2016 NBA Draft Grades: Atlantic Division

The 2016 NBA Draft is now squarely in the rearview and teams have already begun signing their selections. Sometimes, taking the best available player isn’t the best course of action and it is wiser to nab a player who fits a clear need, which should always be considered when rating how each front office performed in the draft. We at Hoops Rumors will be taking a look at how each team fared on Draft night. We’ll begin with a look at the Atlantic Division:

Boston Celtics

Team Needs: Star player, Outside Shooting, Frontcourt Depth

Draft Picks:

The Celtics entered Thursday night’s draft with their eyes on landing a star player in exchange for the No. 3 overall pick. While names like Kevin Love, Jimmy Butler, Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor were mentioned in connection with Boston, team executive Danny Ainge was unable or unwilling to make a blockbuster trade in exchange for the top three selection. Given the build-up and speculation attached to this year’s draft for the Celtics, it’s difficult not to be disappointed by the end result for Ainge’s squad.

Instead of acquiring a player who could be plugged into the starting lineup from day one, the team selected versatile wing scorer Jaylen Brown out of the University of California. While Brown may not be a ready-made star for the team, he is arguably the third-best player in the entire draft and fits a clear need for the Celtics. He’ll require some time to acclimate to the NBA game and to add some bulk to his frame before paying dividends for Boston, but he was a solid pick as a fallback option.

Boston’s other two first-rounders, Guerschon Yabusele and Ante Zizic, are almost assuredly going to end up as draft-and-stash players. I like the addition of Yabusele, who has the ability to evolve into a force in the paint area for Boston. His offensive game will need serious work, but he projects as a solid hustle player off the bench down the line for the Celtics. I’m not as bullish on the selection of Zizic, who may evolve into a solid rotation player for the team in a few years. It’s no so much I am down of the big man’s game, but with Dejounte Murray and Deyonta Davis still on the board, I feel the team missed out on not nabbing one of that duo given their much greater upsides.

While the Celtics may have disappointed some with their first round choices, the team knocked it out of the park with their work in the second round. Both Demetrius Jackson and Ben Bentil were projected by many, including myself, to be first-rounders, which makes landing them at picks No. 45 and No. 51 overall flat out steals. Fantastic additions who should both be solid rotation players for coach Brad Stevens.

Overall Draft Grade: I feel the need to give the Celtics two grades for their 2016 NBA Draft. If grading based on the hope and expectation the team would flip the No. 3 pick for a star player, then the team gets a firm “D.” But despite not acquiring a true star player Thursday night, Boston nabbed a number of talented and promising young pieces who can help the team. For that work I give Ainge and the Celtics an overall mark of on “A.”

Brooklyn Nets

Team Needs: Talent, Point Guard, Scoring, Rebounding, Defense

Draft Picks:

The Nets entered the Draft without a selection thanks to their ill-advised dealings with the Celtics. The franchise is devoid of talent and in need of virtually everything one can think of in relation to a basketball team. GM Sean Marks was determined to acquire a pick in this year’s big event and found a willing trade partner in Indiana who eagerly shipped Brooklyn the No. 20 overall pick in exchange for forward Thaddeus Young.

Dealing Young and bottoming-out to rebuild through the draft would be a wise strategy at this point for the Nets if the team owned its next two first-rounders. But with Boston able to swap first round picks next year and owning Brooklyn’s 2018 first round pick outright, parting ways with a solid contributor like Young who was signed to a fairly reasonable contract makes little sense to me. If Brooklyn had done more with the No. 20 pick I may be singing a different tune. But landing oft-injured Michigan guard Caris LeVert, who likely could have been obtained in the second round, is a puzzler for me, especially given some of the other players who were available at that slot.  It’s going to be a very long season in Brooklyn unless the team pulls off a few stunners in free agency.

Overall Draft Grade: I like LeVert’s potential, but he was a major reach at pick No. 20 and was not worth parting ways with Young for. I am still shaking my head at the move by Marks and give the team an “F.”

New York Knicks

Team Needs: Talent, Point Guard, Center, Shooters, Frontcourt Depth

Draft Picks:

  • None

New York did not have a first-rounder thanks to the Andrea Bargnani trade, which was a disaster for the Knicks in every imaginable way. The Knicks REALLY could have used their pick, which was ultimately used by Denver to select Kentucky’s Jamal Murray. For those keeping score, the Knicks sacrificed a shot at Murray (or Jakob Poeltl, who was taken by the Raptors after Denver exercised its right to swap picks) in exchange for 71 total games of Bargnani. Ouch!

The team would have been well-served to have acquired a second-round pick given the available depth but team president Phil Jackson was unable to land one, which is another major missed opportunity for New York. The Knicks have already been active in signing undrafted free agents, so missing out on joining the second round isn’t quite as glaring as it may have otherwise been.

Overall Draft Grade: The Bargnani trade was one of the worst in franchise history and the failure to acquire another pick land New York an emphatic “F.”

