NBA, NBA Draft, NBA Draft Scouting Reports

The Step Back Final 2019 NBA Draft Big Board

And now, the end is near.

The 2019 NBA Draft is days away, and that means it’s time to wrap up our final prospect rankings before they are slotted on to their new teams. This class has been the most difficult to evaluate of the four I have covered somewhat seriously, as weighing a weak group of freshmen up against an unspectacular but effective upperclassmen crop quickly created a big board that definitely broke from traditional understandings of what to value in the NBA Draft. The emergence of Zion Williamson as a clear number one pick certainly helped, but there is little in the way of consensus upon which to build your expectations off of with this group.

That said, there is a group of players I feel good about heading into Thursday, especially when it comes to them coming into ideal situations. At the top of the draft, Jarrett Culver and R.J. Barrett look to have some upside as primary creators, and there are going to be some quality starters coming out of this group, with interesting cases like Brandon Clarke and Grant Williams joining traditionally unspectacular but valuable complementary players like Coby White and Jaxson Hayes. The specialist class this year is also fairly solid, with players like Cam Johnson and Matisse Thybulle coming in with NBA-ready skill sets in certain areas that could become very strong in certain settings.

Just like last year, landing spots will likely make or break pretty much everyone outside of the lottery-projected prospects, so post-draft rankings will be coming, factoring in team fit for every player drafted. But for now, based off what we know, here are our final 2019 NBA Draft prospect rankings, split into five tiers across 60 players.

Tier 1 — Franchise Changing Talent

Zion Williamson

PF, Duke

Offensive Role: Face-up big with pick-and-roll upside, transition finisher
Defensive Role: Weakside rim protector
Scouting Report.

There’s not much more we can say about Zion Williamson that hasn’t already been said. He’s the future of the New Orleans Pelicans before the present even comes to a close, and New Orleans will be tasked with building a team around Zion in the aftermath of the Anthony Davis trade. The gap between Williamson and the rest of his draft class is the biggest since at least 2012, and it’s been comical to even suggest that someone else might be number one since the college basketball season ended.

Williamson probably won’t be a world-beater right away. He’ll wow immediately with his athleticism and finishing touch, but he probably needs too much improvement as a shooter and ball-handler to make him an effective focal point. That may separate him from his peers in the elite class of prospects, like Karl-Anthony Towns and Ben Simmons, early on. But at a baseline, he has talent in each of those areas, and he’s a gifted passer for his skill set. As he continues to grow, his athleticism will likely make his skill growth exponential, as any small ball-handling improvement will make him that much quicker going towards the rim and any threat to shoot will open up the rest of his game. And any worries about his defensive position will likely be overcome by that athleticism and instincts, which allow him to project towards becoming a frightening free safety approaching what peak LeBron James was in Miami.

Williamson isn’t a guaranteed star, but he’s the safest bet by a country mile in a weak class to get there. I’m not on board with the idea of him being the best prospect ever, but he’s firmly in the elite class, and there’s a monumental drop off between him and the second tier.

Tier 2 — Quality starters with All-Star upside

R.J. Barrett

SF, Duke

Offensive Role: Secondary initiator

Defensive Role: Two-position point of attack defender

Scouting report.

Barrett is the only player other than Zion I’m comfortable projecting as a potentially valuable initiator in this class. He carried a massive usage for Duke, and performed pretty well from an initiation perspective for most of the year, even if he dealt with tunnel vision and freezing out teammates at times. He figures to be benefitted by the increased spacing of the NBA, especially from the vantage point of his passing ability, which is a huge avenue to increased value for him. He has also demonstrated positive steps towards getting stronger, which will help him improve as a finisher. Barrett will need these things to become a quality NBA initiator, but he has an achievable path to get there.

The issues for Barrett are on the defensive end, where he has some stretches of absolutely baffling decision-making and apathy, and his only legitimate strength is as a defensive rebounder. He had some typical freshman lapses off-ball, but his performance was closer to that of a college high-volume point guard than that of a player who is likely to be asked to be a two-way wing at the NBA level. He can become passable on that end, of course, and his path there likely hinges on improving strength and footwork and becoming a useful point of attack defender.

