Image Courtesy of USA Today

The Madness continues and several college players have shown and will continue to demonstrate their NBA worth this month. As basketball season comes to a close, the NBA draft is the next step in their coveted journey. Let’s examine the top players for the draft.

1. New York Knicks – Zion Williamson, Big, Duke

Zion exploded on the scene this season and the basketball world has taken notice. He has a high basketball IQ. His athleticism is so elite, he doesn’t get credit for the skills he actually possesses. He’s a good ball handler and passer. Williamson has terrific footwork and ability to change speeds forcefully (minus the Nike shoe blowout). He’s a lockdown defender in zone with excellent instincts rebounding, shot-blocking and getting in the passing lanes and has been compared to greats like Charles Barkley or Blake Griffin.

2. Phoenix Suns – Temetrius Jamel “Ja” Morant, Guard, Murray State

Morant was a top-five pick entering March Madness. His performance over the weekend positioned him as the second player on the board. The Suns’ young talent has everything but a point guard. Morant is an elite athlete at the lead guard position, much like De’Aaron Fox. Morant gets to wherever he wants, whenever he wants on the court. He attacks the paint like a wing player. He’s a playmaker defensively and great guard rebounder.

3. Cleveland Cavaliers – R.J. Barrett, Wing, Duke

Barrett fits a big need for the Cavs because they have a huge hole on the perimeter. Like Michael Redd, Barrett has good physical tools for the modern NBA wing. In his toolbox are size, length, frame and athleticism. He’s a versatile, intelligent player with terrific scoring instincts who can play on or off the ball. He’s excellent in the pick and roll and can guard the wing position, too.

4. Chicago Bulls – Jarrett Culver, Guard, Texas Tech

Culver is a great prospect and his March Madness performance has him rocketing up the board. A guard isn’t the perfect fit, but he’s the most talented player on the board. He has excellent size for a guard with a 6’9” wingspan. He plays above the rim and has a post-game better than some big men. He uses his size to score over smaller guards in the post. Playing more point guard during his sophomore year, his ball handling has improved tremendously.

5. Atlanta Hawks – Cam Reddish, Wing, Duke

Reddish is another uber-talented wing. Zion has taken some of his shine away, but there’s no denying he has the talent to be a top-notch NBA player. He had a solid jumper in high school, but if his shot returns, he’d be a great pick for the Hawks. He possesses outstanding size, length and fluidity for a wing prospect. Reddish is a capable standstill shooter when he has his rhythm going. The Hawks don’t need a guard; they need a wing to attack the rim.

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