2020 NBA Draft Big Board v1.0
Updated: Nov 3, 2020
Welcome to my third annual NBA Draft Big Board. I do not watch college basketball and have spent little time intentionally learning anything about these prospects. I believe that this gives me the best possible perspective on the NBA draft, as the history of the draft makes it clear that people who do watch lots of college basketball are not very good at picking the best players.
These rankings are based entirely on the most important factor in evaluating draft prospects: random information that has wormed its way into my brain via The Internet. As with prior years, it's important to note that this Big Board is a scientific document; any eventual variance from these results was the fault of the drafting teams, not of my expert analysis.
1. Patrick Williams, Florida State
There's no consensus #1 this year and the three guys who get mentioned in that spot all seem to be either not good or good but too weird to be worth it for only good.
Patrick Williams is a big wing who can defend multiple positions and on offense is apparently not excellent at anything but has a foundation for development in everything. Basically, he looks like the modern NBA.
There's some Marvin Williams-ness to taking a guy who came off the bench in college at #1 but this draft seems to have a lot more Ike Diogus and Martells Webster than Chris Pauls and Danny Grangers in it, so I'm rolling the dice.
2. Josh Green, Arizona
He's 6'6" with long arms and good athleticism, can defend 1-4, and can shoot the 3. Why is he below a bunch of unspectacular bigs and weirdo guards? Have we learned nothing? (The answer is that we have learned nothing because no one ever learns anything.)
For some reason people love guys who can do everything but shoot and assume they can learn to shoot but think that guys who can shoot but not dribble can't ever learn to dribble and so are limited forever.
3. Devin Vassell, Also Florida State
I'm concerned that he might have Fultzed his jump shot and that I have two players from Florida State in the top three despite this draft not being for football in the 90's.
Having noted that, you may notice a trend here. Vassell is 6'7" and can defend and shoot.
In Seth Partnow's recent tiering of the NBA, there were 37 players in the top three groups. Of those, 14 were not top-10 picks. Those 14 contain two traditional bigs (Jokic, Gobert), two small-ball centers (Bam, Draymond), and three lead guards (Jrue, Lowry, Mitchell). The other half are made up of five wings between 6'5" and 6'9" (Kawhi, Jimmy, Middleton, Klay, and Siakam), one 6'5" hybrid (Booker), and a 7'1" freak who was a 6'9" wing when drafted (Giannis).
In a year where everyone is five spots higher than they would be in a decent draft class, I'm going to bet on taking wings between 6'5" and 6'9" who can shoot.
4. Cole Anthony, A Terrible North Carolina Team
My greatest gift as a draft analyst is that, because I don't watch college basketball, I can't be swayed by what happens in college basketball. This is how I was able to keep Michael Porter Jr. at fourth in my 2018 Big Board, a position that looked terrible before last season and so was not brought up in the 2019 Big Board but now looks good and so is being referenced.
Cole Anthony was possibly the best prospect in his high school class from the time he was playing on a Little Tikes hoop until he moved into a college dorm and yet somehow like a dozen games played for a shitty college team has dropped him down everyone's boards. Not mine! I did not see any of these games and so am not effected by them!
5. Killian Hayes, Bizzaro WW2
There are two guys named Killian in this class and normally that would be a problem for me but this Killian is good enough where I now remember which is which. That convinced me that he should be highly ranked, though I am somewhat worried about basically everything in his game.
Is there a big NBA need for lead guards with below average athleticism who like to take shots but aren't as concerned with making them and also turn the ball over a shit-ton?
6. LaMelo Ball, Wherever He Could Get Paid and Be Allowed to Run Everything
Like R.J. Barrett and DeAndre Ayton before him, I rank Ball in this spot because if he busts I can yell "see, I never believed in him" but if he succeeds I can scream "ranking a guy sixth doesn't mean I didn't like him!"
I have the same concerns with Ball as I do Hayes, except everything appears to be more extreme with LaMelo.
7. Aleksej Pokuševski, Greek D-2 Which Everyone Must Joke is Like the YMCA
Sure, why not? Some might call him Placebo Kevin Durant but I would point out that people taking a placebo often report that it helped them, anyway.
8. Onyeka Okongwu, USC
Remember that thing where I said I'm taking all the wings who can shoot? I'm going to allow for Okongwu here because I'm a coward who won't completely stick to my principals.
Everyone should remember that there are tons of undersized bigs who can't pass or dribble well enough to use those skills in the NBA and only Bam Adebayo and a few others developed them later on. Just because 2% of the guys who fit that profile did develop those skills does not mean that you should assume all future guys in that same group will too.
I don't like having a USC guy this high because my wife went to UCLA but then I remembered that she will never read this and possibly doesn't know that UCLA has a basketball team.
9. Saddiq Bey, Villanova
I'm going to take all the wings between 6'5" and 6'9" who can shoot and defend.
10. Robert Woodard II, Mississippi State
I'm going to take all the wings between 6'5" and 6'9" who can shoot and defend, but I have not gleaned if this guy can shoot so I'm putting him at the end of the list.
