CANTWELL: Breaking down the landing spots for Virginia’s 2019 NBA Draft picks

How each former Cavalier fits their new team

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Former Virginia guards De'Andre Hunter, Ty Jerome and Kyle Guy were all chosen in the NBA Draft June 20. Courtesy Virginia Athletics

Three former Virginia guards — De’Andre Hunter, Ty Jerome and Kyle Guy — were chosen in the 2019 NBA Draft June 20. As the dust settles on the draft, let’s break down how each reigning NCAA champion fits on their new professional team.

DeAndre Hunter, Atlanta Hawks

After a couple of trades, Hunter was selected with the fourth overall pick by the Atlanta Hawks, joining former Virginia guard Justin Anderson who is entering his second season with the team.

In Atlanta, he will form a young core with guard Trae Young and forward John Collins, as well as former Duke forward Cam Reddish, that should be able to compete for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference immediately.

He enters the league as a high-floor player, ready to contribute all over the court without the pressure of being the primary scoring option for the Hawks. Going into the draft, there were concerns that Hunter would not be as effective a three-point shooter as he was at Virginia and would struggle to score consistently in the NBA. 

However, playing with Young should mitigate that issue. Young — a prolific shooter himself — was a finalist for Rookie of the Year this past season, making 32 percent of his threes. Shooting guard Kevin Huerter hit 39 percent of his own, while Reddish, chosen with the 10th overall pick this year, shot 33 percent from three in his sole season at Duke.

With capable shooters already on the roster, the Hawks are a team well-tailored to minimize Hunter’s weaknesses and help him thrive from day one. Beyond that, Hunter brings elite defense, versatile scoring and excellent physical tools to an Atlanta team that needs to fill multiple holes. 

While Hunter may not enter the NBA with immediate franchise-saving talent, he can strengthen Atlanta’s young core and help them build a team that can contend in the future.

Ty Jerome, Phoenix Suns 

Like Hunter, Jerome ended up at his final NBA destination via two trades. The 24th pick originally belonged to the Philadelphia 76ers but was traded to the Boston Celtics and finally to the Phoenix Suns, who made Jerome one of their first round selections.

Jerome — a 6-foot-5 guard — will join star guard Devin Booker, as well as 20-year-old center DeAndre Ayton, on the rebuilding Suns. The Suns also received center Aron Baynes, who played for Coach Tony Bennett at Washington State, in the trade with the Celtics to acquire the rights to Jerome.

Most mock drafts projected Jerome as a late first-round pick, going to a team that was already a title contender or close to being one. The Golden State Warriors, Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers were all possible destinations for Jerome, who could slot right in as an effective 3-and-D player off the bench.

However, Jerome’s role is going to be very different on the Suns, who are likely destined for the lottery for a second straight season. Jerome will have lots of opportunities to handle the ball and shoot threes on a team that finished last in the league in three-point shooting percentage last season and third-most turnovers.  

The Suns chose to punt after receiving the sixth overall pick in the lottery, trading it to Minnesota so that the Timberwolves could select Texas Tech shooting guard Jarrett Culver. On a struggling team like the Suns, Jerome is going to be command significant NBA minutes early in his career. 

This could help Jerome develop and prove himself since there isn’t any pressure to get results immediately and he won’t be pigeonholed into a bench role on a playoff team.

Jerome will also be playing Summer League basketball beginning July 6 with a former Virginia center Jack Salt who will be joining the Suns for the summer.

Kyle Guy, Sacramento Kings

Guy’s decision to stay in the draft may have raised some eyebrows when his name scarcely appeared in mock drafts. However, his choice paid off in the end as he went to the Sacramento Kings with the 55th overall pick. 

Under general manager Vlade Divac, the Kings have put together an exciting team of young players who excelled in college, including guards De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, Frank Mason and Yogi Ferrell in addition to forward Marvin Bagley.

Guy — the 2019 Final Four Most Outstanding Player — certainly fits this archetype. Coming into the draft, Guy was often written off as a great college player whose game won’t translate to the NBA. However, on the Kings, he will have several teammates who broke out of the same mold.

The Kings are crowded in the backcourt, but as a late second-round pick, Guy would have always had to fight for playing time wherever he went. Guy will have an opportunity to play with several budding playmakers in Sacramento which should help him excel as a sharpshooter in the NBA. 

While Guy will have a harder road to regular NBA minutes than either Hunter or Jerome, all three former Cavaliers will join teams that will give them excellent opportunities to succeed at the next level.

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