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Scouting the 2017 NBA Draft: Wings/Forwards

We move forward with our NBA Draft prospect rankings this week, this time focusing on wings/forwards. These are players that you will usually find playing the three or the four in the NBA. When it comes to wings, this class is very top heavy. It features two potential superstars and then a drop off to players that will be starters in the NBA. With that said, the two I have at the top are two of the better players I have seen in recent years. Both have very high floors to go with high ceilings and the potential to be top 10 players in the league someday.

All measurements are from DraftExpress.

Tier One

These players are high-level starters on a championship team. They have the potential to be the best player on a title-winning team, although being the second best player is more likely.

1. Jonathan Isaac

Height: 6’10 ½”

Weight: 205 pounds

Wingspan: 7’1 ¼”

Isaac has long been a personal favorite of mine, and for good reason. He has a very high floor for being one of the most talented players in the draft. He is long, athletic, and smooth on both ends of the floor. Isaac is currently best suited off the ball on offense, but he has a good handle and it is not hard to see him developing into a primary or secondary scorer. His jumper is smooth and quick, and his height makes it easy to get off in the defender’s face. He attacks closeouts well, taking only a dribble or two to get to the hoop. He passes the ball surprisingly well for someone his size. On defense, Isaac is as good as it gets. His length allows him to contest very easily, and his foot speed allows him to stay with wings and guards on the perimeter. He can guard 1-5 on defense and projects to be an elite level defender in the NBA.

2. Josh Jackson

Height: 6’7 ¾”

Weight: 203 pounds

Wingspan: 6’9 ¾”

Jackson is one of the most athletic prospects in this draft. He possesses the kind of quick twitch athleticism that will always have a place in the NBA. It allows him to guard 1-4 defensively and be a major threat in transition on offense. Add in his work ethic, and it’s easy to see why he is so highly touted as a prospect. While he’s not a polished product on the defensive end, he has an enormous ceiling. His quick feet and hands allow him to wreak havoc on opponents. On offense, Jackson is active off the ball and lethal with it. He can get to the hoop with ease using his explosive athleticism and is great at finding the open man on his drives. Jackson’s shot is broken, but fixable, because the issues are his inconsistent release point, and that he doesn’t always follow through and finish his shooting motion.

Tier Two

These are players that could be low-level starters on a championship team, with an All-Star game appearance not being a surprise in the long run.

3. OG Anunoby

Height: 6’7 ¾”

Weight: 232 pounds

Wingspan: 7’2 ¼”

Anunoby is tough to pigeonhole to a position because he can guard all five. He’s got length, strength, and athleticism to spare. His game in college was mostly reliant on those attributes, and he was able to get away with it. In the NBA, he’ll need to learn to be more disciplined on the defensive end of the floor. He also needs to improve his jumper, which isn’t bad, but it needs work if he wants to prevent defenses from backing off of him. Right now, he isn’t finishing high enough, and his platform is not always squared up when he shoots. What’s holding him back most, however, is a torn ACL he suffered this past season. His development hinges almost entirely on his ability to recover from that injury.

4. Jayson Tatum

Height: 6’8 ¼”

Weight: 204 pounds

Wingspan: 6’11”

Tatum came into the NBA 15 years too late. He has a game that has become dated, putting him in a bad spot in this year’s draft. Tatum is a good, but not great athlete who doesn’t have a lot of defensive upside. His feet are slow, and he does not have a good feel for the game on that end of the floor. He does have a great mid-range game on offense, with footwork that is incredibly polished given his age. I have concerns about his passing ability and whether or not his jumper can extend to beyond the arc. Right now, his motion is like a slingshot that will make it nearly impossible to get off when it’s contested. He’s a bit of a ball stopper as well, playing a lot of iso-ball when he doesn’t need to.

