NBA


I’ve done this twice already with mixed results.  In the first year I returned a virtual $6090 on a virtual $5115 (that’s good!) and in the second year I returned a virtual $4788 on a virtual $5115 (that’s not good!)  Overall, that makes $10,878 on $10,230, so I’m still virtually ahead, but not by so much as to get excited.  Maybe this year I can redeem myself.  I’ll let the paragraph from the last two years that explains why the odd dollar values stand, right here:

What the heck is the deal with $5115? I’ll get to that in a minute. But the idea is that I have to lay a bet on each of the 30 over/unders. Rather than allow myself to distribute the money completely freely, I’m going to play it like a pick ’em with confidence points. For instance, if I think the line on the Sacramento Kings this year is really, really wrong I’m going to put $30 on them, then $29 on the line I think is next safest, and so on. Except $30 doesn’t really work great, because (as best as I can figure – remember, I’m not a big gambler) your typical over/under bet pays at +110, or in other words, wager $11 to win $10. So if I bet $30 and won, then I’d get the bet back plus $27.27272727. That’s just tough to deal with. So instead of betting $30, I’m going to bet $30*11 = $330, so that if I win, I get $300 on top. It just makes everything come out in whole numbers. And that means that the total I have to wager is $5115.

And with that said, time to do some non-gambling!

(Odds taken from Westgate Las Vegas Superbook 9/4/17)

Team O/U Wins My Pick Act. Wins Wager Return
Houston Rockets 55.5 Over $330 $630/$0
Boston Celtics 54.5 Over $319 $609/$0
San Antonio Spurs 54.5 Over $308 $588/$0
Charlotte Hornets 42.5 Over $297 $567/$0
Detroit Pistons 38.5 Under $286 $546/$0
Washington Wizards 48.5 Over $275 $525/$0
Los Angeles Lakers 32.5 Over $264 $504$0
Los Angeles Clippers 44.5 Under $253 $483/$0
Phoenix Suns 29.5 Under $242 $462/$0
Cleveland Cavaliers 53.5 Over $231 $441/$0
Denver Nuggets 45.5 Over $220 $420/$0
Miami Heat 43.5 Over $209 $399/$0
Brooklyn Nets 27.5 Under $198 $378/$0
Memphis Grizzlies 37.5 Under $187 $357/$0
New Orleans Pelicans 39.5 Under $176 $336/$0
Atlanta Hawks 25.5 Under $165 $315/$0
Sacramento Kings 28.5 Over $154 $294/$0
Utah Jazz 40.5 Over $143 $273/$0
Dallas Mavericks 35.5 Under $132 $252/$0
Indiana Pacers 31.5 Over $121 $231/$0
Portland Trailblazers 42.5 Under $110 $210/$0
Orlando Magic 33.5 Under $99 $189/$0
Milwaukee Bucks 47.5 Over $88 $168/$0
New York Knicks 30.5 Under $77 $147/$0
Oklahoma City Thunder 51.5 Under $66 $126/$0
Golden State Warriors 67.5 Under $55 $105/$0
Toronto Raptors 48.5 Under $44 $84/$0
Chicago Bulls 21.5 Under $33 $63/$0
Minnesota Timberwolves 48.5 Over $22 $42/$0
Philadelphia 76ers 41.5 Under $11 $21/$0

The Stupid Lines

Houston:  Last year Houston won 55 games.  I mean, that’s a lot, but they did it.  This year, they swapped Patrick Beverley out to get Chris Paul back, and they only need to win 56 games (that’s one more game, folks) to beat the over?  Umm, like there’s any doubt at all?  OVER.

Boston: Last year Boston won 53 games.  They did this with Isaiah Thomas, Al Horford, Jae Crowder, a young Jaylen Brown, and a bunch of support guys.  Thomas and Crowder are gone, but replaced with Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward.  That’s called an upgrade.  In addition, the Celtics managed to draft Jayson Tatum, who is looking really good and wouldn’t surprise me to start right off the bat.  I’m not a fan of their depth at big man, but in today’s NBA, does that really matter?  The Celtics are better than they were last year, they have a great coach, they’re in an Eastern Conference that if anything got weaker, and they only need two more wins to secure the over.  No brainer.  OVER.

San Antonio:  Is losing David Lee and Jonathon Simmons (and replacing them with a rehabbing Rudy Gay) enough to drop the Spurs 7 wins from last year?  Umm, no.  OVER.

Charlotte:  The Hornets are bringing back 7 of their top 8 guys in minutes last year, and the guy they’re not bringing back (Marco Belinelli) is being replaced by a rookie who I think is going to be way better once he adjusts to the league (Malik Monk).  That’s probably worth 3-4 wins in an Eastern Conference that is generally perceived as having taken a step down.  Oh, also, I forgot to mention that they landed Dwight Howard.  They’re projected to be better than last year, but they only need 7 wins to take the over.  They should clear it pretty easily.  OVER.

Detroit:  Wait a minute – the Pistons are expected to plug Stanley Johnson and Avery Bradley into the roles vacated by Marcus Morris and Caldwell-Pope and they’re supposed to win two more games?  Sure, Bradley is a good defender, and Jackson missed some time due to injury, but the Pistons sure look like a worse team than last year to me.  Let’s be honest: Luke Kennard is not going to salvage this team.  UNDER.

The I-Feel-OK-About-This Lines

Washington:  The Wizards basically lost Bojan Bogdanovic and Trey Burke and that’s it. They’re bringing back their top 8 guys in minutes, into an Eastern Conference that has gotten weaker in general.  They’re projected to win only one more game than last year?  Seems like an easy call:  OVER.

Los Angeles Lakers:  Credit where credit is due – the Lakers made strides towards getting better this offseason.  They picked up the guy who I think is not only the best player in the draft but the readiest to play right now in Lonzo Ball.  They offloaded D’Lo and Mozgov for Brook Lopez.  Even bring in KCP to take over for Nick Young is probably a small upgrade.  Add to that expected improvement from Randle and hopefully a big-time step up from Brandon Ingram and this is a team poised to do quite a bit better than the 33 wins it’s going to take to beat the over.  I think they make it easily and at the very least contend for the #8 slot in the playoffs.  OVER.

Los Angeles Clippers:  So let’s see…lose Chris Paul, lose J.J. Redick, lose Jamal Crawford, and I’m to think that Patrick Beverley and Danilo Gallinari are going to keep the team from dropping more than 6 wins?  The Clippers will be not very good this year, and I have trouble seeing them in serious playoff contention, even with Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan.  UNDER.

Phoenix:  The Suns basically swapped out veteran P.J. Tucker for rookie Josh Jackson.  Everything else is basically the same.  I’m sorry, but this is not worth 6 wins, not this year.  UNDER.

Cleveland:  The line for Cleveland is 53.5, which feels really low for a LeBron-led team until you realize that last year they only won 51.  On top of that, they swapped out Kyrie for an injured Thomas.  But, they did pick up a Jae Crowder for their trouble, and they ARE led by LeBron.  The common wisdom online is screaming that this is a dead dumb stupid line and to take the over.  In the end, I think they’re right, but it might be a bit more skin-of-the-teeth than the internet thinks right now.  OVER.

Denver: I find it hard to believe that Denver is going to miss Gallinari too much next year.  Harris is on the rise, and Juancho made a case for being as good as Gallo anyway.  They’ll split the 3 between Chandler and Juancho, but the big add here is Millsap.  As long as they commit to Murray playing over Mudiay, I think they can get the 6 wins they need to make the over.  OVER.

Miami: Last year the Heat were a young team that scrapped and fought their way to .500.  This year, they are basically the exact same young team, except one year older and with the addition of Kelly Olynyk and Bam Adebayo.  Neither of those guys moves the needle a lot, but both move it a little, and the Heat only need to win three more games.  I say a year of chemistry is worth that, yes.  OVER.

Brooklyn: The Nets have stunk for quite a while now.  In addition, they’re going to miss Brook Lopez a lot.  I don’t really feel like Allen Crabbe is going to be that much better than Bojan Bogdanovic, either.  The big add here is D’Angelo Russell, and hey, as long as there’s nobody to snitch on, it might work.  But I’ve soured a decent bit on D’Lo at this point, so the question is: does -Lopez +D’Lo equal 8 more wins?  I don’t think so.  UNDER.

Memphis:  The Grizz were better last year than I thought they were going to be.  But they’ve lost the (admittedly aging) Z-Bo, Vinsanity, and Tony Allen, and are replacing them with Brandan Wright, a hopefully healthy Chandler Parsons, and Ben McLemore.  That’s not a move in the right direction.  They’re slated to lose 5.5 more games than last year, which sounds probably about right until I consider that they probably overachieved last year.  This will not be a good season for them.  UNDER.

New Orleans:  It’s the Boogie/AD show this year.  I’m not really sure it worked that well last year.  Holiday would appear to be healthy – will he stay that way?  The wing depth is terrible, just absolutely terrible.  If this thing starts out strong, maybe it continues.  If it starts out badly, I can see Boogie torpedoing the whole damn thing.  Six more wins?  That’s possible, but so is 12 more losses.  Gotta bet on Boogie to be Boogie.  UNDER.

Atlanta: With the loss of Dwight Howard and Paul Millsap, the Hawks are predicted to drop 17.5 games relative to where they were last year.  This alone makes this line a very hard call.  What I do know is that this Atlanta team is going to stink, it’s just a question of how badly.  Right now I think they’re going to be starting Schroder, Belinelli, Taurean Prince, Bazemore, and a Plumlee.  Basically, unless John Collins becomes an absolute monster, I don’t think that wins 25 games, even in the east.  I would make the Hawks a total wild card if they had anything resembling an NBA team, but they don’t.  UNDER.

The Tough Calls

Over the last two years the books were predicting either 10 or 16 wins more than were actually available.  This year it’s 12 too many wins.  Again, time to err on the side of the under when there’s no clearly correct choice.

Sacramento: The Kings have really thrown a monkey wrench into it here.  They got rid of Boogie at the trade deadline, then they went and got themselves FOUR new rookies to pair with their four second-year players.  This says they shouldn’t win very many games.  But then, they went and grabbed some really solid veteran leadership in George Hill (who will probably be the best overall player to man the point in Sacramento since Mike Bibby), some more solid veteran leadership in Vinsanity, and…well, Two-Pound Z-Bo.  On top of that they’re bringing in one of the very best players in Europe in Bogdan Bogdanovic.  It looks like they’re going to try to win some games.  And they can actually drop three more than last year and still make the over.  I’ve been taking a lot of unders, and I’ve got to take a risk on an over somewhere.  This seems like as good a place as any.  OVER.

Utah: Hayward is gone, and Hill (though oft-injured) has been downgraded to Rubio.  Normally that’s a recipe for a tank, and the bookmakers think that Utah will lose about 10 more games than last year.  Still, Ingles was better than anybody expected, Hood was hurt for a while, and rookie Donovan Mitchell is poised to be one hell of a spark plug.  They’ll be worse than last year, but not ten games’ worth.  OVER.

Dallas:  The Mavericks are going to be a tough call here.  They have a motivated Nerlens on a one-year QO, but Dirk is yet another year older and he was barely even a league-average player last year.  With another weak front line and nostalgia up the wazoo, can they avoid playing him 25 minutes a game?  I don’t think so.  So these guys average out.  Dennis Smith Jr., rookie version, is probably not a very much different player than Deron Williams, old man version.  So I feel like Dallas is going to tread water here.  They have to get three more wins to take the over, so I’ll go the other way.  UNDER.

Indiana:  Four of the Pacers’ top-six players in minutes from last year have left the Hoosier State, and two of them (Paul George and Jeff Teague) are going to be tough to replace.  That said, are the Pacers really going to lose 11 more games than last year?  Somebody has got to win in the Eastern Conference.  I think the Pacers clear this timber fence, to mix equestrian metaphors.  OVER.

Portland:  The Blazers are basically the same team, losing Crabbe and a Plumlee, adding foul machine Zach Collins whom I’m not super high on.  Do they win two more games than last year?  I don’t see it.  UNDER.

Orlando:  Here’s another team that hasn’t really done anything and needs to win 5 more games to beat the odds.  Seriously, this is the same team as last year, except with Jonathan Isaac (not really ready yet) and mid-season acquisition Terrence Ross (they didn’t win at a better rate once he showed up).  Will they get better?  Probably not.  Is the east now weak enough to gift them 5 more wins?  Probably not.  UNDER.

Milwaukee:  The Bucks are basically the same team as last year, bringing 8 of their top 9 players in minutes back, and they’re adding what is expected to be a full season from Khris Middleton.  They should be better.  The question is “how much better?”  The books have them winning six more games.  If it weren’t for Middleton, I’d say no, but Middleton.  OVER.

New York:  The books are saying that the Knicks are the same exact team this year as they were last year.  That’s more or less fair, though they’ve swapped out Derrick Rose for a wildcard in Ntilikina and they overpaid for Tim Hardaway Jr. to take over for Courtney Lee.  Carmelo doesn’t seem super happy.  Kristaps doesn’t seem super happy.  It won’t be much different, but I can’t hope to think it’s going to be any better.  UNDER.

Oklahoma City:  Out with Oladipo, in with Paul George.  The bookmakers have that move being worth 5 wins.  Normally I’d say yes, but I think that the Thunder overachieved a bit last year in their first Durant-free season, so it’s probably more like another 8-9 wins.  Another way to look at it: Is this team better than the T’Wolves?  I say no.  But they’re on the books for three more wins.  I gotta go with my gut on this one.  UNDER.

Golden State: Basically the same team, they need one extra win to make the over.  It’s a big over.  I’ll say no, and not feel terribly good about it.  UNDER.

Toronto:  I’ll be honest, I don’t know what to think about this Raptors team.  I think they overpaid for Kyle Lowry, but that doesn’t play into the wins total, just the ability of the franchise to move beyond early round playoff exits in the future.  No Ross, no Patterson, no Carroll, throw in a brand new C.J. Miles (meh) and a hopefully healthy Ibaka (better than meh) and ask Norman Powell to step up.  Is that a recipe for two fewer wins?  Or are they going to fall a bit more than that?  I’ll bet on the latter.  UNDER.

 

The Total Wild Cards

Chicago:  Trade away Jimmy Butler for junk, add in the fact that Wade may not even end up sticking around, and the Bulls are set to really really tank this year.  How badly is hard to tell, but the books have them 19.5 wins down from last year.  Can a team led by Kris Dunn, Robin Lopez, and Lauri Markkanen win 22?  I really don’t think they can.  It’s about whether or not Wade gets waived, and right now I’d say the tea leaves favor yes on that proposition.  If so, gotta go with the under, but with Wade still on board as yet I can’t quite put too much confidence in this one.  UNDER.

Minnesota: The T’Wolves knocked the draft out of the park by trading for Jimmy Butler and later bringing in Jeff Teague to replace Rubio.  The projection of 18 more wins seems a tough obstacle, but I’m not really looking at it that way at this point.  As it stands now, I think Minny is easily the 4 seed in the West.  How many wins does it take to get the 4 seed?  Say 50?  49 wins last year would have been the #6 seed.  The T’wolves only need 49 wins to make the over, so I’m guessing that they will get there despite needing a shocking 18 win improvement to do it.  It’s that need for an extra 18 wins that really brings my confidence in this prediction down.  If only they had managed 36 or 37 wins last year…  OVER.

Philadelphia: Add a full year of Embiid.  Add anything at all of Ben Simmons.  Add Markelle Fultz, whose Washington Huskies team was notably bad for a #1 overall pick.  What do you get?  I have no flipping clue.  The Sixers need 14 extra wins to clear the over, and heck, they might get it.  Or maybe The Process continues.  I have no idea.  I want to say no way do they get another 14 wins, because they’re so young, and because everybody is so obviously overrating Fultz.  But I won’t say it with any confidence.  UNDER.

The Results…

To be determined…

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Seven years of draft grades, and while I usually complain about the weather in the first paragraph, this year the week leading up to the draft has been about the worst ever.  It was so hot yesterday my bike tire exploded on the bike rack at work.  Take that, Global Warming!  (Oh, wait.)  Anyway, I had to find a ride home just to be able to watch the draft.  Fortunately, today only hit 100 and it looks like I might be able to able to open the windows by like 10 PM, so there’s that.  In the meantime I’ve got five cans of Stone Drink-By 07-04-17 IPA, which I am dutifully pouring into a pint glass, because what jerk drinks beer out of a can, and I’m here to drop some NBA draft grades on all and sundry.

This year I’m adding one tiny piece of info to the assets listings.  I have always included the list of picks that each team comes into the draft with, but of course it’s a bit subjective to try to determine which sets of picks have the highest draft value.  Obviously the #1 pick has the most value, but would you rather have the #8 or the #13 and #28?  How does one measure that?  Well, the best way is to figure how how good of a player you can expect to draft at each pick. To do that you have to try to find a reasonable single-number measure of player value, and then to go back over as many drafts as possible and figure the average value of each draft pick according to the single-number measure.  And of course, then fit the results with a smooth curve, because we know darn well that even if over the past 20 years the number 17 pick has on average turned out better than the #16 pick, we would still expect the #16 pick to have more value.  Fortunately for me, several folks have already done this, so I don’t have to do it myself, I just have to pick the method I like best (subjectively, I’ll admit!)  The one I have chosen is from a gentleman named Nick Restifo, and the measure he used was best two-year VORP over a player’s career.  Using Nick’s values I have added up each team’s relative draft value, and then normalized that to a maximum of ten (so the Celtics, coming into the draft, had a strength of 10 and should be hoping to get the largest value out of the draft).  I’ve included this value as (DV x/10) following the listed picks.

(The following paragraph just doesn’t change from year to year, because why mess with success?  Except to say that within the last year I’ve actually started to see PAID internet writers pick up on this scheme.  Without acknowledgment or royalties, of course.)

Just like always, and unlike the pansies who normally do draft grades, sitting around giving the same damn grade to everybody (oh, that’s an “A”, and that’s an “A”…) I’m going to grade the fricking thing on a hard, hard curve.  30 teams, that means 6 As, 6 Bs, 6 Cs, 6 Ds, and 6 Fs.  Two plusses and two minuses for each grade except F, because what asshole gives out an F+?  YOU FAILED.  NO CONSOLATION PLUS FOR YOU.  And rather than rip apart a team for having only second round picks, I’m going to grade based on what the team had going into the draft, and what they had going out of it.  Of course, any trades that happen to go down between the end of the NBA season and the draft will also be included here, since they may as well have happened the day of.  So it’s draft grades with a side of pre-free-agency transactions.  Get it?  Got it?  Good.  Here goes.

(And, as far as that last bit goes about trades – Holy Bats, Crapman!  Before the draft we’ve got the #1 overall pick, the #3 overall pick, D’Angelo Russell, Dwight Howard, and Brook Lopez changing teams?  This is the nuttiest pre-draft trade period EVER!  And that’s with Paul George NOT going anywhere despite swirling rumors and Jimmy Butler not moving until draft day.  I think this ended up being the tradiest draft I can remember.)

The Grades:

Charlotte Hornets

Grade: A+

Assets Coming In: #11, #41 (DV 3.7/10), Miles Plumlee (3/$37M), Marco Belinelli (1/$6.6M)

Assets At The End Of The Day: Dwight Howard (2/$47M), Malik Monk, Dwyane Bacon, Cash$$

Obligatory Commentary: There’s plenty of winning to be done in this country, and somebody’s got to do it. Why can’t that somebody be Charlotte for once? For as disruptive as Dwight Howard might be to anybody’s locker room, and for as 32-years-old as he is, he’s still Dwight Howard, and if you can trade crap to get him, you do it. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200, just grab Dwight Howard and run before the Hawks realize how badly they’ve fucked this all up. Oh, and then the Hornets went and drafted Malik Monk (who is basically the next Ben Gordon) AND Dwayne Bacon (who disappears for weeks at a time but then emerges for 15 minutes to be a superstar-level player). And I’m complaining because…? Oh yeah, I’m NOT complaining. Because the Hornets knocked this shit out of the park. Shit. Park. Out. Joc Pederson hit one to the top row of the Dodger Stadium Pavilion yesterday, but this is more like Mike Stanton completely clearing the Pavilion altogether, then going out to the bars and picking up 14 scantily-clad women for a quinquadecisome, because he’s Mike Stanton and he can. You feeling me? Rich Cho, baby. Rich Cho. Got it done.

