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2017 NBA Draft Grades

The dust has finally settled, and the 2017 NBA Draft has come and gone. This year’s draft was one of the most loaded in recent memory and could be fruitful for a good chunk of the league. With six potential stars in the draft, 20 percent of the league may have just added a vital piece to winning a championship.

Note: The Cleveland Cavaliers and the Washington Wizards did not have a selection in the 2017 NBA Draft.

Atlanta Hawks: B-

John Collins, Tyler Dorsey, Alpha Kaba

The Hawks’ selection of John Collins makes perfect sense, even if it was an overdraft. With Paul Millsap looking more and more likely to leave Atlanta, Collins will be able to come in and develop on the fly as the Hawks’ four of the future. He will need to play with a stretch five in the future, but right now, need is not a big concern for the rebuilding Hawks. Dorsey will add some quality outside shooting, while Kaba is merely a draft-and-stash.

Boston Celtics: C-

Jayson Tatum, Semi Ojeleye, Kadeem Allen, Jabari Bird

The Celtics’ selection of Jayson Tatum is a headscratcher, to say the least. Tatum has limited upside and is not a good fit next to Al Horford. He will need the ball in his hands to be effective, which will limit Isaiah Thomas’ effectiveness. Boston’s selections in the second round and acquisition of the Kings/Lakers’ pick prevented this grade from being worse. Semi Ojeleye may go down as one of the biggest steals in the draft class.

Brooklyn Nets: A+

Jarrett Allen, Aleksandar Vezekov

Given the circumstances, the Brooklyn Nets hit an absolute home run in this draft. The Nets’ trade for D’Angelo Russell is the big selling point in this class. Russell still has incredible potential, and Kenny Atkinson is the kind of coach who can coax it out of him. Taking on the extra two years of Mozgov’s contract and moving Brook Lopez was a no-brainer. Picking Jarrett Allen also gives the Nets a potential defensive anchor and PnR partner for Russell for years to come.

Charlotte Hornets: A+

Malik Monk, Dwayne Bacon

While I don’t think much of Dwayne Bacon, his selection is still not enough for me to knock the Hornets down from an A+. Their selection of Malik Monk was an easy choice with the way the board fell, and it gives Kemba Walker the talented backcourt partner he desperately needs. Monk’s ability to play off of the ball will be vital with Walker’s and Nicolas Batum’s passing ability. He should make an immediate impact as a sixth man, with a starting role not being a surprise by the season’s end.

Chicago Bulls: F

Lauri Markkanen

I still don’t understand what the Bulls were doing on draft night. The trade of Jimmy Butler was bad to begin with, netting only Zach Lavine as a player with any real upside. Kris Dunn could still be a starter in the league, but he shouldn’t be the second-best piece in a trade for a top-10 player. Markkanen was a reach at seven, especially considering the Bulls passed on two star talents in Monk and Dennis Smith Jr. Chicago would have been better off just taking Lavine at seven and picking Smith or Monk. Not only that, they gave up an extra asset in the 16th pick in the Butler trade. Draft night was not a good night for the Bulls, and their future and direction is in serious doubt. And don’t forget, they also sold the 38th pick to the defending champs. Nicely done, Chicago.

Dallas Mavericks: A+

Dennis Smith Jr.

The Mavericks had only one pick in the draft, but they made the most of it. Dennis Smith Jr. has high upside, even though he struggled defensively in college. Smith will enter a situation where he will have to defend if he wants to see the floor, and he has the perfect coach to teach him to defend. Rick Carlisle should get the most out of Smith, and if he does, the sky is the limit for Smith and his potential PnR partner Nerlens Noel.

Denver Nuggets: B-

Tyler Lydon, Vlatko Cancar, Monte Morris

While the Nuggets didn’t have the flashiest draft, they had an efficient one. Tyler Lydon could develop into a solid stretch four in the NBA, while Monte Morris could come in and immediately challenge for minutes at the one. His passing ability and ball security should make it easier for him to last in the NBA. The Nuggets also acquired Trey Lyles when they traded down, and Lyles should be able to step in right away at the four and start next to Nikola Jokic.

Detroit Pistons: D-

Luke Kennard

There isn’t a whole lot to say about this one. The Pistons reached on a player who was great in college but doesn’t have a ton of translatable skill. Kennard can shoot, and can shoot well, but that’s his limit. His wingspan is shorter than his height, which is a bad mix defensively. Not only that, but the Pistons still hold the right to match any offer to Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who is only three years older than Kennard, and better at, well, everything. This pick doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, unless the Pistons were looking to solidify themselves as a treadmill team.

