Trae Young, DeAndre Ayton Headline Talented 2018 Top Five Prospects
As the 2017 class of NBA rookies continues to impress us, the 2018 class is quietly making some noise on the college basketball scene, with a number of names ready to make their leap onto the NBA stage.
Early on in their NBA careers, 2017 draftees such as Kyle Kuzma, Donovan Mitchell and Lauri Markkanen have all proven that they are here to stay, putting up big numbers and showing that each of them are the future of their respective franchises. That being said, it is apropos to look towards June and see who will be next to amaze on the biggest stage of basketball in the world. Already, five names in particular have separated themselves from the rest of the pack.
C DeAndre Ayton, Arizona
Sometimes you must wonder what they feed their kids down in America. DeAndre Ayton is a monster of a teenager with freakish athleticism and strength. Many NBA scouts believe that he has the ability to develop into a can’t-miss generational big man with an unstoppable post game as well as a soft touch that Ayton can stretch out behind the three-point line.
The scary thing with Ayton is, even as 19-year old, the seven foot centre does not have any glaring weaknesses in his game. He can defend and has above average lateral quickness, he can play above the rim, protect the paint, and effectively fit a pick-and-roll offence. Even at his size, Ayton is a good passer and with good ball-handling ability.
What’s not too like about this Arizona big man?
- NBA Comparison: Joel Embiid/David Robinson
PG Trae Young, Oklahoma
If you keep up with basketball, Trae Young is a name you must’ve been hearing quite a bit over the past few weeks.
The Oklahoma guard has been on absolute fire, dropping mind-boggling numbers including 43-points against TCU and 48-points against Oklahoma State. If there is one thing for certain, this kid can score and score in bunches. While he is not an elite shooter just yet as visible from his boxscore, he has a quick release, and effortless shot, and incredible range.
It is his set of tools, flash, and swagger that has made NBA scouts drool over the untapped potential in Young. A game reminiscent of Stephen Curry’s especially with the way Young is able to create space and get his shot off, the guard is averaging 30.5-points and 9.7-assists per contest through 18-games, a feat that is unheard of at the highest level of college basketball, let alone from a freshman. He is crafty with good court vision and makes good reads in transition.
The one knock on the guard is his lack of size. At 6’2”, his wingspan does not jump out to anyone and at 180-pounds, he doesn’t possess the physicality just yet to defend some of the bigger and better guards on the NBA level.
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) December 24, 2017
That being said, even the NBA’s best has noticed the young guard balling out and while Young is by no means a finished product, he is one of the more exciting names to keep an eye on with a very high NBA ceiling.
- NBA Comparison: Stephen Curry
PF Marvin Bagley, Duke
For some very odd reason, all the hype around Marvin Bagley has seemingly disappeared with the rise of Trae Young.
But here’s the thing. Bagley plays for an esteemed Duke basketball program and he has been putting up some incredible numbers in his short tenure playing under Coach Mike Krzyzewski. Like Ayton, Bagley is a tremendous athlete for his size with a quick first step and fluid movements despite his 6’10”, 235-pound frame.
He is also very adept to the new NBA game. Bagley can step out and shoot from the perimeter, can drive-and-kick, and can finish near or at the rim in a variety of ways. As he continues to develop, there is still a few things that must improve with time and reps. While Bagley can shoot and has a very mechanically sound shot, he only shoots 34.3% from beyond the arc and 61.7% from the charity stripe.
The tools, the athleticism, and the explosiveness is all there. Now, Bagley just has to put everything together. For a kid who is just 18-years of age, if and when he does put everything together, the forward will be a force to go up against.
- NBA Comparison: Chris Bosh/Kevin Garnett
SF Michael Porter Jr., Missouri
Although his lone college season will be lost due to injury, the untapped potential that Michael Porter Jr. possesses would make any NBA team salivate.
If you are thinking Kevin Durant, we are in the same boat.
A 6’10” lanky and long-limbed forward with elite athleticism, great size, and a smooth shot. Despite his age, he has been known to be extremely mature with great intangibles and a will to put in the extra hours in the gym. With off-the-charts makeup and the ability to be truly unguardable with the tools and size that he has, Porter may even be a number one overall pick, despite not playing a single game since high school.
While the tools are there, Porter understands some work still needs to be done. Often times he settles for jump shots as opposed to attacking the rim and finishing at the cup. This is partially due to lack of aggressiveness, but also emphasizes a need to improve his ball-handling skills.
Nevertheless, like the other four names on the list, Porter has the ability to really turn heads on the NBA level in the very near future.
- NBA Comparison: Kevin Durant
C Mohamed Bamba, Texas
In his freshman year at Texas, Mo Bamba is averaging nearly five blocks per game.
Talk about a monster in the paint, right?
The seven footer has a broad and projectable frame, with plenty more room to add muscle and size, long arms, and big hands. He is a great athlete and very clearly, is already an elite rim protector. Not only is he a defender that relies on his freakish wingspan and athleticism, but he is also a very smart player, despite his age. Bamba can anchor a defense or help teammates out on assignments and knows exactly when to leave his feet.
While defensively, Bamba can turn into an elite rim protector, on the offensive side, he is still very raw, with limited post moves and primarily scoring on catch and finishes in the rim. He does show a relatively nice touch and potential for a face-up game, but it is still a work in progress.
- NBA Comparison: Dikembe Mutombo