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Are These NBA Draft Picks Going To Be Sleepers, Steals Or Busts?

Who's going to come up and who's going to fall off?

The 2020 NBA Draft occurred on Wednesday, November 18th, 2020. It was done virtually with the global pandemic still ravaging the country and numbers unfortunately on the uptick. No surprise that the top 3 picks were Anthony Edwards (TWolves), followed by James Wiseman (Warriors) and LaMelo Ball, who’s headed to join Michael Jordan and the Hornets at #3.

Beyond those guys, the draft presented us with some intriguing players, some who project as possible “sleepers” and others who we see as “potential busts.”

NBA DRAFT SLEEPERS 

Obi Toppin

The Brooklyn-born dunk master was taken by the Knicks with the 8th overall selection. While many in the “Big Apple” were clamoring for NY native Cole Anthony, the son of former Knicks guard Greg Anthony, the organization chose the do-it-all athletic specimen from Dayton.

On the surface, many will say they see a Brandon Clarke type (Memphis Pick Last Year From Gonzaga). But I see a more polished and refined player offensively with range out to the three-point line. The Flyers were a legit National Title contender before the season was shutdown.

He averaged 20 points and 8 rebounds per game while shooting 39% from three. Obi’s offensive repertoire is everything teams desire in today’s modern NBA. The concern with him lies on the defensive end where he’s sort of a tweener, so who will he guard? He did average a steal and block and a half per game though. He also possesses quality defensive instincts to be a solid two-way guy with development on that end.

Tyrese Haliburton

He went 12th to the Kings. Much like Toppin, Haliburton had a breakout second season at Iowa St. He averaged 15 points, 7 assists and 6 rebounds per game. He’s a lanky 6-5 guard who shot it well from deep at 41% (both seasons at ISU) even though the shot has a hitch in it much like former NBA star Shawn Marion (The Matrix).

He provides immense versatility because he’s able to guard 1s and 2s, while also being able to run an offense or play off the ball because of his shooting ability.

“In the right role Haliburton can affect winning at a really really high level “

Tyrese Maxey

The combo guard out of Kentucky was drafted 21st by the Sixers who are now being led by the combo of Daryl Morey (Former Rockets GM) and Doc Rivers.

Maxey looks to continue the success of former “Big Blue Nation” guards like Devin Booker and Tyler Herro, who quickly developed into dynamic threats in the NBA. Most view him as a scorer, but I see a great defender able to really harass the other team’s best scorer on the perimeter for stretches.

The biggest knock on Maxey is his sub 30% shooting from three in his lone season in Lexington. Shooting can be improved through mechanical adjustments and better shot selection. His innate ability to get or create a bucket is something all teams crave at the NBA level.

Saddiq Bey

At Villanova, Bey was another second-year bloomer like Toppin and Haliburton. He doubled his scoring output from 8.0 to 16.1 for Jay “George Clooney” Wright. He can do anything asked of him on the floor. Shot 45% from 3.

His wingspan is 7-feet on his strong 6-8 frame, which makes him a very good defender with even higher-upside. Bey can switch onto anyone on the floor and hold his own, as well as the fundamentals of moving and cutting without the basketball, something most NOVA” players enter the league with.

Cole Anthony

The Orlando Magic landed the 2019 top-ranked point guard commit in Cole Anthony and he didn’t disappoint at UNC when you consider injuries and the lack of talent he was given to work with at Chapel Hill. Cole averaged 18 points per game on a team lacking the elite blue-chippers we’ve become accustomed to for a Roy Williams-led squad on “Tobacco Road”.

Anthony suffered a partially torn meniscus and missed some time, but returned to play just fine. He’s a do-it-all three-level floor leader who just needs time and the right situation to show what we all saw on the AAU circuit.

Isaiah Stewart

Gonna give some love to the big fellas as I believe the Pistons ended up with a steal at pick No.16 following a trade from the Blazers and Rockets. He’s big, physical and very rugged. Questions will arise as to whether his old school game can translate to success in the pro game.

