With the college basketball season tipping off this week, we thought it would be a good idea to create a basic primer of the players who will most likely be in the 2019 NBA Draft. It is primarily to familiarize ourselves with the names to watch for in college basketball this season.
The Celtics have a chance to have four first round picks this upcoming draft: their own, Memphis’ (top-8 protected), LAC’s (top-14 protected), either Kings’ (top-1 protected) or Philadephia’s. That’s probably not ideal because it would be very difficult to find a spot on the roster for these first-round picks. With these four possibilities, the draft options are endless for the Celtics. It is hard to say at this point in the season where all the teams will finish at the end of the year and they could also package picks together to move up in the draft. Nonetheless, here’s who to look out for this season.
Tier One (hopefully the Kings’ pick)
To start, it would be best to just recommend one thing: when Duke is playing, you should watch. Tuesday night, the Blue Devils put on a show beating Kentucky in the season opener 118-84. There are three players on Duke’s starting five that will be going in the top 5 of this draft. They were the top 3 commits coming out of high school and these three will just roll on in to the NBA. If the Celtics can get one of these three, that would be best case scenario.
RJ Barrett – 6’7” forward
Barrett was the highest rated prospect to come out of high school. Athleticism is the name of the game for Barrett. He is already a bigger wing that has the versatility to switch with anyone on the court. In his opener, he scored 33 points on 26 shots while dazzling the basketball community in his first game in action. He looks to be a top-3 pick in this draft and is already ready for this league.
The Celtics will need the Kings pick to land either #2 or #3 for Barrett while also having some luck that the team drafting number #1 looks elsewhere for this pick. Barrett will not have 30+ points every night, so it will be interesting how he develops over time.
Zion Williamson– 6’7” forward
Zion Williamson is a name that you may have heard of over the past five years, and it is all due to the rise in social media. Williamson was the young kid who had unreal dunk clips at a young age plastered all over YouTube and Twitter. He has finally arrived on the college level to show his highlight reel style against top competition.
Williamson comes in as a dominant physical force that could score at will against Kentucky. He scored 28 points and was compared to Lebron James by head coach Steve Kerr after the game. He will need to continue to work on his three point shot if he wants to become a more skilled player, but right now, he knows how to play his game and gets to the rim with ease. The Celtics, like with Barrett, would need some luck to be able draft either of these Blue Devils.
Bol Bol– 7’2” center
This is a name you cannot forget. The Sudanese-born freshman is playing center for Oregon this season. He is the son of Manute Bol who was the second tallest player ever to play in the NBA. Bol is a special player who is highly touted not only because of his size, but also because of his three-point stroke. He has learned to stretch his game out to make defenders respect his jump shot. His negatives come on his physical limitations down low. Bol’s pure size can help with rebounds, but he will have to bulk up to contend in the NBA.
Cameron Reddish- 6’8” forward
The third superstar of the Duke trifecta is Cam Reddish. He is another wing type player that has the talent to be a top-3 draft pick in this draft. Reddish has the ability to handle the ball which helps off the break after a defensive rebound. Versatility is the name of the game in the NBA, and Reddish has those skills to be able to transition quickly into the league.
Reddish could be a possibility for the Kings pick if they started dropping games soon. Reddish looks to be going in the 4-7 range which is where the Kings may regress to by the end of the season.
Daniel Gafford– 6’10” center
Daniel Gafford may not be a player you get to see much of on national TV this season. He goes to Arkansas and will be under the radar most of the season compared to the other college basketball bluebloods. However, Gafford is another athletic big man that will put up great numbers on a nightly basis. Be sure to be on the look out for his box score numbers throughout the season. He can set up for explosive plays around the rim with solid mobility.
Last season, Gafford averaged only 11.8 points and 6.2 rebounds. With another year of development, he looks to earn draft respect becaues of his very high NBA ceiling. He could be similar to a Robert Williams for the Celtics, but if he stands out this season, he could be a solid pick around the 8-12 range.
Tier Two (hopefully Clippers or Grizzlies pick or both)
DeAndre Hunter- 6’8” forward
The Virginia Cavaliers ran the defense through DeAndre Hunter and earned the #1 overall seed last season. Hunter is another one of the versatile forwards that Danny Ainge and Brad Stevens love so much. He is coming back for his sophomore season and will help this Virginia team finish with a better season than last year’s tournament upset to UMBC.
Hunter needs to improve on the offensive end, but he still gives college lineups problems matching up against him. Last season, he averaged 9.2 points while shooting 48.8% from the field. That may not translate well for the NBA. The Celtics, however, would love to get another defense first wing. Hunter looks to be drafted around the mid-to-late first round.
Tier Three (Celtics pick)
Lindell Wigginton– 6’2” guard
Finally, Lindell Wigginton is a point guard projected to go around the late first round. He is a sophomore who plays at Iowa State and had a promising season last season as a freshman. He started every game, averaging 16.7 points and shooting 42.3% from the field and 40.1% from three. If he can continue this shooting into this year, he could declare for the draft and be a sneaky young option to be the replacement for Terry Rozier at season’s end.
With so many options for the Celtics, it will be exciting to watch many different prospects play this college basketball season.