NBA Draft week is upon us. For 2020, it’s the best week of the year, and the rumors are flying. Chris Paul is now a member of the Phoenix Suns. Jrue Holiday is on his way to Milwaukee. James Harden and Russell Westbrook want out of Houston. However, behind all the rumors are talented prospects looking to make their mark in the NBA. After hours of watching film, it’s time to release the final version of ProCity Hoops’ NBA Draft Big Board.
1. LaMelo Ball, 19, Guard, International
- Playmaking, playmaking, playmaking. The best playmaker in the draft, and I don’t think it’s particularly close. He sees everything on the court and has the ability to find guys with either hand. He’s going to come into an NBA system and have the ability to be a double-digit assist guy not far down the road.
- Best ball handler in the draft. Has a tendency to over dribble at times on the perimeter without really gaining any ground, but defenders always seem uneasy guarding him.
- Great size at the guard position which allows him to be a great rebounder. He has an easy ability to read the ball in the air to see where it’s going to come off the rim. Loves to push the ball off misses and is great in the open court directing traffic.
- Natural touch. While LaMelo didn’t shoot the ball particularly well in Australia, he has great touch from all over the floor. When he ventures inside the three-point line, he loves to take running floaters from anywhere, and he’s effective doing so. I think the three-point stroke will develop into an above league average shot with more seasoning in the shot selection department. There are concerns about his ability to keep the defense honest and make them pay when teams go under screens, but I don’t have any worries about that. When Ball focuses on his mechanics, his stroke is pure. It’s just a matter of being consistent with it.
- Defensive versatility. We will talk about the many concerns on this side of the floor for Ball, but I think he has defensive potential. He hasn’t been asked to play much defense throughout his career so it’s going to take time, but his size and feel for the game gives me hope. LaMelo averaged 2.1 steals per 40 minutes in Australia and a big reason why was because of his ability to read opposing teams and get in passing lanes. While he may never be an elite on-ball defender, he can become a plus team defender and not be a liability on that side of the court.
- Shot selection. Simply put, Ball loves jacking up terrible shots. He falls in love with dribbling around on the perimeter and putting up a contested 30-footer. I believe his shot selection has gotten better over time, but it’s not where it needs to be yet. Another facet of his shot selection is when LaMelo puts up shots like these, his mechanics usually go haywire. His shot becomes unbalanced, and it truly looks like he’s sending up a prayer. I think his funky mechanics are overstated in a lot of ways because of this, as he’s a smooth shooter when he’s taking good shots. Time will tell if he can reel it in.
- While his floater game inside the arc is very good, Ball doesn’t like to draw contact in the paint. I think developing his body and putting more weight on his frame will help him with this, but Ball is going to struggle finishing over and around NBA size and length at the start of his career.
- Lack of explosiveness. I would describe Ball as a guy that likes to break a defender down on offense, compared to exploding past them. His ball handling and creativeness are what drives his offensive abilities. However, he’s not a very explosive player at the point of attack. He struggled to take advantage of switches in Australia, oftentimes going nowhere with his dribble outside the arc before jacking up a three. Ball will need to take better advantage of switches in the NBA, and it’s not going to come against easier defenders. The NBA is filled with talented length that will be switching out onto Ball. He could struggle initially to find his way with long defenders, but his ball handling upside and ability to break a guy down still win out in my eyes.
- Defense. The potential is there, but the current ability is not. LaMelo will still average at least a steal per game off his ability to get into passing lanes, but that ability often comes at a cost. Ball loves to gamble on passes, leaving him out of position and putting the rest of the defense at a disadvantage. Additionally, he falls asleep off the ball. He likes to take a break when defending an off the ball player, sometimes sagging too far in the paint, allowing for an easy catch-and-shoot three from his man. In terms of on-ball defense, it’s not much better. LaMelo stands up tall on defense, not getting into a defensive stance. He likes to trot around and not move his feet, oftentimes being caught flat-footed. This leads to less athletic players being able to blow by him with fairly simple moves. While the mindset should go a long way on this end of the court, his size will be useful early in his career, as he might be able to hide on less ball dominant players.
- I’m about as high on LaMelo Ball as anyone. I truly think he has the chance to be a generational talent. His passing and playmaking at his size is something that only compares to LeBron James and Magic Johnson. I trust that his shot will come around as he continues to work on shot selection and staying better dialed in with his mechanics. Defensively, there’s intangibles to build on. He has the IQ to be a high-level team defender and that might be all it takes. While I think it may take Ball some time to truly show all his potential in the NBA, as his body continues to develop, I think we will be looking at a special player.
2. Cole Anthony, 20, Guard, North Carolina
- Dynamic shooter. He possesses a vast array of moves to get to his spots. He doesn’t have the most flashy handle in the draft, but his dribbling is very tight and compact, making him extremely effective getting to spots. Effective using a jab-step, side-step, and step-back anywhere on the court. He’s comfortable shooting going to his right or left.
- Projects as a good finisher. Anthony has a really good floater game, and he showed off his athleticism at UNC finishing around bigger defenders. North Carolina didn’t do him any favors in terms of the space he was given to attack, which often forced Anthony to get creative finishing around the rim. I think he will thrive in attack mode even more in the NBA with appropriate spacing around him.
- Off-ball ability. While Anthony is dynamic with the ball in his hands as a score-first guy, I think he projects well playing next to other on-ball players as well. He knows how to space out on the perimeter and is a good catch-and-shoot player. Along with that, he’s a great rebounder for his size, and I don’t think he would have any issues playing the two at the next level.
- Ferocious defender. Anthony gets it done on both ends of the court. He’s quick and aggressive in on-ball defense, staying down in a stance and moving his feet extremely well. He also possesses great defensive IQ, making him a threat for backside steals when guarding players off the ball. Never fails to compete on either end of the floor.
- Sneaky explosion at his side. Anthony is a force in transition getting to the rim, and he can get up too. He can afford to become a better passer in the half court and in transition, but the athleticism is there.
- Shot selection. Truth be told, Cole Anthony is an extremely confident player, and I think his shot selection reflects that at times. On the other hand, Anthony played on a terrible North Carolina team, and he was asked to do everything offensively. He was their biggest perimeter threat, and with eight players who saw time on the court for UNC shooting under 32% from three, Anthony was not given a lot of space to operate. With NBA talent around him, Anthony will be able to reign in his shot selection. He won’t be forced into taking crazy fadeaway shots at the end of the clock, like he so often did at North Carolina.
