Here is my final big board for this year’s NBA Draft which takes place tonight. This new big board displays just how much some prospects have fallen or risen by the “+” or “-“ next to their name. Also, I’ve added “tiers” to this board to showcase the different levels of talent I believe exist in this draft. Note: the titles of each tier are not predictions of how good these players will be in their rookie season. Rather, they are how good I think each player will be for the majority of their careers. Enjoy!
Tier 1 – Perennial All-Stars
1. Zion Williamson, Forward, Duke
I’m all in on Mr. Williamson. Yes, we all know he is a hulking behemoth who can jump out of a gym. However, he is so much more than that. Combining that athleticism with his endless motor and defensive potential easily makes him the best overall prospect since Anthony Davis in 2012.
Zion Williamson's 62 dunks at Duke!
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) May 14, 2019
As far as weaknesses, his mechanics on his jump shot are still funky and he doesn’t get much lift underneath him when he shoots. He also needs to add a few more offensive moves into his game besides that Julius Randle spin move (which is very effective). But these are still nitpicks. Williamson actually shot better than his other talented teammates last season and his current offensive moves are borderline unguardable. Who knows just how good Zion will be, but he is a once in every decade type of talent. He is the prize of this draft.
Tier 2 – Good NBA Players, All-Star Potential
2. Ja Morant, Point Guard, Murray State
I think there is a clear second-best player in this draft, and that title belongs to the best college player from the state of Kentucky last season. Morant is an uber-athletic point guard and an elite playmaker. “Skinny John Wall” is actually a relatively close comparison. He is in the mold of De’Aaron Fox from a body-build perspective, but I think his game is closer to that of a healthy Wall due to Morant’s flashiness.
Ja Morant comparison breakdown from today’s NBA Draft Combine show. pic.twitter.com/O8OLfdnth9
— Mike Schmitz (@Mike_Schmitz) May 17, 2019
While that is certainly high praise, Morant is not the generational prospect that Williamson is. His weaknesses are much more apparent. Morant needs to refine his jump shot as well, but more importantly, he is just straight-up bad on defense. This will make him a liability against the several great point guards in the league today. Despite those critiques I do think his complete offensive game makes him a guaranteed non-bust at the next level.
3. Jarrett Culver, Shooting Guard, Texas Tech
Many say this is a three-player draft. I just don’t see it that way. Many scouts have Duke’s R.J. Barrett here and for good reason. However, I think the more complete player is Texas Tech’s Jarrett Culver.
Jarrett Culver's offensive skill set is real enticing, man. pic.twitter.com/9xeVjSNJ6e
— ? (@LifeOfABruin) May 15, 2019
Culver is easily the better shooter, arguably the better playmaker, has a better personality on the court, and is the better defender. While I’m not sure just how high his “ceiling” really is, I think his bust potential is smaller than any other player on this board. Culver also carried the Red Raiders all the way to the championship even while being the guy every team concentrated on. His role will be dependent on the team that is smart enough to pick him, but Culver is going to be good at whatever is asked of him at the next level.
4. R.J. Barrett, Guard/Forward, Duke
Before the college basketball season started, I had Barrett as the best player in this draft. I still really like his overall talent level despite him falling to No. 4 on this list. I actually think his greatest attribute is his play-making ability. Barrett brought the ball up the court many times for Duke and made some outstanding passes for his teammates. He has the ability to make those around him better.
— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) May 15, 2019
However, there are two big questions facing him. The first being his three-point shooting. For a guy that shoots a lot of 3’s, he is not very good at it which is a problem in a league that has made a shift to that style of play. But the biggest problem I have with Barrett is his inclination to play hero-ball at the end of games. Barrett can become an all-star in this league. However, if he doesn’t fix his shot and that over-alpha mentality then he could be someone that no one likes to play with.
5. Brandon Clarke, Power Forward, Gonzaga
I have zero idea why more scouts do not have this guy higher on their boards. Clarke was easily the most underrated player in college basketball this season. Not only did he average 17 ppg and 8.6 rpg, but he also was fifth in the entire sport in blocks per game (3.8). He is an incredibly explosive athlete who is already an elite-level defender because of his timing in blocking shots.
