2019 NBA Draft: Ranking Best Forwards Available

Who is the best forward in the 2019 NBA draft? The Front Office breaks down the best 20 wing players available.
By Jeremy Woo ,

The NBA draft is right around the corner and we'll finally get to see a host of forwards we've watched all year find their NBA home. R.J. Barrett, Cam Reddish, De'Andre Hunter and Rui Hachimura headline a list of notable players. We rank them and the entire host of players who could play on the wing in the NBA next season. Our complete list of the top 100 prospects in the draft can be found here, and our latest mock draft projections here.

1. R.J. Barrett, Duke | Freshman

While most scouts agree Barrett is likely to have a productive, quality career, there is some debate about his style of play and whether it will be conducive to winning games. He’s a natural scorer who should be able to continue doing so at the NBA level, but relentlessly hunts shots to the point where it can be a detractor. To maximize his ability, his shot selection must improve, and he needs to refine himself into a more consistent perimeter shooter, both of which are certainly within reach. At the college level, his strength, coordination, and particularly strong left hand coupled with an intense competitive approach paid dividends. In the pros, teams will sag off of him until he proves dangerous, and his apparent lack of interest in defense may become more of a problem. When Zion Williamson missed time this season, you would have liked to see Barrett empower his teammates more. His natural tendency is to look to score, and though he’s a very capable playmaker with the ball in his hands, those assists often came more as a byproduct of his ball-dominant role than in the game flow. Still, with his work ethic and productivity, he should last in the NBA for a long time.

2. Cam Reddish, Duke | Freshman 

Reddish has long confounded scouts, possessing a great deal of latent ability that has been mired in inconsistent play. Reddish’s ability to move the ball, shoot from three and guard multiple positions are known strengths, and his profile as a big, skilled wing fits neatly into the modern NBA. Still, to this point in his career, he’s mostly been a tease. A touted recruit coming in, he was scarcely a true difference-maker for Duke, functioning as a secondary option while Zion Williamson and R.J. Barrett carried the load. None of that was a total surprise, but it was disappointing, particularly given his struggles finishing in the paint and subsequent over-reliance on a streaky pull-up game. The fact he was adjusting to not having the ball in his hands as much isn’t a great excuse, although Duke’s floor spacing was often poor. Reddish passes the eye test as well as anyone, but will have to iron out his issues at the next level.

3. De'Andre Hunter, Virginia | Sophomore

Hunter peaked at a good time with a star turn at the Final Four, and while he may not be a franchise-changing player, he has a chance to be a solid, useful one. Depending on which team you are, the fact that he's older and more prepared to play in the NBA tomorrow than most of the draft’s top prospects makes him a lottery option. But the upside with him is not immense. Hunter is functionally strong, but not extremely fluid or explosive, and lacks natural instincts as a scorer playing off the dribble. Most scouts still don’t entirely trust his jumper. He’s an unflashy all-around player who can defend a variety of positions, and won’t hurt you in any one area. It does help that you more or less know exactly what you’re getting with him, and the hope is that he’ll be a versatile, defensive-minded starter who knocks down open threes early in his career. He’s someone you value for floor more than upside.

4. Sekou Doumbouya, Limoges | International

Doumbouya showed real improvement over the course of his first season in France’s top league. He’s still learning the game, but has solid tools, a projectable body, and legitimate shooting potential as a combo forward, although he may be best suited as a smaller four-man. He brings versatility on the defensive end and is capable of defending on the perimeter, with potential to be heavily switchable. It’s key to remember that with his December birthday, he is expected to be the youngest player drafted. He’s an intriguing long-term project with a nice amount of upside.

5. Rui Hachimura, Gonzaga | Junior

Hachimura continues to intrigue teams with his NBA tools and efficient scoring, and the continued progress of his jump shot is a big key going forward. He’s shot it sparingly from outside, but if he can become a consistent three-point threat (which based on his rapid development in other areas and demonstrable shooting touch, seems possible), he should be able to maximize his skill set as a four-man. He is less explosive than he is strong and smooth, but will be able to keep up physically at the next level right away. There’s still room for improvement in terms of diversifying his offense, and his defensive effort is solid, although his awareness can be inconsistent. With his productivity and physical gifts, Hachimura is the type of player teams will want to take a chance on, despite the fact he’s older than most of the top prospects.

