26. Cavaliers: Dylan Winder
Small Forward, Belmont
A career 41 percent shooter from 3-point range, Winder came from a small school and doesn’t do much other than shoot, but with the N.B.A.’s emphasis on shooting now, his value skyrocketed. A serious area for concern, though, is how much he seemed to fade against stiff competition.
How he fits: Cleveland already added Darius Garland to Collin Sexton, so their playmaking was all set. Cedi Osman is strong in the middle and thus gives them a knockdown shooter. Or at least they hope it does. If he can’t handle better college teams, he may struggle against N.B.A. teams.
25. Trail Blazers: Nassir Little
Small Forward, North Carolina
The Tar Heels’ system may have been perfect for Coby White, but it seemed to occasionally hold Little back. A top recruit out of Orlando Christian Prep, he measures 6 feet 6 inches and 224 pounds, with long arms that give him a 7-foot-1 wingspan. He’s strong and agile, and appears to have decent mechanics as a shooter, but somehow it never seemed to come together in his time at North Carolina. It didn’t help that he only played 18.2 minutes a game.
Somehow Little’s draft stock survived an underwhelming freshman season. The tools seem to be there for him to develop into a useful player, but the team that drafts him will need to work on his shooting, his ball handling, his court vision and will want to clean up some of his mistakes on the defensive end as well.
How he fits: This is terrific value for the Trail Blazers. Little has been the top player available for quite a while, and as a wing he should be able to get playing time almost immediately. He needs a ton of work, but drafting this late Portland got a player who at least has the potential for stardom — a huge win.
24. 76ers: Ty Jerome
Shooting Guard, Virginia
He will get knocked for a lack of athleticism, and those complaints aren’t without merit, but thus far he has found a path to success everywhere he’s gone. At Virginia, that success came in the form of being an effective pickpocket on defense and a knockdown shooter on offense. That he also excels as a passer in the pick-and-roll should serve him quite well at the next level if he can make his game fast enough to compete with players who will have innumerable physical advantages over him.
How he fits: Another pick that moved around, with Philadelphia trading it to Boston who is trading it to Phoenix, but Jerome will end up on a Suns team that is filling out its starting lineup in a seemingly productive way. Jerome will probably struggle a bit athletically but he has Cam Johnson to help out in that regard, and with so many other options around, Jerome could end up wide open a lot more often than he would on other teams.
23. Jazz: Darius Bazley
Small Forward, New Balance (shoe company)
As has been well chronicled, Bazley chose a highly-compensated internship with New Balance rather than a college career. It may have caused some fretting in previous years, but after Mitchell Robinson pulled off a prep-to-pro adjustment (with a gap year spent working out) with ease, there’s some solid precedent for Bazley to point toward. It’s unclear what his duties at New Balance were, but they appear to have resulted in Bazley’s body filling out quite a bit.
From what was seen of Bazley in high school and in predraft workouts, he’s got excellent size (6-foot-9 with a standing reach of 8-foot-11) and the type of athleticism that will let him guard an array of positions. The Knicks worked Robinson into live action slowly and Bazley would likely benefit from the same treatment.
How he fits: This pick has moved around a little, but Bazley is headed to the Oklahoma City Thunder where he can add some depth to a team with a ton of money committed to some veteran players who all have talent but have yet to make any noise in the playoffs since Kevin Durant left. He can ease his way in, with the Thunder having plenty of frontcourt players, and he could pay off handsomely if his ceiling is as high as it seems like it could be.
22. Celtics: Grant Williams
Power Forward, Tennessee
A good passer on offense and an even better defender at the college level, Williams stuck to his strengths and provided a lot of value. Whether he can keep that up in the pros, where he’ll often be at a physical disadvantage, is questionable. His shooting may not translate to the pro level, and even his defense may take a major step back until he adjusts his approach.
How he fits: Williams may have been a bit of a reach here, with several higher-rated players still on the board, including players who fill a similar need to Williams like Florida State’s Mfiondu Kabengele and Darius Bazley. Williams, though, is the best defender of the three, so perhaps the Celtics decided that should be their priority as they look to complement their stable of good wings.
21. Thunder: Brandon Clarke
Power Forward, Gonzaga
If the other team goes small, watch out. Clarke, whose size limits him to the 4 in some situations, is at his best when he can move over to being a small-ball 5. He’s shown an incredible ability to get to the basket, to finish through contact, and to switch gears and hit a floater if the timing of the play is off. His height (6-foot-8) and wingspan (6-foot-8.25) have him at a disadvantage against a lot of bigs, but he has a nose for offensive rebounds and blocks, both of which should help keep him on court.