The only thing holding him back from being higher on my board is that his midrange jumper needs more work for a guy that is just 6’8. Its “alright” right now, but it needs more consistency in order to make him a good offensive player at the next level. Worst-case scenario I see him being a Kenneth Faried-type at the in the league due to his high motor and competitiveness, but he has the potential to be much, much better than that.
Tier 3 – Starters, Valuable Role Players
6. Nassir Little, Forward, North Carolina
From here on out, I think there is huge drop off as far as guaranteed “good picks.” I’m confident that the top 5 players here will be good NBA players, but after that….oh boy. Good luck finding a player with true star power. That’s just how the draft is this year.
This leads me to put Little here at No. 6. This is pretty controversial as some scouts truly hate him and won’t touch him with a ten-foot pole. The reason is that at times for UNC he seemed genuinely uninterested in playing hard when it didn’t matter. This is a huge red flag. However, when he is engaged like he was in the NCAA Tournament, Little is easily the best one-on-one defender in this draft. I see him right now as Jaylen Brown of the Boston Celtics. At such a young age with an NBA ready body, Little is worth his bust risk. Either he turns into Stanley Johnson, or his offensive game improves and he turns into a poor man’s Kawhi Leonard. In this draft, that makes him my sixth best prospect. Always. Gamble. On. Defensive potential.
UNC forward Nassir Little drains 6 corner threes in a row to finish a drill. He drained 9 in a row later and Bradley Beal motioned throwing his towel in support from the sidelines. pic.twitter.com/HxzOjSBC8T
— Hoop District (@HoopDistrictDC) June 17, 2019
7. Goga Bitadze, Center, KK Mega Bemax / Georgia (International), +1
Yes, I know you probably just said “Huh?” out loud when you read off that name, but trust me on this one. Goga is the best international prospect in this draft despite what others may say. You actually have seen him play before! Kentucky played Mega Bemax in the Bahamas if you remember. They were supposed to be the hardest team the Wildcats played on the trip because everyone knew how good Bitadze is. However, he got in foul trouble and only played limited minutes which is a huge reason why UK looked like a championship team winning 100-64. His fundamentals in the low-post are just incredible. He has great overall length, and his consistency down low is a great marker for success in the NBA.
Defensively, Goga uses his length and great anticipation to be a real shot-blocking threat. There aren’t many weaknesses in his overall game. Of course, International prospects can be very hit-and-miss so that is a concern. As for me, I freely admit the most I’ve seen from him is from YouTube highlights. Also, he looks really slow even for a player of his size. But man, was I impressed with what I saw. I think Goga is a starting two-way center in this league, and in this draft that’s easily a top-10 pick.
8. Jaxson Hayes, Center, Texas, +2
Meet the newest, super talented rim-running big guy in the NBA. Hayes is a naturally gifted athlete who has the length to go up against any player in the league. His biggest strength is that his hands are outstanding. He is a natural lob catcher and has the power/athleticism to slam everything he gets his hands on.
In 2019, Jaxson Hayes shot 85.4% at the rim on 123 attempts. Since 2008, that's the third most efficient season at the rim (min 100 attempts) behind 2012 Anthony Davis and 2018 Doral Moore. He's obviously raw but his rim finishing+ft% give some hope for shooting upside. pic.twitter.com/qyGFnXfGms
— Ben Pfeifer (@Ben_Pfeifer_) May 14, 2019
As far as weaknesses, he needs to improve on his fundamentals. His low post moves are…not great! But in a pick-and-roll situation teams have to account for him or its going to be an automatic lob every time. He is getting a lot of comparisons between Clint Capela and Jarrett Allen. That’s probably what he will be at the high point of his career, but he has to improve a lot before he gets to their level. His talent does justify a top-10 pick. He moved up two spots from my last big board simply because I found more flaws in other prospects. Hayes just doesn’t have as many red flags for me.
