Approximately 10 Things I’ll Say About The 2017 NBA Draft, In The Form of Question and Answer
I have three exams to be studying for — but here I am, watching college basketball game tape.
Yeah, that’s right. It’s NBA Draft time.
Editor/Author note (they’re the same person): By the time this gets POSTED, there will be only one exam left to study for.
Does Kristaps Porzingis get traded?
Rumours run wild. Porzingis skipping an exit interview and now continuing to give Knicks front office personnel the silent treatment is unprofessional. But trading him? Come on, Phil Jackson.
If he goes, he goes to the Suns, I think.
Do the Celtics trade down…again?
I really like Jayson Tatum as a prospect. Excellent scorer. Ability to defend most positions if he’s thrown into a switch scenario. I think he goes to the Celtics at 3. But of course, Danny Ainge loves his draft picks and he loves trading down. I think we could see a team like Orlando move to 3 to take someone like Jonathan Isaac or Josh Jackson, if they wanted to. Reports do indicate Ainge likes Dennis Smith, Jr. anyways. They can definitely get him at 6.
What do the Kings do?
The Kings are in the best position in the draft — they’ve got the fifth and tenth picks tonight. And it’s prime position to do whatever the hell they want. I’d highly recommend they don’t trade them both to move up but it looks like they’re not dumb enough to do that. Good.
Here’s my game plan for them:
The fifth pick should land them Kentucky point guard De’Aaron Fox, if that’s who they want and by all indications, that is who they want — leaving someone like Gonzaga’s Zach Collins on the board at 10. However, my decision making process might lean a little differently. 5 could also get them Jonathan Isaac, the Florida State forward, and at 10, one of the many, many guards in this draft could fall. We could see Dennis Smith, Jr. there or Frank Ntikilina or even Donovan Mitchell. It’s wide open if you want a guard but not if you want a jack-of-all-trades forward.
If Josh Jackson falls, grab him. If Jayson Tatum falls, take him. But it’s likely the decision comes down to Fox or Isaac and then they’ll do something different at #10.
Who’s your “favourite” prospect?
Favourite is a fun word here. My favourite players often are small, do-everything guards with a will to win and insane competitive drive. That’s a super specific category but it’s a category, okay? If you’ve read/seen/heard/know anything about the draft as it stands, I’m a huge De’Aaron Fox fan. Yeah, the shot’s not there yet but the cross of Mike Conley and John Wall is an elite comparison for this “kid”. I’m younger than him, that’s why “kid” is in quotation marks. He’s a special talent and he’s got the drive to be the first name everyone remembers from this draft in years to come, even with Markelle Fultz and Lonzo Ball as an electric 1–2 punch for the 2017 draft. They’ll be good, too. Don’t worry.
Josh Jackson or Jayson Tatum?
As I said earlier, Tatum is a really nice prospect and I’d take him third behind Fultz and Ball. The defense is there for both but I think Tatum can develop into a really great scorer from the wing position and the offense comes a bit more naturally to him than it will Jackson, especially without a shot. I’m a little worried about Jackson’s shot.
I wouldn’t say “worried”, actually. I know I just did but I take it back. I know he shot the three extremely well last season, 38% is pretty good. However, the free throw percentage is scarily low and the shot looks broken. On the other hand, the defensive upside — my god. I remember reading an article about Sam Hinkie’s “process” with the Sixers, where it described his obsession with wingspan (mostly because you can’t teach it). Josh Jackson is an athlete. That last sentence I just wrote is one that is incredibly obvious — he plays basketball and he is the literal definition of an athlete. But he’s one of the better ones here and he’ll find a spot in the NBA. I just don’t see the shot coming all the way around and for that, he’s a little lower on my “big board” than you’d see him elsewhere.
Tatum is a more natural scorer than Jackson and will find a way to put ball in basket. Jackson’s shot is a little troublesome but other than that, wow.
Still, Tatum by a bit more than a hair.
Where does Harry Giles get drafted?
If you look at the draft boards from this time last year (so, right after the 2016 draft), Giles was the consensus #1. If you follow college basketball/the draft/the NBA, you’d very obviously know he is no longer the consensus #1. There is no consensus #1 — some like Fultz, others Ball, some Jackson.
Anyways, as for where Giles could go, the jury is still out. After a couple of surgeries, he wasn’t the same player. The potential is there and that’s why I’ve got him pegged at #22 to Brooklyn. I could also see him going anywhere before then post-lottery and almost anywhere after then, too. Brooklyn is the team I think takes him but the door is wide open.
Who’s your late first-round “sleeper”?
Is there such a thing? These guys still get guaranteed contracts but in terms of bang for buck, I’ll fire off a few names.
If Giles was a sleeper, I think it’d be Giles. At some point, it’s possible OG Anunoby will drop far enough that the team that grabs him will be incredibly pleased.
But my pick is someone different. It’s someone that might also fall into the early 2nd round, where he might get picked if solely for contractual reasons.
