Welcome to the seventh annual NBAge Draft Rankings 2017 where we rate the best prospects and compare them to the NBA general managers’ picks as the years go by, using win shares as the defining criteria to who drafted better.
Through the previous six NBA Drafts, we have outperformed NBA GMs by 226.2 win shares, scoring our best with lottery picks (57-percent edge and a +438.2 win-shares advantage) and overall first-round selections (53-percent edge and a +330.3 win-shares advantage).
Again, this top 50 list is not a mock draft where we predict the draft order.
We are rating the best prospects in our humble opinion. This is our recommendation on the prospects that NBA GMs should be drafting.
Listed below, you will note that players are also ranked according to birth year and given a results-based Projected Plus-Minus score on how they should fare by age 23.
1. Zach Collins
20 years old (11/19/97)
1st in Class of 1997 (+3.23 PPM)
Collins is the best all-around player in the draft, with an elite defensive skill set that makes him both a quality rim protector (4.1 blocks per 40 minutes) as well as a nimble pick-and-roll defender, boasting an individual 79.4 defensive rating (team points allowed per 100 possessions while on-court) at Gonzaga as a freshman. His per-40 points and rebound averages (23.2 and 13.6) forecast offensive production, but it is Collins’ efficiency that has smart GMs swooning over his potential (.703 true shooting percentage, which includes 10-of-21 makes on his occasional three-point shot attempts). It is tough to find fault with a defensive anchor that makes 74 percent of his free throws, 67 percent of his two-point attempts and 48 percent of his college three-pointers.
Weakness: Over-aggressiveness leads to foul trouble (6.2 fouls per 40 minutes).
2. Sindarius Thornwell
22 years old (11/15/94)
9th in Class of 1994 (+1.29 PPM)
Thornwell is the most NBA-ready player in the 2017 NBA Draft, having an old-school game that translates well to an NBA starter role. The 2 guard became a prolific scorer in his senior season, leading South Carolina to the Final Four, while averaging 25.2 points per 40 minutes. Thornwell was efficient from all over the court (.591 true shooting percentage), making 40 percent of his 8.0 three-point attempts per game. He was especially comfortable scoring and creating in the paint, with a mid-range touch complemented by a basketball IQ that served him well as a QB in the key. His 6-10 wingspan also allowed him to rebound (8.4 boards per 40) and score amongst the bigs, while his defensive wiles enabled him to guard multiple positions.
Weakness: 3.3 to 2.9 assist/turnover ratio per 40.
3. Tony Bradley
19 years old (1/8/98)
6th in Class of 1998 (+0.57 PPM)
Though Bradley only played 15 minutes per game as a freshman on North Carolina’s NCAA championship team, the Tar Heel teen excelled in his role. Looking at Bradley’s per-40 minute stats, it is obvious he could score (19.5 points), rebound (14.0 boards) and dominate the paint game (57 percent on two-pointers) while coming off the bench. This spring, the power forward has showed NBA scouts he also can hit midrange jumpers consistently, something he was not asked to do in his short time in college. Bradley’s 7-5 wingspan also helped him become a reliable defender where he netted 1.6 blocks per 40 minutes. After a few years of seasoning, he should prove to be a reliable NBA starter on both sides of the ball for years to come.
Weakness: Bradley only made 61 percent of his free throws.
4. Lonzo Ball
19 years old (10/27/97)
7th in Class of 1997 (+0.44 PPM)
Ball uses size and deceptive athleticism like a fastball pitcher uses changeups, keeping his opponent off-balance at all times. Ball, like so many standout point guards nowadays, has triple-double potential in his well-balanced game of scoring-rebounding-playmaking, averaging per-40 minute stats of 16.6 points, 6.8 rebounds and 8.7 assists. His angular cross-body shot release may have trouble translating to the NBA, but it worked at UCLA, with Ball knocking down 41 percent of his college 3s and 73 percent of his 2s. Ball’s transition defense is scary—with his defensive length and open-court playmaking—while his halfcourt D is potential stopper material and already good enough to start at the NBA level.
