With the NBA draft arriving Thursday (7 p.m., ESPN), let’s take a look at the top 50 prospects available.
1. Zion Williamson: The most impactful freshman of the past decade, and the most sui generis athlete since LeBron James decided to bypass college for the 2003 NBA draft. Williamson impacts the game on both sides of the ball — in the 33 games he played his freshman season for Duke, the team’s points per possession differential was .26 PPP; when Williamson missed six games with a right knee sprain, Duke’s PPP differential plummeted to .03 — an alarming indication of how crucial Williamson was to the Blue Devils’ success. The 6-foot-7 Williamson, who is capable of playing multiple positions, averaged 22 points, eight rebounds, two assists, two steals, and nearly two blocks, a stat line that no other Division I player has replicated in the past 25 years, but what makes Williamson such an incandescent prospect is his potential from both beyond the arc and on defense. Though Williamson shot 34 percent from deep on the season, the wing connected on 44 percent of his three-point attempts during the ACC tournament and March Madness, an indication that the freshman’s game is still developing. Coupled with his acute defensive awareness — Williamson’s play enabled Duke to lead college basketball in defensive PPP on isolation possessions (.635 PPP) — and the wing is by far the most complete college prospect in the modern era.
2. Ja Morant: Not only did the 6-foot-3 sophomore use more than a third of Murray State’s possessions in 2019, he scored 1.15 PPP, which led Division I for players with that large a usage rate. But Morant, who averaged 25 points per game and converted more than 54 percent of his two-point field goals, isn’t just a ball-hog who happens to be an offensive dynamo. The guard assisted on 54 percent of the Racers’ field goals, and his points per play and assist rate (1.37) ranked second nationally this season — which is impressive, but even more so considering the leader (Michigan State’s Cassius Winston) used 127 fewer plays than Morant (yet played eight more games than the MSU guard). As evidenced by the Racers’ first-round win against Marquette, Morant is more than capable of shredding an opposing defense to find open teammates: the guard’s 16 assists led to 41 points.
3. RJ Barrett: The 6-foot-7 freshman encountered numerous offensive issues in his lone season at Duke, but as the NBA has been high on Barrett for years, ever since the Canadian helped shock the USA’s under-19 team in 2017, those concerns aren’t likely to diminish the glare of Barrett’s potential. Specifically, that the wing is equally capable of getting buckets and absorbing defensive attention while finding teammates at the rim. Barrett used 699 possessions in the half-court, scoring .86 PPP, which ranked in the top 10 among similar high usage Division I players. Yet what’s interesting is that he assisted on a quarter of his overall possessions. Per Hoop-Math.com, nearly two-thirds of his assists were near the basket, an indication that Barrett’s skill set is perfectly suited to breakdown defenders — or, at the very least, shift a defense’s attention — before dropping the ball off for an easy bucket. Barrett has always been known for his scoring, but the wing is an intriguing facilitator who can thrive in a multi-ball handler offense.
4. Jarrett Culver: The fulcrum of Texas Tech’s offense, Culver is adept at utilizing ball screens and picks to his utmost advantage. The 6-foot-6 sophomore scored .90 points per pick, screen, or cut in 2019, which ranked in the top quarter of Division I. And playing within a Texas Tech defensive framework that emphasized deflections, Culver’s steal rate — nearly three percent — was the team’s second best, a credit to the wing’s awareness and ability to lock down opposing players. Culver can be plugged into a defensive rotation and thrive nearly immediately.
5. De’Andre Hunter: The Virginia forward is a draft darling of the analytics-minded, and that’s largely because of his defensive skill set, which is fueled by Hunter’s 6-foot-7 frame and timing. When Hunter was on the floor for Virginia this season, the team held opponents to just .88 PPP — considering he played nearly 2,000 defensive possessions, that level of defensive effectiveness is startling. Hunter ably matches up with fellow frontcourt players, and can stymie both drives and rim attempts with his superb body control and length, knowing when best to contest an opponent’s shot. Against Texas Tech in the national title game, he guarded Jarrett Culver, who only connected on five baskets the entire game. Plus, Hunter’s evolving perimeter game — he attempted 105 three-point field goals as a sophomore, up from 55 in 2018, and he made 44 percent of those shots — hints that the forward could transform into a player with three-and-D potential.
