The 2018 NBA Draft has been touted as one of the most important drafts since 2003, featuring a class loaded with star-quality talent at the top and potential long-term role players throughout the first and second rounds. Some of Holyfield’s NBA team members compiled a big board of the top 60 prospects here, complete with short breakdowns of what makes the incoming talent so special.
1. DeAndre Ayton | Fr., Arizona | PF/C
Ayton is a physical freak, probably the most physically gifted center to enter the draft since Dwight Howard. He’s a better shooter than Howard as well, and we could see him become a viable three-point threat before it is all said and done. Whoever drafts him is getting 20-10 for the next decade at the worst. But, unlike Howard, concerns about his defense are very real after the way Arizona was ousted from the tournament. If your center struggles on defense, it isn’t easy to build an elite unit on that end. Any team that drafts him will have to hope his ineptitude on that end stems from a lack of “want” and not actual ability.
— Kyle Howard
2. Luka Doncic | Real Madrid | PG/SG
The first words that will come up in talking about Luka Doncic are almost always about his “feel for the game,” and that is every bit deserved. Very few players have the ability to control the defenders around them like Doncic does, whether by getting a defender on his back and keeping him there going around a screen, or judging that the guy went just a little too far over the screen and Doncic’s big man has a free lane to the rim. There will be some growing pains, as he has to defend NBA-caliber players with his middling explosiveness, but ultimately, between his ability to feel the court and also actually execute based on that feeling as a solid three-level scorer and passer, he should be able to translate his success in the Euroleague over to the top league.
— Joseph Nation
3. Marvin Bagley | Fr., Duke | PF/C
Bagley is one of the most exciting players to watch in college basketball. He lived up to — and, if possible, exceeded — his highly touted reputation coming in as the top basketball recruit in the country. He’s a 20/10 machine with a high motor. But he somehow makes his high motor, relentlessly pursuing rebounds, seem effortless. Bagley is versatile in his game, he can score down in the post or blow by defenders that are usually slower than him. He can improve his game by further developing his off (right) hand and a consistent jump shot. Due to his ability to blow by defenders, he has a tendency to rely on it. His game should translate very well to the NBA due to his athleticism and effort. But rounding out his offensive game, and filling out so he can defend the post better will allow him to become a force, a la Amare Stoudemire in his heyday.
— Premal Bhatt
4. Michael Porter Jr. | Fr., Mizzou | PF/SF
MPJ was supposed to be the next Kevin Durant until a back injury robbed draft fanatics of any non-high school highlights until the SEC tournament. In his return, it’s hard to tell if Porter is actually 100 percent — he struggled to separate from defenders and missed a considerable number of shots in his miniature return to action. In addition, his lack of flow in the offense was on full display, where he struggled to find any contributions outside of scoring. Still, high school highlights show a dimension of Porter as an unstoppable scorer who can get off a shot even in tightly-guarded situations and a forward who can even protect the rim as a weakside blocker. While he was once profiled as a small forward, it’s likely that he plays as a Harrison Barnes-like 4 at the next level. Porter’s ceiling as a multifaceted defender and scorer is tantalizing; it’s his floor as a chucker and defensive nonfactor that is worrisome.
— Will Muckian
5. Mohamed Bamba | Fr., Texas | C
It’s hard to envision a scenario where Bamba is not a game changer on defense. Built in the mold of Rudy Gobert, Bamba’s incredible reach and wingspan will make him a nightmare to finish over for anyone in the NBA. That alone makes him a relatively safe pick. At the worst, you’re getting an elite rim protector and a guy who can haul in rebounds on both ends. Offensively, there are still a lot of limitations. He’ll never be a fluid post player, but his feel for the game is lacking as well. These aren’t make-or-break issues, but for a projected top-five pick, they are weaknesses a team has to consider. He actually has a solid form on his jumper, despite low efficiency. If he can develop a shot, you can go ahead and add him to the growing list of NBA unicorns.
6. Jaren Jackson Jr. | Fr., Michigan State | PF/C
Jaren Jackson entered the draft scene as one of the higher-ceiling bigs in the draft but with nothing near the fanfare of Marvin Bagley or DeAndre Ayton. However, Jackson may be the safest pick of the three, despite being the youngest. He’s shown the ability to stretch the floor (albeit with unorthodox jumper mechanics), defend both at the rim and in space, and rebound in a large range at the NCAA level. Jaren Jackson is not a player to build your scheme around; he’s a player whose mid-level projection is a starter who can fit into nearly any team. He’s not likely to become a franchise centerpiece with his struggles scoring in isolation, but it’s hard to see a situation where he fails to boost a team with his abilities.
