NBA Draft Grades 2019: Scores for Overall Results, Trades and Team Decisions

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistJune 23, 2019

NEW ORLEANS, LA - JUNE 21: Zion Williamson #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans poses for a portrait on June 21, 2019 at the Ochsner Sports Performance Center in New Orleans, Louisiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images
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The 2019 NBA draft allowed a handful of teams to set themselves up nicely for the long-term future.

The Atlanta Hawks, Memphis Grizzlies and New Orleans Saints were some of the top beneficiaries of the draft-day action, whether it be through draft picks or trades.

While most of the focus Thursday was on teams with bright futures, a few title contenders made significant improvements with their draft-day decisions.

Not every team in the NBA had an impressive draft night, but there is still plenty of time for us to be wrong about our critiques if players develop better than expected.


2019 NBA Draft Results



Atlanta: A

Boston: A- 

Brooklyn: B- 

Charlotte: C  

Chicago: B- 


Dallas: C+ 

Denver: B+ 

Detroit: B- 

Golden State: 

Houston: N/A 


Los Angeles Clippers: B- 

Los Angeles Lakers: 


Miami: B+ 

Milwaukee: N/A 

Minnesota: B- 

New Orleans: 

New York: 

Oklahoma City: B- 

Orlando: C- 


Phoenix: C- 

Portland: A-  

Sacramento: C

San Antonio: B+ 

Toronto: C+ 

Utah: C+

Washington: B- 



New Orleans: 

The Pelicans were set to be in the offseason spotlight the second the Anthony Davis rumors started to bubble around the trade deadline.

Although it had to be tough to put together a deal to send Davis to the Los Angeles Lakers, the Pelicans got the best return they could to set themselves up for future success.

Part of that came with some luck in the draft lottery, as New Orleans was able to bring in another generational talent in Zion Williamson with the No. 1 overall pick.

The supporting cast around Williamson will be strong as well, with Jaxson Hayes, Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Marcos Louzada Silva all selected by the Pelicans on Thursday.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JUNE 20: Jaxson Hayes reacts after being drafted with the eighth overall pick by the Atlanta Hawks during the 2019 NBA Draft at the Barclays Center on June 20, 2019 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressl
Sarah Stier/Getty Images

Hayes and Alexander-Walker were available to the Pelicans because of the trade they made with Atlanta to get out of the No. 4 pick acquired in the Davis trade.

The Los Angeles Lakers technically made the No. 4 pick because the trades have not been finalized, but once the paperwork is done, Hayes at No. 8 and Alexander-Walker at No. 17 will officially be Pelicans.

Williamson and Hayes will bring their unique skill sets to the frontcourt in New Orleans' attempt to replace Davis, while Alexander-Walker joins a group of talented backcourt scorers that features Jrue Holiday, Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart and Brandon Ingram.

With Williamson, Hayes, Alexander-Walker, Ball, Hart and Ingram, the Pelicans have a young core that can instantly challenge for a playoff spot and contend for one of the top spots in the Western Conference in the long term.


Portland: A- 

The Portland Trail Blazers got a bit lucky by staying at the No. 25 pick and not making a trade to go up or down the draft order.

Portland benefited from the fall of North Carolina's Nassir Little and ended up taking him with its only pick of the night.

Julio Cortez/Associated Press

That selection could turn into a steal for the Blazers, who made an unexpected upgrade with a projected lottery pick falling to them.

As ESPN's Mike Schmitz pointed out, it is not easy to find a player with Little's physical build and high character.

Little might not be a starter right away in Portland, but he will push for minutes alongside Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum fast because of the drive he will possess to prove some people wrong.

From Portland's perspective, it upgraded its roster at a cheap cost through the draft to help it contend again in the Western Conference.


Phoenix: C- 

The Phoenix Suns were in a position to improve their roster with the No. 6 pick, which could have helped them to start moving up the Western Conference standings.

The Suns made the No. 6 pick, but it will belong to the Minnesota Timberwolves once a trade gets finalized that brought back the No. 11 pick and Dario Saric.

The pick at No. 11 was befuddling, to say the least, as North Carolina's Cameron Johnson was selected.

Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

Johnson enters the NBA at 23, which as many have pointed out, is one year older than Phoenix's top star, Devin Booker.

The Suns could have added to their collection of high first-round picks with another young player, like Sekou Doumbouya or Romeo Langford, but instead they went in the opposite direction.

Johnson could turn into a solid contributor, but he was seen as a reach at that juncture of the draft.

Acquiring Saric from Minnesota might be the more important part of Phoenix's first-round trade because it adds a veteran presence to the roster—one who recently played for a contender in the Philadelphia 76ers.

If the Suns can maximize Saric's talent and experience, they could receive a much-needed boost in the standings, with a young core of Booker, Josh Jackson and Deandre Ayton looking to take the next step.


Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.