Is there NBA Draft Groupthink? 2017 vs 2018

A common observation when browsing NBA draft content is that a lot of the big boards and mock drafts are are very similar and stray from making totally bold projections. Almost as if those publishing them view other’s work beforehand and then make sure their rankings are at least close to their own. Is this critique valid? Let’s take a look based on some draft board samples from 2017 and then see if there are any similar trends in terms of conformity in the draft boards submitted to WinTheDraft to date for 2018. Note: the data will be skewed by sample size since 2017 will only consist of 28 draft boards. For 2018 there are well over 100 draft boards that have been completed, which gives a better overall look at consensus thinking.

We’ll start with the consensus #1 overall ranked player. In 2017, this was Markelle Fultz. Below is the breakdown in terms of how many analysts rated him as the top player:

As you can see, only three different players received a #1 ranking, and one of those was Josh Jackson who only received a single vote. The rest went to Lonzo Ball, and Markelle Fultz, with Fultz dominating with 82% of the #1 rankings. Granted, analyzing the #1 pick in terms of possible groupthink is very dependent on draft class, since there may be one generational prospect that is truly head and shoulders above the rest (such as Anthony Davis in 2012). However, in this in this instance, it does seem possible* people were afraid of straying from the norm. Although Fultz had a very solid case for being the #1 pick, it feels extreme he was favored to that degree, since his profile even at draft time didn’t seem to be at the level of a player like Davis. Unfortunately, a difficult rookie season didn’t help to support the level of confidence the draft community had in him either.

So what about 2018? Is everyone gravitating towards a consensus #1 again?

This time around is similar in that the majority of #1 rankings are held by two players (Luka Doncic and Deandre Ayton) just as Fultz and Ball accumulated nearly all the #1 votes in 2017. However, it is much more evenly split with Doncic currently receiving 49% and Ayton 35%. A few other players are receiving #1 votes as well, which is probably reflective of the difference in sample size from 2017. It will be interesting to see if Doncic and Ayton perform better as rookies than the two most highly regarded players (Fultz and Ball) did from 2017.

Clearly there isn’t unanimous agreement on the #1 overall player every draft. But to what amount do people actually disagree? Do some people actually view another person’s top ranked players as not evenly lottery worthy? Or is it more of a gentle disagreement where they just slide said players a slot or two down on their own board? To investigate this I sorted the players by overall consensus rank and calculated the percentage of times they appeared in the top 10 of someone’s draft board in 2017. Below are the results:

Now, an obvious response would be to look at that chart and say “of course the data is downward sloping when you are evaluating a consensus ranking.” And you’d be absolutely correct in saying that. However, if you look at some of the nuances they are glaring. For one, 98% of top 10 votes were spread among just the 13 players listed above; I omitted a few players who received just a single vote to keep the chart more readable. Additionally, the top 6 consensus players appeared within the top 10 of 100% (!) of draft boards in 2017. Dennis Smith was #7, and still appeared in 96%. Following that, the slope increases much more quickly for a few players and then basically falls off a cliff from Lauri Markannen to Zach Collins (the 11th ranked consensus player). What all this means is that there is a lot of conformity in terms of the “tier” of players, but little willingness to buck the trend and move a player outside his typical range.

What is interesting is this same pattern has persisted so far in 2018 if you look at the graph below. The top 7 or so are almost universally thought to be no lower than top 10 players, though not quite to the extreme 100% level that exists in the 2017 data. (This is probably another influence of sample size). Following that, the slope increases drastically in the 9-12 range, indicating people were generally hesitant to move any players outside of “normal” tiers. Now as you move down draft boards, there will generally be less conformity, but that also comes with the convenience of much less risk, since you’re not expecting much of a player if you have him slotted at the back end of the first round or lower.

In conclusion, none of this infers that the thought processes that go into evaluating prospects are way off base. All of the players ranked above have good cases for considering them at the top of draft boards. However, even taking that into account, one has to wonder if there are actually better cases for numerous prospects that are being overlooked. In recent years, consensus draft boards by writers and analysts have been pretty close to how the actual draft transpires, especially at the top of the draft. (For perspective, compare the consensus 2017 draft board to the actual draft order). So the general thinking by the “draft community” is not THAT far off from what actual NBA teams are doing.

The problem with that however, is that historically, draft projections as a whole have not been overly accurate. Every draft has a host of players drafted in the top 10 who did not live up to that lofty status. If anything, people should consider defaulting to their own opinions on players rather than gravitating toward possible groupthink. That doesn’t mean being contrary just for the sake of doing so, but I think it should come with the realization that if you place emphasis on what the herd thinks, your draft performance is likely to keep producing a lot of mixed results.

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Trusting the ‘Consensus’ With The NBA Draft

(Wikimedia Commons)

You see it all the time online as NBA draft fans discuss prospects and post their own mocks and big boards. Someone strongly disagrees with another person’s projections and immediately states something like “No reputable mock has such and such going that high (or low)…..”. Unfortunately, they may even throw in an insult. The initial comment is fine if expressed as source of surprise, but oftentimes it is stated as though referencing a consensus opinion in regards to a player gives extra credence to their argument. But should this be the case? How accurate is ‘consensus’ opinion typically when evaluating NBA draft prospects? Is the consensus something to be treated as gospel? Should it be ignored completely? Valued, but only as a last resort? I did a very unscientific study to give some insight into these questions which I will now outline…

To start, I pulled the top 30 players in order of Win Shares from each draft class from 2007 through 2012. These drafts were selected since it takes several years to fully measure a draft class, and by now the career trajectory for these players is set in place. Although imperfect, Win Shares is generally a good measure of total productivity over a player’s career, and in the long run does a good job ranking a player by his overall performance relative to another. When looking at draft classes by win shares, there may be some minor disputes when ranking players (as in this player should be #9 and not #7), but rarely are there are completely wild swings in the long run. In addition, I selected the top 30 players, since that means those players technically should* have been given first round grades leading into the draft. Any player who ranks below 30 in his draft class typically made a very minimal impact in the NBA; sometimes 30 is even pushing it.