7. Collin Sexton | Fr., Alabama | PG/SG
Sexton can sure score the ball and he proved it in his only season as Alabama’s point guard. He attacks with the basketball well, playing through contact which he is sure to encounter at the pro level. He’s athletic and speedy, using his ballhandling to be a very effective slasher. Sexton passes well in transition as has shown great vision, always looking to attack a defense. However, he struggled to get his teammates involved overall. Some blame that on the lack of talent around him or the stagnant offense, but others use it as a cause for concern if he’s given the keys to a franchise’s offense. Sexton in no way is Russell Westbrook, but his high-energy, passionate play combined with his scoring mentality reminds you of Russ. He is more than capable as a defender, as his two-way ability makes it very likely that he is one of the earliest guards taken in the upcoming NBA draft, if not the first.
8. Mikal Bridges | Jr., Villanova | SG/SF
The better of the two Bridges on our Big Board, Mikal is a top-tier 3-and-D prospect whose abilities should translate smoothly to the NBA. He won’t blow you away with his athleticism, but his elite length and decent quickness will make him a defensive asset at the pro level, and man, his jumper is smoooooooth. Coached under Jay Wright, Bridges has taken significant leaps each year and there’s no reason to think he’s reached his ceiling yet. Best of all, he knows his game. Bridges has always played entirely within himself, and his fantastic efficiency numbers show it. He might struggle at the next level with his shot creation, but with his frame and shooting ability, I don’t think anyone will really mind.
— Jeff Weissman
9. Wendell Carter Jr. | Fr., Duke | C/PF
Wendell Carter’s biggest flaw attention-wise was probably choosing to go to the same school as Marvin Bagley. Carter chose one of the only schools that could get him overshadowed. He’s a true big man at 6’10”, 260 pounds who is polished on the offensive end. He has developed his ability to space the floor some at Duke but will improve that further in the NBA. Carter is a great passer and rebounder, averaging two assists per game and nine rebounds per game, which is saying a lot for all the talent the Blue Devils possessed this season. Carter has decent athleticism — runs the floor well, absorbs contact in the post on both ends of the floor — but it’s not elite explosiveness. If he’s able to improve in that regard, Carter will have longevity in the league in any system.
10. Trae Young | Fr., Oklahoma | PG
Like last year’s controversial PG Lonzo Ball, everybody has an opinion on Trae Young. His footwork is questionable, but it’s really, really hard to ignore his box score numbers. Not many players have put up 27/4/9 on any level, even if Young’s efficiency came and went. He’s a clever and crafty offensive player who can always create a decent shot for himself or for a teammate. His range is massive and he knows it. Defensively, he’s never gonna lock anyone down, but he has average size and he should be able to hide on most two guards. If that jumper of his proves to be more than a fluke, Young can really be special on the offensive end.
11. Miles Bridges | So., Michigan State | SF/PF
If Miles Bridges could handle the rock, he’d be much higher up on this list. As it is, it doesn’t seem like he’ll be able to create his own shot at the NBA level, at least early on. His skill set aligns perfectly with the modern NBA 4 spot, but he’s only about 6’6 and 225 lbs. Still, he has all the tools to be a fantastic defender, and if a coach can take advantage of that, then they’d have a player that can happily slot into three different positions, albeit in an off-ball role. If Miles can figure out his ball handling, he has the potential to really make some noise, but that’s a really big if. His shooting should keep him out of tweener hell, but you can never really be sure.
12. Kevin Knox | Fr., Kentucky | SF/PF
Knox displayed a lot of potential as a two-way player in his lone season at Kentucky. His size and wingspan coupled with underrated mobility allow him to defend guards and wing equally well, and he is an excellent athlete who will excel in transition in the NBA. His jumper is sound also, and his ability to shoot the ball could be what propels him to the next level in the league. His stats may not show it, but chalk that up to being the lone shooter in a paint-packed Wildcats offense. Early in his career, a lot of his success will be dependent upon his role. He isn’t an advanced shot creator, and his ballhandling needs work. If he’s allowed to play his game, he could be the steal of the lottery.
13. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander | Fr., Kentucky | PG/SG
A combo guard with impressive length, Gilgeous-Alexander projects as a plus defender at the next level. If he adds some weight, he could conceivably guard up to three positions. Offensively, he can get to the rim and finish nicely, but right now he doesn’t threaten the defense with his jump shot. He’s not explosive, but his movements are fluid and he has some limited ability to shift gears as a driver. He shoots over 80 percent from the line and shot 40 percent from three on limited attempts, so the foundation is there, but he doesn’t appear to be comfortable taking a lot of shots from deep. Improvement there will be key, mostly because he isn’t a natural lead guard, unlike De’Aaron Fox before him.
