Charlotte Hornets

The Observer’s Top 30 players in Thursday’s NBA draft

Former LSU forward Ben Simmons has long been a front-runner to be the top pick in this year’s NBA draft.
Former LSU forward Ben Simmons has long been a front-runner to be the top pick in this year’s NBA draft. AP

The Observer’s analysis of the 30 top prospects available for Thursday’s NBA draft, their likely pro position, their size and age:

Point guards

Kris Dunn, Providence, 6-4, 205 pounds, 22: If you like your point guards big, Dunn is your guy with a 6-foot-9 wingspan. He’s most effective in transition and in pick-and-roll. Initial college career was slowed by shoulder injuries.

Dejounte Murray, Washington, 6-5, 170 pounds, 19: Like Dunn, he has great length with a 6-9 ½ wingspan. A flashy dribbler with big-time crossover moves. He needs to develop physically; not many 170-pound players last long in the NBA.

Wade Baldwin, Vanderbilt, 6-4, 202 pounds, 20: He averaged 40 percent from the college 3-point line in two seasons for the Commodores. Has a strong upper frame, which helps him create plenty of free-throw attempts by drawing contact in the lane.

Demetrius Jackson, Notre Dame, 6-2, 194 pounds, 21: Less than ideal height by NBA point-guard standards, but Jackson has a strong body to hold up dribbling in traffic. His 3-point shooting regressed from 44 percent as a sophomore to 33 percent as a junior.

Shooting guards

Buddy Hield, Oklahoma, 6-5, 212 pounds, 22: Hield was a prolific long-range shooter his final college season, making 147 3-pointers. That was the most 3s by one college player since Stephen Curry made 162 at Davidson.

Jamal Murray, Kentucky, 6-5, 201 pounds, 19: A high-volume 3-point shooter in his one college season, Murray averaged 41 percent from the college arc. At the NBA level he could become a scoring point guard or at minimum a combo guard.

Malachi Richardson, Syracuse, 6-6, 200 pounds, 20: Richardson was tremendous in Syracuse’s unexpected Final Four run, including a 21-point second half against Virginia. He was uncertain of whether to stay in the draft until hearing positive feedback at the combine.

Timothe Luwawu, French pro, 6-7, 205 pounds, 21: He had a big season with a Serbia pro team. He has the wingspan of a center at 6-11 and made 39 percent of his 3-pointers. Good hands as both a passer and a finisher both lefty and righty.

Malik Beasley, Florida State, 6-5, 190 pounds, 19: He caught the ACC off guard with a stellar freshman season, averaging 15.6 points and 39 percent from 3-point range. He’s best when attacking the rim, both in transition and the half court.

Furkan Korkmaz, Turkish pro, 6-7, 185 pounds, 18: A great shooter who averaged 45 percent from 3-point range. Another teenager whose body must fill out to handle the NBA rigors.

Patrick McCaw, Nevada-Las Vegas, 6-7, 181 pounds, 20: A fine straight-line driver to the rim. Needs to improve the mechanics on his jump shot, although he still made a respectable 35 percent from the college 3-point line.

Small forwards

Ben Simmons, LSU, 6-10, 239 pounds, 19: Was penciled in as the frontrunner for the top pick before ever playing a college game. A terrific passer-ballhandler who needs work on his jump shot (33 percent from 3).

Brandon Ingram, Duke, 6-9, 186 pounds, 18: Had a tremendous freshman season for the Blue Devils, making 41 percent of his 3-point attempts and consistently beating defenders off the dribble.

Jaylen Brown, California, 6-7, 223 pounds, 19: He’s physically imposing with a 7-foot wingspan. The Bears depended on him heavily for scoring. He wasn’t particularly efficient in that system last season.

Taurean Prince, Baylor, 6-8, 220 pounds, 21: He’s physically mature in a way that could distinguish him in this class. Likes playing through contact in the lane and made 38 percent from 3-point range last season.

Denzel Valentine, Michigan State, 6-6, 210 pounds, 22: The Big Ten Player of the Year, Valentine can score (19 ppg.), pass (7.8 assists) and rebound (7.5). Might struggle defensively in NBA matchups.

DeAndre Bembry, St. Joseph’s, 6-6, 207 pounds, 21: Former Charlottean is a versatile forward. Offensively, he’s a scorer (17.4 ppg.) and a passer (4.5 assists). Guarded everyone from point guards to power forwards in college.

Power forwards

Dragan Bender, Croatian pro, 7-1, 225 pounds, 18: With so many NBA teams wanting a “stretch 4,” Bender’s combination of size and 3-point shooting (36 percent in his first season in Israel’s upper division) is an appealing resume.

Marquese Chriss, Washington, 6-10, 233 pounds, 18: Chriss moves well for his size, with a quick first step, and has refined spin moves to get to the rim. He’s also a decent shooter, making 35 percent from 3.

Henry Ellenson, Marquette, 7-foot, 244 pounds, 19: He has prototypical size for an NBA power forward and his body has filled in, atypical of players entering the draft after one college season. Averaged 17 points and 7.8 rebounds last season.

Skal Labissiere, Kentucky, 7-foot, 216 pounds, 20: Labissiere, who is from Haiti, didn’t play much organized basketball growing up. He has a pro body and good hands. Kentucky tried to make him a post-up option to mixed results.

Domantas Sabonis, Gonzaga, 6-10, 231 pounds, 20: The son of former NBA star Arvydas Sabonis, Domantes chose college basketball over European pro options. Much like his father, he’s a crafty post scorer with great fundamentals.

Brice Johnson, North Carolina, 6-11, 209 pounds, 21: He’s a very good athlete who is effective in the post. Not a particularly strong long-range shooter, which is now the expectation to play power forward.

Cheick Diallo, Kansas, 6-9, 220 pounds, 19: He has exceptional length, with a 7-4 wingspan. He didn’t have much impact with the Jayhawks and has a long way to come offensively by NBA standards.

Juan Hernangomez, Spanish pro, 6-9, 220 pounds, 20: Has held up well in Spain’s top league. He’s a versatile scorer whether as a spot-up shooter, pick-and-roll player or in drives to the rim. Seems to be rising up the draft charts late.

Centers

Jakob Poeltl, Utah, 7-1, 240 pounds, 20: An Austrian who has great speed and quickness for a 7-footer. Stronger defensively than offensively, he needs to develop more refined post moves to have a significant NBA impact.

Deyonta Davis, Michigan State, 6-10, 240 pounds, 19: Turned pro after his freshman year. The Hornets are on record as saying they need a rim protector; Davis has demonstrated ability in that area.

Diamond Stone, Maryland, 6-10, 255, 19: Can provide some of that low-post scoring that has gone out of vogue among college big men. Shoots about 80 percent from the foul line.

Damian Jones, Vanderbilt, 6-11, 245 pounds, 20: With many NBA teams looking to increase the pace of their offenses, Jones’ foot speed and shooting range (out to 18 feet) could be big pluses.

Ante Zizic, Croatian pro, 6-11, 230 pounds, 19: Strong pick-and-roll finisher who averaged eight trips per game to the foul line last season.

Bonnell: 704-358-5129; @rick_bonnell

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