L.J.s Preseason Top 50 Prospects

Top 50 prospects for the 2020 NBA draft  - L.J.s pre-season rankings

  1. R.J. Hampton/PG/New Zealand
  2. Anthony Edwards/SG/Georgia
  3. Cole Anthony/PG/North Carolina
  4. James Wiseman/C/Memphis T
  5. Scottie Lewis/SF/Florida
  6. LaMelo Ball/PG/Illawarra
  7. Deni Avdija/SF/Israel
  8. Nico Mannion/PG/Arizona
  9. Bryan Antoine/SG/Villanova
  10. Cassius Winston/PG/Michigan State
  11. Jeremiah Robinson-Earl/PF/Villanova
  12. Isaiah Stewart/C/Washington
  13. Tre Jones/PG/Duke
  14. Josh Green/SG/Arizona
  15. Matthew Hurt/PF/Duke
  16. Theo Maledon/PG/France
  17. Ochai Agbaji/SG/Kansas
  18. Tyrese Maxey/PG/Kentucky
  19. Precious Achiuwa/SF/Memphis
  20. Vernon Carey/C/Duke
  21. Samuel Williamson/SF/Louisville
  22. Reggie Perry/PF/Mississipi State
  23. Jermaine Samuels/SF/Villanova
  24. Ayo Donsunmu/PG/Illinois
  25. Jordan Nwora/SF/Louisville
  26. Killian Tillie/PF/Gonzaga
  27. Jaden McDaniels/PF/Washington
  28. Khalil Whitney/SF/Kentucky
  29. Trendon Watford/SF/LSU
  30. Johnny Juzang/SG/Kentucky
  31. Cassius Stanley/SG/Duke
  32. Jalen Smith/PF/Maryland
  33. EJ Montgomery/PF/Kentucky
  34. Tyrese Haliburton/PG/Iowa State
  35. Silvio De Sousa/PF/Kansas
  36. Joey Baker/SF/Duke
  37. Markus Howard/PG/Marquette
  38. N’Faly Dante/C/Oregon
  39. Obi Toppin/PF/Dayton
  40. Charles Bassey/C/Western Kentucky
  41. Devon Dotson/PG/Kansas
  42. Tyler Bey/SF/Colorado
  43. Ashton Hagans/PG/Kentucky
  44. Jordan Tucker/SF/Butler
  45. AJ Reeves/SG/Providence
  46. James Akinjo/PG/Georgetown
  47. Xavier Tillman/PF/Michigan State
  48. Kira Lewis/PG/Alabama
  49. Aaron Wiggins/SG/Maryland
  50. Mac McClung/SG/Georgetown

Prospects to watch
  • Quade Green/PG/Washington
  • Saddiq Bey/PF/Villanova
  • Jay Scrubb/SG/Louisville
  • Nick Richards/C/Kentucky
  • Lamar Stevens/SF/Penn State
  • Nahziah Carter/SG/Washington
  • Omer Yurtseven/PF/Georgetown
  • Udoka Azubuike/C/Kansas
  • CJ Elleby/SG/Washington State
  • Ikey Obiagu/C/Seton Hall
  • Collin Gillespie/PG/Villanova
  • Aidan Igiehon/C/Louisville
  • Jahmius Ramsey/SG/Texas Tech
  • Boogie Ellis/SG/Memphis
  • AJ Brodeur/PF/Penn

Prospect Corner: Skyy Clark

Skyy Clark is not your regular 2022 basketball prospect. On the court, he is a 6’2 190 magic ball handler with an arsenal of offensive moves. He plays for Heritage Christian in Northridge, California and has been fed knowledge by the greatest basketball player to ever play, LeBron James. Off the court, Clark works harder than your average young basketball player. Perfecting his craft and readying his skills for the next level.

Clark could be one of those players that comes straight out of high school or is a one and done. Whether it’s the 2022 or 2023 NBA draft Skyy Clarke looks like a certified NBA lottery pick. Watching so many good ball handlers throughout high school, no one is better than Skyy Clark. We had a chat for Prospect Corner for NBA Draft Room.

