Big Boards are hard to do. But I watched a decent amount of film this year. I will inevitably regret some of these rankings, but they should prove to be reasonably efficient in time.
Tier 1: Lottery Prizes
- Paolo Banchero
I have written in depth about Paolo and why I believe he is the #1 choice, but the short version is that he has the best creativity and passing. He is 6’10 and while he is not the explosive athlete, he is highly fluid and capable from scoring at all levels of the floor.
He is also an excellent passer and big enough to play PF and possibly work in some lineups as a small center.
There are some concerns about his defense, but size + intelligence is a fairly common intersection that leads to players overachieving defensively. He is not great laterally, but he is decent enough and while he has some risk of being a liability, he also has potential to be solid on that end of the floor.
It’s incredibly rare to see such offensive versatility in such a large player, and this gives Paolo the clearly best upside in the draft.
There is some risk that his shooting and defense are on the mediocre side which make him a slightly awkward fit in some lineups, but Paolo has a good median and good upside and is collectively around an average #1 overall prospect.
2. Jabari Smith Jr.
Jabari Smith is a close second because of his excellent shooting and defensive versatility. This gives him elite role player skills that will enable him to fit in any lineup.
Most 3 + D players are good at one of shooting or defense and merely OK at the other. It is rare to get somebody who is solidly good at both, but that seems to be what Smith is on track for.
He shot 42% 3P on high volume and 79.9% FT as an 18 year old freshman, and for a 6’10 player he excels at moving his feet and containing penetration. His versatility as a man to man defensive player is elite.
He also had more assists than TOVs, indicating a solid intersection of perimeter skill and basketball IQ for his size and age. It is difficult to see how he would not be a welcome addition to any NBA lineup.
The one concern is whether he has the ability to create at a superstar level. He lacks athletic pop and struggles to get to the rim and finish, and most of his two point attempts came from midrange, resulting in a 43.5% 2P.
On one hand, he has excellent height and shooting at 6’10, and with competent ball handling he should at least be able to shoot over most defensive players. He only turned 19 in May, so he has plenty of time to develop some creation package.
But he does not have nearly the length or athleticism of Kevin Durant, so it seems optimistic to expect him to create at anywhere close to KD’s volume or efficiency. Rashard Lewis may be a more realistic comp for his creativity, as he seems more like a #2 option. That said given his youth and talent capping his creation potential at Lewis seems harsh– perhaps his scoring upside is somewhere halfway in between Lewis and Durant. It is difficult to say.
He also could be compared to Klay Thompson, who similarly struggled inside the arc as an NCAA freshman at 42.7%. He likely will not make 42% 3P on high volume like Klay, but you cannot rule out the possibility and he has potential to be much better on defense due to his 4″ height advantage. If he comes anywhere close to Klay’s shooting with better and more versatile defense, that is a valuable player regardless of whether he becomes a good creator or not.
Ultimately I rank Smith slightly behind Banchero because his upside is a bit lower, but he atones by fitting a lower friction mold that fits awesomely into any lineup. It is a very close decision between the two, and I flipped back and forth between them all season. I also rate Smith as approximately an average #1 overall.
3. Chet Holmgren
Chet is a distant third because he is the oldest of the three (a full year older than Jabari) and his skinny frame gives a weird flaw that you do not need to sweat out with the other two who fit more typical star molds. It may not hurt him that much in light of his unique strengths, but it adds a layer of uncertainty that makes him less comfortable investing in than the other two, on top of possible extra injury risk to boot as we have seen with other physically atypical prospects like Zion Williamson.
Except the difference is that Chet is not a generational talent like Zion, and nobody has been more than a low end bench player with his frame as Manute Bol + Aleksej Pokusevskis are the only guys who have made the NBA being that skinny.
While his dimensions, IQ, and skill could yield a highly useful NBA career for Chet, it is difficult to justify how he should go ahead of the two guys who are more typical #1 overall picks.
It is almost impossible to find a comp for him. He has similarities to Jonathan Isaac and Evan Mobley, but those guys are more athletic and less deathly skinny.
The player he most reminds me of is a big man version of Lonzo Ball. Both great dimensions + IQ for position, plus shooters, limited self creation, elite efficiency, both gangly and awkward looking. Both elite freshman stats, both projected #2 overall in their drafts. I could envision his NBA career being something like Lonzo’s, where he does not completely live up to the hype, but nevertheless is a highly useful role player, but also may have inconsistent availability because he is too fragile to handle the physicality of the NBA (or maybe not, but it is difficult to look at him and not assign greater than random probability of struggling with injuries).
