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How The NCAA Tournament Impacts NBA Draft Stock

How does March Madness affect draft stock? Jabari Davis explains, and highlights players who could climb with strong play.

Jabari Davis

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We’ll spare you the hyperbole about how this could be the most monumental NCAA Tournament ever or how someone could propel themselves from being a virtual unknown to being at the forefront of the lottery discussion in this June’s upcoming draft that can accompany a lot of articles at this time of year. With that said, it is important to take a look at the realities of the tournament and how it can impact a draft class.

Remember the disastrous final game Andrew Wiggins – this year’s likely and deserving Rookie of the Year – had for Kansas during last year’s tournament? In 34 minutes, he was 1-6 from the field and had four turnovers, which was followed by people actually questioning whether the young man could succeed at the next level. Some people made similar assessments about Jabari Parker’s unsuccessful tournament performance at Duke. The fact is, guys like Parker and Wiggins rarely have to worry about tournament results, regardless of what the social media narrative tends to be because their talents and potential should have been obvious, regardless.

Most executives will tell you that the tournament can’t really hurt a prospect’s draft stock, but it can absolutely help those players that need to raise their draft stock. Stephen Curry was seen as a good player while playing for a mid-major in Davidson, but his run to the Elite Eight with the Wildcats literally put him on the map in terms of being considered a player with “star potential” and leadership qualities that might translate well in the NBA. Clearly, the folks in Golden State did their homework, because a guy that was actually criticized as a “tweener” by many critics prior to the draft is leading them to the league’s best record and an opportunity to compete for the West’s crown.

The same could be said for a player like Utah’s Gordon Hayward. Hayward watched his draft stock rise throughout two consecutive impressive runs with the Butler Bulldogs, and now finds himself with a well-deserved max contract and in a leadership role with a strong, young core in Utah that could surprise some folks over the next couple years.

One doesn’t even need to venture back long ago to find examples of players who helped their draft stock in March Madness. Last year’s 2014 NBA Draft also showed just how much a positive run and showing in the tourney can impact draft stocks, with examples like Aaron Gordon (4th), Nik Stauskas (8th), Elfrid Payton (10th) and even senior Doug McDermott (11th).

Put simply, a player can play relatively poorly and still have plenty of time to redeem themselves, but if they happen to insert themselves into the national discussion, it appears that even NBA experts and executives are not immune to at least a slight influence by the general consensus on a player, especially when said narrative is overwhelmingly positive. And due to the limited number of players that can impact the game at a given time, a single NBA player can influence the outcome of a game more than any other major professional team sport.

Among the players who could stand to benefit from a positive tournament showing are Arizona’s swingman Stanley Johnson, Kentucky’s other lottery-bound big man Willie Cauley-Stein and Wisconsin’s senior forward Frank Kaminsky. Johnson is a 6’8 small forward with the ball-handling, passing and shooting skills of a guard, a body that resembles a young Ron Artest (circa his ‘Hennessy’ days in Chicago) and athleticism similar to a young LeBron James. The Southern California product (Mater Dei High School), whom we’ve actually been following for years at the annual adidas Nations tournament, has seen his stock rise from being considered a fringe lottery pick somewhere most likely in the teens as recently as a few months ago to now projecting to land somewhere just outside the top-five. Teams like the Los Angeles Lakers and Orlando Magic (projected to pick somewhere around four or five) could be interested in Johnson.

The Lakers legitimately need help or depth at just about every single position, and the Magic find themselves fully within a youth movement and with a decision about whether to offer starting small forward Tobias Harris the type of max or near-max deal he will likely command this summer. Johnson has star potential and the type of all-around game that should absolutely translate well to the next level.

Cauley-Stein finds himself in the unique situation of having the skills and athleticism to be even more of an impact player, but he’s limited by the team-oriented, platoon approach that the loaded Kentucky team uses since they have so many McDonald’s All American players. This willingness to subjugate his game for the betterment of the team may not always translate well throughout the mock draft process, but you can absolutely count on more than one lottery-bound executive eyeing Cauley-Stein as the answer for their rim-protection issues.

The 7’0 junior can also run the floor and finish in transition, but hasn’t shown great awareness or much consistency on the offensive end. He’s projected to go around the seven-to-nine range, depending upon eventual draft order and needs, but it wouldn’t be shocking to see that number creep or dip a pick or two in either direction based upon his impact throughout this tournament.