LJ: When it’s your time what type of impact can you bring to an NBA roster?

Skyy: When/ if I’m fortunate enough to play in the NBA I will bring leadership, toughness and all around great play anytime that I’m on the court. I take pride in playing both sides of the ball.

LJ: Its being said the NBA could take away one and done by the time you are draft eligible. Is skipping college going to the NBA something you will consider if the option is there?

Skyy: If I’m blessed to be in the conversation to come right out of high school I would definitely have to entertain that. It’s every players dream to play in the NBA and if it’s a first round guarantee I feel you have to look into it.

LJ: What do you think of RJ Hampton going overseas? Does that option intrigue you?

Skyy: I think RJ and his family did what they felt was best for him to prepare him for the NBA. He’s an extremely great player who has a very bright future so he couldn’t go wrong either way I don’t think.

LJ: What NBA player do you model your game after?

Skyy: People tell me I remind them so much of Kyrie Irving to the point my AAU coach and teammates on Strive for Greatness nicknamed me Skyrie (laughs) and he is definitely someone I look up to and try to take parts of his game as you can see by the way that I play. He’s my favorite current player.

LJ: That circle you have being around a talented bunch like Bronny James, Jahzare Jackson, and Dior Johnson. How does being around a talented group help you?

Skyy: Playing on team Strive for Greatness helped me because having so many great players it teaches you to always have to bring it every practice and every game or you may get passed over by the next person because the team was so strong. We had a really close brotherhood so we pushed each other like brothers. We only wanted the best for each other.

LJ: Your ball handling skills are special. How much training do you do off the court?

Skyy: I train every day, my handle came from watching videos of Kyrie Irving and also working with my bro Dribble2Much a lot, he has trained me since I started playing ball. I also worked with a trainer named Travis Nichols on some stuff as well but Dribble2Much got my handle super nice but he is so much more than just a dribbling trainer so don’t let his name fool you.

LJ: I call LeBron James the perfect basketball chess player because of his masterful IQ on the court to be a coach and a player with the ball. What has he been able to teach you that reflects your play on the court?

Skyy: Bron helped me in game by just giving me advice on situations and what to do if it happens next time. It’s really like having a cheat code having him because he’s the greatest player in the game and you just have to soak up any information he gives you because it’s really a once in a lifetime thing to have the best player basketball has seen giving you knowledge plus it’s pretty amazing to see him going crazy when you dunk or hit a big shot, it really gives you the confidence to feel like you can accomplish anything out there on the court.

LJ: It's a lot of good players that reach the NBA but the game is 90 percent mental. What about your character will NBA teams love that guarantee you are the right player.

Skyy: Things that will let NBA coaches or GM’s know they are making the right decision with me is that I put all my faith in God and that they would be getting a player that will never stop wanting to be the best player, teammate, or person around. They will get a true leader and someone they can build their franchise around.

LJ: What has been your most impressive game so far in your basketball career? What were the stats of that game?

Skyy: I have had so many 30 or 40 point games that I honestly don’t remember. I try to not dwell on the past very much but I have had some big games but if you twist my arm the game where I hit the game winner in front of LeBron was pretty memorable, I mean how could it not be (laughs)

LJ: What top high school prospect did you have the best game against? What were your numbers that game?

Skyy: I’m only a sophomore and my freshman high school season I didn’t get to play against many top players in Cali but this season will be different we have some top teams we are playing against so I will definitely keep you posted on that. But as far as impressive games as a freshman I had quite a few 30+ point games with double digit rebounds and assists.

LJ: California has continued to have some of the most talented prospects in country each class. Do you feel you are the best in 2022? Why?

Skyy: Cali is loaded with talent right now especially in 2022 and I feel like I’m the best because of my total body of work and everything that I bring to the table as a player.

LJ: Tell me about coming up in Northridge and the type of town it is?

Skyy: Well I just recently moved to the Northridge, Ca area but I’m actually from Minneapolis, MN. We moved away from there to Atlanta, Ga when I was 4 years old and moved to Calabasas, CA when I was 9 years old. I lived in Calabasas for the most part since we moved to Cali. The type of place it is just like the rest of Los Angeles is that it’s pretty magical. You see any and everybody out here like all of the stars and everybody is more normal than you think.

