The 5 Best Players from the 2019 NBA Draft

By Andrew D

July 18, 2022

Image Courtesy of Alamy

Now that the dust has settled and the disruptions of their first seasons are behind them, it’s time to take a look at the 2019 NBA Draft and assess how the top picks performed.

We have put together a list of the top 5 performers from that Draft class using the most sophisticated algorithms and scientific formulas known to mankind*

We are notoriously argumentative in The Jump Hub office when we start discussing a list such as this. Numbers 4 and 5 gave us particular issues and we are fully expecting some of you to baulk when you see them.

Half of us did…

Even so, there was not even a moment’s hesitation from any of us in choosing our 1st pick from the 2019 NBA Draft class.


  • Originally drafted – #2

  • Born – 10th August 1999 – age 23

  • Position – Point guard

  • Measurements – 6’3″ (1.9m) – 174lb (78kg)

  • NBA Draft – 2nd pick – Memphis Grizzlies

  • NBA debut – October 23rd, 2019

Ja Morant was drafted 2nd in the 2019 NBA draft by the Memphis Grizzlies. He kicked off his career there with 14 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal, and 1 block.

Not a bad debut by anyone’s standards.

But it was nothing compared to what came next…

Shortly thereafter he nailed his first career double-double with 23 points and 11 assists. The triple-double was the next milestone to fall and he did that early the next year.

He recorded a remarkable 44 points, 9 assists, 2 rebounds, and 2 steals in a game that the Grizzlies still failed to win. From game-winning layups to a league-high in assists among all rookies, Morant had an incredible first season.

When he was named Rookie of the Year and selected for the All-Rookie First Team there can’t have been many people who were hugely surprised.

In the play-in tournament that was newly implemented that year, Morant hit 35 points, 6 rebounds, and 6 assists to help Memphis secure their first NBA Playoffs spot in 4 seasons.

Despite him getting 47 points in Game 2 alone, the Grizzlies were not able to match his efforts and were eliminated.

The following season, Morant just carried right on where he left off. 37 points and 6 assists in the season-opener.

40 points and 10 assists just 4 days later…

The stats just kept coming and he was soon selected to his first All-Star Game as a West Starter. As if to prove that this was a sound decision, the very next day he snagged his 4th career triple-double and his career-highest scoring with 44 a few days later.

That lasted no time at all and he hit a franchise record of 46 points and then 52 points. All while maintaining an impressive level of playmaking for his teammates.

If he hadn’t injured his knee and missed 9 games, then we would surely have even more incredible numbers to convey. As it was, he still won the NBA Most Improved Player Award.

Morant joined LeBron James and Kobe Bryant as the only 3 players in NBA history ever to record multiple 45+ point games before the age of 23

His stats speak for themselves. This is one high ceiling that many others couldn’t reach standing on some stepladders with a broomstick.

Ja Morant is the real deal


  • Games – 187

  • Points – 21.2

  • Rebounds – 4.5

  • Assists – 7.1

  • Field goal % – 47.4%

  • 3-point % – 32.7%

  • Free throw % – 75.4%

  • Player efficiency rating (PER) – 19.4



  • Originally drafted – #1

  • Born – 6th July 2000 – Salisbury, North Carolina – age 22

  • Position – Power forward

  • Measurements – 6’6″ (1.98m) 284lb (128kg)

  • NBA Draft – 1st pick – New Orleans Pelicans

  • NBA debut – January 22nd, 2020

Zion Williamson was 1st pick in the 2019 NBA Draft and was selected by the New Orleans Pelicans. He sustained a slight injury in the pre-season, so started his rookie campaign a little late in January of 2020.

In just 18 minutes of that game, he scored 22 points and claimed 7 rebounds. 17 of those points were scored consecutively in just 3:08 minutes…

Williamson scored 20+ points in 10 consecutive games and became the first teenager in NBA history to do so.

Zion Williamson scored a career-high of 35 points, along with 7 rebounds in a single game.

Not since Michael Jordan had the NBA seen a rookie achieve 16 of 20 games with 20+ points scored. Williamson did that. He also took the highest scoring average across the first 24 games of a season. Again it was Jordan’s record.

He was a shoo-in for the NBA All-Rookie First Team and only missed being named NBA Rookie of the Year as a result of Ja Morant’s sensational season.

He averaged 22.5 points across the season and shot 58.3% of field goals from the floor. All while recording 6.3 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game.

In 2021, Williamson scored a new career-high of 36 points in a game where he became the youngest player in NBA history to get 30 points with 90 percent accuracy. He was selected for his first NBA All-Star game shortly thereafter.

Williamson was not done yet…

He tied the record for the longest streak of 20+ point games (with 50% shooting accuracy) with the legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. In fact, the record-equalling streak only ended after 25 consecutive games! That put him level with another legend, Shaquille O’Neal.

