2024 NBA draft grades for all 30 teams: Who hit the jackpot? (2024)

NEW YORK — Some NBA teams need help now, especially the teams at the bottom of the standings. That's why the NBA draft is so important. How can a team improve? The draft is one vehicle that can make that happen.

Some NBA teams don't need immediate help from young players, so the urgency to find a contributor now isn't as pressing. Still, teams like Boston, Dallas and New York seek players who can contribute at some point.

Now that the draft is over, let’s take a look at who did well and who tripped with USA TODAY Sports' NBA draft grades.

2024 NBA draft grades

Eastern Conference

Atlanta Hawks: B+

The Hawks used the No. 1 overall pick on Zaccaharie Risacher, and it was Atlanta’s first No. 1 pick since 1975. With no clear consensus top pick, the Hawks need Risacher to work out.

Boston Celtics: B

The Celtics love to shoot 3s and found someone who loves to shoot 3s at No. 30: Creighton’s Baylor Scheierman.

Brooklyn Nets: C-

The Nets had zero draft picks. However, it should be noted they acquired several future first-round picks from the Knicks in the deal that sent Mikal Bridges from Brooklyn to New York.

MORE:Mavericks trade Tim Hardaway Jr. and three second-round picks to Pistons

ANALYSIS:NBA power rankings: How every team stacks up after draft

Charlotte Hornets: C+

The Hornets took a gamble at No. 6 with France’s Tidjane Salaun who was projected by several mock drafts as a later lottery pick. But the Hornets see something, and we will find out if they’re right. They found a solid all-around guard in Colorado's KJ Simpson in the second round.

Chicago Bulls: B+

Matas Buzelis has top-five potential, and the Bulls got him at No. 11 so you can argue they got solid value at that spot.

Cleveland Cavaliers: B

The Cavaliers’ front office spends a lot of time evaluating players, and while Cal’s Jaylon Tyson was projected as a late first-round pick, the Cavs saw value in taking him at No. 20.

Detroit Pistons: B+

Ron Holland was a top prospect coming out of high school in 2023 and is an explosive wing who can help the Pistons. He needs work offensively but has a high ceiling as a scorer.

Indiana Pacers: B+

The Pacers picked Kansas shooting guard Johnny Murphy in the second round, a player who was a projected first-round pick. They also drafted UConn All-American Tristen Newton and Akron’s Enrique Freeman in the second round. Not bad for a team with no first-round picks.

Miami Heat: B+

Miami drafted a rim-protecting big and promising scorer in Indiana’s Kel’el Ware at No. 15 and selected shooting guard Pelle Larsson at No. 44 – and you can bet the Heat will turn Larsson into a contributor with their player development program.

Milwaukee Bucks: B

The Bucks don’t have salary cap flexibility so they need contributors at value prices and may have found two with AJ Johnson (23rd pick) and Tyler Smith (33rd pick). Smith is another player who could’ve been selected in the first round.

New York Knicks: B+

The Knicks got Marquette’s Tyler Kolek at No. 34, and he easily could’ve been a first-round pick. They drafted France’s Pacome Dadiet in the first round at No. 25. New York selected Kansas’ Kevin McCullar Jr. at No. 56, and he’s another player with late first-round talent.

MORE:New York Knicks acquiring Mikal Bridges in pricey trade with Brooklyn Nets. Who won?

ANALYSIS:2025 NBA mock draft: Cooper Flagg, Ace Bailey highlight next year's top prospects

Orlando Magic: B

The Magic drafted a long, versatile forward in Colorado’s Tristan da Silva who can score and defend, and the Magic need scoring.

Philadelphia 76ers: B

Duke’s Jared McCain will help fill a scoring role from the perimeter and at the rim, and forward-center Adem Bona from UCLA provides depth in the middle as a rim protector and finisher at the rim.

Toronto Raptors: B-

The Raptors had lots of bites at the draft apple, making four selections – one at No. 19 Ja’Kobe Walter and three in the second round, including intriguing NBA Academy Africa prospect Ulrich Chomche.

