2020 NBA Draft Big Board: An Almost-Too-Early Ranking of Next Year's Class
With the 2019 NBA draft in the books, it’s still early—but not too early—to officially move on to the next one. While we’ve spent some time discussing the 2020 talent over the past several months, this is our first pass at a Big Board, including the top 30 prospects to watch and track going forward into the summer.
Whereas the 2019 draft was viewed as top heavy from the outset, the 2020 class is generally considered to be thin overall, with a somewhat underwhelming freshman class joining the college ranks, and a stronger international class helping to bolster the pool. There were just five international-based players (meaning they came directly from overseas without college or G League time) among the first 40 selections last week; here, you’ll find five European-based prospects in the Top 30, not including American exports R.J. Hampton and LaMelo Ball, who are headed to Australia’s NBL next season.
It’s probably too early to make sweeping generalizations otherwise: there’s not a ton of excitement yet about the star power at the top of this class, which is somewhat lacking, but there’s also a very long way to go. So we’ll skip that dialogue and just get into it. Below is our first, early Big Board for the 2020 draft.
1. James Wiseman, C, Memphis | Freshman
Height: 7’1” | Weight: 245
Wiseman is more or less the consensus front-runner for the top pick at this very early stage, although his claim to the spot is rather tenuous and born more out of the current dearth of impressive candidates. That being said, it doesn’t take much to understand why he leads that conversation going into this summer. Wiseman is unnaturally mobile and athletic for his size, continues to develop well physically, and when he’s playing hard, he jumps off the page in every way. He can really run the floor and block shots, he’s skilled out to the three-point line, and he’s really just starting to tap into his ability in a lot of ways. He can improve as a finisher, particularly with his right hand, and he really refines his jump shot, there won’t be much he can’t do. Wiseman has the type of skill set that should hold appeal for both old- and new-school evaluators, even as the value and demands placed on centers continue to shift.
The key for Wiseman will be continuing to compete and produce on a consistent basis, an area in which he appears to have made some strides, but will be laid bare over the course of the season at Memphis. He’s long held a reputation for being somewhat lackadaisical, and he’s a bit of a muted on-court personality, which hasn’t helped shift perception. To be fair, competitive growth is often a process that takes time for extremely gifted bigs, and when the game stops coming as easily to him, he’ll be judged by teams on how he responds. Having an NBA-centric staff at Memphis should help, and he’ll have to be the bellwether on an inexperienced, freshman-heavy roster for the team to make real noise. If Wiseman turns in a strong freshman year, odds are he’ll hang onto this spot.
2. Anthony Edwards, G, Georgia | Freshman
Height: 6’4” | Weight: 215
Edwards is also considered to be in the running for the top spot, but based on his past six months or so, it may require him to hit the ground running on arrival in college. The context here is important: Edwards reclassified to become draft-eligible in 2020, played just three seasons at a small, independent high school (Atlanta’s Holy Spirit Prep) that’s far from a basketball factory, and as a result, he has some ground to make up between now and the draft. Physically, there’s zero question he’s college-ready, but he’s facing an extreme leap in competitive quality, he’ll be integrating as part of a young Georgia team, and he’ll be tasked with a lot of scoring responsibility and freedom. Feel-wise, it may not be something he’s quite ready for at the outset.
Situationally, this would seem to point toward some forthcoming inefficiency: Edwards is tough to stop in transition, where his speed, strength and explosiveness play up, and his flashes of playmaking vision are most applicable, but in the halfcourt game, he’s a work in progress. He has a tendency to settle for an awful lot of jump shots for a guy who’s built to attack the rim, and will have to refine his outside shooting and also shore up his ball-handling to maximize his ability to create shots for others. There’s some warranted trepidation from scouts with Edwards at the moment, but if you catch him on a good day, the upside is obvious. He can also be very good defensively, and should be able to stay with bigger and smaller guys on the perimeter when he wants to. Optimistically, Edwards takes a step forward, flashes his full range of skills, and makes a strong case for a top-three selection. But my gut feeling is that the range of outcomes for him feels somewhat wide going into the summer.