6. Brandon Clarke: Along with Williamson, Clarke, the 6-foot-8 Gonzaga forward, showcased an absurd level of efficiency in 2019. The two are the only players in the past 19 seasons to at least post a player efficiency rating of 37 and a box plus-minus of 18. Not only did Clarke’s offensive rating (1.34) lead Division I (for players who used a quarter of their team’s possessions), but he also was one of the stingiest interior defenders within college basketball, grabbing 20 percent of opponent’s misses while blocking 11 percent of shots. If he develops a more consistent jump shot — he attempted just 24 threes in three seasons — Clarke could thrive as a small ball five.
7. Cam Reddish: The small forward’s potential and lottery status is rooted on how others project his game. He arrived at Duke with the reputation as a perimeter threat, and despite glimpses of jump-shooting dominance (18 points against Auburn in Maui), his skill set never fully materialized: 33 percent shooting from beyond the arc and just .85 PPP on catch and shoot jumpers (which ranked in the bottom third of Division I). But if Reddish can develop any sort of consistency, there are few that can match his output from beyond the arc. Plus, with minimal effort — maybe a head-fake and one dribble — Reddish is near automatic when he puts the ball on the floor and dribbles into pullup jumpers. Reddish could be one of the best pick-and-pop players in this draft.
8. Coby White: There are few guards in Division I that push the ball in transition like White. The 6-foot-5 White is a blur in the open court, using his speed and athleticism to get past defenders and find his teammates the moment they are at their most efficient. The guard ranked within the top ten of transition points per play+assist in 2019 — the squad scored 1.2 PPA — and when he was forced to pull back and run North Carolina’s post-break offense, the team benefited from White’s ability to exploit spacing: 79 of his assists were in the half-court.
9. Darius Garland: The 6-foot-2 guard tore his left meniscus early in his freshman season at Vanderbilt, but during his high school and AAU career, Garland showcased an ability to execute and score in myriad pick and roll possessions, a skill set that translated to the college level when he was healthy. Per Synergy Sports, Garland ran a pick and roll just 41 plays in 2019, and scored 1 PPP — a small sample size, but an indication that his game is tailor-made to take advantage and exploit a defense’s shortcomings.
10. Jaxson Hayes: Only Bol Bol possesses more length than the Texas freshman in this draft’s lottery (Hayes’s wingspan measures 7-foot-3). Hayes is a model of efficiency — he played just 23 minutes per game, and only two other Division I players in the past decade combined to post a block rate of 10-plus percent and an offensive rating of more than 1.30: Brandon Clarke and Anthony Davis. A prototypical rim-running prospect, nearly 80 percent of Hayes’s offense originated at the rim, and the 6-foot-11 big scored 1.58 PPP, which ranked within Division I’s top 10. Coupled with a lateral quickness (which he utilizes while defending pick and rolls) and a smooth shooting form from the free throw line, Hayes projects as an elite-level shot blocker capable of scoring from the perimeter as well as at the basket.
11. Sekou Doumbouya: The 6-foot-9 forward is arguably this draft class’s rawest prospect. Doumbouya possesses the necessary physicality and athleticism to transform into a modern NBA big, and while there are concerns of whether his offensive profile needs considerable work (not to mention that he too often relies on his body’s skill set to compensate for poor fundamentals), Doumbouya is a blank canvas on which NBA executives have visions of frontcourt excellence.
12. Bol Bol: Standing 7-foot-2 with a 7-foot-7 wingspan, Bol has a dexterity and nimbleness that belies his physical attributes. But a stress fracture derailed his freshman season at Oregon, and save for a 26-point outing against Syracuse at Madison Square Garden, we never truly witnessed how offensively dominant Bol can be when he touches the basketball. Other than the potential for lobs, players his size can rarely match Bol’s skill set off the bounce — he glides around the half-court, seeking that glimmer of space before he slices past a defender and into a pullup jumper or layup. His strength and health will be a concern, but Bol’s scoring brilliance is too tantalizing to dismiss over questions about physicality.
