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Mace & Crown | December 14, 2017

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NBA Dream Draft

Roberto Castro | Contributing Writer

With the NCAA basketball season and the NBA regular season ending, much fan anticipation has begun to arise over, arguably, one of the most exciting events to occur in NBA post-season. The official 2017 NBA Draft is on June 22. The NBA Draft provides hope to many teams looking for the next cornerstone player to vitalize failing or subpar franchises.

The biggest challenge coaches and franchisees face during draft season is figuring out which prospect is the right fit for their organization. While I might not have all the answers, due to the limited public knowledge of the players, I’m able to provide the most important details on the most promising players.

Thus, this list will be comprised of strictly the eye test as to who the top players are, and which team would suit best to draft them. In most cases, the eye test is the primary method teams use to prevent over analysis of players, which could become potentially threatening to the franchise. This means, as a quick preview, maybe if you’re Sacramento you can finally get this right, while if you’re New York you can find a way not to get this wrong.

                                            Top 10 Players in 2017 NBA Draft:                      *played overseas

  1. Markelle Fultz (Washington):

Fultz is without a doubt the best overall player in this draft. He possesses all the necessary traits to become a superstar in the NBA. He is both a great finisher and jump shooter, and he is great at creating for teammates with his passing ability. He can also defend on and off the ball. While his numbers were inflated due to being on a low preforming team, any concerns about him being the best prospect should be put to rest.

Best Fit: The Phoenix Suns have Eric Bledsoe and Devin Booker, but it would be logical for the Suns to trade in Bledsoe for a younger, versatile player to fill Bledsoe’s previous role. Inserting Fultz as the primary ball handler/playmaker will not only take the scoring load off Booker, but form potentially the scariest backcourt in the NBA.

  1. Dennis Smith Jr. (N.C. State):

Smith Jr. is seemingly the most NBA “ready” player in this draft. Like Fultz, he possesses an all-around game both offensively and defensively with his scoring and passing, as well as defensive abilities. However, there are concerns about his leadership and consistency on both sides of the court, along with decision making. Despite, the overwhelming talent should usurp the criticism.

Best Fit: The New York Knicks need a dynamic playmaker at the point guard position that can not only make plays for himself but for his teammates, unlike Derrick Rose. The team could use a dynamic primary playmaker to fit with Kristaps Porzingis, and Smith Jr. could be the answer.

  1. Lonzo Ball (UCLA):

Ball is not the best overall player in this draft, but should be labeled the best “point guard” because of his passing and unselfish nature on the court. He also has rare leadership skills and a stoic personality that would fit a team in need of a floor general. Ball may not be an explosive athlete, and will need to improve his strength and midrange pull-up game, but he has the necessary all-around game and point guard skills to be a cornerstone to a rebuilding franchise.

Best Fit: The Los Angeles Lakers seem like the perfect fit for Ball not just because he is from the area, but the Lakers are in desperate need for a true point guard and floor general that seems to fit Ball’s playing style. They were once called the “show time” Lakers, and Ball could help resurrect a similar reputation.

  1. Josh Jackson (Kansas):

Jackson is the most skilled forward in this draft, ahead of Jayson Tatum, due to his complete game and energy on both sides of the court. He can score in a variety of ways inside and out while also being a capable distributor. While his outside shot is still developing, and there are concerns regarding his attitude and maturity on and off the court, his ceiling is worth the risk.

Best Fit: The Boston Celtics could use his energy, defense and versatility on both ends of the floor. Not to mention he would take the scoring load off of Isaiah Thomas while not taking much from his game by still allowing him to be the primary ball handler/playmaker.

  1. Jayson Tatum (Duke):

Tatum has the skill and the tools necessary to be an outstanding scorer at the next level. He can score off the dribble or spotting up, which poses as a matchup nightmare for any defender due to his length, versatility and footwork to complement his skill set. He will need to further improve on his three-point shooting, ball handling and passing, but shows enough promise that these areas can improve at the next level.

