Draft Grades: Central 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 ran down the picks for the Atlantic and Pacific Divisions. We’ll continue on with a look at the Central Division:

Chicago Bulls

Team Needs: Scoring, Power Forward, Point Guard

Draft Picks:

  • No. 11 Doug McDermott (Small Forward)*
  • No. 49 Cameron Bairstow (Power Forward/Center)

*Pick obtained via trade with Nuggets for the No. 16 & 19 picks, plus a 2015 second rounder.

The Bulls gave up two first rounders to move up and select “McBuckets.” They had need of a scorer — badly, and McDermott certainly fits that bill. Scouts were divided about his potential, as he’s seen as a bit of a tweener, and might not possess enough quickness to be an effective defender, one thing that coach Tom Thibodeau places a high priority on.

The trade also makes their pursuit of Carmelo Anthony a bit more difficult, as the trade added approximately $1MM onto their cap above what they would have spent if they had kept their two picks as they were, thanks to Anthony Randolph‘s inclusion. If the Bulls can get ‘Melo, McDermott also becomes redundant, and would be relegated to the sixth man role, which is one he ultimately might be better suited for long-term anyway.

Bairstow is a tough player with little athleticism. He seems destined to play overseas or in the D-League. I don’t see him ever cracking the Bulls rotation.

Overall Draft Grade:  B+ —The Bulls get their desired player, and one who fits their biggest need. I’m not so sure they wouldn’t have been better served keeping picks 16 and 19 and adding more depth. They could have had their choice of Adreian Payne, James Young, Tyler Ennis, Rodney Hood, and Gary Harris. Two of them seem like a better value to me than McDermott.

Cleveland Cavaliers

Team Needs: Talent, Shooting, Perimeter Defense

Draft Picks:

  •  No. 1 Andrew Wiggins (Small Forward/Shooting Guard)
  • No. 33 Joe Harris (Small Forward)
  • No 45. Dwight Powell (Power Forward)*

*Obtained via trade with the Hornets.

Despite all the rumblings about them trading down, the Cavs stuck it out and landed the player they wanted all along. Joel Embiid‘s injury might have been a blessing in disguise as it removed much of the temptation to draft him and the injury risk he carries.

Wiggins isn’t as sure a thing as the team would prefer. He has a world of upside and has the physical ability to become a top-10 player in the league. He can play and defend multiple positions and is a decent ballhandler and good passer. Wiggins needs to be more assertive and willing to be the “alpha” on the court. If he doesn’t change his mindset and become more of an attack oriented player, he’ll have a difficult time sharing the floor with Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters, both of whom are ball stoppers. I do like the pick and he should fit in nicely with what Cleveland is building.

Harris is a decent outside shooter and a strong defender. With Cleveland’s roster he has the chance to see some backup minutes this season, though I see some serious minutes being logged by him in the D-League along the way. Powell is a reach, and a player I don’t see making the roster anytime soon.

Overall Draft Grade:  A — It’s hard to fault this pick. Wiggins has the most upside in the draft and is a freakish athlete. He’ll be judged alongside Jabari Parker for his entire career, which is par for the course. I see Wiggins taking a little longer to peak, but when he does he should be a more dynamic player than Parker.

Detroit Pistons

Team Needs: Shooting Guard, Backup Center, Stretch Four, Point Guard

Draft Picks:

  •  No. 38 Spencer Dinwiddie (Shooting Guard)

The Pistons were unlucky, losing their first round pick to Charlotte thanks to the Pistons falling out of the top eight on lottery night. That one spot lost them the chance to nab a surefire rotation player. Ending up with Dinwiddie in the second round isn’t the worst possible outcome for the franchise.

Dinwiddie was projected as a mid first round pick, but an ACL injury that cost him the second half of last season caused his slide. Dinwiddie isn’t exceptionally athletic, but he’s a versatile player with a decent basketball IQ. If he can fully recover from his injury, he has the opportunity to be a contributor for a few years. It will most likely take him until the 2015/16 season to be at full-speed, so don’t expect much this year from him.

Overall Draft Grade: C+ —Under the circumstances, nabbing a first round caliber talent in the second round can be considered a small victory. That loss of the top-10 pick really hurts this year.

Indiana Pacers

Team Needs: Shooting Guard, Small Forward, Scoring, Stretch Four

Draft Picks:

  •  No picks.

The Pacers first rounder went to the Suns as part of the Luis Scola trade. So judging Indiana’s draft is a matter of measuring his contributions against the potential of what was available at No. 27. Looking at the list, if the Pacers had kept the pick they would be looking at a draft and stash selection. So Scola’s production is more valuable in this instance, though he’ll rate like the team drafted a reserve player.

Overall Draft Grade:  C+ —Scola is more valuable than what they would have picked up at No. 27, but he’s not a star player. A valuable one, but not a long term franchise player.

Milwaukee Bucks

Team Needs: Talent, Point Guard, Shooting

Draft Picks:

  • No. 2 Jabari Parker (Small Forward)
  • No. 31 Damien Inglis (Power Forward)
  • No. 36 Johnny O’Bryant (Power Forward)

I really like the Bucks’ draft. They stayed put and got exactly the player they wanted all along. Parker is probably going to end up as a stretch four, or in a role similar to ‘Melo’s when the Knicks go with one of their smaller lineups. Parker is ready to contribute immediately and though he needs some serious time in the gym, he’ll be a productive player and probable star for many seasons. If the “Greek Freak” continues to develop and Larry Sanders can stay on the court, the future in Milwaukee could be bright.

Inglis has a broken foot that will keep him out of the summer league, but he’s expected to be ready by the time training camp begins. Inglis is well-regarded by scouts, and has been compared to Boris Diaw as far as ability is concerned. His major flaw is that he’s not a good outside shooter. He’s shown flashes of being able to hit three pointers, but his mid range game is almost non-existent. Worth a flier because of his physical upside, but will see more D-League time than NBA time this season.

O’Bryant is a possible sleeper at No. 36. He’s not a big rebounder or defender, but he is a very good low post scorer. He’ll never be a starter, but has the makings of a solid rotation contributor.

Overall Draft Grade: A- —They did the smart and obvious thing on draft night and nabbed themselves a future star. The Bucks also took two potential rotation players, though Inglis might have been a reach considering K.J. McDaniels, Cleanthony Early, Jerami Grant, and Glenn Robinson III were still available. The Bucks did better than OK on Thursday, a small victory for fans of the franchise.

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