2020 NBA Draft Grades

  • With no clear cut superstars in this draft it was impossible to project which direction each team would go. There were a few surprises and a few head scratching choices but now that we have the answers let’s take a look at what each player will bring to their respective franchises and dish out grades based solely on the players that were acquired on draft night.

    Minnesota Timberwolves

    Picks: Anthony Edwards (1), Leandro Bolmaro (23 via NYK), Jaden McDaniels (28 via OKC)

    Grade: B+

    Just prior to going on the clock, reports were flying that Minnesota was still looking to move the first overall pick and although they could not find a partner to slide out of the top spot, they remained active on the phones all night, wheeling and dealing for more picks and Ricky Rubio. Edwards seemed to be Minnesota’s man for some time now and even though a lot of questions surround his overall potential and feel for the game, he has the size and athleticism to be a legitimate NBA scoring threat alongside DLo and KAT. Landing Bolmaro and McDaniels will provide depth, but both of these players are a long way from finished products. It will be interesting to see how Ryan Saunders splits the ball-handling work for Rubio and Russell but in theory the addition of Rubio solidifies their backcourt.

    Golden State Warriors

    Picks: James Wiseman (2), Nico Mannion (48 via DAL), Justinian Jessup (51 via UTA)

    Grade: A

    Within hours of the draft, the disappointing news regarding Klay Thompson’s lower leg injury broke and speculation about what Golden State would do with the pick began to circulate. Put in a tough spot, Golden State decided on Wiseman and instantly cleared up any questions regarding their starting center position. He will slide right in and be a difference-maker roaming the paint alongside Draymond Green. Mannion, who was once a potential lottery pick, is a great value pick for the Warriors mid-way through the second round. He struggled towards the end of his lone season at Arizona, while also dealing with a back injury, but could be a decent combo-guard option off the bench. Jessup was a slight surprise but his scoring and shooting ability will fit in well with Golden State’s gameplan. He’s already committed to playing in Australia next season so we won’t see him for at least a year.

    Charlotte Hornets

    Picks: LaMelo Ball (3), Vernon Carey (32 via CLE), Nick Richards (42 via NO), Grant Riller (56 via BOS)

    Grade: B+

    Ball was a no-brainer at this spot and will bring some much needed excitement to Buzz City. Outside of some defensive concerns, Ball has star potential and will help improve the young core Charlotte already has in place. Both Carey and Richards were questionable picks at their respective spot,s with both going slightly higher than anticipated. Neither big has any variation of an outside game and will shore up any holes Charlotte has down low. Riller was a steal at this point in the draft and is a dynamic playmaker that will be fighting for minutes immediately.

    Chicago Bulls

    Picks: Patrick Williams (4), Marko Simonovic (44)

    Grade: C

    This was slightly higher than most had projected for Williams, who is a physical specimen and projects to be a 3-and-D specialist. The one problem is he has not figured out the “3” part of that equation. He has a lot of work to do on the offensive end before this pick earns its value. How he fits with Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr. is a question, but both players have been named in trade rumors recently so we could see one on the move sooner rather than later. It will most likely be a few years before we see Simonovic in the States but the Serbian big man has a combination of size and athleticism that could make him an interesting role player down the road.

    Cleveland Cavaliers

    Picks: Isaac Okoro (5)

    Grade: A-

    With only one pick in the draft the Cavaliers made sure to fill the gaping hole they have at the wing position. Okoro will provide much needed defense, something the Cavs lack mightily. His offensive game still needs work, especially his shooting and scoring, but he has the size and athleticism to be a decent NBA wing. Cleveland has a logjam both in the backcourt and in the paint, leaving Okoro with an ample opportunity to earn significant minutes right out of the gate.

    Atlanta Hawks

    Picks: Onyeka Okongwu (6), Skylar Mays (50 via MIA)

    Grade: C+

    The Hawks have an abundance of players at every position, so it was unclear which direction they would go in this draft. Taking Okongwu was not what many had projected as he brings a lot of what Clint Capela already provides the team. He will be a steady backup for Capela and will be able to play alongside John Collins, but Atlanta could have done better if they went in a different direction here. Mays is an athletic combo guard with the scoring and shooting ability that will fit in with Atlanta’s young core of guards and wings.

    Detroit Pistons

    Picks: Killian Hayes (7),  Isaiah Stewart (16 via POR), Saddiq Bey (19 via BKN), Saben Lee (38 via UTA)

    Grade: C+

    Detroit was moving and shaking all night, making deals and swapping picks but they were unable to pick up anyone to write home about. After dealing Luke Kennard to the Clippers, shooting and playmaking was at the forefront of Detroit’s needs. They ended up with four players, and none of them filled that need. Questions regarding Hayes’ athletic ability and scoring prowess make him questionable to be able to run a team, though he should be a capable facilitator.

