Even the top NBA prospects have at least one weakness or flaw that can worry lottery teams.
With that in mind, we’ve pointed out the potential problems that could cause each to struggle early or fail to meet the hype. Some are related to physical limitations, while others are tied to certain styles or underdeveloped skills.
New red flags are likely to pop up during the pre-draft process, too, when teams conduct interviews and receive medical reports.
Here’s a look at the potential concerns for the projected top-14 picks from Bleacher Report’s most recent mock draft.

Red flags: Self-creation and shooting legitimacy for NBA scoring
While scouts value Anthony Black’s versatility and two-way playmaker archetype, they do have questions about his skill set and athleticism for scoring in the NBA half court.
A lack of explosiveness off the dribble, suspect pull-up (14 makes, 32.6 percent) and a limited comfort level from three (26 makes, 31 games) are behind his pedestrian 14.7 points per 40 minutes.
He uses his size, changing speeds and runner touch often in ball-screen situations. But he’s a more effective creator for others than himself, and his perimeter shot-making results suggest he’s multiple years away from consistently threatening from behind the arc.
He’s still considered safe and likely to play a Dyson Daniels Swiss Army Knife role or even mirror a jumbo playmaker like Josh Giddey. The fear is that he won’t offer significant firepower from the backcourt or wing.


flag: Lack of creation flashes
Gradey Dick’s path to upside is the only thing scouts have red-flagged about his projection.
There’s some hesitation about how effectively he’ll create his own shot against NBA defenses. With just one isolation possession all season, Dick hasn’t showcased much one-one-on-one separation ability. A low assist (9.4 percent)
and free-throw rate (3.2 attempts per 40 minutes) also highlight a lack of creativity, quick-twitch movement and explosiveness.
Scouts detect a high floor propped up by 6’8″ size, elite shooting, athletic finishing and high-IQ play at both ends. But there haven’t been many prospects to mirror Klay Thompson’s path to stardom with mostly off-ball scoring.
So far this season, Dick has shot 28.9 percent off screens. Can he reach near Thompson levels of lethal as a spot-up and movement shooter? Or does he have a realistic chance to become a more threatening creator off the dribble?


flags: Shot selection/inconsistency
Scouts want to know if Keyonte George’s inconsistency is a red-flag warning about shot selection and finishing issues that result in streaky scoring that NBA coaches typically prefer off the bench.
The percentage of tough shots he’s taken has contributed to his 38.9 field-goal percentage. Confidence and shot-making skill can work for and against him.
Of his 113 catch-and-shoot attempts, 75 have been considered “guarded” by Synergy Sports. George’s scoring repertoire is pull-up heavy, which can allow him to get his own shot and score in bunches, but it can also mean a heavy dose of contested long twos and threes.
And while he’s demonstrated the handle and burst to split defenders and penetrate, he doesn’t have the greatest finishing feel or explosiveness (53.9 percent at rim). For a super high-usage guard (31.0 percent), he’s only recorded three dunks all season.

Red flags: Off-the-dribble limitations
Shooting 41.3 percent from three with 51 blocks, 27 steals and convincing defensive mobility, Taylor Hendricks has checked the right boxes for teams to project a safe, three-and-D fit. His limitations off the dribble just lead to questions about his offensive upside.
Hendricks appears more effective as a play-finisher—both as a catch-and-shoot weapon and dunker—than a creator or go-to scorer. His handle isn’t the tightest. It takes him extra time to get to spots on the floor once he puts it down. His delivery is choppy when trying to make a play for himself.
Despite solid tools and athletic ability, he’s only made 45.3 percent of his lay-ups (17th percentile), while a 9.2 assist percentage reflects limited creation and playmaking-4 potential.
Based on Hendrick’s current game, he projects more as a complementary third or fourth option, and not a scorer teams will feature in the near future.

Red flag: Shot selection/decision-making for ball-dominator
Between the positional strength/explosiveness, ball-handling and finishing creativity, setup ability, tough shot-making and G League production, the team drafting second should be willing to bet on Scoot Henderson cutting down on the low-percentage shots and unforced mistakes.
But they do appear in practically each of the 19-year-old’s game’s for Ignite. Henderson averages 4.5 mid-range attempts, the second-most in the G League, according to its website, yet he’s only making 36.8 percent of them. Twelve of the 13 NBA players averaging at least 4.0 mid-range jumpers a game are shooting over 40.0 percent on those shots, per NBA.com.
While Henderson has made some progress with his three-point shooting, he’s still at 32.8 percent on low volume for a lead guard (2.7 attempts in 29.8 minutes). He clearly has more confidence inside the arc, where he can get off his pull-up and step-back. Those attempts are just often challenged or forced when there isn’t driving space.
His 3.5 turnovers per game are less of an issue for scouts, given his age, role and the competition he’s facing compared to college point guards. Still, Henderson can stand to resist some urges and play more under control in certain spots.

