2017 NBA Draft Big Board
Editor's note: I am a huge 76ers fan, so (unfortunately) I pay very close attention to the draft prospects throughout the college season (seriously, I’m likely one of six people who watched Washington more than once this past season. Okay I watched them only two times). My big board rankings are not based on the Sixers needs but I am sure there is some influence on these rankings, no matter how hard I try to shield that from my thought process (PROCESS, TRUST IT). I also did my very best to compile these rankings based off my eyes and thoughts, not “consensus” rankings. It’s hard to throw out the “experts” takes, but I did my best. And while I watch more college hoops then the average fan, it’s certainly tough to watch enough to get a good sense of certain players, so I relied heavily on YouTube (seriously, what an amazing tool). With that noted, here is the 2017 #KunkelBigBoard, going from 15 to 1.
15: Zach Collins: As Gonzaga made their run to the title, the nation saw just how good this kid is. I’m probably a little low on him, and won’t be shocked if he gets drafted in the top 10.
14: Harry Giles: This dude was the number one recruit in the country before a bunch of injuries killed his freshman year at Duke. I think he should have returned to school and refined his game, but he oozes potential with his frame and physical tools. We’ve seen the impact a guy like Tristan Thompson has had in Cleveland. Given time to develop, Giles could be a steal for a team outside of the top 10.
13: Justin Jackson: Speaking of going back to school, Jackson certainly showed that he made the right call. On way to a national title, he developed almost every aspect of his game. There are some very good playoff caliber teams that could eye trading up for Jackson, who doesn’t have the ceiling like some in this class, but will be ready to contribute right away. Jackson could be a very good “3 and D” wing if he can refine some of the defensive tools.
12: Lauri Markkanen: The first real wildcard for me. The jump shot is elite, and at a legit 7’0 that is scary. But he stinks on defense and can’t really rebound well for his size. In the right role, I think he could really thrive. I think it’s funny that many have him going to Dallas to replace Dirk. I would bet a lot that he won’t be “the next Dirk” as some have compared. With that said I do think that’s a great spot with Nerlens Noel running the floor, cleaning the glass and protecting the rim.
11: Frank Ntilikina: If Markkanen is the first wildcard, Ntilikina --so happy this is an article not a podcast. I have zero idea if I’ll ever be able to pronounce that-- is the biggest wild card. He’s long. SUPER long. But he’s also very young, and needs a lot of work offensively. He’s the only guy on this list that I did not get to watch live. Most scouts who study Europe think he’s got the tools to be a versatile, elite defender. He has a 7’0 wingspan and is still just 18 years old. All indications are that side of the ball won’t be a problem. But can he play on this level offensively? If he can, he could be one of the best players in this loaded draft.
10: Jayson Tatum: Shocker! No seriously, I’m a little shocked I ended up here. I loved Tatum for most of the season. He took game’s over. But hear me out. He relies so much on having the ball to be effective. It was like I was watching Rudy Gay 2.0. Folks Rudy Gay is a really good NBA player, but there is a reason he keeps getting moved. That type of player isn’t what the new NBA is about. The jump shot is streaky, he’s a below average passer, and the defense went in and out. There are not 10 players more talented than Tatum, but can he be efficient enough?
9: Luke Kennard: And you were just thinking “this Duke hater.” I am HERE for Luke Kennard. The stones man. The fucking stones on this dude. Watch Luke Kennard for more than a few minutes. He is a BALLER. Smooth lefty. Best shooter in the draft, 6-6 wing and a ton of DOG in him. Sure, he might not be the next incarnation of Khawi Lenoard on defense (okay not even close), but he has size and tenacity to be effective on that side. Luke Kennard will be one of the best 10 players from this loaded draft. BOOK IT.
8: Malik Monk: Monk can flat out shoot it and take over games. He loves the big shot. If he’s a more efficient version of JR Smith I don’t think any team would be mad. He’s a little small, and there are a lot of other questions. Can he guard? Is he a little small to take games over in the playoffs, when play is much more physical? Maybe his biggest issue is versatility. The NBA is all about versatility, and Monk is a small (6-3ish) and doesn’t feature elite athleticism like his backcourt mate. But man, he can shoot. And that’ll get you far in the NBA in the year 2017.
7: Jon Issac: There is a chance that I (and many others) look back in five years and wonder why the hell they didn’t pencil Issac in at number one and start from there. The tools are incredible. 6-11, can shoot it well --35 percent from three, 78 percent from the line-- and is basically a more athletic and taller Draymond Green on YouTube. But does Issac want it? He disappeared at times while playing for a very deep FSU team. I don’t think Issac has the offensive talent to ever be a superstar, but he could be the best “3 and D” wing in the league while screwing over opposing coaches game plans.
