With an incredible three months of NBA Bubble Ball now in the books, the NBA Draft is finally less than a month away (exactly four weeks from tonight!)
Back in August, Jake and Jack released their first Canis Hoopus Big Board, which featured the Top 10 prospects in the 2020 NBA Draft. Since then, we have been fortunate enough to bring Tyler Metcalf, an incredibly insightful draft mind, into the fold here at Canis and he joined the fun for version 2.0 of the Big Board, which includes 20 prospects.
A couple of notes for the big board:
- This is not an overall big board, but rather one looking at things from the Timberwolves perspective.
- We have added in where each person has each player ranked on his individual big board.
- If a player appeared in version 1.0, you can see his previous ranking.
Enjoy version 2.0, complete with over 13,000 words of analysis!
1. Isaac Okoro
Current Age: 19.56
Measurables: 6-foot-6, 225 pounds, 6-foot-9 wingspan
Stats (Per 36): 14.7 points, 5.1 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.1 steals, 1.0 blocks, 2.2 turnovers, 3.57 PIPM
Shooting: 51.4% FG, 28.6% 3PT, 67.2% FT, 58.7% TS, 55.6% EFG
Individual Boards: Jake (4), Tyler (2), Jack (1)
Previous Ranking: 7
Is being my favorite player to watch in this year’s draft class a strength? If so, I will lead with that for Isaac Okoro. Every time I watched Okoro live, his athleticism, energy, defensive clamps, and all-out effort stood out within a matter of minutes each time. He is very Josh Okogie-like on the defensive end. He is big, physical, not afraid to guard anyone, and takes pride in shutting opposing stars down. Okoro moves very well laterally, has explosive bounce at the rim to block shots, and often displays impressive range and instincts when playing off-ball.
On the offensive end, his ability to put the ball on the deck, get to the rim, and draw fouls is exceptional; his free-throw rate is a whopping 0.551, which is astronomical for a wing player. Isaac treats the rim like he has something personal against it and it is a joy to watch him destroy people with dunks off of cuts or in transition. Even when he is stopped on a straight-line drive, he is a very underrated playmaker for a wing and should continue to success and grow that aspect of his game playing in a more spaced out NBA.
Okoro does an awesome job of using his athleticism to set defenders up on the perimeter for back-door and split cuts, which will always translate well to the NBA level. Having a few very reliable skills can help a rookie find confidence to build off of, and thankfully Okoro has a couple of those skills. Isaac can absolutely rely on his slashing and on-ball defense to find success in the NBA early on, which could be huge for his development.
Okoro’s main weakness is his free throw and perimeter shooting struggles. He averaged 5.5 free-throws per 36 minutes — which is a terrific number for a college wing — but only converted on 67.2 percent of them. He needs to improve on that mark if he wants to be able to contribute consistently on both ends of the floor. The shooting touch extends out to the 3-point line, as well. Okoro connected on just 28.6 percent of his looks from deep.
His shot form is actually pretty decent for a poor percentage shooter, but needs some tweaking in the upper half of his body motion if he wants to improve his perimeter game. He flashes great touch and balance finishing around the rim, and can make some off-dribble step-backs, but the J is inconsistent. I would also love to see Okoro use the drive as a way to create for shooters at the next level. He averaged just 2.3 assists (while turning it over 2.2 times) per game and will need to clean that up at the NBA level.
Josh Okogie and Isaac Okoro were your two hyper-athletic wing stoppers surrounding D-Lo, KAT, and an offensively-minded 4? If either of those two players developed a consistently reliable 3-point shot, the Timberwolves would be one of the most fun teams to watch in the entire league. I am not saying that as a Wolves fan (who has not enjoyed watching this team for most of the past two seasons) that is over-hyping the team, but rather as one who tries to watch as much of every team in the league as I can. If you love JO, you would adore Isaac Okoro, who is JO but with a lot more offensive upside.
Fit With Minnesota (8/10)
The Wolves need shooting off the bench badly and unfortunately, Okoro does not provide that (or at least will not initially). Since he does not create his own shot consistently (he has shown some flashes of step-back shooting), he would likely have to play significant minutes with an offensive creator such as D’Angelo Russell or Karl-Anthony Towns in order to help him generate spot-up looks or deliver him the ball on his cuts. Okoro would instantly raise the defensive capability of the team, and I have few doubts about how his defense will translate to the next level. He has an outstanding frame, excellent lateral agility, and could play the 3, with Josh at the 4, because of his switchability both up and down.
Okoro has an increased floor as a high level slasher and defender, and is perceived to have a lower ceiling on offense than Edwards or LaMelo Ball, but I am confident enough in him reaching his ceiling to love him in Minnesota. Rosas loves to make huge bets and if the Wolves end up with the third or fourth, I would not be surprised if the front office selected Okoro whatsoever. To me, he has the greatest potential of any prospect in the draft, and if he pans out on offense, he could very well be a huge steal at the top of the board.
2. Anthony Edwards
Current Age: 19.03
Measurables: 6-foot-5, 225 pounds, 6-foot-9 wingspan
Stats (Per 36): 20.8 points, 5.7 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.5 steals, 3.0 turnovers, 3.66 PIPM
Shooting: 40.2% FG, 29.4% 3PT, 77.2% FT, 52% TS, 47.3% EFG
Individual Boards: Jake (2), Tyler (4), Jack (3)
Previous Ranking: 2
The biggest and brightest tick in Anthony Edwards’ box is his physical and athletic profile. Standing at 6-foot-5 and weighing in at a strong 225 pounds is already a plus, but when you sprinkle in his insane above-the-rim athleticism and his ability to turn defenders to dust with his first step, he should waltz into the NBA as a top-tier athlete in a variety of ways.
He mixes that quick-twitch athleticism with crossovers, side-steps and step-backs that create the kind of space for jump shots that a superstar possesses. His shot selection and the perimeter creators around him at Georgia both anchored his shooting percentages, but Edwards flashed enough world-class shot-making to believe he can be, at minimum, a passable shooter at the next level.
When Edwards is engaged and in attack mode, there isn’t a question over whether he is the best prospect in this draft class. Unfortunately, he fails to hit those marks far too often. Whether it’s his oft-horrendous off-ball defense, the perceived necessity to choose contested jumpers over attacking the rim or the mental lapses that see him drift in and out of games for long stretches, there is serious red flags with Edwards’ game.
Deciphering whether this was a function of Georgia’s wretched offense or another reason that can be eliminated from Edwards’ game in an NBA system will be the make or break decision for whatever team he ends up on. With all his talent, though, it’s hard to see outside any team’s top three.
A kick up the rear end from an NBA coach fighting for his job lights a spark that gets fanned into an inferno? Edwards has a foundation that every single basketball player in the world would die for. If he harnesses it in the right way, it will be hard to keep him off All-Star and All-NBA teams.
Fit With Minnesota (7/10)
Ideally, Edwards has the ability to play on or off the ball, initiate offense, hold his own defensively and take over a game at the drop of a hat. Slotting in on the wing where Minnesota is still craving depth between Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell, it seems to be a match made in heaven.
However, the mental make-up is an issue, and if Edwards is never able to shake off his flaws and weave himself into a system (rather than the system weaving itself to him), it could get ugly. At the end of the day, you have to bet on the talent and positional fit that the 19-year-old brings and deal with the rest later on.
3. Killian Hayes
Team: Ratiopharm Ulm (Germany)
Current Age: 19.06
Measurables: 6-foot-5, 190 pounds, 6-foot-8 wingspan
Stats (Per 36): 16.8 points, 4.1 rebounds, 7.8 assists, 2.1 steals, 4.7 turnovers, 1.23 PIPM
Shooting: 48.2% FG, 29.4% 3PT, 87.6% FT, 58.5% TS, 53.5% EFG
Individual Boards: Jake (1), Tyler (7), Jack (2)
Previous Ranking: 1
Coming into the NBA, Hayes has the potential to shine immediately in a number of areas. With excellent vision, patience and technique, his ability to manipulate and punish defenses out of the pick-and-roll with pinpoint passes to shooters in the corners or to the rolling big man will be at the top of the list. Outside of the pick-and-roll, he has no problems playing creator for his teammates, as he is constantly looking to make the right play. The 19-year-old balances his facilitating chops with an elite blend of shot-creation and versatility, flashing advanced step-back and side-step maneuvers to free himself for a jump shot.
