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Grades for all 30 NBA draft classes: Best picks, biggest reaches and which teams got value


Which teams were the winners and losers of the 2024 NBA draft? While we won’t know exactly how every prospect will fare over the next few seasons, we can make judgements on picks based on value of the selection and how teams maneuvered the board.

Let’s grade how all 30 teams did in the league’s first two-day draft, which was marked by a large collection of French players selected and, of course, Bronny James‘ entry into the NBA.

Generally speaking, my grades for teams are based on how well they maximized the picks they entered the draft with rather than simply how much talent they accumulated, given that’s more a product of last season’s record (or past trades) than decision-making in the draft. I use my player projections as a guide for the value of prospects — based on their age, performance and more metrics — and take into account whether they were drafted higher or lower than those projections.

Let’s get into my grades, going in alphabetical order:

Jump to a team:

Round 1: Zaccharie Risacher (No. 1)
Round 2: Nikola Djurisic (No. 43 via Miami)

In a draft without a consensus No. 1 prospect, Atlanta went with perhaps the closest thing in Risacher, whose size and shooting fills a need in the Hawks’ future starting five alongside power forward Jalen Johnson and whichever point guard the team keeps.

Because Risacher did relatively little to fill out the box score playing in France, I had him ranked behind Reed Sheppard, Alex Sarr and Donovan Clingan in terms of potential. Given the eye of the beholder nature of this year’s draft, however, evaluating Risacher as the top prospect was reasonable.

Originally, Atlanta held only the No. 1 pick. The Hawks added a second-round pick Thursday in a deal sending AJ Griffin to the Houston Rockets and took Serbian guard Nikola Djurisic, the second-lowest rated draft pick in my stats-based projections.

Round 1: Baylor Scheierman (No. 30)
Round 2: Anton Watson (No. 54)

With all eight players who saw at least 20 minutes of action in the NBA Finals under contract, the Celtics had the luxury of drafting with an eye toward a couple of years down the road. Given that framework, I would have preferred a swing on Kansas forward Johnny Furphy, who’s four years younger than the 23-year-old Scheierman. Still, it’s easy to see how Scheierman’s shooting and size will fit in Boston much the same way as Sam Hauser does now.

The Celtics took another experienced player in Round 2, Gonzaga forward Anton Watson. Watson offers defensive versatility and shot 41% from 3 as a fifth-year senior, albeit on just 51 attempts.

The Nets sent the No. 3 overall pick to Houston as part of their 2021 trade for James Harden, a painful outcome that may have influenced Brooklyn trading to extinguish a 2025 swap with the Rockets and get back its 2026 pick. After that trade, we can expect the host team to pick high next year as the Nets embrace a rebuild.

Round 1: Tidjane Salaun (No. 6)
Round 2: KJ Simpson (No. 42)

Reports suggested the Hornets would trade down from No. 6, but they stayed put and took Salaun toward the high end of his possible draft range. As when the Washington Wizards drafted Bilal Coulibaly No. 7 a year ago, this is a case of a new front office taking a young player (Salaun is still just 18) with an eye toward long-term upside and the risk that Salaun never develops into an NBA contributor.

The Hornets made Simpson the third Colorado player drafted. Of the three, he was the best last season, averaging 19.7 PPG and 4.9 APG while shooting 43% from 3-point range.

Round 1: Matas Buzelis (No. 11)

In one of the first round’s most memorable moments, Buzelis and his family were overcome by emotion after the Chicago native was drafted by his hometown team. I wasn’t quite as high on Buzelis as our draft scouts, who had him No. 5 in their final top 100, but it’s hard to argue with the value here.

The interesting question is whether adding Buzelis affects the Bulls’ negotiations with restricted free agent forward Patrick Williams. Re-signing both Williams and DeMar DeRozan would likely push Chicago into the luxury tax barring another money-saving trade, presumably involving Zach LaVine.

Round 1: Jaylon Tyson (No. 20)

It’s neither surprising that the Cavaliers drafted a wing — the position they’ve been seeking to fill since before adding Donovan Mitchell two years ago — or that they went for a more polished college veteran rather than a younger prospect like Kyshawn George. Tyson’s skill set projects well to a 3-and-D role in the NBA, particularly if he shoots more like 2022-23 (40%) than last season (36%), when he spent more time on the ball at Cal.

