You’ve got to feel for teams evaluating prospects this year ahead of the 2020 NBA Draft, slated for Nov. 18, with the COVID-19 pandemic impacting just about everything and everyone in some way, shape, or form.
This year’s draft class by no means is considered to be exceptional in terms of star power, but it actually is pretty deep. But having missed out on March Madness, many were robbed of the opportunity to make a name for themselves on a national stage.
Especially those prospects flying a bit under-the-radar.
Still, a draft is going to take place, and teams will be looking to add talent that can make an immediate impact, if possible. So besides the Anthony Edwards and LaMelo Balls of the world, here are a few guys you might not have heard of who we think have potential to be instant contributors:
Tyler Bey, University of Colorado
Bey set the NBA combine record for forwards with his vertical and was the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, leading the conference in rebounding. At 6-foot-7 and 216 pounds, Bey was used primarily as an interior player in college, which likely won’t be how he is used in the NBA.
His vertical and length make him a menace protecting the rim while he’s also quick laterally and plays well switching off screens. Certainly one of the best defensive players of his class, Bey also shows a lot of upside on offense, perhaps as a center, with his ability to play above the rim and his 42% 3-point percentage, though the sample size is small.
Desmond Bane, Texas Christian University
Bane is a 6-foot-6, 215 pound wing who some might sleep on considering he stayed in college for four years. Oftentimes, seniors are looked at to have lower ceilings, but don’t forget, guys like Jimmy Butler, C.J. McCollum and Damian Lillard all went that route and turned out fine.
Bane’s strength, IQ, two-way abilities and 3-point shooting ability could see him become an absolute steal. His form is a little unconventional, but last year he shot 44% from beyond the arc.
Xavier Tillman, Michigan State
At just 6-foot-8 and 245 pounds, Tillman is considered undersized as a center, but he’s incredibly strong, has a 7-foot-1 wingspan and probably is one of, if not the best of the big men in this year’s draft.
On offense, he’s crafty, smart and has a great touch with solid pick-and-roll abilities setting screens and rolling hard and strong to the hoop. For a big man, he’s also an intuitive passer who can dish it from anywhere. Defensively, he doesn’t have a lot of weaknesses despite his size. He’s strong in the post, mobile on switches and the perimeter, and makes great effort to box out and pull down boards.
Kira Lewis Jr., Alabama
In a draft that is top-heavy in guards, a handful are projected to go higher than Lewis, but the 6-foot-3, 165-pound Alabama product’s draft stock has improved tremendously over the summer and fall. Lewis is a certified shooter who plays with exceptional pace, and that could help see him get taken with a lottery pick, who knows.
Lewis averaged 18.5 points and 5.2 assists, and is regarded as a great all-around point guard who is quick, hustles, and generates great shots for himself around the perimeter while also being a great off-ball defender.
Grant Riller, College of Charleston
Riller, a 6-foot-3 guard, is another senior, and on top of that, limited experience against high-quality competition likely is a factor working against him. Still, his ballhandling, perimeter shooting, and ability to finish ambidextrously with great control is incredibly appealing.
Riller is an excellent spot-up shooter who shows upside off screens due to his ability to hit tough shots off the dribble. He didn’t have to try much on defense with a scoring load as high as his (21.9 points per game), but showed potential when the effort was there.