The 5 Tiers of Collegiate Draft Eligible Players in the 2018 NBA Draft by Jake Zoll

Foreword- After the extreme success of forecasting the skill level of the 2017 NBA draft, I decided to keep the tradition going. These are my accounts after watching 1000’s of hours of these players throughout the college season and are devoid of influence from mock drafts or opinions produced by the main stream NBA syndicate.

Tier 1- Franchise Changing Players

Marvin Bagley– Bagley projects to be the best prospect in this years NBA draft. He has exceptional dribbling for his size, which will allow him to face up from the mid range and put other big men in a precarious position. Bagley can make this mismatch even more advantageous if he further improves his already above average shot. Bagley also elevates off the floor exceptionally quick, which will make him a top flight offensive rebounder- a skill of growing importance considering the prevalence of the three ball in the modern NBA . Ultimately, Bagley represents the more polished option in comparison to the other super prospect in this draft, Deandre Ayton. Bagley will create more possessions for his team, run the floor at a more effective level, and ultimately score easier in the NBA than Ayton with his offensive diversity. The one glaring red flag for Marvin Bagley is his defensive impotence. Coach K ran a zone more than anytime in his illustrious career, because he did not believe Bagley could stop the pick and roll or stop opponents one on one. Bagley seems to be a sure thing to average 20 points and 10 rebounds, but it could be all for naught if he doesn’t play at least average defense, because then he would just be David Lee. Ultimately, he’s a teenager and I believe his defense will progress greatly throughout his young career. NBA Projection- Chris Boshpjimage (27)

Deandre Ayton– The other blue chip prospect, Deandre Ayton represents more of a 1990’s style center than his counterpart, Marvin Bagley. Ayton’s physicality seems to be the distinctive separator at 7’0″ 260 compared to Bagley at 6’11” 235. Ayton uses that size to bully smaller defenders and to complement his power game and has a nice touch to about 18 feet. Ayton also has defensive questions, but they pale in comparison to Bagley as Ayton seems to be a clear cut above Bagley defensively. The drawback to Drafting Ayton is that he handles the ball like a center. He remains hesitant to work off the dribble and looks rigid when he does. Considering the disappearance of the post up in the modern NBA, the team that drafts him will have to consciously run their offense through Ayton to get him involved, which seems very unappealing given the current state of the NBA. Another Ayton question mark lies in Ayton’s motor, which appears to teeter and disappear at some points in games. On the Andrew Wiggins to Russell Westbrook motor scale, Ayton is about a three compared to Bagley, who is about a seven. NBA Projection- Patrick Ewing

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Tier 2- Potential Franchise Changing Players

Zhaire Smith– I considered ranking Smith as my top prospect, but he still remains too raw to compare to the extraordinarily polished Ayton and Bagley. Zhaire Smith remains a beautiful prospect- especially in the current NBA. Not only the best athlete in this draft, he may be the best athlete in the past 10 years at the college level. He projects out to be a sure fire defensive stopper on the wing. The only question with Smith is his offensive diversity. He’s a non natural shooter that is steadily progressing but still would be considered well below average as a shooter at the next level. Additionally, he doesn’t have the ability to create space off the dribble as of yet. Unfortunately, Zhaire Smith does not have the offensive package to go along with the defense, but needs to be looked at as the highest upside prospect in the class. NBA projection- Scottie Pippen

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Tier 3- NBA Starters

Michael Porter Jr.- The sample size with Porter remains too small to make any definite claims at this point. The positive takeaways from Porter are his size, offensive diversity, and shooting touch. You just can’t teach being 6’11”, especially with guard skills. Porter seems to have a shooting touch that has great potential to be above average at the next level to complement this size. As a small forward, Porter should get his shot off with ease and give opposing defenses fits trying to matchup with his size on the wing. Porter also has the ability to play the stretch 4, which will give his coach the opportunity to diversify match-ups and lineup combinations. NBA projection- Rudy Gay

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Mohamed Bamba– This Texas big man has something Ayton and Bagley lack- elite defense. Bamba represents a legit rim NBA rim protector who can keep drivers out of the lane and also collect more than 10 rebounds a game. Because he has those two verifiable NBA skills, Bamba has an incredible chance to start in the NBA. Bamba’s downside lies in the fact he has a rudimentary offensive skillset devoid of an outside shot, midrange shot, or the ability to beat defenders off the dribble. NBA projection- Deandre Jordan

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Tier 4- Role Players with potential to work way into a rotation

Collin Sexton– Collin Sexton rocketed up draft boards as he carried a subpar Alabama program into the second round of the NCAA tournament this season. At 6’2 185, Sexton stands slight of frame and undersized as a guard. He also does not have even an average shot from anywhere on the floor. Despite that fact, Sexton is an honor roll student with a reputation for unrivaled character. This reality can most readily be seen on the defensive end where he projects to be a top of the line defensive asset in the NBA and can be a vocal leader of an NBA team. NBA projection- Patrick Beverly

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Shai- Gilgeous Alexander– Coach Calipari’s least heralded prospect coming into last season, Shai Gilgeous Alexander, may be the first Wildcat to get his name called at the NBA draft this year. Alexander is not a high end prospect because he projects to have almost no shooting upside. Other than that, Alexander is an extremely hard worker that gives exceptional effort and hustle every single play. Alexander will be a guard off the bench that can inject some energy into the game and create some turnovers, which provides a great return in the middle of the first round given the talent pool this year. NBA projection- Shaun Livingston

