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NBA AM: Teams Underachieving And Overachieving

Lang Greene looks at how each team has played early in the season, labeling the underachievers and overachievers.

Lang Greene

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Overachieving, Underachieving or Overhyped

The grueling 82-game NBA season is a marathon not a sprint, so there’s a strong chance the trends you believe are developing as we head into December will be completely flipped down the stretch. However, every season brings a host of overachievers, underachievers and teams that were overhyped entering the campaign.

Let’s take a look around the association at all 30 teams and analyze their current trajectory after the Thanksgiving holiday.

Atlanta Hawks
2015-16 record:
10-7
Status: Underachieving

The Hawks won 60 games last season and were expected to be among the top three teams in the Eastern Conference heading into the season. After a hot start, the team has lost six of its past nine games and is currently seventh in the East. Atlanta has been hit hard with injuries during the early going and still appear to be missing a nightly grit after the departure of DeMarre Carroll in free agency.

Boston Celtics
2015-16 record:
8-7
Status: Performing as expected

The Celtics are a team that wouldn’t surprise most observers if they flirt with 50 wins or end up with just 35 victories at season’s end. The team’s core group is young, which leads to bouts of inconsistency but there’s no denying the talent the franchise has on the roster. As of now, the team is positioned to make a run for the playoffs and that’s a reasonable expectation.

Brooklyn Nets
2015-16 record:
3-12
Status: Performing as expected

Gone are the title expectations that were dreamed about with Deron Williams, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett once in the fold. Joe Johnson is the last remnant of that roster and he will be hitting free agency next summer. The Nets are in rebuilding mode and performing how most expected them to be entering the season.

Charlotte Hornets
2015-16 record:
9-6
Status: Overachieving

Hornets head coach Steve Clifford earned a multi-year contract extension based on the team’s performance to start the season. What makes Charlotte’s start even more impressive is the fact forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has been watching from the sidelines injured. Charlotte is benefiting from two of their forwards, Nicolas Batum and Marvin Williams, having strong bounce-back campaigns. The Hornets appear to be headed in the right direction.

Chicago Bulls
2015-16 record:
9-4
Status: Performing as expected

Ushering in a new voice in the locker room is always a tricky terrain to navigate; however, the Bulls have looked strong to start under new head coach Fred Hoiberg. The team is 6-3 versus teams with a winning record and the squad suffered little moving longtime starting Joakim Noah to a bench role.

Cleveland Cavaliers
2015-16 record:
11-4
Status: Performing as expected

The Cavaliers are right where they expected to be, at the top of the Eastern Conference standings. The team should be boosted by the return of All-Star guard Kyrie Irving in the next month and forward Kevin Love finally looks comfortable. Of course, LeBron James is still putting up monster numbers. Cleveland will be a tough out come playoff time.

Dallas Mavericks
2015-16 record:
9-7
Status: Overachieving

The Mavericks have responded well after a rough summer that saw them lose the commitment of center DeAndre Jordan in free agency. But the team responded by trading for rugged center Zaza Pachulia and secured former All-Star Deron Williams after he parted ways with Brooklyn. There’s a lot of basketball left to be played, but Dallas appears poised to be in the playoff mix down the stretch.

Denver Nuggets
2015-16 record:
6-9
Status: Overachieving

The Nuggets won just 30 games last season, but featured veterans Ty Lawson and Wilson Chandler. Lawson is now in Houston (more on this later), while Chandler has yet to see action this season due to a hip injury. But the team is on pace to surpass last season’s win mark with the arrival of talented rookie Emmanuel Mudiay and the reemergence of veteran forward Danilo Gallinari.

Detroit Pistons
2015-16 record:
8-7
Status: Overachieving

The Pistons have cooled off after a hot start, but the play of Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson has the club above .500 and relevant again in the Eastern Conference (for the time being).

Golden State Warriors
2015-16 record:
16-0
Status: Performing as expected

This is what you expect from a defending champion, a take no prisoners attitude. The Warriors are running roughshod through the league and, barring any serious injuries, should make a run at the regular season win record (72) once it’s all said and done.

