Biggest Hurdle for Every NBA Team's Most Promising Rookies

Jonathan Wasserman@@NBADraftWassNBA Lead WriterSeptember 13, 2019

Biggest Hurdle for Every NBA Team's Most Promising Rookies

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    Each rookie will enter the league with a weakness that will create specific hurdles during their transition from college or overseas to the NBA.

    Even the top picks will have early challenges based on the particular holes in their games. 

    Taking into account skills and the prospect's team situation, we pinpointed the major obstacles every first-round pick will face. Second-rounders expected to eventually have a role were also included.


    Dallas, Houston, Milwaukee and Sacramento were omitted because of their lack of notable rookies.  

Atlanta Hawks

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    De'Andre Hunter, SF/PF: Scoring/creating

    The Atlanta Hawks will call on Hunter for three-and-D play, but they shouldn't bank on him for creation or consistent scoring production.

    With the offense running through Trae Young, John Collins and Kevin Huerter, Hunter will rely mostly on scoring chances out of spot-ups. He wasn't prolific from deep in college, having attempted just 2.3 threes per game through two years at Virginia. And last season, he struggled off the dribble, converting 23-of-62 pull-ups.

    His one-on-one game is basic, and he lacks the explosiveness to easily separate or get fouled. The Hawks will value his defensive versatility, and he'll offer open-shot-making ability while threatening to finish off cuts and in space around the key. But despite going No. 4, Hunter will struggle to routinely reach double figures in scoring.


    Cam Reddish, SG/SF: Off-ball role, skill execution 

    A point wing and No. 1 option in high school, Reddish struggled to adjust to an off-ball role at Duke, where he shot 35.6 percent behind Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett. His role won't be much different in Atlanta.

    A scorer who thrives off rhythm and confidence, Reddish will continue to have to stand around the arc and wait for catch-and-shoot chances. Even when given the opportunity to create or work off the dribble, he's not efficient in traffic as a scorer or finisher at the rim (47.3 percent last year). 

    There will be games when Reddish catches fire. But he's poised to finish below 40.0 percent from the floor again, and with Huerter, Hunter, Allen Crabbe, DeAndre' Bembry, Vince Carter and Jabari Parker around, the No. 10 pick won't have the longest leash as a rookie. 

Boston Celtics

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    Romeo Langford, SG: Role adjustment/shooting

    A lead scorer in high school and college, Langford finds himself behind Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum and Marcus Smart on the Boston Celtics' depth chart. Consistent playing time won't be there, and even when it is, Langford will work off the ball after he shot just 26.8 percent on catch-and-shoot attempts last year and 27.2 percent on threes. 

    He's looking at a major role adjustment that will force him to play to his weaknesses—unless coach Brad Stevens gives him reps as a pick-and-roll ball-handler. 

    Langford does thrive as a cutter (19-of-23 on such attempts last year) and finisher (63.6 percent). But his shaky jump shot, unfamiliar role and lower usage could result in a challenging rookie season.


    Grant Williams, PF: NBA size/athleticism 

    Compared to their backcourt, the Celtics are thin up front, meaning Stevens could call on Williams. But at 6'7" and without any explosion, the rookie may have trouble with NBA-sized bigs, particularly on offense.

    The post was his office at Tennessee (29.7 percent of his offense), but it seems unlikely Stevens will run plays through him there as a rookie. And his strength won't be as advantageous as it was in college. Bigger and longer forwards will make it tougher for Williams to separate around the basket, and he hasn't shown he's ready to work as a stretch forward, having shot 15-of-46 from three during his third NCAA season.

    Williams also wasn't a dominant rebounder at Tennessee, pulling in just 12.7 percent of opponent misses throughout his career. Stevens will value Williams' signature basketball IQ, especially on defense. But don't expect the 18.8 points per game to carry over. 


    Carsen Edwards, PG/SG: Staying efficient 

    There isn't any mystery surrounding Edwards' NBA role and value. He'll be used for his streaky shot-making and firepower in a microwave bench role. But he shot just 39.4 percent last year, including 44.0 percent inside the arc. And he totaled more turnovers (113) than assists (104), meaning Stevens is likely looking at a 6'0", non-playmaking 2-guard. 

    Edwards can put up points in a hurry—he drilled 28 threes in four NCAA tournament games before averaging 19.4 points in summer league. His shot-making range and confidence can bury even the tightest defense when he's locked in. However, Edwards' shot selection, lack of facilitating ability and struggles in crowds will lead to poor shooting percentages and inconsistency.

