2020 NBA Draft: Updated Top 50 Big Board
The cancellation of March Madness was a blow to NBA teams finalizing their scouting for the 2020 draft. Evaluators will now have to rely on rewatching tape and conducting workouts later in May and June.
We've updated our top-50 board to account for developments in games played from February through March. It has required notable movement in the Nos. 3-8 range, where team needs and fit will eventually play a role in who goes where in the draft.
Still, multiple prospects were added to the board in the 40s after making strong impressions over the season's final month.
50. Paul Reed (DePaul, C, Junior)
The only NCAA player with 70 blocks and 50 steals, Reed remains interesting because of his defensive playmaking while his offensive game sputters. His shooting hasn't taken off the way it appeared it could, but he's still averaging 14.9 points while showing just enough face-up moves and touch to keep faith alive in his scoring potential.
49. Payton Pritchard (Oregon, PG/SG, Senior)
Despite an underwhelming 6'2", 190-pound frame, Pritchard is worth thinking about as a potential second-round pick. Averaging 27.5 points and 5.3 assists over Oregon's last four games, the 6'2" senior is making his NBA case with decisive ball-handling, elite shot-making, high-IQ passing and admirable toughness. Certain NBA teams could see him becoming an immediate offensive contributor to their second unit.
48. Skyler Mays (LSU, SG, Senior)
Gradual improvement has lifted Mays into this year's draft discussion. The 22-year-old senior doesn't have a signature skill or strength, and his physical profile and movement don't immediately pop under the NBA scouting lens. But his versatility, efficiency and defensive activity (1.8 steals) have become impossible to keep looking past. Sporting a 62.2 true shooting percentage, Mays is generating offense on and off the ball, grading in the 89th percentile as a spot-up player and 98th percentile out of pick-and-rolls.
47. Jared Butler (Baylor, PG/SG, Sophomore)
Butler (16.0 PPG) has led potential No. 1 seed Baylor all season, but his lack of size and athleticism for NBA scoring (25th percentile in isolations, 26th percentile in transition) and limited point guard instincts (3.1 assists to 2.4 turnovers) have kept his draft buzz from building. However, he grades in the 91st percentile as a pick-and-roll ball-handler, and he's shooting 38.1 percent from three (6.7 three-point attempts). His shiftiness and confident shot-making off the catch and dribble are intriguing, too.
46. Keyontae Johnson (Florida, SG/SF, Sophomore)
Johnson has had some standout performances over the past month in wins against Arkansas (24 points, 10 rebounds), LSU (25 points, 11 rebounds, five assists) and Georgia (18 points, 11 rebounds). A lack of shot-creating and playmaking abilities are question marks for a 6'5" wing. But he's a strong, athletic defender making 38.0 percent of his threes, and he's developed into one of the nation's most effective off-ball slashers, scoring on 31-of-51 takes to the basket from spot-ups and 28-of-40 cuts.
45. Desmond Bane (TCU, SG, Senior)
After averaging 23.3 points (18-of-30 3PT), 6.5 rebounds and 4.8 assists over TCU's last four games, Bane should have caught teams' attention by now. He isn't special athletically, but for a 6'6" wing, his career 43.3 percent three-point shooting and expanding versatility deserve second-round looks.
44. Scottie Lewis (Florida, SG/SF, Freshman)
Defensive playmaking (1.2 steals, 1.2 blocks), quickness and energy have helped to buy Lewis time with his skill development and suspect decision-making. He won't be contributing to an NBA team next year, but he's flashed enough shot-making touch (36.1 percent 3PT, 81.7 percent FT) and off-ball scoring around the basket to eventually be just good enough offensively, similar to Terrance Ferguson.
43. Aaron Henry (Michigan State, SG/SF, Sophomore)
Henry hasn't delivered on the breakout that last year's flashes suggested would follow. He's still an appealing prospect based on his 6'6" frame, shooting potential, secondary playmaking and defensive IQ. It just may take another year for Henry to raise his three-point percentage and offensive confidence.
42. Killian Tillie (Gonzaga, PF/C, Senior)
Durability remains the biggest question mark for Tillie, who's dealt with numerous foot and leg injuries. But in the second round of the draft, it's worth betting on his health, career 44.4 percent three-point shooting, passing IQ and defensive anticipation.