Houston Rockets
2015-16 record:
5-10
Status: Underachieving

The Rockets are in a tailspin. Center Dwight Howard is still working his way back from injury, All-Star James Harden started the season in a horrendous shooting slump, Kevin McHale was fired and Ty Lawson has failed to live up to expectations as the team’s floor general. Houston is struggling.

Indiana Pacers
2015-16 record:
9-5
Status: Overachieving

The Pacers took huge risks before the season. With David West and Roy Hibbert gone from their once deep interior, the team stated their plans to play Paul George at power forward. The franchise also signed prolific scorer Monta Ellis in free agency and vowed to play at a faster pace. It appears to be working out for Indiana, but can they sustain this success?

Los Angeles Clippers
2015-16 record:
7-8
Status: Underachieving

For a team that entered the season with title aspirations, the Clippers appear lost. Offseason acquisitions Josh Smith, Lance Stephenson and Paul Pierce haven’t provided the return on investment. All-Star point guard Chris Paul has spent time on the shelf due to injury. DeAndre Jordan hasn’t shown much in the way of improving his offensive involvement. If it wasn’t for the continued improvement of forward Blake Griffin, the Clippers would be in deep trouble.

Los Angeles Lakers
2015-16 record:
2-12
Status: Performing as expected

This is about where you expected Los Angeles to be, but in a more competitive position. Instead, future Hall of Fame guard Kobe Bryant appears to be completely shot and the team is 0-10 when opposing teams score 100 points or more. Ultimately, there will be a light at the end of the tunnel for Lakers fans, but right now there isn’t a flicker on the horizon.

Memphis Grizzlies
2015-16 record:
9-7
Status: Underachieving

While we currently classify Memphis as underachieving, the team has been playing spirited basketball as of late and appear to be finding a rhythm. The trade for veteran guard Mario Chalmers has given the team a much needed offensive spark off the bench.

Miami HEAT
2015-16 record:
9-5
Status: Performing as expected

The post LeBron James era hasn’t been as tough for the franchise, as most expected. With that, the team appears headed toward a playoff berth after a one-year absence.

Milwaukee Bucks
2015-16 record:
6-9
Status: Underachieving

More was expected from this Bucks unit than what they’ve shown thus far. The team invested big money in free agency to retain Khris Middleton and secure Greg Monroe. For a team sitting under .500, this isn’t the return that was expected.

Minnesota Timberwolves
2015-16 record:
7-8
Status: Overachieving

Andrew Wiggins looks like a future star. Karl-Anthony Towns appears to be a strong interior building block. The veteran presence of Kevin Garnett, Tayshaun Prince and Andre Miller has paid dividends. Minnesota’s young core appears to be on the verge of making some noise in the next two or three years.

New Orleans Pelicans
2015-16 record:
4-11
Status: Underachieving

For a team that won 45 games last season and reached the playoffs, the Pelicans have been a disappointment. Yes, there has been a plethora of injuries. But remember, departed head coach Monty Williams flirted with 50 wins last season and didn’t have Anthony Davis at his disposal for 16 games. Alvin Gentry may prove to be the better long-nterm fit, but he’s gotten off to a rocky start.

New York Knicks
2015-16 record:
8-8
Status: Overachieving

For a guy booed relentlessly on draft night, Kristaps Porzingis has been a huge reason for the Knicks’ strong start to the season.

Oklahoma City Thunder
2015-16 record:
10-6
Status: Performing as expected

Although former MVP Kevin Durant has missed time, the Thunder are right in the thick of things at the top of the Western Conference. All-Star guard Russell Westbrook is putting up an MVP-caliber season of his own and new head coach Billy Donovan seemingly has the buy-in of his troops.

Orlando Magic
2015-16 record:
7-8
Status: Performing as expected

The Magic are slowly becoming more relevant after a patient rebuild following Dwight Howard’s departure years ago. The team is still missing a true star, but the franchise has plenty of young assets to target someone via trade.

