June 20, 2019, 5:16 am
Don’t worry, if you blinked that was just the three seconds we all had between the best playoffs we’ve seen in a while, and now the NBA Draft is upon us.
Throw in truly massive developments around the league over the last few weeks and folks haven’t even been talking about the draft – it’s been all about free agency and for about a month the NBA has been a raging 24/7 news cycle.
I’ve always been up front with you guys that I’m not a draft expert and I don’t even look at college players until the playoffs are over. Zion Williamson might be the most I’ve watched a college player before the playoffs in years, speaking to the excitement he’s bringing into the league.
So I spent the last few days watching whatever film I could get my hands on, reading people’s thoughts and generally getting a grip on who these guys were. I like the degree of difficulty in this cram session, and it’s my belief you can get a pretty good read on a player in just a few minutes of film, let alone the handfuls of breakdowns and game footage that are out there.
So I went down the rabbit hole until I felt I had these guys pegged and how this will work is that I’ll rank these guys in order of my personal BPA. Then we’ll come back after the draft and clean it all up.
As a quick aside, you’re going to love the improvements that are on the way around here at the Hoob. Let’s GOOOOOOOO!
NO. 1 – PELICANS – ZION WILLIAMSON, PF, DUKE
You don’t need me to tell you about the highlight reel stuff because you’ve seen it. You need me to tell you where Zion Williamson should be drafted, and there is plenty of time for that during Draft Guide season. Needless to say, he’ll be among the most fascinating rookie picks of the last 5-10 years.
The big thing working against him heading into the NBA is his shooting. He has a nice foundation to work from but 64.0 percent from the line as a high volume guy is going to hurt. He’s not going to move the needle with 3-point shooting anytime soon. But he’s going to be a demon everywhere else.
Early Fantasy Analysis: Zion will be an early round guy this season but the question is how high will he go. My sense is that he’s a better bet to go top-half than bottom-half of the early rounds, but it’s really too early for any of that talk. He’s going to get all the playing time he can handle and New Orleans has the outlines of a nice fantasy situation.
Post Draft Fantasy Analysis: Aside from David Griffin pillaging like the rest of us do in our fantasy leagues, we’ll have to see what kind of incoming players we’re looking at once he cashes in all his chips. The needle shouldn’t move too much here but he has a lot of chips. Stay tuned.
NO. 2 – GRIZZLIES – JA MORANT, PG, MURRAY STATE
In a draft that’s lacking buzz and star-power Ja Morant really stands out. At 6’3/175 with springs for legs and highlight-reel finishing ability to go with plenty of skill – there are even some that have wondered if he should go No. 1 overall. My question for David Griffith would be what he could pull out of Memphis for the right to move up.
That stuff aside, Morant has a great shot at being a solid fantasy asset. He isn’t known for his shooting but his ability to get aerial and into the lane will help his field goal percentage. He’ll eventually start hitting threes but he won’t be a zero in that department. Everywhere else he is a threat and that means he has value right out of the box.
Early Fantasy Analysis: Barring something stupid or unforeseen, Morant will probably get as much run as he can handle. If that’s in Memphis, you wonder about the presence of
Mike Conley andDelon Wright, but assuming he isn’t throttled back you’re looking at a probable mid-round pick. That said, depending on the circumstance and hype (or lack thereof) he could wander outside those guard rails.
Post Draft Fantasy Analysis: Everything is locked and loaded for a strong fantasy season. He’s the leader in the clubhouse to finish in the No. 2 rookie slot next season.
NO. 3 – KNICKS – R.J. BARRETT, SF, DUKE
Obviously there is a reason Barrett was getting early top-3 tier discussion. The physical potential is there and there’s enough of a skills package to like some of the risk/reward. That said, I don’t like when prospects have both shooting touch and skill issues to go with decision-making problems. You never know when the light bulb will turn on for a young player, but there are too many ways this can spin sideways and that’s before you get to the fantasy metrics.
Those appear to be pretty awful. His shooting numbers (45.4/30.8/66.5) are a real problem and no amount of NBA spacing is going to make that equation good heading into next year. He didn’t steal or block the ball at Duke and though he’s not DOA in that department because of his athleticism, you can’t really posit that as a strength. He’s not going to break any rebounding or assists records. His best bet for fantasy value is through sheer volume on a bad team.
Early Fantasy Analysis: Barrett certainly could land on a bad squad and if it’s New York what a fantasy combo he and the amazingly inefficient Kevin Knox will be. He is a great early bet for overdrafted fantasy rookie of the year and probably goes off the board in the early late rounds if I had to guess.
