2020 NBA Draft Big Board: Ranking the Top 50 Prospects

Jonathan Wasserman@@NBADraftWassNBA Lead WriterOctober 27, 2020

2020 NBA Draft Big Board: Ranking the Top 50 Prospects

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    Vasha Hunt/Associated Press

    After months of uncertainty about the NBA draft process, prospects are now in the process of interviewing, measuring, testing and working out for teams.

    There are rumors emerging from daily conversations as teams try to gather and trade new information.

    Some of that new intel has helped reshape my option on certain prospects. 

    With roughly three weeks to go until draft night, I've updated our top 50 rankings.

Nos. 50-41

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    Isaac Brekken/Associated Press

    50. Naji Marshall (Xavier, SF, Junior)

    Marshall's versatility should earn him second-round looks with his 6'7" size, playmaking and perimeter defense. Shooting is still a swing skill that could unlock scoring potential that teams have been hesitant to buy.


    49. Immanuel Quickley (Kentucky, SG, Sophomore)

    Despite lacking creation skills and athleticism, Quickley could carve out a career by shooting off the catch and using his floater on drives past closeout defenders. His chances of sticking will skyrocket if he is picked by a veteran team that needs a shot-maker.


    48. Nate Hinton (Houston, SG/SF, Sophomore)

    Shooting, defense and hustle should give Hinton a chance. Limited off the dribble, he will need the right role: one that values his ability to space the floor, create turnovers and make energy plays.


    47. Jordan Nwora (Louisville, SF/PF, Junior)

    Teams could see a shot-making specialist in Nwora based on his 6'7" size and 178 threes through three seasons at Louisville. He won't offer much as a passer or defender, but between his transition offense, self-creation and shooting, Nwora's scoring potential is worth buying with a second-round pick.


    46. Sam Merrill (Utah State, SG, Senior)

    Merrill is 24 years old, but that shouldn't scare teams off in the second round. For a 6'5" guard, his skill precision, shooting and IQ are sharp enough that he could immediately make shots and passes.


    45. Mason Jones (Arkansas, SG, Junior)

    The SEC's leading scorer, Jones broke out by improving his self-creation and one-on-one shot-making. Teams could see a bucket-getter to bring off the bench, though he'll want to work on his spot-up shooting and defense to strengthen his role-player profile.


    44. Elijah Hughes (Syracuse, SF, Junior)

    Hughes developed into one of the nation's top isolation scorers with new footwork for separating and tough, deep shot-making skills. He's built an intriguing case to teams with his 6'6" size, athleticism, shooting versatility and production.


    43. Tre Jones (Duke, PG, Sophomore)

    It wouldn't be surprising if Jones went in the 20s to a team that valued his passing IQ and defensive toughness. While I question how well he'll be able to score, an improved pull-up game should give him a better chance.


    42. Ty-Shon Alexander (Creighton, SG, Junior)

    There is a lot to bet on with Alexander, who ranked in the 84th percentile or better in spot-ups, pick-and-rolls, transition, cutting and isolation. His defensive quickness also showed while he guarded some of the nation's top scorers, such as Myles Powell and Markus Howard. The playmaking and creation might not translate, but his 39.9 percent three-point shooting and defense should be enough to justify second-round interest.


    41. Killian Tillie (Gonzaga, PF/C, Senior)

    I'm ignoring Tillie's injury history and instead betting on his ridiculous shooting accuracy—at least 40 percent from three in every season—along with his post and passing skills and IQ.

Nos. 40-31

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    Brad Tollefson/Associated Press

    40. Xavier Tillman Sr. (Michigan State, PF/C, Junior)

    Tillman could stick as a defensive specialist with standout IQ that also shows on passes and cuts on offense. His ceiling is limited without a jumper or ball-handling skills, but he could still develop into a valued role player who defends pick-and-rolls, block shots and gets easy baskets and assists within the flow of the offense.


    39. Theo Maledon (ASVEL, PG/SG, 2001)

    Maledon's limited burst for a lead guard is concerning, but his versatility remains attractive given his 6'5" size, pick-and-roll play and ability to shoot off the catch and dribble. He'll be banking on his skill level and IQ to help him overcome athletic limitations.


