If not Zion, then who? Scouting the other NBA lottery prospects
The NBA draft lottery will be held in Chicago for the second time May 14. The prize is no mystery.
Duke's Zion Williamson is going No. 1 and it's a shame the Bulls can't send the most famous native of Zion, Ill. -- the late actor Gary Coleman -- as their representative.
The new anti-tanking era in the NBA began this season, though, so no team will have more than a 14 percent chance at the top pick. With that in mind, here's a look at some of the consolation prizes to watch during NCAA tournament season.
At this point, there's only one international prospect getting lottery mentions in the mock drafts. That's 6-9 Sekou Doumboya, a native of Guinea who is playing professionally in France. He's sort of a raw, athletic player, but considering the success Toronto has had with Pascal Siakam, it's conceivable Doumboya will be chosen in the top 10.
He won't be playing in a conference tournament on ESPN, though. Here are some draft prospects that will:
R.J. Barrett, 6-6 shooting guard, Duke
Barrett is actually Duke's leading scorer at 22.7 ppg, slightly ahead of Williamson. The native of Canada has the physical tools of a prototypical NBA shooting guard and he's had some big games this season to highlight his scoring potential, tallying 33 points in the season-opener against Kentucky and 32 at Florida State. He's shooting just 33.5 percent from 3-point range.
Ja Morant, 6-3 point guard, Murray State
This sophomore probably has more spectacular highlights than Williamson and he might become the first college player to average 20 points and 10 assists in a season. His story resembles that of former NBA star Steve Francis, a hyper-athletic guard who came from nowhere to have a spectacular final season in college. It seems almost certain Morant and Barrett will go No. 2 or 3, in whatever order.
Cam Reddish, 6-8 small forward, Duke
Another of Duke's star freshmen, Reddish is tough to figure out. He's got a nice shooting stroke and at 6-8 looks like a classic NBA stretch-four. But his accuracy is a mundane 35.6 percent on the season. He's had some nice moments, though, hitting a game-winning 3 at Florida State and some big buckets during the Blue Devils' recent comeback at Louisville. Maybe he's this year's Wendell Carter Jr., a guy who hasn't shown his full array of skills because of his talented teammates.
Nassir Little, 6-6 SF, North Carolina
This is where the draft becomes much less predictable. Little is often mentioned as a top-10 pick, but it's based on potential. The long-armed forward is averaging less than 20 minutes per game, along with 9.6 points.
Keldon Johnson, 6-6 shooting guard, Kentucky
An all-around shooting guard, he's connecting on 41.4 percent of his 3-point shots and uses his long arms to finish around the basket. Might draw comparisons to former UK guard Jamal Murray.
Jarrett Culver, 6-6 shooting guard, Texas Tech
This sophomore does a number of things well and NBA teams might like his potential. Culver is averaging 17.7 points, 6.3 rebounds, 3.7 assists, is shooting 34 percent from 3 and grew an inch since his freshman season.
Rui Hachimura, 6-8 small forward, Gonzaga
This junior is expected to be the first Japan-born first-round pick. He has the size and shooting touch to fit into today's NBA as a small-ball four or five; averaging 20.3 points.
Nickeil Alexander-Walker, 6-5 SG, Virginia Tech
Another multiskilled shooting guard, currently averaging 16.7 points and shooting 39.5 percent from 3-point range. He might lack the elite athleticism to be a top-10 pick. The Toronto native is a cousin of Clippers rookie Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
Romeo Langford, 6-6 shooting guard, Indiana
He seems to do everything well except shoot. Currently averaging 17.2 points and 5.1 rebounds, but is 26.5 percent from long range. That's not what NBA teams want to see in this era.
De'Andre Hunter, 6-7 power forward, Virginia
This seems to be a good year for versatile wings and Hunter is another one who might work his way into the top 10. He hasn't taken many 3-pointers, but is shooting 45 percent.
Darius Garland, 6-2 point guard, Vanderbilt
Garland could be a scoring guard in the mold of Kemba Walker, but he suffered a knee injury in the fifth game of the season. He's already declared for the draft and withdrawn from school, so there will be no late-season comeback like Michael Porter Jr. last year.
Bol Bol, 7-2 center, Oregon
This was another injury-shortened freshman season. The son of Manute Bol averaged 21 points and hit 13 of 25 3-pointers in nine games before getting shut down with a broken bone in his left foot.