NLL Insider - NLL Draft: Top 10 Player Reviews
by spudspace, updated on Friday, June 16 2017, 10:43 pm EST
I just recently got the #7 pick and have done a ton of study on the top 10 guys in the draft. I thought I would start making notes, then it just turned into an article. One thing is clear from looking at these guys, other than Fultz, the rest of these guys are going to be a fit/taste of the GMs that take them. I love when people say they are going to take “best available”, which to me means the highest guy in the NBA taken. I think this is a flaw in draft strategy for this draft. In some drafts yes, but in this draft if you want a guard, each guy brings a distinct different feel. If you want a passer, take Lonzo, if you want a slasher, take Fox, if you want an athletic freak, take Monk or Smith. They all are different, and just because Ball goes #2(maybe) to the Lakers in the NBA, that doesn’t mean he’s the right fit for Dallas at #2.
As to the forwards, all 4 are completely different, Jackson looks to have a lot of tools to be an all-star, but Tatum could be that, and Isaac is a defensive beast. Lauri could end up being the best player 10 years down the line. My advice to GMs, and to myself too, do a little research, don’t just take the order that they are taken in the NBA. If you love Isaac, don’t be afraid to take him at #2. If you think Dennis Smith’s athleticism is amazing, take him over Ball. According to Chad Ford at ESPN, there are 2 tiers in this draft, he put Ball and Fultz in Tier 1, and these next 8 guys in tier 2. I see it the same way except I’m not as high on Ball. Take a read, decide who you want, unless you want a Center, then your out of luck!
Just so I’m completely transparent, I love Tatum and Isaac, but I don’t need a point guard, otherwise I’d be pretty high on Fox. If I didn’t already have CJ McCollum, I’d take Monk easily as he is really the only off-guard in the draft.
#1 Guard: Markelle Fultz – Freshman from Washington
Position: Point Guard
Weight: 195 lbs.
NBA Comparison – D’Angelo Russell (on a good day)
This guy is the consensus #1 pick, but he’s by no means an all-star type player as a rookie. Watching his tape, you see a player that is usually the most athletic on the court and the best player on his team. He has big lapses on defense, and doesn’t take a lot of highly efficient shots. He will struggle to score against set defenses in the NBA initially, and could get easily burned on defense. Having said that, he has tremendous upside. He can pass, he can shoot, he’s fast, and has the body to be a good defender if he wants to be. He’s the best point guard in this heavy point guard draft, which is saying a lot.
· Finishes with contact – great strength for his size
· Explosive athlete, can get to the rim easily
· Very confident with his shot, can pull up from anywhere
· Already has the Jordan fade away down, translates well to the NBA game
· Has shown the ability to have the in-lane floater, which is a great weapon that a lot of NBA point guards don’t develop until their mid 20s
· Great passer, not as good as Lonzo, but his ability to create off the dribble opens up a lot of passes for others.
· On defense, has great length and jumping ability. Has the potential to be a Dwayne Wade – type shot blocker as a guard
· Can be somewhat like James Harden with his lack of attention on defense, this can be improved, but he’s not a + defender yet
· Relies on his athleticism a lot and puts himself in bad defensive spots that make it hard to play team defense – think Kyrie Irving
· Doesn’t fight over screens very well, if you ever watch Isaiah Thomas play, very similar. This is odd because he is big a strong and should be able to get over screens easily
· Needs to improve his free throw shooting to be a threat in the 4th quarter (65%)
· Was the best player on an average team, he had a green light to shoot. He will struggle to be an efficient scorer in the NBA initially
· Takes a lot of contested jumpers
#2 Guard: De’aaron Fox – Freshman from Kentucky
Position: Point Guard
Weight: 171 lbs.
NBA Comparison – John Wall
I think Fox is the 2nd best point guard prospect in the draft. He lacks a jump shot which will limit him initially, but he can work on that. He needs to build is strength up in order to defend bigger players. His upside is tremendous though, he’s got fast end-to-end speed, quick crossover, great finisher. He can get to the basket in one long step off the dribble. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if he ends up being the best player in the draft years down the line. He will require some patience by whoever drafts him to develop his shot though.
