NBA Draft 2015: Grades for every first round selection

Well, the first round of the 2015 NBA Draft has come and gone, and some teams walked away with great picks. Others, not so much. In fact, some team GMs need their heads examined after tonight’s selections.

That said, school is in session and Professor JB is ready to go over all 30 first round exams. Here are the grades for each and every first round selection!

1. Minnesota Timberwolves: Karl-Anthony Towns, C, Kentucky

In a move that surprised nobody, Minnesota selected Towns to man the center position for them next year. At seven feet tall and 250 pounds, the team could not have made a better selection. He is mobile for his size, protects the rim well and has a developing low post game that will frustrate opposing teams to no end. Simply put, great pick by coach and GM Flip Saunders. Grade: A

2. Los Angeles Lakers: D’Angelo Russell, PG, Ohio State

In the first surprise of the draft, the Lakers opted to spend money on the point and not go after Duke center Jahlil Okafor. Definitely an odd choice considering that Jordan Clarkson was able to hold his own at the position last year, but perhaps GM Mitch Kupchak feels a better center can be found via free agency. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that Russell has great size for the 1 at 6-foot-5 and is a great playmaker and scorer. He’s a bit trigger happy with his jump shot, but a more conservative approach can be coached out of him. If Kobe Bryant does indeed retire after the season, Russell will accept the proverbial torch and carry it with ease. Now, what to do with Clarkson? Grade: B+

3. Philadelphia 76ers: Jahlil Okafor, C, Duke

No shock here, as Philly was bound to take Okafor after Russell was off the board. With Joel Embiid still sidelined with a foot injury, the former Blue Devil will slide right into the low post and assist Nerlens Noel in the frontcourt. It’s a great pick for the Sixers, but the question remains: what will GM Sam Hinkie do with him? This pick is a prime trade candidate, but for now, it’s the right move for the City of Brotherly Love. Grade: A-

4. New York Knicks: Kristaps Porzingis, PF/C, Baloncesto Sevilla, Spain

As a Knicks fan, I’m personally PSYCHED for this pick. Porzingis has the size and versatility required of a big man in the triangle offense. He has the height at 7-foot-1, but needs to add some weight to his 231 pound frame. On top of that, compared to a similar center like Frank Kaminsky or a solid wing like Justise Winslow, Porzingis is a HUGE gamble. He has the upside, but he is the definition of boom or bust. Solid pick by Phil Jackson, but only time will tell. Grade: B

5. Orlando Magic: Mario Hezonja, G/F, FC Barcelona Bàsquet, Spain

There’s no doubt that Mario Hezonja is one of the most versatile and athletic wings in the draft, as he can drive the lane and throw down great dunks as well as nail threes effortlessly. But it should also be noted that he’s only 20, and there’s going to be an adjustment to the slower pace of the NBA. Moreover, if GM Rob Hennigan is insistent that Tobias Harris will be allowed to walk via restricted free agency, he would have been better to go with someone like Justise Winslow. This isn’t a terrible pick, but not a great one either. Grade: C

6. Sacramento Kings: Willie Cauley-Stein, C, Kentucky

The Kings needed one of two things in this draft: a dominant defensive big man or a point guard. Based on the pick, it looks like team management opted to move DeMarcus Cousins to power forward and got probably the best interior defender in the draft. Cauley-Stein proved to be an excellent defense-oriented center  who did everything from go up for rebounds to block shots with ferocity. This young man is a lot like Tyson Chandler in that he has a great defensive motor and in Sacramento, that’s exactly what’s needed. Grade: A

7. Denver Nuggets: Emmanuel Mudiay, PG, Guangdong Southern Tigers, China

Mudiay did indeed fall down the draft board, but he landed in a borderline perfect situation. Denver’s current starting point guard, Ty Lawson, is a free agent in two seasons, so Mudiay will have an opportunity to adjust to the NBA and work on his jump shot as well as his free throw shooting. In the meantime, however, the Nuggets have themselves a big and strong point guard who can get to the rim as well as create plays and play defense. He’s only 19 and still raw, but keep in mind that Mudiay averaged 18 points, 6.2 rebounds and 5.9 assists per game in China. Once he adjusts, he’s going to be a special kind of player. Grade: A