Golden State Warriors: A+

Jordan Bell

The Warriors came into the offseason needing to find young, cheap players who can fill a role. They especially needed someone to protect the rim with Javale McGee entering free agency. Bell is just that. He can switch three through five defensively, while also protecting the rim. He is the perfect fit next to the Warriors’ big four, and it would not be a surprise to see him starting in the 2018 NBA Finals.

Houston Rockets: C+

Isaiah Hartenstein

There isn’t a whole lot to say about Hartenstein and the Rockets. While Hartenstein can shoot well and appears to be a perfect fit in Mike D’Antoni’s offense, he’s still not ready. He will most likely spend next season overseas, with the possibility of coming over next year. Regardless, it’s still a good pick for a team trying to conserve cap space to make a run at big-name free agents.

Indiana Pacers: B+

T.J. Leaf, Ike Anigbogu, Edmund Sumner

With Paul George’s inevitable departure, the Pacers did a good job of taking some risks on players with high upside. Leaf is a nice fit next to Myles Turner as a spot-up shooter and good athlete who can run to the rim. That should help open the paint for Turner to develop his post game even more. Anigbogu has a ton of upside as a five and reportedly fell because of a knee injury. Sumner is a quality combo guard who also fell because of a torn ACL this past season. He has the chance to be a very good sixth man if his recovery goes well.

Los Angeles Clippers: A-

Jawun Evans, Sindarius Thornwell

The Clippers did a good job of getting two players with upside in the second round. With the impending free agencies of Blake Griffin and JJ Redick, and Chris Paul now in Houston, the direction of the Clippers is unknown. Evans is a nice option to replace Paul, while also showing some quality upside, and Thornwell would make the team more defensively oriented at the wing.

Los Angeles Lakers: A+

Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart, Thomas Bryant

It’s hard to criticize a team for its draft when they take the second-best player with the second pick. The Lakers added two players that could potentially start this year in Ball and Hart. Ball will almost assuredly be handed the keys to the offense, while Hart is an ideal fit next to him in the backcourt as a 3-and-D player. Kuzma should fight Julius Randle for minutes thanks to his shooting ability, while Bryant gives the Lakers a potential backup five behind Brook Lopez.

Memphis Grizzlies: B-

Ivan Rabb, Dillon Brooks

The Grizzlies made an interesting selection when they took Ivan Rabb. Rabb is not the best fit for today’s NBA, as a four with no perimeter game, or an undersized five who lacks athleticism. He does crash the glass well, and learning behind Zach Randolph can’t hurt. In Brooks, they get a shooter that they hope can develop better as a defender in the long run.

Miami Heat: D-

Bam Adebayo

Miami’s pick of Adebayo is an odd one. Adebayo is a five as things stand because he has limited range on offense and prefers to bang in the post. That makes his fit next to Hassan Whiteside a big question mark. Adebayo will have to develop range if he wants to find the floor as anything more than a backup five for the Heat.

Milwaukee Bucks: B-

D.J. Wilson, Sterling Brown

While the Bucks made two good picks, they could have done better in the first round. OG Anunoby was available, but instead they passed to take Wilson, a versatile defender that flashed a stroke from beyond the arc. It jives with their position-less approach, but so did Anunoby. Brown is a quality 3-and-D prospect who was overlooked by many throughout the draft process.

Minnesota Timberwolves: A+

Justin Patton

The Wolves made a good pick in Justin Patton, who can play next to Karl-Anthony Towns and also come off of the bench, but that’s not the real story here. Minnesota receives this grade because of their trade for Jimmy Butler. Butler immediately vaults them into the playoffs, with a top five seed not being out of the question. The fact that they did that and still were able to pick in the middle of the first round makes this grade an easy one.

New Orleans Pelicans: A-

Frank Jackson

The Pelicans need some high-upside players to pair with Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins, and Jackson fits that mold. His ability to create his own shot and defend will be a big asset to the Pelicans. If his court vision develops, he could be a mainstay as Jrue Holiday’s replacement in New Orleans.

New York Knicks: C+

Frank Ntilikina, Damyean Dotson, Ognjen Jaramaz

The Knicks made a nice pick in Ntilikina, but they passed on a potential superstar in Malik Monk, which knocks down their grade. Ntilikina is the perfect fit for the outdated triangle offense and should have success fairly quickly in New York, as long as Kristaps Porzingis is still around. Dotson is a knockdown shooter with some good size who can contribute off of the bench behind Courtney Lee. Jaramaz is a real person, I assume, who I had never heard of prior to the draft, so I won’t pretend to know how he plays.

