2019 NBA Draft: Live Grades for Every Pick
The 2019 NBA draft is in the books.
Zion Williamson is in New Orleans. Ja Morant is bound for Beale Street. RJ Barrett is ready to take the stage in New York City.
And soon, a flurry of trade activity will take over the Association's official transaction log.
It was a busy night for nearly the entire basketball world, and probably a fortune-changing one for a select few teams. But when history suggests more guesses were probably wrong than right, it's never too early to start analyzing the results.
That's what we're here to do with a pick-by-pick evaluation of all 60 selections.
No. 1: Zion Williamson to New Orleans Pelicans
After dealing away their former franchise face over the weekend, the New Orleans Pelicans found their next one.
The buzz following Zion Williamson to the Big Easy might be the biggest we've seen for an NBA freshman since LeBron James. Williamson is already on a one-name basis within the basketball world, where his unique dimensions (6'7", 285 lbs) and aerial assaults have the 18-year-old essentially regarded as royalty.
For as many viral wildfires as he has sparked, he might somehow still be more substance than sizzle. His nightly mixtapes were only a fraction of his on-court contributions to the Blue Devils. By year's end, he'd compiled an absurd 40.8 player efficiency rating, the highest college hoops have seen in at least a decade.
He'll bring a couple of question marks to the Crescent City—all prospects have them—with the most uncertainty tied to his shooting. His form isn't broken, but it could be tightened. His percentages from the perimeter (33.8) and the stripe (64.0) both suggest it could be a minute before this qualifies as anything resembling a strength. He could also stand to accelerate his decision-making.
While the new-look Pelicans will likely suffer for spacing—Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram both arrive with sub-33.0 career three-point percentages—their athleticism and energy should be elite. Tack on a perpetually green light from head coach Alvin Gentry, and Williamson could be the perfect prospect to lead them into the post-Anthony Davis era.
No. 2: Ja Morant to Memphis Grizzlies
With enough time to quadruple-guess these decisions, the biggest mistakes on draft night can be tied to overthinking. The Memphis Grizzlies deserve some credit for not falling into that trap.
With Mike Conley on the way out, the Grizz needed a new floor general to guide them into the future. Morant emerged as an obvious option early in the pre-draft process, but Memphis seemed less certain as the draft drew near.
Nevertheless, he’s officially en route to the Volunteer State, and it’s tough not to love to the fit. The post-Grit-'n'-Grind Grizzlies need an identity, and Morant is a tone-setter. His relentless approach, explosive athleticism and elite court vision make him seem like the Association’s sequel to Russell Westbrook, although Morant isn’t quite the blur a young Brodie was.
Some might say Morant has a little too much Westbrook in him since neither are the most efficient outside shooters and each can struggle with turnovers. But Morant hasn’t turned 20 yet, so those are more focus areas for his development than long-term red flags.
Depending on the incoming rookie’s maturation, Memphis may have one of the league's better point guard-big man combos sooner than later with Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr. The latter’s ability to stretch the floor will make life easier on Morant, and the two should work plenty of pick-and-choose magic.
No. 3: RJ Barrett to New York Knicks
With ill-timed injuries thinning the free-agent market and Anthony Davis heading somewhere other than the Big Apple, the New York Knicks don't have many opportunities to snag an alpha scorer this summer.
RJ Barrett potentially scratches that itch.
His freshman campaign was phenomenal, even if some view it as a mild disappointment since he entered it as the favored prospect in this class. He was the leading scorer for the 32-win Duke Blue Devils and one of only two players in college basketball to average at least 22 points, seven rebounds and four assists.
He can be prone to stretches of tunnel vision, and his shot needs some work (30.8 percent from range, 66.5 percent at the line). But he blends positional size and strength with polish and competitiveness in a way that makes him a projectable team leader despite being just 19 years old.
If market forces make the Knicks play the long game with their rebuild, Barrett might be what eventually brings this nucleus together. New York has plenty of young, interesting prospects—Mitchell Robinson, Kevin Knox and Dennis Smith Jr. chief among them—but it's been waiting for a youngster to take control of this attack.
No. 4: De'Andre Hunter to Atlanta Hawks (via Lakers)
The Atlanta Hawks climbed the ladder just ahead of the draft, with ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reporting they acquired pick Nos. 4 and 57, along with Solomon Hill and a future second-rounder from New Orleans, for Nos. 8, 17 and 35.
De'Andre Hunter was apparently the apple of Atlanta's eye, and the 21-year-old should nestle into an early rotation spot. While his upside appears limited by a lack of shot-creating skills, he counteracts that with opening-night readiness.
His calling card is defense, as presumed lottery pick Jarrett Culver can attest. The two matched wits in April's national championship, and Hunter pestered Culver into a woeful 5-of-22 shooting night.
Save for elite athleticism, Hunter has everything the Hawks would want in a defensive stopper. He checks all the necessary speed, size, length and strength boxes to guard at least three positions out of the gate, and he may be able to capably switch onto all five. He's also an instinctual off-ball defender who will rarely miss his rotation.
Offense is more of a mixed bag. His career 41.9 three-point percentage hints at significant three-and-D upside, but it's worth noting his outside game lacked volume (0.9 makes per contest). His spot-up shooting needs to hold up because he doesn't have the off-the-dribble verve to create his own offense.
Hunter's seemingly low ceiling makes this appear a bit of a reach, although with Trae Young, John Collins and Kevin Huerter on the roster, Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk may have deduced his roster needed more of a sure thing than a risk-reward prospect.
No. 5: Darius Garland to Cleveland Cavaliers
One year after they spent the No. 8 pick on Collin Sexton, the Cleveland Cavaliers doubled down on the point guard position with Vanderbilt's Darius Garland. Given where the Cavs are at in their post-LeBron James rebuild, they're fine focusing on talent over fit.
That said, this is still a relative leap of faith here since Garland barely broke a sweat at the college level. He suffered a meniscus tear early in his fifth contest and never returned. Three of the four full games he played were against teams from the Big South, SWAC and Atlantic Sun, so it's hard to make sense of his statistics.
