November 18, the night of NBA Draft 2020, and we continue to meet the best projects available. In this case, we will focus on the defensive field, looking for the most outstanding players on that side, taking into account what has been done in their respective NCAA teams, but also thinking about their possible transition to the NBA.
More | The NBA Draft 2020 Guide: How It Works, Available Players, Top Drafts, and More
This is our Top 5, but before, some names that were just left off the list.
- James Wiseman: Top natural conditions, but little proven (3 NCAA games) and with some fundamental issues to solve.
- Saddiq Bey: One of the best 3 & D of the Draft, although with some limitations from the athletic aspect.
- Ty-Shon Alexander: Excellent marker of bases and guards.
- Tyler Bey: Reminds us of Torrey Craig. Unrelated to the aforementioned Saddiq.
- Paul Reed: Very versatile and agile power forward on the defensive side.
- Robert Woodard: One of the best defensive forwards in the draft.
- Three Jones: Great base defender, at least at the NCAA level.
5) Tyrese Haliburton – Iowa State
We start the review with Haliburton, an Iowa State base that takes advantage of its great length to stand out on this side: Not only does he measure 1.96, but he also has an arm reach of 2.03 meters, which allows him to gain versatility and the possibility of marking multiple positions.
More | NBA Draft 2020: How does Tyrese Haliburton play? Profile and scouting of a passer of excellence
To all that, Haliburton adds very good athletic conditions in terms of agility and speed, as well as fundamentals and energy. Normally internal players have a greater impact on this side, but the 20-year-old scores in the Top 5. And although the statistics are often misleading on defense, in his case they tell a true story: he averaged 2.5 steals ( highest among NCAA major conferences), 0.7 caps and 5.9 rebounds.
4) Tyrese Maxey – Kentucky
When it comes to guards, there is probably no more intense and dedicated defender than Maxey, who is a real pest to rival perimeter. The Kentucky guard does not have the best physical profile (it barely exceeds 1.90) but he makes up for it with enormous virtues linked to energy, lateral agility and aggressiveness. And not only does he excel at scoring on the ball, but he’s also great at keeping his mark off the ball.
More | NBA Draft 2020: How does Tyrese Maxey play? Profile and scouting of a Lottery pick
In his case, his stats are nothing to write home about, having averaged 0.9 steals, 0.4 caps and 4.3 rebounds in 34.5 minutes in his only year with the Wildcats. However, in an NBA full of determining bases who function as the offensive focus of their teams, having a marker of the characteristics of Maxey is essential to strengthen that front line.
3) Isaac Okoro – Auburn
Good height (1.98 meters), long arms (2.06 meters), physical power and good athletic conditions. Okoro has all the necessary tools to stand out defensively and boy did he do it in his only year at Auburn, being elected to the SEC All-Star Five.. Again, as with Maxey, the stats only tell part of the story: 4.4 rebounds, 0.9 steals and 0.9 blocks in 31.5 minutes.
More | NBA Draft 2020: How does Isaac Okoro play? Profile and scouting of a defensive specialist
Even without having the best scoring repertoire, Okoro is projected as a Top 10 pick and beyond his ability to generate play for his teammates, it is thanks to his defensive impact that he has risen in the rankings in that way. When the comparisons you hear are to players like Gerald Wallace and Justise Winslow, not much more needs to be said about the forward’s potential impact on that side of the field.
2) Devin Vassell – Florida State
Deciding between Okoro and Vassell is very difficult, but in defense we give the right to the forward of Florida State, who has some advantage in terms of length: He is 2.01 meters tall and has an arm reach of 2.08 meters, a spectacular figure for a forward. If we talk about the 3 & D prototype, Vassell is without a doubt the most productive of all in this class.
More | NBA Draft 2020: How does Devin Vassell play? Profile and scouting of a 3 & D
The Seminoles player averaged 1.4 steals, 1 cap and 5.1 rebounds in 2019-2020, playing only 28.8 minutes per game. Along with another elite project like Patrick Williams They made up one of the best perimeter pairs of the last NCAA season, not only because of what they did in attack, but especially because of the impact they had on defense. Not for nothing did Florida State finish with the 15th best rating in that area among the 353 participating universities, according to KenPom numbers.
Seeing what a player like Mikal Bridges has generated in the Suns, especially this past season, is an interesting door to what Vassell could offer for the team that selects him in the next draft.
1) Onyeka Okongwu – USC
We reached the number one position and how could it be otherwise, we were left with an intern like Okongwu, a brilliant defender from USC. Okongwu has everything one would dream of an NBA pivot, at least in his own field, even without being especially tall (2.06 meters): his arms reach is endless (2.16 meters), he is very strong, he moves like a perimeter outside the paint and he is a specialist in caps (2.7 in 30.6 minutes in 2019-2020), in addition to be a solid rebounder.
More | NBA Draft 2020: How does Onyeka Okongwu play? Profile and scouting of a Top 5 candidate
Although in another era the defensive ideal of a pivot was considered to be a mass of great stature and physical presence, today the Okongwu class of inmates are much more valued, thanks to their ability to score in different sectors of the field and not only limited to what you do protecting the rim. The Bam Adebayo thing in Miami is a clear example of this and it is no coincidence that the young man from USC draws comparisons with the Heat star.
The opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of the NBA or its organizations.