With conference tourneys underway and the big dance around the corner, it’s time for my March Madness NBA Draft Top 100 update. Players within tiers are fluid, more or less.
1. Zion Williamson
Let me say this about Zion: we are entering the time where people will begin to consider placing others at number one. Someone like RJ Barrett or Ja Morant will detonate in the tourney. Don’t let the takes get to you. Unless Zion’s leg falls off, he’s comfy sitting in this slot. Even if Zion only had one leg, I’d need to have a long think about whether moving him down is a good idea.
2. Jontay Porter
I’m sticking firmly with Porter at two, as nobody has done enough to usurp his position. I wrote about Porter at length here, so I’ll keep this nice and succinct. Porter’s elite shooting, savant-level IQ and advanced skill game have me optimistic about his offensive future, assuming he can recover from his injury. Turning his baby fat into muscle would make him significantly more impactful on defense, where he is already capable solely because of his IQ.
I miss you. pic.twitter.com/zamNYiF80h
— Ben Pfeifer (@Ben_Pfeifer_) January 19, 2019
3. Jarrett Culver
Jarrett Culver has taken a major leap in his second season, evolving into the fulcrum of the Texas Tech offense. Sporting over 30% usage, Culver has had ample opportunity to show his skills as a primary initiator. And while Culver is not an NBA level primary initiator, he certainly should be a good secondary/tertiary creator. Despite his shooting slump and wonky mechanics, Culver’s natural touch and size (probably around 6’7″ and potentially growing) allow him to pull-up over defenders. His handle and passing have taken steps forward as well.
Culver’s defensive upside often goes unnoticed because of the massive usage he carries on offense. With less usage and more energy to expend on the defensive end, Culver should be a good defensive player in the NBA. His size, length, and IQ are all assets that should make him a versatile wing defender, despite his lack of athleticism. Culver is a pretty safe bet to be a good NBA player, which is more than most of this class can say.
Despite his wonky mechanics, Culver’s natural touch and ability to shoot over people has me optimistic pic.twitter.com/Tp1TRppHGy
— Ben Pfeifer (@Ben_Pfeifer_) March 12, 2019
4. Brandon Clarke
Sure, Brandon Clarke will be 23 by the time he hits an NBA court but being one of the two best defensive players in this draft makes him a solid tier II guy. An all-around defensive menace, Clarke’s size, length, athleticism, and IQ project him as a highly effective and versatile defender at the NBA level. His offensive game is underrated as well.
Clarke’s touch is elite, a fact bolstered by his .712 2p% and having the same amount of missed field goals as blocked shots (99). Overhauling his shot mechanics combined with the aforementioned touch has me convinced Clarke will be at minimum a league average three-point shooter at the next level. Guys with his rare statistical production and foundation of skills are rare, especially in this draft, making Clarke a hard player to pass on in the top five, despite his age.
Brandon Clarke has underrated touch *say it again for the folks in the back!* pic.twitter.com/ZUyCblBK3S
— Ben Pfeifer (@Ben_Pfeifer_) December 17, 2018
5. RJ Barrett
RJ Barrett is likely going to be misused in his rookie year, depending on the team he lands on. If it is a destination like Cleveland, he’ll be thrust into a primary role where Barrett’s high volume-low efficiency tendencies will damage his team more than they help it. Barrett’s lack of handling skill, inconsistent touch, and poor feel are question marks regarding the translation of his offensive game. Combine what with his complete lack of interest in playing defense and you have the makings of a colossal bust.
If I could pick one play to describe RJ Barrett, this one would be it pic.twitter.com/TuF9KWIWRw
— Ben Pfeifer (@Ben_Pfeifer_) March 12, 2019
In this draft rife with uncertainties, I feel more comfortable with RJ than most prospects, despite his damning flaws. One area of Barrett’s game I am confident in is his spot-up shooting, where despite his poor 3P% (.315), he looks exceedingly more comfortable shooting off of the catch.
If RJ can play in a role where he shoots spot ups and attacks closeouts, acting as a secondary/tertiary creator, he could be successful in the NBA. Improving consistency on the defensive end and with his passing will be crucial for his NBA success, along with cleaning up his shot selection but RJ’s tools and production make him worthy of a top-six selection.
