2019 NBA Draft: Top 5 Lists

Mon, 06/17/2019 - 5:27pm

Draft night is just a three nights away and once again we have compiled our Top 5 Lists for a number of categories. Here are our breakdowns on some top 2019 NBA Draft prospects that are tops in their categories followed by Top 5 Lists.

Past Years
2018 Top 5 Lists
2017 Top 5 Lists

2016 Top 5 Lists
2015 Top 5 Lists
2014 Top 5 Lists
2013 Top 5 Lists


Most Athletic: Zion Williamson

There’s really no competition for Williamson in the category of sheer athleticism. While the Duke product’s skillset is impressive, his physical tools are a once-in-a-generation cocktail of burst and strength. He weighs in at 280 but possesses tremendous explosiveness and moves so well across the court. He has the strength and length to defend the center position but the quickness to defend guards on the perimeter. Williamson is a physical specimen the likes of which, some are saying, have not been seen since LeBron James as far as sheer physical tools go.

Strongest Player: Eric Paschall

Zion is the strongest player on our top 5 list. However, let's give Eric Paschall some shine for being second. Paschall may be a four-year guy but he’s starting to get first round buzz. Standing at a stout 6’7” and 255 lbs., he posted a top 3 result in the bench press at the draft combine. He combines with his lethal outside shot the ability to back defenders down inside and rebound against longer players using his strength and tenacity. He is hardly a lock for the first round but his unique skill set helped the Villanova Wildcats to four years of big win totals and should get his name called sometime on draft night.

Fastest Player: Coby White

On just end to end speed, there isn't a faster player in the draft than Coby White. Coach Roy Williams called White his fastest player since Ty Lawson, who was a speed demon as well. White is a handful to stay in front of as he has absolute jets to blow by opposing guards as well as push the ball up the floor on the break. Darius Garland is a close second, and both Ja Morant and Jordan Bone are worthy of the discussion. but White is a blur, and the most impressive thing is he does it at 6'5.

Length: Tacko Fall, Central Florida

Fall shattered the record for wingspan recorded at the combine by a long shot with an 8'2.25 wingspan. His wingspan is a full 8 inches greater than his barefoot height, which is an unbelievable 7' 5.25" His 10'.25" standing reach give him the ability to dunk the ball without his feet leaving the floor. Fall enters the league as a project, but one that can;t be ignored following his performance in the NCAA tournament where he limited Zion Williamson's effectiveness. Fall's size makes him a potential rim protector. And the fact that he has worked hard on his mobility, conditioning and shooting means that he can bring a few more things to the table. With Boban Marjanovic's ability to carve out a role in a progressively smaller and faster NBA, Tacko Fall's chances are enhanced.

Best Shooter: Cameron Johnson

At 6'8, Johnson has not only the accuracy but the size to get looks from the perimeter. He's become a dead eye shooter over four years in college, two at Pitt and two at UNC. he lead all legitimate draft prospects at a 45.7% shooting clip, knocking down 96 of 210 on the year. He has a chance to be a late first rounder, as he possesses a highly sought after commodity with his perimeter accuracy and proficiency. What he is lacking is athleticism and body strength, which could make him somewhat one dimensional at the next level. There is also word that he has some concerns physically with hips that could cause issues down the road. Regardless, Johnson can fill it up from outside and gets the nod over sharpshooters like Kyle Guy, Tyler Herro and Dylan Windler.

Best Passer: Ja Morant

Morant had a hand in an overwhelming number of Murray State’s baskets this year, as he we either scoring or assisting on nearly every successful possession his team had. He has incredible court vision as well as good height for a point guard (6’3”), and he has to draw enough attention when he drives that there will often be a teammate open whom he will inevitably find if he doesn’t finish himself. Incredibly, Morant, a 24+ PPG scorer (good for 8th in Division I), was also the national leader in assists per game with a whopping 10 APG, 2.3 higher than the next closest person and the highest total in Division I men’s basketball since the 2013-2014 season. Morant is a special floor general and would be the first pick in most drafts.

Best Ball Handler:
Darius Garland, Vanderbilt

Though America didn’t get to witness it much with his fall semester injury, Garland predicates his game off his ability to blow by defenders and his great handle. He’s deadly in transition but also a terror in a half-court set which gives him the option of finishing or kicking it out to an open man. His slick handles are the trademark of his game as he is a very good isolation scorer, utilizing amazing quickness and hand eye coordination to set up shots for himself. It will be interesting to see if his injury saps him of any of his quickness, but with time to recover, he should bounce back just fine. He has a tendency to get a little careless with his handle and commit turnovers, so that will be one thing he will need to address at the next level. This guy is potentially a top 5 pick for a reason, and his quickness and ability to handle the ball is an integral part of his game.

