2020 NBA Draft: Live Grades for Every Pick
The 2020 NBA draft was unforgettable for myriad reasons: the virtual format, the flurry of trades, the uncertainty that lingered up until the No. 1 pick was officially in the books.
When hoops historians look back on it, though, they’ll only remember the 60 players who gained entry to the Association. While the benefit of hindsight will paint the clearest picture of this class’ strengths and weaknesses, who wants to wait that long to know how their team did?
Not us. So, we’ve examined all 60 picks—from Anthony Edwards at the top through Sam Merrill in the No. 60 slot—and assigned each a letter grade encompassing value, talent, team fit and potential.
Throughout this piece, we'll turn to B/R's own Jonathan Wasserman for his pro comparisons and scouting on the prospect.
No. 1 Pick: Anthony Edwards, Minnesota Timberwolves
And Anthony Edwards it is as the Minnesota Timberwolves open the evening with a relatively predictable pick for such an unpredictable class.
He’s the cleanest on-court fit with Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell, so if Minnesota valued the draft’s top prospects in roughly the same tier, that could’ve been the deciding factor.
The stat sheet speaks to Edwards' wide range of possible outcomes, which has brought forth comparisons to anyone from Dwyane Wade and Victor Oladipo on the high end to Dion Waiters and Andrew Wiggins on the not-so-flattering side. Wasserman landed in the middle with Zach LaVine.
It shouldn't be overlooked that Edwards popped for 19.1 points per night as an 18-year-old freshman while showing advanced shot-making and shot-creating maneuvers. But it also can't be dismissed that he did so while posting a 40.2/29.4/77.2 slash line, or that his production didn't translate to team success (Georgia went just 16-16 en route to a 13th-place finish in the SEC).
He has an NBA body (6'5", 225 lbs) and NBA athleticism, and if he puts those things together to become a steady scorer, secondary playmaker and versatile defender, this pick will be a home run. But if he's only good for hollow, inefficient points and doesn't move the needle in other areas, this might go down as an infield single.
If Ryan Saunders and Co. can coach up Edwards the right way, this could be a great pick. But there are more uncertainties than you’d like at the top.
No. 2 Pick: James Wiseman, Golden State Warriors
The Golden State Warriors injected their frontcourt with length and athleticism by plugging James Wiseman in the middle and trusting him to anchor their interior for the foreseeable future.
His skill set has a lot of rough edges, but Golden State could best position him for success. He should have a specific, defined role that maximizes his absurd physical tools.
The eye test does plenty of the heavy lifting in assessing Wiseman. He's 7'1" with bounce and a sweeping 7'6" wingspan, plus he looks like he could handle more muscle on his already-chiseled 240-pound frame.
Short-term, he's an instant-impact rim-runner who should crush dunks, gobble up rebounds and humble opposing attackers with momentum-shifting blocks. If he stays in that lane—and, more importantly, completely commits to the role—he could be an above-average starter at his position as a rookie.
Long-term, the outlook is murkier. Can he turn his flashes of floor-spacing into a reliable weapon? Will he be nimble enough to handle perimeter switches? Can he be coached up to the point that his instincts and feel turn from liabilities to assets? Is he the next Hassan Whiteside or a three-point-shooting prime DeAndre Jordan?
The Warriors are helping their present here, but the hope is they’ve also significantly brightened their future. Given the unknowns with Klay Thompson’s ominous lower-leg injury, that future could be far more important than anyone anticipated.
No. 3 Pick: LaMelo Ball, Charlotte Hornets
No prospect offers more upside than LaMelo Ball, so to get him at No. 3 is already a great start. And considering the state of the post-Kemba Walker Charlotte Hornets, they were right to be singularly focused on potential stardom.
For all the rare birds spotted in modern basketball, there aren't many 6'7" floor generals floating around. That's a big part of the appeal with Ball, who should step into this league as a top-10 passer, though his assist totals could be a bit muted by Charlotte’s lack of firepower.
His question marks come in...well, every non-passing part of the game. He has the handles to ditch defenders off the bounce but lacks the explosion to finish over the tall trees around the rim. He can shoot from everywhere, but he shouldn't try to as often as he does. His length should lend itself to defensive versatility, but it won't unless he can motor up at that end.
He's the biggest boom-or-bust prospect in this draft. That speaks to both his high-end upside—Wasserman compared Ball to Penny Hardaway—but also his many possible pitfalls.
The Hornets should have an identity with Ball, and even if all the pieces don’t fit it—is this roster big enough for Ball, Devonte’ Graham and Terry Rozier?—they can worry about cohesion later. Grabbing the top talent now was the right move.
No. 4 Pick: Patrick Williams, Chicago Bulls
The Chicago Bulls are swinging for the fences with the first pick made by the new front office regime headed by Arturas Karnisovas. Florida State’s Patrick Williams is the pick, completing a surge that rocketed him up mock drafts the past few weeks.
Williams is both the draft's youngest NCAA prospect and one who earns high marks for feel and instincts. That's an enticing combination, but his size-strength-ceiling combo is even more appealing.
His already-sturdy 6'8", 225-pound frame looks like it could handle more muscle, which is huge if he handles some small-ball big-man duties in the future. He's already connecting the dots offensively with above-the-rim finishing, off-the-dribble shooting and on-the-move diming, and that's with his skill set lacking several layers of polish.
He needs substantial development—he averaged just 9.2 points and 4.0 rebounds in his lone season at Florida State—but if he aces the maturation process, he'll bring all the versatility teams want from a modern forward.
All due respect to Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen, Coby White and Wendell Carter Jr., but not one of them has cemented himself as an organizational centerpiece. There’s no guarantee Williams will scratch that itch, but he gives the Bulls another scratch-off ticket who could yield a big prize while also addressing a need for depth at forward.
No. 5 Pick: Isaac Okoro, Cleveland Cavaliers
The Cleveland Cavaliers are getting defensive, which is probably the smart play after investing consecutive top-10 picks in Collin Sexton and Darius Garland. Auburn’s Isaac Okoro has tier-one stopper potential and intriguing offensive upside, albeit with major question marks about his jumper.
Okoro could quickly become a favorite of head coach J.B. Bickerstaff because he thrives in the subtleties that help teams win games. He not only times his rotations perfectly, but he also has an instinctual feel for when to break the chain to pounce on a lazy pass or erase a shot at the rim. He's creative and unselfish with the basketball, and when he has a head of steam, he can put defenders on a poster.
He's probably the best defender in this draft, and he makes his presence felt on and off the basketball. He can switch 1 through 4 right now, and he's strong enough to at least make small-ball bigs work on a switch.
"He's built to guard the opposing team's top scoring guard, wing or forward," Wasserman observed.
But Okoro's shot is rough (28.6 percent from three, 67.2 percent at the line), and it may never come around. If it does, he could follow Jimmy Butler's path to stardom. If it doesn't, he could function like a Justise Winslow reboot.
