The Ringer's 2019 NBA 2019 Draft Guide

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with Scouting Reports by Kevin O’Connor

Welcome to The Ringer’s 2019 NBA Draft Guide. From now until June 20, this will be the hub for all of your NBA draft needs. It includes detailed scouting reports by Ringer staff writer Kevin O’Connor, and we’ll update it regularly in the coming months with Big Board rankings from our draftniks O’Connor, Jonathan Tjarks, and Danny Chau; commentary from Mark Titus, Rodger Sherman, and others; a constantly updated mock draft; and some new features we’re excited to share.

But first, to whet the appetite, we present a list of 15 key players to watch during March Madness. Let’s hope they’ll play deeper into the tournament than last year’s crop did.

Statistics are updated through March 19.

   
NCAA Players to Watch Updated 3.19
Team Needs Coming in May
All Draft Coverage Go to theringer.com
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ZION WILLIAMSON

Big

Duke

  • PTS 22.1 30.5 per 40
  • REB 8.9 12.3 per 40
  • AST 2.1 2.9 per 40
  • EFG% 71.7 352 FGA
  • STL 2.2 3.0 per 40
  • BLK 1.8 2.5 per 40
  • 3PT% 31.5 54 3PA
  • FT% 65.4 188 FTA
Main Selling PointMain Selling Point: Versatility and athleticism
Age18.7
Height/Weight6'7''/285
Wingspan6'10''

Gravity-breaking athlete with the all-around skill to be one of the league’s best superstars.

Shades Of: Charles Barkley, Blake Griffin, Julius Randle
PLUSES
  • Capable of running pick-and-roll as a ball handler; the team that drafts him can use him in virtually any role on offense.
  • A potential five-position defender with a rare combination of strength, agility, and anticipation skills; he can comfortably switch on-ball screens.
  • Zion’s explosive jukes and hop-steps are glitches in the laws of physics; a player his size shouldn’t be able to create separation the way he does.
  • A wrecking-ball finisher who can finish through and above contact; his size, athleticism, and ballhandling ability will lead to a lot of defensive fouls drawn.
  • Dangerous on dives to the rim via pick-and-rolls and handoffs; he can flush lobs like DeAndre Jordan or pass on the short roll like Draymond Green.
  • A smart, unselfish passer who thrives in transition; he lacks supreme vision, but his excellent rebounding and coast-to-coast ability are valuable tools.
  • Punishes smaller players on perimeter drives and post-ups. Has basic moves now, but displays the dexterity and body control necessary to improve.
  • An active and aware cutter who can exploit holes in defenses, even when they sag off him on the perimeter.
  • Hustles and plays with a winning mind-set: dives for loose balls, rebounds out of his area, and pursues chasedown blocks.
  • Defensive playmaker who alters shots and jumps passing lanes to spark transition chances, though in a pro system he’ll have to gamble less frequently.
MINUSES
  • Clunky spot-up shooting mechanics; he brings the ball to his set point too early, which hurts momentum into his shot. Also needs to kick his strange habit of jab-stepping before he shoots.
  • Developing a jumper off the dribble is the key to unlocking his full potential; he shoots the ball flat and looks uncomfortable even from the elbow.
  • Must learn how to change gears to minimize sloppy passes or out-of-control drives that lead to charges.
  • He can be predictable: He overuses the drop step on post-ups, and he rarely uses his right hand on shots near the rim. He needs a more diverse arsenal of moves on drives and post-ups.
  • Defensive awareness could use fine-tuning; often falls into upright stance, ball-watches, and misses help rotations.
  • Defensive discipline is lacking; though he makes explosive plays, savvy opponents will throw moves that make him leave his feet, or crash the boards when he overhelps.
  • With his size and explosiveness, health is always a question: He suffered a right foot bruise in high school that put him in a walking boot, sprained his MCL at Duke, and has been out of shape in the past.
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R.J. BARRETT

Forward

Duke

  • PTS 22.9 26.2 per 40
  • REB 7.5 8.6 per 40
  • AST 4.1 4.7 per 40
  • EFG% 50.9 635 FGA
  • STL 0.9 1.0 per 40
  • BLK 0.5 0.5 per 40
  • 3PT% 30.4 217 3PA
  • FT% 66.2 201 FTA
Main Selling PointMain Selling Point: Scoring
Age18.8
Height/Weight6'7''/202
Wingspan6'10''

Physically gifted scorer who’s won at every level, but needs to sharpen his raw skills to flourish in the pros.