41. Jahmi'us Ramsey (Texas Tech, SG, Freshman)
Ramsey will earn fans during predraft workouts, where he can distract from his limited creation skills and defensive lapses with his physical profile and 42.6 percent three-point shooting stroke. Picturesque shot-making form is Ramsey's selling point, but he'll need to improve his off-the-dribble game and defensive discipline.
40. Vernon Carey Jr. (Duke, C, Freshman)
From an NBA perspective, limited shooting and defensive potential cloud Carey's impressive production at Duke (17.8 points, 8.8 rebounds). He still eventually figures to earn a role with his interior scoring and offensive rebounding.
39. Cassius Stanley (Duke, SF, Freshman)
Athleticism for defense and transition offense is still Stanley's signature strength. He'll need a consistent three-ball to justify first-round value since he rarely creates or passes (6.6 assist percentage) off the dribble. Stanley shot 3-of-5 from deep against North Carolina on Saturday, but he's only hit 31 on the season and 6-of-22 pull-ups.
38. Saben Lee (Vanderbilt, PG/SG, Junior)
Lee made a big jump up the board in our last update, which came before his 38 points and six made triples in Vanderbilt's win over Alabama last Tuesday. His explosiveness off the dribble pops under the NBA scouting lens, while his defensive quickness and pressure seem like legitimate features that can carry over. However, he doesn't fit cleanly in an NBA box, as he lacks point-guard polish, 2-guard size (6'2") and distance shooting accuracy (31.9 percent).
37. Devon Dotson (Kansas, PG, Freshman)
The case against Dotson starts with his underwhelming 30.9 percent three-point shooting and 19-of-62 mark on pull-up jumpers. But his 83.0 percent free-throw clip highlights touch, and Dotson's game otherwise screams change-of-pace guard thanks to his speed with the ball, quickness off the dribble and pick-and-roll play (84th percentile).
36. Daniel Oturu (Minnesota, C, Sophomore)
Averaging 20.0 points, 11.4 rebounds and 2.5 blocks, Oturu's effectiveness has been too strong to ignore just because post bigs have been devalued in the NBA. Though 30.7 percent of his possessions come from the post, he's a tough scorer there, but he's also flashed potential to face up around the perimeter, making 42.9 percent of his non-dribble jumpers and 16-of-22 of his takes to the basket out of spot-ups.
35. Robert Woodard (Mississippi State, SF/PF, Sophomore)
Woodard has given off NBA role-player vibes with his 42.9 percent three-point shooting and defensive versatility for an athletic, 6'7", 230-pound forward. Teams will just need his jumper to be legitimate given his lack of upside as a creator, plus the fact he's only taken 70 threes and shot 64.1 percent from the free-throw line.
34. Zeke Nnaji (Arizona, PF/C, Freshman)
Nnaji's cutting (56 FGs), offensive rebounding (33 putbacks) and mid-range touch (11-of-22 medium-range jumpers) are the strengths worth coveting for NBA teams. He isn't strong, athletic or a projected shot-blocker, but he makes scoring plays off the ball and shows promising lateral foot speed for defending perimeter forwards/bigs.
33. Cassius Winston (Michigan State, PG, Senior)
Winston finished the regular season coming off five consecutive wins and a 27-point, six-assist showing against Ohio State. Executives won't view the 22-year-old senior as an upside play in the draft, but he's made an intriguing case to teams in the 20s or 30s as a potential immediate upgrade at backup point guard. Winston's shooting, playmaking and intangibles are too good for his limited athleticism and tools to prevent him from having an NBA career.
32. Grant Riller (Charleston, PG, Senior)
Riller is done at Charleston after averaging 21.9 points in consecutive seasons. Now it's all about the predraft process. He'll be one of the draws during scrimmages at the NBA combine, where he'll have the chance to prove himself against pro prospects who didn't play in the CAA. He's a 6'3" scorer and limited playmaker (3.9 assists), but Riller is super quick off the dribble and highly skilled, finishing his senior season grading in the 97th percentile as a pick-and-roll ball-handler, 84th percentile out of isolation and 96th percentile out of spot-ups. He shot 40.0 percent off the catch, 42.1 percent off the dribble and a spectacular 63.4 percent at the basket.
