*Note: This tier is mostly comprised of rotation players with starter upside, starting with those most likely to be a starter on a good team.
*I will definitely complete the top 30 in some fashion, but it probably wont be as long as this iteration, mostly because it’s so damn time consuming and also because it’s comprised mostly of bigs who everyone already knows.
NBA Position Range: 3&D Wing w/ Shooting Guard Size (Category 7) -> Secondary Two-Way Wing Handler (category 2)
Positional Size/Athleticism: Possesses ideal height (6’6.75”) and length (6’10” wingspan) for an NBA wing with “shooting guard” size. Late bloomer with reported growth potential still. Rail thin at 181 pounds with skinny legs and chest very much in need of strength acquisition. Incredibly fast and agile on the court with plus open court speed. Tremendous speed and fluid athleticism navigating around screens. Plus lateral agility when locked in sitting down in an athletic stance. Plus first step and burst with the ball getting into the lane. Not a bouncy, vertical athlete, but can play above the rim in space. Quick twitch reaction time, especially on defense. Can change speed and pace well with the ball.
Shooting: Adept catch and shoot shooter with range (341 career 3PTAs at36.7%) when he displays rhythm tendencies catching on the hop or the 1-2.. Compact, consistent release in those situations (1.13 PPP on HC catch and shoot shots in 14/15; 1.126 PPP in 15/16). Mechanics waiver some with volatile release time and inconsistent rhythm tendencies (does not always catch ready to shoot). Not nearly as adept off the bounce despite some improvement there (.487 PPP in HC dribble pullups in 14/15; .614 PPP in 15/16). Has the handle and plus first step to attack closeouts. Shows promising signs of planting his feet shooting off screens despite low frequency there.
Creation: Above average handle for a secondary-handler with the quick initial first step and burst to get in the lane off the bounce. Raw creator on offense at this point, but shows promising signs. Adept as a pick and roll handler with an assortment of dribble-drive moves like hesitation cross-overs. Has some slipperiness with the ball and can change direction well. Soft touch with a floater game, which is crucial in not being a vertical athlete. Can make all the passes and reads out of pick and roll, from hitting the dive man with good timing to skip passes to shooters. Doesn’t finish through contact well with his slight frame and doesn’t get to the foul line.
Defense/Rebounding: Projects as an elite 1/2 defender at the point of attack, possessing excellent tools and anticipation. Elite lateral quickness when engaged and he sits down. Tremendous combination of speed and slipperiness navigating around screens in pick and roll to wall off penetration. Fast, active hands swiping at balls. Can really apply ball pressure with the recovery quick twitch athleticism and speed to compensate for being an aggressive defender. Promising, yet inconsistent awareness as an off-ball defender, but is a terror in the passing lanes racking up steals with anticipation. Shows good balance as a closeout defender. Mostly technique issues on defense. Not always in an athletic stance and gets blown by on ball because of that more than you’d like. Swipes at the ball instead of walling off penetration with his feet and gets dislodged moving backward trying to contain dribble penetration with his frame. Definitely a gambler off ball with inconsistent awareness.
Intelligence/Intangibles: Showed good feel for a player in a challenging coaching situation at UNLV. There appears to be intelligence upside here.
Yellow Flags: The biggest yellow flag for McCaw is his undeveloped frame. As mentioned above, it has been reported that McCaw is still growing, and being a late bloomer development wise there could be some potential growth still, which could at least partly explain his rail thin frame. I’m banking on his ability to acquire strength in this scenario.
Stats Profile (With Comparable Player Archetype):
40 Minutes Pace Adjusted
Translation/How He’ll Win in the NBA: McCaw has a very projectable two-way package. Defense at the point of attack is his calling, where he possesses the speed, agility and quick twitch athleticism to guard NBA lead guards. He’s a gambler off-ball, but he shows good enough awareness shooting the gaps in passing lanes to off-set his over aggressive nature. His playmaking is too raw at this juncture to be a primary intiator (and I’d bet heavily he never gets there), but he has enough ball skills to run a secondary PNR and possesses good feel. He fits best next to a high usage lead guard where he can relieve said lead guard from a heavy defensive burden defending opposing lead guards.
Best Team Fit: LA Lakers (The Lakers have a high usage lead guard who doesn’t have elite quickness at the point of attack on defense, and McCaw could fit in nicely next to DAR defending lead guards and being capable of running a secondary PNR on offense. Would be an upgrade over Clarkson on defense, who probably profiles better as a 6thman).
Outcome Range/Player Comparisons:
Floor Outcome: Iman Shumpert with Ball Skills
Ceiling Outcome: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope with Ball Skills
Ranking Justification: McCaw and Luwawu are similar player archetypes. Both ideally profile as elite 1/2 defenders at the point of attack, but McCaw is much lighter, is not quite as tall and doesn’t have Luwawu’s bounce + vertical athleticism. Thus, McCaw right now is locked in as a two position defender, whereas Luwawu has more defensive versatility and higher creation upside due to his bouncy athleticism. McCaw is incredibly underrated in this class, however, as he has a very projectable package on both sides of the ball. The frame issue is definitely concerning, but even if he never adds ideal weight he’ll still be passable defending most lead guards. Still, it’s enough to rank him 10 instead of higher. He’s a cleaner projection than Bembry, thus he maintains a one spot advantage here.
NBA Position Range: Wing Secondary Handler (Category 4) -> Wing Secondary Two-Way Handler (Category 2)
Positional Size/Athleticism: Average height (6’5.75”) and length (6’9.25” wingspan) for an NBA wing with “shooting guard” size. Solid frame at 207 and plays bigger than he is from a physicality and competitive standpoint. More fluid athletically than explosive, but has plus bounce vertically in the open court and has a plus first step. Above average lateral agility sliding in his defensive stance, but does not possess that quick twitch athleticism.
