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Lillard Talks Blazers’ Moves, Aldridge, Rap Album

Damian Lillard discusses Portland’s additions, LaMarcus Aldridge’s departure, his rap tracks and more!

Alex Kennedy

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The Damian Lillard era is underway in Portland.

The two-time All-Star is unquestionably the centerpiece of the Trail Blazers. In fact, general manager Neil Olshey has even said that Portland will only target players who complement Lillard’s skill set and are on the same career arc as the 25-year-old point guard.

Portland’s front office has been extremely active this summer. Gone are veterans like LaMarcus Aldridge, Wesley Matthews, Nicolas Batum and Robin Lopez, replaced by younger players like Mason Plumlee, Ed Davis, Noah Vonleh, Al-Farouq Aminu and Maurice Harkless among others. Lillard is the lone returning starter for the Blazers, and he’s ready to carry the franchise on his shoulders.

Like the Blazers, Lillard has been incredibly busy this offseason as well. He signed a five-year, $120 million extension to stay with the Blazers long-term. He traveled across the globe promoting his signature adidas shoes. He dropped five rap tracks under his stage name Dame Dolla. He ran his annual Lillard Camp in Oregon. Not to mention, he’s put in extensive work with his trainer to improve his game.

With so much going on, Basketball Insiders’ Alex Kennedy recently caught up with Lillard to discuss the Blazers’ additions, LaMarcus Aldridge’s decision to join the San Antonio Spurs, Lillard’s contract extension, Portland’s expectations for next season and, of course, Dame Dolla’s success in the rap game. Here is the full Q&A:

Basketball Insiders: The Blazers have been very active this summer, adding Mason Plumlee, Ed Davis, Al-Farouq Aminu, Noah Vonleh, Gerald Henderson and Maurice Harkless among others. What do you think of the new additions and how they’ll fit alongside you?

Damian Lillard: “I like all of them. I’ve always been a huge fan of Moe Harkless. I really like Ed Davis. Overall, put all of them together, and I love the size and length and athleticism that they offer. Obviously all of them are younger, which means we can all grow and get better together. We’ll have time to get more familiar with each other and get comfortable with each other, so I like that part of it.”

Basketball Insiders: Ed Davis recently told me that one of the main reasons he wanted to join the Blazers was to play with you. Have you ever recruited free agents and is that something you’re open to doing in the future?

Damian Lillard: “I have never recruited anyone. I’ve spoken to guys with games that I like to see if they wanted to be in a different place and things like that – guys I thought would fit with our team. That was that, but I’ve never gone out and recruited people. I’ve always felt like people will go where they want to be, where they feel most wanted, where they can most benefit and benefit the team, so I let people make their own decisions. It’s kind of up to the player. If you go out there and you recruit somebody and, I guess, butter them up and they come and it’s not what you made them believe it to be then that can be bad, so you got to let people feel it out for themselves and work it out that way.”

Basketball Insiders: You signed a five-year extension with Portland this summer – congratulations, by the way. Lately, a lot of players have been signing shorter deals so that they can hit free agency again sooner. Why did you want to lock in the longest deal possible with the Blazers?

Damian Lillard: “First of all, as much as you want to have the greatest financial situation possible, I don’t play the game for money. I’m not trying to have a plan like, ‘Oh, I can make this much money and I can do this and this.’ I know right now I qualified for what I signed for and I know that I’m playing where I want to be playing at, and I know that the team I’m playing for wants me here. I think both sides just committed to another. It wasn’t about free agency and all those things like that. I don’t play that game.”

Basketball Insiders: I know Blazers fans were thrilled when you signed that deal. If all goes as planned, can you see yourself finishing your career in Portland?

Damian Lillard: “Definitely. I mean, I love it here. I love living here. I love the people here. This is just my kind of place. After growing up where I grew up, you just want to be in a nice, peaceful place. You want to be somewhere where people respect you and somewhere that you have built something. And I feel like I’ve built something great in my first three years here and I will continue to build on it. I consider this a second home. As long as they’ll have me, I’ll be here.”

Basketball Insiders: During Summer League, Neil Olshey said that he expects you guys to play more of an up-tempo style since you have a lot of young athletes on the roster. Are you excited about that?

