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2016 NBA Draft: Eastern Conference Grades

Contributor Francis Adu gives out his NBA Draft grades for the Eastern Conference.

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Atlanta Transactions:

· Traded Jeff Teague for the rights to Taurean Prince, SF, Baylor (no. 12 via Utah)
· Picked DeAndre Bembry, SF, St. Joseph's (no. 21)
· Picked Isaia Cordinier, SG, Denain (France) (no. 44)
· Traded the rights to Kay Felder, PG, Oakland (no. 54) to Cleveland for cash

Atlanta Analysis:

The Hawks conducted its most jarring roster shakeup before the draft began. Before the draft, they dealt long-time slightly above average starter Jeff Teague for the twelfth overall pick in this year's draft. Atlanta used the pick on Baylor senior Taurean Prince, who will guarantee that Hawks fans will make many DeMarre Carroll comparisons. Atlanta's enticement comes from Prince's outline of the forever-coveted 3-and-D player. Many positives to glean from a sturdy 6'8" frame, 7 foot wingspan, and 36% shooting mark from 3 during his senior year at Baylor.  Getting a legit 3-and-D combo forward is most definitely worth a lottery pick. However, Prince will have to adapt quickly out of Baylor's extreme zone defense schemes and philosophies to make use of any defensive potential.

Bembry offers Coach Bud a potential ball-handling wing to ease newly minted floor commander-in-chief Dennis Schroeder's workload. Coach Bud may hesitate to play a poor shooting wing heavy minutes in his system, though. Cordinier offers an upside-heavy athletic shooter who could eventually get multiple buckets. However, he likely will be ready to contribute in Atlanta a couple years down the road when the Hawks inevitably blow it up. Kay Felder has the potential to be a great sparkplug off the bench but Atlanta prefers $2.4 million instead. Can't understand why anyone would want that.

Grade: C (Atlanta loads on wings wisely but it's doubtful any of the wings replace Teague's value soon)

Boston Transactions:

· Picked Jaylen Brown, SF, California (no. 3)
· Picked Guerschon Yabusele, PF, Rouen (France) (no. 16)
· Picked Ante Zizic, C, Cibona Zagreb (Croatia) (no. 23)
· Traded the rights to Deyonta Davis, C, Michigan St. (no. 31) & the rights to Rade Zagorac, SF, Mega Leks (Serbia) (no. 35) to Memphis for a 2019 1st round pick (via LAC)
· Picked Demetrius Jackson, PG, Notre Dame (no. 45)
· Picked Ben Bentil, PF, Providence (no. 51)

Boston Analysis:

Danny Ainge tried to pull every string in the piano shop to finagle a star into the clutches of Massachusetts but eventually decided Jaylen Brown would be the best opportunity to get one. Brown is a "Look the Part" All-Star with a physically powerful and speedy 6'7" frame. Catch the right fastbreak in Berkeley and Brown could resemble Rookie LeBron on the play. However, has concerns  about every other half-court skill possible. Boston will likely need to wait a couple of years for Brown to develop further the skills needed to utilize his immense physical gifts. A puzzling approach to the 3rd overall pick even if the Celtics preferred to trade the pick originally. The patience could be worth the wait, but Dragan Bender has a higher chance of bearing fruits for the same wait.

Yabusele aligns with Brown as another physical marvel who may need a couple of years to reap the Celtics benefits. Yabusele looks more like a NFL linebacker  than a basketball player yet offers a cognitively dissonant outline of a scoring stretch four. Yabusele has a nice inside-out game with the ability to powerfully play above the rim, bully smaller defenders in the post, and knock down spot-up threes at an eyebrow-raising rate. Ainge likely will try to stash the relatively untested Yabusele either in France or the D-League.


Zizic also likely will be a stash candidate for Boston if Ainge has any say in it. Zizic profiles as an athletic energy big who was impressively productive for a 19 year old in the Adriatic League. Despite the productive statistical profile, Zizic can also use more polished skills that are less reliant on "work harder, jump higher". Zizic was the first Celtics pick that didn't feel like an eyebrow-raising reach, at least. Again, Boston could've picked more NBA-ready talent but Boston also has four months of transactions to use and only so much room for rookies on the roster.

Ainge continued his attempts to unclutter his roster with frivolous youths with some 2nd round dealing. Boston deal the second round rights of Deyonta Davis and Rage Zagorac to Memphis for the 2019 first round pick, the Grizzlies finessed in the Lance Stephenson-Jeff Green trade. With all the clutter finally organized, Ainge then decided using non-guaranteed contracts with pocket rocket guard Demetrius Jackson and professional bucket getter Ben Bentil could potentially pad out the few holes available on the roster.


