The Step Back Final 2020 NBA Draft Big Board: Who comes out on top?
The 2020 NBA Draft is finally upon us, and it’s time to make our final calls on one of NBA history’s most memorable draft classes.
And now, the end is near. And so we finally face the final curtain.
The 2020 NBA Draft class will always be one of the most memorable in NBA Draft history. The class’s overall perception of weakness, combined with a pandemic throwing the entire process into chaos, created 18 months of mystery and uncertainty even beyond the normal levels that surround most drafts. Spending the extra time with the class’s film wasn’t that helpful, as the significant weaknesses at the top of the class stayed glaring, and few players emerged as high risers with extra film time. The draft was supposed to be nearly six months ago, but it really doesn’t feel like we know much more now than we did on March 11, when the NBA suspended their season due to coronavirus.
The draft’s selection order isn’t even a known quantity in the way it usually is. The 2020 NBA Draft figures to follow the script of the 2013 Draft, when there was no clear number one, several players were in the mix, and there was still a shock at the top. No one is certain what the Minnesota Timberwolves will do with the top overall pick, and their decision is likely to butterfly effect down the board, making a projection of even the rest of the top 5 incredibly challenging. And like 2013, it may not even matter who goes at the top, because the class’s star power vacuum and the wealth of upperclassmen talent late may make the best players in the class picks outside the lottery. There’s no Luka Doncic in this draft class, but there is a good shot there’s a Rudy Gobert or a CJ McCollum lurking later on that might shock everyone by becoming an All-Star. Heck, there’s even a complete unknown European prospect who plays in the Greek second division and has great guard skills at power forward size!
Ranking a big board has been a chore throughout this draft process, due to the difficulty of projection for this crop of raw and flawed prospects, and the fact that the draft’s date has been in flux for about eight months. This exercise feels very futile — this board is likely to be pretty wrong two years from now, because of how highly context depending outcomes will likely be with a shortened season and quick turnaround out of the gate for the beginning of these players’ careers. But given what we know, it’s time to try our best to project the outcomes for the 2020 NBA Draft class.
Who is the best prospect in the 2020 NBA Draft class?
There were few players as dominant as Okongwu this year. His quick leaping and length make him a forceful rim-protector while his lower-body strength and coordination are important traits as a roll man. His ambidextrous finishing touch allows him to be a go-to interior scorer as well. He’ll have to continue improving his tunnel vision, just as he did throughout the season, and upper body strength, but Okongwu was nothing short of stellar this year and is a very good prospect. If the outside shooting comes along, you’re looking at a versatile and valuable big man who can be molded to shore up weaknesses on both ends. That he might go as low as ninth in this draft is an indictment of the draft scouting complex at large.
Ball is far and away the best facilitator in this class, inventing passes nobody else can imagine and doing so with either hand. At 6-foot-7 with impressive body flexibility/contortion, he creatively gets to spots on the court where he can leverage his playmaking talent to prop up offenses. The jumper remains a work in progress but he’s a willing shooter — which should stress defenses alone — and has made notable strides over the past few years and further strength gains will help improve his balance, a key trait for him. His defense, particularly on the ball, is worrisome, but the off-ball instincts he’s shown are encouraging and physical development should help as well. Simply put, there’s nobody else in the class who matches or approaches his blend of size, intelligence and playmaking.
Hayes probably has the most avenues towards becoming a high-level rotation player in the class. He is not a perfect prospect by any means, but his base package — length plus passing creativity plus touch plus defensive awareness — is a combination that suggests a high probability of growth in some of his weaker areas. He has a good foundation as a shooter, and his touch should allow him to become a useful off-ball shooter eventually. His playmaking awareness and technique — the best in the class — will open up driving lanes for him despite minimal burst. And he should be a defensive plus off-ball eventually once his technique is ironed out. While he’s probably the least likely All-Star-level scorer in the top tier, he’s probably the most likely elite role player, and that confidence means a lot in this class.
