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2019 NBA Draft: Live Grades For Every Pick

1. New Orleans Pelicans: Zion Williamson, SF, Duke, Freshman

It’s official… Zion Williamson is a New Orleans Pelicans. Is there anything else to even say? We all know how ridiculous he is. Welcome back to the league David Griffin!

Grade: A+

2. Memphis Grizzlies: Ja Morant, PG, Murray State, Sophomore

Another pick that everyone knew was happening… Ja Morant. Morant is the best passer in the draft, and has off-the-charts athleticism that allows him to thrive when getting to the rim. I love the fit of Morant next to Jaren Jackson Jr. as well.

Grade: A

3. New York Knicks: R.J. Barrett, SG, Duke, Freshman

They say it’s a 3-person draft, and here was the third domino to fall. R.J. Barrett is a New York Knick. Barrett has that natural scoring ability that led him to averaging over 22 points per game in his freshman year at Duke. In addition his scoring ability, he’s a great passer and should see some time at the point guard position throughout his career because of that. Finally, the New York Knicks got it right.

Grade: A

4. Atlanta Hawks: De’Andre Hunter, SF, Virginia, Sophomore

Our first “yikes” of the night goes to the Atlanta Hawks. They gave up picks #8, #17, #35, and a future protected first in order to move up and take Hunter. I’m a big fan of Hunter, but he’s not a guy that you sacrifice your draft to move up for. I also think that Culver would have been the right pick rather than Hunter in this situation. That being said, Hunter is a great defensive talent and can shoot the three. If his offensive game develops further his ceiling is extremely high. At Hunter’s floor, he’ll be a good rotational 3&D prospect. He’s what I’d call a safe pick. However, since the Hawks sold the draft for him, the grade is significantly lower.

Grade: C-

5. Cleveland Cavaliers: Darius Garland, PG, Vanderbilt, Freshman

This is another pick that I don’t understand. The Cavaliers drafted Sexton last year, and still took Garland, another point guard. I again think the better pick would have been Jarrett Culver. However, Garland is a great shooter of the dribble and is extremely quick. This combination of strengths can cause him to turn into a productive scoring point guard in this league.

Grade: C+

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6. Minnesota Timberwolves: Jarrett Culver, SG, Texas Tech, Sophomore

The Timberwolves traded Dario Saric and the 11th pick in order to move up to the 6th pick and it 1000% paid off. Jarrett Culver is fourth on my NBA Draft Big Board, so this is phenomenal value here. Culver is a guy who can create for himself on offense, and is also a very good defender. He led college basketball in defensive win shares last season. It was just mentioned on the ESPN broadcast, but I also think Culver is a Jimmy Butler-type player. I did have Butler as his player comparison in my Jarrett Culver NBA Draft Profile that I wrote a couple of weeks ago. Great pick by Minnesota.

Grade: A

7. Chicago Bulls: Coby White, PG, North Carolina, Freshman

The Bulls were either going to get the best available wing or Coby White in this draft. Coby White ended up being the player to fall. White’s speed and scoring ability is what makes him a special player. He uses that speed to get to the rim and create scoring opportunities. He could use work as a distributor and shooter off the dribble, but he can catch and shoot at a high level. Overall though, this is a solid pick for the Bulls.

Grade: B+

8. New Orleans Pelicans: Jaxson Hayes, C, Texas, Freshman

New Orleans needed a center and they got their guy in Jaxson Hayes. Hayes is going to be the next solid center to come out of Texas joining Myles Turner, Jarrett Allen, and Mo Bamba. Hayes has grown 10 inches since his freshman year of high school and didn’t play minutes on his Varsity team until his senior year. He is indeed a “late-bloomer” to quote the broadcast. Hayes is a phenomenal defensive talent as he averaged over 2 blocks per game in just over 20 minutes played. He’s also extremely athletic and has a nice mid-range game. I eventually think Hayes will develop a three-point jump shot as well, which will make him even more of a threat. The Pelicans defense is going to be lockdown. That’s for sure. Love the pick for the Pelicans.

