Wednesday, July 2, 2014

2014 Draft Review and Grades: Southeast 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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Atlanta Hawks: #15 - F/C Adreian Payne; #43 - C Walter Tavares; #48 - SG Lamar Patterson
UDFA: G Stephen Holt, G/F Casey Prather, PF DJ Shelton, F Travis Wear

The Hawks added to an already solid frontcourt of Horford, Millsap and Antic with more depth in the draft.  Payne fits the mold in Atlanta's frontcourt as a big man who can shoot without suffering much as a rebounder.  Payne should figure into Atlanta's rotation, both this year and in the long run.  How much he can play should depend on how well he shoots the ball.  Tavares is a high risk, high reward pick, which is ideal for the 2nd round.  His shot blocking would be a nice addition to a frontcourt that doesn't feature much outside of Horford, who isn't exactly elite himself.  Patterson figures to be a project, and he isn't the type of player I feel comfortable projecting to an NBA roster any time soon.  Overall, the Hawks got solid value with each of their picks.


Charlotte Hornets: #9 - PF Noah Vonleh; #26 - SG PJ Hairston
UDFA: C Jordan Bachysnki, F Josh Davis, G Roberto Nelson, F Justin Jackson

The Hornets were able to get what some people considered a top-five talent in Vonleh when he slipped to 9th.  Vonleh adds depth to an already competitive frontcourt featuring Al Jefferson, Cody Zeller, Bismack Biyombo and the possible return of Josh McRoberts.  The depth in the post for Charlotte could allow Vonleh to develop his game without the pressure of big minutes.  With their other pick, the Hornets just might have added a starting SG.  Charlotte already has Gerald Henderson and Gary Neal, but Hairston arguably has a higher natural talent level.  If it weren't for off-court issues that saw Hairston kicked out of UNC, he may have been a late lottery pick.  Bachynski is a good Summer League pick-up.


Miami Heat: #24 - PG Shabazz Napier
UDFA: F Jerrelle Benimon, SG Andre Dawkins, G Langston Hall, G Tyler Johnson, 
PF Eric Moreland, PF Ronald Roberts Jr.

The Heat moved up a couple spots from where they were originally slotted at 26th to take the guy that LeBron had been clamoring for.  All it cost them was two 2nd round picks, the 55th pick this year (Semaj Christon) and a future 2nd.  That's a low cost to acquire a talented player who may or may not help Miami keep LeBron in town.  On the court, Napier has a well-rounded game and should fit well into Miami's offense, both playing off the ball and leading the offense.  He's not a pass-first PG, but the Heat don't need one with LeBron running the show.


Orlando Magic: #4 - PF Aaron Gordon; #10 - PG Elfrid Payton; #56 - SG Devyn Marble
UDFA: F Kadeem Batts, C Asauhn Dixon-Tatum, G/F Luke Hancock, 
PG Kendrick Perry, F Augustine Rubit, SG Darrius Williams

This is supposed to just focus on the draft, but the Magic might be having the worst offseason of any team in the league.  Aaron Gordon is a talented athlete, there's no doubting that; however, the Magic passed on Dante Exum, the better basketball player for him.  Not to mention the potential that an Exum-Oladipo backcourt could offer.  Orlando decided to fill their backcourt need with a trade for Elfrid Payton, the 10th pick in the draft.  In return they gave Philadelphia the 12th pick, a conditional first round pick in 2017 and a 2015 second round pick.  That 2017 pick originally came from the Sixers, and could very well be a high pick, considering the path that Philly is on.  Marble is worth a chance at the back end of the 2nd round, although the SG position is pretty crowded in Orlando after trading for Evan Fournier and picking up Willie Green and Ben Gordon.  Fournier was acquired along with the pick used on Marble for Arron Afflalo the morning of the draft, a return that was considerably less than what most think they could have received for him.  It just doesn't really seem like the Magic have much of a plan going forward.


Washington Wizards: No picks
UDFA: F Khem Birch, PG Deonte Burton, C Ian Chiles, G/F Jarell Eddie, C Daniel Miller

The Wizards sold their only pick of the draft (#46 - G Jordan Clarkson) to the Lakers for an unspecified amount of cash.  Clarkson probably could have been of use to the Wizards off the bench, so the move is a bit puzzling from that standpoint.  However, it looks like they've decided to bring back Andre Miller for another season.  Deonte Burton could make the roster as depth at PG if he plays well for Washington in the Summer League.


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