- There are thousands of NBA mock drafts on the internet. How about if there was one that ranks prospects according to how cool their YouTube highlights are? Forget the stats. Forget the accolades. The Crossover is back with the second edition of the YouTube NBA Mock Draft.
Welcome to the second annual Perloff NBA YouTube Mock Draft. After the overwhelming response in 2017, the editors at The Crossover demanded an encore (ed. note: not true.) As a refresher course, YouTube scouts look for different attributes than their NBA brethren.
Good on YouTube:
1. Dunking ability – Think Vince Carter.
2. Crossovers – Think Allen Iverson or The Professor.
3. Deep Threes – Think Steph Curry. The earlier in the shot clock the better.
4. Blocked shots – Extra points for blocking it out of bounds and not giving your team a chance to get the ball.
5. Video production and music choice—Preferably safe-for-work music. Sorry about that last year.
Bad on YouTube:
1. Mid-range game: DeMar DeRozan would not do well in this draft.
2. Lay-ups that could have been dunks—nothing I can do on a basketball court.
3. Man to man defense—not that you’ll find any of this on YouTube.
4. Rebounding—other than put-back dunks of course.
5. Weak music—admittedly, in an effort to be safe for work, the tracks aren’t as good this year.
The biggest challenge for YouTube scouts is not being influence by actual mock drafts. Last year I should have put Donovan Mitchell at No. 1 overall. But Mitchell’s lack of name recognition scared me. Not this year. I hope to judge Deandre Ayton and Landry Shamet with the same critical eye. Here are the rules: Using the 30 players from an early June mock draft, I’ll rank prospects according to how cool their YouTube clips are. To be fair, I try to use the first clip that comes up in a Google search… as long as the music isn’t too NSFW.
1. Colin Sexton, G, Alabama
The first Google result for Sexton is from Pebblebrook High School in Mableton, Ga. Normally I would move on and find college highlights, but I was captivated by “Collin Sexton Official YoungBull Mixtape | Most PASSIONATE & ENTERTAINING Player In America!!” It has everything … embarrassing crossovers … a lay-up where Sexton puts the ball between his legs in mid-air in a real game…. buzzer-beaters…. dunks that could would get 10s from a panel of judges. The best part is the crowd reaction, including a guy who jumps in front of the camera and emphatically declares Sexton the GOAT. Since there are no rules in a YouTube mock, I’m sticking with the high school footage and fully endorsing The Young Bull.
2. Lonnie Walker, G/F, Miami
I was intrigued by Woo’s description of Walker in his mock draft: “A mixed bag and hasn’t figured out how to consistently impose his will on games yet, but his explosiveness, ability to get to the rim and jump shooting potential are all intriguing.” Sounds like a YouTube superstar. Walker delivers. He’s probably the most creative finisher in this group. And his shot looks smooth. I don’t quite understand how he hit only 41.5 percent from the field this season—his percentage was much higher in this clip. Walker’s highlights remind me a bit of Donovan Mitchell … that kind of burst has to show real potential even if it is just a silly highlight reel. If you need more convincing, check out this pre-draft workout. I desperately want to try these drills.
3. Zhaire Smith, G, Texas Tech
Smith could be in the slam dunk contest immediately. He’s fast, strong and gets way up in the air. And this clip has a cute clip of him as a little kid. But can he play? That’s not a rhetorical device in which I’ll answer my own question. Seriously, I’m asking you, is this guy good? Based on the highlights I’m ready to trade up into the top 10 to draft him.
4. Michael Porter Jr., F, Missouri
I was looking forward to seeing how producers put together a reel for a guy who played three games and scored 30 points in college. I found this incredible clip of him scoring 52 points in a high school game, regularly hitting three pointers with two guys in his face. Then there’s the time he dropped 47 points in Jamal Crawford’s Pro Am League—not sure about the competition there—I think I saw my accountant guarding Porter. The good folks at DraftExpress were able to cobble together a collection of McDonald’s All-American Game, Team USA and Missouri highlights to represent Porter well enough. Yeah, he missed a ton of shots in two games after he came back from the injury at Missouri, but none of them found their way onto YouTube.
