2017 NBA Draft – The Other Guys

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For those of us who support teams that are unlikely to make the playoffs, once the trade deadline has come and gone we instinctively turn towards the upcoming draft. After all, we all need to get excited about something. Who can we get? Who will help? Who is even out there? These are the questions that I constantly ask as a Charlotte Hornets fan that has given up on the season.

If you are looking for a quick introduction to our 2017 NBA Draft projected Top 10, check out Sam’s Early Look from mid January. It will tell you all you need to know for the top prospects, even if some have fallen since (looking at you Rabb!). After the conclusion of the NCAA Tournament, Sam will be back with a revised lottery and then we will both hit a post Draft Lottery Mock Draft after that. TFPP will then of course, finish it all off with a full First Round Mock Draft just before the ’17 Draft. So, keep your eyes glued for all of those! But in the mean time, let’s take a look at “The Other Guys”.

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2017 NBA Draft Outlook – Standings as of March 19, 2017.

As the NCAA March Madness Tournament kicks into gear, I delve into the players that may be available after the lottery. Guys like Markelle Fultz, Lonzo Ball (plus Lonzo Ball’s father) and Josh Jackson are already household names, but there is talent that exists behind them. The depth of the 2017 draft stretches far into the second round with enough talent to help teams that hold later picks. Take a look at the current draft pick outlook above and pay special attention to those teams listed 15-30.

What follows is not necessarily an order of where we think the listed players will be drafted. The draft range will help outline where we currently see each player and the needs of the teams that sit in that draft range are taken into consideration for who could use them. So without further ado, let me introduce you to ten guys you may want to pay attention to.


DONOVAN MITCHELL – LOUISVILLE/ SOPHOMORE/ GUARD

Physical profile: 6’3″ and 210lbs with a (thought to be) 6’11” wingspan
Age: 20 years old
Pro position: Shooting Guard, with the potential to play as a combo guard in certain lineups
Plays a little like: Eric GordonBen Gordon
Draft Range: 20-25
Who could use him? Nets, Raptors and Magic
The numbers (33 games): 15.5ppg, 4.8rpg, 2.7apg, 2.1spg, 0.5bpg, 2.3 3pg, 46%fg, 35% 3fg, 81%ft in 32mpg

For mine, Donovan Mitchell is the most likely in the 2017 class to pull a Dion Waiters. In 2012, Waiters was considered a 20s draft selection (just as Mitchell is now) but as more and more teams got intrigued with his scoring ability, the more traction he gathered. The intrigue in Waiter’s snowballed, ultimately ending up as the fourth overall pick.

The end result may not be the same for Mitchell, but like Waiters, Mitchell’s scoring ability cannot be questioned. He reminds one a bit of Eric Gordon; an undersized but wide bodied shooting guard who isn’t afraid to absorb contact and finish at the rim. In his second college year, he has become a more consistent outside shooter and on the back of that development he has shown an adept ability to create through step-backs and the like – similar to Ben Gordon in that regard.

The team who selects him will get a handy scorer/ shooter off the bench at the very least. He has shown the ability to create as a Point Guard when he has been given the opportunity through injury to his teammates and whilst he cannot be described as a natural, certainly shows some potential to adapt to part-time Point Guard duties at the NBA level with time.


ZACH COLLINS – GONZAGA/ FRESHMAN/ CENTRE

Physical profile: 7’0″ and 230lbs with a 7’0″ wingspan
Age: 19 years old
Pro position: Wiry Centre with good skills and a good feel for the game.
Plays a little like: A higher ceiling version Of Channing Frye.
Draft Range: 14-19
Who could use him? Bulls, Hawks & Blazers
The numbers (35 games): 10.3ppg, 5.7rpg, 0.4apg, 0.5spg, 1.7bpg, 0.3 3pg, 68%fg, 45% 3fg, 75%ft in 17mpg

Zach Collins is one of the more interesting prospects in the upcoming draft. Young, athletic and talented. He comes off the bench for a Gonzaga team that earned a number 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Przemek Karnowski (yes I did copy and paste his name, thanks for asking) – a Senior – starts.

