Ranking the 40 Best Prospects in the 2017 NBA Draft

I love the NBA Draft because I love college basketball and I love digging into details. Those two interests meld so perfectly into one wild night once a year.

Obviously, watching and researching college basketball is an important part of the draft process, but only a fraction of the total picture. If being the best college player equaled being a top pick, Josh Hart and Frank Mason would be two of the first names announced by Adam Silver.

The draft, however, features so many other wrinkles and qualifiers. How old are you? Who have you played? What role did you play? Does your game make sense in today’s league? Do you fit with a certain team’s style and roster? I can try to answer these questions and they only serve as the tip of the iceberg. Even the teams drafting players don’t truly know about work ethic, basketball IQ, and the baggage that goes with giving teenagers millions of dollars.

It’s an inexact science. The tiniest details or the most deep rooted basketball philosophies can have two intelligent basketball minds completely disagree about a prospect.

All we can do is try our best to suss out the strengths and weaknesses of the players available from what we’ve seen in the past. I’ve done my best to hunker down and rank the 40 best prospects that will hear their names called Thursday night. Previously, I’ve ranked them in three groups for Larry Brown Sports: the 10 best guards, 10 best big men, and 6 best swingmen. I’ll reference those rankings throughout this post, but there is a ton more analysis and stats in each of those pieces worth checking out.

Without further ado, let’s start at the top.

#1 Ranked Guard

Good News

The good news here is the lack of bad news. Markelle Fultz is a complete point guard. He’s long, athletic, springy, and smart. He can shoot from outside, get to the rim, and finish in traffic. He can pass and read the defense. He led major conference college basketball in scoring last season at 23 points per game. Over a four game stretch against conference competition, he averaged 32.3 points, 6.8 rebounds, 6.0 assists, 1.8 steals, 1.5 blocks, and 39.5 minutes (!!) per game. Fultz failed to score in double-figures only once in college, when he shot 3 for 14 against Western Kentucky, but added 10 assists, 8 rebounds, and 3 blocks.

He led the Pac-12 in fouls drawn per 40 minutes. And assist rate. And points per game. And Player Efficiency Rating.

Markelle Fultz is the best player in this draft, with the capability of becoming an All-Star and so much more. He fits with the Sixers because he’d fit with anyone. He’s really, really good.

Bad News

There were only two knocks against Fultz this season at Washington. I’ll lay both of them out here and then detail where they go wrong.

First, people noticed a tendency in Fultz to fall asleep on defense, allowing lesser opponents to drive by or let an off-ball cutter fly right by him. There’s no denying this happened, quite often throughout the year. Here’s stand still shooter Bryce Alford coasting right by Markelle Fultz:

In reality, this kind of thing is going to happen with a high-usage offensive player like Fultz. He had the 24th highest usage rate in college basketball, the highest in the Pac-12. Remember that crazy four game stretch I mentioned above? That included an overtime win in which Fultz played 43 minutes. Only two major conference players averaged more minutes per game than Fultz (Syracuse’s Andrew White and National Player of the Year Frank Mason III). It’s an excuse to say this is the sole reason he was unable to play top level defense, but in other situations, like high school and international FIBA competition, Fultz has always been a plus defender. With the ball often in the hands of Ben Simmons or Joel Embiid, Fultz figures to be much more attentive on defense.

The second, and more ridiculous, claim against Fultz was that he “isn’t a winner” because he played for a bad Washington team. Again, we can look to how he performed in other situations. He was the MVP of the gold medal winning U-19 FIBA World Championship team. His high school teams were dominant, losing only a half dozen games in his two seasons on the varsity.

He chose Washington out of loyalty to the first coach and school to offer him before he had a growth spurt. He expected to play with Dejounte Murray and Marquesse Chriss, but both bolted to the NBA after their freshman seasons before Fultz arrived. The rest of Washington’s roster was dismally untalented. Fultz bit the bullet, performed his best, and now moves on to greener pastures. There are plenty of NBA All-Stars who never played in the NCAA Tournament, like Klay Thompson, Paul George, Damian Lillard, and Paul Millsap.

#2 Ranked Guard

Good News

Most people would disagree with this ranking, but I’m adamant about my love for Smith. I’ve already gushed about him elsewhere, so let’s run those feelings again here.

First from Larry Brown Sports:

“Only 20 percent of Smith’s shots at the rim were assisted, compared to 48 percent of his made threes and only 3 percent of his 2-point jumpers. Contrast that with Malik Monk, still to come on these rankings and having played on a very talented Kentucky, who had 47 percent of his shots at the rim assisted, 20 percent of his 2-point jumpers, and a whopping 82 percent of his threes (all stats per Hoop-Math.com).

