Team by team 2014 NBA draft grades for the Western Conference from USA TODAY Sports' Adi Joseph.
The Tyson Chandler trade cost them their two second-round picks, and while feelings are mixed about that deal, it's tough to fault them for making moves that could help them land a premier free agent. Certainly, those two second-rounders (which turned into very quality players in Cleanthony Early and Thanasis Antetokounmpo, for what it's worth) won't be how that trade is judged.
Additions: C Jusuf Nurkic (No. 16 pick, Bosnia and Herzegovina), SG Gary Harris (No. 19 pick, Michigan State), PF/C Nikola Jokic (No. 41 pick, Serbia)
The Nuggets had a terrific draft day that came in part thanks to the Chicago Bulls wanting to dump salary. It started with the midday trade to reacquire Arron Afflalo from the Orlando Magic for Evan Fournier and a second-round pick. But that move couldn't have predicted they'd land two excellent fits in the first round despite entering with only one pick (No. 11). The Bulls gave up their two picks to move up, and Nurkic provides the kind of high-upside big man the Nuggets need while Harris gives them another talented perimeter player who may have been the biggest slider in the draft and comes at tremendous value that low. They have to figure out their perimeter rotation now, but that's only because of excessive depth, a good problem. Jokic could be a contributor off the bench some day, whenever he comes over.
Golden State Warriors
The Warriors had no picks, acquired no picks and made no moves. As good as this draft class was, it's tough to fault a team for staying pat.
Additions: PF Clint Capela (No. 25 pick, Switzerland), SG Nick Johnson (No. 42 pick, Arizona), SG/SF Alessandro Gentile (No. 53 pick, Italy).
The Rockets didn't want to add any guaranteed salaries as they pursue LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony, so expect Capela to stay in Europe for at least a year. But he has great upside as a tough rebounder and defender, drawing comparisons to Serge Ibaka. Johnson is a solid scorer who could learn to play point guard and crack the rotation if Jeremy Lin gets traded. Gentile is another wait-and-see player. This draft won't turn any heads but perfectly fits what the Rockets needed to do.
Los Angeles Clippers
Addition: SG C.J. Wilcox (No. 28 pick, Washington).
Doc Rivers, now team president as well as head coach, obviously was not pleased with last year's first-rounder, Reggie Bullock, because he took Wilcox, a very similar player. But Wilcox is more of a pure specialist, a shooter who can ably stand in for J.J. Redick in that aspect while working to improve his defense. He could crack the Clippers' rotation, and there weren't any good NBA-ready centers available at No. 28.
Los Angeles Lakers
Additions: PF Julius Randle (No. 7 pick, Kentucky), PG Jordan Clarkson (No. 46 pick, Missouri).
Well, look at this: The Lakers are building through the draft! These two make perfect sense for what the Lakers are doing, two young players with high upside who also are ready to play right now. Clarkson has defensive potential for either guard spot and could be a nice backup. But Randle is the one who earns the raves here as a legitimate rookie of the year candidate. He's tough and competitive and more skilled than he seems to get credit for. The comparisons to Zach Randolph don't take into account how good he looks attacking from the wing. But yes, he could be an All-Star down the road because of his interior scoring and rebounding. Kobe Bryant might even like him because of that toughness. Dante Exum came and went, but the Lakers can feel good about getting what they ended up with, particularly since Clarkson came in a cash exchange with the Washington Wizards.
Additions: SG Jordan Adams (No. 22 pick, UCLA), PF Jarnell Stokes (No. 35 pick, Tennessee).
It's tough to fault the Grizzlies for reaching a bit on Adams, a natural scorer at the position they needed a natural scorer for. But Duke's Rodney Hood was picked next, and he's a much higher-upside perimeter scorer. They had a few options with the No. 22 pick and chose a limited athlete who doesn't do much other than put the ball in the basket, though Adams was very productive in that aspect. He's crafty and can shoot. Stokes, though, was a nice addition in exchange for a future second-rounder. He's tough, fitting for the grit-and-grind Grizzlies, and from in-state. So a need was filled and a solid potential role player was added, but they could have done more.
Additions: SG Zach LaVine (No. 13 pick, UCLA), SF Glenn Robinson III (No. 40 pick, Michigan).
Both of these guys slid from where they easily could have gone, as LaVine was projected by some to be in the top seven while Robinson at one time had lottery hype and would've been a reasonable first-rounder. That means the T'wolves got value. But they also addressed major needs. LaVine is the shooting guard of the future, and though he needs work, he could be a very nice athletic partner for Ricky Rubio on alley-oops. Robinson fits the need at small forward and could content for a rotation spot if he impresses coach and President Flip Saunders at summer league and in the preseason. They sold two second-round picks for cash, but they have a pretty full roster. Now the Kevin Love situation can get all the attention.