5. Miles Bridges, F, Michigan State
Some odd search results for Bridges led me to an all-dunk highlight, which I love. The Google algorithm gives him an unfair advantage in the YouTube universe. But since Bridges stayed the extra year at Michigan State we got to see plenty of his actual game. For a lefty, Bridges has an amazing ability to finish with his right hand. And he’s great at adding unnecessary emphasis on every slam—a huge plus for this Draft. (NSFW music)
6. Trae Young, G, Oklahoma
If you had never seen Trae Young play and just happened upon this clip, you’d probably saw the following: 1) He’s amazing. 2) How come he’s allowed to shoot from that deep? Must be the Curry effect. 3) Is he big enough to play in the NBA? Guess what, the ability to play professional-level defense has no bearing on the quality of a YouTube clip, so we’re not worried.
7. Robert Williams, F, Texas A&M
I love that the producers open up with a blocked shot—Williams just destroys some poor Arizona guard. He does the same thing to a poor kid from Auburn later on in the clip. We also to see Williams just taking it to Penn State in a matchup that would be a lot more exciting if they were playing football. There might be a few too many alley-oops in here … we get it, dude can finish in the paint. We saw that in the Tournament. Based on the highlights, Williams seems like he might have gone higher 15 years ago … like fellow Louisiana product Stromile Swift, who went No. 2 overall in 2000. But even if the NBA doesn’t value his skill set as much he’s a solid highlight player.
8. Kevin Knox, F, Kentucky
Dick Vitale provides the most exciting part of this clip. Knox is from Dickie V’s hometown of Tampa, so of course he’s a fan. “He’s gotta want the ball. He’s GOTTA WANT THE BALL. He’s got stardom all over him.” The reason this clip stands out is because Knox is so tall for his size. What does that mean exactly? You watch this clip and say there’s no way he’s 6-foot-9 because he moves and shoots like a smaller two guard.
9. Jerome Robinson, G, Boston College
Some young NBA fan is going to Google Robinson after his name is called and get very excited. Robinson is a creative finisher around the rim and has a legit outside shot. For anyone who hasn’t really paid attention to Boston College hoops since Dana Barros graduated in 1989, Robinson is a revelation. By the way, if you’re a Duke-hater, you’ll enjoy watching Robinson tear them apart in this clip.
10. Luka Doncic, G, Real Madrid
Am I looking at 6-foot-8 Slovenian version of Steph Curry or the next Nikoloz Tskitishvili? European clips are hard to decipher. Every overseas guard drains 30-foot shots like they’re lay-ups. Why is Doncic different? He is shooting from a bit farther out from most European guys and he has a quick release. But for a prospect this highly touted, I was expecting a bit more. If you had shown me this clip and said that Doncic would be the No. 20 pick, I wouldn’t be surprised. At the 1:45 mark he has a bizarre one-handed runner you’re likely to see from a 48-year-old at the YMCA than the NBA.
11. Marvin Bagley III, F, Duke
How did Duke not do more this season? They look like an NBA team in these highlights. And Bagley’s just not fair. He’s too big and too smooth. My only critique of this clip—too many alley-oops. Would have liked to seen some more of his smooth jumper. Still, hard to believe he’s not a No. 1 overall pick because his highlights are impressive.
12. Donte DiVincenzo, G, Villanova
I had a hard time finding a season-long highlights because there is so much from DiVincenzo’s 31-point outburst in the national title game. But you really don’t need much more for the Villanova product. Also impressed by this high school clip I found—DiVincenzo wears long sleeves under his jersey in the Delaware state playoffs and somehow makes it work.
