By: Nick Galle
The 2019 NBA Draft was one that was filled with stars, trades, and a plethora of talent that could potentially be the future faces of the league within the coming years.
While much of the hype surrounded first overall pick Zion Williamson, there were a lot of moves made that you might have missed. Here are some of my takeaways from this year’s draft, along with some predictions regarding those that got their name called on draft night.
Portland Trail Blazers Draft Nassir Little with the 25th Overall Pick:
The UNC forward was speculated to be drafted earlier, but ended up falling to 25th and was drafted by the Trail Blazers. Little averaged 9.8 points, 4.6 rebounds, and shot 48% from the field through his only season of college basketball and has a lot of potential, especially in a city with one of the best back courts in the league. Due to the deadly duo of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, Little could see a lot of opportunities handed to him in his rookie season. The former Tar Heel is still extremely young and has a lot of work to do if he wants to take his game to the next level in the NBA. It is easy to see why other teams shied away from taking Little, but you have to like the upside this kid has, especially if he develops into the player he can be. Little could be a bust, but he was definitely worth the risk at pick 25.
Carsen Edwards: A Steal for the Boston Celtics with the 33rd Pick
While this pick will likely go overlooked, the Boston Celtics got a guy that perfectly fits within the parameters of a new era that the Celtics are about to enter. After trading Aron Baynes and awaiting the departures of veterans Kyrie Irving and Al Horford, the Celtics have shifted their mindset to building around Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. Is Carsen Edwards going to trot into Boston and immediately fill Kyrie Irving’s spot and become an instant superstar? Not a chance. With that being said, the Celtics silently drafted one of the best isolation scorers that we saw in the NCAA last season, and that should not go unnoticed. Edwards notably hit 10 threes and scored 42 points against Virginia in the NCAA tournament despite being on the losing side of things. While Edwards might be ignored due to his height, there is no doubt that he is an elusive scorer. Again, don’t expect Edwards to come out of the gates averaging 42 points per game, but alongside Romeo Langford and Grant Williams, the Celtics are certainly headed in the right direction of building around the young guns.
Prediction: Ja Morant Will Win Rookie of the Year Honors
Zion Williamson has been the center of the sports media over the past year, and it was no different on draft night. Williamson went first as expected, but I truly believe that former Murray State star Ja Morant is the best player coming out of the 2019 draft class. While Williamson is a great player and freak athlete, the amount of hype surrounding him is at a point that is so high that he would essentially have to have the perfect season in order for him to live up to the standards set for him by the city of New Orleans and the NBA community. What people must remember is that Williamson will play his first NBA game at just 19-years-old. Putting an entire city on the back of a 19-year-old is no easy task, especially considering most kids Williamson’s age cannot even handle the responsibility of doing their own laundry. Pelicans fans expectations are even higher after losing superstar Anthony Davis in a trade with the Lakers. I feel as if New Orleans expects Zion to be a knight in shining armor that will fill the hole left by Davis almost immediately. That will not be the case, and I simply don’t see Zion living up to his expectations. The former Blue Devil likely won’t be a complete bust, but it is not out of the realm of possibility that he ends up in a situation like Markelle Fultz once did.
After averaging 24.5 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 10.0 assists this past season, Morant will only be 20-years-old when he takes the floor for his first NBA game. But, in a city like Memphis that does not have sky high expectations for this season, I think that we will see Morant play in an extremely relaxed manner. With the departure of Mike Conley to the Utah Jazz, the door is wide open for Morant and the team is his if he wants it. Both players are expected to be seen as leaders on their teams for years to come. With the former Murray State standout’s explosive play-making ability, scoring skills, and ability to involve teammates, look for Ja Morant to be the Rookie of the Year for the 2019-2020 season. Putting such a talented player who can literally do it all in such a low pressure situation in Memphis is surely a recipe for success.
Bol Bol Falls to No. 44
The 7’2″ big man was drafted with the 44th pick by the Miami Heat and was then traded to the Denver Nuggets. Many were surprised that Bol slid all the way to the second round, but he slid with good reason. The Oregon center has already shown that he might struggle with injury throughout his career and his current body frame might not be a fit in today’s NBA. In a league with a lot of strong, thick centers, Bol might not be able to compete at the level he will need to in order to be a significant piece on a winning team. Perhaps he will be able to overcome his injuries and learn a thing or two from Nikola Jokic, and if he puts on muscle in the coming years, Bol might be able to make a name for himself in the league.
Cover photo via: Joseph Applegate/complex.com
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