Grading the 2019 NBA Draft
June 22, 2019
by Alan Lu
It was a wild, eventful night yesterday as the 2019 NBA Draft took place. Some things went down as expected, and then there were surprises, though it didn’t always necessarily happen in a good way. Zion Williamson, Ja Morant, R.J. Barrett, and De’Andre Hunter were the first four picks of the draft after Woj had leaked the picks, and that went as expected.
However, Bol Bol slid all the way to 44, as questions about his foot injury and new ones inquiring about his maturity have surfaced, as he had a surprising free fall all the way to the mid second round. His teammates weren’t as lucky to have a team stop the free fall, and as of today, no team has signed or taken a chance on Louis King yet, even though he is a young, athletic 6-8 wing player that shoots the ball well and has the game to fit today’s modern NBA, and helped lead his team to a Sweet 16 appearance. It was a bad night for Oregon, and it was mostly a bad night for injured players, as Jontay Porter and Charles Matthews also went undrafted.
In the aftermath, there were some clear winners and losers out of the teams that made picks and moves in the 2019 draft. So many moves were made, and it was hard to keep track of it all. Among the winners, the Memphis Grizzlies may have had the best night of them all.
- De’Andre Hunter, F, Virginia
This was a solid acquisition by the Atlanta Hawks to get Hunter at 4. He’s a solid, versatile player that is likely the best defensive player in this draft. He does just about everything well, and he projects to excel in a complementary role in the NBA. His ceiling might not be as high as the other three drafted above him, but Hunter is a very good player who will complement Trae Young well.
- Cam Reddish, G-F, Duke
Cam Reddish slid a few spots in this draft, but the Hawks made a solid pick by swinging for the fences to select him here. Reddish is an athletic, versatile swingman that can do a little bit of everything, and in his good moments, he has looked like one of the best players in this draft at times. He didn’t quite have the season he wanted as he struggled to play well consistently, but he is a player that has a lot of upside, and he could end up being a far better player in the NBA than he was in college.
- Bruno Fernando, C, Maryland
He is an athletic, energetic big man that projects to be a solid rim protector in the NBA. He is a strong finisher that can get numerous scores around the basket, and he is a good shot blocker that can swat shots to protect the paint. He will need to expand upon his skill set on offense, but he is a player that could contribute right away to a team in the NBA.
Atlanta Hawks’ Draft Night Grade: A (2nd Overall)
- Romeo Langford, G-F, Indiana
Romeo Langford is a very athletic swingman that can score the basketball, and he is quite skilled at getting buckets off of isolation plays. He can create shots at will, and he is very adept at drawing fouls and getting to the free throw line. He will need to improve his jump shot, but he is a talented player that has a lot of upside, and he could be a great pick for them at this spot. On the downside, the fit is questionable, as he may be blocked by Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, so it’s uncertain if he will get playing time right away.
- Grant Williams, F, Tennessee
The Celtics made this pick presumably as insurance in case if Marcus Morris leaves them for free agency. Grant Williams is a tough, physical combo forward that had a very good junior season, as he is a player that can score in a variety of ways and he also passes the ball well. However, he will need to improve his jump shot, and he lacks ideal physical tools, which could hurt him defensively. There may have been more talented and higher upside players on the board, but the Celtics decided to play it safe by taking Williams, and he is a forward that may have the talent and the basketball IQ to make the adjustments to be a solid role player in the NBA.
- Carsen Edwards, G, Purdue
Carsen Edwards is an athletic, shifty playmaker that can really shoot and score the basketball. He projects to be a microwave type of scorer in the NBA, and with Kyrie likely signing elsewhere, and with Rozier possibly wanting out, minutes could be had for Carsen Edwards when he steps on the court in Boston. This could turn out to be a really good pick for Boston.
- Tremont Waters, G, LSU
This was a solid pick made by Boston. Initially it was thought that because Boston had some many draft picks, that they might have used this to make a draft and stash selection because not all of the players they draft may end up in their rotation next year. But the Celtics actually used this to take a quality point guard in Tremont Waters, an agile, diminutive playmaker that can shoot, pass, and defend on the floor. He is one of the best defensive players at his position in this draft, and he has a good feel for the game. As it is uncertain if Kyrie will come back and there are rumors that Rozier may want out, playing time may be up for grabs, as Tremont Waters has the skills to be a solid role player in this league.
