The 2020 NBA Draft is scheduled to unfold on October 16 and Blazer’s Edge is committed to producing a plethora of prospect-driven content prior to that date. Today’s post looks at the third and final Top 20 Big Board from our NBA Draft coverage team. Along with his prospect rankings, Nate Mann also takes a look at a crop of wings that possess skills that translate nicely to the next level.
Nate’s Big Board
|1.) LaMelo Ball||G||USA|
|2.) Onyeka Okongwu||F/C||USC|
|3.) Anthony Edwards||G||Georgia|
|4.) Killian Hayes||PG||France|
|5.) Obi Toppin||PF||Dayton|
|6.) Tyrese Haliburton||PG||Iowa State|
|7.) Devin Vassell||SG||Florida State|
|8.) James Wiseman||C||Memphis|
|9.) Patrick Williams||F||Florida State|
|10.) Deni Avdija||F||Israel|
|11.) Isaac Okoro||G/F||Auburn|
|12.) Aaron Nesmith||SF||Vanderbilt|
|13.) Saddiq Bey||F||Villanova|
|14.) Cole Anthony||PG||North Carolina|
|15.) Josh Green||SG||Arizona|
|16.) Theo Maledon||G||France|
|17.) Jalen Smith||PF||Maryland|
|18.) RJ Hampton||G||USA|
|19.) Tyler Bey||SF||Colorado|
|20.) Precious Achiuwa||F/C||Memphis|
College Wings, NBA Skills
Three-and-D wings are the new fad in the NBA, and the Portland Trail Blazers location in this year’s draft offers them a chance to select a player who can assume such a role. Despite no real hierarchy in the 2020 draft, there are several wings likely available in the mid-to-late lottery, each with a unique, translatable skill that teams desire.
Aaron Nesmith has a strong claim to the title of “best shooter” in the 2020 class. In his second year at Vanderbilt, he made 52.2% of his three-point attempts. More than half of his shot attempts were from deep, showcasing an impressive efficiency.
His numbers dramatically improved from his freshman to sophomore year. With six more minutes of playing time, he jumped from 11 points on 39.2% shooting to 23 points on 51.2% shooting, not to mention a 19% rise in three-point accuracy.
Nesmith’s shooting touch is equally dangers in both catch-and-shoot and pull-up opportunities. He runs around screens fluidly, but he can improve his footwork as he squares up after receiving the pass. Teams are always in need of lengthy shooters, and Nesmith possesses NBA-ready three-point shooting to go along with his 6-foot-9 wingspan.
Patrick Williams is a swiss army knife disguised as a forward. He has the size and athleticism, plus giant hands, to guard positions one through four. He can score at all three levels; he’s a great finisher at the rim, can pull up off the dribble in the midrange, and has a fluid three-point jumper. He only shot 32% from deep as a freshman, but his 83.8% free throw percentage indicates a likelihood he improves that number.
All of those skills are translatable to the NBA. Of all the wings in the late lottery, Williams has the highest floor. Teams looking to add size on the wing can get a rotation-ready player in the Florida State forward. While other prospects offer a specific elite skill, Williams’ calling card is his ability to play any role within any scheme.
Armed with a solid height and wingspan (6’6 height, 6’8.5 wingspan), Isaac Okoro has close to ideal physical attributes for defending guards and wings. He has the lateral quickness to stay with the former and the strength and balance to stick with the latter. His relatively short wingspan hinders his rim protection, though.
Off the ball, Okoro rotates with remarkable timing. He has active hands to disrupt passing lanes and has the agility to recover if beaten as well.
In his freshman season at Auburn, Okoro tallied just short of one steal and one block per game. He was named to the SEC All-Defense team, the only first-year player to qualify. NBA teams can always find a fit for a strong defensive wing, and Okoro’s proven he has the tools and skills to provide versatile defense.
In a draft class lacking franchise-altering players, finding prospects who can make an impact without the ball in their hands is crucial. Saddiq Bey, a sophomore from Villanova, is one of those guys.
On offense, his 45.1% shooting from beyond the arc provides floor spacing. If defenders do sag off to play help defense, he further improves his conversion rate—Bey made 51.1% of his spot up catch-and-shoot jumpers. He also has the wherewithal to cut backdoor if defenders overplay the corner or focus too much on the ball handler.
Defensively, Bey’s length and versatility interrupts the opponent’s offensive flow. He prevents post entry passes by fronting the big man and blocks kickouts to the wings with his long arms and active hands. He also boxes out with textbook form when switched onto centers instead of trying to out jump them.
Devin Vassell has a case for best defender in the draft, or at least best guard defender. Like Okoro, he stands at 6’6, but has a 6’10 wingspan. His combination of length and lateral quickness make him a menacing on-ball defender, especially against smaller point guards trying to initiate the offense.
Off the ball, the Florida State sophomore makes expert level closeouts and rotations to prevent easy buckets. His speed and length—plus controlled movement—make him an excellent team defender in these situations. He has active hands and muddies up passing lanes to get the defense running in transition as well.
With a major 18-minute increase in playing time from his first to second year, Vassell tallied 1.4 steals and one block per game, up from 0.5 and 0.3 as a freshman.