NBA Draft Guide Cram Session

Student of the Game is a weekly column by Sam Pouncey (an over-worked and over-caffeinated medical student) examining various aspects of the world of sport.  The goal of the column is fairly simple: to provide quality and original content that the reader will find both entertaining and informative.  As always, hopefully you will enjoy this.  Feedback and suggestions for future column topics are always welcome.

Welcome to my NBA Draft Guide Cram Session!  Before we begin, let’s take a little time to discuss what this draft guide is and isn’t.  The idea of this guide is to outline the primary roles a player serves on today’s NBA roster, illustrated with a current NBA player serving as “the archetype”.  The purpose being that you, the fan, can look down the menu of players, decide what your team needs, and voila now you know who you want your team to pick.  This draft guide is by no means intended to be a mock draft or a big board or anything like that.  The projections of Lottery, First, or Second round should be thought of more as tiers than predictions.  Last thing, I’ve included sixty players in this, not including the current NBA archetypes.  These sixty are the one’s who if I had to guess would be the one’s to get picked but by no means do I expect to go 60-for-60, so if I left your hot European sleeper (hope no one takes that out of context) off the list then I apologize.

Scoring Point Guards (Archetype: Kyrie Irving)

Kyrie (David Richard:USA TODAY Sports)
Photo Courtesy of David Richard/USA TODAY Sports

The point guard position has transformed over the last couple of decades from a primarily passing position to a primary scoring option.  One of the biggest reasons for this change has been the mass influx of talent at the position.  I’ll go ahead and say it: we are in a golden age for point guard play and it’s showing no signs of slowing down, quite the opposite actually.  There were several options for the “archetype” of this position, but Kyrie Irving seemed like the right choice.  At his best, Irving is a scoring machine capable of completely taking over a game and turning real life into a game of NBA 2K17 with an “always score” cheat code.  The potential downside to the score first offense is that the ball movement can stop, the flow of the offense can be rendered non-existent and the game is set back a few eras in a return to isolation “hero ball”.

Lottery Picks- Markelle Fultz and Dennis Smith

Markelle Fultz, along with the other consensus top picks in the draft, has been hashed and rehashed since last year around this time so I’ll keep it short and sweet.  Fultz is one of the closest things to a “can’t miss” you are going to find.  Barring injuries, there isn’t anything keeping him from rapidly rising to stardom.  The one question I have about him is: will he ultimately be a Miller High Life a.k.a. the Champagne of Beers and just be empty calories on a bad team or can he actually lead his team to the taste of real champagne?

Dennis Smith is an interesting prospect and actually probably resembles Kyrie more closely than Fultz does in terms of playing style, but it remains to be seem if he has a ceiling like Irving’s was coming out of Duke.  The biggest question mark about Smith is his defense, which is something he will need to work to improve on when he enters Summer League play but he has the athleticism to at least be passable.  He could also use some work on his jump shot and his free throw shooting, but isn’t truly bad at either and his 3-point percentage improved as the season progressed.  His playing style has been compared to guys like Steve Francis and Stephon Marbury, and based on his body language in his one season in Raleigh, he might share some personality traits with those two guys which will need to be reined in if he is going to be a net positive for a team both on and off the court.

Grant Halverson:Getty Images
Dennis Smith Jr. (Photo Courtesy of Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

First Round Pick- Derrick White

The Colorado combo guard is the only other guy who will go in the first round that would be classified as a “scoring point guard”, and he’s really more of a combo guard.  White will be drafted after Fultz and Smith partially because of his age, but that extra experience he has will help him and whoever ends up drafting him.  Depending on where he goes, he could be the steal of the first round and be a great asset for an already established playoff team as a bench scorer/point guard.  He is a smart kid who scores the ball and is big for a point guard at 6’5 and 200 pounds.  Look for White to step into the Patty Mills/Shaun Livingston role for somebody next season.

