• The NBA draft picture continues to get clearer and Kentucky's De'Aarron Fox is shooting up our latest big board.
By Jeremy Woo
April 19, 2017

We break from your scheduled playoff programming with an urgent reminder that the NBA draft is two months away, the big picture is getting clearer, and that before you know it, we’ll be watching loosely associated team personnel open oversized envelopes and simultaneously enrich and crush the feverish dreams of multiple franchises in the process. With several of the league’s major markets picking near the top of the draft, if we’re lucky, we’ll get a fun conspiracy theory along the way. But first, a few notes.

— This is our fourth version of the Big Board, and there are changes and new faces. We’ve expanded to a Top 40, which is more indicative of which players are worth considering in the greater conversation in both rounds. As you’ve probably heard, this year’s class is deep near the top, but it’s also thick in the middle. There’s a great deal of talent on the table.

— Now that things are getting serious, please remember that the first rule of ranking prospects is that nobody ever really knows anything. Teams mess up a lot, players wash out quickly, and there are a billion variables that are impossible to predict in the long run. These are short-term choices and long-term guesses. Drafting is an inexact science that ultimately boils down to making the most informed, and hopefully least wrong, decision. This isn’t copping out for when these rankings look terrible in 10 years, just a fact about how the business works and a reminder to keep subjectivity in mind. Every team’s draft board looks different.

— Without diving into individual cases, notable players including Miles Bridges, Robert Williams, Grayson Allen, Chimezie Metu and Bruce Brown chose to defer their pro futures another year. There are plenty of underclassmen who are still undecided, and players have until April 23 at 11:59 p.m. ET to officially declare. Draft-eligible underclassmen who have not signed with agents have until 10 days after the draft combine (which runs May 9–14) to return to school.

— Remember that these are prospect rankings in a vacuum, unconcerned with team needs and situations and focused on talent projection and potential. See you at the combine in Chicago in a few weeks. Here’s SI’s Top 40 as of April 20.

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