The 2020 NBA Draft is now just two days away! Having examined the point guard and wing prospects of the draft already, it’s now time to examine the big men prospects. I find it more unlikely that the Clippers will go with a big man because they selected a project big in the 1st round of last year’s draft, but if the right guy is there they could of course take the swing. There’s also the possibility that Mfiondu Kabengele might not be long for the Clippers organization, as they could try to move him for a veteran upgrade and clear up a spot for a new prospect. So, without further ado, let’s look at the big men prospects of the 2020 NBA Draft by the numbers.
Unlike the point guard and wing prospects, which have some unusual correlations between college stats and NBA success, the important big men stats make a ton of sense. The statistics with the highest relevance are: age, assists, rebounds, blocks, turnovers, and TS efficiency. The two that might feel left out are steals and points per game – points generally speaking do not correlate across any position, while steals do for wings and guards, but are more confounding with big men. That said, rebounds and blocks, the two primary “big men stats”, are highly indicative of NBA success: if you can’t rebound or protect the rim in college, you probably won’t be able to do so in the NBA.
Prospects Clippers Should be Interested In
Paul Reed – Paul Reed is a power forward from DePaul who I project as a small-ball center at the next level. Despite being “just” 6’9 and 220 pounds, Reed put up monstrous rebound and block numbers, especially in his junior season, and promises to be someone who can carry out big man functions around the rim at the next level. He’s certainly somewhat undersized to be banging against guys like Nikola Jokic or Joel Embiid, but I think he can survive at center against a lot of lineups, and his defensive versatility on the perimeter is impressive. The key for him might be shooting – he flashed a bit of a three-point shot in college, and if he can improve on that, he’d be able to play more at power forward alongside a true center. He’s a tricky fit, but very good at basketball, and those guys are always worth a shot.
Killian Tillie – Tillie is a guy who would only be available at 57 due to his college injuries (he had a stress fracture in his ankle as well as some knee issues). When he was healthy in his sophomore season, he was a projected first round pick as a monstrously good defender who can also stretch the floor. The injury issues are scary, but at 57, the investment is low, and the reward (a backup big man who can offer positive value on both sides of the court) is pretty huge.
Prospects Clippers Should Trade Up For
Xavier Tillman – Ah Xavier Tillman. The man who almost single-handedly ruined the days of Michigan fans such as myself for two years at Michigan State. Tillman is just 6’8, but his 245 pound frame and immense strength means he’s clearly a center at the next level. Nobody can push Tillman around – he pushes you around, and does so in bruising fashion. Despite his girth, Tillman is a nimble defender on the perimeter, and has excellent defensive instincts. While not a versatile offensive player, he sets massive screens and is great at finishing around the rim – two incredibly invaluable skills for a big man to possess. Tillman is also a decent passer, and has shown flashes of expanding his range behind the three-point line. Even if he never gets that outside shot down, his defense and rim-running should make him a plus impact NBA player on both ends. He’s the Brandon Clarke of this draft, a guy who dominated in college but will fall too far because of lack of age and flashy play. While I love Onyeka Okongwu as well, I think there’s a legitimate chance that of Tillman ends up the best player of any of the big men in the 2020 NBA Draft. If he drops to the second round, the Clippers should do whatever they can to get him, because he probably solves their backup big man issues immediately.
Prospects Clippers Should Avoid
Mamadi Diakite – Diakite was the backbone of some very good Virginia teams during his time in college, so what’s the issue? Well, Diakite is quite old (almost 24), has poor rebounding numbers (though at least some of that can be attributed to Virginia’s scheme), and has an atrocious assist to turnover ratio. He’s probably going to be an ok defensive player, but the rebounding and lack of offensive game are scary. I wouldn’t be upset at this pick, but even at 57 I think there will be better prospects available.
Ultimately, I think this crop of big men prospects is quite a bit weaker than the point guard and wing prospect groups. There will probably be some decent big men that come out of this draft, but there are also a lot with pretty strong limitations in one fashion or another. Combine that with the Clippers already having a young, upside-laden big man in Mfiondu Kabengele, and I hope that the Clippers steer clear of big men in the 2020 NBA Draft.