Chad Ford NBA Draft 2017: Takeaways from ESPN Guru's 7th Big Board

Timothy RappFeatured ColumnistMay 23, 2017

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 19:  Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Louisville Cardinals reacts against the Michigan Wolverines in the first half during the second round of the 2017 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse on March 19, 2017 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

ESPN Insider and draft expert Chad Ford released his latest big board on Tuesday, with very few changes atop the board.

Here's a look at his rankings:

  1. Markelle Fultz, G, Washington (Previous: No. 1)
  2. Lonzo Ball, G, UCLA (No. 2)
  3. Josh Jackson, F, Kansas (No. 3)
  4. Jayson Tatum, F, Duke (No. 4)
  5. De'Aaron Fox, G, Kentucky (No. 5)
  6. Jonathan Isaac, F, Florida State (No. 6)
  7. Malik Monk, G, Kentucky (No. 7)
  8. Dennis Smith, G, NC State (No. 8)
  9. Zach Collins, C, Gonzaga (No. 9)
  10. Lauri Markkanen, F/C, Arizona (No. 10)
  11. Frank Ntilikina, G, France (No. 11)
  12. Harry Giles, F, Duke (No. 12)
  13. OG Anunoby, F, Indiana (No. 13)
  14. Luke Kennard, G, Duke (No. 15)
  15. Donovan Mitchell, G, Louisville (No. 22)
  16. John Collins, F, Wake Forest (No. 21)
  17. Terrance Ferguson, G, Australia (No. 16)
  18. Jarrett Allen, C, Texas (No. 14)
  19. Ike Anigbogu, C, UCLA (No. 18)
  20. TJ Leaf, F, UCLA (No. 17)
  21. Justin Patton, C, Creighton (No. 19)
  22. Tony Bradley, C, North Carolina (No. 20)
  23. Bam Adebayo, F, Kentucky (No. 23)
  24. Ivan Rabb, F, California (No. 24)
  25. Justin Jackson, F, North Carolina (No. 25)
  26. Jonathan Jeanne, F, France (n/a)
  27. Hamidou Diallo, G, Kentucky (n/a)
  28. Frank Jackson, G, Duke (n/a)
  29. D.J. Wilson, F, Michigan (No. 27)
  30. Moritz Wagner, F, Michigan (No. 26)

Ford also included his "next five in":

  • Isaiah Hartenstein, F, Germany
  • Jawun Evans, G, Oklahoma State
  • Jordan Bell, F, Oregon
  • Caleb Swanigan, F, Purdue
  • Rodions Kurucs, F, Latvia

There aren't too many surprises at the top of the list, which is headlined by Fultz at No. 1 overall. As Ford noted, "More and more scouts seem to be leaning toward Fultz as the consensus No. 1 pick in the draft."

It's hard to find many draft experts who would disagree. B/R's Jonathan Wasserman still has Fultz atop his latest big board, for instance, writing: "Given Fultz's volume production and efficiency at Washington, scouts haven't soured on him despite the Huskies' lousy record. Long and athletic, having consistently improved with every season, Fultz should see his elite scoring and playmaking carry over."

After that, there is a bit more fluidity in the general rankings. Ford has Ball at No. 2, noting that he has the "talent to be a star." 

Even if Ball falls down big boards, he still remains a safe bet to be selected by the Los Angeles Lakers with the No. 2 pick. The fast-paced, playmaking style of play he displayed while at UCLA would not only fit head coach Luke Walton's scheme, but it also would fit the organization's history of featuring marketable and exciting players.

Like many other pundits or ranking sites, Ford has Josh Jackson, Jayson Tatum and De'Aaron Fox rounding out his top five. While the order of those prospects will vary in different big boards, that top five seems to be fairly common.

Isaac is the most likely player to sneak into the top five, depending on who you ask. And Ford didn't rule out a potential rise from the No. 6 ranking for Isaac, noting "he has picked up some momentum in recent weeks as teams watch the playoffs and see him as a perfect long-term fit in the positionless modern NBA. I could even see him creeping ahead of Jackson and Tatum with great workouts. Oh, and our analytics team has him No. 1 on its board."

Meanwhile, the biggest riser in Ford's latest big board was Donovan Mitchell. As Ford noted, that bump came after a strong combine showing:

"Mitchell had the best combine of anyone, and he didn't play a minute of five-on-five. His elite athletic testing numbers—combined with a crazy, Dwyane Wade-esque wingspan of 6-foot-10—have some lottery teams targeting him now."

"He's not the shooter that Kennard is, but he's a better athlete and defender and equally good playmaker. You'll see teams asking those two to work out against each other."

The combine appeared to help John Collins, Jonathan Jeanne, Hamidou Diallo and Jackson as well, prompting each to shoot up Ford's big board. Diallo may be the most intriguing of that bunch, as he hasn't played a college game and could be a lottery pick or even top-five selection in next year's draft if he returns to school.

Still, given his athleticism, it wouldn't be shocking if he's a top-20 pick in the June 22 draft. That alone might be enough incentive for Diallo to keep himself draft eligible.