On the eve of the draft, here is a look at the first round with explainations and rationale behind each pick. Version 7.3.
|1.||Ben Simmons 6-10 240 SF/PF LSU Fr.||How quickly people tend to forget. It was just a few months ago that Ben Simmons was taking college basketball by storm, having one of the best starts and first few months of any freshman over the past 20 plus years. Simmons had an unceremonious end to the season, failing to guide a young LSU team with chemistry problems and a horrific coach into the Big Dance. But his stats on the year speak for themself. And for all the negativity surrounding him in the media, scouts remain high on him. Was he a great student? No. Did he disrupt the "sanctity" of college basketball? Maybe in some minds. But does that mean he has character issues? No. Simmons comes from a strong family background, and his father played professionally in Australia, so Ben grew up with multiple advantages for a young basketball prodigy. The notion that he somehow has character concerns is pure propaganda. Simmons combines high level athleticism and size with legitimate point guard vision and creativity. Ingram finished the year with more momentum, but Simmons ability to impact games and greater chance to be a franchise talent ultimately makes him the pick.
Why Philadelphia takes Ben Simmons: Simmons finally had his workout with Philly and also has been announced as the team’s pick. They could do a lot worse than to start fresh with a legitimate potential franchise player in Simmons. Now they just need to make moves to make the pieces around him fit.
NBA Comparison: LeBron James/Lamar Odom
||Brandon Ingram 6-9 195 SF Duke Fr.||He came into the season as an intriguing prospect, but nobody figured he would challenge for the #1 overall pick, or develop as quickly as he did. He combines condor length (7’3 wingspan) with a sweet stroke and a smooth floor game. While he may lack great explosiveness and quickness, and possess a frail body, he does show a willingness to fight through contact. The Curry factor has obviously helped him, with Ingram’s stellar outside shooting ability. The key for Ingram will be how he’s able to add muscle to his body, in order to defend, and how that added muscle affects his speed and mobility.
Why the LA Lakers take Ingram: There are some reports that the team could look to move DeAngelo Russell on draft night for a top 5 pick, after extensive looks at players such as Buddy Hield. Could swapping Russell for Okafor be a positive, fresh start for both players? Other reports have the Lakers passing on Ingram and taking Buddy Hield after his impressive workout. Look for none of these scenarios to actually happen and the team to add Ingram as the new face of the franchise on Thursday night.
NBA Comparison: Kevin Durant/Tayshaun Prince
||Kris Dunn 6-4 220 PG Providence Jr.||Dunn is a dynamic, true point guard with elite size and speed that steadily improved upon his weaknesses, namely decision making and shooting. Those are areas that continue to need honing, however he’s got "something special" as one scout put it. His defensive intensity and potential have drawn comparisons to players such as John Wall and Gary Payton from scouts. He still must become much more consistent as a shooter to reach that level, however. Dunn has a charisma and confidence about him that can carry him to becoming a great player in the league someday.
Why Boston takes Kris Dunn: This projected pick is taking into consideration that there’s a good chance that the pick gets moved. If not, Marquese Chriss or Dragan Bender are both upside picks that Boston could decide upon. Dunn would give them an additional point guard to platoon with Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley and Marcus Smart.
||Jaylen Brown 6-6 225 SG/SF California Fr.||Nicknamed "old man" by his Mom, Brown does everything very deliberately. He moves slow, talks slow and walks slow, and actually likes the nickname given by his mother. But on the floor, he’s anything but slow. Brown is a terror in the open floor, utilizing his superior speed, athleticism and raw power to get to the rim. His jumpshot, despite average percentages, is underrated. His floor game continues to progress, and he’s begun to put together moves to get by opponents, which makes for a deadly mix. Brown is a thoughtful, introspective kid with high character and superstar upside. He possesses the same elite athleticism as Jason Richardson, only with more size and strength.
