It’s never to early to start talking about the NBA draft. It may be useless to predict who will have the picks, but we still know who the top prospects are. This will simply be a monthly ranking of the top-10 NBA prospects in college basketball.
1. Ben Simmons — SF/PF, Freshman, LSU
Copy and pasting from last month: “plain and simple, there’s nothing anyone can do to knock Simmons off the top of this list.” This holds true and will right until the No. 1 pick of the NBA draft is made in June.
Obviously he’s not LeBron or Magic, but his skill-set is just so unique that the comparisons make sense. Simmons is the type of player that’s going to thrive once he is surrounded by NBA talent. He’s a freak athlete that can literally do everything on the floor. His summer will be dedicated to his jump shot, which is Simmons’ only slight knock.
2. Brandon Ingram — SF, Freshman, Duke
Duke may not be experiencing the team success they are used to, but Ingram is thriving as an individual talent. Ingram’s scored 13+ points in every game since November 29, including a season-high 26 points on two occasions. He hardly ever comes off the floor for the Blue Devils, is a great shooter, rebounder, distributer and shot blocker. Ingram would be the No. 1 pick in a lot of draft classes. This lottery is not just all about Simmons.
3. Kris Dunn — PG, Junior, Providence
Dunn’s draft stock has reached its peak. He can’t possibly pass Simmons or Ingram, but climbing to No. 3 as a junior is impressive. Dunn has really found his game this season. He may take some time to adjust to the NBA, but he’s got great size and versatility. Dunn’s fantastic on the defensive side, which will get him on the floor as a rookie. If he can solve his offensive inconsistencies, he has some John Wall in him.
4. Jaylen Brown — SG/SF, Freshman, Cal
Brown can get by on pure athleticism, but he’s also an elite scorer that’s finding his way. He picked up his scoring in January, going for 20+ points four times and matching a season-high with 27 against Utah. Brown might be a project, but he’s very coachable. He could be an All-Star perimeter scorer if he reaches his potential.
5. Buddy Hield — SG, Senior, Oklahoma
Hield has been dominating the college scene as you know by now. He’s a lock for National POY. When it comes to his NBA potential, the door is wide open. Hield has always been an elite shooter, but he’s extended his range this season and developed into an all-around scorer. His ceiling is that of a strong wing player in the NBA if he’s a decent defender and continues to be a diverse scorer. But as a senior, the question is why isn’t Buddy already in the NBA? The fear is he’ll divert back to just a guy capable of knocking down open shots once he competes against NBA talent.
6. Henry Ellenson — PF, Freshman, Marquette
The 6’10” freshman big has been soaring up draft boards lately. His unexpected dominance has continued all season for Marquette, where he’s quietly managed to average 16.3 points and 9.8 rebounds. It’s become apparent that Ellenson’s skills will translate to the NBA. His monster 32-point, 10-rebound 6-block performance against Butler opened a lot of eyes.
7. Jakob Poeltl — C, Sophomore, Utah
Poeltl is a true 7-footer and a legit center. His numbers took a little mid-season dip after a crazy hot start, but he seems to be bouncing back well over the last few weeks. His 29 points and 10 boards in an OT win over Washington got him back on track, as Poeltl went for 20+ in his next three games. He won’t be a superstar, but at this stage in the draft it’s worth snagging a very good player.
8. Diamond Stone — C, Freshman, Maryland
Stone’s minutes and production have been inconsistent for a very good Maryland team. Stone is just so young and gifted, though. He’s an absolute load at 6’11”/255 lbs that has the skills to be a great NBA player. Stone has plenty of learning to do and will really have to develop his game to the NBA speed, but it’s worth it for an NBA team to roll the dice on if he scratches his potential come NBA draft time. I’m still enamored with his 39 point and 12 rebounds against Penn State.
9. Skal Labissiere — PF, Freshman, Kentucky
Labissiere has still been the biggest disappointment in this class, but he’s being forced to play out of necessity which is good for his NBA stock. What he does do well is shoot the ball from mid-range and block shots, which is valuable. But he doesn’t do anything else for his team. The perception is that at his size and level of athleticism, he can be sculpted into a star. With that said, he’s had some horrible games and has the biggest bust potential of anyone in the draft.
10. Ivan Rabb — PF, Freshman, Cal
Rabb is a super athletic big that’s absolutely further along than Labissiere. They’re similar players, but Rabb has shown the willingness to rebound the ball and be more aggressive on both ends. By the time the draft arrives, I could see Rabb eclipsing Skal because he’s shown so much more talent against strong competition.
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