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Duke's Zion Williamson

NBA Draft Recap & Surprises From A Hectic Thursday Night

The first two rounds of the NBA Draft were concluded Thursday night after a night full of excitement, tears, rebuilds and big storylines.

The first three presumptive picks of Zion Williamson, Ja Morant and RJ Barrett went as expected. Williamson joins a young New Orleans Pelicans squad that is bolstered with exciting talent, while Morant heads to Memphis to join a Grizzlies team that lacks superstar ability, but has an exciting prospect in their hands. Barrett perhaps joins the toughest of the lot with the New York Knicks. The Knicks lack just about everything in terms of back court and front court play, but with an immense amount of cap space to work with this offseason, expect the Knicks to make some major offseason moves to build around Barrett.

Outside the top three picks, trades were happening left and right with teams moving up or down the draft. The first major trade happened around an hour before the draft, where the Pelicans had the fourth pick, but traded it to the Atlanta Hawks for their respective eighth, 17th and 35th pick in the draft. With the Hawks moving up to make sure they get their guy, they selected Virginia forward DeAndre Hunter.

With this news breaking, Pelicans VP of basketball operations David Griffin has been on fire in terms of bolstering his squad even further. After the Pelicans traded Anthony Davis to the Los Angeles Lakers, this is what he got in return in the last few weeks:

The Pelicans used their No. 8 pick to draft a much-needed big in Jaxson Hayes from Texas. With Julius Randle opting out of his deal with the Pels, they needed a big to go along with Williamson. They also drafted Nickeil Alexander-Walker in their 17th pick, a 20-year-old guard from Virginia Tech.

Besides the Pelicans having an outstanding night, the Cleveland Cavaliers obtained three new players as well. Back into the lottery, they held the fifth pick and selected Vanderbilt guard Darius GarlandThis pick turned a few heads as the Cavs drafted guard Collin Sexton with their eighth pick in last year’s draft. With two stars that need to be on the floor, but are both under 6-foot-2, its unsure what new head coach John Beilein could be planning. The Cavs also had the 26th and 30th pick where they selected Belmont forward Dylan Windler and Kevin Porter Jr. from USC.

Trades continued in the lottery after the Phoenix Suns gave up their sixth pick for the Minnesota Timberwolves‘ 11th and forward Dario Saric. The T-wolves brought home NCAA finalists Jarrett Culver, a guard who will complement well with Andrew Wiggins. The Chicago Bulls had the seventh and went with their guy they’ve been tracking for awhile, North Carolina’s Coby White. One of the more heart-warming surprises of the night was White’s former UNC teammate Cameron Johnson being drafted in the lottery at 11th to the Suns.

The Washington Wizards drafted Rui Hachimura with their ninth pick out of Gonzaga. Hachimura becomes the first Japanese player in NBA history to be a first-round draft pick.

To cap off the top 10, the Hawks drafted Cam Reddish from Duke. Reddish joins an exciting young team like the Pelicans with last year’s NBA rookie of the year contender Trae Young, along with their fourth pick Hunter.

Michael Jordan’s Charlotte Hornets grabbed the first player from Kentucky with their 12th pick, PJ Washington. Washington’s former teammate at UK was picked next at 13th, Tyler Herro, by the Miami Heat.

To cap off draft night, big surprises were the falling of UNC’s Nassir Little going as low as 25 to the Portland Trail Blazers. Along with Little, 7-foot-2 Bol Bol fell to 44th overall to the Denver Nuggets. Both were projected lottery picks before the start of last season.

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Written by Tyler Pence

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