By Hocine LOUKKAF on 3/9/2020
Anthony Edwards has not been able to prove he could become the surefire first pick, giving me enough reasons to keep Wiseman on the highest step of this draft.
#1 James Wiseman, 7-1 C, Memphis, FR (19.7pts 10.7rbds 3bl in 23min)
Depending on who got the first pick, Wiseman could fill a need at a cheap price for teams like Golden State, Detroit or Cleveland. Whatever is said about bigs, the other prospects have not proved enough to let Wiseman slip very far.
#2 Anthony Edwards, 6-5 SG , Georgia, FR (19.6pts 5.4rbds 2.9as)
One of the few potential first pick, Edwards still left experts frustrated as he scored 14 and 17 pts (30% and 27% fg) in the last wo games. Despite his physical tools, the Georgia freshman is abusing the three point shot (31% from three for the season), which makes him average a poor 41% fg (five games under 35% over the last nine). He also has room to be improve on defense but could still hear his name called first on draft night.
#3 Obi Toppin, 6-9 PF, Dayton, SO (19.8pts 7.6rbds 2.1as 1.3bl)
The spectacular PF from Dayton is not the one with the biggest upside but may be the safest pick behind Wiseman and Edwards. He recorded 60% fg or more in nine of his last twelve games while shooting a combined 14/31 from three during the same period. Toppin is far from being the best rebounder/rim protector but teams like the Wolves or even Golden State could be interested by his profile.
#4 Lamelo Ball, 6-6 PG, Illara Hawks (Australia), 2001 (17pts 7.4rbds 6.8as)
The same polarizing prospect, it would be hard for teams to pass on the younger Ball’s star potential. Moreover, ball can play both guard positions, a sought-after profile for almost every bad ranked teams in the Eastern Conference. Ball is a high risk high reward pick as he will have to improve drastically his shot selection and show some desire on the defensive end.
#5 Daniel Oturu, 6-10 C, Minnesota (20.3pts 11.6rbds 2.5bl)
With at least 22pts and 11rbds in each of his last four games before the last one (10ts 6rbds in 22min in an easy win over Nebraska), Oturu should be in every expert’s top ten. That is not the case as too many draftniks are quick to undervalue traditional bigs. Oturu has also value as a potential stretch big a la Brook Lopez, a profile who could end up in teams like Detroit, Charlotte or Golden State if the Warriors pick outside the top three.
#6 Deni Avdija, 6-8 SF, Maccabi Tel Aviv (Israel), 2001 (4pts 2.6rbds Euroleague 12.4pts 6rbds 2.5as in Israeli BSL)
One of the most professionnal prospects of this class, Avdija may lack a notch of talent to be picked in the top five as he lacks a major strength. He recorded a solid streak of games with 10+pts in Euroleague in February but lost his momentum over the last two games with two and four points despite getting more than 20min per game. He will need to land in the good spot to flourish as an NBA player.
#7 Tyrese Haliburton, 6-5 PG, Iowa State, SO (15.2pts 6.5as 5.9rbds 2.5st 50% fg 42% 3pt)
Out for the season, Haliburton is the best pure PG of this draft. Experts took time to take notice but he’s now in everybody’s top 15. If he can come back for the Combine and the workouts, he could easily land in the top 10 with New York, Chicago or Detroit potentially looking for a PG.
#8 Onyeka Okongwu, 6-10 PF/C, USC, FR (16.2pts 8.7rbds 2.7bl)
In a draft potentially loaded with bigs, Okongwu has done his best to be picked in the top 10. He’s been a bit too much foul-prone recently with four of his last eleven games with four or more fouls. Yet, his ability to switch on defense and potential as a face up big (73% ft), could convince a GM to trust him.
#9 Theo Maledon, 6-4 PG, ASVEL (France), 2001 (7.4pts 3.1as 1.2rbds Euroleague, 6.8pts 2.2as in french Jeep Elite)
Even if he still has to work on his offensive consistency, the French PG has had some interesting games both in Euroleague (5pts 10as 6rbds vs Anadolu, 9pts 4as vs Valencia, 12pts vs Real Madrid) and French Jeep Elite (20pts 7as vs Strasbourg). Moreover, he lost the ball more than once only twice in the last nine games (2tos only), displaying incredible maturity for a player his age. If he falls in the right team he coud flourish into a top PG in the League.
