With Thursday’s draft lottery complete and the top four picks decided, and the Minnesota Timberwolves coming away the big winners, here is how we see things playing out, with a little less than two months before the October 16th NBA draft.
1. Minnesota TimberwolvesAnthony Edwards
Edwards has been compared by some scouts to a 6-foot-6 LeBron, due to his amazing physicality and explosiveness at the guard position. He is one of the most physically dominant guards to play at the NCAA level in years. He reminds of Dwyane Wade with his relentless motor, diverse skill set and elite athleticism. He can legitimately become a point guard at the next level as he shows tremendous creativity, vision and the ability to create offense for teammates. There are still some areas of his game that he needs to work on, namely consistency. Unlike a number of other top prospects, he actually played the entire season, and benefited by developing with close to a full year of games. Interesting, Edwards two favorite players happen to be the two that he compares most closely to in Wade and Victor Oladipo.
Why the Timberwolves take Anthony Edwards: The Timberwolves added a 2-guard in last year’s lottery with the trade of Dario Saric to move up and select Jarrett Culver at 7. Despite that, it’s unlikely that having Culver and Josh Okogie on the roster would dissuade them from taking Edwards, if they believe he’s the top prospect, but they could be inclined to listen to offers for the pick and explore all options (Ball and Wiseman among others). With an elite center in KAT in the fold, drafting a center makes little sense, especially after moving Andrew Wiggins (and their 2021 first) to acquire DeAngelo Russell in the hopes of pairing him with KAT and finding success in the long term. Edwards would seem to be an ideal third cog to the nucleus. He possesses the best combination of upside and sure fire attributes to stake their future on with the top pick.
NBA Comparison: Dwyane Wade
2. Golden State Warriors
Ball is one of the biggest wildcards and mysteries in this year’s draft. He’s a talent, with one of the highest ceilings of any player available. But the fact that he decided to play in New Zealand and missed a good portion of the season, not to mention the the level of competition, makes him a tough prospect to evaluate. So a team will have to take a bit of a leap of faith with Ball considering he has less of a proven track record than other prospects available. But his ability to facilitate and run an offense as a 6-7 point guard gives him a great deal of intrigue. Unlike his brother Lonzo, LaMelo has a more conventional shooting form. But it’s not exactly conventional, just more so than Lonzo’s. He’s a more outgoing, vocal player, which should also give him a leg up in transitioning to the league. Ball figures to find a spot in the top 5, depending on team need, and a GMs willingness to roll the dice and wait on his talent to develop. There’s always the LaVar factor and the fact that Lonzo didn’t make it with his first team, and there are already rumors that he may not have a long stay ion New Orleans.
Why the Warriors take LaMelo Ball: Considering their roster and window of opportunity, it’s unlikely that the Warriors would take Ball at 2, and there are even reports that he isn’t really one of the players they are targeting. However, there’s an excellent chance that Ball ends up going 2 to another team. Look for the Warriors to shop this pick, either for an established veteran or perhaps move into the 4-8 range to target someone like Obi Toppin or Deni Avdija. There’s also the chance that they move up to one targeting Anthony Edwards, and give the Timberwolves their top 3 protected pick back from the Andrew Wiggins trade. But that seems unlikely for two reasons, first they would be putting added pressure on Edwards taking him one and also giving up an additional first to get him. And second, it probably makes more sense to roll the dice and see if Anthony falls to them, and keep a pick that could end up being in the 4-8 range in a better (2021) draft.
NBA Comparison: Jalen Rose
3. Charlotte HornetsJames Wiseman
Wiseman’s season was cut short first by the NCAA and then by Wiseman himself who followed advice that he was a sure fure top 5 pick (or close), and opted to end his season early. While it would have been nice to see him compete and develop, following the injury to Charles Bassey and the fact that bigmen seem to be the most injury prone of any position, it is difficult to be too critical of the decision. particularly on the heels of the NCAA’s shenanigans. So much for teaching Wiseman a lesson. Wiseman showed surprising skill in the few games that he played, knocking down a few fadeaways and looking competent on the offensive end. But there is still skepticism about just how much offense he’ll bring on a nightly basis at the next level. He developed a bit of a reputation in high school for not having a genuine passion and love for the game. Considering he played so few games at Memphis, that remains a question mark. He’s clearly a specimen type of bigman, drawing comparisons to Dwight Howard and DeAndre Jordan, and is clearly capable of being a difference maker on the defensive end at the next level.