The Cavs finished 20th or worse in three-point makes and percentage in 2019-20, so they might have trouble covering Okoro’s biggest weakness. But his greatest strength addresses their clearest need since no team was worse defensively last season.
No. 6 Pick: Onyeka Okongwu, Atlanta Hawks
Remember wondering about whether the Atlanta Hawks could successfully balance both John Collins and Clint Capela in the frontcourt? Well, they just threw another big man into the mix with USC’s Onyeka Okongwu.
But if their board said he was the best prospect available, they were right to trust it. This could either set up a future transaction or perhaps set the foundation for a three-headed monster at the 4 and 5 spots.
While big bruisers might give Okongwu trouble, he won't face many of those in the modern NBA. Instead, he'll more often be tasked with switching out onto smaller, shiftier perimeter players, and that's where his mobility and hustle will shine.
His upside ranks somewhere in the Bam Adebayo realm, though it's not a perfect comparison. Okongwu doesn't have the same explosive athleticism or offer as much playmaking at the offensive end. Wasserman used Derrick Favors as the USC product's comparison, which provides a more realistic view of his ceiling.
Saying that, Okongwu can fit in the same finishing, rim-protecting, defensive-switching bucket. He'll need to expand his offensive niche, though, especially if he can't get much mileage out of his polished post game against bigger, longer defenders.
In a vacuum, Okongwu is a good value at this spot. The questionable roster fit, though, knocks the grade down a peg.
No. 7 Pick: Killian Hayes, Detroit Pistons
The Detroit Pistons found their floor general in Killian Hayes. He needs some developmental work, but the Pistons should have nothing but patience as they veer deeper into their rebuild.
Hayes is an off-the-bounce playmaker who can process NBA-level reads out of pick-and-rolls right now. While he's limited in burst and explosion, his footwork and handles help him keep defenders off-balance, though the deception only goes so far when he's extremely left-hand dominant.
His shooting is one of the biggest swing skills in this draft. If he's a threat from distance, that will unlock all the other layers in his game. If not, he'll spoil Detroit’s spacing.
He could eventually rank as an above-average lead guard, but he might need a little time before he can capably handle a major role.
Assuming the Pistons carry Blake Griffin into next season, they should have a highlight-friendly pick-and-roll tandem. But for Hayes to become what analysts think he could be—as Wasserman put it, possibly “the draft's most complete, well-rounded guard by the time he's peaked”—Detroit will need to upgrade the talent around him dramatically.
No. 8 Pick: Obi Toppin, New York Knicks
The New York Knicks might have their new offensive focal point after Obi Toppin fell in their lap at No. 8. The reigning Player of the Year in men’s college basketball will carry a polished offensive arsenal to the Big Apple and take some heat off last year’s No. 3 pick, RJ Barrett.
Toppin's offensive game is easy on the eyes and punishing to all rims in his vicinity. His aerial attacks are equal parts graceful and ferocious, and his growth as a shooter—32 triples in 31 games at a 39.0 percent clip—hints at possible focal-point potential.
He might need major numbers to keep his head above water, though, because he's covered in question marks at the defensive end. He can be a nightmare in pick-and-roll coverage, lacking both the mobility to keep in front of perimeter players and the strength to handle overpowered players in the post.
He's already 22 years old, which could cap his ceiling sooner than later, but his experience might also afford him a quicker transition than most. That seemingly may not matter much to a New York team with no legitimate hope of playoff contention in 2020-21, but given the need for a culture change, Toppin should be a quick hit with a success-starved fanbase.
"Obi Toppin is the draft's most popular prospect among NBA teams," Wasserman wrote. "They all love him, even if he isn't No. 1 on boards."
While Toppin’s future might be at the 5 in the modern NBA, the Knicks seemingly trust his ability to handle the 4. And with shot-blocking machine Mitchell Robinson ready to cover up some of his inevitable defensive mistakes, it might be a worthwhile wager.
No. 9 Pick: Deni Avdija, Washington Wizards
Safety isn’t always the most flattering selling point for lottery prospects. But for a Washington Wizards team hoping to compete with John Wall back alongside Bradley Beal, it surely helped steer them in Deni Avdija’s direction.
“Scouts see him as one of the draft’s safest picks based on his mature body, well-rounded skill set, pro’s mentality and track record of success in every setting,” Wasserman wrote.
Avdija makes the short list of this draft’s most intriguing plug-and-play prospects, though it’s worth wondering if his skills can be maximized in D.C. He’s a 6’9” playmaker with a questionable jumper, which isn’t exactly the ideal build for a wing running alongside Wall.
Avdija’s size-plus-passing combo stands out in a well-rounded skill set that also includes grab-and-go transition attacking, ambidextrous finishing and right-place-at-the-right-time defending. He can handle secondary distributing duties with a starting lineup or serve as the primary hub for a bench brigade.
His shooting lacks polish, though, and as deep as his toolbox appears, it may not hold a standout skill in it. But the lack of an elite ability was a bigger worry when he was in the discussion as a possible top-five pick. At No. 9, there’s plenty to like about his game—even if it may not perfectly align with Washington’s needs.
No. 10 Pick: Jalen Smith, Phoenix Suns
The Phoenix Suns delivered 2019’s first major surprise by taking Cameron Johnson 11th overall. They’re again turning heads by making Jalen Smith the No. 10 pick in 2020.
In terms of prospect value, it isn’t quite the reach that the Johnson pick seemed to be back then (though to general manager James Jones’ credit, that one worked out far better than expected). But with Deandre Ayton already holding down the interior, it’s hard to find a great fit for Smith.
Before this positionless league created unicorns of all sizes and play styles, the label used to be attached to shot-blockers who could bury triples. Smith, then, might qualify as a throwback unicorn.
In 2019-20, the 6'10" big man buried threes at a 36.8 percent rate and averaged 2.4 blocks per game. He's almost a jumbo-sized three-and-D player, though he lacks the defensive versatility that label typically implies.
Wasserman likened Smith to Myles Turner, who hasn't reached stardom but has checked the boxes of a rim-protecting stretch 5.
Getting a Myles Turner-type at No. 10 in this draft seems like a good thing. But if Smith is confined to a backup role, count this as the latest puzzler for Phoenix, especially with some cleaner fits—think Tyrese Haliburton and Devin Vassell—still on the board.
No. 11 Pick: Devin Vassell, San Antonio Spurs
The bubble highlighted just how bright the future is for the San Antonio Spurs, and the selection of Devin Vassell brings more sunny forecasts to Alamo City.
Vassell is the consummate three-and-D prospect. He combines good size (6'6") and length (6'9" wingspan) with a steady three-point stroke (41.7 percent across two seasons at Florida State) and tremendous defensive motor.
He's an elite team defender who's almost never caught out of position. He consistently runs through the tape on defense, emptying the fuel tank each possession and never quitting on the play.
His upside is less certain on offense. He's just starting to tap into his pull-up game, so that may never be in his NBA arsenal. And while he was active from the outside with the Seminoles, he never fired at high volume (career 2.7 three-point attempts per game).
