clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

The 2017 NBA Draft should be loaded. It's not too early to get excited

New, comments

Did your team miss out on a good player in this year's draft? Don't worry. Next year's class should be much better.

The fruits of an NBA draft class start to show early. College freshman have typically occupied the top of the draft since the inception of the one-and-done rule in 2006. That remained the case on Thursday night as Ben Simmons, Brandon Ingram and Jaylen Brown became the first three picks in the 2016 draft.

If an incoming national recruiting class is perceived to be weak, chances are the ensuing NBA draft won't be considered much stronger. Fortunately for NBA fans, college basketball is about to welcome a deep and talented group of freshman. The hype for the recruiting class of 2016 has already been building for years.

It was evident early on that the class of 2016 was more talented than the class one year older. This group only became more impressive as time went on, with late-blooming prospects like Markelle Fultz and Wenyen Gabriel ascending near the top of the rankings. Scout's Evan Daniels went as far as to call the 2016 class the best he's ever scouted. That means one thing: The 2017 NBA Draft should be loaded.

The strength of this class is its depth. Instead of one or two superstars, there looks like there might be 10-15 players who could potentially rise to No. 1. If you thought the 2016 draft was a bit boring, don't worry: 2017 and 2018 are going to be a lot more fun.

1. SG Josh Jackson, Kansas, Freshman

Josh Jackson might be able to play in the NBA right now. The 6'7, 200-pound wing is an elite athlete, a gifted defender and the type of unparalleled competitor who has already talked trash with Gary Payton. He can also throw some fantastic passes when he decides to take a step back as a scorer.

The release on his jumper is a little low and he's actually seven months older than Brandon Ingram, but there's a lot to like about his makeup and skill set. That's why recruiting analyst Jerry Meyer of 247 Sports called Jackson the best shooting guard prospect he's ever scouted.

2. PG Markelle Fultz, Washington, Freshman

It's been an incredible rise for Fultz over the last two years. He's gone from a player who couldn't make DeMatha High School's varsity team as a sophomore to a five-star recruit and potential top draft pick. At 6'4 with a 6'10 wingspan, Fultz has a silky-smooth game that thrives on creating separation off the dribble. He can score from all three levels and is a creative finisher around the rim.

Best of all, he looks better and better every time he plays high-level competition. Fultz is only getting started.

3. C Harry Giles, Duke, Freshman

Giles could have been No. 1 on this list if he didn't tear his ACL in November for the second time in his high-school career. He profiles as the perfect fit for the modern NBA, a long (7'3 wingspan), mobile big man with a developing offensive skill set who should be very good on both ends of the floor. Here's hoping he can come back as athletic as he once was.

4. PG Lonzo Ball, UCLA, Freshman

Will Lonzo Ball have to adapt to college basketball, or will college basketball have to adapt to him? The 6'5 point guard is coming off an amazing high season playing with his two younger brothers on a Chino Hills team that went undefeated by launching three-pointers and throwing full court passes at will. Ball has tremendous vision as a passer and a funky release on his three-point shot that often goes in. He will be the most fascinating freshman in the country next season.

5. F OG Anunoby, Indiana, Sophomore

Anunoby was completely off the radar as a recruit, but burst onto the national scene late in his freshman season for Indiana. He has the potential to be an all-world defender, with impossibly long arms, quick feet and good instincts. Just ask Jamal Murray.

6. PF Ivan Rabb, Cal, Sophomore

Rabb was considered a borderline lottery pick in the 2016 draft, but decided to come back to college to showcase the totality of his skill set. At 6'11, he's an ultra efficient frontcourt scorer, a solid rebounder and brings consistent energy on both ends of the floor. Let's hope the Cal guards actually pass to him next season.

7. PG Dennis Smith, NC State, Freshman

Before tearing his ACL in August, Smith was widely considered the best of a deep point guard group in the recruiting class of 2016. He was as quick as any player in the country and could score in bunches when he got hot. While a bit undersized at 6'2 with a proportional wingspan, Smith's experience as a football cornerback helped make him a tough on-ball defender. He'll get the keys at NC State from day one.

8. SF Jayson Tatum, Duke, Freshman

Tatum and Giles are best friends, and their decision to follow each other to Duke gives Coach K what might be the strongest recruiting class of the decade. Tatum is a smooth 6'8 wing who does his best work from mid-range. If he proves he can shoot the three-ball and defend in space, he should be in the mix for the top three.

9. PG Frank Ntilikina, France

The 17-year-old native of France impressed scouts with his size (6'5) and court vision at Basketball Without Boarders in January. His jump shot is the biggest question mark.

10. F Jonathan Isaac, Florida State, Freshman

Isaac toyed with the idea of trying to enter the 2016 draft out of high school, but Florida State fans are glad he didn't. Isaac has a wing's game in a 6'10 frame that could devastate the ACC next year.