Defensively, Hayes thrived both on and off the ball in Germany. Going against grown men who outweigh him nine times out of ten, Hayes’ tenacity and awareness shone. His lateral movement and positioning has improved tenfold over the past 18 months, and his fast hands and ability to play the passing lanes created great steals numbers. He won’t enter the NBA as a lockdown defender, but there is a lot of reason for optimism and trust in his rapid growth on that end of the floor.
The biggest weakness in Killian Hayes’ game right now is his complete dependence on his left hand. This hinders him in all areas, whether it be dribbling, finishing or passing. It should be a somewhat fixable flaw, but right now it’s something that coaches will pinpoint and game plan against.
The other gaping hole in the young French starlet’s game is his inefficiency on catch-and-shoot jumpers. While he was able to convert on 45.8 percent of his off-the-dribble attempts, he knocked down a paltry 22.2 percent of his catch-and-shoot jumpers. Nothing screams red flag in terms of his shooting form and release speed, but he hasn’t shown the ability to knock down standstill shots as of yet.
Hayes learns to operate off the ball and provide true value to a team as a player who can operate as a primary or secondary initiator? If he can combine the playmaking and shot creation with the ability the move without the ball and hit spot-up shots at a respectable clip, he could hit a high-end outcome of a CJ McCollum or a D’Angelo Russell.
Fit With Minnesota (9/10)
As a ball-dominant, left-handed point guard, there might some be some potential redundancies with D’Angelo Russell, and the aforementioned catch-and-shoot troubles would need to improve to truly maximize his fit next to the Wolves’ new franchise pillar.
With that said, it’s not hard to get lost in the positive possibilities that a Hayes-Timberwolves partnership could provide. As a spread pick-and-roll instigator, Hayes would create enough of his own offense to keep fans happy. More importantly, he would optimize Karl-Anthony Towns’ all-round offensive brilliance as a roller and popper while simultaneously feeding shooters like Russell and Malik Beasley a healthy diet of open triples.
Defensively, Hayes should be able to help Towns improve as a defender with his point-of-attack defense and improve the overall defensive efficiency with his well-rounded game. He isn’t the sexiest name out there, but there is a real chance that Killian Hayes ends up the best player from this draft class.
4. Devin Vassell
Team: Florida State
Current Age: 19.99
Measurables: 6-foot-7, 195 pounds, 6-foot-10 wingspan
Stats (Per 36): 15.9 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.8 steals, 1.2 blocks, 1.0 turnovers, +6.23 PIPM
Shooting: 49.0% FG, 41.5% 3PT, 73.8% FT, 58.5% TS, 56.5% EFG
Individual Boards: Jake (5), Tyler (5), Jack (4)
Previous Ranking: 3
Devin Vassell is a strong candidate to be the best two-way player from the 2020 NBA Draft Class. At 6-foot-7 with a 6-foot-10 wingspan, he has good size for a wing and uses it to his advantage on both ends of the floor. On offense, he has a smooth jumper with a very high release point that allows him to deploy a mean pull-up over smaller defenders and create his own shot at all three levels. Devin shot 41.5 percent from downtown on 3.5 attempts, a relatively significant sample size for an ancillary offensive college wing.
Per Synergy Sports, he ranked in the 80th and 87th percentiles in spot up and catch-and-shoot situations, respectively, which will translate very well to a spaced out NBA. Vassell is also an excellent transition player who understands spacing very well and knows when to crash to the basket versus fly out to the corners and wings for open 3s. He shot a mind-boggling 70.8 percent in transition looks, putting him in the 94th percentile across all of college basketball.
On the defensive end, Devin Vassell was everywhere at Florida State. He has immense range off-ball to go along with impeccable timing and a high defensive basketball IQ. Vassell’s positioning when the ball is on the weak side is NBA-ready, as is his rotational shot blocking, which is a big need when KAT gets dragged away from the basket. While playing off-ball in the PnR, Vassell digs quite well and uses his hands very well to cause deflections, steals, and passes to the perimeter.
Devin is no slouch while locking in on the ball, too. He can flip his hips quickly, which enables him to turn ball handlers and defend guards without needing a switch or help defense on a consistent basis. When guards get by him, he has excellent recovery instincts and frequently was able to get his shoulders square to the basket in order to contest and block shots going straight up without fouling.
Vassell’s rather mediocre handle holds him back from being a truly elite prospect. Given his size, high release point, and proven jump shot off of basic dribble moves, an excellent handle could transform the Florida State product from very solid two-way prospect to potential two-way high-end starter or star. Granted Vassell’s offense has never been the strongest aspect of his game, but time with NBA development staff and living in the gym will do so much good for Devin and his long-term viability in a modern NBA offense.
In order to more fully maximize his size and length on offense, I would love to see DV become a more active cutter in the half-court. He could be dangerous in split cut actions and on the back side when the defense does not lock in on him as a shooter. Given his somewhat limited athleticism, cutting would be a much easier way for him to consistently put pressure on the rim and make life easier for his teammates. He was primarily used as a spot-up guy on offense when he did not have the ball in his hands and he will have to put in serious work in what does without the ball if he wants to be an impactful offensive player in the NBA.
Vassell’s handle improves to the point where he can kill smaller guards in the mid-range? We all know that the mid-range will never be the focus of either NBA offenses or defenses, but NBA defenses playing more and more drop coverage has opened up increased opportunities for wings to operate in the mid-range. Devin Booker and Kawhi Leonard put on nightly clinics in mid-range, largely because of their supreme body control, tight handles, excellent footwork, and high release points. Vassell has 2.5 of those four boxes checked.
He has great body control, pretty good footwork, and a solid high release point. With growing space for players to go to work in the mid-range, it could be a tremendous avenue for Devin to gain confidence as a scorer and shot creator on the offensive end.
Fit with Minnesota (9/10)
Devin Vassell is arguably the best fit for the Wolves in the 2020 class. Minnesota needs two-way talent on the wing in the worst of ways. The team still needs more shooting, particularly off the bench, as well as players that can defend multiple positions and make plays while off-ball on D. Vassell is an excellent spot-up shooter that would allow Ryan Saunders to place three terrific shooters around franchise cornerstone Karl-Anthony Towns. I love the prospect of Vassell playing free safety while running with the Minnesota bench and allowing him to play through aggressive mistakes. He is too small to play the 4 at just 195 pounds, but if he bulks up to 215 or 220 pounds, he could very well make the transition to the 4 spot, which would pair nicely with Towns in the frontcourt.
5. Onyeka Okongwu
Team: University of Southern California
Current Age: 19.68
Measurables: 6-foot-9, 245 pounds, 7-foot-1 wingspan
Stats (Per 36): 19.0 points, 10.2 rebounds, 3.2 blocks, 1.4 steals, 2.3 turnovers, 7.15 PIPM
Shooting: 61.6% FG, 72% FT, 64.5% TS, 61.8% EFG
Individual Boards: Jake (7), Tyler (6), Jack (5)
Previous Ranking: 5
Onyeka Okongwu’s game is primarily predicated on two things: ferociously diving to the rim on offense and causing havoc as a big defender on the other end. While it’s not the diverse game that some of his top-five counterparts possess, Okongwu knows his strengths and plays to them in an exceptional fashion.
His straight-line speed and bounce is jaw-dropping from a man who has the ability to play permanently as an NBA center, and his touch around the rim make him almost impossible to stop when he gets rolling toward the rim — especially when you consider how well he sets and gets out of screens. He has transferred that touch and combined it with solid footwork to make him a reliable post-up threat, but his main source of scoring is going to come as a lane launcher after receiving a pass.
Defensively, Okongwu will be able to guard both big man positions effectively. He makes up for a relative lack of height with a strong frame, elite timing and impeccable technique. He has no problems eviscerating shots at the rim and covers ground brilliantly in the pick-and-roll. The former Trojan isn’t going to be able to contain wings and guards on a regular basis, but teams shouldn’t be too concerned about the odd mismatch here and there.
The NBA has changed, and bigs around the league are increasingly being asked to shoot the deep ball or risk being left behind the curve. Unfortunately, Okongwu has yet to show any inkling that he is comfortable launching from behind the arc. He attempted just four triples at USC, the only one that tickled the twine being a 75-foot end-of-half heave.
