Why are college one-and-done players so anxious to get to a team (minus the Celtics) that are probably going to lose between 30-50 games? Money? Fame? The Dream? All of it and none of it. With the tournament taking shape this weekend here are the best of the best, a few of the 2017 lottery picks.
Markelle Fultz: The Washington product’s career is done. He won’t make it to the NCAA tournament. He will have the same baggage as Ben Simmons. Particularly this question: how good is he if he can’t guide his team to a .500 record? Fultz is a knock down scorer. He can make twos and threes. He has a nice handle. He is a team player and moves the ball around. He has had a tough season and sometimes has negative body language if his team loses which is a bad sign if someone other than the Celtics takes him. Who needs him the most: Celtics, Mavs, Pelicans, Kings, Sixers, Magic, Knicks, Hornets, Heat.
Lonzo Ball: The UCLA wonderkid who does magical things with the ball looks like a pro player in college. Ball’s stock is even higher because he is on a winning team that has the talent to get to the Final Four. Ball’s father gets all the pub but Ball has a toughness, perhaps because of his father. He is rarely rattled and he led the Bruins to wins in hostile places. There is incessant chatter about the delivery on his shot but I love this kid. He has star written all on him. Will probably drop to #3 unless the Lakers get #1 or #2. Who needs him the most: Lakers, Pelicans, Kings, Mavs, Sixers, Knicks.
Josh Jackson: He has baggage. But it won’t matter. That’s how mercenary the league is. Whoever drafts him will try to rehabilitate the Kansas star and say, as an excuse, he’s 20. As for his game. Jackson is an extraordinary athlete. He is a playmaker with great court vision and, oh by the way, he’s 6-8. He plays super hard. He has toughness. Great rebounder. Will control the ball movement from the wing. He will be a point guard’s best friend, the hockey assist. He blocks shots and is very explosive. Doesn’t thrill with perimeter ball or at the free throw line but his athleticism will have him the #1 or #2 pick. Who needs him the most: Lakers, Pelicans, Kings, Mavs, Celtics, Magic, Knicks, Heat, Bucks.
Jonathan Issac: The Florida State 6-10 forward is a late bloomer but has the potential to be a diamond in the rough. He is a good athlete with handles like a guard. Can beat his man off the dribble, can finish in traffic. Is a good iso player and has a bunch of versatile moves. He is Brandon Ingram as far as strength so he is a project. He has no ability to defend with strength but can get there with a team that has patience. He blocks shots, creates steals. Who needs him the most: Suns, Pelicans, Kings, Mavs, Celtics, Magic, Knicks, Hornets, Heat, Bucks.
Jayson Tatum: He is a dark horse in this group to be Rookie of the Year. He has footwork some pros don’t have. He has an array of shots. He can score from anywhere on the wing and will enter the NBA as a willing defender with a decent nose for it. He likes making shots. He can back smaller wings down and post up with his foot work and size (6-8). He just knows how to play. He is a prototypical Coach K recruit. Who needs him the most: Lakers, Pelicans, Kings, Mavs, Celtics, Knicks, Heat, Magic, Bucks.
Malik Monk: He’s a volume scorer for Kentucky which lottery teams will love. They need an All-Star and Monk will be one just because he knows how to get buckets. He can hit the three ball. He call dribble pull up. He can score off the dribble and get to the cup. He is quick and anticipates steals. He is 6-4. That makes his defense on wings like Klay Thompson problematic. May be best served coming off the bench for instant offense ala Jamal Crawford. But he is very explosive and he loves launching shots. Who needs him the most: Celtics, Knicks, Pelicans, Mavs, Heat, Magic, Kings, Bucks.
De’Aaron Fox: He’s a left handed point guard with a lot of speed. He’s explosive and can finish in the lane. He is crafty with the ball. He can drive in the lane and pull up, or he can put the ball on the floor and get to the rim. He has elite speed and rebounds well enough for Kentucky and can run the break and finish. He has a combo guard game. He needs more weight and may get knocked out on screens. His major weakness is the three ball. But he changes directions as well as speed. Suited for an uptempo offense, meaning not a lot of big guys clogging the paint. Who needs him most: Lakers, Knicks, Pelicans, Mavs, Kings.
Dennis Smith Jr.: Point guard in the Russell Westbrook mode. May jump up to #4. Attacks the rim consistently. Has high leadership intangibles. Has a quick first step. Is a prototypical point in that he controls the tempo, sees the court and wants to make players better. He’s a great ball handler. Great in transition, can change direction and finish or find the trailer. He’s not a combo guard who is looking to get his. He has extremely quick hands. His team has been in turmoil all year and they won’t make any tournament. He had a previous ACL injury. Who needs him most: Lakers, Knicks, Kings, Pelicans, Mavs.