Draft Deeper's Top 2023 NBA Draft Risers: Pre-NCAA Tournament Edition | The Morning Dunk
Our own Nathan Grubel shares the prospects that are rising the most on his personal 2023 NBA Draft Big Board, with in-person takeaways on a few prospects he saw this past week.
It’s almost tournament time, hoops fans!
With power conference tournaments right around the corner, now is as good a time as ever to evaluate rankings and try to get evaluations set before the Big Dance in a little over a week.
So that’s exactly what I’ve done here. Back by popular demand, my top risers on my personal Draft Deeper 2023 Big Board! Again, these are MY personal rankings, NOT the No Ceilings Composite Big Board update.
Who has gained steam over the last month? And how has some of my research discussed last week impacted the players I’m valuing?
Let’s not waste any more time and find out, starting with some prospects I got to see live and in person over the past few days!
*All statistics used courtesy of Sports-Reference and Synergy Sports and are as of 3/5/23*
Cam Whitmore, Villanova
Previous Ranking: 8
New Ranking: 5
We use the phrase “don’t overthink it” often in the draft community, and Cam Whitmore is another example of why I also need to heed that saying.
In preseason rankings, I had Whitmore as a contender to challenge for third overall on my personal board, but the struggles when he came back in terms of shooting, defense, and overall awareness led to me cooling on his stock a bit—not to mention the constant stumbling and lack of body control.
Fast forward to where we are today, and virtually all of those things have improved. Whitmore is shooting 34.7% on 4.1 attempts from deep per game, averaging 1.4 SPG on the season, and has been a consistent presence defending multiple positions as well as getting it off the glass.
There are few players in the country who can match his ability to get to the rack and finish strong. At 6’7” and weighing in at 232 pounds, Whitmore is a beast, but he also has the speed and footwork to get to where he wants to on the court. Through different counters and spin moves, Whitmore not only powers through defenders, but can throw them off balance. I still don’t love his handle, as it can get a little loose at times in traffic, but there’s no question he’ll be able to get to areas on the floor in the NBA because of his physical gifts.
And that’s important when we talk about star prospects. Yes, the ability to make spot-up shots as well as show promise shooting off the bounce are both important (57th percentile on all jumpers, and 84th on catch-and-shoot looks), but so is being a threat in the paint. Whitmore can drive, post, face, and then shoot over the top as well. He’s not a three-level scorer yet, but he’s shown enough improvement to suggest he can get buckets from two levels, and I won’t rule out the midrange as a strong suit for Whitmore given how he can create separation.
Everyone wants to hammer home the lack of passing feel when discussing Whitmore and how that will hold him back at the next level, at least in the short term. I understand the concerns, but I do think Whitmore hasn’t been given too many opportunities to show a ton more than what he has outside of when he grabs and goes on the break.
Watching Villanova against UConn at Wells Fargo Center Saturday night, it was clear how horrendous the offensive scheme has been all year long. Without guards who can effectively penetrate the defense without dribbling the air out of the ball, it limits the overall offensive flow and takes precious time off the clock. So when Whitmore gets the ball (“if” he gets the ball), he’s forced to make a very quick decision usually to score off a drive or jumper.
Without putting Whitmore in situations with more time on the clock, or getting him the ball in a secondary action quicker in the clock, it’s difficult to definitively say Whitmore “cannot” do one thing in particular.
And even if he still has a ways to go from a feel perspective offensively, so long as he’s dedicated to working on his game through film study and counseling every single day, that will improve to a point where he’ll be able to make those quick reads and deliver simple passes where they need to go. NBA teams won’t need Whitmore to run a high dosage of pick-and-rolls in the league—just to keep the ball moving when the solo score isn’t there.
Defensively, Whitmore was all over the floor against the Huskies helping to guard bigger forwards and keep up off the ball with guys like Jordan Hawkins. He certainly didn’t make anyone’s life easier, and got his hands on a few plays in passing lanes and chased down some blocks of his own. Whitmore’s leaping ability and speed to break a play up defensively are impressive, so even when he misses a rotation he generally makes up for it a possession or two later.
