A new season is upon us, and with it comes plenty of intriguing storylines. From massive traves and superstar uncertainty in the East to a West perhaps the deepest it has ever been, here is an early season NBA Power ranking.
2019 NBA Draft Grades
The 2019 NBA draft promises to be one of the most important in NBA history. Given the trades that went on, the superstar potential of prospects like Zion and Ja Morant, and the plethora of prospects who could all make an impact from day one.
Atlanta Hawks - De'Andre Hunter (4), Cam Reddish (10), Bruno Fernando (34)
Moving up to number 4 in the draft without giving up the number 10 pick was a great move by the Hawks. Hunter is a great defender and solid offensive contributor, but his advanced age relative to his peers and lack of explosive athleticism limits his ceiling. With the number 4 pick, you hope to get more than just a role player. Reddish has the tools to be a solid starter in the league, but he didn't show much in college. Carving out a role as the team's leading scorer and playmaker off the bench seems like the most likely outcome for him.
Boston Celtics - Romeo Langford (14), Grant Williams (22), Carsen Edwards (33), Tremont Edwards (51)
The Celtics traded away draft picks several times during the night, and found themselves with some interesting prospects. A versatile offensive player and above-average athlete, Langford still doesn't have a consistent jump shot and tends to blend into the crowd at times. Not taking a chance on the upside of Sekou Doumbouya with the 14thpick could come back to haunt the Celtics. Williams doesn't have the most upside thanks to his lack of size and underwhelming athleticism, but he is a tough player that can help replace what the C's lost by trading away Aron Baynes. Edwards has a chance to be a steal, with his elite shooting and overall scoring ability standing out to potentially make him a player teams will kick themselves for not selecting.
Brooklyn Nets - Nic Claxton (31), Jaylen Hands (56)
Claxton is interesting as a 7-foot tall athlete, with enough potential to be worth committing resources toward his growth. He'll need to put on some muscle so he doesn't get pushed around by Eastern Conference centers like Joel Embiid and Andre Drummond. While Hands wasn't projected to be drafted, it's hard to blame the Nets for taking a flyer on the point guard. He's a good athlete with a solid shooting touch that could lead to him becoming a bench guard if all goes well for him.
Charlotte Hornets -PJ Washington (12), Cody Martin (36), Jalen McDaniels (52)
Washington is a nice athlete and shooter at the power forward position, but he will not turn into the second star the Hornets need next to Kemba Walker. This would've been an opportunity for the Hornets to swing for the fences on a high potential guy, but instead they once again baffle with their draft decisions. This is not an indictment on Washington so much as an acknowledgement that the Hornets' front office needs to step up. Martin is a good defender and solid playmaker for a wing player, but Charlotte could've traded back in the draft and still picked him up along with another asset.
Chicago Bulls - Coby White (7), Daniel Gafford (38)
The Bulls finally have their point guard of the future in Coby White, who was a no-brainer pick at number 7. He's probably not the best fit defensively for this team, but his scoring acumen and desire to constantly push the pace will make fastbreaks between him and Zach LaVine a lot of fun. Gafford could end up being a solid backup behind Wendell Carter Jr.
Cleveland Cavaliers - Darius Garland (5), Dylan Windler (26), Kevin Porter Jr. (30)
Cleveland went ahead and drafted the best player available at the number 5 spot in Darius Garland. He climbed draft boards in the weeks leading up to the draft and has the scoring and playmaking ability to be a star in the league. However, his fit next to incumbent point guard Collin Sexton is murky at best. Picking up Jarrett Culver would've made more sense for a team that ranked as the worst defensive team last year and is desperate for an identity in that department. Porter Jr. took a surprising fall in the draft, almost being left out of the first round altogether. He has the potential you would look for in a lottery pick, so taking a flyer on him makes sense for the Cavs.
Detroit Pistons - Sekou Doumbouya (15), Deividas Sirvydis (37), Jordan Bone (57)
Doumbouya is an enigma compared to the other lottery prospects in this draft, but he has the potential to become one of the best players from this draft class. He's a good athlete with versatility, and he has some similarities with Toronto Raptors power forward Pascal Siakam as a prospect that most people don't know much about. This was an excellent pick for the Pistons, who needed to take a chance due to the lack of flexibility they will have during free agency.
