We’re just seven days away from the 2017 NBA Draft, which makes it the perfect time to trot our Liberty Ballers’ third (and likely final) big board for this year’s draft class. For just the fourth time since 2010, Markelle Fultz is LB’s consensus top player (John Wall, Anthony Davis and Karl-Anthony Towns are the others). After that, there’s very little consensus amongst our 11 writers.
Each staff member submitted their top-20 players, which we then compiled into a collective top 25. When calculating out the averages, any player who was not on an individual's list was given the value of 21. It’s worth noting this board is Sixers centric, meaning that each writer ranked these players with the team’s needs and fit in mind.
Here’s how it looks:
25. Harry Giles - C, Duke, 19 years old
Average ranking: 19.9 Ballots: 5/11
Matt Carey (ranked him 16th): Upside, upside, upside. Harry Giles was the No. 1 ranked high school recruit in the nation before he tore his ACL, an explosive athlete with the prototype physical tools for the modern NBA center. He didn’t look like the same player upon returning from the injury at Duke, but I thought towards the end of the season, he began to look like a serious threat again. He’s one of the top rebounders in the draft, and he was impressive as a rim protector when he was on. He’s a gamble, as he may never regain the explosiveness he once possessed, which would greatly reduce his ceiling, but if he does, you’re getting a high-lottery talent for the price of a piece of 76ers stationery autographed by Jerry Colangelo.
T-24. Dillon Brooks - SF, Oregon, 21 years old
Average ranking: 19.8 Ballots: 3/11
Marc Whittington (ranked him 14th): Brooks is one out of several guys I’m interested in the Sixers taking a stab at with their early 2nd round picks. His unassisted rim field goal attempts of 4.6 per 40 minutes (3.4 in the half court) were the best number of any wing this year. He’s a career 80 percent shooter from the line and 36 percent from deep, plus he functioned as Oregon’s point guard this year. He’ll never be a good defender, but his skills fit great next to our guys on offense, and he could develop into our version of Rodney Hood.
T-24. Justin Jackson - SF, North Carolina, 22 years old
Average ranking: 19.8 Ballots: 4/11
Jake Pavorsky (ranked him 16th): Justin Jackson is the rare case of a guy coming back to school and having it worked to his benefit. He went from shooting 29.2 percent from three on three attempts per game in his sophomore year to knocking down 37 percent of his threes on more than seven attempts per game in his junior year. That stat alone may have done enough to solidify him as a first-round pick. Jackson’s not particularly great at anything, but he’s morphed into good enough of a scorer that he could find a role in a Rockets like system. Questions surrounding his general athleticism will probably limit how large his role will be at the next level.
22. Sterling Brown - SG, SMU, 22 years old
Average ranking: 19.7 Ballots: 3/11
Roy Burton (ranked him 18th): Brown is a deadeye marksman whose 6-10 wingspan should assuage any fears about his less-than-ideal athleticism. Brown wasn't a high-volume shooter at SMU (2016-17 was the only season where he averaged more than 6 FGA per game), but he's a solid 3-and-D prospect who figures to settle in very nicely alongside the Sixers' current core. Brown likely won't hear his name called early on draft night, so while he's high on our big board, he should be around if and when the Sixers pick in the second round.
21. D.J. Wilson - PF, Michigan, 21 years old
Average ranking: 19.5 Ballots: 4/11
Shamus Clancy (ranked him 18th): While D.J. Wilson may be better suited as a four or five who has the ability to switch out and defend perimeter players in pick-and-roll situations, I’m still intrigued by how he’d fit on this Sixers team. He’s 6 foot 10 with a 7-foot-3 wingspan and worked primarily as a power forward in college. He can protect the rim a little bit, but I wonder about his potential defending guys outright on the perimeter or just in a positionless defensive lineup with the likes of Ben Simmons and Robert Covington. He also shot 37.3 percent from three on 110 attempts while making 83.3 percent of the 60 free throws he took. He may have enough “three” to go along with his “D” and excel in this league.