Shooting: Not a consistent rhythm shooter, but form isn’t broken. Release is too long often times with a ball dip, and doesn’t always catch ready to shoot (.966 PPP on catch and shoot jumpers in 2015/16). More adept off the catch, and can really benefit from catching on the hop more. Not an especially fluid stroke, but does have a high release point. Not adept shooting off the dribble with inconsistent footwork (.582 PPP on dribble jumpers in 2015/16). Not adept shooting off screens either.
Creation: Incredibly versatile on offense. Smooth handle with some slipperiness with the ball via in and out dribble moves and cross-overs. Intriguing as a stop-start change of pace handler with above average shake, but doesn’t have an elite handle to create. Relies some on a step-back to his left move to create space, but his release is slow. Expert cutter with outstanding timing slashing to the hoop when he’s not guarded or his defender turns his head. Adept post game against smaller wings and lead guards on switches, possessing good footwork and quick spins. Can freeze defenders with hesitation dribbles. Elite vision and feel as a passer and decision-maker. Moves the ball keeping the defense in rotation. Great vision out of pick and roll with excellent timing hitting the dive man. Really adept at skip passes with good velocity. Elite-level combination of handling, vision and passing in transition as a playmaker.
Defense/Rebounding: Plus feet agility-wise moving laterally in an athletic stance. Rangy defender who can utilize athleticism to block shots recovering or digging down in the paint. Not a huge steal guy but possesses good off-ball awareness keeping track of his man as a team defender. High points rebounds on the glass, and is a threat on the offensive glass. Does not project as a lock-down defender either on or off ball, but still a solid one.
Intelligence/Intangibles: Incredibly cerebral player and a team first guy.
Red Flags: The shooting is a definite concern, as Bembry has taken a negative trajectory shooting the ball over his 3 years a St Joes and there’s really no evidence that he can shoot (385 careeer 3PAs, 31.2%, 494 career FTAs, 62.8%). I think he could really benefit from more rhythm tendencies in his catch and shoot shot, mainly catching the ball in shooting position on the hop. I doubt he ever becomes an above average shooter, but obtaining a slightly below average catch and shoot 3 point shot is probably an obtainable outcome. If he gets that he looks like a two-way starter at the next level.
Stats Profile (With Comparable Player Archetypes):
40 Minutes Pace Adjusted
Translation/How He’ll Win in the NBA: Bembry is a two-way wing with with some athleticism, ball skills and elite passing/vision, which is a tremendously valuable player archetype in the league today. He has the intelligence to play in a read and react offense and make some plays you can’t scheme for. For an above average athlete at that size with his skill level and intelligence he is tailor made for the modern NBA. The question of course revolves around the shooting, but even if he never develops a passable jumper Bembry will still have plus value in the league. You can’t give him the Tony Allen treatment because Bembry is such an expert cutter off-ball that as soon as defenses ignore him/turn their heads he’s going to the rim and has the lift to finish in space. He can also eat up the space afforded him with a competent handle and the ability to playmake. On defense, Bembry doesn’t have a clear projection. He doesn’t have elite on ball quickness sliding laterally to be a huge plus defending lead guards at the point of attack and doesn’t get steals in the passing lanes off-ball. He just seems like a solid overall defender both on and off-ball, capable of switching most of the time 1-3, playing bigger than his size.
Best Team Fit: Atlanta Hawks (Budenholzer’s read and react motion system is tailor-made for Bembry’s skill-set, and with Bazemore likely departing in free agency the Hawks have a distinct need on the wing).
Outcome Range/Player Comparisons:
Floor Outcome: More Athletic Kyle Anderson
Ceiling Outcome: Less Athletic Andre Iguodala
Ranking Justification: Bembry has a less clear projection than McCaw to the next level, especially on defense, even though I like Bembry better as a player right now with his athleticism + passing ability, which is why he ranks slightly behind here. Bembry v. Jaylen Brown is a fascinating debate. Brown has the body + athleticism + youth advantage, but Bembry has enough athleticism to close the gap and is light-years ahead of Brown in terms of feel. I just value players with Bembry’s size/athleticism/feel construct over raw physical tools without a feel floor like Brown. Brown is the more versatile defender in theory, but he’s not there yet, and I question his ability to ever get there mentally (see below). Bembry is just a really good basketball player who gets underrated based on his shooting deficiencies. Defense and passing are in my opinion the two most underrated qualities in evaluating players. Bembry projects as above average in the former and elite at the latter, rendering him on of the final players on this big board who I feel really good about. A floor of an athletic/smaller Kyle Anderson is nothing to scoff at.
NBA Position: Offensive Stretch 4 (Category 5)->Offensive Stretch 4 With Playmaking (Category 3)->Two-Way Playmaking 4 (Category 1)
Positional Size/Athleticism: Slightly undersized at 6’8.5” for an NBA 4, but compensates with a heavier frame (251 pounds) and elite length (7’3.25” wingspan). Reported to the combine 15 pounds over playing weight with 12.5% body fat, affording him some frame potential. Incredibly fluid and mobile on the court as both a rim runner and operating with the ball. Tremendous body control with the ball attacking the basket, and has enough quickness and agility to get to his spots, along with a decent first step. Not an explosive vertical leaper in traffic off of one foot. Plus hands.
Shooting: Fluid mechanics catching on the hop and off the 1-2 in shooting position. Doesn’t get a ton of lift but shoots on the way up with a high, compact and quick release. A career 68% foul shooter on 253 attempts but made strides this year (74%). Had 1.24 PPP as a pick and pop shooter this past season on 13.4% frequecy, ranking elite as a big in this class. Has NBA range with only a 29.7% success rate on 195 3PTAs, but again made strides last season (up to 33.3%).
Creation: Fantastic profile as a face up big who can playmake and pass on the move. Can put the ball on the floor in transition and in the halfcourt to make plays. Fluid handler for his size and can change direction with the ball with advanced dribble moves. Adept at posting up and shows good instincts as a passer, both in the post on cross-court skips or on drop-offs. Good touch on his right hand jump hook with the ability to quickly spin over either shoulder in the post. High usage pick and pop shooter who can put the ball on the floor and can attack closeouts with his handle.