Indiana Pacers - Goga Bitadze (18)
Bitadze has great size and is nimble for a player of his stature. While his defense is average at best, that won't be much of a problem next to Myles Turner, one of the best defensive centers in the league. He has the potential to be a versatile offensive player, between his shooting ability and pick-and-roll skills.
Miami Heat - Tyler Herro (13), KZ Okpala (32)
Herro projects as a great shooter and potentially versatile offensive threat, particularly if he can improve his ball handling. He's not a good defender, but still has good size and could be coached up into becoming a solid team defender. Okpala has a decent amount of potential as a playmaking wing with size, but he has a long way to go if he wants to reach his potential.
Milwaukee Bucks - NO PICKS
New York Knicks - RJ Barrett (3), Ignas Brazdeikis (47)
Barrett was the obvious choice for the Knicks after Zion Williamson and Ja Morant left the draft board, but just because he was drafted after those two that doesn't mean his star can't shine as brightly. Barrett has the potential to be one of the most dominant wing players in the league, between his excellent size as a shooting guard (6'7"), proficient playmaking talent and versatile offensive game. He'll need to tone down on the amount of low-quality shots he takes, but there's no reason Barrett can't become a beacon of hope for long-suffering Knicks fans.
Orlando Magic - Chuma Okeke (16)
Okeke is a solid pickup as a great defender with solid size on the wing. However, the torn ACL he suffered during March Madness hurts his outlook as he will likely miss most, if not all, of the upcoming NBA season. Still, torn ACLs are not nearly as career threatening as they used to be, so hopefully he can make a full recovery and become a part of Orlando's rotation for years to come.
Philadelphia 76ers -Matisse Thybulle (20), Marial Shayok (54)
The 76ers are in need of depth, especially if they re-sign free agents Tobias Harris and Jimmy Butler. Thybulle has the potential to contribute right away as possibly the best defender in this year's draft. He knows his limits on offense and stays within himself, but he still is a weak offensive player that may end up being the next Andre Roberson. His lack of shooting makes it unlikely he sees many minutes next to starters like Butler, Ben Simmons, and Joel Embiid.
Toronto Raptors - Dewan Hernandez (59)
The Raptors' only pressing need is to re-sign superstar Kawhi Leonard. Hernandez could possibly see some action on the Raptors as a high-energy player, especially if injuries are a factor.
Washington Wizards -Rui Hachimura (9), Admiral Schofield (42)
Hachimura has great size and can punish smaller players in the paint, but this pick was reach. He shot well from 3-point range, but didn't shoot enough for that to be significant. At 21 years of age, Hachimura is 1-2 years older than the majority of players drafted around him, which hurts his ceiling a bit. The Wizards had a need at power forward, but I don't think Hachimura was the answer here. Sekou Doumbouya would've been a better-high upside pick (and, admittedly, another reach at number 9), but I could see why Washington would rather have a more polished player to pair with Bradley Beal and John Wall (whenever he returns.) They did manage to draft the player with the coolest name in the draft with their selection of Admiral Schofield. Schofield has a great 3-point shot, but his subpar athleticism will make it difficult to stay on the floor against some of the quicker wing players in the league.
New Orleans Pelicans - Zion Williamson (1), Jaxson Hayes (8), Nickeil Alexander-Walker (17), Marcos Louzada Silva (35)
Any draft where you get the best player available is an automatic A+ in my books. By drafting Zion Williamson, the Pelicans have set themselves up for a bright future despite the loss of previous franchise superstar, Anthony Davis.
Memphis Grizzlies - Ja Morant (2), Brandon Clarke (21)
The Memphis Grizzlies are carely headed in a different direction after a long tenure as an almost elite team. What better way to do than by drafting the best point guard available to go along with the addition of Jaren Jackson in last year's draft, a big who proved to be more NBA ready than most expected. However, the addition of Brandon Clarke seems a little funky to me, a player who essentially offers what Jaren Jackson does.
Los Angeles Lakers - Talen Horton-Tucker (46)
The Lakers would have gotten an F for this draft if not for the fact that they parleyed the majority of their draft picks to acquire Anthony Davis from the Pelicans. Talen comes in at 18 years old, which makes him one of the youngest players in the NBA going into the season. I would have rather seen a team like the Lakers, who are clearly in a win-now mindset, draft a more experienced prospect ready to make an impact from day one.
