The NBA Draft, which is on June 26, is fast approaching now that the NCAA season is complete. From the NBA’s standpoint early entry candidates for the draft have until April 27 to declare, but in order to preserve their college eligibility they have to withdraw by April 16.
Many of the top prospects have announced their intentions, but many remain undecided. This will be your headquarters for tracking who is in and who is out for this year’s draft. It will be updated accordingly until the June 16 deadline for international prospects to withdrawal. New additions will be noted just below this paragraph, but analysis will be ordered by draft range.
Joel Embiid – 6’8, 240 lbs. Center (Kansas, Fr.)
A rapidly improving true center who moves with the agility and smoothness of a swingman. At one point was running away from the competition as the top overall selection, but injuries limited him in his final weeks as a student-athlete. If no medical red flags surface throughout the predraft process, he’s a strong candidate to go number one overall still. When healthy, nobody has more potential. Projection: Top 3.
Andrew Wiggins – 6’8, 197 lbs. Shooting Guard (Kansas, Fr.)
When Wiggins was on his game, he looked every bit like the best player in his class. He was plagued by inconsistency, though, and finished out his college career with four points and four turnovers in an upset loss to Stanford in the second round. His natural tools are those of a potential All-Star, but he needs to prove to teams that he wants to be great. Projection: Top 3.
Jabari Parker – 6’8, 241 lbs. Forward (Duke, Fr.)
Probably the odds on favorite to lead all rookies in scoring. He’s as polished and versatile of a scorer as we’ve seen in quite a long time. So polished in fact that teams wonder how much room he has to grow. Questions about his athleticism seem a little overblown, but the defensive concerns are legitimate. He’ll likely get his opportunity at both forward positions, if he struggles at both defensively he may not end up being the franchise player many, including us, have pegged him to be. Projection: Top 5.
Julius Randle – 6’9, 248 lbs. Power Forward (Kentucky, Fr.)
Few players in this draft class are ready to contribute right away like Randle is. He’s a physical marvel and a tenacious rebounder. He also possesses good quickness for his size and a lot of athleticism. He needs to expand his arsenal of low post moves and the range on his jump shot, but after a strong NCAA Tournament Randle is highly likely to be the first power forward selected. Projection: Top 5.
Marcus Smart – 6’4, 200 lbs. Point Guard (Oklahoma State, So.)
Passed up on being the number two pick in last year’s draft, so there was far more room for his stock to drop than rise. Predictably, Smart’s slid a bit, but only by a couple of positions. He’s still a powerful point guard who always competes and possesses a professional’s mindset in terms of his work ethic. The fan-shoving incident will always look bad, there’s no getting around that. However, Smart’s as pro ready as anyone in this draft class next to Julius Randle. Projection: Top 8.
Aaron Gordon – 6’9, 212 lbs. Power Forward (Arizona, Fr.)Coming into the season Gordon was often mentioned in the conversation over the best freshman in the class with Wiggins, Parker and Randle. His lack of explosive showings (Gordon went for over 20 just three times this season and averaged a modest 12 points and eight rebounds a game), led to him slipping a bit. Right now Gordon is raw offensively, but he’s got a great feel for the game, a ton of natural athleticism and the necessary size to hang in the paint in the NBA. Projection: Top 10.
Noah Vonleh – 6’10, 242 lbs. Power Forward (Indiana, Fr.)
Vonleh wasn’t good enough this year to guide the Hoosiers to the postseason, but he did show abilities on par with any of the big men in this draft class – Julius Randle, Aaron Gordon and even Joel Embiid included. Vonleh is a rebounding machine just scratching the surface of his potential, especially on the offensive end of the floor. He plays hard and has the size, length and strength necessary to play with the monsters that roam the paint in the NBA. Projection: Top 10.
James Young – 6’7, 202 lbs. Small Forward (Kentucky, Fr.)
One of the top scorers in the draft. He can score in a variety of ways and has good size and athleticism for a small forward at the next level. Could end up being a special player if he starts to make the most of his athletic gifts on the defensive end of the floor, where he left a lot to be desired at times this season at Kentucky. Projection: 10-20.
