The NBA Draft does not have a scheduled time, nor does it appear to be any sort of priority for the NBA to sort out during the COVID-19 pandemic. But it will occur at some point, probably virtually, and it will feature a few familiar names. Here’s all the Pac-12 players who will be leaving school for the professional leagues.
Josh Green, SG — projected mid-first
The Australian wing was hyped coming in his freshman season, but none of the questions marks surrounding him — consistency, shooting mechanics, his usefulness in a half court offense — have been answered. He’s still an athletic freak who might have a bit of untapped potential, so some team will roll the dice in this thin draft class.
Nico Mannion, PG — projected mid-first
Mannion was a consensus five-star recruit who was compared to Mike Bibby and Trae Young, but unlike those electric playmakers, Mannion can’t really create for himself. His jumper is pretty but is inconsistent at best, he struggles badly creating separation on drives to the basket, and he’s always going to be a defensive liability. He’s most likely going to be a solid sixth man on a good team; that warrants first round consideration, but his lottery buzz seems to be due to his reputation as a prep star.
Zeke Nnaji, PF — projected early second round
In all likelihood, Zeke Nnaji is who he is. There’s good value in someone who can crash the boards hard, score garbage buckets and provide energy off the bench. Even if he doesn’t develop any outside range, he’s going to be instantly valuable as an Ed Davis or Kenneth Faried type off the bench. He’s a high-floor, low-ceiling prospect, so a late first or early second round pick is fair for him.
Arizona State Sun Devils
Remy Martin, PG — likely returning to ASU
As fun as Remy Martin was in college, there’s not much of a market for his player type in the NBA. He’s barley 6’0 with shoes on, has a 6’1 wingspan and doesn’t possess NBA athleticism. His best skill is isolation scoring, but he didn’t even score efficiently against collegiate opponents.
Romello White, PF/C — likely returning to ASU
Like his teammate, Romello White is a fun college player who has likely fulfilled his potential. He’s a problem in college mostly because no one is big or strong enough to bang with him in the paint. But to stick as a big man in the NBA, you need to shoot, be an elite positional defender, or have skill on skill. Relative to the bigs already in the NBA, White is fairly unskilled and
Tyler Bey, PF — projected second round pick
Bey is an interesting prospect who may be raw for an upperclassmen, but his game is tailor-made for the pace-and-space NBA. Bey profiles as a multi-positional defender who can ideally space the floor and finish inside opportunities. The issue is, however, that his jumper might take a year or two to extend to three-point range, his finishing and offensive skill are not at an NBA-level, and his day-to-day effort is impossible to predict. The tools are there for a rotation wing, but he will need to put in the work to develop his game.
McKinley Wright, PG — likely returning to CU
Colorado’s senior leader has declared for the NBA Draft, but in all likelihood he will return after hearing from NBA guys what he needs to improve. Wright is going to come back to Boulder, develop his game in the upcoming season, and probably go undrafted in 2021. As a prospect, he’s an undersized guard without elite athleticism (although with a 6’7 wingspan), good but not great shooting ability, and he struggles with prolonged slumps. However, because of his insane work ethic, in addition to his defensive ability and leadership, I think he will climb his way to the NBA and stick. If Tim Frazier can stick around in the NBA for seven years, so can McKinley Wright.
Payton Pritchard, PG — projected second round pick
This doesn’t really count because he’s a senior, but I wanted to include his draft projection. Like so many four-year starters, Pritchard doesn’t have the athleticism or upside as one-and-done prospects, but he has so much skill and a high feel for the game. Even if he’s a second round pick, he should stick as a backup guard.
Tyrell Terry, PG — projected early second round
Tyrell Terry is who Nico Mannion was supposed to be. The miniscule freshman was the engine of an excellent Stanford offense, as his elite ability to shoot off the dribble makes any pick-and-roll deadly. Sam Vecenie of the Athletic referred to Terry as a sleeper pick, someone who could have been a lottery pick in the 2021 draft had he stayed in school. Drafting someone a year too early — like if Obi Toppin or Buddy Hield had declared the season before their breakouts — is a great way to find value in the 31-40 range.
Chris Smith, SF/PF — likely returning to UCLA
UCLA’s breakout star declared for the NBA Draft on April 7th, but he’s probably coming back to school. He’s a score-first forward who doesn’t score efficiently, so it’s unlikely he would be drafted and developed to fulfill that role; there are so many gifted scorers that you have to be truly special to stick with that as your main role. Since Smith is not a special scorer, he still needs to develop supporting skills like perimeter defense and outside shooting. Another year of seasoning at UCLA would do well for his draft stock.
Onyeka Okongwu, PF/C — projected early lottery
The Big O might be a top-5 selection in the draft lottery, mostly because of his elite defensive potential and inside scoring ability. He stands just 6’9, but he has a wingspan north of 7-feet, plus he has tremendous athleticism that suggest he can play major minutes at center. He plays with so much force and intensity that it’s hard to not love him, even if he’s doing it for Andy Enfield. Offensively, Okongwu profiles as a rim-runner and board crasher, but there’s reason to believe the 72% free throw shooter can extend his shooting range.
Jaden McDaniels — projected mid-first
McDaniels entered the 2019-20 season with top-10 buzz, but his one-and-done year was mostly a disaster. McDaniels was supposed to flash his 3-and-D skills as a 6’10 wing and help lead a star-studded Washington team to the NCAA Tournament. Instead, he struggled horribly with consistency, didn’t put in much effort on the defensive end, and he wound up in Mike Hopkins’ dog house for the majority of Pac-12 play. McDaniels is still a projected mid-round pick because of his rare tools, but as of now, he is pure upside with significant bust potential.
Isaiah Stewart — projected late first
Contrary to his teammate, Stewart was insanely productive, played with intensity even as the Huskies scuffled, and reportedly has NBA three-point range he never got to display in college. And yet Stewart might be a late first round pick, mostly because center is the least valued position in the NBA. If his jumper is for real, Stewart can be a terrific inside-out scoring center with below-average defense.