The 2019 NBA Draft was met with a lot of fanfare, as fans were wondering how the lottery would shake out after Zion Williamson went No. 1 to the New Orleans Pelicans. Ja Morant and R.J. Barrett went after him, and we saw a lot of potential franchise players look to be the start of rebuilds in their respective cities.
After two weeks of a crazy free agency period that saw the entire landscape of the NBA change, the summer league has concluded. Today we will go over the five biggest takeaways from the three summer leagues (Sacramento, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas).
R.J. Barrett’s stock is down
With the New York Knicks missing out on Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and every other big-name free agent available this offseason, fans were hoping for a bright future with Kevin Knox and R.J. Barrett.
However, Barrett struggled mightily during the summer league, especially his first two games. He didn’t look like a top-3 pick and rumors about a weird-looking jumpshot have fans worrying he could be the next Markelle Fultz.
We think Barrett can still have a productive rookie season, but doubt he will make the impact fans hoped.
Even without Zion, the Pelicans have an excellent young core
The Pelicans received a bounty of players and picks for Anthony Davis. During the summer league No. 17 pick, Nickeil Alexander-Walker looked like the top performer in the tournament. The no. 8 pick, Nigel Hayes displayed the athleticism to be a difference-maker on defense. They won’t see heavy minutes as rookies, but they should still be productive bench players.
Add in Williamson’s performance (10 points in nine minutes) and the Pelicans could have a roster ready to contend for the top spot in the West in 2021.
Tacko Fall making a roster?
Although he went undrafted, Tacko Fall was one of the most polarizing players heading into the draft. Standing at 7’6, his ability to alter shots at the rim is widely unprecedented in today’s game.
There were concerns about his strength and lack of effort rebounding the ball, but the Celtics used him in situations to showcase his strength’s such as inbound lob plays.
Boston signed him to an Exhibit 10 contract, which means he will head to training camp with the team. Could he end up with their G-League affiliate?
The summer league MVP could play a big role in Memphis
There were concerns about Brandon Clarke’s game heading into the draft, but it was still a surprise to see him fall to No. 21.
The Grizzlies quickly snatched him up and an offense featuring him, Ja Morant, and Jaren Jackson Jr. could be exciting to watch in the FedEx Forum. He may only play about 10-15 minutes a night, but we think Clarke can get close to double-digit points per game as a rookie.
Most of the top prospects didn’t play in the summer league
The most surprising takeaway from the 2019 NBA summer league is that many of the top draft picks didn’t participate. Besides Zion being pulled after a minor injury, Ja Morant and Darius Garland also missed the tournament due to injuries.
The No. 6 pick in the draft Jarrett Culver also didn’t suit up. In total only 19 of the 30 first-round picks played in the summer league.