31. Xavier Tillman (Michigan State, PF/C, Junior)
The right fit and team could unlock and optimize Tillman's role-player qualities, including his passing, rebounding effort and defensive versatility. He's on track to join Tim Duncan and Bo Outlaw as the only NCAA players since 1992 to average at least 10 boards, three assists and two blocks. He also leads the nation in box plus-minus, which is another reason to look past how Tillman likely won't offer much as a scorer in the NBA.
30. Tyler Bey (Colorado, SF/PF, Junior)
Defensive versatility, rebounding instincts (9.1 per game) and efficient finishing (63.7 percent at rim) could earn Bey an NBA role. He even shot 46.3 percent on 41 half-court jumpers and 75.0 percent on free throws, which are encouraging signs for his shooting potential. Bey won't be used to score or create, but he can still build a valuable reputation by contesting shots inside and out, crashing the glass and regularly picking up easy baskets within an offense.
29. Jalen Smith (Maryland, PF/C, Sophomore)
On pace to finish as one of six players since 1992 to average at least 10 rebounds, two blocks and a three-pointer, Smith checks boxes that NBA teams pay for, even if he doesn't offer a great deal of scoring or passing potential. His three-and-D and energy should earn him first-round looks, particularly if he shoots well during workouts.
28. Nico Mannion (Arizona, PG, Freshman)
Mannion has some encouraging bounce-back games lately, but they haven't changed my perception of how he fits into the NBA game. Limited wiggle and length for separating, finishing and defending (zero blocks in 31 games) make it difficult to picture Mannion thriving as an NBA starting point guard. However, he offers attractive value in the 20s. While there are questions about his projected scoring efficiency and defensive outlook, Mannion can still be an asset, with enough passing skills in transition and ball-screen situations and a threatening jump shot off the catch or dribble.
27. Aleksej Pokusevski (Olympiacos II, PF, 2001)
After making a brief appearance in Euroleague in February, Pokusevski moved back to Greece's second league. Despite a lack of noteworthy reps this past season, his latest stat line is the type that makes him an enticing gamble: 15 points, 11 rebounds, five assists, two steals, two blocks and two three-pointers in only 18 minutes. Pokusevski is stick-skinny, but he possesses unusual fluidity and skill for a 7-footer as a ball-handler, shooter and passer. He might be too risky to reach on in the top 20, but the potential long-term reward is worth the risk after that.
26. Malachi Flynn (San Diego State, PG, Junior)
Flynn finished first in the Mountain West in assists (5.1) and steals (1.8) and third in scoring (17.6). His 7.4 win shares leads the nation, and his 12.2 box plus-minus ranks eighth. Can he continue executing at the NBA level despite his 6'1" size and limited burst? I've become more optimistic as the season has progressed. Flynn's skill level, IQ and peskiness have been persuasive despite the weaker competition. It's worth noting he went for 28 points, five boards and four assists in November during a win over Iowa.
25. Isaiah Stewart (Washington, C, Freshman)
An imposing physical presence around the basket will help Stewart carve out an NBA role. His power, motor and low-post footwork should continue leading to easy buckets off deep entries and offensive rebounds. But bigs who can't stretch the floor, pass or defend the perimeter only hold so much value in today's NBA. Through 31 games, Stewart has four threes, 27 assists and 17 steals, though his shooting has shown signs of touch.
24. Tyrell Terry (Stanford, PG/SG, Freshman)
Terry might draw first-round interest if he declares this year, but he could maximize his draft stock by returning and improving his body to ease concerns about his lack of strength and athleticism. Either way, his smooth ball skills, shooting versatility and touch (89.6 percent FT) appear pro-caliber. His path toward rising in the 2020 draft would likely require an NCAA tournament run, so March Madness being canceled would create an uphill battle for Terry. Otherwise, he would start next year as a projected lottery pick on my 2021 preseason board.
