2020 NBA Draft: Final Outlook on Top Prospects

By Max Feldman

Over twelve updated Big Boards each and every month for the last year, the 2020 NBA Draft process has been a strenuous, chaotic one to say the least. The full final Big Board is available and here lies a final breakdown of each top prospect prior to NBA Draft night.

LaMelo Ball

FOG was not shy to hop on Ball early and that will not change. In a draft class with so many questions at the top, Ball deserves the highest stock of any prospect because of his creative ability, potential on the defensive end and long term outlook as an organizational cornerstone. LaMelo has had to adjust to playing professional basketball in the past few seasons, and while his game will continue to evolve and adapt to the NBA, his natural ability to manipulate defenses, speed up and slow down a game on his own and flashes as a self-creator will shine through in time.

FOG’s #1 ranked prospect.

Anthony Edwards

Different than the majority of prospects in the field, my take on Edwards has not shifted much in the last 12 months. He has carried a pro scoring package since leaving Holy Spirit in Atlanta and while it was fantastic to watch him play in the NCAA, I still have massive concerns regarding his ability to elevate a team, contribute to winning basketball, compete on the defensive end and score in an efficient manner. I have never and will never doubt his outlook as a potential +20 point per game scorer in the NBA, yet the volume and offensive scheme devotion that he requires makes me doubt that the team that selects can count on him as a competing level piece. He is an uber talented athlete and scorer, but I would doubt he’d be selected first overall in a redraft five years from now. Back in May, I went more in depth on why I am not completely sold on Edwards…

FOG’s #6 ranked prospect.

Deni Avdija

Once again, FOG is not going anywhere on Avdija. Since May, the Israeli wing has been the second ranked prospect behind only Ball. At 6-9 and a mature frame, Deni’s ability to defend multiple positions, create from multiple spots, ability to handle the ball and carry such a high IQ for his youth shows me all I need to see. He might not carry the same star potential as a few others on the board, but he continues to jump off the board as a wing that can fit in nearly any system in any competing situation. Proven consistency in his perimeter shot will be an early key, but his defensive energy, creative flares and all around versatility will shine through. Selecting a 19 year old European prospect usually presents risk, but Avdija has continued to provide me with more and more confidence in the last few years with Maccabi Tel Aviv and the Israeli national team. The more I see the more I like and I do not expect any changes as Deni enters the NBA.

FOG’s #2 ranked prospect.

James Wiseman

The 7-1 physical specimen has fluctuated throughout the top 5 more than most, and while many have slid on him because he remains unproven, his rim running outlook is simply too strong. He is not in my top three because I am throwing all my chips on him being a superstar big man, but because I am extremely confident that if given patience, Wiseman can be an All-NBA defender and produce a double-double night in and night out.

FOG’s #3 ranked prospect.

Cole Anthony

Right when the script flipped on Anthony and the consensus fell off on him, FOG vaulted the former Tar Heel to the top of the board. Here is more on the Cole Anthony revelation. With such a deep guard class and touted playmakers, Cole Anthony’s ability to create off the dribble, make pull ups with confidence and finish at the rim make him the cream of the crop. I do not deny the chaotic, sporadic moments under Roy Williams, but his confidence and development since Archbishop Molloy give me confidence that he can control the chaos, score at a high level, grow into a defensive pest and improve his playmaking as his scoring picks up. Anthony is going to make teams upset for passing on him a few years down the line.

FOG’s #4 ranked prospect.

Tyrese Haliburton

My praise for Haliburton has not waivered, and while he was on the brink of the top five in multiple Big Board editions, you can only put so much stock in a high floor. I would be surprised if Haliburton develops into an All-Star at any point, but he should be a key playmaking, shot making piece for over a decade. He has the highest IQ of any player in the field and checks out in just about every facet in terms of intangibles.

FOG’s #7 ranked prospect.

