Grading Each 1st Round Pick in the 2020 NBA Draft a Year Later
- Minnesota Timberwolves: Anthony Edwards (SG, Georgia, Freshman) Grade: A
There have been two players that have separated themselves from the rest of the pack as dudes with legitimate superstar potential, Lamelo ball and Anthony Edwards. You can certainly make the argument that Lamelo Ball should have been the top pick, but Minnesota certainly doesn’t regret this pick. Post All-Star break, Edwards averaged 23.8 PPG, 5.3 RPG, and 3.8 APG on 45.4%. He was an entirely different player with Chris Finch and with his size, explosion, strength shiftiness, star caliber scoring package and swagger, he has everything in the bag to be a franchise player.
2. Golden State Warriors: James Wiseman (C, Memphis) Grade: C+
James Wiseman struggled on both ends as the year went on, that was even more apparent as the Warriors began to play better basketball after his season unfortunately ended early following a season ending meniscus injury. But he still has a chance to be a star in this league if he improves his hands and overall basketball IQ because of bis freak athleticism, potential versatility on both ends, and his impressive intangibles. That being said, it would be surprising if the Warriors do not regret passing on Lamelo Ball, he could’ve helped Steph right now and fits the way then Warriors like to play.
3. Charlotte Hornets: Lamelo Ball (PG, Illawawra Hawks): Grade: A+
Lamelo ball proved to be every bit of the 6’8″ point guard with generational playmaking ability that his biggest optimists claimed he was. He did miss 21 games this season, which has made the Rookie of the Year race much closer, and the Charlotte Hornets did miss the playoffs, but the level of optimism about the Lamelo ball-led Hornets going forward is unlike anything we have recently seen in Charlotte. The Hornets may have landed the best talent in the draft at #3, someone they can build around, that is a major home run.
4. Chicago Bulls- Patrick Williams (SF/PF, Florida State) Grade: B+
The Chicago Bulls received a lot of criticism for taking Patrick Williams as high as they did, but now they are getting the last laugh. Williams only averaged 9.2 PPG, but he shot over 48% and 39% from three, he is a very promising defender that has also shown flashes of greatness offensively. Chicago likely knew Patrick Williams was going to be somewhat of a project, but it looks like he could be worth the wait.
5. Cleveland Caveliers- Isaac Okoro (SF, Auburn) Grade: B
Isaac Okoro had his ups and downs, especially offensively, but he played much better towards the end as he averaged 15.9 PPG and 4.2 RPG his last 10 games. His shot is very questionable as he only shot 29% from three, but his ability to attack the rim, read the court, and defend are NBA ready right now. Became of his ability to play off of other ball handles, because of his defense and potential, the Cavaliers made a very solid selection.
6. Atlanta Hawks- Onyeka Okongwu (C/PF, USC) Grade: C
This grade is not a reflection of Onyeka Okongwu as a player, I think he has a chance to be very effective in this league because of his potential to be an elite and versatile defender that can also be a lob threat, but the fit doesn’t make too much sense. Clint Capela established himself as one of the better defensive anchors in this league while also being effective offensively. Okongwu may not get too many opportunities in because Capela’s role is what Okognwu’s skillset craves. Tyrese Haliburton would have been the best choice here, better player and could’ve fit into the rotation well.
7. Detroit Pistons- Killian Hayes (PG, Ratiopharm) Grade: C-
Killian Hayes had a rollercoaster of a season in Detroit. He missed most of the season with a hip injury and struggled greatly with his efficiency when he did play 35.3% and 27.8% from deep. On the bright side, he showed some glimpses of potentially being a dynamic scorer in the league while already being a strong defender and passer. Killian Hayes does have a very long way to go and has major question marks as a shooter and using his right hand, but the don’t give up on him yet because the flashes are certainly there.
8. New York Knicks- Obi Toppin (PF, Dayton) Grade: D
At the time of the draft, Obi Toppin seemed like an amazing fit. They needed an electrifying player in Madison Square Garden and he also happened to be from New York. But this was before Julius Randle blossomed into a legitimate star, this has minimized his opportunity, especially with Tom Thibadeau as his coach, who historically hasn’t been a fan of playing his bench nor rookies. Toppin’s game as also been exposed to a certain degree due to his lack of back to the basket ability as well as his poor defense and lateral quickness. Toppin has a lot of questions with his game and at 23 years old, it doesn’t seem like he will be worthy of going this high at the end of the day.
9. Washington Wizards- Deni Avdija (SF/PF, Maccabi Tel Aviv) Grade: B-
Deni Avdija hasn’t lighten the league on the fire nearly the way I was anticipating and his shooting has remained a big issue, but a part of his lack of production could be due to not having the opportunity to run the offense or have the ball in his hands in general, which made him very interesting in Europe. Even if Deni doesn’t get the opportunity to lives up to the hype people like me gave him, his cutting ability, defense, and secondary playmaking ability will keep him in the league for a long time.
