- NBA Mock Draft Guide 2020
- NBA Draft Sleepers (1-6)
- NBA Draft Sleepers (7-12)
- Biggest Draft Boosters
- NBA Draft Senior Sleepers
- Deni Avdija Scouting Report
- Obi Toppin Scouting Report
- Cole Anthony Scouting Report
- Anthony Edwards Scouting Report
- LaMelo Ball Scouting Report
- RJ Hampton Scouting Report
- Onyeka Okongwu Scouting Report
- Nico Mannion Scouting Report
- Killian Hayes Scouting Report
- Cassius Winston Scouting Report
- Xavier Tillman Scouting Report
- Usman Garuba Scouting Report
- Star Potential in NBA Draft
- Los Angeles Lakers NBA Mock Draft
- Boston Celtics NBA Mock Draft
- Toronto Raptors Mock Draft
- Milwaukee Bucks Mock Draft
- Philadelphia 76ers Mock Draft
- Golden State Warriors Mock Draft
- New York Knicks Mock Draft
- Chicago Bulls Mock Draft
Edwards cites Victor Oladipo and Dwyane Wade, incidentally two of his closer comps in the pro game, as two of his biggest idols growing up – Crean helped shape both of their careers in college at Indiana and Marquette, respectively. Edwards has the takeover gene and can explode offensively at the drop of a dime. His strong frame and body control allows him to finish through contact on the drive as well as rise over defenders to sink shots from deep. Edwards is still only 18 and is relatively new to the game of basketball, so he likely has a lot of levels he can still reach in his game in the future.
• Physical player on the dribble-drive game, will likely work his way to the free-throw line often
• Ambidextrous dunker and impressive toolbox of moves to finish through traffic
• Excels on the fast-break and in half-court offense
• 6’9” wingspan and 8’4” standing reach suggest future as high level defender/rebounder
• Can take over games with his scoring and shows good shooting range
• Falls in love with contested shots from deep to his detriment
• Basketball IQ and court vision are a work in progress
• Improvement from mid-range would help with versatility
• Needs to get better from the free-throw line
Best Landing Spot
Atlanta Hawks. Edwards would benefit from playing alongside an instinctual playmaker and offensive floor general like Trae Young. The Hawks’ roster features great floor-spacing with Young, Kevin Huerter, and DeAndre Hunter, but the team is lacking a physical scorer like Edwards. He wouldn’t be overtaxed with playmaking burdens on this team, and he could have the freedom to go to work with his natural scoring ability.
Worst Landing Spot
New York Knicks. The Knicks have a ton of players who need the ball in their hands to succeed – R.J. Barrett, Kevin Knox, Dennis Smith Jr., Julius Randle, etc. If Edwards is on a dysfunctional team fighting for shots with other ball-dominant players, his worst tendencies will likely become habitual and hinder his efficiency as a pro.
Likely won’t make it past the number 3 overall pick
Edwards has a similar skill set to that of two recent lottery picks at the shooting guard position in Donovan Mitchell and Victor Oladipo. He is effective in the catch-and-shoot game but thrives as a downhill force with the ball in his hands. Edwards could be the most powerful player at his position in the NFL, victimizing opposing defenders and throwing down dunks with force. He evokes some of the traits that made Dwyane Wade elite, but it’s unclear if he’ll ever become that level of a defender. Ant-Man’s athleticism makes his ceiling enormous, but he’ll likely be a bully with his dribble-drive game from Day 1 in the NBA.
Shooting (Inside): 8. flashed an elite takeover gene at times and can drain heavily contested 3s, no noticeable hitch in his shot, went through dry spells at times but will benefit from improved NBA spacing, great inside finisher
Passing: 7. Edwards rarely opted to pass, averaging just 2.9 assists per game, but his Georgia teammates were not at his level of ability. He can develop more in this regard, but he flashed strong court vision at times.
Dribbling: 10. He is a monster with the ball in his hands, showcasing elite pull-up 3-point ability and can get to the rim whenever he wants. His body positioning is always strong, and he has the best dribble-drive game in this class
Rebounding: 9. Edwards is a remarkably strong player for his size and should parlay that into strong rebounding for a guard early in his career. His tendency to fight for loose balls also helps him out in this regard.
Defense: 8. Doesn’t profile as a lockdown defender right away but certainly has the athleticism and skill set to become an elite force on that end.
Total rating: 58/70
Even more exciting is that his athleticism doesn’t hinder his defensive game. Modern NBA centers are tasked with being the team’s primary rim protector, guarding the perimeter, crashing the glass, and shooting spot up threes. Wiseman excels at all these tasks and shows the ability to knock down three’s at a respectable level -think of Demarcus Cousins three-point shooting. Overall, he’s a prospect most teams have no business passing up on.
• Elite physical traits with 7’0” height and 7’6” wingspan, nimble feet and athleticism to match – most guys with his size don’t have the same level of foot speed and agility
• Should be a well above-average rim protector and help defender right away
• Will be a great screen-and-roll partner if paired with a strong ball handler
• Developing post offensive game but shows flashes of strong repertoire
• Questions about his motor and work ethic have been left unanswered
• Shot selection hinders his efficiency at times
• Needs to put on weight to compete with stronger NBA big men
• Awareness/basketball IQ need some work
Best Landing Spot
Golden State Warriors. In reality, the Warriors would be an awesome landing spot for a lot of the top prospects in this class, as playing with Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green is a pretty ideal situation. However, Wiseman would be particularly valuable there. He could focus on being a screen-and-roll partner for Steph and using off-ball screens to get open shots for Golden State’s shooters. Defensively, he could lock down the paint and allow Draymond to do what he does best – playing his roaming, free safety style. The Warriors would not overtax Wiseman in Year 1 and he could develop his game while playing with some all-time greats.
Worst Landing Spot
Cleveland Cavaliers. Wiseman is going to need extensive playing time early on to develop the unpolished parts of his game, and I’m not sure if he would get on the floor too often in his rookie season. The Cavs are already paying frontcourt guys in Kevin Love, Andre Drummond, Tristan Thompson, and Larry Nance lots of money, and I’m not sure how Wiseman would fit in with those players. Similar to how Mo Bamba has been marginalized behind the frontcourt bodies in Orlando, Wiseman would be better served to play for a team that will utilize his abilities in a starting role.
Likely won’t make it past the number 3 overall pick
James Wiseman fits the mold of Hassan Whiteside but with slightly more range. He’s got the similar frame – a lengthy but sturdy base – and shows potential to dominate in the rebounding and blocks categories. However, what makes scouts drool over Wiseman is his shooting potential. Hassan Whiteside has yet to find his shooting stroke in the league 8 seasons later. But, Wiseman’s offensive versatility and shooting potential make him a premier modern-day big man in the NBA. A better Hassan Whiteside makes sense at this position.
Shooting: 7. Wiseman was never a 3-point shooter in college, but he did show a solid mid-range ability. He shot 76.4% from the field and 70.4% from the free-throw line in his three college games, so he could develop more range in the future.
Passing: 6. Wiseman does not profile as an elite passer at all, but his assists came from another area with his ball-screens. He could turn into a serviceable passer as a big man later in his career.
Dribbling: 8. Wiseman is a surprisingly good player in the open floor, using his nimble feet and speed to create scoring chances in transition. He also showed a solid repertoire of post moves and should develop into an elite option there.
Rebounding: 10. Wiseman averaged 10.7 rebounds per game in his 3 college games, and his massive frame should give him magnet-like reach in the post to collect rebounds. I have no concerns about this skill for him, and he could be one of the very best rebounders in the league.
Defense: 10. Wiseman’s massive frame and foot speed allowed him to average 3 blocks per game at Memphis, and he should be a blocks machine right away in the NBA. He profiles as a Myles Turner-type defender with his range and ball-swatting mechanics. Turner led the NBA in blocks last season.
Total rating: 56/70
Obi Toppin is a scoring power forward who played a lot of center at Dayton. In the NBA, however, he will likely be a better fit at power forward with his 6-9 frame.
He was a draft candidate last season and looked at as a possible late first-round selection, but he elected to go back to Dayton, which seemed to be the best choice, because he showed marked improvement in several areas and became a better shooter, developing a solid perimeter shot.
He has a high pull-up that looks very similar to that of LaMarcus Aldridge
He is a rim-running highlight machine, a lob threat and does well leading fast breaks and getting position early in the shot clock, but can also be a threat as a trailer, slipping screens and getting to the basket, or catching the defense asleep and knocking down long-range threes. He’s also a solid passer with good vision so he can make passes from the perimeter as well and find cutting teammates in high-low situations.
Most of Toppin’s weaknesses come on the defensive end. He will struggle against stronger, taller centers in the league like a Joel Embiid, and while he is a better fit against power forwards, he will have issues with athletic, speedy fours, especially those who like to drive from the perimeter like Aaron Gordon. He often got blown by at Dayton on defense when in those situations, and Toppin also had his issues against Kansas’ Udoka Azabuike.
For his size, his rebounding leaves a lot to be desired, and he needs to get his timing right to be a better rim protector, but Toppin is still relatively young, having played just two seasons with the Flyers. His freshman to sophomore year jump was huge, and at his age and with his skill set, he has the potential to continue developing and could be a star in this league at some point. That alone will make it hard to pass on him.
• Good vision for position
• Finishing ability
• Improved shot with range out to three
• Weak base for a big
• Slow on defense, especially change of direction
Best Landing Spot
Golden State seems like the perfect spot for him, but I don’t know that he usurps Anthony Edwards, LaMelo Ball or James Wiseman there. Atlanta seems like a great spot for him. Learning under Clint Cappella and John Collins would be a win. Both are very similar players to Toppin and have strengths in areas he has weaknesses. Aside from that head coach Lloyd Pierce has made his name on player development.
Worst Landing Spot
Cleveland Cavaliers – Even though Cleveland could have a few of their bigs coming off the books, the situation is that they will either have too many for him to carve out a spot or they will look to draft someone like Toppin and not elect to take team options and re-sign some of their own free agents, which puts Toppin in a situation where he is thrust into a perform now situation with a roster that doesn’t leave him with players he could benefit from playing under. Toppin doesn’t need a ton of development, but his defense needs some work, and Cleveland’s player development staff hasn’t done much in recent history to make me think he would benefit from being there.
Top 5 or early lottery.
Hybrid of John Collins and Kyle Kuzma
Shooting: 8, Has an improved shot with range beyond the arch
Passing: 9, Smart passer for his size, with strong passes on the perimeter and patience when passing out of double teams
Hustle: 7, Could use some improvement. Not consistent
Defense: 6, Weakest area of his game, but could be improved at next level
There might not be a more eye-roll inducing sports phrase for me than “that guy’s a true gamer!” – and yet, I can’t help but think that every time I watch Avdija play. I’m convinced there’s nothing on an NBA court this guy isn’t capable of. He has the playmaking and scoring abilities of a point guard at 6’9” – he can set the table for his teammates off the pick-and-roll game or find his own shots on clearout plays. Avdija showcased elite drive-and-kick potential against top European competition at the FIBA U20 European Championship. His floor vision is special and something most guys his size don’t possess – this allows him to be a force in both transition and half-court situations. If defenders play off him against the pass, Avdija has shown the ability to drain step-back or pull-up threes, and if they play up on him he can drive to the rack or kick to open teammates. His versatility is special for his age.
Scouts aren’t thrilled with his lack of elite athleticism, although he’s much quicker and stronger than most would have you think. Avdija can be an overly emotional player at times and settle for contested jumpers, but scouts had similar concerns over Luka Doncic coming from overseas. Avdija will take on much stronger and more athletic wing defenders in the NBA, but his elite dribbling, ball-handling, and court vision will allow him to take on those guys. He can also create offense off the ball with his movement and cutting – his basketball IQ is elite even by an NBA veteran’s standards. Avdija has true positionless versatility, able to guard anyone from a point guard to a power forward. Sure, he doesn’t have the most athletic profile, but his body control, lateral quickness, and anticipation will make him an awesome defender in the NBA. Avdija will need to improve his shooting overall – his 60% from the free throw line is slightly concerning – but he won’t even turn 20 until halfway through this upcoming NBA season and he has unbelievable two-way potential.
• Unbelievable court vision and playmaking ability for his size
• Elite pick-and-roll threat with his combination of passing, driving, and isolation scoring abilities
• True positional versatility, well-developed defensive traits and makes up for his lack of athleticism with strong basketball IQ
• Quick first-step driving to the rack, able to hit fallaway shots, floaters, layups, etc.
• Great lateral quickness, off-ball movement, anticipation
• Overly emotional player at times who doesn’t always make the best decision, may profile better as a secondary playmaking option
• Mediocre athletic traits will limit his upside despite his highly skilled game
• Streaky shooter but will benefit from playing in an NBA offense
• Can improve finishing through contact and needs to put on muscle
Best Landing Spot
Minnesota Timberwolves. Avdija is another player who could really benefit from playing with high-level spacing and playmaking, so the Warriors could be a great fit. I’m looking to the Timberwolves, though, who could use a secondary playmaker next to D’Angelo Russell and a two-way wing with Avdija’s capabilities. He wouldn’t be overly taxed right away with DLo and KAT on board as elite offensive players, and he could fill in the gaps between their games. A team with Russell, Towns, and Avdija would be borderline unstoppable offensively, and Avdija’s defense and basketball IQ would help the team win a lot more games.
Worst Landing Spot
None. I ran through the potential answers for this and I couldn’t come up with a great one. Avdija is unbelievably versatile – he could serve as a team’s primary or secondary playmaker, start at practically any position, and excel offensively on or off the ball. Any team could benefit from having a player like him.
Deni Avdija is going to be a polarizing prospect this summer, as he really doesn’t fit any particular mold as a player. He’s played a ton of high-level competition overseas, though, and I think he has the NBA-readiness of a Luka Doncic. While Avdija doesn’t have quite Doncic’s level of playmaking and rebounding, the two actually have quite a bit in common. Both can boost their team’s offensive productivity on or off the ball with their strong court awareness, confidence, and spot-up shooting. Doncic has a ton of positional versatility offensively, but Avdija may be even more versatile with his ability to guard a wide range of players. Another comp I’ve seen that I enjoy is a pre-injury Danny Granger. Granger was 6’9” and was incredibly versatile, able to guard a bunch of different players on defense. He could also operate as a spot-up shooter or isolation scorer, scoring 26 points per game in his age-25 season. Granger is a classic case of what could have been, as he likely came into the NBA a decade too early and suffered injuries that derailed his career. Avdija is the perfect player for the modern NBA, and he has the potential to be a future all-star with all he can do on both ends of the floor.
Shooting: 7. Avdija shot 33.6% from 3-point range in his age-18 season (his most recent) for Maccabi Tel Aviv. That’s up from 27.7% last year, showing significant improvement. He only shot 60% from the free throw line in his Maccabi Tel Aviv career (on 20 total attempts, to be fair). He drained contested pull-up and step-back threes on multiple occasions in his tape, and his mechanics overall are really solid, so I’m not particularly concerned about his shooting going forward.
Passing: 8. Avdija’s passing is one of the bigger strengths of his game. His full-court outlet passes are Nikola Jokic-level accurate and he created several transition scoring opportunities for his teammates. Avdija’s passing is particularly an asset when his shots are falling, as he creates space for his teammates and can make the right pass. His assist numbers fluctuated at times, and he may not be a true every-play offensive initiator, but his passing instincts are really strong.
Dribbling: 8. Avdija’s dribbling is raw overall, but he showed a really strong drive-and-dish game at times. He can be overly reliant on his right hand, though, and he needs to improve his work with his left hand in order to become a more unpredictable player on the drive. His post dribble moves are excellent, and as he becomes more comfortable with his left hand he will be an explosive offensive player. Avdija’s open-court ball-handling and dribbling is really exciting, as well.
Rebounding: 6. At no point was Avdija a truly high-level rebounder, averaging just over 4 per game for all of his different teams. He averaged about 11.5 per game playing for the Maccabi Tel Aviv junior team, but against stronger competition, he struggled. As he puts on muscle, though, he should at least be an average rebounder with his size and basketball IQ.
Defense: 8. Avdija isn’t a high-level athlete, but he makes up for his lack of elite physical traits with his cerebral play defensively. He’s a special help defender, reading the opponent’s offensive plays and working his way over from the weak side to contest and block shots. Avdija’s rotations are really strong and he can cover a lot of ground with his size and strength on closeouts. He doesn’t look like an elite defender but he does all of the little things really well and should be an impact player on that end. Avdija was asked by ESPN analyst Mike Schmitz what his favorite position to defend is and he responded “all of them”.
Total rating: 53/70
Ball has good end-to-end speed and excels in transition. He has the range to shoot from deep, but can also take his man off the dribble with solid handles and penetrate for shots at the rim. If the defense decides to bring pressure or double, he has excellent vision and quick instincts to find the open man or a cutter.
Ball is fun to watch, and while he has the skills to be a difference-maker in his rookie season, there are still a few things that need some work. Some have called his jumper broken, but he has the same strange mechanics on release similar to brother Lonzo and former NBA player Shawn Marion, but that hasn’t stopped either one of them from scoring. LaMelo could also use some work on the defensive end, but he has the size, speed, and tools needed to become a solid perimeter defender in the league.
• Finishing ability
• Jump shot
Best Landing Spot
We have him slated to fall to Detroit and that’s not at all a bad spot for him. The Pistons are a team in need of an identity and drafting a potential future franchise cornerstone in Ball could be the start of something new. He also should have plenty of time to get on the floor in Detroit, and having a sage vet like Derrick Rose is certainly beneficial. Add to that having a player’s coach in Dwayne Casey and that seems like a good fit.