Onyeka Okongwu

Okongwu’s late rise to the top five is the highest FOG has pegged the USC big all draft process. The NBA continues to be ever changing, but the presence of an athletic, physically mature big with shot blocking instincts and advanced footwork on the offensive end is sure to make a lasting impact. I am not counting on the Big O as a superstar of the future either, but I have become far more confident in his potential to produce day one and be one of the top glass cleaners in the NBA down the line. The constant debate for me has been if Okongwu is more Bam Adebayo or Andre Drummound. I still have concerns about expanding his offensive game, but his advanced footwork since his days at Chino Hills and sky high analytics as a roll man as well as defending a roll men make me lean more towards an Adebayo trajectory. A powerful athtlete with fluid feet and high flying instincts has become completely worth a top five slot after thorough evaluation of the field.

FOG’s #5 ranked prospect.

Killian Hayes

I have fluctuated on Hayes a bit since he exited my top four two months ago, but his ball handling ability, advanced decision making, scoring flashes and natural feel for the game keep him in the top eight. I am intrigued to see what organization feels right about infusing Hayes, because I have come off of him a bit as a centerpiece lead guard prospect. He’s a strong bet to be a long term contributor on the offensive end as a 15 and 5 lead guard, but I lean more towards a Goran Dragic trajectory rather than D’Angelo Russell. Developing into a shot creator off of the variety of NBA screen coverages will be a massive swing trait as Killian Hayes enters his peak. I will be far more hopeful for Hayes’ long term outlook if he lands with an organization with a core in place, rather than the Pistons, Knicks or Hornets.

FOG’s #8 ranked prospect.

Patrick Williams

Teams will be frustrated for passing on Pat Williams. The second youngest player in the entire field, Williams is already physically ready for the NBA. His defense should translate very quickly and his shot will continue to develop. His game might not make fan bases increasingly excited, but every NBA roster needs a prototype like Williams. The 6-8, 220 pound 19 year old can be the bridge piece for small ball lineups because of his ability to defend all five positions. He’s more than athletic enough to become a plus finisher and his jumper provides further optimism. Proving his mobility and growing into a role offensively will be early keys, but I’d throw all my chips in on the former Seminole becoming a high level two way forward.

FOG’s #9 ranked prospect.

Tyrese Maxey

Maxey is one of the more fit dependent prospects at the top for me. I am not believer in him as a lead guard. I am not a believer in him as a playmaker for others. His defensive appeal stands out for me because of his lateral quickness, instincts and physical maturity. He will have to be a two guard offensively but likely will only be able to guard one’s on the other end, at just 6-3. His pull up shooting remains a concern with a low release and questionable numbers from the perimeter. I do think he will likely be a better NBA player than a collegiate player, but his fit remains somewhat awkward if he’s not next to a bigger lead guard with natural playmaking abilities.

FOG’s #15 ranked prospect.

Devin Vassell

It is easy to peg Vassell further up in this draft because of the fall at the wing after Avdija for me, but I remain hesitant as to where his overall strengths. Developments in his shot release infused fear for me, as well as his wiry frame in terms of defensive reliability. His ability to hit pull ups and score from the perimeter are credible to this point, but I still question if his ceiling is higher than a Mikal Bridges type of wing. Late lottery is a safe spot for me, as Vassell does not jump off the page as I guy I’d greatly regret passing on a few years down the line. He’s a safe bet to be a rotational wing, but is unlikely to ever consume high volume offensively.

FOG’s #14 ranked prospect.

Jahmi’us Ramsey

From the jump, Ramsey has been my favorite prospect in this class. There has been no shortage of backlash on my view of Ramsey, yet I am confident he winds up as a top fifteen player in this class down the line. He will have his cold moments, but his ability to create shots, hit spot ups, compete at the rim, be a subtle athlete on both ends and guard the one through three make me question how many evaluators grade him as a second rounder. The former top 30 national recruit slotted in as a Jarrett Culver’s replacement at Texas Tech, and while decision making is a headline worry for many, he was thrown into a role with mass volume as one of the youngest Freshman in the nation. A high level scorer from all three levels with physical maturity and overflowing toughness is something I’d throw all my chips in on. The way his consensus stock is moving makes me even more optimistic, as he projected to land on a stronger roster at this point. When Ramsey is able to purely play to his strengths in the NBA, my debate on how he is not far off from Edwards and Okoro in this class will become far more prevalent.

