Babcock Hoops Roundtable: Who Are the Top Prospects for the 2020 NBA Draft?


For the first edition of the Babcock Hoops Roundtable, Jeremy Berman asks our panel of basketball experts, Matt Babcock (Former NBA Agent), Fran Fraschilla (ESPN College Basketball Analyst), and Matt McKay, Jr. (Former NBA Scout), about their thoughts on this year’s top NBA draft prospects.


1. Which prospect is the most capable of stepping in and contributing at a high level right away?


Matt Babcock: If I had to choose one player to step into an NBA game tomorrow, it would be James Wiseman. At the very least, his size and agility should allow him to be an effective rebounder, rim protector and finisher right away. However, I don’t think he will be limited to just those things, as he has the potential to expand his offensive arsenal substantially and could even become a capable shooter from outside. As everyone knows, he has recently left school to prepare for the NBA draft. It will be interesting to see where his development is at come June.


Fran Fraschilla: Obi Toppin’s maturity, NBA athleticism, and shooting ability as a “stretch big” make him a great candidate to help an NBA team sooner than nearly anyone who will be selected in the 1st Round in June. Although only a sophomore, he turns 22 in March. While that eliminates some “upside” potential, his continued physical maturity is a positive. And his 83 dunks as freshman serve as a reminder of his unique and explosive athleticism.


Matt McKay: Not to cop-out, but I’m not confident that anyone in this draft is going to come in and contribute at a “high level” from day one. There isn’t a Zion or Ja type available in this draft. Some guys with the best chance to contribute sooner rather than later: Obi Toppin (rationale: vertical athleticism, versatility), Isaiah Stewart (motor, rebounding), Isaac Okoro (defensive prowess).


2. Which prospect has the most upside long term?


Matt Babcock: The one player that stands out in regards to having the highest ceiling in this year’s draft is Anthony Edwards from Georgia. His physical tools combined with his ability to make tough shots is a scary combination. If he is able to improve his overall basketball IQ and establish a higher level of consistency he could develop into something special. Although he possesses the most upside of any prospect in the draft, I do think there is a certain level of risk with him, as he has clear cut deficiencies that need to be addressed. Regardless of the possible risks, don’t expect Edwards to slip in the draft as his upside should have him selected within the first few picks, if not first overall.


Fran Fraschilla: While I don’t see an NBA superstar in Precious Achiuwa’s future, his athleticism, even by NBA standards, is elite. And, when you couple that with his size, agility, rebounding instincts, and non-stop motor, he can be a very good power forward. He has the ball skilIs to “rip and run” off a rebound and make plays in the open court as well. Eventually, I can see him in the mold of the Clippers’ Montrezl Harrell, a valuable “dirty work” starter on a playoff team.



Matt McKay: Both James Wiseman and Anthony Edwards have unlimited potential. Both guys possess elite physical tools with budding skill sets. Either guy is number-one pick material in this draft — it’s really a matter of whether a team wants to add an interior or perimeter building block.


3. Who is the biggest sleeper prospect for this year’s draft?


Matt Babcock: Although he has started to generate some buzz as of late, I would still consider Robert Woodard II from Mississippi State as somewhat of a sleeper. At 6’7” 235, Woodard is strong, tough, and plays extremely hard. He’s capable of playing either forward spot, defending multiple positions and is a terrific rebounder. Oh, did I forget to mention that he’s an extremely efficient shooter from outside too? Long story short, watch out for Woodard — he’s on the rise!



Fran Fraschilla: In a year with a boatload of point guards who will go in the 1st Round, Theo Maledon may be hiding in plain sight. For an 18-year-old to get quality minutes in the French Pro A and the Euroleague immediately says something about his maturity. At 6’5”, he has excellent positional size and is an above-average (not elite) NBA athlete. His poise, size, and decision-making are reasons he has excellent pick-and-roll acumen for his age. And the bonus is his fundamentally sound and repeatable shooting stroke.


Matt McKay: I know “sleeper” is a relative term, and for NBA draft junkies this may not be too hot of a take, but the name that comes to mind for me is Oregon State’s Tres Tinkle. Since the moment he stepped onto campus as a freshman he was the best passer on the team. He’s now a redshirt-senior. He has legit combo forward size. He’s really improved as a shooter. He’s gotten stronger and more ready to physically compete at the NBA level. His BBIQ is special. He’s someone I feel will outplay their draft slot, wherever that may be.


4. Which prospect from a mid-major school is most likely to succeed in the NBA?


Matt Babcock: This is an easy one for me, as I have been high on Obi Toppin from Dayton since last season. I not only think he is going to succeed in the NBA long term, I think he’s ready to step in and be a good player right away. At 6’9” 220, Toppin checks all the boxes for what I would want from a modern-day power forward, as he rebounds, defends, scores inside, outside, and can be used in pick and roll or pick and pop actions. On top of all of that, he’s incredibly bouncy — expect many highlight dunks from him next season! I currently have Toppin as a top-5 pick.


Fran Fraschilla: Derrick Alston is a late bloomer who started his career as a Bronco as a walk-on and the transformation has been remarkable. While his lack of strength and body type are a detriment at the moment, his athleticism and perimeter skills give him a chance to eventually be an effective NBA contributor. While his shooting touch and NBA range is his major attribute — he’s made 96 threes in his last 50 games — he is a more than capable ball-handler and playmaker for someone his size. And he’s been reasonably effective initiating in pick and rolls because of the size, handle, and above-average offensive IQ.



Matt McKay: Does Gonzaga count as a mid-major anymore? Probably not. Either way, I’m going with Killian Tillie. If you couldn’t tell based on my last answer, I’m a sucker for high BBIQ. Tillie is one of the smartest basketball players you’ll come across. His feel for the game is absolutely elite. He has incredible touch from all over the floor (but especially with his floater game). He comes from a family of world-class athletes. He’s also a big-time teammate and person. His biggest hurdle thus far has been staying healthy. His myriad of injuries over the years have robbed him of some of his “pop” as an athlete, but he still has terrific body control, timing, and coordination. If he can stay healthy, he is going to stick in the NBA long term.


5. This year’s projected draft class is loaded with point guards. Rank your top 5.


Matt Babcock

1. LaMelo Ball

2. Nico Mannion

3. R.J. Hampton

4. Killian Hayes

5. Tyrese Haliburton


Fran Fraschilla

1. LaMelo Ball

2. R.J. Hampton

3. Theo Maledon

4. Killian Hayes

5. Nico Mannion


Matt McKay

1. LaMelo Ball

2. Theo Maledon

3. Nico Mannion

4. Tyrese Haliburton

5. Killian Hayes


6. Rank your top 5 prospects overall.


Matt Babcock

1. James Wiseman

2. Anthony Edwards

3. LaMelo Ball

4. Obi Toppin

5. Deni Avdja


Fran Fraschilla

1. James Wiseman

2. Anthony Edwards

3. LaMelo Ball

4. Precious Achiuwa

5. Obi Toppin


Matt McKay

1. James Wiseman

2. Anthony Edwards

3. LaMelo Ball

4. Deni Avdija

5. Obi Toppin

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