Best Fit: Given Rudy Gay’s age and endurance concerns, it would be in the Sacramento Kings’ best interest to find a replacement that could be the immediate number one scoring option which seems to fit Tatum’s playing style. This change could be pivotal with the departure of Demarcus Cousins.

  1. De’Aaron Fox (Kentucky):

Fox has been a hot name soaring up draft boards after his stellar performance against UCLA in the NCAA Tournament. He has the physical tools to be an outstanding playmaking point guard, and an above average on ball defending. However, he does need to improve his jump shot consistency and his decision making. Overall, Fox has a ton of advantages on his journey to becoming an outstanding player.

Best Fit: The Orlando Magic are in desperate need of a primary playmaker/point guard, and Fox would be a much better upgrade than Elfrid Payton. His ability to get to the hole at will, while having a decent jump shot and underrated passing skills, should give the Magic the playmaker they have been lacking.

  1. Jonathan Isaac (Florida State):

Isaac displays a high level of positive attributes out of all draftees. He possesses great length and versatility on both ends of the floor allowing him to be a dynamic scorer inside and out. Defensively, Isaac can guard almost any position on the floor, one through the four. Nevertheless, he like all other potential draft picks, has plenty of room for improvement on his strength and raw skills, but is worth the development effort.

Best Fit: Since the Sacramento Kings will presumably have two top ten picks in the 2017 Draft, Isaac could be another option if they are unable to select Jayson Tatum. His ability to score inside and out on the offensive end, along with his defensive capabilities, could give the Kings a needed foundation player for their franchise.

  1. Malik Monk (Kentucky):

Monk is an outstanding scorer due to his ability to score both off the dribble, as well as catching and shooting. He also possesses elite level athleticism that allows him to get to the basket and finish. He needs to improve his strength to become a better finisher around the rim, and tightened his handle to take defenders off the dribble. However, that should come with time, and could form him into a dynamic scorer in the NBA.

Best Fit: The Philadelphia Sixers desperately need a two guard and a reliable scorer/shooter on the outside, given the talent of their front court is Joel Embiid, Dario Saric and newbie, Ben Simmons. With Simmons as the primary ball handler/playmaker, Monk will have plenty opportunity to capitalize on his scoring strength. 

  1. Lauri Markkanen (Arizona):

Markkanen is a talented seven-footer that can shoot three pointers with ease. He embodies versatile skill set to score in the post and outside the paint. He also possesses a level of agility and fluidity on the defensive end on the perimeter, and strength to handle the inside. He could improve his post-game and needs to become more involved in blocking shots, but still has a lot of potential.

Best Fit: A primary ball handler/playmaker would be best fit for the Dallas Mavericks, however in case they miss out on someone like Dennis Smith Jr., they could opt for Dirk’s potential successor. He would also spread the floor for the likes of Yogi Ferrell and Harrison Barnes, and provide more versatility than Nerlens Noel and Dwight Powell.

  1. Frank Ntilikina (France)*:

Ntilikina possesses great length and versatility on both ends of the floor for his position. He is a scorer/playmaker with the ability to shoot from the outside, and is also a quality defender. He needs to improve his handle and passing skills to be a point guard. Although he is another foreign player with uncertainties, he displays a high ceiling.

Best Fit:This could be a no-lose situation for the Minnesota Timberwolves as they still have Ricky Rubio as the primary point guard. With the development of Frank’s off the ball work and passing, it will groom him to take over the point guard role impending Rubio’s departure. He can provide outside shooting and defense the team could use, without the pressure of a large role early in his career.

 

 Best Available Players outside Top 10:

 Point Guards: 

  1. Jawun Evans (Oklahoma State)

Evans is easily my favorite player outside of the top ten due to his outstanding scoring, and even more impressive passing ability. Despite being a bit short and a poor defender, he still has an NBA mentality any team, outside the top ten, would love to have.

