Tonight’s NBA Draft is going to be a wild ride.
With no clear-cut No. 1 pick — and more than enough time for teams to delve deep into studying the process during the coronavirus hiatus — there are more questions than answers heading into the 2020 NBA Draft. There have been a few trades (the Knicks moving up in the first round) and a Niagra Falls of rumors about other deals, which could lead to a bumpy ride as picks get announced then traded. Through it all there is some real talent in this draft, the question is which teams can identify and develop those players.
Here is a breakdown of every pick, every trade — complete with analysis of how that player fits (or doesn’t) with his new surroundings.
No. 1. Minnesota Timberwolves: Anthony Edwards, 6’5″ shooting guard, Georgia. Physically strong guard who is at his best using an explosive first step to drive to the rim, creating contact, and getting up the shot — he’s going to get buckets in the NBA. He’s a freight train that is difficult to stop in transition, but he also has a pull-up jumper that is a threat in the halfcourt. That shot can be a bit streaky, his decision making needs work, and he has been a disinterested defender, but he reportedly does have a good work ethic. Not all scouts love him, but he seems a good fit next to D’Angelo Russell and Karl-Anthony Towns in Minnesota.
No. 2. Golden State Warriors: James Wiseman, 7’1″ center, Memphis. He has the potential to be a very good center in the modern NBA game — he is incredibly mobile and athletic, has a 7’6″ wingspan, has the potential to be a strong rim-runner on offense who can space the floor a little, and on defense be a quality rim protector. He also needs seasons of development to get there — Wiseman is not plug-and-play — and he will have to accept that role and not try to be the next KD/Giannis/AD, facing up from 18 and taking his guy off the dribble. He will have a role with the Warriors.
No. 3. Charlotte Hornets: LaMelo Ball, 6’7″ guard, Illawarra Hawks (Australia). He has the highest ceiling of any player in this draft, but also the lowest floor of any player near the top of the draft. Ball is tall for a guard, already a gifted passer and ball handler who could become a pick-and-roll force at the NBA level, plus will help the Hornets in transition. The concerns are not just his weaknesses — poor shooting, terrible defense, needing to put in time on his playmaking decisions — but questions about his willingness to put in the work to fix those things. His performance in interviews with teams did not help that perception. But if this pick hits, Charlotte just found it’s franchise guy.
No. 4. Chicago Bulls: Patrick Williams, 6’8″ forward, Florida State. He was a late riser up draft boards and he shot all the way up to the top four. Williams has the physical tools to be one of the best players in this draft. He’s also raw and there is a lot of player development ahead of him. He is an elite athlete and has versatility as a scorer, with the ability to finish at the rim (with either hand) plus an improving jumper. He makes good decisions as a playmaker. He has potential as a top defender on and off the ball. If Billy Donovan and the Bulls can develop him this pick could look like a steal in a few years.
No. 5. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Bucks): Isaac Okoro, 6’6″ wing, Auburn. One of the top pure athletes in this draft and also the best perimeter defender in this draft — an excellent combination for the Cavaliers to add to their mix. He’s a smart player who works hard (on and off the court), he makes good decisions and that athleticism and strength lets him finish through contact at the rim. He is a poor jumpshooter — his mechanics need work — that teams will ignore off the ball in the halfcourt. Develop that shot and he could be the breakout pick of this draft.
No. 6. Atlanta Hawks: Onyeka Okongwu, 6’9″ power forward/center, USC. Could be the best big man in this draft in a few years, he has a role in the NBA because of his energy. A very strong defender who can do whatever is needed on the pick-and-roll — switch, hedge, or drop back and use his impressive bounce to block shots (he could be an elite shot blocker). Has potential on the offensive end, he’s a good ball handler and has soft hands, he’s a good passer, but his shot is inconsistent (at best) and his decision making needs work. He is bit undersized to be a starting five in the NBA, and is not a stretch four. Could develop into something special.
