2020 NBA Draft: Top 3 Prospects at Every Position
The 2020 NBA draft will offer teams both star-caliber talent and variety, as there is a potential top-five pick at every position.
The guard positions are especially strong this year. A surprise freshman center has emerged to give the projected class a boost, which is great news for lottery teams in need of frontcourt help.
Many of the following prospects can play multiple positions, but we chose the position where the player either fits best or can eventually hold the most value if he maxes out his potential.
B/R contributor and podcast host for The Athletic, Mo Dakhil, joins “The Full 48 with Howard Beck” to partake in a game of Meaningful or Mirage that involves the Portland Trailblazers, Carmelo Anthony, the Phoenix Suns, Andrew Wiggins, Eastern Conference playoff teams, and the Raptors Pascal Siakam.
Point Guard No. 3: Nico Mannion (Arizona, Freshman)
Lottery teams searching for a lead guard could be in luck next year. At least three floor generals expected to declare appear capable of becoming quality starting pros, including Arizona's Nico Mannion, who validated his recruiting rankings and created even more hype by going for 28 points, five assists and five rebounds in April at the Nike Hoop Summit.
It took Mannion a game to settle in at Arizona before he put on a show for scouts against Illinois on Sunday. The freshman went for 23 points on 9-of-15 shooting and nine assists, producing a highlight reel that accurately paints him as a well-rounded, full-package point guard.
Compared to our top two prospects at the position, he possesses the least favorable mix of physical tools and explosiveness. But between his ball-handling, shooting versatility/accuracy and distributing, his skill set is arguably the most complete and polished.
Generating offense comes easiest to Mannion in ball-screen situations, where he effectively uses hesitations and his jets to turn the corner, a decisive pull-up game, excellent floater touch and high-passing IQ.
Mannion has no predetermined agenda when it comes to deciding whether he'll look for his own shot first or focus on facilitating. He masters making the right reads when balancing scoring with playmaking.
He separates himself from most 18-year-olds with his perimeter game, demonstrating sharp footwork and fluidity shooting off the dribble, spot-ups and movement. He'll continue to work as a primary initiator, but even after Mannion gives the ball up, he remains a threat to get it back and bury a jumper.
It's fair to wonder about his upside and how efficient he'll be creating separation, finishing in traffic and defending with a 6'2½" wingspan. But he's a solid 6'3" and is able to play above the rim and shake by changing speed/direction. Meanwhile, his mid-range game and three-ball ease concerns about his efficiency in the paint, and his competitiveness should help keep him from giving up too much defensively.
Other point guards considered for No. 3: France's Killian Hayes, France's Theo Maledon
Point Guard No. 2: LaMelo Ball (Illawarra Hawks, PG)
Through six weeks of NBL play, the narratives and questions surrounding LaMelo Ball have changed from "Is he a legitimate NBA prospect?" to "Is he the best point guard in the draft?"
His case just received a boost after he led the Illawarra Hawks to their second win Saturday. Finishing with 24 points, eight assists, six rebounds and five triples, the 18-year-old Ball fueled the team's offense and put the Cairns Taipans away with late-game setup dishes and shot-making.
While Ball's production coming into that game was already highly impressive, watching him outplay a pro team and carry his squad to a win was validating.
Concerns about his approach and style have quickly disappeared. He ranks second in the league in assists (6.1), regularly creating highlights that illuminate his ball-handling, passing skills and vision.
Operating with 6'7" size off ball screens has proved to be advantageous when making plays in crowds or tighter spaces. Compared to the draft's other point guards, Ball may have the edge as the top facilitator.
He has also stood out for his touch on floaters and finishes at the rim, where he uses angles and maintains balance bouncing off contact despite possessing a skinny frame and limited explosion.
Teams drafting in the top five will focus on Ball's jump shot, the swing skill that might determine the magnitude of his scoring potential. He's made 18-of-63 three-pointers, demonstrating a low, two-handed push release with the left elbow flaring out.