Grade: D- (Celtics seemingly gave up on the draft once a trade for the no. 3 pick couldn't be found. Feels like a missed opportunity with Plan B.)

Brooklyn Transactions:

· Traded Thaddeus Young to Indiana for the rights to Caris LeVert, SG, Michigan (no. 20)
· Traded the rights to Marcus Paige, PG, North Carolina (no. 55) and cash for the rights to Isaiah Whitehead, SG, Seton Hall (no. 42)

Brooklyn Analysis:

Sean Marks already making moves! Brooklyn didn't have much use for the in-prime Young on a very not-in-prime roster so jettisoning him for a scarce 1st round pick makes perfect sense. Using the pick on Caris LeVert may have been a slight reach at 20 since LeVert somehow has more foot injury worries than Steel Foot Brook Lopez. However, LeVert has a nice jack-of-all-trades game as a wing that will be difficult to see not translating into decent contribution on the NBA level. LeVert's solid playmaking for others would especially help cover for the Nets' dearth of above-replacement-level floor generals. Only if Caris stays on the floor, though.

Brooklyn traded up for the hometown hero Isaiah Whitehead for a nice draft moment. Whitehead will probably make a bigger impact in  getting locals to fill the empty cavern of Barclays for home games than in actual positive contribution on the court, if his chucking doesn't rectify in the pros. G

Grade: B- (LeVert offers more hope than Young ever could even if he comes with worries. Whitehead probably less so but someone needs to bring the feeling back in New York, eh.)

Charlotte Transactions:

· Traded the rights to Malachi Richardson, SG, Syracuse (no. 22) to Sacramento for Marco Belinelli

Charlotte Analysis:

The Hornets seemed unenthused with this draft class and opted to just add heat-check specialist Marco Belinelli to the team's new gunning philosophy. Belinelli had a terrible season for Sacramento last season but getting him to shoot will not be an issue for Steve Clifford. Looks like Jeremy Lamb should look for a real estate agent.


Grade: D (Never trust a GM who thinks there is no talent available in the draft. Yes, Billy King, that refers to you especially.)

Chicago Transactions:

· Picked Denzel Valentine, SG, Michigan St. (no. 14)
· Picked Paul Zipser, SF, Bayern Munich (Germany) (no. 48)

Chicago Analysis:

The Bulls made most of their noise outside the draft by dealing Cameron Bairstow for 6'6" lead guard Spencer Dinwiddie and engaging in some other minor trade regarding some former NBA MVP. Therefore, Chicago decided to treat the draft relatively straightforward by picking Valentine and Zipser, two safe older wings who could help give the team some perimeter shooting. Valentine's court vision will be a welcome added bonus to his long range shooting with a very recent vacancy of proven ball-handlers on the Bulls roster. It remains to be seen if he will be athletic enough to fully maximize that tool and also not create troubling matchup issues for Chicago on the defensive end.

Luckily, Chicago has restocked its roster with point guards with defensive upside, hopefully allowing Valentine to stick on weaker perimeter threats. Zipser has decent 3-and-D potential as a combo forward and may pleasantly surprise Chi-Town spectators as a rookie. Zipser could easily end up better than lottery pick Taurean Prince, for instance. Grade: B (Perhaps, Chicago could have strived for more upside with their picks, but as long as Jimmy Butler remains in Chicago, immediate contributors will likely be necessary.)


Cleveland Transactions:

· Traded $2.4 million for the rights to Kay Felder, PG, Oakland (no. 54)

Cleveland Analysis:

Kudos to anyone in the Cavaliers organization who decided to quit partying long enough to still work out some draft deal discussions. Spending over $2 million on Felder practically guarantees Kay a roster spot for next season so congrats to him. He may offer more joy to Cleveland as an uber-athletic mini-Bledsoe off the bench. The Felder trade also acts as another jab at Draymond Green, who is a long-time friend of Felder.

