Meet the Prospects, Part 1 – the Lottery

14 min read

With Conference tournaments mostly behind us and the big bracket fast approaching, I thought it would be a good time to get to know some of the potential 1st-round prospects of this year’s draft.

 

I’ll try to avoid writing a whole novel on each prospect (even though that’s probably inevitable). However, I do want you Dynasty heads to be well-informed when it comes to each of these guys.

 

If you haven’t checked out our Dynasty Prospect Rankings, please do. There will be tons of good information in there. Some of the more significant content will be mirrored from that Rankings page to here. Remember, the Rankings are updated constantly throughout the season and should be in for a rather large remodeling once we know the landing spots for each player after the NBA draft.

High-Risk, High-Reward

This draft is filled with players who would commonly be labeled a “boom or bust.” Nassir Little, Sekou Doumbouya, Jaxson Hayes, and maybe even some more ubiquitous names like Ja Morant and Bol Bol – these are all prospects with very wide ranges of outcomes due to their perceived high ceilings but quite questionable floors.

 

If you were pondering making some risky moves and considering drafting high-risk, high-reward options, this is the draft to do it. We should all be aware by now that this draft isn’t exactly one of the deepest in recent memory. The number of perceived future stars seems to be at basement levels in this one, helping the boom-or-bust types gain some traction on draft boards. I believe there will be a few diamonds in the rough scattered throughout this draft class, but it will predominantly be filled to the brim with roleplayers.

 

The key will be to find the roleplayers with the best potential fantasy repertoire.

One last thing before we begin – the “Current Player Fantasy Comp” provided for each prospect is only in regards to Fantasy skill sets. For example, when Zion is compared to Giannis, the only thing I’m saying is that Zion will potentially have similar Fantasy strengths (and weaknesses) to Giannis – nothing more.

Tier 1

Zion Williamson

PF – 6’7, 285 lb – age 18

Strengths: Points – Rebounds – Steals – Blocks – FG% – some Assists

Current Player Fantasy Comp: Giannis Antetokounmpo

Rookie Draft Consideration: 1st Overall Pick

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – Zion is more than just a freak athlete who relies solely on brute strength and explosiveness. Yes, his frame does help him bully his fellow college players around a bit (and honestly, he should be able to do the same to plenty of NBA players as soon as he steps foot on the pro court). Zion possesses a lot more to “ooh and aah” at though. Finesse, high basketball IQ, ball control, body control, handling, and passing/playmaking – these are all aspects of his game that are severely underestimated. There aren’t many things to dislike when it comes to Zion’s all-around fantasy game potential. His deep-ball may not be at a reliable level yet but he’s working on it. He’ll come into the league with a better shot outlook than Giannis did. I compare Zion to Giannis not because of physical similarities. In fact, they’re very different in that regard. Remember, we’re making comparisons here strictly based on perceived Fantasy skill sets. Comparing a prospect to Giannis just seems like it should feel wrong. It doesn’t. Not when it comes to a guy with such a broad skill set like Zion Williamson.

Tier 2

Ja Morant

PG – 6’3, 180 lbs – age 19

Strengths: Points – Rebound – Assists – Steals – FT%

Current Player Fantasy Comp: Russell Westbrook

Rookie Draft Consideration: Top 3

24.6 Points, 5.5 Rebounds, 10 Assists, 1.8 Steals, 0.8 Blocks, 1.6 Three’s, .503 FG%, .810 FT%

Look at those numbers. Morant’s on-court play speaks for itself. You can try to argue to pull back the reins a bit because of the program he plays for but there’s only so much we can temper expectations before proceeding to drool at such outrageous stats. Plus, Morant has played against some Power 5 conference teams this year and still didn’t cease to amaze. Here are his average stats from his games against Alabama and Auburn: 31.5 Points, 8.5 Rebounds, 6 Assists, 1 Steal, 0.5 Blocks, .525 FG%, .829 FT%.

With a very similar Fantasy game to Russell Westbrook – plus, a 3-ball and Free Throw shot that appears to have improved dramatically enough throughout the season that they could be considered “strengths” of his soon as well – Morant has become the most sought-after Fantasy prize outside of the 1st-overall pick in Dynasty drafts.

RJ Barrett

SG/SF – 6’7, 205 lbs – age 18

Strengths: Points – Rebounds – Assists – some 3’s

Current Player Fantasy Comp: Jimmy Butler

Rookie Draft Consideration: Top 3

One of the more complete players entering this year’s draft, Barrett brings several on-court strengths. Barrett knows how to get the ball in the hoop and use his competitiveness to hustle on defense. One of my biggest questions with Barrett going into the season was if playmaking could be a real aspect of his game and he’s answered that call this season, averaging over 4 Assists per game. Currently averaging .457 FG%, .662 FT%, .304 3pt%, and 3.2 TO’s per game, concerns still linger regarding his efficiency. However, Barrett’s IQ and superior will to better himself should prove most useful on his journey to become a near-every-cat stud. He’d likely be the third overall player I’d consider drafting in Dynasty this season.

