The Vertical's first-round draft analysis

Jonathan Givony
The Vertical


1. Philadelphia (from Boston): PG Markelle Fultz
Washington
Freshman
Ht./Wt.: 6-4, 195
Age: 19
A late bloomer with elite lead guard tools, unique athleticism and scoring instincts. Fultz has off-the-ball potential, and the vision and creativity to facilitate out of ball screens. He is the type of versatile guard every NBA franchise is looking to build around. His positional size and 6-10 wingspan give him excellent versatility defensively, and his shot creation and herky-jerky style of play fit perfectly with today’s NBA spacing. A real candidate to contribute immediately and develop into a franchise-level lead guard, as long as he shoots consistently and ups his intensity on the defensive end.

2. L.A. Lakers: PG Lonzo Ball
UCLA
Freshman
Ht./Wt.: 6-6, 190
Age: 19
One of the most intriguing guard prospects in some time. The pride of Chino Hills, California, creates excitement with his pinpoint outlet passes, open-court speed, 30-foot stepbacks and elite basketball instincts. His unselfishness is infectious and fits perfectly with the modern NBA’s emphasis on pace, three-point shooting and dunks. He is not going to break defenders down with combo moves or put all that much pressure on the rim in the half court, but he knows how to win and makes his teammates better. His half-court scoring, ability to handle ball pressure and physical defensive skills still remain in question.

3. Boston (from Philadelphia): SF Jayson Tatum
Duke
Freshman
Ht./Wt.: 6-8, 204
Age: 19
A smooth, modern-day NBA combo forward with a deadly mid-post game, polished footwork, developing 3-point stroke and ideal reach and frame that will allow him to play a lot of power forward in smaller lineups. His overall production in the ACC, the NCAA’s toughest conference, suggests he’ll be able to contribute on the offensive end right out of the gates. His 3-point stroke and defensive intensity still have room to improve, and he can be a bit isolation-heavy in his approach, but there’s not much downside in a plug-and-play forward who can get a bucket in the half-court.

(Getty Images)

4. Phoenix: SF Josh Jackson
Kansas
Freshman
Ht./Wt.: 6-8, 203
Age: 20
An explosive do-it-all wing prospect who impacts the game on both ends. Jackson can slash, pass and defend, and plays with an intensity and grit that, while often bordering on instability, could become a major asset if channeled correctly. His long-term upside will be largely determined by his shooting progress. Is he the 26.9 percent 3-point shooter we saw through the first two months of the season with Kansas or the 42.2 percent marksman scouts raved about during the final three months?

5. Sacramento: PG De’Aaron Fox
Kentucky
Freshman
Ht./Wt.: 6-4, 171
Age: 19
Fox is the most functional athlete in the draft. His quick-twitch, explosive change of pace and effortless bounce make him an open-court nightmare. He can collapse a defense without a ball screen in the half-court, welcomes contact and is willing to defend the length of the court. His 39-point NCAA tournament outburst against Lonzo Ball speaks to his gamer mentality, and the Houston native’s work ethic, lively personality and fearless nature have impressed scouts. His one glaring hole is shooting. While not quite as poor as the 24.5 percent 3-point shooter he was in college, Fox has yet to prove he can make enough threes to keep defenses honest. His so-so decision-making will need to improve to ease his transition to the NBA, but he has star potential if he is able to turn into at least a respectable perimeter shooter.

6. Orlando: SF/PF Jonathan Isaac
Florida St.
Freshman
Ht./Wt.: 6-11, 205
Age: 19
A versatile defender who should be able to guard one through four and make enough spot threes to keep the defense honest. A late bloomer who sprouted almost half a foot in one year, Isaac has the feet and fluidity of a guard with the reach of a center. A bit thin-framed, he competes on the defensive end, is a willing rebounder and knows his role, which is part of the downside on the other end of the floor. He is often happy to fade into the background as a ball-mover on offense, which may limit his offensive upside a bit. But versatility is the name of the game in today’s NBA, and Isaac’s two-way impact could make him a very valuable piece on a winning team.

7. Chicago (from Minnesota): PF Lauri Markkanen
Arizona
Freshman
Ht./Wt.: 7-0, 225
Age: 20
A Finnish 7-footer who ranked among the top international prospects in his age group. He opted to ply his trade in college where he was perhaps the top big-man jump shooter in NCAA history. His tremendous shooting ability gives him an obvious niche at the next level. He has excellent skill level for his size and is very fluid and coordinated, but lacks a degree of length and explosiveness. His rebounding and defensive potential is not particularly high despite his size and he will need to get stronger and tougher.


