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NBA Draft 2019

The season is over. Let’s get to the business side of the league now and the coming free agency period. First, let’s get the small thing of the 2019 NBA draft out of the way J Here’s a list and some thoughts on the first picks in this year draft night:

  1. New Orleans Pelicans: Zion Williamson, Forward, Duke – No prizes for originality about the Number One pick this year. The place was always destined for Zion Williamson, even if we get way back in time, in his school years. Zion is maybe not so good a player right now, at least in comparison with Durant or Anthony Davis (when they were Number One picks). But he is definitely the most hyped young basketball player since The King himself, LeBron James. Young Zion just has to live up to all the hype and expectations around him, which is surprisingly hard stuff for some good players. The Pelicans had an easy and obvious choice here, and in the aftermath of the Anthony Davis deal have positioned themselves remarkably well long-term, maximizing their flexibility and giving themselves plenty of options even in their current roster. They even acquired two additional draft picks from Atlanta in the trade for the No. 4 selection.
  2. Memphis Grizzlies: Ja Morant, Guard, Murray State - Morant also emerged as the clear Number 2 prospect in the minds of most experts as the college season progressed. He is the pick that makes the most sense for Memphis here, giving them an immediate successor to the point guard position, after they traded the veteran to Utah Jazz. Morant looks a very suitable long-term partner for Jaren Jackson too, around whom Grizzlies will start their rebuilding process. The Grizzlies now have one of the league’s more promising young duos, and Morant’s extremely high ceiling only makes the future brighter for them. Memphis’ front-office should feel very good about the quality of their work, fully deserved.
  3. New York Knicks: R.J. Barrett, Guard, Duke - Barrett is generally considered to be the third-best prospect in the draft, albeit some voices have different opinions. Yet Barrett possess very good shooting even now and exactly his scoring ability makes a lot of sense for the Knicks, struggled mightily in offense last season. Of course they are also giving their full effort to recruit star free agents. Barrett will be a very useful rotation player beside a star player right now, and he’ll receive bulk minutes too, which will help his confidence grow fast. Well, in the bad-case scenario where Knicks don’t get an “A’’ star, it will be another long and terrible season for all Knicks fans, but Barrett fits in the team as a long-term prospect even then.
  4. Atlanta Hawks (via Pelicans): De'Andre Hunter, Forward, Virginia – This trade for Atlanta raised some eye-brows, but in the end they continued their last season strategy to trade assets in chasing exactly the player they want in the draft. They got Trae Young last year and now they successfully landed Hunter. Atlanta felt they had to get ahead of the Cavs at Number 5 to grab Hunter, as they evidently felt that he would fit nicely with the pieces in their roster. He’ll provide defensive cover immediately and should be a viable threat from beyond the 3-point line. The plan is Hunter to become a strong complementary piece for Trae Young, and it’s a good choice by Atlanta.
  5. Cleveland Cavaliers: Darius Garland, Guard, Vanderbilt – Well, Cavaliers got themselves in a tricky spot after Atlanta snatched Hunter out of their hands in the last minute. So they just chose the best player available, in Garland’s face.  The Cavs drafted Collin Sexton in last year’s lottery and the plan was to rebuild around him long-term. Now they would be pairing him with a more playmaking type of guard in Garland. Both players are undersized, but they can put big offensive pressure on defenses on and off the dribble. Of course, Cavs can always decide that both players will hardly co-exist together and trade Garland, we’ll see.
  6. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Suns): Jarrett Culver, Guard, Texas Tech – This is a good value pick for Minnesota at Number 6. Culver has made major progress in college, he plays hard on both ends of the floor and should be a positive contributor for the Wolves and a good complimentary piece for Anthony-Towns. Will he be able to co-exist in future with Andrew Wiggins though? It remains to be seen, probably after the next season.
  7. Chicago Bulls: Coby White, Guard, North Carolina - White is a very good fit for Chicago on paper. He should be able to address their long-term need at guard, as Bulls are moving away from Kris Dunn obviously. White has the size and his shooting is also good. Let’s see whether he will be able to develop good playmaking abilities.
  8. New Orleans Pelicans (via Hawks): Jaxson Hayes, Center, Texas - The Pelicans will probably keep this pick, hoping Hayes to become a long-term defensive cover for Zion Williamson. He’s one of the most athletic big men in the draft indeed, and New Orleans continued to follow their pre-scripted plan to rebuild after Anthony Davis’s era. Hayes makes a lot of sense here, looking at the pieces in the roster and with the center position being a clear area of need for the team. As already mentioned, Pelicans management deserve full credit for flipping Number 4 into extra stuff, and landing another player with real upside at this spot of the draft.

 

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