Grading every first round pick of the 2014 NBA Draft

1. Cleveland Cavaliers – Andrew Wiggins

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Grade: A

After the consensus first overall pick, Joel Embiid, went down with a broken foot, many felt that Wiggins was the best pro prospect in the draft. Andrew Wiggins is going to be a very good fit for the Cleveland Cavaliers. The addition of Andrew Wiggins will allow the Cavs to let go of Luol Deng if other teams bid too high for the Cavs. Although they could have used a big man, Wiggins will allow them to play great perimeter defense and add athleticism to the starting rotation. Besides Embiid, Wiggins has the highest ceiling because he has the most athleticism, is an improving shooter, plays great defense, and should be one of the best transition player in the league.


2. Milwaukee Bucks – Jabari Parker

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Grade: A

After the worst record in the league this season, the Bucks landed the Duke superstar. During his first season with the Blue Devils, Parker showed off his great offensive skills. Jabari Parker will be a great fit for the Bucks because they were one of the worst scoring teams in the league. Like Carmelo Anthony, Jabari has the ability to score anywhere from around the court. Parker is big enough to score inside the paint, has a great shooting touch, and possess a high basketball IQ. Since Parker does not have great athleticism, he does not play great defense.


3. Philadelphia 76ers – Joel Embiid

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Grade: N/A

The 76ers’ selection of Joel Embiid is by far the most interesting and risky selection of the 2014 draft. Embiid is the most fascinating player in the draft because of his immense upside, but previous injuries. Before Embiid’s back and foot injury, Embiid was the obvious number one selection because he has the potential to be similar to Hakeem Olajuwon. Although Embiid is incredibly raw, he has the size, footwork, interior moves, and athleticism to score inside the paint and play fabulous defense. The combination of Noel and Embiid will be devastating for the opposing teams inside the paint. However, if Embiid, like Brook Lopez, Yao Ming, and Bill Walton, is unable to overcome is chronic foot issues, he will become a bust.


4. Orlando Magic – Aaron Gordon

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Grade: B-

After the three best players, Embiid, Parker, and Wiggins, the Magic did not have an obvious player as the number four pick. After the Magic re-traded Aaron Afflalo to the Denver Nuggets, the Magic were without a legit point guard. Although Victor Oladipo played point guard last season, he is really a shooting guard. The addition of Dante Exum, instead of Aaron Gordon, would have been perfect for the Magic. Like Michael Carter Williams, Dante Exum has the size to see over the defense and set up other teammates. Also, the Magic have Tobias Harris, who has a similar skill set to Gordon. Gordon is a tweener because he does not have a great jumper, but does not the size to score inside of the paint.


5. Utah Jazz – Dante Exum

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Grade: A

Although the Utah Jazz needed a small forward, especially if Gordon Hayward leaves during free agency, Dante Exum was the best player on the board. Although the Jazz drafted point guard Trey Burke last year, the Jazz need more talent if they are going to finish their rebuilding stage and make the playoffs. The Jazz have a nice front court with Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors. The addition of a great back court player such as Dante Exum will allow the bigs to grow quicker and the team to succeed. Exum will let the Jazz to go huge with Favors, Kanter, Exum, Hayward, and Burks.


6.  Boston Celtics – Marcus Smart

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Grade: A-

Although the Celtics best player is a point guard, Rajon Rondo, they decided to draft another point guard, Marcus Smart. Although Smart returned to school and had a roller coaster sophomore year, which included a suspension, he is a great player because he is very good at many different aspects of the game. Although Smart is not a great shooter, he is a great finisher around the basket and has the speed to run by his opponents. On defense, Smart is similar to Rondo because he has great and fast hands, which allows him to accumulate steals against opposing guards.


7. Los Angeles Lakers – Julius Randle

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Grade: A

Due to their roster, which was devoid of talent, the Lakers had one of their worst seasons in NBA history. However, the Lakers are hoping to rebuild their roster and Julius Randle should significantly hasten their plan. During his year in Lexington, Randle showed his ability to effectively use his skill and size to dominate his opponents. The talented lefty is a double double machine, which will allow him to remain in the NBA, even if his offensive game does not convert to the NBA level. However, Randle is very quick, which enables him to blow by opposing defenders.


