From there, though, a flurry of trades shook up the lottery order and left the players and their families, assembled in a makeshift green room at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, checking their cellphones for minute-by-minute updates.
The Pelicans, owners of the Los Angeles Lakers' fourth pick thanks to the Davis trade, shipped it to the Atlanta Hawks, who selected Virginia forward De'Andre Hunter. In return, New Orleans added Texas center Jaxson Hayes at No. 8 and Virginia Tech guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker at No. 17.
Vanderbilt guard Darius Garland went to the Cleveland Cavaliers to finish out the top five. Then, the Phoenix Suns sent the sixth pick — Texas Tech's Jarrett Culver — to the Minnesota Timberwolves for the 11th pick and forward Dario Saric. In a separate draft day deal, the Suns moved forward T.J. Warren to the Indiana Pacers for cap relief.
Due to league rules, some of Thursday's trades might not be made official until as late as July 6, after the NBA's free agency moratorium is completed.
Despite the unpredictable turns, the night belonged to the 6-foot-7, 283-pound Williamson, who dressed to impress in a bright white suit. When Commissioner Adam Silver called his name, Williamson briefly bowed his head and hugged his mother and stepfather as the sold out arena greeted him with loud applause.
The highflying, wide-smiling 18-year-old warned reporters Wednesday that he might cry during his big moment, and he was briefly overcome with emotion as he conducted an interview with his mother, Sharonda Sampson.
"I don't think I can describe these feelings," Williamson said. "As a little kid you say you want to go to the NBA, and people say you've got to have a Plan B because the chances of doing it are little to none. For me to be selected No. 1, I can't dream it any better than that. I was able to make it onstage without a tear, but in the interview with my mom standing beside me, my emotions just took over."
Williamson said Sampson raised him in South Carolina with "tough love" and was "always the first one to keep it real with me."
"Whenever I needed something, she would do everything in her power to get it for me and my brothers," he added. "She put aside her dreams just so me and my brothers could have a chance at ours. I don't think a lot of people are fortunate enough to be in that kind of situation. I thank God I got a mother like I did."
Morant, an electric 6-3 guard who burst on to the NBA's radar with a breakthrough sophomore season, was welcomed to the Grizzlies by 2018 lottery pick Jaren Jackson Jr.
The two teenagers should eventually form a fearsome pick-and-roll combination in Memphis, where they will take the reins from guard Mike Conley and center Marc Gasol. After a run of seven straight postseason appearances together, the Grizzlies agreed to trade Conley to the Utah Jazz earlier this week after shipping Gasol to the Toronto Raptors at the deadline in February.
"Me and Jaren have been talking for a while," Morant said. "We had a strong relationship before the draft process started. I have some big shoes to fill in Mike Conley. He's a great player. I wish him the best. It just means the Grizzlies see a lot in me."
The loudest applause of the night went to Barrett, a 6-7 lefty wing who is the son of former Canadian pro Rowan Barrett and the godson of NBA legend Steve Nash. Barrett endeared himself to Knicks fans by expressing his desire to play in New York throughout the pre-draft process. The rambunctious crowd chanted "R-J! R-J!" throughout the night — a sharp contrast to the boos that rained down on Kristaps Porzingis four years ago.
Dressed in a pink suit, Barrett enjoyed a long, tearful embrace with his father, who is the general manager of Canada's national team. Barrett later told reporters that his late grandfather was a Knicks fan who predicted his NBA home years ago.
"That was one of the reasons I was crying," Barrett said. "We used to watch the Knicks growing up and [my grandfather] would always tell me I was going to be a Knick. I'm sad he can't be here to see it. I'm so overwhelmed, humbled, honored and thankful."
While the Davis and Conley deals were logical moves aimed at clearing the way for incoming draft picks, some of the night's other decisions raised eyebrows.
With holes up and down their roster, the Cavaliers selected Garland, just one year after using a lottery pick on Collin Sexton. New Coach John Beilein must now balance the development of two 6-foot-2 point guards who are both best with the ball in their hands.
The Suns' trade down was a true head-scratcher. Rookie GM James Jones passed up the opportunity to take Culver, a versatile wing, and UNC point guard Coby White, to select Cameron Johnson with the 11th pick. While Johnson addresses a need thanks to his knockdown three-point shooting, the UNC forward is 23 years old and wasn't projected as a top-20 pick in most mock drafts. Remarkably, Johnson is older than Suns star guard Devin Booker, who is set to enter his fifth NBA season.
Both the Hawks and Pelicans could face second-guessing for their lottery pick exchange. Atlanta traded up to take the defensive-minded Hunter over Culver, who is widely viewed to possess greater star potential. New Orleans's trade down cost it a chance at Garland, whose outside shooting would have paired nicely with Williamson. Instead, they selected 6-foot-11 Hayes from Texas, who could require significant development before he is ready to start.
Maryland forward Bruno Fernando, projected by some analysts as a top-25 pick, fell out of the first round, finally landing in Atlanta after he was initially drafted by Philadelphia with the fourth pick of the second round.
