The NBA draft will follow close on the heels of the playoffs, with a scheduled date of Oct. 16, just three days after a potential Game 7 of the Finals. Today we’ll be looking at NCAA expert Rob Dauster’s rankings for prospects in the 11-20 range. If you missed the top-10, cream-of-the-crop edition, click here to check that out. This late-lottery and beyond range has, as usual, plenty of unknown upside and ‘what if?’ type guys. Fortunately, Rob brings a deep familiarity with college hoops to cut through the fog with clear-eyed analysis of players’ strengths and weaknesses.
For context, here is the existing draft-order picture for all 30 teams (subject to change, depending on what happens in Orlando):
Odds of Top-4
Odds of #1 pick
Golden State Warriors
New York Knicks
San Antonio Spurs
New Orleans Pelicans
Portland Trail Blazers
Oklahoma City Thunder
Los Angeles Lakers
With those tentative draft odds in mind, let’s look at Rob’s prospects in the 11-20 range.
11. Saddiq Bey, Villanova
Details: 21 years old, 6-foot-8, 216 lbs
Key Stats: 16.1 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 2.4 apg, 45% 3PT
Saddiq Bey is another guy that I would want to be higher than anyone on, because I think that he has a chance to be one of the best players to come out of this 2020 NBA Draft. Bey is something of a late-bloomer. He’s was a 6-foot-1 guard when he was a sophomore, and according to the Villanova coaching staff, he has actually grown an inch or two since he arrived on campus. He’s listed at 6-foot-8 and may be closer to 6-foot-9 by the time it’s all said and done.
Bey’s shooting ability speaks for itself. He hit 45 percent of his threes while shooting more than five per game, and he finished in the 98th percentile nationally in spot-up shooting, according to Synergy. He has shown some playmaking ability, and while he’s not much of an off-the-dribble shooter at this point in his development, he is capable of playing as the handler in ball-screen actions. Most importantly, as we have seen with the wings that have come out of the Villanova program of late, they just know how to play. You won’t see the floor there if you don’t, and given the fact that Bey was asked to be the do-it-all point guard on his high school team, he has experience being more than just a scorer.
But the thing that has really stood out about Bey since he arrived on the Main Line is his ability to defend. He’s the best defender in the program, and while Villanova has not always been known for how they guard, they were the second-best defensive team in the Big East behind Seton Hall, who had a top-eight defense nationally. They’ve put him on lightning-quick point guards like Devon Dotson and Kamar Baldwin, and Villanova’s tendency to switch means that Bey has spent plenty of time guarding bigs as well.
So, what we have here is a multi-positional defender who shoots the cover off the ball and can be a playmaker off the bounce. I think he’s just as good of a prospect as Mikal Bridges, Donte DiVincenzo, Eric Paschall and Josh Hart, and all four of those guys have turned into players that will last in the NBA for a while. Bey is next in line.
Fantasy Outlook: In the first edition of our NBA Prospects column series, I focused on where players might end up based on team needs and likely draft position. We don’t have a set draft order and there are too many variables to continue down that path, so instead I’ll be looking at fantasy outlooks, good and bad. For Bey, the fantasy ceiling likely boils down to whether he can fill out the ‘supporting stats’ that constitute such a critical part of 8- and 9-cat values. As a sophomore with Villanova he averaged a solid 16.1 points on 47.7% shooting, including the lights-out marks from deep that Rob referenced – 2.5 triples on 5.6 attempts (45.1%). The downside is that in 33.9 minutes per game, he managed only 2.4 assists, 0.8 steals and 0.4 blocks. While the assists could rise with the ball in his hands more than he’s seen it in college, that’s not a guaranteed prospect in the NBA by any means.
12. Cole Anthony, North Carolina
Details: 20 years old, 6-foot-3, 190 lbs
Key Stats: 18.5 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 4.0 apg, 35% 3PT
I’m torn on Cole as a prospect. On the one hand, I love everything about the way he is wired. He’s tough, confident and competitive, the ultimate alpha. He’s a worker that will put in the hours in the gym. Given the way he grew up, he’s not going to be intimidated by anything. In an era where draft prospects are quitting their teams, what they call “shutting it down” midseason once they’ve earned a spot near the top of the lottery, Cole fought back from a knee injury that required surgery. He got back on the court and fought with his team despite the fact that they really didn’t have much left to play for during the season.
I respect that. If I’m an NBA GM, I want players wired that way.
The problem with Cole is the way that he plays. He’s tough and athletic, but given his average height and length, he’s more or less going to have to guard point guards at the next level. I’m not sure he’s quite good enough to be the guy in the NBA that he has been throughout his college career. He plays like Russell Westbrook, a hyper-kinetic athlete that is a streaky, sometimes inefficient shooter with a limited passing range that has a habit of dribbling the air out of the ball and shooting his team out of games on off nights. He’ll be 20 years old by the time he’s drafted. How much more room is there for him to change?
