It’s time for Part 3 of our NBA draft series here at Canis Hoopus! That means we are going to look at the next best five prospects according to Draft Express. If you missed Part 1 or Part 2, check those out to get the scoop on the first 10 players we have profiled. Now it’s on to the next set. Which player should pique our interest the most?
All of the height, wingspan, weight, and age data comes from Draft Express. Visit their excellent site all year long for outstanding prospect coverage.
Start your engines...
Jarrett Allen, Texas, C
AGE: 19.0 (Freshman)
Draft Express Rank: #11
Via Drew Mahowald @DrewMahowald:
Jarrett Allen is perhaps the best true center in this entire draft class. The Timberwolves aren’t exactly in desperate need of one, but they will almost certainly have the opportunity to add Allen with their first round pick if they want to.
Texas didn’t have much success in 2016-17, but that didn’t stop Allen from showcasing his talent. The 19-year-old notched per 40 minute averages of 16.7 points, 10.5 rebounds, 1.9 blocks, and 1.0 assists. He hit on 56.6 percent of his field goal attempts and 57.9 percent of his two-point tries.
If the Wolves do end up adding Allen one way or another, they will be getting a legit big man prospect. He’s lean, lengthy and a mean rim protector with big upside. His career success will be determined by how well he develops his raw skills.
Allen’s rebounding ability is arguably unmatched in this class. He has an impeccable sense of timing when high-pointing rebounds above the other trees. This trait is even more evident on the offensive glass, where he sneaks through opponents and times his leaps to snare rebounds and create second chances.
Simply put, teams will have to pay for not boxing out Allen in the NBA. He has solid vertical bounce and a 7’5.5” wingspan that give him an advantage on contested rebounds.
His leaping ability is also a plus on the defensive side of the ball. The aforementioned rim-protecting ability is predicated on his timing and bounce when challenging shots. 1.9 blocks per 40 doesn’t do justice to how many shots he truly altered when he was in the game. When he’s in the right position, Allen’s help defense against penetration usually resulted in good things for Texas.
In the below example, Allen’s eyes are locked on to his man when the penetration from Kansas guard Frank Mason begins. However, Allen is able to recover and explode off the hardwood to get a piece of Mason’s layup and end the possession.
Offensively, Allen is a bit raw but he shows promise as a pick-and-roll big man. Most importantly, he possesses good touch around the rim and his high release point makes his shorter attempts very difficult to defend.
The most encouraging sign of development throughout the past season for Allen was his mid-range shot. This part of his game seemingly didn’t exist prior to putting on the burnt orange, or at least he wasn’t confident enough to use it often. But he developed a reliable mid-range jumper last season, especially in catch-and-shoot situations.
This points back toward his potential as a pick-and-roll scorer. Sure, he can finish around the trees with his high release. But when the defense packs the paint for the roll, he can adjust and instead pop for the 15-footer.
What might be the best part of Allen’s game that meshes with today’s fast-paced NBA style of play is his tendency to run the floor. If he gains an advantage on the opposing center he’ll use those deer-like strides to beat his man down the floor.
Allen boasts a wide array of traits that NBA general managers covet. The rim-protecting ability and tendency to run the floor should certainly raise some eyebrows by middle of the lottery stage in the draft. He also thrives when the spotlight is on him, which he displayed in both games against Kansas last season.
However, as always with a raw 19-year-old prospect, there are some limitations that need to be cleaned up before he becomes a regular in the NBA.
The main issue with Allen’s game offensively is the turnovers. He averaged 3.2 turnovers to just 1.0 assists per 40 minutes at Texas, many of which occurred when he was dealing with double teams.
This isn’t to say he constantly struggled in making the right decision. It has more to do with Allen’s tendency to bring the ball down and allow pesky guards to swipe at the ball and create turnovers, which is a clear no-no from day one of playing in the post.
Allen’s array of moves on offense is limited. He’ll beat slower players off the dribble in face-up situations with his right hand straight-line drive. And on the block, Allen likes his high-release jump hook and he’ll occasionally utilize a quick spin into a reverse layup. But many of his baskets were created simply by his length, and that won’t be all it takes to win at the NBA level.