Oregon center Bol Bol, son of former NBA center Manute Bol, was not selected in the first round after entering the season as a projected top-10 pick.
— Ben Golliver
Draft order and analysis
1. New Orleans Pelicans: Zion Williamson, F, Duke
Analysis: Needing to replace one ballyhooed, do-everything top pick, the Pelicans nabbed another. Williamson is an ideal candidate to the Pelicans through the rebuilding period that will naturally follow the Anthony Davis trade. The highflying Duke forward possesses a rare combination of strength, quickness and explosiveness, while also possessing a motor and off-court intangibles that delight NBA scouts and executives. While Williamson has a long way to go to prove that he is Davis’s equal on the court, he boasts more natural charisma and marketing potential than his superstar predecessor. — Ben Golliver
What he brings: There hasn’t been a college basketball player like Williamson within the past decade. The Duke freshman is a hoops unicorn, standing 6-foot-7 and capable of playing and defending all five positions. Per Synergy Sports, no other Division I player in 2019 was as offensively efficient as Williamson, who scored 1.22 points per half-court play. For that matter, there hasn’t been a single Division I player since 2009-10 as capable of getting buckets under maximum defensive attention as Williamson: According to CBB Reference’s database, the combination of the freshman’s usage rate (28.6 percent), true shooting percentage (70.2 percent) and offensive rating (1.33) is nonpareil. Whether Coach Mike Krzyzewski needed a quick basket, a defensive stop or a rim-rattling dunk, Williamson performed with aplomb. He even refined his jump shot during the course of the 2019 season — his lone identifiable weakness entering college — connecting on 43 percent of his attempts during the ACC tournament and March Madness. Without Williamson, Duke would have lost at least seven games last season — his Wins Above Average (or WAA, which tracks the wins above an average DI player), per Google Analytics, was 7.6, and that rate ranks historically just below a select few, including Kemba Walker and Anthony Davis. He may have even played out of position at Duke — Williamson is the ideal small-ball 5 — and all of which signifies this is the easiest first overall selection in the last two decades of the NBA draft. — Matthew Giles
2. Memphis Grizzlies: Ja Morant, G, Murray State
Analysis: The Grizzlies badly needed a new floor general and an injection of youthful enthusiasm. The 19-year-old Morant, a tantalizing playmaker, needed the opportunity and patience to learn on the job as he hopefully develops into an all-star point guard. Put those two together, and this should prove to be one of the cleanest fits of the entire draft. Even better: Morant’s pick-and-roll skills should work seamlessly with Jaren Jackson Jr., the talented 19-year-old forward whom the Grizzlies selected in last year’s lottery. — Ben Golliver
What he brings: The 6-foot-3 sophomore was so effective finding scoring opportunities for his Murray State teammates that it’s easy to forget Morant could easily get his own buckets as few others could in Division I last season. During this decade, no one else in college basketball has played more than 20 minutes and posted an assist rate and turnover rate comparable to Morant’s (51.8 percent and 20.5 percent, respectively). And when Morant did make a play to find his fellow Racers in the half-court, the squad scored 1.31 points per play+assist, which was only second in DI to Pepperdine’s Colby Ross. Morant possesses a unique combination of deft ballhandling, nifty agility and ability to quickly shift pace and direction to gain an angle on an opponent. And when the guard does look to score, he excels at isolating his defender and getting to the rim — per Synergy Sports, he scores .91 points per drive to the basket following a pick and roll, which ranks him within the top 20 of DI guards. Of course, it bears some mention that Morant was essentially the entirety of Murray State’s offensive production, and when factoring in the guard’s usage rate (33 percent) and offensive rating (1.19), the most striking comparison is Damian Lillard (among others, including Doug McDermott). — Matthew Giles
3. New York Knicks: RJ Barrett, F, Duke
Analysis: New York arguably had the least-talented roster in the league last season, and it ranked dead last in offensive efficiency due to a distinct lack of playmaking and scoring talent. Even so, Barrett has sounded thrilled by the opportunity to play for the Knicks given the off-court opportunities and the chance to play a leading role from Day 1. The polished Canadian wing graduated from high school as the top prospect in his class, and his smooth scoring instincts and shot-creating ability give him the potential to be a fan favorite in the Big Apple. — Ben Golliver