The freshman didn’t just struggle to shoot from long-distance in college, he didn’t flash any real capabilities of being able to do anything from above the free throw line with the ball in hand. He doesn’t have the handle to get downhill or create for himself off the dribble.
Okongwu develops even a low 30-percent 3-point shot? Well, if that happens he is virtually a lock to be the best player from this class. Being able to stretch the floor as well as providing a huge rim-rolling presence and exceptionally versatile defense equates to one of the best big men in the league. That seems like a pipe dream for now, though.
Fit With Minnesota (6/10)
Make no mistake about it, having a guy who can cover the back-side defensively and provide efficient offense is something the Timberwolves could seriously use alongside Karl-Anthony Towns. Unfortunately, the system Minnesota runs on both ends would fail to truly maximize Okongwu’s greatest strengths. Unless they think he is a guy who is worth make serious changes to the system for, it’s unlikely he will ever truly thrive in Minnesota.
On offense, Ryan Saunders’ five-out system wouldn’t be conducive to the kind of constant rim-running that Okongwu needs to assert himself, and he would be virtually useless standing around the arc. He would still be able to set those punishing screens and initiate hand-off action, but you don’t draft a guy top-five for just that.
Defensively, Okongwu’s best self is as a pick-and-roll defender who is allowed to hedge — putting high and immediate pressure on the ball-handler — and recover quickly back to his man. Unless Minnesota change their stripes (which isn’t out of the realm of possibility), they are a drop coverage team for now. Okongwu can certainly drop, but it’s just another area where he isn’t used to his fullest capabilities.
6. LaMelo Ball
Team: Illawarra Hawks (Australia)
Current Age: 18.99
Measurables: 6-foot-7, 185 pounds, 6-foot-10 wingspan
Stats (Per 36): 19.6 points, 8.7 rebounds, 7.9 assists, 1.8 steals, 2.9 turnovers, 0.62 PIPM
Shooting: 37.5% FG, 25.0% 3PT, 72.3% FT, 45.9% TS, 42.5% EFG
Individual Boards: Jake (3), Tyler (9), Jack (8)
Previous Ranking: 4
While scouts and draft experts are at odds over what parts of Ball’s game will translate to the NBA, the two aspects of his game that are undoubtedly NBA-ready are his off-the-charts vision/basketball IQ and playmaking. LaMelo is a creative floor general both in the PnR in the half-court, which enables him to make all of his teammates better on the offensive end of the floor. His handle is rather advanced for his age and as it improves, he will only become more deadly as a playmaker and a scorer; not to mention, the degree of difficulty on his most ambitious passes is ridiculous, too, and he often makes those look easy. Ball has incredible size at the 1, standing at 6-foot-7, 185 pounds, and he boasts a vulturous 6-foot-10 wingspan, which should help him make up for his rather poor defensive instincts and effort.
Ball shot a measly 25 percent from behind the 3-point arc, but is a much better shooter than his percentages indicate. He has wonderful touch around the basket on floaters and can knock down a wide array of tough jumpers that most 19-year-olds simply cannot. His range extends out to the parking lot, but with added spacing in an NBA offense, I fully expect LaMelo to connect on 3’s at a league-average rate. When he gets going on offense, he plays with an unmatched swagger and rhythm that make him a showtime prospect who can sell tickets from day one.
The biggest knock on the former Chino Hills superstar is his shot selection. Ball often took contested jumpers in the half court and was forced to make something out of nothing at the shot clock too frequently. It should also be mentioned that Ball was the primary defensive focus every time he stepped on the floor and was surrounded by mediocre offensive talent that is nowhere near the level of NBA rotation players. LaMelo will still take some head-scratching shots once he arrives in the Association, but my hope is that NBA coaches — and his teammates — will be on him about it and get it cleared up.
Ball also has below average athleticism for a lead guard, which primarily hinders him on the defensive end. He does have a 6-foot-10 wingspan that can cover for some of his defensive ineptitude. But, simply put, LaMelo will have to take a giant leap forward in the effort level he puts in on defense, whether it be on the floor or in the film room improving how he processes the game and where to position himself defensively.
He becomes a 40-percent plus 3-point shooter? That shooting, paired with three other elite shooters in Towns, Beasley, and Russell, would create a dynamite offense that would tear teams to shreds on the nights where all four were clicking. How much his shooting efficiency improves will ultimately determine how high his ceiling is in the NBA.
Fit With Minnesota (7/10)
There is no questioning that a lineup featuring LaMelo Ball, D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley, and Karl-Anthony Towns would be among the league’s most devastating offensively. LaMelo running the PnR with KAT, while being flanked with two potent 3-point shooters, would be an incredible sight to behold. In transition, Ball would be excellent in lineups with fast-break maestros Jake Layman and Malik Beasley. Offensively, I would rate this a 9/10 fit.
As you could expect, the defensive fit drags the overall score down here. The length of the backcourt here is quite impressive (Russell and Ball each have 6-foot-10 wingspans), but the actual level of defensive effort, IQ, positioning, and timing here is very poor. Both players have relatively below average athleticism when compared to other NBA guards. That poor of a defensive backcourt is very hard to make up for, especially if you do not have an anchor big defending the rim.
7. Tyrese Maxey
Current Age: 19.96
Measurables: 6-foot-3, 200 pounds, 6-foot-8 wingspan
Stats (Per 36): 14.6 points, 4.5 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 0.4 blocks, 0.9 steals, 2.3 turnovers
Shooting: 42.7% FG, 29.2% 3PT, 83.3% FT, 53.1% TS, 47.4% eFG
Individual Boards: Jake (6), Tyler (8), Jack (13)
Previous Ranking: NR
Tyrese Maxey’s most obvious calling card is his ability to attack off the catch, bend an already bent defense into an irreparable position and finish with soft floaters and crafty finishes around the rim. Immediately, Maxey’s touch around the rim and the ability to propel himself into that position with a quick first step will be a strong point for him. That speed and finishing ability lends itself to major success in transition as well, where Maxey should benefit right away with easy buckets off defensive rebounds.
Defensively, the latest Kentucky guard to enter the league should be extremely solid guarding point guards and smaller shooting guards. Maxey is a head-on-a-swivel guy with high IQ and a refreshing willingness to chase players around off-ball or hound guys through pick-and-roll coverages. His size (6-foot-3, 198 lbs) may limit him somewhat, but his plus wingspan for a smaller guard should help quell some of those concerns.
Maxey’s main flaws lie in his inability to be the sole general of an offense or generate shots for himself with horizontal space creation. He isn’t absolutely awful in either way, but he hasn’t shown the capacity to run an offense at a high enough level to hand him the keys to an NBA offense from day dot. In this sense, Maxey is better suited to play off the ball and embolden the strengths in his game, but his size might be a worry if and when he has to come up against top-level two-guards who are three or four inches taller than him.
Like we’ve seen time and time again, there is always the chance that Maxey shows more on-ball capabilities once he leaves Kentucky, following the footsteps of Devin Booker, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Tyler Herro, to name but a few. Alas, we won’t know until we see it and it’s quite the risk to take if a team plans on thrusting him into a lead guard role.
Maxey finds the 3-point stroke he possessed pre-college? The 20-year-old shot just 29.3 percent at Lexington (113 attempts) and struggled mightily as a catch-and-shoot player (20th percentile), but he was a much more efficient player in high school, knocking down 35 percent of his triples on a 613-shot sample size that dwarfs his Big Blue numbers. A lot of those jumpers came off the dribble, too, which should bolster his case further as someone who can shoot better than his collegiate numbers suggest.
Maxey has shown the ability to hit the deep ball off the dribble and has excellent touch on his floaters and free throws, so If he can find a middle ground between what he showed back in Texas and what he exhibited in his shortened freshman season, his ceiling will rise considerably.
Fit With Minnesota (7/10)
Minnesota have shown that they are a team that won’t turn down any 3-point look that comes within the offense, so drafting a ‘tweener guard who has more questions than answers about his outside shot might seem to be a bit of head scratcher. However, the Wolves’ real problem is their ability to defend the point of attack (or anywhere, really) and limit players getting downhill and hammering Karl-Anthony Towns in the paint. Maxey won’t solve all the problems there, but he is a good start and a sorely-needed defensive mind that will continue to grow as he matures and gains experience.
