Ranking the Best Rim Protectors Likely to Declare for 2017 NBA Draft

Jonathan Wasserman@@NBADraftWassNBA Lead WriterApril 7, 2017

Ranking the Best Rim Protectors Likely to Declare for 2017 NBA Draft

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    Even in today's small-ball NBA, all teams need rim protection. They'll have the chance to add some with five specific prospects in the 2017 draft. 

    Each of these bigs has established a presence inside. They project as defensive assets in the NBA based on their tools, instincts and shot-blocking numbers.

    We're ranking rim protection in a vacuum—not each prospect's NBA potential. No. 2 could be the better long-term overall prospect than No. 1. 

    However, the rankings themselves are based on future projections as rim protectors—not solely stats from the season. Our No. 5 rim protector may have been more effective this year, but No. 4's tools and athleticism suggest his game will translate smoother to the pros.  

    Note that the prospects that follow have not officially declared for the draft. Some haven't hired agents, so they could back out. Regardless, all have the tools to fit in the NBA as rim protectors starting this year.

5. Cameron Oliver (Nevada, PF, Sophomore)

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    Draft status: Testing waters 

    A 6'8" power forward, Cameron Oliver isn't your traditional rim protector, but his athleticism and defensive timing still bode well for his potential to continue rejecting shots after the draft. 

    He explodes off the floor, a strength that's led to 190 blocks through two years at Nevada and a career 8.7 block percentage.

    Strong, fast and aggressive, he often catches opposing shot-takers off guard with how high he gets, both as an awaiting rim protector standing in the restricted area and as an on-ball defender leaping off one foot. 

    He's the only college player in 25 years to block 90 shots and make 60 three-pointers—a big reason Oliver could be viewed as a major sleeper in the 2017 draft. 

4. Jarrett Allen (Texas, C, Freshman)

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    Draft status: Testing waters

    Jarrett Allen didn't block as many shots (1.9 per 40 minutes, 5.0 block percentage) as some of the other top rim protectors, but he also spent more time away from the basket playing the 4 alongside Shaquille Cleare.

    The assumption that Allen develops into a defensive asset in the pros stems from his projected move to the 5 (full time) and gigantic 7'5 ½" wingspan and 9'1 ½" standing reach. He takes up an enormous amount of room and airspace with his long arms and wheels.

    Strength and toughness are questions, but he defends without fouling (2.6 per 40 minutes), has room to improve fundamentally and possesses NBA-center tools that can't be taught.

3. Jordan Bell (Oregon, PF, Junior)

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    Draft status: Undecided 

    While most rim protectors stand in the 6'10" to 7'0" range, Jordan Bell is an exception. He compensates for limited height (6'9") at center with explosive leaping ability and motor.

    The Pac-12's Defensive Player of the Year, Bell just capped off his junior season blocking eight shots against Kansas in the Elite Eight and four against North Carolina in the Final Four. If he leaves, he'll do so owning a career 9.5 block percentage at Oregon.

    Bell has a terrific nose and can tap into an extra gear of toughness when challenging inside. He also brings transition rim protection, an overlooked form of defense. Bell has made a habit of erasing opposing teams' fast breaks by sprinting the floor for chase-down blocks.

    Size and offensive limitations will make it difficult for him to earn a full-time NBA role. But athleticism, energy and instincts could help Bell stick as a small-ball 5 specialist who's only asked to disrupt.

2. Zach Collins (Gonzaga, C, Freshman)

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    Draft status: Undecided

    Against South Carolina and North Carolina in the Final Four—two hot, power-conference opponents—Zach Collins helped validate the defensive potential he'd flashed against weaker WCC competition. 

    He swatted nine shots in 37 minutes during Gonzaga's last two NCAA tournament games, finishing the year with a strong 9.8 block percentage.

    Outside of 7-foot size, a quick jump and timing are behind Collins' 4.1 blocks per 40 minutes. He's light on his feet, anticipates well and shows good hand-eye coordination when challenged and forced to go up vertically in the restricted area.

    Collins did average 2.7 fouls in just 17.3 minutes and was able to afford being extra aggressive in a smaller, backup role. But between his 230-pound size and mobility, it's still reasonable to project Collins' developing into an asset in rim protection.

1. Ike Anigbogu (UCLA, C, Freshman)

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    Draft status: Testing waters

    Ike Anigbogu averaged just 4.7 points in 13.0 minutes and should still draw first-round looks.

    His defense alone may hold top-20 value. Though the numbers are impressive—3.7 blocks per 40, 8.8 block percentage—it's physical tools, athleticism and foot speed that have Anigbogu atop the rim-protector rankings.

    At 250 pounds with terrific length, he's a massive, intimidating presence, strong and long enough to anchor the paint. But he also has the quickness to recover off pick-and-rolls and slide with drivers as they try to turn the corner. 

    Anigbogu will need reps in the NBA Development League next year if he stays in the draft, given how little he played, his nonexistent offense and whopping 7.6 fouls per 40 minutes. But DeAndre Jordan and Hassan Whiteside needed time as well.

    "They [scouts] love him, they love his mindset; he's a rim protector, a dunker, a baby DeAndre Jordan-type," one scout told Bleacher Report earlier in the season. "They feel he's the anchor of that team; they think he's going to be an unbelievable player defensively, and I agree. I love what he brings to the table defensively."

    All advanced stats courtesy of Sports-Reference.com, wingspans courtesy of DraftExpress.com