No. 7. Detroit Pistons: Killian Hayes, 6’5″ point guard, France. A big point guard, he showed he can be creative as the pick-and-roll ball handler playing professionally in France (with his team, Ulm, leaning on him) for a couple of seasons. Good change of speeds guard who likes the pull-up midrange jumper (if he can translate that to the NBA he becomes more valuable). Not an elite athlete at the NBA level, and he needs to be a better and more consistent defender.
No. 8. New York Knicks: Obi Toppin, 6’9″ forward, Dayton. Everyone’s favorite player to watch in college because of his ferocious dunks and ability to drain the deep three — two things that translate to the NBA. He will put on a show in the Garden. Can be a real threat as a pick setter in the NBA who can pop out to the three or roll hard to the rim and finish (he has good hands), or he can function out of the dunker’s spot. Plays hard. He’s a big liability on the defensive end, he can get pushed around by stronger players, and that may only change so much over time.
No. 9. Washington Wizards: Deni Avdija, 6’9″ wing, Maccabi Tel Aviv. Good pick who fell farther than expected to Washington. A big playmaking wing with versatility and fantastic decision making who can help run or be the passing hub of an offense. He’s played a full season at the highest levels of European basketball, teams know he can compete in the NBA. Solid defender in a team system. The concerns are his shooting — 27.7% from three last season and, more concerning, 55.6% on free throws — and he’s not an elite athlete at the NBA level. On a team with John Wall and Bradley Beal he serves as another playmaker that can help now.
No. 10. Phoenix Suns: Jalen Smith, 6’10” forward/center, Maryland. This was a lot higher than he was projected to go, he was seen as a late first/early second round pick (the Suns could have traded back and got him). Here is what caught scouts’ eyes with Smith: He’s 6’10” with a 7’1″ wingspan who shot 36.8% last season from three — he can be a modern stretch four (or five). He sets a good pick, can pop out or roll to the rim and finish (he has good hands), and he plays hard. He’s got to get stronger and he’s not a naturally fluid athlete, which could be an issue on the defensive end.
No. 11. San Antonio Spurs: Devin Vassell, 6’5″ wing, Florida State. One of the better perimeter defenders in this class, he has potential to develop into a quality 3&D player. He is a strong on-ball and team defender and plays with a high motor. Vassell also shot 41.5% from three last season. He’s not a shot creator or elite passer, but he fills a valuable role, and Gregg Popovich and the Spurs are masters of putting guys like this in positions to succeed.
- Sacramento Kings: Tyrese Haliburton, 6’5″ guard, Iowa State. A steal this far back in the draft A big guard with impressive playmaking skills, and he may be the highest basketball IQ player in the draft. Fantastic vision and decision making in the pick-and-roll, and he uses his change of pace to throw defenders off. Not an elite athlete, which limited his playmaking in college against better defenders, and will limit him defensively at the NBA level. Still a great get to the Kings to put in the backcourt with De’Aaron Fox.
No. 13. New Orleans Pelicans: Kira Lewis Jr., 6’3″ point guard, Alabama. With Jrue Holiday gone (and questions about Lonzo Ball‘s future in the Big Easy), the Pelicans went with a point guard. Lewis put up numbers for the Crimson Tide – 18.5 points and 5.2 assists a game, shooting 36.6% from three — a testament to his improved shooting. He is maybe the quickest player with the ball in this draft, but that has led to some recklessness with the ball as he plays a little too fast. He needs to become a more consistent playmaker and shooter. Lewis has lot of potential as a pick-and-roll point guard, he needs time to develop.
No. 14. Boston Celtics (via Memphis): Aaron Nesmith, 6’6″ wing, Vanderbilt. Arguably the best shooter in the draft (and every year those guys end up out performing their draft position), he hit 52.2% from three last season. Nesmith knows how to come off picks and knock down the catch-and-shoot, he can shoot off the bounce, and he has a good stepback three. He’s not going to drive and create for others, he’s just going to shoot. Not a great defender, but with his 6’10” wingspan and effort he’s solid on that end and can improve.
