In our continuing series on the 2020 NBA Draft Class, I examine the merit, value, fit, and the short-term and long-term outlook of the selections 16-30.
Rookies face a steep climb this season. The draft took place less than a month ago, and first-year players will be immediately be thrown into the fire. This draft class will be asked to perform without the benefit of Summer League play, an orientation period, and training time in the gym and weight room. To make matters worse, training camp lasted just a couple of weeks and featured only a few preseason games.
Enjoy and happy holidays.
16. Isaiah Stewart (C)
- Team: Washington
- Age: 19.6
- Height: 6’8’’
- Weight: 245
- Wingspan: 7’5’’
- Vertical: 29’’ standing, 35’’ max
In my article on picks 1-15, I noted that the Pistons were in a position to go the best-available route, and I believe they made a good move by selecting point guard Killian Hayes at No. 7. The 16th selection came to Detroit via the sign-and-trade agreement that sent center Christian Wood to Houston. There is little doubt that Wood will be a more productive player than Stewart in the short term, and it’s very questionable if the Washington freshman was worthy of being selected so high in this draft. There were three other bigs available at this spot that I preferred, including Precious Achiuwa, who ranked 13th on the HP Draft Board.
Stewart is an undersized center, who plays with great energy and physicality. He is very strong and can dominate around the basket, but he did not display the ability to play on the perimeter on either end of the court while at Washington. The freshman 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 points per possession (PPP).
Read more: Isaiah Stewart Scouting Report
17. Aleksej Pokusevski (PF/C)
- Team: Olympiacos B
- Age: 18.9
- Height: 7’0’’
- Weight: 205
- Wingspan: 7’3’’
The Thunder gave up a lot — Ricky Rubio and two 2020 first-round picks — to move up to the 17th spot in the draft and select Pokusevski, but it was a reasonable move given that he was the youngest prospect in this class and has so much upside. A very skinny 7-foot power forward, Pokusevski won’t turn 19 until the day after Christmas. In preseason action, he played a total of 71 minutes in three games (23.6 MPG). He had his ups and downs, but he definitely flashed potential, averaging 11 points, 9.3 boards, and 1.3 steals while making 35 percent of his three-point attempts. Due to his inexperience and a lack of strength, the Serbian is likely a year away from making significant contributions in Oklahoma City, but with his unique skill set, he should eventually become a very valuable player.
Last 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 combined steals and blocks per 40 minutes.
Read More: Aleksej Pokusevski Scouting Report
18. Josh Green (W)
- Team: Arizona
- Age: 20.1
- Height: 6’5’’
- Weight: 215
- Wingspan: 6’10’’
- Vertical: 30.5’’ standing, 39.9’’ max
Prior to the draft, the Mavericks were shopping for a third star to complement lead guard Luka Doncic and center Kristaps Porzingis. Most of the names mentioned were shooting guards, including Zach LaVine, and stretch fours, including Danilo Gallinari. Dallas was unable to land the proverbial third piece, but the team did acquire Josh Richardson, who should bolster the Mavs’ mediocre defense. Last season, Dallas finished the regular season as the league’s clear leader in offensive efficiency with a rating of 115.9. Defensively, it was a different story, as the team finished 18th for overall efficiency and 19th for points allowed in the paint.
Even with Richardson, the Mavs are still lacking talented depth at wing, and they don’t have an ideal starter at power forward.
Green, an Australian native, might be asked to produce immediately due to the team’s lack of wings. He is an affable, intelligent, and mature young man, who also happens to have a nice combination of athleticism, strength, and coordination. His freshman season had its ups and downs, but leading up to it, he was limited in the offseason by a shoulder injury. It actually was the second consecutive offseason that he was limited by a shoulder injury; in 2018, it was his right shoulder, and in 2019, it was his left.
In his one season at Arizona, Green 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. Also, in terms of combined points and assists per possession, he ranked at the 74th percentile.
Offensively, Green is very good in transition (79th percentile for PPP) and in the open floor, in general. He can finish well above the rim and has the ability to make acrobatic shots around the basket. In the half-court, especially when space is limited, he becomes an ordinary player due to a lack of elite ball-handling skills. Spot-ups accounted for nearly 35 percent of all his possessions, and jumpers accounted for nearly 50 percent of his half-court attempts. He is dependent on his right hand, and struggles to finish in traffic — last 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 three-point shooter this past season, his shot mechanics are somewhat inconsistent, and he can be very streaky.