San Antonio’s long-term nucleus doesn’t have a ton of shooting in it, so Vassell’s perimeter game needs to translate. But if head coach Gregg Popovich is confident it will, who are we to question the assessment?
No. 12 Pick: Tyrese Haliburton, Sacramento Kings
The Sacramento Kings stopped Tyrese Haliburton’s slide at No. 12, and if they had to physically deliver this selection, they would’ve been laughing all the way to the podium. Haliburton isn’t only an excellent value in this slot; he looks like a dream backcourt mate for De’Aaron Fox.
Haliburton won't measure up to the casual fan's definition of a star. He doesn't have the burst or yo-yo handle to break down defenders consistently, which will keep his scoring column in check. His funky shooting form may never be weaponized off the bounce, and while he can handle a lot of different defensive assignments, he may not have the athleticism to ace them.
But if you shift the star conversation away from individual contributions and over to team impact, that's where the 6'5" guard shines brightest. He simplifies the game for his teammates, and he'll rarely (if ever) fail to spot a teammate streaking down court, spotting up in the corner or cutting behind a sleepy defender.
"His impact will be felt rather than seen in box scores," Wasserman wrote.
If his shooting translates—his odd release still yielded a 42.6 percent success rate from distance across two college campaigns—he could be lining up alongside Fox on opening night for many years to come.
No. 13 Pick: Kira Lewis Jr., New Orleans Pelicans
The New Orleans Pelicans motored at last season’s fourth-highest pace. They still added some extra pep in their step with Kira Lewis Jr.
An end-to-end burner, he’s a blur in the open court who's starting to see the game slow down in half-court settings. His footwork is coming along, and it doesn't have to be spotlessly clean when he's playing at a speed most NBA players will struggle to reach.
Letting him zip through the open court with Zion Williamson on one side and (presumably) Brandon Ingram—he’s a restricted free agent New Orleans would be foolish not to keep—on the other doesn’t seem fair.
Lewis is a three-level scorer, but his 165-pound frame needs more bulk for him to finish over bigger defenders consistently. His explosion in the speed department unfortunately doesn't carry over to vertical pop, so he won't be of much use to the poster-printing industry.
He does offer unique polish for a 19-year-old, as well as unique potential for a college sophomore. He reclassified to reach the Alabama Crimson Tide a year early, so he's actually younger than some of the freshmen in this draft (and almost a full year younger than UNC freshman Cole Anthony).
Lewis wasn’t the surest shooter on the board (36.2 percent from three at Alabama), and one could argue that’s what New Orleans needs more than anything around Williamson. But he isn’t a liability from that range either, so he shouldn’t create any congestion.
No. 14 Pick: Aaron Nesmith, Boston Celtics
The Boston Celtics have their stars set, so if anyone could justify spending a lottery selection on a specialist, it was them. They did just that by grabbing marksman Aaron Nesmith with the 14th pick.
Some players can shoot. Nesmith is a professional shooter. He's always ready and willing to fire, and before a foot injury knocked him out after just 14 games of the 2019-20 season, he was hitting an absurd 52.2 percent from range on 8.2 attempts per night.
The question is where he can make an impact beyond shooting. He can straight-line drive around aggressive closeouts and won't get torched defensively, but Boston should depend on him for spacing and consider any other on-court contributions an added bonus.
The Celtics were top-heavy last season, and they looked gassed at times in the postseason. Nesmith will lengthen their rotation, though he may not carve out the biggest role without providing more than a perimeter stroke.
No. 15 Pick: Cole Anthony, Orlando Magic
The Orlando Magic are perpetually hunting for points, and they may have just stumbled on a boatload of them with Cole Anthony. After an uneven season at North Carolina, though, he’ll have plenty to prove as he heads to Disney’s backyard.
When recruiting experts analyzed the 2019 high school class, they viewed Anthony as the No. 2 player in it, per ESPN. The fact he fell out of the lottery says a lot about what happened—or what didn't—during his one-and-done run with the Tar Heels.
He shot just 38.0 percent from the field and averaged nearly as many turnovers (3.5) as assists (4.0). He also holds the dubious distinction of piloting the first losing team Roy Williams has coached.
That said, his scoring instincts are legit (18.5 points per game), his shooting-plus-athleticism combo can make scouts drool, and some of his rough playmaking patches might be attributed to a lack of help with the Tar Heels.
“Anthony could now be the draft's most undervalued prospect," Wasserman opined. "Scoring point guards are in, and Anthony can create and shot-make with the best in the class."
A backcourt of Anthony and Markelle Fultz could allow one guard to cover the other’s weaknesses. They should be good for some open-court magic, especially if Aaron Gordon sticks around and even more so when a healthy Jonathan Isaac rejoins the fold.
No. 16 Pick: Isaiah Stewart, Detroit Pistons (via Trail Blazers)
Did the Detroit Pistons forget about Christian Wood’s surge to the finish line? Is this a sign that they aren’t interested in meeting his price in free agency? Something fishy is going on here as they just reached to take Isaiah Stewart—about a half-round higher than most mocks expected him to go.
Stewart has some game. He can play bigger than his 6'9" size thanks to his nearly 7'5" wingspan and willingness to throw his 250-pound frame around. He's all motor and muscles in the middle, and he can bully opponents with back-to-the-basket buckets, boards and blocks.
But his throwback game is a funky fit in the modern NBA, and that might be putting it kindly. His shooting looks promising; his ability to defend in space does not. He also lacks great explosion, which could limit his point-blank finishing.
Stewart looked like a change-of-pace (change-of-era?) reserve big. This is a massive reach if that’s the role expected for him, and it’s just as head-scratching if Detroit thinks it can squeeze more mileage out of him.
No. 17 Pick: Aleksej Pokusevski, Oklahoma City Thunder (via Timberwolves)
The Oklahoma City Thunder, after trading Ricky Rubio and the Nos. 25 and 28 picks to the Minnesota Timberwolves, per Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic, just took a home-run swing with the selection of Aleksej Pokusevski.
Given how far into the future this pick-collecting franchise is thinking, it’s an excellent risk to take. For better or worse, Pokusevski is the most interesting prospect in this class. That feels objectively true even while acknowledging it's an entirely subjective take.
But how often has this size-skill combo come around? He's a 7-footer who can snare rebounds and go end-to-end for pull-up threes, delicious dimes and nifty finishes. He plays like a wing on offense, but he can also wreak havoc as a weak-side shot-blocker.
Saying all that, the draft's youngest prospect has very little experience, and most of it has come in Greece's second division, which isn't exactly NBA-caliber competition. His thin frame got pushed around in that league, too, so there's no telling how (or when) he'll be up to the Association's physical challenges.
He might be the likeliest non-top-10 pick to make an All-Star Game and the likeliest first-rounder to be the first left out of the league.