Shades Of: Jalen Rose, alpha Andrew Wiggins, Harrison Barnes, Rudy Gay
PLUSES
  • Good athlete in space with smooth footwork who seeks contact on drives.
  • Dangerous ball handler who takes long strides and uses a bevy of herky-jerky maneuvers like Euro-steps and hesitations to get to the rim.
  • Effective shooter off the dribble from midrange: He’s comfortable transitioning into his shot, especially when driving left, and he’s flashed a slick stepback.
  • Good ball handler and passer for his size who can make any type of pass off the dribble. Though he’s not a pure playmaker, he can fit into any multi-ball-handler offense.
  • Excellent rebounder for his position; when he snatches boards, he’s a constant threat to go coast-to-coast.
  • Competitive defender at lower levels, especially playing for Team Canada. He has the physical profile to be a versatile defender with long arms and strong frame.
  • Team Canada has poured resources into his development; he has a strong work ethic, and a history of improvement suggests he’ll continue progressing.
MINUSES
  • He induces face-palms by forcing contested shots early in the clock, barreling into defenders instead of passing to open players, and attempting wild passes to bail himself out.
  • He rarely uses his right hand, as if it were tied behind back. It’s critical that he improve his off hand to diversify his shot-creation ability.
  • His lousy percentages from 3 and the line are alarming since he has good, consistent mechanics.
  • Lacks natural touch, an issue that is compounded by his diminished athleticism in tight space, which hinders his at-rim scoring.
  • Inactive off-ball player on offense: He rarely ever cuts or screens at Duke, though his athleticism and versatility could make him a potential threat down the road.
  • He’s a ball watcher off-ball who routinely misses defensive rotations; on-ball, he often falls out of his stance possibly due to a lack of interest, awareness, or energy.
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JA MORANT

Point Guard

Murray State

  • PTS 24.6 27.0 per 40
  • REB 5.5 6.1 per 40
  • AST 10.0 11.0 per 40
  • EFG% 55.3 501 FGA
  • STL 1.8 2.0 per 40
  • BLK 0.8 0.9 per 40
  • 3PT% 33.6 149 3PA
  • FT% 81.0 209 FTA
Main Selling PointMain Selling Point: Athleticism
Age19.6
Height/Weight6'3''/175
Wingspan6'7''

Athletic wonder and clever playmaker who needs to develop his jump shot and curb turnovers to unlock his true star potential.

Shades Of: Skinny John Wall, Donovan Mitchell, Dennis Smith Jr.
PLUSES
  • Electric passer who generates open space for teammates with speed and sleights of hand, and then accurately delivers the ball using either hand off the dribble.
  • Excellent shot-creation upside. He has a quick first step and uses slippery crossovers, spins, in-out dribbles, and changes of pace to create space.
  • Major potential as a transition threat with his handle, speed, and unselfish passing ability.
  • Touch from the line and around the rim suggests he could be a good shooter if he makes the necessary mechanical changes.
  • Terrific athlete who explodes for open-floor dunks and has the top-gear speed to zoom by defenders. Crafty finisher who absorbs contact well, though he still must get stronger.
  • Has the instincts of a role player, too: does the little things like cutting, rebounding, and facilitating within the flow of the offense.
  • Solid on-ball defender when he’s playing with intensity, which doesn’t happen often enough.
MINUSES
  • Too tricky with his dribble, forces passes into shutting windows, and is nonchalant making simple passes, all of which lead to avoidable turnovers.
  • Needs to overhaul his shooting mechanics: His release is too low and his elbow sticks out. The ball gets pushed from his forehead. He’s a natural lefty who shoots righty.
  • Must improve his right hand. Becoming more of a one-foot leaper would enhance his finishing, too.
  • Struggles shooting jumpers off the dribble largely due to his poor mechanics, which cause him to transition slowly into his release.
  • Motor and focus wane when defending off-ball, leading to backdoor cuts and open shooters. Is it due to his heavy offensive role, or is it for a lack of interest?
  • Narrow frame limits his defensive upside. He’s not someone who can switch onto larger players.
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JARRETT CULVER