The next thing I did was simply count the number of players from each of these draft classes that had a variation of 10 or more in terms of where they were actually selected in the draft, compared to where they have ranked in total win shares in that draft class over their career. I chose the number 10 for a main reason: a common way to rank draft prospects is by “tier” since a player’s performance is heavily influenced by how well he “fits” with the teams he plays on over his career. Fit might affect a ranking within a tier, but it will rarely cause a player to rise or drop into another tier entirely, since then you are dealing with a whole other level of talent. Generally speaking, when it comes to the NBA draft, teams hope for an all star level player at pick #1, a starter at pick #10, a rotation player at pick #20, and a fringe rotation player/journeyman at pick #30, etc. Therefore, if any players differed by ten or more from where they were initially selected in the draft, it’s likely their potential was assessed incorrectly altogether by the majority of NBA teams.

Finally, I know that using the actual draft order is not necessarily reflective of a true consensus, as in all opinions have been taken into consideration. In reality, it’s made up of many much smaller groups, consisting of each team’s GM, front office staff, scouts, consultants, etc. However, for purposes of this study, it likely gives the best look at consensus opinion available. There is no historical data available that gives a comprehensive look at the “consensus”, though WinTheDraft has started a form of that process this year for all drafts going forward!

So anyway, how did teams do? Let’s see the number of “misses” (for lack of a better word) by year:

As you see, the results are surprisingly consistent, and also seemingly high in terms of the number of players that performed unexpectedly. To date, every draft from 2007 to 2012 has AT LEAST 15 players that performed dramatically different than the ‘consensus’ expectations from where they were drafted. That’s 50% of the top 30 players. Keep in mind that these totals might even be a tad FAVORABLE in terms of evaluating draft accuracy, since I only looked at the top 30 players each draft based on player performance and not pick number. Therefore, any lottery picks that completely flamed out and ranked well below #30 in Win Shares were not included in the sample, even though they would definitely be considered “misses”. I’ll also add something else- first round picks are often given a longer leash by teams who want to make good on their investment, not only to save face, but because they receive guaranteed money in their contracts. So even with that in play, there are still a high number of draft picks that do not earn an appropriate level of Win Shares to correspond with where they were selected.

The spreadsheet linked below lists the players from each of these draft classes that out/underperformed relative to where they were drafted. An interesting follow up study would be to see if there are any consisted trends among the players that make up these lists. You can also review entire draft classes in detail (and not just the top 30 by Win Shares) here.

NBA Draft Surprises 2007-2012

So what does this all mean? Are NBA teams terrible at their jobs when it comes to drafting? Not necessarily. Scouting players, especially at young ages is very difficult. There are a number of factors that impact player performance in the NBA that you just cannot account for at draft time. Injuries, differing player development programs, coaching changes, personality conflicts, new players dealing with NBA fame…some things aren’t controllable. However, obviously there is still PLENTY of room for improvement!

Getting back to the original question of this article- Should you value the consensus? My opinion is that the consensus is likely helpful to look at to make sure there aren’t any players you haven’t researched i.e. you barely knew they existed and need to do your due diligence to develop an opinion on what they could or couldn’t offer to a team. However, should you be worried about following it? Absolutely not.

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2017 NBA Draft Boards- Player Hits and Misses

Who did NBA draft analysts project correctly (thus far) in the 2017 draft? Conversely, who caught them off guard? Let’s take a look…
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Jayson Tatum- Consensus Rank: 6
Actual Win Shares Rank: 1
Closest Analyst Rank: 2 by Sam Vecenie, Kevin O’Connor, and Barstool Reags

Heading into the 2017 draft, Tatum was considered an upper echelon prospect, but generally not regarded as a top 3 pick, as many feared his offensive game was prone to too many isolation plays with contested jump shots. He landed with the Celtics and proved those fears to be mostly unfounded, leading the 2017 draft class in win shares from start to finish during his rookie season. Very solid calls by Sam Vecenie, Kevin O’Connor, and Barstool Reags who had him second on each of their draft boards.

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John Collins- Consensus Rank: 15
Actual Win Shares Rank: 2
Closest Analyst Rank: 8 by Bobby Gerould

Collins was a bit divisive of a prospect, as many had concerns with his rim protection when he would potentially have to play the center position. Five analysts left him out of their Top 30 draft board entirely. However, his rebounding and ability to be a strong finisher on offense allowed him to be a contributor immediately in the pros. He finished his rookie year ranking a surprising second in win shares. Very impressive work by Bobby Gerould of Hoop Obsession who ranked him 8th, while no other draft boards had him better than 12th overall.