Round 2: Melvin Ajinca (No. 51 via New York)

Having sent their first-round pick to the New York Knicks to complete the Kristaps Porzingis trade, the Mavericks originally weren’t scheduled to come on the clock until the final pick of the night. They swapped up seven spots to take Ajinca, a young French wing who might not come to Dallas immediately.

Round 1: DaRon Holmes II (No. 22 via Phoenix)

Under GM Calvin Booth, the Nuggets have never been shy about favoring their own projections over consensus. They’re betting big on Holmes, ESPN’s 38th-ranked prospect, after another team evidently coveted Holmes enough to force Denver to trade up from No. 28 to No. 22 to take him. That cost the Nuggets their only second-round pick, as well as a pair of future second-rounders. Holmes is skilled for a high-flying big man of his ilk, having averaged a 3 per game at a 39% clip last season at Dayton.

Round 1: Ron Holland II (No. 5)
Round 2: Bobi Klintman (No. 37 via Minnesota)

Drafting Holland No. 5 after he was 13th in ESPN’s final mock draft was one of the biggest surprises of Wednesday’s first round, but I see the logic. Holland was as impressive as any player in the 2024 class as a prep prospect before a disappointing season spent with G League Ignite. If you believe that was more about Ignite’s poor roster construction than Holland individually, taking him in the top five absolutely makes sense.

The biggest question is adding another non-shooter to a Detroit team already lacking in that skill, including last year’s No. 5 pick Ausar Thompson. The Pistons may be counting heavily on internal growth led by new assistant coach Fred Vinson, who has a strong track record of developing shooters with New Orleans. Klintman, who hit 36% of his 3s from the FIBA line in the Australian NBL, does bring some shooting ability.

Round 2: Quinten Post (No. 52 via Oklahoma City)

The Warriors’ second-round pick took a circuitous route Thursday. Golden State traded it to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Lindy Waters III, then reacquired it from the New York Knicks after yet another trade. Surprisingly for a team that has tended to hew closely to my projections in the past, the Warriors took the lowest rated of any drafted player this year. Post is already 24 and shot a low percentage inside the arc for a modern big man (54% on 2s last season).

Round 1: Reed Sheppard (No. 3)

For all the talk of a Durant trade — shot down by Phoenix owner Mat Ishbia on social media prior to the first round — staying at No. 3 and drafting Sheppard always made the most sense for the Rockets. As I noted in my final draft projections, no team has gotten more value according to my projections relative to where they draft than Houston.

The Rockets did it again here, landing my top overall prospect with the No. 3 pick. Better yet, Sheppard fits well alongside Houston’s young talent. I especially love pairing his shooting with Amen Thompson‘s athleticism while allowing both to wreak havoc as defensive playmakers. The Rockets traded out of the second round, sending the No. 44 pick to Atlanta for 2022 first-round pick AJ Griffin.

Round 2: Johnny Furphy (No. 35 via San Antonio), Tristen Newton (No. 49), Enrique Freeman (No. 50)

Despite not having a first-round pick, the Pacers landed the No. 5 player in my projections when they moved up one spot to stop Furphy’s slide into the second round. I get why scouts might not have believed Furphy was a lottery talent as my projections suggested, but to see him not go in the first round was legitimately shocking. If Furphy develops as a shooter with size, he’d fit well alongside Pascal Siakam in the Indiana frontcourt.

Later, the Pacers picked a pair of 23-year-old college veterans who rated well for their age in Newton and Freeman, both of whom have the potential to contribute immediately as late second-rounders.

Round 2: Cam Christie (No. 46)

Christie ends up in the same city as his brother, Max, drafted No. 35 by the Lakers in the 2022 draft. (Max is now a restricted free agent.) As I wrote in explaining why Christie was ranked 12th in my projections, he was more productive than his brother as one-and-done players. Christie is also one of the youngest players in this draft, still just 18. Midway through the second round, he was one of the draft’s best values.

