We made it! We are finally done rounding out our top 20 prospects in the 2018 NBA Draft. As we did last time, we decided to give each prospect a total grade out of a complete 30 points comprised of 10 points each for how we view their ceiling (C), floor (F), and personality (P). As you might already know, ceiling refers to how good a player can be assuming everything goes right in their career. Conversely, floor refers to how good a player will be in a worst case scenario. The personality rating was given after watching multiple interviews for each prospect to get a sense of how well a player will adjust to the league and their how team oriented they are. These ratings are subjective but encompass criteria we feel are vital for NBA success. To give you an idea what the numbers mean:
10 = megastar potential
9 = superstar potential
8 = All Star potential
7 = well above average player potential
6 = above average player potential
5 = average potential
For some more context, you can correctly guess that a player would need a total grade of 30 to have megastar potential, 27 to have superstar potential, 24 to have All Star potential, 21 for well above average potential, and 18 to be considered a lottery talent with above average player potential. We use the word potential because obviously not every prospect will fulfill his potential due to circumstances like player development and injury. The section of the lottery in this year’s draft figures to be very deep and we believe there will be quite a few steals available. So without further ado, here are the rest of the top 20 prospects on our big board (beginning with #16).
Sadiq: Elie Okobo, Point Guard, France (6-ft-3, 180 lb, 20 yrs old)
16 Elie Okobo
France is producing young point guards and Okobo could be as good as they come! Elie Okobo had a great season statistically in the LNB Pro A League almost averaging 15 points, 5 assists a game on 42% shooting from 3. When you watch his tape and smooth looking left handed shot, you won’t be surprised at his numbers. He also looks like he added on some muscle since he lasted played for France in the U20 tournament. Okobo is very comfortable as a ballhandler and can operate out of the pick and roll finding open shooters and active cutters. His fast pace up-tempo style of play fits the new fast pace NBA and I like that he can finish with either hand. Okobo is also tremendous at catch and shoot as his shot looks very easy. I am also impressed that he can play without the ball and tries to pass rather than force tough shots. His NBA comparison for me is Goran Dragic if all goes right so an exciting prospect that will be available outside the lottery.
Total Grade: 22
Sadaab: Chandler Hutchison, Forward, Boise State, senior (6-ft-7, 193 lb, 22 yr old)
16 Chandler Hutchison
Hutchison may have had to carry the most responsibility of any player in the country in terms of usage and won’t be looked to do early as much at the next level. This is slightly disappointing because he has shown he can handle it and has been the most rapidly improving player in the country the last few years. He plays above the rim and is much more of a world class athlete than he gets credit for, like you can see in his long leaps and strides across the court. His mentality is best described as someone who tries to demoralize the opponent much like a running back does and plays like he really has “no choice” when he’s out there that I respect. As a mid major, Chandler has to do this and will be the next in line to surprise many with his ranking being consistently in the mid twenties which is a mistake even in a deep group.
His situation and style reminds me of Jimmy Butler, who has to be the biggest draft heists in recent memory when he was a last pick of the first round because of where he played. In his case, there was a lot less proof of stardom and much more development to be made whereas Hutch balled out in a big way even against lesser competition. Like Jimmy, he’s an adept playmaker and good aware team defender, although both can look robotic at times. What he has going for him is ambidextrexity and great cutting ability making him a seamless fit for playoff teams with systems although this could handicap him over going to a place like Chicago where he can be the man more easily – and reportedly has a promise. The game will continue to get easier as it has for him if he can improve his shot to more respectable levels like his catch and shoot or if he can become a better ball handler, potentially opening the door for all types of future scoring chances.
Total Grade: 21
Sadiq: Chandler Hutchison, Forward, Boise State, senior (6-ft-7, 193 lb, 22 yr old)
17 Chandler Hutchison
You wouldn’t think you would find first round draft prospects at Boise State but Chandler Hutchison begs to differ. The 6’7” wing really transformed his game going from his freshman to senior season. He’s not afraid of contact as Hutchison might be the best player getting to the rim in this draft. Chandler’s length allows him to be a plus rebounder as well as a player who can disrupt the passing lanes. He has the build to take on hits and averaged an impressive seven free throws a game with graceful finishing ability. Hutchison really improved his shooting mechanics and overall game with the help of Damian Lillard’s trainer, Phil Beckner. He should be a plus shooter but needs to tighten his handle as he looks a bit uncoordinated at times. The next step for Hutchison is expanding his ISO game, creating his own shot, and diversifying his scoring skillset. There isn’t a perfect comparison for him but he reminds me a little of Kyle Kuzma.