What he brings: We’re conditioned to think of the Duke wing as a scorer, as that was his main function on the talent-laden ACC squad, and he shined in that role — the 6-foot-7 Barrett could pick apart an opposing defense. Only Purdue’s Glenn Robinson and Reggie Williams of VMI made more two-point and three-point field goals than Barrett did in 2019. Translation: The freshman was capable of handling a heavy offensive burden. During the six games his fellow freshman Williamson missed with a sprained knee, the ball flowed through Barrett for a whopping 430 possessions, and he posted an effective field goal percentage of nearly 50 percent. That blend of high usage and efficiency is rare, but, rather, consider Barrett as a facilitator, a wing who can subtly shift to point guard and facilitate a team’s offense. Per Synergy Sports, Barrett recorded an assist on 15 percent of his half-court possessions, and his Blue Devils teammates scored .98 points per assist, so while Barrett received a touch nearly each possession, the ball didn’t stick with him. Barrett showcased an innate ability to read a defense and then take advantage through his own scoring or by parsing whichever teammate was in position for the best look. — Matthew Giles
4. Atlanta Hawks: De’Andre Hunter, G/F, Virginia (from Los Angeles Lakers via New Orleans)
Analysis: For the second year in a row, Hawks GM Travis Schlenk used a trade to swap lottery spots. Last year, he moved down from third to fifth to take Trae Young. This year, he moved up from the eighth spot to target Hunter at four. The Virginia star is a prototypical 3-and-D forward who will provide spacing and floor balance around the Young/John Collins pick-and-roll duo. Hunter, 21, is considerably older than the first three picks but Atlanta will appreciate his NBA-readiness as it looks to sneak back into the East’s playoff picture. — Ben Golliver
What he brings: The sophomore is a defensive stopper whose offensive game — while still evolving — is already pretty dynamic. Only Ty Jerome and Kyle Guy played more defensive possessions for Virginia than the 6-foot-7 Hunter, and neither posted a defensive efficiency rate stingier than the sophomore’s (.88 OPPP). Hunter seamlessly fit within the Cavaliers’s defensive game plan, a stopper capable of help defending while also containing opponents at the rim (2.4 percent block rate) and on the perimeter (1.2 percent steal rate). Hunter was Virginia’s most versatile defender, but what was most interesting about his two seasons at the ACC school was how his offense blossomed. Nearly half of his two-point attempts in the half-court were assisted as a freshman, but this past season, that rate dropped to just a third of his attempted twos. The refinement of Hunter’s offensive skill set — when paired with his defensive foundation — was an essential element of Virginia’s first NCAA title. — Matthew Giles
5. Cleveland Cavaliers: Darius Garland, G, Vanderbilt
Analysis: By taking Garland, the Cavaliers will invite questions about whether they have a brewing point guard controversy. The Vanderbilt floor general has a clean shooting stroke and deep range. New Coach John Beilein, whose offenses at Michigan were heavily predicated on the three-point shot, will be glad to add a perimeter marksman whose off-the-dribble shooting has drawn comparisons to Damian Lillard and Stephen Curry. Unfortunately, Garland is a skinny 6-foot-2, much like Collin Sexton, the Cavaliers’ incumbent starting point guard and 2018 lottery pick. If Beilein wants to play his top two backcourt prospects together, his lineups will be at a significant size and strength disadvantage. — Ben Golliver
What he brings: As the 6-foot-2 point guard only played four games for Vanderbilt before tearing the meniscus in his left knee and missing the remainder of the 2019 season, it’s difficult to evaluate Garland based on his 137 minutes. Translation: his small sample size can be misleading. And yet, the freshman proved more than capable running the various pick and role schemes within Bryce Drew’s offense. Specifically, the combination of Garland’s agility and explosiveness off the bounce allows him to get to the rim at ease and score amid taller defenders. Per Synergy Sports, more than half of Garland’s possessions resulted in a pick and roll, and of those plays, he scored one point per P&R ballhandler. He is acutely aware of how to use his quickness to shift a defender off-balance, and he often has more than enough space when he dribbles into a pullup jumper. Even though the injury cut short a promising start to Garland’s season, the guard still showcased what projects to be a tailor-made NBA-level skill set. — Matthew Giles
6. Minnesota Timberwolves: Jarrett Culver, G/F, Texas Tech (from Phoenix)
Analysis: The Timberwolves shipped forward Dario Saric and the No. 11 pick to the Suns so that they could move up five spots to land Culver, a versatile wing who led Texas Tech on a deep NCAA tournament run. The 6-foot-7 Culver is a better playmaker and shot-creator than De’Andre Hunter, the fourth pick, and he projects as a plus defender too. New Minnesota president Gersson Rosas inherited a roster with few returning offense initiators and ballhandlers, so Culver fills an immediate need and could develop into a successful pick-and-roll partner for franchise center Karl-Anthony Towns. — Ben Golliver