That said, the former 5-star recruit has been on the national radar for a while, so his stock isn't entirely tied to his brief collegiate run. As Bleacher Report's Jonathan Wasserman detailed, Garland shines brightest for his ability to generate and convert perimeter scoring chances:
"Garland's appeal stems from his skill level, particularly as a shot creator and shooter. Before going down, he was 11-of-23 from three (6-of-9 on catch-and-shoot) and 13-of-23 on pull-ups. Garland shows the ability to separate into step-backs and knock down dribble jumpers from deep, and with notable fluidity, rhythm and range, he's a threat to spot up off the ball as well."
Few attributes are more valuable in today's game than pull-up perimeter shooting, and Cleveland should use Garland's scoring acumen to contort opposing defenses. That's a big enough strength to help offset some of his obvious weaknesses, like a lack of explosiveness, spotty decision-making (more turnovers than assists) and defensive limitations.
The Cavs need Garland's shooting, but his fit with Sexton is funky. Both stand just 6'2", and neither is a natural distributor. The scoring potential for this pairing is high, but it's unclear how much they can get their teammates involved.
No. 6: Jarrett Culver to Minnesota Timberwolves (via Suns)
The Minnesota Timberwolves needed a stopper, and they moved up to add one, snagging Jarrett Culver at No. 6 after landing the pick from the Phoenix Suns for No. 11 and Dario Saric, per Wojnarowski.
Culver logged the most minutes on a Texas Tech team that led the nation in defensive efficiency, per KenPom.com. He also turned his sophomore leap into an Olympic-caliber high jump. He nearly doubled his points per game, more than doubled his assists and even bumped his field-goal percentage despite moving from the background and into the spotlight.
He probably won't be ticketed for a go-to scoring role with Minnesota, which is fine since he's neither an electric athlete nor a knockdown shooter.
As a supporting actor, he'll chip in as both a multipositional defender and secondary table-setter. His scoring will likely fluctuate until he gets a better grasp on his outside shot.
The Wolves will have length around the perimeter with Culver, Andrew Wiggins, Robert Covington and last year's 20th pick, Josh Okogie, but Covington is the only sure shooter in that group.
No. 7: Coby White to Chicago Bulls
The point guard-needy Chicago Bulls stood pat at No. 7 and saw electric lead guard Coby White fall right into their lap.
White defines the term "ignitable."
He isn’t always hot. But catch him on a good night, and he might burn down the arena. He scored 27-plus points five different times for the Tar Heels. For context, Michael Jordan’s freshman high at UNC was 23, and that came in an exhibition against Yugoslavia.
White has the handles and footwork to free himself from defenders, and he never takes his foot off the gas. His first step is a blur, but he also understands how and when to downshift. Though he may not be the most creative passer, he’s capable of consistently making smart, simple plays.
While he could serve as an energy injection early in his career, navigating half-court sets could be a challenge. He isn’t the most consistent shooter (especially on the move), nor is he a great finisher at the basket. His slight frame and short wingspan (6’4¾" with a 6’5" wingspan) could pose challenges defensively, and his fundamentals need sharpening at both ends.
This looks like both the best player available and the biggest need-filler. That’s what all teams hope to find on draft night.
No. 8: Jaxson Hayes to New Orleans Pelicans (via Hawks)
New Orleans' frontcourt of the future is set. After nabbing Zion at No. 1 and moving back to No. 8, the Pels added another high-level athlete in Texas' Jaxson Hayes.
He is your classic rim-runner with a couple of contemporary twists.
He's quick enough laterally that if his defensive awareness improves, he should be able to handle perimeter switches. His 74.0 free-throw percentage indicates he at least shouldn't be a liability at the line and might one day develop into a capable spot-up shooter.
For now, he's basically what most teams want in a non-shooting big—or rather, he will be once he adds the requisite polish. He's getting by on energy and elite physical tools (6'11½" with a 7'3½" wingspan), which are enough to get him a rotation spot as a rookie. But if the Pels are trying to win now, Hayes might need a little more seasoning before he's entrusted with a starting gig.
He won't have the highest ceiling without a perimeter shot, but he and Williamson will be a handful in the open court and above the rim.
No. 9: Rui Hachimura to Washington Wizards
The Washington Wizards' perpetual quest for competitiveness continues. While John Wall's ruptured Achilles and the team's limited financial flexibility might erase any win-now hopes for 2019-20, the Wizards nevertheless went the plug-and-play route with Gonzaga's Rui Hachimura.
He has long intrigued scouts with strong physical tools, and he finally put them all together as a junior. His production was elite (19.7 points per game), and his efficiency was the same (59.1 percent overall, 60.6 percent on two-pointers).
He has proved a quick learner, as he logged just 130 total minutes as a freshman. He has tightened his handles to the point he can take defensive rebounds end-to-end, and he's an off-the-dribble scoring threat from the intermediate range.
But at this point, the 21-year-old isn't an outside shooter, high-impact rebounder or the most consistent provider of anything beyond inside-the-arc scoring. He picked up the sport late, and his lack of awareness shows at both ends.
The Wizards could've chased upside here with Cam Reddish. Hachimura doesn't have the same ceiling, and if he can't find an outside stroke, Washington's offense could get crowded when Wall returns.
No. 10: Cam Reddish to Atlanta Hawks (via Mavericks)
The Hawks continued fleshing out their wings by spending the No. 10 pick on Duke's Cam Reddish. He's a projectable three-and-D swingman with more playmaking and scoring potential than that designation usually infers.
However, he never quite caught on with the Blue Devils, dropping back from third star to third wheel over the season. Playing off the ball on a poorly spaced offense surely didn't help his comfort level, but only so much of an anemic 35.6/33.3/77.2 shooting slash can be overlooked.
His appeal might start and stop with the eye test, which he aces with ease. He's a fluid athlete with enticing size for the wing (6'8" with a 7'0½" wingspan) and ball skills that enhance the impact of his build.
While some might see the next Nicolas Batum, others could see Paul George 2.0. Either way, he's someone with an enviable blend of length, athleticism, playmaking, perimeter shooting and defensive versatility.
Even if he's still a project, that's not a bad foundation for a 19-year-old to build upon. Besides, it's not like Atlanta's stable of young, potential-rich prospects should be in a rush.
No. 11: Cameron Johnson to Phoenix Suns (via Timberwolves)
The Phoenix Suns must be desperate for shooting. Cameron Johnson, taken 11th overall, can supply that in spades, but good luck getting anything more from him.
