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With the 2019 NBA Draft over, it’s time to talk winners and losers

The Pelicans walked out of the draft the biggest winners of the night after grabbing Zion Williamson.

The NBA world still is waiting for a team’s general manager or vice president of basketball operations to come into a media session right after a draft and admit: ‘‘We had a terrible draft. We don’t really like who we picked.’’

Bulls executive John Paxson wasn’t going to be the first to break the mold and even joked his draft room was sky-high with excitement about the team’s two selections Thursday, just like the 29 other teams in the NBA were about theirs.

‘‘Talking as we sat as a group, [GM] Gar [Forman] and [coach] Jim Boylen, we’re really excited about the possibilities,’’ Paxson said. ‘‘But this league is competitive. It’s difficult. Other teams are sitting there feeling like they did a great job with their draft and the direction they’re going.’’

Maybe, but not all of them should be. Here is a look at the winners and losers in the 2019 NBA Draft.



Even if they simply had drafted Zion Williamson first overall, they would have been sitting atop this category. But they did so much more.

New exec David Griffin previously had traded star big man Anthony Davis to the Lakers for the fourth overall pick — plus two future first-round picks — as well as Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart and Brandon Ingram, then traded back with that fourth pick to land big man Jaxson Hayes and versatile guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker.

Oh, by the way, the Pelicans also cleared cap space, so they have about $30 million to spend in free agency if they get that itch.


They landed Darius Garland, who might turn out to be one of the better shooters in the draft, and are trying to copy the Trail Blazers’ backcourt model.

But the real work came later, when they nabbed pure scorer Dylan Windler and traded back into the first round to grab the biggest risk/reward player in the draft in Kevin Porter Jr.


They had targeted De’Andre Hunter and did exactly what they needed to draft him, moving up to fourth overall to grab one of the more starter-ready players in the draft.

They then landed the enigmatic Cam Reddish 10th overall, gambling that he will become an elite forward now that he is away from the shadows of Coach K and Duke.

The best young offense in the Eastern Conference now has some defense.



They traded back from sixth to 11th and selected Cameron Johnson, a player they could have gotten late in the first round. Plus, they still didn’t address their point-guard problems.

Kris Dunn

The Bulls point guard said he wouldn’t be giving up his starting position without a battle. Well, a battle is coming.

In drafting Coby White seventh overall, the Bulls sent a message to Dunn that his play hasn’t been dynamic enough. To make matters worse, a source told the Sun-Times the Bulls will be shopping for a proven veteran in free agency to mentor White.

Dunn might be elsewhere by the start of training camp.

Bol Bol

No player built up more sympathy as the night went on than the son of late NBA big man Manute Bol. Whether it was his injury history or his lack of fire on the court, the 7-2 Bol fell out of the first round and was selected 44th overall by the Heat, who immediately traded him to the Nuggets.