2017 NBA Mock Draft: Final Ranking Heading into the New Year

Jonathan Wasserman@@NBADraftWassNBA Lead WriterDecember 24, 2016

2017 NBA Mock Draft: Final Ranking Heading into the New Year

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    The 2017 NBA draft's first round is clearing up, with a handful of key prospects back from injuries and others who've come out of nowhere for breakouts. 

    Compared to November's mock top-30, this month's edition has six different names. 

    Three impressive international prospects on our board also just finished playing in Turkey at the U18 European Championships. One of them helped his stock with an MVP performance.

    The order is based on the NBA standings as of December 1. Future trades were also accounted for.

1. Philadelphia 76ers: Markelle Fultz (Washington, PG, 6'4", Freshman)

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    The Philadelphia 76ers will give Kansas' Josh Jackson and UCLA's Lonzo Ball some thought, but it's becoming harder to envision any team passing on Markelle Fultz. 

    As one scout put it: "It's not even a debate," citing Fultz as the superior prospect to Ball.  

    Fultz's athleticism, scoring skills and playmaking have been better than advertised. If he was a preseason favorite among scouts to go No. 1, chances are nothing has changed through 12 games of him averaging 22 points, 6.3 assists, 6.2 rebounds, 1.8 steals and 1.3 blocks on 50.5 percent shooting and 46.8 percent from three.

    Fultz effortlessly creates shots with fancy ball-handling, change of speed and footwork. A willing and crafty setup man, his driving, mid-range game and three-point shooting also fuel All-Star scoring potential. 

    Washington's inability to stop anyone won't damage his stock, though defense has been Fultz's primary weakness. Even if the Huskies miss the NIT tournament, the support for Fultz at No. 1 should remain strong.

    He'd be a fitting addition to a Sixers backcourt that's arguably the weakest in the league.

2. Boston Celtics (via Nets): Josh Jackson (Kansas, SF, 6'8", Freshman)

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    On paper, the Boston Celtics need a 4, but taking one would mean passing on more exciting talent.

    Josh Jackson's versatility should let him play different spots in Boston. He continues to slash through defenses and show promise as a shot-creator around the key, where he's flashed pull-ups, floaters and runners.

    His handle and passing have also impressed. Averaging 3.1 assists, Jackson's vision and playmaking have become real strengths in his game.

    He also looks like a terrific defensive prospect. Between his size and lateral quickness, he could lock down and guard three positions. The Celtics would be adding yet another defensive stud to go along with Avery Bradley, Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown. 

    Jackson's shooting range and mechanics need work, but he checks too many other boxesfrom transition offense to two-point scoring, distributing, defense, basketball IQ and competitiveness.

3. Phoenix Suns: Jayson Tatum (Duke, SF, 6'8", Freshman)

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    With their backcourt set, two power forwards to develop (Marquese Chriss, Dragan Bender) and no center worth taking at No. 3, the Phoenix Suns should be heavily scouting wings Josh Jackson, Jayson Tatum and Florida State's Jonathan Isaac.

    Tatum is the most polished of them all and gives Phoenix a scoring option it can feature in the half court.

    He's already impressed with advanced ball-handling and footwork. A versatile shot-creator and shot-maker, we've already seen a number of pretty step-backs, pull-ups and fallaways.

    His three-point shot needs work, but he's averaging 15.4 points and stands out defensively with his length, quick feet and reaction time.

4. Dallas Mavericks: Dennis Smith Jr. (North Carolina State, PG, 6'3", Freshman)

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    UCLA's Lonzo Ball will be enticing for any top-five team, but the Dallas Mavericks could wind up valuing Dennis Smith Jr.'s playmaking and scoring potential. 

    Ball is a better fit on a team that has more weapons around him; Smith offers firepower to a Mavs lineup whose starting guards are on the decline. 

    And he's suddenly found his jumper, which is scary news for ACC defenses just before conference play. Smith hit nine of 12 three-pointers over North Carolina State's last two games and now averages 1.7 triples at a respectable 38.5 percent clip. His jumper still needs work, but it certainly looks capable of becoming a consistent threat. 

    And that was supposed to be his glaring weakness.