Boston Celtics’ Draft Night Grade: B (12th Overall)
- Nicolas Claxton, F-C, Georgia
Nicolas Claxton is an athletic, skilled big man that had a terrific combine showing that helped him boost his draft stock. He is a very good shot blocker that will protect the paint, and he also has some floor spacing capabilities. However, he has struggled to make shots consistently, and he is just now producing as he was not really on people’s radar last year. Still, he is a talented player that has the skills to end up being one of the steals in this year’s draft.
- Jaylen Hands, G, UCLA
The Nets traded for this pick as part of a deal that sent Kabengele to the Clippers, and Brooklyn used this selection to take Jaylen Hands. Hands is an athletic, skilled point guard that can shoot and pass the basketball, but he may not be especially dynamic as he is not an explosive athlete, and he will need to improve his defense. Hands is a player that could project into a backup point guard role in the NBA.
Brooklyn Nets’ Draft Night Grade: C+ (t-19th Overall)
- P.J. Washington, F, Kentucky
The Charlotte Hornets made a solid pick by taking P.J. Washington here. He is a multi-skilled combo forward that defends multiple positions, has really worked on to expand his shooting range, and he is a jack-of-all-trades type of player that has been highly productive in one of the top programs in the country.
- Cody Martin, G-F, Nevada
This pick may have been a reach, considering that was uncertain if Martin would get drafted, but Cody Martin is a smart, skilled basketball player that can play multiple positions. He can ably run the point, as he is a solid facilitator that passes and handles the ball well, and he also is a good position defender. He will need to be a more consistent shooter in games and he can be too passive on offense at times, and his advanced age as a draft prospect may suggest that he might not have much upside as a player for the next level. Still, his versatility, solid basketball IQ, and ability to play multiple positions could allow him to thrive as a role player in the NBA.
- Jalen McDaniels, F, San Diego State
Late in the season, word had spread that he was embroiled in a lawsuit that alleged him of being involved in a major off-court incident years before he had enrolled at San Diego State. That aside, if he can put that behind him, this may actually be a good pick for the Hornets. McDaniels is a tall, very athletic combo forward that has great physical tools and plays with a lot of energy, as he could project to be a defensive specialist in the NBA. He will need to improve his jump shot and strength, but he has the talent to end up being like a Larry Nance Jr. type of player in this league.
Charlotte Hornets’ Draft Night Grade: B- (14th Overall)
- Coby White, G, North Carolina
This was a really solid pick made by the Chicago Bulls. They add a tall, speedy ball handler that can play either backcourt position, and Coby White is a gifted offensive player that can shoot and score the basketball. They can pair him up with Zach LaVine in the backcourt, and Kris Dunn can come off the bench for them as a defensive specialist for them. The Bulls are building a nice core of players as they also have Porter, Markkanen, and Wendell Carter Jr., and Coby White could fit in very well with their team.
- Daniel Gafford, C, Arkansas
Daniel Gafford is an athletic, defensive minded big man that has the skills to be a rim protector in the NBA. Even though he had a lot more draft stock last season, he actually seems to be more ready for the league this time around. His motor seems to be higher, and he has shown more scoring ability, low post scoring skills, and court sense from the year before. He can still be too inconsistent in games, but he can dominate a game when he puts his skills altogether. On the downside, the Chicago Bulls have a lot of big men on their roster, as he will mainly be behind Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr., and there may not be a clear pathway for playing time for him.
Chicago Bulls’ Draft Night Grade: B+ (7th Overall)
- Darius Garland, G, Vanderbilt
On a night where the draft was not kind to injured prospects, there was one who did benefit, and that was Darius Garland. Despite having played 5 games all season long, Garland went fifth overall, and plenty of the anticipation was which team would select or trade up to take him. Garland’s a smart, skilled point guard that shoots the ball well and he is also a good facilitator. On the downside, Garland hasn’t faced many top teams this year, and there is also some duplication between him and Collin Sexton, with neither being tall enough to defend shooting guards, which could be a significant cause for concern.
