Flagrant 2’s 2017 Big Board 1.0
We here at the Flagrant 2 haven’t really done a big board for 2017 …. I mean, we have done 3 mock drafts and listed out the Top-15 guys to watch but we haven’t jumped into the Big Board ring yet until now.
As always, this is mostly college guy centric as I don’t have much time to run to the edge of the dark web for full-game replays of international guys. I do like the sound of their names, but it takes some time for me to really get the necessary tape on them. With March Madness pretty much coming to a close this weekend ….. Thought it was a good time to release my Top-20 right before the season ends.
- Markelle Fultz, Washington, Guard
This is easy for me….. Fultz shouldn’t be jumped from #1 and he hasn’t been out of the top spot since he jumped Dennis Smith Jr a month into the season. Really don’t see how Fultz isn’t successful in this league. He has the size and length to play both guard spots, and has shown plenty in terms of playmaking skills for me to think he can be a lead guard at the next level.
- Josh Jackson, Kansas, Wing
Jackson is a rockstar with terrible hair but a rockstar nonetheless. He is the NBA Nerd’s favorite prospect. At 6’8, Jackson has long arms that allow him to be a pretty great shotblocker for his position and excel as a perimeter defender. He is cleaning up his jumper, but his playmaking and feel for the game is what sets him apart from the guys below him. Serious two-way potential here…. He improved his shooting over the course of the season, which is huge and really good sign for his long term upside as a scoring threat. Don’t know if he will ever be a 1A option on offense, but his skillset allows him to be a high-end #2 option.
- Lonzo Ball, UCLA, Guard
As I said in my “Flagrant 2’s Top-15 To Watch for The 2017 Draft” piece, Ball is one of the most polarizing prospects I have ever seen come through the college game. He is like the Radiohead of NBA prospects…. You either love him or hate him. I dig Ball but not Radiohead. The talent is there and it shouldn’t be question. The question marks around his defense are somewhat blown out of proportion too. He might not be the best as on ball defender, but he plays the passing lanes pretty well and knows where to be on the court. His frame isn’t a concern either, have you seen his dad? The guy is a fucking monster…. Feel like he can definitely fill-out. Oh yea, stop calling him Jason Kidd.
- De’Aaron Fox, Kentucky, Guard
I say this a lot but I am one the biggest Fox supporters outside of his family members. He is a legit blur on the court and not many guys at the college level can stay with him. On offense, people will point to his shitty numbers from distance but Fox has already has a lethal foul line jumper and can finish pretty well around the rim for someone who needs to add serious weight. The weight thing is my only concern for Fox but it is a huge concern. If he can add the necessary muscle needed to continually play his style at a high-level then watch out….. that missing three point shot will be a thing of the pass.
- Jonathan Isaac, Florida State, Forward
This might be a little high but I love Jonathan Isaac and it mostly comes from the fact that I thought he was going to be terrible. Isaac is definitely a stretch 4 with serious skills as a defender. Outside of Jackson, Isaac has the best floor as defender and has the third highest ceiling after Jackson and Fox. That isn’t a knock on Isaac, just think Fox when he fills out could be a monster on D. Okay, back to Isaac…. On offense he screams “Elite Role Player” due to his skillset and any team that already has a cornerstone piece should jump for joy if Isaac is available. He is loves to battle in the paint and has a fluid jumper that should translate pretty well to the NBA. The reason he screams “Elite Role Player” is really based on his limited upside as a playmaker, which unless improves is the reason he can’t be that 1A guy. Isaac shouldn’t be compared to Ingram or Durant but instead Rashard Lewis.
- Jayson Tatum, Duke, Combo Forward
Tatum is a weird prospect. If this was 2012 then Tatum would be Top-3 for me but my views on prospects have changed. Heavy ISO players who stop the flow of an offense are not the guys I would build a team around but that shouldn’t stop teams from drafting Tatum. At 19, Tatum can easily mature as a player and find success in a team system. His defense isn’t a major issue like it is with some other talented scorers in this draft, but it doesn’t help that the other top wing he gets compared to in this class is a monster on the defensive side with a blossoming perimeter game. Tatum could be a great player in the NBA with multiple All-Star appearances, but I feel like he will fall victim to the DeRozan internet hate.
