Top 50 2017 NBA Draft Prospects

Let’s take a look at the top prospects in this year’s NBA draft. These rankings will examine the best 50 players in my eyes, based on the tape along with the numbers. However, translating college and overseas stats to an NBA equivalent has long been a fruitless task; while I’ve considered the production these players have put up, much of these rankings will also be based on upside, floors, and projections with admittedly little quantitative data to back them up. In his last year at college, Kawhi Leonard put up 15.5 ppg on 29.1% 3-point shooting. This season, along with being arguably the best defensive player in basketball, he averaged 25.5 ppg on 38.1% 3-point scoring. Isaiah Thomas was the last pick in the draft and stands only 5’9”, yet this year he was an All-NBA Second Teamer. Morale of the story? Anything can happen with these players, regardless of what is thought of them in the pre-draft process. With that being said though if I were a GM drafting for my team, this is how I would set up my Top 50.

Note: This is not where I think these players will actually be drafted, but is instead my own personal ranking of them. For example, some people believe De’Aaron Fox might have a shot at being as high as the second pick this year; meanwhile, he is nowhere near that mark on my board.

Listed after each Top 25 player’s description is a comparison to a current or former player. If I couldn’t find just one that worked for a prospect, I listed two that the player could potentially turn into a blend of. The comparisons should be used more as a comparison of play-styles than actual ability. For example, I’ve compared Zach Collins to Kevin Garnett – that does not mean I believe Collins will approach Garnett’s success in the league, but rather that they play a similar game (good shooting for bigs, solid interior games, and great shot blocking skills).

 

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Picture Credits: Yahoo! Sports

 

  1. Markelle Fultz, Washington

Fultz is considered the top overall prospect by nearly every draft analyst, and the tape and numbers both back that up. Fultz is a smooth point guard who makes the game look natural in a similar way that Ben Simmons did last year, and he averaged nearly a 23-6-6 to go with an elite 27.9 PER. He showed he can help his future team out in nearly every way, playing strong defense, handling the ball, driving the basket, and pulling up from 3. Throw in his superb measurements (6’4” with a wingspan about 6’10”) and he’s one of the best point prospects in recent memory. The one knock against him is that his team performed poorly during the season; but similarly to Simmons, it’s foolish to hold that against a guy this good.

NBA Comp: James Harden/D’Angelo Russell

 

  1. Lonzo Ball, UCLA,

While every headline these days seems to be about Lonzo’s father, LaVar, his son really can ball (sorry, I’ll stop now). Lonzo is devastatingly quick offensively and he possesses an amazing blend of speed, height (6’6”), and vision (7.6 APG). He’s got a bit of a funky jump shot that could turn some people off – especially with the new emphasis in the NBA on pull-up jumpers off of a screen – but the results he’s shown are strong (41% from deep last year). If he can add some strength in the future and become a stronger finisher, he has the potential to be a very good player for a long time.

NBA Comp: Jason Kidd/Goran Dragic

 

  1. Josh Jackson, Kansas

Jackson possesses possibly the most potential as a two-way player in this draft class. He averaged roughly 16-7.5-3 offensively with a 24.1 PER, but he’s known more for all-around having a very strong basketball IQ along with incredible athleticism. That combined with his aggressiveness and versatility on the defensive end should allow him to be a premier defender in the league, giving him a very high floor. Offensively, he has a decent jumper to go with good driving and finishing skills. Overall, off-the-court issues aside, Jackson is a pretty good bet to be a strong player in the years to come.

NBA Comp: Andrew Wiggins/In-his-prime Andre Iguodala

 

South Carolina v Duke
Picture Credits: Bleacher Report

 

  1. Jayson Tatum, Duke

Tatum has shown a serious scoring acumen, and while his numbers are solid but not spectacular (17-7-2), he’s shown the ability to create and score off the dribble as well as anyone in this class. Other than his shot creation, he lacks another tool that identifies him as a star, but he doesn’t have any other glaring weaknesses, as he’s a pretty good distributor, rebounder, and defender with above-average (but not spectacular) athletic abilities. His shot from deep also shows the potential to improve as he gets older. In short, he’s another high-floor prospect who should thrive in the NBA.

NBA Comp: Jabari Parker

 

  1. Jonathan Isaac, Florida St.

Isaac is the rawest prospect in the top 5, but his skills have the potential to be devastating in the league. He might have the most upside in this entire class. Isaac stands 6’11” with a 7’1” wingspan, but plays with the skill-set of a guard. His ball-handling is elite for someone his size, and his jump shot has the potential to improve from an already good place (35% from deep). He’s fluid on the court, and he could be a matchup nightmare as he puts on some strength and grows into his body – too fast and skilled for 4s and 5s to cover (even in the modern NBA) and too big for 3s. While he may never meet his full offensive potential as a constant mismatch, he should at least make a great living as someone able to rebound (nearly 8 per game in college) and guard 3 positions effectively.