- Dylan Windler, F, Belmont
The Cavaliers initially were planning to pick Keldon Johnson, then walked back on their pick as they changed their minds to take Dylan Windler. Still, this was a solid pick for the Cavs, as Dylan Windler is a high IQ basketball player that shoots the ball well, and he also can facilitate and score off the dribble. He’s not an exceptional athlete and he may struggle to guard quicker players on defense, but his ability to make plays on offense and feel for the game could enable him to thrive as a role player in the NBA.
- Kevin Porter Jr., G-F, USC
The Cavaliers may have given up an awful lot to be able to select Porter at 30. They traded away 4 second round picks and cash in the process, but Porter is an athletic, skilled swingman that can shoot and score the basketball. He’s been inconsistent in games, his effort on the defensive end has waned at times, and he’s been suspended due to conduct issues. For a shooter that has a knack for making pull-up jumpers, he was a startlingly bad free throw shooter. Porter may be a risky pick, but he also is a high upside sort of player that has the talent to develop into a high-end scorer at the next level.
Cleveland Cavaliers’ Draft Night Grade: C+ (18th Overall)
- Isaiah Roby, F, Nebraska
Isaiah Roby is an athletic, high-motor combo forward that largely projects to be a defensive specialist in the NBA. He is a rangy defender that can get steals and blocks, and he can defend multiple positions, but he will need to significantly improve his jump shot and he will need to be more assertive on offense. If so, this could end up being a very good pick for Dallas.
Dallas Mavericks’ Draft Night Grade: C+ (t-19th Overall)
- Bol Bol, F-C, Oregon
This was probably, in all likelihood, the best pick of the night. Bol Bol had been projected to go somewhere in the lottery for a good portion of this season, and frankly, it seems to be rather absurd that Bol Bol slid this far while Garland went fifth overall despite both having missed most of this season. Mostly, Bol Bol’s foot injury is the source of concern, as it may take a long time for his foot to heal, and most teams don’t seem to have the patience to wait for him to recover.
Still, Bol Bol is a tremendous talent, as he is a very tall, athletic, skilled big man that shoots the ball well, and he is a terrific shot blocker that will swat many shots to help his team protect the paint. In many ways, he is kind of like Mohamed Bamba from last year’s draft, but with a foot injury, and the Denver Nuggets will need to be patient with him to help him recover in order for their team to reap the rewards because if they can, Denver could be getting an All-Star caliber player that everyone in the first round slept on.
Denver Nuggets’ Draft Night Grade: A (3rd Overall)
- Sekou Doumbouya, F, CSP Limoges (France)
Sekou Doumbouya is a young, very athletic combo forward that may have a lot of upside, and he could develop into being a solid player in the long-term. Right now, he will need to improve his jump shot and be a more consistent player, and he may struggle to get playing time right away, as he will be behind Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond, though Doumbouya might also be able to play the small forward position in lineups where Griffin is the primary ball handler.
- Deividas Sirvydis, G-F, Lietuvos Rytas (Lithuania)
This was a selection that may have been a bit of a reach, but Sirvydis is a young, skilled swingman that can shoot and score the basketball. He is an above average athlete that will compete hard on both ends of the floor, and he will tend to be in the right spots defensively. He didn’t play much at the highest levels overseas, and he may need some time to hone his game, but he has the skills to end up being a solid role player in the NBA.
- Jordan Bone, G, Tennessee
For most of the year, draft analysts were watching Tennessee, but it seemed that they were entirely focused on Grant Williams and Admiral Schofield instead of including Bone in that picture. He had not drawn much draft buzz for most of the season, but it was when the NBA invited to the draft combine where his stock started to rise. Bone then tested really well athletically, which paired well with his solid shooting and passing numbers, and his draft stock rose up to the point where the idea of him going in the second round became a realistic possibility.
