Summer League Stars: statistics mean nothing until they play poorly

Playing well in the summer league is expected for most first-round draft picks. They are the top talents competing and therefore should put up star numbers. When stars underperform against less competitive talent than the players they will see in the regular season, it raises red flags.

Many first-round picks who were expected to dominate summer league scuffled. Even though it is “just summer league”, the talent is only going to get better and more competitive moving forward. The sample size in summer league is only a few games, but who’s to say that the regular season statistics get better?

Here’s a couple players who caused some concern after their summer league performances.

Lottery pick:

Summer League

Zach Collins, Photo Courtesy of Hoop Habits.

Many were surprised to see Zach Collins taken as high in the draft as he was. Regardless of where he was selected, he underperformed even for a late first-rounder.

Collins only played in three games this summer but averaged 6.3 points and 5.7 rebounds in just over 23 minutes of game play. He shot 26.1 percent and went just 6-for-23 from the field overall.

Coming out of Gonzaga, he was valued for spreading the floor and shooting 47.6 percent from three, but has sputtered and has been missing those same opportunities this summer.

The good news is Collins will be one of the few lottery picks who plays better as a deferred option. At Gonzaga, he played just 19.3 minutes per game, and although the potential was high, it was clear he wasn’t going to be a team’s number one option.

Collins will increase his productivity and will shine as a rim protector for the Portland Trail Blazers.

Late First Round

Summer League

Tyler Lydon, Photo Courtesy of NBA.com.

Lydon has struggled the most of anyone this summer. In 121 summer league minutes, Lydon had just 12 points and shot just 4-for-20.

Lydon does almost all his work with under two dribbles, whether it’s in the post or from the perimeter. He works off of other people because he struggles to create shots for himself.

One statistic that is alarming is that Lydon shot 2-for-15 from three. As a strong catch and shoot threat, for Lydon to shoot just 13 percent from three is not promising.

Moving Forward

Summer league isn’t judgement day, and there’s still plenty of time for players to save themselves from being a bust.

With players just beginning to adjust to the NBA style of play, hiccups are expected. At the same time, almost every star in the last two NBA Drafts has performed which sets the precedent for others to put up star numbers.

All NBA fans enjoy speculating about the players they see in summer league, yet some of the players in the league aren’t even 19 years old yet. There is still time for almost every player to grow into the players that NBA teams believe they will be.

Summer league statistics don’t mean a thing when the regular season starts, but thus far, a few players have yet to live up to their draft slot.

 

Featured Photo Courtesy of NBA.com.

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Caleb Swanigan NBA Summer League: Progressing to NBA big man

Caleb Swanigan is a rookie out of Purdue University. Swanigan is a 6-foot-10, 250-pound traditional big man. He is the 26th overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft and yet still seems to be undervalued.

Swanigan has been dominating the less desired competition in the NBA Summer League. He is proving that he can adapt his game to the current NBA style.

As a traditional big, Swanigan has been working to extend his consistent range past the three-point line. As Swanigan continues to improve his game, the NBA will find out just how good the reigning Big Ten Player of the Year is.

NBA Summer League

Caleb Swanigan NBA Summer League

Caleb Swanigan working in the post. Photo Courtesy of Lohud.com.

Obviously summer league statistics don’t tell too much of a story, but Caleb Swanigan has been dominating regardless. In his five games this summer, Swanigan is averaging 14.6 points and 10.6 rebounds in 29 minutes per game. He has three double-doubles and is shooting 42.6 percent from the field.

Swanigan has grabbed the second-most rebounds of any player this summer and has complemented Zach Collins very well when Collins has been on the floor. Swanigan has proven that he can beat you in many different ways both this summer and in his two years at Purdue.

Since his freshman year of college, Swanigan has been trying to get himself more NBA ready. Swanigan shot just 29.2 percent from three on 72 attempts his freshman season at Purdue. In his sophomore season, he followed that by shooting 44.7 percent on 85 attempts from the 3-point line.

Showing how quickly and well he adapted to the talent in the Big Ten, Swanigan turned in some big time numbers in his sophomore season.

In a league where big men are shifting to being more versatile and perimeter oriented, Swanigan is showing just how much of an all-around threat he can be.

