39. Josh Reaves
Reaves’ defining traits are his defensive instincts and IQ. One of the best team defenders in the draft, Reaves is always in a good position to help and has elite feel and reaction time to get steals and blocks off of the ball. He’s a good enough athlete to make the most out of his IQ on both ends.
On offense, he’s a smart cutter and always seems to be in advantageous positions to score or pass, despite his lack of offensive skills. Reaves’ jumper is questionable and he doesn’t have a plus handle or passing, but he makes winning plays. Instinctual off-ball wings are always at a premium in the NBA, giving Reaves value to contending teams if he shoots the ball at a league average clip.
38. Didi Louzada
Didi Louzada’s standout set of traits are on the defensive end. Starting with his tools, his 6’7 frame, quick twitch athleticism and rare hip mobility help him hound on the ball and vaporize ball screens. For a 19 year old playing in a legitimate pro league, his awareness on defense is rare. Though Louzada isn’t an event creator–backed up by his 1.9 steal and 0.3 block percent–he is crisp on his rotations and has a great sense of positioning, making help reads most of his peers wouldn’t consider, though he can overhelp at times.
Louzada’s offense hinges on his jumper, where he was an effective spot-up marksman this season. In 33 games, Louzada shot 42.7 percent from deep on 7.3 attempts per 40. At times, he can win with his plus first step, explosiveness and overall athletic tools, but Louzada’s overall skill game is raw and his offensive feel for the game is sub-par. For Louzada’s three-point shooting and all around defensive prowess, he is a worthwhile draft and stash candidate with the potential to contribute at the NBA level early if his offensive skills improve.
37. Jordan Poole
Jordan Poole’s intrigue comes from his dynamic offensive repertoire. Poole’s scoring package is versatile, starting with his jumper. He shoots off of movement and shoots pull-ups; his handle is great and he loves stringing step bacs and snatch-backs into threes. Poole doesn’t love shooting spot-ups, but he can do it. His quickness is above average and his handle helps him get to the rim, finishing there with good touch despite his average athleticism, though I worry his athletic tools will limit his ability to get to the rim in the NBA.
Poole’s feel for the game and offensive decision making is poor, settling for difficult shots more than he should. Despite his lower feel, Poole is an underrated passer, specifically out of the pick and roll where his timing hitting the roll man and shooters is superb. Poole may not be a good enough passer to play the one or big, athletic or a good enough shooter to play the two. However, his talent with the ball in his hands and high-level skill is undeniable, giving him a real path to value as a secondary scoring/playmaking guard.
36. Nassir Little
Simply put, Nassir Little is not good at basketball. He wasn’t during his freshman season at North Carolina, at least. With his frame and shooting, he flashed some of the excitement many used to peg him as a top prospect coming out of high school. However, it is crystal clear Little doesn’t know how to play basketball at this point in his career. He doesn’t pass, has a poor handle, is in love with Dirk-leg fadeaways and has no clue what to do as a team defender. If he returns to his pre-college weight, some of his clunkiness may disappear. Even then, his actual basketball skill doesn’t budge. Little is 19 and was highly impressive coming out of high school, so there’s a chance he puts the puzzle together at some point. Some NBA team will use this rationale to draft him in the top 15. At this point, Nassir Little is far from contributing at the NBA level.
35. John Konchar
John Konchar is a well-rounded guard who did everything for Purdue Fort-Wayne, accompanied by historical production. His feel for the game is impeccable, making excellent decisions on offense (considering the quality of his teammates, 179 total assists and a 2.0 assist to turnover ratio is impressive) and making plays on the defensive end. He’s a good athlete, elevating off of two for dunks with straight-line speed.
Konchar excels on and off of the ball; he posted elite efficiency from everywhere carrying a 28.3 usage this season, finishing with great touch and shooting off of the dribble. During his sophomore and junior seasons playing off of the ball, he shot 46.9 percent from three on 150 attempts. On the ball, Konchar’s lack of length and quickness hurts him on the ball, but his elite anticipation in team defense makes him a positive on defense. As a backup on and off ball guard, it is hard to see Konchar not finding a role due to his versatility.