Even if the shot doesn’t come around, Maxey’s consistent rim pressure is a driver of efficient offense. The 3-point shot might be a lovechild of Gersson Rosas and Ryan Saunders, but the analytics that modern basketball minds know and love still dictates that getting to the rim and to the free throw line is the best way to score effectively. Maxey will do that, and his gorgeous touch and insane body control to bypass rim-protectors could be an element that provides the yin to D’Angelo Russell and Malik Beasley’s yang.
8. Patrick Williams
Team: Florida State
Current Age: 19.20
Measurables: 6-foot-8, 225 pounds, 7-foot wingspan
Stats (Per 36): 14.8 points, 6.4 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.7 blocks, 1.6 steals, 2.8 turnovers
Shooting: 45.9% FG, 32.0% 3PT, 83.8% FT, 55.3% TS, 49.8% eFG
Individual Boards: Jake (12), Tyler (11), Jack (10)
Previous Ranking: NR
Rough and raw around the edges, the easiest thing to notice and admire right now is Patrick Williams’ physical profile. Just a few months gone from his 19th birthday, Williams is the youngest United States born player in the draft, but he is already built like a man grown. At 6-foot-8, weighing in at a chiseled 225 pounds and possessing a 7-foot wingspan, the former Seminole is custom made for the modern day NBA. He uses that frame at an elite level for the most part, able to sprint the floor like a guard and get up to block shots or hammer home dunks with tantalizing bounciness.
Right now, Williams needs to work on refining his skill set to get up to par with his impressive physical tools, but, defensively, he has exhibited the ability to really make a difference at the rim as a shot-blocker and rotation defender. Immediately, he should be able to call on his athleticism and timing to earn himself burn. Offensively, he is already a great cutter and has a knack for being in the right place at the right time to get a dump-off pass from a guard — another skill that should translate right away.
The biggest knock on Williams is his slow lateral movement and stiff hips as a perimeter defender. While he is a terror for would-be scorers around the rim, he is a walk in the park for guards who are able to get inside his hip. There is some legitimacy to the thought process that someone so young and so physically imposing is still learning how to use his body and move side-to-side, but it could become a real problem in an NBA game that has too many versatile power forwards and wings who work from the outside-in.
Williams starts to really tap into his diverse skill set? We expect the shot-blocking and cutting to translate, but it’s the raw areas of the 19-year-old’s game that have him this high on our board. He ranked in the 90th percentile as a pick-and-roll ball-handler (albeit on a minuscule 26 possessions), flashing mouth-watering passing and pull-up shooting touch for a big man, and he is ever-improving as a spot-up 3-point shooter, hitting 35 percent of his catch-and-shoot jumpers.
There is a baseline for an insanely valuable two-way player inside Williams, it’s just about putting those tools together and unleashing them upon the league.
Fit With Minnesota (9/10)
As long as fans are willing to give Patrick Williams some time and not feel discouraged that he is somewhat of a project, he is a seriously tasty fit, particularly next to Karl-Anthony Towns. Assuming he at least hits his median outcome, Williams is the help defender who can cover for Towns from the backside, a smart and willing cutter offensively who doesn’t need the ball in his hands, and a proficient spot-up shooter who can keep the floor spaced around Towns and D’Angelo Russell.
If he happens to hit his ceiling, Williams can also add pull-up shooting from inside and outside the arc, as well as the ability to be a tertiary initiator who can run unique and damaging 4-5 pick-and-rolls in a pinch. Of course, there is a world where Williams doesn’t grow the way he seems likely to, and that could mean someone who doesn’t add much more than rim-protection and athleticism around the rim, but even then the Timberwolves could likely find some quality minutes for him in their current rotation.
9. Kira Lewis Jr.
Current Age: 19.37
Measurables: 6-foot-3, 165 pounds, 6-foot-5 wingspan (as of summer, 2018)
Stats (Per 36): 17.7 points, 4.6 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 1.7 steals, 0.6 blocks, 3.4 turnovers, *3.83 PIPM (*in 2018-19)
Shooting: 45.9% FG, 36.6% 3PT, 80.2% FT, 56.0% TS, 52.1% EFG
Individual Boards: Jake (11), Tyler (16), Jack (6)
Previous Ranking: 8
Speed kills and Kira Lewis Jr. has more victims than any other prospect in the 2020 class. He is the fastest prospect I have seen since Russell Westbrook at UCLA and might only get faster with more room to work with at the next level. Lewis Jr. weaponizes his elite athleticism in transition to attack the rim and in the half court to get into the lane for looks around the basket and kick-out opportunities for teammates. He has a lightning quick first step that often leaves first defenders in the dust and interior defenders in a tough position to slow him down at the rim.
When he gets in the paint, Lewis Jr. displays excellent vision and decision making and often completes tough passes through tight passing windows to shooters on the outside. Kira has also shown flashes of creative hesitation moves and changes of pace, but I would love to see more of them at the next level. The 6-foot-3 speed demon is an adept finisher around the rim who exhibits good touch with both hands and can score going left or right, too.
The Alabama sophomore also has as good of a shooting motion as any guard in the class. He has excellent elevation on his jumper, a steady base, and a consistent release that has enabled him to shoot 36.2 percent from deep in over 300 attempts in two seasons in Tuscaloosa. Kira ranked in the 86th percentile in spot up situations, in which he shot 44.3 percent from the floor (Synergy). Whether he is spotting up or shooting off the dribble, Lewis Jr. is a legit shooting threat that will be able to find his confidence as a shooter and scorer against opposing benches early on his in NBA career.
Kira is also very comfortable operating in the PnR and has an improving feel for the game while running the show in the half court. His assists per game jumped from 2.9 to 5.2 in his second season, in which he also started every game and played just six additional minutes per game.
Kira has a tendency to get out of control on the drive (almost going too fast for his own good), which can lead to turnovers and blown shots inside. His assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.5 makes a good deal of sense when you Lewis Jr. play. Some of his passes on the drive are rather ambitious and he can get the ball stolen from him when he dribbles too high or out in front of his body when setting up dribble moves on the perimeter. His handle should be tighter in order to truly maximize both his speed and shooting off the dribble. Thankfully, these weaknesses are not bad ones to have, because they are very correctable compared a broken jumper, poor athleticism, or a lack of vision or IQ.
Lewis Jr. is just 6-foot-3, 175 pounds, which hinders him on the defensive end. NBA point guards will be able to get into his body and take him in the post if he does not bulk up significantly heading into his rookie year. For reference, Russ was 192 pounds coming out of college and is 200 pounds now. 20-25 pounds of muscle would make a world of difference for Kira on the defensive end. He does have good lateral footwork and good hands, but frame often overshadows those pluses. He is a better off-ball player than on-ball at this stage and offers limited versatility or switchability on the defensive end. He will have to guard the smallest player on the floor in year one.
Kira Lewis Jr. became a lethal off-the-dribble shooter? He could destroy teams that play drop coverage in the mid-range and above the break after coming around high ball screens and step-up screens in transition. With legit combo off-dribble shooting moves, Lewis Jr. could ultimately become one of the more dynamic young lead guards in the NBA.
Fit With Minnesota (7/10)
Lewis would thrive in Minnesota’s run-and-gun offense that prides itself on getting up the floor quickly and shooting more 3’s than its opponents. The Wolves need another point guard that can operate alongside D’Angelo Russell and initiate offense to better utilize D-Lo as a spot-up shooter and Lewis Jr. could do just that. He has the potential to be the best scoring option for the Wolves off the bench right away and would enable Minnesota to put together some very interesting offensive combinations that, at the very least, would be a ton of fun to watch.
10. Deni Avdija
Team: Maccabi Tel Aviv (Israel)
Current Age: 19.62
Measurables: 6-foot-9, 215 pounds, 6-foot-10 wingspan
Stats (Per 36): 15.0 points, 7.7 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.1 steals, 1.1 blocks, 2.6 turnovers, 3.57 PIPM
Shooting: 50.5% FG, 33.3% 3PT, 58.8% FT, 58.6% TS, 58.1% EFG
Individual Boards: Jake (9), Tyler (1), Jack (26)
Previous Ranking: 6
When the ball is in Deni Avdija’s hands, he has the potential to excel in a number of areas. In the half court, the 19-year-old has enough handle, speed and burst to get to the rim from straight line drives and moves like a true high IQ international prospect when he doesn’t have the ball.
