The 2014 NBA Draft is in the books, and though some trades are still being processed, I have a good idea which teams seemed to do really well with their picks and those who made some real head-scratchers. The good news is that the amount of talent overall in this draft was tremendous and a lot of good players didn’t even hear their name called. The bad news is some teams probably could have gotten better value from some of their picks. Here are my early Winners and Losers from tonight:
It’s nice to put Cleveland in this category after their past few drafts, but they did the right thing and took Andrew Wiggins with the first pick. Not only will Wiggins be able to help immediately, but he still has a lot of untapped potential that could help carry the team for a long time. The Cavaliers did very well in the second round also with Virginia guard Joe Harris at number 33. A strong shooter and perimeter defender, he could become a valuable role player off the bench.
The selection of Jabari Parker was easy for them at number 2, but the Bucks did a very good job with their second round picks. Parker adds an instant scoring boost for a team that really needed it. Damien Inglis is a long-term project who shows promise but will stay overseas. At number 36, the Bucks added another long forward, Johnny O’Bryant, who will also add some scoring off the bench. At number 48, the Bucks got Pittsburgh guard Lamar Patterson, who is a jack-of-all-trades who can add some tough defense and some shooting to the backcourt.
The addition of Marcus Smart helps the Celtics both immediately and long-term. Likely the heir apparent at the point guard position, Smart can also slide over to the 2 and play next to Rajon Rondo next year. James Young was a good pick at number 17. He is probably a year or two away from contributing, but he can add some good scoring ability on the wing.
Have to give Sixers' GM Sam Hinkie credit for sticking to the long-term plan. Joel Embiid can be a tremendous pick at number 3, and with the return of Nerlens Noel this year, there is no need to rush Embiid before he is ready. Dario Saric is in Europe for two more years, but he is a skilled offensive player who could make those around him better. KJ McDaniels is a first-round talent who Philadelphia got in the second round, and Jerami Grant is long and athletic, but needs to develop a bit on offense.
The Nuggets turned the number 11 pick into numbers 16 and 19, and came away with one very good player and another potentially very good player. I considered Gary Harris one of the top two shooting guards in this draft and the Nuggets got him at 19. At 16, the Nuggets took Serbian big man Jusuf Nurkic, who has great size, but needs to stay in Europe to continue to develop his game.
Kyle Anderson with the last pick of the first round? Of course the Spurs jumped all over that. Tremendous vision and skill, Anderson may not be the most athletic player, but he will fit in the Spurs’ system seamlessly.
Phil Jackson’s first draft heading the Knicks worked out pretty well considering they only secured a pair of second-round picks a few days before the draft. Cleanthony Early at 34 is a tremendous value and there is little doubt that he can contribute immediately on both sides of the ball. Some seem to really like their number 51 pick, Thanasis Antetokounmpo, who was merely an average D-League player this past year. He will bolster the new Westchester Knicks D-League team though.
The best moment of the night came between the 15th and 16th picks when the NBA “selected” Isaiah Austin from Baylor, who found out this week that his basketball career is over due to Marfan syndrome. Really, a great gesture by the league.
This is tough to do, because I love the pick of Elfrid Payton through a trade with Philadelphia, but I don’t understand taking Aaron Gordon at number 4. He’s athletic and competitive, but his offensive skill level lags way behind others in this draft, and I see him as purely a role player.
Realistically, this would be any team that picked Zach LaVine in the lottery, but the Timberwolves did it, so here were are. You already took an under-skilled player from UCLA last year in Shabazz Muhammad, and LaVine may be even further off in terms of being NBA ready. There is a really good chance his rookie deal ends before he is even a legitimate NBA role player. Glenn Robinson III was a solid second-round pick, but it doesn’t make up for another poor lottery choice.
Bruno Caboclo? Somehow he is considered the “Brazilian Kevin Durant” while averaging about 4 points per game down there. I guess a long wingspan is all you need these days to get picked. The second round was slightly better with DeAndre Daniels and Xavier Thames, but no one will forget the Bruno pick for a long time.
I do admire that Oklahoma City isn’t afraid to go after specific targets to fill their needs, but I’m not sure they value their picks well. They could have certainly traded down for either of their first round picks, Mitch McGary at number 21 and Josh Heustis, thought by many to be a mid to late second round pick, at number 29.