Brooklyn Nets

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    Nicolas Claxton, PF/C: Lack of polish and opportunity 

    There won't be minutes at center for Claxton when DeAndre Jordan and Jarrett Allen are healthy. Taurean Prince and Rodions Kurucs figure to play heavy minutes at power forward, leaving little room for Claxton in the Brooklyn Nets' rotation.

    He won't be ready, anyway, particularly after he missed time during summer league. For an athletic, 6'11" sophomore at Georgia, Claxton registered an underwhelming 52.2 true shooting percentage, and lacked strength for finishing, ball skills for creating and touch on his jump shot (64.1 percent FT, 28.1 percent 3PT).

    He's more intriguing for his defensive versatility and switchability, but Claxton is too thin and raw offensively to justify rookie playing time. He'll presumably spend more time with the G League's Long Island Nets than the NBA club.

Charlotte Hornets

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    P.J. Washington, PF: Scoring consistency 

    Even on a team that could compete for the NBA's worst record, Washington is still looking at a reserve role. And despite improving his shooting at Kentucky, he doesn't have a bankable scoring skill.

    He's most comfortable in the post, but he won't see many featured touches there per game. 

    Still not an advanced shot-creator, Washington will rely heavily on open threes, cuts and finishes around the basket. But with the Charlotte Hornets, he won't have much talent to play off or passing point guards known for setting up teammates.

    Washington is a polished all-around player—from his footwork to his touch and IQ. But on this team, during his first NBA season, the Hornets shouldn't expect a consistent source of scoring.  

Chicago Bulls

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    Coby White, PG: Consistency, facilitating 

    On draft night, it seemed like White could compete for the Chicago Bulls' starting point guard job as a rookie. Then he shot 33.7 percent in summer league and the team signed Tomas Satoransky, who's having a huge World Cup for Spain.

    White's execution off the dribble and playmaking won't be up to lead-guard standards. He made just 29-of-116 pull-ups at North Carolina, and while his 4.1 assists per game highlighted good ball-screen passes, he generated just one assist out of isolation all season. 

    White isn't the most effective at using his dribble to set up teammates. And as a scorer, he'll be vulnerable to cold streaks because of tougher shot selection and overuse of his pull-up.

    The Bulls should use him to change the pace with his streaky shot-making off the bench. White went off for 27-plus points five times at North Carolina. But Chicago can't expect consistent or efficient production.

Cleveland Cavaliers

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    Darius Garland, PG: Playmaking/decision-making

    Even though Garland lasted just five games at Vanderbilt before he tore a meniscus, his weaknesses are well-defined heading into 2019-20. Though he's one of the draft's top shooters, his passing and decision-making are lacking for a typical No. 5 pick expected to start at point guard. 

    Before the injury, Garland totaled 15 turnovers and 13 assists, looking more like a scoring ball-handler than a player built to run an offense. On one hand, Cleveland Cavaliers teammate Collin Sexton should help take pressure off the rookie. But Sexton will limit Garland's playmaking even further and potentially delay his lead-guard development.

    The rookie can deliver assists off ball screens, but Garland doesn't pass well under pressure, nor does he use the dribble often to set up teammates. He won't have as much trouble with making shots, but his assist-to-turnover ratio won't look like a starting point guard's. 


    Dylan Windler, SF: Creating and separating, scoring from own creativity 

    Windler has the chance to be a surprise rookie contributor with an off-ball skill set that can quickly translate to three-point makes and layups off cuts. However, against a set defense, he'll have trouble creating and executing off his own creativity.

    He lacks explosiveness and plays hunched over. Separating as a one-on-one scorer and finisher through his defender will be challenging as he moves from the Ohio Valley Conference to the NBA. Don't count on coach John Beilein to run any offense through Windler or ask him to put the ball on the floor.


    Kevin Porter Jr., SG: Off-ball role

    Advanced shot-creation separates Porter, but he often struggled to get into USC's offensive flow, frequently coming off the bench as a spot-up player. Even with the flashy one-on-one skills, Porter's execution (5-of-17 in isolation) wasn't consistent. He also won't have a green light in Cleveland to dance and over-dribble while others stand around.

    His shot selection includes an uncomfortable dose of low-percentage hero jumpers. And he won't add enough playmaking to offset poor shooting games.