Why the Hornets take James Wiseman: The Hornets have struggled to find a long term answer at the center position for years. And while they could grab a player at any position due to not having a true franchise talent, there’s a good chance that Wiseman has the name brand and athleticism/upside that will make him tough to pass on. He’s one of the most athletic bigmen to enter the league in a number of years (Ayton, JJJ), and would figure to fit in well with the group of guards and wings that they have assembled.
NBA Comparison:: Hassan Whiteside
4. Chicago Bulls
Florida born, and French raised Killian Hayes really exploded this season playing in the German league and has a good chance to go ahead of Deni Avdija and be the top European “raised” International prospect taken. Hayes has excellent size at 6’5 and tremendous quickness, and plays a mature game for his age. He has a good shooting touch, showing quality decision making with the ability to create scoring opportunities and not over-dribble or neglect to involve teammates. His ability to get everyone involved and then look for his own offense when his team needs a basket is a tribute to his basketball IQ and feel for the game.
Why the Bulls take Killian Hayes: The Bulls have not drafted this high in a number of seasons, and while it feels as though they are perpetually in mid lottery purgatory, rebuild mode, they could potentially find a key building block this year at 4. Granted the odds are stacked against them as this is not seen as a very strong draft in the top 5 picks. They should certainly look to draft for value and not for need here. Killian Hayes offers intrigue with his ability to improvise and make those around him better. He has a chance to become their point guard of the future and pair with Coby White and Zach Lavine and improve the Bulls backcourt substantially.
NBA Comparison: Kirk Hinrich
5. Cleveland CavaliersOnyeka Okongwu
Okongwu was one of the biggest breakout freshmen surprises in 2019-20. He’s intriguing because of his potential to impact the game on both ends of the floor. He’s got a massive wingspan and utilizes it well to block shots as well as grab boards and finish plays at the rim. While he doesn’t have the length and height of James Wiseman, there are some that feel that he could challenge to be the first center taken in the 2020 draft. Okongwu proved himself as a legitimate offensive threat through an entire season at the college level and appears to have the higher floor and ceiling as a scorer at the next level. Wiseman is bigger and more of an physical specimen and seen as the player with the greater overall upside, but for today’s NBA, a case can be made that Okongwu is the better prospect due to having a skill set that more closely fits today’s game.
Why the Cavaliers take Onyeka Okongwu: The Cavs may be faced with a decision to take a more NBA ready guy in Toppin, or swing for the fences with upside on a guy like Okongwu. Cleveland is in a position where drafting for long term potential makes the most sense. They are not a team that is currently a playoff contender and building through the draft with upside is their best hope to get back on track. Okongwu has a lower floor than Toppin, but clearly a higher ceiling being close to three years younger.
NBA Comparison: John Collins
6. Atlanta HawksObi Toppin
Toppin is the age of a senior and has become a near consensus top 5 pick on team’s draft boards. He may be older than your average lottery pick, but he’s a physical specimen, capable of highlight plays on a nightly basis. He brings a level of NBA readiness and maturity that few of the other top prospects can match. He may lack the upside of others but he’s a sure thing to be a contributor, giving him a high floor. Toppin has shown solid improvement in his skill level from his freshman season and exhibits the ability to create offense for himself both on the perimeter and in the paint. He figures to be a modern day 4 with the speed to cause mismatches and get by 4s at the next level. His ability to knock down outside shots makes him a good fit in today’s NBA. While he appears to be somewhat stiff in his shoulders and arms, he should be able to add some flexibility at the next level working with trainers on proper lifting and flexibility exercises. Toppin measured 6-8 in shoes with a 6-10.5 wingspan at The Academy in August 2018, so there is some controversy over his wingspan as it has been published as 7-2 in other places.
Why the Hawks take Obi Toppin: Toppin would add athleticism and scoring ability to their frontcourt and they could bump John Collins over to the center position and make Toppin the team’s starting four. Haliburton would also make sense as a complimentary playmaker alongside Trae Young. Avdija is another possibility with his feel for the game and playmaking skills. There’s also the chance that the Hawks and Warriors could swap picks with Atlanta targeting a big like Wiseman or Okongwu at 2, with the Warriors moving down to target Toppin or Avdija, and Atlanta including some assets.
