Every year, as the NBA draft approaches, I find myself having the same curiosity about ranking players from previous drafts to the current one. Based on their pre-draft scouting reports, how would some of our recent picks (White, Carter Jr., Markkanen) rank against this year's draft class if they were in this draft?
I guess you could say they'd look good in a weak (as some say) draft. With the ancillary analysis of if their drafts were redone where would they fit?
I think Zach LaVine would, at least the player he is now, go No. 1 in this draft. I keep hearing this simple observation about meaningless stats, though 25 points per game still count. I know it's supposed to match wins, but especially in these playoffs, we see players' impact is enhanced by teammates. Anthony Edwards is generally regarded as the top draft talent. So I'm sure Zach will be better next season than Edwards. And for many to come. Which of course will be Zach's seventh year in the NBA. Zach hasn't been an All-Star, but he can make a case. Going back to his 2014 draft, he'd probably go top five. Joel Embiid and Nikola Jokic, the latter a second round pick, go one/two.
The Bull who has taken the biggest fall lately probably has been Lauri Markkanen, who maybe drops in this draft to around 10 with the likes of the shooters, like Devin Vassell. Before last season we'd have ranked him much higher and maybe top three, so with a bit more force and a new coach his rating could reemerge much higher. Markkanen now probably ranks close to No. 10 in his draft class with Nos. 13 and 14, Donovan Mitchell and Bam Adebayo, passing him.
Wendell Carter Jr. because of the injuries and also being held back on offense last season probably is in the second five in this draft ranked starting around the level of Onyeka Okongwu and perhaps to the bottom of the lottery with the likes of Patrick Williams. Like with Markkanen, this is a vital season for him to show development. Carter has held steady and probably still grades about seventh in his class.
Coby White should make the soon-to-be-announced all-rookie team after being snubbed for the Rising Stars game due to various mixed playing messages in the first half of the season. Instead of, you know, just score, baby. Depending on how you feel about LaMelo Ball's ceiling, White would be one of the top two point guards in this draft. Assuming we still think he's a point guard. And he does play one in a Bulls jersey.
Kris Dunn from the 2016 draft, obviously, has slipped, but not as far as you'd think from his class and still would rank as a lottery pick. Though in this draft with the league's vast emphasis on shooting now, he'd probably be toward the end of this lottery thanks to his high level defense. And then in the right playing situation he could become one of those draft surprises.