He is the anti-upside prospect of this class. His college career spanned five years and two schools. His 23rd birthday is already behind him, meaning he's older than Devin Booker and Ben Simmons. In other words, any flaws in Johnson's game—his handles and athleticism are suspect—are unlikely to be corrected. It's a strange investment for a club that appears nowhere close to the playoff picture.
But his lethal long-range shot is a safety net, both for his career and the Suns offense, which, it's worth noting, finished 28th in three-point makes and 30th in three-point percentage last season. With good size (6'8½") and better understanding of off-ball movement, he's the early favorite to pace this class in spot-up splashing. This past season, he buried nearly three triples per night at a 45.7 percent clip.
The Suns had enough frontcourt clutter that they effectively salary-dumped TJ Warren onto the Indiana Pacers earlier Thursday, per Wojnarowski. Johnson just crowds things again, only with far fewer scoring tricks up his sleeve.
No. 12: PJ Washington to Charlotte Hornets
Rinse and repeat for the Charlotte Hornets, who took the safe route at No. 12 with Kentucky forward PJ Washington. He has glue-guy potential, but his upside may not stretch much farther than that.
The rare second season under John Calipari paid off for Washington, who left Lexington as a much-improved shooter, scorer and passer.
He doesn't waste his movements, which can lead to some rushed shots but also helps him capitalize on his quick first step. If he gets around his man, he can finish with either hand or, as of this past season, spot open spot-up snipers and off-ball slashers. Further honing his outside shot will be key, as he was a non-shooter as a freshman (21 attempts in 37 games) and a low-volume one as a sophomore (0.9 makes a night).
His mobility and long arms should make him a defensive asset, but that will only happen if he increases his energy on that end. Too often, he loses focus away from the ball or on the glass.
Washington will help the 2019-20 Hornets, but if Kemba Walker was hoping to see a future star in Buzz City, this incoming rookie won't be it.
No. 13: Tyler Herro to Miami Heat
The Miami Heat entered the night in need of shooting, perimeter scoring and star potential. They hope to have scratched at least a couple of those itches by adding Tyler Herro with the 13th selection.
His mechanics say he's a better shooter than he showed at Kentucky, where he converted just 35.5 percent of his long-range looks. If he becomes a dart-thrower from distance, that's valuable enough to log major minutes in today's league. But the comfort he flashes as an off-the-dribble launcher are what could transform him from a shooting specialist to an offensive star.
He is, of course, potential over production right now since his underwhelming percentage doesn't change just because the ball looks good coming out of his hands. He also may not have the explosiveness to finish at the rim or the quickness to keep in front of big-league burners.
If he becomes a shooting specialist, this won't be a great lottery investment for a franchise that rarely makes them. If he can blossom as a scorer the way his mentor, Devin Booker, did, this is an out-of-the-park home run.
No. 14: Romeo Langford to Boston Celtics (via Kings)
If Kyrie Irving and Al Horford are really on the way out, the Boston Celtics will have plenty of shots to go around. Indiana’s Romeo Langford won’t mind taking them, but making them from range could be a challenge.
He is a natural scorer with the agility to shake his man, the length to shoot over him and the strength to absorb contact at the rim. His confidence isn’t lacking, and he’s a threat to pull from anywhere.
That said, opponents will live with him launching outside shots until he proves that’s an unwise strategy. While a thumb injury perhaps explains some of his three-point struggles at Indiana (34-of-125, 27.2 percent), concerns about his jumper predate his Hoosiers tenure.
Langford’s ability to find volume and efficiency from distance could determine the length and impact of his NBA career. Non-shooting 2-guards with questionable creation skills don’t exactly have long shelf lives in the Association.
The ball could get sticky between Langford, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, and it’s possible the latter is the only consistent sniper of the bunch. If Langford’s shot comes around, though, this trio could be a terror.
No. 15: Sekou Doumbouya to Detroit Pistons
The Detroit Pistons could have prioritized safety since Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond aren't getting any younger or less expensive. They opted for potential instead, focusing on the high-ceiling future of French forward Sekou Doumbouya.
He won't turn 19 until late December, meaning his wildly intriguing physical tools have ample time to mature. If they ever do, Detroit may have finally closed a frustratingly persistent hole along the wings.
Admittedly, he needs a lot of work. He doesn't have the handle or vision to create for himself or his teammates. He settles for too many jump shots even though his jumper isn't ready. His defensive effort comes and goes, which doesn't help when his awareness is already lacking.
If he ever puts it all together, though, he can be a two-way weapon at either forward spot.
His thick, long, 6'8", 230-pound frame is buoyed by fluidity and explosiveness. He played soccer growing up, and his agility shows it. If handled properly, he could become both a switch-everything stopper and an offensive mismatch thanks to a quick step, an improving shot and soft touch around the basket.
No. 16: Chuma Okeke to Orlando Magic
The Orlando Magic added versatility to their frontcourt with Auburn's Chuma Okeke, but they will have to wait a bit before seeing any return on their investment. The forward tore his ACL in the NCAA Tournament, which threatened to halt his draft stock but doesn't appear to have had much of an effect.
He can't do anything about his present unavailability, but he'll offer significant versatility at both ends once he's healthy. He's strong, he's long, he's accurate from distance (career 38.9 percent) and he's getting more comfortable off the bounce. He shouldn't have trouble defending either forward spot, and he'll survive most perimeter switches.
Orlando is heavy in the frontcourt, and that's without knowing what free agency holds for Nikola Vucevic. Okeke's outside shot and improving off-the-dribble game bring a different dimension, but even when he's healthy, it could be tricky to carve out major minutes unless this roster gets reshuffled.
No. 17: Nickeil Alexander-Walker to New Orleans Pelicans (via Nets)
The Pelicans added another backcourt creator in Virginia Tech's Nickeil Alexander-Walker. Between him, Williamson, Jrue Holiday, Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram, head coach Alvin Gentry has a host of capable initiators for his high-octane offense.
A second season at Virginia Tech greatly boosted Alexander-Walker's appeal, as he enjoyed big jumps as a scorer (16.2 points, up from 10.7), passer (4.0 assists, up from 1.5) and whistle-drawer (4.2 free-throw attempts, up from 1.9).
While he'll be an NBA 2-guard, his skill set resembles a combo guard's arsenal. He can thrive on or off the ball since he can hit from distance, create shots for teammates and finish around the basket. He's just as versatile the other way and should be able to defend both guard spots.
