Monday, March 12, 2018

2018 Pre-March Madness NBA Draft Prospects Power Rankings


Hello and welcome to my comprehensive look at the top prospects of the 2018 NBA draft. I have consulted many sources, compiled as much relevant data as I could and put all these prospects into the best order I could. Feel free to skip ahead to the list if you'd like but before we proceed to the rankings, I'd like to explain everything that I weighed:

-Average Draft Position (ADP). I consulted The Stepien, The Ringer, HoopsHype, NBA Draft NetThis Reddit Survey and Kevin Pelton’s List and took each player’s average draft position among the lists. If a player did not appear on a given list, I scored them as if they were the next player up.
-Age. The younger the player is, the better. It gives more opportunity for leaps forward and fortifies impressive statistical performances.
-Advanced Stats (PER, TS%, WS/40, and BPM). While no individual advanced stat is perfect, if all measures favor certain players, it is an indication of winning basketball play.
-Counting Stats per 40 minutes (Points, Rebounds, Assists, Blocks, Steals and 3-Pointers Made per 40). Like everything else here, counting stats can sometimes be misleading but I believe they (equalized by minutes) can serve as a good foundation for a given player's game.

All data is up to date as of 3/10/18.

All these measures were examined and weighed with various formulas before I ultimately settled with my own gut list. While you may disagree with my rankings, I have all the data I examined here for you to look at as for yourself. I also have some low/high player comparisons, links to highlights and a few words explaining my interpretations of everything I've gathered on each player so far. Enjoy!

-Tier 1-
Everyone in this tier has an argument to go first and possesses reasonable franchise-altering expectations.

1. DeAndre Ayton
Age: 19.6
Height/Wing: 7'0"/7'5"
Position: C
ADP: 2
Player Comps (Low/High): Thomas Robinson/David Robinson
PER: 31.7
TS%: 0.645
WS/40: 0.253
BPM: 10.4
Points/40: 23.7
Rebs/40: 13.6
Assist/40: 1.9
Blocks/40: 2.4
Steals/40: 0.6
3PM/40:  0.4

Ayton has the highest ADP for good reason. He is huge and passes all eye tests, the advanced stats love him, he’s on the younger side and his per-minute stats are strong. I personally would like to see more defensive stats or 3-point shooting but I cannot deny he has the highest ceiling here.

2. Luka Doncic
Age: 19
Height/Wing: 6'7"/-
Position: SF
ADP: 3.5
Player Comps (Low/High): Dario Saric/Larry Bird
PER: 26.7
TS%: 0.62
WS/40: 0.316
Points/40: 25
Rebs/40: 8.7
Assist/40: 7.3
Blocks/40: 0.4
Steals/40: 1.7
3PM/40: 2.4

Probably Ayton's biggest competition for going #1, Doncic has the calling-card of having the highest floor. His stats are great, advanced or otherwise, he has the second highest ADP and he is presumably playing against the stiffest competition. Luka is the most proven prospect here.

3. Trae Young
Age: 19.4
Height/Wing: 6'2"/6'4"
Position: PG
ADP: 5
Player Comps (Low/High): Shabazz Napier/Kemba Walker
PER: 28.3
TS%: 0.585
WS/40: 0.202
BPM: 11.7
Points/40: 31
Rebs/40: 4.4
Assist/40: 9.9
Blocks/40: 0.3
Steals/40: 1.9
3PM/40: 4.2

I ranked Trae Young above a few prospects with higher ADPs because he exemplifies a lot of NBA franchises are looking for from a lead guard these days. While his play has been criticized as of late, the advanced stats still support him and the layout of his per-minute counting stats is ideal for an NBA point guard.

4. Michael Porter Jr.
Age: 19.6
Height/Wing: 6'10"/7'0"
Position: SF
ADP: 4.2
Player Comps (Low/High): Anthony Bennett/Reggie Miller
PER: 19.6
TS%: 0.389
WS/40: 0.111
BPM: -3.5
Points/40: 22.4
Rebs/40: 16
Assist/40: 1.6
Blocks/40: 1.6
Steals/40: 0
3PM/40: 3.2

MPJ went from being one of the most sure things to a wildcard as of late. His injury and rusty return give him very questionable (and probably misleading) stats all around, though there are some bright spots. Still, his ADP remains fourth highest because he passes most eye tests and is mostly likely going to bounce back as he puts this injury in his past.

