2020 NBA Mock Draft – In-depth Version 1.0

Anthony Edwards
Anthony Edwards is one of at least three players who could be the top pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. (Photo by Tony Walsh, Georgia Athletics)

Hoops Prospects has been updating its mock draft since October, and even though the draft is nearly four months away, it’s time to explore each selection in detail.  The 2020 draft class has no clear-cut top prospect, with at least three players being a viable possibility to be the No. 1 overall pick.  This class features a ton of point guards/combo guards, and at the same time, there is a notable shortage of wings with good size and a reliable outside shot.  Also, quality rim protectors are in short supply.  

Lee Branscome and I recently put our heads together, examining each NBA team’s needs, discussing the best possible fits, and finally reaching a conclusion for the likely selection for all 60 draft slots.  For each pick, we have included our reasoning and an overview of the player. Specifically, Lee, who covers the Hornets, wrote the analysis and insights regarding their picks, and I wrote the analysis for the rest.  We will post new versions of this mock from time to time, up to the draft, which is tentatively scheduled for October 15.    

It should be noted that the Hoops Prospects Mock Draft differs from HP’s Draft Board.  The former is a projection of what NBA clubs will likely do in the draft, while the latter is HP’s evaluation of the best players available in the draft (rankings).  The order for this mock draft is based on the NBA standings as of March 12, 2020.  

Golden State1.  James Wiseman (C)

  • Team:  Memphis
  • Age:  19.2
  • Height:  7-1
  • Weight:  235
  • Wingspan: 7-6
  • Vertical:  34 inches (max)

With no significant free agents and the threesome of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green expected to be healthy by next season, the Warriors should be right back in the thick of the playoff race.  However, there are a few concerns, beginning with the fact that each member of the aforementioned All-Star trio will be at least 30 years old next year.  Also, does the team trust 25-year-old Andrew Wiggins to do what is required to be a champion?  The former No. 1 overall selection has never quite lived up to expectations, especially as a defender.  Assuming that the club does have faith in Wiggins and plans to keep him, center is the only position where the Warriors don’t have a potential future All-Star.  

Wiseman is far from being a lock to be the No. 1 overall pick; in fact, it was recently reported that Golden State would prefer USC’s Onyeka Okongwu, and an even more recent report said that they would take Georgia wing Anthony Edwards.  On the other hand, a recent anonymous poll of NBA executives showed that Wiseman is the player favored to be the top overall pick.  Of course, there is no logical reason for any NBA team to tip its hand, meaning that there is always a good chance that any draft rumor is simply misinformation being purposely spread.  

We do know that a guard or a wing has been chosen No. 1 overall only eight times over the last 25 years (see chart below), and none of those players made less than 32 percent of their 3-point shots in their last college season.  Edwards (29.4) and LaMelo Ball (27.9) made less than 30 percent of their 3s this season, but both were shooting from a greater distance than the players listed below.   

YearTop Pick in Draft3-Pt%
2017Markelle Fultz41.3
2016Ben Simmons33.3
2014Andrew Wiggins34.1
2011Kyrie Irving46.2
2010John Wall32.5
2008Derrick Rose33.7
2003LeBron Jamesn/a
1996Allen Iverson36.6

Wiseman’s time in college was brief to say the least – three games – and only one of those contests was against quality competition (Oregon).  Even so, he was impressive in those outings, averaging 19.7 points, 10.7 rebounds, and 3.0 blocks per game, while making 76.9 percent of his shots and posting an off-the-charts player efficiency rating (PER) of 50.4.  He also averaged a whopping 1.41 points per possession (PPP), which put him at the 100th percentile in Division I (DI).  

You do not need a big sample size to see that Wiseman is huge, agile, and can do the minimum required from a big in today’s NBA.  The southpaw gives a solid effort on both ends of the court, is fast from end to end, and moves well laterally on defense.  Being quick off the floor and having a 7-foot-6 wingspan help him to be an elite rebounder and shot blocker.  Offensively, he is a prime target on cuts and rolls to the basket.  He also possesses a nice shooting stroke, and was solid from the free-throw line this season (70.4 percent).  Lastly, he’s capable of knocking down 3s and shooting off the bounce, though we did not see that during his brief time at Memphis. 

2.  Anthony Edwards (W)

  • Team:  Georgia
  • Age:  18.9
  • Height:  6-5
  • Weight:  225
  • Wingspan: 6-9
  • Vertical:  42 inches (max)

The Cavaliers are in a bit of a weird spot.  They have two smallish “point guards” in the backcourt (Collin Sexton and Darius Garland), but both have yet to prove to be great facilitators.  At the same time, the Cavs rank 29th in the league in defensive efficiency.  The addition of center Andre Drummond should help in that department, but he could exercise his player option at the end of the season.  Tristan Thompson is an unrestricted free agent, so the team would have a big hole at center if both decided to leave.  Assuming that Drummond stays, the Cavs’ biggest need might be at wing, but do they want to address that spot after using two picks to fill that void last year with Kevin Porter and Dylan Windler?  

Taking the best available player would probably narrow the Cavs’ choice down to Edwards and LaMelo Ball, and taking Ball would likely mean that the team would have to eventually ship either Sexton or Garland to another team.  Garland would be the favorite to leave since recent rumors coming out of Cleveland indicate that the Cavs have some doubt about his potential.  

Edwards is a powerful and explosive wing, who excels in isolation and transition situations.  He averaged 19.1 points, 5.2 rebounds, 2.8 assists, and 1.3 steals per game this season.  Jump shooting is a big part of his game, and when he gets hot, he can be very tough to stop, even with good defensive pressure.  A quick step-back move, a natural lean, a high release, and good elevation all allow him to get off jumpers in tight spaces.  He also has good range and ball rotation on his jumpers.  However, he was not a consistent shooter this season, making less than 30 percent of his 3s and ranking at 28th percentile in terms of PPP as an overall jump shooter. 

When his jump shots are not falling, Edwards can go long stretches without being a major factor.  Part of the problem is that he doesn’t attack the basket as much as he should.  With his vertical and strength, he should be a force around the rim, but he is not – within seven feet this season, he made a modest 51 percent of his half-court shots.  He needs to tighten his handle and become more efficient with floaters/runners to become elite in this area.  Also, while he displays impressive passing skills in the open floor, the same cannot be said of his half-court playmaking.  Defensively, he has the physical tools to guard multiple positions, but like other aspects of his game, he can be somewhat lackadaisical on this end of the court.  

3.  Onyeka Okongwu (PF/C)

  • Team:  USC
  • Age:  19.5
  • Height:  6-9
  • Weight:  245
  • Wingspan: 7-1
  • Vertical:  

D’Angelo Russell and Karl-Anthony Towns, respectively, would make point guard and center the two least likely positions for Minnesota to address with an early pick.  There is also some untapped talent at the wing spots.  At the same time, the Timberwolves have no one of great promise at power forward.  Whatever position the T’wolves address, expect that player to be someone who can help their defense that ranks 24th for points allowed in the paint, or players who will improve their dismal 3-point shooting (33.6 percent). 

Okongwu may have the best combination of size, power, and athleticism in this draft, and his skill set should be an ideal fit in for the T’wolves.  He started at power forward alongside center Nick Rakocevic at USC, and by doing the same in Minnesota, he would help make up for some of Towns’ defensive deficiencies.  This season, Okongwu ranked in the top 10 of the PAC 12 in numerous categories, including field-goal percentage (61.6), points per game (16.2), rebounds per game (8.6), blocks per game (2.7), PER (31.2 – 10th in DI), win shares (5.4), and plus-minus (13.6 – 3rd in DI).  He also ranked at the 97th percentile in terms of PPP for overall scoring, and ranked at the 98th percentile among this year’s draft prospects for steals and blocks combined per 40 minutes (5.1).  

Okongwu has very quick feet that not only make him difficult to stop in the post, but also an effective perimeter defender and weak-side shot blocker.  He should excel at the next level as cutter, roller, and rim runner, three things that he did well at USC.  The main concern is his jump shooting, as the vast majority of his college shots came around the basket.  He took just 36 jumpers this season, making 15 (41.7 percent), including 1-of-4 on 3-point attempts.   

4.  Deni Avdija (F)

  • Team:  Maccabi FOX
  • Age:  19.5
  • Height:  6-9
  • Weight:  220
  • Wingspan: 6-10 
  • Vertical:  

The addition of center Clint Capela, who has yet to play a game for the Hawks, filled the team’s last gaping hole.  They now have a promising young starter at every position, and some depth at the five spot.  Capela should help the team improve its dreadful defense, which ranks 28th in efficiency this season.  In the draft, the Hawks will likely be looking for players who can play defense and complement Trae Young and John Collins.  

Avdija is one of the more versatile players in the draft – he can do a little bit of everything and has size.  He’s solidly built and a competitive athlete, with lots of skill and a high basketball IQ.  He can play either forward spot, and can be used in a variety of ways: spot-up shooter, cutter, point forward, and post scorer.  Having good speed and quickness with the ball in his hands for his size, he can also be effective off the bounce.  The 19-year-old Israeli has very good vision and is a nifty passer, and he can play on either end of the pick and roll, as a handler or roller/popper.  His biggest weakness is his off (left) hand, which hinders his ability to create shots and to finish around the basket at times.  

Playing against tough competition this season in both EuroLeague and the Israeli BSL, Avdija averaged 7.7 points, 4.1 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.1 steals+blocks, and 19.8 minutes per game.  His per-game numbers are not overly impressive due to the limited minutes, but his shooting splits (.514/.336/.520), PER (14.7), and assist-turnover ratio (1.37) were very respectable, especially when considering the level of competition.  His most impressive stat was his defensive rating of 92.6, which was the sixth best in the BSL. He also ranked at the 82nd percentile for PPP allowed among European players.  As on offense, he has versatility, and can defend inside and out.  

5.  LaMelo Ball (PG)

  • Team:  Illawarra
  • Age:  18.8
  • Height:  6-7
  • Weight:  185
  • Wingspan: 6-10
  • Vertical:  

The Pistons could use help everywhere, with the lone possible exception being power forward, where the aging Blake Griffin and Sekou Doumbouya, last year’s top pick, can play.  Detroit ranks 22nd in defensive efficiency and 27th for points allowed in the paint, despite having rim protector Andre Drummond for much of the season, so defensive players should receive strong consideration.  

Ball, the top-ranked prospect on the HP Draft Board, falls all the way to No. 5 in this mock draft due to the teams picking before the Pistons not needing a point guard.  However, it would be no surprise if one of those teams ignored its needs and selected Ball because he was the best player available. 

Ball had fantastic statistics for a youngster playing in a high-level international league — the Australian NBL — but the sample was rather small (13 games).  Playing 31.3 minutes per night, he averaged 17.2 points, 7.9 rebounds, 6.8 assists, and 1.5 steals per game.  He also had an impressive A/T ratio (2.67) and PER (18.3).  

Even though he is still just 18 years old, Ball already has the look of an NBA floor general.  He is confident with the ball in his hands, and has an outstanding handle and excellent vision and creativity.  He seamlessly crosses over and makes tricky passes at high speeds, and can thread the needle with either hand.  The California native has great end-to-end speed with the ball in his hands, and is a threat in transition as both a playmaker and scorer.  Though his shot is a bit funky, he’s not shy about shooting, and he does most things with flair.  The youngster’s shot selection needs to improve (FG% of 38.9), and he must learn that making the simple play is the best play at times (2.5 turnovers per game).  Also, he is not the best finisher, and his floater game needs to develop for those times when he can’t get all the way to the rim.  

Ball features a deadly step-back move and has a quick release on his jumpers, but he made less than 30 percent of his 3-point attempts this season due to inconsistent mechanics and the aforementioned shot selection.  This season in terms of PPP, he was much better when catching and shooting (69th percentile) than shooting off the bounce (34th percentile).  

Defensively, Ball can be a liability at times, which is mainly due to inconsistent effort and a lack of awareness.  He can be lackadaisical on his defensive rotations, and he often gets caught ball-watching, losing sight of his man.  He has quick hands and good anticipation, but he is always looking for the big play (steals), and this strategy can be costly when it fails.  He has the tools to be a solid on-ball defender, but his effort and fundamentals need to improve.  

6.  Killian Hayes (PG)

  • Team:  Ratiopharm Ulm
  • Age:  18.9
  • Height:  6-5
  • Weight:  175
  • Wingspan: 6-9
  • Vertical:  

With their free-agent situation being what it is, the Knicks could clean house in the offseason.  Since they currently have the league’s fifth-worst point differential, and have not had a winning record since 2013, a little house cleaning might not be a bad idea.  The Knicks seemingly have been looking for a franchise point guard since the Clinton administration, and they just might land one in this draft.  A big wing to complement RJ Barrett is another need, and the team will also be looking for backup types at power forward and center.  Lastly, New York is near the bottom of the league in terms of 3-point percentage (33.7 percent), so players who can shoot should receive stronger consideration.  

Hayes has good size for a point guard in addition to a high basketball IQ and excellent vision.  He is foremost a playmaker, who sees plays before they happen, and finds creative ways to facilitate.  As a scorer, his game needs some polish.  The 18-year-old Frenchman is not overly explosive off the bounce, but he can create his own shots with crafty dribble moves and changes in pace.  The lefty is very effective taking step-backs and other jumpers off the bounce, ranking at the 77th percentile for PPP.  He is also dangerous with floaters/runners in the lane.  However, his shooting mechanics need to be tweaked; he ranked at the 12th percentile on catch-and-shoot jumpers this season, and he made less than 30 percent of his 3s for two straight seasons.  When Hayes shoots, he tends to flick his thumb on his off hand (right), and he also has a low release; at times, this gives the appearance that he’s pushing his shots from his chest. He also must improve his off hand so that he’s not so predictable when driving and passing.

Defensively, Hayes is active and engaged.  He has quick feet, and works hard to stay in front of his man, though he tends to get hung up on screens.  As on offense, he anticipates well on defense and can be disruptive.  Alertness and quick hands help him get a lot of steals, but he reaches too much when beat off the dribble, picking up unnecessary fouls.  

Hayes was a full-time starter for Ratiopharm Ulm this season, playing in a total of 33 games in the German BBL and EuroCup.  Playing 24.8 minutes per night, he averaged 11.6 points, 2.8 rebounds, 5.4 assists, and 1.5 steals, with shooting splits of .482/.294/.876.  He also had an A/T ratio of 1.68 and a PER of 16.5, both of which were very respectable numbers for his age and the level of competition.  

7.  Isaac Okoro (SF)

  • Team:  Auburn
  • Age:  19.4
  • Height:  6-6
  • Weight:  225
  • Wingspan: 6-9
  • Vertical:

Surprisingly, the Bulls’ defense, ranked 13th for efficiency, has not been bad this season, but their offense has been dreadful, averaging less than 107 points per game.  In terms of PPP, they rank 28th in overall offense, and the only subcategory where they rank better than 21st is put-backs.  The Bulls have struggled from deep and in the paint, and not only do they need better shooters and finishers, but they also could use a true floor general to make it all work.  In addition to point guard, Chicago has a hole at small forward, a position that the club has been trying to fix for several years.  

Okoro is an all-around contributor with a great deal of upside.  He was an All-SEC selection and an All-SEC Defensive selection this season as just a freshman.  The 6-foot-6 forward has all of the intangibles, and is strong, very athletic, and an excellent defender, capable of guarding inside and out.  He is also very tough to stop when going to the basket, can function as a pick-and-roll handler, and though the 19-year-old struggled from the outside this season, his shooting stroke appears fixable.  

At Auburn, Okoro averaged 12.8 points, 4.4 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.8 steals+blocks, and 31.5 minutes per game, with shooting splits of .510/.286/.674.  He had a solid PER of 19.2, and ranked 12th in the SEC for box-score plus-minus (BPM of 7.7).  Though his attempts were limited, he excelled as an isolation scorer, ranking at the 97th percentile for PPP.  Most of his half-court points came around the basket via drives, cuts, and put-backs, and he proved to be a highly efficient finisher, making 64.2 percent of his shots on those types of plays.  

8.  Tyrese Haliburton (PG)

  • Team:  Iowa State
  • Age:  20.3
  • Height:  6-5
  • Weight:  175
  • Wingspan: 6-8
  • Vertical:  

At the beginning of the 2020 NBA season, Charlotte entered a rudderless, post-Kemba Walker era. The Hornets came into the season with one of the most inexperienced rosters in the league, and talent was also in short supply. Last summer, the organization was not yet aware that Devonte’ Graham would prove to become a legitimate NBA playmaker (7.5 assists per game [APG] with an A/T ratio of 2.6), that Terry Rozier would transform from a distressed contract into a valuable asset, or that P.J. Washington would immediately be a starter-quality rookie. 

Fast forward to our current “off-season,” and you’ll see a different picture. The Hornets have shed expiring contracts (Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Biskmack Biyombo, and Marvin Williams) to free cap space, and have intelligently drafted/signed young players who may prove useful (Caleb Marin, Cody Martin, Jalen McDaniels). The Hornets now possess a seemingly competent front office, a healthier cap sheet, and young assets. 

The Hornets’ roster still has deficiencies, and although the overall outlook is brighter, the results are still below average. Charlotte will finish the shortened season being near the bottom in both offensive rating (28th, 105.9 points per 100 possession) and defensive rating (25th, 112.8 points allowed per 100 possessions). The Hornets landed at 10th in the East, with a final record of 23-42. Their retooled and young roster still needs more playmaking/shooting with size at the guard position, and is also desperate for rim protection and defensive versatility. 

Tyrese Haliburton
Tyrese Haliburton (Photo by Wesley Winterink | Iowa State Athletics)

With the eighth pick in the draft, after considering what is available, Tyrese Haliburton would be a fantastic bargain. Haliburton is a 6’5 versatile two-way guard. He has superb shooting splits (.504/.822/.419) to effectively space for a playmaking backcourt counterpart like Graham. Haliburton can also shoulder playmaking responsibilities on the ball and help create for others with his brilliant vision and uncanny ability to manipulate defenses (6.5 APG). Charlotte lacked any consistent playmaking in its second unit, and Haliburton can be the solution while acting as an equivalent to universal blood type for the Hornets staff developing a rotation and prescribing backcourt pairings. Meaning, the Iowa State star can mix and match with any of the Hornets perimeter options in a lineup due to his versatile skill set.

Haliburton would be great for the continued development of Washington and Miles Bridges, as he would create easy opportunities for them to score in pick-and-roll, spot-up, and at-the-rim situations. The Hornets were also near the bottom of the league in pace, likely by design to stay in games. Yet, as this team matures, it would like to play faster, and the sophomore is excellent in transition (1.33 for PPP, 93rd percentile). 

