2019 NBA Draft Grades

Zion Williamson helped the New Orleans Pelicans secure a great NBA Draft Grade
GOOD MORNING AMERICA - Robin Roberts interviews basketball player Zion Williamson, who is projected to be the first overall pick in the 2019 NBA draft, on "Good Morning America," airing Wednesday, June 19, 2019 on the Walt Disney Television Network. (Photo by Lou Rocco/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images) ZION WILLIAMSON

The 2019 NBA Draft has come and gone, but the excitement rages on. The start of Free Agency is still on the horizon, providing a perfect window to reflect on what just went down in the NBA.

Though these young prospects have recently left institutions of higher education, it’s time to go back to school and issue grades for the 2019 NBA Draft.

Grades for the 2019 NBA Draft

Atlanta Hawks: A+

Picks:

Analysis:

The Atlanta Hawks added more great pieces to their young core of Trae Young and John Collins through several trades. They were able to work their way into the fourth pick to select De’Andre Hunter, and then added Cam Reddish and Bruno Fernando later on. In the end, last year’s trade that sent Luka Doncic to the Dallas Mavericks turned into Young and Reddish. At the time, many thought the Hawks lost the trade rather badly, but history might just be on their side. Atlanta is quickly establishing themselves as one of the best young teams in the NBA. Watch out.

Boston Celtics: B-

Picks:

Analysis:

The Boston Celtics had a rollercoaster draft night. They sent the 20th pick to the Philadelphia 76ers for two other picks, and then sent one of those (plus Aron Baynes) to the Phoenix Suns for a future pick from the Milwaukee Bucks. They cleared eight million dollars in cap space in the process, and still landed some solid picks. Romeo Langford is the newest in a long line of wings drafted in the Brad Stevens era, while Grant Williams will add some serious muscle alongside Robert Williams and Semi Ojeleye. Carsen Edwards may be the most fun player to watch in the Summer League and will add some much-needed depth at the point guard position.

The biggest knock on the Celtics is that they failed to snag a true big man after losing Baynes and potentially Al Horford once free agency starts.

Brooklyn Nets: D+

Picks:

  • Nicolas Claxton
  • Jaylen Hands

Analysis:

It’s hard to give a good grade to a team that didn’t get a pick in the first round. Nicolas Claxton was a good selection to start the second round, but neither he nor Jaylen Hands will put the Brooklyn Nets over the top. The less-than-average grade does not reflect the state of the team, as the Nets gear up for what they hope will be a great free agency period. It’s not all about draft night, after all.

Charlotte Hornets: C+

Picks:

Analysis:

The Charlotte Hornets got a much-needed upgrade at the power forward position with PJ Washington. Outside of that, they got decent picks that will help flesh out their roster moving forward. The real focus for the Hornets is retaining star point guard Kemba Walker. If they can do that, their draft picks will look a lot better.

Chicago Bulls: A-

Picks:

Analysis:

Much like the Atlanta Hawks, the Chicago Bulls are building a serious young team. They added a potential All-Star in Coby White alongside Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen, Wendell Carter Jr., and Kris Dunn. Then, they added a bouncy big man in Daniel Gafford who was projected as a lottery pick a season ago before returning to Arkansas for his sophomore season. The Bulls were already a team on the rise and could be a serious threat to the rest of the NBA very soon.

Cleveland Cavaliers: A

Picks:

Analysis:

The Cleveland Cavaliers got an absolute steal with the final pick of the first round in Kevin Porter Jr. They also added a top talent in Darius Garland, though there are already questions as to how he will fit alongside Collin Sexton. For a team that has been historically hit-or-miss in the draft, this year’s class seems like one of the safest and strongest since Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson joined the squad in 2011.

Denver Nuggets: B

Picks:

Analysis:

The Denver Nuggets may be one of the toughest teams to pin down in terms of a grade. They only made one selection and it came in the middle of the second round. However, that pick was originally projected as a lottery selection. Bol Bol shockingly fell from a potential Top-10 pick to the 44-spot amidst injury and weight concerns. If he pans out the way he was originally expected to, he will undoubtedly be the steal of the draft. If he doesn’t, he’s still worth the risk at 44th overall.

Detroit Pistons: C+

Picks:

Analysis:

The Detroit Pistons got a relative steal in Sekou Doumbouya when he fell out of the draft lottery, though it’s unknown how he will work alongside Blake Griffin. They then picked up some good talent in the second round with the remainder of their picks. Doumbouya is the youngest player in the draft with a ton of upside, while Deividas Sirvydis is one of the better shooters around. Isaiah Roby added even more depth to the forward position for the Pistons, who are building a decent young core behind Griffin and Andre Drummond.