10. Phoenix Suns: Jalen Smith (C, Maryland) Grade: D
Like the Bulls, the Suns made a very surprising selection in the lottery, but unlike the Bulls, they might not be getting the last laugh. I do believe that Jalen Smith has promise long-term because of his shooting potential and ability to protect the rim, but the fact he hasn’t contributed on an NBA roster, even on a top two seed, as a top 10 pick is especially concerning. It doesn’t make matters better for the Suns when Tyrese Haliburton was still on the board, steering at them dead in the eye. The idea of Chris Paul mentoring Haliburton would have been incredible.
11. Devin Vassell (SG/SF, Florida State) Grade: B
Devin Vassell was a pick that did surprise me on draft night because Tyrese Haliburton seemed like a Spurs type of player and the Spurs have a lot of young wings. Even if Vassell wasn’t best player available, he proved to be one of the better rookies in the class and was serviceable enough offensively. Hopefully he can get his three point percentage back up to around 40% like he did at Florida State, that could make him a super valuable role player.
12. Sacramento Kings- Tyrese Haliburton (PG/SG, Iowa State) Grade: A+
(Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)
Grading this selection was easy. Getting a top three rookie in the draft in the late lottery was an outstanding move for Sacramento. Because of Haliburton’s defense, playmaking and efficiency from all over the field, he can truly blend on any roster in the league and he proved to be a great fix next to Fox. A big factor that will influence how good Haliburton will become is if he can add enough of a skillset as a shot makers where he can be your primary playmaker. But Haliburton is looking like he could follow the recent strong pedigree of late lottery picks that consist of Zach Lavine, Devin Booker, Donovan Mitchell, and more.
13. New Orleans Pelicans- Kira Lewis Jr (PG, Alabama) Grade: C+
Kira Lewis Jr. may be the fastest rookie in the entire draft with great athletic potential, but that didn’t translate much as a rookie as he only had an EFG of 44% and shot 41.5% from two. His inefficiency and room for growth as a passer made him not a major positive on offense. That being said, he has the tools to become really strong on the offensive end if he takes advantage of his speed and becomes more efficient around the rim.
14. Boston Celtics- Aaron Nesmith (SF, Vanderbilt) Grade: B-
Aaron Nesmith wasn’t giving Boston much to be desired in the beginning of the year, especially because he was recovering from a foot injury, but late in the year, he really showed flashes of being the talented 3 and D player they were hoping to get. As he continues to get healthy and realize his role, he could be graded much higher very soon.
15. Cole Anthony (PG, UNC) Grade: A-
at one point, call Anthony what is the projected first overall pick in the 2020 NBA draft. After a struggling season at UNC, he fell out of the lottery. Maybe he still wasn’t worth the first pick, but many teams might be regretting not him them with a. lottery selection. He averaged 15 PPG, 5 RPG, and 4.5 APG Post All-Star break and finished the season by dropping 37. The Magic have a very dynamic young guard on their hands.
16. Detroit Pistons- Isaiah Stewart (C/PG, Washington) Grade: A-
Isaiah Stewart really began to turn it on when he got the opportunity to start. As a starter, he averaged 12.7 PPG, 9.4 RPG and 2.1 BPG. Despite only being 6’8”, he may be the best paint presence in the draft because he’s built like an absolute bull and can throw his weight around when posting up, rebounding, and when protecting the rim, he also showed life as a shooter. Stewart has a chance to be a stud in this league.
17. Oklahoma City Thunder- Aleksej Pokusevski (SF/PF, Olympiacos) Grade: B (TBD)
Aleksej Pokusevski was the biggest boom or bust prospect in the draft last year. Even though only averaging 8.4 PPG on 34.1%, he showed massive flashes as a three level scorer that can run an offense as a seven footer and light it up from three, especially when he closed his season by scoring 29 and nailing six threes against the Clippers. Because he is so raw yet shows so many great flashes, there’s no way I can make a comfortable grade with this pick, it still could go both ways.
18. Dallas Mavericks: Josh Green (SG, Arizona) Grade: C-
Josh Green didn’t really crack the rotation for the Mavericks so it’s hard to truly evaluate this pick only a year after. That being said, it’s looking like Saddiq Bey would have been a great pick here because of his 3 and D ability that can compliment Luka. Green still has the tools to be a \ solid energy player in this league.
19. Detroit Pistons- Saddiq Bey (SF, Villanova) Grade: A
Saddiq Bey was one of the more productive rookies from the start. His elite shooting in college more than translated as he shot 38% from deep on high volume on a team with little spacing. He also showed flashes being a really exciting defender in this game that can effectively guard the 2-4 positions. He also was the only rookie to win an Eastern Conference Player of the week award, a week in which he had a 30 point night on a whopping 10 threes against the Celtics. Detroit really nailed first round selections outside the lottery.