What he brings: The sophomore’s best attribute is his offensive versatility. Cling to the 6-foot-5 wing, and he’ll run a defender off a variety of pin-down and baseline screens before unfurling his 6-foot-9 wingspan into a near-automatic midrange jumper (he scores .93 points per screen and cut). Or give Culver space to allow for better help defense, and he’ll use a blend of spins, pivots and step-throughs to score at the rim (1.20 points around the basket). Or shade the defense’s attention to whichever half-court zone he is occupying, and Culver will thread a pass to the weakside — Texas Tech’s offensive efficiency when the soph was on the court during Big 12 play was 1.08 PPP, a rate that topped the team (of Red Raiders that received a touch on more than 500 possessions). And that same skill set suits Culver on the defensive side of the ball, where he uses his length and timing to deflect passes and generally frustrate his opponent. It’s little wonder why Culver was KenPom’s Player of the Year — there wasn’t a facet of the game that he didn’t impact. — Matthew Giles
7. Chicago Bulls: Coby White, G, North Carolina
Analysis: With a massive hole at the point guard position, the Bulls will be thrilled to add White, a scoring-minded floor general who boosted his stock with a strong freshman season at UNC. Chicago’s offense ranked 29th last season, in large part due to a lack of shooting and dynamic play at the one. White, the leading high school scorer in the state of North Carolina’s history, averaged 16.1 points per game as a Tar Heel, but will need to show he can head up a balanced attack and keep Lauri Markkanen, Wendell Carter Jr. and Zach LaVine involved. — Ben Golliver
What he brings: Standing 6-foot-5, White is the rare point guard in that his own offense flowed easier than that of his North Carolina teammates. The freshman was a maestro converting spot-up jump shots, scoring 1.4 points per no dribble jumper, which ranked in Synergy Sports’s top 10 of high major Division I players. He was equally as skilled bursting through a sliver of space in the half-court to then drive and finish at the rim, an area where he scored 1.29 points per attempt around the basket (that aggressiveness also led to frequent trips to the free throw line — 133 attempts, the most for a Tar Heels guard since Marcus Paige). And while others elements of White’s game steadily progressed throughout the season — he assisted on a quarter of UNC’s buckets in ACC play — the team was at its best when White was generating his own offense. The pressure White exerted on opposing defenses opened up pathways for his teammates that didn’t previously exist, enabling their own offense to shine when White would ultimately get them the ball. — Matthew Giles
8. New Orleans Pelicans: Jaxson Hayes, C, Texas (from Atlanta)
Analysis: After trading with the Hawks to move down four spots, the Pelicans tabbed Hayes, a 6-11 center from Texas who has drawn comparisons to Clint Capela. Hayes, a skilled shot-blocker and lob-finisher, will provide a traditional alternative for New Orleans Coach Alvin Gentry, who will surely experiment with Zion Williamson as a small-ball five. The Pelicans picked up Jahlil Okafor’s option earlier Thursday, meaning the 19-year-old Hayes should have some time to get his feet wet. — Ben Golliver
What he brings: As a freshman, the 6-foot-11 Hayes was one of Division I’s most effective bigs because he rarely strayed from his strengths — specifically, converting lobs and passes near the rim, and anchoring Texas’s defense. True, he only scored 320 points, but the big was automatic whenever he got a touch, scoring 1.3 points per play in the half-court. That offensive efficiency was maximized whenever Coach Shaka Smart used Hayes in pick-and-rolls. Once he shed the pick, the freshman was agile enough to float with purpose to the rim, where he connected on a whopping 1.5 points per roll (a rate which led all of DI by a wide margin). While Hayes did show some inexperience on the defensive side of the ball, committing nearly six fouls per 40 minutes, his 7-foot-3 wingspan negated any interior scoring, and he coupled that shot-blocking dominance by snatching 16 percent of opponents’s misses — more than 90 players in CBB Reference’s database share Hayes’s defensive advanced statistics profile, and the frosh’s stats (specifically a block rate of 10.3 percent and a defensive rebounding rate of 16-plus percent) vault him to a rarefied company, one that includes Mo Bamba, Jaren Jackson, Hassan Whiteside and Anthony Davis. — Matthew Giles
9. Washington Wizards: Rui Hachimura, F, Gonzaga
Analysis: Hachimura, the first Japanese-born player to be selected in the NBA draft, inspired a range of opinions from NBA scouts. Some, impressed by his physical presence, improved shooting and defensive versatility, pegged him as a top-five talent. Others, wary of his somewhat robotic movements, were more skeptical. The 6-foot-8 forward displayed tremendous growth during three years at Gonzaga, blossoming into a first-team all-American as a junior after barely playing as a freshman. If he can continue to extend his shooting range to the three-point line, Hachimura projects as a longtime starter who can play both forward positions. — Ben Golliver
What he brings: Gonzaga didn’t need to depend on the 6-foot-8 junior to anchor the team’s defense — the team could rely on his frontcourt teammate Brandon Clarke in that role — so Hachimura was free to expand his offensive skill set in 2019. Specifically, his ability to stretch the floor through a burgeoning midrange game (1.12 points per half-court jumper) and then take advantage of rushed closeouts by opposing bigs to drive the interior (his 1.33 points per attempt near the bucket ranked within DI’s 84th percentile). Hachimura isn’t a crafty scorer, but since arriving from Japan in 2016, he has expanded the boundaries of his scoring portfolio, which not only benefited himself but also his team, by enabling better spacing within the Bulldogs’ offense. — Matthew Giles