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Mikal Bridges– A major part of Villanova’s National Championship roster, Mikal Bridges, is the classic 3 and D prospect. He has very little ability to drive the basket, pass, or create from the mid range. Despite that fact, Bridges is an elite defender, athlete, and spot up shooter. Bridges fits better on a team further along in the construction of their teams compared to a team that is in rebuilding mode. NBA projection- Trevor Ariza

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Wendell Carter– The relic of the draft award goes to the unfortunate Wendell Carter Jr. Carter has exceptionally crafty post moves and can knock down the mid range jumper. He needs to be played through to be at all effective. In addition, Carter plays below average defense. If this draft were in 1990, Carter would be a surefire top 5 pick, but most of his skills are outdated in the current NBA. NBA projection- Lorenzen Wright

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Jaren Jackson– Contrary to Carter, Jackson only has value because of the trajectory of the modern NBA. Jackson is the ultimate swiss army knife on the defensive end as he can guard centers and guards equally effective. At 6’11’ 235, the fleet footed Jackson sparks intrigue as he can guard the pick and roll and handle switches with ease, which are two talents that are growing exponentially in value in the current NBA. Unfortunately, Jackson has almost no offensive upside. This can most aptly be seen in the NCAA tournament, where he recorded 8 points on 7 shots in two games and was a major contributor to Michigan State’s underwhelming tournament run. NBA projection- Jonathan Isaac

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Tier 5- Bench Players

Donte Divencenzo– The hero of the National Championship game was introduced to the national stage during the NCAA tournament, but for hard core fans of the collegiate game, Divencenzo was largely considered Villanova’s best player throughout the entirety of the season. Divencenzo ranks as the best shooter in the draft and also ranks as a top 5 athlete prone to high flying dunks and blocks. Divencenzo’s draw back is that he did a lot of his best work coming off the bench in college, which pitted him against reserves or more fatigued players. It remains to be seen if Divencenzo can be a factor as a starter- especially in the NBA. NBA projection- JJ Redick

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Gary Trent Jr.- Gary Trent remains a high upside question mark at this point. Despite the fact he can shoot at a high level, has exceptional size for a shooting guard at 6’5″, and can play stretches of great defense, Trent was the 4th best player on his college team. Because of this, Trent’s usage was relatively low and did not get an opportunity to accomplish the exceptional at the collegiate level. NBA projection- Danny Green

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Kevin Knox– Another fantastic shooter, Kevin Knox continues a run of guards that can shoot well but have deficiencies too great to overlook. In Knox’s case, he has below average athleticism for a guard and moves slowly laterally on defense. This makes Knox almost a sure-thing to be a bench option as Knox likely can’t guard NBA talent for 30 plus minutes night in and night out. Despite that fact, Knox is a good enough shooter to provide a spark off the bench and hit a couple threes. NBA projection- Nick Young

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Miles Bridges– The Caleb Swanigan award goes to Miles Bridges, reserved for players that should have probably came out a year sooner. Miles Bridges likely needed to improve drastically in his sophomore campaign just in order to hold his top 5 status he had going into last year’s draft. Bridges does almost everything at an average level. He shoots average, plays average defense, and has average to maybe above average athleticism. Bridges is a low upside low risk prospect, if there is such a thing. NBA projection- James Johnson

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Jalen Brunson– The cerebral Jalen Brunson seems to be a perfect fit for a championship contender. Brunson has shown exemplary ability to control the tempo of the game, find passing lanes to create scoring opportunities that many other guards miss at a far higher rate, and knock down the open three. Brunson’s clear drawback is that his athleticism/ size are deficient when compared to many of the NBA guards. Because of this, Brunson likely won’t be a top flight guard, but he can provide extreme stability off the bench as a back up point guard.  NBA projection- Andre Miller

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Lonnie Walker– The only redeeming quality for Lonnie Walker is the eye test. If this were last years draft, he would not even be close to making my list of prospects, but fortunately for Walker this class is considerably weaker. At 6’5″ 195 with above average athleticism, Walker just looks like an NBA player. Despite that fact, Walker was unimpressive at the collegiate level, averaging 10 points a game and disappearing all together in many games against elite competition. Walker does not have a go to move or way to really create distinct value to an NBA team. NBA projection- Luc Mbah Moutepjimage (41)

Aaron Holiday– The next of the Holiday clan, Aaron Holiday, projects to be worse at the NBA level than both of his NBA brothers- Justin and Jrue. Holiday possesses elite speed and quickness but lacks the ability to control those assets. Holiday often looks like a chicken with his head cut off and makes way too many mistakes for a point guard. Maybe there is something in the water for UCLA point guards…NBA projection- Dennis Smith

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Trae Young– The most overrated prospect in the draft is Trae Young. Trae Young’s shortcoming is trying to play like Stephen Curry, when he clearly does not have the requisite skill set to emulate Curry at a high level. The most apt comparison would be a young baseball prospect emulating Vladimir Guerrero, who would swing at pitches well out of the strike zone and even hit pitches that bounced prior to crossing the plate at points throughout his career. Although Vladimir was able to become one of the best MLB players of all time, their has only ever been one Vladimir Guerrero. As the famous saying goes ” Do as I say not as I do.” In the case of Trae Young, he routinely shoots multiple ultra contested threes from 30 plus feet in virtually every game he competes in, which explains his 36 percent three point percentage last season. With his 5 turnover a game average, slight frame, and extremely questionable shot selection, we are not looking at the next Stephen Curry. We are looking at the next bust in the NBA draft. NBA projection- Jimmer Fredette

