Redrafting the Top Ten 2019 NBA Draft Picks: Would Pelicans Take Ja?

Hello, sports fans. With All-Star Weekend on the horizon, I wanted to look at the lottery picks from the 2019 NBA Draft to see if there are any different choices (spoiler warning: there are). This will be a redraft of the first ten picks of the draft, just a cleaner number. Let’s not waste any more time.

NOTE: Won’t be having Kendrick Nunn on here. He’s been one of the best ‘rookies’ but he was part of the 2018 undrafted class so that’s why you won’t see him.

With the First Overall Pick… (New Orleans)

The Pelicans still take Zion here. Ja Morant has had an electric season and has been leaps ahead of what his projections were. There’s even a chance he could have a better career than Zion. But if you asked New Orleans’ front office if they would rather have Ja, even before Zion’s emphatic return to the court, they would have said no. With little hesitation, I would imagine.

The Second Pick (Memphis)

Ja Morant. Mentioned earlier. He leads rookies (40 or more games played) in points per game, assists per game, and he’s fifth in steals per game. He’s also got 49/39/80 shooting splits. He’s just been incredible. Better yet, the Grizzlies are fighting for the eighth seed (they hold it at the time of this writing) after being presumed cellar dwellers this season. His best attribute thus far has to be his fearlessness. He’s been talking trash to any and all players and has gotten the better of them from time to time. A few weeks back the Grizzlies were beating the Rockets and he was just jawing at Harden. Unbelievable stuff from the rookie. He and the teams have far exceeded expectations. Memphis keeps its young star at #2.

The Third Pick (New York)

Yeah, I’m keeping RJ Barrett here. Some guys might be playing better than him, but I don’t think NY goes back and takes anyone else. He’s top five among rookies in points, rebounds, assists, and steals per game. He has a better chance of becoming a ‘do it all’ forward (which I would argue is the most important player to have on your team in today’s NBA) in this draft than anyone else. The team is bad and his net rating is bad. I have to imagine if he’s in any competent situation he would look much better. Alas, he is not and doesn’t escape it in this redraft.

The Fourth Pick (Atlanta)

So this pick originally belonged to the Lakers. Then they traded it to New Orleans in the Anthony Davis trade. They then turned around and traded it to Atlanta for a bounty of picks and selections including the eighth overall pick and the 17th overall pick. I’m not changing any of that in this scenario as it is just too confusing to change. When the Hawks took this pick they had two positions to fill: small forward and center. With Trae at the point, Huerter at SG, and Collins at PF, they had young studs at those three positions. The best center on the board is Jaxson Hayes (originally picked eighth) but he’s as raw as they come. He has shown flashes of his athletic dominance, but he’s a project and doesn’t shoot the three-ball necessarily well. The Hawks also have the tenth overall pick and they can reach for a defensive-minded center that can also shoot with that pick. De’Andre Hunter is the best small forward on the board, he’s a two-way player, and they took him with this pick last time.

The Fifth Pick (Cleveland)

Here’s where the switch-ups happen. Cleveland took Darius Garland, a shoot first, pass second guard that needs the ball, with this pick the first time around. They took him to pair with Collin Sexton, a shoot first, pass second guard who needs the ball. Ugh. He could be a solid player in a different situation, but he has struggled mightily in this one. The lowlights include the second-most turnovers per game by rookies and the second-worst net rating among rookies. In case you’re wondering who has the worst net rating its Kevin Porter Jr, also on the Cavs. They need to pair Sexton with an off-ball shooter and I like Rui Hachimura (originally the 9th pick in the draft). Is Rui the fifth-best player in this draft? Probably not, but he leads rookies in rebounds per game, is fourth in points per game, and is third in efficiency. He’s done this by playing off of Beal as well, so he has proven he can be an off-ball threat. Despite a bad three-point percentage, Hachimura is in the top ten in field goal percentage and top five in free throw percentage (among rookies with 25 or more games played). So while he may not be the best player at this pick, he’s the best fit for the Cavs.

NOTE: This was written before the Cavs acquired Andre Drummond at the trade deadline. He would fit well next to Rui so I’m not changing the pick.

The Sixth Pick (Minnesota)

The Timberwolves originally took Jarrett Culver here. He has shot really badly from the field so far. He’s doing okay on the defensive end. He could still very much end up a great player, just needs to develop. Minnesota doesn’t have time for that, though. The clock is ticking on Karl Anthony Towns’ next contract. With the trades of Teague and Covington, they have holes basically everywhere else (they just acquired D-Lo at the trade deadline so they’re more than set at point guard now). Let’s go with an electric shooter at guard who can space the floor for KAT: Tyler Herro. Originally taken with the 13th pick by the Miami Heat, Herro has scored 13 points a game while shooting a great 39% from three. He’s also just 20 years old. Despite being not great on the defensive end, he has just a -.1 net rating. That’s fifth among rookies that were drafted this year. He fills a massive need and helps keep KAT happy.

