NBA draft scouting: Best prospects at the U17 World Cup

NBA draft scouting: Best prospects at the U17 World Cup

15 Temmuz 2018 - 02:00

The FIBA U17 World Cup -- occurring every other year since 2010 -- has already produced 30 first-round picks, making it an essential date on the NBA scouting calendar, despite the fact that the majority of players are at least two or three years away from being drafted.

The U.S. steamrollered its way to a gold medal, winning each game by an average of 54 points. While the U.S. may have put forth perhaps its most talented group ever at this event, many scouts continue to express concern at the dwindling number of NBA-caliber prospects emerging from Europe (at least outside of France). Nine Europeans were picked in the 2016 draft, but the numbers have dropped off dramatically since, with three being selected in the first round in 2017, three in 2018 and only two currently projected in 2019.

Here's our look at the top NBA prospects from the tournament in Argentina:

More: Seven long-term draft prospects to watch from the U17 World Cup

1. Jalen Green | PG/SG | USA | 16.4 years old

Green was rightly named MVP, as he was the most productive player on the dominant U.S. team despite being its youngest member. Recently measuring 6-foot-4 barefoot, he came off the bench and averaged 16 points in 19 minutes. Green is a freakish athlete who exhilarated the crowd in warm-ups and tried to dunk everything in games as well, attacking the rim ferociously and converting 74 percent of his 2-point attempts. He is excellent in the open court, operating out of ball screens and creating his own shot one-on-one.

He's equally aggressive defensively, using his quick feet, decent 6-7½ wingspan and tough mentality to smother guards and wings. His 172-pound frame hasn't filled out all that much in the past year, but considering he's only 16, he has time. Green was the most capable shooter for the U.S., going 15-of-44 from 3, but he has unorthodox mechanics that might need to be tweaked eventually. He's a career 33 percent 3-point shooter but has natural touch (career 75 percent from the foul line) and makes enough jumpers to leave significant room for optimism.

Green won't be eligible to be drafted until 2021 unless the one-and-done rule is abolished.

2. Evan Mobley | PF/C | USA | 17.0

Mobley has only recently emerged as a top-shelf prospect with his play this spring.

Measured recently at 6-10 barefoot with a 7-4 wingspan, Mobley has the size and length of a center but is skilled enough to get time at power forward as well. He moves exceptionally well, covering ground fluidly and getting off his feet effortlessly for blocks, dunks and rebounds. He shows good vision and passing ability for a late-blooming big, and he flashes soft touch out to midrange, indicating stretch potential in time. Mobley's instincts defensively are particularly impressive, especially as a rim-protector. He rotates very well from the weakside, ranking third in the tournament in blocks (5.6 per 40 minutes) while also getting in the passing lanes prolifically (2.8 steals per 40).

It will be interesting to see how Mobley's physicality evolves as he continues to fill out his lanky frame (192 pounds). He gets backed down relatively easy and is a little inconsistent with his level of effort. His long legs and high hips make it difficult at times to change directions on the fly. Although he's at a much earlier stage of development than many of the players seen in Argentina, Mobley's size, length, instincts and touch are tailor-made for today's NBA, especially if he can continue to make strides in his two-way perimeter game.

3. Scottie Barnes | PF | USA | 16.8

Barnes looked content doing all the little things needed to help his team win games. Having grown to 6-8 with a 7-2 wingspan and a 210-pound frame that should fill out in time, Barnes played the Draymond Green/Justise Winslow role perfectly from the power forward spot, handling quite a bit of the facilitation duties en route to averaging more than five assists per 40 minutes. He did a great job of feeding the post and he's extremely creative using skip passes over the top of the defense to find shooters in the corners. Barnes loves to ignite the offense off the defensive glass, difficult to contain in the open court with his athleticism.

Barnes set the tone with tenacity on the defensive end. Strong and long enough to put a body on almost any big man but highly capable of smothering point guards as well, Barnes has tremendous technique and instincts to go along with his ferocious attitude and ideal physical tools. That manifested itself with the way he got on the glass (12.9 rebounds per 40), blocked shots (1.8 per 40) and got in the passing lanes (2.9 steals per 40), as well as the way he took it upon himself to shut down the other team's best player.

