12up Logo12up Logo

Draft Grades NBA 2019 for Lottery Teams

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JUNE 20: Ja Morant poses with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver after being drafted with the second overall pick by the Memphis Grizzlies during the 2019 NBA Draft at the Barclays Center on June 20, 2019 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
Sarah Stier

The 2019 NBA Draft might have predictable at the top, but it left no shortage of the event's usual intrigue past pick No. 3. The draft annually sees players who have been lottery picks for the last 11 months fall out of the first round, while second-round talents are drafted in the lottery in a move that leaves both Draft Twitter and fans all over the country in a state of stunned silence.

Now that the draft is officially yesterday's news, it's time declare which teams came out of the draft positioned for dominance in the short and long-term, and which teams completely dropped the ball.

1. New Orleans Pelicans: A+

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JUNE 20: Zion Williamson poses with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver after being drafted with the first overall pick by the New Orleans Pelicans during the 2019 NBA Draft at the Barclays Center on June 20, 2019 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
2019 NBA Draft | Sarah Stier

David Griffin is playing three-dimensional chess while the rest of the league is paying checkers. While the Zion Williamson pick at No. 1 could have been predicted by anyone with a functioning brain, turning the No. 4 pick acquired in the Anthony Davis trade into a rim-running center in Jaxson Hayes at No. 8, a sharpshooting 3-and-D guard in Nickeil Alexander-Walker at No. 17, and a promising draft and stash in Didi Louzada at No. 35 deserves the highest praise imaginable.

2. Memphis Grizzlies: A

HARTFORD, CONNECTICUT - MARCH 23:  Ja Morant #12 of the Murray State Racers attempts a free throw against the Florida State Seminoles in the second half during the second round of the 2019 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at XL Center on March 23, 2019 in Hartford, Connecticut. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Murray State v Florida State | Maddie Meyer

With Mike Conley soon to be a member of the Utah Jazz, the Grizzlies wasted no time in drafting his replacement when they snagged Murray State's Ja Morant with the second overall pick. With the No. 23 pick they acquired by the Jazz in tow, Memphis moved up for Gonzaga's Brandon Clarke, a freakish athlete with tremendous hops and shot-blocking ability. Don't look now, but the Morant/Jaren Jackson Jr./Clarke core in Memphis could be up to something very soon.

3. New York Knicks: A-

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JUNE 20: RJ Barrett holds up a New York Knicks jersey after being drafted with the third overall pick by the New York Knicks during the 2019 NBA Draft at the Barclays Center on June 20, 2019 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
2019 NBA Draft | Sarah Stier

Knicks fans might still be bitter that Zion Williamson slipped out of their grasp and ended up in New Orleans, but RJ Barrett, who could score 20 points a game with his eyes closed, isn't exactly the worst consolation prize. While Barrett finally gives the Knicks a young piece to build around, they added one of the steals of the draft in the second round with Michigan's Ignas Brazdeikis, who should contribute right away on a Knicks roster that lacks bona fide talent at this point.

4. Atlanta Hawks: B

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JUNE 20: De'Andre Hunter poses with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver after being drafted with the fourth overall pick by the Los Angeles Lakers during the 2019 NBA Draft at the Barclays Center on June 20, 2019 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
2019 NBA Draft | Sarah Stier

You can never accuse Atlanta Hawks GM Travis Schlenk, who traded up for Trae Young last draft, of being boring or passive. Schlenk sent picks No. 8 and No. 17 to New Orleans to select Virginia's DeAndre Hunter, a high-floor player with versatility and an improving jump shot, but a low offensive ceiling. Duke's Cam Reddish could be a home run at No. 10, provided he learns how to harness all the talent he has and score with more consistency. Like it or not, Young, Hunter, and Reddish are now the Hawks' foundation.

5. Cleveland Cavaliers: B-

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JUNE 20: Darius Garland poses with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver after being drafted with the fifth overall pick by the Cleveland Cavaliers during the 2019 NBA Draft at the Barclays Center on June 20, 2019 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
2019 NBA Draft | Sarah Stier

John Beilein and the Cleveland Cavaliers using the No. 5 pick on Vanderbilt point guard Darius Garland still seems as peculiar now as it did when it happened. While Garland should be an excellent player in this league, he's a serious injury risk. Will Garland mesh with another ball-dominant young guard in Collin Sexton? Seems unlikely. At least the Cavs made some excellent picks later in the draft, as Belmont sharpshooter and ace rebounder Dylan Windler, as well as USC's Kevin Porter Jr., at No. 26 and No. 30, respectively, represent great value.

