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2016 NBA Draft: Western Conference Grades

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After a jam-packed NBA Draft, Dakota Schmidt recaps the Western Conference selections

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

After a jam-packed NBA Draft, Dakota Schmidt recaps the Western Conference selections. On Saturday, new contributor Francis Adu will take a look at the Eastern Conference.

Dallas Mavericks: AJ Hammons with 46th pick. C-:

The Mavericks seemed to try to end their decade-long drafting struggle by selecting AJ Hammons from Purdue. Turning 24 in August, Hammons was one of the oldest prospects in this year's draft as he was a solid part of Purdue's squad for four straight years. That experience should allow him Hamons to be an immediate contributor to the Mavericks, as he can produce on both ends of the court. Offensively, Hammons is a solid pick-and-roll threat as he finishes strong at the rim and can knock down the mid-range J. However, his character issues and questions about how his defense could transfer to the NBA raises some questions about how long he can stick in the league.

Denver Nuggets: Jamal Murray (7th pick), Juan Hernangomez (15th pick), Malik Beasley (19th pick), Petr Cornelie (53rd pick). B+:

Last season, the Nuggets stood as one of the least efficient squads in the NBA shooting 44% from the field (21st in the NBA) and 34% from beyond the arc (26th in the NBA). The Nuggets were on a mission to rectify that in the draft by selecting a gang of offensive-minded players. That crew is led by Jamal Murray, who stood out as one of the best scorers in college hoops, as he averaged 20 points on 45% from the field and 41% from beyond the arc. As a 6'5 guard with a beautiful perimeter stroke and an underrated cutting ability, Murray could fit in nicely in Denver's back-court with Emmanuel Mudiay.

On the other hand, Juan Hernangomez is an intriguing power forward due to his incredible range (video below) and solid quickness as a 6'9 player. While he'll definitely need more time to develop on the defensive end, there's a good chance that Hernangomez could be a factor in Denver's young rotation. For Malik Beasley, he's your prototypical 3-and-D wing that was super efficient in his freshman season (58% True Shooting Percentage)

Petr Cornelie is a solid draft-and-stash candidate as he's a 6'11 big with a solid perimeter stroke.

Golden State Warriors: Selected Damian Jones (30th pick), Patrick McCaw (36th pick) B+:

The Warriors spent the NBA Draft selecting two "low-risk, medium-reward" prospects. Damian Jones was a solid roll threat during his time with Vanderbilt due to his quickness and explosivnes, which led to a ton of exciting dunks. However, Jones is still extremely raw on both ends of the court as his defensive instincts aren't really there and he doesn't have the best touch around the rim.

For McCaw, he's a young talent with an NBA-ready frame (6'19 with a 6'10 wingspan). Alongside that, he possess great defensive insticts and developed into a great catch and shoot weapon with UNLV. With some work in the D-League to refine his skills, McCaw could end up as a solid role player for Golden State for years to come.

Houston Rockets: Chinanu Onuaku (37th pick), Zhou Qi (43rd pick) B:

With Dwight Howard becoming an unrestricted free agent, the Rockets turned to the 2nd round to try to add some front-court depth. The Rockets had an absolute steal with the selection of Chinanu Onauku, who was one of the most productive all-around bigs at Louisville. Per 40 minutes, Onuaku averaged 16.1 points, 13.8 boards and 3.3 blocks on 62% from the field.

Meanwhile, Zhou Qi stands out as probably the most intriguing 2nd round picks due to his incredible frame (stands 7'2 with 7'8 wingspan) and sould mid-range touch. Read more on Qi in our recent profile piece on him.

Los Angeles Clippers: Brice Johnson (25th pick), David Michineau (39th pick) and Diamond Stone (40th pick) B-:

With the selection of Brice Johnson, the Clippers pick a player that should be an immediate part of the rotation. Johnson's a great roll man that's explosive and puts in all of of effort on both sides of the court, which is exactly what Doc Rivers looks for in rotation players.