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Donovan Mitchell- Consensus Rank: 12
Actual Win Shares Rank: 3
Closest Analyst Rank: 8 by Robert Flom

Mitchell flew under the radar a bit heading into the draft, as nearly every board in this sample had him in the back part of the lottery. In last year’s summer league he showed explosive physical ability and then led the Utah Jazz into a playoff run. He is also in an expected battle with Ben Simmons for Rookie-of-the year honors. Only four of the thirty boards had him ranked in their top 9; congrats to Robert Flom of Clips Nation who was the highest of anyone to rank him at #8.

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Bam Adebayo- Consensus Rank: 22
Actual Win Shares Rank: 4
Closest Analyst Rank: 14 by NBAdraft.net and Actual NBA draft

Adebayo was similar to Collins above in that there were concerns about his rim protection, and just how well rounded his offensive game would be for the pros. He turned in a very solid rookie season for the Heat and currently ranks fourth in his draft class in win shares. The Heat were high on him at the time of the draft taking him 14th, in addition to NBAdraft.net who also slotted him there. The rest weren’t as fond of him, with seven people not giving him a first round grade, while the majority of those that did, had him between 20 and 30.

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Jarrett Allen- Consensus Rank: 19
Actual Win Shares Rank: 5
Closest Analyst Rank: 12 by Brandon Anderson

Allen was a difficult prospect to analyze heading into the 2017 draft after playing on a much weaker than normal Texas Longhorns squad. Teams and analysts were still intrigued by his mobility for a big, but he appeared all over the map on various draft boards ranking anywhere between 12 and 29, with three others not putting him in their top 30 prospects. He turned out to be one of the few bright spots in another trying Nets season and clearly factors into their future. Good work by Brandon Anderson who had the most faith in him out of anyone by placing him 12th.

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Kyle Kuzma- Consensus Rank: NR (not in top 30)
Actual Win Shares Rank: 6
Closest Analyst Rank: 16 by NBAdraft.net

Kuzma immediately emerged at the NBA Summer League after he only was ranked on eight of the thirty draft boards sampled. He kept up that performance in the regular season and ranks sixth in win shares. The team at NBAdraft.net were the only analysts close to projecting such an outcome by having him 16th on their board. His next highest rating came at #27, where he was drafted by the Lakers. He was considered a late bloomer as a prospect, but those that kept their eye on him are happy that they did.

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Jordan Bell- Consensus Rank: 25
Actual Win Shares Rank: 10
Closest Analyst Rank: 10 by Brandon Anderson

Bell generated a lot of talk as a “sleeper” in the draft, and those sentiments only increased at draft time after he landed with the Warriors who were able to purchase his draft selection early in the second round. He showed plenty of flashes during the season with his athleticism and defensive versatility. Despite the growing hype, only two analysts in the sample had the temerity to rank him as lottery pick. Brandon Anderson made another solid call on an athletic big and was the closest to his current ranking by putting him at spot 10.

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Josh Hart- Consensus Rank: NR (not in top 30)
Actual Win Shares Rank: 7
Closest Analyst Rank: 18 by Dean Damakis

Hart wasn’t considered a flashy prospect heading into the draft, but generally was the given the “winner” label after having four very successful seasons at Villanova. Nineteen out of the thirty boards didn’t think there was enough upside to give him a first round grade. He turned in a rookie season for the Lakers that exceeded expectations, earning much more playing time than originally anticipated before breaking his hand towards the end of the season. Dean Damakis deserves recognition for ranking him the highest out of anyone at #18 on his board.

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Lonzo Ball- Consensus Rank: 2
Actual Win Shares Rank: 12
Closest Analyst Rank: 10 by Brad Martinez

Ball has had an up and down season with the Lakers showing occasional flashes of an enticing all around game, coupled with valid concerns about his shooting and defense. Many were high on him at the time of the draft with only one(!) person ranking him outside their top four. That person is Brad Martinez from A Sea of Blue and he was by far the most skeptical of him, ranking him 10th. He currently ranks 12th in Win Shares, so Brad’s call looks solid to date and could ultimately prove correct if his current weaknesses are not remedied.

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Sindarius Thornwell- Consensus Rank: NR (not in top 30)
Actual Win Shares Rank: 19
Closest Analyst Rank: 15 by JZ Mazlish

It was generally thought that Thornwell’s aggressive defense would translate well to the pros, but there were many questions about how his offensive game would fare, since he’d no longer be able to overpower guards on physical drives to the hoop. Due to that, only four writers from the boards analyzed ranked him in their top 30. To date, Thornwell has been able to earn a spot in the Clippers rotation and currently ranks 19th in win shares. Solid call by JZ Mazlish of The Stepien who ranked him 15th on his draft board and also by Brandon Anderson who had him at number 21.

 

2017 NBA Draft Boards- An Analysis

Notes About the Standings

To take a glance at how the projections of analysts are performing for the 2017 NBA draft, I pulled a sample of 28 draft boards published around the web immediately prior to the draft. In all instances, the boards selected were simple rankings of a person’s top 30 players and not “mock drafts” where the order of the players would have been influenced by a guesses of which team would draft which player. I also included the actual NBA draft order and the “consensus” which was an average of all the analyst boards and the actual draft order. In total, that made for 30 different draft boards to be analyzed and/or scored.

Below is a summary table showing the draft board data. Appearances is the number of times a player was ranked on an analyst draft board (the maximum amount would be 30). Average refers to the average of the player’s rankings within the top 30. Since all the boards consisted only of 30 players, the “actual” average for many of the players would be much higher, however it is indeterminable given the limits of the sample.