Grade: A- (Pssh, like anyone should be concerned about Dan Gilbert overpaying for anything)

Detroit Transactions:

· Picked Henry Ellenson, PF, Marquette (no. 18)
· Picked Michael Gbinije, SG, Syracuse (no. 49)

Detroit Analysis:

No one understands the value of stretch bigs more than Stan Van Gundy and, if Ellenson succeeds in the NBA, it will happen exactly in that role. Ellenson has legit size to play the 5 and arguably would be most apt to play most minutes at center. Too bad there's a certain Andre Drummond that complicates any hopes for that. Therefore, Ellenson will have to prove he can move his feet well enough to keep up with the increasing number of small-ball 4s in the league. Ellenson also needs to prove his 29% 3pt mark at Marquette was a fluke. Ellenson should benefit from the more rigid role he will likely obtain under SVG. The bit role may cut down on the poor shot selection that contributed to Ellenson's disappointing shooting numbers as a freshman. If he cuts some weight and unlocks some possible latent athletic potential, his lateral quickness worries may dissipate too. Some serious flaws to fix but if fixed, Detroit will then be looking at a steal with their 18th pick.

Gbinije may be a rookie but he nearly could be considered a veteran on this Detroit roster as he's older than Andre Drummond, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Tobias Harris, and Stanley Johnson. SVG will again be hoping to find a coveted 3-and-D wing in Gbinije, although the track record of finding good defenders from Syracuse remains rancid.

Grade: B- (Ellenson has his worries in terms of fit on a NBA roster but his skill level is worth the risk if SVG is confident in being able to carve out a role for him. Gbinije will have a role easy enough to slot into but he has his own worries in terms of fulfilling it aptly.)

Indiana Transactions:

· Traded the rights to Caris LeVert, SG, Michigan (no. 20) to Brooklyn for Thaddeus Young
· Picked Georges Niang, PF, Iowa St. (no. 50)

Indiana Analysis:

Thad Young is basically an average starting power forward in the NBA. That's no knock on Young since obtaining an average starter to add to the flimsy Indiana front-court depth certainly shouldn't hurt. Young comes to Hoosierland on a reasonable long-term contract and a mean low-post game. Young is one of the more effective players in the league at operating within 3 to 10 feet from the rim and can hopefully complement Myles Turner's perimeter shooting well.

Niang may make up for any floor spacing at the 4 that Young won't provide, but it remains to be seen if he can get his shot off easily against NBA athletes. It's not a smart bet to assume he'll be able to guard many of those NBA athletes on the perimeter either.

Grade: B- (Compounding the Young trade with the Jeff Teague-George Hill swap, it remains to be seen if Indiana's needle has shifted much if any into the positive. Indiana may find itself with some startling defensive worries.)

Miami Transactions:

· Nah, fam

Miami Analysis:

Pat Riley does not like the NBA draft very much. Grade: N/A (Riley will probably find an UDFA who will score 9 points a game off the bench next season, anyway)

Milwaukee Transactions:

· Picked Thon Maker, PF, Athlete Institute (Sudan) (no. 10)
· Picked Malcolm Brogdon, SG, Virginia (no. 36)
· Traded the rights to Patrick McCaw, SG, UNLV (no. 38) for cash

Milwaukee Analysis:

Milwaukee made the surprise of the draft (besides arguably the Ibaka trade) by making YouTube legend Thon Maker a lottery pick. Maker has had a tumultuous saga on his path to the NBA with his unique decision to forgo the NCAA. Despite his hype as a potential 7'1" John Wall, Maker has settled into being a complete enigma as for what type of role he can fill at a high level. Maker's jumper is worrisome and his handle is only impressive for a 7'1" human being, not impressive in general. More concerning is Maker hasn't demonstrated much of an instinctual feel or awareness for what he should do on the court. That may rectify with the tutelage of a NBA organization and more intensive practice. One thing is certain with the Thon Maker pick, though. The Bucks definitely love their wingspans.


Brogdon projects as a boring but extremely useful 3-and-D wing. He will need his jumper to stay consistent with the NBA arc arriving. And again with Milwaukee, HE HAS WINGSPAN! McCaw could've offered another 3-and-D potential option but again, cash talks.

Grade: C- (Maker may not have the ceiling many would hope for his highlights and he's not likely to contribute for years to come. A lot of risk for a top 10 pick seen as a reach. Brogdon may be a sleeper to be a better contributor than Maker for their careers.)

New York Transactions:

· The Rose trade was enough action for one week.

New York Analysis:

Take a load off, Phil. Grade: N/A (Sometimes the best pick is the one you don't get to jeer and await disappointment from.)

