Overrated NBA Draft Prospects
The NBA Draft is approaching and, just like every year, certain prospects have become darlings of the pre-draft process and become overhyped. There are three young men in particular who I feel have inflated draft stocks heading into the June 23rd proceedings, all of whom I break down below, along with a comparison to a current NBA player I think they’ll mirror. As any smart person analyzing the draft would, I have also prepared for the prospect of their success by providing a comparison for these players if they fulfill the hype and prove me wrong. There are numerous prospects who will end up being overrated in hindsight, but for now here are my pre-draft “Big Three” of overvalued prospects, based on the Big Board produced here at OTG and mock drafts from experts around the league. All measurements and college stats are via sportsreference.com/cbb.
Kevin Knox-F: (6’9, 215lbs) Kentucky
Knox was practically first round lock the moment he stepped on campus in Lexington with his prototypical length and offensive potential, but he had an up and down season for the Wildcats, leading to him being placed just outside of the lottery in most mock drafts. Now, however, reports have him soaring up the big boards of teams across the league due to strong pre-draft workouts, with Knox reaching as high as seven on the draft guide at The Ringer. Personally, I don’t see it, as Knox is passive, and needs to improve his physicality and consistency on both ends. He could emerge as a high level starting combo forward, but Knox could also have a future as an inconsistent, offensive-minded backup wing, making him a riskier proposition than players like Villanova’s Mikal Bridges or Luka Doncic, while his star potential falls well short of fellow Missouri forward Michael Porter Jr. If he falls past the lottery he could be a steal, but I’m wary of teams picking Knox before then.
Player Comparison if I’m Right: Less polished Jabari Parker or, God forbid, Jeff Green 2.0
If I’m Wrong: A taller Jayson Tatum
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander- PG: (6’6, 180lbs) Kentucky
Gilgeous-Alexander is yet another Kentucky prospect shooting up draft boards into the lottery, but unlike Knox he was far from a surefire NBA prospect a year ago, arriving as a four-star prospect before emerging as arguably the most important player on the Wildcats by the end of the year. He has ideal size for a point guard, but his athleticism is below average, and his perimeter scoring is a work in progress that could never come to fruition, although his 40% three-point percentage in a limited sample size is encouraging. Gilgeous-Alexander is a talented point guard prospect but slotting him above leading PG prospects Oklahoma’s Trae Young and Alabama’s Colin Sexton is a classic case of pre-draft tomfoolery. Don’t fall for it.
Player Comparison if I’m right: Michael Carter-Williams
If I’m Wrong: Shaun Livingston with three-point range
Miles Bridges-F: (6’7, 230lbs) Michigan State
Bridges could be a fantastic player, but my inclusion of him here is over fear of him being drafted by the wrong team because they overvalue certain aspects of his game. Bridges simply reminds me too much of decent shooting tweeners like Jabari Parker, Aaron Gordon and Justice Winslow, except without the refinement of Parker on offense, size of Gordon or the defensive ability of Winslow. Bridges and his jaw dropping above the rim antics could certainly excel in the right situation, namely one where he can play the four next to a talented big, but if a team takes him to play the three or doesn’t have a rim protector next to him, he could struggle to adjust to the NBA. He just doesn’t have the first step and ballhandling to get past most starting small forwards, while his height will make guarding the four consistently a challenge. Finding the right situation and working on the consistency of his jumper will be key for Bridges to excel, but these stipulations and his lack of improvement from his freshman to sophomore year make Bridges overrated as a lottery pick.
Player Comparison if I’m right: An offensive-minded PJ Tucker
If I’m Wrong: An offensive-minded Draymond Green