Second Round Picks- Frank Jackson, Tyler Dorsey, Frank Mason

Despite being in the same “category” of player, each of these three guys brings something different to the table for whoever picks them up in the second round.  Frank Jackson, like Derrick White, is a combo guard that function effectively running a second unit or playing off the ball as a wing.  He will need to refine his ball handling if he wants to maximize his value running the point though.  Most of you probably saw what Tyler Dorsey did in the NCAA tournament and that’s no different than what he will bring to an NBA team: his microwave scoring can make announcers sound like they time-warped out of “NBA Jam“.  As for Frank Mason, he’s only the reigning consensus national college player of the year.  His game is predicated on toughness more than any of the other guys in this category and will end up being a filthy rich man’s Matthew Dellavedova for somebody.

Facilitating Point Guard (Archetype: Chris Paul)

CP3 (USATSI)
Photo Courtesy of USATSI

Much like its archetype, the facilitating point guard has been around for a long time and is generally the type of player most envision when thinking about the position.  This label certainly doesn’t mean that the guys in this category can’t score, it just means that it might not be their primary objective on offense.  Despite putting up big scoring number, Steph Curry and John Wall are players that belong in this category because the offense is constantly flowing through them whether they are scoring or not.

Lottery Picks- Lonzo Ball, De’Aaron Fox, Frank Ntilikina

Everyone knows who Lonzo Ball is by now, and less fortunately we all know who his father is because he can’t take his own advice and stay in his lane.  The things you might not know about Lonzo though are that he’s a slick passer and is a true orchestrator on offense.  He will almost assuredly be in purple and gold next season and so begin a new era of Laker basketball.  However, I actually think De’Aaron Fox has legitimate potential to be a better player.  Fox is a better athlete and defender at this point and outperformed Lonzo head-to-head in the tournament exploding for 39 points.  He also grew accustomed to playing alongside a primary scoring option at Kentucky with Malik Monk sharing a backcourt with him, who is a better scorer than anyone he will play with should he go to Sacramento as projected.

Ball and Fox (Michael Zshornack:Daily Bruin)
Photo Courtesy of Michael Zshornack/Daily Bruin

The big wild card at the point guard position though is “Big Frank”.  Or should we go with “French Frank”?  I like “French Frank” better and since his last name is unpronounceable with a Southern accent I won’t bother trying.  “French Frank” is a 6’5 (some places say 6’6) point guard with a wingspan at 7′ who is the point guard equivalent of Mr. Fantastic.  Early in his career, he will be mostly relied upon as a stopper and could be a frustrating opponent for scorers like Kyrie and Russell Westbrook with his length and athleticism.  He needs to develop his body more and become more consistent on offense, so the draft buzzword “raw” definitely applies but there’s at least a chance we look back at this draft five years from now and wonder how in the world four point guards were drafted ahead of him.

Second Round Picks- Jawun Evans, Edmond Sumner, Monte Morris

Another group of older rookies who will be taken in the second round, this crop of players also have the potential to be bench contributors right away in the right situation.  Monte Morris and Jawun Evans are the strongest passers in the draft outside of Lonzo, and they are both masters at running the pick-and-roll, which if you haven’t noticed is easily the most commonly run play in today’s NBA.  Evans reminds me a lot of Kemba Walker, although a little shorter, and ran the best offense in college basketball last season.  Likewise, Morris was at the head of several potent Iowa State offenses.  Edmond Sumner is another raw prospect, which is mildly concerning considering he’s already 21, but at 6’6 he could be a nice consolation prize for someone who misses out on “French Frank” and could end up being a nice player at a nice price if someone is willing to put in the work to develop him.

Swiss Army Knife (Archetype: LeBron James)

Tony Dejak:AP
Photo Courtesy of Tony Dejack/Associated Press

What a standard for the guys in this category!!!  This is probably the easiest category to figure out for any non-basketball fan reading this.  These players can play a few different positions (usually both forward positions) and make contributions in a plethora of ways.  Of course, LeBron is so good that “Swiss Army Knife” doesn’t really capture it, but hopefully you can follow the analogy anyway.

Lottery Picks- Jayson Tatum

It wasn’t that long ago that Jayson Tatum would be docked for his versatility and labelled a “tweener”.  Oh wait, we still have plenty of antiquated scouts and analysts that still say things like that.  Jayson Tatum is going to be a strong scorer at the NBA level with an already impressive arsenal of shots giving him the capability of scoring from all over the court.  He still has some work to do on defense, and at times he can be a “ball stopper”.  However, his abilities on the offensive end may be the most “NBA ready” of anyone in the draft and with comps to guys like Paul Pierce there is a lot to like in Tatum, even if he did go to Duke.

