A superstar, injuries, and a flawed greatness—that’s the story of the 2019 NBA draft so far.
There has rarely been a stronger consensus for the #1 pick than in the 2019 NBA Draft. That was the year of Zion Williamson. It blew the minds at Duke. It broadened horizons and changed how we talk about the prospects of the NBA. No one in college basketball has ever looked like this.
The Pelicans team was fortunate enough to select Williamson with the first overall pick. It’s been anything but smooth sailing since then. Williamson missed most of his rookie season, appeared on the brink of superstardom in his sophomore season, and then missed his entire third season. Injuries befell him at every turn, as did rumors of discontent. He butted heads with the Pelicans’ medical staff, and at one point it looked like he might try to force him out.
It just goes to show: There is no truly safe bet in the NBA Draft.
Who would finish first overall if the 2019 NBA Draft were held today?
Williamson has since signed an extension. He’ll probably appear a few more times at the New Orleans All-Stars before all is said and done. But swans, deep down, should be Second guess Their decision to draft Williamson. He’s not the only superstar or player next to star to come off the class of 2019. Ja Morant earned MVP votes last season and Darius Garland is a star all-offensive in Cleveland.
The 2019 NBA draft proved deep in talent, if a little shallow in terms of overall reliability. There are plenty of one-way players and injury-tainted careers on the agenda. Let’s see how it could have been done with the benefit of hindsight.
F, Cleveland Cavaliers
Darius Bazley pushed her into high gear defensively for the incoming Thunder. His positional versatility, ground-spacing ability, and flashes of raw athletic talent earn him a place in the first round.
g San Antonio Spurs
John Konchar is the perfect player in the NBA. He plays smart and unselfish basketball, races on defense and is an absolute spotter behind the three-point line.
g Golden State Warriors
Jaylen Nowell is an excellent heat-check scorer who can handle basketball and roast defenses with his pullover jacket. He needs to expand his skill set further, but his recording repertoire is hard to deny.
g Los Angeles Clippers
Coby White is an intriguing combo guard that has a lot of appeal in the long run due to his spot size and ability to score in combos.
F, Cleveland Cavaliers
Cody Martin doesn’t have the same job security as his twin brother at the moment, but he’s a similarly versatile defender and holds the increasingly valuable 3 and D position that many contenders covet.
F, Portland Trail Blazers
A former top recruit with plenty of raw power and a wingspan of 7-foot-2, Nasser Little’s defensive prowess should keep him on the NBA’s radar for a while. He’s also getting better at his 3-point range with each passing season.
c, Phoenix Suns
A skinny, explosive, space-gobbling athlete at midfield, Jackson Hayes did well at long minutes last season. He has the potential to be an effective brutal fire blocker.
F, Oklahoma City Thunder
Luguentz Dort’s raw scoring numbers are probably best taken with a grain of salt given his extreme ineptitude and the unique amount of opportunities he receives as part of the OKC rebuild. However, his solid defense on the ball is very real. He must make a future on the strength of his defense alone.
c, Boston Celtics
Daniel Gafford has played important minutes over the past few years in Washington. He is another bouncy athlete who can play over the rim, sniff rebounds, and block shots.
F, Memphis Grizzlies
Caleb Martin made his way into the starting minutes for the Heat. His versatile defense on the flank, combined with his knocking off the arc, makes Martin the poster child for 3D wingers.
F, Philadelphia Seventy Sixers
The scoring profile of Rui Hachimura is starting to look better. He hit 44.7 percent of his 3s last season. The first two years of his career felt largely like empty calories, but we were beginning to see the positive side of Hachimura’s physically imposing playing style.
c, San Antonio Spurs
Nas Reed was a great endless prospect coming out of LSU. It’s safe to say that his many quirks and majors have translated to the NBA level. Reed can use his strength to knock smaller defenders at the edge, but he’s also a keen runner in transition with a real ability to span the floor.
F, Indiana Pacers
Terance Mann’s Swiss Army Knife traits have found a comfortable home in the NBA. He can act as a groundsitter and play finisher, or he can play a backup small guard. His versatility and two-way versatility at 6-foot-5 make Mann an ideal modern winger.
g New Orleans Pelicans
Matisse Thybulle made two All-Defensive teams despite his limited minutes, which is no mean feat. His athletic performance, activity level and instincts are off the charts. Unfortunately, he is one of the worst offensive players in the NBA right now.
Kevin Porter Jr.
g Orlando Magic
Kevin Porter Jr.’s natural talent was never in question. He is a slippery scorer with great dexterity and flair. Having said that, he was plagued by “attitude” concerns early in his career and his role in the Rockets offense didn’t always seem sustainable. Does Porter’s current style of play translate into wins, or is he putting empty calories on the loss-hungry Rockets?
g Detroit Pistons
Max Stross came out of nowhere last season. He quickly rose from relative unknown to the starting winger for the top-seeded Miami Heat. Now he’s well established in that role, providing Miami with critical running backs and connective tissue on the offensive end.