- Not a plus passer. Anthony has the ability to make basic passes to open teammates, but he doesn’t throw guys open like a lot of dynamic playmakers in the NBA. He had moments at North Carolina where his reads were too slow, and he didn’t find the open man in time. I think Anthony can improve with this by getting reps at the next level, but the game is not going to slow down.
- Injuries. Perhaps the biggest knock on Anthony across the league is that he cannot stay healthy. It’s a big problem, but my hope is that with an NBA workout program, Anthony can put some of his injury history past him.
- As you have probably figured out by now, I like Cole Anthony way more than the average scout or media member. I think Anthony possesses a unique shot creation ability that will thrive at the next level. He’s a terrific defender, although he could be attacked in switches because of his size, but he plays hard. His playmaking could also improve, but his ability to make basic passes, and the level of uniqueness in his shot-making abilities win out. Surfacing around the NBA, guys like Kemba Walker, Damian Lillard, and Jamal Murray don’t often wow people with their passing, but they make the right plays at the right time, and their scoring is the trump card. There’s nothing Anthony did at North Carolina that makes me understand the free fall that seems to be happening for him pre-draft. Just one year ago, this guy was ranked #2 in the 2019 High School Class. If Cole Anthony can stay healthy, and yes I know that’s a big “if,” I see him as an All-Star level guy for years to come.
3. Devin Vassell, 20, Wing, Florida State
- Defense. Able to stay square and keep his defender in front of him. Very good at getting poke away steals. Has active hands.
- High defensive IQ. Understands positioning on the floor. Great weak-side help defender. He will be able to orchestrate a defense at the next level.
- Great length at his size gives him potential as a wing shot blocker. Guys underestimate his length, which allows him to get some easy steals in passing lanes.
- Excellent spot-up three-point shooter. High release point and length allows him to shoot over guys. Has some experience coming off pindown action, but more of a spot-up shooter at this point in his career.
- Showed shot-making potential. Improved a lot from his freshman to sophomore year in this category, which bodes well for the future.
- Needs to add weight to his frame. It doesn’t seem to matter defensively, but he gets knocked off of spots offensively too often, especially driving to the rim.
- Doesn’t have the tightest handle. It’s been improving, and it will need to continue to do so for him to reach his full potential. He’s also not the most explosive player, and he doesn’t have the best first step off the catch. Defenders were able to contain him on initial attacks more often than not.
- Defensive gambling. Vassell trusts his length so much that he thinks he can get in the lane of any pass. He doesn’t usually get caught with backdoor cuts because of it, but if he can’t get to the pass, he starts trailing the play.
- I think Vassell has one of the highest floors in the entire draft. He’s one of, if not the best defender in the draft and has a sharp three-point shot. Worst case scenario, he’s a very capable three-and-D guy in the NBA. However, I am just as intrigued with his upside. He showed remarkable improvements off the dribble last year at Florida State, and I think that can continue in the NBA. I don’t think he will ever be able to be a primary ball handler, or playmaker, but I think he has a great chance at developing into a capable secondary shot creator. If anyone is selling, give me all the Devin Vassell stock and not just because he has the same name as me.
4. Anthony Edwards, 19, Guard, Georgia
- Great elevation and release point on his jump shot. Fluid motion should allow him to develop into a much better shooter from three than his 29.4% in college.
- Physical ability and tools. Mixture of size, strength, and agility. Plays a lot faster than he looks. Almost looks like he should have slow feet and a slow first step, but that isn’t the case.
- Has a variety of moves in his arsenal. He’s creative in finding his shot. Not afraid to shoot off the dribble, use a step-back, jab-step, or attack. NBA spacing could give him more opportunities to attack the lane, if he chooses to use it.
- Flexible in the paint. Has the ability to adjust his body in the air to find an angle at the rim. Extremely crafty in the paint and can finish through contact.
- Playmaking and passing potential. Not a flashy passer, but can make the correct, simple reads to open teammates. Reminds me of Kawhi Leonard’s playmaking. He doesn’t possess a great ability to create shots for others, but he will make the right pass at the right time.
- Has the body and size to be an elite NBA defender. When he’s locked in, he has the quickness to stay with smaller guards, and the size to match up with bigger wings.
- Motor. It’s been mentioned time and time again, but it’s a real concern. There were too many instances over the course of Georgia’s season where Edwards looked disinterested. He’s acknowledged those concerns in the pre-draft process, and vows that won’t happen at the next level, but it concerns me what he will look like if he goes to a team that has some losing seasons right out of the gate. Does he become disinterested, or does he buckle down and get through it?
- Gets caught watching the ball a lot on defense. Instead of using peripheral vision to have an eye on his guy and the ball, Edwards likes to turn his entire head towards the ball, leaving him at risk to get beat by off-ball cutters. He will get torn apart by NBA players off the ball if this doesn’t improve.
- Shot selection. Yes, he played on a bad Georgia team, and that probably played a role in him jacking up a lot of inefficient shots. However, Edwards has the skill to be attacking and use that threat to create open looks from three. If Edwards can contain his desire to take Dion Waiters type shots, he’s going to go places in the NBA.
- Anthony Edwards has the potential to be great. If someone told me that Edwards went on to be a ten-time All-Star and multi-time All-NBA player, I would not be shocked. I love a lot of stuff on Edwards’ tape, but the motor concerns me. There are rumors circulating that he’s gone into NBA workouts out of shape, and people have been comparing his motor to Andrew Wiggins. In terms of frame and sheer talent, he’s probably the best in the class. The question now will be if he can put it all together and stay focused on putting it all together.
5. Onyeka Okongwu, 19, Big, USC
- Versatile defender. Will be able to guard at all levels in the NBA. Could stand to add some lower body strength to hang with guys like Joel Embiid at center, but he’s capable on the perimeter and in the post. He uses his long wingspan (7’1”) for his 6’9” frame extremely well. I think he’s the best shot blocker in the entire class. Along with that, he’s terrific in help defense. Understands what the offense is trying to do, and he’s one step ahead.
- Active rebounder. He works hard to gain positioning on the glass, especially offensively, and hustles to the ball from there. Projects as a near double-digit rebound guy in the NBA, with a couple of those coming on the offensive glass.
- Elite pick-and-roll man. He’s a terrific screener and understands spots to get to in order to be available on a pass. If he can develop some kind of jump shot, he’s going to be deadly in the pick-and-roll/pick-and-pop game.
