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. Here’s a look at the Southwest Division:
Team Needs: Center, Frontcourt Depth, Star Player
- No.46 Overall A.J. Hammons (Purdue)
The Mavs were without a first-round selection because of their ill-fated 2014 Rajon Rondo trade. They used their only selection on an efficient 280-pound center, who has the potential to be one of the steals of the draft. Hammons followed up three mediocre seasons at Purdue with a strong senior season where he sported a 31.3 player efficiency rating.
Overall Draft Grade: Given what the Mavs had to work with, they made out pretty well. Conditioning and attitude have been a major issues for Hammons. He landed in a good spot with Rick Carlisle and he should be able to enter Dallas’ rotation at some point during the 2016/17 season. I give the Mavs a “B” for making a good selection with their only pick.
Team Needs: Wings, Point Guard, Defense
The Rockets were without a first-rounder because of the Ty Lawson trade they made last offseason, but they were still able to add talent in the second-round. Onuaku is an unpolished 19-year-old who will take a few years to reach his potential. Qi is a shot-blocking 7’2″ center with a 7’6″ wingspan. He’ll need to bulk up to play any minutes at the NBA level, but he’s likely going to play overseas for a year or two, so that should give him time to get there.
Overall Draft Grade: You could argue that the Rockets should have taken Patrick McCaw with the No.37 pick, who went one spot later and was traded to the Warriors. Instead, the team doubled-down on the center position. Both prospects will need time to develop and there’s a decent chance that one or both of them will never establish themselves in the league. The selections indicate that GM Daryl Morey is playing the numbers game, taking two gambles—lottery tickets if you will—and hoping one of them pays off. I can understand the logic behind it, but I can only offer a mark of “C-” for it.
Team Needs: Small Forward, Shooting, Depth
- No.17 Overall Wade Baldwin (Vanderbilt)
- No.31 Overall Deyonta Davis (Michigan State)
- No.35 Overall Rade Zagorac (KK Mega Leks)
- No.57 Overall Wang Zhelin (Fujian)
Baldwin at No.17 was a great pick for this team. He’s a tremendous athlete who can score from long-range. He gives the Grizzlies a potential long-term replacement for Mike Conley should he bolt in free agency. He also has the length to play shooting guard should Conley re-sign with the team, as I discussed in our Mock Draft.
Davis has the potential to become one of the best defensive players in this draft. He’ll need time to reach his potential, but he’ll certainly challenge for minutes off the bench next season.
Zagorac could be a starter in this league if he pans out, but that’s a big if. Zhelin is an even bigger if. He’s an extremely raw 7’0″ center with an average wingspan. Both players lack athleticism and both will spend time overseas before attempting to make the jump to the NBA.
Overall Draft Grade: The Grizzlies saw 28 different players suit up for them last season, as I mentioned in the team’s Offseason Outlook. When healthy, they are a top-10 team in the league and one of their goals heading into the draft should have been adding depth. They executed that plan by trading for two early second-rounders and adding a few players who may be able to crack the rotation next season. They didn’t address adding a long-term option on the wing, however, there wasn’t a player available at No.17 who could contribute immediately and play the three. I give Memphis a “B+” for its draft.
New Orleans Pelicans
Team Needs: Depth, Perimeter Defense, Shooting
Hield is a great fit in New Orleans and he has the ability to become a star in the league, as Arthur Hill of Hoops Rumors detailed in our Mock Draft. Assuming the Pelicans don’t re-sign Eric Gordon, the No.6 overall pick should begin the season as a starter. The team could have went with Jamal Murray here, but Hield is arguably more NBA ready right now. The Anthony Davis-Hield combination should blitz defenses for years to come.
Diallo had an up-and-down freshman campaign at Kansas and had he stayed in school for another year, he would have likely been a lottery pick in the 2017 draft. He’ll need time to develop, but they team shouldn’t need him to play any significant minutes with Omar Asik and Alexis Ajinca ahead of him on the depth chart. The team traded its two second-rounders for Diallo, but he has the potential to become one of the league’s best second-round picks ever.
Overall Draft Grade: The Pelicans’ lack of depth was exposed last season because of various injuries to the team’s core, as I discussed in their Offseason Outlook. New Orleans only added one player who is expected to contribute next season, but both players are good selections for the franchise’s long-term outlook. The team earns a grade of “B” for its efforts.
San Antonio Spurs
Needs: Long-term Answer at Point Guard, Depth
- No.29 Overall Dejounte Murray (Washington)
Basically just apply every I wrote for the Raptors in our Mock Draft and apply it to R.C. Buford and the Spurs. Smart GMs are always looking down the road, attempting to acquire players who can thrive for the franchise long-term. Murray has the potential to be a All-Star in this league. He has a terrific first step, he can get to basket with ease and he’s an electric playmaker. He should be able to guard both point guards and shooting guards at the next level due to his 6’11” wingspan. Murray will need to bulk up and while his jumpshot isn’t broken, it’s not his greatest attribute. He’ll have time to develop within San Antonio’s system and the team will give him a great opportunity to reach his potential.
Overall Draft Grade: The Spurs were very fortunate to have Murray fall to them at No.29. The Raptors, Kings or Sixers (twice) could have easily taken him late in the first-round, but instead, they each went in a different direction. Murray has the potential to haunt teams that passed up on him for years to come. The Spurs get an “A+” for nabbing the 19-year-old.