On Wednesday, Nov. 18, three Arizona Wildcats were selected in the top-50 picks in the 2020 NBA Draft. This year’s draft brought a ton of surprises as point guard Nico Mannion was one fell into the second round. Here’s a recap of last night’s action and how these former Wildcats fit in with their new teams.
Josh Green - Dallas Mavericks, 1st Round, 18th pick
The Mavericks selected shooting guard Josh Green with the No. 18 overall selection, which is a great fit for all parties. Green is 6-foot-6 with great size as he projects to be a “three-and-D” type of player at the guard/wing position.
Last year at Arizona, Green showed flashes of being an elite athlete, scoring the ball on fast breaks and switching onto multiple players on the defensive end. As a freshman, he averaged 12 points, five rebounds and three assists while shooting 36% from three point range.
Last season, Dallas had a lack of versatile wings that could do multiple things on the floor, and Green is a great fit next to Luka Dončić and newly acquired guard Josh Richardson.
Green is a very raw prospect whose NBA career could have many different outcomes. I am very confident that at the minimum, he is a solid role player for at least 10 years, but he does have that all-star potential if his shot develops. This was a great pick for the Mavericks and Josh Green has all the tools to become a very good player at the next level.
Zeke Nnaji - Denver Nuggets, 1st Round, 22nd Pick
The Denver Nuggets selected Zeke Nnaji with the No. 22 overall pick in the 2020 draft. The Nuggets have been a solid playoff team throughout the last few seasons so it makes me wonder if Nnaji gets a lot of playing time as a rookie on one of the best teams in the Western Conference.
That is still to be determined but on paper but he is a great fit next to All-Star center Nikola Jokic. Nnaji is just under seven-feet-tall and is in the process of bulking up to be able to guard bigger players while being physical in the paint.
I feel like at times as a Wildcat, Nnaji was being played at the wrong position. In the NBA, Nnaji will most likely play power forward as he matches up with that group of players better and can play alongside other big men.
Nnaji is one of the most interesting players in this draft because when he arrived in Tucson over a year ago, he was a very raw player and four-star prospect where he wasn’t expected to be a one-and-done player.
Nnaji showed his versatility and athleticism, where he blocked 28 shots in 32 games while scoring a team-high 26 points per game. The Nuggets have had a history of good drafting over the past few years, as they drafted Michael Porter Jr., Monte Morris, Malik Beasley and Nikola Jokic all outside of the top ten in the last six NBA Drafts. I believe that Zeke Naji is the next good player to out-perform his draft pick for Denver.
Nico Mannion - Golden State Warriors, 2nd Round, 48th Pick
It was a weird draft night for the former five-star recruit Nico Mannion as he had to wait until late in the second round to hear his name called. Mannion doesn’t project to the NBA very well with his inconsistent jump shot and defensive ability. Entering his freshman season, he was one of the most popular players in the country for his flashy handles and three-point shooting but didn’t improve his game with head coach Sean Miller in his lone season with the Wildcats.
Mannion averaged 14 points and five assists on only 39% from the field and 33% from three. His most likely outcome in the NBA is a backup point guard that is a pass-first player but still capable of hitting an open three-pointer at times.
On the plus side, being drafted by the former 2015, 2017 and 2018 NBA champions in the Golden State Warriors allows for Mannion to have more time to develop into a better player at the next level.
Mannion will be taught by former Arizona Wildcat Steve Kerr who is also one of the best coaches in the league alongside 2015-2016 MVP Steph Curry. If there is any team and system you would want to go to and grow into a good player — it’s the Warriors.
Golden State has had a history of developing late draft picks as Draymond Green was the No. 35 pick in the 2012 draft and is now considered one of the best defensive players in the league.
Three Arizona Wildcats were drafted in the 2020 NBA Draft which was the most former Arizona players picked in the draft since 2001. It isn’t about where you were drafted, it is how you react to your draft pick and let it be an inspiration moving forward to achieve big things in the NBA. All three of these guys have the chance to be special players in the NBA, but if I had to pick one to end up being a superstar, it would be Josh Green.
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