Haliburton is not without flaws. Although his basketball instincts on the defensive end bear out to the tune of 2.5 steals per game, his analytical profile on that end of the floor is only average in most cases. On film, the Wisconsin native can be attacked off long closeouts, pick-and-roll action and simple straight-line drives. Additionally, he must improve as an isolation offensive scorer and as a pull-up jump shooter to unlock all his brilliant playmaking at the NBA level. His frame is slight and needs time to develop, but this is less concerning due to his length, instincts, and overall size. 

Overall, Haliburton makes sense for this Hornets roster, fills immediate needs and complements the returning young core while giving James Borrego and his staff another multi-purpose tool. 

— LB

9.  Devin Vassell (W)

  • Team:  Florida State
  • Age:  19.8
  • Height:  6-6
  • Weight:  195
  • Wingspan:  6-10
  • Vertical:  

The Wizards could use help at nearly every spot on the floor.  They rank dead last in the league in defensive efficiency and rebounding.  All-Star point guard John Wall is coming off a serious injury (Achilles), and will be 30 years old next season.  Backcourt mate and fellow All-Star Bradley Beal has just one year remaining on his contract, and is frequently mentioned in trade rumors.  Just a few other roster members have the potential to be anything more than situational players, specifically rookie forward Rui Hachimura, wing Troy Brown, and guard Isaac Bonga.  

When talking about Vassell it is far easier to say what he doesn’t do well than what he does do well.  He is strong, fast, quick, and vertically explosive.  He can score at all three levels.  He’s effective shooting off the bounce, making floaters in the lane, and slamming down lobs well above the rim.  He has good vision, doesn’t turn the ball over, plays hard, is sticky on defense, makes steals, and blocks shots.  And he’s only 19.  

Playing in Leonard Hamilton’s system that utilizes a deep rotation, Vassell was limited to less than 29 minutes per game this season, and his standard statistics are not eye popping.  He averaged 12.7 points, 5.1 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.4 steals, and 1.0 blocks per contest.  At the same time, his percentages and metrics do stand out, and many of those numbers rank among the best in this draft class.  The sophomore had shooting splits of .490/.415/.738, and he ranked sixth in the ACC for true shooting percentage (58.5).  He ranked at the 95th percentile for overall PPP, and had an A/T ratio of 2.13.  He averaged 3.3 steals+blocks per 40 minutes, and finished in the top 15 of the ACC for steal percentage (2.8), block percentage (4.1), and defensive rating (92.0).  He was even better in the overall metrics, ranking third in the conference (and 18th in the country) for BPM (10.8), sixth in the ACC for PER (24.3), and seventh in the conference for win shares (4.9).  

The main areas that Vassell needs to address are tightening his handle and becoming more proficient at attacking the basket in the half court.  He tends to settle for jumpers, and despite having all of the tools to finish, he made just 50 percent of his shots within seven feet when driving to the rim this season.  

10.  Obi Toppin (PF)

  • Team:  Dayton
  • Age:  22.3
  • Height:  6-9
  • Weight:  220
  • Wingspan:  6-11
  • Vertical:  

Once again, the Suns’ biggest weakness is their defense.  They rank 19th in defensive efficiency, 24th in defensive rebounding, and 22nd for points allowed in the paint.  Center Deandre Ayton has been particularly horrible defending the pick and roll, while guard Devin Booker has been less than stellar on the perimeter.  That tandem also happens to be the team’s top two scorers, combining for 45.1 points per game.  Starting power forward Dario Saric also has had his share of defensive issues, and he will become a restricted free agent after the season.  The Suns have a number of backups with promise at 1 through 3, so they should focus on finding a replacement for Saric and a mobile, defensive-oriented backup for Ayton.

Topin had a fine freshman campaign, but he truly burst onto the national scene this year, as he helped Dayton (29-2) rise to No. 3 in the AP and the Coaches Poll.  His sophomore season featured numerous highlight-reel dunks and other impressive plays, and to some degree, he brought back memories of Blake Griffin at Oklahoma for me.  Like Griffin, Topin won numerous awards as a sophomore, including the A-10 Player of the Year, the Naismith Award, the Karl Malone Award, the Wooden Award, and a first-team Consensus All-America selection.

Topin put up the stats to justify all of those awards.  Playing 31.6 minutes per night, he averaged 20.0 points, 7.6 rebounds, 2.2 assists, and 2.2 steals+blocks per game, with shooting splits of .633/.390/.702.  Nationally, he ranked in the top 10 for field-goal percentage, PER (32.9), win shares (6.9), and BPM (11.8).  He also ranked at the 99th percentile overall PPP (1.20).  

Despite the lofty numbers, there are reasons to be concerned about Topin.  For starters, Dayton played a relatively easy schedule, so his stats are inflated to some degree.  He is a late bloomer, with a very interesting story, which is typically positive, but in this case, he is very old for a sophomore, meaning that he has a lower ceiling than most.  Offensively, his ability to consistently make jumpers, especially off the bounce, to dribble with his right hand, and to finish with his left hand are all in doubt.  Defensively, in terms of bigs, he’s no better than average as a rebounder, shot blocker, and perimeter defender.

11.  Aaron Nesmith (W)

  • Team:  Vanderbilt
  • Age:  20.7
  • Height:  6-6
  • Weight:  215
  • Wingspan:  6-10
  • Vertical:  34 inches (standing)

The Spurs have been slowly slipping for a few years, and they may have reached the rebuilding point.  Rumors of star wing DeMar DeRozan being unhappy in San Antonio have been circling for quite some time, and he could turn down his player option in the offseason.  Former All Star LaMarcus Aldridge will be 35 years old next season, and is clearly on the downside of his career.  Guard Bryn Forbes and center Jakob Poeltl (RFA) are among the team’s free agents, and may need to be replaced.  

The current team in San Antonio has been mainly struggling on the defensive end.  The Spurs rank 24th in defensive efficiency, and have been especially poor at defending on the perimeter.  Offensively, the story is almost the opposite; they rank 5th in terms of PPP, but have not been efficient on the interior.  The bottom line is that the Spurs will likely be looking for help at every position, with the lone possible exception being point guard, where Dejounte Murray and Derrick White can play.  

As noted in the introduction, wings with good size and shooting ability are in short supply in this draft, and Nesmith is arguably the top 3-point marksman in this class.  He excels at shooting off screens, quickly squaring his body to the basket and releasing in a seamless manner.  He can also create space and shoot off the bounce, though his handle can be shaky at times.  The Vandy sophomore made 52.2 percent of his 3s this season, and in terms of PPP as a jumper shooter, he ranked at the 100th percentile on catch-and-shoot attempts and at the 78th percentile on off-the-dribble jumpers.  It must be noted that this season’s sample was small due Nesmith being diagnosed with a stress fracture in his right foot in early January, limiting his sophomore campaign to 14 games against less-than-stellar competition.  However, his career 3-point percentage of 44.2 and his career free-throw percentage of 82.5 are good signs that this season was no fluke.  

Some aspects of Nesmith’s game are a concern, mainly his poor career A/T ratio of 0.77 and his defensive struggles, particularly vs. jump shooters, over the past two seasons.  We have to keep in mind that Vanderbilt was a bad defensive team during his tenure, and a team’s ability to defend as a unit always impacts an individual player, especially statistically.  Nesmith produced respectable numbers in terms of steals+blocks per 40 minutes this season (2.6), and he certainly has the athleticism, strength, and length to be a solid defender.  He’s also an intelligent player, who gives a good effort, and I expect his defensive awareness and IQ to improve.  I also believe that he will make better decisions with the ball down the road. 

12.  Patrick Williams (F)

  • Team:  Florida State
  • Age:  18.8
  • Height:  6-8
  • Weight:  225
  • Wingspan:  7-2
  • Vertical:  

It was thought that the Kings (28-36) might finally have a winning season for the first time since 2006, but things have not gone as planned.  Point guard De’Aaron Fox missed a significant portion of the season due to injuries, and power forward Marvin Bagley has been limited to 13 games due to a sprained foot.  The stats are not exactly definitive as to whether the Kings have been worse on offense or defense, but the numbers do indicate that the team has been below-average on both ends of the floor.  

We do know that the Kings went into the season without a dominant center, and Bagley’s injury further depleted a suspect frontcourt.  As a result, at least in part, the team ranks 27th in rebounding, 25th in blocked shots, 30th for PPP allowed around the basket, 23rd for points scored in the paint.  Bagley was clearly missed, and the team could use a shot blocker/rebounder to complement him.  Additionally, Jabari Parker, Nemanja Bjelica, Harry Giles, and Alex Len could all be gone after free agency, which is another reason that the team will likely be looking for a player with size at this spot.

One of the youngest prospects in the class, Williams is a versatile player with an intriguing combination of size, athleticism, and skill.  He is capable of playing at either forward spot, possessing the ability to score and defend both inside and out.  

Read more:  Patrick Williams Scouting Report

13.  Cole Anthony (CG)

  • Team:  North Carolina
  • Age:  20.1
  • Height:  6-3
  • Weight:  190
  • Wingspan:  6-5
  • Vertical:  43 inches (max)

The Pelicans are definitely moving in the right direction, and their top priority is likely keeping forward Brandon Ingram, who will be a restricted free agent in the offseason.  The team is well stocked with guards, and assuming that Ingram is returning, the Pelicans will likely be looking for big men who can shoot to complement Zion Williamson and Jaxson Hayes.  However, at this particular spot in the draft, New Orleans might have to go with the best available player and sort out the roster later.  

Anthony’s freshman season was a mixed bag, and he was limited to 22 games due to injuries.  He came to UNC with a reputation as an athletic and dynamic scorer as well as a tough rebounder and defender.  He showed flashes of being all of those things, but he struggled mightily in certain areas.  On the season, he averaged 18.5 points, 5.7 rebounds, 4.0 assists, and 1.3 steals per game, with shooting splits of .380/.348/.750.  Anthony had a modest A/T ratio of 1.13 thanks to 3.5 turnovers per game.  His PER of 18.6 was solid due to his overall productivity. 

I believe that Anthony’s poor field-goal percentage and modest overall PPP of 0.85 (46th percentile) had a lot to do with poor shot selection, and that, in turn, was likely partially due to playing for a subpar UNC team.  He showed great ability to create his own shot and shoot off the bounce, and those things are reflected in his other PPP numbers — he ranked at the 92nd percentile as an isolation scorer and at the 72nd percentile as a jump shooter off the dribble.  On the other hand, he really struggled around the basket, where he made only 33 percent of his shots, including runners/floaters.  Anthony drew a lot of defensive attention in the paint, and his lack of length didn’t help him either.  

Anthony also showed that he might not be an ideal floor general.  He’s a shoot-first point guard, and his vision, decision making, and ball security all need to improve before he is handed the keys to run a pro offense.  Similar things could be said about the youngster’s performance on the other end of the court.  As an on-ball defender, he can be effective due to his athleticism, but his awareness, decision making, and timing are all lacking off the ball.  

14.  Saddiq Bey (SF)

  • Team:  Villanova
  • Age:  21.2
  • Height:  6-8
  • Weight:  220
  • Wingspan:  6-10
  • Vertical:  

Partially due to injuries, Portland has had a very disappointing season, and the main consolation would be a lottery selection.  Injured centers Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins should be at 100 percent for the start of next season, and the Trail Blazers’ backcourt is in good hands, with starters Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, and the promising Anfernee Simons coming off the bench.  Other than that, the team has issues, especially if sharpshooting wing Rodney Hood decides to turn down his player option.  The Trail Blazers should be specifically looking for forwards who can play perimeter defense, as they rank 27th in defensive efficiency and 24th for PPP allowed to jump shooters.  

Bey is a versatile forward, who can play anywhere between the 2 through 4 spots, and he can defend both inside and out.  Despite having the size and strength to play power forward, Villanova head coach Jay Wright consistently assigned Bey to cover the opposing team’s top offensive threat this season, including players such as Marquette’s Markus Howard and Seton Hall’s Myles Powell.  

In addition to being Nova’s defensive stopper, Bey was also the team’s top scorer at 16.1 points per game.  He had excellent shooting splits (.477/.451/.769), a positive A/T ratio (1.61), and also contributed 4.7 boards, 2.4 assists, and 1.2 steals+blocks per game.  HIs three-point percentage was the fourth best in DI, and he ranked at the 96th percentile for overall PPP.  The sophomore also ranked in the top 10 of the Big East in all the major overall metrics (PER, BPM, and win shares).

Bey doesn’t have great length, is not an exceptional athlete, and is not the most dynamic scorer.  However, he is a smart, alert, efficient player, who hustles.  He is exceptional as a catch-and-shoot threat (98th percentile for PPP), and he has defensive versatility.  In short, he is a high-level 3-and-D prospect.  

15.  Kira Lewis (PG)

  • Team:  Alabama
  • Age:  19.2
  • Height:  6-3
  • Weight:  170
  • Wingspan:  6-6
  • Vertical:  

The Magic need perimeter players who can shoot and play defense.  In terms of PPP, the club ranks 28th in both jump shooting and defending jump shooting.  There is an obvious need for a wing to play alongside Evan Fournier, who could opt out of the last year of his contract at the end of the season.  Point guard is another need even though Markelle Fultz made significant progress this season.  Fultz is still struggling from deep (25.4%), and backup D.J. Augustin is a free agent, who may not be re-signed.  

Lewis, one of the fastest players in this draft, is a young sophomore, and was highly productive this season.  Playing 37.6 minutes per outing, the Bama point guard averaged 18.5 points, 4.8 rebounds, 5.2 assists, 2.4 steals+blocks per game, with shooting splits of .459/.366/.802 and an A/T ratio of 1.47.  An All-SEC first-team selection, he led the conference in minutes per game, finished third in assists and steals (1.8) per game, and fifth for points per game.  He also topped the SEC in turnovers per game (3.6), and his ball security and decision-making need to improve.  

Lewis is a three-level scoring threat, and is more than capable of facilitating for others.  His explosive speed makes it very tough on defenders.  He pulls up on a dime, and shoots with good form; this season, he ranked at 79th percentile for PPP on jump shots off the dribble.  He also displays very nice vision, and the ability to make tough, one-hand passes on the move.  He is a good penetrator, with a killer Euro-step move.  The 19-year-old can make acrobatic finishes, is capable of finishing with either hand, and can knock down floaters.  However, he made just 45.7 percent of his half-court shots around the basket this season, including floaters/runners, which was due, at least in part, to his small frame.   

Defensively, athleticism is not an issue for Lewis, and he makes his share of impact plays.  However, inexperience plus a lack of length and strength do prevent him from being elite on this end of the court.  He can especially struggle against screen-action plays such as handoffs and the pick and roll.  Considering the high number of minutes that he played this season, he was certainly more than adequate, and as he matures, he could very well emerge as a good defender.    

16.  R.J. Hampton (CG)

  • Team:  New Zealand
  • Age:  19.4
  • Height:  6-5
  • Weight:  185
  • Wingspan:  6-7
  • Vertical:  

Assuming that the Timberwolves get a power forward with the first of their two first-round selections, the best player available would make sense at this spot.

Hampton chose the Australian NBL over college, and he was limited to 17 games due to injury.  Considering his youth and the level of competition, he played reasonably well.  Playing 21.3 minutes per night, he averaged 9.6 points, 3.9 rebounds, 2.4 assists, and 1.2 steals per game, with shooting splits of .417/.294/.737 and an A/T ratio of 1.68.  

Hampton is a slender combo guard, who definitely could use more muscle.  His most impressive aspects are his overall athleticism and his speed and fluidity with the ball in his hands.  He is very fast up and down the court, quick off the floor, and explosive vertically.  He also plays under control, doesn’t force shots, and defers to the veterans on his team, as he should.  

Hampton was at his best this season when handling in the pick and roll, ranking at the 64th percentile for PPP.  The Texas native is clearly more effective as a driver and a playmaker than a shooter at this point of his career.  He has excellent acceleration, and is dangerous when changing speeds.  The 19-year-old has good body control and is able to make tough finishes at the rim.  He can finish with either hand, and absorbs contact surprisingly well.  He also displays solid vision and awareness, and often makes difficult passes on the move.  As a jump shooter, he is smooth when pulling up, but he doesn’t hit those shots with consistency, as his shooting mechanics need tweaking.  

Hampton’s defense also needs to significantly improve, on and off the ball.  His attention and awareness are not the best, but at times, he shows great hustle.  His athleticism can be a huge asset — he tied for second in the NBL with a steal percentage of 2.6, thanks to his ability to flash into the passing lanes.  However, the youngster becomes unbalanced an inordinate number of times when defending, and he tends to get hung up on screens.  Overall, given his raw talent, he should eventually become an adequate defender at least, assuming that he adds more muscle and improves his fundamentals.  

17.  Theo Maledon (PG)

  • Team:  ASVEL
  • Age:  19.0
  • Height:  6-4
  • Weight:  195
  • Wingspan:  6-9
  • Vertical:  

The Celtics’ top five players in terms of minutes per game this season are four guards and one forward, and their most obvious need would appear to be players with size, especially from a defensive perspective.  However, Boston has actually been one of the top defensive teams in the league this season, ranking fourth in PPP allowed and ranking third for fewest points allowed in the paint.  On the offensive end, Boston has been less than stellar in a number of areas, ranking 18th in field-goal percentage, 13th in three-point percentage, 25th in assists, and 15th in points in the paint.  The Celtics have excelled when their shot creators have the ball in isolation, the pick & roll, and transition, but they have not been very good at creating offense via the pass: spot-ups, cuts, and rolls.  

Summing things up, Celtics play a lot of small ball, and it has not hurt them on defense, but they’re not elite on offense.  In my estimation, their problems with derived offense mainly come from a bench that lacks scoring punch.  Ideally, they would add a center and a power forward, who can defend on the perimeter, shoot, and also be effective on cuts and rolls.  They also don’t have a true backup point guard who excels at playmaking.  

The Celtics own three first-round picks this year, and they are certainly one of the leading candidates to be involved in a draft-day trade.  For this mock draft, however, we must assume that they will keep all of their picks, and if that’s the case, expect the club to take the best available player at this spot, even if he doesn’t fill a need.  

Maledon just turned 19 years old on June 12, but he’s been playing high-level basketball in France for three years.  Last year as a 17-year-old in the French Jeep Elite League, he was named an All-Star and won the Rising Star award.  This season, however, he struggled out of the gate for two main reasons: 1) his team, ASVEL, moved up from EuroCup to EuroLeague, which was a significant increase in the level of competition, and 2) the youngster suffered a shoulder injury in October that prevented him from playing for more than month.  Even so, Maledon finished the season with solid stats, playing in a total of 46 games for ASVEL, including 23 starts.  Playing 17.3 minutes per contest, he averaged 7.3 points, 1.9 rebounds, and 2.7 assists, with respectable shooting splits (.421/.333/.776) and a solid A/T ratio (1.67).  He had poor percentages for steals (1.48) and blocks (0.75), which were uncharacteristic of the rest of his career, especially for steals.  However, his assist percentage of 32.5 was the 13th best in EuroLeague.  

