2018 Draft Team Grades

The 2018 draft has come and gone, with plenty of trades and surprises to tide us over until next year. But, as with any draft, some teams left the draft in great shape, others not so much. Granted, grading a draft the morning after isn’t necessarily conducive to what these prospects will look like in the future, but who cares! It’s a fun exercise anyway.

Note: The grades are not for individual picks, but rather looking at the team’s overall night. The parentheticals next to the names are their spots on my board.

Philadelphia 76ers:

Gains: 16) Zhaire Smith, SG, Texas Tech; 26) Landry Shamet, PG, Wichita St; 54) Shake Milton, PG, SMU; 2021 Miami Heat 1st round pick unprotected; 3 future seconds

Losses: 10) Mikal Bridges, SF, Villanova; 38) Khyri Thomas, SG, Creighton; 56) Ray Spalding, PF, Louisville; 60) Kostas Antetokounmpo, PF, Dayton

The Sixers were certainly busy last night, as their only selection out of their 6 original slots was Shamet. However, it’s hard not to like what the Sixers did last night. Yes, trading Mikal Bridges stings, but they got Smith (15th on my board), an ultra-athletic defender with a great first step and a workable (but untested) shot, and an incredibly valuable asset either as a future pick or trade piece. Shamet is a little over drafted at 26 (39th), but his shooting will definitely help off the bench. Trading Khyri Thomas hurts too, but trading up to grab Shake Milton (33rd) at 54 was great value.

Grade: A

Milwaukee Bucks:

17) Donte DiVincenzo, SG, Vilanova

While I personally think this a little early for DiVincenzo (27th), the positional fit is really good. He’s an underrated athlete and good shooter from behind the arc, which would make him a good fit with Giannis. I don’t know if he’s necessarily better than Tony Snell, as Donte’s defense isn’t as good, but he’ll provide solid bench minutes at the start of his career.

Grade: B-

Chicago Bulls:

7) Wendell Carter Jr, C, Duke; 22) Chandler Hutchinson, SG, Boise St.

Carter Jr. (7th) might seem like an unspectacular pick, but he does all the little things and may not have been able to show all of the things he can do since he was stuck playing next to Marvin Bagley. He fits well as a defender and rebounder next and Lauri Markkanen. The Bulls promised Hutchinson (26th) early in the draft process, and it’s easy to see why in terms of fit. Hutchinson is a big-bodied wing with a solid 3pt shot, and slotting him at small forward next to Zach Lavine is a really interesting pairing. Neither of these are home runs, but they’re definitely good selections.

Grade: B+

Cleveland Cavaliers:

8) Collin Sexton, PG, Alabama

Sexton (13th) plays with a lot of energy and might be the most competitive player in the whole draft. While he’s slightly undersized, his quickness and attitude make him a really strong on-ball defender. However, he isn’t a multi-positional defender and tends to play out of control at times. Will he be the reason LeBron stays in Cleveland? No. Will he become a superstar? Unlikely. Will he be fun to watch? Absolutely.

Grade: B

Boston Celtics:

27) Robert Williams, C, Texas A&M

If any player could have fallen to the Celtics at 27, I’m sure Danny Ainge hoped it was Robert Williams (17th). The big-man is very athletic and a strong rim protector who would’ve been a lottery pick had he come out last year. The C’s have a lot of wings and guards, but not a lot in terms of big men, so Williams fills a need perfectly. Really good pick as long as the medicals check out.

Grade: A

Los Angeles Clippers:

Gains: 11) Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, PG, Kentucky; 13) Jerome Robinson, SG, BC

Losses: 12) Miles Bridges, SF, Michigan St.; 2 future seconds

Not quite sure what the Clippers are doing here. They definitely could’ve used a point guard, and Gilgeous-Alexander (14th) could be the best one in the draft, but his shot needs a lot of work, he’s not a great athlete and is weird fit with Patrick Beverly. As for Jerome Robinson (30th), this is really early. He put up a lot of points at BC, but he has some black hole issues and he’s not a great defender. When there were a lot of superior prospects still on the board, this is a head-scratcher.

Grade: C

Memphis Grizzlies:

4) Jaren Jackson Jr., PF, Michigan St.; 32) Javon Carter, PG, West Virginia

Jackson Jr. (3rd) might be my favorite player in the draft. His shot blocking and switching ability makes him one of the better defenders in the NBA from the moment he steps on the court, and his developing 3pt shot and offensive game make him a great fit with Marc Gasol. Carter (25th) is not only a good value pick but brings back the grit-and-grind Grizzlies personality of old.

