All stats are either from ESPN, Synergy Sports, or Basketball Reference
#1-New Orleans Pelicans: Zion Williamson (Duke University)-F
The consensus number one pick, Zion blew away the nation in his one year at Duke with thunderous dunks, incredible athleticism, and an overall great basketball skillset. Few believe that Zion will fail to succeed at the next level, with many people already crowning him the next LeBron. While many scouts believe the next step for Zion is developing a better, more consistent jump shot (and they are not wrong), I think something else will determine if Zion will go down as one of the greatest in his generation-his ability to pass, specifically out of the post. Talents such as LeBron and Giannis have made a living down around the basket, but what really makes them special is their ability to not only draw extra defenders, but to then find the open man. At Duke, Zion seemed to struggle to do this, albeit a small sample size. When Zion was doubled hard in the post, his team scored just .655 Points per Possession (PPP) as a direct result from Zion either shooting or passing to a teammate who shot (sample size-29 possessions). In “Post Up Player Passes”, Zion’s passes led to .613 PPP (31 possessions). Both of the numbers rank as either poor or below average, and while some of this likely has to do with Duke’s inability to shoot the ball consistently, some of it probably rests on Zion. NBA defenses are only going to get harder to read, but if Zion can learn to read them quickly and make on point passes, the rest of the NBA had better watch out. Not many questions concerning fit here. Zion is the obvious choice with the number one pick and the Pelicans should be able to successfully build around him.
Player Comparison: Charles Barkley (thanks Jim Boeheim)
#2-Memphis Grizzlies: Ja Morant (Murray State)-G
Morant dazzled in his two seasons at Murray State, especially this past year. When the nation wasn’t talking about Zion, it was wondering about the explosive guard from the Ohio Valley Conference. At first, Morant captured the hearts of basketball fans with his explosive dunks and athleticism. But as fans began to watch more of Morant, they saw a great all-around basketball player. Statistically, Morant’s numbers are off the chart. With an assist/turnover ratio of 1.9, Morant led country in assists. To go along with that, he averaged .989 PPP (94 possessions) in isolation situations and proved himself to be an elite scorer, shooting 51.1% from two, 46.1% from three, 79.6% from the line. There are some questions about the consistency of his shot, but his shooting percentages seem to suggest that he’ll have a smooth shooting transition to the NBA. The one stat that did catch my eye was the difference in guarded versus unguarded catch and shoot situations. Unguarded, Morant put up 1.385 PPP (26 possessions) in catch and shoot situations. Guarded, however, Morant put up just .789 PPP (19 possessions) in catch and shoot situations. It is a very small sample size and probably nothing to worry about, but a discrepancy that large was interesting to me. Morant’s biggest adjustment to the NBA will no doubt be defensively. Despite the difficulties of defending NBA guards, Morant has the quickness and the work ethic to become at least an average NBA defender. Combine that with outstanding offensive potential and the Grizzlies are getting a good one. Even with Conley at PG, Morant is the obvious choice and should become a franchise PG for the Grizzlies.
Player Comparison: Russell Westbrook
#3-New York Knicks: RJ Barrett (Duke)-G
A year ago, RJ Barret was rated as the number one player in the 2019 draft class. I don’t necessarily think that Barrett’s placement at number three means his stock has fallen or he does not have the same potential, it’s more of a testament to the incredible performances put on by Williamson and Morant this year. Even though they didn’t win the lottery, the Knicks should be thrilled to land a legit franchise level player in Barrett. RJ impressed in his lone season at Duke, although he also exposed some major flaws in his game. For starters, there is a huge discrepancy between his dominant hand and weak hand. In isolation drives, Barrett averages 1.138 PPP (29 possessions) going to his left, but only .674 PPP (43 possessions) going to his right. That disparity is not too uncommon for a college player, but if Barrett wants to be the star that he has the potential to be, he needs to be more consistent going right. Another hesitation regarding Barrett is his shooting. While he generally profiles as an above average shooter, the numbers actually tell a different story. In spot up situations, Barrett averaged just .898 PPP (29 possessions), which puts him in the 49thpercentile in the nation. He shot only 30.8% from behind the arc, a number that certainly does not jump off the page at you and only 66.5% from the free throw line. The free throw percentage really does bring some pause, as it is typically acknowledged that FT% in college is better than 3FG% in predicting NBA three-point success. As a finisher, Barrett already rates as elite, but if he wants to become the player he can be, he’ll need to develop a more consistent jump shot. Barrett is the obvious choice at three assuming that the first two picks go as planned. His star potential fits well in New York and should help attract free agents this summer.