Gary Harris – 6’5, 210 lbs. Shooting Guard (Michigan State, So.)Harris passed up on being a first round pick last year, knowing there was a bigger role and a championship caliber team awaiting him this season. Although his efficiency decreased, Harris’ stock increased because he’s a strong two guard who has proven he can score in a variety of ways. He has the necessary tools to be a good defender as well. Projection: Top 15.
Tyler Ennis – 6’2, 180 lbs. Point Guard (Syracuse, Fr.)
As pure of a point guard as this draft class has to offer. Underrated coming into the season, Ennis ran the Orange’s offense impressively as a freshman and quickly skyrocketed up draft boards. Possesses a great feel for the game and has a high basketball IQ, which helps make up for his lack of elite speed and athleticism. His shortcomings in those areas will be more of an issue in the NBA where he’ll be playing primarily man-to-man defense, though, rather than exclusively zone like he did in college. Projection: Top 15.
Kyle Anderson – 6’8, 233 lbs. Forward (UCLA, So.)
Anderson is by far the most difficult player in the draft to project because he’s just so unique. He played a lot of point guard at UCLA and was not only a matchup nightmare but a regular threat to flirt with a triple-double. His inadequacies defensively will keep him from being able to play that position in the NBA. He’ll likely have to transition over to one of the forward positions and prove he can adjust to the higher levels of strength, speed and athleticism he’ll be facing every night. Projection: 15-30.
Nik Stauskas – 6’6, 205 lbs. Shooting Guard (Michigan, So.)This season Stauskas emerged as one of the premier shooting guards in the country, really taking advantage of the opportunity Trey Burke’s departure created. He was given more control of the offense and he shined with the additional responsibilities. Stauskas shot 47 percent from the field, 44 percent from deep and dished out 3.3 assists a game. With one of the more polished offensive skill sets in the draft class, Stauskas could be one of the rookie leaders in points per game depending on where he lands. Projection: 15-25.
Jerami Grant – 6’8, 196 lbs. Small Forward (Syracuse, So.)
Grant’s minutes more than doubled this season and as a result his production did as well. His length, athleticism and defensive potential are really intriguing to NBA teams, but he’s going to have to prove that he’s healthy after struggling with injuries late in the season. He also needs to sell teams on his ability to improve offensively and expand his range. Grant is pretty much a non-factor shooting the ball beyond 15 feet right now. Projection: 15-25.
Zach LaVine – 6’5, 180 lbs. Guard (UCLA, Fr.)
Was one of the hottest prospects in the country at the beginning of the season, but drastically cooled off in the second half. His role was significantly reduced during the Bruins’ late season hot streak. Still, LaVine, a NBA caliber athlete with extended range on his jump shot, decided it was time to take the next step. Some believe he can play some point guard at the next level – that will take serious improvement in his decision making. Even if he can’t make the transition, he’s a first round talent. Projection: 15-25
Rodney Hood – 6’8, 201 lbs. Small Forward (Duke, So.)
A very efficient offensive player who has good size for a NBA small forward. Concern is that he’s mainly going to be a shooter at the next level. Difficulty creating off of the dribble was exposed in Duke’s opening round loss in the NCAA Tournament to Mercer. Projection: 15-25.
K.J. McDaniels – 6’6, 198 lbs. Small Forward (Clemson, Jr.)
An impressive athletic specimen who really has great potential on the defensive end. Career success may be determined by whether he can improve his consistency and range on his jump shot. Projection: 15-25.
DeAndre Daniels – 6’7, 191 lbs. Small Forward (UConn, Jr.)
A skilled swingman who is coming off of a very strong NCAA Tournament run. Has the ability to score in a variety of ways, but has to be more consistent with his effort and assertiveness.Projection: 20-30
Jordan Adams – 6’5, 220 lbs. Shooting Guard (UCLA, So.)
As pure of a shooter as this draft has to offer. Originally was going to stay for his junior season, but made the smart choice to leave while his stock is hot and there’s still the perception that he has a lot of room to improve. Has deep range and a quick release that should help him translate his scoring ability to the next level. In order to be a major part of a rotation, though, he’s going to have to contribute in other ways, especially when his shot isn’t falling. Projection: 20-30.
T.J. Warren – 6’8, 230 lbs. Small Forward (N.C. State, So.)