Barrett certainly looks the part of a primary scorer, and his numbers in college do support that. But he has some limitations that prevent him from being the same type of easily projectible prospect that Zion is. The likelihood is that Barrett is probably not going to bust, but he’s not likely to reach his ceiling either, and will probably settle in as a secondary creator that’s the second or third best player on a good team. And that may be where he’s best suited, too.

Jarrett Culver

SF, Texas Tech

Offensive Role: Secondary initiator
Defensive Role: Versatile
Scouting Report

Culver probably is more likely to be a useful rotation player on a good team than Barrett, but his upside is a lot more tenuous. Culver’s value as a switchable team defender who can defend up to the four and communicates well, coupled with his passing and finishing ability, should find him a role in the NBA pretty easily even if his shooting never really solidifies. That’s likely to be a more impactful player than Barrett, who will be able to eat possessions early on, but may not have the value towards winning that Culver would be able to have as a functional wing. Culver also definitely does have reasonable upside as a creator, as he showed enough as a pull-up shooter and dribbler to demonstrate that he could even surpass Barrett eventually as an on-ball scorer.

But that handle is pretty shaky still, and he doesn’t appear to have the comfort level with creation necessary to make that transition smoothly to the NBA. He definitely will need to transition into being a complementary player first, and then the hope will be that eventually he can add enough components to his game to continue to take on responsibilities. That takes long-term projection, and it’s nearly impossible to predict that type of growth progression confidently. So while Culver is probably almost certainly the second-most likely player to become a competent starter-level player in the draft class, Barrett inches ahead of him for me because he more comfortably projects to that on-ball scoring role that’s pretty valuable in the NBA.

Tier 3 — Shots at quality starters and slim chance potential stars

Coby White


Offensive Role: Lead ball-handler
Defensive Role: Two-position on-ball defender
Scouting report

The case for Coby White as the best point guard prospect in the 2019 NBA Draft class:

1. He is the biggest of the group of himself, Darius Garland, and Ja Morant, and while he doesn’t have a particularly impressive wingspan, he also projects to be the best finisher thanks to his ball control and better frame.

2. White is incredibly underrated in terms of his ability to control his momentum in the open court, which will help him become a more effective pull-up shooter at the NBA level. He is ahead of Morant in that regard, and while Garland is slightly better, it’s closer than White is getting credit for, especially factoring in White’s ability to change his shot release depending on how open he is.

3. White didn’t play much point guard at the high school level, and is commonly referred to as a combo guard because of this. But with the comfort level he showed as a passer playing as more of a pure one in the North Carolina offense, he probably has a much higher ceiling than he’s getting credit for in terms of his ability to manage an offense.

4. He’s probably the only point guard in the draft class that has shown any hint of defensive value at the next level, thanks to his frame and ability to mirror opponents on the perimeter. He has the best shot at not necessitating hiding against playoff offenses.

White doesn’t have the ceiling of Morant and Garland, but I’m not confident that the ceiling for those two is as high as the consensus seems to be, as we’ll discuss shortly. White feels like the safest bet at becoming a top-15 point guard in the league, and while that may peak at being the 12th best at the position, that outcome feels more likely than the loftier outcomes being thrown around for the other two.

Brandon Clarke

PF, Gonzaga

Offensive role: Face-up big, short-roll passer
Defensive role: Rim protector, switch defender
Scouting Report

Clarke doesn’t have the prototypical body of an effective 5, but his combination of athleticism and instincts is easily projectable to being an impactful defender at the NBA level. Clarke uses his wingspan and timing as well as anyone to block shots, and he is the best pick-and-roll defender in the class thanks to his footwork and ability to switch onto guards. He likely will be played as a 4 defensively due to his size, but he can probably be schemed into being a useful rim protector from that spot anyway, and his versatility across multiple positions should make him an option in a variety of different lineups.

The offensive end is where many have their reservations about Clarke, but he does have latent upside here despite being 22 years old, similar to Malcolm Brogdon’s offensive improvements in the NBA. That upside hinges on his shooting, which has been completely remade since his freshman season at San Jose State, and there’s probably a good reason to project him being able to shoot from mid-range, which will make his face-up game even more valuable. Clarke already has good court vision and handling ability, and his transition from a midpost game at Gonzaga into being an effective short roll decision-maker in the pick-and-roll should be pretty simple. He’s also the second-best finisher in the class behind Zion Williamson, and his touch should help him translate into this role as well. Clarke gets treated like he’s a complete zero on offense, but he has a fairly projectible role as a 5 on offense, who can play next to a shooting five on offense and help cover for that type of player on defense. That’s a player I bet on to translate into being a useful player at the NBA level.

