NBA Draft Grades – Western Conference Edition

The 2018 NBA Draft has concluded and it was wild. Players were reached for; players fell. Some players will be stars; others will be busts. Nobody knows how we’re going to feel about the draft in ten years, but here are my guesses how each draft class will turn out in the Western Conference.

Houston Rockets

Pick 46 – De’Anthony Melton – USC – Grade: A-

De’Anthony Melton is a perfect fit with the Rockets. He’s a fast break threat who excels defensively. He’s a great passer and is very athletic for his size. His only notable weakness is his jump shot, which will be overlooked when surrounded by shooting in Houston. He’s essentially a young Chris Paul minus the jump shot. Great job Houston.

Pick 52 – Vincent Edwards – Purdue – Grade: B+

While Vincent Edwards may appear a reach, he is the perfect modern small-ball four for today’s NBA. He is most well known for his perimeter shooting and rebounding with a 6’8″ frame. He was the first player in Purdue history to total 1500 points, 700 rebounds, and 500 assists; truly a do-it-all player.

Overall Grade: B+

Golden State Warriors

Pick 28 – Jacob Evans – Cincinnati – Grade: A-

Jacob Evans is a classic Warriors pick. Essentially a younger and more focused Nick Young, Evans is a perfect fit with the former Champions. He’ll shoot, defend, and play any role needed for Golden State. Once again, a great job.

Overall Grade: A-

Portland Trail Blazers

Pick 24 – Anfernee Simons – IMG Academy – Grade: C+

There’s nothing wrong with Anfernee Simons; he just doesn’t make a lot of sense with Portland’s current situation. The Trail Blazers need guys who will make an immediate impact, not guys who haven’t even played in college and will need to develop in the G-League. We’ll see if Simons can take advantage of his youth and make an impact sooner rather than later.

Pick 37 – Gary Trent Jr. – Duke – Grade: B

Gary Trent is actually a great fit with Portland. He’s a guy who WILL make an immediate impact and knock down shots when they need it most. I have a problem with the trade that was made to acquire him, however. The Blazers sent away two future second-round picks to Sacramento. With the Blazers potentially entering a rebuild, they could regret the move in the future, already lacking picks.

Overall Grade: B-

Oklahoma City Thunder

Pick 53 – Devon Hall – Virginia – Grade: B-

The guy is a shooter; nothing more, nothing less. Don’t expect him to breakout to be a 15 point per game scorer who can defend multiple positions. That isn’t his game and the Thunder are okay with that. The guy is here to shoot threes and hope not to exposed on defense.

Pick 57 – Kevin Hervey – UT-Arlington – Grade: C-

Kevin Hervey may struggle to find a role in the NBA. Used to being the go-to guy at one of the smallest athletic programs in the country at UT-Arlington, Hervey is going to be forced into a role that he won’t fit in. It’s going to be uncomfortable and maybe ugly to watch at times. Without even mentioning that the 22-year-old has already gone through two ACL surgeries, the pick looks shaky.

Overall Grade: C

Utah Jazz

Pick 21 – Grayson Allen – Duke – Grade: B+

Grayson Allen is a great fit in Utah and will certainly be embraced by the young, defensive-minded, scrappy Jazz team. The Jazz are beginning to build a reputation for defense and shooting surrounding their two stars in Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert. Great fit.

Overall Grade: B+

New Orleans Pelicans

Pick 51 – Tony Carr – Penn State – Grade: B+

Tony Carr is a classic NBA sixth man. He’s a little big to play the point guard at 6’5″ yet still not big enough to play shooting guard full-time at only 200 pounds. Carr is known for his jumpshot, as he shot 43% from beyond the arc during his sophomore season at Penn State. He could provide a lot of energy for a Pelicans team in need of depth and young talent.

Overall Grade: B+

San Antonio Spurs

Pick 18 – Lonnie Walker IV – Miami – Grade: B+

Lonnie Walker IV is a great value for the Spurs at the eighteenth pick. I’ve compared Walker to Donovan Mitchell who was selected in a similar range of picks last season. Both high-volume scoring guards who can score from anywhere on the floor, Walker could be the breakout rookie this season too. That is if the Spurs give him that freedom. If any other team selected Walker eighteenth, that’s an easy A; I’m just not sure where Walker fits in with a Spurs team who likes to avoid isolation. Popovich should figure it out, I guess.