This season Warren proved to be one of the best scorers in the country. He was a projected to be a bubble first round pick last year; he’s solidified in that position now. Warren is a unique scorer who is lethal inside of the arc. Becoming respectable outside of it will be key for the longevity of his career. Projection: 20-30.
Glenn Robinson III – 6’6, 210 lbs. Small Forward (Michigan, So.)
Unlike Stauskas, Robinson didn’t explode with his expanded role. Instead, he underwhelmed by shooting nearly 10 percent less from the field and grabbing one less rebound than he did during his impressive freshman season. He almost certainly would have been a first round pick had he declared then. Now his status as such is in question because of his inconsistency and passiveness. Even with that said, he has NBA caliber athleticism and scoring ability, but he has to become more assertive on both ends of the floor. Projection: Late first round to early second.
Jabari Brown – 6’3, 203 lbs. Guard (Missouri, Jr.)
On the offensive end of the floor, Brown is one of the top prospects in this class with athleticism and range on his jump shot that make him difficult to contain. Defensively, he leaves a lot to be desired. Despite his shortcomings, the scoring punch he can provide will make him difficult to pass on for every team drafting past the 20s. Projection: Late first round to early second.
Jordan Clarkson – 6’4, 185 lbs. Guard (Missouri, Jr.)
After playing his first two years at Tulsa, Clarkson proved himself against elite competition in the SEC this year. He put up similar numbers, but still is terribly unreliable shooting from long distance. The belief that he can be a big point guard in the NBA as well puts him in a similar range as his teammate. Projection: Late first to early second.
Elfrid Payton – 6’4, 165 lbs. Point Guard (Louisiana-Lafayette, Jr.)
Finally got some of the national recognition that he’s deserved since last season by leading his team to the NCAA Tournament. The majority of his body of work is against mid-major competition, but Payton has great size, speed and athleticism that should help him translate well to the next level. Although he’s a junior, he’s as young as most sophomores. Could climb as teams become more familiar with him. Projection: Late first round, early second.
Mitch McGary – 6’10, 263 lbs. Center (Michigan, So.)
Injuries cost him the majority of his sophomore year and a failed drug test for marijuana was going to cost him his junior year, so McGary decided to enter the draft. He’s old for his class, but has great footwork, nice touch and NBA size. If he can prove that he’s healthy in the predraft process, he still has a legitimate chance to go in the later portion of the first round despite the fact that he was underwhleming when we did see him this past season. Projection: Late first round, early second.
Khem Birch – 6’9, 220 lbs. Power Forward (UNLV, So.)
Has largely gone overlooked over the past two years, but with NBA caliber size and rebounding ability he definitely has the chance to make the league and stick. Has bounced around and dealt with a lot of turnover at UNLV, so some stability could benefit him greatly. Projection: Early-to-mid second.
Nick Johnson – 6’2, 198 lbs. Shooting Guard (Arizona, Jr.)
On a team that had probably four potential first round picks playing on the frontline, Johnson emerged as the best player. He was a terror on both ends of the court, but is severely undersized for a shooting guard and will likely have to make the difficult transition to playing point guard in order to earn a long-term spot in the NBA. Projection: Early second round.
Jahii Carson – 5’11, 167 lbs. Point Guard (Arizona State, So.)
One of the fastest players in the draft capable of breaking down most defenses. Stock is held back, though, by his lack of size and inconsistency shooting the long ball. Should be able to provide a nice spark off of the bench as a change of pace point guard. Projection: Early-to-mid second.
Spencer Dinwiddie – 6’6, 220 lbs. Guard (Colorado, Jr.)
Was on his way to becoming a first round pick before tearing his ACL midway through the season. Unknown how much of the predraft process he’ll be able to participate in, but as a big guard with legitimate playmaking skills there’s a lot to like about Dinwiddie if he has a clean bill of health. Projection: Early-to-mid second.
Semaj Christon – 6’3, 187 lbs. Guard (Xavier, So.)
Combo guard probably best describes Christon right now. His draft range depends on which guard position teams believe he can play the best at the next level. His only way of getting into the first is if teams believe he’ll be able to run their offense as a point guard. If that remains a question mark, he’ll be facing an uphill battle to earn a spot as a second round pick. Projection: Early second round.