Best Perimeter Defender: Matisse Thybulle

In the modern day NBA, you don’t see a lot of perimeter guys getting drafted specifically because of their prowess on the defensive end. Sure, the occasional lanky big man may be taken to serve as a rim protector but generally, wing players who hope to hear their name on draft night need to be elite offensively. Matisse Thybulle subverts that line of thinking a bit because he’s just so magnificent on the defensive end. Probably the best perimeter defender in all of college basketball this season, Thybulle is a 9.1 PPG scorer who shot just 31% from 3 last season...and yet he is getting first round buzz. Every time he takes the court, it’s likely he locks up his man entirely. But then you throw in his skill as a team defender and his nose for the ball on the defensive end, and you have a guy who averages 3.5 steals per game (a comfortable first in Division I) as well as 2.3 blocks per game (20th nationally and truly incredible for a 6’5” shooting guard). Rarely will you find such a combination of physical tools, defensive instincts, and refined technique on the defensive end in a college player so this guy, if he can contribute enough on the offensive end to stay on the court, could be a fixture on all-defensive teams for years to come.

Best Post Defender:
Jaxson Hayes

The one-and-done big man out of Texas still needs some polish as he just turned 19 in May, but he already showed that he can be a great defender at the college level. Averaging over 2 blocks per game, Hayes showed he can alter shots at the rim, but beyond that, he’s a fantastic athlete for his size and can step out on the perimeter to defend the pick and roll, a staple of any elite big man in the modern NBA. His 7’4” wingspan and elite athleticism make the sky the limit for Hayes as a defender, and he is a likely lottery selection primarily because of his defensive potential.

Most Offensive Versatility: Coby White

While another point guard, Ja Morant, might at first glance be the more logical choice for this recognition, White has shown he can play either guard position and be successful both on and off the ball at the college level, which will be important at the next level when he may not be as much of a focal point of the offense. He can score inside with his elite quickness but he’s also a solid outside shooter as well. And while his assist numbers (4.1 APG) do not jump off the page, he can both distribute and score. A 6’5” guard, White projects as either a tall point guard at the next level, or a dynamic off-guard, depending on what his team needs him to be.

Most Defensive Versatility:
DeAndre Hunter

A great athlete with a 7’2” wingspan, Hunter possesses the physical tools to be an incredible defender. He can realistically guard anyone from point guards to power forwards, even at the next level, because he has the quickness and length to stay in front of a guard but the length and body to stick with modern day stretch 4’s. A product of Tony Bennett’s system at Virginia, he’s a smart defender which will work well in tandem with his ability to switch off of his man at the pro level.

Highest Risk/Highest Reward:
Bol Bol

The 19-year-old son of Manute Bol spent the past year at University of Oregon but only saw the floor for nine games before being shut down with a foot injury. His skill set is one basketball has rarely seen. He stands at 7’2” but is a fantastic outside shooter, connecting on 52% of his 25 college three-point attempts, a small sample size, but one that’s accurate with the common perception that he’s a pretty stellar shooter for a 5. As is to be expected, he’s a tremendous shot-blocker but he also was consistently scoring 20+ with a mix of outside shooting and polished post moves and rebounding 9+ against decent college competition before he got injured. This is a guy who looked great as a first semester freshman competing against college competition. But currently, he is projected to fall out of the lottery because of concerns about his dedication, health and longevity. You don’t see a lot of guys his size, particularly with his body type, last very long in the league. He’s pretty rail-thin so the the question becomes one of whether he can A) stay healthy and B) defend NBA big men without getting bullied down low. This guy could be the steal of the last several drafts if he goes at 20 as is projected, but it’s just hard to envision what he will become at the next level as we have never really seen a prospect quite like him.

First Round Sleeper: Rui Hachimura

Hachimura seems to be this draft's forgotten man. He's been criticized for being a tweener and having a shot that will be difficult to extend due to being flat. But let's not forget he had a monster performance against Duke in November at the Maui Jim Maui Invitational, matching up with Zion and Barrett and coming out on top. He's got phenomenal strength and the versatility to play either forward spot. He's got inner strength missing from other prospects and should continue to work at his craft and improve while other players have peaked. He's projected by some as nothing more than a 20 range prospect, but look for him to end up one of the top handful of players to come out of this draft when all is said and done.