14. Robert Williams | So., Texas A&M | C/PF
Robert Williams is a great example of a promising freshman returning to school for little benefit. Williams was seen as a mid-to-low first round pick in 2017, and any hope scouts may have had for his future as a stretch big has to be dashed after the way Williams played for the Aggies this year. Williams is a rim-runner through and through; he operates best when he’s as close as possible to the rim and asked to do nothing but put it up without frill or flair. Williams’ top skill is that he isn’t just one sort of athletic, as many rim-bound centers are. He is fast in transition, quick to the glass, and can get way off the ground for blocks and lobs. Think DeAndre Jordan (another TAMU product) in terms of vertical speed.
15. Lonnie Walker | Fr., Miami | SG
To me, Lonnie Walker is Avery Bradley with some potential knee problems. So, in other words, he might be Iman Shumpert. He has a nice looking jumper that simply doesn’t fall as much as it should, but his athleticism is undeniable. He projects as a potential lockdown defender at the NBA level. The on-court product is just less than the sum of those parts. Thanks to his knee injury, Walker came into this season rusty, and he never quite meshed with his teammates. We’ll see if any issues stick around now that he’s healthy. There are lots of questions to be answered.
16. Zhaire Smith | So., Texas Tech | SF
Smith’s skill set can best be explained as “what scouts wanted Hamidou Diallo to be.” Smith lacks consistent jumper motions, but his defensive IQ is at an NBA level and his athletic tools are on the same plane. Smith is a bombastic athlete who thrives as a putback specialist who can dominate above the rim. His weakside blocks are consistent contenders for highlight reels, and he has legitimate potential as a lockdown wing. He has some potential as a shooter in the future but is not nearly there yet (a la Delon Wright). He knows his limits, so continual improvement, however marginal, will help him cement a spot on any roster.
17. Mitchell Robinson | Undeclared | PF/C
Robinson could be in the Bagley/JJJ/Bamba conversation if scouts had any opportunities to see him against NCAA competition. Instead, secluded for a season to focus on draft prep, Robinson’s talent is a subject of much discussion as draft boards are being drawn up. What we know: he stretched the floor as a 3-point threat in high school, gets off the ground quickly, and has decent all-around size for a big. His IQ is hotly debated, as is his character — his dismissal from Western Kentucky has not yet been explained. Still, his tools and early flashes as a two-way center are worth a long look.
18. Troy Brown | Fr., Oregon | SF/SG
Brown has all the makings of a solid role player at the next level. He has good size for an NBA wing at 6’7, with a 6’11 wingspan, and he can do a lot of things well, such as rebounding and passing as well as scoring without the ball. His size will give him the potential to be a multi-positional defender and offensive player as well. For Oregon, Brown only shot 29% from distance, and while his form isn’t bad, it is a bit slow and he’ll undoubtedly need to improve on it in order to have a long career in the league.
19. Khyri Thomas | Jr., Creighton | SG
His upside is somewhat limited, but Thomas should be a very solid player in the NBA. He’s already a fantastic defender, and his shot is good enough that it’ll warrant respect at the next level. He’s definitely a two-guard, but he’s a smart enough player that you could probably get away with having him be a secondary playmaker, especially off the bench. Thomas isn’t going to wow you, but he’s got some game, and he should forge a nice career.
20. Landry Shamet | So., Wichita State | SG/PG
Landry Shamet is by far the most NBA-ready point guard in this class. An excellent shooter, making 44.2 percent of his 5.9 attempts from three per game this year, he has a significant amount of experience running the pick and roll already in Gregg Marshall’s offense which uses a lot more NBA concepts than most college offenses. There are legitimate concerns about his athleticism translating to the next level, and he often doesn’t help that by failing to slide his feet to stay with drivers, instead choosing to fall behind and turn his shoulders outright, but his massive wingspan will cover up a lot of issues there. Ultimately, Shamet should start strong in the NBA, and he has shown ability to improve himself, having gone from a weak passing shooting guard to a competent point guard over the life of his time at Wichita State.