In transition, Avdija constantly exhibits his outlier speed for a player of his size, galloping down the court and spoon-feeding his teammates with pinpoint passes at full speed. He is a good finisher and passer in half court sets, but he really takes it up a notch when he can rip-and-run after collecting a defensive rebound.
On the other side of the hardwood, Avdija makes up for his relative lack of size (for a PF) and athleticism with the brains to know when and where to be at the right time. He is very adept at going straight up with verticality, giving him some shot-blocking potential. Avdija doesn’t have any true star talents as of yet, but he is very, very solid virtually across the board.
Avdija’s weaknesses begin and end with the ability to create and convert on jump shots and free throws. While he seemed to straighten up the hump-backed form he labored through before the coronavirus forced hiatus, he still shot below 33 percent in the final 12 games of the season.
Unfortunately, Avdija will never be able to impact the game as a third option or higher unless he is able to hit spot-up triples at a respectable clip or improve his handle and wiggle enough to become a true shot creator and facilitator. When you consider his fairly large sample size (61-for-183 this season) and his horrendous free throw shooting (67-for-114), it doesn’t look overly promising.
Deni Avdija started to break guys down off the bounce? Perhaps his shooting woes from the outside would matter less. If Avdija could handle the ball well enough to make himself an offense initiator, his passing vision and execution could go to a whole new level. If he could operate as a pick-and-roll ball-handler consistently, his ability to finish around the rim could negate some of the shooting issues and make him a much tougher cover.
Fit With Minnesota (7/10)
It’s hard not to be impressed with a player who could come in to Minnesota and fit the Gersson Rosas mold as a power forward who can handle the rock, defend capably and play at a super fast pace, but the shooting issues are too big a bugaboo to give him higher marks here.
If the Timberwolves fall out of the top three and the front office believes Avdija can become a passable-at-best shooter, he could end up an extremely valuable pick. If they don’t, it’s unlikely he ends up in Wolves colors.
11. Tyrese Haliburton
Team: Iowa State
Current Age: 20.47
Measurables: 6-foot-5, 175 pounds, 6-foot-7 to 6-foot-11 wingspan (rumored)
Stats (Per 36): 14.9 points, 5.8 rebounds, 6.3 assists, 2.4 steals, 0.7 blocks, 2.7 turnovers, 5.91 PIPM
Shooting: 50.4% FG, 41.9% 3PT, 82.2% FT, 63.1% TS, 61.1% EFG
Individual Boards: Jake (10), Tyler (3), Jack (24)
Previous Ranking: 9
You can’t watch an Iowa State game without Tyrese Haliburton’s passing versatility and creativeness jumping off the screen. The 20-year-old is exceptional at feeding his big man with pick-and-roll pocket passes or lobs and is adept at kicking out to corner shooters on either side of the floor. He should be an immediate plus passer at the next level.
There is plenty of debate to be had about whether Haliburton’s unorthodox (and flat-out ugly) shooting form will ever lend itself to success at the highest level, but the results on spot-up attempts were too positive to not list it as a strength coming out of college. He shot 41.9 percent on over five attempts per game and ranked 99th percentile as a spot-up shooter, 95th percentile on unguarded catch-and-shoot attempts and in the 96th percentile on guarded attempts, per Synergy Sports.
Haliburton can not get to the rim or score consistently going downhill at all, and that’s a major red flag. Haliburton doesn’t have the burst or handle to get to the rim and often has to bail himself out with his passing vision. This prevents him from getting easy buckets at the charity stripe, too. The sophomore registered just two free throw attempts per game last season.
He also has trouble creating jump shots for himself. He is an elite standstill bomber, but Haliburton’s low and slow release makes it hard to imagine he will ever be able to transfer the ball from live dribble to jump shot at an NBA level. Both of these flaws severely stifle his potential ceiling.
Haliburton tweaked his shot form enough to allow him to get jumpers off in traffic, but still maintained his elite catch-and-shoot efficiency? He would probably be able to survive with his ultra-low free throw rate and field goal attempt at the rim frequency. Combine great shooting numbers with the ability to set the table in a litany of different ways and that’s a player who can really help a team win from either guard position.
Fit With Minnesota (6/10)
There is a lot to like about Haliburton. The ability to play on the ball as a full-time facilitator or off the ball as a 3-point threat in two-guard lineups is an attractive prospect. Throw in the fact he is a very active and alert off-ball defender and the makings of a good fit are there.
The fear over his shot translating is real, but it’s not the same sort of scary feeling that you get when you watch him struggle to put pressure on the rim. Haliburton has drawn comparisons to Lonzo Ball as a high-end outcome, and even Ball (who had a great season prior to the season being suspended) struggled so mightily to score from in close during the bubble games that he was practically a non-factor in down the stretch.
Minnesota relies on analytics as much as any team, and the analytics always point to shots around the basket being crucial. Haliburton does a lot of things well, but his biggest flaw might be enough to make Gersson Rosas and Co. flee the scene.
12. Desmond Bane
Team: Texas Christian University
Current Age: 22.32
Measurables: 6-foot-5, 215 pounds, 6-foot-4 wingspan
Stats (Per 36): 16.6 points, 6.3 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 0.5 blocks, 1.5 steals, 2.3 turnovers
Shooting: 45.2% FG, 44.2% 3PT, 78.9% FT, 57.3% TS, 55.7% eFG
Individual Boards: Jake (17), Tyler (13), Jack (11)
Previous Ranking: NR
When it comes to shooters in this draft, few, if any, are better than Desmond Bane. Bane is incredibly effective running off screens, handoffs, spotting up, and shooting off the dribble. There isn’t a scenario where Bane struggles with his shot. While Bane’s most significant impact will come with his off-ball movement and shooting, he has also become highly effective with the ball in his hands. He can score out of the pick-and-roll, and while he isn’t a high-level playmaker, he has proven that he is a quality decision-maker who can find his open teammates.
Bane won’t make any All-NBA Defense teams, but his leadership, maturity, and basketball IQ won’t make him a negative. He knows where to be and how to position himself, so he is at least competent. Bane’s size also suggests he should be able to switch on the perimeter without giving up apparent mismatches.
The most glaring, insurmountable weakness with Desmond Bane is his negative wingspan. At only 6’5, Bane’s wingspan creates the typical issues of others who lack length. It is easier to contest his at-rim finishing and more significantly limits his defensive versatility. While his positioning is generally strong, Bane’s lack of length limits his ability to disrupt ball-handlers, contest shots, and switch on bigger opponents.
Offensively, Bane won’t struggle to put up points, but his physical limitations and lack of explosiveness limit the fashion he can score. Bane ranked in just the 33rd percentile last season when finishing at the rim, per Synergy. He doesn’t have an elite burst, which has become an expectation among top wings, and his short arms make his shots easier to contest.
Bane becomes a top tier ball-handler? Bane can’t change his physical limitations, but his ceiling will skyrocket if he improves his ball-handling. Bane is heavily reliant on using screens or relocating without the ball to create space, but if he becomes a more creative ball-handler, he will create space on his own and for teammates more consistently.
Fit With Minnesota (7/10)
Bane doesn’t fill an area of need for the Timberwolves, but his shooting and maturity will help produce winning basketball right away. His shooting proficiency will be a seamless fit and will also make staggering Jarrett Culver and Josh Okogie easier.
13. James Wiseman
Current Age: 19.39
Measurables: 7-foot-1, 240 pounds, 7-foot-6 wingspan
Stats (Per 36): 30.8 points, 16.7 rebounds, 0.5 assists, 4.7 blocks, 0.5 steals, 1.6 turnovers (played 69 minutes in three games)
Shooting: 76.9% FG, 0% 3PT, 70.4% FT, 76.0% TS, 76.9% EFG
Individual Boards: Jake (14), Tyler (23), Jack (7)
Previous Ranking: 10
James Wiseman is one of the most physically imposing prospects in the recent history of the NBA draft. He has incredible size at 7-foot-1, with a 7-foot-6 wingspan, and an NBA-ready frame to match at 240 pounds. He dominates smaller defenders in the post and can finish well with either hand.
