B/R Draft Expert's Final 2020 Big Board: Ranking the Top 50 Prospects
It's been eight months since the last college basketball game, and our NBA draft big board is locked in before Wednesday's event.
Will the extra time work for or against evaluators? On one hand, more time means additional chances to rewatch film and gather intel. But it also leaves scouts vulnerable to overthinking.
With the pandemic, it will be more fascinating than usual to look back in five years and find out how we and NBA did with the rankings.
50. Jalen Harris (Nevada, SG, Junior)
An advanced creator and isolation scorer, Harris also registered the highest standing vertical (37½ inches) over the past four NBA combines.
49. Nate Hinton (Houston, SG/SF, Sophomore)
Hinton's 8.7 rebounds per game for a 6'5" guard highlight his instincts and motor, but he also shot 38.7 percent from deep to create intriguing three-and-D potential.
48. Isaiah Stewart (Washington, C, Freshman)
Stewart could go at the end of the first round to a team that values his ability to set a tone with toughness and motor around the basket. Whether he offers any offensive value will come down to his ability to add a jump shot.
47. Mason Jones (Arkansas, SG, Junior)
The SEC's leading scorer in 2019-20, Jones offers an aggressive mix of transition offense, isolation shot-making and three-point shooting.
46. Elijah Hughes (Syracuse, SF, Junior)
At 6'6", 215 pounds, Hughes has an NBA body and shot-making pop. His decision-making isn't always sharp, but a team could draft Hughes for instant offense off the bench.
45. Cassius Winston (Michigan State, PG, Senior)
Though it's tough to be too high on Winston, who registered a 28-inch max vertical and the slowest sprint time at the NBA combine (3.61 seconds), his shooting and passing skills and intangibles should give him a chance at a backup spot.
44. Killian Tillie (Gonzaga, PF/C, Senior)
As long as the medical reports don't reveal any troubling news after he missed 38 college games in four years because of various injuries, Tillie could be a valuable frontcourt piece for his reliable shooting, passing IQ and post skills.
43. Yam Madar (Hapoel Tel Aviv, PG, 2000)
Madar, who's playing in the Israeli Premier League, kept his name in the draft and could be stashed by a team who values his speed, penetration and pressure defense.
42. Robert Woodard II (Mississippi State, SF/PF, Sophomore)
The idea of Woodard remains appealing: a 235-pound forward who shot 42.9 percent from three last season and guarded SEC wings and bigs. The accurate shooting needs to carry over for him to hold enough value offensively.
41. Tyler Bey (Colorado, PF, Junior)
Bey could carve out a defensive-specialist role with his quickness, athleticism, instincts and technique. The question is whether he offers enough offensively to justify regular minutes, but he might have untapped shooting potential.
40. Immanuel Quickley (Kentucky, SG, Sophomore)
The right role could jump-start Quickley's career if he's given an opportunity to work as a catch-and-shoot specialist.
39. Udoka Azubuike (Kansas, C, Senior)
A 7'7" wingspan and 41-inch max vertical create elite finishing and shot-blocking potential for Azubuike.
38. Ty-Shon Alexander (Creighton, PG/SG, Junior)
Alexander has seemingly flown under the radar, and a team in the second round could pick up a three-and-D guard with pick-and-roll ball-handling skills.
37. Tre Jones (Duke, PG, Sophomore)
Improved scoring didn't boost Jones' draft stock, but his passing and defense remain attractive for a reserve, and it seems possible he can continue making strides as a shooter.
36. Leandro Bolmaro (Barcelona, SF, 2000)
A team in the 20s could look at Bolmaro as a stash play, given his favorable situation with Barcelona (playing in competitive leagues Spanish ACB and EuroLeague) and need to improve as a shooter. Adding a consistent jumper to his playmaking skills and defensive energy could turn Bolmaro into a versatile, useful two-way wing.
35. Theo Maledon (ASVEL, PG, 2001)
With rare experience for a teenager, having played regular minutes in France's top league at 17 and EuroLeague at 18, Maledon is drawing first-round looks with poise and skill over athleticism.