Kaminsky also finds himself in a somewhat unique position of being this year’s most well-known or distinguishable senior player, but also as a guy that has been projected as high as the top-10. However, others expect the versatile 7’0 power forward to get selected somewhere in the teens this June. Although Kaminsky has improved and developed his game throughout his four years at Wisconsin and is currently leading the Badgers as a top seed entering the tournament, apparently the jury may still be somewhat out on just how well his skill set will translate. For the record, not only can Kaminsky space the floor (shooting 39.5 percent from deep) as so many teams in today’s NBA seem to covet, but he also still manages to rebound fairly well (8.0 RPG) for a guy that can tend to hover around the arc on offense at times and can be a shot blocker (1.6 BPG) as a weakside defender.

A deep run and impressive showing from Kaminsky could go a long way in either making believers out of those that may still doubt his readiness for the rigors of the league or simply cement what those of us that have monitored his progress already hold as fact.

Whether you are an NBA executive or the self-proclaimed “draft expert” around your office, the NCAA tournament is easily one of the more exciting times of the year. Outside of the wild buzzer-beaters and bracket-busting upsets, it really does provide the best opportunity for guys like Johnson, Cauley-Stein and Kaminsky among others to propel themselves onto the national spotlight in a way that perhaps no other amateur sporting event offers. Play well and advance far enough, and you can have center-stage on what is actually developing into a global audience for the better part of two weeks.

Jabari Davis is a senior NBA Writer and Columnist for Basketball Insiders, covering the Pacific Division and NBA Social Media activity.

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Mock Drafts

NBA Daily: 60-Pick NBA Mock Draft – 3/19/19

With the field of teams set for the 2019 NCAA March Madness tournament, things should get noisy over the next few weeks on the NBA Draft front. Steve Kyler offers up another 60-pick Mock Draft before all the zaniness begins.

Steve Kyler

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Let the Madness begin.

The basketball world will shift its attention to college basketball’s biggest stage over the next few weeks, especially this weekend’s opening round of 64.

While the tournament doesn’t necessarily make or break a player’s draft stock, this will be the first time some notable draft prospects will face elite talent and, more importantly, the pressure of the big stage. You can check out march madness predictions 2019 here.

Expect things in the draft world to start to percolate, not just because of the magnitude of the games, but also because a lot of NBA scouts will be in the same places, which is where the draft chatter originates.

Equally, a lot of NBA teams will watch games together in the conference rooms this week, so more group discussion on players will happen inside NBA teams’ front offices, and that could lead to new preference information flowing into the NBA Draft information bubble.

Here is this week’s 60-Pick Mock Draft, based on NBA games played through 3/18/19:

Here are the first-round picks that are owed and how those picks landed where they are.

The Atlanta Hawks are to receive the Cleveland Cavaliers’ first-round pick as a result of the Kyle Korver trade in 2017, which is top-10 protected. But based on the standings, it will not be conveyed.

The Boston Celtics are to receive the Memphis Grizzlies first-round pick as a result of the three-team Jeff Green trade in 2015; the pick is top-eight protected and, based on the current standings, would not convey.

The Atlanta Hawks are to receive the Dallas Mavericks first-round pick as a result of the Luka Dončić – Trae Young swap on draft night in 2018. The pick is top-five protected and, based on the standings, would convey.

The Boston Celtics are to receive the more favorable of either the Sacramento Kings or Philadelphia 76ers first-round picks as part of the Markelle Fultz pre-draft trade in 2017. Based on the current standings, the Kings pick is the more favorable and would convey to Boston.

The Boston Celtics are to receive the LA Clippers first-round pick as a result of the Deyonta Davis draft day trade with Memphis in 2016. The Grizzlies got the pick in their Jeff Green/Lance Stephenson deal at the deadline in 2016. The pick is lottery protected and, based on the current standings, would not convey.

The Cleveland Cavaliers are to receive the Houston Rockets first-round pick as a result of the three-team deadline deal that sent out Brandon Knight and Marquese Chriss.

The Brooklyn Nets are to receive the Denver Nuggets first-round pick as a result of the Kenneth Faried – Darrell Arthur trade in July 2018. The pick is top-12 protected and, based on the current standings, would convey.

