NBA Draft: 1st Round Pick-by-Pick Grades

It took NBA teams only 22 picks to get the 20 players Breitbart Sports reported would be the most valuable NBA players in Draft previews (click here). The only two times a team picked a player we did not have in the top 20 prospects were when the Celtics traded to draft Gonzaga's Kelly Olynyk with the 13th pick (we project he will be only the 27th best player to come out of this draft) and the Bulls selected New Mexico's Tony Snell with the 20th pick (we project he will be only the 54th best player to come out of this draft). Breitbart Sports graded every first-round pick.

Golden State had no draft picks until they traded for the 26th pick to get Andre Roberson in what may go down as the steal of the draft. Roberson will need some work on his game initially, but our projections show that in four years he could be a 65-17 player, tied with Nerlens Noel as the best long-term player to come out of the draft. Teams are happy to come out with a decent reserve at the 26th pick, but Roberson grabbed 27.1% of opponents missed shots and stole the ball on 3.9% of opponents trips down the courts and produced without being a ball hog, among several indicators his upside could be along the lines of Noel.

For the second year in a row a Kentucky center was the best prospect in our exclusive analysis (Anthony Davis and Nerlens Noel), but this year New Orleans was able to get the top player with the sixth pick (Noel is set to be traded to Philadelphia). Alex Len was similar to Andre Drummond from last year, the player who dominated physically throughout the combines despite not having big stats. One executive told me during last year's prep, "Your analysis looks right on except for Drummond--he is the one guy who is so dominant the stats do not matter." When players are traded after being drafted (Nerlens Noel to Philadelphia at No.6 and Trey Burke to Utah at No. 9) the table reflects the team that ended up with the player even though these trades officially need to be approved by the league.

The "Value" column indicates how high the player ranked in the potential to produce in the NBA based on the comprehensive study presented in Breitbart Sports (click here).

Therefore, Noel was the 6th player picked, but the 1st in NBA Value, and Philadelphia gets an "A" grade for picking up so much value with the 6th pick.

The best pick of the draft so far was Detroit getting Kentavious Caldwell-Pope from Georgia instead of hometown favorite Trey Burke. Most mock drafts had "KCP" going late in the first round, but the exclusive calculations in Breitbart Sports indicate he should be the seventh most valuable player to come out of the draft. Burke was the second most valuable and would be worth a 42-40 record the first season but stay at about that level over time with his size limiting him. The Pistons are not going to win anything the coming season, when KCP will be worth a 34-48 record, but within four years he projects to be much better than Burke at 47-35 - a true NBA star.

The worst pick so far is Kelly Olynyk, who never projects to be better than a 27-55 player, which is a marginal reserve in the league.

A risky international pick was followed by two great international picks (Alex Len and Steven Adams were international players who came to the US to play college basketball, but these are the first two players coming from international play straight into the NBA draft. Lucas Nogueira dominated US teams at the U-18 level and has been playing in one of the best leagues in the world and is a great pick for a 7-footer with the 16th pick by Boston to be traded.

The Hawks did even better, getting a potentially great point guard in Dennis Schroeder, whom we project as the ninth best player in the entire draft, our first "AA" rating as an absolute steal at the 17th pick.

However, the Bucks picking Giannis Antetokounmpo with the 15th pick is a huge risk. He actually projects out as a potential big producer, but this pick is like seeing a player dominate Division III basketball in the US and then grabbing him because he is so dominant. The picked someone with a potential upside, but the NBA play is going to look incredibly fast to him. 

The Chicago Bulls passed up on what could have been a steal at no. 20--Gorgui Dieng was an absolute steal there, but Chicago instead went with with Tony Snell out of New Mexico, who we do not project to be good enough to stay in the league. In four years we project Dieng to be a 50-32 level player - probably an All-Star, while we project Snell to be a 7-75 player - with his contract not extended. The New York Metro crowd included Nets fans who love the choice of Mason Plumlee (one of the best picks yet who projects as a 41-41 player - a borderline starter - which is unusual to find late in the first round. The Knicks fans loved the choice of Tim Hardaway, but he is a borderline player who will not get to shoot so much in the pros and did not have the number of steals and other indicators of a strong NBA player. Oklahoma City may have had the steal of the draft to set them up for future NBA titles. Andre Roberson is rated overall as the 26th best player in our pre-draft analysis, where he went in the draft, but his upside projects him as a 65-17 player in four years. His dominant 27.1 percent of opponents misses grabbed, and steals on 3.9 percent of opponents trips down the court.