The amount of ground covered is big for wings and forwards in the NBA nowadays. Guarding multiple positions allows a coach to deploy different defensive schemes depending on matchups and personnel. Having a combo forward with Whitmore’s size and speed is a coach’s dream, especially given the offensive upside.
Put all of those things together, and there’s little more for me to argue as far as value near the top of the draft. If Whitmore went as high as #3 for a team, I would understand it. I’ll keep him at #5 for now, but won’t rule out him jumping either Jarace Walker or Brandon Miller for the next spots on my board.
Taylor Hendricks, UCF
Previous Ranking: 13
New Ranking: 10
One point that I didn’t make clear above but I will here: I made these big board adjustments before I got to see any of these prospects live.
So when I went to Temple on Thursday night to watch Taylor Hendricks and UCF take on the Owls, I had embraced putting him in the Top 10 in my rankings.
And let me tell you, he justified that and more with his performance.
Hendricks finished on the night with 16 points, seven rebounds, two steals, and a block to stuff the stat sheet. Taking only eight shots (which admittedly should be higher), Hendricks was a presence all over the floor in ways that go beyond just getting buckets.
As I discussed above with Whitmore, ground coverage is essential for a player like Hendricks. Ideally, he’ll be a power forward next to a true center unless an opposing team goes small leaving Hendricks to play as the lone big on the floor.
He has a great upper body and broad shoulders, but his base is fairly narrow, meaning I’m not sure he’ll fill out physically in a way where you’d want him playing as a center full-time.
Therefore, he’s serving as a weakside rotator and rim protector but also covering on swings and kick outs to the corners and on the wings. Hendricks is in a role where ideally he’s closing out or having to come to a stop in space and contain a driver. He can do both of those things really well, especially closing out.
On a few plays in particular where I thought there was no way he’d get the contest after having one foot in the paint on a skip pass, Hendricks darted to the corner and still managed to make the shot difficult for the Temple player because of his length and leaping ability.
There is no position on the floor where I’m afraid for the outcome in relation to Hendricks guarding them—be it in ball screens, in space, isolation, or around the basket. His weakest point, which again is unlikely to come into play too much in the NBA, is guarding real size in the post. Outside of that, I trust his feet, hips, and recovery ability to hold down the fort defensively. Hendricks rates in the 84th percentile on that end for a reason.
And offensively, he’s even more efficient rating in the 92nd percentile. Catch-and-shoot, face-and-shoot, easy rim finishes in transition: Hendricks’s off-ball fit within an offense is like a glove. Low-usage, high-efficiency players with size are the perfect complements to stars in the NBA, meaning that Hendricks has an anchored floor in the league.
The main reason why he hasn’t rated higher on my board up to this point, or even past where I have him at 10, is that it will require quite a bit of work for him to break his current ceiling and emerge as a second option on a good-to-great team. Hendricks has the poorest handle of any prospect I’m evaluating inside the lottery or close enough to that range, and he hasn’t shown the self-creation ability to assert himself as someone who can consistently go get his own offense.
Without that ability to break down defenders on a possession-by-possession basis, his role is capped as a play finisher albeit one of the best in this class. Not only that, but it also limits how a team may want to utilize him within an offense also cutting down on plays we may see him get more involved as a playmaker.
If he can improve his dribbling and prove he’s a threat to turn, face, and drive or pull up, then he becomes a far more interesting play closer to a ranking of #5 than #10. For now, I will remain cautiously optimistic that he can develop into a player of that ilk and bet on the more conservative projection of his career.
Jalen Hood-Schifino, Indiana
Previous Ranking: 18
New Ranking: 14
I know some of these names here at the beginning aren’t moving double-digit spots up my board, but any movement inside the lottery is huge to me. There are only so many spots near the top, so either getting into that range or trending up should be a major signal to anyone involved in scouting.
So Jalen Hood-Schifino making his first return here on my board since the preseason is the perfect welcome home moment.
Even though he didn’t rate out in my statistical query last week as an overachiever, he was pretty close to, really only lacking defensively to throw him off. I believe in his ability on that end far more than he’s shown on tape this season, as in high school he was absolutely tenacious on the ball.
