Heading into the college basketball season, R.J. Barrett was the slight favorite to be the No. 1 pick, but Zion Williamson’s NBA draft stock could not be higher. Williamson is the new favorite to be the top pick in the 2019 NBA draft, and it is not particularly close.
There were questions about what position Williamson would play at the next level. Williamson’s game looks more like a big man, but at 6’7″ he is undersized in the NBA. Williamson’s height has not changed, but his versatility has shined through the early part of Duke’s season. Williamson can handle the ball like a guard while also possessing a traditional post-up game.
Williamson is averaging 22 points, 9.4 rebounds, 2.3 assists and two blocks this season. He is shooting just 28.6 percent from behind the three-point line, but Williamson’s shooting form looks solid. While many are suggesting Williamson shut things down to prepare for the NBA, the big man noted he was enjoying college before he heads to the NBA this summer.
“You do think about it, but this is the only time I get to experience college,” Williamson explained to ESPN. “And even if I could’ve went straight from high school [to the NBA], I would’ve come to college. I feel like college is something I couldn’t miss out on.”
Zion Williamson Is the Consensus No. 1 Pick in the 2019 NBA Draft
Not only is Williamson likely to be the top pick, but his Duke teammates Barrett and Cam Reddish have a good chance to also go inside the top five. Williamson was a household name long before he played for Duke, but some thought of the big man as simply a dunker. Williamson’s court vision and passing ability for a player his size are rare.
ESPN draft analyst Mike Schmitz broke down why Williamson is the first player atop NBA big boards.
While you never want to draw definitive conclusions six games into the season, it’s becoming clear that Williamson is the top prospect in this draft. The competitive nature and physical dominance he showed in a rigorous game against Gonzaga spoke volumes about his impact on winning. When he gets in an up-tempo system with plentiful space and the shooting coach to tap in to that natural touch? Look out…
High-ranking executives in Maui reiterated, “Don’t overthink this one” and “Don’t pass up on another unicorn.” There are certainly a handful of scouts and even general managers warning that it’s still early. They want to see how Duke’s other two freshmen progress, as Reddish remains the most talented of the bunch. But Williamson deserves the top spot now.
Who will select Williamson in the NBA draft? We will have to see how the lottery plays out but the Knicks, Suns, Cavaliers and Bulls are all fighting to have the best odds in the lottery.