With only 25 games remaining in the 2018-19 NBA season, the league's tank race could be as fierce as its last playoff spurt. With so many teams and assistants now sitting on their hands waiting for the May NBA lottery draw, The ringResident drafters are finally ready to form a big council – in a way. Kevin O'Connor, Danny Chau and Jonathan Tjarks, of the working group, highlighted the total lack of consensus in this year's project of hierarchy. Corner 3 podcast Franken has assembled a Big Board by organizing a repechage to determine their 14 best hopes. The order can shock you.
1. Zion Williamson
Fore / center, Duke, freshman (6 feet 7 inches, 285 pounds, 18 years old)
Kevin O'Connor: I experienced Zion Williamson's thrill among Duke's Cameron Crazies of Duke in Saturday's home game against NC State, thanks to an unexpected invitation from a former Alarm trainee and current Duke student. Standing on the rickety bleachers amidst a sea of students offered the ideal view of near Zion. The television adds 10 books, but in person, Duke's featured freshman student looks even smaller. He is faster too; the laws of physics do not apply to Zion. There is a roar every time he's on the break with an open floor in front of him. Since the fans are constantly standing up, just popping a few people can cause repercussions throughout the section. Williamson had two thundering batons on Saturday, so I now know what an earthquake looks like.
Up close, it is clear that Zion is still adapting to the mortals around him; sometimes he moves too fast for his own good, which can lead to turnovers or hasty shots. But his passing vision suggests a potential center-point, and his overall effort is admirable. Williamson fights for defense, shows a good defense awareness in off-ball with occasional mistakes and has magnetic hands that he uses to secure rebounds and lost balls. There is little doubt that Williamson will have a two-way impact as a versatile defender who can play multiple attacking roles. We have covered Zion a lot since opening night and the hype will only grow as March Madness approaches. Nothing that I saw on Saturday changed the notion that Zion is the best prospect since Anthony Davis.
2. Jarrett Culver
Guard, Texas Tech, sophomore (6 feet 5 inches, 195 pounds, 20 years old)
Danny Chau: Culver is the biggest 6-foot-5 basketball player I've ever seen. Whenever I watch him play, he apparently has a new physical quirk to brag on the floor. Some weeks it looks bigger, some weeks his already strong shoulders seem wider, some weeks his stride is a little longer than before. His body is transforming, and there are corners of the deep web that hints that Culver is not just a lot larger than its indicated size, but also that it might not be grown. If this is the case – if it is closer to 6 feet 10 feet than 6 feet 5 feet – the project could be an upheaval at the top (after Zion, of course).
The Texas Tech star is a lottery caliber player, no matter where he lands in the prior steps. Culver's statistics for 40 years in Lubbock's second year are impressive: 22.8 points for 50% of the field and 34% for 3, 8.1 rebounds and 4.7 assists. These figures reflect a year-over-year peak in production that resembles Evan Turner from 2007-2008 to 2008-2009 or Otto Porter Jr. from 2011-2012 to 2012-2013. Culver is in the same vein as perspective, in general: a clever, bouncy, comfortable wing that plays comfortably for others while dramatically improving its own typing abilities. Turner grew up as a slasher and Porter became a much more deadly three-point shooter; Culver's skill development lies somewhere in between.
These comparisons are not entirely flattering to the surface (Turner and Porter were still among the first three choices in their respective drafts). But Culver's literal growth potential transforms what would normally be the usual skills for rarity gurus guards for a player 6 feet 8 inches or taller. Culver has the DIY and wing skills at the top of each team's wish list, but the first thing I would try to find out if I was a front desk manager was If its growth plates are open or not. This could make the difference between a reliable 3-D wing and an imposing type of man that the NBA has rarely seen.
3. Ja Morant
Guard, Murray State, sophomore (6 feet 3 inches, 175 pounds, 19 years old)
Jonathan Tjarks: Morant won all the hype with an incredible second-year campaign, averaging 24.3 points on a 49.9% shot, 10.2 assists, 5.5 rebounds and 2 wins per game. His selling points are obvious. He is a 6-foot 3-point hyperathletic guard that combines incredible dipping skills with a well-rounded ground game. Morant was the star of college basketball (in the non-Sion division) this season, while he was playing for a school (Murray State) that few people could find on a map.
