60 picks and multiple moves later the NBA Draft is in the books. Plenty of rumours and mock drafts were put to bed as the 2019 draft unfolded and prospects from around the world had their childhood dreams realized. Some teams improved the outlook for their future with another batch of youngsters, while others further infuriated fans with puzzling decisions. Here are seven winners and losers from an emotional, memorable draft night.
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I LOVE what the Atlanta Hawks are building right now. Travis Schlenk has already drafted key foundations like Trae Young, John Collins and Kevin Huerter and a pair of versatile wings now join the youthful core. They had to move up to snag DeAndre Hunter at four, but he and 10th overall pick Cam Reddish have been sitting high up on mock drafts for most of the season and should be integral parts of Atlanta’s team over the next decade. Homerun draft from Schlenk if you ask me.
IF you bet the over at bestsportsbooks.co on the number of trades that took place on Draft night, you probably left a winner. 19 deals were completed with some other blockbuster moves going down before the night itself. It made it hard to track who was drafted in the early 20’s with some teams blowing cash to try and land a late selection in the second round to nab their guy as well.
SIX Canadian born players were drafted on Thursday, setting the record for the most from any non-U.S. country in a single draft. R.J. Barrett looks set to steer the Knicks back to relevance and could be called upon in 2020 to help the Canadian national team do the same in Tokyo. With the Larry O’Brien trophy now residing north of the border as well, it’s been a helluva fortnight for Canadian basketball fans.
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HERE’S a complete list of what David Griffin has turned Anthony Davis into. Four potential future-firsts, a rim-running center who can develop into a great pairing with Zion, a versatile playmaking guard in Nickeil Alexander-Walker, a little-known Brazilian wing who could become a solid pro, oh, and Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart. These moves cost Griffin two second-rounders, but he also managed to shed Solomon Hill’s contract from their books in the process. Can you award GM of the year in June?
IF Atlanta is nailing their rebuild on the East coast, Memphis are making the similar, right moves in the opposite conference. Moving on from Mike Conley was inevitable and Grizzlies fans won’t be complaining that Ja Morant is his replacement. The self-labelled ‘Point God’ could be just that in the NBA, with their future boosted by also drafting Brandon Clarke with pick No. 21. Two young, exciting pieces to pair with Jaren Jackson Jr has Memphis’ stock on the rise.
I get all the risks associated with Bol Bol, especially around his health. However, his potential upside had me thinking at least someone, anyone would take a chance on him int he first round. That wasn’t the case though and as he continued to slide Tim Connelly seized a chance to draft him 44th overall. There are no guarantees it’ll work out, but it’s a great gamble for the Nuggets, who have a good track record with big men drafted in the 40’s.
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WE all knew the Suns were in the market for a point guard and there were a few prospects mocked to land at Phoenix. In the end, they aligned on taking Ty Jerome, a national champion combo guard, who is an unselfish passer that should succeed in the NBA. Jerome went 24th overall, with the Suns getting the pick in a deal with Boston that also saw them net a good back up center in Aron Baynes. Landing two good pieces for your rebuild at the small cost of a future Milwaukee first-rounder makes a lot of sense to me.
Also the Phoenix Suns
IT wasn’t all positive for Phoenix, with their other moves in the first round raising a lot of eyebrows. Originally the owners of pick six, the Suns opted not to take lightning guard Coby White and instead trade the pick with Minnesota and move back into the 11th slot. The problem wasn’t necessarily that trade, but the questionable decision to then use their lottery pick on Cam Johnson, who was slated to go in the late 20’s by most. He may be the best shooter in the class, but medical flags regarding his hips and the fact that he’s OLDER than Devin Booker left a lot of scratching our heads.
WHILE I still have faith that the Cavaliers can make this work, history suggests two ball-dominant guards find it hard to co-exist. Cleveland took Darius Garland with the 5th overall pick with the intention of playing him next to their budding young guard, drafted 12 months earlier in Collin Sexton. No offense to Sexton, who had a good rookie campaign amid a lot of post-LeBron crap, but Garland looks like he possesses more star power. That doesn’t bode great for Sexton’s future if he can’t make it worth with the Cavs’ new shiny toy.
ONE of the negatives on Draft night can be watching a young prospect slide down the board as the picks unfold. Nassir Little was one such guy who took a tumble after originally considered to be a fringe lottery selection. The North Carolina wing was highly recruited out of high school and there’s a real chance that Portland could have a steal on their hands after taking him 25th overall. He doesn’t exactly address a position of need, but if Portland proves to be the right fit, Little could develop into an impressive pro.
I’VE addressed Bol Bol’s slide from first-rounder to 44th overall and it was tough to watch him sitting out on the floor after everyone else around him had been drafted. It could put a chip on the shoulder of the young Oregan prospect, who was limited to nine games in his lone college season thanks to a foot injury. That setback was part of the reason he tumbled into the second-round with other reg flags questioning his work ethic and commitment. He’s in the record saying he wants to “prove everyone wrong”. Here’s hoping his body gives him a chance.
IT was an emotional night for some of the stars in this year’s draft class. Whether it was Zion overcome with emotion talking about the sacrifices his mum made, Ja Morant talking about the workouts he and his dad undertook or R.J. Barrett’s dad talking about the goals his son achieved, there was hardly a dry eye in the house. And that was only after three picks! Some of the stories told by the prospects who chased down their dreams of playing pro meant the tears only continued to flow.
THERE were plenty of directions Washington could have gone with a top-10 selection. Their future could be described as ‘uncertain’ and the Wiz didn’t really improve their outlook with Rui Hachimura. The Japanese born should provide some immediate impact at the power forward position, but it was interesting to learn that Rui didn’t have any contact with the franchise before he was drafted by ninth overall. It could work out for the Wizards, who need every contributor they can on cheap deals thanks to their future financial commitments. I still question if Hachimura was the right guy at this spot though, especially after there lackadaisical approach pre-draft. It will come as no surprise when I tell you the Washington Wizards haven’t signed a new GM yet….
EVEN on Draft night, there are other talking points in the league including the Rockets’ potentially messy divorce and the ongoing Canadian parade party. However, Marvin Bagley became a hot story after he declared himself ‘the best rapper in the league’ on First Take that morning. During his appearance, Bagley went on to declare himself better than noted lyricist Blazers guard Damian Lillard and that he’d rap battle him to settle it. Naturally, some 12 hours later in the middle of the first round, Lillard proceeded to drop a song with Bagley’s face as the album cover titled ‘MARVINNNNNN???’. This story may not be over, but Marvin Bagley’s rap career might be.
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