Draft Predictions Retrospective


The draft is super hard to predict. Over my 6 years of blogging about the draft, I have made some good predictions and some bad ones. The predictions that sting me the most are the ones where I went too far pushing a “hot take.” The idea was nothing was at stake anyway, and if a contrarian opinion proves accurate, being more aggressive makes it look better in retrospect.

What I learned is that it’s extremely difficult to predict the next 15 years for a 19 year old kid. I have been wrong so many times, it now seems pointless to ever make any bold proclamations. It only makes my analysis less accurate, since more bold statements = more opportunities to be wrong. All I can do is look at the available information, assess the various possibilities for each prospect, and make an attempt at estimating their value.

The best thing I ever wrote questioned if Luka Doncic was the best prospect ever. The best part about the writeup is that I didn’t make any definitive statements, I merely presented facts and asked questions in an attempt to interpret it. The questions have since proved to be relevant, so I will focus on keeping that tone going forward

Anyhow, just for fun I will go back and review my year by year predictions since we have it all on record:


This was my first year where I put the most effort, and also by far my best year. I was highly bearish on Jabari Parker and Andrew Wiggins as the top 2 picks.

I correctly rated Joel Embiid as the #1 overall pick, with Dante Exum, Aaron Gordon, and Marcus Smart rounding out the top 4. Some people may say Dante Exum at #2 looks bad in retrospect, but seeing that Embiid is the only real star at the top of the draft I don’t feel badly about it. I likely should have placed him at #4 below Smart and Gordon but this was a relatively minor miss for a shot at a mystery box.

I also correctly rated non-lotto bigs Jusuf Nurkic and Clint Capela above Parker + Wiggins at #5 and #6, which felt insane to do at the time yet somehow worked out.

I also had Nikola Jokic and Spencer Dinwiddie as 2nd round steals at #16 and #17 respectively.

I also had a few misses. Tyler Ennis piqued my interest but #9 was far too high for him. And while I feel I raised valid concerns about Julius Randle (#23), Zach LaVine (#35), and Rodney Hood (#57), I ranked all of them too low. But then after watching summer league, I actually noted that these were all of my opinions I felt worst about.

This was the season where I watched by far the most basketball both pre-draft and summer league, and really committed myself to understanding as much as possible. In retrospect I think my analysis was about as good as possible, and I may not ever analyze a draft this well again.


This draft I gave much less effort than 2014 and it shows. I was far too low on Kristaps Porzingis (#12), Myles Turner (#20), Devin Booker (#22), and Terry Rozier (#50).

I also was sky high on Justise Winslow which hasn’t fully worked out, nor has it been a disaster. I ranked him #3 on my big board, and in the article I said I thought he was a better prospect than Jahlil Okafor and Emmanuel Mudiay which has proved to be accurate. But he also hasn’t nearly lived up to the massive potential I saw in him.

The bright side of this season was the only other player I wrote about: Josh Richardson. When he wasn’t even on the top 100 of anybody’s rankings, I wrote about how he was the hidden gem of the draft and ranked him #30.

I also had Larry Nance and Norman Powell as possible second round steals ranking them #32 and #33 respectively when they were getting relatively little attention (Nance going #27 was a big surprise). At least finding a few late steals somewhat salvaged this draft.


This year was an unmitigated disaster. I had Ingram > Simmons, which is starting to look defensible, but Simmons is still the better talent and player and was the obvious #1.

I had Dragan Bender #3 which I don’t fully regret with such other few interesting options available, but I was too nevertheless too high based on a tiny sample of FIBA when he was 16.

Most notably I ranked Jamal Murray #12 and Buddy Hield #24 which is just awful considering how many terrible players I ranked ahead of them including #6 Deyonta Davis and #8 Timothe Luwawu. I was putting pretty low thought into my rankings, and in fairness I updated shortly after the draft to make all of these drastically more sane.

I did have a couple of decent ideas in the mix, with Dejounte Murray at #13 and Fred VanVleet #42 as a couple of later steals. But I don’t think this does much to salvage a bad overall ranking where I got too many things wrong.


I was far too high on Lonzo Ball. I would still rank him #1 in retrospect because his strengths were so attractive, but I was far too dismissive of his flaws and downside risk.

I was also pretty high on most of the rest of the top 7. Fultz has flopped for somewhat unpredictable reasons– who could have known he was such a headcase? But then other than that Tatum, Fox, Isaac, and Markkanen all look pretty good while Josh Jackson has flopped.

I was correctly bearish on Dennis Smith Jr and ranked him #10, below OG Anunoby who I had #9. I had Donovan Mitchell #11 and I should have had him above DSJ.

Jarrett Allen at #27 was a small mistake and Bam at #28 was a big mistake.

This wasn’t my worst draft year, but it wasn’t my best either.


This draft was so close to being good! I had my famous article on Luka, was bullish on Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and had Josh Okogie and Kevin Huerter as solid 1st round picks when they weren’t in the consensus top 40.

But then I ruined it with too many hot takes. I still believe Trae Young is highly overrated and is not a player that I would want to build an NBA team around, but it’s clear that he has enough unique talent to be worth a top 10 pick. I went overboard on slandering him by ranking him 15th.

I also massively overhyped Jaren Jackson Jr. He was obviously the correct #2 prospect, and still is a very good one, but I made him 1b to Luka’s 1a which looks really bad in retrospect. I did ponder if he had GOAT upside, and frankly I don’t think it was a totally insane question. But he was so much less proven than Luka at the time, I really analyzed him through an excessively optimistic lens.

Also Zhaire Smith at #5 is a horrible take. I thought it was a good idea to gamble on athleticism, but he obviously had some big question marks that I glazed over too lightly.

Mikal Bridges at #18 was maybe a few slots too low. But I don’t feel too badly about this bc he still isn’t that exciting. We’ll see how he develops over the next few years.

I did correctly rate Jerome Robinson (#58) over Michael Porter Jr. (#9) as a horrific pick, and I had Gary Trent (#27) as a solid round 2 sleeper. I was too low on Mitchell Robinson, however, having him at #34.

Ultimately I feel that my analysis for this draft started off well, but I ended up taking too many unnecessary positions that were against the grain just to be different. I’d rate my analysis this draft collectively as OK, but nothing special.


I didn’t even do a full writeup for this one because I didn’t feel like it. And it’s too early to say much about this draft with so much left to unfold, but so far my rankings look pretty good.

I was a huge bull on Ja Morant and PJ Washington. So far PJ looks like a one of the more solid guys outside of the top 2, and Ja looks like a future star.

It’s still too much to say about Ja, but I would still bet quite a bit that he goes on to have a better NBA career than Trae Young.

I was very low on DeAndre Hunter (#29) and Darius Garland (#19) who appear to be huge mistakes as top 5 picks.

And I had Terence Davis #39, which looks good for a UDFA.

I seem to have have underrated Cam Johnson at #38.

Other than that I didn’t have any strong opinions and we need more time to let things unfold. But I feel that I took fewer unnecessary bold positions than normal and overall I did a pretty decent job this year.


I have had ups and downs at predictions. I have had some good ideas that led to good predictions, and some slightly less good ideas that led to bad predictions.

I don’t know if I will ever replicate my 2014 performance where I was intently watching every top prospect in both NCAA and summer league.  You can really get to know a prospect by watching a player repeatedly in a number of situations.

Since then I haven’t been watching as much, but I still believe there is enough available information to make decent broad strokes predictions between stats, scouting reports, youtube videos, etc.

My goal moving forward will be to be wrong as infrequently as possible. While it’s impossible to be right about everything, it’s easy to not be wrong by simply not taking firm positions when the answer is uncertain. I will still inevitably miss the mark plenty of times, but but by being more humble about the limits of my prediction capabilities the misses should grow to be less frequent and less severe over time.

Let’s see how the next 6 years compare to the first 6!

2020 NBA Draft: Who Should Go #1?

This year’s draft is exceptionally weak at the top. There is no real prize that should go #1 in an average draft. Rather there’s a cluster of players who should typically go in the #3 to #8 range. In my opinion there are 4 players in the class that could reasonably considered for #1 overall this year.

4. LaMelo Ball, 6’7″ PG


Lonzo’s younger brother is a tricky one to solve, because he has such a small sample of statistical performance against any known competition.

Their father Lavar says that LaMelo is the best prospect of his children, as he has more natural scoring abilities than Lonzo. Also he is 1″ taller, and may be slightly more strong and athletic.

Lonzo has been a significant disappointment relative to expectations, as he crushed statistical models with his freshman performance at UCLA. I personally believed he was a future star, but instead he looks like a quality young role player whose unique strengths make him useful, but his significant flaws limit his value.

How LaMelo’s basketball IQ precisely compares to Lonzo is unclear, but he does rack up similar triple double statistics and have a similar propensity for full court assists. It’s plausible that he is a slightly rich man’s version of his brother with less pronounced flaws, which could make the difference between being a quality role player and a star.

But there is also significant downside. Lonzo was much more statistically proven pre-draft, as he elevated a UCLA team to massively outperform their talent level by stuffing the statsheet even better than LaMelo, as he had slightly more steals, significantly more blocks, and a much better eFG 66.8% vs 44.6%.

Lonzo also did this over a larger sample of 1263 minutes vs 407 minutes vs LaMelo, against a more known level of competition playing in the Pac-12 that is also likely tougher than professional Australian basketball.

LaMelo has a similarly broken shooting form to Lonzo, and given his poor Australian shooting there’s no clear evidence he is going to be notably better as a scorer than Lonzo. And there’s no clear evidence that his basketball IQ is on Lonzo’s level, as he was an extreme outlier in that regard.

LaMelo compounds his lower steal and block rates with a reputation for indifference on defense that Lonzo didn’t have. One of the main reasons why Lonzo has been useful in the NBA is because of his defense, and there is no assurance that LaMelo will match his performance given his current mentality on that end.

It’s difficult to do a perfect comparison between the brothers because LaMelo has just 13 games in a league that isn’t quite the same as NCAA, but they share a similarly weird mold. But I would say that Lonzo has the meatier profile with outlier good efficiency, defense, and proven performance vs known competition whereas Melo’s slight physical and ball handling advantages aren’t as clear or significant.

There’s a sliver of star potential for Melo, but more likely is he going to be similar to or worse than Lonzo since there’s no clear proof that he either has the remedy for Lonzo’s weaknesses or matches his strengths. And if the statistically superior Ball already disappointed us once, why buy the hype on a slightly different and likely worse version?

It’s easy to see what a better ball handling version of Lonzo would be worth a #1 overall pick, but the bust risk is far too significant to be worth chasing that sliver of upside in the top 3, even in a weak draft.

3. Anthony Edwards, 6’5″ SG Georgia


Edwards is a young shooting guard who just turned 19 on August 5 and offers a bit of everything.

He has a good frame and athleticism, and solid 6’9″ wingspan. He is capable of creating a high volume of shots, as he can get to the rim, takes a high volume of 3’s, and makes 77% of his free throws. He only shot 29.4% from 3, but given his youth, FT%, and 3PA rate it’s easy to see him shooting much better than that long term.

Other than that, he’s just OK. He has some passing ability, but isn’t a natural point guard or decision maker. He also has a competent level of rebounds and blocks, but nothing that suggests defensive star.

And while his physical profile is good, his dimensions are a bit small for a wing and his athleticism is very good but not elite.

Edwards doesn’t have any single glaring flaw, but he is ordinary in a few too many categories to be an exciting #1 pick. His closest NBA comp is fellow Georgia alum Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.

It’s not a thrilling comparison for #3 overall, but KCP was likely underdrafted at #8 in the similarly weak 2013 draft, and he hasn’t improved much from age 22. If Edwards happens to have a better development trajectory, he could be a good player and perhaps a fringe all-star.

But he could also develop worse as he is very young and raw, and his median outcome is at best slightly better than KCP.

Edwards is the most bland player with the least interesting upside in consideration for #1. And there is some argument that Ball should go ahead of him. But I am giving him the edge over LaMelo because he has a thicker sample of statistical competence and doesn’t have the glaring disappointment of a highly similar brother on his resume.

2. James Wiseman, 7’0″, C


Wiseman has similar evaluation challenges as LaMelo, as both are weird prospects with thin samples of statistical goodness.

In fact, Wiseman looks like he belongs nowhere near the top 3 based on his biggest statistical sample from AAU, where he posted poor rebound, steal, and assist:TOV ratios for such a highly touted prospect.

But he has exceptional physical tools, as he is 7’0″ with 7’5″ wingspan, and excellent frame and agility for a big man. Further, he complements this with excellent intangibles. He learned to speak Mandarin at his private school, which indicates some level of off court intelligence.

Having turned 19 in March, he is the prototype for a player capable of massive improvements. And he showed huge improvements in the glimpses we have seen since high school.

It started at the Hoop Summit, where he posted 12 points, 8 rebounds, 6 blocks on 6/8 FG in 22 minutes and looked far better than expected based on his AAU sample.

He continued the trend in his 3 game NCAA sample where he played like a clear #1 overall pick, and he almost certainly improved significantly from his AAU self.

Most notably over the 4 games he went from a poor rebounder to a beast on the glass. And he was a highly effective finisher who avoided turnovers, and made a respectable 22/32 FT (69%) between the four games. If he can finish inside, develop an outside shot, protect the rim, hold his own on switches, and be a solid rebounder, that sums to quite the useful player.

But even after including the Hoop Summit, this sample is only 91 minutes with 47 of those minutes coming against two terrible low major teams. It’s difficult to say precisely how much he improved. He would have significantly regressed over a larger sample against better teams, and nobody knows how good he really is since there is such a wide range of performance between his AAU and Hoop Summit + NCAA samples.

He still had just 1 assist and 1 steal in his 91 minutes between NCAA and Hoop Summit, so he likely has some vision/instincts flaws. And we still cannot take his rebounding for granted, and seems to have some level of motor issues as well as an unproven shot. So there’s a clear downside risk in Wiseman with so many unanswered questions.

But he has a highly useful mold, and will be good if his blanks are filled in adequately. Taking Wiseman top 2 overall is a big gamble with such limited sample of statistical goodness, but it is also a sane gamble given his intersection of physical tools, intangibles, and improvement from high school to college. He needs a number of things to go right for his upside to hit, but so does everybody else in this draft.

In spite of the risks that come with Wiseman, I rank him above Ball and Edwards simply because he has a fatter upside tail. All 3 guys have clear downside and underwhelming median outcomes for top 3 candidates, so thickest upside tail wins.

1. Onyeka Okongwu, 6’9″ PF/C


Okongwu’s NBA role is difficult to discern, as he is an undersized  center in a league moving away from bigs, but he brings quite a bit to the table.

He has good physical tools with a 7’2″ wingspan and good athleticism and agility. This gives him the versatility to defend multiple positions.