Damian Lillard (Weber State) and CJ McCollum (Lehigh) both acknowledged that the defensive attention they had seen at lower levels of college basketball had allowed them to prepare for the NBA. "[Playing at a smaller school] allows [NBA] teams to see how good you are, "said Lillard United States today in 2012. "It allows them to see how you react when teams oppose you, forcing you to play very hard because everything is done to stop you. I think it really helps and allows (people) to evaluate what you can do with what you are working with. They will see where this will result in NBA-level guys around you. "
While he's mostly dominated his up-graded competition at the Ohio Valley Conference, he's expected to have a spectacular end to the season that could tell us a lot about his potential at the next level. There is no guarantee that Murray State will even participate in the NCAA Tournament. The OVC is a one-game league and they were beaten 79-66 by Belmont, with whom they are tied for first place, in their only regular season game. Morant really struggled (according to his criteria) in the game, with 20 points on 5 shots out of 19 and nine assists. The way Belmont defends Morant in a winning home win in the conference tournament – and the way he reacts to their strategy – will be fascinating.
4. From Andre Hunter
Forward, Virginia, sophomore (6-foot-7, 225-pound, 21-year-old)
Tjarks: In a project without much talent star out of Zion, Hunter is lucky to be another type of star. He is a good athlete with physical tools (a solid frame with a 7-foot-2 span) to be a multi-position defender, and is much better offensively than most players at 3 and D. He can shoot deep (45.5% vs. 3 attempts on 2.2 attempts per game), but he is not just a goal shooter. He demonstrated his ability to get his own shot (14.8 points per game on 53% shooting) and move the ball (2.1 assists on 1.2 turnovers per game) despite the fact that he evolved in a restrictive offensive system that did not leave much freedom to the players. .
Riders head coach Tony Bennett slows the pace of the match with an incredibly conservative pattern at both ends of the floor. His system is not designed to give his players a beautiful appearance, but he improves them: Malcolm Brogdon, Joe Harris and Mike Scott have all exceeded the expectations of the NBA. The catch on Hunter is that he is an older prospect (he is a law student who is only three months older than Brandon Ingram) with a limited ceiling. Put it in a different system at the next level and it might have more potential than we realize.
5. R.J. Barrett
Guard / Striker, Duke, freshman (6 feet 7 inches, 202 pounds, 18 years old)
Hot: Is it an overreaction? Probably. It is likely that the dust falls through the pre-screened workouts and that Barrett re-emerges clearly. 2 to his teammate. But points 1 and 2 of this draft are not as strong as they were supposed to be during the pre-season. Barrett has always been at the forefront: a solid but elegant build, a clear alpha scorer mentality, a rumbling presence from one ocean to the other that looks like something which was passed from Ben Simmons to a generational legacy of Montverde Academy. But the brilliance has faded during the season despite truly impressive numbers. He looks ordinary in the half-court; Despite all his physical gifts, he does not yet have the creativity to overcome a lack of airspace or the ultimate ability to compensate for his rather rigid athleticism.
We are waiting for Barrett's so-called gaming ability – the kind of advanced ability that he has used on the international stage. It may have finally arrived, after an impressive triple-double (without any turnover) of 23 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists against NC State Saturday. After weeks of moaning about the ball game he's been playing this season, Barrett may well take the form that was waiting for us at the start.
Guard / Striker, Duke, freshman (6 feet 8 inches, 218 pounds, 19 years old)
O & # 39; Connor: Cam Reddish entered the university, screened as a versatile forward with silky skill and playmaker skill; he looked and played Paul George. But most often, this is not the player that the Blue Devils have. So far this season, Reddish is fourth in touch behind Williamson, R.J. Barrett and Tre Jones; This is the first time in Reddish's life that he has taken a back seat and is struggling to adjust. His shot goes cold for long periods. Even in high school, there were questions about his passivity. He avoids the contact inside and his intensity hesitates to defend himself. All these questions could negatively affect his draft position.
Reddish deserves a reassessment, not a penalty for failing to meet expectations. Instead of considering him as the next George, perhaps he is the next Gordon Hayward: a complementary marker offering versatility that also allows him to excel as an oversized distributor. He is not a lost cause. Red, with his size, skills and 7-foot-1 wings, is still a multi-positional defender who can shoot for himself and for others. It is extremely precious. At this point of the year, I think it's a mistake if Reddish drops to sixth place.
