***2017–2018 Season Stats***
1. Chandler Hutchison 6–7, 197: Senior, SG, Boise State
a. 20 PPG
b. 7.7 RPG
c. 3.5 APG
Chandler Hutchison is a player that is flying under the radar coming into the 2018 NBA Draft. He has taken a huge leap in production in his Senior Season at Boise State. Freshman have made up much of the talent in recent drafts, but teams should not overlook the upperclassmen. Chandler is a great example of someone who has taken full advantage of his time in College, and it has shown. His numbers have increased drastically from his freshman and sophomore seasons to his junior and senior seasons. From averaging just 6.8 PPG, 4.1 RPG, and 1.3 APG his sophomore season, to averages of 20 PPG, 7.7RPG, and 3.5 APG in his final season with the Broncos. He may not be gaining notoriety from your favorite NBA team, but he has gotten some high praise from NBA Superstar Damian Lillard. One NBA GM told Lillard that Hutchison looks like a solid second round draft prospect to which Lillard responded “That’s what they said about me.” Dame definitely believes that Hutchison is going to be much more than a “Solid second round draft prospect.
2. Aaron Holiday 6–1, 185: Junior, PG/SG, UCLA
a. 20.3 PPG
b. 3.7 RPG
c. 5.8 APG
If I told you there would be 3 brothers in the NBA that have the opportunity to excel who is the first name that comes to mind. I’m sure most of you are thinking of the Ball family, but I am here to talk to you about the Holiday’s. Aaron is going to be the 3rd Holiday brother to bring his talents to the NBA, and the other 2 have already proven that they have what it takes to be solid players in the league. Aaron Holiday is a force in college basketball, and what some people may call a certified bucket. When Holiday is on his game, UCLA was capable of beating anyone. As we all know, they fell short in their play-in game to try and earn their spot into the first round of the tournament. Holiday had a great performance outside of his 10 turnovers which are a product of having the ball in his hands all the time and playing all 40 minutes of the game. Yes 10 is far too many especially in such a big game, but he finished with 20 points, 7 assists, and 5 rebounds which are right in line with his season averages. Holiday is an NBA ready guard who may not meet the height expectations of many scouts which is why he will slip in the draft. However, his slip will be the main reason why he is going to be a steal. Any team that lands Holiday will get a guy who can score the basketball. He knows how to put the ball in the hoop, and has the speed and quickness to be able to create his own shots at the next level. His two older brothers. Jrue, and Justin are already solid NBA talents, and Aaron looks to be following in their footsteps.
3. Kieta Bates-Diop 6–7, 235: Junior, PF, Ohio State
a. 19.9 PPG
b. 8.7 RPG
c. 1.6 APG
Bates-Diop has had a bit of a roller coaster ride 4 years of College basketball. In his freshman season, like most on this list, he didn’t play much, and his numbers projected that. In his sophomore season his points and minutes both shot up from 3.8 points in 10 minutes to 11.8 points in 31.5 minutes while grabbing 6.4 rebounds. His junior season saw another decline in minutes which resulted in a decrease in points and rebounds as well. Now, in his senior season he looks like he belongs in the conversation of a first or second round pick. In the early mock drafts, I saw before the Tournament he was a steady first round selection. All the sudden after the tournament, the latest mock drafts I have seen have him as the last pick in the draft. Pick 60. AKA “Mr. Irrelevant.” If he goes pick 60, then they are going to have to change the name of that not so coveted pick to “Mr. Steal of the draft.” If you recall, not so long ago, the “Mr. Irrelevant” or last pick in the draft turned out to be pretty good. He goes by the name of Isiah Thomas (LA Lakers, NOT Detroit Pistons). Although his Ohio State Buckeyes didn’t last long in the tournament, so we didn’t get to see much of him, their reason for going out was not on him at all. He played well in Tournament, especially in their first-round win against 12 seed South Dakota State. His height may make it difficult for him to play like he did in College, but he strikes me as a guy who can have that “Old Mans Game” and become a solid role player on a winning team.
