With the 2016 NBA Draft in the books, a nation turns its lonely eye towards 2017. While draftniks bemoaned the lack of surefire stars in 2016, 2017 should be much different. Any team in the lottery could grab a potential star, and the entire first round could add a legit rotation piece.
After a disappointing draft from KU's perspective, 2017 looks different. The Jayhawks should have a top 5 pick, at least one more first-rounder, and as many as five total Jayhawks drafted next June.
Josh Jackson is projected to go 1st by CBS Sports and 4th by DraftExpress. Bill Self's offense doesn't showcase wings too well, but it showcased Andrew Wiggins well enough to go first overall. Those who have read me know how little I care about or follow recruiting, but USA Basketball events are one of the rare exceptions. Jackson excelled in the 2014 U-17 world championships in Dubai, averaging 10.6 ppg, 8 rpg, and 3 apg. He backed that up with a great U-19 world championships in 2015, averaging 12.1 ppg, 7 rpg, and 2 apg. Jackson's shot needs some work, but his defense and intensity means he should have a great year for the Jayhawks, which will propel him to the top 5 of next summer's NBA Draft.
Svi Mykhailiuk showed towards the tail end of last season what he can bring to the table. The 6-8 guard handles the ball well, plays good on ball defense (though off ball he still needs work) and is excellent in the pick and roll. His 3-point shooting improved to 38 percent against D1 competition, and the lack of good 3 and D guys in the league, not to mention guys who could theoretically play the 1, 2, or 3, make Svi a very attractive candidate. He is also younger than Josh Jackson, so he still has room to grow. I think he will probably slip into the 20s or 30s, but he will be a better pro than college player.
Devonte Graham exploded towards the end of last season, winning MVP of the Big 12 tournament and putting himself squarely in next year's Big 12 POY conversation. Graham is too small to play the 2 in the NBA, so he will have to improve his passing ability in order to get drafted after this season. We haven't gotten a good look at his passing abilities with Frank Mason having the ball so often, but if a team thinks he can play point, Graham should get drafted if he comes out based on his shooting ability and defense. He is in a tough spot because the 2017 draft is so good, but he will be 22 next June so age-wise he can't really afford to wait until 2018.
Lagerald Vick is a guy people haven't heard from yet, but they will. He is 6-5 and can probably reasonably play both the 2 and 3. Vick has a nice outside shot and has all the tools to be a good defender. 2017 is probably too early for him to get drafted, partially due to a logjam in the KU backcourt, but I expect him to force himself into the rotation this year, explode next year, and eventually be no worse than an early 2nd round pick.
Carlton Bragg struggled defensively last season, but offensively was already virtually as good as Perry Ellis from an efficiency standpoint. At 6-9 and possessing the ability to both consistently make a jumper and put the ball on the floor, Bragg should get a lot of attention from NBA scouts. Given the way Self likes to use his big men, I think Bragg will showcase his versatility and lead Kansas in scoring next season. From a draft standpoint I'm not as concerned about him getting bullied on the block as much as I am with his ability to guard on the perimeter, as that's likely where his professional future lies.