Golden State Warriors: C-

Picks:

  • Jordan Poole
  • Alen Smailagic
  • Eric Paschall

Analysis:

A depleted Golden State Warriors team will need as much help as they can get next season. With Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson likely missing the majority (if not the entirety) of next season, they will be greatly missed, assuming both are still around after free agency. In response, the Warriors grabbed a sit-in for Thompson with Jordan Poole, an insurance policy for DeMarcus Cousins and Kevon Looney in Alen Smaliagic and a solid stretch-four prospect in Eric Paschall. Overall it was not a bad outing, but they failed to get any significant pieces to put them back on top of the NBA.

Indiana Pacers: C+

Picks:

Analysis:

It’s hard to give a proper grade to a playoff team with only one selection. The Indiana Pacers over-performed a season ago after a season-ending injury to star guard Victor Oladipo. Now, they’ve added another solid piece to a squad that finished toward the top of the Eastern Conference. The fit doesn’t quite make sense, as the Pacers have good depth when it comes to bigs, but they got the guy with perhaps the most talent at the 18-spot. Perhaps simplicity and stability will be beneficial for the Pacers.

Los Angeles Clippers: C

Picks:

Analysis:

The Los Angeles Clippers are another team that is more focused on free agency than they were the 2019 NBA Draft, but they still got a couple of solid pieces along the way. Mfiondu Kabengele was a great selection at 27th overall and his college teammate Terance Mann isn’t too shabby of a second rounder. The Clippers did the best they could with what they had as they shift focus to big-name free agents to add to their playoff roster.

Los Angeles Lakers: D+

Picks:

  • Talen Horton-Tucker

Analysis:

The Los Angeles Lakers started out with the fourth pick in the draft but eventually flipped the pick and several young players and assets for Anthony Davis. The front office demonstrated that the 2019 NBA Draft was not a real priority for the near future. The Lakers have to go to “win now” mode with LeBron James in the latter stages of his career. However, they did select a solid reserve small forward in Talen Horton-Tucker. He has a lot of upside if he can reach his potential. In terms of what the Lakers did with their draft picks, they get an easy A. However, that’s not how this grading system works, so they’ll have to settle for a lower grade.

Memphis Grizzlies: A

Picks:

Analysis:

The Memphis Grizzlies had a great draft night. They got the second-best prospect in the 2019 NBA Draft in Ja Morant and added a great piece in Brandon Clarke to play alongside him. A trade that sent Mike Conley to the Utah Jazz made the great draft night a reality, as it resulted in Clarke and a starting spot for Morant. The Grizzlies got younger and better, as the future is getting brighter in Memphis.

Miami Heat: B-

Picks:

Analysis:

The Miami Heat got a solid combo guard in Tyler Herro while KZ Okpala fell in their lap with the 32nd overall pick. Herro addresses shooting and spacing concerns for the Heat while also fitting in with the timeline for the younger players, while Okpala adds some much-needed defense at the wing position. Neither pick is earth-shattering, but both will help Miami in the long run. For a team that narrowly missed the playoffs a year ago, that’s a recipe for a good night.

Minnesota Timberwolves: B+

Picks:

Analysis:

The Minnesota Timberwolves traded up for Jarrett Culver. Culver was one of the top prospects in the 2019 NBA Draft, so that feat alone garners a solid grade for a team trying to establish itself in the Western Conference. Jaylen Nowell is a nice addition as well. While the future remains uncertain in Minnesota, adding young talent to a team just a year removed from the playoffs feels like a good sign. Depending on what the team does with Andrew Wiggins moving forward, the 2019 draft may be looked back on as the turning point that put the Timberwolves back on track.

New Orleans Pelicans: A+

Picks:

Analysis:

When you get the best prospect in the draft, it’s hard to call it anything but a win. Pair the best pick with a solid center in Jaxson Hayes and a great combo guard in Nickeil Alexander-Walker, and it’s obvious the New Orleans Pelicans absolutely killed it on draft night. And that’s not even taking into account all the assets they acquired via trades. The Anthony Davis era may be over, but the Zion Williamson era is already looking bright.

New York Knicks: A-

Picks:

Analysis:

Coming into the 2019 NCAA season, RJ Barrett was projected as the top NBA prospect. Though he was ultimately jumped by the likes of Williamson and Morant, he remains one of the best prospects in recent years and the New York Knicks got him with the third pick. All sights were set on Williamson before the Draft Lottery, but Barrett will fill in nicely as the next potential great Knick. Of course, the Knicks will now focus on free agency. Depending on who they can attract to New York, the Knicks could very well make a jump toward the top of the NBA sooner than later.

