ESPN analyst calls Barrett better pick over Zion Williamson

Zion Williamson, New Orleans Pelicans. RJ Barrett, New York Knicks. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Zion Williamson, New Orleans Pelicans. RJ Barrett, New York Knicks. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images) /

In the wake of the most recent controversy surrounding Ja Morant, ESPN Analyst Stephen A Smith had this to say about the top-3 selections of the 2019 NBA Draft:

“Between Zion Williamson’s body and Ja Morant’s stupidity, RJ Barrett might end up being the best pick.”

For those unaware, Morant was suspended by the Memphis Grizzlies indefinitely after an Instagram video surfaced over the weekend of Morant holding a gun. The team is now conducting an investigation regarding the circumstances of the incident.

With that new development, and New Orleans Pelicans’ superstar Zion Williamson missing 135 regular season games in the last two years, Smith (a longtime New York Knicks fan) felt compelled to make that bold proclamation about RJ Barrett being seemingly the best pick of the three.

Barrett has been excellent to begin his career, appearing in 271 games and contributing averages of 18.1 PPG/5.4 RPG/2.8 APG over the first four years of his career. No disrespect to him at all, but Smith’s comments are still off the mark.

Despite the exigent circumstances surrounding the early parts of their career, when Morant and Williamson have been on the court, they have been nothing short of spectacular. Between the two of them, they already have four All-Star selections. And if they can stay on the court, it is a near certainty that the total between them will only grow.

While Barrett has put up some noteworthy counting statistics and played an important role in the Knicks’ first-round series win over the Cleveland Cavaliers, it is still unknown whether he will ever reach the All-Star heights his classmates are already operating at.

His point is valid in that, if these issues (on-court in Williamson’s case and off-court in Morant’s) end up ultimately dissolving their careers in the next couple of years, then having Barrett’s production for a decade-and-a-half or so certainly outweighs their short burst of excellence.

But we’ve already discussed how modern stars like Joel Embiid have been able to overcome early-career injury woes to reach their full potential as a prospect. And in Morant’s case, while he has acted dangerously and irresponsibly up to this point, he’s still young and has plenty of opportunity to grow and redeem himself.

So yes, this season has exposed some real concerns regarding Morant and Williamson’s long-term impact in the league. But if they can overcome these obstacles, there is no question they remain the proper selections at one and two spots of the 2019 NBA Draft.

Next. 3 disastrous mistakes the Pelicans must avoid making this summer. dark