It’s baaaaaaaaack!!!!! After publishing my first ever Big Board back in mid-April, I watched more game film, read more opinions and made reevaluations of all the players that make up the 2020 NBA Draft class.
Last time, I gave you the strengths and weaknesses, as well as some comparisons, for my top 30 prospects. This time, it’s going to be a short paragraph on each guy, with some additional thoughts and details on how they play. We’re going all the way up to 55 (yes, 60 would make more sense, but at the moment, I am only fully confident in ranking these top 55, and will need more time to expand the Big Board).
Let’s do this.
(Since it would be annoying to continually reference all the great help I received, here’s the list of every website from which I either got statistics or prospect info: Tankathon, KenPom, BartTorvik.com, Hoop-Math, College Basketball Reference, The Stepien, RealGM and the NBA Draft Comp App created by my friend @youngwizzyDFS on Twitter)
Here’s the Big Board itself, with the first number being which “Tier” the prospect falls into for my rankings, and the second number after the period representing where they rank on the overall board.
Below are all the details and explanations.
1. LaMelo Ball, Guard, Illawarra (Australia) — 6’8”, 181 lbs, 18.8 years old (Previously No. 1)
(Note: Ball played in Australia but is American)
Per 36 Numbers: 19.6 PTS, 7.9 AST, 8.7 REB, 1.8 STL, 0.1 BLK, 2.9 TO
Percentages: 46.4 TS%, 25.0 3PT%, 72.3 FT%, 37.5 FG%
I misspoke in my last board when I listed Lance Stephenson as a comp to Ball. That was based off their similar shot structure, as they both have a tendency to do a quick chuck of the ball rather than follow through. The real eye-opener is how similar he plays to our own Ben Simmons at times. He too is an oversized creator that’s very fast with the ball in his hands and uses his superior athleticism to heighten his distribution capabilities. And while Ball is certainly not going to be the Steph Curry clone the internet predicted he would be back in his days as a 9th grader, he’s not the non-factor shooting the ball Simmons is.
Every shot LaMelo Ball took this last season. By my count he shot a total 2/32 on left-wing threes. Take those out of his shot profile and his 3PT% rises from 24.4% to 36%. pic.twitter.com/PB73pW5sas— Daniel Olinger (@dan_olinger) April 23, 2020
Even with defense that falls somewhere in between Trae Young and acceptably bad, Ball is gifted enough offensively to justify being the top player in this weaker class.
2. Onyeka Okongwu, Center, USC — 6’9”, 245 lbs, 19.5 years old (Previously No. 3)
Per 36 Numbers: 19.0 PTS, 10.2 REB, 1.3 AST, 3.2 BLK, 1.4 STL, 2.3 TO
Percentages: 64.5 TS%, N/A 3PT%, 72.0 FT%, 61.6 FG%
Just gonna go ahead and leave this here ...
No, I don’t think Okongwu is the next Anthony Davis, but I could definitely see him being another version of Bam Adebayo — a switchable big-man defender who excels as a short roll passer and can finish with either hand in the post. Sign me up.
3. Killian Hayes, Guard, ULM (Germany) — 6’5”, 187 lbs, 18.9 years old (Previously No. 2)
(Note: Hayes played in Germany this last year, but is French.)
Per 36 Numbers: 16.8 PTS, 7.8 AST, 4.1 REB, 2.1 STL, 0.4 BLK, 4.7 TO
Percentages: 58.5 TS%, 29.4 3PT%, 87.6 FT%, 48.2 FG%
The continual adoration for Hayes from Draft Twitter is like what happens when you dated someone really great that one time (Luka Doncic), only to date another person a few years later who has about 70 percent of those same characteristics, and you end up treating them about the same even though you know there’s a difference. Hayes is what you get when you cross D’Angelo Russell’s talent and left-handed dominance with James Harden’s footwork and moves and sprinkle in some on-ball defense for good measure. He won’t be an immediate boost to a good team, as he’s bad off-ball both on offense and defense, and really needs to be the fulcrum of the team to unleash his value. There’s a world where he can’t shoot well enough and flames out, but there’s also one where he puts it all together and becomes a perennial All-Star. A well-sized pick-and-roll maestro that can shoot off the dribble is every front office’s dream, and the main selling point for Hayes.
4. Anthony Edwards, Guard/Wing, Georgia — 6’5”, 225 lbs, 18.9 years old (Previously No. 4)
Per 36 Numbers: 20.8 PTS, 5.7 REB, 3.1 AST, 1.5 STL, 0.6 BPG, 3.0 TO
Percentages: 52.0 TS%, 29.4 3PT%, 77.2 FT%, 40.2 FG%
I’m still not a huge Edwards fan, as his jump in the rankings can be pinned to my souring on the two big men in this part of the draft, rather than by his own merit. His speed and power are reminiscent of Jaylen Brown, and combined with Edwards’ decent handle, that can make him an imposing on-ball scorer. However, despite his gifts, he plays defense as if he was already social distancing, and his me-centric approach to offense will make it very hard for him to fit if he’s not a star in the NBA.
5. Kira Lewis Jr., Guard, Alabama — 6’3”, 165 lbs, 19.2 years old (Previously No. 12, Full Breakdown Here)
Per 36 Numbers: 17.7 PTS, 4.6 REB, 5.0 AST, 1.7 STL, 0.6 BLK, 3.5 TO
Percentages: 56.0 TS%, 36.6 3PT%, 80.2 FT%, 45.9 FG%
Lewis is what you would get if you took Collin Sexton’s innate talent, but removed the tunnel vision and blessed him with a baseline of defensive knowledge and hustle. Lewis is a blur on the court, and uses that combination of speed and length to jump passing lanes and block 3s on the weak side. He gets into the paint early and often, and from there can either use his length to finish over contests at the rim or kick out to spot-up shooters. However, he doesn’t have the elite feel of a primary offensive engine that can manipulate defenses and create openings for others, which is the main thing holding him back from the very top tier of prospects.