There are still some concerns about his ability to keep defenses honest at the college and NBA levels. His jump shot is a major work in progress, and although he has begun to show some progress, his mechanics and touch need work (career 62 percent on free throws).

4. Theo Maledon | PG | France | 17.0

Maledon wasn't particularly productive or efficient and came up flat in the championship game, but it's difficult not to be enamored with his combination of size (6-3¾ barefoot), length (6-8½ wingspan), fluidity and instincts at point guard. He continues to make progress with his jumper, particularly pulling up off the dribble, and should be able to emerge as a good shooter in time. He changes speeds impressively in the open court, with great touch on his floaters, excellent court vision and creativity on passes and finishes. Plus he's a highly versatile defender who can be used on guards and wings.

Maledon is still figuring out how to harness his talent and play with more consistency, as he lacks polish in some key areas and is not the most naturally aggressive player. His ballhandling in the half court is a work in progress, as he tends to turn his back to the action. You'd like to see him be more forceful accelerating out of ball screens to get to the rim, draw contact and get to the free throw line, as he often prefers to stop short of the basket. He will need to speed up the release on his jumper as well.

Maledon is loaded with talent, but to take the next step in his development, scouts will want to see him continue to add toughness, explosiveness and assertiveness as he makes the transition to senior competition in France.

5. Malcolm Cazalon | SG/SF | France | 16.8

Cazalon continued his emergence as a top-shelf prospect in his age group with a strong overall showing, though his performance in the championship game somewhat disappointed.

Cazalon has ideal physical tools for a NBA wing, measuring 6-5 barefoot with a massive 6-10½ wingspan and outstanding athletic ability. He has a powerful first step, gets off his feet effortlessly and he's rangy with his strides both attacking the rim and covering ground defensively. Cazalon's jumper wasn't falling consistently but he has shown the ability to knock down shots, even if he could stand to improve the speed of his release and become more dynamic off the move. He also shows flashes of being able to create his own shot impressively in the half court.

The next step will be to continue to polish his handle, improve his off hand and get stronger and tougher with the way he finishes inside the paint, as he can fade away from contact.

6. Killian Hayes | SG | France | 16.9

Hayes was having an outstanding week before running into the American defense, which forced him into a very difficult night (3-of-12 FGs, four turnovers). Still, he has shown enough to demonstrate that he's an elite prospect in his age group, and it will be interesting to see how he bounces back from a disappointing final.

Hayes' calling card continues to be just how versatile and well-rounded he is on both ends of the floor, allowing him to slide between positions 1-3. He's an excellent defender who is developing into a very capable shooter, and he has a high basketball IQ and polished skill level to match his ripped frame and aggressive style. He played mostly off the ball at this tournament but showed the ability to make reads with both simple and creative passes.

Hayes puts a lot of pressure on himself when things don't go his way, and he doesn't always have the quickness to create his own high-percentage looks in the half court. He is heavily reliant on his pull-up jumper, which is still very streaky, and needs to do a better job of valuing the ball and not trying to thread the needle with home-run plays.

7. Vernon Carey | C | USA | 17.3

Carey was impossible for any big man to slow down, leading the tourney in PER while averaging a ridiculous 29 points, 18 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 2.3 steals and 1.5 blocks per 40 minutes. Carey has imposing size, standing 6-10 and 277 pounds, but he's exceptionally skilled offensively, both with his back to the basket and facing the rim. He is well-rounded offensively, even showing the ability to make midrange jumpers with a form that should extend to 3 in time. While capable of operating on the perimeter, he looked pretty content playing inside. He has soft hands and is a force on the offensive glass with his massive frame and terrific rebounding instincts. 

Big men in Carey's mold are struggling to find a niche in today's NBA. His conditioning leaves a lot to be desired, and he has gotten noticeably heavier over the past 18 months. He doesn't have exceptional length (7-1 wingspan) and that can affect him in traffic, as he's not explosive and doesn't like to use his off hand. The main concern projecting forward is where he fits defensively. He's not much of a rim protector and really struggles when asked to step out and guard on the perimeter. His intensity level tends to fluctuate.

Considering how young he is, Carey still has plenty of time to show he's more DeMarcus Cousins than Jahlil Okafor, but he'll have to become more focused.

