The first two weekends of the 2017 NCAA Tournament are in the books and only four teams remain with a chance to capture the national championship.
While North Carolina, Oregon, South Carolina and Gonzaga prepare for the Final Four, it’s time to look ahead to the 2017 NBA Draft.
Many high-profile prospects had outstanding tournament performances that likely will boost their draft stock, but a few had tournaments to forget.
Let’s take a look at the potential NBA first-round picks whose stock fell after their tournament performance.
Mikal Bridges, SG, Villanova — Bridges has shown the ability to be a valuable 3-and-D guy at the next level. The sophomore guard is a low-usage, high-efficiency wing that has been projected as a mid-first-round pick. But, the No.1 seed Wildcats had an early March exit, and Bridges was nowhere to be found during their second-round loss to Wisconsin. Bridges went 0-for-4 from 3-point range and didn’t score during the Wildcats’ tournament exit. While he has all the tools to someday be an effective NBA wing, he might need to return for his junior season to polish his game.
Luke Kennard, SG, Duke — Kennard was a star all season for the Blue Devils. The sophomore guard led Duke in scoring and was a unanimous first-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference selection. The Blue Devils, however, were shut down by a physical South Carolina team during the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Kennard struggled with the physicality of Sindarius Thornwell and couldn’t impose his will on either end of the court. The sophomore sharpshooter finished the tournament shooting 4-for-11 for 28 points during Duke’s short tournament run. He projected as a fringe first-round prospect before his tournament struggles, so his below average performance might send him to the second round or back to Duke for his junior season.
Lonzo Ball, PG, UCLA — Ball dominated during the first weekend of that there is no doubt. But, he floundered during UCLA’s Sweet 16 loss to Kentucky as he was significantly outplayed by his counterpart De’Aaron Fox. Ball didn’t have an awful game as he tallied 10 points and eight assists, but Fox torched him for 39 points on the other end. Fox dominated the entire game as Ball’s inability to score at will and his defensive weaknesses were exposed by the speedy Fox. The UCLA star has fantastic court vision but has been severely outplayed by Fox in two games this season. Anytime a player is outplayed by another prospect at his own position it should give teams cause for concern.
Lauri Markkanen, PF, Arizona — Markkanen looks to be a prototypical stretch four. But, the Arizona big man ended the season in a shooting slump that was capped off by a 3-for-9 performance in the Wildcats’ Sweet 16 loss to Xavier. Markkanen almost certainly will be a top 10 pick but his inability to create his own shot definitely will affect his stock. The guard play among draft prospects has been so tremendous that any team on the fence about his ability to score at the next level might look elsewhere instead of gambling on Markkanen.
Edrice Adebayo, PF/C, Kentucky — Let’s be honest, Adebayo was abysmal against UCLA in the Sweet 16. The Kentucky big man scored a measly two points and grabbed four rebounds against the Bruins and didn’t impact the game defensively either. He got off to a similarly awful start in the Elite Eight against North Carolina before a redeeming second half that saw him finish with 13 points and seven rebounds. Adebayo’s inconsistency and his lack of an outside game will give teams cause to pause. If Adebayo were to return for his sophomore season he could be a top 10 pick in a much weaker 2018 draft.
Thumbnail photo via Jeremy Brevard/USA TODAY Sports