Category Archives: International

Studying Abroad 2017

In my previous post, I gave some background on my “DMX” draft metric and looked at the top NCAA prospects. The goal of integrating international prospects into DMX was to estimate how they would have performed in NCAA by establishing the relative strength of schedule for the multitude of overseas leagues. This method has its flaws, some that I will get into, but overall I am satisfied with where it ranks internationals among their NCAA counterparts. In the interest of making this read-able, I will hone in specifically on the prospects listed on DraftExpress’ most recent mock draft.

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Isaiah Hartenstein

There is a lot to like about Hartenstein (pictured), an athletic, teenaged 7-footer who can shoot threes, rebound, block shots, and pass. Isaiah’s biggest weakness is that he is an over-aggressive goon, resulting in high turnover and foul rates and inconsistent playing time this season for Zalgiris. Between his projection and a Hoop Summit performance where he acquitted himself well against future lottery picks like Mo Bamba, I am open to the possibility that Hartenstein is the best international prospect in this draft.

Rodions Kurucs

Kurucs, a 6’8″ forward from Latvia, is another young prospect with good numbers at the U18 level. He did play 24 games this year in Spain’s second-division, but a preseason injury robbed him of possible garbage time minutes in the Euroleague for FC Barcelona. At #22 in the DraftExpress mock and #25 in DMX, Rodi would seem to be rated accurately by the scouting consensus.

Frank Ntilikina

French PG Frank Ntilikina, widely considered the best international draft prospect, grades out a bit lower than both Kurucs and Hartenstein. However, the case for Ntilikina is an easy one to make if you parse the numbers.

Ntilikina’s DMX is pulled down by a 308-minute sample as a 17-year old playing for Strasbourg in the France Pro A, so in other words he is unfairly penalized for playing at a high level at an especially young age. If you remove those minutes from the equation his DMX spikes to 6.3, which would be #14 in this class and tops among international prospects. The question for Ntilikina isn’t so much how he compares to the other Euros, but rather how he stacks up against a loaded class of one-and-done NCAA point guards, and even in the best light Frank still looks to be a tier below De’Aaron Fox (7.4 DMX) and Dennis Smith Jr. (8.1), let alone Ball and Fultz.

Aleksandar Vezenkov

It speaks to Vezenkov’s track record overseas that he is the fourth-ranked auto-eligible draft prospect by DMX behind Monte Morris and Josh Hart, both of whom I singled out as winners, and Derrick White, my favorite draft sleeper. Vezenkov is an un-athletic tweener, but he has succeeded at every level from starring on the Bulgarian junior national team to his current role for FC Barcelona. His production and efficiency this season against top-tier competition in the ACB and Euroleague is fitting of one of the best young players not in the NBA.

PLAYER TS% PT/40 RB/40 AS/40 ST/40 BL/40 TO/40 DMX
Aleksandar Vezenkov .697 18.7 7.1 2.2 1.4 0.6 1.6 6.3

Mathias Lessort

Jonathan Jeanne

These two French bigs grade out similarly; Lessort is more productive in Pro A, Jeanne is younger, taller (7’2″), and has stretch five potential. I think Lessort is a good bet in the second round as a big who can bring defense and rebounding off the bench, while Jeanne’s upside could push him into the late-first conversation.

Alpha Kaba

Yet another big man from France, Kaba seems like a version of Lessort with more shooting and less rim-protection.

Jonah Bolden

Bolden is an interesting case as a guy who went from looking like a non-prospect in the NCAA (UCLA) to killing it overseas in the Adriatic League and the Serbian League for FMP Beograd.

SEASON TEAM PT/40 RB/40 AS/40 ST/40 BL/40 TO/40 DMX
2015-16 UCLA 8.3 8.7 1.9 1.2 1.5 1.5 1.1
2016-17 FMP 18.5 10.7 2.5 1.7 1.6 3.0 4.6

I don’t think this is an indictment of the level of competition overseas, but rather a case of a much-improved player as Jonah’s rise on draft boards would suggest. He looks like a legit second round pick.

Anzejs Pasecniks

Pro scouts and people with better insight into European hoops are high on Pasecniks and thus he is #28 on DraftExpress. I will defer to the experts on Anzejs being draft-able (not a hard sell at 7’1″ with offensive game), but his DMX is too bad for me to buy the first round hype. Pasecniks’ career trajectory most resembles an NCAA player who wasn’t any good until his junior or senior year. Even his current “breakout” season in the ACB doesn’t knock you over.

