After years of “mock drafts,” and with the prognostication intensifying to levels exceeding 11 after the Draft Lottery was set last month, on Thursday evening, June 20th at The Barclay Center, the elites of the National Basketball Association gathered for the grand puba of the NBA off-season, The NBA Draft.
As in all years as the night unfolded, there were proud parents, both slick and hilariously bad sartorial choices by the soon-to-be-rookies, some Green Room Pain (we’re looking at you, Bol Bol, after that slide from potential Lottery Pick into the Second Round), and much intrigue.
We take a quick look at last night’s Draft Lottery, i.e., the first fourteen picks of the First Round:
1. Zion Williamson (Pelicans)
This was The Zion Williamson Draft. After bursting on the scene at Duke this year like some creature out of Space Jam, the 6’8” 285 lbs dunking machine, with deft court vision, he was the consensus top pick of the draft and perhaps the most hyped draftee of all time.
As we wrote previously, about Zion:
If you’ve been living under a rock, Zion Williamson is the one-and-done Duke freshman with the Charles Barkley build and the Dominique Wilkins hops. His dunks have been the stuff of internet highlight reels since his early teens. During his one season at Duke he showed that he is far more than that, displaying a great handle, tremendous second-jump rebounding skills, terrific shot-blocking abilities, and solid court vision. He is the most consensus Number One draft pick to come along in a while.
Now he takes his talents to New Orleans. The Pelicans turned former number one pick and franchise star, Anthony Davis, into a Herschel Walker Trade-type haul of talent when they traded him to Los Angeles. In steps Zion to lead the franchise out of darkness. Except their GM said not to say that. But everyone will.
Should be exciting to see what Zion can do at the next level, with a young talented cast around him.
2. Ja Morant (Grizzlies)
Ja’s mouth-watering athleticism and relentless drive remind many of Russell Westbrook. The Grizz traded away their franchise point guard, Mike Conley, Jr., to make room for Ja. Out with the old, and in with the new is a big theme!
One of the best moments of the Draft, was Ja and his Dad:
“He made me who I am today, and I’m just thankful for it all.”
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) June 21, 2019
Also, his Dad wins hands-down for Flyest Dad at the Draft. No one close. I want to see him and Walt Clyde Frazier hanging out, just being fly together. (SEGUE!)
3. RJ Barrett (Knicks)
The Knicks (a) had a draft pick; and (b) didn’t screw it up. That made last night the best draft night for Knicks fans in the past decade.
RJ Barrett might just turn out to be the best player in this draft. Knicks fans are hoping for a Penny Hardaway-type player with a dash of Tracy McGrady. And he’s Canadian, eh! (This pick kicked off a banner night for O’ Canada in this year’s draft.)
But most importantly, he wants to be in NY and NY wanted him:
Yo! He’s a Knick!
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) June 21, 2019
The Knicks now add Barrett to their young core – hey the Knicks actually have a young core! – of Kevin Knox, Mitchell Robinson, Alonzo Trier, and Dennis Smith, Jr. They also have the salary room to pull down two max free agents.
Are times looking up in NYC? Probably not, but let us Knicks fans dare to dream.
4. De’Andre Hunter (Hawks via Lakers)
There was a big fall-off in sure-thing-ness after the Big Three. Hunter, who led the Virginia Cavs to an NCAA title, is scooped up next by the Hawks, who later added Duke’s Cam Reddish as well.
Some think Hunter is “the next Kawhi Leonard.” Others, well, don’t.
We shall see.
5. Darius Garland (Cavs)
The mystery point guard from Vandy who missed most of the season is nabbed – in an odd choice – by Cleveland. The Cavs drafted a point guard, Collin Sexton (LOVE his hair and his jets), in the Lottery last year. So?
It’s proving harder to win in Cleveland without LeBron James. They have a long way to go.
6. Jarrett Culver (Timberwolves via Suns)
The T-Wolves bilked the Suns out of the 6 pick, giving up the 11th pick and Dario Saric to move up to draft Texas Tech’s Culver, who showed big-time in the NCAA tournament and improved throughout college. He’s a versatile two-way player that many were high on.
7. Coby White (Bulls)
Best hair in this draft, bar none. If we were drafting based on hair, he’d have gone before Zion.
New favorite sports rivalry: Coby White’s hair VS the Bulls hat trying desperately to stay on his head pic.twitter.com/vU5B2ckF6V
— Bode (@NickBode41) June 21, 2019
Also has a great game and showed as a leader, scorer, slasher and shooter at UNC. Nice pick-up by the Bulls here.
He also gave us this real nice moment with Coby on the podium when he saw his teammate Cam Johnson get drafted by the Suns a few picks later:
Best backstage moment of the NBA Draft: Coby White (Picked 7th) is talking when his UNC teammate Cam Johnson gets picked 11th. pic.twitter.com/OAbMl7BbFB
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) June 21, 2019
8. Jaxson Hayes (Pelicans via Hawks)
If we’re being honest here – and we are! – I don’t know a lot about this guy. But he’s an athletic big, who now has the opportunity to play alongside Zion.
The coolest thing about Jaxson is his fully embracing the Sideshow Bob look:
Our favorite thing tonight? @hayes_jaxson‘s Sideshow Bob necklace. 👀👀👀
— NBA on ESPN Radio (@NBAonESPNRadio) June 21, 2019
At the draft, he was rocking a Sideshow Bob necklace and shoes.
The man’s Instagram handle is @SideshowJax.
If nothing else, Jaxson is showing some serious NBA social-media game. Bonus if he can play.
9. Rui Hachimura (Wizards)
Great story with Rui Hachimura, the hard-working big-man out of Gonzaga. When the Wizards selected him at #9, he became the first Japanese-born player to be drafted in the NBA Lottery.
Rui Hachimura is the first Japanese-born player to be drafted in the first round of the #NBADraft!
This one’s for you, Japan 🇯🇵 pic.twitter.com/Tu6K2Syujf
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) June 21, 2019
Projections for Rui were all over the place. Some had him as a Lottery pick. Others felt he was more of a late first rounder. Washington was high on him. Should be interesting to see how this one turns out. High character kid.
10. Cam Reddish (Hawks)
Cam Reddish becomes Duke’s third freshman to be drafted in the top ten of this draft. The highly touted Reddish did not have a great year at Duke. Should be interesting to see if he finds his stroke and his killer instinct in The Association alongside Tre Young in Atlanta.
THE REST OF THE LOTTERY:
11. Cameron Johnson (Suns via Timberwolves)
12. PJ Washington (Hornets)
13. Tyler Herro (Heat)
14. Romeo Langford (Celtics via Sixers in 2017)
All four come from great programs – UNC, Kentucky x 2, and Indiana. Cam Johnson, a knock-down shooter, PJ Washington, a “swiss army knife,” and combo-guard shot-makers Tyler Herro and Romeo Langford.
Our favorite, just for the look, so far has to be Herro:
After all, in 2019-2020, we all just might need a Herro.
Photo Credit: Twitter/