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The Definitive Guide to Mayweather vs. McGregor

  1. The myth of McGregor being a massive underdog

The common narrative distributed through almost all media outlets states that McGregor has no chance and that the fight of the century is rather just a money grab for two attention (and money hungry) egotistical fighters. Max Kellerman, top boxing analyst and First Take personality, went as far to call this fight “a circus” and went on to say that McGregor will not land a single punch throughout the entire fight. Although Kellerman is an informed opinion, nobody compares to the boys in the desert at handicapping sporting events. When Las Vegas offers a line, it has been run by multiple experts, predictive models, and several stages of quality control. The money to be lost on this fight if the odds are even slightly off can be north of 8 figures. According to, Conor Mcgregor currently sits as a +300 underdog. Factoring in for house edge, Vegas handicappers believe that McGregor has a 22.5 percent chance of winning this fight. For a comparison to Mcgregor’s 3 to 1, lets look at some of the bigger upsets throughout sports history:

– Buster Douglas: February 11, 1990 Tokyo Japan vs Mike Tyson (42-1)

– Leicester City- Odds to Win 2016 Premier League (2500-1)

– Donald Trump- Odds to Win 2016 General Election- Opening Line (150-1)

– Mine That Bird- Odds to Win 2009 Kentucky Derby (50-1)

– New York Jets- Spread of Super Bowl III vs. Colts +18

So, in reality, McGregor beating Mayweather would not be the upset of the century, decade or in most cases even the week. The odds of McGregor winning this fight are actually 40 percent higher than the odds Stephen Curry makes his first two three pointers in a given game (16.9%). The interesting trend among whales, large bettors who control the majority of the action, is that they are NOT betting Mayweather. There has been zero 7 figure bets on Mayweather reported as of yet. This tends to indicate that the whales, who generally have analytics teams that rival a Wall Street trading firm, believe that McGregor actually has better than 22.5 percent chance of winning.

2. The Tale of the Tape


Age 40 29
Height 5’8″ 5’9″
Weight 151 lbs. 154 lbs.
Reach 72″ 74″
Record (49-0 boxing, 26 KOs) (21-3 MMA, 18 KOs)

The table mostly speaks for itself as Conor is the longer, younger, bigger fighter. I would like to add that the only deceiving thing about the chart is that McGregor usually walks around at 170lbs and should be around that weight come fight night.

Edge: McGregor McGregor3

3. Stylistic Similarity

Interestingly enough, Floyd and Conor have similar styles for two fighters who were groomed in vastly different settings. Floyd’s reputation for being a counter puncher is well noted, but the more accurate characterization would be: best combat defensive mind ever. Estimations range from experts that have studied all of his fights claim that he has only been hit clean as few as 5 times or as many as 9 times. In any event, to describe how remarkable that is for a boxer with 49 professional bouts under his resume would automatically be a euphemism. Conversely, Conor’s reputation for being an advancing brawler cannot be further from reality. McGregor, much like Floyd, bases his whole game-plan on the counter punch. The contrast stylistically on how these two defensive geniuses accomplish this task is in their spacing- Conor wants to keep a wide distance, while Floyd wants to keep the distance at a minimum. Conor represents the best distance controller in all of MMA. Conor consistently keeps an awareness of distance in attempts to be in a situation where his arms can reach you and you can’t reach him. He then waits for fighters to advance and expose themselves to his extremely accurate straight left hand, which generally marks the end of the fight. Conversely, Floyd can stand right in front of you and has an innate ability to know what’s coming next and roll with the punches and counter like a magician. His reaction time is to the point where he does not even have to cover his head with his gloves, because he is just that quick.

Edge: Mayweatherimgres

4. Punching Power

Another common myth perpetuated throughout the lead up to this fight is McGregor’s punching power advantage. The reputation for knocking down and knocking out many top line fighters in the UFC is skewed because of the glove sizing and stylistic differences that allow him to land a flurry of clean punches. In the super fight, McGregor will be using 8 oz gloves opposed to his regular 4 oz gloves, which will significantly reduce the force felt by Mayweather. Also, McGregor will unlikely be able to land heavy multi-punch combinations considering Floyd’s defensive ability. I.E. The idea of Conor being able to land the movie-like one punch knockout on Saturday is more likely fiction than fact. Likewise, Floyd has more punching power than most people think considering he’s usually fighting with 10oz gloves. Sports Science measured the two fighters average punching power and had McGregor at 845 LBF(Average pounds of force) and Mayweather at 815 LBF.

Edge: McGregorMcGregor3

5. Stamina

The best fights to look at to judge Conor’s chances are his fights vs. Nate Diaz. According to many boxing experts, Diaz has top level boxing talent and was respected enough to help number 1 pound for pound boxer Andre Ward via sparring. Of Diaz, Ward said ” (he) more than holds his own with me in the ring.” In his two bouts with Diaz, Conor dominated the early rounds with quicker hands and by controlling spacing and tempo. Unfortunately, the dominance of the early rounds was quickly replaced by dropped hands, sluggish movement, and diminished force on his punches. In both cases, Diaz was able to turn the fight 180 degrees, submitting him in the first bout and nearly getting a decision in the second bout. This may mark a seminole concern for fans of McGregor. Floyd notoriously looks just as fresh in the 12th round as in the first. If Conor’s endurance has not improved massively, his hands may drop again and Floyd will not be slow to take advantage of the fight at that point and likely end it before the full 12 rounds are completed.

