It took a while, but the 2020 NBA Draft is finally here.
As it’s been widely discussed, this is a class without a whole lot of superstar potential at the top.
Introduced below are the top 10 point guards, based on ESPN’s top 100 at the time of writing, headlined by LaMelo Ball, the genius passer with questionable decision making, a little bit of an injury history and also one of the weirdest paths to the NBA ever seen. In a way, he’s the perfect face for this weird class in a weird year.
The stats cited in this post were researched at our own stats’ database, hoop-math, barttorvik.com and NBA.com/stats.
LaMelo Ball (1st on ESPN’s top 100)
Ball has had an unorthodox path to the NBA, starting with when he was fast-tracked into high school, in order to play with his brothers in that famous 15-16 Chino Hills squad, which also had Onyeka Okongwu in it.
Then he spent some time in Lithuania with Prienu Vytautas, which ended up being more of a marketing ploy than a worthy developmental opportunity.
Right after that, he played a few games in his father’s pirate league, then enrolled at SPIRE Institute to finish his high school education.
Almost certainly expected to be ruled ineligible by the NCAA to play in college, given his professional experience and the shoe deal he had with his father’s apparel company, Ball signed with the Australian NBL through their “Next Stars” initiative and was assigned to the Illawarra Hawks, a bottom tier team in that league.
All things considered that experience went fairly well before an ankle injury ended his season after just 13 appearances. Ball had a lot of opportunity to act as the focal point of the offense, logging 27.2% usage rate and assisting on 36.9% of Illawarra’s scores when he was on the floor.
Rumored to be six-foot-seven, the point guard is an excellent passer. It’s hard to say he’s as good a shot creator for others in transition as his brother is, but I think it’s fair to say he’s better out of the pick-and-roll against a set defense.
Ball can see over the defense in traffic, can anticipate passing lanes a split second before they come open and has shown a good deal of versatility to his passing on the move, in terms of being able to deliver hook passes to the opposite side off a live dribble, as well as hit the roll man with good timing.
That 36.9% assist rate led the Australian NBL.
Ball is a tad overaggressive in his attempts to threat to needle and turns the ball over quite a bit – averaging 3.2 turnovers per 40 minutes last season. Nonetheless, his 2.67 assist-to-turnover ratio ranks second on ESPN’s top 100.
As a threat to score, he is not as impressive. His 47.9% true shooting is the third-worst mark on ESPN’s top 100 and he needed 20.7 field goal attempts per 40 minutes to average his 21.9 points per 40 minutes.
Ball is not especially quick as a straight-line driver but has proven himself capable of getting all the way to the basket in pick-and-roll. He is a promising finisher around the basket, able to go up with power with a head of steam and flashing some versatility to his finishing, in terms of adjusting his body in the air and completing some acrobatic finishes from time to time.
There is a need to improve his ability to play through contact, though. His 23.7% free throw rate is a bottom 10 mark in this draft.
If left unchallenged, Ball can nail the occasional pull-up three-pointer. Mostly out of the pick-and-roll. In isolation, there were some impressive moments where he created separation off a side-step or a between-the-legs move, but not as much on step-backs and shaking an opponent off balance.
Off the ball, Ball can hit some open shots, but his release is quite unorthodox, with a pretty low release point. He shot just 27.9% of his 86 three-point shots last season, though at a pace of 8.4 such attempts per 40 minutes.
Ball improved the perception of him on defense, bending his knees to get down in a stance, working to go over picks at the point of attack and showing some effort to slide laterally to try staying in front in isolation.
But he won’t be confused with a shutdown defender any time soon, usually struggling to navigate over screens and making a real impact chasing from behind, as well as lacking the strength to chest up and contain dribble penetration through contact in isolation.
Ball can jump a passing lane and averaged 2.0 steals per 40 minutes last season, but the for the most part, he’s not all that engaged as a weakside defender.
Full scouting report: https://basketball.realgm.com/article/256544/Prospect-Report-LaMelo-Ball-Of-The-Illawarra-Hawks
Tyrese Haliburton (8th)
Haliburton was once the 172nd-ranked recruit out of high school in the 2018 high school class. Two years later, he’s likely to end up a lottery pick.
The six-foot-five point-guard was a key piece on the Team USA squad that won the 2019 U19 World Cup in Crete and earned All-Tournament honors.