8. New York: PG Frank Ntilikina
Strasbourg (France)
International
Ht./Wt.: 6-5, 170
Age: 18
Ntilikina is a versatile, defense-first guard with elite size and length, a high basketball IQ, a professional approach and improving scoring ability. He should be able to defend one through three in time, thanks to his quick feet, long strides, 7-foot wingspan and competitiveness. He can play out of a ball screen, make spot threes with time and space, and make plays off closeouts. Ntilikina doesn’t have a lot of holes in his game, although he’s not quite elite at anything. He was asked to defer on a championship-contending squad, and it remains to be seen how Ntilikina, who is more smooth than explosive, will be able to score at the NBA level.

9. Dallas: PG Dennis Smith
North Carolina St.
Freshman
Ht./Wt.: 6-3, 197
Age: 19
Explosive, physical guard prospect who has excellent scoring potential and the quickness – although not quite the mentality – to be a two-way player. Perhaps the most powerful two-foot leaper in the draft despite tearing his ACL in 2015, Smith’s highlight package looks like that of an NBA All-Star’s. He changes gears, attacks the rim aggressively and has made major strides as a shooter off the dribble and off the catch. Smith’s poor defensive effort, occasional “me-first” play and lack of impact on winning have scouts thinking twice despite his tremendous upside. If Smith can continue to develop winning habits within a strong organization, he could outplay his draft slot considerably.

10. Portland (from Sacramento): PF/C Zach Collins
Gonzaga
Freshman
Ht./Wt.: 7-0, 230
Age: 19
A mobile 7-footer who burst onto the national scene with an outstanding showing in the NCAA Final Four. He put up some of the best numbers in the country on a per-40-minute basis in a backup role for Gonzaga. He rebounds and blocks shots at a good clip and shows good scoring instincts, including from 3-point range. He needs to improve his awareness, basketball IQ, and mental and physical toughness.

11. Charlotte: Malik Monk
Kentucky
Freshman
Ht./Wt.: 6-4, 197
Age: 19
A bucket-getter with NBA range, elite scoring instincts and no conscience from the perimeter. Explosive yet not the most functional athlete in space, Monk is a highlight waiting to happen who scored 47 points against eventual NCAA champion North Carolina in Las Vegas in December. Averaging 19.8 points per game as a freshman in Lexington is no easy feat, but the rest of his game is a work in progress. He’s more of a shot-maker than combo guard, is not the sharpest decision-maker and is likely best guarding point guards because of his average size and length. That said, shooting is now at a premium, and Monk’s otherworldly confidence gives him a great foundation as the rest of his game develops.

12. Detroit: SG Luke Kennard
Duke
Sophomore
Ht./Wt.: 6-6, 202
Age: 20
Kennard is one of the draft’s best shooters. He took a major step forward this past season and continued to help himself throughout the predraft process. He has shown some combo-guard potential with his ability to operate out of the pick-and-roll and find open teammates. He’s an average athlete who projects as somewhat of a defensive liability with his short wingspan and poor lateral quickness. Will his shot-creation prowess translate against NBA-level defenders?

13. Utah (from Denver): SG Donovan Mitchell
Louisville
Sophomore
Ht./Wt.: 6-3, 210
Age: 20
A long-armed, athletic combo guard who blossomed into a potential lottery pick with a strong predraft process. Mitchell is a multi-position defender who excels in transition and can make shots with his feet set and off the dribble. Not an efficient scoring option, but fits the mold of physically gifted, versatile guards who are now en vogue in the league.

14. Miami: C Bam Adebayo
Kentucky
Freshman
Ht./Wt.: 6-10, 250
Age: 19
A slightly undersized big man who is long, chiseled and explosive. He has excellent mobility and agility for a big man, which gives him defensive versatility. He uses his strength to score around the basket but is unpolished away from the rim. He can track down offensive rebounds but needs to improve his awareness as a passer and shot-blocker. He also can improve his effort on the defensive glass and learn to play within his skill set.

