It’s an exciting time in the NBA Draft world. Players are opting into the draft with festivities such as the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament swinging stock. At this point, most notable prospects at least have their names in this draft, though many of them will pull out at the deadline before June.
Everyone ranked is eligible unless they have stated their intentions to return (e.g. Tre Jones). The players who are ranked despite them unlikely staying in the draft — namely freshmen — will have an asterisk next to their names. These prospects were included since there is always a chance they receive better feedback than expected, then decide to remain in the 2019 NBA Draft.
The list of guaranteed returning players who would have made my top 100 are, in order, as follows: Tre Jones, Xavier Johnson, Isaiah Joe, Tyrese Haliburton, Dejon Jarreau, Jon Teske, Josh LeBlanc, Grant Riller, Devin Vassell, Xavier Tillman, Aaron Nesmith, Isaiah Livers, Rayshaun Hammonds, Anfernee McLemore. Since they are staying in the collegiate ranks, they are not ranked.
Since my last top 100, I’ve expanded my tier II, with little separation within it. I could reasonably see a case for any of them as the number two prospect in this class. As a disclosure: Having not yet seen all the internationals, if there’s a good guy missing from the board, I likely haven’t watched him enough to feel comfortable ranking him.
1. Zion Williamson
We’ve hit the inevitable point where people begin to question Zion’s status as the top prospect and even some front offices seem to be doing the same. More chances for Zion to land with a fun team like the Hawks or Grizzlies, I guess. Zion Williamson vs Luka Doncic is an interesting debate. I think I lean Zion though, as he has the best player in the league upside, a lofty ceiling I’m not sure Luka can ever reach.
ZION WILLIAMSON WITH ROCKETS IN HIS SHOES pic.twitter.com/uU7eqY4xZN
— Ben Pfeifer (@Ben_Pfeifer_) March 30, 2019
2. Jarrett Culver
Jarrett Culver is locked into my number two spot. I’m excited to see how he measures at the NBA combine. If he can break the 6’8″ threshold or even measure taller, it would do wonders for his NBA Draft stock. There aren’t any prospects with true primary upside in this class (maybe Ja Morant; maybe Xavier Johnson a year or three) and Culver projects as a solid secondary or tertiary.
The best wing passer in the draft, Culver is a versatile playmaker who has a solid handle despite sub-par athleticism. I feel good about his shot given his natural touch despite mechanical concerns. On a team where he will have significantly less usage, Culver’s defense on and off of the ball will shine. In this draft, Culver is as sure of a commodity one could draft if they had to pick this high.
Culver with the lefty laser pic.twitter.com/8ikNxXj6sq
— Ben Pfeifer (@Ben_Pfeifer_) March 22, 2019
3. Brandon Clarke
The breakout of Pascal Siakam bodes well for Brandon Clarke’s case, as another freakishly athletic, yet undersized big with incredible touch and IQ. Clarke doesn’t shoot yet but Siakam shot 3-17 from deep in two years in college. Teaching a set shot isn’t exactly difficult, folks.
If Clarke gets to the point where he can shoot at an average clip — something I am confident in happening — he gains immeasurable value. Especially in the playoffs, where the value of smarts and defensive versatility are amplified.
BRANDON CLARKE FLEW IN FROM SPOKANE pic.twitter.com/r1zcwPsEid
— Ben Pfeifer (@Ben_Pfeifer_) March 29, 2019
4. RJ Barrett
I struggle with RJ Barrett more than any prospect in this class. His defense this season was god awful for the most part, exhibiting little effort and IQ. On drives, he has little ability to create advantages when his first move fails and often takes terrible shots and misses teammates due to his poor feel.
Yet, his production for a player his age is impossible to ignore and his athleticism and strength in transition is special. Though Barrett is a reluctant passer, he has solid vision when he decides he wants to be in a giving mood.
For Barrett, the best case scenario is landing on a team where he isn’t asked to take on the lion share of creation duties early (like Memphis). Alas, there is a high chance he lands in a spot where he’s asked do more than he reasonably can, which is a major worry when projecting him high in the draft.
