The first few months of the 2019-20 NBA season were pretty bleak for the rookie class. Zion Williamson sat out with an injury. Ja Morant was banged up and still adjusting to his inability to dunk on everyone (although he certainly tried!). Darius Garland was making headlines for having one of the worst defensive ratings in NBA history. It looked like this class could end up being one of the more disappointing in recent memory.
A couple months later, the narrative changed dramatically. Zion looks like a future MVP. Morant is playing so well that the freaking Grizzlies could make the playoffs in the Western Conference. And Tyler Herro is a key contributor on a surprisingly great Heat team. Now the draft class seems destined to be one of the more memorable in recent years.
Not every rookie is enjoying a second-half surge, however. Big-time prospects RJ Barrett, Garland and Jarrett Culver have struggled, leading some to wonder whether they should have been drafted as high as they were in the lottery.
Well, you know what that means, right? It’s time for a redraft of the 2019 NBA Draft!
(NOTE: If applicable, the actual teams players were drafted by appear in parenthesis.)
1. PELICANS | Actual pick: Zion Williamson | Redraft: Williamson
As spectacular as Morant has been this season, selecting Williamson with the first overall pick is still an absolute no-brainer for the Pelicans. In 13 games, Williamson is averaging 23.3 points and 7.1 rebounds and shooting 57.3 percent from the field. He’s already one of the more impactful players in the league. Perhaps most importantly, Zion will always be worth the price of admission.
2. GRIZZLIES | Actual: Ja Morant | Redraft: Morant
No-brainer here, too. Morant is the same type of athletic freak as Williamson, only he plays point guard instead of forward. He’s played so well –- 17.5 points, 6.8 assists and 3.4 rebounds per game –- that he has the Grizzlies in pole position for the eighth seed in the brutal Western Conference.
3. KNICKS | Actual: RJ Barrett | Redraft: Barrett
The Knicks face the first major dilemma in the redraft: Do they stick with Barrett and his awesome pre-NBA pedigree? Or do they take a guard (Tyler Herro) who can light up Madison Square Garden? Herro has played better than Barrett, but RJ still has more potential to be a star. Plus, it’s unfair to penalize Barrett too much for being stuck in a crappy situation with a terrible coach and horrendously constructed roster.
4. HAWKS (via Lakers, Pelicans) |Actual: De’Andre Hunter | Redraft: Tyler Herro
Hunter has played well and will be a nice role player for the Hawks. But Herro (Heat) is the redraft choice because of his offensive upside (13.1 ppg. on 39 percent three-point shooting). He’s far from a perfect fit alongside Trae Young (arguably the worst defender in the NBA), but you prioritize for talent over positional need this high in the draft. At the very least, Herro will be an explosive sixth man for the majority of his career.
5. CAVALIERS | Actual: Darius Garland | Redraft: Brandon Clarke
Although Garland has shown a little offensive potential, his porous defense and redundancy with Collin Sexton make for a bad combination. The Cavs should instead take Clarke (Thunder), who has a chance to become the second coming of Shawn Marion. Clarke, now with the Grizzlies, is already an advanced statistics monster -– he has a plus-18 net rating per 100 possessions! Plus, he’s the type of player who doesn’t need a babysitter (unlike most of the Cavs).
6. TIMBERWOLVES (via Suns) | Actual: Jarrett Culver | Redraft: Sekou Doumbouya
Had the T’Wolves known they were going to be one of the worst teams in the NBA, they probably would have swung for the fences with this pick on Doumbouya (Pistons) instead of taking Culver, who has limited upside. Doumbouya is still raw (6.7 ppg., 3.3 rpg.), but is active and moves well enough to have a Pascal Siakam-type upside. Hey, Siakam only averaged 4.2 ppg. and 3.4 rpg. as a rookie, so there’s always a chance.
7. BULLS | Actual: Coby White | Redraft: De’Andre Hunter
Hindsight being 20/20, the Bulls would probably grab Hunter (Hawks) with the seventh pick and trade Otto Porter, whose stock has done a complete 180 this season. Hunter’s averaging a very solid 12.3 ppg. and 4.2 rpg. and shooting 34 percent from three. Chicago obviously sees something in White, but Hunter offers too much stability for an unstable team to pass on for a young, often erratic, shoot-first guard.
8. PELICANS (via Hawks) | Actual: Jaxson Hayes | Redraft: Hayes
The Pelicans clearly wanted Hayes to help protect Zion so Williamson wouldn’t have to log so many minutes at the five. Hayes (7.7 ppg., 4.1 rpg., 1.0 bpg. in only 17.4 mpg.) has played well enough to justify that selection in the redraft. Hayes should at least develop into a JaVale McGee-like big man, but he has the upside to be much more.
9. WIZARDS | Actual: Rui Hachimura | Redraft: Hachimura
Considered a bit of a reach at No. 9 on draft night, Hachimura has more than justified the Wizards’ selection by averaging 13.9 ppg. and 5.9 rpg. in 34 games. Hachimura has NBA athleticism and a knack for putting the ball in the cup. While it’d be tempting to snag one of the guards who have fallen in the redraft, the Wizards clearly saw something in the former Gonzaga star on draft night.