Portland Trail Blazers Tandem

Caleb Swanigan NBA Summer League

Caleb Swanigan, Photo Courtesy of NBA.com.

The Trail Blazers drafted two big men in the first round of the 2017 NBA Draft. Both big men have different games that work well together.

Swanigan is a primarily low post threat, with an ability to pick and pop and make a mid-range jumper. Collins is a good passer, also with the ability to step out and hit a mid-range jumper. Both can rebound the ball well and have high energy. Collins protects the rim very well with his size and long arms.

With the Trail Blazers’ guards as good as they are, having two big men develop could make them perennial playoff contenders. Swanigan has been improving and adapting nearly every year he has played basketball and with the NBA waiting for him, there is a lot of time to prove how good he really is.

 

Featured Image Courtesy of NBA.com.

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Top five NBA Summer League players

The NBA Summer League is a time for players to prepare for the speed of an NBA game. In years past, some of the best statistical summer league stars did not translate their games to the NBA.

Some of the most impressive players of the 2017 NBA Summer League are not who many thought they would be. This summer league is filled with lots of depth and future NBA stars.

Here are the top five players who have turned heads in this year’s NBA Summer League.

Bryn Forbes

top five NBA Summer League players

Bryn Forbes, Photo Courtesy of News Locker.

Somewhat of an expected star in this year’s summer league is Bryn Forbes. Forbes is an undrafted second-year player out of Michigan State.

Forbes is a member of the San Antonio Spurs’ summer league team and has blossomed into a very lethal scorer.

In the summer league, Forbes is averaging 23.7 points per game, while shooting 43.6 percent from the field. Bryn is also grabbing three rebounds and dishing out three assists per game.

He was a known 3-point sniper out of college, and he has added an off-dribble game and has become even more difficult to guard.

Forbes is not a stranger to shining in the summer league, being that he shined almost as bright as a rookie in last year’s preseason.

Forbes could make the step into being a consistent rotation player for the San Antonio Spurs and Gregg Popovich.

Donovan Mitchell

top five NBA Summer League players

Donovan Mitchell, Photo Courtesy of Purple and Blues.

Mitchell is the 13th overall pick and has had possibly the best summer league of anyone so far. The extremely athletic guard has impacted the game in many different ways.

In the games this summer, Mitchell is averaging 26.4 points on 39.6 percent shooting. Donovan is averaging 2.4 rebounds and 2.6 assists a game.

Mitchell has been more offensive-minded after developing his game in his two years at Louisville.

He also has the summer league-high this year with 37 points. In that same game he also had eight steals to show how complete of a player he is.

He has also nearly doubled his point totals in each of his last three years of basketball.

Mitchell is the definition of a player with a high ceiling. He seems to be just scratching the surface of the things that he can do for the Utah Jazz.

Jayson Tatum:

top five NBA Summer League players

Jayson Tatum, Photo Courtesy of Chowder and Champions.

Tatum is the No. 3 pick in the 2017 draft. Tatum has lived up to his summer league hype, by both scoring and ball handling for the Boston Celtics.

In the summer, Tatum is averaging 18.2 points on 44.6 percent shooting. Jayson is also grabbing 8.8 rebounds and has 1.5 assists a game.

Tatum has done a little bit of everything for the Celtics. He has made some big shots in the fourth quarter and has also shown he can score off the dribble.

He also has shown that he is a very good rebounding small forward, which is the Celtics’ biggest problem.

Tatum will have to adjust to an off-ball game when the regular season starts, due to Isaiah Thomas, but for right now he is showing that he has a more complete game than people thought.

Dakari Johnson

top five NBA Summer League players

Dakari Johnson, Photo Courtesy of Mash Media.

Johnson is in his third NBA season. Dakari was the 48th pick in the 2015 NBA Draft and a former Kentucky Wildcat.

Dakari was a very proven D-league (now G-league) player, turning in an All-Star campaign in 2017.

Johnson is a very physical post player who scores almost all his points around the rim.

No stranger to the summer league, Johnson has 18.5 points on 56.9 percent shooting in four games. He also has 5.5 boards and 1.8 assists per game.

