We’re just days into the 2019 edition of March Madness, but we’ve already been blessed with salivating performances from Ja Morant and Zion Williamson. The two biggest apples in a lot of eyes will have at least another go-round as both of their respected teams remain alive, with Murray State playing later today against Florida State (5:10 Central tip-off) and Duke battling University of Central Florida tomorrow at 4:15 PM Central.
Morant posted a jaw-dropping line of 17 points, 16 assists and 11 rebounds in the first round on Thursday, becoming just the eighth player in NCAA Tournament history to record a triple-double, and he’s already promised an encore.
For those unfamiliar with Morant’s ability, that game against Marquette perfectly highlighted his talents: he’s an incredible scorer, an equally adept passer and not shy about going inside the paint and fighting for rebounds amongst the trees. In his sophomore season, the 6’3 guard averaged 24.4 points, 10.2 assists and 5.7 rebounds. No other player in NCAA history had previously met those three benchmarks since all of these statistics started being kept in the 1992-93 season.
Equally as impressive in the first round because of a 6’7, 285lb body that seems to defy gravity at least a few times a game, Zion Williamson scored 25 points on 12 of 16 shooting last night against North Dakota State.
i have to go now. my planet needs me pic.twitter.com/J7E5UrExXv— Hector Diaz (@iamHectorDiaz) March 23, 2019
Across 30 games this season, Zion averaged 22.2 points, 8.7 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 2.2 steals and 1.8 blocks as a freshman at Duke. He possesses such a special blend of size, power and speed that we haven’t witnessed since, well, maybe never!
Many have compared Williamson to stars like Charles Barkley, Blake Griffin and even LeBron James, but I think there’s a good chance he winds up in a class of his own. One thing is for sure, he consistently offers glimpses of a motor and ability that should make him a beloved superstar.
We know Zion Williamson is a freak athlete, but plays like this are the intangibles that separate good from great players. The deflection and then hustling to beat a guard for a loose ball are the winning plays coaches dream about! pic.twitter.com/Ul9bgZEOSc— Michael Scotto (@MikeAScotto) March 23, 2019
Currently, the New Orleans Pelicans have the ninth worst record in the league. That translates to a 20.3% chance at a top 4 pick and a 4.5% to grab the number one spot in May’s draft lottery. However, New Orleans sits just two games in back of the Dallas Mavericks, who are clinging to the sixth spot and a 37.2% at a top 4 pick and 9.0% odds at the top prize.
Also, don’t forget about any of the teams sitting higher than the Pelicans in the lottery like the New York Knicks. Some team with an owner desperate to change the track of their franchise may be eager enough to deal a top 2019 first round pick in a trade for Anthony Davis.
Stay tuned for more on Morant, Williamson and other top draft choices here on The Bird Writes as we’ll soon start rolling out scouting reports, mock drafts and other fun articles!