7. Jaxson Hayes
Center, Texas, freshman (6 feet 11 inches, 220 pounds, 18 years old)
O & # 39; Connor: Hayes corresponds to more than one title to the potential of a potential Clint Capela style center. Their games are similar: Hayes has springs in his legs, which he uses to mistreat the rim with dunks or to modify defensive shots. This season, he makes more than 80% of his throws, by Synergy. Capela took years to become a contributor: he had to improve his body, develop a softer feel and learn to read the floor. It can be disappointing to find that raw talent can get worse once it's exposed to the NBA, but in a rather uninspiring project, Hayes is worth playing.
8. Romeo Langford
Guard, Indiana, freshman (6 feet 6 inches, 215 pounds, 19 years old)
Hot: Aesthetically, there is no college basketball player outside of Sion. I like to look more than Langford. He has a confident and flawless ground game, with all the steps and pull-up ability needed to be a high-level goalkeeper these days. He may have the best glass among the country's athletes – a skill that certainly translates into such talents as Dwyane Wade, Brandon Roy and Derrick Rose early in his career. Langford has a remarkable sensitivity to the angles, touch and control of the body, necessary to pass the ball gently through the cylinder, by any means possible – probably something perfect to complete his fluid playing style.
With his long arms and compact frame, he has the tools to be both a volume scorer in the league and a strong two-way player. If he can improve his regularity of fire, he could well be the Markelle Fultz that we have never received. But if he fails to expand his reach reliably, much of his uniqueness at the university could make him an extremely inefficient player in the NBA.
9. Grant Williams
Forward, Tennessee, Junior (6 feet 7 years, 236 pounds, 20 years old)
Tjarks: Williams would have been considered a tweener a decade ago. At 6-foot-7, and 236 pounds, he would have been a power-down attacker without a clear position in the NBA. It's not a problem anymore. Williams was one of the top college basketball players this season, averaging 19.1 points on 57.9% shooting, 7.6 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.2 interceptions and 1.5 block by game while leading Tennessee to a 24-2 record. is doing should immediately translate into a more NBA game without a position. Think P.J. Tucker with a more complete offensive game.
One of Williams' main concerns is that he does not shoot enough 3s (34.4% on 1.2 attempts per game) for a player who will not be a main option at the next level. However, it may be more dependent on how it was used during the offense in Tennessee, which has almost all gone through. He is a two-point sniper (60.9% on 9.7 attempts) and a free throw shooter (83.1% on 7.3 attempts) who should be able to expand his range in a role. different. Williams is a two-way player with a high basketball IQ who added something to his game every season. He is already stronger and more physical than most NBA players at age 20. I bet he will understand it.
10. Nickeil Alexander-Walker
Guard, Virginia Tech, sophomore (6 feet 5 inches, 205 pounds, 20 years old)
Tjarks: Alexander-Walker is one of the safest players at this stage of the repechage. He will be able to shoot in the NBA: he shot 39.5% points on 4.8 attempts, 56.7% of 2 attempts at 7.1 and 74% of the line of free throws on 4.0 attempts this season. He made a huge jump from his first year at Virginia Tech, where he was primarily used as an elite sniper. Alexander-Walker has become one of the main options: shoot the moves and shoot for his teammates (3.8 assists for 2.8 turnovers per game). And although he is not a great athlete, his long mount (6 feet 9 inches) and his defensive defense instinct (2.1 flights per game) allow him to defend himself.
Hokies head coach Buzz Williams knows how to transform little-known recruits into NBA players. He created a row of hard – witted wings that outperformed their base stock (Jae Crowder, Jimmy Butler, Wesley Matthews) at Marquette. Although Alexander-Walker is more of an offensive player in the NBA than his predecessors, he has this style of play in his DNA. His combination of size, shooting ability, basketball IQ and defensive tree should be enough to get him off the board pretty quickly in this project.
