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2019 NBA Draft

Nathan S

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Do you believe any of those guys can swing between the 2/3?
For sure...I think all of them arguably have the versatility to play multiple positions, though Hunter is more of a 3/4 than a 2/3. RJ/THT/Culver all need to improve a bit as ballhandlers and as shooters to really be valuable offensively at SG, but it's within the realm of possibility. It would certainly pay dividends on defense, as it would make it possible to put more size on the court (which the Cavs in particular desperately need to do).
 

Nathan S

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Quick notes on top SGs. Haven't really made up my mind on who's best/worst of the three, so the ordering is just alphabetical.

Nickeil Alexander-Walker

Offense - One of the most complete and polished offensive players in the draft. Very good outside shooter, a good enough ballhandler to get into the teeth of the defense, and has enough vision to run the offense in a pinch. Struggles in high-profile games down the stretch dampened his outlook a little, casting doubt on his willingness and ability to find another gear in big moments. Combined with the fact that he turns 21 this summer and just-OK athleticism, seems to suggest that he'll be more roleplayer than star in the NBA.

Defense - A very good 1-on-1 defender; not an elite athlete but quick enough laterally to handle most guards. Got plenty of steals and a significant number of blocks for an SG thanks to his quick hands and overall activity level. Not really a defensive stopper, and slender frame limits his versatility, but there's plenty of reason to believe he'll be a net positive.


Romeo Langford

Offense - Even as a freshman he was one of the very best slashing wings in college basketball. Always looking to attack, great combination of quickness, handle, length, and athleticism to get to the rim, and a high-percentage finisher when he gets there. Decent midrange game to fall back on, but his shooting form and accuracy become increasingly suspect with range. Not a black hole, but not a great team player either. Didn't often use his ability to break down the defense to create open shots for his teammates.

Defense - Capable of playing big as evidenced by his solid rebound rate and nearly 1 block per game, but this was overshadowed by his seriously inconsistent effort level and poor fundamentals. Indiana was a top-10 defense with him on the bench, but barely average with him on the court. Not clear if these struggles are a result of low IQ or poor team chemistry, but the safe bet is that he'll be best off paired with a bigger, defensive-minded wing who can be a mentor on the court and cover up some of his mistakes.


Coby White

Offense - Highly skilled perimeter player who played a key role for a very good UNC team even at 18 years old. Potentially elite outside shooter with deep range and plenty of off-the-dribble ability. High-IQ player and a good passer who should develop into a true combo guard with at least an outside shot at becoming a full-time PG, but looked overwhelmed at times when asked to run the offense. Just an OK finisher in the paint due to subpar physical tools, which limit his upside a bit.

Defense - A reasonably good team defender, but may have trouble matching up at the next level as he's not overly quick or particularly tough. Short wingspan limts his ability to contain ballhandlers, and shies away from contact with bigger players. Would ideally be paired with a bigger, pass-first PG who can take on the more dangerous backcourt assignment.
 

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Quick notes on the top SFs. The ordering here is pretty fluid depending on what exactly you value in a prospect, I think, and that includes Barrett at the top.

RJ Barrett

Offense - Surprisingly polished game for an 18-year-old. There are questions about his scoring upside due to a lack of high-end athleticism and a streaky jumpshot, but there's no doubt that he's a threat to score from anywhere on the court, and that's impressive. Really good passer for his age and size; did a good job limiting turnovers considering his enormous usage. Tends too much towards chucking at times, but has the skills to be a point forward if coaches push him in that direction.

Defense - Just barely adequate at the college level; he'll have to make big strides on this end to hang in the NBA. Shockingly few steals for a wing, and many of them he only got thanks to the pressure generated by his more active teammates. Will add some value as a rebounder, and has enough size that it shouldn't generally be hard to hide him on defense.


Jarrett Culver

Offense - Had the profile of a blossoming superstar wing around midseason, but serious late season struggles cast doubt on how much potential he really has. Dribble/pass/shoot skills are there, but more raw than you'd like to see in a 20-year-old lottery prospect. Probably better off as a secondary rather than primary creator at the next level, but needs to improve his jumpshot to really shine in an off-ball role.