15. Sacramento (from Portland): SF Justin Jackson
North Carolina
Junior
Ht./Wt.: 6-8, 193
Age: 22
Jackson was the leader of UNC’s national championship squad. He took a big step forward as a junior after testing the draft waters last season. He’s an average athlete, but has a high IQ, polished skills and outstanding intangibles. His cleaner, faster release has helped him become more efficient in every aspect of his shooting. He gets quality looks in the flow of the offense but is just an average creator off the dribble. His lanky frame is a concern on defense, but he communicates well and is competitive. He might lack some upside, but he likely will have a clear-cut role, even early in his NBA career.


16. Minnesota: C Justin Patton
Creighton
Freshman
Ht./Wt.: 7-0, 226
Age: 20
Patton is an athletic center who gets most of his offense from others either in transition, off cuts or via offensive rebounds. He has good hands but is not always willing to play through contact around the basket. He prefers to play on the perimeter, but his jump shot needs a mechanical overhaul. He’s not a natural rebounder, but his quick feet allow him to switch onto guards.

17. Milwaukee: PF D.J. Wilson
Michigan
Sophomore
Ht./Wt.: 6-10, 240
Age: 21
Wilson has a good frame, impressive mobility and tremendous length. He has perimeter skills after growing a few inches late in high school. He didn’t play much early in his Michigan career. He’s an efficient finisher in the paint but avoids contact. He’s a 37 percent 3-point shooter who projects to improve. He can attack the rim off the dribble but has to become a tougher player to match up against NBA big men. He can protect the rim but doesn’t fight on the glass as a rebounder. His defensive awareness and willingness to get stops need to improve.

18. Indiana: PF T.J. Leaf
UCLA
Freshman
Ht./Wt.: 6-10, 220
Age: 20
Leaf’s offensive versatility was ideal for playing alongside Lonzo Ball. Leaf is a fluid athlete who shows good bounce in space and has some touch, but he has had difficulty finishing against length at the rim. He shot 46.6 percent from 3-point range in a small sample size, but there are questions about how his mechanics will translate to the NBA. His mobility, ball-handling and passing should play well in space as a pick-and-pop or pick-and-roll threat. Where he can contribute defensively is an issue because he is not overly quick or physical and struggles covering ground in space.

19. Atlanta: PF John Collins
Wake Forest
Sophomore
Ht./Wt.: 6-10, 225
Age: 19
A late-blooming big man who led the NCAA in player efficiency rating this past season. An explosive athlete with a chiseled frame and a tremendous motor. He’s an instinctive scorer who can finish around the basket, get easy baskets in transition, operate with his back to the hoop and finish pick-and-roll lobs. Collins is a tenacious rebounder on both ends despite not having great length. Has shown flashes of being a jump shooter throughout the predraft process. Not a great passer due to average awareness. Defense is a major red flag. He’s not always an effective paint presence and was often out of position or trying to avoid foul trouble.


20. Sacramento (from Portland): C Harry Giles
Duke
Freshman
Ht./Wt.: 6-11, 222
Age: 19
Giles was the No. 2-rated recruit in high school in an excellent freshman class. He’s suffered three knee surgeries that have robbed him of much of the quickness, explosiveness and confidence that made him such a prized prospect. He still has good tools for a near 7-footer with a 7-3 wingspan. He plays hard and isn’t afraid to throw his body around. He showed some offensive flashes in high school, but to what extent can he regain the athleticism that made him such a promising player?

21. Oklahoma City: SG Terrance Ferguson
Adelaide, South Australia (National Basketball League)
International
Ht./Wt.: 6-7, 186
Age: 19
A skinny, explosive wing from Tulsa, Oklahoma, who made the unconventional decision to spend his one-and-done season in Australia, where he had an up-and-down year. He’s primarily a catch-and-shoot transition finisher who shows flashes defensively with his 6-9 wingspan. He’s barely been able to add weight to his narrow frame in the past three years and isn’t much of a ball-handler, passer or shot creator. He had a difficult predraft process and appears far from being able to contribute to an NBA team at this stage.

22. Brooklyn: C Jarrett Allen
Texas
Junior
Ht./Wt.: 6-11, 224
Age: 19
Allen has impressive mobility and length, and a frame that should fill out nicely. He has a 7-5 wingspan, excellent hands and soft touch around the basket. He’s shown flashes facing the basket and with his back to the hoop, but is not consistent yet. He hasn’t shown he can impact games and appears to be several years away from contributing at the NBA level. He also lacks toughness, intensity and basketball IQ.

