Virginia basketball’s 2019 NBA Draft projections

Previewing where Hunter, Jerome and Guy will land

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Hunter, Jerome and Guy were all named to the Final Four All-Tournament Team. 

Christina Anton | Cavalier Daily

The NBA Draft — June 20 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. — is rapidly approaching, and three Virginia players have opted to remain in the draft after forward Mamadi Diakite withdrew his name from consideration the day of the May 29 deadline. Guards De’Andre Hunter, Ty Jerome and Kyle Guy all decided to void their remaining years of eligibility — Hunter had two remaining years left, and Jerome and Guy had one — to give themselves a chance at achieving their NBA dream. Hunter, Jerome and Guy were all named to the Final Four All-Tournament Team after leading Virginia to the first men’s basketball national championship in school history. Now, after months of training and preparation, the Cavaliers’ “big three” will soon hear where they will land. In anticipation of the NBA Draft, the CD Sports Staff makes their own projections.

De’Andre Hunter

Zach Zamoff, Sports Editor: Round 1, Pick 4 (4th overall to the Los Angeles Lakers)

Hunter projects as an instant impact player for whichever team that opts to draft him. With a redshirt year that proved to be crucial in his development, Hunter was afforded an opportunity seldom given to players with lottery talent to develop his game and strength — an opportunity that he seized to become one of the best players in college basketball last year and an undisputed lottery pick in this year’s draft. Hunter’s versatility as a wing — his ability to shoot the three-pointer effectively (he shot 43.8 percent from three last season), penetrate into the lane and guard multiple positions — makes him an addition that solves multiple team needs. After failing to make the playoffs in LeBron James’ first season with the franchise, the Lakers have multiple pressing needs. Hunter will undoubtedly fill several of these. In particular, the Lakers’ weaknesses in consistent three-point shooting and defense — they ranked 21st in the NBA with 113.5 points per game allowed last year — make Hunter an important acquisition. While he may not be a flashy addition for a demanding Lakers’ fanbase, Hunter will mesh well with LeBron and will be the best long-term move for the franchise. If selected before 8th overall, Hunter will be the highest-ever selection from Virginia since Ralph Sampson was taken 1st overall in 1983.

Vignesh Mulay, Sports Editor: Round 1, Pick 5 (5th overall to the Cleveland Cavaliers)

If the Lakers pass on Hunter, the Philadelphia native would be a no-brainer choice for Cleveland with the fifth overall pick. Hunter’s efficiency on both ends of the floor makes him one of the safest prospects in the entire class. More importantly, Hunter’s greatest strengths — three-point shooting and defense — align precisely with Cleveland’s most pressing needs. The Cavaliers are not exactly a prolific shooting team as they averaged the seventh-least three-point attempts this past year and only one player averaged more than two attempts per game. While Hunter didn’t take a lot of threes for Virginia in the 2018-19 season, he shot an efficient 43.8 percent from beyond the arc which could help boost Cleveland’s lackluster three-point shooting. However, the Cavaliers’ biggest area of concern — their poor defense — is where Hunter offers the most value. Cleveland had the worst defensive rating in the league this season and gave up an average of 114.1 points per game — 24th out of all teams. Adding Hunter would undoubtedly improve the Cavaliers’ defense from day one. Hunter’s 6-foot-7 frame, 7-foot-2 wingspan and underrated strength and quickness allow him to guard multiple positions both on the perimeter and in the paint. Hunter would also perfectly slide into Cleveland’s starting lineup. The Cavaliers have their point guard of the future in Collin Sexton, a bright forward in Cedi Osman and a former All-Star power forward in Kevin Love. Since no true big man in this class is a top-five talent, the only starting role Cleveland has yet to fill is a dynamic 3-and-D wing, and Hunter fits that description to a T. At the end of the day, Hunter is exactly the type of high-floor player and immediate contributor any NBA team would love to have which means the chances of him falling out of the first five picks are incredibly slim. 