But Collins’ impact off the bench is huge, and has proven to be one of the most efficient players in College ball. Just check out his per 40 minute stats: 24.2 ppg, 13.4 rpg, 0.9 apg, 1.2 spg and 4.0 bpg. And whilst he doesn’t set bone crunching screens (he like most freshman centres need to bulk up), he sets effective ones, and can roll or pop as required.

He can also shoot the long-ball, and has a pretty decent post-up game. You may wonder that after all this positivism, why isn’t he higher up on draft boards? There is every chance Collins will go in the lottery, such is his impact and potential. What may hold him back however is the 17 minutes a game he plays on a Gonzaga team that doesn’t play against any future-NBA potential big’s. The element of risk for scouts may just hold him back and may hold Collins back from even declaring. A deep run by the ‘Zags in the Tournament could be massive for Collins’ stock though.


JUSTIN PATTON – CREIGHTON/ FRESHMAN/ CENTRE

Physical profile: 6’11” and 215lbs with a 7’3″ wingspan
Age: 19 years old
Pro position: Back-up Centre initially, moving towards a full time gig.
Plays a little like: Thon Maker
Draft Range: 15-20
Who could use him? Nets, Bulls & Pacers.
The numbers (34 games): 12.9ppg, 6.1rpg, 1.2apg, 0.9spg, 1.4bpg, 0.2 3pg, 68%fg, 57% 3fg, 52%ft in 24mpg

Like Zach Collins, Justin Patton is a very interesting case. His growth profile is very similar to Anthony Davis in that he had always been a guard and then a sudden growth spurt pushed him towards the 7 foot range, all the while maintaining the skills that went along with being a guard.

Unlike Anthony Davis however, Patton hasn’t taken to being a big man as quickly, nor has he retained the skill set of a guard to the same degree as the Brow. Also unlike Davis, Patton signed with Creighton very quickly, taking himself out of the running for all the big-name schools, which as always raises that question about how much can you garner talent when that talent doesn’t go up against comparative opposition night in, night out?

Like 90% of big men entering the NBA, Patton needs to get bigger to compete at the next level. But the basics are there. He has shown an increased ability to create for himself on the low block, as well as a nifty ability to hit the long-range ball. Some more polish will go along way to helping Patton become a very good NBA centre with time.

I liken Patton to current Milwaukee Buck Thon Maker, which is another way of saying, “long, athletic, more highly skilled than your average big guy but doesn’t deserve the Kevin Garnett or Anthony Davis comparisons… yet.”


LUKE KENNARD – DUKE/ SOPHOMORE/ GUARD

Physical profile: 6’5″and 187lbs with a 6’5″ wingspan
Age: 20 years old
Pro position: Wing Shooter.
Plays a little like: Kyle Korver
Draft Range: 20-25
Who could use him? Everyone wants more shooting.
The numbers (36 games): 19.8ppg, 5.2rpg, 2.5apg, 0.8spg, 0.4bpg, 2.4 3pg, 53%fg, 44% 3fg, 85%ft in 36mpg

Another Duke Blue Devil who can shoot the piss out of the ball when he’s on, following a prestigious line of Dukies that includes Kyle Singler and JJ Reddick. Grayson Allen was supposed to be the Duke wing that combined with Jayson Tatum to form the main scoring punch for Coach Mike Krzyzewski, but instead, due to various sulking and tripping incidents, it has been Luke Kennard that has become the go to wing shooter.

In the modern-day NBA, every team looks to add shooting in the off-season. It will go down as the singular most important skill in basketball of the last decade, and so players like Kennard will almost always get an initial opportunity on an NBA roster. The perfect shooters are now also the best defenders (the 3-and D-players), and whilst Kennard’s defence isn’t the greatest due to his below average foot speed, so good is his shot and his basketball IQ, that he should be able to find his way on a roster by the middle of the first round.