When stationed above the break, he has a good enough handle to utilize his athleticism and long strides to get to the rim, where his insane length enables him to finish around or over interior defenders. Wiseman will be an immediate impactful force inside as a rookie. This is largely thanks to his incredible rebounding range on both backboards, his strength, and touch around the rim for a 7-footer. His free-throw rate in high school and in college was sky high, because he was more physically imposing than anyone else he matched up with. There will be some regression in the NBA, but I fully expect Wiseman to live at the line, especially if he comes off the bench as a rookie.
On defense, there is no question that Wiseman will have to work on his defensive positioning to limit his fouls, but his length, long strides, and timing should allow him to cover a massive amount of ground on the back end and block more than two shots per game very early in his career. Rebounding is a crucial aspect of defense as a big and there is no question that Wiseman is the best in the class. He has huge hands, broad shoulders, and should be able to successfully battle for boards on the inside.
The three biggest weaknesses in Wiseman’s game are his passing, offensive spacing/positioning, and perimeter defense. James often saw doubles in the EYBL and in college, and often failed to make basic reads and passes that would have made life much easier for him and his teammates. He is very prone to clogging the lane, but having not played in environments conducive to offensive spacing, I believe he can correct that as his perimeter shooting develops.
The former Memphis East standout struggles to keep up with quicker players on the perimeter and often gets beat off the bounce due to his poor lateral footwork, very wide base, and not sitting down in stance deep enough. His shot selection can be questionable, too, partially because he has always been the #1 option everywhere he has gone, but as his feel for the game improves, I fully expect to see him take shots that are within his probable role as a rim-running big that sets great screens and defends the rim at a high level.
He develops a consistent 3-point jumper and becomes the rim protector he has shown flashes of being in high school and at Memphis? The 3-point shot would open everything up for Wiseman offensively. It would solve his spacing issue and tendency to set up camp on the block, allow him to attack close-outs, and hopefully help him develop more of a playmaking aspect of his rather one-dimensional offensive game. On defense, if he stays disciplined, he has all the tools to become one of the game’s very best shot blockers and a big who anchors a great defensive team.
Fit With Minnesota (6/10)
Too many Wolves fans write off Wiseman both as a prospect and as a potential Minnesota draftee. Gerson Rosas made it very clear ahead of the draft lottery on Thursday that they would select the best player available, whether that is a talent who can step in and play a role for Minnesota early on or a player who may need a little TLC in terms of development.
Wiseman will be an impactful PnR big from day one and if he can defend the rim without fouling early on, I would love to see him play as the 5 alongside Karl-Anthony Towns. The fit is not perfect with those two right now, but they have the potential to form a tantalizing frontcourt duo that would be incredible if both players reached their respective potentials. Even if he did not play next to KAT and instead came off the bench, he would be a solid rotational big that can score from day one and clear the glass by himself, especially if the Wolves opt for a one-big bench lineup.
14. Tyrell Terry
Current Age: 20.06
Measurables: 6-foot-3, 175 pounds, 6-foot-4 wingspan
Stats (Per 36): 16.2 points, 5.0 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 0.1 blocks, 1.5 steals, 2.9 turnovers
Shooting: 44.1% FG, 40.8% 3PT, 89.1% FT, 58.9% TS, 53.5% eFG
Individual Boards: Jake (20), Tyler (21), Jack (9)
Previous Ranking: NR
Nerd Nation had themselves a shooter in Tyrell Terry last season. The Minneapolis native shot 40.8 percent from 3 on nearly five attempts per game as a true freshman starting point guard for Jerod Haase. Terry ranked in the 99th percentile in catch-and-shoot situations, per Synergy Sports; he shot whopping 44.4 percent on guarded looks (93rd percentile) and an even more impressive 54.5 percent on unguarded attempts (97th percentile). Despite running the show for the Stanford offense, he was also utilized off-ball and ran off screens, too, and shot 57.9 percent (95th percentile) in those actions. Tyrell undoubtedly has NBA range, thanks to an effortlessly quick and compact stroke that he can get off in traffic. Expect his shooting to translate from day one.
Terry is an extremely underrated passer as well. He frequently delivered accurate passes in the pick-and-roll to his roll/pop man, in addition to fitting creative skip passes and ball reversals through tight windows to his teammates for open looks. His vision and IQ are highly impressive for a young point guard, too. The DeLaSalle alum could find himself thriving in a backup PG role thanks to his ability to operate the PnR, where he generated 0.863 points per possession, good for the 77th percentile in college hoops last season. His teammates shot 42.4 percent (49 percent eFG) off of his passes in the PnR, which is rock solid for a freshman PG.
When it comes to creative finishing, Terry is up there with the best of them in college basketball. He shot 61.5 percent on non post-ups (79th percentile) and does a tremendous job at the rim with ball fakes and using the rim to shield himself from shot blockers.
The two main knocks I have on Terry are his shooting off the dribble and his defense on the perimeter.
Ty shot just 31.2 percent, and 38.1 percent eFG, on movement dribble shots, ranking him in the 50th percentile. Because he does not possess plus-athleticism or a super tight handle, he struggles to create a ton of space on step-backs and pull-ups and convert those shots at an efficient clip. The most common area on the floor where guards deploy these moves are in the mid-range, and Terry understandably struggled there this past season. He shot just 25.7 percent on 35 mid-range attempts (18th percentile), and despite having phenomenal touch, shot 26.3 percent on floaters (21st percentile).
There is no doubt that Terry will be tested immediately on the perimeter defensively. He projects to be a mid-late first-round pick and should factor to be in the rotation for a playoff team if all goes well during the regular season. However, whether or not he survives teams going matchup hunting and attacking his middle-of-the-road lateral agility and wiry frame very well may determine that. He held up okay at Stanford, but he played in the Pac-12, a traditionally weaker Power 5 conference that does not have as many capable wing players in the PnR as some other conferences might, or (obviously) as NBA benches will next season. He will have to rely on using his hands to poke the ball loose, strong communication with teammates, and bulking up even more than he has this summer (added nearly 25 pounds since March) if he wants to remain playable down the stretch next season.
His handle improved to the point where he could consistently pull off advanced dribble moves and create space off the dribble in the mid-range and behind the 3-point line? That would allow him to create more for himself offensively and be more dynamic as a rotation piece who can not only run the offense, but carry the load for the second unit with improved shotmaking from all over the floor.
Fit With Minnesota (7/10)
Minnesota needs an upgrade at the backup point guard spot, especially defensively, but Terry would also bring much-needed shooting to the second unit. His shotmaking would allow Ryan Saunders to more easily stagger minutes for Josh Okogie and Jarrett Culver, open up the floor for guys like Jake Layman and Naz Reid, and elevate the transition attack of the bench unit. His arrival would mean the departure of Jordan McLaughlin, but Tyrell is certainly an upgrade offensively and has a much higher ceiling than McLaughlin on both ends. Not to mention he is a local kid who has plenty of experience playing at Target Center dating back to his DeLaSalle days.
15. Precious Achiuwa
Current Age: 21.08
Measurables: 6-foot-9, 225 pounds, 7-foot-2 wingspan
Stats (Per 36): 18.7 points, 12.8 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 2.2 blocks, 1.3 steals, 3.3 turnovers
Shooting: 49.3% FG, 32.5% 3PT, 59.9% FT, 53.4% TS, 51.1% eFG
Individual Boards: Jake (24), Tyler (14), Jack (15)
Previous Ranking: NR
It’s hard to go past Precious Achiuwa’s physical tools and not make a mention of them. At 6-foot-9, 223 pounds of pure muscle and possessing a gigantic 7-foot-2.5 wingspan, there is but a handful of more impressive specimens in this year’s class. The measurements are impressive, but when you combine them with his quick leaping and his penchant to run the floor like a gazelle, they become even more mouth-watering.
In terms of skill set, Achiuwa’s main draw is his ability to impact the game in a variety of ways as an all-out hustler. He is a menace on the offensive glass — where he registered 82 putback attempts in 31 games (57.6% FG) — and has an exciting ability to rip-and-run off a defensive rebound, shooting 66.7 percent in transition opportunities. The constant energy transfers over to the defensive side of the ball, where Achiuwa consistently uses his length, size and speed to make defensive plays at the rim and in passing lanes. He isn’t the perfect defender, but the former Tiger will come through with at least a few jaw-dropping defensive plays per night.
