2016 NBA Draft Grades: How each team finished up on draft night
The Lakers, Grizzlies and 76ers get high marks, but the Celtics, Hawks and Hornets had a rough night
It's always a bit of a fool's errand to attempt to grade draft picks immediately after the thing ends. Still, it's clear that there are quite a few winners and losers after the 2016 NBA Draft given what went down. Here is how I'm grading each team's draft now that it's over and we head into the summer.
Brought in: Taurean Prince (No. 12), DeAndre' Bembry (No. 21), Isaia Cordinier (No. 44), $2.4 million
Sent out: Jeff Teague, No. 54 overall (Kay Felder)
On the whole this isn't a disaster. But the Hawks could have done more here. Prince was my No. 24 overall player and they took him at No. 12. His versatility fits well there, but it was a reach given what they gave up in Jeff Teague. Bembry is a solid pick at No. 21 and should provide value sooner rather than later. Cordinier is a lottery ticket as a potential shooting guard. This was a capital heavy draft for them, and they just came back a little bit light, especially in light of what they gave up. Would have liked to have seen a big man go there at some point in order to help replace the contributions of Al Horford. This seems like it could be a team poised for a rather large step back in 2016-17.
Brought in: Jaylen Brown (No. 3), Guerschon Yabusele (No. 16), Ante Zizic (No. 23), Demetrius Jackson (No. 45), Ben Bentil (No. 51), Abdel Nader (No. 58), 2019 Clippers first-round pick
Sent out: No. 31 (Deyonta Davis), No. 35 (Rade Zagorac)
Whew, where do we even start with this one? Boston went down to the last second fielding offers for No. 3, but ultimately decided to keep the pick. Given some of the offers that were made public, I'm not entirely sure about that decision being all that prudent with how things ended up for them, selecting Jaylen Brown. The team could have selected Kris Dunn and had a positional glut at point guard momentarily, but it would have kept them in the Jimmy Butler sweepstakes with Chicago. Not an easy choice, but probably one that could have gone differently.
With their second pick at No. 16, the team selected Guerschon Yabusele, a French player that was No. 38 on my board. It was undoubtedly a reaction to most European players wanting to come over immediately as opposed to being stashed, but it's one that doesn't look great right now. The team rebounded later by selecting Ante Zizic, Demetrius Jackson and Ben Bentil, all of whom could make the Celtics team next season (especially Zizic). Then to make matters even worse, the team traded No. 31 and 35 to Memphis for a 2019 lottery protected first-round pick from the Clippers instead of just taking Deyonta Davis (No. 9 on my board) and Rade Zagorac (No. 35).
With eight picks, this was never going to be an easy situation for the Celtics to parse through. And in the end, the team did genuinely end up with five players that could play in the NBA at some point, plus another first rounder. But man, does this return feel light given what could have been here. It seems like they may have outsmarted themselves a bit and ended up keeping themselves in purgatory for the time being with a bunch of solid, yet unspectacular players.
Brought In: Caris LeVert (No. 20), Isaiah Whitehead (No. 42)
Sent out: Thaddeus Young, No. 55 (Marcus Paige)
The Nets continue to rebuild their roster with young players, picking up two solid young guards in the process. Still, they ended up sending out a good player in Young and both players have their questions. LeVert's are based around his feet. He was a legitimate first round talent -- although not a can't miss one, given how poor his defense is and the John Beilein effect at Michigan -- but injuries have placed his value into question. He'll have a legitimate chance to stick as a role player if he can stay healthy. The health concerns make this a reach though, as it seems likely he would have fallen to Round 2. Whitehead is a gift to the fans of a bad team, as the Brooklyn product could turn into a star in his hometown even if he's not all that great. He needs to keep shooting consistently and ironing out the wildness of his game, but I'd expect him to get guaranteed money there next season despite being in the second round.
Brought In: Marco Belinelli
Sent out: No. 22 overall (Malachi Richardson)
What the Hornets were thinking, I'm not entirely sure. The team traded the No. 22 overall pick to Sacramento for a 30-year-old Marco Belinelli, who is coming off his worst season since 2010 after shooting 38 percent from the field and 30 percent from behind the arc. I get that the No. 22 overall pick likely won't help you next season, but I'm not convinced Belinelli is either, and he's still owed about $13 million over the next two seasons. Not the best cap management or asset management here from the Hornets. The higher variance, higher upside, better play here would have been to keep the pick and gone from there.
