Lessons Learned

Shamorie Ponds
Shamorie Ponds, one of the better players who went undrafted in June, will begin his pro career playing for the Houston Rockets in the NBA Summer League. (Photo courtesy of St. John’s Athletics)

The NBA Summer League kicks off today, and many of the rookies who will be participating are discussed in this article. Foremost, however, I examine the lessons learned from June’s wacky draft by breaking the players into three groups: 1) those who were valued more than expected, 2) those who were drafted but fell further than expected, and 3) the best players who went undrafted. The final ranking on our draft board has been included with each player, and links to more in-depth information on the player have also been included where possible.


Valued More than Expected

Lessons Learned:  Looking at the players in this group, which doesn’t even include Tyler Herro, who was taken early at No. 13, it is obvious that NBA teams valued shooters, and they were not overly concerned if those players were great at creating shots or shooting off the bounce. What was clearly deemed unimportant was age, as most of these players are 22 or older.

Cameron Johnson (#20) – The Tar Heel senior was a surprise selection at No. 11 by the Phoenix Suns, who didn’t seem to mind that Johnson is already 23 years old and has a history of injury troubles. Take away those age and health concerns, and he was deserving of a lottery selection. Arguably the best shooter in this draft, Johnson ranked seventh in the nation this season with a three-point percentage of 45.7 percent, and ranked at the 97th percentile for points per possession on catch-and-shoot jumpers. Overall, he averaged 1.17 points per possession (98th percentile), had an assist-turnover ratio of 1.59, and ranked at the 89th percentile defensively for points allowed per possession. Additionally, his overall metrics were outstanding, including a plus-minus of 13.0 (ninth in Division I).

Chuma Okeke (#34) – A multi-dimensional threat, Okeke was steadily climbing up draft boards for most of this past season. At one point, we considered him to be a late first-round pick. However, during Auburn’s run to the Final Four, the sophomore suffered a season-ending ACL injury in the Sweet-Sixteen matchup vs. North Carolina on March 29. The injury will delay the start of his professional career, and was thought to have surely knocked him out of first-round consideration. However, undeterred, the Magic took him at pick No. 16, even though they have a logjam at the power forward position.

Featuring an imposing combination of size, strength and athleticism, Okeke is a versatile all-around performer. He can score inside and out, and has the potential to be a very effective stretch four. He also makes big contributions in terms of rebounds, steals, and blocks. However, Okeke is not the most fluid or agile player, and there are concerns about his ability to create shots and defend on the perimeter. Add in the fact that he probably won’t be making any significant contributions until 2020 due to the injury, you have to wonder what the Magic were thinking.

Ty Jerome (#36) – We view Jerome as a player who significantly benefited from playing in Virginia’s highly structured system, and have doubts if he has the speed and length to succeed in the NBA. He had one of the slowest 3-quarter court sprint times (3.40) at the NBA Combine, and his wingspan (6-foot-4) measured less than his height. Despite those concerns, he landed at pick No. 24 with the Suns, who were obviously enamored by his passing and shooting skills, plus his overall astute play. The Virginia junior ranked ninth in DI this season with an assist-turnover ratio of 3.31, and ranked at the 98th percentile with an average of 1.42 points-plus-assists per possession. He also made 39.9 percent of his 3-point attempts, and ranked at the 97th percentile on catch-and-shoot jumpers.

Dylan Windler (#38) – At pick No. 26, the Cleveland Cavaliers selected Windler, who is similar to Cameron Johnson in many ways. Both are great shooters, with good size, adequate length, and above-average athleticism. The Belmont senior was one of the top players in the country this season from deep (42.9 percent). He averaged 1.18 points per possession (98th percentile), and ranked at the 93rd percentile on catch-and shoot jumpers. Windler was also an excellent rebounder (10.8 per game this season), and rated well as a defender (78th percentile). To some degree, however, his stats have to be taken with a grain of salt. Belmont’s schedule was relatively weak, and against better competition, Windler struggled, especially as a shooter. He is not adept at creating his own shots, which could significantly hinder his versatility at the next level.