It seems ridiculous to take him over either Jabari or Paolo as both are typical #1 overall picks and Chet is atypical in a way that opens the room for more extra downside than extra upside. But he is still really good at basketball and #3 is as low as one can reasonably get on him.
Tier 2: Hunting for Solid Starters:
After the prizes are off the board, the draft falls off a cliff and there is a huge tier to rank. Let’s methodically cut through this:
4. Dyson Daniels
Daniels glows with the most goodness out of anybody in this tier. He looked awesome last summer against team USA for Australia, then he proceeded to do great in the G League, grow 1.5″, and then (hopefully) made a shooting leap in time for the draft.
He is likely a somewhat boring role player in the Kyle Anderson or Boris Diaw mold, but he is young and can play which is about the nicest thing you can say about anyone outside of the top 3.
5. Jeremy Sochan
Sochan is not quite as attractive as Daniels as he does not have the same passing and his shooting is likely weaker as well. But he is a bit bigger with great defensive potential, and has a good assist:TOV for a young big wing and a chance of learning to shoot.
Every team could use a versatile wing like Sochan, and the cherry on top is that he is somewhat dirty player. And perhaps this is a bad heuristic, but it seems like dirty players hit in the draft at a very high rate. So this cements him as the second most glow in the tier, and then things get murky.
6. Jalen Duren
Jalen Duren is so slippery to peg. He has such optimal center tools outside of missing a couple inches of height. It is so rare to see his strength, length, and athleticism, and it makes it so easy to find an NBA role without any skill.
Andre Drummond and DeAndre Jordan were both unthinkably bad in college, clearly worse than Duren, and both went on to have acceptable NBA careers. Jordan had a brief but good peak, and Drummond was more of a perennial mediocrity but nevertheless had a decent outcome relative to NCAA production.
Duren is definitely better than those guys at the same age, but it is not clear he will necessarily be better on average in the NBA. He is really leaning on his nuclear upside of Dwight Howard or at least Alonzo Mourning to hit for his drafting team to truly emerge as a winner. It’s definitely somewhere in the realm of possibility, but how thick are the odds? Your guess is as good as mine.
More likely he will be a Derrick Favors type of solid big that is useful but not so highly valued in current NBA climate. And there is some chance of being a Drummond level of meh. It’s not that thrilling but hey the upside tail exists, and that’s a fairly exciting pitch compared to the rest of the class.
Overall Duren is difficult to rank, but he is the youngest and most physically elite prospect in the draft and nothing is fundamentally broken about him. So why not err on the side of optimism with him.
7. Bennedict Mathurin
8. Jaden Ivey
Mathurin and Ivey are the two most athletic SG’s in the draft, and make for an interesting comparison.
Ivey has all of the hype because he is the more elite athlete and uses his athleticism more functionally in creating his own shot at the rim.
But his flaw is that he is a SG, not a PG capable of running the offense. There is a limit to the value of slashing to the rim if it is paired with lackluster decision making and floor general skills.
Even though Ivey played more as a primary handler for Purdue, he still had a slightly worse assist TOV ratio than Mathurin (1.17 vs 1.42) and to my eye has worse feel for the game and makes more painfully bad decisions on offense.
Meanwhile Mathurin is 2″ taller, 4 months younger, plays more within the flow of the offense, and is the better shooter making 38.3% 3P 78.9% FT vs 32.2% 3P 73.9% FT for Ivey, both on similarly high 3PA rates.
Both are bad defensively, but given Mathurin’s height advantage and that he played for a solid NCAA defense (#21) while Ivey played for a bad one (#93) and the defense was notably worse with him on the floor both seasons. Further, Ivey’s defensive mistakes seem a bit worse to my eye. These are all relatively minor points, but it seems Mathurin should have a small edge defensively in terms of NBA projection.
All things considered, it seems like Mathurin is a slightly better prospect than Ivey. There is some boring element to his game, where he could be an athlete who doesn’t use his athleticism functionally and is a boring spot up shooter like Terrence Ross, but Ivey can be bad in a Dennis Smith Jr. or Jordan Crawford sort of way.
And in spite of being the better athlete who is foraying to the rim more frequently, Ivey had fewer dunks at 1.5 per 100 possessions this past season vs 1.75 per 100 for Mathurin. It really does not seem like the gap is significant enough to move the needle in a major way, and if Mathurin randomly makes some major leaps in ball handling ability he is equipped to be the more complete player with slightly better height, shooting, and feel for the game.
