2020 NBA Draft Preview: Selections 21-30
While late first round picks are not the most anticipated selections for casual fans, the final third of the NBA draft can be critical for the future of contending teams. Each of these picks' values have never been higher as the parity of the modern NBA creates ample opportunities for teams and players to be flexible in their futures.
All these players are skilled and can make an impact for any contending team, but nothing is guaranteed and NBA General Managers will need to dig deep to find the diamonds in the rough. So here's how I see picks 21 through 30 playing out!
Source: AP FILE PHOTO
Pick #30 Boston Celtics: Elijah Hughes, Syracuse
At 6’6, 215 lbs, Elijah Hughes may just be one of those diamonds in the rough I menitioned earlier. Hughes has an NBA ready build and has no glaring issues within his game. He is also a tremendous all-around player, able to shoot the ball, facilitate for his teammates, and get stops on the defensive end.
While his overall game is good, the phrase “Jack of all trades, master of none” comes to mind. Hughes is able to play effectively on each end of the floor, but is merely above average in most areas of his game. The Orange alum needs to find his niche and perfect it to take his game to the next level. In terms of age. Hughes is on the older side of the draft spectrum at 22 years old, but with that age does come experience and a more developed skill set.
With Hughes’ versatility, Brad Stephens and the Celtics just might be able to transform him into a key rotational player in their lineup.
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Pick #29 Toronto Raptors: Daniel Oturu, Minnesota
Another talented player that will likely fall in the draft comes in the shape of 21-year old Daniel Oturu. Oturu is chalk full of potential but is still fairly raw as it stands today. He has great length and athleticism that should translate to the NBA nicely, but his greatest strength comes from his fantastic outside shooting stroke. A near 7-footer that has a confident jumper is a hot commodity in the NBA today. Oturu is a great offensive player but his defensive ability however could use some improvement.
Much of his defensive woes are linked to his slender frame but luckily he is able to use his length to make up for some of the strength mismatches he could face in the NBA. Being plugged into the Raptors organization will only further improve his defensive ability and allow him to be part of one of the best development teams within the NBA. If the Raptors are able to select Oturu at 29, they could be turning in an absolute steal.
Source: Rick Rycroft/Associated Press
Pick #28 Los Angeles Lakers (Oklahoma City Thunder): RJ Hampton, New Zealand Breakers
Coming out of high school Hampton shocked the basketball world by declaring he would forgo college to instead play in the NBL in Australia. While this move was respected, it definitely hurt Hamptons draft stock. Despite that, Hampton played well “down under” putting up averages of 15PPG, 3APG, and 4RPG, but was never able to become the elite prospect many people had envisioned he would be. That being said, Hampton is no slouch, he can still ball out no matter where he plays.
Hampton is a great combo guard with impressive offensive ability, he also has fantastic touch when attacking the rim with sneaky athleticism to allow him to play through contact. His strong ball-handling skills allow him to break opponents down before slashing to the goal, but Hampton does need to improve on his shooting ability as it is essential that guards in the NBA be able to develop a consistent jump shot and not rely on their athleticism, shooting 30% behind the arc just won’t get it done.
Recent examples of promising athletic guards who have fallen from grace due to poor shooting include the likes of Denis Smith Jr, Dante Exum, and Emmanuel Mudiay. RJ will want to avoid this list at all cost.
Defense will also be an area of focus for Hampton, but falling to the 28th pick in the NBA draft could be the motivation that he needs to grow into the player he was once projected to become. Playing alongside LeBron James and the current NBA champs can only help Hampton with his development and possibly become a valuable rotational player off the bench, something the Lakers have struggled to find this past season.
Even if this pick does wind up in the hands of Oklahoma City, the Thunder would likely nab Hampton at 28 to fill in their six-man scorer role that Schroeder formerly occupied.
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Pick #27 New York Knicks: Kira Lewis, Alabama
Kira Lewis showed off his silky smooth playstyle all year with the Crimson Tide this past season. Lewis, who is rising on many teams draft boards, shows huge potential and upside with his game already at only 19 years of age. He shows excellent patience when slithering through defences, and has one of the smoothest touches around the rim in this year's draft.
Lewis is able to have such success taking it to the rim due to his amazing ability to finish with either hand in both switch hand and contact layup situations, something that is not always developed to the level Lewis possesses at a young age. Lewis is also a great asset on defence as he excels at getting his hands in the lane causing steals and turnovers at a high volume.
While his hesi is top notch, Lewis’ mental hesitations on the court have cost him in the past. It seems most prevalent when Lewis is left open to shoot from the outside. Lewis still shot the ball from deep at a solid 35% last season, but he needs to be able to let the ball fly without any hesitation or thought if he wants to be able to obtain success in the NBA.
With the Knicks, Lewis will be a critical building block for a team that has been desperate to find a strong playmaker for nearly a decade. Although playing alongside other young talent may not produce a winning record right away, Lewis will give Knicks fans something that they have not had since the days of Carmelo and Kristaps, hope.
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Pick #26 Boston Celtics: Nico Mannion, Arizona
Another prospect that has been in the spotlight for several years leading up to this point, Mannion became a sensation overnight after his high school highlight mixtape went viral. Mostly this was because nobody had ever seen a red head play the game of basketball to the level of Mannion. Jokes aside, Manion is a legitimate player, but he is far from a safe selection.
Mannion has good size but his ability to take the ball to the rim is far below average. He is slim and not great when it comes to absorbing contact, which could make his life incredibly difficult when entering the NBA. While Mannion has his shortcomings, he can still get a bucket any day of the week. With an amazing jumpshot to go along with strong playmaking and ball handling skills, Mannion will have no problem playing in the fast paced NBA.
