Zion Williamson is the consensus No 1 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. But which college players will follow him into the professional ranks on Thursday night? We profile 14 players set to enter the NBA in the first round of the Draft.
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1. Zion Williamson – Forward, Duke
Widely considered the best Draft prospect since LeBron James entered the NBA in 2003, Zion Williamson has captured the imagination of the basketball world.
His gravity-defying athleticism made him a viral sensation during his high school career, with his stunning dunking ability bringing him to national prominence. During his year of college basketball at Duke, he proved that he had added enough finesse to his raw athleticism to make him the consensus top pick.
As well as providing a constant threat at the rim, the 18-year-old can play-make for team-mates thanks to his ability to handle the ball in the pick-and-roll, while his 285lbs of mass should ensure there are no problems adjusting to the greater physicality of the pro ranks.
Zion Williamson 2018-19 averages
- 22.6 Points
- 8.9 Rebounds
- 2.1 Assists
- 70.8% EFG
Question marks remain over a jump-shot technique that requires work, but a respectable 33.8 per cent from beyond the arc last season suggests Williamson will find his way.
2. Ja Morant – Guard, Murray State
Undisputed as the top guard in the 2019 class, Ja Morant was always going to provide a strong consolation prize for the team that marginally missed out on landing Williamson.
A point guard who can score and create at an equally impressive rate, Morant led the NCAA in assists with 10.0 per game, while also averaging 24.5 points. The 19-year-old’s athleticism allows him to penetrate the paint at will, with opposition defenses faced with both his explosive finishing and ability to deftly pick out team-mates.
Ja Morant 2018-19 averages
- 24.5 Points
- 5.7 Rebounds
- 10.0 Assists
- 55.5% EFG
Like many players at his stage of their career, Morant’s shooting mechanics will benefit from the help of an NBA coaching staff, while his effort on defense will certainly come under greater scrutiny.
However, a game-winner to send Murray State to their Conference Championship showed Morant is a player who embraces the spotlight, and will undoubtedly provide plenty of entertainment in the NBA.
3. RJ Barrett – Forward, Duke
Somewhat overshadowed by Williamson at college, RJ Barrett will finally get the opportunity to prove he can match his Duke team-mate’s impact on the NBA.
It’s impossible to tell whether sharing the ball – and limelight – with Williamson last season limited Barrett’s impact, with his dual scoring and playmaking talents perhaps not utilised to their full capacity.
Despite that, he produced an impressive stat line and was a consensus pick on the college teams of the year, while an NBA-ready body promises the Canadian will make an instant impact wherever he lands.
RJ Barrett 2018-19 averages
- 22.6 Points
- 7.6 Rebounds
- 4.3 Assists
- 50.6% EFG
Barrett’s below-average performance from three-point range and the free-throw line are a concern, but his impressive shooting mechanics suggest it is only a matter of time until those numbers improve.
4. De’Andre Hunter – Forward, Virginia
He may not be as exciting a prospect as those expected to go above him, but De’Andre Hunter might be the most reliable player in this year’s Draft.
The 21-year-old’s three-and-D game fits perfectly into the modern NBA, with Hunter’s length and intelligence expected to enable him to guard a variety of positions.
Not only did Hunter shoot an extremely impressive 48.3 per cent from three-point range for Virginia last season, he also hit two huge shots down the stretch of the National Championship game to help them secure the title.
DeAndre Hunter 2018-19 averages
- 15.2 Points
- 5.1 Rebounds
- 2.0 Assists
- 57.9% EFG
While Hunter managed to add a tidy pull-up shot to his offensive arsenal during his college career, it remains to be seen how much of a threat he can become off the dribble at NBA level. The good news is that his defense will earn him plenty of time on court to develop.
5. Coby White – Point Guard, North Carolina
Rapid and raw, 19-year-old Coby White possesses a wide offensive skillset that should translate well to the NBA. Most comfortable attacking in transition, White stands to benefit from the quality of shooting and consequent spacing he should receive wherever he lands.
His shooting ability (35.2 per cent from three-point range) will make him an off-ball threat, while his length at almost 6ft 5in provides him with the potential to impact the game on the defensive end.