Washington Wizards: A-

The Wizards started the draft with two first-round picks and ended with three, including two lottery picks (Alex Sarr at No. 2 and Carlton "Bub" Carrington at No. 14). That’s exactly what a rebuilding franchise needs.

Western Conference

Dallas Mavericks: B-

While Dallas only had one pick, Melvin Ajinça at No. 51, he’s a player who fits exactly what the Mavs need. With the offense running through Luka Dončić and Kyrie Irving, this was about finding another athletic wing who would expend energy on defense, while knocking down perimeter shots. Granted, his stroke from beyond the arc can be streaky, but he’s physically built — at 6-foot-8 and 218 pounds.

MORE:Mavericks trade Tim Hardaway Jr. and three second-round picks to Pistons

Denver Nuggets: B+

The Nuggets are fairly balanced and complete, as far as roster construction goes, so it makes sense for the team to devote its capital toward the player they liked most. They did that in the trade up with the Suns to secure DaRon Holmes II, a two-way wing who shined in the NCAA Tournament for Dayton. He’ll need to shore up his defense some, but he’s lethal in pick-and-roll situations, which just so happens to be the staple of Denver’s offense.

Golden State Warriors: C-

They only had one pick, and it was the seventh-to-last selection in the second round, so the overall return is obviously underwhelming, especially for a team that needs a continued infusion of young talent. Quinten Post is a 7-foot center with limited speed and athleticism, so it’s difficult seeing him getting on the floor without ample time in the G League, even if he’s 24.

Houston Rockets: B

Your feeling on this grade will depend entirely on how you feel about Reed Sheppard. His natural feel for the game and offensive efficiency cannot be questioned. He always seems to make the right play. In college, he was a tenacious defender, but he should find that more difficult at the next level. The Rockets were enamored with Sheppard throughout the pre-draft process, and there’s something about getting the guy that you think fits your system. His deep-shooting ability should make him an instant contributor.

2024 NBA draft grades for all 30 teams: Who hit the jackpot? (2)

Los Angeles Clippers: D+

There’s a huge cloud hanging over the Clippers in the form of Paul George, who can opt out of his contract. Los Angeles, however, entered the draft with only one pick, No. 46 in the second round. The Clippers took Cam Christie, a shooting guard with good size who needs to bulk up some before he can be a regular in the rotation. He may turn out to be a fine rotation player, but it’s difficult to see a legitimate impact coming from just this pick.

Los Angeles Lakers: A+

This was an easy draft for the Lakers. Dalton Knecht, a player widely considered to be worthy of a lottery pick, fell to them at No. 17. A unanimous first-team All-American who had plenty of experience, Knecht should step in right away, especially because his game so closely resembles that of his rookie head coach, J.J. Reddick. And then, regardless of whether you think Bronny James can develop into a rotation player (and he has some traits to do so), drafting him keeps LeBron James happy, and, with a limited window to contend, that’s the biggest win the Lakers could’ve asked for.

Memphis Grizzlies: C+

Their need for a big means they likely reached with the Zach Edey selection at No. 9. This will be an interesting study, whether a deliberate, big-bodied center can adapt to the pace of a league that seems to get faster every season. What’s interesting about Edey, and what’s often lost, is that he has played hoops for only six years, so he does have massive growth potential, despite being a senior. In the second round, Jaylen Wells brings size, defense and shooting — including 42% on catch-and-shoot threes — and Cam Spencer might be the best shooter in the class.

Minnesota Timberwolves: A-

Credit Minnesota for attacking its weaknesses. After falling short in the conference finals, this was all about infusing athleticism and scoring in its backcourt — especially during the non-Anthony Edwards minutes. When the Mavericks double-teamed Edwards, the offense stagnated. Trading into the top 10 is an aggressive move, but Rob Dillingham (44.4% from 3-point range) is a confident and elite shot creator with range to spare. Guard Terrance Shannon Jr. was third in the nation in scoring with 23 points per game so the Wolves suddenly have offensive focal points in the backcourt when Edwards gets a blow.