Worst Landing Spot
The New York Knicks are one spot down from the Pistons and if for some reason, Atlanta and Detroit pass on Ball, while New York would embrace Ball and it would be an ideal market for him, the team’s basketball operations are in shambles. They’ve got coaches going through there very often and even with the bevy of young talent they have, they haven’t done much to develop them, or they end up trading them away.
Jason Williams, Lonzo Ball, Penny Hardaway
Shooting: 7, Has range but could use some improvement with his mechanics
Passing: 10, Great vision and quick instincts
Hustle: 7, Could be better if defensive effort matched offense
Defense: 6, Weakest area of his game, but has tools to improve
USC freshman Onyeka Okongwu is possibly the best big man in this year’s NBA Draft, standing at 6-foot-9 and weighing 245 pounds. Granted, it’s hard to know since James Wiseman’s season ended so soon. However, Okongwu was a defensive force for the Trojans and proved that he could be a go-to option on offense as well. He averaged nearly three blocks despite not having prototypical NBA center size and posted a defensive rating under 89 (exceptional in the collegiate ranks). He moves his feet and can hang with smaller players on the perimeter for short periods of time, which will make his NBA team’s defensive plan much more versatile.
The most likable aspect of his game right now is his catch radius as he can go up and grab any pass near the rim and make it an alley-oop. He’s got great hands, rolls well in P-n-R situations and has an unmatched motor that he couples with great speed. He posts up well with an array of different moves he likes to use, but he has plenty of work to do with open space in the halfcourt. His handle isn’t particularly tight and he has some offensive awareness issues to work on such as recognizing double teams quicker and passing out of the post better. However, his athleticism and motor will take him far in his rookie season.
• Shot blocking
• Finisher around the basket
• Pick-and-roll ability
• Comfortable on both blocks
• Passing ability
• Needs more of a face-up game
• May be undersized as a center
• Ball handling
Best Landing Spot
Detroit Pistons. They need pretty much any player who can come in and contribute immediately. They jettisoned Andre Drummond and Blake Griffin isn’t going anywhere with his contract. Anyone who can make them better in the short term is a good fit and Okongwu can do that. He will give them some rim protection they’ve been missing and hopefully a spark that they could desperately use as well.
Worst Landing Spot
Chicago Bulls. The Bulls already have Lauri Markannen and Wendell Carter Jr. who have proven to be solid players early in their careers. If the Bulls took Okongwu as a “best player available” option, it may be a serious hindrance to Okongwu’s evolution as he wouldn’t see the floor much. He would be stuck plodding away in the G-League or as a minimal rotation player at the NBA level to start his career.
Top 10 with little to no chance of landing past 7.
Bulkier Bam Adebayo (less offense)
More offensively inclined Tristan Thompson
Shooting: 6, great finisher around the rim and is solid at the free throw line, but has to extend his range
Passing: 5, struggles in double teams and getting the ball quickly when he doesn’t have anything going in the post
Hustle: 10, motor never stops. It’s as simple as that.
Defense: 10, excellent rim protector and shot blocker with ability to guard perimeter in short bursts
Total rating: 44/60
Killian Hayes is coming out as one of the best point guards in this year’s NBA draft, along with being one of the best international prospects on the board. The 6’5” guard playing overseas in France is a wiry, athletic player who has great court vision. Hayes has great open court speed and is a great player on both sides of the ball. He’s averaging 7.8 assists per 36, which shows how great he is at attracting defenders only to dish out to the open player. Hayes is also very good at penetrating to the rim and drawing fouls. This season, he’s shooting over 87 percent from the free throw line.
Although Hayes is showing the early signs of growing into a great point guard, he still has some things he needs to work on once he gets to the NBA. As great as he is a passer, Hayes is still prone to a high amount of turnovers. His AST/TO Ratio sits at 1.68 right now, which will need to improve if he wants to excel in leading an offense. Also, he still has a weak three-point shot. Hayes is shooting 29 percent from beyond the arc overseas, which will simply not cut it in today’s NBA. As great as he is getting to the rim, Hayes will need to work on his three-point game at the next level.
• Very athletic with great speed
• Can facilitate the ball well and find the open man
• Great size for a point guard at 6’5″ and a 6’7″ wingspan
• Great ball handler and able to draw a foul
• Turned the ball over quite a bit last season
• Weak outside shot averaging 29 percent from beyond
• Still understanding how to play the game like all young players
Best Landing Spot
As dysfunctional as the Knicks organization is, I think Hayes would fit nicely in with their young squad. Hayes will be able to help facilitate the ball between RJ Barrett, Julius Randle, and others. Depending on where the Knicks land in the lottery, he could be the point guard to grab. Hayes has a chance to be the second point guard taken after LaMelo Ball, and before Cole Anthony.
Worst Landing Spot
This could be a blessing in disguise, but Hayes to the Pistons could be a tough way to start his career. One, he would be Derrick Rose, who he could learn from about the point guard game. Regardless, he would be number two to an aging Rose with no scorers or playmakers on the roster. This is a guy that’s great at facilitating the ball, and can really thrive with good scorers.
A more creative Dante Exum
Shooting: 6, Great at scoring high percentage shots, but struggles from beyond three-point land. This will need to change at the next level.
Passing: 8, Great passer averaging 7.8 assists per 36. Only LaMelo Ball is ahead of him in that category with 7.9 assists per 36.
Dribbling: 9, Hayes has a great handle for the ball, and great athleticism to do whatever he wants to defenders to create space.
Rebounding: 6, Hayes isn’t the best rebounder, but what do you expect from a 6’5” point guard.
Defense: 8, Shown to have a great defensive presence, and doesn’t take possessions off. Hayes is averaging 1.5 steals per game in France.
Total rating: 53/60
Isaac Okoro is a 19-year old wing who was a four-star recruit out of McEachern High School in Georgia. He played college ball at Auburn this season and displayed elite defensive potential. Okoro is likely the most athletic defender in this class as he uses his high motor, strong legs, and quick feet to stay attached to opposing offensive players. He’s a really smart defender as well, consistently making awesome reads for help defense on rotations and closeouts on open shooters. Okoro has all the tools to become an awesome team defender, something that is very important in the modern NBA. While at Auburn, he often guarded the opposing team’s best player, no matter their position. He has spent time hanging with guards on the perimeter and banging with bigs in the post. At first glance, he doesn’t have eye-popping steal or block numbers (about 1 of each per game), but this honestly could be a positive. It’s a common misconception that the best NBA defenders are the ones who get the most steals/blocks, but in reality, those stats are often created at the expense of intelligent team defense. Okoro is rarely out of position and isn’t an aggressive defender. Similar to Klay Thompson defensively, Okoro rarely takes major risks on defense.
Offensively, Okoro could use a lot of work. While his athleticism flashed in his ability to drive to the basket, he isn’t a terribly polished finisher. In the NBA, when he takes on much stronger and more athletic defenders, as well as elite weakside rim protectors, Okoro will need to diversify his offensive game to remain effective. To his credit, he does show the ability to finish with both hands in traffic. Okoro also finished drives through traffic with spin moves and Euro steps at times, showing the potential for a more polished offensive game. He is also possibly the best dunker in this draft – he has incredible hops and can leap off either foot and finish with either/both hands. Okoro’s lack of offensive polish extended to his shooting from 3 point range. His shot mechanics are pretty inconsistent, and he is pretty stiff on catch-and-shoot jumpers. He also tends to flare his elbows out and vary his release point, which are workable issues but explain his 29% shooting from 3. Okoro can be overly predictable offensively – he doesn’t have a real mid-range game and his playmaking is subpar, so defenders can telegraph his movements and wall him off from the basket. He also showed a lack of control with the ball in his hands at times, making sloppy turnovers or driving to the rim when the defense was well in-position. Okoro’s athleticism and high-level team/individual defense provide a solid floor, with the upside for him to develop into a high-caliber player if he can polish his offensive game.
• Possibly most athletic defender in this class – 6’6”, 215 lb frame to match
• High-level defensive intelligence, rotates and closes out well
• Athletic finisher in the lane, good driver, can finish well with both hands
• Finished off spin moves/Euro steps through traffic in times
• Possibly the best hops in the draft
• Above-average rebounder for his size – uses high effort and motor
• Flashes of solid playmaking
• Hit a few off-the-dribble 3s at times, flashed solid shooting
• Could become a lockdown perimeter defender early on
• Strong legs, quick feet, tough player
• Inconsistent shot mechanics, was never really a reliable deep shooter
• Stiff on catch and shoot jumpers, elbows flare out
• Inconsistent free throw shooter
• Lack of mid-range game and sub-par playmaking makes him too predictable offensively
• Lacks control with the ball in his hands
• Relies on athleticism too much offensively
Best Landing Spot
Cleveland Cavaliers. There are probably going to be higher-upside players where the Cavs are drafting, but the team would really benefit from Okoro’s toughness, athleticism, and defense. Colin Sexton and Darius Garland are the backcourt of the (near) future, and while both have various exciting dynamics to their offensive games, they don’t profile as lockdown defenders. Okoro would provide a ton of value with his ability to help off screens and patrol the court. He can take on the opponent’s primary scoring option and be a force for this team in transition.
Worst Landing Spot
Detroit Pistons. This is more about the Pistons than it is about Okoro, but they would be ill-advised to draft him and expect him to become their offensive fulcrum. Okoro profiles as a defense-focused role player early in his career and the Pistons don’t have enough high-level talent to help him develop into more. Okoro is better-suited for a team where he can play off-ball and do all the little things to help produce wins.
Somewhere between picks 10-20
Okoro reminds me a lot of Derrick Jones Jr. coming out of UNLV – both are infectious hustle players who can play above the rim and provide high-level perimeter defense. If Okoro can diversify his offensive game a bit, he could profile as a Justice Winslow type as well. If he can develop his 3-point shot, he could turn into a high-level role player like Trevor Ariza or Andre Iguodala (Warriors version), but I’m not sure I see a huge improvement in his shooting long-term. Still, his energy, athleticism, hops, and defense should make him a valuable NBA role player in the mold of Justin Anderson.
Shooting: 6. Okoro only shot 28.6% from 3-point range in his 28 games with Auburn. His shot mechanics are inconsistent and need a lot of work at the pro level. His free-throw shooting was only at 67.4% as well, which is concerning as that’s typically a good indicator of future NBA range.
Passing: 6. Okoro only averaged 2 assists per game at Auburn and had 2 turnovers per game as well. There were flashes of solid playmaking, but he doesn’t profile as a guy who will ever be even a secondary playmaker for his team and he’ll need to play next to more ball-dominant guards.
Dribbling: 7. Okoro has a few different counters to his offensive game and can dribble through the lane with skill moves like the Euro-step or spins, but he doesn’t have elite handles by any stretch.
Rebounding: 8. Okoro is a solid rebounder for his size and his combination of strength, athleticism, and energy make this possible. He chases down loose balls and makes the types of little plays that don’t show up on the stat sheet but help his team win games.
Defense: 9. Okoro might be the best perimeter defender in this draft class and he could become a lockdown player on that end early on thanks to his quick feet, strong stance, and hustle. He’s also a smart team defender, providing help and rotating at the right times.
Total rating: 54/70
As a 5-star recruit, Hampton surprised the basketball world when he opted to play basketball in the NBL in New Zealand rather than play for a team in the NCAA. His NBL career perhaps didn’t go quite as planned as he averaged 20.6 minutes per game and just 8.8 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 2.4 assists. However, the young guard is steadfast in his opinion that his professional experience overseas will make him more pro-ready than had he stayed in the US and played for a Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, or Memphis, the schools he had offers from.
The first thing that stands out about Hampton on film is how damn fast he is with the ball in his hands. He runs like Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible, especially in the open court and transition game. Hampton reminds me a bit of DeAaron Fox in the transition game as he explodes coast-to-coast. Fox had some issues in Year 1 with playing a bit out of control and not letting the game come to him, making his speed almost a weakness, but he’s since ironed out those kinks. Hampton should come into the NBA with a more developed change-of-direction ability than Fox did, as he makes quick reads and decisions with the ball but usually doesn’t play too fast for his own good. Hampton can score with a variety of moves in transition, launching to the rim with speed or using skilled dribble moves like Euro-steps to manipulate defenders. He also has a lethal crossover dribble and could have some of the best handles in the NBA eventually. Hampton is an athletic finisher at the rim, but he isn’t overly reliant on his athleticism as he can score with change-of-direction and subtle adjustments to footwork. He also has surprisingly great hops for his size.
Hampton’s quick driving ability makes him a force in the pick-and-roll game, although his inconsistency from long-range allows defenders to go under screens too often. He can be a force on the rescreen (where defenders rarely go under twice), but Hampton has to improve his shooting mechanics to dominate as a scorer. His footwork is inconsistent far too often as his stance and foot placement varied shot to shot. Hampton has shown the ability to stop on a dime and pull up for 3-point shots in the past, particularly in high school, but finding a way to be efficient from long-range will be the most important factor in making him more difficult to defend. Hampton is lethal on the drive-and-kick game, whipping passes to the corner or wing with one hand. He’s a pretty accurate passer, although at times he makes incorrect reads which lead to turnovers. Hampton’s shot-selection is still a work in progress, as well, as he doesn’t always maximize his chances at finding an efficient scoring opportunity.
Defensively, Hampton is still a work in progress, although he certainly has the combination of size and athleticism which should make him a high-level defender in the future. He can smother smaller guards with that length and short-area quickness, and he’s a great out-of-position shot-blocker and rebounder. His closing speed and athleticism also pop on film at times as he flies to cover open shooters, but he needs to improve his reading of the game on that end to become a high-level team defender. At times he gets eaten alive by quicker guards in pick-and-roll scenarios, although that should be fixable given his natural athletic profile. Hampton also struggled with staying attached to his matchup off-ball at times as he couldn’t fight through screens. To his credit, though, his ability to recover on defensive plays after being beaten up by screens is really impressive – he can get hit hard and still cover ground quickly to stay in the play. Hampton put up solid steals numbers throughout his time in high school and the NBL, thanks to his ability to close on passing lanes, but he tends to make overly risky defensive plays at times. He will need to reign that in and be more selective with shooting the gap in the NBA. In isolation plays Hampton doesn’t always keep his defensive stance, but there are flashes of elite on-ball defense.
There are parts of Hampton’s game that give him incredible upside for the NBA – his combination of size, speed, and athleticism are what teams look for in point guard prospects, and he has the ability to be a high-level defender if he can improve his anticipation and toughness. Hampton needs to improve his consistency on both ends of the floor and has some ironing out of mechanics to do with his shooting and defensive form, but at just 19 years old he’s a really enticing long-term project for teams looking for upside in the middle of the lottery.
• Good size for a point guard – 6’4”, 6’7” wingspan, 8’4” standing reach
• Incredible speed, especially in transition
• Can play on or off the ball
• Awesome skill moves in the open court – Euro step!!!
• Transition playmaking is awesome, makes quick reads and decisions but doesn’t play too fast for his own good
• Dynamic pick-and-roll playmaker/scorer
• Crossover dribble is quick, smooth handles
• Really impressive closing speed and athleticism to recover defensively
• Explosive driver to the rim, athletic finisher but not too reliant on athleticism
• Draws free throws frequently
• Can throw precise one-handed whip passes to the corner off the drive, accurate cross-court passes, elite in the drive-and-kick game
• An inconsistent shooter from deep when defenders go under screens
• Needs to improve shooting mechanics and footwork
• Raw as a playmaker, makes bad reads at times
• Gets eaten alive at times in pick-and-rolls on defense but doesn’t give up on plays, work in progress
• Needs to improve nuances of a defensive stance, keeping the wide frame
• Instincts in team defense need work
• Not a terribly advanced reader of the game
• Shot selection is still a work in progress
• A high-volume scorer who lacks efficiency at the moment
Best Landing Spot
Washington Wizards. The team we currently have Hampton mocked to is possibly the best landing spot for him. Hampton would benefit greatly from playing alongside experienced point guards in John Wall and Bradley Beal – each of those veterans could offer him different types of mentorship and take the pressure off him early in his career. Hampton would also benefit from the high level of shooting the Wizards have on their roster as he could excel as a drive-and-kick guard off the bench in his rookie year.
Worst Landing Spot
Charlotte Hornets. The Hornets played surprisingly well this season under head coach James Borrego, but the fact that their 23-42 record was surprisingly good should tell you all you need to know about the level of talent on this roster. The team is committed to Devonte Graham and Terry Rozier in the backcourt at the moment, and neither guy has the level of experience or success to help Hampton develop. The lack of shooting on the roster wouldn’t help matters either, and this would not be the best place for him to hone his craft and continue developing.
Likely top 10-12 pick
RJ Hampton has the upside of a DeAaron Fox in the open-floor, although perhaps not quite as fast but with the same downhill aggression and playmaking ability. Fox has become one of the best passers in the NBA and has the type of pick-and-roll operating ability that Hampton’s upside dictates. Hampton looks like Jamal Murray as a scorer at times with his smooth approach to the game and shooting form, but he has more bounce than the former Kentucky guard. While Dante Exum’s career hasn’t quite gone as planned, he had a lot of the same upside traits coming out that Hampton does as well.