10. Atlanta Hawks: Cam Reddish, F, Duke (from Dallas)
Analysis: After trading up to select De’Andre Hunter, the Hawks added their second wing of the night by selecting the 6-foot-8 Reddish. A top-five prospect entering college last year, Reddish is the third Duke freshman to be selected in the top 10. Hunter and Reddish make an intriguing pair, as the former will be tasked with life as a defensive stopper while the latter will be cast as a secondary scoring to support Trae Young and John Collins. Atlanta was in position to select Reddish thanks to a 2018 trade with the Dallas Mavericks involving Young and Luka Doncic. — Ben Golliver
What he brings: The freshman had a perplexing season in Durham, but his skill set remains just as tantalizing — a 6-foot-8 wing with a 7-foot wingspan who can effortlessly glide through traffic while driving the rim or knock down countless catch-and-shoot three-pointers. And while that never happened during Reddish’s season at Duke (the wing made just 31 percent of his threes in ACC play, and he scored just .84 points per play, which ranked in DI’s 39th percentile), it’s still all too easy to become enamored with his potential. — Matthew Giles
11. Phoenix Suns: Cameron Johnson, F, North Carolina (from Minnesota)
Analysis: In one of the night’s biggest surprises, the Suns selected the 23-year-old Johnson after trading down five spots. A proven shooter who hit 46 percent of his three-pointers last season at UNC, the 6-foot-9 Johnson will be expected to contribute immediately for a Phoenix offense that ranked 28th in efficiency. Given that this is his first draft as Suns GM, James Jones will face scrutiny for taking a player who didn’t receive a green room invite and who is older than Phoenix’s franchise guard, Devin Booker, who is entering his fifth NBA season. — Ben Golliver
What he brings: The 6-foot-9 forward is a master of using screens and spacing to his utmost advantage. The senior astonishingly scored more than 1.4 points per screen and cut — per Synergy Sports, those rates ranked within the 97th and 89th percentile of DI, respectively — and Johnson was at his best using body control, sharp cuts and angled positioning to keep defenders off-balance before he launched into his shooting form. Johnson doesn’t look like instant offense, but his offensive rating ranked 15th best in the nation this past season, as there was little defenders could do to break Johnson from settling comfortable into his shooting rhythm game after game. — Matthew Giles
12. Charlotte Hornets: P.J. Washington Jr., F, Kentucky
Analysis: The Hornets add Washington to a mish-mashed frontcourt that has just about squeezed all the juice out of 33-year-old Marvin Williams. The 6-foot-8 Kentucky sophomore has a multifaceted offensive game, as he is capable of scoring with his back to the basket and facing up to attack from the perimeter. Blessed with good length and the ability to cover ground, Washington’s versatility should allow him to log time at both forward positions, much like Williams. — Ben Golliver
What he brings: Few players made greater strides from one season to the next than the 6-foot-8 Washington. As a freshman, the big scored .92 points per half-court touch, and his possessions were largely the result of post entries. And while Washington scored .98 points per post-up, when he left the block, the result wasn’t all that encouraging — turnovers and fumbles. This season, though, his game wholly shifted as a sophomore: not only did he score overall 1.01 points per play in the half-court, but he expanded his skill set to include a complementary pick and pop game (1.11 points per spot-up) and using a refined handle to drive the lane (1.25 PPP). That development was largely why Kentucky posted one of its best offensive efficiency ratings during coach John Calipari’s tenure (1.18 PPP). — Matthew Giles
13. Miami Heat: Tyler Herro, G, Kentucky
Analysis: Kentucky Coach John Calipari, long known for delivering players to the NBA, saw two of his Wildcats drafted back-to-back in the late-lottery. Herro, a talented scorer with deep range and some shake to his off-the-dribble game, joins a Heat backcourt that lost Dwyane Wade to retirement and has endured three straight injury-plagued seasons from Dion Waiters. — Ben Golliver
What he brings: The freshman was a catalyst for Kentucky’s offense in 2019. Per Hooplens.com, the team scored 1.14 PPP when the 6-foot-5 guard was on the court — second to only P.J. Washington. Herro’s shooting percentages fluctuated over the course of his lone college season — he shot 30 percent from deep in nonconference play, a rate which spiked to 42.1 percent in the SEC — but the guard hardly lacked for confidence: whenever he had an opening, Herro had fine-tuned a variety of feints, counters and step-backs to use and gain an even better look at the basket. And if he was covered, Herro was the best on the team at taking one-dribble and rising for a pullup jumper. Herro’s presence on the team erased any lingering concerns from 2018 that Kentucky still needed to better space the half-court. — Matthew Giles
