Duke's latest one-and-done phenom is No. 1 in way-too-early 2017 NBA Mock Draft
Duke's Harry Giles is the easy choice for the top pick in this ridiculously early 2017 NBA Mock Draft
The 2017 NBA Draft is loaded. There's just not another way to put it.
And that's a welcome sight after how weak the 2016 draft is in terms of talent.
NBA scouts are salivating at the prospects of this class, where all of my top-10 players would have likely gone third overall to the Celtics ahead of Jaylen Brown. The talent level is that high in this group, and it's considered to be one of the best crops to enter the NBA in a long time.
Particularly, where you should look for strength is at the point guard position. There are five top 10 players at the point in this class, all of whom project as better prospects than even Kris Dunn this season. That group starts with Markelle Fultz, a creative 6-foot-5 guard headed to Washington. He's followed by Frank Ntilinkina, Lonzo Ball, Dennis Smith and De'Aaron Fox. Seriously, next season in college hoops is going to be the year of the point guard, and perimeter players are going to dominate the game.
I'd also look toward another strong international class of prospects. Eight of my top 30 prospects played outside of America last season, with Ntilikina leading the way followed by Isaiah Hartenstein and Omer Yurtseven.
Here is a quick look at my current top 30 players.
1. Brooklyn Nets
Harry Giles, Duke
Giles is the clear No. 1 overall prospect on this board. If it weren't for knee injuries, we'd be discussing Giles in the same way that we talked about Anthony Davis entering college. He's that talented. With the injuries though, it's up for debate what his impact will be at the college level, and how he'll be seen entering the NBA. He'll be subjected to rigorous medical testing, and team doctors will be able to give their employers notes. Still, Giles is an unbelievable athlete at 6-10, shoots it well, defends, runs the floor like a guard, and will be tremendous at Duke.
2. Phoenix Suns
Josh Jackson, Kansas
Jackson is a bit older, but is a terrific athlete at the wing position. He compares favorably to Andrew Wiggins in that capacity, plus plays extraordinarily hard and has good basketball IQ in terms of his passing and finishing skill. The key will be his finishing skill, but he should have a successful season at Kansas.
3. Philadelphia 76ers
Markelle Fultz, Washington
Fultz is the most creative guard in this class. A 6-foot-5 point guard who can attack the basket and find seemingly impossible passing lanes, he is the No. 1 point guard right now in a class that is simply just loaded with them. He could end up at No. 1 or drop down to the fifth best without falling out of the top-10. Still, he's the exact kind of guard you want in an up-tempo scheme.
4. Orlando Magic
Frank Ntilikina, Belgium
The top international on the board, Ntilikina is another 6-foot-5 point guard with incredibly long arms who knows how to attack in the pick-and-roll with patience, but also can explode toward the basket and into the paint. He has terrific defensive versatility as well. The key for him will be the jump shot, as he still doesn't look particularly comfortable shooting from deep. Still, there's so much to like here, and he'll be an immediate impact player.
5. Los Angeles Lakers
Bam Adebayo, Kentucky
Adebayo is Kentucky's best prospect this season, a powerfully built 6-foot-10 power forward who operates well in the pick-and-roll due to his mobility and attacks there rim with impunity due to his explosiveness. He operated well in AAU with the No. 7 player on this list, Dennis Smith, and should work well with Kentucky next season. Something to watch for: he flashed a jump shot at lower levels. If he can bring that, he's a potential top three pick.
6. Sacramento Kings
Jayson Tatum, Duke
Tatum is a guy plenty of people are higher on than this. He's the most polished player in this draft in terms of skill, drawing favorable comparisons to Carmelo Anthony with his scoring ability. I just worry that he's already peaked as a 6-8 combo forward who isn't all that long and likes to operate out of the midrange and doesn't typically get all the way to the rim in the halfcourt. He's a terrific player, sitting at No. 6 on my board. But watch for him this season to see if he has a little bit more explosiveness in the tank than I've seen.