Brought In: Denzel Valentine (No. 14), Paul Zipser (No. 48)
Sent Out: Nothing
I'm a big fan of what the Bulls did on draft night. First, they got a terrific fit in Fred Hoiberg's offensive system in Denzel Valentine, a pure shooter who can also really pass and share some of the playmaking duties for his team. Even with the knee concerns, I think this is tremendous value for Chicago. Then at No. 48, Chicago got one of my favorite steals of the draft in Paul Zipser, a 6-foot-8 German combo forward who can step out and knock down 3s as well as defend. He doesn't really create his own shot all that well, but he typifies as a potential 3-and-D role player in the NBA. Nothing sexy here from Chicago, but two really solid NBA talents.
Brought In: Kay Felder (No. 54)
Sent Out: $2.4 million
The Cavaliers bought No. 54 overall for $2.4 million to select Kay Felder, a diminutive point guard out of Oakland. I liked the pick here from Cleveland, as I think there's a chance Felder becomes an NBA player as a microwave backup point guard who can score. He's an explosive athlete, and he shoots it well off the dribble. The key will be defending in the Cavaliers' athletic defense.
Brought In: A.J. Hammons (No. 46)
Sent Out: Nothing
Of course, the Mavericks sent their pick to the Celtics in the Rajon Rondo deal of 2015. Not ideal, but not something worth penalizing them for now. Hammons represents a solid selection at No. 46 at a position of need, center. He needs to work on his body and his ability to defend on the perimeter, but he's highly skilled and could find his way onto this roster in 2016-17. Particularly, he's a good shot-blocker and possesses the potential to consistently knock down shots from the outside.
Brought In: Jamal Murray (No. 7), Juan Hernangomez (No. 15), Malik Beasley (No. 19), Petr Cornelie (No. 53)
Sent Out: No. 56 (Daniel Hamilton)
This draft was all about one thing for Denver: addressing their need for shooting around Emmanuel Mudiay and Nikola Jokic. Yeah, this team is still in a transitional phase, but the players selected here today will probably help them through that. They stayed at No. 7 and let the board fall to them as it did, and took Murray to pair with Mudiay in the backcourt. Those two should form a great 1-2 punch due to Mudiay's ability to create and Murray's elite shooting.
Then, they paired him with another terrific shooter in floor-spacing 4 Hernangomez, the Spanish League's young player of the year. He could be really solid in Denver, although it's questionable if he'll come over immediately after the Nuggets kept all three first-rounders. Finally with that third first-rounder, Beasley is another two-guard who can really create shots and shoot from all over the floor. He's a bit redundant due to his size with Gary Harris and Murray though, and it makes me wonder if they'll be able to defend well enough to put all of these guys together on the floor. It wasn't a perfect draft, but it was a good one and a helpful one for what they need going forward.
Brought In: Henry Ellenson (No. 18), Michael Gbinije (No. 49)
Sent Out: Nothing
I'm a fan of this Pistons draft. They took advantage of Ellenson dropping a bit due to his lack of quickness and picked up a potential backup 5 as well as a guy who can space the floor at the 4 position. We know how much Stan Van Gundy likes to space the floor around his centers, and Ellenson should be able to do that eventually. Nice value and nice pickup there. Then in the second round, they got another good player in Gbinije who might be able to help them out off the bench next season. Gbinije is a really good shooter, an instinctive defender, and a solid creator and passer. If he's athletic enough, he'll make an impact.
The Pistons just took care of business in this draft. No steals, no reaches. Just solid values and fits.
Golden State Warriors
Brought In: Damian Jones (No. 30), Patrick McCaw (No. 38)
Sent Out: $2.4 million
The rich just get richer here. Jones at No. 30 and McCaw at No. 38 are not only good values, but they're great fits for what Golden State does. Jones is an intelligent, superb kid that is about as athletic as any true big man in this draft. He'll do well replacing Festus Ezeli if the other former Vanderbilt big leaves in free agency. McCaw is another great get for this scheme as a 6-foot-7 guard who can really pass and get into passing lanes defensively to create run-outs. The team thinks so highly of him that they've already signed him to a two-year deal that is fully guaranteed, per The Vertical. Just simple, smart moves for the Warriors as they look to get back to the NBA Finals next season.
Brought In: Chinanu Onuaku (No. 37), Zhou Qi (No. 43)
Sent Out: Nothing
The Rockets grabbed a pair of analytic darlings in Onuaku and Zhou inside. Onuaku is a terrific rebounder and is quite young for a center at 19. He's also a solid rim protector, another skill that Zhou bring to the table along with shooting. Some people really buy into Zhou as a prospect, but around the league people just aren't sure he can stand up to the nightly rigors inside of the NBA. I'm not sure I see the need for both of these guys either, but the team also gets a little bump for going out and signing Gary Payton II on draft night to a partially guaranteed three-year deal. A fine night for Daryl Morey, who I will predict gets at least one NBA player out of that mix.