- Developing inside game. I would consider Okongwu to be a good, not great post player right now. Understands positioning really well, and his footwork is terrific. I would like to see him continue to develop this aspect of his game, especially passing out of the post, as he can get tunnel vision down low at times.
- Nimble for his height and weight. Okongwu looks surprisingly big on the floor at his 6’9” height, but he still plays with great explosiveness and athleticism. This is a big reason why he’s so dangerous on the defensive side of the ball and why he’s so dynamic in the pick-and-roll offensively.
- Inconsistent shooter. Simply put, Okongwu did not venture outside the paint for many shots in college. He has moments where he will jump into catches off the pass, which can lead to some awkward footwork on jump shots. His mechanics don’t particularly stand out. Theoretically, there’s no core issues with his shot form. With that being said, it’s not the smoothest motion I’ve seen either. However, his touch around the rim and 72% shooting from the free-throw line offer a glimmer of optimism that he can develop some kind of mid-range and three-point shot.
- Bites and gambles on defense. Okongwu is going to need to learn to stay down, or NBA bigs will tear him apart in the post with an array of fakes and spins. Additionally, Okongwu can get caught playing too tall defensively. He occasionally gets caught too upright, allowing guys to overpower him down low.
- Overall passing game. While he made some sneaky good passes at USC, I think there is room for growth. He got caught too focused on putting his head down and scoring at times last season, failing to recognize what was happening around him. Again, he flashed moments of passing out of the post, so I think he will develop into a nice post passer, but it’s not where it needs to be yet.
- Okongwu has the talent and abilities to be a great fit in the modern NBA. I like his all-around abilities on the defensive side of the ball, along with his dynamic rebounding and pick-and-roll game. I think he is going to be an All-Star caliber player at the next level, with the chance to be a great second piece on a Championship team if the jump shot comes around, and I think it will.
6. James Wiseman, 19, Big, Memphis
- Explosive and fast in transition. Long strides and aggressive running the court. Looks like a freight train coming through the lane.
- Touch from the free-throw line. Mechanics are there to be a mid-range shooter. Wiseman’s dominance in the NBA could depend on how far he can extend his range.
- Attacks the offensive glass. Understands positioning. Always seems to be in the right spot.
- Effective with a fadeaway out of the post. Needs to develop more options off the block, but he has potential to be a great low post scorer.
- Lob threat off the roll.
- High floor. Wiseman is going to be an NBA-caliber starter. The question will be can he develop into an All-Star and All-NBA talent. At the very least, Wiseman will be dominant in the paint and as a pick-and-roll five at the next level.
- Don’t see a lot of face-up potential in his game. Doesn’t put the ball on the floor a lot facing up defenders, which doesn’t necessarily need to be his game, but many modern centers have this ability.
- Lacks playmaking upside. Wired to score, not pass. Could be problematic when facing double teams.
- Needs to be more aware and patient on defense. He likes to hunt blocks. Could get hit with a lot of backside shovel passes early in his career.
- Wouldn’t hurt his game to develop some sort of right hand. Right now, he’s very left heavy, no matter what side of the rim he’s on.
- The NBA game is going to be fast for him right out of the gate. Feels like he takes an extra second to process the game, which could mean for some bad mistakes early in his career, especially in team defense.
- I like James Wiseman a lot, and I think he is one of the safest picks at the top of the draft in a year where there are a lot of question marks. Wiseman is going to make someone very happy right away with his ability to rebound and play inside. His development and potential will depend on how he develops as a shooter and a playmaker, which I have concerns about.
7. Kira Lewis Jr., 19, Guard, Alabama
- Quick. Uses his speed and acceleration to get to his spots. Will eat alive any big that tries to switch out onto him. If the big floats back being worried about his speed, he will knock down the shot. If the big hangs up close worried about the shot, he will blow by them with ease.
- He doesn’t possess an overly complicated handle. Using simple crossover moves and changes speed very well. Likes to use a hesitation move into a pull-up or drive. He keeps the defense guessing and sets up his moves very nicely.
- Solid shooter. Lewis shot 36.6% from three in his second season at Alabama. He’s comfortable shooting off the dribble, but excels in catch-and-shoot scenarios. Terrific at relocating and moving without the ball to get into high leverage positions.
- Developing passer. Doesn’t look extremely comfortable making higher level passes, but showed flashes of that ability. Showed great passing progression from year one to year two at Alabama. While I think he projects as a plus-passing prospect down the line, he will always be able to make the necessary read.
- Dangerous in transition. For a lot of guys with Lewis’ speed, they play hectic and out of control. While Lewis can do that at times, for the most part, he’s under control. He constantly has defenders reeling in transition. While he doesn’t have explosive leaping ability like Westbrook, he reminds me of Russ in transition with the way he just gets it and runs.
- Good on-ball defense. Moves his feet well and uses his quickness to disrupt passing lanes without much risk. Understands defensive schemes and is able to help off the ball as well.
- Size and weight. Lewis is practically a one, maybe two position defender right now. He gets overpowered by bigger guards and virtually has no switching capabilities. His size can also be problematic when fighting through screens. There’s no doubt that Lewis plays hard and does his best to navigate screens, but when bigs are able to get a body on him, it doesn’t go well. Offensively, the slight frame hurts Lewis’ ability to finish through contact. On top of that, he doesn’t have a great floater game to make up for it. Lewis shot under 40% on floaters at Alabama and will need to develop this part of the game, especially since he doesn’t project as a plus-finisher against contact.
- I think Lewis will need some time. His shot and speed will play in the NBA, and I think he has the potential to be very productive at the NBA level. However, I think he needs to put on weight, otherwise he’s going to be hard to put on the court defensively when the other team isn’t playing a small guard. The intangibles are there, and I think he has room to develop his frame, but it’s going to take time.
- As I just said, I like Lewis Jr. as a prospect. I think he possesses unique abilities that don’t come around everyday. He has some of the top speed for a guard in recent memory, and speed kills in the NBA. I think he projects nicely to a Dennis Schröder type player with more shot-making upside. If he can fill out his frame and stay on the court defensively against bigger guards, there’s something there.
8. Patrick Williams, 19, Wing, Florida State
- Very smart defender. Can make all the necessary defensive reads. Seems like he sees everything coming before the offense does. Aggressive off-ball defender which can get him into trouble at times, but it also gets him plenty of steals.