Round 1: Dalton Knecht (No. 17)
Round 2: Bronny James (No. 55)

It’s no secret that my projections were low on Knecht, who rated outside my top 30 because of his age (23), limited productivity early in his college career and low rates of assists, steals and blocks. As a result, I couldn’t buy lottery hype for Knecht. By the middle of the first round, drafting him primarily on the strength of his shooting made far more sense.

Knecht will still have to prove he can hang defensively on a team that hasn’t had the perimeter depth to hide players, but his shooting is an ideal fit with Anthony Davis and LeBron James.

Given the track record for picks in the 50s, bringing in Bronny James as a development project is completely reasonable for the Lakers. It’s a win for the Lakers that they could draft Bronny without needing to sacrifice anything to move up.

Round 1: Zach Edey (No. 9)
Round 2: Jaylen Wells (No. 39), Cam Spencer (No. 53 via Detroit)

Even having Edey at No. 4 overall in my stats-based projections based on his historic level of productivity at Purdue, I was shocked to see him go in the top 10. (Check out my reaction on the Hoop Collective live show if you don’t believe it.) Like scouts, I’m uncertain Edey can be a full-time starter because of the limitations imposed by his defensive mobility, and I would have been more comfortable drafting him in the teens.

That concern noted, the Grizzlies needed to come out of this draft with a center and got one. I liked the relative value better for Memphis in round two. Wells was in the top 30 of my projections thanks to his combination of 42% 3-point shooting in his lone Division I season and size at 6-8. The Grizzlies also got one of the draft’s better shooters in Spencer, who shined as a transfer addition to help UConn win the national title.

Round 1: Kel’el Ware (No. 15)
Round 2: Pelle Larsson (No. 44 via Houston)

I was surprised Ware went ahead of Yves Missi, who was generally higher among centers in most draft rankings but I can see how the fit will work in Miami. Ware’s ability to stretch the floor (42.5% from 3-point range last season, albeit on just 40 attempts) could eventually allow him to play with Bam Adebayo instead of strictly backing him up. Like Missi, Ware brings above-the-rim finishing in the pick-and-roll game.

Larsson fits the mold of Miami shooters with size, having hit 43% of his 3s as a senior at Arizona. The Heat will surely encourage Larsson to increase his volume beyond the arc.

Round 1: AJ Johnson (No. 23)
Round 2: Tyler Smith (No. 33)

Down the road, drafting the 19-year-old Johnson could pay off for the Bucks, but I’m not sure what down the road means for a contending team with three starters who will be at least 33 by opening night. After looking creaky last season, I felt Milwaukee needed an injection of athleticism and defense on the wing after looking struggling there last season. Johnson projects more as an on-ball option and played sparingly (198 total minutes) as an import in the Australian NBL last season, suggesting he’s far from contributing in the NBA.

I’m much higher on the addition of Smith in the second round. As a floor-spacing big with defensive question marks, Smith can use Bucks sixth man Bobby Portis Jr. as a point of comparison for his development.

Round 1: Rob Dillingham (No. 8 via San Antonio), Terrence Shannon Jr. (No. 27)

The Timberwolves giving up a future first and a swap to take Dillingham No. 8 was perhaps draft night’s most fascinating swing. Limited in terms of future picks after the Rudy Gobert trade, Minnesota gave up much of its remaining flexibility to draft the kind of top-10 player unlikely to be available to the team any time soon otherwise.

If Dillingham can hold up defensively, his combination of shot-making and ballhandling could make him Anthony Edwards‘ future partner in the backcourt. I’m less enamored of taking Shannon with the No. 27 pick. The oldest player taken in the first round, Shannon succeeded as a fifth-year senior in large part because of his size and strength advantages, which won’t entirely carry over to the NBA. In an off-ball role, Shannon’s iffy 3-point shooting (36% last season, 35% career) will be emphasized.

Round 1: Yves Missi (No. 21)
Round 2: Antonio Reeves (No. 47 via Orlando)

With starter Jonas Valanciunas a free agent, center was unquestionably the biggest need for the Pelicans, and Missi was the top player at the position. I do wonder about how a rim-runner with limited range will fit next to Zion Williamson, but on the defensive end of the court Missi offers some of the scheme versatility provided by Larry Nance Jr. with more size and rim protection.