When looking at the standings and any individual draft boards,such as the current leader, Barstool Reags, please keep in mind that scores to date are impacted by players who have not qualified for scoring yet, by virtue of not having played in enough games (25). This includes the following:

Those impacted by significant injuries- Markelle Fultz, Harry Giles, Justin Patton, Tyler Lydon, Frank Jackson. Additionally, Jonathan Isaac managed to qualify but was hampered by an ankle injury and therefor missed a large segment of the season.

International Players- Jonah Bolden, Anzejs Pasecniks, Isaiah Hartenstein, Mathias Lessort

Limited Playing Time (but ranked on many original boards)- Caleb Swanigan, Derrick White, Ike Anigbogu, Tony Bradley

Additionally, the following players did not appear on many user’s draft boards but did appear in enough games in 2017-18 that they will likely qualify for scoring at some point: Kobi Simmons, Antonius Cleveland, Alec Peters, Davon Reed, Derrick Walton, Thomas Bryant, Antonio Blakeney

One note about player performance: For many of the individual player scores within the standings, you will see very low scores for many players originally ranked at the top of the draft- players such as Josh Jackson, De’Aaron Fox, Frank Ntilikina, Dennis Smith, etc. This is because they are currently ranking low in win shares- the basis for the scoring formula. This is not uncommon for rookies with higher usage rates, since there is a steep learning curve that comes with leading a team in the NBA first time. Over time, it is likely some (but probably not all) of these players will improve, particularly in their efficiency, and rise up the win shares rankings, increasing their scores and proving their original projections much more accurate.

Above all else, please remember that it is VERY EARLY to evaluate the 2017 draft class and any associated projections.The standings are bound to change significantly as players get more acclimated to the NBA and change teams throughout their careers. However, it is still an interesting exercise to take a look at where things may be headed considering what we do know so far.

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Role Player Finder- Glue Guys

Part 6 in a series highlighting some players who could carve out careers as important role players in the NBA. These posts will focus on players that will likely fall on the bottom half of draft boards. Therefore, players that tend to be projected as lottery picks or hyped one-and-dones generally will not appear. (Players Listed Alphabetically)

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Rawle Alkins, Arizona, SO, 6’5 220
13.7 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 2.7 APG, .377 3PT%, 104.6 DRtg
Physical specimen who is capable of scoring off the dribble or by posting up smaller guards. Also has a relatively solid jump shot. Might struggle with quicker guards, but should be able to guard multiple positions in the NBA. Turnover prone with an assist to turnover ratio of nearly 1:1 during his college career, which makes him be viewed more as an athlete than a pure basketball player. See full scouting report @ NBA Draft Room

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Bruce Brown, Miami, SO, 6’5 190
11.4 PPG, 7.1 RPG, 4.0 APG, .267 3PT%, 97.0 DRtg
Capable distributor and a very good rebounder for a guard. Similar to Alkins in that his size and physical nature can allow him to bully smaller or traditionally sized guards. Good steal and block rates for a guard defensively. Shot has always been a question, and it unfortunately regressed this year. Will be difficult to give him a consistent role in the NBA unless it improves. Had foot surgery in January and has been sidelined since, so might be better served returning to Miami next season. See full scouting report @ In the Gym Range

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Bonzie Colson, Notre Dame, SR, 6’6 224
20.8 PPG, 10.3 RPG, 1.0 APG, .286 3PT%, 91.5 DRtg
Can literally do a little of everything (even block shots) which makes it difficult to project him for a specific position in 1 to 5 terms. Would most likely be considered an undersized 4, which is where Draymond Green-lite comparisons come in, though he is not quite as physically gifted. Sports an absurd 34.0 PER for the season and 29.4 for his college career. Suffered a foot injury, but was able to return recently, so it will be interesting to see if lead Notre Dame into making some unexpected noise in the ACC and NCAA tournaments (or NIT). See full scouting report @ The Basketball Network

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Angel Delgado, Seton Hall, SR, 6’9 245
13.4 PPG, 11.6 RPG, 2.7 APG, .589 FT% 98.6 DRtg
Led the nation in rebounding in 2016-17 and is fourth this season. Considered one of the anchors of the most successful Seton Hall era in recent memory. Solid defensively, but not a true rim protector. Very good motor, but not overly polished offensively as he mostly scores off hustle plays inside. High energy bigs have been able to carve out careers with varying lengths and levels of success- he will need to try and follow the mold of a Montrezl Harrell, Kenneth Faried, Thomas Robinson, etc. See full scouting report @ NBA Scouting Live

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De’Anthony Melton, USC, SO, 6’4 190
8.3 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 3.5 APG, .284 3PT%, 100.5 DRtg (2016-17 stats)
Will be a risk for an NBA team to invest in with a high pick, since a lot of the case for him was based on improvements he was expected to show this season, before being caught up in the NCAA recruiting scandal and ultimately withdrawing from USC. Very good defensively as he is long for a guard and averaged nearly two steals per game as a freshmen. Also a solid playmaker and distributor. Will need to improve his outside shot as he shot below 30% from the college 3-point line. See full scouting report @ FanRag Sports

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Zhaire Smith, Texas Tech, FR, 6’5 195
11.5 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 1.6 APG, .433 3PT%, 95.1 DRtg
Lightly recruited in high school, but has garnered new attention from NBA scouts over the past few months after establishing himself as a key contibutor on an emerging Texas Tech squad. Extremely athletic and capable of making several highlight reel plays per game. One of his specialties is attacking the offensive glass from the perimeter. Also a very good shot blocker for a guard. Showing that he is capable of hitting 3’s, but will need to start doing it on more attempts (currently shoots only one per game). Also will need to improve his ball handling and attacking closeouts, but has plenty of tools to work with potentially provide value to a team. See full scouting report @ The Stepien

