Over the next few days I will be recapping each team's draft and grading them based on a whole bunch of factors. These will be division-by-division articles and today we have the Central Division.
If your favorite team gets an unfavorable grade please don't take it too personally...I have nothing against any of these teams but if they had an awful draft I'm gonna say it.
Pick 14: F Ochai Agbaji, Kansas
Pick 39: C Khalifa Diop, Gran Canaria
Pick 49- F/C Isaiah Mobley, USC
Pick 56- G/F Luke Travers, Australia
With Collin Sexton, Darius Garland, Evan Mobley and Jarret Allen all ready to be back as starters next season, the Cavaliers basically had one need going into the draft: a wing. There were a couple available when it was time for them to pick at 14 but they elected to go with the national champion Agbaji. The biggest criticism with him has been that he's almost a finished product after playing 4 years at Kansas, but when was the last time someone with his talent was a finished product coming out of college? Every pick has bust potential but to say that Agbaji has no room to grow is absurd and I love the fit he got in Cleveland. Diop and Travers were high risk/low reward picks that could turn into bench pieces. The Isaiah Mobley name is interesting since yes, he is the brother of current Cavaliers center Evan Mobley. Overall I was a fan of the Agbaji pick and the rest are kind of just there.
Pick 18: G Dalen Terry, Arizona
UDFA: F Justin Lewis, Marquette
The Bulls have shifted most of their focus towards bringing back star guard Zach LaVine, but they still ended up coming out of draft night with a really good draft. 18 was pretty much around the range that Terry was supposed to go and I really like what he can bring on an NBA floor. Terry showed his athleticism on both ends of the floor for the Wildcats, scoring on the way to the basket mostly and jumping out to get steals on the perimeter. There are concerns about his jumpshot and hecticness on offense but those are both things that will be solved by the right system. Lewis was the steal of the entire draft. I had him ranked at #40 on my big board and looking back he probably should have been higher than that. He's strong enough to score in the paint while still having a decent mid-range shot. Lewis is an explosive player on both ends of the floor and he's one of the guys I can't wait for the NBA world to fall in love with. I'm not sure ether of these guys fit into the Bulls needs but they hit both of these picks out of the park.
Pick 5: G Jaden Ivey, Purdue
Pick 13: C Jalen Duren, Memphis
Out: 2025 1st Round Pick, 2023 1st Round Pick
In: Kemba Walker
The Pistons were understandably active on draft night, trying to end their playoff drought and surround Cade Cunningham with more young talent. Jaden Ivey was a player that could've been in the top 2 in other drafts and grabbing him at 5 is going to go down as an all time steal. The best word to describe Ivey is electric... he'll explode to the basket and finish around the rim with contact. Let's slow down with the comparisons to Ja Morant but that is genuinely a level that Ivey could reach very early in his career. I know they gave up two future firsts, but I love the direction that Detroit is trying to go with this. For the 1st time in a long time, they are trying to inch closer and closer to contention. They needed a point guard to pair with Cunningham; they got Ivey. They needed a center to replace the rotating door that's been at that position since Andre Drummond; they got Duren. Duren didn't live up to the super high expectations he had going into college, but that doesn't mean he was bad ether. With cap space to spend once Free Agency opens on July 1st, who knows where the Pistons could be in a couple years. Kemba Walker will most likely be bought out and not ever play a game for the team.
Pick 6: F Benedict Mathruin, Arizona
Pick 31: G Andrew Nembhard, Gonzaga
Pick 48: F Kendall Brown, Baylor
Out: 2026 2nd Round Pick, Cash
In: "Future Considerations"
The Pacers have quickly gone from contending to tanking and now back to something in between in the course of one season. Mathurin at 6 was the perfect choice, a wing who can shoot from all over the court. I guess I was lower on Nembhard then everyone else because I was shocked when he was taken this early but the NBA community seems to love the pick. I feel like he's a very inconsistent shooter and commits way way too many turnovers for a point guard. The fit makes sense though as the Pacers may have a vacancy at point guard soon.The Kendall Brown pick at 48 is an insane steal and it makes total sense why Indiana traded back into the 1st round to get him when they saw him falling. I know he didnt show anything crazy last year with Baylor but he's still a guy who can play solid on both ends of the floor and is a great athlete. He might not be an impact player immediately, but there is still no reason he should have fallen all the way to this pick. Besides from the Nembhard pick, I really liked the Pacers' draft. Now the focus shifts on wether Myles Turner and/or Malcolm Brogdon will be traded. Maybe I'm being too kind with these grades...
Pick 24: G MarJon Beauchamp, G League Ignite
Pick 58: G Hugo Besson, NZ Breakers
Out: "Future Considerations"
The Bucks made my job a little bit harder by picking two players that are both very much unknowns. Beauchamp was projected around this range and like many other players in this class, he needs to improve his outside shot. Many scouting reports from the G League also said that he needs to be better as a playmaker on offense, which I can agree with after watching his film from last season. Besson was the last pick in the entire draft and I can tell you that he is very raw after playing in France last season. It makes sense that a team like Milwaukee would go for two guys with little experience, as they are already a contender and don't need Beauchamp or Besson to contribute right away. It's hard to grade them anything lower or higher than a B since they didn't need to do anything special but at the same time, they didn't do anything special.