Draft Lead

2020 NBA Draft Big Board: Part 3

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  • Click here to see Part 2 of our 2020 NBA Draft Big Board

As the calendar turns from April to May in the notorious year of 2020, the world is still left with countless unknowns. This is held extraordinarily true for the world of sports, in a time where large public gatherings seem quite unlikely for the distant future. The entire schedule is up in the air for the rest of the NBA season, and with that comes with no clear sign as to when the NBA Draft will occur. We saw recently how a “virtual” draft can be effective, as the NFL put on a very high-level product given the circumstances. What this all means is, the NBA will eventually have a draft, but no one quite knows when it will be, and if there will be a pre-draft process involved.

This news obviously means a lot to many groups of people, but perhaps none more than the last two tiers of our Big Board. These players are the exact types that fly up draft boards at the combine, at scrimmages, and at different invitational camps. The ones that may have slid under the radar, or have had time to fix the holes in their games may not have the chance to demonstrate their ability in front of NBA teams. Due to this, their future NBA standing is muddy to say the least. There is most certainly a number of players here that could have risen up draft boards in a pre-draft process, but with that in the air, they all stand as second-round picks in our projections.

Onto the rankings!

 

TIER FIVE: ONE STEP AWAY/ONE PIECE MISSING

36. UDOKA AZUBUIKE, 7-0 C, KANSAS

37. IMMANUEL QUICKLEY, 6-3 G, KENTUCKY

38. CASSIUS STANLEY, 6-6 G, DUKE

39. JAHMI’US RAMSEY, 6-4 G, TEXAS TECH

40. ASHTON HAGANS, 6-3 G, KENTUCKY

41. MARCUS GARRETT, 6-5 G/F, KANSAS

42. PATRICK WILLIAMS, 6-8 F, FLORIDA STATE

43. REGGIE PERRY, 6-10 F/C, MISSISSIPPI STATE

44. MARKUS HOWARD, 5-11 G, MARQUETTE

45. OSCAR TSHIEBWE, 6-9 F/C, WEST VIRGINIA

46. AYO DOSUNMU, 6-5 G, ILLINOIS

In this group of players, a common theme begins to show. While they all possess immense talent and are certainly NBA-caliber players in the right situation, they each have a hole in their games. In most cases, it’s a skill or a quality that they’re missing. On the other hand, some players lack the physical attributes to project as first-round picks. We will quickly touch on those holes that some of these players demonstrated in college, rapid-fire edition.

 

Udoka Azubuike: Free Throw shooting

Let’s start things off real simply with Udoka Azubuike. First, he is second in NCAA history in Field Goal percentage, behind New Orleans Pelicans superstar Zion Williamson. Second, he was one of only two Power 5 conference players (Previously highlighted Paul Reed, #24 in our rankings) to average at least 10.5 rebounds and 2.5 blocks last season. Lastly, he shot 41.6% from the free-throw line in his college career and never even attempted a three-point jumper. It’s safe to say one of these things is not like the others.

In reality, Azubuike may be one of the safest picks in the entire draft. His enormous 7-0, 270lb frame will still dominate most NBA bigs in the paint, and his improved ability to defend guards in switches makes him at least playable defensively. The real question is, what is the upside of a player who cannot make a bucket outside of the paint, and is a major liability from the line? Some players struggle shooting the ball and eventually figure it out, but the mountain is such a high climb for Azubuike that it seems quite unlikely he gets to that point.

Therefore, some team is going to experiment by taking him later in the draft and hoping his insane efficiency and defensive ability can be enough at the next level. Or, they invented the ability to time travel back twenty years and have their new (or old) franchise cornerstone.

https://twitter.com/br_CBB/status/933449507043340288

Immanuel Quickley: Playmaking

Ironically, we transition from one of the worst free throw shooters in NCAA history to the third-leading free-throw shooter all season in Immanuel Quickley. He shot 92.3% from the line and 42.8% from deep to go from disappointing reserve as a freshman to Co-SEC Player of the Year as a sophomore. Every Kentucky player that has won the award in the past 15 years has been a top-35 pick in the next NBA draft, but Quickley may be the exception.

This season, Quickley played alongside Tyrese Maxey (#8 in our rankings) and Ashton Hagans (#40) who were both comfortable playing with the ball in their hands, allowing Quickley more time to roam free. However, that led to fewer playmaking opportunities for him, which resulted in a very poor 1.9-1.6 assist to turnover ratio. Given that Quickley is only 6-3, 188lb, his fit at the next level is questionable at best. He isn’t such an elite shooter like Myles Powell where you can run him around screens either.

With all that being said, the questions about Quickley revolve around where he plays, not if he can play. Should he improve as a playmaker, an NBA role starts to look much more clear.

