28 October 2020

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Five NBA Draft Prospects That Will Exceed Expectations

The last time a draft had as much uncertainty as the 2020 draft does was 2013 when Anthony Bennett went first overall. The best player from that draft was taken outside the lottery (Giannis Antetokounmpo). There are always good players that are taken later in the draft but because of the uncertainty of this draft, people should pay special attention to players taken later because the possibility of one eventually becoming the best player in this draft is legit. Here are the prospects that are projected to fall out of the top 10 that WILL exceed expectations:

1. Leondro Bolmaro (SF, FC Barcelona, 19 years old)

Boston Celtics Draft Prospects: Does Leandro Bolmaro Fit?
(Mike Kireev/Getty Images)

This international class is as deep as it’s been in a long time with dudes like Killian Hayes, Deni Avdija, Aleksek Pokusevski, and Theo Maledon in it which makes Bolmaro sometimes forgotten in this mix but don’t sleep on him. He’s a creative 6’8” point-forward that makes players around him better, he defends, and he has shown the ability to get his own shot off the dribble. He also has a lot of swagger and confidence in his game for a 19 year old kid who was playing against grown men in the Euro League. He only averaged 4.4 PPG, 1.1 RPG, and 1.4 APG with the Euroleague squad but don’t take that too seriously since it’s super difficult to get minutes as a 19 year old kid on a premier Euro League squad. He also averaged 14.6 PPG, 2.7 RPG, and 3.6 APG. His vision and ability to defend at his size gives him the potential to be a really good player in the NBA.

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Player comparison: Manu Ginóbili

2. Kira Lewis (PG, Alabama, Sophomore)

Kira Lewis Jr. - Men's Basketball - University of Alabama Athletics
(Rolltide.com)

Even though Lewis is already a sophomore, he is actually one of the youngest players in the draft. He was only 17 years old to start out his freshman year. Lewis is an incredibly dynamic offensive talent that uses his great explosion and speed to thrive in transition. He can get his own shot off the dribble, shoot threes at a 36% clip, and find the open guy. He needs to learn how to slow down at times but I’d rather die a guy down than dial one up. His finishing, scoring ability, and athleticism gives him one of the highest ceilings out of anyone projected to go outside the top 10.

Player comparison: Dennis Schroder

3. Tyrese Maxey (SG, Kentucky, Freshman)

Tyrese Maxey leads No. 2 Kentucky past No. 1 Michigan State
(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

In recent memory, we’ve seen a couple Kentucky guards such as Devin Booker, Tyler Herro, and Shai-Gilgeous Alexander get taken in the teens but yet exceed expectations and Maxey could follow that pedigree. Maxey is a creative scoring guard that can score from all-three levels, play scrappy defense, and hit big shots. Maxey only shot 29% from downtown but he is a better shooter than his stats suggest. His scoring potential as well as his ability to play defense gives him a chance to become one of the more effective rookies out of the gate.

Player comparison: Lou Williams with defense

4. Cassius Winston (PG, Michigan State, Senior)

Cassius Winston - With smarts and smiles - The Only Colors
(Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports)

As a former Big 10 Player of the Year and a 2X All-American second teamer, Cassius Winston is one of the most accomplished prospects in the draft. Many scouts project him to be taken in the second round but there are certainly not 30 players in this draft better than Winston; he’s a victim of age… older prospects fall down the board, that’s why Devante Graham fell to the second round. Winston is one of the best ball handlers in the class, plays tough defense, and can hit threes at a 40% clip. I don’t see an scenario where Winston doesn’t have a long and successful NBA career.

Player Comparison: Raymond Felton

5. Jalen Smith (C, Maryland, Sophomore)

Maryland's Jalen Smith Declares for 2020 NBA Draft | Bleacher Report |  Latest News, Videos and Highlights

Smith is exactly what you want from a modern big. He can protect the rim, switch to defend guards in the perimeter, rebound, and hit open outside shots. Smith dramatically improved his shooting from his freshman to sophomore year going from 26.8% to 36.8% from downtown and he shot a strong 75% from the charity strike. If Smith continues to improve his shooting and add muscle, he could become a starter in this league.

Player comparison: Myles Turner

Conclusion

With the lack of film on players, there are going to be players incredibly slept on in the draft process. Even though the top of this draft is as questionable at the top as it’s been a long time, the draft has a ton of depth with players that can provide teams legit impact guys 40+ picks in.

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