We've discussed repeatedly the strengths and weaknesses of the 2015 class, but what about 2016? Everyone know it's good at the very top, but how good? And what about class depth, based on what you've seen so far?
Brian Snow: I think this class has a chance to be as good as any at the top. Kids like Josh Jackson and Jayson Tatum (pictured above) look like future high level NBA wings, to me Harry Giles is the best player in the class and has a chance to be as good as any power forward coming out since Anthony Davis. Then you add in Thon Maker, who is excellent, and Malik Monk, who is a special talent, and the top of this class is fantastic.
Now there is a bit of a drop off after that top 5, but it isn't because they players behind those five lack talent, it is because that top five is so special. In general I think there is good depth through this class, and there are some very quality point guards, which is something that has been lacking in recent years, and some good bigs as well. Overall I think this class is very good.
Evan Daniels: I think the top four are in a category by themselves. Those top four guys -- Jayson Tatum, Harry Giles, Josh Jackson and Thon Maker -- are elite. I do think that next tier of guys like Monk, Thornton, Smith and Simmons are very talented.
Where I've changed my mind from maybe 8 to 12 months ago is that I don't think this class is near as deep as I once thought it was. Positional this list is pretty even and one spot doesn't really standout as significantly deeper than another. With that said, I do think there are quite a few high-level wing prospects towards the top of the 2016 list.
Josh Gershon: I love the group at the top. Harry Giles is an awesome prospect; you just don't see too many junior power forwards with his size at 6-foot-10, very good athleticism and the skill to face up and post up successfully.
|Giles is now fully recovered from a knee injury he suffered last year|
Jayson Tatum and Josh Jackson are elite small forward prospects in any class. Thon Maker's floor is a high level defender/rebounder, Malik Monk is a terrific athlete on the wing who has really improved his shooting and Derryck Thornton, Jr. keeps making strides at point guard; his skill has always been there and now the athleticism is kicking in, too. I think the depth in the class hasn't been proven yet, but there's no doubt how good this class is at the top.
Rob Harrington: I think there are several tiers just at the top of the class alone. In my mind, Jayson Tatum and Harry Giles are magnificent by any reckoning yet also intelligent and unselfish team players. Those guys are winners and will continue to lead the way at the top.
Dropping down just a tick, I'd place Josh Jackson, Malik Monk, Derryck Thornton, Dennis Smith, Kobi Simmons and Thon Maker into the next grouping. However you'd configure the rankings among that collection, they're all blue-chip prospects for college and chances are all of them will advance to the NBA.
There's another tier beneath that one, and that's where the guesswork begins. I like Tyus Battle a lot at No. 9, but is he necessarily a superior prospect to De'Aaron Fox at No. 19? Possibly and perhaps even likely, but I don't think there's much difference at this juncture.
Roughly speaking, I think there's another tier distinction from No. 22 De'Ron Davis to No. 23 Cassius Winston. It's more a question of proof than it is potential, mind you, because some of the guys in the 23-50 range haven't yet received the same level of vetting versus elite competition.
I'm not yet sold on the class in terms of depth among those ranked 51-100 and beyond, but that's normal at this stage of the game for juniors. Classes tend to get defined by their strength at the top, and the 2016 haul features multiple potential stars.
Evan Daniels, Brian Snow, Josh Gershon and Rob Harrington contributed to this report