Among other things, Maledon is known for his maturity and work ethic.  However, he still has a kid’s body, and needs to add muscle.  He has good speed and quickness, a smooth jumper, and the ability to make floaters with consistency.  He is fluid with the ball in his hands, changing speed and direction seamlessly.  The young Frenchman uses various dribble moves and changes in pace to keep defenders off balance, is effective going right and left, and gets into the paint with relative ease.  He is very capable of executing the pick and roll; this season, he ranked at the 71st percentile for PPP among European players.  Maledon is not overly explosive vertically, but he is an effective finisher due to his length and touch, and he draws his share of fouls (4.9 per 40 minutes).  He struggled somewhat from deep this season, but last year, when he was completely healthy, he made 39 percent of his 3s.

Maledon ranked among the top 30 defenders in the Jeep Elite league for two straight seasons; in fact, last year, he finished ninth in the league with a defensive rating of 102.8.  He is an active defender, who is aggressive on the ball, denies well, and maintains good spacing to be available to help.  His length, effort, and athleticism are all keys to his success on this end of the court.   

18.  Precious Achiuwa (PF)

  • Team:  Memphis
  • Age:  20.8
  • Height:  6-9
  • Weight:  225
  • Wingspan:  7-2
  • Vertical:  

Offense is not an issue in Dallas.  The Mavericks are the third highest scoring team in the NBA (116.4 PPG), and they are first in terms of overall PPP.  Defensively, the team is slightly below average (17th for efficiency), and the Mavs have had more trouble stopping people on the inside than out.  The team lacks an ideal starter at the four spot, and the club could also use a wing with good size and a mobile backup center with shot-blocking ability.  

Achiuwa was an older freshman on a very young Memphis team that struggled with turnovers and shot selection this season.  He has a muscular build, good length, and nice agility for his size.  He is somewhat limited offensively, but he can defend multiple positions, and is an excellent rebounder.  He runs the floor very well, and is a great rip-and-run option.  His motor runs hot and cold, but at times, he can be a force all over the floor.

An All-AAC selection and the conference ROY, Achiuwa averaged 15.8 points, 10.8 rebounds (13th in DI), 1.1 steals, and 1.9 blocks per game, with shooting splits of .493/.325/.599.  He led the AAC in rebound percentage (18.6), and he finished in the top 10 of the conference for field-goal percentage, block percentage (6.4), PER (23.9), win shares (4.6), and BPM (5.8).  

Despite the lofty statistics, there are some concerns about Achiuwa’s game.  In terms of PPP, he ranked better than the 47th percentile in only two major offensive categories — put-backs (59th) and transition (61st).  He gets a share of his points Moses Malone style, missing the first shot, rebounding, and then scoring on the put-back.  He can finish with his left, but he rarely does so.  He doesn’t have the best touch with runners, but he uses that type of shot fairly often when around the basket.  He has an impressive handle and mobility for his size in the open floor, but when dribbling in tight spaces, he struggles with turnovers (2.8 per game).  As a shooter, his form doesn’t look bad, but he is not consistent from deep and struggles from the charity stripe.  

There are fewer concerns about Achiuwa’s ability to defend.  He has quick feet and has very little problem defending smaller players on the perimeter.  He can cover a lot of space as a help defender without getting burned often, and he defends without fouling.  He scrambles all over the floor at times, but then he has these periods when he looks gassed and drained.  Also, despite having fantastic numbers for steals and blocks (3.9 combined per 40 minutes), he often plays with his hands down, missing opportunities to harass shooters and passers.  

19.  Josh Green (W)

  • Team:  Arizona
  • Age:  19.6
  • Height:  6-6
  • Weight:  210
  • Wingspan:  6-10
  • Vertical:  

Things are certainly looking up in Brooklyn.  The Nets are headed toward their second-straight playoff berth, and a great deal of firepower will be added to the mix next season when the team’s biggest offseason acquisitions — Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving — are expected to play together for the first time. The often-injured Irving has been limited to 20 games this season due to a shoulder injury, while Durant (Achilles) has not played at all.  

Assuming that both Durant and Irving play at their usual level and can stay on the floor, the Nets should be in great shape.  This season, they are one of the better defensive teams in the NBA (ranked 8th in defensive efficiency), and the aforementioned All-Star tandem will certainly boost the club’s lagging offense, which ranks 24th for overall PPP.  The Nets’ biggest concern is likely keeping/replacing sharpshooting wing Joe Harris, who will be a free agent at the end of the season.  

Green, an Australian native, is an above-average athlete, with good strength and body control.  His freshman season had its ups and downs, and I am not as high on him as most seem to be.  He averaged 12.0 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.6 assists, and 1.5 steals per game, with shooting splits of .424/.361/.780 and an A/T ratio of 1.59.  He finished in the top 10 of the PAC 12 with a steal percentage of 2.8 and a BPM of 6.9.  In terms of overall PPP, he ranked at the 67th percentile. 

Offensively, Green is currently a limited player.  He’s good in transition (79th percentile for PPP), but he’s mostly a spot-up player in the half court.  He is dependent on his right hand, and struggles to finish in traffic — this season, he made just 38.2 percent of his half-court shots within seven feet.  He rarely attacks when isolated, and he doesn’t shoot well on the move, especially off the bounce (9th percentile for PPP).  Additionally, even though he was solid as a 3-point shooter this season, his shot is somewhat funky, and he can be very streaky.  

Defensively, Green’s stats are a mixed bag.  He ranked 7th in the PAC 12 with a defensive rating of 92.0, but he also ranked at the 42nd percentile in terms of PPP allowed.  He certainly has the physical tools, including nice length, to be a solid defender, and the eye test shows that he plays with physicality and energy.  

20.  Tyrese Maxey (CG)

  • Team:  Kentucky
  • Age:  19.6
  • Height:  6-3
  • Weight:  195
  • Wingspan:  6-6
  • Vertical:  29 inches (standing) and 35.5 (max)

The Bucks have little to complain about.  They have the NBA’s best record, and lead the league in scoring, defensive efficiency (by far), and point differential (by far).  In the offseason, however, they could lose a number of key contributors via free agency, including Wesley Matthews ($2,692,991 player option), Pat Connaughton, Marvin Williams, and Robin Lopez ($5,005,350 player option).  Mathews is the only player in that group who is a regular starter, and when also considering his age (33), shooting guard should be at the top of Milwaukee’s wish list.

Tyrese Maxey
Tyrese Maxey (Photo by Chet White | UK Athletics)

An All-SEC selection this season, Maxey averaged 14.0 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 3.2 assists per game, with shooting splits of .427/.292/.833 and an A/T ratio of 1.48.  He is a dynamic combo guard, with above-average speed and quickness, but lacking vertical pop.  He has a great handle, a very strong off hand (left), and plays with a lot of wiggle, changing speed and direction with ease.  The Kentucky freshman has great body control at the rim, and can finish with either hand, including floaters.  He is also capable of scoring from midrange and beyond with jumpers off the dribble.  

While Maxey catches the eye with his tight handle and nifty moves, closer examination reveals some flaws in his game.  He has a very low release point on his jumpers, and he was poor from the 3-point line this season.  He is not an elite athlete, and he can struggle to get all the way to the rim and finish.  In terms of PPP, he ranked at the 25th percentile as a scorer in isolation, and on half-court shots around the basket, he made a modest 46.5 percent, with nearly half of those attempts being floaters/runners.  On the plus side, Maxey does get fouled regularly (3.9 times per game), and is an excellent free-throw shooter.  Lastly, the youngster is a shoot-first point guard, who is not overly creative or skilled as a passer.  

Defensively, the news is mainly positive for Maxey.  He’s alert and energetic, and applies good on-ball pressure.  Few were better when defending in isolation this season; he allowed just 0.27 PPP in ISO, which ranked at the 96th percentile.  However, he does lack great length, and he doesn’t produce many steals and blocks, averaging just 1.5 combined per 40 minutes.  

21.  Aleksej Pokusevski (PF)

  • Team:  Olympiacos B
  • Age:  18.5
  • Height:  7-0
  • Weight:  205
  • Wingspan:  7-3
  • Vertical:  

The Sixers have been solid defensively this season, ranking sixth in efficiency, though they have been surprisingly mediocre for points allowed in the paint (16th).  On the other end of the court, Philadelphia has been slightly below average, ranking 17th for overall PPP.  The club’s 3-point shooting has been better than expected (ranked 14th at 36.2 percent), but its inside game has underachieved (19th for points in the paint).  Breaking the team’s offense down by subcategory, the Sixers have especially struggled to score via transition, the pick and roll, and isolation.  

The Sixers are considering shaking up the starting lineup to boost their sluggish offensive.  The 33-year-old Al Horford is clearly in decline, and ideally, he would be coming off the bench, which would improve the team’s overall speed and spacing.  The immediate alternative to replace Horford would be combo guard Shake Milton, who became a significant part of the rotation in late January. With Milton starting, the team would lack a viable backup point guard to complement Ben Simmons.  

In addition to point guard, look for the Sixers to be seeking help at the wing and power forward spots.  The team could lose sharpshooter Furkan Korkmaz via free agency, but that’s unlikely because he can be retained for a very reasonable price.  However, Josh Richardson has been a somewhat disappointing acquisition, especially on the offensive end, and the team could use a two-way wing, who can knock down 3s with consistency.  At power forward, the 31-year-old Mike Scott has been serviceable off the bench, but it would nice to have a promising prospect behind him.  

A very skinny 7-foot power forward, Pokusevski is the youngest prospect in the draft.  He won’t turn 19 until late December, and is unlikely to be ready to make significant contributions to an NBA team for at least a year.  However, his unique skill set will make him a tantalizing option in the middle of the first round.  

This past season, Pokusevski was off to a good start with Olympiacos B in the Greek second division (A2 EOK), but he was sidelined from November 30 to February 20 due to injury.  He was just starting to get back to speed when the league was halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic in early March.  In total, the youngster played in 11 contests, averaging 23.1 minutes, 10.8 points, 7.9 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.3 steals, and 1.8 blocks, with shooting splits of .404/.321/.783.  He had an impressive A/T ratio of 1.7, an excellent PER of 25.1, and an outstanding average of 5.4 steals+blocks per 40 minutes.  It should be noted that the A2 EOK is not the highest level of competition — in my estimation, it’s similar to playing in the lower DI conferences, such as the Big South and the Metro Atlantic.

Pokusevski has an impressive blend of dribbling, shooting, and passing skills for his size.  He also plays with confidence — he is not shy about dribbling or shooting, and is graceful with the ball in his hands.  The 18-year-old Serbian is not just a straight-line driver — he can go right or left, and has multiple dribble moves, including in-outs.  He also has surprising body control, and makes impressive finishes at the rim.  He likes to use floaters/runners around the basket, including a sweet finger roll.   

As a jump shooter, Pokusevski has a quick release, and the transition from dribbling to shooting is smooth.  He ranked at the 72nd percentile for PPP when shooting off the bounce this season, which is impressive for his size, even considering the subpar level of competition.  However, his shooting mechanics could use some work, as he does short-arm some shots, and he shoots more out than up.  His height generally allows him to get away with his flat shooting motion, but improving his percentage from deep should be a priority.  

Had he qualified, Pokusevski would have led the A2 EOK with a defensive rating of 84.4, and he certainly produced in terms of rebounds, steals, and blocks.  However, his inexperience shows on this end of the court.  A lack of discipline and attention can lead to easy buckets for opposition and silly fouls, though he is generally not in foul trouble.  He is often late on rotations and closeouts due to a lack of awareness.  Also, his lateral movement is not elite, and he can struggle at times on the perimeter.   

22.  Jahmius Ramsey (SG)

  • Team:  Texas Tech
  • Age:  19.0
  • Height:  6-4
  • Weight:  195
  • Wingspan:  6-6
  • Vertical:  

Like the 76ers, I picked the Nuggets to make the NBA Finals this season, and in my opinion, they have underachieved.  Denver has been solid on the defensive end, ranking 11th for PPP allowed, but its interior defense has been somewhat soft, allowing 48.8 points in the paint per game (ranked 19th).  Offensively, the Nuggets are below average, averaging just 110.4 points per game (ranked 20th).  Their 3-point shooting (35.8 percent) is in the middle of the pack (ranked 15th), while their pick-and-roll and transition scoring has been below average. 

The Nuggets have a lot of decisions to make in the offseason, and it’s difficult to predict what direction they will go in the draft.  Their free agents include power forwards Jerami Grant and Paul Millsap, who is 35 years old, backup center Mason Plumlee, and backup wing Torrey Craig.  Grant recently said that he will likely turn down his player option, but that does not necessarily mean that he will not be back.  The team could move forward Michael Porter into the starting lineup; he would likely give the offense a boost, but can he stay healthy?  The Nuggets also have to decide if they’re ready to give up on Gary Harris, who has had a disappointing season and has never quite lived up to expectations, as the starting two guard.  Veteran Will Barton could start at that spot, but he is better suited for a sixth-man role. 

Ramsey is a muscular two guard, who looks bigger than his listed weight and excels as a catch-and-shoot jump shooter.  The 19-year-old had an up-and-down freshman campaign at Texas Tech, looking fantastic one night and disappearing the next.  On the season, he averaged 15.0 points, 4.0 rebounds, 2.2 assists, and 2.0 steals+blocks per game, with shoot splits of .442/.426/.641.  He was named the Big 12 Rookie of the Year, and finished in the top 10 of the conference for true shooting percentage (54.6), points per game, and steals per game (1.3).  In terms of PPP, Ramsey ranked better than the 87th percentile on catch-and-shoot jumpers, isolation plays, and off-screen plays.  Where he mainly struggled was when handling in the pick and roll, shooting off the bounce, and finishing around the basket.  

Ramsey’s main issues are that his handle can be loose at times, he is not particularly explosive off the bounce, and he has trouble when going left.  The youngster tends to struggle to create space and to get all the way to the rim.  He also tends to over dribble and have tunnel vision as a playmaker (A/T ratio of 1.11).  Many of his jumpers have a high degree of difficulty because he fails to shake his defender.  He rarely made it all the way to the rim this season on drives, and when he did, the results were not positive; on shots within seven feet via drives, he was just 7-of-23 (30.4 percent).  On the plus side, he’s reliable with runners and floaters (63rd percentile for PPP).  

Defensively, Ramsey was solid this season, but not spectacular.  He handles screens well due to his strength, and for a guard, he makes some impressive help-side blocks.  His length is below average, but he can make up for that with his athleticism and strength.  

23.  Jalen Smith (PF/C)

  • Team:  Maryland
  • Age:  20.3
  • Height:  6-10
  • Weight:  225
  • Wingspan:  7-2
  • Vertical:  

While the Heat are averaging a modest 112.2 points per game, they rank second in the league in efficiency per possession, averaging 1.03 PPP.  The only subcategory where they rank below average is on put-backs, which accounts for less than three percent of their offense.  Defensively, Miami is in the middle of the pack (14th for efficiency), and slowing opponents’ pick-and-roll plays has been a particular problem.  Both Duncan Robinson and Kendrick Nunn have been very pleasant surprises this season, but neither is a strong defender.  

The Heat also have free-agent concerns, as four regular contributors off the bench — Jae Crowder, Goran Dragic, Derrick Jones, and Meyers Leonard — could walk after the season is over.  Considering the free-agent situation and the team’s defensive issues, Miami’s draft priorities will likely be power forward, point guard, and wing, in the order.  

After starting at power forward as a freshman, Smith played almost exclusively at center this season.  He came to Maryland with the nickname of “Sticks” due to being ultra thin and having long arms and legs; however, he has significantly beefed up over the past two years, adding 30 pounds of muscle.  His upper body is now very developed, but his legs remain on the skinny side.  Smith is quick and agile for his size, and he plays with energy and effort.  He also has good stamina, averaging more than 31 minutes per game this season in the physical Big Ten, a conference that was loaded with talented big men.

This season, Smith was a first-team All-Big Ten and a Big Ten All-Defensive selection.  He averaged 15.5 points, 10.5 rebounds, and 2.4 blocks per game, with excellent shooting splits of .538/.368/.750.   He finished in the top 10 of the conference for numerous categories, including points per game, rebounds per game, true shooting percentage (62.6), PER (29.7 — 19th in DI), win shares (6.2 — 19th in DI), and BPM (12.0 — 4th in DI).  The only major area where he did not post at least average numbers was passing; he averaged just 0.8 assists per game, with an A/T ratio of 0.47.  

Smith ranked at the 96th percentile for overall PPP this season, with the majority of his offense coming from post-ups, rolls and cuts to the basket, put-backs, and pick-and-pop plays.  He vastly improved from deep this season, and features a smooth shooting stroke. The sophomore does not put the ball on the deck a lot, but he’s more than capable of attacking closeouts and going to the rim.  He can finish with either hand, gets to the free-throw line often (4.8 times per game), and makes a solid percentage from the charity stripe.  

In the post, Smith can be hampered by strong, physical players, likely due to a lack of lower-body strength.  He’s probably at his best down low when he uses his quickness and attacks the rim off the bounce.  He’s effective facing up, and can shoot hooks with either hand, though he is most efficient when turning with his right shoulder.  

Defensively, Smith needs to continue to build up his lower body to play in the paint at the next level.  Again, he plays with good energy and is not afraid to mix it up underneath the basket, but he can have a tough time getting leverage due to his build.  On the perimeter, he can have trouble, like anyone his size, but he has relatively quick feet and lateral movement.  In terms of PPP allowed, he ranked no worse than the 59th percentile when defending spot-up, pick-and-roll, and isolation plays this season.   

24.  Devon Dotson (PG)

  • Team:  Kansas
  • Age:  20.9
  • Height:  6-2
  • Weight:  185
  • Wingspan:  6-6
  • Vertical:  30 inches standing and 38.5 max

The Jazz rank in the top 11 in the NBA for both offensive and defensive efficiency, and they’re tied with the Heat for being the top 3-point shooting team in the league at 38.3 percent.  From a statistical standpoint, their biggest weakness has been their perimeter defense, as they have struggled against opponent’s screen-action plays.  Guard Jordan Clarkson is the team’s only significant free agent; he produces 15.6 points per game, but like fellow guard Mike Conley, he doesn’t offer a lot on the defensive end.  Emmanuel Mudiay is also a free agent, and the Jazz will be looking for someone to play behind Conley.  Utah could also certainly use a few big bodies, as none of the team’s forwards stand taller than 6-foot-8.  

