The 2019 NBA Draft is just about a month away, and the tiers of prospects have been established for a while now. There’s Zion Williamson in a class of his own. R.J. Barrett and Ja Morant have their own tier just below Williamson. Then there’s just about everyone else. The middle class of this year’s draft is much larger than normal, and as a result there will be a lot of fluctuation in regards to how teams view prospects. This goes for analysts and their big boards as well. Here are some prospects that people aren’t talking too much about ahead of draft season, but could very well turn out to be a top player from this class sooner rather than later.
Tacko Fall, University of Central Florida
Despite being preposterously tall and doing as good a job as anyone defending Williamson at the rim last year, Tacko Fall is getting little traction in terms of his draft stock. People with such size do have legitimate injury concerns, but Fall has a standing reach of over 10 feet, according to his combine measurements. How are you not hyped about a guy who doesn’t have to jump to dunk? Ridiculous. Fall also doesn’t have the weight that guys his size usually do, which is a point in his favor. His slim frame will cause everyone to hesitate, but with those otherworldly measurements, it’s hard to imagine Fall not making a decent impact for whoever takes a chance on him. Future All-Star? Maybe not. But what team couldn’t use the tallest man in the NBA?
Amir Hinton, Shaw University
Amir Hinton got some traction recently, but up until the combine has been a completely unknown name. Hinton is a D-II star that has torn defenses apart at Shaw University, and has NBA-level size at with the athleticism to match. He averaged almost 30 points a game last season, and at the very least can put the ball in the hoop. He’s still not a great shooter from deep and relies a bit too much on foul calls at the basket for production, but Hinton could come in as a spark-plug player for a good team and put up decent numbers immediately. His ceiling isn’t terribly high from what we’ve seen so far, but topping out as a solid professional scorer isn’t too bad for a D-II prospect.
Bol Bol, Oregon
Bol Bol missed all but nine games last season with a foot injury, a giant, flashing red flag for all big men with NBA dreams. But his potential is good enough that he’ll probably go in the middle of the first round. During those nine games, Bol showed great shooting touch and the ability to protect the rim in those nine games; he would be a prototypical stretch five in today’s NBA, and even the slightest chance at landing that kind of prospect would make any NBA coach salivate. Similar to Fall, his tall stature and slender frame are concerns, but in Bol’s case, they shouldn’t overshadow his All-Star potential in the way it has so far.
Luguentz Dort, Arizona State
Luguentz Dort is a physical specimen with questionable shooting mechanics, a voodoo prospect in today’s NBA. But whoever picks up Dort will be very happy with what else he can bring to the table. He’s a powerfully-built wing who will be extremely unpleasant to be matched up against. He brought intensity to every defensive possession and has the physicality to fill that role from day one. His offensive deficiencies will cause him to fall, but he projects to be enough of a difference-maker on the defensive side of the floor that a team in the late teens or early 20s will take a flier on him.
Nickeil Walker-Alexander, Virginia Tech
Nickeil Walker-Alexander doesn’t have the same ceiling as the other prospects on this list, but he does have a much higher floor from early looks. His lack of athleticism showed at the college level, so it will put a cap on how good he can be in the pros, and his lack of explosion will prevent him from ever being a true No. 1 option. On the flip side, he’s a solid shooter (37% from deep on 4.5 attempts per game) and showed he can utilize his size to create space and make up for his below-average athleticism. He needs to work on taking care of the ball before he’ll be given the keys to any offense, but his size suggests defensive versatility and he won’t be facing the same level of adjustment to NBA-tier athleticism like his peers, since he’s used to working from behind in that regard.