Jordan Poole (#50) – Golden State taking Poole in the first round at No. 28 was a bit of a shock. The Michigan product is an average athlete, who is not overly dynamic off the bounce, and produces few rebounds, steals, and blocks. Poole does have a sweet jump shot, and is an effective passer, but he was not exceptional doing either this season. As a shooter, he made 36.9 percent of his 3-point attempts, and averaged 1.01 points per possession (69th percentile) on his half-court jump shots. As a passer, he averaged 2.2 assists per game, with an assist-turnover ratio of 1.40. Statistically, he stood out was a defender, allowing just 0.70 points per possession (91st percentile), but in my opinion, that was largely due to Michigan’s exceptional team defense, which ranked at the 99th percentile nationally.

Jaylen Hands (#64) – We were much higher on Hands than most, and it was not a surprise to see him land with the Nets at pick 56. The UCLA product is a tremendous athlete, especially in terms of speed, vertical explosiveness and body control, and he has adequate size (6-foot-3 and 180 pounds, with 6-foot-6 wingspan). Though his handle could be tighter, he is a whirling dervish with the ball in his hands, spinning, changing direction and stopping/starting at high rates of speed, and he excels at making tough shots off the bounce. This season, the sophomore averaged 14.2 points and 6.1 assists per game, with shooting splits of .413/.373/.780. He also averaged 1.00 points per possession on jumpers off the dribble (85th percentile).

If Hands wants to stick around in the NBA, he will need to improve his efficiency, make better decisions, and increase his effort as a defender. He can play out of control at times, taking too many ill-advised shots and committing too many turnovers. This season, he averaged just 0.87 points per possession (47th percentile), with a turnover rate of 18.7 percent. Close to half (44 percent) of his half-court shots this season were jumpers off the bounce, which is a very high percentage. At the same time, he struggled mightily around the basket, making just 45.9 percent of his shots. On the other end of the court, he struggled as well, allowing 0.88 points per possession (45th percentile).

Terance Mann (#66) – A last-minute scratch from our final mock draft, Mann was selected by the Clippers at pick No. 48.  He is a solid athlete and defender, who greatly improved his draft stock as a senior by knocking down threes with consistency (39 percent). The Florida State product is also an efficient, team-oriented player, who is willing to do the dirty work without fanfare.

Marcos “Didi” Louzada Silva (#70) – It’s only a guess, but it seems that Didi may have benefited from a willingness to continue to play overseas for at least a year, something that some international players have been reluctant to do recently. As a draft-and-stash, the 19-year-old Brazilian is a low-risk, no-cost option. Otherwise, it is difficult to justify the Pelicans selecting him at pick No. 35.  He’s not a particularly big wing (6-foot-5, with a 6-foot-7 wingspan), nor was he overly impressive this season in the Brazilian NBB, a professional league that is arguably not much better in terms of quality of competition than the top conferences in the NCAA. Didi was probably the most athletic draft-and-stash candidate, and he has a nice shooting stroke. He had solid shooting splits this season (.454/.365/.750), and averaged 20.5 points per 40 minutes (14th in the NBB). On the other hand, the rest of his stats were average at best, including an assist-turnover ratio of 0.84 and an average of 1.4 combined steals and blocks per 40 minutes.

Kyle Guy (#71) – Being one of the best pure shooters in the draft, Guy was well worth the risk for the Kings at pick No. 55, and in retrospect, we probably should have had him ranked a little higher. As a junior this season, he led the ACC in three-point field goals (120), finished second in the conference with a three-point percentage of 42.5, and also finished in the top 10 for free-throw percentage (83.3), effective field-goal percentage (58.5), win shares (6.9), and plus-minus (10.1). Also, for his clutch performances down the stretch, Guy was named the MVP/MOP of both the ACC Tournament and the NCAA Tournament.

This past season, Guy averaged 1.09 points per possession (94th percentile), with 79.2 percent of his half-court shots coming from jumpers. The Virginia product shoots with beautiful form. He gets good lift off the floor, squares his hips to the basket, and quickly releases the ball, high, all in one motion, with no wasted effort. He has no problem finding ways to get his shots, despite not being the most explosive athlete. He is a catch-and-shoot marksman, excelling at moving without the ball and knocking down deep shots on the move. On spot-ups, he catches the ball ready to shoot, making it extremely difficult for defenders who sag off him to recover in time. In order to defend against his quick release, his defender cannot afford to help off the ball. Guy can also create space for his jumpers with step-back, fade-away, and spin moves.