He used his physical gifts well as an NCAA freshman, posting 1.6 steals and 3.5 blocks per 40 while anchoring Andy Enfield’s best defense ever.

In 7 seasons of USC and 2 at Florida Gulf Coast, Enfield prior best defense ranked 84th in 2P% and 80th overall. This was until Okongwu anchored the #18 defense with #7 defensive 2P%.

Okongwu had the assistance of a couple of decent bigs, but he posted 50% of the team’s total blocks while also being a close 3rd in steals. He was the clear heart and soul of the defense, and deserves significant credit for USC’s big defensive leap.

He was also excellent offensively in spite of being surrounded by inefficient players with limited creation ability. USC posted a dreadful 0.86 points per possession with Okongwu off the floor. The team was sorely lacking in offensive talent and would have had a dismal season without Onyeka.

With him on the floor, they posted a respectable 0.98 points/possession, as he led the team in usage and was by far the most efficient player on the roster. He is an excellent finisher, scoring 62.1% inside the arc while rebounding well offensively cleaning up 12.4% of his team’s misses.

He only shot 1/4 from beyond the arc, but his 72% FT offers hope of being able to develop a jumper long term as he is still only 19.

And he showed traces of passing ability with 1.4 assists vs 2.6 turnovers per 40. This isn’t a great assist:TOV, but for a 19 year old big in a dreadful offense it is decent enough.

From most angles, Okongwu looks like a promising prospect. He is a versatile and impactful defensive player as well as an efficient offensive player with a decent baseline of skills to build on. The only lingering question is: what is his NBA role?

The answer depends on how he develops in the NBA. But we consistently see tweener bigs with good length and ability to guard multiple positions as draft steals: Bam Adebayo, Pascal Siakam, Draymond Green, Paul Millsap, Robert Covington. Questions about his NBA role will quickly evaporate if he fulfills his potential.

Okongwu at worst should be a useful defensive player who is an efficient garbageman offensively. At best he develops his shooting and perimeter skill and becomes a two way star with elite defensive impact and versatility. It’s a favorable range of outcomes, and there is no clear reason why he should not succeed.

Considering the myriad warts, questionable upside, and limited proof of statistical goodness of the other prospects at the top of the draft, it’s hard to see how any of them belong above Okongwu. He has the physical tools, he has by far the best numbers, he fits a modern mold, and he doesn’t have any major warts that impede his path to greatness.

He is currently slated to go just 6th overall on ESPN, but if he slides that far there are decent odds that looks silly in retrospect. Everybody slated to go ahead of him has serious downside and probably less upside as well. Not even trying to drop a hot take here, Okongwu seems like the best prospect in the draft and unless I’m missing some major concern it seems somewhat obvious.

2020 Draft

This draft is brutally bad. Last year’s draft was bad, but this year is worse as there is no prospect near the level of Ja Morant, let alone Zion Williamson. And it’s not dense with interesting guys after the top either.

But it’s nevertheless an interesting challenge to dive in and see if there are a few hidden gems in the mix, so here’s my top 30:

1) Anthony Edwards, 6’5″ PG/SG Georgia

Edwards’ most exciting point is his youth, as he doesn’t turn 19 until August after the draft.

He most closely reminisces of Markelle Fultz and D’Angelo Russell, as a 6’5″ point guard with excellent pull up jump shooting ability.

Granted, his passing skills are not fully developed at this stage, and he may be more similar to another ex-Georgia player Kentavious Caldwell-Pope if they don’t develop over time.

But he is young, toolsy, and good at multiple things, and if he improves his game at a good rate, he could be what NBA teams hoped Fultz and Russell could have been.

He is far from a guarantee to be good, which makes him weaker than the typical #1 overall. But he at least has a strong upside tail in the event that he does become good, which makes him the clear #1 choice right now.

2) LaMelo Ball, 6’7″ PG Illawara

LaMelo is difficult to evaluate, as he is playing in a low tier professional league in Australia. But he seems highly similar to his brother Lonzo, as he is a big cerebral point guard with excellent passing vision and he struggles to score, as his shooting %’s in Australia are not good at all.

This makes him slippery to evaluate. Lonzo posted absolutely overpowered #’s at UCLA, yet seems to be on track to a good but not great NBA career as a funky role player.

LaMelo is reputed to be the better scorer of the two, which would give him potential to surpass Lonzo, but he hasn’t shown strong evidence of it thus far in Australia play. Ultimately, there is a concern that he is similar or worse to Lonzo which would be a disappointing use of #2 overall.

But with lack of other exciting options on the board, it’s worth taking another pull on a Lonzo type that may have just enough nuanced advantages to be a star.

3. James Wiseman, 7’1″ Memphis

Wiseman is arguably the toughest prospect in the draft to evaluate, as his AAU #’s conveyed some extremely scary red flags with poor rebounding, passing, and steal rates, with few prospects succeeding with such significant statistical flags.

But he is young, toolsy, and has reportedly excellent intangibles, and seems to be improving at a fast rate. He had an excellent Hoop Summit, and so far his 3 game NCAA sample has lived up to the hype.

Right now we need to see more from him to have an idea of how much is genuine improvement vs good games at the right times, but for now he slides in as the default #3 overall.

4. Tyrese Haliburton, 6’5″ Iowa State

Haliburton is a weirdo prospect, as he reminisces of the long lost Ball brother.

He has some pretty big warts, as he is rail thin, and his shooting ability is a big question mark, as is his general scoring ability as he posted a paltry 10% usage rate as a freshman.

But he seems vastly improved as a sophomore, and in 5 games against major conference teams he is posted a 23.4% usg with a hyperefficient 131 ORtg. The possibility of him having developed an ability to score off the dribble is enticing, as it gives him a sneaky sliver of star potential.

More likely he will be a Delon Wright type, which is useful but often overlooked. But probably useful and possibly great isn’t a bad type to target outside the top 3.

5. Patrick Williams, 6’8″ Florida St.

Williams has been the most pleasant surprise in the freshman class, as he is a prototypical NBA 3 + D wing at 6’8″ with good strength and athleticism.

He is also super young, as he doesn’t turn 19 until August after the draft.

It still remains to be seen precisely how well he can shoot, and his rebounding has been underwhelming considering his size, but he has posted well rounded production for a player who is that young and in such a good mold.

6. Isaac Okoro, 6’6″ Auburn

Okoro is in the same category as Pat Williams, as young, pretty good, and great mold. He isn’t quite as exciting as Williams, as he is 2″ shorter and 6.5 months older. But he’s the type of player that if he pans out he will be very useful to have around.

7. Nico Mannion, 6’3″ Arizona

Nico is a tricky one, as PG’s like him can be extremely boom or bust. He has 0 blocks on the year and anemic rebound rates, calling into attention his sorely limited physical tools. But he has been an offensive stud, and Arizona’s offense has been great with him on the floor, and it’s hard to not see similarities between him and Steve Nash.

Of course the odds that he becomes Nash are not too high, and most of the time he will be something along the lines of DJ Augustin, which make it difficult to get too excited over him. But that sliver of elite upside is worth a significant boost to his value, and cannot be overlooked just because it feels too optimistic.

8. Cole Anthony, 6’3″ North Carolina

Cole has been a massive massive disappointment thus far, as he has essentially been a brick and turnover machine, making just 38% of his 2PA with more turnovers than assists.

This is especially damning as he is sophomore aged, will be 20 on draft night, and is merely a good but not great athlete.

There is still time for his shot to start falling, but he’s not a true PG and just isn’t in an exciting mold. Right now he is looking very similar to Jeff Teague, which isn’t the type of player you want to target with a top 5 pick.

Of course he could still be better than Teague, and his median outcome may be slightly better than Mannion, but it’s hard to see him having as big of an upside tail as Nico which is why I rank him one slot lower.

9. RJ Hampton, 6’5″ NZ Breakers
10. Deni Avdija 6’8″ Maccabi
11. Killian Hayes 6’5″ Ulm

Because the NCAA class is so weak, it would be a decent thought to target internationals, but they are fairly boring this year as well.

RJ is 6’5″ and does a bit of everything. So far his New Zealand performance hasn’t been particularly exciting or damning, so it makes sense to stash him somewhere in the back end of the lottery and move on.

Deni is 6’8″ and does a bit of everything, except his shot is broken and he doesn’t excel at any one thing. So he has some appeal but not too much. Another international who belongs somewhere in the back end of the lottery.

Hayes is a 6’5″ jack of all trades PG, but lacks the athleticism or one elite skill to have great upside.

12. Jaden McDaniels 6’9″ Washington

Jaden is the Cam Reddish/Kevin Knox of the draft where is he probably bad, but in an awesome mold of mobile 6’9″ guy with perimeter skills. So at a certain point you gotta stomach the likely badness and take him just in case he develops into a Khris Middleton or Paul George type.

13. Onyeka Okongwu 6’9″ USC

Okongwu has shown loads of appeal out of nowhere, as an athletic big man who can rebound, finish, block shots, and has made a solid 71% of his free throws thus far.

But it remains to be seen whether he can produce vs top tier opponents. In his 3 games vs tougher opponents, he has struggled badly, with an 88 ORtg on 22.6 usg compared to his excellent overall #’s of 122 Ortg on 25.4 usg.

He is only 6’9″ and a good but not elite athlete, so he needs to produce more against quality opponents to be truly exciting. But he does so many things well and appears to have velcro on his hands, his intrigue cannot be ignored. If he can translate his goodness to quality opponents, he becomes super interesting.

14. Tre Jones 6’3″ Duke

It seems wrong to have a boring game manager with little upside in the lottery, but Tre is extremely likely to be useful and that’s worth something.

He is similar to his brother Tyus with more defense and less shooting. It’s difficult to discern his fate from Tyus career, as Tyus showed great potential in years 2 + 3 and hasn’t been as good since.

But Tyus has shown enough potential such that it is difficult to justify a similar player slipping too far in the draft. And Tre does have sneaky upside, as any critique that can be made toward him could have also been made toward John Stockton pre-draft. It’s not that likely, and the risk that he is a worse shooting version of Tyus takes away appeal, but it’s worth noting before writing him off.

15. Vernon Carey 6’10” Duke

Vernon Carey is a dinosaur big man who is a beast in the low post, and is going obsolete by modern NBA standards. But he can play, and at this juncture the draft is running thin on guys who fit that qualification.

And it’s worth noting that just because the game is currently shifted toward small ball, doesn’t mean that at some point it could shift back toward bigger lineups working. It’s not something to strongly expect, but an idea worth considering.

Anyhow Carey is strikingly similar to Jahlil Okafor, who was picked #3 overall by a highly intelligent team in 2015. It seems Okafor failed for reasons unrelated to talent, so if he slides due to unfairly getting equated to Okafor, he could be value.

16. Josh Green, 6’6″ Arizona

From one angle, Josh Green is the perfect NBA wing. He is 6’6″, athletic, and can do a bit of everything.

From another angle, he should ideally be an inch or two taller and he doesn’t really excel at anything, which makes him somewhat boring. There’s some concern he’s simply a more athletic Jacob Evans, which may be something but it’s not something exciting.

17. Devin Vassell, 6’7″ Florida St.

Vassell is 6’7″, he is still 19, and he can shoot and make plays defensively.

He still has a small sample of NCAA success, but he is one of the few capable wings in the draft, and with a strong sophomore performance could elevate himself to a lottery pick.

18. Reggie Perry, 6’9″ Mississippi St.

Perry is basically a slightly worse version of Wendell Carter Jr., which isn’t that exciting in an era where bigs are dying. But WCJ went #7 overall in a good draft and was a good pick at that slot, so it’s fair to say that any decent facsimile of him is a reasonable pick outside of the lottery.

19. Obi Toppin, 6’9″ Dayton

Obi is 6’9″, great at dunking, and has some vague hope of being able to shoot, which has the hype train going off the rails. His problem is that he is already 21 and not that good at basketball, and he plays with an elite PG in Jalen Crutcher where the whole team has been feasting on dunks for 3 seasons now.

He has some outs to be a Montrezl Harrell type, which is good but not the type of player you target in the lottery because you are more often going to end up with a Faried type who is a misfit in any modern NBA lineups. But it is enough upside to be worth a shot anywhere outside the lottery.

20. Trayce Jackson-Davis, 6’9″ Indiana

Dale Davis’s son is 6’9″ and plays very similar to his father, who was an excellent return on the #13 overall pick.

That being said, he is 2″ shorter which is fairly damning in an era where players like him are struggling to find a niche.

He’s another guy where the slippery question of being able to play vs fitting a poor mold is difficult to precisely assess.

21. Jordan Nwora, 6’9″ Louisville

Nwora is 6’7″, athletic, and can shoot, which means he probably belongs in the first round of the draft.

He has frustrating tunnel vision with his poor assist:TOV ratio not improving whatsoever thus far over his career at Louisville, which tempers his upside. If he were better in this regard he would be a lottery pick for sure.


22. Tyrese Maxey, 6’3″ Kentucky
23. Kira Lewis, 6’3″ Alabama
24. Devon Dotson, 6’3″ Kansas
25. Jared Butler, 6’3″ Baylor

I don’t really get where the Tyrese Maxey hype is coming from. He is a 6’3″ combo guard who isn’t great at anything, and doesn’t seem to have any sort of interesting upside.

Yes he was a top 10 recruit and Calipari sometimes suppresses the talent of his players. But Maxey seems to be in the Malik Monk + Brandon Knight mold of too one dimensional to be a good NBA player at 6’3″.

So just for fun, here’s a list of other guys who are more or less the same thing that will be available in the late first and early second round.

Jared Butler is somebody personally who I find to be interesting, as he is less of a creator and more of a 3 + D type a la Kirk Hinrich or Delonte West.

You rarely find contenders led by Brandon Knight, or even a rich man’s Knight such as Jeff Teague. But there are many contenders led by big wings who run the offense such as LeBron, Luka, Giannis, Ben Simmons. Jared Butler fits well in those situations, as he can defend PG’s without needing to play PG on offense.

26. Zeke Nnaji, 7’0″ Arizona

Nnaji has been incredibly efficient to start his career, but much of his production has come against poor teams, and he has posted some duds against major conference foes he has faced.

His #’s are collectively good enough to remain intriguing, but it’s worth fearing that he is nothing more than the TJ Leaf to Nico Mannion’s Lonzo Ball, and some team will get hustled by buying that the stats are real.

27. Jalen Smith, 6’10” Maryland

Smith is another somewhat misfit at PF, who is too good to not merit first round consideration.

28. Landers Nolley, 6’7″ Virginia Tech

Nolley is statistically frighteningly similar to Klay Thompson, and also shares the height of 6’7″

Also like Klay he is a below the rim athlete. But he may be even below-er the rim than Klay which prevents getting too excited over him as a sleeper, but maybe he has some funky advantages that enable him to succeed anyway.