This is where things took a downward turn for Zion Williamson. He fractured his foot and needed surgery. It was hoped that he would be able to return by the start of the following season.

It was not to be.

Complications meant that the healing was slow and it was eventually announced that he would play no part in that entire season.

Be that as it may, his stats are truly remarkable. Just look at his success rate with field goals. 60.4%. Streets ahead of any other player on this list.

In fact, it’s only 7% less than the NBA’s all-time record.

He may be the second pick here, but that does not reflect badly on him at all. We have been truly impressed…


  • Games – 85

  • Points – 25.7

  • Rebounds – 7

  • Assists – 3.2

  • Field goal % – 60.4%

  • 3-point % – 33.3%

  • Free throw % – 68.3%

  • PER – 26.3

Awards and accolades


  • Originally drafted – #3

  • Born – February 29th, 2000 – Oshkosh, Wisconsin – age 22

  • Position – Power forward

  • Measurements – 6’5″ (1.96m) 185lb (83kg)

  • NBA Draft – 12th pick – New York Knicks

  • NBA debut – December 23rd, 2020

Our first non-mover at number 3 is R.J. Barrett.

The New York Knickerbockers chose Barrett at 3rd pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. He immediately posted 21 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals in his debut game.

Right on the heels of that performance he hit a career-high 27 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assist, and 1 steal.

Less than a month into his rookie season, Barrett sprained an ankle and sat out almost 2 months.

Undeterred, he picked up right where he left off and matched his 27-point tally, adding 5 rebounds, 5 assists and 1 steal for his best performance of the season to that point.

Barrett finished his rookie season averaging 14.3 points, 5.0 rebounds, 2.6 assists, and 1.0 steals in 30.4 minutes.

Of the 56 games R.J played, he started 55 of them

Many spectators were surprised and confused to see him left out of the NBA All-Rookie First Team.

Into the following season and Barrett got on with business. He scored a series of new career-highs and made serious improvements in his shooting.

R.J. Barrett started every game that was played in that tumultuous, broken year and averaged nearly 35 minutes in each of them.

The Knickerbockers made the NBA Playoffs for the first time in 8 years, but were unceremoniously dumped out first round by the Atlanta Hawks. Go Hawks!

Into the following season then, Barrett continued to score well and became the youngest ever Knickerbocker to score 30+ points in back-to-back games.

He also made the NBA’s record books as the 8th player ever to accrue 2,000 points, 500 rebounds, and 300 assists by the age of 21. He joined some illustrious names in that feat:

  • Kobe Bryant

  • LeBron James

  • Kevin Garnett

  • Tracy McGrady

  • Carmelo Anthony

  • Kevin Durant

  • Luka Dončić.

Smashing his previous personal best, Barrett nailed 46 points early in the year and, by the end of the season was the 7th player ever to score 3400+ points, 1,100+ rebounds, and 55+ assists before the age of 22.


Oh, and for good measure, he is also the youngest New York Knicks player ever to average 20 points per game for a season at 21 years old.


  • Games – 198

  • Points – 17.5

  • Rebounds – 5.6

  • Assists – 2.9

  • Field goal % – 41.8%

  • 3-point % – 35.7%

  • Free throw % – 69.7%

  • PER – 12.8



  • Originally drafted – 4th pick

  • Born – December 2nd, 1997 – age 24

  • Position – Small forward

  • Measurements – 6’7″ (2.01m) –  (kg)

  • NBA Draft – 4th pick – Los Angeles Lakers (traded to New Orleans Pelicans, then Atlanta Hawks – [Go Hawks!])

  • NBA debut – October 24th, 2019

Our second non-mover at number 4 is De’Andre Hunter.

After some trading shenanigans that saw him go from the Los Angeles Lakers to the Atlanta Hawks (Go Hawks!) via the New Orleans Pelicans, De’Andre Hunter started his NBA career with 14 points and 2 rebounds in his debut.

He improved upon that without too much delay and pushed his career high points tally to 33 shortly thereafter.

18 games in and the wheels came off when he injured his knee and he was effectively out for 3 months.

The following season, De’Andre began to return to form

He scored 23 points and snatched 4 rebounds in a single game and then a career high of 35 points and a very impressive 11 rebounds in another.

Hunter’s three-point percentage is the best of any player on this list


  • Games – 139

  • Points – 13.2

  • Rebounds – 4.1

  • Assists – 1.6

  • Field goal % – 43.4%

  • 3-point % – 35.9%

  • Free throw % – 78.5%

  • PER – 10.5


  • NCAA champion – 2019

  • Second-team All-American – NABC – 2019

  • Third-team All-American – APUSBWASN – 2019

  • NABC Defensive Player of the Year – 2019

  • First-team All-ACC – 2019

  • ACC Defensive Player of the Year – 2019

  • Sixth Man of the Year (ACC) – 2018

  • ACC All-Freshman Team – 2018


  • Originally drafted – 13th pick

  • Born – January 20th, 2000 – Milwaukee, Wisconsin – age 22

  • Position – Shooting guard

  • Measurements – 6’5″ (1.96m) – 195lb (88kg)

  • NBA Draft – 13th pick – Miami Heat

  • NBA debut – October 23rd, 2019

Jumping an impressive 8 places from 13th pick, and after much argument, we have chosen Tyler Herro as our 5th best player from the 2019 NBA Draft.