10. HAWKS | Actual: Cam Reddish | Redraft: PJ Washington
As well as Reddish has been playing in recent weeks, in the redraft, where the Hawks took an offensive-minded player (Herro) at No. 4 instead of Hunter, Atlanta must go a sure thing: Washington (Hornets). He would give the Hawks a solid forward who can stretch the floor on offense (11.8 points and 38 percent from three), defend threes and fours on defense and rebound a little bit (5.5 rpg.).
11. SUNS (via T’Wolves) | Actual: Cameron Johnson | Redraft: Darius Garland
We’re seeing how unstoppable Devin Booker can be with a real NBA point guard playing alongside him this season. So why not get him a young point guard in Garland (Cavaliers), who can learn from Ricky Rubio for a couple of years and then be ready to contribute when Booker is in his absolute prime? Garland, who still has loads of potential, lands in a much healthier situation in the redraft (which is saying something because Phoenix has not been a good franchise in recent years).
12. HORNETS | Actual: PJ Washington | Redraft: Jarrett Culver
Culver (Timberwolves) is the best player on the board at this point, and given Charlotte’s pathetic state, it shouldn’t be worried about the logjam it has in its backcourt. Culver has been just OK, averaging 9.1 points and posting ugly 39-29-46 shooting splits. Fortunately for the Hornets, some of those struggles probably have to do more with the situation in Minnesota than people realize, because Culver has the tools to be a good two-way player.
13. HEAT| Actual: Tyler Herro | Redraft: Coby White
The Heat don’t get the steal they got in Herro, but snagging White (Bulls), who has scored 33, 33 and 35 points in the past three games, isn’t a bad consolation. Sure, White will drive coach Erik Spoelstra crazy with his shot selection from time to time, but Spo coached Dion Waiters for more than three seasons with some serious success. He’ll have much more time to mold White, who turned 20 recently.
14. CELTICS | Actual: Romeo Langford | Redraft: Matisse Thybulle
Though Langford has flashed potential, especially on defense, I think they’d rather have Thybulle (76ers) giving them 20 minutes of elite defense every night. Thybulle is already one of the best, most versatile defenders in the NBA. He’s even knocking down 36 percent of his three-pointers and should be an elite three-and-D if he continues to develop his jump shot.
15. PISTONS | Actual: Sekou Doumbouya | Redraft: Cam Reddish
It’s been a tale of two seasons for Reddish (Hawks), but if the Pistons are lucky, his past 16 games indicate that he could be a good player –- perhaps even better than Doumbouya -– in a few years. In his first 35 games, Reddish was arguably the worst player in the league, averaging 8.0 points with 32-26-77 shooting splits in 25.7 minutes per game! His past 16 games? He’s up to 13.3 points with 42-37-87 shooting splits, and having a greater impact on defense.
16. MAGIC | Actual: Chuma Okeke | Redraft: Kevin Porter Jr.
On draft night, the Magic was content with ignoring their below-average backcourt and selecting a “redshirt” forward in the injured Okeke. Here to fix that for Orlando is Porter Jr. (Cavaliers). Yes, he had some red flags coming into the draft, but he’s shown that he’s worth the risk in Cleveland, averaging 14.8 points on 49-49-71 shooting splits the past 10 games. His 30-point, eight-rebound explosion in a comeback win against the Heat earlier this week gave fans a glimpse of his JR Smith-type microwave potential as a scorer -– something the Magic could desperately use.
17. PELICANS (via Nets, Hawks) | Actual: Nickeil Alexander-Walker | Redraft: Terence Davis
As much as I like NAW, until he learns to shoot, he’s going to be redundant with Lonzo Ball, and that’s not what the Pelicans need to be surrounding Zion with. Instead, they need three-and-D floor spacers. Enter: undrafted (how!?!) rookie Davis. He is damn near a member of the 50-40-90 Club this season with 47-42-89 shooting splits in 58 games.
18. PACERS | Actual: Goga Bitadze | Redraft: Goga Bitadze
The Pacers drafted Bitadze with the plan to play him sparingly this season and eventually have him replace Myles Turner or Domantas Sabonis if the team chooses to move one of the two. I’m not going to mess with that plan. The team has one of the deeper rosters in the NBA, so finding an impact rookie at this point in the redraft is unlikely. Give them Goga, and let the Pacers develop him at his own pace (he’s only playing 8.7 minutes per game this season).
19. SPURS | Actual: Luka Samanic | Redraft: Chuma Okeke
Gregg Popovich generally doesn’t give rookies much run, so this pick was destined to be a draft-and-stash player regardless of whom they went with. In the redraft, the Spurs select the injured Okeke (Magic), who was a potential lottery pick before tearing his ACL in the NCAA Tournament. He is an ideal small-ball forward. Okeke was also ranked ahead of Samanic in most, if not all, pre-draft rankings.
