One thing that became crystal clear early in the 2016 NBA Draft is PFs with 3-point range are much more coveted and PFs without such skills need not apply. Players with a lesser defensive/rebounding skill set than Andrea Bargnini brought 10 years ago were being gobbled up with early picks. I thought this run on stretch 4s was crazy and will end badly for the teams involved, but I could be a dinosaur in my thinking.
I was most impressed with teams that just stood pat with their picks and grabbed the best player available without getting involved in all the chaos. I grade on a curve, giving 3 As and Fs, 6 Bs and Ds and 12 Cs. The grades are a combination of how much a team improved through use of their 2016 draft pick and how what they ended up with compared with other options available.
A: Oklahoma City Thunder: Traded Serge Ibaka for Domatas Sabonis and Victor Oladipo: I do like this deal, even though Ibaka could be tough to replace. The Thunder are a team with legitimate championship aspirations in the next few years. They have 2 of the 5 top players in the game. Ibaka had declined in consecutive seasons and reportedly wasn’t happy about his role. That’s not a player a contending team wants around. That they were able to get a young, improving defensive whiz like Oladipo and a nice prospect like Sabonis in return feels like a coup. The Thunder aced this for making a bold, but necessary move to get over the top.
A: New Orleans Pelicans: Buddy Hield, Cheick Diallo: The Pels had a great night. If there was a team that needed the immediate help a player like Hield brings the Pels are it. In Diallo they scoop up a young big with a ton of potential.
A: Houston Rockets: Chinanu Onuaku and Zhou Qi: Houston nabbed the two players I consider to be the top 2 center prospects in the draft in round 2. There own pick went to Denver for Ty Lawson last summer. Lawson hasn’t been a good fit, but is young enough that it still could work out. I predict it won’t be long before the other 29 NBA teams rue the day they let Onuaku and Qi slide to the Rockets.
B: Philadelphia 76ers: Ben Simmons, Timothe Luwawu, Furkan Korkmaz The Sixers nabbed the best player in the draft and a couple of so-so wings from overseas. Any time a team brings in a talent like Simmons that’s a good thing. While his upside is uncertain, you can’t pass on a talent like Simmons. One of the picks originally cost them Thad Young, a good player who still has 3-5 good years left. But the reason I knocked them down to a B is they dumped Hinkie before the Process was completely played out. That kind of pisses me off.
B: LA Lakers: Brandon Ingram: Ingram is another good, young building block for the post-Kobe team. With the Lakers and their history as a league power I’m not sure if they’ll stay in rebuilding mode long. In Ingram they added the best asset available to them and they get credit for that.
B: Memphis Grizzlies: Wade Baldwin, Deyonta Davis: Getting Deyonta Davis in round 2 is one of the steals of round 2 not made by the Rockets.
B: Indiana Pacers: Traded pick for Thad Young. I like this move. Young adds a solid pro to a Pacer team that’s should be in the thick of the EC playoff picture.
B: Minnesota Timberwolves: Kris Dunn. The 2016 draft is one we’ll look back on and realize the teams that stood pat and drafted the best player available were the smart ones. As always is the case.
B: Chicago Bulls: Denzel Valentine: Another best player available pick gets rewarded with a B. Resisting the temptation to deal Jimmy Butler for a top 5 pick was the smartest move of the week.
C: Miami Heat: This pick ended up with the Sixers was originally sent to Cleveland in sign-and-trade for LeBron after The Decision. So while Heat fans were sitting out the draft they had happy memories of the back-to-back titles LeBron brought to town. Most fans would be happy to sit out a future draft for those memories.
C: Toronto Raptors: Jakob Poeltl, Pascal Siakam: The only quibble I have here is I felt there were better players on the board than Poeltl at #9. But Poeltl is a decent addition, as is Siakam. They get bonus points because they acquired this pick for Andrea Bagnani, the prototype PF with no skills other than an outside shot.
C: Washington Wizards: Traded pick for Markieff Morris. This has a decent chance to work out well.
C: LA Clippers: Brice Johnson, Ivica Zubac, Diamond Stone: The Clippers did a nice job adding some young bigs who could develop. Johnson may even give them some quality minutes right away.
