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15. Phoenix Suns: Anthony Black (Arkansas, PG/SG, Freshman)
Despite questions about Black’s self-creation and upside as an NBA scorer, his ability to play-make for teammates and defend guards at 6’7″—plus the encouraging start from three (13-of-36)—highlights valued versatility and multiple ways for him to impact games.
16. New York Knicks: Kel’el Ware (Oregon, C, Freshman)
Ware has mixed eye-opening games with quiet ones, but the flashes will be powerful enough to entice lottery teams and get them thinking about a shot-blocker who’ll eventually stretch the floor, create for himself out of the post and generally make good reads/decisions.
17. Miami Heat: Terquavion Smith (NC State, PG/SG, Sophomore)
Smith finds himself in a slump (15-of-55 last three games), as some of the finishing issues he had last year have begun to resurface. There is still too much evidence of special shot-making and improving playmaking that will help first-round teams picture instant offense.
18. Chicago Bulls (via Blazers): Brice Sensabaugh (Ohio State, SG/SF, Freshman)
Even if limited athleticism and a 235-pound frame make it tough for scouts to picture a star NBA scoring wing, Sensabaugh has been too efficient (52.4 percent FG) and effective getting to his spots, separating in the mid-range and shooting threes in volume (46.6 percent, 4.5 attempts per game).
19. Los Angeles Clippers: Dariq Whitehead (Duke, SF, Freshman)
Whitehead is slowly building back rhythm with his shot-making and self-creation moves into drives and jumpers. At 18 years old, a delayed start (due to an injury) and strong defensive tools should buy him wiggle room with scouts. Gradually answering questions about his shot selection, finishing and shooting consistency should help scouts gain back confidence in preseason scouting evaluators who suggested that Whitehead possessed star scoring potential.
20. Indiana Pacers: Taylor Hendricks (Central Florida, PF, Freshman)
Scouts have been buzzing about Hendricks, especially his defensive tools and movement. But he’s also at 41.0 percent from three and consistently delivering big finishes above the rim. Scouts were mostly unfamiliar with Hendricks until last month, and he figures to continue raising their confidence with more consistent shooting, highlight dunks and shot-blocking during conference play.
21. Sacramento Kings: Noah Clowney (Alabama, PF, Freshman)
Clowney’s archetype is an obvious draw, being a 6’10” freshman who looks comfortable from three and moving defensively while blocking shots and rebounding.
22. New York Knicks (via Mavericks): Colby Jones (Xavier, PG/SG, Junior)
Improvement as a shooter and big games against Gonzaga and Connecticut have scouts taking Jones seriously. Teams will see an easy fit in a 6’6″, interchangeable guard/wing who’s averaging 5.6 assists, making 45.0 percent of his threes and providing defensive toughness/versatility.
23. Brooklyn Nets (via 76ers): Ryan Rupert (New Zealand Breakers, SG/SF, 2004)
After missing two months, Rupert returned to score 14 points with two threes on Wednesday, an encouraging sign for a projected three-and-D wing whom international scouts have been waiting to fully assess. Last year, we saw Ousmane Dieng use the second half of the NBL season to improve his stock, and Rupert should have a similar opportunity, although with a different, less versatile, more defined skill set for off-ball scoring.
24. Los Angeles Lakers (via Pelicans): Kyle Filipowski (Duke, PF, Freshman)
Production and a valued stretch-big skill set should keep Filipowski in the first-round mix all season, although a recent shooting slump has led to some questions about his true comfort level from the NBA range.
25. Indiana Pacers (via Cavaliers): Chris Murray (Iowa, PF, Junior)
Although Murray isn’t as threatening with the ball as Keegan was, he’s showcased similarly translatable off-ball scoring with his spot-up and movement shooting, cutting and offensive rebounding. He’s coming off his third 30-point game (versus Penn State) of the season.
26. Memphis Grizzlies: Jordan Walsh (Arkansas, SF, Freshman)
With Trevon Brazile out for the season, Walsh is starting to showcase his value with off-ball scoring, defensive versatility/IQ and constant hustle plays. There is a path for Walsh to climb boards as his touches and confidence increase.
27. Charlotte Hornets (via Nuggets): Jordan Hawkins (Connecticut, SG, Sophomore)
Even without showing any substantial improvement to his creation, Hawkins is building a first-round case around plug-and-play shot-making in an off-ball scoring role.
28. Houston Rockets (via Bucks): Dillon Mitchell (Texas, PF, Freshman)
Special quickness and bounce for finishing and defensive versatility could be enough for Mitchell to draw first-round interest. He’s shown too little as a creator, shooter or passer to compete for realistic consideration with the lottery freshmen.
29. Utah Jazz (via Nets): Ricky Council IV (Arkansas, SF, Junior)
Averaging 17.9 points, 2.5 assists and 1.8 steals, Council has caught scouts’ attention with his handle and quickness for creation, athleticism for finishing and defending and impressive touch on short jumpers and paint attempts. Limited three-point shooting and funky mechanics are holding him back from flying up the boards.
30. Indiana Pacers (via Celtics): Jalen Wilson (Kansas, SF/PF, Junior)
A dramatic bump in usage for Wilson has led to more contested shots and a lower finishing percentage, but through 14 games, Wilson has hit more threes (31) than he hit all last season (30) while shooting 41.5 percent on pull-ups and 46.4 percent off screens (per Synergy Sports).