Weakness: Does not get to the free-throw line often, averaging only 3.1 free throw attempts per 40 minutes and making only 67 percent at the line.
5. John Collins
19 years old (9/23/97)
9th in Class of 1997 (+0.14 PPM)
If NBA scouts gave out an NCAA Most Improved award, Collins would be the 2016-17 award-winner for the leap he made from frosh to soph year. Collins can do everything expected from an old-school power forward: in his per-40 minute stats, he averages 28.8 points, 14.8 rebounds and 2.4 blocks; makes 62 percent of his two-point attempts; gets to the line 10 times per 40 and makes 75 percent of his free throws. Collins also has the touch and work ethic to establish stretch-4 range at the NBA level some day. He already has the pick-and-roll game down offensively; still working on it defensively—actually working on many areas defensively.
Weakness: He can be a black hole once getting the ball down low, averaging only 0.8 assists per 40.
6. Isaiah Hartenstein
19 years old (5/5/98)
7th in Class of 1998 (-0.15 PPM)
Even though he only played 384 minutes for Zalgiris, this 19-year-old big showed he has the toughness and athleticism to compete at the next level. If his 10.8 rebounds per 40 minutes in the Euroleague do not impress you, perhaps the lefty’s 14.8 points, 1.7 blocks and 2.7 steals per 40 as a teenager will do the trick. Hartenstein moves very well for a seven-footer. In fact, most of his points come from running—in transition, getting quick post ups after breaks, alley-oops, etc. He is a great defender for his age—in the post and on the perimeter—because he is good on his feet, getting up and down the court like a forward. On offense, he is coming along, but you’ve got to like his potential because he is so young.
Weakness: His 7.6 fouls per 40 suggest he won’t be playing 30-plus minutes in the NBA any time soon.
7. Jonathan Isaac
19 years old (10/3/97)
10th in Class of 1997 (-0.31 PPM)
Next to Zach Collins, Isaac is the best defensive player coming out of the 2017 NBA Draft. That is not to make light of his offensive skills. Isaac is good, but still needs to work on consistency and NBA range to his three-point game, whether he plays the 3 or 4 (he made 35 percent of his college 3s). Isaac had a 93.6 defensive rating, 2.3 blocks per 40 minutes and 1.8 steals per 40. He can cover the pick-and-roll, protect the rim and contest a three-point shooter all in the same range of motion. His per-40 stats also included 18.3 points and 12.0 rebounds on a .614 true shooting percentage, so there is some potential there too.
Weakness: He might not have NBA floor-spacing ability as a rookie, but he has a reliable midrange jumper.
8. Malik Monk
19 years old (2/4/98)
8th in Class of 1998 (-1.08 PPM)
Monk is a scoring machine, more in the NBA mode of instant offense off the bench. His 24.8 points per 40 indicate a true scorer who is halfway efficient (.586 true shooting percentage) at knocking down his shots (82 percent at the line; 50 percent on 2s; 40 percent on 3s) while competing at the highest level. He is a competitive combo guard in the truest sense of the word, both offensively and defensively.
Weakness: Lacks size and all-around floor game that most NBA starting wings possess.
9. Josh Hart
22 years old (3/6/95)
9th in Class of 1995 (-0.41 PPM)
Hart carves out a nice niche for himself as perhaps one of the best 3-and-D wings in the draft, with Thornwell being his only peer. It’s arguably the position of best value since most GMs swing for home runs with high-potential bigs and smalls, while ignoring the in-between game. Hart showed good all-around game, averaging per-40 minute stats of 25.2 points, 8.4 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 2.5 steals and 1.1 blocks. His .591 true shooting percentage showed his range from college 3s (40 percent), 2s (47 percent) and free throws (83 percent at 9.9 attempts per 40). His footwork, wingspan (6-8 ¼) and toughness make for a lethal combination on D, enabling him to defend any position he is guarding.
Weakness: Critics note he does not have the youth and athleticism of some other lottery prospects, but then again, those lottery youngsters do not possess Hart’s heart, work ethic or winning attitude.