I say it can because of his work ethic and willingness to get better. He outruns everyone down the floor, hustles, and crashes the boards. He has the ability to score in the paint with regularity as he averaged 17 points and 9 rebounds on a mediocre Washington Huskies team. His 7-5 wingspan will alleviate concerns of him playing man-to-man defense despite coming from a 2-3 zone implored by Mike Hopkins (Former Boeheim Assistant At Syracuse). Most GMs pre-draft said they believed he’ll play in the league for a long time.

Potential Steals

Cassius Winston

Being a Wizards fan, this one here brings me joy as they landed the former Michigan State point guard in a trade at pick 53 from the Thunder. Winston is a leader and will be a consummate pro. Although 72% of players taken in the second round of the draft fail to make rosters, Winston is different. The “WizKids” have long been in search of a quality backup point guard to John Wall.

In his final two seasons “Cash” averaged 19 points and 6 assists per game while shooting 44% from 3. Even rocks a cool headband. His 6-1 frame isn’t the most athletic relative to most of his peers, but he makes up for it with cerebral play and huge heart. All he did in East Lansing was produce and win.

His teammate Xavier Tillman Sr. who was drafted by the Kings at #35 and traded to the Grizzlies checks all the boxes that Cassius does. He’s also the best post defender in the entire draft at 6’9 and 250 pounds.

The best athlete in this draft I believe is Cassius Stanley and he went #54 to the Pacers. “NapTown” is getting a guy who can flat “WoW” you with his elite athleticism and leaping ability. Before he ever stepped on the court at Duke he already made headlines by besting the vertical record set in Durham by Zion Williamson just one year earlier. He jumped an unreal 46.5 inches off the ground.

Stanley’s production didn’t always follow him in “KVille” where he averaged 13 points but failed to pass or create for others. He did shoot a usable 36% from three and again his athleticism will stand out even on an NBA floor with other world-class athletes.

Finally, I like Paul Reed, taken 58th by the Sixers. Reed doesn’t have to score in the NBA to have a residual effect on the game. His scoring is inconsequential in a lot of ways like Jerami Grant’s was prior to his uprising this past season for the Nuggets. Also can compare him in many ways to the aforementioned Brandon Clarke as well. Reed is 6’9 and averaged a solid 15 points and 11 rebounds per game for the Blue Demons.

Reed’s defensive stats standout (3 blocks and 2 steals per game). His new teammate Matisse Thybulle tallied similar numbers at Washington before stepping in for the Sixers and providing that type of defense. An aggressive defensive skillset translates regardless if you can score or not. Every team loves a guy who rebounds and defends with passion.

Honorable Mention

Malachi Flynn (San Diego St) – Raptors (29th Pick) Tough, gritty guard who can score, handle and defend.

Kira Lewis Jr (Alabama) – Pelicans (13th Pick) A blur at point guard who’ll really help push the pace in “Nawlins” with Zion and BI running the lanes. Also will allow Lonzo Ball to play off the basketball more.

Nico Mannion (Arizona) – Warriors (48th Pick) Crafty lead guard who’ll be a solid backup or rotational guy to help give Steph Curry rest. Can shoot it and not afraid to attack the basket.

Possible Busts:

Precious Achiuwa – (Memphis) – Heat (20th Pick). Struggles shooting the ball mightily and as a smallball center he’ll need this as a part of his game.

Josh Green – (Arizona) – Mavericks (18th Pick) He’ll hang around on his defensive prowess alone, but for where he was taken if he doesn’t develop into a true 3 and D with improved shooting, he’ll never live up to his draft spot.

RJ Hampton – (New Zealand) – Bucks – (24th Pick) NBA scouts and execs-haven’t been able to get a real read on Hampton as compared to the other bucketgetters in this draft.

He didn’t consistently impress in New Zealand averaging 8 points with a ton of those coming in garbage time.

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