NCAA Basketball Tournament - First Round - Troy v Duke
Photo Courtesy of Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

First Round Picks- Justin Jackson and OG Anunoby

Either one of these guys could be taken at the tail end of the lottery and it wouldn’t be surprising at all.  Jackson and Anunoby both bring a lot to the table by being able to guard multiple positions effectively, switch on pick-and-rolls and not miss a beat on the offensive ends.  One of these two guys should develop into a high level 3-and-D guy but both need to become more consistent perimeter scorers to earn that label.  Anunoby has the physical tools to be a top-end defender and more than just a spot-up shooter on offense.  Jackson is a savvier player, but lacks the same athletic upside.  He is a strong team defender and will probably end up being much closer to a spot-up shooter on offense, although he does have an effective floater in the lane.  A glaring weakness in his game is rebounding.  If he is going to play forward in the NBA, then he has to improve crashing the glass.

Second Round Picks- Josh Hart, L.J. Peak, Sindarius Thornwell, Wesley Iwundu, Dillon Brooks

Just looking at the number of names it should be pretty clear that if a team misses on any of the three first round/lottery options, that there are plenty of potential consolation prizes waiting in the second round.  If you are a college basketball fan, you might also note that three of these five guys have played in a Final Four in the last two seasons.  A good blanket word to describe these guys is “intangibles”, which is in the discussion for most overused words in sports but sometimes the shoe fits.  Expect Hart to be the first one to hear his name called on Thursday.  Thornwell has the most “Draymond” potential of this group though.  The reigning SEC player of the year projects as a strong defender in the NBA and has plenty of experience bearing the burden for a team offensively.

3-and-D Wing (Archetype: J.R. Smith)

Aaron Josefczyk:Reuters
Photo Courtesy of Aaron Josefczyk/Reuters

There are actually a few better 3-and-D players in the NBA right now, but J.R.’s other peculiarities make him much better “archetype” material.  “Who shirt Joe Ingles?” doesn’t roll off the tongue nearly as well.  Other players like Kawhi Leonard and Klay Thompson could be pigeonholed into this category, but they are good enough that it also feels like it’s selling them short.  Otto Porter was a great example of what 3-and-D basketball should look like this season, but this gif haunts him so badly that we might need to wait a few years before bequeathing him the archetype label.

Lottery Pick- Jonathan Isaac

Isaac is one of the more polarizing players in the lottery, at least from my empirical observations.  He’s tall and long and has a smooth stroke from the outside.  The biggest thing he has, other than his physical tools, is the ability to guard multiple positions.  Having players that can do that is vital in today’s game, which is a major reason why his name will be called somewhere in the top ten.  There is still work for him to do though with developing a better feel for the game and filling out his frame.  Also, he is a good not great shooter at this point and if he is going to warrant his draft pick he will need to be better that good as a shooter or become a more rounded scorer.

First Round Pick- Semi Ojeleye

Sue Ogrocki:AP
Photo Courtesy of Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

Semi is easily my favorite non-lottery pick in this draft, and I’d like to take a minute to send a message to my Charlotte Hornets front office (even though we all know that there is a 0% chance they read this).  If Semi is there at 31 and you don’t pick him that will mark twice this week that you put my blood pressure at dangerous levels, and I really would love to live a little bit longer.  Ojeleye is a big, athletic, physical player who can guard four positions effectively.  He is also a strong shooter and scorer.  Playing out of position at SMU, he still averaged 19 points per game.  The big knock on him is that he is undersized for a power forward and isn’t a great rebounder, but I think he will see more time as a small forward and occasionally slide into the smallball four role.  He is my pick for best value of the entire draft if he goes anywhere after 20.

Second Round Picks- Jonah Bolden, Kyle Kuzma, Sterling Brown, Devin Robinson, Davon Reed, V.J. Beachem

As with the “Swiss Army Knife”s, this is another category of player with plenty of substitutes to be found if you miss Isaac or Ojeleye earlier in the draft.  Brian Hall mentioned on my podcast from Wednesday that Bolden is a potential sleeper, and would probably be his favorite of this crop.  A big reason why Bolden ends up here instead of higher is because he spent last season playing in the Adriatic League in Australia rather than in college, but he joins a strong company of players to come over from that league including Nikola Jokic and Dario Saric.  My favorite player in this group is probably Sterling Brown, who was actually a teammate of Ojeleye’s at SMU and not the Sterling K. Brown who portrayed Chris Darden in “The People v. OJ” series on FX.  Sterling “Not K” Brown is the best pure shooter in this group and has the strength and wingspan to effectively guard multiple positions.

Hyperathletic Wing (Archetype: Kevin Durant)

KD (Jose Carlos Fajardo:Bay Area News Group)
Golden State Warriors’ Kevin Durant (35) celebrates on stage after winning Game 5 of the NBA Finals at Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif., on Monday, June 12, 2017. The Golden State Warriors defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers 129-120 to win the NBA Championship. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group)

I almost named this several different things, and finally settled on “hyperathletic” because it gave the most leeway.  The other two contenders were “scoring wing” (too vague) and “slashing wing” (too narrow).  DeMar DeRozan was the original person I had pegged as my archetype for this category, but then the Finals MVP wouldn’t get to be an archetype which felt wrong, especially after I spent so many words covering him last week.

Lottery Picks- Josh Jackson and Donovan Mitchell

Immediately following the trade, it was rumored that a big reason that the Celtics were willing to move back two spots is that they had Jackson at the top of their board anyway.  I don’t know if that’s true or not, but if it was I couldn’t really blame them.  His athleticism and scoring prowess are the best in the draft class, which with Tatum and Fultz also in the class is saying something.  The only real reason not to take him would be if the off-court incidents a.k.a. “character issues” a.k.a. “red flags” are scaring you off.

If you can’t get down with Jackson vandalizing cars, then maybe you reach for Donovan Mitchell.  He isn’t exactly the same player standing at only 6’3 (compare to Jackson’s 6’8) but they do have the same wingspan, which is kind of insane if you think about it.  Mitchell is a phenomenal athlete who has the potential to be a top-flight perimeter defender and scorer.  At only 6’3, he will be at a disadvantage if he has to play the two-guard, but as it stands currently he isn’t quite the ball handler to run full-time point guard duties either.  His athleticism will make him an extremely valuable asset for someone picking in the lottery though, and if you’re a general manager you have to trust your staff to be able to mold his tools into an extremely useful player.

Pat McDonogh:The Courier-Journal
Photo Courtesy of Pat McDonogh/The Courier-Journal

Second Round Picks- P.J. Dozier, Dwayne Bacon, Jaron Blossomgame, Damyean Dotson

This category provides yet another smorgasbord of players to choose from in the second round, and if you are willing to whittle down your team needs a little more specifically there is a specific player in this category to fill that role.  Need another perimeter defender?  P.J. Dozier is your man.  Want a guy who can really fill it up and may or may not be the second coming of Lance Stephenson (something the NBA desperately needs by the way)?  Go ahead and sizzle that Bacon.  If you are looking for more of a hard worker and strong locker room guy, then Jaron Blossomgame would be the choice.  Last, but not least, Damyean Dotson should appeal to teams who need to add a second player to their reserve units that can create his own shot.

Stretch Big (Archetype: Dirk Nowitzki)

NBA: Los Angeles Lakers at Dallas Mavericks
Photo Courtesy of USATSI

The big German may have been bypassed as the best stretch big and the best European player in the game at this point (okay he definitely has been), but he is still the original stretch big and since an “archetype” position is a lifetime appointment he will stay here until he retires.  I probably don’t need to describe this any further, but for those that do need it a stretch big is a post player who can space the floor on offense by knocking down 3s.  This is probably the most rapidly expanding player category, and some might even call it the “Chia Pet Hair” of basketball positions.

