The Golden State Warriors make their fifth straight NBA finals, are they better than Jordan's Bulls?

By May 21, 2019
Leighton Levy

Leighton Levy is a journalist with 28 years’ experience covering crime, entertainment, and sports. He joined the staff at SportsMax.TV as a content editor two years ago and is enjoying the experience of developing sports content and new ideas. At SportsMax.tv he is pursuing his true passion - sports.

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

    Zion Williamson is receiving most of the attention ahead of the 2019 NBA Draft, but there are plenty of players who could make their mark early.

    There are obvious ones like RJ Barrett, who finished 14th in the nation in points per game with 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.

    Here are four instant-impact picks in the 2019 NBA Draft, with the New Orleans Pelicans poised to select first on June 20.

     

    Zion Williamson

    Did you think we would do a draft list without Williamson? Of course not. But it is like that for good reason. Williamson has LeBron James' athleticism and a work ethic that might (maybe) even exceed the Los Angeles Lakers superstar.

    The young man loves the game and competes hard every night, though it remains to be seen how an 82-game NBA schedule will wear, especially as a rookie.

    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

    Williams is similar to Williamson in that he is a player who influences the game in multiple ways that cannot 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 is a better shooter than people give him credit for. He is not that big and he is not that athletic, but to use a cliché, the whole is greater than the sum of his parts. He is 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), is not 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 of the Toronto Raptors but with more athleticism.

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

    Dylan Windler

    Likened to Utah Jazz forward Joe Ingles, once you watch Windler play, that comparison cannot be unseen.

    Windler averaged 21.3 points while shooting 42.3 per cent from beyond the arc for Belmont this year. He is 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 drafts him in the second round will be very happy, and having played four years in college will only help Windler, who will turn 23 before the NBA season starts. His maturity will be a huge asset coming off the bench in 2019-20.

  • NBA Draft 2019: Which teams have the most on the line? NBA Draft 2019: Which teams have the most on the line?

    This year's NBA Draft could help a number of teams accelerate their progress toward success - or set them back.

    Just a few picks could change the direction of a franchise and some of them have a lot on the line in 2019.

    We take a look at three such sides ahead of Thursday's draft.

     

    New York Knicks

    New York had their sights set on getting the top pick and selecting Zion Williamson, but things did not shake out that way. Instead, the Knicks ended up with the number three overall pick and are expected to select RJ Barrett, another Duke star.

    The Knicks appeared to be front-runners to land Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in free agency this summer, too, but recent reports suggest otherwise.

    The team were also was reluctant to part with young assets to land the New Orleans Pelicans' Anthony Davis in a trade and missed that train, as the Los Angeles Lakers forked over a massive hall to secure the superstar.

    In a market that emphasises going for championships as soon as possible, making the right selection on Thursday is imperative.

     

    Phoenix Suns

    Yet another victim of unexpected draft lottery results, the Suns were banking on landing in the top three. They instead sit at sixth. 

    Phoenix are in dire need of a point guard, with their makeshift depth chart at the position causing the young team plenty of problems last season. It seems unlikely that the Suns will get a chance to select Ja Morant, though, 2019's most coveted floor general.

    Darius Garland could be a good consolation prize, though. He was productive at Vanderbilt in a limited college career hampered by an early knee injury. However, reports suggest Phoenix would also be willing to trade for a veteran guard who is ready to play now.

    The Suns' assortment of combo wings has not led to much success so far, so they need to discover some sense of direction, especially since they have a new coach and general manager.

     

    Charlotte Hornets

    The Hornets could this offseason lose what has brought most fans to games. Kemba Walker is coming off a career year in which he averaged 25.6 points per game and was third-team All-NBA.

    Walker, 29, qualified for a supermax deal, which could cripple Charlotte and limit their ability to build a better team around him. He is willing to take less, but he also wants to win - very soon.

    The Hornets have significant money tied up in players like Marvin Williams, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Nic Batum and Bismack Biyombo, who have not contributed much of late. But they also have young assets like Miles Bridges and Malik Monk that could be used for leverage in a big trade.

    Charlotte have the number 12 pick in Thursday's draft but are reportedly looking for a way to move up. The Hornets will have to do so to get the game-changer they need.

  • NBA Draft 2019: How Zion Williamson will fit with the Pelicans NBA Draft 2019: How Zion Williamson will fit with the Pelicans

    Zion Williamson will almost certainly be selected by the New Orleans Pelicans with the number one pick in Thursday's NBA Draft, but his new team is about to get a full makeover.

    New Orleans sent its first No.1 overall pick Anthony Davis to the Los Angeles Lakers for a bevy of assets, including Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart and three first-round selections.

    The Pelicans now have one of the most talented young cores in the NBA, and Williamson, who turns 19 in July, will be at centre stage in the franchise's renaissance.

    New Orleans' play will be different in 2019-20 and we take a look at how.

     

    Defense

    The Pelicans will field one of the more intriguing defensive units in the NBA next season, as it has acquired plenty of length and athleticism. The starting unit, however, may have to face some unique challenges given its personnel.

    Jrue Holiday has made an NBA All-Defensive team in each of the past two seasons, so he is unquestionably one of the more talented defensive guards in the league. The 6ft 4in floor general can defend both guard positions with ease and will likely see plenty of minutes with 6ft 6in Ball, who is one of the NBA's most underrated off-ball defenders. And then there is Hart, who ranked third in defensive real plus-minus among all shooting guards in 2018-19. Only Jimmy Butler and Danny Green edged him out in that category.

    Needless to say, New Orleans have a solid rotation of defensive guards lined up.

    Williamson will likely play in a forward spot alongside the lanky, 6ft 9in Ingram. Ingram's 7ft 3in wingspan next to Williamson's 285-pound frame and 45-inch vertical could be a nightmare for opposing teams. Both are quick on their feet, which bodes well for shot-blocking and switching on the perimeter and in the paint. These two can definitely provide some versatility on the defensive end.

    Julius Randle has declined a $9million player option and, while he would be an undersized center at 6ft 9in, the experiment could be worth a shot. Jahlil Okafor might come into the picture, but given the lack of depth in the middle, Williamson could fill in as a small-ball five from time to time. He has a natural ability to protect the rim.

    All in all, the front line of this Pelicans team doesn't look as if it'll fold easily on this end.

    Offense

    One interesting topic of discussion is what position Williamson should play in the NBA.

    Though he was a power forward at Duke, Williamson is only 6ft 7in. But we have seen other undersized forwards thrive in an era of positionless basketball — most notably Draymond Green, who also is 6ft 7in. Green can push the pace and serve as a primary distributor, something Williamson has yet to do. However, he has plenty of room to grow.

    Williamson made it clear at times that he can handle the ball and is an able and willing passer. But by no means will he be asked to run the offense. Can a high-flying Williamson develop a traditional back-to-the-basket game against considerably taller players? That question needs to be answered.

    He certainly has the speed and spring to gel with the Pelicans' new roster. At the very least, he will be a lethal option on the break. If he develops his jump shot for pick-and-roll and pick-and-pop scenarios, even better. New Orleans' newest attraction simply is not the kind of player you can just draw up a play for on the block right now, but he is someone with the natural talent to rack up hustle points.

    The Pelicans also still have the No. 4 pick in their back pocket. It appears as if they would ultimately like to trade it for a veteran piece. New Orleans need a shooter, as its current group will not allow for much floor spacing.

    This much we know: New Orleans will be an exciting team everyone will be watching in 2019-20.

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