By Hocine Loukkaf on 11/22/2020

Despite no big surprises in the top 10, some teams may have gotten the best of their late first/2nd round picks with a pretty deep draft. Let’s rank these teams and see who did the best job on draft night.

Grade A

Sacramento : Tyrese Haliburton (12th pick 6-5 PG Iowa State) Robert Woodard (40th pick 6-7 SF/PF Mississipi State) Jahmi’us Ramsey (43rd pick 6-3 SG Texas Tech)

Elite night for the Kings who may have found  several jewels to improve their roster. Haliburton at 12 is a steal. The 6-5 PG has been deemed as one of the smartest PG of this draft and has some tools you can’t miss. Woodard is a poor man’s RoCo, able to defend several positions and who could gain minutes if he can shoot consistenly. Finally, the Kings picked another steal with Ramsey, a potential two-way player who averaged 15pts on 43% 3pt with a good defensive presence in in his freshman year.

Miami : Precious Achiuwa (20th pick 6-9 PF/SF Memphis)

Fit and upside, Achiuwa is exactly what the Heat needed, another athletic  player to help Adebayo. Moreover, Achiuwa may have the potential to develop as a talented combo forward, good enough to shoot efficiently from outside and create off the dribble. A steal at 20 for the last finalist.

Golden State : James Wiseman (2nd pick 7-1 C Memphis) Nico Mannion (48th pick 6-2PG Arizona) Justinian Jessup (55th pick 6-7 swingman Boise State)

Despite all the talks about typical centers not being useful anymore, Wiseman at 2 was just too nice for the Warriors who end up with a David Robinson-like type of prospect who could cement the franchise for the post Splash Bros era. As if it wasn’t enough, the Warriors used their 48th pick to select Mannion, a once-lottery-projected PG who will be hungry to prove he deserved to be picked higher. Jessup is lesser known but is in the good franchise to potentially develop as Duncan Robinson in a pure shooter role.

Washington : Deni Avdija (9th pick 6-9 SF Israel Maccabi Tel Aviv) Cassius Winston (53rd pick 6-0 PG Michigan State)

Washington managed to get two players lower than projected. Avdija took profit from the restart of the Israeli league to display his improvement and despite his drawbacks (length, shooting consistency), he’s a very mature player who will do it all to make his team win games. Winston may not have the tools or youth of the other PGs picked but coming from MSU, he knows what it takes to win and could crack into the rotation.

LA Clippers : Daniel Oturu (33rd pick 6-10 C Minnesota) Jay Scrubb (55th pick 6-6 SG Logan juco)

By picking two of my favourite prospects, the Clippers may end up with two potential starters in the league. Oturu had a dominant year in the Big 10 showcasing rim-protecting value and shooting potential which could help him compete with Zubac inside. Despite a bad second year in juco, Scrubb has one of the most interesting profile with size and athleticism as a swingman. If he can get back to his freshman year percentages (46% from three on almost three attempts), he will be an NBA player for many years.

Charlotte : Lamelo Ball (3rd pick 6-7 PG/SG, Illawara Hawks AUS) Vernon Carey (32nd pick 6-10 C Duke) Nick Richards (42nd pick 7-0 C Kentucky) Grant Riller (56th pick 6-0 PG Charleston)

Used to draft players coming from famous college programs, the Hornets took a gamble with Lamelo. The third Ball brother will bring his popularity and followers with him, which will help the sleeping franchise get much more appeal. On the court, the Hornets hope Ball can put it all together as, despite the flashes, his last year in the NBL was less than average with bad shooting and even more awful defense. If he at least can become an efficient scorer and with his passing skills, that would be enough to justify the pick. Charlotte was lucky enough to fill another need at the C position with Carey, a potential starter within a few years and another big body to come from the bench, Richards. Riller was expected higher but he will struggle to get minutes unless Graham or the more probable Rozier gets traded.