Oklahoma City Thunder: C-

Picks:

  • Darius Bazley

Analysis:

The lone draft pick for the Oklahoma City Thunder came late in the first round thanks to a trade with the Memphis Grizzlies. Taking Darius Bazely is a safe pick at 23rd overall, as he could provide some depth alongside the core duo of Russell Westbrook and Paul George. Overall, the Thunder traded down to get a good pick, while picking up future assets in the process. Bazley won’t put the Thunder into title contention, but he’s a good get at the spot.

Orlando Magic: C

Picks:

  • Chuma Okeke

Analysis:

Selecting Chuma Okeke at 16th overall came as a surprise to NBA fans. Okeke had a great NCAA Tournament before suffering a season-ending injury in the Elite Eight but was projected to go much later in the draft. He has a ton of upside but won’t provide any immediate impact due to the injury. If he develops into a great player, the pick will look like a steal, but if his progression is slowed or isn’t what the Orlando Magic expects, many will wonder why they didn’t take more of a sure-thing prospect.

Philadelphia 76ers: C+

Picks:

Analysis:

The Philadelphia 76ers traded up to snag Matisse Thybulle 20th overall. They sent the 24th and 33rd picks to the Boston Celtics in return. The Sixers got just what they wanted in Thybulle; an athletic, defensive-minded wing to put alongside Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. He could use a lot of work on the offensive end of the ball, but won’t have to shoulder the load in Philadelphia. The Sixers didn’t hit a home run, but they managed a solid ground-rule double in the draft.

Phoenix Suns: C-

Picks:

Analysis:

The Phoenix Suns traded down from the 6th pick for Dario Saric and Cameron Johnson. Selecting Johnson 11th overall came as a shock to most, as he was projected as a late first or early second round pick. They then traded with the Celtics to get Ty Jerome, filling a hole at the point guard position. Overall, Johnson and Jerome will likely be decent players, but for a team that has been at the very bottom of the league for so long, more of a splash would have been nice.

Portland Trail Blazers: B+

Picks:

Analysis:

The Portland Trail Blazers are fresh off a Western Conference Finals appearance and got the guy that wanted at a great price. There’s not much else that makes a great draft night. Nassir Little had perhaps the second-biggest fall in the draft, landing in Portland’s lap with the 25th pick. Little could see significant playing time as a rookie and fits nicely alongside Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. The Blazers have to be happy with their lone draft pick.

Sacramento Kings: D

Picks:

  • Justin James
  • Kyle Guy
  • Vanja Marinkovic

Analysis:

To keep with consistency, the lack of a first-round pick reflects rather negatively on a teams’ draft grade. The Sacramento Kings didn’t make a selection until 40th overall, and selected players who were relatively unknown on the national scene. The Kings have a great young core and will make a serious push for the playoffs next season, but it won’t be because they had a great draft night.

San Antonio Spurs: B-

Picks:

Analysis:

The San Antonio Spurs have a long history of making great draft selections, and 2019 is no exception. They added depth at a depleted forward position with Luka Samanic and then doubled-up at the position with Keldon Johnson toward the end of the first round. They added depth, shooting, and toughness to a roster filled with defensive tenacity. Adding these picks to a core of LaMarcus Aldridge, DeMar DeRozan, and Dejounte Murray could produce great success going forward.

Toronto Raptors: F

Picks:

  • Dewan Hernandez

Analysis:

The Toronto Raptors are the 2019 NBA Champions. When that’s the case, the rest doesn’t matter as much. The Raptors used their lone pick — 59th overall — to select a player most have never heard of. But that’s okay. The Raptors are one of the deepest teams in the NBA and their sole focus is on re-signing Kawhi Leonard. The draft was merely an afterthought.

Utah Jazz: D-

Picks:

  • Jarrell Brantley
  • Justin Wright-Foreman
  • Miye Oni

Analysis:

The only move the Utah Jazz made in terms of the draft happened before the first pick when they traded for Mike Conley. They didn’t make a selection in the 2019 NBA Draft until the 50th pick, which rarely results in a passing grade. The Jazz have a solid core and didn’t need to add much talent through the draft to be a fringe contender next season.

Washington Wizards: B

Picks:

Analysis:

The Washington Wizards had a solid draft night, snagging Rui Hachimura and Admiral Schofield. Their roster desperately needs depth and upgrades everywhere but the guard positions and they got just what they needed. Hachimura could see immediate playing time and could turn out to be one of the better talents in the draft. Schofield came cheap with the 42nd pick and will add depth and shooting to a team that needs both. Overall, the Wizards couldn’t have hoped for a much better night with the hand they were dealt.

Main Photo
Embed from Getty Images

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.