With the NCAA Tournament coming to an end, many players have taken this time to either help or hurt their draft stock. The following players should be the top picks in this upcoming draft, and here’s why.
Jahlil Okafor (C)-
Okafor is the best player in college basketball in terms of skill level. He has it all: big, strong, good footwork, and good vision. As a product of Duke, he’s expected to already have a good knowledge of the game. Okafor has the best low post game out of all the players on this list. Throughout the tournament he’s commanded double teams and has been one of the keys to Duke’s success. There is no doubt that he should be the #1 pick in this upcoming draft.
Karl-Anthony Towns (C)-
Towns is simply a beast. He’s big, great at shot blocking, and can run the floor. One thing I’ve noticed is that he keeps a calm demeanour on the court. On offense, he’s a lot less nimble than Okafor. Towns prefers to just bully his defender, which works in college, but may not work as well in the pros. Other than that, Towns is obviously the second best player in the draft.
D’Angelo Russell (G)-
Russell is much different than many of the players in his class. He’s one guard that possesses great fundamentals. This man is a pure scorer. He shoots many shots off the dribble, and still manages to shoot 45% from the field. He is also a great passer, and Ohio State prefers to use him in pick and roll situations. I believe Russell has the ability to make the biggest impact to whatever team he goes to because of his versatility. He’s 6’5 with a great jump shot, and great passing. A perfect fit for a team needing good guards.
Emmanuel Mudiay (PG)-
Mudiay preferred to play overseas rather than go to SMU and play college ball. Therefore, many are unsure of how good the competition was in China compared to the domestic athletes. Based on footage and scouting reports, he’s very athletic and a great open court player, but struggles with the half court game. However, he can draw fouls easily and get to the rim at will. His size is a great asset at 6’5 and will be much bigger than other guards. Mudiay is a wildcard, and a gamble at this high of a pick, but the payoff could be huge.
Justise Winslow (SF)- Winslow has came up and been playing well throughout the final stretch of the season. Although Okafor is the big name for Duke, Winslow has been a closer and performing just as well. He will take the opposing teams best player right out of the game, and if he can develop that jump shot, then he’ll be a huge asset to whichever team he goes to.
Willie Cauley-Stein (C)-
Stein is a full 7’2 with long arms, and a slender frame. He’s a great defender, and possibly the most versatile defender in this upcoming draft. He’s one of the reasons Kentucky switched on all picks because of his ability to play good defense on guards. He has quick feet, and long arms to keep in passing lanes. His problem comes on offense with much of his points coming on alley-oops, or putbacks. Think of him as a younger Tyson Chandler and a solid pickup for any team.
Stanley Johnson (SF)-
Johnson is a physical monster. At 6’8 and 243 lbs, he’s only slightly lighter than LeBron James. He’s very strong and fast, and is a nightmare to stop in the fast break. He has the ability to either drive straight into the defenders chest, or simply go around them. His downfall will be his jump shooting. His shot is awful and he’ll really need to develop it to become a better player. Johnson is a sleeper pick, and will need to put in a lot of work in the offseason to help whichever team he goes to.
Frank Kaminsky (C)-
Kaminsky has been elevating his draft stock as of late through his great play in the late rounds of the tournament. He’s a threat on offense due to his great outside shooting ability. Teams can get creative and set plays where he’ll set a pick, then come off of another pick for a open jumper. Much like Wisconsin does now. Kaminsky is also a decent defender, preferring to be physical with opposing big men. If teams use him much like Pau Gasol and Dirk, then he’ll be a great pickup.
Mario Hezonja (G/F)-
At 6’8, Hezonja has the size to be a tough matchup for many guards. Especially the smaller guards out West. He has great range, and simply rises up above defenders to hit tough shots. He’ll need to work on his shot selection to be successful in the NBA. He’s referred to as a ball hog, and if that’s the case, then NBA coaches can get him out of that mentality. Playing in Europe, Hezonja hasn’t gone up against the athleticism that he’ll play in the NBA; defense will be a problem for him. Teams in need of a shooter or scorer should make this pick if he’s still on the board.
Kristaps Porzingis (PF)-
Porzingis is yet another 7’0 international player with a smooth jumpshot. These types of players are hard to assess due to the level of competition they play overseas. However, it is known that he’ll have a strong offensive game. He’s frail for his size, so his opponents can simply get physical with him and throw him off.
This upcoming draft is loaded with young talent that’s yet to truly be displayed. Leave your thoughts below.