Player Comparison: James Harden (not as prolific of a shooter)
#4-New Orleans Pelicans: Darius Garland (Vanderbilt)-G
Garland self proclaimed himself as “the best guard in the draft” and while he ranks behind Morant and Barrett right now, he certainly is in the conversation. The Vandy product played only six games before having his season cut short by a meniscus injury, but dazzled scouts when he was on the court. While he lacks the decision making necessary for an NBA point guard at the moment, Garland’s scoring ability, particularly off the dribble, is undeniable. In those six games, Garland averaged 1.348 PPP (23 possessions) on jump shots off the dribble. His generated an impressive 1.441 PPP (34 possessions) on all jump shots and is one of the best shooters in the draft. He doesn’t have too much defensive upside and should be limited to guarding just point guards, but his offensive potential makes up for it. He’ll have to become a better decision maker, but he’s already shown an elite offensive skillset that very few teenagers have. The Pelicans (or whoever ends up with this pick as it is likely to be traded on draft night) need to be careful to not overthink this pick. Garland is the best player available at four and at the top of the draft, teams should take the best talent. Things get a little complicated here, as the Pelicans aren’t expected to hold onto this pick. Whoever has this pick should take Garland though, as he has the greatest upside and is already fairly polished for a 19-year-old PG.
Player Comparison: Damian Lillard
#5-Cleveland Cavaliers: Jarrett Culver (Texas Tech)-G
Culver is one of the more interesting prospects in this draft to me. He saw his stock rise significantly this year at Texas Tech, especially in the NCAA Tournament, where he took the Red Raiders to the National Championship game. Culver is one of those players that does just about everything well, but doesn’t have a skill that jumps off the page at you. He’s best in transition, where he averaged 1.118 PPP (85 possessions) and has quite a nice isolation game, where he put up .95 PPP (101 possessions). However, he struggles as a shooter, something that is a must for a guard in the modern NBA. In unguarded catch and shoot situations, he averaged just 1.038 PPP (26 possessions) while posting just .84 PPP (50 possessions) in guarded catch and shoot situations. Culver does play great defense and also handles the ball well, allowing him to play second fiddle in starting lineups while leading bench units. He reportedly possesses an extremely strong worth ethic and has already shown improvement as a shooter since the season ended. He’ll be a strong combo guard wherever he lands up and if he can fix his shooting, could end up being an All-Star. I like how Culver might potentially fit with Sexton in the back court, but I also wouldn’t be surprised to see the Cavaliers trade this pick to move back. I don’t see them drafting White here so it should be Culver or Hunter assuming Garland is taken.
Player Comparison-Demar DeRozan
#6-Phoenix Suns: Coby White (North Carolina)-G
White saw his draft stock greatly improve during his one year at UNC. Thanks to the Tar Heels up-tempo offense, White averaged 16.1 PPG while shooting a smooth 50% from two, 35.3% from three, and 80% from the line. At his best, White resembles a Curry, Lillard type of player. He has incredible range and elite scoring skills, although his shot starts a bit low. His catch and shoot numbers, 1.5 PPP unguarded (52 possessions) and 1.2 PPP guarded (60 possessions) were some of the best in the nation. His decision making and passing could greatly be improved, although his 1.5 AST/TO ratio suggests it isn’t as bad as we think it is. Along with his decision making, the stat that will most define White’s career is his off the dribble shooting. At UNC, he struggled to shoot of the dribble, posting just .629 PPP (116 possessions). He really does have Lillard kind of potential, but still has quite a way to get there. Worst case scenario, White projects as a volume shooter who can help out with some ball handling duties. If the Suns don’t draft something resembling a guard this draft, it will be a failure. White seems like the obvious choice here, although I don’t think he pairs particularly well with Booker. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Suns try to trade up and get Garland at four. If Culver were to fall here, the Suns would likely take Culver over White.