He's not an elite athlete, which can cause issues when he's trying to score among the tall trees in the restricted area. He also lacks the burst to consistently take his man off the dribble.
He's probably not a future star, but New Orleans hopes it's already added a few of them between Williamson's arrival and the Davis deal. Drafting a rotation player isn't always exciting, but it's a good way to use selections in this range.
No. 18: Goga Bitadze to Indiana Pacers
The Pacers aren’t making it easy on evaluators with this pick.
As a player, Georgia’s Goga Bitadze has as much offensive polish as any center in this draft. As a Pacer, he could have trouble finding the floor as long as Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis are calling the Circle City home.
Bitadze has back-to-the-basket skills and a soft touch with either hand. But his development as a capable outside shooter makes it easier to see him catching on in today’s NBA, where he’ll typically be dealing with superior athletes. If he keeps improving his marksmanship, he should eventually thrive as a screen-setter who can roll to the rim, pop for jumpers or find open teammates.
Defense could be a big issue. The 6’11” 19-year-old has the length and instincts to block—or at least change—shots around the rim, but he’s an open invitation to attack when he tries to defend on the perimeter.
Indiana doesn’t need to force minutes on Bitadze if his defense isn’t ready, but a playoff team with a bunch of players heading to free agency would ideally add a rotation player with a top-20 pick. He could be that for a lot of teams, but maybe not this one.
No. 19: Luka Samanic to San Antonio Spurs
Luka Samanic emerged as one of the early standouts at the combine, and the San Antonio Spurs clearly took note. Their frontcourt needed modernizing, and the 19-year-old potentially brings the ability to shoot, handle and pass.
He might have the mobility to guard multiple positions, but he must improve his fundamentals first. His shooting is the same. He could be a stretch big at some point, but the stroke isn't ready yet.
"[He] can improve with a few mechanical tweaks," The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor wrote. "He brings the ball to his release point too early, and his feet could be turned slightly to alleviate tension."
Samanic is a project, and the Spurs have had decent success developing such players over the years. But the DeMar DeRozan-LaMarcus Aldridge duo is built to compete right now, and the rookie may not help that effort much.
No. 20: Matisse Thybulle to Philadelphia 76ers (via Clippers)
After trading away Robert Covington in last season's Jimmy Butler deal, the Philadelphia 76ers reportedly traded up for a potential Covington clone. Philly used the 24th and 33rd picks to move up to No. 20 and get Washington's Matisse Thybulle, per Wojnarowski.
Thybulle is the most disruptive defender in this draft, and it's not particularly close. This past season, the 6'5" swingman surpassed Hall of Famer Gary Payton for the Pac-12's all-time lead in steals while blocking nearly as many shots as 7'7" prospect Tacko Fall.
Thybulle plays passing lanes like an elite cornerback, and he projects as a shutdown one-on-one defender despite Washington exclusively playing zone. He has long arms, sound instincts and a great motor.
That said, he needs to be special on defense because he's limited the other way. He should be an adequate outside shooter (although his percentage tanked to 30.5 as a senior), but that might be the extent of his offensive contributions. He won't create shots for himself or his teammates.
While the Sixers shouldn't need scoring if Butler and Tobias Harris rejoin Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, this offense is hungry for spacing. Thybulle should provide some of it, but how much is uncertain.
No. 21: Brandon Clarke to Memphis Grizzlies (via Thunder)
After giving Jaren Jackson Jr. an electric point guard in Morant, the Grizzlies reportedly moved up to find his frontcourt partner. Memphis traded the 23rd pick and a future second-rounder to the Oklahoma City Thunder to land the 21st pick and with it, Gonzaga's Brandon Clarke, per Wojnarowski.
He conquered the college game with energy, explosiveness and razor-sharp instincts.
He had as many blocks as missed shots at Gonzaga (117), and his willingness to stay within himself inflated his efficiency and limited his mistakes. His 37.2 PER trailed only Williamson among qualified players, and Clarke's 70.5 percent conversion rate on two-point field goals was comically high.
Despite some statistical absurdity, he's more attractive for his floor than his ceiling. He has a non-stretch big's game in a wing's body (6'8¼" tall with an identical wingspan). His athletic gifts will lose their uniqueness—and therefore be less impactful—at the NBA level, and that won't be easy to work around. Adding an outside shot would help, but his age (23 in September) and iffy mechanics lower his chances of doing so.
Memphis could've leaned heavily into upside given its rebuilding state, but the youngsters could benefit from adding a low-risk glue guy. Clarke, in turn, will appreciate Jackson's ability to stretch defenders and the fact Morant will spot all of his cuts and lob chances.
No. 22: Grant Williams to Boston Celtics
The Celtics added safety, toughness and a high skill level with Tennessee's Grant Williams. He's sort of a funky prospect, though.
On one hand, he's a proven performer. He had a productive three years at Tennessee and double-doubled seven times just last season. He doesn't take plays off or miss rotations. He's a skilled and smart passer, which allowed the Volunteers to run their offense through his post-ups.
On the other, his role with the Celtics could look significantly different than the one he filled for the Volunteers. At 6'7½", 240 pounds, he isn't big enough to man the NBA post. That lack of size might mute his scoring and rebounding, and his athletic limitations will hurt his shot-creating and wing defense.
He has the smarts and skills to find a niche, but his transition might require a fairly significant transformation.
No. 23: Darius Bazley to Oklahoma City Thunder (via Grizzlies)
The long and athletic Oklahoma City Thunder just got longer and more athletic with Darius Bazley.
But he is on a short list of this draft's biggest unknowns. While most other prospects spent the past calendar putting together a year of film, he worked with private trainers and had a seven-figure internship with New Balance. His physical tools are interesting, but his on-court abilities are easily questioned.
"He was a five-star recruit coming out of high school, but he wasn't considered a lock to be a one-and-done player," The Ringer's Jonathan Tjarks wrote. "The expectation among most NBA scouts was that he would spend multiple seasons at Syracuse polishing his game."
Consistency has been a challenge for Bazley, which makes sense given his lack of seasoning. On good days, he's a mismatch forward who can hit tough shots, find open teammates and defend multiple positions. On not-so-good ones, he's a ball-pounder who takes tough shots and makes ill-advised gambles when he does pass.
If OKC wanted a raw athlete, Nassir Little could've made a lot more sense. Bazley seemed more worthy of a second-round flier.