- Dennis Smith Jr, North Carolina State, Guard
Man …. It is crazy how far I have fallen off the Dennis Smith bandwagon. I had high hopes for him but his style of play just doesn’t scream “SUCCESS” at the next level. It also doesn’t help that he has t-rex arms, which creates a serious disadvantage for him on defense at the next level. High usage guards with short arms and a below average jumper are not the type of guys you want to build around but I can’t knock the hustle. If he can improve his perimeter game then Smith Jr has a real shot of being a superstar because his athleticism and ability to finish is incredible.
- Malik Monk, Kentucky, Guard
Let me say this ….. I think Monk could easily be a Top-5 pick if a team is drafting on team need and not best available player. Like Ball, he is a pretty polarizing prospect due to his advanced offense game which has people oozing with hype but his flaws are pretty evident. First off, his defense is pretty fucking suspect and he doesn’t have great length to guard bigger players which means the team drafting him better have a tall lead guard like James Harden or some sort of defensive juggernaut like Marcus Smart. Also, for folks who think Monk can play PG…. you should probably stop thinking that because he is in no way a PG. Okay …. Now if you like guys who can flat out score with Steph Curry range and elite athleticism then go draft Monk but be aware of his defensive inefficiencies.
- Lauri Markkanen, Arizona, Forward
The Tall White Guy Who Can Shoot 3’s spectrum is a real thing and it is built to help someone figure out what type of white guy they are drafting. It is much easier than comparing a prospect to Dirk, KP or Ryan Anderson. If I am putting Markkanen on the spectrum, I would say he is somewhere between Ryan Anderson and Kristaps Porzingis but heavily trending towards Anderson. The high level of skill that Markkanen displays on the offensive end is impressive. On a good night, Markkanen was one of the more fun prospects to watch but his defensive awareness leaves him with a huge hole to fill to be more than a sharpshooting floor spacer in the NBA.
- Miles Bridges, Michigan State, Combo Forward
Big, big, big fan of Miles Bridges but the combination of average height and lack of elite length leaves me with question marks on his pro outlook. Along with his limited length, I worry that he might be too slow to guard wings and too short for bigs but I also worried that DareDevil the TV show was going to suck but it didn’t, so I am often wrong. This is a huge Big J Journo move but outside of Ball, Bridges might have be the most competitive guy in this draft. Just seems like an absolute gamer who finds success regardless of his limitations.
- Justin Patton, Creighton, Center
This is sad for me because up until a few weeks ago, Patton was #1 rated big but it was time to give up on him. It just seems that over last few months, Patton has just leveled out and hasn’t really impressed me. Like Lauri, his defensive awareness is pretty shitty but at least Markkanen has a skill that will definitely translate on offense and Patton does not. While Watson was out for Creighton, I had expected Patton to display more talent on offense but he didn’t. Still expect him to turn into a viable big man, and his raw skills are way to intriguing for me to drop off the bandwagon entirely.
- Donovan Mitchell, Guard, Louisville
If Charles Barkley was a guard, I would expect him to look and play a lot like Donovan Mitchell. Seriously, think about it. Mitchell is 6’3 but built like an absolute rock that can jump through the roof and looks like a potential defensive monster. No other way to describe him other than just a power player. If Malik Monk is the Captain America of Guard prospects for the 2017 Draft, then Mitchell is the Winter Soldier. That is a Comic Book reference that shows how different yet similar the two guys are.
