As of now, the three teams with the best odds to land the first overall pick in this summer’s draft are the New York Knicks, Phoenix Suns, and Cleveland Cavaliers. With the worst three records in the league, the Knicks, Suns, and Cavs all have identical odds (14%) of picking first on June 20.
Anyone who has been keeping up with basketball knows who Zion Williamson is, and the Duke product is a shoo-in to have his name called first on draft night. Williamson recently returned from a knee injury, making headlines by blowing through his Nike shoe, and led his team to victory against UNC with 31 points.
It would be an absolute shocker if anyone not named Zion Williamson went first overall, which begs the question: out of the top three lottery teams, which organization suits Zion the best?
New York Knicks
The Knicks have been a disaster this season, holding the single-worst record in the league and trading away Kristaps Porzingis, who disagreed with the franchise’s direction. The tank has been real for New York, going 13-56 in the hopes that they draft The Monstar this summer.
If the Knicks fail to land Kevin Durant and/or Kyrie Irving in free agency, the only consolation would be picking Zion in the draft. Without Durant and Irving, there wouldn’t be massive expectations to make the postseason right away, allowing for New York to bask in The Zion Show for at least one full season.
Zion has the marketability that New York requires, the superstar potential, and the highlights to rock Madison Square Garden night in and night out. With Dennis Smith Jr., Mitchell Robinson, and Kevin Knox, the Knicks will have an enticing young core headlined by one of Duke’s biggest superstars.
The Suns have been great as of late, beating each conference’s best team, the Golden State Warriors and Milwaukee Bucks, and going 5-5 in their last ten games.
Kelly Oubre Jr. has been excellent in the last 10 games, averaging 18.7 points per game and making a strong case to be re-signed in free agency this summer. Devin Booker, who’s been a great player on a bad team since getting to the league, just signed a contract extension and with Deandre Ayton quietly having a great rookie season, the Suns could be fun with Zion.
Zion and Ayton would be an insane offensive frontcourt, and with Phoenix’s failed findings of forwards through the draft (Dragan Bender, Marquese Chriss, Josh Jackson), Zion could be the piece that gets Phoenix in sniffing distance of the playoffs.
Zion with Phoenix’s current core would be an absolute treat to watch, but whether they would be successful right away is a different story. The West is loaded, but the Suns should be patient — adding Zion is a massive step in the right direction for their rebuild.
As expected after LeBron James’ departure to the Lakers, the Cavs are bad. At 17-52, Cleveland has 23 less wins than they did at this point of the season last year, and are in need of a savior.
Williamson would be the Cavs’ biggest get since drafting the hometown hero in 2003, and would give Cleveland fans a reason to come out to Quicken Loans Arena every night. It’d be reckless to say that Zion would have close to the same effect on the Cavaliers that LeBron did, but it’d be a good start.
Rounding out Cleveland’s roster are championship remnants Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson, along with rookie Collin Sexton, and former Lakers, Larry Nance Jr. and Jordan Clarkson. It’s hard to see this roster making an impact in the Eastern Conference even with Zion on the roster, but it’d certainly be a place for growth.
Zion’s usage would likely be through the roof for Cleveland, even possibly handling the ball alongside Sexton at times. The Cavaliers wouldn’t be elite status if they draft Zion, but he would vastly improve the product they’re currently putting out on the court.