Ranking 2016's Top 25 was no easy task
Over the last several months, Scout hasn’t been shy about the fact that 2016 is the best recruiting class in recent history. Accordingly, ranking this group of prospects – especially in the Top 25 – has been no easy task. Usually when working on updating rankings for prospects entering their senior year, there is a pretty clear pecking order in the Top 25. You can come up with a few guys competing for number one, a handful of elite prospects after him that are also high level guys, and as you go lower in the Top 25, you feel comfortable that no one is going to make you look too bad for where you have them ranked. In 2016, all bets are off. There are guys ranked in the teens who we expect to have long careers in the NBA. But when you are ranking a long list of players with that kind of upside, you have difficult decisions to make and this class has been extremely challenging to due to the potential some of the guys in the teens have. For example, Terrance Ferguson, ranked 13th, is a 6-foot-6 athlete with a big time stroke and can really defend. He’s an ideal 3&D guy at the next couple levels and has the tools to have a long career playing professionally. He’s a very safe pick; his floor is very high. But in this class you have to nitpick. While Ferguson will be appreciated his entire career for his unselfish approach to the game and willingness to be a piece to the puzzle and not necessarily a team’s star, in this class it drops him below a handful of guys with alpha dog mentalities. Lonzo Ball, ranked 14th, is just as much of a struggle to rank. He’s as elite of a passer as you can possibly be. He also has terrific size for the position at 6-foot-5, long arms and can really rebound it. This is one of the only times a prospect like him isn’t a no-brainer Top 10 prospect and everyone has to be nitpicked out of that group. In Ball’s case, even though the questions of how he’ll handle ball pressure, defense and shot selection moving forward aren’t dealbreakers, the fact that they’re questions alone is an excuse to have him a little lower. There are similar guys who we know are elite prospects who are ranked in the 16-25 range that you hate having so low but the players above them are just hard to drop. Frank Jackson is a big time prospect and he’s 17th. He’s in the Top 10 in almost any other class. His ranking isn’t a knock against him; it’s almost more of a credit to the players above him because the Scout team expects him to have a really successful career. The second half of the Top 25 is littered with players who could end up making us look bad for having them too low. Kobi Simmons is one of the best examples of that. He has one of the highest upsides in the 2016 class and if he hits his potential, he’s not rated nearly high enough. But rankings aren’t based all on upside; we have to make a prediction on who is ultimately going to end up most successful. In many of these cases, guys that have dropped in the rankings have actually improved as prospects. Take T.J. Leaf at 22nd. He’s done nothing but gotten better over the last year. He’s a very safe bet as a successful four man at the next level. He’s improved as a prospect, just not at the same ridiculous rate as some of the other guys around him. This has been one of the most difficult groups of prospects to evaluate and due to the extreme progress many of the players in the Top 25 have made. If the class continues to go in this direction, final 2016 rankings in April is going to be one of the most challenging tasks the Scout team has ever faced.
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