No. 15. Orlando Magic: Cole Anthony, 6’3″ point guard, North Carolina. Teams were all over the map on Anthony, but he generally fell as the draft process wore on. He is a score-first point guard who has fantastic handles and was able to create space for himself and hit shots at the college level. He brings toughness on both ends of the court. His detractors (and there are a lot of them) say his lack of high-level athleticism will make it difficult for him to get and make those same shots at the NBA level, and he’s not a great playmaker beyond that. Most project him more as a backup.
No. 16. Detroit Pistons (via Houston and Portland): Isaiah Stewart, 6’9″ power forward/center, Washington. Portland made the selection for Detroit, the pick was traded earlier in the day. Stewart has strong potential as a modern NBA rim-running big man. He has a 7’4″ wingspan, an NBA body weighing in at 250 pounds, and he plays with a high level of energy often outrunning defenders down the floor in transition (and reportedly has a strong work ethic). Stewart is strong on the glass on both ends. He has the potential to become a quality outside shooter as well. He’s not an explosive athlete by NBA standards, and his offensive decision making needs to improve, but there is potential here and he is a good pick to go next to Christian Wood (if Detroit can develop him).
WE HAVE A TRADE:
Oklahoma City will get the No. 17 pick from Minnesota for the No. 25 and No. 28 picks, plus Ricky Rubio.
No. 17. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Minnesota and Brooklyn): Aleksej Pokusevski, 7’0″ power forward/center, Serbia. This is a great roll of the dice here by an OKC team looking to rebuild and add top talent. Pokusevski is a seven footer who has impressive handles, is a good passer, and can shoot the rock from three — everything teams want in a modern big man. He’s also not physically ready or strong enough to defend well or display those offensive skills at an NBA level (he is the youngest player in the draft). He played for Olympiacos B in the Greek second division last season and put up good but not eye-popping numbers (10.8 points, 7.9 rebounds, 3.1 assists a game) but didn’t dominate at a not very high level of European play. Pokusevski is a project, but one with a high upside.
No. 18. Dallas Mavericks: Josh Green, 6’6″ wing, Arizona. He projects as a potential 3&D wing and quality rotation player. He defended well last season at Arizona, particularly on-ball because of his length (6’10” wingspan). He hit 36.1% from three last season but was not consistent and his form needs work. He has a good feel for the game, when to cut backdoor to the rim and make plays off closeouts, but he’s got to finish better at the rim and improve his handle.
WE HAVE A THREE WAY TRADE:
The Clippers sent Landry Shammet to Brooklyn for the No. 19 pick, then flipped that pick to Detroit for Luke Kennard. This is a three-way trade.
This is a three-way deal that includes the Pistons, with Luke Kennard heading to the Clippers, sources tell ESPN. https://t.co/Nmt9zcRIUE
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) November 19, 2020
No. 19. Detroit Pistons (via Brooklyn and L.A. Clippers): Saddiq Bey, 6’8″ wing, Villanova. A steal where the Pistons picked him. Good size for a wing with a 6’10” wingspan, he shot 45.1% from three, and he makes smart decisions with the ball and works hard off it. Solid defender with potential on that end. Look at the guys out of Villanova in recent years — Eric Paschall, Mikal Bridges, Donte DiVincenzo, Josh Hart — and you see guys who understand how to play the game and fit into an NBA role, helping a team quickly. Bey is one of those guys.
No. 20. Miami Heat: Precious Achiuwa, 6’9″ power forward/center, Memphis. The other big man out of Memphis (besides Wiseman), Achiuwa is incredibly athletic and very long — a 7’2″ wingspan and a standing reach of more than nine feet. He plays bigger than his size. What he brings is the kind of incredible motor and energy the Heat love. His skills make him a guy who can rim run and finish a pick-and-roll off a lob, he’s a beast in transition, and he has defensive versatility. The challenges are an unimpressive jump shot and his feel for the game is not great, leading to poor decisions on both ends of the court. He’s a bit of a project, but Miami is good with those players.
