The 2019 NBA draft—a day when young hoopers accomplished their dreams of reaching the big league and teams sent veterans to new homes.
The selection process started with two near-locks Thursday evening. With the No. 1 overall pick, the New Orleans Pelicans selected Zion Williamson, and the Memphis Grizzlies took Ja Morant at No. 2.
The New York Knicks likely had options at No. 3 but went with the best player available in RJ Barrett. Did they make the right move? How does coveted guard Darius Garland fit with the Cleveland Cavaliers? Which team grabbed the biggest steal in the class? We will analyze and grade every pick for this year's draft.
1. New Orleans Pelicans: F Zion Williamson, Duke
As expected, the Pelicans took Williamson, who will become this franchise's new centerpiece after the Anthony Davis era ended via his recent trade to the Los Angeles Lakers.
Williamson brings more flare and flash to the court than Davis through his high-rising dunks and speed running the open floor. Head coach Alvin Gentry can exercise position versatility with the 6'7", 285-pound forward—specifically small-ball lineups and defensive switches.
The Duke product will need to continue working on his jump shot to reach a transcendent level, but he already brings enough production on both ends of the court to provide an immediate impact. He may not become a consistent three-pointer shooter but displays great touch to knock down shots inside the arc.
2. Memphis Grizzlies: G Ja Morant, Murray State
The Grizzlies agreed to trade guard Mike Conley to the Utah Jazz on Wednesday, which indicated Morant would land in this spot. And unsurprisingly, the club went with the dynamic guard.
Morant rose through the ranks with an impressive year at Murray State, averaging 24.5 points, 5.7 rebounds and 10 assists through the 2018-19 campaign. He's decisive with possession whether on the move to score or breaking down defenses to create for his teammates.
As a plus, Morant isn't afraid to draw contact for extra scoring opportunities at the free-throw line. Last year, he attempted 8.2 shots at the charity stripe per contest and converted 81 percent. If the 19-year-old cuts down on turnovers, the Grizzlies will have a lead playmaker with great efficiency.
3. New York Knicks: F RJ Barrett, Duke
The Knicks inject an aggressive scorer into the lineup with Barrett. He's a locomotive when driving to the hoop and finishes strong after leaving his feet. The Duke star averaged 22.6 points per game, consistently challenging interior defenders. The 19-year needs to improve his free-throw percentage to take full advantage of his fearless style.
Barrett isn't the most efficient shooter from deep, but he displayed range during the past campaign, scoring on 73 out of 237 shots from three-point territory. The physically gifted forward plays well with the ball in his possession, oftentimes creating space for a drive or dishing off to teammates. He averaged 4.3 assists per contest with the Blue Devils.
When head coach David Fizdale took the head-coaching job with the Knicks, he wanted toughness on the wings. Barrett fits the bill, but he must pick up his defensive intensity.
4. Atlanta Hawks (via Los Angeles Lakers): F De'Andre Hunter
Shortly before the draft, the Atlanta Hawks traded pick Nos. 8, 17 and 35 to slide into the fourth slot. Team brass selected De'Andre Hunter, the 2018-19 ACC Defensive Player of the Year, to add resistance on the wing.
Hunter didn't rack up a ton of steals or blocks on the collegiate level, but he's discipline in movement, staying in front of ball-handlers and using his length to alter shots. Don't underestimate the Virginia product's potential to develop on the offensive end; the 6'7" forward knocked down 46 of his 105 three-point attempts last year.
5. Cleveland Cavaliers: G Darius Garland
The Cleveland Cavaliers picked up Darius Garland to pair with Collin Sexton in the backcourt. He's a confident shooter who recently developed his passing skills. The 19-year-old suffered a torn meniscus five games into his freshman season at Vanderbilt but displayed top-notch shooting ability with range.
Garland can play on or off the ball—his outside scoring should complement Sexton's aggressive penetrating style. The former Commodore will provide instant offense for a team that ranked 29th in points last season (104.5).
6. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Phoenix): G Jarrett Culver
Jarrett Culver comes into a league with a versatile skill set; he can defend both guard positions and smaller forwards. The Texas Tech product averaged 18.5 points, 6.4 rebounds and 3.7 assists through the 2018-19 campaign.