- Aggressive rebounder. Plays the game with a passion. See ball, get ball mentality.
- Projects as a good NBA shooter. Still developing from three, but his consistent mid-range shot and terrific free-throw percentage give him the capabilities. He doesn’t have any mechanical flaws, and his shot has terrific arc.
- Showed plenty of flashes of a dribble pull-up game. Loved to go into a pull-up moving to his right, and he was effective doing so. This translated into some nice face-up scenarios as well. Smooth touch on these shots will keep defenses honest and makes him viable to be a good three-point shooter.
- Quick and decisive off the catch. He is always thinking ahead, and he knows what he’s going to do right when he gets the ball. Loves to catch and rip to the hoop on catches behind the arc. Also showed flashes as a sneaky playmaker in these scenarios. Needs to improve upon his turnover rate, but off-hand rocket passes aren’t made by somebody who doesn’t know how to pass.
- Unseen. For whatever reason, Florida State didn’t unleash Williams. He played just 22.5 minutes per game and made zero starts. It’s possible with more consistent time on the court that he will grow even faster. The potential is there, he just needs playing time.
- Shot motion needs to get quicker on the catch-and-shoot. It was clear in his film that Williams was fairly new at taking catch-and-shoot triples. He would take too much time to load it up. Might be okay as a stretch four with players sagging off, but as he develops into a good three-point shooter, teams will give him less space, and he’ll need to get it up quicker.
- On-ball defense. While Williams understands defensive positioning extremely well, he struggles on the ball, particularly against quicker, more versatile wings. Gets caught flat-footed and is heavy on his feet. It’s not for a lack of effort, as he’s always down in his stance. He simply doesn’t have the athleticism to guard quicker wings at this point in his career.
- Searches for the home run play on defense. Gambles on a lot of passes and has a tendency to get caught backdoor with simple pass fakes. Needs to rein it in and make the smart play over the flashy one.
- It’s easy to see why Williams is a late draft riser. He understands the game and has a lot of skills to build upon. I don’t see any elite skills that will turn Williams into a main option for a team, but I think he has third option on a Championship team upside. He’s a smart player that plays hard defensively. I think he will be better suited at the four in the NBA to prevent more situations with him on the ball against quicker wings. He will have no problem fitting into any NBA system, and his upside as a shooter and already terrific rebounding makes him an intriguing prospect.
9. Aaron Nesmith, 21, Wing, Vanderbilt
- Shooting. Simply put, Nesmith is a flamethrower. He shot 52.2% from three for Vanderbilt last season on a total of 115 attempts. That number isn’t because he got hot in a few games either. He only made less than two threes in two of the fourteen games he played last season. He is a consistent, deadly shooter from deep.
- Dynamic off-ball player. Nesmith is comfortable coming around off-ball screens and quickly hitting shots. Vanderbilt constantly ran pindown action for Nesmith, and he capitalized. There is no doubt about his shot translating to the next level. Furthermore, he’s comfortable shooting on flybys as well. When defenders leave their feet to contest a catch-and-shoot jumper, he simply puts the ball on the floor and casually knocks down a step-back. Along with the step-back, Nesmith is comfortable with pull-up shots and side-step shots. He can quite literally do it all when it comes to shooting.
- Off-back visibility. Nesmith is always active on the offensive end. He is constantly relocating and putting himself in the best lane for a playmaker to find him for an open shot. He will be deadly at the next level if he’s with a team with a dynamic playmaker and spacing.
- Active defender. Uses his frame well on the defensive end. Very instinctual team defender that is constantly in the right spots. Flashed some sneaky rim protection as a wing too. Needs to work on his on-ball defensive skills, but when he got beat, there were times he made up for it with a block.
- Not overly quick in on-ball defense. Uses his frame to cut guys off, but I question his ability to stay in front of NBA talent. He played a lot of shade coverage at Vanderbilt, where he forced a player heavy in one direction. That was designed to the scheme they liked to run, but it’s not commonly seen in the NBA.
- Doesn’t project as much of a playmaker. He showed flashes of great attacking abilities, but it was few and far between. He struggles with his handle and doesn’t possess many creative moves. In a lot of ways, what you see is what you are going to get with his attacking ability. There is upside to finishing around contact if he continues to grow his frame, but I don’t think he will ever become much of a playmaker.
- Despite his terrific shooting, Nesmith struggles to create his own shot outside of escape moves. He’s not a guy that a team can give the ball to and tell him to get them a bucket. He’s very good in his role, but doesn’t give off potential as a great one-on-one shot creator without a better handle and burst.
- Nesmith is the prototypical modern NBA role player. He’s going to space the floor, and he doesn’t need the ball in his hands to make plays. He projects as a great piece alongside ball dominant players. Nesmith knows what his role is, and he excels in it. While the star level potential may be lacking, he showed enough flashes driving to the rim for there to be some hope. He needs to develop his on-ball defense, but in a draft that has a lot of question marks, a team can safely take Nesmith and be more than pleased.
10. Killian Hayes, 19, Guard, International
- Good passer. He has great vision and can make any pass. He tends to be a flashy passer by nature of always behind a step ahead offensively. Can be a high-level playmaker at the next level, passing guys open, and he’s comfortable making one or two-hand passes.
- Great balance and change of pace on the way to the rim. He doesn’t have an incredibly tight handle, but he makes it work, using his size and length to overpower smaller guards on his way to the rim.
- Three-level potential offensively. Very crafty in the paint, and his mid-range pull-up game reminds me a lot of D’Angelo Russell in the way he rises up and sinks rainbows over guys.
- Developing three-point shooter. Hayes showed great potential as a shooter in France, and he even showed off some Harden-esque step-backs, but he will need to become more consistent on the catch at the next level. All signs point to him being a solid shooter though. With great balance, footwork, and form, he has all the tools to be a plus shooter in the NBA.
- Sneaky speed. While Hayes doesn’t play with a lot of speed overall, he can turn it up when he needs to in transition. Feels like a very methodical player overall, but I was surprised with some burst he showed in the open court.
- Being a flashy passer can get him in trouble. Has a tendency to think he can make every pass, even if a real passing lane isn’t there. This leads to some costly turnovers, which he will need to improve upon.
- Left-hand dominant. Hayes practically doesn’t have a right-hand. It hasn’t gotten him into too much trouble to this point, but NBA teams will try to exploit that. Needs to develop into a better dribbler going to his right and learn to finish better on the right side of the rim.