Total Grade: 21.5
Sadaab: Kevin Huerter, SG, Maryland, sophomore (6-ft-7, 194 lb, 20 yr old)
17 Kevin Huerter
Huerter might be the best shooter in the draft and is not limited to only that, which is what puts him in this class for me. He has a beautiful offensive game, making shots from anywhere and step back too that elicit discount Klay Thompson comps that I will rarely allow like in this case thanks to his picture perfect shooting form. He’s not going to lock up his man like that but he never gives up on plays either, saving him from being a liability from that end like other sharpshooters who haven’t panned out and frankly are unplayable because of it. He can’t be targeted because he has good instincts and a high basketball IQ to make up for any shortcomings along with his excellent profile that can have him be a mismatch at the two of three due to above average speed and finishing potential. His aggressiveness offensively is not confined to the three point line as a result and he can really show a knack for getting others involved too. What Kevin also has going for him is that he’s clearly getting stronger and stockier to not be pushed around even though that rarely happens anyway.
This is not a Kyle Korver, meaning he’s got more talent – incredible to think about really for someone so good at his craft. He is also no Allen Crabbe either because he is not anemic at everything but scoring as evidenced by positive rebounding numbers and everything else really. Like the man before him, I just hope he goes to the right team that knows how to best utilize his talents as a mature player and sees the ceiling is higher than the floor so they’re more than system players who don’t get the fanfare they deserve. How or why is DiVincenzo better? If this happens, he can easily turn into a Gary Harris type who is one of the faces of his scrappy, up and coming roster much like he was at Maryland over more recognizable NBA names. They do all the same things and while Harris may not be a wing, he is quite valuable regardless with him doing anything and everything after not starting at Michigan State where he might have also been a little underused, coming out a little too early over being in the lottery a year from now but they’re ready.
Total Grade: 20.5
Sadiq: Kevin Huerter, SG, Maryland, sophomore (6-ft-7, 194 lb, 20 yr old)
18 Kevin Huerter
I didn’t watch much Maryland basketball this season so when I watched Huerter’s tape, I immediately regretted not knowing about him sooner. The sophomore might be the best shooter in this draft class outside Trae Young. Combine that with his great height for a two guard and offensive as well as defensive versatility and you have one of my favorite prospects in this draft class. His shot looks automatic and he can shoot off the dribble without any problem. Normally you’d expect an elite shooter like Huerter to have defensive deficiencies but he seems to be willing to take on the challenge on both sides of the ball. Kevin stays in front of his man on defense most of the time and won’t be a defensive liability. He doesn’t only score with the 3 ball but also can find his way to the basket and can finish with either hand. Huerter’s passing ability is also underrated and he gets his fair share of rebounds. It’s hard not to compare him to Klay Thompson.
Total Grade: 21
Sadaab: Elie Okobo, Point Guard, France (6-ft-3, 180 lb, 20 yrs old)
18 Elie Okobo
Okobo is the newest attraction out of France, a country producing more and more solid, respectable NBA talents than ever. Unlike those before him, he’s carving up the competition as an incredible shotmaker who just gets buckets when they’re needed as seen by his recent outburst in the French playoffs. As a smaller guard, he may not have the quickest first step of explosion expected of others ahead of him like SGA or Khryi Thomas but what he does possess is a confidence that is sure to take him a long way if he can be controlled when necessary with wild shot slection like the Spurs did so well with one of his sure to be idols Tony Parker. This marriage would be an amazing one for other reasons like his natural willingness to make difficult reads as a smart player with kickouts as well as simple ones like the pick’ roll. His torso and upperbody is becoming a plus like improving footwork and being adept at changing pace as well as tempo.
There are going to be growing pains to be expected for someone is not a natural at point but he has a good feel that makes you believe he could do it. Other frustrations that are sure to be experienced along with the vast learning curve and speed difference is the potential for his lefty shot to be blocked more than you like because of a somewhat slow release. When this happens, it shouldn’t come as a shock if he is not as engaged on the other end if his bread and butter isn’t working. He might not attack as much as he should inside and get too cute with floaters or boneheaded passes to find any way to get on board. In a lot of ways, his habits and capacities are a lot like the mercurial D’Angelo Russell who have it all in this world but need that extra push to get most out of him. It’s difficult to know if he’s exactly that way but the youth-reward is considerable even more so at this juncture where it’d be silly not to take a flier in an effort to mold him more than number two overall. He knows he needs to be more consistent and less streaky to not beat himself mentally.
