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2017 NBA Draft – Matty Lindley

1 – Philadelphia 76ers

Markelle Fultz

Markelle Fultz

Current season stats: 35.7mpg – 23.2ppg – 5.7rpg – 5.9apg – 50.2% 2-pt FG – 41.3% 3-pt FG – 64.9% FT

  • Height: 6’4″
  • Weight: 195lbs
  • Position: PG
  • School: Washington
  • Class: Freshman

Though the outcome of this past season wasn’t great, record wise, for Markelle and the rest of the Washington team, going 9-21 (10 wins less than last season’s squad managed), no one can argue that Fultz didn’t play well throughout his lone season as a Huskie. He put up excellent numbers across the board, contributing 35.7% of the team’s assists, as well as 30.6% of the team’s points.

His large 6’10” wing span and solid frame help him on offense, he uses his length effectively to get open shots – that comes both by posting up smaller guards, scoring 1.118ppp in the post, as well as executing pull up shooting with success, scoring 1.02ppp. Though he’s not quite there yet defensively he manages to use his intangibles like his length and his speed on that side of the ball, playing passing lanes and closing out on shooters.

Fultz is a great instinctive player on the offensive end, he attacks closeouts and reacts well to ball pressure. Philly have said they’re wanting to play last year’s #1 pick, Ben Simmons as the primary ball handler with the team moving forward, this isn’t a huge worry for Fultz, he’s able to play off of the ball and spot up for open shots he scores 1.13ppp on catch and shoot jumpers and 1.15ppp coming off of screens. His length allows him to play above the rim and catch lobs off of weak side cuts.

Philadelphia were going to be an exciting team this upcoming season anyway with the first season of Ben Simmons’ NBA career about to begin, Joel Embiid and Dario Šarić both entering their second full seasons in the league, and now with the likely new addition of Fultz tonight it makes them even more exciting, they’ll be adding a dynamic, athletic point guard who loves to attack. Happy days may once again be back in the city of brotherly love.

 

2 – Los Angeles Lakers

Lonzo Ball

Lonzo Ball

Current season stats: 35.1mpg – 14.6ppg – 6.0rpg – 7.6apg – 73.2% 2-pt FG – 41.2% 3-pt FG – 67.3% FT

  • Height: 6’6″
  • Weight: 190lbs
  • Position: PG
  • School: UCLA
  • Class: Freshman

Lonzo made it clear for most of his freshman season that he only has intentions of playing for his hometown team, the Los Angeles Lakers, he even said when asked earlier in the season he’d rather be taken by the Lakers, regardless of what number their pick was, than be taken #1 overall by any other team.

Lonzo will help the Lakers in a whole manner of ways, an area LA will look to improve this season is their rebounding, last season they were ranked 17th in rebounding, Ball has shown he  helps out his 4s/5s by being an active rebounder, he even had multiple double-digit rebounding games in his time with the Bruins.

He manages to score in a whole manner of ways, whether it be around the rim with either hand (73% finishing at the rim ), a floater in the lane, or an outside jumper, he possesses the tools to put up points in bunches. Ball is a great decision maker with the ball in his hands, he has great height for the point guard position allowing him to survey the floor, he hits the roller on 74% of his PNR situations. In isolation he managed to score 1.21ppp at UCLA. He doesn’t always have the ball in his hands, when he doesn’t he scores 1.54ppp on cuts.

With what the Lakers seem to want to be doing, making a young, fast team who can score well in transition Lonzo’s game translates perfectly for that.  He’s an excellent transitional player 34% of assists came in transition. Not only passing but scoring as well, he plays at his best when he’s allowed to play at speed. Lonzo manages to see the play unfolding before him allowing him to make simple, but effective passes.
He was a large part of the reason UCLA had the #1 offence in the nation this season. The addition of Ball, as well as other draft hopeful T.J Leaf, helped the Bruins improved on their 15-17 record from the 2015-2016  to go a staggering 31-5 in the 2016-2017 season.