29. Jahmius Ramsey, 6’4″ Texas Tech

Thus far Ramsey is looking like he is the prototypical 3 + D wing, except he is only 6’4″ which throws a bit of cold water on any excitement to be had over him.

30. Theo Maledon 6’5″ Villeurbane

Maledon has great size for a PG at 6’5″, and he’s young, but the downside is that he is currently bad at basketball and needs to improve a ton to be useful.

Anyhow, I would keep going but there are just not many more interesting guys to write about. This draft is thin from top to bottom.

How Good is Ja Morant?



Ja Morant has already been locked in as the #2 pick in the draft for the Grizzlies, as he was the consensus best prospect after Zion.

Morant emerged from obscurity with a monster sophomore year for Murray State. He showed promise as a hidden gem as a freshman, and elevated his game to a new level with monster scoring and assist numbers, as he is the first NCAA player to ever average 20 points and 10 assists per game. He complemented this with enough SportsCenter top 10 dunks to pass the smell test as an elite prospect.

What Makes Ja Special?

Morant has an intersection of athleticism and passing vision that is rarely seen. And most of the examples in his tier of elite at both did very well in the NBA: LeBron James, Chris Paul, John Wall, and Ben Simmons stand out as the only examples in recent memory.  Russell Westbrook is more athletic and eventually proved that he sees the floor, but his vision was a question mark coming out of UCLA. De’Aaron Fox is slightly behind in both.

Vision and athleticism are two high leverage qualities. The prospects who have both are extremely rare, and they tend to become great pros.

This is not to say that Ja will necessarily be as good as the aforementioned players. He has a slight frame at 6’3″ and his defense has plenty of room for improvement.  And while he is a solid shooter making 36% 3P and 81% FT as a 19 year old sophomore, there is some risk that he does not shoot well enough to excel as a little guy.

But given his monster strengths and no glaring weaknesses, he likely will be good and has upside to be a star.

Where Would He Go Last Year?


This is a more interesting discussion than this season, as below Zion and above everybody else is too wide of a range to say much about his value.

Last season there was a clear top 3 of Luka, JJJ, and Ayton who were all superior prospects. Ja would fit into the next tier of #4-10 with a big cluster of very good prospects. The most similar player to him in that cluster is Trae Young.

I ranked Trae #15 last year which was too over the top contrarian given his outlier strengths. In retrospect, #5-10 range was where he should have rightfully gone. Incidentally freshman Trae is a good comp for sophomore Ja, as they have similarly slight frames, monster offensive roles, and age (sophomore Ja is just 1 month older than freshman Trae):

Ja 36.2 115.8 51.9 8.6 2.2
Trae 38.5 112.1 48.5 5.8 0.7

They had near identical output offensively. Trae was a much better shooter, making more FT’s at 86% vs 81% and with over twice the 3PA rate. And he had the tougher schedule as the average defense he faced was 6.8 pts per 100 better than Ja’s opposition– not trivial, but not enough to put Ja’s #’s in the dumpster.

Ja’s overall offensive output was slightly better, so even once strength of schedule is factored in Trae’s offensive advantage isn’t better by a major margin. Morant in part compensates for his lesser shot by superior ability to get to the rim and finish.

Now let’s talk about the other areas where Ja is superior

  1. Physical profile. He is 1″ taller, 3″ longer, and much more athletic. This immediately shows in his superior rebounds and blocks
  2. Defense. Ja has a reputation for being a lackadaisical defensive player, but Trae’s freshman year defense was all time bad
  3. Translation to better competition. Trae slipped to 102.8 ORTG in 15 games top 50 kenpom competition, Ja hardly missed a beat with 113.8 ORTG in his 5 games against the top 50. Better athletes are safer to translate up.
  4. Team impact– even though Morant’s Murray State had a much weaker cast + preseason expectation, they finished with nearly identical kenpom rankings.
  5. As a freshman, Morant played efficiently next to a ball dominant fringe prospect in Jonathan Stark. This means he can likely pair well with ball dominant NBA stars, which is still a question mark for Trae.

Collectively, these advantages are very significant. As exciting as Trae’s shooting was, Morant is a decent shooter himself and his superior physical tools, team success, translatability, and defense clearly weigh heavier.

Given all of this, I found this poll surprising:

Draft twitter hasn’t truly embraced Morant the way they embraced Trae, even though it’s difficult to come up with any objective analysis where Trae rates better strictly based on pre-draft info. You would have to place an irrational premium on shooting to rate Trae higher.

Some people believe strength of schedule also boosts Trae’s profile, but this is incorrect. Ja performed better against top defenses, and elite athletes tend to have less risk of translating to better competition. Morant would have obviously been great for any major conference team.

Trae has improved his value with a good rookie year such that he now may be worth more than Morant. But based on pre-draft, Morant is clearly the better prospect.

I would have ranked Ja top 5 in last year’s loaded draft for sure, and probably #4 as his big upside is too tantalizing to pass.

Bottom Line

From every angle of analysis, there are loads of things to like about Morant and not much to dislike.

He is so young and unheralded prior to college, that it feels excessive to call him a guaranteed star. But it’s hard to imagine what his fail case would look like. Jeff Teague is a reasonable floor comp, and that is fairly pessimistic as Morant is a clearly better passer than Teague and there isn’t any area where Teague stands out as superior.

Morant will likely peak as an above average starter, and has clear star upside. There is nobody quite like him in the NBA. He doesn’t quite have Russell Westbrook’s athleticism, or Steve Nash’s craft + IQ, but he has a nice blend of both and it wouldn’t be surprising if he’s the mean average of both players.

Ultimately Morant has more downside than a typical #1 pick, but he is a solid #2 overall in most drafts. As much as it hurts to miss out on Zion, the Grizzlies are nevertheless walking away with a great consolation prize.

2019 Mid-Season Big Board


This draft is really terrible but nevertheless here are rankings. I’m excluding internationals, the only one who is likely worth a first rounder is Goga Bitadze. Sekou Doumbaya has hype but there is no reason to believe he is worth more than a round 2 flier.

Tier 1: Stud

1. Zion Williamson

Zion is a generational talent. It’s too bad he was not in the 2018 draft, because it would be fun to compare him to Luka, Jaren, and Ayton.

My low confidence take is I would put him just behind Luka and Jaren, but ahead of any other prospect since Anthony Davis. His weirdness makes him difficult to project, as he is like a wing version of Shaq, and may create NBA fit concerns that other generational prospects lack.

But those concerns are mild compared to his overwhelming talent, and he will still be 18 on draft night. There is a real chance that Zion is the future GOAT if his jump shot comes around and his bulky frame doesn’t cause issues playing on the perimeter.

Tier 2: Really Good Prospects


Tier 3: Pretty Good Prospects

2. Ja Morant

Morant is establishing himself as the clear #2 prospect in the draft playing like the Russell Westbrook of the OVC for Murray State. He has good PG size at 6’3″, excellent athleticism for highlight reel dunks, is a decent shooter, and is still freshman aged.

He also proved that he can play efficiently in a smaller role as a freshman, which is something that disappointing PG’s such as Cam Payne and Kris Dunn never showed.

3. RJ Barrett

RJ reminds me of DeMar DeRozan, which is really painfully unexciting player to target at #3. But there aren’t any glaringly better choices in this draft.

4. PJ Washington

This may seem like a hot take, but there is no such thing as a hot take in this draft. Everybody is so bad teams can reach for whoever they want and not worry about missing out on a stud.

PJ is fascinating because he had excellent AAU stats for a recruiting class where most 5* prospects were very good. He is in an interesting mold, where he has potential to thrive as either a big wing convert or an undersized big. And he plays for a coach who notoriously makes elite talent look ordinary.

Based just on his Kentucky production he is a fringe lottery pick, but everything else makes him one of the more attractive gambles in the draft.

5. Jontay Porter

Jontay is missing the year with a torn ACL and MCL but there is still a genuine case for him as the 2nd best prospect in the draft.

6. Bol Bol

I have no idea how to value Bol. He is one of the true weirdos, with major flaws and a foot injury to boot. But when everybody else is so bad, how low can you get on his rare combination of height and shooting?

7. Grant Williams
8. Jarrett Culver

This is an interesting comparison, as these prospects have similar dimensions and both of their offenses run through them. But Williams is anchoring Rick Barnes’ best offense ever, which includes many seasons where he had access to superior talent at Texas. And Culver is the leader of Chris Beard’s worst offense ever, including his season at Little Rock.

Granted Culver is 9 months younger and is more of a traditional wing, while Williams is an undersized big. But there is a real chance that Williams can convert to NBA wing, and it makes him one of more interesting gambles in the draft.

9. Romeo Langford

Romeo isn’t too exciting, but he has good tools and enough production to have a sliver of star potential if his shot comes around.

10. Dan Gafford

Gafford isn’t sexy in any one regard, but he has good tools, good stats, excellent on/off splits, and if his skill develops better than expected he has sneaky upside.

11. Keldon Johnson

For a 6’6″ athlete, Keldon has been curiously allergic to blocks with just 2 on the season. And nothing about his profile is particularly exciting, but nothing is that bad either outside of his lack of blocks.

It tends to be a good strategy to draft Calipari players who aren’t transparently broken, so Keldon is a fine lottery pick.

12. Shamorie Ponds

On average, it’s bad practice to draft 6’1 PG’s who are more shifty than explosive in the lottery. But this draft is so thin it’s acceptable to gamble.

He is a very good shooter, has an excellent assist:TOV, has more assists than steals, and sometimes small PG’s become surprisingly good. Shamorie has a sneaky good upside tail

13. Nickeil Alexander-Walker

NAW is only 6’5″ but has done everything well this year, which is good enough to place him lotto.

14. Kevin Porter Jr.

Porter has missed most of the season with injury first and suspension later, but he showed a bit of promise in the time he played. He had solid games vs Texas Tech and Vanderbilt, and as an athletic 6’6″ player his upside cannot be ruled out.

In all likelihood he is just as bad as all of the other freshmen, but having the glimmer of upside hope is enough to argue his place in the lottery.

15. Tre Jones

Tre will often end up like his brother Tyus– a quality backup PG who is undervalued and underappreciated by the rest of the league. And he may not even be that good, as he isn’t nearly as good of a shooter as Tyus. But he also has a bit more size and defensive upside, so he has his own form of sneaky upside.

16. Killian Tillie

Tillie missed Gonzaga’s tourney loss last year with a hip injury, and the first 2 months this year with an ankle injury. Durability is a concern, but in his first 5 games back he picked up where he left off as an excellent basketball player. He is a versatile 6’10” with enough switchability hope to have a case to be in the lottery.

17. Cam Reddish

Reddish has been BY FAR the most disappointing prospect in this draft.

He is 6’8″, racks up steals, and shoots a high volume of 3’s, so in theory he should be at worst a very good 3 + D prospect. But that’s what everybody said about Andrew Wiggins, and it’s hard to be a useful player if you insist on making frequent negative plays.

Cam’s offense has been flabbergastingly bad for a guy who is mostly asked to stand on the perimeter and launch 3’s while Zion and RJ run the show. He doesn’t get to the free throw line, he can’t make a shot inside the arc, and he has an insane turnover rate for a player who rarely attempts 2’s or FT’s.

For perspective, let’s compare his per 100 stats to a couple of past top 5 recruits who underwhelmed as freshmen: Jaylen Brown and Harrison Barnes

Cam 9.4 39.5% 6.3 3.7 6.4
Barnes 15.3 47.0% 6.3 2.7 3.7
Jaylen 17.2 48.2% 13.5 4.2 6.6

He shares Barnes avoidance of FT’s, but at the cost of much less scoring inside the arc and many more turnovers. He shares Jaylen’s turnover woes at the expense of much worse inside scoring and fewer FTA.

Like Cam, both had high recruiting pedigree which helped them perform better in the NBA than their NCAA stats suggested. Yet neither has been above average offensively in the NBA, and Cam is light years behind them at the same stage. It’s difficult to imagine him being anything other than a trainwreck offensively in the NBA.

Who really knows what is going on. Maybe this is a fluke of some sort and Cam figures it out with NBA coaching. But he was flagged for a lackadaisical personality entering the season, and it’s hard to have confidence that a prospect with shaky intangibles who fell THIS flat will do great things in the future.

And this doesn’t even touch on the fact that he rebounds like a point guard in spite of being 6’8″.

He reminisces of a worse Andrew Wiggins without elite athleticism. He partially compensates with a higher IQ, but he is clearly a weaker prospect overall.

It’s hard to give up entirely on height + IQ + shooting + steals + pedigree. Maybe there’s some scenario where he can turn into a Khris Middleton. But it’s hard to envision with such grotesque warts. It would be a major error for him to be taken top 5. At this stage, he looks like an overwhelmingly likely bust.

18. Tyler Herro

He plays for Calipari and he hasn’t been terrible. That makes him a serious prospect.

19. Ignas Brazdeikis

Iggy is a sophomore aged freshman who isn’t too athletic, but he has good wing height at 6’7″, and is a versatile scorer and defender. He fits a strong prototype for NBA wing, and could have a Michael Redd type career.

20. Jalen Smith
21. Bruno Fernando

Mark Turgeon is essentially John Calipari Jr, as he has a knack for recruiting very good talent and making it look ordinary. But Smith and Fernando have both been highly productive this year, leading what may be Turgeon’s best team ever. This is good reason to take them both seriously as sleeper big men.

22. Coby White

White is 6’5″ and has just enough intersection of passing and PG skill to be interesting.

23. Brandon Clarke

Clarke’s shot may be too broken to thrive as a pro, but he has intrigue as a 6’8″ versatile defensive stopper

24. Talen Horton-Tucker

THT is in an unfortunate mold of limited height for a wing without great shooting or primary creation, but he is one of the youngest prospects in the draft and is so well rounded that he could amount to something useful.

25. Jaxson Hayes

Hayes is an exceptional lob finisher, with a unique combination of explosiveness and fluidity and that’s about the only dimension he brings to the table.

He doesn’t rebound, he doesn’t pass, he isn’t good on defense, and it’s hard to see him being better than Javale McGee. He would need to develop his skill level quite a bit, which his 70% small sample FT% offers hope for, but in all likelihood he’s just a dime a dozen big.

26. Nassir Little

It’s not clear what Little’s role in the NBA would be. He seems intelligent in some ways, maybe he can develop into a Gerald Wallace type. But most of his hype has come from the McDonald’s All-American game, and he has been underwhelming for UNC.

He has been playing better recently, which offers a ray of hope. Let’s see if he can build on it.

27. Simi Shittu

Shittu has been disappointing, but he is 6’10”, athletic, had good AAU priors, and is coming off an ACL tear. It’s plausible that he is much better than he has shown thus far for Vanderbilt, and has sleeper potential because of it.

