Ranking NBA's Top 10 Under-the-Radar Prospects in Orlando Bubble

Jonathan Wasserman@@NBADraftWassNBA Lead WriterAugust 8, 2020

Ranking NBA's Top 10 Under-the-Radar Prospects in Orlando Bubble

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    Mike Ehrmann/Associated Press

    The NBA bubble features a number of promising prospects who could leave Walt Disney World with more recognition. Some have already started to capitalize on the league's return.

    Here, we've highlighted our top 10 under-the-radar prospects, regardless of how well they've played through seeding games to date.

    Rankings are based on long-term potential and NBA value.

    Only first- and second-year players were considered. Players we viewed as above the radar (and therefore ineligible) include Michael Porter Jr., Brandon Clarke, Jaxson Hayes, Aaron Holiday, Grant Williams and Terence Davis.

10. Chris Chiozza, PG, Brooklyn Nets

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    Ashley Landis/Associated Press

    Undrafted out of Florida with a career 39.1 field-goal percentage through four NCAA seasons, Chris Chiozza has gone from off the radar to making a case for a full-time NBA role.

    After going for 14 points and six assists in a win over the Washington Wizards on Sunday, he drew more attention with a double-double during the Brooklyn Nets' takedown of the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday.

    Chiozza's ability to control the pace, change it up and break down defenses should be appealing for Brooklyn long term. At 5'11", he's tough to contain off the dribble, and he uses his speed to put pressure on teams in transition.

    Chiozza's setup ability is his primary selling point, but he did shoot 10-of-19 from three in March before the season went on hiatus, and he's hit five threes in four bubble games. Becoming a threatening-enough shooter to complement his playmaking and basketball IQ could be a huge development that helps Chiozza stick.

9. Robert Williams III, C, Boston Celtics

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    Ashley Landis/Associated Press

    The ups should outweigh the downs for Robert Williams III.

    He's still learning defensive technique and offensive positioning. More mistakes are coming. But over the next few years, the Boston Celtics should find good use for Williams' special athleticism at center.

    In just under 19 minutes against the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday, he finished with 18 points, five rebounds, three blocks and two assists. He also committed three fouls, and understanding the NBA whistle will continue to be a point of emphasis.

    But even without a great deal of feel, Williams is still an exciting defensive playmaker as well as a huge lob/roll target and putback threat. He plays higher than most bigs in the paint, leading to easy-basket opportunities.

    He did hit a garbage-time jump shot against Brooklyn, and more of those would make it easier for head coach Brad Stevens to play him for longer stretches. Improved IQ, confidence and overall polish could lead Williams to become Boston's starting center before his rookie contract expires.

8. Luguentz Dort, SG, Oklahoma City Thunder

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    Mary Altaffer/Associated Press

    Luguentz Dort was No. 33 on Bleacher Report's 2019 big board, but surprisingly went undrafted. As a result, the Oklahoma City Thunder have a two-way role player making roughly $5.2 million total through 2022-23. 

    Though he's far from polished, Dort has played at least 30 minutes in each bubble game, including the team's win over the Los Angeles Lakers, when he spent time guarding LeBron James and making life tough for him.

    Dort has embraced a stopper role with his toned, 215-pound frame. He's given the Thunder a physical defender who's capable of staying attached around the perimeter and willing to bang and hold his ground inside the arc.

    Offensively, head coach Billy Donovan seems open to living with Dort's shaky jumper and finishing. But he's still averaging 9.7 points per game in the bubble, mostly by playing hard and using his body on drives.

    Regardless of how much he develops offensively over the next few seasons, his identity seems unlikely to change. Improving as a spot-up shooter will be a priority, but Dort will continue to provide value with his defensive pressure and toughness.

7. Keldon Johnson, SG/SF, San Antonio Spurs

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    Rick Bowmer/Associated Press

    Keldon Johnson was having a strong season in the G League, but he logged only 91 NBA minutes before the COVID-19 shutdown in March. He's played his way into head coach Gregg Popovich's bubble rotation, and his performance has served as a reminder as to what he may be able to consistently add down the road.

    Averaging 13.0 points and 5.3 rebounds, Johnson has showcased his athleticism, shot-making and ability to take contact.

    Dating back to high school, he's always been known for his aggressive driving and slashing. In the NBA, he continues to slash through defenses in straight lines. The more notable development has been his shooting in the bubble, where he's made 6-of-9 three-pointers through four games.

    Johnson figures to cool off from outside, but he looked comfortable spotting up from deep at Kentucky, and the eye test from his small sample size of catch-and-shoot opportunities appears promising.

    The Spurs shouldn't be counting on Johnson to serve as a creator or playmaker on offense. But in an off-ball role, he should still be able to put pressure on opponents by attacking ball screens and closeouts and making set jump shots.

6. Shake Milton, PG/SG, Philadelphia 76ers

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    Matt Slocum/Associated Press

    The new starting point guard for the Philadelphia 76ers, Shake Milton may have gone from under the radar to above it in a week. However, most NBA fans are likely still learning about the 6'5" guard who drilled the game-winning three to beat the Spurs on Monday.

    While Milton lacks blow-by speed, he mixes it up with hesitations and ball-handling moves, body-controlled finishes, shot-making versatility and shooting accuracy. For the season, he's at 50.4 percent from the floor, 45.7 percent from three and 77.2 percent from the free-throw line.