20. Ike Anigbogu - C, UCLA, 18 years old
Average ranking: 19.4 Ballots: 3/11
Max Rappaport (ranked him 11th): Ike Anigbogu might be my favorite player in this whole draft. I really mean that. Still just 18 years old, the SoCal native has everything you want in a defensive big man in 2017. Standing 6 foot 10 with a 7-foot-6-plus wingspan, he’s an absolute menace on the defensive end, where he uses his outstanding foot speed and mobility to break up pick-and-roll attempts and his 250-pound frame and raw strength to hold his own in the post.
At the rim he’s able to explode off the ground to alter shots and secure tough rebounds – he averaged 3.7 blocks and 12.4 boards per-40 as a freshman at UCLA. Anigbogu has broad shoulders and long legs, and he seems like somebody who could very comfortably add muscle to his frame as he grows into his body. Simply put, he looks the part.
Where he struggles is on the offensive end, where his contributions are limited to pick-and-roll finishes, dump-off jams, and the occasional put-back. He lacks touch from anywhere outside of a few feet of the hoop and shot just 53.5 percent from the free-throw line last season. Anigbogu reminds me a bit of Rockets stopper Clint Capela, and if the Sixers can secure another mid-to-late first – preferably via a Jahlil Okafor trade – he would be a worthy target.
19. Jordan Bell - PF/C, Oregon, 22 years old
Average ranking: 18.9 Ballots: 5/11
Kyle Neubeck (ranked him 18th): There’s a case to be made that he’s the most intriguing defensive player in the draft. If not for a weird disqualification during the shuttle drill at the NBA combine, he would have set a new standard for that portion of the athletic testing, and he showed he can use those tools to great effect with a Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year award this past season. He has the potential to be a devastating defensive player in a downsizing NBA, and though he would be a tough fit on a Sixers team packed in the front court, I’d be happy to take a gamble on him instead of some of the uninspiring players you see mocked in the back half of the first round.
18. T.J. Leaf - PF, UCLA, 20 years old
Average ranking: 18.3 Ballots: 5/11
Max Rappaport (ranked him 16th): As someone who seems like to like the idea of Lauri Markannen on the Sixers a lot more than anyone else, I’m gonna to have stan for my man TJ Leaf here. He doesn’t have the size – 6 foot 10 vs. 7 foot – nor the consistency – 54.0 percent true shooting vs. 64.0 percent – of the Arizona standout, but Leaf will still be a really nice pick up for someone in the early 20s this year.
A 46.6 percent three-point shooter in his lone season at UCLA, Leaf averaged 16.3 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 2.4 assists from the power forward position. The 20-year-old is a capable ball handler and playmaker and has the ability to contribute offensively in a lot of ways – finishing inside, facing up and driving or shooting over the defense, igniting transition, and spotting up in transition.
Leaf’s weakness as a defender is what holds him back from being a late-lottery pick. His lackluster foot speed, below-the-rim style, and mediocre awareness/technique make him at best a wash on that end of the floor and at worst a liability. If a team feels confident it can mold him as a defender, he has decent value as a stretch four in today’s NBA.
17. Luke Kennard - SG, Duke, 20 years old
Average ranking: 17.3 Ballots: 6/11
Shamus Clancy (ranked him 16th): The Sixers have had a dearth of shooting on their roster since…well, forever it seems. Luke Kennard can shoot the hell out of the ball. He shot 43.8 percent from three as a sophomore at Duke on 201 attempts to go along with the 85.6 percent he shot from the free throw line on 187 attempts. Combine that with the 88.9 percent he shot from the line as a freshman and I’m inclined to think his shot is for real. He wouldn’t be of much help defensively, but if the Sixers are able to have an elite defense center around Joel Embiid when Nik Stauskas is on the court, I can’t imagine that Kennard would hurt them anymore than that.