Philadelphia 76ers

Team Needs: Talent, Scoring, Outside Shooting, Point Guard

Draft Picks:

  • No. 1 Overall — Ben Simmons, F (LSU)
  • No. 24 Overall — Timothe Luwawu, G/F (Mega Leks)
  • No. 26 Overall — Furkan Korkmaz, SG (Anadolu Efes)

The Sixers finally landed the elusive No. 1 overall pick and surprised no one when they chose former LSU forward Ben Simmons with it. While there was some pre-draft debate regarding the merits of former Duke swingman Brandon Ingram, Simmons is the consensus top player in this year’s crop and Philly didn’t overthink its pick. Simmons will join an overcrowded frontcourt in Philadelphia, but given his versatility, coach Brett Brown should have little difficulty finding a spot on the floor for the young player.

Philadelphia was reportedly interested in acquiring another lottery pick and was rumored to be pitching a deal to the Celtics involving Nerlens Noel in exchange for the No. 3 overall pick. The Sixers’ draft would have been phenomenal if the team had been able to nab Boston’s pick and added point guard Kris Dunn, who would fill a MAJOR team need. But the two parties could not come to terms and team executive Bryan Colangelo was forced to stand pat and select two international backcourt players with picks No. 24 and No. 26 instead.

I like the additions of Timothe Luwawu and Furkan Korkmaz, but feel the team would have been far better off taking Dejounte Murray or Notre Dame’s Demetrius Jackson with one of those selections. The team needs backcourt help desperately and even if Luwawu and/or Korkmaz are wearing a Sixers jersey next season, it is doubtful they will be ready to contribute much initially.

Overall Draft Grade: The selection of Simmons was a no-brainer and adding Luwawu and Korkmaz could pay off down the line, but by not selecting talent ready to contribute immediately late in the first round, Philly may have missed out on a strong opportunity. I give the Sixers an “A-” for their efforts.

Toronto Raptors

Team Needs: Frontcourt depth, outside shooting, backcourt depth

Draft Picks:

The Raptors are more than likely going to lose Bismack Biyombo to free agency this summer, so landing froncourt help was vital for the team. Nabbing former Utah big man Jakob Poeltl was an excellent way to accomplish this. Poeltl is a mobile big man who can rebound and defend and should quickly step into Toronto’s rotation. Poeltl flirted with joining the NBA last season, but remaining in school for another year did wonders for his game. He is perhaps the most NBA-ready big man in the entire draft and kudos to GM Masai Ujiri for landing him.

Former New Mexico State power forward Pascal Siakam is a ferocious rebounder, but he was a reach at No. 27 overall. There were a number of talented players available who were rated higher on most draft boards available at that slot and I think this will be a pick the team ends up regretting at some point down the line. Especially since Deyonta Davis, Skal Labissiere, Damian Jones and Cheick Diallo, all of whom I have rated higher than Siakam, were still readily available when Philly was on the clock late in the first round.

Overall Draft Grade: I love the pick of Poeltl, who may be the best center in the draft, at pick No. 9. He fills a clear need and should be able to contribute from day one. The team missed out on more talented players with much higher upsides with pick No. 27. If I was grading just for Poeltl it would be an “A+,” but the Siakam pick lowers the grade to a “B+.”

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24 thoughts on “2016 NBA Draft Grades: Atlantic Division

  1. Sixersfan4

    How can you give the Celtics an A when most other writers have them at like a C? They took a player that can’t shoot and needs development, the exact opposite of what they needed. The Nets don’t deserve an F at all. Whitehead has potential and so does Levert

    • Eddie Scarito

      Each writer gives their own take. I gave Boston two grades: one for expectations and one for actual players selected. The team landed some solid players and killed it in the second round. For me, it’s about removing the notion the team should have landed Love, Noel, etc and focusing on who they actually got. Brown will be a good player in the league and Bentil and Jackson were first-rounders nabbed in the second. Really like the draft by Ainge with the exception of Zizic.

      • MAGICQ7

        Your explanation kinda makes this grade worse. Your ignoring the fact that Boston reached on all of its 1st round picks. If you believed Brown was the 3rd best player, you were the only one. Being the only one with that view point is being biased and ignoring the landscape around you. If I was a Celtic fan I’d be pissed ainge didn’t trade back to the Timberwolves. Brown would have been there at 5. If not could’ve taken Bender. Praising a GM for reaching is fools gold. If your telling me you weren’t shocked when both international players were taken. Your lying to your readers. Most experts had both as 2nd rounders.

        • Eddie Scarito

          Honestly, it came as little shock to me that the Celtics went international. No room on the roster for that many young/developing players. Since no trade came to pass, draft-and-stash was the most likely route.

        • Can you definetly say one player stood out above the rest as the 3rd best player? No. Murray/Dunn would seem most likely to be the 3rd best player but I wouldn’t say they are so far ahead of Brown/Bender/Chriss that they are definetly the next guys up after Simmons/Ingram.

