2020 NBA draft

2020 NBA draft profile: Kira Lewis Jr. has the whole package offensively

2020 NBA draft profile: Kira Lewis Jr. has the whole package offensively

Kira Lewis Jr.

Position: PG
Height: 6-3
Weight: 165
School: Alabama

One of the top scoring point guards in the 2020 NBA Draft, Lewis filled up the box score as a sophomore at Alabama, averaging 18.5 points, 5.2 assists, 4.8 rebounds and 1.8 steals per game. He was the only player in college basketball to reach all those averages this season. 

He posted solid shooting numbers across the board — 45.9 percent from the field, 36.6 percent from three-point range and 80.2 percent from the free throw line.

Lewis just turned 19 years old in April and is younger than Cole Anthony and Tyrese Maxey, who both declared for the draft after their freshman seasons.

Strengths

Lewis is an impressive offensive creator in the half court and an absolute blur in the open floor. He’s one of those guys who can race down the floor for a transition layup before the defense can get set. He reminds me of a skinnier Coby White, who put up big-time scoring numbers in the second half of his rookie season with the Bulls.

Lewis can take his man off the dribble in pick-and-roll situations and is a good enough three-point shooter to keep defenses honest. He has elite quickness and is going to make some big men look silly when they get switched onto him. 

Alabama often gave Lewis the ball and let him take his man off the dribble while the other four players spread the floor. That game plan makes sense when you watch Lewis work. He has the whole offensive package: hesitation dribbles, crossovers, step-back threes and blow-by layups. He also has a nice knack for driving all the way to the baseline and finding open three-point shooters in the corners.

Weaknesses

Lewis has some adjustments to make at the NBA level. He’s very skinny, which could lead to difficulties holding his position defensively and finishing in traffic against bigger, stronger defenders.

He also averaged 3.5 turnovers to go with his 5.2 assists this season, but again, he had the ball in his hands a lot. 

As an NBA rookie, Lewis needs to figure out how to keep the turnovers down while also adjusting to a more complementary offensive role. 

Fit

Lewis checks a bunch of potential boxes for the Sixers.

Offensive creator off the bench? Check.

Backup point guard who could run the show and make threes when Ben Simmons posts up? Check.

Upside potential to be a starter down the road? Check.

The problem is that skill set will also appeal to a bunch of other teams who pick ahead of the Sixers. I’m not sure he’ll make it to them on draft night, but stranger things have happened.

The combination of Simmons and Lewis leading fast breaks for 48 minutes would make the Sixers one of the most fun transition teams in the league. 

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2020 NBA draft profiles: Markus Howard is undersized but is a historic shooter/scorer

2020 NBA draft profiles: Markus Howard is undersized but is a historic shooter/scorer

Markus Howard

Position: PG/SG
Height: 5-11
Weight: 180
School: Marquette

From an individual achievement standpoint, you won’t find too many players that had a more decorated college career than Howard. In four years at Marquette, Howard was a two-time consensus All-American, received All-Big East honors three times and won the conference’s player of the year in 2018-19.

He’s also etched his name in the NCAA record books. He’s 21st all-time in points, wedged between former Sixer JJ Redick and Philadelphia native Hank Gathers. He’s tied for seventh in threes made. He also holds the Big East record in both categories. 

Strengths

Howard can flat out shoot it and score it. He averaged 27.8 points a game his senior season after averaging 25 the season prior. He proved to be one of the best shooters in NCAA history. He hit 42.7 percent of his threes in college on a whopping 7.9 attempts a game. His range and ability to get his shot off in any circumstance are also elite.

He did his fair share of damage against a certain local school.

While Howard isn’t the most adept ball handler, he’s more than capable of attacking closeouts and punishing defenses for playing him too closely — something that happens very often. He had experience at Marquette both running the offense and playing off the ball. In both instances, he was a score-first guard.

It also can't be understated that Howard did his damage an increasingly difficult Big East conference. 

Weaknesses

It all comes down to Howard’s size. At 5-foot-11, there are going to be plenty of questions about whether Howard can deal with the size of NBA guards. Will he be able to get his shot off against size? Can he use his shot to his advantage to create space off the dribble? Will he be big enough and strong enough when asked to defend bigger guards?

He’s also not the most athletic guard in the draft. This will also hurt him on both sides of the ball in trying to get by and keep up with NBA guards. Along with his size, that could severely hurt his draft stock.

