Re-Drafting the 2017 NBA Draft Class
The 2017 NBA re-draft gets us to a point at which the majority of players involved are still, hopefully, in the upward-trajectory phase of their careers. That means there's less certainty and more projection involved than in any prior class.
We have less information to work with, but that actually makes this exercise even more fun. There's an element of risk involved as the new draft order requires some guesses about where players in the class might end up in the hierarchy in a few years.
Centered in an ocean of unknown, there's at least one island of certainty: The Philadelphia 76ers aren't going to take Markelle Fultz after trading into the top slot.
That pick, which Philly acquired by trading its No. 3 selection and a future protected first-rounder, is worth discussing before we get started. Technically, the Sixers have the top selection in the re-draft since we're not going to unwind history back to before the draft took place.
The good news: Philly will get it right this time.
As always, we're focusing on taking the best player available at each slot. Career stats, contributions to winning and future projections are all factors in determining the optimal selection. There are also no alternate timelines; if a player developed an injury issue, that's priced in.
The Sixers are on the clock.
1. Philadelphia 76ers: Jayson Tatum
A handful of others were in the running for this spot until February, when Jayson Tatum transformed.
There wasn't a puff of smoke or a grand reveal; Tatum's metamorphosis wasn't magic. But it was strangely abrupt, almost as if earning his first All-Star nod provided the validation he needed to unleash his entire game.
Through two-plus years, Tatum was an undeniably promising two-way talent. He would have been in the top five of our re-draft if he'd only made marginal gains on the 15.7 points, 6.0 rebounds and 2.1 assists he averaged in 2018-19, his age-20 season.
Now that he's a hyperefficient three-point shooter, an ace ball-handler in the pick-and-roll and a legitimate high-usage, high-volume star who, incredibly, scrapped mid-rangers in favor of threes and layups on a whim, there's only one draft slot for him: the first one.
Tatum ranks in the 92nd percentile in points per play on 5.8 possessions per game as a pick-and-roll ball-handler this season, up from the 72nd percentile on just 2.4 possessions per game in 2018-19. Among players who have attempted at least 200 pull-up threes on the season, only Damian Lillard (40.1 percent) is more accurate than Tatum (39.9 percent).
Those are the broad strokes that explain Tatum's ascent to the top of this class and the league's under-22 list of future superstars. Underneath them are layers of nuanced growth: sharper moves off the dribble, improved strength, an evolving grasp of in-between craft, half-second hesitations and virtually everything else you'd want in a dominant wing scorer.
It's not just offense that earns Tatum a spot at No. 1, though.
He's had excellent block and steal rates throughout his career (both of which have peaked in 2019-20 in the 87th and 84th percentiles, respectively, among forwards), and he rebounds his position well. At 6'8" and already filling out, Tatum has the ideal frame for a modern defensive star, one that combines length, lateral quickness and power. Consistent competitiveness puts the bow on the total package.
Tatum is averaging 23.6 points, 7.1 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 1.4 steals and 0.9 blocks on 56.2 percent true shooting in his age-21 season. And yet, because he made such a massive leap in the middle of the year, those numbers undersell his abilities.
Less than three full years in, Tatum is the surest superstar in the 2017 class.
Actual Pick: Markelle Fultz
Tatum's Actual Draft Slot: No. 3, Boston Celtics
2. Los Angeles Lakers: Donovan Mitchell
Thrust immediately into a high-usage role for a Utah Jazz team short on shot creation, Donovan Mitchell is one of only three players this century to average at least 22.0 points, 4.0 assists and 4.0 rebounds through his first three seasons. Luka Doncic is on his way through two years, but LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are the only others to match those early-career averages.
Mitchell shoots an easy ball from deep, and his smooth release seems like it should generate a hit rate higher than his 35.5 percent career mark. That'll come, and it should be noted Mitchell has improved his three-point percentage every year on roughly the same number of shots per game.
A nuclear athlete when given a runway, Mitchell has the ability to vault over rim-protectors. He's one of those rare finishers whose body control in the air gives him the option of avoiding contact others would have no choice but to absorb. Once he learns it's often better to take the hit (and draw the foul) before trying to convert with a contortionist's flexibility in midair, his scoring efficiency will spike.