Round 1: Pacome Dadiet (No. 25)
Round 2: Tyler Kolek (No. 34 via Portland), Kevin McCullar Jr. (No. 56 via Phoenix), Ariel Hukporti (No. 58)

When the Knicks took Dadiet after trading down from No. 24 to No. 26 and eventually out of that pick altogether, it triggered immediate speculation they’d stash the 18-year-old French forward overseas to create slightly more cap flexibility. Dadiet told reporters he’d like to come to New York immediately after playing off the bench for EuroCup club Ratiopharm Ulm.

In the second round, the Knicks added a couple of college veterans who will be important to their cap outlook after incurring a hard cap this season. Although Kolek went to a rival of New York’s several former Villanova stars, Marquette, his toughness and playmaking fit the Knicks. McCullar is another experienced big-game player with a versatile skill set.

At 22, Hukporti is also more ready to contribute in the NBA than the usual international prospect. Hukporti’s strengths (offensive rebounding and rim protection) are what New York covets in centers.

Round 1: Nikola Topic (No. 12), Dillon Jones (No. 26 via Washington)
Round 2: Ajay Mitchell (No. 38 via New York)

The Thunder played to type with both first-round picks they made Wednesday. The 6-foot-6 Topic is the latest Oklahoma City ball handler with size. As with Josh Giddey, the biggest question about Topic is how well he’ll shoot 3s after hitting 25% this season across Adriatic and EuroLeague play. Given Topic is just 18 and hit 86% from the foul line, there’s reason for the Thunder to believe they can develop his shooting by the time he’ll be back on the court after suffering a partial ACL tear.

Jones, acquired in exchange for multiple future second-round picks, fits an Oklahoma City archetype of wings who play bigger than their size. Jones measured 6-foot-4½ barefoot at the NBA draft combine but averaged 10.5 RPG over his last three seasons at Weber State. Add in playmaking skill (5.2 APG last season) and a modicum of shooting (32% career) and Jones fits the outline of a Thunder wing in the Andre Roberson mold.

A second Thunder trade, with New York, yielded UCSB’s Ajay Mitchell, a point guard with size who shot 39% from 3 last season after hitting just 29% his first two campaigns.

Round 1: Tristan da Silva (No. 18)

I can see the logic in Orlando drafting da Silva, a skilled big man whose shooting ability (1.9 3s per game as a senior on 39.5% accuracy) fits well alongside Magic building blocks Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner. I question whether da Silva will do enough else to justify getting on the court to utilize that shooting. If Orlando envisions playing da Silva in the frontcourt with Banchero, his poor rim protection (just 0.7 blocks per 40 minutes) could be an impediment. Da Silva is also a poor rebounder, topping out at 5.1 RPG.

Round 1: Jared McCain (No. 16)
Round 2: Adem Bona (No. 41)

The stat-minded Sixers landing McCain, my eighth-ranked prospect, at No. 16 is no surprise. McCain’s shooting (41% on nearly six 3-point attempts per game) should fit well on a team that needs to space the floor for Joel Embiid. I do wonder how much McCain (6-2 barefoot) will be able to play alongside 6-2 Philadelphia starter Tyrese Maxey. However, getting value is more important in the long term than questions of fit.

Bona wasn’t quite as strong by my projections, but there’s a lot to like about his defensive potential after he blocked 2.7 shots and came up with 1.7 steals per 40 minutes as a sophomore. Compare those with Sixers backup Paul Reed, who averaged 2.3 blocks and 1.3 steals per 40 when he was a sophomore at DePaul.

Round 1: Ryan Dunn (No. 28 via Denver)
Round 2: Oso Ighodaro (No. 40 via Portland)

Based on their pair of picks, the Suns came into this draft determined to add defensive versatility. Dunn’s ability to generate steals and blocks and defend multiple positions makes him the top player available by that metric, while Ighodaro also stood out for his ability to switch on defense. Phoenix still needs both players to be viable enough offensively to utilize their defensive tools — the reason they were available where they were — but the best-case versions of Dunn and Ighodaro fit ideally with the Suns’ offensive stars.

