Zion Williamson and Ja Morant may well turn out to be the two best players from the 2019 NBA draft for the New Orleans Pelicans and Memphis Grizzlies, respectively, and the value both teams got with their other selections made them stand out even more.
Of the Eastern Conference teams, the Cleveland Cavaliers brought in a handful of quality young players in the first round, while the Atlanta Hawks added to their already promising young core.
2019 NBA Draft Results
Golden State: C
Los Angeles Clippers: B-
Los Angeles Lakers: C
New Orleans: A
New York: B
Oklahoma City: B-
San Antonio: B+
The Pelicans have to be thrilled with how the last week has gone.
Although losing Anthony Davis was always going to be a blow, New Orleans came away with an impressive haul of Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart and three first-round picks.
Zion Williamson has been the clear-cut No. 1 pick since the end of the men's college basketball season, and he should make an immediate impact. By trading out of the No. 4 pick and acquiring Nos. 8 and 17 from Atlanta, the Pelicans picked up two key pieces in Jaxson Hayes and Nickeil Alexander-Walker.
Hayes is not Davis, but he is a solid rim protector and rim-runner—think DeAndre Jordan. Alexander-Walker, meanwhile, can shoot and will have time to develop as a 2-guard off the bench.
If you add them to Ball, Ingram and Hart (plus Jrue Holiday), a playoff spot in the Western Conference seems attainable next season.
Memphis also hit on both first-round picks.
Ja Morant was as much of a lock at No. 2 as Williamson was with the top pick, and he should put up big numbers as a rookie, especially after Memphis dealt Mike Conley to the Utah Jazz. The Jazz sent the No. 23 pick to Memphis (and a future first-rounder), and after trading up two spots, the Grizzlies took Brandon Clarke.
Clarke—who B/R's Jonathan Wasserman pegged as the No. 11 prospect—turned himself into one of the best two-way players in college basketball at Gonzaga as a junior, and he should be a nice complement to Jaren Jackson Jr. in the frontcourt.
Morant is the point guard of the present and future, while Jackson and Clarke could eventually form one of the best big-man duos in the league.
New Cleveland head coach John Beilein got himself three solid backcourt players to build around.
By standing pat at No. 5, the Cavaliers benefited from Atlanta's move up to No. 4 to pick De'Andre Hunter, with Darius Garland landing in their lap. There will be some concerns as to how Garland and Collin Sexton will play together, but the Cavs got the best value at No. 5.
With the No. 26 pick, they took an experienced shooter in Dylan Windler, who emerged as one of the nation's elite guards during his final season at Belmont.
Cleveland took a measured risk by trading back into the first round to take Kevin Porter Jr. at No. 30. He had some off-court concerns from an indefinite suspension at USC, but his talent is undeniable—Wasserman had him ranked 14th.
Beilein still has to fill out his roster, especially in the frontcourt, but this is a good starting point.
Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.