    Otherwise, Smith dazzles with quickness and ball-handling off the dribble, while his explosiveness has already helped him rack up 40 buckets at the rim and 63 made free throws through 12 games, per Hoop-Math.com. A 31.2 percent assist percentage and 14.4 percent turnover percentage are also both encouraging numbers early on, per Sports-Reference.com.

5. Miami Heat: Lonzo Ball (UCLA, PG, 6'6", Freshman)

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    It wouldn't be shocking if the Miami Heat enter the draft without Goran Dragic, an obvious trade candidate for a team he can't help now. The Vertical's Chris Mannix reported Miami has already made him available. 

    Miami is also likely aware of the point guard talent in the projected 2017 draft class. The team could retool with Lonzo Ball, who's helped transform UCLA into an offensive machine and the No. 2 team in the country.

    The Heat could take him even if they hold onto Dragic, who has played both guard spots previously. At 6'6" with some bounce to his step, Ball's spectacular vision, passing and setup ability should translate to numerous backcourt setups. He gets teammates open shots by pushing and moving the ball. 

    Missing a pull-up and floater gamehaving made just one two-point jumper all season, per Hoop-Math.comBall's scoring potential isn't as promising. 

    The big question is whether that will matter, given his knack for making others better.

6. New Orleans Pelicans: Frank Ntilikina (France, PG, 6'5", 1998)

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    Nobody is creating more waves overseas than Frank Ntilikina, who was just named MVP of the U18 European Championships. He finished with 23 points and nine assists against Italy in the semis before hanging 31 points on Lithuania during a finals win.

    Ntilikina combined to hit 17 of 29 three-pointers in a shooting performance that helped validate the 47.1 percent three-point mark he had going with Strasbourg IG.

    Quick and long at 6'5", he always aced the NBA eye test and earned praise for his poised decision-making and suffocating defense. He forces turnovers and guards both backcourt positions. 

    But his confidence and offensive game took off this past week in Turkey.

    Compared to Kentucky's De'Aaron Fox, the New Orleans Pelicans may now evaluate Ntilikina as the more complete point guard, given his superior size, playmaking, defense and blossoming perimeter skills.

7. Minnesota Timberwolves: Jonathan Isaac (Florida St., SF/PF, 6'10", Freshman)

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    The Minnesota Timberwolves could use another forward, and Jonathan Isaac gives them versatility as either a 3 or small-ball 4.

    His 6'10" size and guard skills also create alluring potential. Too quick and skilled for bigs with overwhelming height and length for wings, Isaac's ceiling screams mismatch.

    Isaac's jumper, which he can knock down off spot-ups or rhythm pull-ups, is smooth and difficult to contest. He's shooting 68.1 percent inside the arc and 38.2 percent behind it.  

    He's also hit defenses with fluid drives and eurosteps through the lane. And though not particularly strong at 210 pounds, he's bringing in 11.4 boards per 40 minutes and showing a willingness to go after loose balls in traffic. 

    Even his defense has been impressive, particularly around the perimeter, where he's shown he can stay with smaller, faster ball-handlers.

    He's been quiet following his return from a hip flexor injury, totaling just 23 points over Florida State's last three games. But Isaac's upside will allow teams to look past his college production.

8. Philadelphia 76ers (via Lakers): Malik Monk (Kentucky, SG, 6'3", Freshman)

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    Malik Monk's 47-point shot-making clinic against North Carolina on Dec. 17 earned everyone's attention.

    He didn't even show off anything new—Monk instead confirmed his ability to catch fire and score in bunches with pull-ups, step-backs and jumpers off screens. 

    He still doesn't get to the basket much, having made just five shots at the rim in the half court all year, per Hoop-Math.com. And Monk only takes 2.6 free throws a game, compared to the 8.3 threes he launches up a night.

    Still, between his elite athleticism and microwave perimeter game, he'd clearly give the Philadelphia 76ers a much-needed boost of offense and firepower. For the Sixers, pairing Monk with Markelle Fultz sounds like an ideal outcome for the 2017 draft.

9. Sacramento Kings: De'Aaron Fox (Kentucky, PG, 6'3", Freshman)

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    One star point guard is bound to slip with a few top-10 teams already set at the position. If given the chance, the Sacramento Kings would likely pounce on De'Aaron Fox and the two-way playmaking he brings to the table. 

    Averaging 6.8 assists, Fox creates easy shots for teammates with his breakdown quickness in the half court and transition. His mix of speed and change-of-direction consistently leads to drive-and-kicks for open looks. 