When I had a chance to talk to Green during pre-draft media sessions, I asked the freshman about what he had worked on the most during draft preparations. The two things that he mentioned were improving his handle and ability to create shots. That was the right answer. He also added that this past summer was the first in three years when he could work on his game uninterrupted by injury. Though our interaction was brief, I got the sense that he’s the type of player who will work very hard to improve, and based on his physical gifts, I believe that there is very good chance that he will.
Defensively, Green’s freshman stats were a mixed bag. He ranked seventh 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, energy, and awareness.
19. Saddiq Bey (SF)
- Team: Villanova
- Age: 21.7
- Height: 6-8
- Weight: 220
- Wingspan: 6-10
As they did with their previous pick, the Pistons did not take the best player available at No. 19, in my opinion. This selection was acquired in a complicated three-team deal, which included sending Luke Kennard to the Clippers and fellow guard Bruce Brown to the Nets. The Pistons appear to have given up a lot for Bey, and they may regret passing on Precious Achiuwa and R.J. Hampton (again).
Bey is a versatile forward, who can play anywhere between the 2 through 4 spots, and he can defend both inside and out. Though his ceiling is not very high, he should be a solid 3-and-D player for a Detroit team that could use both.
Read more: Saddiq Bey Scouting Report
20. Precious Achiuwa (PF)
- Team: Memphis
- Age: 21.3
- Height: 6’8’’
- Weight: 235
- Wingspan: 7’1’’
Achiuwa finally came off the board, and he landed in a great spot. The Heat made it all the way to the 2020 NBA Finals, but fell short, losing to the Lakers. The team managed to retain most of its key contributors, with the exception of power forward Jae Crowder. There are a number of similarities between Achiuwa and Crowder, and the youngster from Memphis might play a bigger role than expected as a rookie. In two preseason games, Achiuwa averaged 10.5 points and 8.5 rebounds, while shooting 69.2 percent from the floor.
Last season, Achiuwa was an older freshman on a very young Memphis team that struggled with turnovers and shot selection. 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 via a Moses Malone-like method, 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 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.
21. Tyrese Maxey (CG)
- Team: Kentucky
- Age: 20.1
- Height: 6’3’’
- Weight: 195
- Wingspan: 6’6’’
- Vertical: 29’’ standing and 35.5’’ max
The Sixers came into the draft with a clear need for a backup point guard, who could facilitate and defend, a backup power forward with upside, and shooters in general. I favored R.J. Hampton, Theo Maledon, or Malachi Flynn at this spot, especially given the Sixers’ needs.
Maxey is a tweener. He’s a shoot-first point guard, who is not overly creative or skilled as a passer, and he lacks ideal size to be a two guard. However, the youngster proved at Kentucky that could effectively function at either guard spot, could play without the ball in his hands, and could be a tenacious on-ball defender.
This past season, Maxey was an All-SEC selection. He 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 guard, with above-average speed and quickness, but lacks 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 excellent 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. At Kentucky, he shot a “flat” ball, with a very low release point, and he was poor from beyond the 3-point line. Fixing his shot has been a pre-draft focus for the youngster, and he displayed improved form during his “pro day” with Anthony Edwards. Additionally, Maxey 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.
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.
22. Zeke Nnaji (PF/C)
- Team: Arizona
- Age: 19.6
- Height: 6’10’’
- Weight: 245
- Wingspan: 7’2’’
- Vertical: 33’’ standing, 38’’ max
Nnaji was considered a borderline first-rounder by most, and the Nuggets may have reached a little with this pick in an attempt to fill a need at forward, with an eye on returning to the Western Conference Semifinals. The only player on the Denver roster older than 30 years old is power forward Paul Millsap (36), who is on the decline. Additionally, one of the Nuggets’ most valuable postseason contributors, swing forward Jerami Grant, left for Detroit via free agency. Losing Grant could be a huge blow because he was arguably the team’s best defender. Even with him in the playoffs, the Nuggets struggled defensively compared to the other 15 teams, ranking 12th for defensive efficiency, 13th for defensive rebounding percentage, 14th for points allowed in the paint, and 10th for 3-point percentage allowed.