As intriguing as his blend of physical tools and mental ferocity is, Achiuwa is admittedly extremely rough around the edges. He is prone to all manner of head-scratching decisions and can, at times, make even the most basic skills look like a chore. Be ready to see more than the occasional travelling violation, wild passing turnover or missed defensive rotation when the big man enters the league.
The real swing factor for Achiuwa might be his long-range shooting, and whether it can ever improve enough to be an actual scoring avenue at the next level. In catch-and-shoot situations, he was a bit of a rollercoaster. When Synergy labelled his shots as “guarded”, he ranked in the 1st percentile nationwide, when they were “unguarded”, he ranked in the 93rd percentile. If he can find some consistency in his mechanics and his shot preparation, the 3-point shot could be a weapon for Achiuwa. As of now, it’s still a weakness in his game.
The big man develops into a more reliable ball-handler? Even without a 3-point shot, a version of Achiuwa who can swallow up boards, burn up the floor and finish at the rim would be a very hard man to stop. For that to happen, he will need to lower and tighten his handle, which would help cut down bouts of wild turnovers. As it stands, Achiuwa has a ball-handling foundation that is a lot stronger than many other players his size, but taking it to a level where it’s a true strength would be huge for him.
Fit With Minnesota (7/10)
Adding a player who can slot into the power forward position (perhaps the biggest position of need on the Timberwolves’ current roster) and bring tidal waves of energy and effort is something that should perk a lot of ears up around the fan base. With initiators like D’Angelo Russell and Karl-Anthony Towns by his side, it could allow Achiuwa to rim-run and cut without giving him too much responsibility, hopefully harnessing the chaotic nature of his game and unleashing it in the best way possible.
Unfortunately, there is some major caveats with the Achiuwa/Timberwolves fit. On a possession-to-possession basis, his defense is still far too inconsistent and would only put more strain on Karl-Anthony Towns, who would have to anchor and assist another defensive chess piece. And while there is certainly a world where Precious can make in impact in the Wolves’ offense, he would also be a poor shooter and another player who might struggle to share the floor with Jarrett Culver and Josh Okogie.
Watch his highlights here.
16. Saddiq Bey
Current Age: 21.53
Measurables: 6-foot-8, 215 pounds, 6-foot-11 wingspan
Stats (Per 36): 17.1 points, 5.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 0.4 blocks, 0.8 steals, 1.6 turnovers
Shooting: 47.7% FG, 45.1% EPT, 76.9% FT, 60.8% TS, 58.4% eFG
Individual Boards: Jake (15), Tyler (12), Jack (27)
Previous Ranking: NR
When a player shoots 45 percent on 5.6 triples a night, it’s pretty obvious what skill is going to stand out to fans and scouts alike. After knocking down a very respectable 37.4 percent in his freshman year at Villanova, Saddiq Bey was a flamethrower in year two. While he isn’t the prototypical off-the-dribble shooter, Bey was lights out shooting off the catch, and demonstrated his ability to maintain versatility without having to significantly improve his shot off the bounce. For the season, Bey ranked in the 98th percentile in spot-up shooting, 93rd percentile in transition and the 98th percentile coming off a screen. Crisp.
Shooting is pretty much Bey’s only guaranteed bankable skill, but he is billed (perhaps wrongly at times) as a 3-and-D prospect. On the defensive side of the ball, the 21-year-old should be able to hold his own with his size and strength, with the hope being that he’d be able to guard both small forwards and power forwards at the next level. It may not be a true strength right now, but Bey certainly has the potential to be solid on defense.
I fear that Bey won’t be able to get to the rim enough in the NBA to ever separate himself from the “just a shooter” pigeonhole. He finished well at the rack at ‘Nova (66th percentile around the rim), but a lot of it came from plays specifically designed to get him in the low post against smaller defenders or in the high post where he didn’t have to travel as far to rise and finish. Unless a team believes in him a lot more than his projected draft slot indicates, that simply won’t happen.
Glued to that inability to get the the rim is Bey’s ball-handling deficiencies, which prevent him from creating enough separation to consider himself an isolation or off-the-dribble jump shooter as well. Bey should be able to slot into a team immediately and fill a role, but he will need to work on these things if he ever wants to outgrow that role.
Bey isn’t able to hit those 3-pointers at a league-average or better clip right away? Things could get hairy pretty quickly. Bey’s lack of periphery skills — he is a solid passer but not enough to fold up any defensive shells — could come back to haunt him if the shooting isn’t there. Luckily, we’d bet that the stroke translates.
Fit With Minnesota (8/10)
Making the obvious assumption that the Timberwolves take Bey with the Brooklyn pick (#17) and not with the first overall pick, there is undoubtedly a world where the sophomore slides right in and becomes an immediate contributor. In a draft that’s so packed with question marks, that would be a big win.
As we know, Gersson Rosas values shooting above just about everything, and the ability to at least hold his own defensively, function as a small-ball power forward and inject positional versatility are all on that priorities list as well. With Bey, you likely know what you’re getting and can plug him into a bunch of different Timberwolves lineups right away.
Of course, the downside is that there isn’t much upside, but maybe the safe pick would be handy in a draft with two other picks to take a home run swing with.
Watch his highlights here.
17. Josh Green
Measurables: 6’6, 210 pounds, 6’10 wingspan
Stats (per 36): 14 points, 5.3 rebounds, 3 assists, 1.8 steals, 1.9 turnovers
Shooting: 42.4% FG, 36.1% 3PT, 78% FT, 52.8% TS, 47.6% EFG
Individual Boards: Jake (21), Tyler (10), Jack (26)
Previous Ranking: NR
Josh Green’s athleticism hits you in the face the second you watch him. He is quick, explosive, and has tremendous footwork. This combination makes him one of the best defenders in this class. He can switch on the perimeter and battle in the post on the occasional possession. He is better at anticipating the ball-handler’s moves than they are at coming up with them. As an off-ball defender, Green rarely misses a rotation and is highly skilled with his closeouts.
Green’s freak athleticism is often on display on offense as well, especially in transition. Green is eager to run in transition to use his speed and explosiveness to generate multiple highlight dunks every game. Green also proved that he is a threat as an off-ball shooter as he ranked in the 77th percentile when spotting up and in the 85th percentile when shooting off the catch.
Despite being a quality playmaker in transition, Green will be nonexistent in this capacity in the half-court offense. He can make the extra pass, but any hopes/expectations of him being a secondary playmaker need to be squashed immediately.
While Green is a reliable off-ball shooter, he struggles tremendously to score with the ball in his hands. He was atrocious when finishing at the rim (8th percentile) and shooting off the dribble (9th percentile) this season. He has a slight buckle in his knees when he shoots, which throws off his form and limits his elevation ability when shooting off the dribble. Given Green’s tremendous athleticism, the at-rim finishing struggles are perplexing. He can effortlessly dunk over an opponent, but if he’s forced into a layup, the odds are high that it isn’t going in.
Green learns his fundamentals and can make a layup? If he improves his at-rim finishing, his offensive impact significantly increases. He has no issues getting to the rim; he just can’t finish. Once/If he improves here, he will immediately become a more significant threat when cutting, driving, and attacking closeouts.
Fit With Minnesota (7/10)
Josh Green is a very similar player to Josh Okogie, except he can knock down threes. Already having two ball-dominant stars, Green’s off-ball scoring, and defensive versatility isn’t hard to picture making an impact in the rotation.
Watch his highlights here.
18. Tre Jones
Current Age: 20.78
Measurables: 6-foot-3, 185 pounds, 6-foot-4 wingspan
Stats (Per 36): 16.5 points, 4.3 rebounds, 6.5 assists, 0.4 blocks, 1.8 steals, 2.7 turnovers
Shooting: 42.3% FG, 36.1% 3PT, 77.1% FT, 52.4% TS, 47.4% eFG
Individual Boards: Jake (23), Tyler (19), Jack (20)
Previous Ranking: NR
Like his brother and fellow hometown kid Tyus, Tre Jones glistens with basketball IQ and a nous that can’t simply be taught or instilled into a player. He and his family has lived and breathed basketball for his entire 20 years on the planet, and it shows when you see him making smart reads on both ends, with the Jones knack for being in the right place at the right time.
In terms of tangible skills, Jones’ defensive expertise is undeniably his calling card. Despite being undersized, Jones is a hellhound, pestering ball-handlers relentlessly and playing passing lanes as breezily as a child in a sandpit. When it comes to guarding up a position or oversized point guards, Jones is going to face some difficulties, but if you’re looking for someone who can immediately come in as a back-up point guard and defend the point of attack in isolation or pick-and-roll very well, he’s your guy.