Player Comparison- D’Angelo Russell
#7-Chicago Bulls: De’Andre Hunter (Virginia)-F
I’m a big De’Andre Hunter fan and think he fits into pretty much any team in the NBA. Hunter is one of those guys that is not necessarily off the charts great at anything, but does everything, and I mean everything, very well. De’Andre shot 55% from two, 43.8% from three, and 78.3% from the line this year. His elite defense was a huge contributor in Virginia’s title run and when it really counted, he was able to make clutch shots. An underrated isolation player, Hunter averaged 1 PPP (24 possessions) going right and .865 PPP (37 possessions) going left in isolation. He was rarely used as the primary option at UVA, but I think that further showcases his profile as a great second or third option. He doesn’t need the ball in his hands all the time and even when he’s struggling shooting, Hunter can affect the game in a variety of other ways. De’Andre reminds me a lot of Kris Middleton and his role in the Bucks system, and I think it’s pretty likely that he ends up reaching that potential. The Bulls have an interesting pick here. They’re in desperate need of a future PG and if White or Garland falls somehow, they should snatch him up. If not, I don’t think there is an obvious choice. Hunter appears to be the most logical choice, but I’ve heard rumors about Doumbouya here. I also wouldn’t be surprised if a team such as the Celtics traded up to take Hunter here.
Player Comparison: Kris Middleton
#8-Atlanta Hawks: Cam Reddish (Duke)-G/F
This time last year, Cam Reddish was consistently rated as a top five prospect. After a pretty disappointing year at Duke where he saw his draft stock slip slightly, Reddish kept his name in the draft and still projects as a top ten pick. While Cam’s remarkable skill set and length make some scouts drool, I’m more cautious about his future in the NBA. His high ceiling is undeniable as he has the potential to be next in line in the elite small forward era. However, his inconsistency at Duke over the entire course of the season was troubling. Perhaps it was the difficulty of playing as the third option to RJ and Zion, but Cam never really looked comfortable at Duke. Even his best games showcased him as a relatively inefficient scorer. The numbers back it up too. In non-post-ups around the basket, Reddish averaged just 1 PPP (55 possessions), putting him in the 29thpercentile. His catch and shoot numbers, both guarded (.608 PPP-97 possessions) and unguarded (1.138 PPP-80 possessions) are very underwhelming. Simply just spotting up, he averaged .808 PPP (193 possessions). He struggled from the field the entire season, finishing with field goal percentages of 39.4% from two and 33.3% from three. His 77.2% from the line is encouraging and suggests that the shooting skills are there, he just needs to get more comfortable. Despite his skillset, I expect Reddish’s development to be a little slower than those drafted around him, mainly because I think he has some mental hurdles he needs to clear. Wherever he winds up, if Reddish can shoot more consistently, he should profile as a solid NBA starter in a couple years with All NBA-Potential further down the line. If Reddish falls here, which he likely will, he is the obvious choice for the Hawks. I personally think that Hunter would be a better fit with their offense as I think Reddish needs the ball too much to be effective, but Reddish should still fit well as a floor spacer and second option for Trae Young.
Player Comparison-Andrew Wiggins (Paul George/Jayson Tatum upside)
#9-Washington Wizards: Sekou Doumbouya (Limoges)
Doumbouya likely possesses the greatest physical gifts in the draft outside of Zion and his body is a general manager’s dream. Already an above average defender, Doumbouya has the ability to guard positions 1-4 and make a real impact on defense. His offense leaves a lot to be desired, but as an 18-year-old, he has lots of potential and lots of time to develop. Despite his physical gifts, he doesn’t have the greatest work ethic and there are questions about his effort level in games. Doumbouya should go to a team that is pretty far from contention to allow ample time to let him development. Despite being a likely lottery pick, I wouldn’t be surprised if he spends a little bit of time in the G-League during his rookie season. The Wizards should take a chance here on a high upside prospect and it will likely be Little or Doumbouya. I think Doumbouya projects a little better and has both a higher ceiling and higher floor.
