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2017 NBA Draft Big Board
By Thomas Louis Posted in NBA on June 22, 2017 0 Comments
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NBA Draft night is finally nigh, and months (and for some of us, years) of scouting has lead to this point: ranking the players we’ve seen on courts both here and abroad. There will be speculation and educated evaluation in equal measure, as is the case with every draft class, and the evaluator (us) often plays as heavy a role as the evaluated (draftees) in where these prospects line up. So with the best of our ability, taking what we know of this class and what we can extrapolate from rookies gone by, here are the top 75 players in the 2017 NBA Draft.

1.  Markelle Fultz

Is Markelle Fultz the next great point guard? It’d certainly seem so. I wrote an article a few months ago comparing Fultz’s one season at Washington to other NBA point guards, and there was a lot to like — his defensive versatility, his silky and shifty dribbling to create shots off the bounce, and his deceptive explosiveness are all keys to the modern NBA point guard. Fultz is the real deal. Fultz has a strangely advanced offensive game; while he’s not the best shooter or creator in this class, he excels at nearly every aspect of scoring and passing. His athleticism and frame make him an easy option over the other top PGs like Ball and Smith Jr. On any lottery team, Fultz would be a franchise centerpiece.

That’s not to say he’s perfect. There are some concerns, as there was with Simmons in 2016, that Fultz coasted and lacked a winning mentality. Much of this has been overblown, in my estimation. Fultz had even less help from the Huskies than Simmons had at LSU, and played in an equally difficult (possibly even harder) conference. Horrendous FT percentages are also worrisome, and that hopefully doesn’t translate to poor all-around shooting at the next level.

It’ll be interesting to see how his eventual team handles his development, though it’s hard to see him busting with the skillset he’s displayed already.

— Will Muckian

2. Lonzo Ball

The most reviled prospect in recent memory, Lonzo is as polarizing in play as his father is in speech. There are some beautiful highlights from Ball’s short stint as a Bruin, and the Chino Hills flair he embodied was certainly central to UCLA’s meteoric rise from a middling team in 2016 to top-tier challenger in 2017. He excels as a playmaker, there’s no doubt, and he’s more athletic than people realize (he’s no Kirk Hinrich). He’s a solid shooter, and by the numbers, his offensive efficiency is worth drooling over. In addition, Ball seems to be of high and stable character, a trait often overshadowed by the overpowering bluster of his father.

There are some concerns with Ball though, and LaVar isn’t even top 2. The horrendous shooting form, though it has worked for Lonzo to this point, will eventually need to be retooled if he wants to avoid being blocked by Isaiah Thomas on the perimeter. In addition, his defense will have to improve. Lonzo has the size to be a neutral defender in the NBA, but will require some heavy coaching there as well (again, he’s no Kirk Hinrich). Some noise has been made about his upper body, which lacks any real heft at this stage, but like Brandon Ingram, an NBA strength and conditioning regimen could definitely solve some issues.

— WM

3. Josh Jackson

Other than Fultz, Jackson has perhaps the highest floor of anyone in the draft. He has two qualities — athleticism and the ability to defend — that guarantee him a spot in the NBA for years to come. Jackson gets off the floor effortlessly, whether it be with a head of steam or from a standstill. He is able to fill the lane in transition or run the show himself, and his excellent passing only helps to accentuate his transition abilities. His playmaking extends to the half-court as well. Jackson showed his comfort in the pick-and-roll in his lone year at Kansas, and he has proven he’s equally adept at hitting the shooters as he is the roll man. He averaged 7.4 rebounds per game as well, showing a willingness to fight on the boards.

Despite the rather advanced offensive game he flashed at Kansas, he will have to become a better shooter to reach his potential. His efficiency numbers from the field and from three were both more than solid, but similar to Fultz, his low free throw percentage could be telling when it comes time to predict how his shot might translate into the league. His entire form might need an overhaul, as right now his shot is too easily contested to get off consistently against NBA caliber defenders. Another area of concern is his relative lack of length. While he will certainly be a plus defensive player on the perimeter, his short wingspan could limit his versatility and hinder his chances at potentially being a small-ball four.

Wherever Jackson goes, he will have an impact. His fiery nature could be a potential culture changer for some franchises, regardless of if he hits his ceiling. But if he does that as well, he could very well end up being a franchise-type player.

— Kyle Howard

4. De’Aaron Fox

After a terrific freshman season at Kentucky, De’Aaron Fox established himself as one of the premier point guards in this years’ draft. At 6’3, he has the size and athleticism needed to make a smooth transition to the NBA game. Although he struggles as a jump shooter, he makes up for it with his playmaking ability and craftiness around the hoop. He has a Steph Curry/Kyrie Irving-like creativity in traffic and that should help him make an immediate impact at the next level. In addition to his offensive skills, Fox brings a defensive grit that is unexpected for someone as skinny as he is, and easily places him among the top defensive PGs in this class. While he won’t hunt down blocks in transition, he has the energy and desire to play solid defense for long stretches.

— Connor Frey

5. Jayson Tatum

Tatum has all of the physical tools you’d want in a prospect. He’s the perfect size, after filling out a little, to guard either forward position. The caveat of Tatum needing to fill out a little means that he struggles posting up and driving on similarly sized defenders. And while his three-point shooting is improved, there’s room for growth and consistency. Where his game figures to translate well to the pro level is in isolation. With an arsenal of free-up moves, Tatum is able to use his size to beat smaller defenders, and his speed to blow by the bigger ones. Down the stretch, Coach K utilized Tatum as the Blue Devils’ go-to, resulting in nearly a quarter of his possessions. Tatum, with very feasible, small improvements, may end up being the best prospect in the 2017 NBA Draft. The Duke freshman lived up to the hype and while it’s still unclear what his ceiling will be, it is safe to say he’s got one of the highest floors of NBA draft prospects.

— Premal Bhatt

6. Jonathan Isaac

Isaac is another player who should have a spot in the league for a long while. His length and fluidity as an athlete give him the potential to be a legitimate lockdown defender in time. He can block shots, slide on the perimeter, play the passing lanes, and finish off the possession with a defensive board.

He probably doesn’t have the ball skills to ever be a go-to player on the offensive end, but he possesses all the tools necessary to be a successful four-man in today’s game. He can spot up from deep, attack closeouts, and finish at the rim. He’ll be too quick for most power forwards, so polishing up his post game will greatly benefit him since very few wings will be able to contest his shot. The base is there for Isaac on offense; he just has to continue to build on it.

— KH

7. Malik Monk

One of the best-known players in this draft, Malik Monk razzled and dazzled during his freshman season at Kentucky and became one of the best scorers in the country. His play is reminiscent of a faster and smaller Joe Johnson — someone who can shoot 40% from distance but also uses his elite speed and explosiveness to get to the rack at will. He excels in both catch-and-shoot and off the dribble shot situations.

However, Monk struggles in his physical profile. Somewhat middling in height (6’4) with a stunted wingspan (6’3.5), it’s unlikely that the shooting guard ever becomes a premier defender. In addition, the wingspan and his relatively light frame (197 lbs) will make finding his shot in the NBA a refined art rather than a brute force attack.