As it is, Mitchell is an All-Star and a clear No. 1 scoring option at age 23. High-character, comfortable with alpha status and with a game that is still developing (strange to say about a guy currently averaging 24.2 points per game), Mitchell projects as one of the best scoring guards in the league over the next several seasons.
He's a year-and-a-half older than Tatum, lacks his size and isn't on the same level defensively. But Mitchell is still a franchise cornerstone.
Actual Pick: Lonzo Ball
Mitchell's Actual Draft Slot: No. 13, Utah Jazz
3. Boston Celtics: Bam Adebayo
An All-Star in his age-22 season this year, Bam Adebayo is the theory of the modern big man made real.
A ball-handling, pass-happy defensive dynamo with a chiseled 6'9" frame and guard skills, Adebayo leads all 2017 selections in career win shares. That he holds that distinction while ranking just 12th in the class in points per game illustrates the immensity of his non-scoring contributions.
Nikola Jokic is the NBA's best passer among big men, but Adebayo comes as close to him as anyone. He's averaging 5.1 dimes this season, and his assist rate ranks in the 99th percentile among bigs. He does more than find cutters and pick out open shooters. A legitimate threat to take his man off the dribble and make a play on the move, something most centers get benched for even attempting, Adebayo spends large swaths of games running his team's offense.
Adebayo's elite defense gets second billing to his passing, but it's far from an afterthought. From the moment he entered the league, he had the lateral quickness to stay in front of guards. He gives a defense the switch-everything option with his ability to cover all five positions, and when asked to perform more conventional big-man duties, like protecting the rim or overpowering guards, he's just as dominant.
Superstar wings are still the most prized commodity in the league, but Adebayo's unique two-way game feels like a window into a future during which all five positions share the qualities that render those wings so valuable. If he develops a three-point shot, don't rule out some MVP chatter in the not-so-distant future.
Actual Pick: Jayson Tatum
Adebayo's Actual Draft Slot: No. 14, Miami Heat
4. Phoenix Suns: De'Aaron Fox
De'Aaron Fox was right in the middle of leading the Sacramento Kings back into the playoff race when the 2019-20 season seized up, halting what felt like the third-year point guard's true arrival as a star.
Among the fastest end-to-end players in the league, Fox got his scoring average all the way up to 20.4 points per game this season, leveraging his speed and elite foul-drawing craft to pile up points inside and at the line. Fox's shot frequency at the rim has climbed in each of his three seasons, and he's always been a gifted finisher inside, capable of hanging in the air and using his deceptive strength to absorb hits and still get the ball on the rim.
Among players who have logged at least 45 games this season, Fox ranks eighth with 10.5 free-throw attempts per 100 possessions.
Inconsistent long-range shooting (30.7 percent in 2017-18, 37.1 percent in 2018-19 and 30.7 percent in 2019-20) and ill-timed injuries are the only things that have interrupted Fox's growth. Easily the best point guard in this draft, Fox won't be denied All-Star status much longer.
Actual Pick: Josh Jackson
Fox's Actual Draft Slot: No. 5, Sacramento Kings
5. Sacramento Kings: Jonathan Isaac
This class ran out of certain game-changers after four picks, but Jonathan Isaac profiles as a possible member of that group if his bad luck on the health front ever abates.
An ankle injury washed out most of his rookie year, and Isaac's knee limited him to 32 games in 2019-20 before the season stopped. Prior to going down this year, though, the 6'11" defensive dynamo showed signs of a breakout.
Isaac averaged 12.0 points, 6.9 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 1.6 steals and 2.4 blocks in 29.7 minutes per game—all career highs—this season while setting new personal bests in true shooting percentage and usage rate for good measure. He's this class' leader in block rate, but that only hints at what Isaac can do on defense.
In all of NBA history, there are only eight players with 100 career starts, a block rate above 5 percent and a steal rate above 2 percent. Isaac is one of them, and he's in that club despite a growth trajectory constantly interrupted by injury.
