The NBA Draft board is usually drastically shaken up by some impressive performances from players in the NCAA Tournament. The top three prospects in this year’s draft should all have their chance in the tournament to show they should be the No. 1 pick come the NBA Draft in June. Even more players will put their talents on display to shoot their way up draft boards come the tournament as well.
The top prospect in many people’s eyes is Jabari Smith from Auburn. The freshman is drawing comparisons to some NBA greats such as Chris Bosh and even Kevin Durant. At six-foot-ten Smith can shoot and handle the ball like a guard but also shoot over any defender with his smooth and effortless jump shot. In just 27 minutes per game he has averaged 16 points, seven rebounds, and shoots 42% from three. During the tournament, look for those numbers to go up as Auburn makes a deep run.
Another top prospect who many people have as the second or third projected pick in the draft is Purdue’s Jaden Ivy. Ivy is a sophomore guard who is an explosive athlete similar to current up and coming players in the NBA like Dejounte Murray and Ja Morant. The emergence of those two NBA players likely has bolstered his draft stock. A deep tournament run where Ivy can show off his athleticism and score higher than this average of 17 points per game could solidify him at No. 2 in the draft, if not No. 1.
One of the most hyped freshmen this year is the lanky seven-foot center, Chet Holmgren. Gonzaga will be poised for another deep tournament run where Holmgren can show everyone what he has been doing all year. In just 26 minutes per game, Holmgren is averaging 3.3 blocks per and is also shooting 46% from three. He reminds a lot of people of Kristaps Porzingis when he first came in the league before his injuries. Holmgren is even better on defense than him though. His impact on the game could potentially be huge and worthy of the No. 1 pick this year.
Two other players who will look to have big performances in the tournament to raise their draft stock are two Duke Blue Devils. The first is Paolo Banchero, who looks NBA ready due to his size at 250 pounds and standing at six-foot-ten. The freshman was in talks for the No. 1 pick earlier in the year, and a big tournament performance could put his name back in that conversation.
Perhaps the player who could help himself the most in the tournament is another Duke freshmen, A.J. Griffin. Griffin After not having a big role early in the year, Griffin has come into his own and is now shooting almost 50% from three. A tournament performance from him where he can show off his scoring ability more may put him into the top-five picks come June.