23. Jaden McDaniels (Washington, SF/PF, Freshman)
McDaniels closed the regular season strong, averaging 16.8 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.8 blocks over Washington's last four games. A poor three-of-nine showing against Arizona during Washington's Pac-12 tournament loss clouded that previous run, however. Carryingbmomentum into the postseason would have been key for convincing scouts who may be skeptical about his inconsistent effort throughout the year. The idea of McDaniels still remains enticing based on his 6'9" size, creation moves, shooting range and potential defensive versatility. However, his 40.7 percent field-goal mark and 3.2 turnovers per game have made it difficult to fall in love.
22. Josh Green (Arizona, SG/SF, Freshman)
Teams buying into Green's shot could have him penciled in as a lottery prospect considering what a reliable jumper could do for such an explosive leaper and quick defender. He'll need one, given his inability to create (combined 4-of-23 in isolation and pick-and-roll ball-handling). Green finished the regular season having shot 6-of-9 from three over Arizona's last four games and 18-of-38 on uncontested catch-and-shoot jumpers for the year. I worry about his 5-of-15 mark off screens, 4-of-22 on guarded catch-and-shoots and 7-of-33 on pull-ups. His 38.9 percent mark finishing at the rim is concerning as well, though Green compensates with soft floater touch (40.0 percent).
21. Tre Jones (Duke, PG, Sophomore)
The ACC Player of the Year, Jones helped hold Cole Anthony to 4-of-14 shooting over the weekend while totaling 21 points and 11 assists of his own. Whether he projects as a starter or not, Jones figures to be an asset for any team regardless of role. Even his scoring hits a wall, his passing IQ, defensive pressure and intangibles will carry over.
20. Leandro Bolmaro (Barcelona II, SG/SF, 2000)
Bolmaro is putting up numbers for Barcelona's second team, though his lack of minutes in Euroleague and the Spanish ACB will make it tough for teams to confidently draft him in the top 20. He's stood out over the years with 6'7" size and a unique package of ball-handling fluidity and passing skills. His jump shot looks promising, but the numbers haven't been there, so workouts will be key for his draft stock. Bolmaro missed all six of his three-point attempts on Sunday, but he hit four in his previous game.
19. Patrick Williams (Florida State, PF, Freshman)
It's easy to fall for Williams' effort plays, exciting finishes and flashes of versatility and look past his skill limitations. Averaging only 9.2 points while shooting 16-of-50 from three, he hasn't consistently produced like an impact lottery pick. But his potential trajectory remains appealing if he can build on his shooting and pull-up game (41.9 percent), ball-screen playmaking (10-of-20 as pick-and-roll ball-handler) and activity around the basket.
18. Precious Achiuwa (Memphis, PF/C, Freshman)
Achiuwa finished the regular season on a tear, averaging 20.3 points, 17.7 rebounds and 3.0 blocks over Memphis' last three games. He even buried two threes at Houston on Sunday. While he needs to improve his offensive skill level and decision-making in the half court, his physical tools (6'9", 225 pounds, 7'2" wingspan) and athleticism alone enable him to make special plays at both ends. It's worth banking on his foundation and natural talent and gambling on his ball-handling, post game, shooting and passing to improve over time.
17. Aaron Nesmith (Vanderbilt, SF, Sophomore)
A season-ending foot injury may wind up benefiting Nesmith from a draft-stock perspective. He went down before any shooting slump could surface, and many of this year's one-and-dones have hit a wall. Even though he lasted only 14 games, Nesmith made a ridiculous 52.2 percent of his 8.2 three-point attempts per game. He shot 53.6 percent off the catch and 51.0 percent off screens. However, he demonstrated limited creation ability and off-the-dribble scoring, finishing with 13 assists in 500 minutes. He generated only six total points on 16 pick-and-roll possessions and converted 35.1 percent of his pull-ups.
16. Saddiq Bey (Villanova, SF/PF, Sophomore)
While Bey's 45.1 percent three-point shooting pops first on the scouting report, he's also one of the nation's most efficient half-court players, ranking in the 98th percentile out of spot-ups, the 88th percentile as a pick-and-roll ball-handler, the 86th percentile on post-ups, the 91st percentile on cuts and 98th percentile off screens. His 29.6 percent shooting on off-the-dribble jumpers is disappointing, but for a 6'8", 216-pound forward, Bey's catch-and-shoot accuracy, ball-screen offense and defensive tools should be enough for him to eventually compete for a starting position in the right situation.