28. Ty Jerome

Jerome is sorely lacking in explosiveness, but he has exceptional IQ and awareness and moves well laterally to atone. His lack of athleticism hurts, but he is so otherwise good he has potential to be a very unique and good role player.

29. Cassius Winston
30. Darius Garland

Garland appears to be a SG in a PG body, which makes it difficult to justify the lottery hype. But he is athletic and can shoot and has just enough PG skill to not be written off entirely.

For perspective– Cassius Winston is similarly a knockdown shooter. He is less athletic and 1″ shorter, but is a wizard level passer.

Winston has much less hype, but there is an argument that his passing advantage is more significant than Garland’s physical advantages.

31. Ayo Dosunmu

Ayo is young and not transparently awful at basketball. Has some shades of Caris LeVert.

32. Charles Bassey

If Bassey’s exceptionally young age is taken at face value, he may belong in the top 5. But he moved from Nigeria to America at age 14, as a 6’10” and chiseled 14 year old, which makes his age difficult to buy. He is still a semi-interesting prospect regardless because he does a number of things well, but it’s hard to get too excited about him if he’s actually in the 20 to 22 age range.

33. Ethan Happ

Happ’s shot is almost certainly broken and he may not be quick enough to be a defensive stopper in the NBA. But he has a fascinating skill set for 6’10”, and at a certain point it’s worth gambling to see what happens.

34. Ashton Hagans

Hagans doesn’t bring much to the table other than a monster steal rate, but Calipari guards rarely have big steals and that alone is enough to make him a serious prospect and even merit round 1 consideration.

35. Charles Matthews

He is athletic enough to play for Calipari, smart enough to play for Beilein, and if he can just learn to shoot he should have an NBA career.

36. Chuma Okeke
37. Dedric Lawson
38. Naz Reid

These guys are all fine but nothing special

39. DeAndre Hunter

Hunter is one of the more puzzling hype trains of the year, as there is absolutely nothing sexy about him. He isn’t explosive, he isn’t a dynamic shot creator, he isn’t a knockdown shooter. He’s just a guy who has been effective role player for an elite team as a 21 year old sophomore.

The best case for him is that Tony Bennett prospects tend to overperform their pre-draft profile. Klay Thompson, Joe Harris, and Malcolm Brogdon are examples of good outcomes with Justin Anderson being the sole disappointment.

This may be because Bennett values lateral quickness, height, shooting, and IQ, which is a good formula for NBA role players even without much athleticism which is true for Klay, Harris, Brogdon, and Hunter.

But based on NCAA production, Hunter is way behind Klay + Justin Anderson, solidly behind Brogdon, and in the same tier as Joe Harris.

Harris is a decent role player, but he was a complete zero until he turned 26. That is not the type of upside to target in round 1, and there is no strong reason to believe Hunter follows a similar developmental arc.

My favorite upside comp for Hunter is Ryan Gomes. Gomes was barely good enough at everything to be an NBA rotation player, but epitomized mediocre filler because he lacked any notable strengths.

This is Hunter’s issue– he isn’t good at anything, and for a 21 year old non-athlete his upside is painfully capped. Sure he is fine flier in round 2 in case he becomes a Gomes type, but it would be a major error to target such a weak upside in the lottery.

40. John Konchar
41. Ky Bowman
42. Devon Dotson
43. Trent Forrest
44. Jordan Murphy

45. KZ Okpala
46. Kerwin Roach Jr.
47. Aric Holman
48. Jordan Poole
49. Kris Wilkes
50. Isaiah Roby

Trash Can

Rui Hachimura

Rui turns 21 in a few weeks, and he isn’t even a top 5 player on his own team. He has good tools and can score, but looks lost on the court fairly often and it’s hard to see him having any worthwhile impact as a pro. His upside is approximately Derrick Williams.

Best underclassmen unlikely to declare:

1. Tyrese Halibuton
2. AJ Lawson
3. Jalen Pickett

4. Tyler Bey
5. Jalen Crutcher
6. Andrew Newmbhard
7. Savion Flagg
8. Jahlil Tripp
9. Sincere Carry
10. Steffon Mitchell
11. DeJon Jarreau

2019 Draft Preview


, , ,


This preview excludes internationals, although I will note that I do not understand why Sekou Doumbaya has top 5 hype. At a glance he does not appear to deserve a first round selection.

Race for #1

If you want to scout the top of the draft, get used to watching Duke basketball as they have the 3 best tanking prizes in this year’s class. Along with Bol, it’s a close four way race for #1 with nobody clearly standing out above the rest at this moment.

1. Cameron Reddish
2. Zion Williamson
3. RJ Barrett
4. Bol Bol

Reddish is a 6’9″ point forward who is more cerebral than explosive and has Grant Hill upside.

Zion is a smooth, strong, and explosive slasher and is highly unique with a center frame and wing dimensions.

RJ Barrett has some winning gravity on his side with monster performances in wins vs team USA in both FIBA and the Hoop Summit. But with limited dimensions and shot making, he is in the DeMar DeRozan mold which makes him slightly less exciting than Reddish and Zion.

Bol Bol is the Deandre Ayton of the draft– uniquely talented with elite shooting and rim protection, but enigmatic with a lackadaisical attitude.

Regular Lottery Prospects
5. Jontay Porter

The top returning prospect, Jontay has an elite combination of size, passing, and shooting and is younger than most true freshmen. He has Draymond/Jokic potential and will inevitably get underrated for his doughy physique.

6. Simi Shittu

The most interesting freshman who isn’t getting lotto hype, Shittu has point forward potential

7. Keldon Johnson

Slightly undersized for a SF at 6’6″ with a 6’9″ wingspan, Johnson atones with good frame and athleticism and solid two way potential.

8. Ja Morant

Morant came out of nowhere to post a monster 18 year old freshman season for Murray State. He is an explosive 6’3″ PG who posted impressive rebound and assist:TOV rates in spite of his thin frame. Now he can leap into the lottery if he continues to improve and fill out physically as a sophomore.

9. Nassir Little

Currently ranked #2 at ESPN, Little is the freshman who is most clearly overrated. He has a great combination of length (7’1″ wingspan), explosiveness, and intellectual curiosity, but he simply has not performed well enough to justify top 5 hype at this stage as an inefficient 6’6″ wing.

He could develop into a Jaylen Brown type, but seems closer to Kelly Oubre at this stage.

10. Daniel Gafford
11. PJ Washington

A couple of obviously good returners. Gafford is an athletic big who offers defense, rebounding, and finishing.

PJ is an undersized PF who is athletic and well rounded enough to possibly be converted to wing. His talent was likely not maximized as a freshman but John Calipari’s poor coaching.

12. Tre Jones
13. Romeo Langford
14. Charles Bassey
15. Coby White
16. Quentin Grimes

The next tier of freshmen. Tre Jones is Tyus brother and similar in a number of ways as a  high IQ point guard. Tyus was massively underdrafted sliding to the late 1st, and Tre may share a similar fate.

Romeo Langford has excellent tools for a SG, but still needs to prove he can play.

Bassey is an athletic big who does athletic big man things

Coby is a shifty 6’5″ combo guard who figures to play point guard for UNC. Has sleeper potential if he runs the offense well, and it would be unsurprising if he turns out better than his much more hyped classmate Nassir Little.

Grimes figures to be a good college player with no clear NBA role, as he is an undersized 6’4″ SG with non-elite athleticism and shooting.

Ordinary Returners
17. Jarrett Culver
18. Killian Tillie
19. Isaiah Roby
20. Dedric Lawson
21. Ethan Happ
22. Aric Holman

Some of the strongest returners. I am higher than most on Happ who is a PF who has a broken shot but has sneaky upside as an incredibly cerebral passer and defensive player. And Holman is interesting as an athletic 3 + D big man who can finish lobs.

A few more freshmen
23. EJ Montgomery
24. Devon Dotson
25. Darius Bazley

Freshmen who could land on either side of upsidey prospect vs. pile of meh.

26. Ky Bowman

Ky is 6’1″ and still learning to play PG, but he is explosive, can shoot, and is cerebral enough to have a chance of figuring it out.

27. Ty Jerome

Jerome sorely lacks explosion but makes up for it with elite IQ, lateral movement, shooting, and passing to make for an intriguing 3 + D PG with good 6’5″ height.

28. Eric Williams Jr.

Williams is a shifty 6’6″ wing who does a bit of everything and rebounds exceptionally well for his size. He was a young freshman and has monster breakout upside as a sophomore.

29. Trent Forrest

At a glance Forrest appears to be a 6’5″ defensive specialist. But he showed sneaky point guard potential as a sophomore and has similarities to DeAnthony Melton. If he shows more offensive polish as a junior, his value will be pumped up quite a bit.

30. Charles Matthews

Athletic enough to play for John Calipari and smart enough to play for John Beilein, Matthews is an ideal role playing wing if he learns to shoot.

31. Saben Lee
32. Darius Garland

Vanderbilt’s pair of athletic PG’s. Garland has all of the hype (projected #9 ESPN), but Saben may be the better prospect. He a fairly young freshman and has big breakout potential as a sophomore. Garland is the better shooter but Lee is likely better at everything else.

33. Anfernee McLemore
34. Kris Wilkes
35. Oshae Brissett
36. Steffon Mitchell
37. DeAndre Hunter
38. Justice Sueing
39. Jalen McDaniels

Well rounded combo forwards abound here– all have first round potential with breakout seasons, but none of them assuredly deserve to be drafted.

McLemore is a monster shot blocker at 6’7″ who can shoot and had offers from Ivy League schools. His ball skills have a long way to go to fit in as an NBA wing, but if they come along he can be an excellent role player.

Hunter has the most hype but is the oldest of the bunch and does not have any special qualities to deserve lottery value.

Steffon Mitchell is the hidden gem of the group who can pump up his value with improved shooting and creation.

40. Jack Nunge
41. Dean Wade

Nunge and Wade are a pair of stretch 4’s who may move well enough to fit in NBA defenses. Nunge is particularly interesting as he has added bulk this offseason and at 6’11” has all sorts of unique upside.

42. D’Marcus Simonds
43. Shamorie Ponds
44. Xavier Sneed
45. Jahlil Tripp
46. Markis McDuffie
47. Jarrey Foster
48. Amir Coffey
49. Chris Clemons
50. Donta Hall
51. Keith Braxton
52. Cassius Winston
53. Tremont Waters
54. Tyler Cook
55. Andrew Jones
56. Bruno Fernando
57. Grant Williams
58. Quinton Rose
59. John Petty
60. Daejon Davis

This is the point of the board where there are about 100 names in a similar tier to choose from.

At 5’9″, Chris Clemons is in a tier of height where few have had successful NBA careers. Calvin Murphy, Isaiah Thomas, Muggsy Bogues, Spud Webb, Nate Robinson, and Earl Boykins make up the list of success stories, which is why Clemons cannot be taken in round 1. But he is an exceptional athlete and shooter, and appears to be a better version of Nate Robinson. Isaiah Thomas provided an excellent return after sliding to the last pick in the draft because of his height, and Clemons has clear potential to be similar or better.

Keith Braxton is a 6’4″ combo guard who has crazy rebound rates, can shoot, and is slippery at finding his way to the hoop. He will likely be overlooked playing for low major St. Francis and has his own brand of sneaky potential.

Just missed the cut: DeJon Jarreau, Sagaba Konate, Devon Daniels, Carsen Edwards, Zach Norvell Jr, Kenny Wooten, Terence Davis, Taveion Hollingsworth, Shakur Juiston, Vic Law


Rui Hachimura

Hachimura has great physical tools, but will turn 21 this season and be the 5th best player on Gonzaga at best. For some reason scouts want to compare him to Giannis even though he is a complete non-passer and 3″ shorter. He is worth a 2nd round pick with a big junior leap, but this hype train needs to cool down.

Herb Jones

Jones was an unmitigated disaster offensively as a freshman. There is no way that a wing who is that poor offensively should ever be drafted. There are at least 300 prospects better than him in this draft.

Jaylen Hoard

Hoard has first round hype as a big wing, but he is very old for the class and unlikely to deserve to be drafted.

Eric Paschall

People need to stop overhyping Villanova upperclassmen. Paschall is a great NCAA player but not a draftable prospect.

Nickeil Alexander-Walker

If you are wondering if he belongs in round 1, the answer lies in his initials: NAW. Although he has a fair case as a second rounder.

Under The Radar Freshmen to Watch

Andrew Nembhard

Nembhard isn’t that explosive or skilled at scoring, but he is a 6’5″ PG with elite vision and passing. The intersection of size and passing is a great place to seek upside

Daniel Oturu

Oturu is a 6’10” defensive oriented big man whose favorite player is Nikola Jokic.  His combination of size, defense, and passing can sum to a strong upside tail.

Pete Nance

Overachieving runs in the family, as his dad Larry and brother Larry Jr. both massively over performed their draft slot. Nance is 6’10” with an interesting base of skill and IQ. He’s a bit of a mystery box as he did not play for AAU, but his upside is monstrous.

Leaky Black

Black is similar to Theo Pinson, who could have become a good prospect if he developed better over his NCAA career. Even with no discernible improvement over four years he was still good enough to get a two way contract from Brooklyn.

Filip Petrusev

Gonzaga has done a terrific job of international scouting, and Petrusev may be another gem as he had an excellent summer playing FIBA u18 for Serbia’s gold medal team. He stuffed the stat sheet and made 80% of his FT’s as a 6’11” big.

Reggie Perry

Perry is a 6’8″ PF who offers a bit of everything, and if his skill level if more polished than expected could make for an ideal big wing.

Others: Darius Days, Talen Horton-Tucker, Khavon Moore, Mike DeVoe

2019 Draft Preview



Here’s my quick and dirty preview of next season (not including internationals). It looks like a relatively weak freshman class outside of Barrett, although there are some interesting weirdos and under-hyped returning players. There are also some fraudulent hype trains that I want to debunk so here we go:

1. RJ Barrett, 6’7″ SF, Duke

Barrett is the obvious #1 for this class, as he is the only prospect with clear star potential. He is a 6’7″ point forward who is smooth, explosive, and cerebral, and he has a pretty good track record of beating team USA in basketball.

He led Canada to a 99-87 victory at FIBA u19 weeks after turning 17, posting a monster 38/13/5 line with just 1 turnover.

Then in the 2018 Nike Hoop Summit, he led World team to a decisive 89-76 victory with 20/9/6/5 and just 2 turnovers. He had only one teammate projected in ESPN’s 2019 Mock (#19 Charles Bassey) vs team USA whose featuring 4 projected lotto picks and Tre Jones (who could go lotto).

Barrett’s one weakness is shooting. But he is so good otherwise it’s hard to see him failing because of this. Barrett is a unique player and it’s hard to find a perfect comp for him, but optimistically he will be a hybrid of Grant Hill, Andre Iguodala, and Penny Hardaway.

