Preseason 2019 NBA Draft Big Board: Top 30 for now

Zion Williamson, 2019 NBA Draft, NBA
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

With NCAA Men’s College Basketball season approaching, it’s time to begin prepping for the 2019 draft way earlier than necessary. We spend hours watching film and putting together our boards only for them to become obsolete the minute the season starts. Still, we make our preseason evaluations of the prospects at hand.

This class isn’t as good as the classes of the past two seasons. It is weak at the top and lacks great depth. There isn’t as much high-level talent here but there are exciting players and important names to know. My board is split into a tier system, with players rankings within the tiers being fluid. As we go down the board, there becomes less separation between prospects and tiers become larger. In tier 4, there is a bit of a break between the top nine and bottom five but not enough to make a new tier. The tiers look like this:

Tier 1: High All-Star potential. Future stars.

Tier 2: Good All-Star potential. Fringe starters and high-level players.

Tier 3: A mix of potential high-level role players and intriguing guys with high upside.

Tier 4: Players with interesting/useful skills but considerably more risk or lower ceiling players. Good starters. Above average chance to become a solid starter.

As the season starts and players begin to separate themselves, I will be splitting up tier 1 into smaller, 1-2 player tiers. But for now, the top four guys all are close. My number one prospect, though, is well above the rest of tier one but not high enough to warrant a new tier. With all of the technicalities laid down, let’s get into the board. If you have any questions regarding “why is X player above X player,” “why are you so low or high on X player,” or “why is X player in X tier,” feel free to ask me on Twitter.

Just Missed the Cut: Ty Jerome, Aric Holman, Luka Samanic, Nazreon Reid, Rui Hachimura, Dylan Windler

Tier 4

30. Sagaba Konate, C, West Virginia (Jr.)

Sagaba Konate’s rim protection leads his case for being a first-round pick. When a player is as elite at something as Konate is at shot blocking, it is hard to ignore. His combination of physical stature, vertical explosiveness, and timing makes him an eraser. He’s recorded an absurd 15.7% career block percentage. Konate has some solid touch in the post and is a good rebounder but isn’t much else other than a play finisher on offense. Shot blocking usually does translate, and his defense alone could have Konate being a useful rotation player in the NBA.

29. Tre Jones, G, Duke (Fr.)

Jones is a very smart, physical basketball player with high-level IQ and instincts on both ends. He is a great initiator who reads the floor well and runs the pick-and-roll at a high level. He has a solid handle and is pretty crafty around the rim. The jump shot is a big question for Jones; if he can be consistent, his stock will shoot up. Jones isn’t a spectacular athlete and is a mostly below-the-rim player but has some burst and a decent first step. He shows good effort on the defensive end but his frame is a limiting factor. Jones’ IQ and feel, surrounded by elite talent at Duke, will have him creating open shots for his teammates often.

28. E.J. Montgomery, F, Kentucky (Fr.)

E.J. Montgomery displays a tantalizing combination of passing ability and shooting, making him a prospect that I will be closely watching. Montgomery has an innate ability to create shots for his teammates. The 6’10” forward is fluid and has a good handle. He has a solid left-handed jump shot and gets it off at a solid rate. His thin, 200-pound frame has made him struggle a bit to finish and get overpowered on the defensive end. On the defensive end, Montgomery has a questionable motor and doesn’t seek defensive plays as he should.

Montgomery has the raw ability to thrive at the college and eventually the NBA level but he might not get to show it much this season. Playing in a crowded Kentucky frontcourt consisting of P.J. Washington, Reid Travis, and Nick Richards, he might not find significant enough minutes. A stretch big with great vision, Montgomery projects as a productive playmaking four-man at the next level.

27. Dedric Lawson, F, Kansas (Jr.)

Lawson is an interesting case. The 6-foot-8 wing with a 7-foot-2 wingspan transferred from Memphis to Kansas. Lawson is just a good basketball player with a high feel for the game. His strength and motor run at a high level. Lawson hasn’t shot a high percentage from three-point range but has some ability to shoot pull-ups. His basketball IQ is high on both ends; Lawson is a great passer and a smart defender. He uses his length effectively in disrupting passing lanes and containing drivers. Lawson’s main problem is his athleticism. He is sluggish, slow laterally, and is not explosive. Because of that, he might have a hard time carving out a role in the NBA, but with his smarts and motor, he could become a role player at the next level.