14. Boston Celtics: Romeo Langford, G, Indiana (from Sacramento via Philadelphia)
Analysis: The Celtics used the first of their three first-round picks to grab Langford, a 6-foot-6 scoring guard who earned all-Big 10 honors as a freshman at Indiana. While Langford’s three-point shooting and distributing can improve, his strength on the ball and downhill style lead to a high volume of free throw attempts. With Kyrie Irving and Al Horford rumored to leave as free agents, Boston can use all the offense creation that it can get. — Ben Golliver
What he brings: While one isn’t likely blown away by Langford’s lone season at Indiana, what’s remarkable about his play was his ability to not only draw fouls, but also to convert those and-ones. The 6-foot-6 guard scored 1.36 points at the rim, which ranked among DI’s 87th percentile. Langford was one of the more skilled guards at isolating his opponent and, once he got a step past the initial contact, continuing unabated and slashing through the interior. Coupled with his free throw rate — drawing more than five fouls per 40 minutes — Langford is nearly automatic once he gets the ball within just a few feet of the bucket. — Matthew Giles
15. Detroit Pistons: Sekou Doumbouya, F, France
What he brings: The big’s greatest attributes are his physicality and athleticism — not only is the 6-foot-9 Doumboya capable of keeping opposing bigs off the glass, but he has the length and timing to project as a lockdown defender who can contain guards and bigs alike. But at this point in the Doumbouya’s development, he is very much still a project. — Matthew Giles
16. Orlando Magic: Chuma Okeke, F, Auburn
What he brings: Before the forward tore his left ACL in the NCAA tournament, the 6-foot-8 Okeke was one of the most interesting three-and-D players in recent college basketball. Per CBB Reference’s database, only Okeke and Robert Covington had a block rate of at least 5.4 percent, an assist rate of at least 3.6 percent, and converted 39 percent of their three-point field goals. The big fueled Auburn’s high-pressure offense, and his ability to stretch the floor, especially from the corners, enabled Jared Harper and Bryce Brown ample spacing to break down opposing defenses. — Matthew Giles
17. New Orleans Pelicans: Nickeil Alexander-Walker, G, Virginia Tech (from Atlanta via Brooklyn)
What he brings: Much is known about Alexander-Walker’s perimeter skill set — the 6-foot-5 guard made more than 38 percent of his threes during his two seasons at Virginia Tech — but his game evolved as a playmaker as a sophomore. Specifically, his plays+assists rate spiked from an overall 1.15 to 1.26, and while his evolution was a priority for Virginia Tech (guard Justin Robinson was sidelined with a foot injury for 11 games), Alexander-Walker assisted on more than a quarter of the team’s buckets, which effectively transformed him into one of the more difficult defensive assignments in the ACC. As soon as he would set up a defender, putting his man on his heels, just waiting for Alexander-Walker to spot-up and rise (1.01 points per jumper), the Hokies guard would slip a cross-court pass to a teammate beyond the three-point line. Alexander-Walker’s passing fueled the team’s torrid perimeter shooting — 39.4 percent, fourth best in DI — as nearly 50 percent of his assists resulted in a three. — Matthew Giles
18. Indiana Pacers: Goga Bitadze, C, Georgia
What he brings: A 6-foot-11 center, Bitadze is more known for his offensive skill set than how he performs on the other side of the ball, but that’s fine for NBA executives. Bitadze is well-skilled setting picks and screens and then rolling to the basket, using his soft hands and agility to corral the ensuing pass and then relying on his physicality to absorb and finish through contact. He has since begun to pair that interior scoring with a burgeoning perimeter game — Bitadze connected on 44 percent of his threes (largely the result of pick and pop possessions) in Adriatic and EuroLeague play. Though the big shows promise as a premier shot-blocker, he lacks the vertical speed to defend on the perimeter or containing quicker players, but Bitadze’s promise is intriguing to team craving a stretch-five who could transform into a shot-erasing defender patrolling the paint. — Matthew Giles
19. San Antonio Spurs: Luka Samanic, F, Croatia
What he brings: The 6-foot-11 big projects as a stretch-five who is also more than capable of pump-faking his defender on the perimeter and attacking the rim off the bounce. Samanic has the requisite footwork to fool even the most patient defenders, and he has a keen understanding of half-court spacing and how to find openings that best fit his offensive skill set. That said, he doesn’t yet possess the physicality to keep with fellow bigs, and he can’t consistently defend the perimeter, so while Samanic’s offense is NBA-level, his play on the other side of the ball needs more fine-tuning. — Matthew Giles
20. Philadelphia 76ers: Matisse Thybulle, G/F, Washington (from L.A. Clippers via Memphis and Boston)