13. Grant Williams: Tennessee’s 2019 opponents knew that when the shot clock entered single digits, Williams was going to get a touch. And yet, there was little those opponents could do to slow the 6-foot-7 junior, who was this season’s most efficient post player in Division I (and by a wide margin) — Williams scored 1.7 points per low block attempt. Throughout his Tennessee career, Williams always seemed able to find whatever angle necessary to score, connecting on 60 percent of his twos as a junior, and that he did so without the athleticism or size that his fellow draftees possess is incredible. He needs to develop a more consistent three-point touch, but his offensive profile is suited for an NBA game that prizes on-court awareness and the ability to capitalize on just a glimmer of an opponent’s misstep.
14. P.J. Washington: The sophomore completely retooled his game following his first season in Lexington. The forward had previously been bound to the block, waiting for his Kentucky guards to deliver perfectly timed post-entry passes, but Washington evolved, showcasing a nimble pick-and-pop perimeter game — he made 42 percent of his threes — to accompany his interior efficiency (1.02 points per post-up). That sort of diversity was why Washington was one of the most difficult matchups in the SEC this season — opposing bigs couldn’t simply wait for him to drive the paint — and the forward’s improvement in catch-and-shoot possessions (he scored 1.34 points per jumper; per Synergy Sports, that rate ranked third among high-major bigs) added an entirely different element to his game. That should suit him in a draft field largely absent of 6-foot-8 forwards that are both mobile and accurate from the perimeter.
15. Rui Hachimura: Though the 6-foot-8 junior was long a KenPom player of the year candidate, Hachimura is still very much a work in progress. Take his development from this past season — after his sophomore season, in which he played 21 minutes per game and posted an offensive rating of 1.20 PPP, the big was on the court for 30-plus minutes as an upperclassman and logged an even more efficient 1.22 PPP. One specific area of improvement? Hachimura fine-tuned his jump-shot, smoothing out his mechanics and shooting form, and scored 1.02 points per jumper (up from .71 in 2018). Few players in college basketball experience that level of skill refinement from their sophomore to junior seasons (that jump typically takes place during the summer following freshman year), and it evinces his inclusion as a potential lottery pick.
16. Nassir Little: The 6-foot-6 freshman is all about potential. Truthfully, he didn’t shine in Roy Williams’s game plan — Little’s offense is still limited, and he didn’t have the defensive skill set to shine against high major competition. But Little is all about imagination — as a high school recruit, Little was an explosive three-and-D player who doubled as a rim-running threat, and if he had stayed at least one more year, the freshman, who just turned 19, might have been an ACC player of the year candidate, though that rawness is arguably just as attractive to NBA execs as a fully polished prospect. And there were enticing flashes: during February play, per Hoop-Math.com, North Carolina posted a points per possession differential of +.15 PPP when Little was on the floor (the team’s second-best rate).
17. Tyler Herro: The Kentucky freshman has never encountered a possession in which he didn’t initially consider shooting the ball. But as Herro converted 36 percent of his threes in his lone year as a Wildcat, including one point per dribble jump-shot (a rate that ranked within the top 80 percent of Division I), Herro’s confidence from the perimeter is warranted. The guard has a variety of moves to separate himself from a defender before he rises into his jump shot, a picture-perfect form honed through countless repetition. But Herro isn’t a one-dimensional player — press up on and harass the guard, and Herro can effortlessly get past a defender and convert within the half-court, scoring .92 points per jumper within 20 feet.
18. Kevin Porter Jr.: The freshman doesn’t need much space in the half-court to create. Give the 6-foot-6 guard, who only played 21 games in 2019 (due to an early season suspension), a glimmer of an opening, and Porter’s on-ball brilliance starts to shine. Deny him space, and he’ll use a crossover followed by a step back to launch into a jump shot. Go under a pick, and Porter stockpiles downward momentum before unleashing it at the rim, finishing with ease among taller defenders. His skill set perfectly fits the current NBA, but he just needs more playing times to showcase an elite level of athleticism.