RJ’s passing has been great today. He’s got vision, but is too often reluctant to pass. This is good to see pic.twitter.com/iabRocVPXL
— Ben Pfeifer (@Ben_Pfeifer_) March 30, 2019
5. Jaxson Hayes
Hayes is one of my favorite upside plays early in the draft, as he is as close to basketball play-doh as there is. His near seven-foot frame and freakishly unique coordination give him the physical profile to be a dominant vertical spacing big (or huge wing if he gets a coach with the guts to develop him as so).
Despite being incredibly raw, flashes of touch around the rim and solid free throw percentage (74 percent) provide shooting upside, something that could turn Hayes into a legitimate super-freak.
6. Ja Morant
I’ve steadily moved up on Ja Morant with each board, but I think this is where his ascension ends, as is the nature of my tier II detailed in the intro. He’s one of the few prospects with primary initiator upside, given his athleticism, passing ability and handles. However, he has many hurdles to overcome in order to reach that peak.
Morant’s poor decision making, lack of a pull-up jumper, frame issues correlation to finishing issues and near sieve level defense are significant roadblocks to him realizing his highest outcome. All of the best small initiators in the NBA are either elite shotmakers and pull-up shooters or unstoppable attacking the rim. If Morant can become one of those, he’ll be worth building a team around, but becoming a legitimate initiator is something few prospects can do.
Ja hitting threes is nice but he’s really struggling to get to the rim and finish against this defense pic.twitter.com/XK23wHhmqx
— Ben Pfeifer (@Ben_Pfeifer_) March 23, 2019
7. Goga Bitadze
Outside of Zion Williamson and Jarrett Culver, Goga Bitadze is the player in this draft I’m most confident will be good. It is easy to be excited about Bitadze’s raw production at a high level overseas. A center-sized human, Bitadze’s fluidity and skill game are impressive for a player of his age.
On defense, he projects as a capable switch defender. Combining his easy shot with his handle and passing skill and we have an enticing young center prospect and easily the best international prospect in this class.
Watching Buducnost-Olimpija from yesterday, overall I’ve been disappointed w/ the play of Luka Samanic but this is a really nice play, good to see this strength level to dislodge Goga Bitadze (even tho this is prob a push-off). Fluidity at 6’10” remains his most intriguing trait. pic.twitter.com/lpF4GuHvBK
— Jackson Hoy (@JHoyDraft) January 30, 2019
8. Grant Williams
There’s just so much to love about Grant Williams. He has everything teams look for in a modern wing/small ball big. I am confident Williams will be a good three point shooter, evidenced by his elite touch and high two-point percentage (59.3 percent) and free throw percentage (81.9 percent).
With elite passing and IQ, he projects as a versatile offensive complimentary piece, with the ability to provide value in many ways, from short roll creation to attacking closeouts. While he’s not a spectacular on-ball defender, his elite IQ and strength help him feast off of the ball, dominating the glass and making crisp rotations. Williams is going to stick around in the league for a long time, (hopefully) providing valuable minutes for a playoff team.
WILLIAMS SWALLOWS pic.twitter.com/wP6mIFgp1Z
— Ben Pfeifer (@Ben_Pfeifer_) March 24, 2019
9. Darius Garland
Garland has the best handle of any of the top point guards in the draft, combined with the most projectable pull-up three on high volume. That being said, he has the blessing and curse of minuscule sample size, where his questions about playmaking, finishing and defense will go unanswered. For a team in dire need of creation (I’m looking at you Orlando) Garland is a worthy risk early in the first round.
10. Kevin Porter Jr.
I’ve come around to Kevin Porter recently, as his feel and IQ concerns seem overblown to me. He’s got similar issues to RJ Barrett and Coby White, in that their passing and scoring machines don’t work together in harmony. When Porter is surveying the floor, his passing feel is solid.
However, he has a tendency to ignore teammates and take questionable shots. I have significant concern about his defensive feel and IQ off of the ball, closing out and making rotations. Though I am fairly high on his on-ball defense, given his elite athleticism and hip fluidity.
