All posts by Troy Jefferson

2021 NFL Draft Preview: Thomas Graham, Jr. CB-Oregon

It didn’t take long for Graham, Jr. to make an impact on Oregon’s campus. The preseason 2020 All-Pac-12 corner has now made 39 consecutive starts due to a combination of agility, football smarts and toughness. We go inside the game of one of college football’s best perimeter defenders in our video spotlight. Heading into 2020, Graham is the active FBS leader in passes defensed (40) and has eight career interceptions.

Graham had four tackles, one interception and one pass break-up versus Auburn in the 2019 season opener.
Graham’s ability to maneuver his frame allows him to get in-and-out of his breaks quickly when playing either press-man or off-man coverage.

2020 NBA Draft Preview: Tre Jones 6’3 185 PG-Duke

What makes this player NASTY…(Strengths): The ACC Player of the Year put together a solid sophomore campaign that was spearheaded by his defense. Big game player. Jones took it to fellow 2020 NBA Draft point guard prospects: Devon Dotson (Kansas), Cassius Winston (MSU), Cole Anthony (UNC) as he led his team to a 4-0 record vs. the trio. Against the three, Jones averaged 21 points and had a near 3:1 assist-to- turnover ratio. Jones offensively does his best work out of the Blue Devils “horns” set, where he operates with two players up top and two in the corner. He is capable of making the right read in the pick and roll as well as pulling up in the midrange (UCF ‘19, 1st Half ). Defensively, his length bothers opposing guards (averaged just under two steals per game for his career). Jones’ feet and arms are always in motion, which leads to deflections.

Weaknesses: Jones saw his three-point shooting percentage improve from 26% to 36%, was his sophomore numbers indicative of his outside shooting long term or a fluke? Jones is best when setting others up, look at his work a season ago with three lottery picks. If he joins a team with subpar talent does he have the ability to make other players around him better? Jones has good length for the position but it remains to be seen how he handles the more physical NBA point guards with his lean frame.

Other Notes:

  • Attended Apple Valley High School (Mn.) and was a consensus five-star recruit. He was also named Minnesota’ Mr. Basketball
  • He has two older brothers that played college basketball: Tyus and Jadee. Tyus also attended Duke, and now plays for the Memphis Grizzlies.  Jadee played at Furman University.
  • 2020 ACC Player of the Year recipient as well as the conference’s Defensive Player of the Year
  • 2018-2019 (36 games, 36 sts): 9.4 PPG, 41% FG, 26% 3-PT, 76% FT, 3.8 RPG, 5.3 APG, 1.9 SPG
  • 2019-2020 (29 games, 29 sts): 16.2 PPG, 42% FG, 36% 3-PT, 77% FT, 4.2 RPG, 6.4 APG, 1.8 SPG
  • Career stats: 12.4 PPG, 42% FG, 31% 3-PT, 77% FT, 1.8 SPG, 4 RPG, 5.8 APG,

Time to get NASTY (Our Summary): Jones played a lot of basketball during his two years at Duke. Despite being just a sophomore, he is one of the more experienced players in the draft. DraftNasty projects Jones being most successful with a team where he can create for others that has talented wings and big men. Look for an organization like the Boston Celtics, Miami Heat or Los Angeles Lakers to target the former Duke point guard at the bottom of the first round. 

2020 NBA Draft Preview: Vernon Carey Jr. 6’10 270 C- Duke

What makes this player NASTY…(Strengths): Carey has wide shoulders and should be able to finish through contact at the next level. On tape, there weren’t other centers that pushed Carey around on the block or looked as strong as he did in the paint. He showed himself well, employing a drop step against Georgetown’s 7-foot center Omer Yurtseven in an early season matchup at Madison Square Garden.  Rebound machine. Averaged almost nine boards in 24 minutes of action. Shows promise with his ability to pass from the elbow (Miami, ‘20). 

Weaknesses: 

Carey is strong but can he play effectively in the NBA at 270 pounds? The Duke center averaged 24 minutes a game and he looked on tape like he could’ve played more if he wasn’t fatigued. It’s no coincidence that Carey scored 26 points and 13 rebounds against Pittsburgh when he played 35 minutes. The more he plays, the more effective a player he is. Left-hand dominant. The Florida native is best as a back to the basket big man, has the modern NBA game passed him by? 

