As the Cleveland Cavaliers continue to struggle, 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. For this week, we’re focused mostly on who the Cavs could take if they end up drafting fifth or sixth, before Saturday’s massive Duke/Virginia matchup.
FMP Beograd vs. Buducnost - 12:00PM ET, Various online streams of questionable legality
FMP: Zoran Paunovic; Buducnost: Goga Bitadze
Check out two of the top European prospects in this class here. Bitadze is working his way into the first round thanks to his production as a starter at Buducnost, and should have a dominant showing in this one against the Red Star Belgrade junior team. Paunovic really hasn’t been playing much this year, but he’s a solid long-term prospect as a secondary playmaking two-guard.
Nebraska vs. Indiana - 6:30PM ET, Fox Sports One
Indiana: Romeo Langford, Juwan Morgan; Nebraska: Isaiah Roby
This is an opportunity to watch Langford, but the real interesting matchup is Morgan against Roby. Morgan has been a very productive playmaking four at the college level, and should be in the mix as a second round pick. He’ll be a great matchup for Roby, Nebraska’s junior rim protector who has all the skills to be an NBA two-way big. It’s Morgan’s experience and feel against Roby’s raw athleticism, which will be a good test for both.
Duke vs. Syracuse - 7:00PM ET, ESPN
Duke: Zion Williamson, R.J. Barrett, Cam Reddish, Tre Jones, Jack White; Syracuse: Tyus Battle
Actually, you know what? Don’t watch this. No one should willingly subject themselves to watching Syracuse. ESPECIALLY not anyone attempting to evaluate NBA Draft prospects against a defense that is at best a rarely-dusted off weapon in the NBA and is at worst used to grind opponents to the point of boredom and suck all life force out of any game its used it. People are going to try to draw conclusions about Duke players based on this game against a 2-3 zone! It’ll be real funny. Don’t fall for it, and definitely don’t watch this.
Texas vs. Kansas - 9:00PM ET, ESPN
Texas: Jaxson Hayes, Kerwin Roach; Kansas: Devon Dotson, Quentin Grimes, Dedric Lawson
Hayes has been one of the draft’s rising stars, similar to Jaren Jackson Jr last season. He has great finishing technique, fluid movement on the perimeter and towards the rim, and is able to erase shots at the rim with impressive instincts and range given his massive wingspan. He’s raw, but he’s looking more and more like a player the Cavs should do homework on. He’s going to rip Dedric Lawson apart, and it’s going to be incredibly entertaining.
Arkansas vs. Tennessee - 7:00PM ET, ESPN2
Arkansas: Daniel Gafford; Tennessee: Grant Williams, Admiral Schofield
Let’s see how Williams does against an NBA-style center, and see if he can survive as an NBA small-ball five.
Virginia Tech vs. Virginia - 8:00PM ET, ACC Network
Virginia Tech: Nickeil Alexander-Walker; Virginia: De’Andre Hunter, Ty Jerome
This will be a heater if you like good NBA-style defenses at the college level. The featured matchup here is Alexander-Walker, a solid role-playing NBA-caliber guard, matching up with perhaps college basketball’s most underrated perimeter defender in Jerome, who should be a second round pick. It’s another chance to watch Hunter as well in a high stakes game.
Iowa State vs. Texas Tech - 9:00PM ET, ESPNU
Iowa State: Talen Horton-Tucker, Tyrese Halliburton, Lindell Wigginton; Texas Tech: Jarrett Culver
Culver vs. Horton-Tucker is an exciting matchup between two of the physical freaks of this class. Culver and Horton-Tucker are both massive forwards with great frames and freakish wingspans who are probably going to become good NBA defenders. Both have unorthodox driving styles, and even though THT is probably a year away from coming out, this is going to be some great NBA Draft theatre.
Indiana vs. Purdue - 2:00PM ET, Fox
Indiana: Romeo Langford, Juwan Morgan; Purdue: Carsen Edwards
Langford’s matchup with Carsen Edwards should give us an interesting look at Langford’s on-ball defense. Edwards is a pretty solid pull-up shooter, and Langford should get some time on him to prove he can defend the point of attack.
Alabama vs. Tennessee - 2:00PM ET
Alabama: Herb Jones, Donta Hall; Tennessee: Grant Williams, Admiral Schofield
I’m not super high on Alabama’s two prospects, but both have been on here a lot this year because they’re very advanced defensive prospects that can really give other draft hopefuls headaches. They should do so again here, as Hall tries to keep Williams away from the rim and Jones and Schofield hold an impromptu Mr. Universe showdown at midcourt. Big game for team #ThickJackedFrame here.
UCLA vs. USC - 4:00PM ET, PAC-12 Network
UCLA: Kris Wilkes; USC: Kevin Porter Jr., Nikola Rackocevic
Porter is back, and that’s fantastic news in terms of watchable PAC-12 games. This matchup will be a good one despite UCLA’s disaster season because Wilkes is a decent NBA prospect, and should give us a look at how Porter will fare on defense against NBA length at the three.
Kentucky vs. Auburn - 4:00PM ET, ESPN
Kentucky: Keldon Johnson, P.J. Washington; Auburn: Anfernee McLemore, Chuma Okeke
Auburn has great foils for Kentucky’s two best players - McLemore is a technically sound defender that doesn’t wow offensively, but can finish and pass; Okeke doesn’t have ideal physical tools, but is an impactful defender and decent finisher. That contrast should make a matchup with the raw Johnson and offensively skilled Washington very interesting.
Virginia vs. Duke - 6:00PM ET, ESPN
Virginia: De’Andre Hunter, Ty Jerome; Duke: Zion Williamson, R.J. Barrett, Cam Reddish, Tre Jones, Jack White
From a college basketball perspective, this is probably the game of the year; Virginia’s been as good as they were last year, and Duke is Duke. For us, it’s also huge - another chance to see Zion Williamson battle a team with a ton of length and discipline after the Florida State game, and Hunter gets his biggest test of the year. Can he handle Zion and R.J. on the perimeter? He hasn’t been consistent there this year, and both Duke forwards are about as good as it gets at driving. Elsewhere, there’s Cam Reddish and Ty Jerome chasing each other off screens, and R.J. has to defend Kyle Guy, which could be a disaster! This should be the best entertainment value you get this year.
Mississippi State vs. Vanderbilt - 8:30PM ET, SEC Network
Mississippi State: Aric Holman; Vanderbilt: Simi Shittu
Shittu vs. Holman is an interesting battle because Holman is the type of big who can give Shittu issues with his passing and energy as a rebounder. Shittu hasn’t been particularly consistent this year, so a positive showing against a guy who can put him at a disadvantage would be a good sign.