We are less than a week away from the NBA Draft, and it's already been an absolute circus leading up to the festivities.

The Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers agreed to swap the No. 1 overall pick for the a package containing the No. 3 pick and a future first. Danny Ainge has been assembling draft assets for seemingly an eternity, and he keeps pushing back the return on his investment to a later date.

It also means the Celtics weren't truly sold on any of these prospects being that much better than the rest, because if they felt one of the top players was a future superstar, they'd draft him, regardless of positional fit.

Either way, Thursday night should be fun. I'll be releasing my mock draft later this week, but for now, here's my list of the top 20 players in the class, complied after hours of film study on top of watching them perform live throughout the season.

I'm higher on a few guys than the rest of the draft world seems to be, and I'm also selling a few guys others are buying. I'm open to discussion on any of these rankings, so feel free to tell me how much you love or hate them on Twitter @mlukes14.

1. Markelle Fultz, PG, Washington

The consensus top prospect in the draft can do it all offensively, from knocking down the long ball to scoring at the paint and creating for his teammates. The 19-year-old has the size, athleticism, and skill to excel at the next level, and the brain to fit into just about any system.

If he ends up on a team in rebuilding mode, Fultz can take over as the primary ball handler and use his silky smooth handle to pick apart and wreak havoc on defenses from the paint.

If he gets drafted by the 76ers and has to play alongside Ben Simmons, Fultz can play off the ball and help spread the floor with his above-average range. Fultz isn’t a great defender by any means, but he uses his size to pick up a ton of steals.

Washington may have sucked this year, but don’t put that blame on Fultz. He did just about everything he could.

2. Malik Monk, SG, Kentucky

If you like offense, Malik Monk is your guy. The Kentucky product wasn’t asked to do much more than score in his lone season in Lexington, and the shooting guard’s statistics reflect it.

Monk averaged 19.8 points per game, 2.5 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game, which align similarly with some of the NBA’s top sixth men like Lou Williams and Jamal Crawford. We know what Williams and Crawford can and can’t do, but the jury is still out on Monk.

He was flanked by two 5-star point guards at Kentucky, and was rarely asked to create off the dribble for teammates. Given his ability to create his own shot off the dribble, it’s not inconceivable that he could create for others off the dribble as well.

Regardless, Monk was put on this planet to put a basketball through the hoop, and he does that better than anyone else in this draft.

He’s has range well beyond the 3-point line and has a Steph Curry-esque quality about him in the sense that at any given moment of a game, he can get hot and tear off 15 points in a 3-minute span. If you need proof, just watch his 47-point explosion against UNC.

3. Jayson Tatum, SF, Duke

Jayson Tatum may have the highest floor of any prospect. In an absolute worst-case scenario, a team will be drafting a guy who can come off the bench and score 10-12 points per game and guard 3s and stretch 4s.

The best-case scenario for the Duke product is a Carmelo Anthony/Paul Pierce hybrid scorer who can be a team’s No. 1 option on offense. For a 19-year-old, Tatum’s offensive game is extremely well-rounded, but the small forward is most effective from the high post.

His midrange game is as good as it gets in this draft, but he can step beyond the line and knock down the 3 as well. When you say to yourself, "This dude just gets it," that’s exactly what you think when you watch him meticulously pick apart opposing defenses.

4. Josh Jackson, SF, Kansas

Josh Jackson could be the steal of the draft, and that’s not something you say often about a player who is expected to be drafted in the top 3. On paper, the Kansas freshman has everything you want from a player in today’s NBA.

He’s ridiculously athletic, busts his ass on both ends of the court, attacks the rim with reckless abandon and punishes defenders who get in his way, and has a high basketball IQ for a player with a relatively raw offensive game.

He struggles to consistently knock down his jumper, even though his 38-percent clip from beyond the arc is nothing to scoff at.

That percentage rose throughout the season as he began to feel more comfortable in Bill Self’s offense, which does give NBA teams hope that that trend will continue at the next level.

But most impressively, Jackson showed off world-class footwork on some post-ups, which with his size and athleticism could become a deadly move for him on the next level.

On the downside, Jackson often gets lost on offense, and you can go through long stretches of film and forget he’s even on the court.

All the tools are there for Jackson, but we’ve seen a handful of NBA draft hopefuls with similar skill-sets who haven’t panned out. For his sake, let’s hope he can buck that trend.

5. De’Aaron Fox, PG, Kentucky

If Fox could shoot, he’d be right up there with Fultz competing to be the No. 1 pick. But the reality is that his jumper is broken, and in today’s NBA, shooting is more a necessity than a luxury.

Teams will continue to go under screens until Fox can make them pay, and having that defender drop into the lane throws off the spacing for everyone else on the floor. However, Fox excels at just about every other facet of the game.