Post Draft Fantasy Analysis: Landing with the Knicks is great for business as they’re terrible and theoretically they’ll want to show off their pick. Barring something unforeseen he’ll go off the board in the early late rounds and could go higher if he has a good Summer League, or any number of things that the public gets fired up about. Unless we see something totally different deep into the preseason, he won’t be on many Hoop Ball squads.
NO. 4 – HAWKS – DE’ANDRE HUNTER, SF/PF, VIRGINIA
I don’t care if De’Andre Hunter is raw on offense – dude jumps off the page as far as NBA athleticism and attributes go (6’7/225). He can shoot and he has enough moves for NBA coaching to kick in and make him a serviceable 3-and-D player at a minimum. Defensively, he has the look of a serious contributor despite question marks about intangibles on that end.
I’d be more concerned about those intangibles and the overall lack of polish if he wasn’t such a late-bloomer. And, speaking of overall intangibles, there haven’t been any concerns there. As long as the game isn’t moving too fast for him, he has the attributes and ability to shoot that can keep him on the floor in his rookie season.
Early Fantasy Analysis: Hunter isn’t going to burn it up on offense and he needs to improve his rebounding, nor will he be a contributor in assists. More concerning is the combined 1.2 steals and blocks per game he averaged last season for Virginia. That will require further evaluation, and though I’ve outlined about five reasons not to draft him, his percentages are encouraging and athletic, defensive-minded players are at least candidates for stat set changes on that end. He needs a pristine situation and great preseason to get drafted in standard leagues this season.
Post Draft Fantasy Analysis: The Hawks gave up a bunch to get Hunter and that bodes well for his playing time, as does a lack of talent in the 3-5 slots for Atlanta. Really, this is a best case scenario for Hunter’s fantasy value, as the Hawks play fast and loose and that could unlock statistical categories. Because they traded up for him and because of his athleticism, it’s possible the fantasy public pushes the hype beyond his valuation but he starts the offseason as a late rounder if I had to guess.
Update: The Hawks drafting SF/PF Cam Reddish takes some of the shine off Hunter’s value and as of now he’s probably not a great bet to be drafted in standard leagues. But it’s way early, obviously.
NO. 5 – CAVS – DARIUS GARLAND, PG/SG, VANDERBILT
Darius Garland can shoot the lights out and make plays, reminding me a bit of Lou Williams on first glance. Unfortunately, there’s not a ton of film on Garland as he played just five games in his only season at Vanderbilt before undergoing surgery for a meniscus tear.
At 6’2/175 he’s going to be a combo guard at the NBA level and that will help keep him on the floor early on in his career. But defensively being undersized is going to be a problem and especially given his lack of game experience. That’s not to say he’s a raw player because he’s not. It’s just asking a lot for a player to jump into NBA action at his size and be good enough to demand minutes.
Early Fantasy Analysis: A dream scenario for Garland looks something like good shooting stat set meets bad team with offensive needs and he somehow scrounges up a scrappy steals rate. He’s not likely to hit the standard league radar unless he has the type of summer like Donovan Mitchell had as a rookie where it was immediately evident that predraft analysis was way off.
Post Draft Fantasy Analysis: Garland hits the jackpot here as Cleveland is as bad as it gets and all he has to do is walk through the door. Still, as mentioned it’s going to be tough for him to step right into the NBA and be effective. Obviously, seeing him in Summer League and the preseason will help inform the analysis, but one has to think he’ll be in a late-round posture. There’s a decent chance he’ll be worth it, too.
NO. 6 – WOLVES – JARRETT CULVER, SG, TEXAS TECH
Jarrett Culver has a broken jumper outside of about 16 feet. It happens. His mechanics will be at the center of his overall development but beyond that there is a ton to love about this guy. At 6’7/195 he has a shot at playing the three down the road and that might help mitigate some of the shooting issues.
I like his array of weapons inside the arc. As a playmaker he can get to the rim and both convert and pass. He can shoot over smaller guards and has a nice feel for the game, with the ability to play on the block as well as in the pick and roll. He has some strength issues given his light frame but he did well to hold his own in that regard at Texas Tech. I like that he wasn’t heavily recruited out of high school and that he has had to earn his keep.
Early Fantasy Analysis: Defensively, he will need to keep taking steps forward because it’s hard to bet on a massive offensive improvement while possibly re-tooling a jumper. Overall, there are a few ways he could be held back in his rookie season. His shooting is the obvious bugaboo but there is a small silver lining in him cresting the 70 percent mark from the line last year. Popcorn stats shouldn’t be a problem and there is even some chance that he can contribute with defensive stats. In the right place, he might be draftable but he needs a few things to break in his favor.
Post Draft Fantasy Analysis: Assuming this holds up, Culver lands on a team in flux and they’re not overflowing with talent but currently guys like Jeff Teague, Josh Okogie, Andrew Wiggins, Tyus Jones and Robert Covington are in the picture to whatever degree. He’s on the radar and might end up getting selected late in standard league drafts, but it’s not a sure thing at this point. I’d like to see a lot more clarity and a decent summer before getting too high on him.