- Zach Collins, Gonzaga, Center
There are guys who I will openly say that I was late to the party on, and Collins is that guy. When I first started watching Collins the first thing that stood out is how fluid of an athlete he is for someone his size and age. He moves really well for someone his size too and it shows in his footwork in the post. He works really great in the PnR and his jump shot looks really smooth too. He has upside as a potential threat from 3 in the NBA. On defense, Collins is better than I expected and one of the main reasons why he is this high. He has the skills to be a rim protector but also can switch onto smaller guys when necessary. Feel like he is Brook Lopez but with athleticism.
- TJ Leaf, UCLA, Forward
If the Heavy ISO Wing style of prospect is a thing in the past for me, then the big man equivalent is the next archetype I jump off of but for now I will continue to ride with TJ Leaf. These type of big men are usually finesse guys with great footwork but defense really isn’t their calling card. In fact, their defense is so bad that it keeps them off the court during pretty crucial parts of the game. That is Leaf, which is cool with me because I know that his floor is something along the lines of Enes Kanter or David Lee and that style of player will always have a spot on my team as a sixth man.
- Semi Ojeleye, Southern Methodist, Combo Forward
Love guys like Semi, and would rather have him over guys like Tyler Lydon and Jarrett Allen even though he is already 37. Obviously Ojeleye is older than most in the draft, as he already 22 but his floor is one of the better ones in the draft. I know that if I am drafting him, I can expect a versatile player who can defend multiple positions and also has range on his jump shot. On the surface he looks like an absolute bruiser but his jumper is one of the main reasons why he has sky rocketed into the Top-20ish for me. He doesn’t have much upside, but his strengths will allow him to find success as a combo wing off the bench for years.
- Johnathan Motley, Baylor, Forward
Another style of player who I love. Motley is a high energy big with great length and defensive awareness. These type of guys don’t have the most upside but they will find success in some capacity.If you combine all three of those strengths, more likely than not you are getting a rotational player. Motley seems to have all three of those great qualities but with added offensive talent. Motley isn’t a guy like Tristan Thompson, where you don’t actually run plays for him outside of PnR. I think he could actually turn into a decent offensive guy. Calling him a decent offensive guy means he could average like 14 PPG or something. Taj Gibson is the epitome of these players.
- PJ Dozier, South Carolina, Guard
I like length and Dozier has plenty of that. The tourney really put Dozier on the map for most people, but he has been in my First Round for the last few months and was ranked 14th in our “Flagrant 2’s Top-15 To Watch for The 2017 Draft” piece. He looks the part of a defensive stopper at the next level, but he does have question marks around his perimeter game. Right now, he needs a lot of work on his jumper but a team looking for a great defender who can also initiate the offense, then Dozier is that,
- Mikal Bridges, Villanova, Guard/Wing
Bridges is what OG fans want OG to be. Mikal is on a loaded roster so he might go unnoticed to many, and include me on that for the first few weeks of the season. At first, I thought this was just a Hipster’s take on the 2017 NBA draft, but Mikal is legit and I would draft him Top-20 on his defense alone. He is up there with the likes of Jackson, Isaac, and Mitchell as top defenders in the draft.
- Bruce Brown, Miami, Guard
He should probably come out this year, but another season at Miami as the go-to guy should help smooth out the edges of his game. He has everything you need and want in a modern day guard, but he does need to be more consistent from distance for me to have him over Mitchell. He should be a lock for First Team All-ACC next year if he stays. If he does come out this year, some team like the Jazz or Raptors are going to grab him in the 20s and the rest of the league is going to be pissed that they wasted their pick on Luke Kennard.
- Andrew Jones, Texas, Guard
When looking at potential guys who could declare, Jones is the one guy I hope doesn’t even though he is locked in as a Top-20 prospect. Jones is a lot like Patton with the raw physical tools but just needs to figure out what to do with them on the actual court. Don’t think it is insane to compare him to a mini-Westbrook with his style of play, athleticism and need to learn the “PG” position. At 6’4 with a lack of perimeter skills, I see him as more of a “PG” than “SG” but another season in Austin can swing me into thinking something else.
The final three on my Top-20, I don’t think will declare but this is how I would rank them.