The NCAA's deadline for official early entry into the NBA Draft has come and gone, which means there has been a major shakeup on the CBS Sports NBA Draft Big Board.
Sure, the top of the board remains unchanged with only some slight movement since the combine. Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram are still your No. 1 and No. 2 players. There hasn't been much movement throughout the top 10.
Where you see the biggest movement, though, is through the second round. The draft still seems to have an inordinate amount of depth in terms of its potential to produce quality role players late. But that depth took a bit of a hit overall on Wednesday when a large group of players pulled out of the draft.
Over the last week, a group of 23 players have departed the top 150 as they have decided to stay in the college ranks for an extra season to hone their games. Among that group, the best player to depart was Jaron Blossomgame, the No. 49 overall player who had a good chance to work his way into the first round with some strong workouts. After him was Malik Newman, a somewhat surprising departure at No. 59, especially given the uncertainty now about his return to a strange situation at Mississippi State. The next area of the board is where we saw the most defections, as No. 64 Josh Hart, No. 66 Melo Trimble, No. 69 Dillon Brooks, and No. 73 Nigel Hayes all decided to return to school with hopes of getting into the first round next season.
It's hard to fault them for deciding that college basketball was their best bet, given their ranking outside of the top-60. However, it's also relatively difficult to see them entering the first round next season due to how strong the 2017 NBA Draft is going to be. Maybe one or two of the aforementioned players can get into the mix, but it's just as likely they'll be back right where they are now next season. For every Buddy Hield or Denzel Valentine who improve their stock in upperclass seasons, there are at least two Georges Niangs, Ron Bakers, Fred VanVleets, Kyle Wiltjers, Shawn Longs, Gary Payton IIs, Dorian Finney-Smiths, or Jake Laymans. Simply put, it just doesn't happen as often as most people like to imagine. Unless you make legitimately tangible improvement in areas of weakness, it just gives scouts more time to fall out of love with you.
Due to the wide variety of legitimate professional options now monetarily, it's no longer a simple option to just stay in school even if your stock isn't quite at its highest point. That seems to be a point that many people at this stage just don't understand due to preconceived notions of how the development process should work. Players can develop their games all over the world or in the D-League now and have just as much success as they do in college.
This is no longer a Ricky Bobby world where "if you ain't first, you're last." Due to the internationalization of basketball, there are shades of gray where you can work on your game and be found if you're good enough.
Some guys can make that jump to guaranteed NBA money, but more often than not it just won't happen. Still, we'll see how these decisions end up playing out next season after another summer of improvement.
Here are a few other notes.
- Even with the departures, this class from No. 61 through No. 100 is still stronger than most years. Players like Sam Thompson and Chavaughn Lewis would be lucky to make the entire top-150 in this draft, but there they were last year in my final big board at Nos. 96 and 97. This time around, there are guys like Elgin Cook at No. 81, and it wouldn't surprise anyone around the league if he fought and clawed his way to a roster spot this offseason. It's also a group of players who present a lot of different skills. Need a guard with defensive versatility? Alex Caruso at No. 86 is interesting. A big who can rebound and finish inside? Zach Auguste is sitting there at No. 82. A draft-and-stash with some upside? Alpha Kaba is there at No. 88. Does the best pure athlete in the draft in terms of explosiveness interest you? Derrick Jones Jr. from UNLV is there at No. 89 and might be worth working with. There are stretch-forwards like Isaiah Miles, potential defensive role players like Tonye Jekiri, combo forwards like Alex Poythress, or big guards like Tim Quarterman.
- I've moved Providence forward Ben Bentil up into my top-30. It's not a change in tier for him or anything, but I am starting to buy his mobility, his shooting ability, and the fact that he plays hard all the time translating into a solid NBA role player.
- Kay Felder continues to rise up the board for me, and he's now in the top-45. Simply, I buy the athleticism, the shooting ability off of the dribble, and the peskiness defensively. If he slid his way into the late first round range, it wouldn't be a total shocker.
- Pascal Siakam slides up into the top 50 after he made his call to stay in the NBA Draft. He's an interesting athlete with a terrific motor, crazy long arms, and good athleticism to pair with a developing jump shot. He might take some time in the D-League, but he could turn into a solid rotation big at some point.