3. R.J. Hampton, PG, New Zealand Breakers
Height: 6’5” | Weight: 190
His decision to play for the Breakers next season grabbed headlines, and justifiably so. Moreover, Hampton will have an important platform to develop his game: he should be far enough out of the national spotlight to avoid some of the nitpicking, but his games will remain heavily scouted by NBA teams. High-level decision makers simply haven’t seen as much of him, due to the fact he reclassified and became 2020-eligible so late in the process. It’s worth noting that Hampton will be a major attraction for scouts this summer in Greece with Team USA at the U19 World Cup, a competition that begins June 29.
Hampton has a number of appealing qualities that point to legitimate NBA upside—he’s a strong improviser off the dribble, although more scoring-oriented than pass-first, and has ideal height for a lead guard. He’s gangly, but fluid, and if he can add some strength and improve his outside shooting a notch or two, he could be pretty difficult to stop early on in his career. Granted, that’s an optimistic lens based on a relatively small viewing sample, but his craftiness and overall playmaking upside is substantial. Hampton could quickly overtake Edwards as the top guard in this class—it’s already close—if all goes well with his professional adjustment. That said, expect him to take some lumps as a teenager playing against grown men in the NBL. He’s gifted enough end up in the mix very early in next year’s draft.
4. Theo Maledon, PG, ASVEL (France)
Height: 6’4” | Weight: 175
A savvy, high-IQ point guard with great size and versatility, Maledon will also be in the mix to be the first international player drafted—he has a case as the best prospect in Europe right now. He’s spent the past couple years as part of Tony Parker-owned ASVEL Basket, and has a chance to be the best French guard to come along since his mentor, who just retired from the Hornets after a 20-year NBA career. He cut his teeth with real minutes in Pro A and the Eurocup last season, and will have an even greater challenge as his team moves into the Euroleague next season. There’s some real buzz about him going into the summer, and his playmaking feel and quick first step have him on a clear trajectory to be a starting-caliber point guard in the NBA.
While Maledon isn’t crazily explosive, he does a good job of changing speeds and keeping defenders off balance to get penetration, with a comfortable handle and good understanding making reads using screens. His overall maturity has been lauded, and he’s earned a reputation for being cool under pressure as a decision-maker. He’s made big strides as a three-point shooter over the past year, and he’s a strong defender at either guard spot. At 18 years old, he’s already been included in France’s senior national team, and it’s reasonable to expect him to continue on the fast-track toward next year’s lottery. He is well ahead of the curve at the moment, and is in a strong development situation going forward.
5. Deni Avdija, G, Maccabi Tel Aviv (Israel)
Height: 6’8” | Weight: 210
Avdija is an exceptionally gifted playmaker who cemented his worth as a top prospect in this class with a strong showing at Basketball Without Borders back in February, winning MVP of the event and demonstrating an extremely advanced feel for passing, particularly for an 18-year-old. The hope is that he’ll get a bigger role with Maccabi’s senior team next season, and a better platform and greater challenge, but he’s good enough off the dribble at his size that it feels like point guard might be his best long-term position on offense. Avdija can pass with both hands and at different angles on the move, understands how to use ball screens, facilitates transition play naturally, and seems to be coming along at the right time, with NBA offenses fully embracing bigger, unorthodox playmakers, and with an emphasis on skill sets over traditional position structures.
Although Avdija isn’t a high-end athlete, he should at least be able to add a significant amount of upper body strength, and he has a good enough feel for team defense that he should be able to hold his own. He will have to improve as a finisher in traffic, but he’s good operating in space and can knock down set threes comfortably. He’ll have to continue improving his already-solid craft and change of pace off the dribble to survive in the faster-paced NBA, as he won’t get by purely on size or athletic ability. Regardless, Avdija is clearly one of the best players in his age group anywhere, and has the ability to be a strong all-around contributor at the NBA level down the line. In what’s shaping up to be a thin draft at the top, he has a chance to be one of the bigger prizes available if his growth continues.
