Thursday, June 22, 2017
While the trend to pick "one and done" guys and foreign players makes evaluation difficult, here are my thoughts on the 2017 NBA Draft before it ever happens.
Guys I Like
1) I think the most talented player in the draft is Josh Jackson of Kansas. He reminds me a lot of Andrew Wiggins. Big guard or small forward, freakish athlete, hard to stop when he is motivated. His weaknesses are also the same as Wiggy - not a great shooter, doesn't always play hard.
2) Jayson Tatum, Duke -- I think the Celtics should prefer Tatum over Jackson. They already have freakish athlete Jaylen Brown. Tatum just seems more like a Brad Stevens player in the mold of guys Stevens likes to play. Tatum's primary weaknesses are that he is an average shooter and average ballhandler. What people do not realize about Tatum is that he is an incredible all-around player (plus defender, plus rebounder, plus shotblocker, great hands, very good passer).
One rap on Tatum is that he is a poor isolation player who tries to play too much isolation. True - but if you are a good NBA team with a good NBA coach, you will figure out that Tatum actually is an exceptional complementary player to your true superstars.
I think if he goes to Boston he will fit in great. If he goes to Phoenix or Sacto, and they try to run stuff for him, that will be bad.
3) Markell Fultz - never seen play live, but his highlight packages remind me of Allan Houston, smooth shooter, can drive, 85% athlete. I do not see Fultz as a superstar. I think only Jackson has the athletic ability combined with size to be a superstar in the LeBron/Durant/Kobe mode.
4) Lonzo Ball -- you have to wonder what happened against Kentucky, but overall, the guy is a big PG and seems capable of running an offense right away. Magic appears to like him, and Magic should know PGs. The name Jason Kidd comes up a lot.
5) Zach Collins -- if you watch his highlight and lowlight packages, two guys come to mind -- Karl-Anthony Towns and Christian Laettner. He can do everything you need to be done on a basketball court. His only physical limitation is strength, and one hopes that this is something he could gain with age.
6) Dennis Smith, Jr. -- to be a star NBA player, you generally need a special athletic talent. Dennis Smith has unbelievable athletic talent and has decent shooting form (doesn't always go in), so he is definitely worth a shot. Feast or famine type guy -- will he try? What is his level of effort? You cannot be a little guy AND lack effort in the NBA.
Guys I Do Not Like
7) Lauri Markkenen -- I just cannot get over his inability to guard Xavier's awful big man at the key moment of that game. He is a 7" shooter, which is fine if your team is extremely good and plays at such a rapid pace that he can get wide open shots. I don't see many teams fitting that bill. if you want a stretch 4, Houston is trying to give away Ryan Anderson.
8) Jonathan Isaac -- I saw Florida State play several games this year. When I watched, he never stood out as a player on his own team. That is bad. When you watched Jayson Tatum play for Duke, sometimes he was good, sometimes he was bad, but you always knew he was involved in the game and doing everything he could to win. Isaac from a talent perspective reminds me of a taller Corey Brewer. I am sure you could get the original version for cheap.
9) Frank Ntilikina -- one scouting report stated that "he is so raw offensively that it is impossible to evaluate him". Um, OK. His highlights tape is him playing good defense, his weaknesses tape is of him getting stripped of the ball while bringing it up the court and of him shooting numerous airballs. I don't think a defense-first guard who cannot be trusted to bring the ball up should be a top 10 pick.
Duke Guys and Kentucky Guys
Look, I am not going to lie. I have a genuine distaste for Kentucky guys and a love for most Duke guys, so I cannot be completely objective (I did review KAT's video highlights pre-draft and recommended he be picked over Okafor, so in extreme cases I can be fair).
Monk and Fox -- I think you need to give them each the benefit of the doubt. Calipari's guys have generally over-performed as pros. I mean, even one of the Harrisons saw rotation time. If you are sitting there and you cannot pick one of my top 6 guys I like, picking a Kentucky guy is always a good idea.
Kennard and Harry Giles -- Luke Kennard is an excellent basketball player. For his size he is a plus-plus shooter and rebounder; he can finish with either hand; he will move his feet on defense and is pretty strong. He is going to struggle some with lateral movement, and I do not see him as a steals+blocks guy. He may never be a starter for a good team. But I think he could provide bench scoring and get extremely hot in certain circumstances. Top 17 pick,.
Harry Giles -- great hands, great rebounder, can jump straight up into the air a long way, might actually be 6'10" in bare feet, very good FT shooter, has some limited post moves.
The HUGE question with Harry Giles is whether he can move laterally at all. At Duke his out on the floor defense and interior defense were both virtually impossible to watch. Can he stay on the floor against bench players and do enough to contribute? I don't know.
If by some MIRACLE his knees get 100% better, there is so much potential there - you can see why he was the #1 overall talent in HS.
VERY low #1; 23 or lower.