16. Derrick White - SG, Colorado, 22 years old
Average ranking: 17 Ballots: 8/11
Jake Hyman (ranked him 11th): In April, Bryan Colangelo mentioned wanting to acquire complementary guards through this year’s draft. If the Sixers aren’t able to land Fultz or Ball, taking a flier on Colorado combo guard Derrick White could be an option later on in the draft. White’s offensive skill set pairs well with Ben Simmons; he’s able to catch-and-shoot (39.6 percent from 3) and score from every level on the court while his 6-foot-5 frame helps on pull-up jumpers and locating teammates in the half court.
Boasting a 62.7 true shooting percentage last season, trailing just Lonzo Ball and Luke Kennard among draft projected guards who totaled 1,000 or more minutes, White could fill a role as an off-ball scoring guard entering the league at 23. Limited athleticism puts a cap on his NBA ceiling and he’s not a reliable defender, but Philadelphia’s playmakers would welcome White and his offensive ability.
T-15. Josh Hart - SG, Villanova, 22 years old
Average ranking: 16 Ballots: 7/11
Jake Pavorsky (ranked him 17th): Hart’s not particularly great at one specific thing, but his game is very well rounded. He’s a consistent three-point shooter, an impressively good rebounder for a guard and an above-average defender. Hart’s biggest problem is that he’s not a tremendous athlete, and his vertical numbers at the combine were not pretty. UNC’s Kennedy Meeks has 45 pounds on Hart, and he still managed a better standing vertical leap. Athletic issues aside, Hart’s a heady enough player to carve out a niche role in the league. He’s too solid across the board to flame out of the league entirely.
T-15. Jawun Evans - PG, Oklahoma State, 20 years old
Average ranking: 16 Ballots: 7/11
Mike Levin (ranked him 12th): This is not a Kay Felder thing. This isn’t small guy on a bad team who just cooks at whatever cost. He’s a legitimate pick and roll nightmare that can get to the rim at will. He doesn’t have Dennis Smith’s athleticism when he gets there, but he has enough craftiness with floaters and body control once he’s among the trees. A few lob threats would help. He’d be devastating off the catch and able to run the offense when Ben Simmons & TJ McConnell are down. The size is obviously an issue on defense, but he’s solid and he gets his hands on balls to make things happen. I think he’s a real NBA player and if the Sixers found a way to package some of the seconds to get up into the 20s, I’d love Evans to be the target.
13. Zach Collins - C, Gonzaga, 19 years old
Average ranking: 15.4 Ballots: 8/11
Jake Fischer (ranked Collins outside his top 20): This young fella might very well be the best big man prospect in the draft. He does everything you want in a modern day center. Collins can switch out and show on ball handlers and was an elite rim protector at Gonzaga, swatting 4.1 shots per 40 minutes; he crashed the glass, draining 74.3 percent of his free throws, and flashed an encouraging outside stroke. He shot 47.6% on 21 attempts from deep. There's really no telling how reliable his jumper will be from NBA distance, but if you're convinced Collins can become an All-Star level center, bringing multifaceted skills on both ends of the floor, it's hard to argue with you.
12. OG Anunoby - SF, Indiana, 19 years old
Average ranking: 13 Ballots: 10/11
Brandon Gowton (ranked him 11th): Standing at 6 foot 8 with a 7-foot-6 wingspan, it’s hard not to love this 19-year-old’s defensive potential. Anunoby is capable of driving to the hoop and throwing down some monster jams on people in traffic. He’s not a bad shooter either. This is the kind of guy with tools and frame worth gambling on.
11. Lauri Markkanen - PF, Arizona, 20 years old
Average ranking: 12.4 Ballots: 11/11
Kyle Neubeck (ranked him 12th): Markkanen has an elite skill at his height, which is enough to keep him in the mid-lotto, but it would be hard to build an archetype I have more disdain for. He’s seven feet tall and plays like a guard, and not in a good way. Theoretically he would be the floor-spacing four Colangelo wants, but I don’t want any big man who isn’t a defender or a rebounder, and the only reason he’s even this high is because I think the middle of this draft is a wasteland.
