2019 NBA Draft Grades

Atlanta Hawks: A-

Players: De’Andre Hunter (4), Cam Reddish (10), Bruno Fernando (34)

The Hawks traded the #8 and #17 picks to move up to #4 and grab De’Andre Hunter, who fits perfectly with Trae Young. They were able to hang on to the #10 pick (Hawks GM Travis Schlenk deserves some real credit for that), which they used on Cam Reddish, who also should fit will with Young and Hunter and has All-NBA potential. Bruno Fernando, a projected first round in early mock drafts, was another good grab at #34. Great draft from the Hawks and the only thing keeping them back from an A rating is that they had to take on Solomon Hill’s terrible contract as well as give up a Cleveland first round pick next season. 

Brooklyn Nets: B

Players: Nic Claxton (31), Jaylen Hands (56)

The Nets didn’t make a lot of noise Thursday night, but they accomplished what they needed to do. I liked that they traded the #27 pick for what ended up as Jaylen Hands and Philly’s first rounder next year. Claxton at #31 was a nice pick, as he has first round upside. Perhaps most importantly, Brooklyn was able to not use cap and keep its option open for free agency this summer. 

Boston Celtics: B+ 

Players: Romeo Langford (14), Grant Williams (22), Carsen Edwards (33), Tremont Waters (51)

This draft was a difficult draft for Celtics fans to follow. Coming in, there was speculation that Boston would package a couple of its picks and move into the top ten, but that never happened. Instead, Boston stayed put and drafted nice upside with Langford and a solid small ball four in Williams. They were able to take advantage of Philly by drafting Matisse Thybulle a few spots before Philly’s pick, forcing Philly to give up an additional asset for Thybulle. They were also able to clear some cap space by trading Aaron Baynes and Ty Jerome to Phoenix in return for a first rounder next year. While Boston seems to be resetting after the likely departures of Horford and Irving, there needs to come a point where Boston doesn’t just acquire assets. There was hope that could be in this draft, but alas, it was not. 

Charlotte Hornets: B-

Players: PJ Washington (12), Cody Martin (36), Jalen McDaniels (52)

Charlotte had a decent draft, but seemed like they could’ve done more. Washington was a good pick at #12 and figures to be a starter within a year or two. However, Martin at #36 seems a bit early for him and I’m personally not a huge fan of McDaniels at #52. What’s particularly disappointing to me is that the Hornets didn’t take a chance on Bol Bol at #36. Charlotte is kind of caught in limbo stage because they are on the fringe of the playoffs but don’t really have a clear core going forward. They have a lot of money tied up in aging players and Kemba Walker’s future in Charlotte isn’t clear. The possibility to get a top five talent at #36 should’ve been something the Hornets jumped on, even with Bol’s motor and injury concerns. 

Chicago Bulls: A

Players: Coby White (7), Daniel Gafford (38)

The Bulls quietly had a great draft night. Despite all the movement going on in the top ten, Chicago held onto its #7 pick and grabbed a very good, high upside guard in White. He should pair well with Wendell Carter and Lauri Markkanen and gives the Bulls a solid young core to build around. Gafford at #38 was a fantastic pick, as he was projected to go late in the first round in many drafts. He’ll be a great backup center for the Bulls and should be able to contribute a few minutes a game right away. 

Cleveland Cavaliers: A

Players: Darius Garland (5), Dylan Windler (26), Kevin Porter Jr. (30)

The Cavaliers had a fantastic draft as they were able to snag three really quality players. While there are some questions about Garland’s fit with Sexton, the Cavs are in a position where they simply need talent and Garland was easily the most talented player at #5. Windler is a fantastic shooter and an amazing cutter and should fit perfectly into Beilein’s offense. While they gave up a haul to get him (four second rounders), I really like the move to get Kevin Porter Jr. at #30. He is one of the best isolation players in the draft and has lottery talent, but was wildly inconsistent in college. But as mentioned, the Cavs simply need talent and Porter Jr. is certainly very talented. 

