Home NBA Insights into the Most Polarizing 2017 NBA Draft Prospects

Insights into the Most Polarizing 2017 NBA Draft Prospects

by Nate Draxler

2017 NBA Draft Prospects

I am going to provide my insight and evaluation of some of the more polarizing prospects as well as all the lottery prospects in this draft. The rankings were taken from nbadraft.net (which I routinely disagree with).

  1. Markelle Fultz 6-4 190 PG Washington Fr.

NBA Comparisons: Damian Lillard, James Harden. Fultz is incredibly skilled and talented. He has become the unquestioned #1 player in this draft despite the fact that his college team was terrible. He has no discernible weakness or red flags.  He is a great scorer at all three levels: At the rim, Mid-Range, and 3-Point Line.  He has amazing change of pace and herky jerky moves.  He’s so smooth and talented that it almost seems like he’s not trying that hard at times.  But I’ve always said that the best athletes are the ones that make it look easy. In the modern NBA where the single differentiating line among playoff/non-playoff teams is the quality of point guards, Markelle Fultz is an incredibly valuable commodity as a playmaking and scoring point guard.

  1. Lonzo Ball 6-6 190 PG UCLA Fr.

His Dad is an idiot, but don’t hold that against him. Lonzo has great vision and playmaking skills and can lead your team for the next 10 years. He’s the best passer in the draft and it’s not even close. His shot is incredibly awkward and it makes my eyes bleed.  It goes in, but it’s not pretty. Hopefully an NBA shooting coach helps him fix it. Think Jason Kidd.

  1. Josh Jackson 6-8 205 SG/SF Kansas Fr.

NBA Comparisons: Jimmy Butler, Paul George, Trevor Ariza. Some people swear he’s the best prospect in this draft class. I don’t agree although he is really, really good. He’s got a ton of talent and great measureables. His defense should immediately translate to the NBA. His outside shooting is inconsistent but shows some signs of improving. He competes hard and has a very low chance to bust. Not a pure scorer but can find ways to score.

  1. De’Aaron Fox 6-3 170 PG Kentucky Fr.

NBA Comparisons: John Wall, Dennis Schroeder. I really like this kid too. He’s very competitive and a freakish athlete.  His problem right now is that he’s unbelievably skinny. He’ll put on weight and muscle in the next few years as he fills out. He’ll be fine. I love him as a point guard that can attack the basket, distribute the ball, and wreak havoc on the defensive end.  Quick hands and ball pressure are his defensive strengths.

  1. Jonathan Isaac 6-11 210 SF/PF Florida St. Fr.

I can’t decide if I love Jonathan Isaac or if I just love the idea of Jonathan Isaac, a 6’11” athlete with long arms and a beautiful jump shot.  He is the type of player that NBA teams covet right now. He can guard multiple positions, shoot the ball, and rebound well.  He could be a 3 or a 4. When he fills out his body he could even play the small ball 5.  I love his upside. In my opinion, he’s a much better prospect than Brandon Ingram who was drafted #2 overall last year by the Lakers. The Timberwolves seem like the perfect fit for him.

  1. Dennis Smith 6-2 195 PG NC State Fr.

NBA Comparisons: Steve Francis, Stephon Marbury.  He worries me a little because he seems to have a low “Give a Sh** Factor.” I saw him play in person this year against UNC and he seemed completely overmatched and disinterested. He didn’t lead his team to a winning record. However, he has incredible athletic talent and explosiveness.  I saw him ranked #1 in some NBA draft rankings before this season. He has that proverbial “high ceiling” where he could turn out awesome.  But he could also be a coaching nightmare and never translate his immense physical gifts into actual basketball skills.

  1. Jayson Tatum 6-8 205 SF Duke Fr.

NBA Comparisons: Gordon Hayward, Brandon Roy. Tatum is one of those guys who are good at everything, but not great at any one thing. He has no real weaknesses, which means he likely won’t be a bust. He should be a productive NBA player at the least.  If he becomes elite at one particular skill, he could be a potential star.  He’s very skilled and fundamentally sound. I like him.