Defense - One of the better defensive wing prospects in the draft; good motor even when he was expending a lot of energy on the other end of the court. Projects to be fairly versatile with the toughness to handle big wings and the quickness to stay in front of most guards. Active rebounder, capable shot blocker in 1-on-1 situations and occasionally as a help defender. Good instincts playing passing lanes and pressuring ballhandlers without over gambling.


Talen Horton-Tucker

Offense - A full year young for his class beginning the season at just 17 years old, he wasted no time asserting himself offensively, always looking to make something happen when he touched the ball. Bowling-ball frame combined with willingness to pull up for deep 3's makes him difficult to guard, though he's not yet skilled enough to consistently cash in on the openings he creates. Also an above-average passer for his position who probably has some point forward potential.

Defense - Intriguing frame at 6'4" with an enormous 7'1"+ wingspan, and it's not crazy to think he could grow a little considering his age. Solid rebound/steal/block numbers for a wing, though too often he was a loose canon that disrupted his team's defensive scheme. Needs to get in better shape to really max out the defensive versatility his frame promises. Needs a coach who can rein him in a little, improve his fundamentals, and channel his naturally high motor more productively.


De'Andre Hunter

Offense - High-IQ roleplayer at the college level, though with less ballhandling and finesse than you'd hope for in an older wing prospect. Will find a way to make himself useful with his accurate jumper and his toughness on the glass, but underdeveloped handle and just-ok first step makes it hard for him to create against a set defense. His midrange jumper was a handy fallback option for Virginia at the college level, but NBA defenses will be happy to give him that shot.

Defense - Perhaps the very best 1-on-1 defender at the college level, he should be immediately useful in a defensive stopper role in the NBA. Really good at using his length to contest without fouling, and rarely gets beat off the dribble thanks to his quick feet. Very fundamentally sound in that he'll always maintain his position and never get baited into swiping for a steal. Though he certainly errs of the side of being too conservative at times, his approach pays off more often than not in the long run.
If the Cavs have the 2nd pick, who would you prefer them to take... RJ or Morant?
 

Nathan S

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Finally, notes on the top PGs. Morant's the clear #1 here, and I have Garland #2 but without much confidence that he deserves to be ahead of the others.


Ja Morant

Offense - A total outlier in terms of usage, creating a ridiculous fraction of Murray State's offense both as a scorer and as a passer. Prolific attacking the basket; combination of craft and explosiveness makes him hard to contain in the paint. Developing off-the-dribble 3 is not yet a reliable weapon, but has potential. Creative and willing passer but careless at times and not really a polished floor general, may struggle to adjust to the big jump in level of competition from mid-major to NBA.

Defense - Physical tools and willingness to embrace contact make him a pretty good defender when motivated, but he rarely showed a high effort level on this end. A classic ball-watcher, doesn't naturally think in terms of team defense, not mentally engaged in off-ball situations, not willing to fight through screens, mainly catching his breath and looking for an opportunity to pick someone's pocket and get out on a fast break. The raw potential his there, but he has a lot to learn even by rookie standards.


Darius Garland

Offense - An ultra-talented scorer, he showed off his arsenal in a handful of games before succumbing to a knee injury, draining plenty of threes and using his handle and quickness to befuddle minor-conference foes. However, he struggled as a passer, most notably by posting an alarming 1 assist and 6 turnovers against the only major-conference opponent he faced. He'll need to prove himself as a floor general to reach his very lofty offensive ceiling.

Defense - Considered a scrappy but unspectacular defender coming out of high school, his lack of an NCAA track record here is again reason for pause. He didn't show much on that end in the few college games he played, and with his knee injury on top of already subpar physical tools it's fair to question whether he'll be able to stay in front of NBA point guards. At the very least, he'll need to add some muscle to his frame to give himself a fighting chance.


