1. Onyeka Okongwu, USC
Our top rated center in this draft, Okongwu is coming off a season in which he averaged, 16.2 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 2.7 blocks per game. He demonstrated the ability to finish with strength off the pick and roll. In today’s game where pick and roll play is essential, his ability to finish is promising. He demonstrates a lot of effort and speed in transition and has shown the ability to score when he gets position in the low post.
His spin move is one of his go to moves, but he also has some back to the basket ability as well. He has speed that helps him get by slower big men he faces. He has not shown the ability yet to be a consistent floor spacer as he does not have a lot of confidence in his ability to shoot off the catch. But in time he should be able to improve his range and become a solid shooter. His versatility to play in the post and defend on the perimeter and more offensive upside, gives him the nod over Wiseman, despite the fact that he probably gets picked after the memphis center.
2. James Wiseman, Memphis
Standing at 7’1 with a 7’6 wingspan, Wiseman possesses elite size and athleticism for an NBA center. Perhaps most alluring, he shows potential as a rim protector. His lateral quickness is not the best, so he figures to have trouble defending on the perimeter and with switches. And that’s concerning considering today’s NBA sees many centers relegated to the bench in the fourth quarter of playoff games. So the question is how much today’s NBA has diminished the value of elite level center athletes with middling skill sets. Assuming Wiseman remains a solid but not standout offensive player.
Wiseman has been compared to a bigger Bosh, but being bigger is the entire point. Bosh had much better foot speed and ability to move, with the ability to attack the basket off the dribble as well as great mid-range shooting. Wiseman is a far cry from any of those things, therefore, Bosh is an extremely optimistic comparison for him. Think Hassan Whiteside, with slightly better motor and consistency. In high school, Wiseman didn’t exactly develop a reputation for playing hard every game or play, and he did just take his freshman season off. Can a team like the Warriors turn Wiseman into an All Star? Perhaps. But the center position has been devalued considerably and a serviceable one can be picked up in free agency. Will Wiseman develop into something considerably more than JaVale McGee provided in limited minutes? Perhaps time will tell if they select him.
3. Vernon Carey, Duke
Carey is a mobile big man, and is one of a handful of players who are under seven feet tall but weigh above 260 pounds. He uses that size to move people around in the post where he likes to use his left hand. Whether it be a baby hook or a drop step, he demonstrated the footwork and repertoire to make plays in the post. His size and strength allow him to finish through contact well. He is a good rebounder, having averaged just under nine rebounds per game. His size makes it difficult on opposing players to finish at the rim.
His 7’0 wingspan isn’t that long when compared to NBA players his size. He lacks footspeed, which will be magnified when having to defend quicker players. He has trouble defending the pick and roll due to lack of quickness. His shot selection and consistency needs to improve when matched up against stronger defenders. He will need to improve on his free throw shooting as well, he only connected on 67% of them.
4. Daniel Oturu, Minnesota
One of the best shot blockers in the class, Oturu is coming off a season where he averaged 2.5 blocks per game. For the season, he also averaged 20 points and 11 rebounds. He boxes out well, while also possessing the leaping ability to go up for the rebounds. He shoots the three well enough to keep the defenses honest, although he needs to improve his shooting form and speed up his release. He also shoots above 70% from the free throw line. His ability to shoot should improve as he get with developmental shooting coaches, and spends time in the NBA.
Regarding passing, he does not exhibit great vision or pasing skills. He appears to lack the footspeed to defend the perimeter at a high level, and he will struggle in the post until he adds strength. He has trouble staying between his man and the rim. He is not the most fluid athlete. But his shooting touch and size and activity give him potential if he lands in the right situation.
5. Zeke Nnaji, Arizona
Nnaji is an athletic big who can run the floor well and plays with with a solid motor. He proved that he can make plays in the post and shoot the mid-range shot as well. He plays with a lot of energy and effort on both ends of the floor. He has shown potential to develop into a stretch big. He is shown some moves in the post. On the defensive end, he has solid fundamentals and effort.