2. Jontay Porter 6’11” PF/C, Missouri

Jontay Porter won’t actually go #2 overall. He may not even go in the first round. But he is awesome and underrated because his combination of size, vision, IQ, and shooting is unprecedented. He may be the best player in the NCAA next year, and he will still be younger than plenty of true freshman.

I am ranking him this high because the freshman class doesn’t have any sure bets after Barrett, and at this juncture Jontay’s higher floor makes him overall more valuable

3. Nassir Little 6’6″ SF, North Carolina

Little is being hyped as the #2 guy to challenge Barrett. He is extremely athletic with a long 7’2″ wingspan and has potential to be highly disruptive on defense.

But he had a terrible AAU assist to turnover ratio for a 6’6″ player, and likely does not have the basketball IQ to be a transcendent star. He has improved quite a bit since then, so it will be interesting to see how he performs at North Carolina. But he may not perform as well vs NCAA defenses as he did in an all-star game setting like McDonald’s All-American.

4. Cam Reddish, 6’9″ SF/PF, Duke

Reddish has excellent wing size and tools to be a lockdown defensive player. He needs to improve his shooting, but if he does he has some nice two way point forward potential.

5. Romeo Langford 6’6″ SG, Indiana

Romeo is a silky smooth scoring SG with good size and athleticism for the position.

He has decent enough rebounding, passing, and defense to justify a top 3 pick and be a Brad Beal type. But he is likely not well rounded enough to genuinely challenge Barrett for #1 overall.

6. Bol Bol 7’2″ C, Oregon

Bol is talented enough to contend with RJ Barrett for #1 overall, as he offers an incredibly rare intersection of shooting (44% 3P and 82% FT in small NCAA sample) and shotblocking to be a unicorn stretch 5.

But he has a reputation for apathy and low effort, which makes him less shiny as a franchise changing star. He will likely be one of the most polarizing prospects in the class.


7. Simi Shittu, 6’9″ PF, Vanderbilt

Shittu currently is recovering from an ACL tear and does not have much draft hype, but the #10 recruit in the class may be the biggest sleeper. He is 6’9″ swiss army knife big with point forward potential.

Shittu is more interesting than most of the highly rated freshmen at this juncture.


8. Quentin Grimes, 6’5″ SG, Kansas

Grimes is an undersized SG who is a good but not great athlete, and may struggle to consistently make 3’s. It is not a good mold for the NBA.

But he starred for team USA in both the Nike Hoop Summit and FIBA u18 tournament. He offering good passing and defense and is a good slasher with decent point guard skill. Grimes offers shades of Marcus Smart

9. JA Morant, 6’3″ PG, Murray State

Morant is easily the best returning college player that nobody is talking about. He is an extremely quick PG with good height and excellent vision. He was an excellent rebounder for a skinny 18 y/o guard as a freshmen.

He is essentially a rich man’s version of Cam Payne. Payne was a lottery pick, and if Morant continues to improve his game he should be too.

10 Daniel Gafford, 6’11” C, Arkansas

Gafford is an athletic big who fits a sort of Clint Capela mold. He is not as athletic as Capela, but nevertheless has an easy path to usefulness as a pro.

11. Zion Williamson 6’6″ SF/PF, Duke

Zion is extremely thick, jacked, and athletic and looks more like a tight end than a basketball player. He bullied high school opponents effectively, but it remains to be seen how well he translates to playing the perimeter against higher levels of competition.

He isn’t a very good shooter, so who knows what to expect. He is an extremely weird player.

12. Naz Reid 6’9″ PF/C, LSU

Reid is a defensively disruptive big who gets loads of steals and rebounds and a fair amount of blocks.

Offensively he has a weak assist:TOV ratio, but an acceptable shot and smooth footwork give him potential to develop into a 2 way player.

13. Devon Dotson 6’2″ PG, Kansas

Dotson is a weirdo. He’s 6’2″ and not the most natural PG, but he racks up a ton of steals and rebounds and he can score.

If he develops his floor general skills, he has potential to be a two way PG. If not he could be a SG in a PG body.

14. Darius Garland 6’3″ PG, Vanderbilt

Darius Garland isn’t that strong or athletic, and will likely be bad on defense. But he makes up for it with great passing and shooting and decent enough PG size at 6’3″. He may be one the most one way prospect in the draft.

15. Tre Jones 6’2″ PG, Duke

Jones currently has no draft hype because he has limited physical tools and not a great shooter, but he has excellent point guard instincts.

If his shot comes around, he will be a serious prospect. His brother Tyus was underrated in the draft, and it looks like Tre will be as well.

16. Darius Bazley, 6’9″ SF/PF G-League

Bazley is taking a non-traditional route to the NBA by going through the G-League instead of college. He is one of the youngest players in his class, having just turned 18 in June which may indicate that he is underrated.


17. EJ Montgomery 6’10” PF, Kentucky

Montgomery has an interesting blend of height, shooting, and passing and moves fairly well. He doesn’t have hype now but has clear potential to rise into the top 10 with a strong freshman year.

18. Jarrett Culver 6’5″ SG, Texas Tech

Culver is a skilled and cerebral shooting guard.

He isn’t big or quick enough to have elite defensive potential, although his excellent steal, block, and rebound rates as a freshman indicate some upside on that end.

19. PJ Washington 6’7″ SF/PF, Kentucky

Washington’s freshman year was a disappointment, but he is strong and athletic and had performed much better at the AAU level. It’s likely that he is actually better than his freshman performance indicates.

20. Isaiah Roby 6’8″ SF/PF, Nebraska

Roby is the prototypical big wing in the modern NBA, as he can rebound, pass, defend, and is developing into a capable shooter. If his shooting further improves as a junior, he has some of the sneakier upside among upperclassmen.

21. Ethan Happ, 6’9″ PF Wisconsin

Happ is an incredibly cerebral player that stuffs the box score and can do everything but shoot. He is also getting fairly old, and if he fails to show progress as a shooter this year he may be destined to forever be a bricklayer. But he has a fascinating combination of outlier strengths highlighted by excellent handling, passing, and defense. He has potential to be a round 2 steal.

22. Andrew Nembhard 6’4″ PG, Florida

Nembhard was the star of the show for team Canada in the FIBA u18 championship, averaging 16/9/4/3. He isn’t particularly athletic or good at shooting, and his performance in a blowout loss vs Team USA could have been better. But it’s rare to have his combination of size and point guard skill, and if his shot comes along he could rise into the lottery.

23. Dedric Lawson 6’9″ PF, Kansas

Lawson is the poor man’s Jontay of the class– a highly cerebral big man who can shoot and pass but is too slow to truly excite scouts.


24. Aric Holman 6’10” PF/C, Mississipi State

Holman is tall and athletic, and can rebound, block shots, dunk, and is developing into a capable shooter. That is everything that you hope for in an NBA big man, and if he builds on his junior breakout he will be one of the more interesting upperclassmen in the draft.

25. Nickeil Alexander-Walker 6’5″ SG, Virginia Tech

The rising sophomore SG has a kind of boring profile as a jack of all trades but master of none without having special size or athleticism.

But Buzz Williams has a special power of making good pros look ordinary statistically, as Wes Matthews and Jimmy Butler were two players who had little signal for future goodness at Marquette but became good pros. So it’s reasonable to take Walker seriously as a prospect.

26. Ky Bowman, 6’1″ PG Boston College

Bowman is not the most natural point guard for a 6’1″ player, but he is extremely athletic with an excellent motor. He plays bigger than his size and is a strong rebounder and a good shooter.

If he can improve his floor general skills, he has the athleticism, shooting, and IQ to thrive as a little guy in the NBA.

27. Killian Tillie 6’10 PF/C, Gonzaga

Tillie has excellent IQ and skill for a big, and will be one of the best players in NCAA. Only question is whether he has the quickness and strength to succeed in the modern NBA.

28. Charles Bassey 6’10” C, Western Kentucky

Bassey is an athletic big who had a whopping 16 rebounds in 24 minutes at the Hoop Summit.

But he is also unskilled and may be slightly undersized to be a true center, and his basketball IQ remains to be determined.

29. Michael Weathers 6’3″ PG, Oklahoma State

As a freshman, Michael Weathers was the Russell Westbrook of the MAC as he posted stuffed the box score with points, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks, turnovers, and bricks.

Now after transferring and sitting out a year, we get to see how he performs for a major conference team.

30. Khavon Moore, 6’8″ SF/PF Texas Tech

Moore is one of the biggest wildcard freshmen. He is 6’8″, young, and athletic with vision and point forward skill, and could easily rise into the top 10 with a strong freshman year.

But he is raw and erratic and extremely turnover prone, so he also may not sniff draft radar.

31. Anfernee McLemore 6’7″ SF/PF, Auburn

McLemore offers an intriguing combination of shooting, size, athleticism, and IQ. He is only 6’7″ but posted a monster block rate for Auburn. He may be an undersized big who fails to translate, but he is interesting as a wing convert.

32. Xavier Sneed 6’5″ SG, Kansas State

Sneed is a quick and cerebral 3 + D wing who is very good defensively and rarely makes mistakes on offense.

He isn’t much of a scorer and he needs to further improve his shot to be a 1st round value, but if he makes a shooting leap as a junior he will have an easy path to NBA usefulness.

33. Ayo Dosunmu, 6’3″ PG/SG, Illinois

Dosunmu is an undersized combo guard who isn’t a great shooter, but nevertheless has interesting role player potential.

He is exceptionally quick and is very good perimeter defender. And has some budding PG skill, if he can build on that an improve as a shooter he could be a nice PG prospect.

34. Charles Matthews, 6’6″ SG/SF Michigan

Matthews is athletic enough to play for Calipari and smart enough to play for Beilein, and it shows in his performance as he is an excellent defensive wing with tools to translate to the NBA.

But he is a really bad shooter, and unless he makes a massive leap in this regard his upside will always be capped.

35. Ty Jerome 6’5″ PG/SG, Virginia

Jerome is a fascinating sleeper because he is the least vertically explosive athlete in the draft. But he moves his feet well and is incredibly intelligent with good PG size, making him one of the best defensive guards in the NCAA.

His athleticism will always limit his upside, but he has potential to be a good 3 + D role player in the NBA.


36. Jaylen Hoard 6’8″ SF/PF, Wake Forest

Hoard is old for his class and will be a sophomore aged freshman, and will need a strong freshman performance to justify much draft hype. But he has good wing size and solid rebounding, passing, and shooting, and this is a package that easily sums into a good prospect.

37. Tres Tinkle 6’8″ SF/PF Oregon State

Tinkle is a big swiss army knife wing who shot 84% FT and 33% 3P as a junior. If his 3P% catches up to his FT% as a senior, don’t be surprised to see Tinkle get first round hype.

38. Kris Wilkes 6’8″ SF, UCLA

Wilkes has good tools for a big wing and was decent enough as a freshmen. He’s interesting if he makes a sophomore leap

39. DeAndre Hunter 6’7″ SF, Virginia

Hunter is currently being hyped as a top 10 pick as a swiss army knife 3 + D wing.

But he isn’t particularly good at any one thing, he only has good but not great size and athleticism, and was a sophomore aged freshmen. Everything about his profile screams ordinary round 2 flier, so it’s hard to see why people are so excited over him.

40. Keldon Johnson 6’6″ SF, Kentucky

Johnson is the most obviously fraudulent freshman who currently has lottery hype. He has meh size for a wing, is more strong than explosive, and is highly inefficient on offense. In all likelihood he is a bully who developed before the rest of his class and has limited value as a prospect.

Other Names to watch:

41. Javin DeLaurier
42. Zach Norvell Jr.
43. Cole Swider
44. DeJon Jarreau
45. Jahlil Tripp
46. Trent Forrest
47. Jalen McDaniels
48. Terence Davis
49. John Konchar
50. Markis McDuffie
51. Tremont Waters
52. Saben Lee
53. Quinton Rose
54. Shakur Juiston
55. Yoeli Childs
56. D’Marcus Simonds
57. Cassius Winston
58. Bruno Fernando
59. Devon Daniels
60. Josh LeBlanc

Do Not Draft

Rui Hachimura, 6’8″ SF/PF, Gonzaga

Hachimura is athletic but has bad feel and skill. He wasn’t even a good college player at age 20, and unless he has a major breakout as a junior he will likely be a toolsy guy who doesn’t put it together

Herb Jones, 6’7″ SF Alabama

Herb Jones is a toolsy prospect who plays great defense, but he is a complete and utter abomination on offense. He cannot score from any level and he is horribly turnover prone, and frankly it’s hard to see him ever improving enough to justify an NBA rotation role.

Draft Takeaways


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1) Dallas Steals Luka from Atlanta in the most lopsided trade in NBA Draft History

Doncic is the best prospect since Anthony Davis and Trae Young has no business going in the top 5. This will be known as an infamous robbery before long.

Not only did Dallas steal a rare prospect from the #5 overall slot, but they did so at a reasonable cost of a top 5 protected pick. It’s less valuable than the pick that Boston received to swap Fultz for Tatum, and even less valuable than the pick that Philly received to move down from just #10 to #16 in this draft.

With a fairly pedestrian price to move up, this is BY FAR worst draft day trade in NBA history for Atlanta. It crushes Ty Thomas for LaMarcus Aldridge, as Thomas was the better talent who developed much worse. Trae is worse than Luka in every regard.

2) Travis Schlenk is a Terrible GM


It’s obvious Schlenk’s strategy is to copy the Warriors in Atlanta, and it shows with his draft night strategy taking Trae Young (Steph), Kevin Huerter (Klay), and Omari Spellman (Draymond).

The Spellman and Huerter picks were fine, but that’s sheer luck that the players who vaguely reminded him of Warrior starters happened to be decent.

The more important decision was at #3 when there were two possible franchise changing stars in Luka and Jaren, and instead he traded down for a fairly low price to reach for a guy who had no business being in the top 5. This is the type of stuff that makes or breaks franchise, and Schlenk destroyed the Hawks’ future upside with this decision.

There will never be another Steph or another Draymond, and it’s senseless to try to build a team around finding one. Travis Schlenk is going to learn this the hard way, as this trade horribly sets the franchise back.

3) Philly Gets More In Return For Mikal Bridges Than Atlanta For Luka Doncic

Zhaire Smith is a better prospect than Trae Young, and the 2021 unprotected Miami pick is MUCH better than the top 5 protected Dallas pick.

The one and done rule is going to be eliminated in 2021, which means there will be twice as many lotto prizes as normal. Picking #19 in that draft will be like picking #10 in a normal draft, picking #13 will be like a normal #7, and so on.

Not to mention that Miami does not have the best longterm current roster, and has sneaky downside to be a lotto team.

That pick is worth more than Mikal Bridges, and so is Zhaire Smith. Not to mention that Zhaire is an excellent fit in Philadelphia, this trade was an incredible coup for the 76ers.

4) What is Phoenix Even Doing?

