Finally! After months of covering the Chronicles of Zion - capped off by Sportscenter’s Zion ABCs on Monday night - yesterday at 8:30 PM ESPN aired the results of the Zion Williamson sweepstakes, with the 6-8
demigod forward out of Duke looking likely to start his NBA career in New Orleans. But wait, don’t close this tab yet! Last night’s lottery also decided 13 other picks. And while it’s highly unlikely any Villanova players are selected in the lottery, the results will still have an indirect impact on some of the Wildcats currently on NBA teams with lottery picks. Why don’t we take a closer look, starting with the ‘Cats with the least established roles in the league.
Omari Spellman - Atlanta Hawks
Spellman’s Hawks exited the lottery with more picks in the 2019 Draft than they were promised going in, as Dallas’ fall to the 10th pick had the pick fall out of the top 5 protections installed in last year’s Luka Doncic Trae Young trade. Add that to their own 8th overall pick, and Spellman could have much more high-pedigree competition for minutes going into his second year. Luckily for him, the Hawks look likely to take a wing with the 8th pick given the talent in this draft. Depending on the views of the scouting departments above them, look for either Duke’s Cam Reddish, Texas Tech’s Jarrett Culver or Virginia’s De’Andre Hunter(in that order of probability) to become a Hawk. Where it gets murkier for Spellman is the sheer quantity of centers and stretch bigs looking to go around the 10th pick. Atlanta - depending on if they see John Collins as more of the 4 or a 5 - might see one of Sekou Doumbouya(France), Jaxson Hayes(Texas), Brandon Clarke(Gonzaga), or Bol Bol(Oregon) as a natural fit next to their franchise cornerstone in the frontcourt, likely blocking Spellman’s path to starting minutes. For those holding out hope this scenario does not come to pass, Atlanta could become enamored with the potential of a star wing scorer by capitalizing on the lowered stock of Romeo Langford(Indiana) or Nassir Little(North Carolina). But while anything is possible, expect Spellman to have a point to prove this coming Summer League.
Jalen Brunson - Dallas Mavericks
Spellman’s loss is Brunson’s gain. With Dallas’ 10th overall pick conveying to the Hawks, his Mavs have no 1st round picks with which to threaten Jalen’s minutes.
Ryan Arcidiacono - Chicago Bulls
Archie, Mark I managed to avoid his personal worst case scenario that would have been his Chicago Bulls drafting Ja Morant as their point guard of the future. Unfortunately, their pick at 7th overall puts him potentially right in the crosshairs of two blue chip point guard prospects in Darius Garland(Vanderbilt) and Coby White(North Carolina). But hey, keep your head up Archie! Neither of them can do this. While not Morant, both White and Garland would give Archie a run for his money in the short-tern before relegating him to a bench role. Garland is coming off a serious knee injury that could give teams pause about putting too much responsibility on him too early, but he possesses a complete offensive game. Not only is he a Grade-A shooter, he is a creative playmaker capable of both the wondrous and workmanlike aspects of running an offense. White is not quite the offensive specimen Garland is, but he’s lightning fast in transition, and his ability to guard NBA-level point guards will put him on the floor day one. He is the more likely of the two to pose an immediate threat to Archie’s minutes.
Josh Hart - Los Angeles Lakers
The best-case scenario for Hart would have been the Lakers winning the Zion Sweepstakes - thus making his perimeter shooting that much more valuable to their offense - and for a minute there I was really convinced it was going to happen! Alas, the Lake Show will probably add another 3-and-D wing to their stable, but I’m personally not worried about this affecting Hart’s role. While potential Laker picks De’Andre Hunter and Jarrett Culver both possess skill sets that overlap with what Hart provides, Los Angeles simply needs what they all provide - shooting and perimeter defense - so badly that scoring one of these two National Championship Game adversaries could actually help Hart improve his numbers by lessening the burden on him to provide these skills. With one of these guys on board, look for Hart and the Lakers to make their first playoff appearance in 2019-20.
Mikal Bridges - Phoenix Suns
Bridges is in a similar situation as Hart, in that no matter who the Suns draft, his skills are fungible and in demand enough that no one his team drafts could block his playing time. And while the Suns are run about as smoothly as the Villanova Basketball Ticket Lottery, they finally look destined to reach the promised land of drafting a true point guard to play next to Devin Booker. New GM James Jones will likely take his pick of Garland or White(presenting the Bulls with the other), giving that lucky rookie a free run at competing for the starting floor general role in Phoenix against competition as barren as the Arizona desert. But back to Mikal. With one of those two at the helm, Bridges should find himself getting more and more open looks at threes as his rookie facilitator gets more and more comfortable running an NBA offense. With more open threes coming to him and another capable outside shooter on the floor, Bridges should look even better in 2019-20 than he did in his promising rookie season.
Eric Paschall - Villanova Wildcats
Barring a simply outstanding performance at the combine this week, the results of last night’s lottery are unlikely to affect Eric Paschall. He could sneak into the end of the first round, but look for him to go off the board somewhere in the 30-45 range. It’s hard to predict where he’ll go this early in the process given that his defensive versatility and reasonably capable outside shooting make him a sort of plug and play wing any GM could feasibly take a chance on in the second round. Some interesting choices include Milwaukee at 30 where he would join former Wildcat Donte DiVincenzo, Golden State at 27 where he might look a bit of a reach if they did not have a history of going after versatile stretch bigs a la Jordan Bell at the end of the first round, Brooklyn because they have two picks around there (27, 30) and have a need for a stretch 4, and Philadelphia because they have three picks(33, 34, 42) and desperately need cheap bench shooting. Paschall going to Atlanta and joining Spellman is also a possibility if he goes later in this range, as they hold the 35th, 41st, and 44th picks.
With the gauntlet of the combine, workouts, and interviews starting for draft hopefuls this week and continuing up until the draft on June 20th, there’s a good chance even predictions that look like locks now could look foolish in a month. But with that said, this is what we know now and it’s as good a place as any to start looking at how our ‘Cats will be affected by the new rookie class.