10. Caleb Swanigan
20 years old (4/18/97)
11th in Class of 1997 (-0.40 PPM)
Swanigan plays bigger than 6-8, thanks to his 246-pound frame, 7-3 wingspan and massive hands (10 ¼ inches wide and 9 ½ inches long). He is an offensive force, but do not let that distract you from his defensive abilities. The bulky power forward is a well-balanced player with next-level productivity, averaging per-40 college metrics of 22.7 points, 15.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists. Swanigan’s all-around game is efficient, with a high true shooting percentage (.620) showing how lethal he was from the college 3 line (45 percent), from 2s (55 percent) or from the free throw line (78 percent). He can post-seal and space-shoot with the best of them out there. He works. He improves. He plays D. You’ve got to like that.
Weakness: He is a true power forward and not a position-less hybrid. Teams trying to make Swanigan the next Draymond Green small-ball center may be disappointed.
11. Lauri Markkanen
20 years old (5/22/97)
12th in Class of 1997 (-0.45 PPM)
Anyone in the market for a stretch giant need look no further than Markkanen, who is clearly the best shooting big in the draft, boasting a per-40 scoring average (20.2 points) that was equally efficient from college-3 range (42 percent at 5.7 attempts per 40 minutes), two-point range (55 percent) and at the free throw line (84 percent). His 130.1 offensive rating is a sign of what he can do to properly space the floor. Nothing scares him off the three-point line, with a quick draw and agile line dribble, to boot. With Dirk Nowitzki soon approaching retirement, Markannen will surely be the one to replace him as best shooting seven-footer in the game.
Weakness: His per-40 stats in assists (1.1), steals (0.5) and blocks (0.7) were remarkably low, even for a big man. That lack of all-around game shows up particularly on defense.
12. Markelle Fultz
19 years old (5/29/98)
10th in Class of 1998 (-1.83 PPM)
Fultz’ youth—he just turned 19 last month—will account for some growing pains in the NBA, especially since he is still learning the game. But he does have a knack for the counting stats, putting up 26.0 points, 6.6 rebounds and 6.0 assists per 40 minutes, while all else went to Ls around him. Fultz has an assortment of moves that allow him to get to the rim, create plays for others or free his self behind the three-point line. His true shooting percentage (.558) was above average.
Weakness: As well as he played individually offensively, Fultz’s team (2-16 in Pac-12) and offense (ranked 170th out of 351 Division I teams) were subpar, which may be due to lack of cohesion and consistency within the team frame, especially on defense.
13. Jayson Tatum
19 years old (3/3/98)
11th in Class of 1998 (-1.97 PPM)
Tatum is one of the best scorers in the draft. He may not have the efficiency and consistency as some of the names above him here, but nobody has a more versatile offensive repertoire than Tatum, who can post up, spot up, pick-and-roll, pick-and-pop and transition with the best of them. He also has all-around potential, where his points per 40 minutes averages (20.2) are nicely supported by his per-40 rebounds (8.8), assists (2.6), steals (1.6) and blocks (1.4).
Weakness: For someone with such a scorer’s mentality, one would hope he’d shoot better than 34 percent on college 3s, 50 percent on 2s and got to the free-throw line more than 5.8 times per 40 minutes.
14. T.J. Leaf
20 years old (4/30/97)
13th in Class of 1997 (-0.86 PPM)
With only a handful of legit stretch 4s available, the draft has become the best place to fill your team’s void for that position, should you be lucky enough to have the proper draft pick. After all, you’re likely spending anywhere from $15-$20 million annually for the right to sign such players in the free agent market … which brings us to Leaf, who made 47 percent of his college 3s, 64 percent of his 2s and has per-40 minute numbers of 21.7 points and 11.0 rebounds. If a stretch 4 is what you are looking for, Leaf more than fills the bill.
Weakness: Has trouble with defense: pick-and-roll hedge and recovery, post-D, you name it.
15. De’Aaron Fox
19 years old (12/10/97)
14th in Class of 1997 (-1.03 PPM)
Fox is the fastest man in the 2017 NBA Draft and he might become the fastest player in the entire League next season. Whether it’s getting from the top of the circle to the rim or racing downhill in transition basketball, nobody attacks the hoop from the point guard position as well as Fox. His per-40 stats were 22.6 points, 5.3 rebounds and 6.2 assists.
