This is the second of a five part series in which I analyze the 2017 NBA Draft by position. As a source I used DraftExpress's mock draft and for statistics I used both DraftExpress and Sports-Reference. All statistics used are for the prior college basketball season. Because of the lack of advanced statistic information and difference in playstyle for international leagues, I have only included NCAA players in this analysis. For information such as player position, school, height, etc. please click on the player's name and it will take you to their DraftExpress page with all that information.
The Power Forward position in the NBA has evolved to be much different than from what it used to be. Players like Chris Webber and Kevin Garnett would be considered centers nowadays, or they’d be asked to stretch out the floor with a three point shot. Alternately, someone who might not be as offensively gifted but hits the boards hard and plays defense is also very valuable at that position.
The Kings don’t really have a true Power Forward on their roster. Skal Labissiere is probably the closest thing to it. Anthony Tolliver was Sacramento’s only stretch four, and even Rudy Gay played the position in small doses (and there’s a great example of someone who might be a modern NBA Power Forward but who used to be considered a typical wing). With three picks in the draft, and especially a lot of potential PF talent in the second round, the Kings have an opportunity to add some depth to this position going forward.
|Lauri Markkanen||Fr.||30.8||15.6||.492||.423 (69/163)||.835||7.2||0.9||0.4||0.5||1.1||2.0|
|John Collins||So.||26.6||19.2||.622||0 (0/1)||.745||9.8||0.5||0.6||1.6||1.8||3.0|
|Ivan Rabb||So.||32.6||14.0||.484||.400 (8/20)||.663||10.5||1.5||0.7||1.0||2.2||3.1|
|T.J. Leaf||Fr.||29.9||16.3||.617||.466 (27/58)||.679||8.2||2.4||0.6||1.1||1.5||2.5|
|D.J. Wilson||So.||30.4||11.0||.538||.373 (41/110)||.833||5.3||1.3||0.5||1.5||1.1||1.9|
|Jordan Bell||Jr.||28.8||10.9||.636||.214 (3/14)||.701||8.8||1.8||1.3||2.2||1.9||1.8|
|Caleb Swanigan||So.||32.5||18.5||.527||.447 (38/85)||.781||12.5||3.0||0.4||0.8||3.4||2.8|
|Alec Peters||Sr.||35.1||23.0||.466||.363 (58/160)||.887||10.1||2.2||0.8||0.4||2.4||2.2|
|Jonathan Motley||Jr.||30.5||17.3||.522||.281 (9/32)||.699||9.9||2.3||0.4||1.1||2.9||3.1|
|Kyle Kuzma||Jr.||30.8||16.4||.504||.321 (27/84)||.669||9.3||2.4||0.6||0.5||2.1||1.6|
|Cameron Oliver||So.||31.9||16.0||.465||.384 (66/172)||.692||8.7||1.8||0.8||2.6||2.4||2.9|
|Jake Wiley||Sr.||34.3||20.4||.642||.714 (5/7)||.828||9.1||2.4||0.8||2.8||3.8||3.0|
|Nigel Hayes||Sr.||32.2||14.0||.457||.314 (22/70)||.587||6.6||2.7||0.8||0.4||1.7||1.8|
|Jaylen Johnson||Jr.||20.5||8.0||.589||.571 (4/7)||.625||5.8||0.5||0.5||0.5||1.3||2.4|
|Michael Young||Sr.||33.2||19.6||.454||.344 (42/122)||.778||6.8||2.7||0.6||0.8||2.1||1.8|
|Chris Boucher||Sr.||23.6||11.8||.524||.350 (36/103)||.565||6.1||0.4||0.4||2.5||1.0||2.7|
Lauri Markkanen has a great shot of being the first big man off the board, and it’s almost exclusively because of his offensive capabilities. By now you’ve heard the stat that no other 7 footer has made more threes and at a higher percentage than Lauri did in his freshman year, but he’s more than just a spot-up shooter. He is one of the more offensively polished players in the draft, and he already has some professional experience in Europe before he went to Arizona last year. Arizona’s offense was on another level with Markkanen playing; His 134.1 Offensive Rating was almost 12 points higher than UCLA’s NCAA leading offensive rating of 121.0 and much higher than Arizona’s team Offensive Rating of 113.8.
Where Markkanen really suffers however is on the other side of the court. His steal and block rates are among the lowest of his peers, and his defensive rating of 100.4 was worse than Arizona’s team defensive rating of 98.0. He also rebounded at a sub-par rate and struggled with physicality, which he’ll see a lot more of in the NBA. Lauri also didn’t showcase much playmaking ability, which shows up in his very low assist and turnover rate. Basically whenever he got the ball, he was looking to shoot.
John Collins had the highest PER in college basketball and it’s easy to see why when he scored almost 20 points a game on over 62% from the field. Collins didn’t stretch the floor but he was an outstanding finisher and post-up player. He got to the line a ton, in part thanks to his post-up repertoire and his propensity to hit the glass on both ends of the floor. His Offensive Rebounding Rate of 16.4% is higher than any of his peers and only Ivan Rabb and Caleb Swanigan were better defensive rebounders. Like Markkanen though, Collins question marks all lie on defense. He’s a touch undersized for the position and he struggled with fouls. He did show some promise as a rim protector with a decent 6.6% block rate. Collins will also have to be a little more unselfish in the NBA, as his 4.5% assist rate was among the lowest of any big man.
Ivan Rabb probably made a mistake going back to Cal for his sophomore season, as he didn’t show enough improvement and likely saw his stock drop as a result. His shooting efficiency dropped drastically as he was given a bigger role. One area where he continued to excel in was on the glass, and that should get even better as he adds strength.
T.J. Leaf gets a lot of love as a stretch four, and he did make 46.6% of his threes, but it surprised me that he only shot 58 of them all season, or just under two a game. He’ll need to embrace that part of his game more in the NBA, especially if he hits them at such a high rate. Leaf was a decent rebounder for not being a physical player, with a very respectable 19.7% defensive rebounding rate, and he also showed some decent passing instincts. Leaf did not get to the line much however, relying more on his excellent jump shot. Leaf has all the makings of a great offensive roleplayer but will definitely struggle on the other end of the floor (which seems to be a common theme among the top PF prospects this year).
Jordan Bell might have the most defensive upside of any prospect here. His 8.4% block rate was one of the highest and he also made his already good defensive team much better on that end. He’s an excellent rebounder on both ends and while he needs some offensive polish also showed good passing instincts with a respectable 11.4% assist rate.
One player that stands out to me is Caleb Swanigan. Not only is he by far the best rebounder in the draft, he also might be the best passing big man. Swanigan also showcased the ability to step out and hit some threes, making 44.7% of his 85 attempts. Swanigan’s numbers jump off the page but the reason he isn’t ranked higher is a little simpler; Swanigan is a below average athlete and has struggled with his weight in the past. There are big question marks about his defensive motor and abilities at the NBA level, and his strength won’t be as much of an advantage on the other end either.
Sacramento’s own Cameron Oliver doesn’t have athleticism questions, and also fits that special mold of player that is both able to stretch the floor and protect the rim. While he didn’t hit them at quite the same rate (38.4% to Lauri’s 42.3%), only Markkanen made more threes as a big man last season. Oliver’s time on the perimeter is likely what accounts for his incredibly low 5.6% offensive rebounding rate, lowest among his peers.
There are some good options for the Kings here, whether they stay put at 10 and 34 or trade back for a different pick.
Coming Tomorrow: Small Forwards