16. Orlando: SG Tyler Herro, Kentucky
There were those who immediately pigeon-holed Herro as being nothing more than a shooter before his freshman season at Kentucky. The Wisconsin native proved to be anything but that during his lone year in Lexington, showing off the ability to score either on or off the ball. Averaging 14.0 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.1 steals and 1.6 three-pointers per game, Herro shot 46.2% from the field, 35.5% from three and 93.5% from the foul line last season. The three-point percentage doesn’t jump off the page but he’s a good shooter, and Herro can defend his position adequately.
With Terrence Ross among the team’s free agents this summer, perimeter shooting could be an area the Magic look to address through the draft in order to save up enough money to hold onto All-Star center Nikola Vucevic.
17. Brooklyn: C Bol Bol, Oregon
Bol Bol is one of the most interesting prospects in this draft class. At 7-foot-2 he has the height needed to man the center position, but he lacks the physical strength needed to do so at the pro level. Add in the fact that he’s been out of action since December after suffering a broken bone in his left foot, and the medical reports will play a significant role in his draft prospects. That being the said the offensive gifts that Bol, the son of the late Manute Bol, possesses aren’t common for players of his height.
He can score at all three levels, as he posted shooting splits of 56.1% from the field, 52.0% from three (on 2.8 attempts per game) and 75.7% from the foul line in the nine games he played at Oregon. Bol averaged 21.0 points, 9.6 rebounds and 2.7 blocks per game for the Ducks, working well as a rim protector alongside another talented shot-blocker in Kenny Wooten. If Bol can be paired up with a more traditional big man that would help him out in the NBA, and the Nets have the ability to do that with Jarrett Allen serving as their starting center.
18. Indiana: SF Nassir Little, North Carolina
If Las Vegas were offering odds on the player most likely to be the subject of “did his coach hold him back” conversations, North Carolina’s Nassir Little would be the clear favorite. Little came off the bench for the Tar Heels, with Roy Williams starting the veteran front court trio of Cameron Johnson, Luke Maye and Garrison Brooks, playing just over 18 minutes per game. Little averaged 9.8 points and 4.6 rebounds per, shooting 47.8% from the field and 77.0% from the foul line. He wasn’t a great perimeter shooter, making just 26.9% of his three-pointers (1.4 attempts per game) and 34.7% of his two-point jumpers per hoop-math, so there’s work to be done there.
Little has the athleticism that teams look for at the next level and could very well work his way into the lottery over the next month. But for right now we’re projecting him to go just outside of the lottery, with the Pacers being a good fit. Indiana has a number of players who will hit free agency come June 30 (the league moved the date up, so no more midnight meetings on July 1), so adding a wing via the draft wouldn’t be a bad idea.
19. San Antonio: SF Cameron Johnson, North Carolina
Cameron Johnson is one of many players who over the years have made the most of their experiences as a grad transfer. After three seasons at Pittsburgh (redshirting as a freshman after eight games), where he was a solid player on some bad teams, Johnson made the move to Chapel Hill and was a key contributor in his two seasons there. Last season the 6-foot-8 wing averaged 16.9 points, 5.8 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.2 steals and 2.7 three-pointers per game, shooting 50.6% from the field, 45.7% from three and 81.8% from the foul line.
Simply put Johnson is one of the best shooters in this year’s draft, and he would certainly help out a Spurs roster that while it led the league in three-point percentage is short on trustworthy shooters. With DeMar DeRozan eschewing the three-point shot and neither Derrick White (33.8% from three this season) nor Dejounte Murray (31.6% career three-point shooter) being known as prolific shooters, there’s a need for quality shooting on this roster.
20. Boston (via LA Clippers): SG Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Virginia Tech
As noted above the Celtics will have some major questions to answer in free agency. On the perimeter point guard Kyrie Irving and Terry Rozier will hit the market, with the former set to be an unrestricted free agent after he (as many expect) opts out of the final year of his deal and the latter being a restricted free agent. In recent years Boston has used guards who can play either on or off the ball, and Virginia Tech’s Nickeil Alexander-Walker is capable of doing this.
As a sophomore the 6-foot-5 guard averaged 16.2 points, 4.1 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 1.9 steals and 1.7 three-pointers per game, spending more time on the ball after starting point guard Justin Robinson suffered a foot injury in January. Alexander-Walker finished the season with shooting splits of 47.4/37.4/77.8, and for his two-year career in Blacksburg he was a 38.3% shooter from beyond the arc.