Pick 49 – Chimezie Metu – USC – Grade: A-

I’m going to get a lot of hate for this, but Chimezie Metu reminds me of a young Tim Duncan minus the post game. Despite not being the biggest guy with most ridiculous physical attributes, Metu takes advantage of his deceptive athleticism to block shots and finish inside. He has been working on a three-point shot and while it may not be ready yet, his mid-range game is strong.

Overall Grade: B+

Minnesota Timberwolves

Pick 20 – Josh Okogie – Georgia Tech – Grade: B

I’m a big fan of Josh Okogie. I think he’s the perfect 3&D player for the Timberwolves to add. However, I just can’t come to terms with some of the talents they passed upon to select a guy who was generally regarded as a second-round pick. Grayson Allen, Chandler Hutchison, Jacob Evans, and many other highly ranked 3&D prospects were available, yet the Wolves decided on the Georgia Tech product.

Pick 48 – Keita Bates-Diop – Ohio State – Grade: A+

When it comes to the late second round, you should throw team fit out the window. The best overall player should be number one on your draft board, and Keita Bates-Diop was that guy. Bates-Diop was bordering on becoming a first-round pick after a very successful season at Ohio State where he won the Big Ten Player of the Year award. Even if he doesn’t work out, props to the Timberwolves for taking the best player available.

Overall Grade: B+

Denver Nuggets

Pick 14 – Michael Porter Jr. – Missouri – Grade: A+

I was considering Michael Porter Jr. as the best prospect in the draft. Falling to the fourteenth may have created the greatest value for a draft pick in NBA history (yeah, seriously). Sure. There may be injury troubles, but for a guy who was previously the number one ranked player in his class, fourteen is a steal.

Pick 41 – Jarred Vanderbilt – Kentucky – Grade: B+

Vanderbilt is a solid 3&D player. He was a pretty good value at the 41st pick and immediately fills a need for the Nuggets.

Pick 58 – Thomas Welsh – UCLA – Grade: C+

Welsh is a confusing pick for the Nuggets. While he improved every single year of college and even began shooting threes last season, Welsh doesn’t provide the Nuggets anything intriguing. Welsh doesn’t have the strength to play center and can’t be depended enough offensively to play off of another center. He’s an odd pick and will need a perfect fit to make an impact, but maybe the Nuggets know something we don’t.

Overall Grade: A

Los Angeles Clippers

Pick 11 – Shai Gilgeous-Alexander – Kentucky – Grade: C+

Of the three point guards available, Gilgeous-Alexander was probably my least favorite. He doesn’t do anything especially well and doesn’t fit perfectly with the Clippers. I just don’t entirely understand the action of trading away two second-round picks for a player who surely didn’t have the talent of another player available (Michael Porter Jr.)

Pick 13 – Jerome Robinson – Boston College – Grade: D

Here’s where it really goes downhill for the Clippers. They had two chances to select a franchise-altering player with Michael Porter sitting right there for them. Instead, the Clippers traded two second-rounders to draft an awkward point guard and follow it up with a redundant selection of another scoring wing. Lou Williams has already re-signed with the Clippers and plays a very similar style to Robinson. I’m just not sure where Robinson fits in this offense alongside Williams and Gilgeous-Alexander.

Overall Grade: C-

Los Angeles Lakers

Pick 25 – Moritz Wagner – Michigan – Grade: B-

While I can’t deny Wagner’s talent, I don’t think he’ll be a great fit in the NBA. In his time at Michigan, he took advantage of smaller players in the post and larger players who couldn’t move as well on the perimeter. Unfortunately, at the next level, Wagner will be the smaller guy in the post and the slower guy on the perimeter. Let’s see if he can find a niche in Los Angeles.

Pick 39 – Isaac Bonga – Germany – Grade: A-

Isaac Bonga has been one of my favorite second-round prospects throughout the entire draft process. Often times, comparisons don’t mean much. There’s always a J.R. Smith comparison (like Mario Hezonja and Zhaire Smith). There’s always a Kevin Durant comparison (like Michael Beasley and Michael Porter Jr). We all see how those guys worked out. Bonga, however, really plays like Giannis Antetokounmpo. By no means do I think Bonga will be better than Giannis is, but their playstyles are very similar and Bonga could be very special after a couple of years in the G-League.

Pick 47 – Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk – Kansas – Grade: A+

Mykhailiuk was another one of my favorite prospects. With the size and shooting ability of Klay Thompson, Mykhailiuk should make an immediate impact from beyond the arc. Especially if the Lakers manage to create a super team, Mykhailiuk could end up playing a prominent role in the NBA day one.