6. Nassir Little, North Carolina | Freshman 

Little clearly boasts the requisite physical tools to be an NBA wing: he’s strong, agile and effective as a defender on the perimeter. But he has a lot of learning and development to do after an inconsistent year in college. He left scouts questioning his value with and without the ball in his hands, and his lack of pronounced pro-ready skills. He needs shots created for him right now, and will have to expand his off-dribble game (and jumper). Still, with his natural athletic ability, he may not have too far to go to at least become a usable role player.

7. KZ Okpala, Stanford | Sophomore

A long, athletic wing, Okpala has all the tools to be a quality pro and was at times a mismatch problem in college, capable of slashing into the paint and drawing contact. He lacks a degree of polish and feel and was perhaps miscast as Stanford’s primary option. He has terrific size on the wing and went through a late growth spurt in high school, and the hope is that his game takes off as he continues to get acclimated to his body and adds strength. His outside shooting is a key area of improvement. Okpala has the type of upside teams like to gamble on, and he’s a late bloomer, but it may take him some time to get acclimated and tap into his full ability.

8. Cameron Johnson, North Carolina | Senior

Johnson stayed healthy and shot an impressive 45% three-point clip in his final year of college, and although he’s just turned 23, he has a potentially elite skill to sell that might make him immediately useful in an NBA offense. While he is slender and not especially shifty, his height and ability to get his jumper off should be enough to keep him on the floor, although he could be more dynamic attacking the basket. Johnson likely won’t be more than an average NBA defender, either, based on his body type and stiff hips. Still, as long as he remains a prolific shooter, he should have a place in the league.

9. Talen Horton-Tucker, Iowa State | Freshman

Horton-Tucker is a polarizing player from scout to scout—positionless in a fashion that’s tricky to project. His ability to create shots for himself and others off the dribble makes him an intriguing, if unorthodox prospect, and not many college players can match his natural ability to play on the move and score creatively. But he’s not a plus athlete and has a lot of work to do on his body, and even then, there’s no guarantee he’ll have a great fit defensively. Horton-Tucker is extremely long, but not particularly tall, and will need to land with a coach and organization willing to help find him an optimal role long-term. If he puts everything together, he could be uniquely effective, but it may require a bit of patience, and he’ll have to put the work in, as well.

10. Chuma Okeke, Auburn | Sophomore

After tearing his ACL in the NCAA tournament, Okeke chose to remain in the draft, and he showed enough this season to pique interest from teams as a potential 3-and-D forward. Where he might have once been viewed as a tweener, Okeke is an interesting fit from a positionless standpoint given his ability to knock down shots, rebound and defend both forward spots. He’s light on his feet, has great hands and racks up blocks and steals. If he continues to improve as a shooter and expand his perimeter game, Okeke could blossom as a low-usage role player at the NBA level. The injury could turn him into a strong value pick in the early second round.

11. Grant Williams, Tennessee | Junior

Williams was an exceptional college player, but there are still questions about how elements of his game translate at the next level. His strength, smarts and scoring touch are all real positives, but Williams is going to have to make big strides as a jump shooter to stick around. His post-up game and rebounding seem likely to be hampered a bit against NBA frontlines, and he’s unlikely to ever create much of his own offense on the perimeter. Working in his favor: he’s an outstanding passer and decision-maker with positive intangibles. While it’s reasonable to bet on him figuring out a way to be successful, his on-court limitations might require a strong system fit for him to carve out a long-term role, and his upside isn’t extreme.

12. Louis King, Oregon | Freshman 

King improved as the season went on, and as he moved further away from a high school knee injury that sidelined him for about a year. He has NBA talent, starting with his perimeter shooting, but he'll have to diversify his game to make a significant impact going forward. King made outside shots with impressive consistency down the stretch as Oregon went on a surprising late-season streak, but he had some struggles attacking the paint and doesn’t have elite-level burst off the dribble. With his size and ability to handle and play on the perimeter, King has the type of upside worth taking a flier on, but he will need to get stronger and figure out where his bread is going to be buttered before he can get there.