Dallas : Josh Green (18th pick 6-6 SG/PG Australia, Arizona, Tyrell Terry (31st pick 6-2 PG Stanford) Tyler Bey (36th pick 6-7 PF/SF Colorado)

Dallas was searching for a versatile defender to play alongside Doncic. Green has the body type and athleticism to be this guy but he’s not a talented player in the other aspects of the game such as shooting or creation (Ramsey, albeit smaller, seemed the best pick to me to fill this role). Terry seems a much better pick as he was getting some lottery buzz as a Steph-like type of prospect thanks to his shooting. Bey is another steal as an incredible athlete who can defend both forward spots. If he can knock his open shots, he could have a real role in the rotation.


Grade B

OKC : Aleksej Pokusevski (17th pick 7-0 PF Serbia, Olympiakos GR) Theo Maledon (34th pick 6-4 PG France, ASVEL FRA) Vit Krejci (37th pick 6-8 PG Czech Republic, Zaragoza SP)

With all the trades that already happened, it’s hard to know what the OKC roster will look like. Yet, the Thunder used the draft to go international with some interesting picks. Everyone wanted to know who will pull the trigger on Poku. The Serbian forward has been polarizing due to his immense variety of skills and agility at his size but lack of efficiency in the weak Greek 2nd division and an even weaker body. At 17, it could be worth the risk but we’ll probably have to wait at least 2/3 years to judge. On the contrary, Maledon at 34 is a helluva steal. The French PG was once projected in the top 10 and despite a shoulder injury last year, he had a real role on a Euroleague roster. His size, IQ and skills are rare in such a young prospect and he also has gained 10lbs during the offseason. Krejci is a surprising pick at 37 who remind of his country fellowman Satoransky, a tall wing who can play the point. He had limited minutes in Spanish Liga ACB and is already out for the year with a knee injury.

Memphis : Desmond Bane (30th pick 6-5 SG TCU) XavierTillman (35th pick 6-8 PF Michigan State)

The Grizzlies have built a solid and young roster over the past few years and may have picked as solidly this year. Bane may not have the potential of some younger players but he’s one of the top shooters in this draft and a very high IQ guy as illustrated by his almost 4as per game. Tillman had been getting some buzz as a potential late first rounder since the combine but his experience is enough to know what he can bring, solid defense, intensity and improved shooting from one of the most demanding college programs. Very nice additions from the Grizzlies management.

Denver : Zeke Nnaji (22nd pick 6-11 C Arizona) RJ Hampton (24th pick 6-5 PG/SG, NZ Breakers)

Denver keeps pilling up good assets. While Nnaji was projected later and may not be the best defender, he could develop as a stretch five like former Arizona alumni Channing Frye. The once top 5 projected Hampton is a very nice pick at 24 and will be eager to prove that he’s more than a former HS standout as he’s worked a lot on his shooting and possesses elite size/athleticism at this position.

Philadelphia : Tyrese Maxey (21st pick 6-3 SG Kentucky) Isaiah Joe (49th pick 6-5 SG Arkansas) Paul Reed (58th pick 6-9 PF DePaul)

The Sixers adressed their shooting problem with two nice players. A polarizing prospect in this draft, Maxey has nice physical tools but needs to be more consistant from three and find his role. Joe was projected in many mocks in the first round and even if he’s a unidimensional player, he knows what he has to do on the court. Reed is not the most academic player but his combination of defensive tools and shooting potential could help him grab minutes from the bench.


Grade B-

Pistons Killian Hayes (7th pick 6-5 PG/SG France, Ulm GER) Isaiah Stewart (16th pick 6-9 C/PF Washington) Saddiq Bey (19th pick 6-8 SF Villanova) Saben Lee (38th pick 6-2 PG Vanderbilt)

Hayes is the player the Pistons wanted to pick. He’s a potential starter at the PG position who can create for others and has improved his shooting. Moreover, he’s very close to Doumbouya, another Frenchman who will be in his comfort zone with Hayes handling the ball. Stewart was expected later but fits Detroit’s mentality as a throwback type of center. Yet, his lack of mobility and verticality may hurt him as other centers like Oturu, Carey or Azubuike could end up better. Bey is another solid player on the wing whose shooting will be important to create space for his teammates. Finally, there was better picks to make than Lee, a solid athlete but limited shooter/defender at PG with Tre Jones, Mannion, Madar or Winston still available at 38. Solid picks but limited upside except for Hayes.

