Evans Seven: Comparing college freshmen to projected NBA lottery picks
The date for the 2020 NBA Draft is now set for Nov. 18, and a pecking order has begun to emerge in regards to who will be picked in the upper half of the lottery. In the latest Evans Seven, analyst Corey Evans takes a look at seven incoming college freshmen and how their games compare to seven players who will likely get the call early on NBA Draft night.
BJ Boston & LaMelo Ball
OK, so there has never been a LaMelo Ball. But BJ Boston, thanks to his wiggle game off the bounce and outgoing personality on the floor, is probably the closest thing we can get to the youngest Ball brother.
A California native, Ball took a back seat (if that can ever be said) to his older siblings until last year. Boston, meanwhile, was in the background to an extent while he played alongside Sharife Cooper. Stardom finally struck when Boston transferred to Sierra Canyon School in California last fall, which further cemented his standing as a blue-chip prospect.
Boston must get stronger, just as Ball needed to a year ago, and he must refine his decision-making prowess. However, both players showcase tremendous size along the perimeter, the ability to create for others and themselves and a complete scoring package from 25-feet and in. Ball is a polarizing prospect this year, and that might also be the case for Boston next year. Regardless, lottery selections are in the cards for both Ball and the future Kentucky Wildcat.
Josh Christopher & Anthony Edwards
A physically sculpted 2-guard who is known more for his scoring prowess than his passing skills. That's an apt description of not only Anthony Edwards but also Josh Christopher. Edwards' recruitment was seen as a heavy lean one way before he reversed course at the last minute and picked Georgia. Christopher's recruitment took a similar turn when he left Juwan Howard and Michigan at the altar in favor of Arizona State.
Both provide tremendous defensive potential and each have been known to create their fair share of heavily watched mixtapes and develop a heavy following on social media. Christopher doesn’t enter the college game with the sky-high expectations that were attached to Edwards, but that doesn’t mean he won't break out in Tempe even further and continue to climb draft boards until he's as highly regarded as Edwards.
Evan Mobley & James Wiseman
James Wiseman shunned the blueblood path when he picked Memphis and his former school and travel coach, Penny Hardaway. Evan Mobley made a similar decision when he opted to suit up for USC, as Mobley's father, Eric Mobley, coached his son with the Compton Magic travel program.
Both Mobley and Wiseman were ranked as five-star centers in high school and the two 7-footers can do a handful of things only a few individuals walking the planet can.The pair are also young men of great intellect who have been knocked at times for inconsistency on the stat sheet and overall toughness.
Both will also be put under the microscope and their talents will be debated as they fit into today's game. Mobley has better ball skills and dexterity than Wiseman, but they both look like potential top-three to top-six selections in the NBA Draft.
Keon Johnson & Isaac Okoro
Keon Johnson is a better athlete than Isaac Okoro, and he's a bit more skilled along the perimeter, while Okoro entered college with a polished frame and an unbelievable winning pedigree. Both possess tremendous intangibles, rely on their games to do the talking and they are respected for competing and defending. Johnson, just like Okoro, must show that he can consistently knock down shots from beyond 15 feet. With a full cupboard of talent alongside him at Tennessee, there is a chance that we will see Johnson climb up draft boards, just as Okoro did during his own freshman campaign.
Cade Cunningham & Tyrese Haliburton
Cade Cunningham is the early favorite for the first overall pick in next year’s draft, and he didn’t come out of nowhere like Tyrese Haliburton did. But both players have a sense of maturity that separate themselves in their respective classes.
Haliburton has one of the funkiest shots in the game, but it goes in more often than not. Cunningham, on the other hand, has solid fundamentals throughout, but if there is one question about his game it is his shot-making ability. Neither is an elite level athlete and neither can be labeled solely as a point guard. They are at their best on the ball, thanks to their unselfish, team-first approach.
Both players possess elite intangibles that make them what they are. With the game beginning to favor feel and ball skills above athleticism, that should only work in the favor of Haliburton this year and Cunningham next.
Greg Brown & Obi Toppin
Loyalty won out with Obi Toppin when he chose Dayton. He was never the hyped recruit Greg Brown was, but both rewarded their respective coaching staffs with commitments after those staffs put in years of hard work recruiting them.
Toppin enters the NBA at a time when a versatile big man is of great value, which should only help his cause for a high selection in November. The same should go for Brown, a future Texas standout who is working on making the transition to becoming a true wing who can make shots and act as a secondary playmaker.
Regardless, Brown's athleticism should make him a trendy name in college basketball this season. Just like Toppin, Brown may eventually be the most explosive prospect in his draft class and both should end up being lottery selections.
Scottie Barnes & Onyeka Okongwu
While Scottie Barnes is more of a power forward and valued playmaker, both he and Onyeka Okongwu share the desire to compete on each and every possession. They can defend all over the floor and possess tremendous intangibles that make them desirable teammates.
They aren't known for their shot-making skills but rather their ability to produce in practically every column on the final stat sheet. Barnes and Okongwu also declined the blueblood path and stayed true to their home states when it came to their college decisions. While Barnes is built more in the Draymond Green mold and Okongwu more along the lines of Bam Adebayo, both players have upside, sturdiness and day-one abilities. Questions were asked about both players upon entering their college careers, but thanks to their mental make-up and mature approach, they should each hear their names called in the upper half of the first round.