21. Oklahoma City: SG Talen Horton-Tucker, Iowa State
The Iowa State freshman stands 6 feet, 4 inches tall, but he’s been measured to have a wingspan of nearly seven feet in length (we’ll have more accurate numbers after this week’s combine). Horton-Tucker’s build gives him the positional versatility that teams like, and while there are strides to be made offensively (shooting splits of 40.6/30.8/62.5) he’s the kind of project that a team would be willing to gamble on in the first round.
22. Boston: SG Keldon Johnson, Kentucky
Johnson isn’t the most athletic player in the class, and he had issues creating quality looks for himself off the dribble during his lone season at Kentucky, but he’s a high-level competitor and shoots the ball well off the catch. With regards to his competitiveness and ability as a defender, Johnson is one of the reasons why Wofford’s Fletcher Magee (considered by many to be the best shooter in college basketball) shot 0-of-12 from three (4-of-17 from the field) in Kentucky’s second round win over the Terriers. Stockpiling perimeter options may not be a bad idea for the Celtics, either to cover themselves ahead of free agency or to add tradable assets in order to make another move.
23. Utah: PF Grant Williams, Tennessee
Depending upon what happens with Derrick Favors in free agency, this has the potential to be a great match of player and franchise. Williams, the two-time SEC Player of the Year, boast the maturity and skill level needed to fit into a team with championship aspirations, and he’s coming off of a junior season in which he averaged 18.8 points, 7.5 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.5 blocks and 1.1 steals per game while shooting 56.4% from the field and 81.9% from the foul line. Even if the Jazz were to re-sign Favors, Williams would be a nice front court option to bring off the bench.
24. Philadelphia: SG Matisse Thybulle, Washington
The 76ers had three different looks during the 2018-19 season, thanks to in-season trades that brought in the likes of Jimmy Butler (November) and Tobias Harris (February). Brett Brown could have an entirely different team to work with next fall, as Butler, Harris and JJ Redick will all be unrestricted free agents at the end of June. With the franchise in a position where it aims to contend for a title now, going older may be the route GM Elton Brand and the front office choose to take. Washington’s Matisse Thybulle, an elite defender, would fit the bill due to the combination of length, athleticism and basketball IQ.
Thybulle did play in a zone defense his final two seasons at Washington, but his tools as a defender should translate to the next level. Offensively he’ll need some work, as Thybulle shot just 30.5% from three and 41.5% from the field, but as an 85.1% foul shooter he has the potential to get better. And with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid (and possibly the three mentioned above if they return) opening things up Thybulle should get cleaner looks in Philadelphia than he did at Washington.
25. Portland: C Mfiondu Kabengele, Florida State
Kabengele came off the bench last season for the Seminoles but was the team’s leading scorer, averaging 13.2 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.5 blocked shots per game while shooting 50.2% from the field and 76.1% from the foul line. The 6-foot-10 sophomore played 21.6 minutes per game for Florida State, with his athleticism causing problems for opponents on both ends of the floor. Adding another front court option wouldn’t be a bad idea for Portland, with Jusuf Nurkic recovering from the broken leg he suffered in March and Al-Farouq Aminu and Enes Kanter both set to be unrestricted free agents this summer.
26. Cleveland (via Houston): SF KZ Okpala, Stanford
Okpala has the size (6-foot-9) and athleticism needed to move higher up draft boards, and he’s coming off of a sophomore season in which he averaged 16.8 points, 5.7 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.0 steals and 1.1 three-pointers per game. The question to answer is whether or not he’ll be able to knock down perimeter shots at a consistent clip in the NBA, but it’s worth noting that he made strides from his freshman to sophomore year. After putting up shooting splits of 39.3/22.6/67.9, Okpala finished 2018-19 at 46.3/36.8/67.1.
The free throw percentage being relatively unchanged may cause concern in some circles with regards to whether or not the shooting numbers translate, but there are enough tools there to get a team to grab him in the first round. If he’s available for Cleveland Okpala would be a good fit, even with the Cavaliers being projected to take De’Andre Hunter in this mock.
27. Brooklyn (via Denver): SG Luguentz Dort, Arizona State
The biggest question for the Nets to answer this offseason is the future of D’Angelo Russell, as he’s set to hit the market as a restricted free agent. Of course GM Sean Marks and company will address this in free agency, either by matching an offer sheet for their All-Star point guard or by signing another talented lead guard. With regards to the draft Arizona State’s Luguentz Dort, who played both on and off the ball last season, would give the Nets some positional flexibility on the perimeter. Dort is tough as nails, a good athlete and can create for himself or his teammates off the dribble. The perimeter shot needs some work, as he finished the season with shooting splits of 40.5/30.7/70.0, but there’s enough talent to ensure that Dort hears his name called in the first round.
