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PostSubject: ESPN Insider: Tourney Big Board: Ranking the 30 best NBA prospects   Mon Mar 13, 2017 9:57 am

March 13, 2017

Chad Ford
ESPN Senior Writer

The NCAA tournament is here, baby! And it's loaded with NBA draft prospects.

We've put together our second annual NCAA tournament Big Board -- a ranking of the top 30 draft prospects to watch over the next few weeks.

The rankings don't reflect who will have the biggest impact in the tourney. Far from it. Some of these prospects don't even play major roles on their teams.

Instead, these rankings show which players NBA scouts and GMs consider to have the brightest futures in the NBA someday.

Note: This Big Board differs significantly from our regular Big Board. Top NCAA prospects whose teams didn't make the tournament -- such as Markelle Fultz and Dennis Smith -- along with elite international prospects like Frank Ntilikina are excluded from this list.

1. Lonzo Ball

Draft projection: 1-2
UCLA
Freshman
Guard
Top NBA prospects not in NCAA tournament

1. Markelle Fultz, PG, Fr., UW
2. Dennis Smith Jr., PG, Fr., NC State
3. Frank Ntilikina, PG, France
4. Robert Williams, PF, Fr., Texas A&M
5. Jarrett Allen, C, Fr., Texas
6. Ivan Rabb, PF, So., Cal
7. Isaiah Hartenstein, PF, Germany
8. OG Anunoby, F, So., Indiana
9. Terrance Ferguson, SG, Australia
10. Rodions Kurucs, SF, Latvia

First game (3/17): (3) UCLA vs. (14) Kent State

Potential second-round matchup: (6) Cincinnati, (11) Providence or USC

With Markelle Fultz's season over (and the Washington guard still ranked No. 1 overall in our top 100), the NCAA tournament will be Ball's best chance to convince scouts that he's the top prospect in the draft.

Ball has the game and demeanor to do it. He's the best passer in college basketball, with ridiculous range on his jumper and an elite basketball IQ. He thrives in big-game situations.

Ball has the ability to lead the Bruins all the way to an NCAA title. If he does (or even gets to the Final Four) the narrative that he's a winner who makes his teammates better could give him the edge over Fultz.
2. Josh Jackson

Draft projection: 1-5
Kansas
Freshman
Forward

Editor's Picks

NBA draft 2017: Complete coverage

From prospect projections to the lottery and draft night, ESPN.com has complete coverage of the 2017 NBA draft.

First game (3/17): (1) KU vs. (16) NC Central or UC Davis

Potential second-round matchup: (8) Miami or (9) Michigan State

Jackson has been coming on strong over the last month of the season. He has always had an elite motor and the ability to impact the game on both ends of the court, but it has been his improved shooting stroke that has caught scouts' eyes.

If Jackson can be even a solid shooter, he has the chance to be a superstar. Some recent legal trouble has hurt his image a bit with scouts (especially after his absence in the first game of the Big 12 tournament helped lead to an early KU exit). A big NCAA tournament leading KU to a NCAA title would help change that story.
3. Jayson Tatum

Draft projection: 3-8
Duke
Freshman
Forward

First game (3/17): (2) Duke vs. (15) Troy

Potential second round matchup: (7) South Carolina or (10) Marquette

No one on this board has had a better week than Tatum. He has moved up four spots in our top 100 from No. 8 to No. 4. He's peaking at the exactly the right time.

In front of lots of NBA scouts in Brooklyn he led Duke to an ACC conference title, averaging 22 PPG in the tournament and showing off a number of pro moves in his one-one-one game.

His ability to get his own shot, elite athleticism and NBA body have scouts drooling. His 3-point shot is still a question mark (he shot 3-for-15 from deep during the ACC tourney) but if Tatum keeps playing like this the rest of March and leads Duke deep, he'll get some looks at the very top of the draft.
4. De'Aaron Fox

Previous rank: 6-12
Kentucky
Freshman
Guard

First game (3/17): (2) Kentucky vs. (15) Northern Kentucky

Potential second-round matchup: (7) Dayton or (10) Wichita State

Fox is also peaking at just the right time. He battled minor injuries and poor shooting through much of January and February before catching fire of late. He was the best player on the floor for Kentucky in the SEC tournament, averaging 22 PPG and -- even more importantly for him -- hitting the majority of his jump shots.