An undersized point guard, Dotson is one of the quickest/fastest players in college basketball.  He’s a blur.  He’s also explosive vertically and has great body control.  The sophomore’s speed and tight handle make it very difficult for defenders to stay in front of him.  On the other end of the court, he is a tenacious on-ball defender, though his lack of size is certainly a concern at the next level.  

This season at Kansas, Dotson averaged 18.1 points, 4.1 rebounds, 4.0 assists, and 2.1 steals per game, with shooting splits of .468/.309/.830 and an A/T ratio of 1.64.  He led the Big 12 in points per game, steals per game, and win shares (6.3 — 13th in DI).  He also finished in the top ten of the conference in numerous other categories, including true shooting percentage (57.8), PER (25.4), and BPM (11.3 — 8th in DI).  For his efforts, he was named as an All-Big 12 and an All-American selection.  

Dotson is an excellent pick-and-roll handler, ranking at the 84th percentile for PPP.  He’s fearless going to the basket, can finish with either hand, and draws a lot of fouls (5.7 per game), but he needs to become more proficient with runners/floaters (48th percentile for PPP) to compensate for his lack of size.  He’s also smooth when pulling up, but he must improve from deep.  College defenders tended to give him space to shoot, fearing the drive, and he is going to have to take advantage of that at the next level.  He is also not the most creative and efficient playmaker, though that could improve as he becomes more of a 3-level threat.  

25.  Isaiah Stewart (C)

  • Team:  Washington
  • Age:  19.1
  • Height:  6-9
  • Weight:  250
  • Wingspan:  7-4
  • Vertical:  29 inches (standing) and 35 (max)

At this point in the draft, the Thunder might not find a player who ideally suits their needs, and may be forced to select the best player available.  They are averaging just 110.8 points per game, and they clearly need a couple of catch-shoot marksmen to complement their trio of playmaking guards.  Forward Danilo Gallinari is the top 3-point shooter on the team (40.9 percent), and he is a free agent at the end of the season.  On the other end of the court, OKC is in good shape.  The team ranks 8th in defensive efficiency, and is allowing just 108.3 points per game.  

The Thunder could be looking for a center because they may lose backup Nerlens Noel via free agency, and they could also use another stretch-forward type, even if Gallinari stays. 

Stewart is a strong, physical player, who plays with energy and dominated around the basket as a freshman at Washington.  He averaged 17.0 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 2.1 blocks per game.  He ranked in the top ten of the PAC 12 in many categories, including field-goal percentage (57.0), true shooting percentage (62.9), rebounding percentage (15.5), block percentage (7.0), PER (27.2), win shares (5.9), and BPM (7.4).  He also ranked at the 95th percentile for overall PPP.  

Nearly 50 percent of Stewart’s offensive possessions came in the post, where he ranked at the 93rd percentile for PPP.  He also did very well in transition and as a cutter and roller.  What he didn’t do well is shoot; he took just 34 jump shots this season, making only 11 (32.4 percent), including 5-of-20 from 3-point range.  

On defense, Stewart played in the Huskies’ 2-3 scheme, and 82 percent of his defensive possessions came while playing in zone.  It’s difficult to fully evaluate a defender who plays the majority of the time in zone, but we do know that Stewart is strong, long, and gives great effort.

26.  Daniel Oturu (C)

  • Team:  Minnesota
  • Age:  20.8
  • Height:  6-10
  • Weight:  240
  • Wingspan:  7-3
  • Vertical:  

The Celtics pick again, and they will likely be looking for potential scoring threats to bring off the bench, especially players with size.  

Daniel Oturu
Daniel Oturu (Photo courtesy of Minnesota Athletics)

Oturu is one of the more underrated prospects in this draft class.  This past season at Minnesota, he was named to both the All-Big Ten Team and the Big Ten All-Defensive Team, and he posted fantastic numbers in the process.  Playing 34 minutes per contest, Oturu averaged 20.1 points, 11.3 rebounds (8th in DI), and 2.5 blocks per game (20th in DI), with shooting splits of .563/.365/.707.  He also ranked among the top 20 in the nation for PER (30.9 — 12th) and BPM (11.1 — 11th).  On the down side, he averaged just 1.1 assists per game, with an A/T ratio of 0.39, and he will need to improve as a passer if he wants to get regular minutes in the NBA.  

Oturu is a two-way player, who can score at all three levels on the offensive end.  A tad on the lanky side, he has quick feet and solid agility for his size, and he plays with awareness and energy.  Athletically, he will never be confused with a wing, but his combination size and skill is impressive.  Overall for PPP this season, he ranked at the 91st percentile, and he ranked no worse than the 72nd percentile for post-up, spot-up and isolation scoring.  He is not a speedy ball handler, but has a fairly quick first step for a big man.  He can put the ball on the floor, drive, and pull up for jumpers; he even uses the Euro-step on occasion.  His jump shot is a bit stiff and slow, and he’s clearly better when catching and shooting, as opposed to taking jumpers off the bounce.  

On the defensive end, Oturu has good mobility and can cover a lot of ground; he is quick to close out and block shots from the weak side.  He generally forces the opposition to take difficult shots, even on the perimeter, such as deep 3s and midrange fade-aways.  The 20-year-old switches seamlessly when defending the pick and roll, and even when dropping, he does a good job of contesting the pick-and-pop.  He is still young and is not immune to common defensive mistakes, such as leaving his feet and ball watching, but he generally displays good IQ on this end of the court, and is able to defend without fouling.  

27.  Xavier Tillman (PF)

  • Team:  Michigan State
  • Age:  21.4
  • Height:  6-8
  • Weight:  245
  • Wingspan:  7-1
  • Vertical:  29 inches (standing), 36.5 (max)

Chances are that the Knicks will address the point-guard spot with their first pick, and their remaining picks will likely be used on non-guards, preferably ones that can shoot from deep.  

Tillman is a physical, energetic and efficient player, who is strong, fairly athletic, and an excellent defender.  He hustles, scraps, and does all the little things that help a team win.  His defining game came in his sophomore season, when he went toe-to-toe with Duke’s Zion Williamson in the 2019 Elite Eight.  In that contest, he never backed down and checked Williamson with physicality and relentless effort.  Zion finished with 24 points and 14 boards, but Tillman’s team came away with the victory and a Final Four berth, thanks in part to his 19 points, nine rebounds, three steals, and two blocks.  

This season as a junior, Tillman had a terrific overall stat line, averaging 13.7 points, 10.3 boards, 3.0 assists, 1.2 steals, and 2.1 blocks per game, with shooting splits of .550/.260/.667 and an A/T ratio of 1.52.  He did this while playing in the Big Ten, a conference loaded with talented big men, and arguably the toughest in college basketball this season.  Tillman ranked among the top 10 of the conference in numerous categories, including true shooting percentage (59.3), rebounding percentage (17.5), block percentage (6.9), defensive rating (85.7), PER (27.0), win shares (6.0), and BPM (12.6 — 1st in DI).  

Offensively, Tillman is somewhat limited.  He is most efficient as a cutter and roller, and he will probably not be asked to do much more than that in terms of half-court scoring at the NBA level.  He also has good speed getting up and down the court, and is an excellent finisher in transition.  Additionally, he sets terrific screens, and is a smart and alert passer.  He can occasionally knock down a three, and is a career 70-percent free-throw shooter, so he may eventually become an effective pick-and-pop option, too.  

The reigning Big Ten Defensive POY, Tillman will definitely be an asset for an NBA team on the other end of the court.  He has the strength and mobility to defend both inside and out, and is a tenacious rebounder, consistently boxing out.  He is very physical underneath the basket, but is crafty as well.  He will need that craftiness at the next level because he will be unable to bully opponents nearly as much as he did at Michigan State.  

28.  Nico Mannion (PG)

  • Team:  Arizona
  • Age:  19.3
  • Height:  6-3
  • Weight:  190
  • Wingspan:  6-3
  • Vertical:  

With the third best winning percentage (71.9) and point differential (6.5) in the NBA, the Raptors are currently in very good shape.  Their strength has been their defense, which ranks second in the league for efficiency.  Offensively, there is room for improvement, however.  Toronto is averaging a modest 113 points per game (tied for 11th), and the team has especially struggled to score on the inside, averaging just 47.3 points in the paint (ranked 18th).  

Age and potential free-agent losses would dictate that the Raptors should be looking for a young point guard and a center.  In the offseason, the team could lose five key contributors via free agency, four of whom are front-court players: centers Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka, forwards Chris Boucher and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, and guard Fred VanVleet.  The Raptors can unlikely afford to keep all five, and the 35-year-old Gasol, who is near the end of his career, would seem to be the least likely to be re-signed.  Given that Kyle Lowry is 34 years old, and VanVleet may not be back, point guard is also an area of concern.  

Mannion was not overly impressive as a freshman at Arizona, and I am not as high on him as most.  He has a solid handle plus good vision and instincts as a playmaker, but he is not overly dynamic or explosive.  He averaged 5.3 assists per game (2nd in the PAC 12) this season, with an A/T ratio of 2.06 (5th in the PAC 12).  He is also very capable of playing off the ball, using constant motion and hard cuts to get open.  At the same time, he displays the ability to smoothly and quickly shoot jumpers, whether it is catching and shooting off screens or pulling up off the dribble.  His shooting mechanics are solid, and he is very good from the free-throw line (79.7 percent), but he struggled from deep this season, making just 32.7 percent of his 3-point attempts.  

Mannion’s lack of size, length, and athleticism hamper his game. He made less than 45 percent of his 2-point attempts at Arizona.  Jumpers and floaters/runners accounted for nearly 89 percent of his half-court shots because he struggled to get deep into the paint when driving, and when he did get near the rim, he had trouble finishing.  In 32 games this season, the freshman took only 46 half-court shots within seven feet, making 19 for a meager 41.3 percent.  Even when taking into account all of his half-court shots around the basket, including longer runners/floaters, he made just 36-of-88 (40.9 percent). 

Defensively, Mannion generally does a good job of sticking with his man, but he doesn’t have the length or explosiveness to make many impact plays.  He averaged just 1.47 steals and blocks combined per 40 minutes this season.  He also ranked last on his own team for rebounding percentage (4.4) and defensive rating (96.4), but on the plus side, in terms of PPP allowed, he was below average in only one area (isolation, 28th percentile).  

29.  Vernon Carey (C)

  • Team:  Duke
  • Age:  19.3
  • Height:  6-10
  • Weight:  270
  • Wingspan:  7-0
  • Vertical:  

With the best record (49-14) in the Western Conference, the Lakers are clearly focused on winning titles now.  The current team has been strong on both ends of the court, and the only area of concern would be its mediocre jump shooting; the Lakers rank 17th in the league with a 3-point percentage of 35.5.  

Age and free agency are likely foremost on the minds of the Lakers’ braintrust.  The current roster features eight players who will be at least 30 years old next season, and seven regular contributors could leave at the end of the season: Anthony Davis ($28,751,774 player option), Dwight Howard, Markieff Morris, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope ($8,493,746 player option), Avery Bradley ($5,005,350 player option), JaVale McGee ($4,200,000 player option), and Rajon Rondo ($2,692,991 player option).  Keeping Davis will obviously be the team’s top priority, and I expect Caldwell-Pope, Bradley, McGee, and Rondo to accept their player options, leaving Howard and Morris as the two players most likely to leave.  

Carey is a big and powerful center, who dominated in the paint at Duke this season.  Playing just 24.8 minutes per game, he averaged 17.8 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks per game.  His field-goal percentage of 57.7 topped the ACC, as did his numbers for PER (34.6 — 3rd in DI), win shares (5.7), and BPM (11.3 — 9th in DI).  He also ranked at the 95th percentile for overall PPP, with 59.3 percent of his possessions coming from post-up plays and put-backs.  A good portion of Carey’s points came from the foul line, as the big guy was fouled on 25 percent of his possessions and went to the charity stripe more than seven times per game.   

The concern with Carey is that he relied so much on bullying people at Duke, and his game might not translate to the modern NBA.  For starters, he has a lot to prove as a jump shooter.  The freshman had a nice percentage from deep (38.1), but he averaged just 0.7 3-point attempts per game, and the majority of those were unguarded, catch-and-shoot attempts; when shooting guarded jumpers this season, he made just 3-of-15.  Carey’s shooting mechanics need some work, including the economy of his motion and the speed of his release.  

There are also concerns about Carey’s ability to defend.  I would not say that he is plodding, but he definitely has some mobility issues, plus he lacks length.  He is not an elite shot blocker, and he struggles when he is away from the rim.  This season, he had a modest block percentage of 5.8, and he allowed 0.94 PPP, which ranked at the 21st percentile.  He especially struggled vs. the pick and roll, which is something that he will need to fix at the next level.  I suspect that whoever drafts Carey will encourage him to drop some weight so that he becomes lighter on his feet.  

30.  Paul Reed (PF)

  • Team:  DePaul
  • Age:  21.0
  • Height:  6-9
  • Weight:  220
  • Wingspan:  7-2
  • Vertical:  

This is the Celtics’ third pick in the first round.

Reed may be the most underrated player in the 2020 draft.  First and foremost, he is an excellent defender and rebounder.  He has a great combination of length and mobility, and he is quick to recover, close out, and block shots from the weak side.  He hustles all over the floor, and he’s not afraid to defend well past the 3-point line.  This past season, the junior averaged 10.7 rebounds, 1.9 steals, and 2.6 blocks per game, ranking second in the Big East in all three categories.  Per 40 minutes, he averaged 5.6 steals and blocks, which put him at the 99th percentile among this year’s draft prospects.  He also had a defensive rating of 87.6, which was the best in the Big East and 38th in DI.  

Offensively, Reed is not spectacular, but he is effective, making good use of his length, mobility, and agility.  He has great body control around the rim, and he has a soft touch with his jump hooks and runners.  This season, he averaged 15.1 points per game, with solid shooting splits of .516/.308/.738, and he ranked at the 77th percentile for overall PPP.  The 20-year-old runs the floor very well, and is a very good finisher in transition (73rd percentile for PPP).  He is also an effective scorer as a cutter, roller, post-up player, and offensive rebounder, ranking no worse than the 53rd percentile for PPP in any of those categories.  

Reed appears to have some untapped offensive potential.  His handle can be a bit shaky, but he is capable of shooting off the bounce and scoring in isolation.  His biggest weakness is his jump shooting (43rd percentile for PPP).  His mechanics are not the prettiest — when shooting, his body has a little too much backward lean, and his shoulders are often not square to the rim.  Also, he appears to shoot on the way down on occasion.  His percentage from deep needs to improve, but he’s fairly reliable from midrange (57th percentile for PPP).  Also, his career free-throw percentage of 73.9 bodes well for him to improve his 3-point percentage in the future.  

Second Round

 

31.  Jaden McDaniels

  • Team:  Washington
  • Age:  19.7
  • Height:  6-10
  • Weight:  200
  • Wingspan:  7-0
  • Vertical:  

Assuming the Mavs land the power forward that they need in the first round, look for them to add a wing with good size or a mobile backup center with shot-blocking ability at this spot.  

McDaniels is a boom-or-bust prospect, who could go anywhere in between pick 15 and 45 in this draft.  Standing at 6-foot-10 and having wing-like skills, he came to Washington as a consensus top-10 recruit, but he has been slipping down draft boards ever since due to inconsistent play.  

Most of McDaniels’ struggles involved effort, attitude, and decision-making.  He led the Huskies in both turnovers per game (3.2) and fouls per game (3.3), while ranking seventh on the team for field-goal percentage and eighth for BPM (2.6).  He fouled out eight times, despite Washington playing zone defense for the majority of the season, and he picked up six technical fouls.  Ultimately, he was removed from the starting lineup in late January, coming off the bench in ten of the team’s last 12 games.  

For the season, McDaniels averaged 13.0 points, 5.8 rebounds, 2.1 assists, and 2.2 steals+blocks per game.  He had subpar shooting splits of .405/.339/.763 and a poor A/T ratio (0.65), but he did rank sixth in the PAC 12 for block percentage (4.9).  In terms of overall PPP, he ranked at the 41st percentile, especially struggling in transition and isolation.  The one area where he did excel was as a catch-and-shoot jump shooter, ranking at the 83rd percentile.  

32.  Cassius Stanley (W)

  • Team:  Duke
  • Age:  20.8
  • Height:  6-6
  • Weight:  195
  • Wingspan:  6-7
  • Vertical:  46 inches (max)

The Hornets need for rim protection is an obvious flaw at the heart of their defense, but in any draft, teams must remain cognizant of value. Vernon Carey and Paul Reed were just selected ahead of this pick, and it’s best not to reach to fill a need. There has never been a more robust or cost-effective market in today’s free agency for traditional centers. In other words, the Hornets can be patient here and make a “best available” type of selection to continue acquiring promising young talent.

Another factor to consider is that the Hornets have a decision to make on restricted free agent Dwayne Bacon this summer, and Malik Monk the following year. Nicolas Batum is entering the last year of his multiyear deal, and the Hornets could do well to bring in another young wing to compete with Cody and Caleb Martin for rotational minutes.

At pick 31, the Hornets come away with a terrific project in Cassius Stanley.

Stanley’s physical profile is nothing short of incredible. He’s 6’6 with a 46-inch vertical leap, and he would inject a combination of size and athleticism that Charlotte lacks in the wing position. He is, simply put, an athletic outlier.  Second-round picks are never guaranteed, but Stanley is a terrific bet based on his physical and statistical profile. His raw shooting splits are solid (.474/.360/.733), and as you dig deeper, he scores 1.09 PPP on all catch-and-shoot jumpers, which is at the 87th percentile. Stanley is electric in transition (1.28 PPP, 88th percentile). The freshman shows functional athleticism with his ability to make tough catches and finishes in traffic, and routinely making thunderous put-back and breakaway dunks.

Stanley is an elite athlete, efficient when catching and shooting, and a solid overall defender (allows 0.71 PPP, 84 percentile), and this paints a logical roadmap to rotational success as an NBA wing.  However, he must continue to improve as a jump shooter if he hopes to evolve into an elite offensive player; he particularly struggles shooting off the dribble. NBA opponents will try to run him off the 3-point line and force him into uncomfortable situations, such as shooting pull-ups or making decisions as a distributor — another area where he struggles (A/T ratio of 0.56).

— LB

33.  Leandro Bolmaro (G)

  • Team:  FC Barcelona
  • Age:  19.8
  • Height:  6-7
  • Weight:  200
  • Wingspan:  6-8
  • Vertical:  

Having two of the first 16 selections, the Timberwolves can swing for the fences at pick 33, and a draft-and-stash prospect would be ideal, if there is one available who is worthy of this slot.

