Great Drafts

Boston Celtics: Getting Robert Williams at No. 27 is an absolute heist as he is a lottery talent, and Boston has enough options at center to give him time to develop and/or slide Williams in the rotation when he earns it.

Denver Nuggets: Even if he has to sit for a year, Michael Porter Jr. is an unbelievable value at No. 14, especially with both Miles Bridges and Mikal Bridges off the board. Porter could have been the No. 1 pick last year if there was not an age limit and should be an offensive force in time. They then moved up two picks in the second round to take athletic forward Jarred Vanderbilt, who has defensive tools but struggled as a one-and-done at Kentucky.

Houston Rockets: Somehow they ended up with De’Anthony Melton at No. 46, a multi-position defender who had a first round grade from some experts but fell to the middle of the second round anyway. 

Dallas Mavericks: Despite falling to fifth on lottery night, the Mavericks walk out of the draft with the best player. Luka Doncic is far from a perfect prospect, but he is intelligent, skilled and remarkably accomplished. The combination of Doncic and Dennis Smith Jr. will be fascinating to watch for a long time to come. They then took another ballhandler in Villanova point guard Jalen Brunson, who thrived at Villanova and could fit in well with Rick Carlisle’s guard-heavy rotations.

Good Drafts

Philadelphia 76ers: In a shocking move, the Sixers drafted hometown talent Mikal Bridges, whose mother works for the organization, then later traded him to Phoenix for Zhaire Smith and Miami’s unprotected 2021 first rounder. That is a huge asset since Miami may be fading at that point and it may be the year one-and-dones are gone plus the downgrade from Bridges to Smith seems substantially smaller than that upside. That said, it is worth nothing that concerns about Smith’s shooting will be amplified playing next to Ben Simmons. They then took one of the draft’s best shooters in Landry Shamet at No. 26, which is somewhat of a surprise since moving the pick or drafting a stashable European would have allowed them to clear more cap space and because Shamet will have to hit shots to stick in the NBA. They then got a steal in SMU’s Shake Milton, who fell all the way to No. 54.

Atlanta Hawks: Travis Schlenk bet on his board by adding a first round pick to move down from three to five, eventually selecting Trae Young. Young has serious bust potential but also fits in perfectly with where the NBA is heading and has the chance to be the offensive engine for a successful team, something Atlanta sorely needs even with Dennis Schroder under contract for three more seasons and a Hawk for now. They also took rising guard Kevin Huerter at No. 19 and Villanova forward Omari Spellman at No. 30, both of whom could fit in with the new-look Hawks.

Orlando Magic: Mohamed Bamba is extremely on-brand for Weltman and Hammond, who frequently targeted physical freaks with Milwaukee. Bamba creates an overstuffed frontcourt with Jonathan Isaac and presumably Aaron Gordon already on the roster, but his defensive potential makes substantially more sense with Trae Young off the board. The front office then took long-armed Melvin Frazier, another capable defender who may make more sense on the 19-20 Magic than the current iteration, and long-armed Justin Jackson out of Maryland in the second round. 

Brooklyn Nets: Made a big move by clearing out Timofey Mozgov’s $16.7 million for 19-20 in exchange for Dwight Howard and two second round picks, then selected talented Croatian swingman Dzanan Musa at No. 29. The Nets are now players in 2019 free agency but it likely came at the price of their cap space this summer, when around $13 million could have gone a long way. Still worth it but losing that value hurts a little. They also added Latvian forward Rodions Kurucs, who looks like a stash at this point.

Indiana Pacers: Aaron Holiday is a fascinating pick since Indiana already has point guards on roster but both Darren Collison and Corey Joseph are on expiring contracts (Collison is actually only partially guaranteed) and Holiday could end up taking the reins soon enough. 

Charlotte Hornets: Picked up two second-round picks by moving down a single selection and taking Miles Bridges, who could be a part of their rotation and eventually step into a starting spot. Many expected a point guard here capable of backing up and eventually replacing Kemba Walker but a veteran makes more sense if they are going for a playoff berth. Trading Dwight Howard for Timofey Mozgov and another two seconds gives them breathing room under the luxury tax this season but at a significant cost as Mozgov will make $16.7 million in 2019-20 while Howard’s contract expires this season. Building an armada of second rounders was intriguing but they took Devonté Graham instead of some more talented players still on the board after moving up to No. 34.

Memphis Grizzlies: Jaren Jackson Jr. is a fascinating pick because he can be a talented two-way big man in time but plays the same position as Marc Gasol and will take some time to reach his potential. That said, he could be a key piece in the next great Memphis team, which could be further down the line than their owner expects. They also followed the grit and grind mold with guard Jevon Carter, whose defense made him a pick in the thirties. Memphis ended up with two good fits but may have missed the opportunity to get a future superstar in Trae Young.

Minnesota Timberwolves: Minnesota did not take a center, instead turning to swingman Josh Okogie who will need time to develop but has defensive potential that could benefit the Wolves long-term. The concern is whether he will be able to provide enough offensive value on a team that sometimes battles floor spacing issues. It was surprising to see Ohio State forward Keita Bates-Diop fall all the way to #48 but he is a great value pick.

Golden State Warriors: Selected physically talented perimeter defender Jacob Evans at No. 28, presumably with the idea of ending up with someone who can play against teams like the Rockets in high-pressure situations. They were surprisingly not able to buy a pick in the early second round, which could be more about potential trade partners than anything the Warriors did not do.