He followed up that strong summer with a good season in his second year at Iowa State.
Haliburton is neither a sick athlete nor a volume scorer, by any means.
But he’s smart and contributes by keeping the offense moving off the ball, hitting open three-pointers on spot-ups (despite his unorthodox release) and being able to create for others in pick-and-roll. He is the exact sort of player likely to look better when surrounded by better players. That’s why he’s expected to go so high on the draft, even though he doesn’t profile as a threat to score operating on the ball.
Haliburton took over half of his shots from three-point range and 81.6% of his makes from such a zone were assisted. There were also glimpses of development in terms of being able to take shots on the move.
He nailed 38.8% of his 87 three-point shots last season, at a pace of 6.7 such attempts last season, after hitting 43.4% of his 113 long-range bombs as a freshman.
On the ball, Haliburton is not as capable of creating separation to pull-up, unless he’s left completely unbothered, and doesn’t have the speed to get all the way to the basket, neither in pick-and-roll nor in isolation.
His 18.4% free throw rate is the fourth-lowest mark on ESPN’s top 100 and he took just a quarter of his live-ball attempts at the rim.
Haliburton has good court vision on the move, though. He’s not as genius a passer as Ball, but he’s proven himself capable of delivering crosscourt passes against the momentum of his body, as well as pocket posses to the roll man with great timing – assisting on 37.7% of Iowa State’s scores when he was on the floor last season.
On the other end, Haliburton is more effective off the ball. He’s active and leverages his speculated seven-foot wingspan into making plays in the passing lanes with deflections or steals, with his average of 2.7 steals per 40 minutes tied for the best-mark on ESPN’s top 100 (alongside Leandro Bolmaro).
He’s also shown some potential as a contributor near the rim, not just in terms of bouncing off the ground quickly to bat away lobs but also block a shot more than on occasion – picking up 45 blocks in 57 NCAA appearances across two seasons.
On the ball, Haliburton is decent defending the pick-and-roll; icing ball-screens towards the help, getting skinny over screens at the point of attack and hustling in pursuit to bother from behind with some effectiveness.
But in isolation, he struggled to stay in front of shiftier types and lacks the strength to contain dribble penetration through contact against true wings.
Full scouting report: https://basketball.realgm.com/article/256889/Prospect-Report-Tyrese-Haliburton-Of-Iowa-State
Killian Hayes (10th)
Hayes surprised some people when he chose to transfer from French side Cholet, where he had spent most of his youth, to German side Ulm, a mid-table team in that league, in the summer of 2019. But that decision turned out to be quite a wise move for his development.
The six-foot-five combo guard transitioned to the point full time and was empowered by head coach Jaka Lakovic, who constructed a reasonably strong support system around him on offense.
Hayes developed into a very good shot creator for others within that system. His 38.7% assist rate last season is the best mark on ESPN’s top 100, as he exceled out of the pick-and-roll.
The 18-year-old has already developed a good deal of versatility operating off the ball-screen, both in terms of handle and feel to manipulate the on-ball defender through the pick, as well as activating the roll man with pocket passes or lobs and the weakside shooters with hook passes against the momentum of his body or jump-passes over the defense to the opposite corner.
But on the flipside, he’s overly aggressive in his attempts to thread the needle in traffic. His average of 5.2 turnovers per 40 minutes is tied for the worst mark on ESPN’s top 100 and his 1.68 assist-to-turnover ratio can be considered quite pedestrian, given how high his assist total was.
As a threat to score, the lefty can get all the way to the basket in pick-and-roll, if supported by good spacing, via hesitation moves and dancing with the ball behind the screen. He is not generally an explosive leaper off one foot in traffic but acts as a rim level finisher and has flashed some advanced stuff around the goal.
Hayes stood out a little more with his ability to hit a pull-up jumper against soft coverage, though. He is not especially aggressive looking to create separation to pull-up but shot very well from mid-range when left unchallenged due to the on-ball defender sagging off him or getting stuck on the pick.
Hayes hasn’t yet shown enough range to hit enough of those looks from three-point range but the comfort with which he’s able to take these jumpers off the bounce in rhythm suggests that he’ll eventually extend out to long range.
Hayes shot 58.8% on 182 two-pointers last season, which is the third-best mark among point guards on ESPN’s top 100.
