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NBA Draft 2019

NBA Draft 2019: Making the case for RJ Barrett as a top five pick

#RJ B

The NBA Draft Lottery finally gave us the order for the draft on Thursday, June 20 - meaning we're one step closer to finding out where RJ Barrett will ply his trade in the NBA.

Though he's widely considered a top-three prospect on most big boards, it's not a slam dunk he goes in the top three as there are mock drafts in which Barrett starts to slip.

Assuming Zion Williamson ends up being the number one overall pick come June, Barrett's most likely draft spot is anywhere from second to fifth.

Let's take a look at how Barrett might impact each team drafting in that range.

Memphis Grizzlies

The Grizzlies struggled to find someone other than Mike Conley who could get their own shot last season.

Memphis averaged 16.5 points off pull-up jumpers last season which ranked second-to-last in the NBA and its 34.8% field goal percentage off pull-up jimmies was just slightly better than the last place Hawks who hit on just 34.7%.

While Barrett's jumper won't be described as automatic heading into his rookie season, he fared well in the mid-range when forced to create his own looks in his freshman season at Duke.

According to Synergy's player-tracking data, 17.1% of Barrett's offence came from pull-up jumpers. He shot 38% on 92 attempts which is a good sample size. In isolation situations, he shot 43.1%. Keep in mind that Barrett should benefit from NBA spacing as he did that on a Duke team that really struggled from the outside. Without multiple bodies packing the paint, Barrett could see a spike in pull-up efficiency at the next level.

The Grizzlies drafting Barrett would give them the wing scorer they desperately need to pair with Conley and their young stud Jaren Jackson Jr.

New York Knicks

Considering their talent, the Knicks got to the rim a fair amount last season. They averaged 45.4 drives per game which was more than Houston (44.5) and just less than Oklahoma City (46.3). The only problem was when they got to the basket they couldn't finish as they shot a league-worst 42.6% on drives according to NBA.com stats.

Barrett was one of college basketball's elite finishers at the rim. He shot 47.3% on drives which included his pull-jumpers and 55% when you removed jump shots and only accounted for layups and runners.

If there's one thing Barrett can do at an elite level from Day 1 it's finding a way to score at or around the basket. That's a skill the Knicks would surely welcome.

Los Angeles Lakers

What could prepare you more for playing with a mega-star like LeBron James than playing alongside a mega-star in college like Zion Williamson - and not just playing beside him by shining right along with him.

No matter where Duke went or what Duke accomplished, all people talked about was Zion. That includes a stretch towards the end of the year when Williamson missed six games during which Barrett averaged over 26 points per game. It would have been easy for Barrett to get frustrated living in Zion's supersized shadow, but instead, he embraced it and succeeded right alongside his much-hyped teammate.

Playing with LeBron James is not easy as many who have tried have faded in the King James spotlight. Given his experiences thriving next to Williamson, Barrett might be the rare young player that would thrive in that environment. He'd embrace it and use it as an opportunity to learn from one of the game's greatest players.

If Duke was big enough for both Zion and RJ to shine, there's plenty of room in Los Angeles for LeBron and RJ to shine.

Cleveland Cavaliers

The Cavs relied a ton on rookie Collin Sexton once they started to play him consistently.

Sexton's usage rate of 24.5 and assist percentage of 15.4 showed that at this early stage, he's still far more comfortable searching for his own than getting others involved. That's not unheard of for rookie point guards learning how to succeed at the highest level. Some of it is maturity, some of it is skill and some of it is surrounding talent.

Barrett would help fix that last problem. He'd fill Cleveland's hole on the wing and give the Cavs one of the best finishers in this rookie class.

The likelihood of Barrett dropping this low to the Cavs is slim but if he does, he'd fill one of Cleveland's biggest needs right away and give Sexton another scoring option to work with as he continues to develop into Cleveland's point guard of the future.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA or its clubs.

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