Lottery Picks- Lauri Markkanen

The sweet shooting big man is also going to hear his name called in the top ten, and with the premium being placed on floor spacing it’s no wonder.  However, there are plenty of concerns with Lauri too.  For one, like many “stretch bigs”, he had a tendency to get pushed around in the post in college.  That’s not something that will get any better in the NBA either.  He also is a weak rebounder and defender for a 7-footer.  If he isn’t going to secure rebounds or protect the rim on defense, then his value at the next level will be extremely reduced and he will become a target for smart teams, not unlike what happened to Kevin Love in the Finals.  There’s a lot to like about Markkanen, but he also has the biggest bust potential of any of the surefire lottery picks.

casey sapio:USA TODAY Sports
Photo Courtesy of Casey Sapio/USA TODAY Sports

First Round Pick- D.J. Wilson

Wilson is another player who really helped his draft stock with a strong tournament performance.  He is a versatile big men who can get up and down the floor like a wing, plays good defense and can shoot the ball.  He doesn’t have quite the same upside as Markkanen, but he does have a higher floor.  Look for him to go late in the first round and Los Angeles is a potential destination if they keep one or both of those late first round picks, especially now that they have brought Brook Lopez in, who would be the perfect mentor for D.J.

Second Round Picks- Isaiah Hartenstein and Alec Peters

As much as a second round pick can be scary, Alec Peters is a guy that I would really be afraid to take a chance on for a number of reasons.  The biggest one is that he is coming off of a pretty serious injury.  The second is that he will almost exclusively have to play power forward, and at 6’9 that’s going to be tough.  However, he does have a good shot and is a strong scorer with the ball inside the arc too.  Hartenstein has been playing “chutes and ladders” on the mock drafts going anywhere from late first round to undrafted, but I expect him to settle into the upper-middle second round.  With his skill on the perimeter and standing at 7’1, it will be easy to get carried away and make the Kristaps Porzingis comparison and truth be told maybe that is his ceiling, but he is nowhere close to being as NBA ready as Porzingis was when he came into the league.

Three Point Specialist (Archetype: Kyle Korver)

Ken Blaze:USA TODAY Sports
Photo Courtesy of Ken Blaze/USA TODAY Sports

I really hate to keep just throwing up Cavs and Warriors as my archetypes, but there’s kind of a reason those teams made the Finals three straight years too.  Anyway, Korver finished the season second in the NBA in three-point percentage.  Anyone want to wager a guess at who was first?  Anybody?  Bueller?  Fine I’ll tell you, it was Pau Gasol…  I know right?  For what it’s worth, he attempted 255 fewer threes than Korver, so Korver still gets the archetype nod.

Lottery Picks- Malik Monk and Luke Kennard

Putting Monk in this category is probably selling him a little short to be honest.  He is a smooth, athletic and gifted scorer in addition to be a fantastic shooter.  The downside to Monk is that he’s small for a shooting guard, and isn’t there yet as a point guard.  This will certainly hold him back on defense, and may hamper some of his interior scoring ability at least until he adjusts to the pro game.  Luke Kennard is your classic three-point specialist though, and since he is a DWG (“Duke White Guy”) his is naturally being compared to J.J. Redick.  Kennard actually showed plenty of scoring ability in college other than just launching threes, but that’s definitely the strongest part of his game and how he will earn a living at the next level.

Duke Athletics
Luke Kennard (Photo Courtesy of Duke Athletics)

First Round picks- Terrance Ferguson, Tyler Lydon

I’m not in love with either one of these guys at a first round price tag, but between the two I prefer Ferguson.  He has all of the tools necessary to become more than merely a three-point specialist, and he is still extremely young and still learning the game so he is malleable.  However, he is also the same age as Markelle Fultz, who is ready to start for someone right now, and nowhere near to Fultz in terms of being ready to play meaningful NBA minutes.  Tyler Lydon is a smart player and strongly resembles what I might have been as an NBA player had I been a foot taller…and by that I mean a physically overmatched forward who just stands in the corner and waits for the ball.  Lydon is a smart player and is already a superb shooter, but his athleticism will always be a hindrance and I have serious doubts about his ability to ever be a high level role player.

Second Round Pick- Andrew White

Of this entire draft guide, Andrew White is the player who I would say is least likely to be drafted.  He is a tremendous shooter, but at already 24 years old he is basically a mummy in terms of NBA prospects.  White will also be a liability on the defensive side of the ball unless he improves significantly once he gets to camp, which isn’t unheard of but not usually something to bank on either.