Grade: A-

Atlanta Hawks:

Gains: 5) Trae Young, PG, Oklahoma; 19) Kevin Huerter, SG, Maryland; 30) Omari Spellman, PF, Villanova; 2019 Dallas Mavericks Top 5 protected first

Losses: 3) Luka Doncic, PG, Real Madrid

Atlanta had a real chance to leave the 2018 Draft with their first potential superstar since (sort of) Josh Smith. Instead, they leave it with Young (6th) and a protected first. Young has serious offensive potential as shooter and passer and is a massive upgrade over Schröder. However, he’s a defensive liability and the Hawks don’t have the pieces around him (other than Taurean Prince) to cover for his mistakes. On top of that, the Mavs pick could be a late lottery selection, which won’t be high enough to be supremely valuable. Huerter (23rd) is one of the best shooters in this draft and slots in well at the 2 guard spot, while Spellman (50th) feels too small to pair with John Collins on the inside.

Grade: B-

Charlotte Hornets

Gains: 12) Miles Bridges; 34) Devonte’ Graham, PG, Kansas; Arnoldas Kulboka, SF, Capo D’Orlando; 2 future second round picks

Losses: 11) Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

Bridges (12th) ends up being equal value for the spot and can potentially fit in right away as a better shooting version of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. While is production stagnated in his sophomore season, his positional change and upgraded role proved that he’s versatile enough to adapt to what teams need him to play. Devonte’ Graham (52nd) is a reach. He’s a good shooter and has good instincts as a passer, but is only a one position defender and a below the rim finisher who may not be a good enough athlete to stick at the next level. I didn’t have a draftable grade on Kulboka (71), so I’m sure the Hornets are going to use him as a stash candidate.

Grade: B-

Utah Jazz

Gains: Grayson Allen, SG, Duke; cash considerations

Losses: Vince Edwards, SF, Purdue

Allen (37th) is well known for his tripping exploits in the NCAA, but he’s a really solid shooter and tested well as an athlete during the combine. He’s showed up in big moments and seems like a smart player, but as with most of this draft’s shooters, I’m concerned about his defense, particularly coming from Duke’s zone-heavy scheme. Not a fan of trading picks for cash ever, but Utah doesn’t have a ton of roster spots so I guess they feel comfortable with this.

Grade: B-

Sacramento Kings

Gains: Marvin Bagley III, PF, Duke; 2 future seconds

Losses: Gary Trent Jr., SF, Duke

Bagley (5th) started the season at the #1 player on the board, but concerns about his defense and positional fit led to a drop. He’ll put up stats and should be the favorite for Rookie of the Year, but second is too early, particularly with Doncic on the board. Plus, THE KINGS HAVE TOO MANY BIGS. Pick a guard! Pick a SF! Eh, I’m not really surprised; it’s the Kings. Trading for future seconds, however, is actually a pretty smart, forward-thinking move. Still not a fan of the draft. Hopefully, I’m wrong.

Grade: C+

New York Knicks

9) Kevin Knox, SF, Kentucky; 36) Mitchell Robinson, C

Despite the Knicks fans disdain for this pick, I really like Knox (9th). He’s really young and long as shows some really two-way potential and scoring ability. Robinson (26th) is a question mark. I think it’s good value, but refusing to go to the combine or play for Western Kentucky makes me wonder how much his actual basketball game has improved or changed.

Grade: B+

Los Angeles Lakers

Gains: 25) Mo Wagner, C, Michigan; 39) Issac Bonga, SF, Frankfurt; 47) Sviatoslav Mykhaliliuk, SG, Kansas

Losses: A future second; cash considerations

I like the concept of the Lakers draft. They traded Clarkson and Randle to get back in the first round and added a second round pick. I just don’t love the picks themselves. Wagner (49th) can shoot. But he doesn’t rebound and averaged six times more fouls and than blocks per game. You need your bigs to rim protect in the NBA, and since Wagner doesn’t, it’s a really curious pick, especially with Robert Williams still on the board. Bonga (56th) is a solid draft-and-stash guy, but why take him at 39 when you still need to fill out your roster? Svi (55th) can also really shoot, but he doesn’t do much else. They need to rely on serious player development if they want to get something out of this draft.