5. Wesley Iwundu

Height: 6’6 ¾”

Weight: 193 pounds

Wingspan: 7’1”

Iwundu is one of my favorite prospects in the class. He’s got good size and length, allowing him to guard twos and threes (and some stretch fours) in the NBA. His defense is good because of his athleticism and length, and his footwork allows him to stay in front of even the twitchiest athletes. On offense, Iwundu can do it all. He has great court vision, and his height allows him to see over most defenders when he surveys the floor. His handle isn’t the best, but he’s an above average shooter who fights for rebounds. Iwundu is the ultimate stat sheet stuffer, and could really thrive in the NBA.

Tier Three

These players are best suited as the worst starter on a playoff team, or a high-level player off of the bench. Most of these guys have the potential to start on a championship team, but they would have to maximize their potential to get there.

6. Terrance Ferguson

Height: 6’7”

Weight: 184 pounds

Wingspan: 6’8 ¾”

Ferguson comes into the draft as a bit of an unknown after going to Australia to play professionally, instead of going to college. He is a great athlete with a lot of bounce in his game. He has the athletic ability to be a great defender, but he often looks lost on the defensive end of the floor, getting lost in rotations. Ferguson has a clean shooting motion that should translate to the NBA, but that’s all his offensive game is right now. He’s a sloppy ball handler, with a slight frame that makes it difficult for him to get to the hoop. Ferguson is the ultimate 3-and-D prospect in this crop of wings, but it may take the longest for him to reach his potential.

7. Semi Ojeleye

Height: 6’6 ¾”

Weight: 241 pounds

Wingspan: 6’9 ¾”

Ojeleye is built like an absolute tank, but has the athleticism to back it up. He is a great leaper, but is lacking in foot speed and lateral agility. He’s going to be at his best defensively if he can guard fours in the NBA, although he can guard threes for short spurts. Ojeleye crashes the glass really well on both ends of the floor, using his leaping ability and strength to beat his opponents on the boards. On offense, he can shoot the ball very well, and he uses his strength to attack closeouts. His handle is fairly limited to driving to the hoop with his right hand. Ultimately, his biggest barrier will be that he’s 22 years old.

8. D.J. Wilson

Height: 6’10 ½”

Weight: 234 pounds

Wingspan: 7’3”

Wilson is a guy who would be considered for the lottery, if not for his age. He’s a relatively old redshirt sophomore at 22 years old, and he hasn’t shown a whole lot prior to this season. Wilson has a nice shot that he can get off over most players, given his length. He’s a smooth athlete rather than an explosive one, which will help him defensively, but hurt offensively. He can switch 2-4 on defense because of his smooth footwork and long arms. He’s best used as a cutter and spot up shooter offensively because he has no handle to speak of. Chalk Wilson up as another 3-and-D role player in the NBA.

Tier Four

These players are bench players who can provide a particular skill at a high level. They could have a role on any team in the league, but they are isolated to being used in that singular role.

9. Justin Jackson

Height: 6’8 ¼”

Weight: 201 pounds

Wingspan: 6’11”

Jackson will come into the NBA after producing consistently at North Carolina. I don’t see that production translating very well to the next level. Jackson is thin and long, but will be stuck guarding threes in the NBA as he struggles with the athleticism of NBA twos. He doesn’t move well laterally on defense, nor does he utilize his length to disrupt opponents. On offense, Jackson is an above average shooter with a great feel for scoring. He uses a very soft touch to score in the paint, but getting to the paint will be much harder for him at the next level. He has the makeup to be a productive player, but his upside is limited.

10. Dwayne Bacon

Height: 6’6 ¼”

Weight: 222 pounds

Wingspan: 6’10”

There’s a big drop-off after the first nine on this list, and Bacon is essentially the “best of the rest.” He’s a bad defender who isn’t good enough of an athlete to make up for his low defensive IQ. He’s frequently caught looking lost or disengaged on the defensive end of the floor. On offense, he was productive at FSU because he was so ball dominant. He’s a below average shooter with a workable form. Whoever drafts Bacon will be looking at an offense-only bench player that can finish at the rim, and be more with an improved shot.

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