PLAYER TS% PT/40 RB/40 AS/40 ST/40 BL/40 TO/40 DMX
Anzejs Pasecniks .668 18.7 8.0 0.6 0.6 1.9 1.8 4.5

Terrance Ferguson

Saving my hottest takes for last, I probably wouldn’t even waste a draft pick on Terrance Ferguson, a consensus first-rounder. Everything past Ferguson’s age and physical profile is a red flag: Prime Prep, weak FIBA stats, couldn’t remember his short-list of schools at the McDonald’s game, commitment to/withdrawal from Arizona, terrible in the Australian NBL, incurred a 2-game suspension for punching an opponent. Ferguson is dead last in DMX and there are any number of non-prospects who would grade out better. I would bet against him panning out.

FIBA’s Finest 2016

When Kevin Durant and Team USA took the podium to receive their gold medals, it marked not only the end of the Olympics, but of a summer of FIBA tournaments. Beginning with the U17 Worlds in June and concluding with Saturday’s thrilling U16 European championship game, the best young players from across the globe have been competing for their junior national teams in small-scale versions of the Rio games. Here is a breakdown of some of the standout performers, along with their early DMX grades (the complete model for reference):

1st TEAM

G: Markelle Fultz (USA)
FIBA Exp.: 109 minutes (2016 U18 Americas)
FIBA DMX: 13.3

Another small sample size, another shroud of evidence that Markelle Fultz is the best PG prospect since Kyrie Irving. Fultz has moved to #1 in DraftExpress’ 2017 mock draft, in part due to his dominant play at the U18 Americas tournament. I captured some of his finest moments for your enjoyment.

G: Collin Sexton (USA)
FIBA Exp.: 113 minutes (2016 U17 Worlds)
FIBA DMX: 9.1

If I had to pick a star-making performance of the FIBA junior national games, I’d lean towards Collin Sexton (pictured) in the U17 championship game against Turkey. In a 20-minute adrenaline rush, the 6-footer scored 16 points (8-9 FG) and dished out 8 assists. Beyond the box score, Sexton plays with an energy, flair, and fearlessness from the point guard position that is distinctly Westbrook-ian.

F: Dzanan Musa (Bosnia)
FIBA Exp.: 876 minutes (2014 U16 Euros, 2015 U16 Euros, 2016 U17 Worlds)
FIBA DMX: 7.2

Dzanan Musa played the role of one-man team for a Bosnian squad that likely wouldn’t have qualified for the tournament without him. Musa, a highly skilled offensive player, was mostly up to the task, including a 50-point outburst against Chinese Taipei. After three FIBA tournaments and a 2016 season in which he appeared in Euroleague at age 16, Musa is one of the highest rated international prospects in the world (6.8 DMX overall).

F: Michael Porter Jr. (USA)
FIBA Exp.: 105 (2016 U18 Americas)
FIBA DMX: 10.7

Young Michael Porter Jr. looked the part of a future #1 pick, putting on a show alongside Markelle Fultz in the U18s. Porter is a futuristic prototype; a 6’10” forward who can handle, shoot threes (6-20 3PT), and explode for transition dunks. With Porter already in tow for next year’s recruiting class, Washington’s Lorenzo Romar may have bagged the #1 pick in back-to-back years.

C: Usman Garuba (Spain)
FIBA Exp.: 203 minutes (2016 U16 Euros)
FIBA DMX: 8.7

Spain’s Usman Garuba took U16 MVP honors and had one of the most dominant FIBA runs of the summer by anyone not on Team USA…as a 14-year old. One can’t help but question the validity of Garuba’s birth certificate, given how big and good he is, although this would be an unnecessarily bold lie. Either way, Garuba is a stellar defender, rebounder, and finisher who could develop into a Tristan Thompson type.

2nd TEAM

G: Troy Brown (USA)
FIBA Exp.: 166 minutes (2016 U17 Worlds)
FIBA DMX: 8.8

Brown is not a great scorer at this stage, but he was arguably Team USA’s best all-around player in the U17 Worlds. At 6’6”, Brown has the versatility to run the offense (5.1 assists per 40 minutes) or play alongside smaller guards like Collin Sexton and Markus Howard.