Damian Lillard: “I am. I think playing faster is going to be the best thing for our team. We have a lot of really athletic guys that can really run. It’s not like we can play the same way [as last year] because we don’t have the same personnel. So I really like that idea of playing a faster game because of where we’re at. It’s something we can really take advantage of, and it’s something that we can do well. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”

Basketball Insiders: Because the roster features so many young players, some people are writing you guys off entering next season. Does that motivate you and do you think this group will surprise people?

Damian Lillard: “I do think we can definitely surprise people. I’m not sure why they would expect anything. We have myself, who’s been doubted. This is not my first time being doubted and second-guessed. And then we have a lot of young guys who are going to be put in certain roles and situations that they haven’t been in the past. Their responsibility is going to change. I think things like that is why we’ve been second-guessed or written off, but I think we’ll be fine.”

Basketball Insiders: With so many of last year’s veterans gone, are you looking forward to taking on an increased role next season?

Damian Lillard: “Definitely. I mean, the way I see it, anytime you get an opportunity to rise, grow and face a challenge, I’m all for that. This will be my first time being in that position in the NBA. It kind of reminds me of my sophomore year in college. I played my freshman year with a lot of good players and the MVP of the league and then everybody left. A new group of guys came in and I ended up being the leader right away. I did what I had to do. I just embraced the situation and took it for what it was. People have no expectations for us, so I mean that takes the pressure off. We’re just going to see what happens.”

Basketball Insiders: How much of an adjustment will it be not having guys like LaMarcus, Wesley, Nic and Robin around on and off the court? I know you were close with some of those guys.

Damian Lillard: “I mean, it’s definitely going to be an adjustment because you take a four-time All-Star out of the picture, you take a small forward who can do everything out of the picture, you take a shooting guard who is a lights out shooter and great defender out of the picture you take out a center who is as low maintenance as they come, who just wants to rebound, protect the paint and just cares about the team wining. You take guys like that away and of course everything changes. But like I said, the position we’re in, it’s all a part of growth. We just got to embrace that. Embrace the fact that the challenge is in front of us and this is what we’re faced with. We just got to step up to it like men and if it does work out, great; if it doesn’t go perfect, then that’s what it is. We just got to be ready to embrace the challenge.”

Basketball Insiders: Were you surprised to see LaMarcus leave to go to the Spurs?

Damian Lillard: “No, it didn’t surprise me. He spent nine years of his career in Portland. Last year we went to the second round, and this past year we lost in the first round and he’s at that point in his career where he’s thinking about a championship. Not that we couldn’t win it, but it’s not uncommon for a guy at his age to make changes for themselves and for what they want for their careers, so I wasn’t surprised by it at all.”

Basketball Insiders: What aspects of your game have you been working to improve this offseason?

Damian Lillard: “I’ve been doing a lot of stuff. Just working on different spots, different types of shots in different spots. I’m working on my balance, my core, ball-handling, my passing, things like that – a lot of stuff that’s going to allow me to make things easier for myself. Like you said, all the threats that I’ve had around me these first three seasons [have left] so now I’ll get a lot more attention on the offensive end. I have to be able to do other things, whether that’s getting to a certain spot on the floor, making the play to pass the ball out and sprint to another spot for an open shot instead passing the ball out, standing out and watching. I’ve been working on a lot of stuff like that.”

Basketball Insiders: Let’s talk about your rapping. First of all, you are ridiculously talented. Are you putting out an album and is there a timetable for that to drop?

Damian Lillard: “Well, I plan on putting out a short album. I want to do it way before the season is even creeping up on us; I want to get something done early. But it’s already done. If I do put something out, it’s not something that I need to do now, it’s already done. I recorded a lot stuff. But the crazy thing is, I don’t spent a lot of time doing it. I have things that I do. I work out twice a day, I get my lift in, I hang out with my family and I’ve just been relaxing a lot. But some nights, I decide to go the studio and do some music just to give myself some balance, to put my mind in a different place and kind of put my emotions out there a little bit. I don’t spend a lot of time doing it, so it’s been kind of funny to see people like, ‘Oh he better get in the gym!’

Basketball Insiders: I hate people who say stuff like that, like you guys are supposed to live in the gym.

Damian Lillard: “This is how I can break that down to you. So, they want us as professionals to be humble, right? They like for us to be humble and not act like we’re this and that, but at the same time you need to treat us like a normal person. Put it like this, for my mom growing up, she had two jobs. You praise the average person for working two jobs. But the fact that I have like a second career, possibly, people want to say just focus on [basketball]. So it’s kind of like you’re automatically making me not a normal person. You’re almost, in a way, taking my normalcy away by saying just focus on one thing, when you praise the average person for having a second job. That just doesn’t make sense!”

