NBA Draft: Updated Big Board After the First Week of March Madness
With only 16 teams remaining in the NCAA tournament, it's time for an update to the 2017 NBA draft big board.
Five of our top 10 prospects are still alive and looking to improve their stock before workouts, testing and interviews. A few new players have also been added to the ranks following standout performances on the postseason stage.
The board is still fluid with a UCLA-Kentucky matchup on Friday and North Carolina potentially waiting for the winner. Expect scouts to be hoping for an Arizona-Gonzaga meeting on the other side of the bracket in the Elite Eight. There would be multiple prospects playing for something in that one.
Prospects who've already announced their return to school have been taken off the board. So far, only Texas A&M big man Robert Williams falls in that category.
50. Dwayne Bacon (Florida State, SG/SF, Sophomore)
Bacon showed improvement in 2016-17, but not in the important areas, having only shot 33.3 percent from three and averaging just 1.7 assists. There is still NBA potential worth looking into, however, thanks to his 6'7", 221-pound body, athleticism and scoring skill set.
49. D.J. Wilson (Michigan, SF/PF, Junior)
Wilson has become an interesting name in the draft discussion for his versatility as a ball-handler, shot-maker and defender. He's been inconsistent and doesn't excel in any one area, but his ability to guard multiple positions and hit open jumpers should earn him NBA looks.
48. Anzejs Pasecniks (Latvia, C, 1995)
Averaging 19.4 points per 40 minutes on 64.4 percent shooting in the Spanish ACB, Pasecniks has made a name for himself with limited playing time. At 7'2", however, he was never difficult to spot.
47. Jaron Blossomgame (Clemson, SF/PF, Senior)
Already 23 years old, a poor year shooting the ball knocks Blossomgame into the second-round tier. He could be an interesting buy-low candidate, given the fact he shot 44.1 percent from three-point range as a junior and has the NBA tools and explosiveness to defend and score inside the arc.
46. Dillon Brooks (Oregon, SF, Junior)
Brooks' production, skills, toughness and clutch play could help scouts overlook his lack of explosiveness and quickness. Still, questions over his potential to cleanly separate and defend push him into the second-round conversation.
45. Chimezie Metu (USC, PF/C, Sophomore)
The Pac-12's Most Improved Player, Metu made strides as a post scorer and mid-range shooter. He also impressed in the NCAA tournament with 28 points against Johnathan Motley and Baylor. He needs to toughen up inside, but his tools check out and his skills continue to look sharper.
44. Devonte' Graham (Kansas, PG, Junior)
Making at least 39 percent of his threes for the third straight season, Graham's shooting is worth looking into. He'll attempt to win a backup job as a shot-making ball-handler.
43. Alec Peters (Valparaiso, PF, Senior)
Before suffering a season-ending stress fracture in his leg, Peters averaged 23.0 points and 10.1 rebounds this year and ended his college career with 289 made threes. Defense is a concern, but in the second round, his shot-making and basketball IQ should be enough to pull the trigger.
42. Cameron Oliver (Nevada, PF, Sophomore)
An explosive athlete, Oliver immediately stands out for his leaping at the rim. Throw in 66 made threes this season and his shot-blocking instincts (2.6 per game), and Oliver should draw second-round interest for his coveted mix of shooting and rim protection.
41. Grayson Allen (Duke, SG, Junior)
NBA teams will look to use Allen the same way Duke did in 2016-17. His athleticism, shot-making and energy could be useful in a spark-plug role off the bench.
40. Josh Hart (Villanova, SG, Senior)
From a scouting perspective, athletic limitations cast a cloud over Hart's terrific senior year and numbers. The right role and fit could be necessary for Hart to thrive as a jack-of-all-trades NBA wing.
39. Juwan Evans (Oklahoma State, PG, Sophomore)
Already set to enter the draft, per The Undefeated's Marc Spears, Evans will look to sell teams on his breakdown ability off the dribble. He lacks explosiveness at the rim and isn't a credible three-point shooter, but Evans' Ish Smith-like setup ability could hold value in a backup point guard role.