Defensively, Allen leaves much to be desired outside of his shot blocking. He doesn’t have the lateral quickness to keep up with opposing players in a switch situation. His best one-on-one technique was to allow the penetration past him and then attempt to challenge the shot with his length.
The most obvious weakness from a physical standpoint is Allen’s lack of mass. He’s a twig and will need to gain some weight before going to battle against NBA bigs on a nightly basis.
Wolves Point of View
Jarrett Allen most likely will not find his way to Minneapolis. Between Karl-Anthony Towns, Gorgui Dieng and Cole Aldrich, the center position has enough personnel and talent already.
If Thibodeau felt the need to trade into the first round again or trade back from wherever his draft slot is, Allen is a candidate for the Wolves in the 10-15 slots, but that seems rather unlikely. In that scenario, one would have to believe either Aldrich or Dieng would be on the move to create room for a player of Allen’s potential. The team that does end up with him will get a role player from Day 1 who has the chance to develop into a reliable starter with the correct refinement of his skills.
Zach Collins, Gonzaga, PF/C
AGE: 19.6 (Freshman)
Draft Express Rank: #12
Via Dane Moore @NikolaPekovic:
I have a rule with white NBA prospects: Their pro-comparison must be cross-racial. First off, this is way more fun. But more importantly, the simplicity of the white-to-white or white-to-Euro comps leaves too small of a sample to look at. And c’mon, it’s 2017.
Before the 2015 NBA Draft, in an interview with the Huffington Post, Sam Dekker out of the University of Wisconsin, concurred with the simplicity of these comparisons.
“The way I play, being a white guy, a lot of times you get compared to other white guys,” said Dekker.
Dekker went on to be drafted by the Houston Rockets. His current boss, Daryl Morey, is the General Manager in Houston and he openly challenges his scouts to make cross-racial comparisons when thinking about new prospects. In an interview with Chris Vernon on The Ringer NBA Show earlier this season, Morey detailed this process, specifically comparing Dekker to Harrison Barnes. Citing a strong trunk and above-average athletic ability.
This is all really an exercise in behavioral economics; simply being objective when assessing human behavior. Michael Lewis, who wrote Moneyball, recently wrote another book that he consulted Morey for. That book is called The Undoing Project. In the book, Morey says, “your mind needs to be in a constant state of defense against all this crap that is trying to mislead you.”
He goes on to directly apply this thesis to behavioral economics in basketball saying, “there are reasons basketball experts could be blinded to the value of Marc Gasol, or might never see the next Shaq if he happened to be Indian.”
And that brings us to Zach Collins, a white guy.
While he has some skills that fit the prototypical white or European narrative, there is much more to his game that should force us to not only look at it through the bright white lens.
And maybe we should take an additional step. Maybe the whole concept of finding a singular direct comparison is furthering the crap that is misleading us. I think finding polarizing comparisons—the players they do not compare favorably—can glean a better picture of what a prospect will actually be.
Some Zach Collins Comparisons That Don’t Work
Nikola Jokic: Denver Nuggets, 6’11”, 250 lbs
Similar to Collins, Nikola Jokic features a great craft in his post-up game. Defenders are often left confused as to what foot is Jokic’s pivot, leading to simple step-through for layups. This is something Collins also does.
But a key aspect to the way Jokic takes advantage of his opponents in the paint is through the respect he demands as a passer. When the defender need not only be concerned with a shooting post-move but also a pass out of the post, the defense is inherently more vulnerable.
Collins is a poor passer. DraftExpress.com has him ranked in the bottom of their Top-100 as a passer. Collins has some Shabazz Muhammad to his game; he is a black hole by nature but also efficient there in the aggregate. Post touches for Collins are almost always going to lead to a shot and because of that he is not Jokic.
Meyers Leonard: Portland Trailblazers, 7’1”, 245 lbs
I particularly fear this comparison. The biggest reason being that over the past two seasons Meyers Leonard has averaged 6.3 three-point attempts per 36 minutes. Collins took 21 total threes in his one season at Gonzaga. On the perimeter, Collins’ first instinct is to keep the ball moving where the similarly milky Leonard has had a silky three-point stroke (37.1 percent from deep over his career).
