2017 NBA Draft: Big Board Part Two— 15 through 30
In March, I published this year’s lottery projections. What follows is the rest of the first round of a draft that is proving to have more depth than it does a spark at the top of the board.
As mentioned previously, the following is worth noting once again: A significant emphasis is placed on stylistic fit in the modern NBA, and thus, heavy deference is given to shooting, perimeter defense, athleticism and positional versatility.
Furthermore, there is a surplus of centers in today’s NBA. The glut of big men necessitates a sizable impact in short order from a high-drafted center, or one sacrifices the value of their lottery pick. That is why one may find more big men in the rankings below than were included in the lottery projection.
The Rest of the First Round
15. Sindarius Thornwell (Wing, 22, 6'5", 214 lbs)
Strengths: Standing 6'5" with a 6'9" wingspan and a muscled frame, Thornwell has ideal size for an NBA wing who can play multiple positions. He is quite polished as a four-year player, and has shouldered a 20%+ usage rate each year at school. He contributes all over the floor, and is an extremely adept rebounder for his size.
Defensively, Thornwell is one of the draft’s best prospects. He can guard multiple positions, has elite lateral quickness and a perpetual intensity that is rare to find on the defensive end.
He has a powerful first step and can create his own shot, both leading to a high free throw rate. While his senior season was the only one in which he was overtly efficient, Thornwell was one of the nation’s best scorers this year and displayed consistent three-point range. If he can translate that skill to the NBA, he may be worth a lottery selection simply due to his readiness defensively.
Weaknesses: Thornwell was only an efficient scorer this season, and shot poorly from the field in each of his prior years at school. He has never displayed above-average passing ability, and is not the quickest or most explosive player on the floor. While he was an efficient shooter this season, his mechanics leave room for improvement, as his shot is a bit flat and he lacks balance shooting off the dribble. Thornwell will also be 23 in his rookie season, so it is fair to question how much growth his game will experience.
Stat Profile: Thornwell boasted an incredible .594 free throw rate this season, using his size and strength to bulldoze defenders to get to the line consistently. He shot 40% from three this year, a career high, and averaged 12 rebounds and almost four steals per 100 possessions, both also career highs.
He was an efficient scorer across the board, landing above the 70th percentile off screens, in spot up, transition, and post-up situations, according to Sybergy. He scored 1.042 points per possession as the ball handler in pick and roll, and 1.133 ppp on catch and shoot possessions. Despite those impressive rates, Thornwell was a career 40% field goal shooter in college, and only averaged 42% on two-point attempts.
This inefficiency does not bode well for his ability to be a secondary scoring option in the NBA, however, his ability to get to the line and improved jump shot should allow for a relatively decent offensive game. That combination, as well as his defensive potential, makes him a fascinating prospect, and certainly one worth selecting in the 1st round.
16. Zach Collins (Power forward/Center, 19, 7'0", 230 lbs)
Strengths: Collins is an adept scorer around the rim and can stretch the floor, both of which with a developed skill-set at only 19. He is long and one of the draft’s best shot blockers, showing elite instincts both contesting shots and disrupting passing lanes.
He has a soft touch with either hand and scores efficiently in the paint, getting to the line at a high rate. Offensively, he possesses significant natural skill, showing advanced footwork and a nice range of moves in the post.
His shooting ability and quickness will allow him to switch between the four and five in the NBA, a coveted skill, especially as a player who can protect the rim. While he is not the strongest player, his hustle, explosiveness and quick lift off one or two feet makes up for some of his physical weaknesses on the defensive end.
Weaknesses: Collins is not the toughest big man prospect, and his attempts to improve in that category manifest in his foul-prone style. He is an extremely intense player and is visibly emotional when things don’t break his way, and that has contributed to a belief that he has a low basketball IQ and is quite reactive to the flow of a particular game.
Stat Profile: Collins is an extremely efficient scorer, boasting a 70.3% true shooting percentage his freshman season. He attempted only 21 threes, but showcased an ability to stretch the floor by sinking 10 of them. He shot 65% within the arc, 74% from the line, and reached the free throw line at an incredible .715 rate.
He’s an impressive rebounder, snagging over 10% of available offensive rebounds and almost 20 rebounds per 100 possessions. Defensively, Collins was perhaps more impressive, blocking almost 6 shots per 100 possessions and swatting almost 10% of opponents field goals while he was on the floor.