Other Notes:

  • Attended the University School of Nova Southeastern University (Fla.) and  was named Florida’s Mr. Basketball in 2017 and 2018. 
  • Father, Vernon, played offensive tackle for the Miami Dolphins
  • Named to the 2019-2020 All ACC Freshman team and was named the conference’s Rookie of the Year
  • 2019-2020 (31 games, 30 sts, Consensus 2nd Team All-American): 17.8 PPG, 58% FG, 38% 3-PT, 67% FT, 8.8 RPG, 1 APG

Time to get NASTY (Our Summary):

Staying in shape and out-hustling the NBA competition will be how Carey survives in the NBA. If the former Duke freshman can perfect running rim-to-rim and sealing the opposing team’s center underneath the basket, he has a chance at a long career. Carey showed he can maneuver from the elbow so there is a possibility he could play some power forward. His game is reminiscent of former Michigan State Spartan Zach Randolph. Randolph enjoyed his best success defensively when paired with a shot blocking center: Theo Ratliff (Portland) and Marc Gasol (Memphis). Carey would benefit equally with rim protection. Right now, it’s hard to find a first round fit for the center.

2020 NBA Draft Preview: Cassius Stanley 6’6 193 SG- Duke

What makes this player NASTY…(Strengths): 

Cassius Stanley is one of the best leapers in this year’s draft and could be a future NBA Dunk Contest participant. The athleticism shows on tape when he shoots the passing gap for steals and runs on the wing (Central Arkansas, ‘19).  When he gets a chance to set his feet on three-point attempts, he is almost automatic (36% from the three-point arc). Another subtle strength in his game is the ability to make the entry passes into the post and make hard cuts to the basket afterwards for finishes in the lane. Quick healer. Stanley was expected to miss a month in December with a leg injury but missed just one game. 

@cassius_stanley

Weaknesses: 

What is Stanley’s go to offensive move? Tre Jones was the table-setter at Duke, which meant the Duke shooting guard rarely had a chance to showcase his skills with the ball. Stanley could struggle in the lane if he is met against true seven-foot shot blockers (Georgetown, ‘19). He could aid his game with a consistent floater to complement his high-wire acts. The California native has a smooth shooting stroke but his free throw shooting percentage did not reflect that on a consistent basis (73%).

Other Notes:

  • Attended Harvard-Westlake School and Sierra Canyon School (Calif.). Participated in the Jordan Brand Classic and was a consensus four star recruit. 
  • Registered a 46” vertical jump, breaking former No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson’s Duke vertical jump record of 45”
  • Mother, Tonya, ran track and field at UCLA 
  • Named to the 2019-2020 All-ACC Freshman team 
  • 2019-2020 (29 games, 29 sts): 12.6 PPG, 47% FG, 36% 3-PT, 73% FT, 4.9 RPG, 1 APG

Time to get NASTY (Our Summary):

Stanley could carve out a long NBA career if he can channel his athleticism into becoming a premier lockdown defender. The foot speed is there, but can he play defense consistently with his feet rather than his hands? Offensively, Stanley would be best served with a point guard that can get steals, push the ball and find him on the wing. The Pelicans have three total draft picks and Stanley would fit well with the often underrated Jrue Holiday, who also happened to be in the Top 10 in steals per game this past season. Worth noting, Lonzo Ball is an excellent passer and also finished in the Top 20 in steals per game. Stanley and Zion Willamson would be a nightmare for opposing teams’ transition defenses. 

2020 NBA Draft Preview: Anthony Edwards 6’5 225 SG- Georgia

What makes this player NASTY…(Strengths):  Edwards possesses an NBA-ready body for a shooting guard. The Georgia freshman showed the potential to take over games by himself with his scoring (MSU ‘19).  Against the Spartans, Edwards had 33 points in the second half, thanks to an explosive first step which in turn set up his jab step to create space for jumpers. NBA defenders will have to be prepared to stop Edwards left-to-right crossover, one of his signature moves. He is also a willing rebounder and can start the fastbreak once he crashes the glass. His leaping ability not only allows him to get rebounds at a 5.2 per game average, but he also can finish at the rim with the best of them. At his size, he moves in transition with fluid motion.  Defensively, Edwards plays with active hands (Delaware State ‘19) but does fall asleep occasionally off the ball. 

Weaknesses: Edwards can fall in trouble with settling for the three-point shot (29% shooting on 7.7 attempts per game). The Atlanta native had five games with at least 29 points but also had four games where he only scored six points in each game. Can he find a more consistent offensive game at the next level? He will have to improve his decision making even at the off-guard position (2.8 assists-to-2.7 turnover ratio). Not a natural point guard but was asked to play the position at times, which caused indecisiveness.  