Dallas Mavericks: B

Players: Isaiah Roby (45)

The Mavs entered the draft with the #37 pick and after trading down to #45, drafted Nebraska product Isaiah Roby. Roby has good potential and if he reaches that potential, should fit in well with the Doncic-Porzingis core down the line. Not a lot of action from the Mavs, but still a good draft nonetheless.

Denver Nuggets: A

Players: Bol Bol (44)

In ten years, the Nuggets will either have made one of the best draft moves in team history, or another forgettable trade for a player in the second round. A year ago, Bol Bol was projected to be a top five pick. Due to questions about his injury and his motor, Bol fell all the way to #44, where he was snagged by the Heat. Denver quickly swooped in, offering a future second rounder and cash to take a chance on Bol. This is basically a no risk, high reward move for the Nuggets and despite not having a pick coming into the draft, they’ve given themselves a chance to be one of the clear winners of it when we look back in twenty years. Bol was apparently in the Nuggets top ten and anytime you can get a player in your top ten at #44, you do it. 

Detroit Pistons: B+

Players: Sekou Doumbouya (15), Devidas Sirvydis (37), Jordan Bone (57)

The Pistons snagged three players in this year’s draft, highlighted by Sekou Doumbouya. I like Doumbouya’s potential and think he’s a good fit with the Pistons long term. I thought their second round picks were solid and particularly liked the trade for Jordan Bone at #57. Unfortunately, as the East becomes more competitive, I see the Pistons missing the playoffs this year with no clear foundation to build off of. Doumbouya will hopefully be the start of that foundation and I like the chances that at least one of their two second rounders becomes a solid role player. 

Golden State Warriors: C-

Players: Jordan Poole (28), Alen Smailagic (39), Eric Paschall (41)

I’m not quite sure what the Warriors were doing in this draft to be honest. If the Warriors believe they can make the playoffs this season (something that really is in doubt with how tough the West is), they need players who could contribute this season. Instead, they went to opposite direction with picks like Poole and Smailagic. While both players have solid long term potential, neither one figures to be a factor this season. To make matters worse, the Warriors originally traded up to the #41 to get Smailagic but got played when New Orleans grabbed him to force the Warriors to give up additional assets (David Griffin was an absolute master this draft). However, this inadvertently probably helped the Warriors, as they really can use a player like Paschall this season.

Houston Rockets: C

Players: None

The Rockets came into the draft with zero picks and left with zero picks. On to free agency!

Indiana Pacers: B

Players: Goga Bitadze (18) and TJ Warren (through trade)

Despite having Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner both on the roster, the Pacers went out and drafted center Goga Bitadze at #18. This actually is a pretty solid pick as there are some concerns about Sabonis and Turner being able to play together long term. Bitadze has shown steady improvement since committing full time to basketball and has good long-term potential. The Pacers also grabbed TJ Warren from the Suns in a trade for cash and a second rounder, which they flipped to the Heat. This looks to be a pretty good trade for Indiana but does restrict them in free agency. Right now, the Pacers remind me of what the Jazz were a couple of weeks ago. A consistent playoff team, but one that lacks true championship potential. Is Indiana prepared to make a move to get them a player who might give them that potential?

Los Angeles Clippers: B+

Players: Mfiondu Kabengele (27), Terance Mann (48)

The Clippers grabbed two Florida State products and didn’t give up too much (the 2020 Philly pick will likely be in the mid-late 20’s). I had Kabengele going in the early 20’s so the fact that the Clippers were able to draft him at #27 is a win. He brings real starting center potential and has a good enough shot to fit into the league as a stretch five. I also liked the Terrance Mann pick at #48. Mann is a great energy player who has good athleticism and if he continues to develop his skills, can probably fit into the Clippers rotation in a year or two. 

Los Angeles Lakers: C-

Players: Talen Horton-Tucker (46)

The Lakers had a very disappointing draft. While they were able to use the #4 pick as part of the deal for Anthony Davis, they weren’t able to do much else. Horton-Tucker is a good long term prospect, but the Lakers aren’t really thinking long term right now. With their finances handicapped by the large contracts of James and Davis, the Lakers really needed to use this draft to acquire some cheap talent in the second round. Instead they acquired only one second rounder and used it on a player who doesn’t figure to have much of an impact this season. The Lakers better have something up their sleeve for free agency. 