After not being able to buy a 3-pointer for much of the season, Fox is 7-for-12 from deep over his past six games. It's a small sample size, but his jumper has been passing the eye test. If he can hit shots, he has everything else teams look for in a point guard with his elite speed, size, quickness and leadership. He has moved from No. 9 to No. 6 in our top 100.
5. Malik Monk

Draft projection: 6-12
Kentucky
Freshman
Guard

First game (3/17): (2) Kentucky vs. (15) Northern Kentucky

Potential second-round matchup: (7) Dayton or (10) Wichita State

Monk may be the best scorer in this draft class. He's an electric athlete with elite finishing ability at the rim and a volume 3-point shooter. He can get his shot off against anyone.

However, he can be terribly inconsistent, scoring two points one night and 30 the next. His lack of size for his position is the biggest concern for scouts, but in a league where 3-point shooting is king, Monk is an attractive prospect.
6. Lauri Markkanen

Draft projection: 4-8
Arizona
Freshman
Forward

First game (3/16): (2) Arizona vs. (15) North Dakota

Potential second-round matchup: (7) Saint Mary's or (10) VCU

Markkanen is coming off a big Pac 12 conference tournament. He'd been in a major 3-point shooting slump but went 8-for-17 from 3 in the tourney, including a huge 29-point outing against UCLA.

While Markkanen is improving as a low-post player, his main attraction is his shooting ability at his size. The NBA is a trendy league and teams are hungry for big guys who can stretch the floor. No one in the draft does that better than Markannen.
7. Jonathan Isaac

Draft projections: 4-8
FSU
Freshman
Forward
2017 NBA draft

Get ready for Markelle Fultz, Lonzo Ball and the 2017 draft, with analysis from Chad Ford and other ESPN experts.

• Mock Draft 3.3
• Big Board 4.0
• Ultimate lottery guide
• Who's the No. 1 pick?
• Ford: Top 100 prospect rankings

First game (3/16): (3) Florida State vs.. (14) Florida Gulf Coast

Potential second round matchup: (6) Maryland or (11) Xavier

Isaac has elite upside, but his lack of strength and inconsistent production has dinged his draft stock a little bit the last month of the season. He has cracked double-digit scoring just once in his past four games and he has shot just 2-for-11 from 3.

The good news is that he put up two elite rebounding games in the ACC tournament, grabbing 12 boards against Georgia Tech and 15 against Notre Dame. With Tatum coming on strong, Isaac is going to need a big NCAA tournament to convince scouts to take his upside over Tatum's ability to deliver right now.
8. Miles Bridges

Draft projection: 8-12
Michigan State
Freshman
Forward

First game (3/16): (9) Michigan State vs. (8) Miami

Potential second-round matchup: (1) Kansas, NC Central or UC Davis

Bridges has that rare combination of elite athleticism, an NBA body and loads of basketball skills. He can be one of the most exciting players in the country when he gets it going.

After playing like a turnover machine early in the season, he's averaging just one turnover per game in his past six outings.
9. Harry Giles

Draft projection: 8-20
Duke
Freshman
Forward

First game (3/17): (2) Duke vs. (15) Troy

Potential second round matchup: (7) South Carolina or (10) Marquette

Giles is completely an upside pick right now. He was the consensus best player in high school basketball before tearing his ACL for a second time at the start of his senior season. After another knee procedure this fall, he's slowly rounding back into form for Duke at just the right time.

He had a solid ACC tournament, especially in the big game against North Carolina where he put up six points, seven rebounds and four blocks in 15 big minutes for the Blue Devils. When he plays like that you can see why some scouts say there's no way he gets out of the lottery as long as his knee checks out OK. A big NCAA tournament could push him way up the board, fast. There's no one in this draft with more upside than a healthy Giles.
10. Zach Collins

Draft projection: 8-14
Gonzaga
Freshman
Center

First game (3/16): (1) Gonzaga vs. (16) South Dakota State

Potential second-round matchup: (8) Northwestern or (9) Vanderbilt

Collins comes off the bench for Gonzaga, but in those 17 MPG he has been shockingly efficient for a rookie. He is a good athlete who can score both inside and out and also block shots. If he played a bigger role on a more high profile team, we'd be talking about him as a lock for the top 10.

He's also an analytics darling. He ranks No. 2 on Kevin Pelton's stats-only Big Board.
11. Justin Patton

Draft projection: 10-17
Creighton
Freshman
Center

First game (3/17): (6) Creighton vs. (11) Rhode Island

Potential second-round matchup: (3) Oregon or (14) Iona

Patton is competing with Collins to be the best center prospect in the draft. Like Collins, he's extremely efficient in the paint, shooting 82 percent at the rim, per Hoop-Math. He also has the ability to stretch the floor and is shooting 57 percent from 3 in a limited sample size.

