By Hocine Loukkaf on 6/25/2019

As the 4-10 range was as expected made of a group of solid floor/limited upside picks, the rest of the first round was abit chaotic, which made a lot of high upside picks slip from the late first to the mid second round (Bol Bol). While taking into account team needs, their picks and also who was still available, let’s rank by grade this interesting 2019 NBA draft.

Teams and picks :

-New Orleans : #1 Zion Williamson, #8 Jaxson Hayes, #17 Nickeil Alexander-Walker, #35 Marcos Louzada-Silva
In one draft and thanks to some smart moves, the Pelicans succeeded in filling their roster with safe and high upside pieces at different positions. Zion was the uncontested projected number one pick. He’ll play big minutes right away and bring excitement to the city and spotlight on New Orleans’ basketball team. He’s not as versatile and is not the defender Anthony Davis is but if he only focuses on being the best player possible, he could end up a multiple time all star and maybe make numerous all NBA teams. Trading the 4th pick for 8 and 17 allowed the Pels to add two high respected prospects. At 8, Hayes bring some much needed rim protection and a center the team has lacked for several years playing Davis or Randle more recently at that position. He still is very raw but at least will not be asked to score in bunches. NAW could be a steal at 17. The versatile guard can shoot and pass with the best of them and is a nice defender like his cousin Shai. He could form a deadly trio with Lonzo and Jrue. Only thing we could argue is the fact that some interesting forwards were available at 17 (Little for example)  in case Ingram could not come back healthy and at a position New Orleans has been weak for several years. Louzada-Silva is a bit of a reach at 35 despite his combination of athleticism and shooting.

-Atlanta : #4 DeAndre Hunter, #10 Cam Reddish, #34 Bruno Fernando
In a team full of poor defenders, Hunter brings that all around swiss knife who could help the team right away on this side of the corut. He’s also a team first payer who doesn’t need the ball much and can shoot it from outside or finish in the paint with his nice athletic abilities and length. He may not be the player with the highest upside but fits perfectly the Hawks’ roster and need of great defenders. At 10, Reddish was too appealing not to be drafted. He could come from the bench at both SG and SF spots and maybe end up the starting forward. He could also allow Atlanta to create a package to improve a position if both Hunter and Reddish become good players at the same spot. Fernando was projected from 15 to 35. He needs to display more consistency but is a great value pick at 34.

-Denver : #44 Bol Bol
If Bols stays healthy, he’s a steal. Many experts destroyed his demeanor or his lack of bulk but how many 19yo 7-2 player averaged 20pts 10rbds 3bl on 50+% from three with three attempts per game in their freshman year. Hopefully, this bad night will give Bol motivation to work hard this summeras he could form a deadly inside duo with another steal, Nikola Jokic.

-New York : #3 RJ Barrett, #47 Ignas Brazdeikis
The Knicks had no choice but to draft Barrett. The son of former pro Rowan and the godson of NBA legend Steve Nash, Barrett is not afraid to be under pressure and has always embraced his star status. Of course, he still has to improve as he’s been polarizing due to his inconsistency from outside and sometimes tunnel vision. He’s not the most agile athlete but has alpha dog mentality and a solid skillset to push Knox at the PF spot and take the SF starting spot from day one. Brazdeikis is an hard nosed player who can shoot and plays with his heart. He’s limited in term of length and athleticism but could bring solid contribution from the bench.

-Portland : #25 Nassir Little
The Blazers need a solid and athletic SF. They get a steal with the former top 5 high school prospect. Little had an hard time getting minutes with UNC but it’s hard not to like his impressive athleticism and 7-1 wingspan. He was pretty impressive shooting the ball during workouts and will have the best teachers with Dame and McCollum to become a solid 3 and D in the NBA znd maybe more.

-Brooklyn : #31 Nicolas Claxton
The Nets basically turned a late first pick for a future first round and a lottery talent. Despite Georgia’s awful season, there are plenty of reasons to like Claxton’s potential. He’s a solid rebounder and shot blocker who can display the ability to handle the ball. His shooting is pretty inconsistent now but at least he can knock some and with hard work on his skills and body, could form a great frontcourt with Jarrett Allen.

-LA Clippers : Mfiondu Kabengele
The Clippers have built one of the less egoistic yet talented group of players with Sweet Lou, Shai or Montrezl. The latest will have good company to patrol the paint with FSU bruiser Mfiondu Kabengele. An old but late blooming sophomore, Dikembe’s nephew scored some of the best numbers at the combine at 6-10 with a 7-3 wingspan and a super low 5% fat despite his 253 pounds. He also is a smart kid who has been voted in the ACC All-Academic team. One more argument to convince Kawhi to come back to LA.

Teams and picks :

-Memphis : #2 Ja Morant, #21 Brandon Clarke
Morant was the uncontested riser this year and he deserved it. At 6-3, he is the best passer in college basketball and an entertaining dunker and ball handler. He has also improved his outside shooting, albeit he still has room to develop, and has been from the beginning Memphis’ pick. He will form a great one-two punch with JJJ and could also send alley oops to the other pick. At 21, Clarke is a valuable pick. He’s one of the best defender in the NCAA and has scored efficiently during the whole season. Yet, that pick could have been used to land a SF, a pretty weak position for the Grizzlies, with Little or Windler still available.

