Keldon Johnson: 29th Pick, 2019 - Ranked 7th in Draft Class
After just his rookie season, Keldon Johnson was the seventh-best player in his draft class, and he almost fell to the second round. The six players in front of him are Zion Williamson, Ja Morant, Brandon Clarke, PJ Washington, Tyler Herro, and Kendrick Nunn. After two and a quarter seasons of watching those guys play, Ja Morant is the only player I would definitely take over Big Body. I might even pass on Zion: I still need to see him play.
As a rookie, it was Johnson’s 59% shooting from both inside and outside the arc that got him ranked that high, and since then, he’s developed into an all-around player who impacts every part of the game around him. Johnson was the steal of the draft, and his rookie numbers hinted at him turning into the player the Spurs have today.
Tre Jones: 41st Pick, 2020 - Ranked 43rd in Draft Class
After being drafted in the second round, not much was expected from Tre Jones. Since then, he’s emerged as a good backup to Dejounte Murray. However, this ranking system is not concerned with his growth during year two and only looks at his rookie performance.
Jones did not get a lot of playing time in his rookie campaign, which hurts his numbers. However, in his first season, he was an inefficient scorer and had not yet developed into the surprisingly good defender, rebounder, and facilitator he’s come to be.
Killian Hayes and Nico Mannion are both ahead of him, although with what we know now, I’d say Jones is confidently better than both of them and I still think Jones could turn into the steal of the 2020 draft.
Devin Vassell: 11th Pick, 2020 - Ranked 23rd in Draft Class
Yikes. This would put Devin Vassell in the same company as Luka Samanic, and we all know saying the two of them are the same is blasphemy. As a rookie, Vassell did not get much playing time and he was not a partially good shooter, at least in terms of field goal percentage. Like Tre Jones, he took some time to adjust to the NBA pace and size, but now that he has, there are people calling to put him in the starting lineup.
Ranking Devin Vassell at 23rd is absurd and I feel stupider just typing it. He was one of the better players in a draft class headlined by LaMelo Ball, James Wiseman, and Anthony Edwards. He has quietly been establishing himself as one of the best scorers and defenders on the San Antonio roster and is quietly becoming a star before our eyes. The ranking system did him dirty, but the emphasis on efficiency and defense (but we’ll get back to that) was his downfall.