The 2019 NBA Draft has come and gone, and the league has 60 new players.
As expected, Duke star Zion Williamson went first overall to the New Orleans Pelicans. The Memphis Grizzlies then took Murray State guard Ja Morant second overall, before the New York Knicks rounded out the top-three with the selection of Duke's RJ Barrett.
Then it all went off the rails.
The draft featured a grand total of 17 trades -- five more than last year -- so it was easy to get lost in all of the player movement. With that in mind, here are the three biggest winners and losers from the 2019 NBA Draft:
Getting Williamson was a foregone conclusion for weeks, but it's what the Pelicans did outside of the first overall selection that makes them the draft's biggest winner. It's not very often you can trade away a generational talent and become a better overall team in the process, but new general manager David Griffin might have accomplished that. After some wheeling and dealing, the Pelicans were able to turn Anthony Davis into one heck of a haul:
Anthony Davis has turned into:
- Lonzo Ball
- Brandon Ingram
- Josh Hart
- No. 8 pick in 19
- No. 17 pick in 19
- No. 35 pick in 19
- L.A.' 21 pick if top 8
- L.A.' 22 pick if not
- L.A. swap in 23
- L.A.' 1st in either 24 or 25
And got rid of Solomon Hill's contract.— Andrew Lopez (@_Andrew_Lopez) June 20, 2019
They used the Nos. 8 and 17 picks on Jaxson Hayes and Nickeil Alexander-Walker, respectively, and added Brazilian guard Marcos Lousada Silva with the No. 35 pick in the second round. That's four talented prospects added to an already-young core, and in getting rid of Solomon Hill's contract, they gave themselves considerable cap flexibility moving forward.
Perhaps it's no surprise that the teams with the first two picks in the draft are the two biggest winners. In getting Morant, the Grizzlies found their point guard of the future after trading Mike Conley Jr. to the Utah Jazz this past week. Morant's athleticism jumps off the tape, but his passing ability is nearly as impressive. Then, Memphis traded up with the Thunder to grab Gonzaga forward Brandon Clarke with the No. 21 overall pick. Clarke was a critical member of Gonzaga's run to the Elite Eight this past year, and already has an NBA body. In joining Jaren Jackson Jr. -- Memphis' 2018 first-round pick -- Morant and Clarke give the Grizzlies an exciting young core that should expedite their rebuild.
Much like the Pelicans and Grizzlies, the Hawks have done a tremendous job utilizing the draft to turn their franchise around. After adding the likes of Trae Young, Kevin Huerter and John Collins over the last two years, Atlanta continued its talent overhaul with the selections of De'Andre Hunter and Cam Reddish with the Nos. 4 and 10 overall picks, respectively, Thursday night. Hunter is an ideal fit for the modern NBA, particularly due to his ability to play both forward spots and defend four positions. Reddish, meanwhile, was expected to go in the top-five not too long ago, and can shoot it as well as any prospect in the draft. The Hawks have been dwelling in the basement for the last couple seasons, but they'll be soaring before long.
What the heck is going on in Phoenix? More of the same, it appears. Before the draft even started, the Suns traded away scoring guard T.J. Warren and the No. 32 overall pick to the Pacers in an attempt to clear salary cap space. They then traded the No. 6 overall pick to the Timberwolves -- which Minnesota used to select Jarrett Culver -- in exchange for forward Dario Saric and the No. 11 overall pick. Then, with the No. 11 pick, they made quite possibly the most surprising pick of the entire draft, selecting North Carolina's Cameron Johnson, who many expected to fall out of the first round entirely. And then, they traded their 2020 first-round pick (via Milwaukee) to the Celtics for the 2019 No. 24 overall pick and Aron Baynes, whose salary erases a significant portion of the cap space they created through the Warren trade. Phoenix did use the No. 24 pick on Virginia's Ty Jerome to finally land the point guard they've been so desperately searching for, but in general, the Suns didn't give much reason to believe they're in for a big turnaround next season.
With so much of their current roster potentially in flux, it was imperative that the Warriors found multiple players in the draft that could contribute immediately. While the future isn't pre-written, it doesn't appear they did. Earlier in the day, the Warriors acquired the No. 41 overall pick from the Hawks for a 2023 second-round pick and cash considerations, giving them three selections altogether.
With their first-round pick (No. 28 overall) Golden State selected Michigan guard Jordan Poole, who turned 20 years old the day prior. A gifted shooter with an above-average handle is a nice get that late in the first round, but Poole might need more seasoning, and the Dubs' backcourt is currently lacking in able bodies. Then, the Warriors traded up to the No. 39 overall pick to select center Alen Smailagic, who won't turn 19 until August. Smailagic played for the Santa Cruz Warriors last season, so Golden State is familiar with him and clearly wanted to keep him in its developmental system. But, more so than Poole, Smailagic is still very raw, and highly unlikely to be able to contribute at the NBA level next season, and the Dubs may have to wait even longer than that. While Villanova forward Eric Paschall (No. 41 overall pick) does fit in with Golden State's current contending window, their other selections didn't make much sense in that respect.
It seems as if every year, one of the prospects invited to sit in the green room at the draft doesn't get their name called until long after expected, and as if that isn't punishment enough, they have to sit there for hours with a camera positioned on their obviously disappointed face. That was Oregon's Bol Bol this year, and it was hard to see coming. Although the 7-foot-2 phenom missed a large portion of his only college season with a broken foot, his skill level is off the charts for someone of that size, so naturally he was expected to be drafted much earlier than No. 44 overall. After being passed up by every team in the league, Bol was traded from Miami to Denver, where the Nuggets just went through a 'redshirt' season with 2018 first-round pick Michael Porter Jr. It surely wasn't the draft night Bol was expecting or hoping for, but in the long run, it might turn out to be a blessing in disguise.