It is strange that more people are not questioning Ivey’s goodness
Maybe this qualifies as a hot take to rank Ivey all the way down here, or perhaps the real hot take is everyone locking him in as the #4 player in the draft. Given that there are three #1 talents in this draft, Ivey somewhat functions as a #2 pick in this draft and may shed light on why #2 picks seem historically cursed. Once the obvious stud(s) are off the board, teams seem to feel the need to target big upside with their high lottery pick. Except the high upside guys who aren’t obvious studs normally have some debilitating wart that causes them to disappoint, thus the #2 pick curse.
It is a simple heuristic to say that the most athletic guy has the most upside, but that’s not always the case. My preferred heuristic is that dimensions and basketball IQ yield the most upside, but Ivey has the smallest dimensions and arguably the worst basketball IQ in this tier.
Another way to discern upside would be to look for players who are productive players and young. Ivey is the 6th oldest in this tier, and older prospects such as Keegan Murray (15.7), Tari Eason (14.7), Walker Kessler (14.1), and Mark Williams (12.5) all had vastly better BPM’s than Ivey this past season (7.2). Jake Laravia is only 3 months older and was nevertheless higher (8.5). Then among younger players: AJ Griffin (8.1), Sochan (8), Mathurin (8), Kendall Brown (7.4) all were higher, Jalen Duren (7.1) is a hair lower while being 21 months younger, and Trevor Keels (4.2) is the only much lower player who is 1.5 years younger and vastly underrated by BPM.
There is no stable floor to Ivey’s profile. People are latching onto one big strength in speed/athleticism and one basketball skill in getting to the rim and finishing, and somewhat glazing over how little else he has to offer. There is some chance that he develops great and becomes a Zach LaVine, but more commonly he will be something like Jordan Clarkson and he has some risk of being not good at all.
Overall the other choices aren’t great and it is not crazy to consider Ivey at #4 overall. But it is crazy to not consider that he should actually be rated solidly lower than #4, and it seems that most people are failing to give this concern it’s due.
9. Tari Eason
This may regrettable to rate Eason this high, as he has an incredibly polarizing set of traits. He likely has the second best physical profile in the draft after Jalen Duren, as he is 6’8 with 7’2 wingspan with wiry strength and great athleticism.
Eason is a buzzsaw defensively, as he can physically match up with almost anybody, has a great motor, and is natural at pressuring the ball and forcing turnovers. The downside is that he fouls approximately as much as a buzzsaw might, and is massively turnover prone offensively.
Offensively he is a capable shooter and can create his own shot and finish. He makes decent passes at times but is definitely a score first player, and because he is prone to playing out of control and attacking at inopportune times he had a terrible assist:TOV ratio of 0.45 for LSU.
He seems to have an excellent intuition for basketball but a questionable IQ– many of his fouls are sloppy and lazy reaches. It is not clear if the fouls are turnovers are stomachable errors can be cleaned up over time, or indicative of a fundamental lack of intelligence that will lead to overall disappointment over time. But it needs to be a major concern how frequently his mental lapses occur on both ends.
Drafting Eason this high is a big risk. Fouls and turnovers can typically be reduced over time, but it is not common for prospects with such high rates as an old sophomore who turned 21 shortly after the season to enter the draft. They need to be treated as possible fatal flaws, as players with foul rates that bad typically stay bad forever.
So this makes it a challenge to rank Eason. His strengths are tantalizing, but he has some disgusting warts as well. It’s tough to place him with any confidence, but his strengths are so much more exciting than anybody else outside of the top 3, it seems worth erring on the side of optimism.
10. Mark Williams
11. Walker Kessler
Both Williams + Kessler have somewhat limited excitement as role playerish bigs, but they both have fairly easy paths to useful NBA player and are going to get drafted behind a whole bunch of perimeter players who amount to nothing.
Both are efficient garbagemen and rim protectors. Williams is a bet on physical tools and offense, whereas Kessler is more of a bet on instincts and defense.
Williams eye tests as one of the best pick and roll finishers and vertical spacers for a big in recent memory. He is incredibly long at 7’6.5″, reasonably bouncy, and extremely fluid in the paint. He dunks at a massive rate and rarely turns it over with almost as many assists (35) as turnovers (36) on the season for Duke.
His shooting has some inkling of hope as well, as he made 72.7% FT as a sophomore and 66.1% for his NCAA career. He only went 0/1 from 3 in two seasons, but he has some outs of learning to make an open 3 in the NBA in time.
