While this year’s draft doesn’t have quite the overall depth of the past two, there is no shortage of intrigue and excitement surrounding the top 2-3 picks. Zion Williamson is about as unique a prospect as you will find, adding a great deal of interest. And the major media outlets have finally caught on to the level of talent that Ja Morant possesses. There is a real chance that he ends up the best player out of this draft class. Here is our first look at this year’s extended mock. Mock Draft 2.0 is soon to follow in a couple weeks with NBA team fits factored in.
||Zion Williamson 6-6 280 PF Duke Fr.||Zion is a phenomenon, the likes of which we haven’t seen since LeBron James from a media and fan interest stand point. He made true on all the hype surrounding him, which was not easy to accomplish. He’s not only an athletic specimen, he proved to be incredibly consistent and coachable. He showed noticable improvement as the season progressed, and even developed some confidence in his perimeter shot. His leaping ability seems to defy physics, and he’s not just an explosive juggernaut. He also shows amazing body control and speed to make adjustments on drives as well as defend smaller guards on the perimeter. His ability to anticipate plays before they happen is one of the keys to his success. He also plays with such emotion, like Sir Charles, opponents often appear to wilt in his presence. While there are still some wrinkles to his game that need ironing out, he’s got the highest ceiling of anyone in this draft and possibly the past few drafts.
NBA Comparison: Charles Barkley
||Ja Morant 6-3 175 PG Murray St. So.||
Morant was the biggest breakout star of this year’s NCAA season. Entering the year he was seen as a mid first rounder at best by most talent evaluators. He had made a name for himself around 2018 draft time at the Chris Paul camp. But it was hard to envision him breaking out and becoming such an impactful player, efficient in both scoring, plus leading the nation in assists, and even drawing some attention to be the number one overall pick. Morant doesn’t have Zion’s hype, but he deserves all of the recognition that has come his way late in the season. Zion may have the higher ceiling, but if staying injury free is factored into the equation, Morant probably has the higher floor.
||RJ Barrett 6-7 210 SG Duke Fr.||Barrett was overshadowed on Duke’s team due to Zion’s excellence, but he’s a high level talent in his own right. His game is a bit unorthodox as he doesn’t have a clean shooting form and isn’t the smoothest of athletes. But he has high level competitiveness and a winner’s mentality. He may not have franchise level talent, but don’t bet against him as he’s got a lot of determination, as he proved in leading an undermanned Canada team to the 2017 U19 World Championships Gold Medal. Barrett can get caught up in playing hero ball and over-dribbling trying to create his own looks, but he’s young and still developing his decision making. He’s locked in as a top 5 pick with an excellent chance to be the third pick.
NBA Comparison: Danny Granger
||Rui Hachimura 6-8 235 SF/PF Gonzaga Jr.||Rui made a great decision to both attend Gonzaga and not rush the process, allowing his game and confidence to mature over three years in Spokane. He’s a focused, hard working kid who figures to elevate the popularity of basketball in Japan as well as other Asian countries. While his size and skill set is still a bit tweenerish, he plays with such great energy and is developing into a knock down mid range shooter. He should find a spot in the top 10 and can even be a top 5 pick with good workouts. One of the highest character kids in the draft and his development curve seems to be as sharp as anyone’s.
NBA Comparison: Antawn Jamison
||Coby White 6-5 185 PG/SG North Carolina Fr.||White is a lightening quick combo guard who pushes the ball up the floor quickly and also terrorizes defenders off the dribble with his first step. Roy Williams called White the quickest guard that he’s had since Ty Lawson. High praise for a guy that is 3-4 inches bigger than Lawson. White is a solid defender who at 6’4 has the size and speed to play either guard position. He went on a tear mid way though the season and never looked back, becoming one of the deadliest weapons on the college level. His game figures to fit perfectly at the next level, and his competitiveness gives him a chance to be a star.
NBA Comparison: Gilbert Arenas
||Jarrett Culver 6-6 195 SG Texas Tech So.||Culver really exploded into a star and a well rounded player as a sophomore. He expanded his skill set in his sophomore year, embracing the role of go-to scorer and offensive team leader. He made huge strides in his ability to create offense for himself, as well as his ability to shoot. He has a strong, physical frame and plays with consistent effort. He went from a great role player, as a freshman, doing the little things to help his team win, to the team’s superstar. He still has a ways to go to as a shooter and NBA shooting guard, and going too high could actually set expectations too high for him. But he’s one of the more talented prospects in this year’s draft after the top 2-3.
