With the last meaningful college basketball action finished for the year, here are the top 60 2019 NBA Draft prospects as we head into draft season.
The NCAA Tournament has come and gone. It provided us with an entertaining last three rounds, culminating in Virginia’s victory over Texas Tech in one of the best title games in years. Our last vestiges of the college basketball season will be Jarrett Culver taking over late in three straight late-game situations; De’Andre Hunter taking over the title game; and of course, Duke’s collapse against Michigan State.
Now we shift gears into draft season. The early entry deadline is on April 22nd, and that will be our first major landmark in determining which talented underclassmen will be in the 2019 NBA Draft pool. Over the next two weeks, players will slowly trickle into the pre-draft process, and we should start to get a better idea of where things stand. For now, though, here’s our current top 60 prospects as they stand after the NCAA Tournament.
The man stays the man. Duke could have lost to a No. 16 seed and Zion would still be number one.
SF, Texas Tech
Culver has some exciting playmaking skills and potential scoring upside. His finishing ability and defensive utility should earn him an easy rotation spot, giving him one of the highest floors in the class.
Culver and Barrett both had up-and-down tournaments. Culver’s bright spots were bright, like his explosion of points at the end of the Michigan State game that put Texas Tech in the title game, but he struggled to score against length for most of the tournament. Meanwhile, Barrett showed significant growth as a playmaker in the tournament and had a couple of big scoring games. But he also almost gave up a game-winning offensive rebound against UCF in the second round, and his defense remains deeply problematic. I value Barrett’s offensive value slightly higher than Culver’s defensive value and slim scoring upside, but there’s not a bad choice between the two at the number two spot.
White seemed to improve with every game this year. His offensive ceiling feels highest of every point guard in this class, and he has the best defensive upside among the crop’s elite talents.
PG, Murray State
He had a triple-double and a 28-point game, but Morant still looked like the same awkward finisher, passive defender, and questionable game manager he’s been all year. He remains behind Garland despite what he did to Marquette in round one.
Hunter will be riding high on his title game performance into the combine. He is the best defender of the many three/four hybrids in the class, and probably has a higher offensive ceiling than he gets credit for.
The more tape I watch on Clarke, the further and further he climbs in perceived value, despite being 22. His dominant performance against Baylor was the single most impressive game of the tournament.
It’s put up or shut up time for Nassir Little, who has gotten a lot of benefit of the doubt for his UNC performance, but really needs to impress in workouts to earn a lottery draft slot.
Williams has impressed this year with one of the draft’s most versatile skills sets. He’s young for a junior and looks like he will fit in a lot of different NBA systems.
Like Little, Reddish has significant leg work to do in draft season to prove his Duke performance wasn’t the whole story. His benching in the Michigan State game was not a good look.
Porter’s second ACL tear puts his entire career in jeopardy, but I can’t in good faith drop him below where I had Harry Giles in 2017, given that Porter seems like a better NBA fit. He needs the right front office and rehab team, but Jontay is still salvageable.
SG, Virginia Tech
Alexander-Walker’s scoring explosion in his sophomore year has put him back on draft radars. He’s still probably too thin to translate as a scorer, but his off-movement shooting is promising.
The demarcation between tier 4 and 5 represents the end of the players I feel confident will have good shots at becoming rotation guys and the more risky tier. After Bitadze, I am not confident any of the players below make a second contract with their draft team.
Kevin Porter Jr
Another member of this draft’s surprisingly deep “So the college season wasn’t helpful, time to prove how actually good you are” class.
Doumbouya is an athletic energy big who is showing development as a ball-handler for Limoges in Eurocup. Since coming back from injury, he has been more aggressive, which is good to see.
Another member of the deep role-playing wing class, Thybulle is a havoc play machine that’s a major disruptor despite playing 2-3 zone. Everything points to him being a solid defensive wing in the NBA.
Thybulle showing jumper improvement is vital to his draft stock. He should be in tier four, but his shooting holds everything back.
“What is Keldon Johnson good at?” is the hardest question to answer in the draft class.
PG, St. Johns
Ponds has established himself as an elite shooter, but questions about his finishing ability linger over his draft stock.
C, Utah State
Queta’s incredibly raw, but his rim protection skills are surprising and he has the foundation of a strong face-up big. His athleticism almost guarantees that he’ll be an NBA player.
This is a public plea for Queta to test the waters and declare. He probably won’t, but he could probably earn a first-round selection if he does.
SF, Maccabi Tel Aviv
Zoosman thrilled at the U20 European Championships, and has been strong for Maccabi Tel Aviv early on. He’s older, but could some day be an NBA level defender at the three.
Brazdeikis has emerged as a killer scorer for Michigan as a freshman. The Canadian wiing doesn’t have great athleticism, but his two-way play should make him a good bet to be a rotation wing.
Brazdeikis and Zoosman, the “International forward with high-level skills and low-level athleticism” tier.
SG, Lietuvos Rytas
He might weigh 170 pounds soaking wet, but his skill set is very advanced for being 18 years old. The Lithuanian shooter will definitely be in the sights of NBA teams wanting to draft-and-stash.