Edwards struggled with efficiency as a college scorer. He had his moments of outright brilliance as a shot-maker, finishing at a healthy 19.1 points per game for the season. But he never put things together as a creator, and his defensive effort was never consistent. There’s still plenty of reason to be optimistic about Edwards’ translation to the NBA, as he’s the only player in the class who seems to project comfortably as a high-level NBA scorer. But like R.J. Barrett, the question of whether he’s the right type of scorer that you can build a good team around, or if he’s more of a Zach LaVine type, creates a question of how valuable his talent actually will be for a team picking number one.
This is where the upside in the 2020 NBA Draft lies. This tier of players isn’t all that impressive in their current iterations, nor will the players have much success early on. There’s going to need to be development time before this crop begins to reach their ceiling. But if allowed, it’s likely that this group features several key players on good teams in the future. Avdija, Vassell, and Okoro are all very talented wings, Haliburton has a shot to be a quality secondary playmaker, and Williams might be the best upside star shot in the entire draft class. While Tier 1 may not be inspiring, and these aren’t your typical Tier 2 talents, there are some good opportunities to add rotation pieces for teams throughout the top 10.
Avdija is one of the smarter decision-makers in the class, showing the ability to make good reads with the ball and cut off drives with excellent timing. He’s also displayed a very strong scoring package in Israeli League play and youth international competitions, indicating a potential for growth based on his handle and finishing package. Avdija may never hit a Luka Doncic-type ceiling, but he looks like a good bet to be a useful role player on a good team.
Vassell is an elite team defender who debuted some off-the-dribble shot-making this year and is one of the better movement shooters in the class. He lacks the handle and strength to be much of an NBA on-ball creator but absolutely deserves consideration this high because of how complete his defensive profile is.
Okoro doesn’t have much offensive upside outside of his handle, which is atypical of a player that you’d normally put in a top tier. If you’re drafting at the top of the NBA Draft, there is an inherent expectation that you want offensive talent first, and players who project as defense-first or defense-only usually come later on. But this draft class is low on sure offensive value, and Okoro isn’t your typical defense-only prospect. Perhaps the smartest perimeter defender in the draft class, with incredible 1-through-5 versatility thanks to upper-tier strength and agility, Okoro looks like a near sure bet to raise the floor of a team’s defense, and his finishing ability and decision-making may allow him to assume a Draymond Green-style role on a good team on offense. Okoro may not ever become a viable offensive player, but he is the best defensive prospect in the class outside of Okongwu and Vassell, and that value, even on a rebuilding team, is good enough to not drop him beyond here.
Haliburton was among the nation’s top players this year before his season was cut short due to a wrist injury. He’s one of the best passers in this class, capable of making passes from a variety of angles, maintaining high-level scoring efficiency in a new on-ball role and he is a great defensive playmaker with incredible IQ. The issue is much of his offensive upside is shakily translatable to the NBA. Haliburton lacks explosiveness and strength as a driver and his awkward shooting mechanics leave me doubtful he’s much of a pull-up shooter at the next level. But despite these issues, he’s a darn good basketball player who should provide value as a spot-up shooter, off-ball defender and secondary playmaker.
Williams is an upside play thanks to defense that looks ready to contribute at an NBA level and offensive upside as a shooter. Williams didn’t play starter minutes for Florida State, but he makes the most of his time, running the floor well and showing very solid rim protection ability. He also has shown flashes of ball-handling and shooting potential, hitting 83.8 percent from the free-throw line and taking some transition opportunities to go coast to coast. He has to show that he can continue to do these things more consistently, but right now he looks like a great long-term project for a team to bet on.
Tier 3 combines some players who look to be late-first round steals (Riller, Bane) with players who may go in the top five and disappoint (Wiseman, Toppin). This is the group of players that figures to at least be low-end starters or high-level bench players at the NBA level, with minimal upside to become much more. The defining drop-off point for this tier to the next is that this group figures to all have a high likelihood of making a second contract in the NBA, which is not a given with Tier 4.