Defense/Rebounding: Solid instincts as a help defender on rotations. Flashes hedge and recover ability with above average feet. Can absorb contact at the rim without getting run through and contests vertically. Positioning on post defense is not always sound, but does a good job denying entry with his length. Affords some rim protection with his length as a weak side shot blocker despite lack of lift. Very adept closing out to shooters on the perimeter and challenging with length while staying on balance. Has flashed defending in space containing guards on dribble penetration, but needs work and extra conditioning to switch onto smaller NBA athletes consistently.
Intelligence/Intangibles: Weighed 280 at one point in time but shed weight over the past 3 years all the way down to 235, showing plus work ethic. Laid back kid who loves the game.
Yellow Flags: His ability to keep weight off could be an issue, but he’s already shown the willingness to put the work in there. If he can defend in space (and be in shape enough to do so) he’s going to be a real player.
40 Minutes Pace Adjusted
Translation/How He’ll Win in the NBA: Carter has a translatable face up game as a skilled dribbler and passer at the 4 spot with very promising shooting mechanics. His success in the league largely hinges on his ability to guard the perimeter in space. He showed flashes at Maryland of helping and recovering, as well as containing dribble penetration with plus feet, and has the length to afford rim protection around the basket from the 4 spot despite not being an explosive leaper. His floor is probably a longer, less athletic and poor man’s Boris Diaw. His ceiling is some variation of current Paul Millsap. He could battle weight issues, but I’m betting on him being able to add muscle to his already developed frame. He looks like a playmaking four with the girth and skill to beat smaller defenders in the post so you can’t switch as a small onto him, and is a very capable pick and pop threat to shoot with the dribbling ability to attack closeouts and pass. I’m not sure why he’s not getting more publicity, especially after showing off his skills at the combine.
Best Team Fit: New York Knicks (If they buy a pick, a player like Carter would fit in wondefully next to a unicorn big like KP with all that space to operate in and playmake).
Outcome Range/Player Comparisons:
Floor Outcome: Less athletic, longer, poor man’s Boris Diaw
Ceiling Outcome: Some Variation of Current Paul Millsap
Ranking Justification: I’m guessing most people at this point think I’ve totally lost it, which is probably fair. However, Carter is in my opinion that last playmaking 4 in the draft who is capable of contributing defensively. That’s a tremendously rare archetype. His offensive versatility in being able to shoot, handle and pass while stretching the floor in a face up fashion could really add a dynamic element to a team. It’s never smart to compare anyone to Paul Millsap, especially since no player has changed more since entering the league than PM. But Carter flashes that skill-set, and has the build to actually beat switches in the post with scoring and passing, which most stretch 4s can’t do. It’s not easy to learn to playmake on the move and make reads for a big at the speed of the NBA level. Carter has at least demonstrated a court awareness and fluid handling ability keeping his head of to do so, and can get his own shot off the bounce effectively and efficiently (see hoop-math unassisted midrange attempts and %s). For that, even though he’s 3 years older than Chriss and far less athletic, I give the edge to Carter here in betting that Chriss will never be able to do what Carter can off the bounce right now.
NBA Position Range: Offensive Stretch 4 (category 5) -> Two-Way Stretch 4 (category 4)
Positional Size/Athleticism: Ideal height (6’10” ) and a decent frame base (233 pound narrow athletic build) for an NBA four with average length (7’0.25” wingspan) and a below average standing reach (8’9” standing reach) for the position. Incredibly bouncy athlete off of two feet, probably the best in the draft. Tremendous run and jump athleticism/lift. Quick explosive leaper and second jumper. Has all the athletic tools: quick first step to attack closeouts, plus raw speed and is a fluid mover with good coordination on the court. Plus lateral mover in the rare event that he sits down. Good hands catching lob passes.
Shooting: Very fluid shooting off the catch, showing plus rhythm tendencies catching in shooting position on the hop from 3 (60 3PTAs, 35%). High, fluid and compact release with good lift on the shot and good follow-through. Very fluid in the midrange game as well off the catch. Flashes the ability to shoot off the bounce but is raw there.
Creation/Offense: Fluid rim-runner with elite speed to run basket to basket. Elite lob catching finisher as a dive man with good speed, hands, and an enormous catch radius. Borderline elite as a putback dunker on the offensive glass. More of a face-up 4 with a quick first step to attack closeouts and straight line drive ability than a post player. Adept attacking in large space with a quick spin move. Flashes off the dribble moves like a jab step but doesn’t have a plus handle. Raw footwork in the post with no left hand and a go-to move of a quick right to left spin. Respectable touch on right hand jump hook. Minus vision as a passer on the move attacking closeouts in space.
Defense/Rebounding: Good experience switching onto smalls in Washington’s switch-everything system, and moves well laterally when he sits down. Has the frame to absorb contact containing dribble penetration with the feet to stay in front. Plus range and shot-blocking ability with bouncy athleticism. Has the speed and agility to play the passing lanes fluidly. Incredibly poor defensive rebounder (like generationally bad). Doesn’t seek bodies to box out or attack the glass. Doesn’t have a high motor and below average reach hurts. Very raw technique defending the perimeter, especially in PNR (will have back turned to the ball in PNR). Also not adept at help and recover situations despite having the range. Jumps at everything inside and has an insanely high foul rate. Not a smart team defender outside of splash plays. Does not anchor in the post or on the glass.
Intelligence/Intangibles: Very limited basketball experience (5 years) and as a result has minus feel and on-court intelligence.
Red Flags: 1) Defensive rebounding/Ability to Anchor 2)Passing/Feel & 3)Basketball Intelligence. Take your pick. Honestly Chriss’ work ethic and intelligence level are the biggest wildcards in the draft this year. I’d feel better about ranking him higher if there was more information about Chriss’ character etc (green flags), but since there isn’t it’s hard to assume anything other than what is displayed on the court.