Why Phoenix takes Jaylen Brown: Brown has a little more of a track record than fellow freshman phenom Marquese Chriss, and while the Suns are in greater need of a 4, it’s unlikely the team would draft for need this high in the draft. Brown would pair well with sweet shooting Devin Booker as an ultra athletic 3.
||Buddy Hield 6-5 215 SG Oklahoma Sr.||Buddy Hield squashed the notion that he’s an undersized SG with his superb 6-9 wingspan on a 6-5 frame, and 8-5 standing reach measurements, at the NBA draft combine. Hield capped off a tremendous Senior year by not only winning a number of National Player of the Year awards, but guiding the Sooners to the Final Four. He’s improved considerably as a shooter and shot creator but can still improve his handle. He is a kid with a terrific attitude and a polished skill set. Buddy is a dangerous offensive player, showing the ability to score in a variety of ways as well as facilitate. His quick trigger and excellent ability to get shots off combined with a strong will to win and improve himself makes him a prospect with a lot of intrigue. He measured better than expected at the combine at a legit 6’5 with a 6’9 wingspan and a 8’5 standing reach, all very solid numbers for an NBA shooting guard. He also has a strong build and sneaky athleticism. For a player that wasn’t even on some pundit’s first round projections coming into the season, Hield helped his cause as much as anyone.
Why Minnesota takes Buddy Hield: Minnesota seems to be actively trying to move this pick to surround their young core with a veteran, which could launch them more quickly into a playoff contender in the West. Group think seems to favor Murray over Hield due to his age. But does Murray really have much upside left to develop?
NBA Comparison: Brandon Roy
||Jamal Murray 6-4 205 SG/PG Kentucky Fr.||Murray raised eyebrows before the season began flourishing at the Pan Am games in the summer while running the show for the Canadian National Team. He played very well as a freshman at Kentucky and improved as the season progressed. Playing alongside one of the top floor generals in the nation, in Ulis, meant playing strictly off the ball. It may have stunted his point guard skills to a degree, but it has helped him at becoming better playing off the ball. There’s no questioning Murray’s leadership and maturity. He’s proven over both his high school and Canadian National team performances that he’s an extremely composed and a clutch performer. While he played solely at the shooting guard position at Kentucky, his potential ability to log minutes at the point also gives him intrigue.
Why New Orleans takes Jamal Murray: The Pelicans would probably prefer to see Dunn available here, but Murray is a very solid kid with a high floor. There is some optimism that he can develop into a point guard, which he played in high school. But his lack of speed, which makes the CJ McCollum comparisons farfetched, likely limits him to being a 2 guard. He is a bit longer than some reports have stated as he measured at 8’4.5" in his first year and then a 8’2.5" standing reach in his 2nd year at the Hoop Summit, which is probably more accurate than the 8’1" he measured at the Kentucky Combine.
NBA Comparison: Ben Gordon
||Dragan Bender 7-0 220 PF Croatia 1997||Bender couldn’t have picked a better draft to be in with the success of Kristaps Porzingis and the lack of elite talent in the high lottery. While Bender lacks Porzingis’ size, he may be an even better shooter. He built a big reputation in junior events in his age group. Unfortunately he hasn’t been able to play much this season from his Israeli team. He played very well in an exhibition game before the season in Chicago, with a lot of scouts in attendance. His competitiveness and scoring ability give him a lot of potential, however his body needs to get a lot stronger. With excellent size, quickness, shooting and determination, Bender figures to be off the board quickly, despite not having a large sample size at the senior level in Europe.
Why Denver takes Dragan Bender: The Nuggets seem to be Bender’s backstop as there’s speculation he could go 3 or 4, but more and more chatter has him falling to 7 where Denver, who has a heavy International focus would likely gobble him up. Bender had a rough season, and needs time before he can begin to realize his talent.
NBA Comparison: Hedo Turkoglu
||Domantas Sabonis 6-10 240 PF Gonzaga So.||Sabonis may not look like a lottery pick at first glance, but it’s the heart and intangibles that he brings to the table that makes him such a valuable player. Sabonis lacks the elite run, jump athleticism generally associated with standout players, yet his ability to impact games with his strength, toughness and basketball IQ make him a sure bet to have a successful NBA career. He’s a much better shooter in practice than he’s shown in games to this point, and could potentially have a NBA 3 point shot in his repertoire down the road. He proved himself as a clutch, tough nosed competitor in the NCAA tournament, getting the upper hand on Jahlil Okafor in the freshmen match up last season and guiding the Zags to a Sweet Sixteen appearance this year.
