A wild NBA draft is over after trades galore and one huge move that had nothing to do with the draft and won’t even be official for another two weeks. So who won?
USA TODAY Sports’ draft grades take into account only what happened on draft night that was relevant to the draft itself. They are not weighted for the impact of the players, so that a team with only one second-round pick could get an A or an F depending on what the team did with its pick, even though the selection might not have much impact on the franchise’s future.
With that said, here are the 15 Western Conference teams
New face: No. 18 PG Shane Larkin
The Mavericks slid down the board twice in the first round and have little to show for it aside from the player they may have picked 13th anyway. They received two future second-round picks from the Boston Celtics, but those only go so far, and they gave away last year’s first-rounder, Jared Cunningham, in an effort to cut salary. Larkin is a good point guard and good fit in a need position, but this draft was all about freeing up cap space for the Mavericks. They did that to some degree but might have been better off going with someone like Giannis Antetokounmpo, the No. 15 pick who likely will stay in Greece for a couple years and therefore off the Milwaukee Bucks’ payroll.
New faces: No. 46 PG Erick Green, No. 55 PF Joffrey Lauvergne, PF Darrell Arthur
Arthur is the big addition here, and he’s a good player at a position of need. But Denver gave up starting center Kosta Koufos for a backup power forward, so the praise can’t go too far. Moreover, trading the No. 27 pick for the No. 46 pick and cash was a cheap move from a franchise in disarray. Green is a good fit for the Nuggets, but they have needs at the wings unless they plan to keep either Andre Iguodala or Corey Brewer. Lauvergne is a non-factor who probably won’t ever reach the NBA.
Golden State Warriors
New faces: No. 30 PG Nemanja Nedovic, SG Malcolm Lee
The Warriors entered the draft with no picks, and left with two players. The only tangible thing it cost them was a 2014 second-round pick. Nedovic isn’t much and probably was a reach at No. 30. But he might be a good backup point guard if Jarrett Jack is on his way out in free agency. Lee is a strong defender and could allow them to not risk re-signing Brandon Rush. Lee and Rush both are coming off knee surgeries and both are strong defenders, but Lee has more upside.
New face: No. 34 PG Isaiah Canaan
The Rockets had one draft selection and made a smart decision with it. Canaan is an ideal backup to Jeremy Lin: smaller, quicker and a better shooter. He easily could have gone 10 spots higher. This isn’t a home run, but it’s the right move for the right team and a good example of making a logical decision. Having only a second-rounder allows Houston to keep cap space open for free agency, too.
Los Angeles Clippers
New face: No. 25 SF Reggie Bullock
The Clippers sandwiched the draft between their two key offseason moves, adding Doc Rivers as coach and now possibly re-signing Chris Paul. Bullock is a mundane pick, lacking the upside of many of the wings still available. But he makes some sense as a stand-still jump shooter catching passes from Paul. If they don’t bring back Paul and allow Eric Bledsoe to run the show, this pick will seem like a mistake.
Los Angeles Lakers
New face: No. 48 PF Ryan Kelly
Give credit where credit is due: The Lakers found a second-rounder who might be able to contribute next year. The Lakers haven’t done much in the draft over the last 15 years aside from 2005’s Andrew Bynum pick. Kelly isn’t going to start or form the basis of the team’s future, but he could end up being similar to Ryan Anderson, who expertly played off Dwight Howard with the Orlando Magic. There were better players on the board, but Kelly was a good fit.
New faces: No. 41 SG Jamaal Franklin, No. 60 SF Janis Timma, Kostas Koufos
Could Franklin be the next Tony Allen? The athletic wing shares some similarities to the Grizzlies’ top perimeter defender, who is a free agent. He was an outstanding value so low, with some projections putting him in the late teens. The Grizzlies also snagged an outstanding backup center in Koufos, who started for the Nuggets. But they may have been better off keeping Darrell Arthur, who was a key reserve for them behind Zach Randolph. Will Koufos get the minutes behind Marc Gasol to justify his $3 million salary? Timma was a meaningless pick, the final selection in a mediocre draft.
New faces: No. 14 SF Shabazz Muhammad, No. 21 C Gorgui Dieng, No. 52 PG Lorenzo Brown, No. 59 PF Bojan Dubljevic
Flip Saunders had a strong first draft running the show for the Timberwolves. He added several players who can help the team right away, including second-rounder Brown. All four players could one day be rotation players for the Timberwolves, though none are likely stars. Trey Burke was the right pick at No. 9, but they had to trade him because they have no shortage of point guards already. Getting two first-rounders from the Jazz was shrewd. Muhammad is ideally a bench player but will get a shot to start for the wing-deprived Timberwolves. He could be the most natural scorer on the team from Day One. Giving up Malcolm Lee to cut salary was an odd move, though it likely came as part of the transition of power.