Defensively he uses his reach to block a high rate of shots, and he is decent enough on this end, but is not as good as the other top bigs in the draft. His reaction times are a bit slow as is his lateral movement, and consequently his impact was not great as he anchored a decent but not great Duke defense, with the defense performing worse with him on the floor. Most notably he struggled to defend Zed Key in the post, who had BY FAR his highest scoring game of the season vs. Duke with many of his buckets coming isolated vs Williams in the post. But he also dominated Drew Timme 1 on 1 in a much more difficult matchup vs Gonzaga, so his defense is more of a mixed bag than an active weakness.
Kessler’s offense is not quite as aesthetically pleasing as Williams, he is nevertheless highly efficient as a low usage garbage man. His FT% is not as good making 59.6% as a sophomore and 57.7% career, but he did attempt 50 3 pointers on the season as a sophomore. He only made 10 of them, but the fact that he is trying conveys some inkling of hope for eventually learning to shoot.
What is special about Kessler is his defensive instincts. He has the highest steal rate of any big in the draft, and the highest block rate of any NCAA player ever. For a 7’1 guy he is fairly mobile and seems to always be in the right place at the right time and blocks almost everything.
He has clear potential to be best defensive player in the draft, and a DPOY candidate if he gets enough minutes for his NBA team.
There is a case to be made that Kessler belongs slightly ahead of Williams due to defense being higher leverage than offense for a rim protecting big. But DeAndre Jordan has shown that elite vertical spacers who can dunk every pass in site provide good offensive value, and Williams’ offense looks so aesthetically great it is difficult to be confident in rating Kessler higher.
As it is, they both seem like solid big prospects in a similar tier.
12. Keegan Murray
Keegan is a painfully boring top 5 choice, and I honestly would like to rank him lower but there just aren’t many guys to put ahead of him.
He is an old 3 + D wing who turns 22 shortly after the draft and may not be good at either 3’s or defense. He only made 74.9% FT in college and his 37.3% 3P was on middling volume, so he is a capable shooter but it is unclear if he is good or not.
Defensively he gets steals and blocks, but played for a soft Iowa defense and appeared to be soft on this end himself. He is not particularly quick and can be beat off the dribble, and most egregious he was bullied for layups three times in the second half of Iowa’s tournament loss to Richmond by a 6’7 mid major PF Nathan Cayo averaging 9 pts/game. It was a bad look for such an old prospect in a matchup that should not have been a challenge for him.
Outside of that, Murray excels at making shots in the paint at a high % without turning it over. In this regard he has a bit of TJ Warren potential. But TJ Warren looked aesthetically better scoring, and Murray may be more of a wing version of Frank Kaminsky that is a product of an NCAA system moreso than a high level NBA scorer.
Ultimately, there are some decent points to like regarding Murray but nothing stands out as special, and all of his strengths have enough asterisks such that there is no guarantee he amounts to anything at all in the NBA.
But everybody else in this draft is really bad, so how low can we get on him? Perhaps a bit lower would be reasonable, but we’ll keep the spice levels on this take mild and stash him here with the understanding that he is not a prospect I would be excited to draft.
Tier 3: Solid Role Players
13. Trevor Keels
Keels is a massive weirdo as an unathletic combo guard. But he is one of the youngest players in the class, not turning 19 until after the draft in August and has some funky gravity to him.
In spite of his lack of burst, he has decent craft at getting to the rim and finishing. He is also a good passer and decision maker and posted an excellent 2.18 A:TO ratio as an 18 year old freshman.
His freshman shooting was underwhelming at 31.2% 3P 67% FT, but he took a high rate of 3PA and looks like a confident shooter. In light of his age, it seems like he should be a capable 3 point shooter in the NBA and he has some potential to be a good shooter if he develops well over time.
Defensively he has questions as he is slow and beatable off the dribble, and does not always have the best awareness. But his instincts and intuition are overall decent, and he is capable of getting in the passing lanes and being disruptive. He definitely has a risk of being a liability defensively in the NBA, but he also has clear outs to figure it out and be competent.
Keels’ main selling point is his ability to create a moderate volume of offense without turning it over. In this regard he is like a Monte Morris who is 2.25″ taller (6’4.75″), 3.25″ longer (6’7.25″) and 49 pounds heavier at a beefy 224 in spite of his youth. That’s some significant size boosts to a decent rotation player.
If we really want to turn up the optimism, it is difficult to find a strong comp considering how unique his distribution of traits are. But he has some parallels to Tyrese Haliburton. Keels is beefier, not as athletic, and has a long way to go to catch up as a shooter, but Haliburton did not get much draft hype either as a freshman who averaged 6.8 points 3.6 assists 0.8 turnovers for Iowa State. But then Haliburton made a sophomore leap, and he was a steal at #12 overall in the draft.