Kira Lewis Jr. is really fast pic.twitter.com/skPAc1VJU4— Daniel Olinger (@dan_olinger) March 21, 2020
6. Tyrese Haliburton, Guard, Iowa State — 6’5”, 175 lbs, 20.3 years old (Previously No. 7)
Per 36 Numbers: 14.9 PTS, 6.3 AST, 5.8 REB, 2.4 STL, 0.7 BLK, 2.7 TO
Percentages: 63.1 TS%, 41.9 3PT%, 82.2 FT%, 50.4 FG%
The common saying about Haliburton is that, “He makes good things happen.” His shot form rests too much on his right shoulder, making it difficult for him to make pull-up jumpers, and he’s a little underwhelming athletically from time to time, so being an All-Star likely isn’t in his future. However, what he can do is drain catch-and-shoot 3s with devastating precision, make every conceivable pass out of the pick and roll, and, with the exception of some lapses in transition, be an absolute pest on that end with his lanky wingspan (not an reliable measurement given yet).
Quintessential activity on offense for Tyrese Haliburton (in a non-PnR situation).— Spencer (@SKPearlman) June 14, 2020
Quick pass, offensive rebound tap out, relocate, C&S 3 pic.twitter.com/UD46WFTf5j
7. Devin Vassell, Wing, Florida State — 6’7”, 194 lbs, 19.8 years old (Previously No. 9)
Per 36 Numbers: 15.9 PTS, 6.3 REB, 2.0 AST, 1.8 STL, 1.2 BLK, 1.0 TO
Percentages: 58.5 TS%, 41.5 3PT%, 73.8 FT%, 49.0 FG%
I thought no one would ever surpass Mikal Bridges in terms of being the quintessential 3-and-D prospect (too soon?), yet here comes Vassell onto the scene. Not only is Vassell perfectly qualified for that role, but he also has a reliable mid-range game and hustles on defense more than anyone in the entire class. He will be a quality starter in the NBA.
8. Cole Anthony, Guard, North Carolina — 6’3”, 184 lbs, 20.1 years old (Previously No. 8)
Per 36 Numbers: 19.1 PTS, 4.1 AST, 5.9 REB, 1.4 STL, 0.3 BLK, 3.6 TO
Percentages: 50.1 TS%, 34.8 3PT%, 75.0 FT%, 38.0 FG%
At first look, it’s not great. How on earth could a 6-foot-3 guard with a horrid true shooting percentage, whose team went 14-19 despite being a blue blood school, possibly be a top ten talent? Here’s how: 1) Anthony’s teammates were so bad that even 2016 Hinkie would have been too embarrassed to sign them, 2) Anthony has proven that he can make tough off-the-dribble 3s, and 3) his passing is severely underrated, as he displays creativity and accuracy often.
9. James Wiseman, Center, Memphis — 7’1”, 231 lbs, 19.2 years old (Previously No. 4)
(Only played in three college games so numbers and percentages are largely inconclusive.)
Wiseman is divisive to say the least. Mainstream media has crowned him a martyr of the NCAA and either the first or second best player in the draft, while hardcore subchannels of draft coverage often rank Wiseman in the mid-20s, citing his very poor feel for the game as evidence that he’ll be nothing more than an okay rim-runner. He takes mid-range jumpers like he’s KD, but the shot accuracy isn’t in the same stratosphere, and he lacks aggression down low, often getting out-muscled by lighter opponents. However, he has a very high floor due to his freakish combination of size and mobility, making it almost impossible for him not to land in a rotation somewhere in the league. In a class like this, that assurance of decency matters.
10. Obi Toppin, Forward/Center, Dayton — 6’9”, 220 lbs, 22.3 years old (Previously No. 5)
Per 36 Numbers: 22.8 PTS, 8.6 REB, 2.5 AST, 1.4 BLK, 1.1 STL, 2.5 TO
Percentages: 68.4 TS%, 39.0 3PT%, 70.2 FT%, 63.3 FG%
I wish I could put Toppin higher. He is by far the most fun player to watch in this class, finishing contested lobs like a young Amar’e Stoudemire and hitting 3s like 2019 Blake Griffin. Unfortunately, the defensive issues are glaring. He’s as stiff as Jahlil Okafor and Marreese Speights in terms of hip flexibility, meaning he’ll probably have to play as a center in the NBA rather than power forward, which isn’t ideal considering that he’s a so-so rebounder at 6-foot-9. But still, Toppin works hard on defense and is pretty good defending the post, so he won’t be a total disaster on that end.
11. Isaac Okoro, Wing, Auburn — 6’6”, 225 lbs, 19.4 years old (Previously No. 14)
Per 36 Numbers: 14.7 PTS, 5.1 REB, 2.3 AST, 1.1 STL, 1.0 BLK, 2.2 TO
Percentages: 58.5 TS%, 28.6 3PT%, 67.4 FT%, 51.2 FG%
Okoro’s comparisons from @youngwizzyDFS’s Draft App are pretty scary. He’s known as a lockdown defender plagued with a bad jump shot, making the references to Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Justise Winslow hard to ignore. However, there’s also a lot of Jimmy Butler in his game, as the two share similar physical builds, are masters at bowling over defenders on off-ball cuts and having some pretty reliable passing tendencies. The scoring and overall offense is bad enough to keep Okoro from being a sure thing, but the plug-and-play defense is hard to ignore as well.
12. Deni Avdija, Wing, Maccabi Tel Aviv (Israel) — 6’9”, 215 lbs, 19.4 years old (Previously No. 10)
Per 36 Numbers: 14.1 PTS, 7.4 REB, 3.1 AST, 1.1 BLK, 0.9 STL, 2.3 TO
Percentages: 58.2 TS%, 36.6 3PT%, 52.0 FT%, 51.4 FG%
While it feels lazy to compare Avdija to fellow foreign players, he really does play like a cross between Dario Saric and Cedi Osman. He has Saric’s size and wacky low post game, but possesses Osman’s movement style and greater 3-point shooting percentage. The defense still has a long way to go, but Avdija is a fiery player that competes hard on that end and shows good instincts. He’s not as plug-and-play as a Haliburton or a Vassell, but he’s just a rung below that.