The Timberwolves boost their backcourt with an off guard capable of handling the ball and challenging a prolific scorer on the opposing squad. Culver doesn't have a consistent long-distance shot, but he's shown the potential to improve in that area on the pro level.
7. Chicago Bulls: G Coby White
At 6'3", 191 pounds, Coby White will become a handful for defenders because he can dribble and drive and elevate for a good shot anywhere on the court. Last year, the talented guard averaged 16.1 points, 4.1 assists and 2.3 three-pointers.
The Chicago Bulls' decision to select White probably means Kris Dunn's tenure with the team may come to an end in the near future. White gives the starting five a more polished scoring threat.
8. New Orleans Pelicans (via Atlanta): C Jaxson Hayes
The Pelicans add another big body in the frontcourt. Jaxson Hayes can protect the rim and reject the toughest penetrators at the basket. He averaged 2.2 blocks last season.
New Orleans picked up center Jahlil Okafor's 2019-20 option, so Hayes doesn't have to play heavy minutes right away. Assuming he develops in a backup role, the Texas product could become more than a finisher a few feet away from the basket.
9. Washington Wizards: F Rui Hachimura
Rui Hachimura possesses a smooth offensive skill set inside the arc. He's going to have immediate success catching the ball in the paint and using his frame to outmuscle defenders. The 6'8", 236-pounder could post a double-double on any given night.
On paper, Bobby Portis and Hachimura looks a solid combination in the frontcourt. The rookie doesn't have a long-range shot, but he will rack up easy buckets with a solid distributor able to find him in the post.
10. Atlanta Hawks (via Dallas): F Cam Reddish
Cam Reddish has all the tools to outplay his draft position. He's a 6'6", 207-pound forward with scoring versatility as a shooter and slasher to the basket. The Duke product must improve his efficiency given he shot a spotty 36 percent from the floor last year.
Reddish's game may have struggled behind two stars at Duke, but he can spread his wings a bit on a rebuilding Hawks roster. Furthermore, he plays the passing lanes; defensive effort will allow him to see more minutes as a rookie.
11. Phoenix Suns (via Minnesota): G Cameron Johnson
The Phoenix Suns select a pure shooter. Cameron Johnson averaged 2.7 triples and shot 46 percent from beyond the arc during the 2018-19 campaign. Head coach Monty Williams can pair him with Devin Booker to form a prolific scoring duo or bring him into the fold off the bench.
At 6'7", 205 pounds, Johnson can play three positions. Regardless, he's walking a bucket in any type of lineup.
12. Charlotte Hornets: F PJ Washington
The Charlotte Hornets add a physical presence on the wing. As a sophomore, PJ Washington saw an improvement in his game on both ends of the court. He worked on his shot, sinking 33 three-pointers after recording five as a freshman. The 6'6", 230-pound forward also averaged 1.2 blocked shots.
Washington and Miles Bridges give the Hornets frontcourt an intriguing pair with similar playing styles, but the former seems a little more advanced with his interior defense.
13. Miami Heat: G Tyler Herro
Tyler Herro didn't have a standout freshman year on the collegiate level, but he can take advantage of space as a shooter. The Kentucky product gained steam during the pre-draft process, and the Miami Heat bought into his upside.
Off the ball, Herro flashes some quickness with the ability to cut toward the basket and finish. He'll pull up with an accurate floater when facing resistance.
14. Boston Celtics (via Sacramento): G Romeo Langford
Romeo Langford dealt with a thumb injury, so his 27 percent shooting from three-point territory seems a bit misleading on the surface. Assuming he's over the hand ailment, the Boston Celtics picked up a natural scorer who needs to show a little more decisiveness with the ball.
Langford will attack the basket when he sees an open lane and adds more points at the free-throw line. He averaged 6.1 attempts at the charity stripe and converted 72 percent at Indiana.
15. Detroit Pistons: F Sekou Doumbouya
Sekou Doumbouya may not contribute on a large scale right away, but he's showed flashes of athleticism and ability to stretch the floor from the corners.