The back injury limited his early season play, and it took a while for him to truly find his groove. Now that he’s back in the swing from a movement perspective, Hood-Schifino has shown more on the ball while also getting better by the game defending away from it as well.
And if he’s holding his own defensively, which he should, given his 6’6” size, length, and high processing speed, that’s the perfect icing on the evaluation cake because his offense has been HUMMING of late.
Skeptics will point to his higher turnover rate for a lead guard or his outings where the shooting hasn’t been a strong suit. But when this man is cooking, I haven’t seen a more dominant pull-up scorer in the country all year long (yes that includes Mr. Brandon Miller who has been lethal for Alabama).
When JHS has it going from the perimeter, he looks unguardable. His incredibly high release point, along with his balance, let him get his shot off effectively over any defender who is trying to bother him on the outside. His hot streaks are unmatched, and dominant pull-up shooters are the types of scorers who get the ball late in the clock in the NBA to make something happen.
Outside of the pull-up game, Hood-Schifino is heady as a pick-and-roll operator, able to snake screens, take space, play with pace, and use a variety of fakes, shakes, and counters to slither all the way to the basket or get to that pull-up shot I just outlined.
And when defenders find a way to take away his shot coming off or rejecting the screen, he has the passing vision to make all of the reads he needs to. Roll-man pocket passes, skips, corner kicks. JHS reads each level of the defense well and is far from a one-read guard when playing in ball-screen offense.
The fact that he doesn’t look rushed out there offensively is a major boon to projecting him as a lead guard. His handle will have to improve for him to hold it down as a primary ball handler in the NBA, as he’s coughed it up quite a bit on some careless turnovers in traffic. But when he has space, or is sizing up his man, it’s clear he has some skill as a ball handler and just needs to tighten things up a tad to cut down on the live-ball giveaways.
On-ball creators who can score from all three levels, defend at the point of attack, and can command the offense off ball screens are always in demand at the next level. Throw in how he has great size to play either backcourt spot, and there’s a real argument to rank him higher than where I have him now.
He does need to become more efficient on two-point looks, and find ways to get to the line more often, but there isn’t anything bad I can say about his game in which I don’t see a world where it improves, potentially significantly.
That’s how much I believe in what JHS can bring to the table in the NBA, giving him a lottery grade on my board now and likely leading all the way up to June.
Kobe Bufkin, Michigan
Previous Ranking: N/A
New Ranking: 24
Now let’s get into some of the guys who have made meteoric rises up my board, for different reasons—mainly, the fact that I considered them 2024 prospects for the majority of the cycle so far, but a number of players have shown too much at this point to not be considered in the first round or close enough to it in the 2023 draft.
Kobe Bufkin happens to be one of those names, as the 6’4” guard has been on an offensive tear of late.
Defensively, Bufkin has been sound in the backcourt all year as someone who can man either guard spot, defend at the point of attack, and disrupt off the ball on traps and key rotations.
But what he’s shown as a scorer, not just a shooter, offensively has captivated scouts and analysts across the landscape.
With Jett Howard in and out of the lineup due to injury, it’s given Bufkin a chance to shine as “the man” and he’s taken those opportunities and ran with them. Now averaging 13.7 PPG on a slash line of 48.1/36.2/82.9, Bufkin is efficient across the board.
Inside the arc, Bufkin has a number of moves he can go to in order to create separation and get to his spots. He loves the start/stop footwork around the rim to create 5-10 foot fades, very similar to that of Jalen Brunson when he was in college. He’s not looking to get his man into the post per se, but he’s very quick in coming right off a turn, faking one direction, and spinning back to his left to hit a quick jumper. Overall around the basket, Bufkin rates out in the 90th percentile. Guards who can finish at the rim at an elite level have a much higher chance to succeed than those who are limited to shots 17 feet and out.
And from beyond the arc, Bufkin’s pull-up three-point shooting has been a revelation for the Wolverines. He’s been much better over the last month off dribble jumpers, now rating out in the 44th percentile on those looks. When he’s able to connect on perimeter shots if given the space and/or opportunity, there’s little stopping him from racking up higher point totals, like he has lately.
