Draft Breakdown: Centers

Draft Breakdown: Centers


There's simply no denying the talent that James Wiseman has. By now, you should be more than familiar with the story. Wiseman only played 3 games at Memphis this year, due to an FBI investigation that said Wiseman took illegal funds during his AAU days by now Memphis Head Coach Penny Hardaway to help Wiseman's family move. So unfortunately for NBA Scouts and Executives, the sample size on Wiseman is limited.

What we did see, and what scouts have seen previously during his high school days is an athletic freak. At 7'1" 245 pounds, Wiseman runs the floor like a Deer trying to cross an interstate highway. He's quick and dangerously explosive. Wiseman has some floor spacing potential to his game as well and will draw plenty of Chris Bosh comparisons for the way he plays. The key question that NBA teams will need to figure out. Is Wiseman going to be a big that plays on the perimeter? Or do you draft him to dominate inside? James has the potential to be a dominating two-way presence and should be one of the first draft selections off of the boards. 


The former USC big man might not be the first big man to come off of the board on Draft night, but don't let that fool you...teams will be doing everything they can to land this talent. Onyeka Okongwu benefited from James Wiseman leaving the college basketball world early, as NBA scouts were drawn to the other potential top big man in this class. Talent evaluators were more than pleased with Okongwu, and he's becoming a sure bet to go somewhere in the Top 10 on Wednesday night.

You're going to hear plenty of Bam Adebayo comparisons when you hear people talk about Onyeka, and it's well deserved. Both are a bit undersized for a "traditional" center but both have the ability to dominate on both sides of the floor. Okongwu has some beautiful feel and footwork, especially when operating out of the post. There is some serious upside with his ability in the P&R game, and his outside shot is coming along but the foundation looks promising. At 6'9" 245 pounds, with a reported 7'1" wingspan, Okongwu may be undersized but he makes up for it with his athleticism and explosion. 


If you find yourself looking for your team to add a body-builder who runs the floor like a deer and plays with his heart on his sleeve...then Washington freshman Isaiah Stewart is right up your alley. Stewart is a physically imposing big man and does a great job of playing through his strength. At 6'8" 245, Stewart is a bit undersized for a natural 5 in the NBA but he makes up for it with an almost 7'5" wingspan. Yes, you read that correctly. Stewart is going to be a name to keep an eye on once we find ourselves out of the lottery. His intel has been fantastic from evaluators around the league, and some team is going to be drooling to add him to the puzzle.

The only question mark when it comes to Stewart's game is his vertical explosiveness. Stewart has the potential to be a force as a two-way player and possesses great footwork and hands for a big man. Teams will need to be convinced his lack of vertical explosion won't become a problem down the road. But he checks too many boxes to not be an intriguing first-round selection. 


The former Michigan State "veteran" is another prospect that plays with his hair on fire, much like Isaiah Stewart (above). Tillman will get the same criticism that Stewart might. He's a bit undersized for a natural 5 but you're buying the intangibles when it comes to Xavier Tillman...and BOY are they NICE. Gritty would be the word of choice when you're evaluating a big man like Xavier. 

There's an argument to be made that Tillman might be the best off-ball defender in this big man class. He's an incredibly smart basketball player with a strong feel for the game. Not only does Tillman do a great job on the defensive side of the ball, but his vision as a playmaker for a big man is outstanding. Tillman should intrigue playoff teams that are looking to add a strong rotational piece early on. Although only 6'8", Xavier Tillman went on to average 13.7 PTS, 10.3 REB, and 2.1 BLK last year for the Spartans. 


If you find yourself looking for an inside presence who can absolutely dominate the boards...then Zeke Nnaji should have your full attention. There's plenty of work to be done when it comes to Zeke being a consistent force on the offensive side of the ball. Zeke runs the floor with great determination and finished last year ranked in the 96th percentile (via Synergy) in Transition offense. 

He's an absolute joy to watch on the glass. Zeke will keep possessions alive and install life into a team with his energy and unwillingness to simply give up on plays. It's the small things that stand out with a prospect like Nnaji. He's a sure bet to go somewhere in the 20s of the first-round and could entice veteran teams looking for a spark off of the bench. 


When it comes to Daniel Oturu, the word that will be thrown around commonly by talent evaluators is "production." The former Minnesota Golden Gopher was one of the more productive players in college basketball last year. After averaging 10.8 PTS and 7.0 REB as a freshman, Oturu returned to Minnesota for another year and saw a massive spike in his production. Oturu would finish his sophomore year averaging 20.1 PTS, 11.3 REB, and 2.5 BLK. 

There's a lot to be intrigued by when it comes to Oturu. Some teams covet the productive big man who can get it done. At 6'10" 240 pounds, with a reported 7'2" wingspan, Oturu will check plenty of boxes for NBA Front Offices. The question moving forward will be fit, as Minnesota often played through the post to feed Oturu. If a team is convinced that his game can translate smoothly without needing to make him a focal point of the offense, Oturu should have plenty of suitors.


We've received plenty of questions on social media on why we weren't giving Vernon Carey Jr more attention. It's not that we aren't fans of Carey's game at all...in fact, it's the exact opposite. As it stands Carey is 48th on our board. But that's not saying we don't think he can't be a fantastic piece in the NBA. The problem with Carey moving forward is he needs to land with the perfect fit. 

Carey is one of the classic bruising big men that would be a potential lottery pick 20 years ago in the NBA. But he's not just a physically imposing beast. The former Duke big man has some fantastic footwork and athleticism to his game. When you turn on the tape, Carey jumps out immediately with his massive size. He's 6'10" 265 pounds and has a reported 7'0" wingspan. But rumors have it that Carey has done a fantastic job of losing weight throughout the pre-draft process. He's a wildcard candidate for the end of the first round.