Biggest snubs and surprises of NBA draft: Wizards taking Hachimura at No. 9 a shocker
This year's NBA draft had one of the most foreseeable top three picks in recent memory. After that, things took a wild and unpredictable turn via trades and head-scratching selections.
Some teams drafted players surprisingly early, while others took players who had unexpectedly slipped from their pre-draft forecast.
It's not to say mock draft boards are always spot-on, but some of the picks Thursday night had analysts perplexed about what some teams were thinking.
USA TODAY Sports examines the biggest surprises and snubs of the 2019 draft:
Surprise — the Wizards taking Rui Hachimura at No. 9. The former Gonzaga forward was expected to be a lottery pick based on his improvement into a college All-American. But then he skipped the combine and didn't do much to enhance his stock. Most analysts had Hachimura later in the first round because teams weren't sold on his upside, and Washington never met with the stretch forward before draft day — making this a surprising pick.
Former Gonzaga forward Rui Hachimura was drafted by the Wizards at No. 9. (Photo: Brad Penner, USA TODAY Sports)
Surprise — the Suns taking Cam Johnson at No. 11. Johnson was a projected first-rounder, sure. But a lottery pick? The 6-9 forward was a fantastic outside shooter at the college level, but the Suns took a 23-year-old without much ceiling and someone they arguably could've gotten later in the first round.
Coby White's reaction to Cam Johnson getting drafted No. 11 overall to Phoenix is priceless. pic.twitter.com/W2Oe6BSvkR
Surprise — the Magic taking Chuma Okeke at No. 16. An ACL tear during Auburn's Final Four run kept Okeke as a projected second-round pick on most draft boards. But the Magic rolled the dice. Was it a reach? Injuries always blur the picture, and perhaps Okeke would've been a lottery pick if the injury weren't keeping him out. Getting first-round steals takes bold decisions, and this was one of them.
Snub — the Grizzlies taking Brandon Clarke at No. 21. On some draft forecasts, Clarke was taken ahead of his Gonzaga teammate Hachimura, but the pair flip-flopped from lottery pick and mid-to-late first-rounder. Clarke's shot-blocking ability and offensive prowess in the NCAA tournament showed great upside. So getting him this late is a bargain.
Surprise — the Thunder taking Darius Bazley at No. 23. The 6-9 forward didn't play college basketball or overseas. He worked as an intern with New Balance after initially planning to play in the G-League; instead, he took a year off, training for the next level. His presence at the combine reminded scouts that the former Syracuse prospect was still a viable option, but this is way too high for such a small sample size, and he didn't exactly wow at the combine.
Snub — the Trailblazers taking Nassir Little at No. 25. Little was considered a top-three pick coming out of high school, but an underwhelming freshman campaign at North Carolina pushed him out of the top-pick discussion. Still, he has obvious lottery talent, and it seems too much stock was put into his miscast role in UNC's system. He's got the athleticism and motor to be an All-Star and is the steal of the draft.
Surprise — the Warriors taking Jordan Poole at No. 28. Golden State is in significant need of shooting after Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson's injuries. But Poole, a Michigan product who probably could've used another year to develop, seems like a reach. The Warriors have a track record of making smart picks, but if they wanted a player to have immediate impact, it's hard to see Poole coming into his own that early.
Snub — the Nets selecting Nicolas Claxton at No. 31. Claxton was left waiting in the green room when his name wasn't called in the first round, a surprising development considering how much the former Georgia forward elevated his stock at the combine and in team workouts. Instead, Claxton was the first name called by deputy commissioner Mark Tatum.
Snub — the Nuggets selecting Bol Bol at No. 44. It's bizarre that Bol, a 7-foot-2 shot-blocker and 20-and-10 guy at the college level, fell this far. Even his injuries (an ankle injury and stress fracture in his foot cut short his freshman year at Oregon) don't explain why so many teams looking for his size and versatility passed. The Nuggets have benefited from not following the norm two years in a row, drafting an injury-hampered Michael Porter Jr. last year and now Bol, a potential top-10 pick if the injury hadn't derailed him.
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