Gonzaga forward Brandon Clarke's standing in this 2019 NBA Draft class is reminiscent of Shane Battier entering the league.
Clarke doesn’t come close to entering the NBA with Battier’s college credentials after playing a lone season at Gonzaga. Yet in the 2019 class, one where uncertainty reigns after the top 2-3 selections, the San Jose State transfer is one those helpful options front offices might consider rather than aiming for pure upside.
The Duke All-American’s career played out almost as expected. Never part of a so-called Big 3, Battier turned into a high-leverage role player teams would often keep on the floor during big spots.
That type of player does not always go off the board early in drafts seeing as teams historically target franchise-altering players. In the 2001 NBA Draft, three teams took shots on far riskier high school players with greater potential before the Grizzlies selected Battier sixth.
That eventually worked out with Tyson Chandler, but not so with Kwame Brown (gulp) and Eddy Curry. Battier ranks second in the entire 2001 class in VORP (Value Over Replacement Player) behind Pau Gasol, the third overall selection.
One league source believes Clarke’s range starts at 6-7. The springy forward -- his 40-inch maximum vertical leap was the highest among the projected lottery picks -- delivered the goods for the Bulldogs.
The junior forward finished with as many blocked shots (117) as missed field goals (68.7 field goal percentage) while averaging nearly 17 and 9 in his lone season with Gonzaga.
Others view a top 10 projection as rather ambitious. NBC Sports Washington showed two team sources a projected pre-Combine big board with Clarke at nine, which is where the Wizards currently pick in the first round. Both stated that seemed a bit high.
Offensively, Clarke must play around the basket. He finished his college career attempting only 24 three-pointers and shooting 61.9 percent from the free throw line over three seasons. That on-court location gets tricky on both ends of the court for a player who only weighed 207 pounds at the Combine and whose wingspan matches his height.
There are no longer pure high school players in the draft, but there are several with minimal experience that ooze upside including Cam Reddish, Bol Bol and Nassir Little. Those players come with various forms of red flags.
Clarke, who turns 23 in September, isn’t that type of prospect, but what he offers can help lead to winning on a good team. He upped his free throw percentage to 69.4 last season and finished with a wow 39.4 PER.
“He’s a fifth starter for the next 10 years,” said one source, “which isn’t a bad thing.”
As for the overall class, the latest Big Board expands to 60 prospects. Some of the names might change by 11:59 p.m. ET Wednesday. That’s the deadline for early-entry candidates to decide whether to withdraw from the draft if they want to maintain the college basketball eligibility for next season.
Players yet to declare their intentions include Nicolas Claxton (Georgia), KZ Okpala (Stanford), Jordan Bone (Tennessee), Isaiah Roby (Nebraska), Neemias Queta (Utah State), Charles Bassey (Western Kentucky), Devon Dotson (Kansas), Quentin Grimes (Kansas), Myles Powell (Seton Hall) and Killian Tillie (Gonzaga).
Tennessee forward and potential first-round pick Grant Williams announced he would remain in the draft. Same for Michigan’s Ignas despite no certainty he would be drafted. Brazdeikis is part of a large pool of prospects in the 45 to UDFA range along with Bassey, Dotson, Bone and Grimes.
Okpala and Claxton are the most likely to hear their names called in the first round.
The buzz leaving the Combine had Roby’s decision comes down to whether the versatile defender’s camp believes he’s a top-40 pick.
The Wizards do not have a second-round selection, but the belief is the organization is considering acquiring a pick in that range. Their Combine meetings suggested as much.
2019 NBA Draft Big Board
5. Jarrett Culver, SG, Texas Tech
6. Darius Garland, PG, Vanderbilt
7. Coby White, SG, UNC
9. Sekou Doumbouya, PF, International
10. Jaxson Hayes, C, Texas
12. Nassir Little, SF, UNC
14. Brandon Clarke, PF, Gonzaga
15. PJ Washington, PF, Kentucky
16. Keldon Johnson, SF, Kentucky
17. Goga Bitadze, C, International
18. Kevin Porter Jr., SG, USC
19. Nickeil Alexander-Walker, SG, Va. Tech
21. Ty Jerome, SG, Virginia
22. Tyler Herro, SG, Kentucky
23. Cameron Johnson, PF, UNC
25. Mfiondu Kabengele, PF, Fla. St.
26. Carsen Edwards, PG, Purdue
27. Luka Samanic, PF, Croatia
28. KZ Okpala, SF, Stanford
29. Nicolas Claxton, C, Georgia
30. Daniel Gafford, C, Arkansas
31. Talen Horton-Tucker, SF, Iowa State
32. Grant Williams, PF, Tennessee
33. Admiral Schofield, PF, Tennessee
34. Luguentz Dort, SG, Arizona State
35. Darius Bazley, SF, USA
36. Dylan Windler, SF, Belmont
37. Eric Paschall, PF, Villanova
38. Jalen Lecque, SG, USA
39. Louis King, SF, Oregon
40. Isaiah Roby, SF, Nebraska
41. Ky Bowman, PG, Boston College
42. Tremont Waters, PG, LSU
43. Matisse Thybulle, SF, Washington
44. Naz Reid, C, LSU
45. Brian Bowen, PF, USA
46. Jalen McDaniels, PF, San Diego State
47. Jontay Porter, C, Missouri
48. Deividas Sirvydis, F, Lithuania
49. Neemias Queta, C, Utah State
50. Shamorie Ponds, PG, St. John’s
51. Chuma Okeke, PF, Auburn
52. Charles Bassey, C, Western Kentucky
53. Jordan Bone, PG, Tennessee
54. Jaylen Hoard, F, Wake Forest
55. Miye Oni, F, Yale
56. Devon Dotson, PG, Kansas
57. Ignas Brazdeikis, PF, Michigan
58. Terence Davis, SG, Mississippi
59. DaQuan Jeffries, SG, Tulsa
60. Cody Martin, SG, Nevada
Others: Charles Matthews, SF, Michigan; Quinndary Weatherspoon, SG, Miss. St.; Zach Norvell, SG, Gonzaga; Yovel Zoosman, F. Israel; Dedric Lawson, F. Kansas; Jordan Poole, SG, Michigan; Marcos Louzada Silva, SF, Brazil
MORE WIZARDS NEWS:
- 2019 NBA Draft: Latest Mock Draft 10.0
- Prospect Brandon Clarke: Get to know the Gonzaga forward
- Prospect Keldon Johnson: Gett to know the Kentucky guard