    But he's also getting to and scoring at the basket, having already converted 48 shots at the rim through 12 games. Of those 48, 25 have come in the first 10 seconds of the shot clock, per Hoop-Math.com.

    Fox also collects 1.8 steals per game at the other end, where he projects as a defensive asset for his pressure and ability to force turnovers. 

    He's shown signs of perimeter shot-making with the pull-up and three-ball, but at this stage, shooting is the big differentiator between Fox (4-of-26 from three) and Frank Ntilikina ahead of him.

10. Denver Nuggets: Lauri Markkanen (Arizona, PF/C, 7'0", Freshman)

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    At No. 10, the Denver Nuggets add a stretch 4 in Lauri Markkanen—Arizona's 7-footer who's knocking down 2.1 threes a game at a 43.5 percent clip. 

    With a clean, effortless release, Markkanen's stroke looks like the real deal, though he's more than just a catch-and-shoot spot-up threat. He's flashed some ball-handling skills, plus the ability to separate and make pull-ups or step-backs off the dribble. 

    His inside-out versatility appears tailor-made for today's NBA. He'd challenge for top five in this draft if it wasn't for suspect defense and rebounding.

    Markkanen isn't physical around the basket, averaging just 9.1 boards per 40 minutes. And despite standing 7'0" with decent athleticism, he's only totaled nine blocks through 418 minutes.

    But the Nuggets have too many guards and wings, and no big man to consistently step out and space the floor beside Nikola Jokic. He's arguably the top prospect available and a fit for a team that already has depth across the board, including up front.

11. Orlando Magic: Ivan Rabb (California, PF/C, 6'11", Sophomore)

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    Ivan Rabb has been quiet, finishing with just one double-digit scoring performance over California's last five games. 

    California's guards haven't done the greatest job feeding him the ball, though Rabb has clearly been the focal point of opposing defenses.

    Despite the lack of touches, he's still working hard under the boards, and the team that drafts him should feel confident about Rabb's rebounding potential. 

    At the least, the Orlando Magic land a high-percentage finisher who cleans the glass and competes on defense. But Rabb's footwork and ball skills suggest there is still more offense for coaches to unlock. With post moves and mid-range touch, he's already hit the 25-point mark twice this season.

    In a strong draft, inconsistency as a sophomore will make it tough for Rabb to surge up boards. But once all the flashy names are taken, he'll stand out as a safe mid-round pick, even if he only contributes further to Orlando's frontcourt logjam.

12. Detroit Pistons: OG Anunoby (Indiana, SF, 6'8", Sophomore)

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    It hasn't been the breakout year many expected, but OG Anunoby's athleticism, defense and shooting potential remain intact. And there will always be NBA interest with that combination

    Between his quick feet and long arms, he guards three positions and provides defensive energy and playmaking. 

    Even without the ability to create his own shot, Anunoby is still averaging 19.7 points per 40 minutes on 60.3 percent shooting. He finds ways to pick up easy buckets without dribbling off cuts, line drives and spins. He thrives at the rim, particularly in transition, where he's 14-of-14, per Hoop-Math.com.

    If Anunoby can eventually give the Detroit Pistons regular three-point shooting, he likely justifies being picked this high.

13. Washington Wizards: Harry Giles III (Duke, PF, 6'10", Freshman)

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    Before Harry Giles III's debut against Tennessee State on Monday, he'd played just two full seasons since his freshman year of high school. Based on the 10 total minutes he's received through two games (0-of-3 FG) at Duke, Giles has a lot of catching up to do, which will be tough this deep into the season for a loaded team that's already winning. 

    Lack of production and reps, along with the three knee procedures, could weigh heavily on Giles' draft stock. The fact the field is so strong at the top won't help him either.

    Still, the long-term scouting lens sees 6'10" size, 7'3" length, quick feet, pre-injury bounce, offensive skills and a competitive edge. And if Giles can start making some plays off the bench, it could jump-start his confidence and reignite his development. 

    With needs in the front court, the Washington Wizards could decide Giles' upside is worth the risk in the mid-first round.

14. Milwaukee Bucks: Miles Bridges (Michigan State, SF/PF, 6'7", Freshman)

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    From Giannis Antetokounmpo to Thon Maker, the Milwaukee Bucks have shown a willingness to gamble on upside.