    There isn't anything flashy about his playmaking, but he's making the basic reads he needs to.

    Milton will continue to take on ball-handling duties with Ben Simmons injured, though his ability to spot up off the ball should come in handy for Philadelphia as well.

5. Troy Brown Jr., SG/SF, Washington Wizards

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    Kim Klement/Associated Press

    With Bradley Beal out, Troy Brown Jr. has capitalized on a bigger workload in the bubble, showcasing more of the point-wing playmaking he made a name for himself with in high school.

    Along with 16.0 points and 6.5 rebounds through four matchups at Disney, he's also averaging 5.3 assists.

    Though Brown isn't the most advanced scorer or shooting threat, versatility is his signature and differentiator. At 6'6", he gives Washington a player who can grab-and-go, facilitate off ball screens, slash for layups, step into jumpers and defend multiple spots.

    His three-point range was always a question mark, but he seems to be making enough progress (33.5 percent this season), considering he just turned 21 in late July.

    Even as an average threat from deep, Brown figures to play an important jack-of-all-trades role during Washington's attempted resurgence once John Wall returns next season.

4. De'Anthony Melton, PG/SG, Memphis Grizzlies

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    Ron Jenkins/Associated Press

    Grayson Allen has outplayed De'Anthony Melton in the bubble thus far. But Melton just turned 22 in May, and with the right role and opportunity, his passing and defense are more likely to result in consistency and an impact on winning.

    With special defensive instincts, IQ and anticipation, Melton has registered a career 3.1 steal percentage between his time in Phoenix and Memphis after posting a 4.0 steal percentage at USC. With Melton on the floor, opponents are scoring 4.5 fewer points per 100 possessions, and the Grizzlies are 4.7 points better on offense.

    He isn't a high-level creator or shot-maker, but he makes smart reads (20.2 assist percentage) and grabs boards (10.0 rebounding percentage). And he's flashed enough touch on his shot (1.3 3PTM per 36, 79.1 FT percent) to indicate untapped shooting potential.

    As long as he can be surrounded by scoring and more creation, Melton has the chance to be a key glue guy on a winning roster.

3. Cameron Johnson, SF, Phoenix Suns

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    Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

    By drafting Cameron Johnson with the No. 11 pick in the 2019 draft, the Phoenix Suns ignored the stigma tied to taking older players early. The decision should pay off, even if Phoenix did miss out on PJ Washington at No. 12 and Tyler Herro at No. 13.

    Johnson's accurate shooting at North Carolina carried over into the regular season. He's now playing a key role for the 4-0 Bubble Suns.

    He was just a plus-36 in Phoenix's win over the Indiana Pacers, helping the team with his smooth transition game, shot-making, floor-spacing, unselfish decision-making and defensive discipline.

    Save for a 4-of-8 performance from deep against the Dallas Mavericks, his shot hasn't even fallen at Disney (32.0 percent 3PT), yet he's still found ways to contribute. Coveted mostly for his three-ball out of college, Johnson has proved to be more multidimensional in terms of passing, rebounding and playing team defense.

    Limited creation ability still limits Johnson's ceiling, but the Suns seem like the right team to optimize his shooting and IQ.

2. Donte DiVincenzo, PG/SG, Milwaukee Bucks

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    Nick Wass/Associated Press

    Counting stats underscore Donte DiVincenzo's value.

    He's been set up to play an impact role on a title contender with his versatility and energy. And he's delivering this season, regardless of what box scores might say.

    His four bubble games haven't been his best, though he's still put together stretches that highlight his purpose for Milwaukee.

    DiVincenzo gives Milwaukee another ball-screen playmaker capable of collapsing defenses and drawing attention with his aggressive driving. He adds shot-making as well after taking an encouraging step forward from deep (1.3 threes per game this season on an improved 33.8 percent clip).

    Defensively, he frustrates opposing ball-handlers with his annoying pressure. He draws offensive fouls and make screeners work extra hard to take him out of the play. And he's willing to mix it up with bigs and attack rebounds. His 7.5 boards per 36 minutes are impressive for a 6'4" guard.

    DiVincenzo's live motor and fearlessness lead to bad shots, wild takes and turnovers. However, he doesn't touch the ball enough for those mistakes to hurt the Bucks too badly. DiVincenzo has quietly become an important, useful role player off Milwaukee's bench.

1. Gary Trent Jr., SG, Portland Trail Blazers

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    Kevin C. Cox/Associated Press

    Gary Trent Jr. largely flew under the radar before arriving at Disney, but he has quickly emerged as an impact scorer for the Portland Trail Blazers during their current quest for the No. 8 seed.

    He's been one of the bubble's hottest shot-makers, leading all players with 22 threes through four games.

    Since the NBA's return, Trent is averaging 20.3 points after putting up 27 in a win over the Denver Nuggets on Thursday. But even before the shutdown, he was having an efficient season in a limited role, as he's currently generating 1.29 points per possession out of spot-ups (96th percentile).

    A 42.4 percent three-point ball has allowed Trent to move ahead of Anfernee Simons on Portland's depth chart. The 2018 second-round pick gives the Blazers' starters more margin for error with his offense off the bench.

    Questions about his burst for blowing by, shot selection and quickness to defend caused teams to hesitate in the draft. But dating back to high school, Trent was always known for his confident scoring ability, and it's coming to life for Portland at just the right time.


    Stats courtesy of NBA.com and Basketball Reference.