Coby White 2018-19 averages
- 16.1 Points
- 3.5 Rebounds
- 4.1 Assists
- 51.6% EFG
To fulfill that promise, and become a greater threat attacking the rim, White must add strength, which he has plenty of time to do.
The only notable weakness in his offense currently is an inability to shoot off the dribble, despite his speed regularly creating open looks.
6. Darius Garland – Point Guard, Vanderbilt
Having played just five games last season due to a knee injury cutting his campaign short, Darius Garland represents one of the biggest wildcards in the Draft.
The fact that Garland remains such a high prospect after undergoing surgery on a torn meniscus reflects the prodigious talent the 19-year-old possesses.
Darius Garland 2018-19 averages
- 16.2 Points
- 3.8 Rebounds
- 2.6 Assists
- 63.9% EFG
In the five games he did play, Garland displayed maturity beyond his years as he calmly ran the offense, while also scoring the ball in a variety of ways. Garland’s ability to finish the ball with both hands at the rim or to throw a pinpoint lob to a rolling big man will leave defenders with tough decisions to make, while his high comfort level shooting the three means he cannot be left alone.
Aside from the obvious concern over his health, Garland is a worry at the defensive end. Undersized and lacking elite athleticism, he must learn to work around those shortcomings.
7. Jarrett Culver – Guard, Texas Tech
After an impressive campaign that took Texas Tech to the brink of a first national championship, Jarrett Culver comes into the Draft with his stock high.
The 20-year-old’s mix of intelligence and skill brings an air of reliability that some flashier members of the Draft class do not possess. A versatile defender, whose numbers show that he can contribute in a variety of ways on offense, there still remain questions over how high Culver’s ceiling may be.
Jarrett Culver 2018-19 averages
- 18.5 Points
- 6.4 Rebounds
- 3.7 Assists
- 54.2% EFG
Lacking creativity in his handle, Culver was often forced to settle for long twos, which are unlikely to be tolerated by many coaching staffs in the NBA, especially coming from a rookie.
Meanwhile, despite shooting a respectable number (54.2 effective field-goal percentage), a reworked but still slowly-released shot is another concern at NBA level.
8. Cameron Reddish – Forward, Duke
Having begun the year as part of a much-heralded ‘Big Three’ at Duke along with Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett, Cam Reddish was the member of the trio whose stock fell most.
Going on his season at Duke alone, Reddish may have fallen out of the lottery picks, but doubt over whether it was a diminished role that saw him struggle means a top 10 team are still likely to take a chance on him.
Cam Reddish 2018-19 averages
- 13.5 Points
- 3.7 Rebounds
- 1.9 Assists
- 45.9% EFG
Blessed with an NBA-ready body, which still has room for growth, Reddish possesses an impressive array of skills that make him a constant threat on the perimeter. His experience of playing third fiddle at Duke should make him instantly comfortable landing in a likely similar role, at least to begin with, in the NBA.
Given his lack of explosiveness and finishing ability at the rim, Reddish will need to fulfil the playmaking potential he was so rarely able to show playing with the ball-dominant Williamson and Barrett.
9. Jaxson Hayes – Center, Texas
In contrast to last year’s Draft, which saw three centers selected in the top seven, it’s touch-and-go as to whether one classical big man will make it into 2019’s top 10.
Jaxson Hayes appears most likely to pull off that feat after producing a highly-efficient season at Texas as he led his conference with a field goal percentage of 72.8.
Jaxson Hayes 2018-19 averages
- 10.0 Points
- 5.0 Rebounds
- 0.3 Assists
- 72.8% EFG
That was largely due to him being allowed to dunk just about everything at college level, which won’t be the case next year. Hayes will need to adjust to the challenges of NBA defenses, but his background as a receiver in high school football has given him the ability to catch just about anything he is thrown.
There is less doubt about the impact he will have on the defensive end, with the near-seven footer a huge deterrent in the paint, while also having the ability to switch out thanks to his immense athleticism.
10. Rui Hachimura – Forward, Gonzaga
Set to become the first Japanese player to be picked in the first round of the NBA Draft, Rui Hachimura is guaranteed to bring commercial value to his new team.
Having improved in each of his three seasons in college, the 21-year-old now possesses the ability to score in a variety of ways, ranging from in the post to spot-up shooting.