Edge: Mayweather imgres

 Fight Prediction

            I see the early rounds going to McGregor as his kickboxing style spacing will be hard for Floyd to figure out early. A lot of people will be excited and juiced up about the potential upset in the making; however, as Floyd figures out how to close the spacing the fight will swing his direction. By this time, we will find out where McGregor’s conditioning is at. If McGregor still holds gas in the tank, we could be in for an all-timer. More likely, I think his hands drop and his head stops avoiding punches he was able to in the earlier rounds. This leads to a referee’s stoppage in the 10th round.


5 Ways to Gain an Edge in Your Fantasy Football Draft

  1.  Draft Ezekiel Elliot- Nothing against Doug Baldwin, but DOUG BALDWIN is ahead of Zeke in ESPN’s ADP (Average Draft Position) at the 25th overall average selection versus Elliot’s average of 28th position overall… DOUG BALDWIN. The opportunity to get a player that led the NFL in rushing by more than 300 yards along with 16 total touchdowns in the third round is clearly created for only one reason- the six game suspension. To ease owners worry about drafting a player that will be inactive for almost half of the Fantasy Football season, think Deangelo Williams last year backing up Le’veon Bell. Rushing Statistics can be influenced by extraordinary talent, but blocking schemes and team’s overall rushing style overwhelmingly determine fantasy output. Because of guys like David Decastro and Maurkice Pouncey, Deangelo Williams led the league in rushing yards during Le’veon Bell’s 3 game suspension. Surely, Bell’s dynamic elusiveness and pass catching ability provided a huge plus over Deangelo Williams as the season progressed, but Deangelo Williams was more than serviceable. In this similar situation, the Cowboys have the undisputed best run blocking line in the NFL, which means that Alfred Morris and Darren McFadden will also likely run wild in the first 6 weeks. Thusly, Draft Elliot in the 2nd round and then stash Morris and McFadden late and guarantee yourself the starting Dallas Cowboys Running Back for every week of the 2017 Fantasy Football season for an extremely low price for what you’re getting. When the playoffs roll around, and your third round pick is jumping into The Salvation Army pot for his third TD of the evening- you’re gonna like the way your team looks,I guarantee it- (Shoutout to Men’s Warehouse). The KEY to this move is getting Morris AND McFadden. If you are unable to get Elliot, still draft Morris and McFadden to leverage an advantageous trade with whoever gets ZEKE. ezekiel-elliott-cowboys-salvation-army-donations-kettle
  2. Defenses Win Championships- Year to Year, the most common “you would not believe how I lost in the fantasy playoffs story” revolves around how the opponents Defense threw up 20 plus points and caused their team to lose by a small margin, shockingly. For some reason, we treat Defenses as if they are some toss up category similar to kickers. The truth is matchups are extraordinarily projectable and create HUGE expected value over opponents defense if you have a favorable matchup against a poor offensive team. For example, last year the Los Angeles Rams scored an average of 12 points letting up 5 interceptions 9 sacks and 4 touchdowns to opposing defenses along the way in the fantasy playoffs last year. So, this year let’s not wait until the Falcons throw up 40 on us week 1 of the playoffs and let’s look ahead to how we can prepare ourselves for the money weeks. I believe we need to start with the Denver Broncos hosting the New York Jets in the altitude in blustery December Colorado weather in week 14- that should net you a minimum of ten points on your opponent. In week 15, we need to have the Seahawks on our roster as they host the Rams at Century Link field with the 12’s on hand. For the championship week, we are going to have to play it by ear because those teams are highly positive in expected value and we do not want to carry three defenses if at all avoidable. It is a must to draft both Denver and Seattle as it is unlikely they ever appear on the waiver wire, and it is highly unlikely to realize higher expected values over the course of the season from bench players drafted past the 10th round or so- with zero injury risk especially!                                                              Untitled-1_1369c2a9-00ba-4824-bbdc-ae35356d500d
  3. Find Value in Rookies in the later rounds- We all remember the rookie breakouts of Odell Beckham Jr., Ezekiel Elliot, and David Johnson. They all provided huge value over expected output for their given ADP, as rookies commonly do because of the innate uncertainty a rookie provides. Let’s identify some rookies in this year’s draft to yield us some return on our high risk selection. Christian McCaffery, Jamaal Williams, Mike Williams, and Corey Davis are all rookies that have an opportunity to be top fantasy players by year’s end. McCaffery has displayed extreme elusiveness at camp and is already considered the Panthers top Running Back, who will surely get 50 plus catches given his receiving prowess and the Panthers initiative to keep Cam Newton clean, and on his feet. If you’re looking to buy a little lower at running back, Jamaal Williams’s intrigue is undeniable as he looks to be the starting running back for a Super Bowl contender in the Green Bay Packers amidst Ty Montgomery’s recent injury. Williams may fall down the depth chart if Montgomery recovers as expected, but either way the opportunity to gain carries seems very plausible and can be stashed as an RB4 comfortably. Mike Williams and Corey Davis’s situation is uncanny as they are both top ten picks in the draft, who likely would have been the top target for quality fringe playoff quarterbacks if it weren’t for their unfortunate injuries. If they end up being healthy, their value is as high as a fantasy WR1 or at the lowest Fantasy WR2, but the injury situation seems to be more than a smoke screen. Both these talented wide-outs have the potential to yield quite the return, but it is essential to track their injury statuses closely leading up to your draft day decision if you look to pull the trigger on these wideoutsstanford-running-back-christian-mccaffrey-is-the-latest-college-football-star-to-skip-his-teams-bowl-game-to-prepare-for-the-draft.
  4. Don’t Draft a Player from a Terrible Team- Todd Gurley (LAR), Allen Robinson(JAX), Brandon Marshall(NYJ), Chris Ivory(JAX), Deandre Hopkins(HOU), Alshon Jeffery(CHI) all seemed to have a relatively gallant time wrecking many financial futures of young and old gentlemen alike across the United Nation of Fantasy Football Players. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Deandre Hopkins or any of these other players didn’t suddenly become terrible but that Brock Osweiler, Blake Bortles, Ryan Fitzpatrick, and Matt Barkley may have something to do with this. Furthermore, their teams created very few red zone and overall advantageous situations for them to compete in. It’s logical to reason that if a team does not score many points or record many yards throughout the season that the players on their roster will subsequently do the same. We know without much doubt these teams are as follows- Rams, Jaguars, Bears, Niners, Jets, Browns. If you must pick someone from these teams, please pick them later rather than sooner. Please avoid Jordan Howard, Todd Gurley, Leonard Fournette. It’s possible they may breakout but it’s too high of a risk given the team they play for. 11tavWCJ
  5. Discount Double Check– If you have a chance in the late 2nd or early third round, taking Aaron Rodgers is a pretty sound play. The conventional fantasy theory is that you don’t draft fantasy QB’s until later where you can still get a Matthew Stafford or Kirk Cousins and substitute that early round pick for a stud running back or wide receiver and theoretically you will be in a better collective position than if you had Rodgers and a mediocre skill position player. I think this year is slightly different because A-Rod is so clearly the number one given the fact he has a completely healthy Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams, and Randall Cobb with a bad defense behind him that should force him to put up massive numbers to compete in games throughout the season. I also believe that the Quarterback position is weakest top to bottom that it has been in recent years, which bolsters Rodgers value even further. Looking at last year, we can see that Rodgers(Top QB) outperformed the 10th best fantasy QB (Russell Wilson) by over 100 points over the course of the season. Given his late second round grade, I think it’s almost absurd not to take the guy who will almost surely lead all of fantasy in total fantasy points across all positions. b4ff22c56fec5d2e1140aaaf7de08f51--aaron-rodgers-greenbay-packers