It’s nice to see RJ Barrett hit this shot. Just needs to get a little more consistent with it pic.twitter.com/XZ8YUyyFBo
— Zach Milner (@ZachMilner13) November 22, 2018
6. Jaxson Hayes
Drafting Jaxson Hayes this high is an interesting proposition, as I usually would not be interested in drafting centers without outlier skills high due to the oversaturation of the position. While Hayes has flashed some handling and passing ability, he lacks any of the outlier skills that the top bigs in the NBA possess. However, there are few people on the planet–let alone NBA players–who are as coordinated and fluid as Hayes is for a man of his size. Standing nearly seven feet tall, Hayes, runs like a gazelle, with the fluidity, balance, and mobility of a guard. Essentially a ball of clay, Hayes is a raw, high upside project some coach will be eager to mold into something great.
I am not going to be able to get over this play. I don’t care that Jaxson Hayes misses this layup, this is absolutely freakish for a guy who’s 6’11″/7’0″ to be moving like that pic.twitter.com/3DcBEnmwQQ
— Jackson Hoy (@JHoyNBA) December 31, 2018
7. Darius Garland
8. Ja Morant
9. Coby White
Juxtaposing the three top point guards in this class with each other was not intentional but it provides for a good excuse to talk about the trio in context of each other, which provides more insight than speaking on them individually. White is my least favorite of the three by a hair. Though he is far and away the best defensive prospect of the bunch, his questionable handle and some athleticism qualms push him millimeters behind Garland and Morant. I went in-depth on White’s dynamic scoring ability here.
Darius Garland finds himself ranked above Ja Morant for his scoring upside but the two are roughly equal in terms of my valuation of the prospects. I wish we had more tape on Garland to better gauge his passing ability and general feel for the game. While Garland isn’t the most eager passer, has turnover issues (like Morant) and lacks elite vision, his scoring gravity opens up passing windows. The pull-up shooting separates the two prospects for me, as Garland flashed an elite pull-up game with his shifty handle, though his scorching percentages (.478 3P%) are likely a product of small sample size.
How many 19 yo guys can stop in a dime and hit a contested a pull up 3 so effortlessly? pic.twitter.com/IZJuOT9eZy
— Alessandro Cozzi (@AleCozz1) January 30, 2019
Garland and Morant have similar finishing issues on offense with their light frames. Morant’s vertical athleticism aids him in the open court but he often struggles to finish through contact. Garland has the same problem but his creativity and diversity as a scorer and touch–which I grade as slightly better than Morant’s– helps mitigate those concerns. Though Morant’s .810 FT% is a positive indicator, I’m worried about his shooting upside in the NBA. His pull-up numbers are unspectacular (70-100) and his mechanical concerns are real.
While Morant is an atrocious defender at the moment, I’d give him a minuscule edge over Garland, as his athleticism provides for some defensive upside. Both of these players have plenty of positive and negative indicators towards their NBA success but Garland is the safer bet at the moment.
10. Talen Horton-Tucker
One of the youngest players in the NBA draft (Horton-Tucker won’t be 19 until November and is only four months older than me), Talen Horton-Tucker’s physical tools and skill set give him sneaky initiator upside. Standing 6’4″, strong as an ox, with a 7’1″ wingspan, THT’s tools allow him to play way above his listed height. His handle is solid, stringing the ball way in front of his body to drive into the lane. He’s flashed some impressive shotmaking and shot creating ability, despite his underwhelming efficiency (.312 3P%, .480 2P%). Yet, his excellent touch around the rim is an auspicious sign of future shooting upside.
Top-5 prospect Talen Horton-Tucker pic.twitter.com/5KovBkjmnp
— Jackson Hoy (@JHoyNBA) February 27, 2019
11. Grant Williams
I’m fully sold on Grant Williams’ prospects as an NBA player, unlike many other NBA draft enthusiasts. Him only being 6’4″, most of his offense coming out of the post, and his questionable three-point shooting efficiency makes him an inconspicuous prospect. However, he has all of the indicators of a weirdo upside prospect. Elite strength? Check. Elite Touch? Check. Elite feel and IQ? Check. Strong, smart basketball players with great touch often succeed in the NBA and that’s exactly what Williams is.