Basketball Insiders: Finally, I want to ask you about Lillard Camp. You go all out for this – working directly with the kids, bringing in talented coaches and even taking all of the campers to a movie theater to see Ant-Man! What made you want to do this camp and take it to that level?

Damian Lillard: “People pay their money to come get a great camp, and for their kids to learn something. I just want to give people what they signed up for and [what they paid for]. I just want to have that presence [at the camp] because making an impact on the kids is everything, man.”

Alex Kennedy is the Managing Editor of Basketball Insiders and this is his 10th season covering the NBA. He is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

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NBA

NBA Daily: They Guessed Wrong

Matt John reflects on some of the key decisions that were made last summer, and how their disappointing results hurt both team outlooks and players’ legacies.

Matt John

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It doesn’t sound possible, but did you know that the crazy NBA summer of 2019 was, in fact, over a year ago? Wildly, in any normal, non-pandemic season, it all would have been over three months ago and, usually, media days would be right around the corner, but not this time. The 2019-20 NBA season is slated to end sometime in early to mid-October, so the fact that the last NBA off-season was over a year ago hasn’t really dawned on anyone yet. Craziest of all, even though there will still be an offseason, there technically won’t be any summer.

Coronavirus has really messed up the NBA’s order. Of course, there are much worse horrors that COVID-19 has inflicted upon the world – but because of what it’s done to the NBA, let’s focus on that and go back to the summer of 2019. It felt like an eternity, but the Golden State Warriors’ three-year reign had finally reached its end. The Toronto Raptors’ victory over the tyranny that was the Hamptons Five – as battered as they were – made it feel like order had been restored to the NBA. There was more to it than that though.

Klay Thompson’s and Kevin Durant’s season-ending injuries, along with the latter skipping town to join Kyrie Irving in Brooklyn meant two things.

1. Golden State was down for the count
2. Brooklyn’s time wasn’t coming until next year.

A one-year window was open. Even if neither Golden State nor Brooklyn posed the same threat that the former did when it had Kevin Durant, those were two contenders out of commission. If there was a time to go all in, it was in 2019.

Milwaukee certainly seemed to go all in. For the most part.  Malcolm Brogdon’s departure seemed a little odd since he was arguably their best non-Giannis playmaker when they were in crunch time. Not to mention there was nothing really stopping the Bucks from keeping him except for money. Detractors will call out Milwaukee for electing to cheap out by not keeping Brogdon and hence, avoiding the luxury tax. However, there’s more to it than that.

Milwaukee thought it had enough with the core it had on its roster. Coming off the best season they had put up since the eighties, they believed the franchise built the right team to contend. There was an argument that keeping Brogdon may have been overkill with their guard depth – let’s not forget that Donte DiVincenzo did a solid job in Brogdon’s role as the backup facilitator. This would have been more defensible had it not been for Milwaukee picking the wrong guy to let go. That was the indefensible part- electing to keep Eric Bledsoe over Brogdon.

Bledsoe wasn’t necessarily a bad investment. No one’s complaining about an almost 15 point average on 47/34/79 splits or playing individual defense tight enough to get named on the All-Defensive second team. By all accounts, Bledsoe earns his keep. That is until the playoffs. Bledsoe’s postseason woes have been a weight ever since he first entered Milwaukee, and this postseason was more of the same.

Bledsoe’s numbers dwindled to just 11.7 points on 39/25/81 splits, and Milwaukee getting ousted in five games at the hands of Miami made his struggles stand out even more than it had ever been. Bledsoe may be the better athlete and the better defender, but Brogdon’s all-around offensive savvy and his only slight dropoff defensively from Brogdon would have made him a bit more reliable.

Milwaukee guessed wrong when they opted to extend Bledsoe before the postseason last year when they could have waited until that very time to evaluate who to keep around. Now they face a hell of a lot more questions than they did at the end of last season – questions that may have been avoided had they made the right choice.

Now they could have kept both of them, yes, but it’s not totally unreasonable to think that maybe their approach with the luxury tax would have worked and maybe they would still be in the postseason right now had they gone with the homegrown talent. And just maybe, there wouldn’t be nearly as much of this Greek Freak uncertainty.