13. Tyrese Maxey, Guard, Kentucky — 6’3”, 198 lbs, 19.6 years old (Previously No. 13)
Per 36 Numbers: 14.6 PTS, 4.5 REB, 3.3 AST, 0.9 STL, 0.4 BLK, 2.3 TO
Percentages: 53.1 TS%, 29.2 3PT%, 83.3 FT%, 42.7 FG%
Maxey’s game is full of conundrums. He’s a rock-solid defender that can be a menace to opposing point guards, but his handle isn’t tight enough to leave him out there as the main on-ball creator. He shot really poorly from 3 this past year, but the stroke is fluid and he had multiple games where he was lights out from deep. He’s similar to Coby White—he can be highly inefficient and his scoring output doesn’t always contribute well to his team’s overall play, but when it’s good, it’s really good.
14. Patrick Williams, Wing, Florida State — 6’8”, 225 lbs, 18.9 years old
Per 36 Numbers: 14.8 PTS, 6.4 REB, 1.6 AST, 1.7 BLK, 1.6 STL, 2.8 TO
Percentages: 55.3 TS%, 32.0 3PT%, 83.8 FT%, 45.9 FG%
Williams has a big body, remains mobile despite the added weight, and has a clean stroke that projects well considering his free throw percentage and pull-up capability. He reminds me a lot of Eric Paschall, but with defense that is closer to OG Annunoby’s, making him a useful and versatile threat for any team that drafts him.
15. Josh Green, Wing, Arizona — 6’6”, 206 lbs, 19.6 years old (Previously No. 19)
Per 36 Numbers: 14.0 PTS, 5.3 REB, 3.0 AST, 1.8 STL, 0.5 BLK, 1.9 TO
Percentages: 52.8 TS%, 36.1 3PT%, 78.0 FT%, 42.4 FG%
A lot of people get down on Green due to his poor shot mechanics and struggles to finish and attack with his left, making him nothing more than a so-so 3-and-D wing. Personally, I buy Green as more than a guy that sits in the corner, due to his vision and willingness to make the right pass. As I said in Board 1.0, he’s already the “master of jumping to catch a ball thrown underneath the basket, followed by an immediate skip it to a corner shooter.” And on defense, all signs are pointing up, especially his +2.8 STL%, which according to a study put together by Jackson Frank, hits the benchmark for projecting good defense in guards at the next level.
16. Aleksej Pokusevski, Center, Olympiacos B (Greece) — 7’0”, 201 lbs, 18.5 years old (Previously No. 25)
Per 36 Numbers: 16.7 PTS, 12.2 REB, 4.8 AST, 2.8 BLK, 2.0 STL, 3.0 TO
Percentages: 51.3 TS%, 32.1 3PT%, 78.3 FT%, 40.0 FG%
“Poku” is a real test of how risky GMs are willing to get in the Draft. Sometimes you swing at the unknown quantity from the Greek B League and get Giannis Antetokounmpo. Other times you get stuck with the human embodiment of regret (Georgios Papagiannis). Poku plays like a guard and has some crazy good instincts, but might actually be thinner than Brandon Ingram and has the post-up game of a 13 year-old. He needs to bulk up and learn how to better fit within a winning construct (i.e. don’t try as many stupid and risky things), but his age and incredible coordination combined with a basement as a solid rim protector make him a very desirable prospect.
17. Aaron Nesmith, Wing, Vanderbilt — 6’6”, 213 lbs, 20.7 years old (Full Breakdown Here)
Per 36 Numbers: 23.2 PTS, 4.9 REB, 0.9 AST, 1.4 STL, 0.9 BLK, 1.7 TO
Percentages: 68.5 TS%, 52.2 3PT%, 82.5 FT%, 51.2 FG%
The anti-analytics crowd tends to think that new age thinkers of basketball only care about a player’s 3-point percentage. Not true. In fact, Nesmith often gets dinged in draft circles for his inability to drive or shoot off the dribble, as well as for his subpar defense. On top of that, I’m a little worried that he shot 33 percent from deep back in the 2018-19 season, and that his 52 percent mark came in a small 14-game sample. Still though, the ridiculously good nature of his shooting numbers make him an enticing pick as teams search for the next Duncan Robinson.
18. R.J. Hampton, Guard/Wing, NZ Breakers (Australia) — 6’5”, 188 lbs, 19.3 years old (Previously No. 22)
(Note: Hampton played in Australia, but is American.)
Per 36 Numbers: 15.4 PTS, 6.8 REB, 4.2 AST, 1.9 STL, 0.6 BLK, 2.7 TO
Percentages: 48.4 TS%, 29.5 3PT%, 67.9 FT%, 40.7 FG%
Based solely on how he played in the NBL this past season, Hampton would be lower down this Big Board. He’s reminiscent of Dante Exum on offense, being an explosive and tall combo guard that struggles to feel the game or shoot accurately. His 54 percent shooting at the rim is acceptable, but shooting 25.8 percent on all attempts beyond that is not, albeit on low volume (stats via Spatial Jam). On top of that, his current defense is at best uninspired, and at worst lazy and bad. He has all the physical tools to improve, and his ability to take long and fast strides around defenders on offense is truly special, but it might be a while before he becomes a positive force in the league.
19. Saddiq Bey, Wing, Villanova — 6’8”, 216 lbs, 21.2 years old - (Previously No. 13 and a Full Breakdown Here)
Per 36 Numbers: 17.1 PTS, 5.0 REB, 2.5 AST, 0.8 STL, 0.4 BLK, 1.6 TO
Percentages: 60.8 TS%, 45.1 3PT%, 76.9 FT%, 47.7 FG%
Bey’s journey in NBA draft discourse has been a roller coaster. At first, he shot up the boards when scouts took a look at his size and exceptional 3-point percentage, creating that ideal 3-and-D portrait. But scouts and writers began to be turned off by his lack of off the dribble creation, heavy-footed defense, and atrocious rebounding numbers for a 6-foot-8 forward. While I don’t love him as much as I originally did, Bey’s catch-and-shoot 3 will be automatic with his picture-perfect form, making him an easy plug-and-play draftee.
20. Leandro Bolmaro, Guard, Barcelona (Spain) — 6’7”, 180 lbs, 19.8 years old (Previously No. 18)
Per 36 Numbers: 16.4 PTS, 5.2 AST, 3.4 REB, 2.6 STL, 0.3 BLK, 1.8 TO
Percentages: 50.5 TS%, 27.9 3PT%, 67.6 FT%, 42.4 FG%
The stereotype that unfortunately developed for European players was one of an other-worldly shooter and unselfish facilitator, who simultaneously struggles to handle the ball and defend due to athletic limits. Bolmaro is practically the opposite. He’s a shifty on-ball operator with a deep bag of moves who also uses his size and speed to bother his matchup on the other end. His shot form, particularly on pull-ups, is awkward, and a lack of improvement as a scorer could prevent him from developing a niche as a rotation player.