Although Johnson is not rebounding as well this summer as he typically does, he is showing that he can dominate the paint and could help be a rotation big man for the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Bam Adebayo:

top five NBA Summer League players

Bam Adebayo, Photo Courtesy of Heat Zone.

Adebayo is the 14th overall pick in the 2017 draft. Bam is a 20-year-old former Kentucky Wildcat that can really protect the rim.

After not having many plays drawn up for him at Kentucky, Bam is trying to prove himself as an offensive weapon.

This summer he is averaging 16.7 points, 8.4 rebounds and 1.3 assists for the Miami Heat.

One of his weaknesses is his free throw shooting and his foul trouble.

Bam is a strong defensive presence and can really provide value standing alongside Hassan Whiteside for the Miami Heat.

Bonus: Okaro White

White is out of Florida State and is complimenting Bam on the Miami Heat summer league team. Okaro is a very good shooter who can stretch the floor.

He is averaging 19 points on 37.7 percent shooting. He averages 8 rebounds and 1.8 assists a game this summer.

As the league shifts to the more athletic big man that can guard pick and rolls and shoot the three, Okaro White’s stock is continuing to rise.

 

As the NBA regular season is approaching, players are searching to make rosters in the summer league. Some of the players who have impressed the most may not translate into stardom when they start playing against the serious talent.

In a league where players are trying to adapt to the speed and skill of the next level, these six players have impressed the most so far in the 2017 NBA Summer League.

 

Featured Photo Courtesy of NBA.com

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Sacramento Kings’ future is bright

Prior to the 2017 NBA Draft, the Sacramento Kings seemingly had no stars and no direction. After Trading DeMarcus Cousins in the middle of the 2016-17 season, the Kings were immediately backtracking.

Knowing full-well that winning in a loaded Western Conference takes more than one star, they decided to start the rebuilding process over again. The Kings then looked to rebuild their roster through the NBA Draft.

This offseason, the Kings have put themselves in great position, and look poised for a bright future.

How they got there

Cousins was traded to the Pelicans in the middle of February.

Sacramento Kings future

Demarcus Cousins, Photo Courtesy of Latin Times.

The Kings received Buddy Hield and what ended up being the 10th pick in the 2017 draft (traded later).

Hield is a 23-year old-guard who was an offensive star in his four years of college.

In the NBA he has slowed down a bit. However, post All-Star break, he managed to shoot 42 percent from three and added strong defensive value.

On draft night, the Kings traded the 10th pick for two later first round picks and set themselves up to have four picks in the draft, three of which were picks in the first round.

What started as a small return for Cousins turned into three players that could play a roll in the 2017-18 Kings’ lineup.

2017 NBA Draft

Sacramento Kings future

De’Aaron Fox, Photo Courtesy of USA TODAY Sports.

Draft night brought in four players that all have many accolades and skillsets to improve the Kings.

De’Aaron Fox: The fifth pick of the draft is an electric guard out of Kentucky who can change the pace of the game. Fox would compliment Hield due to his ability to draw defenders to the paint.

Justin Jackson: The Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year is a great scoring small forward. Jackson can be a strong two-way player who will help spread the floor to open up Fox.

Harry Giles: The No. 1 player in the country out of high school, Giles become the 20th pick in the draft. Giles is a player who saw injuries ruin his lottery chances. However, if he could go back to his pre-injury days, he would be a steal for the Kings.

Frank Mason III: Mason III is the National Player of the Year, and a proven scorer. Mason can provide a solid back up for Fox and can score the ball off the bench.

Free Agency

Sacramento Kings future

George Hill, Photo Courtesy of Purple and Blues.

Most teams who are rebuilding make the mistake of trying to make a big splash and overpaying for a star but end up striking out.

The Kings brought in three veteran players to mix in with their young talent.

They did that by signing George Hill (three years, $57 million), Zach Randolph (two years, $24 million) and Vince Carter (one year, $8 million).

By signing more experienced players for shorter contracts, the Kings open up the chance to go after a strong free agent in three years.

Once the veteran contracts expire, they can pursue an established free agent to match with their growing young talent.

Moving Forward:

The Kings are looking to the future. With their nucleus of young stars, they are poised to make a run at the playoffs sooner than expected.