15. Theo Maledon (ASVEL, PG, 2001)
Coming off consecutive solid outings, Maledon finished with 12 points against Real Madrid after totaling nine points and four assists in 13 minutes against Valencia. His role and production have fluctuated all season, but the highs outweigh the lows, given his age (18) and the level of competition. Maledon's scoring efficiency in Euroleague (45.6 percent FG, 36.7 percent 3PT) fuel optimism over his potential to continue compensating in the NBA for limited burst and bounce with ball skills, footwork, finishing coordination and promising shooting mechanics.
14. Devin Vassell (Florida State, SF, Sophomore)
Vassell has been relatively quiet offensively since erupting for 27 points on 7-of-7 from three against Virginia Tech on Feb. 1. He's still a limited shot-creator, but the draw to Vassell stems from his coveted mix of shooting and defensive IQ/versatility for an athletic 6'6" wing.
13. Kira Lewis Jr. (Alabama, PG, Sophomore)
Averaging 23.2 points and 6.7 assists while shooting 46.3 percent from three over Alabama's last nine games, Lewis is making a notable late push and strong final impression. While his underwhelming physical profile and athletic abilities have raised questions about his pro potential, Lewis is still quicker and younger than higher-profile point guards like Mannion, Jones, Tyrese Haliburton and Cole Anthony. If nothing else, NBA teams should see a ball-handler who can break down defenses, slash to the hoop and drive-and-kick. But for an 18-year-old, there are still higher levels of shot-making and passing reads he can get to.
12. RJ Hampton (New Zealand Breakers, SG, 2001)
A 6'5" combo guard, Hampton comes off as safe thanks to his positional size and athleticism, skill versatility and comfort level overseas. His shooting needs to improve, and he doesn't project as a lead decision-maker or initiator. But between his transition scoring and slashing, capable shot-making and secondary playmaking, Hampton is physically and fundamentally well-rounded for a 19-year-old.
11. Tyrese Haliburton (Iowa State, PG, Sophomore)
Teams will hope for a chance to assess Haliburton's odd shooting mechanics during workouts after his season was cut short by a wrist injury. They should already be convinced about his floor game and passing. Extraordinary basketball IQ will lead to his assist game carrying over. No burst for blowing by or separating one-on-one limits his scoring potential, but between his floater and 54.5 percent catch-and-shoot jumper, Haliburton should offer just enough shot-making to complement his signature playmaking feel.
10. James Wiseman (Memphis, C, Freshman)
While some teams may see star potential tied to James Wiseman's 7'1", 240-pound frame, 7'6" wingspan and athleticism, his limited skills and awareness push him into my second tier of prospects.
With a top-five pick in today's NBA, I'd have a tough time taking a center who doesn't shoot, pass or defend much away from the basket. Later in the lottery, it's fine to go after a rim-runner and shot-blocker with Wiseman's special physical gifts.
He'll continue racking up easy baskets off dump-downs, offensive rebounds and lobs. And his strength, length and hops around the basket should work in rim protection.
Unlike some of the higher-profile prospects, Wiseman may want to work out for as many teams as possible. He played only three games at Memphis, and empty-gym shooting drills can give him a chance to sell executives on his jumper.
9. Tyrese Maxey (Kentucky, SG, Freshman)
Tyrese Maxey has kept his spot in my late-lottery range since opening night. A recent 21-point outing against Tennessee and 1-of-11 showing against Florida aren't moving the needle on his evaluation this late.
While it's tough envision Maxey developing into an NBA star, it's easy to picture him as a pro. Playing alongside Immanuel Quickley and Ashton Hagans has limited Maxey's freedom at Kentucky. He's still managing 14.0 points and 3.2 assists while ranking in the 86th percentile as a pick-and-roll ball-handler and demonstrating plenty of shot-making skills, even if his percentages remain underwhelming (29.2 percent 3PT). His 83.3 percent free-throw mark and dribble jumpers create optimism.
