It’s never too early to start talking about the NBA draft. It may be useless to predict which teams will be picking where, 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
Plain and simple, there’s nothing anyone can do to knock Simmons off the top of this list. He’s LeBron-esque in many ways, and will only get better. Simmons is an excellent scorer, rebounder and passer. Essentially a 6’10” point guard, his biggest improvement this season has been learning how to get to the free throw line more consistently.
2. Brandon Ingram — SF, Freshman, Duke
After and inconsistent start to the season, Ingram finally found his groove. He’s averaged just a shade under 22 points since December began, and has clearly been the Blue Devils’ stud. I’ve fallen in love with Ingram after watching him play over the last month. He’d be a No. 1 pick in a lot of drafts, but Simmons is just too rare of a talent. Ingram’s growing comparison to Kevin Durant is not farfetched.
3. Kris Dunn — PG, Junior, Providence
When I debuted these rankings at the start of the season, Dunn was ranked No. 8 on my list, but most had him pinned as a middle of the first-round pick. Now he could easily go in the top-5, and I’m serious about him at No. 3. Dunn is a late bloomer, but comes with John Wall potential. If he can ever learn to change pace with the ball and limit his turnovers, he’ll reach that potential. He’s a dangerous talent at 6’4” and a triple-double threat every game.
4. Jaylen Brown — SG/SF, Freshman, Cal
Brown has legit NBA size and skill already — he’s 6’7” with the body of a 28-year old veteran. His game may need some polish, but his talent and potential are obvious when you watch him play. Brown is a well-rounded, two-way player with the ability to be a very good scorer in the NBA.
5. Jamal Murray — PG/SG, Freshman, Kentucky
Murray is switching between both guard positions with all the talent at Kentucky, but if NBA teams peg him as a point guard at the next level, his value will be very high. Murray is a consistent player for a freshman, and at 6’5” makes for a matchup nightmare. He’s a dual threat as a scorer and distributer that should be ready to contribute right away.
6. Ivan Rabb — PF, Freshman, Cal
Rabb has been very inconsistent, but he’s an unbelievable athlete on both sides of the ball. He’s a solid scorer, but a great rebounder (and a great shot blocker at times). Rabb is coming off the best game of his college career — 19 points and 10 boards in a win over Utah (No. 21 overall), matched up with another top-10 NBA prospect.
7. Jakob Poeltl — C, Sophomore, Utah
Poeltl has really developed as a second year player to the point that he’s going to go very high in this draft. He’s a legit 7-footer with good athleticism and post moves for his size. Poeltl also is a solid shot blocker and does a very good job passing the ball out of the post. His strength is his scoring ability, though, which is helped by his free throw percentage improving from 44% to 66% this season.
8. Skal Labissiere — PF, Freshman, Kentucky
Nobody has been a bigger disappointment in college basketball this season than Labissiere. He began the season as the clear-cut “guy” behind Simmons, but is now playing limited minutes and is nothing more than a role player for the Wildcats. Skal is a LONG 6’11” and a pretty decent shooter. He’s shown flashes as an elite shot blocker (which he was expected to be), but has never put it all together in a game. The fact that he averages just 3.5 rebounds at his size is pretty concerning. Somebody will take a chance on him assuming he enters the draft, but Labissiere would really benefit from another year in school.
9. Buddy Hield — SG, Senior, Oklahoma
Hield has always been thought of as just a jump shooter, but he’s become a complete basketball player as a senior. Oh yeah, he’s also shooting 50% from downtown and 90% from the line this season. He’s a little undersized at 6’4”, but Hield is proving himself as a lottery pick this year by developing his game as much as anyone in college hoops.
10. Domantas Sabonis — PF, Sophomore, Gonzaga
Sobonis has the sneaky potential to be one of the best players in this draft. At 6’11” he’s a deadly scorer and has become one of the best rebounders in the nation. In the last couple weeks he’s had a 35-point, 14-rebound game and a 36-point, 16-board game. Just how deadly of a scorer are we talking? Sabonis shot 12-for-16 from the field in each of those games and a combined 23-for-29 from the free throw line.
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