NBA Draft prospect rankings 5.0: One key number that defines each player in the class of 2017

  • NBA Draft prospect rankings 5.0: One key number that defines each player in the class of 2017

    The college basketball season is officially over, meaning we have the entire sample of games that we're going to get this season from a statistical standpoint. 

    MORE: Every team's biggest NBA draft regret ever

    With that in mind, the Sporting News NBA Draft Big Board (now version 5.0) has been updated with an emphasis on one number that either tells you about what makes that player an awesome prospect, or how that prospect has improved his stock this season. All of the statistics are taken from either Synergy Sports Technology, or from sports-reference.com and its invaluable play index finder. 

  • 1 G Markelle Fultz, Washington freshman

    Status: In, with agent

    One Key Number: 50.4 effective field goal percentage on jump shots off the dribble, second among all top-50 prospects, 5th among all high-major players with at least 100 attempts

    VIDEO: Fultz declares for NBA Draft, thanks Huskies fans

    Fultz is an absolute killer in the pick-and-roll because of his versatility and ability to score at all three levels. In today’s NBA, being able to create jump shots as well as efficiently knock them down from all over the floor as a ball handler puts immense pressure on the defense. That, along with his explosive athleticism and underrated passing ability, makes him the best all-around offensive prospect in this draft. 

  • 2 F Jayson Tatum, Duke freshman

    Status: In, with agent

    One Key Number: One of three high-major freshman to reach these statistical thresholds in last 24 seasons: 16.8 points per game, 7.3 rebounds per game, 2.1 assists per game and 56.6 true shooting percentage (Ben Simmons, one other below)

    MORE: Where does Duke land in SN's way-too-early Top 25?

    Tatum’s freshman season started poorly, but because of that first impression it feels like his play down the stretch may have gone slightly unnoticed. Tatum is a tremendous isolation scorer, but the strides he made in his floor game later in the season shouldn’t be overlooked. He’s become a good passer and a tough rebounder for his size. Defensively, he still has moments where he lacks effort, but he showed improvement from high school through being a switchable, smart player on that end. 

  • 3 G/F Josh Jackson, Kansas freshman

    Status: Not yet announced, expected in

    One Key Number: 58.6 effective field goal percentage on catch-and-shoot jumpers, top 25 percent of all Division I shooters

    MORE: 10 greatest Kansas players of all time

    Throughout the season, Jackson became more comfortable shooting the ball off the catch. He checks all of the boxes in terms of killer mentality on the floor and athleticism, but the jump shot was a major concern. The jury is still out on how he will extend out to the 3-point line given his mechanics, but he at least showed some potential to hit shots this season. 

  • 4 PG Lonzo Ball, UCLA freshman

    Status: In, expected to hire agent

    One Key Number: First ever college basketball player to shoot 70-plus percent from 2-point range and 40-plus percent from 3-point range with over 100 attempts from each range

    MORE: LaVar Ball says "white guy" comments were misunderstood

    He’s the driving force behind one of the top offenses in the country, telling me earlier this year that "it’s nothing to pass up a good shot for a great one." Beyond that, he has a nose for the basketball, as his six rebounds and two steals per game show. There are concerns here defensively and in terms of pure explosive athleticism, but Ball has been one of the best players in all of college basketball as a freshman and projects well to the next level.

  • 5 PG De'Aaron Fox, Kentucky freshman

    Status: In, with agent

    One Key Number: One of eight true freshmen to put up 16 points per game, 4.5 assists per game and 3.5 rebounds per game; the other seven draft-eligible players: Dennis Smith, Markelle Fultz, Ben Simmons, D’Angelo Russell, Cameron Payne, John Wall — all either projected lottery picks or past lottery picks

    MORE: 10 greatest Kentucky players of all time

    Fox will need to keep improving his strength physically in order to deal with the grind of long seasons, but he affects the game in so many ways on both ends of the floor that it’s difficult to see him not translating in some capacity. If he irons out the jump shot, he could end up being a top-10 point guard at the next level.

  • 6 G Dennis Smith, N.C. State freshman

    Status: In, with agent

    One Key Number: First freshman in 24 years to put up 18 points, six assists and four rebounds per game with a 56 percent true shooting percentage

    DEVENEY: As lottery picks declare, agent wars begin

    Smith is a bundle of explosiveness, possibly the best overall athlete in the draft between his first step and vertical leaping ability. He’s also a monster in the pick-and-roll. The concerns are a frail frame and an injury history, but his ceiling is as high any point guard not named Fultz in this draft. 