 

3 – Boston Celtics

Josh Jackson

Josh Jackson

Current season stats: 33.3mpg – 16.3ppg – 7.4rpg – 3.0apg – 54.9% 2-pt FG – 37.8% 3-pt FG – 56.6% FT

  • Height: 6’8″
  • Weight: 203lbs
  • Position: SF
  • School: Kansas
  • Class: Freshman

Though I feel Jayson Tatum is more developed and NBA ready at this point I feel Boston will draft Josh Jackson, a lot of teams are big on drafting Jackson, he has strong intangibles, as well as transferable skills that will benefit him at the next level.

He’s an excellent explosive athlete who plays well above the rim. Being a quick, powerful jumper helps Jackson be a productive rebounder, he’s active on the offensive glasses and keeps possessions alive for his team.

The former Jayhawk doesn’t need the ball in his hands to be efficient on offense, he is an instinctive cutter who fills lanes correctly, and at the right times to be able to finish. He finishes aggressively making defenders challenge him at the rim. When you do put the ball in his hands he has a solid post game with a good midrange jumper in his arsenal.

Jackson brings a defensive versatility to his team, he has a strong body as well as having good size, no only that but he can also switch onto a guard and stay in front of them on the perimeter with his good defensive footwork.

Although Jackson was a competent shooter in college he was streaky, he needs to improve his spot up shooting to really be a threat at the next level. He’s more than willing to handle the ball in the backcourt and the frontcourt, he tears down rebounds and pushes the pace, as well as being able to run PNR as the primary ball handler.

Jackson needs to channel his emotions better when he gets into the league, there’s no question he wants to win, he makes winning plays that coaches love (takes charges, dives for loose balls etc.) but when calls don’t go his way or he gets called for early fouls he lets his emotions affect how he plays and his game suffers because of it.

 

4 – Phoenix Suns

Jayson Tatum

Jayson Taytum

Current season stats: 33.3mpg – 16.8ppg – 7.3rpg – 2.1apg – 50.4% 2-pt FG – 34.2% 3-pt FG – 84.9% FT

  • Height: 6’9″
  • Weight: 204lbs
  • Position: SF
  • School: Duke
  • Class: Freshman

Tatum to me has the potential to be a Paul Pierce type player, he’s athlete, has a strong body, but most importantly he has great fundamental movement.  He has the size and length to play as wing in the NBA, he takes long strides and is able to get back into plays quickly. With Tatum you have the ability to play him at the 4 and play small ball. Capable grab and go transition player, when he doesn’t catch the rebound he sprints up the floor and the fills lanes correctly. The Paul Pierce comparison comes from his shot making both excellent mid-post scorers as well as being able to pass from that position. He has a good up fake to get his defender to react and allow him to drive to the basket.

During his lone season as a Blue Devil Tatum had a score first nature, he scored 1.22ppp when shooting unguarded catch & shoot jumpers, he still has a way to go with his shot but it improved over the course of the season. His post footwork is good, gives him the option to shoot over either shoulder. Attacks off the dribble as the PNR ball handler as well as in isolation situations, he drives hard and has the ability to finish above the rim. He’s a skilful enough to play 3 but has the physical intangibles to be able to play 4 and 5.

Phoenix need improvements at almost every position, though Tatum is yet to play a game in the NBA he is an experienced player, representing USA at u17 and u19 level and winning World Championships with both, as well as being a decorated high school player he’ll bring a winning pedigree and mentality to an organisation desperately in need of some identity.

 

5 – Sacramento Kings

De’Aaron Fox

Arkansas v Kentucky

Current season stats: 29.6mpg – 16.7ppg – 4.0rpg – 4.5apg – 52.1% 2-pt FG – 24.6% 3-pt FG – 73.6% FT

  • Height: 6’4″
  • Weight: 195lbs
  • Position: PG
  • School: University of Kentucky
  • Class: Freshman

Fox will help the team in a whole manner of ways. He’s the fastest player with the ball in his hands I’ve seen in a long time. He attempted 7.5 FTs per 40 minutes last season, this is due to him being able to get to the rim when he wants, his aggressive nature and shifty ball handling in transition making him a problem for defenders with 30.7% of his offence comes in transition, as well as 30% of his assists. Fox is a great athlete, a terrific leaper off of either 1 or 2 feet. His foot speed is elite level, Fox plays from slow to fast, his change of pace being devastating and leaves defenders in his wake.

