There’s, much like the rest of the sports world amid the coronavirus pandemic. Players are stuck in limbo, scouts and agents are grounded at home and the draft process has been all but stopped. What better time than the present to take a virtual snap shot of the landscape as we know it with an update to our Big Board?
Overall, the 2020 draft class remains a mystery at the top with no consensus top picks — unlike last year with Zion Williamson and Ja Morant. But in our updated rankings, LaMelo Ball holds steady at No. 1 and narrowly edges out Anthony Edwards. Both 18 year olds are right now considered by most talent evaluators to be the top prospects in this year’s draft in some order.
Beyond Ball and Edwards, it’s a mixed bag of interchangeable names. I’ve moved French point guard Killian Hayes up to No. 3, followed by Auburn’s Isaac Okoro and USC’s Onyeka Okongwu. Then, rounding out my top 10 is James Wiseman, Deni Avdija, Obi Toppin, Cole Anthony and Tyrese Maxey.
No. 3 Killian Hayes, France, PG: Hayes makes a leap all the way up to No. 3 on my Big Board on pure upside. He won’t turn 19 until this summer — just a week before Anthony Edwards, who once reclassified and will be among the youngest prospects in this class — and he’s still just scratching the surface in terms of what he can develop into long-term. Meanwhile, the here and now has been really, really good:
Hayes has added a stepback to his diverse offensive package, cleaned up his floater a bit and has been able to overcome his lack of explosiveness with ridiculous savvy as a playmaker. He’s not in LaMelo Ball’s tier as a passer, but it’s an area he’s improved in despite being turnover prone. Even in a deep class for point guards, I think Hayes should be considered among the best. (Previous No. 10)
No. 4 Isaac Okoro, Auburn, SF: In today’s NBA, 6-foot-6 wings who can clamp down defensively on the perimeter and guard multiple positions will always have a spot in the rotation. And that’s Okoro’s game right now. He’s an elite defender against guards and wings alike, using his mature, bulked up frame to his advantage. But more than that, Okoro’s got potential to be a non-negative on offense, too, despite shooting just 29% from 3-point range as a freshman. As Bleacher Report’s Jonathan Wasserman notes, he hit 60.3% of his shots inside the arc in his first — and likely only — college season. There’s reason to buy the shot and already plenty of evidence to warrant a top-five pick given his impact everywhere else. If I’m the Chicago Bulls or Atlanta Hawks, I’m hoping he’s still on the board when their draft selection comes up this summer. (Previous No. 12)
No. 13 Saddiq Bey, Villanova, SF: Speaking of versatile wings, Bey checks just about every box of what you look for in a 3-and-D prospect and should be plug-and-play at the next level. He shot 45.1% from 3-point range last season at Villanova, averaged 16.1 points and seemingly drew all the difficult defensive assignments because of his ability to guard up and down the lineup. He has top tier role player potential and could be an incredibly valuable addition to a team looking to plug holes defensively and bolster shooting on the wing. (Previous No. 21)
No. 19 Precious Achiuwa, Memphis, PF: Despite the gaudy numbers as a freshman — 15.8 points, 10.8 boards and 1.9 blocks per game — Achiuwa’s overall upside may be limited at the NBA level. He’s a 6-9 forward who profiles as a power forward but insists on scooting out and playing like a small forward. That’s not his game. His handles need some serious fine tuning to even sniff playing on the wing in the NBA, and his 3-point stroke is right now unreliable, too. So he’s boxed in as a power forward who struggles to stretch the floor. There’s value in a player like Achiuwa late in the first round as an energy big who can impact the game and grab rebounds, but I’m not buying his long-term prospects of being anything other than a big who struggles to create, is turnover prone and doesn’t shoot it well outside the paint. (Previous No. 14)
No. 26 Nico Mannion, Arizona, PG: Mannion really struggled for much of the final six weeks of the season from an efficiency standpoint. And despite the undeniable burden he carried as Arizona’s initiator on offense, there’s some real red flags. (32.7% from 3-point range, zero blocks in 32 games, 39.2% from the floor.) His stock will be a fascinating one to follow in the coming months as scouts sort out his value, but there’s concern that despite his smarts, his lack of explosiveness and struggles as a scorer could hamper his progression to becoming a starting-caliber point guard in the NBA. (Previous No. 13)
Big Board top 10
|9||Cole Anthony||N. Carolina||Fr||PG||3||6-3||190|