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Ranking the Southwest Division Teams

Ben Dowsett ranks the teams in the Southwest Division and analyzes their offseason moves.

Ben Dowsett

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The Western Conference could have much more relative parity than expected next season, and the Southwest Division is a perfect microcosm.

Each team in the division has a real case for offseason improvement, save perhaps the 67-win juggernaut that still retains two All-Stars on the court and Gregg Popovich behind the bench. Even the most pessimistic observer would have a hard time arguing more than a minor drop-off at the very worst for teams like New Orleans and Dallas, and it’s even tougher to look at Houston or especially Memphis and see anything but more talent and better roster fits. The division saw four teams in the playoffs last season; it’s no stretch to imagine a repeat.

In reality, health and a few bounces here or there could determine the eventual order in the Southwest. Let’s attempt to parse significant roster turnover and see which teams are best positioned to succeed.

5. New Orleans Pelicans

It’s moderately difficult to even figure out whether the Pelicans improved over the summer.

Solomon Hill, E’Twaun Moore, Langston Galloway and draftee Buddy Hield all add talent, and at least two of the first three should provide more reliable two-way play than major departures Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon.

At the same time, though, it feels a bit like trading quarters for a slightly shinier collection of nickels and dimes. Two-way play only gets you so far when the guys in question have pretty limited skill sets. Hill was a hot item this summer, but his track record as much more than a solid bench piece who does most things well but few things at an elite level doesn’t really exist. Moore has some craftiness to his game and has done well defensively in limited time, but his 45 percent explosion from three last year (on just 104 attempts) is hard to trust after four years in the mid-30s prior to it.

Galloway plateaued after a nice rookie year in New York; he’s too small to check non-point guards or play much of a versatile role, and at 25 just a month into next season it’s unlikely he’ll develop much more skill-wise. Hield has a long way to go to prove he’s anything but a spot-up shooter with a lot to learn defensively.

Even if Hill and Moore offer more versatility and defensive prowess, replacing Anderson and Gordon – half the team’s above-average offensive talent – seems like a very tall ask.

No, this team’s improvement will come through renewed health for principals already on the roster. It was never clear if Anthony Davis was 100 percent in the 61 games he did play last year; an end-of-year shutdown and surgery suggest he wasn’t. Jrue Holiday was quietly excellent until he, too, was shut down late in the year, and his productivity when healthy was muted by a curious decision from Alvin Gentry to bring him off the bench for a big chunk of the year even after his minutes restriction was lifted. Tyreke Evans shouldn’t have much trouble topping the 25 games in which he suited up last year.

Whether better injury luck would be enough to get them back on track is the big question, and Davis is likely the crux point here. If last year’s leap to among the game’s two or three best players never came as a result of poor health and a revolving door of players around him, his impact alone alongside a steadier supporting cast could put them back in the playoff picture in a hurry. If his defensive regression and a few cracks around the edges persist, or if injuries rear their heads again, it could be a very different story.

There are a lot of ifs here. This could very easily be a playoff team, but it feels like the group in the Southwest with the most questions to answer before that happens.

4. Dallas Mavericks

Forecasting that true bottom-out from the Mavs has made countless talking heads look dumb over the years, and this isn’t that. At the same time, though, it’s never been so easy to take a glass-half-empty view in Dallas.

Their projected starting five has a ton of name value – and nearly just as many question marks. Deron Williams has declined over the years, settling in as roughly a league average point guard who seems to lose one or two small parts of his game with each passing season and is a lock to miss 10 or 15 games a year. Harrison Barnes and Andrew Bogut are our first chance to see key Warriors cogs outside the Bay; Barnes has often struggled in his expected secondary ball-handler role, and while Bogut has been a revelation for Australia in Rio these last couple weeks, the rigors of the NBA schedule have taken their toll on his ability to bring that level every night. Wesley Matthews is the surest thing on this roster outside of Dirk Nowitzki, and even the big German has shown cracks around the edges the last couple years.

Even if one is willing to take a semi-risky bet on that group outplaying most other sets of starters, depth is a major concern. A big leap from Justin Anderson seems like the only thing standing in the way of Dwight Powell, J.J. Barea and Devin Harris functioning as Dallas’ primary bench pieces. Any Bogut absence leaves them completely devoid of rim protection unless they’re comfortable trusting Salah Mejri or draftee A.J. Hammons, and it would force a ton of pressure onto Anderson and Harris if Barnes or Matthews missed any time.

Rick Carlisle could make a ham sandwich into a half-decent rotation player, though, and Dirk has forced us to assume he’ll stay Dirk until he proves otherwise. This group gets a pass as expected contenders in the back half of the West playoffs, even if a few worrying warning lights are present.

3. Houston Rockets

Has any presumed contender ever overloaded this transparently on one side of the ball? A group that narrowly missed out on a bottom-10 defense last season added Mike D’Antoni behind the bench, doubled down by jettisoning Dwight Howard (not his former self, but still their best defensive player), then pushed all their chips plus their wallet and keys onto the felt by acquiring Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon as presumed rotation pieces.