Grade: B+

9. Washington Wizards: Rui Hachimura, SF, Gonzaga, Junior

I’m shocked at this pick. Cam Reddish and Brandon Clarke were sitting on the board and Rui Hachimura wound up being the pick. I guess this was the team that promised Rui. Hachimura was outside the top-20 on my big board. He does have great size for his position and does have natural scoring ability as he nearly averaged 20 PPG for Gonzaga this season. However, his low basketball IQ and flaws defensively are big concerns of mine. If Hachimura fixes those flaws, he can be a nice NBA player, but he certainly has an uphill battle.

Grade: D+

10. Atlanta Hawks: Cam Reddish, SF, Duke, Freshman

Cam Reddish had a down year at Duke this past season and we know that. He shot terribly, but once those shots begin to fall, and I think they will, Reddish can be a starting-caliber wing in the league. He also has great size for his position at 6’8″ and is a solid defensive talent. I didn’t expect him to fall to the 10th pick, so I’d consider this a value pick for Atlanta as well. I also think Reddish will fit very nicely with the Hawks’ young core of Young, Huerter, and Hunter. Good pick for Atlanta.

Grade: B+

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11. Phoenix Suns: Cameron Johnson, SF, North Carolina, Redshirt Senior

I like Cam Johnson as a player, I just think he was picked around 7-10 picks too early. Johnson is a lights out three-point shooter as he shot over 45% from downtown last season. However, he is 23 years old and would have fit better on a contending team rather than the Suns. The Suns also traded down for this when they could have had a starting point guard at the 6th pick. Just not a great draft for them at all.

Grade: C

12. Charlotte Hornets: PJ Washington, PF, Kentucky, Sophomore

I wish I PJ Washington was drafted to a place where draft picks normally work out. That was my first reaction to this. The Hornets haven’t have a pick work out since Kemba Walker and it’s concerning (Miles Bridges still may work out, it’s way too early to tell). However, PJ is a solid pick for the Hornets. His basketball IQ is great, he can defend and play in the paint, and he can hit the three. I think PJ will be a solid NBA player. Good job by the Hornets.

Grade: B

13. Miami Heat: Tyler Herro, SG, Kentucky, Freshman

I would have liked the Heat to take a small forward or power forward in this situation, specifically Brandon Clarke. However, I’m a big fan of Tyler Herro’s game. I think he’s going to be one of the elite three-point shooters in the NBA. With the way the league is trending, those types of players continue to get more valuable. This is a good pick for the Heat.

Grade: B

14. Boston Celtics: Romeo Langford, SG, Indiana, Freshman

Romeo Langford was a highly-touted prospect coming out of high school, but had a bad shooting season at Indiana. Despite these struggles, Langford was still able to average over 16 PPG due to his ability to finish at the rim, which is elite. He has good size at the shooting guard position at 6’6,” and if his jump shot comes along, then he could be a good scorer in the league. However, I would have rather the Celtics address their front court, especially with Al Horford on the way out.

Grade: C+

15. Detroit Pistons: Sekou Doumbouya, SF/PF, France

I agree with the Pistons in terms of taking a big, but I’m not a fan of the player. Sekou Doumbouya is a project and is likely far from making a contribution in the league. He has great size and athleticism and can hit the three ball, so the potential is there. There are just several players on my board that would have taken over Doumbouya such as Goga Bitadze and Brandon Clarke.

Grade: D+

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16. Orlando Magic: Chuma Okeke, SF/PF, Auburn, Sophomore

The Magic have had a trend of selecting long, athletic players in the draft the past few years. They continued the trend with the selection of Chuma Okeke of Auburn. Okeke can defend multiple positions and shoot the three at a high percentage. However, due to a torn ACL, he will likely miss the majority, if not all, of next season. Despite the injury, I’m a fan of the pick from Orlando.

Grade: B

17. New Orleans Pelicans: Nickeil Alexander-Walker, SG, Virginia Tech, Sophomore

The one complaint of David Griffin’s roster so far is the lack of three-point shooting. Nickeil Alexander-Walker certainly provides that. The Virginia Tech guard’s shot is silky smooth, and he has the size to be a good 3&D player in the league. I’m also a fan of Alexander-Walker’s passing and court vision. Expect him to be a contributor for New Orleans off the bench for the next few years.

Grade: B

18. Indiana Pacers: Goga Bitadze, C, Republic of Georgia

Goga is my top-ranked international player on my board. He can shoot the three and defend at a high level. He averaged over 2 blocks per game in Europe this past season. The Pacers come away with a great value pick here in Bitadze, getting a modern day center who will complement Myles Turner nicely.