Collins’ shooting mechanics are solid and for that reason developing a three-point shot should not be ruled out. It is a strong bet that Collins will be stretched out to the perimeter by whoever drafts him, but at this point in time, this is not part of his game. And therefore he is not Leonard.
To be fair, Leonard shot 13 total threes in his first two seasons in the NBA.
Cole Aldrich: Minnesota Timberwolves, 6’11”, 250 lbs
Cole Aldrich and Collins had similar narratives to their freshman year of college. In his freshman year, Aldrich’s playing time was limited due to his presence on the depth chart behind NBA-caliber upperclassmen (Darrell Arthur, Sasha Kaun, and Darnell Jackson) but had a great showing in the Final Four and National Championship that season.
Collins was similarly limited by the presence of Prezmek Karnowski, the Bulldogs senior center. Karnowski’s presence and Gonzaga’s relative success limited Collins’ minutes much like Aldrich in his freshman season.
Aldrich went on to play three years in college receiving a larger role in his latter years. Many assumed Collins would choose a similar path, but he declared and DraftExpress.com has him going 11th in their most recent mock draft. Aldrich also went 11th overall in the 2010 draft.
While their skin color and college narrative may be similar, their play style is most definitely not. Aldrich has slid his way into being a rim-defending defensive specialist.
Aldrich brings almost nothing to the offensive end. Collins, on the other hand, projects more favorably there. Unlike Aldrich—who features a less effective Robin Lopez style hook shot—Collins’ post moves are normal and effective. The hook is also not his only move, and that gives him far more offensive potential than Aldrich.
Collins is patient with his back to the basket. In my mind, there is something Marc Gasol-ian about that move. Same skin color, I know. Breaking my own rule. But it is important to use Gasol and others as a reminder that this type of play is not completely dead. The back to the basket post-up is still very much alive in Memphis with Gasol, Brooklyn with Brook Lopez, and Minnesota with Karl-Anthony Towns.
I think the reason this is still effective for those three players is because it is not their only offensive threat. Gasol is an apt passer, Lopez has added a three, and Towns can run the floor. Again, passing and shooting do not appear to be in Collins’ repertoire but an ability to get out in transition should be a skill that translates from Gonzaga to the NBA.
With Zach Collins, fighting stereotypes is going to be key in figuring out who exactly he is or will be. Lumping him in with Lauri Markannen simply because both players are seven-foot white guys who are projected in the lottery is pretty ignorant. The two may go back-to-back in the draft, but today more than ever there is a plethora of different types of big men. They all should be analyzed individually, maybe starting with their differences.
Justin Jackson, North Carolina, SF
AGE: 22.1 (Junior)
Draft Express Rank: #13
Via Kyle Theige @kyletheige:
No player in college basketball used this year’s March Madness tournament to elevate his draft stock more than Justin Jackson. While most of the top college prospects fizzled out in the early rounds (Ball, Tatum, Markkanen, etc.) or failed to qualify for the tournament altogether (Fultz, Smith, etc.), Jackson used the Tarheel’s run on route to a national championship to display his refined shooting mechanics, athleticism, and leadership.
Well, clearly his decision making is already elite (after all, he DID choose my beloved North Carolina Tarheels over other schools like Virginia, Washington, and Ohio State). All kidding aside, Jackson displayed high basketball IQ during his junior season at UNC, posting a single-digit TOV% (9.5) despite a usage rate of nearly 26.0. For comparison, Jayson Tatum (TOV% = 15.0, USG% 26.2) and Josh Jackson (TOV% = 15.9, USG% 27.2) turned the ball over at a much higher rate despite a similar usage rate.