6. Jaden McDaniels, PF, Washington | Freshman
Height: 6’10” | Weight: 185
After choosing to stay in Seattle and play for his hometown Huskies, McDaniels will take the court this fall with a good deal to prove. His senior year was up and down, but his potential is evident: he’s unusually fluid and smooth for a player his size, has legitimate skill and feel playing on the perimeter, and could be extremely impactful if he can transition smoothly to the college game. In high school, McDaniels was tasked with a lot of shot-creation responsibility and ball-handling duties, and while his role going forward might involve less of that, he has some natural skill as a passer that bodes well. Consistency has been an issue, particularly with his outside shot, but McDaniels should benefit from easier shot opportunities if creatively utilized at Washington.
McDaniels’ upside is substantial, but it’s tied on some level to how much functional strength and muscle he can put on—he’s naturally slender, similar to his older brother Jalen who starred at San Diego State but has also struggled to add strength on his way to turning pro and landing with the Hornets. Jaden is a more skilled offensive player and has more natural versatility than his brother, but there’s a looming physical adjustment that he’ll have to be prepared for. It helps that he doesn’t shy from contact and does play with some toughness and physicality, but the weight issue could be an impediment at some point, particularly if McDaniels’ offensive development stalls. He’s a promising prospect, at any rate, and one teams will be eager to check on in the fall.
7. Scottie Lewis, G/F, Florida | Freshman
Height: 6’5” | Weight: 180
A dynamic player at the high school level, Lewis has some clearly defined strengths and weaknesses right now, and it’s worth noting off the bat that he’ll turn 20 in March—he’s older than R.J. Barrett and Zion Williamson, for context, which puts him on an age curve with sophomores next season. He’s an elite run-and-jump athlete, excels in transition, and is an extremely aggressive, anticipatory defender with the versatility to guard all over the perimeter. Lewis is known as an intense, consistent competitor, and his intelligence and work ethic have been lauded around the high school circuit. His intangibles are very clearly going to help his case.
The biggest questionmark for Lewis going into the fall is his jump shot, which he has clearly tinkered with and gotten to a semi-workable place over the past couple years. His shooting ability is more a result of work than natural touch, and he doesn’t shoot a particularly clean ball at this point in his career. He’ll have to show improvement there and improve his skill level scoring in the halfcourt, particularly when he can’t get all the way to the rim. Still, Lewis’s overall feel is solid, and he has a pretty clear pathway to being a useful player as his offense develops. He should continue to hang his hat as a defensive stopper in the meantime, and will be a big part of a Florida team that should win a lot next season.
8. Isaiah Stewart, C, Washington | Freshman
Height: 6’9” | Weight: 250
Stewart hangs his hat on doing the dirty work, embracing the physical nature of his position with a well-documented competitive streak. He’s more of a high-floor player than someone you’re drafting as a future star, but his baseline value would seem to be attractive enough that he projects somewhat comfortably as a lottery pick at this very early stage. Stewart will have to continue remaking his body, as he’s naturally heavy-set and keeping weight off might be tricky, but he has the type of length and improving athletic ability to excel if he can manage it. He seems to know exactly where his strengths lie, as a rebounder, finisher and high-end glue guy. He’s developed his jump shot a bit, and there’s some hope Stewart can eventually space the floor a bit, too.
After repeat viewings, Stewart’s overall energy on the floor is hard to dislike—he’s a vocal communicator, finds a way to get his hands on nearly every 50-50 ball, and looks like he’ll be a tone-setting player off the bat at Washington. The Huskies’ 2-3 zone will mask some of the concerns scouts have with him as far as foot speed and defensive agility, but also plays directly to his strengths as someone who alters shots with his size and aggressiveness, but isn’t exactly flying to the rim all the time, either. Offensively, he can improve as a finisher, and will need to keep proving he has the skill level and touch to play in crowds and deal with athletes who can match his strength and intensity. Still, he figures to be a double-double threat right off the bat in college, and could eventually be that in the NBA, as well.