Shooting: 8. Hampton only shot 29.4% from 3-point range in his lone season in the NBL, but on only 51 attempts that’s not exactly a decisive marker for his long-term shooting potential. There are times where he would stop on a dime for pull-up threes, and he should have good long-term potential as a shooter both on and off the ball. There are some inconsistencies in his form to work on, but he has the makings of a high-level future shooter. His 3-point shot doesn’t have any hitches in it and he has a pure stroke.
Passing: 7. Hampton showed a high-level ability to run the pick-and-roll at times, but his 1.6 assists: turnovers ratio is slightly concerning. He didn’t always make the best decisions in the NBL but he’s an accurate passer, particularly in the open court, and his drive-and-kick ability should translate to the NBA.
Dribbling: 9. Hampton has a full arsenal of dribble moves – crossovers, spin moves, and Euro-steps allow him to create space as he drives to the rim. His combination of high-level handles and quick dribbles make him a really tough one-on-one cover. Hampton is also really good at changing speed and direction with the ball in his hands.
Rebounding 7. With Hampton’s slender frame, you wouldn’t expect him to be a high-level rebounder but he’s really good at seeing the court and positioning his body to contest for loose balls. He averaged 6.6 rebounds per 36 minutes in the NBL, a professional league with veteran players, so he could be a high-level rebounder in the NBA as far as guards go.
Defense: 6. Hampton can stand to work on his defensive awareness, as he doesn’t always have his stance set correctly and he doesn’t always make the right switches. Like most other areas, he has a ton of upside on defense with his length and athleticism, he just needs to work on his mechanics and consistency. He also needs to get stronger if he wants to become a high-level defender.
Total rating: 51/70
Haliburton won’t wow you with his scoring capabilities – he doesn’t have lightning-quick downhill speed and at just 175 lbs, you won’t be confusing his drives to the rim with Anthony Edwards anytime soon. Haliburton can beat you in other ways, though, making subtle adjustments to his footwork and dribbling to create space and waiting for the right moment to strike. He showed the ability to finish drives with Euro steps, spin moves, and the type of fancy footwork it usually takes point guards years to hone. Haliburton’s shot looks more like Matt Barnes’s release than Steph Curry’s, and yet, he made 41.9% of his 3-point shots (5.6 attempts per game). Keep in mind this was on an Iowa State team where no other player hit more than 33.7% of their threes and the team was only 12-20. The year prior he made 43.4% of his 3s on an Iowa State team that performed much better, winning the Big 12 tournament. Haliburton will face much less defensive pressure in the NBA than he did this past season in college, as he won’t be the only real offensive threat on his team. His ability to operate as a spot-up shooter and secondary playmaker will make him enticing for teams with a ball-dominant guard already on-hand.
Haliburton has some flaws in his game, to be sure. He’s not going to be Damian Lillard as his lack of athleticism and top-end speed really limits his ability to perform consistently as a primary scorer. Refinement in his shooting and finishing will be incredibly important at the next level – if defenses don’t respect his ability to score his playmaking will be heavily diminished. Haliburton’s shooting form is so unorthodox, and yet, it worked so well in college that it just might work in the NBA. Haliburton’s awareness and basketball IQ allows him to be an excellent team defender, providing help defenses off switches and cutting through passing lanes to create turnovers. He has the brand of anticipation, ingenuity, and playmaking that should make him a lethal transition offensive creator. In terms of man-to-man defense, though, his small frame really holds him back. Getting him in an intensive weights program early on in his career will be important, but we have seen similarly wiry players in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Brandon Ingram excel offensively in recent years, and defensively in SGA’s case. Haliburton’s length, athleticism, and basketball IQ give him the upside to be a multi-positional defensive force who can take on various types of matchups and provide solid help defense.
The buildup to the draft will feature a wide array of opinions on Haliburton, and the range of outcomes for his potential as a player is huge. His playmaking, basketball IQ, and ability to do all the little things should make him a solid role player right away, with the ability to become a dynamic combo guard if he can polish his mechanics in shooting and driving to the rim. The Iowa State product averaged 15.2 points, 6.5 assists, and 5.9 rebounds per game this season, and offers all sorts of upside. He doesn’t fit the cookie-cutter mold of NBA talent we’ve seen, and yet, he’s the perfect player for this era of basketball with his ability to navigate pick-and-rolls and manipulate the movement of defenders in different ways. I am incredibly intrigued by Haliburton’s potential and am thrilled to see how NBA GMs evaluate such a unique prospect.
• Natural basketball IQ and anticipation that allows him to be a lethal playmaker
• Untapped athletic potential with his size (6’5”, 7’0” wingspan) and short-area quickness
• Career 42.6% 3-point shooter at Iowa State, can shoot off the dribble or on catch-and-shoot opportunities
• Versatility on both ends will make him an easy guy to slot into any lineup
• Smart player who takes care of the ball – 3.5:1 career assist-turnover ratio
• Underrated handles, can dribble with both hands and uses skilled footwork to finish at the rim
• Shot mechanics are unorthodox and may not work in the NBA as well as they did in college
• Lack of elite athleticism may hold him back on both ends of the floor
• Strength is lacking, needs to add muscle (175 lbs) in order to be a consistent finisher and man-to-man defender
Best Landing Spot
Phoenix Suns. As a big fan of Devin Booker’s game, Haliburton is the guy I want the Suns to end up with from this draft. Ricky Rubio is starting at point guard currently, but he may be better served to work with a second-unit that desperately needs help with shot-creation. Rubio doesn’t quite fit the timeline of the rest of the Suns’ starting roster. Haliburton would provide playmaking, to be sure, but he doesn’t need a high usage rate to succeed. He could help create easier opportunities for Booker, Ayton, and Oubre while providing spacing with his spot-up ability. Haliburton would benefit from playing off a ball-dominant, sharp-shooting 2-guard like Booker and the two would complement each other very nicely offensively. The defense would be another story, but hey, you can’t fix everything in one draft right?
Worst Landing Spot
San Antonio Spurs. I don’t expect DeMar DeRozan to be back in San Antonio next season, as I think he will opt out of his contract and take advantage of a weak free agency class to secure a long-term deal. Beyond DeRozan and Aldridge, the Spurs have a lot of secondary playmakers who are far from elite offensive weapons. Haliburton would likely be relied upon too much early in his career and it might stunt his development. He would also be sort of redundant alongside Derrick White and Dejountae Murray. I would rather see Haliburton end up on a team with a need for playmaking and an elite scorer to put next to and take the pressure off him.
Haliburton has a similarly unorthodox shooting form to Lonzo Ball coming out of UCLA, but both players can impact the game in a variety of different ways – passing, rebounding, defense – to compensate for this. Haliburton’s craftiness reminds me of SGA at times, and he has the size at point guard which compares to Dejountae Murray. Sam Cassell and Ron Harper are two throwback guards who excelled in the NBA with their combination of size, playmaking, and versatility.
Shooting: 7. Haliburton’s career 42.6% from 3-point range would suggest this should be closer to a 10, but I have some concerns about his long-term shooting upside due to his unorthodox form and slow release. He did shoot 82.2% from the free-throw line this past year, which is traditionally a great indicator of future 3-point success.
Passing: 9. Haliburton averaged 6.5 assists per game despite playing on an Iowa State team that didn’t provide him with any sort of elite scorers. On an NBA offense, his ability to perform as a primary or secondary playmaker will be highly valuable.
Dribbling: 7. Haliburton showcased some awesome technique in transition dribbling, and he can handle the ball with both hands. He needs to improve his physicality as a driving finisher, but given his massive improvement from his freshman to sophomore season in that regard, there’s no reason to think he can’t continue to improve.
Rebounding: 7. As a 6’5”, 175 lb point guard, 5.9 rebounds per game was an impressive mark. This speaks to his understanding of the game and where players are on the floor, things that are important for guards rebounding long rebounds off three-point attempts.
Defense: 8. Haliburton may not have the physicality or athleticism to be a high-level man defender right away, but his basketball IQ makes him an awesome team defender and he rarely makes mistakes. Once his frame fills out he should have the ability to guard multiple positions and switch onto different players on defense.
Total rating: 53/70
Patrick Williams is a hybrid 6’8” forward who has the ability to play the SF and PF positions. Williams was utilized perfectly at FSU, who played most of his minutes at the 4 in small-ball lineups. Although his size is more comparable to most small forwards in the modern NBA, his skill set is best suited at the 4 spot. Williams is a capable catch and shoot forward from three who can also hit pull-up mid-range jumpers after attacking closeouts. He isn’t the best finisher but is solid in that area. Williams can be counted on to crash the glass at both ends and is more than capable of playing above the rim. Due to his high IQ on the defensive end, he possesses a unique ability to rotate from the weak side and protects the rim well for his size. Although he doesn’t get many blocks, he contests shots at the rim and the perimeter with his length and displays good defensive position. Although not a great ball-handler, he is more than capable of using an escape dribble to go around defenders on closeouts and find his teammates well without forcing passes.
Williams has good athleticism and a solid frame (225 lbs) which allows him to play above the rim on occasion. He can also stretch the floor decently but is pretty much a catch and shoot player. Williams is rather slow for a player of his size and stature but has good instincts and IQ at both ends. He isn’t someone who teams want chasing quicker guards and forwards around the perimeter and this may hurt his versatility a bit. Most of his production comes from catch and shoot opportunities, attacking closeouts, cutting and crashing the offensive boards.
• Defensive IQ/Awareness
• PnR ability
• C&S ability
• Solid passer
• Shot IQ
Best Landing Spot
Miami Heat. Although Williams is a bit of a project, he has quality tools to work with. Coach Erik Spoelstra and Pat Riley have a great track record when it comes to molding players, just look at the strides Bam Adebayo has taken in the last 2 years. Williams can bring energy, defense, and rebounding off the bench for the Heat. Spoelstra can utilize Williams in Miami’s small-ball lineups at the 4 slot next to Adebayo at the 5. Williams is a diamond in the rough type of player, who just looks better in a Miami Heat uniform.
Worst Landing Spot
Sacramento Kings. The fit is more about the Kings than it is Williams. The Kings have a track record for drafting big men prematurely and failing to get anything out of them. Willie Cauley-Stein (2015), Marquese Chriss (2016), and Zach Collins (2017). Sacramento is already focused at developing players at the forward positions in Marvin Bagley III and Harry Giles. Williams would be stuck behind Harrison Barnes, Jabari Parker, and Bogdan Bogdanovic. He also doesn’t fit well for the Kings, who seem like they want to add shooting around De’Aaron Fox and Bagley. Williams isn’t a shooter.
A team could take him at the end of the lottery, or he could fall towards the latter half of the first round.
Shooting: 6, quality catch and shoot game, is capable of shooting pull up jumpers off the dribble
Passing: 8, great passer for his position, rarely turns it over
Hustle: 9, high-energy player with a great motor
Defense: 7, not good at closeouts, hip fluidity and agility are question marks, competes on the defensive end and knows defensive rotations
Defensively, Ramsey has shown to be a nightmare, where he was relied upon primarily as a scorer. He has the athletic ability and strength to guard 1s and 2s but lacks the awareness to be a good defender. In the past, Ramsey has shown the ability to rotate and contest shots at the rim, but often gambles and loses sight of his own man. He is not someone known as a defensive stopper and struggles to guard the ball in isolation situations. He has some tools to work with here but needs a ton of coaching. Ramsey is more of a long-term project than someone who can solidify and contribute off the bench right away. He possesses some athletic upside and a solid shooting stroke that could draw some attention from teams looking to bank on his upside and raw potential.
• Catch and shoot ability: 42.6 3pt%
• Shooting mobility and use of screens
• Good shooting mechanics
• Willingness to defend the rim
• Solid athlete, has potential
• Streaky shooter capable of heating up quickly
• Shot/Defensive IQ
• Shot selection
• Footwork on the defensive end
• Inconsistency with jump shot
• Footwork on defense
• Finishing ability
• Free throw shooting
Best Landing Spot
Philadelphia 76ers. The Sixers desperately need shooting to create space for Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. Drafting Ramsey would provide shooting and the ability to attack off closeouts. Ramsey’s defensive shortcomings would be erased by the likes of Embiid, Simmons, and Josh Richardson. Brett Brown’s defensive background will also help Ramsey’s defense grow. Given that the Sixers already have a solid starting five, Ramsey can assume a bench role and provide the team with his best skill, shooting.
Worst Landing Spot
Cleveland Cavaliers. With two similar scoring guards in Darius Garland and Collin Sexton, the Cavs are in no need to draft a similar type player. Although both were more polished than Ramsey was coming out of college, they all display similar stature in size and struggle defensively.
Mid to late first round, early second round
Shooting: 7, great mechanics and form, struggles with consistency
Passing: 6, good initial reads, needs to improve on decision-making and secondary reads
Hustle: 7, good energy and effort
Defense: 5, needs to improve footwork, IQ and position
Defensively, Achiuwa has a ton of upside. He has the strength and length to get vertical and guard big men at the rim and also the foot speed and athleticism to guard smaller players on the perimeter. He closes ground really well with his foot speed and long strides. He also showed solid defensive awareness on-ball and the ability to get into passing lanes and generate steals. With his ability to score in transition as a physical rim-runner or put the ball on the floor himself, Achiuwa’s high-level ability to create turnovers will be all-the-more important. He averaged 1.1 steals and 1.9 blocks per game. His defensive fundamentals and discipline could improve a touch, but he has all of the tangible traits that should make him a high-level player on that end of the court. He offers true positional versatility with his ability to switch onto virtually any player and should afford his NBA team a ton of lineup flexibility. Achiuwa had some moments where his off-ball awareness wasn’t great, but refinement in his technique and mechanics should allow him to be a great defensive player in the NBA.
On the offensive side of the court, Achiuwa has more work to do, although his rim-running and energy scoring should make him a solid offensive threat right away. He actually has some surprisingly skillful dribbling moves as he works his way into the lane and his aggressiveness should make him a constant threat to get to the free throw line. He will need to improve his 59.9% free-throw shooting from Memphis, however. Achiuwa will need to work on improving his offensive feel and poise, as he is a turnover-prone player at times. He predetermines his movements too often to where he’ll pass up an open pass to a teammate or shot from deep in favor of a low-percentage contested mid-range look. Achiuwa also tends to be overly aggressive at times, barrelling into the lane and picking up unnecessary charges. He isn’t a high-level playmaker at this point due to his lack of court awareness, but the passing accuracy does seem to be there and he flashed some awesome open-court passes. Achiuwa isn’t an elite 3-point shooter, but he did show some decent range, making 32.5% of his deep attempts. A big issue with his 3-point shooting was his general lack of confidence from range, as he would pass up open attempts in rhythm too often and come back to the shot after the opportunity had passed. In general, he needs to make quicker decisions with his offensive movements to make him unpredictable for defenders. Improving his shot preparation and overall mechanics will make Achiuwa a much more consistent 3-point shooter, but there’s no reason why he shouldn’t be an above-average shooter from range.
Achiuwa will demand playing time in his first season due to how contagious his high-motor play is on both ends of the floor. He rebounds at a high rate and is an awesome offensive rebounder with his combination of strength, length, quickness, and agility. He’s also a force as a rim-runner with his incredibly physical dunking – defenders just got out of his way in college and will do the same in the NBA, or else be put on a poster. Achiuwa should also be able to pick up playing time at a variety of positions with his defensive versatility. If he can smooth out his defensive consistency and develop a reliable outside shot, he has as much upside as anyone in this draft class.
• Can switch onto anyone defensively, guard all 5 positions
• Really impressive foot speed and athleticism, active feet
• Can block shots from smaller players on the perimeter
• Good anticipation and awareness defensively, gets in passing lanes
• Great speed in transition defensively, covers up mistakes with energy
• Great control going after 50-50 balls, hustle mentality
• Rim-running has become a strength with open court speed and energy
• Good change-of-speed ability, long strides allow him to cover a lot of ground
• Great open-court playmaking, half-court needs some work
• Dives hard, dunks hard
• Offensive rebounding really impressive – quickness, agility, strength, length
• When he has space and is confident to follow through, he can drain 3s
• Going to draw a ton of free throws with how aggressive he is downhill
• Can protect the rim and get vertical against opponents
• Occasionally gets flat-footed on the perimeter but improved over time
• Needs to improve defensive fundamentals and discipline
• Needs to be more physical against big men at times
• Defensive awareness off-ball can improve
• Decision-making offensively could use some work although flashes of solid playmaking, needs to make quicker decisions
• Overly aggressive at times, tends to pick up charges
• Inconsistent 3-point shooter, rhythm isn’t always there, turns down open looks, just needs to improve shot preparation and shooting mechanics
• Mid-range shot is inconsistent, needs to get downhill more often
• Older player for his draft class
• Off-hand dribble/finishing a work in progress
• Free-throw shooting subpar
• Turnover-prone, doesn’t read defenses well, forces shots at times
• Needs to add more creativity, counters to his dribbling and offensive game
• Offensive feel needs to improve, predetermines plays
Best Landing Spot
Chicago Bulls. The Bulls are building something really interesting right now. Coby White won rookie of the month for the Eastern Conference in February thanks to his breakout play in scoring and shot-creation. Zach LaVine and Lauri Markannen provide additional scoring, and Wendell Carter Jr. and Otto Porter provide solid defensive presences. Achiuwa could give the team an element they don’t currently have with his physicality, rim-running, defensive versatility, and high-energy play. He would likely come off the bench in his rookie season but a big-man rotation of Markkanen, Carter, and Achiuwa would offer just about any set of skills you could want out of your bigs.