James Michael McAdoo – 6’9, 226 lbs. Power Forward (North Carolina, Jr.)
Seemingly plateaued over the last couple of seasons, and not where everyone was expecting him to either. McAdoo is the classic example of player who you can’t get caught up in evaluating based on what he was expected to be. He was overhyped, but he does have some qualities that should translate to the NBA, mainly his size, length and quickness. Perceived upside is much lower after a junior season that was nearly identical to his sophomore. Projection: Mid-to-late second round.
Johnny O’Bryant III – 6’9, 260 lbs. Power Forward (LSU, Jr.)
A strong, physical presence who is at his best inside the painted area. Has come a long way offensively over the course of three seasons, but his average size and athleticism put a low ceiling on his stock. Teams will want to see O’Bryant in peak conditioning after his past struggles in that area. Projection: Mid-to-late second round.
LaQuinton Ross – 6’8, 219 lbs. Forward (Ohio State, Jr.)
A versatile scorer who made noticeable strides every year during college. Scoring ability should translate, but he has to settle into a position and prove he’s capable of holding his own defensively. Projection: Mid-to-late second round.
Isaiah Austin – 7’0, 215 lbs. Power Forward (Baylor, So.)
Had it not been due to a shoulder injury at the end of last season, Austin probably would have been in the NBA this year. He didn’t have a great sophomore campaign, but at seven foot with legitimate perimeter skills, there is probably going to be a team willing to take a chance on him. Has really struggled to add weight; that’s a must for him. This season he did show a lot of potential as a shotblocker. If he continues to hang his hat on that, he could have a long career. Projection: Mid-to-late second round.
Jarnell Stokes – 6’8, 250 lbs. Power Forward (Tennessee, Jr.)A man in the paint who had a really strong showing in the NCAA Tournament. Did his stock a lot of good there, but fact remains that he’s a little bit undersized for the four spot in the NBA. He’s also only an average athlete without the perimeter skills that a lot of the power forwards in today’s league posses. Still, he has the potential to catch on with a team looking for a physical rebounding presence off of the bench. Projection: Mid-to-late second round.
JaKarr Sampson – 6’8, 204 lbs. Forward (St. John’s, So.)
After a disappointing sophomore season Sampson opted to take a risk and forego his last two years of eligibility. Teams love his athleticism and the way he can impact a game defensively, but he lacks a true position and is really limited offensively. Projection: Late second round to undrafted.
Roscoe Smith – 6’8, 215 lbs. Forward (UNLV, Jr.)
The former UConn Huskie surprised a lot of people by announcing that he intends to hire an agent and forego his final year of eligibility. Smith had a solid season for the Running Rebels and is a NBA-caliber athlete, however he’s somewhat stuck between positions. Smith is banking on a team drafting late in the second round believing in his ability to find his niche by either getting stronger or improving his perimeter skills. Projection: Late second round to undrafted.
Alex Kirk – 7’0, 250 lbs. Center (New Mexico, Jr.)
Season came to an end in disappointing fashion, but there’s no questioning that he has the size and strength to be a backup center in the NBA. Knows how to score around the basket and is good on the glass, but needs to really have a strong serious of workouts in order to get drafted. If any injury or conditioning issues surface, he’ll likely go undrafted. Projection: Late second round to undrafted.
Eric Moreland – 6’10, 215 lbs. Center (Oregon State, Jr.)
A strong defensive presence who is a really active rebounder. Didn’t improve as hoped over last season and is old for a junior at 23. Projection: Late second round to undrafted.
Sim Bhullar – 7’5, 355 lbs. Center (New Mexico State, So.)
Jumps off of the page immediately because of his size. He can actually play a little bit too and has a decent feel for the game, but chances of making a NBA team are slim because the game is simply too fast for him. Projection: Late second round to undrafted.
International players expected to declare (None official until June 17):
Dante Exum – 6’6, 188 lbs. Point Guard (Australia) Projection: Top 8.
Dario Saric – 6’10, 223 lbs. Forward (Crotia) Projection: Lottery.
Clint Capela – 6’11, 211 lbs. Power Forward (Switzerland) Projection: 10-20.