9. Nico Mannion, PG, Arizona | Freshman
Height: 6’3” | Weight: 180
Mannion’s stock took off a bit in NBA circles following a strong series of showings on the spring circuit, and while he’s not quite a sure thing, his upside as a playmaker is more evident than some expected. Dating back to a young age, Mannion has always had an exceptional decision-making feel with the ball in his hands. Now that he’s grown a bit, he’s working with legitimate size as a point guard, and his NBA bloodlines (his father, Pace, played six seasons in the 80’s) bode well for his continued physical development. Getting stronger is going to be imperative, but Mannion should be an instant-impact player at Arizona, and potentially the best point guard in the Pac-12.
Defensively, Mannion is also extremely active and savvy, and he’s unafraid to pressure ball-handlers and jump passing lanes to disrupt plays. He’ll have to add strength for that to matter much at the next level, but his natural approach on that end is a big bonus. He offers a nice mix of playmaking and scoring on offense, and while his three-point shooting could be more consistent, the jumper projects just fine right now. Mannion will be worth keeping an eye on early in the season, particularly when it comes to any physical development that takes place over the summer. It’s certainly no lock he ends up this high in the rankings, but he’s earned a spot here.
10. Cole Anthony, PG, North Carolina | Freshman
Height: 6’3” | Weight: 175
While Anthony has earned a lofty ranking in recruiting circles, there’s a strong divergence of opinion on him around the NBA at this point. The son of former NBA point guard Greg Anthony is very clearly college-ready, with a capacity for changing speeds, getting into the paint and finishing. He’s pretty polished as a scorer in spite of not being a physically overwhelming player in any way. He can be both smooth and explosive off the bounce, but his upper body is naturally small, and his listed 6’3” may be somewhat generous. Anthony plays an intense, downhill attacking style that can sometimes be to his detriment, but more often than not, it got the job done at the high school level. Clearly, he has the capacity to contribute in the NBA, but he’ll turn 20 before draft night next year, and still has some things to iron out over the next 12 months.
The big questions teams have here center around Anthony’s ceiling—he’s not a convincing outside shooter yet, his decision-making can be wild and over-aggressive, and he’s not naturally a pass-first player. When he’s focused on making teammates better, he’s certainly capable, but he’s earned a reputation for being very score-first, and he’ll have to address that and rein things in a bit at North Carolina, where he’ll have the ball in his hands nearly all the time. There are questions as to whether he’s the type of guard other people actually enjoy playing with. These are things Anthony can control, and if there’s a sudden sea change in terms of style of play, he’ll really help himself. Then again, it’s hard to assume that happens. He’s tracking as a lottery pick right now, but not without some trepidation.
11. Bryan Antoine, G, Villanova | Freshman
Height: 6’4” | Weight: 175
Antoine is one of the most dynamic athletes Jay Wright has ever recruited, and might end up as the first one-and-done draftee in Villanova history if his season goes well. He’s extremely thin and needs to mature a bit physically, and he’ll probably always be more on the wiry side with his body type, but he’s quick-twitch explosive, very rangy and plays hard on both ends of the floor. Right now, he’s best with the ball in his hands and is more of a straight-line attacker off the bounce, and if he can become craftier changing speed and direction off the dribble, his game could take off. If he can improve his outside shot, and add real strength, his slashing-oriented style will benefit. One factor to keep in mind with his growth is that Antoine is already on the older side of the spectrum for freshmen, and will turn 20 before next year’s draft. He recently had shoulder surgery, which is another thing to monitor.