14. AJ Griffin
AJ Griffin projects to be an efficient player offensively if he develops smoothly. But there are a couple of issues that could put a hitch in his development.
First he missed major time in high school with injuries, and may have some medical flags lingering. You need to be worried that he just is not durable enough to be available with any consistency in the NBA.
Second he *seems* like an elite shooter after making 44.7% 3P as a young freshman for Duke, but a small sample of good NCAA 3P shooting does not always predict NBA success. Xavier Henry shot 41.8% 3P as an NCAA freshman on slightly more attempts than AJ (165 vs 159), and had a similar FT% (78 vs 79). Yet in the NBA he only shot 32.5% 3P 63.5% FT on tiny volume and flamed out of the league at age 24.
Aaron Nesmith another example of a prospect who shot 52.2% on 115 attempts with 82.5% FT and has a 30.6% 3P in his first two NBA seasons including playoffs. Sometimes guys make 3’s in college but not in the NBA.
AJ really needs to shoot well too, because he is not a great athlete, shot creator, or passer and his defense is actively bad. If he shoots as badly as Nesmith or Henry, he will likely disappoint in the NBA as much as they did. And even if those guys did not completely flop and shot 35-36% from 3, they still would not be particularly useful.
But IF he can shoot and if he stays healthy, there are reasons to be optimistic for Griffin. He is the son of former NBA player Adrian Griffin, which tends to be predictive of draft success. He could be something like a fellow NBA junior such as Gary Trent Jr. or Tim Hardaway Jr. And there is some scenario where he is even better than them and more like a Desmond Bane.
Griffin is a reasonable gamble on him at some point mid-1st, but there is a scary downside tail here that makes him a somewhat murky value proposition.
15. Jake LaRavia
Laravia is an extremely young junior, being just 12 days older than freshman TyTy Washington.
He fits a nice 3 + D mold as a 6’8 wing who excels at moving his feet and defending the perimeter. His post defense is not quite as good, and may limit LaRavia from being a full stopper, but in two games at Duke Paolo Banchero badly struggled to get past him on perimeter drives.
But he is nevertheless looks like a solid defensive prospect who can make an open 3, making 38.4% 3P 77.7% FT this past season for Wake Forest. That said he has a slow release on his shot and took a low volume of 3PA which badly needs to increase in the NBA. And while he is a good passer with solidly more assists (3.7) than turnovers (2.7), he does not create a high volume of offense off the dribble.
He has enough skill to fit as an NBA role player, but his offense is fairly limited and he is a good but not great defensive prospect. This makes him collectively a bit boring, but he has an easy path to being average or a bit above average 3 + D wing, which is a relatively good prize in this draft.
16. Shaedon Sharpe
Shaedon Sharpe has pretty decent upside as an athletic SG who can potentially score a high volume, the only issue is that his odds of hitting is fairly long due to lack of evidence that he actually knows how to play.
In general mystery box upside is prone to being overrated, and it is difficult to see any strong reason to actually expect Sharpe to be good.
There is some chance he happens to succeed and becomes something like a Jason Richardson or Michael Redd and this ranking looks harsh, but most of the time he is going to be a mediocre bench player or bust.
17. Christian Koloko
Koloko has great dimensions at 7′ with 7’5 wingspan and good mobility for a big man. He can protect the rim and switch onto the perimeter, he has elite defensive potential as a big man who does it all.
His issue is that he is 22 years old a few days after the draft and does not bring much offensive value. But between 64.2% 2P, 73.5% FT, and almost as many assists as TOVs this season he has a basic competence on this end.
The way that Koloko turns into a big draft win is if he develops into a DPOY candidate. Which seems plausible, as there are a number of quality big men in this draft but it is not clear that any of them have higher defensive potential than Koloko.
Kessler, Chet, and Duren all have big defensive potential, but I don’t think any of them are clear favorites to be better defensively than Koloko as he has the strongest intersection of switchability and on court goodness between the group. He is also the oldest and those guys can conceivably pass him, but there is a ton to like about his defense.
If he is an efficient vertical spacer in the NBA and elite defensively, that adds up to quite the prize in round 2.
18. Kendall Brown
Down to #34 on ESPN’s mock seems unnecessarily harsh. He is frustratingly passive but is he that bad? He must exude a lackadaisical energy throughout his interviews and workouts as well for teams to be this low on him.
He has elite wing tools with 6’7.5″ height, 6’11 wingspan, and explosive athleticism that offers solid defensive versatility. He was a top 10 freshman recruit who is still young, having just turned 19 in May.
