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February 04, 2017

2017 NBA Draft: Games and prospects Sixers fans should watch this weekend

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For the rest of the college basketball season, I figured we would roll out a new feature every Saturday: an NBA Draft-themed guide to the college hoops games this upcoming weekend. When you aren’t watching the Sixers, you can check out some of these prospects who will be appearing on all of the mock drafts in June.

(All rankings are from KenPom)

No. 27 Iowa State at No. 7 Kansas, 2:00 p.m. Saturday on ESPN

Josh Jackson made a couple corner threes the other night against Baylor! For a prospect who does pretty much everything else well (except this one very important thing!), it was good to see:

No. 14 Arizona at No. 25 Oregon, 4:00 p.m. Saturday on ESPN

Oregon’s Chris Boucher, being mocked as a potential second-round draft target for the Sixers, should provide a nice test for sweet-shooting Arizona big man Lauri Markkanen. The Finnish 7-footer is shooting the eyes out of the basketball (52/50/82), but his defense and fit with the Sixers personnel are both questionable.

I would imagine Bill Walton will be on the call for this one, which is always interesting.

No. 5 Kentucky at No. 9 Florida, 8:15 p.m. Saturday on ESPN

What is going on here?

Over at Vice Sports, Sam Vecenie had a good breakdown about what a tricky scout that Kentucky shooting guard Malik Monk is. As we wrote the other day in the mock draft roundup, Monk has the ability to catch fire from beyond the arc in a way we haven’t seen from a college player in years. His shooting — From the form, stats, and way defenses play him — has been absolutely perfect. The Sixers could really use that catch-and-shoot profile in a potential draft pick.

Everything else about Monk’s game, though? Ehhhhhh.

And last but not least, the game of the weekend (well, at least for NBA Draft scouting purposes)…

No. 19 UCLA at No. 141 Washington, 10:30 p.m. Saturday on Pac 12 Network

Markelle Fultz vs. Lonzo Ball! Markelle Fultz vs. Lonzo Ball! Markelle Fultz vs. Lonzo Ball! The 2017 NBA Draft’s top two prospects according to Draft Express will go head-to-head in Seattle for the first of two Washington/UCLA games in the next month.

The contrasting styles make this matchup even more intriguing. Ball has a ton of help with the Bruins’ three-point shooting and Fultz… doesn’t. Fultz is the silky-smooth scorer that takes and makes long twos, while Ball mainly shoots deeeeep threes off the catch and creates efficient looks for his teammates with his incredible court vision.

(Just looking at the stats, one similarity between the two players is that they shoot over 40 percent from deep on a bunch of difficult attempts but only a pedestrian 65.3 percent from the free-throw line. Recent studies have shown free-throw percentage is just as good of a predictor of NBA success beyond the arc as college three-pointers themselves.)

While UCLA sports the best offense in the country statistically, Fultz will have plenty of chances to carve up the No. 133 defense.

Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann