Luka Samanic

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Spurs treading water

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NBC Sports’ Dan Feldman is grading every team’s offseason based on where the team stands now relative to its position entering the offseason. A ‘C’ means a team is in similar standing, with notches up or down from there.

Gregg Popovich is arguably the best coach in NBA history. Get him a few capable veterans, and he has guided to the Spurs to the playoffs. Every darn year.

He’s also 70 years old, which limits the value of a rebuild. Why waste seasons Popovich could prop up just to get young players he probably won’t stick around to coach? Might as well continue to enjoy the present.

So, the Spurs agreed to a contract extension with Popovich then commenced on a boring offseason – though one that included more action than desired.

The big prize was supposed to be Marcus Morris, a good forward who would’ve strengthened San Antonio’s rotation. But he reneged on his deal and signed with the Knicks. The Spurs are reportedly – and should be – pissed.

San Antonio traded Davis Bertans, a solid stretch four, to the Wizards to open money for Morris. That trade was already complete by the time Morris pulled out. Many top free agents were off the board.

The Spurs settled for Trey Lyles ($5.5 million next season, $1 million of $5.5 million guaranteed in 2020-21). He impressed a couple years ago, but he significantly regressed last season. There are reasons he was the fallback option.

At least San Antonio got a couple of more-ready forwards by re-signing Rudy Gay (two years, $29 million) and signing DeMarre Carroll (two years, $13.65 million followed by $1.35 million of $7 million guaranteed in 2021-22). Still, the plan was to get Gay, Carroll and Morris.

Mostly, the Spurs remain on the same course. LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan are still the headliners. All eight players who played in each of San Antonio’s playoff games return.

Still, there’s a tinge of a youth movement beneath the surface.

Dejounte Murray missed all of last season with a torn ACL. Derrick White emerged in Murray’s absence. Those rising point guards will be back next season, and it’s possible to envision a next era led by one – or if Popovich is creative enough – both.

For just the second time in the last three decades,* San Antonio picked twice in the first round. Unfortunately for the Spurs, they got those selections in a weak-looking draft. No. 19 pick Luka Samanic and No. 29 pick Keldon Johnson are fine, unspectacular prospects.

*In 2011, San Antonio traded for No. 15 pick Kawhi Leonard and drafted Cory Joseph No. 29.

The Spurs’ goal is clearly a record-breaking 23rd straight postseason appearance. That’ll be tough in a loaded Western Conference. But they’re content to try.

Offseason grade: C

Notes from second night of Salt Lake Summer League

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SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Jazz play at the second highest elevation in the NBA, 4,226 feet, or 8/10ths of a mile. The air is a little thin.

For young players working on their conditioning — and especially some young players playing the second night of a back-to-back — it showed on Tuesday. Dylan Windler, the Cavaliers standout from Game 1, looked gassed by the second half. He wasn’t alone. It led to some sloppy basketball at points, even by the sliding scale of Summer League standards.

Here’s my notebook from the second night of games in Salt Lake City.

• With three games in three nights in Utah, the Fourth of July off, then games starting at the Las Vegas Summer League on Friday, teams rested a lot of guys on Tuesday. The Spurs sat Lonnie Walker IV (who scored 20 the night before), and the Grizzlies rested Yuta Watanabe (who also had 20 on opening night). Utah rookie Jarrett Brantley, who looked good in the opener, also got a night off. Combine that with the other guys sitting for injuries, such as Darius Garland (knee), or guys not yet officially traded so they can’t suit up (Kevin Porter Jr. for the Cavs, Brandon Clarke for the Grizzlies) and Tuesday was a little thin on names you know suiting up in Utah.

• It’s gotta be the shoes!

Spurs rookie Keldon Johnson — the Spurs’ No. 29 pick in this draft, a wing out of Kentucky — scored 29 points on 10-of-17 shots, including 3-of-4 from three. But all anyone wanted to talk about was his LeBron kicks.

With Walker and others out for the Spurs, Johnson found the ball in his hands a lot, but it was his defensive effort the Spurs coaching staff — and Johnson himself — liked.

“Defense comes first, then offense will come,” said Johnson, who had questions about his defense going into the draft. “Today I felt I was more assertive and more aggressive, which I felt translated on the offensive end.”

“Expecting that [level of offense] every day is a lot, but I thought he was good,” Spurs Summer League coach Blake Ahearn said. “He made some plays.”

Among those plays was the shot of the night, this half-courter at the buzzer.

The Spurs needed Johnson to step up with all the guys resting, and he did. That’s a good start for the rookie.

• Players who have had even a taste of NBA-level basketball often have a level of competence that means they just take over a Summer League game.

Case in point, Jazz big man Tony Bradley — the No. 28 pick back in 2017, who spent most of last season playing well for Utah in the G-League but has had played in a dozen NBA games — had probably the best night of anyone in Salt Lake Tuesday.

Bradley had 26 points on 9-of-13 shooting, pulled down 16 rebounds, and Cavaliers coach John Beilein credited him for making the Cavaliers miss a lot of shots at the rim.

“After the season, [Jazz coaches] gave me a few things to work on: defensive rebounding, communicating on defense, and being loud…” Bradley said. “I think I’ve done a better job.”

He’s done an impressive job so far.

• Along those same lines, Cleveland’s Naz Mitrou-Long has had a couple of cups of coffee in the NBA — 15 games total, he was on a two-way contract with the Jazz last season — but that little bit of experience and the touch of class he brings was evident in the first two games with the Cavaliers. He had 16 points and 8 assists in the first game on Monday, and 17 points in the second game.

“Experience is definitely the best teacher,” Mitrou-Long said. “I’ve been through this twice now, this is my third time. Especially being in this building, very comfortable here. So it’s something that definitely plays a big role.”

• Spurs Summer League legend Jeff Ledbetter showed out on Tuesday night, scoring 15 points on 5-of-10 shooting from three.

Ledbetter, 31, stands out in Summer League because of his smart play, hustle, shooting — and because he’s on the Spurs Summer League team seemingly every year. He’s not an NBA guy, he has spent the last three seasons with the Spurs G-League team and may do that again, or may go to Europe and bank a little cash. He’s a guy a lot of overseas teams could use.

Whatever happens with him next season, if he’s not back with the Spurs for Summer League next year it will be weird.

• The alley-oop of the day belonged to Utah second-round pick Justin Write-Foreman, who has some hops (and 20 points on the night).

Honorable mention in this category goes to the Spurs Thomas Robinson (yes, that Thomas Robinson).

• Spurs first-round pick Luka Samanic once again showed he has a good feel for the game, once again showed his three-point range (although he hesitated on a couple he should have pulled the trigger on), and displayed some deft passing skills. Also once again showed he’s just got to get stronger — three times over two days he tried to drive and dunk on someone only to get rejected. He got pushed around a few other times on defense. There’s a lot to like, but he’s a project.

Notes from first night of Salt Lake Summer League

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SALT LAKE CITY — At Summer League in Salt Lake, all anyone could talk about was… Kawhi Leonard. Like every other NBA fan. Jazz fans rightfully watched the moves their team made this offseason and saw themselves as threats to win the West, but the whispers of a Lakers’ three-man superteam has them spooked.

Oh, and there was actual basketball. Played by a few guys who will be on NBA rosters next season, and a lot of guys trying to make that dream a reality. Here’s my notebook out of the first night of games in beautiful Utah.

• Cleveland may have something in Dylan Windler.

Judging a player on one Summer League game is like judging a burger joint after tasting one French fry. Summer League openers at best give us the start of a baseline off which to judge players. That said, Windler turned a few heads on his way to 19 points on 8-of-14 shooting, including 3-of-8 from three. The shooting itself wasn’t a surprise, that’s why he got drafted No. 26 out of Belmont.

Rather, it was his feel for the game and playmaking that was more unexpected.

“I just like the way he moves,” Cavs coach John Beilein said. “He instinctively has a really good feel for the game. Seems to make the game somewhat easier, just finding the open man.”

With Cavaliers’ rookie guards Darius Garland and Kevin Porter Jr. out for Salt Lake City, Windler had the ball in his hands a lot more as a shot creator. They ran the offense through him for long stretches, with Beilein saying he wanted to see how Windler handled it. He acquitted himself well, although there were some tough lessons to be learned — twice had a defender just snuff his pass as it came out of his hands. This isn’t the Ohio Valley Conference anymore, he can’t just throw the ball over the top of guys.

“I need to be more sound on the ball for sure,” Windler said. “Coming off the pick-and-rolls they did a good job getting into me, so I need to be a little craftier with that….

“Everybody on the floor, we’re all pros now, there’s no weak links, there’s no guy you can just keep attacking… the pace of play is different, and just the spacing of the floor is a lot different.”

Welcome to adjusting to the NBA style of game. Summer League is like NBA lite — the talent and athleticism is not the same, teams aren’t nearly as dialed in, but what Windler saw in Salt Lake City Monday was a step up from what he has faced in the past. That’s why his strong performance was impressive.

“I think he’s one of those guys who will make everybody better by giving you the space, or just making the simple, easy pass to the next open man,” Beilein said.

• San Antonio would love for Lonnie Walker IV to step up and give them quality minutes this coming season.

A second-year player who can do that should be the best player on the court in a Summer League game, and Walker was that, scoring 20 points on 8-of-12 shooting and using bursts of his athleticism to make plays. That said, his performance was a little hit and miss. He said he felt comfortable out on the court this summer.

“Just knowing where everybody is, taking better shots, feeling comfortable with my shots, and just knowing a lot more things,” Walker said. “Going into my rookie year, there were a lot of things I thought I knew I really didn’t know. This time, I have a lot of things [moving] like in slow motion, it’s more comfortable, and I could stay in my rhythm.”

That rhythm includes the fact Walker does not fear the pull-up midrange shot, and he drained a couple nice ones. That shot might get him in trouble on some teams, but he plays for the Spurs, so it just fit right in.

• A lot of names hoops fans might know were drafted by the four teams in Salt Lake City but are not suiting up due to injuries. The Grizzlies drafted Ja Morant second overall, but he had his knee scoped and may play in Las Vegas but not here. Also, Brandon Clarke for the Grizzlies is not playing. For Cleveland, Darius Garland (the No. 5 pick) is not playing in Salt Lake as they are careful with his knee, and No. 30 pick Kevin Porter Jr. is out, too.

• For the home Utah Jazz, second-round pick Jarrell Brantley had a nice night with 11 points, 4 rebounds (8 personal fouls)… and one serious blocked shot.

Drafted No. 50 out of the University of Charleston, Brantley was a guy who turned heads at the Portsmouth Invitational and impressed enough in workouts to get drafted. The knock was he’s not an explosive athlete, but that blocked shot made me question that a little.

• On his first drive to the rim, Spurs draftee Luka Samanic took a good first step, put his shoulder down and muscled his way to the rim, but then struggled to finish against length on the contest.

For a lot of players, that is a tough adjustment at the NBA level — the guys trying to block your shot at the rim are taller, longer, and more athletic.

• Things got better for Samanic, he picked up his first bucket in the second quarter when he pump faked at the arc, drove to his left and finished at the rim through a little contact (from a guard, but still).

Samanic finished with 11 points on 4-of-7 shooting, looking raw but the kind of raw the Spurs turn into a dangerous player in a few years.

• Thomas Robinson, the former No. 5 overall pick of the Kings in 2012 who has been out of the league for a couple of years now, is playing for the Spurs trying to earn his way back into the league. He had 8 points on 2-of-3 shooting in limited minutes.

• Spurs second-round draft pick Quinndary Weatherspoon had a couple of nice drives to the rim where he showed some athleticism and strength, then the touch to finish. He needs to get stronger, but an interesting player.

2019 NBA Draft pick-by-pick tracker with analysis of selections, trades

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Buckle up, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

The NBA Draft saw the trade of the No. 4 pick — twice — plus the No. 6 and 11 picks before the New Orleans Pelicans were even on the clock for the No. 1 pick. Listening to the buzz around the league, expect a lot more first-round trades, especially when we get into the 20s. It’s going to be a crazy night.

We will be on top of it all night long.

Here is a breakdown of every pick, every trade — complete with analysis of how that player fits (or doesn’t) with his new surroundings.

 
Pelicans small icon No. 1. New Orleans Pelicans: Zion Williamson, 6’7” forward, Duke. The highest rated prospect out of college since Anthony Davis for many scouts, Williamson can be the cornerstone the Pelicans need to rebuild post-Davis. Williamson is a ridiculous athlete, strong, can leap out of the building, but also shows a point guard’s feel for the game and he defends very well. His shot is improved but he’s got to be more consistent and he needs to add range, however, with his work ethic it should come along. What some scouts like best: He plays hard, he doesn’t just coast on all that natural talent.

 
Grizzlies small icon No. 2. Memphis Grizzlies: Ja Morant, 6’3” point guard, Murray State. The Grizzlies are banking on him to be their point guard of the future (especially with Mike Conley traded to Utah). He’s an explosive athlete, has a tremendous handle, impressive court vision and he knows how to make every pass you can think of. He’s got to improve his jump shot to avoid being another athletic point guard that defenders just go under the pick against. He was asked to score a lot in college, he needs to show a more rounded game at the next level.

 
Knicks small icon No. 3. New York Knicks: R.J. Barrett, 6’7” wing, Duke. With all the talent on the Blue Devils roster last season, Barrett was the guy Coach K ran the offense through, which says something. He had an incredibly efficient season: better than 22 points, seven rebounds and four assists in a game, and as Sam Vecenie of the Athletic said, the last guy with those numbers in college was Penny Hardaway. How his game fits in the NBA, where he will play more of a role, will be the test, but he has the potential to be a wing in New York for many years.

 
Hawks small icon No. 4. Atlanta Hawks (via Lakers and Pelicans): De’Andre Hunter, 6’8” wing, Virginia. This pick was traded twice, and while the Lakers are making it is ultimately being done for the Hawks so we will list it that way. One of the best defensive players in this draft, he’s got good athleticism, he’s physical and long at 6’8” with a 7’2” wingspan. He’s not going to be a future superstar, but what he can be is a quality starter/rotation player who is a defensive stopper and can knock down threes (better than 45 percent from deep this season). He is a willing role player who can help a team as a rookie.

 
Cavaliers small icon No. 5. Cleveland Cavaliers: Darius Garland, 6’3” point guard, Vanderbilt. He only played in five games in college due to a knee injury, still teams love his potential as a shot creator and shooter. He’s got impressive handles, plays at different speeds to create space, has a good pull-up jumper, and has potential to effectively run an offense. He has got to limit the turnovers at the NBA level, and he’s a bit of a project, but there is a lot of potential here. Cleveland likes the idea of Garland and Collin Sexton as a backcourt with two ball handlers (in the Portland mold with Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, although that is a lofty goal).

 
No. 6. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Suns): Jarrett Culver, 6’6” wing, Texas Tech. This pick was traded earlier in the day from Phoenix to Minnesota (even though Culver had to put on a Suns hat at the draft) A player that teams fell in love with after working him out. Culver certainly passes the eye test for an NBA wing, he has shown a nice jump shot, he can put the ball on the floor and get inside, and he plays a high IQ game. You’re not going to find a guy with a better feel for the game in this draft. The primary concern has been he’s not an explosive, elite athlete and on the wing in the NBA that’s what he’s going to be up against nightly. But he’s got the skills to make waves in the NBA.

 
Bulls small icon No. 7. Chicago Bulls: Coby White, 6’5” guard, North Carolina. Chicago wanted a young point guard and it got its man. A point guard who shot up draft boards this past season. White is lightning quick and used that and a good jumper to score, but he’s become an improved playmaker the more he played in college (his decision making still needs to improve, but he’s on the right track). He’s impressive in transition and loves to push the ball, but in any setting when he gets playing downhill he’s hard to stop. Can play the one or the two.

 
Pelicans small icon No. 8. New Orleans Pelicans (via Hawks): Jaxson Hayes, 7’0” center, Texas. A late bloomer who still needs a lot of polish, he has the tools and potential to be a prototypical defense-first, rim-running NBA center (think DeAndre Jordan style). Hayes is incredibly athletic, runs the floor well, and he has shown good instincts on both ends of the court. That said, he’s raw. This is a development project for the Pelicans and the team and fans need to be patient. That said, him at the five and Zion at the four would be a wildly athletic frontline.

 
Wizards small icon No. 9. Washington Wizards: Rui Hachimura, 6’8” forward, Gonzaga. He’s averaged 20.1 points a game on 62.1 percent shooting, and he’s the guy a very good Gonzaga team ran everything through. Hachimura overpowered players at the college level and went often to his spin move, but he’s got to grow his game at the next level. He doesn’t shoot the three with any confidence (he took just one a game), his handles need work, as does his defense. The talent is there, he needs to develop it.

 
Hawks small icon No. 10. Atlanta Hawks: Cam Reddish, 6’8” wing, Duke. One of the more divisive guys in the draft, he was all over different teams draft boards. He is an explosive and fluid athlete, he can space the floor as a shooter, he’s long and can defend, and he can create a little off the dribble (although his handle needs work). Yet in college, he was a bit passive and showed all that potential only in flashes. His backers believe he’ll be better in an NBA system where the spacing is better (not everyone believes that). He needs to get stronger.

 
Suns small icon No. 11. Phoenix Suns (via Timberwolves): Cameron Johnson 6’9” forward, North Carolina. Our first real surprise, this is higher than many expected him to be taken, but shooters have value. And Johnson is one of the best pure shooters in this draft (46.5 percent from three last season), and the Suns can certainly use that. He works off the ball and knows how to get in position for shots, and he didn’t flinch in big moments for the Tar Heels (23 against Duke in the ACC Tournament). There are questions about his defense and durability.

 
Hornets small icon No. 12. Charlotte Hornets: P.J. Washington, 6’8” forward, Kentucky. Not a guy that blows you away with elite athleticism (despite a reported 43-inch vertical), but has a 7’3” wingspan, is physical in the paint, can defend multiple positions, and plays a high IQ game that opposing coaches have said make him tough to go against. You can see a stretch four in his game, Washington shot 41.9 percent from three. A bit of a project but a guy who improved a lot last season, a good sign.

 
Heat small icon No. 13. Miami Heat: Tyler Herro, 6’6” shooting guard, Kentucky. He’s a very good shooter — both catch-and-shoot and coming off screens on the move — and that is a skill that will serve him well in Miami, where floor spacing matters. He has handles, can run some pick and roll, but he’s not a guy who blows you away with his length and athleticism. If he puts in the work to hone his skills he could have a long career in the NBA filling a floor-spacing role.

 
Celtics small icon No. 14. Boston Celtics (via Kings): Romeo Langford, 6’6” wing, Indiana. He didn’t live up to the (unreasonable) hype in Indiana, but he played this the season with a torn ligament in his shooting hand, a back issue, and some other assorted minor injuries. He still showed flashes as a playmaker, but he needs to show that his shooting woes in college (27.2 percent from three) was about the thumb and nothing else. He also needs to show a little more explosiveness to be a shot creator at the NBA level. Still, should become a solid rotation player at the very least.

Pistons small icon No. 15. Detroit Pistons: Sekou Doumbouya, 6’9” forward, France. He is built like an NBA forward (222 pounds) and has all the physical tools, but he’s going to be a project coming out of the top French league. He is active and physical on defense, and on offense he can play in transition but has work to do on his shot and fitting into the NBA game. A lot of potential here if Detroit can develop it.

 
Magic small icon No. 16. Orlando Magic: Chuma Okeke, 6’8” forward, Auburn. A surprise pick, this is much higher than most had him going (a late first/early second round kind of guy). He’s a good defender across multiple positions, and his shot has improved, making him a potential quality role player in the NBA. However, he comes with a massive question mark: He’s out right now with a torn ACL (and will miss part of the upcoming season), how will he bounce back from that? This is not an elite athlete already and he can’t afford to lose a step. A gamble taking him this high by Orlando.

 
Pelicans small icon No. 17. New Orleans Pelicans (via Nets, Hawks): Nickeil Alexander-Walker, 6’5” guard, Virginia Tech. He’s not an explosive athlete, but he’s a smart one who learned how to let the game come to him and manage it well. He can shoot the rock (nearly 40 percent from three), is an improved playmaker off the pick-and-roll, a good rebounder for a guard, and is steady. His defense at the NBA level is the big question. There is an NBA rotation swingman in his game if he works at it, and he fits with the young core being built in New Orleans.

 
Pacers small icon No. 18. Indiana Pacers: Goga Bitadze, 6’11” center, Georgia (the nation). He’s a very skilled big man who has shown that he can succeed at the highest levels of European basketball. He has an improving jump shot, can score around the rim, and in Europe was an impressive shot blocker. Also, he’s just 20 years old, so there is a lot of room to grow still.

 
Spurs small icon No. 19. San Antonio Spurs:Luka Samanic, 6’11” forward/center, Croatia. This is a very Spurs pick. Samanic helped himself with a very strong NBA Draft Combine and workouts since then. He has shown a lot of skill and a good basketball IQ, but he is also raw and a project big. He does not want to do that developing with another season in Europe, he wants to come to the NBA now. He landed with one of the best player development teams in the NBA.

WE HAVE A TRADE: Boston sends the No. 20 pick to in-division rival Philadelphia for the No. 24 and 33 picks.

 
Sixers small icon No. 20. Philadelphia 76ers: Matisse Thybulle, 6’5” wing, Washington. There was a trade just before the pick, Philly gets Thybulle for the No. 24 and 33 picks, which are now Boston’s. Maybe the best wing defender in this draft, Thybulle is a potential defensive stopper, the guy you throw on the best perimeter player of the other team and know the job will get done. The kind of player coaches love. Thybulle gets steals, he blocks shots well for a guard, and he’s not just good on ball he’s a smart help defender. On offense, he can shoot the ball but doesn’t really seek out his own shot. He needs to be more consistent on that end.

WE HAVE A TRADE: Oklahoma City sends the No. 21 pick to Memphis for the No. 23 pick and future second rounder.

 
Grizzlies small icon No. 21. Memphis Grizzlies: Brandon Clarke, 6’8” forward, Gonzaga. This pick was just traded before it was announced to Memphis, with OKC gets the No. 23 pick and a future second rounder. Scouts love Clarke’s defense, a forward who can guard both the three and the four, can switch onto guards, blocks shots, and plays with a high motor. He’s also scored 17 points a game very efficiently, which helped his draft status, although his handle and jumper still need work to be NBA ready.

 
Celtics small icon No. 22. Boston Celtics: Grant Williams, 6’7” power forward, Tennessee. A little higher than some expected him to go, but Celtics’ fans will love him. Williams is a physical, nasty player, something coach Brad Stevens will like. He is solid from the midrange and can hit the three well enough that defenders have to respect it (but that percentage needs to go up). That said, his game is really playing some bully ball around the rim. He is strong and plays smart angles down on the block. How he fits in the NBA game is a question worth asking, but he plays hard and those kinds of guys are the ones coaches love to have around for culture reasons, beyond just minutes played.

 
Thunder small icon No. 23. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Jazz, Grizzlies): Darius Bazley, 6’9” forward. He did not play anywhere last season (first he was going to Syracuse, then the G-League, then nada), he’s raw, and he needs to get a lot stronger. With those concerns, this is still a potential high upside pick at this spot, He has the potential to be a guy who can defend multiple positions, knock down shots, and even put the ball on the floor a little and create shots. However, he is very much a project and a long way from that, the Thunder need to be patient in developing him.

WE HAVE A TRADE: The Celtics are sending the pick they just traded for minutes ago from Philly to Phoenix, and the Suns are taking on big man Aron Baynes in that deal (a guy Boston wanted to move for salary reasons).

 
Suns small icon No. 24. Phoenix Suns (via 76ers, Celtics): Ty Jerome, 6’6” combo guard, Virginia. Front office sources I spoke with thought Jerome could be a great pick in the 20s, they all were high on him. Jerome is a good shooter who can walk on the court tomorrow and hit NBA threes, he has good size for his position, he plays smart and he plays hard. This is not a high upside pick, and he likely will struggle defensively, but at this point in the draft the Suns get a player who can help them right now with some spot minutes off the bench, and he could develop into a nice role player that sticks in the league for many years.

 
Blazers small icon No. 25. Portland Trail Blazers: Nasir Little, 6’6” wing, North Carolina. His stock dropped over the course of the college season and that was evident on draft night as a guy projected top 10 at the start of the season (top five on some boards) fell this far. He’s a polarizing player amongst scouts. His backers note his athleticism, his toughness, and the improved outside shooting he has shown in workouts. However, his shot was inconsistent during the season, his defense iffy, and he just struggled to fit in and show a feel for the game with the Tar Heels. Maybe the NBA game will fit him better.

 
Cavaliers small icon No. 26. Cleveland Cavaliers: Dylan Windler, 6’8” small forward, Belmont. He could develop into a good role player on the perimeter in the NBA. Windler shot 42 percent from three last year but also can score inside off drives. He’s got a 6’10” wingspan and moves well, which means he could become a solid defender. He rebounds well also. He needs to get stronger and tighten his game up, but there is potential here.

WE HAVE A TRADE: The Clippers wanted to move into the late first round and they have, picking up Brooklyn’s No. 27 pick. Brooklyn gets the 2020 first round pick belonging to Philadelphia (Los Angeles had it via the Tobias Harris trade) and the 56th pick in this draft. That clears more cap space for the Nets heading into free agency.

 
Clippers small icon No. 27. Los Angeles Clippers: Mfiondu Kabengele, 6’10” center, Florida State. He’s a late bloomer with an upward trajectory, both during his sophomore season and during workouts for teams after the Draft Combine. He is a project but one with great potential because of his athleticism and the feel he showed for the game (he was incredibly efficient as a Seminole). He can defend the rim on one end and score around it on the other, he could be a good small ball big in a few years.

 
Warriors small icon No. 28. Golden State Warriors: Jordan Poole, 6’6” combo guard, Michigan. While he has the size and athleticism to be an NBA guard, he’s a project. His handles show flashes but he gets sloppy, his shooting has range but is not consistent enough, he’s got to get a lot stronger, and some question his grit. He could develop into an NBA two guard. He’s very likely going to have to spend time in the G-League to develop, does he love the game enough to put in all the work it will take to get to the NBA? He couldn’t have landed in a better spot.

 
Spurs small icon No. 29. San Antonio Spurs: Keldon Johnson, 6’6” wing, Kentucky. A good athlete who is fantastic in transition, or any time he can get playing downhill because he is a classic slasher. He also has a solid jump shot, and he brings a lot of toughness and versatility to the court. He’s not a shot creator, however. He’s got to get better defensively, but there is a role for him in the NBA.

WE HAVE A TRADE: The Bucks are sending the final pick of the first round to the Cavaliers, reportedly for four second-round picks and cash.

 
Cavaliers small icon No. 30. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Bucks): Kevin Porter Jr., 6’6” guard, USC. He’s a gamble, but less of one at this point in the draft and is a good bet by the Cavs. The talent is not the question, he has the tools to be a shot creator at the NBA level with his handles and stepback jumper. He’s got the athleticism and the ability to finish around the rim. The questions are everything else: The suspension at USC when they went to Oregon, the mysterious leg ailment that sat him for two months, and a string of odd situations.

SECOND ROUND

 
Nets small icon No. 31. Brooklyn Nets (via Knicks): Nic Claxton, 7’0” center, Georgia (the university). A late bloomer and a bit of a project, but he has a lot of potential, especially defensively. He is a fluid athlete who has some versatility to his game, in part because he has legit handles (he could rebound the ball and bring it up himself). That said he is raw offensively and struggles to finish and score. He has got to get stronger and add muscle. A lot of upside with Claxton, but it will take work and time to bring that out.

WE HAVE A TRADE: The Pacers, who had the rights to the No. 32 pick after a trade today with the Suns, are trading that pick again on to Miami for three second rounders.

 
Heat small icon No. 32. Miami Heat: KZ Okpala, 6’10” forward, Stanford. A late bloomer with impressive physical tools, he improved enough over this time at Stanford to jump up draft boards. He’s can shoot from the perimeter, put the ball on the floor, has impressive body control when he goes to finish, and he has great defensive potential. The challenge becomes just how raw he is, this is a project for Miami but at this point in the draft it’s a good risk to take.

 
Celtics small icon No. 33. Boston Celtics: Carsen Edwards, 6’0” guard, Purdue. He’s going to have a role in the NBA because he can flat out shoot the rock. Just as importantly, he can knock it down off the bounce or off the catch. He has point guard size but Purdue used him mostly like a two-guard coming off a bunch of screens to get open and shoot (think J.J. Redick sets). He’s not a good playmaker, he can’t run an NBA team right now, and his size makes him a potential defensive liability, but he can shoot and plays hard. That will keep him in the NBA for years.

 
Hawks small icon No. 34. Atlanta Hawks (via 76ers: Bruno Fernando, 6’10” center, Maryland. This pick was traded from Philadelphia to Atlanta just before it was made for three future second rounders. Fernando is a big man who can sprint the floor and rim run, sets good picks, can roll to the basket, and defensively is a big body in the paint who can block a few shots and alter more. In the modern NBA there is a role for this kind of center, but it’s shrinking, he needs to develop a midrange jumper at the least to stay on the court and have real value at the next level. That said, he can play a role and quickly in the NBA off the bench as he develops.

 
Pelicans small icon No. 35. New Orleans Pelicans: Marco Louzada Silva, 6’6″ forward, Brazil. First big surprise of the second round, he was not on a lot of boards. Mike Schmidt of ESPN compared his hard-nosed style of game to Josh Hart, but it’s one thing to do that in the Brazilian league and another in the NBA. At age 19, this is likely a draft and stash in Europe.

 
Hornets small icon No. 36. Charlotte Hornets: Cody Martin, 6’6″ wing, Nevada. A good athlete, plays hard, can play at the two or three, the real concern has been his shot. While it has looked better of late — and apparently impressed the Hornets — there were real concerns about how sustainable his recent improvement has been. If he can shoot, this could be a good pick up.

Pistons small icon No. 37. Detroit Pistons: Deividas Sirvydis, 6’8” forward, Lithuania. Dallas traded this pick to the Pistons just before the selection was made. Sirvydis can shoot the rock, plays a smart game, just turned 19, and that potential has the Pistons willing to roll the dice on him. He’s played well in Europe and internationally, but he could be a draft-and-stash guy giving him more time to develop.

 
Bulls small icon No. 38. Chicago Bulls: Daniel Gafford, 6’11” center, Arkansas. He’s athletic but a bit of rim-running center because he does not have a jump shot but is a decent finisher around the rim. He blocks shots but was not the force on the boards he could be. He’s not a good low post player on offense. If he is mature and puts in the work on his game he can be a pick-and-roll center in the league, but he needs to get a lot stronger to do that.

 
Warriors small icon No. 39. Golden State Warriors: Alen Smailagic, 6’10” center, Serbia/Santa Cruz Warriors. The Pelicans traded this pick to the Warriors just before it was made, and Golden State wanted one of the guys it has groomed in the G-League. Smailagic entered the G-League at 18 and held his own, which is a good sign. He’s raw but shows potential on the defensive end that the Warriors want to continue to develop (maybe still in the G-League).

 
Kings small icon 40. Sacramento Kings: Justin James, 6’7″ wing, Wyoming. He was the offense for the Cowboys, and his ability to shoot on the move coming off picks could translate to the NBA, but he needs to be more consistent as a shooter. The biggest concern is he needs to get a lot stronger to play in the NBA, he’s not overpowering the Mountain West anymore.

 
Warriors small icon No. 41. Golden State Warriors: Eric Paschall, 6’7” forward, Villanova. A potential NBA role player: He’s athletic, already has an NBA body, he has good elevation on a jump shot that has come together, and he’s a switchable defender who can guard twos through fours. Also, he comes out of the Villanova system so coaches trust he’s learned how to play the right way. He is a guy who can contribute right away, something the Warriors could use.

 
Wizards small icon No. 42. Washington Wizards (via 76ers): Admiral Schofield, 6’5” small forward, Tennessee. He can space the floor, he shot 41.8 percent from three last season, plus he has an NBA-ready body and a tremendous work ethic. Those atributes could make him a solid NBA role player down the line. There are questions about his ability to defend at the NBA level, but the shooting makes him an interesting prospect.

 
No. 43. Minnesota Timberwolves: Jaylen Nowell, 6’4″ guard, Washington. A shoot-first guard (something the Kings already have on the roster) but he tends to make good decisions on which shots to take. He’s skilled. He’s also undersized for who he will be asked to guard in the NBA, and there are questions about his defense in general. A guy who could figure it out and become an NBA role player.

 
Nuggets small icon No. 44. Denver Nuggets: Bol Bol, 7’3” center, Oregon. Denver traded for this pick from Miami just before it was made. There was a lot of hype early on about the son of Manute Bol, but that turned into a lot of trepidation heading into the draft and is the reason he fell all the way to the middle of the second round. The potential is unquestioned — he is one of the better outside shooters in this class at any height, plus he moves well and is a good shot blocker. But he is coming off a broken foot, he’s got to get a lot stronger to play inside in the NBA, and most concerning of all are questions about his work ethic and love of the game. At this point, a good gamble by the Nuggets.

 
Mavericks small icon No. 45. Dallas Mavericks (via Pistons): Isaiah Roby, 6’9” power forward, Nebraska. A developmental project who could become a potential role player in the NBA. He passes the eye test for an NBA power forward and he’s solid at a lot of things — scoring, rebounding, he works hard off the ball — but he needs to be more consistent at all of it and make better decisions. He’s also got to get a lot stronger. That said, there’s an NBA player in there.

 
Lakers small icon No. 46. Los Angeles Lakers (via Magic). Talen Horton-Tucker, 6’4” guard, Iowa State. This pick was traded to the Lakers just before it was made. Horton-Tucker. climbed up draft boards during the season because of his versatility and potential. He’s got a good feel for the game, is physically strong, and can pass. The concern is his shot, he hit just 40.6 percent of his attempts overall and 30.8 percent from three. If his shot can come around, there is a role for him in the NBA.