No. 21. Philadelphia 76ers (via Okalahoma City): Tyrese Maxey, 6’3″ guard, Kentucky. Maxey is versatile and can play either the one or the two, and he knows how to get to the rim off the pick-and-roll and score. He is an impressive on-ball defender (his 6’6″ wingspan helps) who also understands team defense. His jumper is not consistent, he’s not an elite athlete by NBA standards, and he needs to clean up his shot selection, but he’s one of those guards who brings toughness and just finds a way to make winning plays.
No. 22. Denver Nuggets: Zeke Nnaji, 6’10 power forward/center, Arizona. He has impressive size and athleticism, good hands and a respectable jump shot, but he is raw on both ends of the court and needs to be developed (Denver has time, they are pretty set at center with Nikola Jokic). Nnaji’s athleticism makes him an elite finisher at the rim, but his handles need work to better create space. Despite the athleticism he struggles to defend both on the perimeter and protecting the rim, and he needs to work on his offensive decision making. Nnaji is a project but one with the potential to develop into an impressive rotation big.
WE HAVE A THREE WAY TRADE:
After making the next selection, the Knicks traded Leandro Bolmaro to Minnesota for the No. 25 and 33 picks.
No. 23. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Utah and New York): Leandro Bolmaro, 6’8″ forward, Argentina. This pick was traded to the Timberwolves after it was made. This is a draft-and-stash pick as he has already chosen to remain in Barcelona, signing a three-year deal (which could be broken early, but not this year). He has potential as a secondary playmaker on the wing for an NBA team, Bolmaro has impressive handles and passing skills. However, his shot has got to become much better to take advantage of those other skills. He is a high IQ player and works hard on the defensive end. He played last season for FC Barcelona B, their second division team.
WE HAVE A TRADE:
The No. 22 pick was made by Oklahoma City but will bounce through a couple of trades to Denver.
Future pick going to New Orleans, sources said. https://t.co/1spqgBVsP8
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) November 19, 2020
No. 24. Denver Nuggets: (via Indiana and Milwaukee and New Orleans): R.J. Hampton, 6’5″ guard, Breakers (New Zealand). He may have slid down draft boards in the last year, but he remains one of the most explosive athletes in this draft — he can drive around guys and get to the rim (the finishing needs work). That athleticism and his scoring instincts give him potential, but both his shot (including his shooting form) and his decision making are inconsistent. He needs to be developed, but the potential is there.
No. 25. New York Knicks (via Minnesota, Oklahoma City, and Denver): Immanuel Quickley, 6’2″ guard, Kentucky. OKC made the pick but he will end up in New York after trades. Quickley was a force in college, scoring 16.1 points a game, shooting 42.8% from three, and winning SEC Player of the Year. He can shoot the rock and is a score-first guard. Defensively he was solid. However, he is really a two guard and is undersized in that role at the next level, he’s not explosive and will struggle to finish at the rim against NBA defenders. Scouts have questions about whether he is athletic enough to do the same things in the NBA that made him such a success at Kentucky, but the Knicks are believers.
No. 26. Boston Celtics: Payton Pritchard, 6’2″ point guard, Oregon. He had a very productive senior season for the Ducks, showing he could attack the rim off the pick-and-roll, pull up from the midrange, and bomb deep threes (he shot 42% from beyond the arc last season). He’s more of a scorer than a playmaker. He works hard on the defensive end. He is not an elite athlete, but he showed a lot more polish as a senior and could be a guy able to give the Celtics rotation minutes.
No. 27. Utah Jazz: Udoka Azubuike, 7’0″ center, Kansas. His size caught scouts’ eyes: 270 pound, 7’8″ wingspan and a 9’4″ standing reach. That size made him dominant in the college game, where he bullied teams inside, and his offensive game took steps forward. It’s much harder to play that way against the men inside in the NBA, and his 44% free throw shooting is a concern. He’s an old-school big man at a time the game is moving away from that, but there could be a role for him in the league.
