The hype for the 2017 NBA Draft is building, as we inch closer to All-Star Weekend. Unlike years past, it’s not only fans of bottom-feeder franchises taking a special interest in college basketball. Analysts and fans alike are hoping to land a potential star in a draft class toted as one of the best since the 2003 draft. That class produced future Hall-Of-Famers Lebron James, Chris Bosh, and Dwyane Wade. While it’s not guaranteed that 2017 will produce hall of famers, the potential for several players is through the roof. While everyone wants their team to win, landing a possible star in the draft is reason enough to swallow a season’s pride. Here are 14 potential lottery picks that may change your franchise for the better.
Markelle Fultz (PG) (Washington) – For a second-straight year, the number 1 pick in the draft may not make an appearance in the NCAA Tournament. On the season, Fultz averages 23 points (6th), 6 assists and 6 rebounds for the Washington Huskies. The crafty guard can do it all, scoring inside and out, with playmaking abilities and great vision.
Pro Comparison = Stephon Marbury
Lonzo Ball (PG) (UCLA) – Bruins point guard Lonzo Ball is seen by many as the second-coming of future Hall of Famer Jason Kidd. Ball’s 7.8 assists per game are good enough for second in the nation. At 6’6, Ball possesses the length and quickness to create his own shot, despite how awkward his release is (See Kevin Martin). Despite being a true freshman, Ball’s exhibited the poise to excel on the next level from day one. While Ball takes plenty of contested, low percentage shots, that doesn’t deter from his extremely high potential.
Pro Comparison = Jason Kidd
Dennis Smith Jr. (PG) (NC State) – Dennis Smith Jr.’s freshman campaign at NC State sees him climbing up mock drafts, becoming a household name before the NCAA Tournament. Averaging 18 points, 4 rebounds, and 6 assists a game, Smith combines speed and athleticism to dominate the competition. Bearing a similar body shape to Toronto Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry, Smith uses his girth and deceptive quickness to invade the paint at his leisure. While his 2 steals per game show he can force turnovers, improving defensively is a must. Nevertheless, Smith possesses the skills to fill up the seats and stat sheets.
Pro Comparison = Baron Davis
Josh Jackson (SF) (Kansas) – Jayhawks Freshman Josh Jackson is one of the biggest names in this draft, and for good reason. At 6’8, Jackson combines size and length with exceptional athleticism, using his first step to drive the lane at will. The biggest draw on Jackson is his IQ, playing beyond his age and experience. This allows him to take high-percentage shots and be tremendously aware on both sides of the ball.
Pro Comparison = Andrew Wiggins
Malik Monk – (SG) (Kentucky) – In a deep class, Malik Monk is by far the best scorer. Through his freshman campaign, Monk continues to display the ability to score at will, and at a high clip. A quick first step allows him to invade the paint, coupled with a consistent jumper with deadly range. He’s not too shabby on defense either, despite his 6’3 frame being “undersized” in today’s NBA.
Pro Comparison = Eddie Jones
Jayson Tatum – (SG) (Duke) – Duke Blue Devil Jayson Tatum possesses an old-school game and a silky-smooth jumper. A serious mid-range threat, Tatum is evolving as an inside scorer, progressively getting better at scoring through contact.
Pro Comparison = Allan Houston
Harry Giles – (PF) (Duke) – Before the 2017 NCAA season, Harry Giles was the consensus pick for top draft pick, despite recovering from an ACL tear. Unfortunately, Giles returned to the court prematurely, and he often looks afraid to play like he once did. Nevertheless, he still possesses a remarkable skill-set, reminiscent of Chris Webber and Kevin Garnett. A pick-and-roll expert, Giles can post up or consistently knock down a midrange jumper. If he can play well for the remainder of Duke’s season, he’ll surely be a lottery pick worth the risk.
Pro Comparison = Chris Webber
De’Aaron Fox – (PG) (Kentucky) – De’Aaron Fox’ game is wildly reminiscent of another former Wildcat point guard, John Wall. Fox relies on speed and athleticism to infiltrate the paint, as well as dish out to open teammates. On the defensive end, good IQ and hands allow Fox to cover passing lanes and play man-to-man. Despite being wildly inconsistent as a shooter, Fox is a franchise-changer.
Pro Comparison = John Wall
Bam Adebayo (PF/C) (Kentucky) – Freshman Bam Adebayo is imposing his will on the SEC, bullying opposing big men in the paint. A physical brute with a refined post game, Adebayo has the body to adapt to the league right now. The biggest draw of Adebayo’s game is his rebounding ability, as he’s able to snatch boards and start off fast breaks.
Pro Comparison = Julius Randle
Miles Bridges (SF/PF) (MSU) – Spartans freshman Miles Bridges’ heart and motor are far bigger than his height (6’6). An undersized tweener, Bridges doesn’t have the consistent jumper of a stretch-four, but he makes it up in raw athleticism. A high-flyer that can be a spark plug on both sides of the ball, Bridges is a player to watch.
Pro Comparison = Shawn Marion
Johnathan Isaac (PF) (FSU) – Seminoles freshman Johnathan Isaac pairs size (6’11) with sound defense and a solid jumper to stretch the floor. Body-wise, Isaac is the prototypical stretch four of today’s game, with the length and motor to snatch boards with a fervor.
Pro Comparison = Rashard Lewis
Frank Ntilikina (PG) (France) – Every year, there’s an overseas sensation that progressively gains traction as the draft approaches. This year it’s french point guard Frank Ntilikana, a 6’5 pure point guard. Ntilikana is a pass-first guy, especially off pick-and-roll. But with a quick first step and athleticism, Ntilikana can create his own shot and score in and out. Sporting a reliable jumper, Ntilikana can be a building piece for a young franchise like the Orlando Magic.
Pro Comparison = Darren Collison
T.J Leaf (PF) (UCLA) – Every team needs a fundamentally-sound, high-motor player. T.J. Leaf is that guy, pairing rebounding and a solid mid-range with good passing. Leaf’s biggest flaw is his size, struggling in the paint against bigger defenders. If he can add some weight without losing agility, he can be a solid contributor on any roster.
Pro Comparison = Christian Laettner
Lauri Markkanen (PF/C) (Arizona) – Athletic 7-footers are the wave in the NBA, and Lauri Markkanen possesses the skills to stretch the floor for a team in need.A pick-and-pop specialist, Markkanen can score from mid or long range. Markkanen is strong enough to finish inside, despite a lanky 230-pound frame.
Pro Comparison = Kristaps Porzingis