Memphis Grizzlies: A

Players: Ja Morant (2), Brandon Clarke (21)

The Grizzlies officially kicked off their full scale rebuild by trading Mike Conley, the last remnant of their Grit n Grind playoff days. With the #2 pick, Memphis got a good one in Ja Morant who projects to be a Russell Westbrook type player. Morant has elite speed and athleticism and if he can develop his shot a little bit more, he could see his name on numerous All-NBA teams down the line. After receiving the #23 pick from the Jazz as part of the Conley trade, the Grizzlies moved up two spots and took Brandon Clarke after a trade with the Thunder. Clarke has a lot of room to develop offensively, but has shown a strong work ethic and is already an elite defender. A Jaren Jackson-Brandon Clarke duo has the potential to terrorize the league defensively for years. Great start to the rebuild by the Grizzlies. 

Miami Heat: B+

Players: Tyler Herro (13), KZ Okpala (32)

The Heat had a good night on Thursday and ended up with two players who they can build around. It was going to be Herro or Langford at #13 and while I thought they would go with Langford because of his ceiling, I like the Herro pick here. He can really fill it up when he gets hot and also has strong enough ball handling skills to play some point guard. The trade for Okpala was a great one as he was projected to go in the early 20’s in most mock drafts. He’s a fantastic athlete who has a pretty good ceiling and should fit in perfectly with Bam Adebayo. The only thing I didn’t like about Miami’s draft was that after drafting Bol Bol at #44, they promptly traded him to Denver. Considering his talent, I’m not quite sure why the Heat didn’t hang on to Bol here, even with his injury and motor concerns. I don’t see a lot of downside in keeping him and I don’t think the future Denver second rounder will likely amount to anything. Perhaps the Heat will prove me wrong though. 

Milwaukee Bucks: B

Players: None

The Bucks elected to trade their only pick as a means of dumping valuable salary in Tony Snell. This will allow Milwaukee to move into free agency with a little more cap space in hopes of resigning Lopez, Middleton, and Brogdon. 

Minnesota Timberwolves: B+

Players: Jarrett Culver (6), Jaylen Nowell (43)

The T-Wolves rolled the dice and sent Dario Saric and the #11 pick to the Suns for #6, which they used on Jarrett Culver. While I think Culver will eventually end up as more of a second option instead of the primary option, I really like this trade for the T-Wolves. There wasn’t a lot left at #11 and by trading up to #6, Minnesota was able to get a really good wing to start their mini rebuild. Losing Saric wasn’t ideal, but in the grand scheme of things, it was probably worth it to get Culver. The Jaylen Nowell pick at #43 was interesting to me, but I like that the T-Wolves decided to take a chance on the UCLA product. 

New Orleans Pelicans: A+

Players: Zion Williamson (1), Jaxson Hayes (8), Nickeil Alexander-Walker (17), Marcos Louzada Silva (35)

All of New Orleans is currently bowing down to David Griffin right now. Not only was Griffin able to turn the Anthony Davis debacle into something positive, he then was able to flip part of that return (the #4 pick) in a fantastic trade to Atlanta. For the #4 and #57 picks, the Pelicans ended up with three first rounders, the #35 pick, and were able to offload Solomon Hill’s terrible contract. Talk about a return! Obviously, Zion will be the pick that everyone is talking about, but credit Griffin and the rest of the Pelicans front office for an overall great draft. Hayes is a fantastic defender with a lot of offensive upside and should fit in perfectly alongside Williamson in the front court. Alexander-Walker has gone largely under the radar, but I think that pick will end up being huge for the Pelicans. He should be able to jump right in as the backup combo guard for the Pelicans and when Holiday starts to fade in a couple years, Alexander-Walker should be ready for the starting role. Marco Louzada Silva was another strong pick by the Pelicans at #35 and has a lot of potential. Throw in the extra assets that New Orleans acquired from Golden State in the Alen Smailagic trade, and the night couldn’t have gone much better for New Orleans. 