Why Sacramento takes Domantas Sabonis: The Kings are in need of a power forward and while there may be a few players that offer more upside, for a team under pressure to produce (Sam Hinkie fleeced them out of a number of future picks), Sabonis makes perfect sense as a guy that can be an instant contributor. His emotional leadership is a big bonus. Vlade is said to love the kid, and happens to be friends with his Dad (Arvydas).
||Marquese Chriss 6-10 235 PF Washington Fr.||
Chriss probably should be returning to Washington and working on his game, but when you blow up with the type of freshman season that he had, and are a projected lotto pick, it’s hard to fault his decision. He is a candidate to spend the next 2-3 years in the D-League before being able to contribute to an NBA team. His upside is considerable, as he shows good touch out to 15 feet and is a freaky run/jump athlete with NBA PF size at 6-10 with a 7-foot wingspan. His body language on the floor and interactions with refs expose his lack of maturity, though he’s in fact a bright kid and engineer major.
Why Toronto takes Marquese Chriss: Some other players have been linked to this pick, such as Jakob Poeltl. It’s possible that Chriss’s upside will be too much to pass on before this pick, but as the biggest boom or bust pick, who’s probably the furthest from contributing, Chriss could be the guy that falls. The Raptors are known for valuing athleticism, so Chriss fits that to a tee. Toronto got this pick by fleecing the Knicks out of it for Bargnani a few seasons back.
NBA Comparison: Tyrus Thomas
||Deyonta Davis 6-10 240 PF/C Michigan St. Fr.||Davis looks like a future all star when you string together a highlight reel of his best plays. The problem is that those highlights were few and far between and much of the time he seemed content just to be on the floor instead of being an impact guy at all times. How much of his reluctance to shoot and be productive was due to him, his desire not to "rock the boat", or whether he was following the coaching staff’s wishes, is the big question. He is very athletic and agile for his size at 240 lbs, and a huge 6-10 frame with a 7-2 wingspan. He also shows some nice touch with both hands around the basket. His confidence and feel for the game need some improvement. Davis becomes just the second one and done player under Tom Izzo with Zach Randolph being the first. With his upside, he figures to challenge for a late lottery spot, if teams are impressed with him in interviews and workouts.
Why Milwaukee takes Deyonta Davis: Davis would help bolster the Bucks frontcourt and also gives nice potential for the future. This team could be losing Greg Monroe, so a young bigman with athleticism and strength would offer a solid long term replacement.
NBA Comparison: Antonio Davis
||Skal Labissiere 7-0 215 PF/C Kentucky Fr.||
In a draft year with a lot of polarizing players, Skal gets the award for being the most polarizing. Some continue to point back to how dominant he looked at last year’s Hoop Summit, while others feel that that was misleading considering the opponents he faced and him rising so fast into the top pick discussion never having been legitimate. His season at Kentucky certainly did his draft stock no favors. He’s an extremely sensitive kid. And the constant challenges from Coach Cal which bring out the best in many kids, had the opposite effect on him. Regardless, the hype and expectations that has been placed upon him also did him no favors as many were as quick to dismiss him as they were to overhype him. Labissiere is still new to the game, and his feel and the speed of high level competition is still something that he’s adjusting to. There’s a lot of talent here, with his tremendous shooting ability, along with high level size and mobility. He doesn’t seem to understand how to utilize his athleticism and may never fully realize his considerable upside, but there’s still a lot to work with and he could really thrive if the right coach believes in him and builds up his confidence.
Why Orlando takes Skal Labissiere: The Magic have a solid roster but lack shooters and overall talent. Skal would offer a nice compliment to the athletic Aaron Gordon at the power forward position, and give them a player with high upside to develop.
NBA Comparison: Channing Frye
||Furkan Korkmaz 6-7 175 SG Turkey 1997||
Korkmaz is a wiry guard with an advanced offensive game for his age. He’s a good leaper, having won dunk contests and shows solid explosiveness. He’s not incredibly quick, so defense and creating shots against high level athletes could be a challenge. He has struggled to gain playing time this season, on powerhouse Turkish team Anadolu Efes. Regardless, European scouts are very high on him and feel that he is one of the top wing prospects available for this year’s draft. Korkmaz should be able to compete for a lottery spot if he impresses teams in workouts.
Why Atlanta takes Furkan Korkmaz: The Hawks were obviously targeting someone when they moved Teague and acquired the 12th pick. To get in front of teams like Denver and Chicago, the player that makes a lot of sense for them is Korkmaz who could develop into the team’s shooting guard of the future alongside Schroeder.