    With Porter expected to play a similar role early in Cleveland to the one he filled at USC, his hurdle will be finding ways to score off the ball by capitalizing as a catch-and-shooter and pull-up/driving threat past closeouts. 

Denver Nuggets

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    Michael Porter Jr.: Rust, creating separation 

    Porter played 53 minutes at Missouri before he sat out the 2018-19 season with the Denver Nuggets. He even missed summer league again. It's going to take time to build his confidence, conditioning and general timing.

    And he may not have many opportunities early in Denver, especially after the Nuggets added Jerami Grant to back up Paul Millsap. Juan Hernangomez will also be coming off what's been a strong World Cup for Spain.

    Head coach Mike Malone will presumably find short stretches for Porter, but inconsistent playing time seems inevitable.  

    In terms of execution-related hurdles, creating separation will be a challenge. His lack of explosiveness off the dribble and at the rim was evident after his return from back injuries suffered during college.

    Still, the bar is low enough that Porter's main goal will be finishing the year without any physical setbacks. 


    Bol Bol, C: Physicality

    Bol lasted nine games at Oregon before a foot injury ended his season. With the rookie listed at 7'2" but just 208 pounds, it's reasonable to question how his body will take contact against NBA centers.

    His frame and limbs are painfully skinny, and though there were other reasons behind his fall to No. 44, it's still not easy to picture Bol fighting for position and rebounds. 

    It will likely be a quiet year for the second-round pick, who'll focus on strengthening his body and improving his conditioning.

Detroit Pistons

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    Sekou Doumbouya, SF/PF: Offensive execution, defensive awareness 

    Doumbouya was the 2019 draft's youngest player (he doesn't turn 19 until December) and isn't sharp enough in any area for early rotational minutes. 

    He could eventually receive a chance this season, however, since the Detroit Pistons lack talent and depth at small forward. Doumbouya made 29 threes last year, and he has a solid 6'9" frame and the athleticism to finish off cuts and transition chances.

    But his ball-handling and shot-creation are too far behind, and his jump shot won't be reliable during his first season while he plays sparingly. 

    Expect defensive mistakes as well. Despite impressive natural ability and strong tools for sliding and switching, Doumbouya doesn't always anticipate or make the right reads. He'll struggle at first while he adjusts to faster opponents and the referee's whistle. 

Golden State Warriors

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    Jordan Poole, SG: Staying efficient 

    With Klay Thompson injured (torn ACL) and Kevin Durant gone, the Golden State Warriors presumably took Poole for his signature scoring ability. It's activated using difficult shot selection, however, and it could be challenging for Poole to stay efficient with such a jumper-heavy attack.

    Though a nifty shot-creator who's capable of separating off various advanced moves, he's not sharp enough to regularly execute pull-ups and step-backs. And in Golden State, he won't have full-time minutes or a high-usage role to get loose and confident.

    Head coach Steve Kerr will value Poole for his shot-making—last year he made two three-pointers per game and 50.0 percent of his unguarded catch-and-shoot chances. But Poole won't have a long leash because of his streakiness, questionable decision-making and lackadaisical defense.


    Eric Paschall, SF/PF: Finding his bread and butter

    The Warriors may use both rookies, including second-round pick Paschall for his versatility. But it's still unclear what skill or strength he has that's better than average.

    His shot-creation is basic. He can make threes, but it took him three years to do so, and he finished at 34.8 percent last year as a senior with Villanova. He totaled more turnovers (82) than assists (77). And though capable of guarding multiple positions, he's never been known to lock down any. 

    He'll add occasional shot-making, opportunistic line-driving and toughness. But holding a role without a bankable skill could be tough for Paschall.

Indiana Pacers

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    Goga Bitadze, C: Defensive range

    Bitadze emerged as a first-round pick by expanding his scoring repertoire and shooting range. The No. 1 question scouts asked was about his defensive range.

    Though a timely shot-blocker, Bitadze, 6'11", 245 pounds, doesn't project as a switchable defender or an interchangeable part between big-man positions. Because of his limited lateral foot speed and lack of off-the-dribble game, he'll only play center for the Indiana Pacers.

    Opposing point guards are bound to target Bitadze in high pick-and-rolls. Their eyes will light up if given the chance to go at him in space. Bitadze could be tough to give minutes to if opposing teams go small with a forward at the 5. 

