2016 NBA Draft Team By Team Draft Grades

The Excellent

1.Philadelphia 76ers: Ben Simmons (#1), Timothe Luwawu (#24), Furkan Korkmaz (#26)

Philly killed it. Absolutely killed it. Landing Luwawu (my #4 overall player) and Korkmaz was insane value in the 20s. Let’s obviously not overlook the Simmons factor either, whose ceiling outcome is the highest in the draft as the one potentially legit franchise player.  I’m very intrigued to see how Luwawu performs next year, as he’ll likely struggle to adjust to the league, but higher usage initially will aid his ball-skill development in the future.  Every team in the league needs two-way wings who can shoot and run a pick and roll.  Luwawu was the draft’s best after Ingram.  As for Korkmaz, he is the likeliest player in the draft to become a McCollum type secondary handler with his ability to shoot off the bounce in the midrange area with his shake and high release.  He probably will never defend in average fashion, but Simmons especially will make him a better player.  The Hinkie Cult should rejoice in his vision finally taking shape.  If Embiid is what we thought he could be this team is loaded.

2.Memphis Grizzlies: Wade Baldwin (#17), Deyonta Davis (#31), Rade Zagorac (#35), Wang Zhelin (#57)

For a team without a lottery pick Memphis made out about as good as you possibly can. Baldwin (#6) and Davis (#5) were both tier 3 players on my board and look like future starters. Baldwin was a analytics model darling and his combination of physical tools, defense and spot up shooting gives Memphis a two way piece who can either fit next to or replace Conley. Davis must have been medically red flagged, because there’s no way his talent level was deserving of being selected as late as 31st overall, especially after we just saw how valuable his player archetype is in the Finals with Tristan Thompson. I also had Zagorac 15th with his combination of size and fluid handling ability, and thought he was one of the better value picks in the second round looking somewhat like a variation of Chandler Parsons. Overall, this was one of the best drafts by a team I can remember operating where they did for a team that desperately needed a youth/talent infusion.

3.Phoenix Suns: Dragan Bender (#4), Marquese Chriss (#8), Tyler Ulis (#34)

Bender falling to #4 made Phoenix’s draft a win by itself, as Dragan was my clear cut #3 overall player and the one of the few players left with (in my opinion) definitive all-star upside who can contribute to championship level basketball. Landing Bender, the player with a higher feel and skill floor, rendered trading back up for Chriss a calculated risk/reward play. I had Chriss ranked 13th, but there’s no denying his athletic and shooting upside. If he can figure it out on defense and as a passer on the move (unlikely, but possible), the Suns struck gold here. I’m not huge on Ulis’ translation due to outlier negative size/weight, and there were definitely superior players available at 34. Overall, Bender made this draft a win and enabled the Suns to swing for Chriss, which could be a potential home run.

 4.LA Lakers: Brandon Ingram (#2), Ivica Zubac (#32)

Similar to Simmons, you can’t overlook the effect of landing the #2 overall player on my board in Ingram. I thought it was close between Ingram and Bender, but afforded Ingram the slight edge due to his ceiling outcome as a primary scorer. He’s a hand in glove fit personnel wise to boot, sliding in at the 3 spot next to Clarkson and Randle. Zubac was also nice value at 32. I preferred Onuaku in pretty considerable fashion, but Zubac at least gives the Lakers an enormous 5 with a high skill level. I have large reservations about whether he can ever defend in space, as he looks more like a drop-back guy, but it’s hard to argue with his age and production. Big night for LA.

5.Orlando Magic: Stephen Zimmerman (#40), Serge Ibaka Trade

This is more about the Ibaka trade than Zimmerman, even though I had Zimm in the late 20s, presenting some value there as a potential two-way floor spacer. I really liked the Ibaka move for the Magic, who affords them positional versatility defensively and much needed floor-spacing. He doesn’t fit the Magic’s core (Gordon, Hezonja) that cleanly, but you can finally see a vision starting to take shape. Playing Gordon more at the 4 as he develops as a playmaker and Ibaka as the stretch 5 gives the Magic a very enticing two-way combination, and Ibaka can cover for Vucevic defensively if Orlando moves forward with the latter at center. I’m less bullish on Oladipo than most and believe Ibaka’s value is considerably higher than given credit for as a two-way stretch big. It’s difficult to say who the Magic would have selected at 11 comparatively here, but Ibaka is probably way more valuable than a Sabonis-level player + Dipo.