21. Xavier Tillman, Big, Michigan St. — 6’9”, 245 lbs, 21.4 years old (Previously N/A) (Tom West’s Full Breakdown of Tillman Here)
Per 36 Numbers: 15.4 PTS, 11.6 REB, 3.4 AST, 2.4 BLK, 1.3 STL
Percentages: 59.3 TS%, 26.0 3PT%, 66.7 FT%, 55.0 FG%
I was slow coming around on Tillman, but, “at last I see the light” (I might be way too young and/or dorky for anyone to get that reference). Tillman is an analytics darling, as he finished first in the country in defensive box plus-minus and first in overall box plus-minus. He’s drawn comparisons to Draymond Green as a switchable defender that can’t be moved in the post, while being nimble enough to switch on the perimeter. His short roll passing is delightful, but he’s still a step away from being the fulcrum one can run their offense through. The lack of a reliable 3-point shot or springboard hops excludes him from star potential, but the year-to-year improvement on the shot is encouraging, and Tillman completely wiping out in the NBA seems unimaginable.
22. Jalen Smith, Center, Maryland — 6’10”, 225 lbs, 20.2 years old (Previously No. 28)
Per 36 Numbers: 17.8 PTS, 12.1 REB, 0.9 AST, 2.7 BLK, 0.8 STL, 2.0 TO
Percentages: 62.6 TS%, 36.8 3PT%, 75.0 FT%, 53.8 FG%
A riser from my first Big Board, Smith strikes me as a Gorgui Dieng-type who can make open jumpers, while providing above average rim protection and the occasional ability to switch. He does have two major red flags in that he is terrible chasing players around off-ball screens, as he struggles to cut at a sharp angle, and is so slender in his lower half that he can be easily outmuscled by stronger centers. Yet, I’m still high on his offensive ceiling, as Smith can oscillate between popping and rolling as a ball screener with ease, and uses his 7-foot-1 wingspan combined with light feet to get off the ground quickly and put pressure on the rim.
23. Tyrell Terry, Guard, Stanford — 6’2”, 160 lbs, 19.7 years old (Previously No. 20)
Per 36 Numbers: 16.2 PTS, 5.0 REB, 3.5 AST, 1.5 STL, 0.1 BLK, 2.5 TO
Percentages: 58.9 TS%, 40.8 3PT%, 89.1 FT%, 44.1 FG%
The winner of my draft creators series, Terry is not only one of the draft’s best shooters, but one of its most versatile. Whether it’s catch and shoot, dribbling into a shot off a ball screen, or isolating into step backs, Terry is the guy. He’s about as bulky as a feather, which has given a lot of pro teams concern, but that ability to hit tough shots, finish well at the rim with a 60.4 percent conversion rate, and fight to get under opponents on defense make him a high upside pick.
24. Desmond Bane, Wing, TCU — 6’6”, 216 lbs, 21.9 years old (Tom West’s Feature Here, Previously No. 24)
Per 36 Numbers: 16.6 PTS, 6.3 REB, 3.9 AST, 1.4 STL, 0.5 BLK, 2.3 TO
Percentages: 57.3 TS%, 44.2 3PT%, 78.9 FT%, 45.2 FG%
Bane is a popular sleeper both here at LB and within draft discussions around the internet, as he’s the kind of the prospect that everybody knows won’t fail and drop out of the league entirely. He’s awfully similar to Malcolm Brogdon offensively with his shooting acumen and body type, but not as qualified on defense due to his short wingspan and lack of foot speed.
25. Mason Jones, Guard/Wing, Arkansas — 6’5”, 200 lbs, 21.9 years old (Previously No. 30)
Per 36 Numbers: 23.4 PTS, 5.8 REB, 3.6 AST, 1.7 STL, 0.2 BLK, 3.4 TO
Percentages: 61.4 TS%, 35.1 3PT%, 82.6 FT%, 45.3 FG%
Jones is a basketball greenhorn relative to his peers, yet he already displays skill and knowledge beyond his years. He baits defenders into reaches and missteps, and can make them look silly with step back 3s from very long range. He’s very ground bound as a leaper, and a lack of blow-by speed can cause him to lose his dribble when he gets stonewalled by a defender, but overall, Jones should be a positive offensively in the league.
Mason Jones is a baaaaaaaad man pic.twitter.com/CCkeHsU3TP— Daniel Olinger (@dan_olinger) April 15, 2020
26. Elijah Hughes, Wing, Syracuse — 6’6”, 215 lbs, 22.3 years old (Previously No. 26)
Per 36 Numbers: 18.7 PTS, 4.8 REB, 3.3 AST, 1.1 STL, 0.8 BLK, 2.2 TO
Percentages: 56.1 TS%, 34.2 3PT%, 81.3 FT%, 42.7 FG%
Don’t take too much stock in that 34.2 3PT% for Hughes. He was the primary scoring option for Syracuse this past year and took more contested and off-the-dribble 3s than he’ll be required to in the NBA. He has incredible hops for a wing, adding rim protection capability to his already solid defense. I see him as a Norman Powell with slightly worse handles (a compliment as I named myself the president of the Norman Powell fan club all the way back in 2016).
27. Jaden McDaniels, Wing, Washington — 6’10”, 184 lbs, 19.7 years old (Previously No. 16)
Per 36 Numbers: 15.0 PTS, 6.7 REB, 2.4 AST, 1.6 BLK, 0.9 STL, 3.7 TO
Percentages: 51.5 TS%, 33.9 3PT%, 76.3 FT%, 40.5 FG%
The prototypical high-ceiling, 50-feet below sea level floor prospect, McDaniels performed poorly enough at Washington that he got benched midseason and had a neutral impact on his team at best. His poor percentages speak for themselves, as does his 0.65 assist-to-turnover ratio, and his finishing in the 28th percentile in transition scoring. However, his high prestige coming into college and the occasional wow play make it hard for him to drop too far. He has good timing on weak-side blocks and can protect the rim (though he was aided by playing in UW’s zone defense), and while not being an expert ball handler, he’s capable of creating a shot for himself off the dribble, which is incredibly valuable at his height. It will be interesting to see who is willing to take a swing on him come draft day.