26. Darius Garland, G, Vanderbilt (Fr.)

Darius Garland’s pull-up jumper is the facet that opens up the rest of his game. The 6’3″, 170-pound point guard with a 6-foot-5 wingspan struggles to finish over athleticism and length due to his lack of functional strength. Luckily for Garland, his shooting ability is excellent and he will rely on it heavily. He comfortably hits from beyond the NBA three and creates his own shot using his tight handle and quickness. He has the ability to blow by defenders but doesn’t pull up from mid-range as much as he should. Garland is a solid passer but he needs to make more advanced reads out of the pick-and-roll.

Garland is going to struggle on the defensive end in college and at the next level. His thin frame and lack of elite quickness lead to him being overpowered by stronger players and better athletes. His NBA team will need to hide him on the defensive end. Garland will need to prove that he has good vision and can be a capable decision-maker on both ends of the court. His IQ and feel are unspectacular. Shooting will have him finding a role on an NBA roster but his inability on defense and lack of feel will limit his upside.

25. Josh Reaves, G/F, Penn State (Sr.)

Josh Reaves is a defensive stalwart. He plays de facto free safety for Penn State and he does it exceptionally well. His instincts, spatial awareness, and overall off-ball defense might be the best in this class. Reaves posted an elite 4.2 steal percentage last season. He processes the game at a lightning speed and makes plays that I couldn’t even pick up on when watching back the film.

Reaves isn’t spectacular as an on-ball defender but I weigh his elite team defense higher anyways.

Reaves is a smart offensive player, using his IQ to make plays for himself and his teammates. He is a good cutter and a smart passer, finding openings in the defense. Reaves isn’t an elite athlete but he is solid in that department. He has enough vertical explosiveness to finish a bit at the rim but his touch isn’t anything to write home about. Reaves is a solid three-point shooter (37.7 percent, 3.1 3PA) but his shot mechanics could use some tweaking as he brings the ball across his face a bit too much. Reaves’ feel and instincts will give him a great chance to be a solid starter for a long time in the NBA.

24. Jordan Poole, G, Michigan (So.)

Poole put his name on the map in the NCAA tournament with his spectacular buzzer-beater to finish off Houston. Last season, Poole came off of the bench and averaged only 12.5 minutes per game but averaged 19.6 points per 40 minutes. Poole is so talented on the ball. He is an elite three-point shooter who can change the tide of a ball game with his deep range. He is confident as a pull-up shooter and has the handle to get into the lane. Poole isn’t long, strong, or explosive but is pretty crafty around the bucket. As a facilitator, he displays solid instincts and an ability to consistently find open teammates.

Poole isn’t a great defender but he is competitive on that end and should be a solid positional defender. Bolstering his defensive ability, Poole grew an inch from last season and now stands at 6-foot-5. Playing in a feature role this season in Michigan’s offense, Poole will have a chance to show the world how talented of a scorer that he is.

23. Kevin Porter Jr., F, USC (Fr.)

When it comes to mixtapes in this class, Kevin Porter’s might come second in this class only to Zion Williamson. Porter has an excellent, 6’6″, 220-pound frame and elite physical tools and athleticism. His footwork is solid and he is a quick leaper. Porter elevates quickly for tough finishes and routine highlight dunks. His handle is solid and he has good touch on his jump shot.

It is important to remember not to fall into the trap of overvaluing Porter just because of his physical tools. He still needs to improve his decision-making by quite a bit on both ends of the floor. His passes can be wild at times and he misses easy reads. It is hard to get a read on Porter’s true defensive ability as it is with so many high school stars. He makes spectacular defensive plays at times but his effort could use improving. Porter has all of the potential to be a top prospect in this class; watching the development of his IQ and feel will be key to his development.

22. P.J. Washington, F, Kentucky (So.)

Last season, Kentucky failed to optimize Washington’s talents. This is not a new phenomenon, though, as head coach John Calipari is notorious for not letting big men show their whole array of skills; think of Karl-Anthony Towns. However, Washington is a smart and athletic big who projects as a wing/big hybrid at the next level. His IQ on the defensive end is great; in the preseason he’s showed out, breaking up plays and commanding the back line. He shows great energy on the boards with a good motor on the offensive glass.

Washington is a great athlete with solid touch around the rim. He only shot 23.8 percent from three last season but he only took 0.6 attempts per game. His mechanics look good and his percentage should rise this year. Washington is a solid passer with good enough vision to make some plays out of the post. Washington has the talent to carve out a niche as a playmaking energy big at the next level.

