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.