Monday, January 6, 2014

Grading the NBA Draft

At the start of 2014, it's important to look back on some big moments from 2013, like the NBA draft.  Plus, we're far enough into the season that we can now take a bunch of small sample sizes and make really hyperbolic statements about how well some teams did during this draft.  I'm bold enough to take that leap of faith.  Without further ado, here's a look at the quality of some of the 2013 draft picks:

#1: Cleveland Cavaliers - Anthony Bennett

Grade: LOL

#2: Orlando Magic - Victor Oladipo

Here's how the NBA draft works: if there's one player that is clearly better than another player, you take that player, regardless of position or team needs.  Cleveland botched this.  Oladipo was, is, and likely will always be a better player than Anthony Bennett.  They'll tell you they already had a shooting guard (Dion "chucker" Waiters, who early this season waged a meaningful campaign to join the ranks of our favorite volume shooters), but really they just messed up.  Oladipo hasn't been super special, but his 12.7 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 3.6 assists averages over 32 games (playing 30 minutes per game) with 40-27-74 shooting splits are much better than Bennett's (small sample size alert) 2.5 points, 2.3 rebounds, and 0.3 assists in 26 games (playing 11 minutes per game) with 28-15-56 shooting splits.

Oladipo was ready to play in the pros.  He will get better.  Not the best pick in the draft, but certainly a good one.

Grade: B

#3: Washington Wizards - Otto Porter

In a crappy draft, I think this was the correct pick.  Because there really wasn't another option.

Porter was a hometown kid.  The Wiz thought they had starters at four of the five positions in Wall, Beal, Okafor, and Nene.  Porter fit as the 5th guy.  The Wiz are currently the 5th seed in the East, and a healthy/marginally productive Porter probably secures that spot.  Just so we're clear, a marginally productive Porter is still a lot better than the one we've seen so far.

EXTREMELY SMALL SAMPLE SIZE ALERT: In the 12 games Porter has played, the Wizards are 4-8.  However, when Porter attempts over 3 shots/game, they're 3-2.  Let him shoot!  Give him the green light!

Grade: C

#4: Charlotte Bobcats - Cody Zeller


Grade: D-

#5: Phoenix Suns - Alex Len


Grade: D The Suns are 19-12!? Who cares about this pick!

#6: Philadelphia 76ers (from New Orleans) - Nerlens Noel

Here's what I don't get.

If you're Charlotte, and you're going to draft someone anyone could have told you before the draft wouldn't end up being a major contributor on a playoff team, and you never play him, why wouldn't you draft someone who may contribute later?  Are you telling me Charlotte prefers having Zeller?  Instead of the possibility of incorporating Noel into their playoff push, or at least having more depth next year?

I think you're wrong.

Grade: C+ (a very average grade...since we know nothing about how this will work out)

#7: Sacramento Kings - Ben McLemore

Drafted into a difficult situation, on a difficult team, in a difficult conference, McLemore has at least been a respectable 35% from 3 this season.  He's athletic.  He'll get better.  Maybe not a lot better, but enough that he could be a solid Jamal Crawford-like player.

Ok maybe Jordan Crawford.

Plus we'll always have this:

Grade: B

Speed Round!

#9: Utah Jazz - Trey Burke

Taking a chance on a guy many thought was too small.  If we've learned anything from guys like Steph Curry or Chris Paul, it's this: if you were really really good in college, you're probably going to be good in the NBA.

Sorry, Adam Morrison.

Grade: A-

#11: Philadelphia 76ers - Michael Carter-Williams

Drafting the probable Rookie of the Year at #11??

Grade: A+

#12: Oklahoma City Thunder (via Toronto via Houston via David Stern via the space-time paradox via seriously how did the Thunder end up with a top 15 pick?) - Steven Adams

Everyone hates OKC for once again finding a gem in the draft, especially a draft filled mostly with doo-doo.  Ok maybe not a gem, but did they really deserve the quality rotation piece they ended up with?

Grade: B+

#15: Milwaukee Bucks: Giannis Antetokounmpo

Just try and pronounce that.  I dare you.

The perfect pick for the team that strives to maintain mediocrity.  Giannis has already displayed flashes, and may challenge Carter-Williams for ROY honors.  He'll make a great trade piece for future picks when Milwaukee starts to get too good and their management wants them to take a step back.

Plus his nickname is the "Greek Freak."

Double plus - he's grown an inch since draft day!?

Grade: A

#20: Chicago Bulls - Tony Snell  &  #24: New York Knicks - Tim Hardaway Jr.

Two Eastern Conference teams that expected to contend this year made fantastic picks late in the first round.  If they were healthy and in contention, we'd be talking about great picks that helped shore up their rotation and spare guys like Luol Deng and Iman Shumpert from playing 46 minutes per game.

Instead we're talking about the experience they're getting as their teams tread water.

The good news?  At 14-18, the Bulls are THE SIXTH SEED in the East right now.  And at 11-22, the Knicks are only 2.5 games behind the 8th seeded Pistons.

You're right, I'm not sure that is good news.

Grades: B+

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