21. Dean Wade, F, Kansas State (Sr.)

Wade, a 6-foot-10 forward, is a great all-around player who projects as a useful offensive wing at the NBA level. It all starts with the shot; Wade shot 44.0 percent from three on 2.8 attempts last year. His shot motion is compact, high, and fluid. Wade shoots well off movement and can create off of the dribble, scoring in the mid-post. He can really dribble for a guy his size and create for his teammates. Wade is a fluid athlete who moves well and can get to the rim at a solid rate.

Wade is a solid defender who does well against wings on the perimeter and can defend a bit inside. He isn’t explosive but has enough athleticism to contain better ball-handlers on defense. He can be inconsistent on defense; sometimes Wade is physical and has a high motor and sometimes he takes plays off and makes mental mistakes. His best position at the NBA level is likely a stretch four but if he can play the three, his value would increase. On the offensive end, Wade is as complete a prospect as you will find in this draft.

20. Killian Tillie, F, Gonzaga (Jr.)

Tillie profiles similarly to the player above him, Dean Wade. Tillie is a 6-foot-10 big with great offensive touch. He shoots the three at a high level and can create for himself off of the bounce. To compensate for his lack of vertical explosiveness at the rim, Tillie has developed an elite floater from 8-12 feet. His overall touch all over the floor is impressive. His passing touch and vision are great. Tillie has the freedom to push the ball in transition for Gonzaga and does it well, creating open shots for his teammates.

On defense, Tillie struggles to contain overly athletic guards and wings but his effort level allows him to recover with blocks and contests.

Tillie’s high IQ, feel, and effort allows him to be a serviceable defender despite his lack of explosive athleticism. He is, however, quite fluid and runs the floor well. Tillie projects as a high-level playmaking big man at the NBA level who can maybe play some small-ball five if his defense improved.

19. Charles Bassey, C, Western Kentucky (Fr.)

Bassey is an athletic, versatile center with an expanding offensive game. He is athletically gifted; he is an explosive athlete and finishes above the rim. His advanced handle and great first step allow him to beat bigs off of the dribble. Bassey is at his best scoring on the inside, he has good touch around the basket and the strength to finish strong on the block. On the defensive end, Bassey’s physical tools (6-foot-11 height, 7-foot-2 wingspan, and 9-foot-2 standing reach) and intensity indicate a great defensive player. He still has a lot of polishing to do as a weak-side defender. His instincts and IQ leave a bit to be desired on defense. If his jump shot can keep improving, Bassey could be a great two-way center in the NBA.

Tier 3

18. Sekou Doumbouya, F, CSP Limoges (Intl.)

Sekou Doymbouya is the most overrated prospect in this class. The most impressive thing about Doumbouya is his frame. Standing at 6-foot-9 with a 6-foot-11 wingspan, he is a fluid and explosive athlete who runs the court well. He has shown some ability to stay in front of his man on defense and has some solid instincts on the weak side. His jump shot is solid on spot-ups but isn’t really conducive to pull-ups, at least at a high rate.

Doumboyua’s offensive tool bag is limited. His handle is raw and he isn’t a great passer or decision-maker at this point. He’s showed some decent post work but isn’t consistent down there. For Sekou, it ultimately comes down to improving his skill and basketball IQ. He is also the youngest player in the 2019 NBA Draft. His tantalizing upside has enticed many but I don’t see enough functional basketball skill yet to warrant ranking him in the lottery.

17. Romeo Langford, G/F, Indiana (Fr.)

Romeo Langford is a smooth scorer with a sweet stroke. At 6-foot-6 with a 6-foot-11 wingspan, his size allows him to shoot over the defense. He is comfortable pulling up from deep range and hitting shots off of the bounce. His handle is unspectacular and he isn’t a great athlete but Romeo is a confident scorer with swagger. His calling card is bucket-getting and he will do it well in college.

He has good balance and footwork on drives but his lack of quickness and functional strength hurt his ability to finish. On defense, he can get lazy but that is the case for many top high school players. He has the size to be a solid positional defender but his lack of IQ and effort will likely make him a minus defender at the NBA level. A lot of Langford’s scores come off of size and not athleticism or creativity, which is worrying. Langford will be a great scorer at the college level but I question what else he can do at a high level and if his scoring will translate to the next level.

16. Jalen McDaniels, F/C, San Diego State (So.)

Jalen McDaniels is a fluid, coordinated athlete with a smooth game. Measuring at 6-foot-9.5 with a 7-foot-0.5 wingspan, his athletic talent is impressive. He can handle the ball in transition, make reads on the move, and shoot the ball. His near 80 percent free throw percentage is a good indicator of his shot. He didn’t shoot much but he flashed an ability to shoot the three last season.