G: R.J. Barrett (Canada)
FIBA Exp.: 307 minutes (2015 U16 Americas, 2016 U17 Worlds)
FIBA DMX: 4.7

Just a rising sophomore at Montverde Basketball Factory, Barrett profiles similarly to the last big thing out of Canada, Andrew Wiggins. Barrett is an athletic, five-star swingman without any particular outlier skills. For what it’s worth, R.J. has outperformed Wiggins at the FIBA level:

PLAYER FIBA Exp. PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV DMX
R.J. Barrett 307 minutes 26.3 7.2 3.1 1.4 0.8 4.0 4.7
Andrew Wiggins 289 minutes 20.0 7.3 1.8 1.0 1.8 3.2 3.2

F: P.J. Washington (USA)
FIBA Exp.: 89 minutes (2016 U18 Americas)
FIBA DMX: 9.1

Like Troy Brown, Washington was an un-celebrated role player with an absurd small sample size DMX. Washington, who possesses impressive court vision for a teenaged big man, picked up eight assists and nine steals in less than 90 minutes of court time.

F: Lauri Markkanen (Finland)
FIBA Exp.: 818 minutes (2013 U16B Euros, 2014 U18B Euros, 2015 U18 Euros, 2016 U20 Euros)
FIBA DMX: 7.1

It was tough to leave Markkanen off the first team in favor of Musa, who I couldn’t in good conscious pass off as a guard. The best hooper from Finland in who knows how long, Lauri will try to carry the momentum of a big summer into a highly anticipated freshman year at Arizona.

C: Wendell Carter Jr. (USA)
FIBA Exp.: 217 minutes (2015 U16 Americas, 2016 U17 Worlds)
FIBA DMX: 7.7

The biggest difference between USA Basketball and other countries at the junior level are man-children like Wendell Carter Jr., who has been a dominant scorer and rebounder for two gold medal squads.

New Guys By The Numbers 2016

1. Markelle Fultz
6’4” PG
Washington
DMX: 10.2
DMX Comp: D’Angelo Russell (9.6)

In what could go down as a historically great point guard class, Markelle Fultz stands head and shoulders above the rest and is my early prediction to become the number one draft pick in 2017. Markelle’s projected 10.2 DMX is the third best for a point or combo guard since 2002 behind only Ricky Rubio and Kyrie Irving. He also edges Ben Simmons (9.9 DMX) for the status of “best prospect in the world”. This is based on a very small sample size even relative to his peers, but I still think it is noteworthy for several reasons. For one, it’s exceptionally hard to amass a double-digit DMX in a sample size > one game. Roughly 99% of the players in my model, many of whom are teenagers with samples similar to Fultz, have a DMX between 1-10. Fultz’s stats include games a year apart, in gyms in Garden Grove, CA and Brooklyn, so I think they hold some weight. Most importantly, his profile and eye test back up the projection of a future star PG.

Markelle is one of the youngest players in his class, has off-the-charts measurements for a PG (6’4”, 6’9” wingspan), explosive athleticism, a smooth jump shot, and creative passing skills. He was among the most buzzed-about players by scouts and NBA people over the last month, and for good reason. Fultz is not on top of draft boards yet, but the consensus is warming to him and I sense the movement has already begun. Basically, I see Markelle as the ‘17 version of D’Angelo Russell in a class without a Karl Towns.

2. Harry Giles III
6’10” PF/C
Duke
DMX: 7.3
DMX Comp: Myles Turner (7.6)

Giles is the one player besides Fultz with enough hypothetical upside to draft #1. HGIII didn’t get a chance to participate in the all-star circuit because of an ACL tear (his second in high school) that kept him sidelined all season. I would have liked to see him play against the other top bigs in his class, but between his projection, #1 recruiting ranking, and a quick YouTube browse he seems like the real deal. His injury history casts a dark cloud over what is an otherwise sparkling PF/C prospect. Giles has the two-way versatility that is increasingly valuable in big men as the small-ball revolution has phased out big, plodding centers. If he stays healthy and sharpens his skills at Duke, Giles should be a top-three lock.

3. Josh Jackson
6’7” SG/SF
Kansas
DMX: 6.9
DMX Comp: Stanley Johnson (7.1)

Josh Jackson has been billed as a potential #1 pick upon making his much-anticipated commitment to Kansas. He is a legit two-way wing player that is particularly good defensively, but he doesn’t seem special enough to be a top pick. He’s also the same age as some of the one-and-done guys this year, so he will have to be treated as an NCAA sophomore. Short of Josh looking like the second coming of Jimmy Butler, I think he will settle in somewhere in the top five. By the way, since I’ve seen this being discussed, I wouldn’t be worried about Jackson’s decision to play for Bill Self hurting his production. Self’s last three big shot wing prospects (Oubre, Wiggins, Xavier Henry) are all in the ~ 90th percentile of DMX.