5. Jaren Jackson Jr.
Age: 18.4
Height/Wing: 6'10"/7'4"
Position: PF
ADP: 4
Player Comps (Low/High): Dragan Bender/Myles Turner
PER: 27.5
TS%: 0.654
WS/40: 0.244
BPM: 16.1
Points/40: 20.5
Rebs/40: 10.5
Assist/40: 2.1
Blocks/40: 5.7
Steals/40: 1.1
3PM/40: 2.1

Surprisingly, JJJ actually has the third highest ADP, is one of the youngest players available and might have the most favorable advanced stats out of everyone here. Though his buzz as #1 is relatively low, there is a very good chance that Jackson ends up being the best player here, which is why he rounds out the top tier. He has the upside to be an ideal 3&D center in the NBA.

-Tier 2-
Everyone in this tier has an argument to go in the top five with reasonable starter expectations.

6. Mikal Bridges
Age: 21.5
Height/Wing: 6'7"/7'1"
Position: SG
ADP: 8.8
Player Comps (Low/High): Wesley Johnson/Khris Middleton
PER: 26.9
TS%: 0.65
WS/40: 0.238
BPM: 12.8
Points/40: 21.9
Rebs/40: 6.8
Assist/40: 2.6
Blocks/40: 1.4
Steals/40: 2
3PM/40: 7.2

It might be a hot take to have Mikal Bridges this high but I can't keep myself away from this profile. Yes, Mikal is older but his combination of length and shooting ability make him the ideal 3&D wing in today's NBA. When I watch Mikal Bridges play, I see someone that every NBA team would like to have on their roster. I believe he is a guaranteed two-way contributor.

7. Marvin Bagley
Age: 18.9
Height/Wing: 6'11"/7'0"
Position: PF
ADP: 4.7
Player Comps (Low/High): Nerlens Noel/Clint Capela
PER: 31.5
TS%: 0.636
WS/40: 0.255
BPM: 11
Points/40: 25.6
Rebs/40: 13.8
Assist/40: 1.9
Blocks/40: 1.2
Steals/40: 1.1
3PM/40: 0.9

I have Bagley ranked lower than his ADP because, while all his stats look good, the layout of his counting stats suggest to me that he will need help being his best. It is clear that Bagley has elite rim-runner expectations but the lack of peripheral stats and self-sufficiency has me cooler on him than most. The market for non-shooting, non-creating post-players in the NBA is impacted right now sliding Bagley to seventh.

8. Mohamed Bamba
Age: 19.8
Height/Wing: 6'11"/7'9"
Position: C
ADP: 5.3
Player Comps (Low/High): Hasheem Thabeet/Rudy Gobert
PER: 28
TS%: 0.594
WS/40: 0.211
BPM: 11.3
Points/40: 17.1
Rebs/40: 13.8
Assist/40: 0.6
Blocks/40: 4.8
Steals/40: 1
3PM/40: 0.6

Much like Bagley, I am low on Bamba due to his lack of shooting/creation ability. There is no question Bamba should be a force on the defensive end and it is possible that his offensive ability can be above-average as well. The advanced stats love him but I'm slightly skeptical about how strongly his impact will translate to the open game of the NBA which is why he dips to eight.

9. Miles Bridges
Age: 19.9
Height/Wing: 6'7"/6'9"
Position: PF
ADP: 11.5
Player Comps (Low/High): Derrick Williams/Aaron Gordon
PER: 22.8
TS%: 0.582
WS/40: 0.212
BPM: 9.6
Points/40: 21.7
Rebs/40: 8.9
Assist/40: 3.5
Blocks/40: 1
Steals/40: 0.8
3PM/40: 2.6

Miles Bridges gets criticism for a lack of improvement statistically from year one to two and there is a chance he is just a big fish in a small pond right now. However, his versatile offensive game has a chance to be highly impactful in the NBA. His advanced stats are strong and the layout of his counting stats is diverse, all suggesting he could be something special. I'm not sure if he'll pan out but I think he is a great bet here at nine.

-Tier 3-
Everyone in this tier has an argument to go in the top ten with reasonable rotation expectations.