There are questions about his fit at the next level, but Monk could certainly become the premier scoring threat of this draft. His defense ultimately figures to be the biggest variable in his playing time.

— CF

8. Dennis Smith Jr.

Arguably the biggest dark horse of this years’ draft, Dennis Smith Jr. has the potential to end up as one of the best players from this class. He seems to be falling under the radar a little bit due to the plethora of point guard talent this draft has to offer, but the man can flat-out ball. The open court is where he does the most damage; he has an excellent change of pace and can finish high above the rim (as evidenced by a reported 48’ inch vertical during his Laker workout). He had a tendency to get tunnel vision at N.C. State and take plays off on the defensive side of the ball, but I blame that more on State’s cultural problems and lack of talent outside of Smith. If Smith wants to excel at the next level, he must learn to bring it night in and night out against the best players in the world.
– CF 

9. Lauri Markkanen

Say hello to the best shooter in the draft. Lauri Markkanen made 42% of his 3-point attempts during his freshman season at Arizona and showed tremendous offensive skill for a 7-footer that would make even the driest mouth salivate. With great footwork and fluidity for a guy his size, Markkanen’s potential to be an elite scorer at the NBA level is nothing to scoff at. Drawing comparisons to the New York Knicks’ Kristaps Porzingis, Markkanen boasts an even sweeter stroke and possibly higher offensive upside. There are question marks about his defense and rebounding ability and he must get stronger in order to take on similar sized players at the next level.
– CF

10. Frank Ntilikina

Ntilikina (pronounced nee-lee-KEE-na) is another PG prospect I’m high on, though I realized the other day that he reminds me of a 2016 prospect I really liked: Wade Baldwin. The two are virtually identical in the pros and cons columns: enormous wingspans and defensive ability, a slowly developing offensive game (esp. in creating his own shot), and questions about their ability to handle an increased role are the three traits that define Ntilikina as well as they defined Baldwin. Some outliers? Ntilikina projects as a better playmaker and has a better motor. Hard to see a team failing to extract some value from the young Frenchman.

11. Jarrett Allen

Though it might be tempting to compare Allen with the most recent Texas big man to strike NBA gold, Myles Turner, the two share very little on the court. While Turner is a floor-expanding power forward forced to play center because of Indiana’s dearth of competent bigs, Allen is a tried-and-true center with the body and skillset to play as an anchor at the defensive end. Turner racks up blocks but struggles to defend, while Allen bumps up defensive efficiency numbers and fails to record a ton of blocks. One of his biggest struggles will be cutting down his turnovers — Allen averaged almost 3 TO/game at Texas. He, as with so many others, will need to add more mass to play as effectively in the NBA as he has in college, and his range is borderline pitiful, but Allen’s defensive potential (especially with an eye-popping wingspan of 7’5) is more than enough to overshadow his offensive woes.

12. Zach Collins

A key cog in Gonzaga’s lineup during his freshman season, Collins averaged 10 ppg in just 17 minutes a night. He’s extremely agile and quick for a 7-footer and boasts a motor that makes him good on the glass and on the defensive end. Look for that to translate well to the next level. He’s also shown great offensive upside with a soft touch around the hoop and the ability to occasionally step out and hit one from distance. He made 65.2% of his field goals at Gonzaga and that level of efficiency should make him a hot commodity come draft night.

13. Justin Jackson

Jackson is a very high-IQ player and should be able to contribute to a team right away. He’s a competitor on defense, which makes up for his lack of athletic ability at times, and he has a great feel for the game on offense, especially off the ball. His footwork as a shooter is top notch, and he can make shots in any situation. Jackson doesn’t get to the rim all that well off the dribble, but he has a terrific in-between game thanks to his floater.

The issue with Jackson is that he really does not have much upside. He is 22 right now, and in the NBA, athleticism means a lot more than it does in college. Simply competing on defense won’t cut it if you do not have the speed or strength to truly stay in front of your man, and it’s fair to say Jackson has neither. And even though his floaters are excellent, those will be harder to convert against NBA length, and without the ball-handling and craftiness necessary to get to the rim, Jackson may become a one-dimensional shooter in the league.

— KH

14. OG Anunoby

If it weren’t for an ACL injury that shortened Anunoby’s sophomore season, we’d have a much better idea of where this guy was headed. He has all the physical tools to be a freak defender in the NBA, but teams will have to figure out how to best deploy him. At 6’8, 230, with a wingspan that rivals that of a full-grown bald eagle (a little over 7’2), Mr. OG himself is quick enough, long enough, and strong enough to guard every position on the floor. He has the length to close out on shooters and the active hands to disrupt passing lanes. While Anunoby has the potential to be the best defender in this draft, he has work to do on the offensive side of the ball, as he struggles finding his own shot and creating opportunities for his teammates due to his poor dribbling and passing skills. If he can fix those issues, as so many other greats (Jimmy Butler and Kawhi Leonard come to mind) have done, there’s no telling what he’ll become.

— CF

15. Terrance Ferguson

In the middle stages of the first round, where Ferguson is projected to land, teams want to find guys who can fit in and fill a role for them. Ferguson certainly does that. He can spot up and play defense, and that will make him intriguing to a lot of teams. He has great size for a two-guard as well, standing at about 6’7, and has flashed some ability as a slasher, but right now he doesn’t have a solid all-around game. It’s unlikely he’ll be playing right away either. At the moment he lacks the strength to handle the physicality of the NBA game. Still, given a few years to add muscle and refine his strengths, he should be able to find a niche for the team that drafts him.

— KH

16. John Collins

As the ACC’s most improved player, John Collins averaged 19.2 points and 9.8 rebounds per game during his sophomore season at Wake Forest. He spent most of his time playing center in college, but Collins seems best suited to make the transition to power forward at the next level given his size. He’s 6’10 with a below average wingspan (6’11) for someone of his height. His lack of length hurts him against bigger and longer players but he’s an elite finisher around the rim and someone who could develop into a premier offensive weapon at the NBA level. While the lack of range on his jump shot may hurt him initially, Collins shows promise as an explosive athlete, and could potentially expand his range in the future, as seen in his workout at CAA Pro Day.

— CF

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17. Luke Kennard

When you think Luke Kennard, think shooter. In every sense of the word, the Duke sophomore can score – off-ball, off-screens, off-dribble, spot-up, and creating his own. Kennard won’t blow you away physically, having the dreaded “shorter wingspan than height” conundrum, not being overly explosive and never a blow-by guard. However, Kennard has basketball speed. He finds ways to get past defenders that are more athletic than he is because of ball and body control. He’s also an above-average passer in the pick-and-roll for a shooting guard. Kennard’s role in the NBA will be a big question mark, as he struggles defensively and there’s the fear of his game not translating to bigger, faster, stronger NBA opposition. While he should be considered more than just a ‘shooter,’ his role on an NBA roster may be relegated to shooting specialist.