And for the first time in a while, the Kings finally have a foundation and a direction.

Obviously the group doesn’t have a lot, if any playing experience together, but for the time being, there is a lot to look forward to in Sacramento.

 

Featured Image Courtesy of NBA.com

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NBA Playoff system: time to change

Preview:

In recent history, teams with below .500 records have found a way to slide into the NBA playoff race.

Teams with better records in the other conference have gotten penalized due to their geographical location and not their overall record.

It appears as though the West is turning into a gauntlet and the talent in the East is top-heavy.

Many people around the NBA have talked about moving to a different playoff system. The alternate system would take the top 16 teams with the best records to the playoffs.

Recent History:

NBA Playoffs

Photo Courtesy of Above the Rim

Since 2007, there have been nine teams under .500 teams in the playoffs. All nine of those teams have come from the Eastern Conference.

In the eleven years, two different times there were multiple under 41 win teams in the playoffs.

Eight of the nine teams that made the playoffs with an under .500 record had a worse record than a team who didn’t make the playoffs in the other conference.

The NBA would benefit by having a more competitive postseason and would also make regular season games more competitive.

 

Stars Changing Locations:

All-Stars: Paul Milsap, Paul George and Jimmy Butler are all on the move to the Western Conference.

Many teams in the West now have multiple All-Stars and former All-Stars on their given teams. The Rockets, Warriors, Pelicans, Spurs, Clippers and Thunder all have two or more guys who have been All-Stars in the last three years. Just the Celtics, Cavaliers and Raptors have that in the Eastern Conference.

Its not just the shifting of the talent in between the two conferences. It’s also the depth in talent that’s different.

The Change:

NBA Playoffs

Photo Courtesy of Grantland.

At the end of the day, the best 16 teams should be able to compete for a championship.

For a team to have the 15th best record and not make the playoffs doesn’t make sense.

With the Western Conference as strong as it is, the East is going to have a tough time holding their own.

There’s a good chance Western Conference teams with good records could get snubbed come playoff time.

It’s time to do away with Conference seeding and give the best teams a chance to win an NBA Championship.

 

Feature Image by Chat Sports

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Gordon Hayward free agency: Where he will land

Gordon Hayward began his recruiting tour as of July 1. The three stops he will be making are: Miami, Boston and of course the team who drafted him, Utah.  It is currently a toss-up on where Hayward will land.

Hayward is now the biggest free agent name out there so teams are gunning for him. Here’s what each teams’ advantages and disadvantages are for Gordon’s decision.

Gordon Hayward free agency

Utah Jazz

Hayward’s former team provides less of a threat than you would think.

Gordon Hayward free agency

Photo Courtesy of Torn By Sports.

Hayward is drawn to Utah because it is the place where his wife is and his kids have grown up. He has been in Utah all of his seven years in the league.

However, Hayward openly said that if George Hill was signed by the Jazz, he would strongly consider coming back.

Ricky Rubio was then traded for in the following days leaving Hill on the outs. Hayward then proceeded to opt out of his contract with the Jazz in response.

Ultimately for Hayward it might be time to leave behind Utah and the loaded Western Conference.

Miami Heat

Gordon Hayward free agency

The Miami Heat are the team that could possibly use Hayward the most. The Heat had the lowest point total of any position at Small Forward last year.

They have an established point guard in Goran Dragic and low post threat in Hassan Whiteside. They are just lacking the consistent shooter on the outside that could be provided with the signing of Hayward.

A draw for Hayward to the Heat is that there aren’t any state income taxes, meaning Hayward’s contract would technically be worth more because he doesn’t lose as much money to taxes.

He also would be coached by NBA champion, Erik Spoelstra, which is the only coach of the three that has won an NBA title.

The Heat seemed to be a sleeper to land Hayward originally, but I think they are more appealing than originally thought.

Boston Celtics

Gordon Hayward free agency

Photo Courtesy of Logo Eps.

The Celtics are the most visually appealing to Hayward. If he wants to contend for a championship, the Celtics are the team to sign with.

They are the reigning one seed in the Eastern Conference and just added Jayson Tatum, the number three draft pick.

