There have been rumors of my demise (or at least rumors that I have been taken away to some draft bunker with Pete D’Alessandro) but those rumors are untrue. I am here again to post my annual draft rankings. I want to thank you all for being so kind in looking forward to my post. Your comments give me that extra boost to get these done even though my life is busy with other time-consuming projects. I do enjoy posting the scores and finding out which player(s) may be coming to our beloved Kings in the new season.
This year’s class is better than last year but it seems there may not be any franchise players coming out. Wiggins and Embiid are not shockers in being the top two ranked players, but some others may surprise you (as they did me) with their rankings. I have some comments (mostly personal opinions and observations from watching the players throughout the season) regarding some of the players that caught my attention more than most. Without further ado, let’s get to the rankings.
|Rank||Player-Class (Eu = European)||College/Country||Position||Score||Most Likely NBA Career|
|3||Jabari Parker-F||Duke||F||93||Solid Starter/All-Star|
|4||Marcus Smart-So||Oklahoma State||G||93||Solid Starter/All-Star|
|5||Julius Randle-F||Kentucky||PF||93||Solid Starter/All-Star|
|6||Dante Exum-Eu||Australia||G||92||Solid Starter|
|7||Jusuf Nurkic-Eu||Croatia||C||90.5||Solid Starter|
|8||Tyler Ennis-F||Syracuse||PG||90.5||Solid Starter|
|9||Aaron Gordon-F||Arizona||F||89||6th Man/Solid Starter|
|10||Dario Saric-Eu||Croatia||F||89||6th Man/Solid Starter|
|11||Clint Capela-Eu||France||FC||89||6th Man/Solid Starter|
|12||T.J. Warren-So||N.C. State||F||88.5||6th Man/Solid Starter|
|13||Shabazz Napier-Se||Connecticut||PG||88.5||6th Man/Solid Starter|
|14||Doug McDermott-Se||Creighton||F||88||6th Man/Solid Starter|
|15||Elfrid Payton-J||LA-Lafayette||G||88||6th Man/Solid Starter|
|16||Russ Smith-Se||Louisville||PG||88||6th Man/Solid Starter|
|17||Noah Vonleh-F||Indiana||FC||87.5||6th Man/Solid Starter|
|18||Kyle Anderson-So||UCLA||SF||87.5||6th Man/Solid Starter|
|19||Gary Harris-So||Michigan State||G||87||6th Man/Solid Starter|
|20||Bogdan Bogdanovic-Eu||Serbia||SG||87||6th Man/Solid Starter|
|21||P.J. Hairston-(J)||DL - N. Carolina||SG||86.5||6th Man/Solid Starter|
|22||Jordan Adams-So||UCLA||G||86||Fringe Starter/6th Man|
|23||Jahii Carson-So||Arizona State||PG||85.5||Fringe Starter/6th Man|
|24||Nik Stauskas-So||Michigan||SG||84.5||Fringe Starter/6th Man|
|25||Semaj Christon-So||Xavier||PG||84.5||Fringe Starter/6th Man|
|26||Zach LaVine-F||UCLA||G||84||Fringe Starter/6th Man|
|27||Rodney Hood-So||Duke||SF||84||Fringe Starter/6th Man|
|28||Spencer Dinwiddie-J||Colorado||G||83.5||Fringe Starter/6th Man|
|29||Vasilije Micic-Eu||Serbia||PG||83.5||Fringe Starter/6th Man|
|30||James Young-F||Kentucky||GF||83||Fringe Starter/6th Man|
|31||Mitch McGary-So||Michigan||FC||82.5||Fringe Starter/6th Man|
|32||Devyn Marble-Se||Iowa||G||82.5||Fringe Starter/6th Man|
|33||DeAndre Kane-Se||Iowa State||G||82.5||Fringe Starter/6th Man|
|34||Jerami Grant-So||Syracuse||F||82||Fringe Starter/6th Man|
|35||Adreian Payne-Se||Michigan State||PF||82||Fringe Starter/6th Man|
|36||Jordan Clarkson-J||Missouri||G||82||Career Reserve/6th Man|
|37||Jarnell Stokes-J||Tennessee||PF||81.5||Career Reserve/6th Man|
|38||Nikola Jokic-Eu||Serbia||C||81.5||Career Reserve/6th Man|
|39||Damien Inglis-Eu||France||F||81||Career Reserve/6th Man|
|40||K.J. McDaniels-J||Clemson||SF||80.5||Career Reserve/6th Man|
|41||Lamar Patterson-Se||Pittsburgh||GF||80||Career Reserve/6th Man|
|42||Kristaps Porzingis-Eu||Spain||FC||79.5||Career Reserve/6th Man|
|43||Melvin Ejim-Se||Iowa State||SF||78.5||Career Reserve/6th Man|
|44||Billy Baron-Se||Canisius||PG||78.5||Career Reserve/6th Man|
|45||Artem Klimenko-(Eu)||Russia||C||78||Career Reserve/6th Man|
|46||LaQuinton Ross-J||Ohio State||SF||77.5||Career Reserve/6th Man|
|47||Isaiah Austin-So||Baylor||C||77||Career Reserve|
|48||Dwight Powell-Se||Stanford||PF||77||Career Reserve|
|49||Johnny O'Bryant-J||LSU||PF||76.5||Career Reserve|
|50||Walter Tavares-Eu||Spain||C||76.5||Career Reserve|
|51||C.J. Wilcox-Se||Washington||G||76||Career Reserve|
|52||Nick Johnson-J||Arizona||G||76||Career Reserve|