Grade: C-

Orlando Magic

Gains: 6) Mo Bamba, C, Texas; 35) Melvin Frazier, SF, Tulane; 43) Justin Jackson, SF, Maryland

Losses: 41) Jared Vanderbilt, PF, Kentucky

While I’m sure most Orlando Magic fans would have preferred to land Trae Young with this pick and not draft any other bigs. But, Bamba (4th) is different than Vuc and Biyombo. He projects as an incredible defender with his 7’10” wingspan, and his shot mechanics have improved under the guidance of Drew Hanlen. Frazier (18th) is another one of my favorite prospects. His hands are incredibly quick and he’s a really good athlete with a workable shot. Potential (wait for the inevitable comparison) Kawhi Leonard. Justin Jackson (43rd) seems like a weird pick here, since he’s probably behind Jonathan Issac, Melvin Frazier and Jonathan Simmons on the depth chart.

Grade: A-

Dallas Mavericks

Gains: 3) Luka Doncic; 33) Jalen Brunson, PG, Villanova; 56) Ray Spalding; 60) Kostas Antetokounmpo

Losses: 5) Trae Young; 54) Shake Milton; 2019 protected 1st round pick

Great trade up from Dallas to grab Doncic (1st). He’s the most accomplished teenage basketball player maybe ever, has an incredible feel for the game, great passing instincts, and a solid jump shot. The athletic concerns are there, but overblown. He’ll be a stud. Brunson (35th) is the National Player of the Year and decent value in the second round. He’ll back up Dennis Smith, but he’ll be a solid bench player for maybe 10 years. Spalding (60th) and Antetokounmpo (66th) are fine back of the second round gambles that will both probably play in the G-League.

Brooklyn Nets

Gains: 29) Dzanan Musa, SF, Cedevita; 40) Rodions Kurucs, SF, FC Barcelona II; cash considerations (projected since we don’t know until July 6th)

Losses: 45) Hamidou Diallo, SF, Kentucky

Dzanan (34th), nicknamed the Bosnian Scoring Machine, does just that. Score. He’s a triple threat scorer that fell due to his raw basketball skills and his refusal to be a draft-and-stash prospect. Kurucs (51st) was once a projected lottery pick that was stuck playing on a lower level team due to some line in his contract. However, Diallo, while a project, is one of the best athletes in the draft with an improving jumper. And the Nets sold him for cash. DON’T SELL PICKS!!

Grade: B-

Denver Nuggets

Gains: 14) Michael Porter Jr., SF, Missouri; 41) Jared Vanderbilt; 58) Thomas Welsh, C, UCLA

Losses: 43) Justin Jackson; future second

The Nuggets figure they can take a risk on Porter (10th), a guy with superstar potential and serious red flag medicals. He has size and shooting ability and go-to scoring instincts, but don’t try on defense and his ball-handling isn’t as tight as you want it to be. On top of that, he might miss the entire season with his back injury. I’ll wait and see at this point. Vanderbilt (43rd) is one of the best rebounders in college basketball but feels redundant next to Kenneth Faried. Welsh (88th) had no business being drafted in my opinion. Stats are fine, but I don’t see how he contributes at the next level.

Grade: C+/INC

Indiana Pacers

23) Aaron Holiday, PG, UCLA; 50) Alize Johnson, PF, Missouri St.

Holiday (24th) is a solid point guard with a good jumper, a long wingspan, and strong passing instincts. He’s not very athletic, but the Pacers could plug him in the line-up instead of Darren Collison. Johnson (62nd) is a solid rebounder and will provide good energy off the bench. Solid draft for the Pacers.

Grade: B

New Orleans Pelicans

51) Tony Carr, PG, Penn State

Carr (54th) is a dynamic, scoring point guard that can provide a nice spark off the bench. His finishing at the rim and defense leaves something to be desired, but for a Pelicans team that could rarely ever go into their bench, Carr adds that microwave style player as long as his 3pt shot translates.

Grade: B+

Detroit Pistons

Gains: 38) Khyri Thomas; 42) Bruce Brown, PG, Miami

Losses: 2 future seconds

For a team that didn’t have a first-round pick after the Blake Griffin trade, Thomas (16th) is absolutely a 1st round talent and an incredible pick. He’s long, plays really solid defense and has a solid enough 3pt shot to be around league average for the rest of his career. He’s a textbook 3 and D prospect that fits the modern NBA a lot more than Luke Kennard. Bruce Brown (32nd) is also a great value pick. He’s a guy that can do a little bit of everything. The worry with him is whether or not the shot will translate. With the resources they had available, this was an incredible draft for the Pistons.