TERRANCE FERGUSON – ADELAIDE/ INTERNATIONAL/ GUARD

Physical profile: 6’7″ and 186lbs with a 6’10” wingspan
Age: 18 years old
Pro position: Wing
Plays a little like: Jeremy Lamb
Draft Range: 18-23
Who could use him? Magic, Thunder & Nets
The numbers (30 games): 4.6ppg, 1.1rpg, 0.6apg, 0.2spg, 0.3bpg, 0.7 3pg, 38%fg, 31% 3fg, 67%ft in 15mpg

Terrance Ferguson raised a few eyebrows when he decided to forgo college basketball, and test himself at the professional level. This has been done before (Emmanuel Mudiay in China, Brandon Jennings in Europe), but none had come all the way to Australia to do it.

Ferguson projects himself almost strictly as a shooter/3&D guy at the NBA level initially, but has the first step and explosiveness to become a threat off the bounce over time. Right now, he lacks that creativity to be an effective slasher unless it’s on a straight line drive, and even then, his lack of upper body strength may be seen as a liability to finish at the rim amongst the big boys. However, Ferguson’s ability to use screens to create space either for a shot, or to put the ball on the deck improved as the NBL season went on, and could translate quickly in the NBA environment.

He still needs to bulk up to be able to take the day-in-day-out pounding that goes with being a shooter who can use screens in the NBA, but the potential has always been there, and – at the very least – could prove to be a very handy addition to an NBA roster.


MILES BRIDGES – MICHIGAN STATE/ FRESHMAN/ FORWARD

Physical profile: 6’6″ and 226lbs with a 6’9″ wingspan
Age: 19 years old
Pro position: Small ball PF, high energy wing.
Plays a little like: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
Draft Range: 12-17
Who could use him? Blazers, Nuggets & Pacers. 
The numbers (27 games): 16.7ppg, 8.3rpg, 2.1apg, 0.7spg, 1.6bpg, 2.0 3pg, 55%fg, 39% 3fg, 69%ft in 32mpg

Miles Bridges may end up becoming the most divisive talent in this years draft pool from a positional perspective. His athleticism and strength cannot be questioned, but at 6’6/ 6’7 and his best position at power forward, his ‘tweener’ status may work against him.

Potentially, Bridges will have the ability to be a very handy addition to teams seeking flexibility – especially for a second unit – and being able to be a handy ‘power’ forward in a small ball line-up. His wing play has improved as the season has gone on, but he more forces his way to the rim with brute strength as opposed to creatively finding a path.

If he can improve his ball handling and become more of a consistent threat from three point range (he has a very low release point, though he is shooting 39% thus far as a freshman which shows promise), Bridges could potentially convert himself to a Michael Kidd-Gilchrist style wing. Defensive minded first, high energy offensive guy second.


BAM ADEBAYO – KENTUCKY/ FRESHMAN/ CENTRE

Physical profile: 6’10” and 250lbs with a 7’2″ wingspan
Age: 19 years old
Pro position: High energy Centre
Plays a little like: Miles Plumlee
Draft Range: 20-25
Who could use him? Nets, Magic & Jazz.
The numbers (35 games): 13.3ppg, 8.1rpg, 0.7apg, 0.7spg, 1.5bpg, 0.0 3pg, 61%fg, 0% 3fg, 66%ft in 30mpg

Bam Adebayo (unsurprisingly nicknamed Bam-Bam) is a player that could slip due to the lack of a point of difference in his skill set. As a centre, he lacks height, a dominant low post game and perimeter shooting ability. However, he is explosive athletically for a guy with his strength.

Playing alongside likely top-10 picks De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk at Kentucky, Bam-Bam gets most of his points in ‘high effort’ offence: rolling after picks, in transition and offensive boards. If he can continue to improve his low post offence and pick-and-roll defence, he could be a very handy player for a team at the back end of the draft.

High energy bigs almost always find a role in the NBA, and Bam-Bam should be no different.