The Really Good

6.Chicago Bulls: Denzel Valentine (#14), Paul Zipser (#48)

Valentine to Chicago is the best team/player and scheme fit in the draft, and one I noted slotting him there on my big board. The injury concerns are real, but landing my #7 overall player at #14 in a tailor-made motion system to fully capitalize on his shooting and lead guard like generational wizard passing is a huge win for both team and player. Butler is the perfect compliment to Valentine as a category 1 two-way wing, for Butler is always drawing the opponent’s most athletic player on both ends, limiting Valentine’s athleticism deficiencies. Zipser was also tremendous value, as I had him ranked #19 on my board, a spot ahead of Taurean Prince who went 36 picks earlier. Zipser will afford plus combo forward shooting and versatile defense with his switching capability, and knows how to play inside his lane. The Bulls got two high level team-first role players, both of whom I could see playing legitimate rotational roles on a title team.

7.Houston Rockets: Chinanu Onuaku (#37), Zhou Qi (#43), Gary Payton II (undrafted)

Classic Morey move nailing 3 analytics-friendly picks. I had Onuaku as my #2 center and #8 overall player with his translation as the second best big man defender in the draft behind Bender (close with Davis), capable of protecting the rim and guarding the perimeter with his light-of-footness. If he develops a consistent midrange shot to pair with his passing acumen the Rockets have an enormous steal here for a team who knows how to draft 5s late (see Capela). Qi was a pure upside play, and a calculated one based on his outlier tools and potential unicorn ability. I had Qi #21 on my board, so at 43 the reward definitely outweighed the age/frame risk. Not to be outdone, Morey locked up GPII, my #16 overall player, for 3 years as a UDFA. Payton falling out of the draft and not being taken over guys like Paige shows just how much defense is undervalued in today’s game. Payton has elite defensive potential, and even if he never develops a jumper (which is unlikely) he still has offensive value as a slasher who can handle and run a PNR. It’s incredibly puzzling how he wasn’t drafted, and even less shocking that an elite front office quickly locked him up.

8.Atlanta Hawks: Taurean Prince (#12), DeAndre Bembry (#21), Isaiah Cordinier (#44)

If you swapped the draft positions of Bembry (my #11 player) and Prince (my #20 player), I would love their draft, so I guess I love their draft? Bembry is going to be a steal with his size/athleticism/passing combination, especially in an ideal scheme setting in Atlanta with his ability to make high level decisions as a read and react player. Prince was a 3&D + 4 ability archetype selection, and is eerily similar to Carroll in terms of stature. I think Prince has a lot of work to do as a man defender and with his playmaking, but down the road he could be a real player (especially being a young senior). Carroll wasn’t a productive NBA player for his first 6 seasons, and that could be a similar path that Prince leads in terms of being a high level starter. I was bullish on Cordinier until I saw him for a week at the Nike Hoop Summit and his game didn’t translate against better athletes. This is a fine spot for him, though, as Atlanta triples down on the wing spot.

9.Golden State Warriors: Damian Jones (#30), Patrick McCaw (#38), Robert Carter (UDFA)

I’m not a fan of Jones and his lack of defensive instincts despite having the tools and athleticism to be a PNR dive 5, but even with that I still like the Warriors draft. They smartly bought #38 to land McCaw, my 10th overall player, who offers legitimate two-way upside as a 1/2 defender with ball skills and shooting if his frame develops. Securing Carter on a summer league deal, my 12th rated player, was also an insanely savvy move as Carter’s enormous versatile offensive upside was somehow ignored in the draft. There’s just no way a player with his skill-level as a potential playmaking 4 with shooting, nimble handling and passing should fall out of the draft entirely. The conditioning is an issue but it wasn’t red flag worthy in my opinion, and while he needs defensive refinement on the perimeter his feet aren’t horrible. Some weird shit happened on draft night, but I take solace in the fact that an elite front office took a shot on two players I really valued.

10.Brooklyn Nets: Caris LeVert (#20), Isaiah Whitehead (#42)

Trading Thaddeus Young for #20 and Caris LeVert might have been underselling the former a bit, but the latter is a really good player. LeVert can be a plus secondary handler as tremendously skilled and smart player. The fact the Nets rolled the dice on him with their lack of draft pick capital is promising for his medical status. I’m not quite as high on Whitehead, giving him a later second round grade as I’m not sure if his creation game in overelying on his body to create space will translate. But it’s a solid pick for a Nets team bereft of young talent, and should inspire some local interest.