He can score around the rim in a variety of ways, shooting 47% on floaters for the season as well as being able to score around the rim with either hand. He’s an excellent PNR ball handler, he’s makes good decisions, he punishes the switch with quick crosses and herky jerky hesitation moves but can also find the roller/popper as they relocate.

Though he is a questionable outside shooter his midrange jumper is quite reliable, he’ll have to improve a stretch his range out if he’s to be successful as a pro. Fox will likely make his biggest impact on the defensive side of the ball, don’t be fooled by the slight frame he’s a tough hard-nosed defender with great reaction time. Likes to pressure the ball and has the foot speed to allow him to recover. He has active hands in the passing lanes helping the bigs with light doubles on post ups and as the primary defender he sits well in his stance and slides his feet. Big game player his best game in a Wildcat uniform came against other draft hopeful Lonzo Ball, Fox locked Ball down holding him to 10 points on 4-10 shooting, whilst Fox scored a career high 39 points on an efficient 13-20 shooting night.

Like the Phoenix Suns the Kings need help at most positions if they intend on making the playoffs this upcoming season. Selecting De’Aaron Fox could be a step in the right way for an underachieving franchise. During the season De’Aaron played with his heart on his sleeve at time, which has it’s benefits and downfalls but to me the more passion the Kings can get out of their players the better they’ll be.

6 – Orlando Magic

Dennis Smith Jr

Dennis Smith Jr .jpg

Current season stats: 34.8mpg – 18.1ppg – 4.6rpg – 6.2apg – 50.9% 2-pt FG – 35.9% 3-pt FG – 71.5% FT

  • Height: 6’3″
  • Weight: 195lbs
  • Position: PG
  • School: North Carolina State
  • Class: Freshman

Smith Jr was  named ACC Rookie of the Year, as well as a Second Team All-Conference player. His powerful frame, mixed with his explosive speed and leaping ability. He has the framework to build off physically looking towards the NBA level, expect some highlight plays from Smith Jr.

Smith Jr is the best pure athlete at the point guard position in the draft  as well as being a very physical player. He’s a high flyer who likes to play well above the rim and give the crowd highlight plays to scream about. Not only will he be an asset on the offensive end his strength and quickness will help him to be a good defender guarding 1s and 2s, his low base helps him recover over screens with ease. He’s Westbrook like with his impressive downhill speed, and protection of the ball on drives. He attempts a healthy 6.9 FTA per 40 which means he forced the issue at the rim with his athletic ability.

When he plays on the ground he’s still very able, he’s fundamentally sound from triple threat position has the ability to blow by his defender, rise up and shoot, or find an open man. By trade Dennis is a score first PG he looks to score more than pass which isn’t necessarily a bad thing but he does need to improve his distribution, especially in PNR, he attacks well coming off of the screen but may become predictable at the next level. Smith Jr didn’t play with a tonne of elite prospects at college, which makes it harder to judge his ability to be a playmaker. His own scoring prowess made defences collapse and allowed him to find the open man because of it.

His drives may also become predictable at the next level, he attacks left in 75% of his isolation situations. Though he play predominantly on the ball he is a good spot up shooter, scoring 1.55ppp when shooting open.

Elfrid Payton is in his third season as the lead point guard for the struggling Orlando Magic, Coach Vogel has toyed with his system and line-ups throughout the season, sometimes starting Payton as well as sometimes bringing him off of the bench. His numbers are very similar regardless of whether he starts or not, this leaves space for Orlando to draft another PG, Dennis Smith Jr would be my choice for them moving forward.