38. Devin Robinson (Florida, SF/PF, Junior)
Robinson won't win scouts over with stats, though his 24 points against East Tennessee State in the round of 64 was an attention-grabber. Along with his athleticism for a 6'8" forward, he'll earn looks for his potential to guard big or small, knock down spot-up jumpers and drive through open lanes.
37. Jordan Bell (Oregon, PF/C, Junior)
Bell will have the chance to succeed by sticking to his strengths. Physical and athletic with a strong motor, Bell is worth a pick in the 25-40 range for the likelihood he can finish, rebound and block shots in an energy role.
36. Kostja Mushidi (Germany, SG, 1998)
Mushidi passes the eye test, but his numbers suggest he's too far away to offer much immediate value in 2017-18. Athletic, strong, quick defensively and capable from three, he'll likely be a draft-and-stash option.
35. Wesley Iwundu (Kansas State, SF, Senior)
After putting up 24 points, seven assists and six rebounds against Wake Forest in the First Four, Iwundu tied a season high with three triples in the round of 64. His sales pitch starts with versatility, as he's a 6'7" athletic wing who can handle the ball, facilitate, attack and defend multiple positions. But his suspect jumper, which made strides in 2016-17 (32 threes, 37.6 percent), will be the key to him sticking in the NBA long term.
34. Allonzo Trier (Arizona, SG, Sophomore)
An improved shooter and playmaker, Trier suddenly appears to be a much better NBA fit. He'll look even better if he can lead Arizona to the Final Four as the team's No. 1 scoring option.
33. Ivan Rabb (California, PF/C, Sophomore)
Rabb didn't show enough improvement as a sophomore, and without shooting range or defensive promise, his upside will be capped. He'll be an option in the 20s or 30s for his tools, post-up game and rebounding motor.
32. Caleb Swanigan (Purdue, PF/C, Sophomore)
Fresh off a 20-point, 12-rebound, seven-assist game against Iowa State in the round of 32, Swanigan will have the chance to make even more noise against Kansas in the Sweet 16. Athletic limitations weigh on his defensive outlook and scoring potential, but his elite rebounding instincts, newfound shooting stroke and passing seem likely to translate.
31. Semi Ojeleye (SMU, PF, Junior)
After playing 17 games in 2013-14, six games in 2014-15 and redshirting in 2015-16, Ojeleye's AAC Player of the Year junior season came out of nowhere. He's now a potential first-round option with explosive power around the basket and a 42.4 percent three-point shooting stroke. His age (he'll turn 23 in December) and questions over his defensive fit hint at limited upside, but his inside-out offensive game is too intriguing for a small-ball 4.
30. Mathias Lessort (France, C, 1995)
One of the more productive young bigs overseas, Lessort has now averaged 13.7 points and 10.0 rebounds over his last six games. At 6'9" and 250 pounds, he's an handful around the rim with enough mobility to beat teams down the floor.
29. OG Anunoby (Indiana, SF, Sophomore)
Assuming there isn't permanent damage from Anunoby's season-ending knee injury, his long-term projection won't change. Quick and long, he'll look to build value with his defensive versatility and athleticism around the rim. Becoming a shooter capable of making open threes could eventually earn Anunoby major minutes if the fit is right.
28. Terrance Ferguson (Adelaide 36ers, SF, 1998)
Ferguson held his own this year in Australia's National Basketball League, but he wasn't able to make much of an impression in limited minutes. He'll still draw first-round interest based on his tools, athleticism and shooting stroke, which all suggest three-and-D potential. But after he averaged only 4.6 points and dished out just 18 assists in 30 appearances all season, it's safer to consider him in the 20s or 30s.
27. Ike Anigbogu (UCLA, C, Freshman)
Anigbogu is practically all physical tools and athleticism, without any ball skills or shooting touch. Teams will covet him for his obvious NBA body, rim protection and finishing potential. Clint Capela jumps out the player Anigbogu will look to emulate.
26. Tyler Lydon (Syracuse, PF, Sophomore)
For the most part, Lydon looked similar to what he looked like last year—limited as a shot-creator, but dangerous as a shot-maker. He'll earn his money shooting the three-ball, which he converted at a 39.8 percent clip through 71 career games. His value spikes if he can improve his playmaking skills from the stretch 4 position.