Player Comparison: OG Anunoby
#10-Atalnta Hawks: Jaxson Hayes (Texas)-C
Jaxson Hayes knows his role and is pretty dang good at it. In his lone year at Texas, Hayes dominated in the paint, posting a 72.8% from two. He excelled in all scoring aspects of an old school big man posting 1.429 PPP (70 possessions) as a P&R roll man, 1.207 PPP (27 possessions) on post ups, and 1.581 PPP (117 possessions) on finishes around the basket that were not post ups. When he’s focused, Hayes is a very good defender, but he had some trouble staying on the court due to foul trouble. Right now, he’s a complete non shooter outside of the paint, not attempting a single three and only attempting three jumps shots all season. However, his free throw percentage of 74% suggests that there’s a decent stroke there that could be developed. As much as Hayes excels, he’s a surprisingly below average rebounder. If he’s able to develop his shot even a little bit, he could be a star. If not, he projects as a Clint Capela/Jarrett Allen type, still valuable players. If the Hawks hold onto this pick, it’s hard not to see them taking Hayes here. While I don’t like his rebounding numbers, I like Hayes’ offensive potential and a potential partnership with Young. If the Hawks receive a good offer for this pick though, they should trade it.
Player Comparison: Jarrett Allen
#11-Minnesota Timberwolves: Nassir Little (North Carolina)-F
Similar to Cam Reddish (although definitely not as talented), Little never really fit in his one year at UNC. He struggled early in the season and his minutes quickly dropped. After that, he was never able to find a rhythm. Little is one of the best athletes in the draft, with a great body and NBA athleticism. However, skill wise, Little leaves a lot to be desired. He’s a poor shooter, averaging just .727 PPP (77 possessions) on jump shots and he shot just 26.9% from behind the arc. His isolation game, where he posted an average of .688 PPP (32 possessions), is subpar and outside of his incredible athleticism, he simply didn’t impress much at UNC. He does rate as a good defender and his 77% shooting from the line is encouraging, but his main reason for being so high on draft boards is his athleticism and the potential he brings. He certainly has a high ceiling but also has a very low floor. Personally, I’m pessimistic about Little’s future in the NBA as most of the incredible athletes with little skill coming out of the draft don’t pan out. Minnesota will likely take a chance on a high upside prospect and should pick whoever the Wizards don’t take at nine. I’ve heard about Brandon Clarke here, but I personally think that’s a little early.
Player Comparison: Josh Jackson
#12-Charlotte Hornets: Rui Hachimura (Gonzaga)-F
Rui Hachimura had a fantastic career at Gonzaga and now looks to be the face of Japanese basketball in the NBA. Hachimura is more of an old school four, doing most of his work down low. He averaged 1.042 PPP (118 possessions) on post ups and balanced that with a respectable 1.042 PPP (48 possessions) in catch and shoot situations. Hachimura actually had a fair amount of success in isolation, where he averaged .873 PPP (71 possessions). His defense is solid, but nothing to write home about, and he’s not the greatest passer. However, he does project as a solid stretch four (41.7% from three) and should average double digit PPG down the line. The Hornets basically need every position and I think they go with a safer player like Rui here. Someone like Washington also wouldn’t surprise me.
Player Comparison: Wilson Chandler
#13-Miami Heat: Romeo Langford (Indiana)-G/F
Coming into his freshman season at Indiana, Langford was consistently projected to go in the top ten, sometimes in the top five. After playing through a thumb injury for most of the year, Langford saw his stock drop a fair bit, although still projects to go in the middle of the first round. Langford is known for his ability to create shots for himself and teammates, but also for his struggles as a shooter, and the numbers back up both. As the ball handler in P&R situations, Langford averaged .993 PPP (144 possessions). He complemented this with an outstanding .939 PPP (49 possessions) in isolation situations. However, he struggled to shoot the ball, finishing with just .83 PPP (176 possessions) on jump shots and a shooting percentage of 27.2% from three. His 72.2% FT shooting is encouraging, but his shot certainly has a long way to go. Like many other guards in this draft, Langford’s upside is sky high, but his floor is relatively low. Even if his shot doesn’t come around enough to make him into a star, Langford excels enough in the other aspects of the game to keep him in the league for a while. The Heat are in need of some elite guard talent and I think they try out Langford. The middle of this draft is fairly weak in guard prospects, but Langford was a top 10 talent a year ago.