Minnesota Timberwolves

Grade: A+

Assets Coming In: #7 (DV 4.2/10), Zach LaVine (1/$3.2M), Kris Dunn (3/$13.5M)

Assets At The End Of The Day: Jimmy Butler (2/$38.5M), Justin Patton

Obligatory Commentary: I’ve already ripped Chicago for this deal. You may not have read it because once the grades go in order it’s going to be placed down towards the bottom of the page, but it’s already written, so I don’t want to revisit it. Also, in a completely unrelated note, Alex Wood is having about the worst possible night at the plate ever. First time up, he fails thrice to lay down the bunt and strikes out. Second time up he’s called to sacrifice again, and it goes foul, failed butcher boy, bunt into a DP to end the inning. I mean, seriously, if the defense can just raise four fingers and concede an intentional walk now, can the offense just raise three fingers and concede a K? Umm, oh!  Basketball! Timberwolves! So, like, this was awesome. The only issue I have with this trade is that it’s essentially the same trade that the Wolves could have had a year ago. And they were like “No! We will NEVER give up such an awesome asset as Kris Dunn!” The amazing thing is that Chicago is still willing to do it, though if I remember right the Wolves wouldn’t have had to give up a pick swap on top of everything else before Dunn was exposed as not really all that good and LaVine tore his ACL. Still and all, the Kahn era is clearly over (he still finds his way onto TV from time to time, bless his little heart!), the T’Pups have evidently committed to a Towns-Butler-Wiggins-Rubio core (yes, please!), and the playoffs are now pretty much a lock. And it cost them a guy who really isn’t any good, a guy who’s hurt, and a draftee who probably won’t go down as the foil to Jimmy Butler’s Tractor-Trailer. I don’t even really care that they wasted the #16 pick they got back on Justin Patton, though I do think they wasted it, because I could probably name 12 guys I would have taken there instead of him. Their grade is still an A+.

Sacramento Kings

Grade: A

Assets Coming In: #5, #10, #34 (DV 9.0/10)

Assets At The End Of The Day: De’Aaron Fox, Justin Jackson, Harry Giles, Frank Mason III

Obligatory Commentary: Sometimes, I really hate myself. For about like five drafts in a row, I consistently overrated the Kings’ drafts. They either did great or pretty good, or so I thought, until the actual results began to slowly creep in. Finally last year I took off the purple-colored glasses and absolutely savaged the Kings, only for the 2016 draft to look VERY good for the Kings only one year in. And now, here I am prepared to praise the Kings again. I keep getting it wrong, so praise should be the last thing I want to do here, but nonetheless praise seems the right call. Fox was a competent pick, and no else. The bluster that Vlade has been dropping in interviews, saying that we would have taken Fox #1 overall, is complete and total bullshit. Realism rears it’s ugly head here, Vlade, but I’m not mad. I know you have to keep your boys happy. So Fox is looking like a BPA pick, and he looks to be a really great fit for the Kings, but there’s not much credit given here for making that pick. It’s the rest of the draft where the Kings lit it up. Once the Kings landed Fox at #5, this was really a 7-player draft for them. Barring the unlikelihood of either Isaac or Markkanen falling to them, there wasn’t much to be done with the #10 pick. Smith and Ntilikina would only compete with Fox (and they were gone anyway) and there was no SF who wasn’t a terrible reach at #10. So Vlade traded down for #15 and #20 and proceeded to kill bugs dead. Sure, Vlade passed on the (in my mind, and yes this was solidified BEFORE we traded his rights) overrated Zach Collins, but the return – a solid junior in Justin Jackson who fills the open SF position and was probably the best player on this year’s national championship team, and the supremely intriguing injury risk Harry Giles – was far better than could be hoped for from a single pick alone. Just like Skal Labissiere is looking like he is going to prove the draft pundits wrong after an underwhelming year in college, so may (and hopefully will) Harry Giles. So come on, people, put your money in the jar, a friend of Harry R.’s a friend of everyone. If you haven’t seen what Giles was capable of in high school, just Google it. And if his two knee injuries (both contact injuries, by the way, which bodes better for his future recovery than spontaneous injuries [see: Parker, Jabari]) hadn’t happened, he’d have been a top-5 guy. And on top of that the Kings grabbed the National Player of the Year Frank Mason III at #34, and let’s be honest, he only fell that far because he’s a senior who is 5’11’ barefoot. I’ve seen Mason play about 50 times, and let me tell you this: he was one of the top two players on the court in probably every single game. Mason might end up being the best backup PG in the league in as little as 2 years. So what have we got here? Well, let me drop a quote: “…if we packaged #10 for say Portland’s #15 and #20 we could potentially target both Justin Jackson and either Giles/Leaf. Assume (for now) Fox at #5. Grab Mason at #34. Kings draft could have players from Kentucky, UNC, Kansas, and Duke/UCLA.” You know who wrote that? Me. Three hours before the draft started, biatches. This is the greatest thing I have done since predicting that our top single-game scorer for the year 2013-2014 would be Rudy Gay (WHO WAS NOT ON THE TEAM AT THE TIME) and not only that but to also get the actual score right, down to the point. OK, so I got counterfeited because fucking Marcus Thornton beat it out by a point a few days later, but still, that was epic. Picking every single one of the Kings’ selections (despite one hedge on Leaf) INCLUDING the trade, well, let’s just say it was my fucking day. Where the hell was I? So what have we got here? We’ve got a draft where the Kings have taken basically the best player (or in the case of Giles the potentially best player) from four of the top programs in the country. For the first time in years, the pundits are loving what the Kings have done this year, and I think they’re right. The glasses, they are purple again. I don’t care. We need a few years to develop and for the Warriors and Cavs to age out of their dynasties. But I absolutely love where we are right now.

Boston Celtics

Grade: A

Assets Coming In: #1, #37, #53, #56 (DV 10/10)

Assets At The End Of The Day: Either the Lakers 2018 #1 or the Kings 2019 #1 or the 76ers 2019 #1, depending. Jayson Tatum, Semi Ojeleye, Kadeem Allen, Jabari Bird

Obligatory Commentary: I’ve got to hand it to the Celtics. They recognized the folly of the media-created frenzy around Fultz, they rejected it, and they traded down – a two-position drop in the draft ultimately allowing them to draft the guy (Tatum) that they were likely after in the first place, and secure a potentially great future pick on top of that. Ainge pretty much worked this trade to perfection. Tatum may stick with the Celtics, or he may end up getting shipped to the Pacers for Paul George, but either way the Celtics have won. On top of that, Ojeleye is a pretty good find at #37, considering he was thought to be a first-rounder. I’m not super-high on the Pac-12 50’s picks despite being a Pac-12 guy myself – I didn’t really see either Allen or Bird getting drafted – but the rest of the work heere (at the wall?!?) was so solid that I can’t help but give out an A.

New Orleans Pelicans

Grade: A-

Assets Coming In: #40 (DV 0.6/10), Tim Frazier (1/$2M), Cash$$

Assets At The End Of The Day: Frank Jackson, Cash$$

Obligatory Commentary: This year’s draft for the Pelicans has an interesting thread to follow. Before the draft, the Pelicans traded away journeyman backup PG Frazier for a late second rounder. Then they turned around and flipped that pick for cash that they used to move up from #40 to #31. I can tell you that there’s about no chance at all that Frank Jackson was going to be available at #40, so they kinda had to do it to get him. And frankly (no pun!) it was a great move. There’s about zero certainty that Jrue Holiday is going to re-sign with the Pellies and Jackson is a bit of an underrated PG in my opinion. Lots of draft sites seem to think he’s a SG, but I saw a kid who could run the point and really only lost the opportunity because he came off the bench on a Duke team that played without a traditional lead guard. Jackson looked to me like a mid-first-rounder in the second half of the season, so this is a no-brainer good grade.

Indiana Pacers

Grade: A-

Assets Coming In: #18, #47 (DV 2.3/10), Cash$$

Assets At The End Of The Day: T.J. Leaf, Ike Anigbogu, Edmond Sumner

Obligatory Commentary: The Pacers apparently haven’t ever seen Tropic Thunder, or they would know never to go Full Bruin (he says, as a Bruins fan).  The absolutely most irritating thing to me about the Pacers drafting two of the three draftable Bruins is that Indiana is not fielding a Vegas Summer League team, so my annual trek will not include a chance to see “my boys” in action.  Though, to be fair, I did get to see them win two games in person in the new and beautiful Golden 1 Center, the crown of downtown Sacramento, in the NCAA T0urnament, so I guess I’m good.  The Pacers actually came away with a really nice haul in this draft, all things considered.  T.J. is a really talented player who can shoot from outside AND play in the post and on top of that has a nose for the rebound, but he has tiny hands so Indiana’s next move is probably to shut down his Twitter account.  Anigbogu fell ridiculously far for a kid who somebody apparently told to come out of school despite limited PT due to a knee injury at the start of the college season, and it was the medical red flag what done it.  So, seriously, if you’re medically red flagged, STAY IN SCHOOL!  UCLA HAD A VACANT SCHOLLIE.  Anyway, the Pacers then went on to buy Sumner, another injury case who was looking like a first round pick before tearing his ACL.  There’s some risk here, but the upside is huge, especially with Anigbogu, who projects to be as much of a mini-Dwight as Adebayo.  The Pacers started with marginal draft assets and wouldn’t surprise me if they came out of this with one of the ten best drafts, not adjusting for initial pick value.  Kevin Pritchard, ladies and gentlemen, Kevin Pritchard.

Los Angeles Lakers

Grade: B+

Assets Coming In: #2, #28 (DV 7.0/10), D’Angelo Russell (2/$12.5), Timofey Mozgov (3/$48M)

Assets At The End Of The Day: Brook Lopez (1/$22.5M), Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart, Thomas Bryant

Obligatory Commentary: Lonzo Ball threw out the ceremonial first pitch at the Dodgers game tonight, and he threw a fucking rainbow lob. What the actual fuck is that? I mean, let me be 100% clear. If I were for some magical reason selected to throw out the first pitch at a baseball game, I guaran-damn-tee you that I am going to get on that rubber, I’m going to wind up, and I’m going to throw a low-70s fastball. I’m going to try my best to get the thing over the plate and between those imaginary knees and numbers, but I’m damn well going to make it look like I’m actually pitching. I’m a 43-year-old scientific programmer. Lonzo Ball is a 19-year-old newly-minted professional athlete and he went up there and threw a first pitch that Stephen Hawking would mock. I am so very disappointed. That said, Lonzo Ball is good at basketball. He is the best passer I have seen in the college game…well, ever. Seriously. So I guess that first pitches are overrated. Of course, the rule always applies that you don’t get credit for taking the best player in the draft with the…well, second pick (since both Boston and Philly screwed this one up). But much of the rest of the draft-time maneuvering worked out pretty well. The Lakers packaged the so-far-disappointing D’Angelo Russell to get rid of the ugly Timofey Mozgov contract, which I (and everybody else, to be fair) knew the moment it was announced to be a ridiculously dumb deal. I can’t get on board with Kuzma, but trading down to get both Hart and Bryant was a great move in my book. Hart will be a rotation player, solid but low-ceiling. Not a problem, you need those kind of guys, and at #30 that means you have him under control for FOUR YEARS. And Bryant seems to be one of those perpetually underrated guys to me. He’s got the body that should kill the NBA, and the only question seems to be between the ears. But he could potentially pan out and turn this draft into a killer. Even so, Ball (future superstar) and Hart (future rotation guy) and bye-bye Mozgov makes this a pretty good draft.

Utah Jazz

Grade: B+

Assets Coming In: #24, #30, #42, #55 (DV 3.1/10), Trey Lyles (2/$6M)

Assets At The End Of The Day: Donovan Mitchell, Tony Bradley, Nigel Williams-Goss

Obligatory Commentary: The Jazz had a lot of picks but not a lot of value coming into this draft. They wheeled and they dealed and they parlayed a failed pick from two years ago into Donovan Mitchell. I think that’s a pretty darn good return. I don’t think so highly of Tony Bradley and NW-G is a lottery ticket at best, but Mitchell is a win, a big enough win that I can completely ignore the Jazz’ terrible trade-up with the Lakers to land the extremely questionable Bradley. I like this draft for Mitchell alone.

Golden State Warriors

Grade: B

Assets Coming In: One loss in the entire 2017 NBA playoffs (DV 0/10), Cash$$

Assets At The End Of The Day: Jordan Bell

Obligatory Commentary: When you’re the NBA champs, you don’t expect to have any draft picks. That’s just the way it works. So you have to buy in to the draft. When you buy into the draft and manage to snag a quality energy player like Jordan Bell, well, that would suggest that you know exactly what you’re doing. On top of that, the Warriors have signed Chris Boucher to a 2-way G-League contract and apparently also have Bryce “Not a D-1 Player, But First All-Time in 3-Pointers at UCLA” Alford on their summer league squad. I don’t think that any of these guys could possibly extend the Warriors’ championship window, but they could go a pretty long way towards covering any holes that injuries or salary cap issues might bring about over the next couple of years. I’m SO VERY GLAD that I’m not one of the Kings fans who despise the Warriors, because I’d be absolutely miserable at all their #winning. #sad.

Memphis Grizzlies

Grade: B

Assets Coming In: Three guys taking up $74M of their salary cap (DV 0/10), conditional 2019 second round pick, unspecified future second round pick

Assets At The End Of The Day: Ivan Rabb, Dillon Brooks

Obligatory Commentary: The Grizzlies had no picks, and decided to turn some future picks (in drafts that might NOT be deep) into picks in the here and now, and selected two Pac-12 players who slipped lower than they probably should have slipped in a definitely deep draft. So, I guess I’m saying that I like it.

Portland Trailblazers

Grade: B-

Assets Coming In: #15, #20, #26 (DV 4.4/10)

Assets At The End Of The Day: Zach Collins, Caleb Swanigan

Obligatory Commentary: Since I have sworn to myself never again to give in to the temptation to make the lazy reference to the Dickensian ” ’tis a far, far better thing” thing, I won’t. But I will say that I think the Blazers did a much better job with the latter half of their draft than they did with the former. In the latter half (OK, 1/3, I guess, you mathy people) they took Caleb Swanigan a bit higher than he was projected in most mock drafts, but still a bit lower than I valued him. Swanigan originally came into college with some (correctable) weight issues which he then worked hard to fix. It’s a decent story, until you see the pictures of him in middle school. He was like that flesh-baby at the end of Akira. He could have starred in the Star Wars non-canon film “Caleb Swanigan meets Jabba the Machinist”. Kid has dedicated himself to getting in shape. And while he’s a bit undersized for a PF in the NBA, he’s an absolute tank, and he has rolled straight over Verdun. He was basically the best player in the Big, erm, 10 (I guess) this year, I’m pretty sure he was the single best rebounder in college basketball (a trait which is guaranteed to translate unless you are named “Thomas Robinson”) and he’s got a vast array of post moves in addition to a jumper out to three. He was being projected in the second round for some unknowably dumb reason. Swanigan is a great pick at #26. Collins…I have way less faith in. He came off the bench at Gonzaga all year, he had oodles of foul trouble in his limited minutes, and he was completely overshadowed by an undraftable dude with a random “z” in his name (Przemek Karnowski, for the record.) And he’s the next greatest thing? I don’t buy it. I don’t. At all. And the Blazers traded up to get him in the position where all the pundits said he should go. Maybe all the pundits were right and this was a decent trade, but at this early date (which is all that matters until I revisit this five years from now) I’m not inclined to agree. So trading up to get him was a bad call. This is the spot where the Blazers should have been desperately trying to package a couple of picks (like, say, #15 and #20) and sucker a team with cap space into absorbing the execrable Evan Turner contract, which could save the Blazers upwards of $150M in salary and luxury tax. But no, instead of trying to turn those picks into a ridiculous amount of cash, they went after an over-hyped prospect. Only Caleb Swanigan saves this. (Note: It’s this grade, this one right here, that will probably look really fucking stupid five years from now. I am bucking convention hard, and when you do that, you are usually wrong.)

Phoenix Suns

Grade: B-

Assets Coming In: #4, #33, #54 (DV 6.4/10)

Assets At The End Of The Day: Josh Jackson, Davon Reed, Alec Peters

Obligatory Commentary: Despite the distance between the two heavenly bodies, the Earth-Moon Barycenter still lies somewhere underneath the surface of the Earth. And despite the fact that I don’t give credit for taking the best guy available at the top of the draft, the rest of the Suns’ draft was so inconsequential as to not move the draft barycenter away from Josh Jackson. I think the Suns did a terrible job in the second round, but who cares? They got Josh Jackson. He was going to go somewhere between #2 and #5, and they got him at #4. That buffers anything else they did in this draft.

Dallas Mavericks

Grade: C+

Assets Coming In: #9 (DV 3.6/10)

Assets At The End Of The Day: Dennis Smith Jr.

Obligatory Commentary: I am so very literally ambivalent on Dennis Smith Jr. I’m looking back over at my notes on him, and I went from “Defensive awareness not so great – didn’t realize ball was in the air until it hit the rim behind his head and he heard it,” and “Misses a dunk and it bounces up and in. You’re seeing his athleticism right there. Dude, he didn’t get up high enough to dunk it,” to “If he was the guy he was over the last five minutes all game, he’s obviously top five. I take him over Fox.” I don’t know what to tell you, because I don’t know what to think. Injury concerns, may quit on games, didn’t lead NC State to anything at all. But flashes of brilliance. And Dallas needs a PG but wasn’t in position to get a top-3 guy. This all adds up to yet another one of those too-early-to-tell-but-will-be-all-or-nothing-in-five-years grades. I tried to slot it in as a C, but it climbed its way up to a C+.  Seems fair.

Brooklyn Nets

Grade: C+

Assets Coming In: #22, #27, #57 (DV 2.9/10), Brook Lopez (1/$22.5M)

Assets At The End Of The Day: D’Angelo Russell (2/$12.5), Timofey Mozgov (3/$48M), Jarrett Allen, Aleksandar Vezenkov

Obligatory Commentary: I’m just not sure what to think about the epic Russell trade. On the one hand, the Nets didn’t give much up other than the last year of a declining Brook Lopez. On the other hand, they had to eat an absolutely horrible Mozgov contract to get D’Angelo Russell, who has been mediocre at just about everything other than snitching. Dude is a grade-A snitch. Don’t get me wrong, Nick Young was WAY in the wrong here stepping out on Nicki Minaj, but maybe airing that shit publicly was a bad call, D-Lo. Two things can both be true – Nick Young and D’Angelo Russell can both simultaneously be douchebags. But from a basketball point of view, it’s beginning to be a bit questionable whether Russell can actually lead a team to the promised land. I saw a bit of Deron Williams a while ago, but at this point I’m not really feeling it. Is the upgrade from Jeremy Lin really worth the Mozgov money? I mean, if you can’t sign anybody else…and being the Nets…there’s an argument there. The potential saving grace here is Jarrett Allen, who feels for all the world like a young Brook Lopez. If he can replace Brook’s scoring and inexplicable inability to rebound, then he’s a pretty damn good #22 pick. I looked up and over the world today, and Aleksandar Vezenkov wasn’t anywhere on it. Sorry. You know Buddha is sorry…

New York Knicks

Grade: C

Assets Coming In: #8, #44, #58 (DV 4.6/10)

Assets At The End Of The Day: Frank Ntilikina, Damyean Dotson, Ognjen Jaramaz

Obligatory Commentary: I wish I knew one single damn thing about Frank Ntilikina, other than how to pronounce his name (hint: it’s the ‘T’, not the ‘N’ that is silent.) Sadly, he’s basically a mystery to me. Even worse than a guy who can’t get minutes in the NCAA, he’s a guy who can’t get minutes in Euroleague, though to be fair, that’s what they do to kids in the Euroleague.  I mean, why “develop” a kid when he’s just going to bolt for the NBA anyway?  So if he’s young and talented but hasn’t put it all together yet and you’ve got a solid but unspectacular vet, guess who gets the PT?  So what DO we know about Ntilikina?  His measurements are awesome, and his shooting percentages might even be better, but he doesn’t play, so either Bernie’s right that he’s being held down by The Man or The Donald is right in building a wall to keep him out and prevent him from taking jobs from red-blooded Americans like Dennis Smith Jr. I have no fucking idea. Also, fuck politics, and all y’all involved in it, and all y’all who participate in it not realizing that it’s no less a spectator sport than the NBA. Can we all agree on that? OK, so that said I guess Ntilikina is going to turn out to be a decent pick at #8, and that Dotson and Jaramaz will be nothing at all. So here we have another “Meh” grade.

