Re-Drafting 2019 NBA Rookie Class 1 Month into Season
First impressions are out on the 2019-20 class of NBA rookies, and some would affect a team's re-draft selection if given the opportunity to pick again.
Last year's early lottery teams still did an admirable job evaluating talent. But certain players clearly went too low, and teams may have reached on others.
Based on the results through Nov. 18, we conducted a re-draft using last year's final order (including draft-day trades), predicting the rookie each team would now take knowing what they've learned since June 2019.
1. New Orleans Pelicans: Zion Williamson (Duke, PF/C)
Original pick: No. 1
Doctors could rule out Zion Williamson for the next two seasons, and the New Orleans Pelicans would still re-draft him No. 1.
A meniscus injury has delayed his NBA arrival, as well as the team's plan to quickly bounce back from Anthony Davis' trade request. But Williamson won't turn 20 years old until July. And even with Brandon Ingram breaking out, the team's timetable to compete still suggests it's a few years away.
By then, Williamson will be giving New Orleans the frontcourt upgrade it needs with scoring versatility, defensive activity and explosiveness Derrick Favors and Jahlil Okafor can't offer.
2. Memphia Grizzlies: Ja Morant (Murray State, PG)
Original pick: No. 2
The Memphis Grizzlies wouldn't hesitate to re-draft Ja Morant, the class' rookie leader in scoring and assists.
The NBA game hasn't posed any new challenges. Every move and shot that worked at Murray State is working now. He's even shown improvement in some areas, like finishing at the rim (57.4 percent in the restricted area, 54.3 percent at the basket last year).
Defenders are having trouble with his ball-handling and ambidextrous layup package. Though Memphis lacks shooters, Morant is still assisting, tapping into his breakdown penetration, vision and slick passing.
And while he's not a volume three-point shooter, he's making what defenses are giving up (11-of-26). Shooting 47.2 percent from the floor, already with a road game-winner under his belt (at Charlotte on Nov. 13), Morant doesn't seem like he'll require the typical time it takes young point guards to adjust.
At this rate, he could be on pace to reach the 2022 All-Star Game.
3. New York Knicks: RJ Barrett (Duke, SG/SF)
Original pick: No. 3
RJ Barrett has managed to play above all the negativity surrounding the New York Knicks organization.
Head coach David Fizdale is giving the 19-year-old 33.6 minutes per game. Concerns from an up-and-down summer league showing are fading. Given his age and the team's lack of shooters for spacing, Barrett's production outweighs the early inefficiency when it comes to finishing drives and executing around the perimeter.
He's averaging 15.8 points, 5.6 rebounds and 3.6 assists, scoring in different ways off penetration, cuts, transition and spot-up threes while ball-screen playmaking and hitting the glass. Between his approach and ability to play through contact, the eye test doesn't show a rookie.
There are plenty of areas he needs to clean up: shot creation, floaters, pull-ups, free throws. But it's still an encouraging sign that Barrett is consistently making plays and operating the right way, particularly without star supporting talent to take away pressure.
4. Atlanta Hawks: Tyler Herro (Kentucky, SG)
Original pick: No. 13
The Atlanta Hawks were more optimistic about De'Andre Hunter than we were before the draft.
He's been a fine role player. But knowing what the Hawks know now, they'd presumably be more enticed by the idea of pairing Trae Young with Tyler Herro, and not just because Hunter will turn 22 before Herro reaches 20.
June's No. 13 pick is averaging 13.3 points with an impressive 56.1 true shooting percentage. But the eye test has been more convincing than the numbers.
Playing with a greener light than the one he received at Kentucky, Herro has come out firing pull-up jumpers while flashing more unexpected off-the-dribble creativity. He's quickly emerged as a three-level scorer who's also capable of making plays for teammates out of pick-and-roll situations.
Visible confidence and intensity only make it easier to buy Herro maximizing his potential.
5. Cleveland Cavaliers: PJ Washington (Kentucky, PF/C)
Original pick: No. 12
While the Cleveland Cavaliers were willing to bet on Darius Garland developing into a quality starting point guard, drafting him at No. 5—despite only four full games at Vanderbilt—may also have been related to the lack of standout alternative options.
PJ Washington would now look like one in a re-draft.
Averaging 12.5 points on 23-of-47 shooting from three, the 236-pound interchangeable big has made tremendous progress as a shooter. He's still delivering flashes of polished post-up play and short face-up moves inside the arc.