FOG’s #10 ranked prospect.

Isaac Okoro

Okoro grew on me throughout the process since rising from the mid-20’s to borderline top 10. He’s a strong bet to be a versatile, physical defender who racks up steals, but his offense will be a work in progress. Knocking down perimeter shots will be his hinge points as an overall talent. His subtle ability to make plays for others is impressive, but he will not be able to display that if he does not require aggressive closeouts. He’s certainly a winning piece but will need some patience in terms of long term evaluation. NBA spacing should allow for his athleticism and lateral quickness to be displayed early and often. Landing on a competitive roster fits his skillset far more than a rebuilding cornerstone.

FOG’s #11 ranked prospect.

Obi Toppin

Evaluating Obi Toppin has been a massive test of valuing the direction of the modern NBA versus collegiate output. His talent as an athlete and full blown scorer are undeniable, but his defensive instincts, awkward lateral movement and lack of an interior presence force him to be an acquired fit. Players selected in the lottery who are already over 22 years old rarely show a ton of progression, and I expect the same for Toppin. His body of work is strong enough at this point to garner top fifteen stock and produce in the NBA early in his career. I expect a plateau after 3-4 NBA seasons.

FOG’s #12 ranked prospect.

Jalen Smith

Jalen ‘Stix’ Smith was the largest riser for FOG through the evaluation process. Blocking one shot per game while also hitting one three per game is an incredibly sought after skillset today, and Jalen Smith is top candidate to do so in this field. Smith rapidly developed from year one to year two in College Park and is my top available non-one-and-done outside of Toppin. Screen coverages and adaptation to NBA spacing will be a challenge defensively, but should be an early strength offensively. A trajectory along the lines of Chris Boucher ranging all the way to Jaren Jackson Jr is a precise projection for Jalen Smith. Two way players have never held higher value and Smith is the top available two way big man.

FOG’s #13 ranked prospect.

Tyrell Terry

Terry’s ability to create with the ball in his hands at such a young age has become enough to garner some lottery buzz. A flexible release off of a tight handle, the natural ability to attack closeouts to create for others and a credible reputation to stretch the floor from beyond the arc has underratedly become one of the stronger collective skillsets from lead guards in this class. I would emphasize his defensive shortcomings, but I think any team willing to select Terry early on willingly knows that they must surround him with a defensive two and three. Terry is a strong bet to a long term scoring lead guard as a starter in the right situation in terms of defensive personnel.

FOG’s #16 ranked prospect.

Jaden McDaniels

McDaniels stock and position within this class will require multiple years to reflect upon. Defensively, he will be able to make an early impact but his decision making, handle and shot consistency requires some ironing out. Recent signs point towards a solidification of his jumper but his frame is still too narrow to slot into a certain spot offensively. His length and athletic fluidity will translate. The more defensive tape I watch on McDaniels, my appeal continues to grow. Mike Hopkins runs a Syracuse style zone that assisted in developing Jaden’s defensive instincts and IQ, while also displaying in certain situations how he can switch on to all five positions. McDaniels is one of the more intriguing cases in terms of evaluating his progression, but in a field with so much unpredictability, I am all in on selecting McDaniels if the roster is in a position to be patient on the wing.

FOG’s #17 ranked prospect.

Aaron Nesmith

Nesmith was borderline top ten for FOG throughout the duration of the process but now has settled in at the 15-20 range. The top pure shooter in the class is elite off of spot ups and hand offs but still has a number of questions regarding self-creation, scoring versatility and defensive tendencies. He should be regarded as a high level wing role player who can stretch the floor for a creator, but I do not expect much more than that. A Buddy Hield trajectory seems accurate as an extremely useful and valuable piece on a contending roster, but on a weak roster, you might consistently be asking for more. Expect perimeter efficiency early on and a long career of mastering his craft as a shooting presence. Nesmith has the talent and has shown flashes similar to many of the off balance, hand off shooting showcases that Duncan Robinson displayed this season with Miami.

FOG’s #18 ranked prospect.

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