7. Milwaukee Bucks
Lonzo Ball, UCLA
Ball is the toughest player to scout in this draft. On one hand, he has the best vision of any point guard, and at 6-6 or so he has tremendous potential defensive versatility (once he learns how to play in an actual scheme). He's more athletic than he gets credit for, and he hits tough shots like it's his job. He just won the national player of the year in high school this season. He might end up as the No. 1 overall player taken with the way the NBA is going given his skill set. Still, let's see him in college and how he adjusts to that game before putting him in the top five, as there are some questions about how his unique game and talent will translate after playing at Chino Hills in a run and shoot system.
8. Denver Nuggets
Dennis Smith, NC State
Smith might be my top point guard in this draft if he hadn't torn his ACL. He's another player who just really understands how to operate in the pick-and-roll, and has tremendous quickness in terms of getting in and out of the lane.
9. New Orleans Pelicans
Ivan Rabb, California
Rabb is the best returning college player on this board. He needs to grow in terms of building his body and hopefully adding a jump, shot, but the polish to his game is already there. He has great touch, rebounds the ball well despite his size, and has the size, length and mobility teams are looking for from the 5 position now. Really good prospect who should only grow in a bigger role at Cal.
10. Portland Trail Blazers
De'Aaron Fox, Kentucky
Another top-10 prospect at Kentucky in Fox. He's a 6-4 lefty who really gets after it defensively and is lightning quick with the ball in his hands. The swing skill for him will be the jump shot, which is streaky at best right now. But at the moment, he's one of five point guards in my top 10.
11. New York Knicks
Jarrett Allen, Texas
Allen was really impressive at Nike Hoop Summit this year, as the big man can really protect the rim, finish inside, and has great hands to go with active feet. He'll be perfect as a big in Shaka Smart's system.
12. Detroit Pistons
Isaiah Hartenstein, Germany
Hartenstein has a lot of Kevin Love to his game, for both good and bad. He's a tremendous shooter and rebounder, knows how to get space inside, and passes terrifically. He's also never been in the best shape and has defensive issues. He's a legit lottery talent, but there are holes in his game.
13. Memphis Grizzlies
Omer Yurtseven, NC State
Polished is the key word for Yurtseven, who is planning to head to NC State in the fall. He's a fluid, finesse player from Turkey who can hit shots from the midrange and attack inside. He's also really mobile for a post 5, and can play in the pick-and-roll. He needs to prove he can become a better perimeter defender and passer, but the skill set is there.
14. Indiana Pacers
Jonathan Isaac, Florida State
Isaac flirted with the 2016 NBA Draft like Thon Maker before heading to the 2017 one. He's a 6-10 combo forward who can shoot from distance and has tremendous fluid athleticism. He still lacks a ton of polish, but if he can add it over the next year he could be a potential top-five pick.
15. Minnesota Timberwolves
Thomas Bryant, Indiana
Bryant is another returnee who could put himself in a terrific position next season. He is long and physical, allowing him to post, plus he can step away and shoot it from deep with ease. The key is foot speed. It's a major question as to whether or not he can deal with perimeter players in the NBA.
16. Washington Wizards
Miles Bridges, Michigan State
Bridges is an elite power athlete who is heading to the perfect situation at Michigan State. His tough game should blossom under Tom Izzo, and as long as he can get a jump shot down there's a lot to like about his versatility in the modern NBA.
17. Charlotte Hornets
OG Anunoby, Indiana
Another potential stud in the modern NBA, Anunoby is extremely raw offensively but is an elite athlete at 6-7 with a 7-2 wingspan. That shows up best defensively, where he wouldn't look out of place in the NBA right now. He needs some growth on the other end, but he could be a major riser.
18. Utah Jazz
Grayson Allen, Duke
Allen is just an NBA athlete, through and through. He's polished, explosive, and has NBA moves already in the way that he attacks closeouts and draws fouls. Defense will be a question, but he can create his own shot and has improved to the point where he is an elite shooter.