    Stewart is a throwback big who is too small to bang in the post, and does not possess the speed or overall game to play as a stretch four; all in all he was a reach at this spot. Bey could be an NBA-ready wing and would have been better suited on a team with the foundation of a rotation already set but he does not have the ability to make plays or score on his own, lowering his overall value. Coming into the draft, we were unsure if Lee would even have his name called, so trading back into the second round to pick him is also a massive stretch.

    The Pistons are looking to tear down and rebuild, so this crop of young guys could find themselves in bigger roles over the next few weeks.

    New York Knicks

    Picks: Obi Toppin (8), Immanuel Quickley (25 via MIN)

    Grade: C-

    The one thing the Knicks did not need was an offensive-minded power forward and that’s exactly what they got with Toppin. The NCAA National Player of the Year gained recognition at Dayton through his high-flying dunks and scoring ability, but has proven he is not capable of guarding anyone anywhere on the court. How he will fit next to Julius Randle is a complete mystery and leads us to believe Leon Rose is looking to dump Randle at some point in the near future. It’s not all bad as the 22-year-old, New York-born Toppin will provide some excitement for Knicks fans with his NBA-ready offensive game.

    Instead of filling a glaring need for a point guard or playmaker they decided to solidify their University of Kentucky connection and select SEC Player of the Year Immanuel Quickley. He is an undersized sharpshooter who will fill their desperate need for shooting but does not bring anything else to the table. Expect the Knicks, as usual, to attempt to make a splash in free agency to fill the remaining holes. Until then New York’s revamped player development department will have their hands full as they attempt to make something out of these picks.

    Washington Wizards

    Picks: Deni Avidja (9), Cassius Winston (53 via OKC)

    Grade: B

    Like many, Washington probably did not expect Avidja to be on the board at this point. Regarded as the top European in the class, there are some question marks regarding his overall ability and the lack of production against the competition he faced overseas. He should fit well with Washington, where they will not ask him to do too much alongside ball-dominant players such as John Wall and Bradley Beal. Winston was a great grab for the Wizards that late in the draft and will be a steady-handed floor general off the bench.

    Phoenix Suns

    Picks: Jalen Smith (10)

    Grade: C-

    The first major surprise in the draft was Smith cracking the top-10. It does not make much sense for Phoenix, who took their franchise center first overall just two years ago. Solidifying your backup center with a top-10 pick is a questionable move with the amount of talent still on the board.

    San Antonio Spurs

    Picks: Devin Vassell (11), Tre Jones (41)

    Grade: A

    Vassell is a player that could fit on any team in the league and San Antonio fans will enjoy having him for the years to come. The quintessential 3-and-D prototype is already an NBA-caliber defender and has the tools to be a legitimate knockdown shooter. Surprisingly he fell this far considering he could have made an immediate impact on a few top-10 teams but Gregg Popovich will bring out the best in him and he will fit perfectly into the Spurs system. San Antonio, who is known for their player development and finding value in overlooked players, may have found their next piece with Tre Jones. He is a smart, safe point guard with the ability to hit threes and lock up around the perimeter. Jones won both the ACC Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year Awards but it could be argued Vassell was both the best player and defender in the conference.

    Sacramento Kings

    Picks: Tyrese Haliburton (12), Jahmi’us Ramsey (43)

    Grade: B+

    The Kings were probably surprised to see Haliburton’s name still on the board when they were on the clock, but they are happy it was. He will play both guard positions and will have no problem being a secondary ball handler to De’Aaron Fox. He is not the knockdown, volume shooter Bogdan Bogdanovic and Buddy Hield are but he can hit an open shot and create for himself. With Bogdanovic and Hield both possibly on the move, the minutes will be available for Haliburton to step right into the lineup. Ramsey is the dead-eye shooter Haliburton isn’t, but still has a lot of work to do before he can be a rotation player in the NBA. He probably would have been better off staying another year at Texas Tech for development purposes but the catch-and-shoot ability is already there.

    New Orleans Pelicans

    Picks: Kira Lewis Jr. (13)

    Grade: A-

    Lewis is a speedster that will fit right into the Pelicans rotation and their run-and-gun offense led by Zion Williamson and Lonzo Ball. He will struggle in the halfcourt and will be at his best out on the break. His speed is complemented by his shooting ability and he will have to be respected as more than just a penetrator. As of now, the Pelicans are extremely guard-heavy with Lewis becoming the fourth point guard on the roster so it’s safe to assume Eric Bledsoe or George Hill will be on the move soon.

