Lottery Big Board v1.0: Stephon Vaden Favorite to Go 1st OverallChad FordESPN.comOct 25, 2016
The NBA has appeared to enter into a new "Golden Age" as of late with the surplus of talent in the league. Not only are there a number of established stars who have dominated for the better part of the last decade, but there has been an influx of young up and coming stars from just the last few draft classes alone.
Players like Karl-Anthony Towns/ Kristaps Porzingis/ D'Angelo Russell/ Devin Booker (class of 2015), Andrew Wiggins/ Jabari Parker/ Joel Embiid/ Julius Randle/ Zach LaVine (class of 2014) all look to be cornerstones for their respective franchises and in some cases even top 10 players in a couple years (KAT anyone?). Then there's guys like Giannis Antetokoumpo (22), Anthony Davis (23), and Kyrie Irving (24) who are superstars well before their prime has even begun.
This doesn't even include this years rookie class featuring the closest thing resembling LeBron since The King entered the NBA 13 years ago in Ben Simmons.
With all that said, the draft class of 2017 leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to top tier talent. GM's and scouts are all relatively down on this years' crop featuring true franchise changers. This class is filled with upperclassmen looking to capitalize on the down year for one and done players, but that doesn't make these kids slouches. There is a lot of depth to be found here, and many teams may be able to find a solid contributor.
But let's be real here, if you're the Sixers or any other awful team, you're looking for the next Anthony Davis or Kevin Durant. You're looking for a player that will bring you from the depths of irrelevancy to the heights of contention. Most agree that the only player in this class that has the potential to reach such a ceiling is 6'8 star freshman Stephon Vaden out of Baylor.
1. Stephon Vaden - Baylor - 19, 6'8" 219lbs, SF/PG:
Vaden is without a doubt the runaway candidate to go 1st this coming June. He has the prototypical body type for an NBA wing at 6'8, 219lbs and he has the skills to become a really good two-way player in the NBA. While he lacks elite athleticism and is mostly potential on the defensive end, the tools are there. The most tantalizing aspect of his potential though lies on offense, as he's being tasked with running the point guard position at Baylor for stretches during games.
The coaching staff at Baylor want to take advantage of his unique ability to see the floor at his size, and so far in the early stages of the college season he's looked decent at it. He needs to improve as a decision maker of course and his shooting will need to improve for him to become an effective pro, but the early returns are that he could possibly become a star in the years to come in the mold of a Paul George or Kawhi Leonard.2. Jermaine Craig - Alabama - 20, 7'0" 277lbs, C
If it wasn't readily obvious, Craig is the best center prospect in this class that's thin on big men. That may have something to do with Craig rising this high in the rankings, but he does posses skills.
With a solid-legit 7 foot frame, Craig is able to carve out deep position on post ups and is able to move well for his size. Although he isn't a refined post player by any means, he is pretty capable as a roller in pick and rolls, and also has ok touch on hooks. It remains to be seen whether he can harness his potential turning him into more than a rotation player at the next level as his motor wains at times and he can lose focus on the court. There are concerns, but teams seem willing to take a shot this year given the draft's outlook.3. J.T. Horton - UNLV - 21, 6'6" 218lbs, SG
Absolute sniper from beyond the arc, J.T. Horton is the best shooter from deep in this class. He's a so-so athlete, but makes up for by playing angles on both ends. He's a solid defender and will be able to contribute to a team right away. The only question is whether you take a player with this low of an upside this high, or just play it safe with a guy who has a high floor.4. Charlie Hoffman - Nebraska - 21, 6'2" 196lbs, PG
Another high floor, low ceiling player establishing himself as an early lottery guy. Hoffman has all the makings of a solid NBA point guard, although he's on the small at 6'2" 196lbs. He is the purest point prospect this year and makes great decisions with the ball. He'll need to improve as an outside shooter, but look for him to lead the Cornhuskers deep into the tourney this year.5. Le'Bryan Blackman - Oregon - 20, 6'5" 207lbs, SG
Probably my favorite player in this draft given that I love highlights. LeBryan Blackman is the premier athlete this year and no doubt will record some incredible numbers at the combine this May. The questions surround the rest of his game though. If he's not in transition with an open lane to the hoop, Blackman can often become a forgotten man on the floor. He has upside given his age and athleticism, but it'll take some time before his IQ catches up to his physical abilities.
6. Bo Singleton - Michigan State - 19, 6'6" 218lbs, SG
Coach Izzo will try to keep Bo in the fold after this season to try and pair him with two of the top ranked incoming freshmen in Akyel Akwegbu and Dakari Heard, but I have a hard time seeing Bo miss out an chance to go this high in the lottery as one of the only true freshmen in this class. He's a raw scorer and will need some time once he gets to the league, but there is potential for a possible long time starter or 6th man here.
7. Marvin Nichols - Michigan - 20, 6'7" 238lbs, PF
One of the few face-up fours in this class, Nichols is a decent athlete who is deadly from mid-range. He'll need to extend his range to the 3 to become a serious threat for teams though given his physical limitations (short for the 4 and an ok athlete).
8. Matthew Rollins - Oregon State - 20, 6'6" 197lbs, SG/SF
Knockdown standstill shooter with amazing vision at the swing positions. Also a pretty good defender when tasked with guarding the other teams' best players. Rollins projects as a Demarre Carroll/ Jae Crowder type with the playmaking ability and IQ of a Luke Walton.
9. Gheorge Eminescu - Romania - 20, 6'8" 219lbs, SF
The scouting universe is up in arms over whether or not you take Eminescu before you take Uros Drobnjak as the first European player in the draft. Given how no one has really seen Drobnjak in person, most are siding with Eminescu. While he has decent size for his position and has tools to score from all over, he's an average athlete who has no elite skill to separate himself.10. Daryl Trent - Alabama - 20, 6'8" 224lbs, SF/PF
Pure athlete at this point with defensive potential. Best case for him would be to model himself after a player like Tony Allen as the only way he'll stick around while he develops any semblance of an offensive game will be his defense.11. Stephen Olson - Florida - 21, 6'8" 232lbs, SF
Olson comes from the Lamar Odom school of point forwards. He's smooth and has a great feel for the game, but doesn't have much of an outside shot to speak of at this point. If he develops that over time though, you have a guy who can stuff a stat sheet for you.
12. Uros Drobnjak - Slovenia - 20, 6'8" 246lbs, PF
From what most have heard, Drobnjak is an amazing athlete with point forward skills. Obviously if he's as good as advertised he'll move up this list, but currently he's hardly been seen by most people in the States. He's being called the "Slovenian Paul George" for whatever it's worth though, so here's hoping he can live up to that name once we see him in next years' summer league.
13. Sam Brooks - North Carolina - 19, 6'8" 225lbs, SF/S
Brooks is solid get this late in the lottery. He's great at nothing, but good at a lot of things that help a team win. Think the Cavs version of Richard Jefferson.
14. Rodney Smits - Central Michigan - 21, 5'10" 164lbs, PG
Normally if you were to take a guy like Smits this high it'd be considered a reach, but this draft class has a bunch a guys you'll have to take a leap of faith on. He's raw right now, but can shoot the rock, which at his size is necessary, and he has elite speed. Who knows, you may have another bite sized point guard dynamo ready to emerge here.