The 2017 NBA Draft is one of the deepest in years, with a ton of potential impact players available. This year more than usual, teams are going overboard to ensure they make the right pick and don’t miss out on a potential franchise-changing talent.
With that in mind, here’s a look at five of the riskier players in this year’s draft. These high-risk, high-reward guys could wind up being massive steals or huge busts depending on how their development goes. If a franchise decides to gamble on one of the following players, the pick could look genius or moronic in a few years.
Jonathan Jeanne, C, France
Need a long-armed rim protector? Then draft Jonathan Jeanne. The Frenchman blew up at the NBA draft combine by measuring in at 7’2″ with a 7’6.5″ wingspan. Jeanne also did fantastic work in his second scrimmage, posting 14 points, nine rebounds and three blocks, but he doesn’t come without some serious risk.
Jeanne weighed in at a skeletal 207 pounds at the combine and at 19 years old, no one has any idea how he’ll fill out. But the pluses are there. He moves incredibly well for his size, has a nice jumper out to the 3-point line, can handle the ball and isn’t a total loss as a passer. Also, did I mention he has a 9’6″ standing reach?
Jeanne may never fill out and if that happens he could be a wasted pick. In fact, his slight frame would lead me to believe he’ll have a lot of difficulty carrying weight. But the upside here is tantalizing. The team that takes him may want Jeanne to stay in Europe for a year or two to fill out and develop.
OG Anunoby, SF, Indiana
A super-athletic wing prospect, OG Anunoby entered this season with lottery pick hype and sputtered. Then a torn ACL ended his sophomore campaign prematurely, throwing his draft stock into question. His offensive game never really developed, though he has shown flashes of being a highly-efficient scorer with a jumper. Despite the questions, he decided to make the leap to the draft and not look back.
Anunoby’s calling card will always be his elite defense. At 6’8″ and 232 pounds with a 7’2″ wingspan, he can guard four positions on the floor. He has absurd athleticism, an NBA-ready body and can finish in close. But his ball-handling, and offensive IQ need to get much better, while his jumper has to find consistency.
If Anunoby develops offensively, he could be a Kawhi Leonard-type. If he doesn’t, he could wind up being a defender off the bench at best. There’s a lot of risk here, particularly in the lottery of a deep draft.
Harry Giles, PF, Duke
Harry Giles entered college as one of the top recruits in the nation and wound up falling far short of expectations. Thanks to nagging injuries, he averaged just 3.9 points, 3.8 rebounds and 11.5 minutes per game. Based purely on potential, he opted to jump into the draft and forgo another year at Duke.
At the combine Giles tested well, measuring in at 6’11” and 232 pounds, with massive hands and a 7’3″ wingspan. If healthy, the 19-year-old’s game is NBA-ready. He is a fantastic rebounder and a great scorer on the interior, while also being solid defensively. He needs to get bigger to take the pounding of the NBA, but he has the look of a really good fit at the next level.
There’s just one problem: Giles has torn ACLs in both of his knees and his medical evaluations will have everything to do with where he’s drafted. This is a kid who has been among the top players in his age group for years and if he’s healthy there’s no reason he can’t continue to be. If his knees are OK it should be smooth sailing for Giles. If not? He may not last long in the league.