With Garland off to a slower start and his presence potentially delaying Collin Sexton's development as a playmaker (2.2 assists per game), the Cavaliers may want to change course to rebuild their frontcourt. And Kevin Love seems like an ideal mentor for a stretch 4/5 such as Washington.
6. Minnesota Timberwolves: Jarrett Culver (Texas Tech, PG/SG/SF)
Original pick: No. 6
The Minnesota Timberwolves moved up to No. 6 from No. 11 for Jarrett Culver in June. They'd do so again in a re-draft now that they're already seeing results from the 20-year-old rookie.
He went for 20 points during his fifth NBA game, and he's finished in double figures during four of Minnesota's last six matchups.
Coby White may be enticing for Minnesota after his recent three-point hot steak. But the long-term scouting lens still favors a 6'6" wing who offers more scoring versatility and defensive upside—and who's also starting to shoot better (14 threes in November).
The Wolves have been able to use Culver all over the floor, as he's logged 43 percent of his possessions at 2-guard, 31 percent at point guard and 26 percent at small forward.
7. Chicago Bulls: Coby White (North Carolina, PG/SG)
Original pick: No. 7
It may take a few years for Coby White to tie everything together. But after the Chicago Bulls took him at No. 7 in June, they'd probably feel equally confident re-drafting him today.
His streak shot-making has come to life, most recently when he combined to make 13 threes against the New York Knicks and Milwaukee Bucks in consecutive games. White's perimeter skills—creating jumpers with footwork and converting them—fuel potent scoring ability.
A full season of lead-guard reps could help unlock more consistency from White, who also possesses untapped playmaking potential that he hasn't had a great chance to showcase in a rotation with Tomas Satoransky, Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn.
8. New Orleans Pelicans: Brandon Clarke (Gonzaga, SF/PF/C)
Original pick: No. 21
The qualified rookie leader in field-goal percentage (64.6 percent), rebounding (6.2 per game), blocks (1.2 per game) and player efficiency rating (22.3), Brandon Clarke makes a big jump up the re-draft board.
His fall to No. 21 overall was one of the more surprising developments in June. Clarke was No. 11 on our board and probably should have been in the top 10 based on early NBA results.
His athleticism, motor and nose for the ball have continued translating to easy baskets and defensive plays. But he's shown even more as a scorer, averaging 20.3 points per 36 minutes, flashing budding jump-shooting ability (8-of-16 on threes) and showing touch on one-handed push shots around the key.
Viewed as a big entering the draft, Clarke seems to be slowly transforming into a forward who can also start playing minutes near the wing.
9. Washington Wizards: Rui Hachimura (Gonzaga, PF)
Original pick: No. 9
The Washington Wizards won't try to fix what's not broken, as Rui Hachimura is averaging 13.1 points on 50.4 percent shooting for the NBA's No. 2 offense.
His three-ball isn't falling yet, but he's been highly efficient scoring in the first and second levels by shooting 63.0 percent in the restricted area and 48.6 percent in the mid-range. Effective inside using his tools and athleticism, Hachimura has looked comfortable making contested jump shots around the elbows and high post.
Continuing to expand his range could open the door for the No. 9 pick to become a solid second option behind Bradley Beal.
10. Atlanta Hawks: De'Andre Hunter (Virginia, SF/PF)
Original pick: No. 4
The Atlanta Hawks should be able to re-draft Hunter, this time with their second lottery pick.
A month in, they'd be willing to overlook his offensive struggles. The Hawks would still value his defensive versatility and lockdown potential on the wing, and their hope would be for Hunter to gradually build his three-point shot, which is falling 1.3 times per game but only at a 32.7 percent clip.
He's delivered some encouraging flashes of drives and shot-making, as well.
Other enticing options are available. But given how high Atlanta was on Hunter before June's draft, it probably wouldn't completely reverse course this early.
11. Phoenix Suns: Darius Garland (Vanderbilt, PG)
Original pick: No. 5
Unsurprisingly, Darius Garland is taking time to adjust after he played just four full college games at Vanderbilt, missed summer league and joined a Cleveland Cavaliers lineup that already has a ball-dominant guard in Collin Sexton.
The Phoenix Suns could use Garland the way the Chicago Bulls use Coby White: as a scoring spark off the bench.
In spite of his low percentages in the early going, Garland's self-creation and shooting remain ahead of his playmaking and decision-making. He's crafty off the dribble with advanced ball-handling maneuvers, a pull-up and a floater. And once the game slows down for him, he should be able to improve his assist and turnover numbers.