NBA Comp: Giannis Antetokounmpo/Brandon Ingram

 

  1. Dennis Smith, NC State

Smith has been a little lost in the circus of incredible point guard prospects this year, but he still possesses all the incredible potential that he had coming out of high school. Similarly to Fultz, his team did not perform at a high level this year, so he was criticized due to being the man supposed to lead them far. However, it’s hard to argue that he didn’t do his part, as he averaged about an 18-4.5-6 with a 23.1 PER. He showed that he can hit with a passable 36% 3-point shooting percentage, and his form shows great potential. And of course, he might also be the most explosive athlete in the draft.

NBA Comp: Russell Westbrook/Baron Davis

 

  1. Frank Ntilikina, France

Similarly to Smith, Ntilikina has been flying under the radar in such a stacked class. While his numbers might not be elite, as he is playing in a reserve role on an overseas team, Ntilikina has a lot of raw talent. First of all, he has the best size for the position in this draft class, standing 6’5” with an insane 7’0” wingspan – which might (no hard data on this) be the longest by any point guard in the NBA. He’s an incredibly steady ball handler and a great passer on the offensive end, and his length gives him a very high defensive potential. To go along with that, he’s got a nice shot form and managed to shoot 43% from 3 last season (given a small sample size). He might not “wow” with athleticism like a Dennis Smith, but Ntilikina has all the tools to be a very good point guard in the modern NBA given some time to adjust to the strength of the players.

NBA Comp: Dante Exum

 

Arkansas v Kentucky
Photo Credits: AP Photo

 

  1. De’Aaron Fox, Kentucky

Everyone else is a much bigger fan of him than I am, as I don’t really see what would make him a better prospect than Smith or Ntilikina. That being said, he’s extremely quick and has great potential as a ball handling, attacking, and defending guard. His measurables are pretty good, as he’s a 6’3” point guard with a 6’6” wingspan. However, he’s not the passer that Ntilikina is he and doesn’t have quite the same explosiveness as Smith (though he is very, very fast). He also has a jumper that is a work in progress, to say the least. He could very well end up being as good or better than the two guys ranked ahead of him, but I don’t see him as nearly the complete prospect that players like Fultz and Ball are.

NBA Comp: Derrick Rose

 

  1. Malik Monk, Kentucky

I’m a big fan of Monk’s combo of superb athleticism and spectacular shooting. He can create his own shot, and offensively, there are few in this class that can put the ball in the basket better. However, he’s 6’3” and there are serious doubts about him being able to handle being an NBA point guard because his ball handling and passing aren’t spectacular. He should be fine as a 2-guard, but he’ll be undersized.

NBA Comp: Eric Gordon

 

  1. Harry Giles, Duke

Giles didn’t put up great numbers at Duke or bear much of a resemblance to the high school superstar he once was, but he has the talent of a top-3 pick. The only things holding him back here are concerns about his knees. But he’s tall, has a massive wingspan, is relentless on the boards, and has even shown flashes of an outside jumper. He could either be a bust because of medical reasons once he hits the league or be one of the biggest steals of the draft.

NBA Comp: Amar’e Stoudemire

 

  1. Zach Collins, Gonzaga

Collins seems to be a perfect fit for the modern NBA, as he’s a 7-footer that can move well, block shots, and shoot the 3 all at high levels. After not playing much his freshman year at Gonzaga, some worry that he’ll struggle when faced up against NBA bigs; but when he was on the biggest stage in March, Collins shined. He might face some difficulties at first but in the long term, he’s a solid play.

NBA Comp: Kevin Garnett

 

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Photo Credits: Getty Images

 

  1. Lauri Markkanen, Arizona

After Collins, the talent takes a bit of a drop-off, but Markkanen remains an extremely useful player. While he doesn’t do much else but shoot, there is certainly a place in the league for 7-footers that can knock down 3s at a 42% clip and rebound at a serviceable level.

NBA Comp: Ryan Anderson

 

  1. OG Anunoby, Indiana

Anunoby, similarly to Giles, would potentially be much higher on this list if not for injury concerns, as OG tore his ACL earlier this year and could potentially miss a good chunk of his rookie season. However, few other prospects have the defensive potential that he does given his massive 7’2” wingspan, strong lateral quickness, and great energy. If he can knock down the 3 with more consistency, he has the potential to be a premier 3-and-D player.

NBA Comp: Jae Crowder

 

  1. Donovan Mitchell, Louisville

Mitchell is a point guard with an interesting blend of skills, as his 6’10” wingspan and good lateral quickness suggest that he’ll be able to handle pro guards well defensively while his huge improvement in his outside shot (and scoring ability) after his freshman year begs the question of how much more he can improve. If he can improve his ability to distribute, he can be a very solid starting-caliber point guard for years to come.

NBA Comp: Avery Bradley

 

  1. TJ Leaf, UCLA

Leaf does a little bit of everything – he can score, shoot from outside, rebound, and pass at extremely high levels for a 6’10” forward. However, his defense might be a concern as he needs to either add on a little more strength to better contend against NBA bigs or improve his lateral quickness to defend out on the perimeter.

NBA Comp: Kevin Love

 

  1. Terrance Ferguson, Australia

Ferguson has made a name for himself as a very good shooter who can jump out of the gym. His ball-handling still isn’t great, and there’s a bit of an element of mystery around how he compares to his 19-year-old counterparts after skipping out on college, but guys that can shoot from deep and possess athleticism can usually find a place for themselves in the league.

