Pelicans rookie and consensus 2019 No. 1 draft pick Zion Williamson is most likely out of commission through at least November as he recovers from his torn right meniscus. There has been bubbling chatter about whether or not the 6’6″, 285-pound Williamson’s fitness (or relative lack thereof) may be a longer-term problem for New Orleans.
Pelicans sources told The Athletic’s Shams Charania that the team was unconcerned about Williamson’s frame having an adverse impact on his health moving forward. SB Nation writer Ricky O’Donnell observed that Williamson has suffered knee injuries in high school, college, Summer League, and now the NBA proper.
Though it felt obvious in the moment that Williamson would have the best NBA career among this year’s impressive rookie class, these recurrent knee issues have given this writer pause in determining just which 2019 rookie will be the best pro. Yes, Williamson’s ceiling feels astronomical. But his floor is spooky.
Meanwhile, No.2 pick Ja Morant has been impressive for the Grizzlies, averaging 18.9 points, 5.5 assists, and 3.5 rebounds per game. The point guard’s shooting numbers have been stellar, too: 49.2% from the field, 46.2% from three-point range (albeit on a somewhat-low 1.6 attempts), and 75% from the charity stripe.
Warriors rookie power forward Eric Paschall, the 41st pick out of Villanova, has been posting excellent numbers himself. His 79 points scored across his first three games were the most clocked by an NBA player in his first three starts since Jeremy Lin logged 89 with the Knicks in 2012.
Heat guards Kendrick Nunn (who went undrafted in 2018 but made his NBA debut this season) and Tyler Herro (the 13th pick) have scored in bunches, propelling the Jimmy Butler-led squad near the top of the East.
Power forward P.J. Washington, picked 12th by the Hornets, has outperformed his draft standing thus far. He is shooting 45.2% from deep on 3.4 three-point attempts. Williamson’s former Duke running mate, Knicks rookie wing R.J. Barrett, has been scoring in bunches too.
Who among this starry 2019 rookie class do you think will have the best NBA career overall? Will it be someone beyond the players we’ve mentioned? A late-blooming second-round gem, perhaps (a la Nikola Jokic in 2014)?
Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.