Ty Jerome

ZZ: Round 1, Pick 20 (20th overall to the Boston Celtics)

Jerome’s high basketball IQ, footwork and excellent spot-up shooting caught the eye of many NBA teams in his last season at Virginia, at the NBA Combine and in workouts with NBA teams. While he has some athletic limitations, his basketball mind, skill and competitive edge will allow him to overcome these to be a crucial contributor at the next level. Above all, Jerome is a winner — which makes him a natural fit for a franchise like Boston. The Celtics came up short in the playoffs this year despite high expectations, and with rumors of star point guard Kyrie Irving leaving, Jerome fills a natural void at the guard position. He worked out for the Celtics June 3, showcasing his leadership and competitiveness. With Terry Rozier still in Boston, he and Jerome could make for a great backcourt pairing. While Rozier is quicker and better at penetrating into the lane, Jerome is bigger and a better passer and shooter. Jerome cannot replace Irving if he is to leave — but he can make the Celtics significantly better.

VM: Round 1, Pick 24 (24th overall to the Philadelphia 76ers)

After leading Virginia to a national championship, Jerome’s NBA stock is at an all-time high with many believing he has legitimate first round potential. While Jerome certainly has flaws in his game, his specific skill set — high IQ, capable playmaking and solid spot-up shooting — should be very appealing to the 76ers. The addition of Jerome would instantly bolster Philadelphia’s notoriously thin bench which was the team’s Achilles’ heel in the postseason. Jerome provides reliable shooting both off the dribble and off screens and hand-offs. The New Rochelle, N.Y., native’s ability to consistently hit shots, especially in big moments, would give Philadelphia a player who can provide a spark off the bench. Moreover, Jerome has tremendous value as a secondary ball-handler. His ability to deftly handle and pass the ball and create opportunities for himself and his teammates would relieve some pressure off Ben Simmons. Jerome would fill an important hole for the 76ers as backup point guard, leading the second unit and giving Philadelphia a more well-rounded option compared to T.J. McConnell. 

Kyle Guy

ZZ: Round 2, Pick 20 (50th overall to the Indiana Pacers)

As an undersized guard, Guy has had to face his critics his entire basketball career. He has defied them at every step of his journey, and will do the same June 20. Guy, the Final Four MVP, is arguably the purest shooter in the draft and can score in a variety of ways. Beyond that, he is an underrated ball-handler and defender. Guy, an Indianapolis native, is a perfect fit for his hometown Pacers. He worked out for Indiana June 5, showing his innate scoring ability which was on full display in the Final Four. While some teams might not take Guy because of doubts concerning his athletic ability, the Pacers should because he is a great basketball player and fills team needs. With a young core led by Victor Oladipo, the Pacers’ future looks bright. That said, the team still has room to grow. The addition of a complementary playmaker to help take the pressure off Oladipo would be crucial, and Guy can grow into this role. While the critics will always be around, whichever team opts to draft — or sign — Guy will benefit from gaining a great competitor and basketball player.

VM: Round 2, Pick 29 (59th overall to the Toronto Raptors)

Although Guy has his fair share of critics, his explosive three-point shooting alone should command plenty of interest late in the second round. Toronto — which Guy worked out for May 21 — is an ideal fit for Guy with the penultimate pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. The Raptors don’t have a lot of holes that need to be filled, which is why they can afford a luxury pick in Guy for some extra offensive firepower off the bench. As a sharpshooter who made 3.2 three-pointers per game in his last season at Virginia, Guy would thrive on a team with as many stars as Toronto. Guy’s elite off-ball movement combined with defenses having to pay attention to the likes of Kawhi Leonard and Kyle Lowry would create plenty of space for him to fire shot after shot from beyond the arc. The Raptors need not look any further than the most recent Final Four to see why Guy would be a valuable asset. Over the course of the last two games of the NCAA Tournament, Guy scored a combined 39 points while shooting nearly 39 percent from three. Guy would fit in seamlessly with Toronto — one of the best three-point shooting teams in the NBA — and add critical backcourt depth — only one Toronto shooting guard averaged more than five minutes per game in the playoffs. Guy, after three years of development under Coach Tony Bennett, can immediately make an impact for the reigning NBA Champions and help the Raptors make another deep postseason run. 

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