#1. Luka Doncic
Talk about an enigma, right?
The youngest player to ever win the EuroLeague MVP, Doncic is a surefire pro.
His strengths are suited for today’s game. A passing savant with an improving three pointer, Doncic is the type of player who makes others better. His PnR mastery is a match made in heaven for the NBA. Some will question how his average agility will translate to NBA defense, and that’s fair. Yet, Doncic is a basketball Einstein who loves to compete. I have him as my number one prospect. In fact, I even named one of the gifs in his profile the “GOAT gif” because it was the most impressive clip of a prospect I have seen as of yet. His feel for the game makes you wonder if the kid was actually incubated in a basketball. As the primary creator, Doncic lives in a good rhythm. If taken with the first overall pick, the Suns will be getting someone who makes Booker better, and boy, is that scary.
UPDATE: Despite the rumors about Doncic being a potential draft faller, I still have him atop my Big Board. Doncic just had one of the most productive EuroLeague seasons ever, regardless of age. His ceiling is high enough that it makes the potential bust risk worth it. No brainer, for me.
#2. DeAndre Ayton
Ayton has the ceiling of a franchise player and an All-Star center.
If he sticks to the game plan of being a rim-protecting big who can switch PnRs, he could be a max player. The difference between being Tyson Chandler and KAT is a perimeter game. 5 years from now, bigs like Embiid, KAT, Davis, Jokic and Porzingod will dominate the league, so grabbing Ayton now could prove worthwhile while also showing foresight. A question: Can Ayton stay on the court when teams go super-small? Drafting combo forwards with a massive wingspan, and giving them spot minutes as 5s seems to be a trend. Draymond is obviously the best example of this; however, do not be surprised when the Celtics give Tatum some super-duper small ball minutes at some point. Ayton will need to learn how to stay on the court as the game becomes quicker. Regardless, if this kid puts it all together…lookout.
#3. Jaren Jackson Jr
3-5 years from now, the NBA will need guys like JJJ.
With Embiid, The Brow, KAT, KP, Cousins and Jokic, as well as incoming draft picks all ready to lead the “Big Revival,” Jackson can be a great asset. Not only should he be able to defend bigs and protect the rim, he looks like he will be able to make life difficult for perimeter players too. A Stretch 5, Jackson can also be a Switch 5; someone who you feel okay with if he is switched onto anyone on the court during PnR defense. At 19 years of age, JJJ arguably has as high of ceiling as any big in this draft. Jackson Jr. looks like Serge Ibaka if Serge condensed all of his best years into one single season. There is a high floor for this big man prospect, as he seems to have a wide-ranging skill set with a motor to match. Check out the gifs in his profile and imagine him doing that in an NBA uniform!
#4. Mo Bamba
We know of the height. We know of the wingspan. We know of the three-point shooting workout videos.
Bamba looks like Gobert with a jumper. The man can lead the League in blocks while also not making you want to throw up if he is switched onto guards in a PnR. Defensively, this Longhorn has DPOY and All-Defense potential. Improving that 3P% is a key, but it looks like it is getting there. So, what gives me qualms about Bamba? It has nothing to do with his skill set or physical nature but, the game may be changing away from his skill set. During this postseason, we see coaches single out PnR matchups over and over again. Bamba can hold his own but, for how long? Small and super-small lineups may kill his effectiveness. With every possession becoming more valuable, his positional value is fair to question. Still, Bamba has something going for him. The NBA is FULL of talented bigs who may prevent coaches from going too small (Embiid, Towns, KP, Davis, Cousins, Nurkic, etc.) Perhaps Bamba has top-5 pick value after all. But wait, will the advent of 3-point shooting bigs just draw Bamba away from the paint, rendering his biggest strength useless? My head hurts! Everything hinges on Bamba’s feet proving quick enough to stalemate just enough PnR targets. Rank at your own risk, fellow HoopHeads.
UPDATE: Some impressive workouts have displayed Bamba’s improved shooting mechanics. The Gobert-with-a-3 projections are gaining steam and Bamba is benefitting from it.
