The NCAA tourney is over and the draft focus now shifts to the NBA Predraft camp, the Draft Lottery and workouts, leading up to the draft. Here is our fourth look at the NBA draft as the order of picks is set, aside from the May 16th lotto, with the NBA playoffs underway.
|1.||Markelle Fultz 6-4 185 PG Washington Fr.||The team that wins the top pick could factor into things. But, Fultz is the likely pick here. There were NBA scouts who said they felt Fultz would be the number one pick going into the season. And while his play throughout the year wasn’t consistent from start to finish, when at his best he stood out as the most impressive prospect on the college level. He has a game tailor-made for succeeding in the NBA as he makes creating quality shots appear effortless with his change of pace dribbles and quick pull up ability. He also has great efficiency with the vision to create easy looks and the creativity to overcome speed or athleticism mismatches. The two main concerns are the fact that he was on a losing team, and that he wasn’t able to stay healthy for the entire year. But no prospect in this draft is perfect, and Fultz remains on top of most scouts boards as the premiere prospect available.
NBA Comparison: James Harden
||Josh Jackson 6-8 205 SG/SF Kansas Fr.||Jackson improved as the season went on as much as any freshmen or player in the country and is on a short list of scout’s top prospects available. He had some off court incidents but nothing that has scouts too concerned. He is among the draft’s elite athletes and the top two way talent. Kawai Leonard is an optimistic comparison for any draft prospect, and while Jackson doesn’t have Kawhi’s length, he possesses the same type of intensity and passion for the game.
NBA Comparison: Kawhi Leonard
||Lonzo Ball 6-6 190 PG UCLA Fr.||
Ball’s ability to make those around him better and pass teammates open is truly special. He clearly has some major flaws, namely his corkscrew shooting delivery. His 3 point shot, as effective as it is, requires space in order to get off due to the impossible slow release he has. He actually has a very accurate deep 3 point shot that will translate, but the problem is he really needs to cut down on the unnecessary motion in his shot and revamp the form on it in order to be more effective as a shot creator in the midrange. Regardless, he has that dominate-a-game-without-scoring a la Jason Kidd that should insure success at the next level. Whether he can be closer to a Kidd than Ricky Rubio will depend on how effectively he can transform his shooting motion.
||De'Aaron Fox 6-3 180 PG Kentucky Fr.||Fox is probably the most physically gifted player in this year’s draft. But he has one major Achilles to his game and that is his shooting efficiency. However when you watch him shoot, it’s easy to conclude that he can become a quality shooter over time. The form on his shot actually looks decent, not requiring a lot of time to get it off, and solid mechanics. He’s the quickest player in the draft and will instantly become one of the quickest at the next level. Combine that with above average size for the position and you have an absolute physical specimen capable of locking down opposing points and getting by opponents virtually at will. Fox had some nagging injuries through the season, but ended the season cementing his place in the top half of the lottery with his 39 point domination of Lonzo Ball, in the Cat’s run to the Elite Eight.
NBA Comparison: John Wall
||Jayson Tatum 6-8 205 SF/SG Duke Fr.||Tatum showed excellent improvement over the course of the season. He took some time to hit his stride coming off a foot sprain that he suffered in the team’s pro day on October 25th that forced him to miss the first eight games. He became of the nation’s most Impactful players over the second half of the year. He put the Blue Devils on his back with clutch plays at the end of close games to lead Duke to their first ever four wins in four nights ACC Tournament title. While not an elite athlete, he’s extremely smooth and has an advanced isolation game to create space for shots. He should have a chance to be a go-to player in the league, a la Paul Pierce. While he doesn’t have the upside of Jonathan Isaac, he may end up hearing his name called before him on draft night due to being such a sure thing and exhibiting such an advanced skill set.
NBA Comparison: Allan Houston
||Jonathan Isaac 6-10 205 SF/PF Florida St. Fr.||Isaac is another extremely promising player further giving this draft an insane amount of depth/talent in the top 10. He has been compared favorably to 2016 number 2 pick Brandon Ingram as he has a similar game with his great size, length and versatility. He’s a little older but he was a late bloomer and before suffering his early season ankle injury was getting some top pick hype from scouts. His ability to pull up and shoot over defenders is absolutely effortless.