Oklahoma City Thunder

Grade: C

Assets Coming In: #21 (DV 1.6/10)

Assets At The End Of The Day: Terrance Ferguson

Obligatory Commentary: I would know better how to grade this if I knew more about Terrance Ferguson. I mean, basically he’s a super-talented kid who was supposed to go to power program Arizona but evidently couldn’t pass his SAT (or hey, maybe he was in the P.E.D. car crash with Allonzo Trier???) so he bailed to go play overseas for a year. He’s the third kid to take this route, and interestingly enough, each of the kids have chosen a different country to vacation in for a year. Brandon Jennings went to Italy, Emmanuel Mudiay went to China, and Ferguson went to Australia. The first two didn’t really pan out, but at least Ferguson is a shooting guard and not a point, so there’s a chance to set a new precedent, right? You know, looks bouncy, may not be very good with a #2 pencil, I’m willing to keep an open mind on this one. So I’m going to toss it somewhere in the middle. Come five years from now, this is a candidate to move either up or down quite a bit, but for now, we can just sing some Stealer’s Wheel and move on to the next grade.

Houston Rockets

Grade: C-

Assets Coming In: #43, #45 (DV 1.0/10)

Assets At The End Of The Day: Isaiah Hartenstein, future Memphis second round pick

Obligatory Commentary: Hartenstein is a kid who had a hell of a mix tape put out for him. The damn thing made him look like Wilt Chamberlain with a jump shot out to the three point line. I’m going to guess that he’s not that good. Also, there may be some medical questions. But the Rockets didn’t have any great picks here, either, so I can’t totally hate it. The upside of the Hartenstein pick more or less counteracts the bad move of trading a #45 pick in a super-deep draft where there was still some actual talent away for a future second in a draft that may not have anywhere near the upside.

Los Angeles Clippers

Grade: C-

Assets Coming In: The frightening specter of a Chris Paul/Blake Griffin exodus (DV 0/10), Cash$$

Assets At The End Of The Day: Sindarius Thornwell

Obligatory Commentary: Thorns are sharp and painful, and as such they are almost always thought of as bad things. Is Sindarius Thornwell any different? Sure, he led South Carolina on a Cinderella run through the tourney this year, but did anybody actually believe it? I didn’t. And I’m not buying the rest of it either. Buying Thornwell may well be cheap, but it’s not particularly effective, either.

Milwaukee Bucks

Grade: D+

Assets Coming In: #17, #48 (DV 2.4/10)

Assets At The End Of The Day: D.J. Wilson, Cash$$

Obligatory Commentary: The Pacers had counterpart picks to the Bucks (they tied in record this year) and more or less knocked it out of the park. The Bucks didn’t quite do so well, which is funny because lately Milwaukee has been damn solid in their drafting (viz. Giannis Antetokounmpo, which I can still fucking spell right despite three 10% beers and three pours of scotch. Suck on that. [On the other hand, there’s a gray cat on my lap that I didn’t exactly know was there. Hi, Captain!]) I can’t say that I hate Wilson, to be honest. I don’t think he’s terribly athletic, but he’s taller than he has any right to be and he’s pretty solid fundamentally. Beilein strikes again, and while I don’t see D.J. as a starter, he’s probably decent but not great value at #17. By the time #48 came around, this draft had kind of petered out so trading out wasn’t a disaster, but there were some undrafted kids (say Devin Robinson) that I’d have taken a flyer on.

Washington Wizards

Grade: D+

Assets Coming In: #52 (DV 0.3/10)

Assets At The End Of The Day: Tim Frazier (1/$2M)

Obligatory Commentary: On the one hand, the Wizards turned their crappy pick into a crappy backup PG who at least has established that he’s a crappy backup PG. On the other hand, at #52 they could have tried either Edmond Sumner or Nigel Williams-Goss, who might either be worse or better than a crappy backup PG. And the one thing I know is that you can get a crappy backup PG any time you want by making it rain. So you might as well buy the lottery ticket.

Orlando Magic

Grade: D

Assets Coming In: #6, #25, #33, #35 (DV 7.4/10)

Assets At The End Of The Day: Jonathan Isaac, Wesley Iwundu, conditional 2019 second round pick from Grizzlies, conditional 2020 first round pick from Philly, conditional 2020 second round pick from Philly

Obligatory Commentary: Isaac is a high-risk, high-reward selection. He could be the next Kevin Garnett, or he could be the next Stromile Swift. If I knew who he’d be, this would be easy. But I don’t. The one thing I do know is that for all that the Phoenix fanbase hyped him up, they seemed happy enough to grab Josh Jackson when the Celtics went with Tatum. Somebody had to fall to #6, and all along it seemed that Isaac was the most deserving to me, though I might have figured that it would have been Tatum, and it may have gone that way had Boston gone with Jackson. They didn’t. So Isaac it was. As always, it’s hard to give credit for taking the final guy in the tier that falls to you. So the grade here really turns on the later picks. The Magic actually had some pretty damn decent draft value in #25, #33, and #35, but they opted to punt on the whole thing, grabbing only Wesley Iwundu and a couple of picks (with heretofore unknown protections) in future drafts unlikely to be as good as this one. So I think that’s kind of a loss. Isaac turning into Kevin Garnett, of course, would render the back half of the draft moot. But since the Kings passed on Isaac, let’s hope that doesn’t happen.

Miami Heat

Grade: D

Assets Coming In: #14 (DV 2.5/10)

Assets At The End Of The Day: Bam Adebayo

Obligatory Commentary: It’s not that I hate Mini-Dwight so much as that I think Mini-Dwight is going to put up mini-stats. Justin Jackson or T.J. Leaf is a better pick here, and it seems that Miami just simply panicked after Donovan Mitchell was snatched out from under them and they didn’t have the contingencies set up in case they had to switch plans with only 5 minutes on the clock. The Heat picked #14 this year, but they’re likely to pick much higher next year if this draft is any indication.

San Antonio Spurs

Grade: D-

Assets Coming In: #29, #59 (DV 1.2/10)

Assets At The End Of The Day: Derrick White, Jarron Blossomgame

Obligatory Commentary: Please refer back to basically every draft grades post I’ve ever written to get a feel for my Who-Have-You-Drafted-For-Me-Lately? theory regarding the esteem in which the Spurs front office is held. White is a guy who came out of community college to lead a sad-sack Colorado team to basically nowhere. Blossomgame is a guy who is a role-player at best, legendary San Antonio development notwithstanding. San Antonio didn’t have much to work with, but I don’t think they worked any magic at all.

Toronto Raptors

Grade: D-

Assets Coming In: #23 (DV 1.5/10)

Assets At The End Of The Day: O.G. Anunoby

Obligatory Commentary:V. it’s after three we need to drink ’cause I’m a scared to sleep, but if you woke up here then I would cook a vegan meal that’s O.G., V.” Yeah, that’s literally the first thing that goes through my head every time I hear Anunoby’s name. The second thing that goes through my head is: you drafted a defensive player with a torn ACL? I dunno, I never quite got the Anunoby love. He’s not a great shooter, he didn’t impress me on offense in about any other way, and for a guy who makes his chops on defense, I don’t know if he’s actually that good of a perimeter defender. Obviously it would be hypocritical of me to rip the drafting of the injured Anunoby while praising the drafting of the injured Anigbogu and Giles, but Anigbogu was a late flyer and Giles looks like he’s actually on his way to health (and was about 723x the player Anunoby was before the injuries – and, to be honest, after the more catastrophic of the two knees…apparently this grade is about Giles? I forget.) But let’s just remember that this grade is about Anunoby, and I don’t like it very much, but O.G. does always remind me of Little Guilt Shrine, so it’s not all bad.

Philadelphia 76ers

Grade: F

Assets Coming In: #3, #36, #39, #46, #50 (DV 7.7/10), Either the Lakers’ 2018 #1 or the Kings’ 2019 #1, or their own 2019 #1, depending, their own conditional 2020 first round pick, their own conditional 2020 second round pick

Assets At The End Of The Day: Markelle Fultz, Anzejs Pasecniks, Jonah Bolden, Jawun Evans, Sterling Brown, Mathias Lessort

Obligatory Commentary: 2-17. Two wins. Seventeen losses. That, my friends, was Markelle Fultz’ legacy at the University of Washington as regards their Pac-12 schedule. Fultz managed to lead Washington to a win over Colorado (in overtime) and another win over Oregon State. The bad part about that second win is that Washington also LOST to Oregon State, who went 1-18 in the Pac-12. You do the math. This is the legacy of a player who is, for some reason, alleged to be the basically uncontested #1 player in the draft. You can imagine from my tone here that I…don’t…see it. Is Fultz talented? Sure. Can he help your team win? There’s about zero evidence for that. And Sixers fans, who have been Trusting The Process for years on end saw their team just trade away a future pick to move up and take a guy at #1 overall who, shockingly, had a worse in-conference record than their LAST #1 overall pick. In case you’ve forgotten, that was a guy named Ben Simmons, another talented dude who led his LSU Tigers to a somewhat-less-disappointing 11-7 record in a weak SEC conference (I mean, we’re talking it was Kentucky, A&M, and a bunch of gimmes) but still missed the NCAA Tournament because they weren’t any good. And that was JUST LAST YEAR. Two #1 picks in a row…zero NCAA tournament appearances. Last year, Simmons was kinda getting ripped for being the #1 overall pick and not being able to lead his team to the tourney. Still, he managed to get a 19-14 (11-7) record, which beats the spandex pants off of Fultz’ 9-22 (2-17) record. Oh, and to top that off, Simmons didn’t even play this year due to injury. So apparently The Process is: 1) Draft dudes who can’t win in college, 2) Collect underpants, 3) ???, 4) Profit!!!! Forgive me if I’m a bit underwhelmed by the Sixers trading up to fall on that sword. If there’s even a single moment of consolation it’s that the Kings’ 2019 pick that Sam Hinkie managed to fleece out of Vlade in a bad salary dump trade (for the Kings) may end up being used to ruin the Sixers rebuild because it helped them move up and pick the one dude in the draft who doesn’t know how to win a game. Meanwhile TCM is playing some totally random movie with Phil Silvers (playing a character named “Phil”) and Telly Savalas (“Twinkle-toes, that’s me!”) and Gina Lollobrigida (‘Brassiere’ is the only French word I know) and it’s the greatest thing that’s ever happened – far better than the back half of the Sixers’ draft. We’ve got Latvia, we’ve got Australia (via UCLA and Serbia), and we’ve got tiny Oklahoma. We’ve got people I haven’t heard of. Trust. The. Process. Until you fuck it all up.

Cleveland Cavaliers

Grade: F

Assets Coming In: A GM that LeBron James really liked. (DV 0/10),

Assets At The End Of The Day: No GM, one pissed off camper, a one-way ticket back to the city’s championship drought

Obligatory Commentary: When you’re the Eastern Conference champs, you don’t expect to have any draft picks. That’s just the way it works. So you have to buy in to the draft. Unless you fire your GM a few days before the draft for no discernable reason and piss off your best player, who is on a short-term contract. It is literally impossible NOT to think of fonts as I skip right past the Cavs’ horrible turn. On top of that, the Cavs had no draft picks and managed to earn an F. That’s quite a feat.

Detroit Pistons

Grade: F

Assets Coming In: #12 (DV 2.9/10)

Assets At The End Of The Day: Luke Kennard

Obligatory Commentary: Well, at least Luke Kennard is not Grayson Allen. Because there’d be no letter in the English language for that draft at #12. Even Malayalam and Thai would not suffice, and we’d have to go to the 247-character Tamil to find a single letter capable of describing the sheer idiocy of such a draft pick. But no, it’s Luke Kennard, who is about one unintended pregnancy of dreaming of being J.J. Redick. So it’s only an F. (Self-aware commentary: Holy. Shit. When I’m sober, will I be willing to publish this?!?)

Denver Nuggets

Grade: F

Assets Coming In: #13, #49, #51 (DV 3.4/10)

Assets At The End Of The Day: Trey Lyles (2/$6M), Tyler Lydon, Vlatko Čančar, Monte Morris

Obligatory Commentary: You know, I was a big supporter of Trey Lyles two years ago.  Played out of position at Kentucky, etc. etc.  But let’s face some facts – he has been basically terrible for two years, and when you not only do that but take a step backwards in year two, it’s hard to keep the fan club thing going.  I mean, if you’re a stretch-4, you’re taking almost half your shots from three, and your TS% is still 0.464, you’re doing something wrong.  Wrong enough to have a negative VORP, which for the unwashed masses stands for Value Over Replacement Player, which for the Terrance Fergusons in the crowd means that a negative value there suggests that a random dude from the D-League (excuse me, G-League) would be better than you.  The Nuggets traded down to get a dude who is worse than a random dude from the G-League.  I had to put this whole thing in italics just to emphasize how bad of a move this was.  And to add the super-glue to the urethra, the Nuggets used the pick they got to select Tyler Lydon, who is probably my least favorite unathletic stretch-4 prospect in the entire draft!  On the bright side, once the Nuggets collect a critical mass of crappy stretch-4s they will begin fusion, and they can use the excess neutrons to transmute their namesake gold nuggets into lead.  This is the ultimate anti-alchemy draft.  Apropos of absolutely nothing at all, the diacritical marks found in Vlatko Čančar’s name are alternately known as “carons” or “haceks”.  If Vlatko turns out to be half the player that either Caron Butler or Dominik Hasek (sp.) was, I’ll…umm…eat something that’s not my hat.  I like my hat.  It keeps the sun off my head.

Chicago Bulls

Grade: F

Assets Coming In: #16, #38 (DV 2.7/10), Jimmy Butler (2/$38.5M)

Assets At The End Of The Day: Zach LaVine (1/$3.2M), Kris Dunn (3/$13.5M), Lauri Markkanen, Cash$$

Obligatory Commentary: The simplest metric for evaluating any trade is that the team that gives up the best player loses. The best player in this trade was Jimmy Butler, and it’s not really close. Unless you believe that Markkanen is going to take on that patented mantle of The Next Dirk™ then this trade is basically inexcusable. I’ve mentioned already that I’m a Bruins fan, so you can safely take my word for the fact that Zach LaVine is a bouncy piece of phony dog poo. He’s not even real dog poo. Oh, and he tore his ACL. In February. And he’s on a one-year deal, so he’s going to rehab and then maybe play a little tentative ball in the second half of the season, then leave in free agency!  And, though we’re only one year in, I’m feeling quite vindicated for never liking Kris Dunn. I mean, the internet was so convinced that Dunn was the Greatest PG Evah that I even drafted him in my keeper fantasy league and held onto him all damn year. Against my better judgment, I might add. And yeah, he’s terrible. So the Bulls came into this draft with a great player that they really wanted to trade, and they came out with a guy who can shoot but is going to be the worst defender that Chicago has seen since McDermott and nothing else worth much. And they burned their picks on top of that. Hey, maybe Dunn turns it around and fixes this trade. Maybe Markkanen really does Dirk it up. Those maybes aren’t enough to save this grade from being an F. (Can you tell I hated that trade for Chicago? I hated that trade.)

Atlanta Hawks

Grade: F

Assets Coming In: #19, #31, #60 (DV 2.8/10), Dwight Howard (2/$47M)

Assets At The End Of The Day: Miles Plumlee (3/$37M), Marco Belinelli (1/$6.6M), John Collins, Tyler Dorsey, Alpha Kaba

Obligatory Commentary: I get it.  Dwight Howard is a locker room cancer on the DeMarcus Cousins level.  But the Hawks traded him for a Plumlee (doesn’t even matter which one), Marco Belinelli (the only player to have been traded in these two consecutive drafts and to have the receiving team lose both times) , and a trade DOWN in the draft?  I can’t even give the Hawks credit for grabbing Tyler Dorsey there, given that they threw every other damn thing away.  This was just an absolute disaster, any way you look at it. Even Jay Bilas’ “alpha/omega” joke made when Mr. Kaba was selected at #60 was not enough to salvage it.  This draft was so fucking bad that the MLB should readjust Hank Aaron’s home run totals down just to counteract it.

I started this one last year, and to be honest, I did pretty damn good.  I came out at $6090 on my virtual $5115 wager – a 19% return on investment!  (Though I would have made $6184.50 had I bet the same amount on every team, so basically my confidence ratings were crappy.)

I don’t see a good reason not to do this again at least the one more time.  I’ll let the paragraph from last year that explains why the odd dollar values stand, right here:

What the heck is the deal with $5115? I’ll get to that in a minute. But the idea is that I have to lay a bet on each of the 30 over/unders. Rather than allow myself to distribute the money completely freely, I’m going to play it like a pick ’em with confidence points. For instance, I think the line on the Sacramento Kings this year is really, really wrong. So I’m going to put $30 on them, then $29 on the line I think is next safest, and so on. Except $30 doesn’t really work great, because (as best as I can figure – remember, I’m not a big gambler) your typical over/under bet pays at +110, or in other words, wager $11 to win $10. So if I bet $30 and won, then I’d get the bet back plus $27.27272727. That’s just tough to deal with. So instead of betting $30, I’m going to bet $30*11 = $330, so that if I win, I get $300 on top. It just makes everything come out in whole numbers. And that means that the total I have to wager is $5115.

And with that said, time to do some non-gambling!

(Odds taken from Westgate Las Vegas Superbook 9/21/16)

Team O/U Wins My Pick Act. Wins Wager Return
Philadelphia 76ers 27.5 Under 28 $330 $0
Toronto Raptors 49.5 Over 51 $319 $609
Indiana Pacers 43.5 Over 42 $308 $0
New Orleans Pelicans 36.5 Under 34 $297 $567
Boston Celtics 51.5 Over 53 $286 $546
Memphis Grizzlies 43.5 Over 43 $275 $0
Dallas Mavericks 39.5 Over 33 $264 $0
Minnesota Timberwolves 41.5 Under 31 $253 $483
New York Knicks 38.5 Under 31 $242 $462
Sacramento Kings 32.5 Over 32 $231 $0
Los Angeles Lakers 24.5 Under 26 $220 $0
Charlotte Hornets 39.5 Over 36 $209 $0
Golden State Warriors 66.5 Over 67 $198 $378
San Antonio Spurs 56.5 Over 61 $187 $357
Milwaukee Bucks 39.5 Under 42 $176 $0
Houston Rockets 41.5 Over 55 $165 $315
Phoenix Suns 26.5 Under 24 $154 $294
Orlando Magic 36.5 Over 29 $143 $0
Washington Wizards 42.5 Under 49 $132 $0
Detroit Pistons 45.5 Under 37 $121 $231
Portland Trailblazers 46.5 Under 41 $110 $210
Los Angeles Clippers 53.5 Under 51 $99 $189
Cleveland Cavaliers 56.5 Over 51 $88 $0
Utah Jazz 47.5 Under 51 $77 $0
Brooklyn Nets 20.5 Under 20 $66 $126
Denver Nuggets 34.5 Under 40 $55 $0
Atlanta Hawks 43.5 Over 43 $44 $0
Oklahoma City Thunder 45.5 Under 47 $33 $0
Miami Heat 36.5 Under 41 $22 $0
Chicago Bulls 38.5 Over 41 $11 $21

The Stupid Lines

Philly: They were awful last year. So awful they got the #1 pick, and then he broke his foot in the preseason and probably won’t play all year.  To be fair, this line came before Simmons got hurt, but I’m not updating it.  To be fair, I’d have said the chance that they improved by 17.5 games even WITH Simmons, on top of Embiid and Dario Saric would have been a pretty bad bet, given the fact that they have basically no NBA-level backcourt at all.

Raps: This is basically the same team they fielded last year.  I’ll bet pretty hard on this team not being seven wins worse.

Pacers: The Pacers did nothing but get better this offseason.  They added Al Jefferson, they swapped out Hill for Teague (an underrated move, in my opinion), Myles Turner is now a year older, and not to mention Paul George is another year removed from his injury.  The only real question here is why they’re not HIGHER on my list, since there’s no way in hell they’re 2 wins worse than last year.