  • 7 G Malik Monk, Kentucky freshman

    Status: In, with agent

    One Key Number: 25th out of 2,577 Division I players in guarded catch-and-shoot jump shot points with a 63.6 effective field-goal percentage

    MORE: Calipari may not jump to NBA, but these coaches could

    Monk is a wildly effective shooter. Despite being undersized at 6-3, Monk’s ability to get elevation with a relatively high release point on his shot makes him an effective weapon even when going against tougher, longer players. This should translate easily to the NBA, making him a great option for a team with a high-level ball handler on the wing. 

  • 8 F Jonathan Isaac, Florida State freshman

    Status: In, with agent

    One Key Number: Only 16.1 percent of his offense came in "creation situations" (Isolation, pick-and-roll, post-up)

    MORE: 13 of the most ill-timed NBA Draft early entry decisions

    Isaac is an intriguing prospect due to the well-rounded nature of his game on both sides of the ball. However, Isaac only created offense for himself on 16.1 percent of his possessions, which shows just how tangential he was to the Florida State offense this season. It would really help Isaac if he could find a way to show evaluators during the pre-draft process that he can be assertive and capable of creating offense himself. 

  • 9 F Miles Bridges, Michigan State freshman

    Status: Undecided

    One Key Number: One of three high-major freshman to reach these statistical thresholds in last 24 seasons: 16.8 points per game, 7.3 rebounds per game, 2.1 assists per game and 56.6 true shooting percentage (Ben Simmons, Tatum)

    MORE: Most regrettable NBA Draft picks in every first-round spot

    Bridges was an underrated, impressive producer this season, showing off a large swath of skills that should translate to the next level as a type of connecting player that can be super valuable. He’s the top remaining player that still has not yet decided what his plans are.

  • 10 G Frank Ntilikina, France (1998)

    Status: Undecided

    One Key Number: 60.1 effective field goal percentage on catch-and-shoot jumpers, top 22 percent in all international competition

    MORE: Greatest foreign players in NBA history

    With Ntilikina, it’s always been known that he has the body and feel to play point guard in the NBA. Two questions persisted coming into the year: athleticism and shooting. Well, Ntilikina has done the best to quell the jump shooting, as he’s hitting a ton of open catch-and-shoot jumpers. This skill gives him a lot of margin for error in the NBA. Given his ability on the defensive end to pair with a 6-5 frame and near 7-foot wingspan, Ntilikina’s floor is quite high as an off-ball shooter and creator.

  • 11 PF/C Lauri Markkanen, Arizona freshman

    Status: In, with agent

    One Key Number: Only 7-footer in last 24 years to score 15 points per game, hit at least 65 3s, and make them at a 42 percent clip

    MORE: 10 greatest Arizona players of all time

    It’s not often that you can say that a player in an NBA Draft could turn into the best shooter at his position in the NBA. That’s exactly what you have here with Markkanen. He’s capable of creating his own looks out of the post or off of closeouts, but Markkanen could genuinely become an elite floor-spacer at the next level, which is extremely valuable. 

  • 12 G/F Terrance Ferguson, Australia (1998)

    Status: In

    One Key Number: 60.5 effective field goal percentage on spot-up shots, 10th in Australian NBL

    MORE: NBA Draft lottery's biggest busts of all time

    Look, let’s not necessarily sugarcoat things. Ferguson didn’t have the easiest time in Australia for Adelaide playing against high-level professionals. But one thing he did showcase was his tried-and-proven ability to knock down spot-up jumpers. Between that and his tremendous athleticism, he’s a good 3-and-D project for a team to take on.

  • 13 C Jarrett Allen, Texas freshman

    Status: In, without agent

    One Key Number: 16.2 points per game, 9.8 rebounds per game, 1.7 blocks per game in Big 12 play

    FLASHBACK: Allen throws down possible dunk of the year vs. WVU

    Allen was expected to come in and be the top freshman big man in the country, but he struggled early on to make an impact. However, he was a monster in Big 12 play after figuring things out midway through the season. If Allen decides to come out, he’s currently my pick for the top low-post center off the board. 

  • 14 F/C Isaiah Hartenstein, Germany (1998)

    Status: Undecided

    One Key Number: 14.7 points per game, 9.5 rebounds per game, 3.5 assists per game during U18 European Championships

    MORE: NBA Draft bust Darko Milicic admits he drank before practices

    Hartenstein was a member of the World Team taking on the United States team at Nike Hoop Summit in Portland. He’s a 7-1 monster who is not only skilled, but also a very mobile athlete. He’s a tremendous outlet passer, and he has the potential to shoot it from distance. 