His first step is stupid quick, and he leaves good defenders in the dust on a nightly basis. In the open court, he has elite speed and is a one-man fast break off the defensive glass.

He’s crafty around the rim with an arsenal of floaters and runners, but he’ll need to improve his right-handed finishing on the next level. In college, he got away with using his left hand way too frequently because of his absurd athleticism, but NBA bigs are also athletic freaks.

The Kentucky freshman takes pride in his on-ball defense as well, and will hound opposing point guards up and down the court. If Fox can ever develop a consistent jump shot, he has all the other tools to become a perennial All-Star on the NBA level.

6. Dennis Smith Jr., PG, NC State

Dennis Smith Jr. is a bit on an anomaly. He’s only 6-foot-2, but he finishes around the rim like he’s LeBron James. He attacks the rim with such ferocity that he generates seismic activity every time he dunks the ball.

For a little guy, DSJ has no fear attacking the rim. He throws his body into bigger defenders and is strong enough to finish through the contact. While he’s at his best getting to the rim, he’s no slouch from behind-the-arc.

Defenders dared him to shoot at the beginning of the season and he made them pay. By the end of the year, teams were trying to double-team him on pick-and-rolls, and he was still getting to his spots.

Smith Jr. has a good sense of where his teammates are on the court, even if he doesn’t pull the trigger on the pass very often. But then again, his teammates at NC State were subpar, so a contested shot for Smith Jr. was likely still the best option for the Wolfpack.

7. Jonathan Isaac, SF, Florida State

Jonathan Isaac is good at a lot of things, but not really good at anything.

The Florida State product is built like Kevin Durant: tall, lanky and paper-thin. As Durant proved in the NBA Finals, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it does mean Isaac must refine his game to stick around at the next level.

Unlike Durant, Isaac isn’t a bonafide scorer. He can score off the bounce and he can knock down jumpers, but the majority of his offense this past season came in the flow of the game and not off set plays.

Isaac can step behind the 3-point line and knock down the long ball, but he’ll need to make that shot on a much more consistent basis before NBA defenses respect him from out there.

Right now, his 205-pound frame isn’t sturdy enough to band with NBA forwards down low, and that could be a major problem for him early on in his career.

But very few players have the raw talent and measurables as Isaac, and if he can put it all together, we could be looking at one of the more well-rounded forwards in basketball.

8. Donovan Mitchell, SG, Louisville

If Donovan Mitchell falls out of the lottery, the team that drafts him will be getting a huge steal. Mitchell was just a cog in the machine we call Louisville, pressuring opposing guards the length of the court and getting buckets in transition.

He’s an unbelievable athlete with even better control of his body in the air. He’s always looking to attack the rim and make opponents pay for getting in his way.

When Quinn Snider went down for part of the season, Rick Pitino asked Mitchell to fill in at point guard, and the results were better than anyone could have imagined. He’s not a natural floor general, but he’s a hybrid guard who can take on the ball-handling responsibilities for stretches.

Mitchell is more of a project than finished product at this point, but he’s the type of player who could flourish in the right system with a little bit of coaching.

9. Lonzo Ball, PG, UCLA

Lonzo Ball is the most talked about player in this draft by a mile. It’s partly because of his father (who won’t be named even though I am a big fan), but it’s also due to the fact his game is a bit unconventional and no one can really figure out where he fits best in today’s NBA.

A few years ago, Ball’s skill-set would fit the point guard position to a T. He’s a pass-first player who looks to get everyone else around him involved before looking to score. He possess an unparalleled feel for the game, and his court vision is second to none.

He sees plays developing two steps before his teammates even realize what they’re doing, and his sheer presence on the court makes everyone around him better.

UCLA boosted the highest powered offense in college basketball last year, and Ball was the catalyst that made every part of their offense run.

At the very worst, Ball can be an Andre Miller-type player: a pass-first point guard who elevates the play of his four teammates and can run the show but doesn’t pose much of a threat to score. That’s something every team in the NBA wants from its backup point guard.

The issue: you don’t draft backup point guards in the top 10, or even the top 5—especially not in the top 2. I’m not saying Ball is destined for a career on the bench, but I do have very serious concerns about his ability to score on the NBA level.

In college, Ball scored most of his points on 3-pointers and layups at the rim. He’s an above-average standstill shooter, and that skill should carry on to the next level.

But he struggled against NBA-caliber defenders, and his lack of athleticism and ability to create separation scream trouble moving forward. At this point of his career, Ball doesn’t have any sort of midrange game, and his funky-side-of-the-head release isn’t doing him any favors.

Until he can develop that aspect of his offensive arsenal, teams are going to pressure the hell out of Ball and force him to break them down off the dribble, which is another area he struggles in.