The Seventh Pick (Chicago)

Cleveland had an inefficient ball-dominant guard that needed the ball in his hands and they drafted a ball-dominant guard to pair with him. Chicago copied them just two picks later. While Lavine is closer to a star than Sexton, he’s still inefficient and plays zero defense. So the Bulls took Coby White, who’s scoring 11 points a game on solid shooting splits. He’s averaging 2.2 assists a game. He plays zero defense. How does this fit make any sense in any world? The worst part of it is that Chicago signed a point guard during free agency that is 100 times a better fit (not necessarily more talented) in Tomas Satoransky. He at least tries on the defensive end and he’s a magnificent passer. So let’s draft a better fit for this team. Lavine is holding down the fort at SG and Wendell Carter Jr. along with Lauri Markennan make up the frontcourt when they’re healthy. Otto Porter Jr. is technically the small forward but he’s better suited as a stretch four at this point.

So let’s target a small forward with some scoring chops that knows how to defer to ball-dominant guards. Enter Cam Reddish. He had as many red flags as you could get for a lottery prospect entering the draft. He started horribly slow this year after being taken at 10 by the Atlanta Hawks. But over his last 10 games, Reddish has averaged 13.6 ppg on 44% shooting, hitting 44.9% of his 3-pointers. That’s a great sign. He also played with Zion and RJ Barrett in college and Trae Young so far in the NBA so he definitely knows how to defer to better talent. He could end up a great fit for this team.

The Eighth Pick (New Orleans)

This pick originally belonged to Atlanta and they traded it to New Orleans. We’re keeping that here as well. I really don’t know what to do with this pick. New Orleans has players at nearly every spot, hell basically young talent at every position. Especially after getting Lonzo and first time All-Star Brandon Ingram in the Anthony Davis trade. They really don’t need much help on the offensive end. They’re top eight in the league in points, assists, and rebounds per game. Three-point percentage too. The issue lies on the defensive end. They’re 24th in the league. That being the case, I thought it would be fun to give them the best defensive player in this year’s draft: Matisse Thybulle. Among rookies, he’s first in steals, third in blocks, third in defensive rating, and he shoots 37.4% from three. He’s a legit 3 and D player, let alone prospect. Despite a putrid field goal and free throw percentage, he’s fifth among rookies in net rating. He would be buckets of fun on this team.

The Ninth Pick (Washington)

Washington originally took Rui Hachimura with the ninth overall pick. In this redraft, he went fifth to Cleveland. Washington had the right idea with this pick, though. Pairing Bradley Beal (and eventually John Wall) with a sweet-shooting big man that can space the floor. The thing is, they already had him. They acquired Davis Bertans in the offseason in a trade with San Antonio. He’s ninth in three-point percentage in the league this season and he’s attempted more threes than all but two players ahead of him. He’s a fire-breather and he renders taking a power forward in this draft pointless for the Wizards. Another thing about the Wizards is they like to play fast, they’re sixth in pace this season. So I’m going to advocate taking a center. Brandon Clarke is probably the best center in this draft, but he’s not all that fast. Jaxson Hayes (originally taken one pick prior) is a great fit. He’s probably the fastest big man in this draft, and he’d fit great in a Washington offense that surrounds him with shooters. Among rookies, he’s second in blocks, seventh in rebounds, and third in field goal percentage.

The Tenth Pick (Atlanta)

Atlanta’s biggest weakness this season has been its center position. They just corrected that by trading for Clint Capela. In this redraft, however, they have no need for that trade. They’re taking Brandon Clarke. Among rookies, he’s top ten in points, field goal percentage, three-point percentage, blocks, rebounds, and net rating. He’s the best center in the draft and he fits perfectly with Trae Young. Even better, he spaces the floor. A starting lineup of Trae, Huerter, Hunter, Collins, and Clarke is the best young starting lineup in the league. No arguments.

Well, that’s it, guys. The top ten picks redrafted. Hope you agree with them. I think a lot of teams get better in this scenario.

  
Agu is a Junior at Marquette University pursuing a Business Management Major with a Spanish Business Minor. He is a Milwaukee native and somehow survived 10 years of mediocrity from his hometown team, the Milwaukee Bucks, and is now writing about them in the midst of their best season. He is new on the scene with no credentials but hopes to have a light Wikipedia page in the future.

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