Quick, long-limbed and gifted with the uncanny ability to materialize right where help is needed most on defense, Isaac is a truly disruptive force. He can slide his feet against wings and meet bigs at the rim. That eliminates "around" and "over" as the routes that offensive players can take against him, and added strength could make "through" a nonstarter next.
His outside shot is clunky (though the 33 percent conversion rate he posted on threes in 2019-20 wasn't so bad), and he has some work to do on his offensive game. But the potential for some All-Defensive teams and possibly a Defensive Player of the Year award is obvious. When a player with his talent also hustles harder than the last man on the bench, it's hard to prevent stardom.
That's the best Sacramento can do at No. 5, having missed out on the pick, Fox, it actually got right in 2017.
Actual Pick: De'Aaron Fox
Isaac's Actual Draft Slot: No. 6, Orlando Magic
6. Orlando Magic: OG Anunoby
The points-per-game crowd won't like this one as OG Anunoby doesn't have the scoring that casual fans so often associate with effectiveness.
What he does have, suffocating defense and efficient shooting, plays absolutely everywhere.
A chiseled 6'7", Anunoby is a three-and-D wing with multiposition defensive versatility who could (and did) start on a championship team. Low-usage dirty-work contributors who impact the game while staying out of the way of superstar teammates are in demand everywhere.
At 38.1 percent on 3.4 deep attempts per game, Anunoby has proved he deserves his own defensive attention in 2019-20. His exceptional strength and straight-line speed have long made him a phenomenal finisher inside; he's made 69.1 percent of his shots inside three feet during his career.
Anunoby's shot profile is basically ideal in the modern game as he ranks in the 95th percentile in attempt frequency at the rim and the 84th percentile on corner threes.
One of just six players (and the only one from the 2017 draft class) to post a true shooting percentage north of 59 percent along with block and steal rates above 2 percent in 2019-20, Anunoby simply does everything you'd want a high-end support player to do.
He's also just 22 years old and had his early NBA development hindered by recovery from a torn ACL. At worst, he'll improve on his already stellar role-playing game. At best, he'll gradually add more shot creation and playmaking. In the latter scenario, he starts to look like a genuine star who'd fit into absolutely anyone's starting five.
He may never average 20 points per game, but Anunoby is going to spend his whole career making massive contributions to winning teams.
Actual Pick: Jonathan Isaac
Anunoby's Actual Draft Slot: No. 23, Toronto Raptors
7. Minnesota Timberwolves: Lonzo Ball
A transformed three-point stroke changed everything for Lonzo Ball. He's hitting 38.3 percent of his 6.5 long-range attempts per game in 2019-20, which removes his troubling label as a point guard who doesn't need defensive attention off the ball.
He escaped the Rondo Zone.
Ball's intuitive passing (he loves those hit-ahead outlets) and defensive chops were apparent from the moment he debuted in the league, but now he has the ability to spread the floor. That only increases the impact of his court vision as defenders will be more spread out and scrambling, creating passing angles and exploitable opportunities that simply weren't there before.
Ball is the only 2017 draftee to average at least 10.0 points, 6.0 rebounds and 6.0 assists for his career, and he's graded out as an elite backcourt defender in all three of his NBA seasons despite nagging injuries cutting away 65 games from his first two years.
Flaws remain. Ball lacks the burst to beat his man consistently in isolation, doesn't finish well at the rim and avoids contact to a maddening degree. But he already fixed his most glaring problem by reformatting his jumper. He went 21-of-36 from three over his final four games before the season shutdown.
Combine his innate feel for the game with the capacity to turn weaknesses into strengths and it's easier than ever to be bullish on Ball's future. Note, too, he has six of the 14 triple-doubles registered by 2017 picks.
Actual Pick: Lauri Markkanen (traded to Chicago Bulls)
Ball's Actual Draft Slot: No. 2, Los Angeles Lakers
8. New York Knicks: John Collins
Third in scoring average, first in rebounds and fifth in box plus-minus among players selected in 2017, John Collins is the type of stat-stuffing, highlight-heavy talent the New York Knicks always seem to want.
The 6'9" forward (whose ideal position is probably center) is an efficient scorer who ranks in the 89th percentile among bigs in points per shot attempt this season. He's been above the 84th percentile all three years of his career.