8. Detroit Pistons: Stanley Johnson, SF, Arizona

Stanley Johnson is probably the most athletic wing in the draft, and the Pistons are a good fit for him since they need just that in head coach Stan Van Gundy’s system. However, it should also be noted that Johnson played in a run-and-gun system at Arizona and while he has drastically improved his shooting, he has a lot of work to do so he can keep up on the NBA level. It was essentially a coin toss between Johnson and Justise Winslow, but I personally would have gone with Winslow due to his better offensive game. Maybe Van Gundy wants more athleticism, but that doesn’t put points on the board. It’s not a terrible pick, but also not one that will jumpstart a Pistons team that has needed a jolt for years. Grade: B-

9. Charlotte Hornets: Frank Kaminsky, C, Wisconsin

Like Mudiay, Kaminsky is probably going to spend his first NBA season playing off the bench. Al Jefferson is under contract for another year, and the 4 is currently occupied by the newly acquired Spencer Hawes. This is actually a fine situation for him, as the 7-foot-1 former Badger has a fine shooting stroke as well as an ability to score in the paint, but needs to work on his overall defensive game. Give him a year to play behind Big Al and learn the defensive aspects of his position a bit better, and the dividends could be huge. He’s a bit of a reach at No. 9, but still an excellent pick. Grade: B+

10. Miami Heat: Justise Winslow, G/F, Duke

The Miami Heat got the first steal of the draft when Winslow fell to them at No. 10, and this pick could not come at a better time. With Luol Deng likely opting out of his contract and the continuing uncertainty around the future of star guard Dwyane Wade, Winslow can automatically slip into coach Erik Spoelstra’s starting lineup and become someone who does everything from slash to the basket to play excellent perimeter defense to even knock down an open three. The long and short of it is that this is a great pick, and one that will immediately pay off in South Beach. Grade: A

11. Indiana Pacers: Myles Turner, C, Texas

Well, I guess that having a strong offensive guard in Indiana doesn’t matter to Pacers management. The team could have done worse in drafting Turner, who gives the team an heir to Roy Hibbert once he hits the open market next summer, but the team also could have done a lot better with guys like Devin Booker still on the board. Even drafting a reach in Sam Dekker would have been better here. Just the same, Turner has solid size and proved to be a great shot blocker and rebounder in his sole season with the Longhorns. So long as he stays in the paint and doesn’t try to throw up threes like he did in college, this pick can go from being an absolute head scratcher to one that might just suck a little less: Grade: C

12. Utah Jazz: Trey Lyles, PF, Kentucky

I said over and over again that the Jazz would be better off drafting organizational depth, given how their lineup is basically set for the next few years, and team management instead opted to go with Trey Lyles. Granted, Lyles is a wild card and provides Utah with some size behind Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors, but neither man will be going away any time soon and ESPN’s Andy Katz reported on TV that the team will keep the pick. He’ll provide a nice spark off the bench, but Utah would have been far better suited to draft a more effective point guard, or even a long and athletic wing. Lyles has talent, but Utah probably isn’t the best place for him to start his pro career. Grade: C-

13. Phoenix Suns: Devin Booker, SG, Kentucky

The Suns are a team that plays fast-paced offense and badly needed someone who could score in multiple ways, and Booker is going to provide them just that. He’s only 18 and needs to learn how to diversify his attack, as chucking up threes simply won’t do even though Phoenix fans would love him for it, but the fact remains that his versatility is already there and he’ll be one that opposing players fear when the ball is in his hands. Sam Dekker may have been a better fit, but Booker is a fine second option. Grade: A-/B+

14. Oklahoma City Thunder: Cameron Payne, PG, Murray State

I have nothing but good things to say about a player as driven as Cameron Payne, but I’m seriously at a loss as to what the Thunder’s overall plan with him is. Russell Westbrook is under contract for two more years and unless GM Sam Presti has plans to trade him in the near future, either the plan is to have both men play at the same time or teach one how to play the 2. Don’t know about you loyal readers out there, but it sounds like a recipe for disaster. Payne is an excellent scoring point guard, passer and defender a la Westbrook, but this just seems like a locker room rift waiting to happen under first year coach Billy Donovan. Grade: D+