NBA Comparison: Kenyon Martin
7. Detroit PistonsTyrese Haliburton
Haliburton is a true point guard at 6’5, and has shown a lot of physical development in the past year, becoming a real ball hawk and a difficult match up due to his size and speed. He is one of the draft’s wild cards as he’s got tremendous size at the point guard position and shows solid ability to play the position. What makes him a more difficult prospect to evaluate is projecting whether or not he can improve upon his shooting form, which would greatly enhance his ability to create offense for himself. Similar to New Orleans’ point guard Lonzo Ball, Haliburton shoots well when he’s given space, but has a extremely slow release which makes it nearly impossible for him to get a shot off with a defender in front of him. The Iowa State sophomore measured 6’5 with a 6’7.5 wingspan at The Academy in August 2019, giving him solid length.
Why the Pistons take Tyrese Haliburton: The Pistons could go in a number of directions, depending on who falls to them at 7. The draft lottery was not so kind to them, along with the Knicks, as they were jumped by both the Bulls and Hornets, falling from 5 to 7. A wing like Avdija, Vassell or Okoro are all possibilities here, if available, but Haliburton gives them the ability to hand over the keys of the offense, before long, and see if he can develop into an elite facilitator.
NBA Comparison: Lonzo Ball
8. New York KnicksDeni Avdija
Not that he isn’t deserving of his own recognition and hype, but Avdija clearly benefits from the immense success of Luka Doncic. European players are once again in vogue as Doncic has set the world on fire becoming one of the best young players ever, drawing Magic Johnson comparisons, and making many wonder whether he ultimately will surpass Dirk to become the greatest European NBA player ever. Avdija is not Doncic, though he has some Doncic-like qualities with his feel and versatility. He’s similarly not a pure shooter, but he understands how to play the pick and roll game and is a high level competitor. Avdija is back underway in Europe having played a handful of games since late June (with the Israeli league resuming following the COVID-19 stoppage) and started out red hot, especially shooting, but his productivity trailed off some after 5 or so games as the team’s leading scorer.
Why the Knicks take Avdija: More bad news for Knicks fans as the team dropped from 6 to 8 with an unkind draw in the draft lottery. The good news however is that this is a year when the difference between drafting 3 and 8 is not so great. They could easily land a player at eight in this draft that will end up better than a handful of guys taken before him. But then again, it is the Knicks, and developing and keeping talent has proven difficult in recent years. Avdija could be a Danilo Gallinari level player if all goes well. He’s not the shooter of Gallo, but has has more all around skills and playmaking ability.
NBA Comparison: Hedo Turkoglu
9. Washington WizardsDevin Vassell
Vassell didn’t put up huge stats for Florida State, but who does? It seems every year Leonard Hamilton’s team has a balanced and extremely talented group and this year was no different. So perhaps grading on a curve, scoring 12 at FSU is actually like putting up 16-18 for most teams. Vassell is a long, rangy wing with a sweet shooting stroke and the ability to get out on the break and make plays at the rim. he isn’t the strongest athlete, so getting into the weight room and adding core strength will allow him to play more physical and finish plays at the rim. Time is also on Vassell’s side as he will turn 20 in August, showing that his accomplishments in college have come at a young age, and there’s likely a jump in ability left in him.
Why the Wizards take Vassell: The Wiz were able to add a solid piece with Rui Hachimura in the mid lottery last year. They’ll look to add another piece with the ninth pick. Vassell is very similar to former Wizard and current Phoenix Suns wing Kelly Oubre. The Wizards are in need of talent, but are also one of the teams in search of an identity. They need a player that is more pre-packaged than the average team as their player development and culture isn’t considered a strength. Vassell being a sophomore gives him some added experience and maturity, with two college seasons under his belt.
NBA Comparison: Kelly Oubre
10. Phoenix SunsIsaac Okoro
We liken Okoro to a young “Tough Juice”, Caron Butler. He’s not the fastest athlete but has a very physical and bouncy body and really punishes opponents utilizing his powerful frame. He’s a tough nosed competitor and very focused. And never seems to get thrown off his game, maintaining a focus and calmness in all situations. He’s an upside pick as there’s still a lot of development left and he may take a while to realize his talent, especially on the offensive end of the floor. It’s uncertain if he has star ability or will thrive more as a complimentary piece. He figures to find some level of success and not be a complete bust due to his intangibles, but it remains to be seen if he can add the skill level to justify such a high selection.