Guard

Texas Tech

  • PTS 18.5 23.1 per 40
  • REB 6.3 7.9 per 40
  • AST 3.6 4.5 per 40
  • EFG% 53.4 444 FGA
  • STL 1.3 1.7 per 40
  • BLK 0.4 0.5 per 40
  • 3PT% 32.3 130 3PA
  • FT% 70.4 169 FTA
Main Selling PointMain Selling Point: All-around game
Age20.1
Height/Weight6'6''/195
Wingspan6'10''

Versatile wing who can fill myriad roles and has a lane to become a primary shot creator if his handle keeps improving.

Shades Of: Khris Middleton, Malcolm Brogdon, Jeremy Lamb
PLUSES
  • Intelligent player who moves well without the ball, fills lanes on the break, and plays hard.
  • Good straight-line driver who mixes in spin moves and finishes with either hand around the rim, though he must improve at finishing versus length.
  • Solid dribble-jumper shooter; comfortable taking side dribbles into 3s, pull-ups, and stepbacks, though his footwork will need to improve at the pro level.
  • Makes tough shots, especially from midrange. If those 2s become 3s, he could become an end-of-game scorer.
  • Flashes upside shooting off screens and handoffs, though his below-average free throw percentage and lack of touch on floaters are worrisome indicators for his actual shooting ability.
  • Unselfish passer who facilitates well within the system and can make plays off the bounce for others. Shows good feel with change-of-pace moves in the pick-and-roll.
  • Competitive rebounder who can initiate a fast break as a scorer or playmaker.
  • Versatile defender who can comfortably defend multiple positions and be relied on off-ball to make smart rotations and take calculated risks going for steals.
MINUSES
  • Stiff ball handler with an average first step. He lacks shake after his initial move, which forces him into a ton of tough shots.
  • Tweaked his shooting form to remove a hitch, though his slow and rigid release raises questions about his accuracy at the next level.
  • Takes far too many unforced midrange 2-pointers early in the clock.
  • Telegraphs too many passes and lacks accuracy, so at this stage he’s more of a secondary ball handler than a primary creator.
  • Limited ceiling as a defender: He has room to get stronger, but he still has a relatively lean frame, and he has only average lateral quickness against guards.
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CAM REDDISH

Forward

Duke

  • PTS 13.7 18.6 per 40
  • REB 3.7 5.0 per 40
  • AST 1.9 2.6 per 40
  • EFG% 45.5 407 FGA
  • STL 1.6 2.2 per 40
  • BLK 0.5 0.7 per 40
  • 3PT% 32.7 251 3PA
  • FT% 75.9 108 FTA
Main Selling PointMain Selling Point: Scoring upside
Age19.5
Height/Weight6'8''/218
Wingspan7'1''

Polarizing prospect who looks the part of a future star scorer, but his production leaves much to be desired.

Shades Of: Paul George, Rashard Lewis, bigger Ben McLemore
PLUSES
  • Wide upper body with a long wingspan that can support more muscle, though his hips are slender; added strength could improve some of his weaknesses.
  • Fluidity, size, and an array of ball-handling moves and hesitations enable him to hit pull-up perimeter jumpers that most players can’t.
  • Projects as a plus shooter off the catch due to his quick, high release. With his size, he could develop into a pick-and-pop threat.
  • Does a fine job of relocating off-ball and cutting, though the results aren’t great due to a lack of explosiveness inside and a streaky shot outside.
  • Good passer for his size: He’s adept at creating space and making reads in the pick-and-roll, though he’s had limited opportunities due to the presence of star teammates.
  • Switchable defender with long arms and quick hands to swipe at ball handlers; he defends on his heels too much, though, which hinders his lateral quickness.
  • Though Reddish underwhelmed at Duke, he accepted his role without any complaints, which bodes well for his ability to do what his future team asks of him.
MINUSES
  • Reddish doesn’t maximize his physical gifts. He’s long but takes short, choppy steps attacking the rim; he’s large, but avoids contact when driving or rebounding.
  • Loses balance on drives to the rim; he lacks coordination, slips and falls, and will fumble the ball even without pressure.
  • Settles too much for jumpers despite only appearing like a knockdown shooter; his mechanics look smooth, but he’s shot low 30 percent from 3 throughout his career.
  • Not an above-the-rim finisher in traffic, and he avoids using his off hand; converts on plays around the rim at a much lower rate than you’d expect.
  • Telegraphs too many passes; he plays a casual overall game, and needs to put zip on the ball to get it where he wants it to go.
  • Lacks discipline on defense: He falls for pump fakes, reaches too often, and gambles in situations when he should just play positional defense.
  • Defensive effort flutters too much; his mind-set could be the difference between becoming Paul George or Jeff Green.
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BRANDON CLARKE