Collins has tremendous bounce, which makes him a quick-strike threat as a lob-catcher and offensive rebounder. His three-point accuracy and attempt rate have climbed every year, peaking in 2019-20 with a 40.1 percent hit rate on 3.6 deep tries per game. He's one of just seven bigs to shoot at least 40.0 percent on over 3.0 attempts per game this year, and he has more total blocks and rebounds than anyone in the group despite playing only 41 games.
Career averages of 16.2 points and 8.8 rebounds on 63.4 percent true shooting leap off the page, but we can't ignore Collins' relative defensive frailty. He's not quite big enough to be a true deterrent at the rim, and he hasn't yet shown a willingness to get down in a stance and stay in front of matchups on the perimeter. His focus seems to come and go on that end as well, which compounds the issue.
That's fine. The Knicks can't expect a perfect prospect at No. 8. Collins might wind up being a pretty good modern facsimile of Amar'e Stoudemire, though, which New York should feel pretty comfortable about.
Actual Pick: Frank Ntilikina
Collins' Actual Draft Slot: No. 19, Atlanta Hawks
9. Dallas Mavericks: Lauri Markkanen
There's an offense-elevating star somewhere inside Lauri Markkanen, and though the 7-foot Finnisher (an A-plus nickname, by the way) hasn't quite made the impact his skills suggest is possible, it's way too early to rule out a leap for the soon-to-be 23-year-old big man.
Markkanen averaged 18.7 points and 9.0 rebounds while shooting 36.1 percent on 6.4 three-point tries per game in 2018-19. All of those averages have dipped this season, yet another in a three-year run of injury-addled campaigns.
Similar to Collins, Markannen's lack of foot speed and focus means he's ill-suited for the perimeter on D. But he has yet to play with the force you'd want to see from a primary interior stopper. An exceptionally low foul rate illustrates his unwillingness to throw his weight around.
Chicago hasn't been the ideal developmental play space, so perhaps a reroute to the Dallas Mavericks (who seem quite willing to feature 7-foot European perimeter players) would produce better results for Markkanen.
Actual Pick: Dennis Smith Jr.
Markkanen's Actual Draft Slot: No. 7, Minnesota Timberwolves (traded to Chicago Bulls)
10. Sacramento Kings: Jarrett Allen
Jarrett Allen, today, is a better player than (at least) each of the last four picks.
He ranks in the top five in win shares, box plus-minus and VORP among 2017 selections, and his 169 games started are tied for fourth in the class. Only Tatum, Mitchell and Fox were in the first unit more often over the last three years.
No 2017 pick has more than Allen's 293 blocked shots or 1,665 rebounds, and his 64.1 true shooting percentage is second only to Thomas Bryant.
Why does such a productive player barely squeeze into the top 10?
First, because Allen is a conventional center.
Yes, he's occasionally dabbled with the three-point shot, but he seems to have scrapped a perimeter game after going 6-of-45 from deep in 2018-19. It's tough for a paint-bound offensive big to have a very high ceiling if he's also unlikely to ever have much defensive versatility. Isaac has the latter, and Collins and Markkanen have the former. That gives them an edge.
There's just not an easily projectable path toward Allen becoming more than a spoon-fed finisher inside who blocks shots and rebounds on the other end. He's great at those things, but without more, he can't be anything close to a star.
That said, Allen has real value in his present form. He's efficient (64.6 percent from the field in 2019-20) and reliably productive in his role. He's also just a few weeks past his 22nd birthday, making him one of the youngest players picked in 2017. That gives him more time than most to disprove our predictions about his low chance of development.
Actual Pick: Zach Collins (traded to Portland Trail Blazers)
Allen's Actual Draft Slot: No. 22, Brooklyn Nets
11. Charlotte Hornets: Derrick White
White ranks eighth in VORP and BPM in the 2017 class, with most of his impact coming on the defensive end. One of the absolute best shot-blocking guards in the league, White hounds ball-handlers on the perimeter and has a gift for recovering to bother (and wickedly reject) shot attempts inside once beaten initially.
Wiry strong, White can take a shoulder from a larger opponent without disengaging from the play, and his quick hands often produce strips and deflections when offensive players mistakenly think they've dislodged him. Lose track of him and he's probably already guessed where the next pass is going and is on the way to steal it.