23. Toronto: SF/PF OG Anunoby
Indiana
Sophomore
Ht./Wt.: 6-8, 215
Age: 19
A late-blooming, long-armed combo forward with multi-positional defensive potential. Has a 7-2 wingspan and is a career 37 percent 3-point shooter, giving him clear three-and-D potential. He has only 868 minutes of college experience after getting off to a slow start as an unheralded freshman and then tearing his ACL midway through his sophomore season. He’s a fairly limited offensive player with an average feel for the game. He shows flashes defensively but isn’t consistent there either.

24. Denver (from Utah): SF/PF Tyler Lydon
Syracuse
Sophomore
Ht./Wt.: 6-10, 225
Age: 21
A sweet-shooting power forward with a nice feel for the game on both ends. A career 40 percent 3-point shooter in college, Lydon can play above the rim but isn’t adept at creating for himself off the dribble or scoring over length. He lacks a degree of length, which hurts his upside defensively, and wasn’t particularly consistent at the college level.

25. Philadelphia (from Orlando): C Anzejs Pasecniks
Gran Canaria (EuroCup)
International
Ht./Wt.: 7-2, 229
Age: 21
A Latvian big man who’s coming into his own just as he’s eligible for the draft. He has great size and a 7-3 wingspan to go along with impressive mobility and a developing skill set. He is among the most improved players in Europe, is efficient offensively and has great hands with a soft touch inside. He is improving in the post and has potential as a 3-point shooter. He lacks a degree of strength and toughness and is an average rim protector and passer.

26. Portland: PF/C Caleb Swanigan
Purdue
Sophomore
Ht./Wt.: 6-9, 247
Age: 20
Swanigan is undersized for the center position but has a 7-3 wingspan and a strong frame. He lacks great quickness or explosiveness, which limits his finishing and shot-blocking potential. He is an instinctive scorer who has made major strides expanding his offensive game away from the rim. He shot a career-best 45 percent from 3-point range this past season, which should help him translate to the NBA more effectively. He was a dominant rebounder at the college level using his physicality, length and feel. He struggles defending in space, which could be a major issue guarding pick-and-rolls. He’s not your modern-day NBA big, but he’s a hard worker who brings production and intangibles.

27. L.A. Lakers: PF Kyle Kuzma
Utah
Junior
Ht./Wt.: 6-9, 221
Age: 21
He has the physical tools, fluidity and budding skill set to fit the role of a modern-day NBA power forward. He can handle, pass and shoot, although the consistency of his jumper remains a question. He also shows good instincts as a rebounder. His stock rose because of a strong NBA combine showing. He shows flashes of versatility defensively, but his effort level is inconsistent and his awareness can be poor. He can find a suitable role if he proves he can guard his position.

28. Utah (from L.A. Lakers): C Tony Bradley
North Carolina
Freshman
Ht./Wt.: 6-10, 248
Age: 19
An old-school center with a 248-pound frame, 7-5 wingspan and 9-4 1/2 standing reach. He played a backup role on North Carolina’s championship squad, contributing primarily as an offensive rebounder and opportunistic finisher. He surprised some by electing to stay in the draft. He’s shown flashes of skill facing the basket and as a passer. He will need to overcome his lack of quickness and explosiveness, particularly on the defensive end.

29. San Antonio: PG/SG Derrick White
Colorado
Senior
Ht./Wt.: 6-5, 200
Age: 22
A big combo guard who emerged at Colorado out of the Division II ranks. He has tremendous instincts and scores in a variety of ways playing with or off the ball. He’s a capable jump shooter who plays with pace off the dribble and can score near the basket when opportunity presents itself. He’s very unselfish and has nice potential as an NBA role player. He was only 6-feet tall as a senior in high school and had no scholarship offers. He needs to continue to improve defensively and become a more vocal leader.

30. Lakers (from Utah): SG Josh Hart
Villanova
Senior
Ht./Wt.: 6-6, 204
Age: 22
A four-year player who led Villanova to the national title in 2016, Hart is an efficient college scorer who is not overly quick or explosive. He relies on his strength, smarts and footwork to create scoring opportunities. He mostly plays below the rim and may struggle to create and finish against elite athletes. He’s an improved perimeter shooter who changed his mechanics to help him adjust to the NBA line. He’s a smart, competitive defender who makes the most of his tools. He has a winning attitude and could carve out a role with the right team.

By using Yahoo you agree that Yahoo and partners may use Cookies for personalisation and other purposes