McDaniels’ motor never stops running; he is always a threat on the offensive and defensive glass. He is a good shot blocker and has good defensive instincts for a player as young as he is, making timely rotations and understanding defensive principles. His thin, 195-pound frame will limit McDaniels’ defensive ability containing stronger bigs at the NBA level, though.

15. Coby White, G, North Carolina (Fr.)

The second high-profile North Carolina prospect, White is a pure scorer with high-level ability. His jump shot is fluid with perfect mechanics. White has deep pull-up range and the handle to get his shot off from anywhere. White’s quick first step and change of direction ability help him get to the rim and finish with his excellent footwork. White is an unselfish player with some ability to run the pick-and-roll and use his gravity to find open teammates. On defense, White deserves more credit. He is a physical defender with solid tools; his 6-foot-4 frame will have him being a serviceable position defender. White’s pure shot-making ability will have NBA teams looking to enlist his services next season.

14. Quentin Grimes, G, Kansas (Fr.)

I have Grimes graded quite a bit lower than the consensus. He has great size (6-foot-5) as a combo guard. He flashes a solid handle for a player his size. Grimes has good vision but often tries to make the exciting pass and misses wildly. His decision-making can definitely use work. Grimes has some burst to blow by players and get to the rim. Grimes’ shot is questionable; his two motion mechanics need refining. He has always been inefficient from the field and could struggle as a shot-maker against great competition. I need to see Grimes’ IQ improve at Kansas on both ends of the ball. His shot selection is questionable and I don’t love his chops as a shot-maker. His first step and handle need to improve to consistently score at the highest level.

13. Ja Morant, PG, Murray State (So.)

Coming from the small Murray State, Morant is a lesser-known prospect but one that should be talked about more. He is athletically gifted; an explosive athlete with elite quickness. At his competition level in the Ohio Valley Conference, he is head and shoulders above his peers athletically.

Morant has a great feel for the game, making him a very good passer. Morant is a solid three-point shooter but his set point is low and his release needs quickening. His smaller frame has him being occasionally over-matched on defense but he is competitive and has solid instincts. The best point guard in this class, Morant’s combination of athleticism, handle and feel make him a future lottery pick.

12. Isaiah Roby, F, Nebraska (Jr.)

I went into great detail on Roby in my previous piece (which you can read here) so I’ll keep this short. 6-foot-8 athletic forwards who do everything don’t grow on trees. His baseline ability to shoot, pass, create, rebound, and defend makes him a super valuable player for any NBA team. Roby is an elite-level shot blocker and has advanced IQ and skill, as well. Playing in a bigger role this season, he should see his stock increase as the season progresses.

Tier 2

11. Jarrett Culver, F, Texas Tech (So.)

Culver is a long, fluid athlete who uses his length to stifle offensive players and create for himself. He is tough and disruptive on the defensive end, using his ridiculous 7-foot-2 wingspan to bother opposing offensive players. His lateral explosiveness isn’t elite but he has enough to hang with most guards on the perimeter; Texas Tech called on Culver to lock down Trae Young in their matchups.

Culver is a solid shooter but has an awkward shot, bringing the ball across his face. He has underrated potential to be a creator and a primary ball-handler, using his athleticism to attack the rim and open lanes for his teammates. Culver is crafty, has good touch, and has the length to finish around the rim. With Zhaire Smith and Keenan Evans gone, Culver will get all of the opportunity to prove that he is a high-level initiator.

10. De’Andre Hunter, F, Virginia (So.)

When it comes to on-ball defenders in this class, there are none better than De’Andre Hunter. Standing at 6-foot-8 with a 7-foot-2 wingspan, Hunter has the frame to effectively defend 2-4 at the next level. Due to his strength, effort, and instincts, Hunter is the type of guy who you can throw on an opposing team’s best player in a playoff series and forget about his. His team defense is solid but nowhere near the level of his on-ball defense.

Hunter is a limited offensive player but does show flashes in Virginia’s constricting system. He is a good three-point shooter, shooting 38.2 percent from behind the line last season. Virginia used Hunter as a primary low-post option where he flashed some touch around the rim and a capable turnaround jumper, which is admittedly an anachronism in the modern NBA game. He can attack a closeout and finish but is really just a straight-line driver at this point. His handle isn’t advanced and his passing ability is fine. In the end, Hunter’s defense is his calling card and his ancillary skills are just icing on the cake.