12. Bol Bol
Of all of the prospects in this class, Bol Bol is the one with the most polarizing strengths and weaknesses. Standing at 7’2″, his shooting touch is ridiculous and his overall offensive skill set gives him the potential outlook of a top tier offensive big man. However, his skinny frame will always make injuries a concern and his mobility on the defensive end could become an issue. Bol reaching his peak outcome will be fit dependent, as landing on a team committed to maximizing his strengths and masking his weaknesses will be key to his future NBA success.
13. Romeo Langford
I wrote about Romeo here and while I have moved down on him since writing that piece I’m still a fan of his. Despite questions about his shooting and athletic ability, Langford has the foundation of a pass/dribble/shoot wing that the NBA loves. His touch is elite and a good shooting coach should be able to salvage his god awful mechanics. As most freshmen do, Romeo has plenty of issues with his team defense but his length and IQ make him a plausible bet to be good on that end in the NBA.
14. De’Andre Hunter
Hunter’s size (6’8″, 230) and shooting ability alone make him a valuable commodity in the NBA. Every contender needs a big wing to defend the elite wing initiators in the NBA today and Hunter projects to do that well. He is strong, long, good enough athletically and fundamentally perfect as a point of attack defender. His low steal and block numbers are worrisome, as those are indicators of defensive upside. Whether or not Virginia’s system is holding him back from racking up stocks is yet to be seen. Hunter’s offense is also a bit of a mystery, as Virginia’s system limits what he is allowed to do. At the very least, Hunter should be adept at hitting open threes and attacking closeouts.
15. PJ Washington
PJ Washington has improved quite a bit in conference play and has looked like a lottery pick at times. His motor runs hot an cold; when it is hot, Washington is one of the best prospects in this class. When he is engaged, Washington’s size and athleticism allow him to blow up offensive plays. On the offensive side, Washington looks to be next in the line of college 4s who became NBA 3s. His passing is legit and Washington should shoot threes at a solid clip as well. Add on a solid handle and you have an intriguing prospect on the wing.
PJ is an awesome passer. High IQ, can pass on the move, good outlet passer and is incredibly accurate hitting shooter pockets. pic.twitter.com/lY3TH2zdvu
— Ross Homan (@Ross_Homan1) March 7, 2019
16. Kevin Porter Jr.
For a player as gifted as Kevin Porter Jr., his lack of production is intriguing. USC’s system certainly neuters his system as Porter should have far more usage than he does. Despite potential questions about IQ and defense, Porter is an easy vertical athlete with a wicked handle, which he wields to create all manner of step back jumpers. His defense and feel for the game have a long way to go and he is a prime candidate to be overdrafted and fail to live up to expectations, a la Collin Sexton or Kevin Knox. Yet, his tools give him some low-end primary initiator upside, something the NBA will always covet.
17. Tre Jones
Jones’ woeful shooting and overall lack of offensive punch have made him fall down draft boards, mine included. Still, he probably is the best defensive point guard in this class (contending with Jalen Pickett) and his IQ is high level. Players who don’t make mistakes will always be valuable and Jones could see himself filling a high level back up role or even a starter role if the jumper comes along.
Tre doing his thing swallowing up ballhandlers and Cam reddish, please, stop trying to go over defenders, it’s never going to work, never ever ever pic.twitter.com/yc7kkGzb6q
— Ben Pfeifer (@Ben_Pfeifer_) March 12, 2019
18. Cam Reddish
It has become increasingly hard for me to be optimistic about Cam Reddish, as his abysmal shooting efficiency and disappointing all-around play make him a tough sell for me in the top 15. His 6’9″ frame and solid movement ability should make him a good NBA defender but I have little confidence in his offensive ability. Shooting an embarrassing 39.5% from two, I am not sold Reddish will shoot above league average any time soon.
His feel is average, his handle is average and he has no burst or vertical athleticism, yet I’m not sure he knows that. When Cam is hitting shots, he looks like a great prospect. But too often, it looks like he can’t the ocean sitting in a boat. I could be too low on Cam and I could be undervaluing his high school tape but at this point, I can’t feel comfortable drafting Reddish in the lottery,
cool play but it is so apparent that cam has zero vertical pop pic.twitter.com/FFQIMsoKSa
— Ben Pfeifer (@Ben_Pfeifer_) March 12, 2019
19. Goga Bitadze
Goga Bitadze has played well for Mega Bemax and his impressive production in Europe at such a young age is rare. Bitadze is far from a quick-twitch athlete but he is impressively skilled and coordinated for a player his age. Flashing a solid handle, face up game, and jump shot, Bitadze has the skill so potential ascend past the bevy of replacement level bigs in the NBA.