11.Indiana Pacers: Georges Niang (#50), Thaddeus Young Trade

Landing Young for the 20th pick in the draft was good value for the Pacers, as Young fits nicely into their core and future aspirations of playing faster as a legitimate small ball four instead of having to play George heavy minutes there. I didn’t have a draftable grade on Niang, and thought Carter especially was a sizably better option, but it was late enough in the draft that draft and stash contractual dynamics were likely in play.

 12.Cleveland Cavaliers: Kay Felder (#54)

I had Felder as my 4th best lead guard in the class and an early round 2 pick, and thought his translation as an Isaiah Thomas variation was cleaner than other players like Ulis and Jackson. Delly fell off the planet in the playoffs and is now a free agent who the Cavs are unlikely to re-sign. Landing Felder at this juncture as a buckets-getter off the bench who can also pass is a coupe. 

13.Dallas Mavericks: AJ Hammons (#46)

Hammons was 26th on my board, and a first rounder based on talent. There are clear motor, character and off the court concerns that led to his fall, but the talent is there. Hammons is a legit 280 and more fluid mobility wise than given credit for. He can protect the rim, has excellent touch in the post and has shown positive floor-spacing indicators. This was a deep draft for backup centers and the Mavs capitalized here.

The Less Bullish On

14.Toronto Raptors: Jakob Poeltl (#9), Pascal Siakam (#27)

I was lower on Poeltl than most, but more so in a starting role. He’s an elite backup center with good feet and tremendous skill-level, no doubt replacing the soon to be departing Biyombo.  I didn’t think the value was there, however, having Poeltl #23 on my board. The Siakam pick was much more perplexing and redundant with Poeltl, both who project as backup 5s. I saw Siakam in person earlier this year, and his ability to change ends of the floor quickly is really his calling card with his high motor. I had a late round two grade on him, for outside of fluid athleticism, rim-running and motor, I’m not sure what he provides. 

15.Los Angeles Clippers: Brice Johnson (#25), David Michineau (#39), Diamond Stone (#40)

Micheineau was legitimately the only player called tonight who I’ve never heard of, which I can’t remember happening since Landry Fields. The theme of the Clippers draft was clear: take ready now players who can help immediately. I had Johnson in the 29-32 range, so I don’t think it was much of a reach. I’m not overly enamored with the pick, but Johnson is a fantastic and bouncy athlete who can change ends, catch lobs from CP3 and throw in some floor spacing. The key for him will be adding a 3pt shot. As for the other two players, I didn’t have draftable grades on either. Stone is an NBA dinosaur with his lack of defensive range and passing, and Michineau is a 22 year-old lead guard who didn’t put up great numbers in Europe. I didn’t hate this draft largely because Johnson will play a role for them, but I didn’t like it either.

16.Minnesota Timberwolves: Kris Dunn (#5)

This “dislike” is based on two aspects. First, it was reported that the Wolves turned down #5 and LaVine for Butler offer. We don’t know for sure of course if that was offered, but if they turned that down it’s asinine. Second, Dunn is a dicey fit next to Rubio with the lack of overall spacing, and the latter is a tremendously underrated player. Rubio is probably Dunn’s ceiling outcome player archetype if you add in some shooting/scoring and take the elite level decision-making out. One would postulate landing Dunn will trigger a Rubio trade, and I’d rather have Rubio than Dunn moving forward barring an insane return for Rubio. Basically, Dunn was a safe pick and not a huge reach (#9 on my board) with his top-shelf defensive floor, but the context of the pick wasn’t encouraging.

17.Utah Jazz: Joel Bolomboy (#52), Marcus Paige (#53), Tyrone Wallace (#60), George Hill trade

The Jazz don’t have a ton of roster spots available, making these likely stash selections over better talent in Carter and GPII moves more defensible. I didn’t have a draftable grade on any player selected: Bolomboy lacks skill/bball IQ, Paige isn’t nearly athletic enough to play lead guard at the next level and Wallace is an average athlete with shooting concerns. Keeping this draft out of the bad section was the #12 for George Hill trade. Ironically, Baldwin was available at 12, and Hill is kind of his archetype, but I get why Utah made the move. They’re quietly ready to win now being on the precipice of the playoffs last year after getting derailed by injuries, and Hill is a perfect roster fit there in his 3&D + some initiating role next to high usage wings. It’s a defensible move for sure, although I probably would prefer Baldwin instead with more cost control and higher upside.