— PB

18. Justin Patton

Patton is probably one of the more difficult NCAA players to evaluate at this stage. Playing his first season at Creighton as a redshirt freshman, Patton’s skillset at this stage is largely constructed around his uncanny agility for a player of his size (7’0, 7’3 wingspan) and his willingness (notice I didn’t say “ability”) to shoot from deep. Outside of that, the former Blue Jay is filled with ups and downs. He’s said he wants to become a stretch-five, and Patton finished the season shooting 54% from deep, but the sample size (5/9) is such that it’s hardly worth consideration. If he can become consistent, then he’ll certainly make his drafted team happy. While his weight and athleticism are at an NBA level, Patton struggled to secure rebounds at Creighton, often failing to battle. This lack of emotional intensity carries over to other portions of his game; motor and mental toughness are two things vital to long-term success in the NBA, and Patton has yet to assuage any concerns about those aspects. However, his budding skills and athletic talent are worth taking a risk on.
— WM

19. Donovan Mitchell

Donovan Mitchell’s stock saw some of the largest gains from the draft combine across the pool. On top of posting an incredible 6’10” wingspan, he also ran faster and jumped higher than anyone else in the draft, while posting decent shooting numbers in the 5v5 scrimmages. Mitchell’s success at the next level will depend heavily on 2 things: how his decision-making improves, and the development of a floater.  While he has shown some propensity for running the pick and roll, showing good instincts on when to pull up on a trailing defender, he also had deflated shooting numbers overall, in large part due to taking and subsequently airballing a lot of ill-advised shots.  He also averaged a mere 26% on floaters, which are a necessary tool at any level to combating shot-blockers, which at his size, will be something he has to address, since, while he has all the tools to finish at the rim well, the actual percentages have been somewhat low as well, especially against teams with length.  Ultimately, however, Mitchell looks poised to be a strong guard in the late lottery and has some of the highest upside in the entire draft.

— Joseph Nation

20. TJ Leaf

Offensively, there is a lot to like about Leaf’s game. He’s a good athlete (even more so in transition), he is a legitimate floor spacer, and he can score on the block — whether it be with his back to the basket or facing up. Leaf can also attack off of the dribble a bit and displays good passing instincts. All of those qualities helped him to become one of the most effective and efficient scorers in college basketball last season. He’s somewhat of a mix of David Lee and Ryan Anderson.

Unfortunately, that extends to the defensive end as well. Leaf isn’t the most astute defender, nor is he overly physical. He is a good rebounder, but he cannot anchor the boards. Couple that with his lack of rim protection and it’s hard to project him as a small-ball five. Because he cannot contain on the perimeter it’s unlikely he’ll succeed chasing around fours as well. There is no question Leaf will be a successful player on offense, even if some of his skills (such as his back to the basket game) don’t translate, but if he doesn’t improve as a defender, it will be hard to justify giving him minutes.

— KH

TJ Leaf contests a Lauri Markkanen jumper. While Markkanen is a marvelous shooting big and likely goes well before TJ, Leaf could perhaps surpass him due to his ability to shoot and rim-run. 
TJ Leaf contests a Lauri Markkanen jumper. While Markkanen is a marvelous shooting big and likely goes well before TJ, Leaf could perhaps surpass him due to his ability to shoot and rim-run. 

21. Ivan Rabb

Ivan Rabb was a top-10 pick in 2016 before withdrawing his name from the draft, but the Cal sophomore’s stock plummeted alongside the Golden Bears’ record when he failed to improve much on his limited offensive game. Rabb is a strong rebounder (one of the best in the nation, actually) and has a smooth post game, but his range is limited and his ability as a rim protector is similarly capped. A hitch in his shooting motion prevents any real consistency in his offense at distance, but Rabb is so quick as a rim runner that he’s often able to create good chances in close anyway. It doesn’t help that Cal’s offense was hot garbage; Rabb had to carry a Jaylen Brown-less team as far as he could, and he’s simply not equipped with the skillset to take over games like that. In short, while there’s currently very little separating him from a less athletic Thomas Robinson, Rabb does have some strong positives. He will have to improve, but there’s definitely a lot of potential.
— WM

22. Harry Giles Jr.

Before his last ACL tear, Giles was one of the more hyped prospects in this past freshman class. As a big man, his mobility and athleticism really set him apart from the rest of his peers. He still remains more mobile than most fives, but it’s unclear if he’ll ever regain the elite athleticism that made him so coveted. Still, he remains a competitor on the boards and defensively, and has the skill to finish around the rim. He was a top rated recruit for a reason, and if he can stay healthy and return to form, he may become the biggest steal of the draft.

Beyond injuries, there are some concerns. Giles isn’t the most skilled offensive player, and despite a 7’3 wingspan, he is a small center. Due to his inability to stretch the floor, he will always have to fill the center spot, and versatility is the name of the game in the league right now. This could all become irrelevant if he regains his quickness and the ability to guard on the perimeter, but that is a big if. If all he becomes is a rim protector and lob target, however, that is perfectly fine for a late first round pick.

— KH

23. Edrice “Bam” Adebayo

Bam Adebayo is a slightly undersized Center who makes up for it by a combination of length and athleticism that allows him to protect the rim, and also switch onto guards at some level.  His primary offensive game is finishing lobs, and he appears uncomfortable with the ball in his hands, in part because he is uncomfortable with the ball in his hands.  He’s an effective rebounder on both ends, but is especially effective on the offensive glass.  And if I had written every single one of those sentences about Bismack Biyombo, they’d be just as true, which should give you a fairly good picture of what Adebayo will be at the next level.  An interesting subplot of his pre-draft journey is that he’s attempting to convince people that he has a jumper, but if he can sell a team on that then he can sell the mayor of New York the Brooklyn Bridge, and I don’t think either of those parties will buy.

— JN

24. Caleb Swanigan

Swanigan is a big man in every sense of the word: his size (6’8” with a 7’3” wingspan), his game, and his past. His game makes you want to root for him almost as much as his story. Swanigan made a significant improvement from freshman year to sophomore year at Purdue, improving his body and game, as he slimmed down, became more athletic, and added a more consistent jump shot to his already skilled back-to-the-basket game. Swanigan seems to have the potential to develop into the perfect center in today’s game of playing small ball by adding on improvements in defending on the perimeter and protecting the rim to an already lengthy frame and superior rebounding ability. Swanigan has the potential to vastly outperform what his order in the draft selection tells us.

— PB

25. Ike Anigbogu

Ike Anigbogu sits smack dab in the middle of the big man glut in this year’s draft, and like all the other players ranked around him, his talents are specific and his weaknesses are workable. Anigbogu didn’t get to show off often at UCLA, with fellow freshmen TJ Leaf and Lonzo Ball absorbing much of the spotlight, but his 7’6” wingspan is tops in this draft and his potential as a Tristan Thompson-esque rim runner and defender in space is tantalizing as the power forward position continues its 21st-century evolution. Like Thompson, he’s quick off the ground as both a shot blocker and rebounder, and though his offense is effectively limited to at-the-basket finishes, he’s consistent when grabbing high passes and lobs. Barring some massively unforeseen evolution, Anigbogu will play the DeAndre Jordan role from the get-go, and he figures to do it quite well.
— WM

26. Isaiah Hartenstein

Projecting Isaiah Hartenstein, when most of the useful film of him is at the U18 level, is extremely difficult.  Most scouts think he might be a good shooter, but the middling percentages and poor rotation on his shot say otherwise.  He may be able to switch the pick and roll and give a good effort, but that’ll be harder against quicker and more explosive first steps on NBA guards and he already was barely physically able to keep up as it is.  He may have a dribble-drive game, but that looked out of control at times.  The only things from his game that I think are solidly likely to translate are his passing ability, which is very good (both from the perimeter and the post), and his shot-blocking, which is also relatively solid.  He’ll need to iron out a lot of holes in his game, but as a physical 7’1” player, he’ll definitely get a chance to.