-Indiana : #18 Goga Bitadze
The center from Georgia has long been overlooked before apapearing on the more for two/three months now. He’s a very active big who averaged lmost 3bl per game in Euroleague and is working on extending his range. Had such a prospect gone to college, he would have destroyed competition so he’s a very good value pick at 18. Is he what the Pacers need the most with Oladipo set to come back after several months of competition and Tyreke Evans suspended? Several guards or swingmen like KPJ, Keldon Johnson or Windler were still there. At least, they may have chosen the best player at this stage and could find a way to trade him or maybe Turner down the road if he’s as good as expected.

Teams and picks :

-Chicago : #7 Coby White, #38 Daniel Gafford
The Bulls went for the best fit with White. White may not have the upside of Morant but had an impressive season as a freshman with UNC. Gafford was projected for a long time as a first rounder. He has slipped to 38 and will bring length and athleticism to young and talented team.

Teams and picks :

-Minnesota : #6 Jarrett Culver, #43 Jaylen Nowell
The Wolves traded up to get their target, all around SG Jarrett Culver. The Red Raider is an high character guy who played for the best defensive team in college. Was this pick valuable enough to send Saric and the #11 pick, time will tell. At 43, Nowell is a pretty good pick too as the sophomore from Washington is a well rounded guard who can do a bit of everything. Yet, with Okogie already drafted last year and Culver picked at 6, was it useful to select Nowell while Bol Bol was still available. The Wolves may regret this second round selection for a long time.

Teams and picks :

-Cleveland : #5 Darius Garland, #26 Dylan Windler, #30 Kevin Porter Jr.
Despite playing only five games, Garland has been projected in the top six for some weeks. Yet, Cleveland was not seen as a landing spot for the Commodore as they had already drafted a scoring PG with Sexton last year. It’s difficult to imagine both of them playing in the same backcourt a la Lillard/McCollum as they’re really smaller than the Blazers. Culver would have been a much complementary pick to pair in the backcourt with Sexton and become his right-hand man. Windler is a solid wing who can shoot with the best of them and rebound. He will have to work on being an efficient defender but has the IQ to make up for his lack of athleticism. Porter Jr was projected in the top ten early in the season before he face some off court issues who may have disturbed his play. The Cavaliers picked solid players and prospects, but could have used at least one pick to draft an inside player like Fernando or Kabengele as they lack rim protection.

-Detroit : #15 Sekou Doumbouya, #37 Deividas Sirvydis, #57 Jordan Bone
Doumbouya was projected from 7 to 15. At 15, the Pistons get a player with high upside but still raw, who was a bit inconsistent on offense and could being much rebounding and defense considering his size and athleticism. We’ll see if he can reach his potential in Michigan. Doumbouya could have formed a solid outside duo with Kevin Porter Jr, that the Pistons picked with the 30th choice before sending him to Cleveland. They also traded up for Sirvydis. The Lithuanian projects as a pure shooter but is even rawer than Doumbouya as he lacks the strength to be as efficient a defender as the Frenchman. Moreover, at 37, there were still many interesting prospects like Schofield, Nowell and of course Bol Bol. Bone could find a way to enter the roster as he has solid size and athleticism at the PG position.

-Philadelphia : #20 Matisse Thybulle, #54 Marial Shayok
Thybulle is a beast in defense who can switch positions and potentially help every player on the court. Was it right to pick him as a potential lockdown defender or should the Sixers have traded down for better rounded or offense player like Johnson, Windler or KPJ? Shayok may never put a foot on the court as an old draftee despite his efficiency from outside.

-LA Lakers : #46 Talen Horton-Tucker
Some experts may regret that the Lakers didn’t go with an NBA-ready player. Yet, getting Horton-Tucker at 46, a player who was relatively efficient and has plenty of room to improve skill-wise but also physically, could be seen as a steal pretty soon. At 6-4 235 with a 7-1 wingspan, the Cyclone is a physical specimen who could become a future starter and will learn from Lebron and the other vets.

-Utah : #50 Jarrell Brantley, #53 Justin Wright-Foreman #58 Miye Oni
The Jazz used their first round pick to trade for Conley, a very solid move. With three late second round picks, they went with three players with different skillsets. Brantley may be the most limited player of the trio with limited size and athleticism at the four spot. Wright-Foreman could have an energizer role from the bench. He was one of the best scorers in college basketball and can play both backccourt spots. Oni is a very good defender who can shoot from outside, a nice pick at 58.

Teams and picks :

-San Antonio : #19 Luka Samanic, #29 Keldon Johnson, #49 Quinndary Weatherspoon
With their 19th pick, the Spurs went once again international with Samanic. As skilled as he may be, Samanic had an hard time adjusting to the senior level and could be a liability on defense at the PF spot a la Dragan Bender. Maybe there could have been better choices at the PF spot like Kabengele or Claxton. Fortunately, they got a steal at 29 with Keldon Johnson. The swingman from Kentucky had an inconsistent season but has what it takes to be a nice shooter at both SG and SF spots. At 29, he was a no brainer for the Spurs who have bad shooters like Murray and DeRozan playing big minutes.