NBA Comparison: Rashard Lewis
||Dennis Smith 6-2 190 PG NC State Fr.||Smith struggled with consistency in his freshman season at NC State. It obviously was a difficult situation as the team lacked direction and saw their coach get fired before the season ended. Smith showed flashes of supreme talent, but just as he had developed a reputation for in high school, he struggled with bouts of inconsistency and lack of effort. He has the tools to be among the game’s elite PGs on the next level, but staying hungry will be the key.
NBA Comparison: Steve Francis
||Malik Monk 6-4 185 SG Kentucky Fr.||
Mr. 47 proved all season to be one of the deadliest shooters and scorers on the college level. He not only can get scorching hot from deep and go on scoring barrages, he’s also proven to be extremely clutch. He capped off his legendary 47 point performance against North Carolina with two last minute 3 pointers to seal the game. His ability to create and the cojones he’s shown to rise in big games at big moments has obviously not gone unnoticed by scouts, raising his draft profile. Amazing to think that even a year ago he was viewed as nothing more than a solid shooter. While he’s seen as an undersized 2 lacking a great floor game, his athleticism and tremendous shot give him a great deal of intrigue.
NBA Comparison: Louis Williams
||Lauri Markkanen 7-0 230 PF/C Arizona Fr.||The smooth shooting 7-footer from Finland has scouts extremely intrigued. He attacks the rim well off the bounce. While not the strongest athlete, his ability to stretch the floor at 7-feet gives him a great deal of intrigue. He needs to continue to add core strength and become a better rebounder and defender. Scouts have compared him favorably to 4th overall pick Dragan Bender from the 2016 draft. In order for him to realize his potential, he will need to land with the right team that is able to give him the correct strength and conditioning program to improve his physicality and defense.
NBA Comparison: Ryan Anderson
||Jarrett Allen 6-10 235 C Texas Fr.||Allen was a bit of a surprise to enter and sign with an agent, but with players like Miles Bridges deciding to return to school, who can blame him? He’s a likely lottery pick and while he’s far from NBA ready, the NBA will get him physically ready faster than Texas could have. He’s a solid kid who just needs to learn to play with better intensity each time out. His length and mobility give him potential to develop into a solid starter in a few seasons. And he may not be done growing.
NBA Comparison: Lorenzen Wright
||Zach Collins 6-11 240 C Gonzaga Fr.||Collins really could have used a second year at Gonzaga. He came off the bench backing up Karnowski, to the tune of 10 points and 6 boards in just 17 minutes per game. He is extremely big, coordinated and mobile and has an excellent stroke. His shooting numbers were highly efficient at 65% from the floor, 75% from the line and 44% from 3 (8-18). But he lacked playing time and the tourney exposed his tendency to get into foul trouble and inexperience. He enters the league needing a lot of time, but the upside is considerable as he has a very intriguing package of skills. He’s below Markkanen on most scout’s boards but may end up the better pro due to his better body strength.
NBA Comparison: Brad Daugherty
||Frank Ntilikina 6-5 190 PG France 1998||Frank Nitty is the draft’s man of mystery and while there’s a chance that Sacramento could grab him earlier, he figures to be the fourth PG off the board and go in the late lotto. He caught fire in Istanbul at the U18 European Championships in late December and impressed scouts on hand. He’s got a huge 7-foot wingspan and has really progressed as a floor general and shooter. He creates problems for opposing guards with his on ball defense utilizing his length and foot speed. His foot speed is an area that scout’s aren’t sure of and it may keep him from being an absolutely elite point in the NBA.
NBA Comparison: Dante Exum
||TJ Leaf 6-10 225 PF UCLA Fr.||Leaf has been a model of consistency all season. He proved what a tough competitor he is with his performance early in the year at Rupp Arena, outplaying Bam Adebayo in their individual match up. He’s a skilled, mobile big with solid athleticism and quickness. He shows a high level of skill with his ability to face the basket as well as play in the post and rebound. While his frame is thin, he competes hard and has shown excellent toughness. He may need some time for his body to fill out, but should find a role in the league with his great feel for the game.
NBA Comparison: Nick Collison
||John Collins 6-10 235 PF/C Wake Forest So.||
Collins had a solid showing in his lone "play in" NCAA tourney game in which Wake Forest lost to Kansas State. He’s an explosive athlete with solid aggressiveness. While he lacks a great face up game, his rebounding and skill around the basket is intriguing. While Collins old school skill set gives him a clear cut role, he doesn’t have a game that fits into today’s NBA as well as others and it could cost him a few spots on draft night.