Brought In: Jeff Teague, Thaddeus Young, Georges Niang (No. 50)
Sent Out: George Hill, No. 20 (Caris LeVert)
Yeah, this is just solid stuff from the Pacers here, who re-shaped their team nicely over the last two days. Young and Teague are great fits for this roster, and likely become immediate starters. They do give up George Hill and No. 20 to get there, but that's fine, especially if they can sign Teague to an extension. The Pacers got tangibly better over the last two days in both the short and long term, and that's all you can ask for.
Los Angeles Clippers
Brought In: Brice Johnson (No. 25), David Michineau (No. 39), Diamond Stone (No. 40)
Sent Out: No. 33 (Cheick Diallo)
I'm a big fan of the Johnson pickup here for the Clippers. I think he comes in and plays an immediate role off the bench for Los Angeles next season, helping a contending team with their depth at a bargain basement price. Really solid value to get him at No. 25. I'm not a huge fan of either of the other two players the team picked up. Stone to me wreaks of a 15-minute per game player at best, especially if he can't figure out Doc Rivers defensive schemes. Michineau is an athletic point guard, but it seems unlikely to me that he ever quite makes the leap over to the NBA unless he can learn to both shoot and limit turnovers. Still, the Johnson pick was the important one, and they nailed it with flying colors.
Los Angeles Lakers
Brought In: Brandon Ingram (No. 2), Ivica Zubac (No. 32)
Sent Out: Nothing
I love this draft from Los Angeles. They picked up my No. 2 and No. 15 players in the entire draft here, and genuinely shored up positional weaknesses in the process. First, with Ingram, they got the prototypical fit in the modern NBA due to his ability to attack switches offensively, defend multiple positions and shoot it from distance. He should be perfect for what Luke Walton wants to do. Then, they went and picked up Zubac, a terrific center who scouts believe has a shot to become a starting center in the NBA one day due to his sheer size and length to pair with tremendous skill level. There are some injury questions and he'll need to improve defending the perimeter, but had Zubac played the whole year this season he likely goes in the first round. They are one of three clear winners on draft night.
Brought In: Wade Baldwin (No. 17), Deyonta Davis (No. 31), Rade Zagorac (No. 35), Wang Zhelin (No. 57)
Sent Out: 2019 lottery protected Clippers first round pick
This is the best draft of the evening in terms of doing what you can with what you have at your disposal. The Grizzlies turned No. 17 and a future first-round pick into two of my top 16 players in the draft and a terrific draft and stash. First, they took Baldwin, a tremendous fit for them who works regardless of whether Mike Conley returns to Memphis. He can play both guard positions due to his length, and could be a tremendous defender. Then, the team traded away that Clippers pick (which is a relatively weak one and could eventually revert to the second round) for the No. 9 player on my board, Davis, who fell due to concerns about his motor. They also picked up Zagorac, the No. 35 player on my board, at No. 35 as a piece of that trade. He fills a need for them as a creative wing who can score both off the dribble and in terms of his shooting ability. It wouldn't surprise me at all if the Grizzlies look back at this draft and have three genuine contributors in three years all only for the price of one first round exit and a low-end first round pick.
Brought In: No one
Sent Out: No one
No action here from Miami, who didn't even buy a pick late.
Brought In: Thon Maker (No. 10), Malcolm Brogdon (No. 36), $2.4 million
Sent Out: No. 38 (Patrick McCaw)
How does one rectify a team making your least favorite pick of the draft along with one of your favorites? Indeed, I don't buy Maker this high at No. 10. He was dominated last year at Nike Hoop Summit for a week by No. 28 pick Skal Labissiere, no guarantee to carve out a role in the NBA himself. His hands aren't great, his body isn't strong enough, and his basketball IQ isn't superb. What Maker needs is experience, and it's hard to see how he'll get it given that the Bucks have no D-League team and that there's no way he will earn NBA minutes. Just not a fan of him or his game here, and wouldn't have been a fan of his even in the top-20. However, the team did select Brogdon early in the second, a tremendous pick that will likely contribute to their cause early and often as a defender and backcourt role player. Prediction: In six months we're looking at Brogdon and wondering why he fell much like we did with Norman Powell this year.