25. Harry Giles III (Duke, PF, Freshman)
Giles barely had a chance to show what he could do this year due to a preseason knee setback and a deep Duke rotation that excelled with fellow freshman Jayson Tatum at the 4 and senior Amile Jefferson at the 5. Giles did his damage exclusively as a finisher and offensive rebounder. Playing 11.5 minutes per game, he struggled to add any confidence or skills. The NBA D-League and professional trainers could help.
24. Bam Adebayo (Kentucky, C, Freshman)
Adebayo hasn't needed refined offensive skills to consistently post double-digit scoring totals for Kentucky. NBA teams won't ask him to use them, either. He'll draw first-round interest for the easy baskets his strength and explosiveness lead to off penetration, misses and transition. Adebayo should be worth a look in the 20s as an energizer for a frontline that lacks athleticism.
23. TJ Leaf (UCLA, PF, Freshman)
TJ Leaf has obvious defensive limitations, but his highly polished skill set appears built for today's stretch 4 position. Teams will value his shooting potential (45.6 percent from three), but his ability to put the ball on the floor and create is what separates him from fellow big men.
22. Bruce Brown (Miami, SG, Freshman)
Between his 30-point game in a win over North Carolina on Jan. 28 and 25-point outing in a win over Duke on Feb. 25, Brown gave scouts two monster performances against top-ranked teams to pore over. We saw typical freshman inconsistency during the year, and he return back to school to improve his shooting. But Brown's tools, athleticism and versatility at both ends have landed him on the first-round radar.
21. Rodions Kurucs (Latvia, SF, 1998)
Kurucs continues to play well for Barcelona's second team in Spain's LEB Gold league, where his 6'8" size, athleticism and scoring potential stand out. The assumption that he'll play minutes next year in the Spanish ACB makes him the top draft-and-stash candidate in this year's field if he declares.
20. John Collins (Wake Forest, PF, Sophomore)
NBA coaches will have to work on John Collins' defense, which opponents exposed down the stretch of Wake Forest's season. But that won't negate his athleticism and enormous production, which came out to 29.9 points, 13.7 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per 40 minutes against ACC opponents.
Collins consistently punished opposing frontlines in the paint with his explosive leaping ability and touch. More than just a finisher, the sophomore big man flashed post moves and difficult over-the-shoulder shot-making skills around the key.
With just 17 total assists on the year, Collins doesn't bring much outside of interior scoring and activity, but there is a role waiting for him off an NBA bench.
19. Luke Kennard (Duke, SG, Sophomore)
Betting on Luke Kennard means anticipating him compensating for athletic limitations with skills and basketball IQ. He happens to be razor-sharp, between his shot-making (he made 88 threes this season on 43.8 percent shooting) and footwork off the dribble, which he uses to create just enough separation.
Kennard struggled during the NCAA tournament, combining to shoot 4-of-18 against Troy and South Carolina, but two bad games won't move the needle on his final evaluation. Through 18 ACC regular-season matchups, he averaged 19.9 points on 49.4 percent shooting in a go-to role.
If Kennard can hold his own defensively against backup 2-guards, he'll have the chance to succeed in the pros as a complementary scorer and passer.
18. Donovan Mitchell (Louisville, SG, Sophomore)
Donovan Mitchell had a streaky finish to the year, but his athleticism and scoring still check out under the NBA lens.
The on-and-off shooting was also the result of shot selection as the No. 1 option. NBA teams won't give him that responsibility.
They're most likely to value his shot-making and ability to generate offense in bunches. He's capable of catching fire and going off, which scouts saw multiple times during 20-plus-point outbursts over the second half of the season.
At 6'3" without playmaking skills, his upside is limited. Instead, he'll look to mirror someone like Avery Bradley, who's thrived by scoring, defending and handling the ball in a secondary role.
17. Johnathan Motley (Baylor, PF/C, Junior)
Johnathan Motley thrived in an expanded role in 2016-17.