San Antonio : Devin Vassell (11th pick 6-7 SG/SG Florida State) Tre Jones (41st pick 6-3 PG Duke)

San Antonio mostly needs bigs, defense and inside scoring but they went another way. At 11, Vassell is not at his best creating his shot but brings solid size, shooting and athleticism on the wing. Jones at 41st was an easy pick as he’s displayed rare high IQ on both ends of the floor and a pedigree which can make him a potential 15-year player in the league.

Cleveland : Isaac Okoro (5th pick 6-6 SF Auburn)

Cleveland needs solid players and talent. Okoro is tough as nails and will bring his body, motor and defense right away. On offense, he displayed flashes of talent and versatility but his shooting is a work in progress. The Cavs had better hope none of the players picked after like Okongwu, Avdija, Toppin or Haliburton end up far better as they could have fill a need in their roster. We’ll see if Okoro develop as a potential franchise changer and be enough to get the Cavs out of the bottom of the Eastern Conference.

Atlanta : Onyeka Okongwu (6th pick 6-9 PF/C USC) Skylar Mays (50th pick 6-4 SG/PG LSU)

Unless Capela gets traded, why taking Okongwu ? the USC rim-protector is a nice prospect but, while giving one more year to Reddish and Hunter to be efficient at the SF position, Atlanta may have done a better choice drafting Haliburton or hayes to bring another creator alongside Young. Mays will have a hard time getting minutes despite an interesting profile as a solid shooter on both G spots.

Minnesota : Anthony Edwards (1st pick 6-5 SG Georgia) Leandro Bolmaro (23rd pick 6-7 SG Argentina, Barcelona SP) Jaden McDaniels (28th pick 6-10 SF/PF Washington)

The Wolves finally decided to keep the pick and go with Edwards. The Georgia star has elite physical tools with a strong body and star athleticism. Yet, he was very inconsistent on both sides of the floor and his motor has been questioned after some bad declarations about his love for the game. If hefigures out how to take advantage of his tools, he could become one of the best scorers in the League. Bolmaro is a bit of the reach at 23. Neither is he a good athlete by NBA standards nor has he showcased elite talent a la Doncic. He’s nevertheless a solid prospect with good size and IQ who could contribute in the future coming from the bench. Finally, a bit like Edwards, McDaniels has not confirmed his HS status in his lone year of college basketball as he really needs to work on his consistency on both ends of the floor. The Wolves could have gone with more defense and a more complementary player to KAT like Bey or Tillman.

Phoenix : Jalen Smith (10th pick 6-10 PF Maryland)

A lot has been said about how bad this pick was, but as I’ve been rooting for Smith for some months (had him at 18 in January), I wouldn’t agree on that one. He may be a bit of a reach at 10 but the Suns needed another four with different strengths compared to Saric. Smith is a potential two-way player, a very mature kid who combined two much needed criterias, rim-protecting potential and ability to stretch the floor. If he can bring that to the Suns, he will perfectly fit an already good roster.


Grade C

NY : Obi Toppin (8th pick 6-9 PF Dayton) Imanuel Quickley (25th pick 6-3 SG/PG Kentucky)

Drafting the local Toppin  is not a bad pick as he was one of the most efficient and spectacular big men and his poor defense will be balanced by Mitch Robinson’s presence. Yet, with Haliburton still available at at 8, maybe picking the Iowa State PG would have been the better choice. Quickley will bring his shooting prowess but, being 21, limited in term of size/athleticism and picked at 25, seems a reach as there were some high upside SG and PG available, even younger, like Maledon or Ramsey. Two picks which could have been great.

Toronto : Malachi Flynn  (29th pick 6-2 PG San Diego State) Jalen Harris (59th pick 6-5 SG Nevada)

Not the most spectacular prospect, Flynn is an intense competitor like former SDSU alumni Kawhi. Good on both ends of the floor, he fits Toronto’s style of play but will have to compete with both Lowry and VanVleet while a more complementary player like Maledon was still available. Toronto could also have used the pick to draft a big man like like Carey, Oturu or Tillman to make up for the potential departure of Ibaka (now confirmed) or Gasol. Harris is a nice all-around talent at SG but may lack an elite strength to get minutes.