#5. Wendell Carter
Yes, I have Wendell Carter ranked above teammate Marvin Bagley…
Carter is heavily underrated. He has the trifecta needed for a modern NBA big: 1. Wingspan 2. Muscle 3. Agility. Some bigs in this draft give me the Gobert Effect. In other words, when teams go super-small in the postseason, can they stay on the floor? Carter eases those fears. Similar to most bigs, you don’t want him constantly getting switched onto a Curry or Harden. Yet, Carter can hold his own in spurts, and that area should continue to improve. He is also a solid paint protector. Offensively, his game translates immediately. He can hits threes off the catch or Pick N Pop, and get you post buckets. Yet, he will shine if he develops his passing game. Bigs who can create offense for their team are so valuable. Ask the Celtics. Carter deserves top-5 consideration and is being criminally overlooked. His skill set and body is tailor made for where this League is headed. Scouts knock his quickness, but I don’t see a problem. Simply put, he is a better shooter, passer and defender than Bagley. The eye test and the stats tell us that. Remember: It is okay to have differing scouting opinions. Go with your gut, not groupthink.
UPDATE: According to draft guru Jonathan Givony, Carter lost a ton of weight and looks “shredded” now. This eases concerns about his switch defense and lands him firmly in my top-5.
#6: Trae Young
Trae, or Trey?
The OU product was the best player in college basketball for half the year. What’s more impressive? Young looked the part of an NBA player. So, why is he such a polarizing prospect? Young has the tools to succeed in today’s NBA. He can hit 3s from anywhere on the court, can play off the ball and has the ability to make excellent passes. Problem is, Young did not do this consistently. During conference play, Young was often double-teamed and struggled making the right read, whether that meant shooting a trey or passing to an open teammate. Regardless, the talent exists. Young doesn’t need to develop his jumper, handle or vision. What needs to change is his ability to play under pressure and be a game manager. Personally, I am not concerned with his height, weight, wingspan or athleticism. The League is full of Walker’s and Conley’s. Young’s work ethic is renown; he should be able to overcome those deficiencies. So, why slot him #4 on my Big Board? Watch his game versus TCU and you see someone who looks like that point guard on Golden State. I don’t expect Young to play like Steph Curry, but if he is 80% of what Steph is, then isn’t that worth a top-5 pick?
UPDATE: Young fell a bit but only because some other prospects are rising. There are some other PGs who could be the best in this class but Young has the highest upside, which is why he remains top-7 on my Big Board.
#7. Marvin Bagley
This young man just loves playing some roundball.
You will be hardpress to find someone on the court who plays harder than him – something we often forget to value as a skill. Bagley possesses the quickness to stick with guards on D, and takes advantage of slower bigs on O. While Jackson Jr. and Bagley have great verticals, Bagley gets off of the floor much quicker. On offense, the man is a natural scorer despite not having a perfect jumper. Some people just know how to put that thing in the hoop. Scouts have questioned his jumper, but I have no issues with it. With any luck, he will develop into an average 3-point threat. Defensively, his wingspan could hurt him. Small ball (and super-small ball) lineups live and die on a combo forward who has the quickness to defend guards and length to protect the rim (see Kevon Looney) Can he defend well enough on the next level to stay on the court? When a team like the Celtics go small, is he strong enough for Horford or quick enough for Tatum? Regardless, his motor eases some of those questions. Bagley should help a team with a struggling on and off court culture turn things around.
#8. Miles Bridges
Here’s another Bridge I want to sell ya.
Bridges is a bowling ball with dynamite in his legs. To boot, the guy hustles his tail off. Bridges has worked hard on his game despite it not always showing in his Freshman-to-Sophomore year numbers. His three-point shot looks just fine but Bridges knows how to score in other ways as well. At the next level he will likely spend some time without the ball in his hands, fortunately, Bridges is skilled at backdoor cuts and grabbing lobs. What his career trajectory will hang on is his ability to create off the dribble, both for himself and others. Bridges has tried more of these NBA-type moves in college and has shown promise, despite not always hitting. But, he must create for others if he wants to reach the star potential he has inside of him. This is not Draymond Green, however. Bridges can guard 1-4 defensively but do not expect him to be a small-ball five regularly. Some have concerns over his defensive fit and wingspan. Is he more than a rich-man’s PJ Tucker? If he is, someone could have a steal on their hands.
UPDATE: The more I watch of Bridges, the more I love him. He is made to be a stretch 4 and has untapped star potential. Brett Brown has some praise to throw his way during a recent workout, Philly could be an option for him as he could slide in as a 3 as well.
#9. Kevin Knox
Welcome to the School of Hard Knox.