This is some excellent on ball D from KPJ, activity and intensity, quickness, fluidity turning his hips, moving his feet and sticking with his man. pic.twitter.com/wwu81LWzlu
— Ben Pfeifer (@Ben_Pfeifer_) April 20, 2019
The aforementioned concerns combined with some off-court issues and his lack of production at USC keep Porter out of my tier II. I remain fairly high on Porter because of his special traits, namely his elite vertical athleticism, burst and handle. His handle and first step combination make him into a wicked one on one scorer, though his tendency to settle for mid-range jumpers is slightly concerning and indicative of his questionable feel.
Pull-up threes are the most valuable skill in basketball and Porter has shown an ability to do that well, shooting 41.2 percent from three this season, albeit on relatively low volume (68 total attempts). Putting a damper on his shooting projection is his awful free throw percentage (52.2 percent) but he’s worth a gamble purely for his upside somewhere in the teens.
11. Coby White
Coby White is dynamic in space and has a projectable shot. Combined that with more defense than most of the top guard prospects, and he’s looking good. Read more about White here.
12. Talen Horton-Tucker
With a strange, but potentially very beneficial body (super strength, condor long wingspan), Horton-Tucker is one of the more unique physical specimens in the class. He’s raw on both ends of the floor, but some of the creation he flashes, along with his elite finishing at the rim, suggest true initiator potential.
13. PJ Washington
Washington’s projection as a big wing (rather than a small big) drastically improves his NBA outlook, as college fours who downsize in the NBA are often the most successful wings (Kawhi Leonard being an example, though I’m not suggesting Washington is anywhere near the realm of Leonard). He has the requisite ball skills, jump shot and athleticism to make a real impact as an NBA wing, along with fairly impactful team defense.
14. Matisse Thybulle
Matisse Thybulle doesn’t feel like a lottery-level prospect, but I can’t find any tenable reason to keep him out. I’m confident Thybulle is one of the most impactful defenders in the NBA in due time, with his all-time stocks, elite feet and hands plus rare off-ball instincts fueling that. He’s going to be an RPM/PIPM god, providing value in that way too.
I don’t buy Thybulle being horrible on offense, as he’s been an above average three point shooter for three of his four years at Washington — along with sky-high free throw percentages (85.1 percent this season). A capable ball handler, Thybulle should at the minimum be able to attack a closeout and hit spot ups.
Even if Thybulle is only a +1 on offense at his peak, he is ceiling is a true +4-6 defender, which will make him one of the most valuable (and underpaid, in the Robert Covington mold) players in the NBA, relative to his contract.
Bad read by Thybulle here (should have hit Green sinking to the corner) but ball on a string in tight confines in PNR is impressive. pic.twitter.com/04R2vkPVmQ
— Cole Zwicker (@colezwicker) January 24, 2019
15. Cam Reddish
I have little confidence in Cam Reddish being a good offensive player anytime soon, as there are very few good offensive players with statistical profiles like Reddish, specifically, his abysmal 39.4 percent efficiency from two-point range (Spencer Dinwiddie, Fred Vanvleet are the few to break the mold).
The shot versatility is there, but if it doesn’t go in, there’s no value. At least Reddish is a fluid mover, despite his complete lack of athleticism. The saving grace for Reddish’s stock is his defense, which I’m fairly confident will be good. That length and size combined, with some decent instinct, at least save some value on the defensive end, where the team can pray to the almighty Blue Devil that Reddish learns to shoot.
16. De’Andre Hunter
Following his performance in the NCAA tournament, Hunter seems destined to end up as a top-six pick. On the surface that seems valid, as long, 6-foot-8 wings with potentially elite defense are scarce.
Hunter is the best point of attack defender in the class, combining solid athleticism and impeccable technique with his size to fluster ball-handler. However, Hunter plays with sub-par feel, intuition and awareness, making him an average to below-average team defender. I value team defense far more than on-ball defense (one of the main reasons for Thybulle over Hunter). On-ball defense can become less valuable in the playoffs, as teams can simply not attack elite POA defenders. Since Hunter doesn’t make an impact off of the ball, he’s effectively neutral in that situation.