  1. Zach Collins 6-11 230 C Gonzaga Fr.

I’m not a big fan of Zach Collins. I saw him play multiple times including in person. He’s the type of player that does really well in college (especially against smaller competition in the weak WCC) but he will struggle to impact an NBA game. What elite NBA skill does he possess? I don’t see one. I would avoid him.  He would be great if this was 1988.

  1. Malik Monk 6-3 200 SG Kentucky Fr.

NBA Comparisons: Zach LaVine, Bradley Beal. I think Malik Monk has a very high “Give a Sh** Factor.” He seems ultra-competitive and aggressive. He was the best pure scorer I saw this year in college basketball. Calipari didn’t always give him enough touches, but Monk had some huge scoring performances this season, specifically dropping 47 points on the national champion Tar Heels. His defense is underrated, but his calling card is his explosive scoring ability.

  1. Frank Ntilikina 6-5 190 PG Strasbourg 1998

I don’t have time to evaluate international prospects. Sorry Frankie Nicotine!

  1. Lauri Markkanen 7-0 230 PF Arizona Fr.

NBA Comparisons: Frank Kaminsky, Ryan Anderson, Kelly Olynyk. OK, I will acknowledge that this kid can really shoot. Seven Footers who can shoot the 3 are rare and valuable, even though I’m not personally a huge fan of Lauri Markkanen.  Here’s my prediction…Markkanen will wow some NBA team in his private workout by hitting 80/100 3-pointers in an empty gym or something ridiculous like that and they will in turn reach and draft him well above his expected draft slot.  Don’t be shocked if Lauri gets drafted in the Top 8!

  1. Jarrett Allen 6-10 235 C Texas Fr.

Seems like a guy who may get a GM fired for never living up to his expectations and talent level. Yes, he’s very athletic. No, he has no idea how to play winning basketball. He is turnover prone and inconsistent. He could be Javale McGee or he could be DeAndre Jordan.  It’s up to him and his work ethic. Low floor high ceiling.

  1. TJ Leaf 6-10 225 PF UCLA Fr.

Not a fan. I mean, he may become Nick Collison and hang on for a long time. But he’s not a player I would build around. Could be this year’s Henry Ellenson. Who? Exactly. He was a 1st round pick last year that couldn’t sniff the court in the NBA.

  1. Harry Giles 6-10 230 PF/C Duke Fr.

Harry Giles is the biggest wild card in this entire draft. He was ranked the #1 player in the Nation coming out of high school. People compared him to Chris Webber! They swear he was awesome. Anybody who saw Duke play this year is saying “Who?”  Giles couldn’t even get on the floor for the Blue Devils this year. He was bad. Really bad. He has major medical red flags after 2 ACL knee injuries. Did not show any leaping ability at the NBA combine.  However, beneath all the injuries and lack of playing time lies the natural talent that landed him in the #1 slot a year ago, right?  Maybe he can get it back. It’s a huge risk. I definitely wouldn’t roll the dice on Giles in the lottery. If I was a playoff team picking at the bottom of the 1st round I might take a flyer on him just in case he becomes what he could be.  He likely becomes a bust due to injuries, lack of confidence, etc.

  1. Terrance Ferguson 6-7 185 SG Adelaide 36ers 1998

Go hang out with Frankie Nicotine. I’ll watch you in Summer League and then form an opinion.

  1. Bam Adebayo 6-10 245 PF/C Kentucky Fr.

NBA Comparisons: Serge Ibaka, Dwight Howard with a jump shot. This is one of the guys I am higher on than every expert and website I’ve seen. Everyone has him slotted in the very late 1st round or even 2nd round.  I’m telling you right now this guy should be picked in the Top 15.  Bam has the highest vertical of all the big men in this draft at 38.5”. He also has the best NBA body. He weighs 245 lbs of pure muscle with only 5% body fat!  Let that sink in. Picture Dwight Howard and Serge Ibaka.  That’s what Adebayo looks like as a 19 year-old.  He will immediately contribute through rebounding and defense.  He also flashed the ability to hit midrange jumpers in college. Kentucky never ran plays for him and rarely allowed him to do anything but catch lob dunks. He’s got a lot more to offer. But he’s also awesome at catching lob dunks.  This guy will be good, mark my words.