SF, Ole Miss
Davis is a solid off-movement shooter and on-ball defender at the three. Improved off-ball defense will be his ticket to sticking at the NBA level.
It’s not a high ceiling, but Gafford appears ready to be an NBA-level rim runner and interior defender, and fortunately for him that should go far in this class. However, his effort level this year has been dismal.
Starting center on the “So the college season wasn’t helpful, time to prove how actually good you are” team.
As always, the last tier on the board is about 45 players deep. There are 10-15 guys who could be on here as potential second-round picks in addition to the names listed below.
SG, Penn State
Okeke had a massive end to the season before tearing his ACL in the NCAA tournament. He’s a terrific defender and athlete, and even with the ACL tear, should be in the mix for a first round pick.
Okeke was a huge riser through the conference tournament and NCAA Tournament, despite tearing his ACL. He’s a versatile defender with shooting upside, and his skill set is still worth a draft pick despite the injury.
A massive four with ball-handling skill and great footwork, Reid needs to prove defensive viability to survive at the next level.
Okpala has good athleticism and is scoring with good numbers. He’s not quick, but could be a strong bench four in the NBA..
Naz Reid and K.Z. Okpala, the “I wish you were just five percent more fluid” tier.
Claxton has an impressive package of raw traits: Length, agility, passing vision, finishing, and shooting. With development he has a shot to be a steal in this area of the draft.
SG, Iowa State
Horton-Tucker’s massive 7-foot wingspan makes him an intriguing defensive prospect, and his offensive game may eventually reach an NBA level as well.
Nick Claxton and Talen Horton-Tucker, the “Draft Twitter darlings I’m not totally sold on” tier.
C, Western Kentucky
Bassey is essentially mini-Bol: He wows with his rebounding and efficiency at times, but most of the time looks extremely raw.
Jerome has proven to be a great off-ball shooter and defender, but he needs more on ball skill to survive at his size in the NBA.
A solid shooter and off-ball defender, Johnson looks like a rotation player if his athleticism can translate to the NBA level.
Teske is one of the best defenders in college basketball. It may not translate, but he has good hands on offense and has proven to be switchable.
Cam Johnson, Ty Jerome, and Jon Teske, the “I wish I could put your brain in Nassir Little’s body” tier.
Paschall’s three-point shooting is a genuine plus, and he does a lot of things well, but the question is if he does anything else at an NBA level.
PF, Mississippi State
Holman’s rebounding makes him a nice prospect by itself, and he shows enough versatility to hint at becoming more.
Hachimura is a skilled rebounder and wows with his athleticism, and is getting lottery hype. But he’s also perhaps the worst positional defender among this year’s upperclassmen prospects, which significantly hinders his upside.
Johnson is a tall point guard with a lot of enticing potential, but he’s incredibly raw.
Johnson probably won’t declare in favor of being a potential lottery pick next year.
Roby projects as a weakside rim protector and pick-and-pop big with some handling ability. He’s one of the few second round prospects with star upside this year if he can refine his game further.
PF, Kansas State
Wade’s perimeter defense is a rare find in this class, and he’s a decent shooter, too. With development, he could be a solid find later in the draft.
Dosunmu has been promising on defense, but his raw offensive performance likely indicates he’s not ready yet.
Tillie has lottery talent, but strength has always been an issue, and now there’s the potential for his foot injury to significantly bother him. Is he durable enough to play the five in the NBA?
Poole is a creative guard with a strong reputation as a shooter. He needs to improve consistency and decision making to stick.
A terrific shooter who plays bigger than his size, Windler is a nice upside play for a team looking for a bench shooting wing.
The best off-movement shooter in college basketball, Magee has flashed enough skill to make you believe that he can survive as an NBA rotation player.
SF, New Balance
Bazley wasn’t super promising before he decided to forego college and train for the draft. Now, he’s the draft’s biggest mystery, both in terms of development and how teams rate him.
SG, Georgia State
Simonds is one of the better athletes in college basketball, and shows some potential as a secondary creator. He’s a dark horse lottery talent if he improves as a shooter.
Schofield’s combination of physicality and agility make him a very strong defensive prospect, and his passing improvement makes him an enticing development project.
Fernando has a great NBA body, flashes as a passer, and presence as a shot-blocker. But he’s older and still raw as a decision-maker, which is a tough sell.
SG, Fort Wayne
Konchar is hulking strong, grades out well statistically, and might be headed towards shooting on volume. He’s a project but a worthwhile one.
It’s cliche, but feel for the game is Oni’s avenue into the NBA Draft. Coupled with his frame, there’s a good case that he’s a bench four at the NBA level, or at least a dominant Euroleague four.
PF, Florida State
Kabengele is raw like many in this second round, but his energy and strength set his baseline as a bench energy guy with the potential for skill development.
Herro can shoot it and improved drastically as a defender this year, but it’s worrisome how rarely he got to the rim.
King’s improvement as the season wound down gives hope that he can look even stronger once he’s further out from his knee injury.