On Tuesday night at the NBA Draft Lottery, the basketball world was thrown into a frenzy as the New Orleans Pelicans defied odds to win the top overall selection, despite just a six percent chance to win. For the trio of former Blue Devils expected to be taken in the lottery, it’s now starting to clear up on where they may start their professional careers. The Blue Zone takes you through how Zion Williamson, R.J. Barrett, and Cam Reddish can fit on some of their projected future teams:
Barring a blockbuster trade before draft night, the unanimous Player of the Year should almost certainly be headed to New Orleans with the first overall selection. Many pundits wondered before the lottery if the Pelicans would trade star big man Anthony Davis for the No. 1 pick and draft Williamson, but now general manager David Griffin finds himself with both. Griffin will surely turn his attention towards keeping Davis, who requested a trade in January and will become a free agent after next season.
With Davis in the folds in New Orleans with Zion, they would immediately form one of the most formidable frontcourts in the NBA. The Smoothie King Center could turn into another Lob City, with lead guard Jrue Holiday coming off a career year where he dished out just under eight assists per game to go along with 21.7 points per contest. Davis is the perfect fit as a big next to Williamson too, as the former Kentucky All-American can space the floor with a solid stroke from deep and run in transition.
Of course, the Pelicans could cave in and trade Davis away, suddenly making Williamson the main attraction surrounded by new, exciting young talent and possibly even a top player in this year’s draft — like a certain shooting guard that just so happens to be his best friend.
The 2019 draft has long been regarded as top heavy, with the trio of Zion, Murray State guard Ja Morant, and Barrett singled out as those with the most superstar potential. The Grizzlies hold the second pick in the draft and certainly could select Duke’s other All-American, however reports say that Memphis has already set their sights on Morant with their first pick. Barrett would fit nicely with the Grizzlies in the backcourt with Mike Conley Jr., giving them the volume scorer they have lacked in recent years. Not to mention, last year’s Memphis first rounder Jaren Jackson Jr. is a big man who has shown a great proficiency in shooting from deep, and could open driving lanes for Barrett.
However, it seems more than likely that the second Blue Devil off the board will be headed to the bright lights of the Big Apple.
The Knicks are perhaps the team that could fluctuate the most come this offseason, as ownership is all in on adding some big name stars in free agency. As of now, New York has some promising young pieces in Kevin Knox, Mitchell Robinson and Dennis Smith Jr. and loads of cap space, but don’t have a very clear direction of where it's headed. Holding the third pick is a chance to finally bring a star back to Madison Square Garden, as they have not selected that high since drafting Patrick Ewing with the No. 1 pick in 1985.
Barrett would immediately be the top option for the Knicks if added to their current roster, and could put up impressive all-around numbers in his first year. With their amount of cap space however, the Knicks are destined to add some more talent. It’s impossible to project which players would join the Canadian for his rookie year, but if reports of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving possibly teaming up on the Knicks are true, Barrett may struggle at times as the team’s third option—a role he’s never taken on—but could learn from in the long run.
While his former college teammates have clear roads ahead, it’s anyone’s guess on where Reddish will end up next season. Recent mock drafts have the 6-foot-9 forward as high as fourth to Los Angeles or even as far down as No. 11 to the Timberwolves. If Reddish’s freshman season was any indication, he will need to be the one with the ball in his hands to be at his best, rather than playing off ball as a three point threat.
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Scouts have raved about the Pennsylvania native’s raw talent, but he will need to be put in the right situation to maximize his ability. A team like the Lakers could drown out Reddish in his rookie season with LeBron and other young, talented wings Kyle Kuzma and Brandon Ingram taking up minutes and shots. The same can be said of the Wizards and their two All-Star guards John Wall and Bradley Beal.
Ultimately, Reddish would have the best chance to thrive in a place like Cleveland, where he would likely start from the first day and get access to a lot of shots. The Bulls could also provide an exciting environment, as their need for playmakers on the wing would give him opportunities in his first year, while their talented frontcourt could ease some of the pressure from a grueling rookie season.