Despite carrying that heavy workload, Smith shot within 5 percentage points of Monk from each of those locations.”

And now from a previous post here at Palestra Back:

The triple-double was (Smith’s) second of conference play, making him the first ACC player to ever (*EVER*) record two triple-doubles against ACC opponents in a season. Yes, he accomplished something Michael Jordan, Len Bias, Ralph Sampson, Tim Duncan, James Worthy, Chris Paul, and every Duke Blue Devil of all-time were incapable of. 

Best of all, he did all of this in his first season back from ACL surgery. If he recovers to the kind of athlete he was before that knee injury, we’re looking at the closest thing to Russell Westbrook we’ve ever seen.

Bad News

Smith is not a great shooter, defender, or creator. Despite his lack of help at NC State, his flaws were apparent. He ended the season with eight games where he averaged under 15 points and 4 assists per contest. The major worry about his game at the next level will be tested early. Without a consistent jump shot, he’ll have space to operate when running pick and roll in the NBA. If he chooses fadeaways or low percentage shots over finding the open man, he’ll struggle. Athleticism will make him a lottery pick, but he’ll need to develop skills to be a star.

#3 Ranked Guard

Good News

It’s pretty simple. His ceiling is crazy, crazy (like LaVar Ball level crazy) high.

He could be a more athletic Jason Kidd with a jump shot. Casual reminder: JASON KIDD IS ALREADY A SUREFIRE HALL OF FAMER. He sees the floor as well as any teenager to ever enter the NBA draft. He toyed with college defenders last season. If that translates to the next level, watch out.

Bad News

His lack of a quick first step leaves something to be desired. No matter how good of a passer he is, it becomes much more difficult to execute those passes if he can’t first attract defensive attention or get to his spot. Ball’s best offensive move appears to be a 30 foot step back jump shot. He made a ton of them in college, but that kind of thing doesn’t fly in the pros.

Most of all, the next time Lonzo Ball plays good defense will be the first time. He has to bear down and use his athleticism on that end of the floor to bring value to an NBA franchise.

#1 Ranked Swingman

Good News

Jackson is a freak athlete that could be crazy versatile on defense and a blur streaking to the basket on offense. He was the first college freshman in five years to average more than a block per game, 1.5 steals per game, and 7 rebounds per game.

If he stays fully engaged on defense and as a rebounder, he has a high floor as an energetic, dunking, defensive nightmare.

Bad News

His jump shot is broken. I took a deeper dive into the numbers at Larry Brown Sports:

After starting the season shooting 23.7 percent from outside the arc (38 attempts in 18 games), Jackson caught fire, shooting 48.1 percent the rest of the season (53 attempts in 17 games). That’s a very small sample size, not aided by his dismal 57 percent free throw shooting, often a better indicator of future shooting success.

There is an obvious hitch in his shot that is impossible to simply overlook. If he can’t attract attention of defenders, he hampers what he and his teammates can do offensively. Imagine a 6’8 Michael Carter-Williams. Yikes.

Also, at some point, it feels necessary to mention that he chased a teammate’s ex-girlfriend out of a bar and beat the hell out of her car.

#1 Ranked Big Man

Good News

The NBA places great value on players able to switch on defense. Isaac is built for that new reality. He can legitimately cover four positions and could certainly switch on to most point guards. For a young player, he’s a raw prospect but it’s easy to see how he could be the perfect third banana for an NBA contender. He can be a defensive stud, anchoring the paint and switching everything. Isaac rebounds, to the tune of 12 boards per 40 minutes. He runs like a gazelle, uses his length in transition, and can finish in the paint.

Surprisingly, he has a nice shooting stroke too. If his shot extends to 3-point range, he’s a really intriguing prospect. He’s not likely to ever be a go-to-guy, but that’s alright. Draymond Green has taught us that super duper role players are worth a lot more than a flawed star.

Bad News

You raised an eyebrow at the phrase “super duper role player” there, didn’t you? Yeah that’s a scary proposition in a top five pick. Admitting he’s never going to be able to get his own shot is a bad start for a highly touted prospect.

Betting on him to become a defensive gamechanger is a big ask. He has the tools, but needs to show the effort and the understanding to do so. In the end, his motor and his size will always be an asset. Marvin Williams never should have been picked ahead of Chris Paul or in the top 5, yet he had a long NBA career and is still an NBA starter in his 12th NBA season. Isaac could have a similar future.

