With the deadline to withdraw your name from the NBA Draft passed, the field of players is all set. The top three in this class is pretty much already in place, but what goes on behind those three is anyone’s guess. Here are some of my thoughts on a few players from this class.
Darius Garland is the Clear Fourth Best Prospect:
- The top three are the exact same in almost everyone’s big board: Zion, Ja, RJ. The fourth spot is where things start to vary. Most big boards and mock drafts have one of Darius Garland, DeAndre Hunter, and Jarret Culver at #4 with the occasional Cam Reddish sighting. But to me, Garland is clearly the best option here. I’d actually argue that he is in the same tier as the top 3 guys and that the drop-off is from the four to five spot, not the three to four spot. We haven’t gotten to see a ton of tape on Garland considering he missed most of the season due to injury, but the basketball I have gotten to see from him has made me really like him as a prospect. I see a lot of Damian Lillard in Garland. Similar to Lillard he has almost limitless range, and a quick release. He also has some of the best handles and twitches I’ve seen in a while. I think Darius Garland is a better scorer than Ja Morant, but Morant’s defense and passing ability puts him barely ahead of the Vanderbilt product. Regardless, I think Garland will be a great player with his ceiling being Damian Lillard and his floor being Lou Williams.
Rui Hachimura is a Top Six Guy:
- I think people are greatly underrating Rui Hachimura. Most of the big boards and mocks I’ve seen have him as a borderline lottery guy somewhere between 10 and 20, but I have been going back and forth between Rui and Jarrett Culver for my #5 spot. Hachimura is 6’9” and 235 pounds with a 7’2” wingspan (only one inch shorter than Giannis Antetokounmpo’s). He also has incredible athleticism and ball skills for a guy his size. Watching Hachimura’s progression as a player at Gonzaga was beautiful. Rui arrived in Spokane as an extremely raw player who clearly had incredible athleticism and potential. This past season he was one of the best players in the entire country with very few weaknesses in his game. If Rui can continue to develop his three-point shot a little bit more, I could see him being a very good player at the next level, even reaching all-star level. I see Hachimura having a ceiling of one step below what Giannis is right now and a floor of Marcus Morris. I don’t understand why teams aren’t higher on Rui Hachimura.
- As a recruit, Nassir Little was the #3 player in the country and was bound for stardom at North Carolina, but he certainly did not accomplish that. Little took a lot longer to adjust to the college level than people expected, which led to him coming off the bench for pretty much the entire season. At 6’7” 220 with a 7’2” wingspan, Little looks like the perfect prototype for a modern NBA wing. However, I have concerns about his development on the offensive end. At North Carolina- playing in an offense that is built for incredible athletes like Little- he only averaged 9 points a game on 18 minutes, an underwhelming accomplishment. He shot 26% from three throughout the season on 52 attempts. Sure players often develop better jump-shots, but his lack of ability to hit open shots even from a shorter college line is concerning. With all of this said, I think Little will be a very good defender in the NBA. He has the body for it, and at UNC he averaged 1.5 steals and 1.5 blocks per 100 possessions. His ceiling is Andre Iguodala and his floor is Shabazz Muhammed. I think he’ll end up a career bench role player who can come in and provide some high-quality defense with a few flashy dunks here and there, but seeing as he’s projected 5-10, that’s not going to cut it for me.
- Though Jerome certainly won’t be a lottery pick, most mocks I’ve seen have him as a back end first round guy, and I think that’s absurd. Ty Jerome is a bum. He was the third (maybe fourth behind Diakite come tournament time) best player on Virginia this season. He averaged 13 and 5 as a junior this year which is solid but will only go downhill in the NBA. Ty Jerome has solid size at 6’5” for a point guard, but his athleticism isn’t even close to good enough for the NBA. He should’ve stayed to finish his career at Virginia because he’s going to need that degree in five years when he’s out of the league unless he wants to spend his life playing ball in Ukraine.
- I’m a little surprised to see where Admiral Schofield is projected (mid to late 2nd round). He had an incredible career at Tennessee and also has good size and athleticism for an NBA wing at 6’6″ 241 pounds. Schofield may not become a prolific scorer in the NBA, but I believe he will be a solid three-and-D player who can also run the floor. Schofield also is an incredible locker room guy and vocal leader. I see him becoming a Robert Covington level player. Whoever takes a chance on him in the draft will be making a great pick.
- Waters was one of my favorite players to watch this past college season. He had some of the best handles and shooting ability in the country, and was the leading scorer on a very talented LSU team at 15.3 ppg. He is quicker than almost every guy he goes up against, has as deep of a shooting range as anyone in this class, and is a crafty finisher at the rim. If Waters were 6’3″ we’d be talking about him as a potential lottery pick, but unfortunately because of his 5’11” (generously) height, he is projected as a mid to late 2nd round pick. Waters’ size will certainly hurt him especially on the defensive end, but he is a very tough and feisty player so I don’t believe he will get bullied around too bad. He is a similar size to guys like Isaiah Thomas, Fred VanVleet, D.J. Augustin, and Darren Collison, and in my opinion, he is just as skilled (if not more skilled) offensively as any of those guys. He will have a nice NBA career as a high-level backup PG or bottom-end starter.