15. Washington Wizards, acquired from Atlanta: Kelly Oubre, SF, Kansas

This pick is headed to the Washington Wizards for second-round picks and the No. 19, but it’s a weird pick for the Wiz Kids. Otto Porter already has the wing locked down for the time being, so it’s looking like Oubre will be there for depth off the bench. Given how the team needed a power forward, this is not exactly the best that GM Ernie Grunfeld could have done. Oubre’s length, athleticism and ability to drill threes will help, but he won’t add the size the team needs to take the next step forward. Grade: B-


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16. Boston Celtics: Terry Rozier, PG, Louisville

Well, the Celtics certainly reached, didn’t they? Despite having plenty of guards, namely Marcus Smart, James Young and Isaiah Thomas, GM Danny Ainge went for a streaky scoring point guard in Terry Rozier, who really needs to up his passing game. Considering how many had him pegged as a late first rounder, this pick reeks of a trade waiting to happen. Otherwise, head coach Brad Stevens is going to have a tough time finding minutes for everyone. Grade: D

17. Milwaukee Bucks: Rashad Vaughn, SG, UNLV

The Bucks needed organizational depth, and they got plenty of it in Vaughn. He is an excellent 2-guard who can score off the pick and roll and from long range, and he also gives GM John Hammond some insurance in the event that restricted free agent to-be Khris Middleton departs. There’s a small amount of risk, as Vaughn missed a lot of time last season with a torn meniscus, but guards are important in Bucks coach Jason Kidd’s system. Vaughn may seem like a reach here, but he’ll pay off quickly so long as he’s used properly. Grade: A-

18. Houston Rockets: Sam Dekker, SF, Wisconsin

Dekker may seem like an odd fit in Houston’s system, as he can’t really play power forward and the 3 is currently occupied by Trevor Ariza. But the fact remains that in Houston’s fast-paced offense, Ariza will likely be asked to crash the boards more and Dekker will be allowed to man the wing and do everything from drill threes to drive the lane. Think of former Rocket Chandler Parsons. This is far from a conventional pick, but one that helps Houston’s system immensely and that can help the team take another step towards a championship. Grade: B+

19. Atlanta Hawks, acquired from Washington Wizards: Jerian Grant, G, Notre Dame

The Hawks made an interesting decision in picking Grant, but then it all made sense when ESPN’s Jeff Goodman announced that the former Fighting Irish point guard was headed to the Knicks! Atlanta will receive a much-needed 2 guard in Tim Hardaway Jr., and the Knicks will have a slashing and playmaking guard who can be a great fit in the triangle offense. Great get for both teams on this one. Grade: B+

20. Toronto Raptors: Delon Wright, G, Utah

The cold air north of the border must be messing with Raptors GM Masai Ujiri’s decision-making process, as Wright was selected despite Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan holding down the backcourt. Given how Toronto really needed a power forward, this pick was just plain awful. With guys like Bobby Portis and Kevon Looney still on the board, and a need up front as big as the Raptors’, drafting for depth was the wrong decision. Shame on you, Ujiri. Shame on you. Grade: F

21. Dallas Mavericks: Justin Anderson, G/F, Virginia

Anderson is easily the best athlete in the draft, and his athleticism will definitely help the Mavs. He can play both the 2 and 3, but doesn’t have a strong enough scoring attack to really be that kind of player in coach Rick Carlisle’s fast-paced system. He’ll likely be an on-ball defender in the Big D, but having him start at the 2 or even play significant minutes likely won’t result in significant scoring. Grade: B-

22. Chicago Bulls: Bobby Portis, F, Arkansas

Interesting pick by the Bulls here, as Portis was selected to play the wing despite having a power forward’s size and the 4 already held down by Pau Gasol and Taj Gibson. Portis’s versatility should help him in coach Fred Hoiberg’s system, but just how he’ll play the 3 remains to be seen. Then again, the Bulls let Jimmy Butler develop over the course of a few seasons, and look where he is now. My best guess is that Portis will walk a similar path in his NBA career. Grade: B