Still, taking Maker at 10 overshadows that pick.
Brought In: Kris Dunn (No. 5)
Sent Out: Nothing (yet)
The Timberwolves did get good value, selecting my No. 3 overall player in the draft in Dunn at No. 5. I think he becomes an excellent player in the NBA. I just don't quite buy the fit yet with Ricky Rubio, which makes me wonder if this is the precursor to something bigger (maybe a Jimmy Butler trade?) or something smaller (a Rubio move?). Dunn is the perfect player for Tom Thibodeau, but until we see what else happen with this roster in conjunction with this pick, it's almost an incomplete grade.
New Orleans Pelicans
Brought In: Buddy Hield (No. 6), Cheick Diallo (No. 33)
Sent Out: No. 39 (David Michineau) and No. 40 (Diamond Stone)
A proficient, effective draft for the Pelicans. They get Hield, a star at Oklahoma, to pair with Anthony Davis. He'll help out immediately with his ability to space the floor and create jump shots and scoring opportunities. It's not out of the question he wins rookie of the year in 2017. Diallo is more of a lottery ticket, a hard-working big man who runs the floor better than any other in the country and has potential defensively in terms of switching screens and protecting the weakside of the rim. He's not a perfect player, especially on offense, but he's probably worth a lottery ticket at No. 33, a trade up after they moved No. 39 and 40.
New York Knicks
Brought In: None
Sent out: None
I should give the Knicks an F out of spite for trading their first-round selection for Andrea Bargnani, but I don't grade harshly based on sunk costs.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Brought In: Victor Oladipo, Ersan Ilyasova, Domantas Sabonis (No. 11), Daniel Hamilton (No. 56)
Sent out: Serge Ibaka, cash
This is an interesting one. I really like the value here for Oklahoma City, as it seemed like Ibaka took a step back in 2016 from his previously lofty levels. They pick up a really strong guard prospect in Oladipo, a terrific floor-spacing four-man in Ilyasova, plus get the rights to Sabonis, who should be able to help immediately in their frontcourt in Ibaka's absence. That's a lot of talent for one piece, even one as skilled as Ibaka. Particularly, Sabonis and Steven Adams should pair to make for the most annoying pair of frontcourt players in NBA history due to their fiery demeanors. Plus, Oladipo is coming off of possibly his most efficient season of his career and has averaged 16 points per game over his first three years. This is a win for Oklahoma City in terms of talent acquisition, and it should help them reload on the fly if Kevin Durant leaves this offseason.
Brought In: Serge Ibaka, Stephen Zimmerman (No. 41)
Sent Out: Victor Oladipo, Ersan Ilyasova, Domantas Sabonis (No. 11), No. 47 (Jake Layman)
While I called this trade a win for Oklahoma City, that doesn't mean Orlando absolutely lost. The number of players in the NBA who can tangibly be paired with Nikola Vucevic to create an adequate defense is low, but Ibaka is one of those players due to his ability to protect the weak side of the rim. As far as player types go, he's pretty much exactly what the team needed. The problem I have with this deal is from an asset management perspective. Ibaka has one year left on his deal, and the Magic essentially dealt five years of control on Oladipo and then four plus the potential for four more on Sabonis to make the move. That's a ton of long-term value for a player in Ibaka who regressed a bit last season. If the team gets a chance to re-negotiate his deal and extend him, then maybe I feel okay with it. But without that knowledge, it's hard to get excited about this one for Orlando.
Brought In: Ben Simmons (No. 1), Timothe Luwawu (No. 24), Furkan Korkmaz (No. 26)
Sent Out: Nothing
This is essentially a home run draft for the Sixers. They get their guy in Simmons at No. 1, a franchise game changer who can become an all-star at the next level. They need to build around him by likely trading Jahlil Okafor and possibly even Nerlens Noel, but they should be able to get solid returns for them.
Equally as impressive was them going out and grabbing Luwawu and Korkmaz. Luwawu is a tremendous athlete who should slot into the wing situation and Philly and provide defensive ability and a high motor. Korkmaz is a bit more skilled but farther away from contributing. He'd be best off staying another year in Turkey and developing his body, but it's unclear if that will be the situation. Regardless, Both players represented great value where they were picked -- particularly Luwawu -- and both could have a chance to succeed at a high level in the NBA. Especially when paired with the No. 1 pick in the draft, Ben Simmons.
