With the NBA Draft just weeks away, teams and fans are eagerly awaiting to see who their favorite teams will select. Each year, NBADraft.net releases its annual mock draft, which forecasts the first two rounds of the draft. This year’s mock draft takes into account team needs, individual player talent and potential team fits. In this blog post, we take a look at some of the key players that are expected to be selected in this year’s NBA Draft.
Zion Williamson – Duke
Zion Williamson is a 6’7”, 285-pound power forward from Spartanburg, South Carolina. He played his high school basketball at Spartanburg Day School, where he was a McDonald’s All-American, a Jordan Brand Classic All-American, and a first-team all-state selection. Williamson was also named the Gatorade National Player of the Year and the Morgan Wooten Player of the Year. As a senior, he averaged 32.6 points and 11.8 rebounds per game.
Williamson committed to Duke University in January of 2018. He chose Duke over offers from Clemson, Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, and UCLA. Williamson was widely considered to be the top recruit in the class of 2018.
Williamson made an immediate impact at Duke as a freshman. He averaged 22.6 points and 8.9 rebounds per game while shooting 68% from the field and 33% from three-point range. Williamson was named the ACC Player of the Year and was a consensus first-team All-American. He also won the Naismith College Player of the Year Award and the John R. Wooden Award as the nation’s top player.
With his combination of size, strength, athleticism, and skill, Williamson is considered to be one of the most talented players in recent memory. Some have even compared him to LeBron James because of his ability to dominate both ends of the court.
Ja Morant – Murray State
Ja Morant, Murray State
With the second overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, the Memphis Grizzlies select Ja Morant out of Murray State. The 19-year old point guard is coming off of a sophomore season where he averaged 24.5 points, 10.0 assists, and 5.7 rebounds per game while leading the Racers to the NCAA Tournament.
Morant is an elite level athlete with great size for a point guard at 6’3” tall with a 6’9” wingspan. He is an explosive leaper and finisher at the rim and has shown the ability to make plays for himself and others in transition. In the half court, Morant is capable of running pick-and-rolls and making plays off the dribble as well as finding open shooters when defenses collapse on him. He needs to improve his outside shooting (he shot just 36.3% from three this past season) but has all the tools to be a very good scoring point guard in the NBA.
Defensively, Morant has potential but will need to get stronger in order to defend bigger and stronger guards at the next level. Overall, he is a very exciting prospect with All-Star potential and should be a nice complement to fellow young building blocks Jaren Jackson Jr. and Dillon Brooks in Memphis.
RJ Barrett – Duke
RJ Barrett is one of the most talented players in the country and has a chance to be a top pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.
Barrett is a 6-foot-7 wing who can do a little bit of everything on the court. He’s an excellent scorer, averaging 22.6 points per game as a freshman at Duke, and he’s also a good rebounder and passer. Barrett is also a good defender, which should help him transition to the NBA level.
The biggest knock on Barrett is his shooting ability. He shot just 30.8 percent from three-point range this season, and that will need to improve if he wants to be an effective shooter at the next level.
Despite his shooting struggles, Barrett is still expected to be a high lottery pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. He has all of the tools to be a successful player at the next level, and he should only get better as he continues to develop his game.
Darius Garland – Vanderbilt
Darius Garland was one of the most talked-about prospects in last year’s high school class. He was a 5-star recruit and the top point guard in his class, according to 247Sports. Garland committed to Vanderbilt over offers from Kentucky, UCLA, and others.
The 6-foot-2 point guard was expected to be one of the best players in college basketball this season. However, his season came to an early end after he suffered a meniscus injury in his knee during just the fifth game of the season. Garland underwent surgery and is now on the road to recovery.
While his college career was cut short, Garland still has a lot of talent and potential. He’s an excellent shooter with deep range and also has good vision and passing ability. With his size and skill set, he has all the tools to be a successful NBA point guard.
Garland is currently projected to be a lottery pick in this year’s NBA Draft. He’s expected to make a full recovery from his injury and should be ready for the start of the NBA season.
Coby White – North Carolina
Coby White was a huge part of North Carolina’s success this season. He averaged 16.1 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game while shooting 41.3 percent from the field and 35.8 percent from three-point range. He has good size for a point guard at 6’4” and is an excellent athlete with a wingspan that measured at 6’6.5” at the NBA Draft Combine.
White is an aggressive scorer that likes to attack the basket and gets to the free throw line at a high rate. He needs to improve his decision-making and playmaking abilities, but he has the potential to be a very good scoring point guard in the mold of Damian Lillard or Kemba Walker. White will likely be drafted in the lottery and has a chance to be a top-10 pick.
De’Andre Hunter – Virginia
As the 2018-19 college basketball season winds down, we start to look towards the 2019 NBA Draft. One player who has been on the radar for a while now is De’Andre Hunter of the Virginia Cavaliers. Hunter, a 6’7″ wing, is one of the best all-around players in the country. He’s a great shooter (42.8% from three this season), can put the ball on the floor, and is a good defender. He’s also a very smart player, as evidenced by his play in Virginia’s Elite 8 win over Purdue last year.
Hunter has really stepped up his game this season for Virginia, averaging 16.2 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. He’s been especially important for them during their recent run of success, as he was named ACC Player of the Week after leading Virginia to wins over Duke and North Carolina.
There’s a lot to like about Hunter as an NBA prospect, and he looks like he could be a very good player at the next level. It’ll be interesting to see where he ends up going in the draft, but he should be a surefire first-rounder come June.
Tyler Herro – Kentucky
Tyler Herro may have played his way into the first round with his showing in the NCAA tournament. The Kentucky freshman was thought of as a potential second round pick before the tournament, but he really turned heads with his play. Herro is a great shooter and he proved that he can score in a variety of ways in the tournament. He also showed that he has the ability to create his own shot, which will be important at the next level.
Sekou Doumbouya – Guinea
Sekou Doumbouya is a 6’9″, 230-pound small forward/power forward from Guinea. He plays for Limoges CSP in the French League.
Doumbouya is a versatile player who can play both inside and out. He has a nice combination of size, strength and athleticism. Doumbouya is an excellent rebounder and shot blocker. He also has a nice mid-range game and is developing a three-point shot.
Doumbouya is still raw and needs to continue to develop his skills. He will need to adjust to the speed and physicality of the NBA game. But he has the potential to be a very good player in the league.