Hayward would be playing alongside All-Star Isaiah Thomas as well as other key players.

He also has a strong connection to head coach Brad Stevens. Stevens coached Hayward at Butler University for two years and had extreme success going 59-11 together, and finishing runner-up in the 2009 National Championship.

One of the only negatives is Jae Crowder is still around. Splitting time with a solid player in Crowder may be hard to overcome for Hayward.

Where Hayward Will Land

Realistically, if Hayward really likes it in Utah then he might not go anywhere. If he is interested in contending and winning for a legendary city, then Boston is his place.

When it’s all said and done, the Celtics have the best team on paper and seem to be a great fit for him. In a league that’s all about getting paid, and winning rings, Hayward will likely take a little less money to be with a team that’s ready to contend right away.

Hayward will have to move past the fact that he doesn’t like Tom Brady, because when it’s all said and done he might just be sharing the spotlight with him.

 

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Los Angeles Clippers big three: It was time to part ways

The team who was once proclaimed “Lob City” lost one of its members Wednesday morning when Chris Paul was traded to the Houston Rockets.

Understandably, Clipper fans were shocked to have witnessed one of their popular stars dealt to a Western Conference rival. At the same time, front offices are now using the Golden State Warriors as the measuring stick for greatness and the Clippers aren’t measuring up.

The Chris Paul led Clippers were a top-four playoff team year in and year out, but nothing more. In a city where titles are the gold standard, just making the playoffs isn’t good enough.

Recent History

The Clippers’ big three consisted of Deandre Jordan, Chris Paul and Blake Griffin and since the three came together in 2011, the Clippers have won at least 60.5 percent of their regular season games.

Los Angeles Clippers big three: time part ways

Chris Paul in agony after a playoff loss, Photo Courtesy of the LA Times.

The Clippers have made the playoffs in all six of those seasons. They finished third, fourth or fifth in the Western Conference regular season standings each of those years.

Unfortunately, they are 2-3 in first round series as favorites and 3-3 in the first round overall since 2011. During this time the Clippers never even made it to the Western Conference finals.

The big three finished with a total playoff series record of 3-6 in their six years together. Out of 18 possible All-Star appearances, the three went to a combined 10. By all means there was a high bar set for the Los Angeles Clippers with the arrival of Jordan, Paul and Griffin, but the results did not meet fan expectations.

Banged Up Blake

Los Angeles Clippers big three: time part ways

Blake Griffin Injured, Photo Courtesy of Sports Grid.

Blake Griffin has been plagued by injuries.

Since coming into the league in 2009, he has missed a combined 103 regular season games or approximately 18 percent of the games over his years in the league.

To put this into perspective, he has played more than 67 games in just three of those seven seasons.

Griffin’s athleticism has also taken a hit because of all of his injuries. He is averaging two less rebounds and a point less per game then when he first came into the league as a rookie.

Without Griffin on the court, the Clippers were unable to progress as a team.

Why Now

The NBA has been dominated by two teams for the last three years. Clipper fans have been disappointed by a team that has consistently under-performed. It makes sense to abandon the nucleus and attempt to put a more competitive product on the court.

Everyone in the Western Conference is chasing the Golden State Warriors. If the Clippers break up their big three, they could potentially be in great position to challenge the Warriors in the West in a few years. The time is now to put together a team that doesn’t just make the playoffs, but contends for a title.

Keeping a team together that has not achieved its potential makes little sense for ownership or players, when the goal is to win a championship.

Moving Forward

Los Angeles Clippers big three: time part ways

Clippers Guard Austin Rivers, Photo Courtesy of Fox Sports.

With Blake Griffin also on the way out, and Deandre Jordan having already attempted to leave the team last year, the future seems uncertain for the Clippers.

The Golden State Warriors have shown us that they are a juggernaut for the immediate future. With recent mediocrity a constant for the Clippers, why not take a chance on being great in a few years?

Trading the big three for young talent appears to give the Clippers the best chance of turning things around. It may not be a winning formula for the immediate future, but the Clippers could be title contenders very soon.