No. 28. Minnesota Timberwolves (via L.A. Lakers and Oklahoma City): Jaden McDaniels, 6’10” forward, Washington. A player whose game may translate better in the NBA than in college because he will find more space to use his length and agility. There were nights in college he showed the promise of a top-level high school recruit — good handles, good shot form, can finish and play above the rim — and other games college defenses swallowed him up (and he got frustrated at points, picking up technicals). He’s a project, but his athleticism, handles, and form on his shot show the potential of a quality NBA player, if he can develop. He’s got to get much stronger.
No. 29. Toronto Raptors: Malachi Flynn, 6’1″ point guard, San Diego State. He was the heart of a surprisingly good Aztec team last season and he does a lot of things well: Run the pick-and-roll and make smart passes out of it, shoot off the dribble, make good decisions, and he works hard on the defensive end. He’s not an elite athlete and that will be an issue at times, but he makes up for it with a high motor and work ethic. He has the potential to be be a solid backup PG in the league.
WE HAVE A TRADE:
Boston is sending the No. 30 pick to Memphis.
No. 30. Memphis Grizzlies (via Boston): Desmond Bane, 6’5″ guard, TCU. One of the best shooters in the draft, odd mechanics or not he hit 44.2% of his threes his senior season (on 6.5 attempts a game). He works hard coming off picks and can knock down shots, he’s good at relocation and finding space, and he’s improved as a ball handler (although that is an area that still needs a lot of development). Works hard on defense but is not a great athlete, is not long and will not be a plus defender in the NBA. Memphis just put a knockdown shooter with Ja Morant, that could be a beautiful thing.
No. 31. Dallas Mavericks (via Golden State): Tyrell Terry, 6’1″ point guard, Stanford. One of the better shooters in this draft, he hit 40.8% from three last season for the Cardinal and has deep range. He’s also a fluid athlete with a good feel for the game on offense, although his shot selection needs to improve. He’s undersized and needs to add a lot of strength/muscle, he is going to get hunted by bigger and stronger ball-handling guards on defense. Terry is a bit of a project but could become a quality NBA point guard.
No. 32. Charlotte Hornets (via Cleveland): Vernon Carey Jr., 6’10” center, Duke. Carey is an old-school center, but with some good footwork and ability to get off his jump hook around the rim. He was able to use his size and strength to bully defenders around the rim in college, but that will not be much more difficult in the NBA, plus that is not the direction the game is evolving. Carey has struggled to defend well in space. He’s going to have to grow his game to be more than a backup/situational center in the NBA.
No. 33. Los Angeles Clippers (via New York and Minnesota): Daniel Oturu, 6’10” center, Minnesota. Perfect early second-round roll of the dice by the Clipers. There is a lot of potential here as a floor-spacing big man in the modern game. Oturu put up numbers at Minnesota — 20.1 points 11.3 rebounds, 2.7 blocks a game — and showed his 36.5% shooting from three was not a fluke. He has all the skills, but Oturu is very raw and is going to take some time to develop to an NBA level, his game awareness is limiting on both ends of the court. He could see time in the G-League, but if the Clippers can develop him this pick might look like a steal in a few years.
No. 34. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Philadelphia and Atlanta): Theo Maledon, 6’4″ guard, France. Played well for ASVEL in the top French league (that’s Tony Parker’s team), meaning he’s been tested at a higher level than most in this draft. He can play on or off the ball, is quick, and plays smart. He’s not an elite athlete by NBA standards and he needs to add muscle, but his basketball IQ and work ethic point to someone who could stick in the NBA.
No. 35. Memphis Grizzlies (via Sacramento and Detroit): Xavier Tillman, 6’8″ power forward/center, Michigan State He’s an undersized big man who plays an old-school game on offense. He’s not an explosive athlete, and he’s not going to be able to post up guys and bully them to get buckets. What teams like about him is he brings a high motor and great defensive instincts. Tillman was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, and he can switch on a pick and guard out on the perimeter. Tillman is also strong on the boards and is a tough player.