4. Jalen Brunson 6–3, 190: Junior, PG, Villanova
a. 19.2 PPG
b. 3.1 RPG
c. 4.6 APG
This is a guy that I have rarely seen in the first round of all the mock drafts I have seen, and not even in the second round of the mocks that go that far. This is guy who knows how to win. He has been part of Villanova’s winning culture for 3 years now as they enter the final four of the NCAA Tournament yet again. Last season, and this season specifically, Brunson has absolutely made a case for College Basketball’s Naismith Player of the Year Award. Averaging 19.2 Points, 3.1 Rebounds, and 4.6 Assists per game, and leading his team to the final four after their disappointing second round exit last year has much to do with his play. He can score in so many ways; Off the bounce, back to the basket, in transition, and he is a very vocal leader on the court. If you watch one half of a Villanova game, the guy that will stick out most is Jalen Brunson. He rarely comes off the floor, and when he does you can see the difference in the style of Villanova’s play as well as their opponent. He is a bonified winner that has used his time in College wisely to advance his game and show NBA scouts that he can be the real deal. This is going to be a guy that teams look back on and kick themselves for passing up on him in the draft.
5. Jevon Carter 6–2, 205: Senior, PG/SG, West Virginia
a. 17.3 PPG
b. 4.6 RPG
c. 6.6 APG
Much like everyone else on this list of potential draft day steals, Jevon Carter has taken full advantage of his Collegiate Eligibility. His defensive upside alone is enough to have him on this list. But his offense has impressively improved throughout his time at West Virginia even though he uses a lot of his energy on the defensive side of the ball. Carter could potentially be a strong addition to any bench around the league with his defensive tenacity and basketball IQ. Another quality that makes Jevon a potential hidden gem in this draft is his winning mentality, and durability. In every one of his 4 years at West Virginia he averaged over 23 minutes per game. In addition to that, the West Virginia Mountaineers have made the NCAA tournament in all 4 of his seasons with them. Moving on to the next level, he can bring that winning mentality, and ability to be durable and play any minutes needed to become an invaluable NBA player.
***2017–2018 Season Stats***
1. Michael Porter Jr. 6–10, 215: Freshman, SF, Missouri
a. 10 PPG
b. 6.7 RPG
c. 0.3 APG
In my opinion, there are two key factors that will make or break Michael Porter Jr’s NBA career. The first being the injury concerns. Michael Porter Jr. missed all the regular season for Missouri before coming back in the 2nd round of the SEC tournament where he missed a go-ahead 3 with less than 20 seconds left. He did have a few moments in his games in the SEC Tournament and the NCAA March Madness Tournament where he looked like he could make some noise at the next level, but back injuries are serious and will require a lot of attention throughout the rigors of a full NBA regular season. The second key factor that could make or break Michael Porter Jr’s career would be the team that drafts him. If he gets drafted to a team without a system, or culture in place that suites him, I believe he will become a bust. He is someone who needs to have a good coach, and solid players around him that know how to get him the ball in advantageous positions. And Yes, he has shown to get his own shots in his limited time playing against College competition, but he is not a player who can do that every single time down the floor, especially with the lingering back issues which is the main reason why he is on this list.
2. Lonnie Walker IV 6–4, 192: Freshman, SG, Miami
a. 11.5 PPG
b. 2.6 RPG
c. 1.9 APG
We can all agree that the Loyola Chicago Story is a great one, but not for Lonnie Walker and his University of Miami Hurricanes. The Canes were the first victim of the Cinderella story that is the Loyola Chicago Ramblers. To make matters worse, Walker was at the free thrown line for a 1–1 opportunity that could have put Miami up by 3 in the closing seconds of the game. In great choking fashion, he misses the front end, and that was the beginning of a Cinderella, and the end to the NCAA Tournament for a lottery projected player in the upcoming draft. Now the entire game was not Walker’s fault, the Miami team as a collective threw away that game. Walker played nearly the entire 40 minutes and put up points and rebounds consistent with his season averages which are far from glamorous. Now obviously he’s not just on this list because of one performance on the big stage, but it has something to do with it. I’m the type of guy who likes to see prospects lead their teams far into their respective conference tournaments and ultimately into the late rounds of the NCAA Tournament. Of course, there are exceptions like Ben Simmons whose LSU Tigers weren’t even in the NCAA Tournament, and he got drafted 1st overall in the draft, but his game speaks for itself. This can also be said for Markelle Fultz who was not in the tournament and still got drafted 1 overall. No comment on his NBA career so far. All in all, I see Lonnie Walker becoming an Iman Shumpert lite type of player. Not because of the similar hair styles, but because of their body types, and overall game. He has shown that he can score with the best at times in College, but can he focus on his game in the NBA and improve in other areas that need to be improved to call himself a true NBA player and not a 1 and done bust.