At 6'3" without explosiveness or a point guard's playmaking acumen, Maxey may be more of a supporting piece than a franchise cornerstone. But his production, offensive versatility, toughness and positive vibes help paint Maxey as one of the draft's safest picks.
8. Obi Toppin (Dayton, PF/C, Sophomore)
No. 8 is the highest Obi Toppin has been all year. Consistent domination, plus more flashes of expanding scoring versatility, continue to make it easier to look past his age and defensive limitations.
The question marks—he's 22 years old and lacks lateral quickness—are still worth taking into account. But in this particular draft, it's nitpicky to use them as reasons to pass on Toppin after the first handful of selections.
Toppin just closed out the regular season with 27 points and five assists against George Washington, and he'll enter the postseason with a 39.0 percent three-point mark on 82 attempts. While the powerful finishes, shooting improvement and 20.0 points per game have fueled his rise, flashes of face-up driving moves and high-level passes suggest there is even more to Toppin's offensive upside.
Teams should just value his high floor/high ceiling with scoring and dishing and worry about surrounding him with the necessary defensive pieces over the next few years.
7. Cole Anthony (North Carolina, PG, Freshman)
Before Saturday's Duke game, Cole Anthony had been averaging 22.6 points and 5.4 assists on 52.1 percent shooting over North Carolina's previous five games. He appeared more comfortable picking his spots and reading defenses as a driver and playmaker. And then he ran into Tre Jones, who helped hold him to nine points on 4-of-14 shooting in a spotlight matchup that exposed both his lack of support and individual struggles as a decision-maker in traffic.
There is no question that North Carolina's poor shooting reduces Anthony's space, forcing him into tougher pull-ups and contested touch shots around the key. He isn't blameless, however, for his 40.4 percent finishing at the rim and 23.7 percent mark on runners. Anthony often takes poor angles and rushes floaters, showing questionable feel when it comes to taking the right route for layups or shots against rim protection.
He's a skilled passer, but he sometimes misses teammates and develops tunnel vision when attacking the basket. Otherwise, he remains a high-level shot-maker around the perimeter, both off the dribble and off the ball (41.9 percent catch-and-shoot). He creates separation with step-backs and can execute jumpers without requiring room to release.
He's even making 2.3 threes per game at a 35.6 percent clip—respectable given his heavy workload.
The game would come easier to Anthony if he were surrounded by sharper shooters and offensive players in general. It's still worth questioning whether he's the type of guard a coach will want running his offense or if he's better suited to play a combo role that values his scoring. Either way, Anthony should still be viewed as a top-10 player from this draft and a potential value pick for the right team in the Nos. 5-10 range.
6. Isaac Okoro (Auburn, SF/PF, Freshman)
The draw to Isaac Okoro continues to focus on his defense and intangibles. But projecting a top-six prospect means betting on his offensive development, as well.
Though a limited shot-creator and shooter, Okoro has a strong feel for scoring within an offense, averaging 12.9 points with just a 19.6 percentage usage rate on 60.3 percent shooting inside the arc. He's also hit 15 threes over Auburn's last 15 games, showing enough potential for his spot-up jumper to eventually become a serviceable weapon as he develops into his mid-20s.
Otherwise, Okoro's offensive value shows on drives, cuts, post-ups and passes, while his physical tools, quickness, anticipation and effort should continue translating through defensive pressure and the versatility to guard four positions.
5. Deni Avdija (Israel, SF/PF, 2001)
Scouts have been able to evaluate Deni Avdija in two separate roles this season for Maccabi Tel Aviv.
In Euroleague, he spends most of his time either waiting to catch and shoot or run out on the break. In the Israeli BSL, his usage rate is 4.5 percentage points higher. In these games, he's averaging 12.3 points (55.5 percent FG) and 2.4 assists in 26.6 minutes, able to flash more off-the-dribble ability and shot-making with the extra freedom.
The different versions of Avdija highlight the adaptability and versatility that should allow him to fit with any NBA organization.
Recently, he's been quiet offensively in Euroleague. But limited touches haven't affected his approach or effort level, particularly defensively, where he consistently shows standout energy levels and the quickness to move his feet guarding smaller ball-handlers.