    38. Devon Dotson (Kansas, PG, Sophomore)

    Dotson will use workouts and updated film to show teams his shooting has improved since the season finished. It looks noticeably smoother based on the tape from his training in Las Vegas. He'll need the jumper to complement an offensive game that's built around his ability to get downhill in transition and off ball screens.


    37. Nico Mannion (Arizona, PG, Freshman)

    Despite being the only freshman in the country to average at least 14 points and five assists, Mannion has gradually slipped down boards. Be's become a potential value pick in the 20s or 30s with a high skill level as a shot-maker and passer. The concern stems from his struggles to separate one-on-one and get to the rim.


    36. Yam Madar (Hapoel Tel Aviv, PG, 2000)

    Madar cracked our radar last summer at the U20 European Championships, but he moved up our board after the Israeli BSL returned from the shutdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Though shooting range is a weakness, he has a chance to stick with his ability to attack defenses, make crafty plays and pressure opposing ball-handlers over the full length of the floor.


    35. Robert Woodard (Mississippi State, SF/PF, Sophomore)

    Woodard's 42.9 percent three-point shooting and athletic 6'7", 230-pound frame create three-and-D potential that diminishes concern about his limited creation ability.


    34. Zeke Nnaji (Arizona, PF/C, Freshman)

    Teams are considering Nnaji in the mid- to late first round, giving him positive reviews after his interviews and showing more faith in his jump shot. There isn't much versatility to his game, but his finishing, post play, touch and offensive rebounding appear translatable and capable of carrying him in a reserve role.


    33. Leandro Bolmaro (Barcelona, SG/SF, 2000)

    Bolmaro has started the 2020-21 season with Barcelona in the Spanish ACB, and though his shot hasn't fallen, a 10-assist game last week showed what makes the 6'7" wing different. He'll need to keep improving his shooting to score in the NBA, but playmaking and defensive energy separate him.


    32. Payton Pritchard (Oregon, PG/SG, Senior)

    After talking with scouts, I moved Pritchard up the board, as there seems to be a lot of optimism over his shooting, playmaking, IQ and toughness. It's still worth questioning how well he'll be able to create and finish, but Pritchard was extremely effective on pick-and-roll possessions (89th percentile), while his range and pull-up game should help him compensate if he struggles to blow by defenders.


    31. Tyler Bey (Colorado, PF, Junior)

    Defensive IQ and versatility will help Bey earn first-round looks, and he'll outproduce his draft slot if he continues to build on his flashes of touch. It's tough to picture much of a scoring threat, but there is appealing role-player potential tied to his finishing, rebounding, defense and a workable jump shot that appears improvable.

Nos. 30-21

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    Rod Aydelotte/Associated Press

    30. Jaden McDaniels (Washington, SF/PF, Freshman)

    Workouts should benefit McDaniels, whose ball-handling and smooth shooting will pop for a 6'9" forward. He struggled with execution and disappearing acts, but it's worth betting on McDaniels' talent and hoping he sharpens his shot selection, creation moves and shot-making consistency.


    29. Aaron Nesmith (Vanderbilt, SF, Sophomore)

    Though Nesmith's 52.2 three-point percentage came in only 14 games, his jump shot and 6'6" size pass the eye test. Teams think he could be the draft's top shooter, though he's lower on my board because of his limited pull-up game and lack of passing ability for a wing.


    28. Isaiah Joe (Arkansas, SG, Sophomore)

    Even though Joe's three-point mark fell to 34.2 percent, he was still burying 3.6 threes per game with picturesque mechanics and more flashes of pull-up shooting. He also fared well as a pick-a-roll ball-handler, though Joe will earn his money by burying jumpers in an off-ball role.

    27. Cassius Winston (Michigan State, PG, Senior)

    Some scouts already anticipate a steal in Winston, who will slip into the 20s or 30s because of his age (22) and limited tools and athleticism. At the least, he figures to land a backup role for his pick-and-roll play, while shooting versatility and accuracy should help Winston overcome expected struggles to separate and finish inside the arc.


    26. Saddiq Bey (Villanova, SF/PF, Sophomore)

    Bey earned fans this year with his shooting for a 6'8" combo forward. And scouts often like to mention their comfort level with Villanova products. I'm hesitant about his ability to create and whether he's quick enough to effectively guard wings. But his shot-making and IQ still create a high floor and believable role-player potential.