 
Knicks small icon No. 47. New York Knicks (via Kings): Ignas Brazdeikis, 6’7” power forward, Michigan. He has the shooting touch to play in the NBA — he can hit threes, score inside and finish with either hand, plus he’s got a good midrange game — the question is will he be athletic enough to hang at the next level. There is potential as a stretch four, but the lack of athleticism leads to questions about his defense and who he would guard. Not a bad gamble at this point.

 
Clippers small icon No. 48. Los Angeles Clippers: Terence Mann, 6’6″ wing, Florida State. He’s a good defensive guard who has shown some ball handling and playmaking skills on the other end. He had a strong senior season but needs to be more aggressive on offense and disciplined on defense to stick at the next level.

 
Spurs small icon No. 49. San Antonio Spurs: Quinndary Weatherspoon, 6’4″ shooting guard, Misissippi State. A slashing combo guard who can take the contact and get to the free throw line, or can pull up and knock down the jumper. Just not consistently enough. Needs to limit his turnovers at the next level, but he plays hard and is a good gamble at this point in the draft.

 
Jazz small icon No. 50. Utah Jazz (via Pacers): Jarrell Brantley, 6’7″ forward, University of Charleston. He turned some heads at the Portsmouth Invitational, which helped him get drafted. He’s strong and plays a smart game, but he’s not an explosive athlete playing a position that is loaded with guys who are at the NBA level. Utah is one of the best development programs in the NBA, he will get the chance to prove he can play at the next level.

 
Celtics small icon No. 51. Boston Celtics: Tremont Waters, 5’11” point guard, LSU. He’s got all the skills teams want in a point guard, but he’s undersized (5’9.5” without shoes) and probably not athletic enough to make up for that. He’s got great handles, knows how to come off a high pick and either pull up and score or make a good decision, and he could just score. He’s likely a liability defensively, he has to prove he’s so important on the other end it does not matter. Still a good gamble at this point in the draft.

 
Hornets small icon No. 52. Charlotte Hornets: Jalen McDaniels, 6’10 forward, San Diego State. He’s long, athletic, plays hard, and has real potential as a guy who can defend multiple positions. He’s either going to have to learn to shoot a lot better to play the three or add a lot of muscle to play more in the paint in the NBA, right now he’s just not good enough at either.

 
Jazz small icon No. 53. Utah Jazz: Justin Wright-Foreman, 6’1″ guard, Hofstra. The man can get buckets. He had to do everything at Hofstra and he did — drive to the rim, hit stepbacks, knock down threes, come off screens, whatever it took. He can score. The question becomes, can he be a playmaker and defend will enough to play in the NBA. There are questions, but the Jazz know how to develop guys who he gets a real chance.

 
Sixers small icon No. 54. Philadelphia 76ers: Marial Shayok, 6’6″ wing, Iowa State. The man has shooting range, and he can do it off the bounce or on a catch-and-shoot. He’s a decent enough athlete and defender for the NBA level. He’s a senior who blossomed his last year, making teams wonder how much he will improve from here. That said, taking a shooter this deep in the draft is never a bad pick.

 
Kings small icon 55. Sacramento Kings (via Knicks): Kyle Guy, 6’2″ point guard, Virginia. One of the heros of Virginia’s run to a national title, but teams were surprised he stayed in the draft. He’s considered a little one note for the NBA, and his shooting is not consistent enough for the next level. However, he’s a feisty player and the Kings have the room on the roster to develop guys like this.

 
Nets small icon No. 56. Brooklyn Nets (via Clippers): Jaylen Hands, 6’3″ point guard, UCLA. He has good shooting range and he led the Pac-12 in assists last season. He was a top-20 recruit out of high school and has NBA-level athleticism. However, he’s got to learn to be a real floor general, be a more consistent shooter, and defend better than he showed as a Bruin to stick in the NBA.

Pistons small icon No. 57. Detroit Pistons (via Pelicans, Hawks): Jordan Bone, 6’3″ point guard, Tennessee. This is the kind of good gamble to take late in the NBA Draft. Bone has the physical tools of an NBA point guard and is plenty athletic. However, his decision making needs a lot of work, both in terms of shots taken and passes thrown. The Pistons can pick him here, guide him into the G-League, and see if they can improve that decision making and turn him into an NBA player.

 
Jazz small icon No. 58. Utah Jazz (via Warriors): Miye Oni, 6’6″ wing, Yale. He’s long, he has good shooting range, and he plays a gritty game. That sounds like a Jazz player. There’s a lot of development to do for Oni, but Utah is the perfect team for that and they can take their time to bring him along and see if they can turn him into an NBA role player.

 
Raptors small icon No. 59. Toronto Raptors: Dewan Hernandez, 6’10” center, University of Miami. Hernandez did not play last season due to travails ith the NCAA. He’s an athletic big man who plays hard and has shown a good scoring touch around the basket. He’s going to have to develop a jumper and some shooting range, and become a better rim/paint protector to stick in the NBA.

 
Kings small icon 60. Sacramento Kings (via Bucks): Vanja Marinkovic, 6’6″ wing, Serbia. He shot 41 percent from three last season in Europe playing for Partizan in Belgrade (the Adriatic League). If he can develop his defense and playmaking skills, maybe we will see him in the NBA someday, but most likely he is just a draft-and-stash.

2019 NBA draft tiers: Zion Williamson then Ja Morant then everyone else

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How this works:

Draft for need or take the best player available?

It’s the question as old as drafts themselves. Personally, I favor the middle-of-the-road approach – the tier system. I judge prospects on three attributes:

  • Current ability
  • Potential
  • Likelihood of meeting that potential

Obviously, assessing those attributes is not easy. It’s really hard.

That’s why I don’t like taking the best prospect – based on all three criteria – available. It’s just too difficult to split hairs between players with so many variables.

But overly considering fit is problematic for the same reason. Rosters churn, and it’s foolish to pass on a clearly better prospect – in the cases that becomes clear – just because he doesn’t fit the current version of the team.

So how does the tier system work?

Divide players into tiers based on their value regardless of fit. Don’t worry about differentiating prospects with nearly identical values. Find natural cutoffs.

Then, within each tier, rank the players based on fit for the specific drafting team.

Theoretically, a draft could have anywhere between 1 and 60 tiers. A 1-tier draft would mean every prospect – from the top pick to Mr. Irrelevant – holds the same value. A 60-tier draft would mean every prospect is clearly distinguishable based on value. Obviously, neither is likely.

The size of tiers should be organic, and therefore, the number of tiers is also organic. Naturally, tiers tend to be smaller near the top of the draft, where lines between players are sharper.

Within each tier, I rank players as if the drafting teams had empty rosters. Obviously, actual NBA teams would need to consider other information when assessing fit of players within a tier.