Name: 5/5 stars
Total Grade: 20
Sadiq: Robert Williams, C, Texas A&M, sophomore (6-ft-9, 237 lb, 20 yr old)
19 Robert Williams
Robert Williams should be a familiar name to draftniks like myself as I still believe the big man from Texas A&M made a mistake not declaring for last year’s draft. In short, he hasn’t made drastic improvements from his game in his freshman season but he’s still a well-known commodity. Williams is an elite athlete as you can tell whenever he moves around laterally on defense and rises for alley-oops. No surprise either that he’s a very good rebounder and shotblocker but it is perplexing that he doesn’t have a jump shot. With today’s NBA and lacking a decent jumper, Williams should play center or he will get exposed on offense. However, Williams is indeed scary in transition as he can run very well and play in the post. I think he can be a very good switch defender as well. The easy comparison here is to DeAndre Jordan. If Williams showed anything remotely close to the little baby baseline jumper he has, he could’ve been seen as a consensus top 10 pick but without a large portion of the game, he remains in this mid to late first round area.
Total Grade: 20
Sadaab: Jerome Robinson, Point Guard, Boston College (6-ft-5, 188 lb, 21 yrs old)
19 Jerome Robinson
Just because he probably won’t go this high doesn’t mean Jerome Robinson shouldn’t. It’s hard to argue with what he’s done at Boston College, where he was their greatest player since BC legend MarShon Brooks but some will try due to his wiry physique that some don’t see performing as well even though they keep missing on guys like Devin Booker who people desperately try to find. I don’t think he is quite there yet but I also have very high expectations for him, like winning a sixth man of the year award eventually with his hero ball mentality if he’s not the starter I think he is and can’t are weight. In fact, I’ll go a step further and lump him with one of the league’s great stories in CJ McCollum, who I loved at the collegiate level before he took the leap after Lamarcus Aldridge left who received close marks.
There are more than a few similarities to their games, the first being the crafty ways they can put the ball in the basket. Both are gifted at playing on and off the ball, making them lethal in any offensive situation with them finding a way to just get open like slithery snakes. A lot of this is possible because of exceptional body control and fluidity of their limbs, not to mention they have great touch. They are nightmares off screens and Robinson has a edge in his entry into highlight reels with occasional poster dunks as well as fancy layups. For draft prospects who claim to be positionless, he’s one of the few that can back up whatever talk that versatile stuff is since I’ve seen conflicting reports about how tall he is which don’t concern me in the least because of his diverse and creative skillset. He is not your typical isolation guy most of the time but can get space and separation pretty easily if you give him even a little breathing space or dump it off to him to let him find his way.
Total Grade: 19.5
Sadiq: Khyri Thomas, Guard, Creighton, sophomore (6-ft-4, 199 lb, 22 yr old)
20 Khyri Thomas
Khyri Thomas, the junior from Creighton, had a great season shooting over 50% from the field and 40% from three-point land and routinely showed his advanced defensive tools. I’m impressed with his ability to create space as he pulls up to shoot well from both midrange and three. He is a physical guard listed over 200 pounds and isn’t afraid of contact near the rim. Thomas won’t wow you with his speed but he seems like a very cerebral player and shows flashes of being a good passer. Khyri reminds me a lot of Avery Bradley as he has excellent hands to steal and deflect passes. The big question with Thomas is can he play point guard at the next level? He is a little turnover prone as the primary ball handler in pick and roll situations and isn’t super explosive but I think he definitely can be a good two way guard for a long time.
Total Grade: 20
Sadaab: Keita Bates-Diop, Forward, Ohio State (6-ft-9, 224 lb, 22 yrs old)
20 Keita Bates-Diop
My last selection to round out this top twenty is also my toughest. I decided with Diop because of how confident I am that he will translate and fast over someone like Troy Brown who I held in the highest regard not too long ago. He has just proven that he could do much more in his comeback season as Big Ten Player of the Year and that he is one of the few true combo forwards in the whole draft. This means he could switch effortlessly onto any position and latch on well as a coach’s biggest defensive secret and weapon a la Draymond Green. He might not be as rigid or a pest but his length given how long he is, more than raises an eye if you can get past his birthdate! KBD is one of the best rebounded of his class and is a human magnet out there, chasing you to the perimeter or anywhere to go get it and grab with his arms.
He’s the old fashioned clean up man who is more than ready to block shots on the weakside or start a fast break despite not being the fastest or twitchiest. If he’s left open, he can branch out and take open threes when he has to like Brook Lopez. His post game consist of more than just a couple moves and he plays with his back behind most of the time for better percentages, combining the old school with tremendous value on the other side. I think there is more than enough in the tank for him to be a third option at worst when he’s on the floor with occasional midrange flashes of Jabari Parker and Danny Granger while sometimes disappearing too. He complements a more modern big very nicely who does not want to do the things he does and just launch it, fitting almost every team without having such a range of outcomes like others. You know what you’re getting isn’t overly exciting like Brown who could anything from a Robert Covington to Evan Turner.
Total Grade: 19