Jordan Bone is an athletic point guard that plays with a pass-first mentality, and he is an unselfish player that can both get his teammates the basketball and knock down jumpers. He also is a good defender who has solid athleticism, range, and instincts to pester his opponents. He will usually tend to make the safe play, so he might not end up being an especially dynamic player on offense, but Bone has the smarts and skills to end up being a solid role player in the NBA.
Detroit Pistons’ Draft Night Grade: B- (15th Overall)
Golden State Warriors
- Jordan Poole, G, Michigan
Jordan Poole is a skilled combo guard that can really shoot the basketball. He is a sharpshooter that can knock down shots from all over the floor, and he is a good athlete that can score the basketball in a variety of ways. However, he can struggle to get all the way to the basket, and he may a bit undersized to guard taller wing players. This pick might have been a reach considering many were projecting him to go in the second round, late even in this draft, and there were other talented, high-upside prospects that could have been had, but the Warriors do get another shooter to add to their stable.
- Alen Smailagic, F-C, Santa Cruz Warriors (Serbia)
Alen Smailagic is a young, athletic big man that has a solid motor, and he was quite productive in the G-League this past season, so it makes sense that the Warriors would like to retain him for their team. However, they gave up multiple second round picks as they traded up to get him, and draftees selected right from the G-League haven’t fared well in the past. Cousins, Looney, and Jordan Bell will be free agents, but the Warriors need shooters, and when Durant and Klay Thompson went down, Golden State wasn’t nearly as effective on offense or deep, and it may doubtful that Smailagic can solve that issue for them right now. In the meantime, Smailagic will need to improve his jump shot and decision making ability on offense, and he will have to be a more disciplined defender in games.
- Eric Paschall, F, Villanova
Eric Paschall is a tough, physical combo forward that shoots the ball well, and he has the ability to be a stretch big at the next level. Paschall is a sharpshooter that also has good intangibles, as he was a member of the 2018 team that won the NCAA title. On the other hand, he will need to improve his rebounding and be a more focused defender in games, but Paschall has the ability to excel on both ends of the floor in the NBA.
Golden State Warriors’ Draft Night Grade: C (28th Overall)
The Houston Rockets did not have a draft pick this year, so they will not get a grade.
Houston Rockets’ Draft Night Grade: I
- Goga Bitadze, C, Mega Bemax (Republic of Georgia)
Pacers made an interesting pick by selecting Goga Bitadze, but they already have two centers already in Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner. Bitadze is a skilled big man that has been very productive overseas, and he has a game that may remind some of Orlando Magic’s center Nikola Vucevic, but there may not be a clear pathway to playing time for him in Indiana.
Indiana Pacers’ Draft Night Grade: B (13th Overall)
Los Angeles Clippers
- Mfiondu Kabengele, F-C, Florida State
Mfiondu Kabengele is an athletic, skilled big man that flew under the radar for most of the year, but he really made his impact felt in the NCAA Tournament. He is a solid rim protector that will block shots to protect the paint, and he can score the basketball in a variety of ways,. He can score on high-motor plays, and he also has some floor spacing capabilities. He can be a bit inconsistent in games and he can be foul prone, but Kabengele is a talented player that could end up being one of the best players in this draft.
- Terance Mann, G-F, Florida State
The Clippers made a solid, but unspectacular pick by selecting Terance Mann in the second round of this draft. Mann had a very good senior season, he is an athletic, skilled basketball player that has a high basketball IQ, strong playmaking skills, and solid defensive skills. He is a player that can comfortably run the point or play out on the wing, and he has the skills to be the consummate role player for a team in the NBA. He may never be a high volume scorer, and time will tell if he can develop his jump shot, but Mann is a smart, skilled player that could be a solid role player for the Clippers.
Los Angeles Clippers’ Draft Night Grade: B+ (8th Overall)
Los Angeles Lakers
- Talen Horton-Tucker, G-F, Iowa State
In a vacuum, this appears to be a solid pick, as Talen Horton-Tucker is a young, physical swingman that has solid playmaking skills and a good feel for the game, and numerous people have rated him as a first round prospect for most of this year. However, he does not shoot the ball very well, and he will be going to a veteran heavy team led by LeBron and Anthony Davis, and it may be uncertain if he will get much playing time this season. His game already resembles one player that is already on their roster, Lance Stephenson, and if Horton-Tucker improves his jump shot, he could be a very good player for the Lakers.