Grade: A-

19. San Antonio Spurs: Luka Samanic, PF, Croatia

The Spurs take a foreign player, like they do every single year. Samanic was a late-riser up boards in this draft, and was universally mocked to San Antonio in the first round. He’s another modern day big man who can stretch the floor with his shooting ability. Personally, I thought there were better players out there, but never doubt the Spurs drafting foreign prospects. It seems to work out most of the time.

Grade: C

20. Philadelphia 76ers: Matisse Thybulle, SG, Washington, Senior

Matisse Thybulle was clearly the 76ers guy, and they had to give up picks 24 and 33 in order to get there. Thybulle is the perfect fit for the Sixers, as he can defend at the highest level of any guard in the draft, and also shoot from distance. He was the only college player to average 3.5 SPG and 2.0 BPG since the 1992-93 season. This is a great pick for the Sixers, and I think he’ll have an immediate impact off the bench.

Grade: A-

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21. Memphis Grizzlies: Brandon Clarke, Gonzaga, Redshirt Junior

FINALLY! Brandon Clarke is finally off the board. Clarke’s athleticism is off-the-charts, and it’s absolutely ridiculous that he fell this far down in the draft. He’s the fifth-ranked player on my big board, and now he’ll join the young core of Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson in Memphis. What a pick.

Grade: A+

22. Boston Celtics: Grant Williams, PF, Tennessee, Junior

Grant Williams is another player who was ranked in the top-10 of my board. Williams’ high basketball IQ and ability to do anything from playing in the paint to taking a charge to hitting a three to making elite reads will make him a great fit in the Celtics front court, and eventually a solid NBA starter.

Grade: A

23. Oklahoma City Thunder: Darius Bazley, PF, USA

I think Bazley can be a good player in the league due to size, athleticism, and ability to finish at the rim, but the Thunder needed to address their shooting. Bazley can shoot, but not at the ability the Thunder need right away. Not a fan of this pick for OKC.

Grade: C

24. Phoenix Suns: Ty Jerome, PG, Virginia, Junior

Jerome was ranked in the top-20 of my board due to his passing ability, which may rank second in the draft behind Ja Morant. Phoenix needed a point guard, and even though they had to give up a future first to get Jerome, it’s going to be a late pick, so I’m okay with it. Love the pick for Phoenix.

Grade: A-

25. Portland Trail Blazers: Nassir Little, SF, North Carolina, Freshman

I’m on track saying that I think Nassir Little will be a bust, but at 25, this is nice value. Little was supposed to be picked in the lottery, but fell all the way down the board. As the #3 recruit in the country coming into college, Little still possesses that potential that people say before he played for North Carolina. He’s strong and uses his physicality to get to the rim. If Portland develops him properly, this could turn into a value pick.

Grade: B

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26. Cleveland Cavaliers: Dylan Windler, SG/SF, Belmont, Senior

Windler was a late-first/early-second round pick that I really liked coming into the draft. He possesses the size and shooting ability to be a solid NBA player.

Grade: B

27. Los Angeles Clippers: Mfiondu Kabengele, PF/C, Florida State, Sophomore

Kabengele is an energy guy, and a guy that will come off the bench, play defense, and grab offensive rebounds. He’s the perfect fit for the young, energetic Clippers core.

Grade: B

28. Golden State Warriors: Jordan Poole, SG, Michigan, Sophomore

The Warriors needed an athletic shooting guard, who can hit threes and fit into their system. Poole, while it may be early, does fit that mold.

Grade: C+

29. San Antonio Spurs: Keldon Johnson, SG, Kentucky, Freshman

I’m not excited by Keldon Johnson as a prospect. I don’t think he has a lot of upside and feel like he does many things good, but nothing great. If there’s one team that can pull it out of him though, it’s the Spurs. Value pick for Pop.

Grade: B

30. Cleveland Cavaliers: Kevin Porter Jr., SG, USC, Freshman

The Cavaliers traded four second round picks to move up to pick #30. It was certainly the right move as Kevin Porter Jr. was 11th on my big board. He’s gifted athletically, and has a great dribble pull-up. If he can take care of his off-the-court issues, Jon Beilein will turn him into a starting-caliber NBA player.

Grade: A

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