NBA Comparison: Nick Anderson
||Keldon Johnson 6-6 215 SG/SF Kentucky Fr.||Johnson is an athletic wing capable of above the rim finishes as well as a solid offensive skill set. He possesses a lot of determination and leadership for his age. He still needs to become a better ball handler which would allow him to better utilize his athletic gifts as a basket creator. Keldon’s play grew in consistency as the season went along. He’s a bit of a potential pick, but a team willing to wait on his talent could grab him somewhere in the mid-to-late lottery, and be pleased with the results in a few seasons.
NBA Comparison: Corey Maggette
||DeAndre Hunter 6-7 225 SF/PF Virginia So.||Hunter is a 3-and-D type. He’s got a strong frame with a massive 7’2 wingspan and really improved as a 3 point shooter in his sophomore year, displaying the ability to hit at a high rate and solid volume. Detractors will point to his lack of an ideal fit being a little under skilled and somewhat stiff as a SF and lacking the height and strength at PF. But in today’s position-less league, he offers a potential mismatch with the ability to defend 4s and knock down three pointers.
NBA Comparison: Marvin Williams
||Jaxson Hayes 6-11 220 PF/C Texas Fr.||Hayes is the son of long time NFL player and current Bengals tight end coach Jonathan Hayes. With this being a weaker draft, and potential always being at a premium, Hayes has a shot to go top 10. If he goes that high, he may struggle to live up to the expectations, however. He’s a bit of a risk to be a guy that takes up an NBA roster spot and develops on a team’s dime before finding his game and being a true contributor on his second contract, and possibly second team. His free throw percentage gives intrigue about his ability to develop his offensive game, but he will need to show more aggressiveness and toughness as he gains weight and experience in order to fulfill his upside.
NBA Comparison: Jarrett Allen
||Cameron Reddish 6-7 215 SG/SF Duke Fr.||
Reddish’s talent level has never been in question as he’s an NBA athlete with an advanced skill set for his age. The main concerns revolve around his lack of consistency and how infrequently he plays to his abilites. He’s a charismatic kid who will impress in team interviews, but skeptics worry that he may always force coaches to expend energy in order to get him to fully apply himself. Apologists will contend that he was forced to assume the role of a complementary player, unable to fully standout due to the fact that he wasn’t given the opportunity. But in reality he may be more suited in that role and may have been exposed on a team where he was expected to be the star. He doesn’t appear to be wired to be an alpha dog with ultra competitiveness.
NBA Comparison: Rudy Gay
||Nassir Little 6-6 220 SF North Carolina Fr.||
Little is a borderline freak athlete with a sturdy frame and a 7′ plus foot wingspan. He excels at being an energy player and scores a lot of garbage baskets with his physical gifts. The form on his shot is decent, although his efficiency wasn’t ideal. Little struggled with consistency and didn’t fully live up to expectations. Some feel that was partially due to the short leash that Coach Roy Williams gives to many freshmen. Little can be a top 10 pick if he can impress in workouts, as he did put forward some solid performances at season’s end.
NBA Comparison: Gerald Wallace
||Nickeil Alexander-Walker 6-5 205 SG Virginia Tech So.||Walker is a highly efficient 2-guard with a smooth offensive game. He knocks down the 3 ball with excellent efficiency, and can also create baskets for himself off the dribble. Adding some legitimate body strength would be very beneficial as he struggles to finish through contact at the rim. But he may just be a guy that will always be on the skinny side, a la Will Barton. He had some solid performances throughout the season, and helped Virginia Tech come very close to upsetting Duke in the NCAA tourney.
NBA Comparison: Spencer Dinwiddie
||Bruno Fernando 6-10 245 C Maryland So.||The bigman from Angola, Fernando, has a lot of composure and maturity for his age. He’s an above average athlete who is solid in nearly all areas. His footwork stands out, along with his great hands. He’s still developing the confidence to be a go to scorer and lead the team every time out. But he has a lot of determination and passion for the game. His spin moves and offensive skill are very good for a player that picked up the game at 9 years old in Angola, and really didn’t start playing at a high level until moving to the US during high school and playing at both Monteverde and IMG Academy.