Los Angeles Clippers

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    Mfiondu Kabengele, PF/C: Decision-making/awareness, two-point scoring 

    Though Kabengele is 6'10" and 256 pounds, the strength that may be most useful to the Los Angeles Clippers is his shooting. He connected on a combined 37.4 percent from three in two seasons at Florida State and 7-of-16 during summer league. The eye test shows a fluid, believable stroke. It's when he puts the ball down or is forced to make a read that he runs into trouble. 

    Through 71 NCAA games, he totaled 83 turnovers and 21 assists. And a career 49.8 field-goal percentage doesn't match up with his immense physical tools. 

    He also struggled to stay on the floor at Florida State, where he played fewer than 22 minutes per game both seasons, having averaged 5.8 fouls per 40 minutes as a freshman and 4.8 per 40 as a sophomore.

    In terms of creating a role on this loaded team, less will be more for Kabengele, who'll just want to stick to his strengths as a spot-up shooter, easy-bucket finisher and high-energy presence.

Los Angeles Lakers

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    Talen Horton-Tucker, SG/SF: Offensive execution

    Still 18 until Thanksgiving, Horton-Tucker figures to play most of his minutes this year in the G League while ironing out his jump shot, finishing moves, in-between game and decision-making. 

    It's easy to see why the Lakers showed interest—at 6'4", 235 pounds, Horton-Tucker possesses a tremendous physical profile, quick ball-handling moves and confident shot-making ability. But he only shot 40.6 percent from the floor last season, including 52.5 percent at the rim, 30.0 percent on runners, 28.6 percent in the mid-range and 30.8 percent from three. 

    His level of execution isn't sharp enough in any one area yet. And he lacks the explosiveness to earn easy baskets and free throws. 

    Missing summer league won't help with his preparation. The Lakers will wind up using the year to groom Horton-Tucker for 2020-21. 

Memphis Grizzlies

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    Ja Morant, PG: Scoring/playmaking efficiency, defense 

    Morant led the nation in both transition points per game and assists last year, and it's safe to assume he'll continue to excel as a fast-break weapon and passer for the Memphis Grizzlies. Efficient scoring and playmaking in the half court will take longer.

    He relies heavily on getting downhill, but NBA defenses will focus on slowing him. Morant takes time to get off his pull-up, which he only shot at a 32.1 percent clip last season. He isn't a major threat while stepping into jumpers inside the arc, having only made a pair of two-pointers all season beyond 17 feet. He improved his three-ball, but there are still questions about its legitimacy and low release. 

    At 175 pounds, Morant could also struggle in the paint, where he shot 54.3 percent at the rim and 10-of-32 on runners. His touch and power off one foot could hold back his finishing effectiveness, even with all that explosiveness.

    Careless gambling will probably show at both ends. Morant averaged 5.2 turnovers per game and wasn't always locked in defensively last season.

    The stats will be there right away. The No. 2 pick will have a high usage and a green light to play through mistakes. He'll create highlights in the open floor and finish among the NBA's assist leaders. But he won't shoot a high percentage, consistently make good decisions or give opponents problems with his defending.


    Brandon Clarke, PF: Creating/scoring/fit for upside

    Clarke comes off as one of the draft's highest-floor prospects, with exceptional bounce, motor and instincts that translate to easy baskets, defense and hustle plays. But because he's 6'8", 207 pounds, opposing power forwards will have a significant physical advantage.

    He's also not skilled enough yet to play the wing. It's not out of the question that Clarke's game will continue to evolve based on the transformation he underwent as he moved from San Jose State to Gonzaga to summer league, where he was named MVP.

    He'll be used as an off-ball energizer at both ends early on in Memphis. His hurdle will be creating offense and scoring until his off-the-dribble game and shooting improve.

Miami Heat

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    Tyler Herro, SG: Staying consistent 

    Herro made a case in summer league for immediate rookie minutes. His versatile shot-making and overall skill level, both as a shooter and ball-handler, should be useful for the Miami Heat. His form during one year at Kentucky and overall shot selection hint at inevitable inconsistency, however.

    In the half court last year, Herro totaled 224 jump-shot attempts and 49 at the rim, where he only shot 49.0 percent. Between extreme shooting confidence and a lack of explosiveness, Herro spends most of his time firing pull-ups and spot-ups.