This would be a great fit for a team like the Celtics as currently things seem to be shaky between Gordon Hayward and the organization. Plus, having Brad Wanamaker as Kemba Walker's backup is less than ideal. Adding Mannion to the team would give the Celtics a great scorer off the bench and a prospect oozing with potential to be developed.
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Pick #25 Oklahoma City Thunder: CJ Elleby, Washington State
An interesting prospect, CJ Elleby is by far one of the least flashy draftees this year. Elleby is a great spot up shooter and thrives in catch and shoot situations as well as being one of the strongest rebounding wings in the NCAA last season. It may become hard for Elleby to make use of his positive attributes as he is not exactly the pinnacle of athleticism. Elleby plays very similar to Kyle Anderson in many ways, right down to their incredible lack of speed.
Having slow feet in the NBA can kill a career, but if Elleby can use his strong offensive skills and rebounding prowess he may be able to maintain a lengthy career. Elleby will add depth to OKC’s razor thin forward depth as well as add some consistent outside shooting, something they needed desperately in their postseason series against the Rockets.
While Elleby may not have you jumping out of your seat on a nightly basis, he is still an incredibly strong scorer that can make an impact as a rotational player early in his career.
Source: Jeffrey Becker/USA TODAY Sports
Pick #24 Milwaukee Bucks: Jahmi’us Ramsey, Texas Tech
One of the best athletes in this draft class, Jahmi’us Ramsey had a fantastic freshman season at Texas Tech using his top tier explosiveness on both ends of the court to lead his team to victory. This explosiveness is matched by his impressive vertical play and with these skills he is able to crash the glass, protect the rim, and finish above the defence consistently. Ramsey is also a great catch and shoot option, shooting a stellar 42% from deep last season on over five threes attempted per game.
With this dual threat ability to force defenders to respect his jumper coupled with his ability to blow by defenders who close out on him, Ramsey can be a matchup nightmare.
Areas of improvement for Ramsey include his on-ball defence and his mid-range scoring. While a great off-ball defender, Ramsey struggles at times to stay in front of the offence leading to unnecessary fouls as a result. Ramsey also does not have much in the way of a mid range shot, which also includes his free throw shooting which sits at around 64%. With improvements to his mid-range game he will make defenders throw fits and have coaches scratching their heads when trying to figure out how to guard him.
Ramsey would fit like a glove in Milwaukee, with his great athleticism he would be able to keep up with players such as Giannis and Eric Bledsoe, while also providing the stagnant Bucks squad with a skilled perimeter shooter to give their stars space to operate inside. Ramsey is built for the NBA game and grabbing him at #24 is a steal.
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Pick #23 Utah Jazz: Saddiq Bey, Villanova
An interesting prospect, Bey is equipped with a wide variety of skills that will help him develop into a solid NBA player early on in his career. Bey is a phenomenal shooter and with his ability to stretch the floor it allows him to cut towards the rim where he is a strong finisher. One of Beys most valuable traits is not a one that shows up on the scoreboard, but his hustle is top of the line. Bey is not afraid to scrap down low, nor is he opposed to diving on loose balls.
With his mix of hustle and talent Bey will be able to add value to any franchise that selects him, but going to the Jazz would help them immensely as they have been searching desperately for an athletic scorer to fill their three/four spots in their rotation and starting five.
Bey is faster and stronger than both Joe Ingles and Bojan Bogdanovic, his shooting stroke may not be at their level but being over 10 years younger than both of the aforementioned players gives him plenty of time to grow. Bey is also a far superior defender than both Bogdanovic and Ingles which would help take pressure off of all-star Donovan Mitchell.
Bey is a solid sleeper pick in the draft and if he falls to Utah he could be a key player for them going forward in their hunt for an NBA title.
Source: James Crisp/Associated Press
Pick #22 Denver Nuggets: Tyrese Maxey, Kentucky
An intriguing player in the draft, Tyrese Maxey gained notoriety after his solid season with the Kentucky Wildcats, but Maxey is not a safe pick regardless of popularity. He has demonstrated a solid ability to find the open man and has a nice touch around the rim, however he’ll need to improve his outside jumper immediately. Shooting below 30% in college is not a good sign coming into the NBA as a point guard, his motor and athleticism can only do so much for him in regards to his defence.
Maxeys potential could lead him to becoming a great player in the NBA, but it all depends on if he is able to work on his areas of improvement effectively and translate those improvements into wins for his team.
Going to the Nuggets would be a great fit as they do have a need for a facilitator off the bench that does not need to have the ball in his hands to be effective. Maxey can play well off of either Jamal Murray or Monte Morris in backcourt sets, both helping out on D or helping get his priority scorers easy looks at the basket. Maxey definitely has a looming question mark over his head coming into this year's draft but could easily tear it down and silence his critics.
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Pick #21 Philadelphia 76ers: Cole Anthony, North Carolina
Son of former NBA player Greg Anthony, Cole seems built for the modern NBA. The young Tarheel has a sweet handle to go along with his stellar jump shot, and will have no issue playing in a fast-paced scheme where he can be effective both with and without the rock. Not a lockdown defender by any means, but Anthony can still stay in front of ball handlers long enough to force a tough shot.
It’s important to note that this pick means Philly can move Ben Simmons to his true position of small/power forward, which allows them to finally unclog the lane and space the floor . Anthony would be a great asset for them offensively as he excels in pick and roll situations as well as shooting the three-pointer.
Anthony's success in the NBA will be determined by where his focus lies, if he can lock into being a positive member of the locker room, he could serve as the catalyst of change for the 76ers team culture, taking them from pretenders to contenders.