Offensively, Jackson averaged 18.3 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 2.8 assists per game during his junior year. In terms of pure shooting mechanics, Jackson struggled with his stroke early on at North Carolina, but seemed to have made major adjustments between his sophomore and junior year, resulting in a sweet stroke that includes good balance and a quick release. The crew at Draft Express did a great job of breaking down just how far Jackson’s shot has come, specifically in catch-and-shoot situations (situations he would often find himself in if drafted by the Wolves):
For one, Jackson is already 22-years old and will turn 23 before next season’s NBA playoffs roll around. For comparison, while both Andrew Wiggins (22) and Zach LaVine (22) were born around the exact same time as Jackson, those two have played three full seasons in the league already. Jackson was actually in the same recruiting class (2014) as Karl-Anthony Towns, Tyus Jones, and Devon Booker.
Another key weakness is clearly Jackson’s size, specifically his weight (or lack thereof). At 6’8”, Jackson measures up vertically with other lottery-projected wing players in the draft, but is 15-20 pounds lighter than his counterparts. If he were 18, I wouldn't be as concerned. But for a 22-year-old to weigh five pounds more than he did coming out of college could be a red flag. Andrew Wiggins has almost 10 pounds on Jackson and even he looked overwhelmed physically all season when matched up with a variety of NBA wing players.
Despite his athleticism and pterodactyl-like wingspan, advanced metrics show Jackson’s defensive stats last season left much to be desired, including a STL% of 1.3 and BLK% of 0.8. Jayson Tatum, a another lottery prospect who measures eerily similar physically to Jackson, posted STL% of 2.3 and BLK% of 3.2. Josh Jackson, who is slightly shorter with a smaller wingspan, notched a 3.1 STL% and 3.5 BLK%.
While I’m not a huge proponent of putting a ton of stock into college statistics, mainly because college coaches tend to be drill sergeants who micromanage a players long-term growth for their own short-term needs, these STL% and BLK% numbers really stand out as potential issues. In today’s modern NBA, plenty of guys can score, but it’s the guys who can score and defend that often times elevate a team’s overall performance and success.
Wolves Point of View
For guys in this range (outside the projected top ten), the overall fit for the Wolves depends on where they are drafted. If the Wolves stay at #6 and take Jackson, they are leaving more valuable guys on the board (possibly like Isaac, Monk, etc.). If the Wolves fall to let’s say, #7, and find Fultz, Ball, Josh Jackson, Tatum, Monk, and Isaac all are off the board (a disaster in my opininon), then maybe they decide to trade back with a team that has their eyes set on one of the coveted young PG’s like Fox or Smith, presuming of course that Thibs & Co. are satisfied with the batch of PG’s currently on their roster.
If the Wolves do trade down, collect potential assets, and draft Jackson, can Thibs connect with him and get him to play enough defense to stick in the rotation? While the Wolves desperately need more wing production, especially off the bench, drafting a player with a shaky defensive skill set seems like a risk I’m personally not willing to take, especially after watching the Wolves “defend” over the last 20 or so games of the season.
With all that said, none of this really matters because the Wolves are going to win the NBA Lottery on Tuesday, May 16th. Buckle up!
OG Anunoby, Indiana, SF/PF
AGE: 19.8 (Sophomore)
WINGSPAN: ? (unlisted at DX but various articles have said 7’6”)
Draft Express Rank: #14
Via Eric in Madison @canishoopus:
Despite suffering a torn ACL in January, Ogugua “OG” Anunoby has still decided to enter the draft this summer following his truncated Sophomore season. This makes sense, as he is currently projected as a late lottery selection despite the injury, and he has a lot of things the NBA is looking for. Anunoby was not among the top recruits in his class, but did manage to land a scholarship at Indiana after his high school career in Jefferson City, MO.
Anunoby has a tremendous physical profile, with the size, length, and quickness to play either forward position and guard at least four and perhaps all five spots on the court. This is his biggest appeal—his defensive talent and versatility. Listed at 6’8,” we have no official wingspan measurement at this point but it’s been suggested that it’s 7’6,” which is, in a word, nuts.
He uses those physical gifts to get copious steals and blocks: over two of each per 40 minutes. In each of his seasons, he has been one of the half dozen or so college players with significant minutes, a steal rate above three percent and a block rate above five percent. That cut-off does flatter him a bit, but there is no doubt he has been among the elite in college basketball in these areas.