Oklahoma City Thunder: C-

Terrance Ferguson

The Thunder had only one pick, and it was a very average one. While Ferguson possesses some upside, this is a team that needs to win now, given their cap situation. Ferguson will most likely spend a lot of next year in the G-League, which won’t help the current Thunder at all. If he does develop into a star, this is obviously worth it, but there were much safer picks (Josh Hart) that could have helped the Thunder now and into the future.

Orlando Magic: A+

Jonathan Isaac, Wesley Iwundu

If I could give the Magic a grade higher than an A+, I would. Orlando came away from the draft with two of my top 20 players, including my third overall player in Isaac. Isaac could make Aaron Gordon expendable, but they could also develop well together with Isaac at the three. His unselfishness and defense should help Orlando right away. Iwundu will almost assuredly begin as a bench wing, but could replace Evan Fournier if the Magic decide to move him. Iwundu, Isaac, and Gordon could be the two, three, and four for the Magic for a very long time.

Philadelphia 76ers: A+

Markelle Fultz, Anzejs Pasecniks, Jonah Bolden, Mathias Lessort

The Sixers are another team where their first pick makes it hard not to give them an A+. Fultz is the best player in the draft and has incredible upside. He fits perfectly next to Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid because he excels both on and off of the ball. He has defensive upside that Brett Brown should be able to get out of him. Pasecniks is a head scratcher as draft-and-stash scoring big who can’t defend, but he runs the floor well. It’s a head scratcher because of his poor defense, especially with quality wings and guards available. Jonah Bolden is a good stretch four who could be a nice backup, while Lessort is a bulldozing rebounder who will spend next year overseas.

Phoenix Suns: A+

Josh Jackson, Davon Reed, Alec Peters

File this one with the Sixers as a team who did too well at the top to get less than an A+. Jackson is an ideal fit next to Devin Booker as a quality defender who can run in transition and pass the ball at a high-level. Reed is a good 3-and-D prospect, and Peters is a good scorer who will struggle on the defensive end in the NBA.

Portland Trail Blazers: D+

Zach Collins, Caleb Swanigan

I don’t really understand the Collins pick, especially because of how Jusuf Nurkic played down the stretch. Collins needs to develop as a shooter to play the four in the NBA, and until he does that, he’s an extremely poor fit next to Nurkic, who likes to camp in the paint. Swanigan is actually a more ideal fit because he showed more ability to stretch the floor, while also showing a lot of tenacity on the boards.

Sacramento Kings: C+

De’Aaron Fox, Justin Jackson, Harry Giles, Frank Mason

This grade will not be a popular one. I am not as high on Fox as most, and I think that the Kings would have been much better served taking Smith Jr. at 5. His shot is a big question mark, and if he never develops it, he’s a backup point guard in today’s game. Jackson is an odd fit at 15 because of the Kings’ love for Buddy Hield. Both will have to guard twos, and Anunoby would’ve been the better pick. Mason is a backup point in the NBA who can provide leadership and instant offense off of the bench. I do love the Giles pick as a player with incredible upside who will face limited expectations in Sacramento.

San Antonio Spurs: A-

Derrick White, Jaron Blossomgame

The Spurs continue to kill the draft. White is a great pick at 29, as a shooter who has the length and enough athleticism to develop into a good defender. He could be the replacement for Danny Green, who has only one year left on his contract. Blossomgame is the inverse of White, as a good defender who has good length, while flashing some ability to shoot from deep.

Toronto Raptors: A

OG Anunoby

The Raptors got one of the steals of the draft when Anunoby fell to them. As a team with an uncertain future given the impending free agency of Kyle Lowry, Anunoby should have ample time to recover and develop with low expectations. He is a versatile defender who can guard one through five, while also flashing a jumpshot that can be worked on during his recovery.

Utah Jazz: B+

Donovan Mitchell, Tony Bradley, Nigel Williams-Goss

The Jazz made a good decision when they traded Trey Lyles and the 24th pick to move up to 13 for Mitchell. He has the potential to be one of the best guard defenders in the league, and also has a good, but streaky, shot from deep. His best comparison is the man he may be replacing, George Hill. Bradley is another quality pick as an energy big who can come off of the bench and provide rebounds and defense. Williams-Goss is an above average defender who needs to extend his range and develop his offensive game if he wants to stick in the NBA.

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