This year’s Draft was very highly anticipated. With the biggest prospect in recent history, powerhouse college teams and lots of team movement, the Draft Class of 2019 are set to have a significant impact right from the get go. If it weren’t for 2 draftees, this would be a very difficult award to predict.
Legend: MPG = minutes per game, PPG = points per game, RPG = rebounds per game, APG = assists per game, SPG = steals per game, BPG = blocks per game, FG = field goal, 3P = three points, FT = free throws, PER = player efficiency rating, WS = win share
#5 – Coby White, Chicago Bulls
College: North Carolina (1 year) Draft Pick: 7
Awards History: All ACC 2nd Team (2019), McDonald’s All American (2018), North Carolina Mr Basketball (2018)
College Stats: 28.5 mpg, 16.1 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 4.1 apg, 1.1 spg, 0.3 bpg, 42.3% FG, 35.3% 3P, 80.0% FT, 19.2 PER, 4.1 WS
Coby White is quick, agile, and plays a very fast-paced offensive game both as a playmaker and a shooter off the catch and dribble. After Darius Garland got picked up by Cleveland, it was quite obvious that Chicago were going to pick White. With issues at the point, it is very likely that he will be Chicago’s starting Point Guard for the entire season, and should thrive around his other young gun teammates in LaVine, Porter Jr., Markkanen, and Carter Jr. White is better poised to win Rookie of the Year than Garland due to the greater opportunities he will receive in the Bulls rotation.
#4 – De’Andre Hunter, Atlanta Hawks
College: Virginia (2 years) Draft Pick: 4
Awards History: NCAA Champion (2019), All ACC 1st Team (2019), ACC Defensive Player of the Year (2019), ACC Sixth Man of the Year (2018)
College Stats: 32.5 mpg, 15.2 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 2.0 apg, 0.6 spg, 0.6 bpg, 52.0% FG, 43.8% 3P, 78.3% FT, 24.3 PER, 7.3 WS
Officially the best defender in college basketball, De’Andre Hunter has a hugely versatile two-way game, which brings along with it the maturity and championship pedigree to make an impact from debut. Whilst Hunter might not be able to show off his scoring talent in what is already quite an offensively talented Hawks unit, his defence is what the Hawks need. Since he is able to guard players from Point Guard through to Power Forward with his 6’8” height and 7’2” wingspan, the Hawks might end up relying on him quite a bit throughout the season.
#3 – R.J. Barrett, New York Knicks
College: Duke (1 year) Draft Pick: 3
Awards History: Consensus All American 1st Team (2019), Jerry West Award (2019), All ACC 1st Team (2019), McDonald’s All American (2018), Gatorade Player of the Year (2018), Mr Basketball USA (2018), Naismith Prep Player of the Year (2018), FIBA Under-19 World Cup MVP (2017)
College Stats: 35.3 mpg, 22.6 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 4.3 apg, 0.9 spg, 0.4 bpg, 45.4% FG, 30.8% 3P, 66.5% FT, 23.3 PER, 6.5 WS
For many years, R.J. Barrett was widely considered as the #1 Draft prospect. Then came along Zion who proceeded to not just leapfrog, but fly over R.J. to become one of the most clear-cut #1 picks in NBA history. There is no doubting that R.J.’s talent has been overshadowed, and that he was a consolation prize for the team that didn’t get Zion. But he is an impressive player and athlete. Having only recently turned 19, R.J. has an incredible build and plays with toughness and a laser focus. Barrett will no doubt play a pivotal role in coming off the bench for the Knicks, and his tenacity and versatility will only improve as each game goes by.
#2 – Zion Williamson, New Orleans Pelicans
College: Duke (1 year) Draft Pick: 1
Awards History: Consensus National College Player of the Year (2019), Consensus All American 1st Team (2019), Wayman Tisdale Award (2019), Karl Malone Award (2019), ACC Athlete of the Year (2019), ACC Player of the Year (2019), All ACC 1st Team (2019), ACC Rookie of the Year (2019), ACC Tournament MVP (2019), McDonald’s All American (2018)
College Stats: 30.0 mpg, 22.6 ppg, 8.9 rpg, 2.1 apg, 2.1 spg, 1.8 bpg, 68.0% FG, 33.8% 3P, 64.0% FT, 40.8 PER, 8.3 WS
There is no doubt having Zion at #2 is incredibly bold of me. He could well become one of the greatest players we’ve ever seen. He is a freak of nature, a basketball anomaly, and had a college PER of 40.8…truly unheard of. Looking at his rookie season however, there are doubts over his health and body holding up to the rigours of the NBA. The Pelicans are likely going to give him limited minutes and have him resting often so as to not push his body too hard too early in his career. Zion will also have to share minutes with players like Ingram, Favors, and even Miller, Hart, Moore and Okafor. When Zion is on the floor, all eyes will be on him, and he will play well. But it won’t be enough to secure him Rookie of the Year. Call him the Joel Embiid of his rookie class.
#1 – Ja Morant, Memphis Grizzlies
College: Murray State (2 years) Draft Pick: 2
Awards History: Consensus All American 1st Team (2019), NCAA Season Assists Leader (2019), Lute Olson Award (2019), Bob Cousy Award (2019), OVC Player of the Year (2019), 2 x All OVC 1st Team (2018-19), OVC Tournament MVP (2019)
College Stats: 36.6 mpg, 24.5 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 10.0 apg, 1.8 spg, 0.8 bpg, 49.9% FG, 36.3% 3P, 81.3% FT, 31.6 PER, 8.2 WS
Ja Morant is the most likely to win Rookie of the Year because he is already Memphis’ best player. At Point Guard, Ja Morant is going to have a very similar season to Trae Young’s rookie year. He is set to make an immediate impact and be the floor general. Morant is incredibly quick, a great shooter, and an even better passer and playmaker, set to get 30+ minutes a game and be orchestrating the Grizzlies’ offense. Even though Zion is the outright favourite to win Rookie of the Year, Morant will easily have at least 50% more playing time and opportunities.
The Next 5:
#6 Rui Hachimura, Washington Wizards
#7 Darius Garland, Cleveland Cavaliers
#8 Jarrett Culver, Minnesota Timberwolves
#9 Brandon Clarke, Memphis Grizzlies
#10 P.J. Washington, Charlotte Hornets
Nickeil Alexander-Walker, New Orleans Pelicans
As New Orleans’ 3rd rookie option, there is every reason to believe that N.A.W. could become one their most valuable options off the bench. Being honoured for his HUGE Summer League performances (averaging 24.3 points, 6 assists and 2.8 steals) in the Summer League First Team, N.A.W. has proven that he will be a solid contributor for the Pelicans, and given the right opportunities and form, these sorts of numbers could continue. His only issue will be sharing minutes with Holiday, Ball, Hart, Moore, Redick and Jackson.