NBA Draft Grades 2018: Mavericks and Hawks soar while Wizards and Grizzlies stumble

The draft night dust has settled. As we sift through the night's biggest winners and losers, one thing has become increasingly clear to me: the Hawks and Mavericks were the clear-cut champions of the event. Both swung for the fences early, with Dallas getting Slovenian star Luka Doncic, and Atlanta getting 3-point savant Kevin Huerter to put alongside their top pick, Trae Young.

Whether Doncic or Young develop into the type of players both franchises foresee them becoming is a topic for a day down the road. But it's clear both were enamored with their top guys, and they made every effort to get them. They both earn A's for their draft night performance across the board. 

As for the rest of the field ... I'll be as nice as possible. Let's take a look at the report cards.

NBA Draft Grades
1


Sign me up for the direction the Hawks are headed. By adding Trae Young, they bolstered their talent with a true point guard who doubles as a deep threat anytime he's on the court, and gave him a super weapon by drafting sharpshooter Kevin Huerter at 19. I think Omari Spellman at 30 may have been a tad high, but he's a big man with the ability to stretch the floor. Grade: A+

2


I don't think it's hyperbole to suggest the Celtics made the best (and most obvious) singular pick in the draft by selecting Robert Williams III at 27. It was a stunner he even made it out of the lottery. So now Boston has a rim-protecting, lob-finishing big man -- exactly the type of big man needed to help take them to the next level. Grade: A

3
  • 29. Dzanan Musa | Bosnia | SF | 6-9 | 187
  • 40. Rodions Kurucs | Latvia | SF | 6-9 | 205


Dzanan Musa was labeled a "Bosnian scoring machine" on the ESPN broadcast by Mike Schmitz. So I'm already all the way in. He's a project for the Nets, but Brooklyn is in no hurry to win immediately, anyway. Grade: B+

4
  • 12. Miles Bridges | Michigan St. | Soph | SF | 6-7 | 220 (via trade with Clippers)
  • 34. Devonte' Graham | Kansas | Sr | PG | 6-2 | 186 (via trade with Hawks)
  • 55. Arnoldas Kulboka | Lithuania | SF | 6-9 | 220


The Hornets get a huge upgrade in talent by adding Miles Bridges at the back half of the lottery for the price of what could have been a top 10 pick a season ago. Plus, adding Devonte' Graham as Kemba Walker's backup is a smart move. Two safe picks who can help the Hornets and both relatively low risk. Grade: B

5
  • 7. Wendell Carter Jr. | Duke | Fr | C | 6-10 | 251
  • 22. Chandler Hutchison | Boise St. | Sr | SF | 6-7 | 197


The Bulls are re-tooling for the future, so swinging for the fences inside the lottery is accepted -- if not downright encouraged. Instead, they opted for a safe pick in big man Wendell Carter Jr. at No. 7 overall, and followed it up with an even safer pick at 22 with Chandler Hutchison. A less than inspiring class, especially considering Michael Porter Jr. , Kevin Knox and even Shai Gilgeous-Alexander were all available. Grade: C

6


The Cavs could have been a big mover and shaker in the draft. Re-shuffling the roster to try and prove to LeBron James that things will get better would have been an inspiring move. Instead, they sat patiently, took gritty point guard Collin Sexton at 8, and let the rest of the chips fall. No knee-jerk reaction to a potential LeBron departure. Just a smart pick looking towards the future. Grade: B+

7


The Mavericks pulled the first shocker of the night by switching with Atlanta to get the third pick -- which amounted to Luka Doncic. The Slovenian star is a best of both worlds pick: he can help them win right away with his play making skills, and has the talent to become a piece they can eventually build around, too. Adding Jalen Brunson, Ray Spalding and Kostas Antetokounmpo are nice pieces, too, but this grade is almost entirely driven by the selection of Doncic. Grade: A+

8


Great job, well done, round of applause for the Nuggets, everyone. They were the team gutsy enough to prevent Michael Porter Jr. from falling out of the lottery altogether by essentially getting a player who has top-2 talent at 14. Adding another former blue-chip recruit in Jarred Vanderbilt in the middle of the second fills a huge need if healthy, too. Swinging for the fences. Grade: A-

