The 2017 NBA Draft is LOADED. Seriously. This draft has a chance to go 10 deep in All Star’s, with franchise altering stars at the top. This is pretty well accepted fact. The question is, how does it compare to the golden standard for drafts; the 2003 NBA Draft.
4 of the best 10-15 players in the league for 10+ years, plus Chris Kaman who was an All Star for a period of time. Not a bad top 10. So who in the 2017 Draft can match these guys excellence? Lets take a look.
*None of these guys have a chance of being anywhere as good as LeBron James, however, one of them might be the best player in the league for 10 years just like LBJ has been and step into the league as an all-star performer right away*
Markelle Fultz, PG, Washington
Markelle Fultz is 6’4 195 with a 6’10 wingspan. That’s an NBA ready body at PG. There is little doubt in my mind Fultz will be a top PG from the jump in the pro’s. On a terrible Washington team this year Fultz is averaging 23.4 ppg, 5.8 rpg and 6.1 apg. He is every bit a superstar PG. He combines tremendous length with a smooth, silky game and can flat out shoot, hitting 41.7% of his three’s. Fultz is the best NBA prospect since Anthony Davis came out in 2012. Give me all your Markelle Fultz stock.
The best part about Fultz is he is likely heading to a big market team that could contend next year. The projected top 3 picks (worst 3 teams) are the Celtics (via the Nets), the Heat and the Mavs. And the next worst is the Lakers, whose pick is top 3 protected. So basically Fultz is looking likely to be heading to a better fate than the recent can’t miss prospects like Anthony Davis and Karl Towns. Hell, let me get my Colin Cowherd on: Markelle Fultz is playing in the playoffs by his 2nd year. It doesn’t matter what team he goes to, he’s that good.
Lonzo Ball, PG, UCLA
I’m sure you have heard about Lonzo Ball by now. He is the transcendent, lengthy PG of the fast paced UCLA Bruins who drains half courters and chucks full court passes. He is a joy to watch, and a force to be reckoned with. I’m sure plenty of Mock Drafts have even penciled him in as the top pick over Fultz, but as you can tell my the previous paragraph, I would find that to be a major mistake. Ball’s shooting and playmaking are terrific, there’s no question about it. I am bullish on his future, just not as optimistic as I am with Fultz. That’s why I’m calling Ball the Dwayne Wade of this draft. Might he be a superstar? Hell yes. Will he be good enough to lead his team to an NBA championship? You bet. But will he be good enough to take down the 73-9 Warriors and re-write the course of the league every time he changes teams? Maybe not. So he is the D-Wade of the NBA. Still, pretty bright future for Lonzo.
Carmelo has been a top flight player, probably a top 5-10 guy in the league, for 10 years now. He is a franchise cornerstone. However, he has never led his team to a title. Maybe these guys aren’t the elite prospects that Fultz and Ball are, but they are still special players.
Dennis Smith Jr, PG, North Carolina State
As seen in NC State’s shocking upset win @ Duke the other day. Smith is a dominant PG in the mold of a Russell Westbrook, a high flying. athletic PG who finishes at the rim like few others. Just watch these highlights
Smith is putting up nice numbers this year, averaging 19.5 ppg, 4.5 rpg, and 6.5 apg. The questions surrounding Smith are mostly due to his shooting and size. He doesn’t have the elite length you see on guys like Fultz and Ball, and he is only shooting 37% from three, which is fine, just not 1st pick overall elite. Smith is still a guy who can change your franchise’s fortune.
Josh Jackson, SF, Kansas
The first non-pg we’ve mentioned, but still a no doubt potential superstar. I’m a little bearish on Jackson compared to my feelings about Ball and Fultz, but I still wouldn’t be surprised to see him as a perennial all-star and NBA 1st teamer. He is every bit the prospect Andrew Wiggins was, who went #1 in 2014.
Jackson is about as freak athlete as they get, but he has a very clear hole in his game; shooting. Defense’s are more than willing to lag off Jackson and give him room to shoot, as his jumper doesn’t come close to matching his athletic abilities. Jackson’s defensive potential is outstanding, and you won’t find a better vertical-speed-strength combination in the draft, but these percentages just can’t be ignored.
