NBA Draft 2019: The best and worst picks of the first round
The NBA Draft is a gamble.
Players who everyone is convinced are going to be good (Greg Oden, Markelle Fultz, Jahlil Okafor) sometimes are not. Whether that is because of fit or injury or whatever, sometimes things just do not work out.
But no matter what happens, after every draft people leave loving what their team secured or flat-out hating it.
So, what did we love and flat-out hate from the first round of this draft? Oh, there was plenty.
#RIPCity I'm ready for ya! Ready to hit the ground running. Check out my first #PaniniInstant @NBA card now. #WhoDoYouCollect @TrailBlazers https://t.co/580qqtqS84 pic.twitter.com/Iiz0gZrjWF
— Nassir Little (@2ez_nassie) June 21, 2019
Here are the best and worst picks from the first round of the NBA Draft.
Cameron Johnson, North Carolina, Phoenix Suns - No. 11 overall
This is nothing against Johnson. He is a long athlete who can shoot the ball like crazy and he is a mature player who can contribute right away. But the Suns do not need someone to contribute right away. They are probably, at least, three years away. And they traded another piece in TJ Warren before the draft even started, so they took an even further move back.
What makes this even worse is the Suns actually traded down from sixth to take Johnson at number 11. They had a shot to take Texas Tech's Jarrett Culver, who is younger, a fantastic defender and fits the Suns' timeline. Phoenix probably could have secured Johnson eight or nine picks later. And, if they could not and another team took him with the 12th pick, then they should have let them, because the value was not right. The Suns' decision here does not make a lot of sense.
Chuma Okeke, Auburn, Orlando Magic - No. 16 overall
Okeke is athletic, he can shoot and he gives tons of effort. But he just tore his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and had surgery in April. He will likely be out for the entire season, and if the Magic lose Nikola Vucevic in free agency, it could be an insanely rough season in Orlando.
Orlando finally took a step forward last season by reaching the playoffs and adding a player who could contribute sooner like Nickeil Alexander-Walker out of Virginia Tech or Brandon Clarke out of Gonzaga might have both filled needs and given more immediate production. Terrence Ross could leave in free agency, as well, and Alexander-Walker could have helped that loss while Clarke would step in to fill a bit of a void left by Vucevic, even if he does not have that kind of size. This one just seems like it was not thought out all the way.
Grant Williams, Tennessee, Boston Celtics - No. 22 overall
This one is actually kind of on the line of the Cameron Johnson pick. Williams was probably taken a little bit too early. He is a bit of a polarising prospect who some ranked as high as 15 on their big boards but others saw him closer to the late first round or even early second. So, the argument could be made the Celtics reached a little bit here.
But, Williams is just too perfect for the Celtics to dislike the pick. He is a hard worker who excels on the offensive boards and gets more out of his smaller frame than just about anyone in this draft. Brad Stevens will absolutely love this guy. And, he is a better shooter than people give him credit for, which also fills a need for Boston. The Celtics need shooting and Williams gives them that. It is really hard to dislike this pick.
Nassir Little, North Carolina, Portland Trail Blazers - No. 25 overall
It did not make much sense that Little fell to the 25th pick but the Trail Blazers could not care less. This is easy to write as Little was one of the top recruits in the 2018 class and has one of the highest ceilings in this entire draft.
He logically could step in and give the Trail Blazers huge minutes right away and shoots more than well enough to help the team space the floor. He has also already shown in his time at North Carolina that he does not always have to have the ball and is humble enough to take a lesser role for the betterment of the team. Portland have to be absolutely over the moon after getting Little. And, the Trail Blazers did not even have to trade up to do it.