13. Dylan Windler, Belmont | Senior

Windler’s size, perimeter shooting and quick release are clear selling points for NBA teams, and he has enough of a complementary skill set that he may have a chance to carve out a role. He has deep range and is a solid positional rebounder and ball-mover, although he’s built thinly in the upper body and may have issues with NBA physicality. Defensively, he appears bound to struggle matching up with strong, athletic wings, something that could quickly become a stumbling point on his path to playing time. Windler runs fairly well, but is somewhat stiff changing directions and struggles creating offense for himself. If he keeps making shots at a high clip, he can earn an extended opportunity.

14. Darius Bazley, Princeton High School | Age: 18

Bazley made headlines with a string of decisions that led him out of his commitment to Syracuse and subsequent plans to play in the G League this season, instead working out in private while interning at New Balance. While nobody has seen much of him in a competitive settings over the past year, scouts were less than impressed with his showings at All-American practices and the Nike Skills Academy. Sometimes we incorrectly conflate positional length and size with versatility, and right now, Bazley has to prove his offensive skill development is trending into a playable direction. The hope is that he can become a useful defender given his length and athleticism, and round out the rest of his game enough to make positive contributions.

15. Deividas Sirvydis, Lietuvos Rytas | International

An intelligent perimeter player with solid shooting and passing skills, Sirvydis emerged as one of the better European prospects in his age group and has a solid chance of being selected should he stay in the draft. He can play off the dribble or catch and boasts a sweet, projectable three-point stroke. While he’s not a great athlete and needs some time to fill out physically, he’s so young still (turning 19 in June) that he’d be a strong option to stash overseas. Sirvydis may never be a great defender, but if his offensive impact continues to progress at a good rate, he could become a quality pro in the long run.

16. Admiral Schofield, Tennessee | Senior 

Schofield is a tough, physical forward with strong intangibles, and shot the ball extremely well from outside as a senior. While he is not especially tall or fleet of foot for his position, the hope is he’ll be able to space the floor and defend wings and smaller bigs effectively. He has some issues getting to the basket at times, and will have to diversify his offense a bit. On the defensive end, his heavy build can actually pose issues matching up, and for someone who played a ton of minutes, he didn’t rack up a ton of blocks or steals. Schofield is the type of person you want to bet on, but he’ll have to continue proving himself going forward.

17. DaQuan Jeffries, Tulsa | Senior

A no-frills, undersized combo forward, Jeffries has a nice blend of strength, explosiveness and ability to hit set shots that could make him a viable role player. He’s not someone who jumps off the page, but he can be relied upon to make the correct plays and won’t hurt you in any one area. His value will come as a glue guy and not a scorer, but he seems to understand his limitations and is athletic and smart enough that he might be able to stick on someone’s bench.

18. Miye Oni, Yale | Junior

A no-frills, undersized combo forward, Jeffries has a nice blend of strength, explosiveness and ability to hit set shots that could make him a viable role player. He’s not someone who jumps off the page, but he can be relied upon to make the correct plays and won’t hurt you in any one area. His value will come as a glue guy and not a scorer, but he seems to understand his limitations and is athletic and smart enough that he might be able to stick on someone’s bench.

19. Jaylen Hoard, Wake Forest | Freshman

Hoard is an interesting project given his athletic tools and 7'1" wingspan, but didn’t have a particularly strong year on a struggling team at Wake Forest. Shot-creation isn’t his strength, and his value lies in his potential as a multipositional defender who can hit set shots. Hoard attempted just 53 threes and made just 22% of them, but does have some touch at the free throw line. He’s a good athlete, and the hope is that the French import will look at least marginally better playing alongside better players.

20. Terance Mann, Florida State | Senior

Mann’s passing feel, ability to improvise and willing defense gives him a chance to find a role in the NBA. His perimeter shooting is a bit suspect, and will be a determinant as far as whether he sticks. But the versatility he supplies as a ball-moving wing with some size is intriguing, and his profile as a high-IQ, athletic wing makes him a good candidate for a two-way contract at worst. His decision-making skills and unselfishness have made him an endearing option late in the draft.

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