34. Xavier Tillman Sr. (Michigan State, PF/C, Junior)
Tillman's defensive IQ could be strong enough to earn him immediate NBA minutes. He doesn't offer any scoring, but as a reserve, he'll add value by efficiently finishing, passing, hustling for boards, guarding the post and defending pick-and-rolls.
33. Devon Dotson (Kansas, PG, Sophomore)
It wasn't surprising to see Dotson register the fastest sprint time at the NBA combine (3.02 seconds). He'll use that speed to carve out a role as a change-of-pace bench spark.
32. Jordan Nwora (Louisville, SF/PF, Junior)
As a 6'7" forward, Nwora put up consecutive seasons of 75-plus made threes, which should have teams' attention. He possesses advanced shot-making skills and enough size to get his shot off, despite a low release point.
31. Payton Pritchard (Oregon, PG/SG, Senior)
It took all four years to generate NBA interest, but Pritchard suddenly has fans in front offices willing to overlook his physical limitations for his ability to create, make shots and pass.
30. Aaron Nesmith (Vanderbilt, SF, Sophomore)
Nesmith attracted NBA teams with scorching shooting through 14 games before a foot injury cut his season short. I'm not sure what else translates, but shooting won't ever go out of style.
29. Isaiah Joe (Arkansas, SG, Sophomore)
Joe was on pace for another season of 100-plus made threes before a knee injury and the pandemic derailed things. And though he's labeled a shooting specialist, he does have some ball-screen scoring ability in his bag as well.
28. Jaden McDaniels (Washington, SF/PF, Freshman)
Despite an inconsistent freshman season, the 6'9" McDaniels remains attractive for his ability to shoot and create from the power forward spot. Ideally, he sharpens his skills to work as a jumbo wing who benefits from mismatches.
27. Zeke Nnaji (Arizona, PF/C, Freshman)
Nnaji quickly entered the first-round conversation by efficiently producing as a post scorer, finisher and offensive rebounder. Flashes of mid-range touch suggest he can evolve into more of a stretch 4 or 5.
26. Jahmi'us Ramsey (Texas Tech, SG, Freshman)
Concerns over Ramsey's ball-handling and lapses in concentration could make him a value pick. He's a strong athlete and confident scorer with a picturesque jump shot who could be available in the 20s or 30s.
25. Saddiq Bey (Villanova, SF/PF, Sophomore)
Bey is earning looks from lottery teams that are drawn to his shooting and defensive tools. Questions about his creation and lateral quickness have him lower on my board, but shot-making should keep Bey relevant, particularly if he goes to a winning team.
24. Skylar Mays (LSU, SG, Senior)
One of my favorite sleepers, Mays figures to go somewhere in the second round, as teams question his position and bankable skills. They're overthinking. Mays should find ways to generate offense with his craftiness, IQ and versatile skill set for shot-making and passing.
23. Cole Anthony (North Carolina, PG, Freshman)
Anthony's inefficiency makes it tough to picture a lead decision-maker, but his scoring potential remains a draw. He's an advanced creator and shot-maker with the ability to space the floor and shoot off the catch.
22. Precious Achiuwa (Memphis, C, Freshman)
Achiuwa is still mostly tools and athleticism over skill, but he can use his 6'9", 225-pound size, mobility and motor to impact games by rim-running, crashing the glass and providing defensive playmaking/switchability.
21. Jalen Smith (Maryland, PF/C, Sophomore)
The list of NBA bigs who average a three-pointer and block per game is small, and Smith seems like a lock to eventually join it. Even if nothing else translates, there is value tied to bigs who can stretch the floor and protect the rim.
20. Grant Riller (Charleston, PG/SG, Senior)
The NBA sounds hesitant that Riller's Colonial Athletic Association success will carry over, but I'm buying that his creation ability and shot-making will translate to pro scoring.
19. Desmond Bane (TCU, SG, Senior)
Bane has used interviews to sell teams on his character, and his workouts have underlined his consistent shooting numbers. Between his jump shot, improved playmaking, defensive IQ and self-awareness, he comes off as an easy fit and projectable role player.
18. Malachi Flynn (San Diego State, PG, Junior)
Teams seemingly caught on to Flynn later in the year, but I've remained high on his tremendous skill level, pesky defense and analytical profile. Limited athleticism and size (6'1", 185 lbs) shouldn't prevent Flynn from continuing to execute as a pick-and-roll operator and three-point shooter.
