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Duke, NBA, Draft, 2019, Freshmen, Zion, RJ Barrett

(via WCET.com)

     The NBA is currently in a state of flux, with supposedly inferior teams racking up wins over presumed playoff favorites such as the Lakers and Thunder.  Because of this, draft boards are having trouble predicting where college basketball stars this year will be drafted.  Here at AccessNews24, we will try to shed some light on the topic by analyzing multiple top picks and where they will land next year in the 2019 NBA Draft.  Team positioning is based on statistics from tankathon.com (current standings) and nbadraft.net (predicted standings) as of 10/30/18.

 

10. Bol Bol, 7’2″ C, 220 lbs, 18 years old, Oregon

Current team drafted to: New York Knicks (2-5).  Predicted team drafted to: Los Angeles Lakers

Bol Bol has been highly touted since high school, yet while his versatile game combine with preposterous length cause draft scouts to drool occasionally, his inability to put on the right type of weight and become an elite defender has led to his stock falling in recent months.  While this downward trend has a high chance to continue as Bol faces a tough Pac-12 conference, his natural talents combined with his pedigree should make a team in the mid-lottery range risk their pick for the perceived benefit of a “unicorn” stretch-5 to compete in today’s NBA.

9. Rui Hachimura, 6’8″ F, 225 lbs, 20 years old, Gonzaga

Current team drafted to: Chicago Bulls (2-5).  Predicted team drafted to: New York Knicks

Hachimura is coming off an impressive Final Four run last year, where his strong mid-range game and supreme athleticism helped carry Gonzaga during rough stretches of play. What he lacks as a prospect in terms of age and shooting range he makes up for with sound decision-making and versatile defense.  Hachimura will continue to carry a tough Gonzaga team this year, and assuming they perform tantamount to last year, Hachimura’s performances in the tournament will catapult him into top ten contention.

8. DeAndre Hunter, 6’8″ F, 225 lbs, 20 years old, Virginia

Current team drafted to: Los Angeles Lakers (2-5).  Predicted team drafted to: Brooklyn Nets

A huge question coming into the college basketball season is the state of Virginia basketball after their historic loss to sixteenth seeded UMBC in the first round of the tournament.  Weeks before, their defensive star DeAndre Hunter broke his wrist and was ruled unable to play for the season.  He was lauded as a lottery prospect at the time, reminiscent of a young defensive stud from San Diego State named Kawhi Leonard.  Similarly to Kawhi, Hunter can easily lock down defenders positioned 1-4, which led to easy offense and subsequently easy wins for a 31-3 Virginia squad.  Hunter was the leader of this team as a freshman, and should look to improve his scoring this year to potentially move up to a top five pick.

7. Quentin Grimes, 6’5″ G, 205 lbs, 18 years old, Kansas

Current team drafted to: Brooklyn Nets (2-5).  Predicted team drafted to: Boston Celtics (from Sacramento)

Quentin Grimes is a full-fledged combo guard, with NBA moves and is ready to lead a stacked Kansas team deep into the tournament this year.  This alone should propel him up the draft big boards this year.  Additionally, this draft class is lacking in elite point guard talent, which should work in Grimes’ favor when the weaker teams are on the clock early on.  Coach Bill Self has already had a season of experience coaching the true freshman, as they participated together overseas this year in a FIBA tournament.  Look for Kansas to start strong this year, and for Grimes’ stock to shoot up.

However, it should be noted that a team like the Boston Celtics is too deep for a player like Grimes to develop.  Boston has draft picks from Sacramento and Memphis (top 14 protected) this year, plus their own pick.  Most experts see them packaging their picks to move up for one elite prospect.  This makes sense as they do not have the cap space or the minutes to take on three prospects.

6. Romeo Langford, 6’6″ SG, 200 lbs, 18 years old, Indiana

Current team drafted to: Atlanta Hawks (2-5; from Dallas).  Predicted team drafted to: Chicago Bulls

The Mr. Indiana award, given to the best high school basketball player from Indiana each year, was awarded to SG Romeo Langford this year.  He returned the favor by subsequently committing to his home state and will attend Indiana University, where he is projected to put up outstanding scoring numbers this year.  Langford is a proven scorer, with a natural feel for getting easy buckets.  Granted, he is not the proven 3-point shooter scouts like for today’s NBA.  if he is able to put up solid (37+%) from three this year, he should easily go in the top 10, possibly top 5.

