NBA Draft 2017: Updated Big Board After National Championship Game

Jonathan Wasserman@@NBADraftWassNBA Lead WriterApril 4, 2017

NBA Draft 2017: Updated Big Board After National Championship Game

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    The completion of the NCAA tournament officially signals the start of 2017 NBA draft season. 

    Overall, lottery teams should feel good about their options. Our top 14 consists of at least one exciting prospect from every position.

    The storyline come draft night will still revolve around the point guards and whether teams already with floor generals will consider taking another.

    Our big board looks different than it did after the first week of March Madness, starting at No. 2. 

No. 50-No. 46

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    50. Devonte' Graham (Kansas, PG, Junior)

    Graham was on fire prior to the Elite 8, having combined for 13 threes over Kansas' first three games, and then shot 0-of-7 from the field against Oregon. He's still worth a look for his confident shot-making, ball-handling and peskiness on defense.

    49. Dillon Brooks (Oregon, SF, Junior)

    Despite Oregon's run, Brooks struggled in the tournament, especially against North Carolina in the Final Four, where he finished 2-of-11 with five turnovers before fouling out. His scoring attack, toughness and production make him worth considering, but the athletic limitations will keep him from earning first-round interest.

    48. Chimezie Metu (USC, PF, Sophomore)

    The Pac-12's Most Improved Player, Metu's offensive game looked sharper, from his post moves to his mid-range jumper. The tools and skill set say NBA player. Metu still needs more polish without the strength to play through contact or dominate inside.

    47. Grayson Allen (Duke, SG, Junior)

    Allen finished strong with two 20-point games in the NCAA tournament. He'll look to make a name for himself in the pros playing the same offensive spark role he played for Duke. Fans may be disappointed by his falling shooting percentages, but he actually made more threes per 40 minutes (3.2) and raised his assist rate to 21.5 percent.

    46. Cameron Oliver (Nevada, PF, Sophomore)

    The NBA-friendly mix of shooting and rim protection gives Oliver second-round steal potential. He averaged 1.9 threes and 2.6 blocks, though his two-point scoring didn't show much improvement from one year to the next.

No. 45-No. 41

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    No. 45: Sindarius Thornwell (South Carolina, SG, Senior)

    Arguably the NCAA tournament's best player through four rounds, Thornwell put himself in the 2017 draft discussion. Physical inside the arc and much improved behind it, he'll have to prove he's explosive enough to finish and quick enough to beat defenders off the bounce.

    No. 44: Alec Peters (Valparaiso, PF, Senior)

    A leg injury ended Peters' senior year early, but after sinking 289 career threes, he'd already established shot-making credibility. A below-average athlete, he'll need his jumper to carry him as a shooting specialist in the pros.

    No. 43: Jaron Blossomgame (Clemson, SF, Senior)

    Blossomgame has become an interesting buy-low candidate after a down year shooting from three. His tools, two-point scoring and defensive versatility are all selling points. After making 44.6 of his threes as a junior, it's worth using an early second-round pick to see if Blossomgame's jumper can improve.

    No. 42: D.J. Wilson (Michigan, SF/PF, Junior)

    Wilson turned heads in the postseason with his ball-handling, shooting and shot-blocking. He still isn't great in any one area, though. He'll stick if he can hold his own physically and prove his 41 threes weren't fluky.

    No. 41: Anzejs Pasecniks (Latvia, C, 1995)

    Pasecniks started the last two games for Herbalife Gran Canaria and continues to flash glimpses that make him worth tracking. His mobility and hands for a 7'2" center are behind his production and potential, but the eight threes he's hit this year are equally as intriguing. 

No. 40-No. 36

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    40. Devin Robinson (Florida, SF/PF, Junior)

    Robinson's eye-test results look more promising than the stats. He hasn't improved much as a scorer, but for an athletic, 6'9" forward, he could be a capable three-ball away from becoming a potential three-and-D NBA combo forward. 