40 Minutes Pace Adjusted
Translation/How He’ll Win in the NBA: Here are the things I think Chriss will be able to do effectively at the NBA level: 1)rim run in transition 2)catch lob passes in traffic and 3)shoot respectably well, especially on pick and pops. He’s an incredibly difficult player to project overall outside that skill-set base. He’s an elite athlete without any basketball intelligence. He’s really an offensive 5 and a defensive 4 at this juncture without much versatility, which is the opposite of the player archetype you want. Chriss needs to develop as a passer/playmaker on the move because I don’t see him ever being a 5 on defense with his lack of rebounding/basketball intelligence defending in the team concept. The problem is it is damn hard to see that face-up four playmaking development potential, especially given his lack of experience. Players can improve as passers and general court awareness, but the feel to play basketball is something you either have or you don’t. Chriss is a football player and an outlier good athlete. I can see him as a dual-threat pick and roll player at the 4 spot, and that has value, especially when paired next to another stretch big unicorn type who can space the floor and protect the rim/rebound. But the translation is murky.
Best Team Fit: Minnesota Timberwolves (I want Chriss in a position with a defensive coach in an environment where he can grow at a slower pace. Definitely not advocating to take him at 5, however).
Outcome Range/Player Comparisons:
Floor Outcome: A More Athletic Noah Vonleh
Ceiling Outcome: A mix of Amar’e Stoudemire and Patrick Patterson
Ranking Justification: Chriss has value as a floor-spacing four (again, I’m buying the small 3pt sample based on mechanics) who can block shots, and that projection has me rate him higher than Brown, whose one true skill is getting to the rim, which is questionable to translate with his minus handle. Chriss has hypothetical upside, but I’d put the probability of hitting his ceiling outcome much lower than most have. You can’t just learn to play basketball at almost 19. Game experience is crucial, and he doesn’t have that. He’s probably 3 or 4 years out when it comes to actually contributing to winning basketball, maybe longer (that’s if he ever does). If Chriss can become some variation of Patterson’s floor spacing + feet defensively on the perimeter with Amar’e’s finishing, that’s a valuable archetype. But I don’t see him ever developing enough to playmake/pass on the move attacking closeouts or be a positive team defender due to his lack of overall experience. This ranking could look silly in 5 years, especially if a lot of Chriss’ outlier negative rebounding was a cause of Washington’s switch heavy scheme (I don’t think so), but here wer are.
NBA Position Range: Other -> Defensive wing with “small forward” size + 4 Capability -> Secondary Two-Way Handler (small % outcome)
Positional Size/Athleticism: Elite size (6’6.75”), NBA ready frame (223 pounds) and plus length (6’11.75” wingspan) for an NBA wing. Has the “NBA body” of the draft, with an athletic, chiseled frame. Tremendous combination of open court speed with a head of steam and bouncy athleticism in space. Can leap off one, two or either foot to finish explosively above the rim. Plus first step to attack closeouts with excellent straight line burst in large spaces.
Shooting: Inconsistent mechanics and lift. Doesn’t have a fluid release and leans back on his shot. Does show good footwork off the catch at a standstill utilizing the hop (.941 PPP on catch and shoot 3s in the HC, which is average). Very one dimensional spot-up shooter without the ability to shoot off the bounce or on the move (.6 PPP on dribble jumpers in 15/16 and .75 off-screens, both poor metrics).
Creation: Straight line slasher. Below average loose handle best with basic dribble moves usually off a jab steps coupled with a right to left crossover. Can drive in space both left and right. Has some hip flexibility as a driver moving side to side in the open court but doesn’t have that shake in the halfcourt when space is condensed. Struggles with court vision and reading defenses on the move. Not a good enough decision-maker currently to play with the ball and doesn’t have the handle to penetrate small spaces, and isn’t a shooting threat off the ball.
Defense/Rebounding: Shows quick twitch athleticism defending on-ball with plus lateral quickness and the frame to absorb contact containing dribble penetration. Has the physical tools to be a plus on-ball defender if he irons out raw technique and gives more effort. A minus off-ball defensive player who doesn’t have that same quick twitch reaction. Slow to diagnose and react to off-ball screens and movement. Consistently ball watches and loses track of his man.
Intelligence/Intangibles: Incredibly smart and well-spoken off the court but possesses below average basketball intelligence. Apparently a worker, but has distinct interests other than basketball (I hate when people make a big deal out of this but I included it anyway just for background).
Red Flags: On court intelligence and decision-making are definitely red flag worthy. His shaky handle is a yellow flag.
40 Minutes Pace Adjusted
Translation/How He’ll Win in the NBA: Brown is the hardest projection in the draft for me because right now he can’t really thrive in the NBA outside of a situation with prestine spacing and an uptempo style. Those situations aren’t aplenty. So much of his development depends on the mental game, a fact that gets overlooked in lieu of his shooting and handle. Theoretically, Brown could be a player capable of switching 1-4 on defense and provide an agility/speed advantage as a small ball 4. That’s probably his easiest route to success. However, he has to either considerably improve both his handle and passing on the move or he spot up mechanics on offense (the latter is definitely easier) and really committ to defense. If I knew Brown was going to take a MKG/Stanley Johnson approach to defense I’d be more bullish on his prospects, but he didn’t show that at Cal and doesn’t appear to have that mindset. The physical tools are the best in the draft, but what else is there?
Best Team Fit: Indiana Pacers (One of the few situations I really like Brown in is in Indiana as a small-ball four next to a unicorn archetype in Turner and 3 legitimate floor spacers in Hill, George and Miles. Obviously he isn’t falling to 20. Going to Boston would be hilarious, as we might see the first all guard/wing lineup with a triangle and 2 defense employed on IT2/AB).
