An Early Look at the 2019 NBA Draft Class

We are only two months removed from the 2018 NBA Draft. But what names should we keep in mind for next summer? In no real order, here are ten players to keep in mind for the 2019 NBA Draft. Because I like balance, I chose five returning sophomores and five freshman players.

Let’s start with the potential one-and-done prospects. These are not necessarily the best five, though they could be. These are just five names I picked.

R.J. Barrett: Forward

Freshman | Duke | 6'7" | 195 lbs.

The number one player in the class of 2019, R.J. Barrett is thought by most to be the likely number one pick next summer. Barrett is a good athlete who can work as a lead ball handler, a slasher to the hoop, or in isolation. His shot isn’t great, but he has an entire season to work on that at Duke. Barrett should be the go-to guy on a Blue Devil’s roster loaded with young talent. If he shows out, the Canadian star will likely be the first player selected in the 2019 draft.

Cameron Reddish: Forward

Freshman | Duke | 6'9" | 205 lbs.

We move through the Duke roster, and up next is Cameron Reddish. Reddish was the second ranked player in the class of 2019 and chose Duke for his likely one year of college. Reddish is a great ball handler who operates well with the ball in his hands. He has great size, and is a fluid athlete. The questions with Reddish come when talking about his effort and intensity. If he shows that while in Durham, his draft stock will benefit.

Zion Williamson: Forward

Freshman | Duke | 6'7" | 275 lbs.

Zion Williamson is the third and final freshman from Duke on this list. He is a viral sensation. Williamson’s dunk videos have been viewed countless times, he has millions of followers on social media, and pretty much everyone has an opinion on him. The term is overused, but Zion is truly unique. He is massive, a stellar athlete, and can jump out of the building. His height, weight, and skill set make me believe his value is as a small-ball big. He handles the ball well enough and has good feel, but his jumper will be under a microscope all season.

Nassir Little: Forward

Freshman | North Carolina | 6'7" | 205 lbs.

Just down Tobacco road at North Carolina, the Tar Heels have a big time freshman of their own. Nassir Little has potential to be the best two way player at the top of this draft. He is a scorer at all three levels, brings a 7'1" wing-span, and has a tough attitude on defense. Little seemed to really rise throughout the year on high school circuits. He plays with a high motor on both ends of the year floor and could really breakout for North Carolina. I’ll say this now, I won’t be surprised at all if Little becomes my favorite prospect in this class.

Bol Bol: Center

Freshman | Oregon | 7'3" | 220 lbs.

You definitely recognize Bol Bol’s name. His dad, Manute, is the tallest player to ever play in the NBA at 7'7". Bol isn’t quite his dad’s height, but does bring a 7'9" wingspan and a ridiculous 9'6" standing reach. He has some big question marks, but is poised to be a rim protector and lob catcher. The concerns on Bol from evaluators are: his want to win and get better, his size and if he can get stronger, and how much his game translates. He shoots pretty well for a big, but the release is low. The consensus seems to be that this is a huge year for Bol at Oregon to show what kind of player he really is.

Now, let’s move on to the sophomores returning to college basketball. Similar to the freshman, these are not necessarily the best sophomores, though they could be. These are just five of my favorites.

Jontay Porter: Center

Sophomore | Missouri | 6'11" | 240 lbs.

Jontay Porter tested the NBA Draft waters this summer and decided to go back for another year at Missouri. Porter was a late riser for me and would have been picked if he stayed in the draft. However, another year in school could really benefit him. It’s no secret that Porter needs to work on his body. At the combine, he had the highest percentage of body fat of any player there. But there is a lot to like about his game. He is smart player who knows where to be, passes very well, and can shoot it from three.

DeAndre Hunter: Forward

Sophomore | Virginia | 6'8" | 222 lbs.

DeAndre Hunter missed Virginia’s historic NCAA tournament loss after a wrist injury kept him out of the game. He opted to return to Virginia and should have a big role for the Cavaliers. Hunter has great size and can defend four positions. His versatility will be a big bonus for his stock. He has shown some handles and creating ability. If Hunter becomes the featured guy in the yawn fest that is the Wahoo offense, NBA teams could really fall in love with him.

Daniel Gafford: Center

Sophomore | Arkansas | 6'11" | 234 lbs.

While it was a bit of a surprise that Daniel Gafford opted to stay out of the 2018 draft, I think it could ultimately be really good for him. Gafford is long and athletic, but at times shows to be raw. He could end up being the best center in this class. Gafford is a rim rummer and shot block who can run the floor. His touch needs to improve, and his free throw shooting leaves something to be desired. He showed some mobility on defense when put in switches, but got in foul trouble during his freshman season. Gafford’s discipline needs work.

P.J. Washington: Forward

Sophomore | Kentucky | 6'7" | 236 lbs.

P.J. Washington flirted with the draft, and probably would have been picked, but elected to withdraw his name. I had Washington ranked in my top 60. However, this season at Kentucky could pole vault him. He will be a key piece for John Calipari. Washington plays with a ton of energy, rebounds, and is a really good small ball big for the Wildcats. He’s got great length, quickness, and smarts. He shoots okay, but if Washington starts to show that he can shoot the three, he could solidify himself in the first round.

Jarrett Culver: Forward

Sophomore | Texas Tech | 6'5" | 194 lbs.

Zhaire Smith was the breakout star for Texas Tech last season, but he certainly wasn’t the only standout freshman. Jarrett Culver was a key piece for the Red Raiders. Culver is a long, athletic wing who could play the two or the three. He scored mostly on spot ups last season, but should have a chance to show himself as a creator this season in a bigger role. Culver plays with a lot of energy, but needs to be more consistent defensively. His three point shooting is okay, but there is a hitch in his shot, and he needs it to fall more often.

Thanks for reading. Pardon any missed typos.

NN