But this early in his career, it could be worth putting more stock into his made shots as opposed to his mechanics and inconsistency. Ball has hit multiple threes in four consecutive games, and there shouldn't be any concern about his range, which he's made a habit of trying to show off since early in high school.
Defensively, Ball will need to improve at keeping ball-handlers in front of him, as he gets cooked off the dribble too often. On the bright side, he has good playmaking instincts like his brother, Lonzo, as he uses his quick hands and anticipation to collect 1.7 steals per game.
Ball ultimately comes off as a high-floor, high-upside option in June's draft. There seems to be little risk given his tools, elite skill level, basketball IQ and success in a pro league. He'll remain a triple-double threat regardless of whether he can develop into a 35-40 percent three-point shooter.
The draft's No. 1 point guard debate might come down to personal preference depending on the team picking and its roster. Either way, the eye test, numbers and encouraging professionalism suggest Ball deserves to be in the mix for both best prospect at his position and No. 1 overall in the 2020 draft.
Point Guard No. 1: Cole Anthony (North Carolina, Freshman)
Before the college basketball season began, Ball had hijacked the NBA draft discussion from Australia.
Then Cole Anthony came out and set a North Carolina record with 34 points in his debut.
It won't mean much in the long run, but Anthony's first performance did seem like a strong opening statement, highlighting his exciting skill package and his knack to lead and carry a team. Lottery teams in need of a point guard will become drawn to his poise, moxie and killer instinct.
Anthony defines the term lead guard, capable of both running offense and activating takeover mode with No. 1 option-quality scoring that's powered by pull-up shooting and a runner game. He can knock down jumpers off the dribble, stepping in or back in the mid-to-long range. Anthony already has 10 three-pointers through two games.
Using ball-handling maneuvers, quickness and hesitations, he puts pressure on defenses as a driver as well, demonstrating a diverse floater and layup package from the foul line to the rim. He isn't overly explosive off of one foot, but he does compensate with precision finishes and touch.
Though his scoring remains ahead of his facilitating, Anthony is still a competent setup man, capable of directing plays and delivering tight-window passes in pick-and-rolls and transition.
Compared to Mannion and Ball, Anthony has the best chance to establish a strong defensive reputation with his tools, competitiveness and playmaking if his effort doesn't fluctuate while he expends so much energy on offense. He'll remain a good bet to create highlight blocks and finish with a solid steal rate.
Questions remain about Anthony's decision-making when it comes to hunting for shots. He can get trigger-happy. There will be possessions when he's dancing with the ball while teammates stand and watch. He can become overconfident on finishing attempts. And he doesn't get much elevation on his jump shots.
But in terms of talent, skill and intangibles, including a strong reputation for work ethic and love of the game, Anthony may wind up with the most complete draft case among any 2020 prospects. It's easy to feel the most confident in his game and approach translating to the NBA.
Shooting Guard No. 3: RJ Hampton (New Zealand Breakers, 2001)
Before Ball announced he'd be playing in Australia, RJ Hampton was the first in the class to make the jump to the NBL.
Prior to Hampton, Oklahoma City Thunder wing Terrance Ferguson bypassed college for the NBL, where he averaged 4.6 points and 0.6 assists with the Adelaide 36ers. Despite that limited production, the Oklahoma City Thunder selected him with the 21st overall pick in the 2017 draft, and he eventually became a starter.
Through Hampton's first seven regular-season games with the New Zealand Breakers, he hit the 14-point mark three times. He put up a season-high 18 points in a win over the Cairns Taipans on Oct. 31.
Hampton was ejected four minutes into his last game against South East Melbourne for setting a hard screen with some extra forearm action. But some scouts might see positives in the controversial play, as the 18-year-old has shown no signs of backing down against pros in a league known for toughness.
The 6'5" Hampton, who's used on and off the ball, has flashed impressive burst and a good first step attacking off the catch. He's at his best getting downhill in transition or slashing in the half court, demonstrating strong footwork on the move and body control around the basket.
