Community Shootaround: Which Rookie Will Have The Best Career?

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.

Other top picks include Cavaliers guard Darius Garland, Hawks forward DeAndre Hunter, Timberwolves guard Jarrett Culver, and Wizards forward Rui Hachimura.

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.

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12 thoughts on “Community Shootaround: Which Rookie Will Have The Best Career?

  1. thebigg

    Has to still be Zion though it’s good to see some nice starts to the others careers.

  2. IslandFlava

    Clearly Zion will be the best, RJ, MPJ, Rui & Ja will be stars as well.

  3. arc89

    Zion needs to stay healthy to be the best. he is by far the most talented of all rookies. paschall will be a allstar in the future. plays defense and offense.

    • Gary

      Paschal will improve his NBA game the more he plays but I’m not thinking he’s an All-Star. He really has a low ceiling. Aside from Gaining experience in the NBA he’s really his best right now.

      Sure he’ll become a little better shooter and make better decisions, but he’s kind of peaked now as an athlete. He might get a little stronger but he ain’t getting quicker and he ain’t getting faster. He’ll be ineffective rotation player I hope but far from an All-Star.

      The All-Star team has what 5 or 7 frontcourt guys? In each conference? Paschal’s not making it at any time… ever.

      • I agree and disagree with your assume that and expectation on Paschal.

        I do not think he’ll be an all star and I also believe is ceiling is lower than others in his draft class.

        However Draymond was also a 2nd rounder with low expectations and questions on his height and athletic ability.

        If Paschal can become a good passer (point/pass forwards have been trending in the league) and become an effective zone defender, I think he can play at a high level.

        If he can score 18/10/5 and good defense. That’s pretty good. He already is a better overall scorer and shooter than Green. He’s stronger and more athletic then green. If he can work on dribbling, passing and footwork who knows what can happen to him with that Warriors coaching/player development staff.

        • The Draymond Green comparison is a common one. But very few are in Draymond League defensively. He doesn’t have that great an offensive game so all his value is team and one-on-one defense. He is exceptional in that regard.

          He’s learned to shoot the three tho still not that great and he has learned to run an offense from the top.

          Paschal on the other hand is a little better offensive player and shooter but not quite the defender. He may be of similar size, but that’s about it.

  4. Tazza

    Ja rookie of the year, Zion is the best player and will have the best career. Barrett will be an all star and have a good career also.

  5. x%sure

    Brandon Clarke MEM has great stats, PER21. He would have been my middle 1st pick if I was GMing. But the 2019 draft was loaded, always was. Since Nunn & Fall were undrafted, the whole draft was.

    Only Herro’s success sutprises me but he had a good Vegas. MIA does draft pretty well; and Riley can impress FAs… but he can make mistakes on veterans.

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