    39 Allonzo Trier (Arizona, SG, Sophomore)

    Trier was streaky in the NCAA tournament when Arizona needed him to be more efficient. He's a versatile scorer but has to show he can make plays within an offense as a third, fourth or fifth option. The improved playmaking (2.7 assists per game) helps Trier's chances in the draft and NBA. 

    38. Josh Hart (Villanova, SG, Senior)

    Hart improved as a scorer, but if he's going to take off in the pros, he'll need the 40.4 percent three-point mark to carry over. His path toward NBA success will mirror Milwaukee Bucks rookie Malcolm Brogdon's. 

    37. Wesley Iwundu (Kansas State, SF, Senior)

    Iwundu's athleticism, NBA tools and two-way versatility make him unique. He's not a scorer, but with the ability to facilitate (3.5 assists per game) and defend, he brings two valued strengths to the table. An improved jumper makes him draftable, but after four seasons, a career-high 32 threes still isn't overly encouraging. 

    36. Jordan Bell (Oregon, PF, Junior)

    Bell made a name for himself in the NCAA tournament with his activity and shot-blocking. He brings nothing offensively and lacks size and strength for an NBA center. But his athleticism, nose for the ball and motor are still worth looking into for a team that needs an energizer. 

No. 35-No. 31

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    35. Edmond Sumner (Xavier, PG, Sophomore)

    An ACL tear and ugly jumper raise questions and make Sumner a hit-or-miss prospect in the draft. Still, 6'5" size for a ball-handler and explosive athleticism create first-round upside. To meet it, however, he'll need to fully recover and improve his pull-up jumper.

    34. Jawun Evans (Oklahoma State, PG, Sophomore)

    With 23 points, 12 assists and seven rebounds, Evans was impressive during Oklahoma State's final game against Michigan. He plays below the rim and relies mostly on getting to the basket, but his ability to break down defenses, create shots and set the table could work in a backup role.

    33. Bam Adebayo (Kentucky, PF/C, Freshman)

    Though a finishing force at the rim, Adebayo was a below-average rebounder (14.2 percent) and shot-blocker (4.9 percent), which are concerns for a limited scorer. Unless he develops into a reliable post option, he'll need to hang his hat on easy baskets, pick-and-roll defense and energy plays at the rim. 

    32. Kostja Mushidi (Germany, SG, 1998)

    One of the more high-profile names to watch at the 2017 Nike Hoop Summit, Mushidi can strengthen his case after an up-and-down season with Mega Leks. He was productive but also inefficient, showing a lack of polish as a shooter and decision-maker. Athleticism, tools and two-way versatility make him worth tracking, particularly since he's still 18 years old. 

    31. Caleb Swanigan (Purdue, PF, Sophomore)

    Swanigan's 22.5 rebounding percentage is tops among 2017 draft prospects. But rebounding alone won't be enough for a big who doesn't protect the rim or defend the perimeter well. Limited explosiveness puts pressure on Swanigan to continue improving as a shooter (38 threes). He becomes a steal if his newfound three-ball proves to be legitimate. 

No. 30-No. 26

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    30. Ivan Rabb (California, PF/C, Sophomore)

    Without the ability to protect the rim, defend the perimeter or stretch the floor, Rabb could slip into the second round. His tools and post skills are still strong, and his rebounding remains a big plus. Becoming a reliable mid-range shooter helps maximize his chances of sticking and contributing. 

    29. Mathias Lessort (France, PF/C, 1995)

    With a third 20-point game over Nanterre's last six, Lessort is becoming more interesting by the week. A high-motor big with 6'9", 250-pound size, he's racking up production by running the floor, driving to the rim and putting pressure on the glass. There is an energy role waiting for Lessort somewhere. 

    28. Johnathan Motley (Baylor, PF, Junior)

    Motley's rebounding (14.8 percent to 19.2 percent) and passing (9.1 percent to 17.3 percent) showed the most improvement this year. He didn't add anything new to his offensive game, though. Motley's upside is limited, but his inside scoring, mid-range shooting and rebounding should help him stick.