8. Sacramento Kings – Nik Stauskas

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Grade: B

The former Wolverine sharpshooter was drafted a few picks higher than many other experts predicted. Although Stauskas is a very good offensive player, the Kings did not need another shooting guard or small forward on their team. Last season, the Kings received Ben McLemore in the first round, who also plays shooting guard. Stauskas will help the Kings spread the floor and give DeMarcus Cousins more room in the post because he is a great sharp shooter. However, the better selection would have been Noah Vonleh. The Kings have a whole at power forward and Vonleh could have easily filled the void.


9. Charlotte Hornets – Noah Vonleh

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Grade: A

Although Vonleh was expected to be drafted in the top five, he fell all the way to 9, which was fortunately for the newly named Charlotte Hornets. Along with being the top player on the board, Vonleh filled a significant hole for the Charlotte Hornets at power forward. Noah Vonleh will perfectly fit into the Hornets’ plan because he has the ability to step outside and hit jumpers while possessing inside skills to dominate opposing defenders. Vonleh will provide important offense to the Hornets because last season they were one of the worst offensive teams in the league.


10. Philadelphia 76ers – Elfrid Payton (traded to Magic for Dario Saric and other future picks)

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Grade: B+

Dario Saric was the first European player selected in the 2014 draft. Saric will be an interesting player for the 76ers because they do not have a wing that they plan to build around. Currently, the 76ers’ future revolves around Saric, Embiid, Noel, and Michael Carter Williams. Saric has the size to be a power forward at the NBA level, but his build and talent make him a small forward. The development of Saric will be tricky because very few European wings have transformed into stars at the NBA level.


11. Denver Nuggets – Doug McDermott (traded to the Bulls)

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Grade: B+

If the Nuggets can receive a half of the production that McDermott provide while he was at Creighton, he will be a solid player and potential All-Star. However, very few white college stars have converted their talents to the NBA level. On offense, McDermott should be able to shoot at a high level and score points. During his four years at the college level, McDermott showed that he can shoot a high percentage from three while possessing a deadly mid range game. The Bulls traded for McDermott because they are hoping that he can provide a spark to their offense, which ranked as one of the worst in the league. However, Dougie McBuckets will have trouble finding playing time if his defense is hurting the team.


12. Orlando Magic – Dario Saric (traded to 76ers for Elfrid Payton)

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Grade: A-

After selecting a big with the number 4 overall pick, the Magic needed a point guard for the future. Elfrid represents the new trend of point guards that are tall, which enables them to see over the defense garner more assists. At 6’4″, Payton uses his height and athleticism to bully opposing point guards. Payton will be a perfect fit for the Magic as they build around Vucevic, Payton, Gordon, and Oladipo. Payton will give the Magic a true point guard, which will help distribute the ball and keep the young players happy and attentive.


13. Minnesota Timberwolves – Zach LaVine

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The 6’6″ point guard/shooting guard has rocketed up the draft board over the last month. Although LaVine did not have a good year at UCLA, he is incredibly raw and looks like a poor man’s Russell Westbrook. LaVine has amazing hops and speed, which makes him a terror in the open floor. The Timberwolves need a shooting guard of the future, especially if they decide to trade Kevin Martin in the same deal with Kevin Love. If LaVine can continue improving his jumper and handling ability, the Wolves will have a great duo in the backcourt.


14. Phoenix Suns – TJ Warren

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Grade: A-

Although the Suns surprised many prognosticators with their great play last season without the help of their first round selection Alex Len, the Suns plan to make major additions this offseason and TJ Warren is one of those additions. During the second half of the season, Warren became one of the best players in college basketball because he can do almost everything on a basketball court. Although Warren does not great physical abilities, he is a willing rebounder, solid shooter, and an underrated defensive player. The Suns had a hole at small forward and Warren should be able to hold the position for the next 5-10 years.