19. Mfiondu Kabengele: You’d think a player that stands 6-foot-10 and possesses Kabengele’s lankiness would simply trot to the low-block each offensive possession and await a lob pass, but the Florida State sophomore’s scoring profile is more nuanced. As he was often the Seminoles’ second or third option on offense, Kabengele’s touches were limited, so he often had to improvise with his looks (nearly 20 percent of his attempts were in the shot clock’s final five seconds). Yes, Kabengele made 53 percent of his twos, yet he also converted 37 percent from the perimeter, and he has an awareness to find openings with an opponent’s defensive game plan. The big scored nearly 1.3 points per pick and roll, either rolling to the bucket or sidestepping a defender for a midrange jump shot, of which he scored 1.2 points. Where he should immediately shine is on defense, using his length and superb timing as a shotblocker — his 8.3 percent block rate led FSU.
20. Goga Bitadze: The 6-foot-11 big has all the tools the NBA covets — a burgeoning offensive game in which he currently does all the little things (executing dribble-handoffs) correctly, while consistently working on refining the big things (a perimeter game and lateral defensive quickness).
21. Romeo Langford: The Indiana freshman’s profile doesn’t impress at first glance — an effective field goal percentage of under 50 percent and an offensive rating of just 1.06. But look a bit closer, and you’ll notice a player capable of improvising offensively who thrives when scoring amid interior congestion. Of those standing 6-foot-6 or shorter, only two other Division I players attempted more two-point field goals and rim attempts in 2019 than the Big Ten guard. Give Langford a bit of space, and he was driving the basket to either score or draw a foul (5.3 fouls per 40 minutes). And on a Hoosiers team that lacked players who could offensive create for themselves, Langford was the exception: only a quarter of his half-court field goal makes were assisted.
22. Talen Horton-Tucker: This year’s answer to the question: Who is the next Draymond Green? The 6-foot-4 freshman, who turned 18 last winter, is capable of defending all five positions — during defensive pick and roll possessions, per Synergy Sports, Horton-Tucker allowed opponents score just .51, a rate that ranked just outside Division I’s top 50, and his steal and block rate were both nearly three percent — and he also possesses an offensive versatility that can morph depending on the situation. If he camps out on the perimeter, the wing is more than of capable catching-and-shooting (1.11 PPP), yet he can also drive the rim and find open teammates: nearly half of his assists resulted three-point field goals. There are few prospects in this draft as compelling as Horton-Tucker, thanks largely to that playmaking diversity. Of the handful of players to notch block and steal rates similar to Horton-Tucker’s, while posting a PER of 17-plus, there are several notables, including Klay Thompson, Evan Turner and yes, Draymond Green.
23. KZ Okpala: On a mediocre Stanford team in a down year for the Pac-12, there wasn’t much of an opportunity to praise the 6-foot-9 sophomore’s game, but Okpala’s skill set is intriguing as he does everything well. Need a three? He shot 37 percent from deep in 2019. Need someone to break down a defense and get a bucket? He drew six fouls per 40 minutes. Okpala doesn’t turn the ball over and he can score in a variety of ways. That said, he is very much a work in progress, but Okpala’s NBA projection is among the brightest of this draft class.
24. Nickeil Alexander-Walker: We all knew that the 6-foot-6 sophomore was a knockdown jump shooter, as the Virginia Tech guard made 38 percent of his threes during his two seasons at the ACC school. But unknown was whether Alexander-Walker could also create for others, and it’s that dimension of his game that evolved considerably as a sophomore. On a team in which the guard often had to function as the primary ballhandler, Alexander-Walker’s points per play+assist rate (1.26 PPA) ranked in Division I’s top 40, and on a list of players in 2019 that posted an effective field goal percentage of 50 percent and an assist rate of 24 (both comparable to Alexander-Walker’s rates), the Hokie was the only ranking high-major guard. He’s equally as comfortable getting his own buckets and he is assisting his teammates, an impressive feat considering Virginia Tech’s offense flowed through his playmaking.