18.Detroit Pistons: Henry Ellenson (#18), Michael Gbinije (#49)

Ellenson was 28th on my board, as I view him as a situational center who doesn’t have the feet to guard in space. Basically, he’s what the Pistons tried to acquire with Motiejunas, but probably not as good. Ellenson’s success will come down to his shooting success, as I think his heavy feet will be too damning on defense. Gbinije has some athleticism and shooting ability, but I just never saw it with him.

19.Portland Trail Blazers: Jake Layman (#47)

Layman is a hypothetical 3&D player with 4 potential archetype, but he’s inconsistent as hell and doesn’t have the ball-skills to be anything more than that. Hard to kill Portland for this move in the late 40s, but I’m not a fan with more talented players available.

 20.San Antonio Spurs: Dejounte Murray (#29)

This was the most surprising pick in the draft for me, and very un-Spursian. I got to see a lot of Murray living close to University of Washington last year, and he was never overly impressive. The combination of height+handle+speed+burst+decent vision is evident, but he’s a non-shooter right now and he doesn’t have hops to elevate in a crowd around the rim to finish. He does have a workable floater game, but I’m not sure how he’s a scoring threat and am very sure that defenses will just go under on him every time in PNR at the point of attack. I had him as a mid second rounder, but some really smart draft guys were much higher on him and the fact the Spurs took him makes me wary that my evaluation could be wrong here.

The Bad

21.Boston Celtics: Jaylen Brown (#3), Guerschon Yabusele (#16), Ante Zizic (#23), Demetrius Jackson (#45), Ben Bentil (#51), Abdel Nader (#58)

Where to begin… Brown at 3 was an enormous risk in a vacuum, and when you pair that with passing on Bender I just can’t get on board. Brown is all physical tools, and doesn’t have the feel floor or skill level to fully utilize those. There are so many boxes he needs to check to be even an average player, and the likelihood it happens is slimmer than most treat it. Yabusele and Zizic are probably both stash guys with a high number of roster spots already taken, and I definitely prefer the latter. But the value wasn’t there, especially for the former. I had Yabusele ranked in the mid to late second round, as he similar to Ellenson has heavy feet and looks like a substantial minus on defense. Zizic is a plus energy guy who can change ends and plays with a relentless motor. I had him early round 2 so it’s hard to really kill that pick even though players like Luwawu were still on the board. Jackson might have been Boston’s best pick of the draft, and I’m not even that high on him. He projects as a plus backup lead guard though with his shooting and athleticism, but plays no defense and has no shake. Bentil is a black hole chucker who will stick in the league if he makes shots, and I didn’t have a draftable grade on Nader. Very meh draft for Boston overall, and an enormous risk on Brown at that juncture.  If he pans out, I’ll certainly eat crow, but that road is a long, winding one.

22.Denver Nuggets: Jamal Murray (7th), Juan Hernangomez (15th), Malik Beasley (#19), Petr Cornelie (#53)

The most overrated player archetype in the league is an off-ball one-skill wing shooter. I had both Murray and Beasley ranked over Hield, the former for his elite ability to adjust quickly flying off screens to shoot and the latter for being a superior athlete, but neither are really encouraging picks. Murray is fine as a 6th man scorer off the bench and has some passing chops with the ability to run a pick and roll, but he’s not a shot creator with his lack of suddenness and short area quickness. He’ll be in the league for a long time, but that archetype doesn’t interest me at 7th overall (had him ranked #24). Beasley is somewhat of a similar player as a plus shooter but isn’t nearly as adept off screens as Murray but adds more slashing. Both players are minus on and off ball defenders without plus creation ability/ball skills. Not a fan. Hernangomez benefitted from statistical projections but his lack of defensive mobility and offensive playmaking is damning at the 4 spot. Had him ranked far lower in round 2. Cornelie is a pure stash guy as a big who can shoot and defend ok in space but can’t do anything else. You can simply switch any action with him with a guard or a wing onto him and he can’t do anything. The Nuggets have a great history of drafting international players but this does not look to be of the same caliber.