9. PJ Washington, Power Forward, Kentucky, +2
Welcome to my Top 10 PJ!! I’m not going to spend too many words on this guy, because at this point we all know his strengths and weaknesses. Washington works great as a stretch-four because of his ability to hit threes. Also, his competitiveness is going to be something that teams love. I moved him up two spots just because few other players in this draft play as hard as he does. However, this is probably as high as PJ should go. He is still a little undersized despite his impressive wingspan, plus his offensive game is too basic at the moment. I’m not sure how his career will pan out, but at the very least he will be an invaluable role player.
10. Jontay Porter, Center, Missouri, +2
Let the hate rain down on me for this one. I don’t really care. Yes, Porter has torn the same ACL twice in the past 8 months. This will surely be the point of much controversy in this draft. To say he is an injury risk would be an understatement. In a very deep draft I would normally have Porter outside of my top 20. I never like to bet on injury risks.
However, this is not a deep draft and Porter is not your usual prospect. I think he is the most talented basketball player at the center position in 2019. He is a perfect fit in today’s NBA. He has a very good three-point shot, and he is an effective shooter from distance. Also, he is an AMAZING passer who has incredible basketball IQ. I honestly believe that if he was completely injury free, he would universally be considered as a top-three prospect in this draft. But “if” is not the reality here. Even if he stays injury free from now until the end of his career, who knows if he is the same player now. It’s a huge risk, but I think his talent is totally worth it. I just can’t keep him out of my top ten.
Jontay Porter has stepped out of older brother Michael's shadow to help lead Mizzou to the NCAA Tournament. pic.twitter.com/4U0vIbH6UZ
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) March 16, 2018
11. Romeo Langford, Shooting Guard, Indiana, +11
Langford is the highest riser from my previous big board. I originally had him at No. 22 because his jump shot needs a ton of work, and he has an extremely strange on-court demeanor. He never shows any emotion, and at times he doesn’t play that hard. These were huge turnoffs for me, but after some hours of film study and learning more about him, it made sense. For one, he had to battle through a bad thumb injury on his shooting hand. That explains his shooting woes. Plus, he played in a truly terrible Indiana system which did not use him adequately on defense. This explains why Langford at just 19 years-old seemed disinterested at times on the court. Langford is one of the best finishers at the rim in this draft, and I think his basketball IQ is actually underrated. This guy is going to be a bucket-getter in the NBA. Bet on it.
12. De’Andre Hunter, Forward, Virginia, +1
I’m a bit low on Hunter compared to the majority opinion, but I do not think he will be a bust at all. In fact, he is one of the safest picks in this draft. He will be a role-playing, three-and-D player from day one in the league. He is a pretty good shooter, and he is a good defender. His length on the wing makes him able to guard multiple positions.
However, he doesn’t have much potential at all to be a star in the league. I don’t take well to players who don’t make those around them better. Hunter’s passing/play-making ability is not good, and he is too much of a blunt-force object on the court. In other words, he got away with a lot in college that he will not get away with in the NBA. Also, he is not a good finisher around the rim. If you want to take a wing, Culver, Barrett, and Little are all better prospects even if they aren’t sure things. I think that Hunter will be too average to justify a high selection in this draft.
13. Cam Reddish, Forward, Duke, +6
Reddish is probably the second most polarizing prospect in this draft. Either scouts think he is Paul George or an absolute bust. I find myself falling in the middle. I think he will be a truly great shooter even if he disappointed in college. But Reddish is a terrible finisher at the rim, and he also doesn’t make anyone around him better. The star potential is there, but I see him playing more of a prime Harrison Barnes-type of role in the league. Overall, he made a leap on my board because while I don’t see a star, I certainly don’t see a bust. Now, please enjoy this clip of Anthony Edwards talking with Tyrese Maxey (among others) on how Reddish was the hardest player he ever had to guard (language warning):
Yall keep sleeping on Cam Reddish he continues to fall down draft boards. Culver and Hunter are mentioned ahead of him in most mock drafts ?? you got to be kidding me!! Just listen to the young boys….
