The NBA offseason is in full swing, but it is never too early to begin evaluating the next crop of incoming prospects. From Duke’s talented group of freshmen, to a pair of French standouts, Ridiculous Upside contributor Steve Dewald delivers his first installment of RidiculousUpside.com’s 2019 NBA Draft Big Board.
This list is based off overall value, and isn’t to be interpreted as a mock draft. This list will fluctuate throughout the season. Players will rise and fall based on their performances across all competitions leading into next year’s draft.
With all that in mind, let’s get to the list.
No. 1 | R.J. Barrett | SF | Duke
Class: Fr. | HT: 6’7” | WT: 200
Barrett’s incredible floor should draw comparisons to 2018 NBA Draft darling Luka Doncic. There isn’t an obvious hole in the Canadian native’s game, and he shouldn’t have a problem carving out a lengthy career in the NBA. He can create off the dribble with both hands, finish through contact, and connect on jumpers from beyond the arc. Defensively, Barrett’s length and athleticism should be ready for the rigors of the professional game from the moment he hits the floor.
No. 2 | Nassir Little | SF | North Carolina
Class: Fr. | HT: 6’7” | WT: 215
Little announced his arrival with impressive showings in the McDonald’s All-American Game and Jordan Brand Classic. Armed with an explosive first step, the 18-year-old forward will produce a plethora of highlight-worthy moments for the Tarheels this season. Little’s impressive wingspan oozes with defensive upside, and he’s shown the makings of an adequate outside shooting touch. At his current pace, Little could easily close the gap on Barrett.
No. 3 | Zion Williamson | PF | Duke
Class: Fr. | HT: 6’7” | WT: 285
At a thundering 285 pounds, Williamson will enter the NBA as one of the most physically imposing players in the NBA. He is more than just size, though, as he has the athleticism worthy of his place on this list. Williamson can jump out of the gym, and he possesses the quickness to guard in space. Questions regarding his shooting touch are warranted, but his potential to play either post position in the modern game are undeniable.
No. 4 | Cam Reddish | SG | Duke
Class: Fr. | HT: 6’8” | WT: 203
Reddish has all the tools to be the No. 1 player in the 2019 class, but he has to improve his decision making. Offensively, the 18-year-old wing can create for himself at all three levels. Adding to his smooth scoring touch is his ideal size. At 6-foot-8, Reddish is set to thrive as a shooting guard and small forward. He can drastically improve his stock by limiting turnovers, playing within himself, and facilitating in Duke’s loaded lineup. If he can do those things, his impressive offensive profile should put him in the running to become the No. 1 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.
No. 5 | Romeo Langford | SG | Indiana
Class: Fr. | HT: 6’6” | WT: 195
Langford might have the quickest release of all the players mentioned on the list so far. Combined with his 6-foot-6 frame, the Indiana native won’t have a problem getting favorable looks on offense. Along with being able to create for himself, Langford is a solid ball handler inside the pick and roll. By expertly changing speeds on his drives to the basket, the 18-year-old guard will consistently create contact. Expect Langford to get to the free throw line often, and he will frustrate more than a handful of defenders in the process.
No. 6 | Jaylen Hoard | F | Wake Forest
Class: Fr. | HT: 6’8” | WT: 210
Hoard is one of a select few in this class that could have been counted on for meaningful production in the NBA this year. The 19-year-old Frenchman has excellent instincts on both ends of the floor. He can out-rebound larger opponents, and is nimble enough to guard multiple positions. Offensively, Hoard can stretch the floor and take smaller defenders into the post when necessary. He might not be the flashiest prospect, but it is tough to find an unlikable part of his game.
No. 7 | Sekou Doumbouya | F | Limoges Cercle Saint-Pierre (France)
Class: INTL. | HT: 6’9” | WT: 210
Much like Hoard, Doumbouya is one of the most polished prospects in the 2019 class. The 17-year-old forward’s biggest strengths are on the offensive end of the court. Doumbouya positions himself excellently without the ball, which opens up the floor for his teammates. Once he receives the ball, he is a threat to score at all three levels. With the early framework of a traditional post game in his repertoire, Doumbouya projects to be a multi-faceted threat on offense.
No. 8 | Quentin Grimes | SG | Kansas
Class: Fr. | HT: 6’5” | WT: 200
Grimes is a natural offensive player. The Texas native has a smooth jump shot that complements his superb court vision. Of all the perimeter players mentioned so far, Grimes has the makings to be the best facilitator of the bunch. Inside Bill Self’s guard-friendly system, the 18-year-old combo guard has an excellent opportunity to bolster his stock prior to draft night.
No. 9 | Keldon Johnson | SF | Kentucky
Class: Fr. | HT: 6’6” | WT: 205
Johnson put together a strong week in the Bahamas with his new Kentucky running mates. He is an absolute force in transition, and his intensity appears to be infectious. The questions surrounding his shooting touch will be muted if he continues to impact the game with his hustle. Along with his effort, Johnson’s leaping ability is truly impressive. Even with a tiny amount of separation, he is capable of rattling the rim with a massive dunk.
No. 10 | Jontay Porter | PF/C | Missouri
Class: So. | HT: 7’0” | WT: 240
Porter flirted with entering the draft before deciding to return to Missouri for a second season. Now outside of his brother’s shadow, the 18-year-old big man will be the best prospect on campus. Porter’s potential is rooted in his polished offensive game. He has a soft touch on his shots, and routinely controls passes in traffic. If he can develop his defensive arsenal, Porter will jump up the rankings.
Stay tuned for the next set of prospects. Until then, let us know how you feel about the rankings in the comments below.
—Steve / @SteveDHoops / BEdgeSteve@gmail.com