5 potential first round steals in the 2019 NBA Draft
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NBA Draft

5 potential first round steals in the 2019 NBA Draft

It’s been about a week now since the NBA Draft Lottery and the anticipation for the draft hasn’t squandered. There are many varying viewpoints on the 2019 NBA Draft prospects. Some view it as a draft where after the top three picks there is a drop-off in talent. Others see it as Zion Williamson is the only player that truly matters coming out of this draft.

Personally, my opinion is that this draft won’t produce the next generational talent. And yes that includes Williamson. Although, some of these players could be great, there just isn’t the next face of the NBA in this draft class. The first round will be exciting to watch even more than usual, due to the looming Anthony Davis trade.

But we are here to discuss the sleepers who lie within the first round. Every year there is someone like a Donovan Mitchell who falls in the draft. Then when they become a star in the league everyone questions how teams let him fall that far.

Let’s discuss some first round draft prospects who deserve more recognition and will become an instant contributor to a team.

5. Cam Johnson, North Carolina

Just last year Cam Johnson was most likely not on many, if any, NBA draft boards. As a junior at the University of Pittsburgh, Johnson averaged just 12 points per game. Yet, after transferring to North Carolina for his senior season, Johnson’s scoring rose to 17 points per game which led the Tar Heels.

What is so impressive is the fashion in which Johnson scores. Johnson was an elite shooter in college. Shooting 45 percent from three, Johnson ranked seventh in three point percentage in all of college basketball.

Furthermore, Johnson is this great of a shooter while being 6-foot-9. As a senior, his body is more prepared for the NBA than some of the freshman who have declared for the draft. If Johnson proves he can defend in the league, he could be the typical 3 and D wing that every team needs.

4. Ty Jerome, Virginia

Ty Jerome should be fresh in the mind of NBA scouts since his team, the Virginia Cavaliers, just won the National Championship. It must be pointed out that coach Tony Bennett when the game was on the line put the ball in Jerome’s hands to create the offense.

First and foremost, Jerome is tall for his position of point guard. At 6-foot-5, Jerome would be looking over a lot of his counterparts. Jerome is both an elite perimeter shooter and also a good facilitator.

In his final season at Virginia, Jerome averaged 13.6 points per game to go along with 5.5 assists per game. More importantly, Jerome shot 40 percent from three. Jerome could be a very productive backup point guard in his first season. Something like a TJ McConell, Quinn Cook, or Fred Van Fleet.

Projected top 10 pick Coby White from North Carolina said Jerome was his toughest matchup at point guard all season, and credited him for having total control over his team’s offense at all times.

3. Cam Reddish, Duke

Cam Reddish is the only person on this listing that will be drafted within the top 10 or even the top five. However, Reddish, even though projected high, could still be a steal for a team. 

As we all know, Reddish played alongside Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett at Duke this year. Because of this, Reddish was the third part of their big three. Therefore, Reddish didn’t real get the recognition that he truly deserved.

One thing Reddish has over his highly coveted teammates is that his game translates better to the NBA. At 6-foot-8, Reddish can play either the shooting guard or small forward. Also, Reddish is a pure scorer who can score from all three levels on offense.

His biggest flaw is consistency, something he can fix by just playing more basketball in a defined role. An easy comparison for Reddish is Paul George. Both are the same height and they have a similar body frame. George is an elite scorer, but is also streaky just like Reddish. Because of his scoring ability, Reddish could easily be a Rookie of the Year candidate next year.

2. Bol Bol, Oregon

Due to his injury early in the college basketball season, Bol Bol has been forgotten to a degree. Coming into this season, however, Bol Bol was ranked fourth on ESPN top 100 for high school basketball players. Additionally, he was an 2018 McDonald’s All-American.

What makes Bol Bol such a unique prospect is his combination of skill and size is almost impossible to find. Bol Bol is a 7-foot-2 center who is an elite rim protector but can also score from anywhere on offense.

In the nine games before his season ending foot injury, Bol Bol was averaging all American type numbers. In addition to the 2.7 blocks per game, Bol Bol also scored 21 points per game and collected 9.6 rebounds per game.

Here is a snapshot of what Bol Bol did in college:

At his size, injury is the only thing that will slow Bol Bol from reaching his full potential. The only other players in the NBA with similar size and skill as Bol Bol would be Joel Embiid and Kristaps Porzingis.

1. Naz Reid, LSU

Naz Reid is another versatile big man that can work in today’s NBA where small ball is so prominent. Reid’s two best attributes are probably his athleticism and pure strength. His quickness will help him stay on the court when the opponents switch to a small ball lineup.

In addition, Reid showed in college the ability to score efficiently in the low post, whether with a bigger or smaller defender on him. Not to mention, his ability to step out and knock down the occasional three makes him a valuable player to have on the roster.

At 6-foot-10 and 250 pounds, Reid already has an NBA body, which will only get better with NBA strength and conditioning. In addition, his 7-foot-1 wingspan should help him defend guards in potential switches in the pick and roll.

Reid would be a steal because he could be the anchor for any small ball lineup. His athleticism and ability to hit shots on all three levels of the floor make him a great center for a small ball unit.