He's emerged as the Big 12's leading rebounder (9.9 boards per game) while averaging 17.3 points, showing improved ball skills as a post option or a face-up scorer within 15 feet. His mid-range touch looks promising as well, and he's raised his free-throw mark to 71.2 percent (from 60.7 percent) and assist rate to 17.4 percent (from 9.1 percent)
It's worth questioning whether Motley profiles as a power forward or a center in the NBA, but with his shooting range, athleticism, 230-pound frame and 7'3 ½" wingspan, there are enough reasons to believe he could fit in as an interchangeable second-unit big.
16. Jarrett Allen (Texas, C, Freshman)
Jarrett Allen rebounded from a relatively slow start to emerge as a potential one-and-done top-20 pick.
His offense started to click during conference play, where he averaged 16.2 points on 59.9 percent shooting through 18 Big 12 games. His skills are still behind his tools, which include 6'11" size, a massive 7'5 ½" wingspan and good feet, but over the course of the season, we started to see more successful post moves and mid-range jumpers.
Another year at Texas to strengthen his body wouldn't hurt. Though he projects as a rim-protector and interior-oriented big man, his 15.0 rebounding percentage and 5.0 block percentage were low.
The eye test shows defense being a selling point, however. And assuming his back-to-the-basket game and jumper continue to make strides, he should have something to offer offensively.
15. Justin Jackson (North Carolina, SF, Junior)
Feelings toward Justin Jackson have changed in 2017. Inconsistency hasn't been an issue during a breakout junior season that's seen him average 18.1 points, win ACC Player of the Year and lead North Carolina to the Sweet 16.
Along with the dramatically improved shooting—he's already hit 98 threes after combining to make 63 as a freshman and sophomore—Jackson has also flashed supporting versatility, which we saw in the round of 32 against Arkansas (15 points, eight rebounds, five assists, five steals).
Average athleticism, a skinny frame and a suspect defensive outlook are reasons to question the height of Jackson's ceiling. But his shot-making skills and high-IQ passing are convincing and give off the sense he'll fit as a role player.
14. Zach Collins (Gonzaga, C, Freshman)
Zach Collins has only needed 17.3 minutes per game to make a one-and-done NBA draft case.
Returning for another year should still be in the cards, but with Gonzaga making a run in the NCAA tournament, the stage is set for Collins right now.
He just finished with 14 points and four blocks to help knock off Northwestern in the round of 32. A mobile 7-footer, Collins is terrific around the basket, where he's flashed good footwork and soft hands. He gets to the line 9.4 times per 40 minutes and shoots 75.4 percent on free throws.
With mid-range touch and range out to the arc (9-of-20 from three), Collins' inside-out offense has been eye-opening. His 17.9 rebounding percentage and 9.2 block percentage only help further support his case.
13. Isaiah Hartenstein (Germany, PF, 1998)
Fluctuating numbers and minutes haven't masked Isaiah Hartenstein's NBA potential. It shows in flashes of three-point shooting, advanced passes, strong finishes and defensive versatility.
He's been quiet with Zalgiris in Lithuana, particularly this month, but Hartenstein has been on the radar since the 2014 Jordan Brand Classic. Between the showcase events, FIBA play, his tools/athleticism and skill set, there is too much to be intrigued by.
Look for Hartenstein to rise further during predraft workouts, where his jumper, handles and mobility could turn heads up close.
12. Justin Patton (Creighton, C, Freshman)
After a surprising start and terrific January, Justin Patton fell off down the stretch, though a season-ending injury to point guard Maurice Watson didn't help.
We still continuously saw flashes from Patton, who scored 21 points in the Big East tournament against Sweet 16-bound Xavier.
Athletic and mobile with 6'11" size, he's flashed everything from post footwork, shooting potential, passing and the ability to attack closeouts with the dribble.
He could fall in the boom-or-bust category if he declares, but the potential boom is exciting enough to warrant consideration from teams in the teens.
11. Frank Ntilikina (France, PG/SG, 1998)
Frank Ntilikina made his most convincing pitch in December at the U18 European Championships, where he was named MVP. He's currently playing his best ball of the season with Strasbourg in LNB Pro A and Basketball Champions League.