Phoenix Suns - Cameron Johnson (11), Ty Jerome (24)
The Suns are in desperate need of a point guard after the Devin Booker experiment failed and Ty Jerome is probably not the answer. I do like the idea of drafting an NCAA Champion with three years of college experience at the 1, it adds a winning mentality that the Suns have been lacking for a long while. Cameron Johnson is a nice addition but hard to see what he'll contribute to a team that already has Devin Booker at the two guard.
Minnesota Timberwolves - Jarrett Culver (6), Jaylen Nowell (43)
I am a fan of the grit and mentality Jarrett Culver adds to any team. He was the best player on a Texas Tech team that performed well above expectations, however he was a safe option for the Timberwolves. It is worth mentioning that Culver is as NBA ready as any prospect you'll ever see but that does not necessarily lend itself to a high ceiling. I also like the addition of Jaylen Nowell, any time you can add a player who won his conference's player of the year award is a good opportunity. It is hard to see how he fits on a team that is somewhere between rebuilding and trying to win now.
San Antonio Spurs - Luka Samanic (19), Keldon Johnson (28), Quinndary Weatherspoon (49)
The Spurs followed their usual template in this year's draft. A European prospect in Luka Samanic, a college veteran in Quinndary Weatherspoon and a young prospect in Keldon Johnson. Those are pretty much the only type of players you get in the draft these days and the Spurs have used this template to find unprecedented success in the draft.
Oklahoma City Thunder - Darius Bazley (23)
Not sure what is going on in Oklahoma City but drafting Darius Bazley is hardly the answer. Bazley opted out from playing college basketball or competing in the G-League, instead opting for an internship and personal training. Not sure what that will look like in a prospect but joining an Oklahoma City team going through a period of uncertainty may be a good fit.
Utah Jazz - Jarrell Brantley (50), Justin Wright-Foreman (53), Miye Oni (58)
The Jazz already have their roster and hierarchy pretty much set so adding two seniors and a junior to their roster is a pretty good draft. I am personally a fan of the Miye Oni addition who I believe will ultimately prove to be a steal at the 58thposition. The Jazz have done well to add a slew of college veterans to a team that is right on the edge of competing for a Conference finals birth.
Portland Trail Blazers - Nassir Little (25)
The Trail Blazers know what their identity is as a team so adding a player who was ranked second in the nation coming out of high school is a great plus. Little's season at North Carolina didn't go quite as expected after he failed to start a single game but he showed flashes of a player who is more fit for the NBA than the NCAA.
Golden State Warriors - Jordan Poole (28), Alen Smailagic (39), Eric Paschall (41)
In theory, the Golden State Warriors have greater issues to worry about than the draft. But when you break it down, with Demarcus Cousins potentially leaving and Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant missing a full season, these rookies will be forced to play more than otherwise expected. With that been said, Jordan Poole is the only one of these prospects who could realistically make an impact. That's not good for a team who could potentially struggle to make the playoffs.
Dallas Mavericks - Isaiah Roby (45)
The Mavericks are in a weird position of not quite knowing what they have after the addition of Kristaps Porzingis and the emergence of Luka Doncic. By adding Isaiah Roby, the Mavs are adding a college junior that may not offer much in the coming season. The Mavs need help and they did little to address that in the draft.
Sacramento Kings - Justin James (40), Kyle Guy (55), Vanja Marinkovic (60)
The Kings are the rare bad team who got nothing for their troubles. Well the Kings weren't necessarily bad but they were a lottery team without getting the benefits of the lottery. Kyle Guy is a good addition as a proven winner. But while Justin James was a 20+ points a game scorer in college, he did so while shooting under 30 percent from the three-point line. Marinkovic was the last pick of the draft and he comes in as the third shooting guard the Kings drafted . . .
Los Angeles Clippers - Mfiondu Kabengele (27), Terance Mann (48)
The Clippers have a newly developed culture of team first basketball anchored by high chemistry and their two draft picks resemble that. Kabengele was talented enough to start for most teams in the ACC but took a sixth man role for the Seminoles and was rewarded with the ACC Sixth Man of The Year trophy. Mann also played for that same Florida State team, which means the Clippers drafted two guys from the same college team, something that definitely fits their culture.
Denver Nuggets - Bol Bol (44)
Not sure why the Nuggets are drafting like the 76ers but this makes it the second season in a row where they have drafted a player with plenty of potential that may be held back by an injury. However, Bol Bol is a steal at number 44 in the draft and the Nuggets deserve points for that.
Houston Rockets - NO PICKS
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