Bolmaro is a big point guard, who could also be used as a wing.  His primary strengths are his size, IQ, vision, passing, handle, and defensive hustle.  He has good quickness and speed, but lacks vertical explosiveness and length. He is on the lanky side, but has a solid frame that can afford more muscle.  Expect him to be selected between pick 25 and 35, but if he indicates that he’ll stay in Spain for at least a year, he may go higher. In other words, his value increases if he is willing to go the draft-and-stash route.  

Signed by FC Barcelona in 2018, Bolmaro was promoted to the senior team this past fall.  Playing in both the Spanish ACB and EuroLeague was a huge jump for the youngster, and he struggled to get minutes, sitting on the bench for nearly a month between December and January.  He was then moved down to Barcelona’s LEB Silver team (Spain’s third division), and played there between January 11 until March 8, when league play was suspended due to the COVID virus.  With the ACB recently resuming, Bolmaro was called up to the senior team, and he saw 9-plus minutes of action on June 17.

In nine games in the LEB Silver League, Bolmaro averaged 14.9 points, 2.7 boards, 3.6 assist, and 1.8 steals, with shooting splits of .450/.281/.643 and an A/T ratio of 1.28.  The 19-year-old Argentinian has a nifty handle, and penetration is his main form of attack.  He is comfortable driving either direction, has a solid floater game, and finishes through contact, but he rarely finishes his off (left) hand.  The youngster is a dynamic and creative passer, capable of threading the needle with either hand, though, again, he clearly favors using his right.  Offensively, the main concern is his shooting — in his three seasons as a pro (at a variety of levels), he has made just 28.4 percent of his 3-point attempts and 66.7 percent of his free throws.  

On the other end of the court, Bolmaro is an energetic defender, playing with his hands up and active feet, while keeping his head on a swivel.  He plays tight on the ball, and moves very well laterally.  He actually can be a bit too aggressive, and he makes typical mistakes that one would expect from a 19-year-old playing professional ball, such as not paying attention to the ball and his man at the same time, biting hard on ball fakes, and committing silly fouls.  His lack of length and vertical is evident on the defensive end, as he is not much a rebounder or a shot blocker, but he has excellent anticipation and thrives as a ball thief.   

34.  Immanuel Quickley (SG)

  • Team:  Kentucky
  • Age:  21.0
  • Height:  6-3
  • Weight:  190
  • Wingspan:  6-10
  • Vertical:  32 inches standing, 37 max

As noted above, the Sixers could use players to boost their sluggish offense.  Quickly, one of the more underrated players in this draft, is athletic and long, can shoot the lights out, and plays excellent defense.  

Read more:  Immanuel Quickley Scouting Report

35.  Udoka Azubuike (C)

  • Team:  Kansas
  • Age:  20.8
  • Height:  7-0
  • Weight:  270
  • Wingspan:  7-7
  • Vertical:  31 inches standing, 31.5 max

As noted above, the Kings are in need of a rim protector/rebounder, but they may not have many to choose from at this spot.  

Azubuike is a huge man, and has the game of an old-school center.  A young senior, he finished off his career at Kansas in impressive fashion, being named the Big 12 POY and a Consensus All-America selection.  He averaged 13.7 points, 10.5 rebounds (1st in the conference), and 2.6 blocks (2nd in the conference) per game. For the third straight season, he had a field-goal percentage greater than 70 percent, leading all of DI with a mark of 74.8, and finishing his career as the NCAA’s all-time career leader at 74.6 percent.  He also finished this season ninth in DI with a PER of 31.3, ranked second in the nation with a BPM of 12.4, and ranked at the 97th percentile for points per possession.

So, how does a player who makes three out of every four shots and averages more than 10 boards and two blocks per game fall to the second round?  That’s today’s NBA, and Azubuike is likely destined to be a situational player.  He is not light on his feet, and struggles to defend on the perimeter.  He also offers nothing as a jump shooter.  He took only three jumpers this season, all within 17 feet, making one, and he never attempted a three-pointer in his four years at Kansas.  Also, he struggles mightily from the free-throw line despite working on his mechanics throughout his career — this season, he shot a career high of 44.1 percent from the charity stripe.  

36.  Malachi Flynn (PG)

  • Team:  San Diego State
  • Age:  22.1
  • Height:  6-2
  • Weight:  185
  • Wingspan:  6-3
  • Vertical:  

If the Sixers permanently move Shake Milton into the starting lineup, they’ll need a backup point guard.

A transfer from Washington State, Flynn led the Aztecs to a 30-2 record, and as the regular-season Mountain West Conference champions, they would have been one of the top-seeded teams in the NCAA Tournament had it been played.  For the season, Flynn averaged 17.6 points, 4.5 rebounds, 5.1 assists, and 1.8 steals per game, with shooting splits of .441/.373/.857 and an outstanding A/T ratio of 2.84.  He led the MWC in a number of departments, including assist percentage (30.7), steal percentage (3.2), win shares (7.6 — 1st in DI), and BPM (11.7 — 6th in DI).  He also finished in the top 10 of the conference in numerous other categories, including a PER of 28.1 and a true shooting percentage of 58.3.  For his efforts, Flynn was named the MWC POY, the MWC Defensive POY, and a second-team All-American.  

While there are concerns about his lack of size and length on the defensive end at the next level, Flynn certainly appears to have what it takes to provide an offensive spark off the bench at point guard.  He is a legitimate three-level scorer, with a tight handle, good speed and quickness, and excellent body control.  He can shoot on the move off the catch and off the bounce.  He gets great elevation on his jumpers, and has an explosive step-back move.  He can finish effectively with either hand, and is consistent with floaters.  He also is a good playmaker.  In terms of PPP when handling in the pick and roll this season, he ranked at the 97th percentile for scoring and derived offense combined (the result of passes).  He also ranked above the 80th percentile for both catch-and-shoot and off-the-dribble jumpers.  Overall as a scorer, he ranked at the 92nd percentile.

37.  Tre Jones (PG)

  • Team:  Duke
  • Age:  20.5
  • Height:  6-3
  • Weight:  185
  • Wingspan:  6-4
  • Vertical:  

The state of affairs in Washington should dictate that Wizards take the best player available.

The younger brother of Tyus Jones, Tre is one of the safer picks in this draft — a high-floor, low-ceiling prospect.  Jones is a true floor general, who is smart, fundamentally sound, and excels as a playmaker and defender.  As a sophomore at Duke this season, he took his game to a new level, averaging 16.2 points, 4.2 rebounds, 6.4 assists, and 1.8 steals per game, with solid shooting splits (.423/.361/.771) and an excellent A/T ratio (2.37).  He finished in the top five of the ACC for both win shares (5.0) and BPM (8.2), and was named both the conference POY and Defensive POY.  

Offensively, Jones is somewhat limited by a lack of size, length, and athleticism, and he needs to improve as a jump shooter if he wants to get regular minutes in the NBA.  In terms of PPP, few were better for points+assists per possession (91st percentile), but many of his other PPP numbers were average.  In the half-court, the 20-year-old ranked at the 56th percentile as a jump shooter, the 66th percentile with runners/floaters, and at the 12th percentile on shots around the basket (not including runners/floaters).  Given his physical limitations, he will likely never be a great finisher at the rim, which is why the development of his outside shooting is important, especially off the dribble.  This season, he was far more effective on the catch-and-shoot (82nd percentile) than shooting off the bounce (50th percentile).  

Defensively, Jones stood out in terms of PPP allowed, ranking at the 91st percentile.  He’s a tenacious, in-your-face type of defender that is difficult to shake even vs. screen action.  His lack of size and length is a concern, but he should at least be an adequate defender at the next level due to his quick feet, agility, and effort.  

38.  Jordan Nwora (SF)

  • Team:  Louisville
  • Age:  21.8
  • Height:  6-7
  • Weight:  225
  • Wingspan:  6-11
  • Vertical:  

The Knicks rank 27th in the league for 3-point percentage, and should be looking for a sharpshooting wing in the second round.

An All-ACC selection for two straight seasons, Nwora is a big wing, whose strengths are his perimeter shooting and rebounding.  He emerged as a star as a sophomore in 2018-19, but he didn’t quite live up to his preseason expectations as a junior, producing similar numbers to the season before.  For the 2019-20 season, he averaged 18.0 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 1.3 assists per game, with shooting splits of .440/.402/.812.  

Most of Nwora’s offense is typically derived from off-ball movement, and he is mainly a spot-up shooter.  He is not very effective at creating off the dribble, or shooting off the dribble, for that matter.  What he excels at is shooting off the catch, and in terms of PPP, he ranked at the 94th percentile on catch-and-shoot jumpers this season.  He shoots the ball with very good elevation and a natural fade, and he has a knack for knocking down shots with a hand in his face.  His height helps in this area as well.  One area where he must improve is his A/T ratio — he had a career high of 0.62 this season.  He tends to throw sloppy passes and dribble too much.

Defensively, Nwora has improved since his freshman season, but he is still average at best.  He’s not a bad athlete overall, but he is slow in terms of lateral movement and changing direction. He also produces very few steals and blocks for his size and length (1.2 combined per 40 minutes).  Lastly, his effort and focus can wane on this end of the floor. 

39.  Zeke Nnaji (PF)

  • Team:  Arizona
  • Age:  19.5
  • Height:  6-11
  • Weight:  240
  • Wingspan:  7-1
  • Vertical:  35.5 inches max

Due free agency, the Pelicans may lose both Derrick Favors and Jahlil Okafor, and they will most certainly draft at least one big man.  

Prior to the season, Nnaji was not nearly as hyped as his fellow Arizona freshmen, point guard Nico Mannion and wing Josh Green, but the 6-foot-11 power forward proved to be the Wildcats’ most consistent and productive player.  Nnaji averaged 16.1 points and 8.6 rebounds per game, with shooting splits of .570/.294/.760.  He finished in the top 10 of the PAC 12 for true shooting percentage (63.0), rebounding percentage (15.9), PER (26.1), win shares (2.1), and BPM (8.0), and he earned All-PAC 12 first-team selection.  On the down side, he averaged just 0.8 assists per game, with a dismal A/T ratio of 0.39.

Nnaji is a mobile big man, with good end-to-end speed for his size and a smooth jump shot from midrange.  The vast majority of his offense this season came in the paint; in fact, 243 of his 314 shots (77.4 percent) came within 10 feet, and he made 60.1 percent of those attempts.  Cuts, post-ups, and put-backs accounted for 66.7 percent of his possessions, and he excelled in the latter two categories, ranking at the 86th and 82nd percentile, respectively, for PPP.  He also was excellent in transition, ranking at the 96th percentile.  As a jumper shooter, he showed little ability to shoot off the bounce, and he struggled from deep.  However, he was very good inside the 3-point line, making 42 percent of his jumpers, and as a pick-and-pop option, he ranked at the 59th percentile for PPP.  

The main concern about Nnaji is where he will play at the next level. As a center, he doesn’t offer much in terms of rim protection; he lacks great length, and doesn’t have a lot of vertical pop, especially when standing.  He produced just 2.1 steals+blocks per 40 minute at Arizona.  As a forward, I believe that he has adequate mobility to defend on the perimeter, but he needs to expand his range as a shooter. The freshman currently displays little ability as a driver, shot creator, and playmaker, making his jump shot all the more important.  

40.  Elijah Hughes (W)

  • Team:  Syracuse
  • Age:  22.3
  • Height:  6-6
  • Weight:  215
  • Wingspan:  
  • Vertical:  

The Grizzlies have overachieved this season, and are currently eighth in the Western Conference standings, holding a three and one-half game lead over three teams tied for ninth, with eight games to go.  Statistically, Memphis has been slightly better defensively (ranked 15th for efficiency) than offensively (ranked 20th).  Specifically, the Grizzlies have struggled to make jump shots and stop opposing shooters.  They rank 21st in 3-point percentage (35.2), and on the other end of the court, they are allowing opponents to make 36.3 percent from the 3-point line (ranked 22nd).  Point forward Justise Winslow, acquired from Miami at the trade deadline, has yet to play for Memphis due to injury; eventually, he should help the team’s perimeter defense, but with a career 3-point percentage of 33.7, he’s unlikely to boost the club in the shooting department.  

With no significant unrestricted free agents, look for the Grizzlies to use their lone pick on a 3-and-D wing as a potential replacement for either Kyle Anderson or De’Anthony Melton, both of whom struggle from deep.  

Elijah Hughes
Elijah Hughes (Photo courtesy of Syracuse Athletics)

For two straight years, Hughes was Syracuse’s most effective and consistent player.  This season, he had to carry a heavy load for a subpar Orange squad, and the red-shirt junior averaged 19.0 points, 4.9 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 2.0 steals and blocks combined per game.  He had solid shooting splits (.427/.342/.813) and A/T ratio (1.49).  An All-ACC first-team selection, he led the conference in scoring and finished in the top 10 for PER (22.7) and win shares (5.0).  

Hughes is a big and strong wing, who has solid athleticism and a nice shooting stroke.  Most of his possessions (64 percent) this season came via isolation, spot-up plays, or transition.  In terms of PPP, he respectively ranked at the 70th, 85th, and 85th percentiles in those categories.  Hughes is not an elite ball handler and doesn’t attack the rim often, preferring to pull up or step back — jumpers accounted for 70 percent of his half-court shots.  He features a quick release and deep range.  He also shoots with a high arc, and has nice rotation on the ball.  As Syracuse’s primary offensive threat this season, his 3-point percentage dipped a bit (36.9 in 2018-19), and he also took a number of jumpers that had a high-degree of difficulty.  For the season, he took 120 jumpers off the bounce, which was the 80th most in DI (more than 3,500 players took at least one), and he ranked at the 72nd percentile in terms of PPP. 

Defensively, it’s difficult to gauge Hughes’ ability.  He played in zone 98.6 percent of the time this season.  Typically, he did a very good job of keeping his man in front of him and challenging shots, and he generally played with energy and enthusiasm.  He was average in terms of steals+blocks per 40 minutes (2.2), but he was slowed by a groin injury for part of the season.  He also averaged nearly 37 minutes per game, and was the team’s main offensive weapon, both of which had to hurt his defensive effort.   

41.  Killian Tillie (PF)

  • Team:  Gonzaga
  • Age:  22.3
  • Height:  6-10
  • Weight:  220
  • Wingspan:  6-11
  • Vertical:  

As noted above, due to age and free agency, the Spurs could use help at nearly every position, but their frontcourt appears to be especially weak.  

Tillie is a versatile stretch four, who can also play the center position.  He has a high basketball IQ — he doesn’t take bad shots, makes timely passes, and doesn’t turn the ball over.  His strength is his sweet shooting stroke that is economical and features a quick release; he made at least 40 percent of his 3-point attempts in each of his four seasons at Gonzaga.  The Frenchman excels on the catch-and-shoot, but he can also knock down jumpers on the move, pulling up in transition, shooting off screens, and knocking down turnaround fadeaways in the post.  He is also an excellent scoring option off the pick and roll, effective when popping or rolling.  His back-to-the-basket game includes drop steps and right-hand hooks and runners; he is effective turning with either shoulder, but he clearly likes to set up on the right block.  

This season as a senior, Tillie was a first-team All-WCC selection.  He averaged 13.6 points, 5.0 rebounds, 1.9 assists, and 1.8 steals+blocks per game.  He had excellent shooting splits (.535/.400/.726), and a terrific A/T ratio (1.88) for a big man.  He also ranked at the 98th percentile for overall PPP, with 65 percent of his offense coming from spot-up (75th percentile), pick-and-roll (92nd percentile), and post-up (93rd percentile) plays.  

One of the main concerns about Tillie is his injury history.  As a junior, he missed the first 15 games of the season following surgery to repair a stress fracture in his right ankle.  He saw limited action in 15 games, and was shut down near the end of the season due to a partially torn ligament in his right foot.  As a senior, he was eased back into action, and was hampered by a sore left ankle for much of the season.  In total, he missed nine games this season, and he appeared to be somewhat out of shape, looking significantly heavier than his listed weight of 220.  

Tillie’s last completely healthy season came in 2017-18 as a sophomore.  He was leaner and quicker, and it showed in many of his numbers.  That season, he finished in the top five of the WCC for field-goal percentage (58.0), true shooting percentage (66.9), defensive rating (93.6), PER (23.8), win sharers (5.6), and BPM (9.6).

The other concern about Tillie is that he is a tweener — he’s not an elite rebounder or shot blocker, like a typical center, and he may not have the foot speed to play at the four spot at the next level.  With all of his injuries and the extra weight that he appears to be carrying, a lack of speed and quickness has been evident on the perimeter.  He can be a step slow on rotations and closeouts, and is not the fastest up and down the court.  On the bright side, he did average a respectable 3.0 steals+blocks per 40 minutes this season, and if he can maintain his health and regain his conditioning, he may develop into a solid all-around defender.   

42.  Tyrell Terry (PG)

  • Team:  Stanford
  • Age:  19.7
  • Height:  6-2
  • Weight:  160
  • Wingspan:  
  • Vertical:  

This will be the Kings’ third pick in the draft, and assuming that they address their front-court issues with their earlier selections, their remaining picks may used on potential replacements for Bogdan Bogdanovic (RFA), Kent Bazemore, and Yogi Ferrell, all of whom could leave via free agency.  

Terry is a dynamic playmaker and scorer, who plays with a high degree of flash and excels as a shooter from deep.  I believe that he’s at least a year away from being ready for the NBA, but I appear to be in the minority.  He came to Standard as the 88th ranked recruit in the RSCI, and the expectations were reasonably low for his freshman season.  However, he started garnering serious attention around Christmas, after scoring 20 or more points five times during an eight-game stretch.  Toward the end of the season, during tough conference play, he hit a dry spell, scoring more than 14 points just once in the final eight games, including a 6-point effort in a critical loss to California in the first round of the PAC-12 Tournament. 

On the season, Terry averaged 14.7 points, 4.5 rebounds, 3.2 assists, and 1.4 steals.  He had impressive shooting splits (.441/.408/.891), but a subpar A/T ratio (1.21) for a point guard.  In terms of PPP, he ranked at the 81st percentile overall, with 78 percent of his offense coming from handling in the pick and roll (77th percentile), transition (71st percentile), and spot-up plays (61st percentile).  Nearly 71 percent of his half-court shots were jumpers, and though he has a reputation for deep, off-the-dribble 3s, he was far better when catching and shooting (99th percentile) than shooting off bounce (50th percentile).  The 19-year-old did not go to the rim often, and he doesn’t have a reliable floater game, but he made a good percentage (55.0) within seven feet in the half court, largely due to his impressive body control and touch. 