He lacks elite athleticism and may struggle with the speed and athleticism of NBA bigs. His rim protection was not a strongsuit illustrating his lack of explosiveness. He averaged less than a block per game last season. He only shot 17 three point and only hit five of them. He will need to improve in order to become a legit floor spacer. He also is not great as a catch and shoot option, something that needs to improve since he does not create his own shot.
6. Isaiah Stewart, Washington
Stewart is an ox in the paint with his upper body strength and boundless energy. On the season, he averaged 17 points, 8.8 rebounds and 2.1 blocks. He used his strength and incredible length (7-4 wingspan) and effort to grab rebounds on both ends of the floor. For a big man, he shoots free throws very well at 77%. He has a nice jump hook and effectively uses up and under while in the post. He is still young; he turns 20 next year.
He does not have great athleticism to finish plays above the rim. He is not a consistent threat from beyond the arc. He may struggle in the post when going up against stronger players at the next level. He also lacks foot speed which can hurt him when he gets switched onto the perimeter. And finally he needs to limit his turnovers, he had 2.2 last year to only 0.8 assists.
7. Nick Richards, Kentucky
Richards is an athletic center with good range. He’s a standout leaper as he is shown the ability to finish explosive dunks and be a lob threat. He raised his scoring by 10 points in his junior year. He showed proficiency at protecting the rim his junior year, and averaged over two blocks per game. He has been developing a hook shot from both sides. He has good feet and side to side movement which will allow him to hold his own on the perimeter. He shot 75% from the free throw line his last season at Kentucky, which is a very good sign.
He does not have much skill on the offensive end of the floor. In fact, he looks out of place at times on both ends. He will turn 23 at the end of November. He needs to improve on the glass, for someone his size and athleticism, 7.8 rebounds a game can be improved upon. His decision making has improved, but it needs work. He did not attempt a three pointer in his three years in Kentucky. not exactly someone that can spread the floor on the offensive end.
8. Udoka Azubuike, Kansas
Azubuike is projected to be a defensive specialist. He is 6’11 with a 7’7 wingspan. This season at KU he averaged 13.7 points, 10.5 rebounds, and 2.6 blocks per game, and certainly had an impact on winning with his play on both ends of the floor. He was great at protecting the rim, as a help defender and a primary defender. He is great at cutting to the rim off screens and he finished at the rim 88% of the time. Azubuike is an excellent lob threat due to his long wingspan and explosive leaping ability. While he spent all four years in college, he just turned 21 years old.
Azubuike has shown that he is injury prone. His freshman and junior year in college, he played less than 10 games. He also shows no shooting range outside of the paint. He does not have a face up game, and generally scores his points off dunks and lobs at the basket. He does not pass well, he averaged less than one assist per game his during his four years. He shot a dismal 44% from the free throw line, which means he will be taken out of games late due to this liability.
9. Omer Yurtseven, Georgetown
Yurtseven has shown improvement during the three years in college. His scoring started at 5.9 a game and it increased to 15.5 his final year. He is a good rebounder, having averaged just under double digits at 9.8 rebounds a game. He has a nice mid-range jump shot, with potential to improve to a stretch big. He is solid at scoring in the low post. For a player his size, he is good at scoring on the move.
He is a streaky a shooter at times. Yurtseven needs to add more to his arsenal of post-up moves. At times, he can be very turnover prone, he averaged 3.3 turnovers a game last season. The length and athleticism of NBA players could pose a problem for him. He struggles guarding quicker players. He is also prone to getting into foul trouble at times.
10. Austin Wiley, Auburn
Wiley was a solid big man at Auburn. He averaged 10.6 points, 9.3 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game. He is a strong finisher at the rim, utilizing his massive 7-5 wingspan. He has demonstrated solid ability to score in the post. He generated over five free throw attempts per game his last year and has the strength to hold his own in the paint.
He shot 67% from the free throw line his last season, which leaves room for improvement. He must expand upon his low post moves, so he is not as predictable. He picks up a lot of fouls during games. Wiley has had multiple knee injuries in the past few years.