Worst Landing Spot
Philadelphia 76ers. The potential draft range for Achiuwa is massive, and there’s a chance he lasts into the 20s. I wouldn’t want him to land on the Sixers, though, as they have just about the least floor-spacing in the NBA. They also would likely try to pigeon-hole him as a three since they already have Al Horford and Joel Embiid on the roster. Ben Simmons’ playmaking would make him an elite pick-and-roll partner but there are better destinations for Achiuwa to expand his responsibilities and grow as a prospect.
Likely late-lottery pick, but wider range than most
The first player I think of when I watch Precious Achiuwa go to work is Montrezl Harrell, the Clippers’ high-energy, low-post-scoring big man. Like Trez, Achiuwa doesn’t have traditional big-man size, but both guys make up for it with their incredible motor and defensive versatility. Achiuwa could also profile as a Jerami Grant type if he plans on playing more forward in the NBA. Grant takes advantage of his size and speed to make life difficult on opposing forwards defensively. If Achiuwa can develop his offensive polish and outside shooting, he has the upside to become a Pascal Siakam type with his do-it-all hustle play and all-around versatility. Like Bam Adebayo, though, Achiuwa can fit in as a 6’9” big man who rebounds at a high rate, protects the rim, and serves as an energizer for his team.
Shooting: 6. Achiuwa’s 3-point shot is still very much a work in progress, as is his overall shot selection. Working with an experienced shooting coach will be very important. His mechanics are solid, though, and I’d argue he has more shooting upside than a lot of guys with his size/athleticism that come out.
Passing: 6. Achiuwa isn’t much of a passer at this point in his career, and while his passing does seem to be accurate, his overall decision-making holds him back at times. He is pretty good at finding cutters in the open court but he won’t be averaging a ton of assists right away in the NBA.
Dribbling: 8. Achiuwa is aggressive as a dive man and shows the type of varied dribbling which will make him a scoring threat in the post. He can also take the ball coast-to-coast in the open floor.
Rebounding: 9. Achiuwa averaged 10.8 rebounds per game while at Memphis, and despite not having elite height he more than makes up for it with his motor and athleticism. He should be one of the better offensive rebounders in the NBA.
Defense: 8. Achiuwa can be a force on defense right away with his physicality and versatility. He can guard any position on the floor and understands how to vary his approach to fit varying play styles. He needs to improve his off-ball awareness and decision-making, but certainly profiles as a high-level defender.
Total rating: 52/70
As the only true freshman starter, Maxey was the best player on a Kentucky team that went 25-6 (15-3 in-conference) before college basketball’s season was called off. John Calipari’s squad made it to the top of the AP Poll at one point during the season and were destined to be at least a three seed in this year’s March Madness tournament. Maxey routinely showed up in the biggest moments during the biggest games, delivering when his team needed him the most. He started off the season with 26 points (7-12 shooting) against Michigan State and went on to deliver with 27 points against Louisville, 22 on the road against Auburn, 25 on the road against Vanderbilt, and 21 against Tennessee. If the moment was grand, Maxey was grander. The intensity he plays the game with and his incredibly high motor are the kinds of things that make scouts fall in love with a specific prospect. All of his other skills make him a clear lottery guy in this year’s draft.
Maxey is much more than a high-energy guy on offense. He has a variety of dribbling moves in his arsenal which allow him to get to the rim. He also shows a really strong ability to fight through contact and finish the shot, often getting to the free throw line in the process. My favorite part of Maxey’s game is his array of floaters he uses to beat defenders and finish over even the tallest post players. He makes it look effortless when he floats the ball in the middle of the lane, which also allows him to confuse defenders and throw pretty lob passes to his big men. Maxey’s athletic dives to the rim stand out in highlight videos, but the really impressive part of his game to me is the finesse he plays with. He has talked in the past about spending hours with his dad, Tyrone, working through his game film, and perfecting various parts of his dribbling, driving, and finishing game. Maxey can float in layups off the glass from a variety of angles and is a threat to score from anywhere around the painted area as he drives either direction. The craftiness he already shows in being able to manipulate defenders on his way to the hoop is really impressive. Maxey is also an electric 3-point shooter at times, able to catch-and-shoot or pull up off the dribble. His 29.2% 3-point shooting in his lone Kentucky season doesn’t do justice to how he has perfected his shooting stroke.
The long-term defensive upside for Maxey is also enticing, as his high motor made him an on-ball pest at Kentucky. He does a great job of staying engaged and locked on to his matchup. Maxey’s 6’3” height and 6’6” wingspan is decent, but don’t do justice to how powerful of a frame he has and the type of verticality he can get when defending players around the rim. It’s a shame we didn’t get to see him at the combine this year as Maxey would have been one of the leaders in vertical reach despite his relatively average length. Maxey’s steals rate (0.9 per game) isn’t terribly impressive, and he could stand to take some more chances on defense as he’s such a lethal scorer in transition, but his defense stands out in other ways. In addition to contesting and blocking shots at the rim, he’s really good at getting in the way of the passing lane to his matchup and denying them the ball. At times he overextends himself defensively with unnecessary help defense, which can lend to him finding himself out of position, but this is pretty easily fixable. Maxey should be comfortable switching onto bigger players at the next level as his strength and motor make him difficult to deal with, even for players with a size advantage on him.
Maxey’s biggest weaknesses come with basketball IQ issues. His high motor sometimes leads to him unnecessarily driving into the lane on offense and turning the ball over when there was a simpler play to be made. He is a solid pick-and-roll operator, but his lack of anticipation and advanced vision may make him a better off-ball player in the NBA. While Maxey is no slouch as an athlete, he doesn’t have elite speed in the open court and the continued development of his finesse game will be important in making him an elite NBA scorer. Maxey could also improve his poise as he doesn’t always make the best decisions, but working with veteran NBA players will help that a ton. He does have a good amount of experience with coming through in clutch appearances, and I believe if March Madness had taken place his big-game presence would have made him a fast riser in the draft community. Even still, his combination of high-motor aggressiveness, polished finesse dribbling and finishing, on-ball defensive abilities, and intriguing long-term shooting outlook make him a very enticing lottery option.
• Shows up in the biggest moments; plays with passion, loves the game
• Great transition player
• Can shoot off the dribble with good range
• Can play on or off the ball; good at moving without the ball
• Strong pull-up player in mid-range
• Nice floater off the dribble, unorthodox release but it works
• Really good at initiating contact with big men, finishing and drawing fouls
• Finesse game around the rim is really impressive (floaters, counters in dribbling)
• High energy and motor, keeps plays alive; infectious energy player
• Student of the game, works on different passing, scoring, dribbling techniques; does a ton of film work with his dad
• Good lobber when heading downhill
• Strong on-ball defender, can guard 1-3 effectively
• Really good mechanics on defense overall, keeps feet set
• Uses length and foot speed to contest shots; good verticality at the rim
• Good activity off-ball despite low steals, denies passing lanes for guards
• Impressive rebounder for size, boxes out in the paint or crashes from perimeter
• Catch-and-shoot is a work in progress, played almost all on-ball in high school
• Forces awkward mid-range shots sometimes instead of getting to the rim
• Needs to be more confident pulling the 3 when he has space
• Needs to improve pull-up game when defenders are going under screens
• Has to work on versatility in manipulating defense out of pick and roll
• Plays out of control at times, needs to be more patient and change play speed
• Inconsistent pick-and-roll passer, needs polish in court vision and precision
• Needs to improve discipline on defense, overpursues or overhelps at times
• Not very disruptive on-ball
Best Landing Spot
New Orleans Pelicans. Alvin Gentry’s team prides itself on playing lockdown defense to create transition offense, which Maxey would fit right into. Maxey excels playing next to a dominant lob threat, which Zion Williamson certainly qualifies as. He has also spoken about studying Jrue Holiday’s dribbling moves and defensive tendencies, so Holiday would provide a solid veteran presence for him. The Pelicans also have plenty of shooting with guys like J.J. Redick and Brandon Ingram, and with Lonzo Ball on the roster, they could mix up lineups and play Maxey on and off the ball.
Worst Landing Spot
San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs are possibly the slowest team in the league, playing a plodding style focused on mid-range scoring. Besides not being very effective in the modern NBA, this also would not be beneficial to a player like Maxey. They don’t feature the lob threats or floor-spacers that are needed for Maxey’s offensive talents to be maximized, and while Gregg Popovich would certainly welcome his high-motor and defensive skills, the team’s offensive style would hamper Maxey’s long-term development.
Likely top 10-12 pick
Maxey’s lightning-bolt energy and versatile scoring remind me of Lou Williams – when you put the diminutive Clippers guard in the game, he’s an instant source of offense. Like Williams, Maxey has an array of ways to finish with floaters, layups, and counter moves. Maxey will be an impact scorer off the bench and should learn a lot from Williams’s success in that role. Jason Terry is another player who has excelled in a Sixth-Man role. Maxey reminds me of JET with his open-court speed and finesse game around the rim. Maxey’s defensive upside is greater than both Terry and Williams, though, and he reminds me of Kyle Lowry on that end of the floor. The Raptors’ guard won’t wow you with his speed or athleticism, but he does a great job of staying locked on his man on-ball and can impact his whole team’s defensive effort with his energy on that end of the floor. Lowry has also taken advantage of his awesome core and lower body strength to become a high-level rebounder for the point guard position – this is something Maxey could accomplish. At his peak, he profiles as a bit of a Bradley Beal type, not necessarily an elite playmaker or defender but solid enough in those regards, allowing him to shine as a versatile, explosive scorer.
Shooting: 7. Maxey only shot 29.2% from 3 and 42.7% from the field at Kentucky, and while he does have some really nice parts to his scoring game – clutch shooting, floaters, etc. – his shot overall was inconsistent. He made some huge threes at times and launches them from NBA range, but his shot arc was often too low. Mechanically, his technique is solid, however, and his 83.3% free-throw shooting is a good indicator of his long-term potential in this regard.
Passing: 6. Maxey can run the pick-and-roll effectively, but he’s not an elite playmaking threat. He averaged 3.2 assists to 2.2 turnovers at Kentucky and might be better suited as an off-ball player at the offset of his career. He doesn’t have elite court vision but his ability to move defenders off their spots could turn him into a decent enough passer in the long run.
Dribbling: 8. Maxey may not have the advanced dribbling technique of R.J. Hampton or LaMelo Ball in this class, but he’s a lethal downhill player and showed a willingness to drive through bigger defenders and work his way to the free-throw line. He can finish at the rim in a variety of ways, and his continued development in shooting range will allow his handles to be more of a weapon.
Rebounding: 7. Maxey isn’t an imposing player in terms of size, but his core and lower body strength allow him to box out opposing players, even bigger ones. He can also crash in from the perimeter to grab loose balls off the glass, and if he can perfect his rebounding technique it will directly translate to his open-court scoring.
Defense: 7. Maxey lacks defensive awareness at times and can be caught out of position, but there’s no reason why he shouldn’t be an above-average defender in the NBA. His strength allows him to power through screens and he should have solid positional versatility at the next level.
Total rating: 50/70
Few players have seen their draft stock fluctuate more than Cole Anthony. The UNC guard was once considered by most to be a lock for the first five picks, but there’s a chance now that he falls into the late lottery. It all depends on how teams value his particular skillset. As with many prospects in his likely draft range, Anthony has a wide range of outcomes in the NBA. I believe his explosive athleticism, natural scoring ability, and ball-handling skills could make him an awesome point guard at the pro level. He glides through traffic on his way to the rim and has surprising hops for a player his size, finishing dunks with both hands. His dribbling repertoire is deep, showing the ability to perform step-backs, sidesteps, jab steps, and all sorts of moves.
Anthony can beat defenders off the dribble in a variety of ways and is a rhythm shooter, working his way open and finding his shot. His floater is impressive, in particular, as his touch is really smooth on that shot and he can consistently finish it through contact. In fact, he draws contact at a really strong rate and has displayed solid free throw shooting in the past, something that should endear him to analytics-friendly organizations. Anthony is a developing 3-point shooter but he showed flashes of NBA range at UNC. He can handle the ball in the pick-and-roll or transition game and is a particularly dangerous threat in the open floor.
Defensively, Anthony profiles as a great on-ball presence against point guards thanks to his physicality, lateral quickness, and a high motor. His anticipation is awesome on that side of the ball as well, as he shoots the gap on passing lanes to generate steals and fast-break scoring opportunities where he can show off his great handles. Anthony’s overall defensive awareness and decision-making could improve, but he has the skillset to be an above-average defender.
It’s important to note that the UNC roster wasn’t exactly set up for Anthony to succeed this season. Despite an overall lack of talent isn’t typical of the blue-blood program, the Tar Heels had a lack of outside shooting that did nothing to support Anthony’s abilities. Only two regular players shot over 32% from three this year – one was Anthony, and one was Brandon Robinson. The rest of the roster offered him next to no outside shooting help, something that would be extremely beneficial to a player who relies on the spacing shooters would provide on his drives to the rim.
I’m still not convinced Anthony can take advantage of the extra shooting provided in the NBA, however. He was pretty turnover prone at UNC (4 assists to 3.5 turnovers per game) and shot just 38% from the field and 34% from 3-point territory. His supporters will point to the lack of surrounding talent, but at what point should Anthony shoulder some of the blame? He tended to develop tunnel vision offensively, only looking to create offense for himself and not his teammates. He would take tough shots early in the shot clock instead of creating easier looks. Offensively, Anthony’s decision-making could use some serious work. To his credit, he does check all of the other boxes in terms of intangibles – leadership, confidence, toughness – he will just need to learn how to get his teammates more involved and take better shots. Anthony has steadily progressed in his point guard skills, but his lack of court awareness and decision-making abilities could hold him back from being anything other than a microwave scorer.
One other concern I have about Anthony is his extensive injury history. He plays a very aggressive brand of basketball with his hard-nosed drives to the rim, hustle plays on defense, and general lack of concern with general safety on the court. Of course, that makes him a more effective player, but his past ankle injuries in high school and torn meniscus at UNC could push his draft stock down. Availability is the best ability, and I have serious questions about Anthony’s ability to stay on the court and maintain his elite athleticism in the long run.
Cole Anthony will inspire much debate among draftniks. Is he a Ja Morant-Esque dribble-drive, bouncy, explosive athlete at point guard? Or is he a ball-dominant, turnover-prone walking injury? Teams will land on both sides of that argument and it will be fascinating to see how he turns out. He certainly has a lot of upside if he can improve his court awareness with better teammates as well as his shot selection, but there are red flags in his profile that could push him to the end of the lottery.
• Explosive athlete, takes advantage of that athleticism especially on offense
• Great open-floor speed and body control
• Fearless as he glides to the rim, can dunk with either hand
• Draws fouls at a high rate and a good free-throw shooter
• Quick first step but can also stop his dribble and pull up from mid-range
• Good touch on his floater, maintains touch through contact
• Can finish with either hand at various angles
• Solid 3-point shooter
• Good handles, quick/tight dribbling moves to break down defender
• Confident under pressure; tough player with strong leadership qualities
• Good ball-handler in the pick-and-roll or transition
• Decent rebounder – good leaping ability, strength, great feel for the game
• Good defender – lateral quickness, intensity, competitiveness
• Anticipates passes to generate steals and create offense in transition
• Good at using footwork to create space, shoot in rhythm (going either direction)
• Comfortable in PnR, always looking to score
• Can hit stepback shots, sidesteps, jab step; creative with the ball in his hands
• 6’5” wingspan, 7’11” standing reach isn’t spectacular
• High-volume shooter who doesn’t always display the best shot selection
• Can be turnover-prone at times (4 assists to 3.5 turnovers per game)
• Score-first mentality can lead him to take first shot he sees on offense, needs to be more patient and wait for plays to develop
• Needs to cut down turnovers and sloppy plays, learn to play within himself
• Tends to gamble too much on defense, needs to elevate consistency
• Improving in point guard skills but struggles to make proper reads at times
• Good but not great size or length
• 3-point shot still a work in progress, lacks consistency and has low, slow-release
• Injury history (ankle issues in high school, tore meniscus at UNC) cause concerns over his durability especially given aggressive play style
Best Landing Spot
New York Knicks. Yeah, I know. Calling the Knicks anyone’s best landing spot is iffy at best, but hear me out. Anthony’s favorite team growing up was the Knicks and he played high school ball in Briarwood, New York. He has the bravado, swagger, charisma – whatever you want to call it – to succeed in front of the Madison Square Garden crowd. The Knicks are desperate for a scoring point guard and Anthony would fit the bill. I like his potential fit alongside R.J. Barrett, as the former Duke player profiles as someone who could take some of the playmaking pressure off Anthony. The Knicks don’t quite have the level of 3-point shooting that a pro team would like to surround Anthony with, but he would be a great off-court fit for a team in need of a leader.
Worst Landing Spot
Phoenix Suns. We have Tyrese Haliburton headed to Phoenix in our mock draft, and while they could use an upgrade at point guard I don’t think Anthony is the right type of player for their team. The UNC guard wouldn’t totally know how to get the most out of Devin Booker’s elite shooting and DeAndre Ayton’s low-post scoring. Anthony is too ball-dominant of a player to add to a team with talents like Booker, Ayton, and Kelly Oubre – he would end up just taking away shots from those players. The Suns are in need of a point guard who can increase their offensive efficiency and help find easier shots for their scorers, but I don’t see Anthony as that guy.
Potential top-five pick but more likely mid-late lottery.