Defensively, Terry’s lack of size is a huge concern.  He blocked just two shots all season, and averaged just 1.8 steals+blocks per 40 minutes.  Jump shooters did not have too much trouble shooting over him, and drivers could outmuscle him around the rim.  Terry also had his share of issues as a team defender, lacking basic awareness and getting lost around screens.  

43.  Tyler Bey (F)

  • Team:  Colorado
  • Age:  22.4
  • Height:  6-7
  • Weight:  220
  • Wingspan:  7-1
  • Vertical:  

This will be the Pelicans third pick of the draft, and if they focus on a particular need, it should be their defense, which ranks at 28th for points allowed in the paint.  

Bey greatly improved his draft stock this season as a junior at Colorado, and with added muscle, I believe that he could be effective as a small-ball four in the NBA.  He has great length, good speed and quickness, and vertical explosiveness. 

During his three years at Colorado, Bey has made consistent progress each season, which is always a good sign.  As a sophomore, he was named the PAC 12’s Most Improved Player and was a first-team All-PAC 12 selection.  This season, the quality of play in the conference increased significantly, and Bey slipped to the second-team All-PAC 12, but at the same time, he was named to the All-Defensive team and won Defensive POY.  He also became a threat from the 3-point line for the first time in his career.  

On the season, Bey averaged 13.8 points, 9.0 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.6 steals, and 1.2 blocks per game, with shooting splits of .530/.419/.743.  The junior finished in the top 10 of the conference in numerous categories, including true shooting percentage (61.1), rebounding percentage (18.4), defensive rating (84.9), PER (27.3), and BPM (10.1).  

As an offensive player, Bey’s game resembles that of a big.  He is not overly adept off the bounce and much of his offense is derived.  He also struggles with turnovers (2.4 per game), and though he flashes nifty passing ability, he tends to force the action (A/T ratio of 0.61).  In terms of overall PPP, the 22-year-old ranked at the 85th percentile this season.  More than 50 percent of his possessions came from either post-up plays or cuts, and he was above average in those areas, making 55.9 percent of his shots.  The majority of the rest of his offense came from spot-up plays, transition, and put-backs, and collectively, he was above average in those areas as well.  He was at his best as a jump shooter (91st percentile), but jumpers accounted for less than 22 percent of his half-court shots (50 attempts), and nearly all of them were of the standing, catch-and-shoot variety. 

Defensively, Bey’s athleticism, length, and energy are on full display, and he has the versatility to guard multiple positions.   For two consecutive seasons, he ranked in the top 20 of DI for both defensive rating and defensive rebounding percentage.  He also produced 3.7 steals+blocks per 40 minutes this season, which put him at 93rd percentile among all draft prospects.  The junior can get bullied in the paint, which is why he needs to add more muscle.  He also can gamble a bit too much, and he has a tendency to give shooters too much space, but overall, he is a very good defender.  

44.  Robert Woodard (F)

  • Team:  Mississippi State
  • Age:  20.8
  • Height:  6-7
  • Weight:  235
  • Wingspan:  7-1
  • Vertical:  

The Trail Blazers have a host of forwards and wings who could leave via free agency — Carmelo Anthony, Rodney Hood ($6,003,900 player option), Mario Hezonja ($1,977,011 player option), Trevor Ariza ($12,800,000 partially guaranteed salary), Wenyen Gabriel (RFA), and Jaylen Hoard (RFA) —  and some may not be asked to return. 

I am not nearly as high on Woodard as some, but there is plenty to like about the prospect.  He has great size for a wing, and is solidly built, and his future may be as a small-ball four.  He has plenty of vertical pop, and is known for his impressive dunks.  He also greatly improved as a 3-point shooter this season.  Overall this season, he averaged 11.4 points, 6.6 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1.1 steals, and 1.0 blocks per game, with shooting splits of .495/.429/.641.  

Woodard was not a focal point of the Bulldogs’ offense, which featured power forward Reggie Perry and was led by point guard Nick Weatherspoon.  Woodard was mainly used as a spot-up and off-screen shooter and a cutter.  In terms of PPP, he excelled as the latter (86th percentile), and was average as a shooter, ranking at the 49th and 47th percentiles respectively, in the two different departments.  The sophomore very rarely tried to create his own offense or attack the rim off the bounce, and when he did, the results were generally not positive.  His jump shot appears fundamentally sound, and he gets nice elevation on those shots, but a good portion of his success came from unguarded catch-and shoot opportunities.  Overall as a jump shooter, he ranked at the 63rd percentile for PPP. 

There are other concerns in addition to Woodard’s limited scoring abilities.  He has suspect hands, fumbling his share of passes, and he is not much of a playmaker (A/T ratio of 0.69).  He also lacks aggression and urgency in nearly every way; typical examples include: not demanding the ball, not cutting hard to get open, not making many impact plays on defense (2.6 steals+blocks per 40 minutes), not being overly physical in the paint, and being casual on closeouts.  On the defensive end, he struggled for two straight seasons defending spot-up shooters, ranking at the 35th percentile for PPP allowed this year.  Overall, the 20-year-old was not outstanding in terms of productivity (PER of 18.5, 27th in SEC) despite playing 33 minutes per game this season.  

45.  Abdoulaye N’doye (CG)

  • Team:  Cholet
  • Age:  22.3
  • Height:  6-7
  • Weight:  205
  • Wingspan:  7-3
  • Vertical:  

The Magic need outside shooting and perimeter defense — a 3-and-D wing would be ideal at this spot.

N’doye has played with Cholet for four seasons in the Jeep Elite League, the top division in France.  He is extremely versatile due his athleticism, skill set, 6-foot-7 frame, and massive plus-eight wingspan.  He played a significant amount of time at the point guard for Cholet, but he will likely be used as a wing in the NBA.  This season, he started in 24 of 25 games, averaging 10.1 points, 4.2 rebounds, 4.0 assists, and 1.3 steals per game, with excellent shooting splits of .523/.441/.753 and an A/T ratio of 1.98.  

A long strider, N’doye is not the most dynamic or explosive ball handler or shot creator, but he is fast from end to end, and plays with nice fluidity and pace, using crossovers and hesitations in combination to buy space in the half court.  As a playmaker, he can be somewhat deliberate, but he doesn’t force the action, makes good decisions, and is unselfish.  His size, vision, and agility allow him to be an effective passer when executing the pick and roll or when penetrating.  The 22-year-old Frenchman is far more of a driver than a shooter at this point, and he is a master with runners in the lane, which he can make with either hand.  This season, N’doye averaged 1.45 PPP around the basket in the half court (91st percentile among players in Europe) and 0.93 PPP with floaters/runners (73rd percentile).  On the down side, he doesn’t seek contact, and averages just 3.1 free-throw attempts per game.  

As a jump shooter, N’doye has solid form, especially when standing.  He doesn’t get a lot of lift on his jumpers and is much more effective on the catch-and-shoot than when shooting off the bounce.  He also is a very selective shooter, probably because it is not easy for him to create in tight spaces.  It’s difficult to argue with the results, however.  Not only did he make better than 44 percent of his 3s, he also ranked at the 99th percentile for PPP on catch-and-shoot attempts.

Defensively, N’doye’s combination of length and athleticism is intriguing.  He has quick feet, is typically aggressive on the ball, and is effective on closeouts.  He also has good anticipation and quick hands that make him a nuisance in the passing lanes.  He will scrap for rebounds, is not afraid to get physical, and is capable of defending in the paint for short bursts.  Ideally, he’d block more shots (0.4 per game), and play with a bit more energy on this end of the court, but his effort is more than adequate.  

46.  Grant Riller (CG)

  • Team:  Charleston
  • Age:  23.4
  • Height:  6-3
  • Weight:  190
  • Wingspan:  
  • Vertical:  

This will be the Celtics’ fourth pick of the draft, and there is a good chance that they will be selecting for another team.  

Many see Riller as a first-round pick, but I am not among that group.  He certainly had a prolific four years at Charleston, averaging better than 18 points per game for three straight seasons, and finishing his career with 2,474 points, the second most in the history of the Colonial Athletic Association.  He was also named to the All-CAA team as a junior and a senior.  This season, he ranked in the top 15 of DI for points per game (21.9) and PER (31.2), and he ranked in the top 5 of CAA for both win shares (6.0) and BPM (7.1).  The senior also averaged 5.1 rebounds, 3.9 assists, and 1.6 steals per game, with shooting splits of .499/.362/.827 and an A/T ratio of 1.26.  

Of course, the CAA doesn’t offer the stiffest competition, and we have to take that into account when breaking down Riller’s stats.  Over the past two seasons, he played just four games vs. high-level, out-of-conference opponents who made (or would have made) the NCAA Tournament:  VCU and LSU last season, and Richmond and Providence this season.  The chart below shows all of his non-conference games vs. high-level opponents over the last two seasons, with the tourney teams noted with an asterisk (*).  As you can see, Riller didn’t exactly run the gauntlet against these nine teams, and most of his numbers took a dip against the relatively tougher competition, especially his shooting percentages.  

Date Opponent FG% 3P% FT% PTS REB AST TOV STL BLK
11/18/18 Oklahoma State 14.3% 0.0% 60.0% 7 5 4 4 1 0
11/22/18 LSU * 20.0% 0.0% 0.0% 4 4 5 3 0 0
11/25/18 Memphis 52.4% 57.1% 75.0% 32 5 9 5 2 0
12/15/18 VCU * 71.4% 75.0% 87.5% 30 3 1 4 2 0
11/13/19 Oklahoma State 35.7% 0.0% 100.0% 16 4 8 2 3 0
11/28/19 Wake Forest 38.5% 0.0% 33.3% 11 4 1 1 2 1
11/29/19 Providence * 60.0% 33.3% 90.0% 29 5 5 3 2 1
12/14/19 Richmond * 46.7% 0.0% 87.5% 21 3 3 3 1 0
12/18/19 VCU 53.3% 60.0% 87.5% 26 5 4 5 0 0
  Averages 45.0% 30.8% 82.1% 19.6 4.2 4.4 3.3 1.4 0.2

Riller’s strength is his ability to break down defenders with his dribble and score off the bounce, either driving to the rim or pulling up.  His moves include quick crossovers combinations, Euro-steps, and deep step-backs.  He is more effective attacking the basket than he is as a shooter; on floaters and runners he ranked at 92nd percentile for PPP this season, and on other half-court shots around the basket (via drives, cuts, and so on), he ranked at the 88th percentile.  As a jumper shooter, he ranked at the 78th percentile.  Being a triple threat, he was most effective when handling in the pick and roll, ranking at the 97th percentile for PPP.

Again, we have to consider who Riller produced those numbers against, and how he passes the eye test.  The senior is not an exceptional athlete.  He is more crafty and skilled than explosive.  He lacks vertical pop, but has great body control and touch to finish effectively.  In general, Riller doesn’t have the best fluidity as a ball handler, especially when you can speed him up with defensive pressure.  Under those conditions, he can have some trouble controlling the ball (3.1 turnovers per game), and at times, he dribbles into situations with no place to go with the rock.  Additionally, as a right hander, he favors driving right and finishing with his right.  He can go either direction and finish with either hand, but this past season in the half court, his field-goal percentage when driving left (37.1) was significantly lower than when going right (68.8).  

As a shooter, Riller is as equally effective off the bounce as he is on the catch-and-shoot.  He does have a bit of a slow and low release, and lacking great size, his mechanics may have to change for him to succeed moving forward.  For his career, he made 36 percent of his 3s, and given that he is already 23 years old, there is concern about him improving that percentage at the NBA level, where the distance is greater and the defenders are much bigger and faster.  

Defensively, Riller tends to catch his breath on this end of the court, lacking aggression and giving shooters too much space.  He also doesn’t have great length or vertical explosiveness, so he is not a threat to block shots (0.3) per game.  His foot speed and agility can be assets on this end, but he will have to be more consistent and intense with his effort.  

47.  Jared Butler (PG)

  • Team:  Baylor
  • Age:  19.8
  • Height:  6-3
  • Weight:  190
  • Wingspan:  
  • Vertical:  

The Bulls’ offense has been dreadful this season, especially in terms of executing the pick and roll (PNR).  

A young sophomore, Butler has more upside than most second-round picks.  Recognized as one of the top players in the Big 12 this season, the 19-year-old led the fifth-ranked Baylor Bears (26-4) in scoring this season with 16.0 points per game (3rd in the Big 12).  He also averaged 3.2 boards, 3.1 assists, and 1.6 steals per game, with shooting splits of .421/.381/.775, and an A/T ratio of 1.29.  He finished in the top 10 of the conference for true shooting percentage (54.6), assist percentage (22.9), steal percentage (3.2), win shares (4.6), and BPM (9.3), and earned a first-team All-Big 12 selection.

Butler has average size for a point guard; he doesn’t look very big from afar, but he has broad shoulders and good upper-body strength for his size.  He is not exceptional athletically, but he has an excellent handle and good agility.  In Baylor’s balanced offense that featured multiple point guards, he didn’t always run the show; he spent nearly as much time as a spot-up player (22 percent of his possessions) as he did running the pick and roll (28 percent).  He excelled as a scorer in the PNR, ranking at the 91st percentile for PPP, and he was also very good when spotting up (75th percentile).  One concern is that the sophomore’s efficiency dropped significantly (82nd percentile) when including the results of passes in the PNR; he has solid vision, but he throws his share of careless passes. 

Isolation and transition offense accounted for nearly 30 percent of the rest of Butler’s offensive possessions, and he struggled in both departments, ranking below the 27th percentile in each.  Part of the problem was that he was reluctant to go to the basket in those situations; 3-point shots accounted for 41 percent of his transition and ISO attempts, and he made just 21.7 percent of those shots.

In the half court, jumpers accounted for 60 percent of Butler’s shots, and he ranked above the 86th percentile for both catch-and-shoot and off-the-bounce attempts.  However, his 3-point percentage is not spectacular, and his shot mechanics could improve — at times, he appears to push his shots.  Despite lacking great length and vertical explosiveness, he was also respectable around the basket, making 51.1 percent of shots.  Much of that success was due to his ability to knock down runners and floaters (82 percentile for PPP).  

Defensively, Butler plays with effort and alertness.  He is a pesky defender, who is tough to shake when on the ball, and he does an excellent job of closing out quickly on shooters.  He allowed just 0.63 PPP this season, which ranked at the 94th percentile.  On the downside, he doesn’t make a ton of impact plays due to his physical limitations, averaging just 2.3 steals+blocks per 40 minutes.  

Golden State48.  Desmond Bane (W)

  • Team:  TCU
  • Age:  21.9
  • Height:  6-6
  • Weight:  215
  • Wingspan:  6-4
  • Vertical:  40 inches max

The Warriors could use quality depth at point guard and the wing spots.  

Bane is a sharpshooting wing, who made well over 40 percent of his 3s for three straight seasons.  The senior has a solid build and is strong, but he doesn’t stand out athletically.  Also, he has a negative wingspan that hinders certain aspects of his game.  He’s a smart, crafty, and under-control player, who has good shot selection and can be unselfish to a fault.  He is also an excellent passing and rebounding wing.  

This season, Bane averaged 16.6 points, 6.3 rebounds, 3.9 assists, and 2.0 combined steals and blocks per game.  He had terrific shooting splits (.452/.442/.789) and an outstanding A/T ratio for a wing (1.68).  His 3-point percentage ranked seventh in DI, and his BPM of 9.8 ranked 18th in the nation.  He also ranked in the top 10 of the Big 12 in a number of categories, including true shooting percentage (57.3), assist percentage (26.0), PER (23.2), and win shares (5.4).  

A two-time All-Big 12 selection, Bane is not an overly dynamic offensive player, as much of his offense is either derived and/or involves screen action.  More than 63 percent of his possessions this season came from spot-up, pick-and-roll and off-screen plays, with another 15.4 percent coming in transition.  He excelled on spot-ups (91st percentile), and was well above average when handling in the PNR (76th percentile).  He was even better in the PNR when including the results of passes (85th percentile).  

Bane is mainly a jump shooter.  A whopping 74 percent of his half-court shots were jumpers this season.  He is not one to break down defenders with his handle, and he rarely tries to blow by people to attack the rim.  Instead, he is in constant motion off the ball, cutting hard around screens, and with the ball in his hands, he makes liberal use of ball fakes, slide steps, and step-backs to buy space.  He has a compact shot, with a fairly quick release and good range, but he doesn’t get a lot of elevation off the ground.  This season, he was especially effective shooting off the bounce, ranking at the 92nd percentile.  Bane can score on the inside, thanks to a strong runner/floater game (96th percentile), but on his other half-court shots around the rim this season, he struggled (33rd percentile).  

Defensively, Bane is an alert and active team defender, who maintains good spacing, but he doesn’t play tight on the ball.  He defended spot-up situations the most this season, and ranked at the 48th percentile for PPP allowed.  He also averaged a modest 2.2 steals+blocks per 40 minutes.  His effort, intelligence, and strength are all assets on this end of the court, but his lack of length and elite athleticism is problematic.  

49.  Payton Pritchard (PG)

  • Team:  Oregon
  • Age:  22.4
  • Height:  6-2
  • Weight:  190
  • Wingspan:  6-4
  • Vertical:  

This would be the Sixers’ fourth pick in the draft, and it’s unlikely that they keep all of them.  If they do keep this pick, a draft-and-stash selection is an option, but at this spot, a college player is likely to have better value. 

Payton Pritchard
Payton Pritchard (Photo by Eric Evans | Oregon Athletics)

Pritchard was a four-year starter at Oregon.  As a freshman, he was mainly a distributor and an occasional deep threat on a team that made it to the Final Four.  His development continued throughout his career, and by the time he reached the midpoint of his senior season, he was a serious contender to be the national player of the year.  By season’s end, he was the first player in PAC-12 history to have at least 1,900 career points, 500 career rebounds, and 600 career assists. He also became Oregon’s all-time leader for wins with 105 and assists with 659, which rank ninth in PAC-12 history.  Additionally, he earned numerous honors, including the PAC-12 Player of Year, the Bob Cousy Award, and a first-team All-America selection.  

During his four years as a Duck, Pritchard transformed from a steady role player to a bonafide offensive machine.  He has good speed and quickness, great agility, a tight handle, and a sweet shot.  He is a master at changing speed and direction with the ball in his hands.  The senior has excellent vision and smarts as a playmaker.  He is smooth on the pull up, quick on the release, and has very deep range.  He also has nice touch and body control around the rim.  In short, Pritchard can make plays for others or score from just about anywhere on the floor, and he is a nightmare to defend.