23.Milwaukee Bucks: Thon Maker (#10), Malcolm Brogdon (#36)

Literally what the hell? Maker at 10 was an enormous reach, and not analogous to Giannis at all. Giannis had a far higher feel and skill floor. I saw Maker at the Hoop Summit in 2015 and he was woefully uncoordinated. He has terrible hands and his basketball awareness overall is miserable. He can change ends and move his feet with a plus motor, but outside of that what is he? He would have been destroyed just like Skal was if he played competitive basketball last year, and he clearly benefited from being hidden away. He was a mid second round dice roll, not a top 10 seleciton. Brogdon was a decent pick if he can make shots consistently. He’s not going to do any playmaking at the next level, but if he can guard ones he has some value. 36 was a touch ahead of where I had him but it’s hard to argue with. I’m less bullish on his athleticism translation than most.

24.Sacramento Kings: Georgios Papagiannis (#13), Malachi Richardson (#22), Skal Labissiere (#28), Isaiah Cousins (#59)

The Kings started the day trading Marco Belinelli, one of the worst rotation players in the league last year, for the 22nd pick. This was probably the highlight of the franchise over the past few years (outside of taking Willie Cauley-Stein). Then they quickly resorted back into Kangz mode, taking two more centers. Papagiannis has fantastic mobility on offense for being a gargantuan human being, but is basically a non-defender at this point. He was a nice round 2 stash candidate, but not a lottery pick, especially when you already have one of the best centers in the league and a defensive dynamo backup on your team. With that aforementioned 22nd pick the Kings took one of the most overrated prospects in the draft in Richardson, someone I had as a late second round pick. Richardson road the coattails of hitting difficult shots in the tournament and meeting wing physical tools benchmarks into the first round, covering up his dreadful inefficiency and Nick Young esque game when he had no business going in round one. Skal was actually the best pick they made, and it was still half a round too high. It’s basically a worst case scenario for Skal though, as the Kings don’t have the most impressive developmental system in place (understatement of the century). Don’t see an argument for Cousins at 59 over GP2.

25.New Orleans Pelicans: Buddy Hield (#6), Cheick Diallo (#33)

The Diallo pick at the top of round 2 was fine. I had him ranked right around 29, so the value is there. He doesn’t know how to play basketball on offense yet but he has a fantastic motor, can change ends in elite fashion, protects the rim and has better touch than given credit for. As strictly a backup 5, I like Diallo over current roster fodder Asik and Ajinca. The Hield pick is another story. Again we see the one-skill shooter being overrated, and Hield doesn’t even have Murray’s elite off-screen shooting to fall back on. Hield is the better athlete, but still a below average NBA athlete who doesn’t pass and is a bad bet to defend in any fashion north of awful. It’s even unclear if the way Hield gets his shots, especially off the dribble on step-backs, will translate against better athletes who don’t get dislodged as easily. Basically, this pick encapsulates the point that some in the NBA think shooting is the most important skill and overrate that, even at the expense of every other skill. Free Anthony Davis.

26.Charlotte Hornets: Marco Belinelli Trade

I understand the Hornets wanting Lee insurance in free agency, but no way in hell is Belinelli worth a first round pick. He was one of the worst rotation players in the league last year, and if his streaky shot isn’t falling (again we see this theme) he’s a significant minus on the floor. If this was for a late second, fine. Not anything close to a first round pick, especially with guys like Luwawu still on the board.

27.Oklahoma City: Domantas Sabonis (#11), Daniel Hamilton (#59), Ibaka Trade

I’m not big on this trade at all for the Thunder. Eventually they would have had to pay 3 of Durant (if he’s still there), Russ, Ibaka and Adams max level money, with Ibaka being the odd man out, but look at how close they got to beating the Warriors. Ibaka was a big part of that, as he and Adams as a tandem form a rare athletic pairing capable of switching out on the perimeter on defense while attacking the glass. Ibaka also provided vital floor spacing and defensive versatility at the 5 for the Thunder, something that no one they received in the trade (Sabonis or Ilyasova) can replicate. Oladipo is a better player than Waiters, but if his shot isn’t falling combined with the small usage he’ll receive in OKC how valuable is he there? He’s an upgrade defensively for sure and hypothetically fits that 3&D wing spot the Thunder have craved for so long. But he’s not really that guy, and his defense right now is overrated. Flipping Ibaka for him as the principle fulcrum of the deal is a subtraction. Sabonis looks like Kanter-lite with his skill level beating up opposing teams reserves, but do you need 2 of that archetype? No one will ever get a rebound with those two on the court, nor will they be able to stop anyone. Hamilton has some promise and fills the Presti positional size criteria, but his jumper is very far away and he had a miserable combine. Overall, you have Durant on the precipice of free agency and make a negative move in the short term. It’s illogical.