NBA Draft 2019: Zion Williamson and 3 other instant-impact picks

By Thomas Lott 19 June 2019 730
NBA Draft 2019: Zion Williamson and 3 other instant-impact picks

Zion Williamson is getting most of the attention in the 2019 NBA Draft, but there are plenty of players who could make their marks early.

There are obvious ones like RJ Barrett, who finished 14th in the nation in points per game at 22.9 for Duke in 2018-19, and other guys like Coby White out of North Carolina, who has a lot of De'Aaron Fox to his game.

Those are the easy ones. We decided to look at the one at the top of the draft but then also a little further down the list to see who could play some good minutes and make more of an impact than maybe you would have thought.

Four instant-impact picks in the 2019 NBA Draft:

Zion Williamson

Did you think we'd do a draft list without Zion Williamson? Of course not. But it's like that for good reason. Williamson has LeBron James' athleticism and a work ethic that might (maybe) even exceed the King's.

The young man loves the game and competes hard every night (TBD how an 82-game schedule will wear, especially as a rookie). He literally busts out of his shoes to play basketball (OK, that's a bad joke, sorry).

But, seriously, he is a big body who is very hard to stop going to the basket and when he is being stopped there he finds a way to alter shots at the rim and get out in transition and wear teams out. Zion will be must-watch TV when he makes his NBA debut.

Grant Williams

Grant Williams is similar to Williamson in that he is a player who influences the game in multiple ways that can't really be quantified strictly by numbers. He hustles constantly, always appears to be in the right place to make a play and grabs a lot of offensive rebounds that give his team second chances.

And he's a better shooter than people give him credit for. Watch him putting up shots in a draft workout this spring. He's not that big and he's not that athletic, but to use a cliche, the whole is greater than the sum of his parts. He's a mature player who was part of a team that helped Tennessee win again. He could be very valuable in the late first round or even go higher than you might think.

Carsen Edwards

Sure, Edwards can get knocked for being a ball hog (nearly 20 shots per game for Purdue last season), isn't all that tall (6-1) and makes some silly mistakes. But he can shoot like crazy, has athleticism off the charts and plays really good defense too.

He could instantly be a sixth man who produces offense. Think Fred VanVleet but with more athleticism.

If he were 6-4 he might be a top-10 pick.

Dylan Windler

The Athletic's Tony Jones compared Belmont's Dylan Windler to Jazz forward Joe Ingles, and once you watch the lefty play, that comparison cannot be unseen.

Windler averaged 21.3 points while shooting 42.3 percent from beyond the arc for Belmont this year. He's tall (6-9), lanky (6-11 wingspan) and oddly slippery and more than good enough on defense.

He may look a little awkward, even goofy, but he finds a way to help his team, accumulates points quietly and has all of a sudden dominated a game.

A team that gets him in the second round will be very happy, and having played four years in college will only help Windler, who'll turn 23 before the NBA season starts. His maturity will be a huge asset coming off the bench for some team in 2019-20.

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Thomas Lott

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