Some crushed it and some got crushed in what was yet another exciting draft night for the NBA.
This draft really put a dent in the tropes of traditional masculinity after Zion Williamson, Ja Morant, and RJ Barrett—the first three picks—all shared tears of joy with their families after being selected. Happy crying after accomplishing something is undefeated in the realm of tears, and also just one of the very coolest things to observe as a sports fan. Those three young men had just taken their first steps into a new journey with tremendous expectation and unimaginable pressure, and the little moments they got to spend with their families to soak it all in was something to admire. It showed maturity; an awareness of how much they’ve accomplished and how far they can continue to go—all good signs for the Pelicans, Grizzlies, and Knicks.
It’s hard to find positives about the direction the Suns organization is heading, unless of course you are a fan of a team running itself into the ground, in which case the Suns are actually doing great and should be very proud of their efforts. Last year they passed on the chance to draft a generational talent in Luka Doncic and this year didn’t get much better: They traded away TJ Warren (one of their only productive players) and then their 6th spot to drop down to the 11th spot, where they took Cam Johnson. If you haven’t heard of him, don’t kick yourself—nobody had him as a projected lottery pick. He’s 23 (older than Devin Booker, who’s already been in the league 3 years, just for reference) with a good jump shot and decent athleticism. Eh. Just look at the astonishment of his own college teammate, Coby White, at hearing how high he was drafted. It gets worse: Coby White, a potential remedy to the Suns’ perpetual point guard woes, would have still been on the board if the Suns had stayed with the 6th pick. Yikes.
The Pelicans were always going to be winners drafting Zion Williamson, arguably the most exciting draft prospect since LeBron James. But what they did in addition to that is what makes their draft night such a success: They were able to flip the 4th pick (acquired from the Lakers in the Anthony Davis trade) into the 8th and 17th pick, ultimately landing Jaxson Hayes and Nickiel Alexander-Walker. This was an incredibly smart move from the Pelicans when you consider that this was a 3-man draft with a huge drop off in star power after that, so the difference in talent from the 4th to the 8th or even the 17th pick was pretty negligible. They turned one pick into two very likely solid NBA contributors and even dumped Solomon Hill’s albatross contract in the process. A+ night from the Pelicans.
Loser: Bol Bol
It was downright sad watching this 7’2 sharpshooter, once a projected top-5 pick and wearing this $100,000 suit, drop out of the lottery, then out of the first round, and all the way down to the 44th pick. Son of Manute Bol, former 7’6 NBA goliath, Bol Bol has exceptional skill for his size and is a huge-upside guy. His slight frame makes him very injury prone, but it was surprising watching team after team pass on him, even into the second round—the place where you’re supposed to take risks. He ultimately landed with the Nuggets, a good spot where he will be able to learn from another skilled big in Jokic. If he can turn all that potential into reality he’ll turn each team that passed him up into the true 2019 draft losers.
Winner: Business Casual
This night was a big step for those of us who don’t like wearing ties. The first two picks of the draft—literally the most important players of the evening taking on the most important moment in their lives—decided not to even bother wearing a tie. If Zion and Ja
can do it, and still look great, so can we. NBA Draft fashion has come a long way since these body-swallowing balloon suits, and we’re all here for it. Business casual, baby.
Loser: Marvin Bagley
It didn’t actually have anything to do with the draft, but Marvin Bagley took the biggest L of the night. After foolishly taking Max Kellerman's bait on First Take and challenging Damian Lillard to a rap battle, Dame took all of a few hours to release this scorching diss track. Bagley ended up releasing a pretty strong response, but Dame is the unquestioned king of NBA rappers and it was always going to take something way more than that to dethrone him. Rookie mistake.