No. 36. Dallas Mavericks (via Philadelphia and New York): Tyler Bey, 6’7″ forward, Colorado He is an impressive athlete, has an NBA build, and was the Pac 12 Defensive Player of the Year — Bey should be able to step in and help on that end from Day 1. The challenge is a very inconsistent jump shot that will have teams daring him to shoot on the other end. Develop Bey, get that jumper to fall and you have a quality 3&D rotation player.
No. 37. Washington Wizards: Vit Krejci, 6’8″ guard, Czech Republic. He has been traded to Oklahoma City after being selected. An unexpected pick. Played most recently for Basket Zaragoza in Spain. He played limited minutes but has an impressive highlight reel for an under-21 player. He is a project who will spend a few more years in Spain developing, but the Wizards rolled the dice on a 6’8″ point forward.
No. 38. Detroit Pistons (via Utah): Saben Lee, 6’2″ guard, Vanderbilt. The Pistons are betting on athleticism here, Lee is an explosive athlete who is tough to stop once he gets rolling downhill, and he’s a strong finisher at the rim. The challenge is right now his game is all athleticism — he needs to become a much better shooter and decision maker, plus in the NBA even the most explosive guards need a floater. He’s got to improve defensively. Lee has the tools, this is a bet on player development and some time in the G-League.
No. 39. Utah Jazz: Elijah Hughes, 6’7″ wing, Syracuse. The Pelicans made this pick but he is headed to Utah as part of a trade. Hughes was the primary shot creator for Syracuse last season, averaging 19 points 4.9 rebounds, and 3.4 assists a game. He did most of his scoring in isolation and as the pick-and-roll ball handler, how he adapts to playing off the ball remains to be seen. He’s got great range as a shooter but is not consistent with his shot, something that needs to improve. Hughes has the build and potential to develop into a solid wing player in the league.
- Sacramento Kings: Robert Woodard, 6’7″ swingman, Mississippi State. A lot of potential to play either forward spot if he can develop. Woodard has got a strong 6’7″ frame with a 7’1″ wingspan, he shot 42.9% from three last season (2.3 attempts a game), and he has impressive defensive potential because of his length. He is not a shot creator — his handles need work, and is isn’t a fantastic decision maker — but there could be a role for him on the wing down the line as his game evolves and improves.
No. 41. San Antonio Spurs: Tre Jones, 6’2″ point guard, Duke The brother of Memphis’s Tyus Jones, teams were divided on him. Some see a potential defense-first starting point guard. Others see a game-managing back-up with a limited role. If he’s going to live up to the promise of a starter he’s got to become a better finisher at the rim and become a more consistent shooter (his three point percentage did jump to 36% his sophomore season).
No. 42. Charlotte Hornets (via New Orleans): Nick Richards, 6’11” center, Kentucky. He has the build of an NBA center and uses that size well to protect the paint, both as a shot block and just clogging driving lanes. He has the athleticism of an NBA big and shows flashes of potential, including a jump shot and the ability to defend in space, but none of it is consistent. He doesn’t seem to have a natural feel for the game. He was a top recruit out of high school and could get closer to that potential with some good development by the Pelicans.
- Sacramento Kings: Jahmi’us Ramsey, 6’4″ guard, Texas Tech. One of the youngest players in the draft, he already has an NBA build and comes in as a score-first guard who averaged 15 points a game last season. He’s done a lot of damage as an isolation scorer, he’s shows some passing and defensive potential, but Sacramento is betting his shooting skills improve, which would make him a solid secondary shot creation option (or sixth man). Ramsey has potential but needs to be developed over time.