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Jarred Vanderbilt, Kentucky, FR, 6’9 214
5.9 PPG, 7.9 RPG, 1.0 APG, .632 3PT%, 94.2 DRtg
Somewhat dificult to evaluate as a prospect since he returned from an injury midway through the season and showed considerable rust upon returning. However,has improved since and was a key contributor during Kentucky’s recent four game win streak. Extremely active, especially on the glass, and versatile enough to cover multiple positions the way NBA teams covet. Also possesses the valuable skill of being able to start a break immediately off a rebound since he is able to handle the ball in the open court. Could be a Jerami Grant type player with much more of a game off the dribble. Just needs to improve his jump shot quite a bit. See full scouting report @ (the former) Draft Express

See where/if these players appear on the WinTheDraft user consensus draft board!

Role Player Finder- Instant Offense

Part 5 in a series highlighting some players who could carve out careers as important role players in the NBA. These posts will focus on players that will likely fall on the bottom half of draft boards. Therefore, players that tend to be projected as lottery picks or hyped one-and-dones generally will not appear. (Players Listed Alphabetically)

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Grayson Allen, Duke, SR, 6’5 205
15.6 PPG, 4.5 APG, 3.4 RPG, .385 3PT%, 103.8 DRtg
He has been one of the most well known faces in NCAA basketball over the past four seasons, so he will be used to any fame that comes from being an NBA player. His play has seemed inconsistent at times this season, but part of that has likley been due to him having to adjust to a lower usage rate, after Duke added an extremely talented freshmen class. He is a good enough shooter that he should be able to survive in the NBA, even if it is mainly as a catch-and-shoot player. See full scouting report @ NBAdraft.net

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Tyus Battle, Syracuse, SO, 6’6 205
20.1 PPG, 1.9 APG, 2.9 RPG, .316 3PT%, 102.5 DRtg
His 3 point percentage has declined this year, but he is tasked with creating a lot of offense off the dribble for Syracuse. Not much of a distributor, so he will need to improve in terms of kicking out some of his drives in the NBA. Fairly active defensively and has good length for a guard, so he could be able to slide into a typical ‘3 and D’ role as he gains experience. However, he will also need to adjust to no longer playing in Syracuse’s traditional zone. See full scouting report @ NBA Scouting Live

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Kelan Martin, Butler, SR, 6’7 220
20.9 PPG, 2.1 APG, 6.4 RPG, .369 3PT%, 102.7 DRtg
Has improved over each of his four seasons at Butler to the point where he may garner some All-America votes. Struggled shooting the ball early in the season, but is shooting 41% from 3 over his last 10 games, which has brought his average back to a more respectable number. Could possibly make it in the NBA as a small ball 4- has the strength but possibly not the height/length to consistently fill the role. Very good motor/energy level and always seems to be looking to attack. Read an interview with him @ NBA Draft Room

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Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, Kansas, SR, 6’8 205
15.4 PPG, 2.8 APG, 4.1 RPG, .449 3PT%, 104.4 DRtg
One of the top long distance shooters in college basketball. If he makes it in the NBA, it will need to be purely as a sharp shooter a la Kyle Korver, Anthony Morrow or Steve Novak. Smart player, but the rest of his game isn’t quite up to NBA level in terms of defense, ball handling, or athleticism. Listed height on the Kansas roster of 6’8 seems a tad generous. See full scouting report @ Basketball Society Online

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Shamorie Ponds, St. John’s, SO, 6’1 175
21.5 PPG, 4.8 APG, 5.2 RPG, .276 3PT%, 100.4 DRtg
Was well known for his scoring prowess coming into the season, but received even more notoriety after leading his struggling St. John’s team to back-to-back wins over top 5 teams in Duke and Villanova. Has the right mentality (unwavering confidence) that a team needs for a player that is in its “score us some points” type of role. The first question will be if he can improve his 3 point shooting- he should, since he is such a high volume shooter at St. John’s, it likely skews his numbers. The second is how/where he will play defensively in the NBA given his physical profile. That will be a more challenging issue to solve. Very entertaining player. Read about his season @ Fan Rag Sports

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Jerome Robinson, Boston College, JR, 6’6 191
20.6 PPG, 3.1 APG, 3.5 RPG, .447 3PT%, 107.8 DRtg
Has flown under the radar even though he is second in the ACC in scoring, behind only Marvin Bagley of Duke. Decent ball handler and has really upped his shooting this year at 45% from 3, and over 50% overall. Not overly explosive so could struggle to finish in the NBA. Went off for 46 points in a game earlier this season against Notre Dame. Although much improved this year, his Boston College teams have not contended in the ultra competitive ACC. See full scouting report @ NBA Draft Junkies

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Allonzo Trier, Arizona, JR, 6’5 205
19.6 PPG, 3.2 APG, 3.2 RPG, .430 3PT%, 107.4 DRtg
Good outside shooter as he is making over 40% from 3, but also is capable of driving the ball and getting to the line, where he converts at a high clip (85%). Not known for his defense, but possesses enough physical tools that he should be able to at least hold his own. His current situation is a bit murky as he has had failed drug tests in both of the past two seasons, so his season may be over depending on an appeal. Otherwise, it seems like he is a legitimate first round talent. See full scouting report @ (the former) Draft Express

See where/if these players appear on the WinTheDraft user consensus draft board!

