2019 NBA Draft: First Round Analysis and Draft Grades for Each Team

The 2019 NBA draft was wild and full of surprises as usual. It also may be one of the most loaded ones in years caused by one potentially franchise-changing phenom

The baby boomers of basketball are now entering the big leagues. In this age where bodies no longer bang that much, there are a couple of these baby boomers willing to do so starting of with the first overall pick.

And he is none other than...

1. New Orleans Pelicans: F Zion Williamson, Duke

Despite all the comparisons that they may throw, Zion Williamson is a once-in-a-generation talent that deserves holding his own name.

Zion stands 6'7 and weighs a whopping 285 lbs of quality mass. He is a genetic freak with the vertical leap of a young Vince Carter or a warming up Gerald Green with the built of a professional wrestler.

The Pelicans are officially the biggest winners in NBA draft history since they did not have to intentionally lose games to gamble at a chance to draft Zion. He fell right into their hands.

The task at hand for the Pelicans though is to allow Zion to freely live up to his worth hype and not let the toxic pieces they got from the Lakers from the Anthony Davis trade ruin that.

Regardless, the franchise has a new face to build around. The team is the only one to blame if the hype is not lived up to.

Draft Grade: A++

2. Memphis Grizzlies: PG Ja Morant, Murray State

The Grizzlies have finally embraced the end of their "grit and grind" era. Their star Mike Conley is still producing for them but it was just time to rebuild their team with youth.

Murray State's Ja Morant is exactly the right pick for the Grizzlies. Morant is definitely going no.2 regardless of any team that wins the pick but fortunately it was the Grizzlies.

The team is in a rebuilding phase and Morant will obviously be the focal point of their offense if you look at their current lineup.

Draft Grade: A+

3. New York Knicks: SG RJ Barrett, Duke

Now officially the biggest loser NBA draft history, the Knicks may have fell in the worst position for their record but didn't draft bad at all.

RJ Barrett has been touted as the best college basketball player in the NCAA last season despite his Duke teammate Zion getting 98 percent of the hype.

Barrett has a tendency to be trigger happy on offense causing him to be inefficient at times. On good nights however, he manages to make impact on the floor whether it's scoring or creating for his teammates.

It is interesting to see how NBA-level training will affect Barrett's transition into the pro leagues.

Draft Grade: B+

4. Los Angeles Lakers: SF De'Andre Hunter, Virginia

LeBron James could have had a running buddy had this pick not been heading to Atlanta Hawks via the New Orleans Pelicans in a bunch of handshake trades.

Either of the Lakers, the Pelicans, and the Hawks will all be winners regardless of who Hunter plays for. Hunter has already been compared to Kawhi Leonard for his ability to be a threat from 3 and defend on the perimeter. 

Hunter dominated the national championship game and is the fourth-best player in this draft. It is expected that he be drafted exatcly at this spot.

Draft Grade: A

5. Cleveland Cavaliers: PG Darius Garland, Vanderbilt

Before anything, Darius Garland deserves to be drafted at this spot but it just happens to be an inappropriate one as well.

The Cavaliers do not need another point guard when they already have two (Jordan Clarkson and Collin Sexton) who plays most of the minutes in the position.

Garland managed to improve his draft stock despite he sitting out games with an injury as a freshman. 

The draft grade would be higher if the Cavaliers needed a point guard but since it shouldn't be in the list of their priorities, Garland's A- talent will be scored a C on the draft grade. 

Draft Grade: C

6. Phoenix Suns: SG Jarrett Culver, Texas Tech

The Timberwolves are the winners of this pick as the Suns drafted down to no.11 plus Dario Saric. 

Culver fell at the right spot at no.6 but we will find out if he provides that boost for an unmotivated Timberwolves team.

Draft Grade: B

7. Chicago Bulls: PG Coby White, North Carolina

Nobody projected Coby White to be a one-and-done player. Coach Roy Williams made him the team's primary ball handler in his freshman season at North Carolina and he delivered.

It also happened to boost his draft stock since he was projected to go lower the moment he declared. 

Not sure though how high he will be on a Bulls rotation which has the same built of a player with an extremely high usage rate in Zach LaVine.

It is good that the Bulls took the best option at the spot though.

Draft Grade: B

8. Atlanta Hawks: C Jaxson Hayes, Texas

The Pelicans needed to somebody to fill in the center spot left by Anthony Davis which is why they made this pick through the Hawks. 

Don't expect the Pelicans to be shooting a lot though. Zion will drain some of them they will need to sign more shooters in free agency though.

Hayes still offers upside play, rim-protection, and presence in the paint. He just doesn't address the need for shooting though.