Los Angeles Lakers’ Draft Night Grade: C+ (t-19th Overall)
- Ja Morant, G, Murray State
The Memphis Grizzlies picked a really good player in Ja Morant, as he is a vastly athletic point guard that has the skills to be a perennial All-Star in this league. He had a terrific season this year, and the Grizzlies made a great pick here.
- Brandon Clarke, F, Gonzaga
The Grizzlies made a very good pick by selecting Brandon Clarke, a player that is an athletic combo forward that was a stat-stuffer for his team at Gonzaga. He projects to be a high-end defender at the next level, and he played really well in his team’s win over Duke. He is a player that can guard multiple positions, but he will need to improve his jump shot and expand his shooting range. Still, he is a glue guy that could help Memphis lead a new era of Grit ‘N Grind for the new generation.
Memphis Grizzlies Draft Night Grade: A (1st Overall)
- Tyler Herro, G, Kentucky
Miami made a solid pick by selecting Tyler Herro here at this spot. He is an agile sharpshooter that may be one of the best shooters in this draft. He is a scorer that can knock down shots, and he is also a capable defender. Floor spacing is his elite skill, and he would likely fit in well with them.
- KZ Okpala, F, Stanford
The Heat made a fairly good value pick by selecting Okpala, a very athletic combo forward that excels at attacking the basket, but they did end up paying a steep price by trading away three second round picks. He is a player that could project into being a versatile defender, but he will need to improve his jump shot and be more focused on the defensive side of the ball.
Miami Heat’s Draft Night Grade: B (10th Overall)
The Milwaukee Bucks traded out of the first round as they did not have a draft pick in this year’s draft, so they will not get a grade.
Milwaukee Bucks’ Draft Night Grade: I
- Jarrett Culver, G, Texas Tech
Minnesota surprisingly traded up to get the sixth selection, and they used it to select Jarrett Culver. I thought this was a solid pick here. Culver is an athletic, versatile player that defends very well, and he has a knack for scoring the basketball. He started off shooting the ball really well, but it tapered off towards the end of the season. If he can knock down jumpers on a more consistent basis, this could be a really good pick for the T-Wolves. Sure, there may be some potential for duplication as they drafted Okogie from the year before, but Culver will add another skilled, versatile wing player that can score and defend, and he can be another solid player that can add to their core.
- Jaylen Nowell, G, Washington
On one hand, the Timberwolves now have a lot of guards on their roster, and it’s unclear if there will be playing time available for Nowell. On the other, Nowell is an athletic, skilled combo guard that can shoot, score, and facilitate the basketball, and his ability to contribute on offense may make him an intriguing prospect. He largely played in a zone defense, so he will have to adjust to playing in a man-to-man scheme, but his ability to score could enable him to get some playing time in Minnesota.
Minnesota Timberwolves’ Draft Night Grade: B+ (6th Overall)
New Orleans Pelicans
- Zion Williamson, F, Duke
The New Orleans Pelicans picked the best player of the draft, and Zion will be a game-changing player that has the talent to be a perennial All-Star in the NBA. He is a fantastic athlete that can play all five positions, he can do everything on the court, and he will be the new franchise player for the Pelicans to build around.
- Jaxson Hayes, C, Texas
The Pelicans traded with the Lakers to get the fourth pick to then trade down to get this pick and a few others. Hayes is a very athletic big man that is a strong finisher around the basket, and he is a terrific scorer off of rolls and hustle plays around the basket. He also is a good shot blocker that can protect the paint. However, he has not rebounded the ball well this season, despite having vast athletic abilities, and he may need to expand upon his skill set offensively. He can be a fairly good starter in the NBA, but there were similar players to him such as Bruno Fernando and Daniel Gafford that could have been had in the 20s or lower, while there are other athletic big men that are capable of stretching the floor as well that could have been had such as Kabengele, Claxton, and Bol Bol.