Philadelphia 76ers
2015-16 record:
0-16
Status: Underachieving

Some would argue the Sixers are performing right along with expectations. But at 0-16, we can’t fully endorse that logic. The team should have at least two or three wins on the table at this point.

Phoenix Suns
2015-16 record:
7-8
Status: Performing as expected

The team’s exciting backcourt, which consists of Brandon Knight and Eric Bledsoe, continues to put up gaudy night statistics. However, it will be the development of young supporting cast members such as T.J. Warren and Alex Len that will ultimately determine how far this franchise can go this season.

Portland Trail Blazers
2015-16 record:
6-10
Status: Overachieving

For a team that lost LaMarcus Aldridge, Wesley Matthews, Nicolas Batum and Arron Afflalo during the offseason, the Blazers have held it together – relatively speaking. Talented guard Damian Lillard could make a run at a scoring title and the emergence of C.J. McCollum, Al-Farouq Aminu and Mason Plumlee have been pleasant surprises.

Sacramento Kings
2015-16 record:
6-10
Status: Performing as expected

Rajon Rondo is reestablishing himself as one of the league’s better playmakers and DeMarcus Cousins’ game continues to evolve. While a playoff berth may not be in order, the Kings look more cohesive on the floor.

San Antonio Spurs
2015-16 record:
12-3
Status: Performing as expected

Father Time is undefeated when dealing with athletes on a one-on-one basis, but as a collective unit the old man Spurs continue to win. LaMarcus Aldridge is still adjusting to his new environment, but the team is still on pace to win 65 contests.

Toronto Raptors
2015-16 record:
10-6
Status: Performing as expected

The question surrounding the Raptors isn’t whether the team can reach the playoffs. They’ve overcome that hurdle. The question surrounding the Raptors is whether they have the “it” factor to advance past the first round of the festivities.

Utah Jazz
2015-16 record:
7-7
Status: Performing as expected

The Jazz slow the game down and play hard-nosed defense, which is the foundation for success. The team is young and getting better. Not sure if we’re ready to make a playoff prediction, but the future is getting brighter in Utah.

Washington Wizards
2015-16 record:
6-6
Status: Underachieving

This is a Wizards team that should make a run at 50 wins this season – on paper. Of course there’s still time, but the unit has been wildly inconsistent to start the season and could easily find itself fighting for its playoff life come April.

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Reviewing the Nurkic Trade: Denver’s Perspective

The Denver Nuggets have been on a miraculous run this postseason, but that doesn’t mean that they’re infallible. Drew Maresca reviews the 2017 trade that sent Jusuf Nurkic from Denver to Portland.

Drew Maresca

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The Denver Nuggets are fresh off of a 114-106 win over the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference Finals, pulling within three wins of the franchise’s first trip to the NBA Finals. But what if I told you that the Nuggets’ roster could be even more talented by acting more deliberately in a trade from three years ago?

While Denver won on Tuesday night, they lost a nail bitter on Sunday – for which most of the blame has been pointed at a defensive breakdown by Nuggets’ center Mason Plumlee, who was procured in the aforementioned 2017 trade. What did it cost Denver, you ask? Just Jusuf Nurkic and a first-round pick.

Nurkic was a 2014-15 All-Rookie second team member. He played 139 games over 2.5 seasons in Denver, averaging 7.5 points and 5.9 rebounds in approximately 18 minutes per game. He showed serious promise, but Denver had numerous reasons to pursue a trade: he’d suffered a few relatively serious injuries early in his career (and he’s continued to be injury-prone in Portland), butted heads with head coach Michael Malone and – most importantly – the Nuggets stumbled on to Nikola Jokic.

The Nuggets eventually attempted a twin-tower strategy with both in the starting line-up, but that experiment was short-lived — with Jokic ultimately asking to move to the team’s second unit.