  1. Ivan Rabb 6-10 220 PF/C California So.

Boom or Bust. Came back for his Sophomore season and impressed absolutely no one.

  1. John Collins 6-10 225 PF/C Wake Forest So.

Had the highest PER (Player Efficiency Rating) of any player in the draft. He can really score and rebound. I like him a lot. The concern is that Collins is a dinosaur that doesn’t fit in the modern NBA. He scores on the low block. Nobody does that in the NBA any more. He can probably adapt and add some more stuff to his arsenal. But if he doesn’t, he suddenly becomes virtually obsolete like Al Jefferson or Jahlil Okafor. I think he’s better than that.  I think he’ll be good. High floor guy who will surely rebound well.

  1. Justin Patton 6-11 230 C Creighton Fr.

Another high ceiling guy who could develop into a long, athletic 5 who can switch screens and run the floor. Could also become a frustrating case of wasted talent. He’s a bit of an unknown coming out of Creighton after only one year.

  1. Justin Jackson 6-8 200 SF North Carolina Jr.

Should be a productive wing shooter and quality defender. He’s obviously a winner and a good team player from his experience at UNC. He might be another Otto Porter who improves every year. He has a nice 3-point stroke and can attack closeouts with his floater game. Justin Jackson has the best floater of any prospect in the draft.

  1. Donovan Mitchell 6-3 210 SG Louisville So.

NBA Comparison: Derrick Rose, Marcus Smart. Mitchell dominated the NBA Draft Combine athletic tests. He was #1 in almost every single category like vertical leap, ¾ court sprint, etc. He is an explosive athlete at 6’3” with a freakishly long wingspan of 6”10.” Here’s a nugget that most people won’t notice…he’s a 2-footed jumper. Why does this matter? Because when a smallish guard attacks the basket it’s advantageous to gather and go strong off two feet to absorb the contact and still finish the shot. His basketball IQ and decision-making needs some work. Some team will take a chance on him and his athletic talent and hope he develops the skills to compliment them.  Tons of upside here.

  1. Tyler Lydon 6-9 215 PF Syracuse So.

I’m not a fan of Syracuse players in general. I wouldn’t draft a player from Syracuse. The track record of them flaming out in the NBA is too long. I don’t trust a player that has only played zone defense to become a quality defender in the NBA. It hasn’t happened yet. Even the best Syracuse players like Carmelo Anthony and Dion Waiters have proven to be terrible defenders in the NBA. That bias aside, I still don’t like Lydon’s game or his body. He’s primarily known as a shooter but his shot takes a long time to get off. He has a hitch in his shot where he catches the ball then brings it down and all the way back up before releasing it.  A red flag for Lydon was showing up chubby to the NBA combine. He had the highest body fat percentage of any prospect at the NBA combine, including noted doughboys Kennedy Meeks and “Biggie” Caleb Swanigan. That’s not a good look for Tyler Lydon. I’m out on him every being a quality NBA contributor.

  1. Caleb Swanigan 6-9 250 PF/C Purdue

I personally wouldn’t draft a player with a history of weight problems like “Biggie.” He dominated college basketball because he’s simply bigger than everyone else. He won’t be bigger than everyone in the NBA. That’s a bad sign. He could become the next Jared Sullinger.  How is he going to guard the quick, athletic bigs in the league?