28. Zeke Nnaji, Center, Arizona — 6’11”, 240 lbs, 19.4 years old (Previously No. 23)
Per 36 Numbers: 18.9 PTS, 10.1 REB, 1.0 AST, 1.0 BLK, 0.8 STL, 2.6 TO
Percentages: 63.0 TS%, 29.4 3PT%, 76.0 FT%, 57.0 FG%
I might be the biggest Nnaji fan outside of the state of Arizona (save for his family, of course). He gets knocked for his love of the mid range (34.4 percent of his shots were two-points jumpers), below average rebounding numbers at the center position, and lack of rim protection, but I just can’t help but be drawn to the way he plays. He makes his emotions visible on the court and works hard every second he’s out there, consistently tossing skinnier bigs for position. His mid-range tendencies also have some justification, as he shot a decent 45.4 percent on those two-point jumpers, and his solid free throw percentage indicates that with practice he might be able to better extend out to 3-point range as a pro.
29. Paul Reed, Big, DePaul — 6’9”, 220 lbs, 20.9 years old (Previously N/A)
Per 36 Numbers: 56.1 TS%, 30.8 3PT%, 73.8 FT%, 51.6 FG%
Percentages: 17.2 PTS, 12.2 REB, 1.8 AST, 2.9 BLK, 2.1 STL
Reed is a true test case in the valuation of modern big men. He has almost no post game to speak of, played for a DePaul team that lost 15 of its final 18 games, and isn’t even a devastating floor spacer due to his corkscrew shooting motion. However, Reed has shot up many a Big Board in the past few months due to his value as a switchable big with long arms and an always churning motor. He also provides some creation equity on offense due to his quickness and surprisingly solid handles. His 3.3% steal rate, 9.7% block rate and 9.2 BPM are some of the highest marks of any player in the class. These underlying statistics combined with his enormous 7-foot-2 wingspan all point toward Reed being a rotation player with positive impact at the next level.
30. Precious Achiuwa, Center, Memphis — 6’9”, 223 lbs, 20.7 years old (Previously No. 17)
Per 36 Numbers: 18.7 PTS, 12.3 REB, 1.1 AST, 2.2 BLK, 1.3 STL, 3.3 TO
Percentages: 53.4 TS%, 32.5 3PT%, 59.9 FT%, 49.3 FG%
Achiuwa took a major drop from my first board after diving further into his film and hearing some more opinions on him. His calling card is his straight-line speed, which is downright scary for a big, and combined with some not terrible ball handling, he’s a decent rim attacker from the top of the key. But while those skills seem enticing, they’re not as translatable as other aspects of the game. Achiuwa is not a very reliable shooter, can’t do much with his back to the basket, struggles to flip his hips on defense and is pretty clueless as to what’s going on defensively altogether (he’s the master of swiping his hands down last minute for a dumb foul). I can’t drop him too low due to his athletic ability and motor (he probably has the best in-game effort level of any big in the class), but he’s a project to say the least.
31. Killian Tillie, Gonzaga, Forward/Center — 6’10”, 220 lbs, 22.3 years old
Per 36 Numbers: 19.9 PTS, 7.3 REB, 2.7 AST, 1.5 STL, 1.2 BLK
Percentages: 63.0 TS%, 40.0 3PT%, 72.6 FT%, 53.5 FG%
There are so many things to like about Tillie. He passes and positions his body like Boris Diaw. He has quick strong hands like Nikola Jokic. He’ll even hop into 3-pointers like he’s Karl-Anthony Towns. Of course, a lot of this is rendered useless by his poor durability. In four years at Gonzaga, he only played in 108 of a potential 146 games, and only 39 of the last 70. His ceiling is limited by a lack of off-the-dribble scoring, and 3.6 fouls per 36 minutes only further damages his struggles with availability, but a big who combines high levels of feel, shooting and leaping ability has obvious utility in the modern NBA.
32. Grant Riller, College of Charleston, Guard — 6’3”, 190 lbs, 23.3 years old
Per 36 Numbers: 23.5 PTS, 5.5 REB, 4.2 AST, 1.7 STL, 0.3 BLK
Percentages: 60.9 TS%, 36.2 3PT%, 87.2 FT%, 49.9 FT%
Riller has as deep a bag of on-ball scoring moves as anyone in the class, and that part of his game combined with his above average quickness makes him a dangerous isolation scorer. His defense won’t be insurmountably bad, but bad nonetheless, and it’s hard to see where else he’ll contribute positively, but there will always be value for a straight bucket getter in the NBA.
33. Malachi Flynn, Guard, San Diego St. — 6’1”, 185 lbs, 22.1 years old (Previously N/A)
Per 36 Numbers: 19.0 PTS, 5.5 AST, 4.8 REB, 1.9 STL, 0.1 BLK
Percentages: 58.3 TS%, 37.3 3PT%, 85.7 FT%, 44.7 FG%
Flynn is basically guaranteed to be an average to stellar backup point guard in the league, due both to how proficient he is in the pick and roll and his off-the-dribble shooting ability. He scored 1.06 points per possession in the pick and roll, good for the 96th percentile in the country, and while not an upper echelon passer, Flynn isn’t bad in that department either. He’ll need to learn to play more off-ball, as he finished 5th in the NCAA in usage percentage, but I’m confident that he will do so, given his career mark of 39 percent on spot-up 3s. Defensively, his size and wingspan are concerning, but he makes up for it with active feet and top notch rotations, so, at worst, he’ll be a forgivable minus on that end.
34. Cassius Winston, Guard, Michigan St — 6’1”, 185 lbs, 22.3 years old (Full Breakdown Here, Previously No. 28)
Per 36 Numbers: 20.5 PTS, 6.5 AST, 2.8 REB, 1.3 STL, 0.0 BLK, 3.5 TO
Percentages: 58.5 TS%, 43.2 3PT%, 85.2 FT%, 44.8 FG%
I’ve written more about Winston than I ever could have imagined. Great shooter on all levels. Good, but not great, passer. Too right hand dominant. Defense is a train wreck at the moment. Summary concluded.
