At 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, the NBA draft will begin and prospects will learn their professional destination. The draft is considered top heavy, with three big-name players.
— NBA Draft (@NBADraft) June 20, 2019
The Big Three
Zion Williamson, 6’7 PF: Duke
Zion is the obvious choice after a dominant season with Duke. During his only collegiate season, he showed his freakish athleticism that makes him an easy pick. The Pelicans, unless there is an unexpected turn of events, will select him with the first overall pick. Williamson understands the pressure put on him but does not see it as a distraction.
Zion showcased acrobatic dunks throughout his collegiate and high school years and is eager to hear his name called by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. Up to this point, he did not care when his name would be called, and never even thought of it as possibility. He wants to take that next step.
When asked if he is ready to become the face of a franchise, Zion did not back down from the responsibility. The Pelicans selecting Zion with the number one overall pick means that they will receive a player eager to win. The face of the franchise needs to have that winning mentality.
Ja Morant, 6’3 PG: Murray St.
Morant is considered the number one guard in this draft. He possesses rare athleticism and scoring abilities, but teams are most excited about his defensive potential. Memphis currently holds the second overall pick and seems to be set on taking Morant with that selection.
Morant, a sophomore, made strides during his second collegiate season to put him in this position. During his freshman season, Morant averaged a modest 12.7 ppg. That number nearly doubled this past season with 24.5. Returning for his sophomore season locked him in as a top three pick.
RJ Barret, 6’7 SF: Duke
The third pick in the draft is where the real excitement will begin. The New York Knicks seem locked in on Barret with the third pick. There are now rumors that the Knicks may trade back to receive more picks and players. That opens up the possibility of Barret playing with Zion next year.
The Pelicans hold the fourth overall pick and have enough draft capital to try and strike a deal with the Knicks. Whether Barret ends up in the Big Apple or Big Easy, it is a win-win. He either ends up on his favorite team or with his best friend.
Other Players To Watch
Darius Garland, 6’2 PG: Vanderbilt
Garland has flashed potential when healthy. The problem is that he has had minimal time on the court. After only playing five games this past season, teams with him high on their draft board are hopeful the injuries will not hinder him at the next level.
Teams willing to look past the injuries will get a player with elite playmaking and ball-handling skills.
Jarret Culver, 6’7 SG: Texas Tech
Teams in need of a defensive player should have Culver high on their board. Culver can be trusted defending anywhere on the court. He also makes his presence felt on offense by average 18.5 PPG.
His offensive inconsistency is where to teams should worry. His three-point accuracy took a hit during his sophomore season, falling from 38% to 30%.
De’Andre Hunter, 6,7 SF: Virginia
Another player who benefited by returning for his sophomore season, Hunter improved in all areas of his game. His shot percentage, PPG and defensive stats shot up in his sophomore year.
His playmaking ability, as well as defensive versatility, make a likely candidate to be selected in the top five.
Coby White, 6’5 PG: North Carolina
White is a player that has no problem showing off his speed during games. He is a solid scorer and his 16.1 PPG shows that. White is a pro-ready prospect that will demand respect on the perimeter. This will open up a lot of opportunities for his teammates, wherever he ends up.
Teams that are picking after the Chicago Bulls at 7 will likely have to trade up if they want White.