    27. Tyler Lydon (Syracuse, PF, Sophomore)

    Lydon didn't add much as a shot-creator or scorer, but his shooting potential remains intact. He knocked down over 39 percent of his threes for the second straight season and should draw interest for his ability to stretch the floor and play above the rim. He'd be ranked higher had he improved as a playmaker and rebounder.

    26. OG Anunoby (Indiana, SF, Sophomore)

    No offensive improvement plus a season-ending knee injury make Anunoby a risky top-20 play. At full strength, he'll lean on defensive versatility to drive his value. His combination of quick feet and length are tough to beat. Developing a reliable three-point shot is the key to Anunoby becoming a full-time player.

No. 25-No. 21

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    25. Ike Anigbogu (UCLA, C, Freshman)

    Anigbogu didn't show any offensive game his freshman year, but that's not what NBA teams will ask him to bring. Having shot 56.4 percent and averaged 3.7 blocks and 12.4 rebounds per 40 minutes, Anigbogu's calling card will be finishing, rim protection and second-chance points. The 6'10" size, 250-pound frame, long arms and athleticism suggest his inside presence will translate. 

    24. Terrance Ferguson (Adelaide 36ers, SF, 1998)

    Ranking Ferguson in the top 20 means putting more stock into his high school film and overlooking his quiet season in Australia's National Basketball League. His shooting stroke, athleticism and 6'7" size create three-and-D potential, even if he never develops his shot-creating or playmaking skills.

    23. Semi Ojeleye (SMU, PF, Junior)

    Ojeleye came out of nowhere to rise into the top 30 after playing just 41 total games since 2013-14. Defense won't be a strength, but for an athletic, 235-pounder projected to play small-ball 4, his 42.4 percent three-point stroke and face-up scoring ability are compelling.


    22. Harry Giles III (Duke, PF, Freshman)

    Three knee surgeries and 3.9 points per game make it difficult to buy Giles as a top-20 prospect. But at some point, it's worth betting on his explosiveness returning and the development of his offensive game. In his small role, he was efficient, having shot 57.7 percent and pulled down 13.3 rebounds per 40 minutes. At the least, assuming he can stay healthy, he's an energy big who finishes and crashes the offensive glass.

    21. Rodions Kurucs (Latvia, SF, 1998)

    Recently promoted to Barcelona's senior team, Kurucs has had a strong 2017 in Spain's second division after suffering a knee injury early in the season. Athletic with 6'9" size, scoring ability and shooting range, he's one of Europe's top young prospects and a draft-and-stash option for a team in the mid-to-late first round.

20. TJ Leaf (UCLA, PF, Freshman)

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    TJ Leaf surprised this year by efficiently scoring in volume despite lacking quickness, explosiveness or strength around the basket.

    Those physical limitations work against his upside and defensive potential, but offensively, his skill level and scoring instincts make it easier to overlook his flaws.

    Leaf finished the season with a second big game against Kentucky, this one in the Sweet 16, when he went for 17 points and seven rebounds. For a power forward, his shooting stroke (27-of-58 from three) and playmaking ability (2.4 assists per game) match what today's NBA coaches are looking for.

    He'll struggle to guard or rebound against full-time bigs, but Leaf's shot-making, passing and energy should still work in a smaller, offensive-minded bench role.

19. John Collins (Wake Forest, PF, Sophomore)

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    John Collins pounded opposing front lines all season, and, given his tools and athleticism, there isn't any reason to think he can't continue scoring inside and rebounding.

    Defense is another story and a possible weakness that limits his value. But Collins, who averaged 19.2 points and 9.8 boards in just 26.6 minutes, flashed strong offensive instincts, hands and coordination at the basket. And after making 74.5 percent of his free throws and 44.8 percent of his two-point jumpers, per Hoop-Math, he also projects as a threatening pick-and-pop or drive-and-kick target in the mid-range.

    Limited perimeter skills and defensive awareness suggest his ceiling only goes so high, though. Collins will likely slide into the pros and stick as a backup power forward.

18. Luke Kennard (Duke, SG, Sophomore)

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    Athletic and defensive limitations work against Luke Kennard, but he's an intriguing candidate to overcome them with crafty footwork and basketball IQ.