He didn’t do as well in isolation, in large part due to the fact that he’s not as quick going to his right hand. The southpaw is a capable shot maker against favorable matchups but not much more than that yet.
He also struggled to contribute away from the ball – missing 70.6% of his 102 three-point shots last season. Hayes has a track record of hitting free throws at a nice clip, so the touch seems to be in place for a catch-and-shoot stroke to be built upon, but for now there isn’t a lot of consistency to his release on spot-ups.
He is engaged defending on the ball, bending his knees to get down in a stance and showing some good moments leveraging his six-foot-eight wingspan to envelope smaller point guards one-on-one. That said, given his 216-pound frame, his physicality left something to be desired, as it was uncommon to see him chest up and contain dribble penetration through contact. Because of that, despite the fact he can be considered a big guard due to his physical profile, there is no indication he’s a good option to pick up bigger players on switches or crossmatch onto pure wings.
His impact defending the pick-and-roll was pretty uneven as well. Hayes doesn’t get skinny over a ball-screen cleanly all that often and, though he does put in the effort to hustle in the pursuit, it’s rare to see him make a real impact from behind.
Off the ball, the Lakeside, Florida native shows very pleasing effort hustling back in transition, rotating to pick up the roll man, stunting-and-recovering swiftly and helping clog driving lanes. But other than jumping a passing, he hasn’t shown to be real difference maker in terms of helping protect the rim.
Full scouting report: https://basketball.realgm.com/article/260014/Prospect-Report-Killian-Hayes-Of-Ratiopharm-Ulm
RJ Hampton (14th)
Hampton is probably the most prominent traditional high school recruit to date to skip college and spend his pre-NBA year playing professionally away from the United States, as he spent last season with the New Zealand Breakers, which play the Australian NBL.
The six-foot-five combo guard dealt with a much smaller role in comparison to LaMelo Ball’s at Illawarra. Arriving at a team that started the season hoping to contend for a playoff berth, he was more of an off-guard who had a little bit of secondary shot creation responsibility.
Hampton really impressed in transition, where he’s shown to be naturally inclined to push the ball up the court and flashed nice instincts attacking a scrambling defense. There’s clear potential for him to be developed as the triggerman of a fast-paced attack that focuses on running not just off misses but off makes as well.
The 19-year-old didn’t get to operate as the isolation scorer he was in high school but got opportunities to take his man one-on-one and handle in pick-and-roll against a set defense from time-to-time, logging a healthy 22.4% usage rate in his first year as a pro.
He has developed some advanced moves to create separation to pull-up via in-and-out dribbles, crossovers, hang dribbles and going behind the back in pinch but isn’t a particularly impressive shot maker at this point of his development.
Hampton doesn’t have a quick first step off a dead dribble but flashed some side-to-side shiftiness to attack either side of the screen in pick-and-roll. He also has long strides and can get all the way to the basket working off the pick, as well as a second side guy who can attack off a live dribble or a ball reversal.
Hampton is a very promising finisher, who can go up with power off one foot with a head of steam and has flashed glimpses of versatility against rim protectors around the goal, in terms of being able to hang or adjust his body in the air to complete acrobatic finishes, leveraging his length to over-extend and not being averse to seeking contact meeting a help defender at the summit.
He is a willing shot creator for others, assisting on 17.9% of the New Zealand Breakers’ scores when he was on the floor last season, but hasn’t yet developed advanced versatility to his passing.
The Dallas, Texas native isn’t a reliable floor-spacer yet, missing 70.6% of his 51 three-point shots last season, but his catch-and-shoot stroke looks projectable and he shot well on free throws, suggesting the touch is in place for a jumper off the catch to be built upon in the near future.
Hampton isn’t dead weight off the ball, though. He can play above the rim as a target for lobs in transition and on cuts, as well as act as a threat for the occasional tip dunk while crashing the offensive glass selectively.
Hampton checked opposing point guards quite a bit during his time in New Zealand and had good moments. He can’t get over a screen cleanly at the point of attack but puts in the effort to do so as well as he can, hustles in pursuit to get back attached from behind or from the side and can contest pull-ups with particularly impressive effectiveness at times.
