NBA Draft Winners and Losers: New Orleans and Bol Bol

This year’s NBA draft had it all. An emotional superstar, a 7-foot-3-inch center in a spider suit and, as usual, a ton of controversy. Here’s a look at the winners and losers from the 2019 draft. 

Winner: The New Orleans Pelicans. Regardless of what happened after the first player was taken off the board, the Pelicans won the night. With the first pick in the 2019 NBA draft, they unsurprisingly chose Duke University phenom Zion Williamson.

Williamson started stealing the show in high school, dunking his way to Duke and taking college basketball by storm. One of the most sought after athletes since LeBron James, the Pelicans narrowly won the Williamson sweepstakes on May 14, beating out the likes of the Memphis Grizzlies, New York Knicks and Los Angeles Lakers.

The Duke product has almost no bust potential. At his worst, he’ll still most likely be a perennial all-star. His ceiling, however, could be unprecedented.

Williamson broke in his interview after being drafted No. 1 overall, thanking everyone, especially his Mom, for getting hm to that point

At 6-foot-7-inches he fits right in with a majority of current NBA players. He averaged 22.6 ppg and 8.9 rpg in his lone season at Duke and should easily be the frontrunner for Rookie of the Year. 

On top of getting Williamson, they turned the Anthony Davis trade into University of Texas’ center Jaxson Hayes, who they drafted at No. 8, and Virginia Tech’s Nickeil Alexander-Walker at No. 17. The Pelicans have officially entered the rebuild, and only time will tell if this draft class was as loaded as they hoped.

Winner: The Atlanta Hawks. After swapping Luka Doncic for Trae Young in the 2018 draft, the Hawks got a second first-round pick in this year’s draft. Many thought the Hawks lost the trade, but it turned out to be great for both teams. 

Young and Doncic both had terrific years, and are both candidates for Rookie of the Year, and Atlanta got even more assets for the future. The Hawks also nabbed Kevin Huerter in the 2018 draft, who surprised everyone by earning all-rookie second team. 

This year, Atlanta’s goal was to surround their young talent with, you guessed it, more young talent. They began by trading up to No. 4 to grab University of Virginia’s DeAndre Hunter and took a chance on Cam Reddish at 10. Pairing Hunter and Reddish with Young and Huerter, along with 2017 draftee John Collins, who improved significantly in year two, makes for one of the better drafts. 

If the 2019 draftees pan out like the ones before them, the Hawks will be right there with New Orleans for the 2024 title.

Loser: The Oklahoma City Thunder. For the second year in a row, the Oklahoma City Thunder have whiffed on the draft. 

Last year, Oklahoma City didn’t have a first-round pick but traded to choose Hamidou Diallo with the 45th pick in the second round. While winning the dunk contest is a nice accolade, Diallo gave OKC little to no real production.

This year they passed up the likes of Brandon Clarke and Grant Williams to trade back for Darius Bazley, a wiry 19-year-old who bypassed college to train specifically for the draft. Bazley is a long, lengthy athletic product – Presti’s type – and was projected to be a future lottery pick before skipping college. While he could pan out and become a star, he will almost surely give no immediate production this year. 

With Russell Westbrook and Paul George aging, it’s doubtful 19-year-old Bazley, who last played competitively in high school, will help win this season. 

Loser: The Phoenix Suns. After stringing together a chain of several good decisions over the last couple of years, the Suns were bound to have a bad night.

True to form, the Suns traded down from No. 6 to 11 for Dario Saric, an average talent they only retain the right to for a single year. Shortly after trading down, they drafted a player many thought was much, much too early in University of North Carolina’s Cam Johnson.

 Johnson was projected to be a late first to an early second rounder, and drafting him just outside the top 10 could have been a major mistake. On top of all of that, they traded a usable player in TJ Warren for cash. Not assets, such as players or picks, just cash. All in all, Johnson had better become a multi-time all-star for the 2019 offseason to have been a win for Phoenix.

Loser: Bol Bol. Son of former NBA player Manute Bol, Bol Bol was projected to be a lottery pick in the 2019 draft before suffering a season-ending foot injury at Oregon. 

Despite the injury, Bol was still projected to go somewhere in the mid to late first round, or so we thought. Bol slid all the way to 44th pick in the 2nd round. and was drafted by the Denver Nuggets. 

With his spider-web suit, he walked up to the stage, grabbed his new Denver Nuggets hat, and proceeded to tell an interviewer that he would prove everyone that doubted him wrong. 

Bol stands at 7’3”, but weighs just 236 lbs. 

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