Tier 3

Jarrett Culver

SG – 6’5(?), 200 lbs – age 20

Strengths: Points – Steals – 3’s – some Assists

Current Player Fantasy Comp: Eric Bledsoe

Rookie Draft Consideration: Top 6

After skyrocketing up draft boards mid-season, Culver seems to have quieted down just a bit lately. Still considered a top 10 prospect by most accounts, Culver should likely end up in a situation where he can see big minutes from the jump. Getting official pre-draft measurements will work wonders for Culver’s stock as most believe he hit a growth spurt before the season and is actually taller than what his current bio states. His ability to guard up to three positions while also seeing increased distributing duties as a Sophomore has pushed Culver into early-lottery consideration. Because of his perceived skills to positively contribute in almost every category (although he may not be a true high-level contributor in any single cat at first), I’d look at Culver as early as Top 5 in Dynasty drafts, after those first 3 prospects come off the board.

Brandon Clarke

SF/PF – 6’8, 215 lbs – age 22

Strengths: Rebounds – Steals – Blocks – FG% – TO’s

Current Player Fantasy Comp

Rookie Draft Consideration: Picks 4 – 10

Clarke will draw interest from NBA scouts as the best defensive player in the country. He also possesses elite rim-running/finishing ability and is a top-tier shot-blocker. At 6’8, Clarke likely isn’t going to be Center-eligible for Fantasy purposes, but his skill set says otherwise. I’ll admit I’m a sucker for the big Steals/Blocks providers and there’s no better candidate for such feats in the lottery than Clarke. Age and offensive limitations might hinder his early-lottery considerations in the real-life draft, but that won’t stop me from considering him with my top 7 selections in my Rookie drafts – especially if I’m in need of those hustle stats he provides so well.

Bol Bol

C – 7’3, 235 lbs – age 19

Strengths: Points – Rebounds – Blocks – 3’s – FG% – FT%

Current Player Fantasy Comp: Kristaps Porzingis

Rookie Draft Consideration: Picks 4 – 10

Bol can better his draft stock during workouts by showcasing his skills while not having to do so against a real player. It’ll be a great time to show off his diverse, unique skill set which includes ball-handling and shooting at a rare level for a guy his size. It’s no secret that Bol’s frame and physicality is a concern that’ll likely hold his stock down a bit. The fear with Bol is that he ends up similar to a Thon Maker. But from his shot-blocking and shooting potential to his early-lottery pedigree and other numerous on-court strengths, it’s hard to envision Bol wasting away on a rebuilding team’s bench. Taking a chance on Bol could be a worthy risk outside of the first handful of picks. His crazy impressive 3pt% and reliable FT% might prove too enticing to pass up.

Cameron Reddish

SG/SF/PF – 6’9, 210 lbs – age 19

Strengths: Points – Steals – 3’s

Current Player Fantasy Comp: Paul George-lite

Rookie Draft Consideration: Picks 5 – 10

With a fantastic frame for a wing prospect, Reddish fits the mold of the modern 3-and-D player perfectly. He may not hustle as much as you’d like as of now, but this guy has what it takes to be an outstanding defender. Although he may be predominantly perceived as a shooter, Reddish also boasts a versatile offensive game. An underrated ball-handler who can often make plays when asked to, the game comes naturally to him. As impressive of a skill set as Reddish may have, he isn’t without his flaws. Scouts have surely noticed his inconsistencies on both ends of the court. He settles for contested jumpers at times and loses focus too often. Reddish might take a little while to adjust to the NBA, but even so, he has the potential to be a great two-way second option at the professional level, and should maintain his early-to-mid-lottery candidacy in Dynasty drafts.

Goga Bitadze

PF/C – 6’11, 245 lbs – age 19

Strengths: Points – Rebounds – Blocks – FG%

Current Player Fantasy Comp: Andre Drummond

Rookie Draft Consideration: Picks 5 – 10

Bitadze is a decently mobile big man with nice hands and footwork. He’s shown some improvement spacing the floor in his time playing overseas but the 3-ball certainly shouldn’t yet be considered a strength of his. Goga has shown no problem dominating some of the grown men he’s played against at times but the NBA is a different animal. Boasting a rather large Block rate and continuing to develop his range, Bitadze could very well be a “Unicorn” in the making. As things stand now, if he falls beyond the middle lottery picks, I wouldn’t hesitate to snag him.

Jontay Porter

PF/C – 6’11, 240 lbs – age 19

Strengths: Rebounds – Assists – Steals – Blocks – 3’s – some Points

Current Player Fantasy Comp: Paul Millsap

Rookie Draft Consideration: 5 – 10

With a nice, broad skill set consisting of shooting, passing, shot-blocking, and much more, Jontay is a fantasy tank with a very deep war chest. If the cards fall in his favor, he has the potential to put you in the green in virtually every category. As a multi-cat stud prospect, the younger Porter brother has proven his worth in all areas except FG% and TO’s – both of which I think he will improve once adjusted to the league. His brother may have been the more highly-touted prospect, but Jontay will likely bring a more diverse fantasy repertoire. This guy is another risk-reward option – maybe especially risky considering he’s recovering from tearing both ACL and MCL. He also has some rather sizable question marks on the defensive end that could negatively impact his playing time early in his career, making him more of a stash pick meant for rebuilding Dynasty squads. But alas, his fantasy upside might be too appetizing to pass on once the first handful of picks are off the board.