Guy can make plays as a driver and a passer, and he is capable of playing some at the point. Though he is not the quickest or fastest player, he has a good handle and great hesitation moves, and he is capable of going to the rim or scoring with floaters. This past season, he made 54.5 percent of his half-court shots around the basket. He is also a very alert passer, who takes advantage of defenders who overplay him, and makes some nifty no-look and/or one-hand passes on the move. This past season, he had an assist-turnover ratio of 1.47 and ranked at the 71st percentile for points per possession as a pick-and-roll handler (including passes).

The biggest concerns are Guy’s size (6-foot-2 and 168 pounds, with a 6-foot-5 wingspan), and his ability to defend at the next level. He contributes very little in terms of steals, blocks, and rebounds, and this past season, he allowed 0.82 points per possession (63rd percentile) while playing for the ninth most efficient defensive team in Division I. Given his size, Guy could seemingly match up with only opposing point guards on the defensive end, and it remains to be seen if he has the athleticism to do so.

Justin Wright-Foreman (#76) – The Jazz selected the high-scoring Wright-Foreman with pick No. 53. As a senior at Hofstra this season, he ranked second in Division I with 27.1 points per game, and had excellent shooting splits (.511/.425/.864). He also ranked at the 98th percentile as an overall scorer, averaging 1.16 points per possession. He excelled as a scorer via the pick and roll (95th percentile), and was highly effective creating his own shots (87th percentile in isolation) and making jumpers off the dribble (96th percentile). He was also dangerous going into the paint, making 64.1 percent of his shots around the basket on drives. Of course, Hofstra faced only two top-50 teams this season (North Carolina State and Maryland), and had one of the weaker schedules in the country (274th among 353 DI teams, according to Sagarin), so we have to curb our enthusiasm somewhat when discussing Wright-Foreman’s stats.

In addition to the weak schedule, there are a number of other concerns with Wright-Foreman. He is small guard (6 feet tall), who is not really a true point. He spent a lot of time off the ball at Hofstra, and he averaged just 2.9 assists per game this season, with an assist-turnover ratio of only 1.12. He is a good athlete and has a tremendous wingspan (6-foot-8), but he is still is not much of a factor as a rebounder and a defender. Despite playing nearly 38 minutes a night, he averaged barely over one combined steals and blocks per game (1.06), and often lacking aggression and focus, he allowed 0.97 points per possession, which ranked at the 20th percentile.

Cody Martin (#77) – The Nevada senior surged past his twin brother Caleb Martin on our draft board this season due to a better all-around game, superior shot mechanics, and perhaps most importantly, he did not have the same health issues. Both brothers are above-average athletes, and have good size for wings. While Caleb was the Wolf Pack’s main scoring threat, Cody was more of a “glue guy,” a versatile contributor, who did a lot of the dirty work. He finished in the top four of the MWC for plus-minus for two straight seasons.

Cody Martin
Cody Martin (Photo by John Byrne, Nevada Communications)

Martin (Cody) can play anywhere from point guard to small forward. He looks to create for others more than he looks for his own shot. This past season, he ranked at the 98th percentile for points-plus-assists per possession. As a scorer alone, he did most of his damage as a pick-and-roll handler and spot-up player, ranking at the 94th and 90th percentiles, respectively. He is a three-level scorer, who is capable from deep (35.8 percent this season), adept at shooting off the bounce (71st percentile this season), and is highly effective in the paint, making 69.2 percent of his shots around the basket this season.

The 6-foot-6 Martin is also a solid and energetic defender, who was often assigned to the opposing team’s best perimeter scorer. He also proved to be capable of guarding multiple positions, as Nevada’s defensive philosophy was to switch on everything. This season, he limited opponents to 0.82 points per possession (64th percentile). His length (6-foot-10 wingspan) is a huge plus on defense – as a junior, he averaged 3.1 combined steals and blocks per game.