What I will say is this: Anthony did become a better passer later in the season, as he gained more confidence in his teammates and after he went through a stretch where he was shooting the Tar Heels out of games. That’s a good sign, but I still have my doubts.
Fantasy Outlook: I can’t say I’m excited about Anthony’s prospects as a fantasy player, particularly as a rookie. The learning curve for point guards in the NBA is already steep, and as Rob points out, Anthony isn’t exactly an ace passer – he averaged 4.0 assists vs. 3.5 turnovers for UNC. That’s already a glaring red flag, compounded by his lackluster shooting. Even if he lands in an ideal situation with a team willing to turn him loose, high-volume shooting/scoring wouldn’t necessarily be a good thing for fantasy purposes. After all, he shot just 38.0% from the field against college opponents. It wasn’t all because he bombed away from deep, either, as he went 40.2% on two-pointers. Throw in mediocre 75.0% at the FT line, and Anthony’s outlook gets even shakier. I’m intrigued to see how his game develops, and don’t discount him as an eventual impact player in the NBA, but I’ll be passing him by in fantasy drafts.
13. Precious Achiuwa, Memphis
Details: 20 years old, 6-foot-9, 225 lbs
Key Stats: 15.8 ppg, 10.8 rpg, 1.9 bpg, 1.1 spg, 33% 3PT
The biggest question mark for me when it comes to Achiuwa is whether or not he is going embrace what he actually is. For my money, he’s something of a poor man’s Bam Adebayo, a big man that can be used at the four and, ideally, as a small-ball five. He plays hard, he has a 7-foot-2 wingspan and he’s proven himself as a rebounder. He also has some perimeter skill, and he did make some threes this season. There’s a market for that in the NBA, and it’s a role Achiuwa should be able to thrive in.
But is that what he wants to be? Or does he think that he’s a three? The potential is there for Achiuwa to be effective as a face-up forward against bigger, slower centers. I’m not sure the same can be said for him as a three. Remember, Achiuwa will turn 21 years old before he plays in his first NBA game. He was a freshman this season and he is just two months younger than Kaleb Wesson, who was a junior. If Achiuwa embraces who he is, he has a long and profitable basketball career in front of him.
Fantasy Outlook: A player turning 21 prior to playing an NBA game is a negative factor in reality, as teams may view him as possessing less ‘untapped upside’ than a younger player. For fantasy purposes, though, older players are often more prepared for the rigors of the NBA than their younger compatriots – physically, if nothing else. Achiuwa only needed 30.4 minutes per game to average a strong 15/10 double-double with excellent defensive numbers at 1.9 blocks and 1.1 steals. Whether or not he can consistently hit 3-pointer will go a long way toward determining his ultimate role in the NBA, but he can always hang his hat on defense. Among all qualifying NCAA players last year, Achiuwa ranked second in Defensive Rating (behind only Jay Huff from Virginia) and second in Defensive Win Shares (behind Juvaris Hayes from Merrimack). That could catch the attention of a team like the Blazers, who desperately need defense and project as a team picking in the late lottery. For boards and defensive stats alone, I have him on my board as a sleeper.
14. Kira Lewis Jr., Alabama
Details: 19 years old, 6-foot-3, 165 lbs
Key Stats: 18.5 ppg, 5.2 apg, 4.8 rpg, 1.7 spg, 37% 3PT
Lewis checks a lot of boxes. He’s young for a sophomore — he enrolled at Alabama as a 17-year old and won’t turn 19 until April — and he put up huge numbers for an Alabama team that is built to run, run, run and shoot nothing but threes and layups. He also shot 37 percent from three for the second consecutive season. He’s slender, he’s turnover prone and part of the reason he produced as much as he did this season was because of the pace that Alabama played at. He’s worth a first round pick, especially considering his age.
Fantasy Outlook: It’s always worth watching how players react to larger roles. Some players may be thrust into the spotlight and produce more counting stats with higher volume, yet their efficiency suffers as a result – poor shot selection and increased defensive attention are common culprits. Not so for Lewis. His usage rose to 24.3% as a sophomore and he scored 5.0 more points per game, yet also improved his FG percentage (45.9%), 3-point percentage (36.6%) and FT percentage (80.2%). He improved his playmaking with 5.2 dimes per game, and added a respectable 1.8 steals and 0.6 blocks…all of which suggests solid fantasy potential. If he can create more shots for himself, tamp down the turnovers, and add some muscle to his frame, I’m rather enamored with Lewis’ potential in the right situation.
