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Michael Young and Jamel Artis outside of 2017 NBA Draft projections

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Most NBA draft gurus are focusing on the 2016 Draft right now, but I've been trying to look into 2017. That's because the Panthers have a couple of juniors in Michael Young and Jamel Artis that are worth watching. With all due respect to senior point guard James Robinson as well as the team's other upperclassmen, Young and Artis are the Pitt players that have the best chance at reaching the NBA over the next couple of years.

The few sites out there with 2017 mock drafts don't give Young and Artis much of a chance to be selected in next year's draft. DraftExpress has Young and Artis as the No. 45 and No. 47 juniors respectively for 2017 and doesn't have them in their mock draft., another site that projects drafts more than a year out, also leaves both Young and Artis out of their 2017 mock., a site that projects NFL and NBA Drafts, is the only draft site I've heard of that lists either one anywhere on the board as they have Young going late in the second round at No. 51. But as you can see, the overall projections for both so far aren't great.

That's not to say either or even both can't be drafted. I don't remember Lamar Patterson showing up anywhere on draft boards in his junior year before he took a huge step forward as a senior and was taken by the Atlanta Hawks. But what's interesting is that Young and Artis are putting up significantly bigger numbers than Patterson did as a junior and they still aren't even getting much of a sniff so far. Both seemingly need to have bigger senior seasons to even be considered. It's really a testament of just how difficult it is to get into the NBA.

Part of it, too, will depend on what Pitt can accomplish as a team. If they can get the Panthers back into the Top 25 next year where they'll get a little more recognition, that will help.

It's still early, but I expect Young will have a shot. He's an agile power forward that can score and rebound, and is a solid defender. Artis' defense needs some work and without that, he's going to need to be an even bigger scorer than he already is. His biggest problem is that he's undersized as a small forward.

Young and Artis have plenty of time to improve their draft stock, but right now, they aren't getting much love in the early projections.