- Some new international players enter the board. Ognjen Jaramaz is an athletic combo guard currently playing on Mega Leks who can get into the paint with ease and plays hard defensively. He enters the top 100. Gracin Bakumanya is a 7-footer in France playing for Antibes who can step away and knock down shots from distance. He's still only 18 and it's unclear if he'll stay in this draft, but he's one to watch for the future. Romaric Belemene is a 19 year old from the Congo who, at 6-9 with great athleticism is developing well in Spain in the third division. He'll have a chance to be up with Malaga's ACB team next year.
- There's not really much news at the top of the draft right now. Teams are still doing their due diligence on the players there, and we're just going to be getting into the season of workouts where top prospects get put through the wringer by teams. You can check out my most recent mock draft here for the way I think that could play out.
With all that being said, here's an updated 2016 NBA Draft Big Board.
|2016 NBA Draft Prospect Rankings|
|10||Denzel Valentine||Michigan State||Sr.||SG||6-5||220|
|12||Deyonta Davis||Michigan State||Fr.||PF||6-10||240|
|17||Wade Baldwin IV||Vanderbilt||Soph.||SG||6-3||194|
|18||Demetrius Jackson||Notre Dame||Jr.||PG||6-1||201|
|20||Malik Beasley||Florida State||Fr.||SG||6-5||196|
|21||DeAndre' Bembry||Saint Joseph's||Jr.||SF||6-6||210|
|23||Brice Johnson||North Carolina||Sr.||PF||6-10||230|
|29||Stephen Zimmerman Jr.||UNLV||Fr.||C||7-0||240|
|41||Isaiah Whitehead||Seton Hall||Soph.||SG||6-4||210|
|47||Gary Payton II||Oregon State||Sr.||PG||6-3||190|
|50||Pascal Siakam||New Mexico State||Soph.||PF||6-9||230|
|52||Wayne Selden Jr.||Kansas||Jr.||SF||6-5||230|
|59||Marcus Paige||North Carolina||Sr.||PG||6-2||175|
|60||Fred VanVleet||Wichita State||Sr.||PG||6-0||186|
|61||Joel Bolomboy||Weber State||Sr.||PF||6-9||235|
|63||Anthony Barber||NC State||Jr.||PG||6-2||190|
|65||Shawn Long||UL Lafayette||Sr.||PF||6-11||246|
|67||Jameel Warney||Stony Brook||Sr.||PF||6-8||260|
|69||Georges Niang||Iowa State||Sr.||SF||6-8||230|
|70||Ron Baker||Wichita State||Sr.||PG||6-4||210|
|73||James Webb III||Boise State||Jr.||SF||6-9||202|
|78||Danuel House||Texas A&M||Sr.||SG||6-7||212|
|80||Julian Jacobs||Southern California||Jr.||PG||6-4||180|
|82||Zach Auguste||Notre Dame||Sr.||PF||6-10||245|
|86||Alex Caruso||Texas A&M||Sr.||PG||6-5||186|
|89||Derrick Jones Jr.||UNLV||Fr.||SF||6-7||190|
|90||Isaiah Miles||Saint Joseph's||Sr.||SF||6-7||216|
|93||Tonye Jekiri||Miami (Fla.)||Sr.||C||7-0||248|
|101||Shevon Thompson||George Mason||Sr.||C||6-11||243|
|103||Bryn Forbes||Michigan State||Sr.||SG||6-3||190|
|116||Kyle Collinsworth||Brigham Young||Sr.||G||6-6||215|
|121||Thomas Walkup||Stephen F. Austin||Sr.||PG||6-4||195|
|122||Mamadou Ndiaye||UC Irvine||Jr.||C||7-6||300|
|123||Wes Washpun||Northern Iowa||Sr.||PG||6-1||175|
|126||Marvelle Harris||Fresno State||Sr.||SG||6-4||210|
|127||Marcus Georges-Hunt||Georgia Tech||Sr.||SG||6-5||216|
|133||Nikola Jovanovic||Southern California||Jr.||PF||6-11||235|
|134||Devin Williams||West Virginia||Jr.||PF||6-9||255|
|137||John Brown||High Point||Sr.||SF||6-8||210|
|138||Kevin Punter Jr.||Tennessee||Sr.||PG||6-2||190|
|141||Jameel McKay||Iowa State||Sr.||F-C||6-9||225|
|143||Winston Shepard||San Diego State||Sr.||SF||6-8||210|
|150||Chris Horton||Austin Peay||Sr.||PF||6-9||220|