Rui Hachimura 2018-19 averages
- 19.7 Points
- 6.5 Rebounds
- 1.5 Assists
- 60.8% EFG
Hachimura’s blend of size and athleticism should provide mismatch opportunities, but while the physical elements of his game have continued to advance, his failure to evolve mentally leaves serious question marks over his ability to cope with the intricacies of the professional game.
At both ends of the floor, Hachimura’s decision-making is, at best, second-rate. Given he only started playing organised basketball at the age of 14, there is hope that he still has plenty of room for further development.
11. Bol Bol – Big, Oregon
Rather like his physique, there is significant length to the range in which Bol Bol, son of 7ft 7in 1980s NBA star Manute Bol, could end up in this year’s Draft. At 7ft 2in with a precocious set of scoring skills, Bol has earned comparisons with Kristaps Porzinigis. Unfortunately for the 19-year-old, the similarities between the pair extend to questionable health.
If not for a stress fracture in his left foot limiting him to nine games for Oregon last season, Bol may well be considered a certainty for the top 10. Depending on what medical reports have said, he could slip significantly lower.
Bol Bol 2018-19 averages
- 21.0 Points
- 9.6 Rebounds
- 1.0 Assists
- 61.0% EFG
Given the upside of a player of his size with the ability to score at the rim and produce a high shooting percentage from the perimeter, someone is likely to be tempted into taking a gamble.
The addition of muscle to his currently extremely skinny frame should aid all parts of his game, but concerns linger over a reportedly questionable work rate on and off the court.
12. Sekou Doumbouya – Forward, Limoges CSP (France)
The top international prospect in the class of 2019, Guinea-born Frenchman Sekou Doumbouya will be looking to follow Luka Doncic’s example from last year.
Like the Rookie of the Year favourite, Doumbouya has EuroLeague experience from his time with Limoges CSP in France.
However, that’s where the similarities end. Doumbouya’s current impact is built around his excellent physique, with plenty of room remaining for development of his skills and reading the game.
Sekou Doumbouya 2018-19 averages
- 6.7 Points
- 3.0 Rebounds
- 0.7 Assists
- 54.9% EFG
That makes sense though. The 18-year-old has only been playing organised basketball for six years, which suggests there is plenty of scope for further improvement to an already-promising ability to play above the rim at both ends of the floor.
13. Nassir Little – Forward, North Carolina
A prospect that will be chosen more for his physical attributes than skill-set, Nassir Little is going to need time and attention to develop into a solid NBA player.
Strong, long and explosive, the 19-year-old has the perfect physique for the switch-heavy ‘position-less’ basketball that the league continues to trend towards. Little is already an impressive on-ball defender, but his lack of attention to detail has prevented him from becoming equally efficient off the ball.
Nassir Little 2018-19 averages
- 9.8 Points
- 4.6 Rebounds
- 0.6 Assists
- 50.5% EFG
Similarly, while his power enables him to finish through contact at the rim, Little’s offensive game has plenty of room for improvement. He has yet to show any extended range with his jump shot, but a solid percentage from the free-throw line suggests the basics are there to work with.
Little would be served well by landing with an organisation adept at developing raw potential. Given enough time in the right spot, he could prove a worthy investment.
14. Goga Bitadze – Big, KK Mega Bemax (Georgia)
Another player with professional experience, Georgian Goga Bitadze should be able to make an immediate impact on the NBA.
At almost 7ft tall with strong cutting instincts, good hands and a soft touch, Bitadze should find a way to score, but even more valuable might be his ability to get team-mates open.
For a 19-year-old, Bitadze is a great screen setter and has shown good feel in creating opportunities for others through his dribble-handoffs and high-low passes.
Goga Bitadze 2018-19 averages
- 12.1 Points
- 6.4 Rebounds
- 1.2 Assists
- 57.5% EFG
His shortcomings centre on an almost complete inability to move laterally. He will be exposed by the speed of NBA forwards, let alone guards, and for now will only be playable in a drop-defense system, such as the one in which Jusuf Nurkic is deployed by the Portland Trail Blazers.
Watch the 2019 NBA Draft live on Sky Sports Arena late of Thursday night (midnight) .