Pick NBA Team Value Grade Player Team Age/Yr Height/Weight
1 Cleveland 8 C Anthony Bennett PF UNLV 20/Fr. 6' 7" 239lbs.
2 Orlando 6 B Victor Oladipo SG Indiana 21/Jr. 6' 4" 213lbs.
3 Washington 3 B Otto Porter SF Georgetown 20/So. 6' 9" 198lbs.
4 Charlotte 4 B Cody Zeller PF/C Indiana 20/So. 7' 0" 230lbs.
5 Phoenix 20 B Alex Len C Maryland 20/So. 7' 1" 255lbs.
6 Philadelphia 1 A Nerlens Noel C Kentucky 19/Fr. 7' 0" 206lbs.
7 Sacramento 5 A Ben McLemore SG Kansas 20/Fr. 6' 5" 189lbs.
8 Detroit 7 A Kentavious Caldwell-Pope SG Georgia 20/So. 6' 6" 204lbs.
9 Utah 2 A Trey Burke PG Michigan 20/So. 6' 1" 187lbs.
10 Portland 16 B CJ McCollum PG/SG (2012) Lehigh 21/Sr. 6' 3" 197lbs.
11 Philadelphia 10 A Michael Carter-Williams PG Syracuse 21/So. 6' 6" 184lbs.
12 Oklahoma City 11 A Steven Adams C Pittsburgh 19/Fr. 7' 0" 255lbs.
13 Boston 27 D Kelly Olynyk C Gonzaga 22/Jr. 7' 0" 234lbs.
14 Minnesota 18 B Shabazz Muhammad SF UCLA 20/Fr. 6' 6" 222lbs.
15 Milwaukee 12 B Giannis Adetokunbo SF Filathlitikos 18/Intl. 6' 9" 196lbs.
16 Boston 14 A Lucas Nogueira C Estudiantes 20/Intl. 7' 0" 220lbs.
17 Atlanta 9 AA Dennis Schroeder PG Braunschweig 19/Intl. 6' 2" 165lbs.
18 Dallas 17 A Shane Larkin PG Miami FL 20/So. 5' 11" 171lbs.
19 Cleveland 19 B Sergey Karasev SF Triumph Moscow 19/Intl. 6' 7" 197lbs.
20 Chicago 54 D Tony Snell SF New Mexico 21/Jr. 6' 7" 198lbs.
21 Utah 13 AA Gorgui Dieng C Louisville 23/Jr. 6' 11" 230lbs.
22 Brooklyn 15 AA Mason Plumlee C Duke 23/Sr. 7' 0" 238lbs.
23 Indiana 49 D Solomon Hill SF Arizona 22/Sr. 6' 7" 226lbs.
24 New York 37 C Tim Hardaway Jr SG Michigan 21/Jr. 6' 6" 185lbs.
25 LA Clippers 23 A Reggie Bullock SF North Carolina 22/Jr. 6' 7" 200lbs.
26 Oklahoma City 26 AA Andre Roberson PF Colorado 21/Jr. 6' 7" 206lbs.
27 Denver 24 A Rudy Gobert C Cholet 20/Intl. 7' 2" 238lbs.
28 San Antonio 34 B Livio Jean-Charles SF/PF Villeurbanne 19/Intl. 6' 9" 217lbs.
29 Phoenix 55 D Archie Goodwin SG Kentucky 18/Fr. 6' 5" 189lbs.
30 Golden State 51 D Nemanja Nedovic PG Lietuvos Rytas 22/Intl. 6' 4" 200lbs.

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