On offense, Hunter projects as a capable three-point shooter and someone who can make nominal reads and face-up. I’m low on his overall offensive skillset, as without a great handle or feel for the game he’ll struggle to make a significant impact on offense. For his frame and floor spacing alone, Hunter is a solid pick in the top 20, but a waste in the top five.
17. Romeo Langford
Despite his complete inability to shoot and lack of great athleticism, I remain fairly high on Romeo Langford as a capable NBA wing. He excels finishing at the rim, with his solid handle and elite touch the foundations of his current offensive repertoire.
Romeo is a solid defender as well. He improved as the year went on, on and off of the ball. I have some confidence in projecting Langford’s jump shot due to his elite touch, given his extended wrist flick can be reigned in. For more on Langford, click here.
18. Jontay Porter
There’s a real chance Jontay Porter is never able to play at a high level due to his injury history. Given that injury history (and family history of injuries) I can understand the trepidation with my ranking Porter this high, but as my true number two prospect in this class, I can’t drop him out of my tier III.
I wrote at length about what makes Porter so great here, namely his elite shooting, savant-tier IQ, passing and handling skill for a big and physical upside.
19. Chuma Okeke
Okeke’s untimely injury doesn’t worry me too much, as ACL injuries are far from career-ending and with sufficient time to heal he should be back to his old self. I broke him down here; he’s a hugely valuable wing due to his team defense and offensive versatility.
20. Nickeil Alexander-Walker
Despite not meeting some athletic thresholds, Alexander-Walker wins with craft and skill. He may not be bursty enough to be a full-time lead guard, but his passing, shooting and scoring craft give him upside as an excellent off-ball guard piece.
21. Ignas Brazdeikis
It is hard to see Ignas Brazdeikis turning out as anything but a decent to good NBA player. I love the strength, IQ and all around scoring package providing value as an NBA wing.
22. Jalen Pickett*
Pickett harkens back to a time where point guards were called “floor generals” by your grandpa; that cliche is an accurate descriptor of Pickett. He lacks quickness and his handle is sub-par. Pickett excels in the pick and roll, slicing the defense apart with his passing and dominating with old school mid-post floaters. He’s especially great as a defensive prospect, where his size and IQ project him as an excellent point guard defender.
CBBToday writer Joseph Nardone broke him down at length here.
23. Terence Davis
Davis has quickly become one of my favorite wings in this draft, as a hounding on-ball defender with movement shooting upside and good passing feel. His off-ball IQ on defense needs work, but Davis is a top-five athlete in this class and that alone helps him make plays off of the ball most players can’t sniff.
24. Tyler Herro
I continue to eat crow and move up on Herro, buying into him as a versatile shot creator and solid defender. Though his percentages wouldn’t indicate an elite shooting prospect, he should get there due to his mechanics and general touch. One of the better off-dribble shooters in this draft and, Herro looks like a prime complementary wing. His uber-competitive, fiery personality helps his case as well.
25. Devidas Sirvydas
An excellent draft-and-stash candidate, Sirvydis’s six-foot-nine frame and shooting upside make him an interesting project pick late in the first.
26. Bol Bol
Bol is the player I have soured on most since the season has ended. You can read my far too extensive breakdown of him here, but his injury risk, horrible defense and poor feel are too red of red flags for me to justify spending a lottery pick on Bol, despite his rare shooting upside.
27. Sekou Doumbouya
As of late, Doumbouya’s play has improved, especially on the defensive end. His athleticism, frame and fluidity as a malleable wing give him borderline first-round value, bolstered by exciting handle flashes. Yet, he is still incredibly raw and far from making a positive impact on an NBA court. He’d be wise to stay in France until he is ready to contribute to his future team.