His jump shot isn't a huge strength, but it isn't a major problem, either. He hit at least one three in six of his first seven games (including a season-high four against Cairns). He looks comfortable when set and is capable of pulling up over his man.
Hampton will add value with secondary playmaking as well. Using his vision when driving to the basket, he picks up kick-out and dump-down assists off ball screens and penetration. He delivered five dimes in the Breakers' exhibition game against the Thunder in front of dozens of NBA scouts.
But there were also questions raised during Hampton's trip back to the United States after he combined to shoot 3-of-19 against Oklahoma City and the Memphis Grizzlies. Will he be able to create enough separation scoring in the half court? There is more straight-line offense to his game than wiggle and dribble jump-shooting.
But he's still producing at a strong rate overseas, possessing an NBA 2-guard body, some plus athletic traits, encouraging shot-making skill and passing potential. He's been a mixed bag defensively, but consistent steals and good reactions outweigh the plays where he gets beat.
Praised for his maturity, Hampton figures to become viewed as a safer 2020 pick in the late-lottery range. He's likely to develop into a solid role player and NBA starter, not a future All-Star.
Other shooting guards considered for No. 3: Florida's Scottie Lewis, South Carolina's AJ Lawson
Shooting Guard No. 2: Tyrese Maxey (Kentucky, Freshman)
Dozens of high-ranking executives arrived at Madison Square Garden last week for the State Farm Champions Classic, which kicked off the college basketball season. And those execs with projected lottery picks should have felt better about their 2020 options when Tyrese Maxey put on a 26-point show during the Kentucky-Michigan State game.
Maxey looks poised to give the class and NBA general managers another exciting guard prospect. He immediately pops for his 198-pound frame, which diminishes some concern about his 6'3", 2-guard size.
Maxey isn't even that explosive, but defenders have a tough time staying in front of him since he's terrific at using hesitations to freeze his man before gaining a step and penetrating. Still, finishing will wind up being a signature strength, as he has a knack for finding the right angle to bank in a runner or activating touch on floaters.
With a powerful body, he bounces off and scores through contact on layup attempts, despite lacking highlight bounce.
Shot-making is another key element of Maxey's offense, as he loves to pull up in transition with defenders on their heels. And he demonstrates plenty of range and good technique hopping into catch-and-shoot threes off the ball.
Though he's a capable passer operating in ball-screen situations, he lacks a degree of playmaking ability (five assists in three games). NBA coaches will want to play him alongside a credible facilitator instead of using him as a lead guard.
Defensively, Maxey is quick and competitive. He's best suited to defend point guards since he'll give up a few inches in height to most starting NBA 2s. But he compensates with his strength, speed, a useful 6'6" wingspan and IQ.
Teams may ultimately question how much upside is tied to an undersized scorer who'll never be a high-assist man. In terms of his height, style and projected role, teams would ideally want a Donovan Mitchell type, though Maxey isn't nearly as explosive or long.
But at some point, Maxey's offensive skill level, defensive acumen, competitiveness and positive energy will be difficult to turn down. It might become worth overlooking the holes in his scouting profile anywhere beyond No. 5 overall in the 2020 draft.
Shooting Guard No. 1: Anthony Edwards (Georgia, Freshman)
The No. 1 overall prospect on our board entering the season, Anthony Edwards possesses the most favorable mix of natural talent and skill of any player in this year's draft class. The only question that may keep him from going first is whether he has the intangibles to maximize his potential.
Otherwise, at 6'5" and 225 pounds, Edwards possesses special strength and athleticism for a guard. He has the tools, quickness and burst to generate easy offense in transition and make plays defensively.
Edwards' offensive skills separate him from the other 2-guards and practically every prospect in his class. He has totaled 53 points through his first two games, flashing the shot-creating and shot-making that propelled him to No. 1 in our preseason rankings.
