This is the first entry in what I plan on being a compalation of NBA draft news with a slant toward UCLA and Pac 10 coverage. I am a draft junky and follow these things personally, so I figured I would share my thoughts and information with the Bruinsnation community so you guys can be informed and get your thoughts on them as well.
As we all know, UCLA will have three seniors eligible for the draft this year: DC, PAA, and JS.
PAA has been busy trying to elevate his status among the scouts. As mentioned last week, PAA was invited to the Hershey's All-Star game that was held the Friday before the Final Four in Detroit. PAA played his usual tough defense and had 7 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 assists in 18 minutes. These aren't spectacular numbers, but he definitely showed that he is much more than the banger that everyone thought he was prior to this year.
PAA will also be playing in the Portsmouth Invitational taking place April 8 -11. While this event usually attracts players trying to get in to the second round, it willl be better attended by scouts this year than in previous years because the NBA will no longer be having 5 on 5 scrimmages at the Orlando combine. Thus, this is the only real opportunity for players to show what they can do in 5 on 5 setting as opposed to individual workouts.
Speaking of Portsmouth, for some reason JS decided to turn down an invitation to play in it. This decision led to draftexpress.com (one of the few reputable draft sites) to declare JS a "dummy". While I don't think JS is dumb, I do find this move questionable. I have yet to see JS projected as being drafted this year except for a few mentions every once in awhile as one of the last 5 picks or so. One would think that JS would use his strong senior year to catipult himself into the draft rather than laying low and disappearing from scouts minds. It will be interesting to see if he is able to work any private workouts in the coming months.
No news really on DC yet. Some say that his stock has slipped from being around the 20th pick to possibly an early second round pick. I don't by this as most of these draft sites don't think like NBA scouts. The sites get amazed by a few point guards who put up good point totals in college and assume they will be a high draft pick and successful in the NBA. Scouts and NBA types realize that most point guards in the NBA aren't looked to as the main scorers and that things like defense and smarts will make them a better player in the NBA.
If I had to rank the top point guards right now in the draft, it would look like this:
- Ricky Rubio, Spain (appears that he will enter despite having a huge buyout in his current contract)
- Brandon Jennings, American-Italian (with all the hyphenated Americans, I figured this would be the best way to lable Jennings)
- Ty Lawson
- Jonny Flynn (might return if not a top 10 pick)
- Jeff Teague (I'm not sold on him, and I think he will return to Wake)
- Eric Maynor (has good size and "looks" like an NBA guard)
It sucks for DC that the point guard position is super deep this year and that there also other combo guards in the draft (Stephen Curry, possibly Willie Warren from Oklahoma, maybe JH). The thing with DC is that NBA people know what they are getting whereas with the other players they don't. DC will be a consistent backup point guard and strong defender for many years in the NBA. But he wont be the possible all-star that Rubio, Jennings, Lawson, or Flynn could be. Of course, these players could flame out just as easily. This is why DC will end up in the 20s somewhere playing for a playoff team where he will be able to contribute which is really probably the best situation for him as opposed to being asked to carry a bad lottery team.
As for JH, I really have no idea about him right now. Some reports say he already has declared, some say he still is thinking about it. I actually say him today with DG, ML, and JM on campus and took that as a positive sign that he might stay. At the very least, it showed that the freshman have formed a tight bond and that JH is still at school, which is good news for those hoping JH stays. Right now, JH is being projected in the late teens early twenties which to me seems about right based on what we have seen from JH so far. Hopefully this along with aforementioned things make JH think twice and return next year and become a top 5 pick next year.
As for the Pac 10, Cal's Patrick Christoper has declared, hasn't signed an agent, and isn't likely to be drafted, so he will likely return for his senior year. There are reports that DeRozan will declare, which makes sense since he will be a top 10 pick. Also, Arizona's Budinger has declared and Hill is expected to follow. Budinger is projected somewhere in the teens and Hill as a top 10 pick. James Harden has also declared and despite his poor showing in the tournament, will still likely be the first shooting guard taken in the draft.
All underclassmen have until April 26 (11:59 p.m. ET) to declare themselves eligible for the draft. Provided they don't sign with an agent, they have until June 15 (5:00 p.m. ET) to withdraw their names.
I hope you enjoyed this first roundup of draft news. I will try and do this at least once a week until the draft or more as events dictate. So any thoughts?