Weakness: Too bad he couldn’t hit college 3s (25 percent), or else Fox might get a starting opportunity as a rook.
16. Nigel Williams-Goss
22 years old (9/16/94)
16th in Class of 1994 (-0.49 PPM)
Unlike fellow NBA-potential Washington point guards, Williams-Goss learned how to win in college, though he had to transfer to Gonzaga to do so. As a result, what he lacks in athleticism over Dejounte Murray and Markelle Fultz, he makes up for in basketball IQ, now establishing himself as a first-round prospect, just like them. Williams-Goss learned the lesson that less is more (usage rate dropped), if you trust your teammates, they in turn, trust you, and when you add this all up together, you too can reach the NCAA Finals. His per-40 numbers are 20.5 points, 7.3 rebounds and 5.7 assists, while he led the nation in win shares (8.1), posting a 122.0 offensive rating and 86.3 defensive rating. Williams-Goss made 37 percent of his college 3s, 53 percent of his 2s and 87 percent of his free throws.
Weakness: Some think Williams-Goss does not have the athleticism it takes to make it at the next level.
17. Jordan Bell
22 years old (1/7/95)
15th in Class of 1995 (-1.23 PPM)
Bell is a defensive force and his defense/rebounding skills should translate to the next level. Bell posted an 89.0 defensive rating as a junior and had three-year career per-40 averages of 3.1 blocks and 1.7 steals, not to mention some solid offensive per-40 stats as well (15.2 points and 12.2 rebounds). Though he does not have much offensive range, Bell does well with the few two-point attempts (66 percent) and free-throw attempts (70 percent) he does get. Bell is an excellent athlete and gets many of his buckets off his own deflections and/or running the break with others.
Weakness: As mentioned above, Bell is limited offensively. Not a go-to weapon, by any means.
18. Justin Patton
20 years old (6/14/97)
15th in Class of 1997 (-1.24 PPM)
Patton showed some signs of developing into a good NBA center, posting per-40 minute averages of 20.5 points, 9.8 rebounds and 2.3 blocks. He made 68 percent of his 2s, and did make 8 of 15 college 3s. He sprints the floor unlike any center, trying to beat everyone down floor. Attacks pick-and-roll rim runners with the same aggression. Have to love his hustle and work ethic. Has all the tools to become a strong NBA rim protector, but it’s going to take time for him to grow into his body and compete with men at the NBA level.
Weakness: Looks like he shied away from contact down low in college (3.9 free throw attempts per 40 minutes), perhaps because of his low free-throw percentage (52 percent). Rebounding should have been better, too.
19. Bam Adebayo
19 years old (7/18/97)
16th in Class of 1997 (-1.49 PPM)
Despite his youth, Adebayo is already a man among boys, possessing the size and strength it will take to play the power forward position at the next level. His 5.2 body fat percentage and 7-2 ¾ wingspan complement a 6-9, 243-pound frame that makes him the most unique physical specimen of this draft. Add to that Adebayo’s per-40 stats of 17.3 points, 10.6 rebound and he should have no problems finding a place on somebody’s roster.
Weakness: He lacks an outside game—only making 65 percent of his free throws—and has little playmaking ability on offense (1.1 assists per 40 minutes).
20. Josh Jackson
20 years old (2/10/87)
17th in Class of 1997 (-1.78 PPM)
Has the best NBA body and athleticism of anybody in the 2017 NBA Draft. If well honed, Jackson could become a perennial All-Defense performer at the next level. That really is his calling card. Jackson’s shot is not there yet, but you have to commend him for working on it (57 percent on free throws, 37 percent on college 3s and 55 percent on 2s). His per-40 stats at Kansas as a frosh were nice—21.2 points, 9.6 rebounds and 3.8 assists—but it was his defensive tangibles that stood out from other forwards (2.2 steals per 40, 1.4 blocks per 40, 96.0 defensive rating).
Weakness: Finding his offensive place in NBA halfcourt sets.