- Needs to be sharper defensively. Hayes’ size and length gives him intriguing upside as a defender, but he was caught out of position a lot in France. Likes to sag way off his man, which can help at times with help defense, but it left him scrambling and the player he was guarding took advantage.
- I understand the hype surrounding Killian Hayes by some people. He shows so many flashes of James Harden and Manu Ginobili type play. I don’t ever see him getting to that level, but I think he will have a nice career. It will be extremely important for Hayes to continue to develop his shot, and I think his potential rests in the improvements he’s able to make with his handle and right hand. There’s a lot of things to like, and he’s a guy that teams will be swinging for the fence for, especially in this class.
11. Tyrese Haliburton, 20, Guard, Iowa State
- Creative playmaker. He has great vision and is very decisive as a decision maker. The game won’t be too fast for him. His basketball IQ is high, and he understands what is going around him on the court. While he shows off flashy playmaking ability, I don’t think his handle will allow him to be a primary playmaker. I think his best role will be a secondary playmaker when the ball is kicked out to him on the perimeter.
- Good shooter despite a quirky release. His shooting numbers indicate that Haliburton’s shot will translate at the next level. He shot 42.6% from three in his two-year career at Iowa State. I think he will struggle more in the NBA with the slower release as defenders close out quicker. He would benefit going through slight changes to speed up the motion.
- Fluid. Haliburton has the ability to change speeds and get to different levels offensively. He constantly twists and maneuvers his frame around defenders when driving. He’s good at adjusting mid-air when contested by a shot blocker, but the strength needs to improve.
- Great length for a guard. He has a 6’8” wingspan, standing at 6’5”. Uses this length to his advantage on the defensive side of the ball. He has great instincts and is very disruptive getting into passing lanes.
- Lack of strength. He’s still young, and I’m confident he will grow into his frame, but Haliburton is currently not the best finishing through contact. Adding strength would allow him to use his fluidity at the rim more to his advantage. While his fluidity is still a major upside, he can still get knocked off his spot on the way to the rim rather easily.
- Struggles navigating screens on defense. Gets knocked off his man by the big often, and he struggles staying attached in on-ball defense. Needs to get down in his stance and stay on his toes.
- Awkward shot motion. Haliburton’s shot is unconventional. This hasn’t hurt him in college, but with more athletic and longer defenders in the NBA, I think he will struggle in the shooting department to start his career. He needs to speed up his release. Particularly in off the dribble situations, I think Haliburton will struggle at the next level if he doesn’t tweak his form. He will need to be a threat shooting off the bounce if he wants to fully maximize his secondary playmaking abilities.
- Defensive discipline. While Haliburton possesses a lot of good defensive intuitions for getting in passing lanes, he might gamble too often. He needs to stay down, as he got caught with a lot of fakes at the college level. Balance will be key defensively so Haliburton is not lunging for haywire passes and shots.
- There is a lot to like about Haliburton’s game. He doesn’t have any major weaknesses where a team will see him as a boom or bust potential guy. He is solid in a lot of areas, and that can be valuable in the modern NBA. However, I don’t see room for Haliburton to grow into an All-Star level talent. I think he will struggle more as a shooter in the NBA than he did in college, and that will have a negative impact on his playmaking abilities. Haliburton will be able to play at the next level and be a good contributor on a winning team, but I think he’s closer to a fifth or sixth guy on a good team, rather than a second or third.
12. Obi Toppin, 22, Big, Dayton
- Explosive athlete. He jumps out of the gym. There’s no other way to put it. Throw on his dunk highlights and your jaw will drop. He hangs in the air with ease and has some of the best in-game dunks I’ve ever seen for a guy with his size. Toppin is great in the pick-and-roll, especially as a lob threat.
- Developing shooter. Toppin’s shooting will play a major factor in what his role and development can be in the NBA. He has a good shot motion, and I think it will transition just fine to the NBA. In his first year at Dayton, Toppin attempted just 21 threes on the season, making 11. Last year, that number jumped up to 82 attempts and 32 makes. While it’s a relatively small sample size, his 70% shooting from the free-throw line suggests that he will at least be able to make defenders respect his shot from deep.
- Transition ability. Along with running the floor extremely well for a big, Toppin is effective as a ball handler in transition. While his handle alone is nothing to write home about, he constantly takes the ball up the court off his own rebound, often with good results. He’s not overly quick, but his sheer size makes it tough on retreating defenses.
- Solid passer. With his 20 points Toppin averaged per game last season, he also added in 2.2 assists per contest. It may not seem like a lot, but Toppin is a very capable passer. He made teams pay whenever they sent a double in his direction. He’s an effective passer out of the post, along with short dribble situations.
- Overall, Toppin is an extremely efficient offensive talent. He’s dynamic on that end of the court and doesn’t make a lot of mistakes. He will be effective as a roll man, out of the post (would benefit from developing more than a right jump hook), in dribble handoff situations, and as a shooter. His 69.8% mark on two-point field goals last season ranked among the best in all of college. There’s no doubting his offensive talent.
- Defense. Can I just say defense and move on? No? Okay, well it’s not pretty. Toppin is constantly caught out of position and lacks defensive IQ. He reacts to plays on defense very slow, which will get him eaten alive in the NBA. Additionally, he plays very heavy-footed when defending on the ball. Instead of sliding his feet, it looks like Toppin jumps around, which makes him very prone to even basic crossover moves.
- Age. I always have a hard time with the notion of a 22-year-old not being able to develop, but with where Toppin’s game is on the defensive side of the ball, it’s hard to see him getting significantly better on that end of the court to become a high level guy in the NBA. The offense will play, and he will be a strong Rookie of the Year candidate because of that, but he has a long way to go defensively, and I question how playable he will be if he doesn’t make quick strides on that end.
- Length. Despite standing at 6’11”, Toppin has just a 6’9” wingspan. He has the ability to be a good shot blocker in the NBA with his leaping ability, but his length can give him trouble when guarding more post dominant players. Toppin will get mauled in the paint against NBA talent.
- I want to like Obi Toppin more than I can. If we could rank players solely on offensive talent, he would be in the top three. Unfortunately, the NBA is a two-way game. Toppin’s offensive abilities will put him in the Rookie of the Year mix and make him a constant threat throughout his career. Unfortunately, I think his defense is going to make him unplayable at times, especially down the stretch when his team needs to get a stop. If Toppin could land on a high-IQ defensive team, it would profoundly increase his value, but great defensive teams don’t exist in the range where Toppin will be selected. So, while Toppin will be a fun player to watch and follow, he would have to make inconceivable strides defensively, and quick, before he could become an All-Star level player.