21. Keita Bates-Diop | Sr., Ohio State | PF/SF
KBD is a true testament to the college game improving a prospect’s skill level. Ohio State’s fast, surprising resurgence had a lot to do with Bates-Diop’s Big Ten Player of the Year season. He averaged nearly 20 points and nine rebounds per game, being the Buckeyes’ go-to on the offensive end thanks to his incredible touch. He showed his versatility by shooting 35.9 percent from three-point range, while still being able to score in the post and rebound at a high level. He was very effective on the defensive end all season, as he protected the rim well when defending down low and forced opposing players into heavily contested jump shots. Ultimately, Bates-Diop suffers from being in between positions at the NBA level. He’s not tall enough to play power forward, and likely not explosive enough for small forward. Without jump-off-the-page athleticism, he’ll have to improve further at shooting from deep and defending in order to fill in as a role player at the next level.
22. Dzanan Musa | Cedevita | SF/SG
Musa is a gifted scorer from anywhere on the court. He can shoot from deep, albeit being streaky, get to the lane, and he also has a solid floater. To succeed at the next level he’ll need to improve the consistency on his three-point shot. Teams won’t be drafting him to be a primary scorer, and it’s unknown how he’ll do in a complementary role. He won’t ever excel on defense because of his lack of strength and length, so he’ll need to make up for that by playing with a high motor as well, something he hasn’t always done in his international career.
23. Chandler Hutchinson | Sr., Boise State | SF
A four-year player at Boise State, Hutchinson should come out of the draft more NBA-ready than most of his peers. He can defend multiple positions (thanks to his 7’1 wingspan), rebound, pass the ball adequately, and finish around the rim. However, like most mid-to-late first round prospects, he’ll need to work on his three-point shot to have a chance in the league. He shot 36.5 percent combined in his last two years at Boise State, but only 70 percent from the three-point line. He’ll need to be more consistent from both spots in the league to stick around.
24. Hamidou Diallo | So., Kentucky | SF/SG
His name is really fun to say, especially when it comes up on SportsCenter attached to some insane dunk or block. Diallo is a freakish athlete but he never really managed to put that athleticism to use in his sophomore season. He has his moments, especially in the open floor, but he’s a project on both ends. His stock has dropped since last summer, mostly due to his lack of noticeable improvement, but his explosiveness and length are still tantalizing to the teams drafting late in the first.
25. Jontay Porter | Fr., Mizzou | PF/C
While big brother Michael might get all the attention, Jontay staying healthy this year for Missouri allowed him to raise his stock as an NBA prospect. He can stretch the floor shooting from three; however, he can also do the intangibles as a big man well: screen and roll, rebound, and pass. Likely being the youngest prospect in this year’s draft is both a strength and a weakness. His body still needs to be NBA ready, but there’s definitely room and time for improvement. That being said, his youth also means the team selecting him as drafting him more on potential than most other prospects. Porter’s skillset is there. But what height is his ceiling?
26. Jacob Evans | Jr., Cincinnati | PF/SF
Jacob Evans is an NBA role player through and through. In fact, if you watched him at Cincinnati your opinion of him could swing wildly from game to game depending on how much he tried to do that night. If he tried to be “the guy” on offense, he barely looked like an NBA player, often making moves that appeared like he decided a move and then did it without regard to how the defense responded to the initial break. But then, if he just took the game as the looks came to him, he was deadly from three, as well as a highly effective defender who fully understood how to make use of his excellent length.
27. Grayson Allen | Sr., Duke | SG/PG
Easily the most controversial player in college basketball, it’s hard to believe Allen is finally entering the NBA. Understatement of the year, but his career at Duke has seen its fair share of ups and downs on and off the floor. On the floor, though, he adds a little bit of everything. He’s proven to be a good ball handler, playing point guard from time to time, and can score spotting up and off the dribble. He’s not overly athletic but makes up for it on the defensive end by closing out quickly. He should become a decent role player in the NBA, especially having proven that he can take a step back as his role was reduced being on a team full of top prospects, year-in and year-out.
28. Rodions Kurucs | FC Barcelona | SF/SG
Kurucs is a skilled wing who has the ability to score at all three levels and possesses good athleticism even by NBA standards. His three-point efficiency hasn’t been very good overseas, but his form from deep gives hope that it may improve with practice and added strength. Adding that strength will be key for Kurucs, because even though he is a talented offensive player, he simply won’t be able to deal with the physicality of the NBA if he doesn’t get stronger. His lateral quickness is lacking as well, so he could be in for a rough time on the defensive end if he can’t find other ways to compensate.