The Thunder have little to lose if this pick goes south—they have approximately a zillion more selections in upcoming drafts to get it right—and so much to gain if it pans out. There’s too much bust potential to say OKC aced it, but general manager Sam Presti came pretty close.
No. 18 Pick: Josh Green, Dallas Mavericks
The Dallas Mavericks are built to compete right now, but their best basketball could be further down the road since their best players are 21-year-old Luka Doncic and 25-year-old Kristaps Porzingis. Using the 18th pick on Josh Green is a smart way to balance both timelines.
He’s a ready-made perimeter stopper with room to grow offensively. If there’s more to his game than he was able to show at Arizona, where he teamed with fellow draft prospects Zeke Nnaji and Nico Mannion, then Mavs fans will love this pick.
If Green can put a consistent three-ball in his bag (1.0 threes per game on 36.1 percent shooting), he would offer substantial three-and-D upside and have the bounce to go viral any time he has a head of steam going to the basket.
"His explosiveness should translate to exciting transition plays and drives through lanes," Wasserman wrote. "But he's also oozing with defensive potential fueled by lateral quickness, fundamentals and a live motor."
Green has good instincts, and he seems comfortable and competent as a spot-up shooter. His athleticism should shine even brighter at this level in a better-spaced, more up-and-down game, but he needs some work with his handle and passing.
Green will add defense to the NBA’s best offensive team, and he could spawn viral fires on the receiving end of Doncic’s dimes.
No. 19 Pick: Saddiq Bey, Detroit Pistons (via Nets)
The Detroit Pistons brokered a three-team trade to collect their third pick of the evening. They picked up the 19th pick by sending Luke Kennard to the Los Angeles Clippers, who routed Landry Shamet to the Brooklyn Nets, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
Detroit quickly nabbed a three-and-D swingman with Villanova’s Saddiq Bey.
Bey makes the short list of this draft's top snipers, and there's every reason to believe his shot will translate to the NBA level. The eye test sees a quick, reliable and simple stroke. The stat sheet bears that out as he converted 45.1 percent of his triples while firing up 5.6 per night as a sophomore.
There's very little suggesting star potential in his profile, due in no small part to a clear lack of explosive athleticism. But he checks multiple role-playing boxes as a spot-up marksman who stays in his lane, can move the basketball and offers versatility at the defensive end.
After seemingly bungling the 16th selection with Stewart, the Pistons did right with this pick.
No. 20 Pick: Precious Achiuwa, Miami Heat
The Miami Heat just made another investment in their #culture. Precious Achiuwa might ace Miami’s conditioning test right now, and his energy fits in head coach Erik Spoelstra’s system of constant movement.
Achiuwa will never lose a possession for lack of effort, and his high motor is maximized by elite physical tools. He's 6'9" with a wingspan just shy of 7’1”, and he's quicker moving side-to-side than should be allowed for a player his size.
He doesn't offer much more than natural gifts right now, but they're sharp enough for him to handle rim-running duties with some switchability on defense. Offensively, he has produced intriguing flashes of shot-making and face-up scoring, but he needs to fast-forward his reads (1.0 assists against 2.8 turnovers per game).
Miami needed more size behind Bam Adebayo, and Achiuwa helps scratch that itch. But is there enough shooting for them to share the floor? Then again, that might not be the aim since the Eastern Conference champs could’ve viewed this as a depth pick all along.
No. 21 Pick: Tyrese Maxey, Philadelphia 76ers
The Philadelphia 76ers need to maximize their spacing around Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. They should’ve taken a step toward that with the selection of Tyrese Maxey even if the stat sheet disagrees about that.
Maxey looks the part of a spacer—or at least a better shooter than his 29.2 three-point percentage would lead you to believe. His form is compact and repeatable, and it surfaced in both deep threes and at the foul line (83.3 percent), the latter of which often points to long-term potential.
He's a tough-shot-maker, in part because he doesn't have the burst or dizzying dribble moves to shake defenders out of their shorts. He's built like a combo guard (6'3", 198 lbs), but his passing must perk up to play that role.
Defensively, he's a coach's dream. He'll never get outworked at that end, and he uses his length (6'6" wingspan) and instincts to keep players in front of him.
Wasserman likened Maxey to former Sixer and super-sub extraordinaire Lou Williams. If the incoming rookie can provide that level of shot-making, Philly will have aced this selection.
No. 22 Pick: Zeke Nnaji, Denver Nuggets
The Denver Nuggets needed to find frontcourt reinforcements with Jerami Grant, Paul Millsap and Mason Plumlee all headed to free agency. They found one in Arizona’s Zeke Nnaji.
He seems simple enough to plug into a rotation as a high-energy, athletic big who can motor his way onto the scoreboard with interior finishes and putbacks. But he could offer more offensive potential with time.
"Scouts believe he has more shooting potential to unlock, and they've raved about his humble demeanor and effort, intangibles that point to a positive locker room presence and a player who'll maximize his potential," Wasserman wrote.
If Nnaji can expand his shooting range, that should lessen some of the concerns he has at the defensive end.
Is an offense-first forward the perfect complement to Nikola Jokic? In a word: no. Nnaji at least looks rotation-ready, though that’s true of many prospects still on the board.
No. 23 Pick: Leandro Bolmaro, Minnesota Timberwolves (via Knicks)
The Minnesota Timberwolves reportedly traded the Nos. 25 and 33 picks to move up for Argentinian swingman Leandro Bolmaro, per Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium.
The longer Bolmaro sticks in the NBA, the more you'll hear jokes about how he'll still be schooling people at some rec center well into his senior years. He's a master of the craft when it comes to handling and distributing, and when that combo is being delivered by a 6'7" wing, that's always an interesting place to start.
He competes defensively—addressing an obvious need for Minnesota—and mostly makes good reads, though he can be prone to gambling. While he also has limited lateral quickness and could have trouble containing elite athletes, he'll hold his own in most matchups.
He must improve as a shooter, though. If he can't develop a reliable deep ball, he'll handcuff the other areas of his offensive game. Still, his passing should get good mileage with scorers like Towns, Russell and Edwards around him.
No. 24 Pick: RJ Hampton, Denver Nuggets (via Pelicans)
RJ Hampton bypassed college basketball to spend a season in the Australian Basketball League. It’s only fitting, then, that his NBA career already features some travel as the Denver Nuggets traded to get this pick from the New Orleans Pelicans, per Charania.
Hampton has the size (6'5") and athleticism to meet the NBA's physical demands, but the question is whether his skills are up to par just yet. The Nuggets might have enough wing depth to wait on him, though, and his explosiveness should make him an expert receiver on deep outlet passes from Nikola Jokic.
Optimists might see an intriguing blank canvass, but doubters will wonder how long the project will take to complete. This might come down to whether Hampton can improve his jumper and overall feel for the game.
"Shooting can be a key swing skill that could elevate Hampton from role player to valued starter and featured scorer," Wasserman wrote.