Clarke rarely attempted any 3-pointers, going 6 of 24 on them in three years of college, and his development will be limited since he will turn 23 before the season starts. But a team looking for a player who can get to the hoop on offense and block some shots on defense will get a lot of bang for the buck.
Scott Cacciola: And one more — Oklahoma City is trading the No. 21 pick to Memphis for a second-rounder and the No. 23 pick, which the Grizzlies acquired from the Utah Jazz this week as a part of the Mike Conley trade. Got it? Good.
How he fits: Clarke will end up on the Grizzlies, joining a rebuilding team headlined by Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson. They have a long way to go to build a new winner in Memphis, but Clarke’s versatility should help plug some holes, and Morant’s passing should be a huge help with Clarke’s development on offense. Clarke joins his teammate, Rui Hachimura, as first-round selections, a distinction that more typically falls to schools like North Carolina and Duke.
20. Celtics: Matisse Thybulle
Small Forward, Washington
Were Thybulle’s defensive statistics a product of Washington’s scheme? That’s a huge question looming over his potential, as a glance at his stat sheet shows averages of 3.5 steals and 2.3 blocks a game as a perimeter defender. If he could come anywhere close to that at the pro level he could be a major asset to any team. The problem is, he shot well from distance in his first three years of college but dropped to 30.5 percent as a senior. As he showed no real ability at getting to the rim, and he’s not a top-notch passer or ball-handler, his value will most likely come entirely on defense.
Scott Cacciola: We have another trade, per ESPN. Boston is using its pick at No. 20 to select Matisse Thybulle, a defense-minded wing from Washington, but will send his rights to Philadelphia for the Nos. 24 and 33 picks. Back to your regularly scheduled programming.
How he fits: The Sixers will get a player who could be the highest-impact defender in this draft if the numbers he put up last season are a true indication of his ability. Philadelphia mostly needed depth to complement their strong core and Thybulle’s upside could help ease the sting of losing either Jimmy Butler or Tobias Harris in free agency.
19. Spurs: Luka Samanic
Power Forward, Croatia (international)
There’s a lot to like in a player who is built like a center and moves gracefully and swiftly on both ends of the court. Samanic isn’t a perfect shooter or a perfect defender, but he does enough of both to warrant playing time, and if he continues to develop he could overcome many of the flaws he has now, most of which can be attributed to his being just 19. His father, Marko, was a longtime professional player in Europe.
How he fits: The Spurs’ reputation for international scouting is so strong that simply by selecting Samanic they will have increased the average view of the young forward. He’s in a perfect place to develop his game with the right veteran players and the right coaching staff to get him where he needs to be.
18. Pacers: Goga Bitadze
Center, Georgia (international)
A 7-footer who is listed at 250 pounds, Bitadze has the look of the big-bodied centers of yesteryear. That being said, his excellent footwork, skill as a shooter, above-average agility, nose for shot-blocking and excellent timing have him more in the mold of a poor man’s Arvydas Sabonis than a more lumbering center like Luc Longley.
The most obvious area for improvement would be passing, where he has yet to show much instinct. But he could also stand to be a more aggressive shooter. His percentages show he has the ability, but he takes far fewer long shots than players who can’t match his skill.
How he fits: Bitadze goes to Indiana where he will play with Arvydas Sabonis’s son, Domantas. The Pacers seemingly needed more help at point guard and small forward, but they must have thought Bitadze has a ceiling they couldn’t pass up. Playing with Myles Turner and Sabonis should help.
17. Nets: Nickeil Alexander-Walker
Shooting Guard, Virginia Tech
A high school teammate of his cousin, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Alexander-Walker is the type of player whose contributions do not always show up on the stat sheet. At 6-foot-6 and athletically built, he’s shown he can defend guards and small forwards, and while he’s not a worldbeater on offense, he’s a good enough catch-and-shoot player from distance that he can contribute. He struggles to create his own shot, and isn’t creative getting to the rim, leaving his ability to score with any regularity in doubt.
How he fits: The Pelicans rebuild continues, with this pick they will get because of an earlier trade with Atlanta. They get yet another player known for his defense, as David Griffin appears to be building a team that is highly athletic and focused on that end of the floor. Alexander-Walker may not be able to score as much as you want to see from his position, but a defense consisting of Jrue Holiday, Lonzo Ball, Alexander-Walker, Zion Williamson and Jaxson Hayes is terrifying.
