After the most telegraphed top 3 picks in recent memory, the rest of the NBA draft for 2019 was completely up in the air.
Kevin Porter Jr slipping to the last pick in the first round, Cam Johnson jumping up to the 11th spot and the Celtics seeming to completely whiff each of their picks.
Despite all this, who exactly won the draft? I’ve narrowed it down to the three teams that I thought used draft day to help advance their team.
3. Indiana Pacers
Indiana only had one pick in the first round, taking Goga Bitadze out of Georgia. It wasn’t their pick that put them at the third spot for me, it was a trade made with Phoenix, acquiring T.J. Warren and the 32nd overall pick (eventually flipping the 32nd pick for three second round draft picks from Miami) in exchange for cash, that got them that spot.
As was pointed out before their draft pick, Indiana has two holes on their roster: a starting point guard and a small forward to provide them with a bit of scoring to ease the load of Victor Oladipo (when he eventually returns from injury).
With Bogdanović entering free agency as an unrestricted free agent, acquiring T.J. Warren to become their starting small forward allows them to save some money and adds some youth, Warren being 4 years younger than Bogdanović. Without having to give anything up in exchange, Indiana are now poised to make a move at D’Angelo Russell to help make a move up the ladder in the East.
2. New Orleans Pelicans
No need to overthink this one.
Despite what I thought was a puzzling pick taking Jaxon Hayes, a pick and roll big man that took 3 jump shots in his entire college career, drafting Zion is the best thing that could’ve possibly happened to NOLA.
Zion has an Anthony Davis-sized hole to fill on this Pelicans roster, but with their recently acquired assets from the Lakers and the much-improved front office for the Pelicans, make sure to watch out for Pelicans this season!
NOLA would’ve won the draft if it had not been for the Jaxon Hayes pick. Despite his vast improvement from high school to college, Hayes does not provide Zion with much spacing around the rim. While he will operate well out of the pick-and-roll with Lonzo Ball handling the PG spot, it will be hard offensively to pair Zion and Hayes next to each other.
Despite this, make sure you tune in to the Pelicans’ games whenever they pop up on League Pass, it’s gonna be fun.
1. Memphis Grizzlies
After moving Mike Conley to Utah, Memphis’ grit-and-grind era has officially ended.
And Grizzlies fans could not be more excited.
Ja Morant has been given the keys to this new era of the Grizzlies. His passing ability is unrivalled in this draft, his athleticism is unreal for his size and pairing him with JJJ will do wonders for the boys in Tennessee.
However, Ja wasn’t the only positive for Memphis. Brandon Clarke was an absolute steal for them, taking him 21st after acquiring the pick from Oklahoma City. The 22-year old Gonzaga forward tore it up in his lone season with the Bulldogs. Helping lead the ‘Zags to the Elite Eight, Clarke averaged 18.9 points and 8.6 rebounds.
With a very trustworthy third offensive option for the Grizzlies in Clarke, and some defensive flexibility both around the rim and on the perimeter, Memphis have really taken full advantage of this draft.
Forgive me for using the most overused phrase on draft day, but a new era has been ushered in in Memphis. And for that, they have my number 1 spot.