Draft 2016

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.)