NBA Comparison: Richaun Holmes
||Justin Patton 7-0 230 C Creighton Fr.||
Patton is a red-shirt freshman who had a surprisingly strong season and could parlay that into being a first rounder. While not the smoothest or most explosive athlete, he shows solid mobility and an excellent skill set for his age. He has very good size and played with decent consistency all year. His touch and post game are both at a good level for his age and with skills at both ends, he should have a chance to develop into a contributor at the NBA level over time.
NBA Comparison: Brandan Haywood
||Ivan Rabb 6-10 220 PF California So.||Rabb made a questionable decision to stay in school and probably lost a few spots from where he would have been drafted a year ago. But it shouldn’t be much of a factor in the long run. He’s a bright kid with a solid skill set but he didn’t break out into the star in his sophomore season that some envisioned. While he has a good understanding of the game, and gives consistent effort, he’s not very physical or the most explosive athlete, lacking fluidity. On the positive side, he has shown the ability to defend the perimeter, guard the pick and roll and has very good size at 6-11.
NBA Comparison: Andrew Nicholson
||Luke Kennard 6-6 200 SG Duke So.||
This may be a little high for Kennard as he lacks ideal size for a wing and isn’t a high level defender or athlete. But he’s an absolute natural with his ball skills and ability to shoot. He’s an excellent passer, and actually an underrated athlete. He surprised a lot of people by taking over the team from Grayson Allen in the early part of the year, but in reality Kennard was the better high school player and some expected it to happen a year earlier. Kennard is such a high level shooter, he should find a place in the league as a floor spreader, specialty shooter for years to come.
NBA Comparison: Jeff Hornacek
||Terrance Ferguson 6-7 185 SG Australia 1998||
Ferguson is all over the place on draft boards, and while his thin body and ability to create remain concerns, his shooting and defense give him a lot of intrigue. His outside shooting was on display a year ago at the Nike Hoop Summit as he hit 7 threes in the span of a few minutes. But concerns about maturity continue to surround him. Regardless in a draft that is seen as relatively average outside the lottery, Ferguson offers the upside and intrigue that few others in this range possess. Feel like rolling the dice, he’s your guy. Interviews and workouts are sure to factor heavily in his draft position.
NBA Comparison: Rudy Fernandez
||Bam Adebayo 6-10 245 PF/C Kentucky Fr.||Adebayo is more of an old school bigman as he lacks the shooting/scoring skill set that is coveted by so many teams in today’s NBA. But his athleticism and toughness will make him a handful on the block. He has been compared to Dwight Howard but that comparison only works to Old Superman, as a young Dwight would jump right over Bam. What he lacks for in skill, he seems to make up for in energy and aggressiveness and should continue to develop as a post player over time. Though he probably will always be more of a role player than a star.
NBA Comparison: Markieff Morris
||Harry Giles 6-10 225 PF/C Duke Fr.||Giles is a wildcard for the draft as he came back in late December and struggled to show much explosiveness off his surgically repaired knee(s). Giles was once seen as a potential #1 pick, but concerns about his knees have his stock falling. He’s no longer considered a likely lottery pick after struggling mightily in limited minutes at Duke. His inability to play physical and get any lift after contact is a major concern.
NBA Comparison: Derrick Favors
||Tyler Lydon 6-9 220 PF/SF Syracuse So.||
Lydon is a tweener, but the fact that he has a pure outside shot, gives him a lot of intrigue with NBA scouts. He obviously needs to get stronger. The Syracuse defensive system also creates a certain level of uncertainty and skepticism about how well he can defend. He needs to add a lot of strength, but scouts have been high on Lydon for over a year. Despite an up and down, underachieving season for Syracuse, he has elected to sign with an agent and is considered likely to go in the late first round. Similar to Markkanen, Lydon will take some time to catch up defensively as his optimum playing weight is calibrated.
NBA Comparison: Pat Garrity
||Dwayne Bacon 6-7 220 SG/SF Florida St. So.||Bacon had a strong season overall and while he’s not on every scout’s first round board he has enough interest that he will likely find a spot somewhere in the 20s. He had a very solid year, despite his shooting numbers falling off some late in the year. He’s a solid kid who should impress teams in workouts with his versatility. He’s not a finished product but he gives a lot to work with and the effort needed.
