By Mac the Intern
(all stats are provided by stat-reference.com)
The 2019 NBA Draft was on Thursday night. 60 players were chosen. 28 of them changed hands before the night was over, which means a lot of teams were making picks for their trade partners. We didn’t have the huge trades we thought we might, but we had a few-Anthony Davis to the Lakers for, well, the Lakers entire future. Mike Conley Jr. to the Jazz. But we saw a few teams that made some big additions to their rosters. With the Warriors having Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant out all of next year, the entire league is in flux, and teams are taking their shots. Now into the draft!!!
Biggest reaches: There were three that stuck out for me: Jaxson Hayes, Darius Bazley, and Nassir Little. Hayes is a 6-11 forward who just finished up a single season as a Longhorn. He averages 10 points and 5 rebounds a game. And he was drafted 8thoverall by Atlanta, but will be heading to the Pelicans as part of a trade. 10 and 5 get you drafted 8thoverall now? I am really curious why New Orleans would want to pick up Hayes, seeing how they retained Jahlil Okafor earlier in the evening. Hayes will be one of those energy and rebounding players, but he’ll need to develop a more in-depth offensive game, otherwise he’ll end up as just a younger Tristan Thompson.
Darius Bazley was picked up by Oklahoma City (well, originally Jazz, who are trading him to Memphis, who will THEN move him to OKC), and I’m sorry-I don’t understand the pick. At all. He’s 19, is 6-9, and has the build to fill out to take on the grind that is the NBA season. He was All-Everything in high school. But he opted to not play for Syracuse, where he committed to play college ball, instead sitting out the year and working out in preparation for the draft. Working out is not actual game time. Even simulated games won’t make him ready for what he’s supposed to do for OKC: allow them to compete while trying to cut salary to avoid the tax. I think that is a bit much to expect out of someone with less game film than some of the European imports that were selected in the second round.
Nassir Little was drafted by the Trailblazers at 25. He, too, was an all universe high school players, but he didn’t start a single game in his lone season at UNC. He averaged 9.8 points and 4.6 rebounds a game coming off the bench. He really needed another year at UNC, to get some starters’ minutes and show what he was able to do. I think going to Portland will be good for him-low pressure situation on a good team-but again, he should’ve stayed in school and came out in 2020.
Biggest falls: Bol Bol, son of former NBA center Manute Bol, was invited to the draft. And he sat there as 43 other players had their names called ahead of him by Miami (who then shipped him to Denver). Why? He played 9 total games at Oregon, before a stress fracture put him out for the rest of his only season. That would send teams running from drafting him, regardless of the 21 points and almost 10 rebounds a game he put up. History has shown that foot injuries are constant with tall, lanky centers.
Picks I really liked: I’m not touching Zion, because that was a no-brainer. But I really liked Coby White from UNC to the Bulls at 7. I think he’ll be a great addition to a rebuilding, young team. I also really liked the Rui Huchimura pick by the Wizards. He may not have the highest ceiling, but you know what you’re getting with him: steady scoring and rebounding. He may not have the ability to stretch the floor, but he’s one of those glue guys that’ll be great for a second unit and spot time with the main line-up.
What team improved the most: Hands down, the Pelicans. While I may not understand the need for the Hayes pick, they have completely revamped and reinvigorated the entire franchise. Jrue Holiday and Lonzo Ball might be the best defensive back court in the game right now. They’ve gotten younger and have set themselves up to ensure that Zion has a talented group around him as he begins his NBA career.
What team didn’t do much: Because we’re in NC, I hate to say the Hornets. PJ Washington, a power forward from Kentucky, was a GOOD pick. In the second, they selected Cody Martin from Nevada. Another forward. Later in the second round, they take another Mountain West Conference player in Jalen McDaniels. Another forward. They’re getting ready to lose Kemba Walker, and don’t have any real depth in the front court. Or the back court. I mean, it’s not a good team. Even after the draft, it’s not that good, either.