For various reasons, I did not watch nearly as much college basketball this year as I have in previous years and have not spent as much time tape scouting as I have in past years. I am a big believer that if you have not sat down and done the tape work yourself, you shouldn’t be putting strong opinions out. Therefore, I am not doing a full big board this year.
However, based on both positional value, NBA trends, and long term draft trends, there are a few players that I believe are particularly undervalued or overvalued by consensus that I’d like to talk about a bit. If you’re looking for super deep analysis of on-court play, this isn’t it. This is looking at players from an entirely different but no less important angle – their chance of generating value for the team that drafts them.
What…what am I missing here? He’s Oak Hill Academy’s all time leading scorer. He scored 23 points per game in a major conference while shooting 7.2 3s a game and 7.6 FTs a game as a 19 year old. Every team needs a guy who can score like this. This is one of those situations where the difference between the college game and pro game is glaringly obvious. Whether it’s as the primary on-ball guy running pick and roll or the secondary scorer, it’s hard to see Thomas not being an extremely successful pro player. It seems like he would be a top 5 lock in most drafts, and while I haven’t done a deep dive on this draft, I feel fairly confident he belongs there here as well.
Dosunmu has been on the draft radar since his freshman season, so I have become familiar with him over previous years. Watching him, my first thought was always “man, he’ll be really good when there’s no center camped in the paint”. His dribble drive and pull up game is perfectly suited for NBA play even though it did not always shine in college. He’s already 21, which means he’s more ready to make an impact than a lot of other players in the draft. While I don’t necessarily think he’ll reach star level, I think he has a good chance to be a useful piece fairly early in his career, which indicates he should be going somewhere in the 10-15 range rather than his current projected range.
I can find no more perfect example of “secondary skills don’t matter” than Joe Wieskamp. Wieskamp appears to be an elite shooter who brings very little else to the table beyond some above average rebounding skills. In the NBA, he will play the “stand around and shoot” position, and a quick tape review shows that he is very, very good at playing that role. He could stand to speed up his shot release a little, but Wieskamp should be an easy post-lottery first who can come off the bench from day 1 with future starting potential.
Two years ago, I put Zion Williamson and Bol Bol in my top tier. That was wrong. No matter how good they are or will be, they will never be good enough to be impact players in the playoffs barring some major rule changes. Evan Mobley is ranked too high for the same reason. No matter how talented he is, he’s still a 7 foot big, and for the teams at the top of the draft, he’s simply not going to be the guy to take you where you want to go. Fade him to the late lottery at the earliest, but I’d say late teens at the earliest. I just want no part of a highly drafted 7 footer. They just don’t matter in the games that matter.
Kai Jones, Alperen Sengun, Isaiah Jackson, and any other first round center
Again, centers still don’t matter. Drafting a first round center is like drafting a first round running back in the NFL: no matter how good they are, it was still a bad pick because you’re not getting value. Young centers are especially bad value. Stop taking first round centers, especially young ones. These guys are all fine picks in the early-mid second, but no earlier. There’s just no value to be had.
One of the first things I look at for any player is their measured combine height. Here’s the list of successful players his height drafted in the past 10 years: Trae Young, Collin Sexton, and Devonte Graham. That’s it. Trae Young and Collin Sexton were both massively better as freshmen than Mitchell was as a senior. That leaves Graham as the lone comp, and even in college Graham was a significantly more dynamic offensive player by a decent margin. Mitchell just isn’t a good bet. On very rare occasion, a guy with no positive NBA comp still manages to hit, so I wouldn’t write him off entirely, but I also wouldn’t draft him until the late first at the earliest. More likely he follows the path of Shabazz Napier, another undersized guard who rode a wave of positive momentum from the tournament into an uneventful career.
Enjoy the draft, everyone!