His age and outside shooting were the two main reasons why Martin was not higher on our draft board. He will turn 24 in September, which severely limits his upside, and over his career, he has not been consistent from deep, making just 32.5 percent of his shots. The Charlotte Hornets obviously didn’t have the same concerns, selecting him early in the second round (pick No. 36). Caleb, meanwhile, might be joining the Hornets as well on their Summer League roster.

Justin James (#90) – It wasn’t shocking that James was drafted, but going as early as he did (at pick 40 to the Kings) was a surprise. Playing for a shorthanded Wyoming squad that finished with an 8-24 record, James carried his team this season, averaging career-highs in points (22.1), rebounds (8.5), assists (4.4) and steals (1.5) per game. He also recorded a career-high in turnovers per game (4.2) and his field-goal (40.9) and three-point (29.6) percentages were career lows. He was at his best this season when handling in the pick and roll, ranking at the 70th percentile for points per possession (including passes).

James has great size (6-foot-7) and length (7-foot-1 wingspan) for a wing, and he also has tremendous speed. The 22-year-old’s overall productivity at Wyoming was impressive, though it was not against the best competition. The biggest concerns are that he relies a lot on screens to create his offense, and he has never been a reliable shooter from deep (33.5 percent for his career).

Marial Shayok (#92) – The Sixers taking the Iowa State senior at pick No. 54 was one of many examples of age not playing a huge role in this draft. Shayok, who will turn 24 later this month, transferred from Virginia to play one year for the Cyclones, hoping to showcase his offensive skills. He achieved his goals, finishing second in the Big 12 in scoring with 18.7 points per game on very efficient shooting splits (.496/.386/.878). He also ranked at the 89th percentile for points per possession.

Shayok is a fairly skilled offensive player, but he is not an exceptional athlete; in fact, he is below average in terms of speed. He does have good size (6-foot-5), length (7-foot wingspan), and strength for a wing. While most of his game is nondescript, he does standout as a jump shooter, and Philadelphia is lacking that type of player.

At Iowa State, most of Shayok’s half-court offense came from spotting up, handling in the pick and roll, shooting off screens, and playing in isolation, in that order. Nearly a third of his half-court shots (31.4 percent) were jumpers off the dribble, and he excelled in that area (91st percentile). He is not explosive with the ball in his hands – he’s a bit stiff, and tends to dribble a bit upright. Even so, he can effectively go right or left, and typically can create space with a variety of moves, including in-out dribbles, jab steps, and step-backs. He also shoots with a natural backwards lean that buys him a bit of extra space.

Vanja Marinkovic (#106) – Though he was the last pick in the draft, the Kings selecting Marinkovic was a bit of a head scratcher. Playing for KK Partizan in three different leagues this season (the Adriatic, 7days EuroCup, and the Serbian KLS), he averaged 26.6 minutes, 11.7 points, 2.4 rebounds, and 1.8 assists per game. Not shy about shooting, the 22-year-old had modest shooting splits (.429/.350/.744).

There is no word as to whether the Kings will attempt to add Marinkovic, who is under contract with Partizan for 2019-20, to their roster this season. He has a smooth jump shot, with deep range, but he struggles when shooting off the bounce. The 6-foot-7 Serbian is fairly effective as a scorer when handling in the pick and roll, averaging 0.82 points per possession (58th percentile), and he also displays nice vision as a passer (1.29 assist-turnover ratio). Other than that, however, he doesn’t offer much. He’s a poor rebounder, and at best, an average on-ball defender, who produces few steals and blocks (0.60 combined per game this season).

Dewan Hernandez (#107) – The Raptors selecting Hernandez at pick No. 59 was perhaps an even bigger head scratcher. He is a 6-foot-10, 233-pound center, who has a 7-foot-2 wingspan and fairly good athleticism for a big man. The last time that we saw Hernandez in action was during the 2017-18 season with Miami (FL) as a sophomore, and his surname was Huell. He played 32 games for the Hurricanes, averaging 25.8 minutes, 11.4 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.0 blocks per game. He was a limited, but efficient, player, making 142 of 234 shots within eight feet (60.7 percent), while making only five of 21 shots beyond eight feet (23.8 percent). The 22-year-old didn’t play this past season for Miami due to being suspended for NCAA violations, and he was arrested in 2016 for an incident at another college.