Hampton wasn’t very strong in his first year as a pro, listed with an underdeveloped 188-pound frame in the context of his six-foot-five height, but has broad shoulders that suggest his frame will fill up as soon as he gets under the guidance of an NBA strength and conditioning program. He thus profiles as someone capable of crossmatching onto pure wings and pick up bigger players on switches, having already shown the tenacity to front the post when he exchanged onto big men in his time in the Australian NBL.
Hampton also had some strong highlights defending away from the ball, flying around to create events while executing the scheme.
His average of 0.8 blocks per 40 minutes is tied with Trent Forrest for the best average among point guards on ESPN’s top 100, his 16.3% defensive rebound rate is the second-best mark among the same group and his average of 2.2 steals per 40 minutes ranks sixth.
Full scouting report: https://basketballscouting.wordpress.com/tag/rj-hampton/
Cole Anthony (16th)
Anthony arrived in North Carolina as the second-ranked player in the 2019 high school class, exceling and drawing a lot of hype during his time with Oak Hill Academy and the PSA Cardinals, but had an uneven year in his lone NCAA season, both before and after undergoing surgery to repair a partially torn meniscus in his right knee in mid-December.
It’s hard to say he improved much during his time in Chapel Hill and his statistical profile is quite discouraging but his season was by no means a disaster. He wasn’t able to elevate North Carolina to tournament contention, as that team was likely to miss the NCAA Tournament (had we gone on to have one), but that group dealt with a lot of games missed due to injury.
The 20-year-old is still likely to end up a mid-first round pick because the perception of him remains that he’s the sort of scorer with potential to stretch the defense into a breaking point from three-point range and then put pressure on the rim if given a reasonable amount of space to operate, which wasn’t the case last season.
Anthony is an aggressive pull-up shooter, capable of stepping into three-pointers out of the pick-and-roll against the on-ball defender getting stuck on the screen and creating separation in isolation via side-steps, step-backs, jab-steps and fake spins.
His shot selection is often questionable but he nailed 23 unassisted three-pointers in 22 appearances last season, at a pace of 1.2 such makes per 40 minutes, which ranked fifth among those on ESPN’s top 100 who played in the NCAA.
After drawing the defense out, Anthony had good moments getting all the way to the basket, not just in pick-and-roll but in isolation as well, as he’s shown a quick first step, straight-line speed to blow by and side-to-side shake to get his man off balance.
But North Carolina never truly spaced the floor properly for him, often playing with two centers and Leaky Black, a wing who couldn’t buy a basket away from the rim. His 37.3% free throw rate was noteworthy, but Anthony took just 20% of his live-ball attempts at the basket.
On top of it, he struggled to finish. A highlight dunker in high school and AAU, the Queens, New York native converted just 53.1% of his 69 attempts at the rim in the NCAA. His best makes were impressive, as he proved himself capable of hanging and adjusting his body in the air to unleash double-clutch finishes or over-extend for finger-roll layups.
But he hasn’t yet developed comfort going to his left hand around the goal and the explosiveness he had shown a couple of years ago just wasn’t there last year.
Often bottled up in the mid-range, with 39.1% of his live-ball attempts on two-pointers away from the rim, Anthony pulled the trigger on a bunch of overly ambitious jumpers with a hand in his face and off-balance runners/floaters. He hit those low percentage looks one third of the time and such poor shot selection tanked his efficiency.
His .451 effective field goal percentage is a bottom 10 mark on ESPN’s top 100 and his average of 4.0 turnovers per 40 minutes is the sixth-worst mark among point guards in that same group.
Anthony is a willing passer in transition and off drawing two to the ball, assisting on 24.1% of North Carolina’s scores when he was on the floor. There were glimpses of impressive reads by him in pick-and-roll but North Carolina didn’t run a lot of it and when it did, it didn’t space the floor properly, so he’ll enter the NBA yet to prove he can create for others against a set defense consistently well.
Off the ball, Anthony averaged 1.35 assisted three-point makes per 40 minutes and flashed advanced footwork relocating off an escape dribble and running back to the three-point line to receive an extra pass off a kickout by him. He didn’t work off screens much but his footwork on pull-ups and relocating around suggests there’s potential for him to develop into a shooter who could be moved all over the floor.
His best moments on defense are very encouraging and even exciting at times.
He can pick up the occasional chase-down block in transition, stay in front of similar-sized guards out on an island, contain dribble penetration through contact, go over a screen at the point of attack and hustle in pursuit to block a shot from behind with his seven-foot-11 standing reach, as well as play with active hands to try reaching around for steals or deflections.
