The 2019 NBA draft lottery as well as the inaugural G League Elite Camp and the annual draft combine are all providing fascinating insights.
For those who like basketball prospects, this is one of the most wonderful times of the year. We have compiled the results from all of the most notable recent mock draft projections by ESPN, SI.com, Bleacher Report, The Athletic and The Ringer. While these may factor in team fits, ours is more of a consensus to provide an expected range for each player.
It is worth mentioning that several prospects appeared in the Top-8 for all of the mock drafts we surveyed. While the orders varied, these players included Zion Williamson, Ja Morant, RJ Barrett, Jarrett Culver, De’Andre Hunter, Darius Garland and Coby White.
Included below are scouting reports on three of the most interesting names who have recently improved their draft stock. But other names to know are Michigan teammates Ignas Brazdeikis and Jordan Poole, who have both jumped to about 10 spots higher than where they finished last month.
One player to watch on the international circuit is Deividas Sirvydis, who now ranks No. 51 overall on our compilation.
Nicolas Claxton, Georgia (Forward)
Current AMD Rank: No. 36 overall
Georgia’s Nicolas Claxton made his first appearance on our aggregate mock draft last month, debuting at No. 50 overall. He has jumped 14 spots to a fringe first-round selection.
During his sophomore year at Georgia, the 6-foot-11 forward led the SEC in blocks, finishing with the second-most defensive rebounds in the conference as well. Sam Vecenie believes that Claxton can prove himself as a potential first-rounder (via The Athletic):
“Executives [are] acknowledging that he has potential to rise as they get a chance to see him up close in workouts. I’m guessing that, at the end of the day, Claxton’s combination of skills is too fascinating from a modern NBA perspective to pass up at the end of the first round. [He] moves like a player much smaller than [his size] in the way that he can guard away from the basket.”
With an average of 2.5 blocks and 1.1 steals per game, his defensive presence was certainly felt for the Bulldogs. He bragged the fifth-best defensive box plus-minus in the SEC, leading his team with the best defensive rating and the most defensive win shares.
But on the offensive side of the glass, he showed an ability to stretch the floor as a spot-up shooter. Claxton scored almost 20 percent of his points on jump shots, per Synergy Sports Tech. According to The Stepien, the forward also connected on 34.0 percent of his three-pointers from NBA distance.
Among all Division-I players in Power 5 Conferences who recorded as many opportunities facing defenders one-on-one, only Grant Williams (1.32 PPP) averaged more points per possession than Claxton did (1.23 PPP) during the regular season.
Zach Norvell, Gonzaga (Guard)
Current AMD Rank: No. 47 overall
There are several prospects from the Gonzaga roster who are currently on the minds of NBA franchises, including Rui Hachimura and Killian Tillie after both rejected their combine invitations in Chicago.
As one of the best two-way players in the draft and a potential lottery pick, Brandon Clarke arguably has the most buzz of the group. But the best fit for the modern offense from Gonzaga is undoubtedly Zach Norvell. He was out of our Top-60 between January and March but jumped nearly into the Top 45 in May.
During his two years playing in the NCAA, he averaged 2.3 three-pointers per game. He finished in the 87th percentile on spot-up opportunities, per Synergy. Perhaps his most interesting trait is his ability to score on dribble handoffs, leading all players in Power 5 conferences in points per possession among those with as many opportunities.
But he can be a combo guard as the primary ballhandler, too, considering how efficient he has been when running the pick-and-roll. As a lefty, he can keep his defenders off-balance and provide a unique change of pace.
DaQuan Jeffries, Tulsa (Wing)
Current AMD Rank: No. 61 overall
Perhaps no one has enjoyed a more meteoric rise in the pre-draft process than Tulsa’s DaQuan Jeffries. Here is what Jeremy Woo recently wrote about him (via Sports Illustrated):
“A no-frills combo forward, Jeffries helped his stock at Portsmouth with a strong performance that showcased his strength, explosiveness and ability to hit set shots. While he’s a bit undersized for that role, he’s likely to have plenty of suitors as an undrafted free agent as teams search for glue guys who could potentially slide into a bench spot and be viable long-term. He wasn’t in the spotlight much in Tulsa, but is an attractive sleeper.”
After being considered the top prospect at the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament for seniors, he once more shined at the G League Elite Camp. Jeffries turned that invitation into another invite to the NBA Combine, too, where he will have an even bigger stage to impress scouts and front offices.
His play has caught the attention of The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor, who has him at No. 29 overall on his big board. That is especially impressive when considering this is his first appearance on our aggregate mock draft since we began tracking this in June 2018.
Jeffries won the College Basketball Slam Dunk Contest in 2019 and with a 7-foot wingspan, he can play a bit bigger than his 6-foot-5 frame.