NBA Comparison: Evan Fournier
||Jakob Poeltl 7-1 240 C Utah So.||Poeltl showed a nice jump in development from his freshman to sophomore season. He may not be the most fluid player, but he has great length and speed in the open floor. Some question his upside and ability to become a star. But if you’re looking for a solid big with character and work ethic, Poeltl fits the bill. His post skills show some signs of improvement, and his defense also shows a lot of promise. He’s added an effective up and under move and really commands the ball in the half court, when isolating against his man. He’s good at finishing plays in the open floor as he’s very fluid and has great feet. He still has a ways to go in polishing his offensive game, but his potential as a two way player and ability to be a rim protector makes him very intriguing.
Why Phoenix takes Jakob Poeltl: The Suns frontcourt needs help. They could opt for more of a power forward here, but Poeltl would offer depth behind Tyson Chandler and Alex Len. Chandler is getting up there in age and may not fit into their plans going forward.
NBA Comparison: Bill Wennington
||Wade Baldwin 6-4 200 PG/SG Vanderbilt So.||Wade Baldwin combines great size and length with an aggressive scoring mindset. He was very efficient shooting the ball from outside and improved in his ability to effectively run the team. While there are some who feel he’s more of a combo guard and question his decision making skills, thre’s no questioning his near 7-foot wingspan, and how that helps on defense.
Why Chicago takes Wade Baldwin: The Bulls parted ways with hometown Derrick Rose, and start fresh. It is probably asking too much of Baldwin to expect him to be a starting point guard any time i nthe near future. While we consider him to be a major reach here, the team has to address the point guard position, word is that Baldwin is high on their list.
NBA Comparison: Spencer Dinwiddie
||Dejounte Murray 6-5 170 PG/SG Washington Fr.||
Murray is still a long ways from a finished product and like his teammate Marquese Chriss, the team that selects him will have to be extremely patient. But on talent he’s among the top 5-10 players in this year’s draft. His blinding quickness and ability to play relatively under control while operating at a break neck speed makes him extremely unique. Like Beasley, and Chriss for that matter, he was a kid that was somewhat overlooked in high school and leapfrogged many of his classmates into the top handful of prospects. While he shows some ability to run the show from the lead guard position, he appears to be better suited to play the 2. He shows a score first mentality and brings added versatility with his handles and passing. His ball skills are truly elite, which along with his length and quickness allow him to terrorize opponents in ISO situations.
Why Denver takes Dejounte Murray: The Nuggets have 5 overall picks and 3 first rounders. It’s unlikely they can keep all of them so it’s possible this pick or 19 gets moved. Murray would offer a dynamic pairing alongside Mudiay. He’s been mentioned as a guy Denver has been targeting for some time as well.
NBA Comparison: Shaun Livingston
||Henry Ellenson 6-11 245 PF/C Marquette Fr.||Ellenson had a standout freshman season, as Marquette’s top player and will look to parlay that into being a mid-first round pick. He’s a quality kid, who seems to put the team first. And while not the most demonstrative of personalities, he’s young and extremely coachable. For his size, he has versatility with his ability to handle the ball in the open floor and shows face the basket and post skills. While he’s a below average run/jump athlete, his 7-foot-2 wingspan gives him the length to make up for his lack of speed defensively and on the boards. He also shows solid feet with good balance and will surprise you by making plays attacking the rim, despite any real explosiveness. His shooting efficiency still needs work, but he’s developed a reputation for being a quality shooter and should find a role in the league as a stretch four.
Why Boston takes Henry Ellenson: There’s a good chance that Ellenson will be off the board by this pick. If not, Ellenson gives the Boston frontcourt a potential stretch four to groom for the future. Depending on what they do with their first pick, the power forward position offers a lot of value in this range with other possiblities including Brice Johnson and Deyonta Davis.
NBA Comparison: Troy Murphy
||Malik Beasley 6-5 190 SG Florida St. Fr.||One of the surprise breakout freshmen, Beasley showed a smooth shooting stroke along with polished floor skills. He can score in a variety of ways whether it be spotting up or pulling up and he also shows some ability to attack the rim. His poster dunk against Duke showed the athleticism he possesses. He’s a high level shooter and even displays high level ball handling and solid passing. He’s hit a bit of a freshman wall in the latter part of the year, but overall had a very strong body of work.
Why Memphis takes Malik Beasley: Beasley has a green room invite and figures to go somewhere in the mid first round. The Grizz have struggled for some time to add a scorer at the shooting guard position and finally find themselves in a spot where there should be a few available.
