The long awaited NBA Draft lottery 2019 is upon us. Top picks like Ja Morant, Zion Williamson, R.J. Barrett and others await like the rest of us to see where they’ll play professionally to start their NBA careers.
Zion Williamson is about as unanimous a number one pick as they come, but there have been draft surprises before. Depending on how the lottery plays out, Williamson’s start to the league could either be legendary or come with severe growing pains.
While at Duke, Williamson showed out and dominated almost every opponent. Even though he’s not enough to win games just by himself, he’s the type of player that can transform the right franchise overnight.
But not all of them.
With that in mind, here’s a look at the five best fits for Zion Williamson in the NBA.
5. Cleveland Cavaliers
A year without LeBron James? A taste of a fall from grace unlike any other? No longer the team to beat?
Cleveland has the second best odds behind the New York Knicks to land the number one pick in this summer’s draft. With that selection, Zion Williamson would be a tremendous young piece to pair with budding star Colin Sexton.
With the pick, it’s hard to say if it’d be enough for the Cavs to get back to the post-season. But this would be a decent place for Williamson to start off his career since it’s not somewhere that a slow start would reflect that badly on his overall game and what he brings to the table.
Cleveland provides a bit of a softer landing, if you will. Just in case this whole hype behind Williamson falls flat once he’s actually in the pros. This doesn’t mean that he won’t live up to the hype, but the Cavs have experienced the good and bad at the top of the draft board.
Anthony Bennett and LeBron James are the proof of that.
4. Dallas Mavericks
Based on what we’ve already seen from Luke Doncic in just his rookie season with Dallas, imagine a world where the international phenom paired up with Zion.
The Mavericks only have a six percent chance of landing the number one pick, but that doesn’t stop fans from wondering and media playing out the what-if scenario.
Not only would Dallas be one of the teams where Zion’s impact would be felt immediately, but it would also be telling of Luka’s ability to handle playing with a star of his caliber and hype.
Like Williamson, Doncic came into the NBA as a top prospect in his respective draft class. And surely enough, he’s played his part.
Zion going here would launch Dallas into the better eight of the Western Conference as a wild card type of team. But boy, would they be fun to watch.
The biggest problem with him going to Dallas is that the pick the Mavericks have could end up going to Atlanta.
3. Phoenix Suns
I’ll probably get some flack for this, but Phoenix deserves to be a top landing spot for Zion Williamson. It’s not to say that the Suns are going to ever improve their front office to something beneficial to the team or that their coaching staff is elite or efficient, but hey — it’s Zion.
Add him to Devin Booker and DeAndre Ayton as the centerpieces to build around and this team could turn around quickly.
There’s been constant instability and lack of winning in Phoenix over the last several seasons. Despite the lack of dubs, Devin Booker signed long-term and has been vocal about wanting to win big with the Suns organization.
Should Phoenix pull this off, they’ll be the team with the biggest jump in the standings as a result of drafting Zion Williamson.
2. New York Knicks
The New York Knicks have seen more dysfunction over the last decade than most NBA teams. After making some moves this season, New York remains a franchise without a spark.
Rumor has it that they could use their two max contract slots to book Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant — something that would have profound impacts on the rest of the league at large — in addition to landing Zion Williamson in the draft.
Timing is everything, though. If the Knicks can somehow manage the first overall pick in the draft, there’s no reason or logical conclusion where they don’t pick Zion. It’s a no-brainer for them and would absolutely help finalize any pending or unsure interest from free agents.
1. Los Angeles Lakers
This would provide Zion Williamson with the most unique pairing possible. Entering the best basketball league on the planet and as a rookie you are playing alongside a committed, contracted, and rested LeBron James.
Frank Vogel as a head coach would be a big benefit to Zion as well. Vogel is known for winning games by playing good, bad, and ugly — and the Lakers have the talent to consistently win games all three of those ways. Playing wise, LeBron James and Zion Williamson could be the next dynamic 1-2 punch if the team doesn’t land a premier free agent this summer.
But if they do, even better.
Los Angeles is coming off a disappointing season where they missed the playoffs in LeBron’s first year with the franchise.
One thing to bring up, just to think outside of the box for a moment, is that drafting Zion also gives the Lakers a backup plan if things get worse regarding their relationship with LeBron and push comes to shove.
In the worst case scenario where they have to trade James, Williamson is still a LeBron-level star to build around for the next decade and beyond.