Orlando Transactions:

· Traded the rights to Domantas Sabonis, C, Gonzaga (no. 11), Ersan Ilyasova, and Victor Oladipo for Serge Ibaka
· Picked Stephen Zimmerman, C, UNLV (no. 41)
· Traded the rights to Jake Layman, PF, Maryland (no. 47) for a 2019 2nd round pick and cash

Orlando Analysis:

Woo, boy! Now, Serge Ibaka in Orlando definitely comes with concerns. Ibaka would likely have to play center much more than he had in OKC with the franchise golden calf Aaron Gordon entrenched at the 4 in Disney World. More worryingly, Ibaka exits a troubling regular season that necessitated a strong bounce-back in the playoffs. He seemed a step slower and more limited than past years, despite still being in the middle of his prime. Ibaka is going to be quite expensive after this season as a UFA and could easily be a one-and-done candidate.  Ibaka clearly upgrades on Oladipo and Ilyasova, even if he's his 2015-16 regular season self. Whether the upgrade will hold relevant in the long-term remains to be seen.

Zimmerman represents a cheap, low-risk attempt to get another young Ibaka-esque big. Zimmerman will need to hope a professional training regiment and some D-League experience can get him far.

Grade: C- (Acquiring Ibaka exemplifies a good coup with puzzling timing. Zimmerman might not be any good but he could be very, very good if he is good.)

Philadelphia Transactions:

· Picked Ben Simmons, PF, LSU (no. 1)
· Picked Timothé Luwawu, SF, Mega Leks (France) (no. 24)
· Picked Furkan Korkmaz, SG, Anadolu Efes (Turkey) (no. 26)

Philadelphia Analysis:

Philly did not resolve the massive surplus of young bigs in the organization with any trades at the draft. But Colangelo certainly tried his best with all indications. So Ben Simmons may still find room crowded on the court when he jerseys up in November. However, injecting Ben Simmons into the Sixers' diseased body instantly alleviates many of the talent dearth symptoms that have plagued Philadelphia for years. Ingram may have made for an easier fit in roster construction but many improbable scenarios would need to occur in order to prevent Simmons from becoming a future top 25 player. Players who can combine elite finishing at the rim with elite passing seldom come around. Simmons being able to shoot a three and play consistent defense would calm more nerves, though, and raise many more ceilings.

Philly then got tremendous value in the back half of the first round with two international wings with roster flexibility in Luwawu and Korkmaz. Luwawu offers a potential 3-and-D wing with the intriguing wrinkle of possible playmaking off the dribble. Luwawu has yet to exhibit these tools with enough consistency to enable 100% confidence in their NBA translation. Still, the idea of a diet Iguodala (shout-out to Brian Schroeder (@cosmis) for the comparison) is too tantalizing to let him slip farther than 24th.

Korkmaz offers Philly a possible super-shooter on a team that starves for as much space as possible. Whether he could defend adequately in the NBA is a more dubious question to consider, but again, not a preventative question.

Grade: A (If Philly found a way to deal Okafor away, they would have gotten an A+)

Toronto Transactions:

· Picked Jakob Poeltl, C, Utah (no. 9)
· Picked Pascal Siakam, PF, New Mexico St. (no. 27)

Toronto Analysis:

Poeltl could offer an instant upgrade over the departing Bismack Biyombo at backup center as a rookie. Poeltl profiles almost as a more mobile Jonas Valanciunas stylistically. Poeltl showcased impressive propensity to analyze and slide his feet guarding pick and rolls. His 7'3" wingspan and 9'3" standing reach contribute decently to protecting the rim as a solid if not explosive athlete. That solid athleticism and his giant hands also allow Poeltl to stress opposing defenses as a great roller and above-average low-post threat offensively. Poeltl should continue to add strength to his frame but he covers for his occasional disadvantages with stellar motor and willingness to bang physically with other bigs. Sometimes, that motor results in Poeltl exhausting himself fairly quickly so improved conditioning will be a must to Poeltl's long-term development. Poeltl's game doesn't look the sexiest and spending a lottery pick on at least a short-term backup can be dubious value. Yet Poeltl can be a rare NBA center to offer positive impact on both ends of the floor.

Siakim needs to adjust out of the zone-heavy defensive system he played in at New Mexico St. and get more mileage out of his budding jumper. But Siakim also plays with a ton of energy and brings impressive mobility and length. Siakim and Poeltl could own the glass for Toronto's bench units.

Grade: B (A Poeltl stan wrote this so others may be less enthused, but Toronto should find their bench to still be a team strength next season)

Washington Transactions:

· Nope.

Washington Analysis:

Keep waiting on that Bradley Beal breakout season, Wizards fans. Grade: N/A (I hear Durant doesn't like rookies anyway)