Tier 4

Nickeil Alexander-Walker

SG – 6’6, 205 lbs – age 20

Strengths: Points – Assists – Steals – 3’s

Current Player Fantasy Comp: Marcus Smart

Rookie Draft Consideration: Picks 7 – 14

Nickeil’s second year at Virginia Tech has proven to be a success for his Draft stock. Projected to be taken somewhere around the lottery on most boards, NAW is looking like a very nice two-way player who shows hustle on defense with his intriguing frame and an expanded arsenal on offense. NAW has displayed enough to be considered a reliable shooter/scorer and secondary playmaker. I’m particularly fond of him as he’s one of my “sleeper” picks if you’re in need of a Guard later in your Dynasty lottery. His instincts to steal the ball and efficiency putting it up from deep will interest any team in need of a 3-and-D-type Guard.

DeAndre Hunter

SG/SF/PF – 6’7, 225 lbs – age 21

Strengths: Points – 3’s – FG% – FT% – TO’s

Current Player Fantasy Comp: Otto Porter Jr

Rookie Draft Consideration: Picks 7 – 14

I was very high on Hunter going into the season and things started off great for the first few games, then fell off a bit, and are now picking back up. Hunter impacts the game in so many more ways than just what appears in the box score. He’s the epitome of a 3-and-D prospect with nice physical tools, but he’s constantly showing much more growth as a player than what that broad label implies, and even seems to be adding post shot-making to his skill set. With his versatile defensive game and potential to guard virtually every position on the court, Hunter could be in for big minutes as soon as the NBA season begins, making him a respectable mid-to-late lottery pick for competitive teams in Dynasty drafts. He’ll be a jack-of-all-trades guy, and might even master a few.

Darius Garland

PG – 6’3, 175 lbs – age 19

Strengths: Points – Assists – 3’s – FT%

Current Player Fantasy Comp: Kyrie Irving-lite

Rookie Draft Consideration: Picks 7 – 14

With the ability to score at all three levels, and the confidence to boot, Garland looks like a modern offensive-minded Point Guard. His shooting skills should help him maintain productivity off-ball but it’s his on-ball work that is so impressive. Some of Garland’s highlights of his ball-handling, passing vision, and versatile scoring leave you wondering just how high his ceiling really is. His frame and athleticism leave a bit to be desired, and his playmaking didn’t come through in college (before his season-ending injury) nearly as much as it did in High School. The words “season-ending injury” are always off-putting but most experts assure that the type of injury Garland suffered is no cause to hit the panic button. A meniscus injury is not uncommon among players, and has a high likelihood of full recovery, leaving Garland’s stock virtually untouched. There is a tiny bit of a risk factor with Garland considering he played just 5 games his Freshman year, and he’ll likely need some extra time to get acclimated to the big leagues, but it’s nothing worth dropping him out of your Rookie draft lottery for.

Grant Williams

SF/PF – 6’7, 240 lbs – age 20

Strengths: Points – Rebounds – Assists – Steals – Blocks – FG% – FT%

Current Player Fantasy Comp: Draymond Green-lite + better percentages

Rookie Draft Consideration: Picks 10 – 20

Returning for his Junior year appears to have been a great decision for Tennessee Forward Grant Williams. A multi-cat stud providing nice numbers seemingly across the board, Williams is not without his faults when it comes to the NBA level. He lacks athleticism and size for his projected position. Those worries are not to be understated considering he does most of his work out of the post. From scoring to passing, when matched up against full-grown NBA post defenders, Williams could struggle immensely to be as productive as he was in college. Regardless, Grant’s IQ and potential to contribute in virtually every stat could prove too valuable to pass on in the first round of Rookie drafts. He could be a late-round steal for contending teams if he falls out of the lottery.

Kevin Porter Jr

SG – 6’6, 220 lbs – age 18

Strengths: Points – Rebounds – Steals – 3’s – some out-of-position Blocks

Current Player Fantasy Comp: Josh Richardson

Rookie Draft Consideration: Picks 10 – 20

As more of a “supporting freshman player” rather than the focal point he maybe should have been, Porter’s role on his USC team was a relatively minimal one. There’s a decent chance his draft stock rises during pre-Draft workouts when he has a chance to really shine and display his athleticism and shot-making abilities. An additional bonus of KPJ’s arsenal is his ability to potentially provide some valuable off-position Blocks. His Free Throw shot isn’t falling this year but, if the 3-ball is to help determine his eventual outlook, he could easily better that aspect of his game. However, KPJ’s FG% and Assist-to-TO ratio might not improve until he becomes more acclimated to the league.

Hopefully you’ve found this article insightful and helpful.

Be sure to look out for Part 2 where we’ll round out the first round of our Rookie Drafts and pinpoint some potential sleepers. It’ll be coming at you within the next week or two.

Until next time, Fantasy Fiends.