#4 Ranked Guard

Good News

He is a lights out shooter. Off the catch, off the dribble, anywhere. He can come off screens or create his own shot. He is super dangerous when he gets hot and he always seems to find a way to get hot.

Bad News

We’re not sure if he can handle the ball or if he’s relegated to being a small shooting guard. He doesn’t see the floor that well and can favor jump shots over attacking the paint at times.

His defense leaves a ton to be desired. Teams will look to exploit him on that end of the floor.

#5 Ranked Guard

Good News

He’s a great ball handler and floor general. He sees the floor exceptionally well and loves to move downhill, attacking the paint.

His defense may be where he can really shine. He’ll add real value at that end of the floor.

Bad News

He can’t shoot at all. Off the catch, off the dribble, anywhere. People will play way off him like Rajon Rondo and dare him to shoot, knowing how unlikely he is to get hot and hurt them.

You may not have noticed, but the last two prospects Good News and Bad News sections are literally copy and pasted, but switched to be polar opposites. As teammates, that made perfect sense. Fox handled the ball and drove into the paint, while Monk spotted up. Fox dogged the other teams lead guard while Monk relaxed on a lesser threat defensively. We’ve seen this from Kentucky players before. Devin Booker never handled the ball and Karl-Anthony Towns did nothing but post up. It’s tough to say for sure if Fox and Monk can break out of their molds and show more developed games or if they just proved to be a perfect yin and yang backcourt.

Good News

It’s pretty simple. If he defends and rebounds adequately, he could have a Kevin Love type of career. He’s the best shooter off the catch in this draft class, and not just among the big men. He is an absolute assassin from outside the arc or near the high-post. He moves fluidly and can handle the ball well-enough for a guy his size. On offense, he could be one of the most interesting pieces in this draft.

Bad News

But again, it will all come down to defense. At a certain point, no matter how good he could be on offense, if he can’t defend, Markkanen can’t stay on the court. No one is expecting him to be even average on that end of the floor, but he needs to be at least passable. Look at the young careers of Jahlil Okafor, Henry Ellenson, or Nikola Mirotic if you’re curious what happens to a serious defensive liability. Offensive numbers will look attractive at first, but a true sieve has no place on a contender.

#2 Ranked Swingman

Good News

Basketball is about putting the ball through the rim more than the other team. Jayson Tatum can get buckets.

He’s got a litany of offensive weapons, from the mid-range jumper to attacking the rim. His big body and quick first step allow him to score in so many different ways. It’s hard to imagine Tatum failing to score at 18 points per game in his prime. He will find a way.

Bad News

If today’s date were June 21, 2006, there would be no debate: Jayson Tatum would be the first player taken in this draft. He is an isolation wing scorer in the vein of Carmelo Anthony, Vince Carter, and Joe Johnson. There was a time where every NBA team thought they needed one of those.

That time has ended. Players who stop ball movement, don’t see the floor, and score best in isolation rarely flourish in today’s NBA. There are certainly outliers. Anthony is still successful in some regards. DeMar DeRozan plays that sort of game. Neither one of those guys is really leading their teams to bigger and better things.

Tatum isn’t a deadeye shooter (34 percent from outside in college) and he’s not the kind of player who creates for others. Finding the right fit for that kind of player isn’t easy in the days of pace and space.

#6 Ranked Guard

Good News

There’s a lot of Dwyane Wade in Donovan Mitchell’s game. He ran the fastest sprint at the draft combine. He contorts his body and finishes everything inside of 8 feet. He has the body to compete on both ends of the floor.

Any team looking for a shot at a star in the late lottery had better take a really close look at Mitchell.

Bad News

He’s not a shooter and NBA teams are getting awfully close to declaring that a true disqualifier for success. Without a jump shot to keep defenders honest, he may not be able to get to the rim successfully.

On top of that, he’s only 6’3 and he’s not a point guard. He’d better become a better handler and creator or prove that his 6’10 wingspan is capable of guarding shooting guards.

#7 Ranked Guard

Good News

Ntilikina has a great body, with long arms and a strong, wiry frame. In France, he’s used that physical profile to penetrate the ball into the paint to create for others or to shoot over smaller defenders. He’s a bulldog on the defensive end and will immediately compete on that end of the floor in the NBA.