|53||DeAndre Daniels-J||Connecticut||SF||75||Career Reserve|
|54||Deonte Burton-Se||Nevada||PG||75||Career Reserve|
|55||Xavier Thames-J||San Diego State||PG||75||Career Reserve|
|56||Khem Birch-J||UNLV||PF||73.5||Career Reserve|
|57||Jabari Brown-J||Missouri||SG||73||Career Reserve|
|58||James McAdoo-J||North Carolina||PF||70.5||Career Reserve/12th Man|
|59||Cleanthony Early-Se||Wichita State||SF||70||Career Reserve/12th Man|
|60||Glenn Robinson-So||Michigan||GF||69.5||Career Reserve/12th Man|
|61||Patrick Miller-Se||Tennessee State||PG||68.5||Career Reserve/12th Man|
|62||Rasmus Larsen-Eu||Spain||PF||67||Career Reserve/12th Man|
|63||Markel Brown-Se||Oklahoma State||G||66||Fringe Player/12th Man|
|64||Cory Jefferson-Se||Baylor||PF||65.5||Fringe Player/12th Man|
|65||Patric Young-Se||Florida||PF||64||Fringe Player/12th Man|
|66||Thanasis Antetokounmpo-Eu||DL - Delaware||GF||64||Fringe Player/12th Man|
|67||Josh Huestis-Se||Stanford||SF||63||Fringe Player/12th Man|
|68||De'Mon Brooks-Se||Davidson||PF||62||Fringe Player/12th Man|
|69||C.J. Fair-Se||Syracuse||F||61||12th Man/One Contract Only|
|70||Omar Oraby-Se||USC||C||57||12th Man/One Contract Only|
|71||Andre Dawkins-Se||Duke||SG||49.5||Should Go Undrafted|
Here are my comments on some specific players that impressed me in a good (or even bad) way. Please forgive any misspellings or grammar errors (click on their names to see highlights):
Joel Embiid – Is anybody worried that he only took six shots per game and has a possibly injury-prone body ala Greg Odin? He was a freshman, but six shots per game isn’t what I would call a high rate for a top prospect. DeMarcus Cousins, who played relatively the same amount of minutes per game (23.5) as a freshman, got off 3.7 shots more per game. Now, Joel is a much better defensive player (4.5 blocks/40 min) and not quite the post player that Cousins is, though he has some game down low. I do see a player who can grab rebounds very well (14.7/40) and does score at a decent rate (20.4/40), but that is bolstered by getting 8.8/40 free throw attempts per game. What is very nice is his athleticism (hampered by recent injuries?) and he does seem to have good basketball IQ. He is not super fluid yet with his moves but he could become a very good post player. My system has him as the top prospect by hundredths of a point, but I personally am concerned about how great of a scorer he can become and his injury situation, not to mention his 4.5 turnovers/40, and 6 fouls/40. However, my concern is not large at this point.
Andrew Wiggins – I am super impressed by Wiggins. His athleticism is off the charts with that much sought after "NBA body". He is a scrapper on D. On offense, I love the way he can handle the ball on the break or in isolation, drive the ball from anywhere on the court and get to the paint and score or get fouled, and also has a very good quick-release jump shot (including step-backs) that he can make from 24 feet and in. Good rebounder (7.2/40) for a small forward and he blocks almost 1.5/40 shots. He has the main thing I look for in an athletic college guard/small forward: the ability to play one-on-one and beat defenders by taking them inside off the dribble and/or by shooting over them with a decent percentage. Oh, he can defend too. He is the real deal.
Marcus Smart - Great at driving to the basket. Plays in the paint a lot. Strong body. Good defender. His ranking is inflated a bit thanks to his fantastic steal rate (3.5/40). Good passer. Can play above the rim due to above average athleticism. He is hard-nosed, strong, and tough on the court. Not a great shooter from beyond 20 feet (29% from three), but does have good mechanics and was improving near the end of the season. If he can transition to the point guard position and improve his outside shot, Marcus will be a VERY good NBA starter if not an all-star. My description of him sounds similar to the one I made for Tyreke Evans, minus the hard-nosed part. I like him a lot but if the Kings keep IT then he is not really the player the Kings would need to go after in this draft unless he is available at 8 and the Kings draft best player available – which he would most likely be.