11. G Malik Monk, Kentucky, Freshman

12. PG De'Aaron Fox, Kentucky, Freshman

Meet the most explosive backcourt in the country. Fox will handle the point guard duties while Monk plays off the ball at Kentucky next season. Fox is a superior playmaker and defender, while Monk is the better shooter. Both have top-end speed and should keep NBA scouts flocking to Lexington all season once again.

13. F Miles Bridges, Michigan State, Freshman

Bridges is already blessed with grown man strength as a 6'7, 225-pound incoming freshman. He's the headliner of Tom Izzo's greatest recruiting class ever and the type of combo forward who excels in the modern NBA.

14. C Isaiah Hartenstein, Germany

The fluid 6'11 center could be the next international big man NBA scouts love, following in the footsteps of Kristaps Porzingis and Dragan Bender.

15. C Omer Yurtseven, NC State, Freshman

The Turkish center scored 91 points and grabbed 28 rebounds in one game at the Turkish U18 Championships. NC State has its fingers crossed it can get him eligible. Otherwise, he could enter the draft in a similar situation to Enes Kanter in 2011.

16. C Jonathan Jeanne, France

Jeanne reportedly stands 7'2 without shoes and has a 7'7 wingspan. If he can move at all, he'll be a first rounder.

17. C Thomas Bryant, Indiana, Sophomore

With a 7'5 wingspan and a developing face-up jump shot, Bryant checks two major boxes NBA teams want. But is he quick enough to defend on the perimeter?

18. SG Grayson Allen, Duke, Junior

Allen was a likely first rounder in the 2016 draft, but he returned to school to captain a disgustingly loaded Duke team. NBA teams know he's a plus-athlete who can shoot. Now they want to see him defend and distribute.

19. F Bennie Boatwright, USC, Sophomore

Boatwright is a 6'10, 220-pound wing who shot 36 percent on five three-point attempts per game as a freshman. He could be one of the breakout players in college basketball next year.

20. F Wenyen Gabriel, Kentucky, Freshman

Gabriel is another late bloomer, who used a growth spurt to become a five-star recruit and a player good enough to earn a scholarship from Kentucky. The skinny 6'9 forward has great burst and a diverse offensive game. Kentucky is going to have a glut of talent in the frontcourt next season that might relegate Gabriel to the wing, but he looks like a great option as a small ball four in the NBA.

21. C Marques Bolden, Duke, Freshman

The skilled low-post scorer is bound to draw a ton of comparisons to Jahlil Okafor next year at Duke. He has the same big question mark: can he play any defense?

22. PF Tyler Lydon, Syracuse, Sophomore

Lydon is a stretch four all the way. At 6'8, he knocked down 41 percent of his threes as a freshman and was a big reason why Syracuse made a surprise run to the NCAA Tournament.

23. SG Terrance Ferguson, Arizona, Freshman

Will he be playing at Arizona or overseas next year? Regardless, the Hoops Summit MVP combines a great three-point stroke with dunk contest-worthy athleticism. He reminds me a bit of Raptors wing Terrence Ross.

24. PG Edmond Sumner, Xavier, Sophomore

Xavier coach Chris Mack called Sumner "as fast as any player in college basketball." He might be a little biased, but that's a glowing endorsement for the 6'5 point guard.

25. SG Svi Mykhailiuk, Kansas, Junior

Mykhailiuk had a quiet first two years at Kansas after enrolling as a 16-year-old freshman from Ukraine, but next season he should finally get a chance to show what he can do. A 6'8 two guard who can stroke threes is very much en vogue right now.

26. SG Dwayne Bacon, FSU, Sophomore

Bacon is a mega athlete with good size for an off guard at 6'7. He also has the best fan club in college basketball:

27. C Bam Adebayo, Kentucky, Freshman

Adebayo is a 6'9, 240-pound brick of muscle with springs in his legs. If he proves he can protect the rim and/or hit a face-up jumper, he could go much higher than this.

28. PG Tyler Dorsey, Oregon, Sophomore

Oregon should be one of the best teams in the country next season, and Dorsey is a big reason why. The 6'4 point guard hit 41 percent on his threes as a freshman.

29. SF V.J. Beachem, Notre Dame, Senior

Beachem is skinny, but he's a pure shooter at 6'8. After playing a supporting role next to Jerian Grant and Demetrius Jackson the last two years, he should be ready for the spotlight at Notre Dame in his senior season.

30. PG Kobi Simmons, Arizona, Freshman

We'll call this the Archie Goodwin/Dejounte Murray Memorial Pick. Simmons has great physical tools as an athletic 6'6 lead guard. It will be fascinating to see if he can put it all together on a stacked Arizona team next season.

* * *

Two views of the 76ers and 'The Process'

Be sure to subscribe to SB Nation's YouTube channel for highlight videos, features, analysis and more