The 5 Tiers of Collegiate Draft Eligible Players in the 2017 NBA Draft

The 5 Tiers of Collegiate Draft Eligible Players in the 2017 NBA Draft

By Jake Zoll


Throughout my years watching sports, the most imperfect science has been the NBA Draft. Similar mistakes happen year after year and people still become married instantly to popular mock drafts by people, who were horribly wrong just a year prior. Noticing this absurd system taking place, I decided to step in and propose a list uninfluenced or encumbered by any outside sources and just rely on the thousands of hours of college basketball I watch yearly. I do not profess to know the prospects of Europe and South America, so you will not find those players in the list below. This is not a mock draft of the order I think will happen, rather, this is a list of best 27 players available.

 TIER 1 (Franchise Changing Players)

  1. Markelle Fultz– The safest pick in the 2017 draft, Markelle Fultz, begs very few questions of scouts. With an above average 6’10” wingspan for a point guard and an innate ability to score the ball inside and out, Fultz lacks the publicity necessary for the skill level present because Washington failed to make the tournament and at most points in the season failed to even play at a competitive level within the pac-12. The old adage is that you need to be above average in one aspect of the game to make it in the NBA and Fultz exceeds this adage by sitting above average in almost every category. The separation Fultz has between Fox and Ball is built upon the versatility of his game. He has the length and quickness to develop into a Top 5 defensive Point Guard along with the ability to help out with rebounding game, which is extremely unique to see among a Power-5 Leading point scorer. NBA Comparison- Damian Lillard                                                         pjimage
  2. Jayson Tatum- Standing at 6’8” with a 6’11” wingspan, Jayson Tatum checks off every box in the franchise player checklist. He has the strength, length and post up ability to play power forward in the modern NBA’s small lineup along with the ability to use his slashing and outside shooting ability to also be a mismatch for many small forward defenders. Tatum would benefit greatly from being drafted by the Celtics, as Brad Stevens is notorious for optimizing versatile player matchups, which would create the best scoring opportunities for Tatum. Tatum represents the most ready to contribute player in this draft and should be the favorite to take home Rookie of the Year honors. Tatum tempts being number 1 overall based on the fact that forwards are much more valuable than guards, but ultimately Fultz appears to be much more than just a scoring guard. NBA Comparison- Paul Pierce  pjimage (1)
  3. OG Anunoby- Anunoby raises the ante with a staggering 7’3” wingspan despite being the same height as Tatum. Anunoby continues the trend of versatility and length being at a premium in this draft; this trend aligns with the changing landscape of the modern NBA. If you analyze the roster construction of the conference finalists of this years NBA season, it seems inevitable that the Future of the NBA will make versatile forwards an essential part of forming a roster. Whether the player is Jae Crowder, Lebron James, Draymond Green, or Kawhi Leonard; opposing teams found out the hard way the value of versatile forwards as they scrambled to switch up lineups furiously to attempt to minimize the mismatches that were created constantly with the help of these 4 players. Anunoby figures to be a defensive maestro with a 40 plus inch vertical, above average quickness, and a Stretch Armstrong-esque wingspan. Anunoby’s value could be clearly seen last year at Indiana when they beat Kansas and eventual National Champion UNC with Anunoby’s services and proceeded to miss the tournament when Anunoby suffered a season ending injury. Anunoby has the offensive game to produce right away to go along with being the number one defensive prospect in the draft. NBA Comparison- Kawhi Leonard                                                                      pjimage (2)                                                                                          
  4. De’Aaron Fox- De’Aaron Fox burst into the national conversation when he “surprisingly” recorded 39 points, while primarily being defended by Lonzo Ball in the 2017 NCAA tournament. The surprise in this performance to many onlookers was that Lonzo Ball appeared to be the better NBA prospect, but in reality Fox had been a far better looking prospect throughout the entirety of the season. Fox’s quickness represents his distinctive separation from other guards in this draft. With the emergence of the pick and roll as a primary method of offense throughout the NBA, Fox figures to dominate defenses in the open space created at the pick and roll mesh point, which will allow him to be almost un-guardable at the NBA level. Fox will debut in the NBA as a slashing pick and roll player, but he also has a shooting plane that may very well develop into an effective long-range jump shot. NBA Comparison- Russell Westbrook                                                             pjimage (3)