Nnaji is very athletic for a big, and he is a proven rebounder and inside scorer. His rim protection needs to improve, and it remains to be seen how well he can shoot from deep and defend on the perimeter. Based on preseason action, he will not be a part of the rotation anytime soon, but the Arizona freshman’s long-term potential is intriguing.
Read more: Zeke Nnaji Scouting Report
23. Leandro Bolmaro (PG/W)
- Team: FC Barcelona II
- Age: 20.3
- Height: 6’7’’
- Weight: 200
- Wingspan: 6’8’’
This pick came via a swap with the Knicks, and was the Timberwolves’ second of three first-round selections. Another borderline first-rounder, Bolmaro solidified his position in the first round when he announced that he would stay in Spain for at least one more year. Minnesota had/has a need for an upgrade at power forward, but a promising draft-and-stash player was a good option at this spot.
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 explosion and length. He is on the lanky side, but has a solid frame that can afford more muscle.
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 from January 11 until March 8, when league play was suspended due to the COVID virus. When the ACB resumed action in June, Bolmaro saw 25 minutes of action in two games with the senior team. In total, he played in 24 games last season, averaging 17.2 minutes, 8.0 points, 1.6 boards, 2.5 assists, and 1.2 steals per game, with shooting splits of .423/.293/.711 and an A/T ratio of 1.45.
Bolmaro 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, though he rarely finishes with his off (left) hand. The 20-year-old Argentinean 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 29 percent of his 3-point attempts and 68 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 youngster 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 of a rebounder or a shot blocker, but he has excellent anticipation and thrives as a ball thief.
24. R.J. Hampton (CG)
- Team: New Zealand
- Age: 19.9
- Height: 6’5’’
- Weight: 185
- Wingspan: 6’7’’
This was a good selection by the Nuggets, who acquired this pick as a part of the four-team Jrue Holiday trade. Denver gave up its 2023 first-round pick (top-14 protected) to land Hampton, the 15th ranked prospect on the HP Draft Board. A lottery-like talent, Hampton is an ultra-athletic combo guard with great size. Still 19 years old, it may be a couple years before he’s a regular in the rotation, but Jamal Murray could clearly use some help in the backcourt now in order for the Nuggets to take the next step.
Read more: R.J. Hampton Scouting Report
25. Immanuel Quickley (SG)
- Team: Kentucky
- Age: 21.5
- Height: 6’3’’
- Weight: 185
- Wingspan: 6’8’’
- Vertical: 30’’ standing, 36’’ max
The Knicks acquired this via a pick swap with Utah, followed by another with Minnesota. Having ignored their need at point guard and lack of overall shooting earlier in the first round, selecting Quickley was a good move, though I favored either Theo Maledon or Malachi Flynn.
Quickley, one of the more underrated players in this draft, is athletic, long, can shoot the lights out, and plays solid defense. A combo guard, he mainly played off the ball at Kentucky, but during the preseason, he displayed playmaking skills, averaging 4.3 assists in three games.
Read more: Immanuel Quickley Scouting Report
26. Payton Pritchard (PG)
- Team: Oregon
- Age: 22.9
- Height: 6’2’’
- Weight: 190
- Wingspan: 6’4’’
Pritchard may have been my favorite player to watch over the past two college seasons, but with all due respect, I must say that I was very surprised when the Celtics selected him in the first round. At this spot in the draft, Theo Maledon and Malachi Flynn were available, and both were ranked significantly higher on the HP Draft Board. Maledon offers better size and has much more upside due to his youth. Flynn and Pritchard have a number of similarities, but the former is a better defender.
Going into the draft, the Celtics certainly had need of a backup point guard whose strength is facilitating for others. Boston was near the bottom of the league (25th) last season for assist percentage, partially because they have a number of excellent isolation players, but also because they lack a true lead guard.
After the draft, the Celtics addressed their issues at the point by signing veteran free agent Jeff Teague, but the team experienced a setback when Kemba Walker suffered a left knee injury in early December and was projected to miss more than a month. In preseason action, Prichard averaged nearly 21 minutes per game over four contests; the rookie had his share of ups and downs, and it remains to be seen if he and Teague will be able to “hold the fort” while Walker is sidelined.
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 (ninth most 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.
Read More: Payton Pritchard Scouting Report
27. Udoka Azubuike (C)
- Team: Kansas
- Age: 21.3
- Height: 6’11’’
- Weight: 260
- Wingspan: 7’7’’
- Vertical: 34’’ standing, 38’’ max
To be blunt, I didn’t understand this pick at all.