His lack of elite rebounding or shot blocking lowers his potential a little.
12. TJ Leaf

Draft projection: 13-20
UCLA
Freshman
Forward

First game (3/17): (3) UCLA vs. (14) Kent State

Potential second round matchup: (6) Cincinnati, (11) Providence or USC

Leaf is one of the most offensively talented big men in the draft. He can score efficiently from anywhere on the floor. He plays with a high basketball IQ but also has a certain grittiness to his game.

While he needs to get stronger and some teams worry that he lacks ideal length and size for his position (especially on the defensive end), Leaf's versatility makes him an attractive prospect in the middle of the first round.
13. John Collins

Draft projection: 15-25
Wake Forest
Sophomore
Forward

First game (3/14): (11) Wake Forest vs. (11) Kansas State

Potential second-round matchup: (6) SMU

Collins has an old school PF game for a player so young. He's long, athletic and incredibly efficient in the low post. He also can rebound and block shots.

It's his lack of an advanced perimeter game that has some scouts wondering how he'll translate to the NBA.
14. Edrice Adebayo

Draft projection: 20-35
Kentucky
Freshman
Forward

First game (3/17): (2) Kentucky vs. (15) Northern Kentucky

Potential second-round matchup: (7) Dayton or (10) Wichita State

Adebayo looks the part of an NBA lottery pick. His strong, chiseled body is reminiscent of a young, smaller Dwight Howard. He's also an explosive athlete who is a powerful finisher at the rim. He seems to be peaking at the right time, putting up more consistent rebounding and scoring numbers the past few weeks.

However, his game is still a bit raw on both ends. He's an inconsistent rebounder (though he has been much better lately) and lacks the perimeter game that NBA teams hunt for in big men these days.
15. Caleb Swanigan

Draft projection: 20-35
Purdue
Sophomore
Forward

First game (3/16): (4) Purdue vs. (13) Vermont

Potential second-round matchup: (4) Purdue v. (5) Iowa State

Swanigan is having a terrific sophomore season. He came into college as an overweight but skilled big man. He spent the summer getting in the best shape of his life and the results have been pretty spectacular.

He is an extremely skilled big man who can get his shot anywhere on the floor. He has the strength to carve out space in the paint but can step out and drain jumpers as well. Some scouts are skeptical that he'll be able to keep off the weight once he gets a big contract, but if he can he's got a chance to be a good NBA player.
16. Tony Bradley

Draft projection: 20-35
UNC
Freshman
Center

First game (3/17): (1) UNC vs. (16) Texas Southern

Potential second round matchup: (8) Arkansas or (9) Seton Hall

Bradley is coming off the bench for the Tar Heels and plays an even more limited role than Zach Collins. He rarely puts up big numbers, but he's consistently efficient in the post, rebounds well and plays solid defense.

He needs to continue to add strength and experience, but a number of NBA scouts think he'd be ranked much higher if he were given a bigger role on the Tar Heels.
17. Josh Hart

Draft projection: 20-35
Villanova
Senior
Guard

First game (3/16): (1) Villanova vs. (16) Mount Saint Mary's or New Orleans

Potential second-round matchup: (8) Wisconsin or (9) Virginia Tech

Hart is the first senior on the list, which speaks to the strength of the freshman class. While there's nothing Hart does that particularly wows you, he's one of the most consistent and complete players in college basketball.

He's a solid athlete with great length who can hurt you anywhere on the floor. He also draws the winner label from NBA scouts.
18. Donovan Mitchell

Draft projection: 20-35
Louisville
Sophomore
Guard

First game (3/17): (2) Louisville vs. (15) Jacksonville State

Potential second-round matchup: (7) Michigan or (10) Oklahoma State

Mitchell is an elite athlete who can play both the 1 and the 2. He's an explosive finisher at the rim and uses his strength and quickness to be a menace on the defensive end. Plus, he's an improved albeit streaky 3-point shooter.

The question for scouts is about his position. He's undersized as a 2 but doesn't quite have the playmaking skills of a 1.
19. Ike Anigbogu

Draft projection: 20-35
UCLA
Freshman
Center

First game (3/17): (3) UCLA vs. (14) Kent State

Potential second round matchup: (6) Cincinnati, (11) Providence or USC

Anigbogu may be the most raw prospect on this list. He averages just 5 PPG coming off the bench for UCLA.