Why the Suns take Okoro: Phoenix was the revelation of the bubble. Despite winning all eight of their games, they missed out on a playoff game by a hair, or a head butt, depending how you look at it But they gained a lot of momentum, and “respect” as Monty Williams put it, and have a lot of talent and heading into next season. Phoenix’s top player, Devin Booker, plays both guard positions, and with Okoro’s potential as a 2 and 3, there are a lot of positional options,
NBA Comparison: Caron Butler
11. San Antonio SpursPatrick Williams
Williams is a freakishly explosive athlete with great strength. He is an intriguing due to his overall versatility with potential as an outside shooter and ability to play multiple positions. He’s either a big small forward, or a small power forward as he appears to be in the 6’7 range with a 6’11 wingspan. What Williams is missing is consistency and maturity, which is natural in a freshman. He needs to convince teams that he dedicated and willing to put in the work to fulfill his potential. He has the profile of the type of player that a team drafts only to watch him struggle before finally finding himself and seeing his best years come with another team. But if he lands in the right situation, with the right expectations and development, he can ring the bell with his first team.
Why the Spurs take Patrick Williams: San Antonio would be the perfect landing spot for Williams as he’s got lottery talent, but needs the right situation in order to realize his talent. San Antonio is one of the best teams at developing players and could potentially turn Williams into a stud. The Sprus appear to have more talent and depth overall in their back court, so focusing on forwards and bigs would probably make sense if position comes into play. Then again the Spurs are too smart to look for positional need with their first lottery pick in 22 years (Tim Duncan).
NBA Comparison: Eric Paschall
12. Sacramento KingsPrecious Achiuwa
When James Wiseman decided to shut things down for the remainder of the season following his suspension, Achiuwa was able to step into the limelight in Memphis. He is one of the draft’s premiere run/jump athletes and plays with a lot of energy. He has shown flashes of being able to knock down mid-range shots, though he’s still got work to do to become a legitimate scorer / shooter. He brings a lot of versatility with the ability to defend multiple positions and play as both a three and a four. he shot a respectable 32% from three (13 threes made) and averaged a double-double, 15 and 10 and even blocked 1.9 per game.
Why the Kings take Precious Achiuwa: The Kings made some strides this year, but still appear to be a late lottery level team going forward especially considering the amount of talent they must contend with in the Western Conference. Missing out on the Doncic train is not a mistake that you can recover from easily. Their backcourt is solid with Fox, Hield and Bogdanovic, but there’s no generation talent that will uplift the franchise. Marvin Bagley is just another talented big, but not a difference maker. Achiuwa offers the Kings a high energy forward that could crack the rotation in time with his above average athleticism and steady motor.
A Comparison: Gerald Wallace
13 New Orleans Pelicans
Nesmith emerged as one of the most prolific scorers in the country in his sophomore year. He has a little Buddy Hield to his game with his body type, confidence and pure outside shooting ability. He was absolutely deadly shooting from behind the arch in his sophomore year, knocking down 4 threes per game at a highly efficient 52% clip. Granted his 23 ppg average and incredible efficiency was only over 14 games and it’s hard to imagine he could have sustained that for an entire season. But he’s obviously a future weapon in the NBA as a shooting specialist and his 6-10 wingspan gives him added ability to get shots off.
Why the Pelicans take Nesmith: Nesmith fits the mold of a pure shooter and could help to fill the role of JJ Redick should he opt to leave after next season. The objective in New Orleans is to build a winner around Zion Williamson. Redick is hitting the tail end of his career, so the transition to Nesmith being their designated sharpshooter would likely be a streamline transition if he’s able to fulfill his potential. There are some rumors that Lonzo Ball may be heading out of New Orleans and at 13 there figures to be a number of options at the point guard position, should the Pelicans opt for one.
NBA Comparison: Cameron Johnson
14. Boston Celtics (from Memphis)
Maledon is one of the youngest prospects in this year’s draft. He struggled some to advance his skill set this year and is more of a project than player as a lead guard right now. But Maledon shows a lot of upside as an extremely quick and athletic point guard. Like fellow Frenchman, Killian Hayes, he’s a full year younger than American standouts Cole Anthony and Tyrese Haliberton, who figure to be taken in front of him. Maledon is an athletic specimen with long arms and very good foot speed and all-around quickness. He is more of a boom or bust type than the aforementioned point guards, so it figures that a team will want to weigh risk/reward and draft him in a range that makes them comfortable with developing a project that may or may not realize their potential.
Why the Celtics take Theo Maledon: The Celtics have an aging point in Kemba Walker, so finding a potential long term replacement wouldn’t be such a bad idea. Boston figures to be a team that will be in the thick of things in the East as long as Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are healthy and in their prime. Maledon needs time, but shows a lot of potential and could be a sleeper in this year’s draft, especially if he lands with the right team and develops.
