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Best and Worst Case for Top NBA Draft Prospects – Part Two

Last week, I listed the top five players on Chad Ford’s Big Board for the upcoming draft and came up with the best and worst-case scenarios for each prospect. I didn’t want to leave out some prospects who can very well be taken inside the top ten when the draft rolls around on June 25th. Here’s the best and worst-case scenarios for the rest of Chad Ford’s top ten.

6.) Justise Winslow

Best-Case Scenario: Jimmy Butler

Worst-Case Scenario: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist 

Winslow has most popularly been compared to James Harden due to his fancy euro-steps, but ultimately the Duke product will make most of his money in the NBA due to his work on the defensive end. Hence the Jimmy Butler comparison.

MAR 29 Div I Men's Championship - Elite Eight - Gonzaga v Duke

Butler and Winslow both get after it defensively while still being capable scorers on the offensive end. Winslow might not be a great scorer right away, but he’ll be a good NBA defender from Day 1, much like Butler’s maturation with the Bulls.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is still a terrific defender, but he doesn’t provide much on offense other than finishing at the rim. If Winslow’s 64.1 percent shooting from the line holds up in his NBA career, that comp might hold true.

7.) Mario Hezonja

Best-Case Scenario: Rookie year Rudy Fernandez

Worst-Case Scenario: Evan Fournier

Rudy Fernandez had an insane rookie season before falling off as an NBA player. His 159 three-pointers that season were a record for a rookie at the time. Hezonja has that kind of potential as he nailed at least 2.4 three-pointers per game in both the ACB and Euroleague this past season per 40 minutes, according to DraftExpress. Like Fernandez, Hezonja is also extremely athletic, though he struggles to show that on that court at times (he never gets to the line and he’s also a poor rebounder despite his 6-foot-8 build).

Kevin Pelton’s system came up with Evan Fournier as the most comparable player to Hezonja. Both players are above average three-point shooters and scorers but fail to contribute in other areas. If Hezonja doesn’t expand his game, Fournier is an ideal worst-case scenario.

8.) Willie Cauley-Stein

Best-Case Scenario: Worse rebounding version of Tyson Chandler

Worst-Case Scenario: Tyrus Thomas

WCS is an outstanding defender, there’s no denying that. He averaged at least 2.1 blocks and 0.8 steals per game the last two years of his career despite playing under 24 minutes a game in both seasons. He’s terrific at switching onto smaller defenders and staying attached despite the speed disadvantage. He reminds me of Tyson Chandler in that regard. Where he doesn’t is his defensive rebounding, which is the worst projected defensive rebound rate in Pelton’s database outside of Cody Zeller.

Tyrus Thomas might sound like a harsh comparison, but both players are outstanding athletes who collect a ton of blocks and steals. Thomas could’ve been a great player if he kept his head on straight. Cauley-Stein is much more talented, but he could have a similar NBA career if he doesn’t focus on basketball enough.

9.) Myles Turner

Best-Case Scenario: Serge Ibaka

Worst-Case Scenario: Better shot-blocking version of Meyers Leonard

Last week, I went into detail about Myles Turner’s unique ability of protecting the rim while stretching the floor. An interesting tidbit I discovered was that there have been just 11 seasons in NBA history were a player averaged at least 2.5 blocks per game and made 17 three-pointers, per Basketball-Reference, something Turner accomplished at Texas in 22.2 minutes per game. Serge Ibaka did it twice from 2012-2014, making him Turner’s ideal best-case scenario.

JAN 19 Texas at TCU

Meyers Leonard didn’t take many three-pointers at Illinois, but he molded into an outstanding three-point shooter during his breakout campaign. Turner projects to be a much better shot-blocker and all around player, but he’d be fortunate to have the shooting stroke of Leonard. If Turner can’t figure it out in other areas, he should at least be a solid pick-and-pop option if his 83.9 free-throw percentage is any indication.

10.) Cameron Payne

Best-Case Scenario: Damian Lillard

Worst-Case Scenario: C.J. McCollum

Cameron Payne: 20.2 PPG, 6.0 APG, 3.7 RPG, slash line of .456/.377/.787

Damian Lillard: 24.5 PPG, 4.0 APG, 5.0 RPG, slash line of .467/.409/.887

Cameron Payne, like Lillard, went from a mid-major mystery to a top-ten projected pick after his outstanding sophomore campaign at Murray State. Lillard is the better shooter, but Payne projects to be a much better passer in the longterm. Payne could be a steal for anyone that can look past his lowly strength of schedule and focus on his tremendous production.

Payne’s downside is still a player along the likes of former mid-major prospect C.J. McCollum. McCollum has had to deal with a rash of injuries early in his career, but he flashed some potential during the postseason. Payne should be a spark plug off the bench at worst.

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