Ty Jerome

Offense - A savvy floor general who led Virginia all the way to the championship. Wants the ball and makes good decisions even in big moments against tough competition. Accurate shooter with deep range, albeit not a particularly quick release. Crafty finisher with a good midrange game, but lacks the elite handle and athleticism to shine in this area, drives to pass more than he drives to shoot. One of the older prospects, turning 22 this summer.

Defense - Not overly quick, but competes hard, and plays with good physicality. Really active hands; Virginia's defensive system was fairly conservative but he got tons of steals anyway thanks to his motor and reflexes. Stands 6'5", but below-average wingspan reduces his ability to switch onto bigger guards/wings. Will take a good coach to capitalize on his strengths and manage his weaknesses on this end.


Shamorie Ponds

Offense - Polished score-first PG, made up for a lack of size and athleticism with a great handle and a quick-trigger 3. Rarely turned the ball over, but didn't create as much as you'd hope for his teammates either, struggling to effectively lead as St John's let a 12-0 start devolve into a fairly forgettable season.
May be better off in a 6th-man role at the next level rather than trying to be "the guy".

Defense - Great reflexes make him play much bigger than a player with his physical tools should. Very active, among the NCAA leaders in steals. Undoubtedly will be a liability in some matchups against bigger, more athletic PGs, but has the potential to be a positive-impact guy on this end especially if he can add a little more muscle to his frame.


Cassius Winston

Offense - A fantastic all-around offensive PG, led all major-conference players in assists highlighted by a 10-assist 1-turnover performance in Michigan State's upset win over Duke. Lethal from 3, and nearly as deadly attacking the paint in spite of average athleticism. Easy to see him running an NBA offense even if his athletic limitations force him to take more of a backseat as a scorer.

Defense - Didn't really stand out at the college level, which is somewhat concerning because smaller, less athletic PGs have to do more than just go through the motions to hold their own defensively in the NBA. Showed some ability to find another gear when it mattered, but not clear that he's able or willing to do that every game. In spite of sky-high offensive IQ, doesn't seem to have any special instincts/aptitude on defense.
 

Nathan S

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If the Cavs have the 2nd pick, who would you prefer them to take... RJ or Morant?
Is it crazy to say I'd prefer they trade down? I like Morant at #2 in a vacuum, but don't like the fit with Sexton, and don't feel confident that we'd get good value for Sexton in a trade. Barrett's alright, but I'd rather persuade some other team into overpaying for him rather than roll the dice on him myself. It'd be a tough situation.
 

inliner311

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Is it crazy to say I'd prefer they trade down? I like Morant at #2 in a vacuum, but don't like the fit with Sexton, and don't feel confident that we'd get good value for Sexton in a trade. Barrett's alright, but I'd rather persuade some other team into overpaying for him rather than roll the dice on him myself. It'd be a tough situation.
In this scenario I think we would wish the Suns had the assets of Hawks. Morant is an ideal fit for the Suns and the Suns could be sitting at 3 right behind us. Suns could make a big jump with Morant and future assets would take a hit.

Hawks seem like the perfect trade partner in terms of assets. They will probably have 2 top 10 picks and they hold our protected pick next year. Somehow getting control of our pick back and both their top 10 picks would be an amazing haul.
 

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In this scenario I think we would wish the Suns had the assets of Hawks. Morant is an ideal fit for the Suns and the Suns could be sitting at 3 right behind us. Suns could make a big jump with Morant and future assets would take a hit.

Hawks seem like the perfect trade partner in terms of assets. They will probably have 2 top 10 picks and they hold our protected pick next year. Somehow getting control of our pick back and both their top 10 picks would be an amazing haul.
I think that's only possible if he land #1.

Do we love Zion enough that if the Hawks offered their top two picks and our picks back, we'd turn that down? What if they sweetened it with a future protected pick of their own?

For the Hawks, I think only Zion would net those picks.