12. Kahlil Whitney, G/F, Kentucky | Freshman
Height: 6’6” | Weight: 200
Although Whitney’s feel has not yet caught up to his tools, he’s an above-average athlete who certainly looks the part as a wing who plays hard and could be a high-level defender. It’s not quite clear what exactly he’s going to be yet role-wise at the next level, as he has a good bit of offensive development left to do, but Kentucky should be a good spot for him to grow in that regard. Whitney isn’t an overly confident jump shooter yet and doesn’t play the most efficient style, with a tendency to hunt shots when the gameflow breaks down, but without the skill level to do it in a manner that’s constructive. He’s a little bit in love with his jumper, despite having the quickness and strength to be a good finisher going downhill. But the upside is clearly there from an athletic standpoint, and it helps that Whitney generally plays hard. If he taps into his full potential on defense and works out some of his bad habits on offense, there might be something here.
13. Ayo Dosunmu, PG, Illinois | Sophomore
Height: 6’5” | Weight: 185
Dosunmu’s decision to return to Illinois was a big one—he had a chance to end up in the first round this year, but heads back to school in hopes of elevating a very average Illini team back to the NCAA tournament. His best games last season were extremely encouraging, and now that he’s going back, scouts will look for him to elevate his play on a nightly basis. Dosunmu is an unflashy, competitive lead guard who can make a positive impact on both ends of the floor without having to dominate the ball. His size is a big key here as well, particularly on defense, where he has a chance to be very impactful. The development of his jumper may determine whether he ends up this high in the draft, but Dosunmu’s commitment to playing the right way is going to help him. Teams will track his progress closely come fall.
14. Killian Hayes, G, Cholet (France)
Height: 6’5” | Weight: 185
A natural, creative ball-handler with great size who can score and playmake off the dribble, Hayes has built up a bit of buzz over the last couple years and is a good bet to end up somewhere in the first round next year. His jump shot is a concern, but he’s an unbelievable improviser with the ball in his hands, and does profile as a legitimate combo guard if things come together. He’s also a smart, savvy defender with the size to stick both backcourt spots. Hayes can be a little bit wild at times, and efficiency is going to be an ongoing question, but he’s yet to turn 18 and will be one of the younger players in the class. There won’t be a lot of players who can match his shiftiness and creativity, and if his three-point shooting can just get to a passable place, Hayes could see his stock take off.
15. Precious Achiuwa, F, Memphis | Freshman
Height: 6’8” | Weight: 210
Achiuwa has obvious NBA tools, but can be kind of a mixed bag offensively, and it’ll be intriguing to see what type of touches he’s given at Memphis and what he’ll do with them. At this stage, his lack of real offensive feel is a bit concerning, especially given the fact he’ll play his entire freshman year as a 20-year-old. He can overpower defenders on straight line drives and knock down open threes, and could be a solid defender with his length and agility. But Achiuwa’s tendency to hunt shots and pound the ball could be a real issue. There are scouts who are already intrigued by his upside, particularly in a draft that may end up somewhat thin. How he adjusts at Memphis and how efficient he can be there will be telling.
16. Tyrese Haliburton, G, Iowa State | Sophomore
Height: 6’5” | Weight: 170
We first listed Haliburton as a Top-30 player on the Big Board back in January, and while he made a wise choice returning to school to work on his body and his handle, he has legitimate early first-round potential if he can make the transition to being a full-time point guard. He’s an exceptionally intelligent and natural playmaker who facilitates within the flow of the game, and was the key to Iowa State’s offense running smoothly last season despite rarely attempting to score. His shooting mechanics need some work, and it’s unclear how much of a scorer he can be right now, but Haliburton’s innate knack for making decisions, blowing up plays on defense and contributing directly toward winning basketball is extremely rare. This is an optimistic ranking, banking on him taking the necessary steps forward to be more than just a very good role-playing off-guard, but it could also end up being too low if everything clicks. I’m willing to bet that it will.
17. Patrick Williams, SG, Florida State | Freshman
Height: 6’7” | Weight: 185
A big wing with a smooth, natural stroke from outside, Williams has obvious pro potential and has become a person of interest and potential one-and-done player going into the fall. He’s college-ready from a physical perspective and competes on both sides of the ball. The big sell is going to be his three-point shooting, which, as we’ve seen, tends to come at a premium in the draft. Williams has an obviously appealing mix of size and athleticism to work with as he fleshes out his secondary skill-set, and could end up rising a bit from here over the course of the next year with a strong season at Florida State.