The comparisons I have seen for Anthony are all over the map from Damian Lillard to Derrick Rose to Isiah Thomas. I do think the Rose comp makes some sense with Anthony’s aggressive play-style and ability to finish through contact at the rim or score from mid-range. Jamal Murray is an interesting comp as the Nuggets’ guard, has sneaky athleticism and hops, adding to a nice all-around skill game with shooting and dribbling. Other comps include Mike Conley (defensive upside, toughness), Derek Fisher (with more bounce), and Kemba Walker (due to shooting/dribbling upside, but bigger).
Shooting: 7. Anthony’s 34.8% from 3-point land in college won’t stand out, but his shooting actually has a solid upside in the NBA. He has a variety of moves to create space including step-backs and jab steps, and while his shooting form lacks consistency he can drain looks from the NBA range. Like many young players, he needs to work on shooting mechanics, but I like his mid-range and 3-point shooting potential.
Passing: 8. While his court awareness needs polish when he does decide to pass Anthony can deliver the ball in stride and on time. He is good in the drive-and-kick game and is an adept pick-and-roll operator, although improvements in anticipation and awareness would do a lot to boost his passing ability.
Hustle: 8. Anthony is a solid hustle player, diving for loose balls, showing aggressive tendencies, and overall having a high motor. However, I’m not sure this is a positive for a player with his injury history and he will need to learn how to reign it in and pick his spots in the NBA.
Rebounding 8. As a 6’3” point guard he may not be expected to rebound at a high level, but Anthony actually grabs boards at a decent clip. His leaping ability, strength, and feel for the game all allow him to position himself better for rebounding opportunities and he has the competitive fire to fight bigger players for the ball.
Defense: 8. Anthony is a high-upside defender if he can improve his awareness and team defense. His lateral quickness and physicality make him a high-level on-ball defender and he can especially make an impact by generating steals and creating fast-break opportunities, although he does tend to gamble too often.
Total rating: 48/70
Villanova’s Saddiq Bey could end up being one of those players that everyone will wonder why he dropped in his draft class in a couple of years, similar to former teammate Eric Paschall. He’s an underrated talent who has shown significant development, especially in a program that stresses player development.
Bey is a player in the 3&D archetype. He shot 45 percent from beyond the arch in his final season and can defend four positions on the floor. His 6-8 frame and 7-foot wingspan give him the tools needed to do so, and he at one time was a 5-11 point guard and is quick on his feet defensively. His ability to pivot his hips has allowed him to stay in front of quicker guards, and it’s something that anyone who was played under Jay Wright has had to learn to do since he likes to switch defensively so much. That versatility will make him an attractive option to several teams in the middle of the first round.
But as versatile as he is defensively, there’s definitely room for improvement offensively. He can knock down set shots, but he doesn’t have the burst, quick first step or athleticism to blow by anyone at the next level or do a ton off the dribble. His stride is also very short. Even at 6-8, his rebounding leaves a lot to be desired, but he has a good skill set to start with and earn minutes in his rookie season. If he can improve a few other key areas, he will be a much better overall player.
• Perimeter shooting
• Work ethic
• Speed offensively
Best Landing Spot
There’s a solid Villanova connection with Golden State, and I can see the Warriors looking to acquire a second first round pick as they have done in the past if they see Bey slipping. Boston would also be a solid fit.
Worst Landing Spot
Minnesota may have room for him, but they also have a bunch of young wings. He would be better suited with a coach similar to Wright. Orlando is also loaded with threes that can guard multiple positions.
Middle of first round (13-18)
Shooting: 7, Solid spot-up shooter but will need to work on shooting off the dribble
Passing: 8, His time playing point guard have him the type of vision/instincts you rarely see in threes
Hustle: 9, Great motor and work ethic
Defense: 8, Versatile defender of several players
Duke freshman Vernon Carey Jr. is a massive individual standing at 6-foot-10 and weighing 270 pounds. He knows how to use his body to get to the bucket and actually has some nice face-up moves as well. He’s the son of an offensive lineman so he has good footwork on his post moves. He handles the ball well in those situations and usually ends up getting whatever shot he wants around the rim. He can go both ways, but he almost always finishes with his more natural left even when it’s easier to try to finish right.
While Carey can get out and defend on pick-and-rolls, he can’t stay switched for too long as he is vulnerable to getting beat off the dribble. He’s definitely much more comfortable guarding near the rim and waiting on someone to come into his airspace. He doesn’t often miss box-out assignments and is a solid help-side defender. He has to as he doesn’t have great leap or explosiveness off the ground. He isn’t going to outjump anyone for a rebound or block a shot on the perimeter.
The former Blue Devil will have to work on his jumper as well. It has to become quicker in almost every aspect and he has to be more willing to shoot it. The mechanics are fine, they’re just slow right now. If he fixes that up he becomes a much more dangerous player for the team that drafts him.
• Great with seals and using his body for positioning
Good shooting mechanics despite what the numbers might say
Takes up space and can bother shooters at the rim
• Not an explosive athlete
Could struggle with weight
Not particularly quick guarding out in space
Not a confident jump shooter
Best Landing Spot
Boston Celtics. The Celtics desperately need someone to clean the glass for them and Carey is their guy. He can come in immediately and upgrade their lacking frontcourt. He would get even more minutes if Enes Kanter opts out of his contract and seeks more money elsewhere. He would also give the Celtics perimeter players some relief on offense as he can be a force down low when needed.
Worst Landing Spot
Philadelphia 76ers. The 76ers already have a backlog of bigs and Carey would find himself buried on that bench. Especially since they are trying to win now and can’t afford to give too many minutes to rookies that aren’t going to be huge scoring threats immediately.
Post-lottery to early second round.
Much higher upside Kennedy Meeks
Bigger Malik Rose
Shooting: 6, great around the rim but he favors his left and has to extend his range. Has promising mechanics.
Passing: 5, he passes out of double teams and makes good passes on predetermined reads, but forces passes often too.
Hustle: 9, often is in front of the guards on fastbreaks and transitions back to defense very well.
Defense: 7, struggles out in space but is a good rim protector.
Total rating: 41/70
From an NBA Draft stock standpoint, you’d be hard-pressed to find a member of the 2020 class who has risen faster or further than Devin Vassell. After struggling to see consistent minutes in his 2018-19 freshman season at Florida State, Vassell exploded onto the national scene as a sophomore. His 28.8 minutes per game ranked second on the team, and he was a major contributor on both sides of the floor for a Seminoles squad that earned the number one seed in the ACC Conference Tournament. Florida State had a great shot to make noise both in Greensboro and during March Madness prior to the COVID-19 pandemic forcing cancellations. The 19-year old Vassell will provide a burst of energy and athleticism to whichever NBA team selects him.
Vassell led the Seminoles in points (12.7 PPG) and rebounds (5.1 RPG). His consistency from 3-point range is reflected in a 41.5% shooting clip which proved that the blistering hot close to his freshman season was no fluke. The shooting also stretched defenses and allowed his superb ball-handling skills to be put on full display. While his most definitive offensive strength is his ability to score on off-ball motion plays, Vassell showed that he can create his own shot and finish over long defenders at the rim thanks to his 6’7” height and 6’10” wingspan. The combination of size and dribbling skills allows Vassell to adequately play several different positions. Not to be outdone by his efficiency as a scorer is his defense. Vassell tied for the Florida State team lead in blocks and often showed off his versatility and range as a defender. His athleticism and motor enable him to guard multiple positions and provide quality contests to shots at the rim. If Vassell can add some more muscle to his 190-pound frame, he will undoubtedly be an even greater force in the paint, both as a scorer and defender.
• Great shooting from 3-point range
• Strong ball handling skills and the ability to create his own shots
• Ability to score the basketball in multiple ways
• Long wingspan and athletic build to guard multiple positions
• Maintains good center of balance when closing out on shooters
• Good motor and intensity on the defensive end
• Lacks consistency in creating his own shot
• Tendency to be passive on the offensive end
• No evidence of a face-up or back-to-the-basket post game
• Takes unnecessary risks defensively
• Has trouble finishing in traffic
Best Landing Spot
Milwaukee Bucks. Vassell would fit right into the current Milwaukee roster as a long, athletic defender with the capability to stretch the floor with his shooting. He would be able to run alongside reigning NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, and Eric Bledsoe, The Milwaukee landing spot would bring his off-ball scoring abilities to the forefront right away while minimizing the need for him to constantly find his own shot. Vassell probably wouldn’t see the same minutes with the Bucks as he might with other more needy teams but being able to help stretch the floor with his 3-point shooting offensively and shine as a versatile defender on an elite roster would fall right in line with his greatest strengths. Vassell could look to build off a strong start to his professional career as a high-energy rotation player.
Worst Landing Spot
Minnesota Timberwolves. While the Timberwolves would certainly afford Vassell plenty of playing time given the team’s need for a reliable stretch player to work alongside D’Angelo Russell and Jarrett Culver, recent history suggests that Minnesota is a tough place to grow and develop an all-around game. The team lacks strong veteran leadership and has chosen not to play defense for the past few seasons. Vassell and any other early draft selections would arguably be the most committed defenders on the T-Wolves from the start. A player like Vassell would be far better off utilizing his primary skills early on in his career while working to grow his secondary ones with an organization that offers a healthy, winning basketball culture.
Late lottery to mid-first round
Vassell poses a similar skill set to those of the Phoenix Suns’ Mikal Bridges and Dallas Mavericks’ Courtney Lee. All three players are known for their hustle and intensity on the defensive end, translating into stat sheet-stuffing performances. Vassell won’t lead an NBA franchise in scoring anytime soon, but his prowess as a spot-up shooter from deep makes him a threat that opposing defenses must be aware of every trip down the floor.
Shooting: 9, Demonstrated an improved mid-range game in year two at Florida State to go along with his production from beyond the arc
Passing: 7, Not exactly the hallmark of his game, but he has the ability to make plays
Hustle: 9, No trouble running the floor; will get up in defenders on defense; not afraid to do the dirty work
Defense: 8, Strong range and athleticism; excellent communication skills; closes out with balance; can guard multiple positions; takes a lot of gambles on the defensive end
At 6’11” and 240 pounds, Zeke Nnaji probably isn’t what most would picture as a person of tremendous musical talent. Yet, he has been a polished piano player since his elementary school days, stroking the keys of one of the more challenging musical instruments in an eloquent fashion. More typical for someone of Nnaji’s height and stature is basketball talent, something that he put on full display during the COVID-19 shortened College Basketball season. A member of the one-and-done class that never got to experience the NCAA Tournament, Zeke Nnaji declared for the NBA Draft following his freshman season at Arizona. In his lone collegiate campaign, Nnaji earned First Team All-Pac-12 and Pac-12 Rookie of the Year honors. His reputation is one of an athletic and skilled big man, with an NBA floor of a solid role player. Prior to his time at Arizona, Nnaji played high school ball at Lakeville North High in Minnesota. There, he nearly averaged a double-double with 24.1 points and 9.4 rebounds per game. Despite the numbers, he fell somewhat under the radar as a 4-star recruit.
Nnaji emerged as the star player on a deep team at Arizona. Along with Nico Mannion and Josh Green, Nnaji is part of a trio of Wildcats’ players who could all conceivably be off the draft board by the end of the first round. But it was Nnaji who led the team in points per game (16.1), rebounds (8.6), and field goal percentage (57.0%) while averaging 30.7 minutes per game, third on the team behind only Mannion and Green. On the offensive end, Nnaji is noted for his ability to score the basketball in a number of ways. He has a developed post game and can also step out and hit mid-range shots. His 3-point shooting percentage in his lone season at Arizona was just 29.4%, a figure that will need to and likely improve at the NBA level. On defense, Nnaji’s rebounding speaks for itself. He plays with great energy and his long frame is capable of creating turmoil. He displayed promise when it comes to guarding opponents out in space, but his rim protection and general defensive skills could both stand to improve. While his ceiling as a player is yet to be reached, teams can find solace in knowing that Nnaji is one of the youngest players in the 2020 draft class, having just turned 19 in January. With proper coaching and tutelage, he has the potential to come into his own as a pro.
• Proficient finisher at the rim
• Equipped with strong post game and footwork
• Solid mid-range shooting with potential to expand further
• Hits the glass with skill and intensity
• Plays with tremendous energy and consistency
• Despite size and length, fails to intimidate as shot blocker at the rim
• Perimeter defense is weak
• 3-point shooting accuracy must improve
• Playmaking and passing skills aren’t great
• Will need to bulk up to be able to withstand the physicality of NBA post play
Best Landing Spot
Oklahoma City Thunder. Many felt as though the Thunder were in full tank mode after the trade of Russell Westbrook last offseason. Instead, tremendous guard play had OKC sitting as an above-.500 club and in the thick of the Western Conference Playoff picture before the suspension of the season. Nnaji landing with the Thunder would give him the opportunity to let his athleticism shine from the get-go. With the focus on the Thunder guards, the frontcourt players typically aren’t asked to do too much. Nnaji’s scoring and rebounding abilities would enable him to contribute positively right away on both ends while he works to polish up his defense and expand his shooting. Having veterans like Chris Paul and Steven Adams around doesn’t hurt either.
Worst Landing Spot
New York Knicks. Aside from the incompetence and dysfunction of the Knicks as an organization making them a tough landing spot for any rookie in general, the environment would not be a good one for Nnaji to positively grow as a basketball player. With Julius Randle, Bobby Portis and the impressive Mitchell Robinson all in the mix, Nnaji could receive limited playing time to start. When he would be on the floor, shaky guard play could lead to his having to do too much on the offensive end. Nnaji is best off on a team that allows him to expand his game from his current abilities as a strong off-ball player. New York is not the ideal place for him to develop.
Mid-late first round
While he will undoubtedly be a better shooter from the perimeter, Nnaji has a lot of similarities to P.J. Brown. Like Nnaji, Brown could’ve likely benefitted from filling out his 6’11” frame a bit more to be a more imposing force at the rim defensively. Nonetheless, he was a sturdy NBA starter and contributor, two things that Nnaji certainly has the potential of being. A younger and current comparison of intrigue is 2019 first round draftee Jaxson Hayes of the New Orleans Pelicans.
Shooting: 8, Range needs to expand, but his stroke and strong mid-range game should enable growth to come quick
Passing: 5, Not really part of his game at all at Arizona where he averaged less than 1 assist per game
Hustle: 9, Passion, intensity and energy are never lacking
Defense: 7, Great energy and athleticism to grab rebounds, but lacks rim protection and physicality sought after in NBA bigs
Aaron Nesmith is a pure 6’6” floor spacer who has the ability to play both the SG or SF positions. Although he lacks elite quickness and lateral ability, Nesmith more than makes up for it with elite shooting, efficiency, and movement without the ball on offense. He is an elite shooter, and arguably the best movement shooter in the draft. He possesses great fluidity while running off screens to find his shot. Nesmith should provide a scoring punch off the bench with his shooting ability and should remain in the rotation due to his competitiveness and solid instincts on the defensive end. Equipped with an elite shooting stroke, Nesmith should be able to contribute as floor spacer right away with high hopes of becoming a solid 3 and D wing in the future. With good size at 6’6” and tremendous length (6’10” wingspan), Nesmith possesses all the physical tools to be a solid contributor at both ends of the floor.
Scouts have also compared Nesmith to a young Klay Thompson, and rightfully so. Both share similar strengths and weaknesses where most of their damage is done on the perimeter. Nesmith isn’t quite the defensive stopper that Thompson is, but has shown willingness to compete at the defensive end and puts himself in position to do so. Although not a tremendous ball-handler, like Thompson, Nesmith has displayed the ability to attack the basket and is an excellent free-throw shooter.
• Great movement off the ball
• Great shooting ability and efficiency
• Good free-throw shooter
• Good overall defender (IQ/Awareness)
• Knows who he is as a player
• Needs to improve his handle
• Not a playmaker
• Athletic limitations
• *medical (stress fracture in right foot)
Best Landing Spot
Philadelphia 76ers. A team in need of shooting that can utilize Nesmith’s strengths right away off the bench. Brett Brown’s gravitation towards defense will help boost Nesmith’s already solid team defense capabilities. Could replicate the role of J.J. Redick and provide valuable shooting to stretch the floor for Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. Nesmith would truly flourish on a team like the 76ers with an inside-out style of play.
Worst Landing Spot
Dallas Mavericks. The Mavs have solid depth at both the shooting guard and small forward slots. With Seth Curry, Tim Hardaway Jr., and Courtney Lee already in the rotation, Nesmith’s playing time would be a question mark.
Mid to late first round, could enter the end of the lottery
Nesmith has similar measurables and skillsets to other wings such as Danny Green, Wesley Matthews, and Klay Thompson. Much like these players, Nesmith’s game doesn’t rely on athleticism. He relies heavily on his outside shot and competes on the defensive end. It’s unclear if he can get past his athletic limitations to be more of a force off the dribble and be able to guard quicker guards and forwards. His floor suggests he should be at least a solid role player and with his ceiling, he may even develop into a quality starter one day in the right system.
Shooting: 8, is a bit one-dimensional based of of his inability to attack off the dribble, an above-average three point shooter
Passing: 5, needs to work on decision-making and playmaking, despite simple reads he doesn’t turn the ball over much
Hustle: 8, high motor and effort on both ends of the floor, competes despite athletic limitations
Defense: 7, solid team defender with good IQ on the defensive end
Bruno Fernando was one of the most talked-about big men in college basketball in 2018, and naturally, I gravitated towards Maryland games to watch him play. However, every time I watched the Terrapins take the floor that season it was Jalen Smith, his front-court partner, who really caught my eye. Smith jumps off the screen with his high-flying dunks and highlight-reel finishes. He has the fluidity and movement that is typically reserved for sub-6’6” wings, not 6’10” big men. Smith also flashes with his awesome motor with his rim-running aggressiveness, especially in the open court.