  1. Ike Anigbogu 6-10 250 C UCLA Fr.

NBA Comparison: DeAndre Jordan, Bismack Biyombo. Ike Anigbogu is a great athlete in a big, long body. His only skillset is blocking shots and dunking. But he’s great at both. With the right team, he can be a solid contributor with just those skills. Anything beyond that is probably unrealistic. He’s very unproven because he didn’t even play a lot of minutes this year at UCLA. He played less than 15 minutes per game.

  1. OG Anunoby 6-7 235 SF/PF Indiana So.

NBA Comparisons: Kawhi Leonard, Draymond Green. The predictions for Anunoby are all over the board. Some sites have him ranked in the lottery like ESPN. OG is ranked the #13 prospect on DraftExpress.com which I trust. Others like nbadraft.net have him in the 2nd round.  There is no consensus.  I love this guy. He is exactly what I want on my team (Minnesota Timberwolves). He is long, strong, athletic, explosive, and aggressive. He has a great NBA body at 233 lbs of sculpted muscle and a 7’2” wingspan with big hands!  Remind you of anyone Kawhi Leonard and Draymond Green??? He rebounds, gets steals and blocks shots. He drives hard to the rim and dunks everything possible. His outside shooting wasn’t off the charts but his form is sound and shows the ability to become a good outside shooter. He can guard positions 1-4 and possibly even small-ball Centers like Draymond Green. His per-40 stats are awesome: 18 pts, 9 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, and 2 blocks.  I would absolutely draft his guy.  I know he tore his ACL this season at Indiana and will need to recover first. But my gosh this guy seems to have NBA player written all over him.

  1. Semi Ojeleye 6-6 240 SF/PF SMU Jr.

I loved everything I saw about Semi until I actually watched him play. Semi Ojeleye is the captain of the “All-Airport Team”. He looks awesome walking through the airport. He’s HUGE and sculpted. He’s incredibly athletic and explosive with a 40” vertical. He crushed the NBA combine drills. He has everything you want in a “3 and D’ player on paper. Then you watch him play basketball and realize he has no real clue how to play. His basketball IQ is very low. He relies exclusively on his strength and athleticism. When he’s not bigger and stronger than everyone, I worry that he doesn’t have the skill to stay in the league long term.  I wanted to like him because of his measureables, but I just couldn’t get on board.  He’s a bit of a “bull in a china shop.”

  1. Josh Hart 6-5 210 SG Villanova Sr.

Sneaky Sleeper Alert! He could be this year’s Malcolm Brogdon that gets drafted in the 2nd round but comes in and contributes right away as a rookie. He’s smart and he’s a winner. He knows how to play and he’s a great teammate. He should stick somewhere.

  1. Frank Mason 6-0 190 PG Kansas Sr.

NBA comparison: Trey Burke. I’m really worried he’s the next Trey Burke. All signs point to that being his destiny. Barely 6’ tall shoot-first point guards can make great college basketball players but rarely make great NBA players. It will be hard for him to guard guys like Curry, Westbrook, Wall, etc.

  1. Devin Robinson 6-8 190 SF/PF Florida Jr.

This is another one of my sleeper picks. I really like Devin Robinson and I would take a shot on him as a 3 & D wing player.  His measurable are off the charts impressive. He had the lowest body fat% of anyone at the NBA combine at only 3.2% body fat. His hands are HUGE, measuring 10.25 inches wide and 9.25 inches long.  He also had a 41.5” vertical and a 7’1” wingspan at 6’8” tall!  All the tools are there.  He shoots it pretty well and defends at a very high level.  Every projection has him going in the 2nd round and some even have him undrafted. That is crazy to me. I would definitely draft Devin Robinson.  He has too many skills and measurements that could develop into a nice player.

In summary here are the players I’m HIGHER on than most sites:

OG Anunoby

Bam Adebayo

Devin Robinson

Malik Monk

Josh Hart

Here are the players I’m LOWER on than most sites:

Tyler Lydon

Semi Ojeleye

TJ Leaf

Zach Collins

Caleb Swanigan

I will post my 1st Round Big Board with my Top 30 prospects next.

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