35. Devon Dotson, Guard, Kansas — 6’2”, 179 lbs, 20.9 years old (Previously N/A)
Per 36 Numbers: 18.7 PTS, 4.2 REB, 4.1 AST, 2.2 STL, 0.1 BLK
Percentages: 57.8 TS%, 30.9 3PT%, 83.0 FG%, 46.8 FG%
As you might remember from my draft creator series, Dotson has a case as the best rim-attacking point guard in the class, converting a jaw-dropping 60.4 percent of his at-rim shots. He’s faster with the ball in his hands than anyone in the class with the exceptions of Kira Lewis and maybe R.J. Hampton, and he’s an expert at knowing when it is the right time to exploit gaps in the defense and slash to the rim. He doesn’t have too many avenues to success, as his shot needs improvement, he’s only an okay passer, and defensively, he’ll get picked on due to his size. But come the second round, finding a guy with one outlier skill becomes more important, and Dotson has that down with the way he attacks the rim.
36. Jared Butler, Baylor, Guard — 6’3”, 190 lbs, 20.7 years old
Per 36 Numbers: 19.0 PTS, 3.7 AST, 3.8 REB, 1.9 STL, 0.2 BLK
Percentages: 54.6 TS%, 38.1 3PT%, 77.5 FT%, 42.1 FG%
Statistically and stylistically similar to Gary Harris, Butler projects as a stout point-of-attack defender that will have smaller guards bouncing back off of him, while also possessing the quickness to prevent the drive in the first place. On offense, he’s a creative and skilled driver who posted a 60.4 percent mark on at-rim finishes. He’s a reliable spot-up shooter, but can be a bit awkward on pull-ups due to how he lowers his elbow and tucks the ball beneath his chin. His size makes him a bit of a tweener, as he doesn’t possess the needed ball handling to be a primary offensive initiator, but is a couple inches shorter than the modern off-guard. Still, Butler has no inexcusable weakness, and his 10.0 BPM rating against top-50 opponents was one of the best marks in all of college basketball.
Jared Butler forces a stop in a one-on-one then finishes with a score in transition pic.twitter.com/ZY0FhjkRAw— Daniel Olinger (@dan_olinger) June 12, 2020
37. Theo Maledon, Guard, ASVEL (France) — 6’4”, 174 lbs, 19.0 years old
Per 36 Numbers: 15.1 PTS, 5.6 AST, 4.0 REB, 0.9 STL, 0.3 BLK, 3.4 TO
Percentages: 54.5 TS%, 33.3 3PT%, 77.6 FT%, 42.1 FG%
It feels like this gets said every year about young overseas players, but Maledon is very raw at the moment. His best attribute is his breakneck speed, followed by his passing. He isn’t a transformative distributor manufacturing openings for his teammates, but he’s always making smart kick-out and outlet passes to the open man. The shot needs work, as he holds the ball way too far off the right side of his head, and despite putting in good effort defensively, he doesn’t have much of a clue as to what he’s doing right now.
38. Skylar Mays, LSU, Wing — 6’4”, 205 lbs, 22.6 years old
Per 36 Numbers: 17.4 PTS, 5.3 REB, 3.4 AST, 1.9 STL, 0.2 BLK
Percentages: 62.2 TS%, 39.4 3PT%, 85.4 FT%, 49.5 FG%
Mays has one of the most aesthetically pleasing games in the class, as he uses his bulky build and impressive on-court intelligence to consistently make winning plays. The list of sub-6-foot-7 22 year-olds who weren’t great ball handlers who succeeded in the NBA is not a long one, but Mays’ value as a floor spacer and perimeter defender that wrecks havoc in the gaps with his strong hands should allow him to slot into a third guard role on a quality team. And this is all without getting into his signature move:
Skylar Mays—Supreme Grandmaster of Spin Moves pic.twitter.com/gwH2KIuFjv— Daniel Olinger (@dan_olinger) May 30, 2020
39. Tyler Bey, Colorado, Forward/Center — 6’7”, 216 lbs, 22.3 years old
Per 36 Numbers: 17.2 PTS, 11.2 REB, 1.8 AST, 1.9 STL, 1.4 BLK
Percentages: 61.1 TS%, 41.1 3PT%, 74.3 FT%, 53.0 FG%
Bey is an acquired taste. He struggles to create off the dribble, as most of his points were off lobs, spot-up 3s and square-and-face 15-footers. Even within that, his 41.1 percent 3-point shooting is deceiving, as he only took one attempt per game this past season, and in the two seasons prior, he shot a combined 5-for-28 from behind the arc. However, he ranked 9th in NCAA DI in Defensive BPM, as his 7-foot-1 wingspan allows him to play a lot bigger than his listed 6-foot-7 height, while not sacrificing quickness and instincts. In the right situation, he’s an ideal small ball center.
40. Jahmi’us Ramsey, Texas Tech, Wing— 6’4”, 195 lbs, 19.0 years old
Per 36 Numbers: 17.4 PTS, 4.6 REB, 2.6 AST, 1.5 STL, 0.8 BLK
Percentages: 54.6 TS%, 42.6 3PT%, 64.1 FT%, 44.2 FG%
Jahmi’us Ramsey is a player I’m lower on than most, as I don’t see him as much more than a 3-and-D guard due to his limitations as a passer and ball handler. Past that, I’m not even completely sold on his jumper due to his unorthodox form and shaky free throw percentage, nor am I sold on his defense. He has the quickness of foot, a perfect build, and actually gives a crap on that end, but he’s also prone to lapses and silly fouls (2.5 per 36). Ramsey is too much of a risk as a prospect for my taste.
41. Immanuel Quickley, Kentucky, Wing — 6’3”, 188 lbs, 20.9 years old
Per 36 Numbers: 17.5 PTS, 4.6 REB, 2.0 AST, 1.0 STL, 0.1 BLK
Percentages: 59.5 TS%, 42.8 3PT%, 92.3 FT%, 41.7 FG%
Quickley is not as pure of a shooter as Aaron Nesmith, but in that mold is where he’ll make his money in the NBA. Defensively, he could stand to add some weight and improve on some fundamentals, but his motor runs high and he has a freaky 6-foot-10 wingspan, which could serve him well for guarding taller off-guards. His range of potential outcomes is very limited, but the fact that there’s almost no way for him to fail as a shooter makes him a hard prospect to pass up on come the second round.