    Kennard found unique ways to separate all season and showed the ability to score with improvisation. Even if his 19.5 points per game and volume scoring don't translate, his shot-making should keep him afloat. Kennard, who's 6'6" and skilled, knocked down 43.8 percent of his 201 three-point attempts. 

    There are questions concerning his potential to defend starting guards, get his shot off cleanly and finish at the rim. But between his shooting, passing, sneakiness and competitive edge, there are enough reasons to think Kennard can stick in an offensive-minded supporting role.

17. Justin Jackson (North Carolina, SF, Junior)

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    Justin Jackson couldn't connect in the national title game. More importantly, he struggled to create his own shot, a weakness that still makes the scouting report after three years. But the off night won't negate a tremendous breakout season that saw Jackson average 18.3 points and hit 105 three-pointers.

    Though he has trouble separating with the ball in one-on-one situations, he's active and effective without it, using screens to free himself up and knock down jumpers or floaters off curls. 

    Jackson improved on defense as well, something that stood out against Kentucky in the Sweet 16, when he helped hold Malik Monk to 12 points. 

16. Jarrett Allen (Texas, C, Freshman)

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    Jarrett Allen quietly went from promising long-term prospect to one-and-done lottery option as the season progressed. 

    Showing more offensive game and confidence, he averaged 16.2 points, 9.8 rebounds and 1.7 blocks during conference play. Allen isn't flashy, but he gets the job done scoring over the shoulder, and he's emerged as a threatening mid-range shooter.

    Still on the raw side, Allen isn't an advanced shot-creator or explosive leaper. But his mobility and giant 7'5 ½'" wingspan should serve him well as a finisher, rim protector and pick-and-roll defender. 

    Consider Allen a high-floor, low-ceiling prospect and an attractive, safer play once all the high-upside options are taken.

15. Donovan Mitchell (Louisville, SG, Sophomore)

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    Donovan Mitchell took his shot-making to another level this year, and he's become a lot easier to buy as a future NBA guard. 

    Quick and highly explosive, Mitchell always had the athleticism, but now he's developed the perimeter scoring, having hit 80 threes, up from 18 his freshman season. The improved shooting should help Mitchell compensate for 6'3" size and limited playmaking. 

    Between the weaknesses and his ability to generate offense in bunches, he fits the description as more of a sixth man-type bench spark. 

14. Justin Patton (Creighton, C, Freshman)

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    Justin Patton flashed enough promise and potential to buy himself margin for error. He became a lot quieter once Creighton point guard Maurice Watson went down with a season-ending injury. But with 6'11" size, exciting athleticism and developing inside-out skills, inconsistency at 19 years old isn't a deal-breaker. 

    He showed the ability to create high-percentage shots in the post using footwork and length. His eight three-point makes highlight shooting range, and, though not quite a perimeter player, he looked comfortable putting the ball on the floor and making a simple play off the dribble. 

    Patton needs a year in the Development League to build up his reps and body. He struggled with contact and got moved too easily under the boards. But his tools, mobility, bounce and scoring versatility form an enticing package. For a team looking to go big, Patton looks like an intriguing boom-or-bust option worth gambling on in the late lottery.

13. Zach Collins (Gonzaga, C, Freshman)

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    Zach Colllins should have made himself some money in the Final Four with a 14-point, 13-rebound, six-block effort against South Carolina before giving scouts more flashes in the championship game.

    Fouls limited him against North Carolina, but we still saw his hook shot, quick jump and shot-blocking.

    Collins has NBA-center size, mobile feet and soft hands, and he's flashed promising touch on his mid-range jumper and free throws (74.3 percent). Returning to strengthen his body and one-on-one game makes sense, but assuming there is strong first-round interest already, it wouldn't be surprising to see Collins leave now.

12. Isaiah Hartenstein (Germany, PF, 1998)

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    Playing just 12.1 minutes per game with Zalgiris, the opportunity to make a convincing NBA pitch hasn't been there for Isaiah Hartenstein.