This season, Pritchard averaged 20.5 points, 4.3 rebounds, 5.6 assists, and 1.5 steals per game, with shooting splits of .468/.415/.821 and an A/T ratio of 2.02.  Nationally, he ranked 20th for 3-point percentage, eighth for win shares (6.9), and tenth for BPM (11.1).  In the PAC 12, he led the conference in points per game and assists per game, among other things, and the senior finished in the top 10 of the conference in a number of other departments, including true shooting percentage (60.1) and PER (27.7).

In terms of points per possession, Pritchard ranked at 89th percentile, and for PPP plus assists, he finished at the 97th percentile.  Nearly 78 percent of his possessions came via handling in the PNR, spotting up, transition, and isolation, in that order, and the only area where he did not rank better than the 80th percentile was in ISO (69th percentile), which he did just 13.5 percent of the time.  He was at his best on spot-up plays (93rd percentile), which accounted for 21 percent of his possessions.  

Pritchard’s primary offensive weakness is going to the basket, where his lack of size, length, and vertical pop all come into play.  On half-court shots within seven feet this season, he made just 50.9 percent of his attempts.  The 22-year-old has yet to master the art of making floaters, something that he’ll need at the next level.  

Defensively, Pritchard’s lack of size and length is an issue.  He blocked only one shot as a senior, and he allowed 0.85 PPP, which ranked at the 44th percentile.  Despite carrying a heavy offensive load this season, he gave good effort, and his foot speed and lateral movement are above average.  He also has quick hands and good anticipation, which helped him rank in the top 15 of the PAC 12 for steal percentage for four straight seasons.  Ultimately, it’s unlikely that he will be a great defender at the NBA level, but he should provide enough resistance to not be a big liability.  

50.  Ayo Dosunmu (CG)

  • Team:  Illinois
  • Age:  20.4
  • Height:  6-5
  • Weight:  190
  • Wingspan:  6-10
  • Vertical:  36 inches max

Despite three key players — Victor Oladipo, Malcolm Brogdon, and Jeremy Lamb — all missing significant portions of the season due to injury, the Pacers (39-26) have clinched a playoff spot, and could possibly make a long postseason run.  Lamb is done for the season after suffering an ACL tear in late February.  However, Oladipo, who has been limited to 13 games, was starting to look like his usual self before the NBA season was halted, and Brogdon, who has missed 17 games with various injuries, declared himself 100 percent several weeks ago.  

Indiana’s defense has been stellar for most of the season, ranking no worse than seventh for efficiency, PPP allowed, and 3-point percentage allowed.  Offensively, the Pacers are in the middle of the pack (17th for efficiency), which is understandable given that their backcourt has been ravaged by injuries.  The team has been modest from the 3-point line (36.3 percent — ranked 13th), and the club’s backup guards — Aaron Holiday (executing the PNR) and T.J. McConnell (shooting) — have their individual weaknesses and both lack size.  Another issue has been rebounding; the Pacers rank 23rd in rebounding percentage (49.0), partially because two of their backup bigs, Goga Bitadze and T.J. Leaf, are not ready for prime time.  

With their lone pick in the draft, I expect the Pacers to be looking for help at either the wing spot, where they may lose pending free agent Justin Holiday, or power forward, where they may be ready to give up on Leaf.  

Dosunmu is a lanky point guard, who has good height and length, and is capable of playing on the wing.  He is an above-average athlete, whose best attribute is probably his speed.  He has a nifty handle, excels at attacking the basket, and is capable of scoring from midrange and beyond.  This season, he played in Illinois’ three-guard offense that featured two other players — Trent Frazier and Andres Feliz — who also played at the point.  Dosunmu led the team in both points (16.6) and assists (3.3) per game, and also chipped in 4.3 rebounds per contest, helping the Fighting Illini to their best record (21-10) in a decade.  

Named to the Big Ten All-Freshman Team in 2019, Dosunmu was a second-team All-Big Ten selection this season.  Despite the recognition, the 20-year-old has yet to put everything together, and he would likely benefit from another year in school. This season, he did not progress “across the board” statistically, as many sophomores often do.  Granted, his minutes as a freshman were high (31.2 per game), so playing just slightly more this season (33.6 minutes) made it difficult for him to make huge improvements in some areas.  This season, Dosunmu had shooting splits of .484/.296/.755 and an A/T ratio of 1.23.  Last season, his shooting splits were .436/.352/.695, with an A/T ratio of 1.44. The sophomore did make big strides in terms of field-goal and free-throw percentage, defensive rating (97.7), and PER (20.4), but his 3-point percentage dropped significantly, despite taking more than one fewer 3-point attempts per game.  He also dropped in a couple of other key departments: A/T ratio, and steals per game (0.8 and 1.3 in 2019).  

This season, Dosunmu had an opportunity to play more with the ball in his hands, seeing increased action as a pick-and-roll handler and isolation player.  PNR, transition, and spot-up plays accounted for more than 72 percent of his offensive possessions.  Including the results of passes, he ranked at the 74th percentile for PPP when executing the PNR.  Thanks to his end-to-end speed and ability to finish, he was also very good in transition (75th percentile).  Additionally, he was excellent when going to the rim via drives and cuts in the half court, making nearly 71 percent of those shots within seven feet.  

Where Dosunmu mainly struggled this season was as a jumper shooter, specifically on the catch-and-shoot (27th percentile for PPP).  He has a funky shot, especially when standing — he tends to dip the ball to start his shot, brings it back up, right in front of his face, and then releases with push-like motion, and at the same time, he does not get much elevation off the ground.  When shooting off the dribble, be it pulling up or stepping back, he looks much more fluid and mechanically sound, with better elevation, which likely explains why he ranked at the 75th percentile on jumpers off the dribble this season.  Weirdly, however, he was just the opposite last season, ranking at the 92nd percentile on catch-and-shoot jumpers and at the 29th percentile on off-the-dribble jumpers.  

Defensively, Dosunmu made good progress as a perimeter defender.  He stayed connected to potential shooters, on and off the ball, something that he did not do with consistency last season.  As a result, he allowed just 0.66 PPP, which ranked at the 92nd percentile.  On the downside, he produced very few steals and blocks this season (1.2 combined per 40 minutes).  

51.  Corey Kispert (W)

  • Team:  Gonzaga
  • Age:  21.3
  • Height:  6-7
  • Weight:  220
  • Wingspan:  
  • Vertical:  

The Thunder rank 18th in the league in 3-point percentage and could use a couple of wings/forwards who can shoot.

Kispert has good size for a wing and is an excellent shooter.  The junior made steady progress over the past three seasons at Gonzaga, and this year he earned a first-team All-WCC selection.  For the season, he averaged 13.9 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 2.1 assists per game, with excellent shooting splits (.474/.438/.810) and a great A/T ratio (1.52) for a wing.  He led the WCC in true shooting percentage (62.1), and finished in the top 10 of the conference for both win shares (5.2) and BPM (6.1).  

Nearly 67 percent of Kispert’s half-court shots this season were jumpers.  He has a compact shot, a quick release, and the ability to catch the ball on the move and instantly get into his shooting motion.  He is not an explosive athlete in any way, nor is he a great ball handler.  He is, however, smart and crafty, and has a great feel for the game.  The junior takes what the defense gives him, has good vision, makes intelligent reads, and knows how to move without the ball.  He is not the type of player who can create a lot of offense for himself, but he is excellent at using screens to create the necessary separation, making him a very effective weapon on plays such as curls, handoffs, and backdoor cuts.  He is not one to attack the rim, but he will venture into the paint fairly regularly for pull-up jumpers and runners.  

In terms of PPP, Kispert ranked at the 96th percentile overall.  The majority of his offense (77 percent) came via spot-up, transition, pick-and-roll, and off-screen possessions, in that order.  His productivity ranged from the 51st percentile when shooting off screens to the 97th percentile when handling in the PNR.  Overall as a jump shooter, he ranked at the 96th percentile, actually performing better off the bounce than on the catch-and-shoot.  

Despite the lofty numbers, there are several concerns about Kispert’s game.  Gonzaga plays a relatively easy schedule, and when watching the junior making plays off the dribble, you wonder how effective he will be trying the same on the next level.  He lacks an explosive first step and a nifty handle, and he very rarely can get all the way to the rim; in fact, off drives in the half-court this season, he took just 10 shots within seven feet, making six.  Kispert is also not adept at making step-back or other moves to buy space; he was most effective taking unguarded catch-and-shoot jumpers this season, which accounted for 46 percent of his points from jump shots.  Lastly, his lack of athleticism prevents him from being a great defender and an all-around productive player.  On his own team, he ranked no better than seventh for rebounding percentage, steal percentage, block percentage, and defensive rating.  

52.  Cassius Winston (PG)

  • Team:  Michigan State
  • Age:  23.3
  • Height:  6-1
  • Weight:  185
  • Wingspan:  6-5
  • Vertical:  

Backup point guard Jeff Teague will be an unrestricted free agent in the offseason, and even if the veteran returns, the Hawks could use a promising youngster to serve as the No. 3 point guard.  

Perhaps the most accomplished player in the draft, Winston led the Spartans to three consecutive Big-Ten regular-season titles and a 2019 Final Four appearance between his sophomore and senior seasons.  For the past two seasons, he averaged better than 18.5 points and 5.5 assists per game.  Over the same span, he was twice named an All-Big Ten and an All-American selection, and was selected as the conference POY in 2019.  Winston, who turned down offers from Ivy League schools to attend Michigan State, was also an Academic All-Big Ten selection in 2019 and 2020.  

An undersized point guard who lacks great athleticism, Winston plays with a lot of heart, toughness, and intelligence.  Despite his limitations, he is a three-level scorer, using crafty changes in speed and misdirection to get his spots, and he is very effective when shooting on the move.  His jumper is not the prettiest and his release is low, but at the same time, he gets good elevation on his shots and has a quick release.  And it’s difficult to argue with the results — a career 3-point percentage of 43.0.  The senior can have trouble finishing at the rim due a lack of size and vertical pop, but he compensates with good body control and nice touch on floaters and runners, which he can make with either hand.  Lasty, Winston is a true triple threat, possessing excellent vision, touch, and accuracy as a passer.  For his career, he averaged 6.4 assists per game, with an A/T ratio of 2.38.

This season, Winston averaged 18.6 points, 2.5 rebounds, 5.9 assists, and 1.2 steals per game, with shooting splits of .448/.432/.852 and an A/T ratio of 1.83.  He became the Big Ten’s all-time leader in assists (890), and now ranks sixth in NCAA history with a career assist percentage of 42.8.  For the third straight season, he finished in the top 10 of the conference in true shooting percentage (58.5), win shares (5.2), and BPM (8.9), and in each of those categories, he ranks among the all-time top 20 in the Big Ten.  

Offensively, Winston has a fairly diverse profile, with 85 percent of his possessions this season coming from pick-and-roll, transition, spot-up, off-screen, and isolation plays, in that order.  He was at his best on spot-up possessions (97th percentile for PPP).  Transition (25th percentile) was the only category where he did not rank above 83rd percentile, which isn’t surprising since fast-break offense favors tall, athletic players.  As a jumper shooter, he ranked at 90th percentile or higher for off-the-dribble shots, catch-and-shoot attempts, and overall.  He was also very good with runners/floaters (82nd percentile), but on other half-court shots around the basket, he struggled (40th percentile).   

The biggest area of concern for Winston is on the other end of the court.  He has never been known for his defense, struggling to stay in front of speedy players, being easily picked off by screens, and offering next to nothing as a shot blocker (12 career blocks as a Spartan).  In terms of PPP allowed this season, he ranked at the 67th percentile, but freshman Rocket Watts was often assigned to guard the opposition’s best perimeter player.  

53.  Mason Jones (W)

  • Team:  Arkansas
  • Age:  21.9
  • Height:  6-5
  • Weight:  200
  • Wingspan:  
  • Vertical:  

Given the number of free agents who might not be back in Sacramento, it’s not inconceivable that the Kings would keep this pick, which would be their fourth of the draft, to use on a wing or forward.

Jones, who used to weigh 270 pounds, emerged as one of the top scorers in the nation as a junior.  The youngster still lacks a well-defined body, and that is likely one of the primary reasons why he has not garnered more attention.  It’s well known that NBA teams shy away from those with potential weight problems.  Jones also doesn’t stand out athletically — his speed is underrated, but he is a below-the-rim player.

Jones consistently finds ways to score, inside and out, by keeping defenders off balance with changes in speed, a quick first step, and crafty moves.  He also makes great reads, is energetic off the ball, and displays terrific shot selection for a prolific scorer.  In his last 15 games of the season (14 vs. SEC opponents and one vs. TCU of the Big 12), he scored 20 or more points 13 times, and 30 or more seven times.  What made his scoring efforts even more impressive was his contributions to the Razorbacks in a number of other ways.

A first-team All-SEC selection this season, Jones averaged 22.0 points (8th in DI), 5.5 rebounds, 3.4 assists, and 1.6 steals per game, with shooting splits of .453/.351/.826 and an A/T ratio of 1.07.  He led the SEC in scoring, free-throw attempts per game (9.1 — 2nd in DI), win shares (6.3), and BPM (9.4), and he finished in the top 10 of the conference for true shooting percentage (61.4), steal percentage (2.7), defensive rating (95.2), and PER (28.0).  In terms of PPP, Jones ranked at the 89th percentile overall.  More than 76 percent of his possessions came from transition, spot-up, pick-and-roll, and isolation plays, and he ranked at the 67th percentile or higher in all four categories.

More than 66 percent of Jones’ half-court shots this season were jumpers, and in terms of PPP, he ranked at the 55th percentile.  He has a smooth shot, with solid mechanics, and he frequently shoots off the bounce and on the move.  He’s adept at pulling up, stepping back and fading away, and he is not fazed if a hand is in his face.  In fact, he was at his worst this season when shooting unguarded jumpers (10th percentile); he ranked at the 71st percentile on jumpers off the dribble and the 87th percentile on guarded catch-and-shoot attempts.  

Jones is even more efficient when attacking the rim, partly because he draws so many fouls.  On half-court shots around the basket this season, he ranked at the 84th percentile.  He has a great combination of body control and strength, and is capable of finishing through contact as well as making acrobatic shots.  The junior consistently seeks contact on drives, and he is crafty with his physicality, regularly using his off arm to create separation.  Jones does, however, need to improve his nondominant hand (left), as he is far more effective going right, and is not proficient finishing with his left.  

On defense, Jones played with good effort, physicality, and awareness, scrapping for rebounds and swiping steals.  Statistically, he was excellent this season, ranking eighth in the SEC for defensive rating, and ranking at the 96th percentile for PPP allowed.  However, those numbers might be a bit deceiving.  Due to Arkansas’ lack of big men, he regularly guarded bigger forwards, many of whom were not overly adept at playing on the perimeter.  Jones certainly more than held his own when defending outside the paint, but he was rarely matched up with the opposition’s fastest players.  Another concern is his lack of blocks (just five on the season), which is undoubtedly due to his lack of vertical explosiveness.  

Golden State54.  Skylar Mays (CG)

  • Team:  LSU
  • Age:  22.8
  • Height:  6-4
  • Weight:  205
  • Wingspan:  6-7
  • Vertical:  

The Warriors could use quality depth at point guard and the wing spots.  

Mays is a player whose sum is greater than the parts — he’s team oriented, intelligent, hard working, a natural leader, and versatile.  In other words, he has all of the intangibles.  He’s a solid athlete in terms of speed, quickness, and agility, but he does lack greath length and vertical explosiveness.  He can score inside and out, and be effective as a playmaker.  He also defends with effort and awareness.  Additionally, the 22-year-old was a star in the classroom, being named an Academic All-American for three consecutive years (2018-20), and winning the SEC Scholar Athlete of the Year award in both 2019 and 2020.

For the past three seasons at LSU, Mays shared the ball handling duties with two other talented players, Tremont Waters (2018-19) and Ja’Vonte Smart (2019-20).  However, for the last two seasons, Mays has been the Tigers’ clear leader — a calming and steadying influence for two young squads.  He’s not an exceptional playmaker (career A/T ratio of 1.61), but he is capable of being a backup point guard at the next level.

A two-time All-SEC selection, Mays averaged 16.7 points, 5.0 rebounds, 3.2 assists, and 1.8 steals per game this season.  He had excellent shooting splits (.491/.394/.854), and a respectable A/T ratio of 1.43.  He ranked in the top 10 of the SEC for true shooting percentage (62.2), steal percentage (2.9), win shares (5.2), and BPM (8.3).  In terms of points per possession, he ranked at the 92nd percentile overall.  The senior finished his LSU career with a total of 3,963 minutes played, the ninth most in SEC history, which is a good indication of how valuable he was to LSU.  

Mays can score inside and out, but he doesn’t take many midrange shots — he’s typically taking a 3-point attempt or attacking the rim, and floaters, pull-ups, and step-backs are not big parts of his game.  He has nice shot mechanics and good range on his jumpers, and is excellent from the free-throw line.  As a driver, he is equally effective going right or left, is very proficient with spin moves, and has great body control around the basket.  On half-court shots within seven feet this season, he made 57.7 percent of his attempts, and he drew his share of fouls (4.9 free-throw attempts per game), too.  

Mays’ offensive possessions this season came mainly from four areas — spot-up, pick-and-roll, transition, and isolation plays — which accounted for nearly 83 percent of his possessions.  In terms of PPP, his productivity ranged from the 98th percentile as a PNR handler to the 53rd percentile in transition.  Less than 49 percent of his half-court shots were jumpers, and his catch-and shoot attempts (86th percentile) were nearly double his off-the-dribble attempts (89th percentile).

Mays is a solid defensive player, with quick hands and good anticipation.  He ranked in the top 10 of the SEC for four straight seasons for steal percentage.  He also plays with energy and awareness, though it did not show in his overall defensive numbers this season.  LSU was a poor defensive team in 2019-20, ranking at the 39th percentile for PPP allowed, while Mays ranked at the 37th percentile.  Last season, the Tigers ranked at the 68th percentile, while Mays ranked at the 85th percentile.  In both seasons, he ranked no worse than average for PPP allowed in isolation situations (47th percentile in 2020 and 94th in 2019), which is a better indicator of his individual ability.  

55.  Markus Howard (CG)

  • Team:  Marquette
  • Age:  21.3
  • Height:  5-11
  • Weight:  180
  • Wingspan:  6-0
  • Vertical:  

The Nets rank 26th in the league for 3-point percentage, and they could use a No. 3 point guard who can shoot.