He also has a decent enough basketball IQ with more assists than turnovers and he rarely takes bad shots or does anything dumb on defense.
But this is somewhat tied to his weakness of rarely doing much at all. While he is physically capable of being an ideal NBA wing, he is too passive to inspire much confidence.
He reminds me somewhat of Andrew Wiggins, Harrison Barnes, and Rudy Gay but without the ability to make pullup jump shots which considerably lowers his scoring output.
But if he can learn to make an open NBA 3, you really don’t need him pulling up from mid-range to be a decent role player.
His low stock also may be a product of injury concerns as he had an injury in high school and Baylor prospects seem to have medical flags fairly often. But it is difficult to reconcile how he actually belongs in round 2. He is boring in many ways but his intersection of elite tools, youth, and basic competence at playing basketball makes him sliding that far somewhat puzzling.
19. Wendell Moore Jr.
I already touched on Moore reviewing the draft combine, including a case for why he should go slightly higher than Jalen Williams.
20. TyTy Washington
I hate having to rate this guy. He is a sophomore aged PG who had a decent but unspectacular season for Kentucky in an unspectacular mode of unathletic jump shooting combo guard. But he isn’t even that good of a shooter, he only made 35% 3P 75% FT.
But he may have sneaky PG potential, he had a good assist (3.9) to TOV (1.6) ratio while sharing PG duties with Sahvir Wheeler. Maybe he is more of a floor general than he was able to show at Kentucky, and perhaps he can score more too. It happened with Eric Bledsoe, Devin Booker, Tyrese Maxey, and Immanuel Quickley, so why not TyTy?
The reason why not is also because Cal gets plenty of guards who are not good, and lots of times he is Brandon Knight or Andrew Harrison. He is an entire 23 months older than freshman Devin Booker so that is probably an unrealistic hope.
So let’s not overthink him too much, he is going to be nothing fairly often and when he is something it will typically not be something great. Let’s just stash him here and move on.
21. EJ Liddell
22. Malaki Branham
No strong opinion on the Ohio State guys. Liddell is weird, last year the NBA told him he should go back to school because he was not athlete enough, and now after a fairly typical year of development he is a 1st round choice. Tough to reconcile the inconsistency, but my inkling is that he is a decent enough pull in the late first for a guy with good wing dimensions and a well rounded set of strengths, including uniquely good shot blocking for 6’7.
Branham is younger and skilled but seems like a boring SG who is a decent scorer but a bit too dependent on mid-range shots and likely gets roasted on defense. I can’t get excited about him but maybe he’s alright.
23. Kennedy Chandler
Kennedy Chandler is slippery to rank, because he checks so many upside boxes. He is fast, can create for himself, pass to teammates, has a big steal rate, has a +5″ wingspan, and is fairly young…but he is a 6’0 who shot 60.6% FT. How excited can get you get over a guy like that? I am seriously asking because I do not know.
24. Jalen Williams
25. Christian Braun
Christian Braun masterfully toes the line between painfully boring and great at nothing and solidly well rounded and not bad at anything.
At 6’7 he has t-rex arms at 6’6.5″ but he is a good athlete and has a solid basketball IQ. It seems like he is always trying to make something happen on the court, and while his talent has his limits he does a good job making the most of them.
One comp that could be made for him is a slightly bigger Donte DiVincenzo. It is difficult to see a big upside tail, but it is not hard to see a reasonably useful rotation player.
26. Blake Wesley
Wesley has excellent mobility and decent enough steal, blocks, and rebounds for his size to be a solid defensive player in the league. But he is 6’4.25″ with 6’9.25″ wingspan, and his indicators look clearly inferior to Jrue or Smart so there is only so much impact he can conceivably make on defense.
Offensively he has a semblance of passing, shooting, and scoring ability for a freshman who only turned 19 in March. He can get to the rim in doses, he had a slightly positive assist:TOV ratio, and he shot 30.3% 3P 65.7% FT on a high volume of attempts.
If he can make a shooting leap and cut down on bad decisions offensively, it is easy to see him as a guy who is decent on both ends of the floor.
But the downside is that he is currently undersized and highly inefficient. And he blew Notre Dame’s tournament when he got stopped in dominant fashion 3 times in a row in the last two minutes vs Texas Tech with two turnovers and a layup attempt blocked.
On one hand, Wesley’s youth makes this semi-forgivable, but on the other hand– how aggressively can you really invest in an inefficient 6’4 guy simply because he covers ground defensively?