— JN

27. Semi Ojeleye

For Ojeleye, a lot of his success in the NBA will depend on whether or not his three point shot translates. He posted great efficiency numbers in college, both in the pick and pop and spotting up, but he typically needs a good amount of space to be effective. For the most part, Ojeleye seems to be a bit of hybrid three-four player, but he doesn’t present mismatches at either position. He doesn’t have the quickness or ball handling to attack fours in the NBA, and although he is strong, he won’t be able to bully players at the small forward spot, mostly due to the fact he is incredibly right hand dominant. He is a solid athlete, but only when he has time to load up.

Already almost 23 years old, his inability to create off the dribble could put a serious cap on his upside. When it comes to defense, he should be able to have an impact. His strength and lateral quickness allow him to check power forwards and he can play a little bit on the perimeter as well. If he proves to be a capable from beyond the arc, Ojeleye could become a top-tier role player.

— KH

28. Tyler Lydon

Tyler Lydon is first and foremost a shooter, and the thing that helps shooters translate to the NBA is the ability to come off of screens with proper footwork and then knock down the shot. This is a skill that Ray Allen more or less perfected in Boston, and Doc Rivers then recycled those sets on J.J. Redick. Scott Brooks stole them to use for Bradley Beal.  Lydon already has this footwork down, so even if everything else doesn’t translate — his defensive IQ may be overridden by his limited length, for example — he will be able to shoot. It has yet to be seen if it’s physically possible for a bigger guy like Lydon to run off of screens that much, since that requires borderline superhuman endurance to not only run the distances Redick and Allen do, but also to do so on a larger frame. Either way, in limited minutes he should be effective as a shooter, even if physical limitations keep him from being a full-time starter.

— JN

29. Jawun Evans

Evans almost singlehandedly eliminated the Michigan Wolverines in the NCAA tournament, and the small scoring PG has underrated potential for the NBA. While he was often the center of OSU’s offense, that didn’t always end in a hoisted jumper; Evans averaged 8.8 assists per 40 minutes. He often made the good pass, but not typically the best pass, and his small size likely hinders him in this regard. At 5’11, he can simply get overwhelmed by the length around him and turn it over. In addition, Evans can struggle to convert at the rim — again, this can likely be attributed to his size — but he’s strong and tough enough to force defenders into must-foul situations on a consistent basis.

30. Johnathan Motley

Johnathan Motley has a unique combination of basketball skills and physical tools for this draft.  Out of all the top tier bigs in this draft, he is one of the most comfortable in putting the ball on the floor and making a dribble drive to the hoop.  This will allow him to run some unique sets, like those that the Charlotte Hornets use Frank Kaminsky and Cody Zeller in, basically catching the ball out of the high pick and roll at nearly the elbow and then taking their defender to the rim off the dribble.  The difference in Motley and those two is that his 7’4” wingspan could potentially, with better developed timing, allow him to finish lobs at the rim as well, which will make for an interesting defensive challenge.  His relatively poor timing also somewhat limits his defensive ability, keeping him from being an excellent rim protector despite his crazy frame, and even brings into question his rebounding, which massively improved for his junior year and may be a fool’s gold spike.

— JN

31. Anzejs Pasecniks

Anzejs Pasecniks is quite likely the current best international player in this draft, but even he has a long way to go from a developmental standpoint.  Despite being 7’2”, he only weighs 229 pounds, and the lack of bulk shows, as his biggest problem is getting pushed around on defense and the defensive boards.  But as a result of the lack of bulk, he moves extremely fluidly, and has developed great timing on the pick and roll that allows him to be an extremely efficient contributor.  It’s unclear how good a shooter he really is — his mechanics are good, but he struggles from the free throw line, and he’s not that good a passer either, so there are definitely holes in his game, but virtually anyone who is truly 7’2” will get a chance to fix holes like that at the NBA level.

— JN

32. Jordan Bell

Where Dillon Brooks and Tyler Dorsey provided the scoring on Oregon, Jordan Bell anchored the defense, and in doing so, established himself as one of the most unique defensive prospects in the history of the draft.  Seemingly effortlessly switching out at the perimeter while also protecting the rim makes Bell a tantalizing fit in a modern NBA defense centered around that switching action.  He performed better than any player on the quickness and agility drills at the combine, ranking 4th in both the lane agility and the shuttle run, which are guard dominated typically.  That quickness will make his defense at the next level, and while his offensive game may not be anything more than catching the ball inside and laying it in, Bell has the ability to be a big part in an elite defense down the road.

— JN

33. DJ Wilson

DJ Wilson shouldn’t slip past the 30th pick, as the Utah Jazz have reportedly promised to nab him at that spot if he’s available, and I can’t say I disagree much with that positivity. Wilson, like so many other Wolverines, was slow to catch fire during this NCAA season, but his ability as a shot blocker, shooter, and defender in space is invaluable to most teams. He struggles as a passer and occasionally as a rebounder, but he does a lot of things consistently well. He has length (6’10 with a 7’3 wingspan), but he needs to add some weight if he actually wants to compete on the glass as a power forward. If anything, it seems the Wolverines’ collective slow start led to Wilson being underrated, as so many of his strengths are hot commodities for the power forward position. Already at 21 years of age, Wilson may not being the pick with the most upside, but he figures to fill a lot of needs for teams that can afford a specialist PF at this stage in the draft.

34. Thomas Bryant

A rangy big man (7’6 wingspan, 9’4.5 standing reach) with an expanding offensive game (38.3% from deep this season, up from 33.3% last year), Bryant is a prospect worth taking early in the second round. He attacks the boards as well, on the offensive end in particular.

At the next level, it will be all about playing within himself and gaining experience. Bryant doesn’t have a natural feel for scoring or defending, and he can get a little ahead of himself at times.  Sitting for a few years and getting some experience in the d-league will be best for him.  A big man who can block shots and shoot the three is the rarest commodity in the league, and you can bet some team will be banking that Bryant can eventually deliver those two things when he’s selected.

— KH

35. Dillon Brooks

Despite having Tyler Dorsey, another NBA caliber scorer, this year’s Oregon Ducks were actually led in scoring by Dillon Brooks, who turned a bevy of skills into an offensive arsenal.  He hit well from outside, posted up from the mid-post to create good midrange looks, and also used his first step well to get by slower defenders, making him into a prototypical “three-level scorer”.  While he doesn’t really have the physical tools to defend at the NBA level, it’s very likely that he can be hidden in a good scheme, having seen Oregon do just that this year.  As a result, his scoring ability and the feel for the game and matchups that enables it could make a rotation player out of him.