20. Matisse Thybulle
Thybulle’s 7.5 stocks per 40 is quite literally an incredible number, as Washington’s zone definitely inflates those numbers. His stock production would be impressive if you slashed that number in half and even still, Thybulle’s defense is far more than just the product of a zone. His hands and feet are elite, which combined with his IQ, will allow him to be a menace defending off of the ball. Thybulle’s offensive game is underdeveloped but I feel he has enough passing, shooting, and dribbling ability to survive on that end early.
HOLY MATISSE THYBULLE (Wait for the end) pic.twitter.com/UXlehIcC99
— Zach Milner (@ZachMilner13) March 14, 2019
21. Nassir Little
At this moment in time, Nassir Little sucks at basketball. His tape is littered with awful contested mid-range pull-ups and defensive gaffes. Holding up his stock is his pedigree and legitimate athleticism, something a player like Cam Reddish cannot claim. The hope is Little develops his skill game and feel quite a bit (ok, quite a bit is way underselling it) and learns to make use of his top-tier athleticism. Right now, Little is nothing more than a long-term project.
Little why pic.twitter.com/yiGvMYw0Qy
— Ben Pfeifer (@Ben_Pfeifer_) March 12, 2019
22. Xavier Johnson
One of my favorite sleeper prospects in this class, the freshman point guard from Pitt makes his money with the best first step. Johnson is lightning quick and has a good enough handle to consistently get into the lane, though his finishing needs work. Though raw, Johnson is an underrated passer and defender and a high upside gamble towards the back end of the first.
Look at this in and out crossover from Xavier Johnson to get by Seventh Woods
2 Clips – 1st is in regular speed and the 2nd one is slowed up pic.twitter.com/vNm8Iu6EyW
— Zach Milner (@ZachMilner13) January 6, 2019
23. Bruno Fernando
Fernando’s offensive expansion has turned him from a vanilla big man prospect to someone really worth looking at. His passing ability is real and his flashes of a face-up game/jump shooting improvements are nice. A guy with his size and chops as a potential short roll creator will bring value off of the bench or as a low-level starter.
So when are people going to start talking about Bruno Fernando’s passing? I’ve thought it was underrated for some time now but still haven’t seen anyone bring it up. Couldn’t watch this one without saying anything pic.twitter.com/ASBLkUEz96
— Zach Milner (@ZachMilner13) December 24, 2018
24. Ignas Brazdeikis
Brazdeikis is a simple evaluation. A versatile scorer and sound defender, he’s almost guaranteed to be a rotation player at the minimum, which is valuable to a contending team looking to fill out the roster.
25. Chuma Okeke
Okeke feels like an obvious prospect and it seems people are catching on to him. A 6’8″ wing, Okeke is a fluid athlete with an impressive pass+dribble game. He’s flashed some shooting off of movement as well which would be a massive skill for him. 3-D wings need to do more than just hit stationary threes and Okeke has that capability and more.
i love you chuma pic.twitter.com/nZY53mc9ja
— ricky scricca 🏀☕️ (@scricca1) March 10, 2019
26. Jordan Poole
I’m buying Poole’s offensive heavy ranking him this high, as I believe his handle and shooting ability will at least have him being a role player in the NBA. His passing out of the pick and roll has me thinking he could run some offense for a second unit as well. While somewhat inconsistent, he has the size and IQ to be a decent positional defender.
In prepping for my piece on Jordan Poole, I noticed how anticipatory of a passer he is. He has a great understanding of help defense and knows when to throw a pass to best exploit the help. Many of these passes look routine but they all take perfect advantage of tagging/help pic.twitter.com/PztCPqT2C1
— Ben Pfeifer (@Ben_Pfeifer_) January 9, 2019
27. Tyrese Haliburton
I have no idea what to make of Tyrese Haliburton. Once posting a 45-1 AST/TO in transition, Haliburton has some of the strangest stat lines you will see. His high IQ will be an asset on both ends of the floor and it seems like his touch is good, despite his laughably low amount of shot attempts. Players with high IQ and good stocks are players I like to bet on, no matter how weird of a player Haliburton is.