Hampton is a highlight waiting to happen in transition, but his game needs polish for him to handle half-court challenges. He has potential as a secondary playmaker and versatile defender, but he's inconsistent in both areas.
The Nuggets took the long view with Bol Bol in last year’s draft. They’re looking down the road again with Hampton, though he could crack the rotation faster than Bol.
No. 25 Pick: Immanuel Quickley, New York Knicks (via Thunder)
The New York Knicks snagged the No. 25 pick from the Oklahoma City Thunder, per Charania, and promptly spent it on Kentucky guard Immanuel Quickley.
Crowned the SEC's Player of the Year, Quickley unleashed a three-point cannon as a sophomore at Kentucky, which effectively elevated him into the draft discussion. It also clearly caught New York’s attention as the spacing seemed a little tight between the Barrett-Toppin-Robinson trio.
Because Quickley lacks explosion, it was hard to see his NBA role during his freshman campaign with the Wildcats, in which he averaged just 5.2 points and shot 34.5 percent from distance. But both those numbers skyrocketed in 2019-20, jumping to 16.1 and 42.8, respectively, while highlighting where he can find his fit at the next level.
He's nominally a point guard, but he plays more like an undersized (6'3") scoring guard. His lack of athleticism limits what he can do inside the arc (he shot just 40.9 percent on two-pointers), though it doesn't hurt him as much defensively since his length and effort level have helped him keep pressure on his matchup.
No. 26 Pick: Payton Pritchard, Boston Celtics
The Boston Celtics were shy on second-team scoring last season, and they need a backup lead guard if they don’t plan on reuniting with restricted free agent Brad Wanamaker. Payton Pritchard has a chance to address both issues, though this is a big bet on his limited physical tools not holding him back.
Pritchard isn't the toolsiest prospect by any stretch, and he isn't helped by the fact his 22nd birthday is behind him. But his skill level impresses, and certain aspects of his game already seem NBA-ready.
He's a clever ball-handler who's always looking to push the tempo. He can catch defenders sleeping with pull-up threes, and while he's most effective as a scorer, he won't dominate possessions and keeps his teammates involved.
He competes defensively, but he's not the quickest side-to-side mover, which could leave him exploited in unfavorable matchups. Saying that, he seems destined to fill a reserve role, so he should be able to provide passable defense most nights.
Boston is in the championship chase, and targeting an NBA-ready talent makes sense. But was Pritchard the best instant-impact prospect left? That’s debatable with Desmond Bane, Robert Woodard II, Malachi Flynn and Cassius Winston still available.
No. 27 Pick: Udoka Azubuike, Utah Jazz
The Utah Jazz know better than most that size still matters in this NBA. They wouldn’t be contending for a title without Rudy Gobert, after all.
That must be what drew them to Udoka Azubuike, then, even if this feels too early for his skill level.
Azubuike looks like an offensive lineman who wandered onto a basketball court one day and just never left. He's a mountain of a man at 7'0" and 270 pounds, and he might play even bigger than his size thanks to a hawkish wingspan that stretches just longer than 7'7".
He has soft touch on his hook shot, but his range may not reach outside the restricted area. He shot an abysmal 41.6 percent from the line across four seasons at Kansas, so he'll be a hacking target for opposing teams.
Utah won’t be relying on Azubuike for major minutes, but even squeezing him into a regular rotation role could be tricky.
No. 28 Pick: Jaden McDaniels, Minnesota Timberwolves (via Thunder)
The overhaul of the Minnesota Timberwolves continued as the club landed Jaden McDaniels after acquiring the No. 28 pick from the Oklahoma City Thunder, per Charania.
The idea of what McDaniels could become is wildly intriguing.
He's a 6'9" forward who can run pick-and-rolls, score out of isolations and bury long-range jumpers. He also has the mobility and hops to be a versatile stopper who can switch onto perimeter players and erase shots as a weak-side shot blocker.
But his reality is worlds removed from that upside, and he may never even approach his ceiling. Wasserman offered the cautionary comparison of Mario Hezonja, which means McDaniels might deliver some "Wow!" plays but could cancel them out with brutal decision-making.
No. 29 Pick: Malachi Flynn, Toronto Raptors
Malachi Flynn seemed like the kind of prospect executives often fool themselves into undervaluing. He's 22 years old and limited athletically, which isn't exactly a needle-moving combo in an exercise largely built around long-term projections.
But that overlooks a critical detail: The dude can hoop. The Toronto Raptors recognized as much and gained a player with coats of NBA polish and defensive competitiveness.
"Flynn isn't an exciting athlete, but we've seen too many point guards excel without flashy tools or bounce, and he has the advanced ball skills, deep shooting range, IQ and pesky defense to overcome his physical limitations,” Wasserman wrote.
File this tidbit under “Things That Make You Go Hmmm.” Wasserman likened Flynn to Raptors free-agent guard Fred VanVleet. Make of that what you will.
No. 30 Pick: Desmond Bane, Memphis Grizzlies (via Celtics)
The Memphis Grizzlies traded into the opening round to get NBA-ready wing Desmond Bane with the No. 30 pick they received from the Boston Celtics, per Wojnarowski.
If Bane's 22nd birthday weren't already behind him, he probably never would have made it to this spot. He's a smart, skilled player at both ends who brings a blowtorch behind the arc (249 made threes on 43.3 percent shooting at TCU) but offers more than a specialist would.
He already plays like a role player. He doesn't try to do much but can do a lot. He has functional (but not flashy) handles, a willingness to move the basketball and an uncanny knack for playing right-place-at-the-right-time team defense.
If he were younger and more athletic, he might offer more excitement with a higher ceiling. But the Grizzlies should walk away from this selection confident they just expanded their 2020-21 rotation and added another member of their long-term nucleus.
No. 31 Pick: Tyrell Terry, Dallas Mavericks
Godspeed to opposing defenses.
The Dallas Mavericks spent last season setting a new standard for offensive efficiency. Now, they’ll enter the 2020-21 campaign with perhaps the draft’s sharpest shooter—or at least the most versatile marksman—in Tyrell Terry.
Optimistic reports on Terry might include comparisons to Stephen Curry and Trae Young, and while he isn't that caliber of player, he's followed the same blueprint as an undersized guard (6'1", 160 lbs) with a lethal shooting touch and the ability to lace triples on the move. Wasserman pegged Terry as the next CJ McCollum.
Imagine McCollum running offense with Luka Doncic—and both revolving around 7’3” sniper Kristaps Porzingis. That’s terrifying.
Terry’s off-ball movement makes him seem like a long-lost member of the Curry family, and his scoring touch is elite on all types of shots. He can feast on a diet of pull-up and spot-up triples, and when defenders run him off the arc, he has the soft touch on floaters and runners to finish from close range.
His wiry frame will make him a target at the defensive end, though, and his still-developing handle may limit his ability to run an NBA offense in the near future.