4. Dennis Smith
6’2” PG
North Carolina State
DMX: 7.9
DMX Comp: Jay Williams (8.3)

Like Giles, Dennis Smith was unfortunately missing from the all-star games with injury. Smith is projected better than the other scoring point guards so this seems like a good place for him. If Cat Barber enters the draft, Smith with have a chance to put up big numbers as a freshman.

5. Jayson Tatum
6’8” SF
Duke
DMX: 7.8
DMX Comp: Luol Deng (7.6)

On paper, Tatum looks like a Jabari Parker-type scoring combo forward, but it’s apparent that he lacks Parker’s strength and burst. He reminds me more of Otto Porter, a fantastic college player and DMX stud (8.5), than a future superstar forward. He will join a loaded Duke roster that ESPN’s John Gasaway called “D-I’s strongest roster in years”. Duke will boast four top-20 DMX players in the 2017 draft class: Tatum, Giles, Grayson Allen (5.9), and Luke Kennard (5.5). The only other team with that distinction was 2006 UNC (Marvin Williams, Rashad McCants, Sean May, Raymond Felton), who won the NCAA championship.

6. Lonzo Ball
6’5” PG
UCLA
DMX: 7.8
DMX Comp: Michael Carter-Williams (7.5)

The most interesting man of the McDonald’s game (where he set the assists record), Lonzo Ball is part Jason Kidd, part Kendall Marshall with a range of NBA outcomes falling anywhere in between. Ball is one of the best 18 year-old passers you will ever see. At 6’5” he can see the court and is remarkably intelligent, skilled, and unselfish. If his high school stats are any indication, Lonzo could push a triple-double per 40 minutes at UCLA, and is a lock to break stat models like former Bruins Kyle Anderson (7.5 DMX) and Jordan Adams (9.2 DMX) did a few years back. The hang up for Ball is his hideous jump shot and concerns over him being a scoring threat at the next level. I think he is unique enough to make do.

7. Malik Monk
6’3” PG
Kentucky
DMX: 7.3
DMX Comp: Jerryd Bayless (7.4)

8. De’Aaron Fox
6’3” PG
Kentucky
DMX: 6.4
DMX Comp: Jrue Holiday (7.0)

9. Bam Adebayo
6’9” PF/C
Kentucky
DMX: 6.7
DMX Comp: Noah Vonleh (6.9)

Monk and Fox will comprise the backcourt for Kentucky next season, and it ought to be something to behold. Fox is a quick, shifty 6’3” PG who plays hounding defense. Monk, who can play both guard positions, might be the best scorer in the class. Edrice “Bam” Adebayo continues a long-running tradition of Calipari sniping an elite big man prospect. I’m not sure this is a better haul than Duke’s, but it’s close.

10. Killian Tillie
6’10” PF
Gonzaga
DMX: 7.8
DMX Comp: Ryan Anderson (7.4)

While most D-I programs fight over a handful of ho-hum 6’10” guys, Gonzaga, the Spurs of NCAA, signed the best international prospect in the world by DMX. Tillie’s 7.8 DMX is fourth best among incoming NCAA freshmen between Lonzo Ball and Jayson Tatum, the #5 and #2 ranked high school players. A grade like that in 450 minutes is too good to ignore and Tillie’s highlights make him look like an absolute stud. KT will make Gonzaga fans forget about Kyle Wiltjer quickly and it is only a matter of time before he appears on draft boards.

Honorable Mention

Jarron Cumberland
6’4” SG
Cincinnati
DMX: 7.3
DMX Comp: Bradley Beal (6.8)

If Tillie is the most underrated newcomer, Jarron Cumberland is the most underrated high school prospect. The Cincinnati signee is ESPN’s 43rd ranked 2016 prospect despite having the fifth best DMX projection. It’s easy to see why scouts are bearish on Jarron, though. He is built more like a linebacker than an NBA guard and has the ugliest release on his jumper this side of Lonzo Ball.

Frank Jackson
6’4” PG/SG
Duke
DMX: -0.2

The title of most overrated prospect goes to Duke recruit Frank Jackson. Albeit in a small sample size (they cut both ways), Jackson has a DMX hovering around 0 and an assist-turnover ratio hovering around 1. With Derryck Thornton transferring and a frontcourt that includes Giles, Tatum, and fifth-year senior Amile Jefferson, I expect to see a lot of Grayson Allen and even Luke Kennard running point for the Blue Devils.

Michael Porter Jr.
6’9” SF
DMX: 9.3
DMX Comp: Carmelo Anthony (9.0)

Projecting even further into the future, Michael Porter Jr. (class of 2017) looks like a bona fide #1 pick. I don’t have enough stats for 7’0” monsters DeAndre Ayton or Mohamed Bamba, but it’s going to be hard for them to top Porter, a 6’9” forward whose 9.3 DMX in 450 minutes puts him in Brandon Ingram territory.