No. 44. Chicago Bulls: Marko Simonovic, 6’11” center, Montenegro. This is a draft-and-stash pick that could develop in a few years and payoff for the Bulls. Simonovic played last season for Mega in Serbia. He is a mobile big with footwork and athleticism and could develop into a stretch five, someone with a pick-and-pop game. He’s got to improve his defense, his feel for the game, and make his shot more consistent. The Bulls can be patient and see all that happens.
- Milwaukee Bucks: Jordan Nwora, 6’7″ forward, Louisville. A catch-and-shoot specialist on the wing, he shot 40.2% from three and 66% on catch-and-shoot chances last season for the Cardinals. He is good at relocating and finding open space. He could play either forward spot in the NBA. The challenge is he’s not an elite athlete, his handle isn’t great and if a defense makes him put it on the floor he’s less dangerous as a shooter. Also, he’s got work to do on his defense. He’s a project to become a rotation player, but grabbing a guy who can shoot the rock in the second round is never a bad idea.
No. 46. Portland Trail Blazers: C.J. Elleby, 6’6″ wing, Washington State. He averaged 18.4 points per game for the Cougers last season, but he didn’t do it efficiently, including shooting just 33.9% from three. Some of that may have been how he was used, in the NBA he’d be just an off-ball shooter. He’s not athletic or a shot creator by NBA standards, but he was a solid defender. If he can adjust his game to an off-the-ball, catch-and-shoot role maybe he can develop into a role player for Portland.
No. 47. Boston Celtics: Yam Madar, 6’3″ guard, Israel. Played last season for Hapoel Tel Aviv, he’s a high-energy player and a pesky defender who never gives up. He plays a smart game on both ends and has fantastic floor vision, making him a very good passer. The challenge is his shot, which needs a lot of work. More of a draft-and-stash player at age 19 to see if he can develop overseas into an NBA-level player.
No. 48. Golden State Warriors: Nico Mannion, 6’3″ point guard, Arizona. He showed flashes of impressive scoring and playmaking in college — his 23-point game against Illinois was a highlight — but he was very inconsistent. Mannion can shoot from three and knows how to finish at the rim, and he’s a solid floor general, but he is not a standout athlete, will struggle to create a lot at the NBA level, and it raises defensive questions. If he can become a dangerous shooter (32.7% from three last season) he would be a solid rotation point guard, but he needs to develop an NBA-level skill he can rely on.
No. 49. Philadelphia 76ers (via Okalahoma City): Isaiah Joe, 6’5″ wing, Arkansas. One of the better pure shooters in the draft, don’t be fooled by his 34.2% mark from three last season, he had to carry a heavy load in the Razorback offense and with that had to take some tough shots. Joe can knock it down. The challenge is Joe doesn’t do much of anything else at near an NBA level and needs to be developed. He needs to improve his handle, get stronger, and become a better and more committed defender.
No. 50. Atlanta Hawks: Skylar Mays, 6’4″ guard, LSU. A high IQ player with a real feel for the game, Mays uses hesitation moves to create space, reads the floor well as a pick-and-roll ball handler, and shot 39.1% from three last season. He’s a solid, strong defender. What held him back is he’s not an explosive athlete by NBA standards and may have trouble translating his game at the next level. Older at 22, but potentially could contribute more right away than others in this draft range.
No. 51. Golden State Warriors: Justinian Jessup, 6’7″ wing, Boise State. Jessup has good size for an NBA wing and is a knock-down shooter (career 40% from three while carrying a heavy load for Boise). His size and high IQ play makes teams want to give him a chance in a Duncan Robinson kind of way. However, he may not be an NBA-level athlete and that could become a real issue on the defensive end. This late in the draft, never a bad call to draft and develop a shooter.
- Houston Rockets (via Sacramento): Kenyon Martin Jr., 6’7″ forward, IMG Academy. Yes, he’s the son of former No.1 pick and All-star Kenyon Martin, but he goes by K.J. What he got from his father was elite athleticism and size — he’s as good an athlete as there is in the draft. He can play through contact because of his strength and has great defensive potential. The challenge is his game is just raw — he needs to improve his dribbling, shooting, and ability to read the game on the offensive end of the court. He is a good bet as a two-way player who spends most of his time in the G-League developing. A good gamble this late in the draft.