No. 32 Pick: Vernon Carey Jr., Charlotte Hornets
It doesn’t get more modern than a 6’7” floor general, which the Hornets nabbed by taking LaMelo Ball in the No. 3 spot. Unfortunately, it doesn’t get less modern than Vernon Carey Jr., who they took 29 picks later.
The biggest boost to Carey's draft stock would've been a time machine since his back-to-the-basket polish doesn't have nearly the same appeal it would have even 10 years ago. But his interior scoring and work on the offensive glass can still boost a bench unit in the right role.
Wasserman likened Carey to Enes Kanter, which isn't a particularly favorable comparison. It does speak to Carey's interior skill—and he has more shooting promise than Kanter has shown—but also his limitations at the defensive end.
Charlotte came into this draft with long-term question marks at the 5. This selection does not answer them.
No. 33 Pick: Daniel Oturu, Los Angeles Clippers (via Knicks)
The Los Angeles Clippers traded a 2023 second-rounder to the New York Knicks for the No. 33 pick, per ESPN’s Brian Windhorst. L.A. landed Minnesota big man Daniel Oturu as a result.
His production during his second—and final—season with the Gophers was too much to ignore. While there are flaws in his game, it's hard to sneeze at nightly contributions of 20.1 points, 11.3 rebounds and 2.5 blocks, especially when a smattering of three-pointers (19 in 31 games) entered the equation for the 6'10", 240-pound big man.
If he can play, he'll produce as a scorer and glass-cleaner at the very least, which could be helpful if the Clippers need to replace free-agent big man Montrezl Harrell. But the if-he-can-play qualifier is as big as it sounds. Oturu will get hunted at the defensive end, especially in pick-and-rolls.
No. 34 Pick: Theo Maledon, Oklahoma City Thunder (via 76ers)
The Oklahoma City Thunder added a pair of draft assets to take Al Horford off the Philadelphia 76ers’ hands in exchange for Danny Green, per Wojnarowski. This selection was the first they’ll collect; the other is a 2025 first-rounder.
Theo Maledon lacks an obviously elite skill, but his jack-of-all-trades game could work in a bench role. He's not explosive or creative off the bounce, but he is slippery with changes of direction and pace. If he creates space—more often, it's created for him with a ball screen—he's a shooting and distributing threat on the move.
There isn't much in his profile pointing to future stardom, but he might prove a quick study who snags a reserve role sooner than later.
"He's experienced overseas, having earned roles for his poise, ball-screen play and shooting versatility," Wasserman wrote. "Maledon has a chance to be a rotation NBA guard if he can use his skill, changes of speed and IQ to overcome athletic limitations."
No. 35 Pick: Xavier Tillman Sr., Memphis Grizzlies (via Kings)
The Memphis Grizzlies traded the No. 40 pick and a future second-rounder to the Sacramento Kings for No. 35, per Chris Herrington of the Daily Memphian. With this pick, they reunited Jaren Jackson Jr. with his former frontcourt mate at Michigan State, Xavier Tillman Sr.
Tillman is built to handle a complementary role. He's a smart defender who brings toughness, on-time rotations and some versatility to the game's less glamorous end. Offensively, he's a willing passer and smart off-ball mover who can finish around the rim and clean the glass.
His ceiling isn't particularly high, and he may have trouble raising it without improving as a shooter. His form looks decent enough, but he failed to clear 30 percent from three or 70 percent at the line across three seasons at Michigan State.
No. 36 Pick: Tyler Bey, Dallas Mavericks (via 76ers)
The Dallas Mavericks traded Seth Curry to the Philadelphia 76ers for Josh Richardson and the No. 36 pick, per Wojnarowski. They then doubled down on defense-first athletes, following the earlier selection of Josh Green with the uber-athletic Tyler Bey.
Bey has spring-loaded bounce and a seemingly endless supply of energy. When he channels that energy and keeps it on the right side of overaggression, he can be a defensive weapon who contributes all over.
But his offense is raw, and a lot of what he did at Colorado might not have much NBA value. He was an interior player for the Buffaloes, and he'll get pushed out to the perimeter in the pros. He needs to grow much more comfortable as a shooter. He only took 59 three-pointers in 99 games with the Buffs.
No. 37 Pick: Vit Krejci, Oklahoma City Thunder (via Wizards)
The Oklahoma City Thunder, who acquired this pick from the Washington Wizards, per Wojnarowski, have collected enough picks that they might run out of roster room. It makes some sense, then, for them to target a draft-and-stash candidate like 20-year-old Czech guard Vit Krejci.
He lacks polish and wasn’t guaranteed to get drafted, so it could take him a while to come stateside. But if OKC ever sees a return on this investment, it will be getting a 6’8” playmaker with loads of craftiness.
No. 38 Pick: Saben Lee, Detroit Pistons (via Utah Jazz)
The Detroit Pistons picked up this selection and Tony Bradley from the Utah Jazz for future considerations and cash, per Wojnarowski.
Saben Lee is an athletic, attacking guard who keeps opposing defenses on their heels. He averaged double figures all three of his seasons at Vanderbilt and peaked with his 2019-20 contributions of 18.6 points and 4.2 assists per game.
For a college junior, though, you’d hope he had more polish. His decision-making can be loose, and his jumper is far from reliable (career 32.8 percent from deep).
No. 39 Pick: Elijah Hughes, Utah Jazz (via New Orleans Pelicans)
The Utah Jazz plucked this pick away from the New Orleans Pelicans, per Wojnarowski, and wound up with one of the draft’s better isolation scorers in Elijah Hughes.
Syracuse's lack of offensive creativity didn't do any favors to Hughes' shooting percentages (42.7 percent from the field, 34.2 percent from three), but it probably helped grow his game. He created many of his own shots and looks for his teammates, and even if he won't have the same role in the NBA, he can manufacture scoring chances out of thin air.
"Syracuse featured Elijah Hughes all season, and he delivered with some of the best isolation shot-making skills in the draft class," Wasserman wrote.
Syracuse's zone defense didn't help Hughes' evaluations, though. Physically, he looks up to the man-to-man mask, but there isn't enough film to know for sure.
No. 40 Pick: Robert Woodard II, Sacramento Kings (via Grizzlies)
New Sacramento Kings general manager Monte McNair must have brought a fishing net with him because he again snagged another falling prospect. Robert Woodard II had a decent chance to land in the first round, so getting him 10 picks into the second is no small victory.
The NBA jump can overwhelm some players physically, but Woodard won't be one of them. He's 6'7" and 235 pounds with a sweeping 7'2" wingspan and loads of strength.
Wasserman compared Woodard to P.J. Tucker, which says everything you need to know about the prospect's toughness and tenacity.
Woodard should hit stationary three-point shots and handle most defensive assignments at the forward spots. His ability to grow his game beyond those areas will determine whether he's a rotational role player or a starter.
No. 41 Pick: Tre Jones, San Antonio Spurs
This is tricky. Tre Jones had the talent to land in this draft range, and you can almost always rely on the San Antonio Spurs to maximize a player’s potential. But can they just add more shooting at some point?