Jarrell Brantley (#172) – The king of the head scratchers was the Utah Jazz taking Brantley at pick No. 50. The College of Charleston product is a muscular, 6-foot-6, 252-pound power forward, with an impressive 7-foot-1 wingspan and average athleticism.

Brantley steadily improved during his four years at Charleston, and this season as senior, he averaged 19.4 points, 8.4 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.4 steals, and 0.9 blocks per game, with efficient shooting splits (.517/.328/.785). Of course, the 23-year-old benefitted from the Cougars’ relatively easy schedule that ranked 227th in the country and included just one game against a top-50 team (LSU).

Despite his impressive stats, it’s difficult to imagine Brantley succeeding in the NBA. For starters, he is an older player who was able to bully people in the Colonial Conference, but those days are over. He is not a particularly fluid or dynamic player with the ball in his hands; in fact, his handle looks very shaky at times, especially when dribbling with his right hand. He made a living scoring in transition at Charleston, but he’ll need to tighten his handle significantly to have any type of success on the break in the NBA. Also, his jump shot is somewhat clunky and includes a low release. He struggles to shoot jumpers off the dribble (27.5 percent over past two seasons), and as a driver, he is effective only going left, the direction that he heavily favors even though he is right handed. Additionally, he tends to drive with blinders on, and is not a great playmaker (career assist-turnover ratio of 0.65).

Defensively, I am not impressed with Brantley’s awareness, reaction time, or ability to change direction. He can hold his own in the post, thanks to his bulk and length, but on the perimeter, he can be a disaster. For two straight seasons, he was below average in terms of points allowed per possession, ranking at the 36th percentile as a junior and at the 12th percentile as a senior.


Not Valued as much as Expected

Lessons Learned:  Everyone in this group underachieved in one way or another, and everyone but Keldon Johnson has obvious red flags.  Also, this group’s youth, upside and length was trumped by the productivity and efficiency of the players who were drafted ahead of them.

Nassir Little (#12) – To nearly everyone’s surprise, Little fell all the way down to the Portland Trailblazers at pick No. 25. The North Carolina freshman was unable to crack the Tar Heels’ starting lineup this season, and he averaged just 18.2 minutes per game. Statistically, there were few bright spots to his season, though he did average 21.6 points per 40 minutes, which was seventh best in the ACC. His combination of athleticism, size, and strength, plus the potential that he flashed in a handful of games, were basically what kept him high on our draft board. At the same time, we were seriously concerned about his maturity and ability to play within a team framework. Obviously, NBA teams had similar concerns.

Based on his play and off-court comments, Little appears to have a narcissistic outlook, which doesn’t bode well for him for being a good teammate or someone who will take ownership for his own development. An example of this happened during a post-draft interview with ESPN’s Maria Taylor, when he stated that he has been “overlooked” his entire life. The fact that he was the fourth highest rated freshman of his class shows that Little’s view of the world and reality differ quite a bit.

Keldon Johnson (#21) – Johnson slipping to the San Antonio Spurs at pick 29 was not a huge surprise. We ranked him lower than most, and projected him to go at No. 22 in our final mock draft. He came to Kentucky with a reputation for being a high-intensity player, and you have likely heard him described that way more than once. On the court this season, however, that intensity was often absent, and his play, while generally solid, was not spectacular. A jack-of-all-trades type of player, it’s difficult to say exactly why Johnson slipped so much. He is a fairly limited offensive player, and on defense, he struggled to stop jump shooters this season, and was horrible in terms of producing blocks and steals.

Bol Bol (#23) – As I noted in the Bol’s scouting report, there was a good chance that he would slip in the draft, though I never imagined he would drop all the way to the Denver Nuggets at No. 44. The Oregon freshman has a number of red flags, including his effort and desire, and he just recently recovered from a serious foot injury that limited him to nine games this season. In those nine games, however, he proved to be a very effective rebounder (9.6 per game) and shot blocker (2.7 per game). He also was a very efficient scorer, ranking at the 97th percentile for points per possession while showing nice touch from deep (52 percent). Assuming that his foot injury is not problematic, the key for Bol will be improving as a defender. As of now, he projects to be a liability on the defensive end due to a lack of agility and physicality.