Collins needs to work on curtailing his fouls, as he averaged almost 9 fouls per 100 possessions, and his inability to stay on the floor was evident in the National Championship game. He also is a bit turnover prone, coughing the ball up 5 times per 100 possessions, some of which are tied directly to his foul issues. However, statistically, this is the only flaw in his game, and he projects as a high floor prospect who could develop into an excellent two-way center. Due to his defense and versatility, Collins is likely to become the best big man in the draft.
17. Josh Hart (Wing, 22, 6'6", 204 lbs)
Strengths: Hart is an efficient scorer with three point range and defensive versatility, making him a high-floor wing. He is generally mocked in the 2nd round, a surprise due to his size, consistency and skill-set. His intangibles and feel for the game are similar to that of Malcolm Brogdon, another 2nd rounder who enjoyed a productive first season in Milwaukee.
Hart is effective as a ball handler, showing the ability to read a defense and finish around the hoop, as well as find the roll man in PnR.
Hart will be a floor-spacer in the NBA with a knack for rebounding, and will be a consistent two-way player. If he finds his niche, Hart will be serviceable off the ball offensively, and be an easy scheme fit on defense due to his ability to switch onto guards, wings and smaller forwards.
Watch below as he fights over an off-ball screen to trail his man, recognizes and activates on a switch, fronts the post pushing his man off the block, and forces a travel as Geben tries to take him one-on-one.
Once again, he forces a turnover on a switch against the four.
Hart won’t be your 2nd option, however, it’s highly likely that he finds himself as a solid role player with the potential to develop into a high-level perimeter defender.
Weaknesses: Hart is not the most athletic or explosive player, and struggles to create his own shot and finish against length, all of which will limit his upside, especially on the offensive end. Hart was efficient from three in college, however, he was never particularly adept from the free throw line, so it’s hard to predict whether or not his range will translate at the next level.
Stat Profile: Hart connected on 207 of 532 threes in college (39%) over four years, showing solid consistency as well as an extremely efficient 51% overall field goal percentage. Boasting a .377 free throw rate, he was also able to get to the line at a solid clip, thus giving him a career true shooting percentage of 61%, a highly impressive number for a wing.
He corralled 12 rebounds per 100 possessions over four years, another impressive stat for a wing, and only turned the ball over three times per 100. Between his knack for getting to the line, his ability to shoot from distance, his efficiency from the field, along with his rebounding ability and versatility on defense, Hart has a high floor as a rotation player and could blossom into a legitimate wing threat despite his age and average athleticism.
18. Semi Ojeleye (Wing/Power forward, 22, 6'7", 235 lbs)
Strengths: Ojeleye is a physical specimen who can do almost anything one would ask for in a modern NBA forward. He is uniquely strong and aggressive, has elite quickness, and can handle the ball in the open floor. He can shoot off the dribble or off the catch, can create his own shot, and gets to the free throw line at a remarkable rate.
Ojeleye’s frame and lateral quickness make him a defensive plus, and his size, strength and ability with the ball are reminiscent of an early version of Jimmy Butler’s current skill set. He exclusively played the four at SMU, but one can imagine him sliding among various positions in the NBA due to his physical versatility, three-point range and ability to play with or without the ball.
Weaknesses: SMU plays a lot of zone, so it is difficult to gauge Ojeleye’s ability as an on-ball defender. Much of the concerns surrounding him defensively are mostly due to worries that he will be undersized for a four in the NBA, however, at a muscled 235 pounds, I’m less concerned about the size discrepancy. Offensively, his ball handling and perimeter game are advanced for a forward, but not NBA guard-caliber, and he is an average leaper.
Stat Profile: Ojeleye connected on 81 of 195 threes in college (41.5%), and reached the free throw line 11 times per 100 possessions. He raised his three point volume to nine attempts per 100 possessions this season, displaying the ability to shoot threes efficiently on decent volume. He posted an excellent true shooting percentage of 62.3% this season, and ended college with a career .515 free throw rate. Despite a high usage rate, he rarely turned the ball over this season, averaging 2.6 turnovers per 100 possessions while boosting his assist percentage.
Ojeleye was fantastic scoring across a spectrum of play types, spreading his possessions evenly among spot ups, post-ups, cuts, isos, and scoring as the roll man in PnR as well as in transition and on put backs. According to Synergy, he ranked above the 70th percentile on all of the above, and each accounted for over 8% of his overall possessions. He’s a particularly excellent scorer on cuts and in isolation situations, scoring 1.38 ppp and 1.254 ppp respectively across 130 total possessions. He scored .927 ppp on jump shots off the dribble, and an incredible 1.7 ppp on 10 pick and roll possessions where he acted as the ball handler.