10. Jontay Porter
Age: 18.3
Height/Wing: 6'11"/-
Position: PF
ADP: 18
Player Comps (Low/High): Channing Frye/Myles Turner
PER: 22.4
TS%: 0.58
WS/40: 0.186
BPM: 11.4
Points/40: 16.6
Rebs/40: 11.2
Assist/40: 3.5
Blocks/40: 2.7
Steals/40: 1.4
3PM/40: 2.1

I may be favoring a certain style too much here but I really do think Jontay exemplifies what NBA GMs are looking for from their big men these days. While the younger Porter brother may not have impressive physical measurements, the diversity of his counting stats and strength of his advanced stats suggest he could be an ideal 4 or 5 in the NBA. There is a chance he can do everything Jaren Jackson Jr. is being projected to do.

11. Wendell Carter Jr.
Age: 18.8
Height/Wing: 6'10"/7'3"
Position: C
ADP: 9.5
Player Comps (Low/High): Willie Cauley-Stein/Juwan Howard
PER: 28.6
TS%: 0.631
WS/40: 0.244
BPM: 13.8
Points/40: 20.4
Rebs/40: 13.8
Assist/40: 3.1
Blocks/40: 3.1
Steals/40: 1.1
3PM/40: 0.9

Much like his Duke teammate, I have Wendell Carter listed lower than his ADP and advanced stats would suggest. There are certainly arguments to be made that Carter should go higher than this and there is a good chance he will end up being a better NBA player than a few players listed before him here, including Bagley. I like his assist and block rate, making him a rotation certainty but the lack of range in his play makes it hard to rank him much higher than this.

12. Collin Sexton
Age: 19.1
Height/Wing: 6'2"/6'7"
Position: PG
ADP: 11.5
Player Comps (Low/High): Jonny Flynn/De'Arron Fox 
PER: 23.5
TS%: 0.555
WS/40: 0.183
BPM: 6.8
Points/40: 25.2
Rebs/40: 4.9
Assist/40: 5
Blocks/40: 0.1
Steals/40: 1.3
3PM/40: 1.7

There are a lot of indications that Sexton will be, at least, a high end backup point guard in the NBA. His lack of passing and shooting stats are concerning but his advanced stats are all fairly strong, especially from someone his age. He could end up being too inefficient for his own good but he is the most proven name left if you are looking for someone to lead an offense.

13. Kevin Knox
Age: 18.5
Height/Wing: 6'9"/7'0"
Position: PF
ADP: 14
Player Comps (Low/High): Anthony Bennett/Tobias Harris
PER: 17.5
TS%: 0.564
WS/40: 0.140
BPM: 5.3
Points/40: 19.5
Rebs/40: 6.6
Assist/40: 1.7
Blocks/40: 0.3
Steals/40: 1.1
3PM/40: 2

Knox is young and wearing the right uniform to draw NBA prospect attention. He has good physical measurements and none of his stats are too bad. However, I find myself perpetually cooling on Knox due to the general lack of pop across all his numbers. There is upside for him to be the versatile, rangy wing player that NBA GMs are looking for but I fear that is wishful thinking here.

14. Landry Shamet
Age: 20.9
Position: PG
ADP: 19.5
Player Comps (Low/High): Greivis Vasquez/CJ McCollum

PER: 21.5
TS%: 0.653
WS/40: 0.2
BPM: 8.3
Points/40: 18.6
Rebs/40: 4.1
Assist/40: 6.6
Blocks/40: 0.2
Steals/40: 0.9
3PM/40: 7.4

Shamet isn't particularly high on any draft boards but maybe he should be. While he isn't a freshman, all his advanced stats are good and I love his 3-pointers made per minute coupled with his true shooting percentage. His defensive stats leave a lot to be desired but there is a chance Landry will make it in the NBA off of his shooting ability alone.

15. Robert Williams
Age: 20.3
Position: PF
ADP: 13.7
Player Comps (Low/High): Jordan Bell/Stromile Swift

PER: 25
TS%: 0.603
WS/40: 0.182
BPM: 11.6
Points/40: 16
Rebs/40: 14
Assist/40: 2.2
Blocks/40: 3.9
Steals/40: 1.3
3PM/40: 0

Williams doesn't shoot from deep at all but he is a high impact player around both rims. His length, block rate and advanced stats suggest he can head a good defense while his shooting percentage shows that he can make his living within the short-range. While he doesn't possess the premium shooting ability everyone is looking for, Williams will certainly bring elite talent to whatever NBA he joins.