Other Notes:

  • Attended Therrell and Holy Spirit Prep High School (Ga.). Participated in the Jordan Brand Classic and McDonald’s All- American game.
  • Wears No. 5 to honor his mother and grandmother who both died on the fifth of the month during an eight-month span when Edwards was in the eighth grade. From then on, he was raised by his siblings.
  • 2019-2020 ( 32 games, 32 sts, SEC Freshman of the Year): 19.1 PPG, 40% FG, 29% 3-PT, 77% FT, 5.2 RPG, 2.8 APG,

Time to get NASTY (Our Summary):

Edwards was coached at Georgia by Tom Crean and his game is reminiscent to some of Crean’s former guards: Victor Oladipo and Dwyane Wade. Oladipo and Wade, however, were grizzled college veterans, and Edwards played just one year in college. The Georgia freshman will have to polish his ball handling abilities and ability to play off the ball in order to garner the same success as the aforementioned NBA All-Star guards. Edwards would be best served paired with a point guard who can take the ball handling responsibilities off of him. In addition, he needs a capable pick-and-roll type of center to play beside him. The Minnesota Timberwolves would be an intriguing option for Edwards at the top of the draft.

2020 NBA Draft Preview: Cassius Winston 6’1 185 PG- Michigan State

What makes this player NASTY…(Strengths): Winston plays the game at his own pace and doesn’t have a clear comparison in today’s NBA. His ability to weave in and out of traffic, command the game in transition and keep his dribble is remenicist of former NBA MVP, Steve Nash.

Coach Speak:  “Quite honestly, there are not a lot of players in the country that play (with) that high level of basketball IQ,” Miami head coach Jim Larranaga  said before MSU played the Hurricanes in the NCAA Tournament during Winston’s freshman season. “So we used an old NBA player, now retired, named Steve Nash, because he could find the open man with brilliance. And we find Cassius Winston to be that kind of point guard.”

Worth noting, his shooting splits also compare favorably to Nash when he starred at Santa Clara University. Winston is a gifted passer, who had a 6.4 assist to 2.7 turnover ratio. In his latter years in East Lansing, he showed he could bail the offense out of bad sets with creativity off the dribble as well as pull up from three in transition (43% from the three point line).

Weaknesses: Has the point guard position evolved too much athletically for Winston to find a role in today’s NBA? Conditioning was a problem early on in his junior season when the MSU point guard was asked to shoulder heavy minutes as the Spartans looked for scoring punch (Florida ‘18). Winston is also 22 years old, does he have any upside? 

Other Notes:

  • Attended University of Detroit Jesuit High School (Mi.) and was named the state’s Mr. Basketball.
  • All time assists leader in Big Ten history (890 total) and named Big Ten Player of the Year (2019).
  • 2016-2017 (35 games, 5 sts): 6.7 PPG, 1.8 RPG, 5.2 AST, 42% FG, 38% FG3, 77% FT
  • 2017-2018 (35 games, 34 sts): 12.6 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 6.9 AST, 50% FG, 49% FG3, 90% FT
  • 2018-2019 (39 games, 30 sts): 18.8 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 7.5 AST, 46% FG, 40% FG3, 84% FT
  • 2019-2020 (30 games, 30 sts): 18.6 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 5.9 AST, 45% FG, 43% FG3, 85% FT
  • Career:  14.2 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 6.4 AST, 46% FG, 43% FG3, 84% FT

Time to get NASTY (Our Summary):

Winston has potential as a second round draft pick if he finds a coach that believes in his skill sets. In recent memory, former undersized Spartans like Draymond Green (35th overall pick ) and Bryn Forbes (undrafted)  have been able to latch on in the league despite their low draft position. Winston, who is more decorated than the previously named Spartans, has the intangibles to serve as a quality backup point guard to start his career if he can overcome his physical limitations.

2020 NBA Draft Preview: Isaac Okoro Fr. 6’6 225 SF- Auburn

What makes this player NASTY…(Strengths): Okoro is a defensive specialist on the wing with an NBA-ready frame. The intelligence defensively stands out on tape. The Auburn freshman does a good job of playing a corner shooter while also contesting a drive to the rim (NC State ‘19). He also nearly averaged a steal and a block per game while playing just 31 minutes a contest. Offensively, his game is less developed however, Okoro shows the ability to finish with both hands and serve as a slasher to the rim. Possess body control to avoid charges and make shots at the rim (Davidson ‘19).