But Anthony, despite the next level side-to-side quickness seen from him on offense, is prone to getting blown by shiftier types.
He also doesn’t offer much versatility. Listed at six-foot-three at North Carolina, he measured at six-foot-one without shoes at the Nike Hoop Summit a year ago and simply lacks the general size to check pure wings. Away from the ball, Anthony stays active and rotates aggressively to get in the way near the rim but doesn’t stand out as particularly capable of making plays on the ball, though he did have noteworthy contributors as a rebounder, with his 16.1% defensive rebound rate ranking third among point guards on ESPN’s top 100.
Full scouting report: https://basketball.realgm.com/article/258260/Prospect-Report-Cole-Anthony-Of-North-Carolina
Kira Lewis, Jr. (20th)
Lewis is probably the quickest player in this draft class and stood out by touching the paint in volume, often getting into the teeth of the defense and putting a ton of pressure on the rim, whether it was in transition, pick-and-roll or isolation.
The six-foot-one go-go guard has shown a natural inclination for speeding up the pace of the game, even pushing the ball up the court off makes, and averaged 1.93 points per possession in transition.
He can attack either side of the screen in pick-and-roll and has shown to be about as quick going left as he is going to his right. Fast and decisive turning the corner or getting downhill, his speed really forces the defense to dig in in a way that stands out and he still manages to get all the way to the basket in volume.
Lewis took 45.2% of his live-ball attempts at the rim, which is a top five mark among point guards on ESPN’s top 100 who played in the NCAA last season, but struggled to finish efficiently due to a lack of strength and explosiveness in traffic.
There were impressive highlights where he stepped through to create separation to finish around the goal, hung and adjusted his body in the air for reverses or double-clutch finishes, and showed some dexterity using his left hand for scoops.
His average of 3.4 layups per 40 minutes was the fifth-best mark among point guards on ESPN’s top 100 who played in the NCAA, but he shot just 56.5% on 191 layup attempts.
The 19-year-old is a good passer on the move, assisting on 27.7% of Alabama’s scores when he was on the floor, and flashed the mix of court vision and dexterity to deliver hook passes to the opposite side off dribble penetration, but doesn’t stand out as a particularly impressive shot creator for others at this point of his development and averaged 3.8 turnovers per 40 minutes last season.
He is a capable shooter off the bounce, able to nail the occasional step-in or pull-back three-pointer against the on-ball defender going under or getting stuck on the screen in pick-and-roll – hitting 27 unassisted three-pointers in 1,166 minutes last season.
Lewis can carry his weight off the ball as well, having shown legit NBA range on his spot-up attempts – averaging 1.24 points per shot on catch-and-shoot opportunities in the half-court.
Listed at 167 pounds, tied with Isaiah Joe and Vit Krejci as second-thinnest players on ESPN’s top 100, Lewis, Jr. doesn’t offer much resistance in isolation defense. He bends his knees to get down in a stance, slides and contests but can’t contain dribble penetration.
But he has impressed in pick-and-roll against similar-sized players. The Alabama native is tenacious going over picks, applies his superior quickness to recover back quickly and acts as a legit threat to block a pull-up, with his 18 blocks in 31 appearances tied with Trent Forrest for the highest total among point guards on ESPN’s top 100.
Full scouting report: https://basketballscouting.wordpress.com/tag/kira-lewis-jr/
Theo Maledon (24th)
In his second full season as a pro with ASVEL, Maledon earned a little more shot creation responsibility. He still spent some time off the ball in order to accommodate Jordan Taylor and Matthew Strazel but got to handle a little more against a set defense – logging 23% usage rate and assisting on 27.4% of the team’s scores when he was on the floor.
The six-foot-five point-guard stands out with his craft. He controls the pace of the game and impresses with his knack for manipulating the on-ball defender through the pick; with a good feel for using or rejecting the pick and circling back to use the re-screen, making smart use of flipping the screen and low dribbles to split double teams at the point of attack, playing with pace waiting for slower-developing driving lanes, and mixing change of pace and hesitation moves to touch the paint.
He is a decent threat to score in pick-and-roll, capable of stepping into a three-pointer against the on-ball defender going under or getting stuck on the pick and flashing some versatility to his finishing around the goal when he gets all the way there.