Draft Grade: C

9. Washington Wizards: PF Rui Hachimura, Gonzaga

Hachimura fell at the right spot at No. 9. He is a fine choice for the Wizards team that needs young players with high ceilings. 

His big wingspan allows him to be a stretch four that can drive off the fake. He has a good jump shot as well so that means added shooting for the WIzards

The fact that he got drafted this high despite just a few years of basketball experience makes it more interesting that he is going to receive NBA-level training this early.

It will also cover up some of the team's shooting shall rumors be true about Bradley Beal willing to be traded. 

Draft Grade: B

10. Atlanta Hawks (from Dallas): SF Cameron Reddish, Duke

There is a possibility that Cam Reddish only went this high because he played for a studded Duke team.

He has the tools to become an All-Star but he has to fird a way to be more effective on offense. There were times when he couldn't find his rhythm and frequently disappeared in games. 

These are all red flags provided Reddish fits into a different and more applicable role. 

Draft Grade: D

11. Minnesota Timberwolves: SF Cameron Johnson, North Carolina

The Phoenix Suns made this pick when they traded down their 6th pick for the 11th and Dario Saric. 

Johnson is a ready-to-play in a youth-filled Suns team but there could have been better choices that someone who did not make Top 24 in this batch.

If he can pull off a Giannis Antetokounmpo as a 23-year old rookie then good for him. But for now, this isn't a good choice for the Suns. 

Draft Grade: D

12. Charlotte Hornets: PF PJ Washington, Kentucky

PJ Washington managed to increase his draft stock by staying a year more in college. Hed he chose to forego his college eligibility to join the 2018 NBA Draft, he might have only made late first round to early second round.

Not a bad decision at all since he managed to make the upper half. He figured out his shot and made himself into a space-creating forward. 

The Hornets are already loaded on the position though so it's either give him enough playing time to feel the NBA game or just trade him to a team that needs him.

Draft Grade: B-

13. Miami Heat: SG Tyler Herro, Kentucky

The Heat lost Dwyane Wade to retirement and looks like they plan to have Tyler Herro to fill in that spot.

Just like Wade, Herro can dribble, pass and shoot on top of his decent size (one Wade didn't have). 

He shoots free-throws and 3-pointers a lot even though it isn't his strongest suit.

He deserved to be a lottery pick though. 

Draft Grade: B

14. Boston Celtics (from Sacramento via Philadelphia): SG Romeo Langford, Indiana

The Celtics have enough firepower on the perimiter already so don't expect Langford to have am impactful rookie season. Terry Rozier III didn't as well.

He is an OK pick for them but it's going to be a project. He did not really perform up to par in his freshman season at Indiana due to injuries. 

Draft Grade: C

15. Detroit Pistons: PF Sekou Doumbouya, France

Sekou Doumbouya was projected to go as high as Top 10 so the Pistons may have stolen one.

He is 18 years old, 6 foot 9, is Afro-European, and picked at no 15. Does this ring a bell to you? 

The difference though is that Doumbouya was scouted enough to be projected as Top 10. A great defensive talent and an improving offense will only show depending on his work ethic.

The Pistons won at no 15 though. Let's just hope he gets used properly.

Draft Grade: A

16. Orlando Magic: PF Chuma Okeke, Auburn

Maybe Chuma Okeke was drafted this high despite tearing his ACL because the Orlando Magic are planning a "rookie hack."

Okeke has the luxury of NBA-level training and being done with rookie initiations by the time he plays his first NBA game.

His catch-and-shoot ability and a solid play in the NCAA Tournament have also kicked that draft stock up.

If he misses out on all or most of his rookie season, at least the Magic have to think about their veterans inefficiently hogging playing time (Evan Fournier and Nikola Vucevic). 

Draft Grade: D+

17. Brooklyn Nets: SG Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Virginia Tech

Nickeil Alexander-Walker is going to the Pelicans as part of a trade with the Hawks, who owned it. 

The Maui Invitational might have helped boost his chances of getting drafted a lot. He fills a need for the Pelicans provided toxic pieces sacrifice a little.

Paring him next to Zion Williamson makes it a good pick for them. 

Draft Grade: B+

18. Indiana Pacers: C Goga Bitadze, Georgia

The put Goga Bitadze beside Zion Williamson and not a single person from the media bothered to check him out.

If he uses that as motivation plus if he develops the way the Pacers did with Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis he will have very efficient minutes with them. 

Draft Grade: A

19. San Antonio Spurs: PF Luka Samanic, Croatia

It seems like the Spurs have locked in on Luka Samanic. He would have been picked at 29 anyway but judging by how high he was drafted, he is the Spurs' top priority.