After watching him play as a freshman, I was in support of his decision to stay at Maryland for another season, as there were a few parts of his game that needed polish. His 3-point shooting improved dramatically, from 26.8% in his freshman season to 36.8% in his sophomore season, including 40% after January 1st. He’s best as a catch-and-shoot guy but can also hit 3s off screens and movement unlike most guys his size. Smith was also able to work some on his fluidity on the drive, flashing real upside as a face-up forward. His offensive versatility is very exciting, as he has shown the ability to be a force as a high-level roll man and pick-and-pop shooter, especially in the mid-range game.
What Smith didn’t seem to improve in his sophomore season is concerning. He is still a pretty turnover-prone player, averaging twice as many turnovers as assists in his sophomore season. Sometimes he is very delayed in finding the open man, other times he forces passes that should never be attempted. He particularly struggles with trap defense in the post as he’s unable to find the open shooter to kick out to. I was also hopeful Smith would improve his left-handed dribbling and ball control, as his lack of ambidexterity is something that could hold him back from being a true offensive force, but his left-handed moves never really seemed to come together.
Defensively, Smith is tough to figure out. His basketball IQ is strong on that end of the floor, not biting on pump fakes and providing great timing and control as a weakside shot-blocker – he had 2.4 blocks per game in his sophomore season. However, his switchability isn’t quite there – guards would blow by him in the pick-and-roll at a disturbingly high rate. His change-of-direction ability is limited on defense due to a lack of agility and quickness, and he’s slow to close out to open shooters which will be a problem in the modern NBA. Smith is a highly-skilled shot blocker but he will need to be quicker to elevate at the rim in the NBA in order to maintain a high blocks rate.
Smith put on 25 pounds of muscle throughout his two years at Maryland, but his physicality and strength are still lacking. He can get overpowered by bigger centers at times in the post and he lacks the lower-body strength to consistently power through bigger defenders as a scorer. His wingspan is also slightly below-average, so he may not be able to consistently defend bigger centers in the NBA. Smith’s more of a tweener at the big man positions, not really big enough to start at center and not really quick enough to defend the smaller 4s in the NBA. He likely profiles as more of a high-energy off-the-bench role player who can provide shooting and inside scoring in bursts as well as solid rim protection.
• Runs the floor really well for a big man, several highlight-reel open-court finishes
• Powerful body covers ground well, terrific leaping ability
• Good at boxing out on the glass, good feel for rebounding
• High motor player, runs the floor, hit on several transition putbacks
• Fluid on the drive, upside to be a face-up player
• Strong rim protector – five games of 4+ blocks in 2019-20
• Terrific timing, explosion, motor all contribute to shot-blocking
• Doesn’t bite on pump fakes, good timing, defensive awareness
• Gets in between post player and the ball, interrupts timing
• High-upside shooter – shot 36.8% from 3-point range in 2019-20
• Stroke looks simple and clean, smooth mechanics on his jumper
• Good in pick-and-pop settings, best in mid-range but can hit deep 3s as well
• Dynamic screening threat, sets strong picks and can dive to the rim
• Can hit shots on the move unlike most players his size
• Solid hands and good length contribute to pick-and-roll potential
• Good IQ on the interior in protecting the rim, good lateral movement
• Ball security is a major issue – 53 turnovers as a sophomore
• Indecisive as a ball-handler, only drives to his right which makes him predictable
• Indecisive playmaker waits too long and misses opportunities for assists
• Offensive feel needs work, not always aware of collapsing defense
• Struggles against post trap defense, may not face many traps in the NBA, though
• Needs to work on creating position, post footwork
• Throws poorly timed passes from the perimeter
• Forces passes sometimes, other times he is late to realize the open look
• Has to improve decision-making as the roll man in pick-and-roll
• Needs to develop his left-hand skill if he wants to be a true face-up force
• Defenders can force him left to great success, needs to improve ambidexterity
• Struggles with positioning on both ends against bigger/stronger players
• Knocked off his spot too easily, loses control on his way to the rim
• Needs to improve defending in space, slow hips, lacks change-of-direction ability
• Motor getting out to the perimeter and closing out is poor
• Concerns over his ability to defend NBA big-men
• Slow to elevate the rim at times
Best Landing Spot
Utah Jazz. For years, Utah was a bit of a throwback in the modern NBA with their frontcourt combination of Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors. Neither player could shoot the three but both provided interior physicality, defense, and rebounding. Smith isn’t the same player as Favors, but he can provide them with another frontcourt dynamic alongside Gobert off the bench. If his shooting develops the way I think it can, he could even develop into a solid starter next to Gobert. Smith will benefit from playing alongside a true rim protector in the Stifle Tower who will allow him to be more of a roamer on defense. Smith would also benefit from playing with the type of playmaking and shooting the Jazz have on their roster.
Worst Landing Spot
Dallas Mavericks. Smith would be a solid dive man to play alongside Luka Doncic, but he’s a bit of a ball-stopper which would be a problem for the up-tempo, open-court style Rick Carlisle wants his guys to play. Smith has shooting upside but his inability to provide even secondary playmaking would make him an awkward fit on a roster that already has a high-level pick-and-roll/pop combination in Luka and Kristaps Porzingis. Smith would provide a solid dynamic off the bench but his talents just aren’t what the Mavs specifically need at this juncture.
Early 20s to late 1st, early 2nd-round pick
Jalen Smith’s offensive game reminds me of a young Serge Ibaka with his shooting upside and flashes of face-up scoring potential. Like Ibaka, Smith should earn playing time early on due to his high motor and shot-blocking. Smith’s offensive upside could be reminiscent of Kelly Olynyk as a face-up, sharpshooting big man. If Smith can polish his defensive awareness, closing speed, and strength, he could become a Pascal Siakam-lite Swiss army knife for his team, but he doesn’t quite have that level of athleticism. Thomas Bryant could be another solid pro comp as well with his combination of offensive versatility, rebounding, and rim protection.
Shooting: 7. Smith has a ton of upside in terms of shooting and has an uncanny ability to shoot on the move which is atypical of a player with his size. He can excel as a pick-and-pop player or shooting as the trailer in transition. His offensive game should translate to the NBA with his ability to be a catch-and-shoot guy.
Passing: 4. Smith averaged less than one assist per game across his entire time at Maryland and certainly doesn’t profile as a high-level playmaker in the NBA. He even struggled to make an impact as a secondary playmaker in pick-and-roll settings, never able to kick to an open shooter or pass to the short-roll man.
Dribbling: 6. Smith has some solid dribbling moves, but his lack of polish with his left hand and lack of control on his way to the rim will limit his upside as a ball-handler. He showed decent face-up upside this past season at Maryland, but I’m not sure if that will be a real part of his game in the NBA.
Rebounding: 9. Smith averaged 10.5 rebounds per game as a sophomore which is all-the-more impressive considering the high-level big-man talent in the NBA. He combines length, explosiveness, and timing to be a force on the offensive and defensive glass.
Defense: 7. Smith struggled at times against stronger big men and I’m not sure about his upside as an interior defender, although he can certainly protect the rim. Blocks numbers can be misleading at times, but in the case of Smith, it showcases his ability to provide weakside help. He needs to improve his team defense in terms of closing on shooters and being aware of the entire court.
Total rating: 46/70
Theo Maledon is a young point guard out of France and will be just 19 years old by the time the NBA draft rolls around. He has played three seasons in the French Leagues and has not averaged more than 20 minutes per game in a season. He has averaged six points, two assists, and 1.5 rebounds over 15 minutes per game across three seasons. However, he has had some games in larger roles where he flashed a lot of promise. Maledon won the best young player in the LNB Pro A, and was the youngest LNB All-Star as well. He has played on the international team, winning a gold medal at the 2016 FIBA U16 European Championship, and finished second a year later. Maledon is listed at 6’5, but his height ranges from 6’3 depending on where you look. He is a bit on the lighter side, weighing in at about 175.
Maledon projects as a top 20 pick, likely falling in the 15-20 range. The upside is there, but he is going to need some time to develop at the NBA level. Given he is going to be just 19 entering the draft, he will have some time to do so. The landing spot is going to be crucial, as not all teams are equal in developing young talent. Maledon has decent size and can play at both guard positions within the NBA. His athleticism is on another level, and he is extremely quick. Being able to transition into today’s fast-paced NBA will not be a problem for him. Maledon works hard on the defensive side, but his frame could allow him to get pushed around by stronger guards. The shot needs a bit more consistency, but we also haven’t seen a large sample size. Maledon has a ton of potential and while he will likely not make a year one impact, the real potential can shine through in year two or three.
• On-ball defense
• Athleticism and quickness
• Can push floor in transition
• Getting to the basket
• Wide range of finishing moves at the rim
• Lacks strength
• Shooting production is a mystery
• Lacks physicality
Best Landing Spot
The Minnesota Timberwolves are a team that is in need of some help at the guard position, despite trading for D’Angelo Russell and Malik Beasley lately. There isn’t a ton of depth at the guard positions, and Maledon can sit back a bit in year one behind some good talent and still get some minutes worked in. The Timberwolves will have a lot of mix and match guards that they can play on and off the ball. Maledon will fit right in being able to do both.
Worst Landing Spot
The Boston Celtics have constantly drafted guards the last few years despite not having a clear need for them. Because Maledon is a work in progress, he would excel in working with Walker/Smart, but the blueprint to regular playing time is not going to be in Boston. Maledon needs to land in a spot where minutes and development can go hand-in-hand, like Minnesota above. We have rarely seen the Celtics guard draft picks turn into something promising, and while talent is part of the equation, the team’s direction is the other.
First Round Picks 15-25
In terms of size and height, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is a name that resembles Maledon. However they both are similar style guards that can play on and off the ball, and will likely be a combo guard. We have really seen Gilgeous-Alexander blossom over the last two seasons, but he also had the advantage of playing with the Clippers and Chris Paul, following the Thunder to land more minutes. He also played college here, where Maledon didn’t have that. Maledon doesn’t have superstar like athleticism, but like SGA, he has solid IQ and great length relying on his changing of speeds and direction.
Shooting: 7, Great mechanics, especially on his open floor jumper.
Passing: 7, He is a strong passer, although in pressure he can throw the ball away.
Hustle: 8, Maledon gives great effort on both sides of the ball. Not complete transition player as he will switch up pace.
Defense: 7, On-ball defense is fairly solid, but off the ball defense his awareness can slip.
Aleksej Pokusevski is the youngest player in this year’s draft. At just 18 years old, if he was born a mere six days later, he would only begin to be eligible to be drafted in 2021. He is originally from Serbia and has been playing for Olympiacos in Greece. Normally a challenging league that scouts would be excited for, Olympiacos was relegated to the B league for the 2019-20 season. Meaning that Pokusevski was playing against unimpressive competition. Nevertheless, he has declared for the draft and is currently slated to go in the last third of the first round.
Aleksej Pokusevski has all the makings of an impactful player in basketball. He’s over seven feet in both height and wingspan. He’s quick off the dribble and loves to operate on the perimeter. At first glance, he gives you PTSD of the Dragan Benders, Mario Hezonjas, and Thon Makers of drafts pasts. Tall, young, international prospects with ‘unlimited potential’ and promises of the next Dirk. But Pokusevski doesn’t play like Dirk or any of those guys in fact. Let’s take a closer look.
• handles the ball very well for his size
• Very good at timing blocks and rotations on defense
• His steals numbers aren’t half bad either
• Can take the rebound on one end, dribble the length of the floor, and finish on the other end
• His passing is also muy bueno
• He’s really going to have to work on his shot to be a dangerous player in this league, form looks okay
• Needs to fill in his frame
• We don’t really know how good he is because his best highlights are either against Greek B leaguers or other 18 year olds.
Best Landing Spot
I would of course love Miami, who is slated to take him at #24 in our mock draft. Something about Miami that gets the absolute best out of its players, whether they were drafted first round, second round, or undrafted. I’m sure Spo would figure out how to use him. Another location could be Milwaukee, who could reach for him with Indiana’s pick at 19. They did an admirable job with their Dragan Bender reclamation project this past season and could apply it to Pokusevski.
Worst Landing Spot
The Knicks have the 28th spot in this draft due to a trade with the Clippers. I would hate for them to take AP here. The Knicks player development program has been shall we say… non-existent for much of the 2000s. That combined with pressure from the NYC media for him to be the next Porzingis and this shapes up to be quite possibly the worst-case scenario. Also, free my man Ntilikina please, he deserves a new team 🙂
I could see someone in the late teens reaching on him and I could also see him sliding into the early second round.
Not a lot of “oh he’s obviously got that player’s blueprint” comparisons for Pokusevski. His rebounding and awareness remind me of Jakob Poetl. His defense and quickness remind me of Myles Turner. He’s not quite a Giannis or Russell Westbrook (like most human people) on the fast break but I think 2018-19 Blake Griffin minus the shooting (and add a little more athleticism) is a pretty apt comparison. He can rebound, take the ball down the floor, and find a man in the corner for a three. His apex could be a dominant big man whom the offense runs through.
Shooting: 6. It is just okay right now. Needs to expand his range or find other ways to score.
Passing: 8. He uses his length and height to make quick and accurate passes. Can make pinpoint cross-court passes look easy.
Dribbling: 6. Great dribbler in the fast break. Operates a lot on the perimeter so he’s used to it. Playing against NBA defenders may have a different result.
Rebounds6. Grabbing 7 rebounds a game in 21 minutes a game isn’t half bad. But that isn’t going to translate to the NBA. He’s going to be fighting for rebounds against taller and stronger dudes. Needs to bulk up if he’s going to get boards in this league.
Defense: 9. Great reads on defense. Averaging over 2 steals and 2 blocks a game per 36 minutes, which is insane. If he does even half that in the NBA he’s going to be a nightmare defensively.
Total rating: 49/70
As a 6’11” forward with 8’11” standing reach, McDaniels looks like he would be the perfect hybrid player for the modern NBA. There are definitely parts of his game that will make him a high-impact player as a pro, most notably his impressive pull-up shot-making. He consistently showed an ability to hit pull-up mid-range and 3-point looks off the dribble and off the catch. His shooting motion is really smooth and he has a quick release to boot. He also uses his impressive length to hit shots over the top of defenders and can release his shots from a variety of angles. He’s also got good ball-handling skills which allow him to create space for his pull-up attempts. McDaniels moves like a wing and is a very fluid player, utilizing his high-end athletic profile on both ends of the floor.
However, McDaniels is so far from a cerebral player that I have concerns about his ability to function as an offensive creator in the NBA at all. He barrels into defenders in the lane, completely missing open guys on the perimeter for kick-outs, and lacks any sort of ability to finish through contact at the rim. He doesn’t have the strength to take advantage of smaller defenders in the post and with his thin frame, it’s unclear if he’ll ever be able to get to even adequate strength. McDaniels is generally an awful decision-maker, averaging over 3 turnovers per game at Washington and consistently making the wrong choices on offense. He’s going to drive his NBA coaches crazy with his inability to make life easy on the rest of the team.
Essentially, McDaniels is a spot-up shooter and has intriguing pull-up potential, but his complete inability to pass or finish at the rim is going to make him a very predictable and easy player to guard. He has a lot of work to do before he’s even average in either of those areas. He also lacks the ability to work himself open off-ball, which limits his potential as a catch-and-shoot guy. McDaniels is a one-dimensional offensive player at this point in time, which is disappointing for a guy with his athletic gifts.
Defensively, the prognosis is somewhat better for McDaniels. His combination of quickness and length will make him a versatile and rangy defender, and he has some ability to fill the “free safety” role on defense with how he gets into passing lanes and creates steals. He showed a high-end ability to operate as a weakside shot-blocker and he rarely allowed even the quicker guards to blow past him. However, his lack of strength will limit his ability to defend some more physical players at the rim. His lack of awareness extends to defense at times where he would lose his guy in man coverage, but at this point in time, his defensive versatility is what is keeping his draft stock afloat.
• Good size and length; mobility, agility, fluidity, athleticism, body control
• Smooth shooting motion, quick release, great range, smooth mechanics
• Good at creating space for his pull-up shots
• Good rebounder on both ends
• Versatile defender – size, mobility, coordination allow him to guard any position; effective weakside shot-blocker and can switch onto speedy guards
• Good at reading the floor on defense and breaking into passing lanes
• Excellent ball-handler for his size, good at working into pull-up jumpers with side-to-side movements
• Still improving 3-point shooter
• Half-court offense needs work, especially off-ball play (motion)
• Struggles to finish through contact at the rim
• Settles for contested pull-ups too often, even in transition
• Can improve with scoring off-the-dribble
• Needs to be more assertive, learn to draw and finish through contact
• Raw post-game, needs work, struggles to get to the rim
• Telegraphs passes at times, overly turnover-prone
• Skinny – needs to put on muscle, thin frame so may not be possible
• Isn’t tough enough to exploit smaller defenders with drives/post-ups
• Makes bad decisions – hurls his body into a crowd instead of kicking out
• Inefficient offensively – negative OBPM, 52.2% true shooting
Best Landing Spot
Oklahoma City Thunder. McDaniels is going to struggle if his NBA team overburdens him offensively, but the Thunder would be a nice spot for him to land thanks to their combination of ball-handling guards and scorers. McDaniels would be freed up to focus on his pull-up game without being overtaxed as a playmaker or dribble-drive guy. The Thunder emphasize defensive versatility with their 3-guard lineup and McDaniels would be able to pick up minutes at the 3 or 4 spots. The Thunder are operating under a long-term mindset now and could nurture McDaniels over the next several seasons to hopefully unlock his athletic upside.