The way Kevin Knox plays, this nickname may actually stick. Want to know the exact moment I was impressed with Knox? He tried not once, but twice, to dunk over the most intimidating man in college basketball, Sags Konate. And he even drew some fouls. Dude will try and jam on everyone and anyone; a mentality I love. A combo forward, teams will fall in love with how Knox can theoretically fit into pro offenses. With a smooth jumper and superb off-ball ability, Knox simply looks the part. Adding some PnR game will be a plus. Why isn’t Knox higher on boards? Well, I am sure he is. Personally, I considered trying to find a way to move him into the top-10. His rawness; however, still makes me uncomfortable. Plus, his intensity seems to only show up on the offensive end. He also shows a lack of feel for setting up anyone but himself. Yet, if Knox finds a way to perfect the things he is good at (off-ball 3s, iso-game, attacking) then he could end up moving up boards when bloggers do their inevitable re-draft.
UPDATE: Knox is the biggest riser, shooting from 14 to 9 on my board. During workouts he demonstrated his PnR ability; something Coach Cal never let him show at Kentucky. Knox will go somewhere between 7 and 10 on Draft Night.
#10. Mikal Bridges
Here’s a Bridge I want to sell ya.
But for those big time NCAA followers, I won’t have to. If someone took Bridges as early as number 5, you will not get an argument from me. He is the best off-ball shooter in the draft. Mikal is made for the pace and space NBA. Houston must be going nuts trying to find a way to move up and grab him. Athletically, Bridges’ parents must have conceived him while watching Space Jam at a Drive-Inn theater. He projects as a high volume, high percentage wing who can hang with guards and other wings defensively. What is holding Bridges back from a higher consensus ranking? Well, the dude does not do much for others, or himself. As we go deeper into the playoffs, we see how valuable it is to have a player who can take a man one-on-one and just get a bucket. Bridges cannot do this, at least not yet. But what I love about him is his ability to attack the rim off of cuts and slips. Let us not forget that this guy knows what it takes to be a champion. Bet on this kid. We may look back a few years from now and wonder why this guy was not a top-5 pick.
#11. Collin Sexton
Coaches will fall in love with Collin Sexton.
Poised to be the highest drafted ‘Bama player in quite some time, Collin Sexton has a foundation that can be built on. Specifically, Sexton shines when attacking the rim; something he does relentlessly. The guy lives at the line but can put it in too, as he has showed off an array of shifty moves. In a league dominated by players who only take shots at the rim or from deep, Sexton has half of that equation down pat. Furthermore, his J is better than his percentages suggest and he should be able to improve upon it with NBA spacing. What holds Sexton back from being the first guard taken in this draft? He isn’t much of a quarterback. A lead guard, Sexton needs to develop the passing aspect of his game. Can he make the correct PnR reads? Can he take advantage of his burst and find teammates for lobs in the dunker spot? Regardless, his defense and physical profile are good enough to make him a staple in the NBA, even if this means he takes a “first guard off of the bench” role. From seeing his stellar intensity, I would not bet against this man doing what it takes to become a high-level NBA starter.
#12. Lonnie Walker IV
If there is one person who could jump into the top 8…
Lonnie Walker won the combine. Teams immediately recognized his star personality during interviews plus, he nailed all of the athletic tests. But what is Lonnie like on the court? His off-the-dribble 3P game is very advanced. Watch all of the gifs in his profile and it is like looking at vintage JR. Miami ran him off screens a bunch and he displayed his beautiful footwork. The potential to be a secondary scorer is there, albeit not developed fully right now. In other words, the dude has shown some serious PnR game. Defensively, Walker uses his lateral quickness to keep pace with all guards. His length allows for him to protect the rim on chase-downs, scrambles, and weak-side defense. Why are scouts and pundits alike hesitant to move him into the 8-10 range? If it is not a three, Walker cannot create much (for himself or others.) He looks to score first and will need to fully buy into NBA ball-movement offenses. Ball-stopping is a surefire way to end up a “what if” case. Regardless, Walker will make both social and regular media fall in love with him. If he becomes a playmaker, we could have a star here. He is my sleeper of the draft.
#13. Michael Porter Jr.
I just don’t see it.