29. Shake Milton | Jr., SMU | SG/PG
He’s 6’6 and has some point guard ability, but that’s really all there is to say about Shake Milton. His jumper is true, and his size will certainly garner him attention, but he often looks confused when he’s playing off the ball, both on offense and defense. Still, shotmakers are always in high demand — it’s why Joe Johnson and Jamal Crawford keep getting contracts. That ability should keep him on NBA benches, at least to start his career.
30. Bruce Brown | So., Miami | SG/PG
Brown had a sour ending to his sophomore season for the Hurricanes, as his season ended early due to a foot injury. Before that though, he underwhelmed in his second year. His numbers dipped from his freshman year, most notably from three-point range as he went from 34.7 percent in 2016-17 to just 26.7 percent this past season. His measurables combined with being focused on the defensive end make him a good prospect to the NBA, as he won’t demand touches at the next level and can instead focus on distributing and making plays defensively. He could be a very effective complement as a combo guard coming off the bench in the NBA. The time leading up to the draft will be instrumental in Brown proving he can progress like he was expected to.
31. Devonte Graham | Sr., Kansas | PG
With the way Frank Mason played last season, many thought Graham would be a let-down. Instead, he’s showcased the ability to be just as valuable as Mason, though perhaps more versatile while sacrificing some shot creation ability. Graham is a good conductor of the offense, as he showed during this year’s run atop the KU pyramid. He has decent passing lane awareness and can stretch defenses with his spot-up shooting. Overall, he’s likely to be more playable in more situations than Mason.
32. Chimezie Metu | Jr., USC | PF/C
Picking Chimezie Metu is a bet on the current direction of bigs in the NBA. Having seen the Atlanta Hawks have success with John Collins this year, Metu may see similar attention, because they have somewhat similar attributes. They have similar frames, lots of athleticism, and both were misused in their collegiate schemes as they were asked to post up more often than they would ever be asked to were they not the best player on their respective teams. Further, due to questionable length, their ability to play defense and protect the rim at the next level was questioned. In Collins’ case, his excellent foot speed overrode those problems. The hope is that the same will be true for Metu.
33. Melvin Frazier | Jr., Tulane | SG/SF
Frazier had an incredibly efficient junior season at Tulane, scoring 16 points per game on only 10 shots a night while posting an effective field goal percentage and true shooting percentage north of the 60 percent mark. The question for Frazier is what does he do to augment his scoring ability. He collects steals, but isn’t necessarily a lockdown defender, and he averages 2.6 turnovers to only 2.9 assists per game. There is also some question about whether his junior season was more of a mirage than anything. Both his FG% and 3PT% jumped by around 12 percent from his sophomore season while his free throw mark remained below average. Does he have enough complementary skills to catch on at the next level?
34. Aaron Holiday | Sr., UCLA | PG
The younger brother of Jrue and Justin, Aaron adheres much more to the former than the latter as a scoring PG who knows how to keep his teammates flowing. Aaron doesn’t have Jrue’s size, but he’s a waterbug defender who can tangle with any perimeter player when he needs to. Holiday led the PAC-12 in scoring this year — yeah, the same PAC-12 with DeAndre Ayton — and his skills on both sides of the ball at least get his foot in the door. He could end up passing one of the three top point guards in this class if he finds the right fit.
35. Jarred Vanderbilt | Fr., Kentucky | SF/PF
The fact that Vanderbilt, despite only playing 238 minutes all season, is still a potential first-round pick, is really a testament to just how valuable his skillset is in the modern NBA. Guys his height who can handle the ball just create such large mismatches for the modern NBA defense, and his ability to rebound and defend alongside that make him a potential star, even if he is in the Ben Simmons school of outright refusing to shoot from distance. Kentucky played some of their best basketball in the short stretch that he was healthy, despite having major spacing issues all season, and his absence for the tournament was a major part of the loss to Kansas State. He should be expected to make any NBA team that does pick him up significantly better off as well.
36. De’Andre Hunter | Fr., Virginia | SF
Lost amid the fervor of people selecting Virginia to win the national title was the news that star freshman DeAndre Hunter, the Cavaliers’ X-factor/Swiss Army knife forward, had broken his wrist. Before the injury, Hunter had done more than his fair share to make sure UVA stuck atop the conference and national rankings as a multipositional defender (ever the buzzword in 2018) with a solid foundation as a shooter and playmaker. Yes, Hunter had one good season as a sixth man on a sensational team, but don’t be fooled: he’s the real deal.
