The NBA regular season is still weeks away, but it is never too early to begin evaluating the next crop of incoming prospects. Unlike the first ten players in the first installment of RidiculousUpside.com’s 2019 NBA Draft Big Board, this group features a crop of up-and-coming big men.
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. 11 | Daniel Gafford | C | Arkansas
Class: So. | HT: 6’11” | WT: 234
Gafford is a classic rim-running big man on the offensive end. He catches the ball in traffic, and finishes attempts with powerful dunks. If the big fella hopes to improve his draft stock, he will have to improve on his shooting touch. Gafford shot 52.8 percent from the free throw line as a freshmen—a mark that must improve in his sophomore campaign. Defensively, Gafford can anchor a defense. His per 40 blocks average finished at an eye-popping 3.8 per game last year.
No. 12 | De’Andre Hunter | F | Virginia
Class: So. | HT: 6’7” | WT: 222
Hunter would have been selected in the first round of the 2018 NBA Draft if he had chosen to see the process to its the conclusion. Instead, the versatile wing defender decided to return to Virginia for another year. Hunter’s ability to guard multiple positions will drive his draft stock, but he can cement his spot as a lottery pick with improvements on the offensive end. The 20-year-old wing left room for growth by shooting just below 40 percent from beyond the arc as a freshmen.
No. 13 | Darius Garland | PG | Vanderbilt
Class: Fr. | HT: 6’2” | WT: 175
Garland is primed to be the first true point guard selected in the 2019 NBA Draft. The 175-pound guard must fill out his frame before becoming a professional, but the other aspects of his game paint a pretty picture for his future. Garland can score at all three levels, hold his own on defense, and find open teammates. He did an excellent job showcasing all his skills at the Nike Hoop Summit earlier this year.
No. 14 | Rui Hachimura | F | Gonzaga
Class: Jr. | HT: 6’8” | WT: 225
Hachimura has all the physical tools to be a lottery pick, but he must prove he is more than just an athlete in his third season in Spokane. He raised his free throw percentage to 79.5 percent as a sophomore, but his three-point percentage fell to 19.2. Hachimura has a chance to make some serious noise on a Gonzaga squad that is loaded with talent.
No. 15 | Luka Samanic | PF | Croatia
Class: INTL. | HT: 6’10” | WT: 210
Samanic put together a string of impressive performances for Croatia in FIBA competitions over the last few years. He is currently billed as an offense-first power forward, but he will need to continue to shine against the the competition in the Adriatic League to bolster his draft status. Samanic has a diverse set of offensive skills that is headlined by a solid first step for a big man. Listed at just 210 pounds, he will have to add weight before facing NBA post players.
No. 16 | Charles Bassey | PF/C | Western Kentucky
Class: Fr. | HT: 6’10” | WT: 220
Bassey doesn’t turn 18 years old until October, which makes him one of the most intriguing prospects on this list. The big fella has room to grow despite already having an impressive frame. Bassey can alter shots in the paint on defense, and he displayed a soft shooting touch for a big man during his practices leading up to the 2018 Nike Hoop Summit.
No. 17 | Bol Bol | C | Oregon
Class: Fr. | HT: 7’2” | WT: 220
Questions about Bol’s slender frame will follow him throughout the draft process, but there is still plenty to like about the towering 18 year old. Bol is primed to set the pace for blocks per game across the country. By staying disciplined and upright, Bol will alter a ton of shots while avoiding foul trouble. Offensively, he leaves a lot to be desired. Oregon’s coaching staff will be tasked with expanding Bol’s repertoire beyond put-back buckets.
No. 18 | Louis King | F | Oregon
Class: Fr. | HT: 6’7” | WT: 204
King will join Bol in the Ducks’ frontcourt for the upcoming season. Unlike his teammate, King possesses an impressive scoring arsenal. Unfortunately for him, he was unable to fully showcase his skillset earlier this year due to a knee injury. Once healthy, the versatile freshmen should flourish in coach Dana Altman’s offense. King can move up the list by squashing the doubts surrounding his decision making.
No. 19 | Bruno Fernando | C | Maryland
Class: So. | HT: 6’10” | WT: 245
Fernando’s size and upside on defense make him a can’t miss prospect this year. As a freshmen defender, Fernando looked comfortable in multiple situations. He projects as big man that can defend in space, and alter shots in the paint. Fernando has yet to develop any traditional post moves on the offensive end, which is a red flag. If he can improve his shooting, he will draw the attention of teams selecting in the lottery next year.
No. 20 | P.J. Washington | PF/C | Kentucky
Class: So. | HT: 6’7” | WT: 236
Don’t let Washington’s height fool you, as he is perfectly capable of holding his own against larger post players. The 20-year-old big man must expand his game beyond the paint, but there is still plenty to like if he doesn’t. Due to his motor and positioning, Washington will continue to give opponents trouble in the paint. The modern NBA has carved out a niche for smaller centers, and Washington is poised to fill that role.
Stay tuned for the next set of prospects. Until then, make sure you check out the Part 1 of the RidiculousUpside.com 2019 NBA Draft Big Board.
—Steve / @SteveDHoops / BEdgeSteve@gmail.com