Ja Morant

PG, Murray State

Offensive Role: Lead Guard, driving scorer
Defensive Role: Hidden by scheme
Scouting report.

As discussed in the scouting report above, Morant’s lack of effective decision-making in halfcourt offensive situations is something that is going to plague him at the next level. Early on, Morant is likely going to mirror the rookie seasons of similar players like Dennis Smith Jr. and Collin Sexton. Morant is more talented than Sexton, and it’s an argument of Morant vs. Smith (I take Smith as a finisher and scorer but Morant as a passer), but that similar struggle with managing an offense and figuring out when to defer and how to set up open shots down the chain from initial actions is going to take some figuring out.

Morant has a lot of talent, but his ability to apply that talent effectively is the biggest question mark in the draft class. He showed potential as a finisher and pull-up shooter at the college level, but his ability to finish with his frame against NBA athletes is a major question mark, and he hasn’t shown the same ability to create effective shots off the dribble that White and Garland have. He is the best passer in the draft class, especially in transition, but he is probably going to need to make significant jumps in strength and shooting touch in order to fully weaponize his passing ability in the halfcourt.

Morant is definitely the most athletic and talented point guard in this draft class, but he’s far from the most functional point guard. He’s going to get chances to develop those necessary skills, but he’s far from the sure future star that he’s being billed as. There’s a high likelihood that he becomes the type of disappointing lead guard that Brandon Jennings was, and Smith Jr. appears likely to become, and that’s not someone I’d be super excited to hitch my star to with the players above Morant on the board.

De’Andre Hunter

PF, Virginia

Hunter is a 3-and-D player, which isn’t super palatable in the top-10, but he appears to be a pretty effective player for that role. He has great size and footwork on the perimeter defensively, and does a great job closing out on shooters and denying a path to the lane. Offensively, he projects to be a pretty decent spot-up shooter and cutter and should project to be able to do so on volume, even if he didn’t get those opportunities at Virginia.

Hunter is projected to have a pretty safe floor, and you can pick apart how that may not be the case — his shooting is probably a little more limited than its getting credit for, and his steal and block rates at Virginia were concerning for a player with the reputation Hunter has as a defender. He does have to make improvements to become the type of player he’s being billed as, and he’s probably not as plug-and-play as he’s being billed. But the odds he becomes a capable complementary player at the NBA level are probably still rather high.

Grant Williams

SF, Tennessee

Offensive Role: Elbow passer, Spot-up shooter
Defensive Role: Versatile
Scouting Report.

My colleague Jackson Frank made the argument for Williams as a top-10 prospect above, and I obliged him with my own decision to place Williams here despite him likely going at the end of the first round on June 20. Williams, like Clarke, is a player who looks like they’ll easily translate into some role in the league, but his reputation has been limited due to size and shooting constraints. And while Clarke’s athleticism and instincts are what will push him past those supposed limitations, Williams will rely on his strength and ability to process what’s happening on the floor quickly. Role selection will be important for Williams, because if he’s allowed the license to create on the short roll and from the elbow (It’s blasphemy, but think Draymond Green), he should be able to be a lot more valuable on offense than if he’s just treated as an accessory spot-up shooter (Think Jae Crowder in Cleveland). Defensively, he projects to be a 4 that can contain on the perimeter and tango with bigger centers on the block, and while he’s not as mobile as Clarke, he’s probably similarly switchable thanks to his strength.

Williams and Clarke are both probably the smartest players in the draft class, and both should be able to find success in any role they’re given thanks to their ability to make good decisions. But Clarke’s NBA role is a little more clear than Williams’s is, and that’s why Grant is lagging a little bit behind where I have Clarke.

Jaxson Hayes

C, Texas

Hayes is going to probably take development, particularly in terms of adding enough strength to be able to bang with the Andre Drummonds and Jusuf Nurkic’s of the world. But he has an easily translatable role in the NBA as a pick-and-roll finisher and defender, and he hits a lot of the benchmarks of being a modern NBA center, outside of rebounding. He also might have enough passing and shooting value to potentially become more than just a Rudy Gobert type on offense, and he appears to be a late bloomer physically. It’s probably going to be a few years before Hayes is playable at the NBA level, but he looks safe to eventually become a useful starting 5 down the line in the NBA.