To put it bluntly, Tre Jones cannot finish at the rim, and, at times, his ball-handling and craftiness isn’t even enough to get him there. After somewhat surprisingly heading back to Duke for his sophomore year, Jones improved his 3-point shooting drastically (26.2% to 36.1%), which was one of the big knocks on him. But, with his size and athletic limitations not going away anytime soon, Jones will likely continue to struggle finishing from close-range.
On the season, he shot just 42.6 percent around the rim and 37.3 percent from anywhere within 17 feet of the rim. Jones is middling in a few other areas like shooting off the dribble and creating space for himself as a shooter, but the rim-finishing is the big one. Without significant improvements, he will probably never find himself working his way up the pecking order and into a starting NBA role.
Jones landed in a system that allowed him to play as a point guard defender and more off the ball offensively? With his IQ in tow, Jones is an above-average passer, but in a system that allowed to be more of a secondary creator, spot-up shooter and point of attack defender, it could seriously minimize his shortcomings and maximize the things he does will.
According to Synergy, Jones registered a scorching 1.58 points per possession in unguarded catch-and-shoot situations, good for the 95th percentile nationwide. It would be intriguing to see if he could get some of those looks as an off-ball player when he arrives in the big leagues.
Fit With Minnesota (7/10)
Just as shooting is important in Gersson Rosas and Ryan Saunders’ analytically-driven system, so is being able to get to the rim and finish in the most historically efficient area of the court. Without that skill, Jones certainly gets knocked down a few pegs here.
With that being said, someone who can potentially play alongside or behind D’Angelo Russell and take the lion’s share of on-ball defensive tasks? That’s a tick. The Wolves desperately need reliable pick-and-roll defenders who can give Towns more time to get into good positions, creating less disadvantages for the defensively-challenged big man. If some of that aforementioned off-ball shooting translates, it would still be a pretty good fit despite the rim issues.
19. Isaiah Joe
Current Age: 21.30
Measurables: 6-foot-5, 180 pounds, 6-foot-10 wingspan
Stats (Per 36): 16.8 points, 4.1 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 0.3 blocks, 1.4 steals, 1.7 turnovers
Shooting: 36.7% FG, 34.2% 3PT, 89.0% FT, 54.4% TS, 49.7% eFG
Individual Boards: Jake (25), Tyler (24), Jack (17)
Previous Ranking: NR
Isaiah Joe has credible, bankable skills that give me confidence he will be an excellent role player in the NBA. He certainly is in the conversation for the top 3-point marksman in this year’s draft class. The Fort Smith, Arkansas native canned 41.4 percent of his 8 looks from deep per game in his freshman season and followed it up by making 34.2 percent of his almost 11 (!) attempts. per game in his second campaign for the Razorbacks. Despite regressing in his 3-point shooting efficiency in year 2, for me, his mechanics outweigh any heightened concerns about how well his shooting will translate to the NBA. The manner in which he sets up his shots is incredible. Joe exhibits tremendous footwork and quickly and compactly raises the ball from the catch point to his release point. I love how he steps into his shot, both off the dribble and when he has space to set up a catch-and-shoot from outside. It is almost always calm, under control, and fundamentally sound from his feet all the way up to his squared shoulders. Isaiah operates in space nicely and does a great job of flowing to where open space is on the perimeter and making himself available to teammates who are penetrating or get trapped in the PnR or in the corners.
With added strength at the NBA level, Joe has the tools to be an impactful defender who has solid lateral agility and great length for a projected 2-guard in the NBA. At Arkansas, he showed he is a good team defender who is smart, digs well in the PnR to force passes and turnovers, and is often in the right spot when playing off-ball, and does a good job communicating on switches and when offensive players are flying around off the ball. In the PnR, his length is a huge factor and he uses it, combined with good hands and timing, well when defending at the point of attack to create deflections and make reads/passes more difficult for opposing guards. If he is able to improve his quickness in the NBA, he could be a very useful defender against quick, twitchy point guards, and be used in a variety of ways in various zone/trapping schemes because of his wingspan and defensive IQ/vision.
Joe is the definition of a streaky shooter. On one night, he could shoot 7 of 13 from 3 and follow it up by going 2 for 9. What I admire about Isaiah is that he tries to shoot out of his slumps and has confidence that will serve him well at the next level. However, his shot selection needs to improve if he wants to become a more consistent 3-point shooter. Nearly 61 percent of his spot-up looks from deep were contested, on which he shot just 27.6 percent, good for the 38th percent. His at times poor shot IQ took him out of a rhythm and saw him force up shots in an attempt to find it again, which is tough for most college players to do successfully.
The other area that Joe could serve to improve is his handle. He has a flurry of impressive moves that he pulls off from time-to-time, but does not always keep the dribble low and close to his body, which can result in turnovers and being forced to regain his dribble and pass out of attacking situations. Likely a result of the mediocre handle, he did not get into the lane much or get to the rim and foul line. He had a free-throw rate of just .253 and only attempted 21 shot attempts on non post-ups around the basket. With an improved handle, my hope is that he can improve as a PnR initiator and raise his numbers through being more aggressive in those actions. He would also be able to create his own shot more effectively in the mid-range and make defenders who go under screens in the PnR pay more than he already does.
He finds a consistent shooting stroke at the next level? When you turn on the tape, you can see his potential as an elite shooter because of his mechanics and how well he reads the floor without the ball in his hands. I could see him blossoming into a 40+ percent marksman, especially playing with a PG who is as unselfish and as strong of a passer as D’Angelo Russell is. Shot selection will be huge; he would have plenty of opportunities to get open shots playing in Minnesota’s run-and-gun system and I would love to see him drafted if the Wolves trade back at 17 or if he is still around at 33.
Fit With Minnesota (8/10)
Joe’s shooting could immediately get him minutes at the back-end of the Wolves’ rotation. He is excellent in transition and kills opposing defenses by trailing the ball handler and effectively filling lanes and open spaces on the perimeter for open looks from deep. I could see him being used as a point-of-attack or top of the zone defender with length off the bench to throw different looks at opposing offenses while also stretching the defense with his shooting.
Watch his highlights here.
20. Aaron Nesmith
Measurables: 6’6, 213 pounds, 6’10 wingspan
Stats (per 36): 23.2 points, 4.9 rebounds, 0.9 assists, 1.4 steals, 1.7 turnovers
Shooting: 51.2% FG, 52.2% 3PT, 82.5% FT, 68.5% TS, 65.9% EFG
Individual Boards: Jake (18), Tyler (15), Jack (23)
Previous Ranking: NR
This should be obvious before you even read this. Just look at those shooting numbers! Who in their right mind has a higher three-point percentage than field goal percentage? And before you get cocky and throw sample size out, he averaged over eight threes per game. His season was cut short, but 14 games with eight attempts per game are enough to know how good of a shooter this guy is. I could list all of his percentiles, but to make things easy, he’s near the very top of the list in every shooting category.
Nesmith’s length could also allow him to develop into a versatile defender. Not an elite defender, but someone who can switch and effectively contest shots. Nesmith displayed some decent shot-blocking ability at Vanderbilt, especially in transition.
The odds are astronomical that when Nesmith gets the ball, he’s shooting. He has minimal playmaking chops and needs to improve his ball-handling to help create space for his jumper, although his length and step-back move help.
The defensive end of the floor is the biggest concern with Nesmith. I believe that he will improve on this end because Vanderbilt ran some unorthodox schemes. Regardless, Nesmith has a long way to go defensively. His fundamentals are inconsistent, his awareness fluctuates, and the effort isn’t always there.
Nesmith becomes an average defender? Then he will be a steal in the middle of the first round. Nesmith will be a flamethrower of a shooter, and if he can add quality defense to his resume, he will be one of the most useful guys from this draft.
Fit With Minnesota (6/10)
Nesmith’s outside shooting would immediately fit with Minnesota’s offensive philosophy. I’d expect him to take on a Duncan Robinson-esque role and punish defenses with his shooting. Unfortunately, he’ll likely be a liability on defense. Unless he’s on the floor with Culver and Okogie, opposing wings will probably take advantage of him.