Grade: A

Houston Rockets

Gains: 46) De’Anthony Melton, PG, USC; 52) Vince Edwards, SF, Purdue

Losses: Cash considerations

I can’t believe the Rockets lucked into Melton (29th). A great athlete and feisty defender of either guard position, Melton can fill a Patrick Beverly-like role of pestering opposing point guards when Chris Paul needs to sit. Vince Edwards (59th) is fine as a second-round pick. Solid 3pt shooter but not as intense of a defender as you’d like. But, since you get him for cash, can’t fault them at all.

Grade: A-

San Antonio Spurs

18) Lonnie Walker, SG, Miami; 49) Chimezie Metu, PF, USC

Walker (11th) is tremendous value for the Spurs at 18. He has all the potential as a shooter, ball-handler, and defender. It’ll be really interesting to see how he meshes with Greg Popovich, as Walker is kind of a character and the Spurs are known for the almost complete lack of personality in the players. Metu (40th) is also a good value selection, but the Spurs will need to rely on their world class player development system if they want to get anything more out of him than some nice dunks.

Grade: B+

Phoenix Suns

Gains: 1) Deandre Ayton, C, Arizona; 10) Mikal Bridges; 31) Elie Okobo, PG, Pau-Orthez; 59) George King, SF, Colorado

Losses: 16) Zhaire Smith; 2021 unprotected Miami Heat first round pick

Ayton (2nd) has been the projected #1 pick for months now, so it was no surprise that the Suns took him first. He’s got an NBA ready body and a face-up game that is very reminiscent of Joel Embiid. However, it remains to be seen how much he’ll impact the defensive end of the floor, seeing as he played out of position at Arizona. Mikal Bridges (8th) is a really solid prospect who defends and shoots well but giving up that 2021 pick is a huge overpay. Okobo (19th) might be the best PnR player in the entire draft and he could potentially start for Phoenix right from the get-go. However, he might be a complete liability on the defensive end. George King was not on my board at all heading into the Draft, so I’m incredibly surprised he went where he did.

Grade: B+

Oklahoma City Thunder

Gains: 45) Hamidou Diallo; 53) Devon Hall, SF, Virginia; 57) Kevin Hervey, SF, UT- Arlington

Losses: cash considerations (trade not reported yet)

Diallo (44th) is basically the higher profile version of Terrence Ferguson. Kentucky player who improved his three-point shot but gets by because of his extreme athleticism. It’ll be interesting to see the two of them on the floor together. Devon Hall (45th) is a prototypical 3-and-D guy but lacks the athleticism and ball-handling to really shine on either end. Hervey (42nd) is interesting as a bench scorer for this team as someone who can put the ball in the basket when Russ is off the floor.

Grade: B

Minnesota Timberwolves

20) Josh Okogie, SG, Georgie Tech; 48) Keita Bates-Diop, SF, Ohio St.

Okogie (22nd) has been a fast riser up draft boards. He was asked to do a little too much as the only NBA bound player on Georgia Tech, but he’s a really strong defender with a developed scoring touch. As his jumper develops, he’ll be a very interesting prospect. I have no idea how Bates-Diop (20th) lasted this long. He’s almost the perfect Thibs player, a big-bodied wing who can defend multiple positions and stroke threes. Strong draft overall.

Grade: A

Portland TrailBlazers

Gains: 24) Anfernee Simons, PG, IMG; 37) Gary Trent Jr.

Losses: 2 future seconds

Anfernee Simons (36th) is a really hard player to evaluate. How much of his production comes from playing against high schoolers? How well will his skills translate to this level? He’s an interesting developmental piece, but not one the Blazers will be able to count on right now. Trent (43rd) is a knockdown shooter and really highly regarded prospect before his season at Duke. However, he really struggled from the floor early in the season. It remains to be seen if he can do anything more than shoot and if Duke hid some of his skill set due to it’s stacked lineup in which 4 out of 5 starters were drafted.

Grade: C+

Golden State Warriors

28) Jacob Evans, SF, Cincinnati

Evans (31st) isn’t anything flashy, but he gets the job done on the defensive end and can knock down open threes. Despite the fact that the Warriors swept the Cavs in the Finals, it was clear that they had a lot of bigs on the roster that served no real purpose. This team needed wing depth, and Evans provides that.

Grade: B+

Washington Wizards

15) Troy Brown, SG, Oregon; Issuf Sanon, PG, Olimpija Ljubljana

Brown (21st) can do a little bit of everything on the court, which is why he’s appealing at this spot in the draft. However, the jumper is very concerning. If it never comes along, he’s a better ball-handling, worse defending Tony Allen. Sanon (68th) seems like a classic draft-and-stash pick.

Grade: B-

(feature image from Hoops Hype)

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