      • Bbone34

        Thank you for having the first realistic take on the Cs draft. I’ve heard way too many “experts” say the Celtics had a bad night when they had no idea what trades, if any, were available for the Celtics. Jaylen was my favorite for the Cs at 3, Dunn arguably has more upside but in the logjam that is the Celtics backcourt it’ll be much harder for him to realize his potential. I agree also with the 2nd rounders, hopefully there is room on the roster for them to stick. As for #16 and #23 I’d argue the Celtics were handcuffed by the fact that they had, at the time, 5 more picks to make and very few roster spots left to fill, Yabusele and Zizic were probably the top options to draft and stash and as much as I like Dejounte Murray the chances of him getting a fair shot to prove himself on the roster as it’s currently constructed wasn’t as appealing as allowing the 2 foreigners to grow overseas.

    • Eddie Scarito

      and as for the Nets….dealing Young for LeVert, who likely could have been had in the second round, was a bad move. Whitehead is a D-League player, in my opinion. Terrible draft by Nets. Should have taken Dejounte Murray, who is going to be a stud in a few years.

      • MAGICQ7

        As for Levert I agree with you. It’s a pretty big reach. But in truth it’s a reach with a possible high ceiling. I would’ve taken Murray as well or maybe Devonte Davis then take Jackson in the 2nd. But an F is pretty harsh, id prob give it a D .

        • Eddie Scarito

          I can respect that grade. I just think the team should have received better value for Young. LeVert could have been nabbed in the second round. For what it’s worth…if the pick was Dejounte Murray..I’d have given the team an A.

          • Scooter

            Will you also be reviewing the Draft grades for the Southwest Division? Based off your last sentence, I’m assuming the Spurs will receive an “A+” considering they had Dejounte Murray fall into their laps at #29…

    • Thronson5

      Everyone is entitled to grade teams drafts however they want. Not sure what other people’s grades have to do with this guys grade!? I personally think the Celtics get a B but we all have our own opinions

    • steve

      Well if your just going to grade a team by the grades of other writers whats the point of writing an article in the first place?

      I think it should’ve more or less been in the B range, and thats likely because I’m not as gun ho on Yabusele as the writer, especially not at 16. He reminds me a lot of Sully considering he’s 270lbs except he’s actually a pretty decent shooter. I’ve warmed up a little more to him after watching some vids (he weighs alot but his build is definitely alot more muscular). Still 16 is a reach.

      The celtics really couldn’t go wrong with any of the players picked 3-8. None them stood above the rest and all could have addressed some need. Athleticism is just as big of need as shooting for them, as nobody seems to mention that their wings are all below the rim players.

      The author should have also mentioned a pretty solid deal with Memphis in trading two second rounders for a future first. Definitely not as bad of a draft as many are making it out to be. And the Nets definitely deserve an F, they into the 1st round and use the pick on a second rounder, and have suddenly decided to bring in young players when they don’t even own their own pick.

  2. Boston2AZ

    For the Celtics – or any team who says that they want to compete “now” – to get an “A” grade, it seems to me that they would have to have been better on Friday than they were on Wednesday. I don’t see how they are.

    • Eddie Scarito

      I’m guessing you are a Celtcs fan based on your username. I completely get the fanbase being upset at this year’s draft given all the hype and names potentially attached to a trade of pick No. 3. If I was a fan of the team, I’d also be bummed at the end result. That’s why I tried to stress divorcing expectations from what the team actually accomplished. I do think Ainge held out wanting too much in return for the pick given the talent available from 3-10.

  3. padam

    I’d grade the opposite for the Celtics, Nets and Raptors. Nets rolled the dice, but the risk could be worth the reward – an “F” is too harsh of a grade. Celtics taking Brown… not digging it. Dunn should’ve been the pick, moving Smart in the off season (or Dunn later in the season). As for the Raptors, can’t see how they passed on Sarbonis. I give them a C.

    Not sure how you can give the Knicks an F unless you’re assigning that grade to a deal they did years ago.

    • Eddie Scarito

      I graded the Knicks based on the value they received for the pick…Bargnani in street clothes behind the bench.

    • Grant Weddle

      Nah the noel draft was pretty bad. MCW was the ROY and he doesn’t even start anymore

  4. Grant Weddle

    I would Go B, D, F, B+, B. Celtics, 76ers and Raptors drafts were all solid but a little disappointing. Nets wasn’t horrible but definitely not good. Knicks didn’t draft

  5. Grant Weddle

    I really enjoy how on this site authors have open conversations with the readers and really value their opinions vs other sites (cough, ESPN) who just delete posts they don’t agree with. Also how does one go from guest to member I couldn’t figure it out

  6. boston blew it big time…. & anyone expecting something productive & different from the Knicks & Nets are just dreaming…. notice all 3 franchises have stunk since the hard cap was introduced
    everyone in the northeast likes to argue like the US soccer fans,
    but lets face it, real superstars want to play in Miami & Texas so they can avoid state income taxes

  7. Icdogg

    You criticize the two picks the Sixers took at *24* and *26* because they might not be able to help a ten win team who can afford to be patient with young talent *right away*? They took some very talented guys at these spots, who were both projected by most to go earlier, and are perfect fits with Simmons. What else could they ask for at those selection spots?

    They have some work yet to do in assembling their roster, but it’s silly to expect them to do it in a single day.

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