Sunday, January 15, 2017

Possession Arrow: Ten NBA Lottery Prospects To Watch

By Pat Tregoning, @PatNShaker

Welcome back to another edition of the Possession Arrow! In this edition, we will breakdown 10 of the top names to watch for the upcoming NBA Lottery. We will give a preview on each prospect and also a player comparison for each lottery prospect. You should expect to hear these names called by Commissioner Silver this upcoming July.

Josh Jackson, G/F, Kansas, Freshman

Josh Jackson is a versatile small forward that has incredible potential for NBA success. He is light on his feet and brings great energy and overall competitiveness to the table. He has great court vision which allows himself to be a threat on the move whether it is to score or be a distributor. Great ball-handling skills which allows him to create a play off the dribble with ease. He needs to work on improving his jump shot and adding more offensive consistency to his game. Older for his class. He will turn 20 this February.

Comparison: Tracy McGrady, Andrew Wiggins

Dennis Smith, PG, North Carolina State, Freshman

Dennis Smith is a point guard with good size (6’2”) and great potential intangibles for the PG position. With an explosive first step, he attacks the rim with aggression and finishes well. Smith sees the floor well and is a very unselfish player, passing the ball with ease. He handles the ball well and gets where we needs to go off the dribble. Good defensive player for his position that shows flashes of strong perimeter defense. He can improve his offensive consistency both with the ball (shot 22.5 percent from three in the Adidas Gauntlet tournament) and off the ball offensively. He sat out his senior season of High School after tearing his ACL, raising questions and concerns about whether or not he is ‘injury prone’.

Comparison: Eric Bledsoe, Steve Francis

Markelle Fultz, G, Washington, Freshman

Fultz might be the one prospect to watch that barely anyone is talking about (unless you are on the Washington campus). At 6’5”, he is a guard that has strong athleticism. He changes direction really well with a quick first step. Fultz attacks gaps in the defense and takes it strong to the hole. Finishes well through contact. Fultz is a strong slasher that gets where he wants off the dribble well. He can be successful with scoring for himself as well as making plays for others. Good jumpshot from three but he also has a strong offensive game in transition. He can also get to the free throw line with little trouble. A true “stat sheet stuffer”. Above average rebounding skills for his position. He shows great potential with his size, length, and quickness. A true competitor. Jump shot has improved since HS but has shown signs of being a streaky shooter. Doesn’t score much from midrange jumpers, usually all three pointers or getting all the way to the rim. He has room to become more consistent on the offensive side of the ball. He could look to become stronger in his legs.

Comparison: Floor? Jordan Clarkson, Ceiling? Russell Westbrook

Lonzo Ball, G, UCLA, Freshman

Lonzo is tall for his position at 6’6 but possesses great overall size and length for a point guard. He has strong court vision, passing, and playmaking ability. Makes one handed passes with either hand. He has shown quick decision making skills on the court, putting the ball where it needs to go. He can pin point where outlet passes need to go when trying to start the fast break. Lonzo is a great ball handler and floor general with high basketball IQ and ideal point guard traits. Brings out the best in his teammates. Can play alongside great teammates at the next level, isn’t hindered by others taking the shots. Plays very even-keeled and nonchalant and doesn’t ever show signs of getting rattled. Can play off the ball as well. Great rebounder on both ends for a guard. Stat sheet stuffer. His shooting motion will need work at the next level, while he makes shots from deep, it is a very unorthodox style. He could also afford the ability to improve his strength, he lacks the explosion at times to make the necessary plays.

Comparison: Jason Kidd

Frank Ntilikina, G, France

Frank is the ideal “pass first” point guard. With good size for his position, Frank has shown very good athleticism and quickness. He is very mature for his young age, holding a strong basketball IQ. While he has a thin frame to some scouts, his body structure also suggests he has the room to add weight and muscle tone to become stronger. He is an excellent passer with above average court vision. He can pass while in motion as well as when he penetrates the defense. He controls the game very well. He excels in running the break and playing in the open court. He can run the P&R as the ball-handler really well because he shows the patience in making the correct pass. He can create his own scoring opportunity off the dribble, showing a good mid range game. On defense, his lateral quickness helps him stay in front of his man while his length and overall athleticism helps create steals. Adding strength and muscle tone is vitally important for his long term success in the NBA. He needs to become more vocal and learn when he has to take over a game. He must add some aggressiveness to his game. He isn’t NBA ready right now, but he has the upside to be a very good player.