No. 24: Ty Jerome to Phoenix Suns (via 76ers)
It finally happened. The Suns actually addressed the point guard position. Sort of.
Phoenix, which acquired this pick from Boston, per Wojnarowski, again opted for (relative) safety with Ty Jerome, who makes open shots, delivers on-target passes and limits mistakes. He has the IQ of a steady role player, provided his physical limitations don't get the best of him.
The 6'5½", 194-pound guard sees plays before they happen, and he has the ball control to run an NBA reserve unit right now (5.5 assists to 1.6 turnovers this past season). He's a smooth outside shooter and capable pull-up threat.
While energetic and instinctive on defense, he heads into battle with underwhelming natural tools. His 6'4" wingspan is shorter than his height, and his burst appears to be in slow motion alongside elite athletes.
If he can handle his defensive assignments, he'll help Phoenix. But why do the Suns feel like they're shopping for finishing touches when their 40-124 record over the past two seasons suggests they're in dire need of more difference-makers?
No. 25: Nassir Little to Portland Trail Blazers
Once regarded as a top-five prospect, Nassir Little's offensive shortcomings limited his impact for the Tar Heels and sent him tumbling down the draft board. But his physical gifts remain enticing, especially for a Portland Trail Blazers team that has long been hunting for star forwards.
Who's the real Little? Is he the player who set the hoops world ablaze at the 2018 McDonald's All-American Game or the one who never started and averaged fewer than 20 minutes at North Carolina?
Little has the perfect physical tools for a positionless league, and it's possible the Association will bring out the best of him. With a better-spaced floor, his explosive athleticism could shine on the offensive glass and off-ball cuts.
But if he was anything close to a finished product, he would've logged real playing time at UNC. Instead, too much ball-watching, tardy rotations, erratic shooting and head-scratching decision-making left him buried behind players with nowhere near his natural abilities.
His underdeveloped skills would've made him a major risk if he landed in the lottery, but getting him 25th overall could be one of the night's biggest steals.
No. 26: Dylan Windler to Cleveland Cavaliers (via Rockets)
After grabbing Garland early, Cleveland went the three-point route again with Belmont's Dylan Windler.
At worst, he should be a deadly shooter from distance. He fired off 395 three-point looks the past two seasons and connected on 42.8 percent of them.
The hope is that he has much more offense to offer. His first step and dribble moves help him skate around aggressive closeouts, and his rapid reads make him a strong complementary passer. Energy is never an issue, and his awareness is where it should be for a four-year player and three-year starter.
But he must get stronger, and he has certain physical limitations (6'7½" with a 6'10" wingspan) that could plague him on defense. Larger forwards and speedy lead guards could both give him problems if he's switched onto them.
Next season's Cavaliers could be dreadful on defense. But they finished dead last this past season, so it's not like they can get any worse. Besides, they now have more firepower to try and keep up.
No. 27: Mfiondu Kabengele to Los Angeles Clippers (via Nets)
The Los Angeles Clippers saw something they liked in Mfiondu Kabengele and pried the 27th pick away from the Brooklyn Nets for a 2020 first-rounder and tonight's 56th pick, per Wojnarowski. Chances are, they saw quite a few somethings.
Kabengele blends big-man styles of the past and present. The nephew of Dikembe Mutombo learned some tricks of the shot-blocking trade from his uncle (2.8 blocks per 40 minutes this past season) and has some attractive contemporary qualities. With extra seasoning, he projects as a possible floor-spacer (37.4 percent from deep at Florida State) and capable perimeter switcher on defense.
His feel for the game isn't where you'd like it to be for someone who will turn 22 before his rookie season starts. He's neither a ball-handler nor a willing passer (21 assists in 71 college contests), and foul trouble will be an issue until his awareness improves.
But L.A. could be sufficiently stocked in shot-creators if this summer goes the way it hopes. What it doesn't have is an interior anchor after a No. 22 finish in blocks this past season.
No. 28: Jordan Poole to Golden State Warriors
While injuries derailed the Golden State Warriors in the 2019 NBA Finals, a lack of reliable reserves didn't help. They hope they found one in Jordan Poole, but he might need some maturing before qualifying as such.
He's a project, but one who could yield a big payoff if developed properly. His off-the-bounce acumen helps free him with relative ease, and his quick, compact stroke allows him to take advantage of the space he creates.
He plays a little too much hero ball, which won't cut it in head coach Steve Kerr's ball movement-based offense. While Poole has the physical ability to become a capable defender, his so-so energy, sloppy fundamentals and not-there-yet awareness limit his impact on that end.
With Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson both nursing major injuries and entering free agency, the Warriors shouldn't be in the same win-now rush they have been for the past five years.
No. 29: Keldon Johnson to San Antonio Spurs (via Raptors)
The Spurs continued growing their young, energetic backcourt with Kentucky's Keldon Johnson. His hustle should quickly endear him to head coach Gregg Popovich, but the rookie must prove his perimeter shot can hold up at the big-league level.
His three-point stroke is getting better, but he still netted only 45 triples in 37 games. Apparently that was enough for San Antonio, which looked past Johnson's severe limitations as a shot-creator and passer, perhaps hoping his stroke, motor and NBA body (6'6”, 216 lbs with a 6'9¼” wingspan) would combine to form a capable glue-guy package.
If opponents run him off the arc, he'll have trouble making a positive offensive impact. He isn't much of a scorer in the paint, and his playmaking is almost nonexistent (60 assists and 60 turnovers at Kentucky).
The Spurs have enough intriguing guards that playing time won't be guaranteed for Johnson. He'll need more than hard work to find the hardwood.
No. 30: Kevin Porter Jr. to Cleveland Cavaliers (via Bucks)
The Cavaliers are all-in on backcourt scoring. Kevin Porter Jr. was the latest ignitable guard to join the fold, and he did so at a price: four second-round selections and cash to Detroit, per The Athletic's Shams Charania.
Porter is one of the biggest risk/reward prospects in the draft.
His freshman season was filled with red flags: injuries, a team suspension and susceptibility to the siren's song of hero ball. At the same time, his upside is so towering he was one of the most buzz-worthy names the week of the draft.
"He has the gifts to be a top-five pick—easily," one executive told Charania days before the big event.
Porter has arguably as much boom-or-bust potential as any of his draft classmates.