Enh Drafts

Detroit Pistons: Detroit sent their first to the Clippers in the Blake Griffin trade then acquired Creighton guard Khyri Thomas without giving up No. 42 so they were still able to take Miami guard Bruce Brown. The Pistons already owe their 2020 and 2022 second round picks so they paid a serious price for Thomas but he could end up helping them on the perimeter which they need for a potential playoff push without much financial flexibility.

Chicago Bulls: Wendell Carter Jr. is an intriguing center who can work next to Lauri Markkanen but he lacks star potential and the Bulls still do not have a true centerpiece and that will get harder to get unless they conserve cap space this summer. They then took Boise State swingman Chandler Hutchison at No. 22, who fits in with their front office’s preference for more seasoned collegians, but Hutchison blossomed and Chicago needs perimeter talent.

San Antonio Spurs: Lonnie Walker’s problems at Miami stemmed from translating his physical talent to on-court impact and the Spurs have the coaching staff to make that happen, though it could take time. His shot selection and defensive play were major concerns in college but are among the flaws that San Antonio has ironed out of other players. They then took talented center Chimezie Metu at No. 49 and he makes sense as a developmental big man who could fit in whenever San Antonio needs minutes down the line.

Oklahoma City Thunder: Oklahoma City did not have a first rounder due to the Enes Kanter trade then took Virginia guard Devon Hall at No. 53 and Texas forward Kevin Hervey at No. 57, both of whom are intriguing for where they were taken. They then traded for second-rounder Hamidou Diallo, another super-athletic wing who fits the Presti model to a T.

Milwaukee Bucks: Donte DiVincenzo is fascinating as a combo guard who can hit open shots and presumably defend both guard positions. He did not look like a true primary ballhandler but should not have to take on that burden with Giannis and Eric Bledsoe on the roster. 

Los Angeles Lakers: Mo Wagner’s ability to space the floor from the center spot is fascinating considering the Lakers’ lofty ambitions this summer as he could fit in some potent offensive lineups. That said, Robert Williams and De’Anthony Melton could be better low-cost fits for whoever they end up acquiring this July. They then chose German forward Isaac Bonga and Ukranian shooter Svi Mykhailiuk in the second, both of whom are interesting but not necessarily valuable pieces for the still-in-progress team. 

Utah Jazz: Took divisive Duke guard Grayson Allen, who is an intriguing fit next to Donovan Mitchell in certain alignments due to his shooting ability. The Jazz have talent and cap space over the next few years so there could be value in Allen even if he is more of a rotation player than starter but some strong prospects fell further than expected. 

New York Knicks: Kevin Knox has legit forward size and an intriguing jump shot but does not have the game of a No. 1 offensive option and struggled to impact the game outside of scoring at Kentucky, including some head-scratching defensive possessions. Mitchell Robinson has a sky-high ceiling but has not played competitive basketball in more than a year and that was Louisiana high school ball. 

Phoenix Suns: While taking someone physically gifted like Deandre Ayton may seem like the easy pick, it puts a lot on the shoulders of new coach Igor Kokoskov as they will need to develop him defensively and build an offensive system to maximize a big man, something which has become increasingly rare in the NBA. Ayton has a high ceiling but the number of seven-footers who are difference-makers on the league’s best team is dwindling. Giving up Miami’s 2021 first-rounder to move up six picks is shocking and likely an overpay, plus they are betting on Mikal Bridges defending opposing small forwards with Devin Booker entrenched at shooting guard. Phoenix moved up without trading the first pick in the second round so they took French point guard Elie Okobo at No. 31, a darling of the statistical models.

Portland Trail Blazers: Portland still needs forwards but took athletic reclassified guard Anfernee Simons at No. 24 who will likely need to grow into a role with the Blazers. Similarly, they took a chance on shooting in Gary Trent Jr, who is more of a shooting guard than small forward but makes sense next to either Lillard or McCollum.

New Orleans Pelicans: New Orleans traded their first-round pick to Chicago at the deadline then drafted Penn State guard Tony Carr at No. 51. Shake Milton in particular would have been a better choice but it is hard to rip a team for anyone taken that late.

Miami Heat: Miami did not have any picks.

Toronto Raptors: Toronto did not have any picks 

Bad Drafts

Washington Wizards: Troy Brown Jr. was a surprising pick with some higher ceiling players on the board, though he could step in as a rotation swingman in the near term. They then took stash Issuf Sanon at No. 44 with some talented players on the board and a need to add some young talent.

Los Angeles Clippers: They ended up with a remarkable opportunity with Michael Porter Jr. and other talented prospects falling to them at No. 12 and No. 13, but ended up using two seconds to move up one pick for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander before taking Jerome Robinson. Those two could end up being the Clippers’ backcourt of the future and may have made sense at those picks with the board falling differently but they missed an amazing and rare chance to build a high-ceiling young core on the fly without a single-digit pick. 

Cleveland Cavaliers: Collin Sexton is a truly fascinating pick because point guards always take time and the high-usage guard does not fit particularly well with LeBron James. While he certainly has potential, it will be hard for someone with Sexton’s court vision and passing ability to run one of the league’s best offenses and his defense was not strong at Alabama. Taking a risk with the more talented Michael Porter Jr would have made sense for their specific situation. 

Sacramento Kings: While there is a chance Marvin Bagley III works out due to his athleticism, he does not have a clear position defensively and struggled immensely on that end in his one collegiate season. Part of Sacramento’s problem over the last few years has been misreading the league landscape, drafting four big men in the previous three first rounds before Bagley. Sacramento then traded the rights to Gary Trent Jr. to Portland for two future second-rounders.