6. Minnesota Timberwolves: B+

MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA - APRIL 06: Jarrett Culver #23 of the Texas Tech Red Raiders reacts in the second half against the Michigan State Spartans during the 2019 NCAA Final Four semifinal at U.S. Bank Stadium on April 6, 2019 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Texas Tech v Michigan State | Hannah Foslien

Ryan Saunders and the Minnesota Timberwolves got their man in the form of Texas Tech guard Jarrett Culver. A solid 3-point shooter with terrific perimeter defense and the ability to create his own shot, Culver should slide right into Minnesota's rotation and produce. While sending Dario Saric to Phoenix to get him was a big on the bold side, the Timberwolves leaving last night with Culver and Washington guard Jaylen Nowell is a solid day at the office.

7. Chicago Bulls: A-

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JUNE 20: Coby White reacts after being drafted with the seventh overall pick by the Chicago Bulls during the 2019 NBA Draft at the Barclays Center on June 20, 2019 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
2019 NBA Draft | Sarah Stier

Outside of the top three, one of the most frequently-mocked picks in this draft was North Carolina guard Coby White heading to Chicago. Given their lack of a standout point guard -- sorry, Kris Dunn - -and shooting, it was a no-brainer that the 6-5 White would head to the Windy City. While the White pick looks like a home run, drafting Arkansas center Daniel Gafford in the second round was a sneaky great find for the Bulls. The much-maligned front office of John Paxson and Gar Forman should be commended for some solid moves last night.

8. Washington Wizards: C

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JUNE 20: Rui Hachimura poses with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver after being drafted with the ninth overall pick by the Washington Wizards during the 2019 NBA Draft at the Barclays Center on June 20, 2019 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
2019 NBA Draft | Sarah Stier

While the Garland pick looked a bit weird, Hachimura going No. 9 to the Wizards was the really puzzling selection. While Hachimura, the first Japanese player drafted in the NBA, has a solid game down on the low block and an improving shooting stroke, he was figured to go somewhere in the late teens or early 20s, not the Top 10. Hachimura should emerge as a good backup forward in Year 1 for Washington, but there was clearly better talent left on the board.

9. Phoenix Suns: C+

KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI - MARCH 29: Cameron Johnson #13 of the North Carolina Tar Heels drives to the basket against the Auburn Tigers during the 2019 NCAA Basketball Tournament Midwest Regional at Sprint Center on March 29, 2019 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Auburn v North Carolina | Christian Petersen

Former North Carolina forward Cameron Johnson, who is a year older than Devin Booker, can do one thing really well, as he was a 46% shooter from three last year. Unfortunately for Monty Williams and Phoenix, that doesn't warrant the Suns using the No. 11 pick in the draft on him. Ty Jerome at No. 24 was one of the better picks of the late first round, but the Johnson selection remains one of the more egregious in the 2019 Draft.

10. Charlotte Hornets: B+

KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI - MARCH 31: PJ Washington #25 of the Kentucky Wildcats reacts to a play against the Auburn Tigers during the 2019 NCAA Basketball Tournament Midwest Regional at Sprint Center on March 31, 2019 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Auburn v Kentucky | Christian Petersen

Is this enough to make you stay, Kemba Walker? Kentucky's PJ Washington, who stayed in Lexington one more season to work on a jump shot, worked his way into the lottery with his combination of shooting, low-post presence, and physicality on defense. While he and Nevada's Cody Martin were nice additions, GM Mitch Kupchak stating that both picks would spend most of next year in the G League knocks the Hornets' draft out of the A range.

11. Miami Heat: C+

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JUNE 20: Tyler Herro poses with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver after being drafted with the 13th overall pick by the Miami Heat during the 2019 NBA Draft at the Barclays Center on June 20, 2019 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
2019 NBA Draft | Sarah Stier

On a night where they had a lottery pick, the Miami Heat were in the news more for selecting Bol Bol in the second round and promptly selling him to the Nuggets. While No. 13 pick Tyler Herro, a self-described "walking bucket," can shoot it well from just about anywhere, a team in need of center and forward depth reaching for a guard at No. 13 can't get anything higher than a C+.

12. Boston Celtics: A-

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JUNE 20: Romeo Langford reacts after being drafted with the 14th overall pick by the Boston Celtics during the 2019 NBA Draft at the Barclays Center on June 20, 2019 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
2019 NBA Draft | Sarah Stier

While Boston GM Danny Ainge has been firmly in the crosshairs of the basketball media in the last few weeks, as the Celtics are days away from losing key players in free agency, Ainge still managed to pick up some nice talent in the first round this year. With über-talented but inconsistent Indiana guard Romeo Langford at No. 14 and SEC Player of the Year Grant Williams at No. 22, the Celtics should be extremely deep next year, with or without Kyrie Irving and Al Horford.