Pelicans: I can’t imagine why the bettors think the Pels are going to be 7 wins better than last year.  Holiday is going to miss a big chunk of the season due to his wife’s brain cancer, and they lost Eric Gordon (for whatever it’s worth a solid NBA player) and replaced him with the Rookie Hield.  Buddy may have a future, but I can’t see him leading the Pelicans to anywhere near .500 this year.

The Iffy Lines

Celtics: I know 52 wins is quite a decent season, but let’s face it.  The Celtics were a rising team last year and they added Al Horford.  I’m pretty sure he’s worth four wins, if they weren’t going to get to that total without him.

Grizz: Memphis was so incredibly injured last year that it’s not funny.  They added Chandler Parsons and they’re bound to be healthier.  The loss of Dave Joerger might turn out to be a big blow, but I’m willing to gamble that they’re going to turn in at least two additional wins over last year’s total.

Mavs:  I know they’re getting older.  I know they lost Parsons.  But Barnes should be a capable replacement, and Bogut is the piece in the middle they’ve been missing.  On top of that, Wes Matthews will be fully healthy.  Maybe I have them a little high, but I’m not willing to bet on the Mavs tanking – this year.

Minny: They’ve got another year of experience, and they added Kris Dunn, but is that enough to bump them a massive 13 games from last season?  I can’t go there.  They’ll be better, but not that much better.

Knicks: The line calls for seven wins on last year.  I’m calling for Derrick Rose to be a disaster, between his destroyed knees and the whole rape charges thing.  Kristaps can’t carry this team on his own, and Carmelo just hasn’t moved the needle for so damn long.

Kings: I have to say, I’ve been guilty of the purple-colored glasses for a long, long time.  Last year I had the Kings as my #1 lock, and while they came through, it wasn’t by much.  That said, the Kings (at least DeMarcus Cousins) basically quit on George Karl before the season started and despite the team just actively not giving a shit, they got 33 wins.  They only have to do that well again this year, and they’ve got a happy Cousins (thanks, Dave Joerger!) and a real NBA shooting guard in Afflalo.  My heart says they should be higher on this list but my head is still a bit gunshy.

Lakers: I know they added #2 pick Brandon Ingram and aging forward Luol Deng, and hey, it’s not like Kobe did anything for them.  But there’s not much optimism in my eyes for this team to be 8 wins better than last year.  Ingram is 30 pounds from making a whit of difference, and they blew a ton of free agent money to have a frontcourt of Timofey Mozgov and Julius Randle.  Yeah, no.

Hornets: You know, I’m not a big believer in the Hornets.  I’m really not.  But they won 48 games last year so they would have to be nine games worse, just for losing Al Jefferson.  Al Jefferson is a nice player, but he’s not a nine-win player.  The Hornets should still break .500.

Warriors: I think it’s pretty crazy to predict a team to get 67 wins, but that’s still 6 wins worse than last year, and they added Kevin Freakin’ Durant.  They won’t miss Barnes, I’ll tell you that.  And shoot, they almost never played Bogut anyway.  The number is scary or I’d have them higher.  Still, I have to take the over.

Spurs: The line basically has the loss of Duncan and one more year of age taking eleven wins off the Spurs’ total.  Duncan wasn’t even a major contributor for the Spurs last year.  He was done.  They’ll still be the #2 team in the West, and they’ll only drop off a bit if anything.

Bucks: I was really, really high on the Bucks last year.  That was really, really not rewarded.  Monroe didn’t integrate, and that’s the biggest thing.  This year, the Bucks are basically the same team, with a presumably fully healthy Jabari Parker, but now a hurt Khris Midldeton out for the year.  I feel like this team underperformed its parts last year, but I’m not convinced that they’ll do much better this year, much less 7 games better.

Rockets: The Rockets appear to have embraced a philosophy this offseason.  Gone is the bricklaying (and overrated) Howard and in are three-point shooters Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon.  The Rockets only need to be one win better this year to make the over – I think they ought to get there.

The Tough Calls

Last year the books were predicting about 10 wins more than were actually available.  This year it’s 16 too many wins.  Again, time to err on the side of the under when there’s no clearly correct choice.

Suns: They really weren’t very good last year, and I don’t think that either of their rookies (Bender, Chriss) is going to be ready to contribute a lot this year.  Booker will be better, and Bledsoe will be healthy – is that worth four wins?  Tough call – as the section label reads.  I’ll say no.

Magic: Orlando swapped out Oladipo for Serge Ibaka.  I don’t know how to read that.  But in general, I think they’re a team on the upswing so I’m going to bet on them going +2 relative to last year.

Wizards:  This is basically the same team from last year, but they need two more wins to get the over.  With Boston and Indiana stealing wins, I think maybe they don’t get there.

Pistons: Just like the Wizards, basically the same team predicted to grab two more wins.  I guess I’ll say “no”.

Blazers: Another team that didn’t change much, this time predicted to go three wins over.  I’ve never really been convinced by this team and its weak frontcourt, so I guess I’ll bet against them improving that much.

Clippers: More same team, same line, except this time they only need one more win to hit the over.  Once again I’m taking the under, because of the overprediction of wins and the spectre of a possible Blake Griffin trade hanging over the franchise.

Cavaliers: Again, same team, same line – this time the Cavs actually can beat the over by getting the exact same record as last year.  I think they’ll do it.  Right?  Sure.

Jazz:  The Jazz are up-and-coming.  They’re adding George Hill and should be getting Dante Exum back.  Gobert and Hood are just getting started.  Hayward and Favors are solid contributors.  But they need 8 extra wins to beat the over, and I don’t think I can quite go there.  6 I’d probably say yes.

Nets:  The Nets are going to be terrible.  But they were terrible last year and managed 21 wins.  Can they match that this year?  I’m saying no, but who knows?

Nuggets: I feel like I’m saying “under” a lot here, but the Nuggets are basically the same team (sorry, Jamal Murray!) and they’re supposed to get two more wins?  Maybe?  Maybe not?  I’ll go with maybe not.  They’re not going to have anything to play for at the end of the season, and Mudiay was so bad last year I can’t see him suddenly helping them much.

The Total Wild Cards

Hawks: What happens when you lose Al Horford and Jeff Teague and add hometown hero Dwight Howard?  I have no freaking idea.  The Hawks need to dump five games this year to miss the over – I don’t think a happy Dwight Howard allows that to happen.

Thunder:  A team loses Durant and Ibaka and basically becomes Russell Westbrook and a bunch of role players.  Do they drop ten games this year?  That’s a lot, but they lost A LOT.  They probably do, but man, who knows?

Heat:  So long Dwyane Wade!  And good health to you, Chris Bosh!  Will the Heat drop 12 games from last year?  Not if new gazillionaire Hassan Whiteside has anything to say about it.  But then again, he’s Hassan Whiteside, for the love of all that’s holy.  He can’t possibly save them.

Bulls:  Talk about turnover…Noah and Rose out, Rondo, Wade, and Lopez in.  And they canlose three games more than last year and still take the over.  I think they get there, but it’s like a hurricane track five days out – where’s it going to make landfall…I HAVE NO FREAKING IDEA.

The Results…

With about 8-9 games left in the season, this isn’t looking so good.  While I’m currently 7-5 on the bets that have “come in”, I think a lot of the open ones are going to fail.  So far I’ve got $2247 coming in, which is not even halfway…

That number is now up to $3129 with most teams having 2 or 3 games left, meaning I would have to come up with just short of $2000 to break even.  There’s actually still $3192 available, which suggests the bookmakers did a pretty good job, with just under a third (9) of the teams still in play with just a few days left in the schedule.  I likely won’t get all of that, but surprisingly, with one win from each of four teams (Warriors, Raptors, Celtics, Grizzlies) I would make a small profit.  The Raptors (they face the Knicks!) and Celtics (they face the Nets!) are both vying for playoff position, and the Warriors play the Lakers, and the Grizz schedule isn’t too tough, so it’s actually in my grasp…but the Grizz failed me.

I only got 14 of 30 right this year – not so good.  That means I would have brought back $4788 total on my $5115 wager.  I can give myself a little bit of solace in that this year (unlike last year) I actually was smarter in my allocation of funds – had I wagered the same on every team instead of basing it by confidence, I’d only have won $4557, so there is that.  I feel like the oddsmakers (or, to the extent that this was driven by the bets, the bettors) did a good job here – half of the lines were within 2.5 wins of the actual total over an 82 game season.

It’s six years I’ve been doing my annual NBA Draft Grades, and at least six years I’ve known I had to do something about my half-assed air conditioning, but you know what?  The mid-week heat wave that was originally supposed to be sitting in the hundreds really only made the mid-90s – it’s almost as if I can cast my own frigidio spell!  In fact, it’s the night after the NBA draft, it’s almost 8 PM and it’s beginning to look like the A/C won’t even switch on tonight.  I’ve got myself two bottles of Stone Drink-By 07-04-16 IPA (sadly, there was no bottling of the Sudwerk Mai Bock this year, but this is an acceptable substitute) and it is time to grade the hell out of this draft!

It’s a bit of a weird draft this time around.  This year there were six (6) teams that came in to the draft without a pick at all while Boston led all comers with 8 picks (and only traded two of them!)  Both of those numbers are to my recollection the highest I have seen – but luckily most of the teams with no picks at least made their way into the draft or made some move or another so there’s something to grade.

(The following paragraph just doesn’t change from year to year, because why mess with success?)

Just like always, and unlike the pansies who normally do draft grades, sitting around giving the same damn grade to everybody (oh, that’s an “A”, and that’s an “A”…) I’m going to grade the fricking thing on a hard, hard curve.  30 teams, that means 6 As, 6 Bs, 6 Cs, 6 Ds, and 6 Fs.  Two plusses and two minuses for each grade except F, because what asshole gives out an F+?  YOU FAILED.  NO CONSOLATION PLUS FOR YOU.  And rather than rip apart a team for having only second round picks, I’m going to grade based on what the team had going into the draft, and what they had going out of it.  Of course, any trades that happen to go down between the end of the NBA season and the draft will also be graded here, since they may as well have happened the day of.  So it’s draft grades with a side of pre-free-agency transactions.  Get it?  Got it?  Good.  Here goes.

The Grades:

Indiana Pacers

Grade: A+

Assets Coming In: #20, #50, George Hill, a future 2nd round pick

Assets At The End Of The Day: Jeff Teague, Thaddeus Young, Georges Niang

Obligatory Commentary: The Pacers somehow inserted themselves into the Jazz/Hawks deal and went from George Hill to Jeff Teague at no charge.  Did they get like an “upgrade PG for free” coupon in the mail or something?  Then they went and traded the #20 for Thaddeus Young.  THADDEUS YOUNG.  That is an outright theft.  It’s almost like Larry Legend knows what the fuck he’s doing.  Maybe he had burg-u-lars. (Sorry, The Apartment is on.)

Chicago Bulls

Grade: A+

Assets Coming In: #14, #48, Cameron Bairstow, Derrick Rose, Justin Holiday, 2017 2nd round pick

Assets At The End Of The Day: Denzel Valentine, Paul Zipser, Spencer Dinwiddie, Robin Lopez, Jerian Grant, Jose Calderon

Obligatory Commentary: The Bulls were active, following up a nothing-nothing trade by sending off a guy wearing a Derrick Rose mask for three NBA players.  Then they went and drafted Capt. Factorial favorite Denzel Valentine at #14.  People have been shitting all over poor Denzel.  Oh, he’s a senior.  Oh, he’s not athletic.  Oh, he’s got red flags on his knees.  Look.  He lost NCAA Player of the Year to Buddy Hield, and he shouldn’t have.  He’s a great shooter, a fucking-damn-ass elite passer (I put three expletives in there just to emphasize exactly how elite of a passer he is), and a great team leader.  By unloading the now-useless Derrick Rose (for Jerian “flies like a fucking eagle” Grant and Robin Lopez no less) and picking up Denzel Valentine, the Bulls straight-up won this draft.  Congrats, Bulls.

Toronto Raptors

Grade: A

Assets Coming In: #9, #27

Assets At The End Of The Day: Jakob Poeltl, Pascal Siakam

Obligatory Commentary: Let me just get this out of the way early.  I love Jakob Poeltl.  I spent this entire season declaring that Jakob Poeltl was one of the best five players in this draft.  And even if you think that a guy like Hield or a guy like Murray, or a guy like Dunn or a guy like Brown or a guy like Bender is on the level of a Jakob Poeltl I still say that he’s clearly one of the top eight.  Toronto got him at #9 after at least three teams who could legitimately use a center (Celtics, Suns, Pelicans – Davis is a PF) and one team who doesn’t really need a center but went on to later draft two of them anyway (Sacramento) passed on him.  Pascal Siakamm may end up being a complete waste of a first-round pick, but I don’t even care.  Poeltl is so awesome that I can’t even bring myself to make the obvious “turtle” puns.  (Bonus “also”:  Too easy.)  Jonas Valanciunas better tighten his jock strap, because Jakob is coming for his job.

Oklahoma City Thunder

Grade: A

Assets Coming In: Serge Ibaka, Cash

Assets At The End Of The Day: Domantas Sabonis, Victor Oladipo, Ersan Ilyasova, Daniel Hamilton

Obligatory Commentary: I could find a lot of ways to give the Thunder a marginal grade on this draft.  I am not a big fan of Domantas Sabonis.  This is not remotely your father’s Sabonismobile.  And Daniel Hamilton seems to be a prime candidate for a washout (just like his brother Justin and unlike his brother Isaac who ain’t getting drafted at all).  But despite the Thunder in my mind basically wasting that #11 pick, they swapped a declining Serge Ibaka for a very young and on-the-rise Victor Oladipo.  And you know without a shadow of a doubt that they asked impending free agent Kevin Durant about this trade before they made it.  And you know without a shadow of a doubt that impending free agent Kevin Durant signed off on it. or they wouldn’t have done it.  Oladipo may not be any James Harden on offense, but he ain’t no James Harden on defense either.  With the rise of Steven Adams and the decline of Serge Ibaka, this was a dagger move to keep Kevin Durant (and by extension, Russell Westbrook next year).  I love it.

New Orleans Pelicans

Grade: A-

Assets Coming In: #6, #39, #40

Assets At The End Of The Day: Buddy Hield, Cheick Diallo

Obligatory Commentary: I’m not 100% sold on Buddy Hield.  When he’s hot he can shoot it like a mutt-fugger, but that’s really about all that he does.  As a replacement for the perennially injured Eric Gordon, it’s harder to vote against him than it is to vote against Brexit, but I’m not sure that he brings a huge upside, and I say that as somebody who would happily have taken him at #8 had he fallen rather than trade down for random pieces.  As a #6 pick he’s probably middle of the road.  I do, however, like the way that the Pelicans packaged the almost useless #39 and #40 to get Cheick Diallo, who looks every bit the young Serge Ibaka to me.  Athletic, good defense, hint of a jump shot…and while later in these draft grades I’m going to (read: have already) savage (read: savaged) Serge Ibaka, that’s for Ibaka’s future, and not for his past.  If Diallo can give the Pels even three years at 3/4 of what Ibaka gave the Thunder at his peak…dude.  That’s a winner for the #39 and #40.

Minnesota Timberwolves

Grade: A-

Assets Coming In: #5

Assets At The End Of The Day: Kris Dunn

Obligatory Commentary: There are a couple of rumors floating around out there.  One is that the T’Wolves offered Rubio and Dunn for Butler and that Chicago rejected it.  Another is that the Timberwolves rejected a trade sending Dunn and LaVine to the Bulls for Jimmy Butler.  Now, since the players involved are different, both of these rumors could be true.  But if so, if the T’Wolves like Zach LaVine so much that they wouldn’t give him up for Jimmy Butler…what were they thinking?!?  For the purposes of these draft grades and in deference to the glorious and unparalleled ineptitude that was David Kahn’s, I’m going to assume that Minnesota DIDN’T turn down such a sweetheart deal.  In that case, we’re looking at Dunn with the fifth.  I’ve been a bit hard on Dunn in the past but I’ll still admit he’s the #1 PG in this draft, and if the T’Wolves want to get out of the Ricky Rubio Era, then Dunn is a pretty good way to go.  In the end I don’t think he ever becomes a top-ten PG in the league, but his defense and athleticism will look pretty nice on a team that has Wiggins and Towns to really carry it.

Denver Nuggets

Grade: B+

Assets Coming In: #7, #15, #19, #53, #56

Assets At The End Of The Day: Jamal Murray, Juan Hernangómez, Malik Beasley, Petr Cornelie, Cash

Obligatory Commentary: Denver came into the draft with one twelfth of the total picks and actually used four of them.  I’m a big fan of Murray at #7 – he might end up being one of the better players in this draft and I was definitely hoping he would fall the the Kings at #8 despite Coach Cal desperately lobbying the Timberwolves to grab him up during draft week.  Beasley, on the other hand, is a bit redundant with Jamal – a better athlete but both of them are combo-sized guys that probably won’t pan out to be PGs in the end and leave their team playing a bit small to keep a real distributor on the floor.  Also, Beasley is probably a long shot to really stick.  The two Euros are complete mysteries to me, so I’m going to go with the default assumption that they’re going to be terrible.  I don’t thoroughly love the Nuggets’ draft – I’d like to say they could have done more with #15 and #19, but as long as this draft was, a lot of the talent in the late first strikes me as pretty meh.  So it’s Murray that gets the grade.

San Antonio Spurs

Grade: B+

Assets Coming In: #29

Assets At The End Of The Day: Dejounte Murray

Obligatory Commentary: I’m not a huge fan of Dejounte Murray.  But at #29 I can’t complain at all.  He’s got the potential to be a decent PG, and with Tony Parker’s days numbered at this point I don’t know what the Spurs could have done better.  Well, I mean, the optimal scenario is to sign Mike Conley in the free agent period and to take his damn meatloaf with him, but there’s no guarantee of that.  Murray is some decent insurance and he will never have a widow’s peak like Walter Matthau.  Another beer, right?  It all makes sense to me.

Houston Rockets

Grade: B

Assets Coming In: #37, #43

Assets At The End Of The Day: Chinanu Onuaku, Zhou Qi

Obligatory Commentary: The Houston Rockets selected two players and every name in the mix ends in a vowel – most of them a “U”.  That’s gotta be some kind of record.  Zhou Qi is the first Chinese player to be drafted since Yi Jianlian and his one-on-chair workout video, and I don’t have a lot of optimism for him.  Sounds like he might not even come over anyway.  Onuaku, on the other hand, is a guy who some more advanced-metric-friendly draft analysts think is more like a top-ten pick than a second rounder.  I didn’t really see that, but I’m going to assume that Daryl Morey was listening to his cubicles of Nameless Numberhead Men on this one, and hey!  Who am I to say the Nameless Numberhead Men are wrong?  I have this blind optimism that Onuaku is going to be way better than the #37 pick, far enough better to get the Rockets a real nice grade.

Detroit Pistons

Grade: B

Assets Coming In: #18, #49, Spencer Dinwiddie

Assets At The End Of The Day: Henry Ellenson, Michael Gbinije, Cameron Bairstow

Obligatory Commentary: The Pistons swapped Spencer Dinwiddie for Cameron Bairstow and yet the sun still rose in the east the next morning.  Speaking of Cameron Bairstow, who is an Australian, I saw a great post on Facebook that went basically as follows:  Australian Customs Agent:  “Do you have any criminal convictions?”  British tourist: “I didn’t realize that was still a requirement.”  Aaaaand…reset.  OK, this really is about Henry Ellenson and Michael Gbinije, and other than Michael Gbinije having a silent g in his name, I don’t really care one way or another about him.  Ellenson at #18?  Well, he was projected in the lottery, he’s got a lot of basketball talent, he’s just not terribly athletic.  I don’t think he busts out.  He probably doesn’t make an all-star team, but at #18 in a weak draft I think the Pistons came up with some value.