Red flags: Burst on the ball, skill set off the ball
Ideally, Jalen Hood-Schifino works as a 6’6″ lead ball-handler. But he lacks burst for putting pressure on the rim. His 70 attempts around the basket are low for a starting guard playing 32.6 minutes a game. Despite his size, he’s only had three dunks this season and finished layups at just a 49.2 percent clip.
Hood-Schifino will also be one of the draft’s least efficient transition weapons (20th percentile), another reflection of his athletic limitations.
The inability to hit the jets may also contribute to his preference for taking mid-range jumpers—although, he’s made them at an impressive rate.
Coaches will deem him more of a combo if he struggles to blow by defenders at the point of attack. But he’s also struggled off the ball, grading in the 19th percentile as a spot-up player, shooting just 26.3 percent on non-dribble jumpers and 28.6 percent on drives by closeouts. He also hasn’t been used or effective as a cutter this season (1-of-6).

Red flag: Converting off self-creation
Each NBA front office will investigate and make their own conclusions about Brandon Miller’s ties to the killing of Jamea Jonae Harris in a shooting. His involvement is currently teams’ biggest red flag. As CNN’s Ben Morse wrote:
“A law enforcement officer testified that former Alabama player Darius Miles, who was arrested for his alleged involvement in a shooting that killed Harris last month, had texted Miller to bring Miles’ gun to the scene where the shooting happened, according to CNN affiliate WBMA.”
Miller has not been charged with a crime and has continued to play for Alabama.
From a basketball evaluation standpoint, however, Miller’s creation effectiveness and finishing off self-created shots have raised the most questions, particularly for a prospect mostly valued for scoring.
He’s a combined 40-of-117 (34.2 percent) on isolation and pick-and-roll ball-handling possessions, grading in the 28th percentile converting lay-ups (49.1 percent). Of his 97 field-goal attempts out of spot-ups, he’s only recorded five successful drives to the basket. Of his 195 made field goals, 133 have been off either transition, catch-and-shoot chances or offensive rebounds.
Miller has made encouraging adjustments/improvements to his finishing off drives. But he does lack a degree of burst off the dribble and explosiveness around the basket without an open runway.

Red flag: Lack of point guard reps and rim attempts
Arkansas has given Anthony Black the majority of lead ball-handler and decison-maker reps. With 22 assists through 12 games, Nick Smith Jr. hasn’t been able to sell himself as a point guard. And that would have been key, as teams may now have to project the effectiveness of his 185-pound frame and lack of explosion when guarded by NBA shooting guards.
In the half court, he’s taken 83 jumpers and 40 floaters to 24 attempts at the rim. The eye test indicates that Smith prefers to avoid contact and opts for running touch shots instead. An extremely low defensive rebounding rate (6.4 percent) may also highlight his discomfort with physicality. Only DJ Augustin, Jimmer Fredette, Nolan Smith, Johnny Flynn, Marquis Teague, Gary Harris, Davion Mitchell and Norris Cole went first round after registering a lower rebounding percentage than 7.0, per Barttorvik.com.
Lacking explosion with a slight frame, Smith’s shot-making execution and touch will have to be extremely sharp, especially if he only offers limited playmaking value.
Red flag: Shooting problems and their affect on upside
The debate around Amen Thompson focuses on his shooting limitations and how they’ll affect his scoring ability and trajectory.
He made just 16 threes (25.4 percent) in 21 games (regular season and playoffs) while shooting 68.8 percent from the free-throw line. Normally, for a 20-year-old guard or wing, this level of ineffectiveness would be perceived as too problematic for a top-five pick, especially one playing against high-schoolers.
Thompson isn’t normal, however, in a good way, given the rarity and functionality of his special blend of 6’7″ size, elite quickness, pogo-stick bounce, coordination and ball-handling skill, and vision for playmaking.
Regardless of what position he’s labeled, Thompson is optimized on the ball, given the advantages he creates with his first step, long strides, elusiveness, passing and ability to separate just by elevating over defenders in the lane.
There aren’t many examples of non-centers without three-balls scoring and generating star-caliber offensive production. Thompson doesn’t have Giannis Antetokounmpo’s size or strength or DeMar DeRozan’s mid-range shot-making. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is an outlier who’s become an elite scorer by leading the league with a whopping 24.3 drives per game, per NBA.com. Ja Morant is right behind him at 21.1 drives per game, and Thompson possesses similar shiftiness and burst match that type of frequent penetration.
Morant also went from 0.9 three-point makes as a rookie (33.5 percent) to 1.6 makes in 2022-23. Lottery teams interested in Thompson will be hoping for that kind of improvement—or for one of the league’s most unstoppable drivers.
Red flag: Weaknesses (shooting, decision-making) create inefficiency
Speed, quickness and leaping will regularly put Ausar Thompson in high-percentage scoring situations. The fear around him stems from his marginal shooting improvement, bad misses and decision-making. Is he skilled enough and wired to score efficiently in the half court?
Athleticism for transition offense, slashing, catching lobs and defense should translate quickly and reduce the risk tied to Thompson. But there will be some gambling or guesswork when it comes to his shooting development. Roughly the same age as NCAA sophomores, Thompson shot 33.3 percent (99 attempts) from three against high-schoolers (regular season and playoffs), often running into cold streaks that extinguished excitement over the sporadic hot shooting nights. He finished at 69.2 percent from the free-throw line.
On the ball, he’s prone to forcing plays, leaving the floor without a plan and losing the ball on drives. The turnovers and inconsistent shot-making paint Thompson as raw and further away than some of the other top prospects.