Let me rephrase. I just don’t see Michael Porter being worthy of a top-8 pick. Do I think he can become a sweet-shooting combo forward who can space the floor? Absolutely. But, I simply haven’t seen much in his game that suggests he can do more than catch some lobs, hit threes and nail some bailout mid-rangers. Those are certainly good traits; however, I want my top-ten picks to do more than that. Show me defense, shiftiness, creation, passing vision, shot-blocking…something. At times, Porter looks like he has no idea how to play in an offense. Check out the gif in his player profile. Who watches their teammate post up then decide to post up LITERALLY right next to him? Who? A pirate with two hooks for hands has a better feel for the game. I don’t want to bash on MPJ too much. After all, I am rooting for the kid to succeed because, well, you would have to be a jerk to want anyone to fail. But at the end of the day, Porter is someone who I am staying away from, if possible. The back injury, the lack of film, the un-diverse skill set…gamble on someone else in the top-ten.
UPDATE: Mike Schmitz went on the knowledgeable Dunc’d On podcast and said that there are legit concerns about Porter’s basketball mentality. Team interviews and internal scouting have led to questions about a deeply rooted “me first” mindset. Coupled with the back issues, I moved Porter a slot down to #13 overall.
#14: Troy Brown Jr.
Troy Brown Jr. may get drafted higher than we expect.
Why? Brown can handle the PnR like a pro, a skill that NBA teams covet nowadays. He projects to switch 1-4 on defense, sets up teammates, rebounds and has handle to get to the rim. In other words, the dude is a San Antonio Spur in the making. And although Brown could benefit from the Spurs famous shot coach Chip Engelland, he probably won’t be available at pick 18. This is for good reason, however. Brown does all of the little things to make a team better. Teammates get easier shots when he is on the floor. Plus, Brown can get to the rim himself. So, why isn’t he higher on the big board? His jumper gives me serious pause. Sometimes Brown looks like he shoots the ball just fine. Other times he slingshots the ball and cocks is back way too far over his head. His mid-range is hard to watch too, as pull-ups seem rushed. Watch his right arm and hand as he shoots the midrange in the gif in his profile. The good news: Brown will get paid millions to do nothing but shoot jumpers. The potential is here for this kid, I’m rooting for him.
UPDATE: Brown moved up for me as his BleacherReport’s Jonathan Wasserman reported how Brown has been dazzling during workouts. Apparently, his jumper has gotten better and teams love his versatility.
#15. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (SGA)
Why did I ring the alarm? SGA possesses skills that I find particularly valuable for today’s NBA. Specifically, he is the slipperiest player in the draft; this dude can get to the rim at will with an array of hesi-moves, crossovers, euros and deceleration. When he is there, he can finish with either hand or find the open man. His combo of handle and vision make him the second best PnR player, behind Doncic. With an improving, albeit questionable jumper, SGA shows glimpses of shot-making as well. Defensively, he must put on weight; however, his length will create serious problems, plus he owns the foot-speed to stay with players 1-3. A tall point guard who can get to the hoop at will, has vision, and is developing a three? Sign me up. In order to improve his game, and draft stock, SGA must demonstrate more fluidity. This applies to his jumper and defensive footwork. Plus, his NBA career may depend on fit. Put this guy with another ball-handler and I am not sure he could be a starter. That being said, if SGA ends up as the second best point guard in this draft, do not be surprised. Expect the Clippers to look at him, as well as Cleveland and Charlotte if they both want to prepare for lives without their respective best players.
#16: Robert Williams
10 years ago, Robert Williams may have been a top-7 pick.
Unfortunately, the NBA has changed in ways that have outpaced Mr. Williams. Of course, rim protectors will always be valuable, along with good rebounders and guys who can guard 1-5. Yet, the League is crawling with stretch 5s, guys who will pull Williams away from doing what he does best – protecting the paint. You can still get 32-36 good minutes from Williams in a playoff game; however, will he close out those same games when teams finish with small lineups? Probably not. Drafting Williams in the 10-14 range is good, but I would aim to get him 13-16. In modern PnR offenses, Williams will show great use as a lob threat. Also, his defensive potential is akin to DeAndre Jordan. Positional value has driven down Williams’ stock, yet we saw the impact a shot blocker like Gobert had on the Jazz. You know what you are getting with Williams but, is it what you want during the last 5 minutes of a playoff game?
#17: Elie Okobo
Trendy Pick Alert! – Trendy Pick Alert!
