NBA Draft 2017: Stock Watch on Who's Rising and Falling

Jonathan Wasserman@@NBADraftWassNBA Lead WriterFebruary 17, 2017

NBA Draft 2017: Stock Watch on Who's Rising and Falling

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    January and February have been big months for a number of prospects looking to improve their NBA draft stock.

    Many have risen from off the radar into the first-round conversation. There are also a few high-profile names starting to fade and lose ground. But for the most part, we've seen more risers who've helped strengthen their cases and the projected 2017 field as a whole.

    The needle is moving for the following, alphabetically listed names with only three weeks to go until postseason play.

Jordan Bell (Oregon, PF, Junior)

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    Steve Dykes/Getty Images

    Stock Report: Quietly trending toward fringe first-round status

    Draft ceiling: Late first round

    Current status: Second-rounder

    While Dillon Brooks absorbs most of the attention at Oregon, Jordan Bell has quietly built the more convincing NBA draft case. 

    Teams won't look at Bell for offense, but scoring upside holds less weight late in the first round; General managers are searching for bodies to fill their rotations and contribute on cheap rookie deals. And Bell has used this year to strengthen his image as a potential energizer.

    Per-40-minute averages of 11.7 boards, three blocks and 1.9 steals—along with a 9.1 defensive plus/minus, good for No. 5 in the country—stand out as statistical selling points. 

    An explosive leaper, Bell impacts games by running, jumping and making plays on the ball at the rim. Given his exciting athleticism and motor, you get the impression those easy buckets, rebounds and defensive toughness can translate in a specialty role.

    Assuming he can convince teams he's threatening enough as a mid-range shooter—he's made 48.9 percent of his two-point jumpers and 68.9 percent of his free throws, up from 51.9 percent—GMs may determine Bell brings just enough offense to support the off-ball activity. 

Marques Bolden (Duke, C, Freshman)

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    Grant Halverson/Getty Images

    Stock Report: Plummeting 

    Draft ceiling: Late first round

    Current status: Second-rounder

    Projected as a potential top-10 pick over the summer by ESPN's Fran Fraschilla, Marques Bolden has completely fallen out of Duke's rotation and the 2017 draft discussion in general. 

    Averaging 1.8 points and having totaled just four points over Duke's last six games, it seems impossible to think a first-round team would use a pick on Bolden this June.

    A preseason injury and deep Duke roster haven't helped, but they don't change the fact he's shown almost nothing to scouts with March just two weeks away. 

    He's looked too raw and stiff for a one-dimensional center who doesn't shoot outside the paint or protect the rim at a notable level. Even with a bigger role as a sophomore, Bolden may have trouble restoring his credibility as a first-round talent for today's NBA.

John Collins (Wake Forest, PF, Sophomore)

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    Chet Strange/Getty Images

    Stock Report: Blowing up 

    Draft ceiling: Late lottery

    Current status: Mid-to-late first-rounder

    Nine straight 20-plus-point games has catapulted John Collins from an unknown to the coveted. 

    He's doing it with relatively limited playing time, too (25.5 MPG). Per 40 minutes, Collins' productivity is off the charts: 29 points, 14.8 boards and 2.7 blocks (on 61.4 percent shooting). 

    Exciting athleticism helps back up the numbers when assessing his NBA potential. He's the nation's leader in player efficiency rating and passes the eye test with 6'10", 225-pound size and plenty of bounce around the rim.

    Though not quite polished with advanced ball skills or post moves, he's still scoring in volume thanks to high off-ball activity as a rim runner, cutter and putback finisher on the glass. His 16.3 offensive rebounding percentage ranks top 10 in the nation. 

    He's consistently beating opponents down the floor or backdoor for lobs. In doses, we've also seen mid-range touch and believable shot-making with face-up rise-and-fire jumpers and fallaways. 

    Still rough around the edges and looking uncomfortable at times when forced to create his own shot, Collins is seemingly playing off natural ability. NBA teams may even find that appealing, given the room for growth it suggests and the fact he's dominating at his baseline level. 

