The highly anticipated, rescheduled, most likely virtual 2020 NBA Draft is later this month. Back in 2018 I did a top 5 steals and top 5 busts of the draft. Go ahead and check that out for a good laugh… It was fun to make predictions and look at those predictions 2 seasons later to see how blatantly wrong I was… on most things. I had a take or two that are still up in the air.
The 2020 Draft class could go down as one of the weakest in terms of talent in many years. It does not help that teams have not been able to put these prospects through in-person workouts as they would under normal circumstances.
YouTube scouting videos can only tell you so much. This makes having a competent front office even more important. This draft will help separate the men from the boys when it comes to the decision makers in an organization.
A widely questioned draft class combined with the limited in-person access to prospects could lead to teams choosing a player with high bust potential… It also breeds opportunity to find a diamond in the rough.
Here are my predictions for the steals and busts of the 2020 NBA Draft. No particular order.
Five Steals of the 2020 NBA Draft
1. Jaden McDaniels — Freshman SF/PF, Washington
McDaniels has been sliding through draft boards… only he is sliding the wrong direction. A few months ago, he was a top 20 pick in almost every mock draft. Now it is rare to see him in the first round. He is one of the youngest players in the draft class which makes him a project for which ever team he falls to. He could even see some time in the G League to develop, but we have seen numerous recent All Stars who have paid their dues in the G League and it proves to be a successful developmental tool. He reminds me of Kevin Durant with his length and ability to shoot over anybody. I’m not saying he will be Kevin Durant… but if he is… everyone has to credit me for the foresight.
2. Aaron Nesmith — Sophomore SF, Vanderbilt
Nesmith has been touted as the best shooter in this draft class. It is not hard to come up with that analysis when you see some of the shooting forms this class of draftees has to offer. In all seriousness, look this guy up on YouTube. His shot form and quick release is perfectly suited for today’s NBA. Every team should be in the market for deadeye shooting. We could see how much teams value shooting with where he falls in the draft. If he can have the consistency from the 3-point line that he showed in college, he will enjoy a long, happy career.
3. Tyrese Maxey — Freshman SG, Kentucky
Yet another Kentucky guard that is flying a bit under the radar. Much like Tyler Herro last year, Tyrese Maxey has not gotten the hype he deserves… even if he is represented by the same agent as Lebron James and other top NBA players. John Calipari breeds NBA stars and Maxey is no different. He plays like Russell Westbrook. There is no off-switch. He is all go 100% of the time. His vision and playmaking ability is fit for the NBA already. Slightly undervalued right now and projected as a mid-late first round pick. Pencil him in as a guy to watch if teams trade back in this top heavy draft.
4. Cassius Stanley — Freshman SG, Duke
Cassius Stanley was recruited to become the next Duke great coming out of High School. There was so much hype going into his Freshman season under Coach K. His lone season was underwhelming to say the least. Although, he did show flashes of his potential. I think he may have suffered from the “Too many options” on the Duke roster much like Wendell Carter did two years ago. There were too many big-name Freshman at Duke which watered down the potential for Cassius Stanley. He has elite athleticism that has been on display through social media over the shutdown. Another very young, talented player who could use some time in the G League to get his NBA footing. Right now, he is projected as a mid-second round pick. Any team that lands him in that range can pat themselves on the back for getting the steal of this 2020 NBA Draft.
5. Cole Anthony — Freshman PG, North Carolina
I realize this may come as a shock to a lot of people seeing Cole Anthony on the sleeper list… Hear me out. He looked bad in his only season at North Carolina… Anybody could tell you that. Look at the team around him… He had no help. He was forced to take bad, contested shots because those shots were better decisions than passing to any of the other 4 North Carolina players on the court. He could be a case of a guy who gets drafted into a good situation. His fall down the draft boards could ultimately help his career. If he were to be drafted by the Knicks, we could have him turn out to be a major bust. I have faith that he lands with a team and a coach that can help him grow into the player he was recruited to be out of High School.
Five Busts of the 2020 NBA Draft
1. R.J. Hampton — International PG/SG
One of the most interesting storylines of this draft is going to be “Where does R.J. Hampton land?” A very intriguing guard prospect that took a similar route to the draft as potential №1 pick, Lamelo Ball. Hampton took his talents overseas rather than playing in College. He was highly recruited out of High School by top college names like Duke, Kansas and Kentucky but chose to make the move into the international circuit. Since then, we have not seen or heard much about him. He does work heavily with well-known NBA trainer, Tyler Relph as seen in plenty of YouTube and Facebook videos. However, with the number of unknowns about Hampton, I had to land him on the bust list… I hope he proves me wrong.
2. Obi Toppin — Sophomore SF/PF, Dayton
One of the eldest players in this year’s draft turning 23 in March of 2021 is Dayton’s Obi Toppin. After redshirting his freshman season due to academic ineligibility, Obi was on a mission. His redshirt freshman season he averaged 14.4 points and almost 5 rebounds a game. He followed that up in his Sophomore season by leading Dayton to a top 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament which was cancelled due to Coronavirus. Toppin was a man amongst boys in College which is why I have to land him on this list. I do not think he will be able to bully NBA big men like he did in his time at Dayton. He does remind me a Blake Griffin type player who has obviously not turned out to be a bust, but unless Toppin improves his outside shooting game, he will be very limited in the NBA and could turn out to be a major flop.
3. Precious Achiuwa — Freshman PF, Memphis
A five-star recruit out of High School, Achiuwa was as advertised in his sole season at Memphis. He averaged a double-double and has been crawling up draft boards every week it seems. He reminds me of Miles Turner with his strong frame, quick feet and shot blocking ability. However, he resembles too much of an old school big man. Back to the basket type of player which the NBA has moved away from. I struggle to see where he would fit in on an offense. Everyone can use an athletic shot-blocking big man to protect the paint, but he seems limited offensively which is why he lands on the bust list for me.
4. Tyrese Haliburton — Sophomore PG, Iowa State
This was a touch decision to put Haliburton on the bust list. He has the skill, basketball IQ and playmaking ability to make a living at the next level… But I don’t think he should be drafted as high as he is projected. His shot form is the major concern for me. It is a slow, awkward release which worked at the collegiate level, but with bigger, faster, stronger defenders in the NBA, I’m not sure he will have time to get his shot off. This limits his offensive potential. He reminds me of what Markelle Fultz is today. Not the Markelle Fultz from college… Pre-yips. He will post an occasional triple double and can be a solid rotational player for any NBA team… (His game Oozes San Antonio Spur to me) But considering where he will get drafted, that lands him on the bust list. When we look back and do the 2020 NBA Re-Draft 5 years from now, he will fall in the late first round rather than a top 10 pick.
5. Anthony Edwards — Freshman SG, Georgia
Last but not least… I have the potential and likely number #1 overall pick as a bust. This take will probably look horrible a year or two from now, but what is this list without a couple hot takes? Edwards has been knocked for his lack of effort in some instances which will not fly in the NBA. He must put in the work to become who he compares himself to and that is Dwayne Wade. I see more Victor Oladipo in Edwards like may do, but without the proper hunger and work ethic, his natural ability will only carry him so far. He lands on the bust list for me because of those question marks surrounding his attitude and drive. See me in two seasons throwing this back in my face.