Big

Gonzaga

  • PTS 16.5 23.9 per 40
  • REB 8.4 12.1 per 40
  • AST 1.8 2.6 per 40
  • EFG% 70.0 323 FGA
  • STL 1.2 1.7 per 40
  • BLK 3.0 4.3 per 40
  • 3PT% 28.6 14 3PA
  • FT% 69.1 136 FTA
Main Selling PointMain Selling Point: Defensive versatility
Age22.5
Height/Weight6'8''/215
Wingspan6'10''

A super-versatile defender who plays team-first basketball and has made encouraging progress on offense.

Shades Of: Paul Millsap, Pascal Siakam, Kris Humphries
PLUSES
  • Impressively logged as many blocks as missed shots during the regular season at Gonzaga.
  • Explosive leaper with soft hands to catch tough passes, and the ambidexterity and spatial awareness to finish in a crowd.
  • Good decision-maker. The type of player who plays “good to great” basketball by grabbing a rebound and locating an open teammate instead of forcing up a careless, contested shot.
  • Handles the ball well for his size; he can take rebounds and go coast-to-coast. He’s mostly a straight-line driver but likes using a spin move to his right.
  • Sets solid screens, and has good feel and timing on dives to the rim; with his passing and dribbling skill, he could be a weapon on the short roll.
  • Strong indicators that he will develop a perimeter game: touch on floaters, post fadeaways, hook shots, and midrange jumpers.
  • Plays his ass off. Makes the extra effort, attacks the offensive boards, dives for loose balls, and hustles back in transition.
  • Excellent shot blocker. He’s a fast-twitch leaper who perfectly times his jumps and uses the rule of verticality to alter shots without fouling.
  • Projects well as a pick-and-roll defender. Has the agility to hedge and help, and the recovery speed, anticipation, and switchability to take on wings and guards.
MINUSES
  • Unless he develops a spot-up 3, he’ll need to play like a center on offense, which could create matchup issues for his team.
  • Ideal role is small-ball 5, but a lack of length and strength will hinder his ability to defend larger elite bigs like Joel Embiid and Karl-Anthony Towns.
  • Underwhelming defensive rebounder given his athletic gifts.
  • Shooting upside is only theoretical: He overhauled his form after transferring from San Jose State to Gonzaga, but he still has rigid release and shoots a mediocre percentage from the line.
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DE'ANDRE HUNTER

Forward

Virginia

  • PTS 15.1 19.1 per 40
  • REB 5.0 6.4 per 40
  • AST 2.1 2.7 per 40
  • EFG% 58.8 319 FGA
  • STL 0.6 0.8 per 40
  • BLK 0.5 0.7 per 40
  • 3PT% 45.7 81 3PA
  • FT% 78.4 139 FTA
Main Selling PointMain Selling Point: Defensive versatility
Age21.3
Height/Weight6'7''/225
Wingspan7'2''

Unflashy 3-and-D forward who will translate in the NBA as a multipositional defender and reliable spot-up shooter.