13. Tyrese Maxey, 20, Guard, Kentucky
- Great balance and confidence in his shot. Looks comfortable pulling the trigger from anywhere. Wasn’t consistent with the results in college, but it’s a form that should be able to develop at the NBA level. If there’s one possible issue with the shot, it’s the low release point, which could cause some worry against NBA defenders.
- Very quick elevation off the dribble. He has the ability to rise quickly for jumpers when driving to the rim. Will make it hard for even longer defenders to contest.
- Good finisher. Embraces contact on the way to the rim and goes through it. He can get out of control and force shots at the rim at times, but he also possesses a nice floater game to play off his finishing. Comfortable finishing with his right or left hand.
- Dynamic defender. Very quick reactions and stays in front of his guy. Stays under control and doesn’t gamble too much. Ability to torque his body helps him get through screens. He simply frustrates guys, on and off the ball.
- Lacks elite burst and quickness when trying to create shots. This causes him to settle for a lot of tough shots. His quick elevation helps with this, but I think he will struggle getting by guys at the next level on a consistent basis. His handle isn’t the most impressive in the class either, which will make it tough for him at the next level.
- Passing ability. Maxey commands a ton of attention on his way to the rim, but he too often doesn’t make the right read. He is wired to score and missed a lot of open shooters and big men when he drew the attention of more than one defender.
- Maxey will be best as a secondary scorer, likely best suited off the bench. He has the defense and some offensive traits to make it at the next level, but I don’t see him progressing into the main playmaker on a team. I don’t think he’s a guy that a team will give the keys to their offense to. Rather, he will fit in better next to other offensive guards who can open up space for Maxey to attack late in the clock. Maxey’s style of play will still be valuable at the NBA level, especially since he can guard an opposing team’s best guard.
14. Tyrell Terry, 20, Guard, Stanford
- Menace from behind the arc. Quick release and comfortable pulling the trigger from anywhere. Shoots in a variety of ways too: off the catch, off the dribble, and off screens. One of the best shooters in the entire draft. He’s not a big player by any means, standing at 6’2” and 160 pounds, but that doesn’t seem to impact his finishing abilities all that much. Shot over 60% at the rim at Stanford. I could see him having a bit more difficulty against NBA size, but the film backs him up as a finisher. Along with the shooting and finishing, he’s a solid passer. Flashes on film at times to project as a plus passer, but he will always hit the open man. Defensively, he’s a high IQ guy. He loves to compete, and he understands how to be in a good position. However, his size gets him in trouble. Teams will attack Terry defensively in the pick-and-roll and with bigger guards. I think he’s a guy that’s going to need to try and be hidden defensively, especially against bigger guys, and even though he would be hidden, he will make plays as an off-ball defender. Finally, while he’s an elite shooter offensively and fairly solid in other categories, there’s room to improve as a playmaker and finishing. I think Terry is an underrated guy in this class with a lot of upside. I worry about his size, but elite shooting, high IQ, and a motor with many intangibles mixed in is hard to find at any position.
15. Deni Avdija, 19, Wing, International
- Secondary playmaker. For a guy with Avdija’s size, he is a good playmaker. While I don’t ever see him as a primary All-Star level playmaker for a team, he can fit in next to stars and provide playmaking from the post and off the dribble. He has good, but not great court vision, which will be a common theme for his game. Avdija is good at a lot of things, but questions remain on if he will ever excel at any of them.
- Cutting. If there is something that Avdija already does at perhaps an above average level, it’s cutting. Avdija is always finding unique ways to make himself available to teammates, and if defenders are caught sleeping, he will make them pay.
- Drive. The passion is not lacking from the Euroleague prospect. Avdija is constantly looking to find ways to improve his game, which can take a guy a long way. He competes on both ends of the floor and is not afraid to mix it up.
- Good team defender. While his individual defensive skills leave a lot to desire, Avdija constantly finds himself in the right spot on defense. He has a great defensive IQ and will fit into any defensive scheme seamlessly.
- While Avdija projects as a good secondary playmaker in the NBA, I don’t ever see him becoming the primary playmaker. Avdija can get out of control at times and with average handles, he has a hard time shaking versatile defenders. While he uses his frame to his advantage on smaller defenders, I think Avdija is going to struggle getting past long, versatile NBA defenders. He lacks great quickness and speed to blow past bigger defenders, and while his change of speed with the ball is good, his ball handling won’t allow him to be a primary option in the NBA.
- Shooting. He has solid mechanics and a fluid motion on the way up with his shot, but the numbers aren’t there. For a lot of prospects, I look at shot motions and even if the three-point percentage isn’t there, I can see potential growth from deep. With Avdija, it’s hard to see expansive growth from long range. He has shot just 56% from the free-throw line since 2017, and it’s hard to see that poor of a shooter from the line develop into a consistent guy from behind the arc. While I do think Avdija will fare alright in catch-and-shoot situations, I don’t think he will see as many of those situations in the NBA. The NBA plays faster, and the defenders are on another level. Avdija didn’t do well in shooting off the dribble or shooting on relocation overseas, and I think he will struggle to find that groove in the NBA.
- Despite being a good team defender, Avdija lacks the quickness to guard smaller players on the perimeter. He competes no matter what on the defensive side of the ball, but is often caught chasing his guy, as he struggles navigating screens and staying with more explosive players. Unfortunately, I don’t see a great future as an inside defender for Avdija either. His 6’9” wingspan doesn’t project great as a rim defender and savvy post players are going to get theirs on the block.
- Scouts and people around the media are higher on Avdija than I am. In my eyes, I see a guy that is good at a handful of things, but not great at anything. He can be a glue type player and be an efficient option as a potential role player. I think he will be able to handle some secondary playmaking responsibilities, but his quickness and wiggle give me pause about his ability to be a playmaker in the NBA the way he was overseas. Finally, while he’s a good team defender, I think he’s still a guy opposing teams will attack on the defensive side of the ball. Avdija lacks the speed and ability to get through screens to be anything other than a below average on-ball defender. At the end of the day, by no means do I think Avdija will completely flop in the NBA, but I don’t see him becoming anything more than a piece.
