After Deandre Ayton and Marvin Bagley III, the rest of the lottery is anyone’s guess. There is a ton of talent in this year’s draft in the top 10. Ayton and Bagley III both have the game to be the top pick, Ayton is the likely choice for the Phoenix Suns. But Bagley is a close second. We’re going to focus on the other players in this draft. The players we’re not hearing on the headlines all the time. There are plenty of notable guards and ‘Bigs’ in this draft. Looking at the guard play first.
- Trae Young, PG, Oklahoma State– Young, was the most electrifying player in college basketball for the Sooners. He averaged 27 PPG, #1 in the nation and 8.7 APG, also #1 in the country. Trae Young had four 40+ point games and five 30+ point games. Young is compared to Steph Curry with better court vision. Young was once said to be a top 5 pick, but seems to be slipping per one scout in the NBA, saying his defense is a problem and his small frame. Even with his rough defensive skill set, his range is unlimited and he can make all the passes.
- Shae Gilgeous-Alexander, PG, Kentucky– Gilgeous-Alexander poses serious mismatches for opposing defenses. The Canadian born, 6’6 point guard with a 6’10 wingspan is something we haven’t seen at the PG position before. Another one-and-done for Coach Cal. He shot 40% from deep and shot 81% at the free throw line. His biggest weakness is his frame only weighing 180 lbs. He will need to add some weight to play with the bigger guards in the NBA.
- Jalen Brunson, PG, Villanova– Brunson is my favorite guard in this draft. The two-time national champion, is calm, cool, and collected all the time. Brunson has played in major competition and has been the leader of the floor for 3 years, at a winning program. He won just about every award a college player can win. The Bob Cousy Award (Nation’s top PG), Naismith Award (Nation’s top collegiate player), Wooden Award (Most outstanding college bball player), All-American, and the Big East POY. Brunson would fit perfectly for the Suns who have been very young for a long time and in need of a PG. Brunson will have less of a learning curve. His biggest disadvantage is his size, he is only 6’2.
- Donte DiVincenzo, PG, Villanova– The 2018 NCAA tournament Most Outstanding Player hasn’t missed a beat having an outstanding combine workout. He put up a mind-blowing 31 point performance in the title game when all eyes were on Star Jalen Brunson. Since that performance, DiVincenzo has blown scouts away with his athleticism. DiVincenzo is a Devin Booker type scorer but with more athleticism and a better defender. The Big East 6th Man of the year and also earned the nickname, “the Michael Jordan of Delaware.”
- Collin Sexton, PG, Alabama– The sports world knew who Collin Sexton was when he nearly brought Alabama back from a 9 point deficit, but the crazy part is Alabama was playing with 3 men. The entire bench was ejected, a player fouled out, and another player injured his ankle. Sexton scored 40 points including 23 points in the final 11 minutes playing with two other men. He loves playing in front of the sellout crowds and seems to shine in the big games. Still learning how to play point guard, he is still a shoot first PG. Has a few weaknesses but has the ceiling to be a good NBA guard.
- Zhaire Smith, PG, Texas Tech– The athletic, former 3 star recruit, turned one-and-done has impressed NBA scouts and executives with his off-the-charts athleticism. Smith has a 45 inch vertical leap and high basketball IQ. Has a knack for blocking shots and excels in offensive rebounding and putbacks. Biggest weakness is that he is still learning to be a consistent scoring threat. Smith had a breakout season as a freshman scoring 19 PPG and improved his draft stock more than any other player in the nation. He is still kind of mystery.
- Luka Doncic, PG, Real Madrid– Doncic is the most NBA ready of any European player to come before him. Having played in the second best league in the world and playing professionally for 3 years already. Doncic has rare size for a PG at 6’8, 230 lbs. He has insane vision and offensive creativity. Luka’s biggest flaw and is probably the reason he is currently falling on draft boards is that his defensive will be a work in progress. He’ll need to have better footwork to stay in front of opposing guards.
- Mo Bamba, C, Texas– Mo Bamba is an athletic specimen, standing 7 feet tall and having an outrageous 7’10 wingspan. He’ll be a nightmare around the rim with his off-the-charts athleticism. Bamba led the nation in 3.7 blocks per game but only committing 2.4 fouls per game at the college level, which means he has a great feel for the game defensively. Mohamed Bamba’s biggest flaw is his offensive game. He needs to develop more of an offensive game to really be an elite player in the NBA. Bamba has an insanely high ceiling and can be an All-Star, just needs to work on some things offensively. Defensively, can can be a Defensive Player of the Year award winner in year 1, he’s that good. If you look at how the NBA playoffs just played out, rim-protectors like Clint Capela and Triston Thompson were invisible. Big men that can step out and hit outside jumpers and 3 pointers are far more valuable in today’s NBA game.
- Jaren Jackson, PF, Michigan State– The former McDonald’s All-American, is another physical specimen and rim protector. Has great footwork around the rim and can finish with both hands around the basket. Jackson had limited minutes for the Spartans and averaged 10 PPG and 5 RPG. He does have all the tools necessary to guard 4’s and 5’s in the NBA level he just needs to be more consistent on the defensive end of the floor.
- Wendell Carter, C, Duke– Carter has an NBA ready body already, standing at 6’10, 250 lbs. He is offensively gifted hitting 40+% of his 3’s and 74% from the free throw line, which is a great number for a center. Carter is very comfortable with his back to the basket and in the post, something that takes centers longer to get accustomed to doing. Not to mention he played in the best competition in college basketball in the ACC he also had to learn how to play with future top 5 pick and another ‘big’ in Marvin Bagley III. Meaning he has a good basketball IQ.
- Kevin Knox, PF, Kentucky– The craziest part about Knox, he looks like he is still growing given his giant feet size and incredibly broad shoulders. Kevin Knox stands at 6’9 but only weighs 213 lbs, he’ll need to fill out to body up against NBA ‘Bigs’. He can be a stretch 4 in the NBA with his shooting stroke. Knox will only get better as a shooter and he’ll need to in order to be an upper tier talent.
- Michael Porter Jr., SF, Missouri– A year ago, as a Senior in high school, Porter was likely to be the number 1 pick this year. A back surgery derailed his freshman season causing him to miss the whole season, only returning for 3 games. Porter is a high risk high reward pickup. In high school, he was the Gatorade Player of the Year as he averaged 36 PPG, 13.6 RPG, and 5 APG. Questions about his durability continue to be the ongoing factor. Even after all of his injury history, he is still projecting to go somewhere before the 12 range, possibly has high as 5-8. One thing’s for sure, Porter doesn’t lack confidence, saying his game “resembles Giannis and KD.” He’ll need that confidence if he wants to prove himself in the big leagues banging with the ‘Bigs’. There is no doubt, when healthy, Porter Jr. is one of the top, if not the top prospect in the draft.
This will be a fun draft to watch. It’s always fun to see what kind of trade packages we see on draft day and what players slide. Outside of Deandre and Bagley III, it’s anyone’s guess. This draft can’t come soon enough.