    25. R.J. Hampton (New Zealand Breakers, PG/SG, 2001)

    Hampton's upside is understandable because of his explosiveness and combo-guard versatility. It's worrisome he doesn't have a bankable skill for a guard, but his downhill attacking should translate to layups, dunks and free throws, and he's flashed encouraging glimpses of floaters, playmaking and set shot-making.


    24. Jahmi'us Ramsey (Texas Tech, SG, Freshman)

    Because of convincing shooting, confident scoring ability and athletic defensive plays, I am willing to look past Ramsey's lapses with shot selection and concentration. He graded in the 88th percentile on isolations and has advanced self-creation and shot-making for a 6'4", 195-pound freshman.


    23. Skylar Mays (LSU, SG, Senior)

    Improved shooting could give Mays enough versatility when paired with his crafty shot-creation, secondary playmaking and IQ. Skeptics question how he fits and whether he's athletic enough to keep scoring, but his ability to use footwork to separate and make shots from three levels and his deceiving explosion on finishes keep me optimistic.


    22. Desmond Bane (TCU, SG, Senior)

    Every team should see a fit in Bane, a consistent shooter, improved playmaker and smart defender. Even if he struggles to create or finish without much quickness or burst, a lack of athleticism shouldn't prevent him from adding value with his three-ball, passing and IQ at both ends.


    21. Grant Riller (Charleston, PG/SG, Senior)

    I'm higher on Riller than teams who question his playmaking and his effectiveness against mid-major opponents. He's too skilled and sharp in terms of creating his own shot, making tough jumpers and finishing below the rim. It just might be wiser to view him as a scorer rather than a point guard who can be relied upon to run offense and set the table.

Nos. 20-11

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    Gerry Broome/Associated Press

    20. Malachi Flynn (San Diego State, PG, Junior)

    The conversation around Flynn seems to be changing, with more scouts thinking he could be picked in the first round. I have him in the top 20 and am unafraid about his limited size and athleticism. His pick-and-roll play could be the best in the class, while his three-point shooting and pesky defense help paint him as a complete point guard.


    19. Precious Achiuwa (Memphis, PF/C, Freshman)

    Raw offensively, Achiuwa will earn his playing time early by hustling for easy baskets and rebounds while guarding different types of players. Defensive versatility is his selling point and strength, though flashes of spot-up shooting and face-up scoring create hope around his potential to become more than just an energizer and finisher.


    18. Jalen Smith (Maryland, PF/C, Sophomore)

    Teams are looking at Smith as a potential lottery pick, with scouts and executives drawn to his combination of shooting and defensive upside. While he won't offer much as a one-on-one scorer or passer, there aren't many players who average a three-point make and block, and Smith appears on track to join that exclusive club.


    17. Cole Anthony (North Carolina, PG, Freshman)

    Anthony could be dropping on boards as others rise. The concerns about his decision-making and finishing are valid. But he's still a proven shot-maker from on and off the ball. His self-creation, pull-up game and catch-and-shoot three-ball should allow him to continue scoring against NBA defenses.


    16. Devin Vassell (Florida State, SF, Sophomore)

    Defensive playmaking and IQ separate Vassell, who consistently stood out at Florida State by contesting shots and anticipating from off the ball. He also shot at least 40 percent from three in consecutive seasons, though he isn't a creator, so he'll lean heavily on his jump shot to hold value offensively.

    15. Kira Lewis Jr. (Alabama, PG, Sophomore)

    The draw to Lewis stems from his ability to put pressure on defenses with his speed in transition and quickness off the dribble in the half court. His execution and decision-making aren't always on point, but he still made encouraging progress with his perimeter shot-making, passing on the move and footwork on drives to improve finishing angles.

    14. Tyrell Terry (Stanford, PG/SG, Freshman)

    Teams are starting to talk more about Terry as a potential lottery pick than the fringe first-rounder he appeared to be when he entered the draft. Since he is up to 6'3", 174 pounds, questions about his size and frame are fading, making it easier to buy his smooth scoring and passing skills. Even if the creation doesn't translate, he's still an elite shooter because of his touch and shot-making versatility.


