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SI Ranks The 2019 NBA Draft & Duke Dominates

Top four picks are from either end of 15-501

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2018 McDonald's All American Game - Jam Fest
ATLANTA, GA - MARCH 26: Zion Williamson of Spartanburg Day School attempts a dunk during the 2018 McDonald’s All American Game POWERADE Jam Fest at Forbes Arena on March 26, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia.
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Sports Illustrated has (surprise) worked out the 2019 draft, which is a pretty good trick since the 2018 draft hasn’t even happened yet.

So while it’s highly speculative, it is the off-season, nearly summer, so what else is there to do over there?

So SI sees the first four picks as being from the Triangle - Duke’s RJ Barrett, (#1), Cam Reddish (#2), UNC’s Nassir Little (#3) and Duke’s Zion Williamson (#4).

Virginia’s De’Andre Hunter is seen as the #10 pick.

Georgia Tech’s Josh Okogie, who is still in this year’s draft but who could still pull out, is pegged at #17.

Anything and everything could change between now and then but the most interesting wild card, this far out anyway, is Williamson.

As a lot of people have pointed out now, there’s not much of a precedent for a guy like him. He’s vaguely reminiscent of Charles Barkley but that’s about as close as you can get and it’s not really that close.

Martellus Bennett?


People forget that Bennett, a superb tight end in college and the NFL, was also a highly rated basketball player in high school (Coach K, among others, was very interested). Or maybe it’s Julius Peppers, who had a similar build.

We’re not sure if either of those guys were anywhere close to Williamson’s overall athleticism though.

He’s played at a relatively low level in high school too so he hasn’t really been pushed to develop his skills. That should come in time, but right now, it’s a weakness.

So where do you put him in the NBA? Where does he play? We don’t mean positions, strictly speaking, but where does he play on the court?

It’s going to be fascinating to see how fast he develops and what his reputation will be when he is ready to enter the NBA draft.

Our guess is that Duke will focus on two things with Williamson: first, basic skills. He can overwhelm a lot of people with his athleticism but as we showed previously, he has some weaknesses currently. He has trouble going to his off-hand and a relatively average athlete like RJ Barrett can give him fits. So he needs to refine some stuff.

And secondly, though he carries his weight very well, no basketball player needs to carry extra weight. They’ll push him to get his body fat as low as realistically possible and if gets down to, say, 250, he’s going to be an absolute monster, not least of all in the open court.

If he does what JJ Redick and Kyle Singler did, and whip himself into superb physical condition, he’s going to be an incredible presence for anyone.

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