NO. 7 – BULLS – COBY WHITE, PG/SG, NORTH CAROLINA
Coby White’s wiry frame might remind folks of De’Aaron Fox – as well as his propensity to get out and run – but he’s not in that ballpark. White doesn’t have that kind of elevation or athleticism, but has a better shot coming into the NBA than Fox did.
He’s a willing defender but he’s not going to bring a special dynamic on that side of the ball. So while he has a solid foundation for his offensive game and should be able to make shots and plays in his rookie season, he isn’t the greatest finisher and he wasn’t great with the decision-making at times. There should be concern about how NBA defenders will shut off portions of his offensive game.
Early Fantasy Analysis: White needs a lot of help to be relevant in standard leagues this season. He’ll need a lot of volume to offset his expected inefficiency and some rope to gamble for steals. Timeshares will be hard for him to avoid and he’s looking like a deep league/Dynasty guy.
Post Draft Fantasy Analysis: The Bulls haven’t really been high on Kris Dunn and this is the next shoe to drop. If Dunn sticks around then White looks to be a good bet for 22-26 mpg this season but the Bulls wouldn’t shock anybody by trying to accelerate that timetable. White will struggle with efficiency and he’s going to need to be given rope to steal the ball, as well as deal with playing next to Zach LaVine, who wants the rock in his hands. White probably gets overdrafted and starts the offseason off as late-round flier pick.
NO. 8 – PELICANS – JAXSON HAYES, C, TEXAS
Jaxson Hayes is a pretty simple read in both fantasy and reality. A 6’11.5/220 leaper that’s light in the trunk, he’s going to take a few years to fill out and in the meantime he’ll have those young legs to go and get blocks.
Hayes does not offer much beyond aerial play and dunking but he hits free throws, and the simplicity of his value proposition (protect the rim) could translate into the type of role we saw for fellow Longhorn Jarrett Allen, depending on where he lands of course. Or, he could have a hard time staying out of foul trouble and not have enough overall polish to maintain more than 15-18 minutes per night. Overall, there’s just enough to like about his overall agility and athleticism, though rebounding isn’t quite his thing.
Early Fantasy Analysis: I’m intrigued because he could easily land on a bad team where minutes are easy to come by and the blocks are going to be there. Now whether he can pair that up with enough high-efficiency big man stats in what could easily be a limited role is another question.
Post Draft Fantasy Analysis: Hayes lands in a great spot in New Orleans, assuming this holds up, and though they have some warm bodies in Jahlil Okafor and Cheick Diallo, and Zion is there as well, it’s not hard to see him earning 20 mpg. This team is also built to run and he could be a fun piece of what they’re trying to do, so if he’s better than that it wouldn’t be shocking — and of course it’s possible he’s inconsistent and south of that 20-minut mark. His fantasy game has a chance of translating right around that mark, and he might end up being a target in competitive leagues.
NO. 9 – WIZARDS – RUI HACHIMURA, PF, GONZAGA
Rui Hachimura is another intriguing Gonzaga prospect and playing next to Brandon Clarke they were your typical odd couple. Both are tough to find comps on and both aren’t prototypical NBA prospects. After tussling with it for a while I landed on in-his-prime Glen Davis for Hachimura’s upside comparison, though nobody will compare anything Hachimura did in the open floor to Big Baby’s college career.
And Hachimura is much more athletic than that and definitely a better prospect, too. It’s the way he scores now though, through a mix of interior play and a semi-respectable jumper, along with overall low marks for athleticism and size at 6’8/230, that leads me to believe he’ll develop something of a stretch-power game as he packs on more pounds.
Early Fantasy Analysis: Defensively he is going to struggle but he does enough basketball things well, and isn’t D.O.A. in the attributes department, so he has a decent shot at being able to handle low-end NBA minutes, which is a fairly low bar. The good news is that he has tools to be productive if he does get a chance. The bad news is that his defensive stat problems alone probably make him hard to own outside of the deepest Dynasty formats.
Post Draft Fantasy Analysis: The Wizards have a glut of mediocre big men and some might be leaving in free agency, but it will be asking a lot for Hachimura to step in and beat whoever remains. Given the light stat set and lower upside, fantasy GMs in most leagues can probably sit back and watch. Dynasty owners should like the landing spot and re-rank him accordingly.
NO. 10 – HAWKS – CAM REDDISH, SF/PF, DUKE
Cam Reddish has issues with fundamentals like footwork and finishing but has great shooting touch and physical tools that give him the allure of a higher-end lottery pick. Offensively, the biggest issue I see is the fact he’s so tethered to two-foot jumping. Having the right footwork is what gives NBA players the ability to counter and it looks like he’ll need time (and under a developmentally-minded coaching staff) to find the rhythm of one-footed jumping.