Edwards has a functional handle for shaking and slashing or separating into dribble jumpers. He's a threat to pull up over his man anywhere from 15-27 feet, and he's going to enter the league with NBA range on his three-ball (six threes through two games).
Between his attacking, mid-range offense and distance shooting, Edwards has the skill set synonymous with No. 1 options. And he's even delivered some slick passes off the dribble (seven assists), highlighting secondary playmaking potential.
Reacting with defensive speed, Edwards already has seven steals. NBA coaches will have plenty to work with physically to try to develop a two-way player.
They'll have to first emphasize staying locked in and alert. Edwards can get lazy or beat backdoor. And his focus can fade offensively as well when overconfidence kicks in and he starts to rely too much on talent. He'll settle for low-percentage shots without even attempting to create an easier one.
But Edwards won't turn 19 until after the draft. Based on his start at Georgia, he figures to finish with volume production to back up his obvious potential. To separate further from the pack, Edwards will have to carry the Bulldogs to key wins during conference and postseason play and show that he can score with timeliness and impact as opposed to randomly or sporadically.
Small Forward No. 3: Josh Green (Arizona, Freshman)
It's not worth arguing over the right position for Josh Green, a 6'6", 210-pound interchangeable wing loaded with athleticism and energy.
With enough size and defensive toughness, we like him at the 3. Also, creating shots isn't one of his strengths, and it should be if he's to profile as a guard.
Either way, he's made an excellent early impression at Arizona, flashing signature quickness and bounce but also offensive skills scouts didn't seem completely sold on out of IMG Academy.
The big development so far has been his jump shot after he hit four three-pointers against Illinois. He's looked fluid shooting off the catch, key for a perimeter player who won't be used in many isolation or ball-screen situations.
But he has made some impressive plays attacking from the arc, particularly by using his runner around the foul line before hitting traffic. And as he's shown in transition, he can fly and figures to produce plenty of highlight dunks that get Arizona's teammates, bench and fans going.
Early on, Green has been tremendous defensively, guarding the perimeter with laser focus. Opposing ball-handlers won't want him assigned to them. He's constantly low in his stance and applying pressure while swiveling his head back and forth between his man and the ball.
The downside to Green stems from his limited off-the-dribble game. Will he offer enough scoring if his spot-up three-ball isn't falling? He isn't an advanced one-on-one player, and the pull-up isn't a dangerous weapon in his bag yet.
However, while not a playmaker, Green is a plus passer, unselfish and able to make the right reads moving the ball or kicking it out.
Scoring and general creation limitations work against his case as a future star. But there should be a huge likability factor for Green, who checks all the right boxes to be a high-end, two-way role player.
Other small forwards considered for No. 3: Louisville's Samuell Williamson, Memphis' Precious Achiuwa
Small Forward No. 2: Isaac Okoro (Auburn, Freshman)
Isaac Okoro won't have a set NBA position. He'll play both forward spots, depending on lineups and matchups. But he could hold the most value locking down wings, a potential signature specialty.
The immediate draw for Auburn's freshman stems from his defensive potential and versatility, which is fueled by a 215-pound frame, strong legs, quick feet and toughness. He's already spent time guarding ball-handlers, forwards and bigs, showing the ability to hold his ground inside and defend the point of attack.
Okoro gives the impression he could compete physically in the NBA at 18 years old.
His offense is further behind. He isn't a major scoring threat out of isolation or ball-screen situations. He's a capable set shooter, just not a high-volume one.
Okoro has still flashed encouraging glimpses with a step-back three-pointer against Davidson, numerous face-up moves into layups and impressive off-hand finishes. Though he lacks explosiveness, he can convert at tough angles and after contact, as he did on his game-winning bucket in the closing seconds against South Alabama on Tuesday.
In the same game, his passing stood out as he produced six assists. And though Okoro isn't a playmaker, he clearly possesses the unselfishness and vision to find shooters and cutters after making a catch inside the defense.
His game isn't flashy or reflective of a future All-Star. However, Okoro's two-way versatility will work well in today's NBA. His high likelihood of being effective defensively, intangibles and signs of developing skill should help him build a solid top-20 case for every type of team.