Anyway, Jones aces the on-court-leader role at the point guard position. He plays hard and smart at both ends, keeping his teammates involved on offense and invading his matchup's air space at the other.
He's not a natural scorer, though, and while he made a big jump as a shooter during his sophomore season, his final tally still put him at only 1.3 three-point makes per game on 36.1 percent shooting. Wasserman likened Jones to former Spur Cory Joseph, who has nine NBA seasons under his belt but none in which he averaged double-digit points or one three-pointer per contest.
No. 42 Pick: Nick Richards, Charlotte Hornets (via Pelicans)
The Charlotte Hornets acquired the No. 42 pick from the New Orleans Pelicans, per Charania, and pulled big man Nick Richards out of Kentucky.
While a roster spot there sometimes feels like a free pass to the NBA, the Wildcats center wasn’t at all a lock to reach this point.
He played three seasons under John Calipari and didn’t average more than 15 minutes until this past one. But he opened plenty of eyes with energy, activity and a slew of personal-best averages, and he might carve out a niche role in Charlotte.
“Nick Richards will be called on to run the floor, dive to the hoop, finish and block shots,” Wasserman wrote. “He put himself in position to get drafted by improving his motor, activity and mid-range touch.”
No. 43 Pick: Jahmi'us Ramsey, Sacramento Kings
The Sacramento Kings did it again, landing another first-round talent with a second-round pick. Could this be a new era in Sacramento? Get excited, Northern California.
If Jahmi’us Ramsey can improve his on-court discipline, he could be the steal of the draft. While coachability can be hard to project from the outside, it's almost always wise to bet on talent, and he has loads of it.
"Ramsey can create for himself and bury tough jumpers from the mid-range and three," Wasserman wrote. "His shooting stroke is sweet, and at 6'4" with a strong frame and athleticism, he has promising defensive tools. Talent and skill aren't problems for Ramsey."
Wasserman likened Ramsey to Kevin Porter Jr., who was the 30th player taken in last year's draft and became its 13th-best rookie scorer.
No. 44 Pick: Marko Simonovic, Chicago Bulls
The Chicago Bulls headed overseas to tap into a fruitful frontcourt ground and find Marko Simonovic, perhaps the latest in a long line of NBA products of his Serbian club.
“Simonovic comes from Mega Bemax, a team that’s produced multiple NBA bigs, including Nikola Jokic, Goga Bitadze and Ivica Zubac,” Wasserman wrote. “At 6’10”, Simonovic is mobile with the versatility to score as a roll man or pick-and-pop shooter.”
No. 45 Pick: Jordan Nwora, Milwaukee Bucks
The Milwaukee Bucks need shooters alongside Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Jordan Nwora has one of the more reliable shots in the draft.
He drilled 178 three-pointers across three seasons at Louisville and converted his long-range looks at a 39.4 percent clip.
“Nwora is one of the draft’s most proven shot-makers, and with 6’7” size, he should be able to continue drilling jumpers in the NBA from either forward spot,” Wasserman wrote. “Despite being limited athletically, he’s terrific in transition, finishing with body control and touch.”
No. 46 Pick: CJ Elleby, Portland Trail Blazers
It was a tale of two seasons for CJ Elleby at Washington State, at least as far as his long-range shooting was concerned.
After hitting a blistering 41.4 percent of his threes as a freshman, his conversion rate sank to 33.9 percent as a sophomore. It was the opposite at the foul line, where he shot 82.3 percent in 2019-20 but a woeful 66.1 percent the season prior.
There are mechanical issues with his jumper that make you think the inconsistency might be around for the long haul. If he can get those ironed out, though, he might find some minutes as a spark-plug scorer.
No. 47 Pick: Yam Madar, Boston Celtics
The Boston Celtics seemed likely to leave this draft with a stash pick since they’re already facing a roster crunch. That could be the case with Yam Madar, a 19-year-old guard out of Israel.
Madar rarely takes his foot off the gas pedal. On offense, he's constantly looking to attack off the dribble (in part because he can't really shoot). On defense, he's routinely beating his matchup to the spot and forcing redirections, ball-pickups or turnovers.
While neither a sniper nor an explosive athlete, he still offers several key ingredients of an instant-impact, high-energy reserve. Wasserman delivered the spot-on comparison of T.J. McConnell.
No. 48 Pick: Nico Mannion, Golden State Warriors
Nico Mannion was considered a lottery candidate at one point, so the Warriors did well to land him here. Of course, that also reflects some of the struggles he encountered at Arizona, but those were baked into the draft price.
When Mannion has room to operate, he brings an aesthetically pleasing mix of shooting, distributing and open-floor finishing. But he doesn't have much burst, so he could have trouble buying himself that space.
He isn't the most consistent from distance (32.7 percent at Arizona), but when he's on, he can shred nets coming off screens or pulling up off the dribble. He's a quick thinker as a passer, and his floater touch looks elite, so if he can find even a sliver of space, he usually knows what to do with it.
No. 49 Pick: Isaiah Joe, Philadelphia 76ers
For the second time in as many picks, the Philadelphia 76ers might have found another floor spacer, this time with Arkansas’ Isaiah Joe.
For a shooting specialist, Joe's conversion rates during his sophomore season at Arkansas might sound alarm sirens for some (36.7 percent from the field, 34.2 percent from outside). Others, though, viewed them like a coupon discounting one of the draft's top snipers.
"A drop in shooting percentages hurt Isaiah Joe's stock, making him one of the best value picks of 2020," Wasserman wrote. "He still buried threes at a ridiculous rate with picturesque mechanics and fluidity."
Joe's offensive bag features every long-range look in the book. He can full-speed sprint around a screen and immediately catch-and-launch, or he can find his own shots by dribbling into step-backs and pull-ups.
The Sixers shouldn’t ask him to do much more offensively than shoot, so it's imperative he increases his strength so as not to become a target at the defensive end.
No. 50 Pick: Skylar Mays, Atlanta Hawks
Skylar Mays seems like a smart flier to take at this juncture of the draft.
His stat sheet really popped in his final go-round at LSU and yielded nightly tallies of 16.7 points, 5.0 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.8 steals. Maybe none of those numbers flashes on its own. But taken collectively, they show a well-rounded set of skills, especially once his efficiency gets added to the mix (49.1/39.4/85.4 slash line).
He’s an average-at-best athlete, and that could prove problematic when it comes to his finishing. But he has a ton of craft, creativity and shot-making in his game, all of which could make him a fit working in relief of (or alongside) Trae Young.
No. 51 Pick: Justinian Jessup, Golden State Warriors
If the Golden State Warriors can return to the title hunt in 2020-21, they can only afford to rely on so many rookies. Justinian Jessup apparently isn’t one of them as Wes Goldberg of the Bay Area News Grouplabeled him a “draft-and-stash guy,” noting he had already signed with The Hawks of the NBL.