At 6'9", 230 pounds, Doumbouya will pose a major threat if he's able to pull up and knock down jumpers consistently. The Detroit Pistons have depth on the wing, which will allow the prospect from France ample time to develop into a consistent contributor.
16. Orlando Magic: F Chuma Okeke
Chuma Okeke suffered a torn ACL in the Midwest Regional Final of the men's NCAA Tournament, but he suited up as arguably the best player on Auburn's roster before the injury. The former Tiger averaged 12 points, 6.8 rebounds, 1.8 steals and 1.2 blocks last year.
When healthy, Okeke looks like a two-way player with the potential to improve his shooting range. He's worth the wait while on the mend.
17. New Orleans Pelicans (via Brooklyn): G Nickeil Alexander-Walker
Nickeil Alexander-Walker possesses tremendous upside—his scoring prowess could help him elevate above fellow 2019 draftees. As a sophomore at Virginia Tech, he displayed more court vision, averaging four assists per game.
Alexander-Walker could claim the sixth man spot off the bench and provide instant offense with a knack for creating opportunities for his teammates. When he plays with Ball, the former Hokie should see good looks from all over the floor.
18. Indiana Pacers: C Goga Bitadze
Goga Bitadze fits into the modern big man category; he's not a stiff on the offensive end. The Indiana Pacers can use him at the 4 or 5 to complement Myles Turner in the frontcourt.
Bitadze can roll to the basket or pull up for a smooth jump shot in pick-and-roll situations. In recent action, he's established an accurate stroke from a distance. Defensively, the coaching staff must focus on his footwork, but the offense should come naturally for him.
19. San Antonio Spurs: F Luka Samanic
At 6'10, 227 pounds, Luka Samanic will catch your eye because he's a smooth athlete on the floor. He's also been a solid inside-outside scorer. Similar to Bitazdze, the Croat flourishes in pick-and-roll situations.
More times than not, Samanic makes the right play, whether it's a sharp pass or an uncontested shot. He may be a liability on the defensive end, though.
20. Philadelphia 76ers (via Los Angeles Clippers): F Matisse Thybulle
At some point in his career, Matisse Thybulle will put his name in the Defensive Player of the Year conversation. In 2018, he averaged 3.5 steals and 2.3 blocks as a constant irritant for ball-handlers.
Thybulle's scoring efficiency fluctuates, but he's going to earn early minutes because of his hustle and energy. If the Washington product refines his deep shooting, the Philadelphia 76ers will have a high-quality three-and-D asset on the wing.
21. Memphis Grizzlies (via Oklahoma City Thunder): F Brandon Clarke
Brandon Clarke isn't going to stretch a defense, but he rarely misses when he reaches his spots in the paint. Through two terms at San Jose State and one at Gonzaga, the physical forward converted on 64 percent of his field-goal attempts.
Clarke will earn his keep on the defensive end. He'll challenge the opposition, re-route scorers and block shots with consistency. Between him and Jaren Jackson Jr., the Grizzlies won't allow many easy buckets.
22. Boston Celtics: F Grant Williams
Grant Williams brings an old-school style to the court. He's not a flashy scorer but plays within his offensive skill set inside the arc. The Tennessee product shot 52 percent from the floor through three terms.
Williams competes on every possession; he blocked 160 shots during his collegiate career. At 6'6", 240 pounds, the hard-nosed forward should be able to handle defensive assignments against 2s and 3s.
23. Oklahoma City (via Memphis): F Darius Bazley
Darius Bazley will need time to expand his game and grow physically. He's 6'8", 208 pounds and decided to skip the collegiate experience to prepare for the pros. Coming out of Princeton High School in Ohio, he flashed a nose for the ball as a solid rebounder and athletic threat pushing toward the basket off the dribble.
Bazley will likely see time in the G League before making an appearance for the Oklahoma City Thunder.
24. Phoenix Suns (via Philadelphia): Ty Jerome
The Suns added a combo guard who's a sharpshooter and a shrewd distributor in Ty Jerome. Last season, he averaged 5.5 assists and 2.1 triples, improving in both areas over the years.
Jerome will come off the bench as a potential sixth man capable of running an offensive without a pass-first guard on the floor.