The San Antonio Spurs are to receive the Toronto Raptors first-round pick as a result of the Kawhi Leonard – DeMar DeRozan trade in July 2018. The pick is top-20 protected and, based on the current standings, would convey.

The Phoenix Suns are to receive the Milwaukee Bucks first-round pick as a result of the Eric Bledsoe trade in 2017. The pick has top 3 and 17-30 protections, designed to yield a lottery-level pick to Phoenix. Based on the current standings this pick would not convey. If the debt is not settled this year, the pick in 2020 would be top-7 protected.

More Twitter: Make sure you are following all of our guys on Twitter to ensure you are getting the very latest from our team: @stevekylerNBA, @LangGreene, @EricPincus, @TommyBeer, @jblancartenba, @SpinDavies, @JamesB_NBA, @MattJohnNBA, @DrewMaresca, @JordanHicksNBA, and @Ben__Nadeau .

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Mock Drafts

NBA Daily: 60-Pick NBA Mock Draft – 3/12/19

The annual March Madness tournament gets underway next week, and draft hype will really start to rev up. Steve Kyler offers up another 2019 60-pick mock draft.

Steve Kyler

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Things are starting to heat up on the NBA Draft front specifically for those teams already eliminated or facing playoff elimination this week.

The 2019 March Madness Tournament kicks off next Tuesday with the “First Four,” and the major teams and players take the floor on March 21st and 22nd, which will ramp up draft talk and ranking speculation.

It’s important to state that while the NCAA Tournament brings a ton of visibility to players, it isn’t nearly the deciding factor some like to make it out to be. Most NBA teams have a good grasp on their top 100 players and have thoroughly scouted and investigated those players. The tournament stage often helps answer questions and assumptions, but usually, teams already have an idea of what players are going to be at the next level.

That’s not to say a bubble guy can’t push himself one way or the other with a strong or weak performance, but usually, the idea that the tournament can catapult a guy way up or way down typically is not the case. Most insiders will say a good tournament can help win over scouts and executives, but that a bad showing doesn’t necessarily hurt as much as you’d think, unless its an utter collapse. So be careful about tournament exuberance – the hype is never as real as you think, any more than the idea of draft stock declines.

There is some truth to this idea, a lot of NBA general managers – especially ones running winning teams – don’t spend as much time scouting as say teams looking at the lottery, so there is a chance for a player to catch a GM’s eye, especially players on non-major teams. The draft is littered with mid-major guys jumping into the discussion, but usually, it means more draft workouts.

Donte DiVincenzo helped himself tremendously last year, but it was his draft workouts that really sealed the deal for him. No one is drafting a guy on his tournament play. It’s way too big a decision for one weekend to make or break a player at the next level.

Here is this week’s Mock Draft:

Here are the first-round picks that are owed and how those picks landed where they are.

The Atlanta Hawks are to receive the Cleveland Cavaliers’ first-round pick as a result of the Kyle Korver trade in 2017, which is top-10 protected. But based on the standings, it will not be conveyed.

The Atlanta Hawks are to receive the Dallas Mavericks first-round pick as a result of the Luka Dončić – Trae Young swap on draft night in 2018. The pick is top-five protected and, based on the standings, would convey.

The Boston Celtics are to receive the Memphis Grizzlies first-round pick as a result of the three-team Jeff Green trade in 2015; the pick is top-eight protected and, based on the current standings, would not convey.

The Boston Celtics are to receive the more favorable of either the Sacramento Kings or Philadelphia 76ers first-round picks as part of the Markelle Fultz pre-draft trade in 2017. Based on the current standings, the Kings pick is the more favorable and would convey to Boston.

The Boston Celtics are to receive the LA Clippers first-round pick as a result of the Deyonta Davis draft day trade with Memphis in 2016. The Grizzlies got the pick in their Jeff Green/Lance Stephenson deal at the deadline in 2016. The pick is lottery protected and, based on the current standings, would not convey.

The Cleveland Cavaliers are to receive the Houston Rockets first-round pick as a result of the three-team deadline deal that sent out Brandon Knight and Marquese Chriss.

The Brooklyn Nets are to receive the Denver Nuggets first-round pick as a result of the Kenneth Faried – Darrell Arthur trade in July 2018. The pick is top-12 protected and, based on the current standings, would convey.

The San Antonio Spurs are to receive the Toronto Raptors first-round pick as a result of the Kawhi Leonard – DeMar DeRozan trade in July 2018. The pick is top-20 protected and, based on the current standings, would convey.