Second Round Sleeper: Louis King

King is extremely immature and there's a very good chance that he falls into the second round on draft night, despite having first round talent. his landing spot will be as a important as anyone's as he is in desperate need of a strong environment in order to mature and develop. But the talent is there for him to be an excellent pro. He showed the versatility to defend multiple positions, to facilitate as a point forward, and to knock down outside shots. He's still a few years away physically and mentally, but the makings are there and the talent is there for him to find a spot and contribute at the NBA level.

Undrafted Sleeper: Zylan Cheatham

The focus for most of the year for scouts in Tempe was around Luguentz Dort, after his fast start. Cheatham flew under the radar, and there is a good chance the senior doesn't hear his name called on draft night. However, Cheatham is an extremely versatile player with the ability to defend multiple positions, as well as utilize his standout athleticism on the boards and at the rim for put backs. He's limited somewhat offensively and his shot still needs work. But Cheatham is an excellent project for a team to work with due to his elite level length and athleticism, plus his motor and desire to compete.

Athleticism

1. Zion Williamson, Duke
2. Ja Morant, Murray Staete
3. Brandon Clarke, Gonzaga
4. Nassir Little, North Carolina
5. Jordan Bone, Tennessee

Strength


1. Zion Williamson, Duke
2. Eric Paschall, Villanova
3. Rui Hachimura, Gonzaga
4. Bruno Fernando, Maryland
5. Luguentz Dort, Arizona State

Speed

1. Coby White, North Carolina
2. Darius Garland, Vanderbilt
3. Ja Morant, Murray State
4. Jordan Bone, Tennessee
5. Carsen Edwards, Purdue

Length:

1. Tacko Fall, Central Florida
2. Mfiondu Kabengele, Florida St.
3. Eric Paschall, Villanova
4. Rui Hachimura, Gonzaga
5. PJ Washington, Kentucky

Shooting

1. Cameron Johnson, North Carolina
2. Kyle Guy, Virginia
3. Dylan Windler, Belmont
4. Matt Morgan, Cornell
5. Tyler Herro, Kentucky

Passing

1. Ja Morant, Murray State
2. Ty Jerome, Virginia
3. Jaylen Hands, UCLA
4. Jordan Bone, Tennessee
5. Tremont Waters, LSU

Ball Handling

1. Darius Garland, Vanderbilt
2. Ty Jerome, Virginia
3. Tremont Waters, LSU
4. Ja Morant, Murray State
5. Coby White, North Carolina

Perimeter Defender


1. Matisse Thybulle, Washington
2. DeAndre Hunter, Virginia
3. Nassir Little, North Carolina
4. Ja Morant, Murray State
5. Terence Davis, Mississippi

Post Defender

1. Jaxson Hayes, Texas
2. Bol Bol, Oregon
3. Bruno Fernando, Marylnd
4. Brandon Clarke, Gonzaga
5. Tacko Fall, Central Florida

Offensive Versatility

1. Coby White, North Carolina
2. Ja Morant, Murray State
3. Mfiondu Kabengele, Florida St.
4. Chuma Okeke, Auburn
5. Nickeal Alexander Walker, Virginia Tech

Defensive Versatility

1. DeAndre Hunter, Virginia
2. Jaxson Hayes, Texas
3. Nassir Little, North Carolina
4. Brandon Clarke, Gonzaga
5. Isaiah Roby, Nebraska

High Risk/High Reward

1. Bol Bol, Oregon
2. Sekou Doumbouya, France
3. Cameron Reddish, Duke
4. Jaxson Hayes, Texas
5. Romeo Langford, Indiana

Lowest Risk

1. Ja Morant, Murray State
2. Zion Williamson, Duke
3. RJ Barrett, Duke
4. DeAndre Hunter, Virginia
5. Rui Hachimura, Gonzaga

First Round Sleeper

1. Rui Hachimura, Gonzaga
2. Bruno Fernando, Maryland
3. KZ Okpala, Stanford
4. Mfiondu Kabengele, Florida St.
5. Kelden Johnson, Kentucky

Second Round Sleeper


1. Louis King, Oregon
2. Chuma Okeke, Auburn
3. Cameron Johnson, North Carolina
4. DaQuan Jeffries, Tulsa
5. Jordan Bone, Tennessee

Undrafted Sleeper

1. Zylan Cheatham, Arizona St.
2. Kenny Wooten, Oregon
3. Ignas Brazdeikis, Michigan
4. Aric Holman, Mississippi St.
5. Admiral Schofield, Tennessee

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