7 – Minnesota Timberwolves

Jonathan Isaac

Jonathan Issac

Current season stats: 26.2mpg – 12.0ppg – 7.8rpg – 1.2apg – 59.3% 2-pt FG – 34.8% 3-pt FG – 78.0% FT

  • Height: 6’11”
  • Weight: 205lbs
  • Position: SF/PF
  • School: Florida State
  • Class: Freshman

Isaac had a late 6″ growth spurt when he was in high school which means he has guard like skills with his devastating wingspan his standing reach  (9’0.5″) is the average recorded reach for a centre, this will benefit him no end as a wing player. Though he is 6’11” he moves like a wing, like Kevin Durant he’s very light on his feet, with strong fluid movement. His height and reach allow him to  play well above the rim, scoring 1.316ppp at the rim, he’s 64.1% up close. He runs the floor well in transition with 14% of his offence coming from cuts. He’s a constant lob target off of backdoor cuts, active cutter 1.41ppp.

His versatile intangibles make it possible for him to be in the rare position to be able to check 1s, 2s, 3s & 4s at the next level he can switch almost everything in PNR/PNP situations. His stats show his willingness to compete on the defensive end.1.7spg and 2.2bpg per 40, he’s an active defender who competes by making multiple effort plays. His length lets him stunt and recover. Slides his feet well for a 6’11” player, as well as being a good positional player taking charges and making players alter their shots.

Though he’s not yet elite on offence he can do a little of everything being a capable spot up jumper is where most of his points come from, in fact 32% of his offence comes from spotting up. He needs to improve his shooting from range and off dribble. He has good offensive footwork to get a shot over either shoulder in the post

Another player in this draft who can grab and go, his slim frame doesn’t help him on the glass but his length makes up for his lack of size. He has impressive rebounding numbers for slight frame, he also crashes the glass well from the perimeter on offence and defence.

It’s unclear what Minnesota will do in this off season with their current pursuit of perennial All-Stars Jimmy Butler and Paul George  looming large Isaac is certainly a player for the future. A line-up of Rubio, LaVine, Wiggins, Isaac, Towns would be exciting to watch for Timberwolves fans.

8 – New York Knicks

Lauri Markkanen

Lauri Markkenen

Current season stats: 30.8mpg – 15.6ppg – 7.2rpg – 0.9apg – 54.5% 2-pt FG – 42.3% 3-pt FG – 83.5% FT

  • Height: 7’0″
  • Weight: 225lbs
  • Position: PF
  • School: Arizona
  • Class: Freshman

Lauri Markkanen has terrific upside, coming off of a great freshman season at Arizona where he scored more 3 pointers than any 7 footer in the NCAA in the last 17 years. He has a good stroke, every shot is on balance and has a soft touch. Where he really excels is coming off of screens going to his left, he has the size advantage on pull ups to not be bothered by contesting defenders, he proved that by scoring 1.3ppp on guarded catch and shoot attempts.

He’ll be a very useful floor spacer at the NBA level, especially in a triangle offence.  He possesses fantastic shooting fundamentals, there’s no wasted energy in his movement, his size and lean on his jumper mean he can get the shot off whenever he wants. 1.22ppp in PNP situations when he runs a 4/5 PNR as the ball handler.

You can run plays for him out of timeouts as well as from inbounds to get an open shot, he’s very agile for his height and runs well off of screens, sorting his footwork quickly. Though his face up post game isn’t as polished as maybe desired he draws the double and is a willing passer to cutters and spot up shooters on the weak side of the floor.

With his height he’s expected to be a poor defender out on the perimeter but that’s not the case, he’s a good closeout defender, understands angles and spacing well, stays down on shooters and contests with verticality. He’s not going to jump out of the gym or beat you with a lightening fast quick first step but defenders have to respect his shooting ability, Markkanen knows this and exploits it with his textbook fakes and quick spin moves.

The ceiling for a good stretch 4 in the right offence is sky high, though it isn’t seeming to work with Porzingis at New York for whatever reason Phil Jackson may look to bring in new blood to play the big in his triangle offence, Markkanen is certainly the best available player to fill that role. If this is the case look for New York to trade Porzingis and Carmelo Anthony for an experienced point guard and some good role players.