17. Tyrell Terry (Stanford, PG/SG, Freshman)
Shooting touch and range are Terry's signature strengths, and at the least, he should carve out a career as a shot-making specialist. But impressive ball skills, passing IQ and finishing ability suggest he has more lead-guard or secondary-option potential.
16. RJ Hampton (New Zealand Breakers, PG/SG, 2001)
Hampton's shot remains a big swing skill, but the video that's surfaced since his return from New Zealand appears encouraging. A more threatening jumper to complement Hampton's explosiveness and secondary playmaking would greatly elevate his offensive projection.
15. Kira Lewis Jr. (Alabama, PG, Sophomore)
Lewis can single-handedly change a team's offensive pace with his transition speed and ability to put pressure on defenses off the dribble. He needs to improve his decision-making, but his skill set is well-rounded, as he offers a balanced mix of playmaking, shot-making and paint scoring.
14. Josh Green (Arizona, SG/SF, Freshman)
Green doesn't project as a creator, but in the right offense, he won't need to be. He'll make a living by flying in transition, slashing past closeouts, using his floater, making spot-up threes and providing tight perimeter defense.
13. Tyrese Haliburton (Iowa State, PG/SG, Sophomore)
Despite his limited speed for a ball-handler, Haliburton has the passing IQ and spot-up shooting to suggest he can fit anywhere, either at the 1 or 2. Ideally, he operates as a secondary playmaker who can move off the ball and space the floor.
12. Aleksej Pokusevski (Olympiacos II, PF, 2001)
Even if the flashes were inconsistent and came in Greece's second division, they were rare and persuasive. Not many 7-footers can shoot off the catch and dribble, handle and pass in transition and block shots like Pokusevski.
11. Patrick Williams (Florida State, SF/PF, Freshman)
Williams is drawing top-seven looks, with the idea that Florida State's ball-sharing offense masked some of his skills. At 6'8", 225 pounds, he flashed a pull-up game, live-dribble passing ability, tough finishing and defensive versatility.
10. Tyrese Maxey (Kentucky, SG, Freshman)
Tyrese Maxey is all over the place on boards, but the one-and-done Kentucky guard is in the top 10 on ours. I'm looking past the poor shooting numbers (.427/.292/.833) and buying his shot-making, floater touch and finishing package.
His playmaking is still a question mark, but he's a clever and smart enough passer to be used as a ball-screen operator.
Between his ball-handling, footwork to create, range, middle game and layup package, scoring will be Maxey's calling card. And teams should feel confident about his defensive projection, given his strength, toughness and discipline.
9. Isaac Okoro (Auburn, SF/PF, Freshman)
Even with valid questions about Isaac Okoro's scoring and shooting skills for a forward, the Auburn product is still a likely top-10 pick.
It's easy to fall in love with his efficient offensive game, defensive toughness and winning plays that don't always make box scores.
Though not a high-level creator, Okoro shot 60.7 percent inside the arc, capitalizing as a driver, cutter and post player. But the biggest draw to Okoro stems from his defensive projection as a player who has the mentality and tools to lock down opposing teams' top scorers or guard anyone from positions 1 through 5.
8. Deni Avdija (Maccabi Tel Aviv, SF/PF, 2001)
A high floor in an uncertain draft helps Deni Avdija, who comes off as a surefire pro and easy fit for most teams.
At 6'8", his versatility is a huge draw. He might not be a consistent go-to scorer, but he checks boxes with the ability to handle in transition, attack and play-make out of pick-and-rolls, and hit spot-up threes.
There also aren't any questions about his desire, motor or competitiveness, which show up on defense, even if he can be vulnerable to getting beat off the dribble.
Though I don't see an NBA All-Star, the right team can unlock high-end, impact role-player potential from the 19-year-old wing's well-rounded skills and intangibles.
7. Devin Vassell (Florida State, SF, Sophomore)
Devin Vassell gradually moved up the board last season with his three-point shooting and defense. The three-and-D label hints at a high-floor player, but I see more upside based on flashes of creation that the Florida State product seems capable of building on.
