Grading the First Round of the 2018 NBA Draft

Another year another draft. Always been a fan of NBA draft night, and still enjoy it despite it being more of a production than a Bowie concert, for Pete’s sake. Here’s how I marked up the picks.

Phoenix Suns: (1) Deandre Ayton, C, Arizona, (10) Mikal Bridges, G/F, Villanova (from Philadelphia 76ers)

Suns would like top pick Ayton to be Kareem, but unfortunately I think he’ll play closer to Larue Martin. Landing a versatile scorer/defender in the same vein of Calvin Murphy via trade is their saving grace.

Grade: B

Sacramento Kings: (2) Marvin Bagley III, PF/C, Duke

Love this pick. A true throwback that moves and looks strikingly similar to the great Bob Lanier. I expect him to bring home the bacon for a long time.

Grade: B+

Dallas Mavericks: (3) Luka Doncic, G/F, Real Madrid/Slovenia (trade from Atlanta Hawks)

Mavs daggum fleeced the Hawks here and got and got a real bell cow in Doncic. This could be a trade talked about for decades. Imagine receiving a young Paul McCartney because the other guy liked the flash of Tony Orlando.

Grade: A-

Memphis Grizzlies: (4) Jaren Jackson Jr., PF/C, Michigan State

Jackson appears to be cut from same cloth as notable underachiever Greg Howard out of Hartnell. Highly combustible pick.

Grade: C

Atlanta Hawks: (5) Trae Young, PG, Oklahoma (trade from Dallas Mavericks) (19) Kevin Huerter, SG, Maryland (30) Omari Spellman, PF, Villanova

Hawks making it clear they want to fill the court with guys that can fill it up. However, their front office must’ve been soapy-eyed last night and forget the lessons of the Steel Curtain. Defense wins championships.

Grade: C-

Orlando Magic: (6) Mohamed Bamba, C, Texas

Sam Lacey comes to mind when watching Mo play, but so does Bambi. Stock this youngster’s cupboard full of Dinky Donuts and Corn Diggers to beef him up.

Grade: B-

Chicago Bulls: (7) Wendell Carter Jr., C, Duke (22)Chandler Hutchison, G/F, Boise State

Carter is a nice looking young player but has a high bust factor (think Clarence Glover). Hutchison seems bound for a long but unspectacular career. Solid player.

Grade: B-

Cleveland Cavaliers: (8) Collin Sexton, PG, Alabama

Great pick. Sexton is a throwback to the golden age of hoops with his physicality and gravel in his gut. He’s been through the mill and I expect him to be the next Jo Jo White.

Grade: A

New York Knicks: (9) Kevin Knox, F, Kentucky

Quickest draft pick to be booed by the hometown fans since Tom Riker was instantly alienated by the New York faithful in ‘72 before being banished to a nearby island but hopefully this will be a different kettle of fish.

Grade: D

Los Angeles Clippers: (11) Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, G, Kentucky (from Charlotte Hornets) (13) Jerome Robinson, G, Boston College

Two late lotto picks should’ve gone a long way toward righting the Clipper’s sail. Alas, Gilgeous-Alexander is primed to be the next Harold Fox and Robinson appears be a safe but uninspiring rotation piece for the years ahead. Should’ve walked away with a reliable Ford Grenada but instead broke down in an Austin Allegro.

Grade: D-

Charlotte Hornets: (12) Miles Bridges, F, Michigan State (from Los Angeles Clippers)

Steal of the draft for Charlotte. They haven’t been a contender in donkey’s years but Bridges could change that. He is the total package, think Bob McAdoo with the added ability to shoot from distance. As sure a thing as was in this crop.

Grade: A

Denver Nuggets: (14) Michael Porter Jr., F, Missouri

Hopefully Denver had Columbo on the mysterious case of Porter Jr.’s medicals. A minuscule inflection could take this pick from Ralph Sampson to Ralph Simpson. Great spot for the gamble.

Grade: A

Washington Wizards: (15) Troy Brown Jr., G/F, Oregon

Once again, Washington is all mouth and no trousers. Combo wing that doesn’t look ready to contribute for a team that needs change. Could’ve traded back several spots if Brown was the target. Fred Brown is the ceiling here.

Grade: D-

Philadelphia 76ers: (16) Zhaire Smith, G/F, Texas Tech (from Phoenix Suns) (26) Landry Shamet, PG, Wichita State

Blunders galore. Philly appears to be pinching pennies to create space in the pocketbook for a stud they’re sure to fail at bridling. Should’ve kept Bridges but instead, sacrificed skill for more athleticism and potential.

Grade: D

Milwaukee Bucks: (17) Donte DiVincenzo, G, Villanova

Love this pick. Excellent scorer and, like Geoff Petrie, I expect him to hit the ground running, though Bucks will hope for better longevity.

Grade: B

San Antonio Spurs: (18) Lonnie Walker IV, SG, Miami

I could sit back on the davenport and watch Walker IV play all day. It may take me that entire time to understand what his barber was thinking, but this a tremendous value at 18. He will pay dividends for Pop from get-go.

Grade: A

Minnesota Timberwolves: (20) Josh Okogie, SG, Georgia Tech

Do not handle this Jimmy Collins clone near an open flame. Could’ve picked Okogie up much later, though he will fit right in with the others in Minnesota that watch Thibs play the starters 40 minutes a night.

Grade: D+

Utah Jazz: (21) Grayson Allen, SG, Duke

Haven’t the foggiest idea about Allen in Utah. Heir to the Joe Ingles throne? Allen could just as easily trip and fall as he could grow into an average starter in this league.

Grade: C

Indiana Pacers: (23) Aaron Holiday, PG, UCLA

Stroke of luck for a PG of this caliber to fall this far. If he were even an inch taller, Holiday would be dubbed the second coming of Tiny Archibald. No guarantee he grows into Tiny, but I’ll be fit for a pine overcoat if he doesn’t turn into a very good starter.

Grade: A

Portland Trail Blazers: (24) Anfernee Simons, SG, IMG Academy

Simons still very wet behind his ears even among amateurs. He’ll spend a lot of time in the G-league learning how to play against non 5’10” 17 year olds. Not a horrible risk at 24.

 Grade: C+ 

Los Angeles Lakers: (25) Moritz Wagner, C, Michigan

The second Mo of the draft is a nice reliable piece. Don’t expect all-star selections but I see a career productive long career as pick and popper ala Gar Heard. Enough to entice LeBron? We shall see.

Grade: B

Boston Celtics: (27) Robert Williams, PF/C, Texas A&M

One of the nights bigger mysteries was Williams falling this far. He’s no Dave Cowans but he’s also no Joby Wright (Hoosier legend and NBA bust). He lands in a tremendous situation and should provide great depth and energy from the bench of a contender.

Grade: A

Golden State Warriors: (28) Jacob Evans, SF, Cincinnati

Another year another solid late pick from Warriors. Evans as a player is spitting image of productive role player Ollie Johnson.

Grade: B-

Brooklyn Nets: (29) Dzanan Musa, SF, Cedevita/Bosnia and Herzegovina

Picking here is friendly reminder of how horrific the Nets front office has been. Musa is raw and young. High risk, low ceiling.

Grade: D+

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