    Boston Celtics

    Picks: Aaron Nesmith (14 via MEM), Payton Pritchard (26), Yam Madar (47 via BKN)

    Grade: C+

    A very uneventful draft for the Celtics. Over the past few years they have prioritized length, athleticism and toughness with their picks and this year they went in the opposite direction. Nesmith is regarded as one of the best pure shooters in the draft but his college numbers could be somewhat inflated based on a relatively small sample size. Outside of shooting, he does not do much else. It is hard to see where he fits in on a deep, guard-loaded Celtics team. To that same point, Pritchard was a surprise late in the first round. Boston does have a need for a backup point guard, but they could have addressed it with a few better options that were still on the board. A 19-year-old Israeli, Madar is a work in progress and probably will not see time in the NBA for a few years.

    Orlando Magic

    Picks: Cole Anthony (15)

    Grade: A-

    Anthony was a top recruit out of high school and a projected top-5 pick prior to the 2019-20 NCAA season. Injuries and inefficiency dropped his stock in his lone season at UNC but he is still an undersized, uber-talented, combo-guard that has NBA scoring ability. How he fits next to Markelle Fultz will be an interesting proposition but Anthony should be able to come in and make an impact right away, offensively. Athleticism and speed will help him on the defensive end, where he still needs some work but this is an overall strong pick for Steve Clifford and the Magic.

    Dallas Mavericks

    Picks: Josh Green (18), Tyrell Terry (31 via GSW), Tyler Bey (36 via DAL)

    Grade: A

    It was a huge night for the Mavericks. Green is one of the best athletes in the draft and will need to polish his skills to become a good 3-and-D wing, but the foundation is there. Terry is slightly undersized as a combo guard but can play both on or off the ball and will fit next to Luka Doncic as a two-guard or lead the second unit as a facilitator. Dallas was able to get back into the second round, dealing Seth Curry for the 36th pick (Bey) and Josh Richardson. Bey played the majority of his minutes as a power forward in college but has the speed and length to play both forward positions. He does not need the ball to make an impact, and excels at the little things. The Richardson addition provides another playmaker and scorer in the backcourt, something Dallas was in need of during last year’s playoff run.

    Brooklyn Nets

    Picks: Jay Scrubb (55 via DEN)

    Grade: C

    Scrubb, a junior college star, is a lengthy, left-handed scorer who can put it on the deck and get to the rim with ease. He has great size for his position and is still a work in progress but with the amount of talent surrounding him in Brooklyn he might be able to become a decent scorer off the bench somewhere down the line. Brooklyn also landed Landry Shamet from the Clippers, who has proven he has the ability to play both guard spots in a contending rotation.

    Miami Heat

    Picks: Precious Achiuwa (20)

    Grade: A-

    The Heat bypassed their need for a point guard to take a player that will seamlessly fit into the “Heat Culture” we’ve heard so much about over the past few seasons. Achiuwa is extremely versatile and athletic and the thought is he can come off the bench and be another version of Bam Adebayo. Obviously, there is no other Bam, but that’s the idea. He lacks the ability to shoot from just about everywhere, but can switch just about anywhere on defense and is a hellacious rebounder. Erik Spoelstra and company will put him in a position to succeed and he could be seeing significant play in certain matchups.

    Philadelphia 76ers

    Picks: Tyrese Maxey (21 via OKC), Isaiah Joe (49), Paul Reed (58 via LAL)

    Grade: A

    Maxey is an elite finisher at the rim, and a credible on ball defender. He has had shooting woes in the past but his ability to do just about everything else on offense eases those concerns. Joe is a pure catch-and-shoot threat who some had projected close to a first round pick, so scooping him up late in the second is an outstanding value for Philadelphia. Reed was a double-double machine in college and will most likely find his niche in the NBA as a versatile defender. His ability to score won’t be the focal point of his game, but it does not hurt either. On top of the successful draft, Daryl Morey continued to prove his genius. Flipping the Josh Richardson and Al Horford contracts for two floor-spacing shooters in Danny Green and Seth Curry was exactly what Philadelphia needed to take the next step in their championship hunt.

    Denver Nuggets

    Picks: Zeke Nnaji (22 via HOU), RJ Hampton (24 via NO)

    Grade: B-

    Nnaji is a defensive-minded center who is slightly undersized for the position and is an odd selection at this spot. His skill set does not fit Denver’s style of play and they could have gotten more going in a different direction here. Hampton is still a work in progress, but has proven to be a dynamic scorer and above average athlete. Another odd fit for Denver but they have shown over the last two years they are not afraid to take a chance on a talented player even if the fit is not perfect.