Golden State Warriors

Grade: B-

Assets Coming In: #30, Cash

Assets At The End Of The Day: Damian Jones, Patrick McCaw

Obligatory Commentary: Against all odds, the Warriors are not the defending two-time champs.  But they still had the best regular-season record in history and that means that they get the worst first round pick in the first round. And Damian Jones really is a pretty nice best-case scenario for a player in this range of the draft.  He’s got the size, and on and off he’s got the motivation to really dominate the game.  The question is whether he can actually give his all when he’s on the court.  McCaw is kind of the opposite player – an effort kid who is so terribly skinny that he can’t play if the air conditioner is on (hmm…it’s getting a bit warmer in here…)  If you could take McCaw and Jones, put them into Jeff Goldblum’s Telepod from The Fly, turn it on, and just see what happened…then I totally understand this draft.  Joe Lacob might actually have enough money to own one of Jeff Goldblum’s Telepods.  So I’m kinda digging this.

Dallas Mavericks

Grade: B-

Assets Coming In: #46

Assets At The End Of The Day: A.J. Hammons

Obligatory Commentary: I kinda like A.J. Hammons, and maybe he shouldn’t have fallen this far.  My draft notes call him a butter-and-eggs guy and a great passer before noting that no way this kid falls to the second round.  Well, he did, and it’s probably due to his age, being a senior and a 23-year-old at that.  Still, the talent is there, the attitude is there, and it must be a medical red flag that drops him down halfway through the second round.  If he gets past that, he’s a great pick.  Again, not an all-star, but that’s not what you’re looking for at the #46.  By the time Hammons retires I figure there are going to be several teams in the 20s wishing they had picked him up.  So Dallas wins.

Portland Trailblazers

Grade: C+

Assets Coming In: Cash, a future second round pic

Assets At The End Of The Day: Jake Layman

Obligatory Commentary: For a team that started out with no draft assets whatsoever, landing Jake Layman isn’t so bad.  Jake Layman might end up a poor man’s Chandler Parsons, which isn’t so bad considering that coming out of Florida not even Chandler Parsons was a poor man’s Chandler Parsons.  Just right for a bachelor.

Philadelphia 76ers

Grade: C+

Assets Coming In: #1, #24, #26

Assets At The End Of The Day: Ben Simmons, Timothé Luwawu, Furkan Korkmaz

Obligatory Commentary: It’s the same story every year – you don’t get credit for taking the #1 player with the #1 pick.  You don’t even get credit for trying to troll the whole world into thinking maybe you’ll consider somebody other than Ben Simmons at #1.  NOBODY FELL FOR IT.  JUST ADMIT YOU’RE TAKING THE BEST PLAYER IN THE DRAFT.  DON’T INSULT OUR COLLECTIVE INTELLIGENCE.  Boy, do I long for the days when the Knicks had a Patrick Ewing #33 jersey ready to go at the draft lottery.  Honesty.  It’s as refreshing, if not more, than Sprite.  Do they even make Sprite anymore?  Apparently yes.  “Grant Hill drinks Sprite.  Grant Hill misses clutch free throws!”  ANYWAY.  The draft grade here is going to rely on what the Sixers did with their late picks.  And I’m not sure what to do with them.  On the one hand, it was kind of like, “we don’t know which one of these foreign wings we we’re supposed to take, so we’re just going to take both of them.”  On the other hand, one of these guys is probably going to pan out.  Korkmaz is so skinny that it’s unfortunate that he’s Turkish because it diminishes my ability to make some sort of concentration camp joke.  Luwawu is…I dunno.  I mean a lot of Kings fans tried to hitch their wagons to the Timothé Luwawu train, but I can’t quite figure why.  But assuming one of these two pans out from #24 and #26, then the Sixers win big.  And I figure one of the two does.  So…nice job Sixers, and don’t let the door hit Sam Hinkie on the way out?

Los Angeles Lakers

Grade: C

Assets Coming In: #2, #32

Assets At The End Of The Day: Brandon Ingram, Ivica Zubac

Obligatory Commentary: There were two great players in this draft.  The Lakers, who were lucky enough to hit the lottery and keep their top-three protected pick (something the Kings have been unable to do in like the last 25 years of the ping-pong lottery, not that I’m bitter or anything) were in position to draft whichever one fell to them, and they did.  No congratulations need be extended.  29 other NBA teams would have done exactly the same thing.  Then in the second round, the Lakers spent their pick on a center from the Balkans (and no, I’m not going to look up which Balkan state) (OK, fine, he’s Croatian) (Damn, I’m not sure whether I regret or respect my immediate lack of resolve on that one) who won’t be as good as the last Balkan center they picked – a guy who happened to be in charge of making four selections in this draft.  (That’s Vlade Divac, if you were living under Donald Trump’s toupée for the past decade.)  But they have the same number of letters in their names, so, hey.  Keep that dream alive.

Cleveland Cavaliers

Grade: C

Assets Coming In: Finals MVP LeBron James and the first championship in anything in Cleveland in 52 years, Cash

Assets At The End Of The Day: Finals MVP LeBron James and the first championship in anything in Cleveland in 52 years, Kay Felder

Obligatory Commentary: Do you think anybody in Cleveland cares that they don’t have a pick in this draft?  Do you think anybody gives fifteen shits about whether the Cavs spent some of their hard-earned championship cash on a midget PG from Oakland?  Like, they won.  LeBron brought Cleveland their first chip in over half a century.  Anybody who quibbles over the team buying a second round pick to snatch anybody is a fucking asshole.  Even if he is a midget.  Fuck, I’m a midget too, in NBA terms.  Fuck it.  Also, have you ever heard the phrase, “Don’t show a great movie inside your crappy movie”?  Because the great movie “The Apartment” shows great movies both “Grand Hotel” and “Stagecoach” in it, and I’m really confused.  I LOVE all these movies.  And I’m benevolently disposed toward LeBron James.  And when I’m drunk, these grades are waaaaaaaaaaaay more interesting.  Please compare the grade for the Denver Nuggets, which I did first.  Boring.  Sorry, Denver!  (Though you do have legalized marijuana so I’m not sure why you ought to give a fuck.  Take a hit.  It’s all good.)

Memphis Grizzlies

Grade: C-

Assets Coming In: #17, #57, 2019 L.A. Clippers lotto-protected 1st round pick

Assets At The End Of The Day: Wade Baldwin, Deyonta Davis, Rade Zagorac, Wang Zhelin

Obligatory Commentary: I would have liked to have liked Wade Baldwin.  I really would have.  In fact, I loved the player that everybody said he was – a long and athletic, great shooting, ball handling, good passing defensive monster PG who was the second best PG in the draft behind Dunn and was sure to lead a team to the Promised Land.  Unfortunately, I don’t think that’s who Baldwin is.  He’s got the length and probably the athleticism, but that’s about it.  Here is a smattering of comments from my Baldwin game notes: “Absolutely fails to get ball to Jones with ULIS on him in post.”  Ouch.  “Tries to dunk under the basket and gets blocked by the rim.  LOL.”  That’s right, I actually typed “LOL” in my draft notes.  “He’s not making the game hard on anybody on the defensive end.”  So let’s just cut this short and say that I can’t exactly give the Grizz much plaudit for drafting him just because they’re scared they’re going to lose Conley.  Deyonta Davis is an athletic PF, but if you listen to him in interviews, he sounds like he is not only dumber than a rock, but that he in fact lost to said rock in a game of rochambeau.  That said, he was perceived as a late-lottery pick who fell into the second round and got snapped up (along with possible Peja Stojakovic clone Rade Zagorac) at the price of a future late 1st.  So there is that.

Washington Wizards

Grade: C-

Assets Coming In: 4 tickets for an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour of the Lincoln Memorial

Assets At The End Of The Day: A more sincere respect for our country’s history

Obligatory Commentary: It could have been worse.  The Wiz did nothing in this draft, but at least they aren’t the Nets.

Miami Heat

Grade: D+

Assets Coming In: A Blu-Ray set of the full Breaking Bad Series

Assets At The End Of The Day: Red eyes from binge watching

Obligatory Commentary: Let’s see, the Heat lost James two years ago, they’re losing Whiteside this summer, Bosh may never play again due to his pulmonary embolism issue, and the Heat couldn’t manage to buy a pick in a draft where the second round was full of possibly decent players?  I don’t know what’s in the Miami water (no literally, in the hotel I stayed at in Lauderdale by the Sea had water so yellow my morning “relief” made it lighter in color) but apparently it drugged the Heat front office into just sleeping through the entire draft process.  You gotta pay to play, Miami.  And you gotta play to win.  You didn’t win.

Atlanta Hawks

Grade: D+

Assets Coming In: #21, #44, #54, Jeff Teague

Assets At The End Of The Day: Taurean Prince, DeAndre Bembry, Isaia Cordinier, Cash

Obligatory Commentary: I’m so torn.  I actually like Jeff Teague (and I’ll admit it, when he was drafted I thought he’d bust out but I’ll eat that crow) but with the rise of Dennis Schröder he was a fungible asset and it’s hard to blame the Hawks for trying to find some value for him.  On the other hand, the Hawks grabbed the #12 pick for Teague and then spent it on Taurean Prince, who is no particular disaster but is way too hot and cold for my taste at #12.  Maybe it works out, but more likely than not it doesn’t – and the one thing I do damn well know is that Jeff Teague is an NBA player.  Te only ting I can really say about Isaia Cordinier is tat e’s missing an “H”.  And DeAndre Bembry may be about 20 slots higher on mock draft boards for his Bikini Island hairdo than he actually deserves.  So bottom line, the Hawks didn’t really move the needle on this one, and they sent away Jeff Teague to do so.

Phoenix Suns

Grade: D

Assets Coming In: #4, #13, #28, #34, Bogdan Bogdanovic

Assets At The End Of The Day: Dragan Bender, Marquese Chriss, Tyler Ulis

Obligatory Commentary: I don’t know much what to think about Bender.  Maybe he turns out to be great, maybe he turns out to be Jan Vesely sans the super hot girlfriend.  At #4, you kind of expect a pretty damn decent player, so even if I give him credit for panning out, the Suns don’t get much above a C for taking him.  Marquese Chriss, on the other hand, screams absolute disaster to me.  There is a long and storied list of superbly athletic players who don’t actually know how to play basketball taken in the top ten.  If you’re not a draftnik, names like Stromile Swift, Tyrus Thomas, and Joe Alexander might mean nothing to you.  To me, they mean RUN THE FUCK AWAY!!!  And Marquese Chriss is exactly in that mold.  The Suns traded two picks and Bogdanovic (who, to be fair, pissed the Suns off about a day before the draft by declining to come over from Europe this year for what turn out to be completely understandable financial reasons) to grab a guy who I guaran-damn-tee is going to bust.  And I say that despite the fact that I ought to be rooting for the kid because he’s from Elk Grove.  You know, I’m a hell of an ambassador for the Sacramento area (Founding member of Crown Downtown, anybody?  Oh, right, that’s me.) but I’m not deluded…I hope.  And my hopeful non-delusion says Chriss is a bust.  You know, Bender probably pans out, but the Suns wasted basically the rest of their draft AND a good stashed Euro on a bust.  And what the didn’t waste on that bust, they spent on a midget.  (Hi, Tyler Ulis!)  Let me tell you, from extensive experience, Tyler Ulis is no Isaiah Thomas.  The poor Suns are still in the midst of trying to recover from the disastrous Morris Era, and this draft didn’t really fix much despite having #4 and #13.

Utah Jazz

Grade: D

Assets Coming In: #12, #42, #52, #60

Assets At The End Of The Day: George Hill, Joel Bolomboy, Marcus Paige, Tyrone Wallace, Cash

Obligatory Commentary: So wait.  George Hill is under contract for the same amount of time (one year) and the same amount of money ($8M) as Jeff Teague…and instead of straight up trading the #12 for Teague the Jazz went and got Hill instead?  Well, that was dumb.  Teague is a better player.  Had the Jazz trade the #12 for Hill straight up, I’d have hated it a bit, then looked at the available players at #12 and said, “Eh, all right.”  But they totally could have had Jeff Teague and didn’t want him.  That’s blind.  And the rest of the draft is full of uninspiring late second rounders.  Wallace may be Mr. Irrelevant (just like at Cal) but that’s all he’ll ever be known for in the NBA.  Marcus Paige?  Meh.  And I have no idea if Colon Boy is any good.  So the Jazz are giving me very little to praise them for here.

Los Angeles Clippers

Grade: D-

Assets Coming In: #25, #33

Assets At The End Of The Day: Brice Johnson, David Michineau, Diamond Stone

Obligatory Commentary: I hate Brice Johnson.  I mean, nothing against Brice Johnson, but what ever has he shown us that fellow UNC alum John Henson couldn’t do better?  And Henson can’t even crack minutes in an NBA rotation in Milwaukee.  So I’m saying here and now that Brice Johnson is a flop.  Following Johnson, the Clippers traded a shot at Chieck Diallo for a hard-luck Euro PG and Diamond Stone.  Now, I don’t hate Stone per se (he makes great beer, such as I’ve just run out of) but he’s kind of a poor man’s Zach Randolph, and while a rich man’s Zach Randolph is Zach Randolph, a poor man’s Zach Randolph is nothing more than some nut who wants to call himself “The Dark Angel”.  Stone, if I’m right, is one of those guys who just won’t be able to translate his domination of HS talent into a domination of NBA talent.  It happens.  But the key is to recognize it and not draft him.  Thanks, Madeline Stowe.  The Snozzberries taste like Snozzberries!

Boston Celtics

Grade: D-

Assets Coming In: #3, #16, #23, #31, #35, #45, #51, #58, a hernia from carrying all those damn picks

Assets At The End Of The Day: Jaylen Brown, Guerschon Yabusele, Ante Zizic, Demetrius Jackson, Ben Bentil, Abdel Nader, Cash

Obligatory Commentary: There’s so much to say here.  I kind of like Jaylen Brown.  I’m not sure I like him at #3, but maybe I do.  He’s got almost no discernible basketball talent to this point, but he’s close, and he’s got a man’s body.  I certainly can’t knock the Celtics for taking him at #3, even if in many mock drafts on the day of the draft he was projected to go #8.  That whole Brown/Dunn/Bender/Hield/Murray tier was terribly confused at the time of the 2016 draft, and while it might be obvious five years down the road, right now it’s about as clear as mud.  So I can’t give the Celtics either credit of grief for the pick at #3.  But the rest of the draft?  Outside of Ben Bentil, it’s a bunch of ick.  The Celtics had eight picks in a draft where second-round picks were typically selling for over $2M (out of a maximum per team per year of $3.4M in possible cash considerations, per the collective bargaining agreement).  So the C’s were forced to pick at 6 of their 8 slots.  What is the fucking point of having eight picks if you have to waste four of them?  And let me tell you, Yabusele, Zizic, Jackson, and Nader were wastes of picks.  The Celtics had the most picks in this draft, but they had to waste most of them.  What a complete and total…waste.  Also, I’ve never watched The Fortune Cookie before (nor am I properly watching it now) but the dude with the Hitler moustache…

Orlando Magic

Grade: F

Assets Coming In: #11, #41, #47, Victor Oladipo, Ersan Ilyasova

Assets At The End Of The Day: Serge Ibaka, Stephen Zimmerman, Cash, a future second round pick

Obligatory Commentary: You gotta give the Magic credit – they swung for the fences and sent Oladipo and the #11 to get a declining Serge Ibaka (Ilyasova is a salary cap filler guy who totally doesn’t count).  I really love what Serge Ibaka has done over the past, what, seven years, but his numbers are coming down.  We’re talking, over the last four years Ibaka has seen his stats drop off severely.  Block %age?  Plummeted.  Offensive rebounding %age?  Plummeted.  PER?  Plummeted.  True Shooting %age?  Plummeted.  Win Shares?  Plummeted.  It’s his age-27 year, and he might just be on his way to done.  And for all the great work that he has done in the past he is going to get a max contract (yes folks, that’s kinda the way it works…NBA players get paid for what they’ve already done more than what they’re likely to do in the future).  The Magic gave it their all, but I think they’ve screwed the proverbial pooch.  Then they spent one of their second round picks on one of the big names that really isn’t going to do anything – Stephen Zimmerman, who has a giraffe neck but who had a pretty lousy season at UNLV and now is granted the mercy of getting to miss the Vegas Summer League (Orlando doesn’t go because they hold their own).  I just can’t recommend the direction that the Magic have taken their team over the past year.  They’ve gone From Vucevic/Oladipo/Harris to Vucevic/Ibaka/???.  Sure, they’ve got Gordon and Payton and Hezonja, but they had those guys before they threw away Oladipo and Harris.  This is why you don’t put a team in a Disney town.

Sacramento Kings

Grade: F

Assets Coming In: #8, #59, Marco Belinelli, two misdemeanor spousal abuse charges

Assets At The End Of The Day: Georgios Papagiannis, Malachi Richardson, Skal Labissière, Bogdan Bogdanovich, Isaiah Cousins, 2020 second round pick

Obligatory Commentary: Well, I’m only one “Drink By” in, and I’ve got to do the Kings’ draft grade.  I may be two “Drink By”s in before I’m done.  For a long time – for a long, long time – I’ve been wearing the purple glasses on draft night, but tonight, finally, I will not.  I had figured that I might not be for a while now, but when the Kings managed to trade the completely useless “I’m gonna come off a curl and launch a crazy shot” Marco Belinelli for the #22 pick, ridding his salary and potentially adding a draft asset, I thought maybe I’d have to go back to those amethyst shades once again.  But, the top seven in this draft went top seven (despite all the pundits insisting that Marquese Chriss would jump into the top 7 and leaving at least one good non-center pick for the Kings) and it was Poeltl or trade down.  Honestly, Poeltl was probably the right choice, even with Cousins in the fold.  But when the Kings turned the #8 into the #13, the #28, AND Bogdan Bogdanovic (BOGDAN SON OF BOGDAN!!) and a future second rounder (whatevs) I thought that was awesome.  Then the Kings started actually picking players.  Georgios “Better Ingredients.  Better Pizza.” Papagiannis is a complete mystery to me, but worse, he’s a center.  The Kings have Cousins and WCS.  We don’t need a center, even if he is BPA on Vlade’s board and even if he was going to be gone at #18 to Detroit if we didn’t take him.  At #22, the Kings took Malachi Richardson, who made a late draft rise on the basis of one hot Tourney game.  And then at #28, just for LOLs, the Kings took UK flunkie Skullhead Boneyhands, who had just about the worst and most timid freshman season of any one-and-done prospect I’ve ever seen.  There’s a potential pot of gold at the end of each of these guys’ rainbows (Papa John’s is a pretty mobile and quite young (age-19 season) center who may be in the selfsame Vlade Divac mode, Richardson could be a 3-and-D guy if everything pans out, and Skal was thought to be a top-ten pick only a year ago), but are three lottery tickets better than one Jakob Poeltl?  Five years from now, this draft grade may look really, really, dumb. In fact, I desperately and sincerely hope it makes me look like a clownish asshole who should never ever comment on the draft again.  But right now, it’s spot on.  Vlade made a couple of moves that looked really nice until he actually drafted players.  Then the nice just washed away.  And the Kings fans continue to wonder when the nightmare will end.

Milwaukee Bucks

Grade: F

Assets Coming In: #10, #36, #38

Assets At The End Of The Day: Thon Maker, Malcolm Brogdon, Cash

Obligatory Commentary: Brogdon was a second-round pick all along, so whatever.  The problem here is Thon Maker at #10.  Maker had nothing but red flags flying on this draft.  He never played college ball, which makes it tough for teams to see him, and a lot of teams thought he might actually be 3-4 years older than represented.  Being from the Sudan, that’s the sort of thing that’s kind of hard to verify.  Does Maker turn into a dominant face-up stretch-5?  Maybe.  But most likely he washes out, and if you look at the comments from scouts it would appear that very few teams would have even considered taking this guy with a first round pick.  Milwaukee rolled the dice and took him at #10.  It’s hard for me to imagine any scenario where this doesn’t blow up in their faces.  Sorry Milwaukee.  You’ve got an amazing baseball stadium, I’m sure your upcoming basketball arena will be awesome, and there’s always the Frederick Meijer Gardens (no, that’s in Grand Rapids, I’m drunk) but your beer is terrible and if Thon Maker isn’t on a Hamm’s can in a month, I’ll be surprised.