Player Comparison: Zach Lavine
#14: Boston Celtics: PJ Washington (Kentucky)-F
After entering his name in the draft last year, Washington decided to pull it out and come back to Kentucky for his sophomore year and boy was it a good decision. I remember watching Washington in person for the first time this year and being amazed. He had completely changed his body and had clearly been putting work in the weight room of the summer. The improvement didn’t just stop there as Washington dominated the SEC with an improved jump shot (1.326 PPP on 86 possessions) and array of post moves (.901 PPP on 131 possessions). He now projects to be drafted in the middle of the first round and like Hachimura, looks to fit into the stretch four mold. Despite shooting 42.3% from three, Washington’s jump shot looked pretty flat at times and the 66.3% free throw shooting should give teams at least a slight pause about his future as a reliable stretch four. He’s a below average isolation player, posting just .75 PPP (32 possessions) and doesn’t create a ton of shots for others. While he has a high basketball IQ, he lacks the elite athleticism that many forwards around his draft range have. The Celtics need some more NBA ready forwards and I think Washington fits well as a stretch four in the second unit. I also wouldn’t be surprised if they include this pick in a package to move up. If the Celtics want to be really fun, they could take a swing at Bol Bol here.
Player Comparison: Paul Millsap
#15-Detroit Pistons: Tyler Herro (Kentucky)-G
As an avid Kentucky fan, I saw quite a bit of Herro this year, including five to six games in person. He reminds me of a cross between Devin Booker and Jamal Murray, although I don’t think he’s quite as a good of a shooter as either one. Still a strong shooter, Herro averaged .982 PPP (224 possessions) on jump shots and shot an amazing 93.6% from the line as a freshman. He has some difficulty finishing around the basket, where he posted just .98 PPP (49 possessions), although he did show a willingness to get more creative finishing with floaters and changes of speed as the season progressed. Herro rates as average defender, although I actually think he’s better than that, something that John Calipari believed too as he often put Herro on the opposing team’s best guard. One interesting stat on Herro is his success as a pick and roll ball handler, where he averaged 1.154 PPP (52 possessions), which put him in the 96th percentile. He definitely projects as a combo guard and I’m curious to see if the team that drafts him tries to develop him as a PG first, where his length would make his defense more of a factor and he would be one of the better shooters. The Pistons need some guard play, specifically shooting, and Herro provides that. Alexander-Walker could also make sense here, but I think Herro is a better fit.
Player Comparison: Jamal Murray
#16-Orlando Magic: Nickeil Alexander-Walker (Virginia Tech)-G
Alexander-Walker profiles as one of the better combo guards in this draft thanks to a strong sophomore season at Virginia Tech. Alexander-Walker proved to shoot the ball well at Tech, where he finished his sophomore season with 1.094 PPP (85 possessions) in guarded catch and shoot situations and 1.293 PPP (41 possessions) in unguarded catch and shoot situations. Although he’s not a very good isolation player, where he posted an averaged of .667 PPP (27 possessions), Alexander-Walker is excellent in transition, where he averaged 1.286 PPP (77 possessions). One aspect that should make him a little more appealing to teams is to take over PG duties when needed, as he has proved himself capable of running an effective pick and roll, averaging .839 PPP (161 possessions). Alexander-Walker doesn’t have much superstar, or even star potential, but should fit into a rotation quickly and become a reliable starter in time. The Magic also need guard play and will likely take whoever the Pistons don’t take. I also wouldn’t be surprised to see Brandon Clarke here either.
Player Comparison: Spencer Dinwiddie
#17-Atlanta Hawks: Bol Bol (Oregon)-C
Bol Bol is one of the most interesting draft prospects. He dazzled in nine games at Oregon, where he averaged 21 PPG and 9.6 RPG on 57% shooting from two and 52% shooting from three. Bol’s talent is undeniable, but his season was cut short by a stress fracture in his foot. Stress fractures can be tricky injuries, especially in the NBA, which is why many teams are being extremely cautious with Bol. Bol is this draft’s version of Michael Porter Jr. While he wasn’t the top projected pick prior to being injured like Porter was, Bol was a consensus top five pick when he was on the floor. The one interesting statistic that I found was his effectiveness as the roll man in pick and roll situations, where he averaged .8 PPP (15 possessions). This is likely just a factor of a tiny sample size as well as figuring out the pick and roll with Oregon guards early in the season. Every other statistic spoke glowingly to Bol’s unique talent and star potential. If the Hawks hold on to this pick and Bol is still available, they should take him. They basically got a lottery ticket from the Nets in this trade and should cash that ticket in for Bol. He could be the top five player they were supposed to draft before they got burned by the lottery.