Justin Jackson (North Carolina, SF, Junior)

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    Lance King/Getty Images

    Stock Report: Gaining credibility 

    Draft ceiling: Mid-first round

    Current status: Late first round

    Justin Jackson is having the season scouts have been waiting on. Averaging 18.5 points, up from 12.2, it's clicked in Year 3 for the former McDonald's All-American.

    Shooting has been the difference; Jackson's release looks smooth and his confidence sky-high. He's already sunk more threes (70) than he did as a sophomore (35) and freshman (28) combined. 

    He's also taken his shot-creating skills to another level, becoming more of a threat to separate one-on-one into pull-ups and floaters. Compared to last yearwhen 40 percent of his two-point jumpers were assistedonly 28.6 percent have been off dimes in 2016-17. 

    Jackson also has an underrated knack for scoring in transition, something he does better than higher-rated small forward prospects. With exceptional body control, he's converted 33-of-38 (86.8 percent) shots at the rim during the first 10 seconds of a shot clock. By comparison, Kansas' Josh Jackson is 29-of-42 (69 percent), Florida State's Jonathan Isaac is 12-of-18 (66.7 percent) and Duke's Jayson Tatum is just 13-of-25 (52 percent).

    Jackson had initially established himself as a high-IQ player and passerimportant traits for a potential role player. An improved three-ball and off-the-dribble game, as well as his scoring proficiency in the open floor, suddenly look like enough to earn Jackson first-round looks this June. 

Donovan Mitchell (Louisville, SG, Sophomore)

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    Rich Barnes/Getty Images

    Stock Report: Entering first-round picture 

    Draft ceiling: Mid-first round

    Current status: Fringe first-rounder

    Donovan Mitchell's athleticism had always drawn attention, but now he's converting it to interest by leading the top-10 Louisville Cardinals in scoring. 

    Mitchell's skills have made significant strides toward matching his signature explosiveness. He now ranks No. 6 nationally in box-score plus/minus, averaging 15.2 points and 2.2 three-point makes per game. 

    With 58 threes, he's more than tripled last year's total (18), a significant development given his limited size (6'3") and point guard skills (2.8 assists per 40 minutes). Mitchell has taken over stretches of games lately with microwave offense in the form of shooting, pull-up scoring and slashing. 

    He just did it during a road win at Syracuse on Monday with 11 late points in crunch time. 

    Mitchell's game took off December 31 with a 25-point showing against Indiana. Since then, we've seen him pour 20 on both Notre Dame and Georgia Tech, 29 on Pittsburgh and 28 on North Carolina State.

    At the least, he's positioned himself to be potentially viewed as a bench spark who can generate offense in spurts. The fact that he's strong, quick and averages 2.2 steals per game bodes positively for his defensive outlook as well, another key selling point.

    He'll have the chance to strengthen his case further by carrying Louisville to wins in March or April.

Ivan Rabb (California, PF/C, Sophomore)

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    Chris Coduto/Getty Images

    Stock Report: Stagnant

    Draft ceiling: Late lottery 

    Current status: Mid-first round, but vulnerable 

    With higher expectations for his second season and a number of athletic bigs having breakout seasons, Ivan Rabb suddenly looks vulnerable on draft boards. 

    Scoring at relatively the same rate (17.9 points per 40 minutes) as last year (17.5 points per 40), despite seeing his usage rise to 24 percent (from 20), Rabb hasn't dominated in a go-to role as much as scouts were hoping he would. He's starting to lose some luster coming off a season-low four points in a loss to Arizona on Saturday.

    With John Collins now a routine 20-point scorer, Robert Williams shining defensively and Creighton's Justin Patton flashing eye-opening inside-out versatility, there are other exciting big men who've entered the picture for first-round teams. 

    Rabb still rebounds at a terrific rate (12.9 per 40 minutes), and he commands an excessive amount of attention from opposing defenses. But the inability to stretch the floor, protect the rim (1.5 blocks per 40 minutes) or guard the perimeter are major negatives in today's NBA. 