What he brings: Some may argue that Thybulle’s defensive brilliance was augmented by two seasons playing the vaunted Syracuse 2-3 zone under Coach Mike Hopkins, but that negates the length, defensive timing and technique that Thybulle demonstrated during his college career. The 6-foot-5 guard led the team in both block and steals rate each season at the Pac-12 school, and per Hooplens.com, the team held opponents to .89 PPP whenever Thybulle was on the court. As soon as an opponent would drive the lane, Thybulle would suddenly materialize for a strip; should that same player kick the ball the perimeter, there was Thybulle for the block. One of the most versatile defenders in the past several seasons of college basketball. — Matthew Giles
21. Memphis Grizzlies: Brandon Clarke, F, Gonzaga (from Oklahoma City)
What he brings: The best player in college basketball this past season not named Zion Williamson. The Gonzaga forward, who transferred from San Jose State before the 2018 season, showcased a level of efficiency that would have been unheralded if not for Zion’s presence. Though the two aren’t all that similar, they do have two traits in common: They are the only two players the past two decades to have a PER of 37 and a box plus-minus of 18. Where Clarke excels is using exquisite body control and technique to exploit defenses on the interior. Per Synergy Sports, he scored well more than one point per cut, post-up, putback, and P&R. Clarke was near automatic whenever he got a touch. And what made Gonzaga’s defense so impenetrable in 2019 — the squad posted a defensive efficiency rate of .91 PPP, the second-lowest rate by a Mark Few-coached team in his Gonzaga tenure — was that Clarke covered much of the team’s defensive liabilities. Not only did Clarke’s block (11.3) and steal rates (2.3) lead Gonzaga, but the rates compare favorably to that of players like Anthony Davis, Joel Embiid and Nerlens Noel. The combination of his defensive instincts and soft interior touch portend a prospect that might be the draft’s sleeper pick. — Matthew Giles
22. Boston Celtics: Grant Williams, F, Tennessee
What he brings: The undersized junior played more than 3,600 possessions this past season, per Hooplens.com, and his points per possession differential was plus-.21, a clear indication of Williams’s impact at Tennessee. The 6-foot-7 big was a paradigm of efficiency — his usage rate ranked eighth of the 10 players ranked within KenPom’s player of the year list, while his offensive rating was third-best among the group — and his scoring profile compares favorably to such college-to-NBA luminaries as John Collins, Jakob Poeltl and yes, Zion Williamson. Much of Williams’s scoring is either on the midrange or interior, but that was largely a product of Coach Rick Barnes’s game plan, as the team overall was one of the most perimeter-adverse squads in DI in 2019. Coupled with how Williams projects as a staunch defender, using his strength and agility to keep opponents from turning the corner and gaining an angle, and as a facilitator (219 assists in three seasons), and it’s little wonder why Williams is spoken of as a potential Draymond Green-type player. — Matthew Giles
23. Oklahoma City Thunder: Darius Bazley, F (from Memphis via Utah)
What he brings: A former five-star recruit who spent his freshman season interning at New Balance (he bypassed college after committing to Syracuse), Bazley is very much an unknown — a 6-foot-9 forward with NBA-level athleticism who is still developing a perimeter game. It’ll likely take Bazley some time to shed the rust that invariably occurred from sitting out this past season, but Bazley is a pick in which how he projects is all that really matters. — Matthew Giles
24. Phoenix Suns: Ty Jerome, G, Virginia (from Boston via Philadelphia)
What he brings: An ultimate competitor, the 6-foot-5 guard blends a pass-first instinct (assisting on a third of Virginia’s buckets) with a knockdown perimeter game (Jerome connected on nearly 40 percent of his threes during his UVA career). The junior is versatile and crafty, and he thrives slicing through the lane and using his body’s position and footwork to get shots up over taller defenders: per Synergy Sports, Jerome scored 1.24 points per guarded catch-and-shoot jumper, which ranked in the top 80 of all DI players. The Celtics sent center Aron Baynes to Phoenix in this trade. — Matthew Giles
25. Portland Trail Blazers: Nassir Little, F, North Carolina
What he brings: The freshman’s lone season at Chapel Hill was marred by inconsistency — both in terms of playing time but also how he then performed once he earned those minutes. Standing 6-foot-6, Little was at his best in transition (scoring 1.14 points per fast break, the team’s second-best rate) and corralling offensive boards and then converting those caroms (he grabbed more than 9 percent of UNC’s misses and scored 1.24 points per putback, a rate which ranked within DI’s top 100). That was the extent of Little’s production as a Tar Heel — whenever his game expanded beyond his comfort zone as a rim-running big, the results weren’t encouraging, and his freshman season didn’t justify the hype of his commitment to Coach Roy Williams. His arrival didn’t intensely alter the program, but whenever he took the court, his game would improve ever so slightly. — Matthew Giles
26. Cleveland Cavaliers: Dylan Windler, G/F, Belmont (from Houston)
