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.
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.
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.
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.