Small Forward No. 1: Deni Avdija (Israel, 2001)
On NBA radars since 2017, Deni Avdija won't need big stats this year to earn top-10 consideration from lottery teams.
He's only playing 9.9 minutes per game in Euroleague with Maccabi Tel Aviv, though he's been able to show scouts more in the Israeli BSL, where he's averaging 8.8 points on 38.5 percent shooting from three in 23.0 minutes per game.
Playing alongside former NBA players Omri Casspi, Tarik Black, Tyler Dorsey, Nate Wolters and Quincy Acy, plus one of Europe's veteran guards in Scottie Wilkekin, Avdija should keep scouts confident in the potential he'd previously showcased during FIBA and junior tournaments just with regular flashes of scoring and defensive versatility.
As the MVP of last summer's U20 European Championships, the 6'8" combo forward averaged 18.4 points, 8.3 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 2.4 blocks, 2.1 steals and 1.7 threes. At 18 years old, he's currently playing mostly off the ball for Maccabi, but he's made a name for himself with his positional tools and the skill level to handle, facilitate for teammates, face up and attack or rise into dribble jumpers.
Improvements to his body and defense have also led to optimism regarding his ability to guard 4s, slide his feet and make rotations and reads.
His three-point consistency has been an issue that's also tied to questionable shot selection when he's the offense's featured player. Avdija has a tendency to activate hero mode and settle. And while his height for a player with a wing-like skill set creates mismatches, he lacks explosion, leading to poor contested attempts at the rim.
Scouts have some concern about whether Avdija projects as more of a multidimensional role player than a star or go-to option. And he won't have the chance to ease those concerns this season while playing a limited role off the bench.
Avdija should still be a top-three option at his position on boards across the league, even if it's his floor that's driving interest. Everything about his scouting profile—body, skill set, resume, current experience and competitiveness—screams future NBA forward.
Power Forward No. 3: Obi Toppin (Dayton, Sophomore)
After ranking in the top 10 percentiles last year off post-ups, transition, cuts, rolls, putbacks and general finishes around the basket, Dayton sophomore Obi Toppin started this season on breakout watch.
He delivered during his 2019-20 debut with 29 points and 12 rebounds, and he racked up six dunks in that game against Indiana State. His identity revolves around athleticism for a 6'9", 220-pound big. His quickness to the rim and ability to play high above it consistently translate to easy baskets off full-court runs, off-ball actions and offensive rebounds.
He's also flashed promising touch with his hook shots and left hand off back-to-the-basket moves. Late signs of a jump shot last year created more intrigue, as he made 11 of 21 threes and a respectable 71.3 percent of his free throws in 2018-19.
That sample size is small, however, and finishing as a top-three power forward will require Dayton's star to take another step forward with his shooting.
Improving defensively will also be a priority, as Toppin ranked in the 36th percentile guarding spot-ups and the 28th percentile guarding post-ups. Moreover, his 12.9 total rebounding percentage was oddly low for a player with his tools and hops.
Even without a great deal of polish, Toppin still managed to average 14.4 points in 26.5 minutes per game on 66.6 percent shooting from the floor. Returning with a tougher one-on-one package near the elbows and short corners, plus a more confident shooting stroke, could lead to a massive statistical season NBA teams will buy into given his body and athleticism.
Other power forwards considered at No. 3: Florida State's Patrick Williams, Duke's Matthew Hurt, Virginia's Mamadi Diakite, DePaul's Paul Reed
Power Forward No. 2: Jeremiah Robinson-Earl (Villanova, PF)
Villanova should be able to run a variety of plays for Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, a 6'9", 232-pound freshman with a high level of skill and feel.
Lacking flashy athleticism, he won't start the year as a consensus one-and-done first-rounder.
He is for us, however, as there's too much to admire about his tools, fundamentals and intangibles. The post will be his office, where he has the strength to gain position, go-to moves and counter footwork, plus the ability to finish using either hand.