Since the start of February, Bufkin has scored in double figures in all games, with totals of 28 and 23 in Michigan’s last two contests against Wisconsin and Illinois respectively. That type of offensive firepower, along with great decision-making and defensive utility in the backcourt have allowed Bufkin to emerge as a high-floor guard prospect in the 2023 class.
At this point, it’s hard to imagine too many guys jumping him to knock him out of the first round. His steadiness, poise, and ability to lead a team have all stood out this year, and can translate to the next level. Whether he’s a starting-caliber guard or one of the first options off the bench, Bufkin has done enough to show he’s a rotational asset for an NBA organization.
That, my friends, equals a first round pick.
Jordan Hawkins, UConn
Previous Ranking: 35
New Ranking: 25
Even though I’ve featured Jordan Hawkins in a previous edition of this column, he continues to make strides up my board so why not feature him again? Plus, I got to see him live this past weekend for the first time.
What stood out to me the most was not the effortless shooting stroke off the catch, or his ability to operate off DHOs and pick-and-roll sets, but how he defended across the board.
Hawkins has a reputation around No Ceilings (looking at you, Nick Agar-Johnson) as a great off-ball defender, given how he recognizes situations to trap, rotate, and force turnovers with his quick hands and decisiveness in making decisions. But even on the ball, Hawkins held his own against virtually anyone he ended up guarding on Villanova.
That in itself is impressive given that Hawkins has the height on his side, but not the bulk. He has some work to do to better fill out his body in the NBA, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t incredibly competitive on the court.
Hawkins isn’t afraid of anyone. He will go up for offensive rebounds, drive to the rim, and guard matchups bigger than him. That aggressiveness, along with his ridiculous shooting ability (still 38% on 7.5 attempts from three per game) give him a realistic floor as a starting guard in the league.
I’m not the biggest fan of his playmaking and view him more as an off-ball weapon than someone who I would see getting more volume as a creator in the halfcourt, but that doesn’t take away from his ability to create and end possessions. Getting deflections and turnovers to get out on the break, and then sprinting to the opposite wing/corner for the easy money three, Hawkins can create havoc on both ends. And when he’s on a heater from range, forget about it. His heat checks are a thing of beauty to watch.
If I had to come up with a comparison for Hawkins at the NBA level, I’d consider him a slightly bigger Isaiah Joe. Up until this season, Joe was making a living for the Philadelphia 76ers’ G-League squad, but since being cut and finding a new home with the Oklahoma City Thunder he’s torn up opposing defenses from outside, shooting 44.6% on 5.1 attempts per night.
It’s not out of the question that Hawkins shoots at that level after a few seasons in the league. I had Joe in a similar range on my 2020 draft board, so Hawkins is right at home in that regard. He’s shown me enough to buy into his ability to hold onto a legitimate rotation spot and offer similar if not greater value to that of Joe.
That’s a player who has to go in the Top 25 of a draft given the emphasis on shooting in today’s NBA.
Adem Bona, UCLA
Previous Ranking: 55
New Ranking: 27
I can’t keep Adem Bona near the back end of my board any longer.
Truthfully, I should’ve moved him up into the 30s on my last update, but there was still enough room for me to believe he would wind up staying at UCLA for another season and declare in 2024.
Now, however, I would be SHOCKED if he went back to school.
By counting stats, Bona’s averages in his 23 MPG won’t blow you away. Looking at the advanced stats, however, breathes life into his draft stock and offers a different lens to evaluate through, along with what he’s done by the tape.
Per 100 possessions, Bona has a 121.3 offensive rating and an 88.7 defensive rating. He hasn’t shown the willingness to generate offense outside of 3 feet from the basket, but he doesn’t need to. Effective on the offensive glass, a high-level dunker, and a lob threat, Bona is just fine clearly by rating at doing what he does to get buckets. And (in MY opinion), he’s one half of the best defensive duo in the country along with Jaylen Clark.
An 11.6% Offensive Rebounding Rate, a 9% (!!!) Block Rate, and a 6.2 BPM for a freshman big all point to quite the under-the-radar season that’s taken place in the draft community. Bona’s been good really since mid-December, and the amount of attention I’ve seen him get on social media is still really small.