LJ: When did you know you wanted to play basketball?

Skyy: Well I didn’t start playing basketball until I was 10 years old but it was around 7th grade when I knew I wanted to take it seriously, something just clicked one day and I all of a sudden fell in love with it and wanted to be the best player on every court I stepped on.

LJ: Tell me about the influence of your parents and what their support means to you?

Skyy: My parents mean everything to me. They have been very supportive of me and my career but they also have kept me strong in my faith in God and kept me humble and also let me be a kid so it’s a good balance. My dad Kenny Clark is an ex NFL player for the Vikings and my mom Sarah was a celebrity makeup artist but she gave that up when she got pregnant with me so she could be the best mom possible and be a true mother to me and my brothers and sisters.

LJ: What will the basketball future get out of Skyy Clark?

Skyy: The basketball future will get a Skyy Clark that will always give you his best and always aim to take your breath away!!!!

Follow Skyy on Twitter
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2019 Dynasty Rookie Update

We've updated our 2019 Dynasty Rookie Rankings, to reflect the Summer League standouts and top performers.

Biggest Risers

Nickeil Alexander-Walker had himself a great Summer League, not only showing the
defensive ability and passing that we expected but showing off a smooth NBA 3pt shot and plenty of confidence with the ball. He's in an interesting situation in New Orleans, as he'll be playing behind some big name guards including Jrue Holiday and Lonzo Ball. But this could benefit him in the long-run, as he'll get to learn the NBA game from the talented vets, without being thrown into the fire too early. Fantasy owners will like the defensive stats, efficient scoring and all around production...even though his minutes might be limited in year one.

Jaxson Hayes was another Pelican who showed out in Summer League. The 6-11 center is highly mobile, freakishly athletic and just scratching the surface of his ability. At this point his offensive game is mostly dunks, lobs, put-backs and hustle buckets but he's got a lot of untapped upside. His shot blocking and rebounding will bring a lot of value, while his offensive game rounds into form.

Brandon Clarke looked like a man among boys in Summer League. He's got such a good feel for the game, showing great timing on his cuts to the basket, follow-up dunks and as a shot blocker. Also, his outside shooting looks more advanced than we thought. It seems inconceivable that he didn't get drafted in the top 20. What are these GMs thinking?

Carson Edwards always seems to step up and hit shots, no matter the level of competition. If this trend carries into the regular season the Celtics could be looking at a second round steal. Look for the Celtics to play some small ball line-ups with Edwards next to Kemba Walker, which will be fun to watch - and fun to have Edwards on your fantasy roster.

Biggest Concerns and Question Marks

Zion Williamson is still ranked no.1 in our Dynasty Rookie Rankings but there are more question marks now than on draft day. Specifically, can he keep his weight under control and can his body withstand an 82 game schedule with his explosive style of play? When drafting a player no.1 overall for your dynasty team you need to consider a few years down the line, not just the immediate impact. Zion will hopefully be just fine, but it's impossible to ignore the question marks that have come up.

Sekou Doumbouya is extremely young and unpolished as a player - and it showed in Summer League. He's still got the intriguing upside but it'll likely be a few years before he makes meaningful contributions in the NBA. Is it worth it to draft him in dynasty if you have to wait a few years? Or can that roster spot be put to better use?

And a look ahead to the 2020 Mock Draft

A Deep Dive Into Brandon Clarke

Top 5 fits in the 2019 NBA Draft

by Brandon- @AZSportsZone

In all my time evaluating NBA Draft prospects I have never seen a larger divide among the general consensus on an individual prospect than there currently is on Brandon Clarke. He is what traditional scouts or executives in the league generally tend to avoid until the late 1st round, as he’s already 22 years old and has a relatively short wingspan along with other uninspiring physical measurements.