The Houston Rockets can relate. They got bruised up by a team that everyone thought Houston had the edge on going into the series and then crushed by the Lakers. Now, Mike D’Antoni is gone. The full-time small ball experiment likely did not work out. Since the Rockets emptied most of their assets to bring in Russell Westbrook and Robert Covington, there may not be a route in which they can become better than they presently are.

The mistake wasn’t trading for Russell Westbrook. The mistake was trading Chris Paul.

To be fair, most everybody severely overestimated Chris Paul’s decline. He’s not among the best of the best anymore, but he’s still pretty darn close. He deserved his All-NBA second team selection as well as finishing No. 7 overall in MVP voting. OKC had no business being as good as they were this season, and Paul was the driving force as to why.

For all we know, the previously-assumed tension between Chris Paul and James Harden would have made its way onto the court no matter what. Even so, Houston’s biggest obstacle in the Bay Area had crumbled. If they had just stayed the course, maybe they’re still in the postseason too.

To their credit, none of this may have happened had it not been for the Kawhi Leonard decision. Had he chosen differently, the Thunder never blow it up, and Houston might have very well been the favorite in the Western Conference. Instead, the Rockets took a step back from being in the title discussion to dark horse. But at least they can take pride knowing that they weren’t expected to win it all – the Clippers can’t.

Seeing the Clippers fall well short expectations begs the question if they too got it wrong. The answer is, naturally: of course not. They may have paid a hefty price for Paul George, but the only way they were getting Kawhi Leonard – one of the best players of his generation – was if PG-13 came in the package. As lofty as it was, anyone would have done the same thing if they were in their shoes. They didn’t get it wrong. Kawhi did.

On paper, the Clippers had the most talented roster in the entire league. It seemed like they had every hole filled imaginable. Surrounding Leonard and George was three-point shooting, versatility, a productive second unit, an experienced coach – you name it. There was nothing stopping them from breaking the franchise’s long-lasting curse. Except themselves.

Something felt off about them. They alienated opponents. They alienated each other. At times, they played rather lackadaisically, like the title had already been signed, sealed, and delivered to them. The media all assumed they’d cut the malarkey and get their act together – but that moment never really came. They had their chances to put Denver away, but even if they had, after seeing their struggles to beat them – and to be fair Dallas too – would their day of destiny with the Lakers have really lived up to the hype?

Even if it was never in the cards, one can’t help but wonder what could have happened had Kawhi chosen to stay with the team he won his second title with.

Toronto was the most impressive team in this league this season. They still managed to stay at the top of the east in spite of losing an all-timer like Leonard. That team had every component of a winner except a superstar. They had the right culture for a championship team. Just not the right talent. The Clippers were the exact opposite. They had the right talent for a championship team but not the right culture. That’s why the Raptors walked away from the postseason feeling proud of themselves for playing to their full potential while the Clippers writhed in disappointment and angst over their future.

In the end, everyone mentioned here may ultimately blame what happened to their season on the extenuating circumstances from the pandemic. The Bucks’ chemistry never fully returned when the Bubble started. Contracting COVID and dealing with quad problems prevented Westbrook from reviving the MVP-type player he was before the hiatus. As troubling as the Clippers had played, the extra time they would have had to work things out in a normal season was taken away from them.

For all we know, next year will be a completely different story. The Rockets, Bucks, and Kawhi may ultimately have their faith rewarded for what they did in the summer of 2019 – but that will only be mere speculation until the trio can change the story.

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Looking Toward The Draft: Power Forwards

Basketball Insiders continues their NBA Draft watch, this time with the power forwards.

David Yapkowitz

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We got some updated NBA draft news this week when the league announced that several key dates have been pushed back including the draft, the start of free agency and the beginning of the 2020-21 season.

The 2020 draft was originally scheduled for Oct. 16, but it will now likely occur sometime in November. Obviously, with the COVID-19 pandemic still wildly out of control in the United States, all of these potential deadlines are fluid and subject to change.

With that said, we’re continuing our position by position breakdown here at Basketball Insiders of some of the top 2020 draft prospects. We looked at the point guards and shooting guards last week, and this week we’re covering the small forwards and power forwards.

The power forward crop, like the draft overall, doesn’t appear to be as strong as recent years, that doesn’t mean there aren’t potential contributors and high-level NBA players available, as well as one who might just turn out to be a star-caliber player.

