Sunday, May 28, 2017


Tom Keegan: Six prospects stand above rest in NBA draft

Kansas guard Josh Jackson (11) dunks against UNLV during the first half, Thursday, Dec. 22, 2016 at Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.

Kansas guard Josh Jackson (11) dunks against UNLV during the first half, Thursday, Dec. 22, 2016 at Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.


The one-and-done college basketball culture created by the NBA, which wanted a free look at top prospects competing for a year against college competition, decreases the chances of completing whiffing with the first pick of the draft.

Still, it’s far from a guarantee. (Before reading about a recent bust, a word of caution to those who suffer from tetraphobia: Don’t read the next paragraph.)

Just four years ago, the Cleveland Cavaliers selected Anthony Bennett No. 1 overall after his freshman season at UNLV. Bennett appeared in 151 games in four NBA seasons for four different teams and averaged 4.4 points. In his first four NBA games, he scored two points and went 0 for 15 from the field.

The Brooklyn Nets became the third team to release Bennett, now playing in Turkey for Fenerbahce Istanbul. In 10 games, he’s averaging 1.2 points per game.

One of Bennett’s quotes from draft night should have sounded an alarm. He explained why he didn’t start playing basketball until the age of 11 or 12: “I just started growing and everyone said, ‘You should probably play basketball.’ So I said, ‘All right. I’ll give it a shot.’ ”

He took up the game because of the love others who wish they had his size had for basketball. It’s a common tale with tall men who fall shy of expectations.

The six best prospects in this year’s deep, fascinating draft all play on the perimeter, so the chances of a big flop are minimal.

The top six, in alphabetical order: Lonzo Ball (UCLA), De’Aaron Fox (Kentucky), Markelle Fultz (Washington), Josh Jackson (Kansas), Malik Monk (Kentucky) and Jayson Tatum (Duke).

Fultz, a 6-foot-4 point guard blessed with a soft shooting touch and a 7-foot wingspan, tops just about every mock draft, but I'm not buying it. The Huskies went 9-24. Duke, Kansas, Kentucky and UCLA combined to lose 25 games.

Fultz showed no interest in playing defense in college. If he's rewarded by hearing his name called first, what's his incentive to start playing it now? Jackson's the smart choice.


Brian Leslie 1 year ago

If Boston decides they want Jackson, they should trade picks with Philly and get some assets back. Fultz is perfect for Philly's needs.

Dirk Medema 1 year ago

TK - You should assign someone the task of finding the text gremlin. They snuck in and ate the second half of the article again.

As for Bennett, wasn't that the weakest draft ever? That being said there was probably a perennial all star picked behind him.

Eliott Reeder 1 year ago

Giannis the Greek Freak went #15 in that draft. It was a weird year.

Suzi Marshall 1 year ago

tetraphobia ....?

Totally on board Josh Jackson is the best pick. Regardless, I'm hoping he goes to Philly but Boston would be a cool place as well, especially considering he's filling the Paul Pierce slot.

Don Everett 1 year ago

As much as I love Josh, he will be very good and hope he goes #1, check back in a few years TK, Fultz will be a star in the NBA.

Harlan Hobbs 1 year ago

I agree with Mr. Keegan. Barring injury, Josh will have the best career of all those listed in the article. He's the most complete and versatile player in the bunch.

Tracey Graham 1 year ago

It doesn't matter if you as a reporter buy it. All the "experts" love Fultz. He will almost definitely be the #1 overall pick. It isn't his fault that his team stunk. There are a lot of very good NBA players who didn't play on good college teams.

A different question is which player from this draft will wnd up becoming the best pro. It is far from guaranteed that the #1 pick wil turn out to be the best player. Look at the 2016 Draft -- the #1 pick (Ben Simmons) hasn't even played in the NBA yet. The finalists for Rookie of Year the finalists are 2 guys who were drafted back in 2014 (Embiid, Saric) plus a guy who was taken with the #36 overall pick in last year's draft (Brogdon). You mentioned bennett -- the best player to come out of that 2013 was Giannis Antetokounpo -- who was taken with the #15 pick. Even when the #1 overall pick turns out to be a very good pro, there could be someone even better to come out of that draft -- for example, take the 2008 Draft -- Derrick Rose was the #1 overall pick. Russell Westbrook was the #4 pick. If they did a do over for that draft, chances are Westbrook, not Rose, would go #1.

If I were a basketball player, i'd care more about becoming the best player and about landing with a team that would be the best fit for m than about where I was drafted. I might make less money starting out, but if I became a great player, I could make up that money with little trouble.

Humpy Helsel 1 year ago

I agree. I think Josh will go #1. Your reasons are of merit.

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