• Ryan Bernardoni

2019 NBA Draft Big Board v2.0

Updated: Apr 2, 2019

Welcome to my second annual NBA Draft Big Board. I do not watch college basketball and this year have also spent almost no time reading up on the top draft prospects. I believe that this gives me the best possible perspective on the NBA draft, as the history of the draft makes it clear that people who do watch lots of college basketball are not very good at picking the best players.

These rankings are based entirely on the most important factor in evaluating draft prospects: random information that has wormed its way into my brain via The Internet. As with last year, it important to note that this Big Board is a scientific document; any eventual variance from these results was the fault of the drafting teams, not of my expert analysis.

1. Zion Williamson, THE Duke University

Zion is the best college prospect since Hot "Rod" Hundley burst out of West Virginia to take the NBA by storm. He combines the open court ferocity of a young Charles Barkley with Larry Johnson's ability to portray an elderly woman.

At 6'7" and 21 stone, Williamson's frame, a perfect cube, will be ideal for setting solid screens before exploding to the hoop as a lob threat. He can really do it all on the court, aside from making the Final Four or overturning Citizen's United.

2. Ja Morant, The Murray College of Basketball at Weber University

Until beginning my research for this project earlier today, I had assumed that the uber athletic Morant was a senior at the same school that produced Damian Lillard. Imagine my surprise to find that he is actually a young sophomore at an entirely different institution of higher learning.

This revelation moved him up from second in my rankings to still second in my rankings. Does Morant have a case for number 1? No, though if he were a freshman at Steph Curry's Davidson School of Arts and Agriculture he would have a stronger argument.

3. Cam Reddish, DUKE II

The third in a heralded class at Mike Krzyzewski's program that will never be as good as UConn, Reddish is a long, smooth, shooter who is also a thin, disinterested, brick layer.

Some people believe that his development was stunted by playing with so much other talent at Duke but thankfully that will not be a problem in the NBA, where players are generally not that talented. Frankly, I'm not sure what other choice Reddish had than to go to Duke once they named their arena after him.

I'm keeping Reddish at this controversially high ranking for three reasons. First, he's one of the few names I know without having to confirm that I have the spelling right. Second, guys who are 6'8" and can theoretically shoot the ball are very valuable in the NBA. Third, this is a good opportunity to put someone higher than everyone else has them so I can claim credit for "always seeing it" if he works out.

4. Jarrett Culver, Texas Technical

For a while I had assumed that Culver was a Brad Beal-type but have now come to believe that he is all of taller than that, not a particularly good shooter, and a better defender. The "not being a good shooter" is troubling, but that I had at one point assumed he was is a promising trait. There's value in convincing people you can shoot, even if you can't.

It's difficult to pin down what had made me think that he was a high-level shooter, but it's possible that the combination of the names "Texas Tech" and "Jarrett Culver" had made me assume that he was a white kid who runs around screens and shoots and is a country music star. None of this is correct, and makes me evaluate my own latent racial profiling.

5. Brandon Clarke, Gonzaga by way of San Jose State

You can never be too small to play center in The Modern NBA so the 4'7" shot blocking dynamo Clarke is the perfect draft prospect. Other than that he is also 36 years old and so nearing retirement.

Still, it's hard to overlook his outstanding block and steal rates, as well as his offensive efficiency. Even if a team only gets three seasons out of him before he qualifies for Social Security and buys a house in Belize where "you wouldn't believe how far a dollar goes, which is important for someone on a fixed income," he's well worth a shot this far down in an underwhelming draft class.

6. R.J. Barrett, DUKE III

Like DeAndre Ayton last season, I am putting the controversial Barrett at six because if he busts I can yell "see, I never believed in him" but if he succeeds I can scream "ranking a guy sixth doesn't mean I didn't like him!"

Noting that I have never watched him play, my scouting report for him is that everyone loves to play with inefficient volume scorers who need to have the ball but don't have a "pass first" mindset and also don't guard opposing point guards. This is a good and 100% successful archetype in the NBA.

7. Matisse Thybulle, Somehow Not France

An elite 3-and-D prospect with long arms and great instincts, I think.

It's clear that this is not a deep draft as I have already reached the point where I have absorbed almost nothing about any of these players. I have to get to at least 14 before going rapid fire; I'm not sure if that's going to be possible.

8. Sekou Doumbouya, France

The joie de vivre of Guerschon Yabusele in the body of Semi Ojeleye. With the unquestioned success that those two NBA superstars have experienced, how could Doumbouya fail? The answer: he can't.

9. Darius Garland, Vanderbilt Institute of Wealth Trying to Heal Civil War Wounds

Darius Garland is the Romeo Langford of point guards.

10. Romeo Langford, Buttigieg State

Romeo Langford is the Darius Garland of wings.

11. Bol Bol, Nike

It's likely that Bol (last name) will be on the wrong end of a lot of highlights, but in between those he should make threes and block shots. Making threes and blocking shots are both positive things.

The challenge for Bol (first name) will be staying on the floor. There will be some matchups where a 7'11" 106 lbs. center is a liability. By "some matchups" I mean "all matchups." Still, those positive skills are worth the risk at this point.

12. Jaxson Hayes, Rick Barnes isn't still at Texas, right?

An argument can be made that the progeny of Jayson Tatum and Jax from Mortal Kombat should be higher on the board. Unfortunately, instead of smooth footwork and metal arms, Hayes has normal arms and a sweep kick that is "cheese."

13. Coby White, The University of Northern Carolina

A player destined to be drafted 13th by the Charlotte Hornets but traded to the Los Angeles Lakers.

Coby (pronounced Co-bee) has elite hair not seen on a prospect since the 2018 draft.

14. Talen Horton-Tucker, Iowa State

I know literally nothing about this player except that I like his name. I had to look up what school he goes to and what position he plays. Pleasingly, he apparently plays like a cyclone for the Cyclones.

15. Dedric Lawson (scourge of Northeastern)

16. Nassir Little (I assume he still exists?)

17. KZ Okpala (KZ is apparently a nickname and is not K.Z.)

18. Luguentz Dort (Montreal)

19. Nickeil Alexander-Walker (Gilgeous-Alexander-Walker on Wheel of Fortune)

20. Tyler Herro (Furthering stereotypes)

21. P.J. Washington (Annual candidate for someone who could be made up)

22. Kevin Porter (Not the brother of Michael Porter Jr. OR the son of Michael Porter Sr.)

23. Jontay Porter (Injured brother of Michael Porter Jr. AND son of Michael Porter Sr.)

24. Keldon Johnson ( ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ )

25. Shamorie Ponds (Analytics darling)

26. De'Andre Hunter (Marvin Bagley Memorial "I Forgot To Rank Him" Award)

27. Grant Williams (This is the most "undersized power forward" name possible)

28. Goga Bitadze ("...and the rights to Goga Bitadze")

29. Tre Jones (Thibs is biding his time, waiting to take a job where he can not play him)

30. John Konchar (SLEEPER)

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