Ojeleye projects as a major sleeper in this draft as a combo forward with a solid frame and defensive versatility despite average athleticism. While he may fall in the draft, Ojeleye has a high floor due to his efficiency and ability to play multiple positions. Ojeleye likely performs better than his draft position, and should be taken closer to the lottery than the end of the first round.
19. Harry Giles (Center, 19, 6'11", 222 lbs)
Strengths: Coming into college, Giles was heralded for his physical tools, rim protection ability and gaudy rebounding numbers. Prior to his knee troubles, he was comparable in talent and athleticism to DeAndre Jordan, and was a high-flyer as a recruit, swatting shots and skying for boards at an elite rate. It is difficult to anticipate whether or not he will ever regain that explosion, and since it was such a vital aspect of Giles’ game, it is imperative to determine before selecting him in the first round of the draft.
Despite injury concerns, Giles did display a bit of the skill that made him such a highly touted prospect coming into college. Here, in the first clip, he establishes post position well, makes a decisive move when fed the ball, and displays a soft touch around the rim from outside the circle. In the second clip, he shows 18 foot range against a tight contest. In the third, he directs the motion of the offense, shows soft hands and finishes with contact.
He’s shown flashes as an above-average passer out of the post and in pick and roll situations, and has solid vision and feel for the game when he faces a double team.
Defensively, he had brief stretches of solid rim protection, blocking shots with excellent timing.
As a rebounder, he was briefly impressive on the offensive glass, and while he did not sky for put back dunks, he was skilled boxing out and finishing the second effort, as seen below.
Giles showed flashes of potential in his limited time, and as the season progressed, he began to exemplify why he was considered a preseason top-five pick. It is a risky selection, however, if Giles returns to a form similar to his expectation coming out of high school, a team in the late-first round may find a top-10 worthy talent.
Weaknesses: Giles entered the college season in recovery from ACL tears in both knees during his high school career and arthroscopic surgery in his left knee before his freshman year. Giles only played 300 minutes this season at Duke, and was visibly less explosive than he was as a top prospect. Giles clearly was working to regain his lateral quickness, and never became a focal point of a Duke team eliminated in the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament.
As a prospect, concerns about Giles focused on his defensive consistency and lack of a developed offensive game around the basket. He did little to quell those concerns in college. Despite limited minutes, there were times he was dispirited defensively, and showed a lack of patience with a high foul rate. He remains an unpolished prospect, and will require significant development to round out his game beyond his athletic potential.
In only 300 total minutes, it’s difficult to determine what Giles’ stat profile says about his future in the NBA. He was extremely foul-prone, with 11.1 fouls per 100 possessions, and careless offensively, averaging 3.4 turnovers per 100 possessions despite not passing often. However, he was relatively efficient from the field, showed a knack for grabbing offensive rebounds, and posted a solid block rate in limited time. He projects well as a rim-runner, but it’s hard to glean much from his statistical performance this season.
20. Jordan Bell (Power forward/Center, 22, 6'9", 227 lbs)
Strengths: Bell is the most versatile big man defender in this class. He has unrivaled energy, runs the floor with ease, has elite explosion and blocking ability, and can switch onto guards and wings effectively.
Bell possesses top-notch athleticism which bodes well for his ability to rebound offensively and be a decent roll-man in a spread PnR scheme. He can score effectively in the post against weaker defenders, and has solid vision and touch passing the ball on the short roll to find open shooters.
Defensively, the full package is there, and his ability on that end of the floor is reminiscent of Draymond Green. He has incredible agility, lateral quickness, and his explosiveness allows him to disrupt passing lanes and shots alike while keeping him in front of all kinds of ball-handlers. DraftExpress has him mocked at pick 39, and in my opinion, someone with his defensive versatility should not escape the first round.
Weaknesses: As seen in the Final Four match up against North Carolina, Bell can struggle defending bulkier centers in the post, has a somewhat wiry frame, and doesn’t have the most advanced box out technique on the defensive glass. As an undersized center in the NBA, he’ll need to improve on all three of those categories to become a starting big man, or it will be difficult to find significant minutes for him on a nightly basis.
Stat Profile: Bell posted a defensive box plus-minus above eight all three seasons in college as well as a block rate over 8% in all three years. Each season, his defensive rating has improved, and settled at 89 points per 100 possessions this season, an incredible mark for an undersized center. For context, he averaged over four and a half blocks per 100 possessions three consecutive years, as well as over two steals per 100 possessions.
