Earlier this year I started a “Prospect Watch” series where I watched the full games of a bunch NCAA prospects and reported back my impressions. I think I only blogged about two players, Oneyka Okongwu and Tyrese Haliburton, but I did watch the games of several other prospects, and for whatever reason (baby) or other (Covid) I never got around to blogging about them. I did most of the watching several months ago, which makes reporting impressions now a little difficult. I think I took some notes on these guys, but for whatever reason (baby) or other (Covid) I don’t feel like finding them. Still, that’s no reason to waste the research. So without further ado, here are the RokDeez Bulls Blog Prospect Watch 2020 Quick Hits:
Obi Toppin –
6’ 9” 220 lbs. Forward out of Dayton. Toppin is an incredibly gifted scoring big. He throws down athletic dunks, he can score with his back to the basket out of the post. He can take other bigs off the dribble from the perimeter. He has a sweet shooting stroke from the 3 point arc. Toppin will probably average 20+ points a game in the NBA. He has very good passing instincts and is unselfish with the ball. He has the potential to be used as a point-forward and offense initiator. That’s the upside for Toppin. The downside is his defense and his age. Draft experts are not fans of Toppin’s defense, or rather, lack there of. To be honest, I didn’t really notice that aspect of his game. I could see him being picked on in isolation by NBA guards. Even so, I don’t remember him making any egregious errors defending, but he could have made numerous errors that I didn’t recognize (curse my low basketball IQ). In terms of his age, he spent 3 years in the NCAA and he’ll be 23 years old by the time next season finishes up. A lot of people worry that a 23 year old is too old to really blossom into a superstar at the NBA level. I don’t like capping a players potential.
Isaac Okoro –
6’ 6” 225 lbs. Defensive wing out of Auburn. If Toppin is the offensive equivalent of Ying, than Isaac Okoro’s defense is the Yang. Okoro is NBA ready with his defense. He is an excellent one-on-one defender, speedy and athletic. He is also a heady help defender, using his length and athleticism to disrupt passes and swat shots. There is also potential on offense. While not a great shooter, Okoro found ways to score, averaging nearly 13 points in his single season at Auburn. Good in transition and around the rim, on offense he is definitely a project, but with a little work and polish, he could become a very capable contributor to an NBA team.
Devin Vassell –
6’ 7” 195 lbs. Wing out of Florida State. I haven’t watched a lot of Vassell, but what I have seen I like. He is a classic “3 and D” wing, the kind of player that you’d find on the Miami Heat or Houston Rockets. Like Okoro, Vassell is an excellent defender. He seems to have a high basketball IQ, and gives a lot of effort on defense. While not as athletic as Okoro, Vassell has a much more polished offensive game. His catch-and-shoot ability from beyond the 3 point arc alone makes him a lottery pick in my mind, but you add his stifling defense into the mix and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him picked somewhere closer to 5th overall than to 14th. Could he be the spacing wing the Bulls offense missed all last season?
Tyrese Maxey –
6’ 3” 198 lbs. Combo guard out of Kentucky. Like Vassell, I haven’t watched a ton of Tyrese Maxey games. He struck me as a solid player. He was quick and smart with the ball. He played solid defense. He was not the lead ball handler for Kentucky, but he did take over some of those duties during games. He has playmaker potential with the ability to dribble past a defender and get into the paint. I don’t know if anyone will take a chance on Maxey in the lottery, but he would be an intriguing prospect if the Bulls were to say trade down for multiple late round picks.
That does it for my Prospect Watch Quick Hits. Toppin, Okoro, and Vassell are all top 14 talents in this draft class, Tyrese Maxey has some solid skills and mid- to late 1st round potential. At some point in the future I’ll go over some of the Overseas talent that we could see taken early in the upcoming draft. If you haven’t heard by now, the NBA has pushed this years draft back to late November, and it looks like next season won’t be starting until after Christmas if not sometime next year. This means we have plenty of time to over analyze every player in the draft.
Bulls notes: Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley are casting a WIIIIIDE net to try and find the next head coach for the Bulls. There have been something like 9 names kicking around the rumor mill right now, and as more teams exit the Orlando Bubble sans head coaches, the list of names seems to grow. The most recent addition to the list being former Oklahoma City Thunder head coach Billy Donovan. With non-bubble team voluntary workouts just around the corner, it’s important to remember that Arturas said he wasn’t going to let that dictate when the Round Table would hire a new head coach. It would make sense for those workouts to be led by the new coach, but Karnisovas seems to operate in a very organized, one-foot-in-front-of-the-other sort of way. I’m not holding my breath for the coaching announcement, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it came a day or two before workouts began. As much as Arturas may say there is no time line, he seems to operate from a seat of strong logic. I’m just happy the Round Table is doing there due diligence in this coaching search; 9+ coaching candidates is a hell of a lot better than just naming a replacement without any visible search being done.
Thanks for reading, and until we next see Zach LaVine lacing up his hi-tops, GO BULLS!
End Note: Two prospects I wish I had watched but never got around to it – Aaron “Best Shooter in the Draft” Nesmith from Vanderbilt, and Kira “Fastest Guard” Lewis of Alabama.