Over his last five games, Ntilikina is 22-of-31, including 9-of-15 from three, averaging 10.8 points in 26 minutes. He's operating mostly off the ball, showing the ability to make plays within the offense as a scorer and shooter. Over the years, he's also shown promise with his passing and pick-and-roll facilitating.
Between his quick feet and terrific length, his defensive ceiling is also higher than that of any guard in the draft.
He can't match the athleticism of the top NCAA options, but Ntilikina's tools and versatility at both ends suggest an NBA fit. At 18 years old, his efficiency overseas against pros should just make it easier to draft him early.
10. Miles Bridges (Michigan State, PF, Freshman)
Miles Bridges has been too productive and consistent for questions over his future position to cause scouts to hesitate.
Even during Michigan State's loss to Kansas in the round of 32, he managed to strengthen his case, scoring 22 points, many on Kansas' Josh Jackson, whose size and quickness are on par with starting NBA wings.
NBA teams are likely to picture Bridges playing small at power forward, where he can stretch the floor, exploit his foot speed and hopefully compensate for size with explosiveness. He becomes a steal at No. 11 if his three-point shooting translates and he proves to be an effective perimeter defender.
9. Lauri Markkanen (Arizona, PF/C, Freshman)
Lauri Markkanen's 7-foot size and shooting stroke anchor him into the lottery discussion.
After a brief cold stretch early in the month, he's relocated his accuracy, having combined for eight threes against UCLA and Colorado in the Pac-12 tournament.
A potentially bigger development, however, is the fact Markkanen has put more of an emphasis on feasting inside. He's only taken two triples over Arizona's last three games, and against Saint Mary's in the round of 32, he finished with 11 rebounds, two blocks and a season-high 10 free-throw attempts.
For a power forward or center, Markkanen has unique perimeter skills. But whether he maxes out his potential will come down to how well he compensates for limited explosiveness, particularly around the basket.
A possible Elite Eight matchup against Gonzaga, which has two strong 7-footers, would capture scouts' attention.
8. De'Aaron Fox (Kentucky, PG, Freshman)
De'Aaron Fox continues to strengthen his case in March with bigger scoring outputs and clutch play.
The wins certainly help his image, as has the improved shooting, given how poor he'd been earlier in the season. The bar is set low, but Fox has now hit a three-pointer in six of his last eight games heading into the Sweet 16 against UCLA.
Otherwise, his speed with the ball and athleticism scream NBA playmaker. He puts heavy pressure on the rim by attacking off ball screens and transition. And with exceptionally quick feet and hands, there is enticing defensive potential for coaches to unlock.
All you're hoping for with Fox is that his jumper becomes good enough. With fine mechanics and a decent 72.8 free-throw percentage—along with all the explosiveness, facilitating and driving—Fox is a bet worth taking in the top 10.
7. Malik Monk (Kentucky, SG, Freshman)
It hasn't been Malik Monk's month, but nothing changes regarding his long-term projection. Extreme athleticism and high-level shot-making still create exciting NBA potential.
Given how hot he started the year and the fact 420 of his 531 field-goal attempts have been jumpers (twos and threes), the recent cold steak (33.3 FG through five postseason games) isn't shocking.
Still, his particular shot selection suggests inconsistency may follow him. But the NBA-friendly explosiveness and shooting say Monk's floor is high. At the least, he'll settle into the league as a sixth-man type microwave scorer off the bench.
Maximizing his potential will mean developing as a playmaker—which we've seen flashes of in the pick-and-roll game—and improving his ability to get to the basket.
6. Dennis Smith Jr. (North Carolina State, PG, Freshman)
Too many no-show games caused Dennis Smith Jr. to slip in the draft conversation. Questions have been raised about his potential to steer a team from the lead guard spot.
But there aren't many concerns over his talent, which keeps him locked into the top 10. An exciting athlete, shifty and explosive, Smith puts pressure on the defense with his ability to change speed, attack, pull up or thread the needle.
He finished his freshman year averaging 18.1 points and 6.2 assists, playing mostly against quality ACC opponents. Smith even nailed 55 threes, an encouraging sign for his jumper.
