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Grading each NBA team’s draft class

View of the draft board after the first round at the Barclays Center.Brad Penner/USA Today Sports

Draft night was interesting, filled with players rising and falling rather than major deals involving veterans. But every team except the Pelicans came out with players who can influence their future.

Atlanta Hawks

Picks: Marcus Eriksson (Spain), Dimitrios Agravanis (Greece)

Briefly: The Hawks took players who are unlikely to play next season but did trade their first-round pick for Knicks shooting guard Tim Hardaway Jr., a streaky shooter who needs to improve his defense. It was a decent move from a team trying to improve.

Grade: C

Boston Celtics

Picks: Terry Rozier (Louisville), R.J. Hunter (Georgia State), Jordan Mickey (LSU), Marcus Thornton (William & Mary)


Briefly: This one is difficult to judge because the Celtics didn’t make their desired blockbuster trade. But they acquired four solid players. This lot will be judged by how Rozier fares, and that’s the biggest question. Team officials feel Hunter could be their shooting guard of the future.

Grade: B-

Brooklyn Nets

Picks: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (Arizona), Chris McCullough (Syracuse), Juan Vaulet (Argentina)

Briefly: The Nets had a late first-round pick and took McCullough, who likely won’t play much next season but has potential. They sacrificed Mason Plumlee for Hollis-Jefferson, who should immediately become a rotation player and top-notch defender. This wasn’t a bad reward for a team that has traded a lot of picks to the Celtics. Vaulet was acquired from the Hornets and will likely be stashed.

Grade: B+

Charlotte Hornets

Pick: Frank Kaminsky (Wisconsin)

Briefly: The Hornets didn’t need more youngsters but were impressed by the seasoned Kaminsky, who could become a rotation player. Charlotte seriously considered trading out of this pick and turned down a major deal from the Celtics. Frank the Tank had better be worth it.

Grade: C+

Chicago Bulls

Pick: Bobby Portis (Arkansas)

Briefly: The Bulls had decided on other players not expecting Portis to fall this far. Portis is a big man who does everything well but nothing spectacular. He’s young, hungry, and could turn into a fan favorite. But the Bulls could have used more young help.


Grade: B-

Cleveland Cavaliers

Picks: Cedi Osman (Turkey), Rakeem Christmas (Syracuse), Sir’Dominic Pointer (St. John’s)

Briefly: Osman is a stash pick, but Christmas is the key. He emerged with a strong combine and is mature and ready to contribute. For a franchise determined to win now, he’s suited to play right away. Pointer will get a chance to make the club.

Grade: C+

Dallas Mavericks

Picks: Justin Anderson (Virginia), Satnam Singh (IMG Academy)

Briefly: The Mavericks got better defensively with Anderson, a bulldog who should improve offensively. It was good use of a first-round pick after Dallas has slipped defensively. Singh is a mammoth project, the first player from India ever drafted.

Grade: B

Denver Nuggets

Picks: Emmanuel Mudiay (China), Nikola Radicevic (Serbia)

Briefly: Denver wanted to be a player on draft night and it lucked into Mudiay, who could supplant Ty Lawson as the Nuggets’ point guard. The Nuggets could have used another young body, but they had a decent night. Radicevic could be a stash pick.

Grade: B+

Detroit Pistons

Picks: Stanley Johnson (Arizona), Darrun Hilliard (Villanova)

Briefly: The Pistons got tougher and more physical with Johnson, who can defend but needs to work on his perimeter game. He has a high motor and is a winning player. Detroit passed on some talent to take Hilliard, who is a big shooting guard and should have a chance to make the team.


Grade: B-

Golden State Warriors

Pick: Kevin Looney (UCLA)

Briefly: The Warriors were looking for shooting (if you can believe that), but with R.J. Hunter gone at 28, they decided on the potentially impactful Looney, whose stock slipped because of a hip injury. He’s years from being a potential starter.

Grade: B

Houston Rockets

Picks; Sam Dekker (Wisconsin), Montrezl Harrell (Louisville)

Briefly: Dekker fell to a grateful team that invites players to shoot 3-pointers and run the floor, his specialty. And Houston got nastier with Harrell, a projected late first-rounder who fell to the second.

Grade: A

Indiana Pacers

Picks: Myles Turner (Texas), Joseph Young (Oregon)

Briefly: Larry Bird wanted Willie Cauley-Stein but settled for Turner, who has a maturity beyond his years and could become one of the best one-and-dones of this class. He will run the floor and shoot from the perimeter. Young could be another Isaiah Thomas, a little man who can score in bunches. He was overshadowed in the Pac-12.

Grade: A-

Los Angeles Clippers

Pick: Branden Dawson (Michigan State)

Briefly: Los Angeles traded into the draft to get Dawson at 56 and he will have a chance to make the team. That’s really all you can ask. The Clippers have enough young players still trying to find themselves.

