January 16, 2020, 2:58 pm
Hey Hoop Ballers! Welcome back to another edition of the Dynasty Dose. NBA action is fully in swing, but the college season is just starting to heat up, so what better time to take a look at a few big names in the 2020 rookie class and highlight some players worth keeping an eye on?
A few disclaimers before we jump right in. This is an early list of big name players vying for lottery consideration, and will be refined and expanded as we get a bit closer to draft season. It is also important to remember that this is a look at players in a vacuum. Where players are drafted and the situations surrounding them will inevitably have an impact on the immediate fantasy returns that we can expect.
The Big Names
LaMelo Ball, PG, International, 18 years
Per Game Stats: 31.3 minutes, 17 PTS, 1.7 3P, 7.6 TRB, 6.8 AST, 1.6 STL, 0.1 BLK, 2.5 TO
Shooting Percentages (FG%/3PT%,FT%): 37.5/25.0/72.3
The youngest Ball brother opted out of playing in college and is instead testing his mettle in the National Basketball League, the top professional league in Australia and New Zealand. So far, the hype around Ball as a legitimate lottery prospect appears to be well founded. He is already a very skilled ball-handler and distributor, and has flashed serious creativity and vision in transition.
Offensively, he has a quick first step, and is capable of getting to the rim and finishing. His clunky shot mechanics and poor efficiency do raise some red flags about his ability to play as a lead guard in the NBA (must run in the family). On defense, he is easily able to rack up steals with his length and ability to disrupt passing lanes and is an impressive rebounder for his position. Beyond his apparent feel for the game on offense, his physical profile (measuring at 6’7” but possibly still growing) should be NBA-ready from day one.
In terms of fantasy appeal, his supreme passing ability and ability to generate steals alone should put Ball on the radar as a top fantasy player out of this draft class. However, his lack of efficiency from the floor and at the line could ultimately cap his ceiling. Despite the possibility of Ball being selected first overall, he feels like one of the bigger wildcards in this draft. His ceiling as a player and fantasy contributor is sky-high, but his floor is also considerably lower than others in the class. As a starter with free reign to push the pace and run an offense, Ball could easily wind up as a top-50 player with modest improvements in efficiency stats, but an inability to earn those minutes and contribute to winning games could hold him back early on.
James Wiseman, C, Memphis, 18 years
Per Game Stats (played only three games before leaving college): 23.0 minutes, 19.7 PTS, 0.0 3P, 10.7 TRB, 0.3 AST, 0.3 STL, 3.0 BLK, 1.0 TO
Shooting Percentages (FG%/3PT%,FT%): 76.9/0.0/70.4
Wiseman entered the NCAA season a legit contender to go number one overall in the 2020 NBA Draft. However, after his tenure at Memphis was cut to only three games before leaving school due to eligibility issues, his status at the top of the lottery is rightly in question.
On offense, Wiseman often looked more like a rim-runner than a true offensive focal point. In a vacuum, Wiseman has a smooth jumper and appears capable of developing into a perimeter threat, but there wasn’t much evidence of that on display in his three games with Memphis. His extremely low assist rate is also a concern for his eventual NBA ceiling. No one is expecting Wiseman to become the next Nikola Jokic, but a player with his size and ability to draw in the defense should be able to average at least one assist per game. Defensively, Wiseman makes his money as a shot-blocker and rebounder (posting a ridiculous 13.5 block percentage over his three games of college play), two skills that we should be reasonably comfortable translating to the NBA level. However, if he is going to stay on the floor at the next level he needs to show serious progress in terms of defensive awareness.
Despite his limited resume of college play, Wiseman’s physical profile alone might still keep him near the top of most draft boards. Standing 7’1” with a 7’6” wingspan, he could immediately serve as an imposing rim-protector in the NBA. The bigger questions around his relatively limited offensive skillset, basketball IQ, and motor could limit his upside.
In terms of fantasy production, we can guess that Wiseman’s prolific shot blocking ability and rebounding should translate well to the next level, giving him a relatively safe fantasy floor as long as he can stay on the court. If Wiseman can become a legitimate threat from deep, and progress even marginally as a distributor, he has some serious “unicorn” potential. Unfortunately, we won’t get to see Wiseman play meaningful basketball before the draft, making him one of the riskier prospects in this class.
Anthony Edwards, SG, Georgia, 18 years
Per Game Stats: 29.7 minutes, 18.7 PTS, 2.1 3P, 4.8 TRB, 3.1 AST, 1.4 STL, 0.5 BLK, 2.5 TO
Shooting Percentages (FG%/3PT%,FT%): 41.3/31.1/69.2
With serious questions about LaMelo Ball and James Wiseman as the top prospect in this draft class, Anthony Edwards is making a legitimate case for the number one spot.
For starters, he is arguably the most talented scorer in this draft. When everything is clicking, Edwards can look like an unstoppable force of nature – exploding to the rim seemingly at will and making tough step-back three pointers look as easy as Luka Doncic or James Harden does. It can be the same story on defense for Edwards. When locked in, he is tenacious, active and disruptive with the ability to go one-on-one and shut down larger opponents.
So, with all of that praise lavished on Edwards, why is he not the consensus number one overall, or even the consensus pick for best guard in this class? It all comes down to consistency. While he can at times look like the best player in this draft, far too often, he looks like a player fighting to even be considered in the lottery the very next game.
Despite the whipsaw nature of his performances, his raw talent is simply too apparent to discount. If you follow my other dynasty stuff, you will know that I’m not really the traditional “eye test” sort of guy, but if there was ever a player that the term was invented for, it is Anthony Edwards. We need to see how the rest of the NCAA season pans out, but at the moment I’m still completely in on Edwards as an eventual top-100 fantasy player with real top-50 upside if he can build out his skill-set as a lead guard and continues to improve his shooting efficiency.