It all speaks to issues he’s going to have any time he’s pressured with the ball and that leads to turnovers and for rookies that leads to pine. Defensively, he has the tools to be good and showed decently on film, but as is the case with his offensive game he is losing on all the details.
Early Fantasy Analysis: It’s not the equation you’re looking for if you’re predicting standard league relevance this season. And that’s before you get to maybe the worst entrant I’ve ever seen on the efficiency side of things, as he hit just 35.6 percent of his shots in his only year at Duke. That should improve with shot selection alone and he’s a natural shooter, but it speaks to reasons why he won’t be on the floor. Not a corpse on the defensive stat side, if you squint hard enough and he finds the right landing spot he *might* be worth looking at in deeper formats and I wouldn’t go wild projecting his future in Dynasty formats.
Post Draft Fantasy Analysis: The Hawks have needs in the frontcourt so it makes sense that they’re targeting the position but now De’Andre Hunter and Reddish probably see their value depressed as folks can’t reconcile which rookie will stand out. Reddish has all sorts of stat set issues and we’ll have to see a great summer and preseason for him to be on the standard league radar.
NO. 11 – SUNS – CAMERON JOHNSON, PF, NORTH CAROLINA
Cameron Johnson is a four-year player that transferred from Pitt to UNC and at 6’8.5/205 he enters the league with comparisons to Nemanja Bjelica and for anybody worth a salt that assessed the Kings last season this isn’t great news. He can shoot and pass and good attributes start to dry up after that, as he’s slow and a defensive liability with an arthroscopic hip surgery under his belt to boot.
He’s getting drafted here because of he does excel in some of the more visually appealing parts of the game, and should do exactly what the coaches want him to do at the NBA level.
Post Draft Fantasy Analysis: If Johnson makes all the prognosticators eat their words, he has a nice shooting stat set and theoretically he can pick things up on the defensive end, but that outcome would keep him from being a 1.0 combined steals and blocks guy and something not terrible in the 1.2-1.6 range. Still, that won’t be enough to carry him in standard leagues no matter how bad the Suns are, even if they don’t have anybody other than Deandre Ayton that’s worth a salt in the frontcourt (assuming Richaun Holmes leaves as he should). He needs a massive summer and preseason to change that calculus.
NO. 12 – HORNETS – P.J. WASHINGTON, PF/C, KENTUCKY
P.J. Washington stands 6’8/235 and looks more like a power forward or small-ball center, but not because of any tremendous explosiveness. It’s a subtle combo of size and strength that invite all sorts of questions about his physical attributes, but also give the impression that he might be able to carve out a niche.
He has been rapidly improving as a shooter throughout his two seasons at Kentucky and he has a good feel for the game, passing the ball well and having a few go-to moves that made things click. Defense is definitely a question mark though in just about every department, though you wonder what kind of chaos Kentucky’s unique program is bringing to the equation.
Early Fantasy Analysis: Though he genuinely looks like he has found a nice shooting stroke and he improved by six percent from the foul line in his second season, that only brought him up to 66.3 percent. Those that watch him seem to think he’s turning a corner on shooting and by film I’d tend to agree. Still, efficiency could easily be an issue and he has problems up and down the stat set. If you squint you can make a case that improved shooting and versatility could lead to good things, but you’re not betting on it outside of very deep Dynasty leagues right now.
Post Draft Fantasy Analysis: Washington lands in Charlotte and it’s a great fit for him. They’re thin any way they slice it in the frontcourt, though there are enough seasoned vets as of now to keep an mpg projection for Washington closer to the 20 mpg mark than anything higher. If you were looking at him in a deeper Dynasty format, you can keep him where you’ve ranked or bump him up a bit.
NO. 13 – HEAT – TYLER HERRO, SG, KENTUCKY
Herro enters the league with a reputation for shooting and plenty of foundation to build off of offensively. Getting separation with his first step and questions about his high-end shooting ability are the things folks are watching out for, and then defensively he has question marks for both lateral quickness and execution. Still, while there are questions about high-end shooting, he rocked a 93.5 percent mark from the foul line and that’s a great indicator he will be just fine at the NBA level.
Post Draft Fantasy Analysis: Playing at Kentucky there could be some wiggle in his production from one league to the next, and defensive stat issues along with deployment questions in Miami’s log-jammed rotations keep him out of standard league discussion at this time.
NO. 14 – CELTICS – ROMEO LANGFORD, SG, INDIANA
Romeo Langford reminds one of any number of good to great NBA scorers that have had trouble with tempo, effort and defense. Standing at 6’6/215 he’s going to have his work cut out for him staying with opposing twos on defense and he’ll need to get way tougher if he’s going to play the three at the NBA level.