Riller has skyrocketed up boards during COVID, ours included. More time to watch his film has allowed us to fully appreciate the scoring diversity he brings to the table, and he has enough counters in his bag as a ball-handler and passer to offset subpar athleticism. He should have a case as a starter-level player eventually, and a team is likely to be able to get him cheaply late in the first round.
Only turning 19 in early April, and boasting an intriguing collection of skills and athletic tools, Lewis is a lottery talent. He’s blazing quick with live dribble passing and pull-up shooting capabilities, but his 165-pound frame and poor vertical pop hinder his finishing. Defensively, he displays impressive point-of-attack defense and has the quickness to frequent passing lanes off the ball as well. Lewis is still maturing as a lead ball-handler and decision-maker, you saw this during his sophomore year at Alabama. Nevertheless, there’s a lot to be encouraged about from this mid-lottery prospect.
The top-ranked recruit of 2019, Wiseman has great size (7-foot-1) and length (7-foot-6 wingspan), which makes him a valuable roll threat in ball-screen actions. Defensively, those same tools help him as a rim-protector but poor discipline and a slow load-up time leave us skeptical of his upside on that end. Pair that with poor touch, passing feel and decision-making, and you’re left with a big man whose best attributes are physical rather than skill-based. While that likely means that he’s going to stick around, it’s hard to project more than a spot role with confidence.
Maxey is another heralded freshman guard whose shooting numbers underwhelmed this year. However, the on-ball defense, standstill quickness and strength continue to be clear pluses. Maxey’s history of shooting is far too good for him to struggle long-term beyond the arc, though the issue seems to stem from inconsistent arc and lower-body involvement, often leaving his attempts short. There’s enough self-creation and shooting upside to remain intrigued but the ball-handling — he has a high and somewhat loose handle — poor passing vision and lack of defensive playmaking are somewhat troublesome.
Long thought of as a competent collegiate defender, Bane has really put on the jets as an offensive playmaker this year, creating the idea that he has enough facilitating juice to settle in as a 3-and-D wing with shooting versatility (off-screens, spot-ups, pull-ups). He’s a Malcolm Brogdon type, capable of playing multiple positions and roles on both ends of the floor, even if he’s probably at a lower skill level. That’s a valuable player even if he’s on the older end of the spectrum and lacks length/burst.
Toppin plays like a stronger Kyle Kuzma, and that is probably his NBA role, as well. A similarly crafty finisher with shooting mechanics that hint at being more than his college percentages suggest, Toppin was tailor-made to be a college scorer. He also probably has an NBA role as a guy who just consistently finds himself open and can prop up bench units and defensive-oriented units with his scoring in the right spot. The problem is that those opportunities do not always come along. For every Kyle Kuzma who has an impact in that type of role, there’s a Jarell Martin or Jarnell Stokes that can’t crack consistent rotations despite the ability to put up good scoring numbers. The question is whether Toppin can land in a spot that will allow him to make optimal use of his scoring talents by covering for the defensive deficiencies that he takes off the table. So while he has more talent than a few guys ahead of him, his role has to be much more tailored to him to work.
There are two trains of thought on Anthony — either you buy his minimal impact on North Carolina’s horrid season last year, and are concerned about his finishing, shot selection, and leadership, or you lean more towards his very strong AAU film, forgive his play at UNC as a result of injury and a bad situation, and believe in his team defense and shot-making off the dribble. It’s hard to really tell which Anthony we’ll get at the next level, but it is probably safe to assume the finishing is going to be a problem for a while — and that he isn’t a good enough passer to become a talented scorer at the NBA level if he can’t hit at the rim. Anthony still has starter-level potential, but he’s going to need a good situation to be successful at the next level.
Green has impressed with his strong frame, quick hips, instincts and lateral mobility defensively, coalescing as a formidable on-ball stopper. He struggles to score in the halfcourt but has hinted at some on-the-move passing when attacking from the wing. Pair that with his display of the requisite touch on floaters and from the line to inspire hope as a shooter, and you’re left with a 3-and-D forward whose shooting ceiling is vital to his offense being serviceable.