Onyeka Okongwu, USC – 19 years old

Okongwu is the player who just might develop into a star on some level. He was actually underrated in high school and was snubbed for a McDonald’s All-American selection his senior year. He established himself early on at USC as the team’s best player as a freshman and now appears to have turned some heads.

He’s been mentioned as a lottery pick and in some mock drafts, he’s top 4-5. He possesses a great all-around skill-set; he can score in the post, he can put the ball on the floor and attack and he can shoot. But perhaps his biggest attribute is his versatility on the defensive end. He’s got quick feet and mobility and can guard multiple positions.

Okongwu might actually play center in the NBA, especially in small-ball lineups, but he’s mostly played power forward and so he’ll probably see time there in the league. His skill-set fits perfectly with today’s game.

Obi Toppin, Dayton – 22 years old

Toppin is one of the older players in the draft, and in recent history, players that age tend to slip on draft boards. In Toppin’s case, it looks like the reverse might actually be true. He’s been projected as a lottery pick, and even going in the top 3.

He’s an incredibly athletic player who thrives in the open court. He looks like he’ll do well in an up-tempo offensive system that has capable playmakers who can find him in transition. He’s extremely active around the rim and he can finish strong. A decent shooter too, something he’ll need at the next level.

Toppin has the physical tools to be an effective defensive player, but that’s where the questions marks on him have been. In the NBA, he’s likely going to have to play and guard multiple positions. Whether or not he can adapt to that likely will answer the question as to what his ceiling can be.

Precious Achiuwa, Memphis – 20 years old

Achiuwa is another intriguing prospect. this writer actually got to watch him play in person while he was in high school and he was very impressive. He looked like a man among boys. He’s projected to be a late lottery pick.

He has an NBA-ready body and he’s got some toughness around the rim and in the paint. He was a double-double threat during his one season at Memphis and his knack for rebounding is something that should translate to the NBA. He’s a very good defender too, in particular, as a rim protector. He’s very quick and has the ability to guard multiple positions.

One of the main knocks on Achiuwa is his shooting ability. He didn’t shoot that well in college and power forwards being able to space the floor is almost a requirement in today’s NBA game. It’s something he can certainly work on and improve on though.

Honorable Mentions:
Paul Reed, DePaul – 21 years old
Xavier Tillman, Michigan State – 21 years old
Killian Tillie, Gonzaga – 22 years old

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Looking Toward the Draft: Small Forwards

Basketball Insiders’ examination of the 2020 draft class continues with a look at the small forwards.

Drew Maresca

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It was announced on Wednesday that the NBA Draft would be delayed from Oct. 16 to Nov. 18. The rationale is that the extra month gives the league and its players association more time to negotiate changes to the CBA. It also grants teams additional time to procure information on prospects and allows the NBA to establish regional virtual combines. But nothing is set in stone.

Still, draft prep must continue. This year’s draft class has more question marks than usual – which was complicated by the cancellation of the NCAA tournament (along with the NIT and a number of conference tournaments). There are incredibly skilled offensive players with limited offensive upside and jaw-droppingly talented defenders with incomplete offensive packages. But if (recent) history serves as a guide, there will be a few guys who make an immediate impact – and some of them very well could be small forwards.

The small forward position is key for the modern NBA. Want proof? Survey the league and you’ll find that most – if not all – contenders have an elite small forward – Milwaukee, Los Angeles (both), Boston, Miami, Toronto.

But the list of can’t miss small forward prospects feels smaller than usual. Scanning the numerous legitimate mock drafts (including our own by Steve Kyler), it becomes apparent that we lack a consensus on which small forwards will be selected (and in what order) after the top 3 or 4. Can any of them grow into a star? Maybe. Maybe not. But before we get too far ahead of ourselves, let’s identify what the top few bring to the table.

Deni Avdija, Israel – 19 years old

Avdija is a relatively well-rounded prospect who’s played professionally since he was 16. He boasts good height (6-foot-9) and uses it effectively to shoot over and pass around opposing defenses. Further, Avdija is an exceptional playmaker and he’s incredibly confident, enabling him to take chances many players would be apprehensive trying. Avdija is a high-IQ player. And what’s more, he’s a surprisingly strong defender. His height and above-average athleticism allow him to block shots, and he’s more physical than you’d expect him to be.