But the physical tools he possesses (both elite strength and length) combined with a workman-like presence on the boards and as a shot blocker make him an attractive prospect at the end of the first round.
20. Allonzo Trier

Draft projection: 25-40
Arizona
Sophomore
Guard

First game (3/16): (2) Arizona vs. (15) North Dakota

Potential second-round matchup: (7) Saint Mary's or (10) VCU

Trier has been on fire lately, averaging 22 PPG over his past seven outings. He has improved as a scorer during his sophomore season. He's shooting 41 percent from 3-point territory and is getting to the line nearly seven times a game.

He lacks elite size for his position, but in a draft devoid of great 2-guard options, he has become one of the hottest prospects on this board.
21. Luke Kennard

Draft projection: 25-40
Duke
Sophomore
Guard

First game (3/17): (2) Duke vs. (15) Troy

Potential second-round matchup: (7) South Carolina or (10) Marquette

Teams are hungry for shooters and there just aren't a lot of them in this draft. That's what makes Kennard such an attractive prospect.

Kennard is shooting 44 percent on 3-pointers, 50 percent on his 2-point jumpers and 85 percent at the free throw line.
22. Bonzie Colson

Draft projection: 25-40
Notre Dame
Junior
Forward

First game (3/16): (5) Notre Dame vs. (12) Princeton

Potential second-round matchup: (4) West Virginia or (13) Bucknell

If Colson were three to four inches taller, he'd be a lottery pick. Alas, he's a 6-foot-5 power forward who will try to convince scouts that his nearly 7-foot wingspan, athleticism, motor, knack for rebounding and ability to stretch the floor will allow him to carve out a niche in the NBA.
23. Justin Jackson

Draft projection: 25-40
UNC
Junior
Forward

First game (3/17): (1) UNC vs. (16) Texas Southern

Potential second-round matchup: (8) Arkansas or (9) Seton Hall

Jackson doubled his 3-point attempts, improved his 3-point shooting from 29 percent to 38 percent this year and is suddenly a legit first-round prospect.

He has good size for a wing and a great feel for the game, but his lack of elite athleticism and some suspicion from scouts about how fluky his 3-point shooting might be this season make him a bubble first-rounder.
24. Monte Morris

Draft projection: 25-40
Iowa State
Senior
Guard

First game (3/16): (5) Iowa State vs. (12) Nevada

Potential second-round matchup: (4) Purdue or (13) Vermont

There's zero flash to his game, but Morris is the most steady point guard in America, averaging an incredible 6:1 assist-to-turnover ratio over his past two seasons at Iowa State. He also has improved as both a shooter and rebounder.

He looks like a perfect backup point guard in the NBA.
25. D.J. Wilson

Draft projection: 30-50
Michigan
Junior
Forward

First game (3/17): (7) Michigan vs. (10) Oklahoma State

Potential second-round matchup: (2) Louisville or (15) Jacksonville State

Wilson is an athletic forward who can both stretch the floor and protect the rim. He has a rare combination of explosiveness and skill. His inconsistency and soft play (despite his size he doesn't really like contact in the paint) concern NBA scouts.

He's on the first-round bubble, but a big NCAA tournament could change things for him. He was outstanding in the Big 10 tourney for Michigan with 26 points, eight boards and three blocks against Purdue and 17 points, six boards, three assists and two steals against Wisconsin to lead Michigan to the title.
26. Moritz Wagner

Draft projection: 30-50
Michigan
Sophomore
Forward

First game (3/17): (7) Michigan vs. (10) Oklahoma State

Potential second-round matchup: (2) Louisville or (15) Jacksonville State

Wagner might be the biggest sleeper on this list. The native of Germany brings many of the things that Lauri Markkanen brings to the table and is just six months older, such as size, agility, a terrific 3-point stroke and a high basketball IQ.

Like Markkannen, he isn't a great rebounder or shot blocker, but you don't find many players with his size and skill set in the draft.
27. Dillon Brooks

Draft projection: 30-50
Oregon
Junior
Guard

First game (3/17): (3) Oregon vs. (14) Iona

Potential second-round matchup: (6) Creighton or (11) Rhode Island

Brooks would likely compete with Ball, Swaingan and Hart for the best college player on this list. He's the ultimate gamer, a scoring machine who plays with both intelligence and toughness. He can absolutely take over a game when he gets going.

