The 2019 NBA Draft was full of trades, clearing cap space and shockingly, the New York Knicks did the correct thing. A wild night all around. The first three picks went as planned and then chaos immediately ensued.
Here are the 4 biggest winners and losers of the 2019 NBA Draft:
1. New Orleans Pelicans
Duh. Do I need to explain this one? New Orleans had the best night.
They drafted a once in a generation talent after trading away a once in a generation talent a week earlier. Fortunately for them, the NBA rigged the lottery to give them the first pick in a draft that had Zion Williamson in it.
Not only did they grab Zion but they were able to re-trade that No. 4 overall pick that they received from Los Angeles Lakers over to Atlanta for the No. 8, No. 17 and Solomon Hill, which was a $12 million salary dump.
The Pelicans have freed up the salary cap space that the Lakers thought they were freeing up. Lololol.
2. Memphis Grizzlies
I promise you this list isn’t going to just be me going down the draft order and calling every team a winner but Memphis took two out of the top 10 projected players with the No. 2 pick and the No. 21 pick.
Ja Morant and Brandon Clarke join Jaren Jackson Jr and right away, you have yourself what we in the industry call a ‘young core’. If they choose to keep Jae Crowder and Kyle Korver on their roster then this team suddenly becomes watchable because man, last year this was a G-League team full of players whose jerseys you couldn’t even purchase at the arena.
3. Portland Trailblazers
Nassir Little was projected to be drafted before Zion heading into the season. Uh, clearly some things changed over the course of the year but it’s still absurd that Little fell far enough done for Portland to select him at No. 25.
The second he walks into day one of practice, the 6-foot-7 small forward is instantly the third best player on a team that played in the Western Conference Finals.
Al-Farouq Aminu is cool or whatever but he scored 14 points in a 4 game sweep to the Warriors. Throw Nassir Little on the wing and he’ll average 14 a game minimum.
Shout out to Rui Hachimura representing the Rising Sun and the Far East. Japan finally gets some NBA love as the Washington Wizards use their lottery pick to select the forward out of Gonzaga.
Here’s the problem, the Wizards front office is a fucking mess and the team didn’t work out or even meet Rui before selecting him. Washington is the worst organization in the NBA.
But Japan thooooo.
And now, onto the Losers…
1. Danny Ainge
How do I properly articulate this without just laughing and saying how dumb Boston is over and over again?
Last season, the critical flaw of the Boston Celtics was the very simple ‘there’s only one basketball’ cliche. Danny Ainge put together a roster of guys who essentially not only all play the same position but all have a very similar playing style.
Jayson Tatum, Terry Rozier, Jaylen Brown and Gordon Hayward all needed the ball in their hands to get themselves going and they were all eating each other alive for playing time.
On top of that, Kyrie Irving was playing keep away with the ball and chucking up the worst shot attempts ever only to blame the rest of the team for not being on his level.
I say all of this to say that instead of replacing Kyrie with a point guard like Mike Conley or drafting a big man to replace Al Horford, the Celtics doubled-down on ball-dominant scorers.
Danny Ainge drafted Romeo Langford and traded for Carsen Edwards.
Danny Ainge is treating his roster like he caught the Boston Celtics smoking ball-dominant shoot-first perimeter players and is punishing the Boston Celtics by forcing them to smoke the entire pack of ball-dominant shoot-first perimeter players.
2. Phoenix Suns
I didn’t watch many of their games and I’m not going to look it up but I’m fairly certain the Suns went 0-82 last season. Night after night they took L’s. But the 2019 NBA Draft was supposed the light at the end of the tunnel.
Anddd then they drafted Cameron Johnson. Fun fact: Cam Johnson is older than Devin Booker, the Suns star shooting guard WHO IS ALREADY ON HIS SECOND CONTRACT.
Dear NBA teams, don’t waste lottery picks on old ass 4-year seniors who weren’t good enough to leave after their freshman, sophomore or junior season.
Oh, they also traded for Aron Baynes so the Phoenix Suns tanked for geriatric Cam Johnson and Arron fucking Baynes. Yikes.
3. John Beilein
I will never shame a person for moving up the career ladder. Unless you’re a guy like Coach K or John Calipari, there’s a real ceiling for college basketball coaches and if John Beilein thought he reached his maximum output at Michigan and saw an opportunity to coach in the NBA then round of applause.
Unfortunately, he’ll be fired the second Darius Garland and Collin Sexton step on the floor at the same time, miss every single pull-up jumper and get beat off the dribble every single defensive position.
4. Kentucky Basketball
Oh, fuck off.