NBA Comparison: Dennis Schröder
15. Orlando MagicTyrell Terry
Terry was seen as a likely multi-year college prospect for much of the season, though he was impressive for Stanford, despite not putting up huge stats. He’s in the mold of a Stephen Curry or Trey Young with his pure shooting and natural play making ability. if his body develops. Granted he’s a little old for a freshman, as he’ll turn 20 in September. His legs are extremely thin and at times he struggles to maintain balance and was easily knocked off his path when driving. But he shows toughness and competitiveness, and he’s got the potential to be one of the best point guards out of this draft if his body develops. He’s actually not a terrible athlete, as he threw down some impressive dunks, when he was given a window to the rim and the defense had a letdown. Terry is an upside pick, and has a ways to go, but with the premium on shooting figures to find a spot in the mid first round. There’s even some speculation that he has a promise.
Why the Magic take Tyrell Terry: The Magic were chomping at the bit to draft Trae Young at the 6th pick two years ago, but the Hawks moved back from 3 and grabbed him a spot before their pick. So it’s obvious that this team likes what it sees in Terry based on the logic that he has similar traits as Young. The Magic also have a real need at the position with no clear long term plan in place at the position. Terry may take some time, but it’s not as if the Magic will begin competing for titles overnight.
NBA Comparison: CJ McCollum
16. Portland Trailblazers
Ramsey is a a tough nosed competitor who has shown the ability to score and play both guard spots. His passing ability is solid and he excels in catch and shoot situations on the perimeter. His jump shot is a little unorthodox as he sort of brings the ball up from his left hip, but he makes shots and the ball ends up in the same spot on his release every time. He’s a solid defender and instantly impacted the Red Raiders team as a freshman. While it’s likely he will spend most of his time at the shooting guard position, his ability to play some point, sporadically, gives him added intrigue.
Why the Blazers take Jahmius Ramsey: Ideally the Blazers would probably look for someone to ultimately replace Melo’s contributions, however that position may not have many options for them in the mid-first round. Ramsey would be joining one of the most loaded and deep backcourts in the league, but it would surely help his development playing alongside Lillard, McCollum and Trent. Ramsey could potentially develop into a defensive stopper, a la Marcus Smart over time, which would fit into this bunch better than a more offensive minded prospect.
NBA Comparison: Delonte West
17. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Brooklyn)
He’s a long, speedy combo guard with an ability to create buckets. Maxey came into Kentucky as one of the headliners, having built up a big name in AAU and competing for USA Select basketball. He started the year off with a bang with a huge 26 point game at Madison Square Garden as Kentucky took down number one Michigan State. But it was all down hill from there, as consistency plagued him throughout the year, and he struggled to live up to the hype that he built in that first game performance. Maxey brings a lot of intrigue with his ability to isolate and create baskets, and shows a lot of enjoyment in playing. Developing his point guard skills will further add value to his game.
Why the Timberwolves would take Tyrese Maxey: Minnesota is in a tough position with a nucleus of KAT and DeAngelo Russell that appears to be lottery bound next year, and with a (top 3 protected) pick likely heading to the Warriors from the Wiggins deal. Maxey would offer them some scoring punch but it’s unlikely that he will make a huge impact player for them right away. Maxey’s ability to defend is another question mark, and the Timberwolves are clearly in need to defenders.
NBA Comparison: Cuttino Mobley
18. Dallas Mavericks
One of the more underrated prospects heading into draft season, Green has prototypical size and athleticism at the wing position and also shows a promising shooting stroke. A potential 3-and-D player for the next level, Green knocked down one three pointer per game on 36% shooting. While his 12 ppg doesn’t jump off the page, he showed a willingness to play within the framework of the team and appears to have a good deal of potential left to develop. Green still needs to improve as an isolation threat as his ball skills don’t stand out but he has shown a willingness to be coached since arriving from Australia and by all accounts is a mature and focused individual. Put in the right situation, Green figures to develop into a weapon from the perimeter with high level ability to run the floor and finish.
Why the Mavericks take Josh Green: Dallas has a strong international slant, and it’s obviously working extremely well. They landed a generational talent in 2018 with Luka Doncic, with three GMs ahead of Donnie Nelson passing on him. Nelson’s trade to land Porzingis is also looking extremely smart. The apple hasn’t fallen far from the tree as Don Nelson Sr’s (Run TMC) teams would be five times as deadly in today’s NBA as they were in their era. Green hails from Australia, and his skill set as a spot up shooter with 3-D potential would figure to fit in nicely along with Doncic, if he’s able to realize his potential.
