Scouting Every Potential 2020 Top Pick's Biggest Weakness
NBA teams should start the 2019-20 season with a list of top names to scout. And each of those prospects will have a specific weakness for evaluators to monitor.
Scouts like to study players at the earliest stage to see how far they wind up progressing. We pointed out the baseline weaknesses for scouts to acknowledge and ultimately track from now until the 2020 draft.
With an overload of prospects declaring early in 2019, the top of the 2020 board includes only incoming freshmen and international players, though a few upperclassmen are sure to break out once the season starts.
These are the names we feel most strongly about having a shot at next year's lottery.
Anthony Edwards (Georgia, SG, Freshman)
Weakness to monitor: Playing off ball/impacting winning
Our projected No. 1 pick entering the season, Anthony Edwards possesses an undeniable mix of natural talent and advanced skills. Can he convert them into winning basketball?
USA didn't even ask him to play at the Nike Hoop Summit. He's had no FIBA experience. At Holy Spirit, there were games in which he had trouble making an impact when the offense wasn't run through him.
Physical and athletic, Edwards is tremendous with the ball, capable of exploding to the rim or separating into pull-up and step-back jumpers. Learning how to efficiently score and create playing off the ball—or when the defense game-plans around him—will be his challenge in college and the NBA.
Cole Anthony (North Carolina, PG, Freshman)
Weakness to monitor: Floor game
Lottery teams looking for a new lead guard will be closely scouting Cole Anthony, a dynamic scoring ball-handler who needs work on his shot selection, decision-making and overall floor game.
Though skilled, athletic and capable of carrying an offense with one-on-one shot creation and shot-making, he can get carried away with over-dribbling and hero ball.
He averaged 3.8 assists to 3.6 turnovers last year through 21 AAU games between EYBL and Peach Jam.
Putting up points won't be a problem for the confident freshman at North Carolina. If evaluators question his NBA fit and potential, they'll likely ask about his feel for running an offense, balancing scoring with playmaking and playing under control.
LaMelo Ball (Australia, PG/SG, 2001)
Weakness to monitor: Inefficiency/shot selection
Scouts should be thrilled that LaMelo Ball chose Australia over training away from competition.
He won't have the freedom to launch logo pull-ups for the Illawarra Hawks, playing alongside and against grown men and pros with more on the line.
Known for his skill level but also over-the-top flash in terms of shot selection and decision-making, Ball should be eager to show NBA teams he can efficiently score and pass in a structured offense.
His body and versatility have developed nicely throughout high school. Now, teams will focus on assessing whether Ball's maturity and professionalism have similarly improved.
Deni Avdija (Israel, SF/PF, 2001)
Weakness to monitor: Athletic limitations mixed with erratic shooting touch
Among 2020 prospects, 6'9" combo forward/point wing Deni Avdija has had arguably the best July, as he was named MVP of the U20 European Championships after carrying Israel to a gold medal. From his size to skill versatility and basketball IQ, he checks boxes across the board with statistical production to back them up.
Avdija doesn't have one standout weakness; instead, it's a mix of limited athleticism and up-and-down shooting touch that raise questions about his NBA upside.
At 215 pounds, he's not always adept at finishing through contact inside, and he lacks explosiveness in the lane, leading to lower-percentage finishing attempts or tough pull-ups.
And despite being a dangerous shot-maker around the perimeter, his touch isn't always there. This month, he shot 28.6 percent from three and 60.0 percent from the line. Last year in 51 games with Maccabi Tel Aviv, between pro and junior leagues, he shot 27.7 percent from three and 51.2 percent from the line.
His tools, well-rounded game and success overseas point to a high floor. Whether he settles into the NBA as a role player or blows up into a star may come down to his scoring efficiency in traffic and shooting consistency.
Killian Hayes (France, PG/SG, 2001)
Weakness to monitor: Distance shooting
Just 17 years old, Killian Hayes played 34 games last year in France's Jeep Elite league, giving scouts glimpses of potential as a scorer, passer and defender. His jump shot appears to be a major swing skill.
