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2019 Draft Position Preview: Forwards

Breaking Down the Guys Upfront as Draft Day Approaches
by Joe Gabriele Beat Writer

2019 Draft Position Preview: Forwards

Breaking Down the Frontcourt as Draft Day Draws Near

Almost anything can happen on Draft night, but if the final player in this alphabetically-ordered list doesn’t go No. 1 to the Pelicans, something very strange is happening.

The Wine & Gold – who still have plenty of assets to play with – will be on the clock with the 5th and 26th picks of the first round, and any of the other four forwards could be available up and down the board.

On today’s list, we have the ultimate team player who led his school to the national title, an undersized do-it-all guy with a burning will to win, arguably the best international prospect in the Draft, an athletic wing born in Japan and finally, the most intriguing and dominant prospect to enter the league since the last time the team picking first picked first.

And here’s what the scouts have been saying about them as we draw closer to the big night on Thursday …

Left to Right: Sekou Doumbouya, PJ Washington, Zion Williamson, Rui Hachimura, De'Andre Hunter
Photo by David Dow via NBAE/Getty Images

SEKOU DOUMBOUYA6-9, 230 – Born: December 23, 2000 – (Conakry, Guinea) – Team: Limoges CSP – one of the top international prospects in the 2019 Draft, Doumbouya has intrigued scouts with his incredible athleticism and impressive measurables; outstanding in transition, runs the floor extremely well; improving his ball-handling skills but far from a finished product; didn’t begin playing organized hoops until he was 12; active defender, very good weakside shot-blocker; solid shooting mechanics; late start means he currently doesn’t have a solid basketball IQ, feel for the game on either end of the floor; has drawn comparisons to Toronto’s Pascal Siakam; always looking to make the extra pass but can be unselfish to a fault; powerful and graceful athlete; above average three-point shooter at current stage of his career; outstanding leaping ability and strong finisher at the rim; doesn’t turn 20 years old until next Christmas; can bully smaller defenders; outstanding end-to-end speed in transition; just an average first step for a perimeter player; needs to work on off-the-ball defense; depends more on athleticism than basketball skillset at this stage of his career; in the age of potential vs. proof, Doumbouya still has a ways to go in his development but has the tools to be a two-way star at the next level.

RUI HACHIMURA6-8, 235 – Born: February 8, 1998 – (Toyama, Japan) – College: Gonzaga – intriguing prospect with big upside; good decision-maker; perfect NBA build; outstanding length (7-2 wingspan); saves his best for big opponents; almost unguardable in transition; relentless motor; potential to be a top-flight defender at next level; turned himself into a solid free throw shooter; has never played AAU ball; excellent approach to the game, hard worker; plays a controlled game for such an up-tempo athlete; has dedicated himself in the weight room; isn’t afraid of contact and uses his body well to create space; needs to improve ballhandling abilities; solid post game; loves to pull down the defensive rebound and lead the break; doesn’t have an explosive first step; as a latecomer, hasn’t developed bad habits but also lacks feel for the game; tends to force shots against bigger opponents at the rim; bit of a tweener at the forward spot; shot well from three-point range (45 percent) but only seven percent of his FG attempts were from deep – will need to expand range at the next level; in terms of high-upside players, Hachimura’s natural ability, NBA-ready frame and overall smarts is the type of player some Lottery team will likely take a shot at.

De'ANDRE HUNTER6-7, 225 – Born: December 1, 1997 – (Philadelphia, PA) – College: Virginia – besides Zion, maybe the closest to a sure thing among top 10 picks; impeccable resume at Virginia; ACC Defensive Player of the Year as a sophomore; led ‘Hoos to National Championship – tallied 27 points and nine boards while holding fellow Lottery pick, Texas Tech’s Jarrett Culver to 5-of-22 shooting; natural leader, ultimate team player; viewed as a “high floor/low ceiling” prospect; goes all-out on both ends; very good wingspan (7-2); outstanding on both the offensive and defensive glass; needs to work on ball-handling at the next level; plays above the rim; seeks and can score through contact; was ACC’s Sixth Man of the Year as a freshman; NBA-ready body at 6-7, 225; can guard 1-through-5; very good in the open floor; moves well without the ball; plays under control; shot 52 percent from the floor, 44 percent from beyond the arc as a sophomore; chance to be an elite defender at the next level; outstanding mid-range jumper; offensive game might have been even better if not for Virginia’s methodical system; one of the older players in his class – turns 22 in early December; might not develop into a superstar, but could be an outstanding two-way NBA player for a decade.

P.J. WASHINGTON6-7, 230 – Born: August 23, 1998 – (Frisco, TX) – College: Kentucky – not an elite athlete or high-flyer, the broad-shouldered Washington does a little bit of everything on both ends; can muscle his way around the paint, but also skilled on the perimeter; solidly-built and will easily be able to handle the physical rigors of the NBA; extremely mature game for such a young player; at 6-7, doesn’t have ideal forward size; extremely nimble on his feet, good agility, lateral quickness; excellent mechanics on his jumper with a high release point; expanded his range from freshman to sophomore season – shot 42 percent from deep in second season at Kentucky; should be able to step in and contribute almost right away; deadly mid-range game, great shooter from the elbow and round the key; excellent court vision and passing ability for a PF – can initiate the offense from the high post; warrior with an intense desire to win; polished, refined game for a player who’s still under 21; Washington isn’t expected to be a franchise-altering pick, but he is viewed as a pro-ready player who’s skill-set can fit into any system.

ZION WILLIAMSON6-6, 280 – Born: July 6, 2000 – (Spartanburg, SC) – College: Duke – most unique prospect to enter the Draft since Anthony Davis; been the presumptive No. 1 since high school; physical freak with all the tools – explosive, strong and extremely quick and agile for a man his size; lefty; outstanding anticipation; extremely coachable with a great basketball IQ, absorbs new information well; doesn’t turn 20 until next July; excels in the open court; underappreciated defensive skills; can probably improve on free throw (64 percent) and three-point shooting, but still shot 40 percent on 2.5 attempts over last 20 games; at 280 pounds has a 40-inch vertical and the first step of a guard; incredible on the offensive glass; plays “downhill”; not just a highlight dunker – great basketball instincts, creative post moves and without peer finishing at the rim; only third freshman (Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis) to ever win Naismith Player of the Year Award; can play either forward position and the lateral quickness and overall defensive versatility to switch out on guards; only question remains whether his overall brute strength will translate in the NBA against more physically-mature athletes.

2019 Draft Prospect Highlights: De’Andre Hunter takes a look at 2019 NBA Draft Prospect, De’Andre Hunter from Virginia.

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2019 Draft Prospect Highlights: De’Andre Hunter takes a look at 2019 NBA Draft Prospect, De’Andre Hunter from Virginia.
May 30, 2019  |  01:40

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