2019 NBA Draft: Early look at potential Celtics' picks, 2.0
Early look at potential C's picks, 2.0
BOSTON – The college basketball season is in full swing with holiday tournaments showcasing some of the most talented players in the land.
As much as fans will feast on these choice options, NBA teams such as the Celtics are also thankful to see some of the best talent, in some instances, facing other elite players. They'll likely be among the first players selected in the 2019 NBA draft.
While we still have a ways to go before then, that won’t stop teams from beginning their draft preparations.
Among the keenest observers will be the Celtics, who could potentially wind up with four picks.
In addition to their own first-round pick, a best-case scenario for the Celtics would have them landing the No. 2, No. 9 and No. 15 picks, too.
Still, based on how the teams that Boston will be receiving those picks from (Sacramento or Philadelphia; Memphis and the Los Angeles Clippers) have fared thus far, it’s unlikely that the C's best-case outcome will come to fruition.
But when it comes to the Celtics...you just never know.
Here’s our second look at some of the top prospects who may wind up available to be drafted depending on how the things shake out (for our first look, click here).
1. R.J. Barrett, Duke, previous rank: 1
There have been a number of players who have hit the ground running this college basketball season, but Barrett has consistently maintained his spot as the best of the bunch. His consistency as a scorer from the three levels – off the drive, mid-range and beyond the 3-point arc – has allowed him to maintain his front-of-the-pack status in the college basketball.
2. Zion Williamson, Duke, previous ranking: 2
You know you’re doing something right when the big news is that you played a game and didn’t have a dunk in it. The 6-foot-7, 280-pound freakishly athletic Williamson appears to be Barrett’s stiffest competition for being the best player in college basketball. He’s a terrific scorer, but has shown himself to be a willing passer, too. It’s hard to imagine at this point him not being among the first handful of players selected in the 2019 NBA draft.
3. Romeo Langford, Indiana. previous ranking: 3
It’s still early in the season, but Romeo Langford has done nothing to dissuade those who believe he’ll be among the first players selected in the 2019 draft. The size, skills and basketball IQ that so many have raved about during his days as a standout prep player, are very much alive and well with the Indiana Hoosiers.
4. Bol Bol, Oregon, previous ranking: 6
There may not be a more uniquely-skilled player in this upcoming draft than the 7-2 Bol Bol. He has the kind of height and wingspan (7-8) that makes him a no-brainer prospect as an NBA center. And then you watch him play and realize he’s a 7-2 wing player which makes him unlike any other prospect in the 2019 NBA draft. He’ll need to add strength to his frame, obviously. But as far as transferable skills to the next level, Bol Bol will be among the first players taken on draft night.
5. Nassir Little, North Carolina, previous ranking: 4
This draft will run heavy on ACC talent at the top of the board, with Little being among that group. His greatest strengths lie in being able to impact the game at both ends of the floor, a trait teams covet now more than ever in the NBA with everyone seemingly going with more position-less lineups. Becoming a more consistent threat shooting the ball, is an area he needs to improve upon this season.
6. Cameron Reddish, Duke, previous ranking: 5
When you see the size and the skills and overall demeanor, it’s hard not to be bullish on Cameron Reddish at the next level. At 6-8, 218 pounds, Reddish has ideal height and weight for an NBA wing player. And his ability to knock down shots consistently combined with what looks like a player with the potential to be an above-average defender, Reddish will be a lottery pick (top-14) even as he plays in the shadows of R.J. Barrett and Zion Williamson.
7. Kevin Porter Jr., USC, previously not ranked
Every year there’s a player who emerges quickly and leaves most of us saying, ‘how did so many miss on this kid?’ It’s looking more and more like that’ll be the narrative behind Kevin Porter Jr., a talented freshman that was snubbed by all of the high-profile summer circuit all-star games for the nation’s top prep players. He has size (6-6, 210) and athleticism, but what really separates him from a lot of prospects is how he uses footwork and advanced ball-handling skills to create space off the dribble. That skill bodes well for his chances of coming into the NBA and making an immediate impact.
8. Daniel Gafford, Arkansas, previous ranking: 12
When Gafford’s on the floor, it doesn’t take long to see that he plays with a different kind of bounce than most big men in college basketball. And he’s off to a strong start, delivering a double-double in two of Arkansas’ first three games which includes a career-high 27 points and 12 rebounds in out-dueling the Indiana Hoosiers and their likely lottery pick talent, Romeo Langford. Gafford is a high-energy talent who as we get closer to the draft, will likely solidify his place as a top-10 pick.
9. Quentin Grimes, Kansas, previous ranking: 7
Showing a high comfort level as both a scorer and playmaker for others, Grimes is in a situation with the Jayhawks that will put both of those skills to the test consistently. And that will be a great primer for what he’ll be called upon to do at the next level where the 6-5 Grims is projected to be a combo guard.
10. Rui Hachimura, Gonzaga, previous ranking: 15
It’s hard to watch him play and not fall in love with his game. While a lot of his shots are at the rim via lay-ups and dunks, Hachimura has displayed a consistent mid-range game this season. But he can also take players off the dribble and finish, too. The 3-point shot doesn’t appear to be part of his offensive package now. But for such a raw prospect, Hachimura’s upside will be too tempting for teams to pass on which should lead to him being taken in the mid-to-late teens of the first round.
11. Kris Wilkes, UCLA. previous ranking: 8
At 6-7 with a nearly 7-foot wingspan, Wilkes has the body type to be a solid defender at the next level against wing players. But he’s showing early on at least, is that he can also score from the perimeter which could lay the groundwork for him being a 3-and-D guy in the NBA. He enjoys attacking the rim as well, which would provide another quality that will certainly catch the eye and attention of NBA personnel in the coming months.
12. Keldon Johnson, Kentucky, previous ranking: 13
A college basketball season and Kentucky doesn’t have at least one, one-and-done prospect? Hard to imagine, for sure. The best bet to keep that tradition going is Keldon Johnson, a 6-6 combo guard who has shown the kind of promise that makes many believe he can be an above-average scorer at the next level. He’s on the light side weight-wise, even by college basketball standards. But the skills and his upside make him a likely lottery (top-14) pick.
13. Jalen Smith, Maryland, previously unranked
One of the more coveted recruits nationally coming from the prep ranks, Smith hasn’t wasted any time making his mark by being named the Big Ten Freshman of the Week by averaging a near double-double with 15 points and nine rebounds. He gets great elevation on his first step when going for rebounds which allows him to get a good share of second-shot opportunities and put-back baskets. Defensively he’s sound in terms of being in the right position. But weighing about 200 pounds, he needs to bulk up and add strength to his frame going forward in order to continue expanding his game.
14. Nazreon Reid, LSU, previously unranked
A long athletic forward, Reid plays with good energy, solid instincts defensively and an offensive game that’s very much in line with what we’ve come to expect from emerging stretch bigs coming into the NBA. He’s shooting almost 40 percent from 3-point range and while his numbers (5.3 rebounds per game) on the glass aren’t great, he does project to be a solid rebounder at the next level.
15. Ja Morant, Murray State
We see every year a player from a mid-major program show that they have big-school talent. Morant is that kind of player. A 6-3 point guard, Morant is a downhill baller who is good at keeping the defense on its heels He can shoot it from the perimeter, and is one of the best in college basketball at finishing at the rim. His defense needs work, but his strength and overall instincts as a basketball player provide hope that he’ll continue improving at that end of the floor.