37. Justin Jackson | So., Maryland | SF
He’s 6’7 and has a 7’3 wingspan. Normally, that alone is enough to get you picked in the first round, especially if you’re only 20 years old. Jackson, however, is coming off a shoulder injury that may or may not be connected to some out-of-character shooting woes early in the season. That length of his is genuinely an incredible asset, and it’ll let him get his off over pretty much any defender. We just don’t really know if he should be shooting that shot yet.
38. Gary Trent Jr. | Fr., Duke | SG/SF
Gary Trent had practice playing the role he’d likely fill for an NBA team at Duke. He played a secondary role with other top freshman getting the most touches, serving as a wing player who got out on fast breaks, was there to space the offense and catch a spot-up three-pointer. He has a lot of qualities that would make him a good pro, but could likely benefit from being in college longer to develop into a more rounded prospect as he gets bigger. Trent needs to increase in size so he can improve around the hoop and on-ball defending at the next level. With the recruits the Blue Devils have coming in, it’s likely he won’t stay in school, but lucky for him, he has the frame to be effective in the NBA.
39. Isaac Bonga| Fraport Frankfurt| SF/PF
Isaac Bonga is a 6’10” power forward out of Germany, who has strong point forward potential as both an excellent ball handler and passer. His stats in the Euroleague are fairly standard for a young prospect in a league that tends to prioritize veteran play, but they become outright impressive when you remember that he is the youngest player in this draft, not turning 19 until well into what will likely be his rookie year. His jump shot is a work in progress, but the excellent FT numbers indicate some hope for him to hit catch and shoot opportunities in the future. Bonga is the kind of player that in five years we may be questioning how so many scouts missed him, but we may just as well never even see him in a real minute.
40. Jalen Hudson | Jr., Florida | SG
Hudson is another late bloomer who teams will have to figure out what to attribute his success to. Was it because of increased opportunity, did he happen to have a single good year, and will his improvement end here? He took over 100 more three-pointers than he did last season and upped his percentage from 34 percent to 40 percent, which is a good sign, but his free throw percentage actually decreased slightly, and he remains in the mid-60’s. If his shooting is an aberration, he doesn’t have many other skills to fall back on. He isn’t tuned in on defense, and he certainly won’t be tasked with creating offense in the NBA.
41. Trevon Duval | Fr., Duke | PG
Duval, like fellow Blue Devil Gary Trent, was likely limited by an embarrassment of talent riches at Duke. The drive-and-dish game he was known for as a top recruit was hindered in college. However, the flashes of his talent, facilitation, and defensive prowess were shown by the freshman guard. He’s very quick with the ball, but can be wild at times with it. Chief among Duval’s concerns is his shooting. His sub-30 percent shooting from three-point range allowed for defenses to not have to respect it. He will most definitely have to improve his shooting if he hopes to see minutes on NBA floors. Duval could benefit from another season at Duke. There’s a lot he can prove on the court with more experience in college. It’s just uncertain whether his potential would allow him to see minutes in the NBA.
42. Anfernee Simons | IMG Academy | PG
In the wake of Thon Maker and Adam Silver’s open discussion of re-admitting high schoolers to the draft, Anfernee Simons will hope to capitalize on his relative youth and mystery as a scorer without a weak shot. His floater and ability to pull up at this stage in his career are relatively advanced given his competition, and combined with his highlight athleticism, he’s led some people astray. Simons still has a long way to go. He’s dreadfully slim, struggles to drive deep into the paint, and he’s nowhere near an NBA talent when contact is involved. Some growing pains should be expected.
43. Elie Okobo | Élan Béarnais Pau-Orthez | PG
Okobo is an intriguing draft-and-stash prospect who’s really limited by the lack of scouting we have on his game. He’s a creative ball handler who loves pulling up on a dime, but we’ve only seen him do it against sub-par competition. He’s absolutely worth a stash pick in the second, but we’d need information that’s locked away in NBA front offices to mock him much higher.
44. Kenrich Williams | Sr., TCU | SG/SF
Williams is the ultimate utility player. He doesn’t do any one thing great, but a lot of facets of his game are good. The forward can be used in small-ball lineups or a traditional set. He can defend, rebound, pass, and space the floor shooting well. Williams is a two-way player that could play either forward spot and become a quality role player at the NBA level. He does have a history of knee injuries and is a dreaded “old” senior from college entering the association. If he finds the right streak of teams, he could be a serviceable role player for years to come, thanks to his versatility.
