By default, the 2019 NBA Draft Lottery is the most exciting rendition of the event the NBA has ever held.
Because of the drastic shift in odds to counter tanking, teams outside the top-three have a much, much better chance of reaching that position than years past.
For example, the Washington Wizards in the six hole have a 27.6% chance at a top-three selection. That’s only 12.5% worse odds than the New York Knicks, who had the worst record in the league and thus the best overall odds. The difference between those two positions in the past was nearly quadrupled at 42.8%. That type of gap isn’t even possible now because the Knicks’ odds, along with Cleveland’s and Phoenix’s, of staying in the top-three is only 40.1%.
So if you haven’t prepared yourself yet for things to get weird, get ready.
That’s the first dousing of spice into the lottery and the second is the stakes of placement being elevated compared to previous drafts.
Duke’s Zion Williamson is the third-best NBA prospect this decade and one of the top-10 of the past 25 years. The fact that this is occurring when there’s only an 8% difference in the odds to get Williamson from first to 9th is incredible.
On top of Williamson, many experts share a belief that Murray State point guard Ja Morant is the second-best prospect in the class by a considerable margin.
If the Suns are holding that same sentiment with a need at point guard, that makes a couple potential outcomes of landing spots interesting.
Our own John Gambadoro has said on Burns & Gambo he feels the Suns will undoubtedly take Morant No. 2 if they land there, and if not, would explore the possibility of trading up for Morant.
But what about other teams landing the second pick? Which ones would select Morant? Which ones would and move on from their current point guard? Which ones would pass on Morant for a prospect like Duke’s R.J. Barrett? The answers to those questions, along with the lottery bouncing a certain way, could have the Suns actually landing their point guard, whether or not that’s Morant.
Let’s make our best guesses at what each team that could land No. 2 overall would do.
Yeah, they’d take Morant: Chicago Bulls (12.2%), Minnesota Timberwolves (3.3%), Charlotte Hornets (1.1%), Miami Heat (1.1%)
There are four teams that have nothing real in the way at point guard, and if they have Morant as the second-best prospect, would take him.
Chicago has only Kris Dunn, Minnesota is ready to move on from Jeff Teague and ditto for Goran Dragic’s last year of his contract with the Heat.
You could argue the Hornets believe they can bring Kemba Walker back, but remember, the draft is before free agency.
Dragic, of course, would instantly become a name to watch on the trade market.
Point guard movement on either end?: New Orleans Pelicans (6.3%), Memphis Grizzlies (6.3%), Los Angeles Lakers (2.2%)
By far the three most interesting teams that could land No. 2.
All three could arguably draft Morant and move on from their current point guard. Those three current point guards are all ones that would surely interest the Suns on the trade market. Or, those three teams pass on Morant and stick with their point guard, meaning Morant could slip a spot or two.
David Griffin would be in a pickle with Jrue Holiday if Morant was available to pick. With the lack of pieces they have around Holiday, surely trading him for more young talent would be appealing and restarting with Morant as “the guy.” Would the Suns offering the Pelicans a chance at two top-three/four/five/six/seven picks in this draft tempt them to give up Holiday? Or would New Orleans stick Morant next to Holiday, allowing the latter to enjoy time off the ball like he did this past season with Elfrid Payton as the lead guard?
Mike Conley appears all but gone from Memphis, and getting a chance to select Morant would almost surely lock that in. Would James Jones be willing to back off what he’s said about players in their 30s to help the Suns win now?
And, yes, the Lakers of Los Angeles. Lonzo Ball or Morant? Hard to wrap your head around it as a possibility but Morant seems like the type of top-tier talent that would interest LeBron James.
Passing on Morant or trading down: Atlanta Hawks (10.5%)
With how much we discuss point guard depth across the NBA, the Hawks are the only team here situated with their short- and long-term answer at point guard looking clear.
Trae Young is a better version of Morant, and Atlanta would be thrilled to either take their favorite wing or move down.
Other baggage to sift through first: New York Knicks (13.4%), Cleveland Cavaliers (13.4%), Washington Wizards (9.2%), Dallas Mavericks (6.3%, Atlanta gets this if it lands outside the top-five), Boston Celtics (1.1%, Boston owns Sacramento’s pick top-one protected)
The Knicks just traded for Dennis Smith Jr. at the trade deadline, who is without a doubt a worse prospect than Morant at this stage. Hey, they also have Frank Ntilikina as well. Remember him? Those two are not reasons to pass on Morant, but rather, two guys they’d need to figure out what to do with in the event of taking Morant.
Ditto for Collin Sexton in Cleveland, who Gambadoro thinks the Cavaliers would try to move if they had a chance at picking Morant.
Would any of those three guards interest the Suns? I don’t think so.
Welp, the Wizards should take the best player available, but they are paying John Wall at least $40 million (!!!!!!!!!!!) for each of the next four seasons. He plays point guard. So does Morant. Yikes!
Would Dallas want a ball-dominant player like Morant paired with Luka Doncic? I wouldn’t, but then again, that’s quite a lot of skill and passing with a ball-handling duo.
Boston would have to figure out how Morant factors into a playoff team. Yeah, you’re right, Danny Ainge would trade it.