Zion Williamson long has been projected to go first overall in the 2019 NBA Draft, and the New Orleans Pelicans now have the opportunity to select the Duke product by virtue of winning the lottery Tuesday night.
The Pelicans had just a 6 percent chance of winning the lottery, yet the pingpong balls bounced their way, much to the disappointment of the other teams hoping to secure the No. 1 pick.
The Memphis Grizzlies, New York Knicks, Los Angeles Lakers and Cleveland Cavaliers wound up with picks No. 1 through No. 5, respectively, after a wild lottery. The conversation now shifts to figuring out how each team will approach the draft and what figures to be an eventful NBA offseason.
ESPN’s Jonathan Givony released an updated mock draft Monday, before the lottery. He released another edition Tuesday, immediately after the lottery, featuring a few changes.
The Boston Celtics hold picks No. 14 (from the Sacramento Kings), No. 20 (from the Los Angeles Clippers) and No. 22 (their own) after the lottery, as the top eight-protected Grizzlies first-rounder they owned the rights to didn’t convey due to Memphis jumping up to No. 2 overall. The Celtics now will receive the Grizzlies’ first-rounder in 2020 (if it falls outside the top six) or in 2021 (at which point it’s unprotected).
Givony expected the Celtics to own picks No. 14, 20 and 22 when releasing his pre-lottery mock draft Monday, but one of his projections for Boston since has changed. He now has a new face landing with the C’ at No. 14 overall.
Here’s who Givony has the Celtics picking this year, along with an overview for each player:
— No. 14 (via Kings): Kevin Porter Jr., G, USC
Porter will start getting looks as high as the middle of the lottery, but he has some questions to answer during the pre-draft process about his approach to the game.
At this stage of the draft, the rewards likely outweigh the risks, as Porter can become another creator on the perimeter who can shoulder some scoring load. Porter has the size and versatility to slot into a variety of lineup configurations.
Kyrie Irving’s July free agency and the Anthony Davis trade talks will play a role in what the Celtics do with their picks. But a player like Porter could provide some insurance in the backcourt in case Boston loses Irving and restricted free agent Terry Rozier.
— No. 20: (via Clippers): Nickeil Alexander-Walker, G, Virginia Tech
The Celtics are loaded at the guard spots, but with both Kyrie Irving and Terry Rozier entering free agency, finding a strong backup in the draft would be wise.
Alexander-Walker is coming off an outstanding sophomore season, making significant strides on both ends of the floor. He has the perimeter shooting ability, length, feel and versatility Boston typically covets.
— No. 22: Keldon Johnson, F, Kentucky
Danny Ainge has long valued toughness, versatility and 3-point shooting — all strengths for Johnson.
Although his struggles creating offense off the dribble caused his stock to fall somewhat, Johnson won’t need to be much of a ball handler on a team with this much star power.
One could argue the Celtics emerged from the lottery as losers despite the Grizzlies pick moving to next year, because the Knicks and Lakers — two potential competitors in the Anthony Davis sweepstakes — landed pick Nos. 3 and 4, respectively. There’s also a chance the Pelicans will convince Davis to stay in New Orleans long-term rather than trade him after landing the No. 1 pick.
But it’ll be an interesting offseason in Boston regardless of what happens. And the most important domino to fall, of course, will be Kyrie Irving’s free agency decision.
Thumbnail photo via Paul Rutherford/USA TODAY Sports Images