DURHAM, NC - OCTOBER 22: High school basketball player Zion Williamson, center, (Spartanburg Day School - Spartanburg, SC) attends Countdown To Craziness at Cameron Indoor Stadium on October 22, 2016 in Durham, North Carolina. (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images)

Now that the majority of free agents have been signed, the draft is completed, and Kawhi Leonard has been traded, the 2018 NBA off-season is just about over. While some teams are now shifting their focus to competing in the upcoming season, some teams will inevitably tank this year to improve their roster long-term and are already evaluating the 2019 NBA draft class.

Top Prospects of The 2019 NBA Draft 

R.J. Barrett

Barrett is projected by many to be drafted number one overall in the 2019 NBA Draft. He is a 6-foot-7 wing with elite athleticism and great all-around game. He is a good passer for his position, especially in transition. Barrett excels at aggressively attacking the basket and getting in the paint. He is great at shifting speed or direction to shake defenders and his athleticism enables him to be an explosive finisher at the rim.

Barrett’s three-point shooting is still improving and needs to become more consistent. He shot 41.2% from beyond the arch in the 2015 U-16 Americas Championship, however, he shot only 23.8% from three-point range in the U-19 World Cup last year. When looking at his poor three-point accuracy and his poor free throw shooting, a concern is raised by NBA scouts. Barrett has solid footwork defensively and his size and athleticism leave him with enormous defensive potential.

He has been very impressive so far in the preseason with Duke University. Barrett scored 35 points against the University of Toronto and followed that with 23 points and 11 assists against McGill. Teams view Barrett as an elite slasher, play-maker, and shot creator. If Barrett’s shooting improves at Duke, he should be locked in as the first overall pick next June.

Cameron Reddish

Reddish is one of Barrett’s teammate at Duke this season. Reddish could also be in the conversation for the number one pick in the 2019 NBA draft as well. He is a 6’8″ small forward that has established himself as a scorer with a lot upside. Reddish is comfortable making shots off the dribble, in the paint, and from mid-range. He gets to the free throw line very frequently and has shown flashes of being able to take over games. Reddish is a great play-maker for his position and has thrived as a facilitator. He possesses great explosiveness and athleticism.

Reddish is going to have any defense’s attention when the ball is in his hands. On the downside, he needs to become more efficient shooting from long range Like Barrett, Reddish has been an inconsistent three-point shooter, as well. If his jump shot continues to improve and he refines his shot selection, Reddish could definitely develop into an elite NBA player.

Nassir Little

Little is a versatile forward that will play for North Carolina this upcoming college season. Like Reddish and Barrett, Little is a wing with great size, standing at 6’7″ with a 7’1″ wingspan. He weighs 215 pounds and has a lot of strength, which allow him to be effective guarding both small forwards and power forwards. Little gained a reputation as a high energy player through his devotion to the game in high school. Between his physical tools and his high energy, it would be a surprise if he doesn’t develop into a lock-down defender in the NBA. Little’s jump shot was not great, but he has steadily improved his shot. The mechanics of his shot look great and gives teams reason to believe that he could develop into a good three-point shooter with practice.

In March, Little scored 28 points in the McDonald’s All American Game. He then followed that performance by scoring 24 points at the Jordan Brand Classic in April, which significantly raised his draft stock. Little can develop into the player every modern NBA team is looking for. He should be an excellent defender and has shown flashes as a shooter and a scorer. Little could be a great fit for many teams in the 2019 NBA Draft.

Zion Williamson

Williamson is probably the most talked about prospect in this draft class because he is such a unique prospect. Williamson is 6’7″ and weighs 285 pounds, which is unheard of for a player of his height. Despite his weight, Williamson has the most explosive dunking ability in this draft class, which pairs well with his outstanding athleticism. Even though he is smaller than the average big man, he is excellent at rebounding the ball. Williamson is good at handling the basketball and is a gifted passer as well, which greatly adds to his versatility. His combination of strength and athleticism makes him nearly unstoppable around the rim and in transition. Williamson will need to work on his jump shot, and will also need to be more confident shooting three-pointers.

The biggest question for Williamson’s draft stock is his position. His strong rebounding ability and his ability to finish around the rim would place him as a power forward or center, but he is only 6’7″. He needs to improve his jump shot if he is going to be a successful small forward in the NBA. Hopefully, his season with Duke will help answer some of his positional questions. Williamson will certainly be one of the most interesting players of the 2019 NBA Draft class.


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