NBA Comparison: Danny Green
19. Brooklyn Nets (via Philadelphia)
Bey really made a name for himself in August at The Academy, coming away as one of the players that NBA scouts were most intrigued with. He spring boarded off of that performance with an excellent sophomore season, showing a willingness to compete night in and night out. He’s an over-achiever type that maximizes his abilities utilizing a 6-11 wingspan to defend and rebound and he has also begun to develop some versatility in his offensive repertoire. What he’s lacking is high level athleticism, as he’s somewhat stiff, lacking great fluidity. His ability to knock down shots from the perimeter and defend has him projected in the first round. But he will need to adjust his shot some as his release and shot trajectory are flat, but there’s no denying the results.
Why the Nets take Saddiq Bey: Sean Marks is quickly establishing himself as one of the top young GMs in the league. Brooklyn is positioned to compete for NBA titles right away, with the return of KD and Kyrie to a group of overachievers and they figure to either move this pick for cap space or look for a player that can help them sooner than later. Bey makes a lot of sense for them as he’s a low risk player that figures to contribute faster than other prospects in this range with his energy and defensive abilities. Resigning Joe Harris is obviously a greater priority than holding onto this pick however, so the chance of a trade here is probably pretty solid.
NBA Comparison: Sam Dekker
20. Miami HeatVernon Carey
Carey was extremely steady all year for Duke. He lacks elite speed and athleticism, but has a lot of smoothness to his game with touch to finish and shows a no nonsense approach. He came into college as one of the highest rated recruits, having spent time as the top player in his class according to certain recruiting analysts. He shot very few three pointers and there’s still some question about how well he will be able to extend his shot out to the perimeter and become an effective face up scorer. But there are signs that he can improve in this area, as he has good form and solid fundamentals in his shooting stroke. Carey has decent length at 6’10 in shoes with a 7’1 wingspan.
Why the Heat take Vernon Carey: The Heat made a big splash with their rookie additions in 2019, all of which were guards (Kendrick Nunn, Tyler Herro, and Duncan Robinson) that contributed. if they hold onto the 20th pick, there’s a good chance that they will look at adding a big that the can develop behind and complement the skill set of Bam Adebayo. Point guard is another possibility. Carey still needs to develop as a shooter, but the upside is there for him to become a steal in the latter half of the first round.
NBA Comparison: Carlos Boozer
21. Philadelphia 76ers (via Oklahoma City)
Anthony suffered a mid-season injury and it likely cost him a few spots in the draft, however teams remain intrigued with his potential as a lead guard. He’s got the size, ball skills and intangibles to be a quality starting point guard at the NBA level. He lacks transcendent speed and athleticism, however he’s fairly explosive and quick. North Carolina had a disappointing season, and his efficiency was inconsistent. Perhaps the lack of talent around him added to his struggles as he was asked to carry the scoring load, and opposing teams were able to focus their defenses to stop him. While he clearly has some maturing left to do, he’s got the bloodlines and high school pedigree, in addition to developing for close to a full freshman season at one of the legendary programs in college basketball.
Why the Sixers take Cole Anthony: The Sixers could use a sharpshooter if there’s one like Terry or Nesmith still on the board here. Anthony has lottery talent, but there are maturity concerns surrounding him. With Ben Simmons running the show, the Sixers could use a back up point guard, which would also give them flexibility to play smaller line ups and match up with quick guard when called for.
NBA Comparison: Mo Williams
22. Denver Nuggets (via Houston)
McDaniels oozes upside with his great ability to score from off the dribble as well as knock down shots. He’s got some Durant-like attributes with his amazing length and scoring ability. When he’s on, he looks like the best prospect in the entire draft. Unfortunately, that has been something that he’s struggled to maintain. There are major question marks about his focus and dedication to the game. Body language is not one of his strong suits and he is really in need of the right NBA environment to succeed. If that happens, a team could get him to realize his immense potential and play more consistently. However, a number of scouts are convinced that he will be a player that bounces around the league, showing flashes of talent, but never able to contribute on a consistent basis. He is probably the biggest boom or bust pick in the entire draft.
