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2019 NBA Draft: 1st-Round Selection Order, Analyzing Top Upperclassmen Prospects

John HealyContributor IMay 20, 2019

ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 30: Rui Hachimura #21 of the Gonzaga Bulldogs shoots the ball against Norense Odiase #32 of the Texas Tech Red Raiders during the first half of the 2019 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament West Regional at Honda Center on March 30, 2019 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

In recent years, the NBA draft has primarily been filled with freshmen due to the league's "one-and-done" rule requiring prospects to play at least one year of college basketball, and this year's draft is no different. 

Many of the top prospects, including the potential top three of Zion Williamson, Ja Morant and RJ Barrett, are freshmen, with very few upperclassmen getting much buzz. 

Last year, only two upperclassmen were selected in the top 20—Mikal Bridges and Jerome Robinson—and seven taken total in the first round. 

It could continue that way in this year's draft, but there are quite a few talented upperclassmen who could see their stock rise as June 20 nears. 

       

2019 NBA 1st-Round Draft Order

1. New Orleans Pelicans

2. Memphis Grizzlies

3. New York Knicks

4. Los Angeles Lakers

5. Cleveland Cavaliers

6. Phoenix Suns

7. Chicago Bulls

8. Atlanta Hawks

9. Washington Wizards

10. Atlanta Hawks (via Dallas Mavericks)

11. Minnesota Timberwolves

12. Charlotte Hornets

13. Miami Heat

14. Boston Celtics (via Sacramento Kings)

15. Detroit Pistons

16. Orlando Magic

17. Brooklyn Nets

18. Indiana Pacers

19. San Antonio Spurs

20. Boston Celtics (via Los Angeles Clippers)

21. Oklahoma City Thunder

22. Boston Celtics

23. Utah Jazz

24. Philadelphia 76ers

25. Portland Trail Blazers

26. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Houston Rockets)

27. Brooklyn Nets (via Denver Nuggets)

28. Golden State Warriors 

29. San Antonio Spurs (via Toronto Raptors)

30. Milwaukee Bucks

         

Top Upperclassmen Prospects

Rui Hachimura, Junior, Gonzaga

The 6'8" power forward from Japan could very well be the first upperclassmen off the board and is already being heavily-linked to one lottery team in particular. 

According to Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders, Hachimura did not attend the NBA Scouting Combine in Chicago because he already has a commitment, potentially from the Minnesota Timberwolves with the No. 11 pick in the draft. 

Steve Kyler @stevekylerNBA

Heard Rui got a commitment in the lottery (Minnesota was the buzz at the Combine) — usually when you take a commitment you shut down workouts and meetings with teams. https://t.co/uCOe1wtILs

Hachimura averaged 19.7 points and 6.5 rebounds per game and shot 59.1 percent from the floor and 41.7 percent (15-for-36) from three-point range his junior year with Gonzaga, leading the team to an Elite Eight appearance. The 21-year-old would be a good addition to a frontcourt that already consists of two first overall picks in Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins.

             

Brandon Clarke, Junior, Gonzaga

Hachimura's teammate at Gonzaga could also be a potential lottery pick, too. Clarke, who is also a 6'8" power forward, could be taken as high as sixth overall after meeting with the Phoenix Suns at the NBA combine in Chicago last week. 

He also met with the Charlotte Hornets, who hold the 12th pick, and could be an ideal fit there. The Hornets are looking to beef up their interior defense, and Clarke would certainly be worth considering to address that need. The 22-year-old Canadian, who transferred to Gonzaga after two years at San Jose State, was one of the most productive shot-blockers in the NCAA last season, averaging 3.16 blocks per game and leading all of college basketball with 117 blocks. 

Clarke also had the best field-goal percentage of Division I players at 68.7 percent while averaging 16.9 points and 8.6 rebounds per game. 

       

Cameron Johnson, Senior, North Carolina

KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI - MARCH 29: Cameron Johnson #13 of the North Carolina Tar Heels drives to the basket against the Auburn Tigers during the 2019 NCAA Basketball Tournament Midwest Regional at Sprint Center on March 29, 2019 in Kansas City, Missouri. (
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Johnson, a 6'8" forward who can shoot, is not touted to be a lottery pick but could be a late first-round steal who can make an impact on a playoff-caliber team. 

The 23-year-old averaged 16.9 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game as a fifth-year senior with UNC last season and had the seventh-best three-point shooting field-goal percentage among Division I players at 45.7 percent.

The Western Pennsylvania native has been linked to the Philadelphia 76ers, whom he met with at the combine and are picking 24th, and the Portland Trail Blazers, who pick 25th. Johnson has family ties to the Philadelphia area and can serve as a swingman for Philadelphia, especially if they lose JJ Redick in free agency. 

         

Matisse Thybulle, Senior, Washington

Thybulle, a 6'6" small forward out of Washington, was a defensive force in college, winning the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year and was the 2019 Naismith Defensive Player of the Year, leading all Division I players with 3.50 steals per game. He left last week's NBA combine early after reports that the Oklahoma City Thunder made a commitment to him with the 21st overall pick, per Kyler of Basketball Insiders:

Steve Kyler @stevekylerNBA

Yep... sounds like 21 to Thunder https://t.co/X49jweWKeS

Thybulle could make an immediate impact on defense for the Thunder, though questions remain on how limited he will be offensively in the NBA. 

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