16. Saddiq Bey, 21, Wing, Villanova
- Impactful 3-and-D wing that does a lot of the little things. Bey is a very versatile defender. Has the quickness and size to guard multiple positions, which makes him very switchable. The steal numbers aren’t overly impressive, but that’s more a result of Bey staying in good position rather than gambling. He’s a rock solid guy at every level defensively, staying with guys on the outside, and holding his own contesting shots at the rim with verticality. Offensively, Bey has a very quick release. He was a great shooter at Villanova, despite that awkward release in front of his body. Bey is a good shooter off the catch and in one-dribble situations. He lacks the upside as a shot-creator, lacking explosion. While he’s improved at getting to the basket recently, his small strides on the way to the rim allowed college defenders to cut him off quickly, and that won’t change in the NBA. He struggles creating much space on his own and will be best-suited as an off-ball shooter, with some secondary playmaking upside. He doesn’t force anything offensively. Very smart player that will make the extra pass and do anything to help his team win. I think Bey, like many other prospects in this class will find a great role in the NBA. Every team needs a guy that consistently defends and knocks down shots.
17. Precious Achiuwa, 21, Wing, Memphis
- As an energetic, athletic forward, Achiuwa has a lot of raw capabilities that will be playable in the NBA. Standing at 6’9”, his 7’2” wingspan makes him extremely dynamic defensively. He has work to do guarding on-ball, as he can occasionally get caught flat footed, or be too giddy on his feet. However, his long frame allows him to be tough in the paint defensively. He does a good job of staying vertical, and he’s a very difficult player to finish around. Offensively, Achiuwa is very explosive, especially rolling to the rim and running the wing on the fastbreak. He has a quick first step and a solid handle at his size. Good blend of size and quickness. While he appears to have a smooth release on shots, his jumper is very inconsistent. Additionally, he needs to slow down and not think so much offensively. He tries to make the flashy, more difficult play rather than just swinging the ball to an open shooter. Achiuwa has some good qualities that teams will try to maximize. I foresee him as an energetic bench threat in the right system.
18. Isaac Okoro, 19, Wing, Auburn
- Versatile defender that usually guarded the opposing team’s best player. He has the ability to defend guards and forwards. Very smart defender who doesn’t take a lot of risks, which is why his steal and block numbers aren’t high. However, less risks allow him to stay out of foul trouble, and he is hardly ever caught out of position.
- Great finisher on either side of the rim. Doesn’t shy away from contact and usually welcomes it on the way to the rim. Uses his frame to bully his way into the paint against smaller defenders, which is needed because he lacks a great first step.
- Explosive jumper and great team player. Okoro can jump, and he might be considered one of the better dunkers in the class. Along with that, he’s very team centered. Okoro plays hard on both ends of the floor. Along with his on-ball defensive capabilities, Okoro is a high-IQ defender that understands positioning and rotates with a purpose.
- Not a great shooter. Shot just 28.6% from three, and his mechanics can be all over the place. When everything is fluid, his shot garner’s some potential. The problem is that his shot doesn’t look the same very often. He has times with a different release point, usually related to elbow flare and a slight hitch. His 67% from the free-throw line doesn’t make things much better. He was a very inconsistent shooter from the charity stripe, having eight games where he shot 50% or lower from the line.
- Doesn’t have a great first step. While his handle isn’t terrible, Okoro usually relies on one or two moves. He lacks quickness when trying to beat his man off the dribble. His most success driving to the rim in college came against smaller defenders where he got into their body and went through them. He won’t be able to do that as much against NBA defenders. Finally, he doesn’t project as a future shot creator. Okoro lacks a variety of moves offensively, and I think it’s going to be tough to develop those needed moves, along with the adjustments he needs to make to his shot.
- Okoro projects as a solid defender at the next level. His intellectual feel for the game and footwork on that side of the ball will play. However, I doubt his offensive ability in the NBA. I think Okoro has a lot of work to do to become even an average offensive guy at the next level. His relatively basic moves on the way into the lane, along with the lack of burst with the ball makes me question his ability to even translate some of his college offensive game to the pros. Along with that, his shooting has a long way to go. I think there is too much to improve on for Okoro to have a meaningful impact offensively. But, if a team is simply looking for a versatile defender, Okoro is their guy.
19. R.J. Hampton, 19, Guard, International
- An explosive leaper who likes to fly in transition. He gets the ball and goes. Very fast and creates havoc pushing the ball in transition. He also changes levels and speed on the way to the rim. While he’s not the biggest player, he’s able to get by guys with a variety of moves. Might struggle at the next level if teams start sagging off him. Lot of defenders overseas played him tight, and his jump shot is very inconsistent with some footwork issues. NBA teams will adjust to that and give him space to shoot. Loves a little lean back move that he rides into exploding past defenders. His leaping ability allows him to finish over bigger defenders. Hampton is not the strongest guy, even for his size. While his athleticism cancels some of that out in terms of finishing through contact, it wouldn’t hurt him to add some weight. Defensively, he has a long way to go. In a preseason game against the Memphis Grizzlies last year, Tyus Jones and Ja Morant consistently beat him off the dribble. He has slow feet that get extremely heavy at times. Finally, his playmaking skills leave a lot to be desired. While he showed flashes of making good passes, more often than not, his passes were off target and gave away his passes too easily with his eyes. I think Hampton is still a very raw talent. He’s worth a shot in the back half of the first-round for a team with a good development system. However, I think a lot of his potential rides on developing a jumper, otherwise his other strengths will be cancelled out.
20. Aleksej Pokusevski, 18, Big, International
- One of the draft’s biggest question marks. An extremely raw, 18-year-old prospect with an intriguing skillset. I mean, he’s a seven-footer with a good handle, playmaking ability, and a jumper that will continue to develop. Although he’s 7’0” tall, he plays as a perimeter player. Doesn’t do much in the post despite his size, and he won’t be able to guard NBA centers. He’s an inconsistent player, which makes sense for his age, but the raw talent is there. I think he’s a boom-or-bust type player. If it works out for Pokusevski, he’s going to make someone really happy, if not, a team took a swing, and it didn’t work out.
21. Jalen Smith, 20, Big, Maryland
- Talented shooter. Almost shoots like a guard, which is rare for his size. He’s very versatile offensively, scoring in many different ways. Defensively, he competes. Struggles guarding the pick-and-roll because of foot speed moving laterally. Good rebounder and shot blocker, which should translate in the NBA. Overall, I think Smith will be a solid role player in the NBA. His shot will play. He’s not much of a passer and doesn’t project as a high-upside guy, but I think he has a solid floor for a role player.