Watch him ditch defenders with a quick crossover, behind-the-back dribble or step-back before finishing the play with a soft jumper (41.2 percent from range), and you'll swear you're seeing a star in the making.
His lack of awareness and fundamentals push down his floor. But at some point, the upside is worth the risk. That point probably passed well before the 30th pick.
No. 31: Nicolas Claxton to Brooklyn Nets (via 76ers)
After flummoxing defenses with multiple ball-handlers this past season, the Nets just added a new wrinkle to head coach Kenny Atkinson's offense: Georgia's Nicolas Claxton.
A rapid riser in the pre-draft process, his tools are fascinating. He's a hair under 7'0", and he can handle, pass and defend on the perimeter. As he fills out his frame, he should shine in the more traditional big-man categories like rebounding and shot-blocking, too.
The question is whether he can shoot, and the answer will determine whether he's a role player or perhaps one of this year's biggest steals. He wasn't very accurate at Georgia (30.2 percent outside, 61.1 percent at the line), but he played without a point guard, and it's tough to tell how that impacted his success rate.
He's a good value at this spot even without a shot. If he adds it to his arsenal the way so many players seem to do in Brooklyn, the value jumps to great.
No. 32: KZ Okpala to Miami Heat (via Suns)
Miami parted with three second-rounders to get the 32nd pick from Indiana, per Wojnarowski, and promptly spent it on Stanford swingman KZ Okpala.
His skill set is raw, but it's getting better. His sophomore season saw across-the-board gains, including his shooting mechanics and comfort on the ball. His upside could either shape him as a jumbo-sized three-and-D wing or a mismatch, near-6'10" face-up forward, and he'd be a plus athlete no matter the label.
He's still a project, though, and lacks any one defined skill that could help him crack the Heat's rotation as a rookie.
No. 33: Carsen Edwards to Boston Celtics (via Cavaliers)
Sayonara, Kyrie Irving? See you when we see you, Terry Rozier? Who knows what free agency holds for the Celtics, but they just found a spark plug in Purdue's Carsen Edwards.
He has enough shake to separate from defenders, and he's a shooting threat from anywhere. His sprint through the NCAA Tournament was basically a four-game fireworks show. He averaged 34.8 points and 7.0 triples while blitzing both defending champion Villanova and eventual champion Virginia for 42 points apiece.
The question is whether he can score efficiently at this level. That was a challenge even at Purdue (career 41.2 percent shooting). If he's not putting up points, he's probably doing more harm than good since he's not much of a distributor and will be targeted at the defensive end.
Does a Boston team with (at least) Gordon Hayward, Marcus Smart, Tatum, Brown and Langford have enough touches to maximize Edwards' value? That's debatable. But if anyone can solve the puzzle, it's probably Brad Stevens.
No. 34: Bruno Fernando to Atlanta Hawks (via Lakers)
After fortifying the wing spots with Hunter and Reddish, the Hawks turned their attention to the center spot with Bruno Fernando. The 34th pick belonged to Philly, but Atlanta acquired it for the 57th pick and two future seconds, per Charania.
Fernando's collection of physical tools runneth over, and his sophomore season saw subtle but important growth on the offensive end. Even if rim-running is his NBA calling, he'll benefit from progressing as a passer (2.0 assists, up from 0.7) and rebounder (10.6, 6.5).
His energy gives off Montrezl Harrell-type vibes, though Fernando's lack of polish could limit his early exposure. His defensive awareness, ball control and ability to generate offense are all raw enough that they could keep him tethered to the bench or sent to the G League.
His offense will only make Atlanta harder to handle, but his defense must catch up before he can comfortably slot alongside John Collins.
No. 35: Marcos Louzada Silva to New Orleans Pelicans (via Hawks)
New Orleans flashed its international scouting strength by nabbing Brazil's Marcos "Didi" Louzada Silva with the 35th pick. He's a draft-and-stash candidate, but someone who could prove a worthwhile investment down the road.
While not much of a shot-creator or passer, he has decent size, length and athleticism, which could yield defensive versatility at some point. If he continues improving as a spot-up shooter, he has theoretical three-and-D upside.
No. 36: Cody Martin to Charlotte Hornets (via Wizards)
Are the Hornets confident in Kemba Walker staying, or do they just have a thing for polished, limited-upside college players? It may be both.
Either way, Martin is a no-flash prospect with the vision and passing touch to orchestrate NBA pick-and-rolls right now. His length and mobility will help him battle guards and wings defensively.
With his 24th birthday coming in September, he might start bumping into his ceiling soon. His limited athleticism saps his off-the-bounce ability and loft around the rim, while his funky shooting form could lead to streakiness from distance.
No. 37: Deividas Sirvydis to Detroit Pistons (via Mavericks)
The Pistons continued overhauling their wing rotation by acquiring the 37th pick from the Dallas Mavericks, per Wojnarowski, and spending it on Deividas Sirvydis, a smooth 6'8" Lithuanian southpaw.
He boasts a swift but smooth outside stroke and a willingness to turn good shots into great ones by making the extra pass. He's usually in the right place at the right time defensively, but he could use more bulk and isn't especially long.
He doesn't pose a major off-the-dribble threat, as his burst and handles both leave something to be desired. Since he lacks lateral quickness and strength, identifying matchups he can handle could be tricky.
He will "likely" be stashed overseas, a source told The Athletic's James Edwards III.
No. 38: Daniel Gafford to Chicago Bulls (via Grizzlies)
The Chicago Bulls may have found their long-term backup behind last year's No. 7 pick, Wendell Carter Jr. Daniel Gafford may not be dripping in potential, but it isn't hard to imagine him snagging a rotation role.
His second season at Arkansas didn't yield much new information but rather reinforced that he is who we thought he was. Size, energy and athleticism will shape his NBA future, which will follow the athletic mold of 5s such as Clint Capela and JaVale McGee.
Gafford isn't a shooter or passer, and he's probably not nimble enough to handle many defensive switches. But that's not why the Bulls added him. They're looking for solid screens, rim rolls, rebounding and shot-blocking, and he can provide those in decent doses as an energetic reserve.
No. 39: Alen Smailagic to Golden State Warriors (via Pelicans)
The Warriors moved to acquire Serbian big man Alen Smailagic. Again.