Brooklyn Nets

Grade: F

Assets Coming In: Thaddeus Young, #55, Cash, a front seat to watch Boston spend their #3

Assets At The End Of The Day: Caris LeVert, Isaiah Whitehead, a future 2nd round pick (Indiana)

Obligatory Commentary: The only question here is not about the grade, it’s about how long I want to rant about how badly the Nets f’ed this draft up.  Let’s consider the #22 pick.  It was bought for the price of crappy-shooter-and-worse-defender Marco Belinelli.  So why the Nets thought it was worth buying the #20 pick for Thaddeus Young, who is actually a very good player, is beyond me.  And then, the Nets went and spent that #20 pick on Caris LeVert, possibly the single most injured draftable player in the past decade.  This is an unmitigated disaster.  And on top of that, Boston owns their #3 pick this year and their first round pick in 2018, picks that they got in exchange for absolute crap.  We’re talking end-of-career Gerald Wallace and Marshon Brooks unmitigated crap.  Can I just use the word “unmitigated” one more time for good measure?  AND THEY TRADE BASICALLY THE ONLY GOOD PLAYER THEY HAVE FOR CARIS LEVERT?!?!?  Congratulations, Mikhail Prokhorov.  As if Russia didn’t lose the Cold War in the ’80s, you have basically sealed the deal in your tenure as Nets owner.  I mean, Jay-Z got 99 problems, but the Nets ain’t one.  Because he sold out.  Like a red-blooded fucking American.

New York Knicks

Grade: F

Assets Coming In: Robin Lopez, Jerian Grant, Jose Calderon

Assets At The End Of The Day: Derrick Rose, Justin Holiday, 2017 2nd round pick

Obligatory Commentary: The Knicks came into this draft without a pick and left it the same way.  But in the meantime they managed to trade two of their better assets (Grant and Lopez) for a washed-up Derrick Rose.  Washed-up just like Shirley Maclaine is not washed up in The Apartment.  Who would have thought that Shirley Maclaine was absodamnlutely hot when she was younger?  Not me.  But she was, just like Derrick Rose was absodamnlutely an NBA all-star when he was younger.  But you try to tell the children of today that, and they won’t listen.  (They won’t ?!?!?)

Charlotte Hornets

Grade: F

Assets Coming In: #22

Assets At The End Of The Day: Marco Belinelli

Obligatory Commentary: The Hornets were rumored to be trying to package the #22 along with either Jeremy Lamb or Spencer Hawes to make some cap room.  So naturally, when that failed, instead they traded the #22 for the more expensive and completely shitty Marco Belinelli, eating away their cap space while solving no problems whatsoever.  There is no explanation.  Basically, it comes down to this: giving the #22 pick to Lily Tomlin would have been better than trading it for Marco Belinelli and his (relatively) inflated contract.  But the Charlotte Hornets don’t care – they don’t have to.  They’re owned by Michael Jordan, the NBA legend whose blood rushes to his head on the elevator or something.  He runs a bookie joint in the actuarial department.  Fred MacMurray knows about this.  And he wants an explanation.  And maybe the key.  Because he’s fucking the secretary.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I love the NBA draft, I really do, but despite my Christmas-like anticipation for it, it’s hard to sit down and blog about it ahead of time.  Sure, I could do a mock draft, but everybody does one of those.  And I could do that old 100-Slot Challenge I made up, but who can I beat?  Nobody else is playing along.

So instead, this year I thought maybe I’d do a “mockery” draft.  The concept is this:  What is the absolute worst pick that each team could reasonably make?  Now, the word “reasonably” is operative here.  The worst pick that the Sixers could possibly make at #1 would be somebody like Ingrid Sewa (yes, a real early-entry candidate from Arizona Western Community College)…but that’s not remotely plausible.  Let’s be honest – even for all the smoke they’re blowing about Jaylen Brown, there’s not even a snowball’s chance in hell of them drafting him, and he’s a surefire lotto pick.

In order to give myself some sort of guidance on this, I’m arbitrarily breaking players down into tiers – two in the top tier, three in the second tier, four in the third tier, and so on.  (The numbers are arbitrary, just wanted it to be halfway clean.)  So that things don’t get too silly, no team may select from a tier more than one lower than the tier of the highest player available.  This keeps players from absolutely tumbling and ensures that I don’t have too large of a pool to select the worst reasonable pick for each team.  Of course, this also means that some teams are bound to get it right in the mockery draft simply because they can’t justify the mistake we know they so desperately want to make.  Somebody is going to get Ben Simmons.  Well, that’s the way a draft should go, right?

This year, the tiers as I have arbitrarily determined them based on my own biases (as well as reputable mock drafts and green room invites) are as follows:

Tier 1: Ben Simmons, Brandon Ingram

Tier 2: Kris Dunn, Dragan Bender, Jaylen Brown

Tier 3: Jamal Murray, Buddy Hield, Jakob Poeltl, Marquese Chriss

Tier 4: Henry Ellenson, Wade Baldwin, Deyonta Davis, Skal Labissiere, Domantas Sabonis

Tier 5: Dejounte Murray, Malachi Richardson, Furkan Korkmaz, Timothe Luwawu, Cheick Diallo, Denzel Valentine

Tier 6: Demetrius Jackson, Ivica Zubac, Ante Zizic, Taurean Prince, Damien Jones, Diamond Stone, Malik Beasley

Tier 7: Juan Hernangomez, Brice Johnson, Thon Maker, DeAndre Bembry, Zhou Qi, Chinanu Onuaku, Stephen Zimmerman, Ben Bentil

And so, without further ado…the mockery draft

 

Pic Team Player Biting Commentary
1 Philadelphia Brandon Ingram Philly has been doing this so long, it’s almost impossible to imagine them getting it right and picking Ben Simmons, the player who could finally get them out of Hinkie-Hell.   This, of course, is the mockery draft where we assume they’re going to get it wrong if they possibly can, and while Brandon Ingram should be a nice player, whoops! go the Sixers.
2 L.A. Lakers Ben Simmons While it would have been legal under the mockery draft tier rules for the Lakers to pass on Simmons, it’s just not reasonable that they would do so.  I had a hard enough time making Philly skip on a possibly generational talent for a really good player, but I can’t do the same against the next tier down.  The Lakers get lucky in the mockery draft (just as they did in the lottery) and rebuild from the Kobe era immediately.
3 Boston Buddy Hield The Celtics’ biggest strength is in their guards, so the way they screw this up is to draft another one.  The only real question is which one.  The answer is Buddy Hield – and they draft him purely based on the fact that he hit 85 of 100 threes in an empty gym.  He turns out to be only a mediocre shooter and the Celtics rejoice in the fact that they still have another unprotected Brooklyn pick to screw up in 2018.
4 Phoenix Marquese Chriss Chriss could easily have gone to the Celtics in this one, but I’m guessing he didn’t torch their shooting workout quite like Buddy.  Chriss is the opposite of a shooter – heck, he’s the opposite of a basketball player.  There is a really long list of players drafted in the high lottery solely on their athleticism who busted right out of the league, and Chriss is going to add his name to the list.  Sometimes people like to say “only been playing basketball a few years” as some sort of talisman that will make a player suddenly figure it out.  Few do.  Sorry, Phoenix.
5 Minnesota Jaylen Brown The Timberwolves do not need a wing.  Wiggins has the SF covered, and between LaVine and Muhammad they’ve got guys they like to play the SG as well.  So naturally, with a PF and a few young PGs who could replace the broken-jumpered Rubio, they’re going to go for a guy whose best spot is SF and who will be stuck behind Wiggins until he and his also-questionable basketball talent wash out of the league.  Good picking, Minny!
6 New Orleans Dragan Bender The Pelicans get the option of picking between two PGs, a solid C and a Euro PF.  With Holiday perpetually injured, a PG wouldn’t be a bad call.  And Davis is really a PF, so Poeltl would probably suit them just as well.  So the Pelicans pick Dragan Bender, who will struggle to find a niche on the floor for the nearly 40 minutes a game that AD will be on the floor.  Just what he needs to follow in the footsteps of Jan Vesely!
7 Denver Jakob Poeltl Denver’s pickings are getting slim, and all of them are pretty bad fits.  They have Mudiay at PG, a guy they really can’t give up on yet, and they have Nurkic and Jokic emerging in the frontcourt.  Murray and Dunn both have a bit of ability to go combo here and can cover for Mudiay’s inability to stretch the floor, so the mockery draft will go with Poeltl to give the Nuggets exactly what every NBA team needs – three seven-foot Eastern Europeans.  (Does Austria count as Eastern Europe?  It’s not former Iron Curtain, but it actually is pretty far east, so I’m not really sure.)
8 Sacramento Jamal Murray With Darren Collison facing some (misdemeanor) domestic violence charges and Rajon Rondo seemingly a longshot to return, what the Kings could really use in this draft is a PG ready to step in from day one – especially given their obvious desire to start winning the moment they step into the new Golden 1 Center.  The mockery draft has allowed that player to slip into their hands – so they have to pass on him to take another pretty solid player and good fit (some teams get lucky here), but nonetheless a player who will take a few years to come into his own.
9 Toronto Kris Dunn By rule, with Tier 3 empty the Raptors have to take the last player from Tier 2.  Dunn falling to nine is a blessingcurse for the Raptors (is there a word in German for that?  There’s gotta be.)  While he’s obviously the consensus best player left in the draft, he’s also stepping into a situation with a really solid PG in Lowry who he isn’t going to displace any time soon.  Toronto would have loved to see a guy like Bender or Chriss here, but Dunn it is, for better and for worse.
10 Milwaukee Malachi Richardson With Tiers 2 and 3 closed, things really open up for the Bucks here, and they are given the opportunity to make a huge mistake by having 11 players to choose from.  They make the easy pick in Malachi Richardson.  Let’s see…goes to Syracuse so you can’t tell if he can play D?  Check.  Has a lackluster year punctuated by a single tournament game where every stupid shot he took was falling and parlays that into a Green Room invite?  Check.  About to be the worst pick in the entire draft?  Sounds right to me.  Sorry, Bucks.  You were on the wrong end of the Tier 4/5 stick there.
11 Orlando Skal Labissiere Here’s a case where the hype doesn’t match the game.  Labissiere was touted as a possible #1 overall pick in this draft coming into his single (terrible) year at Kentucky.  While he turned it on towards the end of the year, he just looks too thin and too timid to do anything remotely close to succeeding in a man’s league.  But the lure of a silky smooth big man is too much, even for a team that has Vucevic and thus will have trouble finding development time for their prized rook.  Skal was bound to bust out, may as well do it near Disneyworld.
12 Utah Furkan Korkmaz Everybody and their mother thinks that Utah is going to be looking to upgrade their frontcourt this offseason, with lots of buzz that they’re open to dealing Favors and have perhaps even promised Sabonis at #12.  So naturally, they go for a guy who duplicates their max player in Gordon Hayward.  That’s exactly what the mockery draft is about.
13 Phoenix Dejounte Murray In this mockery draft, Phoenix has already taken Marquese Chriss, so they might as well take his also-not-ready-for-prime-time teammate Dejounte Murray.  Murray will get stuck behind Bledsoe and Knight (note: rumors are flying about Bledsoe being on the trading block, but still) and wash out only slightly slower than Chriss.  But don’t worry, Phoenix still has one more first round pick to blow completely!
14 Chicago Timothe Luwawu Chicago actually has some pretty decent options here, considering that Rose isn’t the player he used to be and with Noah on the way out and Gasol this close to needing a walker they could patch the frontcourt as well.  That’s why they obviously go with Luwawu, the one player left who will probably be stuck behind Butler, the one player the Bulls can probably count on at this point.
15 Denver Domantas Sabonis This mockery draft has Denver cornering the market on Eastern European big men like they’re going out of production, Trabant-style.  Hopefully Tier 6 is going to open up by the time their #19 comes around…
16 Boston Wade Baldwin More guards for the Celtics!  This one never really tickled my fancy in college, though a lot of folks think Baldwin is going to be a player.  Well good luck with that, being stuck behind IT, Smart, Bradley, and Hield.  The Celtics will be forced to trade Baldwin for pennies on the dollar in a few years with a lineup like that.
17 Memphis Henry Ellenson The one thing Memphis does not need is another slow dude in the frontcourt.  They just lost their coach who was able to play slow, and the addition of Ellenson is going to ensure that they never field a lineup where all five guys cross the timeline before the clock is down to 18.  The bright side here is that Ellenson is a pretty solid pick at 17.
18 Detroit Deyonta Davis And what could the Pistons use more than an athletic big man who isn’t very good at basketball?  They’ve got one named Andre Drummond who is currently able to do all of the things that Deyonta Davis might one day be able to do.  So it’s a perfect mockery pick.  Besides, I really, really needed to clear out Tier 4 because Denver is coming up…
19 Denver Ivica Zubac AND Ante Zizic Boom.  That’s now six Eastern European big men for the Nuggets, and a complete mic drop for the mockery draft.  Hey, look, my mockery draft, my rules, and my rules say that Denver gets to select two players here in compensation for…believing that Timofey Mozgov was a key piece worthy of holding up the Carmelo Anthony deal all those years ago.  You falls in love with your Eastern Euro big men, you gets to pay the piper.
20 Indiana Taurean Prince Here the key question was: “Who will be most effectively blocked by Paul George?”  The answer is in the column to the left of this one.  Like most other players in the twenties draft, Prince has a pretty decent chance to pan out, and barring the ability to tell who really is going to bust from this crowd, it’s all about blockage.  Ah, blockage.  Good old find-me-some-prune-juice blockage.
21 Atlanta Demetrius Jackson With Teague and Schroeder fighting for PT in Atlanta, what could be better than the Hawks drafting a #3 PG to warm the bench behind them?  As far as the mockery draft is concerned?  Nothing!
22 Charlotte Malik Beasley I’m not really sure that Charlotte has anybody worthy of blocking a draftee – not even Al Jefferson – so I’m going with the biggest risk in my eyes in Malik Beasley.  He’s going to take some time to develop, that’s for sure, so even if he pans out the Hornets will be treading water for a few more years if they take him.  A guy like Valentine could have helped right away, but no…
23 Boston Denzel Valentine I actually like Denzel Valentine a lot.  He’s a solid player who people seem to think can’t defend (I never got that impression) and who now has his stock tumbling even more because the rumor is that his knees are shot.  I have no idea how much of that is smoke, but what I do know is that for every Eastern European big man I have Denver drafting in this mockery, Boston has to take a guard.  Denzel is the only one left by rule, so he’s the guy.
24 Philadelphia Cheick Diallo Well, there’s not much to choose from again.  Cheick Diallo seems to be more Serge Ibaka than Nerlens Noel, but that’s still enough to make it tough for him to get PT in Philly.  At least Diallo (as opposed to say Damien Jones) allows me to finally shut down Tier 5 and get more players to choose from, just in time for the Clippers.
25 L.A. Clippers Zhou Qi The last time there was a hyped-up Chinese prospect, he really schooled a chair in a YouTube workout and then washed out of the league so fast that Calgon sued for copyright infringement on the “Ancient Chinese Secret, Huh?” tagline.  Why should Zhou Qi be any different?
26 Philadelphia Juan Hernangomez I’ll be honest – I really have no idea who this guy is.  He’s a PF, he’s Spanish (I think…that “Hernangomez” might be Welsh or Finnish as well), and the one thing that Philly has covered is their frontcourt.  So why not pick another frontcourt player to stay in Europe?  He can hang out with Dario Saric, they can trade polenta recipes and check out the Northern Lights, teammate stuff like that.
27 Toronto Stephen Zimmerman Sadly, there’s no PG on the board for Toronto to take to follow up tabbing Dunn at #6.  Of the players left, I figure Zimmerman is the most likely to get stuck behind Valanciunas, so he gets the nod.
28 Phoenix Brice Johnson The Suns took two Huskies at the top of this mockery draft, but with no Husky left on the board I figured we could go with the anti-husky in Brick Johnson.  Johnson is a real wet-noodle type, the guy who looks like John Henson with an intestinal parasite.  And with Henson struggling to find minutes, I don’t see how Johnson can make any sort of splash at all.
29 San Antonio DeAndre Bembry Bentil, Stone, and Maker are all players that I think San Antonio could mold into future contributors.  Bembry, on the other hand, is already molded – into the shape of a mushroom (well, his hair, anyway).  Bembry can’t hold a candle to Kawhi Leonard, so he’s a waste of a pick here.  And that’s what the mockery draft is all about!
30 Golden State Ben Bentil I actually like Ben Bentil.  In my mind, he’s the guy Draymond Green could be if Green were about two inches taller.  So how can Golden State pass up having two?  They can’t!  Hilarity!  Traveshamockery!  (And that’s the whole point.)

Let me preface this by saying that I’m not much of a gambler. I’ll play some friendly poker games and every once in a while I’ll accept a dollar prop bet from a friend at a sports bar (“Dollar says he gets a base hit here!” “You’re on!”). I mean, you’re reading a guy who went to Vegas for a week-long trip to NBA Summer League two years running and didn’t manage to gamble a single penny either time.

But that said, I like fantasy games, and this is a fantasy game – by myself, to be sure, but a fantasy game. The premise on this one is that I am forced to spend $5115 on the NBA Over/Under Win Totals this year.

What the heck is the deal with $5115? I’ll get to that in a minute. But the idea is that I have to lay a bet on each of the 30 over/unders. Rather than allow myself to distribute the money completely freely, I’m going to play it like a pick ’em with confidence points. For instance, I think the line on the Sacramento Kings this year is really, really wrong. So I’m going to put $30 on them, then $29 on the line I think is next safest, and so on. Except $30 doesn’t really work great, because (as best as I can figure – remember, I’m not a big gambler) your typical over/under bet pays at +110, or in other words, wager $11 to win $10. So if I bet $30 and won, then I’d get the bet back plus $27.27272727. That’s just tough to deal with. So instead of betting $30, I’m going to bet $30*11 = $330, so that if I win, I get $300 on top. It just makes everything come out in whole numbers. And that means that the total I have to wager is $5115.

Hopefully, I’ll remember that I did this at the end of the season and come back and see if I made any money. If I know absolutely nothing, the expected return would be about $4882.50 (dammit, not a whole number!) – just a bit over 95% of my wager with the house taking almost 5% of my money for my trouble. See? This is why Michael Corleone wanted to RUN a gambling establishment. A 5% return on investment with very low risk (if you set your line right and get equal bets on both sides) is pretty much unbeatable. But a smart gambler (can’t say that’s what I am, but…) basically takes their money from the suckers. Let’s see if I’m any smart.

(Odds taken from Westgate Las Vegas Superbook 9/30/15)

Team O/U Wins My Pick Act. Wins Wager Return
Sacramento Kings 30.5 Over 33 $330 $630
Milwaukee Bucks 43.5 Over 33 $319 $0
Atlanta Hawks 49.5 Over 48 $308 $0
Oklahoma City Thunder 57.5 Under 55 $297 $567
Phoenix Suns 36.5 Under 23 $286 $546
Dallas Mavericks 38.5 Under 42 $275 $0
Orlando Magic 32.5 Over 35 $264 $504
Detroit Pistons 33.5 Under 44 $253 $0
Utah Jazz 40.5 Under 40 $242 $462
New York Knicks 31.5 Under 32 $231 $0
Portland Trailblazers 26.5 Under 44 $220 $0
Charlotte Hornets 32.5 Over 48 $209 $399
San Antonio Spurs 58.5 Over 67 $198 $378
Los Angeles Lakers 29.5 Under 17 $187 $357
Cleveland Cavaliers 56.5 Over 57 $176 $336
Toronto Raptors 45.5 Over 56 $165 $315
Miami Heat 45.5 Over 48 $154 $294
Philadelphia 76ers 21.5 Under 10 $143 $273
Golden State Warriors 60.5 Over 73 $132 $252
Denver Nuggets 26.5 Over 33 $121 $231
New Orleans Pelicans 47.5 Under 30 $110 $210
Indiana Pacers 42.5 Under 45 $99 $0
Memphis Grizzlies 50.5 Over 42 $88 $0
Minnesota Timberwolves 25.5 Over 29 $77 $147
Brooklyn Nets 28.5 Under 21 $66 $126
Washington Wizards 45.5 Over 41 $55 $0
Chicago Bulls 49.5 Over 42 $44 $0
Boston Celtics 42.5 Under 48 $33 $0
Houston Rockets 54.5 Under 41 $22 $42
Los Angeles Clippers 56.5 Under 53 $11 $21

The Stupid Lines

Last year the Kings went through what feels like unprecedented turmoil.  After a solid start their all-star center got viral meningitis, and missed a ton of games (almost 30% of the season, and then wasn’t fully healthy or happy once he came back).  Following that, dysfunction in the front office came to the forefront and a decent (though not great) coach was canned in favor of a pretty lousy one.  The team, missing its best player and angry about the firing, basically shut down, Rudy Gay missed over 15% of the season, and by the time the front office finally hired George Karl the team had lost its starting PG (Darren Collison missed 45% of the season) and was forced to rely on Ray McCallum…and that team still won 29 games.  Now this year, they’ve replaced their Mickey Mouse front office with basketball whisperer Vlade Divac and company, they have a full training camp with Karl, a healthy Cousins and Collison…oh, and they added Rondo, Koufos, Belinelli, and Caron Butler as well as rookie defensive stalwart Cauley-Stein who should be able to contribute right away…and Vegas thinks they’ll get two more wins?  Laughable.  I’d take them for the over at 40, and right now I think they’ll make the playoffs.  That may be some purple-colored glasses, but let me say this – I never pegged us for the playoffs last year, before the shit hit the fan.