Jusuf Nurkic – 6’11, 280 lbs. Center (Bosnia) Projection: 10-20.
Mario Hezonja – 6’6, 200 lbs. Shooting Guard (Spain) Projection: Late first round, early second.
Bogdan Bogdanovic – 6’6, 200 lbs. Shooting Guard (Serbia) Projection: Late first round, early second.
Artem Klimenko – 7’1, 228 lbs. Center (Russia) Projection: Early second round.
Walter Tavares – 7’2, 265 lbs. Center (Cape Verde) Projection: Early second round.
Vasilije Micic – 6’4, 188 lbs. Point Guard (Serbia) Projection: Early second round.
Kristaps Prozingis – 6’11, 220 lbs. Power Forward (Latvia) Projection: Early second round.
Ilimane Diop – 6’11, 225 lbs. Center (Senegal) Projection: Mid-to-late second round.
Alessandro Gentile – 6’6, 200 lbs. Shooting Guard (Italy) Projection: Mid-to-late second round.
Damien Inglis – 6’9, 210 lbs. Small Forward (France) Projection: Mid-to-late second round.
Nikola Jokic – 6’11, 253 lbs. Center (Serbia) Projection: Late second round.
Ron Baker (Wichita State, So. Guard)
Sam Dekker (Wisconsin, So. Forward)
Brice Johnson (North Carolina, So. Forwad)
Frank Kaminsky (Wisconsin, Jr. Center)
Marcus Paige (North Carolina, So. Guard)
Juwan Staten (West Virginia, Jr. Guard)
Chris Walker (Florida, Fr. Forward)
Delon Wright (Utah, Jr. Guard)
Joseph Young (Oregon, Jr. Guard)
Wayne Selden (Kansas, Fr. Guard)
Montrezl Harrell – (Louisville, So. Forward)
Willie Cauley-Stein – (Kentucky, So. Center)
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson – (Arizona, Fr. Forward)
Kaleb Tarczewski – (Arizona, So. Center)
Brandon Dawson – (Michigan State, Jr. Forward)
A.J. Hammons – (Purdue, So. Center)
Andrew Harrison – (Kentucky, Fr. Guard)
Aaron Harrison – (Kentucky, Fr.Guard)
Alex Poythress – (Kentucky, So. Forward)
Dakari Johnson – (Kentucky, Fr. Center)
Jerian Grant – (Notre Dame, Sr. Guard)
LeBryan Nash – (Oklahoma St., Jr. Forward)
Bobby Portis – (Arkansas, Fr. Forward)
The Best of the Undrafted Players
David Yapkowitz breaks down the best players who weren’t drafted in Thursday night’s NBA Draft.
Ben Wallace, Raja Bell, Avery Johnson, David Wesley, John Starks; those are just a few former NBA players who didn’t hear their name called on draft night, yet went on to have pretty impressive careers.
Each year there are a few undrafted players who end up making a team’s roster and turn out to be solid contributors. This past season, players like Ron Baker of the New York Knicks, Yogi Ferrell of the Dallas Mavericks, and Derrick Jones Jr. of the Phoenix Suns went undrafted in 2016 yet ended up as regular rotation guys for their teams. In Ferrell’s case, he became a starter.
With the 2017 NBA Draft come and gone, here’s a look at some of the top undrafted players who might be able to strengthen a team’s roster.
Johnathan Motley was the best player on a Baylor team that was a No.3 seed and made it to the Sweet Sixteen in the NCAA Tournament. He averaged 17.3 points per game on 52.2 percent shooting and pulled down 9.9 rebounds per game.
At 6-foot-9 and 230 pounds, Motley is definitely in the mold of a versatile wing player who can play multiple positions and thrive and in today’s NBA. What he needs to do, however, is improve his outside shot. He shot only 28.1 percent from three-point range. One crucial aspect for hybrid forwards is to be able to step out and hit long range jumpers.
His stock often fluctuated in various mock drafts; some had him going in the first round, others in the second. Per The Vertical’s Shams Charania, Motley signed a two-way contract with the Dallas Mavericks on Saturday.