Studying Abroad 2015

My primary motivation behind writing about International prospects last year was to set the record straight on Clint Capela, a player who I felt strongly that scouts had whiffed on. Watching Capela spell Dwight Howard as a rim protector and Harden’s pick-and-roll partner in the Playoffs has me feeling confident in my ability to evaluate European prospects on small slices of data. The only assessment that doesn’t look great a year later is that of Dante Exum, who I overrated based on his ability to score inside the arc against other teenagers. To keep myself from making a similar leap of faith this year, I’ve only included players with a significant minutes sample of pro ball.

WINGS

RANK PLAYER TS% PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV
#8 Mario Hezonja 0.542 18.5 5.7 2.9 2 0.6 3.4
#34 Nedim Buza 0.552 16.9 6.9 2.3 1.8 0.7 3.2
#36 Cedi Osman 0.512 14.2 6.7 2.6 2 0.5 2.2
#37 Timothe Luwawu 0.485 15.1 5.3 3.2 2.3 0.2 3
#46 Mateusz Ponitka 0.577 19.4 6.8 2.2 2.2 0.5 3.2
#60 Ognjen Dobric 0.598 16.1 6.8 1.8 1.4 0.2 1.9

Mario Hezonja has had an uneven career in terms of production and playing time that probably merits a more in-depth analysis. Overall, his cumulative stats combined with plus size and athleticism justify his hype as the top foreign prospect.

This year’s Clint Capela could be Bosnian SG/SF Nedim Buza, a player who is underrated for no apparent reason. Buza is 19 years old, has great size (6’8″) for his position, and rock solid stats playing against professionals. Like Capela, Buza flew under the radar at the Nike Hoop Summit, going 2-2 from 3PT range (his only attempts) in 13 minutes. He did appear to be overmatched athletically against guys like Alonzo Trier, which I have to assume is his biggest knock as a prospect. His questionable tools are the only thing keeping me from taking a crazy bullish stance on Buza, who I already have about 20 slots higher than DraftExpress. Clumped in with Buza in the 30-40 range are Cedi Osman and Timothe Luwawu, a pair of young 3&D prospects who are inefficient but scouts seem to like.

My other favorite from this group is Mateusz Ponitka. In the 2011 Nike Hoop Summit game, the then 17-year-old Polish phenom poured in 17 points against a Team USA backcourt featuring Bradley Beal. Whatever hype existed back then seems to have subsided, because Ponitka is on the outside looking in on mock drafts despite being a productive player overseas. Ponitka is the shortest and oldest of the group, but he has very good stats and appears to be an NBA athlete.

Ognjen Dobric is a deep sleeper, but he’s posted insane offensive efficiency and all of his YouTube highlights are dunks. I say he’s draftable.


BIGS

RANK PLAYER TS% PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV
#11 Kristaps Porzingis 0.562 19.3 8.2 1 1.6 2.2 2.5
#29 Arturas Gudaitis 0.626 19.9 11.4 1 1.3 2.4 2.1
#39 Aleksandar Vezenkov 0.607 17.9 8.6 2.6 1.2 0.3 1.9
#43 Mouhammadou Jaiteh 0.603 19.3 12.1 1.3 1.2 1.3 2.8
#47 Guillermo Hernangomez 0.573 19.9 11 0.9 1.6 1 3.3
#51 Anzejs Pasecniks 0.507 14.9 8.5 0.8 1 1.2 2.2
#52 Moussa Diagne 0.585 12.5 13.6 0.6 1.3 2.1 2.7
#54 Nikola Milutinov 0.548 12.2 9.1 1.5 0.7 1.2 1.9

While Kristaps Porzingis has plenty of intrigue as an athletic, floor spacing 7-footer, his consistently terrible rebounding rate does nothing to quell concerns about soft-ness. He’s worth a gamble in the lottery, but I maintain a bearish stance on Kristpas relative to the scouting consensus.

On the flip side of that is Arturas Gudaitis (pictured), a projected late-2nd rounder that I have on the fringes of round one. The 6’10” Lithuanian has a combination of scoring (19.9 PTS/40), efficiency (.626 TS%), rebounding (11.4 REB/40), and rim-protection (2.4 BLK/40) that is matched only by top center prospects like Karl Towns and Jahlil Okafor. Were he a few inches taller or a few years younger (AG will be 22 on draft night) I might have Gudaitis in the lottery. As it stands, he looks like an awesome second round value as a defender and pick-and-roll stud.

