Western Conference Draft Grades

The 2018 NBA Draft was pretty much what everyone expected through the first two picks until Atlanta and Dallas decided to shake things up at three. From there, things started to get interesting .

Indeed, the Western conference welcomed in an influx of talent too. There were some surprises as Denver watched maybe the best player in the draft fall right into their lap, Phoenix stashed not one but two top 10 players, and Portland drafted a high schooler.

The draft might not offer a chance for championship contenders to improve, but it offers hope for the bottom dwellers in the association. (Here are the Eastern Conference’s grades).

With that being said, here are the draft grades for the teams in the western hemisphere:

Dallas Mavericks

1st Round: Luka Doncic (acquired from Hawks)

2nd Round: Jalen Brunson (3rd), Ray Spalding (acquired from Sixers), Kostas Antetokounmpo (acquired from Sixers)

Draft Grade: A

The Report: Harrison Barnes? Solid, but not quite a star. Dennis Smith Jr.? Talented with the potential to become a star, but is he a generational talent? Probably not. Life after Dirk Nowitzki, LAD, was a concern for Dallas. Now, with Doncic they have a player that many believes will be not only the best player in the draft, but maybe the best foreign-born player ever.

Brunson should fit in nicely as he comes from a winning program, so he is used to taking direction. Spalding and Antetokounmpo, the younger brother of Giannis, will hope to make the team.

Denver Nuggets

1st Round: Michael Porter Jr. (14th)

2nd Round: Jarred Vanderbilt (acquired from Magic), Thomas Welsh (28th)

Draft Grade: B+

The Report: The Nuggets desperately needed a small forward with Wilson Chandler aging and Will Barton testing the market. Porter’s health will be a big concern for the next few years as he could miss the entire upcoming season. However, if he bounces back, the Nuggets could have the best player and the biggest steal all in one with MPJ.

Vanderbilt is a tweener, but his defensive versatility and hustle plays will rub off on a Denver squad that needed a few more effort plays to creep in the playoffs last year.

Golden State Warriors

1st Round: Jacob Evans (28th)

2nd Round: N/A

Draft Grade: B

The Report: This is one of those picks that will help increase the longevity of Golden State’s reign of terror. Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston are two playmaking point forwards, essentially, that defend and they are not getting any younger. Evans is someone that could stand to learn from them as well as the likes of savvy defenders in Klay Thompson and Draymond Green.

Evans could earn a role immediately as a defender with his propensity to blanket the opposition like a newborn baby. He has the mechanics to develop into a consistent three-point shooter as he shot 37.7 percent for his career at Cincinnati. I like him to develop into a Kent Bazemore-esque player as he is sound in every aspect of the game.

Houston Rockets

1st Round: N/A

2nd Round: De’Anthony Melton (16th), Vince Edwards (acquired from Jazz)

Draft Grade: B-

The Report: The Rockets are in “win now” mode and they could hardly add to that with no first-round pick. However, Melton and Edwards are reminiscent of a former and current set of Houston players in Patrick Beverley and Trevor Ariza.

Melton is a defensive-minded guard with a shaky handle to say the least. His shot is not broke, but he did not hit a high percentage of looks from deep in 2017 at USC (28.4 percent). Edwards, on the other hand, is a lanky wing player that fits the 3-and-d mold as well.

Los Angeles Clippers

1st Round: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (acquired from Hornets), Jerome Robinson (13th)

2nd Round: N/A

Draft Grade: B+

The Report: With Milos Teodosic potentially being bought out and Lou Williams always in trade rumors, the Clippers went ahead and addressed to areas of concern in their backcourt.

Gilgeous-Alexander has a little bit of Shaun Livingston as well as Tyreke Evans in his game.Robinson is a professional bucket getter. Who better to learn from than the scoring machine that is Lou Will? Los Angeles have to be hoping their young bucks will be better than their crosstown rival.

Los Angeles Lakers

1st Round: Moritz Wagner (25th)

2nd Round: Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (17th)

Draft Grade: C+

The Report: Robert Williams was on the board and I thought he was the better choice here. The Lakers need more resistance and rim running to go with Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma. Wagner does play with high energy and can space the floor, but he is a liability defensively. In addition, he does not attack the pumpkin when it comes off the cylinder. They did get a shooter in Mykhailiuk who could help improve their 29th ranked three-point shooting.

Memphis Grizzlies

1st Round: Jaren Jackson Jr. (4th)

2nd Round: Jevon Carter (2nd)

Draft Grade: A

The Report: The Grizzlies are a team that has the paper talent to make the playoffs, but injuries derailed them a year ago. They got the big man they needed in Jackson and Carter provides them with another option behind Mike Conley. The Memphis organization is in a position where they can compete for the playoffs or retool with Jackson as the cornerstone.