P.J. Dozier was one-half of South Carolina’s star duo that helped propel them to a Cinderella run to the Final Four in the NCAA Tournament. The other half, Sindarius Thornwell, had his name called, but at the end of the night, Dozier was still waiting.
Only a sophomore, Dozier was the second leading scorer for the Gamecocks with 13.9 points per game. He was always projected to go in the second round on most mocks and perhaps he came out a bit too early. The talent is there though.
He can have success as a team’s combo guard off the bench. He will need to work on his shooting though. He shot only 40.7 percent from the field, 29.8 percent from three. He’ll be in summer league with the Los Angeles Lakers, and from there will hope to entice a team to bring him to training camp.
Melo Trimble might have been one of those players that needed to strike while the iron’s hot. Two years ago, he was talked about as a probable first-round pick had he declared for the draft after his freshman year at Maryland. Instead, he stayed until his junior year and his stock fell.
He actually turned in an impressive junior campaign with 16.8 points per game, 3.6 rebounds, and 3.7 assists. He shot a respectable 44.4 percent from the field and 41.2 percent from three-point range.
Trimble will play summer league with the Philadelphia 76ers, and like most undrafted free agents, will look to turn his performance into a training camp invitation. He probably projects to be a backup point guard should he find a place in the league. He had first round and possible lottery talent before, however, so maybe all he needs is an opportunity.
In today’s game, where teams put a premium on versatile, do it all type players who can play multiple positions, Devin Robinson certainly fits that description. Robinson is a long, athletic forward who can step out and hit outside jumpers while locking up his opponent’s best wing scorer.
Florida had a surprisingly solid run in the NCAA Tournament and Robinson was a big part of that. His junior year, his best year yet, saw him average 11.1 points per game on 47.5 percent from the field and 6.1 rebounds. He showed a much improved outside shot, connecting on 39.1 percent of his looks from downtown. In the tournament, he upped his averages to 28.3 points on similar shooting percentages.
Robinson will be in summer league with the Washington Wizards, a team that often times lacked production off their bench last season. Depending on how he performs in summer league, don’t be surprised to see him on the Wizards roster come opening night.
Playing in the shadow of Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker in years past, Nigel Hayes was given an opportunity as a senior at Wisconsin to show what he could do as the focal point of an offense. His numbers didn’t jump off the page, but he did play well enough to be given a shot at making a team’s roster.
His 14 points per game were good enough to tie teammate Ethan Happ for the second leading scorer on the team. As a power forward, he was actually the second leading assist man with 2.7. One area he’ll need to improve on to make an impact in the NBA is his outside jumper. He shot 39.6 percent from three his sophomore season. This year it was down to 31.4 despite taking a similar number of attempts (2.5 and 1.9 respectively).
Hayes looks to be one of those players in between positions. He lacks the quickness and range to thrive at small forward but is a bit undersized at the NBA level for power forward. He is an incredible energy player, though, and players like that have been able to carve out nice careers. He’ll be in summer league with the Knicks, and given their current state of affairs, they need all the help they can get.
In the mock drafts that projected him to be drafted, L.J. Peak was most likely going to be a second round pick. That’s not to say he doesn’t have first round talent. He’s a big guard that can play both guard positions.
Despite Georgetown’s futile record this season, Peak was a standout. He was the team’s second-leading scorer at 16.2 points per game on 48 percent shooting from the field. He was also their top playmaker, dishing out 3.5 assists. In the NBA, he most likely can find a role for some team as a combo guard off the bench. He only shot 32.7 percent from the beyond the arc, however, so if he wants to make an impact in the league that’s one area he’ll need some work.
He’s set to go to summer league with the Houston Rockets. Depending on what roster moves the Rockets make, it will be tough for Peak to make the final team. They already have two guards capable of playing both guard spots off the bench in Lou Williams and Isaiah Taylor. Taylor’s contract isn’t guaranteed, but he probably has the inside track due to his familiarity with the team. In any case, a strong summer showing should lead Peak to a training camp invite with another team, if not the Rockets.
NBA PM: Losers Of The 2017 NBA Draft
Who were the two parties who came out of draft night worse off than they went in? Spencer Davies explores.
As the book closes on the 2017 NBA Draft, the league takes a bit of a break before going full throttle into the free agency portion of the off-season.