9. Daniel Gafford, C, Arkansas (So.)

Gafford profiles as a typical athletic, rim-running big man in the mold of Clint Capela. Gafford is an excellent athlete with vertical leaping prowess and great fluidity running the floor. He is a  reliable rim protector (with an 11.5 block percentage) and has solid instincts as a weak-side defender. On the offensive end, Gafford is limited to being a dive man and a play finisher at the moment. He has flashed some touch in the post and a bit of ability from 15 feet but his game needs a lot of work on that end. Being an athletic, defensive stalwart and a good play finisher should be enough for him to warrant a top 10 selection in this draft.

8. Simisola Shittu, C/F, Vanderbilt (Fr.)

Shittu’s skill and finesse make him a rare type of prospect. A 6-foot-10 big with a 7-foot-1 wingspan, Shittu is a joy to watch. Almost no players his size are as fluid or coordinated as Shittu. His handle is great and he is a really good passer on the block and on the move. He has high IQ and fast reaction time and makes great decisions. The main question for Shittu is his jump shot; his mechanics aren’t great and his shot is flat.

Shittu has a great motor on the glass but needs to give more effort on the defensive end. He doesn’t sit in a stance and isn’t active as a rim protector, which is a shame given his reaction time and feel. He isn’t the best vertical athlete but he has enough to make an impact. Shittu’s combination of strength, quickness, and skill will help him dominate at the college level and develop into a playmaking five man at the NBA level.

7. Keldon Johnson, G/F, Kentucky (Fr.)

Johnson’s physicality is the trademark of his game. On the offensive end, he relentlessly attacks the bucket, drawing contact and finishing strong. On defense, his effort is fantastic. At 6-foot-6 with a 6-foot-9 wingspan, Johnson’s combination of strength, length, and quickness makes him a dominant defender who could legitimately defend one through four at the NBA level. In the Bahamas against Mega Bemax, he boxed up Kostja Mushidi.

Johnson’s jump shot isn’t the best but his mechanics are solid and he’s shown an ability to shoot off of the dribble in AAU. He is coordinated, balanced, and has a good enough handle to beat defenders. Johnson is a good passer on the move, finding teammates off of drives consistently. He isn’t overly explosive and doesn’t have an elite jump shot but Johnson has everything you want in a great NBA wing.

6. Jontay Porter, F, Missouri (So.)

Jontay Porter might be the best passer in this class. For any player, that is an impressive feat. But for a 6-foot-11, 240-pound big man, it is special. Porter simply has a special creative ability. He has excellent timing, anticipation, and vision on his passes. He excels passing out of double-teams and creating off of the short roll. Jontay has a good handle and can push the ball in transition and find open defenders. Porter has good touch and a quick jump shot. He is a good rebounder and has good feet on the perimeter.

Jontay isn’t vertically explosive but he is a solid rim protector because of his effort and timing. His lack of jumping ability limits him as a finisher down low. Porter is often criticized due to his pudgy nature; he posted the highest body fat percentage of any prospect at last year’s NBA combine at 13.85 percent. I look at this as a positive because it allows for some athletic upside if he can cut the weight. In the past, talented players such as Draymond Green and Nikola Jokic have been undervalued due to being out of shape. Porter’s talent, creation, and basketball IQ is impossible to ignore and should have him being a fantastic all-around player.

Tier 1

5. Cameron Reddish, F/G, Duke (Fr.)

When it comes to pure, basketball talent, Cameron Reddish might lead this class in that category. A 6-foot-8 wing with a 7-foot-1 wingspan, Reddish has the size and skill to effectively play one through four. He acted as a lead ball-handler in high school and can probably do this at the college level. When running the pick-and-roll, Reddish anticipates well and has the ability to make advanced reads.

He has a solid handle and gets to the rim well. Reddish is an excellent three-point shooter, as he shot over 50 percent with team USA and in high school. Reddish uses a step-back often to create space but he pulls up from three more than you would like and isn’t that efficient off movement. When teams run Reddish off of the line, he doesn’t really have a mid-post game. He needs to develop a more well-rounded scoring arsenal to be a true number one option.

Reddish has the tools to be an All-NBA level defender but tools can only take you so far. After all, Andrew Wiggins has all of the tools as well. His effort on the defensive side is questionable and his technique on defense needs work. Reddish has a long way to go if he wants to sniff his defensive potential and this starts with staying in a stance, fighting through screens and rotating on time. If Reddish can put his tools to good use, he will be an NBA star. However, that is no given.