11. Nassir Little
Forward, North Carolina, freshman (6 feet 6 inches, 220 pounds, 19 years old)
Hot: We are still waiting for Little. After a 23-point game, six rebounds and three assists against Virginia Tech at the end of January, one of the most excited freshmen in the nation is largely back in the shadows for the Tar Heels. Few prospects in the repechage can boast of having a more impressive setting, ready for the NBA, than Little, which has the length, volume and explosive athleticism that allow it to theoretically compete with n & # 39; Anyone, no matter the position. Although Little is only 6 feet 6 inches tall, his few glimmers of NBA potential during his stay at Chapel Hill were unblocked at 4, where his versatility is truly showcased. But there were not many opportunities. He did not show the scouts that his jumper had improved much since high school and he was not as strong on the defensive as his manager would suggest.
Taking full advantage of his physical potential can easily turn against him, as was the case when Marvin Williams was selected in 2005 as a clear reaction to LeBron James' early career dominance. But Williams was drafted no. 2; at no. 11, especially in a draft as scattered as this one, Little could be worth it.
12. KZ Okpala
Forward, Stanford, sophomore (6 feet 9 inches, 215 pounds, 19 years old)
O & # 39; Connor: From John Elway to Christian McCaffrey, Stanford is a real NFL factory. The same can not be said of his basketball program: George Yardley (1950), Rich Kelley (1975), Adam Keefe (1992), Josh Childress (2004) and Brook Lopez (2008) are the only prospects for Stanford to have been chosen. the lottery of the NBA. KZ Okpala, a second-year striker, could become sixth. Okpala first loved football, but it may well become Stanford's best basketball product in the last 69 years.
Okpala grew up guarding until a late growth spurt spread to 6 feet 9 inches; he always fills his slender frame and learns to use it. After struggling for his first year, he tightened his grip, which activated his score on the controls. Its length, long strides and fluid physical control may remind you of Brandon Ingram. Like Ingram, his shot must be improved, but his progression from the first year to the second year is encouraging thanks to some minor mechanical changes. Over time, Okpala may become a versatile midfield scorer.
Okpala lacks defensive bases, especially when he's off-screen and is not about to shoot at the shooters, but his quick offensive progress suggests he's adaptable. He still has many moments of defensive defense. with a long span of 7 feet 2 inches and excellent agility, he has a track to defend one day as Trevor Ariza. This is a hope for the late lottery, but by the June draft, do not be surprised if Okpala goes up even higher.
13. Garland Darius
Guard, Vanderbilt, freshman (6 feet 3 inches, 173 pounds, 19 years old)
O & # 39; Connor: Darius Garland's season was lost following a meniscus injury to the left knee after just five games, but freshman Vanderbilt should still be a lottery pick if there is no medical problem in long term. Garland is a match leader but, like Trae Young the year before, he uses his threat to shoot from anywhere to generate open looks for his teammates. Garland excels at creating space using a plethora of dribbling moves, and delivers accurate passes. I watched him in person against USC earlier this season and I was particularly impressed by his talent for dissecting defenses, shifting and attacking. If in good health, it would not be surprising if it had a positive impact on the offensive, even as a rookie. He is under-sized, at 6 feet 3 inches with a thin frame, making it a defensive responsibility, but he is skilled enough to succeed.
14. Brandon Clarke
Striker / center, Gonzaga, junior redshirt (6 feet 8 inches, 215 pounds, 22 years old)
Hot: Clarke will be 23 years old before the start of next season, making him one of the oldest hopes of caliber of the lottery. He will be nominated for his defense, which could be an elite even by NBA standards. Like Williams, Clarke would have been a hopeless 3/4/5 hope in a previous life – for example, Dominic McGuire: a similar sports center built in the body of a sports wing that languished on the sidelines of the league ten years ago . Today, Clarke could easily serve as an ubiquitous advocate; An equally skilled player to protect the rim, to blow pick-and-roll and to move away from the ball as a weak threat. Clarke, in theory, is a high-floor game. You know exactly what you are getting.
Still, I can not help thinking about what might still be untapped. He may be relatively old compared to his peers, but fast and explosive players have a wider margin of error. Pascal Siakam was one of the oldest players in the 2016 selection but managed to completely reorient his career in two years. Clarke, which has many Siakam strengths, could grow faster than expected in a system that allows it to grow organically. The next time Clarke will make a nice pass in the half-court, or the next time he'll win the ball from the top of the key up to the defense teeth with a vigorous spinning motion, know that There is certainly a precedent that goes beyond it. a simple role of defensive specialist.