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Five Players With HUGE Upsides and HUGE question marks in Tonight’s NBA Draft

This is going to be one of the most exciting drafts in a long time based around the amount of teams jockeying to get into the top 4, the amount of potential depth, potential busts that are “tier 2 players (cough cough Scottie Barnes) and also wild card players that have the ability to shockingly shoot up as high as the lottery but could also fall as far down as the second round. Players you just have ZERO pulse about where they might go. 

I think the top tier players are pretty obvious along with most of the guys right below the top 4 like James Bouknight out of UConn or Corey Kispert from Gonzaga, but what I’m most excited about are the guys who could either flame out immediately or become real pieces for a championship contender. 

Here are my top 5 Wild Cards to watch for in this year’s draft: 

Alperen Sengun: 6’10 from Turkey

ESPN + has Sengün as the TOP player in this year’s draft which is absolutely nutty to me and also tells you his upside is pretty high. He is 18 and was the MVP of the Turkish league and alot of scouts consider him to be Jokic esque. 

The kid has INSANE footwork, sets good screens, has touch around the rim, and does have a little baby jumper. Doesn’t shoot a ton, but has the tools to do so at the next level. Frankly I wasn’t sold on him until I dug into footage and watched him hit a cross over step back and shoot a high arcing 3 from deep behind the line. His first step is more tortoise than hare but for a center, he is VERY fluid. His downside is he’s not a great athlete, which to be fair is the exact same criticism people had about Jokic too and Luka… So take that with a grain of salt I guess. 

Could someone like Orlando take him at 5 and destroy him into a bust? Absolutely! Could he  also go to Orlando and turn into a Vucevic that Orlando ends up trading 3 years from now for 4 first round picks, one of which turns into the next Vuc? Also yes! 

I actually love him at OKC (#6) or Memphins (#10). I don’t think he’ll be around at #11 for Charlotte but if he is, adding him with Gordon Hayward, Miles Bridges and their plethora of guards would be SUPER fun.

Josh Giddey:  6'8 Australian League

The one potential NBA player that benefitted from Australia’s win over Team USA is Josh Giddey. He seemed to rise just after that game even though he of course has been on GMs radars for a while now. Another international big with big question marks though. He’s a 6’8, two handed passer with court vision and awareness, can take it to the rim, and he can shoot floaters. Love that for a guy at his size. Also a decent defender. Ok shooter but not a great shooter. Big problem? Scouts say needs to “revise his mechanics.” Ruh roh. Whenever I see those words on a scouting report it scares me. Add to this the fact he only weighs 205… heavier players will body him inside and there are enough questions that I can see him slipping to the teens in the draft. Plus not every guy that plays in the NBL ends up like LaMelo or Patty Mills. 

I really, really like him on the Pacers (#13) because let’s face it, he’s a Pacers kind of player, and I think he’d fit well with LeVert and Brogden since some of the other wings (McDermott, Holiday) are likely on their way out. 

Usman Garuba 6'8 Barcelona

Tall about a walking question mark. No one seems to know what to make about Garuba. He’s 6’8” power forward playing in Europe for Barcelona (one of the elite teams in that league) and Kevin O’Connor said that he “plays with elite defensive effort and intelligence.” Which is another way of saying, dude cannot score. And truthfully, he can’t, at least not efficiently. On top of his bad shooting, it gets worse. He’s also a bad free throw shooter. We’ll say this is less than ideal for a guy who ideally would get to the line 7 or 8 times a game. Is it worth taking a flyer on a super athletic defender with suspect offense? I don’t know, ask Philadelphia. The upside is he can help you right away as a spot defender off the bench. The downside is, he might be exactly the same player in 5 years he is now. Finding a team patient enough to see if he develops an effective shot will decide where he lands.

Truthfully he seems like a Sam Presti project at OKC (#16 or #18), maybe a defensive stopper in Atlanta (#20) to replace Cam Reddish, and Frank Vogel is always looking for defensive toughness (#22). Wouldn’t surprise me if he fell to them, but he could also go like 10th so I don’t know. 

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Joshua Primo 6'4 Alabama

Sometimes you like a player because of their name. Let’s face it, a Primo jersey is going to sell if he is any good at all. Most draft projections have him going late 1st round, but he’s definitely got a higher ceiling than that. He’s 6’4” guard with a shooter’s mentality. Basically, a chucker. But… in the good sense of the word. He’s graded lower because it’s said his first step is slow; remember they said the same thing about Luka having slow foot speed. Not saying he’s Luka, (I would NEVER) but what is clear is that maybe first step speed is overrated in the NBA. Most see him as a role player, but he could be a sleeper. 

A good bet is Houston (#23) but you know who sneaky evaluates talent as well as anyone? The Nuggets (#26) where he’s certainly an upgrade on Austin Rivers. The Sixers (#28) could use a shooting guard who is smart, fire from deep, can create and get his shot off the bounce. If he could turn into Caris LeVert he could be a real steal in this draft. 

Isaiah Livers

If Portland had a second-round draft pick, I would be salivating over them taking Livers this year. He’s a 6’7” wing player from Michigan who some think would have gone first round except he got a stress fracture in his foot in March and now appears to be a mid-to-late 2nd round pick. That feels a little extreme, no? He is LONG and loves to fill it up. He can REALLY SHOOT. 43% from three (41% for his four-year career so it’s not a fluke) and a high-volume shooter who put up 5 threes a game his last two years. He’s not afraid to shoot with a hand in his face, either. A very good defender. The downside is he’s 23 but that doesn’t really matter if you’re a team that’s ready for someone to step in and help you win now. I could definitely see Bob Myers and the Warriors stealing him in the second round because, yeah that’s kind of their MO but I’m REALLY excited to see who he becomes at the next level.

We talked about almost every player of note in this year’s draft on this episode of THIS LEAGUE. Please give it a listen and subscribe on Apple, Spotify, and Youtube. Let us know in the comments who you want your favorite team to draft and who you think is a can't miss player this year outside of the top 4.