Bol Bol

C, Oregon

Offensive Role: Floor-spacing big, spot-up shooter
Defensive Role: Weakside rim protector
Scouting Report.

A complete enigma in terms of projection confidence. A navicular fracture, absurdly thin frame, and poor defensive instincts all stand to potentially undo a 7-foot-7 wingspan, great touch as a finisher, and potentially the best shooting skill set in the draft class. In the right setting, Bol might be the next unicorn big, a rim protector who can also be an elite spot-up weapon from the 5. But he also might be out of the league before his rookie deal is up, due to injury or inability to stay on the floor defensively.

The reason Bol is here at 10, is that in the right setting, there are likely ways to overcome his thinness and poor feel on the defensive end. A smart team could play Bol in zone-like defensive sets as an off-ball free safety, using his length to have him handle specific responsibilities within a tight space, and then play him as a wing on offense next to a bigger, athletic 3. Bol probably does have the shooting threat to make that work, and that’s the path to creating good value for him. To me, Bol’s margin for error is pretty high, and he might be the one player who is set up to overcome poor defensive instincts thanks to his absurd length and surprising mobility.

Darius Garland

PG, Vanderbilt

Offensive Role: Pull-up shooting lead ball-handler
Defensive Role: Hidden by scheme, transition ball-stopper
Scouting Report

Garland suffers from some of the same issues that Morant does, but they are more pronounced because he is a far less established playmaker for the rest of his teammates. A consistent theme of Garland’s career has been the disconnect between Garland’s performance and his overall team performance, and he struggles to elevate the play of those around him, even through shooting gravity. Now, Garland is probably going to be a useful scorer in the league, thanks to an advanced pull-up shooting game and perhaps the best handle in the class. But he doesn’t see the floor as effectively as even White does, and he figures to be the worst finisher of the three point guards thanks to his thin frame. Garland might be best served as being a microwave bench scorer, or playing off a tall distributor like Lonzo Ball in that type of specific team context. So while he might be the best pure scorer of anyone outside of R.J. Barrett in the draft class, I struggle to see him as having the same type of value that the players above him have.

Cameron Reddish

SG, Duke

Offensive Role: Volume spot-up shooter
Defensive Role: Four position switch defender
Scouting Report

Reddish isn’t a potential star ball-handler. He just isn’t. He struggles too much with tunnel vision to make optimal use of his passing touch, he is an extremely limited dribbler, and his finishing touch was probably the worst of any projected first-rounder of the last five years. Those are all red flags for him having any sort of on-ball playmaking role in the NBA, and may actually be bad enough that they could limit his ability to be productive in other roles, as well.

But if you imagine him as a 3-and-D type, he becomes a lot more palatable. Reddish has a functional shot that might allow him to become a volume shooter off movement, and his defensive potential is legitimately high, thanks to his size and the ability he showed to switch across multiple positions should make him highly versatile for the NBA level. Reddish has great hands and has shown the ability to be a decent ball-stopper as well. Buy-in from the front office and Reddish himself probably will influence Reddish’s outcome. If he is offered an off-ball role by his team, and he accepts that this is where he will provide the most value, he could still become a very productive NBA player. But the doubt around that buy-in is what puts him at the end of this tier.

P.J. Washington

SF/PF, Kentucky

Offensive Role: Switch Attacker, spot-up shooter, face-up big
Defensive Role: Off-ball defender
Scouting Report.

Washington is a lot like Reddish with a lower ceiling, but a much higher likelihood of making that buy-in. He played mostly as a traditional power forward at Kentucky, but his skill set is probably better suited to play as a big NBA wing, where his off-ball shooting, ball-handling ability, and post-game will be more functional against smaller, quicker defenders. Washington is certainly quick enough to play the 3, and while his footwork needs improvement, he should be able to defend wings as well. Washington seems well set up to be a functional role player at the 3 in the NBA, effective in certain mismatches and playing a complementary role. He just needs to land in a spot that will treat him as such to hit.