    He'll have his chance to strengthen his case during the Nike Hoop Summit practices and main event on April 7. Athletic with 7'1" size and unique perimeter skills, Hartenstein checks the boxes today's NBA big men need to check.

    He's flashed promising defensive foot speed, along with shooting range, passing and ball-handling ability.

    Still 18 years old, Hartenstein should move the needle for himself by taking it to the USA's top high school seniors in Portland. 

11. Lauri Markkanen (Arizona, PF/C, Freshman)

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    Lauri Markkanen made a strong case to be viewed as the 2017 draft's top shooter—an intriguing label for a 7-footer. 

    He cooled off the final month and still finished at 42.3 percent from three on 163 attempts. 

    Markkanen's smooth stroke and elite numbers seem likely to carry over. The question is how much of his two-point scoring will translate, given his lack of explosiveness and strength around the basket. 

    For a big man, his 1.8 block percentage is alarmingly low, and the inability to offer any rim protection damages his overall value. There is still enough value tied to his shot-making and offensive upside to justify taking him late in the lottery.

10. Miles Bridges (Michigan State, PF, Freshman)

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    Miles Bridges ended on a high note in spite of Michigan State's loss to Kansas in the Round of 32. 

    He impressed with 22 points against Josh Jackson, showing off his range, scoring improvisation and explosiveness around the rim. 

    Bridges finished the year averaging 16.9 points, shooting 38.9 percent from three, though a 68.5 percent free-throw mark raises some doubt over his long-range accuracy.

    Still, he showed enough shot-making ability with 56 made threes. And he sold his defense as a potential strength, between his shot-blocking (1.5 per game) and ability to slide around the perimeter.

    There are questions concerning his fit—whether he has the skill to play the 3 or size to match up with power forwards. But a now positionless NBA should make these concerns less daunting in the late lottery.

9. Frank Ntilikina (France, PG/SG, 1998)

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    Given Frank Ntilikina's limited role in France, his MVP showing during December's U18 European Championships was a helpful reminder that the draft buzz is justified. But he was recently named a starter with Strasbourg IG, and as his minutes have risen, the production has followed.

    He's still a secondary option in the offense and doesn't offer the explosive playmaking potential NBA teams can get from the top NCAA point guards. Instead, Ntilikina brings a different dimension of versatility, with the ability to play off the ball and lock down multiple positions. 

    The draft's top perimeter backcourt defender, shooting 41.3 percent from three while holding his own (47.6 percent FG) at 18 years old against pros, Ntilikina looks like a good bet to carve out an NBA career, even if his upside appears relatively capped.

8. Malik Monk (Kentucky, SG, Freshman)

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    Malik Monk falls a few spots on the board after a rough final two months that exposed his questionable shot selection. He finished below 43 percent from the floor during 12 of Kentucky's final 14 games, including in the last loss to North Carolina, when he'd totaled just six points through the first 39 minutes and 20 seconds.

    He still wound up averaging 19.8 points and 2.7 threes on the year, a tribute to his elite shot-making ability. Monk does rely on too many jumpers, with only 20.4 percent of his shots coming at the rim, per Hoop-Math, but his shooting off spot-ups, screens and transition leaks is difficult to match.

    He's one of 12 freshman guards since 1992—a list that includes Stephen Curry, Rodney Stuckey, Jamal Murray, Eric Gordon, C.J. McCollum and Kevin Martin—to average at least 19 points and 2.5 threes with a true shooting percentage above 58 percent. 

7. Dennis Smith Jr. (North Carolina, PG, Freshman)

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    Dennis Smith Jr. came out flat too many times for big games, including North Carolina State's last one in the conference tournament, when he finished with seven points and three assists on 3-of-12 shooting in a blowout loss to Clemson.

    There is no debating his talent, however. Smith, who averaged 18.1 points and 6.2 assists, aces the NBA eye test with explosive athleticism and dangerous ball skills.

    With the ability to create shots, both for himself and teammates, and score from all three levels, Smith will generate offense and put up numbers wherever he winds up. The question will be whether he can do so efficiently in a ball-dominant lead guard role. Decision-making and body language are weaknesses Smith must work on.