His 41 percent 3-point shooting has helped his draft stock this season, though his lack of elite athleticism and quickness, combined with poor rebounding numbers, give scouts pause on how his game will translate to the next level.
28. Mikal Bridges

Draft projection: 30-50
Villanova
Sophomore
Forward

First game (3/16): (1) Villanova vs. (16) Mount Saint Mary's or New Orleans

Potential second-round matchup: (8) Wisconsin or (9) Virginia Tech

Bridges made a name for himself with a strong NCAA tournament as a freshman. He fits the physical profile of a 3-and-D prospect for Nova. He's long and athletic, plus he plays good defense and can stroke it from 3.

His consistency is still an issue, but a big tournament could land him back in the late first round. A number of scouts are high on his potential.
29. Johnathan Motley

Draft projection: 30-50
Baylor
Junior
Forward

First game (3/17): (3) Baylor vs. (14) New Mexico State

Potential second round matchup: (6) SMU, (11) Wake Forest or Kansas State

Motley is the motor that makes Baylor run. He's a super long power forward (7-foot-4 wingspan) who has improved dramatically this season as a rebounder.

He's got the body and athleticism to make it in the league, but his lack of a consistent perimeter game hurts his stock among NBA scouts
30. Frank Mason

Draft projection: 30-50
Kansas
Senior
Guard

First game (3/17): (1) Kansas vs. (16) NC Central or UC Davis

Potential second-round matchup: (8) Miami or (9) Michigan State

If Mason were three to four inches taller, he might be a lottery pick. Super tough, fast and devastating both at the rim and shooting from 3-point territory, he has been a legit NCAA player of the year candidate all season.

Most NBA scouts don't really love little guards, but Mason's game fits the profile of the smaller guards who do succeed in the NBA.
Others to watch

More: De'Anthony Melton, PG, Fr., USC; Marques Bolden, C, Fr., Duke; Cameron Oliver, F, So., Nevada; Ethan Happ, PF, So., Wisconsin; Chimezie Metu, C, So., USC; Dwayne Bacon, G/F, So., Florida State; Jawun Evans, PG, So., Oklahoma State; Chris Boucher, PF, Sr., Oregon; Justin Jackson, SF, Fr., Maryland; Grayson Allen, SG, Jr., Duke; Devonte Graham, PG, Jr., Kansas; Bruce Brown, SG, Fr., Miami; Bennie Boatwright, PF, So., USC; Frank Jackson, G, Fr., Duke; Jalen Brunson, PG, So., Villanova; P.J. Dozier, PG, So., South Carolina; Kobi Simmons, PG, Fr., Arizona; Rawle Alkins, G/F, Fr., Arizona; Wenyen Gabriel, F, Fr., Kentucky; Jordan Bell, PF, Jr., Oregon; Jacob Evans, SF, So., Cincinnati; Tyler Dorsey, G, So., Oregon; Aaron Holiday, PG, So., UCLA; Sindarius Thornwell, SG, Sr., South Carolina; Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, G/F, Jr., Kansas; Wesley Iwundu, SF, Sr., Kansas State; Joel Berry, PG, Jr., North Carolina; E.C. Matthews, G, Sr., Rhode Island; Kelan Martin, SF, Jr., Butler; V.J. Beachem, SF, Sr., Notre Dame; Devin Robinson, F, Jr., Florida; Lagerald Vick, SG, So., Kansas; Mike Daum, F, So., South Dakota State; Nigel Hayes, F, Sr., Wisconsin; Shake Milton, PG, So., SMU; Nick Ward, PF, Fr., Michigan State; Andrew White, SG, Sr., Syracuse; Semi Ojeleye, F, Jr., SMU; Jock Landale, C, Jr., St. Mary's; Isaiah Hicks, PF, Sr., North Carolina; Isaiah Briscoe, G, So., Kentucky; Luke Kornet, PF, Sr., Vanderbilt; Kris Jenkins, F, Sr., Villanova; Thomas Welsh, C, Jr., UCLA; Melo Trimble, PG, Sr., Maryland; Moses Kingsley, PF, Sr., Arkansas; Jordan McLaughlin, PG, Jr., USC; Vince Edwards, SF, Jr., Purdue; Zak Irvin, G/F, Sr., Michigan; Kennedy Meeks, F/C, Sr., North Carolina; Theo Pinson, SF, Jr., North Carolina; Isaac Haas, C, Jr., Purdue; Amile Jefferson, PF, Sr., Duke; Przemek Karnowski, C, Sr., Gonzaga; Isaac Hamilton SF. Sr., UCLA; Josh Langford, SF, Fr., Michigan State
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