NBA Comparison: Devin Booker
||Denzel Valentine 6-5 210 SG/SF Michigan St. Sr.||
Valentine won National Player of the Year over Buddy Hield and impacted games as much as anyone all year. He had an unbelievable season, despite Michigan State’s shocking first round upset loss to Middle Tennessee State. The senior was extremely classy in defeat, showing true heart and leadership in taking responsibility and not pointing any fingers. He’s a difficult player to project as his ability to affect the game in college with his immense ball skills may or may not translate to the next level due to his below average size, speed and athleticism. His knee required arthroscopic surgery forcing him to miss a few weeks of action this year. While he lacks a great first step, he’s become a knockdown shooter and his best attribute is his great vision and passing. He’s got a tremendous basketball IQ and his maturity and attitude should allow to contribute to a winning team, no matter what level of player he becomes.
Why Detroit takes Denzel Valentine: Detroit’s owner and Coach Tom Izzo are extremely tight, so aside from proximity there’s a connection here. Also Van Gundy wants toughnosed players and preferably ones that can come in and produce. Denzel’s knees are a concern, as we reported on twitter. But scouts feel a team in the late teens like Detroit could look past that and draft him anyway.
NBA Comparison: Danny Green
||Timothe Luwawu 6-7 195 SG/SF France 1995||
A 3-and-D type of prospect, Luwawu has been a work in progress since he hit the scene two years ago at the Eurocamp. At the time his was a raw but intriguing wing with good length and athleticism. He flew mostly under the radar for a year and then had a very solid year after moving to Serbian team Mega Leks as he showed some real development in his 3 point shooting and defense. While going as high as lottery is probably being overly optimistic, his defensive and potential should get him looks in the mid-late teens and find a spot somewhere in the mid 20s on draft night. Some still question his feel for the game and toughness, but if he can continue to develop his offensive skills, he should become a contributor at some point in the league.
Why Denver takes Timothe Luwawu: Luwawu’s European team Mega Leks has essentially become the Nugget’s farm team, as a number of players on Denver’s roster share the same agent as Luwawu. Luwawu would give a team like Denver that has multiple picks some flexibility, although he’s in need of heading to the NBA and getting on a better weight training regiment.
NBA Comparison: Thabo Sefolosha
||Malachi Richardson 6-6 200 SG Syracuse Fr.||
With a 21 point second half to knock out 1 seed Virginia and put a Syracuse team that many had out of the tournament field, into the Final Four, it’s no wonder why Malachi has opted to remain in the draft. He’s another long term play as he isn’t likely to contribute much for a few seasons. Combine the fact that he shows the ability to shine in big situations, the fact that he is a great kid with a developing skill set, and the fact that he has a 7-foot wingspan, and you can see why teams feel he has a good chance to be a first rounder this year. Regardless, most scouts would like to see him return to school and improve his shooting and all around efficiency.
Why Indiana takes Malachi Richardson: Malachi has a green room invite and could end up going higher. He’s been very solid in workouts shooting the ball and could offer a replacement for Monta Ellis down the road.
NBA Comparison: Rashad Vaughn
||Cheick Diallo 6-9 220 PF/C Kansas Fr.||
Diallo is another high risk/reward guy after barely seeing the court at Kansas as a freshman. Scouts absolutely rave about this kid’s character saying those around the team (coaches, trainers, medical staff etc.) consider him the best kid in 15-20 years. He’s unorthodox, and is another guy that a team will need to be especially patient with. But there is a lot of talent and potential to be intrigued with in this kid. He was a near unanimous top 5 player in his high school class and dominated practices in front of scouts, not to mention receiving MVP in multiple high profile High School All American showcase games. With Kansas’ stable of frontcourt horses, Diallo was the odd man out. Whether becoming eligible to the team late, lack of readiness, or ulterior motives were responsible for his lack of PT is open to debate. Diallo has been working hard on his shot and with his high motor and character he becomes too enticing to pass up at some point.
Why Atlanta takes Cheick Diallo: Cheick is one of the players that Atlanta is said to be very high on. He may take a while to see the floor, but as he showed at the NBA combine, his length and motor gives him a lot of intrigue. If Atlanta is convinced that Al Horford will leave in free agency, they could target a more ready player such as Damian Jones or Diamond Stone.