27. Dalen Terry
Terry is a funky weirdo who is long, lanky, and does not score much but is a great passer for a 6’7 wing. He is so unique he is difficult to pin down, but the concern is that he is a 3 + D wing who is not guaranteed to be positive at either shooting or defense. There is some fun appeal with him but also a healthy amount of blah, so perhaps late first where he belongs.
28. Johnny Davis
Johnny Davis is such a boring prospect in the lottery. He is a small SG with mediocre skill, efficiency, and athleticism who thrives on toughness and defense even though he doesn’t get nearly enough steals to suggest that his defense is uniquely good for his size. He is not great at getting to the rim, he is not great at making 3’s, and he is definitely not a floor general with more turnovers than assists. His main value offensively for Wisconsin was to make pull-up mid-range shots
29. Ochai Agbaji
There is so much to dislike about Agbaji. He is 22 years old and getting drafted for his spot up shooting when it is not even that obvious he can shoot. He only made 74.3% FT as a senior and 71.2% for his career. This makes it difficult to fully trust his 40.7% 3P on high volume as a senior.
Further he is a 6’5.5″ SG with mediocre feel for the game, does not create much offense for himself or teammates, and may be a significant liability on defense.
But he had really good on/off splits for the champion Jayhawks, he has decent man to man defensive abilities because of his length, strength, and athleticism, and it is possible that he is a good shooter after all.
So it wouldn’t be a shock to see him reach a basic level of usefulness, which is more than can be said for most guys still on the board this late. But it also wouldn’t be a shock to see him amount to nothing, and his upside is fairly limited.
Tier 4: Getting Thin:
30. Alondes Williams
Alondes seems a bit too unpolished and a bit too old to be good, but his creation ability for a 6’5 PG is too good to sleep on entirely. He is super athletic and extremely saucy with the ball. He can create his own shot at the rim at a monster rate, has excellent passing vision and creativity, and his shot is not completely broken.
He is prone to getting sloppy and turning it over and his shooting is rather meh for his age, but it just seems like there is a bit too much strength to go undrafted.
Has some potential to be something like Jordan Clarkson or Derrick White if Derrick White played like Russell Westbrook.
31. Darius Days
Days looks the part of a role playing NBA wing.
First physically he is a beast. 6’7 with a 7’1 wingspan and a strong, thick frame. He isn’t an explosive athlete but moves decently enough to have a chance of hanging on the perimeter defensively. This is especially given his exceptionally quick hands that he uses to pick guards clean in a way that is rarely seen for guards his size. His perimeter D is somewhat of a mixed bag
He also has good post defense, where he does not yield deep position and is not easy to back down. It would not be a surprise if he turned out to be sneaky good at defending Giannis because of his strength with decent enough dimensions and mobility.
Offensively, Days is limited with the ball but is a decent shooter who takes a high rate of 3PA. He will not require much defensive attention in the NBA, but if you try to hide a guard on him he can punish them in the post and on the offensive glass.
Days does not offer much upside but if you are looking for a 3 + D wing to fill out a rotation with decent minutes, Days seems like a solid candidate for that role. If I ran a team I would absolutely be trying to get him as an UDFA on a 2 way deal.
32. Ryan Rollins
I wrote in my combine review that he was too much of a mixed bag to justify a round 1 choice, but there aren’t that many guys to rank above him and he misses the cut here by two slots. Rollins has his flaws and reasons to doubt him, but also some interesting strengths. He has great length, a young birthday for his class, and fairly well rounded box score production.
He showed some flaws in the combine scrimmages but also showed some funky goodness that is difficult to pin down. He has a chance of being alright.
33. MarJon Beauchamp
I don’t know what to do with this guy. He seems really bad on offense for his age. But good dimensions + defensive versatility is worth something. Shrug.
34. Peyton Watson
Watson has one of the most polarizing profiles in recent memory, as his intersection of dimensions, steal, block, rebound, and assist rates imply a wing that is highly likely to be useful in the NBA.
But for the life of him he could not put the biscuit in the basket as an NCAA freshman for UCLA. He made 35.6% 2P, 39.4% TS while averaged 3.3 pts in 12.7 minutes per game.
On one hand– this is a small sample where he was limited by being on a good team deep with talented players, and if he simply happened to have bad luck shooting and does better in the NBA, then you are left with a likely steal in round 2.
On the other hand– him not spending more time on the court implies that he was more likely to be bad than unlucky, and it is extremely tough to find an example of somebody who became a useful NBAer with THAT bad of a 2P% in college.
So it’s tough to place him. He has a somewhat compelling upside argument, but in all likelihood he is not good enough.