- Nickeil Alexander Walker, G-F, Virginia Tech
Nickeil Alexander-Walker is a smart, skilled swingman that will project well into a 3 and D type of role in the NBA, and the Pelicans made a solid move to get him at 17. He is a player that will likely fit in well into a complementary role in the NBA.
- Marcos Louzada Silva, G-F, Franca (Brazil)
It was a surprise that Silva was taken this high at 35, and while this pick might have been a bit of a reach, Silva does have the skills to succeed as a role player in the NBA. He is an athletic swingman that projects well into a 3 and D role in the NBA, and he has played well for Franca in the NBB playoffs. Silva can shoot, pass, and defend, and he is a good athlete that can make plays on both ends of the court. He may need another year or two overseas to hone his game, but Silva has the talent to successfully make the transition to this league.
New Orleans Pelicans’ Draft Night Grade: B+ (9th Overall)
New York Knicks
- R.J. Barrett, G-F, Duke
The New York Knicks made a solid draft choice in selecting R.J. Barrett. He is a very athletic swingman that can score and facilitate as he can take over games, but there are some concerns about his ball dominant tendencies and at times inconsistent shooting. But there’s no doubt that he is a tremendous talent, and he also has the ability to make multiple All-Star teams in this league.
- Ignas Brazdeikis, F, Michigan
This was another solid acquisition by the Knicks, as they were able to acquire Brazdeikis. Brazdeikis is a skilled swingman that can shoot and score the basketball, and he is a high IQ basketball player that can pass, handle the ball, and play multiple positions. He is an above average athlete but does not have elite physical tools, so he may struggle to guard quicker players at the next level, but Brazdeikis’ skills, feel for the game, and upside could make this pick one of the best of the second round.
New York Knicks’ Draft Night Grade: A- (5th Overall)
Oklahoma City Thunder
- Darius Bazley, F, N/A (USA – Cincinnati, OH)
The Thunder decided to roll the dice and gamble on a young, talented combo forward that sat out the entire season this year. He has spent his time being an intern at New Balance, but Bazley is a skilled player that can do a little bit of everything. He will need to show that he can succeed against upper echelon players on a consistent basis, and he will need to continue to work on his jump shot, but he is an intriguing prospect that could end up being a 3 and D type of player in this league.
Oklahoma City Thunder’s Draft Night Grade: C (27th Overall)
- Chuma Okeke, F, Auburn
Orlando made a very solid pick by taking Chuma Okeke at 16. He is a modern, athletic combo forward that is also a jack-of-all-trades type of player that can do everything on the court. He is a good shooter, he defends well, but the significant concern is that he injured his knee late in the season. Still, once he is healthy, he will be able to show that he can be a solid player for the Magic.
Orlando Magic’s Draft Night Grade: A- (4th Overall)
- Matisse Thybulle, G-F, Washington
Thybulle is a very athletic guard that was one of college basketball’s best defenders, and he has the talent to develop into a high-end defender at the next level. He has the profile to fit into a glue guy role in Philly, and he also can knock down some threes. However, this pick may also have been a bit of a reach. Thybulle doesn’t take shots in high volume, and his team played in a zone defense, so he may have to adjust his game to fit a man-to-man scheme. He recorded steals and blocks in bulk because he was allowed to be a roamer, but in the NBA, he’ll asked to be a more disciplined, man-to-man defender. If he can be the player people seem to think he can be in this league, he could be like a Thabo Sefolosha type for the 76ers.
- Marial Shayok, G-F, Iowa State
Marial Shayok had three nondescript years at Virginia before transferring to Iowa State, where he made his impact felt in the lone season he played with the Cyclones. Shayok excelled this year, and he is an athletic swingman that can shoot and score the basketball. His draft stock was given a boost when he scored 37 points in one game at the Portsmouth Invitational, and he was invited to the G-League Elite Camp and the NBA Draft Combine this year. On the downside, he can be prone to hoisting up questionable shots, and he can struggle to guard quicker players. Still, Shayok is a player that can put the ball in the hoop, and he could compete or even win a rotation spot next season in Philadelphia.