Aleksandar Vezenkov has a great age (19) and stats combo, but he doesn’t pass the eye test as an un-athletic tweener with a murky NBA role. Similarly, Mam Jaiteh has great stats but looks like a stiff. The last three guys are late-2nd round waivers. Anzejs Pasecniks is the sort of gamble I would make in the 50s: a 7’2” teenager who is a bit too confident in his 3PT stroke. Last and least is Nikola Milutinov, who if not for his reputation amongst more informed scouts (#37 on DraftExpress), wouldn’t be on my big board at all. Based on his stats and eye test it’s not apparent what he’s good at besides being 6’11”, and I feel confident calling him a dud.

Annotated 2015 NBA Draft Big Board: The Lottery

Since I only got to touch on three top prospects this season, I wrote a bunch of words to accompany my first big board. I am still sorting through the rest of the draft, but my lottery rankings are more-or-less set in stone at this point, so I thought I’d share them in preparation of tonight’s championship game:

1. Karl Towns
Position: PF/C
Height: 6’11” Weight: 250
School: Kentucky
NCAA Stat Comp: Chris Bosh

I was an early member of #TeamTowns when I ran the numbers on the high school all-star games (a surprisingly decent indicator of NCAA success, at least this season) and noticed that while Jahlil Okafor hardly ever blocked shots, Towns did so in bunches. He also displayed a versatility to his game unmatched by the top-ranked Okafor.

Although I waffled on this debate throughout the year, Towns’ strong play in the final months of the season affirmed my convictions and even swung the popular consensus in favor of Towns. The Towns/Okafor debate raised interesting discussion about the evolving role of centers today’s NBA. RealGM’s Johnathan Tjarks tackled this well recently, as did Warriors beat writer Ethan Strauss in < 140 characters:

Towns is not a perfect prospect. He’s not especially athletic or fleet of foot, which caps his potential at both ends. But his overall package as a 7-footer who can protect the rim, shoot, pass, and score inside makes him a rather safe bet at #1. I expect that Towns will have an impact similar to that of Chris Bosh or Al Horford who both, in my estimation, provided the returns of a solid #1 pick.

PLAYER HT TS% REB AST STL BLK TOV PTS NBA PER
Karl Towns (Fr.) 7’0” .627 12.7 2.1 0.9 4.3 2.6 19.5 ?
Chris Bosh (Fr.) 6’11” .634 11.6 1.6 1.3 2.6 3.0 20.2 20.6
Al Horford (So.) 6’10” .615 11.7 3.0 1.6 2.7 17.5 19.0

2. D’Angelo Russell
Position: PG/SG
Height: 6’5” Weight: 180
School: Ohio State
NCAA Stat Comp: James Harden

Like Towns, I made my love for D’Angelo Russell known throughout the season. As an admirer of flashy passing, I was instantly drawn to Russell: a willing, smart, and exceptional passer.

D’Angelo can score too, dropping 22.7 PTS/40 on high efficiency as a freshman, and his size and STL rate lend some optimism to his defensive potential. There are valid concerns about his ability to get to the rim and finish at the NBA level, which could preclude him from being a Harden-level superstar. D’Angelo has a slim downside as the next Jerryd Bayless, a vaguely similar player who too was an explosive scorer as a freshman.

PLAYER 2P% 3P% FT% REB AST STL BLK TOV PTS
D’Angelo Russell .479 .441 .756 6.7 5.9 1.9 0.4 3.4 22.7
Jerryd Bayless .489 .407 .839 3.1 4.5 1.1 0.1 3.3 22.1

Russell is comfortably superior statistically, and possesses a confidence and feel for the game can’t be quantified. I suspect that he is closer to the ranks of Harden, Manu Ginobili, or Stephen Curry.

3. Jahlil Okafor
Position: C
Height: 6’11” Weight: 270
School: Duke
NCAA Stat Comp: Kevin Love

When a player begins the year as the “consensus top pick”, it’s only natural to poke holes in his game. While dwelling on Jahlil Okafor’s ugly defensive deficiencies, it’s important not to lose sight of the fact that he was one of the best low-post scorers in NCAA history as a freshman. His non-shooting hurts, but Jah’s size, hands, footwork, and touch around the rim make his low-post offense likely to translate to the NBA.