Shades Of: Luol Deng, DeMarre Carroll, Jae Crowder
PLUSES
  • Good spot-up shooter who has a sense for relocating and cutting, though he should quicken his shooting release.
  • His shot creation has improved considerably; he can get to the rim on straight-line drives, make basic one- or two-dribble pull-ups, and face up from the post.
  • Good on-ball perimeter defender due to his notable combination of mass, length, and quickness.
  • Plays sound positional defense off-ball; he rotates well, minimizes mistakes, and has the bulk to neutralize rim runners when helping in the pick-and-roll.
  • Stout post defender due to strength, length, and strong base; he’s hard to overpower.
MINUSES
  • Average first step and handle limits his scoring upside.
  • While a good defender, he does tend to get smoked by quicker, explosive players—which he’ll see far more of in the NBA.
  • Unless he has space to gather, he’s a below-the-rim finisher who doesn’t finish well inside against contact or lengthy defenders.
  • Questionable feel for the game; he’s a ball stopper who makes delayed reads, though he has made significant progress as a passer each season.
  • Lacks defensive playmaking skill; doesn’t log many explosive plays in the blocks or steals columns though it’s partially a product of Virginia’s defense scheme.
  • Solid rebounder, though he’ll need to show more skill to excel in a small-ball frontcourt role.
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KELDON JOHNSON

Guard

Kentucky

  • PTS 13.5 17.6 per 40
  • REB 5.8 7.5 per 40
  • AST 1.6 2.1 per 40
  • EFG% 52.6 325 FGA
  • STL 0.8 1.0 per 40
  • BLK 0.2 0.2 per 40
  • 3PT% 38.8 103 3PA
  • FT% 70.5 146 FTA
Main Selling PointMain Selling Point: Effort
Age19.5
Height/Weight6'6''/211
Wingspan6'9''

High-effort defender and complementary offensive player.

Shades Of: Otto Porter Jr., Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Garrett Temple
PLUSES
  • Decisive scorer; he grabs the ball and goes when attacking closeouts or sprinting in transition, taking long strides on his way to the rim.
  • Improving 3-point shooter who has good touch on floaters, which helps dampen any concerns about his funky, leaning shooting form.
  • Hard-nosed rebounder unafraid to mix it up with bigs.
  • Plays with effort and passion. He’ll dive for loose balls, close out hard on the perimeter, and take a charge.
  • Theoretically a good defender due to his energy if his fundamentals improve.
MINUSES
  • High, loose dribble limits his ability to create scoring opportunities for himself. He relies on brute force on straight-line drives, and lacks any finesse with the ball in his hands.
  • Robotic passer who doesn’t make advanced reads.
  • A below-the-rim finisher in traffic who doesn’t handle contact well and lacks the length to extend for layups. He also rarely uses his left hand finishing and dribbling.
  • He’s heavy-footed moving laterally since he’s on his heels, and he bites for far too many fakes.
  • He’s a ball watcher prone to allowing backdoor cutters and open shooters.
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GRANT WILLIAMS

Guard

Tennessee

  • PTS 19.0 23.9 per 40
  • REB 7.6 9.5 per 40
  • AST 3.1 3.9 per 40
  • EFG% 58.4 379 FGA
  • STL 1.1 1.4 per 40
  • BLK 1.4 1.8 per 40
  • 3PT% 34.1 44 3PA
  • FT% 82.6 247 FTA
Main Selling PointMain Selling Point: Glue-guy skills
Age20.3
Height/Weight6'7''/236
Wingspan6'11''

Team-first player who runs the show from the post in college but will need to expand his game to the perimeter at the next level.

Shades Of: P.J. Tucker, Spurs-era Boris Diaw, Treveon Graham
PLUSES
  • Crafty interior scorer who finishes with either hand and uses deceptive pump fakes to create space; loves to carve out space for his left-handed runner.
  • Excellent screener who can facilitate on the short roll or pop for 3s; can be a playmaking weapon on switches.
  • Tennessee runs its offense through him on the post; he loves absorbing contact, can finish over either shoulder, and throws accurate fastballs to cutters and shooters.
  • Improved spot-up 3-point shooter. He must extend his range, but his touch from the line and midrange is a positive indicator for his projected shooting ability.
  • A high-IQ defender who is always in the right position rotating as a help defender, and plays with strong fundamentals moving laterally.
  • Plays tough, physical individual defense. He closes out hard and shows active hands, plus he’s an instinctual rebounder who boxes out.
  • Hard-working, unselfish player. Lost weight and got better each season. He’ll take a charge or dive for a loose ball. Bonus: He does a good job of accentuating contact to draw fouls.
MINUSES
  • Reluctant to shoot 3s, passes up open looks, and dribbles into short midrange pull ups. Does he lack confidence or is he aware of his limitations?
  • Lacks verticality, so scoring inside against NBA length will require an adjustment.
  • He doesn’t project as a shot creator because of his average first step and lack of shake as a ball handler.
  • Tweeners don’t exist in today’s NBA, but athleticism still matters: He might not have the mobility to be a top-shelf defender on switches against guards and quicker wings.
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NICKEIL ALEXANDER-WALKER

