Keeping the theme of Top 5’s continuing, this post will focus on my top 5 NBA prospects for this years draft.
#1.) Anthony Edwards
I have Anthony Edwards as my top prospect for this class because of the scoring potential/skill that he possesses. In my eyes he will be a three level NBA scorer in no time, if not day one. What intrigues me most about Edwards is that he can score just as easily on the ball as he can off the ball, he is an elite level slasher and knows how to create for his own shot as well. Not to mention that his 3 ball shows the signs of being an at minimum respected shot in the NBA. Although he only shot 29% from 3 this year, his free throw shooting was at an above average rate of 77% which as we know trends in the upward direction of developing an NBA 3. And if his 3 ball is respected that will allow him the opportunity to take it to the paint where his speed/size/athleticism mixture will be a force. With his 6’5, 225 frame he can take it into the paint and if he proved anything in his lone college year it’s that he is most definitely not afraid to put his head down and take it to the hoop while finishing. He’s a menace in transition and also shows a decent knack for rebounding. Whilst his defense leaves much to be desired for we’ve seen many high class offensive talents succeed in the NBA with much less defensive effort or defensive athleticism, players like Kyrie Irving, D’Angelo Russell, Bradley Beal, and Trae Young. There’s at least an excuse for Edward’s lackluster defense in college, he was basically solely responsible for a poor Georgia teams offense with a 31% usage rate. It could be understandable why he could have been lazy on defensive end. All in all, with this class being reckoned as a severely bad class and no clear number one pick to be made Edward’s will offer scoring on whatever team takes him, and as we know scoring is pretty important.
#2.) Killian Hayes
I know, having a point guard above Ball is a bit odd but let me explain. I see Hayes in the same light as Ball but a less of a ceiling and a higher floor. It really depends on what you like here and I guess it depends on the franchise, whether you need that bright lights star Ball could be and would rather risk it or if you think you can develop Hayes into that lead point guard that I believe is inevitable. Obviously I prefer the latter. Hayes is real good point guard and saw better competition than Ball did in the German league and in the Eurocup, I think he’s a fantastic facilitator and great in the open floor. He can most definitely break down the opposition with dribble moves and score everywhere on the court. That’s due to his 6’5 frame, meaning that he can finish at the rim even with adequate explosion. But don’t mix up explosion with athleticism because he is very quick and can surprise some with his ups. His 3 point shooting leaves a bit to be desired for but with his 88% from the line I’m far less worried about it than Ball. To go along with his offensive game he possesses a decently strong defensive game to back it up. He’s the second or third best passer in the class, he’s 6’5 at the point guard position and shows the potential to be a knockdown shooter, I’ll bet on Hayes to be a solid NBA PG.
#3.) Onyeka Okongwu
I’ve recently become very high on Okongwu compared to where I was when I first started my “scouting”. This is mainly thanks to a couple of articles I’ve read and, well, common sense kicking in, but mostly it’s thanks to a buddy who is super high on him and did a number on convincing me. I’m not quite sure what I didn’t see in this guy, it really must’ve been that I’m just not a fan of bigs, (evidenced by the rest of this blog), and I truly believe that you can get really good bigs for cheap, see the Celtics. But this guy is different, in fact this guy reminds me a lot of my favorite prospect last year, Jaren Jackson Jr., and that’s not even mentioning the seamless comparison to Bam Adebayo. This guy can play and we already know how great a teammate he is due to his time playing with the Ball brothers in high school. They somehow convinced a top 25 high school recruit into strictly playing defense and rebounding and he was just fine with it. That’s what makes it all the more crazy that he averaged 16 points a game with a plethora of post moves and a dangerous mid game. With his almost perfect form and his 72% free throw shooting I wouldn’t be surprised to see him step out and knock some three’s down, and we know he has the ability too as he sometimes showed it in college. Not only is his offensive game very polished, but it’s not even the best part of his game as Oknongwu is a notorious defender. He’s capable of guarding multiple positions and has the quickness and length to disrupt any shot near him. With 1.2 SPG and 2.7 BPG Okongwu is a menace on the defensive end. It’s tough to know whether he’ll be a 4 or a 5 in the NBA as he’s only 6’9 but doesn’t possess Bam’s obscene strength but in my eyes I really don’t think it’ll matter in today’s positionless/small ball game. I really hope he doesn’t fall into the warriors lap next year.
#4.) LaMelo Ball
With everything said about his floor being lower than Hayes, I’m not gonna pretend that LaMelo doesn’t have the highest ceiling in this draft, and honestly it’s not close. Obviously with Ball, you’re getting a showtime type of player that will be extremely frustrating and amazing to watch at the same time. He doesn’t play defense, he takes mind bogglingly awful threes (even though he’s a terrible three point shooter), and, well, his Dad is both the most annoying man on earth and probably the best business man on earth, depending on how you look at it. Basically LaMelo Ball just sounds like a New York Knick already. Anyway, LaMelo is the best passer of the class by far and is honestly unstoppable in transition. He’s 6’7 and has plus rebounding for a guard. If you let him get down hill on you it will be a bucket, whether he’s finishing at the rim, or more likely firing an on the money flair pass to a big. Crazy to say it with the shots he takes but he’s probably got the best basketball IQ in the draft and just instinctively knows where his teammates are on the court. At 6’7 and a guard I see absolutely no reason that Ball should not be an above average defender, just like his brother (well maybe not as good but still). He’s quick enough, long enough, and smart enough to be more than capable defending at minimum the 1 and the 2. As for the 3, it’ll probably be a total restart to teach him how to shoot, form and everything, again much like his brother. If he cuts out his ridiculous shot selection and focuses on what he’s the best at while learning to shoot again he’ll be fine until the three turns respectable. Basically if LaMelo Ball buys into an NBA system and accepts NBA coaching he will be the best player in this class and will be a stud. Starting to question why I only have him at 4.
#5.) Isaac Okoro
I’m not sure why I’m so infatuated with this guy but I really am. Maybe it’s cuz he reminds me a lot of my favorite player (shoutout Jaylen Brown) but my god do I love everything about this guys game. I don’t have him higher because those 4 guys are just flat out better but this guys got a super high floor and you will see him for a long time in the NBA. An Uber-athletic wing that was probably the best on-ball defender in the NCAA last year. Yeah, he’ll fit in the NBA. He’s my personal favorite type of defender too, you might look at the stats and see he only averaged 1 steal and 1 block a game and think well clearly he wasn’t but dude is just straight up lockdown, there’s no such thing as an easy shot with him on you and he just plays perfect defense. He doesn’t jump passing lanes because it leads to open layups if missed, he doesn’t send shots into the 17th row and bump his chest because he knows that it’ll still be the opposition’s possession. Instead he gets his steal by picking people and his blocks are usually kept in bounds and lead to breaks. If you could have 5 of those guys in your lineup you wouldn’t lose a game. He’s also the perfect kind of cocky, just watching his tape you can tell when he’s feeling himself after a tough and one or a nasty reverse layup, he certainly plays with lots of emotion, the good kind of emotion not DeMarcus Cousins, and lots of heart, which is always a good thing. And to point out the worst part of his game, his 29% 3PT shooting and his 67% free throw shooting, it’s not ideal but honestly I really really like his shot, I think it looks smooth and I really don’t fear it. He’s electric in transition, he possesses a killer euro step and finishes real well with either hand. I’m not sure what it is but I really really really like this kid.
That’s it for this top 5, not sure what 5 I’ll do next, probably my 6-10 I guess and so forth.