Well folks, the 2020 NBA Draft is just a week away! The draft is happening five months later than usual this year, but will still feature much excitement, especially with many trades predicted to occur around draft time. While the LA Clippers only have the 57th pick in the draft and might well remain there, good NBA players (even great ones) have been selected that late in the draft before. Additionally, there is a chance that Steve Ballmer and the Clippers front office buys a higher pick to nab a guy that they like – Ballmer has the money for it, and has done so in the past. The Clippers’ biggest roster need is probably at point guard, so with that said, let’s dive into the 2020 NBA Draft point guard prospects by the numbers!
I’ve done this article on a yearly basis for a number of years now, but it has been a while, so here’s a brief refresher on the methodology. I have taken the college stats of point guards from the 2009 to 2015 NBA drafts and then done regression analysis against their advanced stats in the NBA. This gives a (rough) guide into which college stats translate well to NBA success, and which have less of an impact. The college numbers are averaged across the prospects’ last two years (many college players don’t play much in their first year or two, and it’s tough to judge seniors by those years considering they’ve developed a lot since). Freshmen are considered purely by their college stats, with no high school or international play considered. With that said, let’s dive into the 2020 NBA Draft point guard prospects!
As discussed before, despite being perhaps the most common “point guard” stats, neither points nor assists have a strong correlation to NBA success. This is probably because some college offenses reward their lead ballhandlers with gaudy assist numbers that don’t reflect their true playmaking abilities – while others spread the ball around and dampen assist numbers. The same goes for points, as in college many players who couldn’t score easily in the NBA are able to get up a lot of shots and put up big point numbers despite a lack of efficiency or true creation.
Instead, the most important college stats for predicting NBA success are steals, rebounds, three-point makes, true shooting, and age. The first four are all positive coefficients (it’s good for their numbers to be higher) while age is negative (it’s better to be younger), which makes sense. Steals and rebounds demonstrate not defensive potency, necessarily, but functional athleticism and basketball instincts, which are especially crucial for point guards.
Meanwhile, three-point shooting has become increasingly important for lead ballhandlers, making a competent outside shot at volume a big advantage. And, finally, point guards are usually the smallest players on the court – if they can score efficiently in the NCAA, it bodes well for their prospects to do so in the NBA, whereas if they aren’t efficient in college, they’re going to struggle even more at the top level. All that aside, here are the point guard prospects in the 2020 NBA Draft who I think would be strong picks at the Clippers range, those they should consider trading up for, and those who they should avoid.
Best Prospects in Clippers Range
Payton Pritchard – A senior from Oregon, Pritchard is one of the older point guard prospects in the NBA Draft. However, he makes up for his age with excellent outside shooting, a high steal rate, and solid rebounding. Pritchard hit 41.5% of his threes his senior season on 6.8 attempts per game, a phenomenal number, and while his junior shooting was considerably worse, his sophomore season was nearly as strong. Combine that with his 80% career FT shooting and he seems likely to be a plus shooter at the next level. He’s small, and he probably doesn’t have a ton of upside, but he’s a good bet to run an offense and score the ball at a solid clip.
Jahmi’us Ramsey – Ramsey is nearly as different from Pritchard as can be. A freshman from Texas Tech, Ramsey is several years younger than Pritchard (he’s in fact the youngest college point guard in the draft), and a couple inches taller. While his numbers are worse than Pritchard’s across the board, that’s to be expected considering the age difference. He too was a fantastic outside shooter (42.6% on 5.7 attempts), and his height means it’s much harder for defenders to bother his looks. Now, his free throw shooting (64.1%) is a worrying factor, but his size, age, and shooting potential means he’d be a steal if he fell to the Clippers. He’s projected to go in the mid second round, but at that point, anything can happen.
Prospects to Trade Up For
Malachi Flynn – Flynn is a prospect whose stock has shot up in recent weeks, with projections now in the late first round. Flynn is another older guy (he transferred from Washington State to San Diego State and redshirted a year), and has very similar averaged stats to Pritchard. Flynn was one of the best pick and roll operators in the country, especially as a scorer, and is a deadly shooter from all over the court. He’s undersized as well, but he’s someone who could step in and run an NBA pick-and-roll heavy offense right away. That ability will probably continue to shoot Flynn up draft boards, and while I do like him quite a bit, the Clippers would presumably have to give up a decent amount to be in a spot to draft him.
Devon Dotson – Dotson is an absolute speedster who can fly with the ball in his hands on offense, and uses that same quickness to nab steals on the other end. His plus speed and instincts should translate well to the NBA, and he’s quite adept at finishing around the basket and getting to the foul line. His three point shooting took a step back his sophomore season, but his excellent free throw shooting demonstrates that he has quite a bit of touch, and I think he’s likely to be an at least average outside shooter in the NBA. At 6’2 with a small wingspan and not much leaping ability, there are real limits to what Dotson can do on both sides of the court, but statistically his youth, steal rate, and scoring efficiency makes him a very nice prospect. If he’s available somewhere in the early to mid 40s range, the Clippers should absolutely make a move for him.
Prospects to Avoid
Ashton Hagans – There are some positives with Hagans, a sophomore from Kentucky. He has a high steal rate, and his 79.1% free throw shooting indicates a player who can probably develop some long-range shooting over time. The issue, however, is that he was a virtual non-shooter from deep (26.5% on 1.7 attempts over two seasons) in college, and despite being only a sophomore, is already well past 21 years old. His efficiency as a whole plummeted his sophomore season as his usage went up, a bad sign considering he still wasn’t a high-volume scorer. Realistically, there’s some promise defensively and as a playmaker, but the rest of his offense has a long way to go.
International Prospects of Note
Yam Madar – Madar will not be 20 at the time of the draft, yet is in his 3rd season of playing professionally in a decent league (Israeli league). Madar is an excellent passer and playmaker, and won the 2020 Most Improved Player award after going from a low-minute reserve to starter. He doesn’t have much of an outside shot to speak of (though note that the Israeli league plays with a longer arc than the NCAA), but his craftiness and quickness are legit. He’s also signed for multiple more years with Hapoel, meaning he could be a great stash candidate for the Clippers.
Honestly, this is a very strong point guard class. There are numerous point guards who I think would be excellent picks for the Clippers who should be available in the mid-late 2nd rounds, and could either fall all the way to 57 or be available for a simple cash purchase. If the Clippers can get any of the guys discussed above, I think they will have found their backup point guard of the future. Well, what do you think of the 2020 NBA Draft point guard prospects? Anyone you have your eye on? Anyone you’d like to steer clear from? Let us know in the comments below!