 

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2017 NBA Draft: Best value picks

A team doesn’t have to be in the top 10 to get a star in the NBA Draft. Teams like the Golden State Warriors have shown us that. The 2017 NBA Draft is a draft filled with lots of talent at any given position. There was a chance for many teams to find value, even outside of the draft lottery. Here are some of the best value picks outside of the top 10 picks.

First Round Value:

2017 NBA Draft: best value picks

Harry Giles, Photo Courtesy of Fast Six Pack.

Harry Giles (#20 pick, Trail Blazers, Traded to the Kings)

Giles was the consensus number one recruit in the 2016 college recruiting class. He is a 6-foot-10 power forward with a ton of upside. The reason for his fall out of the top 10 was his injury-filled freshman campaign with the Duke Blue Devils.

Giles has had three knee surgeries in the last four years. Due to his most recent surgery, Giles missed 11 of Duke’s 37 games in his freshman season.

Many of Harry Giles’ strengths have to do with the strength of his knees. He relies highly on his athleticism to play above the rim and get rebounds. He also relies on his strength and motor to outwork his opponents and finish through contact.

Some of his weaknesses are guarding the pick and roll due to his lack of lateral quickness and his free throw shooting ability. Some question his scoring ability outside the paint, however he is a proven low post threat.

Giles averaged 3.9 points and 3.8 rebounds in 11.5 minutes per game playing 26 games in his only collegiate season.

If Giles can get healthy as he enters the NBA, he will create lots of value for the Sacramento Kings and could turn into the projected lottery pick he once was.

Giles, when healthy is a lottery pick, and the season he played at Duke didn’t do his talents justice. He never got a chance to get in basketball shape and in turn get in the rotation for the Blue Devils.

Second Round Value:

Semi Ojeleye (#37 pick, Boston Celtics)

2017 NBA Draft: best value picks

Semi Ojeleye, Photo Courtesy of Penn Live.

Ojeleye is a little different from Giles, being that Ojeleye is a near finished product. He is 6-foot-7 and 240 pounds of pure athlete. Semi measured at 40.5 inches on his vertical leap in his draft workouts and shot 42 percent from three. He also had 18.2 points per game for the Southern Methodist Mustangs.

Ojeleye was a Duke commit and transferred to the Mustangs, where he began to blossom.

The Celtics get a great athlete who doesn’t need a lot of developing. He is a player who can help on the defensive end and can also stretch the floor with the three ball.

Ojeleye is a large physical presence whose body is already NBA ready. He is ready to be a role player and the Celtics are a team that can absolutely use a pure shooter to add to lots of assets.

Jordan Bell (#38 pick, Bulls, Traded to Warriors)

2017 NBA Draft: best value picks

Jordan Bell blocking Kennedy Meeks’ shot, Photo Courtesy of CSN.

Even when the Warriors don’t have a pick in a draft they still manage to make a splash.

Jordan Bell is another incredible athlete who averaged 10.9 points and 8.8 rebounds per game in his junior season for the Oregon Ducks. Bell continued to find a way to improve every year he was in college and had his best offensive season his last year.

Bell is not a huge offensive presence outside of the paint which is why he fell to the second round. He is a great defensive player who rebounds well and protects the rim with his tremendous athleticism.

Jordan measures at 38 inches on his vertical leap and has a seven-foot wingspan, making him a perfect candidate for a rim protector and defensive juggernaut.

Jordan Bell is similar to former Warrior, Festus Ezeli and could possibly fill the role that has been vacant since Ezeli left.

Jaron Blossomgame (#59 pick, San Antonio Spurs)

2017 NBA Draft: best value picks

Jaron Blossomgame. Photo Courtesy of Draft Express.

Blossomgame dropping this far in the draft was shocking. Many people had Blossomgame higher up on draft boards in the previous year, so for him to fall this far is unexpected. What is not unexpected is the Spurs saw the value in him that other teams didn’t.

Jaron falls to the Spurs and could make an impact right away. With Lamarcus Aldridge unhappy with his situation with the Spurs and Gasol aging, Blossomgame could work his way into the rotation.

Jaron has a very inconsistent jump shot, shooting just 25.5 percent from the 3-point line in his senior campaign. He does have a ton of athleticism. He can guard two to three positions and has excellent timing for rebounding and shot blocking.