Maledon is a good shot creator for others coming off the pick, proving himself able of hitting the roll man with well timed lobs or pocket passes and the weakside shooters with hook passes to the opposite wing or hammer passes to the opposite corner off hanging in the air. But he turned the ball over on almost a fifth of his possessions, which canceled some of his creativity to a pedestrian 1.67 assist-to-turnover ratio.
In isolation, the 19-year-old is pretty limited. He doesn’t have a quick first step, doesn’t have much speed to blow by his defender on a straight line and hasn’t yet shown a deep set of dribble moves.
Away from the ball, Maledon can be considered a good open-shot shooter. His release looks projectable and he flashed some versatility to it, in terms of taking shots on the move as the trailer in transition, off drifting to the corner to create a passing lane for the ballhandler and coming off the occasional pindown screen.
He hit just a third of 117 three-point shots last season, at a pace of 5.9 such attempts per 40 minutes, but had nailed 38.6% of his 127 looks from such a range the year before and has a track record of hitting over 75% of his free throws these last five years.
Maledon had a difficult year on the other end, though.
Often asked to guard taller guards and wings, he fouled a ton, with his average of 6.2 personal fouls per 40 minutes standing out as the second-worst mark on ESPN’s top 100, which limited him to just 17.3 minutes per game in 46 appearances.
Listed at 174 pounds, he’s one of the five thinnest players on ESPN’s top 100, so despite his height, the Rouen native doesn’t profile as a versatile individual defender. He bends his knees to get down in a stance, slides and contests but can’t contain dribble penetration.
Maledon can pitch in a little more in pick-and-roll; if the big man defender can stop the ball and help him get back to the ballhandler’s back, he can block a shot from behind if matched up against smaller players. But he’s only so-so at getting skinny through picks at the point of attack and generally not quick enough to make an impact hustling in pursuit.
Away from the ball, Maledon is attentive to his responsibilities executing the scheme, rotating to pick up the roll man and helping crowd the area near the rim but lacks the athletic ability to do anything more than getting in the way.
He is also not athletic enough to fly around and create events. His rebounding is decent for a point guard but not especially impressive for a tall point guard, as he collected 14.4% of opponents’ misses when he was on the floor last season.
Full scouting report: https://basketballscouting.wordpress.com/tag/theo-maledon/
Nico Mannion (25th)
In his board for the Athletic, John Hollinger pitched the idea of Mannion signing in Europe in order to improve his draft stock as a pre-agreed stash guy. It was a bit staggering considering the perception of him a year ago.
He was the ninth-ranked prospect in the 2019 high school class and mostly held up his status as a likely lottery pick through the non-conference part of Arizona’s schedule.
But against PAC 12 competition, the six-foot-three combo guard averaged just 16.2 points per 40 minutes on 43.4% effective shooting, while missing 69.1% of his three-point shots. He is now viewed as a likely late first rounder.
Mannion is not an advanced operator in terms of manipulating the on-ball defender through the pick, other than flashing a good feel for circling back and using the re-screen, but he’s a very good passer out of the pick-and-roll.
The Siena native has proven himself able of hitting the roll man with well-timed pocket passes, wraparound passes or lobs and the weakside shooters with crosscourt passes against the momentum of his body off a live dribble in traffic – assisting on 31.4% of Arizona’s scores when he was on the floor last season.
He is a creative shot creator for others, while keeping his turnovers in check, with his 2.06 assist-to-turnover ratio ranking fifth among point guards on ESPN’s top 100.
But Mannion struggled as a scorer on the ball. He has the potential to become a legit shot maker off the bounce in pick-and-roll, but the ball didn’t go as much as hoped (just 22 unassisted three-point makes in 32 appearances) and his shot selection was extremely questionable in his one year at Arizona.
He shot a decent 39.4% from mid-range, but in large part due to his efficiency on floaters, as Mannion has shown great dexterity launching these teardrops from the in-between area off turning the corner.
Mannion struggled to create separation against truly athletic defenders in isolation, though. He shot 37.1% from the field in 20 appearances against opponents above .500 and 35.4% in five appearances against opponents ranked in the top 100 in RPI.
In his best moments, he has flashed the ability to nail pull-ups off jab-steps, step-backs, hang dribbles, behind the back dribbles and absorbing contact but it seems that against high level competition, Mannion is just not shifty enough to get a good look off one-on-one.
