We are less than a week away from the 2019 NBA Draft! Now that pre-draft workouts are wrapping up all around the league, the countdown to draft day is on. With the Pelicans acquiring the Lakers pick (for now?), things are getting very interesting in the middle of the lottery.
Let's take a look at how we see the NBA Draft going down and who the Trail Blazers might pick at No. 25. This upcoming field of players has the potential to impact the balance of power in the NBA for many years to come…
No. 1 [Pelicans] -- Zion Williamson, Forward, Duke
Minutes after New Orleans won the draft lottery in May, all the buzz was about the addition of Williamson possibly swaying Anthony Davis to stay in the Big Easy. As it turns out, Davis is now in Hollywood and the Pelicans added a few solid pieces to go along with their prized top pick (not to mention a haul of future draft picks). Williamson has been talked about for months as the best prospect in this draft class. He’s a 6-7 forward weighing in at 284 lbs who was an extremely entertaining player to watch while his athleticism was on full display while at Duke. Averaging 22.6 points, 8.9 rebounds and 2.1 assists as a first-year player, Williamson led the Blue Devils to the Elite Eight. Now with the Pelicans, he'll be tasked with leading a core of young players including Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart on a playoff hunt in the coming years.
No. 2 [Grizzlies] -- Ja Morant, Point, Murray State
When the first reports broke about Morant undergoing “a minor arthroscopic procedure" on his right knee, the rumors started swirling that Memphis was no longer interested in Morant’s services. However, with Morant’s rehab timeline revealing he should be ready to go in early July, it looks like the Grizzlies will still take him No. 2 overall. Adding fuel to the fire, recent rumors have longtime Grizzly point guard Mike Conley possibly on the trading block, which would make it all the more likely that Morant is the Grizzlies' man. Morant would be add some flare to the grit-and-grind style in Memphis. After all, Morant put on a show at Murray State. The 6-3 sophomore excels at getting to the rim. He also easily breaks down defenders with his smooth handles. He is a guard who can get his teammates involved as well.
No. 3 [Knicks] -- RJ Barrett, Forward, Duke
Barrett is a high-energy player, and was Duke’s most consistent scorer. There’s no doubt he will be a high pick on Draft Night, though Barrett will need to work on his ball handling to become more efficient in the half court. The 19-year-old, whose birthday was June 14th, has met with both the Knicks and the Grizzlies. Stay tuned for some possible draft night drama however, if the Knicks don't select Barrett, and he falls into a reunion with his Blue Devil teammate Zion Williamson at the Pelicans 4th overall pick. FUN FACT: Barrett’s Godfather is former NBA star Steve Nash.
No. 4 [Pelicans from Lakers] -- De’Andre Hunter, Forward, Virginia
We'll start with a disclaimer: It's very possible, even likely, that the Pelicans trade this freshly-acquired pick. That being said, if they do make the selection, signs point to De'Andre Hunter. Hunter is a solid on-ball defender, who has great size and can knock down big shots, as seen in the NCAA Title game with his game tying three-pointer with 12.9 seconds left in regulation. The NABC Defensive Player of the Year, Hunter was matched up on Jarrett Culver all night in a battle of future pros. Hunter held Culver to 5-of-22 from the field and is now a National Champion. Hunter's shotmaking ability would be a nice compliment to the playmaking ability of the Pelicans' top pick Zion Williamson.
No. 5 [Cavaliers] -- Jarrett Culver, Guard, Texas Tech
Culver has been targeted as a high lottery pick since Texas Tech advanced to the NCAA Championship game. The 6-5 junior picked up his scoring over the last month of the college season, and showed off his versatile offensive game during this past March Madness. Culver has also proven he is an above-average perimeter defender. His jumpshot is still a work in progress, though he would have lots of time to work on that with the rebuilding Cleveland Cavaliers.
No. 6 [Suns] -- Darius Garland, Point Guard, Vanderbilt
Crafty, quick, elite ball handler, with an impressive pull-up off the dribble – these skills all describe Garland. The Vanderbilt Freshman suffered a knee injury back in November that caused him to miss a big chunk of the college basketball season, but scouts have seen enough of his offense to take a chance on him. Garland needs work on the other end of the ball though.
No. 7 [Bulls] -- Coby White, Point Guard, North Carolina
White has proven he has the ability to create shots off the dribble effectively and efficiently. He also has nice size to be able to defend NBA shooting guards. Chicago lacks true star-power at the guard position (and really on the entire roster, to be honest) so White could break into the rotation quickly with the Bulls.
No. 8 [Hawks] -- Cam Reddish, Forward, Duke
Another Duke star, Reddish is a 6-9 freshman and is seen as having big potential. He’s a versatile small forward and has a quick release. Reddish didn’t quite live up to the hype at Duke, but there are still several NBA teams out there that are excited about his potential. Reddish would give the Hawks another big man to put around sophomore guard Trae Young.
No. 9 [Wizards] -- Jaxson Hayes, Forward, Texas
Hayes is a valuable rim protector and a threat to score the ball as well. He averaged 3.8 blocks per 40 minutes while shooting an efficient 72.8 percent from the field. Hayes has all the right physical tools needed for the next level. He has been compared to Nets forward Jarrett Allen.
No. 10 [Hawks from Mavericks] -- Brandon Clarke, Power Forward/Center, Gonzaga
Clarke is on the older end of the spectrum at 22-years-old. The 6-8 big man has been surging up the draft boards after his impressive and gutty performance in the Big Dance. He caught a lot of attention when he scored 36 points in Gonzaga’s 83-71 win over No. 9 seed Baylor in the second round. Clarke was a consistent scorer most of the season, shooting nearly 70% from the field. But, it’s his rim protection and his overall defense that has really turned heads. Clarke averaged 1.2 steals and 3.2 blocks per game this season.
WHAT ABOUT THE TRAIL BLAZERS?
No. 25 [Blazers] -- Admiral Schofield, Small Forward, Tennessee
First and foremost, you have to love a guy named Admiral. And even better, his brother's name is General. His family's navy roots aside, Schofield is a rare four-year player in the first round, having improved his stats each season at Tennessee. The Volunteers had a great season and Schofield showed himself to be a steady outside shooter and a fiery competitor. Portland worked him out recently and if they don't trade this pick, they may decide to bring him aboard.
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