The Bucks are another terrible line.  They looked great at times last year, they played .500 ball on up-and-coming players like Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton, and they added Carter-Williams at the deadline.  Keep in mind that they lost Jabari Parker for most of the season, and they signed Greg Monroe in free agency.  That’s going to easily be worth more than three lousy wins in the Eastern Conference.  It’s like betting with house money.

The Hawks won 60 games last year.  This offseason they basically lost DeMarre Carroll and added Tiago Splitter.  How in the world does that translate to 11 fewer wins?  I’ll tell you how – it doesn’t.

The Iffy Lines

58 wins is a lot in the Western Conference.  Kings fans will remember that in one of our championship-challenging years we pushed hard to get to “60 before 20”.  The Thunder are a talented team, but injury has been knocking on their door since I can remember – Westbrook seems perpetually injured and now we have to worry about Durant’s health.  I know they ought to be in for an uptick, but 13 extra wins seems a bit much with an untested NBA coach in a strong conference with numerous injury concerns.

The Suns felt like an unsustainable Cinderella team all last year – and made their way to 39 wins.  Replace most of a season of Goran Dragic and Isaiah Thomas with Brandon Knight, subtract Marcus Morris, look real hard at a disgruntled and potentially-in-legal-trouble Markieff, and consider that their big acquisition was to sign a 33-year old athlete in Tyson Chandler.  I don’t think that’s enough.

Nowitzki is now entering “ancient” range, and the Mavs’ big acquisition this summer was a SG coming off of an achilles tear.  On top of that, this team has no depth.  This team is basically Ancient Dirk, Hurt Matthews, Chandler Parsons, Over The Hill Deron…and nothing.  They’re going to be 20 games worse next year, and the line only dropped them 12.

The Magic have put together a nice core: Vucevic, Harris, Oladipo, Payton – and we can expect improvement from Aaron Gordon with newcomer Hezonja and veteran Fournier giving them a lot of opportunity to slot Harris down as a tweener PF, and I think this team is simply better than 32 wins in the east.

The Pistons lose Greg Monroe and are projected to win two more games?  Mmmm – no.

Similarly, the line is projecting the Jazz to gain three games and they really haven’t done much this offseason except lose their starting PG to injury.  Nobody is going be surprised by Gobert or Hood this season, and Burke is terrible.  The Jazz are taking a step backwards, not forwards.

And, you know, nothing against Robin Lopez and Arron Afflalo, but the Knicks were terrible last year and I just can’t see them adding 15 wins.  They’ll be better, but 15 wins?

The Blazers are due for a big, big fall after the team basically fell apart before everybody’s eyes this summer.  The only question is how far?  It’s really hard to tell.  But since the dregs of the West were at 16/21 wins last year, I don’t see Portland getting 27 this year.

The Hornets swapped Gerald Henderson to get Nicolas Batum, pulled off an addition-by-subtraction by getting rid of Stephenson, and improved their big slow white guy depth with Hawes and Kaminsky.  I just can’t see them taking a step back, especially in the East.

The Tough Calls

The remainder of the lines seem pretty good to me, which is what you’d want if you were a sportsbook, right?  Still, the lines are predicting about ten more wins than are available, so they’re a bit optimistic.  I’ll try to “under” a bit more than I “over”, especially with the Kings, Bucks, and Hawks probably sucking up a ton of wins themselves.

The Spurs have a lofty total to beat – getting to at least 59 wins in the West – but they added LaMarcus Aldridge and David West.  Age is going to start to take a toll, but they look like a 60-win team to me.

If I believed that the Lakers would get a full-strength Kobe Bryant back, well, maybe.  But I doubt that, and while I like D’Angelo Russell, I think the growing pains here are going to be pretty severe.

I don’t even care if the Cavs don’t get Tristan Thompson to sign – I’m not really high on him and we’re talking about LeBron/Kyrie/Love here.  In the East.  With a year to have gelled.  They’re a good bet to push 60 wins, even if they didn’t last year.

The Raptors basically swapped Amir Johnson for DeMarre Carroll and picked up a really-underrated athletic combo guard for their bench in Norman Powell.  They should hold steady, and the under says they lose four wins.  I say no.

Wade/Bosh/Dragic should spell playoffs.  In fact, they might even finish above the Raptors, despite the lower line.

The Sixers added Jahlil Okafor, but they traded away Carter-Williams and they don’t have a real PG.  Can they really get that much better?

61 is a scary number, and the Warriors are a jumpshooting team that could go cold at a moment’s notice, but then again, they’re really really good.  I’ll take that risk.

Emmanuel Mudiay? Michael Malone?  The Nuggets won’t be good by any means, but I think they’ll be a bit better than their line.

With the Pelicans – Holiday has spent the past few seasons not being healthy – you think he’s going to be well now?  Davis is good, but I think they struggle a bit this year.

Paul George is back for the Pacers, but the front line is atrocious.  I can’t spot them 43 wins.

The Grizzlies lost Koufos, which is pretty big, but they picked up Matt Barnes.  Are they going to drop 5 games for that?  I don’t think so.

Wiggins, Towns, Dieng?  The ‘Wolves won’t be good, but I think they can sneak up to 26 wins.

A line of 28.5 wins says there’s not much room for optimism with the Nets.  I agree.  Under.

Sure, they lost Pierce, but Beal should be healthy and they do have John Wall and Marcin Gortat.  They should do a bit better than last year, I think.

The Bulls won 50 games last year and bring back basically their entire team outside of Thibs.  Rose broke his face, but should be ready to start the season, right?  I’m optimistic, kind of.  That’s why these are hard.

The Celtics, Rockets, and Clippers lines look pretty dead on to me – I’m pushing towards the under due to the above-mentioned optimism in the lines, but I don’t want to wager too much on them.

We’ll see how this goes…in 7 months.

The Results…

“I’m not dead yet!” says me, with one week left in the season.  I’m up to $4284 on 14/22 shooting so far.  That leaves me 8 picks to go and just under $600 to win at chance, and $831 to break even.  With over $3000 left on the board, you’d think it would be an easy climb.  But $1680 of that is basically toast.  On the other hand $714 of it looks really good (random chance, here I come!) and the remaining $630 is probably better than a 50% chance.  The next question, of course, will be whether my confidence ratings hurt me…

…and that $714 has come in, so I’m up to $4998 – better than random chance!  (But still not breaking even…I love how that works, Vegas.)  Six picks are still alive as none of the by-a-threads have snapped yet, though there’s no margin for error for three of them.  Two of the remaining three are only one win from coming in, which means that the Jazz are the only team that will definitely still be alive after their next game…and the Heat come in to actually make me money!  $5292 and counting…

And now the Cavaliers have come in to give me $5628 with only the Jazz left to decide on the final day of the season.  And the Jazz?  Well, the Kings lost big to the Rockets earlier in the day, meaning that the Jazz game was meaningless, so they just let Kobe score 60 on them and took the under.

Which means that I came out at $6090 on my $5115 wager – a 19% return on investment!  Wow.  I got 19/30 picks right.  The funny thing is that I would have made $6184.50 had I bet the same amount on every team!   The mean confidence rank of the calls I missed was 15.1, while the mean rank of the ones I got was 15.7.  So I’m good enough to beat the oddsmakers, but not myself.

You know what has five installments?  My NBA draft grades and the Die Hard franchise.  And I didn’t pick Die Hard at random out of a hat – I’m going to be bringing the pain like John McClane, folks!

Well, maybe.  I’ll try.  The problem is that although tonight (Draft Grade Write-up Night!) is my favorite drinking night of the year, I got notice this morning that my “friend” (scare quotes to shame him) needs a ride to the airport tomorrow morning.  So I’ve got to take it a bit easy on the brew (Sudwerk Mai Bock, as always) lest I feel more like puking than driving him around 12 hours from now.

Just like always, and unlike the pansies who normally do draft grades, sitting around giving the same damn grade to everybody (oh, that’s an “A”, and that’s an “A”…) I’m going to grade the fricking thing on a hard, hard curve.  30 teams, that means 6 As, 6 Bs, 6 Cs, 6 Ds, and 6 Fs.  Two plusses and two minuses for each grade except F, because what asshole gives out an F+?  YOU FAILED.  NO CONSOLATION PLUS FOR YOU.  And rather than rip apart a team for having only second round picks, I’m going to grade based on what the team had going into the draft, and what they had going out of it.  Of course, any trades that happen to go down between the end of the NBA season and the draft will also be graded here, since they may as well have happened the day of.  So it’s draft grades with a side of pre-free-agency transactions.  Get it?  Got it?  Good.  Here goes.

The Grades:

Denver Nuggets

Grade: A+

Assets Coming In: #7, #57

Assets At The End Of The Day: Emmanuel Mudiay, Nikola Radicevic

Obligatory Commentary: So the Nuggets drafted a Wooden Nikola.  Whatever.  They may have lucked into it, but they also had a consensus top-4 (and #1 overall PG coming into the season) player drop into their laps, and unlike the Kings they didn’t hesitate to take him.  With Tywon Lawson facing DUI charges and having other domestic violence charges in his past (and don’t forget the Hookah-fueled Draft Day video), the Nuggets could damn well use a replacement at PG.  They got one – and a good one.  Think Tyreke Evans, an inch shorter but way more athletic and with an outside shot that, while it needs work, is far better than the one sported by the former Memphis star.  I really believe that when we look back on this draft in ten years, we’ll look at Mudiay as the biggest steal.  He may not be better than Russell, but there are going to be a couple of teams regretting that they let him fall to #7.

Houston Rockets

Grade: A+

Assets Coming In: #18, #32

Assets At The End Of The Day: Sam Dekker, Montrezl Harrell

Obligatory Commentary: You gotta hand it to Daryl Morey.  He went out and straight up grabbed the BPA with both of his picks this year, and in both cases it was a guy who had fallen several spots (Dekker on the order of 5, Montrezl on the order of 10) lower than he should have fallen.  Montrezl is flawed – the Faried comparison is apt, though I think he’s got a bit of height on the Moreland State overachiever.  Dekker is actually going to be a very good player.  Think Ryan Anderson with more athleticism.  He’s not going to transform your franchise, but there are going to be about (quick count) nine teams that passed on Dekker that are going to regret it (yes, Knicks, even though Dekker would have been a reach at #4, in five years you’ll have to admit that Dekker would have been a better move).  So Morey wins.  Again.  Bastard.

Utah Jazz

Grade: A

Assets Coming In: #12, #42, #54

Assets At The End Of The Day: Trey Lyles, Olivier Hanlan, cash

Obligatory Commentary: Second-round picks be damned, this is about the first rounder.  And the Jazz were the team who saw what I saw – that Trey Lyles was criminally underrated.  Some of this probably came from the fact that the Kentucky Wildcats were forced to play him out of position at SF due to circumstances like Willie Cauley-Stein’s ankle injury that…well, for the Jazz writeup, let’s just call it fortuitous.  Lyles is a PF, no ifs, ands, or buts about it.  He’s got the size, he’s got the strength, and maybe someday he’ll have the jumper to be a true stretch-four threat.  Even if he doesn’t get there, he’ll be a very good traditional PF.  He won’t be a killer defender, and he won’t be a brutal rebounder, but he can play in the post, and he can hit a mid-range jumper, and he’s essentially LaMarcus Aldridge the second.  I know some people whose opinions I respect highly who do not like this comparison, but I do.  Utah is rumored to have put Favors on the trade block, and with Lyles in the fold, that’s not necessarily a bad call.

Miami Heat

Grade: A

Assets Coming In: #10, #40

Assets At The End Of The Day: Justise Winslow, Josh Richardson

Obligatory Commentary: With a name like “Josh Richardson”, you have to be really good for people to know who you are.  I don’t know who this guy is.  But – the Heat grabbed one of the big time sliders in the draft with Justise Winslow at #10.  I don’t love Winslow – I don’t have him in my top five or anything – but he’s great value at #10 and ought to outperform his nearest comp (the latest “I think I’m the best guy in the draft even though I went all the way down at #8” Stanley Johnson) and even though he can’t hit shoot from inside the arc he’s going to play some decent D and he’s a good enough athlete to run the floor.  Plus he’s got that scar on the left side of his face/neck that lets you know that he’s a total badass because you don’t get a scar like that unless you’re in a knife fight.  You should see the other guy!  Anyway, great value at the pick.  Thanks, Jordan!

Memphis Grizzlies

Grade: A-

Assets Coming In: #25, Luke Ridnour, Jon Leuer, Draft rights to Janis Timma

Assets At The End Of The Day: Matt Barnes, Jarell Martin, Andrew Harrison

Obligatory Commentary: I’m not so hot on the draft here.  Martin is OK, but anybody thinking he’s going to be a Zach Randolph V.2 is going to have to check their change.  But getting Matt Barnes, the ultimate hustle player, for less than nothing (by that, I mean Luke Ridnour, who has had a negative VORP in the last two seasons) is an absolute coup.  And I think that Andrew Harrison has been WAY underrated.  Yeah, I know, the kid was originally projected as like a top-five pick out of high school and he just wasn’t that good, but the backlash that pushed him into the second round made him into a steal.  Conley ain’t going anywhere, but Harrison can play some backup minutes without being too terribly much of a step down.  For Jon Leuer?  That’s a bargain.

Golden State Warriors

Grade: A-

Assets Coming In: #30

Assets At The End Of The Day: Kevon Looney

Obligatory Commentary: I’m pretty high on this pick.  Looney becomes the second consecutive UCLA Bruin to have been taken at the #30 pick when their draft stock has been quite a bit higher than that.  Kyle Anderson fell because he’s a weird fit.  Looney fell because of questions about the health of his hip and the fact that he’s not really ready to play in the NBA.  Kevon is a fantastic rebounder, a kid who has a knack to tip rebounds that are completely out of his area up into the air and put them up for grabs – and with his wingspan he often comes down with them.  But for all that, he’s still quite a bit skinny and – on top of that – he hasn’t refined his offensive game at all.  But at #30?  That’s what the court system would call criminal larceny, folks.  Looney can play.  There are question marks, but at #30, this is a no-lose pick.

Minnesota Timberwolves

Grade: B+

Assets Coming In: #1, #31, #36

Assets At The End Of The Day: Karl-Anthony Towns, Tyus Jones

Obligatory Commentary: Keeping with my tradition, I can’t give the Wolves credit for picking the consensus #1 player in the draft at #1 overall.  You’re supposed to do that.  Jones, on the other hand, was a pretty good pick.  I think he got a bit shafted in the mocks all year long.  While he’s not going to be a superstar, he’s a steady PG who is going to ride that boundary between a bottom five starter and a top five backup in the NBA.  And the Wolves finagled him out of the Cavs for a couple of second-rounders.  That’s a pretty good haul.  Minnesota, a grade in the high B’s?  I’m getting wistfully sad here.  Nostalgic, even.  Where have you gone, David Kahn-io?  A nation turns its snarky eyes to you!

Los Angeles Lakers

Grade: B+

Assets Coming In: #2, #27, #34

Assets At The End Of The Day: D’Angelo Russell, Larry Nance Jr., Anthony Brown

Obligatory Commentary: The Lakers made a pretty polyorchid pick here at #2 by passing up Jahlil Okafor to take D’Angelo Russell, but in my opinion it was the right move.  Russell is a hell of a PG, and he might end up being the next superstar.  Never mind that Russell may eventually end up getting shipped to Sacramento for DeMarcus Cousins – taking him over Okafor was both ballsy and correct.  That said, the rest of the Lakers’ draft was pretty much ass.  The beauty is that with the #27 the Lakers totally wasted their pick on the son of a former NBA player who not only has zero chance of making their team, but who also had to immediately get onto Twitter and delete a years-old tweet where he called out Kobe for being a rapist.  Beautiful.  They deserve no less.

Toronto Raptors

Grade: B

Assets Coming In: #20, Greivis Vasquez

Assets At The End Of The Day: Delon Wright, Norman Powell, 2017 first round pick (15-30, MIL)

Obligatory Commentary: On balance here, the Raptors traded away the #20 and Greivis Vasquez (who almost certainly immediately gave an interview to the Wisconsin press about how much he absolutely loves Milwaukee) to get Delon Wright (kind of a younger version of Greivis Vasquez) and Norman Powell and a protected first.  You know, on balance, that’s pretty good.  Powell is a kid who is going to open some eyes, in my opinion.  Super athletic, plays harder than any kid you’ll ever see.  He needs to constantly work on his shot to keep it falling, but he can get to the rack and dunk like few 6’4″ guards.  And he’s a terrific defender on top of that.  For all the teams that just blew off second round picks this year, the Raptors really made the most of the one they acquired.

Orlando Magic

Grade: B

Assets Coming In: #5, #51, Luke Ridnour’s unguaranteed contract

Assets At The End Of The Day: Mario Hezonja, Tyler Harvey, draft rights to Janis Timma

Obligatory Commentary: You know, this is a pretty good draft. Tyler Harvey might actually be OK – he could get some highlights at the summer league and maybe even crack the roster, which ain’t bad for #51.  And Hezonja can shoot all day long and still take your mom to the club after dark.  Kid’s got the swagger to be a legit NBA player, and he’s got the size to be a swingman and play wherever the Magic need him.  The only weird thing here is the … wait a fucking second here, Brandon Belt is playing center field for the Giants?  What.  The.  Flying.  Nun?  Anyway, the only weird thing here is that the Magic traded away the eminently cuttable unguaranteed contract of Luke Ridnour for a piece of paper that says they’ll never write a check to some dude named Janis Timma.  Hey, Captain Smith, where’d you say you wanted those deck chairs?

Sacramento Kings

Grade: B-

Assets Coming In: #6, an immense shitstorm of DeMarcus Cousins/George Karl rumors

Assets At The End Of The Day: Willie Cauley-Stein, a veritable shitsunami of DeMarcus Cousins/George Karl rumors

Obligatory Commentary: The Kings had what was certainly the worst lead-in to the draft of any team in the NBA.  Agent and total fucking asshole (is that redundant?) Dan Fegan went loco on the media trying to drop stories that would get DeMarcus Cousins traded to the Lakers.  The bullshit was strong in this one, Paduwan.  At any rate, the Kings were fortunate enough to have brought in Jedi Master Vlade Divac to curate the franchise, and he wasn’t about to bow to agent pressure to make a deal.  Cousins (for now) stays in Sacramento, and the Kings picked up WCS to play next to him. I would argue that Emmanuel Mudiay would have been a better selection – he has the star potential that WCS does not – but Cauley-Stein is a can’t-miss kid.  He’s bound to be an All-NBA defender before too long, and he’ll immediately improve the Kings’ defense, which was their true Achilles’ Hell on the season.  Unfortunately, he’s not likely to change the Kings’ 3P% against, and unless stories about his improving jumper are true, he’s never going to contribute much on offense.  Still, Mudiay was there.  And while the Kings have Cousins for now, there’s no particular guarantee that they’re going to be able to hold on to him, and WCS works far worse without a guy like Cousins than he does with him.