Before we get there, though, Basketball Insiders will take a look at the winners and losers of Thursday’s draft to get you caught up. Our own Benny Nadeau already took care of the former, so this piece will focus on the two parties who came out of the night worse off than they did going into it.
Early Entrants Going Undrafted
The amount of talent in this year’s draft class was undeniable, so those that decided to come out of college too soon instead of returning to school for another year suffered tremendously.
Let’s take a look at some notable undrafted players that entered as underclassmen:
Simmons was an interesting story this past season with the Arizona Wildcats. It was a difficult one-and-done season for Simmons, as he had trouble converting on the perimeter (33 percent) and contributing anything other than scoring.
In the first couple of months as a freshman, he was basically an every game starter and played at least 28 minutes per game for the team. As the year wound down, though, the 6-5, 175-pound shooting guard barely saw the court, and the time he was given came during blowouts.
His decision to enter the draft was questionable and a gamble, and most teams saw it the same way. Luckily for Simmons, he was reportedly able to come to an agreement with the Memphis Grizzlies on a free agent contract.
A player that surprisingly didn’t get selected was P.J. Dozier from South Carolina. In his sophomore season, the 20-year-old swingman took on a much heavier workload and dramatically improved his game on both ends of the floor.
Dozier was one of the best defenders in the SEC and in the entire NCAA, as well as an aggressor on offense. He was not bashful and took his new role in stride. Over the course of one year, he attempted six more field goals per game and upped his three-point success by 8.5 percentage points.
He also snatched almost two more rebounds per game and averaged nearly two steals for the Gamecocks. Dozier going undrafted was a head scratcher, but the Los Angeles Lakers made sure he landed on his feet with a deal.
Briscoe is more of a hybrid type with a bulky build for a backcourt player. In two seasons under John Calipari at Kentucky, he was pretty consistent with his game as somebody who will give you a little bit of everything.
He’s not particularly a good shooter, but he can get some rebounds and dish it out to make the right plays. You’ll see that with when he’s playing for the Philadelphia 76ers in Summer League.
Blakeney—a sophomore guard from LSU—proved that he can shoot the basketball and be a pure scorer (17.2 points per game) when given the opportunity, but what about the defensive end of the floor? He’ll need to work on that, as well as his all-around game that won’t make him a one-dimensional threat.
He hasn’t received an offer from a team yet, but he’ll likely get a chance to showcase his talents in either Orlando or Las Vegas.
The trend here seems obvious—if you’re a shooting guard and haven’t gotten at least three years of college experience, it may not be wise to declare. Executives understand that they need players with the “do-it-all” quality and not just pure scorers that can’t bring more than one or two skills to the table.
Over the past week, the writing seemed to be on the wall for Jimmy Butler and his future with the Bulls. There were rumors all over linking him mainly to the Boston Celtics and the Cleveland Cavaliers, but the dark horse candidate to land the All-Star was the one to pull the trigger.
After the first selection in the draft was made, the Minnesota Timberwolves came to an agreement with Chicago that reunited Butler with his former coach of four years, Tom Thibodeau. The deal came a few weeks after an exit interview regarding the team’s direction that reportedly went well.
The 27-year-old’s trainer didn’t hide his displeasure about the move, but it’s understandable from the perspective of VP of Basketball Operations John Paxson and general manager Gar Forman, who strived to “set a direction” for the franchise.
However, what they received in return for Butler was not nearly enough for a man that is just now entering his prime as one of the best two-way players in the game today. In exchange for Butler, the Wolves sent Kris Dunn and Zach LaVine to Chicago. Furthermore, the Bulls were able to move up nine spots in the draft, but it cost them their 16th pick to do so.
LaVine is as exciting as a player as any young talent in the NBA, but he’ll enter the season coming off a brutal ACL tear that ended his year prematurely. It will probably be a little while before the 22-year-old sees the floor, and, as the centerpiece of this trade, it’s definitely risky not knowing how he’ll respond to the injury.
While Dunn could have plenty of promise as the starting point guard of the future, his rookie season in Minnesota left a lot to be desired. The only defense of his inclusion as one of the key pieces in this transaction is being a top five pick in last year’s draft with untapped potential.