Worst Landing Spot
Philadelphia 76ers. McDaniels would be overburdened as an offensive creator off the bench for a Philly squad that currently lacks shot-creation in their second unit. Brett Brown hasn’t quite shown the ability to maximize young talent and I don’t see McDaniels making the types of improvements to his game in that organization. The Sixers are in a clear win-now mindset and would likely be impatient with McDaniels’s development.
Late first-round pick
McDaniels has the defensive upside of a guy like Jonathan Isaac with his versatility and combination of size/length/athleticism. Isaac has carved out a role in the NBA as a high-level defender particularly with his weakside shot-blocking and ability to switch onto smaller players. Offensively, McDaniels lacks the three-level scoring upside of a Michael Porter Jr. and may only have the upside to be an Andrew Wiggins or Harrison Barnes-type scorer. His perimeter-oriented game reminds me a bit of Brandon Ingram, and the two players have similar length but issues with thin frames.
Shooting: 9. If there’s one thing that translates immediately to the NBA about McDaniels it’s his pull-up shooting, as he’s able to score from a wide range of locations and shoot at a variety of angles depending on defensive coverage. This may not matter much, though, if he’s unable to expand his versatility as he might just be too predictable of a cover.
Passing: 5. McDaniels made some awful decisions with the ball, missing open kick out guys on the perimeter oftentimes. He certainly has upside as a playmaker with his ball-handling and athletic profile, but his head-scratching decision-making gets in the way of this.
Hustle: 6. McDaniels had a tendency to get lost in the shuffle at times and there’s nothing about his hustle game that stands out, which is unfortunate for a player with his combination of size and athletic tools.
Rebounding: 7. McDaniels only averaged 5.8 rebounds per game at Washington, although he has upside as a rebounding wing with his size and quickness. His feel for the game has to improve if he is to be a high-level rebounder and he needs to put on a bit more muscle.
Defense: 8. McDaniels has a lot of defensive upsides, particularly as a switchable on-ball defender. His team defense wasn’t totally able to shine in Washington’s zone defense, but he can operate as a disruptive roamer on defense and can guard a variety of different players.
Total rating: 47/70
Diakite is not your typical NBA prospect. He’s coming off his senior season at Virginia, so he’s one of the oldest players in this draft class. He’s also a native of Guinea and has only been playing basketball for five years, so while he’s older at 23 years old he’s also pretty raw and undeveloped. At 6’9”, he stands a bit smaller than most centers, but his 7’3.5” wingspan and explosive motor make up for his lack of traditional size. Diakite is a solid shot-blocker, utilizing awesome timing on his vertical leaps and getting great lift off the floor. Overall, he’s an excellent post defender, using his length and lower body leverage to maintain positioning down low. He’s not a Bam Adebayo-type roaming defender, but his mobility is decent for a big man and he can close out on shooters semi-reliably. Diakite’s going to make an immediate impact as a versatile defensive anchor, able to pick up minutes at the 4 or the 5.
Offensively, Diakite has the rim-running and finishing you would expect of a player with his athletic tools. However, he also has a surprisingly strong ability to hit shots from range – his shot form isn’t aesthetically pleasing, but it’s effective; he shot 36% from 3-point territory this past season. He’s not going to be an off-the-dribble shooter, but he can be a pretty reliable catch-and-shoot and possibly pick-and-pop guy. His ball-handling is not strong as his awareness and court vision are somewhat lacking and he’s a ball stopper at this point in his development. However, he can operate as a strong pick-and-roll partner as an explosive lob threat. Diakite’s offensive game is very simple, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing as he knows what his role is and doesn’t try to do too much.
Diakite will earn playing time right away due to his ability to serve as a glue guy and defensive anchor. He has great defensive IQ, communicating with his teammates and covering up their mistakes, particularly in the pick-and-roll game. Diakite is likely too clunky to be a 4 in the modern NBA, and he can’t guard bigger interior scorers at the center position due to his small frame, but he can play spot minutes at both frontcourt spots. He could stand to improve his lower-body strength a bit and rebounding is pretty average for a big man, but his interior presence and developing range on both ends of the floor will make him a useful role player at the pro level.
• Strong frame, huge wingspan, big hands
• Great defender – long arms, quick feet, contains defenders, protects rim
• Excellent shot blocker, great timing and explosive jumping reach
• Can space the floor, shot 36% on 3s this season, not aesthetically pleasing shot but it works, poor free throw shooter % wise but mechanics not bad
• High motor player, always brings energy, always in the right spot, brings up the energy of his teammates
• Athletic player, glue guy on the court, can guard in space
• Strong finisher at the rim, runs the floor well
• Can put the ball on the floor occasionally, has some spin moves
• Intelligent and articulate off the court
• Redshirt senior (older player) from Guinea; only played basketball for 5 years
• Smaller player – 6’9”, 225 lbs, somewhat stuck between the 4 and 5
• Below-average rebounder (Virginia’s top rebounder was 6’7” wing, Braxton Key)
• Lacks playmaking, one-dimensional offensive player
• Tries to make something happen every time he touches the ball
• Needs to improve shot mechanics, lacks balance and rushes shot at times
• Awareness and feel still work in progress, starter playing game late so it doesn’t come naturally to him, especially in decision-making
• Foul prone at times
Best Landing Spot
Boston Celtics. The Cs have clearly opted to not invest big money in the center position as they have instead prioritized their guards and wings. Enes Kanter has provided them with interior scoring and some shooting while Robert Williams has provided rim protection and defense, but neither one can provide the shooting/defense combination that Diakite can. The Celtics are pulling together a win-now roster despite their collective youth with one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference, and Diakite would provide them with another useful dynamic in their frontcourt with rim protection, interior scoring, and shooting upside.
Worst Landing Spot
Denver Nuggets. Diakite would be a fine role-playing big man off the bench in Denver, but there’s no way he could play next to Nikola Jokic for long stretches. He is also a bit of a ball-stopper which may be a problem for Mike Malone’s offense which wants to constantly be moving the ball.
Fringe first-round pick, likely second-rounder
Diakite has the upside to be a Kevon Looney-type big man, providing a glue presence for his team with defensive versatility and decent interior scoring/mid-range shooting. At his best his game would look a bit like Myles Turner’s with his combination of shooting upside and rim protection, but I doubt he gets to that level. More realistically, he’ll be a rotation-level big able to contribute on both ends like Dewayne Dedmon.
Shooting: 7. Diakite has exciting shooting upside, shooting 36% from 3 as a senior. He needs some fine-tuning on his mechanics as he occasionally rushes his shots and sometimes lacks balance, but he definitely has floor-spacing upside in the NBA.
Passing: 3. Diakite’s playmaking is pretty much nonexistent, averaging 0.3 assists per game across his four years at Virginia. This makes him a pretty one-dimensional offensive player and easier for defenders to check.
Dribbling: 5. Diakite showed the ability to get to the rim and utilized spin moves at times to create space, but he’s not a natural ball-handler and likely profiles as a better off-ball offensive player.
Rebounding: 7. Diakite lacks the size and strength to be a truly elite rebounder, but his high motor and big wingspan make him a solid threat on the boards – he averaged 6.8 rebounds per game (32.8 minutes per game) in his senior season at Virginia.
Defense: 7. Diakite can be a solid defender, stepping out to the perimeter at times and providing high-level rim protection. He can guard smaller players in space in small doses and should be a high-impact team defender. He is somewhat limited in post defense due to his lack of strength, but he is fundamentally strong.
Total rating: 43/70
Green was born in Sydney, Australia, and is looking to follow in the footsteps of high-level Australian guards before him like Ben Simmons, Kyrie Irving, Patty Mills, and Joe Ingles. The first thing about Green that stands out is his rare size and power for the 2-guard position. At 6’6”, 210 pounds he towers over smaller combo guards and his 6’10” wingspan make him an elite on-ball defender and physical scorer. Green is extremely versatile offensively – he can operate as the facilitator, playmaking slasher, or knockdown shooter depending on what his team needs from him. He often played off-ball alongside Nico Mannion, a role in which he was able to utilize his high-level catch-and-shoot 3-point shooting. He drained several 3s from the corners and wings and he profiles as a great off-ball shooting threat in the NBA, especially with his off-ball movement and ability to relocate on the perimeter. His jump shot was inconsistent at times and he needs to improve his on-the-move 3-point shooting, but he shot 40.6% on catch-and-shoot 3s – that should translate to the NBA.
My favorite part of Green’s game is his transition scoring – he has lethal speed in the open floor and can go coast-to-coast incredibly quickly. He’s always looking to force steals on defense and interrupts passing lanes with steals to generate fast-break scoring opportunities. He’s a great help defender when he wants to be, closing out on open shooters quickly, but he sometimes would lose sight of his man or take unnecessary risks to the detriment of his team. Those are easily fixable issues, though, and his elite physical profile shined through in his lockdown on-ball defense. He has the upside to be one of the better on-ball isolation defenders in the NBA. With his uncommon size at the shooting guard position, Green will likely be able to switch onto all sorts of players, ranging from point guards to smaller power forwards. His long wingspan allows him to stay in front of faster point guards and his size/strength allows him to bang with bigger bodies in the post. He could stand to improve his defensive awareness and ability to fight through screens, but he certainly has the upside to be a highly talented, versatile defender in the NBA.
Green’s elite size also allows him to rebound at a high level, another area where his coast-to-coast scoring can really shine. He has also improved at making outlet passes in transition to provide scoring opportunities for his teammates. Green’s first-step off the dribble in the half-court setting can be a step slow at times, which limits his isolation scoring upside. He also struggled to finish at the rim consistently, avoiding contact on his way to a 37.5% rate close to the basket in half-court settings. It does seem to be more of an issue of mechanics than athleticism/strength, though, and I envision his interior scoring to at least be average in the NBA. Green is likely going to fall a bit in the draft due to his underwhelming college production and a torn labrum in his left shoulder in 2019, but I love his long-term potential if he can work with the right developmental coaching staff.
• 6’6”, 210 lbs; 6’10” wingspan; solid build, lots of natural strength
• Can take over point guard role at times – good ball-handling, vision
• Above-average facilitator for off-ball guard
• Three-point shooting is big strength, knows where to set up for catch-and-shoot
• Great rebounder and outlet passer
• Versatile defensively – can guard 1-4 thanks to size, strength, foot speed
• Long wingspan allows him to cut off driving angles, force tough dribble jumpers
• Reliable help defender, lots of steals on help defense, great closeouts
• Perfect form with on-ball defense gets blocks, high-level iso defender
• Uses length to bust through passes, get steals, high deflection rate (quick hands)
• Fast in the open floor, uses athleticism to go coast-to-coast, loves to run
• Excellent mid-range shooter, developing 3-point shooter
• Not a movement shooter but good standstill shot, good follow-through on C&S
• Does a good job with off-ball movement, relocating on the perimeter to get open
• Inconsistent jump shooter (32% from 3), has too much windup in his shot
• Struggles to shoot on the move
• Inconsistent lower-body mechanics, tends to fade/drift when going left
• Room to improve as ball-handler, needs to get better at creating space
• Slow first step on the dribble, limits isolation scoring potential
• Finishes at a low rate, 37.5% finishing at basket in half-court very low
• Doesn’t attack to the left often/well enough, needs to work on this
• Needs to work on the dribble-drive game, ball-handling creativity
• Needs to get better at embracing contact, finishing through it and drawing fouls
• Struggles to fight through screens on defense, awareness can improve
• An impulsive defender who gets into foul trouble
• Tries to make plays on the ball and loses his man, gambles too much
Best Landing Spot
New Orleans Pelicans. Alvin Gentry has a history of developing young, talented NBA players, and I like Josh Green’s fit in the Pelicans’ offense overall. Defensive focus is primarily on Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson as the main scorers, which would allow Green to operate as more of a catch-and-shoot guy while he polishes the other parts of his game. The Pelicans have plenty of spacing around him to maximize his driving abilities, as well. New Orleans played with the 2nd-highest pace rate this season, which would be fun for Green as he could be the full-fledged transition force he showed flashes of at Arizona. The presence of Lonzo Ball on the roster would be beneficial, as well, as he would help Green get high-percentage looks in the half-court offense.
Worst Landing Spot
Utah Jazz. The Jazz are a bit of a throwback team in the sense that they are much more dependent on half-court offense (7th-lowest pace rating) and already have several on-ball players (Mike Conley, Donovan Mitchell, Joe Ingles, Bojan Bogdanovic). Green could excel for Quinn Snyder in a 6th-man role, but in an offense that will marginalize his immediate on-ball impact, I don’t see this being the best place for him to develop his talents.
Late lottery to mid-20s
Josh Green’s offensive game reminds me of Kelly Oubre, a combo guard/forward who is great in the open floor (74th percentile for transition scoring) and has developed into a solid 3-point shooter as of late. He also reminds me of Josh Richardson with his ability to impact the game in a variety of ways, operating on or off-ball offensively and guarding a variety of players. Green’s future role on a winning team could be that of Danny Green, as an elite on-ball defender and knockdown outside shooter, although Josh Green possesses open-floor scoring and athleticism that’s more reminiscent of Derrick Jones Jr.
Shooting: 8. Green’s 36.1% from 3 last season isn’t anything outstanding, but I like his long-term shooting capabilities. He’ll be a catch-and-shoot threat right away, and while he needs to polish his lower-body mechanics to be a consistent threat on movement shots, there’s no reason he won’t be a high-level shooter in an offense with good spacing.
Passing: 7. Green operated as a playmaker occasionally for Arizona – he averaged 2.6 assists per game this past year, but with Nico Mannion as the primary ball-handler, this doesn’t tell the full story. Green is an above-average facilitator as an off-ball guard with strong court vision and likely will further develop in this regard.
Dribbling: 6. Green struggled to dribble to his left, and his ability to attack the rim needs some work, but in transition, his ball-handling stands out. He’s not polished in this regard at this point, and his slow first step off the dribble doesn’t help, but he has room to grow here.
Rebounding: 7. Green averaged 4.6 rebounds per game at Arizona, but his above-average size, wingspan, and athleticism should make him a force on the glass in the NBA, especially when matched up with smaller guards.
Defense: 9. Green has a ton of defensive upside and should feature a good amount of positional versatility in the NBA. He was an impulsive defender at times at Arizona, but he had a high steal and block rate and has elite on-ball defensive potential.
Total rating: 53/70
Amar Sylla was born in Dakar, Senegal, and has played professionally in the Belgian League, as well as the BCL. A highlight of his career so far has been playing with the 2018 FUBA Under-18 team, where he averaged 13 points, nine rebounds, and 2.3 assists. In terms of a ceiling, Sylla has one of the higher ones in the draft, although patience is going to be the key as he is an extremely raw talent. He is athletic, and his speed is unreal. A power forward that can run like Sylla is going to be attractive for NBA teams that are looking to be athletic and still keep things rather small. Sylla doesn’t have the size of a center but can play the center role in a small-ball unit. Fitting into today’s NBA is perfect for Sylla because he has a long wingspan for his size, and can move on the floor. The landing spot is going to be crucial because we have seen his prototype get pushed aside.
Sylla also has a vertical of some of the other bigger players in the draft, and his length just adds to why NBA teams will be looking at him. Defensively he needs work and his IQ is going to need developing, but the upside is there for a team to work with him and be patient. One of the underrated aspects of Sylla’s game is his passing ability. He is constantly looking to make the right pass and he has a soccer background that feeds into the way he plays the game. While this isn’t going to be the featured part of his game, but it is nice to see him have this potential, especially on a small ball team that will want to move the ball around. Shooting is going to be his biggest area that needs work. He has not shown consistent shooting at any level, from inside and out. Sylla is headed for a potential second-round pick, but also could land back in the 2021 draft class and be a higher pick.
• Athleticism and quickness
• Shooting Production
• Shooting Mechanics
• Free Throws
Best Landing Spot
While we could point to Toronto and see him go the way of a few international players already, I would like to see him in Oklahoma City. The Thunder have been great at developing young talent, especially guys that are just true athletes and need more polished NBA work. Oklahoma City is also not going to be a team that cuts him loose after a year or two. They haven’t been afraid to take on raw talent projects, and this would be a great landing spot for him.
Worst Landing Spot
There are a few spots that we wouldn’t want to see Sylla land, but the one thing in common is teams that fail to produce raw prospects. Teams that are looking for a player to develop within a year will not be happy with Sylla, as he is likely going to need two-three seasons. Landing on a team like the Knicks, Magic, Suns, we have seen them struggle to develop raw talent. We have also seen them fail to develop players in general. Sylla needs to get to one of the teams above to really elevate his chances of having a strong NBA career.
Amar Sylla is still extremely raw, but shooting for a Pascal Siakam role is what his NBA potential would look like. He is a long power forward who has a ton of upside on both sides of the ball. What separates him a bit from Siakam is that he has great ball-handling and playmaking skills that could really separate him from the field once he develops. Sylla needs work on his scoring, but he is someone who can slash and get to the rim and create opportunities for others with his passing.