He finished just 14-of-77 (18.2 percent) from behind the arc last year with Cholet. He shot 25.0 percent on 3.4 three-point attempts per game during the 2018 U17 World Cup.
Given his age and 82.0 percent free-throw mark in 2018-19, plus a shooting stroke that looks relatively capable, optimism remains over Hayes' perimeter shot-making. Since his jump shot can hugely affect his value and trajectory, scouts will be paying close attention this season to his attempts.
Theo Maledon (France, PG, 2001)
Weakness to monitor: Explosion/creativity
Theo Maledon has emerged as a top 2020 prospect by starting and producing at 17 years old (now 18) in Eurocup and the Jeep Elite league. His upside isn't fueled by positional athleticism or one-on-one skills, however.
He's efficient, typically taking the right steps and hesitations, making the right passes and converting floaters, pull-ups and spot-ups when open. But he isn't a blow-by driver, explosive finisher or advanced shot-creator off the dribble.
Maledon's 5.1 free-throw attempts per 40 minutes paint a picture of a guard who doesn't put notable pressure on the rim. He lacks shiftiness and specialty shots in his bag as a perimeter scorer or driver.
NBA teams will be scouting to decide whether Maledon will have similar trouble creating separation as Frank Ntilikina has in New York. Or, if he'll find ways to compensate the way the ASVEL president Tony Parker did in San Antonio.
James Wiseman (Memphis, C, Freshman)
Weakness to monitor: Feel for the game/toughness
There are scouts who'd bet on James Wiseman as 2020's top pick. Others will have concerns about how his questionable feel for the game will limit the impact his undeniable talent should be making.
Athletic with 7'0" size and a 7'6" wingspan, Wiseman is an easy-basket weapon around the basket. His tools and bounce should result in a greater impact on defense and the glass, however.
He tends to hunt for blocks and fall out of position. His pick-and-roll coverage and reads need work. Between 21 EYBL and Peach Jam games last year, he averaged just 6.6 rebounds.
Offensively, Wiseman can have trouble resisting the urge to showcase perimeter skills that aren't sharp enough. Though he's improved his jump shot and ball-handling, low-percentage step-back jumpers or fallaways are part of his shot selection, which can be frustrating.
Wiseman appeared to take a step in the right direction at the Nike Hoop Summit. But to go No. 1 or maintain his status as premier prospect for 2020, he'll want to diminish concerns about his feel and toughness at both ends.
RJ Hampton (Australia, PG/SG, 2001)
Weakness to monitor: Shooting consistency
NBA teams must fly overseas this year to scout RJ Hampton, who'll want to shoot well with the New Zealand Breakers.
At 6'5", he's an impressive shot-creator and developing facilitator in the mold of a combo guard for his scoring and playmaking. Hampton has flashed signs of improved shot-making—now the goal is to convince scouts with more shooting consistency.
Hampton shot 26.9 percent from three in April during EYBL play. In 2018, he shot 31.2 percent during AAU. In seven FIBA games over the summers of 2018 and 2017, he was 6-of-19 from three.
Though capable of both pulling up and spotting up, his percentages have called for improvement. Likely to spend more time this season working off the ball, Hampton should be extra determined to become a reliable shooter.
Nico Mannion (Arizona, PG, Freshman)
Weakness to monitor: Physical tools/creation upside
A competitive, well-rounded scorer and distributor, Nico Mannion will have to sell scouts on his ability to create against NBA athletes.
He's fearless attacking downhill and capable of rising high for a finish, but he lacks wiggle off the dribble and doesn't have significant length (6'2½") to get more separation.
Can he shake free for clean pull-ups or turn the corner without a ball screen? Will he finish inside at a good-enough rate? It wouldn't be surprising if his two-point percentage brings down his true shooting mark in 2019-20.
Tyrese Maxey (Kentucky, SG, Freshman)
Weakness to monitor: Playmaking
Given Tyrese Maxey's identity—a pure scorer—playmaking isn't so much a weakness as it is an area that needs improvement to create a more well-rounded attack.