And he'll be a dual-threat option by scoring after screening. Catching on the move, he shows body control converting in traffic, and he's developed promising touch in the mid-range, where he'll make a habit of pick-and-popping.
After he scored 24 points in Villanova's opener, the Wildcats got crushed by Ohio State on Wednesday, though Robinson-Earl did hit two three-pointers, a promising sign for his shooting potential.
With good hands and IQ, he also adds value in other areas like rebounding and passing.
His defense will be under scouts' microscopes this year. Though he's mobile, his body type doesn't scream rim protection or switchiness. Teams may question his defensive fit.
Robinson-Earl's lack of athleticism, off-the-dribble game and defensive upside raise questions about his ceiling and how early he deserves to be considered in the draft. But he should register high on the sure-thing meter. He has a pro's tools, polish and approach, even if they're for a supporting role.
Power Forward No. 1: Jaden McDaniels (Washington, Freshman)
Few prospects pop under the NBA scouting lens like Jaden McDaniels, who wows with 6'9" size and a wing's skill set. He plays small forward for Washington, but his ideal position at the next level will be the 4 (if he can add strength), where his perimeter game and quickness can create more of an advantage.
However, there has been hesitation about lumping him with the draft's top prospects due to questions about his ability to optimize his talent and convert it to impact play. But enough consistency from the 19-year-old this season should diminish those concerns.
McDaniels got off to fast start by acing his debut against Baylor, finishing with 18 points—on an array of flashy scoring moves—plus encouraging displays of defensive quickness and playmaking.
He can execute some special skills at his height, including the ability to create and shoot off the dribble. He's already flashed a nasty behind-the-back, change-of-direction move into a pull-up and runner. And he's hit a three-pointer in each of his first two games.
A grab-and-go threat, McDaniels will have the green light to push the ball off defensive rebounds. With seven assists, he's delivered some impressive passes by both playmaking and catching and reacting.
Even during a small sample in a zone scheme, his defense has shined, as well. He's blocked two shots and collected three steals. His foot speed, closeout potential and switchability are evident.
It is tough to ignore his skinny 200-pound frame and whether it can handle the physicality brought by NBA power forwards.
Offensively, though versatile, his handles in tight spaces aren't sharp enough for coaches to feel comfortable playing him at the 3. He lost the ball in traffic multiple times against Mount Saint Mary's (five turnovers). He's capable from outside, but he's never been labeled a reliable shooter.
McDaniels' highlight reel by the end of the season will no doubt be spectacular. But it's also possible his lowlights of low-percentage jumpers and casual play will turn some evaluators off.
So far, drifting hasn't been a concern. He's looked engaged at both ends. McDaniels' questionable feel and decision-making did appear during Washington's second game, so it will be interesting to see how he responds and how often he'll be able to repeat his first performance against Baylor.
At this stage, the positives still outweigh the negatives with McDaniels, one of the draft's highest-upside forwards.
Center No. 3: Isaiah Stewart (Washington, Freshman)
By draft night and likely sooner, NBA teams should have a good feel for Isaiah Stewart.
At 6'9", 250 pounds with a 7'4" wingspan and shredded arms, he is effective due to his presence around the basket as a low-post scorer, offensive rebounder and enforcer.
He's 12-of-15 on post-ups through just two games at Washington, per Synergy Sports. He's a high-percentage option on the block, using his power to gain position and plow through defenders. His skill set is basic but effective with short over-the-shoulder hooks. And he can utilize different footwork maneuvers like up-and-unders and pivots to create more separation.
Stewart should also develop into a force on the offensive glass given his strength, length and motor.
Scouts remain interested in finding out if the flashes of shooting touch in high school will carry over. So far, he's only attempted two jumpers (both misses). And given his inability to score outside of back-to-the-basket possessions, cuts, rolls and putbacks, no sign of a promising jumper would lower his perceived ceiling and hurt his draft stock.