      TIER 2 (All-Star Potential with Development Needed)

  1.       Malik Monk- In prior years, Monk may have been seen as a late first round pick because he lacks the elite size and length at his position of shooting guard; however, Monk is the undisputed best shooter in this draft, which is at a premium in today’s NBA. Unlike many elite college shooters, Monk has displayed the ability to make shots when double-teamed and with a hand in his face. The fruits of his talents were most aptly displayed when he scored 47 on the soon to be national champion Tar Heels. Monk nailed 8 out of 12 three pointers, including a game tying three pointer with 1:20 remaining and a go-ahead three pointer with 19 seconds remaining, which would eventually seal the deal for the Wildcats. Monk NBA Comparison- Reggie Miller                                                                      pjimage (4)
  2. Donovan Mitchell– The best athlete in the draft award goes to Donovan Mitchell. If anyone in this draft class were to win a Dunk Contest, I believe this man is your front-runner. With a vertical leap measured as high as 40.5 inches and a wingspan of 6’10”, Mitchell seems poised to be a defensive nightmare for NBA opponents with exceptional length and explosiveness for a guard. Mitchell projects to be a 12-15 point scorer, which with his defensive prowess is quite serviceable. Although serviceable offensively, Mitchell does not have anywhere near the natural scoring ability of Monk, Fultz, or Tatum which drops his stock down the boards slightly despite his Elite NBA Frame and athleticism. Mitchell NBA Comparison- Dwyane Wade. A bold upside projection for Mitchell but the similarities to a young Dwyane Wade are quite recognizable as this could be Flash 2.0.                      pjimage (5)
  3. Justin Patton- The biggest surprise of this draft was how quickly Patton rocketed up draft boards. By the third week of the collegiate season, Creighton was one of the best teams of the country and Patton was leading the charge. Patton’s premier skill, rim protection, promises to keep him in the NBA for an extended period of time as he ranks among the top three rim protectors in the class. Not to mention, Patton shot 57 % from three in limited attempts and has a developed scoring arsenal that includes post scoring and mid range jumpers. As a prospect, Patton is extremely low risk given his defense and rebounding, and relatively high reward given his offensive possibilities. NBA Comparison- Brook Lopez                     pjimage (6)
  4. Jordan Bell– To keep within the trend of versatility being at a premium, Bell provides an extreme value. For some reason, NBA GM’s usually under evaluate guys that can protect the rim, guard multiple positions, and rebound at a high level. This was most recently seen when Draymond Green fell all the way into the warriors lap in the second round. Bell was the best shot blocker and one of the better rebounders in all of the NCAA and still is going under the radar. Jordan Bell, who led the ducks to a final four, is as close to a lock of being a really good NBA player as there is in this draft. NBA Comparison- Draymond Green.                pjimage (7)

TIER 3 (NBA Career Starters)