— JN

36. Edmond Sumner

Sumner is one of the highest potential players available late in the draft.  He doesn’t have much in the way of a jump shot, going for 27.3% last year from the college 3, but he makes up for that by (borderline recklessly) attacking the rim.  Sometimes that gets him in trouble, but sometimes it gets him a trip to the line.  FT numbers suggest he has relatively clean shooting mechanics in order to let it at least get to a point where he can force teams not to completely sag off of him, so he is in a position to allow his excellent physical gifts — 6’5” with a 6’8” wingspan alongside guard-level agility — to take over.  An ACL tear and a partial labrum tear could derail those, though, so whichever team takes him on is taking on risk.  In the second round, though, that can be more than worth it.

— JN

37. Alec Peters

Out of players likely to be taken in this draft, Alec Peters falls 2nd in scoring to Markelle Fultz, 2nd in FT% to Peter Jok, and 3rd in raw rebounding, to Caleb Swanigan and Ivan Rabb.  This tells you pretty clearly what he’s going to do at the NBA level:  Score the ball, score it efficiently and with a little bit of range, and rebound the ball.  He probably won’t translate perfectly as a rebounder given the lack of physical tools necessary to be an NBA rebounder and how poor his competition was, and he probably won’t be a lockdown defender, but he’ll probably be adequate at both for his position, and that’ll keep him on the floor just enough for his incredibly efficient shooting for the PF position to take hold.

— JN

38. Frank Mason III

Frank Mason III is one of the weirder players to look at in a vacuum.  He was the best player in college basketball last year, but he’s already 23.  He’s an excellent athlete, but he’s 5’11” with a wingspan that doesn’t do enough to cover that.  He’s a 48% 3 point shooter with demonstrated NBA range, but he also shot 43% in the paint.  Ultimately, Mason projects to be an excellent low-risk low-reward pick that can help a team in need of a backup PG instantly, but he also likely won’t ever be more than that.  He’ll defend his position adequately, having already covered guys like Monte Morris effectively, and he’ll make good decisions on offense to make himself at least a net neutral, but whoever drafts him shouldn’t expect him to be much more than that.

— JN

39. Jaron Blossomgame

Jaron Blossomgame is a great illustration for how hard predicting 3 point shooting at the next level is.  After shooting 44% from 3 as a junior, he dropped off to an awful 25% this year, but he’d still be drafted off some combination of shooting potential, his physical gifts, which should allow him to effectively defend 3’s and 4’s, and his well-demonstrated ability to finish around the rim, which will make it to where even should he not figure out his jump shot again (which appears to be a slight mechanical issue with how the ball leaves his hand and should be relatively fixable since it’s nothing in the actual form), he’ll still be able to contribute at some level on both ends.  It’s not clear that he’ll do so at a high enough level to hold a roster slot should the jump shot not develop, but the abilities are there.

40. Monte Morris

One of college basketball’s premier passers, Morris has been in the upper crust of AST/TO ratio since his freshman year with very little dropoff. The Iowa State offense, started by current Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg, runs through Morris at every turn, and while he’s no Magic Johnson, he consistently makes the best pass available. In addition, Morris is a sound scorer, though much of his “comfort” offense comes in the midrange, where nothing is guaranteed and analysts are laid to rest.

While his offensive ability is largely sound, it’s the defensive end where Morris will need to prove his chops to receive minutes. Average height, disappointing wingspan, and middling speed/strength composes a brutal cocktail for Morris’ future as an NBA defender, but with some smart positioning and consistent effort, he can mitigate nature’s limitations well enough to be an effective role player.

41. Dwayne Bacon

Bacon, though hardly a household name, is an extremely interesting player in this draft. In his freshman season, he coupled with current Nuggets benchwarmer Malik Beasley to bring Florida State a sound record in the ACC. It was his first year that he played as a guard: bringing the ball up, distributing, and using his size (6’6″) to punish smaller defenders. For his second year, however, FSU opted to use Bacon as a more traditional SF, and we learned some things about his strengths and limitations. The build is a strong positive for Bacon, whose aforementioned height combines with a 6’10″ wingspan and 222 lb frame to punish defenders as he fights to the rim. That same size gives him a lot of potential at the other end, where his long arms will compensate for his average foot speed.

42. Josh Hart

A four-year player at Villanova, Hart had a remarkably efficient college career. He shot over 50% from the field and nearly 39% from three. He’s a good defender as well and possesses good size for a two guard (6’6″ with a 6’8″ wingspan). Hart is a smart player as well, with good scoring instincts.

Like most four year players, there will be concerns about his upside. He doesn’t offer much as a shot creator, and even though he shot 40% from three, that may not be the case in the NBA. His three point efficiency fluctuated greatly throughout his college career, and he never shot greater than 75.2% from the free throw line.

43. Nigel Williams-Goss

Like so many others in this range and below, Williams-Goss was hardly a name plastered all over ESPN — until the NCAA tournament came around. It was then that NWG — despite the unstoppable force of Przemek Karnowski — led his team to victory after victory, upsetting the long-standing impotence of Gonzaga teams in the postseason, only to injure himself in the final minutes of a supremely tight March Madness Final. It was there that you really understood Williams-Goss’ impact: he can make the right play under duress, slither his way into an uncontested shot, and hit difficult ones when the team needs a hero. His physical attributes are nothing to marvel at: 6’3 with a 6’7 wingspan at 190 pounds. All are average, but nothing athletically distinguishes Williams-Goss from his peers. He’s an efficient passer, but struggles to create his own shot off the bounce or at the rim. There’s a future for him somewhere in the league, but his landing spot will have a large impact — the roster really has to work for him to flourish.

44. Tyler Dorsey

Tyler Dorsey was an up and down player throughout his time at Oregon, but his play during Oregon’s tournament run really cemented him as a solid draftable player.  He is a scorer first.  And a scorer second.  But he’s been good enough at that at times, especially as a shooter specifically, that he’ll still end up high on some team’s board, especially as he’s reportedly been shooting well in workouts.  He’s just an okay physical specimen, which will keep him from ever being more than a J.J. Redick style acceptable defender within a good system, but if he does in fact become J.J. Redick then that’s a way better than average case for a 2nd rounder, where he projects as likely to go.

— JN

45. PJ Dozier

PJ Dozier is almost entirely going to make the NBA off of nothing but pure physical tools.  He’s not an efficient scorer, his ball-handling is iffy as to how it will translate to the next level, he turns the ball over too much, and his defense isn’t necessarily always there. And yet he’s still almost certain to deservedly go in the second round.  That’s how excellent his physical tools are. Standing almost 6’7” tall, 6’11” wingspan, and the quickness and agility to keep up with all kind of guards is just absolutely unheard of, and so some team will without a doubt take him and attempt to develop him into his physical gifts.