Ashton Hagans and Marcus Garrett: Jump Shot

Both Ashton Hagans and Marcus Garrett played vital roles on two of the top college basketball teams this past season. Not only did they often handle playmaking duties for their squads, but they were two of the most elite on-ball defenders in the nation. They both led their conferences in assists per game and were top 5 in steals. Just looking at those two elements of their games, they are as good as they come in this draft class.

Now, if only they could shoot. Hagans’ major weakness is his three-point jumper, where he shot only 26.5% over his two years at Kentucky. Despite that, he actually showed decent ability from the line at 79%. On the flip side, Garrett bumped his three-point numbers up to a respectable 32.7% last season, but his career free-throw numbers rest at a poor 57.3%. Either way you slice it, these are two elite positional defenders with a knack for making plays and an inability to provide much scoring offensively.

With Hagans at 6’3 and Garrett at 6’5, any team that drafts them will be essentially looking at a guard who isn’t a scoring threat. In a league where shooting is king, that’s a tough sell. On the other hand, teams do need players to get the ball to shooters, and defend them on the other end. The odds aren’t quite in either of their favors, but both produced too well last season to not be considered in the second round.

Markus Howard: Three inches of height 

As a scorer, it’s very hard to deny Markus Howard’s dominance. Not only did he average at least 20 points a game throughout his sophomore, junior and senior seasons, but he led the entire nation in scoring last season at 27.8 a night. Adding to that, he shot 41.2% on a ridiculous 10.2 three-point shots a game. His scoring is so dominant, that career shooting splits end at 44.4/42.7/88.2. As a matter of fact, he is the only player in college basketball history to put up those shooting numbers while averaging over 20 points per game over his college career.

It seems like in most drafts, there is always that one player who is simply too little. Unfortunately, at 5-11, 180lb, Howard is that guy. If Howard were three inches taller and a little stronger, he would have left Marquette years ago. At the end of the day, he will struggle mightily defensively, and getting to the rim at the next level will be a challenge. Frequently, we discuss college production’s importance when it comes to translating to the NBA. When the case is the most gifted volume shooter college basketball has ever seen, the discussion is amplified.

Personally, I am in no position to tell whether Howard is draft-able or not. Notorious bucket-getter Lou Williams is only about two inches taller than Howard and has had an awesome career as a bench scorer. There is certainly a possibility that Howard reaches that level. If so, any team that grabs him in the mid-second round has made their team a whole lot better.

 

TIER SIX: TEAM “WHY AREN’T THEY TALKING ABOUT THEM ENOUGH?”

47. TYRELL TERRY, 6-1 G, STANFORD

48. TY-SHON ALEXANDER, 6-4 G, CREIGHTON

49. DANIEL OTURU, 6-10 C, MINNESOTA

50. MALACHI FLYNN, 6-1 G, SAN DIEGO STATE

51. DERRICK ALSTON JR., 6-9 F, BOISE STATE

52. MASON JONES, 6-5 G, ARKANSAS

53. YOELI CHILDS, 6-8 F/C, BYU

54. TYLER BEY, 6-7 F, COLORADO

55. SAM MERRILL, 6-5 G, UTAH STATE

56. KARIM MANE, 6-5 G, VANIER COLLEGE (CANADA)

57. ANTHONY LAMB, 6-6 F, VERMONT

58. LAMINE DIANE, 6-7 F, CAL STATE NORTHRIDGE

59. COLBEY ROSS, 6-1 G, PEPPERDINE

60. NATHAN KNIGHT, 6-10 F/C, WILLIAM AND MARY

Last up in this six-tier, three-part mock draft is arguably my favorite group. Sure, everyone loves to root for the lottery picks, potential stars in the NBA. However, there’s something to be said about the under-the-radar, high-quality players that stick around until the back half of drafts. Honestly though, should the NBA be able to conduct a combine, a few of these players may end up shooting up radars.

This group of players consists of a blend of types. Some, like Malachi Flynn, Daniel Oturu and Mason Jones put up big numbers under bright lights in college, but scouts question their ability to perform at the next level. Others, like Anthony Lamb, Colbey Ross and Nathan Knight were dominant, albeit at smaller schools, robbing them of the attention they deserve. Through all this, there are three players that intrigue me a ton. All three still keep college eligibility, and have tough choices to make over the coming weeks. Should they stay in the draft, they are some wild cards that have the potential to succeed at the next level.

Tyrell Terry

Terry, a freshman guard from Stanford, came in and impressed immediately in Palo Alto. After being ranked as only the 88th-best high school prospect in the nation coming into this season, he showed quickly that his rating was low. While his production was solid, and he was a major part in uplifting a struggling Cardinal program, there are still a few questions surrounding Terry’s game.

Why is he so low on the Big Board?