The Nuggets traded Nurkic to the Portland Trail Blazers in February 2017 (along with a first-round pick) in exchange for Plumlee, a second-round pick and cash considerations. Ironically, the first-round pick included in the deal became Justin Jackson, who was used to procure another center, Zach Collins – but more on that in a bit.

As of February 2017, Plumlee was considered the better player of the two. He was averaging a career-high 11 points, 8.1 rebounds and 4.0 assists through 54 games – but it was clear that at 27, he’d already maximized his talent.

Conversely, Nurkic was only 23 at the time of the trade with significant, untapped upside. In his first few seasons with Portland, Nurkic averaged 15 points and 9.8 rebounds per game, while establishing himself as a rising star. As noted above, injuries have continued to be a problem. Nurkic suffered a compound fracture in his tibia and fibula in March 2019, forcing him to miss a majority of this current campaign. The COVID-19-related play stoppage in March gave Nurkic extra time to get his body right, and he returned to action in July inside the bubble.

And he did so with a vengeance. Nurkic demonstrated superior strength and footwork, and he flashed the dominance that Portland hoped he would develop, posting eight double-doubles in 18 contests. He averaged 17.6 points and 10.3 rebounds per game and while his play dipped a bit in the playoffs – partially due to a matchup with first-team All-NBA star Anthony Davis – he still managed 14.2 points and 10.4 rebounds in the five-game series. So it’s fair to say that Nurkic is still on his way toward stardom.

But the Nuggets are in the conference finals – so all’s well that ends well, right? Not so fast. To his credit, Plumlee is exactly who Denver expected him to be. He’s averaged 7.5 points and 5.5 rebounds per game in three seasons with Denver since 2017 – but to be fair, Plumlee is asked to do less in Denver than he had in Portland. Still, it’s fairly obvious that they’re just not that comparable.

Plumlee is a good passer and an above-average defender that’ll compete hard and isn’t afraid to get dirty – but he has limitations. He doesn’t stretch the floor and he is a sub-par free throw shooter (53.5 percent in 2019-20). More importantly, he’s simply not a major offensive threat and his repertoire of moves is limited.

High-level takeaway: Defenses tend to game plan for opponents they view as major threats – Nurkic falls into this category. Other guys pack the stat sheet through putback attempts, open looks and single coverage alongside the guys for whom opposing defenses game plan – that’s a more appropriate description of Plumlee.

On to the wrench thrown in by Zach Collins’ involvement. Statistically, Collins is about as effective as Plumlee – he averaged 7 points and 6.3 rebounds through only 11 games in 2019-20 due to various injuries – and he possesses more upside. The 22-year-old is not as reliable as Plumlee but given his age and skill set, he’s a far better option as a support player playing off the bench. He stretches the floor (36.8 percent on three-point attempts in 2019-20), is an above-average free throw shooter (75 percent this season) and is a good defender. Looking past Nurkic for a moment, would the Nuggets prefer a 22-year-old center that stretches the floor and defends or a 30-year-old energy guy?

Regardless of your answer to that question, it’s hard to argue that Nurkic should have returned more than Plumlee, definitely so when you factor in the first-round pick Denver included. There is obviously more at play: Denver was probably considering trading Nurkic for some time before they acted – did they feel that they could increase his trade value prior to the trade deadline in 2016-17? Maybe. Further, Nurkic and his agent could have influenced the Nuggets’ decision at the 2017 deadline, threatening to stonewall Denver in negotiations.

Had Nurkic been more patient or the Nuggets acted sooner before it became abundantly clear that he was on the move, Denver’s roster could be even more stacked than it is now. Ultimately, the Nuggets have a plethora of talent and will be fine – while it appears that Nurkic found a long-term home in Portland, where he owns the paint offensively. Denver can’t be thrilled about assisting a division rival, but they’re still in an enviable position today and should be for years to come.

But despite that, this deal should go down as a cautionary tale – it’s not only the bottom feeders of the league who make missteps. Even the savviest of front offices overthink deals. Sometimes that works in their favor, and other times it does not.

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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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