The Zion sweepstakes were held in pubs from Manhattan to Bourbon Street last night, with fans holding their collective breath in hopes of landing the Duke phenom. While many fans had their sights set exclusively on Zion Williamson, I felt as though both teams in the top 2 of the draft order should go home happy.
Ja Morant was made to play in the NBA. He has everything scouts and general managers could possibly want in a guard. He’s Russell Westbrook with a better jump shot and without the narcissistic character traits. Morant laid his body on the line every game for Murray State. That’s right, Murray State, because the dude has a chip on his shoulder the size of James Dolan’s ego. He’s leaving after his sophomore season because he actually used time on campus to dramatically improve his game–a foreign thought for today’s NBA prospects.
RJ Barrett did little to prove to me that he’s worthy of a top 2 (or even top 3) selection. He shot just better than 66% from the foul line and 30% from the NCAA three-point range. Sure, he put up his points, like the 26 he scored in Chapel Hill, which came on 27 shots. I don’t see Barrett being a complete bust, but I don’t certainly don’t see him being an all-star caliber player.
Compare that with Morant who seems to be the most obvious second pick in a generation. Morant could completely revitalize an entire organization that has seen limited success over the course of its existence. Jaren Jackson, Jr. appears to be one of the top players from last year’s draft, as Morant would seemingly fit perfectly with the 6’11” power forward. So, Memphis, the choice is yours. Draft Barrett and continue this cycle of drafting in the lottery. Or, draft Morant and positively change the fortunes of your franchise for the next decade.