— JN

46. Sindarius Thornwell

Thornwell became the face of the NCAA Tournament’s Cinderella school, South Carolina, as he led his team to a Final Four appearance. He proved to be a consistent shooter and scorer in his senior season, while also showing tenacious rebounding for a shooting guard. Thornwell loves to play with physicality and sure doesn’t shy away from contact, as he gets to the free throw line often. While the floor is stable, there isn’t much of a ceiling for Thornwell. He lacked explosiveness on the college level, which is cause for concern on the pro level. That combined with not being great in isolation likely means he could struggle to be a reliable role player on the next level.
— PB

47. Kobi Simmons

Kobi Simmons’ stock dropped throughout the year at Arizona, but a team that understands what to expect from him could add a solid piece to their rotation. Simmons is an explosive scorer in multiple senses of the word, and sometimes that’s a good thing. He’s an excellent athlete who can get to the rim against anyone at the college level, whether by driving and using his first step or by cutting and slashing.  The problem is that, as of right now, part of being explosive is that the bomb is occasionally a dud; Simmons is the single least consistent player in this draft, and that will certainly force whichever team does draft to be constantly cognizant of what he’s doing.  With that said, inconsistency is not at all uncommon for young prospects, so should he grow out of that he could be a steal in the 2nd round.

— JN

48. Wesley Iwundu

Out of Kansas State, Wesley Iwundu was an already-interesting prospect who made himself all the more interesting this past year.  While he retained his excellent defensive abilities, which mostly stem from his 7’1” wingspan on a 6’7” frame, and his play-making abilities, turning in yet another year at about 4.5 Assists per 40 minutes, he also, in the course of one offseason, turned a jump shot that I’d describe as Lonzo Ball’s with a miserable hitch into something much, much cleaner, and the results paid dividends. Not only did he go from shooting 20% to shooting 37.6%, he almost tripled his attempts per game.  As a result, Iwundu has a unique profile as a prospect not usually found as late in the draft as he will likely go.

— JN

49. Devin Robinson

Devin Robinson is a prototype for an upcoming commodity in the NBA: he’s a large 3 who can also defend the 4.  Having dedicated himself to the defensive end after being told by coach Mike White that that was his best path to college success, he showed a great amount of defensive versatility in SEC play that will certainly carry him to the next level. Further, between a good three-ball and the length to play above the rim, he’s more than capable of providing a team that takes him an excellent low usage threat who can also instantly make a large defensive impact from day one.

— JN

50. Matthias Lessort

Matthias Lessort is the kind of player who does the little things to help win.  If you needed to describe him in 5 words, all 5 of them would probably be motor, and that’s okay, because that motor makes him a strong defender, turning his good length on a slightly undersized frame into a good rim protector that can also switch out at the perimeter and disrupt the ball handler.  It makes him a strong rebounder too, letting his offensive game center around offensive boards, and also bringing in several defensive boards as well.  And it gives him a role in the offense, where he’s not really effective other than at the rim, because it allows him to battle through contact and get to the line at a high rate.  We’re talking about a guy who actually has screens and charges drawn in his highlight reel, and that will make him an excellent contributor for a good team.

— JN

51. LJ Peak

LJ Peak is unfortunate that he’s being drafted in 2017.  If this were 1990, his excellent ability to attack the rim via an excellent series of change of pace and change of direction moves would rocket him up to the lottery, and his defensive ability, which demonstrated that he can use his phenomenal length to regularly check 1-4, would keep him there.  But this is 2017, and LJ Peak’s questionable outside shooting will knock him down into the 2nd and possibly out of the draft entirely, which could be to some team’s benefit.  His mechanics aren’t particularly broken, and a combination of pull-up jumpers and FT% tell you that he might even figure that out and become an absolute steal in this draft, and if that happens, his other high caliber and fairly difficult to learn skills will start to shine even more.

— JN

52. Frank Jackson

Jackson played his way into becoming one of the 75 best prospects in this year’s draft, finding a way to shine on an extremely talented Duke Blue Devils roster. Jackson’s athleticism and explosiveness jumped off the screen most when watching him in college, but he has the misfortune of being caught between two positions. He needs some polish with ball skills and improvement in passing, as he has the scoring mentality of an off-ball guard, but a slight lack of size to defend the position. Jackson has potential, though, and with the ability to finish around the rim and shoot well from the perimeter, it might be a development project with substantial reward.

— PB

53. Derrick White

Derrick White came into the combine with significant questions about whether or not he was sufficiently athletic for the NBA.  Derrick White left the combine with no questions about whether or not he was sufficiently athletic for the NBA.  He tested out as one of the quickest, most agile, and fastest players in the draft, and he also came out as an above average leaper.  As a result, White’s stock has been rapidly rising from potentially undrafted into the late 1st round.  Given his basketball abilities, functioning as a smooth scoring option from all levels, including polish on a floater and footwork, his decision-making made him into one of the most statistically effective players in this draft last year, and he’ll translate that to the next level well.

— JN

54. Cameron Oliver

While Oliver is known for his powerful, ferocious dunks at the rim, he has tremendous versatility shooting from outside the paint. He can protect the rim on the defensive end and rebounds well, earning double-digit rebounds in 13 games during his sophomore season at Nevada. However, Oliver will have to develop his vision and gain more consistency scoring. He seems to be a tweener in regards to his position in the NBA, not matching up skill-wise at small forward, but not big enough for power forwards. Oliver will need to disprove those that question his motor and basketball IQ if he hopes to contribute on the next level.
— PB

55. Kyle Kuzma

Kuzma was one of the big winners of the combines 5 on 5’s, posting 20 points in 20 minutes on 10 shots, including 4 for 5 from 3.  While his mechanics are solid and support the idea that he could be a stretch 4 at the next level, ultimately he did just finish a season in which he shot 32.1% from the college 3 point line with a middling FT%, which means that the combine performance is possibly fool’s gold, and expecting him to be a long term stretch 4 may be a bad idea.  However, even with the question mark on his shooting, his fluidity as a player, which allows him to do things like step out to the perimeter – a skill that is crucial at the 4 in the modern NBA – finish comfortable with either hand, and find open men in the offense will make him a contributor at the next level in some way.

— JN

56. Nigel Hayes

Nigel Hayes, when asked by Frank Kaminsky at the combine what he would bring to the table for an NBA team, answered with the ability to switch along the perimeter.  He then turned around and posted good quickness/agility drill numbers for a big, which somewhat indicates that that will in fact be what he brings.  His 7’4” wingspan on a 6’7” height should also allow him to play some spot minutes at Center, which will make for some interesting potential lineups.  While he doesn’t look like a great offensive player, he has seen some success playing next to guys like Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker, indicating that when he doesn’t have to create his own shot, he might be more able to contribute efficiently.  He should, more than anything, seek to get better at rebounding against bigger players so as to be able to play that small-ball 5 position that could really carve him a niche at the NBA level.