New Orleans Pelicans: B+

The Pels looked to solve a pair of clear problems. In the first round, they looked at bouncy big man Yves Missi, 6-foot-11and 229 pounds, as a piece to mitigate the potential loss of Jonas Valančiūnas in free agency. Missi’s offensive game needs some refinement, but he’s an explosive lob threat who can also slip onto other players when defending the pick-and-roll. In the second round, guard Antonio Reeves and his 44.7% stroke from 3-point range should help a team that got just 32.5% of its points from beyond the arc.

Oklahoma City Thunder: B

The Thunder still have a stockpile of draft picks and, after earning the No. 1 seed, general manager Sam Presti is in a tremendous spot: this young team will continue to develop so it wasn’t imperative to add immediate difference makers. Still, Nikola Topić, 18, is a more offensively-gifted version of what former point guard Josh Giddey (traded to the Bulls) brought, though he’ll need time to develop. OKC clearly loved Dillon Jones, shipping five second-round choices to take him, and he figures to provide rebounding help after averaging 9.8 rebounds his senior season at Weber State.

Phoenix Suns: B

Of all 16 teams in the playoffs, the Suns ranked last in postseason defensive efficiency. It’s no surprise then, that Phoenix took Ryan Dunn, one of the top stoppers — if not the best defender — available. He’s long and ultra-athletic and can guard multiple positions. His offensive game is limited, so he’ll need to refine that side to get steady minutes. In the second round, Oso Ighodaro is a jack-of-all-trades who should help in particular on the glass, but it may be tough for him to crack the rotation.

Portland Trail Blazers: C+

Picking the best available pure center in Donovan Clingan, a player some prognosticators had potentially going No. 1 overall, was always going to be a solid move. What’s difficult here is the fit. Plenty of teams have found success with two 7-footers on the floor, but neither Clingan nor Deandre Ayton — whom the Blazers owe nearly $70 million over the next two seasons — are perimeter players who can space the floor on offense. The rim may be well-protected, but the offense may be a slog.

Sacramento Kings: B+

The Kings ended up with one selection after they traded their second rounder, but the player they took 13th overall, guard Devin Carter, provided excellent value toward the end of the lottery. Carter isn’t terribly tall at 6-foot-2, but he his longer wingspan and tenacious effort should make him an instant contributor on defense. The main problem for Sacramento, even after it traded Davion Mitchell on Thursday, is that it has a logjam of guards, so finding playing time for Carter might be tricky, even if he led the Big East in scoring.

San Antonio Spurs: B

This requires a bit of faith on the calculated gamble that Stephon Castle will blossom into a tall and long point guard (which he played in high school), and one who can develop a rapport with generational talent Victor Wembanyama. Castle is also a lockdown defender, so if he can further develop his playmaking ability, this could be a home run. If that fails, Juan Núñez in the second round is another swing at point guard, though he will certainly need some time to develop. Harrison Ingram should be a classic “three-and-D” project off the bench.

Utah Jazz: A

The name of the game for Utah was reading the board and taking the best player available. Cody Williams is young and still a little raw but it’s easy to see where his game might go by comparing him to his older brother Jalen, who has emerged as one of the young stars in Oklahoma City. He’ll be a smooth, unhurried attacker on offense, though he needs to build muscle on a 178-pound frame. It was exceptional value getting Isaiah Collier to fall at No. 29, and it’s worth wondering if the Jazz just found their eventual replacement for Collin Sexton. And then at No. 32, Kyle Filipowski will be an interesting pairing alongside Lauri Markkanen, but at the very least, he’s a Kelly Olynyk clone — a player the Jazz have missed since they traded him in February.

2024 NBA draft grades for all 30 teams: Who hit the jackpot? (2024)
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