Talk about someone who is worth the hype…Frenchman Elie Okobo is shooting up big boards and is sure to move up mine. What does he do well? Well, he’s got NBA range with a silky J. He looks like a smaller Manu out there when he does those crafty moves on his way to the hole. Oh, and he decelerates like Harden. His game in Europe was predicated on the PnR, so Okobo will have tons of reps running an offense similar to the many in the League today. Good height, good wingspan, good frame for putting on weight. What is most impressive is the way Okobo lets the game come to him. He ALWAYS plays at his own pace; one that is advantageous for him and his teammates. We may look back and wonder why people like SGA and Sexton were ranked higher than Okobo. His high handle and decision making is a concern, as well as his pass velocity but, the making is there for Okobo to one day challenge Young as the best point guard in this draft.
UPDATE: Okobo slid up a spot and deserves to have late-lottery looks. He has exploded during team workouts, so do not be surprised to hear his name called as early as 15th.
#18: Khyri Thomas
I am buying Khyri Thomas stock.
In fact, give me all the stock. Now. After a strong NCAA season, I am not too sure why some big boards have Thomas moving down. My guess? Thomas is not doing anything to merit moving down; however, some players are simply moving up. Take De’Anthony Melton, for instance. His recent workouts were stellar so, some are quick to swap him and Thomas. Not me. For three years at Creighton, against great competition, Thomas sunk a ton of threes. He did so in a manner NBA teams will like: off of the catch. What’s more, Thomas displayed the potential to use this shooting threat to open up the PnR game. It is his vision which I felt was the most underrated aspect of his game. The gifs in his profile will do the talking (writing) for me. Defensively, Thomas is a 2x Big East DPOY, and for good reason. He manipulates his strong frame, long arms and quickness to smother everyone. Great fundamentals (stance) and active hands help as well. Sure, his handle is questionable yet, this can be improved. I love Thomas at the next level. He’s a gamer with definitive skills that are translatable. Some team in the mid to late first will get a real value pick here.
#19: Zhaire Smith
The curious case of Zhaire Smith.
What is he? Is he a defensive two guard? Does he have potential to be an NBA PnR playmaker? Lot of questions here, folks. Let’s start with the plusses. Smith may be the best athlete in the draft. Guess what? He knows it too and tries to dunk everything. Athletically, his quick feet, fluidity and wingspan allow him to stick with anyone on the court defensively. Offensively, I love the way this kid sets up teammates. Smith is always a threat to blow by a defender, so when he draws in multiple guys he will look for a dump or kick-out pass to open teammates. There is definitely secondary ball-handler potential here. But make no mistake, this guy is not a point guard. Smith has the blandest handle package out there, often settling for a jab step then a line drive to the hoop. Sometimes this works, but against NBA defenders he will need to show more. They will simply play off of him to compensate for speed and dare him to pull a J. Speaking of which, his jumper is not pretty. Smith often leaves both hands up during his follow a through; a sign that the is still pushing the ball and guiding it too much with his off hand. Furthermore, he has an awful (and odd) habit of jumping backwards during a pull-up (see gif in profile.) So, what’s the deal with this uber-athlete? I have Smith in the middle of the first round. Yet, if a team can rework his jumper, Smith can be a defensive menace who can create for others while also being a three-point threat. The development of his jumper will determine if turns into Norman Powell, Zach LaVine, Victor Oladipo or anywhere in between.
UPDATE: Although he mesmerized the Lakers during a workout, Smith has slid a spot or two. Questions about his jumper are legit. Smith has as much upside as just about anyone in his class but, his floor could be incredibly low.
#20: Landry Shamet
Landry Shamet is a prolific shooter but, this high?
Damn right. Sometimes we have a tendency to get too cute in our scouting. People can often forget that the most important skill in the NBA is knowing how to put that damn ball in the hoop. Landry Shamet can do that with the best of them. He will compete with Bridges and Young for the best 3P shooter in this draft and hits from NBA range effortlessly. Furthermore, Shamet makes up for his lack of athleticism by using a array of separation-creation dribbles and moves. Peep the stepback gif in his profile. Shamet has seen his assist numbers almost double this year, and the tape shows that he is learning the PnR at a high pace. Defensively, Shamet gets bullied. He is also prone to getting burnt; however, this could be changed by addressing his stance. Yet, Shamet is a scrappy guard who has a mean streak in him and always plays like he knows he is the underdog. I’ll take an elite shooter any day of the week, especially one who can create for others. It would be smart to bet that Shamet overcomes his physical attributes and excels as a future NBA contributor.
#21: Aaron Holiday
Just what the League needs, another Holiday.