    13. Isaac Okoro (Auburn, SF/PF, Freshman)

    Okoro is generating top-10 buzz, with teams seeing a disciplined player whose defense and toughness they can bank on. His limitations as a creator and shooter for a forward push him into the late-lottery range for me, but because of high scoring efficiency inside the arc, smart passing and defense, he comes off as a safe pick capable of impacting games without needing featured touches or many shots.


    12. Josh Green (Arizona, SG/SF, Freshman)

    While skeptics point to Green's limited handle and creativity, the right fit will value his explosiveness in transition and spot-up game as a shooter and slasher. His athleticism, catch-and-shoot jumper, floater touch and passing on the move should continue to work in an off-ball role, while defensive quickness, technique and versatility help jolt him into my top 15.


    11. Aleksej Pokusevski (Olympiacos II, PF, 2001)

    I'm hearing about interest in Pokusevski from teams in the teens, and despite having little production on his resume over the past year, he is a worthwhile reach in this draft. For a 7-footer and the class' youngest prospect, he has rare skill and fluidity as a shooter, playmaker and shot-blocker, which hints at one of the higher ceilings in the draft.

10. Tyrese Haliburton (Iowa State, PG/SG, Sophomore)

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    Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press

    It sounds as if Tyrese Haliburton could go as high as No. 4 or anywhere in that vicinity, including to a team targeting him in a trade.

    Passing translates, and everyone is buying Haliburton's ability to continue to set up teammates and make good decisions with the ball. The analytics love his game and statistical profile as well, specifically his 59.2 two-point percentage, 41.9 three-point percentage and 3.8 steal percentage, per Sports Reference.

    He's No. 10 for me because of concerns about his scoring potential since he doesn't have blow-by speed or a pull-up game. But I'm banking on Haliburton's playmaking, spot-up shooting and defensive IQ to improve a team's lineup.

9. James Wiseman (Memphis, C, Freshman)

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    Craig Mitchelldyer/Associated Press

    Despite the NBA's big-man revolution, with centers now handling the ball, passing and shooting, scouts are still excited about James Wiseman, who'll spend most of his minutes around the key.

    He was No. 2 in our recent mock draft, with sources telling Bleacher Report the Golden State Warriors remain high on the 7'1", 240-pound center.

    Wiseman is lower for me, as I'm skeptical about his offensive skill level and awareness at both ends in terms of decision-making and making defensive reads. But he's too impressive physically, and flashes of mid-range touch and fallaway jumpers remain enticing.

8. Tyrese Maxey (Kentucky, SG, Freshman)

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    James Crisp/Associated Press

    Disappointing percentages haven't scared me from keeping Tyrese Maxey in the top 10. I'm buying his shot-making, floater touch, coordinated finishing, pick-and-roll play and tough defense.

    His range from deep and 83.3 free-throw percentage seem like promising indicators—even if he did hit only 29.2 percent of his threes.

    While I am skeptical about his potential to morph into a lead point guard and primary playmaker, translatable scoring skills and defense are his selling points.

7. Patrick Williams (Florida State, SF/PF, Freshman)

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    Robert Franklin/Associated Press

    Ranking Patrick Williams in the top 10 means betting on significant improvement, but as the draft's youngest NCAA prospect, it's a bet worth taking when you consider his window to develop and potential versatility.

    He's a powerful 6'8", 225 pounds with three-point range, the ability to shoot off the dribble, athleticism around the basket and live-dribble passing skills. And he averaged one steal and one block per game, flashing exciting defensive playmaking that was fueled by his motor, strength and speed.

    The ideal landing spot for Williams, who averaged just 9.2 points per game, would be with a competitive team that can afford to be patient.

6. Deni Avdija (Maccabi Tel Aviv, SF/PF, 2001)

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    Antonio Calanni/Associated Press

    An easy fit with a high floor and reputation for working hard, Deni Avdija has fans in every scouting department. It seems possible he could be picked by any team, particularly since most could use more wings and versatile forwards.