I think Ball can be a valuable piece on a very good team moving forward, but I don’t think he possesses the offensive skill-set to be the building block for a franchise in shambles.

10. DJ Wilson, PF, Michigan

NBA teams are always searching for the next Draymond Green, but the reality is finding a player like that in the second round is virtually impossible.

Defensive-minded unselfish superstars that don't mind being the fourth option don't come through the ranks very often. And when they do, they're almost always gobbled up in the lottery.

Green excels in Golden State because he can guard every position on the court, knock down open 3s, and create offense for others off the dribble.

Michigan's DJ Wilson is built like Green, and he displayed all the skills that made Green a superstar during his team's run to the Elite 8 in the NCAA Tournament. Wilson flew up draft boards in March after helping lead the Wolverines on that improbable run that started in the Big 10 tournament.

He was their catalyst defensively, and played a perfect second-fiddle to Derrick Walton Jr. on offense. Wilson can stretch the floor as an effective pick-and-pop player, but he's also crafty enough with the ball in his hands to break down defenses and get to the rim.

Defensively, he's long, lanky, and quick enough laterally to stay in front of smaller defenders on the perimeter.

He's built more like Kevin Durant than Draymond Green, but KD proved this season that length and instincts are more important than brute strength when it comes to defending in the post.

Wilson most likely won't hear his name called until the end of the first round, but any team that drafts him will be getting a player with all the makings of an elite role player in the NBA for years to come.


11. Harry Giles, PF, Duke

Two years ago, Harry Giles was looked at as a lock to be a top-three pick, drawing comparisons to Kevin Garnett. Multiple ACL surgeries and an underwhelming freshman campaign at Duke later, Giles is looking like a late-lottery pick at best.

We haven’t seen the 19-year-old fully healthy in almost three years now, and that’s a major concern moving forward, but a healthy Harry Giles is a force to be reckoned with. The 6-foot-11 big is long and explosive around the rim.

On the glass, he attacks the ball with two hands and keeps fighting until the rebound is secured. We didn’t see him play much with his back to the basket at Duke, but he did display his soft touch around the rim as the roller in P&R situations.

In today’s NBA, bigs are frequently asked to guard perimeter players after switching screens, and he has the makeup to be an above-average defender in those situations.

But for the Duke product, it all comes down to health. If he can ever get his body right, Giles could be one of the two or three best players in the draft. If he doesn’t, we could be looking at the next Greg Oden.

12. Lauri Markkanen, PF, Arizona

Just about every big man in the NBA these days can stretch the floor, and Lauri Markkanen does that better than any other big in this year’s class.

He’s the best pick-and-pop player in the draft, and any team that could use a big with his skill-set should be chomping at the bit to draft the 20-year-old from Finland. Markkanen is more than just a shooter, though.

From time to time, he showed the ability to create his own shot, whether it was by getting his defender off balance with a pump fake or by simply breaking them down off the dribble.

He’s not a great finisher around the rim, but he should be able to improve in that area once he gets on a NBA weight-training regimen. Markkanen is, at best, a subpar rebounder, so any team that drafts him will need to pair him up with a more traditional center.

He'll also need to bulk up if he wants to stick around for a while; he was bullied way too frequently at Arizona. Either way, Markkanen fits the mold of what NBA teams are looking for in stretch 4s.

13. OG Anunoby, SF, Indiana

OG Anunoby was an efficient scorer at Indiana, but he’s not a great offensive player. He’s your prototypical 3-and-D wing that can stretch the floor and knock down shots from the corner and then get up and pressure the opposing ball-handler in the backcourt.

He’s an unbelievable athlete with a NBA-ready body right now, standing 6-foot-8 and 235 pounds. Defensively is where he’ll flourish on the next level, with the lateral quickness to stay in front of opposing point guards and the raw strength to bang with opposing bigs.

3-and-D wings are at a premium with the way the NBA has evolved into a long-ball shooting league, and Anunoby could slide into a team’s rotation from day 1 and contribute on both ends of the court.

14. Frank Ntilikina, PG, France

I’d be lying to you if I said I felt confident in my evaluation of Ntilikina, because it’s so hard to judge a player you haven’t seen play live. However, it’s evident that he excels in a few areas.

First and foremost, his ability to change speeds with the ball in his hands jumps off the screen. He’s not a great athlete, but his ability to keep defenders on their heels with hesitation moves and short explosions of speed get him by.

He’s a pass-first point guard who can be too unselfish. His jumper is a work in progress, but the same can be said for a handful of the top prospects in this class.

He has the size to guard multiple positions, but it’s tough to gauge his defensive prowess from the tape. He’s playing in a high level German league, but that’s nothing compared to NBA athletes.