#10 Isaac Okoro, 6-6 SF, Auburn (12.9pts 4.6rbds 2.1as)
Over the last two months, the Auburn Freshman has established himself as a lottery pick and could even crack the top 10. He’s scored at leas nine pts in the last ten games, averaging 13.4pts in the process while displaying elite defensive potential (still has room to improve in this field). Now, Okoro can still sruggle offensively (three games nder 30% fg in the last ten games) wondering if he’s not more a complementary player rather than someone you can build a team around.
#11 Killian Hayes, 6-5 PG, Ratiopharm Ulm (Germany), 2001 (12.8pts 6.2as in Eurocup, 11.5pts 5.2as in German BBL)
Playing only German League since the end of December, Hayes has been more consistent on offense with a streak of nine double-digit scoring games. Yet, his ouside shot is still a work in progress with a combined 5/31 in the same nine games.
#12 Jalen Smith, 6-10 PF, Maryland, SO (15.4pts 10.5rbds 2.3bl)
Despite three recent losses, Smith keeps performing at an high level. Over the last eight games, he had only one game with less than 16pts and 10rbds (8pts 7rbds 3bl vs OSU) including a streak of si games with at least 2bl. The Terrapin has yet seen his 3pt contribution drop with only two games over 35% over the last nine. His potential as a shot-blocking stretch four may be undervalued.
#13 Cole Anthony, 6-3 PG, UNC, FR (20.2pts 5.8rbds 4.1as)
After struggling for his return with three games under 36% fg and a serie of seven losses, Anthony had bounced back pretty well with three wins during which he averaged 24pts 6.3as and shot at least 57% from the field. Yet, Anthony displayed once again the worst of him against archrival Duke with 9pts 3as and shooting 4/14. NBA teams could fear he’ll be a gunning type of PG who will think about his scoring before involving his teammates.
#14 Vernon Carey Jr, 6-11 C, Duke, FR (17.8pts 8.8rbds 1.6bl)
What Carey lacks in term of upside, he may make up for it with his conistency. With at least 50% fg in eight of his last nine games and multipe double-digit rebounding games over the last two months, Carey Jr is a safe pick for a team in need of a big. He’s also improved a lot his free-throw shooting with 67/85 (79%) since early February, a good indication that he can develop as a stretch big.
#15 Jaden McDaniels, 6-9 SF, Washington, FR (13.1pts 5.8rbds 2.1as 1.4bl)
The polarizing forward may have understand what coaches expect from him. After a streak of eleven losses, his team has won three of his last four games, including 20pts 6rbds 3bl 1to on 7/14 fg and 2/5 from three against Arizona. McDaniels has scored at least 16pts in six of his last eight games, albeit too often on poor fg %. A high risk high reward pick who could still convince some teams.
#16 Jahmi’us Ramsey, 6-4 SG, Texas Tech, FR (15pts 4rbds 2.2as 43% 3pt)
After a nice streak of eight games with at least 13pts (26vs Kansas, 25pts 7as 1to vs Iowa State), Ramsey has hit a wall recently with four losses in a row and less than 42% fg in each of these games. He also didn’t shoot a single free throw in two of these games. Ramsey must find a way to be consistent shooting the ball and driving to the rim but even if his stock dropped a bit, he has all the tools to be an efficient two-way player for the team that will draft him.
#17 Precious Achiuwa, 6-9 PF, Memphis, FR (15.6pts 10.4rbds 2bl 42% 3pt)
An old freshman, Achiuwa keeps performing with at least 15rbds over the last three games. He’s not asked to shoot a lot but has displayed against a tough Houston team that he could do it (2/5 from three). He also could be interesting as a small ball five.
#18 Devin Vassell, 6-7 SG/SF, Florida State, SO (12.7pts 5.1rbds 1.4st 41% 3pt)
The Florida State has been a hot commodity for some months with his potential as a 3 and D. Able to play both SG and SF spots, he takes care of the ball (five of the last seven games with zero turnover) but still lacks consistency on offense (five of the last nine games under 38% fg) and agressivity considering his physical tools (four free throws over the last six games). More of a complementary player, the Seminole could be a nice pick if he’s not drafted too high.
#19 Nico Mannion, 6-3 PG, Arizona, FR (14.pts 5.4as 39% fg)
As talented as Mannion may be, his physical limitations may impact too much his game to have him in the top 10. Moreover, even his outside shooting is below average with a poor 32% from three. Despite the good games he had (19pts 6as 1to vs UCLA, 23pts 7as 1to vs WSU), his combined stats against ranked opponents (24/72 fg, 31as for 19tos) reveal his struggle against high level competition.
