2018 NBA Draft grades and post-draft analysis for every team
Every year we usually come out with a Mock Draft but this year we are switching it up and doing draft grades for each team. 48 hours has passed since the draft and that is more than enough time for the dust to settle on some of these decisions. While there was very little movement in the trade department, this draft was deep enough to produce some difference makers that will make an immediate impact next season.
Atlanta Hawks: B
With all the new changes in the organization, including a new head coach and GM, the Hawks opted to go with possibly the biggest boom or bust player in the draft in Trae Young. If you are on the side that thinks he will be the next Stephen Curry, then the Hawks made a no brainer decision by trading the rights to Euro-sensation Luka Doncic for Young and a future lottery-protected first round pick in 2019.
If you are on the side that thinks Young is too small and thin to guard the cream of the NBA guard crop night in and night out, then this could turn out to be a pick that the Hawks will regret for years to come. I for one think that Young’s shooting and elite passing ability will translate to the NBA game and he will be able to thrive a la Steph Curry. Bonus points for picking up an extra first round pick by moving down just two spots.
Boston Celtics: A-
This is a case of a the rich getting richer. Danny Ainge who consistently dominates drafts (he fleeced the 76ers last year when he traded down for Jayson Tatum) wasn’t able to move into the lottery, but stood pat and had one of the best big men in the draft fall into his lap at pick No. 27.
Robert Williams has the ability step in right away and catch lobs from Kyrie and protect the rim, something that the Celtics were sorely lacking last season. Ainge does it again.
Brooklyn Nets: D
The Nets new GM Sean Marks went heavy on the international talent by selecting the high-scoring Dzanan Musa out of Bosnia in the first round and versatile big man Rodions Kurucs out of Latvia in the second. It remains to be seen how these two players will pan out, but I am skeptical that they will be able to adapt to the NBA style of play right away.
Charlotte Hornets: F
I just can’t give MJ and the rest of the Hornets front office the benefit of the doubt here after their long track record of underwhelming lottery picks. MJ himself is infamous for making bad draft day decisions, and he will be forever be known as the guy in Charlotte who wanted and drafted Malik Monk over the consensus organization’s favorite Donovan Mitchell (we all know how that turned out). This time they take Kentucky freshman point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and trade him for athletic wingman Miles Bridges from Michigan State. Bridges could be a solid player but why not go with the future All-Star potential of a Michael Porter Jr. instead?
Chicago Bulls: C+
The Bulls went with the solid selection of Wendell Carter Jr. out of Duke who will fit in well next to sharp-shooting big man Lauri Markkanen. Carter is a center who can step out and shoot threes while also adding rebounding and shot blocking. He should steph in the starting role and be an anchor on the Bulls frontline for years to come. In the late first round they got another potential starter in Boise State wingman Chandler Hutchison who some experts are comparing to Bulls legend Scottie Pippen for his perimeter defense.
Cleveland Cavaliers: B+
The Young Bull Collin Sexton is already making big moves in Cleveland, recruiting LeBron to stay on national tv after just getting drafted and then taking Kyrie Irving’s No.2 jersey the very next day. It is clear that Sexton is not lacking in confidence which makes me compare him favorably to a young Russell Westbrook for his ability to attack the rim and play 100 mph. It remains to be seen whether or not the precocious point guard will play with King James next season, but he is off to a bullish start to his Cavs career.
Dallas Mavericks: A
The Mavs front office took a big leap of faith by trading away a 2019 first round pick to move up two spots to draft Luka Doncic, who many experts believe is the best player in this draft (by the way, have you seen his mom?). Doncic is only 19 but has been the best player in Europe this year, winning a Euroleague title and MVP of the Eurocup heading into the draft. Doncic is one of the most skilled players to enter the league in a long time and should be an instant star in Dallas.
Denver Nuggets: A
The only reason I did not give this grade an A+ is because there is a chance that Michael Porter Jr. takes a redshirt season a la Ben Simmons to fully recover and heal from a back injury that derailed his freshman campaign at Missouri. At No. 14, MPJ is an absolute steal for the Nuggets as he was once considered the favorite to be the number one overall pick after being ranked the top high school recruit in the nation. Porter has the size, athleticism and shooting ability to become a poor man’s Kevin Durant, which is something the Nuggets would be very pleased with at the end of the lottery.
Detroit Pistons: B
The Pistons got great value in the second round by snagging defensive guard Khyri Thomas out of Creighton and Bruce Brown out of Miami to add depth to their backcourt. Getting two players in the second round who will likely play meaningful minutes in the backcourt next season is a plus despite having no first round picks.
Golden State Warriors: B+
In a deep draft, the Warriors managed to stand pat at the end of the first round and land a player in Josh Evans that will contribute right away like Jordan Bell and Patrick McCaw before him (both were high second round picks). I see Evans taking minutes away from the Swag Champ Nick Young who will be a little long in the tooth at 33 years old next season.
Houston Rockets: A-
Melton is a steal for the Rockets at No. 46 and should be able to contribute right away with his excellent defense and size for a point guard. The USC product did it all for the Trojans and will be tasked to bother the Warriors’ Stephen Curry next season in the backcourt.
Indiana Pacers: B
The Pacers snagged the third Holiday brother who will now be in the NBA, making them the envy of LaVar Ball himself. It is no secret that the Pacers needed a point guard for the future, and got a steal with Holiday at the 23rd pick. Holiday can score and run the team while giving them an influx of youth to replace former Bruin Darren Collison.