4. Bol Bol, C, Oregon (Fr.)

If I could create a prospect in a lab, the guy I came up with would probably look something like Bol Bol. Standing 7-foot-2 with a 7-foot-8 wingspan, Bol is an excellent shot blocker. He has good timing and instincts, making the most of his length. On the offensive end, Bol has an unparalleled touch for a man of his stature. He shoots the three at a high level for any player, has an advanced handle, and good touch in the post. Bol’s shot has a low set point but it is quick and effective. He has very solid lateral quickness, helping him on both ends of the floor.

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The obvious concerns with Bol stem from his frame. He will be overpowered by stronger and more powerful players on the defensive end of the floor. Teams may be able to put a 6-foot-7 guy with great lower body strength to force Bol out of the gym but he has enough touch to finish over smaller defenders down low. Durability is a major concern for Bol Bol. True seven-footers don’t have a great track record of health. Bol’s skinny frame could lead to a career plagued by injuries. His natural touch and physical tools, though, could make him too good to pass on in the top five if the need is there.

3. Nassir Little, F, North Carolina (Fr.)

Standing at 6-foot-6 with a 7-foot-1 wingspan, Nassir Little is the best pure defender in this draft. He is a stopper on the ball, only a bit behind Hunter in that regard. However, his overall effort level and team defense far outshine Hunter. He rotates well, reads the plays quickly, and is an excellent weak-side rim protector.

Little is a great shot-maker with a great three-point shot. His mechanics are near-perfect and he can shoot off of movement and pulling up, using his step-back to create space. Little is a coordinated and fluid athlete with a good leaping ability and court awareness. He needs to work on his decision-making on the offensive end of the ball; making the right reads and not turning the ball over will be key. Due to his combination of defensive prowess, shooting off of the dribble and athleticism, Little will be a productive wing early in his career. He will be best used as a complimentary piece early but has the tools to develop into a more dominant scorer.

2. R.J. Barrett, G/F, Duke (Fr.)

The consensus top prospect, R.J. Barrett’s unique mix of physical tools, intangibles, and skill make him tough to grasp yet so enticing. Barrett doesn’t have a great handle and his three-point shot is solid. It should be effective on spot-ups but his pull-up has a way to go. Barrett is a great athlete with advanced horizontal and vertical explosiveness. His most impressive traits are less tangible, though.

Barrett has some of the best lower body strength I have ever seen. He bounces off contact effortlessly and gets into the lane at will. His touch around the basket as a finisher is unheralded. In the lane, Barrett unleashes All-NBA level, herky-jerky footwork, agility, and body control to finish over, around, or through any defender.

Barrett is a strong on-ball defender and a solid off-ball defender who shows good energy and effort working as a team defender. His instincts could use some improving but that goes for almost every young player. I don’t believe that Barrett’s best role in the NBA is as a primary option due to his lack of a pull-up and shaky handle. He would thrive as a secondary option on a great team and should be an excellent NBA player for a long time.

1. Zion Williamson, F, Duke (Fr.)

Zion Williams is head and shoulders above the rest of his peers in this class but not high enough to warrant his own tier (yet?). We all gawk over Williamson’s Herculean frame and otherworldly athleticism. That athleticism is scary and his 6-foot-6, 285-pound frame makes him impossible to contain on drives. There aren’t many guys built like Zion. Adding to the highlight dunks that we all know and love, Zion is highly skilled. He is very coordinated, has an advanced handle, solid touch, and great vision and passing instincts. Zion beats defenders with his brute strength along with his quick handle and first step. His three-point shot leaves a lot to be desired but if he can become just average from deep, he will be even more unstoppable. He has displayed some ability to pull up from mid-range, which is quite encouraging.

Zion doesn’t sit in a stance on defense and he won’t be elite on that end but his effort level is impressive. He will be an elite-level rim protector due to his vertical and timing. Duke (hopefully) is going to use Williamson in a multitude of ways in order to maximize his versatility on both ends of the ball. If Duke wanted to play him at small-ball five, he could lead the NCAA in rebounding.

People shy away from Zion this high on most boards because he doesn’t fit a traditional archetype. He’s not a three-and-D wing, not a prototypical facilitator or scoring wing. Williamson is an enigma for the better. His future NBA coach will find a way to maximize Zion’s limitless potential. When a team picks high in the draft, they’re looking for upside and nowhere are you going to find more upside than with Zion freakin’ Williamson.