Grade: C

Los Angeles Lakers

Picks: D’Angelo Russell (Ohio State), Larry Nance Jr. (Wyoming), Anthony Brown (Stanford)

Briefly: The Lakers scored big, taking three players who could make major impacts. Russell will unquestionably be the team’s point guard in the post-Kobe Bryant era, as they decided to nab him second instead of Jahlil Okafor. Nance is a gritty undersized forward who has overcome Charon’s disease, and Brown is a solid perimeter shooter. The Lakers needed to build for the future and they did.


Grade: A

Memphis Grizzlies

Picks: Jarell Martin (LSU), Andrew Harrison (Kentucky)

Briefly: The Grizzlies were able to get two quality players who should help supplement their bench. Memphis’s main priority is re-signing Marc Gasol but Martin will help in the backcourt. Harrison will probably be a better pro than critics think.

Grade: C+

Miami Heat

Picks: Justise Winslow (Duke), Josh Richardson (Tennessee)

Briefly: For a team that expects to be highly competitive next season, the Heat got two pretty good players. Winslow could be a shutdown defender, while Richardson is a solid defender and decent shooter.

Grade: B

Milwaukee Bucks

Pick: Rashad Vaughn (UNLV)

Briefly: The Bucks need scoring and shooters, and Vaughn could make a sizable impact in coming years. He’s only coming off his freshman year, so the returns will take time. But he’s a decent investment.

Grade: C+

Minnesota Timberwolves

Picks: Karl-Anthony Towns (Kentucky), Tyus Jones (Duke)

Briefly: Towns is the player every team wanted, and the Timberwolves were lucky enough to win the lottery, so he wasn’t a difficult decision. Jones is a Minnesota native, so the chance for him to go home is a nice story. Minnesota got two pieces for its brimming future.

Grade: A

New Orleans Pelicans

Briefly: Traded pick to Clippers.

New York Knicks

Picks: Kristaps Porzingis (Latvia), Jerian Grant (Notre Dame)

Briefly: Porzingis will be the next Dirk Nowitzki, or the next Maciej Lampe, no in between. Porzingis has skills and potential, but New York is not the place for development. Grant is ready to play now and should give Knicks fans some excitement as they wait impatiently for a playoff berth.


Grade: B-

Oklahoma City Thunder

Picks: Cameron Payne (Murray State), Dakari Johnson (Kentucky)

Briefly: The Thunder have been interested in Payne for a while, and he could serve as a backup to Russell Westbrook. Johnson is a project and probably should have stayed in school for another year, but he is big.

Grade: B-

Orlando Magic

Picks: Mario Hezonja (Croatia), Tyler Harvey (Eastern Washington)

Briefly: The Magic needed star power and apparently Hezonja has game and a matching personality. He’s not expected to contribute right away but he could be a gem in coming years. Harvey had done enough at the mid-major level and could be a steal.

Grade: B+

Philadelphia 76ers

Picks: Jahlil Okafor (Duke), Richaun Holmes (Bowling Green), Arturas Gudaitis (Lithuania), J.P. Tokoto (North Carolina), Luka Mitrovic (Serbia)

Briefly: The 76ers remain the most mysterious team in the NBA, but they scored with Okafor. They don’t need a bunch of marginally talented prospects, but that’s what they got with their second-round picks. Holmes is the best of the bunch and may actually receive playing time next season.

Grade: C

Phoenix Suns

Pick: Devin Booker (Kentucky)

Briefly: The Suns needed perimeter shooting and Booker was the best in this class. They are already young enough, so they dealt their second-round pick to Memphis for Jon Leuer.

Grade: B-

Portland Trail Blazers

Picks: Pat Connaughton (Notre Dame), Daniel Diez (Spain)

Briefly: The Blazers traded their first-round pick for Mason Plumlee, knowing they’ll likely need frontcourt help. Connaughton, a St. John’s Prep product, will thrill fans with his athleticism but likely won’t play a lot.

Grade: C

Sacramento Kings

Picks: Willie Cauley-Stein (Kentucky)

Briefly: If Cauley-Stein remains healthy and engaged, it’s a great pick. The Kings didn’t need more young players, so this was a good night.

Grade: B

San Antonio Spurs

Picks: Nikola Milutinov (Serbia), Cady Lalanne (UMass)

Briefly: Neither will see the floor next season, unless Lalanne shocks team officials in summer league and training camp. The Spurs don’t want to invest any money in rookies when they are chasing Marc Gasol and LaMarcus Aldridge.

Grade: D

Toronto Raptors

Picks: Delon Wright (Utah), Norman Powell (UCLA)

Briefly: Coach Dwane Casey wanted to get better defensively and more athletic. Mission accomplished. Both could make impacts next season. Wright is a true point guard and has great court skills and vision, while Powell could back up DeMar DeRozan and plays with passion.