Guard

Virginia Tech

  • PTS 16.6 19.3 per 40
  • REB 4.1 4.7 per 40
  • AST 4.0 4.6 per 40
  • EFG% 55.4 370 FGA
  • STL 1.9 2.2 per 40
  • BLK 0.5 0.6 per 40
  • 3PT% 38.1 147 3PA
  • FT% 77.2 136 FTA
Main Selling PointMain Selling Point: Size and playmaking
Age20.6
Height/Weight6'5''/205
Wingspan6'9''

Versatile scoring wing who can play on or off the ball and serve as a playmaking presence.

Shades Of: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Malcolm Brogdon, Tyler Johnson
PLUSES
  • Ambidextrous dribbler and scorer, comfortable with executing in-out dribbles and crossovers, and at-rim finishes and floaters, with either hand.
  • Good spot-up shooter who displays instincts for relocating and cutting to get open.
  • Passing might be his best NBA skill: He’ll wow you with off-the-dribble left-handed passes to shooters in the corner.
  • Fluid ball handler who plays with poise in the pick-and-roll; it looks like he’s coasting but he’s always under control.
  • Flashes post scoring skills; with his playmaking, he could use the post as a source for playmaking as a big guard like Evan Turner.
  • Long, competitive defender who should be able to effectively defend both guard spots.
MINUSES
  • Struggles finishing in the paint since his average athleticism means he doesn’t get much elevation.
  • More likely a secondary playmaker than a primary due to his lack of burst.
  • Ineffective 3-point shooter off the dribble, possibly due to his catapult-like shooting mechanics, where he brings the ball back to his forehead and then launches.
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MATISSE THYBULLE

Guard

Washington

  • PTS 9.3 12.0 per 40
  • REB 3.1 4.0 per 40
  • AST 2.1 2.7 per 40
  • EFG% 51.0 253 FGA
  • STL 3.4 4.4 per 40
  • BLK 2.2 2.8 per 40
  • 3PT% 31.0 142 3PA
  • FT% 85.1 67 FTA
Main Selling PointMain Selling Point: Lockdown defense
Age22.1
Height/Weight6'5''/200
Wingspan7'0''

Disruptive defender who posted all-time great block and steal numbers as the pillar of Washington’s zone.

Shades Of: Danny Green, Gary Harris, Tony Allen
PLUSES
  • Beast off-ball defender potential: He’s both athletic and smart. He closes out strong, alters shots, and recovers well after penetration.
  • Remarkable anticipation skills and reaction time allow him to jump passing lanes like he’s Deion Sanders.
  • Doesn’t take his athleticism for granted; constantly hustles, pursues loose balls, and hurries back in transition to stop the ball or contest a shot.
  • Projects as a switchable man-to-man defender with long arms and good fundamentals moving laterally and staying seated in his stance.
  • Despite his hyperactivity on defense, he rarely commits fouls, though he’ll need to break his freelancing habit in the NBA.
  • Above-average 3-point shooter with compact form, and a good free throw shooter with touch around the rim.
  • Smart player who passes well within the flow of the offense and avoids careless mistakes.
  • Ambidextrous below-the-rim interior finisher who can score well off cuts and closeouts.
MINUSES
  • Tough to evaluate his man-to-man defense since he last played it as an underclassman when Lorenzo Romar used a switching scheme that hemorrhaged points.
  • Weirdly a nonfactor on the defensive boards despite his athleticism and instincts.
  • Timid, deferential offensive player. It’s not necessarily a bad thing since he knows his role, but he’s yet to tap into his athleticism.
  • Needs to speed up his jump shot release, and too often flares out his elbow, which may be a cause of inconsistency.
  • Not someone who will create many at-rim chances for himself. He can make simple moves but hasn’t shown he can keep the ball on a string.
  • At-rim finishing is lacking but could improve if he develops athleticism leaping off one foot.
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NASSIR LITTLE

