With the college basketball season now over, the top prospects will be training and looking forward to the NBA Draft in June. This is an important time for both the players being drafted and the teams doing the drafting. Teams will need to choose a player who they think will fit in well with their current roster, and help them in the future, while players will be hoping a team with the tools to help them develop will draft them. Here are my top prospects for the upcoming draft.
Markelle Fultz is considered the front runner to be taken with the No. 1 pick.
1. Markelle Fultz, G, Washington
No matter who gets the top pick in the draft, they will be taking Fultz. He already has the skill set to be a productive every day player in the NBA and he will only improve. His defense is the one area that needs work, but landing with a coach who can help with that should turn him into a top player one day
2. Lonzo Ball, G, UCLA
The only team that might take Ball over Fultz is the Lakers, but Ball is a good bet to be a star one day too. He can change the pace and look of a team immediately. His downfalls are his lack of athleticism and his funky jump shot that may get him into trouble at the next level if he can’t fix his form.
3. Josh Jackson, F, Kansas
The 6’8” forward is projecting to be a top-3 pick in the draft due to his combination of size, athleticism, and defense. A lot of the NBA bottom dwellers could use a perimeter defender like him, but his jump shot improved in final months of the season, showing he could develop into a primary offensive weapon.
4. Jonathon Isaac, F, Florida State
Isaac doesn’t get a lot of attention, but he could be a star one day. He can shoot the 3 well and has the size and speed to play defense against other bigs as well. He will be a matchup nightmare.
5. Lauri Markkanen, F, Arizona
At his highest, Markkanen projects to be the next Dirk (Anybody else hoping the Mavericks trade up for him?). He is a 7-footer who has one of the sweetest strokes in college. There are a lot of NBA coaches salivating over the thought of a weapon like that. In the space-and-pace era of the NBA right now, a big man that can shoot that well is sought after.
6. De’Aaron Fox, G, Kentucky
If he had a jumper, Fox would be in the top three. His shining performance was his 39-point outing in the Sweet Sixteen when he outplayed Lonzo Ball. He is quick, defends well, and can finish at the rim, but he doesn’t have a reliable enough jumper. The big argument is over whether he will be able to survive in the NBA where there is a wealth of point guards and being able to knock down outside shots is more important than ever.
7. Frank Ntilikina, G, France
Another big point guard. Ntilikina is 6’5” and still 18, but lesser known since he plays outside the U.S. He could end up being the best player in this draft.
8. Malik Monk, G, Kentucky
I think that Monk will drop a bit in the draft due to his size. He is not a point guard—more of a pure scorer—but he is too short to guard the two-spot where he will be outmuscled. But, his knack for scoring and hitting big shots will make him something of a better Jamal Crawford.
9. Dennis Smith Jr, G, NC State
In this guard heavy draft, a team who is maybe a point guard away from being a playoff contender will get lucky as one of these guys, most likely Smith, drops in the lottery. Smith has a great motor, and though he isolder than some of these guards, he will likely be able to help a team right away.
10. Jayson Tatum, F, Duke
The forward may not fall this far in the draft, but his lack of athleticism may allow him to drop. He may be the best scorer in the draft, which could benefit him if he falls to a better team.
11. Zach Collins, C, Gonzaga
The big man still has some work to do on his shot in order to be useful in the NBA, but he showed of skill protecting the rim in the Tournament.
12. Miles Bridges, F, Michigan State
Bridges reminds me of Aaron Gordon with a better jumper. This guy can jump out of the gym, but an NBA team will need to find a position for him as he projects as a ‘tweener for the 3 and 4 spot.
13. Luke Kennard, F, Duke
Kennard upped his draft stock this year, but he will need to develop skills to be more than a knockdown shooter in the NBA.
14. Justin Jackson, F, North Carolina
Jackson probably will never be a star, but his all around abilities will allow him to help an NBA team off the bench.
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