This tier is built on a backbone of players who could be strong deep rotation players on good teams. It’s easy to see many of these players being starter-caliber players on bad teams, or eighth or ninth men on playoff teams. Most are too limited to be effective in extended minutes but would be solid situational options with the appropriate talent around them.
Hampton has arguably the quickest first step in this class, and eats up space with elongated strides as a slasher. He also refined his decision-making during NBL play, exhibiting improved passing vision and decision-making. His shooting development remains key to monitor and is necessary for him moving forward, as it will augment his driving prowess and help make him a highly enticing scorer. Defensively, Hampton’s weak frame, poor off-ball positioning and inefficient screen navigation are significant issues, rendering him a top-20 guy, as opposed to in the lottery, despite his offensive allure and athletic package.
One of the best players in the country the past two seasons, Tillman is a brilliantly intelligent big man. He’s a quick, anticipatory short-roll passer, standout post defender/rim protector and the best screen-setter in the class. The outside shot is his swing skill and he’ll need some mechanical tweaks (less pronounced wrist flexion) to be a viable threat from deep. But even with that flaw, as well as poor vertical explosion, Tillman’s passing, defense and IQ should make him a quality role player of years to come.
After a red-hot start to the season, Mannion cooled off and struggled to regain steam for any long stretch. Nonetheless, he projects as a complementary shooter/handler, and his passing repertoire and creativity are among the best in this class. Mannion’s lack of burst is an issue for his viability as a lead guard and it also hurts his on-ball defense. Yet he’s displayed high-level off-ball awareness defensively and regularly cuts off drives with his anticipatory skills. There’s a clear avenue to Mannion being a very good NBA player as an off-ball guard — thanks to his smarts and prompt decision-making — even if his athletic profile is concerning, though I’d like to see him display more confidence in the pull-up shooting against length or in traffic.
Flynn helped guide San Diego State back to national prominence this season as a devastating pick-and-roll maestro with distributing, deceptive handles and deep pull-up shooting range. He’s a smart and strong guard defender off the ball, even if undersized at 6-foot-1, and has *just* enough burst to provide some creation value. Flynn is worth the plunge late in the first round and should enjoy a fortuitous NBA career as a rotational guard who can direct an offense in a pinch.
Bey is a bouncy, lively weak-side rim protector and impressive interior finisher. He didn’t take many 3s at Colorado but has projectible mechanics and flashed off-movement looks on occasion this past season. Concerns stem from his lack of strength for a big — he’s pushed around inside far too much — and poor feel as a passer, often forcing shots inside instead of simple kick-outs. If he surfaces as a credible deep threat, Bey should have value as a 4-man or small-ball center who can score inside or pop out for 3s while helping anchor the backline defensively.
Achiuwa’s offensive impact is minimal, but he could legitimately play the 5 at a small forward size, giving him intriguing versatility. He’s best as a play finisher in transition on offense, and whatever upside he has on offense is going to largely depend on how well his handle improves in his first few years in the league. Defensively, however, he could provide some interesting versatility as a very strong rebounder who cuts off drives and contains well on the perimeter. Discipline is his main concern on both ends, but there’s a path to him as a high-end role player if he can play more under control.
Woodard’s size and agility make him an intriguing option at the 3 off the bench. He’s willing to do the dirty work, attacking the offensive glass with good technique and showing good rotation ability on defense, and his shooting is a probable plus at the next level. That he’s an effective rim protector is one of the more interesting swing skills in this tier.
Pokushevski has asserted himself as a high-riser on the international scene this season with Olympiacos’s junior team. The 7-foot big man has good rim-protection instincts and is an impressive vertical athlete, and his jumper off the catch looks pretty promising. He doesn’t look like a functional athlete, so it remains to be seen how well his skills would translate, but his fluid movement and diverse skill set should allow him to grow if given the chance. He’s much higher on most boards, and is likely to go higher than this slot in the actual draft — but it’s unknown how much of a chance he’ll get to grow into his body, a necessity for his more functional skills to translate.
