The 2020 NBA Draft will take place at some point.
The date remains unknown as the NBA and sports leagues around the world continue to try and figure out whether or not a return to play is feasible, but it will happen which means the Los Angeles Lakers will have the opportunity to add a prospect who can help them.
Contrary to popular belief, the Lakers did not give up every possible draft pick in the Anthony Davis trade and do own their first round pick in this year’s draft. Some have called this year’s draft a ‘weak’ class, but that is mainly due to the lack of a true game-changer at the top of it. However, in terms of depth and potential role players who can make a difference on an NBA team, there are plenty, which bodes well for the team.
This time, we look at wings and forwards. The ‘3-and-D’ wing is all the rage in this era of NBA basketball as teams are constantly looking for players who can knock down open jumpers and keep the floor spread for All-Star players, while also providing defensive versatility with the ability to defend multiple positions on the floor.
The Lakers currently have one of the best in Danny Green, but little else beyond him. Though Kentavious Caldwell-Pope grew into one of the team’s most reliable bench pieces, his lack of size made him an unideal defensive matchup for the likes of Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kawhi Leonard, and Jayson Tatum. Kyle Kuzma was wildly inconsistent this season as he dealt with injuries. While Kuzma can make shots, he is not what most would consider a ‘shooter’ nor is he a defensive stopper despite giving great effort on that end.
Teams can never have too many wings in today’s NBA, so here is a look at five the Lakers could target in the 2020 NBA Draft:
Saddiq Bey, Villanova
Bey is the prototypical 3-and-D wing that any team could use. Offensively, he is practically automatic as a spot-up shooter, knocking down 41.8 percent from the three-point line in two years at Villanova, including 45.1 on over five attempts per game as a sophomore. While not a primary offensive weapon, he has shown the ability to attack closeouts while also being a solid passer capable of hitting open shooters or cutters.
Standing 6’8″ and 216 pounds with a 6’10” wingspan, Bey has the ability to be a team’s primary defender. He sets the tone on that end of the floor, playing with an intensity and energy that few can match. This goes for his off-ball defense as well as he understands rotations and help-defense and is a great communicator.
While Bey is not a bad athlete by any means, he is not the most explosive player and this can cause some issues especially offensively. When combined with his just adequate ballhandling, it can cause issues attacking NBA players and finishing at the rim.
The major question in regards to Bey is whether he would actually last until the team’s pick. He has all the tools and would be a perfect fit, which is why there is a strong chance he will be gone. But if he is not, it should be a no-brainer.
Tyler Bey, Colorado
No relation to the one above, Bey undoubtedly has one side of the 3-and-D down as he is an excellent defender capable of guarding most wings and guards. At 6’7″ and 218 pounds with a 7’1″ wingspan, he will have the ability to guard potentially four positions in the NBA and is not just a perimeter defender as he averaged 1.2 blocks per game, having no fear challenging shots at the rim.
Though certainly not a great one-on-one perimeter scorer, he has shown progress as a spot-up shooter, raising his three-point percentage from 22.7 to 41.9 percent as a junior. But most of his scoring comes at the rim as he uses his excellent athleticism to finish off pick-and-rolls and cuts.
The main concerns for Bey stem from his offensive game. As noted, he is not a shot creator and can struggle when having to handle the ball under pressure and is not much of a passer either. He was mainly used as an inside player in college and his offensive skill set is really suited to the center position, though he could do well in the small-ball power forward position. Additionally, while his three-point percentage rose, it was on extremely low volume, shooting a total of 31 three-pointers in 31 games.
The offensive concerns are very real, but Bey is a playmaker on defense and if his shooting continues to develop, he would be an excellent addition as a team player who understands and thrives in his role.
Josh Green, Arizona
Like any number of players in this year’s draft, Green is someone with a seemingly wide range of where he could be selected. As such, it is very possible — and some would say likely — that he does not make it to the Lakers pick, but he offers a ton of upside if he does drop.
Green is a bit more of a project than others on this list, but the skills are there. Defensively, he has the size, speed, footwork, and energy to lock down most perimeter players. At 6’6″ with a 6’10” wingspan and weighing 210 pounds, he can match up with bigger wings and point guards alike and has great anticipation off-ball to rack up steals and disrupt passing lanes.
Offensively, he knocked down 36.1 percent of three-pointers, though with a bit of a funky shooting form that concerns some. His overall offensive game is still pretty raw and needs refinement. He has shown flashes of being a solid ballhandler and playmaker but still makes too many mistakes be it with inaccurate passes or getting out of control on drives.
Nonetheless, the tools are there and with a higher upside than most, he could be someone that can contribute in the short-term while potentially growing into a bigger role down the line.
Abdoulaye N’Doye, France (Cholet)
N’Doye made the decision to withdraw his name from the 2019 NBA Draft and returned to France to continue his development. It seems to be the right one as N’Doye showed marked improvement and is now one of the most interesting draft prospects available.
The first thing that stands out about him is his physical profile. At 6’7″ with a 7’2″ wingspan and 206 pounds, N’Doye has the ideal frame for a wing in today’s league. He will need to get stronger to handle some of the more physical wings, but his length and quick hands gives most trouble, even as he is at a speed deficit against some smaller guards.
On offense, he plays more like a big point guard, showing great vision and passing (4.0 assists per game) along with the ability to attack the basket and finish at the rim. He has also greatly improved as a shooter this season, raising his percentages from the field (45.7 to 52.3 percent), three-point line (37.8 to 44.1 percent), and the free-throw line (52.8 to 75.3 percent).
There are certainly concerns about his low-volume of shooting, average athleticism, and his offensive game translating to the speed of the NBA. However, the upside is ridiculous and the fact that he plays a big role on a good team in France’s top league (FNB Pro A) could make him worth a shot late in the first round or by buying back in the second round.
Robert Woodard II, Mississippi State
Woodard is an ideal combo forward with the length and strength to guard bigger wings and power forwards at the next level. At 6’7″ with a 7’1″ wingspan and 235 pounds, he can more than hold his own against the league’s bigger wings be it on the perimeter or post. He is also a good team defender, understanding help defense principles and close-outs.
Offensively, he made strides in his second season more than doubling his scoring while greatly improving his three-point shooting from 27.3 to 42.9 percent, albeit only 2.3 attempts per game. He is at his best off the ball, showing great anticipation with his cuts and slashes and can finish at the rim. He has also greatly improved his passing, showing the ability to hit the open man.
Despite his shooting improvements, the low-volume will concern some and he will have to prove that he can keep up that level of efficiency against NBA defenses with a higher output. He also lacks the quickness to guard smaller players and his ballhandling needs to improve at the next level to better attack NBA defenses.
He still needs to fine-tune some aspects of his game but if his shooting can keep up that level of shooting, he brings a lot of intangibles that should translate well as a role player in the NBA.
Others To Watch
Elijah Hughes, Syracuse
Keyontae Johnson, Florida
Jaden McDaniels, Washington
Jordan Nwora, Louisville
Jahmi’us Ramsey, Texas Tech