Philadelphia 76ers’ Draft Night Grade: C+ (26th Overall)
- Cameron Johnson, F, North Carolina
The Phoenix Suns surprised people by trading down after appearing to want a point guard, and then they surprised people again by using this pick to take Cam Johnson. The player they drafted is a tall swingman that can play multiple positions, and he is a very good shooter that possesses above average defensive skills, but he also lacks elite athletic ability and is old for a draft prospect, so he may not have much upside. For 11, he might be a significant reach, but Johnson is a player that projects into a 3 and D role in the NBA.
- Ty Jerome, G, Virginia
This Suns made a solid, but unspectacular pick at 24 by selecting Ty Jerome as their point guard to add to their roster. Jerome is a smart, skilled playmaker that has a high basketball IQ, and he is a good shooter and facilitator that has a knack for making sound basketball plays in games. He’s not an especially great athlete, and he may be one of the least athletic players taken in the first round this year, but his skills and feel for the game will allow him to thrive as a role player in this league.
Phoenix Suns’ Draft Night Grade: C+ (24th Overall)
Portland Trail Blazers
- Nassir Little, G-F, North Carolina
The Blazers decided to make an upside pick by selecting Nassir Little to join their team. Little was a very highly regarded recruit coming into college, and he is an athletic swingman that was known for his ability to score the basketball. However, he struggled to consistently produce in his lone season at North Carolina, as he struggled with his jump shot, shot selection, and with a lack of consistent playing time, but Little showed an ability to score off the dribble as well as solid defensive skills. If he can improve his jump shot significantly, he could be a very good addition to the Trail Blazers’ team.
Portland Trail Blazers’ Draft Night Grade: C+ (t-19th Overall)
- Justin James, G-F, Wyoming
There were some very talented players that were still left on the board, such as Bol Bol, Ignas Brazdeikis, Louis King, Talen Horton-Tucker, and others, so when the Kings decided to use this pick to select Justin James, this turned out to be a rather baffling decision.
James is an athletic 6-7 swingman that had some good moments at Portsmouth, but he was not definitively the best player on the court in those games. He can attack the basket to garner scores and assists, and he has some defensive skills, but James will really need to improve his jump shot and he can be prone to taking some questionable shots. In a best-case scenario, he could end up being a role player in the NBA, but that may hinge significantly on if he can develop his jumper at the next level.
- Kyle Guy, G, Virginia
This was a solid pick that the Kings made, as they are getting a very good shooter that was instrumental in helping to lead Virginia to win the National Championship this year. Guy is a sharpshooter that excels in making shots, and his bread and butter in the NBA will be his jump shot. If he can keep shooting as well as he did throughout his collegiate career, he could be able to lock down a rotation spot in the NBA as he has the skills to be in this league for a long time.
- Vanja Marinkovic, G-F, Partizan (Serbia)
Vanja Marinkovic has been solidly productive for Partizan across numerous leagues that include the Adriatic League for the past couple of seasons, and he is an agile sharpshooter that can make shots when he is on the floor. Marinkovic can also score off the dribble, and he passes and handles the ball fairly well. However, he will need to improve his rebounding and position defense, and he will have to show that he can guard upper echelon players his size. Marinkovic may be one of the better international players in this year’s draft class, and while he may end up being stashed in the short term, he has the talent to end up being a solid rotation player in the NBA.
Sacramento Kings’ Draft Night Grade: C+ (25th Overall)
San Antonio Spurs
- Luka Samanic, F-C, Union Olimpija (Croatia)
The Spurs get a European big man that could be an interesting long-term project for them. Samanic is an athletic, skilled big man that can shoot and score the basketball, but he will need to improve his rebounding and defense, and he will also have to add more strength in the meantime. It’s uncertain if he’ll be ready to play right away, but he may not have to as the Spurs have the option to stash him, and Samanic has a game that may remind some of current Miami Heat forward, Kelly Olynyk. On the other hand, there may have been a good chance he’d have still been there at 29 if they hadn’t taken him at 19, though.
