We’re a few weeks into conference play, some prospects have proven their worth while others continue to leave evaluators scratching their heads. I felt like I had a lot to catch up on while writing volume two, so I’m hoping to get these out more frequently as the season goes on. Again, I truly can’t thank everyone in the Draft community enough for supporting my content, it means a lot. Hope you enjoy Vol. 2.
Killian Hayes, Skyrocketing Overseas
Earlier in the process, I think I was missing the forest for the trees with Hayes. While his posture and footwork still remain valid concerns, his overall improvement on that end and flashes of team-defense brilliance have made it much easier to come around. Hayes was atrocious shooting from deep with Cholet last year, but has made serious strides in efficiency and confidence during his time in Germany. He has always been very effective from the free throw line, so there was real optimism that Hayes would eventually find his deep ball.Late in a close game, Hayes shows off some serious footwork and knocks down the jumper. Although it’s still early, the French guard has put out encouraging returns (39% on 41 attempts from three). His jumper has been fun to watch, but his real value comes from his wizard-like passing from everywhere on the court. In a class full of great passers with elite IQ, Hayes’ recent play has set him apart. He has been able to run a heavy dose of P&R with Ulm, passes like these are tailor-made for today’s NBA game. His touch while passing off the live dribble has always been impressive, but his ability to see over the defense and anticipate rotations at 6’5” is what truly sets him apart. His lack of burst has reared its head in the half court, but Hayes has impressed finishing through contact at the rim. Some skeptics are quick to note his high turnover rate, but similar to LaMelo Ball, most of his turnovers come from creativity rather than lack of feel. I’m much more content with the former, they can be reeled in with maturity and experience. The latter is far more concerning because of how fast the NBA game is, if you can’t make good decisions at the amateur level you can’t expect to turn it around at the highest rank.
Josh Green, Making Plays
As most of you know I’m a big Nico Mannion fan, but his close friend, former AAU teammate and fellow Wildcat has been extremely impressive recently. This class lacks the offensive-potent wings that come at a premium in today’s game, but it does have a solid group who will be conducive to winning. Josh Green likely doesn’t have star-equity, limited by his lack of shot-creation and overall wonky mechanics. However, Green’s median outcome as an effective player who thrives in transition, guards multiple positions at a high level, brings positive energy any night and can (hopefully) become an average catch and shoot shooter, is good value in the range he’ll likely be drafted in.His winning intangibles are on display here, as he reads the steal and finishes around the defense to give Arizona the lead. Green’s swing skill will definitely be his three point shot, but he still provides a ton of value in other facets of the game. His game revolves around top-tier athleticism, both laterally and vertically. Green is an absolute joy to watch on defense, he is one of the best at sliding with his man, beating him to the spot, taking the bump and holding his ground. His verticality really pops in the open floor where Green is a graceful leaper. He ranks in the 86th percentile in transition offense, which can largely be attributed to his ability to speed running the floor and strength to finish at the rim. One thing that jumps out every time I watch Green is his energy. He is always engaged on both sides of the ball and is constantly looking to impact the game in a positive way. With Green likely becoming a role player at the next level, this consistent approach to the game is a huge feather-in-his-cap and will help him find his niche in the league.
The Top Spot Is (Almost) Up For Grabs
Anthony Edwards was my clear cut number one coming into the season, but he’s been off to a rocky start. Other than a second half explosion against Michigan State in November, Edwards has mostly struggled with efficiency, decision-making and engagement. Given his frame and explosiveness, Edwards just simply isn’t getting to the rim enough. In my latest big board update, I mentioned how his shot-making ability is a double-edged sword and that’s been extremely evident as of late. Edwards’ tendency to settle for contested pull-up jumpers instead of attacking the basket is very frustrating to watch. 38.2% of his shooting possessions result in jump-shots off the dribble while only 24.1% are rim attempts. I’m a huge proponent of pull-up gravity but those percentages are just simply unacceptable for someone with his tools. At 6’6” 225 he’s the epitome of a “Power Athlete,” Edwards should be setting up a tent to live at the rim, but the opposite is occurring.The flashes are still incredible, this step-back three is absolutely filthy. When he’s engaged on defense, Edwards does a lot of good things on that end. His wingspan/quick twitch athleticism allow him to disrupt passing lanes and his vertical pop occasionally results in a weak side block, but again, they’re just flashes. In the film breakdown with ESPN’s Mike Schmitz, I was very encouraged by how self-aware Edwards was of his strengths and weaknesses. He knew all the forced takes and defensive miscues, but actions speak louder than words. He still has a slight lead at the top but eventually the benefit of the doubt will run its course. In this class, someone with Anthony Edwards’ tools and skillset should be the clear number one, but if he can’t bring it every single night it leaves the door wide open.
Isaac Okoro, Consistently Beasting
I posted a thread a few weeks ago explaining the value in this class. The long and the short of it is this: the 2020 Draft lacks star equity, so high floors and reliable median outcomes become more valuable, that’s where Isaac Okoro comes into play. I have Okoro 6th on my current board, but I genuinely can’t fault the people that have him 2nd. His combination of physical tools and advanced basketball IQ are extremely rare, and make him a prime candidate to be a legit wing-stopper at the next level. Okoro’s game is similar to a science project in middle school. On the surface, he’s already impressive, but when you put him under a microscope, the little things are absolutely fascinating. The closer you dig in, the more impressive he is. His defensive versatility at 6’6” 230 jumps off the page. Okoro has the quickness to cut off Kira Lewis on the perimeter and the strength to bang with forwards in the post, there’s nothing he can’t do on that end. His offensive impact is obviously the question mark, but I’ve actually been pretty pleased with his play so far.Because of his strength and coordination, Okoro is an elite finisher around the rim, landing in the 90th percentile. Here, he reads the hard closeout, takes the contact and contorts to convert the and-one. His IQ on defense translates to the offensive side of the ball as well, Okoro has made a living off of cuts, knowing exactly when and where to exploit the defense. While the step back threes are encouraging flashes, I’ve been most impressed by his live dribble passing, which has been consistent and precise. In his high school tape, Okoro regularly made impressive drop-offs — normally out of the post — and always made split-second decisions. With that being said, it’s not necessarily a surprise to see him take his passing to the next level, but it certainly adds a unique edge to his on-ball projection.