#20 RJ Hampton, 6-5 SG/PG, New Zealand Breakers, 2001 (8.8pts 3.9rbds 2.4as)
His limited play in NBL and the fact that he didn’t have a pure position for the moment put him behind most SG/PG prospects. His physical profile could yet intrigue enough teams to have him drafted higher.
#21 Isaiah Stewart, 6-9 PF/C, Washington,FR (17.9pts 8.4rbds 2.1bl
Despite Washington’s nine consecutive losses, Stewart somehow maintained his level of performance despite a few bad outings (9pts on 3/13 vs Arizona, 10pts on 2/7 vs Washington State). With two wins away from home against Arizona and Arizona State during which he combined 30pts on 13/20 fg, he proved this hard period is behind him.
#22 Aleksej Pokusevski, 6-11 PF/SF, Olympiakos, 2001 (10.8pts 8rbds 3as 1.8bl in Greek 2nd division)
Maybe the most intriguing prospect this year, Pokusevski combines elite length with fluidity and skills for someone his size. After almost three months without playing due to a knee injury, he recently had one of his best games of the season with 15pts 11rbds 5as 2bl and 2st. Could he perform the same way against high level competition?
#23 Tyrese Maxey, 6-3 SG/PG, Kentucky (13.9pts 4.1rbds 3as)
After a streak of eight games with at least 12pts, Maxey struggled offensively against Florida with 1/11 from the field. Yet, he may have won some points as he also recorded 7as for one turnover, displaying the ability to create for his teammates and take care of the ball. His outside shooting is another problem with only two games above 33.3% from outside over the last ten. Maxey would be better advised to stay at Kentucly but if he’s sure to be a first rounder, he will be gone despite his weaknesses.
#24 Zeke Nnaji, 6-11 C Arizona, FR (16.3pts 8.6rbds 57% fg)
After averaging more than 60% fg in the first half of the season, Nnaji’s offensive efficiency has dropped drastically with eight of his last twelve games under 47% fg. The fact that he’s far from being an elite defender and that he’s not displayed yet the ability to be a stretch big prevents him to be more than a late first rounder.
#25 Saddiq Bey, 6-7 SF, Villanova, SO (16.1pts 4.7rbds 2.4as 45% 3pt)
Bey lacks the athletic ability of other wing prospects like Okoro or Vassell but he may be the most advanced player of the pack. He scored at least 18pts in seven of his last ten games while recording at least 40% 3pt and five attempts from outside in eleven of the last seventeen games.
#26 Tre Jones, 6-3 PG, Alabama, SO (18.5pts 5.2as 4.8rb 1.8st)
We know, Jones may lack the length, athleticism and even some offensive skills to be a top prospect in this draft. Indeed, he shot less than 40% fg in five of his last six games while paradoxically combining 13/28 during the same stretch. Yet, you know that you got a smart back-up PG who will help a team and who still has room to improve.
#27 Robert Woodard, 6-7 SF/SG, Mississipi State, SO (11.4pts 6.5rds 43% 3pt)
A versatile player who can guard positions 2 to 4, Woodard lacks the consistency and offensive impact to be projected higher. He scored more than 12pts only once in the last nine games and had more than 33.3% from outside only three times in the last eleven games. More consistency would make him a potential lottery pick.
#28 Aaron Nesmith, 6-7 SG, Vanderbilt, SO (23pts 4.9rbds 52% 3pt)
If it wasn’t for his foot injury, Nesmith would be projected much higher. Yet, the eventuality to have such a shooter in its roster, if he heals well from his injury, could convince many teams to draft Nesmith. Let’s see if he can come back for the pre-draft workouts.
#29 Paul Reed, 6-9 PF, DePaul, JR (15.2pts 10.4rbds 3.5bl 1.6st)
After a good start and wins over Iowa, Minnesota or Texas Tech, DePaul is suffering in the Big 10 with only two wins over the last fifteen games. During that stretch, Reed has also suffered with more than 47% in only two of the last nine games. A good season as a team could have propelled him to the top 20, he would be lucky to hear in the name in the first round.
#30 Josh Green, 6-5 SG/PG, Arizona, FR (11.7pts 4.6rbds 2.6as)
The Australian freshman has not really reached the expectations as he’s been inconsistent offensively and may lack some natural talent despite his nice physical tools. Yet, if he falls this low, he could be a steal as a versatile player who can defend the 1 to 3.