Friday, June 27, 2014

2014 Draft Review and Grades: Atlantic Division

The first big piece of the NBA offseason has came and gone, with every team in the NBA having their chance at adding pieces to their roster through the draft.  There were some puzzling picks (Bruno Caboclo anybody?) and some savvy moves as there are every year.  This year's draft lived up to its level of hype from an entertainment standpoint and it should be fun to watch the moves play out.  The next step is the addition of any undrafted free agents before the summer leagues start in Orlando (July 5-11) and Las Vegas (July 11-21).  With about a week until then, let's take a division-by-division look at what each team has done with this year's draft class so far, and assign some grades.

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Boston Celtics: #6 - PG Marcus Smart; #17 - SG James Young 
UDFA: F Mike Moser, SG Davis Bertans, C Colton Iverson, F/C Daniel Coursey, G/F Devin Oliver

Some analysts have suggested that the Celtics' picks of Smart and Young could signal the end to the Boston tenures of Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley.  While Danny Ainge was quick to deny that today, stating how well they can all play together, you have to think the moves were made with that possibility in mind.  Don't expect the Rondo rumors to slow down after the draft.  As far as the players they picked, Smart is a high upside, high floor pick who should at the very least be a valuable defender.  Their options were basically Smart and Julius Randle; I think they made the right move.  He can play both guard spots and could start alongside Rondo come November if they're both around.  I think Young is a steal at 17 and could make for a very compelling tandem with Smart down the line if they both reach their potential.  Their UDFA additions don't feature any "big names", although some people saw Moser as a possible 2nd round pick.

Grade: A-

Brooklyn Nets: #44 - SG Markel Brown; #60 - PF Cory Jefferson
UDFA: F Kyle Casey, C Alen Omic

The Nets didn't own a pick going into the night, but bought their way into the 2nd round a couple of times to get a couple of All-Big Twelve team members in Brown and Jefferson.  Both players used all of their eligibility in college, possibly making them more likely to contribute right away.  Brown is an incredible athlete and could see minutes in the Nets' backcourt this year, especially if Marcus Thornton is dealt away.  Jefferson was a late bloomer at Baylor and could use some more seasoning, potentially in the D-League.  The Nets only gave up cash in the deals to get both guys, and if they can contribute, that would be a great addition for a team with salary cap troubles like Brooklyn.

Grade: B-

New York Knicks: #34 - SF Cleanthony Early; #51 - SF Thanasis Antetokounmpo
#57 - PF Louis Labeyrie
UDFA: G Langston Galloway, G/F Will Sheehey

Personally, I think the Knicks got themselves quite a steal with Cleanthony Early at #34.  He's an elite athlete, has developed his game in college as long as possible and showed signs of an efficient, well-rounded game that should translate at Wichita State.  If the Knicks do lose Carmelo Anthony, Early should be able to absorb a chunk of his minutes better than the average 2nd rounder (No, I'm not saying he can replace him).  Antetokounmpo could also play right away this year thanks to his time in the D-League last season, and has the frame and athleticism to be an impact defender.  I don't know much about Labeyrie, but being such a late pick and an international player, there's a decent chance he never sees NBA action.  I liked the Chandler trade from the Knicks standpoint when it happened the other day, and seeing what the picks turned into, I really like it now.  Good week for the Knicks.

Grade: A-  

Philadelphia 76ers: #3 - C Joel Embiid; #12 SF - Dario Saric; #32 - SF KJ McDaniels; 
#39 - SF Jerami Grant; #52 - PG Vasilije Micic; #58 - SG Jordan McRae
UDFA: SF Melvin Ejim; PF Ronald Roberts Jr.; PG Tim Frazier; SG Sean Kilpatrick; 
PG Aaron Craft; SG Fuquan Edwin; SF JaKarr Sampson; PG Scottie Wilbekin; SG Isaiah Sykes

The 76ers decided not to let Joel Embiid fall too far last night, as they snatched him up 3rd overall.  If that wasn't enough of a signal that they won't rush their rebuild, trading back to 12th and taking Dario Saric was.  Saric will play at least two more years in Europe, and could be over there longer.  With Embiid likely out until at least December, the Sixers will look to their four 2nd round picks to contribute.  McDaniels and Grant are both high upside wings with more to offer on defense.  McDaniels has a better shot at making a positive impact on offense.  Micic is a great value at #52 and could play minutes right away if he comes over this year.  McRae is very thin and is likely slated for some D-League time.  It looks like they have a full summer league roster, and I like the additions of Ejim, Edwin and Sampson.  Overall, their draft class isn't going to make them much better this year, but could pay dividends in a few years.  Another upside is, they seem to be positioning themselves for Emmanuel Mudiay or one of the other projected top five picks next year.  However, I'm not really grading on how their moves positioned them for next year's draft.

Grade: C

Toronto Raptors: #20 - F Bruno Caboclo; #37 - SF DeAndre Daniels

Who the hell is Bruno Caboclo?  I consider myself to be fairly aware of draft prospects and I had literally never heard his name until last night.  Draft Express didn't have him ranked in the Top-100, and I hadn't seen his name on any mock drafts  in the first or second round.  It might be safe to assume that the Raptors panicked when Ennis came off the board at 18 and they ran with the Caboclo idea.  It's great to get a player you like, but why not trade down to 60 and take him?  Seriously, was this guy even going to get drafted if Toronto didn't do it?  As a player, Caboclo is 6'9 with a 7'7 wingspan, and I've seen him referred to as "The Brazilian LeBron" on a few different sites.../makes jerk-off motion in the direction of those sites.  Masai Ujiri has probably earned the benefit of the doubt, so from a talent standpoint, this very well may be a great pick.  However, did they really feel they had to grab him at 20?  Why not trade down 10 or 20 picks and scoop him up on a non-guaranteed contract?  Caboclo is expected to play in the Summer League in Las Vegas, so we may find out soon how good (or raw) he is.  Daniels is a good pick at 37, and is definitely somebody people have heard of, which is apparently a factor when you're judging the Raptors' picks.  I was unable to find any mentions of Undrafted Free Agents the Raptors had picked up for summer league ball.

Grade: D-

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