No. 53. Washington Wizards (via Oklahoma City): Cassius Winston, 6’1″ point guard, Michigan State. Winston enters the NBA after four years in East Lansing as a crafty league guard who knows how to run a pick-and-roll and use his change of speed to create space for his shot. Dangerous pull-up shooter. Not an elite athlete, may struggle to finish at the rim in the NBA, and will have challenges defensively. However, he can step in right now with some backup point guard minutes behind John Wall in Washington.
No. 54. Indiana Pacers: Cassius Stanley, 6’6″ wing, Duke. The Pacers have made a bet on athleticism with this pick — Stanley is one of the best pure athletes in this draft. He has an amazing first step and once around his guy he knows how to finish at the rim. The rest of his game needs a lot of work — he’s not a great shooter, he should be better at defense than he is (considering his athleticism). If Indiana can help him improve his shot and defensive instincts then they will have a guy who can contribute, but there is a lot of development work to do.
No. 55. Los Angeles Clippers (via Brooklyn): Jay Scrubb, 6’6″ wing, John A. Logan Junior College. He’s an NBA-level athlete but one who is very raw, and the bet here by the Clippers is that they can develop him over time into a rotation player. He’s uses his athleticism to attack the paint and also has a nice floater. His effort was inconsistent at the Juco level. Offensively all he does is try to score, he is not a playmaker. There’s a lot of development needed, but he is an NBA-level athlete.
No. 56. Charlotte Hornets: Grant Riller, 6’3″ guard, University of Charleston. He’s some scouts favorite sleeper, he’s a polished scorer at the mid-major level who averaged 21.9 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 3.9 assists a game last season. He can score but the question is can he do much else to keep himself on an NBA court? He’s not a great athlete, which limits him some defensively, and he’s not an elite passer. That said, he is polished enough to help a team sooner rather than later.
No. 57. Brooklyn Nets (via L.A. Clippers): Reggie Perry, 6’9″ center, Mississippi State. He’s undersized but strong enough at 250 pounds to be physical inside, he works hard and he put up numbers last season in college — 17.4 points and 10.1 rebounds a game. In workouts he reportedly showed an improving three point touch, which would up his value in the league. He’s got to show a better feel for the game with his decision making, and he’s got to prove he’s a better defender, but worth a shot here.
No. 58. Philadelphia 76ers (via Okalahoma City): Paul Reed, 6’9″ power forward, DePaul. His strength appears to be on the defensive end as a long, switchable on-ball defender who has some bounce and protects the rim, providing he can do that at the NBA level. Offensively he is a big who runs the floor well in transition and could be a rim runner. If you believe his shot can come around (33% from three last season) then he has potential as a rotation big. He’s a project.
No. 59. Toronto Raptors: Jalen Harris, 6’4″ guard, Nevada Harris was an impressive scorer for the Wolfpack — knocking down threes, getting to the rim, and he is especially strong from the midrage. Harris can get some buckets in the NBA. The concern is how well he will play off the ball — at the NBA level he will not have the ball in his hands much. When he doesn’t have the ball his effort seems to wane, both defensively and moving off the ball. He has potential as a player to develop, but there is work to do.
- Milwaukee Bucks (via New Orleans): Sam Merrill, 6’5″ guard, Utah State. Surprised he slid this far down draft boards, a lot of teams had him higher up (like in the 30s). Merrill has good size and is one of the better shooters and scorers in this draft. He shot 41% from three, he can pull up from there, is effective off dribble handoffs, and he can get into the midrange and pull up. Merrill plays a smart game. The challenge is he’s not athletic by NBA standards and that is going to be a big issue defensively. Plus, he’s 24, he’s older and teams expect less growth. Still, he could step in and knock down shots for the Bucks in a role next season. This last pick could be one of the steals of this draft.