There were only three NBA players to play at least 10 games this season at under 175 pounds. That list consists of Tim Frazier (170), Dennis Schroder (172) and likely Rookie of the Year Ja Morant (174). Tyrell Terry on the other hand, weighs in at a measly 160. Simply put, Terry is extremely slim. His body type reminds me of Trae Young, who obviously hasn’t had issues in the NBA. The thing is, Terry doesn’t seem to have the body type to put on tons of weight either. Sure, everyone can get stronger, but Terry has narrow shoulders and a slim base, which doesn’t give him a ton of room to fill out.

So, what does this mean? I can only imagine being so light in the NBA is difficult, most especially on the defensive end. Statistically, Terry averaged 1.4 steals a game, plus a Defensive Win Share total that put him third in the Pac-12. Undoubtedly however, he’s going to get in trouble as an individual defender against better scorers. Beyond that, it will likely be a challenge for him to attack the rim at a high level. On one hand, the three aforementioned players near his weigh class are all tremendous drivers, but doubts still arise. Since Terry isn’t a natural scorer like others diminutive players in the draft such as Myles Powell and Markus Howard, Terry’s ability to penetrate and pass out is something he’ll need to be able to pull off against much larger players.

Why should he be drafted at all?

In short, Terry is a terrific basketball player. He shoots the ball at a very high level, plays with a ton of confidence, and always seems to be making the right play. In many ways he reminds be of fellow potential draftee from the Pac-12, Payton Pritchard. Terry is the type of player who can make any team, and any teammate better. He significantly elevated Stanford’s play as a freshman, and did so on relative efficiency. To be a team’s first scoring option as a freshman, in a power conference, is impressive in itself. To add on the fact he shot over 40% from deep and almost 90% from the line with over three assists per game is icing on the cake.

There’s no doubt that Terry is a dynamic basketball player. There is doubt about his frame holding up in the NBA. However, he’s smart defensively despite concerns, and has a ton to improve on offensively. His aim as an NBAer should be a JJ Barea type. Not going to dominate athletically, but will stay consistently making good decisions, and be able to effectively score. Add in his knack for finding teammates in good spots, and Terry has the makings of a ten-plus year NBA veteran coming off the bench.

Derrick Alston Jr.

Hiding away in the Mountain West Conference at Boise State, Derrick Alston had one of the quickest and most unexpected ascensions from virtual unknown to NBA draft prospect. He still has a long way to go in some aspects, but players with his combination of tools and production don’t come around too frequently. To add on the fact that his dad is an NBA veteran, Alston holds a ton of intrigue.

What makes Alston so intriguing?

When you look at Alston on the court, two things jump off right off the bat. One, he’s extremely skinny, weighing in at 188lbs on his 6-9 frame (He actually entered college at an unfathomable 148 pounds). Second, he is super long. His wingspan is unofficially over 7-foot, and when watching him play, it seems like an understatement. As a body type, he seems to stem from the Kevin Durant or Brandon Ingram tree. With that being said, given he’s already put on 40 pounds at Boise State, the hope is he can fill out some more. Should that be the case, the argument for Alston being a 3-and-D wing in the NBA is certainly valid.

Throughout his college career, Alston shot a respectable 35.7% from deep, as well as over 80% from the free throw line. However, beyond that, Alston has shown a ton of promise scoring from all levels. His meteoric rise from 0.6 PPG as a freshman, to 13.4 as a sophomore was capped off by 17.3 as a junior to finish fourth in the conference. With his length, Alston has shown strong touch around the rim. Being a solid offensive playmaker along with catch-and-shoot abilities only furthers his repertoire.

At the end of the day, one quick look at Alston on the court says it all. His natural abilities are evident, and you can’t teach the length he has. To top it off with his improved production at Boise says that he has a shot at the next level. Despite that, there still are questions about his game moving forward.

Why is he so low on the Big Board?

Much like Terry above, Alston needs to put on a ton of weight. He certainly knows this, and is no doubt working on it. At 6-9 with such long arms, he would really benefit from being able to slide over to the 4. Being a pick-and-pop threat and defending hybrid forwards could be a strength of his, but not at his current size. He was able to grab over five rebounds a game last season, but that also remains a concern.

The biggest issue in Alston’s game is his shooting mechanics. Take a look at his form in some of the clips below.

Alston seems to catapult his jumpers from above his head, resulting in a very slow motion. That may work with no defender, but shots off the dribble and with a contest may see mixed results. As mentioned, he shot 35.7% over his career, so he’s not a bad shooter by any stretch, but the concern about his release may be a slight deterrent when it comes to seeing that improve in the NBA.

