This year’s NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball season is well underway and has yet to disappoint. Ever since the final buzzer of the 2017 March Madness tournament, college basketball fans have been looking forward to this season, citing the sheer amount of talented players poised to make a name for themselves on the court. While it is still early on in the season and a lot can change between now and March, here are the top three players who best have positioned themselves to be top NBA draft picks.
First is freshman Marvin Bagley Jr. on Mike Krzyzewski’s Duke Blue Devils. Bagley, a 6-foot-11-inch forward from Phoenix, Ariz., has absolutely dominated this season so far and is averaging a staggering 22 points, 11.2 rebounds, and 1.6 assists per game through 10 games. He has shown great ability to score the ball, demonstrated by his 34-point game versus the University of Texas, followed by a 30-point game versus the University of Florida. Perhaps what separates Bagley the most from other current college basketball players is his quickness and coordination, demonstrated best by his jaw-dropping alley-oop dunks. While Bagley is still only in college, NBA scouts are already drooling over his abilities and potential, best exhibited in his NBA scouting report which reads “[Bagley is a] 6’11” athletic and versatile left handed forward … Good size and length for position with a 7’0.5 wingspan … Quick first step and faster than most players his size … Great athlete, gifted with tremendous coordination and fluidity at his size.” If Bagley can continue to play at his current level, he will undoubtedly be the first pick in the 2018 NBA Draft.
Next up is freshman DeAndre Ayton out of the University of Arizona. Ayton is a 7-foot true center who has demonstrated unbelievable versatility on the court. He can post up and score buckets under the basket like a true 7-footer, but he can also draw defenders out past the three-point arc and effortlessly make shots suited for a point or shooting guard. Perhaps the most impressive aspect of Ayton, however, is his sheer physical presence. With a monstrous 7-foot-5-inch wingspan and 9-foot-3-inch standing reach, not much get pasts him at the rim. This impressive ability to play offense and defense at such a high level is what many NBA scouts seem to point out most. Evan Tomes, a scout for NBAdraft.net, writes “Seven-footer with great coordination and fluidity. Great size and length with a 7’5.5 wingspan and 9’3 standing reach. Runs the floor well with great agility. Good strength level as well as body frame. Very good footwork. Can score from every spot on the floor …. Very good defender. Hedges screens and moves his feet well. Reads and jumps passing lanes incredibly well.Sees the floor well. Constantly communicates and directs traffic on offense and defense”.
Lastly is Luka Doncic, a 6-foot-7-inch 220-pound shooting guard from Slovenia. Unlike
Bagley and Ayton, however, Doncic is not currently playing in the NCAA. Instead, he chose to take the less traveled route of playing a year of professional basketball overseas (which satisfies the requirement of playing one year of post-high school basketball before becoming eligible for the NBA draft). Doncic also differs from Bagley and Ayton in that he is not a big man, but rather a very skilled guard. At only 18 years of age, he has shown unbelievable maturity, both mentally and physically. He is composed and level headed on the court, and he appears to be muscularly developed well past his years. He currently plays for Real Madrid International, one of the most respected overseas basketball programs, and is averaging a solid 19.7 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 4.2 assists per game. As he is currently the best guard in the draft class, NBA scouts have high praise for him. David Bortoluzzi, another scout for NBAdraft.net, writes in his 2016 scouting report, “What’s most impressive about him is the maturity and the polish and completeness of his game at just 16 years of age, basically from all standpoints … As a 6-7 SG, he already has a solid body, ready to compete at the senior level, with a wide frame, quite developed from a muscular standpoint, both his upper and lower body … He has shown a remarkable amount of pro moves and amazing body control during his first season with the Real Madrid senior team.” Any NBA team that could lure him from overseas basketball would be extremely lucky.
While the order in which these three players are chosen in the NBA draft is dependent on the rest of their respective seasons, I find it highly unlikely that any of them will drop out of the top three. Regardless, all we can do for now is sit back and watch these three amazing talents dominate in their respective ways!