25. Portland Trail Blazers: F Nassir Little
Here's the potential steal of the draft. Many analysts thought Nassir Little would hear his name called within the lottery picks, but he fell to the Portland Trail Blazers at No. 25.
Little only averaged 18.2 minutes per game on the collegiate level, but he found his way toward the end of last season. The North Carolina product must continue to extend his shooting range. The Blazers can plug him into the second unit and watch his growth.
Right out of college, Little can defend 2s, 3s and small 4s with active hands. If he finds his stroke, expect him to see major strides.
26. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Houston): F Dylan Windler
Although he's a small-school prospect out of Belmont, Dylan Windler refined his game over four years and looks like a complete player. He's a decent perimeter defender and versatile scorer.
As a senior, he averaged a team-leading 21.3 points per game with three triples while converting on 54 percent of his shot attempts. If he carries over that production, the Cavaliers have a possible surprise starter at small forward.
27. Los Angeles Clippers (via Brooklyn): F Mfiondu Kabengele
The Los Angeles Clippers land a rising prospect out of Florida State. Mfiondu Kabengele will bolster the club's frontcourt with a propensity to swat shots close to the basket. He needs work on his rebounding skill. Encouragingly, the former Seminole has shown the ability to shoot over defenders outside the painted area.
28. Golden State Warriors: G Jordan Poole
The Golden State Warriors may not have Kevin Durant or Klay Thompson next season, even if they re-sign, because of respective Achilles and ACL injuries. Jordan Poole could compensate for the club's shooting needs. He registered 115 triples in two terms at Michigan as a consistent threat to catch and release.
29. San Antonio Spurs (via Toronto): F Keldon Johnson
The San Antonio Spurs select a high-value pick at No. 29. Keldon Johnson can defend multiple positions, but he must tone down his aggressive play to avoid foul trouble in certain situations. Naturally, the Kentucky product will drive to the hoop, but the former Wildcat can pick up a functional jump shot on the pro level.
30. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Milwaukee): G Kevin Porter Jr.
With the final pick in the first round, the Cavaliers took a decent collegiate scorer with upside. Kevin Porter Jr. converted on 47 percent of his shots at USC. He's not a late first-round steal, but the former Trojan can provide a spark off the bench.
31. Brooklyn Nets (via Philadelphia): C Nicolas Claxton
32. Miami Heat (via Phoenix): F KZ Okpala
33. Boston Celtics (via Cleveland): G Carsen Edwards
34. Atlanta Hawks (via Los Angeles Lakers): C Bruno Fernando
35. New Orleans Pelicans (via Atlanta): F Marcos Louzada Silva
36. Charlotte Hornets (via Washington): F Cody Martin
37. Detroit Pistons (via Dallas): F Deividas Sirvydis
38. Chicago Bulls (via Memphis): C Daniel Gafford
39. Golden State Warriors (via Pelicans): F Alen Smailagic
40. Sacramento Kings (via Minnesota): G Justin James
41. Golden State Warriors (via Los Angeles Lakers): F Eric Paschall
42. Washington Wizards (via Sacramento): F Admiral Schofield
43. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Miami): G Jaylen Nowell
44. Denver Nuggets (via Charlotte): C Bol Bol
45. Dallas Mavericks (via Detroit): F Isaiah Roby
46. Los Angeles Lakers (via Brooklyn): G Talen Horton-Tucker
47. New York Knicks (via Orlando): F Ignas Brazdeikis
48. Los Angeles Clippers: F Terance Mann
49. San Antonio Spurs: G Quinndary Weatherspoon
50. Utah Jazz (via Indiana Pacers): F Jarrell Brantley
51. Boston Celtics: G Tremont Waters
52. Charlotte Hornets (via Oklahoma City): F Jalen McDaniels
53. Utah Jazz: G Justin Wright-Foreman
54. Philadelphia 76ers: F Marial Shayok
55. Sacramento Kings (via Houston): G Kyle Guy
56. Brooklyn Nets (via Portland): G Jaylen Hands
57. Detroit Pistons (via Denver): G Jordan Bone
58. Golden State Warriors: G Miye Oni
59. Toronto Raptors: C Dewan Hernandez
60. Sacramento Kings (via Milwaukee): G Vanja Marinkovic