16. Magic: Chuma Okeke
Power Forward, Auburn
Okeke is a top-notch defender who likely would have been a top-10 pick if he did not tear his anterior cruciate ligament in this year’s N.C.A.A. tournament. The rehabilitation of his injury could take nearly all of next season, but provided he makes a full recovery he is a 6-foot-8 forward capable of playing either forward position defensively. He could develop as an offensive player as well, considering he shot 38.9 percent from 3-point range in college.
How he fits: The Magic may lose Nikola Vucevic, thus starting the Mo Bamba era in earnest, but with Aaron Gordon at power forward they can let Okeke get his health right and come back in 2020-21 as a player worthy of a lottery selection.
15. Pistons: Sekou Doumbouya
Power Forward, France (international)
Still just 18 years old, Doumbouya, who was born in Guinea before moving to France, can play either forward position and has the length and comfort shooting from distance that could lead to him being a terrific 3-and-D player at some point. He runs well, and at 6-foot-9 with an 8-foot-11 standing reach he is easily big enough to log minutes at center in the modern game. He can likely step in as a good defender, but his offense is further behind.
In his time with Limoges CSP, he sometimes showed a lack of focus, both in overall effort and in his approach to shooting, which limited his production. He would best be described as a project with a lot of potential, but his floor appears to be lower than some of the players being drafted right around him.
How he fits: The Pistons already have two big men in Andre Drummond and Blake Griffin, but Griffin is handling the ball so much that Doumbouya can slot into the power forward role while learning from bigs who know their way around the league. It seems like an ideal spot for a guy who still needs a lot of work.
14. Celtics: Romeo Langford
Small Forward, Indiana
At 6 feet 6 inches tall, with long arms and a fairly strong build, he certainly seems like a prototypical N.B.A. wing, but a lack of outside shooting ability and poor defensive fundamentals make him a work in progress. What he can do right now is create scoring opportunities for himself and his teammates through a creative array of moves to the basket, difficult midrange jumpers and a good vision for his teammates on any given play. He can be a useful player fairly quickly, but to be a great one would require ironing out quite a few wrinkles and keeping him healthy.
How he fits: The Celtics look likely to lose both Al Horford and Kyrie Irving. They still have plenty of talented young players like Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and the emerging Robert Williams. And if Gordon Hayward can get back to himself, Langford becomes a luxury.
13. Heat: Tyler Herro
Shooting Guard, Kentucky
A pure shooter. Herro shot 46.2 percent from the field, 35.5 percent from 3-point range and 93.5 percent from the free-throw line as a freshman. To watch him is to believe those numbers should only improve (maybe not the free throws). Despite not being particularly tall he can create shots for himself with a rapid stepback and his shooting form is as textbook as they come. You may need to hide him on defense, and he may never develop into much more than a gunner, but considering the shooting needs of so many teams, there are worse ways a player can be one-dimensional.
How he fits: The Heat have a few good young pieces in Josh Richardson, Justise Winslow and Bam Adebayo, but they also owe a lot of money to older players of little value. Herro brings a ton of confidence and a shooting stroke that should come along nicely if they use him right.
12. Hornets: P.J. Washington
Power Forward, Kentucky
A 6-foot-8 forward who can play as if he’s much larger, Washington brings versatility as someone who proved to be comfortable playing with his back to the basket or facing it. If his shooting improvement last year was more than a mirage, he could help a team at either forward position, or even small-ball center, and his strength could make him a terrific rebounder and defender.
The biggest concern is likely his inability or unwillingness to pass. He averaged just 1.8 assists a game as a sophomore but turned the ball over 2.0 times a game. He’ll need to learn to share the ball more if he wants to stay on the court.
How he fits: The Hornets have a lot of money committed to a mediocre core, and they have no idea if Kemba Walker will come back on a supermax contract. Washington doesn’t seem like a sure thing, and was a bit of a stretch this high, but if his improvement last year was real he is in a spot where he should have some time to develop. The Hornets were reported to have been looking to trade the pick, so he could be on the move.
11. Suns: Cameron Johnson
Power Forward, North Carolina
Johnson, 23, is the player Tyler Herro thinks he is: a pure knockdown shooter who could step onto an N.B.A. court and immediately start cranking out 3-pointers. He’s a 6-foot-9 inch bucket. In five years of college split between Pittsburgh and North Carolina he had a career mark of 40.5 percent from 3-point range, with that number jumping to 45.7 percent on 5.8 attempts a game last season. His biggest red flag is a few serious injuries he had to work his way back from in college. He can catch and shoot well, has a quick release and his mechanics are already pro-ready. Can he do anything else? Does that matter?