Romeo Langford

SG, Indiana

Offensive Role: Spot-Up shooter/slasher
Defensive Role: Wing on-ball defender
Scouting Report

Langford’s thumb injury may not have been the sole reason for his poor outside shooting this season, but it was probably somewhat the cause, especially mentally. If Langford shoots, he looks like a very useful two-way wing, scoring well on cuts and drives out of spot-ups, and providing some useful on-ball defense on the wing as well. He probably doesn’t have a ton of functional upside, but he might be the last player on the board with a high likelihood of being a two-way wing. That’s a valuable role, and deserves inclusion in this tier, even though he has that one major stumbling block in his shooting.

Goga Bitadze

C, Buducnost

Offensive Role: Short roll passer, pick-and-pop big
Defensive Role: Team defender
Scouting Report

Jokic lite. Bitadze is a brilliant passer and has a solid shooting foundation, and he makes good decisions on offense. Defensively, he’s not athletic enough to be a true rim protector, but he is strong enough to handle post duty, and he makes consistent help plays as a shot blocker that should make him a useful enough defender. He is a solid two-way center, and if he translates well athletically, he should be able to do so quickly because he’s the most skilled big in the class. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him near the top of the players in this tier within two years, but the transition to the NBA for average athletes from Europe can be a difficult one, so I am hedging against him having a rocky transition with this ranking.

Tier 4 — Specialists and extreme upside cases

Jontay Porter

C, Missouri

Offensive Role: Short-roll passer, pick-and-pop big
Defensive Role: Team Defender
Scouting Report

Porter is one of the biggest reasons this draft class is as weak as it is. He was ranked fourth on our board before he re-tore his ACL, because he has a similar game to Bitadze with more established shooting, a better handle, and better defensive decision-making. Now, we may never see Porter’s talents at the NBA level. But there’s still hope — if Harry Giles can play functionally after what he went through on his ACLs, anything’s possible. But Porter is going to be a long-term risk for whoever takes him, likely in the second round.

Nassir Little


Offensive Role: Isolation shot creator, slasher
Defensive Role: Two-position point of attack defender
Scouting Report.

Little fits both labels of this tier, as he does have a small window for upside thanks to his ability to create his own shot and his work ethic, but he’s more likely to be a situational wing, someone who can create shots for a bench unit and potentially act as a stopper. It’s hard to project much else from him, though, because he doesn’t seem to be able to read the game well on defense, and he doesn’t show enough as a passer or shooter to be a full-time shot creator at the next level.

Nickeil Alexander-Walker

SG, Virginia Tech

Offensive Role: Secondary ball-handler
Defensive Role: Two-position on-ball defender
Scouting Report.

Alexander-Walker is a little limited, but he seems like a capable third guard, able to dribble and hit some advanced passes, and then provide some off-ball shooting next to the primary initiator. Frame questions probably limit him from ever becoming a starter-caliber player, but there’s an easy bench role for Alexander-Walker if he continues to improve as a shot creator.

Sekou Doumbouya

PF, Limoges

Offensive Role: Slasher
Defensive Role: Back line help defender

Doumbouya is the weird combination of a player who has matured physically but is still incredibly raw from a skill perspective. He is another player who absolutely needs to shoot to have ideal value in the NBA, and there’s plenty of reason for skepticism that this can happen due to his mechanics. If he can harness his athleticism, he could be another upside play as a 3 that is an elite cutter and versatile defender with rim protection upside. But like Little, that’s going to take a good while to achieve.

Matisse Thybulle

SG, Washington

Offensive Role: Spot-up Shooter
Defensive Role: Stopper

The best perimeter defender in the class, Thybulle has great instincts and was a destructive force on the perimeter at the top of Washington’s 2-3 zone. He should be able to transition well to NBA help defense from that role, where he can use his length and reaction time to blow up pick-and-rolls and plays off screens. Offensively, he’s probably an Andre Roberson variant, but he does have some hope of shooting. He’s a pure specialist on defense, but he’s pretty special as that one thing.

Cam Johnson


Offensive Role: Off-movement shooter
Defensive Role: Team defender

The best shooter in the draft. Johnson is the foil for Thybulle, a very versatile shooter who offers solid gravity off screens and potential as a pick-and-pop weapon. He also has a prayer of being a good defensive player, although he’s a little too stiff and ground-bound to project to be good on that end. He’s below Thybulle because I’m less confident in his defense than I am that Thybulle will improve as a shooter. Johnson tested well athletically at the combine, but not well enough to instill a ton of confidence here.