Shooting: 4, Slow release, is going to need to speed things up and work on this aspect of his game.
Passing: 8, Extremely efficient passers and will make the correct play. His vision is above average.
Hustle: 8, You see Sylla’s effort in the rebounding game where he possesses everything you would want.
Defense: 7, The tools are there, but his IQ is going to need some work on the defensive side. That should come quickly with the right team.
Originally from Siena, Italy, Niccolo Mannion was a 5-star recruit coming out of high school for Arizona. He’s arguably the best passer in this draft class and showcased the type of offensive creativity and precision that will make him a dynamic threat on that end of the floor. Mannion has perfect ambidexterity as he’s able to drive, pass, and finish with either hand. His cross-court passing is crisp and he always seems to know when he has open shooters to kick to. This will only be more accentuated in an offense with a high level of spacing which he will likely have in the NBA. Mannion had some issues with decision-making at times as he would look to pass instead of finish on the drive when he had no open teammates, but he can likely fix this.
Mannion’s picturesque passing is accompanied by often-elite shooting from deep range. His jumper is incredibly fluid and he took several pull-up threes off the dribble this season going both directions. He is always a threat to pull from deep, which makes him an incredibly difficult guard in the pick and roll – go under the screen and he’ll pull up, go over and he’ll drive to find an open teammate. He also profiles as a high-level off-ball shooter, doing a good job of relocating his feet on the perimeter and getting his feet set quickly. Mannion made 79.7% of his free throws at Arizona (4.2 attempts per game) which is a good indicator of his long-term shooting upside.
At times, Mannion found himself in tough situations when driving to the rim. He doesn’t quite have the level of strength/physicality to finish against bigger players at the rim and if there aren’t open shooters to kick to, he can get caught in bad positions. This should be helped by playing alongside shooters who can consistently work themselves open, something that was lacking in Arizona. Mannion makes up for a lack of elite speed with his ability to use change-of-pace dribbling and no-look passes to fool defenders. His cerebral ability is really impressive.
Mannion’s offensive ability in transition is particularly enticing – he had 42 transition assists and always keeps his head up on the fast break. He has the ability to beat defenders with crafty passes in the open floor or pull up for 3-pointers against defenders trailing to the basket. Mannion will be criticized for a lack of elite speed, but he’s sneaky quick and his athleticism really shows in his transition offense.
Mannion’s primary weaknesses are all on the defensive end. He lacks elite physicality and is not a particularly tough on-ball defender. He has an average frame (6’3” height, 6’2.5” wingspan) and really struggled when switched onto bigger players. NBA offenses will target him incessantly in the pick-and-roll as he can’t be trusted to switch and guard any non-point guards. If he puts on muscle, this could change to an extent, however, and this can be a criticism of several NBA point guards. Mannion was occasionally slow to close out and lazy with his defensive stance, but given his clear basketball IQ he should be able to work on both of these things. If Mannion polishes his defensive fundamentals, he can likely be an average player on that end of the floor; given his high-level offensive traits, he should be a net plus as long as he isn’t a complete defensive liability.
• Ambidextrous ball-handler, creative offensive initiator for himself/teammates
• Dynamic playmaker, accurate passer and perfect reads; great court vision
• Good mid-range scorer and 3-point range, beautiful fluidity in shot
• Always ready to pull on the pick-and-roll, forces teams to step out
• Can shoot off the dribble or off the catch
• Plays under control, good balance of playing aggressive without forcing
• Leader on the floor plays with competitiveness and passion
• Can score off the bounce with crafty floaters, going either direction
• Loves playing downhill, always head up, slices transition D with crosscourt vision
• Can also hit the pull-up 3 in transition
• Lacks great size and length – 6’2.5” wingspan, 8’1.5” standing reach
• Smooth athlete but not very explosive, lacks elite quickness
• Has room to get stronger, not quickest defender
• Plays small as a defender, can only guard 1 position, basically can’t switch at all
• Struggles to stay on balance on closeouts, lazy stance sometimes
• Poor footwork defending guards on the drive, not physical on-ball
• Bites on pump fakes on the perimeter
• High turnovers in losses, tends to pick up charges on floaters and layups
• Needs to be more aggressive on his drives, look to finish instead of forcing pass
• Wore down as the season went on
Best Landing Spot
New York Knicks. Most players won’t be a great fit for the current makeup of the Knicks roster, but Mannion has the ability to help the team put together a semblance of a serviceable offense. R.J. Barrett, Kevin Knox, and Mitchell Robinson need a true playmaker alongside them, and Mannion could help the young Knicks get better shots. Mannion would also provide some much-needed shooting to the roster. He wouldn’t solve the team’s defensive issues, but his offense would be especially impactful for a team that struggles to have any sort of identity game-to-game.
Worst Landing Spot
Houston Rockets. The Rockets have a clear identity at this point with James Harden and Russell Westbrook dominating touches and the rest of the roster providing spacing for them to operate. Mannion could provide a solid catch-and-shoot threat, but he has much greater upside than just an ancillary shooter and this team wouldn’t provide him with the opportunity to hone his ball-handling and scoring skills.
Late first round
The first player I thought of when I watched Nico Mannion was T.J. McConnell, the Pacers guard who has averaged 7.9 assists per-36 minutes for his career. McConnell is an adept finesse player and has excellent court vision to find his open teammates. However, McConnell has never developed into a high-level shooter, which has limited his playing time to a high-impact playmaking reserve. Mannion reminds me of Landry Shamet at times with his ability to hit catch-and-shoot jumpers from a variety of angles and also shoot off-the-dribble, but Shamet is averaging 41% for his career from 3 and I don’t see Mannion getting quite to that level. If Mannion can provide a mix of McConnell’s playmaking and Shamet’s shooting, he’ll be a very productive offensive player.
Shooting: 7. 32.7% from 3 isn’t going to wow anyone, but FT% is a better indicator of future shooting success and he made 79.7% of his charity-stripe attempts. Mannion also took pretty difficult long-range attempts at Arizona, with a steady diet of off-the-dribble pullups and step-backs. His stroke is fluid.
Passing: 9. Mannion is arguably the best playmaker in this draft class. He averaged 5.3 assists at Arizona despite ceding a high usage rate to backcourt mate Josh Green. Mannion reads the floor very well and is adept at kicking to open shooters or finding his big men in the post, especially in transition.
Dribbling: 8. Mannion can dribble with either hand and has some advanced skill to his ball-handling abilities. He’s especially adept at driving in transition, where he takes advantage of the extra space with the finesse in his game.
Rebounding: 5. With Mannion’s lack of size and strength, he’s not really going to be a force on the boards in the NBA. As a point guard, that’s less important, but he would benefit from improving his defensive rebounding since he’s such a force in the open court.
Defense: 6. Mannion is a decent on-ball defender, but he lacks the size and speed to consistently defend elite scorers one-on-one. He also struggles to make switches and likely won’t have multi-positional versatility on defense. If he can put on muscle, he should be a decent enough defender to keep on the floor.
Total rating: 49/70
Stanley didn’t have quite the impact at Duke in his freshman season that he would have hoped for, as he was just the 3rd-leading scorer on the team behind Vernon Carey Jr. and Tre Jones. There was some thought that he may return for his sophomore season to play as Coach K’s likely top scorer, but Stanley is old for his draft class (he turned 20 in August) and the NBA seems to value upside over polish at this juncture. Instead, he enters this draft class which is seemingly devoid of any locked-in superstar talent as perhaps the best athlete of this group of prospects. Stanley is an absurd dunker and frankly may become the best dunker in the NBA – he beat Zion Williamson’s Duke record for vertical leap and Zion is an athletic freak. His highlights are some of the most fun to watch out of anybody in this draft class (seriously, go check them out). Stanley will be a lock for the dunk contest in his rookie season.
Unfortunately for Stanley, the NBA is a league now built on individuals either being superstars or having at least one elite talent. There’s no particular trait to Stanley’s game that stands out other than his athleticism, but his overall combination of speed and power may be enough to land him a role on an NBA roster. To his credit, he did shoot 36% from 3-point range this season, but his 73.3% at the free-throw line isn’t particularly compelling for his long-term shooting outlook. Stanley also tends to be reckless driving into the lane – he averaged twice as many turnovers (1.9) as assists (1.0) per game last season. His handles are improving to be sure, but they aren’t to the point where his dribble-drive game is dynamic enough to be consistent in the NBA.
Defensively, Stanley is becoming more disciplined and his verticality/athleticism does give him some upside. However, his wingspan is below-average for his height (previously measured at 6’6”) and it’s unclear if he’ll have the ability to guard forwards in the NBA. He plays with a lot of fire on the defensive end, but frankly, competitive drive is one of the key selling points for an NBA prospect I’m already halfway out the door. Stanley has elite upside and he’ll have some highlight-reel plays in the NBA, but I don’t see him being anything more than an end-of-bench energizer.
• Elite athlete
• Tons of power and bounce, going to be an elite dunker
• Becoming more disciplined defender
• Uses quickness to get into lane and draw defenders, can kick out to open man
• Much improved handles
• Nice elevation and form on his shot, can hit turnaround and step-back jumpers
• Plays to win, competitive fire and drive to be great
• Made 36% of 3s, shooting upside
• Can be reckless driving into the lane
• Needs to tighten up handles and work on left hand
• Old for his class (born in 1999)
• Subpar length
• Shooting off the dribble is a work in progress
• Struggles to create his own offense
• Twice as many turnovers as assists last season
• No clear elite skill
Best Landing Spot
Toronto Raptors. The Raps have arguably the best player development staff in the NBA having developed Pascal Siakam into a bona fide superstar and Norman Powell, OG Anunoby, Fred VanVleet, and Terence Davis into plus role players despite low draft grades and various limitations. If there’s a team that could help elevate Stanley’s game it would be the defending champions up in the north.
Worst Landing Spot
Philadelphia 76ers. The Sixers are, by contrast, one of the worst teams in player development, having butchered Markelle Fultz and Jahlil Okafor as well as trading away Landry Shamet and failing to see his talent. They have also put themselves in a firm win-now window, something Stanley likely couldn’t contribute to. I have a hard time seeing him earning playing time on this team in the playoffs.
Late first round, early second round
Stanley is still pretty early in his development and I would have liked to see him stay at Duke for another season. At this point, it’s tough to figure out what his NBA future will look like. As a rookie, I see him filling a Hamidou Diallo role as an energizer and athletic leaper off the bench who can make some highlight-reel plays and compete in the dunk contest. Derrick Jones Jr. has been able to build on a similar profile as a highly athletic player with no tangible elite skill. He’s become a 25 minutes-per-game role player who throws down tide-turning dunks on offense and offers enough rebounding, defense, and a sprinkling of shooting to keep him on the floor. Stanley could become that archetype with enough work.
Shooting: 6. Stanley has shooting upside but he also benefitted from defenders doubling off him to guard Vernon Carey Jr. as well as Tre Jones setting up shots for him. The off-the-dribble shots are still a work in progress and I’m not convinced he’ll be an average NBA shooter with his 73.3% from the free-throw line.
Passing: 5. Stanley only averaged 1 assist per game at Duke, and while he clearly wasn’t tasked as anything more than a role player, I don’t see the precision or court vision that would allow him to be a great passer in the half-court.
Dribbling: 5. Stanley can dribble through the lane in transition to set up his athletic dunks, but in the half-court, his dribble-drive game is clearly lacking. For a player with his level of athleticism, he should have been able to get clean looks at the rim more often.
Rebounding: 7. He averaged 4.9 rebounds per game at Duke, which is a solid mark. He should be a decent rebounder in the NBA thanks to his unbelievable hops, especially on the offensive end.
Defense: 5. Given his athleticism, I would have expected Stanley’s defensive tape to flash elite potential, but I’m not sure I see it. His lack of length and thin frame are going to hold him back on that end of the floor.
Total rating: 40/70
You’d have to go back quite a way to find the last time a Minnesota Golden Gopher was selected in the NBA Draft. No Minnesota basketball product has been drafted since Kris Humphries with the 14th overall pick by the Utah Jazz in 2004. This year, Daniel Oturu finds himself in a position to put an end to that run. The 6’10”, 240-pound big man had one of the best seasons in school history during the COVID-19-shortened 2019-20 campaign. The son of Nigerian parents, Oturu played his high school ball at Cretin-Derham Hall High School. He arrived on the national recruiting scene in a big way when he slammed home an alley-oop dunk at the buzzer to capture the Minnesota state title over an Apple Valley High team that included fellow NBA Draft prospect and former Duke Blue Devil Tre Jones. Oturu had offers from powerhouse college programs Kansas and Memphis despite not having the McDonald’s All-American Game or a premiere AAU program on his high school resume. He ultimately chose to remain in-state, signing on to play at Minnesota as a 4-star recruit.
As a freshman for the Gophers in the 2018-19 season, Oturu started alongside current Los Angeles Clipper Amir Coffey and Jordan Murphy. Minnesota landed a birth in the NCAA tournament as a 10-seed and punctuated the season with a first-round upset of Louisville. With Coffey and Murphy both gone, it was no secret that more would be both expected and needed from Oturu in his sophomore season. He more than delivered, averaging a double-double with 20.1 points per game and 11.3 rebounds per game. He shot 56.3% from the floor and showed an impressive ability to stretch defenses with his 36.5% shooting from 3-point territory. Oturu combines this stretch potential with incredibly efficient scoring abilities at the rim. He will need to further develop his left-hand finishing abilities and cut down on his turnovers (2.8) to round out his offensive game. His 7’3” wingspan enables him to be effective at the rim on the defensive end as well, where he averaged 2.5 blocks per game in his final collegiate season. His shot-blocking along with his intensity on the glass provides him two ways to immediately contribute at the NBA level. Despite losing two of their best players and playing in the stacked Big Ten Conference, Oturu had Minnesota sitting just a game under .500 with a chance to make some noise in the Big Ten Tournament when the season ultimately got cut short. His strength and toughness should serve him well as he makes the transition to the pros.
• Skilled finisher at the rim with a promising post game
• Shooting ability offers stretch big potential
• Length allows him to excel at shot blocking and rebounding
• Plays with energy and tenacity on the defensive end
• Possesses great strength and physicality
• Lacks eye-popping athleticism
• Major mobility concerns
• Struggles to guard long, quick and more athletic opponents
• Not a great passer or playmaker
• Commits too many turnovers; very poor assist/turnover ratio
Best Landing Spot
Utah Jazz. Oturu doesn’t come into the league ready to be a primary big man option, and perhaps his NBA ceiling is only one of a rotational player. At the same time, his energy and defensive abilities as well as his efficient scoring abilities in close give him the ability to contribute. Landing with the Jazz would allow Oturu to play behind star center Rudy Gobert. The strong guard play of Donovan Mitchell and Mike Conley would afford Oturu to play to his strengths at the offensive end of scoring on the move, and his defensive abilities would make a fine substitute to the noted shot-blocking of Gobert. Utah is a team that is built to contend in the present. Adding a strong, physical defensive present like Oturu would further bolster the team’s frontcourt in going up against other Western Conference contenders.
Worst Landing Spot
New York Knicks. Many NBA teams could use the combination of defensive talent and stretch shooting potential that Oturu presents in the form of a big man. But the Knicks aren’t exactly an ideal landing spot for anyone right now, especially big men who will require coaching and time to develop early in their NBA careers. The Knicks’ frontcourt is already crowded with Bobby Portis taking away from Mitchell Robinson’s minutes, and Julius Randle also in the mix. Oturu won’t be an NBA starter right away, but it’s hard to envision him growing his game in New York.
Late first round to second round
Oturu’s strength, physicality and defensive abilities compare to those of Atlanta Hawks big man Clint Capela. While Oturu doesn’t have the same speed and athleticism as Capela, he does come into the NBA with more potential as a stretch shooter. He will look to earn his stripes as a rebounder and rim protector while working to take his offensive game to the next level.
Shooting: 8, Promising stretch potential as a big; needs to improve consistency
Passing: 5, Not a major part of his game at Minnesota; poor assist/turnover ratio
Hustle: 8, Plays with good energy; suffers from lack of athleticism and quickness
Defense: 8, Terrific shot blocker and rebounder; struggles to guard quicker players in space
NBA Mock Draft FAQ
Frequently Asked Questions
The NBA Draft is expected to take place on October 6th, which is planned just six weeks before the start of the 2020-21 NBA season. Dates are subject to change as the NBA calendar was pushed back due to coronavirus.
Lamelo Ball is eligible for the NBA Draft in 2020 and is expected to be a top-five pick. Ball has opted not to go college and has played for the Illawarra Hawks. They are a professional Australian basketball team in the NBL.
Lamelo Ball is considered the best player in the 2020 draft by many prospect rankings. He is a 6’6 point guard who has developed into a strong playmaker while playing overseas in Australia. Ball’s shooting is the only question mark.
The NBA Draft is two rounds, where each round consists of 30 picks. The television broadcast will usually last a few hours as they cover the picks and stories behind the players and their families.
The NBA lottery is a draw based on the teams that don’t get into the playoffs. The lower in the standings, the better your odds are at a higher pick. The drawing will give us the order for the NBA Draft.
The NBA Lottery is expected to take place on August 25th. This is when the NBA draft order will be set for the NBA Draft. All dates are subject to change as the NBA season is currently trying to finish up.
When players enter the NBA draft and don’t get drafted, they become available to sign as a free agent. Most players will go play overseas or be signed into G-League teams as they try and move into the NBA.