20. 76ERS (via Celtics) | Actual: Matisse Thybulle | Redraft: Cameron Johnson
The Sixers aren’t fortunate enough to have Thybulle slip to them in the redraft; however, they are able to address their abysmal shooting woes by selecting Johnson, a sharpshooter who is hitting 40 percent of his threes for the Suns. Though the rest of his skill set is limited, Johnson’s sweet stroke would open up room to operate for Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, which is exactly what Philly so desperately needs.
21. GRIZZLIES (via Thunder) | Actual: Brandon Clarke | Redraft: Eric Paschall
Sorry, Grizz, but teams won’t be stupid enough to let Clarke slide outside the top five this time. Instead, Memphis must settle for a different college veteran in Paschall (Warriors). He came out of the gates hot this season, scoring 17.3 ppg. during his first 21 games. Though he’s hit a rookie wall since, he still projects to be a solid contributor off the bench for a playoff team, which is all you can hope for this late in the first round.
22. CELTICS | Actual: Grant Williams | Redraft: Romeo Langford
Fortunately for the Celtics, the player they drafted at No. 14 in reality is still available in the redraft at No. 22. Langford’s athleticism and huge wingspan give him a floor as a decent rotation player, and his high school pedigree makes you wonder if he can develop into a high-level starter. Danny Ainge would be much more pleased with his redraft than he would his actual draft because he’s effectively trading Williams for Thybulle.
23. THUNDER (via Grizzlies, Jazz) | Actual: Darius Bazley |Redraft: Nickeil Alexander-Walker
Let’s have a little fun with this redraft and have the Thunder pair Alexander-Walker (Pelicans) with his cousin, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. While Bazley has a little more size and potential to be a star than NAW, NAW plays with the same kind of herky-jerky rhythm and flow his cousin plays with, and it should work once he figures how to improve his 34-34-61 shooting splits.
24. SUNS (via Celtics, 76ers) | Actual: Ty Jerome | Redraft: Darius Bazley
Already equipped with their point guard of the future in this redraft (Garland), the Suns select the player with the highest upside remaining on the draft board in Bazley (Thunder). He is 19 and extremely raw (4.5 ppg., 3.7 rpg.), but he has the athleticism to hang in the league. I was surprised he went in the first round on draft night, but he clearly belongs.
25. TRAIL BLAZERS | Actual: Nassir Little | Redraft: Little
Unfortunately for the injury-plagued Blazers, there aren’t any players left in the redraft pool who could help save their season. Thus, selecting Little again in the redraft makes the most sense -– he was a highly-touted high school prospect who got caught behind upperclassmen in his only year at UNC. Little is long, athletic, and was considered a bit of a steal this late in the draft in June.
26. CAVALIERS | Actual: Dylan Windler | Redraft: Grant Williams
Knowing what we know now about how the
Sluggs Cavs’ 2019-20 season would unfold, the redraft is focusing on maturity. The Cavs have done a disservice to their youngsters (Garland, Porter Jr.) this season by allowing Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson and others to act like asses because of their disdain for former coach John Beilein. Grabbing Brandon Clarke at No. 5 and another mature player in Williams (Celtics) in the redraft wouldn’t have helped the Cavs this season, but the organization wouldn’t have to be worried that Clarke and Williams would develop bad habits and attitudes during such a down season either.
27. CLIPPERS (via Nets) | Actual: Mfiondu Kabengele | Redraft: Kabengele
Much like Indiana with Goga, we’re not going to change the Clippers’ draft strategy with Kabengele –- the team obviously liked something about his game because they traded up for him, and the team obviously wasn’t expecting him to play much this season. (He has appeared in only 12 games.) Once he develops, the nephew of Dikembe Mutombo should provide excellent rim protection. Plus, he can hit a three-pointer here and there.
28. WARRIORS | Actual: Jordan Poole | Redraft: Poole
Though his shooting stats are mostly awful (31-26-82 shooting splits), Poole displayed enough touch and flair in college to entice the Warriors to select him ahead of where most projected. It’s unfair to judge Poole off this lost season for the Dubs, as the 20-year-old should be working on his game in the G-League or playing off Steph Curry instead of having to play 20-plus minutes a night. Poole projects as a solid heat check guy off the bench.
29. SPURS | Actual: Keldon Johnson | Redraft: Luguentz Dort
Given that Johnson has only appeared in five games, let’s give the Spurs Dort, an undrafted rookie who has willed his way into the Thunder’s starting lineup. While his numbers aren’t anything to call home about (6.1 ppg.), his thick, 215-pound frame has helped him defend at an acceptable level. He’s also displayed the occasional propensity to catch fire from behind the arc –- most notably during a 23-point eruption against the Kings in January.
30. CAVALIERS (via Pistons, Bucks) | Actual: Kevin Porter Jr. | Redraft: Bruno Fernando
The Cavs aren’t lucky enough to land Porter in the redraft, so they’ll get a raw, rim-running big man with some upside in Fernando. Ideally, Fernando (Hawks) flashes enough potential that the Cavs don’t make the Andre Drummond trade and instead figure a way to deal Tristan Thompson and Kevin Love and clear all that ugly salary off their books.
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