10. Donovan Mitchell - SG, Louisville, 20 years old
Average ranking: 10 Ballots: 11/11
Jake Pavorsky (ranked him 11th): I haven’t felt this passionate about a mid-first round talent since Rodney Hood in 2014. Mitchell’s cut from that Avery Bradley cloth, a solid two-way guard who can handle and shoot while also playing lockdown defense. Perhaps the only thing to question about his game is his shot selection - he knocked down just 40.8 percent of his field goal attempts on more than 13 shots per game. But he’s built like an NBA-ready player and strokes it like one. He could end up being the steal of the draft. If the Sixers pull off that hypothetical trade with the Sacramento Kings for picks five and 10, I’d give Mitchell a very hard look with that second pick.
9. De’Aaron Fox - PG, Kentucky, 19 years old
Average ranking: 9.6 Ballots: 10/11
Mike Levin (ranked him 9th): I pity the decision-makers here, because there’s no mystery to Fox’s game — he either shoots or he doesn’t. If he never shoots, he’s borderline unplayable. If he does, he’s Mike Conley. That’s high variance! And everybody who’s even heard of De’Aaron Fox knows that’s the issue. There is nothing deeper than that (concerns about his frame are whatever). He’s a smart, high character workhorse that competes on both ends. But in the NBA today, especially at point guard, either you shoot or you don’t. And all scouts, coaches, and execs can do is guess if he’ll get good at it. I have no idea if he will! Neither do you! What a weird decision that, regardless, will get many executives fired. Oh, and yeah the Sixers can’t pick him under any circumstances.
8. Frank Ntilikina - PG, Strasbourg (France), 18 years old
Average ranking: 8 Ballots: 11/11
Jake Fischer (ranked him 7th): French Frank has all the tools. At 6 foot 5 with an interminable wingspan, the dude is going to gobble up opposing point guards for years and years to come. But offensively, he might be the biggest question mark in the draft. Scouts I've talked to around the league are very wary of his limited ability to create off the dribble, and some have questioned the sample size of his jumper. He's certainly intriguing, and the potential is too great to pass on at a certain point in the draft, but I'd rather take less heralded prospects like Jawun Evans and Frank Jackson if I'm the Sixers.
7. Jayson Tatum - SF, Duke, 19 years old
Average ranking: 7.6 Ballots: 11/11
Matt Carey (ranks him 3rd): Tatum is one of the most polished offensive players in the draft, and I’m a believer that he could develop into an average to above average defender as well in Brett Brown’s system. I’m far more confident in Tatum, an 85 percent free throw shooter, becoming an above average three point shooter than I am with, say, Josh Jackson becoming an average one. I think he’s been typecast as “the unathletic guy”, and while doesn’t have the explosive athleticism of a Jackson or Malik Monk, he’s a more well-rounded basketball player than either of them with plenty of upside. Isolation scorers are out of vogue in the NBA, but while Tatum excels as an isolation scorer, that’s not all he is. Tatum is an ultra-talented basketball player who would give the Sixers a scoring threat they so desperately need, while not creating a liability on the other end of the floor.
T-6. Malik Monk - SG, Kentucky, 19 years old
Average ranking: 5.5 Ballots: 11/11
Brandon Gowton (ranks him 2nd): To be honest, I considered putting Monk No. 1 on my Sixers specific big board. Fultz is obviously the better all-around player, but I just really want the Sixers to land Monk. His combination of shooting and athleticism makes him a perfect fit for Philadelphia. The dude gets buckets. ESPN’s analytics give him the second lowest bust rate of this year’s class while CPR rates him as the best prospect in this year’s class.
T-6. Jonathan Isaac - SF, Florida State, 19 years old
Average ranking: 5.5 Ballots: 11/11
Shamus Clancy (ranked him 2nd): Assuming Markelle Fultz is off the board, Jonathan Isaac should be the guy for the Sixers. He has ideal size and length at 6 foot 11 with a 7-foot-1 wingspan to be the versatile defender teams crave in today’s NBA. Just ask the Cavaliers how much they’d love to be able to throw Isaac and his defense in this past Finals series instead of their washed up bench. Isaac can’t create his own shot yet, but on a team with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid as primary initiators, that shouldn’t be that big of an issue, allowing him to just make catch-and-shoot threes on offense while wreaking havoc on defense.
