Soon enough, we will know whether the Golden State Warriors or the Toronto Raptors will be crowned champions of NBA 2019.
And then attention will turn to the draft ahead of the new campaign. That will take place at the Barclays Center in New York on June 20, and already there are some intriguing narratives that give a clue as to who will go where.
At that point, preparations for the 2020 season will begin in earnest. Will the Golden State Warriors be looking for a sixth consecutive title? They will surely be the favorites in the sports betting, as they were at the start of the 2018/19 campaign, and it will take some effort in the draft for the rest of the NBA franchises to catch them up.
Here’s a look at some of the major talking points ahead of the NBA Draft 2019.
Morant Goes Under the Knife
One of the hottest properties heading into the draft is Ja Morant.
The former Murray State point guard is expected to be the number two pick when the auction opens, although there might be some concerns from the sides eyeing his signature about the minor surgery that the 19-year-old faces.
Morant is scheduled for knee surgery that will keep him out of action for a month or so, which at least won’t impact upon pre-season activities for whoever captures his signing.
CBS reports that the player’s agent, Jim Tanner, has already spoken to a number of teams ahead of the draft, assuring them about the short-term nature of his client’s lay-off.
It’s expected that the Memphis Grizzlies will take up Morant’s contract with their number two pick, and what a prospect they will be getting. The guard became the first player in NCAA history to average both 20 points and 10 assists per game in a single season, and when you add into the mix an average of 5.7 rebounds per game, you have a fantastic all-round talent.
The Grizzlies could be about to bag an absolute bargain.
Zion Set for the Big Easy?
After a paltry 2018/19 campaign, the New Orleans Pelicans could be in for a timely boost.
While Anthony Davis might be heading for the exit, number one draft pick Zion Williamson could be heading the other way to the Big Easy.
The 18-year-old brings with him a raft of accolades from his time with the Duke Blue Devils, including ACC and Rookie of the Year honors in the same campaign as a freshman.
The forward also became the first player in Duke’s history to record at least 25 points, four assists and ten rebounds in a single NCAA Tournament game and has joined a very prestigious group of Kevin Durant and Anthony Davis as the only freshmen to notch 500 points, 50 blocks and 50 steals in a campaign.
There were rumors that Williamson would return to Duke for a second season, but those appear to have been dispelled by the player’s stepfather, who said: “As far as returning to Duke, that’s not something we’ve even considered”.
Knicks Considering Their Options
In the normal run of things, the New York Knicks would have the third pick in the draft and would probably select R.J. Barrett, Williamson’s teammate at Duke.
The 18-year-old from Toronto has enjoyed just as many plaudits as the projected number one pick, and he would certainly add some youthful quality to a Knicks roster that was hopelessly out of its depth in 2018/19.
But now, it seems as if they might have other ideas.
They are considering swapping their number three pick for the Atlanta Hawks’ draft plays at eight and ten.
Such a trade back position would open up potential elsewhere in their roster, with the likes of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving – out-of-contract, of course – as possible signings on the radar.
Lakers Looking for Instant Improvement
A dreadful campaign in the Pacific Division has intensified the importance of the LA Lakers having a strong draft.
They’re in an enviable position as the number four pick holders. They may get a shot at Barrett just yet, depending on the Knicks’ movements, but if not, they have a trio of intriguing contenders to look at.
There’s Darius Garland, the McDonald’s All-American who is just coming back from a knee injury that wrecked his freshman year, and DeAndre Hunter, the Virginia Cavaliers forward who scored 27 points in the 2019 Championship game.
But it’s Jarrett Culver who might get the final nod. Despite struggling in the Final Four game for Texas Tech, the 20-year-old averaged 18.5 points per game last season alongside 6.4 rebounds per game. Perhaps he will offer the attacking impetus that the Lakers have been so badly missing.