45. Kostja Mushidi | Mega Bemax | SG
Mushidi’s potential as a 3-and-D player had him rocketing up boards before he inexplicably pulled out last year. This year, his defensive potential is still certainly there — he still has a long wingspan, an extremely strong base, and good defensive instincts as demonstrated at a high level of competition in the Euroleague — but the questions about his three-point shot got a lot louder as he only managed 28.6 percent from three. Still, at a minimum, some demonstrated ball handling skills mean he should be able to do his best Marcus Smart impression at the next level even if the jump shot doesn’t come back, so he will be a solid pick up.
46. De’Anthony Melton | So., USC | PG
Unfortunately, Melton didn’t play a game this past season due to an FBI probe into some former USC assistant coaches, but we know from his freshman year that the big guard is a tenacious, high-IQ defender and a heady point guard. He can handle the ball, dish solid passes, and control the game. His shooting will have to be evaluated in the combine, as there are some questions in that department.
47. Killian Tillie | So., Gonzaga | PF/C
Killian Tillie, though discussed as everything from a small forward to a center, is one of the hardest guys to project at the next level simply because it isn’t clear who he can actually guard. He is probably too slow footed to guard most power forwards, and definitely most small forwards, and he is on the smaller side for the center. But his offensive gifts are absolutely undeniable. He is an excellent passer for a big man, has good ability to put the ball on the floor, and has a solid shooting range, putting up 47.9 percent from the college 3 this year. He and his teammate Rui Hachimura both spent way more time than you would like with their backs to the basket, but when Tillie was put into the situations that NBA coaches will actually ask him to handle, he was excellent.
48. Tony Carr | So., Penn State | PG/SG
Penn State’s point guard improved dramatically from his freshman year to this past sophomore campaign. A lot of that improvement was thanks to his shooting beyond the arc. He knows how to maneuver defenses to get to spots he’s effective. Carr is definitely a streaky shooter, he can get hot and stay hot; however, his tendency to shoot first makes him force the issue at times. Carr needs to improve around the rim, as finishing strong inside the paint was not his forte. His defensive athleticism needs some work and may hold him back at the pro level. He’s oftentimes not fast enough to guard the point guard position and not big enough to guard the shooting guard. Although he’s shoot-first, that tendency allows for some easy playmaking looks as a facilitator for Carr.
49. Bonzie Colson | Sr., Notre Dame | SF/PF
If there were ever a time when scouts truly got a do-over on a past error, Bonzie Colson might be the closest one they get on Draymond Green for a while. A four year senior with an ambiguous defensive position between the small forward and power forward due to being too slow for the small forward and too small for the power forward, who has a bunch of offensive success leading his team but also needs to be on the ball and isn’t quite good enough to justify that at the next level. And that isn’t to say that Colson will see the same success as Draymond. If anything, I expect that he will demonstrate just how unlikely it was for a guy like Draymond to actually find the right situation he needed, or just how easily something small, like a broken bone in his foot, could have derailed him. But in the event that he pans out, Colson certainly has a ceiling case that is hard to equal at this stage of the draft.
50. Trevon Bluiett | Sr., Xavier | SG
Bluiett put up some pretty solid numbers for Xavier this year, stabilizing his jumper and giving them a consistent scoring threat from the perimeter. Still, his age and lack of defensive impact limit how excited teams will be to finally see him on their draft sheets. Plus, his jumper still looks just a little… off.
51. Kevin Hervey | Sr., UT-Arlington | SF/PF
Kevin Hervey, the beneficiary of a growth spurt that took him from a very good wing in a small conference to a potential stretch four at the NBA level, is certainly an unfinished product. He has an excellent off the dribble game, somewhat reminiscent of Kyle Kuzma in that it doesn’t require him to explode because he can finish with finesse well. He is also an excellent rebounder, though that may need some time to scale to competition, and he moves well on defense such that he will be able to use his excellent physical tools effectively. But, ultimately, what will determine if Hervey translates to the next level is his three-point shot, which he took at an extremely high rate, taking 227 attempts this year despite missing a couple of games, but only making 34 percent. His form is solid and his FTs fall at a rate that backs the shooting potential up, but there is some doubt present.
52. Rawle Alkins | So., Arizona | SG/SF
Alkins has a lot of positive signs: the length and strength, athletic ability, quick feet on defense, promising shooting mechanics. He could be a great 3-and-D player at the next level. Alternatively, his numbers as a shooter and finisher are uninspiring, his off-ball defense is pitiful in comparison, and his height limits his positional flexibility. He could end up making a team very happy that they kept their second-round pick, but equally likely is that he never escapes the G-League. At the very least, he’s more likely to fit with a team than former teammate Allonzo Trier.