New York Knicks: A-

Players: RJ Barrett (3), Ignas Brazdeikis (47)

The Knicks kicked off this offseason with two very good picks on Thursday night. They selected what they hope to be their future franchise cornerstone in RJ Barrett at #3 and also made a very strong selection in Ignas Brazdeikis at #47 (does Brazdeikis remind anyone else of Manu Ginobli at all?). After missing out on Zion and Anthony Davis, this draft was very important for the Knicks and they managed it great. Now all of New York holds its breath to see if the Knicks can land a star in free agency. 

Oklahoma City Thunder: C+

Players: Darius Bazley (23)

For a draft that was full of movement and controversy, the Thunder had a rather uneventful draft. While they did trade their #21 pick to the Grizzlies for #23, they spent that pick on forward Darius Bazley. While they needed a player who could contribute right away, the Thunder chose Bazley, who was picked more for his long term potential. Oklahoma City is in an interesting position where it feels like it has the players to compete for a championship, but the results speak differently. Despite high expectations and having two of the top fifteen players in the NBA, the Thunder failed to make it out of the first round last year. By picking Bazley here, it implies that the Thunder might be looking down the road and are not going all in this season. 

Orlando Magic: B-

Players: Chuma Okeke (16)

The Magic had one of the more shocking picks of the night, taking Auburn product Chuma Okeke at #16. While Okeke has lottery level talent, his draft stock was projected to fall dramatically after he tore his ACL in the NCAA Tournament. While I’m not surprised that the Magic rolled the dice on him, I was a little bit surprised that they didn’t trade back and draft him later. There was still a lot of talent in demand available at #16 and I don’t think it would’ve been difficult to find a team in the 20’s who wanted to move up. Even if it was just for an additional second rounder, Orlando could have almost certainly snagged Okeke somewhere in the 20’s and also grabbed another asset from a team. While a single second rounder might seem small, it’s these types of trades that separate the great front offices from the average ones. Not trading back was certainly a missed opportunity for the Magic. 

Philadelphia 76ers: B-

Players: Matisse Thybulle (20), Marial Shayok (54)

The 76ers got their guy on Thursday night, but had to give up a little more than they would have liked. Philly was heavily connected to Matisse Thybulle and with Boston holding the #20 pick, three slots ahead of Philly’s #23 pick, the Celtics were able to extract an additional second rounder from the 76ers for Philly to receive Thybulle. Despite Philly having to give up an extra asset, I like the Thybulle pick for them. As a team flush with offense, Philly really needed a defensive stopper and they got the best one in the draft in Thybulle. He shouldn’t be asked to do too much on offense and as long as he can hit the occasional open shot like he was able to at Washington, he should fit in well in Philly’s rotation. I also liked the Marial Shayok pick at #54 where they landed a long, athletic wing, perfect for the modern NBA. While Shayok likely won’t contribute to an NBA team this year or potentially next, his potential after a couple years in the G League warrants this pick by Philly. 

Phoenix Suns: D+

Players: Cameron Johnson (11), Ty Jerome (24), Dario Saric (via trade)

The Suns had by far the most puzzling draft of the night. Their primary need was to draft a starting PG and they had every opportunity to get a great one with White at #6. Instead, they traded the #6 pick to Minnesota for the #11 pick and Dario Saric, which normally wouldn’t be the worst trade, except that there seemed to be a significant drop off in talent after the first ten picks. To make matters worse, the Suns drafted Cameron Johnson at #11, who, while I’m actually very high on, wasn’t projected to go till at least the early 20’s. Many mock drafts had Johnson falling all the way to the second round so while he might be the best shooter in the draft, the Suns drastically overreached with this pick. I really liked the Ty Jerome pick at #24 and think he has a good chance to be a Landry Shamet type player for the Suns. Phoenix’s placement in the West is a little confusing as they have the talent to make a significant leap like the Kings did this past season, but many analysts don’t see that leap coming from them. Perhaps the Suns hit homeruns with Johnson and Jerome and will surprise us all. 