Bad News

Frenchy Frank hasn’t proven he’s a point guard. His dribble is high and loose, his court vision is average, and he’s not lightning fast. For him to be effective in the NBA, he either needs to be a knockdown shooter, become more efficient in the pick and roll game, or simply be an elite defender. If none of those happen, he’ll struggle.

Good News

Zach Collins made his best case for being a lottery pick in the NCAA Championship. Despite being only a freshman and coming off the bench for Gonzaga, he was arguably the most impactful player in college basketball’s biggest game.

Foul trouble forced him to play only 14 minutes, in which he racked up 9 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 blocks. All season, when he entered the game, good things happened for the Zags. He flashed the ability to do everything:

For example, he has a nice touch and face-up game:

He has great vision for a big man his age, and soft hands able to make the right passes.

He can defend, and protect the rim. Collins really figured out how to be effective without fouling in the paint this season.

And his size is certainly encouraging. He uses that frame and strength to clear out space in the post:

(This was Collins’ fourth foul in the NCAA Championship game. No, no, I’m not still bitter about this. It’s fine. It’s ok.)

If all of his skills translate, Collins could someday look like the third American-born Gasol brother.

Worst Case

Despite what he showed at Gonzaga, he did so mostly in a small conference and in limited minutes. His range likely won’t extend to NBA 3-point range for the foreseeable future. He’ll need to continue to grow and get stronger in order to really compete with the bigger athletes in the NBA. His size and skill will keep him around the league for years, but without any elite skills, he could just be another big man. He’d be like the third Zeller brother or fourth Plumlee.

#3 Ranked Swingman

Good News

Part of me thinks OG Anunoby was built in a laboratory by scientists to create a basketball player to cause havoc on fast breaks. As both an offender and defender, the Indiana sophomore is an athletic marvel in the open court. He flies for dunks or chases down opponents to block their shots into the 10th row.

In the halfcourt, that athleticism makes him look like a wasp stuck in a mason jar. He darts around, switching, moving, and causing trouble. When the ball is near him, good things happen.

Bad News

He tore his ACL last season, so there is some question about whether he’ll continue to be the kind of athlete he was at Indiana.

On top of that, he has no jump shot or refined offensive skills to fall back on in the event that his athleticism can’t get the job done.

#4 Ranked Big Man

Good News

Let’s unpack how good Collins was this season at Wake Forest with some stats from my piece at Larry Brown Sports:

He demanded attention, ranking in the top three in the (ACC) in effective field goal percentage, offensive rebound rate, true shooting percentage, fouls drawn per 40 minutes, win shares, and points per game. He posted the highest PER ever by an ACC Player, since the stat was first tracked in 2009-10.

It’s easy to watch Collins and fall in love with his physical tools while forgetting how talented and skilled he really is. At worst, he projects to a level like the Morris twins or as high as an Amare Stoudemire level career.

 Bad News

He shot one three pointer in two college seasons. If you’ve watched an NBA game in the last three years, you know that’s a cause for concern. Power forwards who score with their back to the basket in the post are dinosaurs. He needs to evolve to thrive.

#5 Ranked Big Man

Good News

He’s built like a superhero and moves down the court like a speeding bullet. There are NFL quarterbacks who lay awake at night and dream about a target like him. Instead, he’ll streak down NBA floors looking to finish dunks on fast breaks. If he can keep his motor in high gear at all times, he could be the next Tristan Thompson.

Bad News

Ike Anigbogu averaged 5 points and 4 rebounds per game this season for the fastest offense in America. Not great!

To be fair, those numbers extrapolate out to 15 points and 12 rebounds per 40 minutes. Plus, 1.3 blocks per game (and 3.7 per 40 minutes) is a ton of defensive production.

He’s only 18 years old, but expecting him to become a skilled big man is a bit of a reach.

#6 Ranked Big Man

Good News

I’ve detailed my love for Patton before. His arms and legs are each 400 feet long, but he’s learned how to use them pretty quickly. It’s easy to imagine a good veteran point guard falling in love with tossing him alley-oops or dumping the ball to him for open 16 foot jumpers.

Bad News

My love of Justin Patton took a serious hit the first time I saw him play live and in-person against Villanova. Despite having the body and feet to be a force on the defensive end, he was always a step late in help defense. He seemed more worried about grabbing the ball after it went through the net than protecting the rim.

He can run at the rim like Tyson Chandler or DeAndre Jordan, but those guys have value because they anchor the team’s defense. If Patton can’t even figure out where he’s supposed to be, he’ll never be the defensive quarterback he needs to be in order to become an All-Star (or even a starter).

