“Lord give us this day our Andrew Wiggins. Deliver us from Embiid. Lead the Cavs not into temptation of drafting Wiggy. In Hinkie’s name we pray. Yeet”
– Guwop Curtis
Sixers fans all over the world(?) reveled at the idea of potentially getting the #1 pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. All the hard work the Sixers did in doing their best rendition of The Replacements and losing infinity games in a row, there was no way this “dream” would not come true. It was safe to say, their dreams were all but deflated when the Cavs won the #1 pick, the 3rd time in 4 years (the only streak in recent memory since the 1963-66 New York Knicks). With the Sixers winning the 3rd pick it was only a matter of time before they had their coveted Andrew Wiggins. Leading up to the draft, it was safe to say that Joel Embiid was the unanimous #1 amongst NBA General Managers; the analytics back him up. Tragically, Embiid suffered a navicular fracture, the same injury that limited Ilgauskus early in his career, the same injury that ended Yao Mings career and the same injury that caused Michael Jordan to miss 64 games (1985-1986). Red flags popped up all over the NBA and it was then that Sixers fans’ began panicking. But not Hinkie, a disciple of the pro-analytics Daryl Morey (Rockets GM), who definitely understands the value of draft picks and how to look past the hype (I seriously thought, given the #1 pick the Sixers would have drafted Embiid).
With that in mind there was still a draft to be completed. Based off of the data it looked as if to be the deepest draft in recent memory. Studying the model, the productivity of each NCAA player and being aware of each team needs, here are my grades for how each faired in the draft:
Cleveland Cavaliers: D
Andrew Wiggins (#1)
Joe Harris (#33)
With the best available pick on the board in Joel Embiid, the Cavs pass on him to pick a wing who’s NCAA production was not great. Essentially they picked a more athletic Dion Waiters. And Joe Harris is an undersized “shooter”. I’m still confused as to what direction the Cavs are heading into. What a waste.
Milwaukee Bucks: F+
Jabari Parker #2
Damien Inglis #31
Johnny O’Bryant #36
I don’t think theres such a grade as a F+. The only saving grace is the potential of Jabari Parker. His NCAA numbers are overvalued. The rest of the draftees seem to be fodder. Expect to see the Bucks in the lottery next year.
Philadelphia Sixers: A-
Joel Embiid #3
Dario Saric #12 (From the Magic)
KJ McDaniels #32
Jerami Grant #39
Vasilije Micic #52
Jordan McRae #58
Sixers might have won the draft again for the 2nd straight year. Picking 6 times in one draft is unheard of and batting .500 is pretty solid. Not a fan of the last three picks. At all. However, their 4 other picks more than make up for it. A potential Embiid and Noel lineup looks scary. Not only do they have cap space but not they have assets to make any trades necessary. NOTE: Saris signed a three year deal with Turkish team Anadolu Efes, so he’s likely not to see any action in Philly until then. But The Sixers are thinking long term and their future looks very bright by stashing top tier talent. ALLHAILHINKIE
Orlando Magic: D-
Aaron Gordon #4
Elfrid Payton #10 (From Sixers)
Roy Devyn Marble #56 (From Denver Nuggets)
Things haven’t gone right in Orlando since Dwight went to LaLa land. Choosing Gordon at #4 is down right despicable. He proved nothing in the NCAA other than being able to dunk a basketball. He’s short for his position and very unproductive. The bright spot was receiving Payton, a very productive guard similar to Damien Lilliard.
Utah Jazz: F
Dante Exum #5
Rodney Hood #23
I’m sure the Jazz saw every Australian tape imaginable of Dante Exum to pick him at #5. And to compound that, they chose Rodney Hood. Its safe to assume they’ll be back in the lottery again for the unseen future.
Boston Celtics: C-
Marcus Smart #6
James Young #17
Not sure of the direction the Celtics are taking. Smart is definitely a good pick but with Rondo still in Boston, are they going to keep or trade him? Young is another overhyped Kentucky guard. Gary Harris would’ve been a better pick there.
Los Angeles Lakers: A
Julius Randle #7
Great pick and solid player.
Sacramento Kings: D
Nik Stauskus #8
Ehhhhh. Great shooter and pretty athletic. But no way he goes #8. Do the Kings management even care anymore?
Charlotte Hornets: C-
Noah Vonleh #9
PJ Hairston #26 (From Miami Heat)
Dwight Powell #45
Michael Jordan finally got the draft right by picking Vonleh to replace last years mistake of Cody Zellar. Things were optimistic but when The Hornets chose Shabazz Napier but when they traded him to the Miami Heat for PJ Hairston the Hornets went back to drafting like the Bobcats. It looked like MJ was a LeBron fan on draft night.
Denver Nuggets: A+
Jusuf Nurkic #16 (From Chicago Bulls)
Gary Harris #19 (From Chicago Bulls)
Nikola Jokic #41
Gary Harris is a steal which should add to the Nuggets’ already horrendous 3pt shooting. After a struggle season by first year head coach Brian Shaw, things look to be on the up.
Minnesota Timberwolves: F
Zach Levine #13
Glenn Robinson III #40
Alessandro Gentile #53
The TWolves hope to keep Kevin Love. Drafting Markel Brown was great because it gives them a chance to take JJ Barea off the floor, but the Twolves bizarrely trade him to the Nets (ayyyyye) for cash. Nothing they did tonight points to the Twolves being able to keep Love. And the players drafted tonight will only keep them in the lottery next year.
