by Jamaar Hawkins, i64sports
With an expected large number of trades during Thursday night’s NBA Draft, there was plenty of movement to account for throughout the night. The biggest move was actually made a few days ago with the Los Angeles Lakers essentially trading away its roster (and the rights to the #4 overall draft pick) to the New Orleans Pelicans in exchange for Anthony Davis.
Now let’s take a look at some of the draft’s biggest winners and losers, including a bonus look at a Virginia native that finally heard his name called:
What a time to be an Atlanta Hawks fan! With an exciting Trae Young back for his sophomore season next year and John Collins also in the fold, Atlanta could easily sat back for a natural rebuilding phase. Instead, Atlanta traded picks #8 and #17 for the rights to the Pelicans’ #4 pick, choosing University of Virginia versatile forward De’Andre Hunter. By adding Hunter, Atlanta gets a player that can defend multiple positions and improved on his outside as his UVA career ensued. The Hawks later took Duke freshman guard Cam Reddish with pick #10, adding a pair of talented players in the lottery. Although Reddish slightly underperformed in his freshman season at Duke, he still possesses one of the highest ceilings of any player in the draft.
New Orleans Pelicans
New Orleans General Manager David Griffin is off to a hot start, flipping disgruntled star Anthony Davis into some young talented pieces and the #4 overall pick in this year’s draft. Griffin used that pick to gain a pair of first rounders this year in a trade with Atlanta. The Pels also ridded themselves of Solomon Hill’s pesky contract, which had long been a goal. Selecting Zion Williamson with the top pick was a given when the draft lottery was decided, but don’t count on Griffin and the Pelicans being done just yet. There is still a pending $30 million salary cap to play with.
Led by #1 overall pick Zion Williamson (Duke), the Atlantic Conference finished with an amazing six players selected in the lottery portion of the NBA draft. Williamson, along with RJ Barrett (New York Knicks) and Reddish, rounded out Duke’s lottery selections. North Carolina had two players picked in the top 14, freshman guard Coby White to the Chicago Bulls, while senior forward Cam Johnson was a surprising choice by the Phoenix Suns at #11. Hunter was the lone player from UVA selected in the lottery.
This was not a good week to be a Celtics fan. No Kyrie Irving and Al Horford. Then, Miami grabs one of your pre-draft favorites Kentucky’s Tyler Herro just one pick prior to Boston. There was also a failed attempt to trade up for the #4 overall pick, according to reports. The Celtics grabbed inconsistent Indiana freshman Romeo Langford with the first of three round picks. Boston selected two-time SEC Player of the Year Grant Williams with its second pick. A productive college player but certainly not at the level as needed for Horford’s replacement. Alas, there is that good ol’ cap space that Boston will have for a rumored pursuit of Orlando Magic free agent Nikola Vucevic.
The University of Oregon product was considered a top-5 worthy player at one point in the college season, but quickly slid down NBA execs draft boards due to injury concerns and questions about his work ethic. Denver took a chance on Bol Bol, a year after another supremely talented wing Michael Porter Jr slipped into their hands. An already talented Nugget team could potentially capitalize if Bol Bol pans out, but you can’t help to think if the
With the one-and-done rule nearly on its way out the door, this may have been the final draft without the inclusion of high school prospects. Unfortunately, things could get a lot murkier for NBA execs and college underclassmen who may be looking at some tough decisions in the near future. This year, 41 underclassmen were not selected in the NBA Draft, including Brewster Academy 5th year senior Jalen Lecque who bypassed a full scholarship to NC State and was undrafted.
South Hill native Johnson gets the call
Keldon Johnson was one of three Kentucky Wildcats selected in the first round. The South Hill (Va) went to the San Antonio Spurs with the #29 overall pick. Johnson, previously attended Park View High School in South Hill before transferring to Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson, Va.
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