4. Dennis Smith Jr. - PG, NC State, 19 years old
Average ranking: 4.6 Ballots: 11/11
Marc Whittington (ranked him 2nd): This is our guy, dudes. Smith is the most explosive point guard in the class (y’all have seen this dunk right?), and he pairs that with high-level creation, driving, and shotmaking. While he wasn’t known as a shooter in high school, he shot 35 percent from three-point land, with more than half of those attempts coming unassisted, off the dribble. He clearly has NBA range, as he converted frequently from well beyond the college 3-point line Smith has the best chance (non-Fultz division) of being the 3rd superstar the Sixers want to pair with Simmons & Embiid.
3. Josh Jackson - SF, Kansas, 19 years old
Average ranking: 3.9 Ballots: 11/11
Jake Pavorsky (ranked him 3rd): I go back and forth every day if Jackson or Ball is the second best player in this class. Ultimately I have Jackson third, but I think his bust potential is certainly lower than Ball’s. He does everything well but shoot. He can attack the rim off the dribble, moves the ball extremely well for a wing his age, and will defend multiple positions at the next level. There’s very little to not like about him. His jump shot will probably be the difference between him becoming an All-NBA player or Justise Winslow, but if we spit the difference and assume he ends up like Andre Iguodala, that’s a pretty great player.
2. Lonzo Ball - G, UCLA, 19 years old
Average ranking: 3.3 Ballots: 11/11
Kyle Neubeck (ranked him 4th): I like Ball well enough, but I just can’t shake some of the concerns I have about him translating to the next level. I don’t generally want to take a guard in the top three whose handle I’m not convinced by, especially when Ball’s shaky dribble-drive game comes attached to a weird release on his jumper. If I’m going to draft someone in the top-three who realistically can’t be a No. 1 option on offense --and that applies to all the non-Fultz guys -- I would rather gamble on players who I think can have a bigger impact on the game defensively. That said, he’s one of the most fascinating prospects of my lifetime, and I look forward to seeing how his career plays out.
1. Markelle Fultz - G, Washington, 19 years old
Average ranking: 1 Ballots: 11/11
Roy Burton (ranked him 1st): There wasn't any debate on this, and with good reason: Markelle Fultz is clearly the No. 1 prospect in this draft class. Ignore any concerns that you may have about him not leading his team to the tournament (see Simmons, Ben): Fultz is in a tier by himself and is the best player that the Sixers can wind up with on June 22. Full stop. Fultz can play either on or off the ball, he's a proven scorer at all three levels, and if his next head coach can press the right buttons, he has all of the tools to be a plus-defender. Fultz might be the only player in this class who projects to be a multiple-time All-Star - sadly, he (likely) won't be on the board when Bryan Colangelo and co. are on the clock.
Liberty Ballers final big board for 2017
|Marc||Max||Jake F||Jake P||Shamus||Kyle||Matt||Jake H||Mike||Roy||Brandon|
|Marc||Max||Jake F||Jake P||Shamus||Kyle||Matt||Jake H||Mike||Roy||Brandon|