Nesmith brings one skill to the table — off-movement shooting — but he’s very good at it, and has a nice frame to unleash that skillset from. He’s probably a one-dimensional shooter, but he’s the best shooter in the class, so he’s worth a first-round value, especially if you buy his defensive potential. The success of Duncan Robinson probably bodes well for Nesmith’s draft stock, even though he’s nowhere near as functional as Robinson as a shooter off screens.
A quality shooting prospect who has also shown craft off the dribble, Bolmaro looks like a nice long-term play as an offense-focused wing. The Argentinian has shown consistency as a scorer in the LEB Gold for Barcelona’s junior team and has started to earn ACB minutes as the season has gone on. He needs to add strength to truly have an NBA future, but he’s a pretty good draft and stash option in the second round.
Tier 5 features players who are one or two major limitations away from being decent NBA players. This class features many players who have physical limitations that may prevent them from being as useful in the pros as they were in college — from height, to lateral quickness, to agility. Particularly, this area of the point guard crop comes with asterisks regarding size, and it will be interesting to see how much that truly matters for players like Cassius Winston and Devon Dotson at the next level. Expect one or two players from this tier to become top-10 or top-15 players in the class just based on their ability to overcome their limitations.
Bey is one of the more atypical skill sets in the class, and that should help him find a way to translate to the next level. A moderate-volume 3-point shooter at 45.1 percent on 5.6 attempts per game, Bey also doubles as a bruising post mismatch for guards, able to post even college wings reliably and steamroll his way to the rim. Defensively he’s a useful stonewall in the post up to the 4, and has his flashes of decent perimeter defense. There’s nothing he does at a truly elite level, but he’s 6-foot-8 and a good inside/out mismatch, and that can earn you a spot in today’s NBA easily.
A string of injuries have mellowed Tillie’s NBA allure but he remains a great playmaking big man who’s a career 44 percent 3-point shooter with a feathery touch. Tillie moves well on the perimeter for his size and can function as a pick-and-pop or off-movement shooter. Underwhelming strength and length, along with the injuries, are all reasons for pause but he’s a very good player and worth the gamble at this stage if his medical record checks out.
Dotson’s quickness and decision-making defensively are good skills, but at 6-foot-2, it’s somewhat challenging to see him finding a role in the NBA while not being a good shooter. At just 30.9 percent from 3 this year, Dotson showed more comfort taking those outside shots, but they aren’t falling. And that’s a big limiting factor for a guy his size, no matter how much utility he has as a passer and defender at the point of attack.
One of the best shooters in the draft, Joe also showed great growth as an on-ball scorer in his second season at Arkansas. In addition to being a great off-movement shooter with good balance and a consistent release, Joe also shows good craft with the ball off the dribble and is a burgeoning pick-and-roll passer. He needs significant physical development, though, because as it stands now he’s almost exclusively a hidden off-ball defender at the NBA level due to his thin frame.
A freshman guard who burst onto the draft radar after an impressive year at Stanford, Terry is a versatile shooter with secondary playmaking chops and some team defense flashes, despite inconsistencies there. However, he lacks noteworthy burst, a dynamic handle and stands at 6-foot-2, 160 pounds. Because he doesn’t project to be a lead guard, he’ll slot in off the ball and that requires a wing initiator in tow, making his NBA fit a bit more precarious.
McDaniels never lived up to his top-10 billing coming out of high school, as he was one of the worst rim finishers in the draft class last year, and his shot selection never progressed to show awareness of his limitations at the college level. He did start to show flashes of 3-and-D potential as the year progressed, but it’s questionable whether he’s going to buy in to being a role player given how he carried himself at Washington.
