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NBA

NBA Draft 2019: What We We Learned From Opening Night

Image Credit: Getty Images

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 on Twitter

@Zionwilliamson’s reaction to seeing New Orleans celebrate his pick! #PelicansDraft https://t.co/PQGdBtVVTK

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. 

Bleacher Report on Twitter

Atlanta’s young core gets deeper Hawks (via Pels and Lakers) select De’Andre Hunter with the No. 4 pick in the NBA draft https://t.co/iDzlER4MNk

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,

SB Nation on Twitter

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

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.

Nassir Little North Carolina Basketball Highlights – 2018-19 Season | Stadium

North Carolina forward Nassir Little’s highlights from the 2018-19 basketball season. Check out his full season highlights with the Tar Heels this year. SUBSCRIBE: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCw4dyfv39tfR77pkCtS4iaw Visit the Stadium website: http://www.watchstadium.com Follow Stadium on Twitter: https://twitter.com/watchstadium Like Stadium on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/watchstadium Follow Stadium on Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/WatchStadium

“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 on Twitter

Sekou Doumbouya got all the potential in the WORLD 💯 @sekou_doums https://t.co/scAlIpJMOh

“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. 

Fran Fraschilla on Twitter

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.

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.

Mfiondu Kabengele Official Highlights | FSU Forward

FSU’s Mfiondu Kabengele is a versatile big man who was named the 2019 All-ACC Sixth Man of The Year. He led the Seminoles in scoring averaging 13.2 points per game, snagged 5.9 rebounds per game and shot 37% from 3-point land. Kabengele is an adept rim-protector averaging 1.5 blocks per game, placing him 9th in the conference.

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.”

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