Role Player Finder- Stretch Bigs

Part 4 in a series highlighting some players who could carve out careers as important role players in the NBA. These posts will focus on players that will likely fall on the bottom half of draft boards. Therefore, players that tend to be projected as lottery picks or hyped one-and-dones generally will not appear. (Players Listed Alphabetically)

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Mike Daum, South Dakota State, JR, 6’9 250
23.3 PPG, 10.0 RPG, 1.4 APG, .405 3PT%, 99.3 DRtg
Ranks seventh in Division I in scoring and has a net rating of +18.3. Yes, there will be questions about him defensively in the NBA, but teams will likely give him a look as he has always scored efficiently on rather large volume. There will also be concerns about the level of competition he has faced; however, he did manage to still score 21, 25, 31, and 37 points in games against Kansas, Ole Miss, Wichita State, and Colorado so far this season. Also a decent rebounder. See full scouting report @ Bleacher Report

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Kevin Hervey, UT-Arlington, SR, 6’9 230
20.8 PPG, 8.6 RPG, 2.2 APG, .341 3PT%, 95.8 DRtg
Hervey was the Sun Belt conference POY in 2016-17 and has followed it up with another very strong season as a senior. Has decent athleticism for his size, which makes him more of ‘scorer’ rather than a pure shooter relative to others on this list. There will be questions about the level of competition he faced, but like Daum, seemed to handle himself well against larger programs this year, scoring 24 points each in games against Alabama and Creighton, and on 60% shooting. Took up the game late which is partly how he wound up at a smaller conference school. See full scouting report @ NBA Scouting Live

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Yante Maten, Georgia, SR, 6’8 240
19.5 PPG, 8.7 RPG, 1.7 APG, .333 3PT%, 101.6 DRtg
In terms of roles, a stretch four type of position is something Maten will have to develop into as he has spent most of his career scoring on the inside. However, he has made progress in extending his range this season at Georgia. Other positives are that he is capable of drawing fouls (while shooting 84% from the line) and does average over a block per game. Has pretty much been the focal point of Georgia’s offense the past three seasons, so would need to adapt to not being a number one option. But then again, he could also find freedom in that. Defense could be an issue, in terms of finding the best matchups for him. Read about his background @ Dawg Nation

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Jontay Porter, Missouri, FR, 6’11 240
8.9 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 2.0 APG, .333 3PT%, 90.9 DRtg
Was overlooked at the start of the season thanks to brother, (future lottery pick) Michael, however has displayed his own value as the season has went along, especially during Missouri’s recent five game win streak. Has more potential than the others on this list since he is only an 18 year old freshmen. Comes with the added bonus of some rim protection, as he is averaging nearly two blocks per game and also has a solid defensive rating (90.9). Shooting 80% from the foul line indicating there is plenty of touch on his shot. See full scouting report @ NBA Draft Room

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Killian Tillie, Gonzaga, SO, 6’10 215
12.2 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 1.7 APG, .379 3PT%, 93.0 DRtg
Relatively versatile offensively as he possesses a good shooting touch, is capable of driving from time to time, and also can pass pretty well from the high post. Received limited playing time on Gonzaga’s deep Final 4 team last season, but has started to shine this year now that there is more opportunity. Needs to add some strength and not the shot blocker one might hope for from the 4 or 5-man position. There is definitely a chance he could return to Gonzaga next year for additional seasoning. See full scouting report @ The Stepien

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Moritz Wagner, Michigan, JR, 6’11 245
14.6 PPG 7.3 RPG, 0.7 APG, .398 3PT%, 93.0 DRtg
Scouts noticed him when he went off for 26 points in an upset over Louisville in the NCAA tournament last season. Has followed that up with a solid junior campaign, where he is the leading scorer on Michigan’s top 25 team. Has played for a coach with a system where bigs are asked to stretch the floor, so there should be no role adjustment issues for him at the next level. Also has a bit of a post game to complement his outside shooting. Seems to have a similar game to former Big 10 star Jon Leuer, who has managed to carve out a career in the NBA. See full scouting report @ In the Gym Range

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Omer Yurtseven, NC State, SO, 7’0 245
13.5 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 0.4 APG, .483 3PT%, 101.3 DRtg
Didn’t quite live up to expectations in his freshmen season at NC State, but has improved after returning for his sophomore season. Natural scorer, could be the type of player whose game is a better fit for the NBA, where there tends to be more free movement. Needs to add strength, if he does not, he will probably be liability in terms of rebounding in comparison to other NBA big men. Shooting 48% from 3, although on just over one attempt per game. See full scouting report @ NBAdraft.net

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Role Player Finder- Floor Generals

Part 3 in a series highlighting some players who could carve out careers as important role players in the NBA. These posts will focus on players that will likely fall on the bottom half of draft boards. Therefore, players that tend to be projected as lottery picks or hyped one-and-dones generally will not appear. (Players Listed Alphabetically)

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Jalen Brunson, Villanova, JR, 6’3 190
19.4 PPG, 4.9 APG, 3.2 RPG, .487 3PT%, 103.9 DRtg
Quite possibly could be the NCAA national player of the year. Has played in plenty of big games over the last three seasons with Villanova, so pressure shouldn’t faze him, and his demeanor normally displays that. Extremely efficient offensively as he is currently shooting 55% from the field on over 12 shots per game. There will be concerns about his quickness and athleticism, but one wonders if he will carve out an Andre Miller type role in the NBA, but even with a jump shot with range. See full scouting report @ NBA Draft Junkies

