A few years ago (2016, to be exact), I did a Draft Grades column for this here website and very promptly got an interview request from a Sacramento radio station.
The reason? They wanted to know why I gave some semblance of a decent grade to the Kings (if I recall, it was around a C-) for their 2016 draft, which looked like this:
*Draft Marquese Chriss at No. 8 overall;
*Trade him to Phoenix for the No. 13 pick (Georgios Papagiannis), the No. 28 pick (Skal Labissiere), a future 2nd rounder and the draft rights to Bogdan Bogdanovic.
In hindsight, that doesn’t look horrible, especially when you consider that Bogdanovic is good enough to now be one of the key pieces the Bucks are trying to bring in to make/keep Giannis Antetokounmpo happy. However, the day after the Draft in 2016, I’m pretty sure I had more than a couple nice things to say about Papagiannis, who has played a total of 39 NBA games (4.1 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 0.6 bpg) and is now back plying his trade in Greece.
In other words, Sacramento sports radio wanted to talk to me because they thought I was out of my mind for giving the Kings anything close to a passing grade.
This is all my long-winded way of saying I probably grade too nicely. And with that in mind, here is the team-by-team breakdown — in alphabetical order — of how your team did on draft night, with fantasy impact included where it applies.
Grade for this intro: B-.
(Disclaimer: Given the volume of transactions that happened last night, I’d say there’s about an 81 percent chance that I overlook something spectacularly. Apologies in advance if I do/did that for your team.)
Fantasy Impact: Okongwu (16.2 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 1.2 spg, 2.7 bpg as a freshman at USC) could easily see minutes in the low-20’s backing up John Collins and Clint Capela, but it’s hard to imagine him making a fantasy impact early on. He’ll be a name to keep on your radar if there’s an injury in the ATL frontcourt, though Dewayne Dedmon’s presence further complicates that equation. (Update! Dedmon has been traded to Detroit. So that's one less obstacle for Okongwu.)
Grade: B+. I said I grade nicely, but I can’t just give out an A to my hometown team, especially when they’re first on the roll call. Okongwu, who has been compared by many to Bam Adebayo defensively, looks like a really strong addition for the Hawks, even if it ends up taking a little bit of time.
Fantasy Impact: Probably none this year.
Grade: A-. The Celtics added a ton of shooting and two very productive college players. Nesmith in particular shot 52.2 percent on 3s at Vanderbilt last season, and it sounds like he could have gone even earlier if not for a broken foot.
Fantasy Impact: Minimal. Shamet is a great real-life pickup for Brooklyn because of his outside shooting, but he only averaged 10.6 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 2.0 apg, 0.2 spg (and 2.5 3s) in 30 games as a starter last season, so we’re not looking at anything great even if Shamet is pressed into action.
Grade: B-. This is fine, and trades are appreciated, but do we have anything more spicy?
Yes we do.
Fantasy Impact: As noted in our most recent Rotoworld blurb, the Hornets do have a crowded backcourt with Devonte’ Graham and Terry Rozier, but you don’t draft LaMelo Ball third overall to do anything other than play him a lot. Ball’s size (6-7) also means he could easily share the court with Graham and Rozier in a guard-heavy lineup. As for a statistical blueprint, Ball averaged 17.0 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 6.8 apg, 1.6 spg and 1.7 3s (37.5 FG / 72.3 FT) in his 12 games in Australia last year. He’s likely to be a stat-stuffing percentage headache from day one, which is both fun and terribly annoying at the same time for fantasy purposes.
Fantasy Impact: Williams could be an Otto Porter injury away from serious playing time — and he may get it regardless given how high the Bulls took him — but there are reasons to wonder how productive he’ll be right away. And that leads me to…
Grade: Williams generated a lot of momentum leading up to the draft, and it’s never a bad thing when a team as savvy as the Spurs reportedly has interest, so I won’t rule out this pick as a potential home run. The reason I give it a lower grade is that I prefer players who actually put up numbers in college, because there’s a much clearer indication of how they could thrive in the NBA. With that in mind, Williams didn’t start a single game for FSU, averaging just 9.2 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 1.0 spg, 1.0 bpg and 0.6 3s (32.0 percent from long range) last season. He’s 19, so he could easily develop into a big-time player, but the Bulls passed on some already big-time college players to gamble on Williams’s upside. It could be great, it could be terrible, so we meet in the middle: a C.
What They Did: Drafted Auburn SF Isaac Okoro (No. 5).
Fantasy Impact: The big concern with Okoro is that he shot just 28.6 percent on 3s in college, and like Williams, he strikes me as an intriguing prospect who may take some time to become a fantasy contributor. As of now, I can’t imagine drafting him in anything other than a very deep league.
Grade: B. This pick neither thrills nor upsets me, though I would have preferred to see Cleveland bring in Obi Toppin.
Fantasy Impact: I want to say that Richardson going to Dallas is intriguing, but we were all excited about Delon Wright prior to last season and look where that got us. Ultimately, Richardson may be hard-pressed to even match last year’s numbers (13.7 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 2.9 apg, 0.9 spg, 0.7 bpg and 1.5 3s) with how much Luka Doncic dominates the offense.
Grade: C-. There may be a case to be made for Richardson over Curry, but personally I don’t love the idea of taking one of the most dangerous shooters in the league (Curry shot 45.2 percent on 3s last season) away from Luka and the Mavericks offense.
Fantasy Impact: Hard to imagine any this season given that Denver is a deep squad that hopes to contend.
Grade: B-. The Nuggets know what they're doing (see Michael Porter Jr. and Bol Bol), but it’s hard to imagine we’ll get much of a chance to evaluate either one of their most recent picks this upcoming season.
Fantasy Impact: At the moment, Hayes only has to contend with Derrick Rose for the PG role in Detroit, so he could be playing a lot sooner rather than later. In 10 EuroCup games for ratiopharm Ulm in Germany, Hayes (who is just 19 years old) posted 12.8 ppg, 6.2 apg, 1.5 spg and 1.6 3s. He’s been inconsistent as an outside shooter, but the left-hander has the size (he’s listed at 6-5) to be an intriguing fantasy point guard. Drafting rookie point guards in fantasy is risky due to percentage and turnover issues, but much crazier things have happened than Hayes putting up some notable stat lines at some point this season.
Grade: B. My brain is already scrambled from trying to keep track of names and destinations, and the Pistons did us no favors in that department. However, the Pistons do need some sort of point guard of the future, and they at least got a compelling prospect in Hayes.
GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS
Fantasy Impact: Putting the brutal news about Klay aside, Wiseman has landed in a potentially great spot to make at least a low-level fantasy impact right away, as he currently only has to compete with Marquese Chriss (sorry, Dr. A) and Kevon Looney for playing time. It’s easy to envision Mitchell Robinson-esque numbers from Wiseman as a rookie.
Grade: A-. The Warriors hopes of returning to prominence may have hit a crushing setback on Wednesday, but that has nothing to do with this draft pick. And even though we haven't seen a ton of Wiseman, it appears that there is a lot to like.
Aaaaaaand, I just realized that there are still 20 teams to go. Time to regroup and power through the rest of this! Click the next page to continue as I attempt to write less words about the upcoming teams while breaking down an exciting night for the Timberwolves…