- Zion Williamson. You know what he is.
I don’t think much explaining needs to be done here. Whoever drafts Zion Williamson has drafted one of the future top five players in the NBA. This is not negotiable and Ja Morant is not better than Zion…end of discussion.
- Jarrett Culver. Future two-way, high functioning complimentary piece, and all-star.
Jarrett Culver has very few holes in his game and is above average in every aspect besides shooting where he is merely average, but shows ability to make shots off the catch and dribble. He has great vision and throws some amazing passes and he has legit secondary or tertiary initiator equity. His listed height is six-foot-six but looking at him he is clearly between six-foot-seven and six-foot-eight which, when paired with his skillset, makes him even more tantalizing of a prospect. Culver is also a very good on ball and off ball defender who will have an immediate impact on the court.
- Brandon Clarke Starter, Role player All-Star.
The recent small ball trend in the NBA bodes well for Brandon Clarke. Clarke is a nuclear athlete, with an off the charts IQ, and was the best finisher on high usage in the NCAA. Many people’s concern with Clarke is his size and lack of shooting. However, I am extremely optimistic about his potential as a shooter because the NBA does a great job of teaching set shooting for players with a great touch and helps players gain strength.
- Grant Williams role player all-star, high level complimentary piece.
Grant Williams is probably Draft Twitter’s favorite player and a player severely underrated by many casual fans. Williams is just a player you bet on to figure it out due to his IQ and rapid progression throughout college. Most people doubt Williams’ shooting ability which when paired with his low attempts and percentages may be warranted. However, Grant shot 59% on two pointers and 81% from the line when combined with the high degree of difficulty on a good amount of his twos, a case can be made that Grant will not only shoot threes, but be very good at them. His production cannot be ignored boasting a 31.2 PER while leading the Vols on a tournament run. An underrated aspect of prospects is the little things and Grant checks every box as far as those go. His high IQ, strength, and passing allow him to be a great pick and roll threat. He was also a monster on the boards in college and one of the best team defenders in recent years. He should add a ton of value to any team that drafts him. I am optimistic about his shooting ability translating.
- Goga Bitadze Starter, high impact role player
Goga is the second highest floor prospect in this class (no one should be surprised the highest floor is Zion), with reasonable upside. He is a large human being even by NBA standards standing at 6’11, 251 lbs., with a 7’2” wingspan. Goga has great mobility for a player his size and has sneaky athleticism. He is very fundamentally sound and a positive rebounder. He has stretch big potential and is a good passer. Bitadze plays with a lot of fire and his motor is often times running hot. Defensively, Goga plays a very physical brand of basketball with great timing on his blocks. There’s very few weaknesses Bitadze has and the most damning is his pick and roll defense where he is not afraid to defend but at this point he isn’t really good at it. I’m confident that Goga will be a very good player in the league.
- PJ Washington Starter, high impact role player
PJ Washington is the most underrated player in this draft. PJ is a 6’8 forward prospect with elite touch who could see time at small forward through center. He is long with a 7’3” wingspan and has the strength that most other young, long prospects do not. PJ is a very high IQ offensive player and is a VERY good passer in a multitude of situations, although the assists numbers would not indicate it. He shot 42% in his sophomore campaign at Kentucky (38.4% for his career) and saw his free throw percentages improve.
He was one of the NCAA’s top catch and shoot players and when paired with his ball handling ability he should be able to attack the basket well if his shooting continues to be a thorn in a defense’s back-side. He is also a very good post player and should be able to abuse switches and smaller framed wings. Defensively PJ has some concerns but does have the potential to be a positive defender and can switch on all positions and be fine.
