The 2017 NBA draft is less than 30 days away and is full of talent. With the NBA combine out of the way, some players are still trying to prove their NBA worth working out with team executives while others are simply just working on their game or announcing their first shoe.
Fans are anxious and can’t stop debating as twitter arguments and Iphone group texts run rapid. Despite his limited visibility in his only season, is Fultz #1? Will LaVar Ball get what HE wants?
Here’s my take on the top 5 picks of the 2017 NBA draft.
5. Jonathan Isaac (Florida State) Sacramento Kings
Standing tall at 6-10, Isaac carries the traits of a guard inside a power forwards body. Despite being dragged out of the NCAA tournament this year by Xavier, there’s a lot more to Isaac’s game.
Versatile on the inside and out, the Florida State freshman averaged 12 points and 8 rebounds while shooting 50% from the field and 35% from three respectively. On the downside, his slim, Kevin Durant like frame makes it difficult for him to defend the post. The weight room never hurt anyone!
With Rudy Gay recovering from a torn Achilles and possibly on his way out the door, this could be a solid pickup in the NBA draft for the Sacramento Kings in terms of rebuilding. Isaac can make an impact in his rookie season but it’s possible he won’t flourish until he’s a couple years in.
4. Josh Jackson (Kansas) Phoenix Suns
A savage and a scorer, Josh Jackson did what any top 10 recruit should do their freshman year, ball out.Putting up 17 points and 7 rebounds per contest, there were moments during his only season at Kansas where he was completely un-guardable.
The athleticism and “kill” attitude of Josh Jackson is why he is easily a top five draft pick. When his team needed him to, Jackson exhibited that takeover ability that more times than not, carried the Jayhawks to a W.
He also has a knack for getting his teammates involved and making them better all while playing within his own game. On the defensive side of the ball, his athleticism and 6’9” wingspan made it difficult for any defender or pass to get by him without contest.
Where Josh Jackson struggles the most is his shooting. As an aggressive and athletic wingman, being able to play inside and make jump shots is imperative. At Kansas, Jackson shot 52% from the field and only 28% from deep. In addition to his shooting ability, his athleticism will have him making frequent flyer trips to the free throw line and shooting only 54% from the line will have to improve.
The Phoenix Suns guard-play has been steadily growing and they really can’t be ignored anymore. Booker and Bledsoe will give any backcourt the blues and with the addition of Jackson who is skillful to play the two-guard or small forward, it provides the Suns with another viable option.
3. Lonzo Ball (UCLA) Philadelphia 76ers
Lonzo had a remarkable freshman year at UCLA breaking records and creating new ones. Previously held by Gary Payton (second pick in the 1990 NBA Draft), Lonzo set the single season assist record for any PAC-12 freshman with 274 assists.In addition to this feat, he also scored 15 points a game while leading the nation in assists with 7.6 per game.
Weapons like Isaac Hamilton and Bryce Alford on his port and starboard made the job easy for Lonzo. A true floor general, Lonzo is definitely a pass first type point guard. But don’t let his relaxed personality and posture fool you. Lonzo Ball possesses the athleticism and poise worthy of a NBA jersey.
Defense. Defense. Defense. If Lonzo is going to be relevant in the league, he will need to improve his on ball defense as well as his awareness in the presence of screens. Although the athleticism is there, he still needs to increase his overall strength to compete against the bigger and stronger guards of the league. His lackluster defense was exhibited when Kentucky point guard De’Aaron Fox ran Lonzo out the gym with 39 points and a win.
In addition to his defense, Lonzo will need to develop a consistent mid-range jumper. The problem lies in his shooting mechanics. Because he has to bring the ball across his whole body, defenders have plenty of time to recover to contest the shot.
If Lonzo is going to be any type of offensive threat, he’ll need a quicker release and a consistent 15-18 foot jump shot. Shooting only 67 percent from the free throw line, Ball will need to be trusted to knock down free throws.
Lonzo Ball may have the most unconventional shooting style in the draft… pic.twitter.com/Y3x9yA2A9C
— ProCity Hoops (@ProCityHoops) May 27, 2017
If all the stars are aligned, Adam Silver is in a good mood, and Magic doesn’t trust his gut, Lonzo will be a Laker. But in my strongest opinion, Fox is a better player and athlete and could very well shuffle the deck by being selected before Lonzo.
Bottom line, Lonzo is definitely a top 3 draft pick and the 76ers, including Joel Embiid could definitely use him if they’re going to take LeBron down.
2. De’Aron Fox (Kentucky) Los Angeles Lakers
Fox was the X-factor and catalyst to this already great Kentucky team. His speed and quickness made it impossible for any guard to stay in front of him during the regular season and the NCAA tournament.
Averaging 17, five assists, and four rebounds per game, Fox was most effective in the open court with and without the ball. This opened up the dribble penetration for him which allowed gunslingers like Malik Monk to fill it up. Fox also possess a very strong and consistent mid-range jumper.
Fox will need to increase his overall strength upon entering the league. Similar to Lonzo, his thin frame will make it hard to keep up with veteran guards on ball as well as off of a switch. Contrary to Lonzo, Fox is more of a score first point guard. Fox is also a much better free throw shooter than Ball, shooting 74% from the charity stripe. Although have a three point shot is essential, being able to knock down free throws as a guard in mandatory.
— Wildcat Dunks (@WildcatDunks) March 18, 2017
The Lakers will be a good fit for Fox. Once he develops a consistent 3 point shot, he and Russel in the backcourt will put up a competitive fight.
1. Markell Fultz ( Washington) Boston Celtics
Despite barely seeing him play in his only season at Washington, (Thank you ESPN and YouTube), Markelle Fultz is the real deal. The most NBA ready guard in the NBA Draft, Fultz is like a $5 dollar box from Popeye’s; a complete package. A very strong and physical player, Fultz can finish at virtually anywhere on the floor. He is very shifty which allows him to penetrate at will and finish despite the contact.
His basketball IQ, court awareness and vision will accelerate his success in the league. He already has the blueprint and talent to be an immediate go-to man.
There wasn’t much of any weakness when I saw Fultz perform at Washington. He does have a tendency to take plays off, particularly on defense. But with him headed to Beantown, Celtics coach Brad Stevens will be able to redirect his focus.