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Draft Grades: Southwest Division

With the 2014 NBA Draft officially in the books, it’s time to take a look back and see how each team used the draft to make improvements and fill needs. I’ve already run down the picks for the Atlantic, Central, Northwest, Pacific, and Southeast Divisions. We’ll finish up with a look at the Southwest Division:

Dallas Mavericks

Team Needs: Small Forward, Point Guard, Depth

Draft Picks:

  •  No picks

The Mavs owed this year’s first-round pick to the Thunder. They also traded last year’s first round selection, Shane Larkin, to the Knicks in the deal last week that netted them Tyson Chandler. Dallas is in win-now mode, and their biggest goal on draft night was to not burn up any cap space that they envision needing to lure Carmelo Anthony or LeBron James to the city. Dallas has tried this plan before and has so far been unable to get a second star or two to pair alongside Dirk Nowitzki.

It’s doubtful the Mavs will miss the second rounder they traded away, but the team has a hole at the point guard spot thanks to the Chandler deal, and the Dallas roster is getting up there in years. Sooner or later they’ll need to acquire some young, cheap depth.

Overall Draft Grade:  D — No picks to work with, but getting Chandler back, two seasons too late though it may be, might ease the sting a little.

Houston Rockets

Team Needs: Defense, Power Forward, Point Guard, Center

Draft Picks:

  •  No. 25 Clint Capela (Power Forward)
  • No. 42 Nick Johnson (Shooting Guard)

The Rockets are another franchise trying to clear cap space for a run at James or Anthony. Taking Capela, who will continue to play overseas for the next couple of seasons, was a smart pick. Capela is incredibly raw, but has off-the-charts athleticism, and has been compared to Serge Ibaka. Capela is a player I was very high on heading into the draft, and he might turn out to be a valuable addition or trade piece in the future.

Johnson was a solid pick. He’s very athletic, can shoot a bit, but he’ll spend more time in the D-League than with the first string this year.

Overall Draft Grade:  C- — Capela is an intriguing prospect and Johnson was a good value pick. The team could have been a bigger player on draft night but instead is hanging its hopes on adding another star to the lineup instead.

Memphis Grizzlies

Team Needs: Small Forward, Point Guard, Scoring

Draft Picks:

  •  No. 22 Jordan Adams (Shooting Guard)
  • No. 35 Jarnell Stokes (Power Forward)*

*Acquired via trade with Jazz for a future second round pick.

I’m not a fan of what the Grizzlies did on draft night. The team badly needs scoring and some athleticism. Adams could provide the scoring, but he won’t blow anyone away with his physical tools. I don’t know if Adams will be able to defend enough to stay on the court, and his lack of speed will make it difficult to get off his own shot. With some of the other players available at No. 22, such as Rodney Hood and P.J. Hairston, I can’t help but think the team overshot on Adams.

Stokes is a punishing inside presence, and should work his way into the team’s rotation by the end of the year. He’ll fit right in with Memphis’ style of play.

Overall Draft Grade:  C — Not a fan of the Adams pick, but the team had him ranked fifth on its draft board, so maybe they know something others don’t. Stokes was a solid pick and should become a useful addition.

New Orleans Pelicans

Team Needs: Small Forward, Point Guard, Depth

Draft Picks:

  •  No. 47 Russ Smith (Point Guard)*

*Acquired in trade with Sixers that sent them the rights to Pierre Jackson.

The Pelicans dealt away their first-rounder to the Sixers in the Jrue Holiday trade last year.  They also traded last year’s second-round pick, Jackson, for Smith. This begs the question, what do the Pelicans have against Jackson? Smith is almost an identical player to Jackson, and with work he could become a decent reserve guard when the team needs a change of pace.

Overall Draft Grade: D  — The team could have had Elfrid Payton with the pick it traded for Holiday. Holiday has a proven track record, but has battled injuries and is more expensive. I also don’t get the logic in trading Jackson for Smith, so that was no help. Thankfully the Pelicans picked up Omer Asik via trade, so that will be their big addition for now.

San Antonio Spurs

Team Needs: Youth, Depth, Power Forward

Draft Picks:

The best organization in the league might have done it again. Anderson is a flawed player, for sure. He’s slow, not very athletic, and will have issues on defense. But he’s also a player who in the right system can make others around him better. That sounds like the prototypical Spurs player to me.

Anderson has been compared to Boris Diaw, who was a very effective and valuable piece for the team’s championship run. Heading into the draft my feeling was that Anderson needed to end up with a heavy ball movement team in order to be of any value. He would be a great fit in the triangle offense, but should benefit equally from San Antonio’s offensive scheme as well.

Overall Draft Grade: A-  — With the last pick of the first round, the Spurs nab a player who fits their system perfectly. Anderson should develop nicely into a productive role player. The rich get richer it seems.

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