13. Deandre Ayton, C, Arizona
There’s a reason you never see 7-footers in the dunk contest. Every Ayton clip is a two-handed slam. You do see the athleticism and basketball skill. He’s quicker than a guy that size should be. That’s why Ayton will go No. 1 in the real world. But I’m not paying to see him in a strictly YouTube universe. I looked back at old Joel Embiid highlights for comparison, and the 76ers big man had more flare at Kansas than Ayton does at Arizona.
14. Jaren Jackson Jr., C, Michigan State
Landed on a single-game highlight against Duke, which usually isn’t a fair way to judge these guys. Not that any YouTube scouting is fair. But this game put Jackson in a very positive light. It has everything … three-pointers, dunks, effort plays … a crazy rejection of a Marvin Bagley put-back attempt. I’m sure a season-long highlight would have a lot more of that, but I don’t need it. I’m sold on Jackson as a possible NBA star.
15. Mikal Bridges, G/F, Villanova
The Villanova junior has perhaps the most well-rounded YouTube clip in the first round. The producers mixed in dunks, three-pointers, blocked shots and passes. Makes sense … he was kind of a steady presence for NCAA champion Villanova. Bridges probably could have used some high-energy music to emphasize his explosive plays.
16. Mohamed Bamba, C, Texas
Bamba runs the floor well, finishes well and has ridiculous length. But we knew that already. His YouTube clip doesn’t get me any more excited about the Texas big man. I did notice toward the end of the video that Bamba started jacking up more threes. If I was going to produce a Bamba video—which I might just do some day—I’d show only perimeter stuff. The alley-oops and follow-up dunks are too predictable.
17. Chandler Hutchison, F, Boise State
Took a while to find a season-long highlight, but worth the wait. Where has this guy been hiding? Hutchison’s highlights have a little bit of everything—dunks, long three-pointers, great handle. The only downside is a lack of context because most of us probably don’t recognize anyone he’s playing against. It’s one thing to beat a North Carolina player … another to cross over a guy from Utah State. And for some reason the camera seems unusually far away from the court.
18. Landry Shamet, G, Wichita State
Fascinating clip. On almost every play we get to see the 15 seconds of basketball before Shamet actually makes a move. Builds up our expectations a bit… but it usually ends with Shamet hitting a 12-foot jumper or completing a finger roll. Shamet has some old-man game in him… at the 6:00-minute mark he has three head fakes in one play and goes up and under. That aspect of his game reminds me a bit of former Shocker Fred VanVleet. At the very least, this clip makes you want to find out more about Shamet.
19. Khyri Thomas, G, Creighton
Thomas is hurt because most of his highlights are below the rim. But the producers at “NBA Draft Junkies” did him a favor by breaking down his skills with graphic cards like “Three-point shooting,” “Transition Defense” and “Passing/Court Vision.” The organization of the clip helps make up for the lack of wow plays. One thing that stands out… Thomas’ outside shot is nice. Stats confirm that 41% from three-point range. His shooting percentage in the clip: Tied for first among this whole class at 100 percent.
19. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, G, Kentucky
There are moments during the highlight when I feel like I’m watching Malik Monk or De’Aaron Fox’s from last year. But there’s too much mid-range game in this reel. NBA teams would be wise to dig deeper and watch some full game tapes.
20. Wendell Carter Jr., F/C, Duke
How come all the big men in this Draft can shoot threes so well? At least on YouTube. Carter’s highlight could easily be confused with the Bagley and Jaren Jackson clips. It just lacks that special sauce. You can tell Carter is really good. Not sure you’re going to buy a ticket to see him next season. My favorite part of this highlight was the play-by-play man uttering “Good Heavens” when Carter blocked North Carolina’s Luke May with two hands.