Outcome Range/Player Comparisons:
Floor Outcome: A Variation of Harrison Barnes who can’t shoot
Ceiling Outcome: A more Versatile Defensively DeMar DeRozan
Ranking Justification: This is the point in the draft where I’m willing to roll the dice on the hypoethical upside here. I’m not a fan of Brown’s game, and while elite physical tools are nice I’m always wary of that mold when there isn’t a feel floor. Brown didn’t have optimal spacing at Cal and played at a slower tempo. No debating that. He will probably benefit with enhanced NBA spacing in the right situation. But he still has below average ball-skills, minus feel, is not a good defender yet and obviously can’t shoot right now. That sounds like a variation of a non-shooting Harrison Barnes, which is freaking terrifying. The small % ceiling outcome of him becoming a star is worth a dice-roll here, but honestly that outcome is SO much smaller than people realize with so much having to go right in his development. Still, I rate him slightly ahead of GPII based on age and defensive versatility.
15.Gary Payton II
NBA Position: Defensive Tools + Non Shooter Lead Guard (Category 5) -> Quasi-Lead Guard 3&D with Enough Playmaking to Initiate (Category 7, but very likely % on no 3)
Positional Size/Athleticism: Plus size (6’3”), athletic frame (184 pounds) and length (6’8” wingspan) for a “quasi” NBA lead guard. Plays bigger than his size due to competition level and intensity. Bouncy and explosive athlete off of two feet with a plus first step/burst combination. More straight line run and jump explosive than shifty. Quick twitch defender on ball who can mirror handlers quickly. Excellent lateral agility in an athletic stance.
Shooting: A non-threat shooting off the bounce (.621 PPP on HC dribble jumpers last season, a very poor metric). Mechanics aren’t fluid looking, and he doesn’t get great lift. Can show better rhythm tendencies off the catch (.976 PPP there last year. A lot of bad misses similar to Dunn. Did flash the ability to set his feet coming off screens last year, albeit on low frequency.
Creation: Not an advanced handler but has enough off the bounce with hesitations and crossovers to set up his sensational straight-line burst to the basket. Not a true lead guard prober who can create space and manipulate defenses off the dribble. Doesn’t have a lot of start/stop shake. Elite both slashing with the ball and cutting off the ball with his explosive finishing acumen. Not a top-shelf passer but moves the ball and makes the extra pass. Capable PNR decision-maker who can make the requisite reads hitting the dive man or shooters on skip passes.
Defense/Rebounding: Quick twitch athlete defensively with elite lateral agility and the frame to absorb contact containing dribble penetration without getting dislodged. Overrelient on athleticism at times going for steals and blocks instead of sliding. Not a consistent defender at the point of attack, getting beat in isolation situations too often and dies on screens. Fantastic instincts as a team defender digging down and rotating help assignments. Provides rare guard rim protection and the ability to anchor on box outs. Elite guard rebounder who has the toughness to mix it up inside with his athleticism and anticipation.
Intelligence/Intangibles: Has a good basketball pedigree but has a relaxed, deferential approach unlike his dad.
Red Flags: Shooting and age (will be 24 in December) are both red flag worthy. He’s not a pure lead guard on offense, and doesn’t really have a straight forward offensive role. No real evidence he will ever be able to shoot competently (162 3PTAs at OSU, 30.2%, 221 FTAs, 65.2%).
40 Minutes Pace Adjusted
Steal % (Since Inception: All Players)
Defensive Box Score Plus Minus (Since Inception: All Players)
Translation/How He’ll Win in the NBA: GPII is a tough fit in any offensive scheme with his lack of shooting. Teams will go under on every PNR with him as the handler, and he doesn’t have the lead guard vision or probing/handle ability to be a high usage player there. What he does have is a high floor, potentially elite defensive package, which a coach can hopefully unleash, either as a savvy team defender (this might be his calling) or at the point of attack. GPII can be a solid NBA rotation player if put in a situation next to higher usage wings so he can play more off ball and make decisions + play as a slasher/cutter. Similar to Bembry you can’t just give him the Tony Allen treatment because he’s a capable handler who can cut and finish explosively. He has enough juice off the bounce to initiate offense but he’s not a high usage, primary creator. Defense and smart, selective offense will be his calling, which is rotation worthy. If he develops a catch and shoot 3 point shot (not likely but far easier than shooting off the bounce), he becomes a potential starter in the right system.
Best Team Fit: San Antonio Spurs (Shooting Chip Engelland has a fantastic history of reconstructing shots, and if GPII gets a workable jumper he could be the steal of the draft. The Spurs also need an athleticism infusion on the wing and more defensive perimeter personnel to match up with the Warriors).
Floor Outcome: A Bigger & More Athletic Patrick Beverley Who Can’t Shoot
Ceiling Outcome: Marcus Smart Lite With a Touch More Playmaking
Ranking Justification: Staying consistent with the two way playmaking theme with a feel and athleticism floor, Payton II edges out Korkmaz and LeVert here as his potentially elite defense trumps likely non-elite offense. I honestly don’t feel great about this ranking, but would have GPII no worse than 19th anyway. He could have displayed better defensive effort at times at Oregon State, as he didn’t always play with the ball in high usage situations. I’m just betting on his defensive impact here, outstanding athleticism/toughness and competent feel on offense, cementing the point that defense is undervalued.
NBA Position: Other ->Offensive Secondary Handler + 4 Capability (Category 6) -> Secondary Two-Way Handler (Category 2)
Positional Size/Athleticism: Possesses plus height for a wing at 6’9” with reportedly over a 7 foot wingspan. Not an advanced frame at this stage at 205 pounds with questions about long-term strength addition, limiting his positional versatility some. Fluid athleticism with some bounce in space and a long-strider. Can really eat up space off the bounce and has good range on defense. Above the rim athlete is space with a head of steam. Incredibly fluid athletically, especially with the ball at his size. A little stiff in the hips, which hinders his ability to sit down in an athletic stance on defense on ball. Has above average lateral agility with good feet but isn’t elite there. Solid first step + burst combination, especially changing speeds freezing the defense with hesitation moves.
Shooting: High, smooth release but with wavering follow-through mechanics. Gets his shot off quickly off the bounce, and has the size to shoot over most defenders. Not the quickest release off the catch but should be able to shoot over closeouts with his size.