Talen Horton-Tucker

SG, Iowa State

Offensive Role: Secondary Ball-Handler
Defensive Role: Versatile

Horton-Tucker is an upside swing due to his length, strength, and vision combination on offense. He isn’t much of a shooting prospect, but he is a high-level finisher already and compliments that with some interesting passing skill. Horton-Tucker is probably another player who is going to take a lot of development time to get where he needs to be, but he has a reasonably high ceiling, even if determining what that ceiling is may be a little difficult due to his unique 6-foot-4 frame.

Kevin Porter Jr


Offensive Role: Bench Gunner
Defensive Role: One-position on-ball defender
Scouting Report

Porter will be higher on a lot of boards because of his athleticism and shot-making potential, but character concerns and the fact that he didn’t elevate his team’s offensive performance when he was on the court may just mean he’s another Nick Young/Jordan Crawford variant. The idea of Porter is likely to be more appealing than the reality of Porter, so he’ll stick around for awhile, but I have a low confidence that he’ll be much more than an effective bench gunner if he does stick.

Nick Claxton

PF, Georgia

Offensive Role: Pick-and-roll finisher
Defensive Role: Space defender

Another upside play, Claxton may be able to be a pretty good pick-and-roll defender at the NBA level that offers some handling ability at the 5. How well he’s able to improve as a finisher and shot blocker, and whether or not he’s able to carve out a rotation spot in a crowded league at the 5, will determine how much of that ceiling he’s able to achieve.

Terence Davis

SF, Ole Miss

Offensive Role: Secondary ball-handler
Defensive Role: Team defender
Scouting Report

A great functional athlete, Davis offers two-way potential as a transition handler and communicative defensive wing. He probably won’t be a high-level player at either, but he’s probably good enough to stick in the league.

Chuma Okeke

PF, Auburn

Offensive Role: Slasher
Defensive Role: Versatile

Okeke will miss most of next year with an ACL tear, which is what drops him into this tier from the one above. He has been a steady riser for me throughout the draft process despite the injury because his defensive versatility should make him an asset at the next level if he can get healthy.

Keldon Johnson

SF, Kentucky

Offensive Role: Spot-up shooter
Defensive Role: Two-position off-ball defender
Scouting Report

Much like Porter, the idea of Johnson is probably much more than the reality of Johnson, an undersized 3 who isn’t a confident ball-handler and isn’t a good enough shooter or defender to be relied upon at this juncture. Again, he has some upside thanks to his athleticism, but he’s probably not likely to be more than a bench player.

Yovel Zoosman

SF, Maccabi Tel Aviv

Offensive Role: Slasher/transition finisher
Defensive Role: Versatile

A solid, if unspectacular prospect, the 20-year old from Israel looks like he’ll be a useful switching defender at the NBA level thanks to his defensive technique and athleticism. Finding a role for him on the offensive end is probably going to be the challenge.

Daniel Gafford

C, Arkansas

Offensive Role:Dive man
Defensive Role: Rim protector

Gafford has justifiably not gotten much love after a subpar Combine coupled with a sophomore season spent on autopilot. But he’s still an athletic, long big who is a solid finisher and mobile shot blocker, and that type of player finds a roster spot on draft night. Gafford will be afforded opportunities to stick, even if he ends up not being that valuable.

Ty Jerome

SG, Virginia

Offensive Role: Off-movement shooter
Defensive Role: Point of attack defender

While he may not be athletic enough to stick in much more than a low rotation spot, Jerome is skilled enough to provide value in certain contexts. His ability to mirror ball-handlers on defense and use his momentum to create space on offense makes him a more functional athlete than his raw numbers indicate, and he’s a good decision-maker on both ends, and even if he doesn’t dribble well, he can find ways to contribute if he lands in the right spot.

Eric Paschall

PF, Villanova

Offensive Role: Pick-and-pop big
Defensive Role: Two-position off-ball defender

A big winner from combine weekend, Paschall moves up for me due to measuring at a much more projectible weight and wingspan to play the 4, as he’s a much better fit at that spot than as a tweener type. He’s not the shooter that Cam Johnson is, but he has a good shot to become a useful pick-and-pop big man even if he’s still a bit undersized.