Fyi: This is Trendon Watford, Anthony "Ant Man" Edwards and Tyrese Maxey. pic.twitter.com/FlLnhf16UD
— Derik Williams (@coach_srt) May 16, 2019
14. Coby White, Point Guard, North Carolina, -5
White is basically a 6’5 version of Ty Lawson. It sounds good in theory, but don’t forget that as an NBA player Lawson never played at an all-star level. I see a similar ceiling for White. He is incredibly fast and plays at a blistering tempo. He is a very good shooter and a good passer. His defense is just “fine” but it’s definitely not a weakness.
The problem with White is that he gets too out of control sometimes and misses easy reads on the offensive end. This is the biggest reason why Ashton Hagans ate him alive when Kentucky played UNC back in the winter. In theory, this seems like an easy problem to fix, but it really isn’t. Understanding tempo is an incredibly hard thing for point guards to grasp in the moment. I think he will have a decent career in the league. He fell from my last board because I just don’t see that much star potential here. I see a “fine” NBA player who will be over picked because of teams needing a point guard.
15. Chuma Okeke, Power Forward, Auburn, Previously Unranked
Right here, ladies and gentlemen, is why film study matters. I originally wrote off Okeke because of his recent ACL injury, and people were not really talking about him at the time. Then I heard the whispers. “Okeke is the steal of this draft.” “Okeke is the next Al Horford.” “Okeke is a championship piece.” So, I gave him an honest look and I was very surprised with what I saw. He is a great power forward in today’s game. He has ideal size and length, he has a good three-point shot, and he is a good defender. His stats aren’t amazing because he is a great teammate and will play any role any team asks of him. Knowing he will miss a lot of his rookie season may hold teams back, but it shouldn’t. Honestly, I may have him a little low.
Chuma Okeke ??
The bench reaction ?? pic.twitter.com/P0GpuroBMU
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) January 12, 2019
16. Darius Garland, Point Guard, Vanderbilt, -9
At the point guard position, I think Garland is the best shooter in this draft. His release is incredibly quick and natural. His handle is elite, and while he is a shoot-first PG he is still a decent passer. Similar to Reddish, I think Garland has unmistakable potential as a three-point shooter.
However, he fell eight spots from my first big board because he is way too raw of a point-guard prospect. Against extremely weak competition in limited college playing time he had more turnovers then assists. That sentence alone makes a Garland selection in the top-5 complete lunacy, but it will probably still probably happen. Film study proves that his frail frame warrants real injury concerns, and his low athleticism makes him a bad finisher as well. Shooting will keep you relevant in this league, but I’m failing to see a lot of the hype with Garland.
17. Grant Williams, Power Forward, Tennessee, +3
Williams may admittedly be a bit high here as he is very undersized for the league at his position which worries me. Some see Draymond Green in him due to his playmaking ability which is enticing. However, he is not as good as a shooter as Green (who isn’t a good shooter for GSW), and Williams is not a great ball-handler. But he plays incredibly hard and is a good playmaker. I see him as a high-effort role player who will probably be a starter in the prime of his career.
18. Sekou Doumbouya, Forward, Limoges CSP / France (International), +7
This was one of my toughest evaluations. Sekou will be lottery pick, make no mistake about it. However, nothing really jumps off the page with him. He is “solid” all over the court and has good defensive potential. I think there is very little difference in this draft between picks 6-18 so he got the bad end of the stick. I just think everyone else is better. Doumbouya got a nice bump in my final big board here because I originally missed out on just how special of an athlete he is. Sekou has the potential to be unstoppable in transition.
Tier 4 – Simple Role Players, Fifth or Sixth Best Player on Most Teams
19. Nicolas Claxton, Point Center, Georgia, Previously Unranked
Time to get wild. Claxton is one of the guys that made doing this final big board worthwhile. Like Okeke, I started hearing a lot of chatter with Claxton around the time of the NBA Combine. After doing my due diligence, I saw what all the hype was about. Not only is Claxton a high-character guy, but he has a very unique skillset. Since he was playing on a bad Georgia team, coach Tom Crean often put the ball in Claxton’s hands as the primary ball handler. Yupp, that’s how talented Claxton is at 6’11. He has great length and athleticism. His jump shot is NBA ready as well. With his high motor and improvements made to his fundamentals, Claxton has a real shot at being a legit two-way starter in the league. If you are mad at me for putting him over Johnson and Herro, don’t forget what Claxton did against Kentucky.
