Even if you are the biggest NBA fan in the world, sometimes it’s hard to know who’s next. With international players and college prospects, it’s tough to stay on top of who is at the top of the draft. So with all the mock drafts in and ready, and all the speculation of who will go where, here is your list of the ten to keep your eye on tomorrow night.
1. Markelle Fultz, Guard
Fultz is the prize of this draft. He’s the consensus number one choice, and he’ll be the Sixers top pick off the board. So who is he? The guard spent his time in Washington posting insane numbers, over 20 PPG and 5 assists and rebounds. He’s got all the tools to be star in the league, but be wary about that jumpshot, especially in Philly’s offense.
Markelle Fultz wants to shift the culture in Philly. pic.twitter.com/6SCRtsCBqu
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) June 21, 2017
2. Lonzo Ball, Guard
Oh, if there is one name you know in this draft, it’s this guy. He and his dad have taken the internet by storm lately, and it looks like the two will get their wish and get nabbed by the Lakers. Ignoring all the off court stuff, Ball is an athletic freak. But expect his shot to cause problems: he’s not terribly efficient, but he’s got the physical tools to stand out in the NBA right away.
Reporter: Can we be Big Ballers if we don’t play basketball?
Lonzo Ball: “Yeah, it’s a mindset.” pic.twitter.com/wxpWmVeZsZ
— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) June 21, 2017
3. Josh Jackson, Forward
Jackson hails from Kansas, and many feel that he’s the most complete player in the draft (one of those is me). Jackson has the right combination of size and athleticism to really plague the league and turn into the kind of combo-forward that the NBA requires for competition. But he’s not quite ready to contribute right way. He reminds me a lot of Justise Winslow in Miami, and that’s pretty solid for a 19 year old.
Josh Jackson 6-10 wingspan/small hands. Kawhi Leonard 7-3 wing/enormous hands. It’s a big, big difference in success of a player.
— Chad Ford (@chadfordinsider) June 21, 2017
4. Jayson Tatum, Forward
Tatum is the name you’ll hear tossed around with Jackson, especially around Boston’s pick. The rumors is they want one of the two, and Tatum is a less athletic version of Jackson. The catch, however, is he’s much more gifted on the offensive side. Tatum has a nice jumpshot and reliable three. He’s not going to dazzle you with athleticism, but his game is the most NBA-ready of anyone not named Fultz.
— Kevin O’Connor (@KevinOConnorNBA) June 18, 2017
5. Jonathan Isaac, Forward
Isaac is the opposite of everything that I just described Jackson and Tatum as. Isaac is a monster on defense, and is sized as a true power forward. But he’s light and athletic enough to be an NBA three, and that is evident is his perimeter defense. Isaac, however, is the guy everyone in the top ten is clamoring about but no one seems to commit to. He’s not a sexy pick, but Isaac is your Jaylen Brown-type player that can come in and help and solid team in a big way. I like his fit in Boston more than Jackson or Tatum. Either way, Isaac is going to be solid at the next level.
We aren’t going to do the whole “make Jonathan Isaac play small forward” like we did with Aaron Gordon, right? RIGHT!?
— Nicholas Sciria (@Nick_Sciria) June 20, 2017
6. De’Aaron Fox, Guard
There’s a slew of guards in the top ten of this draft, and Fox has made his claim to be every bit as good as the others. In college, Fox matched up with Ball and thoroughly outplayed him, and has beefed up his rivalry with him ahead of the draft. As a player, Fox is as solid an athlete as Ball, but much smaller. Fox weighs in at only 170lbs. That’s light for an NBA guard, and it has scared teams off in some ways. He also lacks a jumpshot. But there’s not a more high motor guy in this draft, and he’s got plenty of potential (only 19!!).
De’Aaron Fox’s dad clapped back at LaVar Ball. 👀 pic.twitter.com/L1aT2waR9T
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) June 21, 2017
7. Dennis Smith, Jr., Guard
Smith is another one of these guys that’s floating around the top that teams love but won’t quite jump in on. He’s scouted like he’s one of the top players in this draft, but Smith didn’t do a lot of winning in college. That has a lot to do with his surroundings, but we just don’t know a lot about how he can play. His intangibles are there, however, and he may have the most complete offensive game of any of the point guards at the top of this draft.
Dennis Smith Jr. reminds me of a young Ronnie Fields with a jump shot. Dangerous. @Dennis4Smith
— Jabari Parker (@JabariParker) June 19, 2017
8. Frank Ntilikina, Guard
Here’s your first taste of the international circuit of players in Frank. Ntilikina is from France, and he’s got a frame that NBA guys are fighting over. There’s some noise that the Mavs want him bad, but the Knicks and T-Wolves are fighting for him, too. And you can see why: he’s 6’5 and 190, and he’s got solid handles. But they’ll show you on draft night: he’s a way away. He hasn’t been tested at a pro level, and he’s small for his large frame.
Mavericks and T-Wolves are discussing a trade for pick 7, per sources.
Mavericks looking to move up from 9. Targeting Frank Ntilikina.
— Legion Hoops (@LegionHoops) June 21, 2017
9. Malik Monk, Guard
If you want the baddest dude in this draft, here’s your guy. Monk is a true shooting guard and a guy who lit it up in college. He can shoot from anywhere, and has teams that need shooting dying for his services. There are down sides, however, as he’s struggled to create his own shot, and he’s not a ball handler. And at just 6’3, not being able to dribble well is why he’s back here in the back of the top ten. But in drafts past, he’s a top five draft pick. Think less Klay Thompson and more Lou Williams. And that’s not a bad thing.
Flashing it back to the time Malik Monk and Lonzo Ball battled it out in high school. pic.twitter.com/Mc4FGZqxiy
— Basketball Society (@BBallSociety_) June 22, 2017
10. Lauri Markkanen, Forward
Markkanen is another one of these international guys, but he’s intriguing. He’s 7’0 tall and spent a year playing in college in the NCAA. He can stroke from behind the line, shooting 43% in college from three. That has team’s salivating at the idea of a true stretch four. But he’s thin and slow for his position, and he’s not strong enough to play center. He’s a Ryan Anderson type, but with none of the frame.
Sources: Phil Jackson met with Lauri Markkanen in New York on Monday, a player whom he’s considering at No. 8 should Knicks move Porzingis. https://t.co/44d8EqMoBm
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) June 20, 2017
Others to Watch:
Harry Giles- The oft-injured big man was the number one player in this draft a year ago, but injuries forced him out all year. There’s concerns about his knee that’ll keep him out of the top ten, but he has potential.
Bam Adebayo- The Kentucky big is an athletic freak, and coming in at 6’11, he’s a shot blocker. No jumpshot though, which has teams nervous.
Justin Jackson- Many feel he’s every bit as talented as Jackson (the other one) and Tatum, but it’s his age: Jackson is 22.
Zach Collins – The biggest question mark of the draft that may go high, Collins didn’t start at Gonzaga in his year there. Still, he’s 6’11 and blocks shots and rebounds, and that may be enough to land him a nice gig.