Minnesota Timberwolves

1st Round: Josh Okogie (20th)

2nd Round: Keita Bates-Diop (18th)

Draft Grade: B

The Report: Given Tom Thibodeau’s history with rookies, these two will see little-to-no action unless they are dialed in as defenders. Down the line, Okogie and Bates-Diop figure to develop into prominent two-way players. Okogie is more of an off-ball scorer while Bates-Diop can score in a variety of ways.

New Orleans Pelicans

1st Round: N/A

2nd Round: Tony Carr

Draft Grade: C

The Report: They traded their first rounder to the Chicago Bulls for Nikola Mirotic and he is the reason why this grade is not lower.

Carr averaged 19.6 points in college, but it was not due athletic ability or a crafty scoring repertoire. It was due to his 6’5 frame. That will be tough to replicate in the NBA unless he develops offensively, but he has the makeup to become a defensive dynamo.

Oklahoma City Thunder

1st Round: N/A

2nd Round: Devon Hall (23rd), Kevin Hervey (27th)

Draft Grade: C-

The Report: OKC is another team that does not favor rookies. Hall and Hervey will be scratching and clawing to earn a roster spot too despite having value as three-point shooters. Hall offers more to the Thunder as he can handle the ball and play defense. Retaining Paul George is more important anyway for OKC.

Phoenix Suns

1st Round: Deandre Ayton (1st), Mikal Bridges (acquired from Suns)

2nd Round: Elie Okobo, George King (acquired from Raptors)

Draft Grade: A+

The Report: The Suns got the player they coveted all along in Ayton. He averaged a 20 and 10 double double in his lone season at Arizona. Ayton’s stroke speaks volumes as he has the mechanics to develop into a three-point marksman despite averaging only .3 field goals made from deep. They drafted Zhaire Smith and flipped him for Bridges who should bring more defense to Phoenix on the perimeter.

The Suns really helped Igor Kokoskov in getting these guys as he has plenty of potential lineups he could create with wings like Devin Booker, Josh Jackson, TJ Warren, and now Bridges. Adding Okobo in the second rounder gives them a project player who can shoot at point guard. If he can develop as a facilitator, the Suns might have a steal.

Portland Trailblazers

1st Round: Anfernee Simons

2nd Round: Gary Trent Jr. (acquired from Kings)

Draft Grade: C

The Report: Simons is a developmental piece that could pay off for the Blazers at 6’3 and 180 pounds. He is uber athletic. With his frame similar to CJ McCollum and aerial resourcefulness like Damian Lillard, Simons should prosper behind the Blazers’ starting backcourt. He will need a year or two in the G-League having come out of high school against less-than-stellar competition.

In Trent, Portland got a player that can fill it up from deep as he averaged 2.6 three-pointers made at Duke. He is an adequate defender, but after that he is very limited. He could prove to be useful right away.

San Antonio Spurs

1st Round: Lonnie Walker IV (18th)

2nd Round: Chimezie Metu (19th)

Draft Grade: B

The Report: The Spurs needed to get young both on the perimeter and down low. They did just that with Walker and Metu. The first order of work for these two youngsters will be defensively and finding other ways to impact the game other than scoring as Gregg Popovich values those things. That should not be hard as the two players are quick-twitch players and have shown spurts of defensive prowess.

Sacramento Kings

1st Round: Marvin Bagley III (2nd)

2nd Round: N/A

Draft Grade: A-

The Report: Instead of crowding the backcourt with Doncic or Young, the Kings wised up and got the second best big in Bagley. He is reminiscent of Chris Bosh with the demeanor and athleticism of Amar’e Stoudemire. His fierce and tenacious play could change the culture in California’s capital. He is a walking double double as he finished the season with 22 of them.

Utah Jazz

1st Round: Grayson Allen

2nd Round: N/A

Draft Grade: B+

The Report: Utah could use another scorer and a player that could provide some kick off the bench. Allen could be just that for the defensive-oriented squad. He provides a lot of the same skills as Donovan Mitchell and the two appeared to hit it off immediately after Utah drafted him. Allen has a tendency to force the issue at times and plays defense like he is stuck in quick sand.

Overall, he should fit right in as he is a winner and team-oriented despite the on-court antics that plagued him as a Blue Devil. Defensively? He should be fine with that Rudy Gobert guy behind him.

There is a lot to be excited about for the young teams in the West. On the contrary, the cream of the crop have to be excited about the player(s) they added as sometimes those young players can provide a new element to the team.

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