|Markelle Fultz||Markelle Fultz||Markelle Fultz||Markelle Fultz||Markelle Fultz||Markelle Fultz||Markelle Fultz||Markelle Fultz||Markelle Fultz||Markelle Fultz||Markelle Fultz|
|Dennis Smith Jr.||Lonzo Ball||Lonzo Ball||Lonzo Ball||Jonathan Isaac||Josh Jackson||Lonzo Ball||Josh Jackson||Dennis Smith||Lonzo Ball||Malik Monk|
|Lonzo Ball||Dennis Smith Jr.||Malik Monk||Josh Jackson||Lonzo Ball||Jonathan Isaac||Jayson Tatum||Lonzo Ball||Jonathan Isaac||Josh Jackson||Jonathan Isaac|
|Jayson Tatum||Josh Jackson||De'Aaron Fox||Jonathan Isaac||Frank Ntilikina||Lonzo Ball||Josh Jackson||Jonathan Isaac||Josh Jackson||Dennis Smith Jr.||Josh Jackson|
|Jonathan Isaac||Malik Monk||Dennis Smith Jr.||Frank Ntilikina||Josh Jackson||Dennis Smith Jr.||Dennis Smith Jr.||Dennis Smith Jr.||Donovan Mitchell||Malik Monk||Dennis Smith Jr|
|Josh Jackson||Jonathan Isaac||Josh Jackson||Malik Monk||Dennis Smith Jr.||Malik Monk||Malik Monk||Frank Ntilikina||Malik Monk||Jonathan Isaac||Lonzo Ball|
|Malik Monk||De'Aaron Fox||Frank Ntilikina||Jayson Tatum||Donovan Mitchell||Jayson Tatum||Jonathan Isaac||Malik Monk||Frank Ntilikina||Jayson Tatum||Donovan Mitchell|
|Josh Hart||Frank Ntilikina||Jonathan Isaac||Lauri Markkanen||Malik Monk||Frank Ntilikina||Frank Ntilikina||Jayson Tatum||Lonzo Ball||De'Aaron Fox||Jayson Tatum|
|Zach Collins||Lauri Markkanen||Donovan Mitchell||Dennis Smith Jr.||Jayson Tatum||De'Aaron Fox||Lauri Markkanen||De'Aaron Fox||De’Aaron Fox||Frank Ntilikina||De'Aaron Fox|
|Derrick White||Jayson Tatum||Jayson Tatum||De'Aaron Fox||De’Aaron Fox||OG Anunoby||DeAaron Fox||OG Anunoby||OG Anunoby||Lauri Markkanen||Frank Ntilikina|
|Jawun Evans||Ike Anigbogu||Jawun Evans||Donovan Mitchell||OG Anunoby||Donovan Mitchell||Donovan Mitchell||Derrick White||Jayson Tatum||Donovan Mitchell||OG Anunoby|
|Jordan Bell||Donovan Mitchell||Lauri Markkanen||OG Anunoby||Josh Hart||Lauri Markkanen||Zach Collins||Lauri Markkanen||Jawun Evans||OG Anunoby||Josh Hart|
|Donovan Mitchell||Zach Collins||Luke Kennard||Luke Kennard||Jawun Evans||Jawun Evans||Luke Kennard||Zach Collins||Sindarius Thornwell||Zach Collins||Jawun Evans|
|Dillon Brooks||Justin Patton||DJ Wilson||Semi Ojeyele||Derrick White||Josh Hart||OG Anunoby||Donovan Mitchell||Josh Hart||Terrance Ferguson||Zach Collins|
|Sterling Brown||OG Anunoby||T.J. Leaf||T.J. Leaf||Lauri Markkanen||Luke Kennard||TJ Leaf||Josh Hart||Frank Jackson||T.J. Leaf||Lauri Markkanen|
|Frank Ntilikina||TJ Leaf||Terrence Ferguson||Justin Jackson||Luke Kennard||Zach Collins||Harry Giles||Jordan Bell||Sterling Brown||Dillon Brooks||Luke Kennard|
|OG Anunoby||Jonathan Jeanne||Derrick White||Josh Hart||Zach Collins||Derrick White||DJ Wilson||Caleb Swanigan||Jordan Bell||Derrick White||Ike Anigbogu|
|Sindarius Thornwell||Justin Jackson||Caleb Swanigan||Jarrett Allen||D.J. Wilson||Jordan Bell||Justin Jackson||Ike Anigbogu||Lauri Markkanen||Sterling Brown||Justin Jackson|
|Lauri Markkanen||Bam Adebayo||Edmond Sumner||Justin Patton||Jordan Bell||D.J. Wilson||Tyler Lydon||Harry Giles||Derrick White||Harry Giles||Derrick White|
|Tyler Dorsey||Harry GIles||Semi Ojeyele||Frank Jackson||Rodions Kurucs||Harry Giles||Justin Patton||Jawun Evans||LJ Peak||Caleb Swanigan||Dillon Brooks|