Creation: Grab and go transition player who has the handle and vision to push the ball and make decisions. Operates well in pick and roll changing directions and splitting. Gets low to turn the corner in PNR. Uses a plethora of advanced dribble moves like yo-yo dribbles, in and out hesitation moves and crossovers to create space. Can operate in PNR and make contested pull-up jumpers. Plus passer with good vision, keeping his head up attacking the basket for the most part.
Defense/Rebounding: Solid team defender with good help side awareness to rotate over from the weak side to muck up actions. Has good range in rotations covering ground quickly with his long strides. Does tend to gamble a lot and overextends at times reaching. Stiffness in hips and a corresponding inability to sink down in his stance limits his upside as an on-ball defender sliding laterally and navigating around screens. Gets caught on to many screens and doesn’t have the hip flexibility and agility to really navigate quickly around screens at the point of attack. High motor and effort level both on defense and attacking the glass should help compensate for non-elite quickness and some stiffness with technique refinement.
Intelligence/Intangibles: Personality appears to be conducive to a team-first construct.
Yellow Flags: The lack of an advanced frame is the worry here, for if Zagorac has the ability to play more small ball four he would have a considerable agility + handling advantage at the position.
Translation/How He’ll Win in the NBA: Zagorac is a 6’9” wing with advanced ball-skills, a workable jump shot and has the size + above average feet to not be a liability on defense. Based on the aforementioned information you might think this ranking is too low for him, and it very well could be. I do question the shooting legitimacy without ideal shot mechanics (especially off the catch being as though he’ll play mostly off-ball in the league) and while his slashing is good in space I worry about his ability to finish over length and through contact against better athletes. If he had the frame to slide down to the four and hold his own on the glass I would absolutely move him up due to his handle and agility advantage there (he might still be able to). Still, Zagorac’s skillset should fit well in a team construct, and I expect he will be at least an average defender off-ball. He doesn’t project to be a plus defender because of his stiff hips on-ball or navigating screens off-ball, but his size and feet should be good enough to make him passable there. If he shoots it well off the catch (he should be at least average here) and can add his playmaking attacking closeouts and running secondary pick and rolls, he’ll return value at this spot.
Best Team Fit:Denver Nuggets (the Nuggets always show a proclivity for drafting international players, and Zagorac could slide in next to Gallo eventually at the 3 and really maximize his fluid handle in transition).
Outcome Range/Player Comparisons:
Floor Outcome: A Poor-Man’s Chandler Parsons
Ceiling Outcome: A Variation of Good Chandler Parsons
Ranking Justification: Zagorac benefits here from his size and ball-skills on the wing with passable defense. He’s not a primary handler in the league for sure, but is an appealing secondary handler at the wing spot. His ball skills keep him ahead of Zipser and Prince, both of whom are straight line attack closeouts guys who aren’t as adept handling + passing. The aforementioned two will probably defend better on the NBA level, but neither project as lockdown guys. Thus, Zagorac’s higher offensive ceiling and passable defensive floor is more impactful than a lower offensive ceiling with a non-elite defensive ceiling. Zagorac also edges out secondary handlers like Korkmaz and LeVert with his size advantage on defense.
NBA Position Range: Off-ball 3 Point Shooter With “SG Size” (category 10) -> Secondary Handler (Category 4)
Positional Size/Athleticism: Possesses plus height (reportedly 6’7”) for a wing with “shooting guard” size. Narrow, skinny frame at 185 pounds and mixed reports on length. Long term frame concerns having the same body without improvement for some time. Bouncy athleticism in the open court as a leaper and finisher. Plus first step + burst combination to get into the lane. Fluid athlete running the court and changing direction with pace. Very limited sinking into his defensive stance (could be hip flexibility).
Shooting: High “sling-shot” above the head quick release without a consistent follow-through permits him to shoot over contests. Catches both off the hop and on the 1-2 with good shot preparation, aiding his lightning quick release. Can shoot quickly coming off screens without being fully on balance.
Creation: Rare ability to shoot over defenders off the bounce. Demonstrates the skill to shot-fake and make one-dribble pull-up jumpers or step to the side threes. Adept running a PNR as both a scorer shooting off the bounce and creating for teammates. Can make all the passes and reads in PNR with good pace and awareness. Very agile with the ball, creating space by quick change of direction and utilizing step-back moves. Has some shake as a handler, even though his handle isn’t advanced and can get a bit loose at times. Good burst attacking closeouts with a crafty floater game. Shows good awareness as a cutter. Rarely gets all the way to the rim and doesn’t have the frame to finish through contact.
Defense/Rebounding: A minus on-ball defender with his frame limitations and stance. Gets run through too often and dislodged containing the ball in penetration. Doesn’t have elite lateral quickness. Does not sit down far enough in an athletic stance and instead hunches over. Hard to tell if it’s just a technique issue or he has stiff hips that prevent him from doing so. Doesn’t have much defensive versatility due to frame limitations to guard bigger wings and lack of elite quickness on ball defending lead guards. Gets caught on screens too often. Mixed bag as an off-ball defender. Shows the ability to shoot the gap for steals. Late recognizing rotation responsibilities on the weak side. Overaggressive at times leading to backcuts.
Intelligence/Intangibles: Has played a lot of high level basketball for his age and has fantastic experience
Red Flags: Similar to LeVert (though without the medical flags) Korkmaz has sizable long-term frame concerns that really limit his defensive upside.
Translation/How He’ll Win in the NBA: At his floor outcome, Korkmaz is a spot up shooter who can get his shot off with good rhythm tendencies and a high, super quick release. He can also attack closeouts with a plus first step and has some playmaking chops. Basically, that’s an NBA rotation player. His role outside of that is dependent on his off the dribble shooting prowess and frame/technique improvement defensively. Korkmaz has CJ McCollum esque off the dribble shooting prowess, possessing good agility and shake with the ball. That combination paired with his high release point affords him a promising package to shoot/create off the dribble, which he’ll need to do at a high level if he’s going to be an impactful player with minus defense. Speaking of defense, it’s hard to forecast Korkmaz defending in positive fashion at the NBA level. We’ve never seen frame improvement from him, and if his ability to sink in his stance is hip flexibility related he might always play too high on ball, rendering him potentially a substantial minus on that end. If Furk defends at even an average level this ranking is too low, but I’m betting he wont. He looks to have the makings of a legitimate secondary creator/shooter, but his lack of defensive acumen and lack of switching potential will likely keep off starting level on a good team.