Onyeka Okongwu, PF/C, USC, 19 years
Per Game Stats: 28.5 minutes, 16.9 PTS, 0.0 3P, 8.7 TRB, 0.9 AST, 1.1 STL, 2.9 BLK, 1.9 TO
Shooting Percentages (FG%/3PT%,FT%): 62.0/0.0/69.9
In what is becoming a trend that you may have noticed, we have yet another player making a legitimate case to go number one overall in Onyeka Okongwu. He has been a monster at USC, and in a very guard heavy draft, is arguably the best big man prospect if the enigma that is James Wiseman isn’t really your cup of tea.
His offensive profile looks like that of a rim-runner, but he has flashed some skills in the post and appears capable of developing a wider offensive arsenal. Where Okongwu really shines is on the defensive side of the ball. While James Wiseman’s block percentage (small sample size alert) is an impressive outlier, Okongwu’s defensive awareness and functional team defense is miles ahead of Wiseman’s. He is rarely freelancing for blocks, and achieves most of his statistical production as a cog in the larger defensive wheel.
Physically, he has an NBA-ready frame, and is a naturally gifted athlete for his size. Despite measuring in at 6’9”, his wingspan and bounce gives him a ton of defensive versatility, and should be able to account for Okongwu giving up a few inches to larger centers in the NBA. While he may not have the theoretical upside of James Wiseman or Anthony Edwards, Okongwu may be one of the more NBA-ready players in this draft class and could be an early contender for the best fantasy player in this draft class depending on where he lands.
Cole Anthony, PG, North Carolina, 19 years
Per Game Stats: 33.1 minutes, 19.1 PTS, 2.4 3P, 6.3 TRB, 3.4 AST, 1.9 STL, 0.4 BLK, 3.8 TO
Shooting Percentages (FG%/3PT%,FT%): 36.8/35.5/67.9
Anthony came into the season as one of the top guard prospects in this class, and despite a roller coaster ride of a season so far, should still be considered a lottery talent. He is a great athlete who plays much bigger than his size, has the ability to create his own shot, and at times looks ready to take on a lead guard role in the NBA.
The knock on Anthony has to be his efficiency, and a surprisingly low assist percentage given his role. This is far from the most talented UNC team, perhaps pushing Anthony to take on a larger offensive role than is ideal, but his shooting efficiency from the floor and the line combined with his usage doesn’t paint a pretty picture. Despite his offensive struggles, he is a pesky defender and tremendous rebounder for his stature.
His fantasy profile will largely depend on his role at the next level. The assists were there in high school, and given his vision and passing aptitude, we should assume some progression back to the mean in a better situation. The upside is apparent, but it is hard not to discount his struggles this season regardless of the excuses to be made given the players around him. As is the case with many guys in this class, he is a bit of an enigma without a clear role carved out for him at the next level.
Other Names to Keep an Eye On
Tyrese Haliburton, PG, Iowa State, 19 years
Per Game Stats: 36.3 minutes, 15.9 PTS, 2.5 3P, 6.1 TRB, 7.8 AST, 2.7 STL, 0.5 BLK, 2.7 TO
Shooting Percentages (FG%/3PT%,FT%): 49.7/39.8/75.0
Haliburton’s stock continues rise following a breakout season from the sophomore guard. He has shown huge improvement across the board, and reminds of a Grant Williams type player that won’t make many highlight reels, but is smart and fantastic at playing within himself. I could easily see him carving out a solid role in the NBA. Keep an eye on him as the college season moves on, in particular his usage and shooting efficiency, as he could end up surpassing more blue-blood guard options like Cole Anthony in terms of both draft stock and fantasy appeal.
Killian Hayes, G, International, 18 years
Per Game Stats: 36.3 minutes, 12.8 PTS, 1.6 3P, 2.3 TRB, 6.2 AST, 1.5 STL, 0.2 BLK, 3.3 TO
Shooting Percentages (FG%/3PT%,FT%): 45.5/39.0/90.9
Killian Hayes has been hyped as the next big international prospect for some time, and I’m starting to buy it. There are questions about his role in the NBA – is he ready to take on the role of a lead guard? If not, what is his role off the ball given his penchant for streaky shooting? Those are fair enough questions, but if there is one thing that we all need to drill into our heads, it is that the most talented players succeed at the highest level, regardless of them being “tweeners.” Hayes is unpolished at times, and his offensive skillset is rough around the edges, but he oozes NBA talent and could be somewhat of sleeper depending on how the top of this lottery class shakes out.
Tyrese Maxey, G, Kentucky
Per Game Stats: 36.3 minutes, 13.9 PTS, 1.3 3P, 4.1 TRB, 3.0 AST, 0.6 STL, 0.4 BLK, 2.1 TO
Shooting Percentages (FG%/3PT%,FT%): 42.9/30.3/79.4
Maxey is another polarizing prospect that fills the “combo guard” role without a clearly defined role at the next level. His athleticism sets him apart despite his relatively small stature (6’3” with a 6’6” wingspan) and allows him to create shots that simply wouldn’t be available to other players. However, he hasn’t really flashed enough skill as a facilitator to make the case for a lead guard role in the NBA, and has lapses on the defensive side of the ball. As a fantasy prospect, a lot of his appeal is going to come down to whether he can get it done as a defensive stat collector (so far he has not), and whether he can evolve as a passer and offensive facilitator. While his numbers don’t jump off the page right now, there is still plenty of runway for Maxey to get much better given his natural abilities.