The 2018 NBA Draft cycle came to an end on Thursday night, and now for college fans, attention turns to next season.
For UNC fans, there was some mild interest in the second round of the draft, with the hopes that a team might give Theo Pinson or Joel Berry a shot. Those hopes didn’t end up amounting to anything, as both went unselected. However, both were quickly given deals by NBA teams, and they’ll get shots in summer league and hopefully in a team’s training camp.
As things appear currently, next year’s NBA Draft may be of even more interest for Tar Heel fans.
Just as outlets post their “Way Too Early Top 25s” lists as soon as a team finishes cutting down the nets in April, you can also find 2019 mock drafts and rankings already. Considering how he shot up recruiting rankings this season, it’s not surprising that Nassir Little is listed highly in these early 2019 draft lists.
Over on the SBNation main site, they rank Little third in next year’s draft, adding “If he can prove he has a consistent jumper at UNC, he’ll have a good chance to go No. 1 overall in this draft.”
Others, such as CBS Sports, NBADraft.net, and Yahoo, put Little as high as second. In general, no place really has him any lower than fifth in their mock drafts/rankings. It’s not surprising considering where he’s risen to in various recruiting rankings.
No other Tar Heels really make any appearance in the first round, but on some mocks, such as this one, Luke Maye makes an appearance in the second round.
Maye of course briefly tested the waters this year before deciding to return for his senior season. Considering that he was seen as a borderline second round pick last year, it’s not shocking that he’s listed around there again considering he hasn’t played since then.
However, if he is currently slotted as a borderline second round pick, he can for sure play himself into a draft pick this year. Maye will never be supremely athletic, so in that regard he can probably only rise to a certain degree. However, if he gets more consistent and improves on defense, he could rise to a surefire draft pick.
No one else really shows up in any mock drafts. You would have to think the only other possibilities would be Cam Johnson, and maybe Sterling Manley and Coby White.
There’s still obviously a long time to go before any of this actually matters. However, it’s never too early to look at where things stand now. It won’t be long before Roy Williams and the staff have to start considering these things for the years to come.