28. Keldon Johnson
Johnson’s movement shooting and size on defense is about all he has going for him at this point. He frequently disappears from Kentucky’s offense, making me waiver about if he can really be a + on offense in the NBA. Still, his defensive frame and shooting ability make him a decently safe prospect late in the first.
29. Nickeil Alexander-Walker
What Alexander-Walker lacks in athleticism he makes up in skill, shooting, and craft. A versatile shooter, his passing ability and handle should have Alexander-Walker finding a role as a floor spacer and versatile creator.
Nickeil Alexander-Walker showing off his handles and a nice move pic.twitter.com/mThxQRj85M
— Zach Milner (@ZachMilner13) March 13, 2019
30. Ty Jerome
Jerome’s shooting ability, tenacious defense, and high IQ make him a surefire rotation guard/wing for some NBA team. He’s the next in the Malcolm Brogdon line of smart, defensively adept shooting guards who could be incredibly valuable for a good team.
31. Devidas Sirvydas
The 6’8″ 18-year-old is highly skilled for a player as young as he is. A silky smooth shooter with some flashes of offensive creation, Sirvydas is an ideal draft and stash target late in the first round or early in the second.
32. Yovel Zoosman
A real contributor for Maccabi Tel Aviv at only 20 years old, Zoosman could have a future in the NBA as a versatile defensive utility player.
33. Cam Johnson
Johnson’s appeal is pretty simple: a 6’8″ wing with elite level movement shooting. Johnson has a lot of flaws, from his limited offensive games to defensive limitations because of his size and athleticism. His feel for the game is good, though, and if he can develop into a truly elite movement shooter, none of the aforementioned will matter.
34. Terence Davis
Davis is a super athlete with a strong frame. His shot and handle have improved, as he’s currently shooting 33-88 on NBA three-pointers. Davis’ frame and athleticism could make him a fantastic defensive prospect, opening up a serious role at the NBA level as a role player.
35. Jalen Pickett
An old-school point guard at heart, Jalen Pickett carried Siena’s roster to 11 conference wins. His handle needs work and his free throw rate is too low but Pickett’s defense is excellent, he passes the ball well and has the touch to finish in the paint with all manner of retro mid-post fadeaway type shots. I’m excited to see what kinds of developments Pickett can make next season, as he has generated little hype among mainstream draft coverage.
36. Nic Claxton
Despite being a lanky 6’11” kid, Claxton essentially runs point guard for a Georgia team without any guards. I’m not sure how many of his skills are functional but the flashes of a handle and jump shot are worth a gamble, along with his disruptive ability on defense. He’s almost certainly coming back next year; it will be exciting to see how he adapts his game playing next to top recruit Anthony Edwards.
37. Tyler Herro
Admitting you were wrong on something you fought adamantly for is tough. So here I go, I was dead wrong on Tyler Herro. Though I am still not as high on him as most, I can’t ignore his shooting versatility, handle flashes and competitive defense any longer.
38. Neemias Queta
The Portuguese freshman has come out of nowhere this season and has cemented himself as an interesting big man prospect. He’s firmly one of the best rim protectors in this class with real defensive potential, despite his raw offensive game.
39. Sekou Doumbouya
Doumbouya’s skill game is raw but his frame, fluid athleticism, and defensive potential make him project with considerable upside worth taking a flyer on in the second round.
40. Jalen McDaniels
McDaniels is detrimentally thin, making his height and length on the interior nearly useless, only made up for by his motor. Due to his rare coordination, developing McDaniels as a wing could be the best avenue for his NBA success
41. Josh Reaves
A strong, versatile defender with high-level off-ball disruptive traits, the continuing development of Reaves’ jump shot will be key for him finding minutes in the NBA. For more on Reaves, click here.
42. Isaiah Roby
Roby’s physical traits and skill make for an enticing wing prospect but his lack of assertiveness and lapses in IQ making rotations off of the ball limit his defensive effectiveness. Despite flashing an impressive handle at times, his inconsistent offensive impact and decreased outside shooting (33.8%) make him a risky bet. For more on Roby, click here.