  • 15 G Luke Kennard, Duke sophomore

    Status: In, with agent

    One Key Number: 1.122 points per possession as a pick-and-roll ball-handler, second in Division I among 441 players with at least 80 possessions. 

    MORE: Kennard's departure means Coach K has work to do

    There are about 20 different stats I could use to point out how ridiculously efficient Kennard was this year at Duke. The fact that he was one of the best spot-up shooters, one of the best shooters off the dribble and one of the best at runners is outrageously impressive. He was arguably the best, most efficient offensive weapon in college basketball in terms of scoring the basketball this season. 

  • 16 C Zach Collins, Gonzaga freshman

    Status: Undecided

    One Key Number: Only player in at least the last eight years to post a 70-plus true shooting percentage on 24 percent usage rate and nine percent block rate

    MORE: Gonzaga learns hard lesson about flawed nature of the game

    Collins’ ability to protect the rim as a 7-footer with his level of athleticism as well as his touch is remarkably impressive. He has the potential to be a shot blocker who can also stretch the floor, and there aren’t many of those players out there. He’s still raw and played just 17 minutes per game this season, but the talent is there.

  • 17 F Justin Jackson, North Carolina junior

    Status: Undecided

    One Key Number: 7.8 percent jump in 3-point percentage, 42 more made 3s than previous two years combined

    MORE: 10 greatest UNC players of all time

    Jackson was the ACC Player of the Year and led North Carolina to a title in large part due to his remarkable shooting improvement. He’s always been a tremendous midrange scorer, but now his ability to knock down shots should help translate his unique athleticism to the NBA. 

  • 18 C Justin Patton, Creighton freshman

    Status: In, with agent

    One Key Number: Pre Mo Watson Injury: 13.8 points per game, 6.6 rebounds per game, 72.7 field goal percentage;
    Post Mo Watson injury: 11.9 points per game, 5.8 rebounds per game, 61.5 field goal percentage

    VECENIE: How Patton blossomed into a one-and-done prospect

    Patton had a strong freshman season, showing off a lot of the tools that have scouts salivating. But his production without point guard Mo Watson in the lineup does cause some pause, as he was remarkably less active and efficient. He could still go in the lottery if a team falls in love with his blend of athleticism and skill. 

  • 19 F/C John Collins, Wake Forest sophomore

    Status: In, without agent

    One Key Number: 1.609 points per possession in roller situations following screens, second out of 352 Division I players with at least 30 possessions

    MORE: Early-entry list, biggest players who have declared so far

    Collins was maybe the most efficient high-volume big man in the country this season, scoring effectively at the rim, out to 15 feet and in a variety of situations, including post-ups and rolls. Rolling to the rim will be a big part of his game in the NBA, and the ability to show efficiency is important. Defense is still a major question mark, as is his length. But there’s a lot to like from Collins as a potential third big man who provides offense.

  • 20 C Bam Adebayo, Kentucky freshman

    Status: In, without agent

    One Key Number: Kentucky: No.7 defensive efficiency rating in KenPom

    MORE: Top 10 Kentucky players of all time

    Defense is one of those difficult things to measure. However, Adebayo’s impact on Kentucky’s defense due to his ability to protect the rim, switch on the perimeter and cut off guard penetration played a major impact in cultivating a top-10 defense, especially when considering the Wildcats had no other truly defensively-capable bigs. 

  • 21 C Harry Giles, Duke freshman

    Status: In, with agent

    One Key Number: 300 competitive minutes played in last two seasons

    MORE: Giles is the most volatile first-round prospect in recent memory

    Giles didn’t get a chance to show off his impressive skills this season as he continued to recover from injury. Will he do it in the future? Who knows? But one number worth tracking not only from a playing time standpoint, but also from a development standpoint is that he’s only logged 300 minutes the last two years. That’s significant time he’s missed where he could have improved in terms of feel and basketball IQ. 

  • 22 F Semi Ojeleye, SMU junior

    Status: In, without agent

    One Key Number: 61.9 effective field goal percentage on all jump shots, 10th among 395 players in Division I who took at least 180

    MORE: Most regrettable NBA Draft picks in every first-round spot

    Ojeleye is a bit older, but he’s morphed into a legitimate two-way prospect who can both guard in the post and on the perimeter defensively, as well as knock down shots at 6-7. His shooting ability drastically improved in the transfer year he took off at SMU, and it moved him from being a potential all-league player to a potential NBA rotation player. 