    With a strong, 6'8" frame, Avdija's skill set checks boxes, including transition ball-handling, pick-and-roll playmaking, downhill driving and set shot-making. And though he isn't the quickest laterally, Avdija competes defensively, getting low into a stance around the perimeter and using his body to bang in the post.

    While skeptics question his poor free-throw numbers and inconsistent shooting, I'm using the eye test and banking on his work ethic to buy that his shooting will reach a semireliable level.

5. Obi Toppin (Dayton, PF/C, Sophomore)

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    Stew Milne/Associated Press

    Obi Toppin is locked in to the first half of the lottery, and it sounds as if he could be picked by any team as its best player available, regardless of how he fits.

    Scouts and executives are buying his offense after he averaged 20.0 points per game on 63.3 percent shooting and 39.0 percent shooting from three. Specifically, I'm buying that his explosiveness will consistently translate to easy baskets, his jump shot will continue to fall on catch-and-shoot chances and his passing will be a plus.

    Ideally, he will be selected by a team that could mask his suspect pick-and-roll coverage and limited lateral foot speed. His age (22) and potential to be a liability on defense are valid concerns. But he still deserves to be in the Nos. 5-10 range as an efficient scoring force who can also stretch the floor.

4. Anthony Edwards (Georgia, SG, Freshman)

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    Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

    With 6'5", 225-pound size, advanced shot-creation and shot-making skills and an average of 19.1 points per game, Anthony Edwards is No. 1 on some draft boards. There are also scouts who believe he's fool's gold.

    I'm in the middle, not ready to trust his mentality, shot selection and defense as a No. 1 pick but willing to buy that his scoring ability will translate.

    Between his tools and isolation game, he should develop into a one-on-one mismatch capable of taking over games. His style of play results in low-percentage shots while teammates stand and watch. And Edwards struggles to assert himself while working from off the ball, a spot he figures to be in as a rookie.

    I expect he'll be a productive pro and maybe the class' top scorer. Projected inefficiency and too much ball-stopping drop him a few spots below No. 1, where he started the season for me.

3. Onyeka Okongwu (USC, C, Freshman)

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    Kyusung Gong/Associated Press

    Onyeka Okongwu doesn't possess James Wiseman's size and length, but he's laterally quicker with plenty of athleticism and more half-court skills for scoring and passing.

    Everyone buys his floor as a finisher and rim protector. The debate is about his upside as a 6'9", non-shooting center.

    But I'm too high on Okongwu's footwork for shot-creation and touch inside the arc. He should be more than just a dunker with his ability to shake in the post and soft touch with both hands.

    He'll also anchor the paint defensively while maintaining switchability and recovery speed in pick-and-roll coverage. He's a can't-lose option with the potential to impact games at both ends.

2. Killian Hayes (Ratiopharm Ulm, PG, 2001)

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    There is plenty of interest in Killian Hayes in the Nos. 4-12 range. He's in the top three for me, mostly because of how well-rounded he's become, his improvement since last year and how well he checks out analytically.

    At 6'5", he's an excellent passer and efficient scorer who uses pull-ups, floaters and finishes. And he's made a notable jump as a shot-creator around the perimeter. He took a step as a shot-maker as well, doubling his three-point makes from the previous season, though three-point shooting is still the weaknesses that's causing hesitation from scouts.

    At this point, his jump shot is the only major question mark, as Hayes even looked like he could add value to a team defense.

    Hayes reminds me of Goran Dragic, who also entered the NBA as a limited threat from deep.

1. LaMelo Ball (Illawarra Hawks, PG, 2001)

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    Rick Rycroft/Associated Press

    LaMelo Ball has stuck at No. 1 on our board since November. The big question is whether he deserves to be No. 1 for the Minnesota Timberwolves, a team with which he doesn't cleanly fit.

    In a vacuum, he is my top prospect because of his positional size (6'7" point guard) and unteachable passing instincts and skill, a combination that appears guaranteed to translate to high-level playmaking and assists. But I also have confidence that Ball will develop into a scorer despite his underwhelming percentages in Australia.

    He should be able to continue creating, and though it may take time for the execution to click, he will enter the league equipped with tough shot-making ability, range, floater touch and the coordination to convert speciality finishes.

    Personally, I'd still take Ball at No. 1, but it may mean having to tweak the Wolves roster after the draft.