2014 NBA Draft: Grading every Big Ten pick

A total of seven Big Ten prospects were selected in Thursday’s NBA draft. Michigan’s Nik Stauskas was the first player to come off the board at No. 8 overall, while Iowa’s Roy Devyn Marble was the final Big Ten prospect selected at No. 56. After every draft, comes plenty of draft grades. Here is a look at how some of the top sites graded last night’s Big Ten NBA Draft picks.

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No. 8: Michigan SG Nik Stauskas (Sacramento)

Marc Spears, @SpearsNBAYahoo, Yahoo Sports: “Viewed as merely an elite shooter after his freshman season at Michigan, Stauskas proved his game has more dimensions as a sophomore. The 6-foot-6 guard replaced Trey Burke as Michigan’s primary playmaker this past season, routinely beating his defender off the dribble via high pick-and-rolls and either finishing himself or setting up a teammate for an open look. He averaged 17.5 points and 3.3 assists, all while maintaining the 44 percent 3-point shooting that he displayed the previous year. Stauskas isn’t a great defender or rebounder, but he’s skilled enough offensively to be more than a role player at the NBA level. Look for him to make an impact with his shooting right away off the catch and dribble while eventually expanding his all-around game the way he did in college. Grade: B

My take: It was a bit surprising that Stauskas was selected ahead of Vonleh, but Sacramento got the top shooter in the draft. Stauskas is a guy who made a huge leap from his freshman to sophomore season, which should be appealing to any NBA team. With his ability to shoot it from the outside, as well as to create his own shot off the dribble, Stauskas should be able to come in and make an impact right away. Grade: B+

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No. 9: Indiana PF Noah Vonleh (Charlotte)

Chad Ford, @chadfordinsider, ESPN: Vonleh slid because teams worried he wasn’t going to maximize his obvious physical talents. He can shoot, run the floor and play in the post, but questions about his motor and toughness and conditioning caused him to slide a bit. He’s a steal here, albeit a bit repetitive with Cody Zeller.” Grade: B+

My take: This was one of the top steals of the draft. Many mocks had Vonleh going No. 4 overall to the Orlando Magic, so for the Hornets to snag him all the way down at No. 9 is a huge victory for an up-and-coming organization. In Vonleh, the Hornets get a proven rebounder and a guy who is skilled on the offensive end with the ability to score down low or step out and hit a 15-foot jumper. He has ideal size for his position, at 6-9 and 240 pounds, and the athleticism and skill-set to become a top NBA power forward. Grade: A

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No. 15: Michigan State PF Adreian Payne (Atlanta)

Sean Deveney, @SeanDeveney, Sporting News: Adreian Payne is a senior, which, to some, means he should eat dinner at 4:30 and qualify for a discounted bus pass. We’re not buying it. Payne is a tough, hard-nosed big man who can shoot, and though the Hawks needed a small forward, those are easy to find.” Grade: B (Team Grade)

My take: Yes, Payne is 23 years old, but I still believe he was the Big Ten’s most NBA-ready player. He has great size (6-10, 240 pounds), he can play both inside and outside, and, most importantly, he is mentally tough having played four years under Tom Izzo. This is a guy who can be a mismatch for opposing teams, as he can back down smaller defenders in the post, or he can create his own shot against bigger defenders. This was a home-run pick for an Atlanta team that needed to make a splash to get them over the hump in the East. Grade: A

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No. 19: Michigan State SG Gary Harris (Denver, from Chicago)

Chris Mannix, @ChrisMannixSI, Sports Illustrated: “Harris is a quality pick. If Harris can stay healthy and rediscover the shooting stroke from his freshman year at Michigan State (his three-point accuracy declined to 35.2 percent as a sophomore from 41.1 percent), his two-way play will get him on the floor.” Grade: B+ (Team Grade)

My take: Outside of Brazilian Bruno Caboclo being selected No. 20 to Toronto, this was my biggest shock of the first round. Harris was projected to go somewhere in the 10-14 range, and he ended up falling all the way to No. 19 to the Chicago Bulls, before being traded to Denver. In Harris, the Nuggets are getting an elite-level athlete who can shoot, take it to the basket, and defend. Harris played for a loaded Michigan State team last season and led them in scoring as a sophomore, averaging 16.7 points per game. Yes, Harris is slightly undersized for an NBA 2 guard, but he is a high-charterer guy with a ton of talent who is ready to come off the bench and contribute right away. Grade: A-