He still has a way to go to be a proficient pro defender in terms of consistent focus and understanding help schemes and pick and roll coverages, but the tools and the skills are there, and that’s what makes him appealing to NBA teams. Having a player who can compete defensively with the top wings in the NBA is a huge advantage. Two-way wing stars are among the most valuable commodities in the league, and even the pure defense first guys have real value.
Where Anunoby’s career goes will depend on how his offense develops. Right now, it’s rudimentary. What he has going for him is the ability to finish at the rim. He shot a remarkable 76 percent at the rim this season (and 70 on two pointers overall—he took almost no two point jumpers.) 45 percent of those shots at the rim were assisted, and other 13 percent were on putbacks. The rest were largely on straight line drives, which he showed an ability to complete, often with strength in traffic. There are a few good examples of this in his strengths video on Draft Express.
Otherwise, his offensive game is pretty barren at the moment. His shooting is poor, both from three and the free throw line, where he shot just 56 percent this season (and under 50 percent as a freshman.) When watching him shoot, even I can see problems—he pushes the ball forward instead of getting any sort of elevation or arc. His release is very low—it looks like a mix between a shot and a chest pass at times. It will be essential for him to work on this and improve, because with a three point shot and defensive chops, he can become a very wealthy man over the next 10-15 years.
I think it’s a stretch, or at least speculative beyond what is helpful, to imagine him developing a real ball-handling, play making game. Figuring out how to use his physical gifts to affect the game defensively and in transition while improving his three-point shot is more than enough to be getting on with for the near future.
A couple of optimistic comparisons jump to mind when thinking about his pro career: If his three point shot comes along, one could see a Trevor Ariza like stretch. Al-Farouq Aminu is perhaps the most obvious comparison. Similar in that they were both more tools than skills in college, but had enough of both to make an impact. Aminu was a higher usage guy at Wake Forest, and more of a rebounder, Anunoby was more efficient and got more blocks and steals. You can certainly see him developing in a similar manner. One thing about both of those players is they bounced around the league a bit.
Wolves Point of View
Anunoby is a player I would be happy for the Wolves to draft, especially in a trade down scenario where they picked up another asset. I think he’s going to have a useful career in the NBA, and size and defensive chops on the wing...how long have we been talking about that? I don’t know that I’m enamored of anyone likely to be there at six or seven to feel bad about a trade down that nets the Wolves Anunoby.
Terrance Ferguson, Adelaide 36ers, SG
AGE: 19.0 (Freshman)
Draft Express Rank: #15
Via John Meyer @thedailywolf:
McDonald’s All-American Terrance Ferguson was supposed to be playing for the University of Arizona this past season. But the Nike Hoops Summit changed everything.
“That’s when the 36ers approached me,” he wrote in The Players Tribune last June after foregoing the one-and-done college route for the opportunity to go play pro, and make money for his family, in Australia.
Maybe you think I’m crazy — crazy for passing up on the college experience, the parties, playing at one of the best schools in the country, being the big man on campus.
Honestly, I don’t need all that. I think some guys get it into their heads that college is everything, that going to Duke or North Carolina or whatever is an automatic ticket to the NBA. But anything can happen. Nobody really thinks about that. An injury or a bad year can ruin your career, and I’m trying to take care of my family.
Ferguson chose the NBL, Australia’s top basketball league, over college basketball. Though this path is not all that common, we have seen it before. Denver Nuggets point guard Emmanuel Mudiay played for the Guangdong Southern Tigers instead of going to SMU. Brandon Jennings went to Italy as a 19-year-old rather than attending any college he wanted to. Jeremy Tyler is another example, though an unsuccessful one. He was drafted #39 in the 2011 NBA Draft by the Warriors after bypassing college to play overseas, but now find himself in China playing with the Tianjin Gold Lions.
Ferguson is the latest draft prospect to boldly dump the one-and-down route for overseas competition (and paychecks!) but he is the first big time NBA draft prospect to pick the NBL over the U.S. college system.