Dylan Windler

SF, Belmont

Offensive Role: Floor spacer
Defensive Role: One-position off-ball defender

Another decent shooting prospect, Windler playing bigger than his size is a plus, given his thin frame. I’m not sold on his shot diversity or ability to defend well at the NBA level, but he can probably offer someone something as a tall shooter with some athleticism and rebounding ability.

Tier 5 — The Rest

This tier encompasses the rest of the Big Board, and represents players who I consider G-Leaguers, fringe players, or potentially useful international players. At least a few of these players will find some sort of role in the league, but they’re here because even projecting them to a situational role in the league with confidence is difficult due to their flaws. Everyone after Bruno Fernando is pretty much interchangeable, and rankings after that have been loosely grouped into similar player types for easier discussion.

Ignas Brazdeikis

SF, Michigan

Offensive Role: Slasher
Defensive Role: Team Defender

Brazdeikis’s role at Michigan is probably very similar to what he’ll do in the NBA — bench scoring option who doesn’t create for himself, but rarely makes mistakes and capitalizes off the opportunities presented to him. If he had better athleticism he would probably have a higher ceiling, but he probably is a guy best served in a very situational role or as a starting-caliber overseas player.

Josh Reaves

SG, Penn State

Offensive Role: Floor spacer
Defensive Role: Point of attack defender
Scouting Report

A solid point of attack defender with possible switchability, Reaves still needs to find a functional offensive role to be able to survive at the next level.

Shamorie Ponds

PG, St. Johns

Offensive Role: Bench lead ball-handler
Defensive Role: Hidden by scheme
Scouting Report.

Ponds is a good passer, but he doesn’t project as a consistent shooter or finisher, and his defense is mostly bad. He’s this year’s, “Veteran playmaker that will go in the early second round and get some run for a season or two” following in the footsteps of Jalen Brunson and Frank Mason.

Deividas Sirvydis

SG, Lietuvos Rytas

Offensive Role: Floor spacer, slasher
Defensive Role: Two-position off-ball defender

A fine draft-and-stash option. Sirvydis probably needs to continue to add significant strength to be used optimally as a 3, and I don’t know that he’s a good enough shooter or decision-maker to really be all that exciting as a potential floor spacer.

Bruno Fernando

C, Maryland

Offensive Role: Post-up big
Defensive Role: Rim protector/post defender

A perfectly fine big man prospect by the standards of 15 years ago. Fernando needs to transition his game into a more modern role on both ends, and I don’t know that he has the acceleration or hands to be an efficient rim runner or defender in space. He has a specific role as a post bruiser, but it’s extremely difficult to find teams willing to commit to that type of offense.

Isaiah Roby

PF, Nebraska

Offensive Role: Face-up big
Defensive Role: Baseline defender

Rui Hachimura

PF, Gonzaga

Offensive Role: Post-up big
Defensive Role: Possibly hidden by scheme
Scouting Report

Dean Wade

PF, Kansas State

Offensive Role: Pick-and-pop big
Defensive Role: Space defender

Mfiondu Kabengele

PF, Florida State

Offensive Role: Dive man
Defensive Role: Rebounder/weakside rim protector

Four bigs who rate similarly as athletic talents with significant drawbacks. Roby probably has the highest ceiling as an explosive athlete who has hints of shooting and passing ability, but he still doesn’t totally understand basic reads and demands on both ends. Hachimura might be the worst defensive prospect in this draft class and has an antiquated skill set at the 4 despite a good frame and mobility. Wade has a projectible skill set as a stretch 4, but has to overcome multiple foot injuries. And Kabengele, who is certainly the best defender of the four, counters that by being a disappointing finisher for his size, a non-shooter, and a non-passer. All four project to need significant development at the next level, and even then, we’re probably talking about a ceiling as a situational big man, the most over-saturated role in the league.

Fletcher Magee

SG, Wofford

Offensive Role: Off-screens shooter
Defender Role: Hidden by scheme
Scouting Report

Carsen Edwards

PG, Purdue

Offensive Role: Lead ball-handler
Defensive Role: Hidden by scheme

Two legitimately terrifying college shooters that probably have a small scope with which to apply that skill. Magee probably has to be launched off screens to be effective, while Edwards probably needs to be given a large usage rate to make the most of his pull-up shooting. It’s not clear that either is good enough to warrant that focus, especially on defense, but Magee’s utility as an off-ball shooter probably pushes him ahead here.