- RJ Barrett. All-Star, Starter
RJ Barrett has the chance to be a really great NBA player if he plays within himself and accepts the playmaking gift he was given. I will be using the term passing mode when referring to players like RJ that playmaking and scoring do not coexist depending on when you tune in they are either doing one or the other never both. He is one of the harder evaluations in the draft because of his high highs and low lows. His defense is horrible both on and off ball and his IQ is severely lacking. However, despite all of his flaws he is still a highly productive player with all the talent in the world and true potential to be a #1 option on a contending team if he reigns in his shot selection, uses his vision, and plays with more consistent effort on the defensive end.
However much I personally dislike RJ as a prospect it is hard to bet against such a competitive player, who seems to really want to be great and to ignore the production he’s had since high school against higher level competition. He will put up numbers at the least at the next level. I have him this high partially because of trade value.
- Ja Morant Starter, Potential All-Star.
Most people have Ja Morant #2 in this class and although I like Morant as a player I find it hard to buy stock in him being a truly impactful NBA player. I think he has the potential to put up huge numbers in the NBA but the lack of perceived impact comes from the fact that he will be one of the NBA’s worst defenders and isn’t such an overwhelming athlete (like Westbrook) that his shooting woes won’t be a problem for him at the next level. That being said, Morant is still a very good athlete and an elite two foot jumper with legitimately good passing ability. Depending on how much a team commits to him I can see him putting up monster (likely empty) numbers.
- Darius Garland Starter, sixth man.
Garland possesses a skill ancillary for today’s NBA in elite pull up shooting. Garland pairs that with an amazing handle and explosive bursts of speed in tight spaces. All this being said Garland has a small sample size which makes it hard to accurately place him on this list, for all we know he would’ve kept up his early production and been a tier II player or his bad habits would’ve shown their heads and he would be ranked lower than this. That being said Garland is elite at the most important skill in today’s NBA and warrants a high selection.
- Jaxson Hayes. Moldable, starter, high impact two-way player.
Jaxson Hayes is not the current third best player in this class. However, he has easily the second most potential (behind Zion of course) in this class. Part of Jaxson’s intrigue is the relative newness to high level basketball (two years) and youth. He is a physical freak of nature with an insane amount of coordination and nimbleness which leads me to believe he has switch potential. Hayes is very long, a good rim runner, and vertical spacer with glimpses of ball handling and shooting. There’s a lot of projection going on with Hayes and it really depends on if a team believes they can get him to reach that potential. His floor is still an NBA player, even if a bench player based off of his athleticism and body alone.
- Coby White starter
Coby White is a quick, 6’5” combo guard prospect who has shown the ability to take and make pull up three pointers at a good clip. White may not have traditional measurables for a lottery prospect and certainly isn’t the most amazing vertical athlete but he makes up for this in speed and quickness. He tries on defense which can not be said about the other top guard prospects. Coby has shown good finishing ability around the basket showing the ability to contort his body in the air for some acrobatic finishes.
- Kevin Porter Jr. Scorer
Porter is the biggest boom or bust prospect in the draft. He could outperform his draft spot drastically and be one of the league’s premier scorers or join the ever growing group of players with all the potential in the world that just couldn’t put it all together. Porter takes some extremely head scratching shots at times and has questionable feel. Something of note is that Porter rarely makes a move to the basket to take advantage of his athleticism to get to the rim and finish.
Most of the time he’s making moves backwards such as step backs and falling in love with long mid range Js instead of putting more pressure on the defense by attacking. As the season went on, Porter showed a lot of promise as an on-ball defender and passer just as people were starting to sour on him as a lottery talent. Porter has a truly great scoring package with an explosive first step, ball on the string handle, and signature step back. All of this paired with his shooting ability should make teams want to take a bet on Porter.
- Talen Horton-Tucker Potential scorer
Talen is already very strong even by NBA standards with a long wingspan (can you sense the Magic salivating?) He is not the most athletic player mainly due to his weight and I believe he has a lot of latent athleticism if he ever cuts down on the weight. He is a good defender with the ability to switch onto players much bigger than him do to his Herculean strength. He hasn’t made a lot of threes but has shown that he can hit them off the dribble when hot. Talen was the best perimeter finisher in the country this season displaying a lot of body control, acrobatic finishes and converting and-ones. High risk, high reward prospect.