20. Carsen Edwards, Point Guard, Purdue, Previously Unranked
The entire NBA community is sleeping on Mr. Edwards. It’s like NBA scouts are inclined to stay away from liking upperclassmen who had wildly successful college careers. Edwards is a natural big-time shot maker with limitless range. The big knock on Edwards is that he is “too short” and “too unathletic.” Uhmmm….did these scouts not watch Edwards last season?? I’ll let the following speak for itself.
I think Edwards has very sneaky star potential. If anything, I may be too low on him. The only thing holding me back is that he needs to improve a bit as a passer. He had to carry Purdue so much last season (i.e. that 42-point Elite Eight performance) that his abilities as a passer took a bit of a hit. While he has more star potential than White and Garland, Edwards does have more bust potential as well. I think that along with Okeke and Claxton (and Porter) that he will be one of the steals of this draft.
21. Jalen McDaniels, Forward, San Diego State, -7
Yes, this is the brother of Jaden McDaniels who just recently spurred Kentucky for Washington. McDaniels will most likely not be picked this high, but I do think he is a first round talent. At 6’10 he has the skills of a slashing shooting guard on offense, and a lockdown small forward on defense. That sentence alone should be justifiable for a first round pick.
I've always believed Jalen McDaniels should focus on being a wing at the NBA level, and developing his handle is key for that. Excellent display of ball handling here; the between the legs cross leaves Hernandez in the dust pic.twitter.com/3ah1BRvM2b
— Ben Pfeifer (@Ben_Pfeifer_) May 19, 2019
Like Jaden, he is painfully skinny and will need to add a lot of muscle to that skinny frame. Plus, his fundamentals have to get better as well. He is pretty raw as a prospect. But he also plays really hard and had a great showing at the combine last month. This is the type of prospect you take a risk on and most likely will benefit big time for it. I don’t care that he played for a small school. Despite being really raw (which is why he dropped on my board) this guy absolutely deserves a first round selection.
22. Keldon Johnson, Guard/Forward, Kentucky, -4
I really like Johnson’s overall game. However, he finds himself all the way at No. 22 because he just didn’t show enough down the stretch of the season. He projects as a two-way player due to his improved shot and defensive potential. His motor could totally make him the fifth or sixth best player on a championship team. However, he fell four spots here because there isn’t any one thing he is truly good at. This is a bit of a red flag to me.
23. Tyler Herro, Shooting Guard, Kentucky, +4
Before everyone starts going crazy over me ranking Herro this low, know that I do think he is a good basketball player! In fact, I think I was a bit too low on him originally, thus the nice bump up to No. 23. However, I just don’t think he does anything particularly “great” on the basketball court. Yes, that even goes for his shooting. I think he is a good shooter, but his overall consistency needs to improve as he is too streaky right now. The Devin Booker comparisons MUST stop. That’s an injustice to Herro. He needs to improve upon his frame, and he needs to work on his ball handling more. He could be very good, but I see him as a serviceable role player in the league. His spunkiness and competitive attitude will keep him in the NBA for a long time.
24. Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Guard, Virginia Tech, -7
As it turns out, the cousin of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander plays a lot like him. He can play either the 1 or the 2 as he has a good jump shot and is already an elite passer. Plus, he is a solid defender. NBA athleticism is just not there for him, however. He could be a steal as a role player, but there is very little star potential with him. Even with being a good shooter in college, his jump shot is very unorthodox which could lead to some problems in the pros. Alexander-Walker is nowhere near as good as Gilgeous-Alexander was coming out of college, and additional film study proved that to me.