#7 Ranked Big Man

Good News

He looks like an NFL defensive end. He moves like a Jeep Wrangler. His name is Bam!

Adebayo doesn’t have the skills to become a Blake Griffin or Paul Millsap, but his raw athleticism and high motor can go a long way. He can certainly be the next Kenneth Farried or Derek Favors.

Bad News

They play NBA games on the basketball court, not in the weight room. If he can’t catch, pass, shoot, or be in the right spot defensively, there’s no minutes for him in the league. Plenty of guys just as big and strong as Bam Adebayo failed to earn their place in the NBA.

#8 Ranked Guard

Good News

Kennard is a great shooter and he’s more than a shooter. He led college basketball in points produced per possession as the ball handler in pick and rolls. The sophomore can catch-and-shoot, step back, pull up, or get to the lane and finish. If you’re expecting him to be a JJ Redick-type sniper, you’re stereotyping the white kid from Duke. In a perfect world, he ends up more like a wild mix of Manu Ginobili and CJ McCollum.

Bad News

For someone so great with the ball in his hands, Kennard is a bad passer. He averaged only two assists per game at Duke. That has to change with NBA opponents attacking him at the mesh point of a screen and roll.

You’d think his worst case is settling in as a sharpshooter, always relying on his jumper. In two seasons at Duke though, his 3-point percentage jumped from 32 percent to 44 percent. He’ll need to shoot like he did last year to stick in the league. If he shoots like he did his freshman year, his second pro contract will be paid in Euros.

#9 Ranked Guard

Good News

In four years at Villanova, Josh Hart did everything for the Wildcats. From a fringe role player off the bench, to a secondary scorer, to the heart and soul of the team, his role evolved every year. Most people project his role at the next level as a so-called “3 and D guy”, looking to make open jumpers and play strong defense. When Hart told this to Jay Wright, his college coach, he received an earful. Wright ripped that idea to pieces and demanded Hart do so much more for the Wildcats. He passed, rebounded, and created off the pick-and-roll, while also improving his jump shot and defending anyone Wright asked him to.

Josh Hart could be a solid “3 and D guy” like Danny Green or Robert Covington. But after this year at Villanova, I’m not willing to say he can’t be more than that. If he earns a max contract some day, it wouldn’t surprise me.

Bad News

While he elevated his game, Hart could act as a classic example of a senior coming into his own. While he was good as an underclassmen, he was limited and didn’t truly round out his game until his fourth season. That might have been thanks to hard work and smart planning, though it may have been the reward of playing against younger, inexperienced opponents. Hart is good at most things, but not great at really anything (except maybe rebounding from the guard position, hardly a prioritized quality). He is an above-average athlete, yet won’t stand out in that regard in the NBA. If his life is as a role player off the bench, he’ll need to define and enhance one of his skills, or NBA coaches will never really find a reason to call his number.

#8 Ranked Big Man

Good News

Rebounding has always been one of the most translatable skills from college to the next level. Shooting, driving, defense, and passing can all take a serious hit when faced with the speed and power of the NBA game. For whatever reason, however, guys who can read a missed shot, battle in the paint, and retrieve the rock have always found a way to succeed in the NBA. Rabb averaged more than 12 rebounds per 40 minutes in college. Last season he was top 3 in the Pac-12 in offensive and defensive rebounding rate. That’s a serious weapon and the type of skill that is valuable in the mid to late first round.

Bad News

Ok, so he can rebound. Anything else?

As a freshman, with more talent around him, Rabb was a nice offensive player. When that talent left for the NBA, graduated, and transferred, he became the focal point for the Golden Bears. His numbers plummeted and flaws in his game became more than apparent. He’s 6’11, skinny, and can’t shoot or pass. Not exactly well equipped for basketball in 2017.

#9 Ranked Big Man

Good News

If Harry Giles plays like he did before three knee surgeries, he’s the best value in this draft. He could be a freak in transition, on the glass, and above the rim. He was a springy, quick big man that the NBA has plenty of room for. He could look something like Taj Gibson or if he really recovers, Chris Webber.

Bad News

The floor for Giles is about as low as possible. Big guys with rusty knees are a scary proposition. If his body fails him, Giles will be a sad story about what could have been.

#10 Ranked Guard

Good News

After choosing a year in Australia over a season in college, Ferguson is still a bit of a project for whichever team drafts him. He has raw talents. He can shoot from outside and jump through the roof. If a team can direct those positives into the right system, he could blossom into a nice sub-All-Star level player, like Kentavious Caldwell-Pope or Johnathon Simmons.