Weaknesses: The free throw shooting percentage could be better (67%), especially as much as the freshman drove to the rim, he can expect to be fouled at the next level (4.7 attempts per game). He doesn’t have a niche currently offensively and can get lost in the half court game, averaged two assists and two turnovers per game. Three point shooting percentage is low (29%). Had nine games with at least four fouls, if he fouled less could he have earned more minutes? 

Other Notes:

  • Attended McEachern High School (Ga.) and was rated as a four star prospect by ESPN and 247Sports. Was rated a five star prospect by Rivals.
  • Played for USA at the FIBA Under 17 Basketball World Cup in 2018 and averaged  4.3 points, 1.9 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game, en route to a gold medal. Also participated in the Nike Hoop Summit.
  • Named Second-Team All-SEC, SEC All-Defensive Team and SEC All-Freshman Team.
  • Missed three games with a pulled hamstring. 
  • 2019-2020 (28 games, 28 sts): 12.8 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 2.0 AST, 51% FG, 29% FG3 , 67% FT 

Time to get NASTY (Our Summary): Okoro will help a team immediately with his intelligence defensively as well as his physicality on the wing. His frame and defense will remind scouts of Jimmy Butler but will he be able to improve his offensive game year over year like Butler? The answer to this question will determine Okoro’s long term NBA prospects. 

2020 NBA Draft Preview: Tyrese Maxey 6’3 198 G-Kentucky

What makes this player NASTY…(Strengths): The lightning quickness in the lane jumps out when watching video on Maxey. His slender frame and ball handling abilities allows him to get to places that other guards can’t get to on the floor. Uses screens to get open off the ball (1st half, Michigan State ‘18).  Big game player. In games versus top-ranked Michigan State and the third-ranked Louisville Cardinals this past season, Maxey had his two best scoring games against those opponents (26 and 27 points respectively). Despite a subpar shooting percentage from beyond the arc during his freshman season, Maxey does show NBA range and strong shooting mechanics (83% free throw percentage). The Kentucky guard  is listed at 6’3″ but isn’t incredibly long despite being a willing rebounder (4.3 per game). 

Weaknesses: Size and position fit are the major question marks with Maxey. Can he guard opposing shooting guards at the next level? If he is asked to play point guard full time, he will have to improve his 3:2 turnover/assist ratio. Evidenced by his shooting numbers, Maxey settles from time-to-time and would be better served tweaking his shot selection. 

Maxey -a second-team All-SEC selection- shot 83.3% from the free throw line in 2019-20.

Other Notes:

  • Attended South Garland High School (Tx.).  He was rated as a top 15 recruit by ESPN, Rivals and 247 Sports. 
  • Father, Tyrone, played basketball at Washington State and previously served as the Director of Player Development at Southern Methodist University. 
  • Was named Texas Mr. Basketball in 2019 and played in the McDonald’s All-American game, Jordan Brand Classic and Nike Hoop Summit.
  • 2019-2020 (31 gms, 28 sts): 14.0 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 3.2 AST, 43% FG,  29% 3FG, 83% FT

Time to get NASTY (Our Summary): When it was crunch time, Kentucky head coach John Calipari entrusted Maxey to make plays. Scouts will rave about his late game heroics but how will he hold up defensively at the next level? We believe Maxey would enjoy the most success if paired with a taller guard like Dallas’ Luka Doncic or Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons. Look for the Kentucky guard to start his career as a spark plug off the bench, who can get opposing guards in foul trouble. At 6-foot-3, can Maxey play the shooting guard position? Teams will question his ability to play the point guard spot, but he showed himself well at the position during his final regular season game against Florida (at that position). In that contest, Maxey finished with seven assists and just one turnover. 

2020 NBA Draft Preview: Cole Anthony 6’3 190 PG- North Carolina

What makes this player NASTY…(Strengths): Anthony is a well- conditioned athlete. The Tar Heels point guard missed six weeks with a torn meniscus in his right knee but never skipped a beat with his conditioning and he rarely looks tired. He averaged 34.9 minutes per game and the NBA workload shouldn’t be a problem for him.  A week after coming back from injury, he played 43 minutes against Duke.  Offensively, Anthony is best when asked to make plays off the high screen and roll, where he can drive, shoot the elbow jumper or make the correct pass (Boston College; 1st Half). An accurate barometer for if Anthony is playing well is if he is driving to the basket, he shot at least six free throws in 12 of 22 games played. In those games where he shot more than six free throws, Anthony averaged 21 points compared to 15 points when he did not. He also enjoys using the step back jumper and fade away. When asked to finish at the bucket, Anthony will shoot the ball high off the glass or go to a baseline reverse rather than dunks. 