He doesn’t have an explosive first step or all that much speed with the ball and struggled to get all the way to the rim in volume, in part due to Arizona not often spacing the floor properly but also due to athletic limitations.
Mannion has shown a knack for drawing contact and his 36.2% free throw rate compares favorably to other point guards in this draft class, such as Killian Hayes (31.3%), Kira Lewis, Jr. (29.2%), RJ Hampton (26.4%), LaMelo Ball (23.7%) and Tyrere Haliburton (18.4%).
But he took just one fifth of his live-ball attempts at the basket and hit them at a 53.6% clip, often acting as a below the rim finisher who had a few impressive highlights on acrobatic finishes but ultimately just barely made half of his layups.
Off the ball, Mannion wasn’t properly empowered. In high school, he had shown a good deal of versatility to his release, able to nail long-range bombs off sprinting to the ball for handoffs, relocating off a passing sequence initiated by a kickout of his and curling around a pindown screen.
He has a quick release and has shown a willingness for screening off the ball, which makes him a textbook asset for being moved around the floor, but it didn’t happen much in Tucson.
Between his poor shot selection operating on the ball and the underutilization of his potential off the ball, Mannion shot just 32.4% on his 162 three-point attempts in his lone NCAA season.
On the other end, he’s generally unimpressive. There were good moments of tenacity heating up opposing ballhandlers full court and a few highlights where he moved side-to-side well enough to lock in stiffer types.
But Mannion was also quite prone to getting beat on the first step by true north-and-south types and was generally uneven in pick-and-roll, often struggling to go over a pick and never standing out much in terms of hustling in pursuit to make plays from behind.
He is listed with a 190-pound frame but that seems like an ambitious estimate and hasn’t yet developed enough physicality to be expected to hold up well against bigger players on switches or crossmatching onto pure wings.
Mannion was measured with a six-foot-two wingspan at the 2019 Nike Hoop Summit and doesn’t offer much of anything away from the ball, other than maybe chasing shooters around the floor.
He is the only player on ESPN’s top 100 without a singe block all season, discounting the high schoolers for whom there’s no data available. No player without a single block in his final year prior to entering the NBA has even been drafted in the first round.
Full scouting report: https://basketballscouting.wordpress.com/tag/nico-mannion/
Cassius Winston (29th)
Winston might just be the best developed player in this draft class. Watching him is a clinic in operating via craft, skill and court vision on both ends of the floor. The six-foot point-guard controls the pace of the game and while not impressively fast in the open court, he’s proven himself capable of attacking a scrambling defense in the secondary break extremely well.
Winston has a tight handle manipulating the on-ball defender through the screen in pick-and-roll and while not a speedster getting downhill or turning the corner, he manages to touch the paint by mixing in change of pace, hesitation moves and putting his man in jail.
He is not an explosive leaper off one foot in traffic and doesn’t have all that many resources against trees around the goal, shooting just 51.9% at the rim last season and earning an unimpressive 32.7% free throw rate.
He is not one of those magicians who anticipate passing lanes a split-second before they come open and hasn’t yet shown an ability to make passes across his body to the opposite end of the floor.
But despite the fact he can’t put a lot of pressure on the rim, Winston has proven himself capable of tying up the help and hitting the roll man with well-timed lobs on the move, pocket passes or the occasional acrobatic delivery – assisting on 36.9% of Michigan State’s scores when he was on the floor last season.
He has got good court vision not to drive into a crowd but is prone to picking up his dribble before he should – averaging 3.9 turnovers per 40 minutes.
Winston is a superb mid-range scorer and a capable pull-up three-point shooter, though. He’s shown smooth dexterity launching runners and a good deal of suddenness stopping on a dime to create separation for a jumper.
Winston hit 42.3% of his 307 shots away from the rim last season, including 32 unassisted three-point makes in 30 appearances, with his average of 1.3 such makes per 40 minutes ranking third among point guards on ESPN’s top 100 who played in the NCAA.
Away from the ball, he’s a reliable threat to space the floor on spot-ups. He goes through compact mechanics with a low release out in front but gets a lot of elevation and has proven himself capable of getting his shot off comfortably over most closeouts.
Winston has also flashed a little bit of versatility to his release, on midrange jumpers off dribble-handoffs and coming off pindown screens.