PLAYER TS% REB AST STL BLK TOV PTS
Jahlil Okafor (Fr.) .641 11.3 1.7 1.0 1.9 3.3 23.0
Kevin Love (Fr.) .644 14.4 2.6 0.9 1.9 2.7 23.6

The Kevin Love comparison might seem silly on the surface, but I actually like it. They are quite different as players, obviously, but I could easily envision Okafor having a career just like Love’s: put up gaudy numbers on non-playoff teams, face criticism over his lack of defensive effort and acumen, and earn a reputation as a quasi-superstar who isn’t totally conducive to winning.

4. Emmanuel Mudiay
Position: PG
Height: 6’5” Weight: 200
Team: Guangdong Foshan
NCAA Stat Comp: John Wall

This draft’s most intriguing mystery box is Emmanuel Mudiay, an SMU commit who opted to play in China amidst academic issues. I honestly have no idea what to take away from a 12-game sample in the Chinese Basketball Association, but Mudiay’s stats do look good. Combined with his impressive showings during the high school all-star circuit, it appears that his #2 RSCI ranking was fairly accurate, putting him in the tier of Towns and Okafor. I don’t have enough information on Mudiay to confidently place him ahead of three freshmen who dominated the NCAA, but he projects as a median between Tyreke Evans and John Wall, which justifies taking gamble on him in the top five.

PLAYER 2P% 3P% FT% REB AST STL BLK TOV PTS
Emmanuel Mudiay (CBA) .512 .342 .581 7.9 7.5 2.0 0.1 4.1 22.8
John Wall (Fr.) .509 .325 .754 4.9 7.5 2.0 0.6 4.6 19.1
Tyreke Evans (Fr.) .514 .287 .711 7.4 5.3 2.9 1.1 5.0 23.6

5. Justise Winslow
Position: SF
Height: 6’7” Weight: 225
School: Duke
NCAA Stat Comp: Vince Carter

Justise separated himself from the glut of wing prospects in the 5-10 range by going on a late-season tear and leading his team to the national championship game. The first thing that stands out about Winslow is his incredible physique and athleticism at such a tender age. The kid is a fucking stallion. Now that Winslow is putting up stats to match his eye test, he slides easily into to the top five. There are some caveats to his performance this season; he’s done a lot of damage as a small-ball PF and in transition, neither of which are likely indicative of his NBA future. For those reasons, the Vinsanity comparison may be a bit extreme, but I do see Justise as a version of Andre Iguodala or Kawhi Leonard at the next level.

6. Stanley Johnson
Position: SF
Height: 6’7” Weight: 235
School: Arizona
NCAA Stat Comp: Caron Butler

There is a lot to like about Stanley Johnson, but his game lacks punch of the top five prospects. Johnson is rock solid statistically, and his high school ranking and status as the leading scorer/key defensive stopper for a great college team bode well for him. StanJohn projects out as a versatile forward who can guard the opposition’s best player, but with his bland game I see him as dangerously straddling the thin line between Jimmy Butler and Jae Crowder.

PLAYER 2P% 3P% FT% REB AST STL BLK TOV PTS
Stanley Johnson (Fr.) .478 .371 .739 9.1 2.3 2.1 0.6 3.0 19.4
Jimmy Butler (Career) .525 .383 .773 7.4 2.3 1.5 0.6 1.4 16.3
Jae Crowder (Career) .581 .350 .683 10 2.4 2.5 1.2 1.4 19.3

7. Willie Cauley-Stein
Position: C
Height: 7’0” Weight: 240
School: Kentucky
NCAA Stat Comp: Taj Gibson

Cauley-Stein is essentially the anti-Okafor; a rare rim-protector with lateral quicks, but zero back-to-the-basket game. He is in the top ten for the same reason Jah is not #1 overall, he is a defensive destroyer at the most high leverage defensive position. Willie’s versatility on D and potential as a lob catcher have drawn comparisons to Tyson Chandler and Chris “Birdman” Andersen, which gives you a good idea of his variance as a prospect.

8. Mario Hezonja
Position: SG/SF
Height: 6’8” Weight: 200
Team: FC Barcelona
NCAA Stat Comp: Francisco Garcia

I would like to dive deeper into Hezonja and the other international guys at some point, but Mario seems like a sexy enough mystery box to take a gamble on in the top ten. He is 6’8”, a plus athlete, an accurate shot-maker, and a gifted distributer. That is an awfully intriguing offensive package. There are lingering concerns about his defense and his attitude, but he is pretty clearly a lottery value. It was difficult to find a proper NCAA comparison for Hezonja, but based on scouting reports I’d wager that he has upside as Joe Johnson 2.0.