Much like his brother Tyus, Tre Jones has a lot of interesting skills and is fairly mistake-averse, which makes him a good bet to become a quality NBA backup. However, his ceiling is also limited by struggles finishing inside and mediocre athleticism which could make giving him any sort of real creation load a tough sell.
On paper, Smith is a great fit for the modern NBA — a solid shooter with good touch inside who doubles as one of the class’s better shot blockers on the interior. However, his actual NBA outcome is likely to be limited by his physical frame, as his skinny legs and high center of gravity make it unlikely he adds the requisite strength to bang with big men at the NBA level.
Reed struggled with consistency at DePaul, and his hot start and cool-down during conference play mirrored his team’s implosion, which has caused him to fall down the draft board. However, he still has a role as an energy big off the bench, and his herky-jerky driving style could give him a bigger role as a scorer than you’d expect for a player of his archetype.
Winston would be a sure first-rounder if he was three inches taller. At 6-foot-1, it’s difficult to project him having success as a true NBA off-movement shooter, because NBA length is going to have an easier time closing and recovering to him thanks to his short stature and lack of lateral burst. But if anyone could make it work, it’ll be Winston, who combines that elite shooting skill set with veteran passing instincts and quality defense given his size.
Maledon is a decent passer, good pick-and-roll ball-handler, and long guard with a 6-foot-8 wingspan. He has the tools, certainly, to be a useful one at the NBA level. However, he has never really put together the skill set to function as a lead guard, and his decision-making, in particular, does not look ready for the NBA level. He may just end up being a spot backup or very talented Euroleague player.
Ramsey is a bouncy athlete who shot 42.6 percent beyond the arc. He displays instinctual off-ball relocation tricks and is improving as a playmaker throughout the season. However, he lacks a downhill burst, is a complete project as a defender, and his shot selection is problematic. He has NBA talent but may not have an NBA mindset.
Hinton is a hyper-energetic team defender who projects to knock down spot-up 3s at a viable clip. He’s a tenacious rebounder, regularly tracking the flight path off the rim and flying in to track down boards. Outside of catch-and-shoot jumpers, though, he doesn’t own much translatable offensive utility. The team defense and 3s make it easy to slot him in to a background role on most rosters. But a lack of creation equity and a 6-foot-4 stature — limiting his on-ball defensive versatility — cap his ceiling as an NBA player.
Powell is a dynamite pull-up shooter who can hit off-movement jumpers and has great balance and deceleration skills. His passing is inconsistent, though he took steps forward this past season, but the defense can often be brutal. Still, he has the potential to be a legitimate off-ball dynamo and works well to create looks for himself as a secondary cog.
The final tier is your typical last tier of the draft — players who probably won’t be long term factors at the NBA level and may be G-League bound. This year’s crop is on the larger end and is probably on the lower end in terms of how many players will actually stick in the NBA beyond two years.
Nnaji looks the part of a switch-able big who’s one of the better floor-spacing centers in the class. He has questionable awareness as a defender and passer and is sometimes pushed around on the interior. But he’s relentless on the glass, should be able to switch a decent amount and stretch the floor offensively. That’s worthy of a gamble in the second round, given his bankable and valuable skills.
Quickley is a dead-eye shooter who converted 42.3 percent of his long balls this past year (145 attempts) and hit 92.3 percent of his free throws. The 6-foot-2 guard is experienced working off screens and on spot-ups, but lacks ancillary skills on both ends, limiting his offensive ceiling.
One of the better perimeter defenders in this class, Alexander quickly covers space laterally and glides over screens quite effectively. He’s a heady cutter and good shooter (37.2 percent from deep in three seasons) with some passing flashes, too. But Alexander allows dribble penetration more than you’d expect given his lateral quickness and technique and has limited positional versatility at 6-foot-4. He’s a 3-and-D guard with limited offensive impact who would greatly benefit from being a few inches taller.