Jessup averaged 2.5 threes per game and hit them at a 40.8 percent clip across four seasons at Boise State. He’s an especially potent sniper off the catch, which would have obvious benefits for someone running with Stephen Curry—assuming he eventually gets the chance to do so.
No. 52 Pick: Kenyon Martin Jr., Houston Rockets (via Kings)
The Houston Rockets sent a 2021 second-rounder and cash to reacquire this pick from the Sacramento Kings, per ESPN’s Tim MacMahon. Using it on Kenyon Martin Jr. may eventually pay dividends, though it will be a while.
Son of longtime NBA player (and No. 1 pick of the 2000 NBA draft) Kenyon Martin, Kenyon Martin Jr. heads to the pros after a prep year at IMG Academy.
He’s an explosive athlete who’s shown the ability to stretch the floor as a shooter. He has the makings of a multipositional stopper and may have the ability to log some (super) small-ball-5 minutes if he can bulk up his 6’7”, 215-pound frame.
He’s a long way off, but if Houston blows things up in the near future, this could suddenly be one of the most patient teams in the Association.
No. 53 Pick: Cassius Winston, Washington Wizards (via Thunder)
The Washington Wizards, who acquired this pick from the Oklahoma City Thunder, per Charania, may have found John Wall’s long-term backup. That’s high praise for the No. 53 pick, of course, but Cassius Winston had a realistic shot to go in the opening round.
"Winston had been pegged by scouts as a steal even before the draft when they didn't know where he'd fall," Wasserman noted. "Age and athletic limitations prevented him from going in the lottery, but he's a candidate to outproduce his draft slot like previous older point guards Devonte' Graham, Malcolm Brogdon and Jalen Brunson."
Winston pairs impressive shot-making (on the move or off the catch) with facilitating and on-court leadership. He may never become a regular starter, but he could be a set-it-and-forget-it second-team leader for a decade-plus.
No. 54 Pick: Cassius Stanley, Indiana Pacers
The Indiana Pacers found a new high-flyer with Duke’s Cassius Stanley.
The rook has hops. Not just NBA-level hops, but Wasserman-compared-him-to-Derrick Jones Jr. kinds of ups.
He uses his athleticism well, in part because he expends maximum energy when on the floor. If he gets out in transition or finds a crease in the half court, he's probably headed to the highlight reel.
He's nothing close to a shot-creator, though, and his three-point shooting failed to impress in efficiency (36.0 percent) or volume (1.1 makes per contest). That increases the need for his defensive instincts to mature at a rapid rate. He can't live off highlight finishes alone, so defense needs to be his calling card for him to last a long time at this level.
No. 55 Pick: Jay Scrubb, Los Angeles Clippers (via Nets)
One of the more interesting plotlines to track late in the second round was whether an NBA team would take a chance on Junior College Player of the Year Jay Scrubb. The Los Angeles Clippers acquired this pick from the Brooklyn Nets, as Charania reported, to do just that.
Scrubb is the first JUCO prospect selected since Donta Smith came out of Southeastern Illinois (No. 34 in 2004). Smith’s NBA tenure lasted just 61 games across two seasons with the Atlanta Hawks. Can Scrubb make it further?
Well, it’s worth noting that talent wasn't the reason behind Scrubb's path. He's an NBA-level athlete who flashed advanced shot-making maneuvers and electric open-court finishes across two seasons at John A. Logan.
He could help an NBA roster at some point, but he needs to iron out a lot of fundamental issues first. He didn't bring much beyond scoring to his college squad, but that scoring and his athleticism probably make him a project worth undertaking. For context, Wasserman compared Scrubb to Jordan Clarkson, noting his "NBA body, creation and shot-making skills and plenty of confidence."
No. 56 Pick: Grant Riller, Charlotte Hornets
There was a non-zero chance Grant Riller could land in the first round, provided teams trusted his production at Charleston could translate to the NBA. They apparently weren’t buying it, but maybe their loss will prove the Hornets’ gain.
Admittedly, Riller's stats are almost hard to believe. He just delivered back-to-back seasons of 21.9 points per game and finished his four-year career at Charleston with a 61.6 true shooting percentage. He's an elite ambidextrous finisher at the rim and a fiery three-point shooter who can ignite at any time.
Saying that, playing for the Cougars didn't exactly put him up against the highest-quality competition. Plus, he was prone to bouts of tunnel vision since his teammates weren't on the same level.
If his shooting and finishing translate, he'll be a steal. If they don't, it could be tricky to find the right role for him, though there’s almost nothing to lose at this stage of the draft.
No. 57 Pick: Reggie Perry, Brooklyn Nets (via Clippers)
Reggie Perry has interesting upside if he can improve his feel for the game.
He’s already built to bang on the low block at 6’10” and 250 pounds, and he’ll outmuscle some NBA centers. He was a walking double-double this past season at Mississippi State (17.4 points and 10.1 rebounds per night), though he probably punched his NBA ticket with improved shooting touch and a big spike in assists (0.6 to 2.3)
No. 58 Pick: Paul Reed, Philadelphia 76ers
After addressing spacing with their earlier picks and the trades for Danny Green and Seth Curry, the Philadelphia 76ers sent their athleticism into overdrive with DePaul’s Paul Reed.
Reed plays a loud game when he's engaged. He flies around the floor defensively, using every bit of his 6'9", 220-pound frame to wreak havoc. If that activity creates a transition chance, he can dazzle with above-the-rim flushes or nimble Eurosteps and spin moves.
He gets in trouble when he tries to do too much, and he'll need to curtail that quickly as he encounters more defenders who are on his level (or above it) athletically. It also isn't clear how much, if any, spacing he'll provide. He made 34 threes in 93 collegiate contests, though he did shoot an encouraging 73.9 percent at the free-throw line.
No. 59 Pick: Jalen Harris, Toronto Raptors
Jalen Harris was a bucket during his lone season at Nevada. Considering the low draft cost, the Toronto Raptors would gladly settle for the 6’5” guard just providing occasional buckets north of the border, and he could be up to the challenge.
“He’s the type of player you can feed the ball to and ask to generate offense out of nothing,” Wasserman wrote. “He’ll have a chance to carve out a career for his ability to get his own shot from all over the floor off ball screens and isolations.”
Saying that, there aren’t many role players who just bring isolation offense to the hardwood, so Harris needs to make sure his athleticism can deliver some other on-court contributions, too.
No. 60 Pick: Sam Merrill, Milwaukee Bucks
While technically this draft’s Mr. Irrelevant, Sam Merrill has a decent chance to deliver NBA relevance sooner than later.
He never leaves home without his three-point cannon, which he used to splash 319 threes at a 42.0 percent clip across four seasons at Utah State. If that shot helps him see the floor as a spacer for Giannis Antetokounmpo, the 6’5” Merrill could emerge as a sneaky-good bargain.
“He doesn’t have Duncan Robinson’s size, but his shooting precision and basketball IQ are suited for a similar specialist role,” Wasserman wrote.