That’s where the issue lies with Alston. He has the potential to be a lethal shooter if he tweaks his release. He also has the chance to be a lengthy multi-positional defender if he puts on weight. That, however is a ton of “ifs”. Banking on Alston to come through on those developments may be slightly risky. Then again, Alston developed so much in just three seasons in Boise that it may be unwise for scouts to bet against him as a solid second rounder.

 

Lamine Diane

Well, we’re here. 60 picks ranked, and 20 players highlighted. Hopefully you’ve followed along, because I think we’ve saved the best for last. Because oh my goodness, is Cal State Northridge forward Lamine Diane (pronounced La-meen Ja-nay) an interesting case. Diane played his two years in college in the Big West Conference, arguably the worst level of competition of any player ranked. However, his stats are simply insane. Two jump out right off the bat. First, he was sixth in the nation in scoring as a freshman two years ago, only to be beat out by finishing third this year! Second, there have only been two seasons in the past 25 years where a player has had such a high usage rate over 37%, and still grab at least 10 rebounds and two blocks per game. Lamine Diane,

…and Lamine Diane.

So why is Diane likely going to go undrafted?

A great question, is how a player who’s career averages sit at 25.1 PPG, 10.8 RPG, 2.1 BPG and 1.6 SPG fight for a draft spot. Surprisingly, there are actually many cases to be made against Diane. First, as mentioned before, he’s played an extremely weak schedule throughout his college career. In fact, he’s only ever played against one Power Conference school in his entire career. Albeit, that one game was against Washington State, not known for being a powerhouse necessarily. Naturally, Diane put up 32 and 18 with 5 blocks. Irregardless, he has never shown his talents in college against any top level competition, leaving a moderately sized asterisk over nearly all of his stats.

Second, his size is relatively concerning. One would think that with such gaudy rebound and block numbers that Diane would be massive, yet he stands at a conservative 6-7, 205lb. He’s long and can probably put on some weight, but it’s still a stretch to call him a power forward at this point. That brings up the third concern, his lack of shooting ability. Diane went only 23 for 79 from deep over the course of his college career, good for only a 29.1% clip. Even more concerning is his free-throw numbers, where he’s a career 58% shooter. Top it all off with the fact that he’s already 22, and the thought of developing him gets harder.

All in all, if you take the stats away, this is not a draft-able player. He’s never gone up against top competition. He’s very undersized at his position. To top it off, he’s a career non-shooter who has a mile to go until being a threat from deep. But those statistics…

What’s the case for teams giving him a shot in the draft?

Numbers are numbers, and Diane’s sure jump off the page. However, more than that, his game is tremendously unique. He mixes in post ups with breakaway dunks and ridiculously difficult fadeaway jumpers. It seems like his greatest move is the element of surprise. Check it out for yourself.

Funny, I do seem to recall a player with a unique game such as him. One who also migrated from West Africa (Diane is from Senegal), whose father’s basketball dreams pushed his own successes, and who dominated a low-major conference the same way Diane did. Oh, and he’s also an NBA Champion, All-Star, and future All-NBA forward.

Yes, Pascal Siakam seems to have a lot in common with Diane. In addition to those similarities, they’ve also had virtually the same knocks against them as prospects. Seriously, read these weaknesses in Siakam’s nbadraft.net scouting report.

Playing in a mid-major, it will be tougher to convince teams that his numbers were legitimate and not enhanced by the level of competition … Turned 22 in January so there is some question about his upside…His offensive game is a little unorthodox…Needs to add some upper body strength…he could stand to adjust his form some…

That sounds a whole lot like Diane to me. Now no, I’m not comparing them as carbon copies, and surely it’s unreasonable to expect Diane to reach the levels that Siakam’s climbed to at this point in his NBA career. But Diane’s strengths do compare to Siakam’s as well. They both use their length to their advantage on both ends, and benefit from tremendous footwork. Most importantly though, they both have tireless work ethics, and never seem to run out of steam on the court.

With all things considered, I don’t want to lessen Diane by proving his worth vicariously through Siakam. He is individually one of the most successful, yet polarizing draft prospects in a very long time. The only players to average at least 24.7 points, 10.1 rebounds, 2.0 blocks and 1.2 assists per game in one season in the last 25 years? Lamine Diane twice, and Kevin Durant. Yes, I could play these numbers games all day, but they all seek out to prove one point. Lamine Diane is damn good at basketball, and whichever NBA team picks him up is going to have the chance at getting someone special.

Follow us on Twitter @Draft_Lead for the latest NBA Draft news and insight.

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About Matthew Winick

Matthew Winick is an avid basketball fan both from the NBA side, as well as NCAA hoops. A native of Toronto, Ontario, he is a lifetime Raptors fan and is just now reaping the benefits. He is currently studying Sport Media at Ryerson University in Toronto, and hopes to be talking sports with the best of them in his future. You can reach him on any social media @matthewwinick.

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