At 6'2", he lacks traditional 2-guard size, and given his jumper-heavy offensive bag, it will become tougher to stay efficient as he moves from high school to college and the pros. Developing into a more versatile player and effective setup man should be a priority to have a way to help his team during games when his shot isn't falling as frequently.
He'll want to give scouts more confidence that he can be used as a combo on the ball, capable of creating for teammates.
Precious Achiuwa (Memphis, SF, Freshman)
Weakness to monitor: Offensive polish
An explosive 6'9", 215-pound forward, Precious Achiuwa has the physical profile, athleticism and defensive chops, and his offensive skill level is on the rise. But his scoring and passing attack are still behind.
He's not a strong shot-creator. Achiuwa relies on transition, straight-line drives and cuts. His ball-handling moves need work. He's improved, showing some pull-up ability, but he lacks polish in terms of creating high-percentage looks or countering against a set defense. And he offers minimal value as a playmaker or passer.
Though he's become a more threatening shot-maker, the numbers over the years suggest he's still a ways away. Achiuwa shot 11-of-40 from three and 58.5 percent from the free-throw line in 19 AAU games in 2018. He was 1-of-8 from three between the McDonald's All-American Game and Nike Hoop Summit.
Josh Green (Arizona, SG/SF, Freshman)
Weakness to monitor: Master of none
Josh Green's signature strength—versatility—also points to his biggest question mark. What's his bread and butter? Though equipped with driving ability, passing and shot-making skills, he isn't an advanced creator or shooter.
He's a transition weapon, a straight-line slasher and spot-up threat. In the half court, however, he's not a sharp or clever one-on-one scorer. He isn't comfortable pulling up for jumpers or advanced enough as a playmaker to be frequently used in ball-screen situations.
He's had promising stretches of shooting during high school and AAU, but between his mechanics, inconsistency and lower volume of three-point attempts, it's unreasonable to expect a reliable shooter in the near future.
Likely to spend most of his time next year spotting up, Green may have trouble scoring consistently.
Jaden McDaniels (Washington, PF, Freshman)
Weakness to watch: Impact/execution
Jaden McDaniels would be in the mix for No. 1 if talent was the only attribute being evaluated. He even has the versatile skill set to go with it in terms of shot-creation and shot-making. He just doesn't execute enough, and he drifts too often.
A big with his size and athleticism should shoot better than 48.4 percent in AAU. He's doesn't embrace contact, and though he's confident in his jumper, it's not reliable (27.1 percent 3PT).
McDaniels prefers more of a finesse game, while his lack of assertiveness can be frustrating to watch.
Rarely popping or making a difference on defense, McDaniels is still mostly all potential.
Scottie Lewis (Florida, SG/SF, Freshman)
Weakness to monitor: Offensive control/shot selection
Coaches are bound to fall in love with Scottie Lewis' vocal leadership, competitiveness and defense. He'll cause frustration with wild drives and low-percentage mid-range shots, however.
Lewis gets sped up too easily on offense. He needs to do a better job of picking his spots and adjusting to what the defense shows.
Though capable of creating separation into pull-ups, step-backs and finishes, he doesn't go to them at the right times. And too frequently it results in bad attempts and misses.
He has an exciting scoring skill set in place—scouts will now want to see him add polish in terms of reading and executing.
Isaiah Stewart (Washington, C, Freshman)
Weakness to monitor: NBA fit/upside
Powerful and chiseled at 6'9", 245 pounds, Isaiah Stewart has a tremendous physical profile. But in today's league, when valuable bigs are typically either stretching the floor, playmaking or protecting the rim at a high level, it's difficult to picture Stewart's path to stardom.
In college and eventually the pros, he'll make noise by finishing, rebounding and outworking opponents around the basket. However, Stewart doesn't project as a dangerous three-point shooter anytime soon. And he isn't a threat to face up and attack or grab and go off the defensive glass.
And in 32 logged games over the years between AAU, FIBA and high school All-Star events, he only averaged one block per game.
There's nothing wrong about having an efficient, active big inside. But there also isn't anything overly exciting about Stewart's upside.
High school and international stats courtesy of RealGM.com.