  1. Xavier Rathan-Mayes (Florida State)

Rathan-Mayes exhibited that he is not a true point guard yet, but he is still a capable playmaker and dynamic scorer. If he goes to a team seeking a primary scorer as oppose to a floor general, he should thrive in that position and become a quality player.

  1. Nigel Williams-Goss (Gonzaga)

Williams-Goss possesses a level of versatility as a scorer along with his basketball IQ and a willing passer. He is also a solid defender despite his all-around game needing improvement. I can see him being a contributor off the bench.

 

Shooting Guards:

  1. Terrance Ferguson (USA) *

Ferguson will need to work on strengthening his ball handling and his body to add more versatility to score inside and out the paint. He still has a high advantage to be a quality shooting guard due to his outside scoring ability and defensive potential.

  1. Luke Kennard (Duke)

Kennard will need to tighten his handles and become a better defender. He is still a capable defender and possesses a high level of scoring basketball IQ and is capable of being a willing passer. That should help him contribute and become a quality player for any team.

  1. Donovan Mitchell (Louisville)

Mitchell’s offensive game is developing, but if it can catch up with his defensive skills and athleticism he could become a quality player. He already has a capable outside shot, he will just need to improve his ball handling to better create his own shot at the next level.

 

Small Forwards:

  1. Justin Jackson (North Carolina)

Jackson’s versatility as a scorer and defender make him valuable, but he will need to be more consistent in his ball handling and outside shooting. However, his improvement in college shows potential.

  1. J. Dozier (South Carolina)

Dozier has length and versatility as a scorer and defender. He still has work to do on his offense, but his potential on both sides of the floor combined with his physical traits makes success in the NBA conceivable.

  1. Devin Robinson (Florida)

Robinson has improved his three-point shooting over the years in college and has shown offensive and defensive explosions. Although he needs to tighten his ball handling skills and outside shot, his length and versatility should make him a captivating prospect in the later round.

 

Power Forwards:

  1. Zach Collins (Gonzaga)

Collins has size, length, offensive talent and defensive capabilities as a rim protector and post defender. If he can add some variety to his offense, particularly his outside game, he can be a very solid pro.

  1. Ivan Rabb (California)

Rabb will need to become bigger, stronger and more aggressive both offensively and defensively. Despite these drawbacks, he has great inside and outside game in the post and midrange. His three-point shot is still improving, but his foundation is ready to be built upon.

  1. J. Leaf (UCLA)

Leaf will need to improve defensively and develop strength and confidence. However, his offensive skill set for his size and position are too talented to pass on and should make him a quality player in the NBA.

 

Centers:

  1. Jarrett Allen (Texas)

Allen still needs time grow to his full potential, but if he achieves this development he can be a great player. He can be a mismatch offensively. He also gives effort on the boards and uses his length well on both ends. However, he will need to improve his post-game which would come with time on the court.

  1. Justin Patton (Creighton)

Patton needs to increase his effort on the glass with his mediocre rebounding numbers and improve his play strength. His offensive skill set and upside as a player can be of value to some teams in the NBA.

  1. Thomas Bryant (Indiana)

Bryant did have a down year but the talent is evident, and he can do it all on both sides of the court. He will need to be more consistent on the next level if he wants to reach his potential, but he has nice qualities to be a solid big man on the court.

 

Honorable Mentions: Solid players who could contribute being picked in the later rounds:

Bam Adebayo (Kentucky), Tyler Lydon (Syracuse), Caleb Swanigan (Purdue), John Collins (Wake Forest), Tony Bradley (North Carolina), Johnathan Motley (Baylor) Bennie Boatwright (USC)

Overstock Players: Players with talent that will most likely get over drafted:

Dwayne Bacon (Florida State), Dillon Brooks (Oregon), Sindarius Thornwell (South Carolina), OG Anunoby (Indiana), Harry Giles (Duke), Edmond Sumner (Xavier), Kobi Simmons (Arizona), Ike Anigbogu (UCLA)