— JN

57. Tony Bradley

While fellow Tar Heels big men Kennedy Meeks and Isaiah Hicks will struggle to make NBA rosters after their senior seasons due to their size, Bradley has the 6’10” with 7’4” wingspan frame to safely make a team after just one season in college. Bradley could be the first North Carolina one-and-done since Brandon Wright in 2007, due to his skilled ability on the offensive end. He can score with either hand, and moves well in the painted area. Defensively, he uses his size and discipline to contest shots without fouling. As far as potential, Bradley has the tools to improve his jump shot on one end, and his shot-blocking on the other end of the floor. While he rebounded well in college, there is concern whether that will translate as he faces like-sized big men in the NBA. Especially because in college he sometimes disappeared in games when facing another big man with comparable size. With the ability to play power forward or center, and as young as he is, Bradley is a very high potential pick for an NBA squad looking to add depth to their frontcourt.
— PB

58. Alpha Kaba

Alpha Kaba is one of those players that has probably heard “you can’t teach size” since the day he was born. While Kaba isn’t overly tall (6’10”), a wingspan of 7’5” and tremendous skill on the glass are two things that the NBA values very highly. His offense is a work in progress, as it is with so many European big men at this stage of the rankings, but he’s flashed the ability to shoot from range (33% on 1.1 three-pointers a game) despite a slow and odd release. Whether he develops that shot reliably or not, the pure and unfettered tenacity as a rebounder and the intimidating length are two things that warrant a late second-round selection.

59. VJ Beachem

Beachem became the go-to for a Notre Dame basketball program in his senior season amassing almost one-fifth of the Irish’s team possessions per game and true shooting percentage of 55%. Beachem has the size and potential to be a typical two-way contributing small forward in the NBA. He will need to gain some weight and versatility so he can contribute at the power forward position. He’s best at spot-up shooting, but will need help to be more than just one-dimensional on offense.

60. Derrick Walton

DJ Wilson’s stock rose meteorically after the NCAA tournament, but Wolverines point guard Derrick Walton did not experience the same phenomenon. Though being 6’0″ with a 6’2″ wingspan is certainly not an enticing build, to watch Michigan’s late season success is to watch Derrick Walton. Time and time again, Walton stepped to the plate and delivered for UM, which badly needed an alpha to cover for Zak Irvin’s disappointing senior season. Though Walton certainly won’t physically impose his will on defenders, the senior consistently demonstrated maturity as the playmaker and the ability to create offense for himself when the time was right. Though he will probably most remember his airball in the closing seconds of the Sweet Sixteen against Oregon, Walton was exceptional from all areas except the rim in his final season, providing shooting splits of 46/42/88 on high volume (4.2/6.1/4.5, respectively) and averaging a statline of roughly 15 points, five rebounds, and five assists per game. Though he received drastically less coverage, very little separates Walton from Frank Mason III. While he will need to stop settling for threes and continue to ferociously compete on defense, the “Isaiah Thomas” package is there, ready to be tapped.

61. Isaiah Briscoe

While Briscoe’s performance at Kentucky seemed iffy at times due to shooting woes, he showed some high level skills that will allow him to translate to the next level, including excellent rebounding for a guard and an ability to distribute the ball.  Add in some skills you can’t teach — like being 6’2” with a 6’9” wingspan and his excellent times on the quickness drills — that have made him a good defender in the past when in shape, and you have a guy who actually has a good chance to stick around the league, especially if he sticks with a team that absolutely prioritizes the development of his shot.  Analytic models, such as Andrew Johnson’s, consider him highly too – Johnson’s model ranked him as more likely to stick in the league at some level than guys like Frank Mason III and Jaron Blossomgame, and as you start getting into the late 2nd, that’s really all you can ask out of your picks.  Briscoe has that, plus some upside, and so he’s a better prospect than people realize who could make a difference down the road from late in the draft.

— JN

62. Jonah Bolden

Former UCLA bench player Jonah Bolden has gathered some extremely strong supporters (i.e. people who think he should be a lottery pick) based on his Euro play, and while I don’t count myself among them, it’s easy to see why:  He has the fluidity and abilities of a guard, in the frame of a 6’10” rim protector.  At the Euro level he was more than able, due to good footwork and quickness, to step out to the perimeter and defend PGs, and while his dribble-drives in the half-court were somewhat interruptible, he has both passing vision and 3 point shooting ability (38% from the Euro line).  While there are significant quality of competition concerns, Bolden’s stock is certainly on the rise as more people become familiar with his play.

— JN

63. Isaiah Hicks

Hicks was a highly touted recruit going into North Carolina, but saw very little playing time his first two seasons. The decorated collegiate player ended up winning ACC Sixth Man of the Year in his junior season, and contributing significantly during UNC’s NCAA Championship run in his senior season. Undersized as a big man, Hicks’ game is very much a classic, down-low style. Hicks can hope to sneak onto a roster, but will need to prove he can bring the effort defensively and on the glass to make a roster spot worthy.
— PB

64. Melo Trimble

Once a projected late 1st round pick, Melo Trimble’s stock has fallen to where it’s questionable whether or not he’ll even be drafted.  A mediocre athlete with not much in the way of wingspan and length, Trimble’s upside is basically exactly what he is right now, and unfortunately, exactly what he is right now isn’t exactly all that pretty either because while he has a mechanically clean jump shot, it didn’t fall for him much at all these past 2 years, making the 41% of his freshman year look like fool’s gold.  Ultimately, Trimble may manage to find a niche due to offensive polish should his jumper start to fall, and some team may pick him looking for the next Malcolm Brogdon, but more likely than not Trimble will have a nice career in the D-League or Europe.

— JN

65. Marcus Keene

This section of big boards is normally reserved for players whose names rarely scroll across the ESPN ticker, and Central Michigan’s Marcus Keene is hardly the exception. The second undersized guard in a row to lead the nation in scoring from a tiny Michigan college (last year’s was Cavs PG Kay Felder, formerly of Oakland University), Keene is a shooter. CMU is one of the highest-tempo teams in the league, and Keene was its primary cog, averaging 30 ppg on absolutely mind-bending volume and efficiency: 51/37/82 percent on 11.2/11.0/7.9 attempts. Put up those numbers in a Power Five conference and we’re talking about the best NCAA player of all time, but in the context of UCM, there has to be an asterisk. The MAC is no PAC-12 or B1G. Despite 5 40+ point games (one where he scored 50 against Miami of Ohio), the Chippewas still finished at 14-16. There are still a litany of worries about Keene, who carries the typical defensive issues involved in being 5’9 and averaged just a hair over five assists, despite playing nearly 38 minutes per night. However, for a team looking to boost their bench scoring late in the draft, Keene could be the perfect player.
— WM

66. Kadeem Allen

Allen’s prospects at the next level are, more or less, as a 3 & D PG who can play instantly.  He’s already demonstrated the ability to defend, man to man, the myriad pro-level PGs of the Pac-12, including Fultz, Ball, Dorsey, and White, and that proven ability will almost certainly land him at least a summer league contract at the professional level.  However, due to his age (At 24, he is the oldest player in the draft that I’m aware of), he will likely not develop much more than he already had.  He has an NBA caliber frame, so there’s not too much worry about his game failing to translate, but he also didn’t show fantastic scoring ability against much less developed college athletes, so it’s likely that what we’ve seen so far of him is all he will ever be.

— JN

67. Marcus Marshall

Marcus Marshall is a unique prospect in this draft among shooters due primarily to his combination of volume and efficiency – No one else in this draft took as many 3’s per game as he did, and he converted them at a respectable 38% clip.  In a league where shooting is rapidly becoming almost more valuable than any other trait, he could absolutely find a spot in the league on that one skill alone.  Further, even should he go undrafted, which is probably to be expected, Marshall will have a strong chance to earn a roster spot through the summer league, which heavily rewards players who can score at volume as Marshall has shown he can do.  He doesn’t really appear to have many other abilities that will translate well to the next level, but if there’s one skill that can get you a roster spot on its own, it’s shooting, which he does.