· Amazing speed, not quite John Wall fast, but maybe is close
· Has great hops for a point guard, can easily dunk and finish at the rim
· Super quick 1st step, will beat most guys off the dribble, hesitation dribble is just nasty
· Has Kyrie-like crossover
· Left-handed, making it much harder to guard – see James Harden
· He’s a capable passer, but is a score first player
· Can pull up off the dribble with ease
· Has all the tools to able to be a good defender, stays engaged, quick and has length
· Very inconsistent shooting stroke
· Limited range, not a great 3-point threat – he can develop this, similar to John Wall if he works at it
· Not a good catch-and-shoot player, much better shooter off the dribble
· Doesn’t have great instincts on the pick-and-roll – needs to develop to fit the NBA game
· Can defend point guards well, but on switches, he’s going to be completely outmatched by most shooting guards and bigger
· Gets caught ball watching a lot
#3 Guard: Lonzo Ball – Freshman from UCLA
Position: Point Guard
Weight: 190 lbs.
NBA Comparison – Jason Kidd
Most NBA scouts have Lonzo as the 2nd best player in the draft, but I am not as sure after watching tape. He is by far the best passer, and maybe the best “true” point guard in the draft. His problems are that he’s a streaky shooter, doesn’t even have the physical tools to be a great defender, and of course, there’s his dad. I think he’s the 3rd best point guard prospect, but still has all-star written on him. He will need good players around him to really make him shine. If he gets put on a mediocre to bad team…he is not going to look good his rookie year.
· Great length for a point guard, has decent leaping ability too
· Best transition game of all the point guards – has great vision and passing ability on the break
· Best passer of all the point guards
· Finds the open man with ease, great court vision
· Can shoot from anywhere on the court, hits NBA length 3’s with ease
· Has very high end speed in the open court, will push the ball always
· Not very physical, will have trouble finishing in the lane with contact
· Doesn’t look to score on pick & roll, always pass-first which could be fairly easy to defend at the NBA level
· Not a great off the dribble penetrator, Fultz is much better at this
· His shot mechanics are likely going to get him in trouble in the NBA, low release could lead to a lot of blocks and inconsistency
· Doesn’t have the lateral quickness on D to stay with most NBA point guards
· Can be outmuscled in the paint easily
#4 Guard: Malik Monk – Freshman from UCLA
Position: Shooting Guard / Point Guard (Combo)
Weight: 197 lbs.
NBA Comparison – C.J. McCollum
Watching tape of Monk, you can immediately see that he will fit into an NBA team well with his quick pullup jumper and monster jumping ability. Depending on what team he goes too, he could easily be Rookie of the Year if given the chance to score. If he is asked to play point guard, he’s going to struggle, and may not fit in well. He needs a bigger point guard next to him for them to have any chance on defense. If you are looking for a scorer, this guy is your pick.
· Amazing leaper – Has some of the best hops you’ll see in the NBA. His 42” vertical was very high in the combine, to give some perspective, Vince Carter had a 43” vertical…
· Great quickness for a shooting guard
· Great spot up shooter – translates immediately to a scorer in the NBA
· Deep (NBA) range
· He’s the most talented scorer in the draft
· He’s a good passer, but not an elite-level NBA point guard passer
· Above average on ball defender, will struggle with NBA level shooting guards
· If he plays shooting guard, he’s a bit small
· If he plays point guard, he’s not a great playmaker for others
· He can be overpowered by bigger guards on defense
· He’s the opposite of Fox, great outside shooter, not as good of a slasher
· Struggles finishing at the rim due to his size
#5 Guard: Dennis Smith – Freshman from N.C. State
Position: Point Guard
Weight: 195 lbs.
NBA Comparison – Steve Francis
This guy has the potential to be a great player, but his upside is somewhat unclear. His jumping impresses everyone, and a lot of people see this guy being higher on the draft board. There are some questions about him with an ACL tear. His team wasn’t very good last year with a record of 15-17. The same could be said for Fultz, but you’d think one of the better point guards would lead his team to a better record. He has a lot of upside, but due to his limited wingspan, he doesn’t project as well. This guy is still a top 5-10 pick, but in a draft with point gaurds, he’s got some competition.