C: Boston Celtics: Jaylen Brown, Guerschon Yabusele, Ante Zizic: Brown was a solid pick at #3. He’s another good young piece. Yabusele was one of the biggest reaches of the first round, a heavy PF who brings little other than 3-point shooting. In general the Celtics have disappointed in the way they’ve handled the jackpot they got from Brooklyn two years ago. This is still nothing more than a well-coached collection of decent young players. There might be a move or signing coming later this summer, but draft night was a continuation of squandering the sudden wealth of draft picks received from Brooklyn.
C: Sacramento Kings: Georgios Papagiannis, Malachi Richardson, Skal LaBissiere: Getting LaBisierre as late as they did was a smart move that could pay off in a big way down the road and that’s why they get a thumbs up. Papagiannis and Richardson were reaches though and in general the Kings did not maximize their draft picks.
C: Detroit Pistons: Henry Ellenson: At least Ellenson can grab a rebound. If he can fix his weak scoring efficiency he’ll be a good one.
C: Milwaukee Bucks: Thon Maker: I had a feeling Maker would hear his name called earlier than expected. As I mentioned earlier, I have no opinion on players I have no stats on, so with Maker I will just give Milwaukee a C. I will say that the Bucks were the team that identified Giannis Antetokounmpo as a future star when he was nothing more than a raw, lanky teen with no stats to analyze.
C: San Antonio Spurs: Dejounte Murray: If there were betting lines on the future of players drafted, the odds on Dejounte Murray becoming a star would have dropped to about even after the Spurs picked him. We assume he’ll be great because it’s the Spurs. I do like the logic though. A talented team should be looking for players like Murray who won’t help right away, but could pay off big in a couple of years.
C: Golden State Warriors: Damian Jones and Patrick McCaw: They don’t use centers anyways. Why would they draft one, let alone one who is overvalued? McCaw a better pick and could be a great fit in this offense.
C: Orlando Magic: Traded pick for Serge Ibaka: Perhaps a change of scenery will get Ibaka back to the player he was. Oladipo and the pick seem like a lot to give up for a player the Thunder may have been looking to move anyways.
C: Atlanta Hawks: Taurean Prince and DeAndre Bembry: They traded Teague for the pick that became Prince. Prince is quite a reach here, but Bembry is a nice addition. Replacing Teague with Schroder looks like a wash, but the depth will be hurt. I don’t see how the Hawks improved.
D: Charlotte Hornets: Traded the pick for Marco Belinelli according to reports. Belinelli declined badly last year and will be 30 next year. Belinelli will add more than Richardson, a ridiculous reach here, but the best move would have been to take one of the several bigs who were falling.
D Cleveland Cavaliers: It is kind of hard to decipher how this pick ended up being Skal LaBissiere to the Kings. It looks like Tyler Zeller was involved. It doesn’t really matter because the Cavs are champs.
D: Portland Trailblazers: Traded pick for Arron Afflalo. There were some nice young bigs available at 19 who would have been a good fit on this young Blazer team.
D: Utah Jazz: Traded pick for George Hill. I do not like this trade. Hill is 30 and declined a lot last year. Perhaps he’ll give the Jazz a steady
D: Denver Nuggets: Jamal Murray, Juan Hermangomez, Malik Beasley: When a team tears apart the roster for draft picks to tank and rebuild the expectation is the picks will bring more than a couple of so-so SG prospects and a PF whose only skill is shooting the 3-pointer. The Nuggets didn’t have an epic bad night like the Suns, but they hardly changed the course of the franchise.
D: Dallas Mavericks: Traded pick for Rajon Rondo. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but didn’t work out so well.
F: New York Knicks: Traded pick for Andrea Bargnani. Bargnani to the Knicks was a bust. Bargnani as the first overall pick in 2006 was a bust. Let this be a warning to teams that drafted the likes of Bender, Chriss, Hermangomez and Yabusele. Drafting a PF who can’t rebound rarely ends well.
F: Brooklyn Nets: Drafted Caris LeVert with pick acquired for Thad Young. I like LeVert, but should Brooklyn really be dealing a solid player in his prime like Young for a draft pick. Tanking will only enhance the value of a pick that will eventually end up in Boston.
F: Phoenix Suns: Dragan Bender, Marquese Chriss: The Suns were poised to make a killing. They had three first rounders in a draft that had a ton of intriguing prospects available late. They ended up with a couple of athletic PFs who can’t rebound. This is what they gave up Isaiah Thomas and Markieff Morris for?