Prevailing wisdom suggests that this 2020 NBA draft will not be a good one, which gives it a lot in common with the rest of the calendar year.
Transcendent talents appear to be absent. No Zions. No Lukas. At least not based on the scouting reports.
While some of the lottery picks might turn into quality NBA players, depth is lacking. Sleepers are all over the place, but picking the ones that hit is a challenge. At least, that’s what most of the experts are whispering.
The Mavericks own the 18th overall pick in the first round and the first pick of the second round (31st overall), at the moment.
Whether or not they keep the picks – reports are persistent that they are willing to move those assets and more for immediate help – it’s clear that the Mavericks will be a team of interest throughout the NBA on draft night, Nov. 18.
And particularly so for MFFLs.
So with that in mind, we’ll offer up our scouting report for draft night. We’ll break it down into point guards, wing players, big men and wrap it up with the Mavericks’ best options.
Next up: wing players.
The consensus No. 1 pick in this draft is a wing player – Anthony Edwards out of Georgia.
Here’s the catch: do we really think he’s the next Donovan Mitchell?
Or the next Markelle Fultz?
Not that there’s anything wrong with Fultz. It appears his best days are ahead of him.
But his early years in the NBA were rough.
Edwards, a 6-5 shooting guard who also has decent ballhandling ability, has a ready-made NBA body and oodles of talent. In his freshman season at Georgia, he averaged 19.5 points and 5.2 rebounds, but shot just 29.4 percent from 3-point range (40.2 percent overall).
Worse, the Bulldogs were just 5-13 in Southeastern Conference play (16-16 overall). It’s reminiscent of Fultz, who put up glittery numbers at Washington, but couldn’t lead his team to a winning record.
It’s risky to make comparisons, but when the scouting process has been so unusual this year, it’s about all we’re left with.
Edwards, like almost all other players, never took part in any five-on-five scrimmages against other draftees this summer/fall. The NBA combine was done virtually. Players did a lot of Zoom interviews, but not much face-to-face basketball work.
A lot of them were cooped up in a gym all summer, doing one-on-one drills or one-on-zero drills. That’s just the way it had to be in a pandemic time.
All of that said, Edwards is widely considered to be the best player in this draft – certainly tops among guards and small forwards. James Wiseman, the 7-1 center who played just three college games before being suspended, is a wild card when it comes to who will go No. 1 overall. But most mock drafts have Edwards going first.
Edwards’ strength is his strength. He can get to the rim and finish in traffic. He can manhandle smaller guards and his body gives him a fighting chance when it comes to guarding the pick and roll. Lots to like about this player. But, again, is he a sure thing?
The jury is out.
Once you get past Edwards, the wing players kind of all run together.
Deni Avdija is a 6-9 small forward from Israel who will be the first international player selected, by all accounts. He helped Israel to the under-20 FIBA gold medal in 2018 and was the MVP of that tournament at age 18. He’s got the skills to be a point-forward, but it may take time for him to transition to the NBA game.
Isaac Okoro is a 6-6 small forward who is better the closer he is to the basket. He’ll have to work on stretching his game out before he can be a dependable contributor in the NBA. He’s got plenty of upside, though, and in a thin draft, he’s worth taking a chance on.
The Mavericks probably will be looking for veteran wing help via free agency or in a trade scenario.
But if they do go for a shooting guard or small forward in the draft, there are a few names to keep in mind.
Aaron Nesmith, 6-6, is certain to get a long look from many teams if for no other reason than he shot 52.2 percent from 3-point range last season as a sophomore at Vanderbilt. That came over 14 games at Vandy before a foot injury ended his season. He’s a bit methodical and may have trouble getting shots when NBA defenders start crowding him.
Tyrese Maxey is undersized at 6-3 and he did not shoot the ball particularly well as a freshman at Kentucky. He has a very high basketball IQ and his 83 percent shooting from the free-throw line indicates he has potential to be a better outside flinger than his 29.2 percent last season indicated.
Devin Vassell is perhaps the best athlete among wing players. At 6-7 he can jump through the roof and makes things look effortless. He had a breakout season for Florida State as a sophomore, averaging 12.7 points and 5.1 rebounds. He also shot better than 41 percent in both of his seasons with the Seminoles.
None of those players are considered instant starting-caliber NBA players. But it stands to reason one or more of them will develop into a contributor in the league.
Highlighting the top incoming wing players
Player Ht. Wt. Last team Projection
Anthony Edwards 6-5 225 Georgia No. 1 overall
Deni Avdija 6-9 210 Israel Top 5
Isaac Okoro 6-6 215 Auburn Lottery
Aaron Nesmith 6-6 215 Vanderbilt Lottery
Tyrese Maxey 6-3 200 Kentucky First round
Devin Vassell 6-7 200 Florida St. First round
Josh Green 6-5 200 Arizona St. First round
Saddiq Bey 6-8 215 Villanova First round
Patrick Williams 6-7 215 Florida St. First round
Jahmius Ramsey 6-4 195 Texas Tech First round