After trading for him following last year's G League draft and watching him develop with the Santa Cruz Warriors, they grabbed him in the Association's version with the 39th pick, which Wojnarowski reported they landed from the Pelicans.
He offers size (6'10"), skill and solid fluidity as a face-up big on the perimeter. He won't turn 19 until August, so he's a prospect, and one The Athletic's Anthony Slater feels is "probably destined for another year in [Santa Cruz], maybe as a two-way."
No. 40: Justin James to Sacramento Kings (via Timberwolves)
Athleticism and energy drive the appeal for Wyoming's Justin James, who averaged 22.1 points as a senior.
He's serviceable-to-solid in a lot of different areas, but he doesn't excel in any particular one. His three-point shot fluctuated wildly (41.9 percent as a sophomore, 29.6 percent as a senior), and his ball control can be loose (4.2 turnovers per game). He has the tools to be a versatile defender, but his awareness and strength need to improve.
No. 41: Eric Paschall to Golden State Warriors (via Lakers)
The Warriors are likely hoping for early contributions from Eric Paschall, who played three seasons at Villanova, won a title there and served in both complementary and featured roles.
He offers a little of everything, but probably nothing in heavy doses. His handles and vision are strong for his size (6'7¼", 254 lbs), but they're not as sharp as they'd need to be to create off the dribble with Golden State.
He needs to find a go-to attribute that will get him a rotation spot. He potentially offers versatile defense and outside shooting, but neither are in his bag now. With his 23rd birthday looming in November, he's fighting against the clock a bit.
No. 42: Admiral Schofield to Washington Wizards (via Kings)
The Wizards acquired the 42nd pick and Jonathon Simmons' partially guaranteed contract from the Sixers, per Charania. Shortly thereafter, they spent it on Admiral Schofield, a prospect with an A-plus name and a body that looks like his name sounds.
He packs a chiseled 241 pounds on his 6'5¼" frame, and he can bury defenders at the basket. He's more than muscle and toughness, too. He can convert spot-up threes, makes smart passes and enhances his physical tools by giving maximum effort.
He doesn't have the handles or the burst to create offense for himself, and his heavy frame isn't the easiest thing to move side-to-side. He could become a versatile stopper, but he's not one right now.
No. 43: Jaylen Nowell to Minnesota Timberwolves (via Heat)
The Timberwolves potentially found a floor-spacer in Jaylen Nowell, provided his shooting surge as a sophomore holds up.
After hitting just 35.1 percent of his threes as a freshman, he bumped the conversion rate to 44.0 as a sophomore, albeit on fairly limited volume (51 makes in 36 games). But that stride spoke to his season as a whole, as his near across-the-board improvement sparked Washington's rise to the top of the Pac-12.
He grew as a passer and scorer. He can put up points from anywhere, but he'd help his efficiency by cutting down on low-percentage long twos.
His athleticism is a question mark, and his one-on-one defense is a bigger one. He fits the physical profile of a stopper, but he's inexperienced coming out of the Huskies' zone coverage.
No. 44: Bol Bol to Denver Nuggets (via Hornets)
The Denver Nuggets finally, mercifully stopped Bol Bol's slide at the 44th pick, which they acquired from the Heat, per Wojnarowski.
Given Bol's numerous red flags, it wasn't surprising to watch him drop out of the lottery. But at some point, the plummet turned ridiculous.
His upside is incredible. He's a 7'2½" center who's comfortable creating off the dribble and competent from beyond the arc (13-of-25 from deep at Oregon). He could be a scoring threat from inside and out, plus an impact defender if for no other reason than his hawkish 7'7" wingspan.
As for the downside, there's admittedly plenty. He's a big man coming off a stress fracture in his left foot, and that might not be the biggest worry. Among the weaknesses identified by The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor were "poor effort," "lacks fundamentals" and "it often seems like he doesn't realize that passing the ball is an option."
Those are things that could have scared off teams drafting in the middle of the first round. For some, they presumably did. But as a second-round flier, he's a no-risk, possibly major-reward prospect for the Nuggets.
If Bol pans out, Denver might have two unguardable centers. If he doesn't, this team won't miss a beat battling for the Western Conference crown.
No. 45: Isaiah Roby to Dallas Mavericks (via Pistons)
The Mavericks could have something interesting in Isaiah Roby.
At 6'8½" with a 7'1" wingspan, he can score from inside and out, make plays off the bounce and protect the paint and perimeter.
Then again, they may not have much at all. He doesn't do any of those things consistently, struggles with physicality and looks like a better shooter than the results say he is (career 33.6 percent from deep). He doesn't have a go-to skill on offense, and his motor isn't always revved up on defense.
No. 46: Talen Horton-Tucker to Los Angeles Lakers (via Nets)
The Los Angeles sent money and a future pick to the Magic for No. 46, per Charania, and added a unique prospect in Iowa State's Talen Horton-Tucker.
Few, if any, players are built like him. Despite standing just 6'4", he has the length (7'1¼" wingspan) and heft (235 lbs) of a big. He's slippery enough off the bounce to create separation and strong enough to power through contact. Every now and then, he'll flash an advanced dribble move or cross-court delivery that hints at major upside, which he has time to realize as an 18-year-old.
But he's an offense-first prospect who posted a troubling 40.6/30.8/62.5 slash line over 35 games with the Cyclones. His shot selection and decision-making both sap his efficiency, and he doesn’t have the quickness or motor to turn his length into a defensive asset.
His ball skills are potentially special, but his game and body need a lot of work.
No. 47: Ignas Brazdeikis to New York Knicks (via Magic)
The Knicks drafted Ignas Brazdeikis after trading the 55th pick and cash considerations to the Kings for No. 47, per Charania and NBC Sports Bay Area's James Ham. For a team that finished last in offensive efficiency, the Knicks smartly prioritized firepower on draft night.
Brazdeikis is an offense-only prospect who potentially helps as a spot-up shooter, savvy off-ball mover and crafty finisher near the rim. He averaged an even 20 points per 40 minutes at Michigan, and all three layers of his slash line impressed (46.2/39.2/77.3).
But his defensive outlook is all doom and gloom.
"His weaknesses are glaring: he's not especially athletic nor versatile defensively, and being able to stay on the floor will be his primary stumbling block to an NBA job," Sports Illustrated's Jeremy Woo wrote. "He won't be quick enough to defend most 3s, nor is he big enough to defend most 4s."
