NBA Draft
AP Photo / Marco Garcia

The 2020 NBA Draft is less than three months away. To study some prospects more in-depth, I’ve decided to rewatch some games with multiple prospects and analyze their gameplay. The first game of this series is the Washington Huskies versus the Houston Cougars. This game took place on December 25, 2019 in Hawaii for the Diamond Head Classic. Houston won the game 75-71 and took the home the Diamond Head Classic championship trophy.

In this game, there were three prospects who have entered the 2020 NBA Draft; Jaden McDaniels, Isaiah Stewart, and Nate Hinton. McDaniels is a 6’10” forward for Washington and the number seven overall recruit in the 2019 freshman class. Stewart is a 6’9″ center for Washington who was the number three overall recruit in the 2019 class. Hinton is Houston’s 6’5″ wing and was a four-star recruit in the class of 2018.

Jaden McDaniels

After watching McDaniels against Houston, it is evident that he has tons of potential. He only finished with 10 points shooting 3-7 from the field, but showed flashes of being a dynamic scorer. McDaniels’ talent and scoring ability is rooted in his athleticism. In this game, his athleticism was shown through his versatility. While he is not dominant in anything, he does many different things well. On offense, he can create for himself both from the paint and from deep. McDaniels shot 2-4 from three in this game, a number that will translate well in the NBA based on his 6’10” frame and smooth shooting stroke. However, he was a bit loose with his handles. If McDaniels wants to live up to his point-forward potential, he will need to be better with the ball in his hands.

On defense, McDaniels used his length well to interrupt passing lanes and defend multiple positions. He can defend the three and the four well, and has the potential to defend the five if he puts on some more weight. He is also a capable rebounder, although he only grabbed 4 in this game, when he averaged about 6. One thing McDaniels can improve on is his awareness of when and where to rotate to. There is little holding McDaniels back from becoming a prolific scorer at the next level. If he can clean up his ball handling and stay consistent with his shot, he can fulfill a Brandon Ingram-like role in the NBA.

After watching this game, McDaniels rose a few spots up my draft board. He is now ranked in my top 20. I love the potential he has and I’d be willing to take the risk on him in the middle of the first round in the 2020 NBA Draft.

Isaiah Stewart

Stewart had a monster game vs. Houston, logging 25 points on 8-13 shooting and adding 8 rebounds and 2 blocks. He dominated when operating in the post, especially in the second half. Stewart’s ability to maneuver his way around the post was showcased this game and is arguably his best asset. One positive that surprised me was his ability to run the floor and immediately seal off his defender. This tactic will benefit him in the NBA and will grant him many quick buckets in transition. Stewart shot 9-11 from the free throw line, which is also promising. It tells me that his jump shot has potential. While he cannot stretch the floor yet, his shooting ability should not be ruled out for the future.

On the defensive end, Stewart operates as a solid presence around the rim. However, defense is where he might struggle at the next level. Being a center at only 6’9″, Stewart will be at least three inches smaller than the players he will likely defend in the paint. In this game, Fabian White Jr., who’s only 6’7″, beat Stewart multiple times in the post. This highlighted his defensive limitations.

After watching this game, I felt a bit higher on Stewart than I previously was. I like what he can do on the offensive end. I believe that the outside shot will translate, he just needs to keep working at it (he only attempted 20 threes this season). Scouts have mixed feelings about Stewart, likely due to his height for the center position. However, I see it reasonable for Stewart to be selected with the ladder five picks in the first round of the 2020 NBA Draft. If not the first, Stewart shouldn’t fall beyond the first 10 picks in the second.

Nate Hinton

Hinton struggled on Christmas Day against Washington. He shot just 2-9 from the floor and finished with 5 points, 8 rebounds, and 3 assists. Hinton plays with a solid tempo, especially in transition, as he fills the gaps nicely. However, he is a very inconsistent scorer and is not the best with his shot selection. He only attempted two threes and made one. Because he projects as more of a wing 3-and-D player in the NBA, I would have liked to see him attempt more threes. Hinton also needs to develop some more shot combinations in isolation situations.

He should find himself on an NBA roster on draft night because of his defense. Hinton’s willingness to hustle on the defensive end will help him in the long run. He defended the perimeter well in this game, having added 2 steals to his stat line. Hinton is quick with his feet and active with his hands. And, for being only 6’5″, he rebounds well on the defensive end. Hinton’s average of about 8 rebounds per game could entice some NBA scouts.

If Hinton is drafted, it will likely be in the late second round. He has a lot of work to do to become a better scorer, but I see his potential as a 3-and-D role player. There are plenty of positives to Hinton’s game for teams to take a flyer on him at the end of the draft in October.

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