15. Jarrett Allen, C, Texas

At the end of the lottery, teams usually draft based on potential, and very few players have as high a ceiling as Texas’ Jarrett Allen.

Although he’s only listed at 6-foot-10, Allen measured a 7-foot-5 wingspan at the combine and a 9-foot-2 standing reach. That’s exactly what you want from a rim-protector.

The freshman is extremely raw offensively and doesn’t really have any go-to moves to count on for buckets in the post. His best asset offensively is rolling to the rim and using his athleticism to finish.

His best skills are on the defensive end of the court, where he gobbled up shots on a regular basis during his only year at Texas. Allen’s a good rebounder on both ends of the court and is fluid enough as an athlete to beat other bigs down the court for easy buckets.

He’s far from a finished product, but he has all the tools to be an effective rim protector, rebounder, and roller as his career progresses.

16. Luke Kennard, SG, Duke

The most important shot in the NBA these days is the 3-pointer, and Luke Kennard is arguably the best long-ball marksman in this draft class. The Duke product's basketball IQ is through the roof, and he always seems to be open on the perimeter.

That may sound silly, but getting open takes skill more than luck. Kennard excels at running his defenders into screens to get a sliver of space to get a shot up, then uses that exact same play as a decoy later in the half to curl to the hoop for an easy deuce.

The Warriors just ran through the league on the backs of three of the best shooters ever, so it's not wonder Kennard is so highly regarded for his marksmanship even though the rest of his game needs work.

17. Zach Collins, C, Gonzaga

On paper, Zach Collins checks all the boxes. He's big, athletic, has a nice touch on his jumper for a big, and has shown the ability to protect the rim. The issue is we don't know too much about him because of his role at Gonzaga.

Collins came off the bench for the Bulldogs behind two All-American-caliber senior big men. He only averaged 17 minutes of playing time per game, but he was very effective and efficient in those minutes.

It is important to remember that a majority of those minutes came against weak competition in the West Coast Conference, but his 20-point, 12-rebound, and 4-block per-36 average should not be overlooked.

Collins struggled with foul trouble against some of the bigger, more physical teams Gonzaga saw in the NCAA Tournament, and the majority of NBA big men are even bigger and even stronger. He's a project, but a project with tremendous upside.

18. Justin Patton, C, Creighton

Justin Patton is raw on both ends of the court but has shown flashes of elite level skill, and that's what NBA GMs want from mid-to-late first-round picks. He's a legit 7-footer with above-average athleticism for his size.

Patton was a virtual no-name recruit who redshirted his freshman year at Creighton, then skyrocketed up draft boards this season. He's best suited in a pick-and-roll heavy offensive system where he can set screens and roll hard to the rim.

The seven-footer has displayed a nice touch around the rim but is long enough to posterize defenders who try and block his shot. Patton can also step out beyond-the-arc and knock down a jumper if left open.

On the other end of the court, Patton's length and quick first jump create distractions around the rim. The biggest knock on him is his lack of physicality. He only averaged 6.2 rebounds and 2.5 free throw attempts per game despite being the most talented big in the Big East this season.

Much like Collins, Patton is a high-risk, high-reward pick.

19. TJ Leaf, PF, UCLA

Offensively, TJ Leaf is a top six or seven prospect in this draft. Defensively, he's a late second-rounder at best.

The 6-foot-10 UCLA freshman was the perfect complement to Lonzo Ball and the rest of the Bruins this year—a true stretch player who could do damage from just about every spot on the court.

Leaf is also an underrated athlete who displayed bursts of explosion towards the rim at times this season. Defensively however, Leaf can't guard anyone. He's not strong enough to bang with NBA big men down low, and he's not quick enough to stay in front of wings and more mobile stretch 4s.

He reminds me a lot of Doug McDermott, who shone offensively in college but projected as a low-level NBA defender. McDermott is still struggling to find consistent minutes after being traded from Chicago to Oklahoma City at the trade deadline.

Leaf's defensive abilities, or lack thereof, could prohibit him from ever finding a steady role at the next level.

20. Tony Bradley, C, UNC

Tony Bradley is a dinosaur in today's NBA, but there's always a need for massive human beings who can gobble up rebounds and protect the rim.

Bradley is huge, standing at 6-foot-10 with a 7-foot-4 wingspan, and he's bulky enough to hold his own against even the biggest centers in the league, despite being just 19 years old.

Bradley, much like Zach Collins, played a complementary role in college behind UNC's veteran front line. When he did play, he stuffed the stat sheet, averaging about 21 points and 15 rebounds per 36 minutes.

His biggest downfall is on the defensive end of the court. Bradley isn't very quick laterally and will be a fish out of water guarding perimeter players beyond the arc. But at the same time, opposing teams that go small will have nightmares keeping him off the glass.


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