-Tier 4-
Everyone in this tier has an argument to go in the top twenty with reasonable rotation upside.

16. Jacob Evans
Age: 20.7
Height/Wing: 6'6"/-
Position: SF
ADP: 25.8
Player Comps (Low/High): Adam Morrison/Dion Waiters
PER: 21.9
TS%: 0.575
WS/40: 0.233
BPM: 11.8
Points/40: 17.6
Rebs/40: 5.9
Assist/40: 4.3
Blocks/40: 1.3
Steals/40: 1.7
3PM/40: 2.4

Evans has the look, measurements, and advanced stats to be a quality NBA wing. While his counting stats are generally muted and his older age creates less excuse for a muted role, the diversity of Jacob's counting stats give him increased opportunity to contribute/breakout in the NBA. While I am not sure of any of this, I do think Evans has the best probability of helping an NBA team out of any prospects left here.

17. Troy Brown
Age: 18.6
Height/Wing: 6'7"/6'10"
Position: SF
ADP: 16
Player Comps (Low/High): Shabazz Muhammad/Caris LeVert
PER: 17.1
TS%: 0.538
WS/40: 0.124
BPM: 4.8
Points/40: 14.8
Rebs/40: 8
Assist/40: 3.9
Blocks/40: 0.3
Steals/40: 2
3PM/40: 1.2

In the thick of potential NBA wings, Troy Brown sticks out because of his youth and physical measurements. However, his actual stats all leave me wanting a bit more. Because Brown is younger and because the role he plays is so desired, there is a lot of upside here but Brown simply hasn't proven very much yet.

18. Lonnie Walker
Age: 19.2
Height/Wing: 6'4"/6'10"
Position: SG
ADP: 16.8
Player Comps (Low/High): Terrence Ross/Wesley Matthews
PER: 16.8
TS%: 0.529
WS/40: 0.133
BPM: 5.3
Points/40: 16.8
Rebs/40: 3.8
Assist/40: 2.9
Blocks/40: 0.7
Steals/40: 1.4
3PM/40: 2.5

Much like Troy Brown, Lonnie Walker has relatively pedestrian stats but is still drawing a lot of attention due to his physical measurements and his ability to play wing positions. It is no secret that every NBA team could use another quality wing player and Walker has a lot of potential to be one of those players. Unfortunately, the advanced stats are currently suggesting that that all might be wishful thinking. Still, Walker is a nice high-upside pick here.

19. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
Age: 19
Height/Wing: 6'6"/-
Position: PG
ADP: 20
Player Comps (Low/High): Frank Ntilikina/Ron Harper
PER: 19.3
TS%: 0.562
WS/40: 0.145
BPM: 7.9
Points/40: 16
Rebs/40: 4.7
Assist/40: 5.9
Blocks/40: 0.7
Steals/40: 1.9
3PM/40: 0.7

SGA is a big point guard that can contribute in a few different ways. His counting stats are pretty diverse and his advanced stats aren't too shabby. However, what gives him pause with Gilgeous-Alexander is his lack of shooting for a smaller player. I have been harping on a lot of bigger players for the same thing and that issue is only magnified for smaller players. For that reason, I am not too hot on him, though I can't deny he is one of the more proven talents left here.

20. De'Andre Hunter
Age: 20
Height/Wing: 6'7"/-
Position: SG
ADP: 35.3
Player Comps (Low/High): Taurean Prince/Manu Ginobili
PER: 23.4
TS%: 0.584
WS/40: 0.230
BPM: 9.6
Points/40: 18.4
Rebs/40: 7.1
Assist/40: 2.2
Blocks/40: 0.8
Steals/40: 1.2
3PM/40: 1.3

De'Andre Hunter was not ranked by most of the draft boards I consulted but I am a big fan of his advanced stats and diversity of counting stats. He has not proven too much yet for his age given the slightly muted nature of his counting stats but I do think he is a quality sleeper here because everything suggests that Hunter can be an integral part of winning basketball.

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