New Orleans Pelicans
Addition: PG/SG Russ Smith (No. 47 pick, Louisville).
The Pelicans had to give up Pierre Jackson, who lit the NBA Development League on fire last season, to land Smith. Now, Jackson clashed with team management over its decision not to call him up last year, but he still seems to have had more value than a mid-second-round pick after proving himself as an elite athlete and scorer against D-League competition. Smith might very well be a similar player, and he won a championship at Louisville. But he's not as natural a point guard, particularly lacking much in the way of passing instincts. It's an interesting move, to say the least. They entered with no picks and got involved, but was it smart?
Oklahoma City Thunder
Additions: PF/C Mitch McGary (No. 21 pick, Michigan), SF Josh Huestis (No. 29 pick, Stanford), PG Semaj Christon (No. 55 pick, Xavier)
Thunder general manager Sam Presti has a tremendous reptuation for drafting. But these moves were puzzling. McGary was slotted about 20 spots lower than he went, partially a reaction to the lack of centers in this class. He has nice upside but also is coming off an injury and plays with a similar style to young Thunder center Steven Adams. Huestis is a defense-first, defense-second player who impressed teams in workouts. But the Thunder's big issue on the perimeter is a lack of ideal weapons. They drafted Andre Roberson, a similar player, last year. Christon is the silver lining, a very nice No. 55 pick bought from the Charlotte Hornets who could make the roster. He has great upside. Presti deserves some benefit of the doubt, but McGary and Huestis were reaches who don't make total sense for the team.
Additions: SF T.J. Warren (No. 14 pick, North Carolina State), PG Tyler Ennis (No. 18 pick, Syracuse), SG Bogdan Bogdanovic (No. 27 pick, Serbia), C Alec Brown (No. 50 pick, Green Bay).
This was the serviceable draft Suns fans should have been expecting if not exactly hoping for. Warren is a very good scorer, one of the draft's best, who should fit in well whether or not the Suns bring back P.J. Tucker. Ennis is the backup point guard they so desperately needed last year. Bogdanovic could contribute right away or stay hidden in Europe for a year or two but seems destined to be a very solid rotation wing. And Brown is a shot-blocker who could gain toughness in the NBA Development League. None of the picks were mistakes. None were reaches. All fit needs.
Portland Trail Blazers
The Blazers entered with nothing and did nothing. Like with the Warriors, it's tough to fault them for sitting still with a nice playoff core already in place.
Addition: SG Nik Stauskas (No. 8 pick, Michigan).
Let's say this: Stauskas is not Jimmer Fredette, the Kings' ill-fated No. 10 overall pick in 2011. He's bigger and better on both ends. But that doesn't mean this pick is much better. Stauskas is a liability on defense, which is a major issue if the Kings plan to keep small point guard Isaiah Thomas, as they'd like to. He's a pure shooter, but that was the rep of Ben McLemore entering last year's draft, when Sacramento took him No. 7 overall. McLemore's future with the Kings may be in doubt now because he and Stauskas don't fit together. But McLemore has more upside and showed flashes of that as a rookie last year. Stauskas was a slight reach at No. 8, too, with Noah Vonleh being a better prospect and better fit for the Kings' needs. This pick will be interesting, but it does help the Kings win now, which seems to be a priority.
San Antonio Spurs
Additions: SF Kyle Anderson (No. 30 pick, UCLA), SF Nemanja Dangubic (No. 54 pick, Serbia).
The Spurs got one of the biggest steals of the draft in Anderson, who not only could have went 15 spots higher but also fits very well into their pass-heavy system. He's not the perfect point-forward because he lacks elite-tier athletism. But his court vision could allow them to let Boris Diaw walk in free agency. Dangubic is a long-term prospect who on the surface doesn't seem to have any one skill that stands out. But the Spurs seem to turn those guys into stars. This was yet another great draft for the champions, even though they sold two second-rounders (and bought Dangubic).
Additions: PG Dante Exum (No. 5 pick, Australia), SF Rodney Hood (No. 23 pick, Duke).
The Jazz should be thrilled. Exum was assumed to be a top-four pick but slid because of the Orlando Magic's odd choice of Aaron Gordon. Hood is one of the most gifted scorers in this draft and could be a contributor off the bench right away or even provide an answer if Gordon Hayward leaves in restricted free agency. They did trade No. 35 pick Jarnell Stokes to the Grizzlies for a future second-rounder, meaning they didn't address their need for size. But these two rookies should have immediate and long-term impacts on the Jazz. Exum is a perfect fit to play next to second-year point guard Trey Burke, as both can run off-ball, too.