Weaknesses: Not long and doesn’t possess a great wingspan. Duke point guard Tre Jones is also listed at 6’3” but his length was the difference as he overpowered Anthony to the rim on multiple occasions in their first matchup. Untimely turnovers are a problem as well (ACC Tournament: Virginia Tech; 1st Half). He averaged 3.5 turnovers per game. He was stripped with his team up two against Duke when he tried to split two defenders. Anthony also will need to tweak his shot selection, he is prone to settle for three pointers or fadeaways. The freshman has a fairly quick release but does start his shooting motion at his midsection, will this be effective at the next level?

Other Notes:

  • Attended Archbishop Molloy High School (NY) for three seasons before transferring to Oak Hill Academy (Va.) for his senior season. He was named the 2019 McDonald’s All-American Game MVP after totaling 14 points, five rebounds and seven assists
  • Father, Greg, played 11 seasons in the NBA and won a championship in college at UNLV
  • Member of the U18 USA National Team and led team USA in scoring at the 2019 Nike Hoops Summit
  • Missed six weeks during his lone season at UNC with a torn meniscus in his right knee
  • 2019-2020 (22 games, 20 sts): 18.5 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 4 APG, 38% FG, 34.8% FG3, 75% FT

Time to get NASTY (Our Summary): Cole Anthony plays with a competitiveness that many freshmen don’t possess. However, turnovers and shot selection will be a question mark for scouts. Can Anthony be trusted to make the smart play?  He would be best served playing for a team that has a veteran point guard who can show him the ropes. Look for him to be drafted around pick No. 7 like a Tar Heel point guard who came before him, Coby White. A pairing with the Detroit Pistons and Derrick Rose would be ideal. 

2020 NBA Draft Preview: Daniel Oturu 6’10 240 C- Minnesota

What makes this player NASTY…(Strengths): Oturu projects best defensively as  a weak-side rim protector.  The Minnesota sophomore has the basketball IQ to know when to shade over from the weak-side to protect the rim (1st half, Arkansas State ’18). Oturu averaged 1.3 blocks per game in his freshman season and 2.5 blocks in his sophomore campaign. Offensively, he possesses a bag of moves that belies his age. The drop step over the right shoulder is his signature move (1st half, North Carolina A&T ’18). He also has a rip through move that he will use at the top of the key and a baseline spin that he can use at either side of the basket. Scouts will be intrigued by his raw shooting talent (37% from the three-point line). 

Weaknesses: Oturu struggled finding teammates out of the post and cashing in on assists (0.8 assists per game through his career). Worth noting, he wasn’t surrounded by sharpshooters. When forced to play against shorter, sturdier based opponents, Oturu has the tendency to lose his balance and shoot off-kilter (vs. Xavier Tillman, Michigan State ’19, 2nd Half). Scouts would like to see Oturu play more vertical and use his height rather than reach down and get into foul trouble. Can the Golden Gopher sophomore play against non-traditional centers like Nikola Jokic and Al Horford in space defensively?

Other Notes:

  • Attended Cretin-Derham Hall HS (Minn.) and helped the team win the Class 4A state championship during his senior season with a game- winning dunk against Apple Valley HS , which was led by fellow 2020 NBA Draft prospect, Tre Jones (Duke)
  • Was a consensus four-star prospect coming out of high school and received scholarship offers from Kansas and Baylor
  • Father,  Francis, who stands 5’5″, played table tennis for the Nigerian national team and moved the family to the United States to pursue his career in the sport
  • 2018-2019 (31 sts): 10.8 PPG, 7 RPG, 0.5 APG, 55% FG, 50% 3-PT, 61% FT
  • 2019-2020 (31 sts): 20.1 PPG, 11.3 RPG, 1.1 AST, 56% FG, 36% FG3, 70% FT
  • Career Stats: 15.2 PPG, 9 RPG, 0.8 APG, 55% FG, 37% 3-PT, 67% FT

Time to get NASTY (Our Summary): Oturu was overshadowed in the Big Ten by National Player of the Year candidate, Luka Garza from Iowa. Oturu’s drop step will remind Minnesota fans of former Golden Gopher, Kevin McHale. However, his lack of ability to pass from the post and play defense with his feet rather than his hands will concern scouts. His body frame is reminiscent of former NBA journeyman Nazr Mohammed, but Oturu possesses a more polished offensive game and has more “spring” off the floor. The sophomore big man will flourish in a system where he is surrounded by shooters and can use his myriad of moves on the low block and the pinch post. Look for Oturu to be selected in the Top 15 range of this year’s draft.