Round 1: Donovan Clingan (No. 7)

After speculation they might trade up in pursuit of Clingan, the Blazers were able to stay at the seventh pick and get my second-ranked prospect. Adding Clingan creates a logjam at center for Portland with starter Deandre Ayton and backup Robert Williams III coming back from knee surgery. That’s less important than the Blazers getting the best available talent, and Clingan qualifies as a potential backstop for their offensive-minded young perimeter players.

Having started the draft with four picks, Portland ended up making just one after sending the No. 14 pick to the Washington Wizards as part of a deal for Deni Avdija and trading both second-rounders for future ones.

Round 1: Devin Carter (No. 13)

Carter represents Sacramento’s latest swing at finding a defensive-minded guard to play behind and potentially with starter De’Aaron Fox. The highest of those picks, Davion Mitchell, was traded to the Toronto Raptors in a cap-related move Thursday. The Kings also still have 2022 second-round pick Keon Ellis and 2023 second-rounder Colby Jones.

Of those players, Carter has the best chance of sticking. He was more productive for his age than Mitchell and more highly regarded by scouts than Ellis and Jones.

Round 1: Stephon Castle (No. 4)
Round 2: Juan Nunez (No. 36 via Indiana), Harrison Ingram (No. 48)

Despite trading the eighth pick to Minnesota in a deal that adds to their stockpile of future first-rounders, the Spurs doubled up on adding to their backcourt. Castle is the big name, having helped UConn to a second consecutive title as a freshman starter. His size, skills and defensive versatility are all pluses, but Castle will need to develop as either a playmaker or an outside shooter in order to become a legitimate two-way contributor.

In the second round, San Antonio added one of the draft’s better playmakers in 20-year-old Nunez, a possible candidate to continue his development overseas. The Spurs also drafted Ingram, betting on his improvement to 38.5% from 3-point range as a junior after hitting 32% his first two seasons.

Round 1: Ja’Kobe Walter (No. 19)
Round 2: Jonathan Mogbo (No. 31), Jamal Shead (No. 45 via Sacramento), Ulrich Chomche (No. 57 via Memphis)

I’ll admit I’m not totally sure why my projections were quite so high on Walter, who ranked sixth. Getting him at the No. 19 pick is solid value and represents Toronto taking another shot on adding valuable wing shooting after drafting Gradey Dick a year ago.

Mogbo was one of my favorite sleepers in this year’s draft. His ability to play up positionally at barely 6-foot-6 barefoot using athleticism and effort is somewhat reminiscent of former Raptors big man Precious Achiuwa. Shead is an experienced college point guard who enjoyed a breakthrough campaign last season at age 21.

Round 1: Cody Williams (No. 10)
Round 2: Kyle Filipowski (No. 32)

If you told people a year ago the Jazz would land both Collier and Williams, they’d surely wonder how Utah acquired a second lottery pick. Both players entered the season ranked in the top 10 before uneven freshman performances in the former Pac-12.

Of the two, I’m actually somewhat higher on Collier, who went 19 picks lower. He was more productive in the Nike EYBL competition as well as at USC, granting that Williams played through injury at Colorado. I would have preferred the Jazz going a different direction with the 10th pick. I did like the value in Utah stopping Filipowski’s slide early in the second round. Former Jazzman Kelly Olynyk is a comp for Filipowski, so Utah should have a good idea how to use him.

Round 1: Alex Sarr (No. 2), Bub Carrington (No. 14), Kyshawn George (No. 24 via New York)

Starting the night with only one pick in the top 25, the Wizards landed three of my top 15 prospects. That was partially because Washington got a second lottery pick by trading Avdija to Portland, landing Carrington. The Wizards also moved up two spots to take George, who went a tad lower than projected.

None of Washington’s three rookies is older than age 20. Nor is 2023 Wizards lottery pick Bilal Coulibaly, giving their rebuild a diverse base of young talent as a starting point. In Sarr, they might have got the player with the most star potential in the 2024 draft. Washington’s rebuild is moving slowly in the right direction.


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