On top of that, while Howard has a bit of combo guard ability, he’s definitely more of a two than a one. He averaged more turnovers than assists during his senior year. Granted, it was Howard’s job to score — which he did extremely well — but there are valid concerns about his ability to play the point at the next level. 

Fit

The Sixers need shooting and scoring so in that regard Howard would be an ideal fit. Given his size and lack of elite athleticism, he’ll likely slip to the middle of the second round. The Sixers currently own four second-rounders — 34, 36, 49, 59. Given their roster construction — and mainly the fact that they have a 6-foot-10 point guard — the Sixers are uniquely suited to take a flyer on a player like Howard.

Another intriguing thing about him is that he just turned 21 last month even after spending four years in college. He’d likely tear up the G League while in the team’s player development program. Much like Shake Milton and Marial Shayok before him, the Blue Coats would put the ball in Howard's hands and let him learn and grown in their system.

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2020 NBA draft profile: High-scoring guard Myles Powell could be intriguing second-rounder

2020 NBA draft profile: High-scoring guard Myles Powell could be intriguing second-rounder

Myles Powell

Position: PG/SG
Height: 6-2
Weight: 195
School: Seton Hall

Myles Powell is not only a Seton Hall legend, he's one of the best players in the history of the Big East conference. He finished his illustrious four-year career with 2,252 points, the ninth-highest total in conference history. Powell ranks ahead of legends like Kerry Kittles, Derrick Coleman and Gerry McNamara on the Big East's career scoring list. He averaged 21 points as a senior, earning First Team All-American and Big East Player of the Year honors while leading Seton Hall to a share of the conference's regular season championship.

Unfortunately for Powell — and every other college basketball player, for that matter — this past season was cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic. He never had the opportunity to end his senior year with a Big East Tournament title or a deep run in the NCAA Tournament. Had Powell led Seton Hall to a Final Four, his NBA Draft stock would have improved significantly. Pro scouts and executives could have seen him put a team on his back and shine on the big stage. As it is, he's a fringe second-round pick who may not be drafted at all.

Powell has always reminded me of former Villanova star Scottie Reynolds, both in size and skill set. They were both dynamic scoring guards at the college level. Both scored over 2,200 points and were named First Team All-Americans. But like Reynolds, Powell isn't a true point guard and doesn't have the size or elite athleticism required to play off the ball in the NBA. Despite being one of the best players to ever suit up for his college program, Reynolds never played a minute in the NBA. Powell is hoping to avoid that same fate.

Strengths

To borrow a borderline ridiculous basketball expression, Powell can “score the ball.” He averaged more than 23 points as a junior before scoring 21 points per game this past season. Powell scores in bunches and took over games on a regular basis at Seton Hall. When he heated up and started making shots from the perimeter, he was basically unguardable on the college level. He's fearless driving to the basket and very crafty in terms of finishing around the basket. Powell can score in a variety of ways. 

Powell always plays hard and is accustomed to being the focal point of opposing defenses. He's very good at moving without the ball and he's used to dealing with double teams. He also doesn't lack for confidence and never shied away from the big moment. Powell seemed to relish the opportunity to be a star in the New York metropolitan area. He always brought his A-game to Madison Square Garden and the Big East Tournament. He won't back down from any challenges as he tries to prove he's an NBA player. 

Weaknesses

As mentioned, Powell doesn't have a natural position. He was a combo guard in college. He’s a decent passer and facilitator, but he generally had a score-first mentality. He's too small and too inconsistent of a shooter to be considered a traditional NBA two-guard. After shooting right around 37 percent from three-point range as a sophomore and junior, Powell dipped to just over 30 percent this past season while attempting more than nine three-point shots per game.  

Powell also has the tendency to be careless with the ball. He averaged in the neighborhood of three turnovers per game the last two seasons. There are also valid questions about his ability to defend at the pro level. Powell lacks the elite lateral quickness required to stay in front of NBA guards.

Fit

If Powell makes it in the NBA, it will likely be as a scoring guard off the bench. He's a guy who could provide some offensive punch in limited minutes. The Sixers could use a guy like that. 

Powell will likely be available late in the second round and right now the Sixers have the 49th and 59th overall selections. They could consider drafting him with one of those picks, or they could try to sign him to a two-way contract if he goes undrafted.

I have a lot of respect for Powell as a competitor. It wouldn't surprise me if he defies the odds and carves out a decent NBA career for himself.

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