25. Cameron Johnson: The 6-foot-8 Johnson is an effective floor spacer whose ability to create off the bounce (.86 points per dribble jumper) and from deep (46 percent) greatly helped North Carolina’s offensive flow. On a team that lacked a dominant interior scorer or an efficient fast-break that we’ve come to expect from a Roy Williams-coached squad, Johnson represented consistency — whenever the Tar Heels needed a bucket, the wing was more than capable of coming off a screen and utilizing his lanky frame to rise above a defender and bury a jumper anywhere on the court.
26. Matisse Thybulle: Yes, the Washington guard played atop a 2-3 zone, which further highlighted his already prescient defensive skill set, but it’s still worth noting that during his final season, the 6-foot 5 Thybulle posted a block rate of 8.4 percent and a steal rate of 6.7 percent. Per CBB Reference, which began tracking both rates in 2009-10, Thybulle is the only player in its database that dominant defensively.
27. Nicolas Claxton: A mobile big with significant defensive upside (eight percent block rate and a penchant for controlling the defensive glass), Claxton is a bit of a wild card on the other side of the ball. During his two seasons at Georgia, Claxton never played with a pass-first point guard (no Bulldog had an assist rate above 20 percent in 2019), and as such, Claxton’s offense sputtered, but his physical attributes — standing 6-foot-11 with superb defensive timing — are tailor-made for the current NBA.
28. Keldon Johnson: A bucket-getter of the first order, the 6-foot-6 freshman was supremely confident whenever the ball swung his way during a Kentucky possession, and his scoring skill set often capitalized during those touches — he made 38 percent from deep as well as attempted 255 two-point field goals, which ranked second on the squad.
29. Luka Samanic: The 19-year-old’s body has yet to catch up with his burgeoning game. Samanic will need time and more minutes to develop, but the tools are apparent: a 6-foot-11 big whose scoring creativity flourishes near the basket.
30. Chuma Okeke: The 6-foot-8 sophomore is an intriguing prospect, as his game is one of the few in this draft field that directly compares to a player currently in the NBA — specifically, Minnesota’s Robert Covington. The two are the only players in CBB Reference’s database to post a block rate of 5.3 percent, a steal rate of 3.5 percent, and convert 38 percent of their long-range attempts.
31. Ty Jerome: A knockdown perimeter threat (40 percent from deep in 2019) whose ability to see the floor and find open teammates should allay concerns about how his athleticism translates beyond the college game.
32. Carsen Edwards: There are few players in college basketball who can completely take over a game. Edwards, a 6-foot junior, is among that category — to wit, the 42 points he scored against Virginia in the Elite Eight, a blend of deep perimeter shots and a relentless motor get into the interior and drop buckets on a variety of dribble jumpers.
33. Luguentz Dort: The uber-athletic freshman will need to refine his offensive skill set, but he should provide an immediate impact defensively. Dort’s speed on closeouts, ability to aggressively guard his man while also limit gaps and help defend, and use of his lateral quickness throughout the half-court was largely why Arizona State posted a defensive efficiency rate below 1 PPP — the first time in Coach Bobby Hurley’s tenure at the Pac-12 school.
34. Shamorie Ponds: A prototypical New York City baller who gets buckets with ease (of players that stand 6-foot-1 or shorter, Ponds’s two-point field goal attempts led Division I — a staggering 292 — and he made 52 percent of those shots) while also often finding wide-open teammates with difficult cross-court passes and no-look dimes (his 29.1 percent assist rate also topped the Big East).
35. Darius Bazley: The 6-foot-9 forward spent this past season interning at New Balance while also refining his game, which is a blend of versatility, athleticism and shot-making in isolation possessions.
36. Daniel Gafford: A rim running shot-blocking savant perfectly suited for today’s NBA, the 6-foot-11 sophomore impacts the game on both sides of the ball. Gafford was the only Division I player in 2019 to post a block rate of 8.4 percent while also dunking at least 90 times.
