By Hocine LOUKKAF on 11/26/2019
Aside from Morant, Zion (who hasn’t played yet) and Hayes (drafted more for his upside than his actual level as a young big), most top ten picks are struggling with efficiency, raising doubts about their ability to become what you expect from a top 10, that means a potential franchise player or cornerstone in a winning team. Some of them proved me wrong in some games lately, but even if it’s still very early in the process to make final statements, let’s see why, going beyond their scoring average and analyzing them by their draft order, there could be disappointments in this top 10.
RJ Barrett, SF New York Knicks 3rd pick (15.1pts 5.6rbds 3.6as, 41% fg 35% 3pt 49% ft)
A projected #1 pick, Barrett wanted to play for the Knicks, arguably the worst franchise in the NBA over the last decade. At Duke, his inconsistency was already highlighted but like some of New York’s last draft picks or newly acquired prospects players (Ntilikina, Knox or Dennis Smith), Barrett is struggling awfully to be efficient and help the team win games (4-13). He lacks a consistent shot (10 out of 16 games with 33% or less from three), struggles finishing inside the 3pt line (only 43% 2pt) and is as terrible when he gets to the ft line with less than 50%, a terrible feat for an outside player.
DeAndre Hunter, SF Atlanta Hawks 4th pick (12.5pts 4.1rbds 1.8as in 32min, 41% fg)
An old sophomore as a 97 born prospect, Hunter was drafted higher than expected by Atlanta with the 4th choice. In college, there were already questions about his real value as he had an average tournament before killing it all in the championship game (10.3pts per game in the last three games before the Final Four). Like New York, Atlanta doesn’t win many games (4-12), with Collins’ suspension a reason among others, but Hunter’s production with 12.5pts on a poor 41% fg doesn’t help. Moreover, even if stats don’t say the whole story, his mediocre 4.1rbds (5 of the last 6 games with 3rbds or less), 0.7st and 0.3bl are not what a potential lockdown defender is supposed to bring to the table. Only stats which saves him for the moment is his 3pt shooting with a nice 39% on four attempts, not enough to justify a 4th pick for the moment.
Darius Garland, PG Cleveland Cavaliers 5th pick (10pts 3.2as in 29min, 35% fg 32% 3pt)
Garland needs to thank his agent who obtained a top ten pick for a diminutive PG with not-so-exceptional athletic traits who got injured after five games against poor competition with a nice 16.2pts on 47% 3pt but only 2.6as for 3tos including a 3pts 4as 3tos on 1/6 fg against Alcorn State. Moreover, as if it wasn’t enough, Garland was drafted by the Cavs who had drafted the very previous year the same kind of scoring-only PG with Collin Sexton. With only 10pts on 35% fg, 32% 3pt and only 3.2as for 2.3tos, the former Commodore had his best game recently with 23pts on 9/16 fg and 5/8 from three, but a 42pt rout against the Mavs. Garland has to find a way to be more productive in his scoring AND passing to not become a chucker on teams with tanking as their main goal.
Jarrett Culver, SG, Minnesota Timberwolves 6th pick (8.5pts 2.9rbds 2.1as in 23min, 37% fg 28% 3pt)
Another polarizing prospect before the draft, Culver benefited from his team’s success at Texas Tech but his flaws were visible. Despite his nice physical tools, Culver doesn’t impress by his athleticism or explosivity. Moreover, his shooting has always been a problem and that doesn’t appear to have changed. After 16 games, his 8.5pts 2.9rbs and 2.1as are weak, above all with 37% fg and 28% 3pt. His defensive stats are not impressive either with 0.9st and 0.5bl. Only thing different compared to the aforementioned players is that his team wins more games (8-8), not enough yet to be satisfied with his production.
Coby White, SG/PG Chicago Bulls 7th pick (13.9pts 3.6rbds 2.3as in 25min, 39% fg 36% 3pt)
A surprising freshman at UNC who performed better than his more-hyped teammate Nassir Little, White has been praised several times this year for some outstanding performances like his seven three-pointers in a quarter against the Knicks or his 26pts on 6/13 from three against the Bucks. Yet, his 39% fg and 36% 3pt are far from perfection and White seems more of a SG than a PG with only 2.3as for 1.5to. His limited athleticism and length will not help if he can not display passing instinct as his 41% 2pt won’t allow him to finish in the paint. Will he develop his PG skills to become more well-rounded or have to become a 3pt specialist?
Rui Hachimura, PF/SF Washington Wizards 9th pick (12.9pts 5.3rbds in 27min, 50% fg 21% 3pt)
Playing mostly PF for Gonzaga, Hachimura had not displayed, except maybe with Japan, that he could become a full time SF. Unfairly compared to Kawhi Leonard, Rui doesn’t have neither Kawhi’s skills nor does he have his brute strength or athleticism. A starter at PF for a still disappointing Wizards squad (5-9), Hachimura fits the bill of a bad tweener, not enough skilled to play the three (22% from three) while lacking the grind and explosivity to be a dominating PF (5.3rbds 0.1bl)
Cam Reddish, SF/SG Atlanta Hawks 10th pick (7.6pts 3.8rbds 1.7as in 25min, 30% fg 23% 3pt)
Maybe the most gifted of the bunch, Reddish had also struggled during his time at Duke, which made him slip to the 10th pick while he was projected in the top 5 at the start of his freshman year. Despite some improvement over the last games (17pts vs Milwaukee, 13 vs the Lakers), he has been horrible with only four games with more than 10pts despite playing 25min a game, but above all terrible offensive efficiency with 29% fg and 21% 3pt, not exactly what you expect from a prospect who was compared to Paul George. His defense also leaves to be desired with 3.7rbds and 1st, limited numbers compare dto his physical tools. If Reddish can at least improve his shooting efficiency, that would be a great step towards a more consistency in his game.