Caleb Swanigan (Purdue, PF/C, Sophomore)

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    Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

    Stock Report: Gaining credibility  

    Draft ceiling: Mid-to-late first round

    Current status: Fringe first round

    At some point, Caleb Swanigan's production becomes too alluring, even if his flaws appear permanent. To a degree, he's making it easier for scouts to overlook his athletic limitations, which cloud his offensive upside and defensive outlook (0.5 steals, 1.0 blocks per 40 minutes).

    Considered undraftable in 2016, Swanigan returned for his sophomore year at Purdue, where he's now averaging 18.7 points (up from 10.2) and ranks second in the nation in rebounds per game (13.0).

    A 271-pound center at the 2015 Nike Hoop SummitSwanigan has shed plenty of weight since (down to 247 lbs) but still remains a handful around the basket, where he uses his base to seal off opponents and strength to move them. Given his elite numbers (23.6 rebounding percentage), size, 7'3 ½" wingspan and instincts, there is some hope that Swanigan can always at least pan out as an NBA rebounding specialist. 

    His arrival into the first-round discussion is mostly due to a drastically improved jumpera must-have weapon considering Swanigan's limited explosiveness around the basket. He's hit 28 threes at a 47.5 percent clip and 77.7 percent of his 157 free-throw attempts. 

    His conditioning looks better as well—Swanigan has already totaled 24 field goals in transition after making 23 all last season.

    Throw in polished (though basic) post skills, including strong back-to-the-basket footwork, over-the-shoulder touch and passing ability (2.7 assists per game), and there are suddenly a number of reasons to buy in to Swanigan's chances of carving out a role. 

Robert Williams (Texas A&M, PF/C, Freshman)

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    Ron Irby/Associated Press

    Stock Report: Trending upward

    Draft ceiling: Late lottery 

    Current status: First round 

    Coming off three straight games of 18 points, Robert Williams is flashing signs of offense that suggest his ceiling may be higher than originally anticipated. 

    He'd already come out of nowhere to find the radar earlier in the season.

    Williams started turning heads before conference play with explosiveness, length and defense. He's blocking 4.2 shots per 40 minutes, and not just around the basket. Williams has swatted 32 two-point jumpers and seven three-point attempts, highlighting his ability to cover ground and challenge around the perimeter.

    He's recently looking more comfortable shooting in the mid-range, particularly against Florida on Saturday. Though not a polished post scorer or shot-creator, he's shown he can awkwardly convert one-handers over his man on the block.

    Williams' appeal still stems from his 7'4" wingspan, destructive athleticism and defensive potential. But the scoring production in February may hint at untapped offensive potential. Though his draft range is wide, consider Williams a possible top-10 sleeper.

Omer Yurtseven (North Carolina State, C, Freshman)

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    Lance King/Getty Images

    Stock Report: Slipping 

    Draft ceiling: Late first round

    Current status: Second-rounder

    There was genuine excitement over Omer Yurtseven's debut with North Carolina State.

    It's faded quickly, however. 

    His scoreless effort against North Carolina on Wednesday was his second over the past month (the first was against Duke on January 23). Yurtseven doesn't compensate with strong tools or athleticism. He's overly raw offensively, bringing no intimidation factor to the Wolfpack's interior, where he registers a poor 13.1 rebounding percentage and 3.9 block percentage.

    Size (7'0", 245 lbs), mobility and some outside shooting touch won't save him. He seems too far behind for the 2017 draft, both fundamentally and physically. 

    At this point, he doesn't appear to offer enough upside for teams to justify reaching with a first-round pick and waiting on his development. Expect Yurtseven to try to revitalize his stock by returning as a sophomore. 

    Stats accurate heading into Thursday's games and are via and unless otherwise noted. All height and weight information via DraftExpress or school bios unless otherwise noted.

    Jonathan Wasserman covers the NBA draft for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter: @NBADraftWass