The 2019 NBA draft is finally over. After months of mock drafts, podcasts, and articles breaking down prospects and team-needs, we now know where 60 new players will be heading for the 2019-2020 season. Zion Williamson was the ultimate prize as he is taking his talents to a young and talented New Orleans Pelicans team, post-Anthony Davis.
The Top Undrafted Free Agents
This draft was incredibly deep, as there are true NBA players who were picked in the second round. Marial Shayok is an example of a guy who shoots at a high level and can contribute immediately to a Philadelphia 76ers team in desperate need of floor spacing. There were also a number of good players who went undrafted and could crack an NBA roster next season. Who knows, one could be the next Robert Covington or Fred VanVleet.
Luguentz Dort is an absolute steal for the Oklahoma City Thunder who signed the 6’5” combo guard from Arizona State to a two-way contract shortly after the draft ended. Prior to the draft, there was talk that Dort could possibly go in the first round. The Montreal native, who won the PAC-12 Player of the Year, is a capable passer and an outstanding on-ball defender. Dort is 225 pounds with a nearly 6’9” wingspan who is built like a linebacker. He is arguably the most athletic guard in this draft class and a blur in transition. Dort is a one-man wrecking ball capable of getting to the rim at will.
There are some question marks about his shot-making ability because of his inconsistent shooting form. However, he has greatly improved his shot over the last few years despite only shooting 30 percent from three last season. He was respectable off of the catch and looked more comfortable as a shooting guard where he could use his speed and size to attack the rim. This will more than likely be his role in the NBA, comparable to Marcus Smart. He does not have the defensive instincts of Smart but can definitely be a superior offensive player. If Andre Roberson struggles to stay healthy then Dort could immediately be thrust into the Oklahoma City lineup.
The most in-demand skill in the modern NBA is shooting. This is a skill that Fletcher Magee can bring to an NBA roster immediately. In Magee’s four years at Wofford, he made more three-pointers than anyone else in NCAA history. Last year, Magee shot 41 percent on his three-point attempts on a remarkable 10 attempts per game. He has one of the fastest releases you will see at any level of basketball. Similar to J.J. Redick, Magee has the incredible ability to come off a screen at full speed and stop on a dime, rise up, and contort his body mid-air to line up to towards the basket. He is capable, with one or two escape dribbles, to find space for his shot.
The two major hurdles for Magee are his passing abilities and how his game will translate defensively. He had to work so hard to get open at Wofford that he would sometimes take plays off defensively. This is something that he cannot afford to do in the NBA as he will get burned and be unplayable as he cannot compensate with elite athleticism. The NBA will also not want him to be a black-hole, shooting whenever he gets a chance. Bigs are going to hedge hard whenever he comes around a screen and he will have to show the maturity to make the simple pass. Magee will be playing summer league with the Milwaukee Bucks.
Zylan Cheatham inked a two-way deal with the New Orleans Pelicans shortly after the draft ended. One of the more intriguing prospects in this draft, Cheatham began getting NBA chatter during workouts as he wowed teams with his pogo-stick jumping ability. A teammate of Luguentz Dort at Arizona State, Cheatham is a 23-year-old 6’9” power forward who truly has Andrew Wiggins-like jumping ability. He was named to the PAC-12 All-Defensive team and his switchability on defense is tantalizing. He has the length and strength to guard bigs despite his thin frame and elite quickness to stay on faster guards.
Cheatham is a late bloomer, a guy who is continuously developing his offensive game. He is a capable finisher but can often struggle to finish through contact. Excellent at attacking closeouts and taking slower bigs off the dribble. In the NBA he will have to improve his outside shot if he wants to keep NBA defenses honest. The biggest hurdle for Cheatham is his carelessness on both ends of the floor. He often makes head-scratching turnovers and can be prone to fouling unnecessarily. A year or two in the G-League getting used to NBA physicality and speed and he could develop into a lesser Jerami Grant.
Naz Reid going undrafted is a sign of how NBA front offices want to construct their rosters in 2019. A 6’10”, big from LSU, Reid would surely have been a top ten pick 10 or 15 years ago. Excellent footwork, a strong post game, great touch in the pick and roll and the ability to hit the occasional jumper, Reid is very gifted offensively. Reid has good rebounding instincts, especially on the offensive glass where he would dominate at times. Reid is most adept at scoring on the move, diving to the rim and able to finish with a variety of flip shots, strong finishes, and solid footwork.
The Minnesota Timberwolves were clearly impressed with his potential as they signed Reid to a two-way contract the night of the draft. However, there are some major question marks about the young big man. He very rarely creates for others and is prone to turning the ball over or taking wild shots near the rim. He also only managed three bench-press reps at the combine. Some will point to Kevin Durant as this not being a big factor. But Reid is a guy who relies on his size to get to power to the rim and is not a ground-breaking offensive player like Durant was. Reid is also prone to taking the occasional defensive possession off. He will have to improve his strength and conditioning if he wants to stick in the NBA.
Simisola Shittu is a player who suffered from unfortunate circumstances. A 6’10” big from Canada, Shittu tore his ACL his senior year of high school. He also played on one of the worst teams in the power five conferences, Vanderbilt. After the Darius Garland injury, the team lacked direction and a capable ball-handler, failing to win a single SEC game. Shittu runs the floor at an elite level, even capable of being the ball-handler after securing a rebound. Incredibly strong, Shittu creates space very well when attacking the hoop and is already an elite rebounder. Shittu would make the occasional pass that caught the eye. Either in the fast-break, from the post, or rolling to the rim, he can make skip passes with either hand. He should become a terrific role man as his instincts improve both as a passer and as a finisher.
The only major knock on his game other than being on a bad team was the fact that he is incapable of shooting. He only shot 55 percent from the free-throw line last season and has very little arc on his shot. He seems to try and guide the ball, often releasing it in front of his face. His mechanics are not broken like a Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, and there is some hope that he can become somewhat reliable. Shittu also does not have a lot of wiggle or touch to his game. He relies too much on his quickness and power when going to the hoop. Shittu has agreed to play for the Memphis Grizzlies Summer League and it will be shocking if he does not make an NBA roster at some point.
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