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.
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%).
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”
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.
Willamson is the consensus best player in the draft and will serve as the face of the franchise in New Orleans now that Anthony Davis has been traded to the Lakers. Williamson and new point guard Lonzo Ball should be a terror in transition.
2. Memphis Grizzlies- Ja Morant 6’3 174 PG-Sophomore Murray State
With longtime point guard Mike Conley rumored to be on the trading block, it’s time for the Grizzlies to find a new face of the franchise.
The Knicks missed out on Zion Williamson but fans should be happy about his Duke teammate R.J. Barrett. The godson of former two-time MVP Steve Nash, Barrett is polished and has a number of offensive tools to work with.
The Pelicans will use their other top five pick, which they acquired from the Lakers, to bring in a small forward who can do a little bit of everything. Jrue Holliday, Ball and Williamson will command the bulk of the offensive load while Hunter can crash the glass and serve as a spot-up shooter.
Culver should be able to contribute right away for new Cavaliers coach John Beilein. The former Michigan coach should be very familiar with Culver, who scored 22 points, four assists and four rebounds against his Wolverines in the 2019 NCAA Tournament.
Reddish’s inconsistent play could cause a slight slide to the Hawks with the eighth pick. Offensively, Reddish possesses enough skill to take pressure off of Trae Young.
9. Washington Wizards- Sekou Doumbouya 6’9 203 SF- France
Under former executive Ernie Grunfeld, the Wizards had a tendency to draft Europeans. Names like Jan Vesely (2011 NBA Draft, 1st Round, 6th overall) and Tomas Satoransky (2012 NBA Draft, 2nd Round, 32nd overall) immediately come to mind. However, in terms of fit, Doumbouya exhibits the ability to defend at a high level and he excels in transition. Washington could use a player that plays hard and doesn’t take plays off. Doumbouya is that guy.
Clarke is the more NBA-ready forward between him and his Gonzaga counterpart, Rui Hachimura. The Hawks could package this pick for a veteran player, but if they decide to keep it look for them to take a player ready to contribute from the onset.
The Celtics have to try and retain Kyrie Irving but whether he leaves or stays, Boston has shown how much they value three-point shooting (finished seventh in the NBA). Herro (35-percent from the three-point line) fits the bill.
15. Detroit Pistons- Jaxson Hayes 6’11 220 C-Freshman Texas
The Pistons have an abundance of big men and guard may be a bigger need. However, Hayes would be the best prospect on the board and hard to pass up.
Johnson is an experienced silky smooth shooter. Utah could look to draft an immediate contributor who can help them take the next step in the Western Conference.
24. Philadelphia 76ers- Eric Paschall 6’9 255 F-Senior Villanova
The 76ers don’t have to look far for depth in the front court. Paschall can do a little bit of everything and would be good glue guy off the bench for Philadelphia. His game is reminiscent of Paul Millsap’s (Denver Nuggets).
25. Portland Trail Blazers- Kevin Porter Jr. 6’6 218 SG/SF- Freshman USC
Portland could look to stay on the West Coast and add bench scoring from the perimeter with an athletic wing like Porter, Jr.
Brooklyn has three small forwards that will test free agency this season (DeMarre Carroll, Jared Dudley and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson). Okeke averaged 12 points on 49-percent shooting during his sophomore year at Auburn.
28. Golden State Warriors- Terance Mann 6’7 215 SG/SF-Senior Florida State
With injuries to Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant, the Warriors will need immediate contributors to start the season. Mann played four years at Florida State and can play shooting guard or small forward.
29. San Antonio Spurs (from Toronto Raptors)- Nicolas Claxton 6’11 220 C- Sophomore Georgia
Claxton is an effective passer who can guard multiple positions, He fits the mold of a Spurs big man.
A November contest between two Top 5 teams had the feel of a Final Four game in Hawaii. Gonzaga defeated Duke, 89-87, to remain undefeated and handed the Blue Devils its first loss of the season. DraftNasty’s Troy Jefferson gives his impressions in this in game report:
1 Zion Williamson (6’7 285) Duke forward-Freshman
Williamson is a highlight reel waiting to happen. The freshman’s motor coupled with his athleticism stands out. So far this season, Williamson has been able to separate himself with his work on the glass and his finishing ability in transition. For the season, the Spartanburg, South Carolina, native is averaging 20 points per game and nine rebounds. Williamson should be a top three pick in the upcoming draft. As the season goes on, look for head coach Mike Krzyzewski to find creative ways to get Williamson involved without the ball.
23 Zach Norvell, Jr. (6’5, 205) Gonzaga guard-Sophomore
Norvell, Jr. is one of the best guards in the country at getting in the lane, slashing and finishing at the rim. The Chicago native used a crossover against Duke forward RJ Barrett and up-and-under finish to avoid Williamson from blocking the ball in the first half. Norvell, Jr. can also run the fast break and initiate the half court offense with his ability to pass on the perimeter and into the post. The Gonzaga guard is shooting 42-percent from the field and 37-percent from beyond the arc. Standing 6-foot-5, he will have to answer questions about which position he will defend at the next level but the combo guard skill-sets are evident in the sophomore.
Hachimura has doubled his point production from last season. Through six games he is averaging 22 points per game after averaging 11 points a year ago. The junior forward was one of the more experienced players on the floor against Duke and it made a difference. Hachimura showed his ability to be a threat in the screen and roll game by either rolling to the rim or fading to the three point line. The junior also impressed with his face-up game from the pinch post. Like Norvell Jr., he is a bit undersized and will have to find a home defensively at the next level. When switched onto quick forwards like RJ Barrett, Hachimura wasn’t quick enough to stay in front defensively. Hachimura showed enough offensive skills to continue to intrigue NBA scouts.
5 RJ Barrett (6’7, 202) Duke forward-Freshman
Barrett has the most polished, NBA-ready game of any of the players who saw the floor in Wednesday’s game. The freshman forward is quick enough to blow by taller guys and can also handle the ball in pick-and roll. On the season, he is averaging 22 points per game, five rebounds and four assists. Barrett did struggle when forced to go right, missing two layups in the last minute of the game when driving in this direction. Coach Krzyzewski runs a free-flowing offense and relies on his players making plays one-on-one. More times than not, Barrett will make a better decision in crunch time but so far the freshman has impressed in limited action.