Now that the Big Ten landscape has solidified after players that tested the waters have withdrawn from the NBA draft, and players ready to move on have decided to remain in the draft, we are all focused on June 20th — the 2019 NBA Draft. Below, we have highlighted the five top NBA prospects from the Big Ten and where they are most likely to land.
Romeo Langford – Indiana
Pick range: #8-18
Before the season, it seemed like a foregone conclusion that Langford would be a lottery pick, but over the course of the 2018-2019 season, Langford’s stock among analysts has taken a small dip. We later learned that Romeo Langford played through injury for the season, but are NBA scouts willing to give him the benefit of the doubt? We further breakdown Romeo Langford’s draft stock in his 2019 NBA draft profile.
Detroit at #15 has the most common prediction and makes a lot of sense seeing that the Piston’s guard positions are still up in the air for the future (beyond Kennard and SG/SF Glenn Robinson III, who only has a year left on his deal). Miami (#13) and Orlando (#16) are also very likely landing spots if he falls. One would think, Brooklyn (#17), who has 3 picks between 17-31, and Indiana (#18) would likely be the lowest he could slip. Conversely, the GM-less Washington Wizards at #9 are rumored to like him as well, so there is the potential he may go earlier than expected.
Most likely landing spots: Detroit, Miami, or Orlando
Bruno Fernando – Maryland
Pick range: #9-20 (but a potential “Wow, he is still in the green room?” candidate)
Fernando is one of the most productive bigs in this year’s NBA Draft. He has been a a solid defender and great rebounder during his time in College Park; however, he is not the most polished, particularly offensively. Time in the NBA will help him develop his game, but his physical attributes are close to being NBA-ready from day one. Early on, he is most likely to be a high-energy guy but eventually could develop into something more well-rounded to service an NBA franchise..
Every team between 9 and 15 seems to be targeting a big at some point in the draft, so just about all of them are in play, with the exception of Minnesota who appears to be locked in on Gonzaga’s Hachimura if available, and if not likely will take a guard. Unfortunately for Fernando, there are quite a few bigs available in this range, including the aforementioned Hachimura, Doumbouya, Kabengele, Bol Bol, Bitadze, and Hayes.
Atlanta seems like a solid fit. Fernando could provide an interior presence and help rebound the shots from their voluminous shooting guards. Similarly, they have the #8 and #10 picks, allowing them to pick up another perimeter player like Reddish or Alexander-Walker and still grab Fernando. However, in recent days, Fernando seems to be slipping in some mocks . So, don’t be surprised if he ends up falling to the late first round area.
Most likely landing spots: Atlanta, Charlotte, or Boston
Carsen Edwards – Purdue
Pick range: #25-37
Carsen Edwards has steadily climbed up draft boards since his phenomenal NCAA Tournament performance during this post season. While he is not a traditional point guard and a tad undersized to play shooting guard, his outstanding scoring ability and overall play-making skills will certainly overcome some of these deficiencies. Many teams feel he could be a major spark coming off the bench and provide instant offense. One player that has taken on a similar role is Toronto Raptor’s Fred Vanvleet that is getting major minutes in the 2019 NBA playoffs.
Originally thought of as a early-to-midsecond round pick, Edwards is beginning to gain steam in the #27-31 range. Teams like Golden State, Houston, and San Antonio could all use a multi-talented offensive player like Edwards to bolster their bench.
Similarly, these elite coaches are among the most likely to take a chance on him and figure out a way to make him successful. Brooklyn is also a strong possibility. They have 3 picks in the top 31, including #27 and #31. The Nets currently do have a logjam at the guard positions, but Treveon Graham and Shabazz Napier are non-guaranteed contracts, D’Angelo Russell’s fate is undecided, and combo shooting guard/small forwards Joe Harris and Allen Crabbe only have one year left on their contracts. As a result, they actually do have some flexibility and might be willing to take a chance. If Edwards falls past #31, Atlanta appears to be an obvious choice at #35. Likewise, New Orleans at #37.
Most likely landing spots: Brooklyn, Golden State, Houston, or Atlanta
Isaiah Roby – Nebraska
Pick range: #35-50
Roby is one of the rare players that has had his career trajectory change dramatically over the last 2 months. During this period, Roby has skyrocketed up draft boards. At the end of the season, it was extremely unlikely that he would be drafted. But now, some scouts believe he could go very early in the second round. This is in large part to an impressive combine performance and another solid showing at his agency’s showcase. Roby has a lot of traits that translate well to the next level. He is long (7’3 wingspan) and athletic. He has explosive jumping ability.
And, perhaps most important, he is an elite defender that can guard pretty much every position on the floor. He also rebounds well and is a good passer. Offensively, he needs to continue to improve. He is great at driving and elevating around the rim. But, he has struggled to create his own shot at times. He is a decent shooter (averaged about 1 three point make a game) but isn’t a major offensive threat. Still, his defense and athleticism alone have many teams interested.
Atlanta has picks #35, #41, and #42. With their desperate need to improve on defense, Roby could be an ideal fit. Likewise, Philadelphia has 4 second round picks. It’s difficult to pinpoint where Roby might go in the draft because just about every team could use a player like him, from Minnesota to Indiana. Another potential sleeper could be Chicago. Roby is from Illinois and is represented by Chicago-based Priority Sports. The Bulls LOVE to draft Priority Sports clients.
Most likely landing spots: Atlanta, Philadelphia, Minnesota, LA Clippers, Chicago, San Antonio, or Indiana
Ignas Brazdeikis – Michigan
Pick range: #40-60
Brazdeikis illustrated his great natural scoring ability this season, whether on the drive or shooting the three. He burst onto the scene and made an instant impact; yet, still seems to have a lot of growth potential left. He is a no-brainer pick in the second round.
A team like Philadelphia (#44 and #54) could really use another three point shooter, like Brazdeikis. Sacramento and Charlotte also are other intriguing options. Each have a nice young core and could take a swing on Brazdeikis hoping to add another dangerous offensive weapon.
Most likely landing spots: Philadelphia, Minnesota, Sacramento, Charlotte, Utah, or New Orleans
Honorable Mentions: Big Ten Players on the Cusp of Getting Called on June 20th
Tyler Cook – Iowa
Cook shows a lot of potential versatility at the next level. His 6’9 250 frame will allow him to be able to utilize his strength and athleticism. He can score around the basket and can rebound at a high rate. He has glimpses of great explosiveness. His defense greatly improved this past season and likely will continue to improve with more coaching. His only glaring weakness is shooting. During his entire Iowa career, he only attempted 21 three-pointers and only made 3 of them.
While he is on the outside looking in right now after originally being projected as a mid-second round prospect, don’t be surprised if a team that values versatility and is in a position to take the time to develop a prospect decides to take a chance on him. Potentially even Golden State (#58) or Toronto (#59).
Jordan Poole – Michigan
The man they call “Swaggy Poole” is another nice offensive weapon prospect. He can shoot the ball. Unfortunately, sometimes, he shoots just a little too much. He will occasionally take difficult, contested shots and, when he is feeling it, will fall under the influence of irrational confidence. Still, these are all traits that can be worked out under good coaching and a good system.
Like Cook, he is currently on the outside of the draft. But, you never know when a team might take a risk on a high-ceiling shooter like Poole. Sacramento has the last pick in the draft and this might be potential opportunity for them to add another shot maker like him to the roster, as they try to establish a Golden State-like offensive system. Either way, even if not drafted, Poole will have many suitors on the open market.