Kevin Porter (#24) – Rumors of NBA teams having Porter as high as five on their draft board appear to have been greatly exaggerated. The USC freshman slipped all the way to the end of the first round, taken at No. 30 by the Cleveland Cavaliers. Porter has a great combination of size and athleticism for a wing, and shows tremendous promise as a shot creator and a shooter off the bounce. However, much like Nassir Little, Porter didn’t produce on the floor with any consistency this season, and he showed a disturbing lack of maturity and team commitment.

Talen Horton-Tucker
Talen Horton-Tucker (Photo courtesy of Iowa State Athletics)

Talen Horton-Tucker (#25) – Taken at No. 46 by the Lakers, the Iowa State freshman probably made a mistake by not withdrawing from this draft. He was the second youngest prospect in the class, and likely would have benefitted from another year in college. Horton-Tucker displays great skill and all-around potential, and has a tremendous frame that includes a plus-seven-inch wingspan. He was, however, highly inefficient on the offensive end this season, displaying poor shot selection and an inconsistent outside shot. His shooting splits were far less than ideal (.406/.308/.625), and in terms of points per possession, he averaged 0.86, which ranked at the 44th percentile. To complicate matters, he did very poorly in the athletic testing at the NBA Combine, especially in terms of speed. Frankly, he can afford to shed some pounds, which should improve his overall athleticism, and a leaner Horton-Tucker may eventually prove to be one of the biggest steals of this draft.


Best Undrafted Players

Lessons Learned:  Eight of the 12 players in this group have questionable athleticism, and two of the four exceptions, Luguentz Dort and Jalen Lecque, can’t shoot. The remaining two, Jared Harper and Terence Davis, haven’t been overly reliable from deep over their careers, and both struggle at the rim. Youth/upside didn’t help half of the players in this group.

Shamorie Ponds (#35) – The lefty point guard out of St. John’s was surprisingly passed over in the draft. He will be playing for the Houston Rockets in the NBA Summer League, but we are unaware of any financial commitment from the team beyond that.

If the draft were based solely on statistics and metrics, Ponds would have been a first-round pick. This season, he averaged 19.7 points, 5.1 assists, and 2.6 steals (ninth in Division I) per game, had an assist-turnover ratio 2.60, and finished in the top 10 of the Big East in many categories, including player efficiency (25.4), win shares (6.2), and plus-minus (9.1). In terms of points per possession, he ranked above the 80th percentile as an overall scorer (89th), an overall scorer plus assists (94th), an isolation scorer (93rd), and a jump shooter off the bounce (81st). He also ranked at the 83rd percentile as an overall defender.

Ponds likely went undrafted because of his lack of size (6 feet) and pure speed. He also doesn’t have the prettiest jump shot (35.3 percent from deep this season), and he is a score-first point, who didn’t always make the best decisions over his career. Even so, his overall productivity speaks to his talent, and his chances to eventually make an NBA roster are greater than most among those who were not drafted this year. His chances would likely approve with strength training and better conditioning – he surprisingly had the second highest body-fat percentage at the NBA Combine, and could not complete one rep in the bench-press test.

Louis King (#39) – Projected for most of the season as a solid second-round pick, King did not hear his name called on draft night.  He made a curious decision, choosing not to participate at the NBA Combine, and at the time, it appeared that he was very comfortable with his draft status. He obviously wasn’t standing on solid ground, and likely made a mistake by not showcasing his skills in Chicago. On the plus side, the Oregon freshman recently agreed to a two-way contract with the Detroit Pistons.

What we mainly liked about King was his size, length, and shooting ability. This season, he made 38.6 percent of his threes, and shot well off the catch and the bounce, ranking at the 75th and 73rd percentiles, respectively, for points per possession. Other than his jump shooting, King did not stand out, and his overall productivity and efficiency was modest. He shot 43.5 percent from the floor, especially struggling to score around the basket, and had an assist-turnover ratio of just 0.62. However, given that he missed the start of the season due to an injury, and really wasn’t up to speed until January, there is good reason to believe that we didn’t see him at his best this season.