Jaylen Nowell

SG, Washington

Offensive Role: Secondary ball-handler
Defensive Role: One-position off-ball defender.

Jordan Poole

SG, Michigan

Offensive Role: Secondary Ball-handler
Defensive Role: Point of attack defender

D’Marcus Simonds

SG, Georgia State

Offensive Role: Transition finisher
Defensive Role: Two-position off-ball defender

DaQuan Jeffries

SF, Tulsa

Darius Bazley

SF, New Balance

Offensive Role: Spot-up shooter
Defensive Role: Two-position off-ball defender

K.Z. Okpala

PF, Stanford

Offensive Role: Face-up big
Defensive Role: Two-position off-ball defender
Scouting Report.

Miye Oni

PF, Yale

Offensive Role: Face-up big
Defensive Role: Three-position off-ball defender

This group of seven players is the wings I would target in the second round, who offer projectible roles to fit into at the NBA level. Nowell is probably the best ball-handler and off-ball shooter of the bunch. Poole is the best pull-up shooter. Jeffries is the best athlete, while Okpala has the best frame. Bazley might be the most projectable of the group, though, because his potential fit as a floor-spacing big wing. However, the lack of film on him makes him a complicated evaluation that’s hard to project past this spot. Most of these guys will likely be one-dimensional at best at the NBA level outside of him, though.

Luka Samanic

PF, Union Olimpija

Offensive Role: Pick-and-pop big
Defensive Role: Post defender

Naz Reid


Offensive Role: Face-up big/Pick-and-pop Big
Defensive Role: Post defender

Louis King

PF, Oregon

Offensive Role: Spot-up shooter
Defensive Role: Team defender

Admiral Schofield

PF, Tennessee

Offensive Role: Spot-up shooter
Defensive Role: Switch defender

The “This guy’s best skill is size” tier. Reid and Samanic are both perimeter oriented bigs with good size who don’t have the athleticism or instincts to cut it as full-time 5s on the defensive end, and have very big confounding factors (Samanic’s transition from barely playing in European leagues, Reid’s 14 percent body fat) towards hitting at the NBA level. King and Schofield are the wing versions of this, with King’s length and Schofield’s muscle lending to a belief that they can be good modern wings, but both lack the skill play to really get there.

Chris Clemons

PG, Campbell

Offensive Role: Lead ball-handler
Defensive Role: Not hideable by scheme

Tyler Herro

SG, Kentucky

Offensive Role: Spot-up shooter
Defensive Role: Hidden by scheme

A wing with a negative wingspan who shot 53 percent at the rim in the halfcourt, and scored a majority of his 3s in transition and from stationary spot-ups, is being hailed as a top-20 pick. Herro isn’t an athlete, and doesn’t really have the ancillary skills necessary to be a workable spot-up weapon, much less an elite one. I have a very difficult time seeing him even stick in the league past a rookie contract.

Jalen Lecque

SG, Brewster Academy

Offensive Role: Transition finisher
Defensive Role: Undetermined

A gifted athlete who is pretty raw everywhere outside of finishing. He may just be Hamidou Diallo, but Diallo probably goes pretty high in this year’s class.

Josh Obiesie

SG, Wurzburg

Offensive Role: Secondary ball-handler
Defensive Role: Two-position point of attack defender

Zach Norvell

SG, Gonzaga

Offensive Role: Spot-up shooter
Defensive Role: Hidden by scheme

William McDowell-White

SG, Baunach

Offensive Role: Transition ball-handler
Defensive Role: two-position off-ball defender

And finally, 15 names that are pretty much interchangeable with the players on the above list, who might make interesting summer league invites or G-League options.

Jarrell Brantley, PF, College of Charleston
Adam Mokoka, SF, Mega Bemax
Sagaba Konate, C, West Virginia
Jordan Bone, PG, Tennessee
Luguentz Dort, SG, Arizona State
Cody Martin, PG, Nevada
Simi Shittu, C, Vanderbilt
Jalen McDaniels, PF, San Diego State
Amir Hinton, SG, Shaw
Armoni Brooks, PG, Houston
John Konchar, SG, Fort Wayne
Charles Matthews, SG, Michigan
Justin Robinson, PG, Virginia Tech
Tremont Waters, PG, LSU
Dedric Lawson, PF, Kansas

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