He upped his true shooting percentage to 66% this season, reaching the free throw line far more often than his previous two years and converting those at a 70% clip. He was decent with the ball offensively, posing .9 ppp on post-ups, which he did often, and was an excellent cutter. Bell was adept at finishing in transition and on the offensive glass, where he was one of the most efficient scorers in college basketball, scoring 1.458 ppp in transition and 1.473 ppp on put backs on 114 possessions according to Synergy Sports.
He is slightly turnover prone, hovering around three and a half turnovers per 100 possessions for his college career, but makes up for those mistakes with an equal number of assists. According to Synergy, on 34 post-up possessions where Bell passed out, his teammates scored 1.382 ppp and shot 53.3%.
While Bell lacks both the size and length of a conventional NBA center, as lineups get smaller, he is a fascinating prospect as a defensive anchor due to his versatility and athleticism, and should not fall out of the first round.
21. T.J. Leaf (Power forward, 20, 6'10", 220 lbs)
Strengths: Leaf showed an impressive ability to score efficiently, dish the ball, and clean up the glass throughout his freshman season. The combination of his well-rounded offensive game as well as the much-coveted skill to shoot from outside project positively to the NBA, and if he can increase his toughness and strength, he should prove to be an enticing stretch-forward or center option off the bench. He rarely turns the ball over, and the combination of his shooting potential, passing ability, and scoring efficiency makes for an intriguing prospect.
Leaf has excellent feel for the game, getting to the right spots as a cutter and spot up shooter. As seen in the clips below, he can take advantage of mismatches in the post and can play with his back to the basket. He can attack a close-out and make plays in transition. Offensively, Leaf is advanced at all three levels and can stretch the floor effectively.
Weaknesses: Leaf’s most glaring weakness has been his play against better competition. He has struggled to score and rebound at an elite level against better teams, while he dominated weaker opponents in college. He lacks toughness and length, and has poor quickness both laterally and with the ball, and these factors may cause him to struggle on both ends against athletic forwards at the next level. While he shot well from three-point distance at UCLA, he did so on a low number of attempts, and was an average free throw shooter, so his shooting ability may also be a bit overstated.
Stat Profile: Leaf had a 26.6 PER this season, averaged almost 15 rebounds per 100 possessions, as well as four and a half assists per 100, all impressive marks for a freshman big man who did not play center full-time. He only shot 68% from the line despite a 47% three-point percentage on low volume, pointing to potential concerns that his shot may not translate, or that his three-point prowess was more of an anomaly. Despite that, he was extremely efficient, shooting a 66% true shooting percentage while only averaging two and a half turnovers per 100 possessions, and should have a decent floor as an offensive option off the bench in the NBA.
22. Jawun Evans (PG, 20, 6'1", 177 lbs)
Strengths: Evans ran the most pick and roll in this draft class at Oklahoma State, possesses a tight handle and effective floater, and is quick changing speed and direction. He gets downhill quickly and keeps defenders off balance with a handle that is low to the ground and an impressive change of pace ability. While he is not the most efficient finisher around the rim, he has a decent floater and is adept at getting to the line. Evans is also a willing passer and had a high assist rate throughout college.
In a league where premiums are placed on efficiency, Evans’ ability to get to the line and make plays for others in PnR will allow him to compensate for his frame and below-average athleticism, and likely produce a rotation ball handler at minimum in an NBA mostly focused around spread pick and roll offensive schemes. Evans has a precedent to follow in terms of lead guards with height disadvantages, especially when one considers Tyler Ulis’ success in the latter half of his rookie season in Phoenix. Evans has been lauded for his work ethic and toughness, and should be able to contribute due to his experience and skill in a modern offensive scheme.
Weaknesses: Evans is hampered by his frame, standing only six feet tall with a 6'4" wingspan. This significantly impacts his ability to finish at the rim, where he is unafraid to attack big men, but does poorly to convert on his opportunities. While an efficient three-point shooter, Evans did not attempt a large amount of threes in college, and his mechanics leave room for concern about how his shooting ability will translate. He has a tendency to shoot while off balance when coming off the bounce, and lacks a consistent release point which are both cautionary factors against his high shooting percentage from long range.
Defensively, Evans is no slouch despite his size, however, his height does limit his ceiling. He has quick hands and a strong frame which helps his cause, however he isn’t the fastest lateral athlete and opposing guards can shoot over him with relative ease.
