Listen there’s no football on today and while the college basketball slate is okay, there aren’t many games. Therefore we’ll take a look at my second release of the top-30 prospects for the NBA Draft this year.
This doesn’t take into account where teams will end up in the Draft as that tends to play a role in who gets drafted when, but rather if a person is looking at best player available. This Draft is also quite different from last year’s in which everyone talked about the depth that the class of 2017 had. This coming draft feels quite top heavy as everyone seems to agree on the top-4 and then really a fall off after 11 or 12 in some order. So here are the top-30 prospects – 26 of which are currently playing college basketball. I’m going to use point, wing, stretch and post as their positions instead of the traditional 5 due to the fact they are irrelevant now.
1. Marvin Bagley (Duke, Freshman, Post)
I’m still giving Bagley the edge for the No. 1 prospect. He’s absolutely unreal on the boards and extremely polished when it comes to finishing. Watching him everything just looks in slow motion due to his smooth finish around the rim. Throw in the fact he’s uber athletic and can score in a variety of ways, I’m a big fan of his game. The concern is his defense and I’m not sure how good of a defender he’ll be, but I’m still buying him at No. 1.
2. Luka Doncic (Real Madrid/Slovenia, Wing)
Doncic has the ability to play on or off the ball with his ability to just create as a playmaker. He can shoot off the dribble or off the catch and at just 18 years old is unbelievably polished. The numbers he’s currently putting up at Real Madrid are absolutely nuts as he’s putting up 15.8/5.6/4.6 in just 25 minutes per game as an 18-year old. He’ll step in from day one and be able to provide shooting and off ball playmaking.
3. Deandre Ayton (Arizona, Freshman, Post)
Ayton’s season is almost flying under the radar due to what Trae Young is doing. As good friend of the program Sam Vecenie pointed out he’s on pace to become the first freshman in the last quarter-century to average at least 19.5 points, 11 rebounds and 1.5 blocks while shooting more than 60 percent from the field.
4. Trae Young (Oklahoma, Freshman, Point)
Yeah, it’s time for me to put Young in my top-5, even after the head to head loss to Collin Sexton (they are in the same tier for me though). Think about what Young is doing right now at the collegiate level playing in the Big 12 with an average to above average supporting cast. Now imagine him with NBA players. The floor will be even more open and his quick release will translate to the next level.
5. Michael Porter Jr. (Missouri, Freshman, Stretch)
So this is obviously pending whatever NBA doctors find out about his back when the teams do their research. That said, if he comes back with a clean scan and everything like that he’ll be right up there for the No. 1 pick. He’s the prototypical stretch four with good size, the ability to create his own shot and shoot from the outside.
6. Jaren Jackson Jr. (Michigan State, Freshman, Stretch)
Jackson has been overshadowed by his teammate Miles Bridges so far this year, but believe me when I say Jaren Jackson Jr., is a freak and that’s a total compliment. He’s averaging over 3 blocks per game, has the ability to stretch the floor as he’s shooting 43% from three and has decent footwork in the post. He’s also incredibly young for the class.
7. Mo Bamba (Texas, Freshman, Post)
He’s an absolute freak defensively and has the ability to be a real game-changer on that side of the ball. He’s not as polished offensively as the other top guys here, especially the other bigs, but he’s the best defender of the group. He’s starting to come alive offensively as he’s scored 24 and 25 the last two games and is now averaging 13 a game.
8. Collin Sexton (Alabama, Freshman, Point)
I love how pissed off Collin Sexton plays and it’s a huge advantage for him. He has a 6’7″ wingspan which really shows on the defensive side of the ball. I’d like to see him be more consistent with his shot selection and finishing, but he’s also shooting 36% from three.
9. Mikal Bridges (Junior, Villanova, Wing)
The prototypical 3-and-D guy is exactly how Mikal Bridges will be described. He’s 6’7″ with a 7’2″ wingspan who can really bother shots as he’s averaging over a block and a steal per game. He’s also shooting 43% from the 3-point line this year. With the NBA going more to a positionless era, Bridges’ ability to guard 3 positions is important here.
10. Wendell Carter (Freshman, Duke, Post)
The second Duke post player in the top-10 here, Wendell Carter would be putting up more absurd numbers if it wasn’t for Bagley. Carter can protect the rim with 2 blocks per game. He has good size. He has the ability to step out and shoot the three (he’s shooting 46% on 27 threes this year). Just like Bagley, Carter is an absolute monster on the glass averaging over 9 rebounds per game.
11. Miles Bridges (Sophomore, Michigan State, Stretch)
Bridges has shown his ability to play the three this year despite being made to be a college four. It’s that sort of versatility along with his athleticism that GM’s will love. The biggest sign of improvement though? He’s shooting 90% from the free throw line this year, up from 68% last year while he still shoots the same amount of free throws per game.
12. Troy Brown (Freshman, Oregon, Wing)
Brown is a 6’7″ wing for Oregon who reminds me a bit of Dillon Brooks in the sense of Oregon running its offense through him and letting him be a playmaker. Due to that he’s averaging 11 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists per game. His 3-point shooting has slipped as the year has gone on, but he’s still shooting 79% from the free throw line.
13. Kevin Knox (Freshman, Kentucky, Wing)
Knox has been inconsistent so far this year, but that game against West Virginia showed why NBA teams are excited about him. He has good size at 6’9″ with a 7’0″ wingspan and prefers to step out and shoot the ball. However, he has the ability to take the defender off the bounce and is a decent rebounder.
14. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Freshman, Kentucky, Point)
Gilgeous-Alexander has firmly planted himself as the third best point guard in this draft. He’s a 6’6″ point guard with a 7’0″ wingspan that should translate to being a good defender at the next level. He’s not unbelievably athletic or anything like that, but he does an excellent job of finding spots and attacking that way.
15. Shake Milton (Junior, SMU, Wing)
Milton is another guy who can play on or off the ball and at 6’6″ has enough size to play multiple positions. He’s an excellent shooter as he’s about a 43% shooter for 3 for his career at SMU. Along with being able to defend multiple positions, he does a great job of creating for teammates. He’s a guy that can step in with the second unit and fill spots right away.
16. Daniel Gafford (Freshman, Arkansas, Post)
Gafford is another guy who really shot up draft boards lately and at 6’11” with a bunch of upside makes him intriguing in the top-20. He’s averaging 11 and 6 per game while also blocking about 2 shots per game. It’ll be interesting to see where he ends up with the depth of bigs in this year’s class.
17. Lonnie Walker IV (Freshman, Miami, Wing)
Walker got off to a little bit of a slow start after suffering a meniscus injury before the season, but NBA teams are still high on him due to his length and defensive ability. He’s been inconsistent but he’s improved his 3-point shooting to 37% on the year now. He can guard multiple positions and is starting to figure it out offensively as he’s scored 20+ in the last two games.
18. Chandler Hutchison (Senior, Boise State, Wing)
People don’t necessarily tend to shoot up draft boards as seniors, but that’s exactly what Hutchison is doing. He’s a triple-double threat for Boise State, but more importantly has improved his shooting. His free throw shooting is at a career high 72% and same for his 3-point shooting at 38%.
19. Dzanan Musa (Cedevita/Bosnia) – At just 18 years old he’s still a work in progress and that’s evident whenever you watch him attempt to play defense. However, he’s someone who can step in and provide shooting right away.
20. Jalen Brunson (Junior, Villanova, Point)
Yes, I think he’ll end up being one of those better college players than NBA players, but he’s absolutely someone who you want as a backup point guard that can play from day one. He’s been compared to guys like Andre Miller, Jameer Nelson and TJ McConnell and I see a little bit of all. He gets teammates involved, can shoot off the dribble and catch and is physical enough to defend. I’m higher on him than most.
21. Mitchell Robinson (N/A, Post)
It’s a shame we’re not getting to see Robinson play college ball at Western Kentucky, because I think he’d be about 5 spots higher on this list. During his high school/AAU days he relied on athleticism to dominate players and while he does have tremendous athleticism, we simply don’t know how polished his game has gotten over the last 8 months.
22. Khyri Thomas (Junior, Creighton, Wing)
There’s a lot to like about Thomas’ game, most notably the fact he’s been an absolute shutdown defender this year. More importantly he’s continued to grow on the offensive side of the ball, which was always the question with him. He’s upped his free throw shooting and points per game so far this year.
23. Robert Williams (Sophomore, Texas A&M, Post)
Williams has had a brutal sophomore year, especially when you consider he was a likely lottery pick last year. He hasn’t done anything to really improve his game or show where he developed. He’s still an athletic post player who can protect the rim, but perhaps no one has fallen farther than Williams.
24. Anfernee Simons (N/A, Wing) – Simons was a one-time Louisville commit before the Pitino/FBI stuff hit and he’s since decommitted. He’s now thinking of skipping college all together and entering the NBA Draft as he’s technically one year removed from high school as he’s playing at IMG Academy. At the current level we do know he likes to attack off the bounce and is a good shooter off of there as well.
25. Bruce Brown (Sophomore, Miami, Wing)
His numbers aren’t going to jump out at you as he’s had a bit of a disappointing sophomore year. However, he’s an excellent defender who can play both on and off the ball defensively. He needs to improve his shooting as his free throw shooting has dropped and he’s just 26% from the 3-point line.
26. Hami Diallo (Freshman, Kentucky, Wing)
Diallo is a unique prospect who is hard to get a read on. He’s developed a bigger hitch in his outside shot which is alarming and it shows with his 62% free throw shooting and 35% from the 3. He often forces some long jumpers, which isn’t his game and can get lost defensively. That said he’s an absolute freak athletically who could develop into a decent on ball defender and is starting to become a better rebounder.
27. Landry Shamet (Sophomore, Wichita State, Point)
I continue to buy into Shamet as a first round pick the more I watch him on film. Shamet has good size at 6’4″ for the point guard spot. He’s shooting 47% from the 3-point line and 82% from the free throw line so far this year. I do wonder how well he’ll create for himself at the NBA level, but he’s one of the smarter players in the class.
28. Jarred Vanderbilt (Freshman, Kentucky, Wing)
Vanderbilt just returned from injury and will draw a ton of interest throughout the rest of the year. He’s drawn comparisons as a JV version of Ben Simmons and Lamar Odom due to his size/wingspan and ability to handle the ball. He’s not known for his shooting but is a pretty good passer, especially from the free throw line area and a strong rebounder from the wing.
29. Brandon McCoy (Freshman, UNLV, Post)
McCoy has quietly been putting together one of the best seasons for freshmen this year. He’s averaging 17 and 10 and has shown the ability to step out and hit 12 footers to go with his polished post game. He’s shooting 66% from the free throw line, which at 7’1? is a huge positive sign.
30. Keita Bates-Diop (Junior, Ohio State, Wing)
What a leap Bates-Diop has taken this year, huh? The favorite to win Big 10 Player of the Year and be an All-American, Bates-Diop is averaging 20 points per game and shooting 38% from three. He has good size on the wing at 6’7″ but his athleticism is a question mark going forward.