I have no idea. I like Ayton, but it is definitely a mistake to take him over Luka and Jaren who every smart person agrees are the top 2 in this draft. And other than that, they seem to be willing to mortgage the farm on Mikal Bridges who they see as the final role player piece to their core of Booker, Jackson, and Ayton.

As it is they have 3 talented but badly flawed “stars” and invested some serious assets in a pure role playing wing. If Ayton pans out this could be a perennial 45-50 win roster, but there isn’t really championship upside here and there is downside for things to go quite a bit worse.

And not that it really matters at #59 overall, but George King is a hilarious waste of a draft pick.

5) Denver Gambles On Injured Players


If Michael Porter Jr. and Jarred Vanderbilt never got hurt this year, they could have been the #1 and #10 picks in the draft. Getting talents like that at #14 and #40 can only be a good thing.

I am unsure what to expect of Porter, and gun to my head I would have rather taken Zhaire Smith with the pick. But it’s hard to knock the gamble– players with Porter’s talent are never available at #14.

But the pick I absolutely LOVE Is getting that sweet, sweet Vandy Candy in round 2. Vanderbilt is an absolute steal, as he is a 5* recruit who was star of the Hoop Summit, is a monster rebounder who can pass off the dribble, and if he stays healthy is the favorite to be the best player who wasn’t drafted in the top 20.

6) Pop Has Lost His Edge

It’s been a rough year for Gregg Popovich, as he lost his wife and he will likely lose his star player in Kawhi as well. He is getting old at age 69, and is near retirement, and he just doesn’t have the edge he used to.

Lonnie Walker was a fine pick at #18, but Kevin Huerter or Josh Okogie who went at 19 and 20 would have been more exciting + traditional Spurs-y type picks. Chimezie Metu at 49 overall is a waste of a draft slot.

It’s sad to see such a prolonged era of excellence come to an end, but nothing lasts forever. Pop will retire soon, and the Spurs will have a long climb back to relevance. He was the best coach in the NBA for almost 20 years, but now his time is coming to an end and the Spurs are just another mediocre team.

7) Minnesota with a pair of value picks


Josh Okogie and Keita Bates-Diop were two of the better value picks in the draft. They both have solid role player potential that can solidly upgrade Andrew Wiggins and Jamal Crawford longterm.

I’m also a buyer of Tyus Jones, and if Thibs can refrain from investing in too many flawed talents and gets rid of Wiggins, the Wolves could end up with a solid cast around Karl-Anthony Towns and Jimmy Butler.

8) Cleveland is awful

LeBron is going to leave, Collin Sexton is going to be awful as a rookie, and the Cavs are going to be mind numbingly bad once again. They will contend for #1 overall pick in 2019.

9) Daryl Morey Stays Amazing

The Rockets entered the draft with one pick at #46 overall, and they came away with a top 20 prospect in Melton, one of best under the radar sleepers in Vince Edwards, and everybody’s favorite sleeper in Gary Clark.

It’s possible that these prospects all amount to nothing. I similarly lauded Morey in 2016 when he nabbed Chinanu Onuaku and Zhou Qi. But these are such low cost acquisitions it hardly matters. When they work they will work better than most other 2nd rounders or late 1sts.

10) Jaren Jackson Jr. will forever be underappreciated


Jaren is a really amazing prospect who deserves a good team, and he ended up in a terrible situation.

Most distressing is he will play for a terrible coach in JB Bickerstaff who likely fails to maximize his elite defensive prowess. And to make it worse, the Grizzlies have zero young talent, owe a future 1st to Boston, and Conley and Gasol will both be well past their primes by the time Jaren can legally buy alcohol.

This badly reminisces of KG’s team situation in Minnesota, where he had an MVP level season in 04-05 and only finished 11th in MVP voting because his team was so bad they missed the playoffs.

Jaren is an elite prospect but his goodness will likely never be fully appreciated in Memphis.

2018 Mega Board

This is my finest work yet. Still not perfect, but I’d bet these rankings look fairly accurate in 5 years.

1a. Luka Doncic 6’8″ PG/PF, Real Madrid

Doncic is a point guard in a power forward body, as he is 6’8″ with a strong frame and at age 19 was able to lead Real Madrid to Euroleague championship while winning MVP.

His only flaw is that his athleticism is merely decent, but this will be of little concern if he proves to be both a skill wizard and a basketball genius. He can shoot, score, pass, rebound, draw free throws, and is an intelligent defensive player and he has clear potential to be an all-time great.

The only concern is that his shot is currently only good but not elite, as he shot 32% from 3P (on high volume of attempts) and 80% FT. If his shot does not improve, his athleticism may inhibit him from being more than Hedo Turkoglu. But he is almost certainly going to be good with strong odds of being an all-time great.

1b. Jaren Jackson Jr. 6’11” C, Michigan St.

JJJ is custom built to be a defensive stud in the modern era, as he is an elite rim protector with mobility to switch onto the perimeter. He has a good defensive IQ, a monster 7’5″ wingspan, and can cover a ton of ground making him by far the best defensive prospect in the draft.

Offensively he is more raw, but showed good shooting and handling ability for an 18 year old big. His shot has an awkward form and low release, but he gets it off quickly and it was accurate as a freshman. He is still prone to sloppy turnovers and limited creation, but he showed a budding ability to attack off the dribble from the perimeter.

At worst JJJ is an ideal 3 + D big man like a modern Serge Ibaka, and if his offense develops well he has potential to be an all time great superstar.

It’s really close between Luka and Jaren. I rate them as the top 2 prospects of the past 6 drafts.

3. DeAndre Ayton 7’1″ C, Arizona

Ayton has excellent tools for a center at he is tall, strong, long, mobile, and smooth. He is also an efficient offensive player as he uses his elite frame and body control to create easy shots inside, and is a competent shooter and an unselfish passer. He will be an interesting counter to small ball centers, as he can absolutely eviscerate smaller competition in the post.

The big concern is that in spite of ideal physical tools, he was a poor defensive player at Arizona. He had bad instincts and awareness, was often beat when he should not have been, and did not make the impact you would expect from a physical beast like himself.

But historically speaking, consensus #1 overall picks with elite stats tend to do well in the NBA. Ayton should have a really good career in spite of his flaws.

4. Wendell Carter Jr. 6’10 C, Duke

WCJ is essentially good at everything but defending the perimeter, which makes him enigmatic in an era where big man are being asked to hold their own on switches more frequently. There is some risk he is a Greg Monroe type who can not hold his own on the defensive end.

But he is not that slow, and given his high IQ it would not be a surprise if he figures out how to be good defensively. He compares statistically to players such as Tim Duncan, Chris Bosh, Karl Anthony-Towns, Kevin Love, and Al Horford so if he improves his perimeter defense enough he can be an excellent pro.

5. Zhaire Smith 6’4″ SG, Texas Tech

Zhaire is an undersized combo guard who can barely dribble, but he is by far the most athletic player in the draft and may be the best athlete in the NBA.

He has a good 6’9.75″ wingspan, good feel for the game, and a budding shooting ability. Historically nuclear athletes do not require an elite handle to make a big scoring impact, and even if his scoring does not develop well he can be a very good role player.

Zhaire is dripping with potential as an elite high floor, high ceiling sleeper.

6. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander 6’6″ PG/SG, Kentucky

SGA is a tall, long, silky smooth point guard who is an incredibly unique prospect.

He is excellent at running the pick and roll, as he is always in control and uses his high IQ and elite body control to either get to the rim and finish or create a quality look for his teammate with his passing. But he has a thin frame and limited athleticism, so there is some doubt as to how well this will translate to the NBA level.

Similarly he made 82% FT but his slow release and low 3PA rate makes it unclear how good he will shoot.

On defense his height, 6’11.5″ wingspan, and solid lateral mobility gives him upside as a switchable defensive player, but he was not consistently good on this end for Kentucky.

He is on the fence where it’s unclear whether he will be above or below average in creation, shooting, and defense, which makes him hard to predict. But he has excellent intangibles and a high IQ, which could be just enough to pay off the team that errs on the side of optimism.

7. Mo Bamba 7’1″ C, Texas

Bamba offers a monstrous 7’10” wingspan, decent mobility, great rebounding, and a developing 3 point shot to give an interesting 3 + D profile.

But at this moment in time his game is full of holes– he often gets beat on the perimeter, makes bad decisions in pick and roll defense, and his offensive game is limited to using his reach for easy finishes as he is raw and does not pass with a currently limited shooting ability.

Teams are betting on his off court intelligence enabling him to develop into a better pro than he was NCAA player, but there is some risk he is only slightly better than Alexis Ajinca.

8. Marvin Bagley 6’11” PF Duke

Bagley is an old school garbage power forward who has excellent athleticism and motor to rebound and finish very well. His developing shooting ability and good quickness gives him some hope of fitting in on the perimeter.

The trouble is that he had horrible defensive instincts as a freshman, and with a somewhat limited wingspan he is not a true rim protector who can block shots to atone for his mistakes.

Bagley could be the next Amar’e Stoudemire, but it’s worth wondering exactly how much that is worth. Stoudemire’s defense made him difficult to build around and Phoenix and New York had some of their best playoff runs when he was injured. Even if he stuffs the stat sheet with points and rebounds, it may not amount to wins.

9. Michael Porter Jr. 6’11” PF, Missouri

MPJ is the most polarizing player in the draft. He is a big athletic scorer who posted monster EYBL stats and may be in the mix for #1 overall had he stayed healthy and played a full season for Missouri.

But instead he had a back injury and played 2 games like a black hole, shooting 10/30 FG with just 1 assist. Even prior to these two games he had struggled to get past his man off the dribble, and looks awkward navigating through traffic and relies heavily on stepback jumpers. He is also not great laterally or smart defensively,

Nevertheless his talent cannot be ignored. He is a huge wing, and if his shot develops well he will be able to get it off at a high volume. He also uses his size to rebound and make plays on defense.

His upside is a sort of Carmelo/Durant hybrid, where it depends heavily on his shotmaking and ability to stay healthy. MPJ is a true mystery box who is one of the toughest prospects in the draft to predict.

10. Kevin Knox 6’9″ SF/PF Kentucky

Knox is a prototypical stretch 4, as he is a big wing with good shooting, handling, and switching tools. He is more of a fluid athlete than explosive, but at age 18 still has plenty of room to grow.

The main concern for Knox is in spite of his physical profile, he had a disappointing amount of rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks, although this may be in part chalked up to playing in a supersized lineup for a bad coach in John Calipari. He has played better both in AAU and workout settings.

The Celtics’ recent success with Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum may inspire other teams to gamble on young, big wings who were highly touted pre-NCAA, and Knox fits the mold as he has star scoring potential as he is a good shooter with a nice floater.

Knox is a gamble and there is no guarantee he amounts to anything as a pro. But if he does pan out the payoff can be rich.

11. Miles Bridges, 6’7″ SF, Michigan St.

Miles is the prototypical 3 + D wing, as he is strong and athletic with good switchability potential, rebounding, passing, shooting, and secondary creation.

The only question is how much star upside Miles offers. He has somewhat short arms with a 6’9.5″ wingspan, did not rack up many steals, and went to the line surprisingly infrequently for a player with his physical tools. He doesn’t always play like the great athlete he is, which causes some concern for his feel for the game.

Nevertheless Miles has an easy path to usefulness. And given his athleticism, star upside cannot be ruled out.

12. Robert Williams 6’10” C, Texas A&M

BobWill is a good target for a team that is feeling Clint Capela FOMO, as he has elite length and athleticism that gives him elite finishing + switchability potential in a big who rebounds, passes, and protects the rim.

But there are some questions about his feel for the game, as Texas A&M’s defense performed better with him off the court, and he needs to improve his defense for his impact to match his potential.

13. Josh Okogie 6’4″ SG/SF Georgia Tech

Okogie’s 6’4.5″ height may seem underwhelming for a wing, but he makes up for it with a monster 7’0″ wingspan, strong frame, and excellent athleticism. He also has a non-stop motor and lockdown potential as a man to man defender against multiple positions.

Offensively he is a good shooter and a decent passer, and has a good first step and handle to create shots but struggles to finish at the rim with poor body control.

Okogie projects to be a versatile 3 + D wing, and if he can improve his finishing he has sneaky upside.

14. Kevin Huerter, 6’7″ SG/SF, Maryland

Huerter is everybody’s favorite sleeper, as he is an excellent shooter with enough height, athleticism, and basketball IQ to become a solid defensive player.

He is limited by short arms, a somewhat narrow frame, and isn’t much of a shot creator or rebounder. But he may have the highest IQ in the draft, and it’s worth giving him a shot of figuring out a way to populate the rest of his game to complement his shooting. He also has excellent body control that enabled him to finish 60% of his 2P as a sophomore at Maryland.

Huerter does not have much star potential, but could have sneaky upside as a well rounded floor spacer like Kyle Korver or Klay Thompson. Even if not he still can easily be a solid role player.

15. Trae Young, 6’2″ PG, Oklahoma

Trae Young posted insane box score stats for Oklahoma, as he has a rare combination of shooting, handling, and vision and racked up monstrous point and assist totals.

But unfortunately his box score stats did not amount to major team level impact, as he gave back much of his offensive production with horrific defense and often played out of control taking a number of bad shots and attempting low IQ passes.

His lack of defensive effort and out of control style pair poorly with his awful physical profile, as his short arms, narrow frame, and merely good but not elite athleticism demand a high basketball IQ to have a great pro upside. Thus far Young has not shown nearly the level of IQ to merit a top 10 pick.

He nevertheless could be a skill wizard with enough instincts and vision to be an Isaiah Thomas level impact, but he will come with the same fit issues and playoff limits as IT as his physical limits make him easier to slow down and he can be hunted on defense. In reality he will likely be more like Trey Burke.

Trae has huge downside risk and a badly flawed upside, thus I am lower on him than consensus.

16. Troy Brown 6’7″ SF/PF, Oregon

Troy is a big, young, wing who can pass, rebound, handle, and maybe shoot.

His flaw is that he has limited athleticism and was not efficient as a freshman for Oregon. But he is still 18 on draft night, and if his skill develops he has intrigue as a versatile, multi-positional 3 + D wing.

Troy could be a good role player with sneaky weirdo upside, or he could never put an NBA career together. He is one of the trickier players in the draft to peg.

17. DeAnthony Melton 6’4″ PG/SG, USC

Melton is a combo guard with amazing vision and instincts, decent athleticism, and sorely limited skill level.

As a freshman he did most of his damage in transition, and was badly inefficient in the halfcourt. Statistically he is a doppelganger for Jrue Holiday’s freshman performance at UCLA, but his handle and shooting may not match Jrue and could result in an offensive player more like Marcus Smart.

But in the event that Melton’s skill develops well, he could be an interesting 3 + D combo guard who can play some point guard as he does have the vision and passing ability.