Jones boasts, arguably, the best shot-making repertoire in this class, hitting an array of step-back jumpers and deep pull-up 3s, and creating space with spin moves and had some of the best finishing craft in the country. The issue, however, is he has almost zero burst or vertical explosion. He is quite strong for a guard, but not to an outlier degree, and these troublesome athletic traits likely prohibit him from a significant on-ball role in the NBA. He’s likely to be a solid bench guard at best.
Perry is a talented face-up big man with passing skills who should develop a credible outside jumper early into his NBA tenure. But he’s a very poor defender, constantly missing rotations and failing to protect the rim, and has stiff hips, which hinders his perimeter mobility. Combine those issues with his poor offensive decision-making and Perry is more flair than translatable ability at this point.
Mays is one of the best players in the class at leveraging a good handle into creating shots for himself, and he had a very efficient season as a scorer. But he’s struggled to create for others consistently and doesn’t fit the true point guard mold, which may cause him to struggle to find a fit in the NBA.
Madar is the most interesting of the international draft-and-stash options this year, as one of the younger players in the class. He’s an exceptional playmaker who has a good bag of passing skills, and he’s shown good promise as a driver in the halfcourt. Madar could become a Goran Dragic type that comes over after one or two more years of development internationally and becomes one of the more productive players in the draft class.
A fantastic athlete, especially as a leaper, Stanley figures to be a dunk contest staple and have a high margin for error as a defensive player. He is probably just Jeremy Evans or a variant of Derrick Jones Jr., but those guys do stick in the league more so than some of the other player types available in this range.
A poor man’s version of Mfiondu Kabengele of the Los Angeles Clippers. Oturu was a black hole on offense at Minnesota, but he was an efficient black hole and figures to be a useful NBA interior scorer. The issue comes on the defensive end, where he might be the worst big in the class at fundamentals, and that’s saying a lot in a draft with Vernon Carey and James Wiseman in it.
Hughes is great at attacking the rim and getting to the line, and he offers promise as a shooter as well. That bodes well for his transition into an NBA 3-and-D role. The Syracuse defense concerns still exist, though, and that may be his primary limiting factor.
A valuable post passer, pick-and-pop shooter and low-post defender, Wesson could carve out a role as a big man off the bench who helps space the floor. A lack of vertical pop and mobility limit his interior defense and post scoring, though, so the shooting needs to translate for him to matter.
A tall point guard with some impressive shot-making ability, Queen needs a lot of development as an off-ball shooter and playmaker. But he’s one of the better bets for late-blooming due to his frame.
The Duke big man is a traditional low-post center with interior scoring skills, some face-up ability and deft touch but is tough to believe in as anything more than a bench spark because of questionable passing feel and shooting potential. Defensively, his slow load-up time as a leaper concerns me with regards to his rim-protecting upside, while his reaction time and ball-screen coverage are also underwhelming.
Bonus points for the nickname “Cocaine,” which is apt because Diane plays like a man possessed at times. He has athletic talents and the ability to create his own shot, but needs significant refinement to even try to replicate his offensive load at the NBA level.
Nwora is a solid shooter, and he has established a good track record of transition scoring as well. But in the halfcourt, he’s extremely limited on both ends, and that could make him a tough sell to stay on the floor, especially if he’s picked in the first round as is projected at some outlets.
Eboua’s size and athleticism are enough to keep him on boards as a draft-and-stash option because he’s raw enough that any skill development is enough to bring him over as a bench forward.
One of the quickest guards in the class, Lee is an upside play, because his lack of concrete skills leaves him without a true position, and he never was able to translate his athletic talents into much team success.
Another player who can potentially provide some value as a bench scorer as a big man. Diakite has a very well established face-up game, and his handle is one of the best among the big men in the class. He doesn’t get to show the full extent of his skills regularly for Virginia, but there’s some potential that he can become a useful post scorer at the next level. However, he’s not really a good enough defender or passer to really ever have that large of a role.
Merrill is one of the oldest players in the class at age 24, but his shooting versatility and understanding of the game might give him a few years of contribution off the bench for someone in the NBA.