Other than that he has a nice step-back package and a good amount of tools and athleticism to operate within the paint. He’s in no way a sure thing on that end but odds are decent that he can score at the NBA level. This is where a seasoned front office can really do some damage. If they talk with him and get sold by him that he has turned a page and will be a hard worker, then that same culture could easily round out some of the rough edges and lead to some very nice value here.
Early Fantasy Analysis: There’s not much here for fantasy owners to grab on to. Langford doesn’t project to have a good shooting stat set and the other numbers aren’t really there, either, though 0.8 blocks per game last season is at least something interesting. Dynasty owners can probably fade this a bit until the situation dictates a change in strategy and redraft owners can watch this from the wire.
Post Draft Fantasy Analysis: The Celtics are in a free fall with free agency and theoretically they could be clearing minutes for Langford, but mostly he’ll just be a project in trying to backfill some of what they’re losing — though it’s a bit odd that they’re drafting near their positions of competency. There’s no fantasy value here and Dynasty owners shouldn’t be overly thrilled with the landing spot, either.
NO. 15 – PISTONS – SEKOU DOUMBOUYA, PF, LIMOGES CSP, FRANCE
At barely 18 years old on draft day, Sekou Doumbouya is one of the more intriguing prospects because he fits the basic prereqs one would start with when trying to design a player that can defend the genetic lottery set. That’s not to say we should be discussing him at that level, but he at least invites the questions of whether it’s possible.
Doumbouya runs 6’9/230 but his soccer background shows up right away as he’s a fluid athlete that will compete for the high-point with just about anybody. Add in a fluid, albeit untested and unrefined stroke and the odds get a lot better that he can justify a place on the court. Defensively, he’s raw and has red flags for focus, effort and consistency. Offensively, he won’t break down any doors anytime soon. But at his age all of that is up for grabs and the good news is that he’s not a total project.
Early Fantasy Analysis: For all that flowery talk his dirty work stats weren’t great last season for Limoges CSP. He averaged just 3.0 boards and 1.2 combined steals and blocks in 18.1 mpg. He did take 2.4 3PAs per contest and he made a healthy 31.5 percent of them, so it’s a bit of an odd stat set for a player with his attributes but again, at 18, things could flip around. Because he’s overall a bit too raw for the NBA, he needs a best-case scenario and an amazing summer to hit the radar in most standard leagues this fall.
Post Draft Fantasy Analysis: This is a great pickup for a Pistons squad that’s heavy in their frontcourt and also slated to deal with Giannis for a very long time. He has young enough legs to play minutes at the three, though they could easily bring him along more slowly as they figure out what they’re doing with the Blake Griffin-Andre Drummond combo. He’s a high upside stash in Dynasty leagues and we’ll need to see how he does this summer and in the preseason before we start talking about him in reasonably sized standard leagues.
NO. 16 – MAGIC – CHUMA OKEKE, SF/PF, AUBURN
Chuma Okeke was projected as a second rounder in a few places, had ACL surgery on his right knee, which had a bone bruise on it prior to that. He fits the mold as a player that coaches will like because of his attention to detail, but at 6’8/230 his athleticism isn’t enough to offset his shooting issues and the injury risk. Unfortunately, he’s not a great man-to-man defender and this pick is tough to figure out.
Post Draft Fantasy Analysis: Playing behind Jonathan Isaac and Aaron Gordon he has no real shot at minutes unless he just demolishes predraft expectations. He’s only a stash in the deepest of Dynasty leagues.
NO. 17 – PELICANS – NICKEIL ALEXANDER-WALKER, PG/SG, VIRGINIA TECH
Nickeil Alexander-Walker is another example of why teams selecting in the 8-16 range probably feel like this is a good year to do so. He has nice polish as a lithe 6’5/205 combo guard, with ability to make plays with both hands and shoot a little, too. The classic question of whether he has enough top-end athleticism will drive his value down and because he’s not a knockdown shooter, or an elite defender, it will further compound the issue.
As far as rookies and playing time go, though, he does enough things well that it wouldn’t be hard to see him carving out minutes for a bad team or as an injury replacement. All the ingredients are there for an under-the-radar ‘nice’ season, but he’ll have to walk through the door of course.
Early Fantasy Analysis: He’s not blowing you away with last year’s 38 and 78 percent shooting from deep and the line, respectively, but it’s solid. 47.4 percent from the field and the versatility in his game all point to a pretty efficient role camping out in the corners and wherever the ball finds him. He stole the ball quite a bit last year and has good instincts, but how much free rein he gets to do that is debatable. If he can land in a good spot and get a clear ramp to playing time, he probably needs a great summer to get on the late-round radar. Dynasty owners want to give him a little more credit than your average mid-first rounder.
