Kristaps Porzingis is reportedly climbing up draft boards, but some scouts still aren’t convinced he’s the real deal, as Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated denotes in his March Madness Big Board. “Is he Dirk Nowitzki or Andrea Bargnani?” one scout asked rhetorically. Mannix passes along NBA scouts’ views on several first-round prospects, and we’ll round up the most notable takes below:
- Arizona freshman Stanley Johnson’s frame and defensive instincts have led scouts to compare the 18-year-old forward to Metta World Peace, according to Mannix, who relays that teams will be watching Johnson very closely during the tournament. Johnson’s offensive abilities remain secondary to his defensive prowess, but he’s quietly averaged 14.1 points per night while shooting 36.6% from beyond the arc this year.
- Several scouts told Mannix that while Kentucky’s Willie Cauley-Stein lacks superstar potential, there isn’t a safer pick in this June’s draft. The 21-year-old seven-footer has averaged 3.7 blocks per 40 minutes throughout his college career.
- Kentucky freshman Trey Lyles’ numbers haven’t been eye-popping this season, but that’s a result of a relative lack of playing time in the Wildcats’ time sharing system. Multiple executives tell Mannix that the 6’10” 19 year old could end up being seen as a steal one day if he falls to late in the first round.