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21. Philadelphia 76ers (via Thunder): Nico Mannion (Arizona, PG, Freshman)
A draft-night slide could be coming for Mannion as questions swirl about his underwhelming tools, athleticism and 39.1 percent field-goal mark. He’d be a more appealing pickup in the teens or 20s as a second-unit guard who can facilitate for teammates and make both pull-ups and catch-and-shoot threes.
22. Utah Jazz: Theo Maledon (ASVEL, PG, 2001)
Maledon’s game lacks flash, but he’s done an admirable job executing as a shooter, finisher and passer for a teenager in Euroleague and France’s Jeep Elite league. He lacks speed and explosion, so lottery teams may be hesitant to draft him. But in the 20s, there is steal potential tied to the possibility that he won’t need burst or bounce and that his skill level, timing and coordination will help him overcome his athletic limitations.
23. Miami Heat: Kira Lewis Jr. (Alabama, PG, Sophomore)
Averaging 18.1 points, 5.2 assists and 5.0 rebounds as an 18-year-old sophomore, Lewis has become worth thinking about in the 20s. Questions about his athletic ability when separating and finishing are fair, but his age and production create a compelling first-round argument, particularly given his NBA-level quickness off the dribble.
24. Denver Nuggets (via Rockets): Josh Green (Arizona, SG/SF, Freshman)
Green’s explosiveness and defensive quickness should buy him time with scouts when it comes to his offensive skill. Flashes of runners, set threes and passes create hope for his development as a scorer and secondary playmaker, though his value will always revolve around his transition play, closeouts, pressure and energy.
25. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Nuggets): Isaiah Stewart (Washington, C, Freshman)
Teams won’t be itching to draft a big man who lacks offensive versatility and defensive switchability. Instead, Stewart should be viewed as a value pick in the late teens or 20s for his high-floor energizer potential around the basket. He should be able to contribute right away with physicality, low-post scoring and second-chance points.
26. New York Knicks (via Clippers): Tre Jones (Duke, PG, Sophomore)
Even if teams view Jones as a best-case backup, he’s still appealing in the 20s. The Knicks would value his passing and defensive pressure, but the improvement to his scoring skills and pull-up game has helped strengthen his case as a surefire NBA guard.
27. Boston Celtics: Jalen Smith (Maryland, PF/C, Sophomore)
Teams are beginning to take Smith more seriously now that he’s physically stronger, making a three-pointer per game and averaging 2.3 blocks. Even if it’s tough to picture significant upside, his three-and-D potential as a big is worth coveting this late.
28. Toronto Raptors: Zeke Nnaji (Arizona, PF, Freshman)
A perceived lower ceiling could turn Nnaji into a value pick. Teams won’t have enough reasons to reach, but his 6’11” size, 16.2 points per game on 57.8 percent shooting, mid-range touch and effort level hint at a high-floor role player.
29. Los Angeles Lakers: Jahmi’us Ramsey (Texas Tech, SG, Freshman)
Ramsey’s shot-making (2.2 made threes per game, 42.3 three-point percentage) will earn him first-round looks, but he’s also averaging 4.0 assists over his last six games. Adding passing and playmaking potential to his scouting report should make it easier for teams to look past his tough shot selection and defensive lapses.
30. Boston Celtics (via Bucks): Vernon Carey Jr. (Duke, C, Freshman)
The modern NBA devalues low-post bigs like Carey, but the Celtics could still find a use for his paint scoring and offensive rebounding. Coaches may want to immediately start developing his shooting range. He’s shown some on eight three-point makes so far.