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No. 21: Michigan PF Mitch McGary (Oklahoma City)

Reid Forgrave, @ReidForgrave, Fox Sports: “McGary is a bit of a gamble with that troublesome back, but if he’s healthy, this could be a huge pick that fills a need. He’s a big, high-energy guy who looks great alongside Serge Ibaka.” Grade: B

My take: This was a gamble pick, because outside of his outstanding performance in the Wolverines’ 2013 Final Four run, we really don’t know how McGary’s game will translate to the NBA level. What we do know is that this is a high-energy guy who is a strong rebounder and can run the floor very well for his position. I said all along that McGary will fit best on a roster that is already well-established, and that’s exactly how it turned out with him heading to Oklahoma City. He will get the chance to run pick-and-rolls with Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant. You can’t ask for more than that, right? Call it a risk, but I like this pick by the Thunder. Grade: B+

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No. 40: Michigan SF Glenn Robinson III (Minnesota)

Matt Moore, @MattMooreCBS, CBS Sports: Kind of a weird fit with Shabazz Muhammad on the team, but if his shot normalizes, this could be a steal.” Grade: B+

My take: This is a guy who I pegged as being a late first-rounder or early second-rounder, so to see him fall all the way down to No. 40 was a bit surprising. In Robinson, the Timberwolves get a guy with terrific athleticism and an NBA-ready skill set. The biggest knock on Robinson is that he disappears at times in games, but he isn’t going to be expected to go in and be an immediate starter from day one. The 6-6 former Michigan standout has the size and frame of a combo forward, but he played the 4 in John Beilein’s system. He will need to make the transition to small forward, or perhaps even shooting guard, at the NBA level. Overall, this was a solid value pick here in the middle of the second round. Grade: B

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No. 56: Iowa SG Roy Devyn Marble (Iowa)

Adi Joseph, @AdiJoseph, USA Today: “Marble is an unremarkable scorer with a basketball pedigree. But he has some upside to develop into a solid bench player because of his NBA body.” Grade: C+

My take: I was rooting for at least one more Big Ten player to be drafted after Robinson, at No. 40, and it turned out that guy was former Marble. Marble was one of the Big Ten’s top scorers this past season, and he can create his own shot. He will need to develop his strength and defensive skills if he is going to find a spot in Orlando’s rotation going forward. Overall, the Magic needed a spark on the offensive end, and they got a guy capable of giving them just that in Marble. Grade: B

Originally from Farmington Hills, MI, I have worked at the Big Ten Network since 2012 and took over my role as web editor and blogger in August, 2013. Follow me on twitter for constant Big Ten updates @srmerriman. Thanks and enjoy!!

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4 Comments

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maryam on 6/28/2014 @ 3:58pm EDT Said:

Let me make sure I got this right, Stauskas accomplished more in college than all the other Big 10 draftees, yet, the writer says he was shocked Stauskas was drafted before Vonleh.
Stauskas was the only player of the seven who was believed to have one particluar skill better than the others and that’s shooting the ball.
Staukas was the only player of the seven who got better from one year to the next while, going from a support role to a starring role.
Stauskas is the only one to help his team play for a natonal title, a Big 10 title and back to back Elite Eight appearances while playing on the youngest team both years.
Stauskas was the most accomplished player of the seven, winning MVP in a tournament, being conference POY, being the only All American and twice making a all regional team in the NCAA Tournament.
If you compare Stauskas to the the other six, he didn’t need four years of college like Payne or Marble to showcase his skills.
Harris, McGary and Robinson III all had more fanfare entering college than Stauskas and he easily had the better college career from a stats point-of-view and leadership standpoint.
Vonleh had a good freshman year on a bad team and we ony saw samples of what he can actually do and the Big 10 did not have great big men in 2014.
Of the seven players selected, Stauskas is the only one who can step into his teams lineup and play immediately because of his skills and will.
I said in 2013 that Stauskas had better NBA talent than Burke, Hardaway Jr., Robinson III or McGary simply because he was the best shooter, was very athletic, had good size and displayed the best confidence of that group.
Ironically, he was drafted the highest of that Michigan group, the highest this year and the third highest of conferene players the last two years.
Sacramento saw what I saw for 75 games and I knew he was a Top 10 pick with ease.