For Michineau, he's a definite draft-and-stash option that only really started to get talked about after a strong Adidas Eurocamp. In that camp, he hined with his athleticism and court vision. Diamond Stone is an intriguing prospect as he's a talented player that struggled to stay on the court because of varying attitude problems. However, Rivers might be the best coach to help rectify those issues and allow Stone to continue progressing as a player.

Los Angeles Lakers: Brandon Ingram (2nd pick), Ivica Zubac (32nd pick) A-:

The Lakers started out the Luke Walton era by having an excellent NBA Draft. The Brandon Ingram was an obvious one, as the freshman forward is an athletically gifted player (stands 6'10 with a 7'3 wingspan) that can create his own offense in a variety of ways. Even though he's super skinny, he possess the tools and overall work ethic to be a potential All-Star player.

For a prospect that just turned 19, Ivica Zubac has both an NBA-ready frame and raw fundamentals to contribute as a role player right now. Standing 7'1 and 265 pounds, Zubac has quick footwork that allows him to be a help defender and also roll to the paint in pick-and-rolls. While he doesn't have any kind of mid-range jumper, Zubac could still be a productive asset for a rebuilind Lakers squad.

Minnesota Timberwolves: Kris Dunn (5th pick): B+:

The Minnesota Timberwolves continue their rebuilding process with the selection of Providence guard Kris Dunn. Dunn's probably the most NBA-ready player in this year's class due to his frame (6'4 with a 6'10 wingspan) and sheer ability to produce on both ends. Offensively, Dunn's a terrific ball-handler that can drive to the rim whenever he desires. Alongside that, he progressed as a perimeter weapon, shooting 37% from beyond the arc as a junior. Despite those great offensive skills, defense is Dunn's main "bread and butter".  With the combination of that great frame with solid footwork, Dunn sticks to his defender like velcro whether they're cutting to the paint or working around off-ball screens.

With defensive mastermind Tom Thibodeau now coaching the T-Wolves,  don't be surprised if you eventually see Kris Dunn appear on some All-Defensive teams in years to come.

Memphis Grizzlies: Wade Baldwin (17th pick), Deyonta Davis (31st pick), Rade Zagorac (35th pick), Wang Zhelin (57th pick): A:

With their first two selections, the Grizzlies picked players (Baldwin and Davis) that were widely regarded as lottery picks. Baldwin''s that "swiss army knife" that can contribute in a variety of ways: perimeter shooting, perimeter defending, cutting and facilitating. A lot of that's made possible by his basketball IQ and terrific frame (6'4 with a 6'11 wingspan.

Deyonta Davis was the biggest steal of the night, as the former Michigan State big and green-room participate waited for over two hours before his name was called. This might be the best move for Davis as he'll get an opportunity to learn under defensive standout Marc Gasol. Even without the tutelage of Gasol, Davis can be a great defensive plaer due to his athleticism and great defensive instincts. He can go out and defend the perimeter or stay inside and use his athletic frame to block shots (1.8 blocks in 18.6 minutes per game).

6'9 Rade Zagorac is a strong draft-and-stash player as he possess solid shooting mechanics and nice ball-handling skills. Those tools could allow him to be a nice pick-and-roll option down the line. Chinese big Wang Zhelin has an NBA-ready frame (7'0, 250 pounds) but he's very slow and has continued to battle various injuries.

New Orleans Pelicans: Buddy Hield (6th pick), Cheick Diallo (33rd pick) B+:

For a team that was in dire need of weapons to put alongside Anthony Davis, you could do a lot worse than getting one of the best scorers in college basketball history. In Hield's senior season, he averaged 25 points on 50% from the field and 45% from beyond the arc. While he'll need to progress as a ball-handler and rim finisher, he should immediatelyy help the Pelicans offense.

As an early 2nd round selection, Cheick Diallo is a great "low risk, medium reward player". Despite a rough stint at Kansas, I still have a lot of faith in Diallo's ability to thrive as a player, because he's a lanky forward with high motor and developing offensive skills. That high motor and solid frame (6'9 with 7'4 wingspan) could place him as a nice 2nd unit defender.