Our own Tyler Metcalf at No Ceilings has been talking about him as the best pure big man in the draft outside of Victor Wembanyama for months, and I see just what he means.
There’s little he can’t do defensively on the floor, between his mobility, coordination, and ridiculously high motor. His end-to-end speed is awesome for a center, and he covers a ton of ground in the halfcourt while being able to scramble and cover multiple positions. That, along with how he cleans the glass, alone gives him a high floor in the NBA.
Athletic rim runners have to be major shot blockers, high-level play finishers, and threats to make quick reads off short rolls. I trust Bona to either do those things from day one or grow into that type of role, plus his motor is ALWAYS running hot. No one plays harder in the country than Bona.
All of these skills were present on the FIBA tape preseason to where I had him on a short list of intriguing prospects heading into the college year. I just didn’t expect him to get this much more aware on both ends so quickly, as there were multiple examples from said FIBA film where he looked raw.
But now, I’m in that same camp in that he’s the best pure big man outside of Wemby in this draft. I would happily take Bona with a late first-round pick and sleep like a baby at night doing so.
Sidy Cissoko, G-League Ignite
Previous Ranking: 46
New Ranking: 28
Sidy Cissoko is another prospect who has made a major leap up my board into the first round thanks to his play over the last month.
Cissoko’s game off the dribble, particularly his shooting effectiveness on tough pull-ups, as well as his improved spot-up shooting have scouts wondering just how high his stock could climb as we get closer to June.
My biggest holdup with Cissoko was in fact the shooting. Without the gravity to pull defenses out to him, I didn’t trust his handle to navigate traffic otherwise, not to mention if he can’t penetrate the defense it takes away from arguably his best offensive skill which is his live-dribble passing.
This man can drop dimes on the move with the best wing playmakers around. I’ve seen him make some crazy reads, so when he’s pulling defenders out and getting a step on them, it makes him that much more of a threat because the second level can’t immediately try and trap or wall him off. If the help down low doesn’t stay home, then Cissoko is happy to hit the dump-off pass with some flair for the easy score.
Leave him with a lane to the basket though, and he’ll POSTERIZE you (or attempt to) into next year. Cissoko may not be the quickest player on the floor, but he can get off the ground with two feet.
And when the shot is falling, his projection becomes much clearer at the NBA level. Swing him the ball, and let him put the defense in a position to make a risky decision. Those are the types of wings with size the league wants.
I like Cissoko defensively too, but still think there’s work that can be done as far as his off-ball game is concerned. He will still miss some rotations and fail to recognize when he has to go and close out, but I’ve also seen him wrestle with opponents on the ball and make it very difficult for guards and similar-sized wings to score over him.
When projecting forward, Cissoko has one of the most interesting ceilings in this class outside of the lottery. His comfort level off the bounce has taken quite the leap forward, along with his shooting on meaningful volume (35.4%). If he can hone in defensively, it’s really hard to turn him down later in the first round given his 6’8” size and creativity.
Previous Ranking: N/A
New Ranking: 33
Bilal Coulibaly’s game is all on the tape; there aren’t too many statistical indicators at higher competition for one to point to and be like “yep, he HAS to be taken in the 2023 draft!”
But sometimes, seeing past the numbers and evaluating what a prospect has done on the court is necessary to project forward properly. That’s the bet I’m making with the 6’6” French wing playing for Metropolitans 92.
Within the LNB Espoirs league, Coulibaly has found much more comfort playing against more guys his age, as he’s up to 21.9 PPG playing 32 minutes a night. Showing flashes of pull-up shot-making, violent rim finishing, and meaningful defensive versatility, the athletic dynamo looks the part of everything an NBA team would want to invest in, especially since he’s still 18 years old.
Once thought of as a 2024 prospect more so than someone worth taking a flyer on this year, Coulibaly has some film that really pops from a long-term perspective. Could he still use another year of seasoning? Absolutely, as he will need some time adjusting up physically, and getting better at playing within the rhythm and flow of the game (although he’s shown he can acclimate well at junior levels).
But why not target Coulibaly as a prime draft-and-stash prospect? Give him the developmental time he needs overseas, retain his rights, and bring him over when he’s more ready to reap the rewards.
