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2019 NBA Draft: Way-too-early lottery predictions for next year, headlined by three Duke freshmen

You might say it's too early to look ahead to the 2019 NBA Draft. But if you say that, you'd be wrong. Or, at least, you would be proving you're not in the content-creating business. Either way, know this: This time last year, it was not hard to predict that nine of Thursday night's lottery picks -- namely Deandre Ayton, Luka Doncic, Mo Bamba, Wendell Carter, Collin Sexton, Jaren Jackson Jr., Kevin Knox, Miles Bridges and Michael Porter Jr. -- would be lottery picks in the 2018 NBA Draft. In fact, I predicted exactly that. And if Marvin Bagley would've been reclassified at that time, I would've had 10 of the 14 lottery picks identified correctly a year in advance. In other words, yes, we do have a good sense for what names are likely to be called at the top of any future NBA Draft even before the current NBA draft is completed.

So what will next year's lottery look like?

Probably something like this ...

Canadian R.J. Barrett is predicted to be the first player taken in the 2019 NBA Draft. USATSI

1. R.J. Barrett | Duke | Fr | SG

Barrett could be the third Canadian who becomes the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft in a seven-year span -- joining Anthony Bennett and Andrew Wiggins. He got a game-high 20 points, nine rebounds, six assists and five steals in the 2018 Nike Hoop Summit.

2. Nassir Little | North Carolina | Fr | SF

Little was the MVP of both the McDonald's All-American Game and the Jordan Brand Classic. The 6-7 wing scored 28 and 24 points in those contests, respectively.

3. Cameron Reddish | Duke | Fr | SF

Reddish is a 6-7 wing who projects as a high-level two-way player. He got 11 points and nine assists in the McDonald's All-American game.

4. Quentin Grimes | Kansas | Fr | G

Hall of Fame coach Bill Self has described Grimes as "complete a guard" as he's ever had at Kansas. Grimes averaged 14.7 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.8 assists for Team USA in the FIBA America's tournament earlier this month.

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5. Sekou Doumbouya | International | F

Doumbouya is a 6-9 forward who is widely expected to be the first international prospect selected. Among his accomplishments is leading France to the U-18 European Championships title in 2016.

6. Romeo Langford | Indiana | Fr |  SG

Langford is one of the most decorated players in Indiana high school basketball history. The 6-5 guard was the prize of Archie Miller's recruiting class.

7. Darius Garland | Vanderbilt | Fr | PG

Garland is a 6-2 point guard with tremendous instincts and quickness. His father, Winston, was the 40th pick in the 1987 NBA Draft.

8. Daniel Gafford | Arkansas | So | F

Gafford surprised some when he opted to return for his sophomore year at Arkansas. The 6-11 athlete averaged 11.8 points and 6.2 rebounds in 22.6 minutes per game last season.

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9. De'Andre Hunter | Virginia | So | G

Hunter's ability to be a difference-maker on the defensive end makes him an interesting prospect. The 6-7 wing was the ACC's Sixth Man of the Year as a freshman.

10. Luka Samanic | International | F

Samanic is an 18-year-old Croatian who has been playing professionally for a couple of years already. He was last year's MVP of the U-18 European Championships.

11. Jontay Porter | Missouri | So | F

Porter reclassified, entered Missouri a year earlier than expected and averaged 9.9 points and 6.8 rebounds in 24.5 minutes per game as a freshman. The 6-11 forward took 3.3 3-pointers per contest and made 36.4 percent of them.

12. Rui Hachimura | Gonzaga | So | F

Hachimura is a 6-8 combo forward who averaged 11.6 points and 4.7 rebounds in 20.7 minutes per game last season. If he adds a jumper, going in the top-half of the lottery is a possibility.

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13. Zion Williamson | Duke | Fr | F

Williamson is an explosive dunker made famous via YouTube. Questions about how he'll fit in the NBA, as a 6-6 combo forward, are legit but shouldn't prevent him from going somewhere in the lottery.

14. Bol Bol | Oregon | Fr | F

Bol, the son of NBA icon Manute Bol, is a 7-2 forward with a 7-8 wingspan who alters shots and is comfortable facing up and playing on the perimeter. He shot 48.9 percent from 3-point range on the Nike EYBL circuit last summer.

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