With the seventh overall selection, Chicago drafted Lauri Markkanen out of Arizona. In his lone season under Sean Miller, the seven-footer was a key cog in the Wildcats’ run in the PAC-12 and NCAA tournaments.
The talent is clearly there as a sharpshooting stretch four or five, but with Bobby Portis and Nikola Mirotic already in the mix at power forward, the fit may be a problem. He could see some time at center, but remember, Robin Lopez, Cristiano Felicio, and Joffrey Lauvergne are holding down the fort there, too.
Markkanen’s situation will all depend on if qualifying offers are made to Mirotic, Felicio, and Lauvergne.
To add the cherry on top of the Bulls’ rough night, they excited some fans of the organization when they took Jordan Bell out of Oregon early in the second round. That hope quickly diminished when the Golden State Warriors paid $3.5 million for the pick, and Chicago agreed to send him to the Bay.
Bell was one of the sexier names in the draft for a good reason, but the money was more important to the Bulls, who will have some more decisions to make this summer with their veterans on the roster likely not wanting to be a part of the rebuild.
Without their superstar of the last three years, and still with an inexperienced head coach like Fred Hoiberg to develop the young talent brought into the organization, it’s going to be a little while before basketball is king again in the Windy City.
Hawks Didn’t Expect John Collins To Fall To 19
Newly-minted Atlanta Hawks GM Travis Schlenk had a relatively easy decision drafting John Collins at 19.
During Travis Schlenk’s first NBA Draft as Atlanta GM, fortune smiled as center John Collins of Wake Forest, a player rated highly on Atlanta’s draft board, fell to the 19th pick.
“Through the whole week, we had guys ranked, and he was the highest guy there,” said Schlenk to assembled media at the Omni Hotel, adjacent to Philips Arena. “We thought he’d go a little higher. We had a couple options on the board to move back, but once we saw that John was going to be there, we didn’t entertain any of those.”
Schlenk added that Atlanta also tried to move up but was unable to execute a trade.
“We did have some conversations about trying to move up,” said Schlenk. “We had one player that we targeted that we really wanted to move up for but were unable to do so.”
The process of building the team’s draft depth chart was collaborative, Schlenk added, which meant Collins’ selection was by consensus rather than by decree. Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer was among those whose input factored into the selection.
“I have a lot of faith in the group that was here before I got here,” said Schlenk. “They’ve been a huge asset to me coming in here in the middle of this process. As I’ve stated all along, I view Coach Bud and I’s relationship as a partnership. It doesn’t do us any good to take a guy that he doesn’t like, so he’s got a voice in it for sure.”
Schlenk was asked about areas where Collins needs to improve and didn’t shy away from questions about his defense.
“That was kind of the knock on him at Wake Forest,” said Schlenk. “But a lot of times, especially in college — when you’re the main focal point — you’ll see the best offensive player doesn’t want to get in foul trouble so he can stay on the floor. We interviewed him in Chicago. That’s what he said: “Coach Manning said, ‘Don’t get in foul trouble, I can’t afford to have you off the court.'”
The Hawks GM also talked about Collins’ shortcomings as a shooter.
“One of the first things we’re going to work on with him is a jump shot,” said Schlenk. “In college, all his scoring came in the post. And he’s got a good post game. We just need to extend his range out, especially the way we play and the way the league’s going.”
But overall, Schlenk was extremely positive about the opportunity to add a player with the upside of Collins, a player who is far from a finished product.
“Last year you saw his athleticism, and then the big jump that he’s made from his freshman year to his sophomore year,” Schlenk said. “Obviously, being the most improved player in the ACC, you see the growth he’s made. And he’s still a 19-year-old kid, so there’s still a lot of room to grow.”
In the second round, Atlanta selected shooting guard Tyler Dorsey, who shot 56 percent from three and averaged 23 points during Oregon’s run to the Final Four. The Hawks also selected 6-10 French center Alpha Kaba of Mega Leks, a likely draft-and-stash candidate. With Collins’ youth and lack of polish, it may take some time to judge Schlenk’s first draft. But fortunately for him, the decision was a relatively easy one since the team didn’t expect Collins to fall all the way to 19 where Atlanta could grab him.