Eastern Conference Draft Grades

The NBA Draft was action packed with draft rights transactions, surprising selections, and franchise defining steals. All throughout the league teams were on the clock looking to find their opportunity to establish an identity, improve their roster, and potentially find a cornerstone player to revolve their franchises around.

The Eastern Conference found great success in this year’s draft class with Trae Young, Mo Bamba, Wendell Carter Jr., Collin Sexton, and Kevin Knox highlighting five of the top 10 picks in the draft. (Here are the Western Conference’s grades.)

Without further-a-do here are the draft grades for the clubs in the East:

Atlanta Hawks

1st Round: Trae Young (Acquired from Mavericks), Kevin Huerter (19th), Omari Spellman (30th)

2nd Round: N/A

Draft Grade: A

The Report: Originally drafting Luka Doncic, the Hawks traded for Young. The Hawks received a first-round pick from the Dallas Mavericks that is top five protected. Young along with the drafting of Huerter and Spellman improves their weakness of outside shooting that they heavily lacked last season. A great draft for ATL and a bright future ahead of these young hawks.

Boston Celtics

1st Round: Robert Williams III (27th)

2nd Round: N/A

Draft Grade: B

The Report: A quiet draft night for Boston, but a productive one at that. The Celtics lacked depth at the center and power forward position in their surprising playoff run. The excellence of Brad Stevens was on full display in the postseason, and best believe Williams brings something to the table for the Celtics. A shot blocker and leaper, offensively, Williams will prove his worth in Bean Town as a valuable spark plug off the bench backing up Al Horford.

Brooklyn Nets

1st Round: Dzanan Musa (29th)

2nd Round: Rodions Kurucs (40th)

Draft Grade: C+

The Report: After trading away a boatload of assets in draft picks for a outdated Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett in 2013, the Nets were trying to salvage a disaster made years ago. In a pick they got from the DeMarre Carroll being traded, the Nets used the 29th pick and selected Musa, a European small forward who has a high ceiling as a scorer. Second round pick Kurucs may be better than Musa right now. The Nets are still without an identity and these draft picks don’t change that.

Charlotte Hornets

1st Round: Miles Bridges (Acquired from Clippers)

2nd Round: Devonte Graham (Acquired from Hawks), Arnoldas Kulboka (55th)

Draft Grade: C-

The Report: The Hornets get a highly explosive athlete in Bridges who was one of the most NBA ready players in the draft. The roster needed a point guard and elected to trade Shai Gilgegous-Alexander for a pair of second-rounders. Devonte Graham will be a formidable backup point guard, but not an earth shattering prospect. The Hornets are in full rebuild mode after trading Dwight Howard and are currently shopping Kemba Walker.

Chicago Bulls

1st Round: Wendell Carter Jr. (7th), Chandler Hutchison (22nd)

2nd Round: N/A

Draft Grade: B-

The Report: Chicago found a defender who can co-exist with the offensively gifted Lauri Markkanen. The duo will be a matchup nightmare for teams that protect the rim as both can spread the floor. Carter Jr. will be the building block big man who can be valued as a defensive anchor, as well as an offensive weapon.  Hutchison will be competing for a rotational spot, but a decent pick up late in the first round. A solid job by the team in the Windy City.

Cleveland Cavaliers

1st Round: Colin Sexton (8th)

2nd Round: N/A

Draft Grade: B

The Report: The raging young bull is going to “Believe Land” in hopes of the king returning to his throne. Sexton could be the competitive fire that Cleveland lacks. Sexton’s could very well emulate the scoring prowess Kyrie Irving used to offer the Cavs. Micheal Porter Jr. does have more upside, but he was a risk too great to take. Sexton, whether LeBron James stays or goes will be a beloved player for years to come in north Ohio.

Detroit Pistons

1st Round: N/A

2nd Round: Khyri Thomas (Acquired from 76ers), Bruce Brown Jr. (42nd)

Draft Grade: A-

The Report: After trading away their first-round draft pick to the Clippers in return for Blake Griffin, the Pistons decided to trade with Philadelphia for point guard Thomas who is an energy guy who can play both ends of the floor at a high level. Projected as a late first-rounder on most mock draft boards, Thomas can very well help and solve the point guard dispute in Detroit with Reggie Jackson. Along with Bruce Brown Jr., the Pistons have pieces in the backcourt that can help carry the load for their All-Star caliber big men.