Post Draft Fantasy Analysis: What a takeover by David Griffin. This is a very good pick for the Pelicans and, assuming Lonzo Ball doesn’t take a step forward, he can step right in next to Jrue Holiday and the two of them can share ballhandling duties. It’s unclear what the Pelicans will do in free agency with all their assets, and there are a lot of them, but as it stands right now he has a chance to be drafted in the late rounds of deeper competitive standard leagues.
NO. 18 – PACERS – GOGA BITADZE, C, BUDUCNOST
Goga Bitadze stands just under 7-feet and weighs 250 pounds but still moves around the court more like Mike Muscala than Alex Len. And these are the types of projections he’s looking to keep up with or beat as a solid outside shooter that won’t be pushed around too much and can also block shots. That said, for his size he doesn’t have quite as much strength as one would hope for.
The question of course is whether he can pull it together with lateral quickness in a league gone small and where you might normally see a plodder, backers see somebody who is toeing the line in that regard – at least enough to get mid-to-late lottery consideration. Opinions vary widely on him, as do the situations he could land in, but it’s pretty hard to see him getting a big role in his sophomore campaign, let alone his rookie season. Mid-to-late first round big men usually take a while to develop.
Early Fantasy Analysis: In a dream scenario he stays efficient but shoots (and makes) a few threes, rebounds and blocks some shots to get some easy fantasy value. He probably needs 23-25 mpg to hit any radar and he’d probably need to be taken fairly high for a team to want to give him that type of run. Dynasty owners in deeper formats should consider that he has some better-than-average stat set potential.
Post Draft Fantasy Analysis: Unless the Pacers move Myles Turner, who has been in the rumor mill to some degree, there isn’t any real reason to keep an eye on Bitadze in most redraft leagues. Deeper Dynasty league owners can take a look as the stat set and potential are there.
NO. 19 – SPURS – LUKA SAMANIC, PF, UNION OLIMPIJA
Samanic moved up draft boards but fell to the Spurs, because of course he did. His overseas squad, Barcelona, refused to play him because that’s what they do when they sense players are going to the NBA, according to our own Dio Nikiforos.
Post Draft Fantasy Analysis: We need to get a better sense of how his stat set might change in a better location, but owners in deeper Dynasty leagues should definitely take note.
NO. 20 – SIXERS – MATISSE THYBULLE, SG/SF, GONZAGA
NO. 21 – GRIZZLIES – BRANDON CLARKE, PF, GONZAGA
Brandon Clarke put up some nice numbers at Gonzaga last year after spending two seasons at San Jose State. 3.2 blocks and 1.2 steals per game to go with nearly 17 & 9 on 68.7 percent shooting isn’t anything to scoff at, even if nobody will write home about those games against Pepperdine and Pacific. For his part, Clarke reminds me of a very poor man’s Blake Griffin coming out of college.
He’s bouncy and has a solid nose for scoring the ball inside, whether by dunk or by finesse. He looks to me like a guy that will eventually be able to develop a shot. He plays hard and seems to understand the game. The analytics guys love him and eye testers might knock him for being undersized at 6’8/207, but they’re not going to have any problems with how he comports himself. Defensively he’s savvy. It’s a pretty standard oddball evaluation scenario that will cause him to be a polarizing draft day selection, with some nice hidden value in that regard.
Early Fantasy Analysis: The blocks and steals will take a big hit against NBA level competition and in a best case he’s probably looking at an expanded bench big role a la Montrezl Harrell. But especially in a good landing spot, it’s not hard to see him playing his way into a 20-plus minute role or more. And if his dirty work game travels at all, he’ll be on the fantasy radar for sure.
Post Draft Fantasy Analysis: Clarke falling this far is a great windfall for the Grizzlies and he doesn’t have a clear ramp in Memphis, but depending on how free agency shakes out he could have a shot at minutes this season. There is a lot of talk about his size and what he can’t do shooting the ball, but we like the progress he has made in the latter department and he checks a lot of boxes with his bounce, interior play and defensive approach. His stat set is a bit inflated from the competition Gonzaga gets but it’s no joke, either. He will be on the radar in competitive leagues but a lot depends on how things shake out at his positions.
NO. 22 – CELTICS – GRANT WILLIAMS, PF, TENNESSEE
Grant Williams is going to be a polarizing selection in the middle of the first round and mocks have seen him go in the mid-to-late lottery or down into the early 20s. At 6’7/240 he’s miscast for today’s NBA but makes up for it in smarts, skills, surprising versatility and size. He also doesn’t shoot all that well from distance, further adding to detractors’ lists of things he can’t do.
