Versatile, athletic swingmen are becoming an increasingly valuable commodity in today’s NBA.
As such, the 2017 NBA Draft class could not have come at a more perfect time for those teams near the top of the draft (especially the Boston Celtics).
This year’s class is one of the deepest in recent memory, and while a pair of point guards top many draft boards, the list of top prospects is littered with talented shooting guards and small forwards with very high ceilings.
So, who’s the cream of the crop? Here’s our ranking of the top 10 swingmen (SG/SF) in the 2017 draft class.
1. Josh Jackson, SG, Kansas (6-foot-8, 205 pounds)
Jackson and Jayson Tatum have similar skill sets and almost identical measurables. But what gives Jackson the slight edge here is his defense. The 20-year-old parlayed his incredible athleticism into 1.7 steals and 1.1 blocks per game for the Jayhawks last season, and at 6-foot-8 he can guard multiple positions.
His outside shot and free-throw shooting both need work, but Jackson has the highest upside of any swingman in this draft.
2. Jayson Tatum, SF, Duke (6-foot-8, 205 pounds)
You could argue Tatum is a safer pick than Jackson. The 19-year-old is very mature for his age, boasts a polished offensive skill set and can score in isolation, a valuable trait at the NBA level. If Tatum does get taken after Jackson, he’ll be one heck of a consolation prize.
3. Malik Monk, SG, Kentucky (6-foot-4, 185 pounds)
Yes, Monk is slightly undersized for a shooting guard, but he’s the best at his position for one reason: The dude can score. Monk dropped 19.8 points per game for the Wildcats last season thanks to a strong outside shot (40 percent from 3-point range) and elite quickness.
4. Donovan Mitchell, SG, Louisville (6-foot-3, 210 pounds)
Mitchell is solid offensively, but his potential lies in his defensive upside. The 210-pound 20-year-old plays with a Marcus Smart-esque aggressiveness on defense and has the athleticism to make that effort pay off.
5. Justin Jackson, SF, North Carolina (6-foot-8, 195)
With three years of college under his belt, Jackson might be one of the most NBA-ready players in the draft. His strong NCAA Tournament proved he can create offense from anywhere, and his 6-foot-11 wingspan gives him versatility defensively. The downside to that experience: He’s already 22 years old.
6. Luke Kennard, SG, Duke (6-foot-5, 190 pounds)
Kennard made his hay for the Blue Devils as an excellent shooter who thrived at moving without the ball and getting open off screens. There’s always room for that role in the NBA. His low defensive ceiling drops him a few pegs, though.
7. Terrance Ferguson, SF, Australia (6-foot-7, 185 pounds)
Ferguson is a bit of a gamble — he was a streaky shooter while playing 15.2 minutes per game for the Adelaide 36ers last season and is unpolished offensively. But he just turned 19 a month ago and boasts juicy upside if a team can unlock his potential.
8. OG Anunoby, SF, Indiana (6-foot-8, 235 pounds)
Add Anunoby to the growing list of guys who can’t be defined by a position. His offensive game needs work, but the English-born Nigerian forward boasts the length of an NBA center (7-foot-2 wingspan) and the quickness to match up with small forwards or guards.
9. Dwayne Bacon, SG, Florida State (6-foot-5, 200 pounds)
Bacon packs plenty of sizzle offensively, and his ability to get to the rim helped him average 17.2 points per game for the Seminoles last season. He doesn’t always make best decisions — he averaged two turnovers per game — but if he can clean it up, he could be a solid two-way player.
10. Semi Ojeleye, SF, SMU (6-foot-7, 235 pounds)
Ojeleye is another big body who can guard multiple positions and also can fill it up on the offensive end (18.9 points per game last season). He’ll turn 23 in December, though, and hasn’t exactly faced elite competition at SMU.
Thumbnail photo via Jay Biggerstaff/USA TODAY Sports Images
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