NBA Draft 2021: Joshua Christopher, Marcus Bagley among top California prospects

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NBA Draft

Arizona State NBA Draft (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Last week, I took a look at some of the top NBA Draft prospects in 2020 in the state of California. I focused on surefire one-and-done caliber guys with All-American potential.

This week, I shifted my focus to California prospects who could play in college for a few years. Ultimately though, I believe all of these guys are NBA players. Let’s dive into the next batch of talented prospects from California.

Josh Christopher – Arizona State – 6’5 – 215 pounds – December 2001

From a watchability standpoint, few 2020 prospects are more enjoyable than Josh Christopher. He uses his elite blend of shot-making and jaw-dropping athleticism to create highlight-reel plays.

Offensively, Christopher is a plus scorer. He’s got good speed to get to the rim and when he’s there, he uses his explosiveness to finish. Christopher is interesting as a shooter. He can hit catch-and-shoot shots but has a slow-release with a major dip. He takes and makes a lot of contested shots, but it’s concerning he couldn’t create more space. His team context at Mayfair didn’t help him as he was constantly facing double-teams.

As a playmaker, Christopher impressed me. He had better vision than I anticipated and can zip passes off the dribble. He’s got a solid handle but it’s his elite speed that allows him to blow past defenders.

Defensively, Christopher was asked to play down low in high school when in reality he’ll be a wing defender at the next level. He uses his strength and speedwell and could be very good on that end, but he’s sometimes too aggressive when gambling on passes. He could definitely provide some weak side rim protection at Arizona State.

In Tempe, Christopher will be playing alongside two other ball-dominant scorers in Alonzo Verge and Remy Martin. There’s a scenario where the veterans take the pressure off of Christopher and he gets a ton of open looks and opportunities to attack closeouts. But it could also go south with all of three guys wanting the ball a ton and not being comfortable without it. If all three buy-in, no team in the Pac-12 has a higher ceiling than the Sun Devils.

From an NBA Draft standpoint, Christopher’s sheer physical tools should keep him in the first round. I do question his feel a bit and how good of a shooter he actually is, but there’s enough of a base with upside to be a first-round and maybe even late lottery guy.

NBA Draft Projection: 2021 first round

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