Along with those concerns he doesn’t possess a cemented offensive identity with his lack of a jumper at the moment. His value differs significantly from mock draft to mock draft, as I’ve seen him penciled in anywhere from top five to the late first round. Despite all that, he is one of my favorite prospects in this entire draft, and after reading this he should be one of yours too.

What he does bring to the table: he is extremely good at basketball right now despite his deficiencies and question marks. His touch around the rim is elite, and he’s proven to be a hard worker as he completely overhauled the mechanics on his jumper from his stint at San Jose State. He still has plenty of work to do with his shot (especially the release point), but I believe at the very least he will be able to hit from the mid-range and continue to be one of the top percentile finishers around the rim with his remarkable touch and finishing ability.

If he ever starts knocking 3’s down at a reasonable rate it’s quite clear to me that he’d be a top 5 prospect from this class when we look back five years from now. Betting on skills to develop is a risky business, so let’s focus on the prospect he is right now without the three-point shot.

Defensive role: His off-ball instincts along with his precise timing allow for him to almost play like a free safety making impact play after impact play. He creates events at a high-level and offers rim protection in a variety of ways, whether it’s in transition, rotating from the weak side, at the point of attack or from recovery.

Offensive role: He excels as a rim runner in transition and a vertical floor spacer in the half-court, as he can play off the high post or on the weak-side baseline looking for cracks in the defense. He is a top-level decision maker that makes the right plays more often than not with the ball in his hands.

Let’s start with his physical measurements, then dive into his agility tests that he completed during the combine. The 22-year-old Gonzaga product stands at 6’8.25” while weighing in at 207 pounds with 5.0 percent body fat. His wingspan matched his height exactly at 6’8.25” which was not encouraging for his stock, but personally I believe wingspan isn’t important unless the instincts and basketball IQ aren’t there, and with Clarke he certainly has both of those attributes. Along with those instincts and high basketball IQ he is one of the best athletes in this draft and has impeccable timing when it comes to shot blocking and weak-side rotations. His motor, high basketball IQ, general feel for the game and otherworldly athleticism lead me to believe he has more upside than your typical 22-year-old prospect.

His vertical leap was an incredible 40.5 inches, which was the 3rd highest in the entire event and highest for his position. He is an absolute freak athlete which he’s already shown at the combine, as he tested at an elite level in his drills to make up for some of his uninspiring measurements. He screams “switchable” on the perimeter, which in today’s NBA is an extremely valuable asset for any frontcourt player.

Here’s how he compared to former number one pick overall John Wall who was, you know… a freakishly athletic point guard.

John Wall, 2010: 10.84 Lane - 30.0 standing vert - 39.0 max vert

B. Clarke, 2019: 10.61 Lane - 34.0 standing vert - 40.0 max vert

(Via Twitter) https://twitter.com/Cosmis/status/1129127379165732864

Look at how his statistics measured up against Zion Williamson’s last season. I understand he’s three years older and plays in a weaker conference, but it’s incredible to see how historically good these two were last year.

In their match-up head to head in Maui back in November they each recorded:

Zion- 22 points, 4 blocks, 10 rebounds, 2 assists on 8-17 shooting, 0-1 from three and 6-6 from the line.

Clarke- 17 points, 6 blocks, 5 rebounds, 1 assist on 7-10 shooting, 1-1 from three and 2-5 from the line.

Where Does Clarke Fit?

Here are my 5 favorite fits for Brandon Clarke at the next level:

Minnesota Timberwolves:

This is the fit the Timberwolves should be praying for. I cannot think of a more perfect frontcourt
partner for Karl-Anthony Towns than Brandon Clarke. Towns has the ideal skill-set offensively that will take pressure off Clarke and allow him to roam in the high post or baseline, while Clarke offers the weak side rim protection and defensive nastiness you need to make up for KAT’s weaknesses in those areas at times.

Minnesota picks 11th in the draft and with how unpredictable draft night is, if a team that wanted him trades out or a team picking before Minnesota has someone unexpectedly drop to them Clarke could easily fall to 11 where he’d not only be a match made in heaven next to Towns, but he’d be a steal in general. Ultimately, I think Clarke is gone by 11, but in the event he is not I would strongly advise Minnesota to pick him and not look back.