Luguentz Dort
Luguentz Dort (Photo courtesy of Arizona State Athletics)

Luguentz Dort (#40) – Projected by many to be a first-round pick, we had reservations about Dort all season. The Arizona freshman has an NBA-ready body, and has the athleticism and the strength to succeed, but his feel for the game is poor, and his effort is inconsistent. He also struggles as a shooter (30.7 percent from deep), and his mechanics are in need of an overhaul. What he does best, when he’s dialed in, is defending on the ball, and he has the tools to be an elite all-around defender. He recently signed a two-way contract with the Oklahoma City Thunder, an organization that often favors athletes over basketball players. It will be interesting to see if OKC can develop this talented but raw prospect.

Jontay Porter (#42) – It’s fairly clear why Porter was not drafted and remains unsigned – his injury history. Once considered a potential lottery selection, the Missouri product never played as a sophomore, tearing his right ACL and MCL in October of 2018, and then tearing the same ACL in March during rehab. Even before the injuries, there were doubts about his athleticism, but once healthy, his size and shooting touch should eventually earn him an opportunity as pro.

Naz Reid (#47) – The highly touted LSU freshman was passed over in the draft, and is just another example of a player who would have benefitted from another year in college. He’s a huge man with shooting touch, but he doesn’t seem to know how to use his size to his advantage. Reid wasn’t particularly effective or efficient at anything thing this season, and his draft stock was mostly based on perceived potential. However, what likely hurt Reid the most was his poor athleticism and conditioning. At the NBA Combine, he had, by far, the highest body-fat percentage (14 percent), and he did very poorly in all of the athletic and strength tests. Reid, who recently signed a two-way contract with the Timberwolves, must commit to reshaping his body and improving his strength and athleticism if he wants a chance in the NBA.

Terence Davis (#48) – Considered more of an athlete than a basketball for much of his career at Ole Miss, Davis slowly climbed our draft board all year. He had a fine senior season, showing improvement as a 3-point shooter (37.1 percent) and a playmaker (3.5 assists per game). He continued to impress at the Portsmouth Invitational, the G-League Combine, and the NBA Combine, but apparently, he didn’t impress enough to be drafted.

Davis was recently signed to play with the Denver Nuggets in the Summer League. He has the length, athleticism, and strength to compete at the NBA level, but he is not especially skilled as a ball handler or a shooter. His ability to defend is his strength, and if he can make threes with consistency, he’ll have a chance to stick with an NBA team.

Jalen Lecque (#49) – It was a surprise that the Brewster Academy product wasn’t selected at some point in the draft. The 19-year-old has great athleticism, especially in terms of vertical explosiveness, and he can handle, penetrate, and distribute. The main knock on him is his ability to shoot from the outside. Phoenix signed him to a four-year deal (two years guaranteed) immediately after the draft. He joins Ty Jerome in the Suns’ crowded backcourt, and Lecque is nearly Jerome’s opposite in terms of traits and skills.

Yovel Zoosman (#52) – Though Zoosman didn’t crack our top 50 and isn’t a top-notch athlete, it was still a bit of a surprise that he went undrafted. At 6-foot-7 and 200 pounds, with a 7-foot-1 wingspan, he has great size for a wing, and he plays with effort and intelligence. The 21-year-old Israeli was a solid contributor for Maccabi this season in both EuroLeague and the Israeli BSL, averaging 20.3 minutes per game and 0.96 points per possession (62nd percentile). In EuroLeague alone, he made 37.5 percent of his 3-point attempts, and he had an assist-turnover ratio of 1.52, a steal percentage of 2.54 (13th best in the league), and a defensive rating of 108.9 (18th best in the league).

Zoosman shows terrific potential as a 3-and-D player. On offense, he plays mainly off the ball, spotting up and cutting. He moves well without the ball, and is very reliable on catch-and-shoot jumpers (81st percentile). On the other end of the court, he plays with great energy, and his combination of awareness, length and strength allows him to effectively defend inside and out. The youngster will get a chance to prove himself in Summer League with the Cleveland Cavaliers, and if that doesn’t pan out, Maccabi is reportedly ready to offer him a long-term deal.