9
  • 38. Khyri Thomas | Creighton | Jr | PG | 6-4 | 199 (via trade with 76ers)
  • 42. Bruce Brown Jr. | Miami | Soph | SG | 6-5 | 195


Khyri Thomas at 38 was a steal for Detroit. And Bruce Brown at 42 will be considered one, too, if he stays healthy. Shaking up a backcourt that wasn't productive last season is good management. I don't hate it. Grade: B

10


3-and-D prospect Jacob Evans is a good fit for the Warriors. He should be able to provide defensive help on the perimeter and spot-up shooting for the back-to-back title winners. But not being able to buy into the second round for a pick is baffling. Golden State needs as many young players on cheap contracts as possible to keep its run going. Grade: C-

11


How De'Anthony Melton fell to the Rockets at 46 could be a documentary we all watch in awe 20 years from now. He's a Marcus Smart-like player who can impact the game at every level. Adding his A+ defense is huge. Grade: A

12
  • 23. Aaron Holiday | UCLA | Jr | PG | 6-1 | 187
  • 50. Alize Johnson | Missouri St. | Sr | PF | 6-8 | 217


The Pacers needed point guard support. So drafting Aaron Holiday at 23 made a ton of sense. Averaged more than 20 points last season and could be a day one contributor for a playoff team. Grade: B

13


The Milos Teodosic era won't last forever, and with he, Patrick Beverley and Austin Rivers all on expiring contracts heading into next season, getting Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was a perfect choice. He needs development to be a starter, but will have a long runway to get there. As for their selection of Jerome Robinson at 13 ... we'll see if that pans out. But it feels like they drafted a mid-second round talent in the back half of the lottery. That's going to leave a mark on the report card. Grade: C-

14


If the Lakers are planning to land more than one max player this summer, their draft night plan was perfect. In Moritz Wagner and Svi Mykhailiuk, they get two players who were productive in college -- and should be in the NBA -- on cheap rookie deals. Both can be role players in deep rotations. Grade: B+

15


The Grizzlies selected Jaren Jackson Jr. at No. 4. That's too high. He has potential to be a rim-protecting, floor-spacing big. But at this point, it's no more than potential. He has a long ways to go to realize it fully. The only factor preventing Memphis from earning an F is its choice to take Jevon Carter at 32. He's the best perimeter defender in this draft. Grade: D+

16
  • No picks


Like the Raptors, the Heat stayed quiet on draft night -- despite reports that, basically, the entire roster could be trade assets. Their situation isn't as dire as Toronto's, so they get a C+ for their silence. Grade: C+

17


The Bucks made hay with their lone pick by spending their 17th pick on Villanova star Donte DiVincenzo. DiVincenzo starred at the Combine, impressed in workouts, and rose from zero to hero by shooting his Wildcats to their second title in three seasons. His scoring upside alongside Giannis is a perfect fit. Grade: B+

18


The Timberwolves drafted a potential 3-and-D talent with Josh Okogie at 20. He has potential to be great, and I like the fit in Minnesota. The real steal for the Wolves though is drafting Keita Bates-Diop at 48. First-round talent who had a stunning freefall on draft night. Grade: B+

19
  • 51. Tony Carr | Penn St. | Soph | PG | 6-5 | 199


Tony Carr had flashes that would wow you during his time at Penn State. If he can channel his talent into New Orleans, I think he can be a fantastic glue guy for a playoff team that has a ton of talent around him. Grade: C+

20
  • 9. Kevin Knox | Kentucky | Fr | SF | 6-9 | 213
  • 36. Mitchell Robinson | N/A | Fr | C | 7-0 | 223


The Knicks should have made point guard a priority in a draft that was full of them, but it's hard to pick on them for drafting Kevin Knox at 9. He was the youngest player in the draft and has already proven he can be productive at the college level. If he can develop as a go-to scorer in New York, Porzingis will have himself an excellent running mate. As for Robinson ... he's got a long ways to go to be productive in the NBA. Grade: C-