Defensively, Stewart clearly has the build to hold his ground in the paint, while his long arms have already blocked eight shots. He can be disruptive and resistant around the basket, though it's tougher to picture him as a switch defender against wings and guards.
His game and scouting profile are fairly well-defined at this point. That may change if a consistent jump shot surfaces during the season.
Stewart's evaluation will most likely show that he's a high-floor, low-ceiling center and a player teams feel confident will carve out an NBA role, even if they're unsure about his trajectory or path to stardom.
Other centers considered at No. 3: Arizona's Zeke Nnaji, Oregon's N'Faly Dante, Western Kentucky's Charles Bassey, Gonzaga's Anton Watson
Center No. 2: James Wiseman (Memphis, Freshman)
A top-ranked high school player throughout the recruiting process, James Wiseman arrived at Memphis with No. 1 overall buzz. It's still there despite eligibility concerns that will force him to start missing games.
With other questions on our scouting report, he's still No. 2 on our overall center board. But there is no denying the talent tied to his 7'1", 240-pound frame, 7'6" wingspan and fluid athleticism.
Through three games, he's averaging 19.7 points and has six total missed shots. A walking easy bucket, Wiseman plays high above the rim, leading to contested dunks off lobs and offensive boards.
While he won't be able to sustain his ridiculous 24.6 total rebounding percentage, Wiseman will continue to own the glass in the pros, where he'll still possess an elite mix of size, length and hops to corral loose balls at their highest point.
Offensively, Wiseman has flashed glimpses of jump hooks and shooting range. And the hope is that he gradually adds more to his post game and shot each month and season. But at this stage, he isn't a sharp shot-creator in tight spaces. He likes to go to a step-back jump shot, even though it's low-percentage, he lacks touch and he's usually the game's biggest player.
With one assist in 69 minutes, Wiseman won't be known for passing, either.
NBA coaches will be anxious to try unlocking defensive potential fueled by ridiculous physical tools and mobility. Wiseman can be a serious shot-blocker, both around the basket and the key thanks to his 9'3½" reach.
He doesn't always show great instincts making reads in pick-and-roll coverage, however. And opponents will be eager to pull him away from the basket with stretch 5s.
But overall for an 18-year-old, Wiseman is oozing with unteachable talent, and enormous room to improve his skill and feel buy him time to overcome the lack of polish and occasional lapses in awareness.
Center No. 1: Onyeka Okongwu (USC, Freshman)
The impression Onyeka Okongwu has made through three games has been strong enough to completely change our perception of his potential and development. This early, the sample size and lack of competition would usually cause hesitation before making such a drastic change to a prospect's evaluation and ranking.
But Okongwu has been too convincing. The plays he made against Florida A&M, Portland and South Dakota State seem likely to carry over to conference and postseason play—and eventually the NBA.
At 6'9", 245 pounds, Okongwu has unleashed a combination of strength and quickness that's translating to high-percentage finishes and putbacks. His motor also creates opportunities at the rim.
Flashes of skill have given Okongwu an extra push up the rankings. He's delivered numerous pretty post moves, showing ambidexterity and a slippery spin move. Though he uses his jump shot sparingly, his three makes and 6-of-7 performance on free throws highlight encouraging touch.
After he blocked eight shots during USC's opener, it became obvious his defensive upside was also exciting. Okongwu's length, aggressiveness and foot speed have led to rejections near the rim and away from it. He's blocked shots guarding on the ball and off it while anchoring the paint in rim protection.
He hasn't faced anyone physically equipped to match up yet, and he can still be somewhat choppy. His one-on-one game might not look as smooth once USC starts facing stiffer competition. And for an NBA center who won't be interchangeable as a 4, he'd ideally be taller than 6'9".
But Okongwu clearly compensates for his lack of polish and limitations in other ways. So far among centers, he's demonstrated the most promising mix of tools, athleticism, budding skill and defensive impact. We suspect his start has been more legitimate than fluky.