  • 23 F OG Anunoby, Indiana sophomore

    Status: In, with agent

    One Key Number: Pre-Anunoby Injury, Indiana defense allowed 0.97 points per possession;
    Post-Anunoby Injury, Indiana Defense allowed 1.11 points per possession

    MORE: 10 greatest Indiana players of all time

    Anunoby profiles as possibly the best defensive player in the draft, a long forward who can switch onto multiple players and make plays at the weak side of the rim as a protector. However, he tore his ACL midway through January, and the school has been mum as to the exact nature of the injury. Also, his offensive game hasn't come close to catching up yet. Still, Anunoby is a player worth watching as a potential first-round pick if he leaves.

  • 24 F Rodions Kurucs, Latvia (1998)

    Status: Undecided

    One Key Number: Small sample, but 9th among 1,069 international players at 1.545 points per possession off screens (min. 20 possessions)

    MORE: Greatest foreign players in NBA history

    Kurucs plays for Barcelona’s second division team as a 6-8 wing type of forward creator. He can shoot it, and is highly skilled at passing as well as finishing above the rim. Still more project than finished product, though.

  • 25 G Donovan Mitchell, Louisville sophomore

    Status: In, without agent

    One Key Number: 2015-16 shooting: 40.0 effective field goal percentage on catch-and-shoots, 41.4 percent off-the-dribble;
    2016-17 shooting: 56.7 effective field goal percentage on catch-and-shoots, 43.8 percent off-the-dribble

    MORE: 10 greatest Louisville players of all time

    Mitchell has always been an elite athlete with tremendous length, but he opened up the rest of his game this season by becoming a better jump shooter. With that skill in tow, Mitchell should be able to become a solid backup combo guard, especially appealing to teams that have bigger lead ball handlers (a la, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, and Houston).

  • 26 PF T.J. Leaf, UCLA freshman

    Status: In, with agent

    One Key Number: 1.173 points per possession on post-ups, first out of 489 Division I players with minimum 50 possessions

    MORE: 10 greatest UCLA players of all time

    Leaf is a diverse offensive weapon who can attack mismatches in the post, knock down shots from the outside and really pass it. The key is defense with Leaf, as he needs to prove that he can be something resembling a useful switching player on the perimeter with his athleticism. 

  • 27 PG Jawun Evans, Oklahoma State sophomore

    Status: In, with agent

    One Key Number: 99 points on runners this season, third in Division I

    MORE: 11 college stars who skipped the NBA Draft and how their team fared

    It’s tough for small point guards to consistently make an impact, especially ones who struggle to finish around the rim like Evans. However, his ability to make floaters and runners could help to make him a more efficient shot creator for himself than he otherwise could be. 

  • 28 G Monte Morris, Iowa State senior

    Status: Senior

    One Key Number: 4.65 assist-to-turnover ratio, all-time NCAA leader; led country three of four seasons

    MORE: Most despised college basketball players of all time

    Morris is a metronome of offensive consistency. He’s a tremendous playmaker for others who keeps the ball on his side of the ledger instead of turning it over. He’s also made over 50 percent of his 2-point shots in each of the last three years, and hit 38 percent of his 3s over his career. Morris profiles as the perfect backup point guard for the modern NBA, which is absolutely worth a first-round pick. 

  • 29 F Tyler Lydon, Syracuse sophomore

    Status: In, with agent

    One Key Number: 1.175 points per possession on jump shots, second among high-major players 6-9 or taller with at least 120 attempts

    MORE: 12 greatest Syracuse players of all time

    Lydon is a strong athlete who has also shown the ability to extend his range out past the NBA 3-point line. His jump shot is the skill that will carry him to the NBA, but he’ll need to show the ability to consistently rebound and defend at the next level in order to stick. 

  • 30 F/C Johnathan Motley, Baylor junior

    Status: In, without agent

    One Key Number: Eighth among high-major players in post-up points including passes

    MORE: 2016 NBA Draft grades for every team

    Motley is out for 4-8 weeks due to a torn MCL, per Jon Givony of Draft Express. It’ll be interesting to see if he decides to return because of that or come out anyway. Regardless, Motley has an impressive mix of length, lateral athleticism and fluid body movement.

  • 31 Just missed the cut ...

    31. Josh Hart
    32. D.J. Wilson
    33. Ike Anigbogu
    34. Ivan Rabb
    35. Frank Mason
    36. Sindarius Thornwell
    37. Grayson Allen
    38. Caleb Swanigan
    39. Tony Bradley
    40. Anzejs Pasecniks
    41. Jaron Blossomgame
    42. Arnoldas Kulboka
    43. Dwayne Bacon
    44. Jonathan Jeanne
    45. Jordan Bell
    46. Wesley Iwundu
    47. Andrew Jones
    48. Edmond Sumner
    49. Cameron Oliver
    50. Mathias Lessort

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