NBA Comparison: Kenneth Faried
||Damian Jones 6-11 245 C Vanderbilt Jr.||
When Jones is engaged, he appears to be a future NBA starting center. When he’s not, he looks like a D-League bench warmer. He has obvious NBA run/jump athleticism and intriguing potential as a shooter. His biggest obstacle has been his lack of consistency and focus. He too often disappears for stretches of games, apparently forgetting that he’s the most talented kid on the court and it’s his duty to kick everyone’s butt. He’s got a great attitude off the floor and is certainly coachable, but may be a kid that requires constant motivational support to maximize his abilities. His lack of a great feel for the game and intensity could scare teams and cause him to slide on draft night.
Why Charlotte takes Damian Jones: Jones was one of the few players who got a clean bill of health on his medical reports, but he ended up tearing his pectoral muscle in a workout and is now out for the SL and won’t be back until training camp. Jones likely won’t slide far despite the injury as he’s an athletic big that can shoot it: A hot commodity in today’s NBA.
NBA Comparison: Steven Adams
||Ivica Zubac 7-0 245 C Crotia 1997||
Zubac had an up and down season in which he got injured and struggled for playing time and some felt it would be in his best interest to wait a year before entering his name. But he had a very strong finish to the year with a number of big games and has firmly put himself into the first round due to his great body and offensive touch. He lacks the readiness of countryman Ante Zizic, but possesses a lot more upside due to his frame and offensive abilities.
Why Boston takes Ivica Zubac: There’s an excellent chance this pick will be made for another team as Boston currently has 8 draft picks, and they already have a deep team. Their two options are either to make a package trade for a player or move up, or a bunch of draft and stashing with the solid International crop available.
NBA Comparison: Nenad Krstic
||DeAndre Bembry 6-5 205 SF/SG St. Joseph’s Jr.||
Bembry has been on the rise for the past few months. He had a very solid NBA Draft Combine performance showing better than expected shooting and scoring ability. His best attribute is his vision and passing skills, and he attacks the basket well both off the dribble or filling the lane on the break. While he still has a lot of work to do in the area of defense, shooting and decision making, his upside gives a good chance to find a spot in the first round.
Why Phildelphia takes DeAndre Bembry: Bembry is well liked for his toughness and versatility. While he doesn’t add shooting, which is what they really need, he is a solid value pick in this range. There’s also a good chance Philly’s 24th and 26th picks get moved.
NBA Comparison: Archie Goodwin
||Brice Johnson 6-10 210 PF North Carolina Sr.||
Johnson went from a role player to superstar in his senior season, putting together a season of consistency and dominance. He broke the UNC record with double doubles in a season with 23. So much for the idea that he can’t rebound. While he lacks great strength and much ability to put weight on, his scoring and rebounding numbers in one of the top conferences speaks for itself. Johnson has had one the most impressive individual performance of the season, putting up 37 points and 23 rebounds against Florida State on January 4th. When teammate Kennedy Meeks got injured early in the year, Johnson got a chance to show what he could do as the featured offensive weapon, and never looked back. He’s a long, lean jumping jack with a face up game and a jumpshot that has become a weapon out to 15-18 feet. His emotional maturity will be the key to his success. In the title game he had a bit of a meltdown dealing with frustration, and that’s something that could affect his stock some on draft night.
Why LA Clippers take Brice Johnson: Johnson is a guy who probably ends up in the 20s and is a great value here. While he’s a senior, he’s one of the draft’s premiere athletes, which would fit right into the Clippers frontcourt. Unfortunately he has not had strong workout reports, showing a lack of maturity at times.
NBA Comparison: Taj Gibson
||Demetrius Jackson 6-1 190 PG Notre Dame Jr.||
Jackson is one of the most explosive point guards in the nation. While a bit undersized, he shows solid toughness and great quickness in the open floor. He had some highlight real plays during his career at Notre Dame, as he can really explode at the rim for a little guy. We have him graded out as an early second rounder, but according to sources, he’s likely to find a spot somewhere in the late first on draft night.
Why Philadelphia takes Demetrius Jackson: Jackson could become more of a vocal leader, but for a team searching for an identity, adding a traditional point guard to go along with the 6-foot-10 one they’re likely to grab at #1 would fill a pressing need for them.