-Boston : #14 Romeo Langford, #22 Grant Williams, #33 Carsen Edwards, #51 Tremont Waters
Langford had some impressive games but his lack of consistency from three made him slip compared to the fac he was expected to be a top ten pick at the beginning of the year. The Hoosier is a solid al around guard with alpha dog mentality who could turn into a starter, maybe a star, in the years to come. There is a lot to like about Grant Williams, a team first player who can pass and shoot. Yet, his lack of length and athleticism makes him a bit o a reach at 22. Edwards is your typical microwave from the bench while Waters is another solid PG who was solid at LSU. With Horford almost already gone, the Celtics could have used their early second round pick to draft an high upside prospect like Bol or Fernando inside.

Teams and picks :

-Phoenix : #11 Cam Johnson, #24 Ty Jerome, Dario Saric
Trading the #6 pick for #11 and Dario Saric wasn’t particularly a bad move as the Croatian is a solid glue guy who will fill a need at PF. Yet, Johnson at #11 seems a big reach. As good a shooter as he is, Johnson is an old prospect with injury concerns and limited athleticism at a spot where Mikal Bridges was drafted last year. At 24, Jerome is an interesting player, but how will he handle the athleticism of the league. Coby White looked like the safest choice to handle the PG duty and at 24, plenty of high upside PF like Kabengele, Claxton or even Bol were available. The Suns got away from this draft with three players with the same profile as solid floor/limited upside guys.

-Miami : #14 Tyler Herro, #32 KZ Okpala
Herro has benefited from the Kentucky hype. He had a good season but has also displayed limited length and athleticism. His 35% from three are decent but his shooting may be overvalued. At 14, Miami could have gone different ways with NAW, a better shooter and defender who could en up playing PG like his cousin Shai, or Doumbouya as a stretch four with high upside. Okpala was projected as a mid/late first rounder the whole year so getting him at 32 is a good deal. He may be a bit stiff but has length and shooting to be a successful wing in the NBA.

-Orlando Magic : #16 Chuma Okeke
There is a lot to like about Okeke lihe is defensive versatility and his outside shooting. Yet, after a nice tournament, he torn his ACL potentiallly losing some of his athleticism. Moreover, with already two combo forwards with Gordon and Isaac, I wonder what the Magic had in mind drafting at 16 someeone ranked in the 20-35 range before his injury. Maybe an an all around guard like NAW? still available could have helped Fournier at the two with the possibility of playing the PG like his cousin Shai.

Teams and picks

-Charlotte : #12 PJ Washington, #36 Cody martin #52 Jalen McDaniels
The Hornets really need to change their scouting staff. Once again, they went with a big college player but with limited upside and a reach at this point. Washington has improved for his sophomore year as a shooter. Yet, he was expected to be picked in the 20-30 range. Moreover, there were plenty of interesting centers, Charlotte’s main weakness, like Bitadze who would have been a much better choice. At 36, Martin will bring versatility but he’s an nconsistent shooter who will turn 24 in September. Bol was still available and could have bring skills na dpotential rim protection inside for the Hornets. Projected by some draftniks in the late first, McDaniels is your perfect tweener, not strong enough to play inside and not skilled enough to play the three. He will have to figure out how he could become an efficient player in this league.

As Jerami Grant has developed into a solid outside shooter, the Thunder still lacks that efficient SG to play alongside Westbrook and PG. OKC picked a combo forward with upside but who needs to improve everything from his strength to his shooting despite the fact that Windler, Johnson or KPJ were available.

-Golden State : #28 Jordan Poole, #39 Alen Smailagic, #41 Eric Paschall
The Warriors may have see something we havent’t. Playing 32min per game, Poole averaged 12.7pts on a nice 37% from three while averaging only 2.1as and 1st. If he he doesn’t become a lights out shooter, he will not bring much else to the table. Smailagic was a nice pick as the Warriors would have felt screwed if the player they developed with their affiliated team would have been picked by another team (Smailagic). Paschall is another good PF who may have a long career in the league as a rugged defender who can shoot from outside. Yet, Bol was still available and they missed out twice the opportunity to draft a big who averaged 50% from three with three attempts per game, a non-selection they may regret very soon.

-Dallas : #45 Isaiah Roby
Nice value at 45 with a versatile defender who will bring toughness at both forward positions. Had they kept their original 37th pick, Paschall, Gafford or Bol were still there.

-Toronto : #59 Dewan Hernandez
A mobile big, Hernandez performed well at the G League elite cap despite his suspension this year. Naz Reid could have filled this spot as younger prospect with much more upside

-Sacramento : #40 Justin James, #55 Kyle Guy, #60 Vanja Marinkovic
James was not expected to be drafted and even less at this point. He’s an athletic swingman who scored much but with poor percentages and a lot of tunrovers. There were many other possibilities at 40. Guy lacks the size to be antything else but serviceable in stretches. Marinkovic is a decent shooter but with limited athleticism to perform in the league.

Houston and Milwaukee didn’t have any pick.