Bad News

The litany of players with a decent jump shot and a vertical leap who never found their place in the NBA makes for a long, long list. Ferguson has the tools, but it remains to be seen if he’ll learn how to use those gifts. If he doesn’t, then he hasn’t played his last game overseas, as he’ll be headed back to international play in a few years.

#10 Ranked Big Man

Good News

Long arms and athleticism are exciting assets for an NBA center. Allen needs to learn how to harness those weapons and he could be a true defensive force. Rudy Gobert is a high ceiling, but if Allen can even be 80 percent of that, he’ll be a valued player in the league.

Bad News

At times, Allen disappeared from games at Texas. Maybe that was because coach Shaka Smart runs a fast paced attack that didn’t agree with Allen’s skill set. Or perhaps it was more because Allen wasn’t quite ready for the bright lights of college basketball. The lights in the NBA are even brighter and if Allen isn’t ready, he won’t last long.

Good News

Bradley is a big body and is light on his feet. As simple as that may seem, that can go a long way in pro basketball. If he develops a decent 15 foot jumper, he’ll be around for years. Bradley could attack the basket and protect the rim in the same way Stephen Adams does for the Thunder.

Bad News

In 38 games as a college basketball player, Tony Bradley never scored more than 14 points. Even worse, in his entire freshman season at UNC, he blocked only 22 shots. That won’t cut it and will end with Bradley as a 12th man on someone’s bench.

Good News

The NBA is thirsty for “stretch four” types to extend their offenses to the perimeter without sacrificing size. Leaf is 6’10 and can shoot from all over. For his size, he can get to the rim and pass to his teammates. He was a valued weapon on the dangerous UCLA offense last season.

Bad News

He scored against college level talent, but with more size and speed on the floor, Leaf needs to show that he can still finish in the paint. He shot the lights out from beyond the arc, thanks to the crazy spacing afforded to playing with Lonzo Ball and Bryce Alford. His 67 percent free throw percentage suggests his outside shooting was more the benefit of small sample size. Add these factors together and Leaf’s skills start to look inadequate for today’s NBA.

#4 Ranked Swingman

Good News

He’s built like a linebacker, but shot over 40 percent from 3-point land. That’s some serious value off any team’s bench. He should be able to guard multiple positions and cause mismatches when he has the ball.

Bad News

Ojeleye played this college basketball season as a 22 year old. In his first two seasons (at Duke before he transferred), he looked like a role player with no NBA future. Late bloomers exist, but leaving the ACC to dominate a lesser conference full of younger players doesn’t bode well for Ojeleye’s pro prospects.

#5 Ranked Swingman

Good News

He’s instant offense. Just add playing time and Justin Jackson is going to find a way to put the ball in the basket. He showed that constantly for three straight seasons in Carolina blue.

Bad News

For a guy with a reputation as a scorer, he’s not actually a great shooter. He made just 34 percent of his 3-point attempts in college and was a 71 percent free throw shooter for his career. His size and length were great assets in college, though they may have deserved more credit than they received for Jackson’s success. If he doesn’t make shots, he doesn’t do anything else well enough to stick around in the NBA.

Good News

Big! Athletic! European! Guy!

People fall in love with those types, but they are so hard to translate into the NBA. So many have succeeded, while so many others have failed (or never even come to the States to try).

Bad News

He’s already 21 years old, which is a little on the old side to be projecting based on upside. It’s tough to pick a guy to stash or keep on your roster as a project at that age. Late bloomers who are also raw don’t tend to work out.

#6 Ranked Swingman

Good News

Throw the ball up to start the game and Sindarius Thornwell will begin a 48 minute attack on the defensive end. He won SEC Player of the Year because he guarded the opponent’s best guy every time the Gamecocks stepped on the court. From point guards to power forwards, Thornwell answered the call. That would keep him in the NBA for a long time.

Bad News

He had his best season, by far, as a 22 year old senior. That’s disheartening for NBA scouts. Against elevated competition, we won’t see the same level of production on either end of the floor. If his defense is only above average, rather than great or elite, he may not have enough offensive pop to stick around on an NBA roster.

The Next Ten:


Shane McNichol is the founder, editor, and writer at PalestraBack.com. He has also contributed to ESPN.com, Rush The Court, SALTMoney.org, Larry Brown Sports, and USA Today Sports Weekly. Follow him on Twitter @OnTheShaneTrain. If you have any suggestions, tips, ideas, or questions, email them to palestraback@gmail.com

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