Last year we unveiled the inaugural “Final Tiers” Draft Big Board. 12 months later, I get to do this all over again. The tiers continue to serve as a measuring stick for where I have each prospect grouped relative to their draft class. Additionally this year the big board has several enhancements. The ESPN & Tankathon Big Board rankings will be available in columns labeled ‘ES’ & ‘TK’. Apologies to the Ringer – between KOC, Tjarks, and Chau I couldn’t settle on one ranking so please provide a composite for next year! Finally we have Zion Williamson to thank for inspiring the CBSR statistical metric that was created to compare NCAA prospects. For all mock draft purposes head over to my mock draft.
Tier 1: ‘Hall of Fame’
- Zion Williamson – I don’t have as much certainty this year with Zion actually making the Basketball Hall of Fame as I did with Luka but if CBSR is to be trusted he’s virtually a lock. Profile
Tier 2: ‘Potential All-Stars’
- Ja Morant – A natural playmaker, Ja showed fearless leadership skills and confidence in his ability to generate offense. The improvement in perimeter scoring is the reason he has vaulted up draft boards. An explosive finisher and high IQ creator makes Ja a very safe bet to start for many years in the league. Profile
- R.J. Barrett – Barrett entered this college season as the top prospect due to his physical tools and fluid scoring instincts. At Duke he was relied upon to generate a large portion of the offense and his scoring efficiency and ball dominance generated concerns. The natural alpha will need to improving his shooting mechanics and finishing skills. Profile
- Bol Bol – I know the questions. I know the risk. I know he has injury concerns. I know he has effort concerns. I know he has weight concerns. I also know that this doesn’t have to be complicated. This is a 7-footer handling the ball like a guard and comfortably dropping 3’s off the dribble. His footage isn’t from a YMCA in Greece so I don’t want to hear teams coming back with the same excuses they had for letting Giannis slip. Profile
Tier 3: ‘The Maybe Studs’
- Jarrett Culver – Already has the frame and fundamentals to make an immediate impact defensively. His offensive skills are rounded enough to create shots for himself and others. The question is whether he can develop into a lethal scorer or settles into an efficient secondary scoring role like Khris Middleton. Profile
- Goga Bitadze – Prototypical modern 5 with size, strength, jump shot, rim protection, and solid post skills. Goga’s athletic limitations should be mitigated by his solid fundamentals. The skill level gives him a high floor with plenty of room for improvement if he continues to make steady progress with defensive fundamentals. The next step in his development is becoming a play-maker out of the post.
- Sekou Doumbouya – Sekou is one of the youngest prospects in this draft and yet it feels like his name has been circulating in FIBA junior competitions forever. In the past he looked more like a late 1st rd prospect due to a lack of consistent scoring. This season he has made huge strides with his shooting and has earned more opportunities to play + score. The strength and defensive tools are already there.
- Darius Garland – Highly touted high school prospect that didn’t get to show out at Vanderbilt due to an injury. The game tape on him is tough to evaluate due to small sample size, but what immediately jumps out is his fluidity. Shows flashes of Dame Lillard bursts. Looks comfortable with the ball in his hands and has an alpha mentality to take and make big shots. Will need to show coaches a willingness to improve as a playmaker and defender.
- Cam Reddish – Cam is an enigma. Has all the tools to become a star and yet was virtually invisible for large portions of Duke games. Playing third fiddle behind RJ and Zion limited his opportunities to get into a flow to showcase his scoring abilities. The physical profile and talent are there but unlocking them and turning it to productivity will require a more aggressive approach to in-game possessions.
- Brandon Clarke – I actually like Clarke more than several of the prospects I have ranked above him. His floor defensively is so high that I can’t envision him being anything less than a stellar role player on a championship level team. The 5 players above him in this tier have some hope of becoming a top scoring option on a good team which is why they got the slight bump up in ranking. Profile
- Coby White – A gritty playmaker who made an immediate impact in the ACC. Was really impressed with his motor and confidence shooting off the dribble. His proactive approach to scoring will translate. The decision-making was erratic and will require more structure at the pro level. Will have to make up for wingspan limitations by being a high energy opportunistic defender.
- De’Andre Hunter – The safe 3 & D combo forward with the physical tools and frame to contribute as a defender and shooter immediately. Don’t expect his college scoring to translate to the NBA as a primary scoring. Makes up for a lack of explosiveness with his strength and length. High IQ prospect with the pedigree to guard several NBA positions.
Tier 4: ‘Talents with Question Marks’
- Jaxson Hayes – A formidable physical profile that will need to improve fundamentals and scoring skills. Should bring rim protection in short bursts as he tries to stay out of foul trouble.
- Romeo Langford – Nice length and fluidity for SG. Romeo exhibited a well-rounded skill-set with functional defensive fundamentals and the ability to play in transition or in the half-court. With a high floor and high ceiling his improvement shooting will determine if he can become a stud.
- P.J. Washington – A small ball undersized Center with enough length to player bigger than his height. Was an extremely efficient scorer at Kentucky and should continue to make an impact as a versatile scorer. Lacks elite athleticism and creativity which limits his ceiling.
- Grant Williams – A kid who has steadily improved due to high IQ and effort. Lacking burst, Grant has developed his shooting, passing, and defensive fundamentals to become a college star. The question is whether he can overcome his lack of length and speed to avoid becoming a role player. Profile
- Nickeil Alexander-Walker – Similar to his cousin SGA, NAW exhibits elite size and length to play either guard position. The shooting stroke is smooth and the defensive fundamentals are appealing. Will need to improve his handles and wiggle to create scoring opportunities off the dribble.