Just kidding. Give me some Aaron Holiday off the bench any day of the week. Will he reach the level of his brother Jrue. Not likely. Yet, Aaron is a gritty competitor with a knack for clutch shots. He looks like a coach’s dream for the backup guard spot. Holiday can hit threes in every way possible, both on and off the ball. His patience in the PnR game will be helpful in second lineups, as he determines the pace of the game and gets quality looks. When playing against backups, look for him to run an efficient half court and then gun it during fastbreaks. Why won’t he be a full-time starter? Holiday may not have the quickness to defend starting guards. His IQ alone; however, will keep him in this league for a while and see him fill in for injured starters. Don’t be surprised if teams who are looking for insurance guards, such as San Antonio, Detroit and Milwaukee, move to the late first to grab him.
UPDATE: Holiday soared up my Big Board! Although he projects as a high-end backup guard, Holiday has some sneaky starter potential. The kid works his tail off and can hit threes in a variety of ways. At worst, Holiday will impact a team off of the bench the same way Terry Rozier did for the Cs.
#22: Mitchell Robinson
Mitchell Robinson, the Draft’s International Man of Mystery.
Okay, so maybe not “international,” seeing as Mitchell is from Louisiana. Scouts love Robinson for what you can’t teach: height, wingspan, and speed. A fluid athlete, Robinson has the potential to be molded into a modern NBA center. Plus, Mike Schmitz just posted this beauty of Robinson draining an NBA corner three while catching it on the move. Wow. Paired with this man’s defensive versatility, Robinson proves a steal in the making. But. Of course, there is a “but.” Robinson didn’t leave WKU once, but twice. Why? The first time, he left because he was having second thoughts about WKU. WKU staff literally found out by walking into an empty dorm room. He left the second time to focus on the NBA Draft. Weird. Frustratingly, we do not have access to NBA interviews during draft workouts. Yet, it is reasonable to speculate that Robinson may have some maturity issues. Will a man with newfound millions make the best decisions to better his professional career? That is quite literally a million dollar question. The Boom potential is real however, and if picking Robinson in the teens or early 20s, it may be worth the Bust potential as well.
UPDATE: Mr. Robinson is trending the right direction. Gym session films showed him nailing corner threes on the move, something I like to see. A recently cancelled workout with Denver may signal that Robinson has late-lottery interest or at least a mid-first round promise.
#23: Melvin Frazier
Just fix the jumper already!
Frazier has all the tools to be a rotational wing in the NBA. Check off the height, wingspan, and athleticism boxes. And let me be clear, the J isn’t broken. Actually, far from it. Yet, there is such a clear fix to his shooting mechanics that will make him a legit NBA player. Frazier brings his shot to his release point to way too early and releases it on the way down. Ew. You can see the pause in his mechanics and it makes you cringe. But still, the dude has touch. And boy, can he fly! He projects as a backup wing with starter potential if that J evolves. God forbid he becomes a more reliable creator too. I like Frazier’s chances of eventually starting for a squad because of his defense. The guy can smother players with his length, foot speed and fundamentals. Watch him D up future NBAer Shake Milton in his profile.
#24: De’Anthony Melton
De’Anthony Melton…hmmm…go on….
The USC product had to sit out his sophomore year at USC but, I am not too concerned. The vast majority of NBA players probably committed some sort of NCAA violation. Why am I a little higher on Melton than other scouts? Presumably, you watched the NBA Finals. How important is defense? That is a rhetorical question. Melton is an elite defender who can extend his NBA career similar to Tony Allen. Yet, Melton has flashed some offensive upside. Combine and workout videos show an improving three pointer. His ability to create in transition and the screening game are decent as well. Worst case scenario for Melton is that he becomes a backup point guard who gets minutes with starters. Best case scenario, he becomes Marcus Smart with a 3P average that doesn’t bring with the number two.
#25: Grayson Allen
Everyone loves Duke players, right?
Once you get over the tripping and other childish antics, Grayson Allen may provide some value to you. Let me start with what I like. Shooting. And more shooting. The kid has NBA range with a quick release and footwork that makes Hubie Brown shed a tear. He knows how to run around screens the way I run from ex girlfriends. Allen’s time leading the PnR at Duke will only help him as he progresses forward. Combine this some saviness and sneaky hops, and you could be looking at a good late first round pick. What I don’t like is Allen’s defensive ability. Most likely, the guy is not quick enough to guard starters for all too long. I envision Allen being a fiery spark plug off the bench who can be inserted into small lineups that want shooting. Picture Jeremy Lamb with a mean streak and greater drive to win.