42. Cassius Stanley, Duke, Wing — 6’6”, 193 lbs, 20.8 years old
Per 36 Numbers: 16.5 PTS, 6.4 REB, 1.4 AST, 0.9 STL, 0.9 BLK
Percentages: 56.9 TS%, 36.0 3PT%, 47.4 FG%, 73.3 FT%
Strictly another 3-and-D prospect, as his handle is so basic that he did not make a single unassisted 3 this past season. However, he did finish in the 93rd percentile of points per catch-and-shoot 3, and on defense, he works his butt off to fight around screens and play within the scheme. His extraterrestrial 46.5-inch vertical allows him to serve as an impactful putback finisher as well, but it’s unlikely Stanley ever evolves past being a Gerald Green or Ben McLemore type of player.
43. Payton Pritchard, Oregon, Guard — 6’2”, 190 lbs, 22.4 years old
Per 36 Numbers: 20.1 PTS, 5.5 AST, 4.3 REB, 1.5 STL, 0.0 BLK
Percentages: 60.1 TS%, 41.5 3PT%, 82.1 FT%, 46.8 FG%
If I could best describe Pritchard, it would be as a bizarre cross between T.J. McConnell and Shabazz Napier. That’s a compliment (I think???). Defensively, he’s going to struggle with more athletic guards, and offensively, he’s not a great shot creator for others. Still, he’s good enough of a shooter, both from several feet behind the line and off the dribble, that he’ll force defenders to gravitate toward him. That’s a powerful ability.
44. Nico Mannion, Arizona, Guard — 6’3”, 179 lbs, 19.2 years old
Per 36 Numbers: 15.6 PTS, 5.9 AST, 2.8 REB, 1.3 STL, 0.0 BLK
Percentages: 52.0 TS%, 32.7 3PT%, 79.7 FT%, 39.2 FG%
To be fair, I’m lower on Mannion than just about anybody out there. He’s a smart passer and has the side-to-side quickness to bother similar-sized players on defense. But his off-the-shoulder, hanging to one side shooting form is problematic, and he doesn’t have anywhere near the vertical burst necessary to finish at the rim in traffic (54.1 percent on the season). I really don’t see how he becomes anything more than an average backup point guard.
Not exactly an inspiring finish from Nico right here pic.twitter.com/mbjLdPQSCO— Daniel Olinger (@dan_olinger) June 12, 2020
45. Tre Jones, Duke, Guard — 6’2.5”, 185 lbs, 20.4 years old
Per 36 Numbers: 16.5 PTS, 6.5 AST, 4.3 REB, 1.8 STL, 0.4 BLK
Percentages: 52.4 TS%, 36.1 3PT%, 77.1 FT%, 42.3 FG%
Despite improving on his overall percentages and contributing to a lot of wins in two years at Duke, some of Jones’ tendencies are just too concerning for me to rate him any higher. His shot form is unorthodox at best, crooked at worst. He relied on pull-up mid-range shots way too much, and his inability to burst through gaps makes it hard for him to attack poor defenses. Finally, his much-heralded defense was overrated, as he was prone to off-ball lapses.
46. Corey Kispert, Gonzaga, Wing — 6’7”, 220 lbs, 21.3 years old
Per 36 Numbers: 15.1 PTS, 4.3 REB, 2.3 AST, 1.0 STL, 0.4 BLK
Percentages: 62.1 TS%, 43.8 3PT%, 81.0 FT%, 47.4 FG%
Watching Kispert, I immediately thought of Joe Harris. Both players have similar size, similar shooting forms, and an ability to use their strong bodies to finish at the rim (56.4 percent on the season). His off-the-dribble shooting is lacking, and defensively he’s a minus, but the shooting is so pure that it might outweigh all of his other deficiencies.
47. Vernon Carey Jr., Duke, Center — 6’10”, 265 lbs, 19.3 years old
Per 36 Numbers: 25.7 PTS, 12.7 REB, 1.4 AST, 2.3 BLK, 1.0 STL
Percentages: 61.5 TS%, 38.1 3PT%, 67.0 FG%, 57.7 FT%
Carey is the bizarro version of Julius Randle. Both are tire fires on defense—Randle because of lackadaisical effort, Carey because saying his feet are stuck in quicksand wouldn’t be nearly harsh enough. However, they both have that bull-in-the-china-shop lefty game, backing down opponents and dropstepping them to death, not to mention Carey is an excellent passer for a plodding big and has shown great signs as a shooter. His defensive red flags are large enough to cover a wall, but the offense is intriguing.
48. Robert Woodard II, Mississippi State, Forward — 6’7”, 230 lbs, 20.7 years old
Per 36 Numbers: 12.4 PTS, 7.1 REB, 1.4 AST, 1.2 STL, 1.1 BLK
Percentages: 56.4 TS%, 42.9 3PT%, 64.1 FT%, 49.5 FG%
Offensively, he’s the discount version of Cassius Stanley — a decent, albeit lesser shooter, a good offensive rebounder and lob finisher with his vertical, with struggles creating off the dribble. Defensively, Woodard is really disruptive, packing a lot of strength for a guy that’s light on his feet, and having enough size to switch between multiple positions. Most of his best skills are ancillary to an offense, as he swings the ball with good timing and can excel as a small-ball big due to his solid screen setting.
49. Ayo Dosunmu, Illinois, Guard/Wing — 6’5”, 180 lbs, 20.4 years old
Per 36 Numbers: 17.8 PTS, 4.7 REB, 3.6 AST, 0.9 STL, 0.2 BLK
Percentages: 54.9 TS%, 29.6 3PT%, 75.5 FT%, 48.4 FG%
Where people stand on Dosunmu shows where allegiances lie amongst basketball fans. Strict college basketball fans think of him as a winner and leader that elevates those around him. The analytically minded draft-focused community sees the .296 3PT% and 3.7 free throw attempts per 36 and dismisses him as inefficient. I think the answer lies somewhere in-between. He’s an awesome at rim finisher (71.8 percent) and he can get shots off using his height, but he has a lot of technical flaws in his game he’ll have to work out in order to get a real chance at cracking a rotation.