43. Daniel Gafford
A rare case of a player who returned to school and saw his stock plummet, Gafford has not improved from his freshman season. He’s mobile and athletic but lacks any real skill or +feel or IQ traits.
44. Shamorie Ponds
Ponds is immensely talented, with the pull-up shooting and passing necessary to be a dominant offensive point guard at the NBA. However, his size will hinder his defensive potential and his ability to consistently finish in the paint.
45. Rui Hachimura
Hachimura has shown quite a bit of improvement in conference play, flashing more wing skills that could make him a practical NBA player. However, I don’t buy his offensive repertoire primarily based on physicality translating, which combined with his defensive limitations and feel questions, make Hachimura dicey prospect.
46. Charles Bassey
ּBassey’s youth, size, and skill all work in his favor but he falls into the mold of a traditional center, an antiquated archetype that often lacks value in the modern NBA. Still, his foundation of skills should at least have him playing a role in the NBA.
47. Kezie Okpala
Okpala is a typical theoretical big wing prospect that people fall in love with and overrate. While his frame and shooting ability is enticing, his overall rawness highlighted by his lack of IQ and feel make him a risky prospect anywhere near the first round.
48. Charles Matthews
The Michigan wing is one of the most lethal defenders the game, hounding on the ball and a homing missile off of the ball. Developing his offensive arsenal will be important for his NBA career.
49. Killian Tillie
At this point, Killian Tillie’s injury concerns are too glaring for me to ignore. I like him a lot as a prospect, as his shooting, IQ, and coordination would make him a valuable wing/big hybrid. However, he just can’t stay healthy and that’s a major red flag on his evaluation.
50. Aric Holman
Holman has some interesting big man skills and his passing/shooting/rebounding could turn him into a rotation player.
51. Dean Wade
Similar to Tillie in many ways, Wade is a mobile, shooting college four with injury concerns. I like him as potential 3-D big wing type if he can stay healthy.
52. Devon Dotson
Dotson, unfortunately, has the curse of being a small point guard but his shooting flashes, heady defense and slashing ability make him poised for a bench role in the NBA.
53. Zach Norvell Jr.
Norvell provides size and shooting on the wing, two traits teams look for even if crucial pieces of the puzzle are absent.
54. Jon Teske
Jon Teske might be the best defensive player in the country and is Michigan’s anchor. Despite his average athletic traits, Teske’s size and defensive IQ will be useful in a backup role, which could become a starting role if his three-point shot becomes more consistent.
55. Miye Oni
Oni stands above the competition in the IVY league. His frame, feel and shooting could make him a solid slashing/defense wing at the NBA level.
56. Naz Reid
I like Naz Reid’s skill set quite a bit and his shooting and handling ability combined with solid IQ could bring value in the NBA. However, his complete lack of mobility and lackluster physical tools make me question if he can play real NBA minutes.
57. Eric Paschall
Paschall should at least be a rotation player given his shooting ability, size, and athleticism but his lack of IQ or outlier skill means his upside is significantly capped.
If you have any questions, feel free to message me on Twitter @ben_pfeifer_.
58. Carsen Edwards
59. Ayo Dosunmu
60. Dylan Windler
61. John Konchar
62. Ky Bowman
63. Aaron Nesmith
64. Josh LeBlanc
65. Isaiah Joe
66. Luguentz Dort
67. Jalen Smith
68. Kerwin Roach
69. Sam Hauser
70. Mfiondu Kabangele
71. Cassius Winston
72. Louis King
73. Jeremiah Martin
74. Luka Samanic
75. Admiral Schofield
76. Sagaba Konate
77. Juwan Morgan
78. AJ Lawson
79. Ochai Agbaji
80. Jordan Nwora
81. Alen Smailagic
82. Justin-Wright Foreman
83. Justin Robinson
84. Cameron Young
85. D’Marcus Simonds
86. Fletcher Magee
87. Myles Powell
88. Xavier Sneed
89. Cody Martin
90. Jaylen Hands
91. Jaylen Nowell
92. Rayshaun Hammonds
93. Ethan Happ
94. Jarron Cumberland
95. Juwan Durham
96. Marial Shayok
97. Cameron McGriff
98. Markus Howard
99. Ashton Hagans
100. Kouat Noi
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