2017 NBA Draft Big Board: March Madness Edition
A look at the Top 15 NBA Draft prospects with March Madness underway.
We are in the midst of another exciting edition of March Madness, as the 2017 NCAA Tournament is in full swing. The Sweet 16 is coming up later this week, so it’s time to accept the fact that the season will be over in a couple weeks. Don’t worry though, because the 2017 NBA Draft won’t be too far behind.
With plenty of big names still in the tournament, we’re going to take a look at our first Big Board, featuring the 15 best draft prospects at this current moment in the season.
1. PG/SG Markelle Fultz, Washington
Measurables: 6’4″, 195 lbs
Stats: 23.2 PPG, 5.9 APG, 5.7 RPG, 47.6 FG%, 41.3 3PT%
Right now, it would take a lot to knock Markelle Fultz off the top spot. He is easily one, if not, the best pure scorer in college basketball. And not only does he excel at putting the ball in the basket early and often, but he does so in an efficient manner. The eye-popping stat is that he shoots better than 40 percent from beyond the arc. Fultz possesses good size for the point guard position, but he’s more than athletic enough to play shooting guard as well. What’s so impressive about how well Fultz has played this season is the fact that he’s not surrounded by a lot of talent. Even with all of the defensive attention being focused on him, he has thrived and consistently performed at a high level.
2. SF Jayson Tatum, Duke
Measurables: 6’8″, 205 lbs
Stats: 16.9 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 1.4 SPG, 45 FG%, 33.6 3PT%
In terms of all-around skill, Tatum is the cream of the crop in this year’s draft class. After beginning the season on the shelf, he has gained his form and played his best basketball of the season down the stretch. Much like Fultz, Tatum is a really gifted scorer who is capable of creating his own shot, a trait that has him very high on the lists of many NBA scouts. Another thing that separates him from the pack is his versatility. He can play multiple positions on the floor, with his ability to handle the ball, shoot and score from all over. Tatum is really at his best when he can face up against a defender and make things happen with his unique skill set.
3. SG/SF Josh Jackson, Kansas
Measurables: 6’8″, 207 lbs
Stats: 16.4 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 1.6 SPG, 51.5 FG%, 38.5 3PT%
For NBA teams at the top of the draft in search of a two-way wing player, Josh Jackson is probably the guy they have at the top of their boards. He has great size to play either wing position, which would allow him to match-up pretty well from Day 1. Jackson has appeared to be a few steps ahead of the competition for the majority of the season. It’s rare to have a player with the potential to be dominant on both ends of the floor, but he could be that guy. Jackson is a gifted passer and has improved his shot as the season has progressed. Defense is his strongest suit though, as his long frame and athleticism make him a potential legitimate perimeter stopper at the next level.
4. PG Lonzo Ball, UCLA
Measurables: 6’6″, 190 lbs
Stats: 14.6 PPG, 7.6 APG, 6.1 RPG, 55.1 FG%, 41.4 3PT%
The way LaVar Ball talks about his son, you would think he was the second coming of Jesus Shuttlesworth or something, but I’ll be a little more modest. Lonzo Ball is a player who can stuff the stat sheet on any given night. He has pretty good size for a point guard and the skills to match the look as well. His most impressive feature is his elite passing. If nothing more, he’ll be able to become one of the NBA’s premier floor generals. He’s certainly surprised people with his efficiency shooting the ball, however. If Ball can continue to develop as a scorer and show that he can create his shot at the next level, he can be a star. If he can carry UCLA to the Final Four, Ball is moving up this list.
5. Dennis Smith Jr., NC State
Measurables: 6’3″, 195 lbs
Stats: 18.1 PPG, 6.2 APG, 4.6 RPG, 45.5 FG%, 35.9 3PT%
When he’s at his best, Dennis Smith is one of the most electric players on the floor, regardless of the opponent. He’s an explosive athlete and can score the basketball at will. With his athletic ability, he can make so many things happen on both sides of the floor. Smith is adept at getting to the basket and creating not only his own shot, but quality looks for his teammates too. Given the stacked nature of the point guard position this year, Smith may get lost in the shuffle for some, but not if you’ve actually seen him play. This kid can ball and will be a playmaker in the NBA.
6. SG Malik Monk, Kentucky
Measurables: 6’3″, 200 lbs
Stats: 20.2 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 2.3 APG, 45.3 FG%, 39.3 3PT%
Malik Monk is, without a doubt, one of the most exciting players to watch in the country. His ability to score the ball is what has him ranked this high, nothing more, nothing less. Monk is capable of taking over a game and makes it look extremely easy when he’s doing it. See his 47-point performance against UNC. He’s an explosive athlete, which can create serious mismatches for opposing defenders. When he gets hot, God bless whoever is trying to guard him. He’s doesn’t do anything special on the defensive side of things, but it’s a little easier to ignore that when he’s scoring at a high clip.
7. PG De’Aaron Fox, Kentucky
Measurables: 6’3″, 187 lbs
Stats: 16.2 PPG, 4.8 APG, 4.1 RPG, 1.4 SPG, 47.8 FG%
Similar to his Kentucky Wildcats backcourt mate, De’Aaron Fox will likely hear his name called in the Top 10 picks of this year’s draft. He is yet another explosive athlete, but he has what it takes to be a playmaker on both ends of the court. His combination of size, quickness and athletic ability could make him a fantastic two-way point guard at the next level. The only knock on Fox is his inconsistency as a shooter. He has been unable to establish a jump shot for the greater portion of the season, but if he can somehow correct that, he could be the biggest steal of the entire draft.