8. Isaiah Stewart | C | USA | 17.1

Like Carey, Stewart was a dominant force on the interior, finishing second in the tournament in PER. Stewart has made a significant effort to chisel his 242-pound frame and become more versatile defensively, and the results were evident in Argentina. He's a worker who barks out coverages and throws his body around relentlessly with his 7-4 wingspan, even if he'll need to continue working on his ability to cover ground on the perimeter and rotate to protect the rim.

Offensively, Stewart doesn't need any plays called for him, finding his touches by running the floor, crashing the glass and presenting himself at the rim off cuts and rolls. His skill level is making strides, particularly in terms of his passing, and he has even started to show some flashes of being able to hit a midrange jumper. With that said, he's not the most naturally athletic big. Stewart isn't the prototype NBA center, but his length, strength, competitiveness, productivity and approach certainly give him a good chance of carving out a long career regardless.

9. Wendell Moore | SF | USA | 16.8

Starting every game and playing an important complementary role, Moore showed his potential as an NBA role player who ticks quite a few boxes. He has excellent size at 6-4½ barefoot with a gigantic 7-foot wingspan and chiseled 216-pound frame that should allow him to spend plenty of time as a modern power forward. He's a good, not great, athlete who mostly stays in his lane and contributes with his willingness to move the ball, minimize mistakes and play strong defense. He's very good in the open court, takes care off the ball and guards all over the floor.

His skill level is a work in progress, as evidenced by shooting 7-of-37 from 3 in EYBL and FIBA play this spring and summer. His form is fairly mechanical but not broke at all, and the fact that he has made more than 80 percent of his career free throws (on more than 1,000 attempts, per Krossover) certainly bodes well. He's already showing some progress with his ability to make pull-up jumpers given time and space. Moore isn't much of a creator in the half court, as the ball slows him down and he mostly relies on strength to bulldoze his way through opponents with right-handed drives. The flashes he shows as a passer are encouraging, though, and it's important to note that he will enroll in college as a 17-year-old, one of the younger players in his class.

10. Isaac Okoro | SF | USA | 17.4

Coming off a breakout spring on the EYBL circuit in which he averaged 18 points, Okoro is still far from a polished player at this stage. His main intrigue lies in his outstanding physical tools, standing 6-5 barefoot with big hands, a 6-8½ wingspan, a chiseled 213-pound frame and strong athletic ability that allows him to play above the rim. At this tournament he was mostly asked to play lock-down defense, get out in the open floor, make the extra pass in the half court and contribute on the glass. He has a good feel for the game and knows his strengths. He was particularly impressive sliding between positions defensively.

Okoro's development as a ball handler and shooter probably will determine his ceiling and how much time he spends in college. His stroke, while on the rigid side, shows some potential, even though he shot just 10-of-36 from 3 in EYBL and FIBA play and he's a career 63 percent shooter from the foul line.

11. Addison Patterson | SG | Canada | 17.0

The clear-cut leader of Canada's fourth-place squad, Patterson had a strong tournament, finishing second with 32 points per 40. An incisive slasher and advanced shot creator blessed with tremendous scoring instincts, Patterson lives in the paint and is extremely creative with the way he generates offense, using polished footwork, ballhandling skills, body control and timing. He does a great job of attacking unbalanced defenses with extreme aggressiveness, and he has some underrated explosiveness that -- along with skill shots -- allow him to finish effectively around the basket. He plays the game somewhat selfishly and isn't the most efficient player, but he does have the ability to find the open man when he wants to with solid court vision and creativity.

Defensively, his average length coupled with his general lack of interest makes him a less-than-effective option when he's not fully locked in. Patterson has been a streaky shooter throughout his career, but it's hard to ignore his overall shot-making prowess and career 75 percent free throw shooting. There are a few minor tweaks he can make with his mechanics -- to not splay his legs on some attempts or jump way forward on others -- that would make a difference.

Patterson's body language and interactions with teammates, opponents and referees often leaves something to be desired. With that said, you have to respect the mentality he brings every time he steps on the floor, as he's simply not afraid of anything. He will probably emerge as a somewhat controversial prospect once he arrives in college because of his extreme strengths and weaknesses. He's currently in the 2020 high school class but is right on the border of potentially being a 2019 recruit with his June birthday.