The Jazz were knocked out of the playoffs, losing a hard-fought series with the Nuggets. Three things were fairly clear in that series: 1) Utah is not an elite defensive team on the perimeter (allowed Denver to make better than 42 percent from deep), 2) 33-year-old point guard Mike Conley’s best days are behind him, and 3) the team needs another elite scorer to help Donovan Mitchell. On the plus side, forward Bojan Bogdanovic will be returning from injury to help ease Mitchell’s scoring load.
None of the three items listed above are related to the Jazz needing a center. The club just signed Rudy Gobert, a two-time Defensive Player of the Year, to a five-year, $205-million contract extension, and free agent Derrick Favors was added as a backup. Azubuike saw less than 20 minutes of action in the preseason, which supports the idea that the team doesn’t have a room for him in the rotation, and more importantly, even though he was a great college player, he projects to be nothing more than a backup in the NBA.
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 project to be a backup at the next level? 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 as a senior, 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 past season, he shot a career high of 44.1 percent from the charity stripe.
28. Jaden McDaniels (F)
- Team: Washington
- Age: 20.2
- Height: 6’10’’
- Weight: 200
- Wingspan: 7’0’’
The Timberwolves were obviously not interested in playing it safe in this draft, and similar to the selection of Anthony Edwards, this pick has trouble written all over it. McDaniels is this year’s version of Nassir Little or Kevin Porter (take your pick), and he will be added to a mercurial mix of Edwards, Malik Beasley, D’Angelo Russell, and Karl-Anthony Towns. I’ll be shocked if this story ends well.
McDaniels is a boom-or-bust prospect, who could have gone anywhere between picks 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 steadily slipped down draft boards during the season due to his inconsistent play and other factors.
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 combined steals and 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.
McDaniels is definitely on the lanky side, and needs to add muscle. I also believe that recruiting evaluators overestimated his athleticism, as he tends to be a bit stiff when dribbling and defending. Even so, if he can fill out, play with consistent effort, and continue to knock down shots, he’ll make it in the NBA.
29. Malachi Flynn (PG)
- Team: San Diego State
- Age: 22.6
- Height: 6’2’’
- Weight: 185
- Wingspan: 6’3’’
As is often the case with Toronto, the selection of Flynn was a shrewd move. The Raptors had some tough offseason choices to make, knowing they would lose one or two key contributors via free agency. Ultimately, centers Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka departed, and guard Fred VanVleet was re-signed.
At this spot in the draft, the Raptors had to decide between selecting a potential center for the future or a true lead guard to back up 34-year-old Kyle Lowry. Considering the players remaining, Flynn was a great choice. Ironically, he has often been compared to VanVleet. Flynn is a little dynamo, who can shoot, pass, and defend.
Read more: Malachi Flynn Scouting Report
30. Desmond Bane (W)
- Team: TCU
- Age: 22.5
- Height: 6’6’’
- Weight: 215
- Wingspan: 6’4’’
- Vertical: 40 inches max
The Grizzlies overachieved last season, but depleted by injuries, they could not hold onto the eighth spot in the Western Conference standings. Statistically, Memphis was better on the defensive end (ranked 14th for efficiency) than on offense (ranked 21st). Specifically, the Grizzlies struggled to make jump shots and stop opposing shooters. They ranked 24th for PPP on half-court jumpers, and at the same time, they ranked 24th for 3-point percentage allowed. Point forward Justise Winslow, acquired from Miami at the trade deadline, did not play for Memphis due to injury, but eventually, he should help the team’s perimeter defense. However, with a career 3-point percentage of 33.7, Winslow is unlikely to boost the club in the shooting department.
Fully aware of their need for shooting, the Grizzlies jumped into the first round via a three-team deal. They then selected Bane, one of the top sharpshooters in this class. The TCU senior finished his college career with a three-point percentage of 43.3, never making less than 38 percent in any of his four seasons. In preseason action, Bane has continued that trend, making 38 percent of his attempts from deep.
Read more: Desmond Bane Scouting Report
Sources, Credits, and Acknowledgements: Stats used in our scouting reports mainly come from Synergy Sports Technology, RealGM.com, and Sports-Reference.com. Other outside sources are noted with links to the source.