25.6% from beyond the arc and 56.3% from the line. That just won’t cut it. If he finds his jumper, there is Carmelo Anthony level potential. No question about it. However, his form isn’t very pretty, leading people like myself to be a bit down on his outlook. Jackson might be a superstar, but he might just be a freak athlete and lockdown defender. Tony Allen is a nice player, but in this draft picking Tony Allen in the top 5 might look like a colossal mistake.
The “Chris Bosh’s”
Jonathan Isaac, SF, Florida State
Giannis, Kristapas, Embiid. The new rage in the NBA is the Basketball Unicorn. The freakishly tall, lengthy athletic player with skills that fit on a player much smaller than them. Isaac is a long 6’10 and has absolutely exploded this year, as seen in this dominating performance over Notre Dame in which he blocked 7 shots!
Isaac almost entered the NBA draft last year out of High School through some weird loophole, and was considered a fringe lottery pick. Good thing for him he didn’t, as he seems like a lock for a top 5 pick.
Jayson Tatum, SF, Duke
So far this article has been a collection of freak athletes who change the game with their combination of skill and athleticism. Tatum isn’t quite that. He is more a skill player than an athletic freak. Tatum relies on his silky smooth game that creates room to get to the rim, and his knockdown mid range jumper. Don’t be mistaken though, Tatum definitely has All-Star potential. A career as plentiful as Chris Bosh’s is absolutely in play. Tatum should be able to get 20+ ppg a night in the NBA, and yet he is considered an outside the top 5 type prospect in this draft. Just a bonkers draft.
Malik Monk, SG, Kentucky
Monk and Lonzo Ball have been the stars of the show this year in college basketball, so I’m sure this isn’t your first time hearing this name. Like Tatum, Monk is a more traditional top prospect, as his game is predicated on his pure scoring ability, mainly concentrated on a lockdown jumper. This 47 point game vs. UNC is the perfect example of Monk’s scoring ability.
Monk is averaging 22 on 42% shooting from 3 and 83% shooting from the line this year, while being the star of a great UK team. He can absolutely be your franchise’s Chris Bosh. And don’t sleep on his leaping ability. This is no Kyle Korver. If you don’t recall, he made his debut on this site in the Top 10 Hoopmixtapes of All Time rankings.
The Rest “Chris Kaman’s”
This draft has superstar potential at the top, but what truly makes it special might be its depth. Picks 1-15 could all seriously be All Star performers one day. Here’s a look at some of the “rest”, guys who could easily make an All Star game appearance one day like Chris Kaman did, and really push this draft to the top.
Frank Ntilikina, PG, France
I’m not going to sit here and pretend to know all about a Euro prospect i’ve never watched play in person. Ntilikina is a long, athletic PG who seems destined to be at least a Dennis Schroder type NBA pg. Just watch the video.
De’Aaron Fox, PG, Kentucky
The jumper is pretty garbage, no getting around it. But damn the rest of the game is fun to watch. Fox is a cheetah on the court, he just FLYS from baseline to baseline. He projects as an explosive leaper, dominant defender who should be a plus in the pick and roll game. If the jumper comes around he could join to Smith/Ball tier.
Lauri Markkanen, PF, Arizona
In the new floor spacing obsessed NBA big man who can stroke it are all the rage. Enter our boy Lauri. Markkanen has a sweet stroke for his size, and could be the perfect modern NBA 4/5. Not sure he’s got the ceiling to be in the “Chris Bosh” tier, but he could easily find himself on an NBA All Star team.
Harry Giles, PF, Duke
Not to long ago, Giles was the “LeBron of this class”. Then 2 ACL Tear’s occurred, and things changed. Giles has simply looked rusty for Duke this year, the explosive skilled big man of High School seems like a memory. Now Giles is a rebounder with “potential” to be more. It remains to be see if he ever returns to his old form. For now he is no more than a nice player of the bench.
Justin Patton, C, Creighton
You will struggle to find anyone I’m more “IN” on than Markelle Fultz, but damn it I love Justin Patton’s game. He just screams All-Star NBA Center. My dream scenario is the Pelicans teaming AD up with Patton down low.
So Conclusion Wise, I’m ready to stand up and proclaim it.