DWAYNE BACON – FLORIDA STATE/ SOPHOMORE/ GUARD

Physical profile: 6’5″ and 202lbs with a 6’10” wingspan
Age: 21 years old
Pro position: Wing
Plays a little like: Rashad Vaughn
Draft Range: 25-30
Who could use him? Jazz, Spurs & Lakers
The numbers (35 games): 17.2ppg, 4.2rpg, 1.7apg, 1.0spg, 0.1bpg, 1.6 3pg, 52%fg, 33% 3fg, 75%ft in 30mpg

How many Bacon-related puns will be made when Dwayne Bacon heats up from long range? ‘He’s starting to sizzle? Bacon is cooking?’ Bacon is a guy that can purely score. Long and athletic, he has demonstrated an ability to get to/finish at the rim and an ability to shoot from range. He could have entered the draft last year, and would have been a first-round pick. Instead he stayed at Florida State.

His biggest weakness has got to do with his basketball IQ. As athletic as he is, as talented a scorer as he is, he doesn’t yet have the ability to create offence for himself at an NBA level. Rashad Vaughn was similar in that regard, and has yet to make an impact of the bench for the Bucks. If Bacon can continue to improve his jump shot and his defence, he could become a handy 3-and-D guy. If not, he’ll have to rely on good bench point guards to help him get quality looks.


JUSTIN JACKSON – NORTH CAROLINA/ JUNIOR/ FORWARD

Physical profile: 6’8″ and 193lbs with a 6’11” wingspan
Age: 22 years old
Pro position: Wing
Plays a little like: Otto Porter Jnr
Draft Range: 13-18
Who could use him? Bulls, Heat & Pistons
The numbers (34 games): 18.3ppg, 4.7rpg, 2.7apg, 0.6spg, 0.2bpg, 2.1 3pg, 51%fg, 38% 3fg, 74%ft in 32mpg

Justin Jackson has always been on scout radar’s throughout his college career. The major issue holding him back was always his shooting, but as a Junior, he has improved significantly, forcing his way into the first round of the 2017 draft. For perspective, in his first two seasons in college, he was shooting just under 30% from three. In his Junior season, that has jumped to just over 38%. He came up big in North Carolina’s close loss against Kentucky, dropping 34 points.

He is a little thin – especially for a player that is not a natural shooter – and will need to put on weight to compete in the NBA. But he’s a smart player who can score when required, and shows the ability to score in NBA situations (pin down screens, step backs etc), which should definitely help trying to find a role in the NBA.


JONAH BOLDEN – FMP BELGRADE/ INTERNATIONAL/ FORWARD

Physical profile: 6’10” and 227lbs with a 7’3″ wingspan
Age: 21 years old
Pro position: Face up Power Forward/ Part time Small Forward.
Plays a little like: Al-Farouq Aminu
Draft Range: 40-45
Who could use him? Nets, Hornets, Bulls, Lakers & Magic.
The numbers (25 games): 12.9ppg, 7.2rpg, 1.8apg, 1.0spg, 1.0bpg, 1.8 3pg, 47%fg, 42% 3fg, 59%ft in 28mpg

BONUS: Aussie draftee alert!

In hindsight, Jonah Bolden’s decision to leave UCLA after only two seasons (one of which he missed entirely) may be a little curious. But the Aussie phenom has cast aside any doubts of his NBA level potential playing for FMP Belgrade in the Euroleague.

Bolden has shown on more than one occasion the ability to get to the rim and finish with authority, as well as demonstrated the ability to hit the long ball, recently finishing 7/7 from deep in a game against Cedevita.

At 6’9, Bolden lacks the explosive first step to be able to constantly get to the rim at an NBA level, to be a true wing. Nor does he have the body to bang against NBA power forwards on the block. Where Bolden will find the most success in the NBA is as a face-up combo forward who can exploit mismatches on the second unit.

He is likely to be a second round pick, and may stay stashed away in International competition before a team is ready and willing to bring him over, but one cannot deny his talent.


Massive thanks must go to http://www.sports-reference.com for all the statistics and Frankie VisionReborn HD Highlights and the Hoops Column for all the videos.

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One thought on “2017 NBA Draft – The Other Guys

  1. Pingback: 30 for 30 + Final TFPP Mock Draft | THE FOUR POINT PLAY

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