Though not a great shot-creator or playmaker, White does almost everything else well. Whether a defense-first starter or an overqualified sixth man, the 6'4" guard, originally picked 29th by the San Antonio Spurs, is a clear rotation weapon.
12. Detroit Pistons: Monte Morris
Morris, originally taken at No. 51 overall, feels like the steal of the draft to this point. He ranks seventh in VORP, win shares and BPM among 2017 selections, and he's made that level of impact despite a grand total of 14 starts in his NBA career. That's life behind Jamal Murray in Denver.
A low-mistake point guard who has hit 39.8 percent of his threes, Morris is as complete as backup floor generals get. He can defend his position, finish inside and run a solid pick-and-roll. Don't expect gaudy point totals; he topped out at 16.4 points per game as a senior for Iowa State and set a professional high with 10.4 in 2018-19. But he'll do everything else you need as a luxury backup or spot starter.
13. Denver Nuggets: Kyle Kuzma
Among the 137 players to attempt at least 500 field goals in 2019-20, Kuzma's 52.2 true shooting percentage ranks 118th. Yes, he'll score; he is fifth in the 2017 class with a career average of 16.0 points per game. Just understand those buckets will not come efficiently. Nor will they be accompanied by defense or quality passing.
That said, Kuzma can get a bucket.
The 2017 class has produced just eight 40-point games in its two-plus seasons, and Kuzma has one of them. As we approach the end of the lottery, that's worth something. And if the 6'8" forward could rediscover the 36.6 percent stroke he had from deep as a rookie, it'd only boost his value.
14. Miami Heat: Josh Hart
Though just 6'5", Hart is one of the best rebounding guards in the game. That's partly due to his strength, but the high motor and competitive streak that make him a tough defender and elite hustle player are also factors.
Hart attacks the glass. He and Dejounte Murray are tied for the league lead in 2019-20 rebound rate among qualified players 6'5" or shorter.
Hart is not much of a distributor, and he needs to see the ball go in the hoop a little more often. This season, he's only been an above-average finisher for his position on shots at the rim and from the corners. Those are admittedly the ideal spots you'd want role players to excel from, but Hart could make an even bigger two-way impact with better above-the-break shooting or a smidgen of in-between craft.
15. Portland Trail Blazers: Dillon Brooks
Brooks' teams tend to be a lot better when he's playing, as three straight years of positive on-off differentials highlight. The 6'7" wing makes most of his contributions on defense, where he plays an ultraphysical style that results in plenty of fouls and no shortage of miffed opponents.
Brooks is a grade-A irritant, and that's a compliment.
In addition to his defensive impact, reliable three-point shooting (36.4 percent on 662 career attempts) helped Brooks nab one of the earlier extensions in his class, a three-year $35 million deal signed with the Grizzlies in February. That's high-end-reserve money, and Brooks should make it a bargain for Memphis if he keeps this up.
16. Chicago Bulls: Zach Collins
A shoulder injury wiped out Collins' 2019-20, which means we'll have to wait to find out if he can reach his ceiling by becoming the floor-stretching, rim-defending center his skills suggest is possible. Though unproven, he certainly projects confidence in his abilities.
Belief is half the battle, right?
A bouncy 6'11", Collins has a pretty stroke from beyond the arc and can elevate to finish with authority as a roll man. He's had success protecting the bucket, as evidenced by a career-high six blocks in a 128-119 win over the Lakers in October 2018. He had a five-swat game later that season. Better still, Collins looks agile enough to survive on switches as he gains experience.
He's still a project, though. We've only seen glimpses of what's possible because of a bench role and injury.
17. Milwaukee Bucks: Luke Kennard
A sweet-shooting lefty who has shown legitimate playmaking craft (91st percentile in assist rate among wings) in his third season, Kennard would have come off the board much earlier if not for concerns surrounding his health and defense. Tendinitis in both knees has hampered him throughout 2019-20, ultimately limiting him to 28 games thus far. He last played Dec. 21.
