Winter is coming next week for the 14 NBA teams not qualifying for the postseason. Yet as the regular season concludes, NBA Draft season starts heating up.
There are numerous ways to consider the incoming class. Mock drafts are fun. Don’t sleep on big boards.
The first NBC Sports Washington big board of the 2019 draft season is here. Before we get to the top 25, some notes.
* Consider the mid-May Combine in Chicago as the unofficial start of risers/fallers season, but the big board never stops fluctuating. Some changes occurred during March Madness. Just ask Coby White.
NBA scouts love the North Carolina guard. The infatuation was something of a slow build, but gained serious momentum the more the league watched the 6-foot-5 freshman, who recently declared for the draft.
Here's an example of White's rise. Last year ESPN ranked him No. 23 overall in the 2018 recruiting class. The site’s NBA Draft evaluators have the player who bested Michael Jordan’s freshman scoring record with 16.1 points per game ranked 10th. The list below ranks White sixth overall.
With the uncertainty surrounding John Wall's Achilles injury, one NBA source cited White as a possible target for the Wizards with their pick likely in the 6-9 range.
* The trend with Duke forward Cam Reddish is headed the other way. Questions loomed entering the NCAA Tournament for the talented small forward with immense upside. Namely an all too frequent disappearing act in games and a faulty perimeter shot.
Those concerns were amplified in the three tournament games he played. Ja Morant’s emergence essentially eliminated the idea of Duke players going 1-2-3 in the draft. Now the question is whether Reddish comes off the board closer to 10 than five.
* Purdue guard Carsen Edwards wowed the television watching public and college basketball lifers with his mind-blowing 42-points, 10 three-pointer performance in the Boilermakers' overtime loss to Virginia in the South Region final. Scouts knew the 6-foot-1 guard could score (24.3 ppg), but this was outrageous, particularly the distance on his perimeter makes.
The junior also finished the season with more turnovers (113) than assists (104). The limited size and inefficiency are worrisome, but the talent pushed Edwards onto the list.
* One prospect stuck on the sidelines with a season-ending foot injury needed some positive vibes. Oregon’s Bol Bol – yes, Manute’s son – entered his freshman season as a top 5 recruit. The 7-foot-2 center only played nine games before the left foot injury shelved him. That alone didn’t lower his ranking.
“I would stay away. I’d let somebody else make that mistake,” NBC Sports’ Rob Dauster told NBC Sports Washington in February. “For starters, I don’t think he loves basketball. I think he’s soft. I think he’s a horrible defender. He can block shots, but he’s a horrible, horrible defender when it comes to doing anything besides blocking shots. ... He’s out with a broken foot. The last thing I want is a 7-footer that’s soft who doesn’t love basketball and has foot problems. I’d let somebody else roll the dice on Bol Bol because I’ve got a feeling that’s going to be a losing gamble.”
That’s an ouch assessment, but not out of step with other evaluations.
“Pre-season he was considered a bad kid, entitled. I didn’t want anything to do with him,” a current NBA scout recently told NBC Sports Washington.
Perhaps the time away from the game offered Bol some perspective.
“Hearing he’s changed,” said the same NBA scout of a prospect with obvious length and shooting touch. “[Bol] might be the most talented guy in the [draft]. He can shoot from deep and 15 feet. Can pass. If he got serious, I’d consider taking him top 3.”
Time will tell on Bol, who enters the NBC Sports Washington’s NBA Draft Big Board at 13. He did average 21.0 points, 9.6 rebounds, 2.7 blocks while shooting 52 percent (13 of 25) from beyond the arc in those nine games.
As for the rest of the top 25…
1. Zion Williamson, PF, Duke
2. Ja Morant, PG, Murray State
3. RJ Barrett, SG, Duke
4. Jarrett Culver, SG, Texas Tech
5. Darius Garland, PG, Vanderbilt
6. Coby White, SG, UNC
7. De'Andre Hunter, SF, Virginia
8. Cam Reddish, SF, Duke
9. Jaxson Hayes, C, Texas
10. PJ Washington, PF, Kentucky
11. Brandon Clarke, PF, Gonzaga
12. Nassir Little, SF, UNC
13. Bol Bol, PF, Oregon
14. Kevin Porter Jr., SG, USC
15. Keldon Johnson, SF, Kentucky
16. Rui Hachimura, PF, Gonzaga
17. Tyler Herro, SG, Kentucky
18. KZ Okpala, SG. Stanford
19. Romeo Langford, SG, Indiana
20. Nickeil Alexander-Walker, SG, Va. Tech
21. Cameron Johnson, PF, UNC
22. Grant Williams, PF, Tennessee
23. Ty Jerome, SG, Virginia
24. Bruno Fernando, C, Maryland
25. Carsen Edwards, SG/PG, Purdue
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