53. Jevon Carter | Sr., West Virginia | PG
Jevon Carter is a player asking to be drafted on his halfcourt defensive ability based on his performance with a team that does everything it can to avoid defending in the halfcourt. As a result, a lot of what makes him an NBA prospect does not have all that solid of a founding at the degree some people have claimed. But if, instead, you assume that he will be merely a good defender rather than the elite defender some people are pushing a first-round selection on the basis of, then you are still left with a well rounded point guard who can hit the three, make the right pass, drive and kick, and even crash the boards and start the break, and that is a solid find for any roster.
54. Shamorie Ponds | So., St. John’s | PG
There was only so much he could do to help the near-unwatchable St. Johns Red Storm in the standings, but Ponds did a great deal to help his draft stock. Games like he had against Xavier show the breadth of his ability as an offensive orchestrator — inexplicable shotmaking, go-to moves, good corner speed, playmaking reliability — and his quick hands on defense. Sure, St. John’s was still pitiful and Ponds should wear some of that, but the lack of talent surrounding him also needs to be taken into consideration.
55. Rui Hachimura | So., Gonzaga | SF/PF
Hachimura is a classic high ceiling/low floor guy. He possesses the size and athleticism to hold his own at either forward spot, and in limited minutes, nothing about his game really looked bad or broken. He’s a project, no doubt, but he doesn’t have any bad habits to break. He’s a blank slate with star potential. Sometimes, those guys turn into Giannis Antetokounmpo. Sometimes, they end up more like Anthony Randolph.
56. Brandon McCoy | Fr., UNLV | C
Fifteen years ago, McCoy might have been a lottery pick. He is tall, blocks shots well, and can just pour in points in the paint. In the modern NBA, however, Jahlil Okafor is struggling to find minutes on the bench of a tanking team, and McCoy very much fits in his mold. His feet are slow, he does not pass the ball well, he turns the ball over a lot, and it will absolutely take an excellent coach to make him effective. But even with that, post up bigs, especially ones that are legitimately huge, do still have a place in the NBA, as seen in Joel Embiid and LaMarcus Aldridge seeing a high rate of success and, even more applicably, in guys like Willy Hernangomez finding a rebirth in Charlotte, so his skillset can succeed, and if it does work, it can work very well.
57. Kendall Stephens | Sr., Nevada | SG/SF
Very few NBA role players actually get to be role players in college. The massive number of teams makes it to where a player good enough to make the NBA is extremely likely to also be the best player on his team. Stephens transferred from Purdue to Nevada and luckily got that chance, making the most of it, shooting 43.2 percent from three as well as regularly checking the opposing team’s best defensive player while the Martin twins acted as the top options in the offense. He knows very clearly what he is, rarely attacking off the dribble (he took more threes this year alone than twos in his entire career) but what he is is a very valuable thing at the next level. He is on the older side as a fifth-year senior, but his skillset is a highly valued one that he has a head start on the other similar prospects in learning how to do.
58. Keenan Evans | Sr., Texas Tech | PG
Evans is a shoot-first point guard who has struggled with his shot. Despite that, he’s an efficient scorer, but he absolutely needs that triple to fall more often at the next level. Advanced stats love his offensive game, but if he can’t shoot, then he won’t succeed at the next level. He also struggles to rack up assists, although that might just be a product of his team’s offensive system. If he works on improving in those two areas, he has all the tools necessary to be the steal of this draft.
59. Moritz Wagner | Jr., Michigan | PF
Wagner is a difficult prospect to properly project for. When he’s on and the shots are falling, he looks like a proper second-round selection. When he’s out of the offense, he looks frustratingly low-IQ. Wagner is never going to be a reputable post defender or a trustworthy option in pick-and-roll switches, but he has boundless energy, tantalizing offensive potential, and contagious emotion. The biggest things he can realistically improve at are rebounding and shot selection. Marking his man on the glass and knowing when to pull the trigger will allow him to thrive as a bench big as he learns the NBA game.
60. Jalen Brunson | Sr., Villanova | PG
What Brunson lacks in size and athleticism, he makes up for in creativity while running an offense. The son of a former NBA guard and now NBA assistant coach, Brunson knows how to run an offense, and knows what spots to choose and how to beat defenders despite losing out in physical measurements. Basketball smarts is definitely a quality you’ll hear when scouting the Wildcats’ point guard. Not only is he even-keel on the court, he’s a good three-point shooter, averaging 42 percent this past season, which will most certainly appeal to an NBA roster. He’ll need to improve defensively to make up for the size, but he’s capable of figuring it out thanks to his upbringing and experience.