This article is the continuation of two-part series ‘Grading the First Round of NBA Draft Picks.’ Read the first ten teams’ grades here!
San Antonio Spurs: Grades: B+
For the first time in 22 years, the Spurs missed the Playoffs; with that, a small rebuild of the team is likely to happen. With the 11th pick, the Spurs took Forward Devin Vassell from Florida State University, who is a great wing defender and shot an impressive 41 percent from the three-point line. The team also took Guard Tre Jones from Duke University for their 41st pick in the draft.
Sacramento Kings: Grade: B-
The Kings have been struggling for a while now, and even with a promising young core, they have yet to put the pieces together to make the playoffs. The addition of their 12th pick, Tyrese Haliburton from Iowa State, will make a great pairing with De’Aaron Fox. He might not do so well, possibly, with Buddy Hield on the court, as both players have similar playing styles and play the same position. The Kings also landed the 40th and 43rd picks, for which they chose Forward Robert Woodard from Mississippi State and Guard Jahmi’us Ramsey from Texas Tech.
New Orleans Pelicans: Grade: B
The Pelicans were in a great spot last year, as they had the first pick and were able to take Zion Williamson; he lived up to expectations even in just the few games he played. This year, though, they went down to 13th for the draft and needed a player to help fill the gap caused by Guard Jrue Holiday, who left in a trade to the Milwaukee Bucks. They did that by picking up Guard Kira Lewis Jr. from the University of Alabama. However, many questions whether he will be able to play alongside Guard Lonzo Ball, whose play style is very different from his own. The arrival of veteran Guards Eric Bledsoe and George Hill from the Bucks trade will only make it even more difficult.
Boston Celtics: Grade: B
Honestly, as a Lakers fan, I could care less about who the Celtics drafted, and would love to give them an F regardless, but, for the sake of this, I must care. The Celtics are missing something that they need in order to win a championship, but that something is hard to identify. They had three picks this year: 14th, 26th, and 47th, and it is difficult to tell if any of these picks will make an impact right away. Their 14th pick, Guard Aaron Nesmith from Vanderbilt University, gives them more shooting options. However, he will have a hard time fitting into this starting squad because the team already has great players in the guard position. Their 26th and 47th picks, Guards Payton Pritchard from the University of Oregon and Yam Madar from Israel, might also need time before being able to contribute to this squad.
Orlando Magic: Grade: B
What the Magic needs is help on is three-point shooting, and with their only pick in this draft, they may have found some assistance. They took Guard Cole Anthony from the University of North Carolina, who needs to improve his three-point game from all over the court in order to really help out this Magic team.
Oklahoma City Thunder: Grade: B
The Thunder are likely a team to look forward to in the coming year. They currently have a large number of picks — a possible 21 over the next six years. This year, though, they did their best in the position that they were in, taking Forward Aleksej Pokuševski from Olympiacos Piraeus in at the 17th. Pokuševski adds some much-needed height to this team, but brings them some excellent shooting as well. As for their 34th and 37th picks, they took Guards Théo Maledon from France and Vít Krejčí from the Czech Republic, who are both excellent prospects for the future.
Dallas Mavericks: Grade: A-
The Mavs have been in need of a wing who could score and defend, and for the 18th pick, they appropriately took Forward Josh Green from the University of Arizona. Green is a great scorer and defender, and even though he is not the greatest at creating off the dribble, he does not need to be, as he has Luka Dončić for that. For their 31st and 36th picks, they picked up Guard Tyrell Terry from Stanford University and Forward Tyler Bey from the University of Colorado.
Miami Heat: Grade: B
The Heat were the runner ups this past season, as they lost to the L.A. Lakers in the NBA Finals. Really, the thing they needed most was to get support in the forward position and to keep their free agents. So far, they have done both of those things. They took Forward Precious Achiuwa from the University of Memphis, who was the American Athletic Conference Player of the Year and averaged a double-double this past season.
Philadelphia 76ers: Grade: B+
The Sixers are losing valuable time in which they have the opportunity to win a championship, as both Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid’s contracts get closer to ending. Having both of them in the same lineup makes it difficult for the Sixers to make a choice when it comes to offensive power. Tyrese Maxey, the Guard from the University of Kentucky, certainly brings another offensive opposition, but he may find it difficult to establish his game on the offensive end. The Sixers also chose Guard Isaiah Joe from the University of Arkansas and Forward Paul Reed from DePaul University for their 49th and 58th picks.
Denver Nuggets: Grade: B+
The Nuggets are a great, young team, and their last playoff proved that. However, they need someone who can make plays on their own and take the pressure off of Nikola Jokić and Jamal Murray. Guard R. J. Hampton, from the New Zealand Breakers, is someone who can do that, as he is able to create space and drive the ball. They also picked up Center Zeke Nnaji from the University of Arizona, who is a big man and can complement Jokić when he’s on or off the court.
Utah Jazz: Grade: B-
Towards the end of the first round of the draft, anyone can be picked. The Jazz really did not need to add too much to their team; their focus was to strengthen their bench. Their 27th pick, Udoka Azubuike from the University of Kansas, is a good backup center to Rudy Gobert. The team also took Guard Elijah Hughes from Syracuse at 39th.
Toronto Raptors: Grades: B-
The Raptors needed players that could contribute in close, final-minute moments. Just like most of their guards, their 29th pick, Malachi Flynn from San Diego State, is a small guard who can defend well and will be a good pick for the future. They also picked up Guard Jalen Harris from the University of Nevada.
Memphis Grizzlies: Grade: B
The Grizzlies were an exciting team to watch last season, as they were being led by Rookie of the Year Ja Morant. Towards the end of the season, the team seemed to lose gas and just missed the playoffs. With the addition of their picks — which could change next year, as they had the last pick of the first round — they acquired Guard Desmond Bane from Texas Christian University, who will complement Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr., as he shot an impressive 44 percent from three. Their 35th pick, Center Xavier Tillman from Michigan State University, will help with additional size.
The upcoming season looks exciting for the NBA as free agency is underway right now and teams are still looking to trade for success. Hopefully, all teams chose their drafts wisely, made the correct trade, and signed the best free-agent which they need in order to find success this year and proved fans with another great season.
Featured Image: Courtesy of NBA.com