From the production to his explosiveness, everything we've seen from Smith suggests he'll produce in the NBA. But there are some negatives: efficiency, short arms (6'3" wingspan), erratic shooting and decision-making.
5. Jonathan Isaac (Florida State, SF/PF, Freshman)
Jonathan Isaac had an on-and-off close to the season, but the ups should be valued more than the downs. He was terrific in Florida State's opening-round NCAA tournament win against Florida Gulf Coast on Thursday, when he went for 17 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and three blocks.
He followed up with his fourth single-digit scoring game of Florida State's last six, however, in a convincing loss to Xavier. A smaller role and deep rotation made it difficult for him to build rhythm this year. Isaac also plays an unselfish brand of ball, although the scouting report must list passiveness as a weakness.
Still, Isaac remained efficient throughout. He converted 59.3 percent of his two-point field goals and registered a 13.3 turnover percentage.
For a 6'10" forward, his ball-handling and shooting touch (31 threes, 78 percent free throws) are too enticing. The toughness he showed inside (12 rebounds per 40 minutes) and defensive versatility help push Isaac into the top five.
4. Jayson Tatum (Duke, SF, Freshman)
After missing the first eight games of the season and then taking some time to adjust, Jayson Tatum got comfortable over the final month. He averaged 22 points during Duke's four-game run in the ACC tournament before its disappointing finish in the NCAAs.
Tatum is a next-level shot-creator with a smooth jumper, and he's capitalized on the step-back footwork and jab steps used to separate. Along with a capable three-ball (40 makes) and polished mid-range game, Tatum also flashed the handles to slice through traffic, attack the rim or drive-and-kick.
Over the course of the season, he did a better job of picking his spots and scoring within the offense, making it easier to picture him fitting into an NBA lineup.
Tatum isn't as explosive or versatile as our top-ranked forward, but for a 6'8" wing and fine athlete, his ball skills are second to none.
3. Josh Jackson (Kansas, SF, Freshman)
Jayson Tatum made a late-season move, but Josh Jackson hasn't taken his foot off the gas.
He also isn't done. Jackson gets another chance to strengthen his pitch against Purdue in the Sweet 16, after already averaging 20 points through two NCAA tournament wins.
His skills are catching up to his athleticism and vision. Against Michigan State on Sunday, Jackson demonstrated much-improved shot creativity with step-back jumpers, a fallaway from the post and a jump hook in the lane.
Don't buy into his shooting just yet, given the small sample size of threes (32-of-83) and a poor 56.7 percent free-throw mark. But between his handle, passing and shot-making ability, there are enough reasons to buy into his offensive upside.
2. Lonzo Ball (UCLA, PG, Freshman)
Lonzo Ball remains at No. 2, but he's never been closer to No. 1.
The NCAA tournament has presented him with the perfect opportunity to sway scouts who'd been on the fence. Ball took over against Cincinnati in the round of 32 after trailing at the break, having hit three second-half triples on his way to 18 points, nine assists and seven rebounds.
Winning has always been a major selling point for Ball, who continues to drive it home with more victories and clutch play. The shooting and step-back jumpers only help lessen concern over his scoring potential.
There are bound to already be some teams that would prefer him at No. 1. More will jump ship toward Ball if the Bruins cruise past Kentucky and the winner of North Carolina-Butler.
1. Markelle Fultz (Washington, PG, Freshman)
Lonzo Ball has closed the gap, but not enough to unseat Markelle Fultz, our No. 1 prospect since the summer.
Despite Washington's disastrous season, Fultz was as good as advertised, having averaged 23.2 points and 5.9 assists while shooting 47.6 percent from the floor and 41.3 percent from three.
With size, quickness and explosive leaping, Fultz also flashed the A-plus tools and athleticism to back up his elite skills, volume production and efficiency. As a scoring playmaker, his style of play appears tailor-made for today's lead guard spot.
It's impossible to tie Washington's losses to any weaknesses of Fultz, who remained poised and consistent throughout the season.
Jonathan Wasserman covers the NBA draft for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter: @NBADraftWass