12. De'Vion Harmon | PG | USA | 17.4

The Oklahoma commit did a nice job of making things happen for the Americans at starting PG while also demonstrating some of the things he'll need to work on to reach his full potential. On the smaller side at just 6-foot barefoot, Harmon has a 6-7 wingspan that allows him to play much bigger than his height. He has a strong frame that will fill out nicely in time and he's a solid athlete who operates at different speeds.

Harmon is at his best in the open court, where his strong ballhandling skills, body control and extreme aggressiveness allows him to get into the teeth of the defense frequently. He absorbs contact impressively once there, drawing fouls prolifically and finishing well. In the half court, Harmon is a shaky decision-maker who thinks score first and needs to improve his court vision and ability to make others better. To take the next step in his development, Harmon will need to continue to improve his perimeter shooting ability, as he's inconsistent with a slow release that gets very little rotation.

Harmon's toughness, aggressiveness and overall scoring prowess bodes well for his chances of making a great impact on the college game, but he will need to continue to add polish to his game to solidify his NBA prospects.

13. Oumar Ballo | C | Mali | 15.9

Ballo emerged as a dominant force as the week moved on, shattering the FIBA single-game rebounding record with an emphatic 32-point, 32-rebound performance in a triple-OT loss to the Dominican Republic. He ended up with the highest PER of any non-American at the event, which is impressive considering he was one of the younger players in attendance.

Standing 6-11 with a massive 7-5 wingspan and 280-pound frame, Ballo faces questions about how well his bulldozing style will translate to higher levels of competition. Still, there's obvious talent, starting with his excellent hands, polished footwork, soft touch and decent passing ability. He is a strong lob target and has tremendous rebounding instinct. Ballo is very impressive when operating at maximum intensity, which unfortunately isn't always the case. There is little doubt that he projects as an outstanding college player at the very least.

Ballo's NBA future is a little murkier. He struggles badly stepping outside the paint defensively and needs time to load up for finishes around the rim. He didn't appear to be in very good shape at this tournament, getting winded easily. His shooting mechanics need significant work (53 percent on free throws here, 49 percent career). Ballo is so young that he has time to address some of the concerns that are typical with players in his mold, but he hasn't made much progress in key areas in the past year, which raises some concerns.

14. Matthew-Alexander Moncrieffe | SF/PF | Canada | 17.2

Moncrieffe had a very productive tournament with 23 points and 16 rebounds per 40, showing intriguing long-term potential. Standing 6-6 with a 7-foot wingspan and big hands, he has ideal physical tools for a modern-day wing, and he's a smooth athlete who can play above the rim with ease. Moncrieffe is at his best attacking in the open floor and beating defenders on a straight line with his quick first step and rangy strides, getting to the line at an outstanding rate.

He's not a great ball handler, but he shows you flashes of being able to create offense in more complicated ways, changing hands and mixing in advanced moves. His size, length, athleticism and aggressive nature gives him multipositional versatility defensively as well. The big question Moncrieffe will have to address long term revolves around his jumper, as he was just 2-of-12 from 3 in the spring and summer and is shooting just 65 percent on free throws.

15. Jalen Suggs | PG/SG | USA | 17.0

Suggs came off the bench for 15 minutes per game but didn't shy away, as shown in his per 40 averages of 22.6 points, 6.3 rebounds, 7.0 assists, 6.3 turnovers and 8.5 steals.

He has good size for a combo guard at 6-4 with a frame that should fill out nicely in time, and he's a very good athlete who plays above the rim effortlessly. He is quick with a strong first step and excels in the open floor, attacking the rim relentlessly on every opportunity but also demonstrating nice potential as a jump-shooter. He was one of the better defenders on this squad, putting tremendous pressure on opponents with his size and quick feet, regularly heating up the ball and forcing turnovers.

The main concerns lie with his wild style of play, as he tends to pass up open teammates, preferring to drive head first into brick walls rather than make the extra pass. His shot selection is fairly poor, as he has made just 27 percent of his careers 3s and posted a 1:1 assist-to-turnover rate. He doesn't have ideal length for a wing at 6-5, so you would like to see him develop his court vision, which he has plenty of time to do.



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