But the Spurs, they've earned the benefit of the doubt. The Spurs have a talent for finding gems late in the draft but we will not grade this pick with a high one yet.

Draft Grade: C

20. Boston Celtics (from LA Clippers via Memphis): SF Matisse Thybulle, Washington

The 76ers traded up with Boston and made this pick. It doesn't fill any need though as Thybulle is a non-shooter. He played good defense in a zone in college but this is the NBA.

The Sixers could have gotten a more suitable prospect left on board that will fill in their major concerns.

Draft Grade: D

21. Oklahoma City Thunder: PF Brandon Clarke, Gonzaga

The Grizzlies are creating towers in Memphis. They traded into this spot for this specific reason. 

A frontcourt of Jonas Valanciunas, Jaren Jackson Jr. and Clarke will make a fearsome shot-blocking trio. Clarke lacks the ideal height for his position so sliding down isn't a bad idea as well.

Ja Morant, Clarke, and a sophomore Jackson makes the Grizzlies stacked with youthful talent. 

Grade: A

22. Boston Celtics: PF Grant Williams, Tennessee

Sometimes all a team needs is somebody who just knows how to play the game. It does not require the right height or freakish athleticism to do that

Fred VanVleet wasn't both when he got drafted but was important in the Toronto Raptors' championship run.

Willams fills in a spot on the Celtics' roster where needs have to be addressed. Just leave coach Brad Stevens to figure out how to use him.

Draft Grade: B

23. Utah Jazz: SF Darius Bazley, high school

Darius Bazley chose to make money "interning" for New Balance in order to have financial flexibility and have more time to focus on preparing for every specific workout on the Draft Combine.

It paid off as it resulted to great workouts which was what most likely boosted his draft stock to a first rounder.

Bazley will go to the Memphis Grizzlies as part of the Mike Conley trade.

Draft Grade: B

24. Philadelphia 76ers: PG Ty Jerome, Virginia

The Suns finally decided to address their troubles at the point by finally drafting a necessity. They passed on Coby White to trade down but managed to get the best of what is left.

Ty Jerome is a 6-5 guard who can play either backcourt spot, dribble, pass, shoot and defend well. This will allow Devin Booker to operate off the ball more where he most likely will be more efficient.

The Suns will finally score a high draft grade for this.

Draft Grade: A

25. Portland Trail Blazers: SF Nassir Little, North Carolina

Little's over/under on pick position was 12.5. He went WAY deeper than anyone expected. At this point in the draft, I don't even care about fit or whatever, you just take the roll of the dice on the guy who was the MVP of the 2018 McDonald's All-American and Jordan Brand Classic games. A year ago, he was projected to be the No. 2 pick. He's a good value here, even though he didn't make an impact at UNC. 

Draft Grade: A

26. Cleveland Cavaliers (from Houston): SG Dylan Windler, Belmont

John Beilein probably still has the jitters of a first-time NBA head coach. He may have preferred guards at the college level but it does not solve the team's needs. 

Windler can shoot and has a good size for a wing. Upside might be a question though based on the projected lineup of the team.

Draft Grade: C

27. Brooklyn Nets (from Denver): PF Mfiondu Kabengele, Florida State

At this stage in the draft, it's boom or bust. The Clippers are getting this pick and might need to find ways to utilize Mfiondu Kabengele differently. 

Kabengele just slipped out of the top 20 and people's draft position drops for a reason. His knees probably caused that slip but he reportedly excelled in pre-draft workouts. 

He will be sharing the position with Montrezl Harrell but on potential alone, The Clippers' draft grade will be higher because of this.

Draft Grade: B+

28. Golden State Warriors: SG Jordan Poole, Michigan

The Warriors are probably preparing for the worst. They drafted a Shooting Guard just because they saw one. 

Not to judge this pick but there are many other guards with more upside based on pre-draft analysis of teams. 

It's also a fact that Poole will be playing behind Quinn Cook shall Klay Thompson leave the team.

Draft Grade: C-

29. San Antonio Spurs (from Toronto): SG Keldon Johnson, Kentucky

The San Antonio Spurs got this pick from the trade that shook the entire NBA landscape last season.

The Spurs have an eye for the deepest buried treasure boxes. Keldon Johnson will definitely benefit in a structured situation as he feels out his game in the pros.

Draft Grade: A

30. Milwaukee Bucks: SG Kevin Porter Jr., USC

The Cavaliers traded into the slot and got another guard. It's the 30th pick so it might be the right decision to get the guy with them most potential left.

Some say Kevin Porter Jr. has top 10 potential so taking this into account, let's score this draft grade higher.

Draft Grade: B

What do you think about the draft scores? Leave a comment down below on your thoughts on this year's draft.

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