Dedric Lawson (#53) – The Kansas power forward was excluded from our last few mock drafts because NBA teams appeared to lose interest in him due to his lack of athleticism. He is a slow, below-the-rim player, who lacks ball-handling and shot-creating skills. However, not many players were as productive this past season as Lawson, who led the Big 12 Conference in points per game (19.4), rebounds per game (10.3), and player efficiency rating (27.0).

Standing at 6-foot-8, with a 7-foot-2 wingspan, Lawson had very efficient shooting splits (.490/.393/.815) this season, and he excelled at cleaning up around the basket and scoring in the post (84th percentile). Two-thirds of his shots came within eight feet of the rim, and he scored with consistency (55.4 percent), effectively using both hands, powering through contact, and getting to the free-throw line often (5.7 times per game). He also displayed the ability to knock down jumpers from midrange and deep, making 40.5 percent of his shots from 15 feet and beyond.

If Lawson were a couple of inches taller, it is conceivable that he could find a role with an NBA team as a stretch five, but as it is, his lack of athleticism may force him to find a home in Europe. He will get a chance to prove his doubters wrong when he suits up for the Warriors in Summer League.

Joshua Obiesie (#56) – Fairly surprising that an NBA team didn’t take a chance on the German youngster. Assuming that he would have agreed to continue to play in Europe for a couple more years, selecting Obiesie would have been a very low-risk move with long-term potential. After going undrafted, the 19-year-old returned to Germany to join the U20 national team, which will compete in FIBA European Championship later this month, and after that, he’ll likely continue his pro career in the German BBL.

Obiesie shows tremendous promise as a playmaker, and has great size for a point. The southpaw is not overly athletic, but he is a nifty ball handler with good body control and the ability to score at the rim. He excelled this season in transition and around the basket in half-court situations, ranking above the 88th percentile for points per possession in both areas. At the same time, he struggled as a shooter (31 percent from deep) – he tends to crouch before rising to shoot, which significantly slows his motion and release.

Dean Wade (#57) – No big man in this draft can currently match Wade in terms of combined shooting and passing skills. Over the past two seasons, the 6-foot-10 forward made 43.1 percent of his threes and had an assist-turnover ratio of 1.92. However, the K-State product had both of those seasons cut short by multiple foot injuries, and concerns about his long-term health dramatically hurt his draft stock. Even when he played this past season, he was clearly not 100 percent. In his junior season, he ranked at the 97th percentile for points per possession; as a senior, his efficiency dropped to the 82nd percentile. Wade recently agreed to a two-way contract with Cleveland Cavaliers, and if he can regain his form and stay healthy, I would expect him to eventually make an impact in the NBA.

Jared Harper (#60) – The speedy little point guard from Auburn was a last-minute addition to our Final Mock Draft, replacing Terance Mann based on team needs. Harper was one of six point guards that we ranked between 54 and 64, and not surprisingly, only half of that group was selected. He will get a chance to impress in Summer League, playing for Phoenix, but given the Suns’ current collection of young point guards, he may ultimately land with another team.

Harper is an outstanding all-around athlete and an excellent floor general. This season, he averaged 1.39 points-plus-assists per possession (97th percentile), made 37 percent of his 3-point attempts, and had an assist-turnover ratio of 2.42. However, despite having a nearly plus-seven-inch wingspan, the 5-foot-11 guard is limited by his size. He made less than 46 percent of his shots around the basket this season, and contributed little in terms of blocks and rebounds. Also, he struggles as a defender; this past season, he ranked at the 44th percentile in terms of points allowed per possession.


  • Richard C. Harris

    Richard has worked as a sports writer/editor/scout/analyst since 1998. He has been credentialed for a variety of special events and games by the NBA, the NFL, the G League, and numerous college athletic programs and conferences. He has contributed to various magazines, radio shows, and a number of other sites, including ESPN.com, SI.com, and USAToday.com. Richard is the former CEO of FantasyFootballExperts.com and a former member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA). An active member of the US Basketball Writers Association (USBWA), Rich is currently the Managing Director at Hoops Prospects, a site that specializes in evaluating potential pro basketball talent. Follow on Twitter @HoopsProspects.

    View all posts