NBA Comp: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

 

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Photo Credits: AP Photo

 

  1. Jarrett Allen, Texas

Allen is a long, bouncy center with a great deal of defensive potential as a rim protector. However, his game is extremely raw, and he has yet to prove that he has an offensive presence when facing the basket. Around the rim, though, he has incredible upside due to his length and athleticism, which both give him the ability to score on dunks and with his back to the basket.

NBA Comp: DeAndre Jordan

 

  1. John Collins, Wake Forest

Collins is mainly known as an athletic scorer that gets most of his points around the basket, something that doesn’t quite fit in today’s NBA if other skills are lacking. However, he’s shown that he can hit to some degree from midrange, and he is still young enough that there is plenty of time to develop a more consistent jumper. It’s also hard to argue with his production, as he led the country in PER last year starring at Wake Forest.

NBA Comp: Ed Davis/Cody Zeller

 

  1. Bam Adebayo, Kentucky

Bam is a big, strong prospect who does little but rebound hard and use his strength and athleticism around the rim to slam down. While he offers little else beyond his effort and hustle, what he does do he does very well.

NBA Comp: Dwight Howard

 

  1. DJ Wilson, Michigan

Wilson is extremely long and athletic, with the ability to block shots and move laterally on defense, rebound using his huge wingspan, and shoot from inside and out on offense. If he can establish more of a killer instinct around the rim, he has a massive upside.

NBA Comp: Kristaps Porzingis

 

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Photo Credits: Sports Illustrated

 

  1. Justin Jackson, UNC

Jackson is a long, athletic, small forward who is surprisingly quick around the perimeter and showed off a much-improved shot from deep this year. His rebounding, defense, and distributing all leave something to be desired, but he could be able to carve out a role as an offensive specialist.

NBA Comp: Jamal Crawford

 

  1. Justin Patton, Creighton

Patton had a very efficient freshman season, where he showed serious potential as an athletic big who can stretch the floor and dive to the rim on offense and protect the rim on defense. However, he needs to add strength if he wants to be able to hang with NBA bigs.

NBA Comp: Myles Turner

 

  1. Luke Kennard, Duke

Kennard is without question the best shooter in the draft, a skill that NBA teams covet. However, he lacks some other traits that are vital to being a high-level player in the league – such as the athleticism necessary to cover pro guards. Most mock drafts have him going in the lottery, which is much higher than I have him ranked here; however, within the right system to capitalize on his biggest strength, he’ll be able to thrive.

NBA Comp: J.J. Redick

 

  1. Jonathan Jeanne, France

Jeanne raised his stock heavily at the combine, with impressive measurements of a 7’6” wingspan to go along with his 7’2” height. He needs to add a lot of strength; but with the ability to shoot from deep and block shots, he has a very high upside.

NBA Comp: Zydrunas Ilgauskas

**Note: These rankings were made before Jeanne’s diagnosis of Marfan Syndrome, which puts his basketball career in jeopardy. We wish him all the best.

 

  1. Ike Anigbogu, UCLA

Anigbogu recorded a ridiculous 7’6” wingspan for his 6’10” height at the draft combine, further supporting the conclusion that he has a ton of upside as an athletic rim protector. He’s one of the youngest players in this draft class and is extremely raw offensively, but he has the potential to grow into a strong defensive presence.

NBA Comp: Rudy Gobert

 

NCAA BASKETBALL: JAN 17 Illinois at Purdue
Photo Credits: STACK

 

  1. Caleb Swanigan, Purdue
  2. Jordan Bell, Oregon
  3. Frank Jackson, Duke
  4. Isaiah Hartenstein, Germany
  5. Jawun Evans, Oklahoma St.
  6. Ivan Rabb, California
  7. Rodions Kurucs, Latvia
  8. Tony Bradley, UNC
  9. Derrick Walton Jr., Michigan
  10. Monte Morris, Iowa St.
  11. Johnathan Motley, Baylor
  12. Semi Ojeleye, SMU
  13. Andzejs Pasecniks, Latvia
  14. Alec Peters, Valparaiso
  15. Damyean Dotson, Houston
  16. Josh Hart, Villanova
  17. Kostja Mushidi, Belgium
  18. Tyler Lydon, Syracuse
  19. Tyler Dorsey, Oregon
  20. Jonah Bolden, Australia
  21. Edmond Sumner, Xavier
  22. Frank Mason, Kansas
  23. Dillon Brooks, Oregon
  24. Derrick White, Colorado
  25. Sindarius Thornwell, South Carolina

 

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Photo Credits: Sports Illustrated

 

Other miscellaneous sleepers, in no particular order:

Marcus Keene, Central Michigan

Peter Jok, Iowa

PJ Dozier, South Carolina

Dwayne Bacon, Florida St.

Eric Mika, BYU

Nigel Hayes, Wisconsin

Chris Boucher, Oregon

Jaron Blossomgame, Clemson

Nigel Williams-Goss, Gonzaga

VJ Beachem, Notre Dame

Thomas Bryant, Indiana

Luke Kornet, Vanderbilt

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