6: Lonzo Ball: This is probably the worst place to put Lonzo. He’s either going to be a superstar, or a huge bust. I’m convinced. Let’s look at just the basketball stuff. Great size, good athlete, incredibly unselfish. His passing is so fun. The jump shot is WEIRD. No other way to put it. Will that work in the NBA? Great question. It hasn’t hurt him yet, but now he’ll be defended by bigger dudes and the three point line is farther. He lacks blow by speed in the halfcourt and that could be a huge issue in the NBA if his jumper is a problem. Either way, in transition you can see why he gets Magic comparisons. Next, we can’t simply ignore the off the court stuff. His Dad could be the toughest defender he’ll face. The pressure will be IMMENSE from day one. I’m still not sure if going to LA would be a good or bad thing for Lonzo. I do think we’ll find out. I would be shocked if the Lakers passed on him.
5: De’aaron Fox: He’s so so so fast. He’s so so so John Wall 2.0 athletically speaking. But he cannot shoot. Probably number one or two on my list if he could. However, with good coaching and hard work he could develop the shot. Form looks good. Shot 74 percent from the free throw line. That’s a good place to start. But he needs to develop the shot, then develop the confidence to actually use it. I would love to see Phoenix take him and move Eric Bledsoe for a good big man or wing. There is a reason the Lakers are taking a look at number two, and Philadelphia will take a hard look at three. He checks every single box for the modern day point guard….except the most important one.
4: Josh Jackson: Explosive as hell. He’s the wing version of Fox. I have him higher because of the size difference. Jackson is a 6-8 combo forward that can guard one through four. I think he’ll be the best defender in the draft. He’s going to absolutely YAM on some people. He *copy/pastes from above* checks every box...but the most important box. And unlike Fox (form wise) the jumper looks like it will need major work. There is a major hitch in it. The 38 percent three point percentage is a little misleading because he got very hot at the end of the season. 56 percent from the line makes me puke. I penciled Jackson in at three for the Sixers the moment I saw the logo pop up on lotto night. I’ve backtracked a bit. Name one elite NBA wing that flat out can’t shoot. Kidd-Gilchrist might be the best, and he is far from elite. Jackson will be a very good player, but will need to either A) Develop at least a reliable shot or B) go to a team where the shot won’t hold him back. Not to harp on it too much, but it’s the difference from a Paul George/Jimmy Butler type player, and MKG type player.
3: Donovan Mitchell: We’ve gotten to the guy that will make or break my big board (accuracy wise). I had to sit down many times and stop using national consensus in anyway here. Donovan Mitchell is made for the NBA in 2017. He is a BALLER who can do just about everything well, and some things great. As I watched I kept thinking a mesh of Brad Beal and Avery Bradley. At 6-3, he has super long arms that allow him to play longer than his height suggests (6’10 wingspan!!!). He’s so smooth offensively, has a beautiful shot (36 percent from three last year, 80 percent from the line). Defensively, he’s a flat out beast. This is where I kept seeing Avery Bradley. The length (again, 6-10 wingspan!!!!), the body (he’s freaking chiselled) and smarts (first team all ACC and first team all defense). He’ll be ready to contribute from day one on that end. Give the offense some time, and you’re looking at a multi time all star. Let’s go Donovan Mitchell.
2: Dennis Smith Jr: All the tools, can score from anywhere on the offensive end, features a very nice looking shot. If he didn’t waste away at NC State I think he would be getting more national coverage. There is no way there are three better players in this draft. Some suggest he has some effort issues, and maybe the attitude could use some work, but I can’t fault him too much. NC State was a train wreck. He’ll also be two years away from an ACL tear that may had limited him some last season, which is scary because he was already a top three pure athlete. He’s too athletic to not be at least a decent defender. He might be a little short (6-3, and 6-3 wingspan) but the hops make up for it. I see a ton of Dam Lillard in his game, and he’s certainly a better athlete. Yikes! I’ve officially started my #GetDSJtoPhilly campaign.
1: Markelle Fultz: How many of you have actually watched Fultz? I hope the answer is low, because it takes a sick minded human to want to stay up and watch that Washington team. They were TERRIBLE. But Fultz was not. The hype is real. He is a STUD. He can score from all over. Great athlete. Super smooth. Just watch this, and you’ll see why he’s the consensus number one pick. That won’t change here. Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DS1qL99qYzo&t=29s