Stat Profile: The two advanced stats that jump off the page when profiling Evans are his free throw rate (.400 for his career in college) and assist rate (42.9%) which do well to exemplify his ability to lead an efficient pick and roll offense. He was able to post a PER above 27 despite average true shooting and effective field goal percentages, both of which were hampered by his low overall field goal percentage due to his relative inefficiency inside the arc. Evans also coughed up the ball over five times per 100 possessions both years in school, which point to the importance of him learning to be more conservative with his decision making at the next level.
Evans proficiency in the pick and roll is well established. In 2016–17, according to Synergy, he was the ball handler on 270 PnR possessions, scoring .9 ppp, good for the 81st percentile in the NCAA. He was adept with his runner, scoring .952 ppp on 104 possessions, and was an efficient shooter off the dribble, scoring .955 ppp on 111 possessions. However, when he took the ball to the rim, he only scored .984 ppp, which fell in the 44th percentile of PnR ball handlers.
Evans’ success will largely depend on his ability to become a more developed three point shooter and whether or not he can become an efficient scorer around the rim. He has displayed proficiency to make plays for his teammates in PnR and get to the line, and despite his low ceiling defensively, should be able to hold his own to a degree. He was able to serve as the floor general for college basketball’s most efficient offense, and despite his physical drawbacks, will have a place in the NBA.
23. Justin Jackson (Wing, 22, 6'8", 193 lbs)
Strengths: Jackson has blossomed into a prolific three point shooter, has a high basketball IQ and has tremendous length and size which makes him a perfect offensive fit for the modern NBA. He has become a brilliant spot up shooter, vastly improving his mechanics from his previous years in college and has developed consistency when it comes to his shot preparation and release. He is extremely confident off the catch, which will make him an ideal threat as an interchangeable wing at the next level. Watch below as he displays his deep range and quick release on catch and shoot opportunities.
Jackson also possesses a solid one-dribble pull up game and floater in the lane, and has become an efficient shooter on the move coming around screens and dribble hand-offs.
Weaknesses: Jackson cannot be a primary scorer from the wing, and lacks the ability to consistently create his own shot or handle the ball in PnR. He is not adept at changing direction with quickness, and his thin frame makes it difficult for him to create space against defenders in isolation.
Defensively, while he uses his length and size to contain ball handlers, he doesn’t have the greatest lateral quickness and lacks the athleticism and strength to stay with stronger and faster opposing wings.
Stat Profile: Jackson shot 37% on 284 three point attempts this season, a significant increase from 120 and 92 attempts in the two years prior. He also converted over 50% of his attempts from two-point range, showing his efficiency on offense. However, his defensive statistics are not impressive (only 1.3 steals and 0.4 blocks per 100 possessions), and he rarely gets to the free throw line, only shooting 5.6 attempts per 100.
While Jackson became an efficient three point shooter his junior season, there isn’t enough evidence to show he is a lottery pick. There are concerns about his frame, quickness and defensive ability, and it remains to be seen if he can ever become a shot creator, all of which should push him outside the lottery.
24. Bam Adebayo (Center, 19, 6'10", 250 lbs)
Strengths: Adebayo’s NBA prospects begin with his size and athleticism. He runs the floor extremely well, is physical on the glass and is a tremendous athlete for his size. He has elite lateral quickness and fast-twitch verticality, and has superb instincts as a shot blocker. He can finish in the lane in PnR and is adept at scoring on the offensive glass and above the rim on lob opportunities.
His defensive potential is displayed below. Watch how he hedges on the PnR, recovers back onto his man in the paint, then helps on the penetration to block a shot with his off hand.
Adebayo’s ability to move his feet defensively, box out on both ends, and run the floor project towards a Clint Capela-like potential in the NBA. His athleticism and frame are ideal for a modern rim-runner and his shot-blocking instincts are intriguing as a primary rim protector.
Weaknesses: Adebayo is limited offensively, and is not as consistent as one would hope on the boards or as a rim protector. While he is an excellent shot-blocker on instinct and timing, he has shown a tendency for lapsed defensive effort and can be found out of position. He is a poor free throw shooter and it is doubtful that he ever develops a consistent jump shot. His post game is also undeveloped and unpolished. Finally, he only stands 6'10" in shoes, so he may have trouble with some larger centers who can elevate over him while shooting or grabbing rebounds in the NBA.