Even if he struggles to develop into a quality starting point guard in the NBA, Garland has a high floor due to his advanced scoring and shot-making abilities.
12. Charlotte Hornets: Jaxson Hayes (Texas, C)
Original pick: No. 8
Considered a project out of Texas, Jaxson Hayes played his first 30-minute game of the season on Sunday and finished with 10 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks against the Golden State Warriors.
For the Charlotte Hornets, he'd be a best-prospect-available option here with PJ Washington long gone. An exciting athlete, Hayes will make his money by running the floor, catching lobs, putting back misses and disrupting defensively.
He fits the Mitchell Robinson mold, capable of impacting games with his length, mobility, quickness and bounce while being limited offensively and often unable to avoid the referees' whistle.
13. Miami Heat: Nickeil Alexander-Walker (Virginia Tech, PG/SG)
Original pick: No. 17
Nickeil Alexander-Walker is starting to get comfortable with a combined 46 points and seven assists over his last two games.
The summer league star hit a wall just as the regular season opened, but the long-term lens still buys the positives flashes on display in July and during the preseason. A classic combo guard, Alexander-Walker has demonstrated promising scoring versatility—creating on the ball and shooting off it— and passing skills in ball-screen situations.
His efficiency should ultimately rise as he adds more bulk for taking contact.
14. Boston Celtics: Eric Paschall (Villanova, PF/C)
Original pick: No. 41
Eric Paschall would cause compelling debate among teams in a re-draft given his initial draft spot (No. 41), early production and green light in Golden State while filling in for injured Warriors stars.
He's third among rookies in scoring, averaging 16.7 points on an efficient 51.9 percent shooting. He's already hit the 30-point mark twice and is 14-of-25 out of isolation, per Synergy Sports, while making 44.8 percent of his half-court jumpers, numbers that don't match his Villanova results (17-of-40 and 33.2 percent).
Easily one of the class' top five performers so far, Paschall's age (23) still works against his re-draft case. But it's evident teams initially put too much stock into his age and concerns about questionable fit.
He's been successful with the Warriors, using his power around the basket and one-on-one shooting touch in space. Even if this is Paschall's ceiling, the certainty tied to his production and tools is appealing enough to warrant lottery consideration in a re-draft.
15. Detroit Pistons: Romeo Langford (Indiana, SG, No. 14 in 2019)
Langford hasn't surfaced in Boston's rotation yet, but injuries have held him back, and he recently went for 27 points during his G League debut. The 20-year-old rookie originally went one pick before Detroit was on the clock. He's now available to the Pistons, who'll roll the dice on his mix of 6'4", 216-pound size and three-level scoring potential.
16. Orlando Magic: Chuma Okeke (Auburn, SF/PF, No. 16 in 2019)
The Magic were aware of Okeke's ACL tear last June, so there is no reason to think they'd suddenly lose interest. While his fit in Orlando may be questionable due to the log jam in the frontcourt, he was the No. 13 prospect on our original board, and the Magic should remain interested in his two-way versatility as a combo forward who shoots threes and defends multiple spots.
17. New Orleans Pelicans: Goga Bitadze (Georgia, C, No. 18 in 2019)
Bitadze's upside in Indiana may be capped by Myles Turner. He'd have more room to grow long-term in New Orleans alongside Zion Williamson. Though he hasn't yet played enough to qualify for the leaderboard (17.2 minutes per game in nine appearances), the 6'11" center would lead all rookies in shot-blocking (1.8 per game). But it's the flashes of shooting touch, passing and finishing that hint at starter potential down the road.
18. Indiana Pacers: Matisse Thybulle (Washington, SG/SF, No. 20 in 2019)
Thybulle has quickly begun to validate the stellar defensive reputation he built at Washington. Per 36 minutes, he's averaging 3.4 steals and 2.4 blocks, demonstrating unteachable reaction time and anticipation. He'll have a long NBA career if he can start making spot-up and corner threes at a respectable rate. So far, he's just 7-of-24.
19. San Antonio Spurs: Luka Samanic (Croatia, PF, No. 19 in 2019)
The Spurs originally drafted the 19-year-old Samanic, presumably knowing they'd have to be patient. He was never going to have a shot at cracking the rotation or making a rookie impact. San Antonio will stick with its original pick, who's averaging 14.2 points and 8.2 rebounds in the G League.