  1. Lonzo Ball– The most overrated player in year’s draft is getting a lot of tags that busts usually get. “He is a leader,” “He is a winner.” “He commands the floor.” Those are all well and good but the truth to his game is much more unappealing than the tags. The most discernable feature to Ball’s game is an unconventional across the plane jumper that can most nicely be graded as inefficient and more accurately described as a broken jumper that has no chance of being effective at the NBA level. Although he posted a respectable 41% from 3-point distance, he also shot 67% from the free throw line. I believe that free throws are more indicative of future shooting success because defenders will be better and longer at the next level and the three point line will also be pushed back a couple of feet from college. 67% free throws would put him at the very bottom among league point guards at the free throw line and he figures to rank near the bottom of every shooting category throughout his career unless his shooting stroke changes drastically. To go along with his questionable at best jump shot, Ball comes equipped as the worst defensive point guard in the draft with extremely slow foot speed that was highlighted last year as he quarterbacked for the worst defensive team in the NCAA tournament field and personally allowed 39 points against the only NBA level opponent he guarded in the NCAA tournament. The upside of Ball’s game is passing ability as he comfortably ranks as the best passer in this years draft, which should allow him to have a lengthy NBA career as an elite passer. Ball NBA Comparison- Ricky Rubio                                                                                                 pjimage (8)
  2. Caleb Swanigan– The wild card of the 2017 NBA draft, Biggie Swanigan, should realistically start watching the draft coverage around pick 8 and make sure there is enough space on his DVR to record into the early part of the second round. It’s hard to poke a hole in Swanigan’s college game as he posted 18 and 12 as a Sophomore National Player of the Year runner up. The curious case of Caleb Swanigan wonders how a projected top 10 pick in the 2016 NBA draft prior to his freshman season in almost every mock draft accessible has a monster college career and falls 30 spots in most similar mock drafts. Is this a statement about how we only value the one and done players? Or is it a statement that the center position no longer holds the same value as it once did? First off, one and done’s are proving to be overrated at the NBA level. Out of the First and Second all NBA teams in 2017, there is only 2 one and done’s out of the 10 best NBA players. All NBA first teamer, Russell Westbrook, averaged only 3 points as a freshman at UCLA, showed massive improvements and entered the draft as a sophomore similar to Swanigan. I think Westbrook’s career has been alright since being a sophomore draftee. Secondly, although the big man is becoming less relevant today, Swanigan represents the new wave of big man as he can step outside to stretch out the floor and keep proper spacing. He shot 45 percent from three- not bad for a guy with a 7’3” wingspan. Swanigan NBA Comparison Zach Randolph.                                                                                          pjimage (9)
  3. Josh Jackson– With extreme offensive limitations, Josh Jackson was unable to make Kansas into a Final Four team despite a seasoned roster including National Player of the Year Frank Mason and two other NBA prospects in Svi Mykhailiuk and Devont’e Graham. Jackson struggled mightily with shot creation and free throws. He finished the year at 56 percent from the free throw line and was never able to carry Kansas offensively because of his below average jumper and awful free throw shooting. With that said, Jackson still managed to score 16 points a game and appears to have elite defensive ability at a critical defensive position of small forward in the NBA given the amount of talent present at that position. Ultimately, Jackson’s value lies more in his potential to be a defensive stopper than a scorer. He lacks the ability to score over 12 points a game in the next 5 years unless a major improvement comes in his shot making ability. Overall, Jackson is a high upside scrappy defender that would’ve been a top 5 prospect if this draft were in 1993. NBA projection- Thabo Sefolosha                                                           pjimage (10)
  4. Zach Collins– High risk, high reward Zach Collins intrigues all onlookers based on the fact he has an extraordinarily polished offensive game and is 7’0”. He has the old style game that includes post-moves that are almost fossilized in the current NBA. He looks to be an NBA level rim protector and an above average defender. The draw back to drafting Collins remains limited information. He only averaged 17 minutes a game playing behind All-American Przemek Karnowski. It’s impossible to determine if his production slows down with increased workload or if his 7’0” frame provides diminishing returns defensively with increased physical stress. Like many others in this draft his upside is franchise revolutionizing, but he has a relatively high bust rate for his talent. NBA Projection- Kevin McHalepjimage (11)
  5. Jonathan Isaac– Jonathan Isaac posted respectable numbers as a freshman with 12 points and 8 rebounds per game, but only had the ability to score as a second or third option versus collegiate competition. In bigger games, Isaac had issues even producing shot attempts. Most notably, he only attempted 7 shots in a blowout loss to Xavier in the second round of the NCAA tournament. Although Isaac lacks dynamic offensive ability, Isaac ranks as a top prospect due to his near 7’0” frame and stellar defense and rim protection. It remains to be seen if he can play power forward at 200 lbs but he does figure to put on a significant amount of weight. Isaac ranks as the biggest risk reward pick in the 2017 draft class. NBA Comparison- Tyson Chandler                                                                                          pjimage (26)

TIER 4 (Starting 5 Role Players)

  1. Justin Jackson– One of the most NBA ready players in the draft, Justin Jackson, can score in every way imaginable. His floater will already be one of the best in the NBA the second he steps on the floor. He can bank shots from the mid range- and most importantly, he has the potential to be a 40 percent plus 3 point shooter. On top of all his offensive ability, Jackson boasts above average defense that will be instantly serviceable at the next level. The drawback of drafting Jackson is that his upside remains respectively low in comparison to many in this loaded 2017 draft class. Jackson isn’t someone who can be built around at the franchise level but could contribute in a big way to a team that has a foundation established. Jackson’s rookie year and initial success depends heavily on being drafted to a situation that benefits his skillset. The Clippers, Bulls, and Heat would all be great for his career trajectory. NBA Comparison- Trevor Ariza                                                                pjimage (12)
  2. Frank Jackson– The biggest beneficiary of the new rules, which allows players to attend the NBA combine prior to finalizing their decision to turn pro this year, was Frank Jackson. Jackson’s NBA interest started rising when he filled in more than serviceably for Grayson Allen while Allen was dealing with multiple injuries throughout the latter half of the year. Jackson displayed the ability to slash and shoot and rise to the occasion on the big stage. Jackson’s NBA dreams were cemented when he dazzled at the NBA combine. He displayed a 42’ vertical leap, stunning quickness, and showed extremely well in the scrimmage portion of the combine, which places him in the “rising up the boards” position he currently resides in. NBA Comparison- Jeff Teague                                              pjimage (13)       
  3. TJ Leaf– The best UCLA player for most of last season, Leaf displayed the ability to impact the game in every facet. He can shoot from 17 feet and in. He has above average ability to elevate for rebounds and alley oop lobs, and can be an average rim protector at the next level. Although he was an underrated collegiate player, I think Leaf is an overrated prospect. He does not have the exceptional length to be a disturbance down low at the next level and his scoring is not too the point where he could be a 20 point NBA scorer. NBA projection- David Lee                pjimage (14)
  4. Ike Anigbogu– Anibogu’s value is 100 percent in defense and dunking. This inherently caps his ceiling relatively low. The intrigue with Anigbogu lies in his 7’6” wingspan, which allows him to rebound and rim protect at a high level. He’s undersized for a center at 6’8” and it remains to be seen if his offensive limitations will allow him to start on an NBA roster. NBA Comparison- Bismack Biyombopjimage (15)