New Orleans Pelicans
New faces: No. 42 PG Pierre Jackson, PG Jrue Holiday
Let’s get one thing out of the way: The Pelicans didn’t trade away their shot at Andrew Wiggins. The 2014 draft pick they gave the Philadelphia 76ers along with Nerlens Noel is protected, and that may not matter much. New Orleans should be pretty good next year, provided Anthony Davis can stay healthy. Holiday is an All-Star and allows them to trade one or both of Greivis Vasquez and Eric Gordon. He has a great contract and a great attitude and should pair perfectly with Davis. Jackson, who came in the trade, wasn’t a reach but didn’t fill a need and wasn’t the best player on the board. But this draft was all about Holiday and Noel for the Pelicans. They already have an injury-prone Kentucky shot-blocker. Noel is a poor man’s Davis in some regards, and trading him made sense. They got an All-Star and now have a roster that could contend for the playoffs. That’s a good draft.
Oklahoma City Thunder
New faces: No. 12 C Steven Adams, No. 26 SF Andre Roberson, No. 32 SG Alex Abrines
The Thunder went for potential. What’s not clear is why. They are an NBA title favorite next season, provided Russell Westbrook returns to full health. But they went with a No. 12 overall pick who probably needs two or three seasons to adjust to the NBA game. Abrines probably won’t be brought over for a couple years but has great upside. Roberson has almost no offensive game but is an outstanding athlete who can defend and rebound, so maybe he contributes next season. There were many polished players available in this draft, which featured more seniors than normal. The Thunder avoided them. Speculation is they wanted one of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, C.J. McCollum or Michael Carter-Williams and watched all three come off the board immediately before their pick. But this draft was strange, even if the players were good.
New faces: No. 5 C Alex Len, No. 29 SG Archie Goodwin, No. 57 C Alex Oriakhi
Some draft experts called Len the best prospect available and a legitimate option at No. 1. Others said he wouldn’t be a top-10 pick in most drafts was doomed to be another 7-foot stiff. The Suns need a home run, particularly now with new management. They’re counting on Len to become an elite defender and to develop his soft touch. Goodwin wasn’t a reach but also wasn’t the best shooting guard on the board. He could get a chance to start at a position of need. Oriakhi probably won’t make the team but is tough and physical. The draft is underwhelming, but none of the picks were bad.
Portland Trail Blazers
New faces: No. 10 SG C.J. McCollum, No. 31 SG Allen Crabbe, No. 39 C Jeff Withey, No. 40 PF Grant Jerrett, No. 45 PF Marko Todorovic
How McCollum fits with starting guards Damian Lillard and Wesley Matthews will be worth watching. The Blazers have been at the center of many trade rumors, and a move might help the roster congeal. McCollum is a high-volume shooter, but he might be too small to pair with point guard Lillard, the defending rookie of the year, on a regular basis. Crabbe also is a shooter, though he’d be best served coming off the bench. Withey and Jerrett were good value picks who could both make the roster, though Jerrett needs time to develop his game as a stretch power forward. The Blazers needed to improve their bench, and McCollum could be a nice sixth man. But they might have been better off with a bigger guard, had one they liked been available.
New faces: No. 7 SG Ben McLemore, No. 36 PG Ray McCallum
The Kings basically ignored the composition of their team in making these picks, but they wound up with perhaps the best prospect in the draft and an athletic point guard with potential. Their biggest weaknesses were defense and passing, as players such as DeMarcus Cousins, Marcus Thornton and Tyreke Evans don’t care to do much of either. McLemore signals a changing of the guard, as he is the most skilled player in the draft and should put an end to Evans’ time in Sacramento. McCallum could push Isaiah Thomas for minutes at point guard if he can polish his game for the NBA level after playing at Detroit Mercy. The Kings’ new front office faced a big challenge and responded with good value picks but little in the way of a franchise direction.
San Antonio Spurs
New faces: No. 28 SF Livio Jean-Charles, No. 58 SF Deshaun Thomas
The Spurs are better at international scouting than any other team, and Jean-Charles is a product of that system. He likely will stay in France for a few years to develop, but he has enough potential that it’s easy to see why the Spurs liked him. Then they went out and got a player who actually outranked Jean-Charles on some draft boards 30 picks later in Thomas. He’s ready to play now and could find a nice niche as a corner shooter for the Spurs, if he makes the roster.
New faces: No. 9 PG Trey Burke, No. 27 C Rudy Gobert
Burke probably shouldn’t have been there for the Timberwolves to grab. But when they did, the Jazz acted. The trade worked for both sides, as Utah added the best point guard in this draft in exchange for two first-rounders. Burke will start right away and give the Jazz a creative tour de force, though he must work on his strength to account for his size. Gobert came even cheaper. The biggest player in the draft cost the Jazz a second rounder and cash, and they now can stow him away and let him refine his game for a few years.
© 2013 USA TODAY. All rights reserved.