20. Miami Heat- Precious Achiuwa (C/PF, Memphis) Grade: B+
Precious Achiuwa, like most rookies on good teams, didn’t get a very large role on the Heat to fully display his talents as he only played 12.1 MPG. But when he played, he showed the defense versatility, motor, and offensive ability around the rim that gives him a chance to have a very long and steady career.
21. Philadelphia 76ers- Tyrese Maxey (SG/PG, Kentucky) Grade: A
Even though Tyrese Maxey didn’t get a ton of minutes on a very good 76ers squad, outside of Anthony Edwards and Lamelo ball, he showed the most scoring talent in the draft. In his eight starts, he averaged 18.6 PPG on 50%. He is not a great shooter yet, but he is an underrated athlete with great touch around the rim and gets to his spots. When he gets a consistent role on this 76ers team, look for him to really pop. \
22. Denver Nuggets- Zeke Nnaji (C, Arizona) Grade: B-
In the limited time Zeke Nnaji played for the Nuggets, he showed what he could be as a solid defensive energy guy that also has a pure stroke offensively as he shot nearly 41% from deep.
23. Minnesota Timberwolves- Leondro Bolmaro (SG/PG, Barcelona) Grade: N/A
Leondro Bolmaro was the only draft and stash prospect taken in the first round of this draft so we literally have zero sample size in the NBA. He has had a very good year in Barcelona as he won the Spanish ACB “Most Spectacular Player” award. His size, defense, energy, playmaking and improved shooting makes him very intriguing as a prospect for Minnesota.
24. Denver Nuggets (Traded to Orlando Mid-Saeaspm)- RJ Hampton (PG. New Zealand Breakers) Grade: B+
RJ didn’t get to play while he was in Denver, but when he got traded to Orlando as a piece in the Aaron Gordon trade, he really turned it up. In the month of May, he averaged 16 PPG, 7.1 RPG and 5.6 APG and won the Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month award. He showed flashes of the dynamic athlete that can slash at a high-level while being a strong passer, he also has the tools to be a really good defender. Lots of upside wit Hampton is he continues to get bigger and improve his jumper.
25. New York Knicks- Immanuel Quickly (PG, Kentucky) Grade: A
The Knicks maybe didn’t make the ideal selection at #8, but they made up for it by drafting a likely All-Rookie First Teamer in Quickly. Quickly was top five in scoring for rookies and showed the ability to take over games and make plays in ways only a handful in this draft have. His true upside may be a question for me, but getting a guaranteed quality player this late is huge value.
26. Boston Celtics- Peyton Pritchard (PG, Oregon) Grade: B+
Peyton Pritchard had the reputation of being a player that is ready to contribute immediately and that evaluation has been correct. Pritchard was one of the more efficient rookies that shot an EFG of 56% while shooting over 41% on strong volume, his vision and defense have proven to also be NBA caliber. Pritchard’s upside may not be through the roof, but an efficient role player that can contribute on both ends is what Boston got.
27. Utah Jazz- Udoka Azubuike (C, Kansas) Grade: D-
I was very low on this selection at the time because Udoka Azubuike skillset as a big that that can rebound and protect the rim but cannot switch on the perimeter or space the floor makes is unwanted. He has only played 15 games and averaged 3.8 MPG so he hasn’t given me enough sample size to change my opinion.
28. Minnesota Timberwolves- Jaden McDaniels (SF/PF, Washington) Grade: A+
Jaden McDaniels was once a top seven recruit coming out of high school but after a struggling season at Washington, he slipped this far, and the Timberwolves took advantage. McDaniels has been as dominant and versatile defensively as any rookie in this draft. He also showed a lot of flashes offensively and hit threes at a 36% clip. McDaniels is the one player at this point of the draft with a chance to be a top five talent in this class when it’s all set and done.
29. Toronto Raptors- Malachi Flynn (PG, San Diego State) Grade: B+
Malachi Flynn was one of the more poised rookies in the class. In the stretch when Fred VanVleet and Kyle aLowry got hurt, he gave the Raptors starting level production and won a Rookie of the Month.He defense vision, and ability to score (even if he isn’t the most efficient) gives him a chance to be a really good player.
30. Memphis Grizzlies- Desmond Bane (SF/SG, TCU) Grade: A
Desmond Bane is a huge reason why the Grizzlies ended up making the postseason. He has come into the league and immediately asserted himself as one of the better 3 and D players in the league. The fact he ended up falling this far in the draft is mind boggling. Memphis seems to always find a way to add quality later in the draft and there is a chance Bane becomes the head example of that narrative.
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