25. Bol Bol, Center, Oregon, -4
I dislike Bol so much as a prospect that I have bumped him down four more spots. Yes, I know that he can really shoot the ball at 7’2 like Kristaps Porzingis can. However, Bol has nowhere near the drive or motor that Porzingis does. Plus, at only 208 pounds his frame is not one that’s built for the NBA. I haven’t even gotten to the serious foot injury he just recently sustained. I think Bol may be a bust, but the potential is for sure worth a late first round pick. I think his stats are also grossly inflated after only playing a few games against mostly bad competition. Here is a perfect video that puts the Bol conundrum perfectly.
26. Talen Horton-Tucker, Shooting Guard, Iowa State, -10
Horton-Tucker is a very strange prospect as his 6’4, 233 pound frame for a guard makes him very unique. However, he is a very crafty offensive player who can hit 25-footers with ease. He has the ability to also guard forwards with his wide size. A promising role player for an average team. Further scouting showcased that Horton-Tucker at No. 15 was far too high for him. That would suggest that he has considerable star potential, and I think he was too inefficient on the court to warrant that hype.
27. Cam Johnson, Small Forward, North Carolina, Previously Unranked
If this draft took place a decade ago, then I think that Johnson is a lock for the second round. However, basketball has greatly changed since then. There is such a concentration on three-point shooting now a days, and shooters are in high demand. Look no further than Johnson. I think he is straight up the best shooter in this draft. Period. However, his frail frame gets him banged up a lot, and I’m not sure what else he can do on offense at the next level besides shoot jumpers. This is the perfect guy to pick if your team is in dire need of a shooting specialist.
28. Matisse Thybulle, Washington, -2
Thybulle is a very strange prospect. His wingspan for a guard is ungodly which is why he was the best defensive player in the Pac-12 last year. That should translate to the next level pretty well. But man, does his offensive game stink. His maximum potential is as an energetic, athletic defender off the bench. There is a lot of improvement to be had here.
29. Kevin Porter Jr., Shooting Guard, USC, -13
This is what I originally wrote on Porter Jr.:
Porter Jr. is a boom or bust prospect. He has a great wingspan and plays a lot like James Harden due to his flashiness on the offensive end. However, things did not work out at all at USC which is a huge red flag. He has suspended in the middle of the season for off-the-court reasons. Who knows with this guy.
Well folks, let me be candid and concise here: I really don’t like Porter Jr. I sincerely don’t like to say this, but I believe way more in his bust potential than his star potential. Imagine if J.R. Smith was reincarnated into someone trying to be James Harden. That’s Porter Jr. I sincerely detest the way he plays. Sure, his highlight tape of his best plays is great. However, his red flags are incredibly apparent once one sees the full film. I’m respecting his talent by putting him in the top 30, but I wouldn’t draft him at all.
30. Darius Bazley, Forward, Sharonville (Ohio) High School, Previously Unranked
The last guy on my big board is admittedly a huge question mark. Bazley famously spurred going to play college basketball by instead going to the NBA G League, but he then decided not to go to the G League. Instead, he pulled a Mitchell Robinson and decided to spend the year training for this draft. Therefore, we are missing a large portion of Bazley’s film to scout from. We do know that he was a highly ranked recruit coming out of high school, and that he is a very athletic player. At 6’9 Bazley has a wingspan of over seven feet. Add that in with his impressive vertical leap and you have a freak of nature.
His impressive showing at the combine proved that he is not only a legitimate prospect, but that he is someone who is worth a gamble at the end of the first round. The biggest negative against him was that his frame was too frail for the pros. However, after spending a season training it seems that he has added significant muscle. No one has any idea how good Bazley is, but the talent is certainly there.
Stock Up: Romeo Langford, Cam Reddish, Sekou Doumbouya, Tyler Herro
Stock Down: Kevin Porter Jr., Talen Horton-Tucker, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Darius Garland, Jalen McDaniels
Just Missed Out: Daniel Gafford, Rui Hachimura, Luguentz Dort, Bruno Fernando, Naz Reid, Ty Jerome
New Faces: Chuma Okeke, Nicolas Claxton, Carsen Edwards, Cam Johnson, Darius Bazley
Fell Out: Daniel Gafford, Rui Hachimura, Naz Reid, Ty Jerome, Admiral Schofield