The consensus assessment of Avdija suggests he's one of the lowest-risk prospects due to his physical profile (6'8"), well-rounded skill set, promising defensive outlook and experience at different levels overseas.
4. Onyeka Okongwu (USC, C, Freshman)
The physical profile (6'9", 245 lbs), explosive finishing (66.4 percent at rim), shot-blocking (2.7 per game), production (16.2 points, 8.6 rebounds, 61.6 percent FG) and analytics (No. 3 in the country in box plus-minus) hint at a high floor for Onyeka Okongwu. It's the flashes of footwork, face-up coordination, touch with both hands and defensive versatility that lift his ceiling above the NBA's top rim-runners.
Since he lacks three-point range and spends most of his time operating with his back to the basket, he has to answer questions about his potential trajectory in today's NBA. Regardless, Okongwu comes off as a lock to add value at both ends as a vertical spacer and active rim protector.
But I'm raising the bar and betting on the "outdated" center defying the NBA's updated laws of upside. He's already improved his skill level substantially since high school. Continued growth as an unpredictable, multifaceted post scorer and mid-range shooter could turn Okongwu into a go-to option also capable of anchoring a team's defense.
3. Killian Hayes (Ratiopharm Ulm, PG, 2001)
Cold three-point shooting hasn't kept Killian Hayes from scoring in Germany or Eurocup. He's totaled at least 14 points in five of his last six games, effectively using footwork, touch and finishing angles to compensate for limited explosiveness and a jumper that needs work.
Playmaking will still be the signature strength that distinguishes Hayes in the NBA. He's suited for its ball-screen-heavy offenses. Averaging 5.4 assists between both leagues overseas, Hayes has terrific passing skills off the dribble to find roll men, cutters and shooters.
Early as an NBA pro, he'll be valued for his ability to set up teammates. But flashes of improved shot creation (pull-ups, side-steps and step-backs) and shot-making have led to optimism over his development as a scorer. Hayes has missed 24 of his last 30 threes, but his 30 makes on the year, plus a combined 87.6 percent free-throw mark, remain encouraging for an 18-year-old.
2. Anthony Edwards (Georgia, SG, Freshman)
Scouts have received the full Anthony Edwards experience since February.
After racking up 36 points, four assists and four steals against South Carolina, he scored an efficient 26 points on 14 shots in a win over Arkansas. He followed by combining to shoot 9-of-32 in consecutive losses to Florida and LSU before finishing his college just 2-of-13 against Ole Miss in Georgia's only SEC tournament game.
Edwards' athleticism and high-level shot-making skills can translate to instant offense and massive outputs. His shot selection also leads to poor shooting performances and wasted possessions.
Edwards' physical tools, quickness, bounce and production, as well as the ease with which he can create and make shots all point to a surefire NBA scoring machine. He's averaged 19.1 points and 2.3 threes, but they come on 40.2 percent shooting from the field and 29.4 percent from deep. The questions are whether his style of play is conducive to winning if a good chunk of the offense is running through his hero-jumper-heavy attack.
Zach LaVine is a comparison that's starting to make sense for his aesthetic delivery, volume scoring and debatable ability to lead a team.
1. LaMelo Ball (Illawarra Hawks, PG, 2001)
Questions about Edwards' shot selection and feel for impacting games have kept him from leapfrogging LaMelo Ball, who's been No. 1 on my board since December.
Before shutting it down in Australia due to a foot injury, he averaged 17.0 points, 7.4 rebounds, 6.8 assists, 1.7 threes and 1.7 steals in the NBL. While a 46.4 true shooting percentage does raise questions for a potential top pick, the eye test buys his production, new approach, trajectory since high school and NBA fit as a 6'7" playmaker with speciality shot-making skills and an impressive finishing package around the basket.
Don't count on Ball attending the NBA combine or working out for many teams. He'll keep quiet during the predraft process and presumably only interview or visit the teams he prefers to play for.
That may make Ball a long shot to go No. 1, particularly if the lottery winner already has a franchise point guard. But in a vacuum, I'd take him over Edwards right now. Ball has more potential to make teammates better with his passing, and he still has significant scoring upside to unlock from his creativity off the dribble, deep threes, floaters and transition attacks.