It’s pretty tough to evaluate Ferguson after 30 games with Adelaide. The first question that comes to mind when seeing his pedestrian per game averages is: How good is the NBL in relation to college basketball and the other pro league’s across the world?
According to Fran Fraschilla, a college basketball analyst and international draft expert for ESPN, the NBL is the 10th best pro basketball league in the world outside of the NBA.
4.6 points per game in 15.1 minutes as an 18-year-old wing (with 44.4, 31.3, 60.0 shooting splits) to go with 1.2 rebounds, 0.6 assists, 0.2 steals, and 0.3 blocks leaves a lot to be desired. His per 40 pace adjusted numbers are: 11.5 points, 2.9 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 0.6 steals, 0.7 blocks, and 2.4 turnovers. The advanced statistics also do not seem very promising. Nothing about his usage or efficiency screams “must draft Terrance Ferguson,” but again we should not ignore the fact that he was an 18-year-old prep star that was adjusting to a new life in Australia playing against older competition in the best league he has ever been in. It’s just tough to figure out how good he might be in the NBA with limited information.
What are the scouts, as well as his new power agent, Rich Paul, seeing in Ferguson that currently has him in the top half of what’s being labeled an extremely talent incoming draft class?
Well, for starters, he profiles as a 3-and-D wing and every team is searching high and low for these types in 2017. The Tulsa, Oklahoma native is a 6-7 two-guard with elite athleticism and a smooth three-point shot. Think Terrance Ross (not because they share the same name) as a ceiling comparison.
Ferguson is a big, explosive wing that looks to have potential as a dangerous spot-up shooter and transition/backdoor dunker. For a prospect who will likely be drafted for his 3-and-D upside, it would have been a little more promising to see him shoot better than 31 percent from deep though. Enough scouting reports say Ferguson is a pure shooter with strong technique, so his floor could be similar to Anthony Morrow (or insert whatever three-point specialist you can think of here). His shooting motion and quick release sort of reminds me of Danny Green. That could be another excellent outcome for Ferguson, and one that plenty of franchises would be interested in.
DX touches on his shooting ability:
He elevates high off the ground, has a quick release point, is always on balance, and shoots it virtually the same every time, even with a hand in his face. He'll likely be able to make shots at a NBA level very early on in his career, especially from the corners, where he's extremely effective.
What’s working in his favor?
Ferguson turns 19 on May 17 and that will put him ahead of older prospects on a lot of draft boards, since there is less data and film for scouts and front offices to shoot holes through. On the same note, he is somewhat mysterious. I should not have to tell anyone there are General Managers who love rolling the dice on these types, especially those who have multiple first round picks or a treasure chest of future assets.
He also has experience playing in another country far away from home against older players in a stronger league than his draft peers. This might be a dangerous assumption but I would imagine he has become more mentally tough due to this and life as a rookie will not be as challenging when things do not go his way.
Position scarcity should also benefit him. The 2017 class is light on highly-touted shooting guard prospects. Even Malik Monk might be more of a combo guard in the NBA due to his height (6’3”) which should help his draft stock. He has less competition at this position, meaning teams that need two-guards might be more likely to trade up to ensure his services.
Wolves Point of View
Minnesota desperately needs to add 3-and-D wing players to the program. While Ferguson doesn’t look anywhere close to being a difference maker—like almost all rookies, he will need plenty of seasoning before he begins to positively impact games— his scouting report and measurables might make him an interesting prospect to acquire and mold into a future difference maker on the wing. If he falls down the draft board and Thibodeau and Layden either trade down, or want to move back into the first round (unlikely) with another deal, Ferguson could be a project worth pursuing.
But at this point, there isn’t enough positive information or film to suggest that Ferguson is going to be any good in the NBA. It appears he is a low ceiling, high floor draft pick. He can shoot and people say he has defensive chops to get into wings at the next level. Those two skills are obviously valuable to have on the perimeter today but drafting him in the middle of the first round means taking a pretty large gamble on someone that put up meh numbers in the NBL. Whatever team does pick Ferguson will likely be taking a homerun swing on an unknown, though, to be fair, the same can be said about most picks.
Which prospect will have the best NBA career?
This poll is closed