Brought In: Dragan Bender (No. 4), Marquese Chriss (No. 8), Tyler Ulis (No. 34)
Sent Out: Bogdan Bogdanovic, Georgios Papagiannis (No. 13), Skal Labissiere (No. 28) and a future second-rounder
The Suns had a lot of picks in this draft and essentially did what the Celtics couldn't. They consolidated them into a single resource for a player they wanted. First, they took Bender, the No. 4 overall player on my board and just an absolutely tremendous fit for what they want to do. Then, they moved No. 13, No. 28 and Bogdanovic to move up and grab Chriss, a home run swing, upside player that could really work out as a stretch-four next to Bender if he grows into his role as a center. Here's what it comes down to. Yeah, they ended up picking two players in the same position. But they're both high upside players who could become all-stars, and the move to No. 8 was for the last player in a tier in Chriss. This is how things are supposed to get done when you have a lot of picks. Oh, and they took one of my favorite prospects in the draft in Ulis, who is just a gamer in every sense of the word. He'll figure out an NBA role.
Portland Trail Blazers
Brought In: Jake Layman (No. 47)
Sent Out: Money
The Blazers bought into the draft to grab Layman, a 6-9 combo forward who can really shoot it from deep. Hey, if the owner is willing to pay, it's hard to kill the pick. There were better players on the board for me, but Layman works if you want to go in and think you see a potential fit in your scheme.
Brought In: Georgios Papagiannis (No. 13), Malachi Richardson (No. 22), Skal Labissiere (No. 28), Bogdan Bogdanovic, Isaiah Cousins (No. 59)
Sent Out: Marquese Chriss (No. 8), Marco Belinelli
I want to like what the Kings did so badly. This is the exact type of draft they needed. Coming into the event, this was a team totally bereft of trade assets and valuable young players beyond DeMarcus Cousins, and they genuinely went out and added four of those guys tonight plus Cousins. That's going to provide them greater flexibility in the future, and also give them talented players for the present. The trade to get Richardson was a legitimate coup for the team, and Labissiere falling to No. 28 was unexpected and good value.
And yet, I just can't help but feel there were missed opportunities here and that the team made mistakes. The team took Papagiannis as its most important player of the night when I'm not sure anyone else had him in the top 20 of their board and they already have two true centers in Cousins and Willie Cauley-Stein. That made no sense. Labissiere is a great value, but he's a project, and the Kings don't exactly exude the exterior of petrie dish for player development. If Chriss breaks out and becomes a star for Phoenix, it's going to be tough for the Kings to look back on this deal fondly.
I can't kill this draft. The Kings finally got the type of asset quantity they needed from Phoenix, and made a terrific trade to get Richardson. But it leaves a bad taste in my mouth after the execution, for sure.
San Antonio Spurs
Brought In: Dejounte Murray (No. 29)
Sent Out: Nothing
It was a simple night for the Spurs, letting Murray fall to them at No. 29. I'm not Murray's biggest fan as a prospect. I think he's a good ball-handler and attacks the lane well, but he's a poor shooter, doesn't finish well around the rim, and makes poor turnovers. At least two of those things are fixable in the Spurs system now, and I like him for them much more than I would like him for any other team due to their developmental system in terms of ironing out their players' kinks. An awesome selection here for upside.
Brought In: Jakob Poeltl (No. 9), Pascal Siakam (No. 27)
Sent Out: Nothing
The Raptors made one pick I really liked and another I did not. Poeltl was a really solid pickup, and he'll help them sooner rather than later in the frontcourt with Bismack Biyombo a free agent who is unlikely to return. Poeltl is a superb athlete, and one that should play well in Toronto. However, for as much as I like that pick, the Siakam one doesn't make a ton of sense to me. This is a reach, pure and simple, on a guy who dominated in college basketball's worst conference. He's an all-energy, motor type player that is long, but he has the game of a 6-9 center to pair with stiffness in his mobility and leaping ability and somewhat below average hands. I'm not entirely sure I get this one beyond the positional fit. Still, the Poeltl pick was great and takes precedence.
Brought In: George Hill, Joel Bolomboy (No. 52), Marcus Paige (No. 55), Ty Wallace (No. 60)
Sent Out: Taurean Prince (No. 12)
I've already written on how much I like getting George Hill for No. 12. If they can get him to re-negotiate and extend, it's a perfect deal for them. The three second rounders are all fine. Bolomboy has the best chance to make the team as an energy and spacing big with his jump shot.
Brought In: Nothing
Sent Out: Nothing
The Wizards had nothing to do on draft night, although I will note that the team signed one of my top remaining undrafted free agents after the draft ended in Sheldon McClellan. Nice pickup for them.
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