The Washington Wizards will have the ninth overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. Here is the latest in our series on draft prospects who could fall around where the Wizards will select...
2019 NBA Draft Wizards Prospect Preview: De'Andre Hunter
Position: Small forward
Max vertical: N/A
2018/19 stats: 15.2 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 2.0 apg, 0.6 spg, 0.6 bpg, 52.0 FG% (5.4/10.4), 43.8 3PT% (1.2/2.8), 78.3 FT%
Player comparison: Jimmy Butler, Robert Covington
Projections: NBC Sports Washington 5th, NBADraft.net 5th, Bleacher Report 5th, Sports Illustrated 10th, Ringer 5th
5 things to know:
*Defense is Hunter's calling card. He was the ACC defensive player of the year and has the tools to guard multiple positions. He has the potential to be an All-Defensive team player at the NBA level much like a Jimmy Butler or Paul George. Some have even compared him to Kawhi Leonard. He can run with guards and has the length to bother bigger players.
*Hunter is also a proficient three-point shooter. He shot nearly 44 percent in his last year with the Cavaliers, though on only 2.8 attempts per game. He will need to diversify his outside shooting as a pro by adding shots off the dribble. But at this point, there is good reason to believe he will be able to spread the floor in the NBA.
*He helped lead Virginia to their first national championship this past spring. He made the NCAA All-Tournament team after a run that included a 27-point, 9-rebound performance in the final against Texas Tech. In that game, he also stood out for his defense on Jarrett Culver, who may get drafted in the top five this June. Hunter helped hold him to 15 points in 41 minutes, including 0-for-6 shooting from three.
*Hunter's defense will probably translate to the NBA, but there are questions about his ceiling offensively. He needs to refine his ball-handling and play-making skills. And though he is athletic, his speed and leaping ability won't stand out as much in the pros.
*Though he left school after his sophomore year, Hunter is on the older end for a prospect. He's 21 and will turn 22 in December, midway through his rookie season. That is, of course, not old by normal standards, but it stands out at the top of the NBA draft where most guys are 19 or 20 and some, like Zion Williamson, will be 18 when they are drafted.
Fit with Wizards: Hunter is one of the best options for the Wizards in this draft class. He plays a position of need, and what he does best is what the Wizards need most. They have to get better defensively, and he could step right in as their best player on that end of the floor.
Hunter would also fit well with both Bradley Beal and John Wall with his ability to hit threes and be effective off the ball. He could end up being a similar offensive player to Otto Porter Jr., but more athletic and aggressive.
The question would be how high Hunter's ceiling is. The Wizards really need to make this pick count. Ideally, they will find a future star that could be more than just a safe and sound building block for the future.
Whether Hunter can develop into an All-Star is tough to tell, but there are many reasons why he makes sense for Washington.
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