15.  Atlanta Hawks – Adreian Payne

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Grade: B+

Although the Hawks lets their best player leave during the previous offseason and lost their star center, Al Horford, to a season ending surgery, they made the playoffs and almost knocked off the Pacers in the first round of the playoffs. Through their struggles, they realized that they did not have enough depth in the front court. Payne was one of the most NBA ready players in the draft because of the four years he spent under the tutelage of Tom Izzo. When Payne was healthy, he showed an array of different talents that will help the Hawks return to the playoffs. Payne has the ability to step back, shoot threes, rebound, and score at the rim.


16. Chicago Bulls – Jusurf Nurkic (traded to the Denver Nuggets)

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Grade: B

The 19 year old center is a huge and formidable force in the middle. Nurkic stands 6’10” and 280 pounds with a 7’2″ wingspan. However, it is unlikely that Jusurf will be able to make an impact on the Denver Nuggets this season. Due to his great size and footwork, he is a good rebounder and capable scorer in the paint. The Nuggets will allow Nurkic to grow slowly because they are deep at the center position with Mozgov, Hickson, and McGee. If the Nuggets wanted to win over the next few seasons, they should have drafted a small forward or a shooting guard.


17. Boston Celtics – James Young

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Grade: A-

After selecting Marcus Smart with their first pick, it became obvious that the Celtics wanted to improve their front court. During his year in Lexington, Young showed why he could become a star in the future. Young will become a great fit for the Celtics, especially if they keep Rondo. Young has a deadly jumper, which he can let loose very quickly. However, Young must improve on his ability to go right if he is going to score on opposing defenses. Young’s length and athleticism will allow the Celtics to go small with Rondo, Smart, and Young,


18. Phoenix Suns – Tyler Ennis

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Grade: A-

The Suns will be in an interesting situation this offseason because of their cap room and free agents. The Suns’ two best players, Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic, are point guards, but it is unknown if they will be on the team long term. Bledsoe is a restricted free agent and it is likely that the Suns will be willing to give him close to the max deal, if they cannot sign another star. Ennis was one of the biggest freshman surprises during the season. Ennis is a traditional point guard, who is wants to pass before looking for his own shot. Although Ennis may not be a major contributor during his first few seasons, he will prove as a quality backup or trade asset for a star.


19. Chicago Bulls – Gary Harris (traded to the Nuggets)

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Grade: A

Although the Nuggets reacquired shooting guard, Aaron Afflalo, Gary Harris is one of the biggest steals of first round. Although Gary Harris is relatively undersized, he is a very good shooter and has the ability to play great defense. Gary has a quick release and has the ability to shoot the three at a high level. Harris will add a new attitude to the Denver Nuggets because he is a willing wing defender unlike the other Nuggets’ front court players.


20. Toronto Raptors – Bruno Cabocio

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Grade: C-

To say that the Raptors and GM Masai Uriji reached with their first pick and took a major risk would be an understatement. Although Bruno has potential, very few people had him in their mock draft, let alone the first round. The Raptors selected Bruno because he has immense potential, athleticism, and physical abilities. The 6’9″ small forward/power forward has a 7’7″ wingspan with incredible shot blocking instincts. However, it is likely that Bruno will need multiple years of practice and refining before he will be ready to start or make an impact at the NBA level.


21. Oklahoma City Thunder – Mitch McGary

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Grade: B

The Thunder have one of the best rosters in basketball, but they have many flaws that must be fixed if KD is going to win his first title. Although the Thunder’s main problem was depth and a shooting guard, who could score, they needed a legit center who can score and play defense. After a great NCAA tournament during his freshman year, McGary had a disastrous season due to drug problems and injuries. Although McGary does not have great athleticism, he is a bruiser, who uses his physicality to grab rebounds and score inside the post. McGary’s speed and quickness allows him to get by  other bigs.