9. Kelly Oubre
Position: SF
Height: 6’7” Weight: 200
School: Kansas
NCAA Stat Comp: Robert Covington +

I admittedly didn’t see much of Oubre this season, in part because he received inconsistent playing time in his one season at Lawrence (21 MP/G). Oubre has great physical tools and decent stats as a frosh, so I doubt a GM would regret rolling the dice on him here.

10. Myles Turner
Position: PF/C
Height: 6’11” Weight: 240
School: Texas
NCAA Stat Comp: Chris Mihm

Myles Turner was one of the surprises of the early going, as I noted in my earlier write-up on the Turner/Okafor/Towns triumvirate. I also posited that how they “perform in league play and into March Madness will likely determine whose name is called first,” which turned out to be true. This is bad news for Myles Turner, whose offensive efficiency cratered badly in Big 12 play. Turner’s TS% dropped 8% from the time I wrote that article to Texas’ unceremonious exit from the NCAA tourney, and his 8/38 from 3pt range in the Big 12 basically wipes away his edge as a prospect. Turner is also not the most fluid athlete, and much has been made (probably too much) about his lumbering gait. His statistical similarities to former Longhorn stiff and draft bust Chris Mihm doesn’t help.

PLAYER 2P% 3P% FT% REB AST STL BLK PTS
Myles Turner (Fr.) .513 .274 .839 11.8 1.1 0.5 4.7 18.3
Chris Mihm (Fr.) .503 .300 .684 13.4 0.8 0.5 3.8 19.9

But Myles is still a 6’11” teenaged rim-protector with a feathery shooting touch. It could also be asserted the Turner’s, shall we say, less-than-desirous situation at Texas hurt his draft stock. Texas’ guards couldn’t pass, and Myles was often paired up with a lane-clogging big man like Cam Ridley or Prince Ibeh. To make matters worse, the recently-canned Rick Barnes is an awful coach who had no idea how to utilize Turner. I have faith that he will be better than Chris Mihm, but it is clear that his Anthony Davis-like non-conference dominance was but a dream.

11. Kristaps Porzingis
Position: PF/C
Height: 7’1” Weight: 216
Team: Balancesto Sevilla
NCAA Stat Comp: Channing Frye

As I mentioned regarding Hezonja, I don’t know a ton about this year’s international crop, so I am willing to defer to the scouting consensus on Porzingis, which places him in the top ten range. That said, I am rather bearish on Kristaps. He is extremely slight of frame, and his weak rebounding and shot-blocking numbers are not a good look for 7’0” prospects. Draft-modeler extraordinaire Layne Vashro tweeted out Kristaps’ eery statistical likeness to Andrea Bargnani, and what is more worrisome is that even the most positive scouting reports fail to distinguish him from Bargs in any meaningful way.

12. Jakob Poeltl
Position: C
Height: 7’0” Weight: 230
School: Utah
NCAA Stat Comp: Brendan Haywood +

Poeltl is the opposite of a sexy pick, but he satisfies all the pre-requisites for an NBA center. Poeltl is a 7’0” giant who rebounds, blocks shots, finishes well at the rim, and shows good hands and footwork as the roll man in the PnR. Fittingly, his freshman year stats compare to boring yet effective big men such as Robin Lopez, Steven Adams, and Brendan Haywood.

13. Frank Kaminsky
Position: C
Height: 7’0” Weight: 242
School: Wisconsin
NCAA Stat Comp: Brad Miller

Frank “Nowitzky” Kaminsky is an old prospect with valid translation concerns, but skilled, floor-stretching 7-footers are too rare to pass up in the lottery. The Wooden Award recipient was legitimately the best player in the NCAA this season, as evidenced by his ownage of arguably the top two NCAA frontcourts (Arizona and Kentucky) in consecutive games. Kaminsky is reminiscent of Brad Miller and more recently Gonzaga’s Kelly Olynyk, who has given Boston a nice return from this same draft slot.

14. Kris Dunn
Position: PG
Height: 6’3” Weight: 205
School: Providence
NCAA Stat Comp: Jamaal Tinsley +

Kris Dunn was tough for me to get a handle on, as he looked like Marcus Smart at times and Andrew Harrison at others. To that point, Dunn’s first ~ 800 NCAA minutes were basically a disaster before his breakout junior year, and his exorbitant TOV rate as an upperclassman remains a huge wart. I think a team can risk the downside of a #14 pick bombing at the expense of legitimate upside, and Dunn has that. He is a big, strong, athletic guard who is a skilled and prolific passer and an awesome man defender. If he can improve his shooting and decision-making, a big “if” (just ask Michael Carter-Williams fans), it’s not entirely out of the question that he becomes a better pro than Mudiay.