18. Mikal Bridges 6’7″ SF, Villanova

Bridges offer a good combination of shooting, team defense, and efficiency to fit the modern archetype for 3 +D role player.

He has decent athleticism + mobility, but there is some risk he will struggle with switching as he often gets burned by quicker wings and bullied by bigger ones. He is not much of a rebounder, passer, or shot creator, which at age 21 puts a cap on his long term upside.

Bridges should be a useful role player in the NBA, although he likely will not be much better than Justin Holiday or James Ennis. It makes him a decent mid-late 1st round choice, but there just is not enough upside to justify a lottery selection.

19. Dzanan Musa 6’8″ SF/PF

Musa offers an intriguing blend of size, skill, and instincts in the late 1st. He just turned 19, and young, big wings who can pass and shoot are often great upside targets.

That said, he has short arms (6’9.5″ wingspan), average athleticism, and idolizes Kobe Bryant. Playing like Kobe without having Kobe’s talent is not ideal. He takes bad shots and is mistake prone on defense.

Musa is one of the more intriguing talents in the late first, but if he insists on playing like Kobe it will undermine his ability.  But if he can be coached and improves his basketball IQ with age, he can provide a nice payoff for a late 1st gamble.

20. Collin Sexton, 6’1″ PG Alabama

Sexton is an elite scorer as he has great athleticism and body control to be able to get to the rim and finish. The trouble is that he does not complement this with much else, as he showed disappointing passing and defense at Alabama and is not a great shooter.

Most of his upside comps are not inspiring– Iverson with less athleticism or Kyrie with worse shooting are not the most exciting players to target. Those players are flawed to begin with, and take away part of their specialness and you are left with Jeff Teague. And there is some risk Sexton’s instincts and IQ aren’t good enough to justify getting his scoring on the floor.

Ultimately Sexton’s upside is attractive on paper, but most of the time he is going to disappoint and be a challenging fit into NBA lineups.


21. Lonnie Walker 6’4″ SG, Miami

Lonnie has nice length, athleticism, shooting, and man to man defense, and projects to be a JR Smith type role playing SG.

In theory he has upside to be more, but it is hard to see his ticket there. He isn’t that skilled, that smart, or that athletic, and he plays smaller than his size as he is allergic to rebounds and free throw attempts.

22. Elie Okobo 6’3″ PG, Pau-Orthez

Okobo emerged out of nowhere to be a quality prospect, as he went from a low usage combo guard to a full fledged point guard at age 20. He has good length, athleticism, and shooting, and the parallels to Damian Lillard cannot be ignored. He has upside if a GM wants to swing for the fences in the late first.

But he also has immense risk, as he is still turnover prone, has a lower steal rate than most elite PG’s, and his 19 year old limits cannot be ignored. Okobo is a classic boom or bust who is worth a look once the lottery talents are off the board.

23. Keita Bates-Diop 6’8″ SF/PF

Bates-Diop has excellent switching tools, as he is 6’8.5″ with 7’3.25″ wingspan, and good quickness. He can shoot, rebound, and protect the rim, and is ideal as a versatile 3 + D role player similar to Al-Farouq Aminu.

But at age 22 he has limited upside, as he does not have much ball skills and his feel for the game is only OK– he has a disappointing steal rate in spite of his monster length and has shown limited vision and passing.

He has good odds of being a useful role player, but upside concerns keep him out of the lottery conversation.


24. Jarred Vanderbilt 6’9″ PF Kentucky

Vanderbilt is a functional shot and healthy foot away from being a top 5 talent. Multiple injuries to his left foot prevented him from playing much at Kentucky, and his shot is also broken.

After that he has shades of Draymond Green, as he is a point forward who is a beast rebounder and was the star of the Nike Hoop Summit. He just turned 19 in April, so if he can somehow stay healthy and develop a workable shot, he has clear potential to be the steal of the draft. Or if he stays healthy and doesn’t learn to shoot, he may be able to carve out a useful niche in the NBA.

Those are two major forces working against him, but at a certain point his strengths make him a worthwhile gamble. Major potential for a 2nd round steal.

25. Bruce Brown 6’5″ SG, Miami FL

Bruce Brown has barely acceptable wing dimensions at 6’5″ with a 6’9″ wingspan, and isn’t much of a shooter in spite of turning 22 in August.

But he is arguably the 2nd best athlete in the draft behind Zhaire Smith, and his strength helps him atone for limited dimensions to play bigger than his size.

Offensively he is further behind than you would hope for a prospect who is as old as some seniors, but he can run the pick and roll and pass.

Given his excellent athleticism there could be a nice payoff if he proves to be an adequate shooter as a defensive specialist who can provide secondary creation.

26. Donte DiVincenzo, 6’5″ SG, Villanova

Donte has a limited skill package for a 21 year old combo guard with a 6’6″ wingspan, but he is an excellent athlete and decent enough at all of the role playing things to succeed as a pro.

27. Gary Trent Jr. 6’6″ SG/SF, Duke

Gary Trent Jr. is an incredibly selfish player who often elected to take contested long 2’s rather than passing at Duke, which is why he may slide to round 2.

But he is an excellent shooter with size to guard multiple positions, and at age 19 it is tantalizing to envision how well he may thrive as an NBA role player if he proves to be coachable.

28. Jacob Evans 6’6″ SG/SF, Cincinnati

At 6’5.5″ with a 6’9.25″ wingspan, Evans has SG dimensions with underwhelming athleticism and skill level. He is a decent shooter and passer with a trace of creation ability, but he is a 2nd round talent in terms of physical profile and skill level.

He makes up for it with his excellent basketball IQ, as he is one of the smartest players in the draft. He is a good defensive player, and in spite of his physical limitations has just enough tools to hold his own on switches.

His talented is limited enough such that he can bust like RJ Hunter, but Evans has decent odds of sticking as a role player.

29. Landry Shamet 6’4″ PG/SG, Wichita State

Shamet is a big point guard who can shoot the lights out.

He isn’t much of an athlete, which limits his rebounding, defense, and slashing. But he may have enough smarts and skill to overcome his limits and be a useful pro.

30. Omari Spellman 6’9″ PF/C, Villanova

Spellman is PF sized but is strong, long (7’2″), and athletic and may be able to play some center in a pinch.

He is old for a freshman as he turns 21 in July, but he can shoot and rebound and could be a decent pro if the rest of his game develops well.

31. Isaac Bonga, 6’9″ SF/PF, Frankfurt

Bonga is a frightening combination of skinny and slow, but he is incredibly cerebral for a 18 year old 6’9″ point forward.

He reminisces of a poor man’s Kyle Anderson. Anderson has provided good value for a late 1st round selection, so Bonga may be a good value in the 2nd.

32. Kenrich Williams 6’7″ SF, TCU

Kenrich is the ideal role playing wing for the modern NBA. He is not explosive, he has short arms, and is not a high volume scorer even at age 23. But he excels at every role player aspect: rebounding, passing, defense, efficiency.

He is a decent but not great shooter, but he makes up for it with his defense. His excellent basketball IQ translates to very good team defense, and his height and lateral mobility gives him potential as a switching wing.

His warts will likely cause him to slide to round 2, where he has potential to be an elite steal.

33. Anfernee Simons, 6’3″ SG, IMG Academy

Simons is undersized for SG but not a natural PG, but helps make up for it with long 6’9.25″ arms and good athleticism. He is a good shooter, but in AAU struggled to finish inside, draw free throws, and had barely more assists than turnovers.

He has potential to be a Lou Williams type, but is going to flop fairly often.



34. Mitchell Robinson 7’1″ C, No Team

MitchRob is the most enigmatic combination of elite talent and terrible intangibles since Michael Beasley. He 7’1″ with a 7’4″ wingspan and elite athleticism, and has major potential on paper as a Clint Capela type.

That said MitchRob just might not care about being good at basketball. He committed to Western Kentucky twice and then decommitted, canceled on the combine, canceled workouts, and has generally showed little inclination to actually show up and play basketball to prove to NBA teams that he is worth millions of dollars.

If he cannot show up at this point with so much money on the line, how wise is it to worth investing guaranteed money in him? Even if he succeeds at some juncture because of his talent, he does not seem like a reliable target for any sort of max contract.

He has an excellent theoretical upside, but extremely slim odds of reaching it. He has some of the most toxic intangibles of recent draft memory, and disappointment seems inevitable with him.


35. Jevon Carter 6’2″ PG, West Virginia

Carter is a tiny point guard (6’1.5″ with 6’4.25″ wingspan) who isn’t a natural at running the offense, as he didn’t play full time PG for West Virginia until his senior year at age 22.

But he is an absolute pest on defense, rebounds much better than his size, and developed into a good shooter making 82% FT and 39% 3P in his final 2 seasons of college.

Carter is in a bad mold but has rare strengths that may enable him to succeed in a Patrick Beverley type role.

36. Kevin Hervey 6’8″ SF/PF, UT Arlington

Hervey is a prototypical stretch 4, as he has a monster 7.3’5″ wingspan and can rebound, pass, handle, and shoot.

He is not that athletic and there are questions about how well he can defend as a pro, but if he finds a defensive niche he is an ideal role playing big wing.


37. Rawle Alkins, 6’4″ SG, Arizona

Alkins is slightly undersized for a SG, but makes up for it with 6’8.75″ wingspan, a strong frame, and good athleticism. He has a good 3 +D skill set.

38. Trevon Duval 6’3″ PG, Duke

Duval has a broken shot, is highly turnover prone, and has a bizarrely low rebound rate for a player with his physical tools.

But he has good length and athleticism, sees the court well, and at age 19 still has a prayer of putting things together to become a decent pro. He is likely going to bust, but if everything goes well he has more upside than most 2nd rounders.

39. Shake Milton 6’6″ SG/SF, SMU

Milton can shoot, handle, and pass and has an excellent 7’0.75″ wingspan, but is extremely slow. He will be banking hard on his long wingspan helping overcome his athletic issues as a pro.

40. Alize Johnson 6’8″ SF/PF, Missouri St.

Johnson is an interesting prospect as a wing convert. His short arms (6.8.75″) prevented him from getting steals and blocks in college, but he moves his feet well enough to possibly convert to a big wing. He can rebound, pass, and sort of shoot which makes him a compelling flier.


41. Xavier Cooks, 6’8″ SF/PF, Winthrop

Cooks likely isn’t getting draft because he is old, skinny, and inefficient with a funky shooting form.

But he is a unicorn point forward who can handle, pass, rebound, and protect the rim with sneaky good athleticism.


42. Melvin Frazier 6’6″ SF, Tulane

Frazier has super long arms at 7’1.75″ and is a pretty good athlete, but was a complete disaster offensively until his junior season at Tulane. He never made a discernible impact on Tulane’s success in on/off splits, which is a concern for an upperclassman on a bad mid-major team.

But he has NBA tools and a workable jump shot, maybe an NBA team can squeeze more value out of him than he showed in college.


43. Vince Edwards 6’8″ SF/PF, Purdue

Edwards is a big wing who can rebound, pass, handle, and shoot. He may not have the athleticism or defense to fit in the NBA, but he led Purdue to a boatload of wins over his 4 years and was a criminal exclusion from the combine.

44. Yante Maten, 6’8″ PF, Georgia

Yante is likely too slow and unathletic to find an NBA niche, but his strength, smarts, and shooting ability give him a chance. His excellent IQ enabled him to be a very good defensive player in NCAA, so it is plausible he overachieves his expected defensive performance in the NBA as well.

45. Chandler Hutchison 6’7″ SF/PF Boise State

Hutchison has a long 7’2″ wingspan and is a pretty good athlete who can get to the rim and finish, is a willing passer, and a developing shooter. It is easy to see why he has first round hype.

But he was a complete disaster on offense until his junior year. In his first two seasons he was inefficient on low volume and hardly attempted 3’s. And he still has a sloppy handle, is prone to turnovers, has bad touch on floaters, is not a natural passer, and is not a defensive stopper either.

He has a chance of success as a pro, but his feel and skill level may be too far behind for a 22 year old with good but not great physical tools.

46. Hamidou Diallo, 6’6″ SG/SF, Kentucky

Diallo showed very little to get excited about at Kentucky, but he has long arms at 6’11.5″ and is a solid athlete. Maybe an actual NBA coach can make better use of him than John Calipari did.



47. Gary Clark 6’8″ SF/PF, Cincinnati

Clark was arguably the best NCAA player in the nation, as he was a hyperefficient garbageman for an excellent Cincinnati team.

His NBA translation is enigmatic because he is wing size, but likely lacks the quickness to defend wings or handling ability to be an offensive wing.

Clark may have enough basketball IQ to find an NBA niche, but he turns 24 in November so he has limited time to figure things out.

48. Keenan Evans 6’3″ PG, Texas Tech

Evans is a neat flier. He is a senior who is still 21 on draft night, has decent PG size, good athleticism, good shooter, and a good slasher who draws a ton of free throws.

He is not a pure PG and did not rack up many assists at Texas Tech, but had a low turnover rate, and could easily become a rotation guard in the NBA.


49. Aaron Holiday 6’1″ PG, UCLA

Holiday is a good shooter with a 6’7.5″ wingspan, solid athleticism, and flashes of creation, defense, and passing. But he is nevertheless below average at all three, and for a 21 year old 6’1″ prospect that isn’t good enough to succeed as a pro.

There is some chance he develops into a Mo Williams level low end starter or bench sparkplug, but most 6’1″ players fail and it is not great to bet on one who lacks exceptional skill, athleticism, and feel for the game.

50. DJ Hogg, 6’9″ SF/PF Texas A&M

Hogg is a big wing who can shoot and pass and may have had his talent suppressed at Texas A&M playing in huge lineups with a bad PG for a bad coach.

He is limited as an athlete and shot creator, but has a good role playing skill set.

51. Moe Wagner, 7’0″ PF/C, Michigan

Wagner is tall with an excellent shot and not much else to write home about.

He is a decent athlete who has flashes of ability to create off the dribble, but isn’t much of a passer and is soft inside as he struggles to stop opposing bigs in the paint and corral offensive rebounds.

His one saving grace is that he may have good enough feet to hold his own on switches. But he is definitely not a rim protector and is fairly one dimensional on offense.

52. Issuf Sanon 6’4″ PG/SG, Olimpija Ljubljana

Sanon is one of the youngest players in the draft and a pretty good athlete, but is more or less a pure gamble on youth. Right now he has the physical tools to be disruptive on defense, but is a complete disaster on offense and has a long way to go to become NBA caliber.

53. Ray Spalding 6’10” C, Louisville

Spalding fits an interesting mold as a skinny center, who makes up for his lack of height and weight with an excellent 7’4.75″ wingspan and good athleticism + mobility.

He lacks the height, girth, and IQ to be a true impact player on defense, but could be a switchable rotation big who finishes lobs and putbacks on offense.