Portland Trailblazers: A

Players: Nassir Little (25)

The Trailblazers had a great draft as they snagged projected lottery pick Nassir Little after he fell all the way to #25. While it seemed like the obvious move, credit must go to the Blazers for taking Little because multiple other teams before them took players they were more comfortable with despite Little’s upside. In all of their mock drafts, the Blazers probably never imagined that they would land Little, who fell largely due to his inconsistency and limited minutes at UNC. With elite athleticism, Little should be able to bring a lot of energy off the bench right away. I also think Little’s game is better suited for the NBA, where the game isn’t quite as structured as it is in college and there is more room to operate. He will have to become a better decision maker, but nonetheless, great pick and draft by the Blazers. 

San Antonio Spurs: B+

Players: Luka Samanic (19), Keldon Johnson (29), Quinndary Weatherspoon (49)

The Spurs had another one of their classic drafts. International player, strong wing with high potential, and underrated second round lottery ticket. While I think San Antonio probably could have traded down a few slots and still landed Samanic, I understand why they didn’t want to take the risk, especially after Goga Bitadze was taken the pick before theirs. I really like the Johnson pick at #29 and think he fits perfectly into San Antonio’s system. He’s a solid all-around player with the athleticism and skills to potentially make a couple All-Star teams. I also liked the Weatherspoon gamble at #49 as he’s a smart guard who should also fit well into San Antonio’s system. Weatherspoon projects as a solid 3 and D guy, something any NBA team always needs. 

Sacramento Kings: B

Players: Justin James (40), Kyle Guy (55), Vanja Marinkovic (60)

With no first round picks and three second rounders, the Kings decided against trying to trade up into the first round and instead took three strong shooters in the second round. While I wouldn’t have minded if the Kings had traded up, I don’t mind their strategy here. If even one of these guys develops into a solid rotational player, then they can call this draft a win. By taking three lottery ticks, the Kings essentially triple their chances of that happening. 

Toronto Raptors: C+

Players: Dewan Hernandez (59)

After a wild championship run, the Raptors had a very uneventful draft, where the used their only pick on Miami center Dewan Hernandez. There wasn’t much for the Raptors to do in this draft as their entire franchise strategy rests on the free agency decision of Kawhi Leonard this summer. Whether or not Kawhi returns, the Raptors won a championship, which is all that anyone in Toronto will really remember from June 2019. 

Utah Jazz: B+

Players: Jarrell Brantley (50), Justin Wright-Foreman (53), Miye Oni (58), Mike Conley (via trade)

The Jazz had a great draft, or at least a great draft process, as they were able to land Mike Conley from the Grizzlies. The Conley trade, which many think put the Jazz in championship contention, cost Utah its #23 pick, but they ended the night with three second rounders, all from mid-major schools. Similar to the Kings’ strategy, I like Utah’s thought process as they essentially got three lottery tickets. The Conley trade already made this draft successful, but if one of their three second rounders develops into a rotation player, Utah could remember this draft as one of its best in recent years.

Washington Wizards: C-

Players: Rui Hachimura (9), Admiral Schofield (42)

While they claim that they got their guy, there are a lot of question marks surrounding the Wizards’ draft. For one, Rui Hachimura apparently never worked out or talked with anybody from the Wizards and was genuinely surprised to hear his name called at #9. To complicate things even more, Washington’s front office was adamant that while they wanted to trade back, they heard that if they did, Rui would be taken. The actual pick of Hachimura is slightly confusing too. While he was a fantastic college player and projects to be a solid NBA player, few think that he has true star potential and there are a lot of questions about what his offensive outlook might look like in the NBA. While I personally think those questions are overblown, I would’ve expected a team like Washington to draft a player with a higher upside. Despite the confusion at #9, I do like the Wizards pick of Schofield at #42. He’s a skilled wing player who will probably end up in the back end of their rotation. 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

Create your website at WordPress.com
Get started
%d bloggers like this: