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2019 NBA Mock Draft Without One-&-Done: Knicks Benefit Big-Time

Sascha Paruk

by Sascha Paruk in NBA Basketball

May 8, 2018 · 9:17 AM PDT

Knicks center Kristaps Porzingis lays the ball in.
With Kristaps Porzingis set to miss most of the 2018-19 season, the Knicks are hoping the 2019 draft is as stocked as possible. Photo by Keith Allison (Wikimedia Commons) [CC License].
  • The Commission on College Basketball recently recommended eradicating the one-and-done rule.
  • See how 2018 and 2019 NBA mock drafts change without it in place.
  • Learn why removal of the rule for 2019 would be particularly beneficial to New York. 

The Commission on College Basketball’s final findings on the issues plaguing its titular sport left people asking, “Where’s the beef?”

The biggest complaint? The commission failed to address amateurism, (in)arguably the root of all the ills. But it did make a few clear and cogent recommendations, and the most interesting for everyday college and NBA fans is to get rid of the one-and-done rule, which requires prospects to either be 19 years of age or one year removed from their high-school graduation before they can enter the NBA draft.

The rule has been in place since 2006. Hence, LeBron James (2003), Dwight Howard (2004), and Andrew Bynum (2005) went to the Association straight out of high school, while Greg Oden and Kevin Durant (2007) were forced to put off their multi-million dollar paydays for a year, as has every prospect since.

It’s not a rule that sits well with those who hold wacky, new-age tenets like “freedom of choice.”


The commission’s recommendations have been widely endorsed, which means the one-and-done rule is on its last legs. It’s too late to nix it for the 2018 NBA Draft, and 2019 is not looking good at this point, but 2020 is a strong possibility.

The NBA and National Basketball Players Association’s conversations on eliminating the one-and-done entry rule have centered on lowering the minimum age requirement no sooner than the 2020 draft, league sources told ESPN. — Adrian Wojnarowski, ESPN

It’s no secret that, heading into the 2018-19 season, numerous NBA teams are more interested in building for the future than winning games (see Knicks, Nets, Hawks, Bulls) and those inhabitants of “Tank Nation” are hoping the eradication of the overly officious one-and-done rule can be expedited for the 2019 draft.

As it stands, the 2019 draft class is the weakest of sauces, registering no higher than a poblano pepper on the Scoville Scale. None of the incoming freshmen received a grade higher than 96 from ESPN, something that has literally never happened before in the history of its rankings (which date back to 2007).

Making matters worse, the general consensus is that there’s a significant drop-off after no. 1 prospect RJ Barrett.

Depending where you look, the no. 2 prospect is either Cam Reddish (247 Sports), Nassir Little (Rivals), or Zion Williamson (ESPN), and the discrepancy isn’t a product of scouting services being overly infatuated with one player or another.

While the 2019 class isn’t exactly loaded, either, there is talent at the top, and having it available in the 2019 draft would be welcome news to teams like New York, which is already bracing for a year sans Kristaps Porzingis, and Brooklyn, which will have its own first-round pick for the first time since 2013.

Here’s how the lottery for the 2019 draft looks at the moment, compared to how it could look if the one-and-done rule is no longer in place at the time of the draft.

*The classes used below are based on players’ statuses during the 2017-18 season. Thus Kentucky’s Jarred Vanderbilt is labeled a freshman and Gonzaga’s Rui Hachimura is a sophomore, though all the players will have another year under their belt by the time of the 2019 draft. 

PROJECTED 2019 NBA DRAFT LOTTERY

RANKING/PICK WITH ONE-AND-DONE RULE IN PLACE WITHOUT ONE-AND-DONE RULE
1 RJ Barrett (Duke): SF/Wing, 2018 class James Wiseman (HS): C, 2019 class
2 Zion Williamson (Duke): SF/PF, 2018 class  RJ Barrett (Duke, Fr.): SF/wing, 2018 class
3 Cam Reddish (Duke): SG, 2018 class Vernon Carey, Jr. (HS): PF, 2019 class
4 Bol Bol (Oregon): C, 2018 class Zion Williamson (Duke): SF/PF, 2018 class
5  Nassir Little (UNC): PG, 2018 class Cam Reddish (Duke): SF/Wing, 2018 class
6 Sekou Doumbouya (France): SF, international  Charles Bassey (HS): C, 2019 class
7  Romeo Langford (Indiana): SG, 2018 class  Bol Bol (Oregon): C, 2018 class
8  Luka Samanic (Croatia): SF/PF, international Nassir Little (UNC): PG, 2018 class
9  PJ Washington (Kentucky): PF, freshman Sekou Doumbouya (France): SF, international
10  Jarred Vanderbilt (Kentucky): SF, freshman Romeo Langford (Indiana): SG, 2018 class
11  Quentin Grimes (Kansas): SG, 2018 class Luka Samanic (Croatia): SF/PF, international
12  Keldon Johnson (Kentucky): SF/Wing, 2018 class PJ Washington (Kentucky): PF, freshman
13 Rui Hachimura (Gonzaga): SF/Wing, sophomore Jarred Vanderbilt (Kentucky): SF, freshman
14  O’Shae Brissett (Syracuse): SF/Wing, freshman Cole Anthony (HS): PG, 2019 class 

At this stage, it’s very debatable whether James Wiseman would leapfrog RJ Barrett for no. 1 overall. (Barrett was the top 2019 recruit, ahead of Wiseman, until the former reclassified to 2018.) But there’s a decent chance the 16-year-old Wiseman becomes the consensus no. 1 by spring 2019 if the one-and-done rule is nixed.

Soon to be seven-feet tall and already boasting a 7’4 wingspan, Wiseman moves with the grace of a much shorter wing. He already has well-developed post-moves with his left, is getting better at going right, and has a budding face-up game plus increasing range on his jumper.

Don’t let the word “grace” mislead you about his tenacity. Though he’s a bit on the skinny side, he’s stronger than he looks and already a solid rim-protector. His defensive potential may be the most exciting part of his game. Either that or his effortless dunks.

He’s already drawn comparisons to a young Anthony Davis.

Barrett, on the other hand, is a versatile 6’6 wing with strong finishing skills around the rim, deceptive speed, and a high motor. He does a lot of things on a basketball court really well, but his shooting is a concern.

It’s hard to knock a high-schooler too hard for shooting around 30% from three — accuracy improves with age — but a sub-60% free-throw rate doesn’t bode well, and if you’re going to play the three in the modern NBA, you have to be able to shoot the three … unless you play defense like Andre Roberson.

But whichever way teams lean — Wiseman or Barrett — those in the 2019 lottery will be hoping and praying that both are available, because settling for a player with as tenuous an NBA skill-set as Zion Williamson at no. 2 is no one’s idea of a good time.

Conversely, teams picking high in the 2018 draft don’t have to be too sad that the one-and-done rule is still operative this year. Even if the incoming crop of 2018 freshmen were available, the 2018 lottery would look pretty similar to how it looks now.

PROJECTED 2018 NBA DRAFT LOTTERY

RANKING/PICK WITH ONE-AND-DONE IN PLACE WITHOUT ONE-AND-DONE RULE
1 (Phoenix) DeAndre Ayton (Arizona): C, freshman DeAndre Ayton (Arizona): C, freshman
2 (Memphis) Luka Doncic (Slovenia): SG, international Luka Doncic (Slovenia): G, international
3  (Dallas) Marvin Bagley (Duke.): PF, freshman Marvin Bagley (Duke.): PF, freshman
4 (Atlanta)  Jaren Jackson Jr (Michigan State): PF, freshman RJ Barrett (Duke): SF/Wing, 2018 class
5 (Orlando)  Mo Bamba (Texas): C, freshman  Jaren Jackson Jr (Michigan State): PF, freshman
6 (Chicago)  Michael Porter Jr (Missouri): SF/PF, freshman  Mo Bamba (Texas): C, freshman
7 (Sacramento)  Wendell Carter (Duke): PF, freshman  Michael Porter Jr (Missouri): SF/PF, freshman
8 (Cleveland via Brooklyn)  Trae Young (Oklahoma): PG, freshman Wendell Carter (Duke): PF, freshman
9 (New York) Mikal Bridges (Villanova): SG/SF,  junior  Trae Young (Oklahoma): PG, freshman
10 (Philadelphia via LA Lakers)  Collin Sexton (Alabama): PG, freshman Mikal Bridges (Villanova): SF/Wing,  junior
11 (Charlotte)  Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Kentucky): PG/SG, freshman  Collin Sexton (Alabama): PG, freshman
12 (LA Clippers via Detroit) Miles Bridges (Michigan State): SF/Wing, sophomore Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Kentucky): PG/SG, freshman
13 (LA Clippers)  Lonnie Walker (Miami): SG, freshman Zion Williamson (Duke): SF/PF, 2018 class
14 (Denver) Kevin Knox (Kentucky): PF, freshman Miles Bridges (Michigan State): SF/Wing, sophomore

This projection is eminently debatable, as well. But when asked whether anyone from the 2018 class (besides Barrett) would go in this year’s lottery,  draft expert Cole Zwicker from The Stepien said, “I think RJ is the only guy that for sure goes lottery, with Zion Williamson and Cam Reddish being the other two potential candidates.”

RJ is the only guy [among the class of 2018] that for sure goes lottery [in this year’s draft]. — Cole Zwicker, The Stepien

He was also confident that Barrett would not go ahead of Ayton, whom he has fourth on his draft board.

This is just a theoretical exercise, of course, since there’s no chance of the 2018 draft including next year’s freshmen-to-be. But it demonstrates the basic principle that the 2018 freshmen aren’t very good, as a group, and that the 2019 draft could use an infusion of talent.

If one-and-done is killed off at a later date, 2020 or byeond, the ensuing draft could end up with an embarrassment of riches. If it’s killed off next year, the Knicks, Nets, and the rest of Tank Nation will merely have an average crop to pick from.

The Knicks, in particular, should be hoping and praying for this because, when they have Porzingis for an entire season (hopefully 2019-20), they should be instant playoff contenders in the East. So the 2019 draft may be their last in the lottery for a while.

Would you like to see the one-and-done rule eliminated? Who would you draft first, RJ Barrett or James Wiseman? Join the conversation on our Facebook page or Twitter

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