Draft Grades: Pacific 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 already took a look at the Atlantic and Central Divisions. Now I’ll check out the Pacific Division:

Golden State Warriors

Team Needs: Center, Point Guard, Depth

Draft Picks:

  •  No picks.

The Warriors sent their selection this year to the Nuggets as part of the trade that netted them Andre Iguodala. Denver used the pick to select Rodney Hood, who is a good player with upside, but I think the Warriors are happy with their end of the trade.

Overall Draft Grade: B- —Instead of banking on the potential of a mid first-rounder, the team used the pick to nab a definite starter. Not having any second round selections though lowers the grade, especially in a draft this deep.

Los Angeles Clippers

Team Needs: Center, Small Forward, Point Guard, Shooting Guard

Draft Picks:

  •  No. 28 C.J. Wilcox (Shooting Guard)

Wilcox is a solid, if unspectacular pick. He’s athletic, can shoot from deep, and should contribute as a role-player this season. It’s a bit of a puzzling pick though. Didn’t they draft a similar player last year in Reggie Bullock? Still on the board when they selected Wilcox were Kyle Anderson, K.J. McDaniels, Cleanthony Early, Jerami Grant, and Glenn Robinson III. All players who have more upside than Wilcox, and could have contributed more this coming season.

Overall Draft Grade: D+ —A safe, but underwhelming selection, which left players with more upside on the board.

Los Angeles Lakers

Team Needs: Talent, Depth, Small Forward, Point Guard

Draft Picks:

  •  No. 7 Julius Randle (Power Forward)
  • No. 46 Jordan Clarkson (Shooting Guard)*

*Purchased pick from Wizards.

The Lakers were linked to Randle in most mock drafts, and while they failed to trade the pick for Kevin Love or to move up in the draft for a chance at Dante Exum, they still managed to nab one of the most NBA ready players in the entire draft in Randle. He’s not going to be a plus defender, but he should be a beast with the ball in the low post, and I also expect him to develop a decent mid-range game over time. Randle also makes for a ready made replacement if Pau Gasol doesn’t return. If he’s starting on day one, Randle is my favorite to win Rookie of the Year honors.

Clarkson is a combo guard with above average athleticism and a streaky jump shot. Depending on what the Lakers do about re-signing Nick Young, Clarkson could see some steady minutes next season. That might not be a great thing for the Lakers chances of making the playoffs though.

Overall Draft Grade:  A- —They grab one of the few sure bets in the lottery, though his upside isn’t as high as some of the other players still available at No. 7. Randle should be a day one starter, and will pray the team signs some outside shooters so he will have room to operate down low.

Phoenix Suns

Team Needs: Star Player, Small Forward, Point Guard

Draft Picks:

  •  No. 14 T.J. Warren (Small Forward/Power Forward)
  • No. 18 Tyler Ennis (Point Guard)
  • No. 27 Bogdan Bogdanovic (Shooting Guard)
  • No. 50 Alec Brown (Power Forward)

The Suns have been searching for NBA ready players that are upper-tier. They still hope to land a big name via free agency or trade, and also need to concern themselves with re-signing Eric Bledsoe. But having failed to package their multiple picks for a known asset, the team did very well on Thursday night.

Warren is an extremely talented scorer who can fill up a stat sheet. He’s a bit of a tweener which is always a concern, but he’s a polished player who will contribute off the bench next season and could grow into an effective starter. His lack of athleticism will hold him back, especially in the Western Conference.

Ennis was an excellent value pick, and a player who was openly coveted by the Raptors–which means there is still a possibility he gets dealt before the season begins. If the team keeps him, I believe Ennis has a wealth of potential and projects as a starter down the line. He’ll fit in nicely as a backup to Bledsoe and Goran Dragic next season.

Bogdanovic is a stash pick who could turn out to be a valuable sixth man candidate in a few years. He’s a flashy scorer who can handle the ball very well. He’s another player who could turn out to be a steal in a few years. Brown has D-League or overseas contract written all over him. Don’t see him being a factor in Phoenix.

Overall Draft Grade:  B+ —The team picks up two immediate rotation players and another possibility in Bogdanovic. Not the haul the team was anticipating, nor as athletic a group of picks as they would have hoped for–but a very solid night.

Sacramento Kings

Team Needs: Power Forward, Shooters, Point Guard

Draft Picks:

A bit of a puzzling pick. Not because of Stauskas, who was arguably the best shooter in the entire draft, but because of last year’s selection, Ben McLemore. The team needs help at power forward and point guard, and Noah Vonleh, Elfrid Payton, and Doug McDermott were all available at that spot.

It’s possible the team intends to trade McLemore, as there were rumblings of the Celtics possibly being interested. If not, either he or Stauskas will end up as the sixth man. Whatever his role, Stauskas is a talented pick who is a better all around player than many give him credit for. His ability to defend NBA level shooting guards is a question, but his ability to drain jumpers is not.

Overall Draft Grade:  B — The team nabs a solid player who can fill up the stat sheet, but left other needs unfilled.

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