Rim Protector/Runner (Archetype: DeAndre Jordan)

Luis Sinco:Los Angeles Times
Photo Courtesy of Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times

This archetype was Dwight Howard’s to lose, but he has now violated the “Ron Artest rule”, which states that any player that gets jettisoned off of three or more teams automatically loses archetype status.  Anyway, these are the guys that rack up blocks, feast on alley-oops in the pick-and-roll game and usually shoot embarrassingly low free throw percentages although it’s not a requirement.

Lottery Pick- Bam Adebayo

The potential is certainly there for Bam to be the next great low post enforcer, as evidenced by his 5-star rating coming out of high school, but he isn’t as NBA ready as I’d like a lottery pick to be after a year of playing at Kentucky.  He was overshadowed by his teammates who will be joining him in the lottery: Malik Monk and De’Aaron Fox.  Another area of concern is that his attention isn’t always there on defense which is something that will have to be ironed out and fast if he is going to be a reliable rim protector.  If I were in the late lottery and felt I needed rim protection, I would trade down or reach for someone in this next tier if at all possible.

Jeff Roberson:AP Photo
Photo Courtesy of Jeff Roberson/AP Photo

First Round Picks- Jarrett Allen and Ike Anigbogu

UCLA product Ike Anigbogu is a prototype rim protector and should be capable of helping a team on day one, despite still be 18 years old currently.  He doesn’t have the same athletic ability that Bam or Jarrett Allen possess, but he is perfectly capable of switching screens when necessary on defense and can do all of the requisite things a center needs to do in 2017.  Allen is a bit rawer than Anigbogu, but he is probably the most athletic center in the draft class and that alone raises his ceiling.  For teams looking to hit a home run in the mid-to-late first round, Allen would definitely be worth considering.

Second Round Picks- Jordan Bell and Mathias Lessort

Jordan Bell is another guy who made a name for himself, especially in Oregon’s Elite Eight win over Kansas where he finished with 11 points, 13 rebounds and 8 blocks.  If that doesn’t scream rim protector, then I’m not sure what does.  Both Bell and Lessort have the athletic ability to be high upside second round picks, and Lessort probably offers a little bit more on the offensive end.  However, it’s hard to forget Bell swatting shots against Kansas like he was Billy Madison playing dodgeball with first graders.

Modern Big (Archetype: Anthony Davis)

Layne Murdoch:Getty Images
Photo Courtesy of Layne Murdoch/Getty Images

As we have evolved, athletes have gotten bigger, faster and stronger and thus the modern big was born.  In 1980, Magic Johnson was a unicorn with the way he moved, ran and passed at 6’9, but today that’s almost expected.  There was also once a time where if you were 6’10 or taller you could make a killing just by jogging up and down the floor and banging in the post.  Not today.  Today’s bigs have to protect the rim, switch screens, catch lobs for alley-oops, stretch the floor and more.

Lottery Pick- Zach Collins

Plenty of people felt like Collins should have returned to Gonzaga for another year considering that he didn’t start last year, but next year’s draft class is just as loaded as this year’s allegedly so it also may have done more harm than good.  Collins has the potential to be a really great post member of some team’s “Big Three” or “Fantastic Four” some day.  He also checks all of the boxes you want from a modern post player.  Collins is strong with the ball in his hands, whether that be shooting, passing or putting the ball on the floor to get himself in position to score.  Defensively, he won’t ever be an elite rim protector, but he can certainly be adequate and his footwork is good enough to switch screens relatively effectively.  Collins will probably make fans of a team picking later in the lottery groan a little bit on draft night because he isn’t a splash pick, but he will make those same fans change their tune not long into his pro career.

Bob Donnan
Photo Courtesy of Bob Donnan

First Round Picks- T.J. Leaf, John Collins

It’s really confusing for two players with the same name to fall into the same category and very close to the same spot in the draft.  It’s even more confusing when the name is common like “Collins”, and compounded by the fact that the first names are as generic as “Zach” and “John”.  John Collins projects as a strong two-way power forward, who has tons of scoring upside.  If he can work on improving his jumpshot, then he will be an especially dynamic scoring option for some team.  T.J. Leaf a.k.a. one of the “slow white guys” that Lavar accused of costing his son’s team a national championship.  This isn’t the first time that Lavar has been wrong something, even if he has never lost.  Leaf needs to add some muscle to his frame and will never be anything more than average on defense, but he is a smart offensive player who will be a nice addition to somebody’s bench rotation late in the first round.