18. Tyrese Maxey, SG, Kentucky | Freshman
Height: 6’3” | Weight: 190
Maxey is a tricky evaluation in that the bar is especially high for undersized two-guards in his mold to really stick in the NBA. He’s a very accomplished, savvy scorer and a fun player to watch, and there’s a place in the league for elite bucket-getters, but it’s not clear yet which direction it might break for him. He’s built fairly strong, can get downhill and finish comfortably with both hands, and can knock down shots off the catch and dribble. It’ll be curious to see how much of a playmaker Maxey can be for others this season, and if he can sell anyone on being more than just a scorer. But the natural talent is there.
19. Josiah James, PG, Tennessee | Freshman
Height: 6’6” | Weight: 200
James is an big ball-handler and all-around contributor with obvious pro potential. He may have already maxed out a bit physically, and the next step will be harnessing those tools better on both ends. His size, strength and passing feel are all impressive, but he’s not a terrific outside shooter, and his overall consistency levels can improve. James is a grab-and-go threat who thrives facilitating transition play. He’ll be pushed more skill-wise playing in the SEC, and if he does take a big step forward, the lottery should be within reach. Tennessee will need a lot from him.
20. Amar Sylla, PF, Real Madrid (Senegal)
Height: 6’9” | Weight: 190
Though Sylla is far from a finished product, his length, physical tools and flashes of IQ and skill point to some real two-way upside, and he’s someone teams will track closely. Sylla spent last season with Real Madrid’s B team, and showed long-term intrigue in February at Basketball Without Borders camp in Charlotte. He’s more of a face-up four right now, with handling and passing ability, natural strength and explosiveness going to the rim and real potential using his length on the defensive side. Sylla also has some shooting touch that adds intrigue. As teams search for versatile forwards in the Pascal Siakam mold, his name will inevitably come up in conversation, and with a strong year, he could end up playing his way in to the lottery.
21. Trendon Watford, F, LSU | Freshman
Height: 6’8” | Weight: 225
A scoring-oriented face-up forward, Watford will immediately bolster LSU up front with his versatility. He’s long with an impressive set of physical tools, but is just an average athlete, placing emphasis on his skill development and an imperative on him becoming a plus shooter from outside. Right now, he’s a little inconsistent in that area. Watford handles the ball well and has enough of a feel to compensate for his lack of explosiveness, but the big question here is how well his skill set as a ball-stopping forward is going to translate into what will likely be a complementary role in the NBA. Watford also comes with some questionmarks defensively. Still, he should rack up enough points and counting stats next season at LSU to figure into the one-and-done mix in a real way.
22. Malcolm Cazalon, SG, JL Bourg (France)
Height: 6’6” | Weight: 185
Completing the trio of French guards that could end up in the first round is Cazalon, a crafty, athletic scorer with physical potential who can already get downhill off the dribble pretty effectively. He can finish creatively in the paint, will make the extra pass, and could conceivably become a useful secondary playmaker with continued growth. Cazalon has more of a mechanical-looking set shot right now, and whether or not he’ll develop a trustworthy pull-up game will be a swing factor for him. He’s naturally aggressive and has the tools to be a very good defender, as well.
23. Josh Green, SG, Arizona | Freshman
Height: 6’5” | Weight: 200
By my estimation, Green plateaued a little bit over the course of the past year, to the point where a lottery projection seems somewhat optimistic, but he’ll be relied on a lot at Arizona, where we should get a better much feel for where he’s at. He doesn’t have a ton of holes in his game, but he struggles sometimes by dint of being passive. When he’s engaged, Green is a plus defender and transition player, and he’s a good athlete, but sometimes he leaves you wanting a little bit more.
