If the Memphis Grizzlies pass on Ja Morant at No. 2, how does it potentially impact the New York Knicks at third overall in the 2019 NBA Draft?
Zion Williamson to the New Orleans Pelicans, Ja Morant to the Memphis Grizzlies and RJ Barrett to the New York Knicks once seemed like the all-but-guaranteed “locks” to land first, second and third in the 2019 NBA Draft, respectively. While long before the picks actually become players, it seemed logical, with these prospects as the perceived top three of this class.
However, the Grizzlies were never a sure thing for Morant, per Marc Berman of the New York Post. The Murray State prospect undergoing a minor knee surgery only clouded this potential link-up in the draft, as well.
That opens the door for the Knicks to take Morant, but after the worked out or met with other likely top-10 picks, it is no guarantee which direction they trend in.
What if Memphis actually passes on Morant, though, and stays at No. 2 overall? Where does that leave the Knicks in this team-specific mock draft?
1. Pelicans select Zion Williamson
This is hardly a surprise. Ever since Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry dropped an expletive when New Orleans won the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 NBA draft, the eventual result was inevitable.
The Pelicans once had the chance to acquire the No. 1 pick in a potential Anthony Davis deal. The New York Knicks were in the driver’s seat to attain this spot in the lottery and send it away for one of the NBA’s best big men. Instead, executive David Griffin will have Williamson and the chance to acquire another top-five pick in a trade with New York or the Los Angeles Lakers.
Aside from that, Williamson will either become the next face of the franchise or work with Davis for 2019-20. Pairing those two makes New Orleans basketball more interesting than ever, even after a playoff series win in 2018. If not, there is a player to build around for the next decade.
2. Grizzlies select RJ Barrett
RJ Barrett reportedly declined a pre-draft workout with the Memphis Grizzlies in hopes of landing with the Knicks or the Los Angeles Lakers. While the aftermath may cause issues, the Grizzlies can still risk it by taking one of this class’s best scorers.
For an organization long set on “Grit-n-Grind,” that era may have ended with Marc Gasol‘s departure. A new coaching staff will take over and potentially implement his own system, too, furthering steering from that mentality.
Selecting a player like Barrett immediately makes Memphis a more intriguing offensive team. He becomes a top-three scoring option with Mike Conley and Jaren Jackson Jr., forming an intriguing core that, while needing several years to develop, has a mix of veterans.