Forward

North Carolina

  • PTS 9.4 20.5 per 40
  • REB 4.6 10.0 per 40
  • AST 0.7 1.5 per 40
  • EFG% 49.0 242 FGA
  • STL 0.6 1.3 per 40
  • BLK 0.5 1.2 per 40
  • 3PT% 26.5 49 3PA
  • FT% 76.8 95 FTA
Main Selling PointMain Selling Point: Defensive upside
Age19.1
Height/Weight6'6''/220
Wingspan7'1''

Explosive, highly regarded 3-and-D recruit who hasn’t shown much in college, but was a late bloomer in high school and history could repeat itself.

Shades Of: Andre Iguodala, Harrison Barnes, Stanley Johnson
PLUSES
  • Ideal body for positionless basketball with a thick, muscular frame, long arms, and explosive athleticism.
  • Switchable defender who can potentially lock down multiple positions due to his strength and raw quickness—but only if his fundamentals dramatically improve.
  • Stout defender against bigs and larger forwards due to length and strength; he’s hard to move with his strong base.
  • Good rebounder at the wing thanks to his athleticism.
  • Lob threat off cuts. He could also be used as a roller in the pick-and-roll due to his explosiveness and ability to absorb and finish through contact.
  • Comfortable attacking closeouts to get to the rim.
  • Shows flashes pulling up from short midrange. He’s also a good free throw shooter, which suggests he has long-term 3-point upside.
MINUSES
  • Flaky off-ball defender who loses track of his man due to ball-watching, fails to help, and has trouble navigating screens.
  • Gets caught out of position too often defending quicker players, which leads to blow-bys. He’s too much of a turnstile for a player with his physical profile and effort level.
  • Adding weight in college has allowed him to be a big for UNC, but it’s sapped him of the lateral quickness that made him an elite high school defender.
  • Looks puzzled on offense. He record-scratches the offense, pauses, settles for contested pull-ups, and dribbles into traffic instead of locating open teammates.
  • Lacks fluidity driving the ball. He has some crossovers and in-out dribble moves, but he’s stiff.
  • Struggles spot-up shooting. He has some bad misses, including air balls.
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PJ WASHINGTON

Forward

Kentucky

  • PTS 14.8 20.3 per 40
  • REB 7.6 10.4 per 40
  • AST 1.9 2.6 per 40
  • EFG% 56.1 338 FGA
  • STL 0.8 1.2 per 40
  • BLK 1.2 1.7 per 40
  • 3PT% 41.9 74 3PA
  • FT% 67.5 160 FTA
Main Selling PointMain Selling Point: Scoring
Age20.6
Height/Weight6'8''/228
Wingspan7'3''

Strong-bodied big man who has rapidly improved his scoring and passing as a sophomore.

Shades Of: Taj Gibson, Jerami Grant, Brice Johnson
PLUSES
  • Good passer for his position; has vision from all over the floor, though he does tend to force some passes into tight windows.
  • Makes up for below-the-rim finishing on drives with a quick first step, decisive moves, and ambidexterity on his layups.
  • Rapidly improving spot-up 3-point shooter who projects to have NBA range.
  • Mobile on-ball defender with long arms and a stout frame, though he doesn’t quite have the size to be an enforcer.
MINUSES
  • Lacks explosiveness in traffic, which means he won’t be much of a pick-and-roll threat to throw down lobs or finish with power.
  • Needs to diversify his offense: He rushes too many wild shots and lacks any advanced post moves; defenders will know he’s going to his right hook.
  • Below-average defensive rebounder who doesn’t display a nose for the ball; his teams may get abused on the boards if they use him as a small-ball 5.
  • Inconsistent motor and focus while defending off-ball or boxing out; doesn’t always make hustle plays like diving for loose balls and taking charges.
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BRUNO FERNANDO

Center

Maryland

  • PTS 13.7 18.5 per 40
  • REB 10.4 14.1 per 40
  • AST 2.0 2.7 per 40
  • EFG% 62.2 267 FGA
  • STL 0.6 0.8 per 40
  • BLK 1.9 2.6 per 40
  • 3PT% 25.0 8 3PA
  • FT% 76.8 138 FTA
Main Selling PointMain Selling Point: Rim running
Age20.6
Height/Weight6'10''/240
Wingspan7'4''

Athletic marvel who projects as a skilled offensive big man, but his defense needs to catch up.

