Assessing The Top Five NBA Draft Prospects

Griffin Garcia, Staff Writer

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After Virginia defeated Texas Tech in the NCAA National Championship, now comes the time for the world’s best basketball prospects to enter their names into the NBA Draft. Here are my top 10 prospects for the 2019 NBA Draft.

(All stats via sports-reference.com)

  1. Zion Williamson, F, Duke,

Williamson had expectations higher than any amateur basketball player since LeBron James going into his freshman season at Duke. The 2018-2019 Duke season ended with Williamson posting per-game averages of 22.6 points, 8.9 rebounds and 2.1 assists while shooting an absurd 68 percent from the field. While his jumper is still a work-in-progress, these numbers won him the John R. Wooden Award, which is awarded to the nation’s best male player, as a freshman. Not only did Williamson live up to his expectations, but has left passing on him in the draft seem like a fireable offense for an NBA General Manager.

  1. Ja Morant, G, Murray State

While Morant did not play in a power-five conference, he scorched the Ohio Valley Conference in his sophomore season and averaged 24.5 points, 10 assists and 5.7 rebounds per game which resulted in him receiving First-Team All American honors. With a developing, yet capable, jump-shot, elite athleticism and high basketball IQ are enough for many to consider him a top-three lock in this year’s draft.

  1. Jarrett Culver, G/F, Texas Tech

Culver’s sophomore season was an incredible success both on the court and on draft boards. Posting averages of 18.5 PPG, 6.4 RPG and 3.7 APG while leading his team to a National Championship appearance and a Big 12 Championship made scouts believe in his ability to lead a winning team as the best player on both sides of the floor. Culver boasted a defensive rating of 86.9 in 2018-2019 and carried the majority of his team’s offense shooting. Along with statistics and success, Culver possesses fluid athleticism and clean shot mechanics, which will allow him to transition to the NBA smoothly.

  1. De’Andre Hunter, F, Virginia

In a league that values defensive versatility and three-point shooting as much as anything else, Hunter has all of the tools to be a terrific NBA player. With NBA-ready measurements of six-feet-eight-inches and 230 pounds, Hunter has proven his ability to defend any position one through four with his strength and footspeed. His numbers may not pop off of the page, but his performance in the National Championship included a career-high 27 points. His star talent also led to multiple clutch shots to keep Virginia alive. And his defending of Culver in the final minutes of regulation and overtime sealed his top-five prospect status.

  1. RJ Barrett, G/F, Duke

Barrett was the number one ranked recruit, ahead of Williamson, going into the season. Barrett had times where his “alpha mentality” seemed to cost Duke games, while also displaying an extreme lack of ambidextrousness. But he by no means played himself down the prospect ranks. Barrett still averaged 22.6 PPG, 7.6 RPG and 4.3 APG. It would surprise no one if Barrett’s name was called as high as second on draft night, but the looming fear is that he may perform more like Andrew Wiggins than Kobe Bryant.