New Orleans : Kira Lewis (13th pick 6-3 PG Alabama)

A very young PG, Lewis is as impressive in term of speed as he still is raw in term of IQ at the PG position. He looks more like as scoring PG for the moment and has a lot to improve on the defensive end. With a draft full of PG, the Pelicans could have found a way to trade up for Haliburton or look for a safer pick (with maybe another pick or an early 2nd rounder) lower like Maledon or Terry.

Boston : Aaron Nesmith (14th pick 6-7 SF Vanderbilt) Payton Pritchard (26th pick 6-2  PG Oregon) Yam Madar (47th pick 6-3 PG Hapoel Tel Aviv)

Probably the best shooter of this draft, Nesmith’s medical file must have been checked to be drafted this high. Yet, he’s another forward added to the mix as, like I said so many times, Brown is a SF and not a SG. As accomplished as he was in college, Pritchard doesn’t have the potential of Maledon or Terry who would have been steals at 26. He could even get overplayed in the years to come by Boston’s 2nd rounder Madar, a more athletic and highly competitive PG whose only limitation at the moment is his limited shooting.

Chicago : Patrick Williams (4th pick 6-8 PF/SF Florida State) Marco Simonovic (44th pick 6-11 PF/C Mega Soccerbet)

Is need superior to talent or was it necessary to pick Williams this high? With needs at both PG and SF positions, the Bulls took an elite athlete who has not proven yet that he could be an efficient SF. If he ends up a combo that can not be a starting SF, Chicago will regret not to have traded down for Haliburton/Okoro or Avdija. Simonovic is as efficient on offense (shooting needs to improve) as he’s a weak link on defense as he lacks consistency to defend fours and length and strength to be a rim protector. Perry or Reed still available would have been better picks with the same profile (albeit less talented drivers)

Orlando : Cole Anthony (15th pick 6-2 PG UNC)

With Fultz still struggling with his shooting but potentially a part of Orlando’s future, the Magic added another PG who is forcing the issue even more. A former HS standout, Anthony is playing more like a scoring PG but his shooting numbers were less than average. Moreover, he has nice but not elite athleticism and lacks length with his short wingspan. There were far better picks at this stage at PG/combo guard who can shoot with Maledon or Maxey.

Utah : Udoka Azubuike (27th pick 7-0 C Kansas) Elijah Hugues (39th pick 6-7 SF Syracuse)

An elite body and athlete at 7-0 with a 7-7 wingspan and a 40+ inches vertical, the Kansas center is your typical bruiser inside and will find very few C to compete against him physically. Yet, with Gobert already playing the same role and need-filling player available at PG (Maledon) or PF (Bey, Tillman, Woodard), the Jazz could have improved their roster. Hugues needs to improve his shot selection and defense to crack into the rotation.


No grade

Milwaukee : Jordan Nwora (45th pick 6-7 SF Louisville) Sam Merrill (60th pick 6-5 PG Utah State)

It will be hard for Nwora to get minutes for the contending Bucks but his shooting could help him making up for Giannis’s lack of. Merril is already 25 so his upside (and athleticism) is more than limited despite his talent.

Portland : CJ Elleby (46th pick 6-7 SF/SG Washington State)

A bit of a tweener lacking size/length to play the three and shooting efficiency/footspeed to play the two, Elleby stays local but may never play this year with Hood, Little and Derrick Jones already in the roster.

Indiana : Cassius Stanley (51st pick 6-6 SG Duke)

An old freshman, Stanley has elite athleticism but needs to work on everything from his shooting to his passing ability and defense. Has the height but limited length/strength.

Houston : Kenyon Martin Jr (52nd pick 6-7 PF/SF IMG)

The son of former number one pick Kenyon Sr, Martin decided to make a fifth year in HS to transition from PF to SF. Elite athlete but lacks size at the PF while his skills need a lot of refining to play the three.

Brooklyn : Reggie Perry (57th pick 6-10 PF Mississipi State)

A well known prospect who played for Team USA in youth categories, the Mississipi bruiser had a very good soph year and has improved his shooting and ability to drive. Still needs to work to get minutes but with Brooklyn probably needing low-paid bench players, he might have the opportunity to step on the floor.