21
For what they were dealt -- No. 53 and No. 57 -- the Thunder did a good job of squeezing every last drop out of. Devon Hall fits the 3-and-D archetype, and wing man Kevin Hervey has scoring upside if he stays healthy. The B+ grade here is because of their last minute acquisition of Hamidou Diallo, who was drafted 45th by Charlotte and dealt after the draft. Grade: B+
22


The Magic had one of the worst offenses in the NBA last season, but still made no effort to try and land a versatile offensive weapon like Trae Young, who was off the board by the time they picked. Instead, they scooped up lanky big man Mohamed Bamba, whose 3-point shot at Texas was as trusty as Orlando's recent draft history, and then selected Tulane swingman Melvin Frazier at 35. I think the Frazier pick could work out, but I don't like Bamba's fit in Orlando. The best pick was Justin Jackson at 43 -- that's all that needs to be said.  Grade: C-

23


Drafting Mikal Bridges was a smart, low-risk move at 10 -- then Philly traded him away for Zhaire Smith, the 16th pick of the draft who is far from being where Bridges is in terms of his ability to contribute. Further, drafting a point guard in Landry Shamet at 26 leads one to wonder ... is Markelle Fultz's process coming to an end soon? Grade: C-

24
  • 1. Deandre Ayton | Arizona | Fr | C | 7-1 | 260
  • 10. Mikal Bridges | Villanova | Jr | SF | 6-7 | 210 (via trade with 76ers)
  • 31. Elie Okobo | France | - | PG | 6-2 | 180
  • 58. George King | Colorado | Sr | SG | 6-6 | 225


The Suns made the right choice by drafting Deandre Ayton at No. 1, then followed it up with a savvy move down the board by drafting Zhaire Smith at 16 -- a pick that they traded to the 76ers for the tenth pick in Mikal Bridges. So they got two top-10 picks out of the night, and added first-round talent Elie Okobo to their roster at pick 31. Grade: A

25
  • 24. Anfernee Simons | IMG Academy | SG | 6-3 | 183
  • 37. Gary Trent Jr. | Duke | Fr | SG | 6-6 | 204 (via trade with Kings)


As if the Trail Blazers' backcourt needed more firepower, the addition of Gary Trent Jr. gives them a bench weapon to deploy as a 3-point assassin immediately. Portland was already on track for a great grade after taking Anfernee Simons, a raw high school aged talent, at 24th overall. Grade: B-

26


Sacramento chose to pass on Slovenian guard Luka Doncic in favor of Marvin Bagley III, a do-it-all big who can rim-run, knock down shots and, on paper, fit seamlessly with De'Aaron Fox as a franchise cornerstone. I like the pick. And trading their 37th overall pick -- Gary Trent Jr. -- to the Trail Blazers for two future second-rounders was selling high. Grade: B+

27
  • 18. Lonnie Walker IV | Miami | Fr | SG | 6-5 | 196
  • 49. Chimezie Metu | USC | Jr | PF | 6-10 | 220


Lonnie Walker IV fell a few spots lower than expected, so of course the Spurs were the ones who made him the 18th pick despite being projected as a lottery-like talent. In Walker, they have a heady scoring guard who can handle the ball and create his own shot. His explosiveness will remind NBA fans of a young Donovan Mitchell. Grade: B

28
  • No picks


The Raptors weren't involved on draft night with the Nets and Suns owning their only picks, and didn't make a move to get into the top 60. For a team that seems to be unwilling to hit reset but quite clearly not the best team in the East, I'm dinging them for not making an effort to improve the roster on draft night. Grade: C-

29


Grayson Allen and Donovan Mitchell in the same backcourt may be too much for my brain to process, but the fit works. Both are proven scorers who can play both on and off the ball, and together they should form an exciting offensive duo for the Jazz to build around. Grade: B+

30
  • 15. Troy Brown | Oregon | Fr | SG | 6-7 | 208
  • 44. Issuf Sanon | Ukraine | PG | 6-4 | 185


Even the Wizards' GM doesn't seem confident their No. 15 pick, Troy Brown, can earn a spot in the rotation. That seems like it would be something important to factor in when drafting him! Further, drafting Issuf Sanon, a Ukrainian point guard at 44, leaves me a bit bewildered. What direction is the team going? Grade: D-

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