Adebayo’s rebounding and block statistics are disappointing to the eye and don’t jump off the page, however, one sees his defensive and physical potential elsewhere. His defensive box plus-minus was an excellent 5.3, indicating that he was an effective rim protector this season, and he also possessed a .831 free throw rate, showing that he was able to reach the line nearly as much as he attempted field goals. He was an efficient scorer, posting a true shooting percentage above 60%, however, he was turnover prone and did not display much potential as a passer. Overall, Adebayo projects in the Clint Capela/Steven Adams mold, and should be an elite athlete and effective rim protector who could blossom with a more well-rounded offensive game.
25. Justin Patton (Center, 19, 6'11", 215 lbs)
Strengths: Patton’s combination of size, athleticism and efficiency make for an intriguing combination in the modern NBA. He has displayed a solid jumper, and was a remarkably effective scorer this season at Creighton. Offensively, he projects extremely well as an explosive athlete in PnR, and could eventually develop into a pick and pop weapon, a valuable asset at the center spot.
The combination of his explosiveness and his wiry frame are reminiscent of Marquese Chriss, and if used properly, Patton projects as an offensive threat as he develops physically.
Weaknesses: Patton’s frame and instincts are not at an NBA level, and he thus has not performed particularly well as a defender or rebounder. There are also questions about his toughness, which limits his upside in those categories.
With below-average awareness defensively and on the glass, one is worried about his ability to anchor an NBA defense as a rim protector, and wonders if he falls into the Enes Kanter mold as a scoring big off the bench. While he is far more athletic than Kanter, his defensive questions might put a limit on his ceiling at the next level.
Stat Profile: Patton only took 15 threes this season, but he sunk eight of them, an impressive mark for a 7-footer. However, he was 45 of 87 from the free throw line (52%), so while both are small samples, it’s certainly possible that his three point range is a mirage. Despite that, Patton was extremely efficient, shooting 67% from the field with a 69% effective field goal percentage.
His efficiency comes mostly off cuts and post-ups, where he scored 1.354 ppp and .947 ppp on 79 and 76 possessions respectively. He was also in the 96th percentile in transition, the 92nd percentile as the roll man in PnR, and the 94th percentile on put backs, according to Synergy Sports. He projects extremely well in this regard as a rim runner and on the offensive glass.
Despite his efficiency on offensive rebounds, he only secured 10 rebounds per 40 minutes, and collected less than 20% of available rebounds while he was on the floor, both poor marks for a center. He utilizes his athletic ability to block a decent amount of shots, averaging about three blocks per 100 possessions. His statistical profile is quite similar to Adebayo’s, however, his rebounding and block statistics are more damning due to the poor competition he faced in college, and one can see how those marks may decline further as his frame limits his upside as a rim protector in the NBA.
26. Tyler Lydon (Power forward, 21, 6'10", 205 lbs)
Strengths: Lydon projects as a prototypical stretch four with his ability to shoot the ball from distance. He has a quick and high release and consistently shoots with excellent balance, which projects well as a pick and pop threat at the next level. His mechanics are simple and smooth, and it’s likely that his shot will translate well to the NBA.
Beyond just a threat popping off picks, Lydon has displayed fluidity both shooting while coming off screens and off the dribble.
Lydon is also decently athletic and has impressive leaping ability from a standstill, as seen here with an eye-opening put-back attempt.
His explosiveness is far more apparent off both feet, and he’s not particularly adept at leaping off the dribble, but his verticality when in position comes with formidable strength.
Lydon also possesses a bit of playmaking ability when attacking closeouts, which adds to the intrigue of his potential at the four spot. He has shown impressive vision and passing potential, mostly off one dribble when defenders close out hard against him.
While not a major pull-up or driving threat, he has shown decent vision and playmaking ability in dumping the ball off to the big when he faces a help defender, which bodes well for his versatility at the next level.
Weaknesses: Defensively, Lydon projects to have issues covering wings due to a bit of slow-footedness and his lack of lateral quickness. He is also not quick when changing directions. This combination bodes poorly, and he will not be a switchable defender due to his poor foot speed in all forms — laterally, changing directions and chasing players around screens. He may provide some help as a weak-side shot blocker due to his vertical explosiveness, but not much else. He projects solidly as a Ryan Anderson archetype, as a stretch four with offensive polish but lacking much defensive upside.
Stat Profile: Most interesting about Lydon’s statistical profile are impressive block percentages (7% and 4.7%) which compare favorably to other centers in the class, as well as his high three point attempt rate (hovers around 40%). He boasts impressive true shooting and effective field goal percentages for a player who takes a significant amount of jumpers (60% TS and 56% EF), and takes care of the ball, only turning it over three times per 100 possessions. He connected on 98 of 246 threes in college, and 169 of 209 free throws (40% and 81% respectively), showing excellent efficiency on high volume, and dished out about three assists per 100 possessions, another impressive mark for a big man.