28. Daquan Jeffries
Of all of the post-tournament risers on my top 100, Jeffries is the player who has risen the most. He didn’t appear on my last top 100, simply due to me not being familiar with Jeffries. After watching more Tulsa games than I care to admit and then the PIT, it’s hard not to be enamored with Jeffries.
Standing 6-foot-4 with a seven-foot wingspan, Jeffries is built like a defensive end and is one of the most functional athletes in this class. While not being flashy, Jeffries shoots well, is incredibly instinctual on both ends of the floor and projects as a capable wing/small ball big in the NBA.
Impressed by Daquan Jeffries so far, excellent pocket pass here, his performance so far is consistent with the Tusla games I’ve seen, him being a smart, versatile player who makes all of the right plays pic.twitter.com/IZFNipDKuo
— Ben Pfeifer (@Ben_Pfeifer_) April 19, 2019
29. Neemias Queta
Despite not being overly special on offense as a big man (he has some solid touch, passing flashes, not much else) Queta’s defensive upside makes him an especially intriguing prospect. His technique is great for a player so young dropping in the pick and roll and his frame makes him a capable rim protector. His athleticism and rim protection skills alone make Queta worth a gamble here, despite the value of non-star bigs being inherently diminished.
I have about 8 more of these from this game that I don’t need to show pic.twitter.com/ltaghMRsLP
— Ben Pfeifer (@Ben_Pfeifer_) January 12, 2019
30. Nic Claxton*
Being the best switch big in the draft gives Claxton significant intrigue, but I can imagine struggling at most other facets of center defense due to his slight frame. Essentially playing point guard at Georgia, Claxton has plenty of interesting offense skills, though none are super functional at this point.
Being his team’s only good player and posting great on-off numbers and stock percentages bode well for Claxton. I could imagine Claxton developing into a modern, versatile big with immense value in the playoffs, but he’ll have plenty of rawness and questions about functionality to overcome to get there.
31. Bruno Fernando
Fernando differs from the typical chiseled, physically imposing big with his passing, potentially allowing him to provide more offensive value than most bigs in his mold. The defense needs work, but the foundation of offensive skills is worth a flier in the second round.
32. Cam Johnson
Arguably the best pure shooter in this draft, Johnson’s silky smooth jumper off of movement combined with his six-foot-eight height makes brings him NBA value at the minimum. That’s all he needs to get on the floor, but his usefulness may be capped by his frame and athleticism-related defensive limitations.
33. Keldon Johnson
One of the most disappointing prospects given his preseason ranking, Johnson’s inability to finish at the rim and boneheaded decision making doesn’t give too much hope to him as an elite prospect. If Johnson shoots well, that and some solid defensive versatility should give him a decent chance contribute at the NBA level.
34. Shamorie Ponds
Shamorie Ponds is a talented point guard prospect, given his pull-up shooting ability, craft and passing. I’m not sure he’s good enough to be a starting point guard in the NBA, given my questions about his finishing and athleticism, limiting his defensive value (despite being solid on that end for his size). For that reason, he falls further on my board than the talent might suggest.
35. Nassir Little
It is incredibly difficult to be optimistic about Nassir Little. Outside of his NBA frame and functional athletic tools, Little isn’t good at basketball. If a team drafts Little high, they’re banking on his shooting potential and athleticism carrying him, as Little is a complete mess on defense with a below-average skill game and poor feel for the game.
36. Jalen McDaniels
McDaniels is painfully thin, which makes me want his future team to develop him as an oversized wing instead of a big. With rare coordination and fluidity plus a projectable shot, that idea doesn’t seem too far-fetched.
37. Ty Jerome
Jerome’s athletic limitations keep Jerome this low, though his elite shooting, passing and excellent defensive IQ could have one make a first-round case for Jerome. It’s hard not to see Jerome being a staple in an NBA rotation as a backup-type guard, though his defense will be a legitimate issue in all likelihood.
38. John Konchar
I’m not as enamored with Konchar as many others in the draft Twittersphere, though I do see the appeal as a backup point guard type due to his finishing ability, his shot and incredible IQ. He’s a good athlete, not an elite one, and fits better on the ball than off of the ball. I can’t deny Konchar’s talent and I see the avenues to the potential upside, but I’m not ready to commit first round value to a backup combo guard type player.
