2019 NBA Draft Winners & Losers

by Zachary Hanshew | @ZaktheMonster | Featured Writer
Jun 21, 2019

The NBA Draft is over, and while the top three picks went just as planned, the rest of the night was full of surprises. Some teams made out tremendously and boosted their stock for the foreseeable future, while other teams made some highly questionable moves and squandered opportunities to improve. Here are the winners and losers of this year’s NBA Draft.

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WINNERS

Atlanta Hawks
Selections: De’Andre Hunter No. 4, Cam Reddish No. 10, Bruno Fernando No. 34

The Hawks pulled off a big move just ahead of the draft when they traded the No. 8, No. 17, and No. 35 picks to the Pelicans in exchange for the No. 4 pick the Pelicans acquired from the Lakers in the Anthony Davis trade. The Hawks used that pick to draft De’Andre Hunter, the long and athletic forward who helped lead Virginia to an NCAA championship last season. Atlanta needed help at center but saw their projected target, Jaxson Hayes, snatched by New Orleans at No. 8. The Hawks went with Cam Reddish at No. 10, a great value and a pure shooter the Hawks can add to the mix. With just the No. 57 pick left (acquired from New Orleans in the deal mentioned above), Atlanta traded that pick and two future second-rounders for the 76ers No. 34 pick. They used it to get Bruno Fernando, a first-round talent from Maryland, a gifted center, and a huge value. The Hawks addressed their needs for wing defense, shooting, and a big man and did so by drafting three excellent prospects — A+.

Minnesota Timberwolves
Selections: Jarrett Culver No.6, Jaylen Nowell No. 43

Minnesota made out handsomely in its deal with Phoenix. The T-Wolves dealt the No. 11 pick and Dario Saric to Phoenix for the No. 6 pick — a steal. Saric averaged 10.5 points and 5.5 boards in just under 24 minutes per game last season and was a low-impact role player. Minnesota was able to draft one of the best defensive players in the draft in two-way talent Jarrett Culver. Minnesota picked up another player who can do it on both ends of the court in Jaylen Nowell at No. 43. The T-Wolves upgraded at guard in a big way in the draft and pulled off a big trade to get to No. 6. They’re clearly winners here.

New Orleans Pelicans
Selections: Zion Williamson No. 1, Jaxson Hayes No. 8, Nickeil Alexander-Walker No. 17, Marcos Louzada Silva No. 35

The Pelicans got the best player in the draft in Zion Williamson with the first-overall pick. David Griffin then traded the No. 4 pick (acquired in the Anthony Davis deal) to Atlanta for picks 8, 17, and 35 to round out a wildly successful week for New Orleans. With Lonzo Ball on the roster already, the Pelicans had no need for Darius Garland at No. 4 and apparently weren’t thrilled by any other prospect enough to stay pat. They only had to trade back four spots and still grabbed Jaxson Hayes, the center from Texas with wild upside and freak physical attributes. The pickup of Nickeil Alexander-Walker at No. 17 was the icing on the cake of a tremendous first round. The David Griffin-Zion Williamson era has kicked off with a bang!

Memphis Grizzlies
Selections: Ja Morant No. 2, Brandon Clarke No. 21

The Grizzlies landed the best PG in the draft hands down and the cornerstone of the franchise in Ja Morant. That’s a huge win on its own, but the Grizzlies had the incredible fortune of landing lottery talent Brandon Clarke at No. 21. The Grizzlies acquired the No. 23 pick from the Jazz in the Mike Conley trade and flipped that pick and a future second-rounder to the Thunder to move up for Clarke. Clarke was outstanding in the regular season for Gonzaga and even better in the NCAA Tournament last season. In his last two years in college (one at San Jose State, one at Gonzaga), he averaged 17.1 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 2.9 blocks per game. He’ll be a huge addition in the frontcourt next to Jonas Valanciunas. The Grizzlies were big winners in this year’s draft.

LOSERS

Phoenix Suns
Selections: Cameron Johnson No. 11, Ty Jerome No. 24

Shortly before the draft, the Suns traded the No.6 pick to Minnesota for the No. 11 pick and Dario Saric. That was a big-time move for Minnesota who didn’t give up much to move up five spots.  Minnesota drafted Jarrett Culver at No. 6, while Phoenix watched the next four selections of Coby White, Jaxson Hayes, Rui Hachimura, and Cam Reddish come off the board. At No. 11, the Suns reached for Cameron Johnson with plenty of talent still left — PJ Washington, Tyler Herro, Romeo Langford, and Sekou Doumbouya were the next four picks. The Suns need help the most at PG, and instead of taking Coby White at No. 6, they ended up with Ty Jerome at No. 24. Jerome is a solid player, but why not go all in on a PG in free agency if you trade the No. 6 pick? After all, the Suns traded TJ Warren and the No. 32 pick to the Pacers to clear cap space. To get to No. 24, the Suns traded a future first-round pick to Boston that also netted Phoenix Aron Baynes — a puzzling move. Neither of the picks or trades makes the Suns noticeably better, and the team squandered some golden opportunities here. To sum up Phoenix’s night:

Cleveland Cavaliers
Selections: No. 5 Darius Garland, Dylan Windler No. 26, Kevin Porter Jr. No. 30

To be fair, I love the talent and upside of Dylan Windler. I think the selection was a little early in the draft, but the Cavs obviously got their guy at this spot, so I won’t knock it too much. Kevin Porter Jr is a lottery talent with some injury and behavior concerns. He was well worth the selection at No. 30, and Cleveland got great value there. So, Cleveland had two solid picks at the end of the first round… why are they losers here? They could have done so much more, that’s why. Cleveland could have and should have traded the No. 5 pick in the draft for additional picks and/or veterans who could contribute right away. Darius Garland was the best player on the board at No. 5, but Cleveland selected another small PG in Collin Sexton just one year ago at No. 8 overall. I’m not convinced those two players will fit well together in the backcourt, and with so much buzz around Garland leading up to the draft, I have to believe there were suitors who would have paid a handsome price for the right to select him. Cleveland got plenty of talent in the draft, but the haul could have been so much more.

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Zachary Hanshew is a correspondent at FantasyPros. For more from Zachary, check out his archive and follow him @zakthemonster.

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