19. Dallas Mavericks
Borisa Simanic, Serbia
This kid is a stud, full stop. He played up two years in the U19 last summer for Serbia and averaged double-figures in scoring as a 6-10 skilled stretch-four. The shooting stroke is as smooth as it gets for a power forward, and he's fluid athletically. He won MVP of the adidas Next Generation Tournament, and tossed up a 21 PER in limited minutes for Red Star this season.
20. Houston Rockets
Lauri Markkanen, Arizon
I've written at length about Markkanen, a terrific scorer with the game of a stretch-five. He'll be a monster at Arizona this year, who will look to unleash his ability to shoot from distance and attack less skilled players.
21. Atlanta Hawks
Kostja Mushidi, Belgium
Scouts are very mixed on Mushidi at this stage. He was really terrific this season in the French junior league, and seems likely to join Mega Leks next season just like Timothe Luwawu a season ago. He won MVP of the Albert Schweitzer Tournament this year over in Mannheim. He's a great athlete with a terrific frame, but he needs to work on his skill level.
22. Miami Heat
Malik Monk, Kentucky
The third Kentucky prospect here, Monk is a scorer through and through. He's among the most athletic players in the entire 2017 draft, and can really shoot it off the dribble. He's a bit undersized though and doesn't have great length, which is scary for teams.
23. Chicago Bulls
Tyler Lydon, Syracuse
Lydon showed plenty of flashes this season for Syracuse. He's a bouncy 6-10 stretch-four who can knock down shots from the outside and then block shots inside. That's the kind of player NBA teams are continually looking for, and he'll have a chance to shine next season as the Orange's top player.
24. Toronto Raptors
Jaron Blossomgame, Clemson
I think Blossomgame would have gone in the top half of this year's second round had he declared. Call this an intuition guess. I think Blossomgame becomes a first team All-American in 2017, leading Clemson to its first NCAA Tournament berth while solidifying himself as a creator off the dribble and shooter to pair with his athleticism.
25. Boston Celtics
Jonathan Jeanne, France
Lot of scouts are pretty mixed on Jeanne, as well. The size is unquestionable at 7-2 with a 7-7 wingspan. He blocks shots and moves really fluidly. The question is whether or not he fills out his body, which is extraordinarily skinny right now.
26. Los Angeles Clippers
Dillon Brooks, Oregon
This is another intuition pick, as Brooks has added different aspects to his game every year since he was a senior in high school. First, it was the slashing to pair with the motor. Then it was the passing last year. I think he takes the final step next year and adds shooting ability to his game, and becomes a potentially terrific wing for the NBA level.
27. Oklahoma City Thunder
Dwayne Bacon, Florida State
Bacon is older for a sophomore, but he has long arms, is a tremendous athlete, and has good instincts for scoring the basketball. He just needs to polish out his game and become a better shooter and creator.
28. San Antonio Spurs
Arnoldas Kulboka, Lithuania
Kulboka performed well at Basketball Without Borders and at Eurocamp this year. He's a 6-9 Lithuanian prospect who shoots the lights out of the gym, but also is quick off the floor with his leaping ability and can create his own shot. He'll play for Euroleague competitor Bamberg this year and have a shot to rise up this board.
29. Cleveland Cavaliers
Terrence Ferguson, Arizona
Ferguson is in flux right now as it seems likely he's headed to Australia to play professionally for a year instead of going to Arizona. He's one of the more explosive leapers in the class, and really has potential as a solid 3-and-D guy due to how hard he competes defensively and how strong of a shooter he is. Difficult to say how next season affects him, though.
30. Golden State Warriors
Marques Bolden, Duke
Realistically, Bolden needs to be on this list due to the talent he possesses. He is 6-10 with a really solid post game and a 7-5 wingspan. I just wonder if he's going to get lost in the shuffle at Duke, what with Jayson Tatum, Harry Giles, and Amile Jefferson returning to go with Chase Jeter still existing in that fold and having a year on Bolden. The talent of a first-round pick is there, he just might need to wait his turn.
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