35. Jaylin Williams
Williams is a bit undersized for a big at 6’10 with 7’1 wingspan, and is not that quick or athletic. Where he shines is with his defensive fundamentals, as his dad taught him positioning at a young age and he is a master at drawing charges, drawing 54 in 37 games this season for Arkansas.
Unfortunately, this will not fully translate to the NBA where his lack of speed will weigh heavier with greater space, and he will draw fewer charges, but his strong fundamentals could nevertheless make him a useful role player.
He is a good passer with a great assist:TOV (2.6 vs 1.8), and has outs to develop an NBA 3 with 1.9 3PA/game as a sophomore with 73% FT. He also has a young birthday for his class, turning 20 several days after the draft.
It is easy to see him as a 3rd big who is solidly useful in certain situations, but will not be ideal in every matchup.
36. Michael Foster
Seems like an old school PF but sometimes a good old school PF can be better than a bad modern player. Which is not to say Foster is necessarily good. Just that he might be.
37. David Roddy
Roddy has a nice intersection of brains and brawns as he has a strong thick frame and a good basketball IQ.
Unfortunately he may not have enough talent otherwise. He is only 6’6 and not all that athletic or good at shooting. He seems like more of a mid-major star than a guy who can convert to NBA wing like PJ Tucker. But there is enough there to take a stab on his funky mold working out in round 2.
38. Josh Minott
Minott seemed like an interesting candidate to be a nice piece if he learns to shoot based on his freshman small sample playing 14.6 mins/game off the bench for Memphis.
But his skill level looked painfully raw in the combine. Worth considering that if he played 30 mins/game for a full season his numbers may not look as impressive.
But his freshman production along with youth and dimensions are worth something. He’s tough to rank but somewhere in first half of round 2 seems right.
39. Caleb Houstan
Houstan is painfully meh but he is 6’8, young, and decent at shooting, so if he finds a way to stick in the NBA it would hardly be surprising.
40. Nikola Jovic
41. Ousmane Dieng
This international class sucks, but Jovic is has an inkling of hope of being something between his height, youth, passing, and shooting. Perhaps he can be something of a Jonas Jerebko in the NBA.
Jovic is certainly going to be better draft value than Dieng, who for some reason is getting drafted in the lottery. Dieng has a good height at 6’9 for a young wing with some semblence of shooting and handling, but he is otherwise horrific at basketball.
He is incredibly soft, plays with no force, dies on every screen and has no physicality whatsoever to his game.
He is also slow and unathletic, cannot get past anybody off the dribble, and likely will struggle to defend the perimeter in the NBA.
He occasionally makes an impressive pass, but overall he averaged 1 assists vs 1.4 turnovers for by far the worst team in Australia.
In theory he has “potential” but in reality he is really bad at basketball now, has some horrible flaws that likely will not change, and likely does not have enough time to improve into a useful NBA player. He would be a big mistake in the lottery.
42. Jaden Hardy
Maybe this is too low. I don’t have the best read on these G League guys. But a 6’4 inefficient gunner is not my type. Maybe he develops into Anfernee Simons or something but he is probably bad.
43. Andrew Nembhard
Maybe this is a bit low on Nembhard. 6’4.5 PG who can shoot isn’t bad. But he is so old and unathletic and kind of boring.
This 30-43 range is difficult in general for me to rank and pretty much somebody needs to go in the back and feel like they may be too low.
44. Ron Harper Jr.
45. Jabari Walker
46. Scottie Pippen Jr.
These guys all had NBA dads so maybe they overachieve. Or maybe they aren’t good enough. Who knows.
47. Jamaree Bouyea
Bouyea is old but an athletic buckets getter and that is worth respecting.
Tier 5: Everybody Else:
|50||Kenneth Lofton Jr.|
|65||Patrick Baldwin Jr.|
Anybody excluded here that is mocked to get drafted is not good enough IMO. This is especially true for Hugo Besson and Ismael Kamagate who I wrote about in my international breakdown.
The one domestic who misses the cut is Max Christie. He may not be as hopeless as some of these internationals, but there is close to nothing to like about him outside of making 82.4% FT on 74 FTA. But he still only shot 31.7% 3P on mediocre volume of 3.5 3PA/game, which is not what you want out of your one dimensional shooter who is bad and undersized on D at 6’5.75″ with 6’8.75″ wingspan.
He is also inefficient on offense, with low volume and low efficiency and it is difficult to see what may be his ticket to NBA success. The consensus draft twitter big board ranked him ahead of Keels, which may age really badly in time.