28. Golden State: PG Carsen Edwards, Purdue
Golden State is looking to win its third straight NBA title, and it’s understood that the cost of contending increases by the year. With star players set to receive major paydays, teams like the Warriors have to look for cost-effective options in order to supplement those stars. And Golden State could do a lot worse than Carsen Edwards here. As a junior the former Boilermaker averaged 24.3 points, 3.6 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 1.3 steals and 3.8 three-pointers per game, shooting 39.4% from the field, 35.5% from three and 83.7% from the foul line.
The percentages aren’t great, and some have questioned Edwards’ fit at the next level as a lead guard, but it’s important to keep in mind that he was the focal point of Purdue’s offense. In order for that team to be at its best Edwards had to put up a lot of shots, thus drawing attention away from his teammates. And his performance in the NCAA tournament, which included 42-point outbursts against Villanova and Virginia, only helped his draft prospects.
29. San Antonio (via Toronto): C Goga Bitadze, Buducnost
Bitadze, who entered his name into the 2018 NBA Draft before ultimately withdrawing his name from consideration, is one of the top young talents in Europe. On loan from Mega Bemax, the 6-foot-11, 250-pound big man won’t turn 20 until July 20, and he’s made progress as an offensive player as he’s become more experienced. He’s most comfortable scoring around the basket, occasionally showing off the ability to step away from the basket and knock down jumpers, and on the other end Bitadze has done well as a rim protector.
He’d add interior depth in San Antonio, with Dante Cunningham and Donatas Montiejunas both set to be unrestricted free agents, while not being under much pressure to be a significant contributor immediately.
30. Milwaukee: PG Ty Jerome, Virginia
While Ty Jerome played well during Virginia’s run to the national title, the first boost to his draft prospects occurred last summer due to his performance on the camp circuit. That carried over into the season, as the 6-foot-5 point guard averaged 13.6 points, 5.5 assists, 4.2 rebounds, 1.5 steals and 2.1 three-pointers per game, shooting 43.5% from the field, 39.9% from three and 73.6% from the foul line. Jerome may not be as fast as say, Ja Morant or Coby White, but he does a good job of getting to his spots for scoring opportunities or to set up his teammates. Milwaukee’s backcourt depth took some hits during the season due to injuries, and having another solid option to call upon would be a positive.
31. Brooklyn (via New York): SF Eric Paschall, Villanova
32. Phoenix: SF Dylan Windler, Belmont
33. Philadelphia (via Cleveland): SF Admiral Schofield, Tennessee
34. Philadelphia (via Chicago): C Daniel Gafford, Arkansas
35. Atlanta: SF Louis King, Oregon
36. Charlotte (via Washington): C Bruno Fernando, Maryland
37. Dallas: SF Jalen McDaniels, San Diego State
38. Chicago: PF Isaiah Roby, Nebraska
39. New Orleans: PF Ignas Brazdeikis, Michigan
40. Sacramento (via Minnesota): PF Luka Samanic, Olimpija Ljubljana
41. Atlanta (via LA Lakers): PF Chuma Okeke, Auburn
42. Philadelphia (via Sacramento): PF Dedric Lawson, Kansas
43. Minnesota (via Miami): C Jontay Porter, Missouri
44. Atlanta (via Charlotte): SF Deividas Sirvydis, Lietuvos Rytas
45. Detroit: SF Darius Bazley, High School
46. Orlando (via Brooklyn): C Nic Claxton, Georgia
47. Sacramento (via Orlando): SG Joshua Obiesie, Wuerzburg |
48. LA Clippers: PF Naz Reid, LSU
49. San Antonio: PG Shamorie Ponds, St. John’s
50. Indiana: PF Jaylen Hoard, Wake Forest
51. Boston: PG Tremont Waters, LSU
52. Charlotte (via Oklahoma City): C Charles Bassey, Western Kentucky
53. Utah: PF Zylan Cheatham, Arizona State
54. Philadelphia: SF Miye Oni, Yale
55. New York (via Houston): SF Brian Bowen Jr., Sydney Kings
56. LA Clippers (via Portland): SF Yovel Zoosman, Maccabi Tel Aviv
57. New Orleans (via Denver): SG Kris Wilkes, UCLA
58. Golden State: PF Alen Smailagic, Santa Cruz Warriors
59. Toronto: PG Justin Wright-Foreman, Hofstra
60. Sacramento (via Milwaukee): SF Robert Franks, Washington State