Kennard has genuine feel as a pick-and-roll ball-handler, making him a tantalizing secondary playmaker who can also punish defenses on the catch. Ideally, he'll stay healthy, improve to passable on D and settle in as one of the more useful offensive second options in the league.
The downside risks—bad knees and defense that never gets good enough to warrant first-unit minutes—are the reasons he falls so far.
18. Indiana Pacers: Markelle Fultz
Ignore what Fultz could have been and focus on what he is: a lead guard with terrific size (6'3", 200 lbs), unteachable court sense, major defensive potential and an array of change-of-pace moves.
Fultz has started 59 games for the Magic in 2019-20, averaging 12.1 points, 5.2 assists, 3.3 rebounds and 1.3 steals while juicing his team's offense by 3.0 points per 100 possessions while on the floor. If not for his real-life draft status and well-chronicled shooting woes, that sort of season from a 21-year-old would be inspiring real optimism.
Obviously, if the three-point shot never comes around (25.4 percent on 1.8 tries per game in 2019-20), Fultz's ceiling is lowered a ton. But he's shooting 72.3 percent from the foul line in his third year, up from 47.6 and 56.8 percent in his first two. That's encouraging, and we know he can do everything but shoot effectively.
His draft stock takes a hit, but Fultz, one of only four 2017 picks with multiple career triple-doubles, is too intriguing to give up on just yet.
19. Atlanta Hawks: Frank Ntilikina
There's very little evidence Ntilikina, nominally a point guard, can play the position. His assist rate is in the 16th percentile among lead guards in 2019-20, and if a player is truly defined by who he defends, the rangy 6'4" Frenchman is much more of a wing.
Ntilikina has top-end shutdown skills. With active hands, quick feet and great length, he can completely smother wings and even holds up well against much larger matchups. This is why he's still in the league.
If the brief offensive flashes he showed toward the end of the pre-suspension 2019-20 season are real, Ntilikina's outlook would change immensely. For now, he's a defense-only project worth keeping an eye on. For a Hawks team that needs someone to defend players Trae Young can't (so, everybody), this is a fine fit.
20. Portland Trail Blazers: Dennis Smith Jr.
This is a pure, statistically unsupported upside play on a point guard with as much raw physical talent as anyone in the class.
To date, Smith's off-the-charts springs and mechanically viable outside shot have produced zero in the results department. His 12.5 career points per game come with extreme inefficiency. Of the 110 players who've attempted at least 1,800 shots since 2017-18, Smith's rookie year, he ranks dead last in true shooting percentage.
Smith has dealt with injury and personal tragedy during his short career, which may mean he deserves the benefit of the doubt. Let's not give all the way up on him just yet.
21. Oklahoma City Thunder: Thomas Bryant
The basic stats say Bryant should have gone several picks earlier, but his 18.1 points and 10.7 rebounds per 36 minutes have yet to improve the quality of his team's play. Bryant's on-off splits have been negative in all three years of his career.
He's an efficient scorer, particularly inside, as he's been above the 88th percentile among bigs in points per attempt over the last two years. His defense is brutal, though, and Bryant will have to improve there to avoid being an empty-stats producer who winds up spending lots of time running up numbers for losing teams.
22. Brooklyn Nets: Justin Jackson
A low-usage wing who's shown intermittent shooting skill, Jackson hit 37.2 percent from deep in 29 games with the Mavs down the stretch of the 2018-19 season. He's regressed in 2019-20, falling to 29.8 percent on long balls and disappearing a bit too often.
Still, the lanky 6'7" forward has the frame and stay-out-of-the-way game good teams covet in role-playing wings. A little added muscle would make a lot of difference to his defense, and Jackson is quietly an efficient scorer inside the arc, particularly on contested floaters.
23. Toronto Raptors: Chris Boucher
As skinny as skinny gets, the originally undrafted Boucher relies on length and energy to finish above the rim on one end and defend it on the other.
It's been tough for the G League vet to secure consistent playing time in the Raptors' stacked frontcourt, so landing with his real-life team won't open up any extra opportunities. Toronto fans will probably be happy to have Boucher back in the fold, though, as his minutes are always exciting.