If Coulibaly were to come over right away, he would spend his time in the G-League. I love his potential moving forward as a secondary or tertiary shot creator, but he’s not ready to hit those shots against NBA-level defenders quite yet. And if the spot-up shot isn’t falling consistently, nor is he able to guard up in size given the strength disparities at the next level, then it becomes difficult to argue him playing meaningful minutes in the NBA.
That being said, if he does pop as a shot maker, shows better instincts passing off a live dribble, and brings the above-the-rim finishing and weakside shot blocking he’s shown at lower levels along with improvement physically, then we’re talking about one hell of a prospect to find in the second round or late first.
The premise of drafting and stashing has led me to rocket him up my big board and keep him in conversation this year as with other draft analysts like Bleacher Report’s Jonathan Wasserman, who was the first mainstream media evaluator to inject his name into this year’s discussion.
I’m all in on Coulibaly as a long-term play, and I strongly think teams with multiple first-round picks should give him a long look later in the first round.
Brandin Podziemski, Santa Clara
Previous Ranking: N/A
New Ranking: 37
No prospect has been buzzing more on the web of late than Brandin Podziemski.
And for good reason. The 6’5” Santa Clara guard is averaging close to 20 PPG, 8.8 RPG (!!), and 3.4 APG on a slash line of 48.6/44.5/76.9. To be frank, those are crazy numbers for anyone to put up.
It’s easy to look past the numbers and want to nitpick. He’s not the most creative passer, doesn’t have that next-level explosive first step to consistently get into the teeth of the defense, and the size from a height perspective is a little questionable on tape (I haven’t seen Podz in person).
But all of those things aside, his feel as a scorer, shooting and floater touch, and competitiveness on the glass are all great positives in his favor as far as translatable NBA skills.
Podziemski plays with pace, knows how to change gears, and converts when he gets to his spots. Podziemski has a real knack for scoring, not to mention his spot-up shooting, and he can drop 20 or more on any college floor. Also, he’s doing so effectively on relatively high usage while also sporting a 10.6 BPM.
Things may not have worked out for him at Illinois, but sometimes guys just need a change of scenery and a new opportunity to blossom into who they’re destined to be. Someone who rates out no lower than the 62nd percentile in almost every offensive category (registering in 10 different play types), and rates in the 94th percentile on all jumpers deserves a legitimate NBA shot.
To me, apart from the explosiveness, his biggest weakness is at the rim where he finishes in the 49th percentile. While that’s not the number you’d want to see from a potentially undersized guard depending on how the official measurements shake out, he has a killer floater game. And my argument has always been to find a way to be a threat with two feet in the paint. Runner game qualifies, so he has an answer to one of his main deficiencies.
Craft, confidence, and competitiveness: all traits that define Podziemski on the court. There’s no doubt in my mind he has the mentality to make the most of an opportunity given to him, even if he’ll have to climb an uphill battle in certain regards. But don’t take my word for it! Our own Stephen Gillaspie did his own interview with Podz for No Ceilings!
Tucker DeVries, Drake
Previous Ranking: N/A
New Ranking: 44
Alright, Maxwell, I’m all aboard the Tuck Train!
Tucker DeVries has been sensational shooting the basketball all year long. Some would argue he’s done much more than that for his team (which I would agree), but even looking through just one lens he’s earned more than just a shot in the NBA.
A 6’7” guard, DeVries has been everything and more for a Drake team that has torn up mid-major competition all year long on its way to a likely NCAA Tournament bid. And if Tuck gets his shot to dance big, look out.
He’s averaging 18.9 PPG on efficient splits across the board including from distance where, just like Jordan Hawkins, he’s attempting nearly seven threes per contest, it’s the bravado that DeVries plays with. The distance at which he nails his threes is well beyond the NBA line. He has range for days, which creates all sorts of different problems for defenses.
Coming over a ball screen to defend a shooter is one thing. Coming over a screen to find DeVries still stepping back from well behind the line to nail a dagger shot is entirely different.
And when he gets downhill, there’s more wiggle to his game than I thought. He can finish with either hand, pull up at the drop of a hat, and make the right reads on the move to get the ball to where it needs to go. He’s not an exceptional passer, but he has enough in his bag to make defenses pay if they try and force the action.
