Come June 20th, Zion Williamson will be selected #1 overall in this year’s NBA Draft. But we already knew that.
And there’s something else we know. Every year, we’re surprised by what I’ll call “draft sleepers.” Take Draymond Green, for example. In 2012, Green was a 2nd round pick, #35 overall. Undervalued at the time, Green has gone on to be NBA’s defensive monster, a big reason why Golden State has won three NBA titles over the past four years.
So who are the Draymond Green’s of the 2019 Draft? Here are my top five picks.
5. Tacko Fall
Before the NBA Combine, Fall was nowhere to be seen on Mock Draft lists. But after the Combine, he’s projected to be a late second round pick.
Even though Fall averaged only 10 ppg and eight boards a game during his 4-year stint at Central Florida, I think an NBA team will be willing to take a chance on this 7’7″ specimen with his 8’2″ wingspan.
He can help a team by coming off the bench with his pick-and-pop style. The NBA loves big men with the ability to hit the three. Look for Fall to go in the mid-second round.
4. Ty Jerome
At 6’5″, UVA’s Jerome is a combo guard who’s smart and savvy. He has good court vision, too, as well as the ability to shoot the three-ball. Those traits make him a promising pick as a backup point guard. Many analysts are picking him to go early in Round 2–even though some also question his athleticism.
But what Jerome may lack in athleticism he more than makes up with high basketball IQ.
He’s a great passer, finds open teammates, and can control game-tempo.
From where I sit, I see Jerome contributing immediately. And I’ll go so far to say that I see him having a long and productive NBA career.
3. Cam Johnson
Johnson had a great senior season at UNC, where he averaged 16.9 ppg and shot 50% from the field. A 6’9″ forward, Johnson offers what the NBA loves–a big man who floats around the three-point line and connects consistently (Johnson hits bombs at a 45% rate).
But I don’t understand why many analysts are overlooking him. Johnson is a floor spacer and versatile defender with a great-looking stroke. He fits perfectly into the NBA’s ‘New Age’ basketball, a player who has the All-Star potential.
Heck, don’t be surprised if Johnson has a better rookie debut than (believe it or not) Zion Williamson.
2. Brandon Clarke
Size might be the issue for this 6’8″ power forward out of Gonzaga if we were playing 1990’s-style NBA ball. But we’re not. In today’s game, the NBA is rolling out smaller lineups with uber-athletic players.
I think Clarke could be the next P.J. Tucker.
He’s versatile on both ends of the court and could help a team immediately.
The only thing that keeps Clarke from being a top ten pick is his wingspan. Still, though, with time and in the right situation I think Clarke could develop into a small-ball 5.
1. Kevin Porter, Jr.
This lefty sniper from USC has a boatload of talent. Porter is a tough guard for any defender because he can shoot with both hands, is great off the dribble, and can create his shot.
The downside? There are questions about his work ethic and attitude.
Still, though, I think Porter is good enough to become an early-career All-Star. Yes, he’s a high-risk pick, but high-reward lurks for the team that picks him.
Which ‘genius” franchise will that be?