    Miles Bridges continues to miss time with an ankle injury, but his athleticism and versatility created enough intrigue before he went down. 

    His combination of power and bounce translate to routine easy buckets. An explosive leaper at 230 pounds, Bridges consistently makes plays at the rim as a finisher, putback dunker or shot-blocker. Flashes of perimeter scoring and shooting take Bridges into this year's lottery. 

    But he's still raw and unpolished (3.4 turnovers per game). 

    He must improve his handle to play the wing. And though he's shooting 38.5 percent from three, his 53.8 percent mark from the line is likely a more accurate reflection on his (shaky) touch.

15. Isaiah Hartenstein (Germany, PF, 6'11", 1998)

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    Isaiah Hartenstein needed the U18 European Championships after playing fewer than six minutes per game in five of Zalgiris' last seven.

    He finished the tournament with all first-team honors, averaging 14.7 points and 9.5 rebounds on 54.4 percent shooting. He even knocked down seven threes and showcased his advanced passing ability with 21 assists through six games. 

    Though he does most of his work around the basket, Hartenstein has some face-up ball skills and shooting range.

    He's still more of a project at both ends, particularly with his shot selection and defense. But Hartenstein's tools, mobility and offensive versatility will lead to first-round looks.

16. Atlanta Hawks: Robert Williams (Texas A&M, PF, 6'9", Freshman)

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    Robert Williams has converted a limited role into first-round buzz.

    The Atlanta Hawks should target him at No. 16 for his athleticism and 4.9 blocks per 40 minutes. Williams has a giant 7'4" wingspan, big hands, live motor and explosive leaping ability. But there is a lot more offensive upside for coaches to develop. 

    He scored 15 points against Arizona last Saturday, when he showed off his jump hook and mid-range touch. Rim protection, passing and bounce have catapulted Williams into this year's draft discussion, but the Hawks land a steal if he can continue building on his post game and jumper.

17. Chicago Bulls: Kostja Mushidi (Germany, SG, 6'5", 1998)

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    Kostja Mushidi had already been producing for Mega Leks in the Adriatic League. He just averaged 14.7 points and 3.8 assists at the U18 European Championships, and though he was far from perfect, his tools, versatility and defense continued to stand out. 

    At 6'5" with a strong upper body, Mushidi can handle the ball and change speeds. He'll need to do a better job of drawing fouls, but he's shown he can finish in different ways, even if the percentages disagree. 

    He's a confident and capable shooter—Mushidi just hasn't been consistent yet. He also gets a little wild with his shot selection and decision-making.

    Still, his strength, quickness, length and competitive edge bode well for his defensive upside. With an exciting offensive skill set in place, Mushidi is an appealing draft-and-stash play.

18. Indiana Pacers: TJ Leaf (UCLA, PF, 6'10", Freshman)

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    TJ Leaf won't get more athletic by coming back to UCLA. And as a sophomore, he'd have a tough time topping his current numbers—17.5 points, 9.2 rebounds and 2.8 assists on 65.5 percent shooting—particularly without Lonzo Ball, who'll go high in 2016. 

    But scouts believe Leaf is an NBA player, even without the explosiveness or muscle. He should strike in 2016, assuming he tests the waters and draws first-round interest.

    Leaf fits the mold of the NBA prototypical stretch 4, standing 6'10" with a three-ball (15-of-30) and ball-handling skills. Kentucky's stronger, quicker, bouncier front line had no answers for him on December 3 (17 points, 13 rebounds, five assists). 

    He doesn't jump out of the gym or overwhelm with power, but between his offensive versatility, energy, nose for the ball and feel for the game, Leaf can carve out an NBA career.

19. New York Knicks: Edrice "Bam" Adebayo (Kentucky, C, 6'10", Freshman)

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    With weights seemingly tied to Joakim Noah's feet, the New York Knicks could go after Bam Adebayo's athleticism. His strength and bounce continue to show around the basket, where he's throwing down lobs and finishing through defenders. 

    His job in the pros isn't likely to be much different from his role at Kentucky, where he's valued for his rim running, rebounding motor and scoring right at the rack. His athleticism should translate to easy buckets, second-chance points and the occasional blocked shot.