Overall Grade: B+

Sacramento Kings

Pick 2 – Marvin Bagley III – Duke – Grade: A+

When you select the best player in the draft with the second overall pick, life is good. Bagley notified the Kings that he was interested in playing for Sacramento. We don’t have to be worried about betrayal or unenthusiastic players (like Doncic [no offense Doncic fans]). Bagley, to me, seems like Willie Cauley-Stein with a jump shot. That’s a perfect fit with our current roster, and will hopefully be the guy who drags us to the playoffs.

Overall Grade: A+

Dallas Mavericks

Pick 3 – Luka Doncic – Slovenia – Grade: B+

My distaste for Doncic has been very public. I don’t see him becoming anything more than a solid sixth man at the next level due to his lack of speed off the dribble. Whether you’re Stephen Curry, James Harden, Russell Westbrook, John Wall, or even Lebron James, all elite ball-handlers can drive from the three-point line to the rim in less than a second. Speed off the dribble is an essential piece of the NBA, and Doncic will not become a star without it. That being said, he wasn’t going to drop past three, so it wasn’t an awful value.

Pick 33 – Jalen Brunson – Villanova – Grade: A+

Jalen Brunson is the next Frank Mason. Every single year, there’s some small point guard out there who absolutely dominated the college scene. Whether that be winning national player of the year like Mason or winning two national titles like Brunson, they were the best players in their league just one year ago. People act like they won’t carry their games over to the next level due to a lack of size, experience, athleticism, or some other ridiculous excuse. Brunson will be great. Trust me.

Pick 56 – Ray Spalding – Louisville – Grade: B+

Spalding doesn’t appear to have an identity on offense, but his defense is spectacular. After averaging more than a block and a steal last season at 6’10”, Spalding has the opportunity to become a lockdown defender at the next level.

Pick 60 – Kostas Antetokounmpo – Dayton – Grade: A-

Sure there may have been higher ranked or safer options available at the end of the draft, but we’re talking about the last pick in the draft. Giannis’ brother is an awesome storyline for the Mavericks, even if it means just selling some more G-League tickets for a couple of seasons. Why not?

Overall Grade: A-

Memphis Grizzlies

Pick 4 – Jaren Jackson Jr. – Michigan State – Grade: C+

I’ve never been a huge fan of Jaren Jackson Jr. as I don’t believe he has a legitimate game on either side of the floor. Sure. He makes threes and can block shots, but he doesn’t seem to be a difference maker on either side of the floor. He’s too skinny to grab rebounds consistently, he hasn’t shown the ability to dribble, and he isn’t a great perimeter defender yet. When you put all that together along with his awkward fit in Memphis, it doesn’t look great for Jackson/

Pick 32 – Jevon Carter – West Virginia – Grade: B+

This was a guy that I’d barely heard of before a couple of days ago. Apparently, he’s a lockdown perimeter defender with a lot of heart at only 6’1″. He racks up steals and has improved a jump shooter the past couple of years. The Grizzlies refuse to leave the grit and grind completely, so Carter fits their system well.

Overall Grade: B-

Phoenix Suns

Pick 1 – Deandre Ayton – Arizona – Grade: A-

Deandre Ayton seems like a carbon copy of Karl-Anthony Towns. While his offensive capabilities down low are unmatched by anyone in the draft, he appears to get lost on defense fairly often. Hopefully, he turns it on at the next level, but as of right now, I prefer Bagley.

Pick 10 – Mikal Bridges – Villanova – Grade: A

Mikal Bridges is a plug-in player who will certainly have a lengthy career. The consensus for the two-time national champion is that he will provide floor spacing and defense at the next level. He’s the perfect guy alongside Booker and Ayton, so why not throw in an extra first-round pick to acquire the perfect fit?

Pick 31 – Elie Okobo – France – Grade: A-

I don’t know a ton about Okobo, but a lot of analysts love him. A lot of mocks saw him going around the top-20, so 31 is a great value for the French point guard. He will clearly spend some more time developing overseas, so why not take a small risk with your third pick of the night?

Pick 59 – George King – Colorado – Grade: C+

According to the Suns, this is a 100% developmental pick. While I hate to be too judgemental on late second round picks, I just can’t believe the Suns would select a completely unproven forward from a small basketball program when one of Ayton’s best teammates was still available in Rawle Alkins. In the late second-round, I look for storylines, and the Suns missed a great one tonight.

Overall Grade: A-

 

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