Let’s look at why:

Herro has some of the best stats of anyone on this list

There are certainly some very good arguments to say that he should actually be one place higher and usurp Hunter…

His field goal and 3-point percentages are particularly impressive. In fact, he has the best three point percentage here.

Tyler Herro made his NBA debut and took 14 points, 8 rebounds, 2 steals and 1 assist.

From the bench he made 29 points in his fourth game but, yet again we have a player that was injured and missed a substantial part of his rookie season and the All-Star Game he was due to feature in.

Again it was an ankle that caused the problem.

Returning in late summer, Herro immediately hit a career-high 30 points.

He then became the first player in NBA history that was born in the 2000s to play in an NBA Conference Finals game.

Moving into the Eastern Conference Finals that season, Herro scored a career-high 37 points. This made him only the fourth player in NBA Playoff history to score 30+ points before the age of 21.

It also made him the second-highest scorer after the legendary Magic Johnson

Conference Finals records for the youngest player to score 30+ points and the most points scored by a rookie followed.

Again this wasn’t the end of this constant stream of impressive numbers and achievements.

Tyler Herro became the first player born in the 2000s to play in the NBA Finals and this time he pipped Johnson (by 8 days) as the youngest ever NBA Finals starter.

In Game 4 he nailed the most 3 pointers by a rookie in NBA Playoffs history and that wasn’t even the end of it!

  • Highest points scored in the 3rd quarter of a Finals game (10)

  • Most 3-point shots in a game (45)

  • Consecutive NBA Playoff games with 10+ points scored by a rookie (20)

Herro kept up this incredible streak of performances the following season. He snagged career-highs in points scored, rebounds, and assists.

That season, Herro became the first player in Miami Heat history to snag 30+ points and 10 rebounds when coming off the bench.

In 2022, Herro was named NBA Sixth Man of the Year, becoming the first player in the franchise’s history to be awarded the title.


You can see why we argued about where to place Herro. We are happy to accept that he deserves a higher position.

See you in court.


  • Games – 175

  • Points – 16.7

  • Rebounds – 4.7

  • Assists – 3.2

  • Field goal % – 44%

  • 3-point % – 38.5%

  • Free throw % – 85.1%

  • PER – 14.3



Darius Garland – Original Pick: #5

Cameron Johnson- Original Pick: #11

Jordan Poole- Original Pick: #28

Keldon Johnson- Original Pick: #29

PJ Washington- Original Pick: #12

Daniel Gafford- Original Pick: #38

Cam Reddish- Original Pick: #10

Matisse Thybulle- Original Pick: #20

Terance Mann- Original Pick: #48

Luguentz Dort- Original Pick: Undrafted


So – when it comes to a discussion on the best players from the 2019 NBA draft, we feel these are the names that cannot go unmentioned. There are, perhaps, others that we have failed to mention that are causing your blood to boil as we speak. To this, we can only say that each individual commentator’s opinions are bound to differ. Often wildly.

Some people place more unconscious bias on players with a rocking offensive game. Others appreciate the dogged determination and tenaciousness of work done on the defensive end. Last season we saw superlative examples of both of these from the 2019 NBA Draft class. Enough that choosing a top 5 was nightmarish.

As can often be the case, if the list had just been one pick then we’d have been done after 10 seconds. Nobody could fail to be impressed by Ja Morant unless they are in serious need of an eye test.

We couldn’t get through a discussion about it here without voices being raised so give us a break. We’re trying.


This is not really in the remit of this article but is something that occurred to us when making this list.

All 5 of our top picks here were injured at some point during their rookie season. As were 2/5 of the 2020 NBA Draft class.

It’s purely an observation but something that might warrant further investigation. Perhaps it is just a coincidence.

Maybe it reflects a flaw in the system somewhere?

Either in how teams handle the training regimes of new recruits.

Or maybe a lack of suitable preparation when competing at the college level?

It is scientifically proven that driving young bodies to the extremes before they are even finished growing and changing can be detrimental to their performance levels and longevity. Nobody is saying that college athletes should be pushed harder if that would be counter-productive. But, perhaps, NBA franchises have a responsibility to ease their new recruits in a little more, rather than throwing them in at the deep end.

It has given us an idea for a follow-up article so watch this space…

*Legal disclaimer – this is not true

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