    Despite his picturesque form and undeniable touch, he can be erratic around the perimeter (35.5 percent 3PT at Kentucky, 33.3 percent summer league). Last season, he shot 40.0 percent unguarded but just 27.1 percent guarded.

    There will be games when Herro's offense is clicking and he's burying outside shots and effectively using the dribble to drive and play-make. But he'll also be vulnerable to cold shooting nights and slumps.


    KZ Okpala, SF/PF: Creating/converting offense

    Okpala's long-term projection is more appealing than the current product. He's a 6'9" wing with improved shooting range, slashing ability and defensive quickness. But at this stage, he doesn't have a core skill. 

    As a sophomore, he only made 32 threes in 29 games (32.7 minutes per game). He ranked in the 36th percentile out of spot-ups, the 44th percentile out of isolation, the 30th percentile on pull-up jumpers and the 45th percentile as a rim-finisher.

    There is mismatch potential tied to Okpala if his skills ever catch his positional tools. But he's not ready for Miami's offense.

Minnesota Timberwolves

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    Jarrett Culver, SG: Perimeter scoring

    Culver took a step forward last season as a shot-creator, but his distance shooting began to fade. His three-point numbers dipped to 1.3 makes on 30.4 percent shooting, and the film showed a slow delivery and the ball briefly freezing at the top of his release.

    His jumper can be easy to contest when he's working off the dribble. In addition, he struggled the most last year while pulling up over ball screens (2-of-18). His overall perimeter touch needs work, and if he's unable to get into the lane, he could have trouble scoring consistently as a tertiary option.

    Since the Minnesota Timberwolves offense will continue to run through Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins and Jeff Teague, Culver will have to adjust back to the spot-up player he was as a freshman. Last season, he only made 24 catch-and-shoot chance on 76 attempts.

New Orleans Pelicans

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    Zion Williamson, PF/C: Creating half-court offense

    Zion's hype is justifiable. Unparalleled talent and a competitive edge will lead Williamson to stardom. There will be hurdles along the way, however.

    Scoring through half-court sets won't come as easily with the New Orleans Pelicans as it did at Duke. While the NBA's superior level of rim protection is obvious, it's Williamson's ability to get there against a set defense—or score outside the paint—that's worth questioning during his transition from college to the pros. 

    His ball-handling is more effective in the open floor than in tight spaces. He only shot 2-of-12 last year off the dribble. Williamson won't be a strong three-point threat early in his career either.

    Even his post-ups were predictable and generated mostly by power and explosion. Only two of his made back-to-the-basket shots from the block came over the left shoulder. 

    A limited shot-creator and shooter who'll leave points at the free-throw line (64 percent), Williamson won't immediately look like the same dominant scoring force.


    Jaxson Hayes, C: Physicality, officiating 

    Though Hayes is raw offensively without any bankable skills, his bigger hurdle will be adjusting to physical bigs and the referee's whistle. 

    As a freshman at Texas last year, he averaged just 5.0 rebounds and 3.3 fouls in 23.3 minutes. Coach Alvin Gentry isn't likely to play Hayes many minutes until the rookie improves his strength and understanding of positioning. 

    Considering he can only play center, he'll need to become a stronger force below the rim. 


    Nickeil Alexander-Walker, PG/SG: Physicality

    Contact and physicality bothered Alexander-Walker at Virginia Tech. A defensive bump would knock him off his path on drives, leading to tougher finishes. 

    He shot 56.1 percent last year through his first 11 games against nonconference opponents. During ACC play, he shot 42.5 percent. 

    It seems like more of a short-term issue for the 6'5", 204-pound combo guard. Lack of strength may only be problematic early, but it could lead to scoring inefficiency as a rookie.

New York Knicks

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    RJ Barrett, SG/SF: Role adjustment, creating/finishing offense 

    Barrett goes from Gatorade High School Player of the Year as a senior in high school and 18.5 shots per game at Duke to being just another rotation player in New York. For the first time, the offense won't feature him. Even though the Knicks aren't expected to make much noise, there are suddenly a lot of mouths to feed between the new veterans and returning youngsters who are looking to take a step forward.

    And if a weakness popped in summer league for the No. 3 pick, it was his lack of wiggle off the dribble and limited explosiveness around the basket. He excels at scoring in space, but he struggles to create that space while using his handles, both as a driver and shooter off step-back moves.

    Barrett, who shot just 30.8 percent from three (66.5 percent FT) and 52.2 percent at the rim last season, is bound to have trouble with half-court scoring efficiency.


