With the playoffs upon us, the top teams are laser-focused on the Larry O’Brien Trophy.
But the rest are starting to turn their attention to the NBA Draft Lottery and with it – the NBA Draft.
Now that the College Basketball season is over, the top prospects of what many believe is a loaded draft are becoming clearer.
These are the 5 freshmen that are ready to come into the league and make an immediate impact.
On most big boards, Fultz has been ranked as the No. 1 draft pick and with good reason. The freshman point guard looked NBA-ready in his one season with the Washington Huskies. Averaging 23.2 points, 5.7 rebounds and 5.9 assists, Fultz led the Pac-12 in scoring on a team that finished the season with a 9-22 record and won just two games in their conference. At 6’4” with a 6’10” wingspan, his size and length provides flexibility for teams as he can play as the primary ball handler and cause smaller point guards trouble or on the wings.
Despite the media circus being caused by his father, Ball is still one of the best prospects to come out of UCLA since Russell Westbrook and Kevin Love. Another one-and-done, the 6’6” point guard has been nothing but impressive in his time with the Bruins. He’s shown elite court vision while playing a style of basketball that promotes unselfishness and becomes infectious to his teammates.
Ball led the Pac-12 in assists with 7.7 while averaging 14.6 points per game. He’s an efficient shooter from the field, shooting at 55.1% and 41.3% from deep. One of the most intriguing things about Ball is his father’s desire with his own to get drafted to the Los Angeles Lakers. Ball even said in an interview on ESPN’s SportsNation that he’d prefer being drafted to the Lakers over being the No. 1 pick.
Coming out of Kansas, the Big 12 Freshman of the Year has cemented his place as one of the best freshman in the country. At 6’8”, he has enough size to play many positions in the NBA, including as a small-ball power forward, but at 92kg, he may be a bit light to compete with some of the bigger bodies of the NBA. Jackson is the best two-way prospect in this draft and has shown he’s able to guard 1-4 in college. One of the biggest issues with Jackson is his free throws, as he shot just 56.6% from the free throw line this season and his shooting mechanics may need some work to get to an NBA level.
With all the talk about Fultz, Ball and Monk, Tatum has flown under the radar as a top draft pick. The 6’8” freshman small forward averaged 16.8 points and 7.3 rebounds in his lone season for the Duke Blue Devils. Tatum finds most of his points in isolation, proving to be either too big or too fast for most defenders. He’s also highly skilled for his size and can create space for shots with ease. Tatum is solid defensively, but could be troubled by some of the bigger and faster players in the NBA.
Freshman combo guard Malik Monk led Kentucky in scoring with 19.8 points per game as the Wildcats made it to the Elite Eight in the NCAA Tournament. At 6’4”, Monk has the combination of skill and size to either run the point or play on the wings. A devastating scorer, Monk’s 754 points set a school record for a freshman and included a 47-point performance against eventual National Champion, North Carolina. He can hurt you off the dribble and with spot ups, shooting 49.7% from the field and 39.7% on threes. His defence is lacking, which hurts his draft stock but is still among the best in a loaded draft class.