No. 48: Terance Mann to Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers' flyer on Terance Mann is a reflection of his intelligence and ability, plus a belief in his perimeter shot.
He plays for the greater good. He can pass anywhere on the court, and he does the little things away from the ball—like screen-setting and timely cutting—that make him a positive contributor even if he's not always seen on the stat sheet. His effort is always top-notch, especially on defense and the glass.
But can he shoot? He just had his best shooting season (by far), and it only featured 30 three-pointers in 37 games. Over his four seasons at Florida State, he shot just 32.7 percent from range and 67.0 percent at the line.
No. 49: Quinndary Weatherspoon to San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs found Quinndary Weatherspoon in the right spot.
His four-year stay at Mississippi State featured a cycle of perpetual improvement. By his senior year, his numbers were up to 18.5 points per game on 50.8 percent shooting.
He's a good athlete who can shoot from range and create off the dribble. He doesn't have a go-to trait, but he doesn't have a red-flag weakness, either.
He could emerge as a rotation player, which would be quite the haul at this stage of the draft.
No. 50: Jarrell Brantley to Utah Jazz (via Pacers)
The Jazz landed the 50th pick from the Pacers, per Wojnarowski, to add College of Charleston forward Jarrell Brantley.
He'll bring size, length (7'2" wingspan) and a powerful scoring punch to Salt Lake City, either for the Jazz or the G League's Salt Lake City Stars. He scored more than 1,900 points and shot better than 48 percent over his four-year collegiate career. He might also defend at a high enough level to help offset the loss of Jae Crowder.
No. 51: Tremont Waters to Boston Celtics
The Celtics clearly plan to be in the point guard market, and Tremont Waters potentially gives them another option there.
He has the moves and change-of-pace ability to manipulate a defense, plus the passing touch to slip dimes through tight spaces. He can pull up from distance or bury triples off the catch, although his three-point consistency isn't quite there (career 34.0 percent).
He'll compete defensively, but he'll also be singled out as a 5'10¾", 172-pound target. Few undersized players last in this league, and it's not certain Waters' offense will make him one of the exceptions.
No. 52: Jalen McDaniels to Charlotte Hornets (via Thunder)
The Hornets went outside the safety net to roll the dice on Jalen McDaniels, a 6'9¾" forward with an interesting blend of ball-handling skill and defensive versatility.
His shooting form is encouraging, but his results aren't close (career 29.8 percent from range). He also needs to add considerable bulk to his 192-pound frame, or he'll be susceptible to bully-ball around the basket.
Nevertheless, he could be intriguing if Charlotte gives him enough time.
No. 53: Justin Wright-Foreman to Utah Jazz
For all the wild tales at the NBA draft, Wright-Foreman' is among the least likely.
Four seasons back, he averaged 1.6 points in 4.1 minutes per game at Hofstra. This past year, he provided the Pride with 27.1 points per night while hitting 51.1 percent of his field goals and 42.5 percent of his threes.
He's undersized (6'0½" in shoes) but long (6'7½" wingspan), and he's been an elite scorer the past two seasons. Will any of that skill translate to the NBA? That's hard to say, but you can see why Utah would want to take a look.
No. 54: Marial Shayok to Philadelphia 76ers
Transferring from Virginia to Iowa State catapulted Marial Shayok up the offensive pecking order, and his scoring column predictably exploded. During his lone season with the Cyclones, he averaged 18.7 points and shot 49.6 percent from the field. He also buried 2.1 threes per game at a 38.6 percent clip.
While only an average athlete, he has the length to potentially guard multiple positions. If he sharpens his decision-making (2.0 assists against 2.7 turnovers as a senior), he could be a bench spark.
No. 55: Kyle Guy to Sacramento Kings (via Rockets)
Kyle Guy is a lethal long-range shooter and proven winner. That has to be what excited the Kings, who can’t realistically expect much more after they acquired him in a trade with the Knicks, per The Athletic’s Jason Jones.
Is there room in the NBA for a 6'2¼", 168-pound shooter? Sacramento made that wager, but his shortcomings as a defender and distributor may make that tough.
No. 56: Jaylen Hands to Brooklyn Nets (via Trail Blazers)
Consistency was a challenge at UCLA for Jaylen Hands, but his good games were good enough for the Nets to take a late flier.
When his outside shot finds its mark, he can carry his team in spurts. When it doesn't, he seems a pretty underwhelming option as a lead guard.
No. 57: Jordan Bone to Detroit Pistons (via Nuggets)
Jordan Bone broke out this past season and punched an improbable NBA ticket by doing so. He was a single-digit scorer and sub-40-percent shooter his first two seasons at Tennessee before pumping in 13.5 points per night and converting 46.5 percent of his field goals as a junior.
He's an impressive mover laterally and vertically, and he has a good knack for running an offense. He could lead Detroit's reserve unit at some point, but he won't create shots for himself and must continue proving himself as an outside shooter.
No. 58: Miye Oni to Utah Jazz (via Warriors)
The Jazz purchased this pick from the Warriors, per Wojnarowski, and smartly scooped up Yale's Miye Oni.
When Oni has room to launch, he's a scoring threat both at the rim and beyond the arc. He keeps the ball moving on offense, and he has enough quickness to pester guards and wings on defense. You don't need to squint too hard to see role-player potential here.
But how much did three years of Ivy League competition prepare him for what he'll face in the NBA? If he struggled creating shots and scoring on the move against those defenders, how will he handle professional stoppers? This late in the draft, Utah can handle those questions.
59. Dewan Hernandez to Toronto Raptors
While not particularly skilled, Dewan Hernandez gives enough effort to squeeze what he can from his size-plus-athleticism combination. Having his junior season wiped out by an NCAA ruling didn’t help his development.
But his activity level impressed at the G League combine, and then again at the NBA’s version. The Toronto Raptors will appreciate his motor, even if he’s not ready for floor time yet.
No. 60: Vanja Marinkovic to Sacramento Kings (via Bucks)
If Serbian swingman Vanja Marinkovic has NBA potential, the Kings’ Serbian president of basketball operations, Vlade Divac, would probably be the first to know.
Marinkovic profiles as a possible volume scorer from the perimeter, but all areas of his game need polish. While he can be stashed overseas, he’s already 22 years old. There isn’t a ton of time to wait.