Redrafting the 2019 NBA draft class less than one year after they were originally drafted is a very difficult task. At most, we have seen only three-fourths of a season from each of them, and most of them did not play big minutes. Some of them missed time due to injury or played mostly in the G-League. Others are in roles or on teams that don’t suit them very well in the long term.
Redrafts are fun, so let’s do one for the 2019 NBA Draft class anyway. USAbetting will focus specifically on the top 10 picks from a year ago and project how each team would or would not have changed their mind based on what they now know.
1. New Orleans Pelicans select F/C Zion Williamson
Original pick: F/C Zion Williamson
Zion or Ja? Ja or Zion? No one would scoff at the Pelicans too much if they took Morant in this redraft, the slam-dunk pick for Rookie of the Year and a guy who looks like the NBA’s next superstar point guard.
However, Williamson just seems like his ceiling might be an extra level or two higher than Morant’s. The amount of quickness and explosiveness packed into Williamson’s 6’6”, 285-pound frame is unreal and he has a nice groundwork of skills upon which to build.
I think Williamson is also a slightly better fit with the Pelicans, who already had acquired young floor general Lonzo Ball before the draft. Ball is a fantastic passer and defender at point guard, so bringing in Morant may not have been ideal.
2. Memphis Grizzlies select G Ja Morant
Original pick: G Ja Morant
With Williamson gone, the Grizzlies will happily “settle” for Morant. I have the words “settle” in quotation marks because Morant’s performance as a rookie in Memphis was fantastic and more than anyone could have expected.
The Grizzlies faced low expectations this season, but they somehow managed to seize control of the Western Conference’s No. 8 seed and still have that position. Morant is leading the team’s attack as the point guard with his blinding quickness with the ball and electrifying dunks.
Morant’s game is a work in progress. He needs to add strength, improve his shooting range and learn how to land on the ground more carefully but he is already so good at just 20 years old.
3. New York Knicks select G/F RJ Barrett
Original pick: G/F RJ Barrett
This pick was the one I struggled with the most. On the one hand, Barrett’s rookie season yielded disappointing results in the areas of offensive efficiency and defensive effectiveness. On the other hand, the lineups Barrett played with in New York were not at all conducive to his development. He also showed at various points that he has the size, skill, athleticism and swagger to take over a basketball game.
I think Barrett’s star potential is enough for him to stay here at No. 3. If he doesn’t show significant improvements in year 2, though, we will have to re-evaluate his position.
4. Los Angeles Lakers select F Brandon Clarke
Original pick: F DeAndre Hunter (traded to Atlanta Hawks via New Orleans Pelicans)
The Lakers are in win-now mode, with 35-year-old LeBron James leading a veteran-laden squad full of players in the final year of their contracts.
That’s why it makes a ton of sense for Los Angeles to pick Clarke here. Clarke started his rookie season at 23 years old, but he quickly showed that he is more than ready for the NBA. In 50 NBA contests, Clarke averaged 12 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.4 assists in just 21.7 minutes per game with a spectacular true-shooting percentage of 67.
The 6’8” forward from Gonzaga is the type of role player every team wants. He is super athletic, versatile defensively and is a smart player who always plays under control. His three-point shot is still developing, but his solid technique from the free-throw line and in the midrange areas suggests he can become a serviceable outside shooter.
5. Cleveland Cavaliers select G/F Cam Reddish
Original pick: G Darius Garland
Reddish was one of the worst players in the NBA in the first couple months of his rookie season. The 20-year-old Atlanta Hawks rookie was injured for most of the offseason and started out the campaign very rusty, especially offensively. At least his defensive impact looked promising.
The second half of the season was a completely different story. Reddish spread his wings offensively and averaged 14.7 points per game over the final 21 contests of the season, including 47 percent from the field and 41.7 percent from three-point range. He continued his very strong play on the defensive end.
At the time of the 2019 draft, the Cavs’ roster already has a smaller young guard in Collin Sexton and a host of veteran big men in guys like Kevin Love, Larry Nance Jr. and Tristan Thompson. An athletic wing with the potential to become a star, like Reddish, seems like Cleveland’s best choice.
6. Phoenix Suns select F PJ Washington
Original pick: G/F Jarrett Culver (traded to Minnesota Timberwolves)
At this point in the redraft, concerns over team fit become very important. There are many talented young prospects available, but many of the teams picking between sixth and 10th have very specific needs to address.
The Suns are a squad that requires a solid starting power forward to go along with playmaking guards Ricky Rubio and Devin Booker, two-way wing Kelly Oubre Jr. and future star center DeAndre Ayton. Washington, who measures 6’7” with a well-built 236-pound frame and a 7’2” wingspan, is a guy who can fit in perfectly with those guys as a floor-spacer and hardworking defensive presence.
7. Chicago Bulls select F De’Andre Hunter
Original pick: G Coby White
Hunter originally went fourth in this draft, and he did disappoint a little bit in his rookie year. The now 22-year-old forward didn’t get to the basket a ton, and his defense was decent, but not great, as many expected.
However, considering what Hunter accomplished in his college career, his overall physical profile and the Bulls’ need for a reliable small forward, I think Hunter is a nice fit. He can spot-up for three-pointers off of penetration from Zach LaVine and help LaVine rest on defense a bit by taking on tougher opponents.
8. Atlanta Hawks select G/F Matisse Thybulle
Original pick: F/C Jaxson Hayes (traded to New Orleans Pelicans)
The Hawks had Trae Young, John Collins and Kevin Huerter as key building blocks at the time of the 2019 draft. Clint Capela hadn’t arrived via trade to provide interior help, and the team hadn’t drafted De’Andre Hunter and Cam Reddish, their real-life 2019 draft selections.
All that to say, defense is the major priority for Atlanta on a team with three offensive-minded building blocks. Thybulle is the best defensive player in this draft class who guards all positions on the perimeter, so he is a natural fit. Thybulle hardly contributes anything on offense, but I’ve seen enough development on his three-point shot to believe that he becomes a credible marksman on wide-open spot-up looks.
9. Washington Wizards select F/C Jaxson Hayes
Original pick: F Rui Hachimura
The Wizards, like the Hawks, are a team starved for defense. Washington ranked third-last in defensive efficiency in 2018-19 and then ended up doing even worse in 2019-20, falling to the worst defense in the NBA.
Hayes is quite raw on both ends of the floor, but he had barely turned 19 years old at the time of the NBA draft. His 6’11.5” height, 7’3.5” wingspan and pogo stick-like leaping ability gives him loads of potential as a rim protector. Indeed, he averaged an impressive 2 blocks per 36 minutes as a rookie.
The lanky young center is a highlight waiting to happen on offense, as well, and he should develop into a very respectable starting center if he fills out his frame a little bit. Hayes could even become a star if he reaches his potential as a shooter.
10. Atlanta Hawks select G Terence Davis
Original pick: G/F Cam Reddish
In a vacuum, the best player left on the draft board here is Tyler Herro. The Miami Heat rookie averaged 12.9 points per game this season for a pleasantly surprising Heat squad on respectable efficiency. He has a varied scoring game and is not afraid of big moments.
The Hawks don’t need more score-first players, though, with Young, Collins and Huerter already on board. They need defense, secondary playmaking and toughness, which Davis can certainly provide. He is one of the older rookies, but he earned consistent rotation minutes on an elite Toronto Raptors team despite being undrafted.
I like him playing next to any two of Young, Huerter and Thybulle (the No. 8 pick in this draft) due to his 6’4”, 205-pound size, quickness and versatility.