8. PF Lauri Markkanen, Arizona
Measurables: 7’0″, 230 lbs
Stats: 15.8 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 49.6 FG%, 43.3 3PT%
Lauri Markkanen may very well be the most intriguing prospect in the 2017 NBA draft. He’s a giant, yes. But, he also has one of the softest touches in college basketball. Shooting just under 50 percent from the field and over 43 percent from deep is no small feat for a player of his stature. Any time he takes the floor, he has the ability to light up the scoreboard, as evidenced when he put up 29 points against UCLA in the Pac-12 tournament. The biggest knock on Markkanen, however, is his defense, or lack thereof. The big man doesn’t really make much of an impact on that end, struggling as a rim protector. Where he lacks on defense, he makes up for with his offensive potential. Hey, it worked for Dirk Nowitzki.
9. SF/PF Jonathan Isaac, Florida State
Measurables: 6’10”, 210 lbs
Stats: 12.0 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 1.5 BPG, 50.8 FG%, 34.8 3PT%
There aren’t many players in the draft with more upside than Jonathan Isaac. He’s tall, lengthy and just an athlete personified. While Isaac most likely will not be a superstar in the NBA, he can affect the game in so many other ways that it shouldn’t matter. He can rebound, he can block shots and he can shoot. He needs to add some more bulk to his frame, but that pretty much goes without saying. Once he does that and develops some consistency, he’ll be an even better player. Isaac is still a super raw player, but the ceiling is fairly high because of his potential as a defender and ability to space the floor.
10. C Justin Patton, Creighton
Measurables: 7’0″, 230 lbs
Stats: 12.9 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 1.4 BPG, 67.6 FG%, 53.3 3PT%
If you haven’t heard of Justin Patton, it’s about time you get familiar. He’s definitely not a name that was featured on Big Boards to start the season, but the redshirt freshman big has climbed the ladder rather rapidly as the season winds down. To be honest, he didn’t get as many looks as he probably should have throughout the season, but he made the most out of his opportunities. Patton passes the eye test for sure and his game is continuing to develop. Those efficiency numbers are not a joke either. Maybe if Creighton got him the ball more, they’d still be in the tournament. Patton has the potential to be a true force in the post with his size and length.
11. PG Frank Ntilikina, Strasbourg
Measurables: 6’5″, 190 lbs
Stats: 7.2 PPG, 2.1 APG, 1.9 RPG, 50 FG%, 39.5 3PT%
Frank Ntilikina is not a name that you are expected to know, but he’s an interesting player who you will hear more and more about as we get closer to the draft. There are some concerns about his particularly small sample size, as seen in the numbers he’s put up per game. But, his numbers per 40 minutes are pretty good (15.9 PPG, 4.7 APG, 4.2 RPG). Ntilikina is still very much an unknown, but he should definitely be one of the first international players off the board. He has good size, long arms and is a quick athlete. He has the tools, but it remains to be seen if his game will translate to the NBA.
12. PF/C Robert Williams, Texas A&M
Measurables: 6’9″, 237 lbs
Stats: 11.9 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 2.5 BPG, 55.8 FG%
Robert Williams is another player who has made his way onto the Big Board because of his stellar play over the course of the season. He has all of the physical tools necessary to be valuable NBA player — great size and strength, and a 7-foot-4 wingspan. That’s what jumps right out at you, but his play has shown some flashes of how good he can really be. Right now, defense is his strength, as he’s developed into a solid rim protector. If he can continue to develop as an offensive player, the sky is the limit. Williams is very raw, but it’s not hard at all to see what the scouts like about him.
13. C Zach Collins, Gonzaga
Measurables: 7’0″, 230 lbs
Stats: 10.3 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 1.7 BPG, 65.2 FG%, 45 3PT%
Zach Collins has the potential to be a one-man offensive juggernaut. Sure, the freshman is a backup center for Gonzaga, but the upside is tremendous. His minutes have been limited obviously, but in the time that he’s spent on the floor, he’s been impressively efficient from the field and from deep. There are some questions about the level of competition he has played against, but you shouldn’t hold that against him. He can shoot and score in the paint, making him a good fit for the pro game. He’s even shown some ability to defend in the paint as well. I wouldn’t be surprised if a team takes a chance and takes him in the Top 10.
14. SF Miles Bridges, Michigan State
Measurables: 6’7″, 230 lbs
Stats: 16.7 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 1.6 BPG, 48.7 FG%, 39.1 3PT%
There are plenty of NBA scouts who love Miles Bridges because of his explosiveness as an athlete. He gets up and down the floor extremely well for a guy his size and is also a strong finisher around the basket. He has worked tirelessly on improving his jump shot and he’s improved in that department since the beginning of the season. That is a skill that he will need to prove that he can be consistent with because that will ultimately determine his draft stock. Bridges should excel in the NBA though because of his motor and his competitive nature.
15. PF Harry Giles, Duke
Measurables: 6’11, 222 lbs
Stats: 4.1 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 57.7 FG%
We’ll give Harry Giles a pass on his numbers because he missed a good chunk of the season due to injury. Even he came back, he still didn’t seem to be 100%. Teams are going to want to know that they can rely on Giles and his health and if they can’t, he could fall in the first round. The skill set and physical tools are there. He was a Top 3 recruit heading into this season, so skill isn’t the concern. Giles showed small flashes of brilliance in the ACC tournament, so hopefully he can stay on the floor long enough to improve his draft stock because it would be a shame for that talent to go to waste.