50. Nate Hinton, Houston, Wing — 6’5”, 210 lbs, 21 years old
Per 36 Numbers: 12.6 PTS, 10.4 REB, 2.4 AST, 1.6 STL, 0.2 BLK
Percentages: 54.0 TS%, 38.7 3PT%, 75.6 FT%, 41.0 FG%
One of the chosen children of Draft Twitter, Hinton is an ancillary piece on offense that shot well from 3 this season on 4.6 attempts per game, but it’s his defense that is truly enticing. His raw steal and block numbers undersell his impact, as he is always mucking things up for an opposing offense by deflecting passes and out-hustling everyone on the court. He’s the flat out best player in the class at a) disrupting lobs to a big man with a seal from the weak side, and b) snaring loose rebounds that have bounced outside the paint (evidenced by his absurd rebound numbers).
51. Ty-Shon Alexander, Creighton, Guard/Wing — 6’4”, 195 lbs, 21.9 years old
Per 36 Numbers: 17.6 PTS, 2.4 AST, 5.2 REB, 1.4 STL, 0.3 BLK
Percentages: 59.2 TS%, 39.9 3PT%, 86.0 FT%, 43.1 FG%
Another defender whose impact is only understood when seen during live action, Alexander is a pest to ball handlers with his length and quickness, in spite of his lower steal and block numbers. I think of him similarly to how I think of Immanuel Quickley—a 3-and-D guard with a 6-foot-8 wingspan that will help him to guard bigger wings in the NBA, while also being able to stifle ball handlers. He’s a limited offensive player, but a smart one nonetheless, as 53.7 percent of his shots were 3s, though his two-hand push form could cause some issues. Overall, it’s hard for a great defensive player that isn’t a total zero on offense like Alexander to fail.
52. Isaiah Stewart, Washington, Center— 6’9”, 245 lbs, 19 years old
Per 36 Numbers: 19.0 PTS, 9.8 REB, 0.9 AST, 2.3 BLK, 0.6 STL
Percentages: 62.9 TS%, 25.0 3PT%, 77.4 FT%, 57.0 FG%
Stewart is a very unusual player in every sense. A 6-foot-9 center who makes his bread almost exclusively through post ups and assisted mid-range shots, his muscle-bound build and freakish 7-foot-4 wingspan are the traits of a potential small-ball defender, but Stewart is filled out too much for that. He also struggles to flip his hips and stay out of trouble guarding on the perimeter, which was hidden by UW’s zone defense this past year. Reminiscent of Naz Reid from last year’s class, he’s skilled enough to survive in the league, but he’s nothing special and most likely will end up as a negative impact rotation player.
53. Sam Merrill, Utah State, Guard — 6’5”, 205 lbs, 24 years old
Per 36 Numbers: 19.9 PTS, 4.1 AST, 4.2 REB, 0.9 STL, 0.1 BLK
Percentages: 62.5 TS%, 41.0 3PT%, 89.3 FT%, 46.1 FG%
Merrill’s age immediately jumps off the page as a red flag, as does his so-so quickness and lack of shake as a ball handler. However, Merrill is one of the most versatile shooters in the draft, baiting defenders with a myriad of side dribbles and on-ball fakes, while also being able to run into jump shots off down screens. His ultimate upside is a Duncan Robinson type where his one and only role is to run off millions of screens and play pitch and catch until he finally gets an opening. He doesn’t have the same size or fluidity running into shots off the catch as a Robinson, so that outcome is probably too generous, but the archetype remains promising.
54. Jalen Crutcher, Dayton, Guard — 6’1”, 175 lbs, 20.8 years old
Per 36 Numbers: 16.2 PTS, 5.3 AST, 3.5 REB, 0.9 STL, 0.2 BLK
Percentages: 62.6 TS%, 42.4 3PT%, 86.9 FT%, 46.8 FG%
A guy you won’t see on a ton of other boards, but the most fun player on college basketball’s most fun team of 2020 not named Obi Toppin, Crutcher was the the lead distributor of the second-most efficient offense in the country at Dayton. His 5.3 assists per 36 are impressive for a college guard, as he is an expert at exposing any holes in an opponent’s defense, always knowing when to send the lob to a rolling big or skip to a corner shooter. He’s not a great defender, but a solid one that knows how to help within a team construct, and his improvements as a shooter give him a baseline of a solid backup point guard.
55. Marko Simonovic, Mega Bemax, Center — 6’11”, 220 lbs, 20.6 years old
(Note: Simonovic is from Montenegro, but played in Spain this past season.)
Per 36 Numbers: 20.4 PTS, 9.7 REB, 1.5 AST, 1.5 BLK, 1.3 STL, 2.7 TOV
Percentages: 60.5 TS%, 31.1 3PT%, 80.3 FT%, 50.9 FG%
Simonovic has shown flashes of many of the qualities one wants in a modern day big. While not being elite at any one of them, he’s a good screen setter and lob finisher, a non-zero as a creator, a serviceable spot-up shooter, a decent rim protector, and capable of bringing the ball up in the open court. Defensively, he doesn’t entirely know what he’s doing yet, as he can get caught in no man’s land on the pick and roll, and those high turnover numbers on offense are concerning. But overall, Simonovic is a worthwhile project that has a lot of upside for a late second-round pick.
Really impressive speed and ball handling from Marko Simonovic in the open court pic.twitter.com/ToFWtPyznq— Daniel Olinger (@dan_olinger) June 14, 2020
Honorable Mentions Who Did Not Make my Top 55:
- Udoka Azubuike, Isaiah Joe, Kaleb Wesson, Reggie Perry, Abdoulaye N’Doye, Amar Sylla, Trendon Watford, Yves Pons, Tres Tinkle, Lamar Stevens, Aaron Henry, Lamine Diane
That’s it for my Big Board 2.0, and I promise I’ll update it at least one more time before the NBA Draft on October 15. Feel free to ask me about any of my rankings down below, or hit me up on Twitter @dan_olinger, where I’m always posting a ton of NBA and draft-related content.