Phoenix Suns: D+
TJ Warren #14
Tyler Ennis #18
Bogdan Bogdanovic #27
Alec Brown #50
My friend told me he believes in McDonough. Its hard to believe in someone that drafted so poorly in the past. With two point guards in the starting lineup, they decided to choose another young, but good point guard in Ennis, to play behind Bledsoe (who should sign back) and superstar Dragic. TJ Warren
Chicago Bulls: D-
Doug McDermott #11 (From Denver Nuggets)
Cameron Bairstow #49
Desperately needing some type of offensive boost, the Bulls managed to get sharpshooter Doug McDermott. The model doesn’t fully think he’ll develop into a star but he’ll be a serviceable shooter.
Toronto Raptors: F
Bruno Caboclo #20
Deandre Daniels #37
A player years away from being NBA ready and a undersized SF. Didn’t address their need to better defend the paint. I always thought Uriji was a terrific GM. He must have some terrific data on Caboclo that the model does not.
Oklahoma City Thunder: D+
Mitch McGary #21
John Huestis #29
Semaj Christon #55 (From Charlotte Hornets)
They seem to think that Huestis can replace Sefalosha. ehhhhhhh. Mitch McGary was a very good college player. However, his career was hampered by injury.
Memphis Grizzles: A+
Jordan Adams #22
Jarnell Stokes #35 (From Utah Jazz)
Two superb players that can cause an impact immediately. Both players are top tier in college and are projected to be very efficient in the NBA. They were not the favorites to win the draft (if that even is an accomplishment) but clearly they did the education.
Miami Heat: B+
Shabazz Napier #24
An upgrade over both Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole. The models thinks hes a very productive player and his playmaking abilities and flash would surely fit in Miami.
San Antonio Spurs: B
Kyle Anderson #30
Nemanja Dangubic #54
Kyle Anderson was a steal at #30. He was definitely a top 5 prospect. Though slow, he might be the “Kawhi” of this draft. I’m definitely calling it. Dangubic doesn’t do anything remotely well. It reminds me of drafting in 2k and you accidentally have it on auto-draft, of the worst remaining players. Doubt Pops cares though.
Brooklyn Nets: C+
Markel Brown #44 (From Minnesota Timberwolves)
Xavier Thames #59 (From Toronto Raptors)
Cory Jefferson #60 (From Philadelphia Sixers via San Antonio Spurs)
Prokhorov needed some assets seeing that they did lose an estimated $144million in the 2013-2014 NBA season. Going into the draft with ZERO picks due to trading them all for Celtic geriatrics not named Jesus, it was astonishing that the Nets managed to get three draftees (Not really, reports say that they spent northward of $1million to get these draft picks). Markel Brown is the best pick based on the model. As a Nets fan I hope they can package him with Deron Williams and/or Brook Lopez to attract some FAs.
New Orleans Pelicans: D+
Russ Smith #47 (From Philadelphia)
An undersized guard that may get a chance to prove himself in desolate New Orleans. Not much of any good going on there besides Anthony Davis.
Los Angeles Clippers: F
CJ Wilcox #28
A player similar to Tony Wroten, but worse. Not much else to be said in Doc Rivers’ first year as dual Head Coach/GM. The Clippers’ playoff roster was very weak. And this draft pick doesn’t make them worse but neither is it good.
New York Knicks: C+
Cleanthony Early #34
Thanasis Antetokounmpo #51
Louis Labeyrie #57 (From Indiana Pacers)
Entered the draft similar to the Nets with no draft picks. They managed to make a trade and receive 2 draft picks and trade for another. Going 1 for 3 isn’t a total failure (Labeyrie was a great player in a not so competitive French league) but they’ll need to get more pieces if they plan on trying to keep Melo. If I were GM I’d execute a sign and trade with Melo because quite frankly he’s overrated.
WTF Are they Thinking:
This was a draft for the ages (too early to say that?). The Sixers stockpiled their assets from last seasons tanking efforts and managed to draft some very promising pieces. Even though they tanked the hardest, they didnt end up with the #1 (thanks to David Sterns parting gift) and they failed to maximize their chances. The Grizzles played well into the playoffs and were still able to come away with two superb players. And the Spurs won the NBA Finals despite AC Malfunction Gate and still managed to get a top 5 prospect. Drafting players is a tough task in this day and age. But theres no excuse for drafting players just for them to star on a DLeague team. That’s very inefficient. Why draft a player because of their impressive performance in the NCAA tournament? Why take a chance on someone who’s only played 1 subpar year? Because they show potential of growing into something a better player? I am vehemently against drafting players after 1 year of playing college basketball. Sabotaging your NBA season in hopes of drafting a player that will help you win the NBA championship is fools gold. This is why good teams stay good and bad teams stay bad. The Cavs struck gold when they got LeBron James and ever since then they’ve been trying to get another fix thanks to David Stern. Needless to say, it hasn’t worked out for them. Chasing Waterfalls is definitely not a championship strategy. And once you’re hooked “Welcome To Mediocrity, next stop more Mediocrity”.