Milwaukee Bucks

Grade: B-

Assets Coming In: #17, #46, Ersan Ilyasova, 2017 first round pick (15-30)

Assets At The End Of The Day: Rashad Vaughn, Greivis Vasquez, Caron Butler, Shawne Williams

Obligatory Commentary: I actually like the Vaughn pick.  He’s a great shooter and I think he’s going to stick as a bench guy to put up a decent career.  Given that the Bucks don’t have much in the way of shooting guards outside of Mayo (Middleton is not only an RFA but pretty much a SF) Vaughn fills a need, and as much as the mock drafts were down on him, he’s far better than they pegged him as in my opinion.  Kid can shoot, and he’s got enough sac to know it.  Vasquez, on the other hand…I don’t get.  I mean, if you just traded for MCW, why go and trade for the exact same player with way worse defense?  What does Caron Butler do here with all of the SF minutes going to Antetokounmpo?  What does Shawne Williams do for this team?  Man, the Bucks ought to be happy that I love Rashad Vaughn, because otherwise, I don’t get what they’re doing.

New Orleans Pelicans

Grade: C+

Assets Coming In: #56

Assets At The End Of The Day: Cash

Obligatory Commentary: Hey, at least I’ve heard of him.  With the #56 pick, that’s a win.

Detroit Pistons

Grade: C+

Assets Coming In: #8, #38, Caron Butler, Shawne Williams

Assets At The End Of The Day: Stanley Johnson, Ersan Ilyasova, Darrun Hilliard

Obligatory Commentary: You know, I don’t hate Stanley Johnson, I just don’t really like him. I think Justice Winslow is the better player, not “clearly” but by a small margin.  Johnson has a bit of “it factor” but he’s also got a lot to put together.  So it was, in my eyes, a bit of a wasted pick.  But considering that Monroe is almost certainly flying the coop this offseason, grabbing up Ilyasova for basically nothing is a decent move.  Stanley Johnson may be the beginning of the end of the most exquisitely hyphenated name in the NBA, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.  But that’s not really a big loss, except to juvenile people on the internet that like to make fun of people’s names.  Nobody like that around here, right?

Oklahoma City Thunder

Grade: C

Assets Coming In: #14, #48, Jeremy Lamb

Assets At The End Of The Day: Cameron Payne, Dakari Johnson, Luke Ridnour, 2016 second round pick (CHA)

Obligatory Commentary: I’m not really sure what the Thunder were doing here.  I guess that if you’re that stacked, you take the player you feel is BPA even if he’s going to ride the pine behind Russell Westbrook and never get a chance to make enough money to fix his fucked-up teeth.  Orthodontists are golddiggin’ ass bitches, yo.  But I’m not sure there was an absolute better pick – outside of Dekker, Payne was probably the best bet at this point in the draft.  Other than that, the Thunder essentially shuffled some pieces to get Dakari “Stool” Johnson, who isn’t going to stick.  Is he better than Jeremy Lamb?  I don’t know.  I mean, would you rather have syphilis or gonorrhea?

Dallas Mavericks

Grade: C

Assets Coming In: #21, #52

Assets At The End Of The Day: Justin Anderson, Satnam Singh Bhamara

Obligatory Commentary: I wish I could say more about Justin Anderson, but he broke his hand before I got a chance to check him out.  Is he any good?  I don’t know.  At #21, RHJ might be a better pick but I can’t remotely kill the Mavs for taking him.  The one thing they did do is pick up the first Indian player ever drafted in Singh (don’t know where the “Bhamara” came from) though given that Vivek Ranadivé didn’t bother to get a second round pick to grab this kid, I don’t know if that really helps the case.  I mean, Vivek took the overweight Sim Bhullar under his wing in a cynical attempt to court the Subcontinental market – if he isn’t going for Singh, what does that say?  Did Dallas get better here?  Probably not.  But maybe they just didn’t fuck shit up, and that counts for something.

Phoenix Suns

Grade: C-

Assets Coming In: #13, #44, Two felony assault charges

Assets At The End Of The Day: Devin Booker, Jon Leuer, and yep, still two felony assault charges

Obligatory Commentary: I’m killing the Suns for the Morris twins’ felony assault charges (they were apparently upset about some dude texting their mom, which just about makes every grade-school taunt I’ve ever heard worth it), but it’s on me to remember that there’s a draft here, as well.  We’re basically looking at #13 for Devin Booker.  I don’t love it.  Payne is there (OK, Phoenix hasn’t had the best luck with PGs lately), Dekker is there, and local collegian RHJ is there.  Booker can shoot, and basically nothing else.  So he’s J.J. Redick, without the [redacted] questions and a bit more melanin.  After four Mai Bocks (one more than I promised myself I’d drink) I can’t bring myself to give a shit.

Atlanta Hawks

Grade: C-

Assets Coming In: #15, #50, #59

Assets At The End Of The Day: Tim Hardaway Jr., Marcus Eriksson, Dimitrios Agravanis, two future second round picks (WAS)

Obligatory Commentary: If nothing else we can make the point that the Hawks drafted a Greek guy named after a character from Le Morte D’Arthur, which reminds me of a joke: What’s red and green and goes 100 miles per hour?  A frog in a (cultural) blender!  Like most teams, the Hawks second-rounded their second-round picks this year (they drafted a Swede?!?), and they spent their first rounder on a bit of a more known quantity in Muppet Baby Tim Hardaway.  The draft had maybe begun to peter out of guaranteed value at that point, but then again, Hardaway isn’t exactly tearing up the league.  “The crappy player you know” shouldn’t apply in a draft this deep.  Take a risk, dammit!

Philadelphia 76ers

Grade: D+

Assets Coming In: #3, #35, #37, #47, #58, #60

Assets At The End Of The Day: Jahlil Okafor, J.P. Tokoto, Richaun Holmes, Arturas Gudaitis, Luka Mitrovic, two MORE future second round picks

Obligatory Commentary: So much 76ers.  They came into this draft knowing, just absolutely knowing that they had to take a PG.  They traded away MCW specifically because they were convinced they’d get their high-school crush D’Angelo Russell in the draft.  Well, the Lakers fucked that all up to hell, and somehow instead of taking Emmanuel Mudiay so they’d, you know, actually have a PG they decided to get yet another frontline player.  The only thing that salvages this at all is that it’s beginning to look like Joel Embiid may still be injured (great pick, Hinkie!) making consolation-prize Okafor at least marginally useful.  I mean, I like Okafor.  He’s going to be great in the post, and he can actually run the pick and roll, a skill that is declining in college these days, but as a defender he’s just too slow and groundbound to dominate anybody not named Frank Kaminsky.  Anyway, look for Philly to be forced – in a best case scenario – to sign Rondo in the offseason just so somebody can man the point.  Outside of their lottery first rounder, Philly had FIVE second round picks this year.  That means it’s time to sell, sell, sell!  Did they?  Umm, no.  They traded one (for two MORE second round picks, like that’s going to help) but they ended up having to pick for the other four.  On the bright side, they drafted a dude whose last name sounds like he’s got an inflammation of his Dutch cheese, so that’s fun.  Also, they took a decent player in Tokoto, though they took him later than a couple of other random dudes.  Again, like so many other teams they totally second-rounded those second-rounders.  With how badly they wasted their second round picks, why does the NBA let them collect any more?  I mean, we’ve already got a Stepien Rule, can we get a Hinkie Rule?

Brooklyn Nets

Grade: D+

Assets Coming In: #29, #41, Mason Plumlee, two future second round picks, cash

Assets At The End Of The Day: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Chris McCullough, Steve Blake, Juan Pablo Vaulet

Obligatory Commentary: You can say this for the Nets: It only cost them two future second round picks and cash to get Juan Pablo Montoya’s valet.  I really don’t know what to think about McCullough, because I never got a chance to watch him play before he got injured, and I like RHJ while acknowledging that he’s a defensive specialist.  So the incoming players aren’t too bad.  But the Nets traded Mason Plumlee to get RHJ, and given their previous stance (“We love Mason so much we’ll never trade him!  You’d have to take Deron Williams’ dumbass contract to get him out of us.  He was on Team USA!”) trading him for RHJ is this not-so-quiet admission that Billy King is full of shit and the entire league knows it.  Frankly, I think the Nets are better than they were going into the draft, but that comes at the cost of everybody pointing and laughing at Billy Emperor because he ain’t wearing any clothes.  Oh, and he’s still got to deal with Williams’ and Johnson’s contracts.  And he’s pretty much forced to resign Brook “I can’t be bothered to rebound” Lopez to a max deal.  The roster may be slightly better than it was coming into the draft, but the Oster will be splattered with fecal matter before too long.

Washington Wizards

Grade: D

Assets Coming In: #19, #49, two future second round picks

Assets At The End Of The Day: Kelly Oubré, Aaron White

Obligatory Commentary: The Wizards came in with the #19 pick and a bunch of second rounders and came out with a hit-or-miss frosh SG prospect.  Let me be the first to say that I’m not a big fan of Oubré – I think he’s a nearly certain bust – but he’s a decent risk at #19.  The problem is that he wasn’t taken with #19, he was taken with #15 (after the trade) with Sam Dekker on the board.  Dekker will most likely be five times the player Oubré will, so that’s kind of like locking the call girl out of the hotel room.  You make the transaction, you gotta get the most out of it.  Also, I would like to point out that Kelly Oubré is technically a “Jr.”, but seeing as most people only know his dad as “Some Random Dude Who Is About To Get A Nicer House”, it’s not really worth the effort to type it.  Also, I would like to point out that Oubré wore the dumbassiest spiky shoes to the draft that have ever been seen.  They looked like rims out of Mad Max.  That alone is going to bust the Wizards’ grade down.  Sorry, Wiz!  Next time, don’t draft a kid wearing dumbass fucking shoes!

Chicago Bulls

Grade: D

Assets Coming In: #22

Assets At The End Of The Day: Bobby Portis

Obligatory Commentary: Eh.  Bobby Portis isn’t terribly likely to crack the Bulls’ rotation soon.  I mean, you’re talking Pau, Noah, Taj, and Mirotic here.  He might have been something resembling BPA but he’s skinny and whether or not he makes the leap is up for argument.  I think Rondae is a better pick for the Bulls here, I think Tyus Jones is a better pick (I mean, Rose is going to get hurt again, right?) but so it goes.  Portis gets to ride the bench for a few years while the Bulls figure it out, and maybe by then he’ll get schooled enough in practice that he’ll figure the whole thing out.  Until then, this is a waste of a pick.

Boston Celtics

Grade: D-

Assets Coming In: #16, #28, #33, #45

Assets At The End Of The Day: Terry Rozier, R.J. Hunter, Jordan Mickey, Marcus Thornton

Obligatory Commentary: I want to kill the Celtics for taking Terry Rozier.  First off, why so many PGs? You’ve got Marcus Smart, you’ve got Isaiah Thomas…when the hell are you going to play Terry Rozier?  And that’s your #16 pick!  Also, Terry Rozier sucks.  Like I wouldn’t have taken him in the second round sucks.  You know, in some ways, the failed desperation attempt to send every draft pick you’ve ever owned to the Hornets for the #9 makes this pick almost palatable.  Ainge can’t possibly have believed in his wildest dreams that Jordan would turn that down, and this looks like he was just eminently unprepared to make a pick at #16, then just looked up Chad Ford’s draft board to see who he ought to take when he got rejected Josephine The Plumber style.  But there’s a bit of redemption here, and that’s in the form of (Wonder Twins Power…ACTIVATE!) R.J. Hunter, who has a chance to be the next Kevin Martin, and Jordan Mickey who at least ought to be able to contribute off the bench with a super late first and an early second.  I guarandamntee that Hunter will play more NBA minutes than Rozier, and Mickey probably will too.  So what kind of grade do you get when you fuck up your top pick and then make a couple of redeemers later on?

San Antonio Spurs

Grade: D-

Assets Coming In: #26, #55

Assets At The End Of The Day: Nikola Milutinov, Cady Lalanne

Obligatory Commentary: Look.  Not only has Billy Pilgrim come unstuck in time, but R.C. Buford has gotten stuck in the past in his place.  Let’s face it, while the Spurs once had this amazing history of taking bad picks and Midasing them into gold, we need to acknowledge that Buford hasn’t made an amazing pick since 2001, when he took Parker at #28.  There’s this argument for Kawhi Leonard, but people knew who he was.  He was projected to go in the #7 range but dropped, and the fact that the Pacers weren’t smart enough to realize that George Hill wasn’t nearly as valuable as Leonard isn’t exactly a point in favor of Buford.  I mean, Kings fans (not the F.O. at the time, but fans) knew that Leonard was the guy.  So…Milutinov?  Milutinov comes from a Slavic root meaning “not coming over to the NBA any damn time soon”.  So temper those expectations.  And the second round pick…is he a relative of SoCal Gym Magante Jack LaLanne?  Because if not, he ain’t got shit.  At least Jack was in commercials, being all buff and toned or whatever.  I can pretty much guarantee that some random old wiry dude with a spray-on tan is going to have more impact on my life than Cady Lalanne.  I’ve been edgily down on the Spurs drafting on the whole for a while.  This year is no exception.

Los Angeles Clippers

Grade: F

Assets Coming In: No draft picks, Spencer Hawes, Matt Barnes, cash

Assets At The End Of The Day: Lance Stephenson, Branden Dawson

Obligatory Commentary: It’s so hard to grade this “draft”.  The Clippers had no picks, but they sent away a douchebag Sacramento native who is at least a great hustle player and a douchebag Seattle native who turned coat on his own franchise to favor moving them to the Pacific Northwest, for a douchebag who (allegedly) shoved his girlfriend down the stairs then grabbed her head and started slamming it on the steps.  HOW DO YOU GRADE THIS?  Even with the whole domestic violence thing, I’d probably have to be a bit nicer to the Clips if they were trading for the Indiana version of Stephenson.  But they’re not, they’re trading for the Charlotte version, and he’s terrible.  Is there anything redeeming for the Clippers on the day?  Well, they got Branden Dawson for cash – that’s not terrible, right?  I hate to say it, but this draft (day) is exactly the sort of draft (day) that a formerly-owned-by-Donald-Sterling franchise deserves.  I don’t deserve it.  I’m a good guy, I never did anything to deserve this crap.  But Sterling?  I figure he probably has a lot of karma coming back to him.  Sorry, Paul Allen.  You were the dude who bought a franchise that was constructed over an ancient Indian burial ground.

Portland Trailblazers

Grade: F

Assets Coming In: #23, Nicolas Batum, Steve Blake, cash

Assets At The End Of The Day: Noah Vonleh, Mason Plumlee, Gerald Henderson, Pat Connaughton, Daniel Diez

Obligatory Commentary: The funny thing is that when I look at what the Blazers came away with on draft day, I feel like they did a pretty good job.  Then I look at what they gave up.  Nicolas Batum.  Nicolas Batum?!?  I mean, he’s no superstar, but he’s a totally middle-of-the-pack SF, and the Blazers, faced with losing Aldridge to free agency, panicked and sent him away to get Vonleh and Plumlee?  It’s going to be a long year in Portland, and not even Lillard can rescue them from this mess.  It’s a rebuild at this point.  And Vonleh and Plumlee aren’t going to count for this rebuild in the end.  On top of that, the Blazers apparently decided that they needed Notre Dame product Pat Connaughton.  Dude totally cheated on his vertical by slouching 3.5 inches on his standing reach (relative to the recent measurement at Portsmouth).  Either that or he’s got sudden-onset scoliosis.  Either way, how do you draft that?  Did he confess this sin to his priest?  How many Hail Marys was it worth?  He had a hell of a tournament, no doubt, and a (true) vertical in the 40″ range is killer, but if he’s going to cheat to get 3.5 inches, can you really count on Con-Naughty-Ton?

Indiana Pacers

Grade: F

Assets Coming In: #11, #43

Assets At The End Of The Day: Myles Turner, Joseph Young

Obligatory Commentary: I can kind of get behind the Joe Young pick.  I actually think that Norman Powell is the better player in the same mold (he went a few picks later) but Young has a chance to stick as a bench guy.  But Myles Turner?  He has shown the world just about this much more than nothing.  He barely averaged 22 minutes playing for a Texas team that wasn’t even really very good.  You could call that Rick Barnes’ fault (he did get his ass canned, so there’s that) but Turner is just not the guy you want in the post.  He’s got a funny running motion that seems to predict future injury trouble, and he never proved he was actually very good at anything.  Turner is going to bust and Trey Lyles one pick later is going to look really bad for Indiana.

Cleveland Cavaliers

Grade: F

Assets Coming In: #24, #53

Assets At The End Of The Day: Cedi Osman, Rakeem Christmas, Sir’Dominic Pointer

Obligatory Commentary: If I had an English Pointer, I would definitely name him Sir’Dominic.  Outside of that, I have no idea what the fuck the Cavaliers were doing here.  I mean, doesn’t Mr. Comic Sans remember how the last time he completely fucking failed to surround LeBron with good players LeBron fucking left?  Well, LeBron is back, you’ve got a #24 pick, and fuck all you just throw it away to pick some second round guys with awesome names who will never, ever play for your team?  Don’t you think maybe R.J. Hunter would have been useful, especially with J.R. Smith opting out?  Take a chance on Kevon Looney?  No.  No, you’re just going to throw your picks away as Kevin Love opts out of his contract too and LeBron is possibly facing next year playing next to Kyrie and nobody.  Good job.

New York Knicks

Grade: F

Assets Coming In: #4, Tim Hardaway Jr., two future second round picks

Assets At The End Of The Day: Kristaps Porzingis, Jerian Grant, Guillermo Hernangomez

Obligatory Commentary: I hate to kill the Knicks after Screamin’ A killed them, just on the general principle of not thinking the same thing as Screamin’ A. Still…Porzingis?  Let me tell a little story about Porzingis.  OK, it’s not really a story.  But did you see that picture of him next to Fran Fraschilla?  I mean, Fran may not exactly be a bodybuilder, but he ain’t a fatty.  And his forearms are about the same diameter as Porzingis’ thighs.  This does not bode well for this year’s “Next Dirk”.  Yeah, the kid can shoot it a bit and he’s 7’1″ and he looks really good in a one-on-none workout because he can dunk and he’s fluid and shit.  (Heh, I said “Fluid shit”.)  Well, guess what?  He’s 7’1″!  If he can’t dunk, who can?!?  And yeah, he doesn’t run awkwardly despite his height because he weighs about as much as your average resident of Kaiserwald. Porzingis is going to get his ass (what there is of it) pushed around on the court until he Manna From Heavens his way back to Europe.  Bank on it.  That’s what Phil Jackson spent his #4 pick on.  It’s a sad story because when the Lakers went for Russell, you just know that ZenMaster Phil was thinking that Okafor was going to fall to him at #4.  He thought he’d hit the jackpot.  And then Philly went and fucked it all up for him.  Ummmm….lemme take the Machinist!  Lost in all this is the fact that somehow the Knicks landed Jerian “Flies like a goddamn eagle” Grant for Tim Hardaway Jr.  NBA bloodline for NBA bloodline, but at least that keeps them out of the bottom slot.

Charlotte Hornets

Grade: F

Assets Coming In: #9, #39, Lance Stephenson, Noah Vonleh, Gerald Henderson, 2016 second round pick

Assets At The End Of The Day: Frank Kaminsky, Nicolas Batum, Spencer Hawes, Jeremy Lamb, two conditional future second round picks (BRK), cash

Obligatory Commentary: There’s a lot to talk about here. The Hornets look to be completely overhauling their roster.  And they got rid of one of the worst free-agent signings in the past few years and one of the worst draft picks in the past few years (both in the same offseason – if I could be like Mike!) and picked up a pretty good SF in the process.  Sorry, MKG!  And that’s good, that’s very good.  (Even if they did pick up proponent-of-moving-his-former-team-to-Seattle Hawes.)  But then there’s the whole thing with the #9 pick.  The report out today says that the Celtics were so hellbent on getting Justice Winslow that they offered FOUR first round picks (including the #16 in this draft and a super-valuable future unprotected Nets pick) for the #9.  But Jordan turned Ainge down on a desperation deal…because he absolutely NEEDED Frank Kaminsky?  I mean, I like Kaminsky a bit, but he’s too slow and unathletic to not get eaten the fuck alive in the NBA.  So congrats, Jordan, you turned down four draft picks to foolishly grab after a guy who’s going to spend his career getting eaten the fuck alive.   But hey, people buy your shoes, so there’s that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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