maryam on 6/28/2014 @ 4:25pm EDT Said:

I will say somethng that will make MSU fans mad but I have said it for years, NBA teams don’t have the greatest confidence in Tom Izzo’s four year players or how their talents grows and as a result, MSU players have fallen badly in NBA drafts or were not drafted at all.
(a) Mateen Cleaves played 4 years, never developed a jump shot and became a first round bust.
(b) Andre Hutson should have played in the NBA and he didn’t.
(c) Marcus Taylor left school early and never played in the NBA.
(d) Kalin Lucas was a conference POY, never developed point guard skills and has never played in the NBA.
(e) Raymar Morgan, Durrell Summers and Goren Suton, along with Lucas made back to back Final Fours and none made the NBA.
(f) Maurice Agar was a first round pick in 2006 and soon that season was demoted to the D-League and became a bust. He was MSU’s last first round pick until Payne this year.
(g) Shannon Brown was cut by 4 NBA teams until the Lakers picked him up in 2008.
(h) Draymond Green was a first team All American, the Big 10 POY as a senior, yet, he was only a second round pick in 2012.
(i) Derrick Nix was a former Mr. Michigan winner, played four years and was not drafted.
(j) Keith Appling, like Nix and a high school teammate, also a Mr. Michigan winner, also was not drafted.
(k) Alan Anderson played 4 years and bounced around the CBA for years until he caught on with teams a couple of seasons ago.
(l) Paul Davis was drafted and hardly played in the NBA.
(m) Kevin Torbert was the most hyped player Izzo ever recruited and his career at MSU was a major disappointment considering he was pegged a one and done player with Dujuan Wagner.
Now MSU fans will say I’m hating, will use injury excuses for Lucas and Appling,although many teams have drafted injured centers, forwards and guards and allowed them time to recover.
This is why Harris fell so far this year because of Izzo’s track record developing NBA talent and the facts speak for themselves.
I am surprised the BTN has never discussed this.
I will say look into everything I have said here and I spoke truthfully on each player.

Doug on 6/30/2014 @ 8:11pm EDT Said:

maram, MSU plays a team game, that’s why they win so many college games, they don’t rely on one player, just look at what Dantonio does with his 2 and 3 stars. I’m glad you are so obssessed with MSU though, who cares about the NBA anyways?

maryam on 6/30/2014 @ 10:05pm EDT Said:

@doug, I said MSU fans would take this the wrong way and make excuses and that’s exactly what you’re doing.
For you to use an excuse about MSU playing a team game and suggesting they are special because they don’t rely on one player and that other teams do is silly.
Then to bring MSU football into this is hilarious considering it took Dantonio 7 years to reach a BCS bowl game, 7 years to reach a Rose Bowl and with the school’s best record ever, the recent NFL Draft did not reflect how great the talent was or the coaching they got.
Look at all the Mr. Basketball winners from different states Izzo has had, all the high school All Americans and top star recruits, yet, the NBA Draft has not been kind to him.
By comparsion, Michigan’s last four Big 10 POY winners (two underclassmen) all have been NBA first round picks while Izzo’s last two Big 10 POY winners (both upperclassmen) were not drafted in the first round or were not drafted at all.
Michigan, Gary Grant (Sr., 1988), Glen Rice (Sr. 1989), Trey Burke (SO.,2013) and Nik Stauskas (SO., 2014) all were first round picks.
MSU had Kalin Lucas (Jr. 2010) and Draymond Green (SR., 2012) and Lucas went undrafted and Green, a first team All American, was a second round pick.
Now compare that to what Duke, North Carolina, Kansas, Kentucky, UCLA, Connecticut, Florida and other top programs and you will see NBA teams bypass MSU talent and that goes to the coaching staff.
Doug please don’t use the excuse that MSU does not get top talent because they do. The problem is they don’t develop the talent well. This is a reason why the cream of the crop talent tease Izzo and MSU and sign elsewhere.
Stating nothing but facts and nothing I said was false or incorrect.
Doug, you apparently care because you read the article and responded.