But there are drawbacks to Avdija, too. His main issue is around shooting. Avdija shot only 28% in the EuroLeague last season, and he shot only 60% from the free-throw line. Further, while he’s a decent athlete, he’ll struggle to secure a role in the NBA. He’s going to need to add speed to stay with modern wings, and he’ll also have to bulk up to bang with power forwards.

Still, Avdija’s upside is alluring. He’s only 19, and his smarts, confidence and grittiness should provide him cover for much of his rookie season. Avdija should be the first small forward off of the board.

Isaac Okoro, Auburn – 19 years old

Avdija might be the flashier name currently, but Okoro will give him a run for his money in terms of which small forward is first off the board. Okoro is built like a traditional NBA wing; he’s 6-foot-6 with good strength packed in his muscular frame (215 lbs). Okoro finishes well around the rim and he converts well through contact. He’s an exceptional athlete who excels catching the ball on the move. Like Avdija, Okoro has the poise and composure of a more experienced player. Also, like Avdija, Okoro looked the part of a high IQ player in his lone season at Auburn.

And while all that is great, the main allure of Okoro is his defense. He’s a fairly advanced defender given his age, and his athleticism and timing make him an effective weak side help defender.

While Okoro’s raw abilities are exquisite, his refined offensive skills leave something to be desired. Okoro shot 28 percent on three-point field goals and he struggled from the free-throw line (67.2 percent). His mid-range jump shot also needs work, and he struggles in isolation situations.

If Okoro can hone his offensive game, he could grow into an All-Star. He has the ability to guard multiple positions, and his strength and athleticism give him a leg up on most prospects. But even if he doesn’t become an All-Star, he possesses a fairly high floor given his defensive abilities — and the guy definitely fills the state sheet (12.9 points, 4.4 rebounds, 2.0 assists, .9 steals and .9 blocks). He has lockdown defender potential and he’ll put his stamp on the game beginning on night one.

Devin Vassell, Florida State – 20 years old

Vassell played two seasons at Florida State, but he came into his own in his Sophomore season. He averaged 12.7 points, 5.1 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.4 steals and 1.0 blocks per game. He shot a more than respectable 41.5% on three-point attempts, and he demonstrated a strong stroke from the free-throw line (73.8 percent) and on two-point field goal attempts (53.2).

Vassell is an extremely athletic leaper, who can rise up for a highlight dunk and sprint down the floor with ease. He has good body control and demonstrated a strong mid-range game, especially his step-back jump shot. But Vassell must generate more free throws through decisive moves to the hoop, which would be bolstered by a more muscular frame. Additionally, he must improve his ball-handling to get more from isolations.

Vassell will have an adjustment period in terms of scoring the ball at the next level. Fortunately, his defense and shooting should get him by. If he can bulk up and improve his handling, Vassell could grow into a serious player.

Aaron Nesmith, Vanderbilt – 20 years old

Nesmith probably has a lower floor than any of the other top small forward prospects given that he’ll be 21 by the draft. Still, he looked quite good in his Junior year, averaging 23 points, 4.9 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game on a scorching 52.2 percent shooting from deep. Nesmith is an incredibly gifted shooter who has impressive range. His ability to catch-and-shoot and create space with fakes makes him a promising prospect – for the right team.

Nesmith is a high IQ player who uses his smarts on the defensive end. He’s also quite strong, can get buckets in the open floor and demonstrates above average ball-handling skills, as long as he’s not taking the ball to the hoop.

But there are inherent limitations in Nesmith’s game. He’s doesn’t create for his teammates too effectively and he turns the ball over more frequently than one would like with. Further, Nesmith is plagued by robotic movements that limit his athleticism. His ball-handling breaks down when taking the ball to the rack – something he’ll certainly have to work on in the NBA if he wants to be a versatile scoring threat against the bigger and stronger competition.

Still, Nesmith’s positives give him an excellent chance at being selected in the first round. His range alone will intrigue teams in need of a shooter.

Honorable Mentions:

Saddiq Bey, Villanova – 21 years old

Jaden McDaniels, Washington – 19 years old

Robert Woodard II, Mississippi State – 20 years old

With the uncertainty around small forward prospects, expect to see a revolving door of names enter the discussion after the first four wing prospects are off the board prior to Nov. 16 – assuming the draft is held then. But regardless of how you have them ranked, all of the aforementioned prospects have question marks. But all have had far more time to improve than they would have in years’ past. Let’s hope that shows come next season.

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