39. Jordan Poole
I’ve lowered a bit on Poole, becoming less confident in his defense and overall decision making, hampering his projection as a point guard in the NBA. Still, his shotmaking, passing and shooting versatility give him real offensive upside. Read more about Poole here.
40. Yovel Zoosman
I like Zoosman as a draft and stash prospect in the second round, standing out with his IQ and potential defensive versatility.
41. Isaiah Roby
Roby’s tentativeness on offense has been his downfall, as a player with a legit handle, passing ability and pull-up flashes. Those skills plus his physical tools suggest serious upside, but his questions about IQ and consistency raise red flags.
42. Rui Hachimura
Anyone who has followed me for any time likely knows how I feel about Hachimura. Despite being mature physically with face-up scoring ability, Hachimura’s terrible feel and awful off ball-defense make him the type of player that loses teams gems.
43. Kezie Okpala
Okpala is a fine second round pick for his frame, physical tools and shooting/skill flashes. At this point, he is bad on defense on and off of the ball, showing lackadaisical effort and poor feel for the game. Big wings always have a place in the NBA, even if they struggle in many aspects vital to being good at basketball, meaning Okpala will likely be drafted higher than he should.
44. Charles Bassey
Bassey is a skilled big man, with flashes of pull-up shooting and handle suggesting real offensive upside. He is strong and will defend the post well, but his athleticism is lacking and traditional bigs like Bassey are easily replaceable, lowering his value.
45. Killian Tillie*
It is a shame what has happened with Killian Tillie, as his repeated injuries have clouded so many traits that make Tillie an excellent prospect. His shooting and coordination project him as an excellent big wing prospect, though it is impossible to separate him from his injuries at this point.
46. Justin Robinson
Robinson is one of my favorite backup point guards in this class, with his shooting, elite level passing and fantastic handle.
47. Daniel Gafford
I don’t understand why Gafford is worthy of a high pick, as I don’t see what he does to separate himself from the morass of rim running big men. His defense isn’t as good as his rim-protection would suggest it is, leaving little reason to spend significant draft capital on Gafford.
48. Ky Bowman
Another of my favorite of the backup point guard crew in this class, Bowman is a solid second round value and a good bet to be an NBA level contributor.
49. Charles Matthews
Matthews belongs to the upper echelon of perimeter defenders in this class, exhibiting elite hip fluidity on ball and instincts off the ball. He has no offensive game, making Matthews an ideal second-round target.
50. Dylan Windler
One of the best prospects among low major schools, Windler projects nicely as a sharpshooting, all-around NBA wing.
51. Joshua Obiesie
52. Miye Oni
53. Naz Reid
54.Zach Norvell Jr.*
55. Josh Reaves
56. Carsen Edwards
57. Tremont Waters
58. Devon Dotson*
59. Juwan Morgan
60. Kenny Wooten
61. Luguentz Dort
62. Kerwin Roach
63. Obi Toppin*
64. Mfiondu Kabangele
65. Alen Smalagic
66. Eric Paschall
67. Dean Wade
68. Myles Powell
69. Cody Martin
70. Sagaba Konate
71. Paul Scruggs
72. Joe Wieskamp*
73. Justin Wright-Foreman
74. Louis King
75. Justin James
76. Terence Mann
77. Quinndary Weatherspoon
78. Aubrey Dawkins
79. Cameron Young
80. Cameron Jackson
81. Ethan Happ
82. Aric Holman
83. Jordan Nwora
84. AJ Lawson
85. Dedric Lawson
86. Jeremy Harris
87. Jarron Cumberland
88. Jeremiah Martin
89. Corey Davis
90. Barry Brown
91. Justin Simon
92. Daishon Smith
93. Admiral Schofield
94. Jared Harper
95. CJ Massinburg
96. D’Marcus Simonds
97. Marial Shayok
98. Jon Elmore
99. Chris Clemons
100. Donta’ Hall
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