6. Jonathan Isaac (Florida State, SF/PF, Freshman)

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    Scouts didn't see enough stretches of takeover scoring from Jonathan Isaac, who only averaged 12 points per game. 

    He was exceptionally efficient, however, having shot 59.3 percent inside the arc and rarely turning the ball over (13.3 percent). And at 6'10", Isaac's ability to handle the ball, create shots and shoot with comfort (31 threes) hints at mismatch offensive potential. 

    His defense, though, has emerged as arguably the more surprising and intriguing selling point. Isaac blocked 2.3 shots per 40 minutes and showed he can switch out and guard the perimeter. 

5. De'Aaron Fox (Kentucky, PG, Freshman)

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    De'Aaron Fox was convincing enough during the postseason to justify moving him up the board. 

    The 39 points he dropped on UCLA in the Sweet 16 showcased his explosive ability to put pressure on the defense and rim. But he also started to show more promise as a shooter with two-point pull-ups, and he'll have finished his freshman year with nine three-point makes over Kentucky's last 10 games. 

    Ranking Fox top five means betting on his jumper to improve, which seems reasonable given its mechanics. But it also takes into account the damage he can do as a driver, facilitator, transition weapon and defensive playmaker.

4. Jayson Tatum (Duke, SF, Freshman)

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    Tools, skills and production hint at a high floor for Jayson Tatum, whose NBA body, athleticism and polished attack back up his 16.8 points per game.

    Equipped with a three-ball, mid-range pull-ups and step-backs and handles for driving, teams should feel good about Tatum's scoring ability translating. And he's flashed promising glimpses of defense highlighting his quick feet, long arms and potential to guard multiple positions. 

    Average explosiveness contributed to a poor finishing rate at the rim in transition (58.1 percent, per Hoop-Math). And there are questions about his shot selection, which is two-point jumper-heavy. But Tatum is still too advanced not to have a top-five ranking. 

3. Lonzo Ball (UCLA, PG, Freshman)

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    Lonzo Ball was exposed at both ends against Kentucky in the Sweet 16, when De'Aaron Fox went for 39 points. The inability to take over as a scorer also stood out. Ball couldn't just pass UCLA back into the game after falling behind early.

    Still, his floor leadership remains second to none and could wind up holding more value than a high scoring average. He's the only prospect who has the potential to quickly raise a team's offensive efficiency by improving its quality of shots taken.

    The fact that he finished the year having made 80 of 194 threes helps lessen some of the concern over his limited scoring firepower. 

2. Josh Jackson (Kansas, SF, Freshman)

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    Josh Jackson showed improvement from Day 1 to Kansas' final loss in the NCAA tournament. 

    He'll finish the year having made a respectable 34 threes at a 37.8 percent clip and looked sharper scoring in one-on-one situations. The latter was on display most during the Jayhawks' Round of 32 game against Michigan State, when he was executing step-back jumpers and post moves en route to 23 points.

    It's still the playmaking (three assists per game) that separates Jackson from the other wings. Plus, between his explosiveness, quickness, competitiveness and IQ, it's worth betting on Jackson to become a more disciplined defender.

    He'll need to continue improving his ball skills, shooting and maturity, but Jackson is a good bet to emerge as 2017's most complete two-way forward.

1. Markelle Fultz (Washington, PG/SG, Freshman)

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    Our preseason No. 1 prospect, Markelle Fultz will manage to survive 22 losses and finish 2017 atop the board.

    Washington's record shouldn't cast a cloud over its star freshman. The only player since 1992 to average at least 20 points, five rebounds and five assists and shoot over 40 percent from three, Fultz, who's still 18 years old, couldn't have done much more outside of defend a little tighter. 

    While the college production is a big selling point, it's his tools, athleticism, next-level skills and well-rounded game that say the numbers will carry over. Fultz fits the mold of a James Harden-like scoring playmaker who can be used as the lead or 2-guard.

    Stats are accurate following Monday's championship game and are via 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


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