Indiana Pacers

1st Round: Aaron Holiday (23rd)

2nd Round: Alize Johnson (50th)

Draft Grade: B+

The Report: The Pacers got an exceptional point guard in Holiday. A player who can play both as the lead and off guard, he can carry the offensive load in the second unit while also working as a shooter in the first unit with Victor Oladipo leading the charge. Johnson is a solid big man for a roster that is big man heavy. Overall, Holiday will be the highlight for Indiana this draft and potentially be their point guard for the future.

Miami Heat

1st Round: N/A

2nd Round: N/A

Draft Grade: C

The Report: The Heat did not participate in the 2018 NBA draft. Their first round pick was dealt to Phoenix in the return for Goran Dragic back in 2015. Take it as a negative with no sudden improvement on the current roster, but at least they will not have to spend any money. The Heat are still a destination for the LeBron James sweepstakes.

Milwaukee Bucks

1st Round: Donte DiVincenzo (17th)

2nd Round: N/A

Draft Grade: A-

The Report: The NCAA Final Four Most Outstanding Player will be landing in deer country ready to score and shoot lights out from deep. DiVincenzo can step in at either guard position and provide instant offense off the bench. He will be competing with Malcolm Brogdon and Eric Bledsoe for minutes, but his shooting ability will earn him playtime as  a reliable deep threat for Giannis Antetokounmpo. A great drafting from the Bucks building around The Greek Freak.

New York Knicks

1st Round: Kevin Knox (9th)

2nd Round: Mitchell Robinson (36th)

Draft Grade: B+

The Report: The boo birds came to Barclays as the Knicks selected Knox. Knicks fans were hoping for their wing man to be Porter Jr., but Knox is far from a settlement. He is the second youngest player in the draft at just 18 years old. He is a natural scorer and a big body. He might not possess as much upside as Porter, but his lack of injury history is a characteristic that edges him over Porter. Knox along with a first-round talent in Mitchell Robinson made for a solid draft night for the Manhattan squad.

Orlando Magic

1st Round: Mo Bamba (6th)

2nd Round: Melvin Frazier (35th), Justin Jackson (Acquired from Nuggets)

Draft Grade: A

The Report: Given that Nikola Vucivic is being shopped by the Magic, Bamba is a wonderful big man to fit with Jonathan Issac and Aaron Gordon. His size and polished skills are things the Magic have been lacking the past couple of seasons. Bamba can go amongst the names of Shaquille O’Neal and Dwight Howard as the top big men in franchise history. 

Philadelphia 76ers

1st Round: Zhaire Smith (Acquired from Suns)

2nd Round: Shake Milton (Acquired from Mavericks)

Draft Grade: C+

The Report: The Sixers were in dire need of reliable outside shooting for Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz to use as weapons. Their original pick with Bridges and it seemed like a match made in heaven for the Sixers and the hometown native. But the Sixers had other plans trading for Smith and the Miami Heat’s 2020 first-round draft pick. Smith will be looking for minutes in the rotation, but the real reason for the trade was for the draft pick. Milton is a proven shooter who can spread the floor and put up points for the second unit. Not bad compensation for trading away Bridges. Overall, an investment in the future as the process continues.

Toronto Raptors

1st Round: N/A

2nd Round: N/A

Draft Grade: C

The Report: As well as the Heat, the Raptors were left with no draft picks. As a pessimist, the argument can be made that the Raptors did not improve their roster this year. But as an optimist, the Raptors didn’t give up anything for not participating. Toronto gave up their first round pick in the Carroll trade to get his $15 million per year contract off their books. Relinquishing 29th pick of the draft, Musa, seemed necessary for the Raptors salary space moving into a monumental offseason.

Washington Wizards

1st Round: Troy Brown Jr. (15th)

2nd Round: Issuf Sanon (44th)

Draft Grade: D+

The Report: Washington needed to capitalize with a big man in this year’s draft and it seemed like they went the opposite direction. Brown Jr. is a solid wing scorer who can put the ball on the floor and jump out the gym, but he is not better than Bradley Beal or Otto Porter just yet. Sanon will be positioned as a third string point guard behind John Wall and Tomas Satoransky. The Wiz had the opportunity to take Robert Williams III just outside of the lottery or even trade up for a blue chip talented big man. Overall, a disappointing and unsuccessful draft night for the nation’s capital.

With standout prospects from the college circuit entering the NBA, whats left to see is the prospects performances in the NBA Summer League. 

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