11. Deni Avdija, IDF
If Avdija could reliably shoot I would have him higher as a wing between 6'5" and 6'9" who can shoot and defend but The Internet has taught me, possibly erroneously, that he's a bad free throw shooter and that FREE THROW SHOOTING IS A BETTER INDICATOR OF FUTURE 3PT SHOOTING POTENTIAL THAN 3PT% IS. Thank you, Internet.
Even if he can't shoot well enough to make my top-10 he can shoot well enough to make my top-11, and so appears here.
12. Isaac Okoro, Auburn
If he were 6'9" I could talk myself into having him in that top-3 group even with his crappy shooting but at 6'6" I'm not doing it. I like that he gets to the free throw line but if he doesn't actually make the free throws it doesn't help as much as it should.
Wing defenders are still good but not as good as wing defenders who can also shoot, as we have established.
13. James Wiseman, Memphis (sort of)
The crunch-time centers for the last four teams standing this season were two 6'8" guys, a 6'10" superstar who swears he's not a center, and a 7-footer who doesn't jump.
The crunch-time centers for the last four teams standing the prior season were a 6'8" guy and three 7-footers who don't jump.
The crunch-time centers for the last four teams standing the season before that were all 6'8" or 6'9" guys.
James Wisemen is a 7'1" center who jumps a lot. He's fine at the end of the lottery in a terrible draft but what are we really doing here with this guy projected in the top-3?
14. Anthony Edwards, Georgia
I know he's only 6'5" and that he takes a ton of shots and his teams always lose. I know he's supposedly a top-3 prospect but that none of the teams with high picks actually want to take him so I'm not sure how he's a top-3 prospect.
In a draft with a bunch of semi-anonymous wings who can shoot and defend, how is the least anonymous wing one who can't shoot or defend?
Everyone I have ever heard talk about him has compared him somewhere along the way to a high-profile draft bust but then continued on talking about him like he's a good prospect.
15. Roderick Hampton Jr., New Zealand
We have now reached the section of the Big Board where I list scoring guards who you might want to take a flier on. If Cole Anthony had sucked in New Zealand instead of North Carolina he would have apparently been better off in the eyes of The Internet. We'll see if he would also have been better off in the eyes of NBA GM's before too long.
R.J. Hampton can jump and is a combo-guard who might have recently fixed his jumper which I assume means that it was broken before.
16. Tyrell Terry, Tyrell Corp.
Have you heard that he grew two inches and added weight? I have, because I closely follow The Draft and make it a point to collect this type of little known Intelligence.
As I write this I feel like he should be higher but moving him up would require re-numbering and that's a hassle. I believe he can shoot really well and might be a replicant which would give him a short career but also super strength. I might want him above Wiseman and Edwards but that would be too draft hipster of a move. If I leave him here I can move him up in Big Board 2.0 and make a big deal of it.
17. Kira Lewis Jr., Alabama
You can tell how bad this class is by how many players are coming from football schools.
Everyone who talks about this guy mentions his quick first step but then also say that he struggles to finish at the rim so apparently he can beat his man and then it doesn't do a whole lot for him.
18. Tyrese Haliburton, The State of Iowa
My impression of him is that he's a big, ground-bound, intelligent ball-handler whose intelligence has led him to the conclusion that he shouldn't shoot all that much unless everyone else on the floor really sucks.
I made the effort to look up his shooting numbers and they're actually quite good. Has The Internet misled me on him? Do I just zone out whenever he's being discussed because he seems boring? Both are possible. He's 6'5" so I might reclassify him as a wing between 6'5" and 6'9" who can shoot and defend and move him way up in v2.0.
19. Tyrese Maxey, Kentucky
The recent success of Kentucky guards may get him moved up on some boards but not here, because blocking Tyler Herro out of my memory took Maxey along with him and so I forgot all about that until just now.
I'm pretty sure he's a bad shooter but unlike with Haliburton I'm not going to bother looking it up.
20. Leandro Bolmaro, Soccer Club
I'm tempted to put him higher but I want him to fall to 26 so the Celtics can draft-and-stash him and many NBA executives will read this and I don't want to influence them to take him earlier than that.
Bolmaro could go into the group of wings who can defend but not shoot but I get the impression that he really can't defend or shoot but is a good passer and I'm not so sure what that player is.
I can't keep up this level of in-depth analysis for ten more picks so we're going rapid-fire.
21. Desmond Bane, TCU (Gets confused with Grant Riller)
22. Grant Riller, Charleston (Gets confused with Desmond Bane)
23. Malachi Flynn, San Diego State (Sam Veccine likes him)
24. Theo Maledon, France (No clue, honestly)
25. Obi Toppin, Dayton (Lot of talk about the height and flexibility of his hips)
26. Precious Achiuwa (An fountain of energy)
27. Jalen Smith, Maryland (Someone mocked him to the Celtics that one time)
28. Killian Tillie, Gonzaga (Separated from Killian Hayes; combined with Xavier Tillman)
29. Paul Reed, Depaul (John Hollinger likes him)
30. Isaiah Joe, Arkansas (Sharpshooter with a name like a TV western gunslinger)