Early on, he figures to play a supporting role, stretching the floor from the wings and corners while leaving his mark on games with defensive activity. His off-ball reads and rotations at Florida State were equally as impressive as his on-ball contests.
Though he wasn't a volume scorer, an improved pull-up game and enough glimpses of speciality shot-making suggest Vassell can develop into more than just a spot-up threat.
6. James Wiseman (Memphis, C, Freshman)
The NBA seems more confident in James Wiseman's upside than I do. Still, you can't ignore 7'1" size, 7'6" length, bounce and their potential effectiveness around the basket.
With those tools, the freshman out of Memphis figures to be an easy-basket weapon high above the rim as well as a disruptive shot-blocker who can cover plenty of air space.
The upside kicks in for Wiseman if he can turn the flashes of transition ball-handling, post play and shooting into regular occurrences. He does show nice touch in the mid-range, though I'm less optimistic about his creation and passing.
5. Obi Toppin (Dayton, PF/C, Sophomore)
The consensus men's basketball's National Player of the Year, Obi Toppin, also has a game suited for the modern NBA that values bigs who can shoot, pass and finish.
Only his age (22) and defensive question marks keep him outside the top two or three on draft boards. Toppin's offense seems like a good bet to translate based on his explosiveness around the basket, accurate three-ball through two seasons at Dayton (41.7 percent) and skill level inside the arc.
His scoring figures to propel Toppin into the Rookie of the Year mix. And though he did struggle at times while guarding the perimeter and reacting in pick-and-roll coverage, he seems mobile, intelligent and hardworking enough to improve over the next few years.
4. Anthony Edwards (Georgia, SG, Freshman)
Anthony Edwards has been in the No. 1 overall conversation since it started, and the Minnesota Timberwolves are likely seriously considering him in that spot. Questions about his shot selection and inefficient style of play have left me and others hesitant, however.
Still, for an explosive 225-pound guard, Edwards possesses a special mix of physical tools, athleticism and skill. With extreme confidence and the ability to create and make contested shots, he can take over stretches of a game.
The Georgia product also turned 19 in August, which makes it easier to forgive his decision-making and to picture the long-term upside tied to his power and perimeter scoring.
3. Onyeka Okongwu (USC, C, Freshman)
Wiseman sounds like he'll be the first center drafted. He wouldn't be if I were picking and needed a big. Though Onyeka Okongwu can't match Wiseman's measurables, he still checks in around 245 pounds with a sharper offensive game and more defensive versatility.
Aside from the explosive finishing, he surprised during last season at USC with his footwork while creating shots and touch using both hands (94th percentile on post-ups). He made 15 of 35 half-court jump shots and 72.0 percent of his free throws—promising indicators for a potential mid-range jumper.
And between his rim protection, switchability and recovery speed in pick-and-roll coverage, Okongwu's defensive upside is enormous. He's one of the draft's few players who can greatly impact games at both ends.
2. Killian Hayes (Ratiopharm Ulm, PG, 2001)
NBA opinions vary on France's Killian Hayes, but I'm looking past the questions about his athleticism and three-point numbers overseas.
For a 6'5" lead guard, his passing skills are too good to ignore. EuroCup's third-leading assist man from last season (6.2 per game) has a knack for creating open shots for teammates by manipulating defenses with his hesitation and eyes before delivering accurate passes to roll men and shooters.
Despite a lack of explosiveness, he still shot 58.0 percent around the basket, and though his jump shot is worth questioning, he hit 41.0 percent of his pull-ups and 87.6 percent of his free throws while more than doubling his made three-pointers to 30 from 14 in 2018-19.
1. LaMelo Ball (Illawarra Hawks, PG, 2001)
It was roughly one year ago LaMelo Ball was finishing up in the National Basketball League and I moved him to No. 1 on our big board.
He hasn't played since, but nobody else has been convincing enough to label the draft's top prospect.
While questions remain about Ball's shooting consistency and defense, there aren't any about his passing and its chance of translating. As a playmaker, he's Trae Young with 6'7" size, and though he's not as sharp or reliable at scoring, the 19-year-old possesses enough shot-making ability and range, floater touch and crafty finishing to put points on the board.