Player Comparison: Kristaps Porzingis
#18-Indiana Pacers: Brandon Clarke (Gonzaga)-F/C
Clarke dazzled in his one year at Gonzaga, where he showcased his elite athleticism and rebounding abilities. He was one of the best finishers around the rim, shooting a fantastic 70.5% from two. Despite shooting 26.7% from three, Clarke averaged a modest .971 PPP (35 possessions) on jump shots. He’s a strong pick and role player, where he averaged 1.204 PPP (54 possessions) as the roll man and moves well without the basketball. He averaged 1.312 PPP in transition and 1.345 PPP on cuts. While his long-range shooting needs a lot of improvement if he wants to become a star, Clarke appears ready to contribute to his team as a backup center right away. Combine Clark’s high floor with his solid ceiling, and he should end up in the middle of the second round. I think the Pacers actually want to take a combo guard here, but their draft slot fits better in some kind of forward or center. Clarke seems like a good fit, but if one of the guards falls, they should take the guard.
Player Comparison: Kevin Looney
#19 San Antonio Spurs: Goga Bitadze (Mega Bemax)-C
Goga has blossomed in the past four years since moving to Serbia to focus on basketball. He has strong defensive instincts for a teenager and performed well in the EuroLeague and against FIBA competition. He has the skills of an old school center but has proven himself of stretching the floor like a modern NBA center. This past season, he shot 41% from behind the arc and has consistently improved his skillset since focusing on basketball. Bitadze is a high floor prospect who should fit in with most teams as a stretch five and should eventually become a starter. Bitadze fits perfectly with the Spurs and could develop into a cornerstone piece for them. Most mock drafts have Bitadze going to the Spurs here and I would be shocked if they picked someone else while he was still available.
Player Comparison: Al Horford
#20-Boston Celtics: Mfiondu Kabengele (Florida State)-PF/C
Kabengele showcased a vast array of skills at Florida State this year. He was excellent in a traditional big man roll, especially as a pick and roll roll man, where he averaged 1.281 PPP (57 possessions), and on the offensive glass, where he averaged 1.41 PPP (61 possessions). He also teased us with a little jump shooting ability, where he finished with 1.109 PPP (52 possessions) on jump shots and shot 36.9% from behind the arc. His 76.1% FT shooting suggests that his shooting should translate to the NBA and if it does, he fits in as a perfect stretch five. He didn’t attempt much isolation this past year and probably won’t look to expand his game there too much. His defense is solid, and he possesses good footwork and a good drive. I expect him to fit into a rotation pretty quickly, and he could eventually become a starting center for a team. Boston probably takes a swing at a center with a lot of potential here, landing either Bol Bol or Kabengele (it’ll be Bol if he’s still on the board). I’m a pretty big Kabengele fan and this should be a great pick for Boston, especially in a couple years after some development.
Player Comparison: Myles Turner
#21-Oklahoma City Thunder: Cam Johnson (North Carolina)-G/F
I’m pretty high on Cam Johnson, mainly because while defense is incredibly important, the NBA is a make or miss league. And boy does Cam Johnson make a lot of shots. Probably the best pure shooter in the draft, Johnson posted an incredible 1.311 PPP (219 possessions) on jump shots in his final year at UNC. What’s even more astonishing is his reverse split in guarded and unguarded catch and shoot situations. Johnson averaged 1.468 PPP (109 possessions) in guarded catch and shoot situations and 1.397 PPP (58 possessions) in unguarded catch and shoot situations. He averaged a solid .792 PPP (24 possessions) in isolation and posted a great average of 1.545 PPP (11 possessions) as the roll man in pick and rolls. Already 22 years old, Johnson doesn’t have great ball handling skills or elite defense. He will likely never be a star and probably won’t be an All-Star, but if you want someone who can knock down shots and provide you 12-16 PPP, Johnson is your guy. The Thunder should be looking for some wing play here to go along with George and Westbrook. They’ll likely draft one of the Johnsons (Keldon or Cameron). If they want immediate production, Cameron is their pick but if they want long term potential, they’ll probably take Keldon.