    Ignas Brazdeikis, SF: Athletic limitations at both ends

    Brazdeikis will get a crack at minutes at some point, particularly after summer league. Head coach David Fizdale is also bound to admire the rookie's competitive fire. Athletic limitations will give Brazdeikis the most problems though, both as a scorer and defender.

    His ball skills and shot-making abilities are strong. And he has an unteachable feel for improvising. But Brazdeikis, who was 6-of-19 out of isolation at Michigan, will have trouble against longer quick-twitch wings. And those same wings will view the Knicks' second-round pick as a target to attack the other way.

    Beating 2-guards and small forwards off the dribble, as well as staying in front of them, will represent Brazdeikis' hurdles during his move from college to the pros. 

Oklahoma City Thunder

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    Darius Bazley, SF/PF: General execution 

    Bazley went last year without playing organized ball after he skipped college and the G League. 

    It showed in summer league, where he averaged 4.8 points on 36.4 percent shooting. His appeal stems from his versatility as a 6'9" forward who can make threes, face up to use the dribble and switch defensively.

    But at this stage, he doesn't have a core skill or strength. He's not ready to execute his three-ball or one-on-one game. And it will take time for the 19-year-old to get a feel for the league's physicality and athleticism.

    He won't be useful this season to the Oklahoma City Thunder. The G League's OKC Blue, however, could have a tough cover from both forward spots. 

Orlando Magic

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    Chuma Okeke, SF/PF: Establishing a role

    Will there be any room for Okeke to rebuild his confidence and skill set with the Magic once he eventually returns from a torn ACL?

    Orlando wasn't the ideal destination for an injured rookie who'll be optimized at the 4 spot. 

    The Magic already have Aaron Gordon, Jonathan Isaac and Al-Farouq Aminu under contract. And with Nikola Vucevic and Mohamed Bamba in the picture, the Magic forwards won't often shift to small-ball 5 to create an opportunity for Okeke. 

    In a vacuum, he was one of our top-ranked prospects, finishing his career at Auburn with a lottery grade because of his shooting and defensive versatility. But Okeke won't have an easy path toward reaching his potential in Orlando, assuming the team doesn't make any major trades.

Philadelphia 76ers

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    Matisse Thybulle, SF: Scoring, playmaking

    The Naismith Defensive Player of the Year, Thybulle presumably won the Sixers over with his three-and-D potential and fit with the roster. He won't provide much offense in Philadelphia, however.

    As a senior at Washington, Thybulle mustered only 9.1 points in 31.1 minutes. He'll rely almost exclusively on catch-and-shoot threes for scoring, which is likely all that Sixers head coach Brett Brown will ask for from his rookie.

    Thybulle won't threaten defenses off the dribble, which puts a lot of pressure on his shooting and defense. He shot 3-of-19 on runners last year and 26.9 percent on only 26 pull-up attempts. A 13.5 assist percentage and 17.9 turnover percentage don't reflect favorably on his playmaking potential.

    How much will he hurt the Sixers offense when his three-ball isn't falling? During those games, Thybulle's hurdle will be proving he's worth keeping in and playing.

Phoenix Suns

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    Cameron Johnson, SF: Creating, defending

    A shooting specialist out of North Carolina, Johnson will have the most trouble getting himself scoring chances using the dribble. 

    The Suns aren't likely to give him any opportunities to create, anyway. But that mostly leaves just open catch-and-shoot threes and jumpers off screens for Johnson, who won't make an impact if his long-range shooting is off.

    Lacking athleticism at 6'9", just 205 pounds, it's also likely he struggles to finish at the rim and defend forwards, specifically quicker wings and stronger bigs. 

    Ty Jerome, PG/SG: Penetrating 

    Jerome oozes role-player potential due to his passing IQ, shooting and pesky defense. But at point guard, he could have trouble beating his man, lacking blow-by and vertical explosiveness.

    The Suns will value his decision-making, but he may have an easier time scoring playing off the ball. At Virginia, he ranked in the 99th percentile out of spot-ups, the 77th percentile off screens and the 28th percentile out of isolation. He shot 48.2 percent on catch-and-shoot chances and just 37.0 on pull-ups and 51.6 percent at the rim. 

    Jerome could be valuable to Phoenix for his three-and-D, but the only shots he'll create will be for teammates off ball screens.