DeVries, more of a complete offensive player than I realized, is another who rates out no lower than the 51st percentile on any meaningful offensive play type outside of putbacks. Pick-and-roll scoring, isolations, spot-up, and movement shooting: he’s done it all from a points perspective at the college level, with real size for an NBA wing.
Defensively there will be naysayers who will argue that he doesn’t have the juice to hold his own on that end at the next level. I’d say he’s actually done a fine enough job so far to justify minutes given his exceptional offensive value. DeVries is no small guard, so even if he’s not the quickest or strongest player out there, you can’t pick on him the same way as you could a 6’2” backcourt mate.
By the numbers, DeVries still sits in the 69th percentile defensively and has proven he can contest shots on the perimeter and provide help in certain off-ball situations. I’ll take that player given how there’s little he can’t do on offense.
I have DeVries valued as a second round pick as I still have questions in terms of how high the ceiling is if it all clicks in the NBA. Will he be able to break down defenses at the same rate? Will the vision click on quick reads and decisions? Or is he simply a pure volume shooter?
No matter what way you slice it, even a lower-level outcome for DeVries, if the shooting pops, is still valuable at his size. If a team wanted to take a swing on him in the first round, I wouldn’t hate it given the research I outlined last week.
Keep an eye on this man’s stock as we get closer to June.
Zach Edey, Purdue
Previous Ranking: N/A
New Ranking: 45
Last but not least, one more big-man jump in the rankings!
To be perfectly honest, I haven’t known how to rank Zach Edey dating back to last draft cycle.
7’4” or taller centers don’t have the greatest “median” outcomes in league history. Either they’re incredibly effective for the time in which their career is at or close to its peak, or they aren’t mobile enough to hold onto meaningful rotational minutes and their careers fizzle out.
For Edey, I’m starting to believe there’s more to his game than initially met my eye, and I’d have him trending toward a greater career outcome than that of Boban Marjanovic.
To be clear, Boban has still held onto roster spots and has done some damage in games when he’s gotten minutes. But to say that Edey’s career is destined to fall in that realm of a journeyman as opposed to finding a home within his first one or two teams, I think we can set the bar higher.
For starters, he has destroyed NCAA competition all year long. No one has been able to stop the giant from doing what he wants on the floor; 22.1 PPG and 13.1 RPG on 61.6% shooting is one heck of a stat line to put out there, especially when you factor in his career Block Rate of 8%.
With his soft touch around the rim, rebounding threat on both ends, and a legitimate deep drop rim protector, Edey has a home in the league in terms of role. I have no trouble projecting him as a capable rim roller, post-up threat, and glass cleaner/shot blocker in the minutes he plays.
Are there ways to put him in a bind on either end? Sure. He’s not a floor spacer (yet), and it’s always a nightmare for anyone that size to keep up with quicker players in space on the perimeter.
Edey moves way better than anyone else close to his size though. I’ve actually been really encouraged by how coordinated he is, which is the difference between him and some of the other 7-plus foot plodders who roam the courts at the next level.
And his touch on hooks, push shots, and runners can’t be understated. I get wanting his overall field goal percentage to be higher than it is, but Edey isn’t just looking to dunk the ball every time he touches it. There’s some real stuff to his offensive game out to 10 feet, leading me to believe if he made it a priority to work on a jump shot in the league that he could become a real spacer from the elbows. If he gets to that point as a shooter in terms of comfort level and efficiency, who knows; maybe he extends the shot out further?
That’s not to mention that he’s had moments where he’s turned and faced to get to the rim off the bounce. It’s not something I’d want Edey to do all the time, but I’m buying there could be more to his game than just posting up.
With his elite size, length, touch, and footwork, I just have an easier time projecting him forward in comparison to other big men who could be available close to his range or further back into the UDFA market.
I’d be shocked if someone didn’t take a real chance on Edey in the draft, as I have a feeling he has more fans around the league than some evaluators on the web may care to admit.
Great read.. thanks for the deep-dive on these prospects. Makes me think there’s got to be a better way to track all of our big boards.