TIER 5 (Bench Players)

  1. Jawun Evans– Anyone who follows Big 12 basketball knows the comparisons with Chris Paul that frequently surround Evans aren’t far off. His game contains a great jumper and elite scoring ability for a little man. The only reason his grade sits outside the top 10 is his height, which sits below 6’0”. With his stature, he will constantly be matching up with longer, heavier, and taller players. His quickness will allow him to score despite his size but he will almost definitely be a defensive liability. NBA Comparison- Ty Lawson                                                  pjimage (16)
  2. Luke Kennard- Luke Kennard established a reputation for scoring when he bested Lebron James’s Ohio High School scoring mark. Kennard further proved his scoring ability while putting up nearly 20 points per game as a sophomore at Duke. For a 6’5” guard, he can make every shot below the rim imaginable. He has the craft of a YMCA player and the shooting ability of an elite NBA three point shooter. Unfortunately, Kennard lacks the length and athleticism to stay of the floor defensively at the NBA level. NBA comparison- Jamal Crawford   pjimage (17)
  3. Cameron Oliver– The best “small school” player in this draft is Cameron Oliver. Historically, this superlative has played out well for NBA franchises. Notable draftees from this category are C.J McCollum, Damian Lillard, Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, and Scottie Pippen. The lack of exposure and notoriety inevitably rockets them down the draft board despite their obvious talents. Oliver may be coming out a year early, but still provides a great raw mold with ridiculous upside. With a 40 inch vertical, Oliver can rebound and mostly plays a stretch 4 despite his above average athleticism. NBA Comparison- Patrick Patterson                   pjimage (18)
  4. Lauri Markkanen– Lauri Markkanen falls inside my overvalued player pool. As stated earlier with Jordan Bell- versatile, athletic power forwards who can rebound get under drafted. Conversely, Tall and Skinny Euro style stretch 4’s get instantly compared to Dirk and are traditionally way overvalued. For some popular examples think Nikoloz Tskitishvilis, Andrea Bargnani, And Darko Milicic. Lauri Markkanen does have advanced three-point shooting ability and intriguing offensive skills; however, I see him as too slight of build to defend most power forwards in the NBA. I don’t think his offensive game is anywhere near the level that would offset his defensive and rebounding liability that he is almost a lock to be. I think the hype with this prospect much outweighs the actual talent in a loaded draft class. NBA Comparison- Frank Kaminsky                                     pjimage (19)
  5. Jarrett Allen- Jarrett Allen is the most stereotypical 6’11” shot blocker possible. He is a below average shooter from the floor and free throw line alike (57%). He has an average post game but relies heavily on lobs and layups. That being said, Allen still provides value as a serviceable big man in a league devoid of serviceable big men. NBA Comparison- John Henson                                                               pjimage (20)
  6. Dennis Smith– Voluminous scorer, Dennis Smith, provides a deep concern in a rising area of analysis in the NBA- Efficiency. Although Smith has dazzling ability to slash between defenders and make highlight reel plays, he has not displayed the ability to make the right play or take the right shot. The stats bear this out in spades as he shot 45 percent from the floor and turned the ball over 3.5 times per game. Additionally, He displayed terrible defense and below par leadership on a struggling team. I think he will provide many highlight reel plays and excitement but ultimately fizzle out as an NBA draft bust. NBA Comparison- Steve Francispjimage (21)
  7. Thomas Bryant – If not for pick and roll defense, Thomas Bryant would be a top 10 pick in this years draft. He has versatility on offense rarely seen in the draft and can shoot the ball exceptionally well for a big man. Unfortunately for Bryant, he does not provide the rebounding or rim protection that most players in this class provide. He has intrigue offensively but with his limitation defensively; I don’t think he could ever stick in an NBA rotation. NBA Comparison- Cristiano Feliciopjimage (22)
  8. Bam Adebayo– Bam Adebayo can potentially help an NBA team as a 7th or 8th man, who can rebound on both ends and do a little bit of scoring if need be. He does not induce the need for over analysis, as he just does not provide much chance of ever being a noteworthy NBA player. NBA Comparison- Miles Plumleepjimage (23)
  9. Frank Mason– The reigning National Player of the Year deserves some love, right? He leads the draft class in a crucial skill that just became uber-valuable in 2016- drawing fouls and embellishing contact. Although it seems facetious, he can get to the free throw line at will. He projects to be a tough cover in the NBA based on his quickness, shot making ability, and foul drawing prowess. I think on top of that he can defend rather well for a 6’0” point guard. I think he will be much more effective than most projections around think. NBA Comparison- Patty Millspjimage (24)
  10. Tyler Lydon– Extremely underrated athlete, Lydon broke onto the scene aiding Syracuse to a Final Four run. He was a polished collegiate scorer and rebounder, but unfortunately does not have a sharp enough skillset to expose his athleticism at the next level. To do so, he would need to become a far better dribbler, which would allow him to create more space against the less athletic big men. I ultimately think Lydon is too slight of frame and lacks many NBA level skillsets to be effective as he career progresses- NBA Comparison- Mike Muscala                  pjimage (25)