Portland Trail Blazers

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    Nassir Little, SF/PF: Half-court offense/creation

    Little could prove to be a better shooter than last year's 26.9 percent three-point mark suggests, but he's still going to struggle scoring off his own limited dribble.

    As a freshman he was a combined 13-of-41 between pick-and-roll ball-handling and isolation possessions. Of his 131 made field goals, 86 came off transition, cuts and offensive rebounds. Creating his own shot isn't a strength. 

    He'll be more effective using his quickness and strength against power forwards. From the 4, he shouldn't have to use as much ball skill. At least this season, however, it's difficult to picture Little being a threatening enough player in the half court.

San Antonio Spurs

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    Luka Samanic, PF: Finding bread and butter

    Samanic will need his three-ball to keep developing to unlock classic stretch-4 potential. In the meantime, it's difficult to pinpoint his bread and butter or how he'll consistently impact games.

    The best version of Samanic shows a power forward who can shoot, attack closeouts, finish around the basket and move his feet defensively around the perimeter. Early on, however, it wouldn't be surprising if he was erratic from three and a limited shot-creator and passer who fouls too often.

    In five summer league games, he finished 35.7 percent from the floor and 33.3 percent from deep with 20 turnovers, 13 assists and 15 fouls. 

    Keldon Johnson, SG/SF: Creating, scoring consistency 

    Johnson generated 14 points all season between pick-and-roll ball-handling and isolation possessions at Kentucky. He shoots well with his feet set, 45.1 percent on uguarded catch-and-shoots, and he uses his body and athleticism to slash. But his creativity off-the-dribble remains limited.

    It's also likely Johnson struggles with the NBA's three-point arc, given his low volume of attempts in college (4.2 per 40 minutes), drop-off in accuracy during conference play (32.7 percent) and 70.3 percent free-throw mark.

    Without a reliable three-ball or many one-on-one skills, Johnson may not be regularly playable as a rookie for coach Gregg Popovich. 

Toronto Raptors

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    Terence Davis, SG: Capitalizing on limited opportunities, staying efficient 

    Undrafted out of Ole Miss, Davis switched teams in summer league to sign a contract with the defending champions.

    He'll try and carve out a career as a scoring spark, but it's difficult to see any quick path or opening to Toronto's rotation. Davis will have to play well in the G League and eventually make shots when his number is called.

    His weaknesses at Ole Miss consisted of finishing at the rim (49.1 percent), creating without a screen (six total points out of isolation) and shooting off movement (15-of-42 off screens). Davis' pick-and-roll scoring, secondary playmaking (3.5 assists) and three-point shooting (2.0 3PTM) will give him a chance at the NBA level.

Utah Jazz

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    John Locher/Associated Press

    Miye Oni, SG: Two-point scoring efficiency 

    Moving from the Ivy League to the NBA, Oni will be looking at a new level of defender in terms of size, length and quickness. 

    The No. 58 pick finished his junior year on a low point during a must-watch game for scouts, when he missed 14-of-16 shots against LSU in the NCAA tournament.  

    He'll be used mostly as a perimeter shot-maker early in Utah after converting 174 career threes through 87 NCAA games at Yale. Oni's challenge will be creating and efficiently finishing inside the arc with the Jazz.

    Of his 48 field-goal attempts in summer league, 37 were from three. Even at Yale, Onli struggled off the dribble, shooting 32.6 percent on pull-ups, 3-of-10 on runners and 50.0 percent at the rim. 

Washington Wizards

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    Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Associated Press

    Rui Hachimura, PF: Shooting/spacing, Washington Wizards roster

    A standout during summer league and World Cup play, Hachimura has been a force since draft night, taking it to defenses with signature post and face-up moves, mid-range jumpers and athletic plays at the rim. 

    His long-range shooting still hasn't been there. He's 2-of-10 from three between August and September after making a combined 24 threes through 102 career NCAA Games.  He loves to operate from the elbows and short corners. It's worth questioning how much space he'll have there in Washington after the Wizards finished No. 26 in three-point percentage a year ago.  

    A strong finisher and versatile threat from the foul line to baseline, Hachimura will need time before his longer-range jump shot is ready. Last season, he shot 59.6 percent on short jumpers inside 17 feet. From 17 feet to the arc, he was 9-of-31. That lack of range could hurt spacing and ultimately affect how defenses play him.

    Stats courtesy of Synergy Sports,