Memphis Grizzlies:

Just to be clear, this won’t happen barring Memphis trading back or trading for another lottery pick. Morant seems to be a lock for them at number 2, but this is a fit that would’ve been potentially devastating on both ends of the court. Adding Clarke next to Jaren Jackson Jr. would’ve created one of the most complete, versatile frontcourts in recent memory. Jackson could space the floor with his three-point shooting ability while Clarke would lurk on the high-post giving Memphis optimal floor spacing. Defensively they would be a nightmare in today’s modern NBA with their switchability on the perimeter and elite-level rim protection. They would absolutely wreak havoc and bring back that defense-first “grit and grind” mentality to Memphis.

One avenue Memphis can explore to make this possible would be if they traded Mike Conley for another lottery pick and he winds up being available there. Then all the sudden they could trot out a core featuring Jaren Jackson Jr., Brandon Clarke and Ja Morant which would be one of the most exciting young trios in the entire NBA.

Phoenix Suns:

Phoenix holds the 6th pick in the draft, and it would not shock me at all if they took Clarke with their desire to compete now and their looming gap at the power forward position. Everyone talks about how the Suns need a point guard, but their need for a power forward is just as, if not more urgent for the team to fill this off-season given they literally do not have a single power forward under contract entering next season while they have Tyler Johsnon, De’Anthony Melton and Elie Okobo at point guard. Along with that, there are far more free agent point options than there are at power forward this summer. Clarke is a Phoenix native and grew up a Suns fan, which has led to many fans falling further in love with him as a prospect.

“I’ve been a Suns fan forever. It would be cool to be able to go back home. Maybe I can get a workout planned with them. If not, it’s not a huge deal, but I’d definitely like to get a workout with them and get a chance to play with them.” (via Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic). Full article can be found on azcentral.

His ability to mask Ayton’s weaknesses defensively would be a major boost, as Ayton is solid on-ball, but his help-side defense and rim protection were issues his rookie year, so adding someone like Clarke that can protect the rim at an elite rate and excels in team-defense and rotating would bring some much needed stability to the defense. Surrounding Booker and Ayton with defenders like Mikal Bridges, De’Anthony Melton and Brandon Clarke is an ideal start towards building a defensive identity.

Atlanta Hawks:

The Hawks have the 8th and 10th picks in this year’s draft and if Clarke is available when they are up to pick, he could be a perfect fit next to John Collins down low with Collins’ improved shooting ability from deep last season (though he still has a ways to go on that department). Along with that, having guys like Young and Huerter spacing the floor could give Clarke plenty of room to operate, floating around the high post and finding seams in the defense.

The Young/Collins combo have had some comparisons to a young Nash/Amare duo, and while they still have a long way to go to get there, adding a guy like Clarke could fill in as the Shawn Marion type role. I don’t think they are all that similar types of players except for the freakish second jumps they each possess, but in terms of doing the dirty work and playing exceptional defense he’d fit in nicely there as a super-role player.

Boston Celtics:

Boston picks down at 14 to conclude the lottery and if Clarke is still on the board, I believe Danny Ainge snatches him up before the commissioner is done reading the name of the 13th pick. I personally don’t see him falling this low, but if he does I envision him absolutely thriving next to Al Horford who can space the floor and pass well, which would be a dangerous combination to pair with Clarke, given his ability to find openings in the defense through back-doors or high post drop downs. Clarke’s high-level IQ in Brad Stevens system would be a delight to watch. Boston holds the 14th, 20th, and 22nd picks in this draft so if they were to fall in love with him, they could always use their picks to move up and take him.

Boston’s roster is currently in limbo as we await the Kyrie Irving situation and if they are invested in pursuing Anthony Davis, but I believe Clarke fits with them no matter what their intentions are, as he would help with a rebuild while also offering as much “win-now” value as a rookie can in this class outside of Zion.

I believe he will be an instant contributor wherever he goes right off the bat.

Follow Brandon Clarke on Twitter

Follow Brandon- @AZSportsZone
Arizona Sports Zone