Here are the 11 tiers necessary to cover the first round of the 2019 NBA draft:

Tier 1

1. Zion Williamson, PF, Duke

Williamson is the best prospect since Anthony Davis. At 6-foot-7 and 285 pounds with jaw-dropping explosiveness, Williamson has a unique physical profile. He’s an amazing finisher, especially in transition. Williamson’s ability to create – for himself and others – off the dribble is stunning for a player his size. He’s so nimble. He can also post up smaller defenders. One way or another, he’s getting to the rim. And once he arrives, his dunks are thunderous. He applies all his incredible athleticism defensively, too. Williamson has excellent timing as a rim protector. He terrorizes passing lanes. He even moves well on the perimeter. His outside shooting and passing are still developing – which makes it scary a player so productive has such clear pathways to improvement.

Tier 2

2. Ja Morant, PG, Murray State

Morant took over games at Murray State. He’s a dynamic ball-handler and passer, skills he puts to great use while shifting speeds – including into an exceptionally quick turbo gear – and showing tremendous agility. Morant’s shooting has become solid, and it appears headed toward getting even better. I have some questions about the level of competition he faced, but he thoroughly dominated it as you’d hope a high-end prospect would. Morant needs work defensively. Reduced offensive responsibility would help on the other end, but it won’t solve everything.

Tier 3

3. Darius Garland, PG, Vanderbilt

Garland played just five games as a freshman before suffering a season-ending knee injury. He’s a smooth shooter from mid-range and beyond the arc – with the ball-handling, footwork and balance to get those shots off quickly. Beyond long-term health concerns, the big drawback of his injury is losing time to develop as a distributor. Garland has shown nice flashes, but his court vision needs work. As does his finishing. He’s not much of a defender, either. Point guards often need time to develop as facilitators. Young players – Garland is 19 – often need time to get stronger. As Garland naturally develops and fills out, he could become a better passer, finisher and defender.

4. R.J. Barrett, SF, Duke

Barrett profiles as a go-to offensive player. He’s an athletic driver who’s quite comfortable amid physicality. He can run pick-and-rolls, both for himself and to set up teammates. His playmaking is strong for his size. In so many ways, he’s advanced for his age. I’m just not sold – with his subpar shooting, uneven decision-making and left-handed dominance – he’ll handle a leading role on a good team. There are too many noteworthy flaws to expose. Barrett not capitalizing on his impressive defensive tools is also concerning. Barrett is younger and better than Garland right now. But, due to the nature of their shortcomings, it’s slightly easier to see Garland progressing into a top-level NBA player.

Tier 4

5. Coby White, PG, North Carolina

White’s speed shines in transition. He pushes the pace, compromises defenses and takes advantage. He can pass on the move. He can stop on a dime. He can pull up for jumpers. In the halfcourt, he doesn’t hold up as well. He dribbles into trouble and is still learning how to be a natural point guard after spending more time as a scoring guard. He struggles to shoot off the dribble. But he’s a knockdown spot-up shooter with off-ball skills, which lends itself to creative backcourt pairings. White can attack in transition then let someone else run the offense in halfcourt sets.

Tier 5

6. Jarrett Culver, SG, Texas Tech

Culver’s teammates will love him. He flat-out competes. He’s unselfish. He has an all-around game that can bend to many settings. But is he talented and athletic enough to make a real difference in the pros? Culver is a nice scorer from multiple levels with and without the ball, nice distributor, nice defender. I’m not sure he has a standout skill. But there’s value in betting on his work ethic and attitude.

7. Sekou Doumbouya, PF/SF, Limoges (France)

At just 18, Doumbouya has already proven capable of contributing in high-level European leagues. That’s a real accomplishment. He’s physically advanced for his age. The 6-foot-9 forward covers a lot of ground quickly, and he can get off the ground, too. His shooting, ball-handling and feel are works in progress, but at least Doumbouya has shown he’s headed in the right direction. He flashes swarming defense and a soft touch. Maybe, in time, Doumbouya will round into a quality two-way player.

8. De'Andre Hunter, SF/PF, Virginia

There might not be a defensive matchup Hunter can’t handle. But he doesn’t project as shutdown defender. His strength comes from his defensive versatility. Hunter (6-foot-7, 225 pounds, 7-foot-2 wingspan, strong base) switches reasonably onto any position. The 21-year-old might have benefited from becoming more physically advanced than most of his college opponents. His offensive role projects to be a standstill 3-point shooter who can attack closeouts with either line drives to the rim or a hard dribble or two then pull-up jumper. A slow release reduces opportunities to shoot 3s. He’s not a creator.

Tier 6

9. Cam Reddish, SF, Duke

Reddish sometimes makes it look easy. But he made it look darned hard at Duke last year. At 6-foot-8 with a 7-foot-1 wingspan, Reddish has a smooth athleticism and shooting stroke. He could be the next Tracy McGrady. But if he were anywhere near that good, why did he struggle so much at Duke? Sure, he wasn’t placed into an ideal role. Reddish never looked comfortable as a spot-up shooter around Williamson and Barrett. Still, it seems most future NBA stars would have found a way to look better than he did. Reddish was far less productive in college/Europe than everyone ahead of him and several players behind him. But he’s too talented to slip further.

10. Brandon Clarke, PF/C, Gonzaga

Clarke is a quick leaper with soft hands and an attack mentality. That’s why he finishes so well, grabs so many offensive rebounds and blocks so many shots despite his underwhelming physical profile (6-foot-8, a 6-foot-8 wingspan, 207 pounds). With his energy and plus passing, he definitely lifts his team. But he might not shoot well enough from the perimeter to play power forward and his rebounding/ability to guard bigger players limits him at center. He’s also already 22.

Tier 7

11. Kevin Porter, SG, USC

Porter has star upside. At 6-foot-6 with a 6-foot-9 wingspan, his combination of shiftiness and power is jaw-dropping. He can attack the rim and finish above it. He can pull up for jumpers with a compact and smooth stroke. But there are also questions about his maturity and mentality. He missed games last season due to suspension. He also needs work in periphery skills – defense, passing, off-ball.

12. Jaxson Hayes, C, Texas

Hayes is an excellent rim runner. He can screen, roll hard, elevate in a hurry and finish above the rim. His hops make him a solid rim-protector, too. But how high should a player like that be drafted? The NBA is emphasizing skill at all positions, and Hayes is neither a shooter nor a passer. He’s also raw defensively. But there’s time for him to develop better awareness, and he could perform well enough in his offensive role to provide real value.

13. Nickeil Alexander-Walker, PG/SG, Virginia Tech

Alexander-Walker is a well-rounded prospect with one key flaw: He lacks burst and explosiveness. It’s tough for NBA point guards who don’t bend opposing defenses. Alexander-Walker might get by with his floor vision, crafty ball-handling and ability to pass on the move. If he winds up a combo guard, Alexander-Walker has the size (6-foot-6 with a 6-foot-10 wingspan) and standstill 3-point-shooting ability to play off the ball.