3. Luka Dončić 6–6, 218: 19 Y/O, SG, Slovenia
a. 8.9 PPG
b. 4.1 RPG
c. 3.4 APG
Ever since I saw this guy in the top of all the mock drafts, looked up some of his videos on YouTube and forming my opinion on him, my feelings are still up in the air. On the one hand, he is a legit scorer from the guard position with legitimate size and length. He can create his own shot, as well as create for others. He has a pure shooting stroke with NBA range that looks like it will translate well in the league. However, there is the European stereotype that is holding me back from thinking he can excel in the NBA. Don’t get me wrong, I realize there have been, and will continue to be NBA superstars that come from overseas. Dirk, Yao, Kukoc, Manu, and many young players from overseas as well including Ben Simmons, Kristaps Porzingis, Lauri Markkanen, the lists go on. But for every superstar that comes over from abroad, there are 10 guys who make the transition that end up being overpowered, and ultimately out of the NBA as quickly as they got there. Then there are of course the role players that come from overseas who do become formidable NBA players, and that is kind of where I see Dončić. That’s why he ends up on this list in my opinion because if he amounts to just a role player at the NBA level, considering how high he is projected to be drafted, as well as the hype surrounding him the past 1 and a half to 2 years, then he must be considered a bust to some degree. Just like anyone on this list, I could be completely wrong, but I have yet to see anything in his highlight films that I haven’t seen before in an overseas prospect.
4. Mitchell Robinson 7–0, 223: 19 Y/O, PF/C, USA
Varsity Basketball Totals: 2 Seasons
a. 22.8 PPG
b. 12.6 RPG
c. 0.5 APG
Mitchell Robinson is the most unknown player in this draft in my opinion. Some may argue that the most unknown in the draft is one of the talented players coming from overseas, but at least we have tape of those guys playing against professional talent in the past year, rather than Mitchell who has taken a year off from organized, competitive basketball. You can watch his high school highlights until your eyes bleed, but ultimately that tells us nothing. The guys he is playing against in those highlights are nowhere near NBA or even College level talent. Although on paper he does look like a freak and has the attributes to become a dominate force in the NBA, but there is too much unknown about Mitchell Robinson right now for me to really buy the hype. This is the main reason why I have him on this list of potential NBA busts. I could be totally wrong about him, and could end up eating all of these words, but my gut is telling me that this guy is going to have a short, unproductive NBA career.
5. Trae Young 6–2, 180: Freshman, PG, Oklahoma
a. 27.4 PPG
b. 3.9 RPG
c. 8.7 APG
Trae Young was undoubtedly one of the most exciting players to watch in college basketball all season long. He has had hype surrounding him since high school. Through his exciting plays, and video game like stats, Trae Young quickly flew to the top of draft boards. He remained in the top 10, top 5 range of every mock draft up until their loss to Rhode Island in the opening game of the NCAA Tournament. Now all of a sudden, scouts are selling Trae Young stock like it is Stratton Oakmont in the movie “Wolf of Wall Street.” Recent mock drafts have him falling out of the lottery projections. Everyone is doubting his ability to be the shot making, shot creating scorer and passer in the NBA that he proved to be in College. He has range that puts Steph Curry to shame, and that is the person that his game has been compared to most. Ill be the first to admit that when Steph Curry came out of College, after his amazing run in the NCAA Tournament, I thought he was going to be a major bust. But look at how his career has turned out so far. I definitely see the Trae and Steph comparisons with respects to 3- point range, ball handling, and passing, but they are both defensive liabilities. Steph has worked to improve his defense so that opposing teams don’t take advantage of him as much, but the question is; Can Trae Young “Weather the storm” so to speak in respects to opposing teams attacking him on the defensive end. NBA teams are going to try and expose him in as many ways possible which could lead to reduced minutes, lost confidence, and ultimately an NBA bust story.
Honorable Mention Steals:
Devonte’ Graham 6–2, 185: Senior, PG, Kansas
Donte DiVincenzo 6–5, 205: Sophomore, SG, Villanova
Hamidou Diallo 6–5, 198: Freshman, SG, Kentucky
Moritz Wagner 6–11, 245: Junior, Pf/C, Michigan
Honorable Mention Busts:
Grayson Allen 6–5, 205: Senior, PG/SG, Duke
Wendell Carter Jr 6–10, 259: Freshman, PF/C, Duke
Robert Williams 6–10, 241: Sophomore, PF/C, Texas A&M
Chimezie Metu 6–11, 225: Junior, PF/C, USC