Wherever he gets selected, he stands a strong chance of winning favor with his new coach by being willing to do all the little things coaches love, and also because he’ll facilitate offense and apply a narrow focus to what the team needs out of him. On the other hand, he’ll have to prove he can slide his feet and stay on the floor, which can be a non-starter real quick, and because he won’t be a rim protector there will be even more pressure for him to find a defensive equation that works.
Early Fantasy Analysis: Though he isn’t a classic rim protector Williams did rack up 1.5 blocks per game last season, which says more about his timing than anything, and he has a generally abundant stat set coming out of college. How much erosion we see here is really key and the odds point to more erosion rather than less erosion, which along with playing time question marks make him a tough bet for much fantasy relevance this season. But Dynasty owners in deeper formats shouldn’t hesitate to bump him up a bit more than his draft hype suggests and if he does get a chance, you’ll know that there is a sneaky low-end stat set somewhere in there.
Post Draft Fantasy Analysis: I don’t have high hopes for Williams but the Celtics frontcourt is starting to get thin and for that reason alone he should be worth watching over the next few months in deeper Dynasty leagues. Boston is taking a lot of hits lately and this draft doesn’t look that great right now, but Williams has a nice variance potential because of how dinged he gets for his measurables. You’ll hear about it pretty quick if he’s taking steps nobody thought he could.
NO. 23 – THUNDER – DARIUS BAZLEY, SF, NEW BALANCE INTERNSHIP
NO. 24 – SUNS – TY JEROME, PG, VIRGINIA
NO. 25 – BLAZERS – NASSIR LITTLE, SF/PF, NORTH CAROLINA
Nassir Little had some buzz as a potential No. 1 overall pick but that was prior to this last season for the Tarheels, as his role shrunk and so did the hype. Little has enough athleticism and offensive versatility to deserve the attention he got, but now he needs to cash in on the potential in an appreciable way – pretty quickly – to get a significant role in his rookie season.
The good news is that defensively Little will have the lateral quickness to be an option right off the bat. He just needs to find his niche on the glass and not get targeted for lack of awareness or execution, and offensively he probably needs to prove he can hit north of 34 percent from deep to stay on the floor. If the change of scenery kicks in and is helpful, the hope would also be that he finds some other element to his game as a slasher so he’s not a total non-factor on that end.
Early Fantasy Analysis: Little’s stats at North Carolina were anemic to say the least. He barely participated in the offense and averaged just 1.0 combined steals and blocks in 18.6 mpg. This is an easy pass outside of deep Dynasty leagues, but given his athleticism we’ll definitely be tracking him for the next few months.
Post Draft Fantasy Analysis: Little’s fall should be seared into his mind and if that doesn’t set a turnaround into motion then nothing will. The Blazers need upgrades throughout their frontcourt and this gives them an upside play to address it — with little to no risk at this price. Anybody with his athleticism and past pedigree deserves to be watched with one eye during Summer League and the preseason to see if he can threaten for any real minutes. Deeper Dynasty owners can definitely take a flier here.
NO. 26 – CAVS – DYLAN WINDLER, SF, BELMONT
NO. 27 – CLIPPERS – MFIONDU KABENGELE, C, FLORIDA STATE
NO. 28 – WARRIORS – JORDAN POOLE, SG, MICHIGAN
NO. 29 – SPURS – KELDON JOHNSON, SG/SF, KENTUCKY
NO. 30 – CAVS – KEVIN PORTER JR., SG, USC
July 3, 2020, 4:35 pmDarius MillerSF, New Orleans Pelicans
Darius Miller is unsure if he will be able to play in Orlando, as he continues to recover from a torn a ruptured right Achillies.
Due to the lockdown, Miller has been unable to participate in any live-action, or else he would have played in 3-on-3 or 5-on-5 by now. At this point, it would be surprising for the Pelicans to risk his health by pushing for him to participate in the eight-game regular season.
Source: Will Guillory on Twitter
July 3, 2020, 4:26 pmJJ RedickSG, New Orleans Pelicans
J.J. Redick has intentionally lost 10 pounds since the quarantine began.
Redick's goal was to get back to his playing weight during his college days at Duke, and it's not a surprise that one of the most dedicated workers in the league was able to drop weight during the coronavirus pandemic. Redick's shooting will be sorely needed when the Pelicans try to chase down the Grizzlies for a playoff spot, but if he does not come out of the gates making an impact the Pelicans are likely to shift to another hot hand on their deep roster. Redick has only seen 26.4 minutes per game this season, and that is going to limit his impact to strictly 3-pointers (2.9 per game).
Source: Daniel Sallerson on Twitter
July 3, 2020, 4:14 pmTyler HerroPG, Miami Heat
Tyler Herro said the time off allowed his right ankle to fully recover.