The Phoenix Suns are to receive the Milwaukee Bucks first-round pick as a result of the Eric Bledsoe trade in 2017. The pick has top 3 and 17-30 protections, designed to yield a lottery-level pick to Phoenix. Based on the current standings this pick would not convey. If the debt is not settled this year, the pick in 2020 would be top-7 protected.

More Twitter: Make sure you are following all of our guys on Twitter to ensure you are getting the very latest from our team: @stevekylerNBA, @LangGreene, @EricPincus, @TommyBeer, @jblancartenba, @SpinDavies, @JamesB_NBA, @MattJohnNBA, @DrewMaresca, @JordanHicksNBA, and @Ben__Nadeau .

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Mock Drafts

NBA Daily: 60-Pick NBA Mock Draft 3/5/19

With the college basketball season starting to wind down, the NBA Draft will play a bigger part of the NBA conversation, Steve Kyler offers up another 60-Pick NBA Mock Draft.

Steve Kyler

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As the college basketball regular season starts to wind down, and the March Madness Tournament starts to rev up, the 2019 NBA Draft will play a bigger and bigger role in the NBA conversation, especially with NBA teams already eliminated from the postseason (sorry Phoenix).

The Basketball Insiders Top 100 has had its biggest update of the season (http://www.basketballinsiders.com/top-100-nba-draft-prospects/), which means this week’s Mock Draft reflects some of the biggest moves so far.

It’s important to note that the Mock Draft process is not meant to be a direct reflection of the Top 100 prospects. While the top of every draft reflects the top guys, as the draft plays out, many teams – especially those with multiple picks will start to use those picks for the future – meaning draft and stash scenarios come into play.

Also, keep in mind some picks are safer bets than others, even safer than betting on the Final Four.

With that in mind, here is how this week’s Mock Draft played out:

There are a number of first-round picks that are owed. Here is how those picks landed where they are.

The Atlanta Hawks are to receive the Cleveland Cavaliers’ first-round pick as a result of the Kyle Korver trade in 2017, which is top-10 protected. But based on the standings, it will not be conveyed.

The Boston Celtics are to receive the Memphis Grizzlies first-round pick as a result of the three-team Jeff Green trade in 2015; the pick is top-eight protected and, based on the current standings, would not convey.

The Atlanta Hawks are to receive the Dallas Mavericks first-round pick as a result of the Luka Dončić – Trae Young swap on draft night in 2018. The pick is top-five protected and, based on the standings, would convey.

The Boston Celtics are to receive the more favorable of either the Sacramento Kings or Philadelphia 76ers first-round picks as part of the Markelle Fultz pre-draft trade in 2017. Based on the current standings, the Kings pick is the more favorable and would convey to Boston.

The Boston Celtics are to receive the LA Clippers first-round pick as a result of the Deyonta Davis draft day trade with Memphis in 2016. The Grizzlies got the pick in their Jeff Green/Lance Stephenson deal at the deadline in 2016. The pick is lottery protected and, based on the current standings, would not convey.

The Cleveland Cavaliers are to receive the Houston Rockets first-round pick as a result of the three-team deadline deal that sent out Brandon Knight and Marquese Chriss.

The Brooklyn Nets are to receive the Denver Nuggets first-round pick as a result of the Kenneth Faried – Darrell Arthur trade in July 2018. The pick is top-12 protected and, based on the current standings, would convey.

The San Antonio Spurs are to receive the Toronto Raptors first-round pick as a result of the Kawhi Leonard – DeMar DeRozan trade in July 2018. The pick is top-20 protected and, based on the current standings, would convey.

The Phoenix Suns are to receive the Milwaukee Bucks first-round pick as a result of the Eric Bledsoe trade in 2017. The pick has top 3 and 17-30 protections, designed to yield a lottery-level pick to Phoenix. Based on the current standings this pick would not convey. If the debt is not settled this year, the pick in 2020 would be top-7 protected.

More Twitter: Make sure you are following all of our guys on Twitter to ensure you are getting the very latest from our team: @stevekylerNBA, @LangGreene, @EricPincus, @TommyBeer, @jblancartenba, @SpinDavies, @JamesB_NBA, @MattJohnNBA, @DrewMaresca, @JordanHicksNBA, and @Ben__Nadeau .

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