21. Kennedy Meeks
22 years old (2/5/95)
20th in Class of 1995 (-1.51 PPM)
NBA GMs tend to be afraid to draft seniors—sorry, basketball puritans—but Meeks is an example of where they are wrong to do so. His steady progression through an NCAA championship program is everything good about college basketball, and his per-40 stats say as much (20.6 points, 15.5 rebounds and 1.9 blocks). His defense is spotty, but he has shown good timing on blocks, making him a big-bodied rim protector and a good board man.
Weakness: In addition to working on his shot, Meeks must also show he can adeptly handle the NBA pick-and-roll at his size. He did well enough in college, and was especially adept at guarding the other big bodies.
22. Aleksandar Vezenkov
21 years old (8/6/95)
18th in 1995 (-1.53 PPM)
The savvy scorer can hurt you in a variety of ways, from pick-and-pop to setting up shop to running in transition. That said, most of his buckets come on some form of spot-up shooting. His per-40 17.3 scoring averages is only amplified by his efficiency (41 percent on international 3s, 69 percents on 2s and 84 percent at the free throw line). The FC Barcelona Lassa stretch 4 is a smart one and his lefty range goes as deep as 30 feet.
Weakness: Vezenkov is becoming a better team defender, but that does not mean you cannot exploit his defensive deficiencies on one-on-one coverage.
23. Frank Mason
23 years old (04/03/94)
17th in Class of 1994 (-1.82 PPM)
Mason stepped up his scoring during his senior season and did so in spectacular fashion, essentially playing himself into the 2017 NBA Draft. His skill set is unique enough to earn him playing time as a backup point guard on half the teams in the NBA. He is instant offense, but also has the point guard skills to keep everyone involved. Before his senior season, the knock on Mason was he could not score—now he averages 23.2 points per 40 and shot 50 percent on his 2s, made 47 percent of his college 3s and shot 7.3 free throw attempts per 40 at 79 percent.
Weakness: Defensively, Mason’s size makes him vulnerable, but that should not be as big an issue when he is matched up with other backup point guards.
24. Semi Ojeleye
22 years old (12/5/94)
19th in Class of 1994 (-2.03 PPM)
Ojeleye became The Man at SMU, commanding a 25.8 usage rate in 1195 minutes during the 2016-17 season after playing only 143 minutes in two underclassmen campaigns at Duke in 2014-15 and 2013-14. The newfound scorer produced 22.2 points per 40 minutes, making 42 percent of his college 3s, 53 percent of his 2s and 79 percent of his free throws. He also took to the boards like a beast—just as he had done at Duke in limited action—now averaging 8.0 rebounds per 40.
Weakness: Can be a bull in a china shop when trying to create, which could lead to foul trouble during his rookie season.
25. Donovan Mitchell
20 years old (9/7/96)
19th in Class of 1996 (-1.63 PPM)
Mitchell has shown glimpses of becoming an NBA guard and his significant improvement from his freshman to sophomore season speaks well of his work ethic and continued upside. At 6-1, he is unfortunately more of a combo guard off the bench than a starting point guard, but thankfully he has the defensive skills—plus a 6-10 wingspan, along with 5.9 percent body fat— that make him a good fit for teams that have tall point guards (2.6 steals per 40 minutes and 93.0 defensive rating). His per-40 stats include 19.3 points, 6.0 rebounds and 3.4 assists.
Weakness: He is not much of a shooter, maintaining only a .534 true shooting percentage to go with 35-percent range on his college 3s.
26. Anzejs Pasecniks
21 years (12/20/95)
19th in Class of 1995 (-2.08 PPM)
Not only has Paseckniks seen his body fill out to a sturdy size for a center, his overall game is beginning to blossom, evidenced not only by the increase in playing time in ACB and Eurocup ball (8.2 minutes per game in 37 contests in 2015-16 to 15.8 mpg in 50 games in 2016-17), but also the Player Efficiency Rating increase (from 11.74 to 18.38). His per-40 stats at Gran Canaria were 18.3 points and 7.6 rebounds, as he made 66 percent of his two-point attempts.