Phoenix could offer future picks and they have a high 2nd rounder this year as well that has value. They also have Milwaukee's first rounder, so they could send us theirs next year with protection if Milwaukee sends theirs (they should). So could have a Top 3 or Top 5 protection. I'd push for Top 3 protection.

There are some options out there. The best situation with Phoenix would be if we land at #2 and the Suns drop back to 4 or 5. They would need to pay more to move up at that point - and 4 or 5 would put us in a good place for Culver or Hunter.
 

inliner311

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I think that's only possible if he land #1.

Do we love Zion enough that if the Hawks offered their top two picks and our picks back, we'd turn that down? What if they sweetened it with a future protected pick of their own?

For the Hawks, I think only Zion would net those picks.

Phoenix could offer future picks and they have a high 2nd rounder this year as well that has value. They also have Milwaukee's first rounder, so they could send us theirs next year with protection if Milwaukee sends theirs (they should). So could have a Top 3 or Top 5 protection. I'd push for Top 3 protection.

There are some options out there. The best situation with Phoenix would be if we land at #2 and the Suns drop back to 4 or 5. They would need to pay more to move up at that point - and 4 or 5 would put us in a good place for Culver or Hunter.
I would give up Ja Morant at #2 to move to #3 for Barrett plus assets. I wouldn't be a fan to move down for #4-#6 and ending up with White, Culver, or Hunter unless it was a really good asset. I just don't think any asset Phoenix has or their future picks with Morant on the roster is a top tier asset.

Really I think Phoenix would need to be at #3 if we were still #2 looking to trade. Koby would use the Hawks as a staging horse to get the best offer from the Suns. I think Milwaukee 2020 1st round pick and the Suns 2nd round pick this year would a nice return. I might even add in one of our lesser 2nd round picks to make it work.
 

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Anyone watching Portsmouth? Couple of guys I would prioritize as undrafted FAs if I were the Cavs...

Josh Reaves - Penn State
DaQuan Jeffries - Tulsa
James Palmer - Nebraska

I'll end up having all three guys in my top 50 probably.
 

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I would give up Ja Morant at #2 to move to #3 for Barrett plus assets. I wouldn't be a fan to move down for #4-#6 and ending up with White, Culver, or Hunter unless it was a really good asset. I just don't think any asset Phoenix has or their future picks with Morant on the roster is a top tier asset.

Really I think Phoenix would need to be at #3 if we were still #2 looking to trade. Koby would use the Hawks as a staging horse to get the best offer from the Suns. I think Milwaukee 2020 1st round pick and the Suns 2nd round pick this year would a nice return. I might even add in one of our lesser 2nd round picks to make it work.
I'd be pretty happy with Milwaukee 2020, their 2nd, and #3 to move back one slot. But I'm higher on some of the other guys further down the line than I am on Barrett. It does depend on the assets.

If the Suns want Morant bad enough (and they should, he fits their chief need) then they may pay quite a bit to move up a single slot. Also largely depends on how our club views Morant and his fit. I'm not sold on him and Sexton working together. Of course, I'm also not sold on Barrett working well with Sexton.
 

Nathan S

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Pickett changed his mind and will enter the draft. That's pretty huge. He's a fringe top-10 guy for me, and realistically could still be on the board for the Rockets pick.
 

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Pickett changed his mind and will enter the draft. That's pretty huge. He's a fringe top-10 guy for me, and realistically could still be on the board for the Rockets pick.
He should stay in and feed off this 2nd-hand hype he's getting from Ja Morant as a young mid-major PG imo.

The eye test for me doesn't match up much with the statistical profile he has, very much unlike Ja. I like him a ton defensively though, and think he can be a backup PG.
 

Nathan S

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He should stay in and feed off this 2nd-hand hype he's getting from Ja Morant as a young mid-major PG imo.

The eye test for me doesn't match up much with the statistical profile he has, very much unlike Ja. I like him a ton defensively though, and think he can be a backup PG.
I'm partly high on him because of how he'd fit next to Sexton. Would genuinely be one of the highest-upside backcourts in the NBA, IMO.
 

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