is a solid prospect, but I think they reached a bit by selecting him in the first round. The Wizards already have guys like Otto Porter, Kelly Oubre and Markieff Morris at the Small Forward position. Why use another high pick on that position? Issuf Sanon (#56 on my big board) is a decent draft-and-stash player. He won’t be coming over any time soon, though.


1 comment

  • Very solid draft analysis done here. I personally think the Mavs had the best draft with both Phoenix & Philadelphia right behind. Orlando also had some nice draft picks as well.

    Tony Bowen

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