It’s that time of year again. March is fully underway and so is the tournament! With the festivities starting Thursday it’s time to take a look at some of the top NBA prospects coming out this year. The projected number one overall pick, Ben Simmons, will miss the tournament and that means there are several names who could make a push and increase their draft stock. The other prospects may not be able to take Simmons spot at one, but they sure can make a statement. Let’s take a look at some of those names.
Brandon Ingram, Forward, Duke
Brandon Ingram was always considered the obvious second choice after Simmons, but could Ingram make a case for number one? My answer is of course he can. Scouts pretty much assumed that Simmons was a lock for number one. A lot questions and concerns about Simmons have surfaced since that time. Ingram demonstrated several things over the course of his freshman year at Duke. The thing that really jumps out at you is his length. The 6’9″ wing is extremely versatile. He’s a lethal threat on the scoring end and a lockdown defender on the other side of the court. This kid has an incredible wingspan of 7’3″ and knows how to use it. Another thing that impressed several people was the accuracy of his shot from deep. People have been comparing him to Kevin Durant and Kevin Garnett since he arrived at Duke and although he may not be as good as those guys, he sure does have the potential to be. I personally believe Ingram could make a strong case for the number one pick. Even if he can’t manage to do that, he could still lockup the spot at number two.
Jamal Murray, Guard, Kentucky
The Canadian born guard took his talents to Lexington when he signed with Kentucky and hasn’t looked back yet. Jamal Murray has been putting on a clinic on the later half of the season. Murray has established himself as the top guard prospect and also has become the latest star to emerge from under Coach Calipari. Kentucky always makes a solid run in the tournament and someone on those teams normally has an exceptional tournament. Karl Anthony-Towns did it last year and I believe it’s Jamal Murray’s turn this year. If you watched Murray before, you know he’s confident. Murray dazzled basketball fans last summer at the Pan Am games. His three-point accuracy is what really sets him apart. He can create his shot off the dribble and off the catch and shoot. He’s also a very aggressive driver when he’s going to the rack. Several NBA scouts are worried about his defense though. This is something Murray must improve on, especially in the tournament. I wouldn’t be surprised if Murray made a case for number two. It’s very hard to pass up on talents like Simmons or Ingram, but NBA teams who are interested in an elite guard should be watching Murray.
Kris Dunn, Guard, Providence
Providence and Kris Dunn have had some ups and downs this season but that doesn’t diminish Dunn’s value as a future NBA point guard. Dunn is the best point guard in this years draft and he has the talent to prove it. He has amazing court vision, something that you love and want in your starting point guard. Something that is overlooked with Dunn’s game is his defense. John Wall is the best comparison for this guy. He may not be as good as Wall was his freshman year at Kentucky, but the attributes he needs are there. Dunn is a pass-first point guard although he can be an aggressive scorer. The main concern with Dunn’s game is how inconsistent is three-point shot is. He’s shooting 34 percent from deep and 37 percent for this whole time at Providence. It would be amazing to see him turn that around in the tournament. An NBA team in need of a pass-first point guard will surely take him if he’s still on the board.
Jaylen Brown, Forward, California University
This draft class is filled with wings and Jaylen Brown is one of the best ones out. Cal has made it’s way to the big dance and they’re going to need Brown to step it up. He struggled a lot during the Pac-12 tournament and it’s going to be very interesting to see how he bounces back from that. Brown is a very gifted player and he shows it when he drives it to the basket. His speed on the fast break is unreal and his ability to finish is even crazier.
The versatility this guy shows is one of the main reasons he should be drafted in the top five. He’s a lockdown defender and he’s quick to get back to the basket on a fast break. He’s drawn comparisons to Kawhi Leonard and I would say that’s his ceiling.
The way Brown handles himself in the tournament will really play into his draft stock. People that have watched Brown play before know he can turn it on, it’s just when will that happen. For the Golden Bears, that needs to happen immediately.
Ivan Rabb, Forward, California
Another projected lottery pick out of Cal, Ivan Rabb has been stepping up to the plate recently. He finished with 21 points and 15 rebounds against Oregon State on March 10th. He’s an outstanding rebounder and very efficient in the paint. His footwork is so impressive. It’s pretty crazy to think this guy is only 19. He’s athletic and has a really smooth jumper. He’s very good at driving to basket and just as good at defending the rim. He’s averaging just about a double-double so far this season with 12.5 points per game and 8.5 rebounds per game. If Jaylen Brown and Ivan Rabb catch fire in the tournament, watch out for Cal. I believe they have ability to make a solid run in the tournament and increase their draft stock as well.
Buddy Hield, Guard, Oklahoma
Good ol’ Buddy Hield has been blowing the minds of college basketball fans all year. Now Buddy is going to the tournament and shortly after he’ll be going to the NBA. I’d imagine Buddy is pretty upset after the half-court shot for the win against West Virginia didn’t count. I think he is going to come out swinging in their first game. He’s an extremely talented shooter and pretty athletic. My favorite part about his game is his ability to create a shot. His flashy handles and his accurate jumper form to create something that will help him translate his game over to the NBA fairly easily. He has proven to be a lethal scorer and a very accurate three-point marksman. Just like I’ve said with every other prospect, his stock will increase if Oklahoma has a good run. Several NBA teams are looking for an elite two guard so it won’t be hard for him to find a home when it comes time to go to the NBA.
The names of people ready to dazzle the world goes on and on. Players are ready to enjoy the end of their college career and make their transition to the NBA. This March is going to get hectic and the draft in June is going to be just as good.