The 2019 NBA Draft has officially come and gone. It was a wild night with a number of trades, surprising risers, and shocking tumbles down the draft for some players.
Of course, some teams had better nights than others, as happens every single year. The reasons for some winners can be vastly different than others. Here are five winners, in no particular order, from the 2019 NBA Draft.
The Wolves traded up from pick No. 11 to pick No. 6 at the cost of Dario Saric and eventually picked up Jarrett Culver with that pick. We won’t know what Culver is for a while, but we do know that new President of Basketball Operations Gersson Rosas will be aggressive in trying to make things happen. Even if this move didn’t turn out the way the Wolves might have anticipated it to – with their eyes set on Vanderbilt’s Darius Garland – it still shows that they’re going to be bold. This move suggests that more changes are coming to Minnesota, and they could be coming sooner than anticipated.
The Cavaliers may have had one of the best first rounds of any organization on Thursday night. They landed Darius Garland at No. 5, a player that has loads of star potential and could be a future all-star guard to pair with Collin Sexton. At No. 26 they grabbed Dylan Windler from Belmont who will bring his 42.9% 3-point stroke to a team that needs more outside shooting. Finally, they traded up to No. 30 to grab Kevin Porter Jr. from USC. Porter Jr. had issues while at Southern Cal, as he was suspended during the season for an undisclosed violation of team rules. With that said, he flashed tons of potential to become a star at the NBA level. If he can avoid any off-court issues, he could be the steal of the draft at 30.
New Orleans Pelicans
Well, the Pelicans started the night by drafting Zion Williamson first overall. They also fleeced the Atlanta Hawks when Atlanta traded up for the No. 4 pick to select De’Andre Hunter. The Pelicans also grabbed Jaxson Hayes from Texas with the No. 8 pick and Nickeil Alexander-Walker out of Virginia Tech at No. 17. What David Griffin has done since taking over the basketball operations in New Orleans has been nothing short of amazing. This franchise looks to be set up for the next decade.
The Grizzlies grabbed Ja Morant with the second pick, but after that they were successful in grabbing Gonzaga big man Brandon Clarke with the No. 21 pick as well. Clarke slid further than many had projected him to, despite some thinking he could be a lottery pick. Putting that pair with Jaren Jackson Jr. could make Memphis a really fun team for plenty of years to come.
The Hawks probably overpaid in moving up from No. 8 to No. 4 in their trade with New Orleans. With that said, De’Andre Hunter will be a perfect fit alongside Trae Young and Co. While they had to give up both No. 8, No. 17, and a future first-round pick to make that happen, the Hawks had a plan and made sure they got their guy. The Hawks also were able to grab Duke’s Cam Reddish at the No. 10 spot. Reddish has a high ceiling and could turn into an all-star caliber guy if all goes right. That pick is a bit of a home run swing, but if it pays off, the Hawks will be competing for championships within the next decade.