Why the Nuggets take Jaden McDaniels: Denver, meet your boom or bust pick for 2020. The Nuggets have struck gold in recent drafts by targeting high risk/reward picks. Michael Porter is reminding everyone why he was rated as the number one player in his high school class and was destined to be a top 3 pick but a back injury ended his freshman season at Missouri, just as it was starting. The Nuggets were sitting in the perfect spot where the risk of taking a player that might never play a game was deemed acceptable. And for now that pick is looking like a winning lottery ticket. Bol Bol in the mid-second round was another coup as the Nuggets targeting upside value when other teams shied away. McDaniels fits the mold of top 5 talent that because of concerns is likely to to fall, and could once again do so into Denver’s laps.
NBA Comparison: Jonathan Isaac
23. Utah Jazz
Oturu is a big that essentially came out of nowhere this year. He quickly made a name for himself and within a month of the season starting, Minnesota had a large contingent of scouts showing up to their games. Oturu has a modern game as he’s able to defend in space as well as force bigs to defend him out in space with his ability to knock down shots on the perimeter. He didn’t shoot a high volume of threes but was efficient (36%) and his form looks promising. He’s an agile and mobile big with a huge (7-foot-3 wingspan) frame and appears that he will be able to add strength without sacrificing mobility. His length and ability to block shots give him added intrigue to be a factor on both ends of the floor.
Why the Jazz take Daniel Oturu: The Jazz’s biggest need is depth in the frontcourt and although teams rarely draft for need in the first round, and shouldn’t, it’s a little more excusable in the late first and second round. Utah’s biggest current need is at power forward, and while Oturu is probably more of a center, he could pair with Rudy Gobert as well as spell him. Derrick Favors was shipped off to New Orleans, and Royce O’Neal is their current starting power forward, but not considered a long term answer.
NBA Comparison: Skal Labissiere
24. Milwaukee Bucks (via Indiana)
Mannion is a crafty lead guard who came into Arizona with a big high school reputation. And while he didn’t shoot to his ability and Arizona wasn’t quite as dominant as some had projected them to be. But Mannion is as driven and competitive as anyone in the draft. His father having been a professional basketball player in italy and his Mom having been a professional volleyball player gives him both the genes and the mental predisposition to be successful. He’s got good size and athleticism, but some wonder whether he has the speed to contend with NBA point guards. Perhaps his intangibles and size will help to compensate for his lack of high end speed.
Why the Bucks take Nico Mannion: Milwaukee currently has 30 year old Eric Bledsoe at the point guard position, and he could be there for another few seasons, depending on how the Bucks fare in the playoffs. A young point guard drafted in this range to groom going forward would make sense. Mannion is an excellent shooter and is competitive, he may need some time to adjust to the speed of the NBA, but brings a lot of intrigue with his skill level and feel for the game.
NBA Comparison: Luke Ridnour
25. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Denver)
The Texas native is an athletic combo guard that elected to circumvent the NCAA route, and had an unspectacular, though effective season playing in the NBL for the New Zealand Breakers. He averaged 8.8 points per game on 40% FG and 30% 3point, while posting 1.4 assists a game to 1.5 turnovers in 21 minutes per game. His 8.8 points per game represent just 10% of the 89 points the breakers scored per game on the season. Granted, Hampton was one of the youngest players on the team. He’s an above average athlete capable of highlight plays and has a solid skill set, having shown the ability to run the point guard position at the AAU level. RJ missed nearly half of the season playing in 15 of the team’s 28 games when the season ended. Hampton measured 6’4 in shoes, with a 6’7 wingspan and 8’4 standing reach in US competitions, giving him legitimate shooting guard size at the point guard position.
Why the Thunder takes RJ Hampton: The Thunder have shown a willingness to take a risk on upside players with a limited body of work. They took Terrence Ferguson two years ago, after a year in Australia. They followed that up by taking Darius Bazley at 23 last year. While Hampton played in New Zealand, there’s a parallel in their decisions to bypass college and play in the NBL. Hampton could end up being a steal at 25, or he could end up being the next Wade Baldwin.
NBA Comparison: Dante Exum
26. Boston Celtics
Lewis is long rangy point guard who improved a lot in his sophomore year at Alabama. He shows intriguing shooting ability and also is a quick athlete. He was a bit of a surprise to enter, but considering the lack of talent in this year’s draft it’s probably a good decision. He’s young for his class, and despite a lot of point guards being available, he figures to find a spot in the first round. Lewis has excellent measurables for a point guard with a 6’5 wingspan at 6’3. Lewis doesn’t strike you as an alpha, although he is a competitor. He needs to add weight to his body as he gets muscled easily at 165 lbs. His potential is intriguing considering his age, length and quickness, plus his solid ability to shoot. He still has to put a number of things together to play at a high level and transition from prospect to player against pros.