54. Tony Carr 6’4″ PG, Penn State

Tony Carr is similar to Shamet– good PG size, passing, and shooting, but may be too slow and lacking in strength to survive in the NBA. He isn’t on Shamet’s level as a shooter, but may atone for it with slightly better rebounding and passing.

55. Desonta Bradford 6’4″ SG, East Tennessee St.

At this point the options on mainstream radar are so painfully limited, why not take an athletic mid-major star who is only slightly undersized for combo guard. If his shot comes along he can be a solid rotation guy.

56. Khyri Thomas 6’4″ SG, Creighton

Khyri is an undersized SG but makes up for it with long arms with a 6’10.5″ wingspan and good basketball IQ enabled him to be Big East defensive player of the year for back to back seasons.

But he was a dubious selection for that award, as Creighton’s defense was better with him off the floor than on over his three seasons. This isn’t an indictment of Khyri’s defense so much it is the ability of any 6’4″ non-elite athlete to make a major defensive impact at even the NCAA level.

Maybe he can find a niche as a 3 + D shooting guard, but his shot is merely good not great and he is sorely limited as a ball handler for a 22 year old guard prospect. More likely than not his offensive badness with outweigh his defensive goodness.

57. Devonte Graham 6’2″ PG, Kansas

Graham is a combo guard in a PG body. It is fairly disconcerting that he was a low usage role player until his 23 year old senior season, when he took on a bigger role and shot 39% on 2 pointers.

He is a good shooter with good intangibles, and there is some chance he finds a pro niche. But he has strictly bench player upside.


58. Jerome Robinson 6’5″ SG, Boston College

Robinson has mediocre length and athleticism, is bad defensively, and was horribly inefficient on offense until his junior season.

As a junior he made a major shooting leap and improved his %’s across the board. He also shot well off the dribble, ranking 91% percentile in synergy points per possession. But even a slight regression toward his prior performance and he isn’t nearly good enough on offense to justify his defense.

Teams are giving him too much credit for improving over his career, and not enough concern for lacking the natural talent to even vaguely resemble a prospect until he turned 21. He will be a major mistake in round 1.

59. Zach Thomas, 6’7″ SF/PF, Bucknell

Thomas is a big wing who can rebound, shoot, pass, and draws a ton of free throws. His physical profile is decent for a low major senior, and he could easily stick as a 3 + D wing.

60. Tryggvi Hlanison, 7’1″ C, Iceland

Need a big, warm body to cozy up to at the end of round 2? If so then Trygg is your guy!

He does typical big person things and is not overly skilled or young as he turns 21 in October. But he may just just agile enough to fit in the NBA, thus his appeal as fringe draftable.

61. Theo Pinson 6’6″ SF/PF, North Carolina

Pinson is a 6’6″ swiss army knife wing who does a bit of everything. He may not be able to shoot well enough to stick in the NBA, but is a semi-interesting role player if his 3P% catches up to his FT%.

62. Desi Rodriguez 6’5″ SG, Seton Hall

Desi is a smooth wing with a nice frame and 6’10” wingspan who can do a bit of everything with a role player skill set. He’s a sort of jack of all trades master of none, but has a decent shot of sticking.

63. Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk 6’8″ SF/PF Kansas

Svi Rex almost impressively has a wingspan 3 inches shorter than his height.

He is a knockdown shooter who is otherwise sorely limited offensively, but has enough height and mobility to develop into a 3 + D if he can develop his ball skills. He only turned 21 the week before the draft, so he has a glimmer of hope of doing so.


64. Jalen Brunson 6’2″ PG, Villanova

Brunson is a tough PG who can shoot and played with good efficiency for Villanova. But his physical tools are sorely limited, and it shows in his lack of rebounds, steals, and blocks. Further, he is a good but not elite passer and there is only so much scoring impact for a player with Brunson’s physical limitations.

Maybe he sticks as a backup PG, but his upside is badly limited.

65. Grayson Allen 6’4″ SG, Duke

Allen is a good athlete in the open floor and shoots very well, and that’s about all he has to offer as a prospect.

He is slightly undersized for a SG, does not move well laterally, and struggles to explode in traffic which is why he was relegated to a spot up shooting role as a senior. He will likely get torched on defense without providing much use on offense beyond pure shooting, and would be a terrible mistake to take in round 1.

66. Bryant Crawford, 6’3″ PG Wake Forest

Crawford has solid PG tools and can do a bit of everything with nice shooting upside as he made 83% FT’s as a sophomore and 87% as a junior.

67. Justin Jackson 6’7″ SF/PF, Maryland

Jackson has a workable jumpshot and his 7’3″ wingspan and strong frame give him a clear niche as a 3 + D wing. But he isn’t that athletic or creative offensively, and he struggles to finish in the paint.

He has some chance of sticking, but will be limited as a somewhat ordinary role player.


68. Jordan McLaughlin 6’1″ PG, USC

McLaughlin is an undersized PG who makes up for it with speed, vision, shooting, and pesky defense. He has a chance to be a Fred VanVleet-ish undrafted steal.


69. Brandon McCoy 7’0″ C, UNLV

McCoy is the dinosaur of the draft, as a 7’0″ post-up big man. But he was a 5* guy who is an excellent rebounder and showed some shooting promise with 73% FT. There is likely some path where he turns into a serviceable stretch 5.


70. Daryl Macon 6’3″ PG/SG, Arkansas

Macon is a combo guard who is nearly identical to Aaron Holiday as a prospect. He is slightly older and less natural at PG, but makes up for it by being a better shooter. Why waste a 1st rounder on Holiday when you can get the same thing as a UDFA?


After this there aren’t many interesting players left. Among players currently in ESPN’s mock who were excluded:

Malik Newman (#47) is a one dimensional shooter in a PG body.

Chimezie Metu (#52) is PF sized and soft inside without the skill or IQ to be interesting.

Rodions Kurucs (#38) can barely get minutes in Europe and he is already 20.

Arnoldas Kubolka (#59) is a painfully one dimensional shooter

Kostas Antetokounmpo (#58) is an abomination at basketball and would be nowhere near draft radar if not for his last name.

A few more UDFA stabs in the dark: Chima Moneke, William Lee, Jaylen Adams, Ajdin Penava, Darius Thompson, Chris Cokley, Tyler Rawson, Jaylen Barford, Malik Pope, Dakota Mathias, Braian Angola-Rodas


Digging for Deep Sleepers– Best Players Not Invited to Combine


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Most of these guys are going to amount for nothing, but just for fun I am going to take a stab at some deep sleepers who were not invited to the combine that nobody is talking about. I excluded Gary Clark who is widely considered a snub, and am focusing on players who are actively underrated in my estimation.

1) Xavier Cooks 6’8″ SF/PF Winthrop


Cooks is the ultimate unicorn of under the radar players. I doubt there was ever an undrafted player who can handle, pass, rebound, and protect the rim like he can. He is not super athletic, but he has a nice first step and is highly cerebral, which enables him to stuff the stat sheet at his height.

In the past 8 NCAA seasons, here are the players who had 15%+ TRB, 16%+ AST, 3%+ BLK, were 6’6″+ and had at least 10 possessions as a PnR Handler (per synergy):

Player Class TRB% AST% BLK% PnR poss
Xavier Cooks SR 16.6 25.4 7.7 79
Xavier Cooks JR 17.4 21.2 6.1 58
Frank Kaminsky SR 16.1 18.4 4.5 23
Draymond Green SR 19.8 24.2 3.3 20
Royce White SO 17.7 34.5 3 11
Draymond Green JR 16.6 30.6 4 10

This includes two first round picks, an all-time round 2 steal, and Cooks. And he runs the pick and roll far more often than any of them with quite a few more blocks. This is arguably a product of playing against low major competition, but there are no other low or mid major players in his stratosphere. He is an incredibly rare prospect.

Cooks’ biggest flaw is efficiency. He posted a weak 103 ORtg as a senior against low major competition, which is a major flag. But his passing was good enough to help balance the scales. Here are his senior synergy efficiency percentiles as a scorer vs. scoring + passes:

%ile %ile including passes
PnR 77% 91%
Iso 41% 70%
Post-up 88% 90%

His splits plus passes are likely bolstered by luck to some extent, but it is easy to see how he may offer enough value to overcome his efficiency woes. Also worth noting that Winthrop had a monstrous split with him on the court vs. off.

His other issue is that he may not be able to shoot. His career 68% FT 35% 3P inspires hope, but he has an ugly tornado form that reminisces of Joakim Noah.

Cooks has incredibly outlier strengths for a player that will likely go undrafted. His shooting and efficiency woes will be his undoing as a pro fairly often, but he is absolutely worth a summer league flier and 2 way contract. I would even take him in the 2nd round.

2) DJ Hogg 6’9″ SF/PF Texas A&M (ESPN: #66)


Hogg is a not great athlete with relatively short arms (6’10.5″ wingspan) who averaged a modest 11 points and 5 rebounds per game as a junior, so it is easy to write him off at a glance. But there are reasons for optimism:

At 6’9″ he is a big wing, which is quickly becoming the prototypical PF mold. He has good vision and is a good shooter, and enough athleticism to average nearly a block per game. This is an excellent baseline for a 3 + D prospect.

The problem is that his overall scoring and rebounding leaves much to be desired, but there are a number of factors stifling his production:

  1. He was forced to play the 3 with Texas A&M rotating three bigs– he would have been a 4 on almost any other team
  2. He had the worst coach of any major conference player
  3. He had the worst PG of any major conference player

His creation is nevertheless a flag for even a 3 + D role player, as he rarely even attacked closeouts. But for a player with such a good baseline of role player abilities, there could be a nice payoff if he translates well to a more favorable environment.

3) Vince Edwards 6’8″ SF/PF Purdue (ESPN: #72)


All Edwards did in 4 years at Purdue was win win win no matter what. He was an instant contributor from his freshman year, and the Boilermakers were a mainstay at the top of the Big Ten standings during his tenure.

He is 6’8″ and can rebound, pass, and is a great shooter with 39% 3P and 82% FT over his career. He also can handle a bit, which puts him in a mold that has an incredibly easy path to success as a pro.

His main question is whether he has the quickness and athleticism to defend at the NBA level. Given his size, IQ, and skill level it is worth gambling that he can in the 2nd round.

4) Desi Rodriguez 6’5″ SG/SF Seton Hall

Rodriguez had an interesting career arc at Seton Hall. As a freshman he was a pest on defense and a beast on the glass, but too raw to contribute much offensively. Over time he added polish to his skill level, and his steals and rebounds declined as his offensive role grew.

His shot is a bit of a question mark, but at 37% 3P and 74% FT as a senior he has improved enough to have potential. And his 6’10” wingspan and strong frame gives him potential to switch onto bigger players.

Desi’s ability to provide secondary creation ties everything together. It is a common misperception that 3 + D players only need to make 3’s and play defense. Low usage NCAA players have a terrible NBA track record for a reason. Competent shot creation is a necessity for even low usage NBA role players, as players who cannot punish the defense on easy scoring opportunities are major offensive liabilities.

In the NBA he will likely mirror his freshman role where he can focus on defense and rebounding, while his performance as a junior and senior proves that he has the offensive competence to succeed in a low usage NBA role. If he can combine the best of both worlds and develop into a reliable shooter, he should be a useful NBA role player.

5) Zach Thomas 6’7″ SF/PF Bucknell


Thomas offers passing, rebounding, and shooting with ideal wing size and good feel for the game. He has a shot distribution that would make James Harden blush, as he attempts an inordinate amount of threes and free throws. And he has a solid frame and athleticism to give him a chance of translating to higher levels.

An encouraging point is that he scored an efficient 27 points in 29 minutes against Michigan State in the tournament before fouling out.

6) Desonta Bradford 6’4″ SG East Tennessee St.


Bradford has a Tyler Johnson-ish profile, as he did it all for a very good ETSU team as a junior and senior. He is a bit undersized for a SG at 6’4″, but he makes up for it with excellent athleticism.

He does not quite match Johnson’s elite NCAA efficiency, but is nevertheless a solid flier. There are not many better UDFA gambles than an athletic mid-major star.

7) Chima Moneke 6’6″ SF/PF UC Davis


At a glance Moneke does not seem like a prospect, as he is an undersized chucking PF who posted a 1:3 assist:TOV ratio in 2 years at UC Davis and is now 22 years old.

But he is very athletic, excellent on the glass, has good steal and block rates, and UC Davis defense was great with him on the floor and significantly declined with him off both years.

Moneke has a workable shot– he made 67% FT and 9/23 3P in his 2 years at Davis. He has also been able to score in his two games against elite major conferences defenses– posting 24 points on 10/15 shooting vs Ivab Rabb’s Cal team and 20 points on 8/13 vs Kansas in the tournament.

Moneke needs to develop an NBA 3, become a more willing passer, and successfully convert to the perimeter.  This is a bit of a longshot parlay, but the baseline talent is there and how can you not love that headband + goggles combo?

8) Bryant Crawford 6’3″ PG Wake Forest


Crawford has solid PG tools, as he measured 6’3.5″ with a 6’6″ wingspan in 2014 and has solid strength and athleticism. He has good vision, can create off the dribble, and his 83% FT as sophomore and 87% as a junior conveys excellent shooting potential.

His only weakness is that he doesn’t have a major strength. All of his tools are decent but not great, and the same can be said for his basketball IQ and skill level. But if he develops well, he has an easy path to NBA rotation guard.

9) Jordan McLaughlin 6’1″ PG USC


Small point guards are weird. Often times the most highly touted ones fail to translate to the pros, but occasionally a stud role player like Fred VanVleet goes undrafted.

After Jevon Carter (who was invited to the combine), McLaughlin is the best shot at a FVV level UDFA steal in this crop. He is a good shooter with elite floor vision, and an uncanny ability to be a pest on defense (77th best steal rate in NCAA) without fouling (6th lowest foul rate).

He overall had a less impressive career than FVV, but McLaughlin’s senior year breakout offers enough intrigue for the speedy PG to be a nice undrafted flier.

10) Malik Pope 6’10” SF/PF San Diego St.


Chad Ford stanned so ridiculously hard for Pope as a possible top 10 pick that it became a running joke, especially without him ever putting it all together over his 4 year career.

But even if Ford’s optimism was highly unwarranted, there were non-trivial reasons to like him. There are not many 6’10” athletes with even possibly enough skill to play the wing, and Pope is still only 21 on draft night.

He never developed well enough to be truly exciting, but it is worth seeing if an NBA coach can find a way to get more out of Pope than he showed as San Diego State.

10 players I would disinvite from the combine to take a closer look at these guys: Malik Newman, George King, Allonzo Trier, Justin Jackson, Brian Bowen, Billy Preston, Austin Wiley, Devon Hall, Tyus Battle, Kostas Antetokounmpo