Timberwolves fans went to bed on Thursday evening with not so clear eyes, but incredibly full hearts after the team moved up in the NBA Draft Lottery for the first time in franchise history, and came away with a huge win and the #1 selection in this October’s draft.
Our beloved Wolves had just a 14.0 percent chance of their desired fate and the ping pong ball gods delivered. The Canis Hoopus team will have lots in store in the coming weeks with draft coverage, so be on the look-out for more content here.
Without further ado, here is version 1.0 of Jake Paynting and Jack Borman’s Canis Hoopus NBA Draft Big Board with nearly 7,000 words on their Top 10 prospects in this year’s draft:
1. 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
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 gameplan 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 (8/10)
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.
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
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 are 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. 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
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.
4. 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
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.
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
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. 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
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.
7. 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
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, is 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.
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 two 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 (6/10)
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, he would likely have to play significant minutes with an offensive creator such as D’Angelo Russell or Malik Beasley. Okoro would instantly raise the defensive capability of the team, but I am not sure I am willing to bet on his defense being great enough to make up for the learning curve that will come for him on offense.
Do not get me wrong, though; I think Okoro has a high floor as a high level slasher and defender, 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 sixth or seventh pick in the draft (by trading back), I would not be surprised if the front office selected Okoro whatsoever. He is a high upside pick and if he pans out on offense, he could very well be the steal of the top-10.
8. 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
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.
What If ...
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.
9. 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
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.
10. 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
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.