OKC Thunder: Domantas Sabonis (11th pick) B:

Acquired in a deal with the Magic that sent Ibaka to Orlando with Ilyasova and Oladipo, Sabonis could be another offensive-minded big inside Oklahoma City's rotation (Hi Enes Kanter!). On that end, Sabonis combines an endless motor with solid fundamentals to be an effective threat. He can be asked to produce in a variety of ways: post-up scoring, mid-range shooting, off-ball cuts and mid-range shooting. Those tools could make him into an effective 2nd unit option.

Phoenix Suns: Dragan Bender (4th pick), Marquese Chriss (8th pick), Tyler Ulis (34th pick) A-:

After trading for Sacramento's 8th pick, the Suns went out and selected two of the best front-court players in this year's class not named Ben Simmons. Despite standing at 7'1, Dragan Bender's playing style more resembles a small forward with his perimeter mindset and his sheer quickness. Bender possess a smooth perimeter stroke and uses his quickness and long frame to be a solid pick-and-roll defender and catch rebounds.

For Marquese Chriss, they select a player with one of the highest upsides in this year's draft class. At 6'10, 230 pounds, Chriss shines due to his incredible athleticism and solid perimeter stroke. With some refining, he can develop into a bonafide NBA stud. To read more about him, check out our recent piece on Marquese Chriss.

With their early 2nd round pick, the Suns picked a player that could develop into a solid backup option. While Tyler Ulis' 5'9 frame hinders some of his potential, he has the key mix of great basketball IQ with solid athleticism. In his sophomore season, Ulis was an extremely effecient facilitator, as he had an awesome 3.57 Ast/TO ratio as a sophomore.

Portland Trail Blazers: Jake Layman (47th pick) C+:

The Trail Blazers buyed themselves into the 2016 draft to pick Maryland forward Jake Layman. Layman has all of the skills to be a great role player for Portland as he possess a solid perimeter stroke (40% from beyond the arc as a senior) with great defensive versatility.

Sacramento Kings: Georgios Papagiannis (13th pick), Malachi Richardson (22nd pick), Skal Labissiere (28th pick), Isaiah Cousins (59th pick) C-:

Does anyone else feel like the Kings are just blindly throwing darts at the board to see what would work? Or is that just me.

I got that feeling after the Kings picked Greek big Georgios Papagiannis with their late lotto pick. While Papagiannis has been climbing up draft boards because he's a 7'2 18-year-old with great mobility and explosiveness. However, he's still an incredibly raw prospect that will probably need two years to fill out his frame and improve conditioning. That pick is also hurt by the fact that there were a plethora of more NBA-ready players on the board (Valentine, Baldwin, Ellenson, Luwawu, Korkmaz and Deyonta Davis).

The Kings redeemed themselves a bit with the selections of Malachi Richardson and Skal Labissierre. Despite looking awful through analyticals (had 51% True Shooting Percentage and had more turnovers than assists), he still has potential through his athleticism and smooth perimeter stroke. Meanwhile, Skal Labissiere seems destined to be with the Reno Bighorns due to how incredibly raw he is. Speaking of the Bighorns, Isaiah Cousins might be a D-League stud due to his great perimeter stroke (shot 41% from beyond the arc).

San Antonio Spurs: Dejounte Murray (29th pick) A:

For yet another year, a solid upside player falls to the San Antonio Spurs. As we covered in a recent piece, Dejounte Murray has a lot of great tools: quickness, frame and great handles. However, he doesn't have the most refined skills, which is definitely something that could be developed inside San Antonio's great organization.

Utah Jazz: Joel Bolomboy (52nd pick), Marcus Paige (55th pick), Tyrone Wallace (60th pick) C-:

After acquiring George Hill earlier in the week and subsequently dealing their lottery pick, the Jazz basically used the draft to fill some roster spots for their D-League team, Salt Lake City Stars. As covered in a May piece, Joel Bolomboy is a bruising forward that can do work as a cutter and in the post-up. Both Marcus Paige and Tyrone Wallace were great college players that will look to use the D-League to further expand their games.