Lydon will be a productive four in the league on offense, and has holes defensively, which may be worse than we have seen due to Syracuse’s defensive scheme. However, if he is able to add more of a pull up game to his already excellent spot up ability, as well as the ability to drive and kick, he can become an effective playmaking four and a legitimate weapon offensively.
27. Jarrett Allen (Center, 19, 6'11", 224 lbs)
Strengths: Allen has excellent physical tools with a wingspan that reaches almost 7'6", which contributes to his effectiveness as an offensive rebounder and finisher in the paint. He has soft touch around the rim, a pretty jump hook, can drive in a straight line and has decent ability at finding passers out of double teams. Defensively, his physical tools project as an intriguing option as a rim protector, although his instincts defensively have a ways to go.
Weaknesses: Allen’s motor and toughness have been questioned throughout the year, and he has a tendency to give up post position to players with more developed frames. He also tends to avoid contact and is not the most instinctual player, and these factors result in poor rebounding rates on the defensive glass. He has been burned defensively when chasing shooting fours around the perimeter, and will likely be relegated to the five due to a lack of a jump shot as well as poor lateral quickness. He struggles mightily at the free throw line and coughs up turnovers on a decent number of possessions, two things that can be improved as he becomes a more experienced center.
Stat Profile: Allen shot 56% from the line and had almost five turnovers per 100 possessions in his freshman season, while posting a true shooting percentage of 57% and a solid PER of 20. He had a decent block rate of 5%, and an adequate offensive rebounding percentage above 10, both of which are due in large part to his length and size.
He scored a significant amount of his points on the offensive glass, scoring 1.288 ppp on 73 put back possessions according to Synergy. His soft touch was emphasized as he posted up frequently, shooting 54% on 128 post-up possessions, accounting for 28% of his overall shooting possessions. Of those post-ups, he was far more effective on the right block, shooting 63% and scoring .97 ppp. He was a decent cutter and roll man, scoring 1.121 ppp on cuts and 1.094 ppp as the roll man in PnR, both above average marks.
On the defensive glass, he grabbed less than 20% of available rebounds, and totaled 179 defensive rebounds as compared to 100 on the offensive glass. He was disciplined as a defender, only fouling 3.7 times per 100 possessions. Overall, Allen is a prospect worth considering due to his physical tools and soft touch around the rim, and has the potential to develop into a solid rim protector if he can become more aware defensively.
28. Donovan Mitchell (Wing, 20, 6'3", 210 lbs)
Strengths: Mitchell has shown flashes of impressive shooting and playmaking ability, and his shooting statistics improved as the season progressed. He has smooth mechanics and has shown the ability to shoot from long range off the dribble. He projects as a rhythm shooter, and could be an interesting spot up threat with NBA spacing.
Mitchell is an explosive athlete despite his size and can play above the rim. He has elite leaping ability off of two feet.
With his verticality and excellent lateral quickness along with his statistical profile, Mitchell has the potential to develop into a versatile defender in the NBA. His frame may limit his ability to guard multiple positions, however, his strength will likely overcome his below-average size, and Mitchell could very well become a prototypical ‘3-and-D’ guard with the chance to become a secondary ball handler with finishing ability around the rim.
Weaknesses: Mitchell struggles controlling his speed as a ball handler, and tends to play in perpetual ‘turbo mode’, using his athleticism and first step to overpower defenders to get to the hole. Despite above average ball handling ability, he was not the best decision-maker in PnR. Furthermore, he is a streaky shooter and can be inefficient at times. When defenders sag off him, his decision making worsens and he can become an offensive liability.
Despite his solid shooting mechanics, Mitchell was an extremely inefficient shooter in college in a unique fashion. He was efficient in the mid range and a poor shooter from distance in his freshman year, and became less efficient on two-point attempts while improving his efficiency from long range in his sophomore year. One can be skeptical about his shooting ability, however, his free throw percentage and mechanics leave one with some confidence about his ability to score professionally.
Stat Profile: Mitchell posted almost four steals per 100 possessions this season, using his quickness and strength to get into the bodies of opposing ball handlers and force turnovers despite his shorter stature. He improved his PER and true shooting percentage to 22 and 53% respectively in his sophomore season, but had a poor effective field goal percentage below 50% and only shot 41% from the field this year. He is not a primary ball handler, only dishing out five assists per 100 possessions, but decreased his turnover rate while increasing his usage, which are positive signs for his decision making ability as a secondary ball handler.