Comparison: Dante Exum

De’Aaron Fox, PG, Kentucky, Freshman

De’Aaron has good size and length for the position with explosive athleticism. He can change speeds very well and knows when to turn on the afterburners. He is a great lead guard when playing in transition. He likes to push the ball up the floor and can be tough to defend on the break. He has great overall quickness and great reaction time. Shows a strong court vision and above average passing abilities. Good ball-handling skills. Has the ability to avoid traps and break a press by himself. De’Aaron plays with a lot of creativity and craftiness who can get where he wants off the dribble. He has strong footwork in traffic who can score from multiple spots on the floor. Good midrange game where we can be tough to stop offensively. He rebounds well for a guard. At times can be a top notch defender especially on the ball. Great defensive tools for his age. He can be a streaky shooter at times who needs to develop more of a consistent offensive game. He is very light, listed around 175-180 pounds so muscle and strength in his upper and lower body are essential. He tends to try and do too much at times which can lead to a high number of turnovers. Decision making on the court could afford to be improved. Has the tools to be a great point guard at the next level.

Comparison: Brandon Knight

Malik Monk, SG, Kentucky, Freshman

Monk is a prospect with huge hops and high athleticism. He's exceptionally quick with an explosive first step. He plays strong above the rim already and shows signs of getting stronger in his game above the rim. He has a good shooting motion and has shown great improvement from outside offensively. He has the tools to be a strong NBA level scorer. Malik does a great job of getting into the lane and pushing the ball up the floor in transition. He is a skilled passer with strong ball handling skills. He is a player that can come through in clutch moments for his teams. He lives for those moments. He plays with great confidence. He needs to learn to be a better coach on the floor. He has shown at times that he can force his shot instead of making the simple pass. He needs to work on playing with better discipline. He can afford to improve his overall strength and consistency in his game. He has the chance to be a great player at the next level.

Comparison: Bradley Beal, Zach Lavine

Jonathan Isaac, SF/PF, Florida State, Freshman

Jonathan is a versatile forward listed at 6’10”. He has great size and length to play the perimeter. Good athleticism with great coordination. He can run the floor like a guard with great mobility. He has good ball handling ability for his size while showing flashes of being able to create off of the dribble. He has a smooth shooting stroke. He is good from midrange and can extend to the three point line. He is a good shooter off the catch as well as off the dribble. He can score a multitude of different ways as well. Issac has good defensive ability and versatility with good lateral quickness that keeps him in front of his own man. He has great hustle when going after loose balls and rebounds as well. He was a very late bloomer that is still learning the game but he has also shown good NBA potential.

Comparison: Rashard Lewis

Jayson Tatum, SF, Duke, Freshman

Jayson is a very versatile, strong and athletic wing who has great potential to be successful at the next level. He does a great job of scoring from all three levels with an especially good mid range game as well. He can get his shot against any defender offensively. Tatum possesses good ball handling skills which when combined with his athletic versatility, allows him to get past defenders and score at the hole or give himself space to hit his strong step-back, midrange jumper. He should be a nightmare to defend offensively at the next level. He also has good playmaking skills. He will be a tough matchup on the defensive side at the ball. Thanks to Tatum’s athletic versatility, he has the ability to guard multiple positions on the floor. I don’t project him as much of a rim protector at the NBA level right now, but he can improve on that as time goes on. He can also improve his overall strength as right now he probably will struggle with being able to both overpower and overmatch defenders at the next level too. He has the tools to be a successful forward in the NBA.

Comparison: Danny Granger

Lauri Markkanen, PF, Arizona, Freshman

Lauri is a big man that is well coordinated and very mobile for his size. (7 footer). At 7 feet tall, Markkanen can handle the ball, hit shots on the move, and he looks like a natural on the court. He's versatile in that he has the skill set of a small forward but he also has the right amount of power and strength to guard at the rim. He can change ends very effortlessly, thanks to his speed and mobility for his size. Markkanen has great form on his jumper and hits a high percentage from 3 and from the free throw line. I think he has really good potential to be a good three point shooter in the NBA, especially for his size.
He fights for all of his rebounds and does an especially good job at crashing the offensive glass. He also plays with good awareness and aggression. Defensively, Markkanen is a decent shot blocker thanks to his good strength and reaction as a defender. He has a high basketball I.Q. which helps him defend multiple positions. He can look a bit heavy-footed at times. He is definitely still developing as a post defender on the defensive side of the ball. He is still developing his ball handling and passing abilities on the offensive side of the ball as well. 

Comparison: Nikola Mirotic 

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