Player Comparison: Danilo Gallinari
#22-Boston Celtics: Keldon Johnson (Kentucky)-G/F
Johnson’s length and athleticism combined with his solid basketball skill allowed him to excel greatly at Kentucky. He’s an above average shooter and managed 1.043 PPP (47 possessions) in guarded catch and shoot situations match with an impressive 1.314 PPP (51 possessions) in unguarded catch and shoot situations. Johnson’s best skill is perhaps his rebounding ability as he has a unique nose for the ball and his length allows him to track down boards he should have no business getting. He doesn’t have a tremendous ability to create shots for himself or others and is at his best as a slasher. With Keldon’s physical gifts and basketball talent, I personally think he’ll have a long successful NBA career and should be a starter for most of his career. Boston should look to add to their wing/forward depth here with either one of the Johnsons or Okpala. I think they probably end up moving this pick to move up in the draft.
Player Comparison: Pascal Siakam
#23-Utah Jazz: KZ Okpala (Stanford)-F
While Okpala is most known for his defensive expertise at Stanford, his statistics suggest a stronger offensive game than he gets credit for. While he isn’t a great finisher, 1.092 PPP (153 possessions), Okpala is a strong catch and shoot shooter, finishing the season with 1.2 PPP (55 possessions). He’s sneakily good as a pick and roll ball handler, averaging .896 PPP (67 possessions) and could provide some ball handling relief despite his 6’10” size. He probably fits in best as a stretch four where he’s the third or fourth option on a team. Even if he doesn’t blossom into a great offensive player, his defense is good enough to keep him in the rotation somewhere in the league. The Jazz need some depth at forward and Okpala makes the most sense. His defense fits right in with Utah’s system and his shooting ability makes him an ideal fit with Mitchell.
Player Comparison: Trevor Ariza
#24-Philadelphia 76ers: Eric Paschall (Villanova)-F
Paschall entered his senior season as a likely lottery pick but after a disappointing year at Villanova, saw his stock drop. Paschall brings a lot of energy every time he steps on the court and has real NBA athleticism. He has a decent feel for the game, although his basketball IQ could definitely be improved. He averaged a solid .925 PPP (253 possessions) on jump shots this season and averaged 1.393 PPP (28 PPP) in unguarded catch and shoot situations. He doesn’t bring much in isolation and is best when he’s the fourth or fifth option. He’s an excellent cutter and averaged 1.444 PPP (27 possessions) on cuts this past season. With a respectable 34.8% shooting from three, Paschall figures to provide some quality bench play and shooting in the three and four slots. He could eventually transition into a starting role, but will likely never be the first or second option in an offense. The 76ers are reportedly after players that can help them next season and Paschall fits that mold. His solid shooting should help space the floor around Simmons and his high energy and athleticism should help him be productive defensively for them. I wouldn’t be surprised if they took a shooter like Windler here though.
Player Comparison: James Johnson
#25-Portland Trailblazers: Daniel Gafford (Arkansas)-PF/C
Similar to Jaxson Hayes, Daniel Gafford is a man who knows his role. As an active rebounder, Gafford averaged 1.278 PPP (72 possessions) on put backs. He excelled as a roll man, averaging 1.282 PPP (39 possessions) out of the pick and roll. While he shot 65.9% from two, Gafford didn’t attempt a single three all season and shot just 59.1% from the line. He has the physical skills to excel in the NBA, but I’m a little skeptical of his role in the development of the new NBA. I think he’ll probably come in and out of a rotation for a while before sticking somewhere. He certainly needs to improve his shooting if he wants to earn regular minutes. Even with the emergence of Zach Collins, the Blazers should be looking for some forward depth. If they want to take a riskier approach, I could also see them taking a swing at Kevin Porter Jr.
Player Comparison: Jordon Bell
#26-Cleveland Cavaliers: Luka Samanic (Olimpija Ljubljana)-F/C
Samanic is another one of the European prospects who has a very good all-around skill set. While he lacks a truly elite skill, he also doesn’t rate poorly in any skill. His ability to handle the ball comfortably and make an open shot makes him an interesting long term project for some team. He moves well and has good basketball instincts and should at worst fit into a rotation somewhere. He plays solid defense already and possesses the foot speed to cover multiple positions. I like the Cavaliers taking a chance here on Samanic. A high upside big like him is who they need and there isn’t really a clear cut option for them to take.
