2019 NBA Draft Prop: Will Brandon Clarke or Rui Hachimura Be Drafted First?

2019 NBA Draft Prop: Will Brandon Clarke or Rui Hachimura Be Drafted First? article feature image

Photo credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Brandon Clarke and Rui Hachimura

  • The 2019 NBA Draft is Thursday, June 20 at 7 p.m. ET (ESPN) in Brooklyn.
  • Which Gonzaga prospect will be drafted first: Brandon Clarke or Rui Hachimura?

After going through a couple NBA Draft props without a ton of value, we finally have one that might.

Several sportsbooks have odds on which Gonzaga player will be drafted first: Brandon Clarke (+180) or Rui Hachimura (-260).

Both had excellent 2019 campaigns, with Rui finishing as a consensus first-team All-American and winning the Julius Erving Award, and Clarke finishing as a third-team All-American and winning the West Coast Conference Defensive Player of the Year Award.

Clarke is a year older than Rui, and both are projected to go in the first round of the draft.

More NBA Draft Props: Darius Garland | ACC Players in Top 10

According to ESPN’s mock draft, Rui is projected to go 12th to the Hornets — far ahead of Clarke, who is slotted at 17th to the Hawks. But Clarke seemingly has a wide range of outcomes, as NBA.com’s consensus mock draft shows his most common draft spots as 11, 12 and 14.

Clarke is a divisive player.

On one hand, he’s old (22), his wingspan at 6-foot-8 as a 6-foot-8 player isn’t exciting and he’s not much of a shooter so far. On the other hand, his 2019 season was not just good — it was historically productive:

ESPN’s Kevin Pelton’s stats-based draft model has Clarke far and away above Rui, and he’s turned into something of an “Analytics Twitter” darling. That population of analysts has done well of late, notably leading the charge of saying Luka Doncic should be the No. 1 pick last year, but Clarke isn’t that type of prospect, and he’s rightfully divisive.

It’s unclear whether any of this will be compelling to NBA teams, but the stats are undeniable for Clarke, and we’ve seen a history of teams — especially in the late lottery range — not be afraid to take a chance on an older, productive player. For teams that have playoff hopes or want to solidify a young core with solid role players — the Wolves at 11, the Hornets at 12, the Celtics at 14, the Hawks with their three picks, for examples — Clarke could be an intriguing buy.

Clarke isn’t Draymond Green, but he is somewhat comparable in that teams missed on Draymond because of how unique he was coming out of college. JZ Mazlish commented on this dynamic, and Cole Zwicker expanded on it specifically about Clarke recently.

Mazlish said, “Essentially, the easiest NBA studs to miss on are those who define their own archetype. Draymond Green, Nikola Jokic, maybe Lonzo Ball, even Andre Iguodala to an extent, are all examples of players who don’t fit a typical NBA mold. Teams undervalue them in the draft because they weren’t able to imagine the roles they would create for themselves.”

Is this the year teams stop undervaluing those potential types of players?

Rui will likely go in the teens, whereas Clarke could go anywhere from 10 to even the 20s. But given his extremely productive season, the history of the draft and his wide range of outcomes on Thursday night, I think there’s some value at plus money here. Or maybe I’m just hoping a team will be smart and draft Clarke early.

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