Somewhat off the radar due to his diminutive stature, Howard is one of the most prolific scorers in college basketball history.  He ranks 21st in NCAA history for career points (2,761) and is tied for seventh all-time with 434 career 3-pointers.  He averaged better than 20 points per game for three straight seasons, and over his career, he scored 30-or-more points 33 times, 40-plus seven times, and 50-plus three times.  A two-time All-American and the Big East POY in 2019, Howard averaged 27.8 points (1st in DI), 3.5 rebounds, and 3.3 assists per game this season, with shooting splits of .422/.412/.847 and an A/T ratio of 0.97.  In addition to scoring, he led the Big East in PER (30.0), win shares (6.0), and BPM (11.0).  

Howard has a sweet stroke and in-the-gym range, and when he gets rolling, he can put up points in a hurry.  Defenders can’t afford to give him too much space because he can regularly knock down 3s from 25 feet and beyond  Between 25 and 35 feet this season, he made 40.4 percent of his shots, which is much better than what most prospects in this draft shot from standard 3-point range. 

If you play him too tight, Howard will drive to the basket and score with soft floaters and runners (65th percentile for PPP this season).  He is a crafty ball handler, with plenty of speed and quickness, and the senior can put defenders in the blender, stopping, starting, spinning, and then releasing his shot.  He doesn’t get all the way to the rim too often, but when he does, he can switch hands in midair, and finish with either.  

More than 40 percent of Howard’s offensive possessions this season came from executing the pick and roll, and he ranked at the 88th percentile for PPP in this department.  Being little, he can be difficult to find when coming off screens, and he can snap off his jumper in an instant.  Nearly half of his assists came via the PNR, and his efficiency slightly increased when including the results of passes (89th percentile).  Even so, Howard has never been an elite playmaker (career A/T of 1.03), and there are serious doubts about his ability to run an offense at the next level. 

Off the ball, Howard was even more effective this season.  He ranked at the 99th percentile in spot-up situations, which accounted for roughly 13 percent of his possessions.  He is not easy to track off the ball; he’s typically in constant motion, weaving in and out of screens, and he did very well on off-screen plays (82 percentile), such as curls and flares, and he did even better on handoffs (91st percentile).  

Howard doesn’t like shooting with a hand in his face, and defenders who can play him tight from 30 feet-and-in can be effective at disrupting his game.  For example, in ISO situations this season, he ranked at the 42nd percentile for PPP because he typically resorted to going to the basket, where his lack of size was a real issue.  On half-court shots within seven feet this season, he made just 43.3 percent of his attempts.    

On the defensive end, there are obvious concerns due to Howard’s lack of size and length.  He usually gives a good effort on this end of the court, but opponents do not have much trouble shooting over him, inside and out.  He also picks up a lot of fouls for a guard (2.4 per game this season), and produces few steals and blocks (1.2 combined per 40 minutes this season).  

56.  Nick Richards (C)

  • Team:  Kentucky
  • Age:  22.6
  • Height:  6-11
  • Weight:  245
  • Wingspan:  7-5
  • Vertical:  32.5 inches standing, 36.5 max

At pick 56, Charlotte finally commits to addressing possibly its most glaring weakness, rim protection. 

Richards had a fascinating college career at Kentucky. He was a bench contributor as a freshman, slightly regressed as a sophomore, and then asserted himself, playing with more confidence and aggression, to become one of the premier “Bigs” in the SEC as a junior. This season, he not only earned All-SEC first-team honors, but also was a SEC All-Defensive selection.

Starting with the areas where he can improve, Richards has not taken a single 3-point shot in his entire college career. He found himself in foul trouble at times this year in an increased role under John Calipari, and is not a very effective passer. Richards will have to continue to improve as a versatile defender to be capable of handling the constant switching of today’s NBA. His lateral footspeed can be taken advantage of in specific matchups. The last flaw worth mentioning is that he will turn 23 in November.

Now, to begin to explore why this pick fits the Hornets roster like a glove, Richards brings the prospect for rim protection without sacrificing mobility. He is, in fact, a very good athlete for his size. He blocked 2.5 shots per game this season, but he also allowed only 0.64 PPP (89th percentile) when defending in the post. The junior effectively defended “around the basket” shots (non-post plays), ranking at the 76th percentile for PPP allowed. These advanced numbers illustrate what raw blocks can sometimes mask, which is that Richards effectively balances the act of protecting the rim without giving up too many easy baskets.

Richards can fill a role on the offensive end as well. His skills will mesh well with the returning talent because he’s an effective offensive player without needing the ball. He accomplishes this efficiency via cutting and also as a roll man in the PNR (1.3 PPP, 89th percentile). The junior has developed into a solid free-throw shooter (75%), and has an underrated skill in his midrange jumper; 76 percent of all his jump shots were from medium (midrange) distance. Richards shot 41 percent and scored (0.82 PPP, 72nd percentile) on those attempts as a post-up player in high-level college basketball. He has never attempted a 3-pointer, but this statistical case helps support the notion that he could develop that skill in time.

Richards’ size, mobility, and two-way skills should mix nicely with the returning roster and the players selected in this mock draft for the Hornets franchise.

— LB

57.  Reggie Perry (PF)

  • Team:  Mississippi State
  • Age:  20.3
  • Height:  6-9
  • Weight:  250
  • Wingspan:  7-1
  • Vertical:  28.5 inches standing, 31.5 max

The Clippers (44-20) own the fourth-best record in the league, and rank in the top 10 in terms of efficiency for both offense and defense.  If the team lacks anything, it is quality depth in the frontcourt, and with Montrezl Harrell, Marcus Morris, Patrick Patterson, and JaMychal Green ($5,005,350 player option) all being free agents at the end of the season, a lack of big bodies could become a real issue for the Clippers.  

Perry, a large and powerful man, emerged as a starter midway through his freshman season, replacing the enigmatic Aric Holman at power forward.  Perry had a fine freshman campaign, earning SEC All-Freshman honors, but he clearly had a way to go on both ends of the court in terms of offensive skill, defensive awareness, and overall athleticism.  Even so, he tested the draft waters last year, attending both the G-League and NBA combines.  Among other things, Perry produced poor results in the athletic testing events, and he ultimately decided to return to school.  

In between his freshman and sophomore seasons, Perry gained valuable experience with the United States national team at the 2019 FIBA Under-19 World Cup.  In seven games, he averaged 13.1 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 1.4 steals per game, leading the United States to a gold medal.  He was also named tournament MVP, besting players such as teammates Tyrese Haliburton and Kira Lewis, Argentina’s Leandro Bolmaro, Serbia’s Filip Petrusev, and Mali’s Oumar Ballo, one of the top prospects for the 2021 draft,  

This season, Perry was a much improved player.  He looked lighter on his feet.  His footwork was better in the post, and he was much more willing to put the ball on the floor and to shoot from the outside.  He made strides in nearly every primary statistical category, with the exception of turnovers (2.9 per game, 8th most in SEC).  

The upgraded Perry became the focal point of the Bulldogs’ offense.  On the season, he averaged 17.4 points, 10.1 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 2.0 steals-plus-blocks per game, with shooting splits of .500/.324/.768.  For overall points per possession, he ranked at the 80th percentile.  The sophomore also ranked in the top 5 of the SEC for rebounding percentage (19.1), PER (29.0), win shares (5.4), and BPM (8.5), and for his overall efforts, he was named the SEC Co-Player of the Year.  

First and foremost, Perry uses his size and strength to his advantage to be a force in the paint, as a rebounder and a scorer.  He lacks tremendous length and vertical pop, but he compensates by having a nose for the ball and carving out the appropriate space underneath the basket.  A right-handed player, he is more effective turning with his left shoulder in the post, but he is efficient when turning with his right as well.  The sophomore can finish with either hand, including hook shots, and he will occasionally knock down a turnaround fadeaway as well.  He does, however, have a tendency to be indecisive in the post, which is something that he needs to work on.  

On the perimeter, Perry’s shot mechanics are fairly sound, but his release is on the slow side.  His free-throw percentage of 74.8 bodes well for him to improve his percentage from deep.  The 20-year-old doesn’t often shoot off the bounce, but he is surprisingly smooth on pull-ups.  As a driver, he has underrated speed; there is nothing nifty about his handle, but he can effectively attack hard closeouts.   

Most of Perry’s offensive possessions this season were fairly evenly distributed between post-up, spot-up, transition, cuts, and put-backs.  In terms of PPP, he was well above average in all but one area — cuts, where he ranked at the 49th percentile.  In the other four categories, the percentiles ranged from 65th in transition to 91st on putbacks.  For the second consecutive season, he did not get many possessions in the pick and roll; on limited attempts, he ranked at the 61st percentile as a roller, and at the 49th percentile on the pick-and-pop.  

On the defensive end, there are concerns about Perry having the necessary length and athleticism to be effective on the NBA level.  He definitely played with better awareness this season.  Last season, he seemed clueless at times on when to help, switch, and rotate, and he was horrible at defending the PNR.  While he made good progress as a team defender, he still was often a liability on the perimeter, lacking quickness and the ability to quickly change direction.  He also was just average in terms of steals and blocks, averaging a 2.6 combined per 40 minutes, and at the same time, he fouled regularly (3.1 times per game).  

58.  Kaleb Wesson (C)

  • Team:  Ohio State
  • Age:  20.9
  • Height:  6-9
  • Weight:  265
  • Wingspan:  7-3
  • Vertical:  

With Marc Gasol, Serge Ibaka, and Chris Boucher all being free agents, the Raptors will likely draft a center with one of their two picks.  

Wesson is a very large man, with questionable athleticism.  He is also undersized in terms of height for a center, but he has above-average length.  Much was made about the weight that he dropped before his junior season (roughly 35 pounds), but he may need to lose more to play at the NBA level.  He still does not run the court well, and doesn’t have much vertical pop.  Losing more weight, however, could be an issue for the young man because he has battled this issue for much of his life.  

The trimmer Wesson showed significant improvement in three main areas: 3-point shooting, rebounding, and blocked shots.  However, his field-goal percentage and assist-turnover ratio as a junior were career lows.  For the season, he averaged 14.0 points, 9.3 boards, 1.9 assists, and 1.0 blocks per game, with shooting splits of .444/.425/.731 and A/T ratio of 0.78.  He ranked in the top 10 of the Big Ten for true shooting percentage (56.8), rebounding percentage (18.4), PER (24.0), win shares (4.9), and BPM (9.0), and was a second-team All-Big Ten selection.  

Nearly 41 percent of Wesson’s offensive possessions came in the post this season, and he ranked at the 65th percentile for PPP.  He does a good job of establishing deep position, has solid footwork, and has nice touch with either hand on hook shots.  He also can be surprisingly quick with drop-steps. On the down side, the junior was not overly effective on non-post shots around the basket (via cuts, put-backs, and so on), ranking at the 33rd percentile, which is dismal for a center.  In fact, on all types of shots within seven feet, he made only 48.1 percent of his shots.  Last season, when he spent more time in the paint, he was better within seven feet (57.5 percent), but that still is not outstanding for a center/power forward.  Wesson’s struggles around the rim are undoubtedly due, at least in part, to him being a relatively grounded player.  

Where Wesson excelled this season was as a jump shooter, which accounted for 33 percent of his half-court shots.  He was almost exclusively a catch-and-shoot guy, and he ranked at the 92nd percentile for PPP on those shots.  Roughly 60 percent of his catch-and-shoot attempts were unguarded, but he actually shot significantly better when guarded.  That stat is somewhat a surprise because Wesson’s release is on the slow side thanks to a big windup — after the catch, he tends to dip the ball slightly, and then he brings the ball all the way over his right shoulder before releasing. 

Defensively, the lighter Wesson definitely had better movement of the perimeter, but he still struggled against jump shooters because he gave them too much space and was slow on closeouts.  In the post, he did a nice job of preventing opponents from establishing deep position, and bothered their shots with his length.  As a shot blocker, he increased his block percentage by roughly 50 percent, but he is still far from being a rim protector.  He was in the middle of the road in terms of steals and blocks, averaging 2.4 combined per 40 minutes.  Wesson also had his share of foul trouble, averaging 3.1 PFs per game.  

59.  Yam Madar (PG)

  • Team:  Hapoel Tel Aviv
  • Age:  19.5
  • Height:  6-3
  • Weight:  180
  • Wingspan:  
  • Vertical:  

This will be the 76ers’ fifth pick of the draft, and seemingly, the only way they would keep it would be to select a draft-and-stash prospect.  

Madar is a quick and shifty 6-foot-3 point guard.  In my opinion, only LaMelo Ball exceeds his combination dynamic scoring, playmaking, and ball handling.  The 19-year-old is also a scrappy defender.  

Madar turned heads last summer when helping Israel win the gold medal at the 2019 Under-20 European Championships.  He was named to the All-Tournament Team, averaging 15.9 points, 3.1 rebounds, 7.7 assists, and 1.4 steals per game.  Joining him on the All-Tournament Team were teammate Deni Avdija, Spain’s Carlos Alocen and Sergi Martinez, and Germany’s Philipp Herkenhoff.  

To date, Madar’s pro numbers have increased across the board in his second season in the Israeli BSL, which will resume play later this month.  Playing in 21 games, he has averaged 21.0 minutes, 8.0 points, 2.2 rebounds, 3.1 assists, and 1.0 combined steals and blocks.   His shooting splits (.438/.289/.778) and A/T ratio (1.86) are very respectable given his age and the high level of competition.  

Madar is a three-level scorer, who is fluid, very fast, and extremely quick with the ball in his hands.  He excels at making shots on the move, using step-backs, pull-ups, shots off spin moves, runners, and floaters.  His transition from the dribble to his pull-up jumper is seamless, and he has beautiful touch with his high-arching runners and floaters.  At the rim, he has terrific body control, and can finish/dunk with either hand, though he favors his right.  He has a way to go as a shooter from deep, and his outside shots appear a bit flat at times.  However, the young Israeli has always been a solid free-throw shooter throughout his career, and in the 2019 U20 Euro Championship, he made 47.6 percent of his 3-point shots, averaging three attempts per game.

As a playmaker, it seems as if Madar has eyes in the back of his head.  He is a magician with the ball in terms of dribbling and passing.  He is a quick decision maker with great court vision, and he makes his teammates better, setting them up for easy scores in creative ways.  So far this season, he has an assist percentage of 15.8, which is the 16th best in the BSL.  

Madar is also a scrappy, fiery, and demonstrative player.  He displays natural leadership skills, and he backs his words with action, fearlessly attacking the rim, diving for loose balls, mixing it up in the paint, and hustling in general.  His attitude shows up on both ends of the court, and as a defender, he gets in his opponent’s grill and is difficult to shake.  He is also quick to help and recover as a team defender.  He does have trouble being outmuscled in the paint by drivers, cutters, and alike, and adding muscle is something that he will need to address in the future.  

60.  Isaiah Joe (SG)

  • Team:  Arkansas
  • Age:  20.9
  • Height:  6-5
  • Weight:  180
  • Wingspan:  6-9
  • Vertical:  

This will be the Pelicans’ fourth selection of the draft, and there is a very good chance that they will not keep all four.  As previously mentioned, the team’s defense has been lax in the paint, and the club could use a center who is capable of protecting the rim and also spreading the floor on the offensive end.  So far in this mock draft, the Pelicans have yet to find such a player, mostly because that type of player is difficult to come by, especially in this draft class.  

New Orleans may make this selection for another team, and the best available would include Joe, shooting guard John Petty, point guard Ashton Hagans, combo guard Ty-Shon Alexander, and forward Aaron Henry.  However, if the Pelicans were to keep this pick, their best option might be to select a draft-and-stash prospect, such as center Marko Simonovic, forward Paul Eboua, or power forward Borisa Simanic, who would not take up an immediate roster spot but could potentially fill a need down the road.  

Joe may have the prettiest jump shot in all of college basketball.  He gets good elevation off the ground and snaps his shot off in an instant, be it off the catch or a dribble move.  He has great range, and is also very effective penetrating and pulling up.  He has very slick step-back and slide-step moves in his repertoire, and he also has nice touch with floaters in the paint.  

Joe has not received a lot of attention this spring for two main reasons: 1) he was injured for a good portion of this season (knee), and as a result, some of numbers took significant dips from his freshman season; and 2) teammate Mason Jones emerged as one of the top scorers in the nation, drawing attention away from Joe.  

Joe originally injured his right knee during a 34-point effort against Ole Miss on January 11. Though clearly limited, he would go on to play in five of Arkansas’ next six games, scoring just 46 total points and making less than 28 percent of his 3-point attempts. On February 4, the sophomore underwent arthroscopic debridement surgery to his right knee, and he missed the next five contests.  He returned to the Razorbacks on February 22, and he appeared to be close to 100 percent, scoring at least 18 points in five of the team’s final six games of the season.  With a healthy Joe, the Razorbacks had a 17-4 record. In the five games he played at less than 100 percent, they had a 2-3 record, and in the six contests that he missed, the team was 1-5.  

On the season, Joe averaged 16.9 points, 4.1 rebounds, 1.7 assists, and 1.4 steals per game.  His percentages are what suffered during this injury-plagued season.  As a sophomore, his field-goal percentage dropped to 36.7 from 41.3, his 3-point percentage dropped to 34.2 from 41.4, and his A/T ratio slipped to 1.00 from 1.43.  On the positive side, he did raise his free-throw percentage to 89.0 from 75.6 as a freshman.  

Joe is truly a high-volume jump shooter; in both of his college seasons, more than 87 percent of his half-court attempts were jump shots.  As was the case with his shooting percentages, his points-per-possession numbers took a hit as a sophomore.  As a freshman, he ranked at the 92nd percentile for overall PPP, at the 88th percentile as a jump shooter, and at the 97th percentile for jumpers off the bounce.  As a sophomore, those respective numbers dropped to 79th, 59th, and 89th.  Joe did show improvement on his rare half-court attempts in the paint this season, making 62 percent of his shots around the basket, including runners and floaters.  On the same types of shots as a freshman, he made just 39 percent.  

As a defender, Joe is effective on the perimeter, due his above-average speed, quickness, and agility.  As an isolation defender, he has ranked above average for PPP allowed in both of his college seasons (68th percentile this season).  The 20-year-old plays with good intelligence, awareness, and effort.  He has active hands, and makes his share of steals.  He is a lanky player and lacks muscle, and that can show up when he has to deal with screens or defend in the paint.  He has average length and not a great deal of vertical explosiveness, so he is also not much of a shot blocker.  

Sources, Credits, and Acknowledgements:  Stats used in our scouting reports come from Synergy Sports Technology, RealGM.com, and Sports-Reference.com.  Other outside sources are noted with links to the source.

 

About R. C. Harris 62 Articles
Richard has worked as a sports writer/editor/analyst since 1998. He is the former CEO of FantasyFootballExperts.com and a former member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA). He has contributed to various magazines, radio shows, and a number of other sites, including ESPN.com, SI.com, and USAToday.com. Follow on Twitter @HoopsProspects.

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