#27-Brooklyn Nets: Kevin Porter Jr. (Southern California)-G
Porter is another one of the interesting draft prospects in this draft. Despite his outstanding skill set, he mostly struggled at USC. Known for his ability to create his own shot, Porter averaged just .652 PPP (23 possessions) in isolation and just .93 PPP (57 possessions) in spot up situations. He was suspended at USC and missed time also for injuries, which may have affected his numbers. He actually shot well from the field, where he averaged 51.7% shooting from two and 41.2% shooting from three. However, he struggled mightily at the line, finishing the season with just 55.2% shooting, not exactly what you want to see from a guard prospect projected to go into the first round. Porter’s talent and upside are incredible, but his floor is also very low. He should come in as a late first round pick though to a team that needs some shot creation. Even with Russell already there and possibly Kyrie coming, the Nets should take a swing at Porter Jr. His ability to create shots for himself and others should help lead the second unit.
Player Comparison: J.R. Smith
#28-Goldern State Warriors: Dylan Windler (Belmont)-G/F
Although he’s one of the oldest players in the draft, Windler’s skillset, particularly offensive, should not be overlooked. He’s easily one of the shooters in the draft, averaging 1.339 PPP (171 possessions) in catch and shoot situations with a smooth left handed stroke. Despite projecting as a poor isolation player, Windler actually put up great numbers at Belmont, averaging 1.182 PPP (22 possessions) in isolation. That’s likely due to his small sample size as well as his relatively weak competition in the Ohio Valley Conference, but his isolation game is something that’s probably a little underestimated. Windler was one of, if not the best, cutter in the country, averaging an astonishing 1.62 PPP (79 possessions). He’s also a sneaky great rebounder, finishing the season with 10.8 RPG. Windler doesn’t have the quickness or athleticism to become a star in the NBA, but his shooting, rebounding, and cutting skills allow him to fit in virtually any NBA offense. I’m pretty high on Windler, and he probably doesn’t go this high, but something about him and the Warriors just makes sense. Besides being a great shooter, which the Warriors desperately need next season, Windler was arguably the best cutter in college and fits perfectly into the Warriors system. His nose for rebounding should also help a Warriors team that struggled to collect boards this past season.
Player Comparison: Bojan Bogdanovic
#29-San Antonio Spurs: Matisse Thybulle (Washington)-G
Despite all his offensive struggles, Thybulle is easily the best defender in the draft, which is why I think he’ll be picked late in the first round. He was a poor spot up shooter this past season, finishing with just .88 PPP (166 possessions). However, I think he can develop into at least a league average shooter. While he finished with just .719 PPP (64 possessions) in guarded catch and shoot situations, Thybulle finished with 1.333 PPP (45 possessions) in unguarded catch and shoot situations. His 85.1% FT suggests that he has solid mechanics and should improve his shooting over time. Even if he doesn’t though, his defense is good enough to make him stick in the league for a while (yes, it’s that good). If he’s still available, it’s hard to see the Spurs not taking Thybulle. He’s exactly what San Antonio looks for in prospects and his defense makes him playable from day one. The Spurs don’t need him to do much more than hit an open shot on offense, which he has proven an ability to do.
Player Comparison: Andre Robertson
#30-Milwaukee Bucks: Ty Jerome (Virginia)-G
Along with Kyle Guy and De’Andre Hunter, Ty Jerome led Virginia to their first title ever. While he lacks the athleticism showcased by other guards in this draft, Jerome’s length and basketball IQ makes up for it. Jerome is already an excellent shooter, averaging 1.654 PPP (52 possessions) in unguarded catch and shoot situations and 1.259 PPP (58 possessions) in guarded catch and shoot situations. Jerome also is known for being an excellent game manager and pick and roll player. Out of Jerome pick and roll passes, UVA averaged 1.124 PPP (169 possessions), a very high mark for a college player. Ty does struggle in isolation, where he averaged only .646 PPP (65 possessions), which is why his stock is not as high as it could be. However, Jerome’s game management and elite shooting should make him a first-round selections, where he’ll likely thrive as a backup point guard for a while before possibly making a transition into a starter role. The Bucks could use a backup point guard, especially if they let Hill go during free agency. Jerome has the length and game management skills to fit into the Bucks system. His above average shooting is the cherry on top and he should fit perfectly with the Bucks’ second unit.
Player Comparison-Landry Shamet