The draft was a fun spectacle this year. All the way from the introductions of the players with their families to the interviews Maria Taylor did after each pick the draft delivered for ESPN but which teams come out of the draft in the best shape with an exciting future, or even which players came out happiest.
In a draft which was viewed as a three man draft, which draft classes were the best,
Winners of the draft
Hawks— Deandre Hunter, Cam Reddish, Bruno Fernando
The Hawks are absolutely one of the teams to watch for the future. The team has gone from being the worst team in the East in 2017-2018 to being one of the most promising teams in the league.
After the draft, they now have a young core of:
- Deandre Hunter
- Cam Reddish
- Trae Young
- John Collins
- Kevin Huerter
- Bruno Fernando
Of the group, amazingly only Deandre Hunter and John Collins are 21 while the rest of the bunch are younger. Certainly with such a young team there will be growing pains but in a weak East, they can definitely compete for a playoff spot and maybe win one or two games.
The blueprint for the Hawks is undoubtedly to build around their budding star Trae Young, and it is starting to take shape. Hunter and Reddish are really nice complimentary players for Young as he runs the offense and shows off his stellar playmaking ability.
A move which did not seem like much earlier in the month for the 17th pick with the Nets paid out nicely as they turned the 8th and 17th pick for the 4th pick which turned into Deandre Hunter and in keeping the tenth pick grabbed a really solid shooter in Cam Reddish who will be allowed to grow and expand his game in Atlanta.
The plan in Atlanta is to build around PG Trae Young and they are doing just that. The extremely young Hawks team truly set themselves up nicely long term with this draft.
Pelicans– Zion Williamson, Jaxson Hayes, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Marcos Louzada Silva,
As head coach Alvin Gentry put it, “that’s a haul, folks”
In reference to the shirt Anthony Davis wore in his final game at the Smoothie King center, Gentry sure got the most out of AD in a deal.
The Pelicans eventually turned Anthony Davis into:
- Brandon Ingram
- Josh Hart
- Lonzo Ball
- Jaxson Hayes
- Nickeil Alexander-Walker
This are just the picks from this year’s draft. The trade brought in a ton more assets and of course, the lottery worked out nicely for the Pelicans and landed them the big fish in Zion Williamson who is pretty good at basketball.
If the Pelicans had only come away with Zion from this draft they would still absolutely be winners but they were now equipped with the fourth pick in the draft in the AD trade and struck a deal with the Hawks for the 8th and 17th picks landing them both Jaxson Hayes and Nickeil Alexander-Walker.
Jaxson Hayes fills a role that the Pelicans badly needed which was someone who is a true 5, while Alexander-Walker will have to come off the bench with Ball and Holiday, presumably manning the backcourt.
Grizzlies– Ja Morant, Brandon Clarke
At 2, they grab their franchise point guard of the future in Ja Morant. Ja Morant overtook RJ Barrett for the slot of the second best player in the draft to Zion after averaging 24 and 10 and absolutely destroying Marquette with a triple double in the first round of the NCAA tournament. After trading away longtime starting point guard Mike Conley Jr., the Grizzlies will be run through and by Morant.
Drafting Ja Morant, now pairs their top five pick from a year ago in Jaren Jackson Jr. with a star point guard. Morant and Jackson should be a really nice duo for years to come after Jackson had a promising rookie campaign. Morant’s incredible vision and playmaking should help Jackson’s progression and continue to build a future in Memphis.
Memphis was not done yet after making a trade at 21 with OKC for Brandon Clarke who showed off his all around game at Gonzaga this past year. The forward was expected to be the first Bulldog off the board but to the surprise lasted until 21. The Grizzlies are getting the steal of the draft in Clarke who is a great defender, relentless rebounder and can finish in a variety of ways at the rim. Clarke will need to expand his range but his energy and tough defense should carve out a nice role for himself in Memphis.
This one is simple.
The 19 year old RJ Barrett only worked out for one team in the pre draft process, and that was the New York Knicks. Barrett even went as far as to put on the Knicks in a skit on Jimmy Fallon prior to the draft. His dream of playing in the biggest market would come true and Barrett was picked at 3.
The young phenom is going to the team he was hell bent on being selected to and he will be given all the opportunity in the world to be the star of the franchise. After dealing away disgruntled star Kristaps Porzingis, this will very clearly be RJ Barrett’s team.
With not much talent around outside of Dennis Smith, MItchell Robinson, and Kevin Knox he’ll have all the opportunity to blossom. The Knicks fans for the first time in recent memory welcomed the pick with open arms, but will RJ deliver ?