Weakness: Unlike most centers who have trouble making free throws, Pasecniks actually has good form and looks like he would make them in spite of his struggles at the line (56 percent last season).
27. Luke Kennard
20 years old (6/24/96)
20th in Class of 1996 (-1.96 PPM)
Kennard has a knack for scoring efficiently which should translate at the next level with his size, coaching and athleticism. Teams looking for offense off the bench will like the lefty’s per-40 scoring rate (22.0 points) and efficiency (.630 true shooting percentage—44 percent on college 3s; 53 percent on 2s; 86 percent at the line). Has good midrange game.
Weakness: Defense. At best, he’ll be the player NBA teams try to hide on D. At worst, he may be unplayable.
28. O.G. Anunoby
19 years old (7/17/97)
20th in Class of 1997 (-2.16 PPM)
He is athletic. He is strong. He can finish. And like his Star Wars-like name suggests, he can fly. Picture LeBron James attacking the rim and that is Anunoby. All the other stuff LeBron does—pass, score, create, etc.—well, that is not Anunoby. But O.G. does finish at the rim ala LeBron and that is a great quality to have. Plus, he defends like a top-notch forward. As a result, Anunoby posted per-40 stats at Indiana like 17.6 points, 8.7 rebounds, 2.1 steals, 2.1 blocks.
Weakness: His true shooting percentage (.611) is deceptive because he is such a good finisher (makes 70 percent of his 2s). But his free-throw struggles (56 percent) and three-point slumps (dropped to 31 percent) clearly show what he needs work on.
29. Isaac Humphries
19 years old (1/5/98)
12th in Class of 1998 (-2.35 PPM)
Humphries only played 313 minutes for Kentucky as a sophomore, but the giant teenager stood out as a force on the boards nonetheless, averaging 13.5 rebounds per 40 minutes, nearly matching his 13.3 points per-40 scoring average. His 2.3 blocks per 40 and 93.9 defensive rating are all you need to know about what type of big you’ve got here. He’s a shutdown post defender whose offensive game is years away from NBA play. He is an ideal fit for the NBA’s new G-League where teams can draft-and-stash prospects. His rebounding prowess is so pronounced at such a young age, he is worth a second-round pick’s investment.
Weakness: His lack of offensive game at the college level (.526 true shooting percentage) is not a good sign.
30. Harry Giles
19 years old (4/22/98)
13th in Class of 1998 (-2.42 PPM)
Giles has a good motor, runs the floor well and is a glass-eater on the boards. In fact, he loves rebounding just as much as he does scoring points, if the per-40 stats are any indication (13.6 points and 13.2 rebounds). His 2.3 blocks per 40 also make him a valuable big.
Weakness: Giles has no outside shot—he has zero college 3s—and possibly no outside shot at all—he was only 12-for-24 at the free-throw line in 300 minutes at Duke.
The Best of the Rest
31. Matthias Lessort
6-9, 250, Power Forward
Martinique via France
- Derrick Walton Jr.
5-11, 189, Point Guard
- Monte Morris
6-1, 175, Point Guard
USA (Iowa State)
- Derrick White
6-3, 190, Point Guard
- Frank Jackson
6-2, 202, Point Guard
- Frank Ntilikina
6-5, 190, Point Guard
France (SIG Strasbourg)
- Johnathon Motley
6-8, 238, Power Forward
- Dillon Brooks
6-5, 220, Shooting Guard
- Sterling Brown
6-5, 225, Shooting Guard
- Dennis Smith
6-2, 195, Point Guard
USA (North Carolina State)
- Ike Anigbogu
6-9, 252, Center
- Jarrett Allen
6-9, 234, Center
- Chris Boucher
6-8, 182, Power Forward
- Thomas Bryant
6-10, 248, Center
- Justin Jackson
6-7, 201, Small Forward
USA (North Carolina)
- Eric Mika
6-9, 233, Power Forward
- Isaiah Hicks
6-7, 233, Power Forward
USA (North Carolina)
- Ivan Rabb
6-9, 220, Power Forward
- Alec Peters
6-7, 232, Power Forward
- Damyean Dotson
6-5, 205, Shooting Guard