Mitchell’s success will likely come as a result of his athleticism and explosiveness as well as his defensive potential, and can be improved upon by becoming a more consistent shooter. He will likely become a decent defensive player despite his size with a penchant for highlight dunks, and if he is able to develop into a secondary ball handler and three point threat, could be a legitimate two-way wing at the next level.
29. Ike Anigbogu (Center, 18, 6'10", 230 lbs)
Strengths: Anigbogu is one of the draft’s youngest players, having turned 18 during the college season. He is a high-energy shot blocker and is rumored to have a wingspan that surpasses 7'4". He brings excellent timing and instincts on the defensive end, and has no qualms about playing in traffic and absorbing contact on the glass. He is explosive above the rim, is an excellent offensive rebounder, and has soft hands catching and releasing the ball. While he only played in limited minutes, Anigbogu is an intriguing prospect due to his frame, athleticism and instincts, in the mold of the modern NBA center who can protect the rim and run the floor extremely well.
Weaknesses: Anigbogu is a poor free throw shooter and lacks polish offensively. He lacks a coherent post game or a jump shot, and is not a very willing or effective passer. His deficiencies in basketball IQ and feel for the game stick out far more on the offensive end, where he rarely attempts shots and turns the ball over at a relatively high volume.
Stat Profile: Anigbogu averaged nearly three turnovers per assist he dished out and only hit 23 of his 43 free throw attempts. Despite those poor metrics, he also grabbed nearly six offensive rebounds per 100 possessions and blocked five shots per 100. His block rate of 8.8% is one of the top marks in the class, and he posted an above average defensive box plus-minus and a strong defensive rating. His offensive numbers were not awful, with almost an 18 PER and a 56% effective field goal percentage and true shooting percentage, despite his high turnover rate and poor free throw percentage. Anigbogu is a raw prospect, but boasts incredible upside defensively and on the glass due to his frame, athleticism and youth.
30. Caleb Swanigan (Power forward/Center, 20, 6'9", 247 lbs)
Strengths: Swanigan is a force offensively and on the glass, having significantly improved from a poor freshman season where he did not meet expectations. He is excellent with his back to the basket, finishing well around the rim and showing the ability to pass out of double teams and find open shooters. He has improved from the free throw line, and his shooting ability extended beyond the three point line this season on a decent number of attempts. He is a tremendous rebounder on both ends of the floor, and due to that ability along with his shooting potential and wingspan (7'4"), he is an intriguing candidate as a small-ball five, or a stretch-four who can help cover for a poor rebounding center.
Weaknesses: Swanigan’s shorter height as well as his lack of explosiveness and athleticism may hamper his ability to become a starting center in the NBA. While he improved his conditioning from his freshman season, he still has a ways to go to get to an NBA-ready frame, and these factors all lower his ceiling, especially on the defensive end. He struggles to cover ground in open space and defend on the perimeter, which may limit his positional versatility to the center spot. He only posted 27 steals in 2000 college minutes, an extremely poor rate that does not compare favorably to other NBA prospects in the recent past. Swanigan is perhaps the most likely candidate to compare to recent centers such as Enes Kanter or Jahlil Okafor, a gifted offensive talent who provides little to no rim protection, significantly limiting his upside.
Watch some of those defensive limitations below, as Maryland relentlessly attacks Swanigan in PnR on the way to multiple easy buckets.
After getting torched in PnR, Purdue altered their strategy, cross-matching the big defender in PnR with their four man, Vince Edwards, as Edwards went to cover the ball screen and Swanigan switched onto Edwards’ man. However, even this unique strategy was not enough and Swanigan’s negative impact on the rotation was impossible to ignore.
Stat Profile: Per 100 possessions, Swanigan grabbed an incredible 22 rebounds, and assisted on 5.3 field goals. He shot 38 of 85 from three this season (45%) and 78% from the FT line, both of which helped contribute to a solid true shooting percentage of 62%. This efficient offense goes hand in hand with his propensity for passing, as he boasted an 18.7% assist percentage, impressive for a center. He provides almost no help in the blocks and steals category, contributing about one of each per 100 possessions.
Swanigan has many red flags as a prospect due to his physical profile and lack of contribution in key defensive categories. However, his rebounding ability outweighs those of previous offensively-minded centers, and he is a more advanced shooter than those prospects who have entered the league recently, both factors that may allow for more success than similar players from the past few years.