The NBA Draft is here, and so are the annual draft superlatives! Take a look at superlatives that both Daniel Lewis and Ryan Blackburn discussed leading up to the selections.
Most likely to succeed
Lewis: My pick is Markelle Fultz. Of all the prospects in the draft, I think he has the highest upside and highest probability of earning a trip to an All-Star Game. He has such a great combination of basketball IQ, physical tools, and personality. I’m excited to watch him play in the NBA for a long time.
Blackburn: Markelle Fultz is my pick as well. He’s going to be put in the best position to succeed in Philadelphia. He had defensive protection in Joel Embiid, another quality ball handler in Ben Simmons, and NOT being stuck in the Boston rotation. Fultz will play heavy minutes and develop his game slowly in Philly, but he’s going to be really good folks.
Most likely to bust
Blackburn: My pick is Lauri Markannen. He could very well bust and still be a quality perimeter shooter. The problem? He may not do anything else to stay on the floor.
Lewis: My pick is Frank Ntilikina. While he’s the best international prospect, there’s just a lot that could go wrong with a young point guard that wasn’t one of the best players in Europe to begin with. So much of his success I think is predicated on which team selects him, and how much responsibility is given to him early in his career. I almost wish he could get stashed in Europe for three years before coming over to the NBA, but that’s unlikely.
Lewis: I feel like everybody forgot how good of a role player Nigel Hayes can be. When he was at Wisconsin with Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker, he was great! When he was asked to be the lead player, he wasn’t great. He’s never going to be a lead player in the NBA, but that doesn’t fit his profile anyways. I’m hoping a NBA team (maybe even the Nuggets) remembers what Hayes used to be and takes a gamble that he can be that great of a role player again.
Blackburn: My pick is Devin Robinson. Robinson was the defender of opposing point guards at Florida because of his intriguing skill set. If he continues to add bulk and work on his shot (already shot 39% from 3 last season), then he will be a quality rotation player for many years.
Blackburn: Lonzo Ball is the best passer. He’s on another level in this draft. Next.
Lewis: He doesn’t have quite the same court vision as Lonzo Ball, but Monte Morris deserves some respect. Morris finished his career at Iowa State with a 4.65 assist to turnover ratio, and is the ALL-TIME LEADER IN NCAA HISTORY. There has never been anyone better at passing the ball to teammates in scoring position without turning the ball over than he has been. He’s a legend.
Lewis: I’m going to go out of the top 10 for this and say Caleb Swanigan. He is an incredible force on the offensive glass, has a great post game, can make midrange shots, and shot 44 percent on 85 3-point attempts his sophomore year at Purdue. With his size (height and weight), footwork, and touch, it’s just so easy for him to get points. He’ll be fun to watch in Summer League, where opponents won’t have the physical ability to stop him. Vegas Shaq.
Blackburn: Scoring wise, it has to be a solid combination of efficiency and volume, so I’m going with Fultz. The Washington guard is drawing James Harden comparisons for a reason, and his ability to generate space and shoot at tough angles is second to none in this class. If his shooting is for real, which is looks to be, then he will be able to score efficiently at all three levels.
Blackburn: I’m going with Luke Kennard. That kid can splash from everywhere. He will be one of the best shooters in the NBA in five years, drawing J.J. Redick and Kyle Korver comparisons for many years.
Lewis: This might be a darkhorse pick, but I’m going with Lauri Markkanen. If you watched the Finals, you know how hard it is to stop a 7-footer with range from 25 feet. That’s what Markkanen has! He’s an elite shooter from distance, and at his height, it’s going to be so difficult to block his shot. It wouldn’t surprise me if he averaged 20 points a night if a team gives him enough opportunities.
Lewis: This prospect has really tumbled down draft boards, but I’m going with Ivan Rabb. Rabb has always, in my opinion, had a great basketball IQ, especially when it comes to rebounding. He isn’t the tallest guy on the court, or the most explosive, but he knows where to be, how physical to be, and how to get his hands on the ball when it’s in his area. While he hasn’t delivered on the potential he had coming out of high school, I do think he’ll be successful in the NBA as a third or fourth big who can finish defensive possessions by securing the rebound.
Blackburn: If healthy, I’m going with Harry Giles. He’s an athletic specimen who will potentially be one of the best players or worst players in this class. There’s no doubt in my mind though, if he sets his mind to rebounding and stays healthy, he could be one of the most dominant.
Blackburn: My pick is Jordan Bell. He doesn’t have the size desired in a rebounder, but he’s one of the most instinctual shot blockers to come out of the draft in some time.
Lewis: My pick is Jordan Bell. It remains to be seen whether he’ll be able to have similar success in the NBA as he did while playing NCAA basketball, but he just has so much explosiveness to the ball once it’s in the air. He has an uncanny ability to time his jump to intercept the ball before it starts to fall.
Lewis: My pick is Josh Jackson. While other players may have more impressive physical tools, Jackson’s attitude on the court is what sets him apart for me. It’s not just that he is capable of shutting down scorers, it’s that it seems like he derives so much pleasure from it. He’s like a bull that knows he’s capable of bucking off every rider, and will stand there and stare afterwards once the rider is on the ground. He knows he’s good, he knows he bested you, and there’s nothing you can do about it no matter how many times you try.
Blackburn: My pick is OG Anunoby. Another guy with health concerns, but there is no better player at shutting down the man across him trying to score. Anunoby will swallow up guards, battle with bigs, block shots, generate steals, and just be a lockdown guy almost as soon as he steps on the floor.
Blackburn: I’m going with Dennis Smith. There were many times he was simply apathetic and didn’t try at N.C. State. He has a small wingspan, and while he will continue to be seen as a quality offensive option with some comparisons to Eric Bledsoe and Damian Lillard, the Lillard comparisons are very real on defense too.
Lewis: I’ve been waiting to mention this player, and I’m going with Lonzo Ball. He’s a stiff on defense, with poor athleticism and no clue what to do with his hands. If he switches, he’ll get outworked for offensive rebounds due to his skinny frame. He’ll get some steals off ball because of his court vision, but in the NBA, he won’t be able to get to as many passes. It’s pretty bad when guards treat you like the starting flag for the Indy 500. Ball may be everyone’s favorite prospect for his offensive skills, but on defense, he’s a nightmare.