While the NBA has gone away from the traditional big man, there still is value in versatile forwards and centers who can impact the game in a multitude of ways.
The 2017 NBA Draft is loaded with talented guards and wing players, but there still are a number of quality big men who can fill a need for many teams.
So, who should be the first big bodies to come off the board? Here are our rankings of the top big men (PF/C) in the 2017 draft class.
1. Lauri Markkanen, PF, Arizona (7-foot, 230 pounds)
Markkanen might not be the next Dirk Nowitzki, but who is? The versatile big man can score the ball from anywhere on the court, which was highlighted during his lone season at Arizona. Markkanen shot a ridiculous 42.3 percent from 3-point range during his freshman campaign and his offensive creativity and versatility should make him a top-10 pick.
2. Zach Collins, C, Gonzaga (7-foot, 230 pounds)
The Gonzaga Bulldogs center probably won’t turn out to be a star in the NBA, but he should be a solid big man. Collins has few holes in his game, and if he can stretch his range out to the 3-point line, he will have value for years to come. The problem with Collins is he played the fewest minutes per game (17.3) of any projected lottery pick, so he is somewhat of an unknown.
3. Harry Giles, PF, Duke (6-foot-10, 240 pounds)
Giles once was thought to be the top talent in this draft class before he suffered his second torn ACL during his senior year of high school. He never seemed to get fully healthy during his freshman season at Duke and looked uncomfortable on the court for long stretches of time. Giles has the potential to be one of the best players in the draft if he can overcome his injuries and the mental tentativeness that comes with two ACL tears.
4. John Collins, PF, Wake Forest (6-foot-10, 235 pounds)
Collins made a huge leap from his freshman to sophomore season at Wake Forest. He was one of the most efficient players in college basketball last season, shooting 62.2 percent from the field. Collins’ range is limited, however, and that is a problem in today’s NBA.
5. Caleb Swanigan, PF, Purdue (6-foot-9, 250 pounds)
Swanigan has good shooting touch and the ability to play power forward or center. He does, however, lack athleticism and often struggles on the defensive end of the court, especially in switches.
6. Ike Anigbogu, PF, UCLA (6-foot-10, 250 pounds)
Anigbogu has all the physical tools to make NBA teams salivate. He has a prototypical frame and elite athleticism that could make him a valuable high-energy big man in the league. Anigbogu does need to work on polishing his offensive game as he only averaged 13 minutes per contest for UCLA and shot a lowly 53.2 percent from the free-throw line.
7. T.J. Leaf, PF, UCLA (6-foot-10, 225 pounds)
Leaf was one of the top-10 freshmen in the nation last season and possesses the ability to put the ball on the deck and score in a variety of ways. However, he does leave much to be desired on the defensive end and likely won’t make an immediate impact on an NBA team.
8. Justin Patton, C, Creighton (7-foot, 230 pounds)
Patton will need to time to develop his frame to be able to bang with NBA bigs, but he was an effective shooter at the college level and could become a quality pick-and-roll man in the league. While he has good defensive instincts, he didn’t test well at the NBA Scouting Combine and his skinny frame could cause him to be a liability down low.
9. Jordan Bell, PF, Oregon (6-foot-9, 225 pounds)
Bell might be the best athlete in the draft. That athleticism gives him the ability to grab rebounds at a high rate and block almost any shot. Bell’s offensive game is an issue, though, as he is ineffective outside of 12 feet.
10. Johnathan Motley, PF, Baylor (6-foot-10, 230 pounds)
Motley is lanky rim-runner who could become a quality energy big in the NBA. He doesn’t have the offensive skill to create his own shot, though, so his ceiling is low.
Thumbnail photo via Mark Dolejs/USA TODAY Sports Images