NBA Comparison: Steven Adams
||KZ Okpala 6-8 195 SG/SF Stanford So.||Okpala was one of the biggest risers among the returning group of NCAA prospects for this year’s draft. He’s a highly skilled wing with the ability to attack the rim with a quick first step and solid ball handling ability. He is more of the lead by example type and will need to work on becoming more vocal, but at just 19 years of age, he has a lot of development in front of him. He was productive in a number of areas with 18 ppg, 6 rpg and 2 apg. He has excellent efficiency, shooting a high clip from 3 along with solid ability to create baskets off the dribble utilizing his quick first step. One legitimate concern is how much the Stanford team has under-performed this season. And the fact that weren’t exactly devoid of talent surrounding KZ. It brings into question Okpala’s impact and why they didn’t have a better record this season.
NBA Comparison: Rodney Hood
||Darius Garland 6-2 175 PG Vanderbilt Fr.||Garland was seen by some as the top PG prospect heading into the season, before his injury and Ja Morant (and Coby White) blowing the hinges off the doors. He’s a smooth point with great shooting ability and decent size. What he’s missing is what should have been a year of development and college experience, which is more crucial at the point guard position. There are also question marks about his body strength and toughness. He could go a few spots higher, but it will be difficult to mortgage too high a pick on an unproven player in the first half of the lottery.
NBA Comparison: Mo Williams
||Romeo Langford 6-6 210 SG Indiana Fr.||Romeo is a high level prospect who seems to have perfected the nonchalant look. He’s a smooth athlete and scorer with above average ball skills. He can really handle the ball and create shots for a 2-guard. His outside shooting is still a work in progress as it wasn’t as efficient as one would like. He has a tendency to look as if he’s day dreaming, which doesn’t put NBA talent evaluators at ease regarding his focus and intensity. But he has a chance to be a steal if he falls.
NBA Comparison: Evan Turner
||Sekou Doumbouya 6-9 230 SF/PF France Intl.||Doumbouya is a talented prospect combining great size and versatility as he excels at ball handling and passing. He gets caught up in making the spectacular play at times and needs to become a better decision maker and more disciplined. He’s a bouncy athlete but in need of American Weight training. He may be as dependent upon landing in the right situation as anyone. With the right coaching he could become a versatile forward in the mold of Boris Diaw. But his skill set shows a lot of promise but remains unrefined.
NBA Comparison: Billy Owens
||Bol Bol 7-2 235 C Oregon Fr.||Bol is the 2019 draft’s other Unicorn, with Zion being the first. He is extremely unique and difficult to accurately project or find a good comparison for. Porzingis was establishing himself as one of the game’s great young big men before his injury and off court issues. One thing that appears accurate, aside from the length, shot blocking and outside shooting is that both player’s size make them injury prone. With such extreme length, a lot of pressure is put on their lower legs. Bol is one of the biggest wild cards available, as some even speculated he could challenge to be the number one pick early on. Having missed a great deal of the season, and develop a bit of a questionable work ethic, look for Bol to slide to the mid-to-late first round.
NBA Comparison: Kristaps Porzingis
||Charles Bassey 6-10 245 C Western Kentucky Fr.||Bassey had a bit of a slow start to the season but improved as the season rolled along. While not the most fluid of big men, he possesses a strong frame and excellent explosiveness. He showed ability as a shot blocker, rim protector and rebounder and is a focused, competitive and high character kid. He excels when challenged but has shown a tendency to play down to the level of his competition at times, which begs the question of why he and his group chose Western Kentucky. He was among the highest rated prospects in his class throughout high school and figures to be a big sleeper if he falls this far.
NBA Comparison: Gorgui Dieng
||Tyler Herro 6-5 200 SG Kentucky Fr.||Herro combines a great feel for the game with elite level shooting ability. He’s a decent athlete that will surprise with his leaping ability at times. He may not have the strongest of frames and will need to focus on getting stronger in order to be more effective driving to the rim. His defense has shown steady improvement, and while he may always struggle with lateral speed, the fact the he could develop into a high level NBA shooter gives him intrigue. He’ll have to polish his ability to move without the ball and setting up open looks, but his shooting stroke is his biggest asset.
NBA Comparison: Nik Stauskas
||Daniel Gafford 6-10 230 PF/C Arkansas So.||Gafford is perhaps the most athletic big man available this year. He’s a long, fluid bigman who runs the floor well and uses his length and athleticism well to convert alley oops, put backs and be a menace on the boards. He still needs to add strength to handle more physical players. Today’s emphasis on bigs that can shoot from the perimeter and spread the floor decreases Gafford’s stock to a degree. He lacks ideal touch on his shot, and is more effective scoring on the block.