He nailed 43.2% of his 169 three-point shots last season, which is a top 10 mark on ESPN’s top 100.
On the other end, Winston offers very little defending on the ball.
In pick-and-roll, he directs the ballhandler towards the help but lacks the quickness and the length to make a real impact hustling in pursuit. In isolation, he doesn’t have the footspeed to stay in front of north-and-south drivers.
Winston has a well-put together 185-pound frame in the context of his six-foot height but doesn’t have the general size to pick up bigger players on switches or crossmatch onto pure wings.
Away from the ball, he is not a threat to block a shot at the rim, nor is he much of a playmaker in the passing lanes, but Winston has impressed with his ability to execute the scheme and make an impact in the hidden areas of the game by making preventive rotations in help defense that deny opposing ballhandlers space towards driving all the way to the basket.
Full scouting report: https://basketballscouting.wordpress.com/tag/cassius-winston/
Tre Jones (30th)
After taking a backseat to Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett in his first year at Duke, Jones was more aggressive as a sophomore. Vernon Carey, Jr. was the only other high profile shot creator on the team and as a center, he was dependent on others getting him the ball, so there was a lot of opportunity for Jones to control possession and dictate the offense in year two.
His usage rate went from 15.1% as a freshman to 23.9% as a sophomore, with his shot attempts, free throw attempts and turnovers per 40 minutes all rising, as well as his assist percentage going up from 23.8% in year one to 31.8% in year two.
Jones developed into a bit of a gunner, with 42.9% of his live-ball attempts coming from two-point range away from the basket, while he was assisted on just three of his 59 makes from such a range.
The six-foot-three point-guard has shown a knack for getting to his spots in pick-and-roll and a diverse set of dribble moves to create separation in isolation, via in-and-out dribbles, hesitation moves, crossing over between the legs, jab-steps and hang dribbles.
Jones struggled a little more against higher level competition, though. He shot 39% from the field in 17 appearances against opponents above .500 and 35.6% in four appearances against opponents ranked in the Associated Press’ top 25.
The Saint Paul, Minnesota native is a capable three-point shooter off the bounce in pick-and-roll but not yet a threat for making such shots in volume, nailing just 16 unassisted three-pointers in 29 appearances last season.
Jones is not especially fast with the ball and has struggled to blow by big men on switches on occasion but has proven himself capable of getting all he way to the basket a fair amount, if aided by proper spacing. He took 29.5% of his live-ball attempts at the rim and earned a 36.6% free throw rate.
Jones is not an explosive leaper off foot in traffic, generally acting as a below the rim finisher, and hasn’t yet developed a whole lot of dexterity going to his left hand around the basket – converting just 54% of his 113 shots near the goal last season, and that’s while being assisted on almost a fifth of his 61 makes from such a range.
As is the case, Jones is more often looking to pass off dribble penetration and while not a genius passer who can anticipate passing lanes, he has proven himself a good shot creator for others in pick-and-roll, despite his diminutive stature being a hindrance in traffic at times.
His total of 185 assists is the second-highest mark on ESPN’s top 100 and his 2.37 assist-to-turnover ratio is the fourth-best mark.
He also carried his weight off the ball, whenever Carey was posting up – hitting 36.1% of his 108 three-point shots, at a pace of 4.2 such attempts per 40 minutes.
His 4.2 pure point ratio is the third-best mark on ESPN’s top 100, behind only LaMelo Ball and Malachi Flynn.
On the other end, Jones has built a reputation as a good individual defender against similar-sized players.
He bends his knees to get down in a stance, has side-to-side quickness to stay in front out on an island, has flashed some strength to chest up and contain dribble penetration through contact, and leverages his six-foot-four wingspan to play with active hands while looking to reach around for steals.
In pick-and-roll, he gets skinny cleanly going over picks at the point of attack and can make it back in front, if paired with a big man defender who can stop the ball.
Given his general size and lack of particularly special length or strength, Jones is not an option to crossmatch onto wings or pick up bigger players on switches.
He doesn’t really fly around to create events away from the ball but can jump a passing lane and execute the scheme – not just to draw a charge stepping up to the front of the rim as the last line of defense but even picking up a block on occasion (16 blocks in 2,259 NCAA minutes).
Full scouting report: https://basketballscouting.wordpress.com/tag/tre-jones/