34. Carsen Edwards
Carsen Edwards has generated a significant hype train after his detonation in the tourney. His abysmal efficiency faded into the background as Edwards’ flammability was on full display. Edwards is no doubt one of the better pull-up shooters in the class, his strong legs giving him the power to fire from deep. He’s prolific off of movement (as he showed more in his sophomore season) and this projects to be his main NBA role on offense. And despite standing a hair over 6’0 in shoes, his ox-like strength (trademarked by @jackfrank_jjf) and +6 wingspan give him a chance on defense.
I am inherently skeptical of a six-foot guard’s defensive projection and don’t buy him as a positive as some seem to. I’m also concerned about his passing and decision making, which are of paramount importance at his height. The hope is Edwards’ shooting and elite athleticism materializes into an effective 3-D off-ball guard type, though I am doubtful the “D” part of the equation is there. If his pull-up shooting is truly elite, translating into a more on-ball role could be his best path to NBA value.
33. Shamorie Ponds
Shamorie Ponds’ size will leave him little margin for error as an NBA player. Under 6’1 in shoes and not a great athlete, Ponds will have a steep climb to an NBA role. Ponds will ride his high-skill level as far as it can take him. It starts with his pull-up, it’s volume and efficiency will be the major factor driving his value. I have confidence in his shot off of the dribble, aided by his elite handle. Despite not being quick, Ponds is incredibly shifty, playing with the ball on a string. He has touch and loves runners around the rim, but he’ll need to get to the rim and finish there at a fairly high volume, which I am doubtful of given his lack of burst.
His passing is also excellent in all situations and with both hands. With rare hand-eye coordination, Ponds’ hands pop on both ends, mostly on defense where he swipes ballhandlers with regularity. Though his IQ, strength and hands are all positives, Ponds will have a difficult time remaining neutral on defense due to his size. There’s some outcome where Ponds blossoms into a star, which would probably mean him developing into a nuclear pull-up shooter and improve his passing even more. The more likely outcome, though is him stagnating as a solid NBA contributor due to not being big or athletic enough.
32. Charles Matthews
Charles Matthews’ devastating ACL injury means he’ll miss the majority of his rookie season and will likely go undrafted. Like Okeke and Porter, his injury won’t impact my ranking of him much, assuming Matthews recovers fully. The best perimeter defender in this class, Matthews elite combination of physical and athletic tools and instincts make him a demon on the defensive end. He has some of the best hip fluidity and feet I have seen in a prospect, changing directions like an elite corner, sticking with ball-handlers and vaporizing screens.
Off of the ball, his motor is tenacious and he makes high level reads from the weak side. The catch with Matthews is he is one of the worst offensive players in this class. There’s not much reason for optimism regarding his jumper, but if he does shoot, Matthews enters elite role player tier and maybe even more. Few prospects in this region can claim an uber-elite skill, making Matthews a valuable player despite his grave offensive concerns.
31. Isaiah Roby
Isaiah Roby, in theory, is a prototypical modern NBA four: a fantastic athlete who shoots the ball and has some handling ability. Isaiah Roby, the prospect, is not this, yet. The elite athleticism is there, with his vertical explosiveness, second jump, speed and fluidity. His defensive playmaking instincts are great, flying in for weak side rejections. Although Roby’s percentages took a dip this season from beyond the arc, I buy him shooting the ball well enough at the NBA level. Roby has some serious limitations; his feel on both ends is inconsistent, manifesting in detrimental passiveness on the offensive end. Roby passes up far too many open threes, driving into nothingness. He has the handle to make this work at times, but he leaves far too many easy buckets on the table. There’s a good chance Isaiah Roby never has the mental makeup to play in the NBA, but his athleticism, tools and projectable jump shot provide a stable foundation for a versatile wing.
30. Cameron Johnson
At 6’8, Cam Johnson is one of the best pure shooters in this draft class. With his height, quick release and shot versatility, he is the best bet to be an elite NBA shooter from this class. With his IQ, he’s an underrated passer and has the shooting gravity to bend defenses. He won’t get to the rim or attack off of the dribble, so his passing value will come from exploiting his shooting gravity. His defense is a bit below average, as despite being 6’8 and smart, he is weak, not athletic and not very fluid. He struggles to change directions in space, has trouble banging with stronger players and sticking with quicker guards. Against slower, less dynamic wings, he should be serviceable on the ball. Off of the ball, he makes rotations due to his IQ, but his lack of athletic tools limit his impact there as well. Shooting is always at a premium in the NBA and 6’8 prospects who shoot as well as Johnson are rare commodities.