Patrick Beverley and Trevor Ariza are still around to absorb a lot of the damage, but the real pressure is on Clint Capela. Entering his third season and first as a primary starter at center, Capela offers the only rim protection on this roster (sorry, Nene) and will be called upon to erase plenty on the interior. He played just 47 percent of his minutes last season against starter-heavy lineups, per Nylon Calculus, and whether his production can sustain with a much larger share could be the largest individual factor in how well this team defends. Last year proved pretty emphatically that Ariza and Beverley alone aren’t enough, and the cast around them got even worse defensively in the offseason.

There’s no doubting the Rockets will be an offensive powerhouse with D’Antoni at the helm, but his ability to balance lineups and emphasize both sides of the ball could determine their overall ceiling. There are lots of cooks in this kitchen now: D’Antoni will have to weed through Gordon, Ariza, Corey Brewer, K.J. McDaniels, Michael Beasley and even possibly Sam Dekker on the wing behind (or alongside) James Harden, plus figure out whether Nene and Capela can play together.

Anderson needs at least two plus defenders on the court to keep the Rockets from drowning – and remember, they only have three on the roster. D’Antoni, an offensive savant never known for attention to detail or high levels of in-game prowess, will have to make the right choices.

More than anything, though, he’ll have to reach Harden. The Rockets’ star returned to his embarrassing defensive ways last year after a brief spat of respectable effort, and on the surface, nothing has happened in Houston this summer to suggest he’ll bounce back. Could a renewed culture and Howard’s absence be enough to get his mind in the right place? He’ll thrive in D’Antoni’s offensive system, of course, but so will several key guys on this team – the bigger questions are all on the other end, both for the team and their superstar.

2. Memphis Grizzlies

Everyone rightfully remembers the awful injury luck that hit the Grizzlies in the back half of the season last year, but fewer recall that they were historically lucky to even be in position for such a big letdown in the first place. Memphis nearly blew a massive cushion for a playoff spot out West, one they only had by virtue of ridiculous success in close games that drowned out negative indicators typically reserved for lottery teams. By year’s end, the Grizz were one of just three teams in league history to finish with an SRS rating (a measure of point differential with a strength of schedule factor included) so low and still win at least half their games.

It’s easy to blame the injuries, but these realities were present before Mike Conley or even Marc Gasol went down.

Of course, the Grizzlies didn’t sit still over the summer. Chandler Parsons was the biggest talent-need match in free agency outside Golden State, the wing scorer this franchise seems to have lacked for a half decade consecutively. He brings knockdown shooting and enough playmaking from the perimeter to lessen the burden on Conley and Gasol, with the size to maintain Grit and Grind’s defensive philosophy.

Incoming coach David Fizdale replaces Dave Joerger after a couple years of offseason weirdness, and the pressure is on from the jump. One could pretty easily argue Joerger was at the heart of the team’s defensive identity, as well as their consistent success in high-leverage minutes down the stretch of close games. Does Fizdale, a highly-touted assistant from Erik Spoelstra’s staff in Miami, have the same impact?

This group sets their own baseline at this point, though. The larger questions surround depth and, quite honestly, the true talent level of the team. Conley is a borderline All-Star still in his prime years, but Gasol and fellow franchise anchor Zach Randolph have both shown serious signs of decline. Brandan Wright and Tony Allen are solid depth pieces, but is anyone confident in saying the same about Vince Carter, Troy Daniels and James Ennis at this point?

If they can keep the primaries healthy, this is a playoff team with a reasonable ceiling pending Parsons’ fit and Fizdale’s job on the sideline. The margin for error might be smaller than some think, though.

1. San Antonio Spurs

There are real reasons to expect a regression from the Spurs, even beyond the fact that just two teams who won 67 games did so again the following season. But even still, there just isn’t quite enough here to knock them from their perch atop the Southwest.

They still have the most talented core in the division, and they still have Pop. They still have excellent depth, even if there are justifiable questions about fit for offseason acquisitions Pau Gasol and David Lee. They still have Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge, the two best players in the division outside Davis in New Orleans.

Whether they still have a culture that laps the league is ostensibly up for debate with cornerstone Tim Duncan gone, but it’d be a weaker culture than we assumed if that single loss dismantled it entirely. Leonard has been ready for this mantle for at least a couple years, and Aldridge is well overqualified as a number-two option talent-wise. Pop is… well, Pop. Frankly, it’s a safe bet Duncan’s absence will cost them more on the court than in any intangible area.

None of this is a hedge on last week’s prediction that we’ll see more of a decline than expected from San Antonio. Really, it’s more of a nod to the question marks that dot the other four teams in the division. The Spurs have so much cushion that even a 10- or 12-game fall might not be enough to keep them out of first in the Southwest, even if it would put them closer to the West’s middle than the top.

 

Ben Dowsett is a Deputy Editor and in-depth basketball analyst based in Salt Lake City. He covers the Jazz on a credentialed basis for Basketball Insiders, and has previously appeared in the Sports Illustrated and TrueHoop Networks. He can be found on Twitter at @Ben_Dowsett.

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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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