Tony Bradley, C, North Carolina
Bradley didn’t get a boatload of playing time at North Carolina — it made sense, though, on a “veteran” team with senior bigs. Roy Williams was definitely hoping he’d stick around for a sophomore season.
Yeah, some question his athleticism but Bradley’s length (7'5 wingspan/9'4.5 standing reach) make up for his combine-worst standing vertical leap.
However, he is easily the best offensive rebounder in the class. He can track the ball extremely well off the rim and board and shows Tristan Thompson-esque abilities to rebound. He’s not so much a shooter but the form is there if he wants to develop it.
Essentially, what I’m saying is that he’ll have a role, for sure. He can stick with a guy on defense and is a gifted back-to-the-basket offensive player and is also an excellent rebounder. There’s some rawness to his play but given the right situation, I know Bradley will find a role.
VJ Beachem, F, Notre Dame
Beachem is my favourite guy who may not get drafted. He did a lot for the recently great Notre Dame teams and plays a positionless version of basketball. He’d find a role for a roleless team.
I think he can do two things well enough to make a team — shoot and play defense. Who doesn’t need a 3 and D player? Notre Dame’s teams have played an excellent brand of ball and I think the high IQ, great shooting and defense are easily translated from his college days.
We know De’Aaron Fox is your favourite and we know your sleepers BUT who else should we keep our eye on?
Glad you asked.
Of course, I “like” Markelle and Lonzo – they’re ridiculously talented basketball players, guaranteed to go 1–2 in this draft.
This is a list of guys “elsewhere” in the draft I like. There’s still a sprinkling of lottery talent on this list, though, so don’t roll your eyes and be all like “Well, duh.”. Elsewhere is, like, not top 5, okay?
Without further ado, here it is. Bask in its glory.
Semi Ojeleye, F, SMU
A Swiss Army knife of a player, who transferred to SMU from Duke. Does it all and is a great shooter for his size. SMU will have 3 guys in the draft and he’ll be the best one, I think.
TJ Leaf, F, UCLA
This is a guy who will be a stretch four in the National Basketball Association. Don’t worry about him.
Jonah Bolden, F, international
He’s a 6'10 knockdown shooter — who, in search of playing time, played in Serbia last year — and his athletic ability is going to define him at the NBA level. He’s got the intangible qualities of a strong defender today: the length, the quickness. What he doesn’t yet seem to have is the footwork to really show off that potential. He’s got a bright future; a talent hidden in that end of first round/early second area that should be much higher.
Ike Anigbogu, C, UCLA
Anigbogu is the youngest player in the draft. And every year when we talk about the youngest player in the draft, he’s the guy with boundless potential who will never reach it or, at least, seems unlikely to.
In this case, I think Anigbogu is a guy who can carve out a role almost right away with a team that can give him the playing time. He’s an excellent screener and he’ll find a role as the roll in a pick-and-roll. One of the comparisons I’ve seen a lot for him is Clint Capela, the Rockets’ big man whose defense and rim-running is his calling card. No wonder I like Anigbogu so much — I was a big Capela fan when I scouted him coming out of the draft.
John Collins, F, Wake Forest
Advanced stats for college basketball love this dude. I love this dude. He’s one of the best, raw athletes in the draft and he’s a strong back to the basket kind of player right now. He can face up, too, with his athleticism and quick first step but he’ll need to work on footwork.
Derrick White, G, Colorado
He is an extremely smart basketball player. Let’s talk cliches. He’s the kind of guy you want on your basketball team — he does everything right, he does the little things, he makes the right play. Keep your eye on him.
Luke Kennard, G, Duke
I just really love his shot. He can shoot for days and days and days and days and…
But I don’t think he’s only a shooter. He has excellent footwork and uses a variety of dribble moves to create his own shot. He’ll be extremely effective at the NBA level. Charlotte will probably take him.
Who do the Raptors take?
Mock drafts from reputable sources have them doing all sorts of things. Tyler Lydon and OG Anunoby seem to be the top names I see. Anunoby is an excellent fit for the roster — the Raptors are one of the teams that can afford to not get much this year from their pick.
I like Anunoby and the Kawhi Leonard comparison is obvious. I don’t see Anunoby ever shooting the way Leonard does but the defense is electric.
I like the Raptors to take Anunoby or TJ Leaf.
Fultz or Ball?
I think I can answer pretty simply. Ball has the higher floor, Fultz the higher ceiling. Ball is a prolific passer and extremely high IQ player. He makes great plays for his teammates and he would’ve been a great fit for the Sixers, too.
However, Fultz can create his own shot like it’s nobody’s business. And I love it. Let’s use the word athlete again to describe another prospect. He’s an exceptional athlete.
I’ve been amped all day for the draft and I can’t wait for it to get underway so I can sit and watch people talk for five or ten minutes as they wait for Adam Silver to come out and say a name so we can do it all again until Mark Tatum takes over in the 2nd round. Wow, this is exciting.
Thank you to TheRinger.com and DraftExpress — both invaluable resources for my “draft guide” research.