NBA Scouting Director Talks Zion Williamson, RJ Barrett, & More

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Kentucky and Duke both went undefeated on their recent foreign trips, with the Wildcats going 4-0 in the Bahamas and the Blue Devils 3-0 in Canada.

Both teams feature exciting young players who are projected among the top picks in the 2019 NBA Draft.

Here are the thoughts of one NBA director of scouting who saw both teams, along with the players' projected draft pick according to ESPN's Jonathan Givony.

1. R.J. Barrett | Fr. | Duke | No. 1

"He dominates every game he's in. He's got a killer instinct to him. He's a smooth player. He's probably a starter from Day 1 in the NBA, I would think. I mean, that guy's a talented player. Size, versatile, there's nothing he doesn't have."



As for questions about his shot, which Barrett worked on this summer with trainer Draw Hanlen, the scout said, "Every player, even if their stroke is broken, their stroke gets better in the NBA because it's all they have to worry about now. Even guys, if they're still bad, they're better than when they came out of college just because they work at it so much. It would be about the last thing I would worry about with him."

2. Zion Williamson | Fr. | Duke | No. 7

"I think Coach K's right: I think he is graceful [at 285 pounds]. My concern is over the course of 82 games, that's a lot of weight to lug around at that size. If you play 82 games trying to carry that much baggage, it could be a concern going forward. Unless he drops some weight and can learn to keep it off, like [Caleb] Swanigan was. He's not as big as Swanigan was, but I'm using that as an example. That guy lost that weight and learned to keep it off and that body works for him.



"If that body works for Zion, fine. But he can't be like the normal player who is going to gain weight as he gets older. That's where the concern is. Most guys if they're 280 now, when they're 26 what's he going to be? Most guys if they're 215 now, they're going to be 240 when they're 26.

"Is it a concern going foward? It has to be, and yet he carries it well now so it's not like he can't dominate."

3. Keldon Johnson | Fr. | Kentucky | No. 13

"He's big and he's athletic. His stroke has got to get better but it's not broken. It's a little inconsistent. I think he was over 40 percent from three down there (44 percent). He shot a couple of airballs. It's not quite there yet, but it's fine. It's not a broken stroke. The kid's a big-time player. I think his best asset is I think the guy can become a monster defender, like a monster defender. Even if he can just do that, he's going to be fine.



"He's got NBA athleticism, NBA size, typical two-guard size so I think the kid's a top-10 pick."

4. P.J. Washington | So. | Kentucky | No. 20

"His body got a lot better over the summer. He's thinner; he lost some weight. He's still kind of a, what is he at the NBA level? He's a little bit undersized as a power forward. I don't think he's a three. I don't know. He's like a funky size, but he drives the ball to the rim with power. He finishes. He's not the greatest athlete in the world, but he's good enough. Knows how to play. He's gotten better. He really helped himself coming back, he made a good decision.



"If that kid would've left his name in, he either goes undrafted or he gets picked in the 50s and he's over in Europe somewhere. He helped himself coming back to school; it was a wise decision."

5. Nick Richards | So. | Kentucky | N/A

"I think he helped himself immensely. When I went down there and scouted that event, I thought he was by far the most pleasant surprise from the standpoint of how much better he's gotten. I think the light came on for that kid between the end of last year and this year. Last year I didn't think the kid looked like he belonged. You couldn't see that kid on an NBA court last year.



"Now, you're like, that guy's a starting center in the NBA. I kind of wish he was a bit of a better shot-blocker than he is, but against Mega [Bemax], he was great. He's made fantastic progress. Fantastic."


Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who runs ZAGSBLOG.com and contributes to The New York Times. Follow Adam on Twitter.

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