Grade: A

Utah Jazz

Picks: Trey Lyles (Kentucky), Olivier Hanlan (Boston College)

Briefly: Not sure where Lyles will play with the Jazz stocked in the frontcourt, but he’s a quality pick. Lyles has skills but is young, so he will take time. Hanlan could delight as a scorer and doesn’t need to play point with Trey Burke and Dante Exum there.

Grade: B

Washington Wizards

Draftees: Kelly Oubre (Kansas), Aaron White (Iowa)

Briefly: Not sure what to make of Oubre, who has athleticism but not many skills. White will work hard and could make the roster.

Grade: C


Sullinger believes he’s ready to soar

Jared Sullinger Sullinger averaged 13.3 points and 7.6 rebounds in 58 games last season.Maddie Meyer/Getty Images/File

Jared Sullinger understands that his future in Boston is unclear. He is eligible for a long-term contract extension that likely won’t happen because his agent doesn’t like negotiating extensions unless they are maximum deals.

Two months after the Celtics were eliminated from the playoffs, Sullinger looks healthy. He conducted a basketball camp last week in Kingston and revealed some of the major changes he has made.

Sullinger said he is working out in Houston with former NBA player and current workout coach and adviser John Lucas, and he has decided to make his own career decisions with less input from his father, Satch, who served as his AAU coach, and a guide throughout his early professional career.

Sullinger, 23, is beginning to take more control of his life. The key to his future NBA success is getting into better condition, to the point where he is able to produce more in fourth quarters without the concern of fatigue.

“I think I’m going on a personal feel,” Sullinger said. “If I’m able to move the way I want to move and make the moves I want to make, I think the number [weight] doesn’t really matter. It’s all about how long I can stand out there and be able to put the work in that I put in in the first quarter all the way through the 48 minutes of the game.”

Sullinger averaged 13.3 points and 7.6 rebounds in 58 games last season. His season was interrupted by a stress fracture of his left foot, but he showed the organization his fortitude by returning for the playoff series against the Cavaliers.

Stat lines
Sullinger's averages through three seasons in Boston.
2012-13 45-5 19.8 6 .493 5.9 0.8 0.5 0.6
2013-14 74-44 27.6 13.3 .427 8.1 1.6 0.7 1.6
2014-15 58-49 27 13.3 .439 7.6 2.3 0.7 1.3
Career 177-98 25.4 11.4 .440 7.4 1.6 0.6 1.3

“It’s a lot of fun when you know when you go to sleep at night and you catch a cramp [it’s from an earlier workout],” he said. “It’s a lot of fun.”

The Celtics’ playoff appearance allowed Sullinger to consider the possibilities, now that they have added first-round picks Terry Rozier and R.J. Hunter. The Celtics would like Sullinger to be a franchise cornerstone but he has to stay healthy and motivated.

“I think with the core we have now and adding two more picks in the first round, it’s going to be a lot of fun,” he said.

Sullinger’s plan is to return to Houston and Lucas’s tutelage in July for two weeks. Lucas helps players with their physical and mental approach, as well as conditioning. It was a significant step for Sullinger.

“It’s a lot of fun being down there working out with him,” Sullinger said. “He’s an intense guy. He wants his stuff done in a certain way, very old school, similar to my father.”

But Satch Sullinger is not participating in his son’s offseason conditioning program.

“None,” Sullinger said. “He stepped back. We don’t really talk about basketball. It’s the first time that I ever realized he was my father instead of my coach. Finally, he’s letting me grow up and be a man.”

Sullinger admitted that perhaps too many in his circle were offering opinions about his welfare.

“I think it helps having less voices,” he said. “Especially in my situation where you hear so much stuff from 20 different people — less is more.”

What can Sullinger accomplish healthy and in shape? He won’t set his goals in numbers but realizes that he put up nearly 14 points and more than seven rebounds with a bad back and troublesome foot. There are nights Sullinger is relentless on the boards and a cannonball in the paint. Those nights just have to occur more often.

“I feel there’s multiple things I can do [to improve],” he said. “We talk about conditioning all the time but it’s time for me to get it done and just shut up and watch the progress go.”


As free agency begins, the Celtics have their midlevel exception of $5.46 million to offer, as well as a biannual exception of $2.13 million. They also have 10 trade exceptions, but those cannot be combined unless they are able to separate them in the same deal, as they did with the Tayshaun Prince trade to Detroit. Three of those trade exceptions are set to expire this offseason, but only the $1.33 million exception created with the Kris Humphries deal last summer is considered moderately substantial. The Celtics will give forward Jae Crowder a qualifying offer, which will make him a restricted free agent, and will likely renounce the rights to forward Brandon Bass to create cap space.

Keeping score

Value can always be had in the first round of the NBA Draft, a team just needs to know where to find it. A look at the highest scoring average from each of the first 30 draft slots:

Compiled by Mike Carraggi

Gary Washburn can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @GwashburnGlobe. Material from interviews, wire services, other beat writers, and league and team sources was used in this report.