The reason for his fall this far in the draft was his dropoff of production from junior to senior year. The dropoff was partly due to the change from power forward to small forward in preparation for the NBA Draft.

Jaron could play two different positions in the NBA. With the league transitioning to small ball, he could become a huge asset in that transition for the Spurs.

Summary:

The 2017 NBA Draft was one that was filled with useful future NBA players.

Whether it is a player going in the top five or a pick taken at 60, any athlete could provide value if they are in the correct system.

Every NBA team is looking for a late draft pick that can turn there team into a title contender. These athletes could potentially be the pieces that could help their teams take the next step to being a contender.

 

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De’Aaron Fox 2017 NBA Draft: The highest ceiling of all players

History has shown us that quick, explosive guards can wreak havoc on opposing NBA defenses. De’Aaron Fox is no exception.

Background

De'Aaron Fox 2017 NBA Draft

Photo: USA Today Sports

De’Aaron Fox is a 6-foot-3, 190 pound 19-year-old point guard coming off a one-and-done stint with the Kentucky Wildcats. The one knock on him is that he is an inconsistent jump shooter, shooting just 24.6 percent from 3 per 40 minutes. Despite that, he still shoots 52.1 percent inside the three point line and averaged 16.7 points and 4.6 assists to go along with 4.0 rebounds.

His assist to turnover ratio is nearly 2/1 and he shoots 73.6 percent from the free throw line. Fox is an electric point guard who loves to turn up the pace. He loves to get out in transition and put pressure on defenses which is when he’s at his best.

Performance against top prospects

Obviously against a few of the top prospects Fox isn’t guarding them directly, however, he does show up in big games against tough competition. In two games against Lonzo Ball and UCLA, the prospects split the two games. Lonzo finished the two games averaging 12 points, 7.5 assists and 4.5 rebounds. Fox finished with an average of 29.5 points, 6.5 assists and 2.5 rebounds, effectively dominating his two matchups with UCLA’s star guard.

De'Aaron Fox 2017 NBA Draft

Former Kentucky guard De’Aaron Fox, photo courtesy of Sports News Empire.

 

In a tough road loss against Louisville, Fox outplayed prospect Donovan Mitchell. Fox scored 21 points had three assists, two rebounds while Mitchell had 13 points, four rebounds and one assist.

 

He also had a let down game against top-five prospect Josh Jackson. Fox had just 10 points, two assists and two rebounds in a home loss to the Kansas Jayhawks. Jackson capitalized and had 20 points, 10 rebounds and three assists, outplaying Fox in every category.

Ultimately, showing he can play in big games and on a big stage is important to NBA owners. Fox has shown that when the lights are brightest he puts some of his best games together.

Comparison

De'Aaron Fox 2017 NBA Draft

Former Kentucky guard John Wall, photo courtesy of ESPN.

Another Kentucky Wildcat comes to mind when watching Fox play. John Wall was a fast paced one-and-done player that lacked a jump shot coming into the NBA. He is now one of the top point guards in the league and has steadily improved his 3-point shot every year since his collegiate days.

The freshman year statistics for both are eerily similar. Fox averaged .1 more points per game while Wall averaged 1.9 more assists, .3 more rebounds a game and shot 1.8 percent better from the free throw line.

Fox shot 1.7 percent better from the field than Wall and had a higher assist to turnover ratio (Fox:1.9/1, Wall:1.63/1). Both are extremely close in almost every statistical category and both led their teams to the Elite Eights.

Best Fit

Obviously Fox has a lot to prove. He is a surefire lottery pick that seems destined to go top five in the draft.

Fox’s best fit in the draft is at the fifth pick to the Sacramento Kings and would join an aging back court with Darren Collison and Ty Lawson. This creates an opportunity to take the reigns for years to come. 

Fox, along with guard Buddy Hield would look to form a young nucleus. The two would look to create a backcourt that could be lethal for years to come. Fox would get an opportunity to play in his first year and raise his NBA value as soon as he gets into the league.

De’Aaron Fox might not be the best player in the draft pool at this point but he is quickly on the rise and full of potential. There have been countless players who have developed a jump shot throughout their years in the NBA and Fox is a jump shot away from being an All-Star for years to come.

 

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