The 2020 NBA Draft stands to be the most unorthodox in its history, and this has nothing to do with what occurred between the lines. Due to the coronavirus pandemic the NBA, and sports in general, are in a holding pattern, and there is no concrete date with regard to a return to action. As of right now the draft is still scheduled for June 25, but that could all change depending upon what happens with the remainder of the regular season and the postseason. In many instances scouting departments across the league won’t lack for game tape of draft prospects, but it’s likely that they won’t have many (or any) opportunities to run players through on-site pre-draft workouts. And with social distancing essentially being the law of the land, those agent-run workouts are going to be a difficult -- if not impossible -- task as well.
While the timing is never good when it comes to a worldwide health issue, this is especially problematic with regard to evaluating this year’s draft class. Unlike the 2019 crop, which boasted a clear top pick in Duke’s Zion Williamson, there are a host of players who can make that claim this spring/summer. And in the case of two of those players, point guard LaMelo Ball and center James Wiseman, they didn’t play much basketball before being shut down for either health (Ball) or NCAA (Wiseman) reasons.
In the coming weeks we’re going to take a look at some of the top prospects in this year’s draft class, first doing so by position. Down the line there will be more fantasy-specific breakdowns, identifying which players can potentially be of assistance in specific statistical categories. This list focuses on the shooting guards, a position group that's led by a talented scorer in Anthony Edwards whose name may be called with the first overall pick this summer.
1. Anthony Edwards (Georgia): Edwards began the season as one of the favorites to be selected first overall in this summer’s draft, and he didn’t do anything to dispel that notion during his one year with the Bulldogs. Standing at 6-foot-5, 225 pounds, Edwards posted averages of 19.1 points, 5.2 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.3 steals, 0.6 blocks and 2.3 3-pointers per game while shooting 40.2% from the field, 29.4% from three and 77.2% from the foul line.
A lot was asked of the athletic guard within the Georgia offense, as evidenced by his possession and shot percentages of 29.0% and 32.0% respectively. Depending upon where he goes in the draft Edwards won’t be asked to do as much when it comes to creating his own shots, which would go a long way towards making him a more efficient scoring option.
2. Aaron Nesmith (Vanderbilt): After appearing in 32 games as a freshman Nesmith was limited to 14 this season due to a season-ending right foot injury that he suffered in mid-January. But the 6-foot-6, 213-pound wing was highly productive while healthy, pumping in an average of 23.0 points per game while also accounting for 4.9 rebounds, 0.9 assists, 1.4 steals, 0.9 blocks and 4.3 3-pointers per. While there may be other guards that are rated higher from a draft standpoint due to their perceived "upside," Nesmith may be one of the best when it comes to immediate fantasy impact. He has good size for a player who can be used on either wing, and the shooting percentages (51.2% FG, 52.2% 3-pointers, 82.5% FT) strengthen that argument as well.
3. RJ Hampton (New Zealand Breakers): Hampton was in a similar position as LaMelo Ball, as he plied his trade in Australia's NBL (the Breakers are a member of that league) but played sparingly due to injury. Limited to 15 regular season games with 12 starts, Hampton posted averages of 8.8 points, 3.9 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.1 steals and 0.9 3-pointers per game. Shooting just under 41 percent from the field overall, the 19-year old shooting guard also had issues from three (29.5 percent). Hampton's long-term viability as a pro will depend upon how well he develops as a perimeter shooter, as he has the size (height) to be used either on or off the ball. He'll need to get a bit stronger as well, but that tends to be the case with most rookies attempting to adjust to the NBA game.
4. Devin Vassell (Florida State): Vassell went from being a bit player as a freshman to being a key contributor for the ACC champions, and it's likely that he'll be off the board by the middle of the first round. The 6-foot-6, 180-pound guard finished with averages of 12.7 points, 5.1 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.4 steals, 1.0 blocks and 1.5 3-pointers in 28.8 minutes per game this season, shooting 49.0% from the field, 41.5% from three and 73.8% from the foul line.
Vassell is a good shooter who can also create off the dribble, but fantasy-wise those defensive stats aren't to be overlooked. If there's one thing you can guarantee when it comes to those who have played for Leonard Hamilton, it's that they'll defend. That should help Vassell in his quest to earn minutes early, regardless of which team drafts him.