How he fits: The Suns moved down in the draft, acquiring this pick from Minnesota, but scored their best shooter in Johnson. He’ll get plenty of open looks because of Deandre Ayton’s presence inside and the constant threat of Devin Booker all over the court. That could lead to some outrageous shooting statistics. Phoenix consistently adds talent but has yet to come up with the right combination. Johnson seems like a very logical choice.
10. Hawks: Cam Reddish
Small Forward, Duke
Reddish, a high school teammate of Orlando’s Mo Bamba, looks like he should be a star. Standing 6 feet 8 inches, he has a wide build that could fill out considerably as he ages, making him the ideal size for a modern power forward. Instead he’s focused almost exclusively on playing along the perimeter, cranking out 3-pointers and showing flashes of pro-level defense. On a highlight reel he could easily come off as one of the top two or three players in this draft, and that’s what his drafting team is hoping he will become.
There is cause for concern because of his inconsistency. His ability to hit difficult 3-pointers was undercut by his mediocre overall numbers from long range (33.3 percent on 267 attempts) and his awful 39.4 percent shooting from inside the arc (65 for 165).
And then there’s the matter of Duke’s round of 16 game against Virginia Tech in which Reddish was a last-minute scratch because of a knee injury that Coach Mike Krzyzewski seemed to have no idea existed until right before the game started.
Drafting Reddish is a bet on his potential and a signal that the team drafting him believes it has coaches who can coax the best out of him.
How he fits: The Hawks had the luxury of taking a chance, with multiple picks tonight. They took a big one in Reddish, one of the highest risk/highest reward players in this draft. If he can be properly motivated and work out the rougher edges of his game he could be a perfect wing to go with Atlanta’s terrific back court. And with De’Andre Hunter locking down the defense, someone as athletic as Reddish could be a huge asset.
9. Wizards: Rui Hachimura
Power Forward, Gonzaga
Hachimura is big and strong, at 6 feet 9 inches and 234 pounds. He uses that size and strength to generate contact, and thanks to his long arms and enormous hands he is able to consistently finish while drawing fouls. He has shown shooting ability at each level, and teams will have to pick their poison: defend him with a smaller player who can keep up outside (while being bullied if he goes to the basket), or use a larger player who can push him back but can’t keep up with him.
There are some flaws, of course. He wasn’t a great ballhandler or passer at Gonzaga and his shooting, while a plus, is more of a midrange game than anything teams will have to worry about from N.B.A. distance. His physical skills would lead you to believe he’d be a plus on defense, but that aspect of his game has been disappointing thus far.
Born in Japan to Japanese and Beninese parents, he will be just the third player born in Japan to play in the N.B.A. and he is the first of the three to have been drafted in the first round.
How he fits: This was earlier than many expected for Hachimura, but the fact that he did not do any workouts started a lot of speculation that he had a promise from a team. Washington is mostly a clean slate. John Wall’s return is a question mark, Bradley Beal could be traded and no one else is what you’d call a foundational piece. Hachimura could be one of the top-scoring rookies on a team that won’t have a lot of other offensive options. This is a huge moment for Japanese basketball.
Hachimura was joyous on stage, seemingly unsurprised by his early selection. Asked what the pick meant, he said: “It’s unreal. It means a lot for me, my family, and all my country.”
A 7-footer who flies down the court, Hayes gets noticed for his highlight reel dunks, but he was a terrific shot-blocker at Texas as well. His ability to get into position on either end of the court, and to leverage his size for big plays makes him a fairly safe pick, almost in the mold of Brooklyn’s Jarrett Allen, who also happened to be a Longhorn.
Hayes’s rebounding could be better, his passing needs a lot of work, and he was in foul trouble too often, but he knows his role and is potentially the best center in this draft.
His father, Jonathan, played 12 years in the N.F.L.
How he fits: The Pelicans have a center to go with the impressive assets they added to go with Jrue Holiday. Or at least they do for now, as they were reportedly trying to trade the pick. Hayes’s shot-blocking and dunking could complement Williamson and make the team even more athletic.
7. Bulls: Coby White
Shooting Guard, North Carolina
Everything moves fast with White. He excels in transition, has a quick release on catch-and-shoot opportunities, and has a flair for creativity in difficult situations. He also turns the ball over way too much, does not have much natural ability as a defender and, at 6 feet 5 inches tall, may not be big enough to create his own shots without rapidly expanding his tool kit.
