Pelicans, Hawks Have Big Nights as Bol Bol Drops in Draft
That’s a wrap on the 2019 NBA Draft.
An exciting night for the NBA, Thursday night saw a brand new class of young and talented stars entire the league. From Duke sensations Zion Williamson, RJ Barrett, and Cam Reddish to international upstarts Goga Bitadze and Luka Samanic.
As every Draft, there are always winners and losers, and this year things are no different as we take a look and who left the Draft feeling excited for what is to come and who exited Barkley’s with their head held down.
Winner: Atlanta Hawks
The Atlanta Hawks have become the sexiest team in the NBA.
They’re young, they’re hungry, they have high impact players, they have shooters, and they have athleticism.
With a core of John Collins, Trae Young, and Kevin Huerter already in place, the Hawks continued to build through the draft, trading up to select Virginia forward DeAndre Hunter with the number four pick and later on stealing Cameron Reddish with the tenth pick of the Draft.
Two players with NBA ready bodies, Hunter has one of the highest floors in the entire draft. One of the better three-point shooters in the entire draft, Hunter is also a unique two-way player with some Kawhi Leonard-like tendencies on the defensive end. Meanwhile, Reddish has superstar written all over him at 6’8” with a 7’1” wingspan with pure shooting mechanics, incredible athleticism, and the length and instincts to impact the game on both ends of the floor.
With Young showing shades of a younger Stephen Curry, the Hawks have accumulated one of the more dynamic young cores in the entire NBA.
Losers: Los Angeles Lakers
Even in the same week where they acquire a superstar of the caliber of an Anthony Davis, the Los Angeles Lakers front office finds a way to mess things up.
Hours before the draft, Ramona Shelburne of ESPN reported that the Lakers failed to realize an accounting error that has subsequently left them without an additional max slot following the Davis blockbuster.
Now, with very little cap space at their disposal, the Lakers will have to fill out a competitive roster around a LeBron James, who will be entering his 17th NBA campaign and an Anthony Davis who has time and time again failed to show that he could remain healthy for the entirety of an NBA season.
On Thursday night, the Lakers had but one pick in the middle of the second round, which they acquired from the Orlando Magic.
Good luck, Lake Show.
Winner: Cameron Johnson
Projected to go in the 20’s, Cameron Johnson shocked the entire world, including former UNC teammate and fellow lottery pick Coby White when he was swiped with the 11th overall pick by the Phoenix Suns.
Best backstage moment of the NBA Draft: Coby White (Picked 7th) is talking when his UNC teammate Cam Johnson gets picked 11th. pic.twitter.com/OAbMl7BbFB
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) June 21, 2019
By no means a household name, Johnson made the biggest jump on Thursday night as the Suns grabbed the best shooter in the entire Draft. The Suns would later trade for the draft rights of Ty Jerome, a capable play-maker who can also shoot from the perimeter. Pairing Johnson and Jerome around the current young Suns core, which includes Devin Booker and DeAndre Ayton, makes The Desert a little bit more interesting!
Loser: Bol Bol
One by one, players were leaving the green room while skilled big man Bol Bol sat quietly waiting for his name to be called.
A 7-footer who can handle the basketball and shoot effortlessly from the perimeter has the talent and potential of a top-five pick, yet his medical history and concerning lack of muscle and weight forced him to slide lower than anyone could have predicted. Projected to at least fall to the latter half of the first round, Bol was forced to wait until the middle of the second round when the Miami Heat selected him with their number 44th pick. He was then immediately traded to the Denver Nuggets for nothing more than a future second round pick and cash considerations.
“I just want to prove everyone wrong, and just come out and be the best player I can be,” Bol said to ESPN.
Winner: New Orleans Pelicans
David Griffin is the early pick for executive of the year.
First, he flipped the final year of Anthony Davis’ contract into a number of first round picks, cap relief, and three high-upside young players in Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, and Josh Hart. He then completed a nice little trade with the Hawks on Draft day, moving down in the draft, receiving two first round picks as well as shedding Solomon Hill’s salary.
Along with Zion Williamson, the Pelicans would go onto draft Jaxson Hayes and Canadian Nickeil Alexander-Walker in the first round, after which they would take a projectable defensive-minded forward in Marcos Louzada Silva out of Brazil.
While many in Canada understand the talent that is Alexander-Walker, with Hayes and Williamson, the Pelicans now own a young front court that resembles the DeAndre Jordan-Blake Griffin pairing from the Los Angeles Clippers Lob City era. Williamson has the chance to become a transcendent star in this league, while Hayes has shown to be the ideal defensive-minded center in today’s NBA.
Losers: Washington Wizards
The Wizards were really pushing for New Orleans’ number four pick with rumours of Bradley Beal being available in trade talk. Salary wise, the Wiz are in a very tough position, but it seems as though the focus right now in Washington is to find an accelerated path to a rebuild.
The Wizards failed to acquire the pick that the Pelicans instead dealt to the Hawks. Instead, the Wizards grabbed Japanese-born forward Rui Hachimura out of Gonzaga. While a phenomenal collegiate player with an NBA-ready body and an interesting set of offensive tools, the selection seems to be a bit of a stretch for the Wizards. With plenty more talent remaining on the board, Hachimura entered the night as a fringe lottery pick, but rose all the way up to nine.
With Cameron Reddish still in the green rooming, the Wizards had an opportunity of rolling the dice on superstar potential and opted to turn to an undersized power forward with a nice, but not flashy or high upside skillset.
Already living on a high of the Toronto Raptors conquering the NBA world en route to the franchise’s first ever championship, Thursday night saw the highest number of Canadian get selected in a single Draft.
— NBA Canada (@NBACanada) June 21, 2019
Headlined by RJ Barrett, six Canadians were selected, while Montreal-native Luguentz Dort out of Arizona State signed with the Oklahoma Thunder as an undrafted free agents shortly after the conclusion of the Draft.
Brandon Clarke, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Mfiondu Kabengele, Ignas Brazdeikis, and Marial Shayok all followed Barrett as Canadian selections in the 2019 NBA Draft.
Who says Canada isn’t a basketball country?
Loser: Boston Celtics
With news that the Boston Celtics are set to lose both Al Horford and Kyrie Irving in free agency, the Celtics failed to make any sort of splash on Thursday night despite making a bunch of small and non-consequential trades.
When all the smoke settled, the Celtics grabbed Romeo Langford at no. 14 who was projected to fall out of the lottery after a disappointing and injury-riddled freshman season in Indiana. The Celtics then grabbed Grant Williams later in the first round. A Tennessee standout, Williams failed to show out in the Combine and many believed his inconsistent public and private workouts would push him out of the first round completely.
In the second round, the Celtics received some value picks in scoring-sensation Carsen Edwards out of Purdue and steady point guard Tremont Waters out of LSU.
Overall, it was a nice draft for the Celtics, but when considering what they are slated to lose in a couple of weeks, it was expected that Boston would be a bit more aggressive with their abundance of draft picks.