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Jevon Carter, West Virginia, SR, 6’2 205
17.4 PPG, 6.6 APG, 5.2 RPG, .395 3PT%, 89.2 DRtg
The best defender on this list as he spearheads West Virginia’s well known pressure defense and is second in the country in steals per game at 3.2. Outside shooting has improved during his career at WVU so he now shoots nearly 40% from 3. Seems prone to questionable shot selection at times, but some of that may be due to a lack of other shot creators on his West Virginia team. See full scouting report @ The Stepien

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Trevon Duval, Duke, FR, 6’3 186
11.3 PPG, 6.0 APG, 2.0 RPG, .268 3PT%, 103.2 DRtg
He’s definitely one of the most athletically gifted point guard prospects, but also one of the poorest shooters. That even includes foul shots. Very good finisher on the break and also capable of getting to the rim and finishing. Decent distributor. Has a lot of upside; it’s just a question of whether it will be better for him to work on his jump shot at the NBA level next year, or if he’d be better served returning to Duke for one more season. See full scouting report @ NBAdraft.net

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Devonte Graham, Kansas, SR, 6’2 185
17.2 PPG, 7.5 APG, 3.9 RPG, .414 3PT%, 100.3 DRtg
Has had a very good season leading Kansas to its normal spot in the top 10. His senior year is his first manning the point guard position full time, after the departure of Frank Mason to the NBA. He has handled the transition nicely, and is even fifth in the country in assists per game. Good shooter at over 40% from 3 and 85% from the line. Might not have the potential to be a star in the NBA, but seems like you know what you can get from him. It would just be a matter of finding the right fit. See full scouting report @ NBA Scouting Live

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Aaron Holiday, UCLA, JR, 6’1 185
19.0 PPG, 5.3 APG, 3.6 RPG, .407 3PT%, 106.2 DRtg
Felt like he was overlooked his first two seasons at UCLA due to Lonzo Ball and other distractions. Has stepped up this year now that he is the starting point guard. Comes from good bloodlines as older brothers Jrue and Justin are established NBA players. There will be questions about his size, but is a great competitor and doesn’t back down to anyone. Tenacious enough to pressure the ball on defense. See full scouting report @ NBA Scouting

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Landry Shamet, Wichita State, SO, 6’4 180
14.5 PPG, 5.3 APG, 3.1 RPG, .439 3PT%, 101.8 DRtg
Steady player who does not seem to get easily rattled. Not overly quick or explosive but a bit taller and has better length than the other point guard prospects on this list. Very good outside shooter. Does not need to be ball dominant compared to other traditional point guards. This could allow him to possibly be a good fit on a team that uses a point forward or likes to have other players facilitate; then he could blend in with his catch-and-shoot game. See full scouting report @ In the Gym Range

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Khyri Thomas, Creighton, JR, 6’3 210
14.5 PPG, 2.8 APG, 4.1 RPG, .394 3PT%, 100.8 DRtg
There are questions if he’s a pure point on offense, but he is more than capable of defending them well, which is a valuable skill considering the number of score-first point guards in the NBA. Physically strong, which helps him be a decent rebounder for a guard and is also said to have a 6-10 wingspan. Will need to refine his game offensively a bit, especially in terms of passing. Is a prospect that is worth consideration for a team that doesn’t need him to be their lead ball handler right away. See full scouting report @ Sir Charles in Charge

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Role Player Finder- Rim Protectors

Part 2 in a series highlighting some players who could carve out careers as important role players in the NBA. These posts will focus on players that will likely fall on the bottom half of draft boards. Therefore, players that tend to be projected as lottery picks or hyped one-and-dones generally will not appear. (Players Listed Alphabetically)

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Tacko Fall, UCF, JR, 7’6 295
11.3 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 1.9 BPG, .767 FG%, 84.9 DRtg
Definitely falls into the project categroy but he’s 7’6(!) and the defense at UCF has been noticeably strong while featuring him. Does not possess many offensive moves and is a poor free throw shooter, but is very efficient when he manages to get the ball around the basket, as evidenced by his 74% career field goal percentage. Might not wind up entering the draft after a recent should injury ended his season. See full scouting report @ NBA Draft Room

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Daniel Gafford, Arkansas, FR, 6’11 234
11.6 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 1.9 BPG, .612 FG%, 98.4 DRtg
Was relatively unknown coming into the season, but now finds himself shooting up draft boards. Arkansas’s uptempo system has turned out to be a good fit as he is able to utilize and display his athleticism. Still a bit raw, but also the youngest player on this list, which gives him the most potential. Has been very productive in limited minutes (22 per game). Needs to improve his free throw shooting. See full scouting report @ The Stepien

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Ben Lammers, Georgia Tech, SR, 6’10 234
11.8 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 2.9 BPG, .474 FG%, 93.9 DRtg
Was third in the nation in blocks per game in 2016-17, and is 15th this year. Although he is a decent rebounder, he could stand to be a little more physical and add some strength. Has tried to expand his range this season with somewhat mixed results, but does have a decent touch and shoots over 70% from the line. See full scouting report @ NBA Draft Prospects