9 – Dallas Mavericks

Frank Ntilikina

Frank Ntilikina

Current season stats: 19.2mpg – 5.3ppg – 2.3rpg – 1.5apg – 47.8% 2-pt FG – 39.1% 3-pt FG – 60.0% FT

  • Height: 6’5″
  • Weight: 170lbs
  • Position: PG
  • School: International – France  
  • Class: Freshman (’98 born)

Don’t let the stats fool you, Ntilikina is one of the youngest players in his professional league in France, he was productive on a good team. His role will expand when he gets to the NBA and with that his stats will increase. He is the #1 international prospect in this draft, he has excellent height and wingspan for a PG, a smooth athlete with a thin, wiry frame but he will fill out over time. His length allows him to play 1/2/3 on offence and defence.

He reminds me of a young Kawhi Leonard at San Diego State. His defensive tools separate him from other PG prospects, with his quick feet and length. Very competitive, sits down in his stance, slides his feet well, fights over screens allowing the big to recover in PNR situations. A willing defender who likes to press

On offence he uses his height to survey the floor and get open shots, he plays above the rim in space. His Long strides in the open floor help him beat defenders up the court, he plays bully ball on smaller defenders posting them up when the opportunity arises. He’s an improving jump shooter, needs time and space for his pull up jumper but he scored 1.492ppp on unguarded catch and shoot jumpers on the season. He doesn’t need to ball in his hands to make an impact he cuts well scoring 1.083ppp around the basket.

He’s a good PNR ball handler, he’s patient with his passing picks his spots so that he doesn’t turn it over at a high rate. He will make mistakes, he needs to be at a team that will allow him to play through them. PG skills are coming but for now he stays in his lane. Plays high IQ basketball with his head up

His season in France will benefit him adapting to NBA lifestyle, he’s used to basketball being a job and not something he does at college. He’s still only 18 with a super high work ethic, Dallas need a fresh face to help them make the playoffs this year, Frank could walk straight into a starting spot on Rick Carlisle’s squad.

10 – Sacramento Kings

Malik Monk

Malik Monk

Current season stats: 32.1mpg – 19.8ppg – 2.5rpg – 2.3apg – 49.7% 2-pt FG – 39.7% 3-pt FG – 82.2% FT

  • Height: 6’4″
  • Weight: 197lbs
  • Position: SG
  • School: Kentucky
  • Class: Freshman
Monk is probably the most NBA ready player in this class, he’s a natural scorer, and that’s what he loves to do. He’s an explosive athlete who plays high above the rim, he’s a highlight tape player. Throughout the season he scored 30+ points 4 times, as well as having a huge 47 point outing against eventual national champs, North Carolina.
Monk is not a leader from the 2 guard spot like a Dwyane Wade or a Brandon Roy he’s more like a Lou Williams or a Monta Ellis, capable players but need their point guard to be the lead player. He scores well off of quick actions, he’s not ball dominant. He’s a confident shooter from anywhere, baseline, midrange and well beyond the college 3 point line.
30% of Monk’s offence comes from him stepping into transition 3pt attempts, if he’s chased off the of 3 point line he has a good 1 dribble pull up that he manages to score 1.01ppp with. He also has the ability to lose his defender and scored 1.0ppp coming off of screens. His jump shot opens up driving lanes for him to show off his athleticism, he has a great first step going either way. He’s very much a score first player, but makes basic passes, hits the roller/pop man for 1.31ppp as PNR ball handler, throws accurate lobs, drop offs to bigs after penetration.
Though he has good lateral quickness which helps him guard PGs he doesn’t have elite length to guard top SGs in the NBA, he also needs to be motivated to defend consistently throughout the game. When he’s engaged he chases shooters off of screens well, needs to crash the boards more and try and help his team gang rebound.
How poetic would it be for Kentucky’s starting backcourt to once again become teammates at Sacramento? It could definitely happen, as I mentioned earlier the Kings need help in most departments Monk brings a lot of energy with him and would be an instant impact on this team, as well as quickly becoming a fan favourite.
http://www.espn.com/
http://basketball-reference.com/
http://www.draftexpress.com/

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