NBA Comparison: Jonny Flynn
|27.||Thon Maker 7-0 215 PF Australia HSSr.||
Thon is the draft’s ultimate wildcard as he gathered a lot of hype during his high school career. Is he a guy that peaked at 15 years of age? Is his listed age even legitimate? These questions must be at the very least considered. A year in college may have been positive for his development, but it also may have exposed his weaknesses. Is he the ultimate sleeper or the ultimate tease? We tend to subscribe to the latter in terms of his outlook. He’s a good kid, despite a general consensus that he has questionable advisement. To his credit he has shown a lot of resolve through everything. He moved to the US from Australia, then from a US high school to Canada, graduated last year without announcing it and then declared for the draft after saying he was 100% going to college. This entire scenario was actually quite predictable when you realize that every move has been made with the sole purpose of preserving the hype around him. He did have a dominant NBPA camp last year, but was he even eligible to play there, and how much older actually is he than the kids that he was facing? He hustles down the floor and will battle you for rebounds. And he shows face up potential with an adequate mid-range J. The main issue for him is his lack of body strength. He has a body that just cannot seem to add weight in a constructive basketball sense, in particular his lower body. There are major concerns about his body holding up, as his legs and hips are extremely stiff. He does not get much lift when he faces contact, and the added strength to his upperbody has noticeably slowed his mobility and explosiveness. At one point, there was some unrealistic hype surrounding him with "best prospect in high school" being thrown around. Thon intrigues with his determination, length and skill level, but it would have been nice to see him actually prove it against legitimate competition, particularly since he has regressed and his development has stagnated. Thon figures to find a spot in the first round, but major question marks exist regarding his body holding up to the strength, speed and athleticism of the NBA.
Why Toronto takes Thon Maker: Toronto likes length and athleticism and with International GM Masai Ujiri, Thon has both the African and Canadian connection. Maker could end up going higher, but his lack of experience and readiness might limit his draft ceiling. If Thon can add good weight and his legs hold up, he could end up being a steal at the end of the first round.
NBA Comparison: Chris McCullough
||Stephen Zimmerman 6-11 235 C UNLV Fr.||
A "finesse big", Zimmerman had an up and down, inconsistent freshman season at UNLV, losing two weeks in mid February to a knee injury. But he remains high on scout’s lists due to his size (7-3 wingspan), soft touch and ability to rebound. In limited minutes, his rebounding and shot blocking numbers were solid. He has a good understanding of the game and should be able to put weight on and become stronger and more effective in the post. It would be nice to see more fire and intensity out of the kid, but bigmen often take the longest to figure things out. His upside is likely too much to pass on in the late teens early 20s, despite some fears that "what you see is what you get" with him.
Why Phoenix takes Stephen Zimmerman: Zimmerman could go a little higher, and he could also fall into the 2nd round. He’s a solid athlete and scorer, but struggled to break out as a freshman. Phoenix needs help in their frontcourt, so Zim could certainly fight for minutes.
NBA Comparison: Cole Aldrich
||Juan Hernangomez 6-9 225 PF Spain 1995||
Like his brother Willy, Juancho is ready to come to the NBA next season. He won the ACB’s young player of the year, despite an up and down season. He is a Stretch-4, who can put the ball on the floor and attack closeouts. He’s a bit of a tweener who needs to get stronger, but there is a lot to like with his energy level and skill level.
Why San Antonio takes Juan Hernangomez: Hernangomez is very well liked by scouts and eager to head over to the NBA next season. He gets glowing reviews for character and work ethic and word is the Spurs will gobble him up if he’s here and they keep their pick. Philly is another potential landing spot for "Juancho".
NBA Comparison: Jonas Jerebko
||Taurean Prince 6-8 220 SF Baylor Sr.||
Despite being a senior, Prince has intrigue due to his energy and ability to shoot. While his three point numbers fell off from previous years, he knocked down free throws at a plus 80% clip and shows a versatile all around game. He showed some fire and willingness to fight (even teammates), in Baylor’s first round loss to Yale. He made some great plays at the end of the game including put backs and step back threes, which certainly helped his cause. He’ll look to cement a position in the first round in workouts and interviews with teams.
Why the Warriors take Taurean Prince: The Dubs are coming off a stinging Game 7 loss and will look to add an experienced player like Prince that could potentially come in and contribute. Michigan Senior Caris LeVert would be a value pick, but it’s uncertain when he could play much next year. They already had a redshirt injury guy in Kevon Looney this year, and they don’t have their pick next season.
NBA Comparison: DeMarre Carroll