Best Team Fit: Chicago Bulls (The Bulls presumptively have Butler to cover up for Furkan on defense and Furk’s skill-set would fit nicely in Hoiberg’s motion system).
Outcome Range/Player Comparisons:
Floor Outcome: A Variation of Evan Fournier
Ceiling Outcome: Taller CJ McCollum with Better Vision
Ranking Justification: Korkmaz has playmaking chops and is a better bet to shoot off the dribble than LeVert, and when factoring in health Korkmaz slightly edges out the latter. Zagorac edges out Furk with his size advantage and ability to potentially be an above average NBA defender. This is maybe a conservative ranking of Korkmaz, but I’m sticking with the two-way playmaking wing bias. Korkmaz just has too many questions on the defensive side of the ball, even though he might be the best all around shooter in the draft factoring in off the dribble shooting.
NBA Position: Off-ball 3 Point Shooter With “SG Size” (category 10) -> Secondary Handler (Category 4)
Positional Size/Athleticism: Excellent height at 6’7” for a wing with “shooting guard size” and plus length ( conflicting reports of 7’0” wingspan v. 6’10” wingspan). Narrow build/frame at 200 pounds Fluid athlete with a quick first step and the ability to naturally change speeds. Not an explosive vertical athlete but can get above the rim in space.
Shooting: Elite spot up shooter with a high, quick release and compact mechanics (1.412 PP on catch and shoot jumpers on the HC, only behind Hield). Inconsistent in following through, but the results at high usage speaks for itself (career 334 3PAs, 40.1%). Can set his feet quickly with good balance coming off screens to shoot quickly. Not a fluid off the dribble shooter on pullups and consistently short-circuits his release (.576 PPP on HC dribble jumpers, a poor metric).
Creation: Adept pick and roll handler with great vision and the first step/burst combination to get into the lane. Consistently plus finisher with a legitimate floater game but struggles to finish through contact with his frame. Very adept passer with great vision on the move attacking the basket, capable of making all the passes (skips, dop-offs, pocket passes). Has some shake navigating in PNR, rejecting and splitting screens with hesitation and acceleration moves changing speeds. Has an above average handle but it doesn’t translate to consistent space creation. Go-to move is a dribble step-back to his left. Doesn’t usually get all the way to the rim or to the foul line consisently.
Defense/Rebounding: God lateral quickness defending on ball when he sits down. Doesn’t absorb contact well containing dribble penetration retreating due to his frame, and gets dislodged too easily. Limited versatility defensively, and doesn’t look to have the screen navigation ability + elite quicks to defend lead guards, or the strength/size to switch onto bigger wings. Not a heavy steals guy defending the passing lanes and shows inconsistent awareness as an off-ball defender.
Intelligence/Intangibles: Very cerebral player who plays a team first game.
Red Flags: LeVert may get medically red flagged due to his continuing foot injuries, and if so he might just be taken off most teams’ draft boards, especially for 2 years of guaranteed money in round one. Frame development is also a concern.
40 Minutes Pace Adjusted
Translation/How He’ll Win in the NBA: LeVert is a 6’7″ wing with high intelligence, ball-skills and the ability to shoot in elite fashion off the catch. That provides a very enticing package in the right system. He doesn’t profile as a lead guard, lacking the ability to get all the way to the basket consistently, but similar to Korkmaz he has the ability to run a secondary pick and roll at a high level once the defense is already bent, and can really add value as a shooter spotting up and running off screens. The issue with LeVert is the defensive end, where he projects as below average to barely passable. He’s probably a one position defender right now who will get killed in some switches by high level teams (whether on the perimeter or in the post). If he hits his ceiling outcome and adds some strength + refines his defensive tendencies this ranking is too low. LeVert is a really good basketball player who plays the right way and has basically everything you look for in a secondary creator. His floor is a valuable rotation player who can run the offense at times.
Best Team Fit: Golden State Warriors (But of course)
Outcome Range/Player Comparisons:
Floor Outcome: A better shooting Alec Burks
Ceiling Outcome: A combination of CJ McCollum (minus the midrange game) & Devin Booker’s spot up prowess
Ranking Justification: LeVert and Korkmaz are very similar player archetypes. Both project as below average defenders, but I’d give a slight advantage to LeVert there who at least flashes the ability to sit down and contain on ball. Korkmaz however has the higher offensive upside with his ability to shoot off the dribble with his high release point. Korkmaz is also considerably younger than LeVert, and doesn’t have the same riddled injury concerns. Both guys have creation upside as secondary handlers who can really shoot the ball, and Korkmaz’s higher offensive ceiling outweights LeVert’s when we’re talking about likely below average defense from both. Both guys have plus ball skills, and thus trump Zipser and Prince.
NBA Position: Off Ball 3pt Shooters w/ “Small Forward” Size + 4 Capability -> 3&D Wing + 4 Capability
Positional Size/Athleticism: Plus size at 6’8” for a wing with a strong, athletic frame at 210 pounds and above average length (6’11.5” wingspan). More fluid than explosive athletically, but has some quiet bounciness to finish above the rim in space off of 1 or 2 feet. Plus first step attacking closeouts with good burst to get to the rim and finish powerfully. Underrated athlete.
Shooting: Plus size and high release point allow him to shoot over smaller defenders. A 1-2 shooter off the catch and has a longer release, but can compensate with height and release point advantage. Mostly a stand-still spot up shooter but has flashed some promising off the dribble pull up ability, where he can again shoot over most defenders.
