The Duke Blue Devils have no shortage of talented freshmen, many of which are set to make the jump to the next level after the year. Expecting to see at least three Duke standouts in the 2019 NBA Draft is realistic, and one which stands out in a big way is RJ Barrett. While Zion Williamson has (rightfully) received high praise for his dominant start to the year, both players are expected to be top-five picks.
But the question becomes exactly where and when Barrett will come off the board. The draft is expected to feature plenty of talent, including Williamson, Murray State’s Ja Morant, Gonzaga’s Rui Hachimura and another Duke freshman in Cam Reddish. The draft lottery will be vital this season for many teams, but any team who lands in the top-five, or one willing to swing a deal could wind up with Barrett.
We’re going to take a look at a few of the best fits for the Blue Devils star, all of which are likely to be realistic options on draft night.
The Chicago Bulls are an interesting fit, largely due to the fact that it’s unknown how they could approach the future. Zach LaVine is under contract through 2021-22 but Kris Dunn has just one year left on his current deal. Chicago’s recent trade for Washington Wizards forward Otto Porter also makes this interesting, as he’ll likely play small forward next to Lauri Markkanen.
When healthy, the Bulls have a strong core for a team likely to land near the top of the draft. In turn, they could select the best available player. Depending on where they pick, that could prove to be Barrett and would result in them adding one of the top talents in the draft to a young roster.
The idea of having Barrett come off the bench in Chicago is appealing for plenty of reasons, as he’d instantly bolster that group’s offensive outlook.
Heading into the 2019 offseason, the Atlanta Hawks will attempt to bolster an already young lineup headlined by Trae Young and John Collins. With Jeremy Lin set to head to free agency, the Hawks could use a new go-to scorer on the second unit. Beyond that, the future outlook after the 2019-20 season gets interesting.
Kent Bazemore has a player option for next season, but it’s likely he’ll pick it up as it’s worth just north of $19.26 million. Assuming that’s the case, the following offseason the Hawks will lose Bazemore and DeAndre’ Bembry while also having a team option on Kevin Huerter, per Basketball-Reference.
The Hawks and Barrett could be a great match and pairing him with Young and Collins for the long haul sets up an exciting trio.
The latest mock draft from NBADraft.net has Barrett going to the Cleveland Cavaliers, which makes sense as it fills an immediate need. This mock has the Duke star coming off the board with the No. 3 pick behind Williamson and Morant which seems to be a fairly popular consensus.
Following the 2018-19 season, the Cavaliers’ need at shooting guard will likely be pretty drastic. J.R. Smith is under a partially guaranteed contract but it’s a near-lock that he won’t be with the team beyond this season. Jordan Clarkson and Brandon Knight both have one year left on their deals which come with cap hits of more than $13.4 and $15.6 million, per Basketball-Reference.
Barrett’s scoring ability and obvious upside would make for a huge addition in Cleveland, and there’s a good chance he’d find his way into the starting five right away. He’d also take on a big scoring load with the team as well, making this an ideal fit for both parties.