- Matisse Thybulle high impact defender, role player
Everyone agrees that Thybulle will be a great defender at the next level both on and off ball (on ball defense popped before the zone was implemented) due to his all time great stock numbers and quick feet and plus length. The problem people run into with Thybulle is projecting his offense which I am fairly optimistic about. Thybulle hasn’t had his best shooting year however, he has been a well above average shooter for most of his college years and showed promise as a shooter when playing off of them undisputed #1 guard prospect, Markelle Fultz. He also flashes ball handling and if a team believes he has an avenue to become a positive offensive player he could possibly warrant a top ten selection.
- Chuma Okeke 3&D, role player
Chuma is a 6’8 wing out of Auburn. Okeke tore his ACL during the NCAA tournament this season and should still return to his former self. There is always risk involved with injuries of this nature, but we’ve seen players return from an ACL tear without missing a beat. Okeke is a big wing with great off ball defense and an avenue to become a positive on ball defender. He has a high IQ, great feel, and is a legitimately good passer for his size. He is also a very solid shooter and should contribute to winning from day one. There are concerns about how quick his feet are and that should be monitored when projecting his individual defense.
- DeAndre Hunter 3&D, role player
Hunter vs Okeke was a tough choice to make considering they are similar prospects in a broad sense. Hunter is likely to get drafted top ten and I understand the reasoning. Hunter is a long, strong, 6’8 forward with great lateral quickness which is a highly coveted archetype in today’s league. Okeke and Hunter are different in the sense that Hunter is an elite on ball defender that will give four of the five positions hell (should he bulk up). Off ball Hunter lacks the awareness, feel, instincts and aggressiveness to become a good off ball defender which is apparent when looking at his stock numbers which are low even for Virginia prospects, considering his size and length. I’m extremely pessimistic about Hunter’s offense and can only see him as a spot up shooter at the next level that ultimately made me put Okeke over him.
- Jontay Porter potential two way center, high impact offensive five
If healthy, Jontay would have been a top 5 prospect on my board. His combination of size, skill, and age make him a player I would bet on in the modern NBA. I believe he has latent athletic ability due to his “thickness” and once he loses the baby fat and gets in an NBA gym we will see an increase in his athleticism. He is a highly positive passer and a player who as a center should have some shooting gravity. He has the handle to bring the ball up the floor and initiate offense. This Nikola Jokic, Draymond Green type of big is extremely rare and highly valuable in today’s league. The injuries are what keep him out of the top 5 for me.
- Cam Reddish 3&D, avenue for more.
I will preface this with saying I was and still am extremely optimistic about Cam Reddish’s basketball career. However, I cannot ignore the lack of production he had in an optimal environment and role he had at Duke playing third fiddle to RJ and Zion. I am confident he will be a good defender and that he will shoot. He flashed ball handling and vision throughout the season, but his lack of athleticism really limits him as a creator. I still hold out hope that he can reach the star potential he showed in high school.
- Bol Bol Floor spacer, rim protector
Bol is one of the highest ceiling prospects in this class and should provide some value even if he does not live up to that potential. Offensively, Bol is one of the best shooters in this class. He has showcased shooting off the dribble, and off the catch and at 7’3” that is quite the skill set. My problems with Bol arise when watching him on defense where he doesn’t stand a chance against NBA centers or in the pick and roll. There is an avenue where he outplays his slot on my pre-lottery big board significantly where he is just so long that his defense is passable.
- Romeo Langford likely bench scorer
Langford is a prospect that I was high on in the preseason. He is an extremely good finisher around the rim showcasing some great touch which makes me optimistic about his potential as a shooter. I feel as though he’s a few small adjustments away from being a serviceable shooter. Langford has solid size and athleticism which helps him as a positive player on the defensive end.