5. Jahmi'us Ramsey (Texas Tech): Ramsey has yet to make a definitive decision when it comes to the NBA, but if he were to leave Lubbock the 6-foot-4, 195-pound guard has a good shot at hearing his name called during the first round. As a freshman he accounted for 15.0 points, 4.0 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.3 steals, 0.7 blocks and 2.2 3-pointers in 31.2 minutes per game. Ramsey produced solid shooting percentages from the field (44.2%) and from beyond the arc (42.6%), but the free throw percentage (64.1%) is a bit of a concern when it comes to projecting his viability as a shooter at the NBA level. Consistency on both ends of the floor, most notably shot selection, will be critical if Ramsey is to be an impact addition.
6. Josh Green (Arizona): In his lone season at Arizona, the Australian produced solid numbers. The 6-foot-6, 210-pound guard posted averages of 12.0 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.5 steals, 0.4 blocks and 1.0 3-pointers in nearly 31 minutes per game. Green shot 42.4% from the field, 36.1% from three and 78.0% from the foul line, and he has the athleticism needed to be a solid slasher off the dribble. Green will need to improve as a catch-and-shoot option if he's to properly fill a 3-and-D role in the NBA, but he's well positioned when it comes to the defensive end of the floor. Green can fill multiple roles as a perimeter defender, and is strong enough to deal with some lighter four men as well.
7. Leandro Bolmaro (Barcelona II): Bolmaro is an interesting prospect, in that he has the size and playmaking ability to be utilized at multiple positions on the perimeter. In 22 total games for Barcelona II this season, he averaged 8.0 points, 1.8 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.3 steals and 0.9 3-pointers per, while shooting 42.4% from the field, 27.9% from three and 67.4% from the foul line. Listed at 6-foot-7, 178 pounds Bolmaro is a bit on the slender side, and he'll need to get stronger while also improving his shot from a consistency standpoint in order to have an early impact in the NBA. Bolmaro certainly has his fans in scouting circles, but his draft prospects feel a bit volatile right now.
8. Desmond Bane (TCU): Bane saved his best for last when it came to many of his averages, accounting for 16.6 points, 6.4 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 1.5 steals, 0.5 blocks and 2.9 3-pointers in 36.0 minutes per game as a senior. The 6-foot-6, 215-pound guard posted shooting percentages of 45.2% from the field, 44.2% from three and 78.9% from the foul line, and he shot 42.5% or better from three in each of his final three seasons at TCU. Bane's basketball IQ is noticeable on both ends, as he fits in at either the two or the three both offensively and defensively. While some teams tend to shy away from "older" draft prospects, to use that as reasoning for ruling out Bane would be a big mistake.
9. Immanuel Quickley (Kentucky): Quickley announced his decision to enter the NBA Draft on Monday, and he intends to stay in. The SEC Player of the Year was one of the most improved players in college basketball this season, as he accounted for 16.1 points, 4.2 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 0.9 steals and 2.1 3-pointers per game as a sophomore. By comparison, Quickley finished his freshman campaign with averages of 5.2 points, 1.8 rebounds and 1.2 assists in a little over 18 minutes per game.
While there are strides to be made as a creator and finisher he's a good perimeter shooter, as Quickley finished his sophomore year with percentages of 42.8% from three and 92.3% from the foul line. He spent the majority of his time at Kentucky playing the two, and given his size Quickley will likely be spending more time on the ball at the next level. The perimeter shooting is what makes him an intriguing fantasy prospect, but that may not be the case for Quickley as a rookie.
10. Cassius Stanley (Duke): The 6-foot-6, 193-pound guard out of Los Angeles spent just one season at Duke, posting averages of 12.6 points, 4.9 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 0.7 steals, 0.7 blocks and 1.1 3-pointers in 27.4 minutes per game. Stanley was a fixture in the starting lineup for the Blue Devils due in large part to his athleticism, and he'll need to become more consistent as a perimeter shooter in order to be an impact pro. While he shot 47.4% from the field and 73.3% from the foul line, Stanley was just a 36.0% shooter from beyond the arc. Stanley averaged 3.0 3-point attempts per game this season, and it's likely that he'll be asked to get up more of those shots in the NBA. He defends well on the wing, but that didn't result in a lot of production when it comes to the defensive stats, which won't help his early ceiling fantasy-wise.
More Names to Know: Jay Scrubb (John A. Logan College) Joel Ayayi (Gonzaga), Ayo Dosunmu (Illinois), Isaiah Joe (Arkansas), Elijah Hughes (Syracuse), Skylar Mays (LSU), Aaron Henry (Michigan State), Sam Merrill (Utah State), Jalen Harris (Nevada).
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