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I know what you are thinking, why we talking about tanking in the NBA literally three weeks into the season? Some teams at the bottom of the current standings are not going to be there when it’s all said and done. Yes, I’m talking about the Golden State Warriors and Philadelphia 76ers both struggling in the early going.
Some teams, like the Houston Rockets, Detroit Pistons, Orlando Magic and Charlotte Hornets for example, probably starting watching the beginning of the Men’s College Basketball season that tips off on Monday afternoon. So, for those who only know about the “French Center” Victor Wembanyama, G-League Ignite’s Scoot Henderson and Amen and Asuar Thompson of Overtime Elite, here is a couple of names you might want to put next to them on your draft boards over the next few months from the college game.
Arkansas Guard Nick Smith Jr.
In about 99% of most draft classes, Smith Jr. would be the No.1 overall pick in the potential incoming draft class. At 6’5″ with a 6-foot 9-inch wingspan and with ability to score from anywhere on the court, Smith Jr. could already play in the NBA right now.
The Jordan Brand Classic MVP has shown the ability to shoot from all areas and at high efficiency. The top-overall player in the incoming freshman class nationally could lead to a dark horse team that could make a deep run in March.
Texas Forward Dillon Mitchell
The best two-way player in this year’s incoming class heads to Austin with a skillset that will have teams looking at him as a possible top-five pick in June. A Jordan Brand Classic game MVP for Team Air, Mitchell possesses an elite ability to finish in the open floor.
This left-handed freshman, at 6’7″ is also an incredible offensive rebounder, which will lead to potential highlight dunks off put-backs. Because he’s so athletic and has great footwork, it allows him to guard up to four positions on the court, making him just as valuable on the defensive end as he is on offense.
Duke Guard Dariq Whitehead and Forward Dereck Lively II
Jon Scheyer’s first year as the head coach of the Duke Blue Devils will be highlighted by the incoming freshman duo. Dillon Mitchell’s high school teammate Whitehead was considered by many as the top high school player in the country a season ago and for good reason. Possessing a combination of explosiveness and fluidness to go along with his 6’6″ height puts him a class of his own.
Whitehead can score from the midrange and or go to the rim and finish. That combination with his playmaking ability puts him as a top five potential selection in June. Whitehead will not start the season on the floor with the Blue Devils as he is sidelined by a foot that he fractured at the end of August.
Lively is considered the top big-man in this year’s class. Standing at 7’0″, Lively has a rare combination of old school size and new school offensive game. Besides being able to pretty much dunk anything near the rim, Lively has range beyond the arc as well.
That combination and the ability to be a monster in the pick-and-roll as a rim runner or a pick-and-pop player will have teams racing up the draft boards to select him in June. Lively is nursing a calf injury and should be return at some point in November.