- Keldon Johnson, G-F, Kentucky
This was a great pick up for the Spurs, as they managed to select Keldon Johnson as they stop his free fall. Johnson is a tough, athletic swingman that can knock down jumpers, score on off-ball motion plays, and he is a solid defender. He may not be the scorer off the dribble people thought he’d be, but he has a skill set that could enable him to be a very good complementary player in this league, and he is a high upside player that was once projected to go in the lottery for a good portion of this season.
- Quinndary Weatherspoon, G, Mississippi State
The Spurs add a quality player to their roster in Quinndary Weatherspoon. Weatherspoon is a skilled combo guard that can shoot and score the basketball, and he had a very good senior season that culminated in him playing very well at Portsmouth and in earning an invite to the combine. It’s uncertain if there will be much playing time for him as the Spurs may have a pretty deep roster, but Weatherspoon gives the Spurs another player that can put the ball in the hoop.
San Antonio Spurs’ Draft Night Grade: B (11th Overall)
- Dewan Hernandez, F-C, Miami (Fl)
Dewan Hernandez had to sit for all of the college basketball season as the NCAA had denied him of eligibility this year, and they wouldn’t let him play this year. Luckily for Hernandez, he was able to earn an invite to the G-League Elite Camp, and he played very well there, as he then parlayed it into an invite to the NBA Draft Combine.
Hernandez is an athletic, skilled big man that can score off the dribble, in the post, as well as around the basket, and he also handles the ball well for a player his size. He will need to improve his rebounding and be a more disciplined defender, but Hernandez has the skills to excel as a role player in the NBA.
Toronto Raptors’ Draft Night Grade: C+ (t-19th Overall)
- Jarrell Brantley, G-F, College of Charleston
This is a selection, that like Sacramento’s pick at 40, raises some eyebrows. Brantley came virtually out of nowhere to play well at Portsmouth, and he played very well late in that event despite not having been able to turn it into a combine invite. He is a versatile scorer who can score off the dribble or in the post, and he has great size and strength to play out on the wing. He’s not the fastest or quickest player and he will need to improve his jump shot and position defense, but Brantley’s ability to take the ball to the rim to get scores and rebounding prowess could help him compete and maybe win a rotation spot in Utah.
- Justin Wright-Foreman, G, Hofstra
Justin Wright-Foreman is an athletic, agile combo guard that can shoot and score the basketball, but he is also a ball dominant player that may struggle to get his teammates involved on offense. He did not record many assists at Hofstra for a player his size, and he is also undersized to play the two. He will need to show teams that he can effectively play the point, but if so, Wright-Foreman has the skills to develop into an effective scoring point guard off the bench in the NBA.
- Miye Oni, G-F, Yale
Miye Oni is an athletic, skilled swingman that put up solid numbers as a junior at Yale, and he also played very well in the combine scrimmage games. He is a versatile player that could project into a 3 and D role at the next level, and he is an unselfish player that will look to find the open man. He can struggle to create his own shot consistently, but in a supporting role, he can focus on the other elements of the game. Oni is an intriguing prospect that has the talent to thrive as a role player in the NBA.
Utah Jazz’ Draft Night Grade: C+ (17th Overall)
- Rui Hachimura, F, Gonzaga
The Washington Wizards made a surprise pick by selecting Rui Hachimura ninth overall. He is a Japanese-born forward that had a solid junior season, as he is an athletic combo forward that can score the basketball in a variety of ways, and he plays hard. However, he will need to improve his jump shot and defense, and he can sometimes be a bit too aloof in games. Hachimura being taken this high may have been a reach, but he is a skilled player that could end up excelling in his role in this league.
- Admiral Schofield, G-F, Tennessee
The Wizards added a solid player in the second round, as they were able to get Admiral Schofield, a tough, physical wing player that can really shoot the basketball. He is a sharpshooter that can knock down jumpers to space the floor for his team, but he may lack elite lateral quickness and can struggle to guard quicker players. Still, his ability to knock down jumpers could enable him to get plenty of playing time in Washington, as he has the skills to end up being a solid role player in the NBA.
Washington Wizards’ Draft Night Grade: B- (16th Overall)
That is all for now, and this was a fun season to watch. The 2019 NBA Summer League will begin on July 5th in Las Vegas, Nevada, and will end on the 15th. Thanks for reading.