Red flags: Creation and shooting legitimacy
Versatility and physical tools for finishing and defense will drive Jarace Walker’s value early in his career. Scouts ask about which of his offensive skills project as above-average for consistent half-court offense.
He’s been capable from three 35.8 percent, but it’s been on low volume (2.7 attempts), while a 61.7 free-throw percentage makes it tough to expect reliable shooting in his early NBA years.
Creating for himself out of spot-ups, he’s shown he can attack closeouts, but he’s struggled to convert layups off those drives (12-of-40), leading to an excess of tougher touch shots when he has tremendous strength to finish through contact.
Just 6-of-21 out of isolation and 9-of-21 on post-ups, Walker has delivered flashes of self-creation, but he hasn’t executed consistently enough for NBA teams to confidently project a featured scorer.

Red flags: Self-creation limitations, free-throw rate
Projectable shooting, efficient playmaking numbers and standout defense have scouts picturing minimal risk and an easy fit with Cason Wallace. Their only question concerns whether he possesses the shiftiness and explosion for the type of shot-creation that typically fuels upside for a guard.
He’s mostly a “take what the defense gives up” type of scorer, which still works and translates to efficient offense. It just leaves him vulnerable to quiet games (fewer than eight points 12 times) and makes it tougher to picture a top option.
His preferred method for shot-creation is typically ball-screen drives and basic stop-and-pop jumpers in space.
Wallace has attempted just 63 free throws in 920 minutes, one of the lowest rates among previous first-round ball-handlers.

Red flag: Lack of historic success and durability in players
The measurements that make Victor Wembanyama so alluring may also strike the most fear in the eventual lottery winner. How many NBA players over 7’2″ have held up physically and dominated over long periods of time?
The latest reports have the 19-year-old at 7’5″ in sneakers. And while that height and 8’0″ wingspan create spectacular advantages for creation separation, finishing and defense, is it worth worrying about the injury history tied to previous pros with his rare body type?
Since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the only players at least 7’2″ to average 15 points in a season are: Krisptaps Porzingis, Yao Ming, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Rik Smits, Arvydas Sabonis, Dikembe Mutombo and Ralph Sampson.
Coming into 2022-23, Porzingis has played just 337 of 557 possible games, missing 220 mostly because of low-leg injuries. Ming played roughly three full seasons before the breakdown started that forced him to miss huge chunks of seasons and all of 2009-10 before he decided to retire early. Ilgauskas eventually stuck around after a foot injury cost him his rookie season, all but five games in 1998-99, the entire 1999-2000 season and 78 games over the next two seasons. Foot and back problems/surgeries hampered Smits for the second half of his career, while knee and back problems contributed to Sampson averaging just 35.5 games over the final six years of his nine-year career.
Mutombo’s game didn’t call for any of the perimeter-movement that Wembanyama’s will, and Sabonis, who didn’t make his NBA debut til he was 30, was reportedly around 280 pounds.
The lottery winner will ultimately be betting on unprecedented skill and durability for a player with Wembanyama’s size and projected usage.

Red flag: Assist numbers
Cam Whitmore’s explosive dunks, physical finishes, self-creation moves off the bounce and shooting flashes create visions of an all-star wing. What do the 16 assists in 654 minutes say?
The only prospects under 6’8″ to be drafted in the first round who had college seasons with an assist percentage lower than Whitmore’s 5.9 percent are, per Barttorvik.com: Kenneth Faried, Omari Spellman, Larry Nance Jr., Christian Braun, Lazar Hayward, Keegan Murray, Rui Hachimura, Josh Huestis, Shabazz Muhammed, TJ Warren and Corey Kispert.
Whitmore’s passing numbers aren’t a deal-breaker when it comes to projecting NBA potential, and we’ve seen recent examples of wings improving their playmaking, like Braun. But the track record for low-assist wings becoming star-caliber players isn’t good, and Whitmore is currently perceived as a surefire top-10 pick.
The Villanova freshman has used his handle almost exclusively for beating his man into drives and stepping back into three-pointers. The low assist rate reflects tunnel vision off the dribble, overdetermination to get a bucket, suspect decision-making and occasional poor passing accuracy.
Stats courtesy of Synergy Sports, Sports-Reference.com




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