We're sandwiched between two key dates on the NBA Draft calendar: the withdrawal deadline for underclassmen, and the draft lottery. So, finally, a date of real consequence in the process looms. In just a few days we'll know which teams will be picking where in the 2020 NBA Draft Lottery and who will hold the rights to the No. 1 pick.
While there hasn't been workout opportunities for players -- and interview opportunities have been limited -- the extended draft schedule has afforded teams to further examine this class both from an analytics perspective and from an eye-test perspective, with front offices taking the time off to watch film and really dig deep on players' background on and off the court.
To gear up for Thursday's NBA Draft Lottery and account for the underclassmen who made their stay-or-go decisions earlier this month, we've updated the CBS Sports Top 100 Big Board. We've also reshuffled our board with movements to reflect the (ever so slightly) shifting landscape that's fallen into place over the last few months.
(Note: the Big Board is my own personal ranking and different from a mock draft, which considers the consensus of how teams view the class and how the draft may actually unfold.)
No. 3 Tyrese Haliburton, Iowa State
Previous rank: No. 9
I've moved Iowa State star Tyrese Haliburton up six spots, from No. 9 to No. 3, because I know exactly what I'm going to get with him. He's a long and tenacious defender with a high basketball IQ who shoots it efficiently, projecting as an ideal two-way guard. Plus, character and work ethic checks are all coming back pristine for teams who have him on their radar.
"He's a pass-first guard," one scout told me recently. "Whatever team gets him, they're going to love what he brings as far as IQ and skill."
There are perhaps higher-upside prospects to consider who I have ranked lower than Haliburton -- namely James Wiseman and Anthony Edwards -- but he's going to be a safe pick (the safest among top 10 prospects?) because of his selfless style of play and immediate projectability as a role player. He'll need to land in the right situation to be successful -- and ideally that'd be a pairing alongside an initiator -- but I feel pretty confident he's going to be an efficient and successful NBA player in the same way he's been an efficient and successful college player the last two seasons.
No. 8 Patrick Williams, Florida State
Previous rank: No. 23
Checking in at No. 8 is Florida State one-and-done wing Patrick Williams, who has taken a backseat on the attention train to his teammate Devin Vassell throughout the process.
Williams continues to rise because of his 6-foot-8 frame and 6-11 wingspan, coupled with the mix of stuff you just can't teach -- namely the defensive anticipation and the size.
The word I hear each time I talk with someone about him is almost always "raw" from a skills perspective, but it's almost always followed by some iteration of keep an eye on him as a sleeper. I think teams are higher on him than they are leading on -- I know at least two scouts who have him inside the lottery of their own rankings -- and I suspect that in a draft devoid of surefire wings that he's likely to be considered among those with the brightest long-term outlook.
No. 52: Jay Scrubb, John A. Logan College
Previous rank: No. 30
If ever there were a time to bypass college, Jay Scrubb might've found the moment. The former Louisville signee and Junior College Player of the Year skipped his Cardinals commitment to go pro out of JUCO and looks to be one of the few available shooting guards in a thin class of them, making him at one point a top-30 prospect for me.
But I just can't quite go there right now (or at least I can't stay there), hence my drop for him to No. 52. Justifying such a high personal ranking essentially came down to potential need at the position in this draft, and so for that reason I've bumped him down because I can't use that as reason enough to keep him that high. Perhaps the real draft plays out in his favor because of that supply and demand, but he's just outside my top 50 right now.
No. 36: Vernon Carey Jr., Duke
Previous rank: No. 29
Only a seven-spot drop for Duke dynamo Vernon Carey Jr., but a notable one because big men Precious Achiuwa, Isaiah Stewart, Xavier Tillman, Jalen Smith and a few others are ahead of him on my Big Board. It's tougher than ever to be a draft-hopeful as a big man as the league continues to generally devalue the position, but it's especially so this year because of the depth at the position.
Nonetheless, this will end up being a win for teams looking at big men depth in the second round if players the ilk of Carey Jr. end up slipping. And, I think in general this is a draft where second-round picks may present some serious value. If you can find a productive player like Carey Jr. at No. 35 in this draft you're probably doing something right.
Top 100 Big Board
|3||Tyrese Haliburton||Iowa St.||Soph||PG||6-5||175|
|8||Patrick Williams||Florida St.||Fr||SF||6-8||225|
|10||Kira Lewis Jr.||Alabama||Soph||PG||6-3||165|
For the full updated Top 100 Big Board, click here