14. Bol Bol, C, Oregon

Bol has the highest spread between floor and ceiling in this draft. He comes with major red flags – foot injury, durability, intensity, work ethic, defense. But he’s so talented offensively. I’ll roll the dice on a 7-foot-2 center who can shoot and dribble like him. With a 7-foot-7 wingspan, he’ll block plenty of shots, too. It could go south at times – when the 208-pounder gets pushed around, when he gets hurt due to his thin frame, when it seems he just doesn’t care. Bol’s shortcomings are especially frustrating, which is why I think he’s undervalued. He’s competing with other flawed players in this range.

15. Nassir Little, SF, North Carolina

Little is 6-foot-6 with a 7-foot-1 wingspan and excellent athleticism. He looks like an archetypical wing in a league desperate for more players at that position. But Little needs major work as a shooter, dribbler and passer – just generally with his offensive feel. His defensive fundamentals must also improve. In the meantime, Little could still contribute by using his physicality and motor to run the floor, dive to the rim and crash the glass.

Tier 8

16. Romeo Langford, SF/SG, Indiana

Langford played through a hand injury last season, which skews evaluations. How much better would he have looked if healthy? Maybe negligibly, maybe significantly. Langford shot poorly from beyond the arc, and it’d be easy to see how that’d improve with a healthy hand. His ball-stopping offensive style is harder to justify. Still, at a certain point, it’s worth taking the wing with an NBA body and scoring skills. Maybe he’ll eventually read the game more quickly and/or shoot better.

17. Ty Jerome, SG, Virginia

Jerome has such an excellent feel for the game. He’s a good outside shooter. Not only does he pass well, he moves the ball decisively. He just boosts an offense. He’ll compete defensively, but his size (6-foot-6 with a 6-foot-4 wingspan) and athletic limitations will be difficult to overcome.

Tier 9

18. Tyler Herro, SG, Kentucky

Herro is a shooter. He moves without the ball, pulls up off the dribble, shoots under duress, contorts to different angles to get his shot off. He’s going to get up his 3-pointers. Whether he does much else is questionable. At 6-foot-5 with a 6-foot-3 wingspan and limited lateral quickness, he could be a defensive liability.

19. Grant Williams, PF, Tennessee

Williams possesses great basketball intelligence and feel. He won’t play in the NBA the same way he did at Tennessee, overpowering players in the post. His screening and passing should translate. For all his awareness and hustle, will Williams (6-foot-8, 6-foot-10 wingspan, 240 pounds, mediocre athleticism) have enough length, mobility and explosion to defend at the next level? His lackluster defensive rebounding provides reason for concern.

Tier 10

20. Darius Bazley, PF/SF

Bazley is a fluid athlete who shows plenty of skills as a scorer and distributor. He has the versatility to defend multiple positions. But his feel for the game is questionable, especially after sitting out last season.

21. P.J. Washington, PF, Kentucky

Washington improved impressively into his sophomore season, but he’ll also turn 21 before his rookie year. That raises questions about the tough, undersized power forward without ideal athleticism. Did he just become more physically advanced than his college peers, or did he actually improve in ways that will translate? Similarly, his improved outside shooting came on a small sample.

22. Goga Bitadze, C, Budocnost (Montenegro)

The 7-footer will be a threat in the pick-and-deep roll/short roll/pop. He combines his size and touch inside, shoots comfortably from mid-range and is developing a 3-pointer. He tries to block everything and often succeeds – but also fouls too much and stays near the basket rather than close out. He’s a massive defensive liability when forced onto the perimeter

23. Luka Samanic, PF, Union Olimpija (Slovenia)

The 6-foot-11 Samanic moves well, and that help him score in a variety of ways inside the arc. He’s skilled with a nice touch. His defense has improved, but not enough yet.

24. Luguentz Dort, SG, Arizona State

Dort plays aggressively, offensively and defensively. He’s inefficient, forcing too many bad shots. But I respect his effort and physicality.

Tier 11

25. Rui Hachimura, PF/SF, Gonzaga

Hachimura roasts bigger players on the perimeter and outmuscles smaller players inside. The solution: Send help. He doesn’t read the floor well, and he can be a ball hog. He also too rarely puts his quality defensive tools to good use.

26. Dylan Windler, SF, Belmont

Windler shoots well and has excellent spatial awareness. But questions about his size and quickness are punctuated by a significant drop in production against better competition.

27. Cameron Johnson, PF/SF, North Carolina

Johnson is a lights-out shooter with a quick release. His size (6-foot-9) allows him to shoot and pass over opponents. He lacks the athleticism and physicality to do much more. There are also questions about the 23-year-old’s long-term health after hip surgery.

28. Talen Horton-Tucker, ?, Iowa State

Horton-Tucker is such an unconventional prospect. He has a guard’s height (6-foot-4), power forward’s width (235 pounds) and a game with elements of both. Maybe his 7-foot-1 wingspan will allow him to bridge the gap. He’s a heck of a ball-handler who throws passes all over the court and scores craftily. But he’s an unreliable shooter and slow defensively. At just 18, he has time to develop his shortcomings. There’s also a chance he just never translates well to the NBA.

29. Nicolas Claxton, C, Georgia

Another weird player, Claxton is a 7-footer who sometimes looks like a point guard. He can put the ball on the floor and initiate the offense. His length (7-foot-2.5 wingspan) makes him a good shot-blocker, but he must get much stronger. He’s raw as a rebounder, interior defender, paint scorer. Maybe those traditional big-man responsibilities will come as Claxton develops his body.

30. Chuma Okeke, PF, Auburn

Okeke tore his ACL in the NCAA tournament, but prior to that, he showed a knack for making winning plays. He’s a hustle player who shoots reasonably well from outside and can also make plays with the ball. There were athleticism concerns even before the injury.

31. Shamorie Ponds, PG, St. John’s

Ponds can control an offense with his scoring and passing. He’s a good shooter and has plenty of moves and craft off the dribble. The big drawback: He’s 6-foot-1. His lack of size could undermine his whole game, especially defensively.

32. KZ Okpala, PF/SF, Stanford

Okpala (6-foot-10 with a 7-foot-2 wingspan and good mobility) looks like a modern NBA combo forward. He even sometimes shows the requisite skills as a shooter, ball-handler, passer and defender. But he’s still quite inconsistent.

33. Carsen Edwards, SG, Purdue

Edwards is a classic undersized shooter without the facilitating ability to play point guard. He hoists 3s from deep range, on and off the ball. He should attract plenty of defensive attention, even without ability to score inside. Opposing offenses will notice him, too, as they can pick on the 6-footer.

34. Matisse Thybulle, SF, Washington

Thybulle is a standout defender. He possesses plenty of length, quickness, hops and maximizes those physical skills with activity and anticipation. His 3-point shooting has been up-and-down, and that skill could determine whether he stays on the floor in the NBA.

Correction: I mistakenly initially omitted Cameron Johnson. He has been added.