Herro returned to action just before the shutdown due to COVID-19. With the ankle back to 100 percent, he will face no restrictions when play picks back up in Orlando. While Herro's scoring prowess caused some increased expectations for his rookie season, he's largely been an afterthought for the Heat. He can clearly shoot the rock (2.1 treys on .391 shooting), but the rest of his game is lacking, and the Heat do not have time to devote to rookie development when the season resumes.
Source: Ira Winderman on Twitter
July 3, 2020, 4:08 pmKent BazemoreSG, Sacramento Kings
Kent Bazemore, who has been a welcomed presence since joining the Kings in January, reiterated that he'd like to stay with the team.
Bazemore had a lot of opportunity before him when the Blazers were faltering due to injuries at the start of the season and he failed to take advantage. However, a change of scenery made a significant difference, as his field goal percentage leaped from .347 with the Blazers, to .426 with the Kings, and his scoring also increased from 7.9 points to 10.3 points per contest. He sounds locked in as the Kings prepare for the Orlando bubble, but a healthy Kings' roster could handicap his opportunity for playing time when things start back up.
Source: James Ham on Twitter
July 3, 2020, 3:57 pmVictor OladipoSG, Indiana Pacers
Shams Charania is reporting that Victor Oladipo will sit out the remainder of the Pacers' season.
Oladipo decided to exercise caution as his quad tendon is still susceptible to a relapse, and the circumstances of the Orlando bubble are anything but predictable. It's a big hit to the Pacers chances when play resumes, but Oladipo should be close to 100 percent next year as he continues his rehab and seeks to further strengthen his quad tendon. This season was a flop as he only appeared in 13 games, but Oladipo should be looking to return fully recovered and seeking early-round value next year. The Pacers will continue leaning on their depth to fill the void, and Malcolm Brogdon will continue to be the lead guard running the show in Indiana.
Source: Shams Charania on Twitter
July 3, 2020, 3:48 pmJimmy ButlerSG, Miami Heat
After a second member of the Heat tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday, the team practice facilities have been closed to all activities, with an exception for testing.
Derrick Jones Jr. had tested positive earlier in the week, and it has not been reported who the latest player to test positive for the coronavirus is. This is a precautionary measure that many teams are undertaking as they prepare to shift operations to the Orlando bubble. The Heat will resume team activities there on July 8.
Source: Ethan J Skolnick on Twitter
July 3, 2020, 2:38 pmGordon HaywardSF, Boston Celtics
Both Gordon Hayward and Vincent Poirier plan to leave the NBA bubble in September, when their respective partners are set to give birth.
Both are expected to be given permission to leave the bubble and will be able to return after a four-day quarantine. If the league's plans play out, September will be right in the thick of the playoffs, so it's unfortunate timing for the team even though it's the right decision for Hayward. It's something to keep in mind if you're planning to play fantasy games through the postseason.
Source: The Athletic
July 2, 2020, 9:02 pmKawhi LeonardSF, Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers closed their practice facility in a precautionary move after a member of their Orlando traveling party tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday.
This seems like something that will continue to happen as we prepare to move teams into the Orlando bubble. We'll keep an eye on whether any specific player is infected and how that will impact the restart plans for this team.
Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter
July 2, 2020, 4:49 pmStephen CurryPG, Golden State Warriors
According to Adrian Wojnarowski and Jackie MacMullan of ESPN, the NBA is close to signing off on a secondary bubble location in Chicago for the eight teams left out of the league resumption with a target date of September.
They went on to say that this bubble would allow those eight teams who were not invited to Orlando to have an opportunity to have mini-training camps as well as games. It has been reported throughout the last few months that the teams that were not invited should have an opportunity to prepare for next season. Many of the teams who were not included would benefit greatly from additional practice time and game reps as most of these teams have young players who need to continue to develop their skills. There will still be a lot of logistics that need to be ironed out so this a situation to monitor as we learn more.
Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter
July 2, 2020, 4:01 pmMarvin Bagley IIIPF, Sacramento Kings
Marvin Bagley confirmed that he is "ready to go" for the NBA restart in Orlando after rehabbing from a left foot sprain.
It was previously reported in early July that the Kings' training staff believed that Bagley would be available for game action soon and this report confirms that Bagley will in fact be available for the league resumption. Bagley has yet to live up to the hype of the second overall pick in 2018 as he has only been able to play in 75 out of a possible 146 games (51.3 percent). It is unclear what role Bagley will have in Orlando but it appears that his injury woes are behind him and we will learn more about his ability during the league resumption. Bagley's return would likely cut into the playing time of Nemanja Bjelica, Harry Giles, Jabari Parker and Harrison Barnes.
Source: Sean Cunningham on Twitter