5. Sekou Doumboya, 6’8″ F, 230 lbs, 17 years old, France B League Professional

Current team drafted to: OKC Thunder (1-4).  Predicted team drafted to: Orlando Magic

The biggest wild card when it comes to projecting any of these prospects’ contributions when they hit the NBA is Sekou Doumboya.  At only 17 years old, he has a chance to be the youngest prospect drafted this year.  He has a complete game: he can run the floor, get up for a transition alley-oop, and has a reliable jump shot both set and off the dribble.  The problem with projecting his draft stock is he has no tangible NBA ready skill that will immediately transition to production once drafted.  He has a completely rounded out game, yet still has much to improve on.  Team fit will be essential for a player like Sekou; if put into a situation where he is given time to grow, he should thrive eventually and one day become an NBA All-Star.  However, I feel his initial draft placement will be dependent on the performance(s) of prior young, European stars, like Luka Doncic.

4. Zion Williamson, 6’7″ F, 270 lbs, 18 years old, Duke

Current team drafted to: Houston Rockets (1-4).  Predicted team drafted to: Atlanta Hawks

The athletic daemon that is Zion Williamson took the social media world by storm the last couple years with his mind-boggling dunks and highlights online.  Now, he committed to Duke to study under Coach K, and his basketball acumen will be put to the test against more legitimate competition.  Due to the hype coming into the season, it would only be natural for some holes in Zion’s game to become apparent in college.  While he is certainly a top-10 pick due to his ungodly athleticism, reliable jump shot, and improved passing acumen, he has the chance to go first overall if he can play through his team.  If he tries to mimic his game from high school, he may be sorely disappointed due to the massive increase in opposing talent.

3. Cam Reddish, 6’9″ SF, 205 lbs, 18 years old, Duke

Current team drafted to: Washington Wizards (1-5).  Predicted team drafted to: Atlanta Hawks (from Dallas)

While listed as a small forward, many scouts consider Cam Reddish a true positionless player due to his high passing acumen and tight ball handling skills.  Reddish is a complete player on both ends; at 6’8″ with a wingspan longer than 7′, he will make an immediate impact on both ends of the floor at Duke.  He is probably the best shooter at Duke this year, which is saying a lot considering top prospect R.J. Barrett is also lauded for his 3-point accuracy.  If everything goes right for Cam Reddish this year, Coach K’s offense should be ran through him, and his high IQ will shine and propel him to a potential first overall pick.  However, he is playing for a historically talented Duke basketball squad this year, and therefore may be outshined this year on the court, sheerly due to lack of distribution.  If this is the case, Reddish will be the sleeper pick of the draft; his high IQ and complete game at a young age will translate beautifully on the NBA level.

2. Nassir Little, 6’6″ SF, 215 lbs, 18 years old, North Carolina

Current team drafted to: Phoenix Suns (1-5).  Predicted team drafted to: Memphis Grizzlies

Nassir Little will join an experienced North Carolina this team, providing just the jolt they need to have a deep tournament run.  In Little, they receive a tough-minded, two-way guard with the ability to take over a game on both ends of the floor.  Additionally, when placed against higher level competition, he has been known to thrive.  He scored 28 points to become the McDonald’s High School All-Star Game MVP, showing he is more than capable of handling himself against the most elite players.  Nassir Little path to the first overall pick is layed out right in front of him; he is as talented as any recruit this year, but is predicted to receive more touches than any of his individual counterparts at Duke.  If he improves his outside shot and takes over as the top option on an experienced Noth Carolina team, then his gaudy statistics should propel him to first overall.

1. R.J. Barrett, 6’7″ SF, 210 lbs, 18 years old, Duke

Current team drafted to: Cleveland Cavaliers (0-6).  Predicted team drafted to: Phoenix Suns

R.J. Barrett is the complete package: he has length, high IQ style of play, and a pure jump shot from NBA 3-pt range.  Additionally, he has NBA pedigree as two-time NBA MVP Steve Nash is his godfather and trained him on how to see the floor from a young age.  Despite the massive media output from Zion Williamson and his team garnering the majority of attention this year in college basketball, all the experts rank Barrett higher due to his complete NBA-ready style of play.  Barrett’s biggest challenge this year will be to his left and right on the court, as he will have to prove he is a tier above teammates Zion Williamson and Cam Reddish.  This is no small task, but come June I do see R.J. Barrett being drafted first overall, regardless of the team on the clock.

Samuel Ryan

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