Shades Of: Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter, Festus Ezeli
PLUSES
  • Body seems to have been built in a lab; possesses a thick frame and long arms to go with agility and explosiveness.
  • Ambidextrous interior finisher who displays good footwork finding space for layups—that is, when he isn’t already in position to throw down pulverizing dunks.
  • Soft interior touch and clean shooting form suggest he has a projectable shot to the NBA 3-point line.
  • Made drastic improvements as a passer as a sophomore; he puts velocity on the ball and can effectively facilitate on the short roll and in the low and high post.
  • Maryland plays at a snail’s pace, but Fernando is a force like Montrezl Harrell running the floor when he’s empowered.
  • Good rebounder who can follow his boards with strong outlet passes. Considering his quick first step and aptitude for straight-line driving, maybe he can also handle in transition.
  • Long-term rim-protection upside; his fundamentals must improve but he has what you can’t teach—length and mobility.
  • Plays with better, more consistent intensity on defense than he did as a freshman; his overall improvement is a sign of a willingness to learn.
MINUSES
  • Sets a lot of moving screens that’ll get called early in his pro career.
  • Needs to be careful about bringing the ball down while loading up before dunks, since it leaves him prone to being stripped.
  • He doesn’t handle the pressure of college double-teams well; will standard NBA pressure and length by superior defenders also give him issues executing plays?
  • Unaware defender who often gets caught in no-man’s-land; he lacks positional awareness in the pick-and-roll and is still learning the intricacies of help defense.
  • Athleticism can only go so far without fundamentals: He has improved but still bites on too many pump fakes inside and reaches too much on the perimeter.
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TALEN HORTON-TUCKER

Guard

Iowa State

  • PTS 12.1 17.6 per 40
  • REB 5.0 7.2 per 40
  • AST 2.4 3.5 per 40
  • EFG% 47.5 376 FGA
  • STL 2.4 1.9 per 40
  • BLK 1.3 1.0 per 40
  • 3PT% 31.4 156 3PA
  • FT% 62.5 88 FTA
Main Selling PointMain Selling Point: Raw talent
Age18.3
Height/Weight6'4''/233
Wingspan7'1''

Unusual athlete who has the body to defend large players and the raw skills to play guard on offense.

Shades Of: Eric Gordon, Deonte Burton
PLUSES
  • Shot-creation skills are uncommon for a player with his body: He unleashes NBA Street–style moves to generate space to get buckets.
  • Solid spot-up shooter from a stationary position, though his low, robotic release may not be as effective against NBA length.
  • Makes difficult cross-court passes off the dribble, and has keen passing vision that could be cultivated in the NBA.
  • Good rebounder who high-points the ball and sparks transition offense by taking the ball up the floor.
  • Long arms and strong frame theoretically give him the ability to switch screens, using his length to swallow guards and bulk to battle bigs.
  • Youth. He turned 18 in November, so there are untapped skills for a team to mature.
MINUSES
  • Poor free throw shooter who doesn’t display touch on floaters or layups, which doesn’t inspire much confidence in the upside of his jumper.
  • Shot selection is problematic. He takes far too many contested pull-ups with lots of time left on the shot clock.
  • Erratic decision-maker driving the ball. He forces wild shots underneath the rim instead of locating shooters.
  • Loose handle that sometimes comes up above his shoulders. He needs tighten it up or won’t be nearly as effective in an NBA setting.
  • Slow moving laterally on defense. He’s often out of position and plays float-footed, but with his thick frame and wide hips, he just might not be quick enough on the perimeter.
  • Low-effort defender who doesn’t play with passion, toughness, or focus. Defensive consistency is a teamwide issue though, so he could be a product of the environment.
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Measurement data and player statistics via cfbstats.com, school bios, and NFL combine results.