Two of Tony Bennett’s big three–forward De’Andre Hunter and point guard Ty Jerome–were selected in the first round of the 2019 NBA draft on Thursday night. The duo is the ‘Hoos first ever pair of first-round picks in the same draft (big year for making history, huh) and Hunter went as the highest pick in Virginia history behind the legend himself, Ralph Sampson. The third star of this year’s national championship team, Kyle Guy, went late in the second round, marking the first time in the two-round era of the draft that UVA has had three players selected. Hunter walked across the stage at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. beaming while Guy and Jerome celebrated at home, but now that the dust has settled and the congratulations have circulated, let’s take a look at how the rookies fit with their new NBA teams.
DE’ANDRE HUNTER: No. 4 to Atlanta Hawks (via Lakers)
Dre was taken fourth overall by the Lakers...but will end up with the Hawks via a proposed trade. The Pelicans had acquired Los Angeles’ No. 4 pick through the Anthony Davis deal and then sent it to Atlanta via another trade. Of the three destinations, the Hawks are arguably the best fit for the 6’7” wing anyway.
Hunter, Duke’s Cam Reddish, who went with the No. 10 pick in the 2019 draft, and Maryland center Bruno Fernando, who was taken in the second round will join John Collins in the Hawks’ frontcourt. Trae Young–who Atlanta made a big move for in last year’s draft to take at No. 5 via a trade with the Mavericks–and Kevin Huerter will lock down the backcourt for a young but emerging Atlanta team. He’ll also be playing alongside fellow former Cavalier Justin Anderson, a similarly sized small forward who made 48 appearances off the bench for the Hawks last season, although Hunter is likely looking at more immediate minutes in Atlanta than Anderson has seen.
Generally, Hunter should fit well with the Hawks aforementioned roster. One of the best defensive prospects in this year’s class, he’ll contribute immediately on that side of the ball and should be able to knock down open threes off feeds from Young, giving Atlanta another perimeter threat from beyond the three-point line. Young is crafty, agile and intuitive enough to create plays for Hunter, as Jerome did at Virginia, so the two should be a nice complement to one another after a little adjusting.
Hunter has good size for an NBA small forward and is just the type of 3-and-D guy the Hawks need. Even as a rookie, the reigning national champ and National Defensive Player of the Year should be able to slot into a lineup right away. Add in that Atlanta has plenty of playmakers already, the Hawks can afford to give Hunter some breathing room when it comes to learning to create which make them an even better fit for the young forward.
Atlanta's young core gets deeper— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) June 21, 2019
Hawks (via Pels and Lakers) select De'Andre Hunter with the No. 4 pick in the NBA draft pic.twitter.com/iDzlER4MNk
TY JEROME: No. 24 to Phoenix Suns (via Celtics)
Jerome also landed in Phoenix via a series of draft-day trades. The Suns came back at No. 24 to take Jerome from Boston, who had acquired the pick from Philadelphia. While Phoenix is not necessarily an ideal landing spot for the sharp-shooting floor general, Jerome will get good minutes early on and he and fellow 2019 draftee Cameron Johnson (a UNC product who the Suns also got through a trade at No. 11) can just rain threes all over while the team continues to attempt a rebuild after a 19-63 season in 2018-19.
The 6’5” junior from New Rochelle, N.Y. joins a stellar young core in Phoenix and will play alongside fellow 2019 draftee Cam Johnson of North Carolina, Devin Booker, Mikal Bridges, and Deandre Ayton. He’ll also play alongside Celtics center Aron Baynes, who was reportedly acquired as part of the trade for the 24th pick. While Baynes adds some experience and can slot in as a backup for Ayton, Jerome brings impressive shooting, intangibles and basketball savvy which should turn him into a role player and potential long-term rotation piece on the Suns’ young team.
Jerome will slot in alongside Booker in the backcourt. He has good height for the point guard position at the next level and is just the type of passer and playmaker that pure shooters like Booker and Johnson need to really shine (and score) and can help the Bridges-Ayton frontcourt find a rhythm. His 32.6% assist rate and a strong basketball IQ combined with his feel for the game will hopefully start to facilitate a stronger showing in Phoenix than recent seasons.
FWIW, it looks like at least some Suns are excited about their new floor general.
KYLE GUY: No. 55 to Sacramento Kings (via Knicks)
While Virginia’s leading scorer Kyle Guy didn’t go in the first round like his former teammates, the smaller-sized sharp-shooting guard was taken with the No. 55 pick by the Kings, which they acquired from the Knicks who got it from Houston. New York traded up with Sacramento for Michigan forward Ignas Brazdeikis, who they then selected at No. 47. The Final Four MOP then landed with the Kings at No. 55. Guy would have joined Duke’s leading scorer R.J. Barrett, who the Knicks took at No. 3, in New York.
Instead, Guy will join Wyoming guard Justin James in Sacramento. The Kings, who didn’t have any first round picks, took James at No. 40. De’Aaron Fox runs the floor in Sacramento with shooting guard Buddy Hield completing the team’s starting backcourt, but James and Guy could slot in as backups to both. Fox and Hield are both solid scorers from beyond the arc so Guy will have to showcase another upside besides his abilities on the perimeter to earn a slot in the rotation. Marvin Bagley III and Bogdan Bogdanovic lock up the frontcourt.
One or both of their rookies could also end up on a two-way G League contract depending on how free agency shakes out and what new head coach Luke Walton wants to do. The Kings went 39-43 last season.
Former Cavalier Mariol Shayok–who transferred to Iowa State–went to the Sixers with the No. 54 pick in the second round.
All four of my dawgs got drafted tonight Kyle, Ty, Dredo, & Marial. I’m happy man ❤️— Isaiah Wilkins (@isaiahwilkins17) June 21, 2019
Now it’s a waiting game to see how next season goes for our new pros.