Scouting the 2019 Draft: A first look at Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett

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Danny Ainge has only made a few lottery picks during his tenure as Celtics president, but he’s made the best of those opportunities over the past few years. Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum were both home run choices at No. 3 in 2016 and 2017, while Marcus Smart at No. 6 in 2014 remains one of the better picks of a subpar draft as a whole.

Ainge will potentially get his last crack at the lottery for a long time in the summer of 2019, with the possibility of two picks awaiting Boston in the top 14 between the best of Sacramento/Philadelphia pick (top-1 protected) and Memphis pick (top-8 protected).

While August is months away from the start of the college basketball season, we got our first extended glimpse at some of the top prospects in the projected 2019 draft class this past week as Duke played three games against Canadian universities as part of an exhibition tour. With three of the top five consensus 2019 prospects suiting up for Duke this year in RJ Barrett, Cam Reddish, and Zion Williamson, the Blue Devils will be the team to watch all year long for scouting purposes for Celtics fans.

While these Canadian schools were a major step below the competition that Duke will face in the ACC all year long, let’s take an early look at some of the elite talent that the Celtics will have their eyes on all season long and how they might fit down the line. (Note: Reddish did not play due to a groin injury)

RJ Barrett
Height: 6-foot-7
Weight: 202 lbs
Position: SG/SF
Averages during exhibition games: 31.0 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 5.0 apg
Draft range: 1-5

First impressions: With the focus in the NBA becomes more and more on versatility, Barrett’s size and solid athleticism make him an easy choice as a top prospect. He can do a little bit of everything as a wing and spent a lot of his time in these first few exhibition contests as both a scorer and distributor for Duke’s offense.