— JN

68. George De Paula

George De Paula, like a few other prospects in this draft, may be taken despite having no discernible basketball skill.  He can’t do much on offense, since he can’t really take anyone off the dribble and isn’t a threat to shoot outside.  He’s not a great defender, because he can’t really fight through screens as effectively as he needs to, though the potential is there on that end.  But what that leaves is that ultimately, De Paula, who was only okay against some truly mediocre competition, is relying on his physical gifts to be drafted, and that that might well be enough anyway.  At 6’6” with a 7’0” wingspan, De Paula, frequently listed as a point guard, is a certain developmental project, but you can’t teach a player to have that kind of frame and move like he does, which will certainly draw some NBA team to look at him, especially with 2-way D-League contracts at their disposal..

— JN

69. Kris Jenkins

Jenkins is the owner of what is possibly the most clutch shot in NCAA history, but unfortunately has just a few too many flaws to be a highly ranked prospect.  At a stocky 6’6”, he’s an unfortunate tweener defensively, struggling to stay with wings, but too small to guard bigs, and while sometimes those things can be made up for in length or athleticism, Jenkins doesn’t particularly have either at sufficient levels to make him a surefire NBA defender.  The significant bulk of his offensive production comes from a solid jumper that he took in college at reasonable volume – he doesn’t have much of an off the dribble game — so ultimately, Jenkins may get a roster spot as a wing shooter, but he will likely be a replacement level player at best due to those limitations.

— JN

70. Aleksandar Vezenkov

Vezenkov is, pure and simple, a scorer.  He averages less than an assist per game, less than a steal, less than a block, less than a TO, and a mere 3 rebounds at 6’9”.  Even scaling this out to 36 MPG – Barcelona’s coach spread out the minutes on his team a lot – the only numbers that are striking are his scoring numbers.  Averaging around 17 points per 36 minutes, he hasn’t posted too high a volume yet, but his completely ridiculous 65% TS including nearly 70% inside the arc despite a supposed vertical leap of less than a foot indicate a series of skills that will make him able to earn a bench spot at minimum in the NBA, including offensive patience, finishing ability, and excellent decision-making.  His 3 point shot, meanwhile, is less trust-worthy than it appears.  While he took more than 100 3’s and averaged a respectable 35.6%, his shooting stroke contains a flaw that other NBA players like Frank Kaminsky have struggled with – on shots with more space, he dips the ball down lower in order to get more power on it.  This creates inconsistency in his form, which will cause struggles if left unfixed.  At 21, Vezenkov still has room to grow, but he may struggle to find a role in the NBA.

— JN

71. Kennedy Meeks

Meeks is likely the heaviest player in the draft, but that’s not actually as big a cause for concern as you would think – based on combine measurements, he’s not that different of an athlete from Justin Patton, who will likely go in the mid to late 1st.  He has average to slightly below average size for an NBA Center (The 6’10.25” from the NBA Combine was the tallest he had ever measured by 3/4ths of an inch), but his soft hands and fantastic rebounding instincts may find him a spot in the league if teams attempt to run lineups in counter to the slim rim protecting Cs who struggle against post-ups like Nerlens Noel and Hassan Whiteside.

— JN

72. Vlatko Cancar

The major things that will sell Vlatko Cancar are his shooting and his feel for the game.   Despite some struggles in Eurocamp, Cancar already has shot 40% from the FIBA 3 point line over the course of the season for Mega Leks, alongside 85.7% from the FT line to back up the smallish sample size there.  Cancar has also shown great proficiency in skills that don’t necessarily come naturally to players – things like defensive positioning and timing, and drawing fouls on the offensive end.  Unlike his other Mega Leks teammates, Kostja Mushidi and Alpha Kaba, he is not a complete freak of nature physically, but he still has NBA caliber tools such that they won’t hurt him.  A +3 wingspan differential on a 6’8” Small Forward is certainly not going to be a major limitation, and the basketball IQ that he’s seemingly displayed will certainly make up for that, so while he may struggle to keep some of the absolutely blazing fast PGs of the league in front of him, he will be at minimum solid defensively.  All of these things should add up to make him a solid role player for a team late in the 2nd.

— JN

73. Andrew White

Andrew White is a 24 year-old project player, which doesn’t bode well for his future success, but he definitely has the tools to make him worthwhile anyway.  He’s an excellent spot up shooter, rivalling pure shooters like Peter Jok and Svi Mykhailiuk, but unlike those guys, White has somewhat shown the ability to attack close-outs, a necessary skill to translating spot-up skill to the next level.  The biggest question mark surrounding White, partially as a consequence of spending his graduate transfer year at Syracuse, is whether or not his individual defense will translate to the next level.  He’s occasionally been very good, and he’s occasionally been completely lost, and the 2-3 Zone that Syracuse is famous for hid both that ability and that deficiency.  Effectively, in the past 3 years we’ve only seen 1 year of White playing defense, and that was at Nebraska where he was asked to shoulder a rather large load offensively.  Also of note is that he’s a horrifically bad passer – For someone with the usage rate that White has, 5.2% AST is incredibly low.

— JN

74. Sterling Brown

Brown is one of the more interesting shooting prospects in the back half of the draft because while he has a fantastic jump shot – he pulled off an absurd 1.333 PPP on jumpers – he has an ability not usually found in pure shooters to attack and finish at the rim, especially in transition, which makes him a much bigger threat to attack close-outs than most shooters.  What’s less certain about Brown, however, is his defense.  Brown carries a lot of weight on his frame, weighing in at 225 points despite only being 6’5”, which tells you unfortunately nothing, because it’s about the same weight as both Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Marcus Smart, who are two inches taller and shorter respectively.  The problem, in Brown’s case, though, is that it occasionally gets him beaten off the dribble, something that will only get worse against the quicker offensive players of the NBA.  His offensive ability will almost certainly translate to the next level, but in order to make a roster, he’s going to need to dedicate himself to becoming a good defender as well, so as to fill into the 3 and D role.

— JN

75. Eric Mika

Mika, possibly more than any player on this big board, will need to find the right fit in order to stick to a roster spot.  He’s a hustle player, and not much more, but he actually has the physical abilities to do that somewhat well, ranking as one of the quickest big men in combine agility drills.   He’s one of the best offensive rebounders in this class, and is similarly active on defense.   Offensively, he’s not going to be much more than a pick and roll finisher – he doesn’t really have the skill to step outside and shoot, and he’s not really got the finesse for a post-up game.  He is a decent passer for a big, so he’s not completely hopeless if the other team denies the roll, but there’s still not much offensive upside.  Similarly, defensively he’s got some agility to switch out to the perimeter, but lacks the length to really bother smaller guys.  That same length issue also hampers the likelihood of his PnR ability to translate as well.  However, Tristan Thompson has showed us that there is value in knowing exactly what you do and then going and doing it, and Mika absolutely has the abilities to do what Tristan Thompson is doing should he land in a similar spot.

— JN

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