NBA Comparison: Gerald Wilkins
||Rodions Kurucs 6-8 200 SF Latvia 1998||Kurucs is a wing with solid scoring ability and very good run/jump athleticism by European standards. He has struggled some with knee injuries over the past two years but is back at full strength. He plays with a high level of intensity and energy and shows a lot of focus. The young Latvian is well liked by scouts and could impress enough to be a first round pick.
NBA Comparison: Sam Dekker
||PJ Dozier 6-6 205 PG/SG South Carolina So.||
Dozier was one of South Carolina’s key players for a team that overachieved making the Final Four. He’s all in having signed with an agent and there’s a very good chance he will get scooped up somewhere in the mid to late first round. His game is not completely polished as his jumpshot needs work, as his outside shooting percentages can attest. But his versatility gives him a lot of intrigue with his length and ability to guard multiple positions. He’s able to legitimately play point guard, and his huge wingspan gives him a lot of defensive and rebounding ability.
NBA Comparison: Shaun Livingston
||Johnathan Motley 6-9 230 PF Baylor Jr.||
Motley made a big jump in his junior year showing added face up skills and some real confidence and consistency in his mid-range shot. He’s become more skilled in addition to having great length, and athleticism. Motley is one of the most talented bigmen in the country with very good run/jump athleticism. With Baylor’s surprising season, Motley has gained some momentum as a prospect.
NBA Comparison: Keon Clark
||Donovan Mitchell 6-3 215 SG Louisville So.||Mitchell isn’t high on every scout’s list, and some write him off as a 6-foot-3 small forward. But he was a steadying force for the Cardinals all season and plays with great energy and emotion. He possesses toughness and leadership and despite lacking ideal height, he’s extremely long and athletic. He has a huge wingspan, close to 6-foot-10, and a 8-foot-4 standing reach, meaning he really isn’t all that undersized for an off guard. He also has proven to be an extremely aggressive guard attacking the rim for ally oops and put back dunks. His jumpshot has shown enough improvement to be a late first rounder.
NBA Comparison: Norman Powell
||Justin Jackson 6-8 210 SF North Carolina Jr.||Jackson was champion North Carolina’s top scorer this season. While he lacks ideal toughness and strength, the fact that he has developed into a consistent outside shooter (38% from 3) has elevated his first round chances. His near 7-foot wingspan gives him great length on the defensive end and boards. Concerns about his competitiveness and toughness have followed him since his prep days, but for a recruit that came in with a top 10 ranking, he finally delivered on that promise, proving to be the top junior prospect in the country, and helping guide UNC to their third title under Roy Williams.
NBA Comparison: Rod Higgins
||OG Anunoby 6-8 235 PF/SF Indiana So.||OG is one of the most interesting and polarizing prospects in this year’s draft. A number of scouts told me they didn’t consider him a top 40 prospect for this year’s draft BEFORE he got injured. But he seems to have a ground swell of internet hype behind him. Coming off a knee injury, Anunoby likely took his agent’s advice to enter the draft and try to capitalize on the hype surrounding him. Is it a mirage? Possibly. He’s not the most fluid run/jump athlete, but he has shown very good lateral speed to defend smaller, quicker players. And he does shoot the ball from the perimeter much better than his numbers would indicate. His problem is not being able to set his shot up consistently for easy looks. He received a great deal of hype seemingly out of no where late in his freshman year. It remains to be seen if teams will consider him worthy of the risk coming off an injury and being fairly unproven.
NBA Comparison: Marvin Williams
||Caleb Swanigan 6-8 250 PF/C Purdue So.||
Biggie overcomes his lack of speed and athleticism with tremendous desire and will to win. He’s transformed his body and added a lot of skill. He’s got a massive 7-foot-3.5 wingspan and has developed his range out to the 3 point line. While he still has work left to insure he gets drafted in the first round, he gets high marks for his character and work ethic. His ability to rebound and score on superior athletes defies logic and gives his NBA potential intrigue.
NBA Comparison: Ike Diogu
||Wesley Iwundu 6-7 195 SG/SF Kansas St. Sr.||Iwundu is one of the draft’s sleepers. After flying under the radar for his first three seasons in college, Iwundu began to flash an all around skill level to accompany his stand out athleticism. Iwundu can legitimately be a playmaker from the point position, and play the small forward position. His ability to pass, defend and now create shots for himself makes him an intriguing prospect. Though he didn’t have a huge statistical career, he’s quite possibly the top senior prospect available this year.
NBA Comparison: Kent Bazemore