· Great jumper, explodes to the rim, supposedly 48” vertical, I have some doubts
· Speed, not as fast as Fox, but top end speed
· Has an NBA body already, strength and shoulders
· Dunks like John Wall
· Best on ball defender of the point guards
· Has a great hesitation dribble – will be great against switches with bigs
· Talented shooter, won’t struggle to hit shots
· Not as talented a passer as Ball, but will be able to fit in well on an NBA team, can pass with both hands well
· Has a tendency to over dribble, not great in today’s NBA
· Streaky shooter
· Doesn’t have the wingspan that is important in today’s NBA
· Doesn’t look to pass first, needs to develop as a point guard
· Injury history – had an ACL tear a little over a year ago
· His upside isn’t as high as other guards in this draft – projects as a NBA starter, but maybe not an all-star
· Takes too many contested jumpers
· Has mental lapses on defense
#6 Guard: Frank Ntilikina – International from France
Position: Point Guard
Wingspan Not Measured
Weight: 170 lbs.
NBA Comparison – Michael Carter-Williams
This guy has a high upside as he has a lot of physical tools that are necessary in today’s NBA. He has great length that will allow him to guard on switches well. Needs to develop his shot, but has good court vision to run an offense. Will be an immediate impact player on defense, and this may be his calling card initially in the NBA. He’s a little bit of an unknown, but he may go higher than many think depending on what team is scouting him. He’s not as good as the other point guards here, but does have a high upside.
· Aggressive on-ball defender
· Will be a good defender his first year in the league
· Good court vision, pushes the ball well
· Unsure of actual wingspan, but has great length that allows him to rebound over other guards
· He’s a pass first point guard
· He will take some time to develop, but he’s the youngest guy in the top 10
· Still a little unknown as a lot of international players are
· Doesn’t appear to have elite athleticism, but can finish
· Not a great shooter right now
· Needs to develop frame, hit the weight room
· Doesn’t have top high-end speed like some others in the draft
#1 Forward: Josh Jackson – Freshman from Kansas
Position: Small Forward
Weight: 203 lbs.
NBA Comparison – Andre Iguodala
Jackson is the best forward in the draft. If you don’t need a point guard, this is probably the guy to draft. He has the potential to be a great scorer in the future. Good finisher at the rim, and explosive athleticism. His lack of length will hurt him though, he doesn’t have the wing span of a Kevin Durant, Paul George, Andrew Wiggins type. Needs to develop his shooting mechanics more. He won’t be a great 3-point NBA shooter initially until he fixes that. He still has a ton of upside and can defend very well.
· Elite athleticism, most gifted athlete of the forwards
· Great shot blocker for his size.
· Great finisher at the rim. Will be a point guards dream wherever he is
· Long strides allow him to get to the rim quickly
· Can rebound well for a forward, will get a lot of offensive boards
· Capable shooter
· Great on the break
· Good passer for his position. Isn’t a triple-double threat yet, not yet anyway
· Defends a lot like Paul George, keeps his wingspan wide and low base. Allows him to guard shorter players and cut off driving lanes
· Needs to develop his shot better. Can hit open 3’s, but not great at creating his own 3
· Doesn’t have elite length like a lot of NBA wings.
· Not a good free throw shooter (54%) – indicative of a bad shooter
· Needs to fix his shot mechanics
· Not strong yet, not a big frame or shoulders, needs to get in the gym
· Will struggle to guard elite forwards initially in the NBA until he gets more strength, can get outmuscled off the first step
· Foul prone, averaged 3.0 fouls per game in college, that’s high for a perimeter player
· Argues calls a lot – expects all-star foul treatment
· Good passer, but doesn’t have great court vision
#2 Forward: Jayson Tatum – Freshman from Duke
Position: Small Forward
Weight: 210 lbs.
NBA Comparison – Carmelo Anthony (hopefully if you draft him!)