NBA Comparison: Chris Anderson
||Goga Bitadze 6-11 250 C Rep. of Georgia Intl.||Bitadze is a tough nosed European center with a great set of skills. Sort of a Marc Gasol lite. Bitadze can really shoot it and has a toughness to him. He’s not the fastest or most athletic player but his skill level and knowledge of the game are advanced. He’s considered one of the few European prospects, along with Doumbouya, with a chance to go in the first round this year.
NBA Comparison: Nenad Krstic
||Naz Reid 6-10 250 PC/C LSU Fr.||Reid had a bit of an up and down season. He struggled for much of the early part of the season, adjusting to having lost a great deal of weight and playing with a lighter body. He is a talented kid, but detractors wonder about his motor and whether he is a self starter. There aren’t many bigs with the type of mobility and body that he has that can knock down outside shots the way that he can. He’s also pretty skilled as a ball handler and passer for a big. Whether he has the drive to continue to improve his body and develop his game is the key.
NBA Comparison: Anthony Mason
||PJ Washington 6-8 235 PF Kentucky So.||Washington had a strong sophomore season punctuated by an excellent showing in the NCAA tourney. He’s a versatile four, showing solid ability to handle the ball and pass it. While he lacks ideal height, his huge 7’2.5 wingspan allows him to play bigger. He projects as a solid role player for the next level. While likely not a star, he can add some scoring and overall versatility. He proved to be an impact player for one of the elite teams in the nation in his sophomore season, and many are projecting him as a mid first rounder.
NBA Comparison: Trey Lyles
||Brandon Clarke 6-8 215 PF/C Gonzaga Jr.||Clark is too old (22) and small (6’8 with a 6’9 wingspan) to be a first rounder, yet here he is. He’s one of the most explosive players not named Zion in this year’s draft. He also played with an incredible energy and drive all season. His work in the offseason, revamping an ugly jumpshot and turning it into a consistent one with decent form in a testament to his dedication. Clark’s ability to play bigger than his size and convert ally oops as well as protect the rim gives him solid intrigue. Whether his game will in fact translate to the next level, despite his lack of length remains to be seen. But his quickness, motor and work ethic gives him a real shot to grab a spot in the late first, after such a strong season.
NBA Comparison: Larry Nance
||Ty Jerome 6-5 200 PG Virginia So,||Jerome is one of the toughest competitors in college. He overcomes his physcial shortcomings with great intangibles and competitiveness. He impacts the game with his great passing ability, elevating his teammates and playing a steady and disciplined brand of basketball. A strong showing in the Final Four would be beneficial for his first round chances.
NBA Comparison: Greivis Vasquez
||Jordan Nwora 6-7 225 SF Louisville So.||Nwora isn’t the fastest player or more impressive physical specimen, but he’s a solid athlete with an excellent feel for the game and can knock down perimeter shots. He showed solid improvement in his sophomore season, developing into Louisville’s top scorer and offesnive focal point. He will surprise with his explosiveness at times, and is a cerebral decision maker. He figures to be a solid role player for the next level due to his dedication and maturity and desire to improve.
NBA Comparison: Rick Fox
||Moses Brown 7-1 240 C UCLA Fr.||Brown is still an uncertainty to enter and may opt to stay in school an additional year. He could use the development both physically and skillwise. But if he were to declare, he’s an intriguing option due to his length, agility and potential. His free throw shooting and offensive game are still a long ways from polished, and he is a player that will take time. But he’s a bright kid who appears to be willing to put in the work to improve.
NBA Comparison: Justin Patton
||Kevin Porter 6-6 220 SG/SF USC Fr.||Porter is a top ten pick on talent. The problem is that he has developed a reputation for being virtually uncoachable. He butted heads with USC coach Andy Enfield on a number of occasions and in turn was suspended. There are real concerns about his focus and dedication to the game and whether he has what it takes to fit into an NBA team’s framework. As crazy as it sounds, if NBA teams completely on his off court behavior though the workout process, he could legitimately slide all the way into the second round.
NBA Comparison: DeShawn Stevenson
||Jalen McDaniels 6-10 195 PF San Diego State So.||McDaniels struggled early and late, but put a very solid string of games together in the mid-part of the season. He had some off the court distractions that may explain some of his inconsistency and lack of focus. He’s one of the draft’s better athletes showing the ability to create baskets as a stretch four. While he lacks ideal strength and weight, he’s wiry strong and shows the ability to fight for position and rebounds against stronger opponents.
NBA Comparison: Charles Smith