24. Jordan Nwora, F, Louisville | Junior
Height: 6’7” | Weight: 220
Nwora chose to return to Louisville after injuries hampered his predraft process somewhat, but should have a chance to play his way into the first round of next year’s draft if he keeps on his current trajectory. As a big forward who can really shoot and also adds something as a rebounder, Nwora has an obvious NBA role-player skill-set that should be of use to most teams. He will have to continue improving his body and his skills playing off the bounce, and may never be a great defender, but the three-point shooting is going to play at the next level and will earn him an opportunity. It’s also possible Nwora isn’t even the best pro prospect on his team next year: Louisville freshman Samuell Williamson isn’t ranked here, but may eventually play his way into the one-and-done conversation.
25. Vernon Carey Jr., C, Duke | Freshman
Height: 6’10” | Weight: 270
Carey is the only Duke player on this initial list—we’ll take a wait-and-see approach with Tre Jones, Wendell Moore and Matthew Hurt—but Carey’s mix of skill and size make him the most intriguing Blue Devil right now. He has questions to answer about his foot speed and defensive capabilities, and there’s some sense among scouts that he’s the type of big who may be going slightly out of style at the moment. But Carey is a strong rebounder with some legitimate versatility on offense, and should effectively anchor Duke’s frontcourt. If he can get into peak shape, there’s probably more ability left for him to unlock.
26. Jahmius Ramsey, G, Texas Tech | Freshman
Height: 6’3” | Weight: 190
It’s possible Ramsey follows in the footsteps of Zhaire Smith and Jarrett Culver and becomes Texas Tech’s latest under-the-radar guard prospect. He’s a well-built ball-handler with thick shoulders and some natural explosiveness. Noting the college program he chose, expect him to defend, and defend a lot. His body type and tough-minded approach are appealing from a long-term perspective, and he does a good job of finishing through contact. He’ll have to keep refining his off-dribble game, jump shot, and playmaking, but Ramsey has a good base skill set and should be impactful out of the gate.
27. LaMelo Ball, G, Ilawarra Hawks
Height: 6’6” | Weight: 165
The youngest Ball brother will play in the NBL next season, which will be a good test of his maturity and a nice showcase for what’s actually a pretty appealing profile. It’s going to be a sink-or-swim type year for him, but he’s legitimately quite skilled and has good size for a ball-handler. Ball is much more scoring-oriented than his older brother Lonzo, but also has a playmaking element to his game off the dribble, and will come with enough intrigue that teams will be watching him closely. This could go so many different directions from here, but Ball’s ability makes him worth tracking.
28. Neemias Queta, C, Utah State | Sophomore
Height: 7’0” | Weight: 230
Queta returning to Utah State has made them an obvious, trendy sleeper team going into the fall, and his shot-blocking and rebounding skills project to be NBA-caliber in time. Queta’s offensive skill level is still a work in progress, but he’s made real strides in that area and has a chance to be one of the better two-way bigs in this draft class. If he can space the floor out to three on a consistent basis and keep his production up, the first round is within reach. He’s on his way to being the first Portuguese NBA player.
29. Ochai Agbaji, SG, Kansas | Sophomore
Height: 6’5” | Weight: 210
Quietly, Agbaji built a case as Kansas’s best pro prospect last season, with his athleticism and toughness making him a nice complementary piece after redshirting the first part of the season. The hope is that he takes another step forward. He has above-average strength and body control going downhill, and some touch shooting from outside—he should be featured more this season, which should give a better sense of what he can really do offensively. The base tools and skill set are there for Agbaji to make a big impact.
30. Kai Jones, C, Texas | Freshman
Height: 6’10” | Weight: 195
From Jarrett Allen to Mo Bamba to Jaxson Hayes, Texas continues to churn out NBA-caliber centers, and Bahamian import Jones may follow in their footsteps. It’s possible he’s more of a two-and-done type player given how much muscle he still needs to add, but Jones is a gifted rim-runner and explosive leaper who can finish, block shots, and has some touch stepping out to shoot the ball. He’s still tapping into his full range of abilities, and has obvious pro potential. If Jones is ready to help the Longhorns right away, his timetable may accelerate quickly.