He’s confident, and the Tar Heels’ system allowed him to thrive in space. He averaged 16.1 points a game as a freshman and shot a decent 35.3 percent from 3-point range. If a team lets him run, he definitely adds value. A change to a more halting style could leave him overmatched.
How he fits: The Bulls are still adding young talent and trying to figure out how best to build around Lauri Markkanen and Otto Porter. White, who seems like he could speed up Chicago, adds excitement to a team that was relying on Zach LaVine for that. Whether White can be a point guard rather than a shooting guard is an open question that the Bulls will need to answer quickly.
6. Suns: Jarrett Culver
Shooting Guard, Texas Tech
A run to the N.C.A.A. tournament final helped put Culver in the top-tier of draft prospects, as did his 6-foot-6 frame, his willingness to absorb contact at the rim and his upside as a terrific defender.
He averaged 18.5 points and 6.4 rebounds a game as a sophomore, which was a huge improvement from his freshman season, and that speaks to a work ethic that has drawn a great deal of praise. That being said, he has an ugly shooting motion when he’s along the perimeter and may not be an effective weapon from distance at the pro level because of it.
For his best chance at success, Culver would want to end up in a spot where he can contribute on defense while not being asked to shoulder much of an offensive load.
How he fits: The Timberwolves acquired this pick in a trade with Phoenix but were reported to be trying to move it before running out of time. Should they hold onto Culver, he would join a core of Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins, Jeff Teague and Robert Covington on a team that was in the playoffs two years ago but is still trying to figure things out. Culver could become the type of player Minnesota was hoping Wiggins would be.
5. Cavaliers: Darius Garland
Point Guard, Vanderbilt
A 6-foot-3 guard who has a tremendous handle, solid footwork and the ability to create his own shot anywhere on the court, even from the irresponsible reaches of 3-point range … sound familiar? Garland may not be ready for full-throated comparisons to Damian Lillard or Stephen Curry, but there are some surface-level similarities that make him intriguing, especially after the success Trae Young had following a fairly quick adjustment to the N.B.A.
Garland’s lack of physical strength shows up on the defensive end, and limits his ability to finish at the rim, but in moderate action last season he shot 11 of 23 from 3-point range and showed that he can move effectively without the ball while also finding teammates if a shot doesn’t open up for him. There are 29 or 30 teams looking for a player with that skill set. The biggest question with Garland is how explosive he will be after missing all but five games last year with a knee injury.
His father, Winston, played seven seasons in the N.B.A.
How he fits: Can Garland play next to Collin Sexton? That seems questionable, but Cleveland is at such a talent deficit that taking the best player available was the right option. Garland, provided his knee is sound, is the best player available — though it’s possible the team will trade him later, as it was reported that the Cavs were engaged in talks with several teams about the pick before they ran out of time. It’s possible that they hang on to Garland and slot him in with Sexton, not unlike the way Golden State paired Stephen Curry with Monta Ellis early in Curry’s career. How the team handles its redundant but talented back court is secondary to what happens with Kevin Love’s enormous contract.
4. Hawks: De’Andre Hunter
Positively ancient at 21, Hunter is the type of player who is often labeled simply as a winner. He’s not particularly fast or explosive, he isn’t a natural scorer and he has not developed much as a passer as of yet. Despite all that, his teams always seem to benefit tremendously from having him on the court — like in the finals of this year’s N.C.A.A. tournament when he scored 27 points in Virginia’s win over Texas Tech. It was likely no coincidence that the Cavaliers’ shocking loss in the previous year’s tournament came with Hunter sidelined because of a wrist injury.
The biggest reason for his “winning” ability is his N.B.A.-ready size (6-foot-7, 225 pounds with a 7-foot-2 wingspan) and his remarkable versatility on defense, where he can reasonably be asked to guard any position from point guard to power forward.
His scoring improved in his sophomore season, jumping from 9.2 points a game to 15.2, and his shooting, while not a particular strength, was fairly efficient, as he shot 55 percent on 2-pointers and 43.8 percent on 3-pointers. Those numbers will fall against tighter defenses, but they indicate that he’s not an offensive liability, even if it’s his defense that keeps him on the court.
How he fits: The Hawks gave up two first-rounders and swapped second-rounders to move up so they could snag Hunter, who they view as a difference-maker in the frontcourt to complement their young core of Trae Young, Kevin Huerter and John Collins. The team still has some serious depth issues going into next season, but the No. 10 pick can help with that and snagging Hunter will be the defensive answer they need on a team that was already solid on offense.
