basketball Edit

Bossi's Best (or worst): NBA Draft picks we missed on

2020 Rankings: Rivals150 | Team | Position

2021 Rankings: Rivals150

Grant Williams
Grant Williams

Regrets, I have a few. Each year, the NBA Draft reminds me of many of them. With the 2019 NBA Draft just a day away, I wanted to use this week’s edition of Bossi’s Best (or this week it's renamed Bossi's Worst) to discuss some of my biggest rankings regrets when looking at potential first-round picks.

What did I miss with them and what lessons were learned that I can use in the future to hopefully avoid making similar mistakes.

MORE: Twitter Tuesday | Yahoo Sports' NBA Draft coverage

Zion Williamson
Zion Williamson (USA TODAY Sports)

*****

Brandon Clarke, Gonzaga

What I missed: I watched Clarke play in December of his senior year of high school at the Tarkanian Classic. I thought he was a major steal for San Jose State (where he began his career) and I singled out his athleticism and instincts as reasons he could be a big success. He was signed, and I only got to see him play for about a game and a half. I didn’t even do enough follow-up to assign a star ranking.

Lesson learned: The lesson learned here is to be more diligent. When I see a steal, do more homework to find out how it happened and for heaven’s sake, at least make sure I rate them.

*****

Jarrett Culver, Texas Tech

What I missed: I was on the right path initially before totally over-thinking and missing. I first saw Culver between his sophomore and junior years and thought he could be a Big 12-level player. I liked his size and his feel for the game, and he was still pretty far from maturing physically. We ranked him nationally and in the spring of his junior year felt good about it when he got off to a hot start in the EYBL. Then, his play dropped some and he fell out of the rankings. After that, I probably didn’t do enough follow-up of how his senior year went after signing with hometown Texas Tech.

Lesson learned: There’s a few lessons learned. Place more value in initial gut instincts about a player and when a guy “falls off” or struggles, do a better job of following up to see how they have bounced back. I’m not saying we would have ranked him high enough, but he’s a guy we should have at least put into the final rankings.

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*****

Jaxson Hayes, Texas

What I missed: What was mostly missed here was an opportunity to get a good, in-person scout of Hayes. Everybody knows by now he was a late-bloomer and even when we did get to see him during the summer he got few touches on a team dedicated to showcasing Romeo Langford. I’ve written it before, but I once told my co-worker Corey Evans I didn’t think it would be possible for us to rank Hayes too high.

Lesson learned: The lesson learned here is real simple: If I really believe that we can’t rank a guy too highly then have the guts to rank him highly even if it was hard to get a great scouting report.

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*****

Tyler Herro, Kentucky

What I missed: I don’t think the miss is too bad here as much as it is a case of a guy striking while the iron is hot. But in retrospect, I do wish we had gone five-stars on Herro. I underrated his playmaking, discounted just how big he was and put a little too much concern into how hard he had to work at times to create shots via the dribble.

Lesson learned: The lesson learned here is that I should have put more stock into just how hard Herro works. Betting on a guy who will leave no stone unturned to get better is never a bad thing.

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*****

Ja Morant, Murray State

What I missed: Really, the only thing I missed was the chance to see Morant play in high school. Unfortunately I never got to see him in person and had no idea what Murray State, a school with a track record for unearthing hidden gems, had found in him.

Lesson learned: The lesson learned here is that when a school known for finding under-the-radar talent lands a dude I have never heard of, I should look into it a bit more. I’m not saying I would have figured out how great he was, but at least I wouldn’t be flying blind on how he was missed so badly.

*****

Coby White, North Carolina

What I missed: What I missed with White was paying enough attention to his all-around game. I’ve never had a problem with guys who shoot a lot (and White was never shy) and because of his ultra-confidence as a scorer we made him a five-star prospect. But, because I focused so much on his scoring I missed other parts of his game.

Lesson learned: The lesson learned here is to not be too quick to label a guy as one thing or another. Yes, White is a scorer first. But, had I paid more attention to the rest of his game, we would have ranked him much higher and ranked him more like you would expect a one-and-done to have been ranked.

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*****

Grant Williams, Tennessee

What I missed: What did I miss with Williams? I missed the entire boat and I wasn’t the only one. Williams had a great motor, was very productive and never backed down from anybody in high school. But, myself and many others had worry about a lack of position and whether or not he was skilled enough to cut it at Tennessee. Let’s face it, high majors weren’t beating down his door. Shame on all of us.

Lesson learned: The lesson learned with Williams is that you have adjust how you look at things. He defied conventional wisdom so I looked for reasons he would struggle. I should have been more focused on what made him productive. Guys such as Williams are reshaping the way many like myself evaluate.

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*****

Zion Williamson, Duke

What I missed: Look, Williamson still finished No. 5 overall in the final Rivals150 for 2018 and at the time I really felt like we had given him the benefit of the doubt. He had some injuries, his jumper was a major question and he didn’t really seem to get better as a senior. Looking back, I missed that he was probably a little bored and that the social media and YouTube craziness around him made it tough to evaluate him fairly.

Lesson learned: The lesson learned here is to not let outside noise influence how I look at things. We are all human, it’s not as easy as it sounds. Bigger lesson learned? When there’s a generationally freaky athlete like Williamson, don’t let the athleticism blind you to other skills.

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