Julius Randle – Randle is solid. Both in terms of his game and his body. He is a bit undersized, measuring in at 6’7 ½" without shoes, but he makes up for it with very good instincts in the paint and with a strong upper body which he uses to carve out space for his impressive rebound total (13.5/40). He has a fairly nice post game with a surprisingly soft touch around the rim. He looks like a fullback out there but has quick feet and dexterity. I must admit that I am hoping Julius falls to number 8. If the Kings pick him, that would be a GREAT pick-up. Randle could be the Kings starting power forward for the next 10 years and may end up being the surprise of the draft. If only the Kings were a couple picks higher to be in the running for him or Smart.
Doug McDermott - Exceptional shooter (45% from 3) who can get his shot off from anywhere at almost any time. Great motor. Above average basketball IQ. Plays below the rim most of the time due to poor leaping ability (even he is not slow per se) but can sky fairly well with a running start. Fairly poor defender (basically no steals or blocks) and rebounder (8.3/40) though his hustle, high-caliber conditioning, hard-nosed mindset, and non-stop effort goes a longer way than it should on D. His post moves work sufficiently in college but could have lots of trouble down low in the NBA. May end up being relegated to a specialist shooter beyond the arc on offense with some ability to gain strength as a defender. However, I gotta love that he has a Dirk Nowitzki one-leg step back jumper in the post.
Noah Vonleh - Good rebounder at 13.6/40. None of his other stats, including blocks (2.1/40), stands out as extraordinary. Very good set shot all the way out to 3-pt range. Great defender. Good length (7'4" wingspan). Post moves are fairly rudimentary and does not explode to the basket. Still a bit awkward at this time. Decent handle for a big man. Needs seasoning and is a bit of a risk drafting in the top 5 in my opinion.
P.J. Hairston - Big time scorer. My system statistically matches him as a clone (or long lost younger brother) of Marcus Thornton except PJ is more athletic. Loves to shoot threes and hits a good percentage. Can get his shot due to quick release. Strong body. P.J. could be a very nice (and sometimes exciting) 6th man in the NBA.
Jordan Adams - Moves very well without the ball. High basketball IQ on the offensive end. Good scorer overall. Gets in passing lanes (impressive 3.5 steals per 40). Strong body. Takes contact well. Below the rim player. Not explosive. Gets to the foul line for many of his points but may not get that in the NBA. I am not personally as high on him as some mock drafts are but my rankings have him ranked 22 so maybe that’s about right.
Billy Baron - Coach's son. Very impressive range on his shot. Can get his shot off very quickly and accurately from out to 30+ feet (outstanding 42% 3-pt on 7.5 apg). Good at driving the ball and has a nice one-hand floater. Decent speed for a relatively unathletic guy surprises defenders. Weak defender is his main liability and in the NBA we all know that defense is very important. Moves laterally poorly and is noot exceptionally strong. Decent to good passer with a high basketball IQ. I think he could be something special if given some time. I like his passion. I think he is very underrated and deserves to be drafted. He reminds me a lot of John Stockton with his toughness. You don’t score 25 points per 40 minutes for nothing. Not just a Jimmer clone either. Billy has a special toughness about him. I would LOVE it if the Kings could get him in summer camp.
Jahii Carson - Isaiah Thomas clone but add 2-3 inches of height, the ability to highlight dunk, and take away the chip on the shoulder. He shoots almost 40 percent from three, has NBA level ballhandling, leaping ability, and speed. Jahii could be a surprise in the second round. Watch OUT if he is picked number 60! He has first-round talent on offense, but being short at 5’11", a poor inside the arc shooter (44%) and not a real good defender will hamper his value in the NBA.
James Young - Good spot-up deep shooter with quick release. Drives mostly to his strong left-hand. Can jump over people to finish due to his long 6'11" wingspan. Decent athleticism but not overly explosive. Statwise, he is similar to a shooting guard version of Lionel Simmons (for whatever that is worth) though he is a much better 3-pt shooter. This is one of those players that usually stands out as a quality reserve or role player on a playoff team.
Melvin Ejim - High motor. Scrappy with good instincts. Smart player. Good 3-pt shooter for SF. Smooth athlete with quick leaping ability. Average defender. Played on a team that was built on passing/ball movement. Unselfish. Could be worth a look in summer camp if he is not drafted!
Cory Jefferson - Long and wiry. Good athlete that can run the floor and finish above the rim. Good rebounder (11.1/40) on both ends of the court. 3.8 offense rebounds per 40. No real offensive skills but does find a way to score 18.6 points/40. Needs to get stronger. Summer camp?