15. Patrick Williams, Florida State
Details: 18 years old, 6-foot-8, 225 lbs
Key Stats: 9.2 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 32% 3PT
The numbers look fairly pedestrian, admittedly, but putting them in context is important: Williams was coming off the bench for a Florida State team that goes 11 deep and gives everyone pretty equal minutes. No one ever puts up huge numbers in a Leonard Hamilton program. What they do is incubate players that project as role guys in the league. At 6-foot-8, Williams is a terrific athlete and a burgeoning defender and that can protect the rim and guard out on the perimeter when needed. And while the shooting stroke was somewhat inconsistent this past season, the potential is there — he did shoot 84 percent from the free throw line this year.
Fantasy Outlook: The defensive versatility Rob alludes to is critical in today’s NBA, where teams are increasingly willing to switch everything. He shot just 32.0% from deep as a freshman, a number that likely needs to improve if he’s going to be a 3-and-D type forward. I’m intrigued by his per-40-minute steals (1.8) and blocks (1.8), but of course he’ll be lucky to crack an NBA rotation as a rookie, let alone play 25+ minutes. Another knock is his rebounding numbers, which are rather paltry – 7.1 boards per 40 minutes, with a Total Rebound Rate of just 10.5%. Not enough jumps out at me here to put him on my fantasy draft board.
16. Aaron Nesmith, Vanderbilt
Details: 20 years old, 6-foot-6, 213 lbs
Key Stats: 23 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 52.2% 3PT, 8.2 3PAs
Again, this one is pretty simple for me. Nesmith is a 6-foot-6 wing with a 6-foot-10 wingspan that was shooting a ridiculous 52.2% from three while taking more than eight threes per game before suffering a foot injury that ended his season. He’s not the most explosive athlete, but he was one of the most improved players in the country before he got hurt. I’m willing to take a bet on a guard with those measurables when he’s a hard enough worker to go from 33.7 percent shooting as a freshman to this. That’s the kind of leap that Buddy Hield made heading into his senior season. Nesmith is just a sophomore.
That said, Hield won at a significantly higher clip than Nesmith did, and Hield did it against Big 12 competition. Nesmith’s season was cut short before he really got into the teeth of SEC play. But I’d be willing to roll the dice on his shooting carrying him to a role in the league.
Fantasy Outlook: Nesmith had a True Shooting percentage of 68.5% as a sophomore, which is simply fantastic. His usage was up at 26.3% and yes, as Rob points out, this came against relatively weak competition. Still, you can’t ignore a guy with Nesmith’s innate shooting ability (52.2% from deep on 8.2 attempts per game!), especially when he has the potential to chip in a bit across the board – his 6’10” wingspan and solid defensive fundamentals helped him pick up 1.4 steals and 0.9 blocks per game. Shooting never goes out of style in the NBA, and even if he evolves into ‘only’ a 3-and-D guy, teams like the Spurs, Magic, Nets or Grizzlies could snag him – they’re all within the appropriate draft range.
17. Josh Green, Arizona
Details: 19 years old, 6-foot-6, 210 lbs
Key Stats: 12.0 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 36% 3PT
Green is a consistent jumper away from being a guy that can stick in the league as a role player for a decade. He’s really athletic, he’s terrific in transition and he’s a willing defender that gives effort. He can be coached up on that end. But he was limited as a scorer in the half court — 1.19 PPP in transition vs. 0.825 in the half court — and part of that is due to the fact that he shot just 33.3 percent on jumpers in halfcourt offense.
Fantasy Outlook: Rob highlighted the most salient weakness in Green’s game – a near-total lack of offensive creativity. I haven’t seen nearly enough of Green to make this comparison with confidence, but he strikes me as a best-case Andre Roberson. Someone who can guard three (perhaps four) positions when called upon, and a guy you hope can make catch-and-shoot triples while keeping defenses honest with cutting action. A solid role-player in the NBA? Sure, but I don’t see fantasy appeal.
18. Tyrese Maxey, Kentucky
Details: 19 years old, 6-foot-3, 198 pounds
Key Stats: 14.0 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 3.2 apg, 29% 3PT
Taking a risk on Maxey this high in the 2020 NBA Mock Draft means betting on the fact that his 29 percent three-point shooting as a freshman has more to do with adjusting to the college level than it does his actual shooting ability. Coming through high school, Maxey had the reputation for being a big-time scorer because of his ability to make deep jumpers off the bounce and because of the way that he can finish around the rim with a variety of floaters and layups.