First-Second Round Picks- Anzejs Pasecniks

The guy with the hardest name to spell in the draft is also apparently the most difficult to project, as he has been mocked at going anywhere from 20 to 60 in the draft.  My guess is that he will end up being closer to twenty.  Pasecniks will definitely be a center, but his footwork, agility and jumping ability more closely resembles some of the “hyperathletic wings” we discussed earlier.  He has also added some much needed weight on his 7’2 frame.  The biggest learning curve for him will be on the defensive end of the ball where he is still not as strong as the more physical centers in the NBA and he still has a lot of work to do to become a reasonable help defender.  For upside purposes, I would expect someone to grab him in the late first or early second though.

Second Round Picks- Johnathan Motley and Cam Oliver

Motley has been really gaining traction on mock draft boards over the last few weeks and will end up being one of the first five-ten players picked in the second round.  He is a high energy guy that is versatile defensively, but played so much zone at Baylor that it’s unclear what his potential as a man defender is at this point.  Oliver is one of the more explosive athletes in the whole draft, but he has enough question marks that he will probably be one of the last few players picked in the draft.  He will be a high upside draft pick for somebody in the 50-60 range, but if he is going to be a productive player for any of those teams he will need to improve both his energy level and his feel for the game.

Dinosaur (Archetype: Roy Hibbert)

USATSI
Photo Courtesy of USATSI

What’s big, lumbering and potentially going extinct?  The traditional NBA post player.  Nobody more starkly epitomizes how rapidly the NBA evolved away from the traditional big man than Roy Hibbert, which is a little unfair because even now he still could be a serviceable bench rim protector.  The issue with Hibbert too was that he got a massive contract just as his skillset was becoming borderline obsolete.  This section is dedicated to those of you who believe in revivals.

First Round Picks- Harry Giles and Justin Patton

It might be a sign of the times or a mere outlier that none of the dinosaurs will get picked in the lottery this year.  Harry Giles would have been a lottery pick had he not torn his ACL twice in the last three years, but he also might be more of a modern big in that scenario too.  If he can stay healthy, and return to the ability level that he showed as a high schooler before the injuries, then he will be a steal for someone in the back half of the first round.  However, that is an “if” with a capital I, capital F.  Patton, on the other hand, is a very raw prospect who was late to the draft hype party.  Expect his name to be called in the 15-20 range, and his explosive athleticism puts his ceiling as the highest of any player in the category.

First-Second Round Picks- Tony Bradley, Caleb Swanigan, Ivan Rabb

These guys have all been pegged in the early-30 range, but I wouldn’t be surprised if any of them were to end up going in the late first either.  Swanigan is your typical bruiser who is a lot to handle on the low block, as we saw in the NCAA tournament, and if he can continue to develop as a shooter and a defender then he can be more of a modern power forward.  The big concern with him is that he is probably nearing his athletic ceiling, which leaves doubt about how much progress he can make on the defensive side of the ball.  Bradley is a more fluid athlete than Swanigan, but doesn’t have the same niche skillset that Swanigan does.  Best case scenario, he ends up being a versatile bench center for some team, but there’s also a change he ends up being a guy who doesn’t excel at any aspect of the game and gets relegated to mop-up duty.

Rabb is another in a long line of players who hurt his draft stock by going back to school.  At one point, he and former teammate Jaylen Brown had Cal as sleeper Elite Eight picks for some teams, but without Brown the issues with Rabb became more apparent.  He is an undersized center, but doesn’t have the athleticism to shift to the four at the next level.  He is one of the strongest rebounders in this draft though, and that skill is one of the least plentiful in this draft which elevates his value.

Second Round Pick- Thomas Bryant

Bryant has the potential to be a useful rotation piece for some team, but he is one of the weaker defenders of any post player likely to be drafted.  That alone will restrict his minutes at the next level, but his offensive upside is enough to make him worth a roster spot.

Cover Photo Courtesy of RealGM.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

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