    Oklahoma City Thunder

    Picks: Aleksej Pokusevski (17 via MIN), Theo Maledon (34 via ATL), Vit Krejci (37 via WAS)

    Grade: B+

    The Thunder are in complete rebuild mode and Pokusevski is a great home run swing of a pick that fits into their future plans. The 7-foot, 200-pound, 18-year-old has some work to do before he is a real threat but the potential is there for him to be a 7-foot, facilitating wing that can score from anywhere. Maledon will help fill the void left by Chris Paul’s departure as he can handle the ball from either guard position. He will fit nicely next to Shai Gilgeous-Alexander as the backcourt of the future. Krejci can be an impact player at some point down the line, but for now he is still a work in progress and shouldn’t be expected to threaten for a spot for at least a season.

    Utah Jazz

    Picks: Udoka Azubuike (27 via LAC), Elijah Hughes (39 via NO)

    Grade: C

    Azubuike was a dominant college player, but he will have issues translating his game to the NBA. He can dunk just about anything but does not have any other offensive game to speak of. Defensively, he can protect the rim, and only the rim. If he steps out to guard someone on the perimeter or in the midrange he is at a complete disadvantage and his opposition will have no issue blowing right by him. In the long run it is tough to see him being anything more than a backup center. Hughes is a pure scorer who can be an instant offense option off the bench, but the lack of variety in his game will limit him from being much more than that.

    Toronto Raptors

    Picks: Malachi Flynn (29), Jalen Harris (59)

    Grade: B+

    Flynn is the presumptive eventual replacement for Fred VanVleet if he decides to walk in free agency. An elite pick-and-roll player that can make an open shot and thrives creating for his teammates, Flynn will be the day one backup to Kyle Lowry whether FVV is back or not. Harris is a dynamic scorer who can put the ball in the basket from anywhere on the court. He still needs some work rounding out his game but eventually could be a decent option off the bench.

    Memphis Grizzlies

    Picks: Desmond Bane (30 via BOS), Xavier Tillman (35 via SAC), Robert Woodard II (40)

    Grade: A

    Very surprised Bane slipped this far considering his combination of shooting ability and defensive prowess. He can guard either backcourt position, including some smaller wings, and is one of the best shooters in the class. He will fit in perfectly with the young Grizzlies. Excellent value in this spot. Tillman and Woodard are both emerging two-way players that could see decent minutes with the team. Tillman is stuck at the bottom of the depth chart for the team’s bigs but is a smart player who does all the little things, attributes that will endear him to the Memphis fanbase. Woodard has the frame and potential to be a prototypical 3-and-D player. He has the shooting in the bag, knocking down over 42% of his threes in college, but the defense needs some work before he becomes a full time rotation player.

    Milwaukee Bucks

    Picks: Jordan Nwora (45 via ORL), Sam Merrill (60)

    Grade: B+

    Milwaukee used both of their picks to secure players with above average draft value. Both Nwora and Merrill are knockdown shooters who can stretch the floor and will be able to fill in nicely around Giannis Antentokounmpo.

    Portland Trail Blazers

    Picks: CJ Elleby (46)

    Grade: C

    It was a shock Elleby even got drafted, so for his name to be called at 46 was somewhat of a reach. He has a smooth shot from deep and is a tenacious defender but lacks the overall speed and athleticism to make him an immediate impact player.

    Indiana Pacers

    Picks: Cassius Stanley (54)

    Grade: B

    This kid can jump through the roof and is not afraid to defend anyone. His draft projections were all over the map but it was a surprise to see him fall this far, resulting in good value for the Pacers’ only pick of the night. His athleticism is the backbone of his game and gives him the ability to score at the rim and defend anyone along the perimeter. Once he puts together his outside game he has the chance to be a decent rotation option.

    LA Clippers

    Picks: Daniel Oturu (33 via NYK), Reggie Perry (57)

    Grade: B-

    After collapsing in the playoffs a few months ago the Clippers decided to use both their picks to fill out their big man rotation. Oturu and Perry have similar games with both being double-double threats on a nightly basis in college. Each of them has shown the willingness to step outside and stretch the floor and how they progress in that aspect will be the difference-maker. They are both decent rim protectors and were picked more for their defensive attributes than anything else.

    Houston Rockets

    Picks: Kenyon Martin Jr. (52 via SAC)

    Grade: C

    A bit of a gamble on an undersized forward, but he has the NBA pedigree and athleticism of his father. Only a four star recruit out of high school, he still has a lot of room to grow and needs to add a lot to his game in order to stick around in the league.

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