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Jo Lual-Acuil, Baylor, SR, 7’0 225
15.3 PPG, 9.4 RPG, 1.9 BPG, .513 FG%, 95.9 DRtg
Has steadily improved during his two seasons at Baylor implying there could still be even more growth to his game. Managed to play well and possibly win the head-to-head matchup against lottery prospect Mo Bamba during a Baylor victory vs Texas earlier this season, though granted, he has an experience advantage. Has managed to add strength the past two seasons and will likely attempt to add more this offseason. See full scouting report @ NBA Scouting Live

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Anas Mahmoud, Louisville, SR, 7’0 215
7.8 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 3.5 BPG, .595 FG%, 89.8 DRtg
Has managed to definitely improve over the course of his four seasons at Louisville. Will be an uphill battle for him to make it in the league, but teams will certainly look at him since he can do two things defensively that are heavily in demand: protect the rim while also having the foot speed to switch and provide help on the perimeter. Needs to add strength and must improve his poor free throw percentage (below 50%). Read about his development @ ACC Sports

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Chimezie Metu, USC, JR, 6’11 225
16.4 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 1.8 BPG, .521 FG%, 98.6 DRtg
Mans the middle and is also the leading scorer for a solid USC team. Has been able to extend his jump shot range this season, and is shooting 40%, although on only one attempt per game. Will need to work on that jumper even more to solidify himself in the NBA, as he may not be able to get as many post touches at the next level against physically stronger players. Decent quickness for a big, but his basketball instincts aren’t always the best. See full scouting report @ NBA Draft Junkies

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Ajdin Penava, Marshall, JR, 6’9 214
16.7 PPG, 9.1 RPG, 4.9 BPG, .602 FG%, 91.3 DRtg
Definitely the most unknown player on this list, but he has had a breakout season for Marshall. Raw numbers are impressive considering he is leading the country in blocks per game while also playing very efficiently offensively- he has a .681 true shooting percentage, including .396 from 3 on nearly three attempts per game. There will be questions about the level of competition, but he did put up 25 and 9 against Xavier earlier this year and also played well against Illinois. There will be questions about how he can fit in the NBA, but could possibly find a niche if the league is truly becoming more positionless. There’s not much (national) discussion about him that I could find, but here is a video interview

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Role Player Finder- ‘3 and D’ Prospects

Part 1 in a series highlighting some players who could carve out careers as important role players in the NBA. These posts will focus on players that will likely fall on the bottom half of draft boards. Therefore, players that tend to be projected as lottery picks or hyped one-and-dones generally will not appear. (Players Listed Alphabetically)

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Deng Adel, Louisville, JR, 6’7 200
15.7 PPG, 4.6RPG, 2.7APG, .333 3PT%, 99.3 DRtg
Has managed to perform admirably in an odd season for Louisville, due to the fallout of the recruiting scandal. Very adept at getting out on the break and finishing relative to the others on this list. Shot could stand to improve but is shooting over 80% from the line and will likely not be relied on to create off the dribble as much in the NBA. See full scouting report @ NBA Draft Junkies

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Keita Bates-Diop, Ohio State JR, 6’7 235
19.8 PPG, 8.8 RPG, 1.4 APG, .398 3PT%, 89.7 DRtg
Significantly improved coming off a medical redshirt and has led a surprising Ohio State team to the top of the Big 10. Talented enough offensively that he may be able to be more than just a spot up shooter. Will need to adjust to not always having a size advantage on the wing in the NBA. See full scouting report @ (the former) Draft Express

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Vince Edwards, Purdue, SR, 6’8 225
14.7 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 2.8 APG, .452 3PT%, 89.3 DRtg
Generally a good enough athlete to cover multiple positions in the way that teams cover. Shooting a very good percentage from 3, although not at a high volume. Not great off the dribble, but a very solid rebounder. Feels as though he could take games over more at the collegiate level, but always manages to put up numbers. See full scouting report @ NBA Scouting Live

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Jacob Evans, Cincinnati, JR, 6’6 210
13.7 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 3.5 APG, .398 3PT%, 86.3 DRtg
One of the more fluid jump shooters out of anyone on this list. Should be well schooled in defensive principles having played in Cincinnati’s program. Very athletic, but probably won’t be able to match up with 4’s as easily as some other prospects due to size, which is more of that of a traditional 2. See full scouting report @ The Stepien

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DJ Hogg, Texas A&M, JR, 6’9 215
13.4 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 2.6 APG, .446 3PT%, 95.3 DRtg
Managing to shoot 45% from 3 on over six attempts per game. Lacks speed/quickness compared to some others on this list, but big enough that he may be able to fill the role of a stretch 4 from time to time. Some maturity questions as he has been suspended a few times during his career with Texas A&M. See full scouting report @ Basketball Society Online

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Shake Milton, SMU, JR, 6’6 205
18.3 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 4.5 APG, .438 3PT%, 96.1 DRtg
The best ball handler on this list, as he often serves as SMU’s de facto point guard. Teams should have faith in his jump shot, as he has shot over 42% from 3 during all three seasons of his college career. Similar to Evans in that his size makes him more geared to cover guards than larger forwards. See full scouting report @ The Stepien

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Kenrich Williams, TCU, SR, 6’7 210
14.9 PPG, 9.4 RPG, 3.8 APG, .455 3PT%, 101.1 DRtg
Very versatile and is asked to fill in a lot of the gaps by coach Jamie Dixon. Very good rebounder and can also help out with ball handling. Has a bit of a midrange game in addition to shooting efficiently from 3. Not the most athletic, but seems to make up for it defensively with smarts and physicality. See full scouting report @ NBA Scouting Live

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