3. Knicks: R.J. Barrett
Shooting Guard, Duke
Barrett came into the season with co-billing as the player to watch alongside Zion Williamson. He then matched his teammate in scoring (22.6 points a game), nearly matched him in rebounding (7.6 a game to Williamson’s 8.9) and topped him in assists. Yet Barrett dropped to a distant third in draft prospect rankings after Williamson and Morant far exceeded expectations.
Barrett, however, should not be discounted for “just” delivering on his outstanding promise. A 6-foot-7 guard who can play bigger than that thanks to his long arms, he’s solidly built at 208 pounds at only 19 years old. He is an above-average scorer and creator, and is known for his intense play.
His shooting off the dribble has been decent but he shot just 31 percent from 3-point range and 67 percent from the free-throw line, both of which are red flags. He’ll need work there, and maturity on defense, but he has all the tools he would need to succeed if he’s willing to put in the work.
How he fits: The Knicks’ plan to tank for Zion Williamson resulted in them having the worst record in the N.B.A., but just the third pick in this draft. Considering the drop-off in expectations from picks 1 to 3, that letdown at the draft lottery could continue to sting for years. That being said, Barrett is a gifted young player who seems to fit well with a young core of Dennis Smith Jr., Kevin Knox and Mitchell Robinson. The team has the cap space to sign major free agents, leaving next year’s roster up in the air, but getting another player with length and athleticism, and one that has shown a real knack for scoring, is a decent enough consolation prize for a team that once dreamed of adding Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and Williamson all in one off-season.
2. Grizzlies: Ja Morant
Point Guard, Murray State
That it took a while for people to notice Morant should not take away from how special he could be as a playmaking point guard. He finished his sophomore year with 331 assists — the sixth-best season in N.C.A.A. history — despite averaging a team-leading 24.5 points a game. He recorded three triple-doubles, including the ninth one in N.C.A.A. tournament history, and he did it all with flair, routinely getting to the rim for dunks.
There are some reasons to at least raise an eyebrow at his potential. He has good height at 6 feet 3 inches, but he’s a slight 175 pounds. Considering how often he goes to the rim, that could be a combination that results in some durability issues. A lack of physical endurance may have led to his occasional lapses on defense, where he seemed to be conserving energy.
He needs to clean up some of his flashier passes — which have a bad habit of turning into turnovers — and he could use work on his shooting, but those are fixable problems for a player who brings so much else to the table.
How he fits: Memphis appears to have a deal with the Jazz sending Mike Conley to Utah, leaving Morant enormous shoes to fill as starting point guard and leader. The team is rebuilding in a much different mold than its grit ’n grind era, which could create an adjustment period for Grizzlies fans. But Morant and Jaren Jackson will have the keys to the franchise, and both have enough potential that Memphis could find itself winning again sometime soon.
1. New Orleans Pelicans: Zion Williamson
Power forward, Duke
There hasn’t been a draft prospect hyped like Williamson since LeBron James in 2003. Considering the 24-hour news cycle, and the rise of social media, Williamson may actually have been talked about more.
The enthusiasm is easy to understand. Williamson stands 6 feet 7 inches tall and weighs 285 pounds. Even with that massive frame, he can fly up and down the court with ease. Imagine a younger (albeit smaller) Shaquille O’Neal, with less rim protection and rebounding but better ball handling and considerably more shooting range.
Williamson leaps past defenders for dunks, has a knack for finding the ball on defense and has the engaging personality that could make him a household name for years to come.
In the past his height may have led some to label Williamson a ’tweener, but with the N.B.A. embracing smaller lineups, and Williamson coming off a freshman year in which he averaged 22.6 points and 8.9 rebounds a game while shooting 68 percent from the field, the expectation is that he can be ready to contribute immediately.
How he fits: David Griffin and the Pelicans appear to be building something special. Williamson, who wore an all-white suit in homage to LeBron James’s draft day outfit in 2003, will join a team that already had Jrue Holiday, a terrific two-way point guard, and recently agreed to a trade with the Los Angeles Lakers for Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart. Included in that trade were the eventual rights to this year’s No. 4 pick (and the Lakers’ picks for years to come), but the Pelicans have reportedly traded that pick and No. 57 to Atlanta for picks 8, 17 and 35.
Griffin, who built a champion in Cleveland, is undoubtedly not done, but winning the right to select Williamson was the biggest early win he could have asked for. With Holiday and Ball throwing Williamson lobs, the league is about to find out very quickly what it feels like to be dunked on by a 285-pound teenager.