20. Philadelphia 76ers: Carsen Edwards (Purdue, PG/SG, No. 33 in 2019)
The Sixers gave up an opportunity to draft Edwards in June, but they'll see him as an upgrade over Raul Neto and Trey Burke a second time around. The original No. 33 pick hasn't seen many minutes in Boston, but his preseason performance was convincing enough: 15.3 points per game on 14-of-31 shooting from three. He'll carve out an NBA role for his streak scoring and shot-making as a bench spark.
21. Memphis Grizzlies: Cameron Johnson (North Carolina, SF, No. 11 in 2019)
Looking for shooters to surround Ja Morant, the Grizzlies could target Johnson, a 45.7 percent three-point marksman at North Carolina already making 39.5 percent of his NBA threes in Phoenix. Without any creativity to his game and already 23 years old, he'll slip from No. 11 overall to No. 21, but he'll carve out a specialty role with his ability to hit quick-release jumpers off spots-ups and movement.
22. Boston Celtics: Grant Williams (Tennessee, PF, No. 22 in 2019)
Williams' rookie numbers haven't been flashy, and his stats may never jump off the box score. But the Celtics should already see a defensive ace due to his physical tools, mobility and high-IQ reads. His defense and intangibles should eventually outweigh a lack of scoring upside, though he still has untapped post-up and shooting potential.
23. Oklahoma City Thunder: Darius Bazley (USA, SF/PF, No. 23 in 2019)
Oklahoma City liked Bazley even before it knew the team would have to rebuild. Now that Russell Westbrook and Paul George are gone, the Thunder should feel even more comfortable re-drafting the 19-year-old who's already given them decent rookie minutes. Bazley, a 6'8" combo forward, has made 11 of his first 30 threes and should have plenty of room to grow as a creator and scorer.
24. Phoenix Suns: Kevin Porter Jr. (USC, SG, No. 30 in 2019)
In his first NBA start on Monday, Porter finished with 18 points against the New York Knicks, flashing the athleticism and scoring ability that earned him the No. 14 spot on our predraft board. He'll need time to improve his shot selection, decision-making and shooting, but he's too talented and skilled to slip into the second round.
25. Portland Trail Blazers: Nicolas Claxton (Georgia, PF/C, No. 31 in 2019)
Claxton has only gotten into six games, but his defensive potential continues to pop the way it did at Georgia. At 6'11", he's in the conversation for the class' most switchable rookie. His scoring skills and body need work, but enough flashes of athleticism at the rim, touch and face-up play create optimism.
26. Cleveland Cavaliers: Sekou Doumbouya (France, SF/PF, No. 15 in 2019)
The youngest eligible prospect in June's draft, Doumbouya will require patience. The scouting lens is drawn to his physical tools, quickness, shooting potential, defensive versatility and flashes of scoring creation. He just sunk the Westchester Knicks in the G League with 28 points and clutch fourth-quarter shots.
27. Los Angeles Clippers: Cam Reddish (Duke, SF, No. 10 in 2019)
The Atlanta Hawks initially overlooked Reddish's inefficient Duke season for long-term potential and fit. But after he shot 27.0 percent from the field through the first month, he'll be too tough to trust with a lottery pick. The Clippers will catch his fall at No. 27, where it's easier to gamble on his shooting and defense coming around.
28. Golden State Warriors: Terence Davis (Ole Miss, SG, Undrafted in 2019)
While it's still a mystery as to how Davis went undrafted—he was No. 38 on our board—teams wouldn't allow it to happen again. He's shooting 46.4 percent from three, bringing scoring firepower and energy off the Raptors' bench. His frenetic style points to potential inconsistency, but he'll carve out a career by sparking second units.
29. San Antonio Spurs: Mfiondu Kabengele (Florida State, C, No. 27 in 2019)
Limited minutes in L.A. lead to Kabengele dropping to No. 29 in a re-draft, a fall that isn't a reflection of his play or potential. The 250-pounder separates himself from other bigs with powerful physical tools and three-point range that he was able to show against the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday.
30. Cleveland Cavaliers: Didi Louzada (Brazil, SG, No. 35 in 2019)
Playing for the Sydney Kings instead of the New Orleans Pelicans, Louzada has quietly put up scoring numbers in the Australian NBL (12.3 points per game) similar to projected 2020 lottery picks LaMelo Ball (14.7 points) and RJ Hampton (9.2 points). After shooting 44.4 percent from three in summer league, he continues to look more like a first-round talent who slipped through the cracks coming from Brazil.