    We've seen jump hooks and 12-foot jumpers in flashes, but unless his skills improve dramatically, Adebayo projects more as an off-ball energizer than post option.

20. Charlotte Hornets: Justin Patton (Creighton, C, 7'0", Freshman)

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    It's getting harder to keep ignoring redshirt freshman Justin Patton. A 7-footer with bounce, ball skills and footwork, he's shooting 76.2 percent while averaging 12.3 points in 24 minutes per game. 

    He's beating teams down the floor and shaking them in the half court, where he's flashed post moves both facing up and back-to-the-baset, as well as shooting touch out to the arc (4-of-6 from three). 

    His 10 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per 40 minutes reflect lack of strength and defensive presence inside. But Patton's size, athleticism and budding inside-out game are becoming too much. He'll have the chance to either return as a breakout sophomore or declare early and sell teams on his efficiency and potential.

21. Brooklyn Nets (via Celtics): Hamidou Diallo

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    Draft eligible, having graduated high school last June, Hamidou Diallo has suddenly emerged as a name for teams to think about.

    A consensus top-15 recruit (Rivals, Scout, ESPN) in the 2017 class, Diallo is reportedly considering attending Connecticut second semester, according to 247 Sports' Jerry Meyer, which would likely signal a desire to declare for the draft this June. 

    Diallo is still rough around the edges. Raw with a motor that's been questioned, it's possible some teams won't have him top 50. But his obvious talent is bound to get at least one first-round general manager to bite.

    Athleticism buys his skills and maturity some time. Diallo puts pressure on the defense with explosiveness in transition and the drive-and-slash game. Huge upside kicks in if he improves his handle and shooting.

22. Oklahoma City Thunder: Terrance Ferguson (Adelaide 36ers, SF, 6'7", 1998)

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    Chasing a wing, the Oklahoma City Thunder can look to Australia's National Basketball League.

    Terrance Ferguson, 18 years old, has earned a role with the 10-6 Adelaide 36ers. And though the production hasn't been there (5.5 points per game), Ferguson has held his own, shooting 36.6 percent from three in 17.5 minutes a game. 

    For what it's worth, he looks like he belongs, based on his tools, shot-making and confidence. He's playing the right way, taking what the defense gives him within the offense. 

    It would be nice to see a little more ball-handling and creating (14 assists through 16 games), though.

    Co-MVP of the 2016 Nike Hoop Summit after sinking seven three-pointers, Ferguson's shooting and athleticism for a 6'7" wing should keep him alive in the first-round discussion that's light on such players, even if he fades quietly down the stretch.

23. Utah Jazz: Omer Yurtseven (North Carolina State, C, 6'11", Freshman)

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    Omer Yurtseven has looked comfortable through three games after missing the first nine to suspension

    He's scored 28 points on 21 shots so far, showing touch around the basket and perimeter, where he's also knocking down jumpers.

    Yurtseven doesn't jump out as tough or physical, which limits him in the rebounding and interior defense departments. But he'll draw first-round interest for his size, mobility and a skill set that highlights back-to-the-basket moves and jump-shooting.

24. Denver Nuggets (via Grizzlies): Johnathan Motley (Baylor, PF, 6'9", Junior)

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    A breakout year could earn Johnathan Motley first-round looks for his athleticism and versatility, which has suddenly expanded. He's improved his ball-handling, making him a tougher cover in face-up situations. 

    Motley has flashed the touch to knock down mid-range jumpers, but now he can put it on the deck and blow by off the bounce. 

    His post game is still one of the best among this year's bigs, and he's rebounding at a great rate (12 per 40 minutes), particularly at the offensive end (14 percent offensive rebounding percentage, per Sports-Reference.com).

25. Toronto Raptors: Tyler Lydon (Syracuse, PF, 6'9", Sophomore)

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    Tyler Lydon stretches the floor, picks up dunks/putbacks at the rim and occasionally scores playing back-to-the-basket. But he looks like exactly the same player from last year.

    Shooting over 40 percent from deep for the second season, his three-ball and athleticism should draw first-round interest nonetheless. 

    Poor rebounding numbers (9.7 per 40 minutes) and limited one-on-one skills hold his ceiling in check because he's not a creator or a tough player inside. And if his jumper isn't falling, he doesn't serve much of a purpose. 