37. Jalen McDaniels: One of the biggest question marks of this draft. Can the 6-foot-10 McDaniels be accurate enough from the perimeter to transform into a consistent stretch-four? He only converted 29 percent of his three-point field goal attempts during his two seasons at San Diego State. If he is capable of evolving his game, then McDaniels could be the field’s biggest sleeper.
38. Zylan Cheatham: A multidimensional and versatile prospect who defends (the 6-foot-8 Cheatham had a block rate of three percent), assists (19 percent) and has a three-point touch (44 percent on 25 attempts in 2019) that belies a burgeoning pick-and-pop game.
39. Terence Davis: The 6-foot-4 Davis oozes three-and-D potential, having converted 34 percent of his threes during his Ole Miss career and posting a steal rate of three-plus percent in three of his four seasons at the SEC school.
40. Bruno Fernando: Nearly 70 percent of the 6-foot-10 Fernando’s attempts in 2019 were dunks or shots at the rim, and at the next level, the sophomore projects as a rim-running force, a big with soft hands and an ability to finish high above the basket.
41. Isaiah Roby: The 6-foot-8 junior was plagued by injuries this past season, but when healthy, he showed flashes as an offensive facilitator with sound defensive tendencies.
42. Louis King: There were moments in 2019 in which the 6-foot-9 freshman looked ready to take over at Oregon, but the ball would too often stall once it reached King. That needs to change at the next level, but at least the former five-star prospect possesses a skill set — length, athleticism and pick and roll craftiness — that inspired countless college coaches during his recruitment.
43. Admiral Schofield: It doesn’t matter that Schofield stands just 6-foot-5 and lacks a handle to get past quicker opponents. His physicality and athleticism were unmatched in college, and his defensive understanding and strength enable him to function as a defensive stopper (with a penchant for knocking down the big shot, often from beyond the arc — 39 percent during his Tennessee career).
44. Naz Reid: Another prospect whose value is largely based on his potential. He works tirelessly to control the offensive glass (11 percent offensive rebounding rate), and his soft hands corral any dump down pass, but despite possesses the physicality of a modern-day NBA big, the freshman often lacked the necessary athleticism to transform into anything but a complementary player.
45. Jaylen Nowell: Like Shamorie Ponds, Nowell is a bucket-getter. Per CBB Reference, only three players since 2009-10 have posted a usage rate of 25 percent and made 52 percent of their twos and 43 percent of their threes while playing at least 1200 minutes — Buddy Hield, Kyle Wiltjer and Nowell. The 6-foot-4 wing is an adept and ceaseless scorer.
46. Zach Norvell Jr.: The 6-foot-5 left-hander is thrilling in the open court, either running the break before pulling up for a 10-foot jumper or attempting an NBA three-point field goal from the wing. The guard ignited Gonzaga’s offense in 2019 — when Norvell was on the court, per Hooplens.com, the Bulldogs scored 1.27 PPP, which is by far the most efficient rate for any player on this past season’s squad.
47. Jontay Porter: When healthy, Porter represents the future of NBA stretch-fives. A 6-foot-11 big who has a soft perimeter touch and also distributes the ball like a point guard (20 percent assist rate as a freshman). But has his body recovered? Porter sat out this past season after tearing the same anterior cruciate ligament twice in nine months.
48. Tremont Waters: A jet-quick guard with a crafty dribble and a penchant for squeezing his body through the slimmest of openings before either finishing at the rim with a floater (1.06 PPP) or finding a teammate for the bucket — his points per play+assist rate (1.25) ranked just outside Division I’s top 20.
49. DaQuan Jeffries: A late bloomer whose stock has risen once he decided to leave Tulsa, the 6-foot-5 Jeffries (whose wingspan is an astonishing 6-foot-11) is a three-and-D project with a skill set that can be plugged into any defensive game plan.
50. Brian Bowen: The 6-foot-7 wing spent this past season playing in Australia’s National Basketball League, which only enhanced his perimeter-driven skill set.