There’s no debate anymore as to who will go number one overall in the 2019 draft: Duke forward Zion Williamson is sure to receive the honor no matter what franchise is blessed with the pick.
However, the second draft slot is where things get interesting, and is a pick that the Hawks have a real chance of acquiring at the draft lottery in May. In most NBA circles, the consensus number two overall player seems to be Murray State point guard Ja Morant, who’s freakish athleticism and innate playmaking have garnered comparisons to NBA stars like Russell Westbrook and John Wall.
However, Atlanta already has their point guard of the future in rookie Trae Young, who has been lighting up the league since the calendar turned to 2019. It doesn’t make sense to undergo a second straight year of deliberate tanking just to end up with another player of the same position.
At 6’3″, Morant does have good size for a point guard, but that’s still hardly an appropriate frame for a shooting guard in today’s NBA. While a combination of Morant and Young would be fascinating to watch on offense, it would also form easily the worst defensive backcourt in the NBA, expanding the defensive nightmare that has been this season.
Of course, Morant going number two overall is not set in stone. Other prospects like R.J. Barrett and Jarrett Culver have also been projected as high as that spot in some mock drafts, and are players the Hawks would certainly consider with a pick that high, as the wing is the one area where Atlanta doesn’t already have a true franchise building block.
However, in all likelihood, if Atlanta does end up with the number two pick, they would look to trade it to a team like Chicago or Phoenix, who are both in desperate need of a franchise point guard and would surely part with additional assets if it meant they could acquire Morant. If Atlanta moved down to the three-to-five slot, they would still be able to select a standout wing like Barrett, Culver, or Cam Reddish, while also acquiring future picks or young players from their trade partner.
We are all praying to the lottery gods that on May 14, the ping pong balls grant Atlanta the chance to acquire Zion. However, we must be prepared for the likelihood that this scenario won’t occur, and if Atlanta instead ends up at number two, they’ll have a lot to think about before draft night in June.
Jackson Stone – @tdjs_network