    The fact Syracuse is struggling to win games doesn't help Lydon's stock either. The best performance of his career (29 points) was overshadowed by another loss, this one to Georgetown last Saturday.

26. Toronto Raptors (via Clippers): Marques Bolden (Duke, C, 6'11", Freshman)

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    Marques Bolden hasn't convinced coach Mike Krzyzewski to play him big minutes, having finished with fewer than seven in three of Duke's last four games. It will be even harder for Bolden to sell scouts on his potential without having many reps or any production to show for it.

    Tremendous physical tools—6'11", 245-pound size, 7'6" length—will keep him afloat in the first-round discussion, however. He's powerful, yet also nimble on the block, and can separate into over-the-shoulder looks or crash the glass for second-chance points. 

    But Bolden's skills are limited—he's still raw and doesn't shoot from outside the paint. And though strong and long, he hasn't jumped out as an impact rim protector.

    Given the direction of the league—teams now want their bigs to stretch the floor and be able to switch—Bolden's value could take a hit.

27. Houston Rockets: Luke Kennard (Duke, SG, 6'6", Sophomore)

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    Luke Kennard's transformation becomes easier to buy with each week. Highly skilled, he's consistently punishing defenses with his handle and shot-making.

    A 42.7 percent three-point mark and 87.9 percent clip from the line power his terrific 65.4 percent true shooting percentage, per Sports-Reference.com. Kennard has a sweet stroke, both off the catch and the dribble.

    More than just a spot-up threat, he can put the ball on the floor and make plays as a scorer or playmaker. Along with the 20.4 points per game, his 2.8 assists reflect vision on the move, which helps compensate for limited breakdown quickness.

    He isn't overly strong, athletic or fast, and he'll likely struggle to defend in a full-time NBA role. But it's not crazy to think a late-first-round team falls for Kennard's jumper, polish, basketball IQ and confidence.

28. Cleveland Cavaliers: Josh Hart (Villanova, SG, 6'6", Senior)

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    Josh Hart has improved in all the right areas after testing the draft waters following his junior year. He's become a whole lot deadlier from behind the arc, making 2.2 threes per game at a 43.3 percent clip. And he's taken his ball skills, scoring and playmaking ability to new heights, averaging 20.1 points and 3.7 assists.

    Hart unloaded on Notre Dame with 37 points in a complete showcase on December 10 that saw him hit three of four triples and 14 of 14 free throws.

    He's become a more complete player and confident leader for the country's No. 1-ranked team. A strong National Player of the Year candidate and a young senior at 21 years old, Hart is playing himself into fringe-first-round territory.

29. San Antonio Spurs: Jaron Blossomgame (Clemson, SF/PF, 6'7", Senior)

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    The Clemson Tigers, who are 9-2 and coming off a road win at South Carolina on Wednesday, haven't needed or attempted to lean on their star player. With five teammates averaging at least nine points a game, Jaron Blossomgame's decline in production isn't a reflection on his effectiveness. 

    He's still averaging 17.1 points and scoring efficiently inside the arc (58.2 percent) off drives, cuts and post-ups. His current role may actually better prepare him for the pros, where he won't be featured and must learn to fit in.  

    A bad shooting slump to start the year won't help his stock—Blossomgame has missed 29 of his first 35 three-point attempts. And if there was one thing he needed to do, it was prove last year's 44.6 percent mark from deep wasn't fluky.

    He'll still draw interest for his defensive tools, explosiveness and scoring versatility. In the right fit, Blossomgame has steal potential if his jumper ever comes around, though he'll turn 24 years old in September.

30. Utah Jazz (via Warriors): Alec Peters (Valparaiso, PF, 6'9", Senior)

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    Alec Peters just keeps on scoring, having combined for 64 points over Valparaiso's last two games. His 26.4 points per game rank second in the country.

    He's gotten here without reliable three-point shootinga tribute to his improved scoring inside the arc—though he should have a number of 30-point explosions up his sleeve during conference play once his jumper starts connecting. 

    Peters shot at least 44 percent from deep and 80 percent from the line as a sophomore and junior. Now the focal point of opposing game plans, his accuracy is down early, but there isn't any doubting his shooting potential and credibility. 

    He's a below-average athlete, but Peters will still draw late first-round interest for his shot-making and offensive polish.

    Stats accurate as of December 23, 2016. All quotes obtained firsthand unless noted otherwise.