Don't forget: He played a key role in the largest comeback in Raptors history, scoring 21 points, blocking four shots and hitting the go-ahead bucket to beat the Mavericks on Dec. 22, 2019.
24. Utah Jazz: Harry Giles III
Knee troubles caused Giles to slip in the draft, miss his entire rookie season and play just 96 games over the last two years. The red flags are flying high from a health perspective.
The 6'11" center was an elite high school prospect with obvious skills. He's a bold, intuitive passer who, despite missing so much time, exudes confidence and competes hard. A player with such a long injury history shouldn't dive on the floor as often as Giles does, but that hustle is endearing.
Good hands produce a high steal rate for Giles, and he's been a quality defensive rebounder while averaging 7.0 points per game for the Kings over the last two years. The odds of good health seem slim, but there's a nonzero chance that Giles, if his body cooperates, turns into a high-energy facilitator who wreaks havoc on defense.
25. Orlando Magic: Josh Jackson
Jackson effectively washed out with the Suns, landing with the Grizzlies following a salary-dump trade in October 2019. Phoenix had already declined Jackson's fourth-year option, a drastic step for a player picked fourth overall.
After some G League purgatory, Jackson has made the most of his chance with Memphis, improving his shot selection and playing under better control after a frighteningly freewheeling two years with the Suns. It's not right to say Jackson has reclaimed his game, but he's an athletic 6'8" forward with obvious upside. He's worth a flier this late.
26. Portland Trail Blazers: Semi Ojeleye
Combat muscles and a reputation for defending Giannis Antetokounmpo about as effectively as any human can are Ojeleye's calling cards. A ripped-up 6'6", the combo forward can hold his ground against anyone. All it'd take to secure a 10-year career would be a moderately improved off-the-dribble game and a touch more accuracy from deep.
Offensively, Ojeleye is strictly a catch-and-shoot three-point specialist, so his career conversion rate of 33.3 percent has to come up. Encouragingly, he's hit 36.7 percent of his treys in 61 games during the 2019-20 season.
27. Brooklyn Nets: Malik Monk
Monk was suspended indefinitely in February for violating the terms of the NBA/NBPA Anti-Drug program. That obviously casts doubt over his future, and it's not even a certainty the streaky scoring guard will have a role in the NBA going forward.
Never stingy with the flash, Monk's game felt purposefully built for a future as a bench spark plug—right down to the high-usage, barely tolerable efficiency makeup that always seems to define those types of players.
Maybe that's unfair to Monk, though. He shot over 50 percent from the field in each of his six 20-point games during 2019-20.
28. Los Angeles Lakers: Damyean Dotson
Damyean Dotson shoots a pretty ball, and he looks very much like a future three-point specialist when he takes a little hop into his shot without hesitation. Though he hasn't settled into a clear role, never playing more than three consecutive games of over 20 minutes, he's posted double figures in 13 of his 48 contests.
We've received a handful of hints that Dotson can create his own looks, but he's mostly a spot-up threat at the moment. If he defends more consistently and gets his three-point percentage (36.2) up a tick or two, he might find himself back in the semiregular starting role he occupied in 2018-19.
29. San Antonio Spurs: Terrance Ferguson
You might not meet much resistance if you argued Ferguson has been the worst regular starting guard in the NBA. He's averaging 4.2 points on 37.2 percent from the field in 2019-20.
Nonetheless, the soon-to-be 22-year-old has the willowy 6'6" frame, boundless athleticism and a highlight reel that demands patience. He's one in a long line of physically gifted Thunder picks who the franchise hopes it can teach how to shoot. It's not too late for that plan to finally work out, and maybe a Spurs system with a great track record for player development would coax the most out of Ferguson's game.
30. Utah Jazz: Jordan Bell
Bell has the speed, hops and versatility you'd want in a modern undersized frontcourt defender, but he hasn't quite nailed down the nuances of NBA basketball. He's often lost on defense, and it was common to see Warriors teammates telling a confused Bell where he was supposed to be during his first two years.
Bell has the potential to be a switchable, rim-running difference-maker. He had a five-by-five game in the 2017 summer league, which...sure, it's summer league. But that's a clue as to what potential exists in the 6'8" forward. He just has to solidify his grasp on the small stuff.