- Matisse Thybulle – An elite defensive profile that will need to adjust from Zone to Man. His length and instincts allow for superb multi-positional defensive potential. Don’t expect him to become a solid ball-handler so developing a consistent 3-point shot is necessary. The shooting form looks functional.
Tier 5: ‘Rising and Falling’
- Bruno Fernando – Coming into this year Fernando projected as a lottery pick because of his size and scoring ability. An inconsistent season resulted in more concerns about his defensive impact. Needs to show more effort moving his feet to get into a better defensive stance. If he can’t protect the rim or switch on perimeter players he will get exposed.
- Keldon Johnson – A young versatile swing-man that is a jack-of-all-trades and expert in none. Has the size and strength to play small-ball 4 if he doesn’t become a more creative ball-handler and better shooter. Inconsistencies on offense are mitigated by his defensive effort. Projects as a solid positional defender and rebounder.
- Tyler Herro – Herro is more of a theoretical prospect than actual player right now because of his flashes of scoring potential and perfect size for the 2. Will need to prove that his shooting is elite against NBA length. Further development playing on the ball will be useful unless he can become an all-time great catch-and-shooter like Korver.
- Kevin Porter Jr. – Virtually the complete opposite theoretical player of Herro. Porter flashed elite shot creation and was dynamic with the ball in his hands. The shooting and decision-making leaves a lot to be desired and results in erratic inconsistent efficiency. Will need to take advantage of his athleticism by being a disciplined defender.
- Cameron Johnson – Probably the most reliable and consistent shooter in this draft class. Should have a very high floor due to his already proven fundamentals and maturity. The ceiling depends on whether his production will be limited by team role. Not physical or explosive and doesn’t project as an above average defender.
- Luka Samanic – A young big with excellent frame for the modern 5. Lacks any individual skill that grades out as elite and yet consistently makes smart plays. Can do about anything you need a big man to do in current NBA offenses. Needs to show more toughness and grit if his shot isn’t falling against physical defenders.
Tier 6: ‘Value Plays’
- Nassir Little – Dropping across most boards due to disappointing freshman season. Needs to prove that his scoring skills can translate against superior defenders.
- Rui Hachimura – A legitimately exciting scoring dynamo with serious defensive concerns. Projects more as a bench scorer than starting caliber forward if he can’t improve his shooting consistency and ball-handling.
- Chuma Okeke – A defensive revelation on a surprisingly good Auburn team. Extremely high steal and block rates that should translate to the NBA. Patience with his injury recovery and his offensive development will need be required.
- Jontay Porter – Needs to overcome the injury concerns that seem to be part of his family’s DNA. When healthy Jontay is one of the most fun players in this draft. Offensively, has an innate ability to create scoring opportunities for himself and teammates.
- Mfiondu Kabengele – Elite measurements and strength have covered up for his lack of discipline defensively. Surprised scouts with his shooting and natural scoring instincts. Does a solid job switching defensively. Plays through contact on offense.
- Dylan Windler – Joe Ingles is always the comp that comes to mind when watching this highly productive college player show fluid ball-handling and shooting skills. Can become a star in his role with efficient scoring and high IQ. Concern will be whether he has the foot speed defensively.
- Ty Jerome – Proven leader and floor general for National Championship team. Will struggle defensively against quicker and stronger guards. Who’s to say he can’t follow in Brogdon’s footsteps on offense?
Tier 7: ‘Mystery Box Sleepers’
- Shamorie Ponds – Undersized guard that projects as a microwave playmaker off the bench.
- Talen Horton-Tucker – Undersized wing-man playmaker with a balanced skill set.
- Nic Claxton – Polished combination of scoring and playmaking out of the post with rim-protecting potential.
- KZ Okpala – Raw skill-set with intriguing physical profile and versatility.
- Luguentz Dort – Tough athletic competitor that needs to improve consistency on offense.
- Darius Bazley – A mystery box combo wing/forward that has some playmaking ability.
- Carsen Edwards – An elite package of scoring & playmaking in a small frame with limited defensive potential.
For ‘best of the rest’ and all other tiers see below for the full big board:
|2||2||2||2||Ja Morant||80.5||PG||Murray St.||19.9||6’4||6’8|
|3||5||6||3||Jarrett Culver||73.2||SG||Texas Tech||20.4||6’5||6’9|
|4||17||22||18||Nickeil Alexander-Walker||66.5||SG||Virginia Tech||20.9||6’5||6’9|
|5||23||28||26||Luka Samanic||PF||Petrol Olympia||19.4||6’11||6’11|
|6||28||23||29||Mfiondu Kabengele||77.7||C||Florida State||21.8||6’10||7’3|
|7||31||46||28||Shamorie Ponds||64.6||PG||St. Johns||21.1||6’1||6’2|
|7||32||33||30||Talen Horton-Tucker||57.3||SF||Iowa State||18.7||6’4||7’1|
|7||35||26||46||Luguentz Dort||52.2||SG||Arizona State||20.2||6’4||6’9|
|7||36||27||33||Darius Bazley||SF||New Balance||19||6’9||7|
|10||67||60||Marcos Louzada Silva|
|11||92||92||Charlie Brown Jr|