23. Portland Trail Blazers: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, SF, Arizona

With big man and top scorer LaMarcus Aldridge likely headed elsewhere in free agency, Portland was wise to pick up a future Defensive Player of the Year in Hollis-Jefferson. He doesn’t have much size at 6-foot-7, but he can play multiple positions and is a phenomenal defender who plays the game with a tenacity and ferocity that coaches dream of. He doesn’t have much to offer in the scoring department, but he’s a hard worker and can easily improve. Sure, Portland could have drafted size, but Hollis-Jefferson isn’t at all a bad pick. Grade: B+

24. Cleveland Cavaliers, traded to Minnesota Timberwolves: Tyus Jones, PG, Duke

The Cavaliers needed to get help for LeBron James, but instead opted to trade their pick of Tyus Jones to the Minnesota Timberwolves. Simply put, excellent move on Minnesota’s part. Not only did the pick only cost them two second round picks, but it also gives Flip Saunders someone with championship experience and some insurance in case Ricky Rubio gets injured again. Jones would likely also be a more effective scorer than Rubio, but he’ll just need to be a playmaker for Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins and Zach Lavine. Great pick and trade. Grade: A-/B+

25. Memphis Grizzlies: Jarell Martin, PF, LSU

The Grizzlies got an interesting piece in Martin, as he has size at 6-foot-10, 235 pounds but is primarily known as a flashy dunker. It gives Memphis an edge on offense, but maybe also an option to add to the scoring mix if center Marc Gasol leaves in free agency. That would mean Zach Randolph moves to the 5, which he should be able to do easily. Martin doesn’t add the electrifying shooting touch that the Grizzlies needed, but still provides a much-needed punch on both ends. Grade: B

26. San Antonio Spurs: Nikola Milutinov, C, Partizan Belgarde, Serbia

Well, here we go again. The Spurs have once again picked an international player, this time in Serbian seven-footer Nikola Milutinov. Given how well Gregg Popovich has done with international prospects before, probably best to assume that this pick is a home run. Grade: A+

27. Los Angeles Lakers (from Houston Rockets): Larry Nance Jr., PF, Wyoming

The Lakers would have been wise to draft either a traditional big man or even a 2-guard at this spot, and Mitch Kupchak instead drafted a reach in Larry Nance Jr. The former Wyoming star has decent size at 6-foot-8, 235 pounds, and averaged 16.1 points, 7.2 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game. That said, using a late first round pick on a swingman? When your team’s star is likely retiring at season’s end? Adding the versatility and athleticism is nice, but not what the Lakers needed. Grade: D+

28. Boston Celtics (from Los Angeles Clippers): RJ Hunter, SG, Georgia State

Tonight on “Hoarders,” Boston Celtics GM Danny Ainge has too many guards! Seriously, folks, Hunter is a great shooter despite being streaky, but there’s just no way to tell what the Celtics’ plan is for him and the myriad number of other guards on the roster. With the explosive Montrezl Harrell still on the board, this pick makes little to no sense. Grade: D/D-

29. Brooklyn Nets (from Atlanta Hawks): Chris McCullough, PF, Syracuse

The Nets do have a hole at power forward, and Chris McCullough brings length and versatility to the position. On top of being able to block shots, he can work in the mid-range and on the inside. He has to up his athleticism and definitely was a strange pick with Harrell remaining on the board, not to mention Guillermo “Willy” Hernangómez, but he could pay off so long as management is patient with him. Grade: B-

30. Golden State Warriors: Kevon Looney, PF, UCLA

The Warriors needed to draft depth, and they got some in a HUGE way. Looney slipped down this far because of concerns over a hip injury, but he is an explosive rebounder and shot blocker that will make Golden State’s defense incredibly tough and dangerous. Throw in that he played at UCLA and that the fan base is already there, even in NorCal, and this pick is an excellent one. Grade: A

That’s all for the first round, fans. Class dismissed!

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*Featured Photo (above) credit to USA TODAY Sports

Heat select Justise Winslow No. 10 overall
Heat select Justise Winslow No. 10 overall