To be fair, this is my favorite player in the draft, but I’m a bit biased. I think he has ROTY written all over him. He’s a talented scorer, and can improve defensively. He will be able to be a #1 option on a playoff team, which is hard to find. His lack of explosiveness is the only glaring weakness he has. Doesn’t look to create for others, can be a bit of a ball-stopper, hence the Melo reference. If you take him over Isaac or Jackson, it’s just a preference, I don’t think there is a wrong or right answer.
· Has NBA moves and turnarounds already
· Already has a NBA body, won’t get out muscled
· Was the go-to scorer at Duke and will be able to be the #1 option on an NBA team
· Runs on the break well for his size
· Has post up moves, will easily take smaller small forwards on the block
· Smooth stroke, great catch-and-shoot player
· Best scorer from the forwards position
· Has a high chance to be ROTY as he is already NBA starter ready
· May be able to play stretch 4, would destroy most bigs off the dribble
· Shows defensive abilities
· Most of his weakness is defensively, not quite quick enough to guard some 3’s, not big enough to guard 4’s
· Doesn’t have an explosive first step, relies on length a lot
· Has a tendency to take long 2’s
· Not as explosive jumper as Josh Jackson, uses craftiness and length to finish
· Has an “old man” game at 19
· Doesn’t have as high of an upside as Jackson or Isaac
#3 Forward: Jonathan Isaac – Freshman from FSU
Position: Small Forward / Power Forward
Weight: 205 lbs.
NBA Comparison – Chris Bosh
He is already a better defender than Bosh, but both have similar frames, and Bosh didn’t have range when he came into the league. Isaac will need to continue to develop, but he has the defensive ability to be a great 2-way player. He doesn’t need the ball to contribute right now, and will be an ideal matchup with a scorer in the post. He likes to defend, and you can tell he wants to be good at it. He can guard all 5 position if asked to, ideal for switches. He’s not as talented a scorer as the other 2, but he has potential written all over him.
· Has more length than Tatum, and almost as athletic as Jackson
· Has first-team defense written all over him
· Is the future NBA stretch-4, needs to develop the stretch though
· Hits knockdown shots, but isn’t comfortable there
· Motor that makes him a great rim runner and rebounder
· Can be an immediate impact player because of his length
· Needs to develop his scoring ability, this is his weakest ability
· If you value defense, he’s the top forward, if you value scoring, he could be the 4th best
· Not a great dribbler right now, needs to work on ball-handling skills
· His frame is very slight, narrow shoulders may limit him – see Nerlens Noel
· Doesn’t have the strength to shoot good NBA 3’s right now
· Can’t take 3’s off the dribble, will be much better at the 4
· Will get outmuscled a lot in the lane initially
· His decision making in the open court is suspect
· More of an opportunistic scorer right now
#4 Forward: Lauri Markkanen – Freshman from Arizona (Finland)
Position: Power Forward
Weight: 225 lbs.
NBA Comparison – Like all white international players – Dirk Nowitzki
Lauri is an amazing shooter, and you can fall in love with him immediately with his shooting. He has some big flaws on the defensive end, and can’t rebound with bigs. Don’t expect him to rebound in the double-digits ever. His floor spacing will be valuable to many NBA teams, and any team would love him immediately. Has pro-ball pedigree as his dad played overseas for years. If you want a guy that will make an impact immediately, this is your guy.
· Best shooter in the draft, at 7’0” too
· Has a quick high release that will be impossible to contest
· Uses his outside shot to force closeouts and then can drive at the rim
· Has great floor spacing feel, glides to open spots on the court
· Will instantly fit into any NBA offense
· He could easily be a 20ppg scorer, needs to develop some post moves though
· Not a great athlete, won’t wow anyone with his speed or hops
· Will struggle to guard quicker forwards and bigger forwards, not great on D
· Will get destroyed in the P&R
· Doesn’t have a high upside, his strength is already developed
· Footspeed makes him a bit slow in the transition game
· Doesn’t look to pass often, more of a spot up shooter
· Poor rebounder for his size