21. Kevin Huerter, G, Maryland
I was curious who Huerter would be compared to on Draft night—J.J. Redick? Doug McDermott? He looks a little bit like Steve Blake in the Terps uniform. Depends which link you click on … there’s a few dunks out there, a lot of three-pointers and one fascinating video breakdown of how his shot compares to Klay Thompson. But I had trouble getting a feel for this guy on YouTube. From what I’m reading, a lot of NBA teams are hoping he falls to them. Maybe GMs have been using their burner accounts to bury Huerter highlights.
22. Aaron Holiday, G, UCLA
Holiday appears to be a very solid basketball player. In other words, he’s just not a YouTube guy. Then again, neither is his brother Jrue, and he’s pretty good in the NBA. So I hope my write-up won’t scare teams away from the UCLA guard.
23. Mitchell Robinson, C, Chalmette (La.) High School
The people who produced this video put in a ton of effort so I’m going to move Robinson up a bit. It patiently explains where Robinson came from and why he didn’t play college basketball last season. There’s a long sub-section on Robinson’s connection to former UNC star Shammond Williams and how that led to Robinson leaving Western Kentucky. And they include some random stuff about Thon Maker. There actually aren’t a lot of highlights, but there is hysterical footage of Robinson towering over high schoolers and rejecting shots into the crowd.
24. Troy Brown, G/F, Oregon
My first search led to controversial results: An NFL Films list of top 10 Patriots of all time with the former receiver Troy Brown at No. 7. That seemed high to me. He’s not better than Wes Welker. Welker had five seasons of over 1,000 yards receiving and led the NFL in catches three times … but I digress. As for the NBA draft prospect…. Not much to get me excited in this clip. Lots of contested 8-foot shots. Seems like a tough kid whose game aligns more to reality than YouTube.
25. Josh Okogie, SG, Georgia Tech
Happened upon a clip with sound bites from coach Josh Pastner and a teammate who praise Okogie’s “high motor.” Consistent effort and tenacious defense are detriments in this particular mock draft. Okogie seems like a perfectly nice player but his highlights are kind of lame. Although, he does have a nasty block of a Luke May shot. Come to think of it, most of these clips feature blocked shots of the North Carolina star.
26. Melvin Frazier, G/F, Tulane
At the :37 mark, Frazier has a crazy dunk on … you guessed it, Luke May. May is like the Samuel L. Jackson of this mock draft… he’s in almost every clip. Overall, a nice highlight but nothing we haven’t seen before. But it did lead me into a Marvis Frazier YouTube wormhole. If you haven’t seen it yet, enjoy his 30-second bout against Mike Tyson from 1986.
27. Keita Bates-Diop, F, Ohio State
The first video to come up for Bates-Diop is titled “Meet the Metrics.” The Big Ten Network takes a deeper look at the numbers with voice-over and graphics. Did you know Bates-Diop is producing 1.2 points per possession? Helpful information, but it kinds of sucks the joy out of a YouTube highlight.
28. Eli Okobo, G, Pau-Orthez
This is a surprisingly comprehensive overview of Okobo’s game. But the whole time I was watching I kept coming back to one thought—he reminds me of Frank Ntilikina last season. Which leads to—how did the Knicks take Ntilikina over Donovan Mitchell!?! Hard to get much of a sense of how Okobo will fit in the NBA because the European defense is particularly bad in this video.
29. Bruce Brown Jr., G, Miami
Workmanlike at best. The most exciting moments are passes to Lonnie Walker. I kept asking myself if this guy is a guard or forward. Brown seems like he could be an effective wing defender—three words you never want associated with your YouTube reel.
30. Dzanan Musa, SF, KK Cedevita
Perhaps the most interesting clip of the year. Besides the fact that he’s playing in alarmingly empty gyms and has a bizarre black eye mask that makes him look like a caped crusader, the producers at Draft Express include a negative section on Musa. In the first half of the video, he can’t miss from 30 feet. Then we see he actually puts up air balls and gets his shot blocked. I’m sorry… YouTube isn’t supposed to a place for realism. It hurt Musa tremendously in this mock draft.