The 2019 NBA Draft was full of wheeling and dealing.
There were many storylines that made the draft not only interesting but historic, strategic and nostalgic in many ways.
Pelicans and Zion Make It Official
There was no doubt which player the Pelicans would pick No. 1 overall in the 2019 NBA Draft.
— New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) June 21, 2019
There was speculation as to whether the Pelicans would hang onto the No. 4 overall pick they received from the Lakers in the Anthony Davis deal or trade it for assets. New Orleans wasted no time answering that question prior to the start of the 2019 NBA Draft.
They dealt the pick to the Hawks in exchange for the No. 8, No. 17 and No. 35 picks on Thursday night.
Those picks turned out to be 7-footer Jaxson Hayes, VaTech shooting guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Marcos Louzada Silva, a hard-nosed defender who had a great showing at Nike Hoops Summit in Portland and had a huge season in the Brazilian League.
All things considered, between their haul from the AD trade and the Draft, the Pelicans have certainly restocked the cupboard and are expeditiously building towards future success.
Hawks Building For Future
The Hawks didn’t want to sit on their No. 8 and No. 10 picks and decided to trade up to No. 4 to snatch Hunter. I mentioned in Thursday’s Draft piece that the Hawks were trying to finagle their way up to that spot.
Atlanta's young core gets deeper
Hawks (via Pels and Lakers) select De'Andre Hunter with the No. 4 pick in the NBA draft pic.twitter.com/iDzlER4MNk
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) June 21, 2019
Hunter adds some lockdown defense, more outside shooting and other intangibles that will serve Atlanta well. With Hunter establishing a defensive grit for the team, Trae Young is free to roam and get buckets and might even step his defensive game up.
The sleeper pick of the first round is Cam Reddish. The Hawks kept their No. 10 overall pick and used it to nab the enigmatic Duke shooting guard/forward. Reddish has superstar talent, he just needs to mature and develop a killer instinct. Maybe the NBA will provide him with that inspiration,
Cam Reddish is the enigma everyone is trying to figure out in the NBA Draft.
Hawks fans get to find out:https://t.co/Z3F7LXCr8B
— SB Nation (@SBNation) June 21, 2019
Any way you slice it, the Hawks and Pelicans definitely improved their chances of putting a winning product on the floor very soon.
CALL THE COPS: PORTLAND STEALS A LITTLE
Portland already has a dynamic backcourt and now they have a talented small forward in UNC ‘s Nassir Little, who fell into their lap after dropping to 25.
Jay Bilas calls him the “absolute steal” of the draft.
“He’s really strong and super athletic and really long, he’s physical and excellent in transition,” Bilas said. “Can really run the floor, as an excellent offensive rebounder and most importantly he can defend. He only played 18 minutes a game at UNC in his freshman year.”
EUROPE’S NEXT NBA PHENOM
Sekou Doumbouya of France via Conakry, Guinea was the No. 14 overall pick of the Detroit Pistons. Doumbouya’s entire situation is a win considering the 18-year-old didn’t start playing basketball until six years ago.
Slam Mag touted him as Europe’s elite hoops prospect in 2018.
“At 13, a year after he discovered basketball, Sekou was already playing with kids two years his senior. While his mom started receiving 40 phone calls a weekend, Sekou was out putting on a show, from reverse slams to only using his left hand to score more than 30 points after injuring his right shooting hand. It was those types of performances that got him invited to train with the U18 national team at 14, leading to his 2016 FIBA performance, and ultimately his first pro contract with Poitiers at 15.”
— Overtime (@overtime) June 13, 2019
“When he made the trip to Los Angeles during NBA All-Star Weekend for Basketball Without Borders, a camp for the world’s top international prospects… There, he saw how many people loved basketball as much as he did.”
Point is, he’s still a baby in the game. His journey is already the stuff of legends and his talent is untapped. The Detroit Pistons feel like they finally have a big man with crazy upside.
Mfiondu Kabengele: Second Generation NBA African Royalty
Bol Bol wasn’t the only African NBA royalty slated to be selected in the NBA Draft, In fact, NBA Hall of Famer Dikembe Mutombo’s nephew Mfiondu Kabengele was selected before Bol Bol’s name was called. Bol, a projected Top 12 pick, totally slipped out of the first-round.
Mfiondu Kabengele is the nephew of great Dikembe Mutombo & plays like Serge Ibaka. 6-10+, 250, 5% body fat & range to 3-point line. Stretch bigs like Ibaka, Jokic, M. Gasol, B.Lopez create spacing in league.
— Fran Fraschilla (@franfraschilla) June 21, 2019
Fansided called him a steal for the Clippers.
Despite his NBA uncle, Kabengele has been overlooked much of his hoops career. Coming out of high school Kabengele had two measly scholarship offers from small fried Binghamton and Vermont.
Coach Leonard Hamilton eventually gave Kabengele a shot at Florida State and it paid off. He worked his way into becoming a first-round Draft pick. He was selected by the Brooklyn Nets for The LA Clippers who will own his rights in a few days.
Kabengele was voted the 2018-19 ACC Sixth Man of the Year, averaging 13.2 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.5 blocks across 21.6 minutes. His shot-blocking upside and potential three-point shooting ability (36.9 percent from three on 65 attempts last season) make him a prototypical modern NBA center.
The 6-foot-10 center said he’s gotten plenty of advice from Dikembe Mutombo prior to the draft.
“A lot, Kabengele said. “ Just stay out of foul trouble. Bring a lot of energy.”