With the NBA Draft coming up this Thursday, I wanted to give a breakdown of who I believe are the 14 guys (in order) that should go in the lottery part of the draft and how I see them in terms of tiers. To preface, for this breakdown, I did not include Goga Bitadze or Sekou Doumbouya because I really don’t know enough about them because I haven’t gotten to see them play hardly at all. I also want to mention that this doesn’t take into account fits for each team (i.e. Brandon Clarke would be a much better fit as a big in the Golden State system than the Portland system).
- Zion Williamson
- No surprises here. Zion is in a class of his own. He will be a perennial All-Star not just because of the hype but also because his skill and athleticism will warrant it. Unlike some, I don’t believe Zion is the next guy to join the Lebron/MJ debate, but I do think we will see a guy who has a career trajectory similar to that of Blake Griffin- a career 20+ ppg and 10+ rpg guy who starts off relying on insane athleticism and develops more ball skills and a better jump-shot as his career goes on and body deteriorates.
- R.J. Barrett
- Ja Morant
- Darius Garland
- Unlike most, I have Barrett at the #2 spot instead of Morant. The Grizzlies will take Morant, but I think Barrett is the better prospect. As I have said before, I think Garland is the clear #4 and belongs in this tier. I believe the guys in this tier have a better chance of making at least one All-Star game than not, with all three having the potential to make multiple All-Star games. I think Barrett with his incredible work ethic will develop a good jump shot making him a high-level player on both sides of the ball. Morant is an elite passer and solid defender, but I don’t think he will be an elite scorer. Garland, on the other hand, will be an outstanding shooter and scorer. The question for him is can he run the floor well enough to be a top tier point guard.
- Jarrett Culver
- Rui Hachimura
- Most people have Culver right around this spot, but I am higher on Hachimura than almost anyone I have seen. I believe both of these guys have as high of ceilings as anyone in tier two (multiple appearances in the All-Star game), but the difference is both have a much lower floor. Culver will definitely be a high-level defender, but what decides his career will be his ability to score whether that be on the pick-and-roll or in isolation situations. His improvement from 2017-18 to 2018-19 suggests that he can continue to develop into an elite scorer, but if he does not do that then he won’t be more than just a three-and-D guy. Hachimura has a massive frame at 6’8” with a 7’3” wingspan, and he is much stronger than people give him credit for. He also has solid ball skills for someone this size. If he continues to develop his jump shot and footwork I think he will be an All-Star and potentially a guy who eventually makes max contract money. Throwing out the comparison of Giannis for Rui seems like a stretch, but I certainly see a lot of similarities.
- Coby White
- De’Andre Hunter
- Cam Reddish
- This tier is a little tougher to get a grip on for me. I don’t really see these guys being All-Stars, but I do think they will all have extensive NBA careers as high-end role players or bottom end starters. White should have a solid career as an NBA point guard with his great speed and high-motor. My concern about White is that he isn’t really a true point guard. At North Carolina, he averaged four assists and three turnovers a game, which isn’t a great ratio. Hunter will be a high-level defender with his size and athleticism, and I think he will continue to develop the ability to knock down the open jumper, but I don’t think he has the quickness to create his own shot at an elite level. I see Hunter as a P.J. Tucker type player. Reddish is one of the hardest guys, in my opinion, to evaluate. He has the perfect NBA body and a beautiful shooting stroke, but for whatever reason, he struggled to find himself at Duke. He has a pretty high ceiling, but it all depends on whether he can figure himself out and gain some confidence in the NBA. Overall, I think this tier is the final group of “high-level” prospects meaning after this there is a major drop-off.
- Jaxson Hayes
- Kevin Porter Jr.
- Keldon Johnson
- All three of these guys are gifted athletes with high potential and the looks of modern NBA players, but they all need a lot of development. Johnson is probably the best player right now out of these three, but the other two have higher potential. This tier is three guys that, if they develop, could be solid NBA starters, but they also have the possibility of never improving and having a short NBA career.
- Brandon Clarke
- Grant Williams
- Both these guys are great players limited by their size. Clarke will be a great defender with his ability to defend almost every position, but the obvious concern is his 6’8” height. If he develops a better three-point shot, he could be a valuable stretch four. I’m not sure if Williams will play the three or a small-ball four spot, but either way, I think he will be a good role player. I don’t think whatever team drafts him is getting anything super special, but he is really good at hitting contested shots and is a solid disciplined defender.