UPDATE: After a strong showing during a Boston Celtics workout, Allen move up three spots. Scouts may be overthinking this kid, at the end of the day he can shoot the lights out of the ball and may have shed enough weight to reclaim some once lost burst.
#26: Chandler Hutchison
This guy received a first round promise for a reason.
Chandler Hutchison is similar to another prospect in this draft, Keita Bates-Diop. Where they differ; however, is athleticism. Hutchison can jam it on you and loves to do so. Yet, his game has a great amount of touch to it, as he will use his footwork to get by defenders and to the rim. What is impressive about Hutchison was how he reworked his shot to become a better spot-up shooter behind the arc. Hutch looks like a 3 and D wing who can guard 4s as well. You may not want him switching onto guards, however. Still, the Boise State product has a well-rounded game with a skill set to make any team better. He has a good mental approach to his game too, and is incredibly coachable. It is rumored that the Bulls have promised to take Hutchison in the late first, and if they do, they have a good one on their hands. Hutchison can break through his ceiling if he further develops his handle in order to create his own shot.
#27: Jacob Evans
I like Evans, but not as much as some other scouts.
Is my UConn bias showing too much? Perhaps. Despite not being fully in love with Evans, I do like his fit considering the way the League is shifting.Evans can defend other wings and some 4s due to his strength. His strength; however, is his main defensive attribute, as Evans has ordinary lateral quickness. Evans will need to demonstrate he can guard the best of the best, as he will be asked to as his career goes on. His 3P shooting should translate immediately, making Evans a classic 3 & D player. Combined with his hustle, that skill will keep him in this league for a while. Yet, can Evans do anything but play defense and shoot 3s? Does he have to? Well, I guess not. Guys like Jae Crowder and Wesley Matthews will have long careers on a limited skill set. Yet, does this mean Evans should crack my top 20? Probably not. The League needs wings who can shoot but, there are better defenders and shooters in this draft. The 20s range seems right for Evans.
#28: Keita Bates-Diop
Does anyone have a read on KBD?
I certainly don’t. Sometimes I see a guy who looks like T.J. Warren traded his mid-range game for a three. The efficiency in production is easy to see. Bates-Diop can work from the post, face up around the FT Line-ext, and drain threes. Plus, his meteoric rise to fulfill his potential is indicative of his work ethic. What confuses me about KBP is his fit on the next level. Can he start at the 3? Probably not. At the 4, he lacks toughness to bang with bigger guys. When Blake Griffin is playing alongside Andre Drummond, who does KBP guard? Plus, the Ohio State product hasn’t shown an ability to create for others. He projects as a combo forward who is the recipient of offense, not the creator. And that is okay! I see KBP as someone who can occasionally be plugged in as starter when needed but could truly thrive in a bench scorer role.
#29: Josh Okogie
I got so frustrated watching Okogie, that I am frustrated now as I type this.
With decent height, build, athleticism and a seven-foot wingspan, I want Okogie to lock down everyone he meets. Yet, he stays upright too often. If he gets burnt one play, he’ll come back to pick off a pass the next, and dunk it too. Consistency is key, ladies and gents. For instance, he can get to line with his speed and footwork alone. Awesome. But then he misses the layup. Bad. The dude is a professional at blowing bunnies. Still, the tools are there for him to be a late-first steal. Slight adjustments to his shooting mechanics, defensive stance, and approach to the rim could turn him from a “wanting more” backup to a starting two guard.
#30: Dzanan Musa
Whatever you do, do not go under a screen on this man.
Like…never. He will make you pay. The guy looks like a natural shooter, despite keeping his guide hand on a little too long. Similar to Aaron Holiday, Musa is a player who can bury threes, both on the catch and off the dribble. He will bring over some PnR skill as well, as Musa makes defenders pay the second they slip up. If two defenders stick with him to prevent the three, then Musa finds the screener for a slip. Go under and die. Literally. Death by three-pointers. In the most stereotypical way possible (sorry), Musa has that slippery Euro game, with crossovers, hesis and change of pace dribbles. But, his length and athleticism will hurt his chances to finish among NBA bigs. Plus, I am worried about his team fit. Whichever team drafts him must have a game plan for him that allows him to create and move off of the ball on varying possessions.