L.A. Clippers: D
After parting with Blake Griffin last season, you would think that the Clippers would go for the potential star power of a Michael Porter Jr. to fill the seats in Hollywood. With two back to back lottery picks, the Clips chose to trade for Kentucky point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander in a trade with the Hornets and then select Boston College shooting guard Jerome Robinson out of Boston College, who many saw as a late first round early second round selection. The picks could end up panning out but I think the Clips should have rolled the dice on a player who could turn into a bigger star.
L.A. Lakers: C+
The Lakers went with experienced college players with European backgrounds drafting Moritz Wagner, a sweet shooting big man out of Michigan and Svi Mykhailiuk out of Kansas in the second round. It is possible that these players will be used as a valuable sign and trade assets with free agency right around the corner.
Memphis Grizzlies: C
Memphis went with defensive big man Jaren Jackson with the fourth pick and added another defensive guard in the second with Jevon Carter. Jackson is the best perimeter defender of all the bigs in the draft and can truly guard positions 1 through 5. If his offensive game catches up to his defense, he could turn into an All-Star, but he still has a long way to go to reach that potential in Memphis.
Miami Heat: Incomplete
The Heat had no picks in this years draft.
Milwaukee Bucks: C
Donte DiVincenzo was the darling of the NCAA tournament after leading Villanova to a national championship with 31 points and moved his way up draft boards with a dominant combine performance. It is safe to say that the sophomore shooting guard has had quite the run in the past couple months and should find a way to provide an instant spark for a young Bucks team off the bench.
Minnesota T-Wolves: A-
The T-Wolves added two nice additions to their already ferocious young pack with OSU shooting guard Josh Okogie in the first round and got an absolute steal in the second round with Big 10 POY Keita Bates Diop who should be able to provide front court depth sooner rather than later. Great value picks for Tom Thibodeau and the Minnesota front office.
New Orleans Pelicans: C-
Nothing flashy here as the Pels take Penn State point guard Tony Carr in the second round. Carr has good size for the point guard position and should spell the aging Rajon Rondo next season while adding another three point shooter off the bench.
New York Knicks: B-
Knox was not the fan favorite per usual and received a chorus of boos at the Barclay’s Center on draft day. At 6-9 with a 7-foot wingspan, Knox has the potential to turn into an All-Star and is the youngest player in the draft at only 18 years old. He is still 3 years away from being the player the Knicks are hoping him to be, but his talent is undeniable and he will grow into an impact player in the Big Apple.
Oklahoma City Thunder: B
The Thunder got deeper after this draft, landing three players who will likely make the team and contribute as 3 and D players on the perimeter. I like the fact that they gambled and took a chance on Kentucky’s Hamidou Diallo who has first round talent and can excel in the NBA once his skills catch up to his elite athleticism.
Orlando Magic: C-
Mo Bamba is going to be a nice defensive piece for the Magic front court alongside rising star Aaron Gordon who is due for a breakout season if healthy. The one thing they did not address is their need for a point guard which will hurt them next season as they were already one of the worst offensive teams in the NBA. The Bamba pick does little to change that.
Philadelphia 76ers: F
The 76ers get an F for the absolutely classless way they handled the Mikal Bridges situation. If you don’t know what happened, Google it. Drafting another point guard at the end of the first round doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence in last year’s top pick Markelle Fultz, who was recently diagnosed with a case of the yips during the season. Yikes.
Phoenix Suns: A-
It is no secret that the Suns were going to make Ayton the top pick after a dominant year at Arizona. Simply put, Ayton was a man amongst boys and has the physical tools to get 20 and 10 in the NBA from day 1. He is also able to step out to the perimeter for threes and is a terror on the glass with his elite athleticism. Stealing the aforementioned Bridges from the 76ers was another shrewd move for the Suns front office, who should be doing everything they can to put talent next to budding superstar Devin Booker.
Portland Trail Blazers: B-
The Blazers went with the best talent available taking a chance on high school point guard Anfernee Simons at the end of the first round and trading for college sharpshooter Gary Trent Jr. at the top of the second. Simons should develop into a starting caliber point guard under the tutelage of NBA All-star Damian Lillard. Trent Jr. also gives them instant off the ball scoring and provides some insurance for C.J. McCollum.
Sacramento Kings: B
If Luka Doncic turns out to be a perennial All-Star then this will turn out to be a terrible pick, but all signs point to Bagley being a solid 20/10 guy for the foreseeable future. You could argue that Bagley is the most athletic player in the draft and also has a formidable outside shot that defenses have to respect. The Kings played it safe and should be able to justify the pick, they just have to hope that Doncic doesn’t turn into a franchise savior in Dallas.
San Antonio Spurs: B-
The Spurs front office gets value late in the first round once again, landing Miami’s Lonnie Walker who immediately provides a spark in the backcourt and was once projected for the lottery.
Toronto Raptors: Incomplete
The Raptors did not make any picks in the draft.
Utah Jazz: C
Jazz rookie sensation Donovan Mitchell played against Grayson Allen in college and was on hand to co-sign this pick on national television. Had Allen not stayed at Duke for for years he may have been drafted higher, but he will be able to step in right away and play meaningful minutes in the Jazz backcourt with his three point shooting ability. Let’s just hope he avoids leading the league in trips next season.
Washington Wizards: D
Picking Oregon’s Troy Brown at No.15 and a mysterious Ukrainian point guard at No. 44 does little to bolster the Wizards chances of getting out of the first round of the East. They have too many players at the wing position and John Wall is getting any younger. They need to win and they need to win now. This draft does little to improve those odds.