What he brings: One of the craftiest scorers in college basketball, the 6-foot-8 Windler converted more than 50 percent of his two-point field goals and 40 percent of his threes the past three seasons. And while that efficiency didn’t translate against high-majors in 2019 — his offensive rating was just 1.01 PPP — Windler always seemed to find the open seam on the court in which he could exploit the defense. — Matthew Giles
27. Los Angeles Clippers: Mfiondu Kabengele, F, Florida State (from Brooklyn via Denver)
What he brings: An underrated scorer within a Florida State offense that often stagnated when the 6-foot-10 sophomore wasn’t on the court — his PPP (1.07) led the team among those who accounted for more than a 1,000 offensive possessions. And yet the big isn’t simply a low-post banger — his game has nuance, and a keen understanding of where best to attack the defender. Kabengele dropped 1.3 points per roll, and he’d often find himself into open space with oodles of time to softly connect on a midrange jumper. — Matthew Giles
28. Golden State Warriors: Jordan Poole, G, Michigan
What he brings: The 6-foot-5 guard is an intriguing selection, as he clearly needs to develop his game. His handle isn’t that tight and he doesn’t often attack off the bounce. Rather, he prefers to try to break down opponents on the perimeter before launching a three-pointer. He did make 36 percent of those shots during his two seasons at Michigan, but he needs much more playing time to fully round-out his scoring skill set. — Matthew Giles
29. San Antonio Spurs: Keldon Johnson, G, Kentucky (from Toronto)
What he brings: There are few that can get hot as quickly as Johnson, a 6-foot-6 guard who was one of the best shooters on the team at connecting guarded catch-and-shoot jump shots (1.04 points per play). His game is still very much evolving, but Johnson’s ability to seek out a possession and find his shot within the half-court was a rarity in college basketball last season — per Synergy Sports, he scored .97 PPP in the half-court, which ranks in the 80th percentile. — Matthew Giles
30. Cleveland Cavaliers: Kevin Porter Jr., G, Southern California (from Detroit via Milwaukee)
What he brings: Not withstanding an up-and-down freshman season, one in which the 6-foot-6 guard was suspended for several games, the skill set that Porter Jr showcased at USC should translate well to the NBA. Per Hoop-math.com, roughly 21 percent of his attempts in the half-court were at the rim, and he converted a whopping 72 percent of those shots — a percentage that led the Trojans. As evidenced, the guard is more than capable of finishing in traffic above the basket. And while the rest of his game is very much a work in progress — he only attempted 68 three-pointers (though he made 41 percent of those shots), and he struggled with his playmaking in pick and roll and isolation possessions — his innate ability to gain an angle on the defender and then slither into the lane is an element most guards need to train and develop within their respective games. — Matthew Giles
31. Brooklyn Nets: Nicolas Claxton, F, Georgia (from New York via Philadelphia)
32. Miami Heat: KZ Okpala, F, Stanford (from Indiana, via Phoenix)
33. Boston Celtics: Carsen Edwards, G, Purdue (from Philadelphia, via Cleveland, Orlando and New York)
34. Atlanta Hawks: Bruno Fernando, C, Maryland (from Philadelphia via Chicago and Los Angeles Lakers)
35. New Orleans Pelicans: Marcos Louzada Silva, G, Brazil (from Atlanta)
36. Charlotte Hornets: Cody Martin, G, Nevada (from Washington via Orlando, Denver and Atlanta)
37. Detroit Pistons: Deividas Sirvydis, F, Lithuania (from Dallas)
38. Chicago Bulls: Daniel Gafford, C, Arkansas (from Memphis)
39. Golden State Warriors: Alen Smailagić, F, Serbia (from New Orleans)
40. Sacramento Kings: Justin James, G/F, Wyoming (from Minnesota via Portland and Cleveland)
41. Golden State Warriors: Eric Paschall, F, Villanova (from Atlanta via Los Angeles Lakers, Cleveland and Indiana)
42. Washington Wizards: Admiral Schofield, G/F, Tennessee (from Philadelphia, via Sacramento, Brooklyn and Milwaukee)
43. Minnesota Timberwolves: Jaylen Nowell, G, Washington (from Miami via Charlotte)
44. Denver Nuggets: Bol Bol, C, Oregon (from Miami via Atlanta and Charlotte)
45. Dallas Mavericks: Isaiah Roby, F, Nebraska (from Detroit)
46. Los Angeles Lakers: Talen Horton-Tucker, G, Iowa State (from Orlando via Brooklyn, Memphis and Charlotte)
47. New York Knicks: Ignas Brazdeikis, F, Michigan (from Sacramento via Orlando)
48. L.A. Clippers: Terance Mann, G, Florida State
49. San Antonio Spurs: Quinndary Weatherspoon, G, Mississippi State
50. Utah Jazz: Jarrell Brantley, F, College of Charleston (from Indiana)
51. Boston Celtics: Tremont Waters, G, LSU
52. Charlotte Hornets: Jalen McDaniels, F, San Diego State (from Oklahoma City)
53. Utah Jazz: Justin Wright-Foreman, G, Hofstra
54. Philadelphia 76ers: Marial Shayok, F, Iowa State
55. Sacramento Kings: Kyle Guy, G, Virginia (from New York via Houston)
56. Brooklyn Nets: Jaylen Hands, G, UCLA (from Clippers via Portland, Detroit and Orlando)
57. Detroit Pistons: Jordan Bone, G, Tennessee (via Atlanta, Philadelphia, Denver, Milwaukee and New Orleans)
58. Utah Jazz: Mye One, G, Yale (from Golden State)
59. Toronto Raptors: Dewan Hernandez, C, Miami
60. Sacramento Kings: Vanja Marinkovic, G, Serbia (from Milwaukee)
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