Previously, we brought you the NBA’s Western Conference draft grades. Here are our Eastern Conference draft grades.
Atlanta Hawks: B
Additions: John Collins (19), Tyler Dorsey (41), Alpha Kaba (60)
The illustrious Dwight Howard era in Atlanta is over, and the Hawks needed a big body to replace the loss of both him and Paul Millsap. Despite sharing a name with arguably the least athletic member of my 16” softball team, Collins has the potential to be a great player. He’s a great interior player who needs to add some range in order to really be successful at this level. Dorsey’s stock may have been inflated due to his performance in the NCAA tournament, but he has potential at this level as well. Solid if unspectacular draft for the Hawks.
Boston Celtics: B
Additions: Jayson Tatum (3), Semi Ojeleye (37), Kadeem Allen (53), Jabari Bird (56)
The main reason a trade was not finalized sending either Jimmy Butler or Paul George was because Danny Ainge refused to part with the third pick. So in a way, he wanted Tatum more than both of those guys. No pressure. If you frame it that way, it wasn’t a good draft for the Celtics. Tatum is a gifted scorer, and Ojeleye projects nicely as a DTA guy (defense, threes, athleticism). But this draft may end up being defined by who Boston didn’t get rather than who it did.
Brooklyn Nets: A-
Additions: Jarrett Allen (22), Aleksandar Vezenkov (57)
If you include D’Angelo Russell as a part of the new Nets (you should) this looks even better. Allen was expected to be long gone by 22, and his 7-5 wingspan should make him a great rim protector for Brooklyn. He’s still pretty raw, but the hope is that he becomes just as productive as fellow Texas alumnus Myles Turner has been for Indiana. Vezenkov is going to be stashed in Europe, but between Russell and Allen it’s clear the Nets are finally moving in the right direction.
Charlotte Hornets: B+
Additions: Malik Monk (11), Dwayne Bacon (40)
Monk is absolute thievery at 11, and now the guy who was arguably the best shooter in the draft will create a fun-as-hell backcourt with Kemba Walker. Bacon is a hyper-athletic prospect who, like Monk, has a penchant for hitting tough shots. Here’s hoping Dwight doesn’t ruin the fun.
Chicago Bulls: G
Additions: Lauri Markkanen (7), Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn
Subtractions: Jimmy Butler, Jordan Bell, my sanity
There will occasionally be times when GMs make an especially bone-headed move and I think to myself “I could do better than that”. The problem with GarPax running the Bulls is that I find myself saying this almost constantly. Let’s start with the Butler trade. The Bulls got rid of a top-15 (possibly top 10) player for about 60 cents on the dollar—and gave up their first round pick as part of the deal! LaVine is a freak athlete who is coming off knee surgery (Bulls fans immediately struck with severe PTSD flashbacks) and the Bulls almost traded for Dunn last year, but waited until after his trash rookie season to add him to the fold. On a team full of point guards who can’t shoot, GarPax added a guy who shoots 29 percent from behind the arc.
If I have to say something nice, as far as the literal drafting of players went, GarPax nailed it. Markkanen was the best player on the board at #7, a fluid, versatile big man with a great shot. A lot of people immediately compared him to Niko because he is A. White and B. Not from America, which was a great way of telling the world that they saw exactly zero Arizona games last year. Stylistically, Markkanen and Mirotic are worlds apart, and that’s a good thing for Chicago’s rookie. Bell was a perfect second round selection—a prototypical small-ball center that clearly fits the direction the NBA has been heading, not to mention he would have greatly bolstered the Bulls’ defense. But it took all of 5 minutes for him to be sold (literally) to the Warriors, who now get even better.
Cleveland Cavaliers: Incomplete
Honestly was kind of hoping LeBron would make the Cavs take someone like Frank Mason and then leave for LA, but Cleveland stayed out of the draft.
Detroit Pistons: B+
Additions: Luke Kennard (12)
I actually think Kennard is a better shooter than Monk, and it seems like Detroit has needed shooting ever since the Smith/Monroe/Drummond frontcourt days. He may not be as well-rounded a player as some other guys who were on the board, but his elite shooting/scoring ability addresses a huge need for the Pistons.
Indiana Pacers: C+
Additions: T.J. Leaf (18), Ike Anigbogu (47), Edmund Sumner (52)
TJ Leaf is such a Pacers pick it hurts, following in the legendary footsteps of Rik Smits, Mike Dunleavy, Troy Murphy, et al. Presumably, the plan will be to play Leaf as a stretch four alongside Myles Turner to take advantage of his 46 percent three point shooting. 18 just seems way too high to make this selection.
Anigbogu dropped like a stone due to injury concerns, but was initially thought to be a first round talent. Whether or not that’s true will depend on how he develops, as he is a pure project.
Miami Heat: C
Additions: Bam Adebayo (14)
This was a headscratcher. Bam is a fine player but doesn’t really fit well with Hassan Whiteside. Adebayo’s offense is limited to the low block, and he’s not as good a defender as his size would suggest. Big reach at 14.
Milwaukee Bucks: B-
Additions: DJ Wilson (17), Sterling Brown (46)
There are two ways to become a Buck:
- Be Delly
- Be really, really long
Wilson wasn’t much of a player at Michigan before last year, but broke out thanks to his incredible versatility. Might have been a little early, but he’ll be a Swiss Army Knife for a team that already has a few. Brown offers shooting and defense, which is all you can hope for out of your second round pick.
New York Knicks: B-
Additions: Frank Ntilikina (8), Damyean Dotson (44), Ognjen Jaramaz (58)
In a vacuum, Ntilikina is a great pick, but he will need time to develop and the Knicks are probably the worst organization to help him do that. Dennis Smith Jr. would have made more sense for Phil. It’s hard to look at New York’s draft and feel anything stronger than “meh”.
Orlando Magic: A-
Additions: Jonathan Isaac (6), Wesley Iwundu (33)
The Magic have been lottery mainstays thanks in large part to a tendency to draft without considering fit. That’s how you end up with a backcourt of Elfrid Payton and Victor Oladipo. There are similar concerns about Aaron Gordon and Isaac’s ability to coexist, but Isaac has the most upside out of any player in this draft–already being called a poor man’s Greek Freak.
Philadelphia 76ers: A
Additions: Markelle Fultz (1), Anzejs Pasecniks (25), Jonah Bolden (36), Mathias Lessort (50), James Blackmon Jr. (FA)
The Process Trusters are so hype, and although the new Big 3 of Embiid, Simmons, and Fultz have played a total of 31 NBA games, this is the best shape Philly has been in in a while. Throw Dario Saric in the mix and if everyone can stay healthy (a huge, massive IF), the Sixers are poised to start making some noise.
Toronto Raptors: A
Additions: OG Anunoby (23)
Bias aside, anytime you can get a lottery pick in the 20s, it’s a great draft. OG received a lot of unfair comparisons to Kawhi from NBA writers who likely only watched a few YouTube clips from IU-Kentucky, but even though he’s not at that level he’s a great NBA prospect. He can already defend at an NBA level; his versatility, length, and doggedness helped him shut down the likes of Jamal Murray and Josh Jackson in college. Anunoby is a good spot-up shooter and a ridiculous athlete, so worst-case scenario he’s a DTA guy. If his offense keeps improving, look out.
Washington Wizards: Incomplete
The Wizards didn’t have any picks either, but it’s still a perfect time to remind you that this masterpiece exists.