Creation: Mostly a spot-up shooter and attack closeouts player. Good combination of a first step and the ability to attack going right or left (especially baseline) on closeouts. Can finish with both hands and has good body control in the air absorbing contact with his strong frame to finish, but isn’t an overly creative finisher. Adept at making passes on the move in those situations such as drop-offs. Limited handle at this stage that severely limits his creation ability. Not shifty with the ball and doesn’t have any wiggle. Not an experienced or adept pick and roll player due to his handle and inability to change speeds/direction well. Unselfish player who makes the extra pass and keeps the ball moving. Good slashing upside with cutting awareness and ability to finish through contact. Can also move smaller players on the offensive glass. Doesn’t draw fouls at a high rate.
Defense/Rebounding: Plus feet sliding laterally in an athletic stance on-ball and is a consistent high effort defender who usually sits down and can really switch. Great at keeping his arms up contesting shots on closeouts and mirroring in passing lanes. Very adept keeping his balance on closeouts changing directions in start/stop situations with ease. Strong frame enables him to absorb contact retreating to contain dribble penetration without getting dislodged. Frame also enables him to guard some fours without giving up too much in the way of post defense and on the glass. Has the strength and toughness to battle against bigger players.
Intelligence/Intangibles: Plays within himself and understands who he is as a player.
Yellow Flags: Zipser’s creation ceiling is very low at 22 without the ability to get his own shot. He has value as a 3&D archetype who can attack closeouts competently with the toughness to kick to the 4 spot, but if he doesn’t shoot it well he’s not going to provide much offense otherwise.
Translation/How He’ll Win in the NBA: Zipser has a very clear route to success in the league as a 3&D role player who can make thress with his high release and kick over to the 4 spot to get added playmaking on the court while retaining the spacing. He reminds me some of Jonas Jerebko in that combo-forward role. I really like Zipser’s physicality and toughness defensively. Unfortunately, Zipser basically has to shoot it well to add value offensively, and that’s always dicey to predict. He does have plus indicators as a shooter (41.9% on 372 3PAs in European play and 82% on 374 FTs), and has a high, smooth release. Basically, he’s a weak side shooter on offense and a player capable of switching 2-4 (with perhaps even greater potential than that) on O.
Best Team Fit: Oklahoma City Thunder (OKC could really use a bigger combo forward who can space on O and switch on D. Kyle Singler isn’t the answer)
Outcome Range/Player Comparisons:
Floor Outcome: A Variation of Jonas Jerebko
Ceiling Outcome: A Better Version of GSW Version of Harrison Barnes
Ranking Justification: I think Zipser is a safer bet to defend in a man construct and I like his shooting mechanics more than Prince, thus he slightly edges the latter out.
NBA Position Range: Off Ball 3pt Shooters w/ “Small Forward” Size + 4 Capability -> 3&D Wing + 4 Capability
Positional Size/Athleticism: Plus height (6’7.75”) and developed, athletic frame at 220 with above average length 6’11.5” for an NBA wing. Strong core strength. Can really explode vertically off of two feet. Fluid athlete running the court in transition with plus straight line speed. Quick twitch athlete on defense reacting to dribble moves.
Shooting: Displays good rhythm tendencies on his catch and shoot shot, catching in shooting position on the hop and the 1-2. Has a high, compact and fluid release that he can get off quickly without a ball dip. Doesn’t get a lot of lift on his shot. Flashes a dribble pull-up game, and can set his feet quickly coming off screens, albeit with low frequency.
Creation: Mostly a spot up catch and shoot + straight line driver attacking closeouts skill-set. Can post up against sizable mismatches and possess a threat as a cutter with his two-foot athletic finishes. Threat on putbacks on the offensive glass with two-foot leaping athleticism. Minus vision as a passer and playmaker. Doesn’t see the floor well attacking the basket. Not a good bet to pass well at the NBA level. Quick one dribble step back to create space. Minus handle/burst/shake combination caps his creation upside. Not adept at handling in a PNR setting.
Defense/Rebounding: Hard to evaluate in Baylor’s zone. Off-ball awareness and instincts have never impressed. Consistently out of position rotating from the weak side. Has quick twitch reactions defending on ball with plus lateral agility when he sits down. Good at contesting on closeouts on balance, and can cover ground with his mobility. Theoretically has the size/frame and quicks to switch 1-4.
Intelligence/Intangibles: Doesn’t have a good feel for the game and plays outside of his skill-set at times.
Yellow Flags: Basketball intelligence is definitely a concern here, especially defensively coming from Baylor’s zone scheme and when overlapped with his limited creation upside. It might take him a significant amount of time to adapt to NBA defensive schemes.
40 Minutes Pace Adjusted
Translation/How He’ll Win in the NBA: Prince has the prototype 3&D plus 4 potential build with switching potential, only, we don’t really know if he can do either of those things that well. I’m more confident in his shooting ability, as he displays good rhythm tendencies and has a mechanically sound release. The defensive intelligence is a huge question, as I was never especially impressed with him instincts wise in the zone. It might take Prince a significant amount of time to learn NBA man schemes and adjust to the speed of the game recognition wise there, as well as how to read defenses on closeouts. He probably will never pass well in the league, but he at least needs to be more competent there. It took DeMarre Carroll until his 6th season at age 27 to be an impactful NBA player, and Prince could be looking at a similar timeframe.
Best Team Fit: Oklahoma City Thunder (Same rationale, and Donovan doesn’t run a complex motion scheme that would undress Prince’s lack of passing/playmaking).
Outcome Range/Player Comparisons:
Floor Outcome: A Poor Man’s version of Trevor Ariza who Shoots like Al-Farouq Aminu
Ceiling Outcome: Variation of DeMarre Carroll
Ranking Justification: 3&D wings who can switch are in high demand right now and cost too much on the free agent market. I’m honestly not sure if Prince can do either, but it’s worth a shot to find out at 20.
*Stats provided by Draftexpress.com, hoop-math.com, realgm.com and sports-reference.com.