22. Nico Mannion, 19, Guard, Arizona
- Great shot creator and maker that is a fantastic passer. Comfortable shooting off screens and off the dribble. Very high IQ passer that sees the floor well and makes decisive decisions. While he has good, projectable defensive traits, his lack of size and length will make him an easy target to attack for other teams. He has a negative wingspan, even at his height. However, a top passing prospect that can shoot will have a place in the league.
23. Josh Green, 20, Wing, Arizona
- 3-and-D wing that will understand and play within his role at the next level. Has good touch on his shot, but doesn’t project as a guy that will create his own shots. Solid on and off-ball defender. Works hard and has the quickness to defend guards, and the length (6’10” wingspan) to defend bigger guys. Any team that is looking for a consistent role player should take a long look at Green.
24. Ty-Shon Alexander, 22, Guard, Creighton
25. Tre Jones, 20, Guard, Duke
26. Desmond Bane, 22, Wing, TCU
- Great shooter. Odd looking release, but nothing fundamentally wrong with it. If we have to knit pick, he could grow even more as a shooter without bringing the ball so far down on the load up. I think keeping the ball higher would give him a much quicker release, making him even more deadly.
- Comfortable coming off screens. Moves well without the ball and makes himself available to teammates. Shot well every year at TCU, so I would be surprised if this didn’t translate.
- Ability to shoot and attack on relocation attempts. If he gets guys to fly by on the initial spot-up, he’s comfortable putting the ball on the deck and using a floater or finishing at the rim, along with a quick side dribble for a triple.
- Great positional defender. Works hard and stays down in his stance. Will always be in the right position and won’t put his team at a disadvantage gambling for passes or falling for pump fakes.
- Sneaky passer if his shot isn’t there. Makes the right read, and he’s comfortable flinging one or two-handed passes. Won’t ever be a primary playmaker, but his passing IQ is a big plus for someone that knocks down triples like Bane does.
- Comfortable shooting off the dribble, but doesn’t project much more upside in this area.. I think he projects as a spot-up shooter with the ability to hit off pindown action. I don’t think his handle and lack of quickness will allow him to ever become much of a shot creator at the next level.
- Small wingspan for his height. Not a very explosive player, which hinders his finishing ability, although he finished surprisingly well at TCU.
- Lack of quickness limits his upside as an on-ball defender at the next level. He moves his feet, but not particularly quick, which won’t allow him to become a shutdown on-ball defender.
- Upside. At 22-years-old, I don’t see much room for growth from Bane. Not necessarily because of his age, but the areas he could stand to improve upon are a lot of physical attributes.
- Bane was a solid college player, and I think he can find a role in the NBA as a shooter and solid team defender, but I don’t think he projects as anything more than that. Bane will need to find his role on a team and fill it. I think he can be a dangerous second unit guy if he buys in and focuses on shooting and being solid defensively.
27. Cassius Stanley, 21, Wing, Duke
- An absolutely ridiculous athlete that will be a dunk contest must. He’s a massive threat in transition, throwing down lobs left and right. Stanley is also good on catch-and-shoot threes. He shot 43.8% on them at Duke, but he struggles shooting off the dribble. He doesn’t have a good handle and lacks size and length. His athleticism tends to hide some more underlying deficiencies. Additionally, Stanley gets tunnel vision on the way to the rim. He gets the itch to just score, and he’s not a good passer. Doesn’t like to make the easy plays. Defensively, he’s good at moving his feet when he’s in a stance. However, he’s a very aggressive closeout guy, and that usually allows guys to easily blow past him on the catch. Overall, it’s going to take some growth at the next level, but maybe a team thinks they can utilize his athleticism to their advantage.
28. Jaden McDaniels, 20, Wing, Washington
- Athletic wing that has a lot of raw abilities. Has a smooth jumper, and his handle is underrated. Will pull-up from anywhere and has multiple ways to get into his shot. Although he has a relatively good handle, he’s a poor passer and doesn’t fare well at the rim. He needs to add weight to his frame to be able to finish around NBA defenders. For a developmental team looking to tap into some raw abilities, McDaniels fits the profile (looking at you Denver).
29. Cassius Winston, 22, Guard, Michigan State
30. Devon Dotson, 21, Guard, Kansas
31. Leandro Bolmaro, 20, Guard, International
- Good passer with a struggling jumper. One of the better playmakers in the entire draft as he’s able to make reads and passes not many other people can. Comfortable passing with either hand. While he has a good in-between game with floaters, his jump shot is going to prevent him from being anything more than a passer that struggles to score.
32. Robert Woodard II, 21, Wing, Mississippi State
- Active and solid defender. Plays with passion and cares about winning. While he doesn’t have the smoothest shot on the planet, it improved a lot from his first to second year at Mississippi State. I am still concerned about his shot at the next level, especially with a 64% free-throw percentage. While he’s a good passer, he lacks the quickness and ball handling to do much as a playmaker at the next level. Woodard is going to give it his all in the NBA and while he has some translatable skills, I don’t see much here.
33. Isaiah Stewart, 19, Big, Washington
34. Theo Maledon, 19, Guard, International
35. Jahmi’us Ramsey, 19, Guard, Texas Tech
36. Malachi Flynn, 22, Guard, San Diego State
37. Isaiah Joe, 21, Guard, Arkansas
- Versatile three-point threat without much else. He possesses a great shot, despite his average percentage at the college level. Terrific shooter off the dribble, and he has a quick trigger in catch-and-shoot scenarios. Other than his shot, he has some defensive traits that may translate to the NBA with his work ethic, but he’s not an overly big guy, which is a common theme throughout this entire class. His shot should play at the next level if he can get it to a more consistent level.
38. Zeke Nnaji, 19, Big, Arizona
39. Paul Reed, 21, Big, DePaul
- Athletic big that projects as a solid defender at the next level. Uses his athleticism to his advantage blocking shots and rebounding. Solid team defender as well, understanding positioning and rotating well for his size. Offensively, there’s much more to be desired. He’s a good finisher on either side of the rim, but doesn’t do much else. Doesn’t have a good shot, and his form doesn’t present much hope that one will develop. I’m not sure I see a great fit for Reed in the modern NBA, but his defense offers some intrigue.