When Zion Williamson woke up Tuesday morning, there were probably only three teams on his mind: the New York Knicks, Cleveland Cavaliers and Phoenix Suns. The New Orleans Pelicans? No way. But 24 hours later, that’s where he appears headed.
If NBA teams learned anything from the draft lottery Tuesday night, it’s that tanking is no longer a guarantee for a top draft pick. After having a 14 percent chance at the top pick, the Cavaliers and Suns fell to Nos. 5 and 6, respectively, while the Pelicans and their 6 percent chance got the No. 1 overall pick.
With the draft order decided, here’s an updated look at where the top prospects might land.
1. New Orleans Pelicans
F Zion Williamson, Duke, 6-8, 280
The basketball gods, a lucky tie and an angel figurine were all on David Griffin’s side in Chicago for the draft lottery. Pelican fans can hope and pray that they will see Zion and Anthony Davis on the same team, but there were multiple reports that said Davis is still interested in a trade. It will hurt to lose AD, but getting Zion softens the blow and gives a struggling franchise some hope for the future.
2. Memphis Grizzlies
PG Ja Morant, Murray State, 6-3, 175
Morant will be a perfect addition alongside last year’s No. 4 overall pick, Jaren Jackson Jr. Morant is the best passing guard in the draft, and with Jackson’s good hands and speed down the floor, this young point-forward tandem is the future for the Grizzlies.
3. New York Knicks
SG RJ Barrett, Duke, 6-7, 203
The Knicks are landing a Duke player but not necessarily the one they wanted. Make no mistake, though: They’re still getting a great player in Barrett. Before anyone saw Zion play a single game in college, Barrett was projected to be the No. 1 overall pick in this class. Barrett and Dennis Smith Jr. are highly competitive players with speed and athleticism, and it will be interesting to see how they jell next season.
4. Los Angeles Lakers
F De’Andre Hunter, Virginia, 6-7, 225
Hunter is still the best option for the Lakers, even if they choose to package him in a trade or keep him. He shot 55 percent from the field and 44 percent from 3-point range in a competitive ACC conference and led his team to a national title.
5. Cleveland Cavaliers
SG Jarrett Culver, Texas Tech, 6-6, 195
Jarrett Culver is a streaky shooter from behind the arc but his shot mechanics are there. With his size and length, Culver eventually will be a solid player alongside Collin Sexton. New head coach John Beilein is familiar with Culver’s game after facing Texas Tech in the NCAA tournament. Culver had 22 points in a 63-44 win against Michigan.
6. Phoenix Suns
PG Darius Garland, Vanderbilt, 6-2, 175
The Suns need a point guard, and even though it’s not Morant, Darius Garland will be a good fit for this young talented group. Garland only played five collegiate basketball games before suffering a season-ending knee injury but his draft stock hasn’t wavered. Garland is a true floor general who is a great passer, super quick in the lane and a solid defender. He might just be the missing piece alongside Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton.
7. Chicago Bulls
G Coby White, North Carolina, 6-5, 185
White is the best shooting point guard in the draft, and the Bulls desperately need a point guard. White made 82 threes this past season at North Carolina while averaging 16 points per game. White can fit any system with his patience in a halfcourt set and his shooter’s mentality.
8. Atlanta Hawks
G/F Cameron Reddish, Duke, 6-7, 215
If Reddish finds his 3-point stroke again, he and Trae Young will form a dangerous duo in Atlanta. Both players are familiar with one another after playing together at multiple USA Basketball training camps in high school, so there is a familiarity with each other’s games. Reddish struggled from behind the arc this past season at Duke, but he did win the McDonald’s All-American 3-point contest, so there is hope.
9. Washington Wizards
PF PJ Washington, Kentucky, 6-8, 235
Washington could have been a late second-round pick last year but elected to return to Kentucky to work on his game, and that paid off. Washington is a bully in the lane, good on defense and has a nice touch from 3-point range for a big. He’ll need to get stronger to face the East’s best big men.
10. Atlanta Hawks
C Jaxson Hayes, Texas, 6-11, 220
Hayes is a raw, talented player who will be a project for the Hawks. His ceiling is high and with added experience and the chance to learn under coach Lloyd Pierce, he could be an impactful center two or three years down the road.
11. Minnesota Timberwolves
F Rui Hachimura, Gonzaga, 6-8, 235
Hachimura embodies the term “positionless basketball.” He’s a hybrid small forward/power forward who defends the perimeter well. Hachimura is a student of the game and will grow tremendously playing alongside Karl-Anthony Towns.
12. Charlotte Hornets
C Bol Bol, Oregon, 7-2, 208
The son of Manute Bol has extreme upside with his size and natural talent but will be a project for any team. Charlotte is a great market for Bol to grow as an NBA player, and fans have a chance to see Bol at his best as he matures and adds weight to his lanky frame. Bol also is an elite rim protector. His timing on defense and blocks is probably only second to Zion.
13. Miami Heat
SG Romeo Langford, Indiana, 6-6, 210
After Dwyane Wade’s retirement, Langford is the ideal prospect to come in and fill Miami’s hole at shooting guard. Langford played with a torn ligament in his thumb during his one year of college ball at Indiana but was one of the top shooting guards in high school, averaging 28 points per game his senior season.
14. Boston Celtics
F Nassir Little, North Carolina, 6-6, 220
Little’s minutes were limited at North Carolina, but he is a very talented prospect. Little was the MVP of the McDonald’s All-American game (that featured Barrett and Zion) and is a pure athlete. The Celtics will have a little work to do with him, but he should find his footing under coach Brad Stevens’ offensive structure.
15. Detroit Pistons
SG Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Virginia Tech, 6-5, 205
16. Orlando Magic
G/F Kevin Porter Jr., USC, 6-5, 220
17. Brooklyn Nets
F Sekou Doumbouya, Limoges France, 6-9, 230
18. Indiana Pacers
G/F Keldon Johnson, Kentucky, 6-6, 215
19. San Antonio Spurs
PF Brandon Clarke, Gonzaga, 6-8, 215
20. Boston Celtics
PG Carsen Edwards, Purdue, 6-0, 200
21. Oklahoma City Thunder
SF Cameron Johnson, North Carolina, 6-8, 210
22. Boston Celtics
G Ty Jerome, Virginia, 6-5, 200
23. Utah Jazz
G Tyler Herro, Kentucky, 6-5, 195
24. Philadelphia 76ers
G/F Matisse Thybulle, Washington, 6-6, 200
25. Portland Trail Blazers
G Talen Horton-Tucker, Iowa State, 6-4, 230
26. Cleveland Cavaliers
C Bruno Fernando, Maryland, 6-10, 240
27. Brooklyn Nets
G/F KZ Okpala, Stanford, 6-8, 195
28. Golden State Warriors
SG Luguentz Dort, Arizona State, 6-4, 215
29. San Antonio Spurs
PF Grant Williams, Tennessee, 6-7, 220
30. Milwaukee Bucks
PF/C Daniel Gafford, Arkansas, 6-10, 230
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