This is a deep draft. Originally I planned on doing 10 prospects, but I struggled to find only 10 spots. I went back and forth between multiple prospects and felt these 5 were who I felt most confident hitching my wagon to in the end. Without further ado, here is the Hash Sports NBA 2017 Big Board. Note: This is not a mock draft. This is just the 5 prospects I like the most.
1. Markelle Fultz, Washington, Guard
Fultz was recently described as a 6’4 version of Tracy McGrady. He averaged 24 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists (from here on I will refer to numbers as points-rebounds-assists, so Fultz for example was 24-6-6) on a Washington team that was garbage. He played with garbage teammates. His shooting splits were pretty good for one-man show; he shot nearly 48% FG/41% 3PT/65% FT. Some scouts point to FT% as being a good indicator of a college players ability to translate to 3PT% in the NBA. While Fultz 65% isn’t great it isn’t in red flag territory.
His main concerns come from his seemingly passive demeanor and his atrocious defensive play. I chalk this up to being on a terrible team, having to expend all his energy on offense and not the passive demeanor because the minute he stepped into the practice facility he realized it was him and a bunch of scrubs. in his defense, he was expecting Marquese Chriss and Dejounte Murray playing alongside him; their draft stock soared and they rightly chose to enter the NBA Draft.
2. Josh Jackson, Kansas, Forward
Josh Jackson is versatile. You will hear that a million times during the draft, after the draft, during the season and beyond. He’s a great team defender. He excels as a secondary ball handler and can make great passes in transition leading to easy buckets. He’s also a monster in transition. He averaged 16-7.5-3 while at Kansas offensively. He averaged almost 2 steals per game and over a block per game defensively. So, like I said, versatile. His shooting splits are also good with one noticeable exception serving as a red flag. He shot 51/38/55. It’s the 55% FT% that scares me.
Studies show that under 56% means there could be problems shooting 3 pointers in the league. He has a funny hitch, but the shit started going in from January – March when the game slowed down. So, is he the guy that was 7/26 (27%) from 3-point land in November and December that teams would leave wide open begging him to take a shot? Or is he the guy that shot 27/54 (on four 3 point attempts) and shot 50%? That’s the big question.
3. De’Aron Fox, Kentucky, Guard
Lightning quick, but a small frame. Made Lonzo Ball his BITCH in the Sweet 16. Fox’s jumper isn’t as bad as Jackson’s, form-wise, but he averaged 17-4-4.5 on 48/24.5/74 shooting splits. So at least the FT stroke offers some optimism that Fox can become a competent NBA shooter. He also loves locking up the opposing team’s PG, evidenced by his 1.5 steals per game.
I am hearing a lot of Mike Conley and I love that for him as Conley was also billed as cat-quick PG coming out of Ohio State, and his main knock was his shooting. Conley has become a perennially underrated PG in the NBA and a true floor leader. With his infectious charm, attitude and leadership abilities, Fox could become a very good PG in the league.
4. Jayson Tatum, Duke, Forward
Tatum gets buckets. Think Carmelo; Think Danny Granger in the 2008-09 – 2010-11 seasons. He is a bucket-getter. Late in the shot clock he can make things happen in ISO sets. Tatum averaged 17-7-2 offensively while also contributing 1.2 and 1.1 blocks per game, but no one will mistake Tatum as an impact defender. He’s an offensive threat. First, second, and third. His shooting splits were moderately good at 45/34/85. 85% FT was on almost 5 attempts per game. He should come in Day 1 and average 17 ppg.
5. Jonathan Isaac, Florida St, Forward
More about potential than production, Jonathan Isaac is looooooong listed at 6’10 with a 7’1 wingspan. I love the defensive potential Isaac brings to the table. Offensively, he averaged 12-8-1, defensively was much better using those long arms to rack up 1.2 spg and 1.5 bpg during his freshman year at Florida St. His shooting splits, while on volume, was a respectable 51/35/78. After watching the NBA Finals, if Isaac can morph into a Kevin Durant-esque small ball fly-swatting rim protector then I see a very high ceiling on the kid
MIA: Lonzo Ball, UCLA, Guard
There’s just something about that Sweet 16 game…going head to head vs Fox that sticks in my craw. He was dominated mentally and physically. His father is for sure a distraction that I wouldn’t want to put up with…ever. But it’s more than that. Lonzo has trouble creating his own shot. Midrange is a dying art in the NBA but name me a great NBA player that doesn’t have it in his bag of skills… I’ll wait, Lonzo doesn’t. He made 189 FGs last year at UCLA; 80 3-pointers and of the 109 2-point FGs he made, only 7 were outside the restricted area. Don’t get me wrong. If things go right for Lonzo we could be seeing Jason Kidd 2.0. If things wrong I’m not sure he is any better than Michael Carter-Williams.