And while he would show flashes of being the dominant scorer Kentucky needed him to be, the Wildcats late-season surge was a direct result of Immanuel Quickley’s improvement, not Maxey finding consistency. We spent the entire season saying, “Just wait until Maxey finds his stroke,” and he never really did. He needs to be able to make that shot because the rest of his game is somewhat limited. He’s not a natural creator, he’s wired to score more than anything else, and he certainly isn’t an elite athlete by NBA combo-guard standards, although he is a pretty good on-ball defender. He’s also a worker, and by all accounts a great kid and competitor. I think there’s a real chance his ceiling is as a second-unit scorer, but if it all comes together, I can see him putting together a career on par with Lou Williams.
Fantasy Outlook: I love that Rob brings perspective dating back to a player’s high school experience. If you’re not yet following Rob, you should be, and you can find him here on Twitter. The deeper we get into the theoretical draft, the more reliant I am upon his impression of prospects, and the best-case comparison with Lou Williams was an eye-opener. Maxey actually has two inches on Sweet Lou, but it’s worth noting that Maxey’s 29.2% shooting from deep in his lone year with Kentucky would be worse than any of Williams’ 15 NBA seasons – barring his rookie year. There’s always a learning curve. The questions for fantasy owners are often, ‘How steep will the learning-curve be?’ and ‘Will this player’s team give them the leeway necessary to learn on the job?’ Assuming he’s picked just outside the lottery, we’re often talking about borderline playoff teams drafting young talent with the goal of slowly developing and integrating them, not turning them loose. He shot 29.2% from deep as a freshman, with a meager 3.2 assists and 0.9 steals in 34.5 minutes per game, so I’m not eager to have Maxey on my squads in re-draft leagues.
19. Tre Jones, Duke
Details: 20 years old, 6-foot-3, 185 lbs
Key Stats: 16.2 ppg, 6.4 apg, 1.8 spg, 36.1% 3PT
Jones is a really good passer, a terrific defender and the kind of point guard that checks all the cliché boxes about being a winner, a leader and a facilitator. He was the ACC Player of the Year and the ACC Defensive Player of the Year. His box score numbers were impressive, and his impact on basketball games goes well beyond the box score.
But more importantly, his jump shot showed real, tangible improvement. Jones made 36 percent of his threes and shot four of them per night. In catch-and-shoot situations, he made 40 percent of his jumpers and hit them at a 1.18 points-per-possession clip (or a 59% eFG, which was in the 82nd percentile nationally). His pull-up game isn’t there yet, but if he went from being a guy that teams flat-out did not guard beyond 12 feet as a freshman to a 36 percent shooter as a sophomore, who’s to say his pull-up game won’t be next?
If Jones never gets any better, if this is who he is for the rest of his basketball career, he’s a backup point guard in the league until he doesn’t want to play anymore. If he continues to develop his shot, however, he could end up being a starting point guard. I find it hard to believe this kid isn’t going to keep getting better. In a draft like this, that’s great value this late.
Fantasy Outlook: I can see a team like the Jazz drafting Jones. They project as the No. 24 pick based on current draft-lottery odds, and could slot Jones into a backup-PG role where he’d develop behind Mike Conley for the next few years, before potentially taking over as a starter. That’s assuming (as Rob highlights) that his shooting continues to improve. In an expanded role for Duke as a sophomore, Jones managed to improve his FG% to 42.3%, including a huge leap in 3-pointers (from 26.2% to 36.1%). He added 6.4 assists, 4.2 rebounds and 1.8 steals, displaying relatively well-rounded production that bodes well for fantasy value. The Magic are another team that might swipe him outside the lottery – D.J. Augustin is an unrestricted free agent, and adding Jones would give them some insurance in case Markelle Fultz doesn’t pan out as a full-time starting PG. Even in a best-case scenario, though, I think Jones will struggle to make a fantasy impact as a likely backup during his rookie campaign.
20. RJ Hampton, New Zealand
Details: 19 years old, 6-foot-5, 188 lbs
Key Stats: 9.5 ppg, 2.5 apg, 1.3 spg, 31.7% 3PT
Hampton is a kid that has quite a bit of potential, but he’ll need time to develop at the next level. He’s a 6-foot-5 guard that can play on or off the ball, but needs to continue to develop his ball-handling and his perimeter jumper to be able to do either at the NBA level. He has the length, quickness and athleticism to be able to defend either backcourt spot in time, but he is something of a late-bloomer that needs to put on some weight and strength. He’ll try defensively, too, but he needs to be coached up. Again, that will come with time.
The biggest concern I have with Hampton — who played this past season in Australia — is that I’m not sure if he has an elite skill yet.
Fantasy Outlook: That’s a lot of caveats for a first-round pick, and it’s safe to conclude that Hampton isn’t likely to help fantasy owners in his first NBA season. The defensive shortcomings are a staple of every scouting report on Hampton, and that alone could be enough to keep him in the G League for long stretches.