(Victor Wembanyama, Metropolitans 92)
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5. Yohan Traore (Auburn, Freshman)
Traore’s shooting development has been noteworthy, and it could lead to the 6’10”, 220-pound freshman generating one-and-done buzz. He’s still on the raw side, but the combination of pro tools and pick-and-pop potential, plus his motor/activity around the basket, may help scouts picture an NBA fit.
4. Dereck Lively (Duke, Freshman)
There isn’t a ton of upside tied to Lively’s archetype, but NBA teams still value elite finishing and shot-blocking from the center position, as evidenced by Jalen Duren plus Mark Williams both going top 15 in last year’s draft. At 7’1″ with a 7’5″ wingspan, scouts should see translatable pick-and-roll tools and rim protection tied to his length plus motor. Promising flashes associated with over-the-shoulder scoring and set three-pointers (which we saw in high school) should help maximize their draft stock.
3. Kel’el Ware (Oregon, Freshman)
Ware offers 7’0″ size, mobility and timing for NBA finishing and shot-blocking. He is also delivered enough glimpses of hook shots plus shooting touch to hint at more scoring potential down the road. Scouts still figure to express some hesitation over his lack of strength and explosion for a center who doesn’t offer much creation.
2 . GG Jackson (South Carolina, Freshman)
At 6’9″, 210 pounds, Jackson is mostly tools, athleticism and motor for transition play, finishing, offensive rebounding and defensive playmaking. He also won’t turn 18 years old until December, which should create wiggle room plus visions of upside when he does show the occasional jumper or ball-handling move. How close or far away he appears skill- and polish-wise will determine his final spot on draft boards, as it’s possible he looks too raw offensively for any lottery power forward. Still, after averaging 14. 0 points in 17. 0 minutes at the U18s plus leading the EYBL inside rebounding, Knutson figures to produce his way into the first round, even if he seems limited in creating and scoring away from the container in the half court.
1 . Victor Wembanyama (Metropolitans 92, 2004)
The hype has been building for years behind Wembanyama’s never-before-season development and shot-making fluidity to get a 7’3″ big. He’s already delivering, having put up a pair of 34-point games in the preseason. It appears the particular 18-year-old will be locked into a featured role that will allow him to showcase unprecedented rating versatility fueled by perimeter skills, finishing tools plus special movement. With regard to the No . 1 pick, G League Ignite point guard Scoot Henderson will put pressure on Wembanyama to raise their three-point percentage, look comfortable with contact, minimize turnovers and stay healthy. However , the NBA draft has never had a prospect his size look this sharp putting the ball down, separating into jumpers and hitting spot-up threes while changing games defensively with his outrageous length, flexibility and anticipation.