Draft Decisions: Good, Bad and Everything In-Between
The deadline for underclassmen to declare for the Draft has long passed, but the fun part is just beginning. Those who haven’t signed with an agent are eligible to return to school, while others are already picking out their suits for Draft Night. Patrick Patterson is the first big name who entered the Draft but has returned to school. As is usually the case, the list of remaining underclassmen includes some…how should I put this…interesting names. How many people watched Texas A&M this year and thought Chinemelu Elonu was a future NBA player? Or that two players from DePaul, who went 0-18 in the Big East, would feel they were NBA-ready?
So without further ado, here’s a look at some of the decisions made by players, ranging from the good to the bad to the bizarre.
• Blake Griffin, Oklahoma. This was a no-brainer. The consensus top pick should have an immediate impact in the league, and has All-Star potential.
• Hasheem Thabeet, UConn. Again, another obvious choice. Thabeet has the ability to contribute right away on the defensive end, and will likely be a top-3 selection.
• James Harden, Arizona State. Harden stumbled during the NCAA Tournament, but that shouldn’t diminish his terrific year. Harden isn’t a high-flying athlete, but he always seems to end up in the right spot, and he knows how to put the ball in the basket. He’s demonstrated a high basketball IQ, and is a level-headed kid who teams can market. He’s likely to be a top-5 selection.
• BJ Mullens, Ohio State. While Mullens didn’t set the world on fire during his freshman year, he still possesses the physical traits that make scouts drool, mainly size and athleticism. While there’s no doubt he needs time to develop, he’s a first-round lock and will be cashing some large checks next year.
• DeMar DeRozan, USC. Like Mullins, DeRozan had an underwhelming freshman year, although he really came on at the end of the year. DeRozan still needs some polish on his game, but his combination of athleticism and size will land him a spot in the lottery.
• Ty Lawson/Wayne Ellington, North Carolina. Both players have some physical limitations that scare scouts, but they’re both entering the draft with plenty of buzz after leading the Tar Heels to the national title. Both players are proven winners who answered plenty of doubters through the year, and likely wouldn’t have improved their stock much by returning to school.
• DeJuan Blair, Pittsburgh. While not a prototypical big man, Blair is also striking while the iron is hot, after leading Pitt to one of their best seasons ever. With the Panthers already losing seniors Sam Young and Levance Fields, opponents likely would have been able to key on Blair next year, which could have hurt his stock.
• Chase Budinger/Jordan Hill, Arizona. Both players have endured plenty of drama in Tucson, and as a result, have shown their character and maturity. Hill, who has improved dramatically, could be a top-5 pick, while Budinger has gradually addressed his weaknesses and could climb into the late lottery.
• James Johnson, Wake Forest. While the Deacons went out on a sour note, Johnson still has scouts buzzing about his potential. A terrific athlete from the small forward position, Johnson is a match-up nightmare when he’s focused. A likely top-10 selection.
>> Continue to Part Two: Bad & Questionable Decisions