As the Cleveland Cavaliers become less watchable by the game, we’d like to offer you some alternative viewing experiences. The Cavs will almost assuredly be picking at the top of the 2019 NBA Draft, and it’ll be important to keep tabs on all of the top prospects this winter. That might be a challenge this year, as the class could have a lot of fluctuation during the season, especially outside of the top five. That can make it difficult to keep track of everyone.
But never fear — we will be here to provide your weekly watch guide to all of the top prospects. Each week, we will break out the best games of the week for NBA Draft interest, including who will be matching up and where to find the week’s top games in college basketball and Europe.
This week is a weird one, as it’s Thanksgiving Tournament week. Pretty much any marquee game coming down the pike is part of one of these tournaments, and there are likely to be several good games this week that aren’t set in stone yet. We’ll do our best to direct you to where these might happen, but won’t break down individual matchups, outside of the first round games.
Duke vs. San Diego State - 4:30 p.m., ESPN2 (Maui Invitational)
Duke: Cameron Reddish, Zion Williamson, R.J. Barrett, Tre Jones
San Diego State: Jalen McDaniels
The opening round of the Maui Invitational features Zion Williamson getting an interesting test. San Diego State is a quality mid-major opponent, and while they may not give Duke a fight on the scoreboard, they play sound defense and boast a team full of athletes. The best of those athletes is power forward Jalen McDaniels, a potential first-round pick who is a good team defender and one of the country’s more skilled rebounders. This game is notable because it is the first true matchup of Williamson vs. an NBA-level athlete at the four. McDaniels is better than even P.J. Washington, and how he stands up against Zion in the half court is going to be must-watch. This could be the first adversity Williamson faces.
Arizona vs. Iowa State - 9 p.m., ESPNU (Maui Invitational)
Arizona: Emmanuel Akot, Brandon Williams
Iowa State: Lindell Wigginton, Talen Horton-Tucker
This is the first real game for Iowa State, who has two NBA prospects in their backcourt in scoring guard Lindell Wigginton and athletic defender Talen Horton-Tucker. Wigginton is an impressive scorer, but he really hasn’t found his way into strong play in other areas. Meanwhile Horton-Tucker probably isn’t a 2019 NBA Draft prospect, but he’ll get an NBA shot eventually as he’s a physical freak, at 6-4 with a monstrous 7-1 wingspan.
USC vs. Texas Tech - 9:30 p.m., ESPN2 (Hall of Fame Classic)
USC: Kevin Porter, Nikola Rackocevic
Texas Tech: Jarrett Culver
Texas Tech’s Jarrett Culver is a sneaky lottery pick, as he’s a strong scoring guard who has adapted well into the lead playmaking role for the Red Raiders, and appears to have found a three-point jumper. Meanwhile, Porter looked really good in USC’s game against Vanderbilt, and he might be the PAC-12’s most athletic player at this point. This game should be fairly fun as a nightcap.
Gonzaga vs. Illinois - 11:30 p.m., ESPN2 (Maui Invitational)
Gonzaga: Zach Norvell, Rui Hachimura, Brandon Clarke
Illinois: Ayo Dosunmu
Illinois isn’t going to survive this game, but it’s a fun matchup between Josh Perkins and Norvell for Gonzaga and Dosunmu, who looks very much like a first-round prospect so far for the Fighting Illini. This game will show us some real evidence of Dosunmu’s defensive capabilities, and it should also be a chance for Hachimura to capitalize on what’s going to be a gigantic mismatch on the interior.
Duke plays at 8 p.m. on ESPN in Maui, probably against Auburn.
The Hall of Fame Classic Title Game will likely feature Nebraska against either USC or Texas Tech. That’s at 8:30PM.
Marquette vs. Kansas - 7 p.m. - ESPN2 (NIT Tip-Off)
Marquette: Markus Howard, Sam Hauser
Kansas: Quentin Grimes, Udoka Azubuike, Devon Dotson
Howard and Hauser are really going to stress Kansas’s backcourt duo of Dotson and Grimes, who haven’t really looked the best defensively early this season. Both Golden Eagles are fantastic shooters, and work very hard to get themselves open looks, meaning Kansas is going to have to pay a lot of attention to them off ball. This will be a good chance to see if Grimes’s early passiveness against Michigan State on this end were an aberration, or more indicative of some long-term red flags in his game.
Montana State vs. Arkansas - 8 p.m., SEC Network (Hardwood Showcase)
Montana State: Tyler Hall
Arkansas: Daniel Gafford
Montana State has one of the country’s most interesting shooting prospects in Tyler Hall. Arkansas has the country’s best rim protector in Daniel Gafford. This could get weird and funky.
Also watch the Maui Championship (Likely Duke/Gonzaga) at 5 p.m. on ESPN, and the Consolation Game (San Diego State/Iowa State?) at 2:30 p.m. on ESPN2.
If the Cancun Challenge matches up SMU and Penn State, you’ll want to see Josh Reaves of the Nittany Lions at 8:30 p.m.
Texas vs. North Carolina - 7:30 p.m., Fox Sports 1 (Las Vegas Invitational)
Texas: Andrew Jones, Kerwin Roach
UNC: Nassir Little, Coby White
The guard matchup here is one of the best of the early season, with White and Little getting a good battle from Jones and Roach. Jones should be a good test for White at the point guard spot, as he’s a long defender and pretty capable pick-and-roll creator who should be able to get to the rim against the UNC defense. Meanwhile, Roach is strong enough to match Little, who has been impressing with his cutting and rebounding so far. Both Longhorns are likely second round picks, while the UNC guys are likely top ten picks, but this is far from a matchup advantage for the Heels.
Las Vegas Invitational: Watch wherever UCLA ends up, either UCLA/UNC or UCLA Texas at 1:30 or 3:30 p.m.
Marshall vs. Maryland - 6 p.m., Big Ten Network
Marshall: Jon Elmore
Maryland: Jalen Smith
Join me on the hipster Marshall bandwagon. The Thundering Herd play an NBA offensive system, they do it at a pace that would make Paul Westhead blush, and they sport my personal favorite scorer in the country in Jon Elmore, who is a second-round prospect. On the other side is Maryland and Jalen Smith, who is a potential first-round prospect as a rim-protecting four. Use this first glimpse at Smith as a vehicle to jumping on the bandwagon of the mid-major ecosystem’s most dangerous team.
NIT Tip-Off Title Game: Probably Kansas vs. Tennessee - 9:00PM ET, ESPN
Campbell vs. Georgetown - 12:00PM ET, ESPN3 (Jamaica Classic)
Campbell: Chris Clemons
Georgetown: Mac McClung
Like points? Here’s the game for you! On one side, you have Georgetown’s McClung, who has been shocking people with highlight dunks so far and looks like he might have an NBA future at some point. On the other side, you have Clemons, who is this year’s Kay Felder. He’s averaging 32.3 points per game as this year as of Sunday and is an incredible athlete despite being just 5’9”. Consider this your week’s oddity to gaze at if you’re bored.
Union Olimpija Ljubljana vs. FMP Beograd - 1 p.m.
Union Olimpija: Luka Samanic, Blaz Mesicek
FMP: Zoran Paunovic
A matchup between the number two and number three international prospects in the draft class. Samanic, a playmaking four, should get some good chances to compete against FMP’s top prospect, 6’6 ‘lead ball-handler Zoran Paunovic.