22. Memphis Grizzlies – Jordan Adams

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Grade: B+

During the first half of the season, the Grizzlies were vastly underachieving and they were not set to make the playoffs. However, after the All-Star break, the Grizzlies became the best team in the NBA because of their great defense and the return of Marc Gasol. Although the Griz were massive underdogs, they were able to push the Thunder to 7 games. However, the Griz had difficulty shooting threes and spreading the floor. Although Jordan Adams does not have great athleticism, he is a very good shooter and is willing to constantly run off of screens in order to become open and earn his open shots.


23. Utah Jazz – Rodney Hood

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Grade: A

The Jazz best player, Gordon Hayward, is set to be a free agent this offseason and there is a high possibility that he will leave Utah. If Hayward does leave Utah, the Jazz will not have a reasonable back-up small forward. However, Hood has a chance to be future starter for the Jazz. Hood is a very good athlete with a solid lefty jumper. Although Hood has impressive skills and many believed that he would be a lottery selection, he has a very light frame, which could cause him to be abused on defense. On offense, he could have difficulty scoring near the post because he weighs only 208 pounds.


24. Miami Heat – Shabazz Napier

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Grade: A

The Miami Heat desperately need to convince LeBron to re-sign with them and Shabazz Napier could significantly help them sign LeBron. It has been clearly documented that LeBron’s favorite player in the draft was Napier. The Heat desperately need a point guard and Napier could be the answer to their problems. During his time in college, Napier showed that he had great skills, but more importantly the heart and willingness to do anything in order to win. Napier will be able to spread the floor because of his ability to shoot threes. Napier must learn how to become a pass first point guard because he will be at best the fourth scoring option.


25. Houston Rockets – Clint Capela

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Grade: C+

Due to Houston’s financial restraints, they had no intentions of selecting a player that would affect their payroll. However, Clint Capela does have some promise and potential. Although he has not refined his skills, he will have the opportunity and playing time in Europe. In terms of physical attributes, Capela has some of the best athleticism, quickness, size, and leaping ability.


26. Charlotte Hornets – PJ Hairston

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Grade: B

Similar to their selection of Noah Vonleh, the Hornets were looking to improve their offense through the draft. Although Hairston was dismissed from UNC and has a lot of off the field baggage, he is a fabulous offensive player, who can stretch the defense with his deep range. Unfortunately, Hairston does not put forth great effort during every game, which diminished his draft stock and make him a question mark.


27. Phoenix Suns – Bogdan Bogdanovic

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Grade: B-

Like many other European players, Bogdan has great size, high basketball IQ, and a quality jump shot. However, Bogdan has below average athleticism, which has hindered hundreds of Europeans, who have tried to make the jump from Euro ball to the NBA. The Suns have a hole at the shooting guard/small forward position and hope that Bogdan can partially fill the flaw.


28. Los Angeles Clippers – CJ Wilcox

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Grade: C+

The Clippers are hoping that the addition of CJ Wilcox will help them spread the floor and open the middle for DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin. The NBA is constantly changing and players that can play great defense and shoot threes are in demand. However, the Clippers already have a lot of players at the shooting guard position, who primarily shoot threes. The Clippers should have a drafted a big because they have no depth outside of Jordan and Griffin.


29. Oklahoma City Thunder – Josh Huestis

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Grade: C+

Similar to CJ Wilcox, the Thunder were looking for someone who could be a perimeter defender and shoot threes. However, Huestis is mainly a defensive player and lacks great offensive acumen. The Thunder already had Thabo Sefalosha, who like Huestis, does not provide much on the offensive side of the ball. Scott Brooks was unable to play Thabo down the stretch because his offensive game was so inept.


30. San Antonio Spurs – Kyle Anderson

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Grade: A-

Kyle Anderson is one of the most interesting prospects in the draft because he likes to play like a point guard but he has the body like a stretch 4. The Spurs can use Kyle Anderson like Boris Diaw. Although he does not possess the weight like Diaw, he is lengthy and has a great eye for finding open teammates.


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