The news surrounding the 2019 NBA Draft has been dominated by three names. Today we take a look at who else has a chance to be selected in the lottery.
• Which point guard will be taken after Ja Morant
• De’Andre Hunter and Cam Reddish have tremendous upside
• Will the Lakers pick fourth or make a trade?
Who Goes Where Depends on The Team Picking
The first three pick were so obvious that regardless of who got them, those would have been the first three names called. There is a slight chance that Atlanta may have traded theirs had they been picking second as pairing Ja Morant and Trae Young would make no sense. This is purely speculation but if they would have ended up trading the pick, whatever team making that type of deal would be doing it to acquire Morant anyway.
The order of the drafter lottery after the first three picks is crucial because the remaining teams will be drafting according to their needs instead of simply taking the most talented player. The Phoenix Suns for example desperately need a point guard so even if there might be a better player available at a different position, it would make no sense for them to take a non point guard. The Los Angeles Lakers will most likely trade their pick as they are on LeBron James’ timeline right now. What the means is they don’t have time to draft a young player who will need time to develop. They need someone that is ready to compete now which means the most likely scenario is that they trade the fourth overall pick. The big problem facing the Lakers is that because the drop off in talent from the top 3 to rest of the draft is so big, this pick does not have nearly as much value in a trade as they would have hoped.
De’Andre Hunter Has Shown Huge Upside
On his way to helping his school win their first ever NCAA title, De’Andre Hunter proved what so many had projected about his development as a player. His skill set translates well to the NBA level and in the NCAA Championship game, he showed the type of clutch, no fear attitude that he didn’t always display during his college career. It isn’t because he didn’t have it in him, it really has more to do with the fact that Virginia uses a team first approach where no one player is greater than the sum of it’s parts.
The fact is, during the most important game in the history of his school, he was the best player on the court that night:
As for where he might get drafted that is less clear. The best fit for him seems to be the Cleveland Cavaliers with the number five pick. They already have a young point guard in Collin Sexton and Hunter is a multi dimensional player that will play more than one position as a pro. His offensive game seems to improve by leaps every year but it’s his defense that makes him a smart pick for the Cavs. While his already very good offensive game continues to grow, his defense is already elite for the college level.
The Best Point Guards Not Named Ja Morant
The next two players in terms of talent are point guards with one suffering an early season ending injury while the other came out of nowhere to emerge as the best player for the North Carolina Tar Heels. We’re of course talking about point guards Darius Garland and Coby White. Before getting injured, Darius Garland was the top ranked point guard ahead of Ja Morant in most mock drafts early in the year. Even if he didn’t get hurt, it’s safe to say Morant was so good that he would have passed him anyway. What let’s you know how good Garland is projected to be is that despite tearing the meniscus in his knee less than a year ago, he is still projected as a lottery pick. His most likely destination would be the Phoenix Suns who haven’t had a starting point guard since Eric Bledsoe went to the Milwaukee Bucks.
The one issue is that Garland is a shoot first point guard and teaming him with Devin Booker might not work if we think about how he might fit into their system. The upside to Garland being a shoot first guard is that he can shoot from anywhere, something he does better than any of the point guards available in the lottery, including Ja Morant. Having another elite shooter next to a big time scorer like Booker could be special if Garland learns to be a better playmaker. If he doesn’t go to the Suns, it could be because he was taken by the Cleveland Cavaliers earlier. Even though the Cavs have a young point guard already, not everyone is convinced that Sexton is capable of leading a team with a lot of veterans on the squad going as far as to say he doesn’t understand the game earlier this season. As for Coby White, he isn’t a traditional point either but his quickness and ability to shoot from deep look ready made for the NBA. He showed enough potential to move all the way into the draft lottery according to most scouts. Of all the players mentioned, he has made by far the biggest leap in terms of his ranking over the course of the season.
What Team Will Take a Chance On Cam Reddish?
The most difficult player to figure out is Cam Reddish of Duke. The often forgotten man during the Zion-RJ hype, he didn’t do himself any favors with some of his performances. He would downright disappear during stretches of the season and his poor play is one of the reasons Duke failed to win the national title. Nobody is saying it’s Cam Reddish fault but six months ago, he was thought of as the obvious third overall pick. Now he is more likely to fall closer to 10th than 3rd and that is due to his inconsistent play.
For those defending Reddish, it is easy to see their point of view as well. He was not in an ideal situation playing third wheel to Zion and RJ. He spent most of the time in catch and shoot situations and that was his first time playing that role. In high school he always had the ball in his hands even playing point guard for long stretches. To go from that to standing in the corner hoping someone kicks it out to you is not an easy transition for any player. On top of that he had to make the adjustment with the entire world watching your team’s every move. At his best, Cam Reddish has Paul George like potential according to most scouts, at least on offense.
Some people might think that’s a bit much but take a look at the similarities for yourself:
For that reason alone, teams will be reluctant to pass up on someone with that much of upside. If the Cleveland Cavaliers don’t pick Hunter at number 5, this would be the most sensible pick for them according to their roster needs. If he doesn’t go to the Cavs, expect to see the Bulls, Wizards or Hawks who have two top 10 picks take a chance on a player looking to prove doubters wrong.