Why the Celtics take Kira Lewis: The Celtics no longer have the depth at point guard that they had a season ago. They will have a chance to grab a point guard at 14, but could in fact double up with another point guard at 26, as the position is the deepest and most likely to offer value in their draft ranges. Lewis would benefit playing behind Kemba Walker, learning the intensity that it takes to play at an elite level and learning the nuances of the position.
NBA Comparison: Keyon Dooling
27. New York Knicks (via LA Clippers)Devon Dotson
Dotson is an extremely competitive point guard who thrives at pushing the ball in transition. He has above average speed and quickness making him difficult to stay in front of defensively. It’s players like Dotson that really missed out with this year’s NCAA tourney being cancelled, as winning a title would have enhanced his draft stock. Dotson has also improved in his ability to dissect the defense in the half court and is a cerebral player. While he lacks ideal size at 6’1 with a 6’3 wingspan, he’s got elite speed and solid athleticism to make up for it. Some believe that Dotson is starting NBA point guard material, despite the small frame.
Why the Knicks take Devon Dotson: The Knicks are in position to address the point guard position in the late first. Dotson fits the mold of a tough nosed competitive point with solid shooting and scoring ability. His toughness should work well with Coach Tibs, and he could develop into a solid defender at the NBA level. The Knicks currently have Elfred Payton, Frank Ntilikina and Dennis Smtih, so it’s unlikely that the Knicks feel they currently have their point guard of the future.
NBA Comparison: Devonte’ Graham
28. LA Lakers
Jalen “Stix” Smith is a long, rangy power forward with solid shooting ability and rebounding, along with a consistent effort and energy level. Smith improved in his sophomore season, adding some strength as well as range and efficiency shooting the ball. He can now consistently knock down three pointers, making 32 on the season at a 37% clip. Stix even became a force as a shot blocker, utilizing his 7’1 wingspan and quick leaping ability to erase 2.4 shots per game. While he looks a little bit robotic and lacks great fluidity, he’s a cerebral big and an impressive athlete capable of impacting the game on both ends of the floor. Smith figures to find a spot in the mid-to-late first round due to his intangibles and versatile skill set.
Why the Lakers take Jalen Smith: Smith brings a more polished skill set than a number of his fellow draft prospects. His ability to knock down shots fits into what the Lakers need, and his readiness fits LeBron’s window of opportunity with title aspirations for the next couple of seasons. Smith could offer some scoring punch in the Lakers rotation, and learn under AD.
29. Toronto RaptorsTyler Bey
Tyler Bey is one of the most explosive and athletic forwards in this year’s draft. He didn;t put up eye popping scoring numbers, but he shows the ability to play on the block as well as knock down mid range shots. He’ll need to work on extending his range but the athletic profile makes him very intriguing. He benefits from the fact that undersized, high energy power forwards are thriving in today’s NBA. He certainly fits the category of tweener, but his ability to defend and potentially play a number of positions helps his cause.
Why the Raptors take Tyler Bey: Aside from maximizing talent and building championship level teams, Raptors Team President Masai Ujiri has proven to be a master of finding talent in the second half of the first round. Pascal Siakam (27), Evan Fournier (20), and OG Anunoby (23) were all taken with picks at 20 or later. Tyler Bey would also fit into the Raptors mold for taking long, uber-athletic forwards. While he doesn’t have the offensive potential of Pascal, he could be a disruptive force for Toronto on the boards and defensively.
NBA Comparison: Luc Mbah a Moute
30. Boston Celtics (Via Milwaukee)
Hughes is a 22 year old junior who lacks great upside but has a polished skill set. he has solid bounce with the ability to posterize opponents if they doze off. Hughes may struggle to convince teams that he is strong enough of a defender to warrant a first round pick, but he pops out on tape with his motor and skill level. Hughes may ultimately be a rotational player, but he has surprising athleticism and his shooting ability gives him solid potential as a scorer.
Why the Celtics take Elijah Hughes: The Celtics have three first rounders and may opt to move this one if no players they like fall to them at their pick. They are a team that is contending, or at least close to it, so it would make sense for them to target players that can contribute sooner than later, at least with some of their picks. Hughes figures to contribute faster than most, and with multiple picks, the Celtics could look for upside with early picks and instant contribution here.
NBA Comparison: Malik Beasley