clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

A Way-to-Early Look at the Big Ten's Top 2017 NBA Draft Prospects

New, comments

The 2017 NBA Draft is too far in the future to analyze deeply, but here are a few Big Ten players that opted to stay in college one more season that promise to be major forces in next year's draft.

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

With three players drafted in the first round and six players drafted overall, the Big Ten had a respectable showing in last month’s NBA Draft.

Yet, there were a number of top Big Ten players from last season that decided to skip this year’s draft in hopes of developing further for a better draft position in 2017.

The 2017 draft is probably still too far away as is the start of the college basketball season, but it is never too early to start looking ahead to some of the top Big Ten players looking to be drafted—and what each player can do to improve the most this season.

Thomas Bryant

As it stands now, Bryant is slated to possibly be the highest drafted player in the Big Ten next year. Draft Express lists him as No. 7 in its 2017 mock draft. As a center, Bryant has many physical tools to instantly make an impact when he does transition to the NBA. He is only about 6’10" but possesses a great length with a wingspan of 7’5". His length combined with his athleticism has allowed him to become a capable rebounder and a powerful finisher at the rim.

Bryant plays with an infectious intensity and passion went out on the floor. Because of that, he runs the floor extremely well for a guy his size and is always a threat in transition and on the offensive boards. Likewise, he also shows great potential as an interior defender.

In his final season at Indiana, he has the most improvement to be done as an offensive post player. As a freshman, he often struggled with his fluidity and footwork in the post. Bryant would also benefit developing a more consistent midrange game to make sure defenders respect his shooting ability.

The physical attributes and intangibles are there with Bryant. Now, it is a matter of him using the season to become a more complete prospect at the center position.

Nigel Hayes

Hayes has many attributes that make him an attractive NBA prospect. First, Hayes has great size as a power forward at 6’7", 237 pounds with a wingspan of 7’2". Because of his size, he has a great deal of potential to become a lethal offensive force in the post. Using his size and strength, Hayes is always willing to impose his will in the paint. During his time at Wisconsin, he has shown himself to be a versatile defender both on the interior and on the perimeter.

To improve his draft standing this upcoming season, Hayes must show that he can become a multi-dimensional scoring threat. He shot an abysmal 29 percent from beyond the arc last season, which must improve in his senior season if Hayes expects to morph into a stretch forward. According to Draft Express, Hayes is currently expected to be selected in the early second round. If he expects to be taken in the first round, he must show himself to be a more competent three-point shooter—in addition to strengthening himself as a defender and post player.

Melo Trimble

Trimble is the best pure point guard in the Big Ten, but would another year at Maryland really improve his draft stock? That will be a big question for Trimble to answer this season. He likely made the right decision in staying one more year as he probably would have been a late second round pick.

His biggest concern is the prospect is how well game could translate to the NBA. These concerns mostly stem from Trimble’s lack of size at 6’3". Trimble has always struggled finishing at the rim against taller defenders, which will hurt his draft stock given that attacking the basket is an important part of his offensive repertoire. He also had issues at times last season and being overly turnover prone. This season, Trimble will have to become a more capable finisher at the rim against big men and take care of the ball better.

There is a lot like about Trimble’s game—notably that he is a strong shooter, high-volume scorer and an effective distributor. Last year, he shot 49 percent from the floor to complement his 40-minute points per game average of 18.2. Trimble does, though, need to three point shooter this season as he shot 31 percent from downtown last year—down from 41 percent one year prior. Lastly, he was one of the better passing point guards in the conference last year with six assists per 40 minutes.

OG Anunoby

If you want to see a physical specimen on the floor, then pay close attention to Indiana’s Anunoby this season as he prepares for the draft. He is listed at 6’8" but his wingspan is listed at 7’6"—an attribute that only enhances his great athleticism. Anunoby is well on his way to a breakout year for the Hoosiers and as the NBA’s next great two-way wing player.

Anunoby showed great promise his freshman year as a lockdown defender on the wing. As a powerful, skilled and agile defender, he has a strong ability to harass ball handlers. For a player as young as he, Anunoby exhibits fantastic energy and commitment on the defensive end. He also showed a good promise as a rebounder, averaging 7.7 rebounds per 40 minutes.

Offensively, there is still much room to grow in his sophomore season. Though he is dangerous above the rim and in transition, opportunities where he is able to use his great speed, he must improve as a jump shooter. Anunoby did show good promise, though, as a scorer in his freshman season by averaging 14.2 points per 40 minutes.

With a strong offensive season, and continued growth as a defender, Anunoby can become a top-10 pick and begin to draw comparisons to Victor Oladipo and Kawhi Leonard.