NBA Draft 2017: Four prospects whose stock is projected too high
Markelle Fultz's talent is obvious, but to suggest he's so clearly the best prospect is out of whack
With the NBA Draft closing in, most mock drafts have settled. Projections may be off (and that's the fun of mock drafts vs. the real thing), but for the most part we know where prospects are placed and the expectation of the 2017 talent pool.
With that in mind, you've got opinions or questions. Everyone does. You may ask yourself, "How is this guy slotted so low?" or "Why does everyone think he's a top-10 player in this year's draft?" Every year, there are players ranked higher than it seems they should be.
For prospects I think are underrated,. Below, four players whose stock is too high.
1. Markelle Fultz, Washington
Should be taken: Top 3
Figures to be taken: No. 1
Focus on the assumption he's clearly separated from the pack, and not the big trade making him the presumptive No. 1 pick in Philly. He has been considered the No. 1 pick for nearly a year. He played on a bad Washington team, averaged 23.2 points (47.6 field goal percentage, 41.3 from 3-point range), 5.9 assists and 5.7 rebounds., taking into account personal stats and impact on his team. He was very good but his teammates were not. But it's a bit unfair to ding Fultz because he wasn't able to single-handedly rescue Washington.
Consider Fultz is surrounded by so many good players in this draft, yet almost no one has suggested Lonzo Ball, Josh Jackson, Jayson Tatum, De'Aaron Fox, Dennis Smith or Jonathan Isaac as a No. 1 overall candidate. The NBA lands a only a few long-term impact players in most drafts, but this one seems different. Considering Fultz the clear-cut No. 1 has always seemed too definitive because I've seen him in person. I also watched him play about half his games last season, and he should be projected as a successful NBA starter -- but he's not bust-proof. Gifted offensively, his defense is at times lackadaisical (even at his best he's not a top-10 defender in this draft).
2. Malik Monk, Kentucky
Should be taken: Outside the top 10
Figures to be taken: No. 7 or No. 8
Monk is similar to Fultz: He can step into the NBA and average double-digits as a rookie and has been slotted in the top eight of mocks since November. He was a top-five prospect coming out of high school, and really only slid from that spot within the past 10 weeks. He's a great scorer, but not much more (19.8 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 2.4 apg, 45 percent shooter). He lacks aggressiveness in getting to the hoop (John Calipari publicly implored Monk multiple times last season to draw more contact and get to the foul line), doesn't naturally distribute, isn't even a B-level defender and he needs to hit the weight room.
Monk's shooting range and capacity to score in bunches can't be undersold, but he's lacking in too many areas to be a sure-fire top-10 pick. There are a handful of guys projected below him who should go first.
3. Ike Anigbogu, UCLA
Should be taken: Early second round
Figures to be taken: high-to-mid 20s
Essentially an unknown freshman on a team with super freshmen Lonzo Ball and T.J. Leaf. In 13 minutes a game (only 26 percent of available playing time), Anigbogu averaged 4.7 points and 4.0 rebounds, yet seems to be a first-round lock. Anigbogu's physical traits (6-foot-10 with a 7-6 wingspan) make him a coveted prospect.
He could grow into a solid NBA defender and rebounder, and if a team gets that between Nos. 20 and 28 of the first round, it's worth it. But if he winds up as a guy without real use in modern NBA offenses, then clubs would be better off spending a first-round pick on SMU's Semi Ojeleye, who matches Anigbogu's athleticism and is NBA-ready at both ends of the floor.
4. D.J. Wilson, Michigan
Should be taken: Mid-to-late 30s
Figures to be taken: Mid-20s
Four months ago, he wasn't viewed as a top-80 prospect. Now he's in the mid-20s? Wilson helped Michigan to a Big Ten tournament title, a 7 seed in the NCAAs and a Sweet 16 appearance. He is taking advantage of red-hot stock he might have a hard time capitalizing on a year from now. He walks into the draft after averaging 11 points and 5.3 rebounds this past season.
Wilson lacks the physicality needed to play up front in the NBA -- even in today's perimeter-focused game. The players have never been bigger or stronger, and having intuitiveness in the paint is crucial. Wilson's too soft, doesn't have a good post game, and isn't an aggressive rebounder. For a guy listed at 6-10, that's an issue. I think Wilson would be good for a second-round flier, but when I watched him play with Michigan last season, I did not see first-round material.
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