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NBA Saturday: Draft Boards Shifting
Posted By Joel Brigham On March 30, 2013 @ 10:37 am In NBA | No Comments
NBA Draft Stocks Are Shifting Before Our Eyes
Go and take a quick look at a couple of mock drafts and scan down the page for Michigan guard Trey Burke. Our mock draft is right here. Here’s another good one, and another still. On average, Burke is slated to go somewhere from late lottery to the middle of the first round, but in all instances, he’s expected to be selected quite a bit later than Indiana’s Cody Zeller.
That may change after Michigan’s Sweet Sixteen Win and IU’s Sweet Sixteen loss over the last couple of days, as Burke is starting to look exactly like the kind of March Madness hero who climbs the boards because of a terrific showing in tournament play.
For those that didn’t see the Michigan/Kansas game, Burke hit a game-tying three-pointer from about thirty feet out at the end of regulation, then kicked things into another gear the first few minutes of overtime, knocking down the first two shots of the extra period. After failing to score at all in the first half, Burke scored 23 points in the second half and overtime, giving NBA scouts some idea of how talented this young scoring point guard actually is.
The fact that he chipped in 10 assists won’t hurt his stock, either, especially for a draft class that doesn’t really have any sure-fire point guard prospects in the hopper like in years past. Considering that three of the last four Rookies of the Year have been point guards, and that Portland’s Damian Lillard looks like he’ll make it four out of five, it won’t come as any surprise if teams start looking for excuses to reach for Burke higher than his current 10-14 predicted range.
Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart is, ostensibly, higher on the point guard board than Burke, but OSU hasn’t had anywhere near the tournament Michigan has had, and that first-round upset they experienced wasn’t exactly Smart’s shining moment on the big stage. Burke could easily leapfrog him on teams’ draft boards, especially if he has another strong showing next round against Florida.
The same glowing things cannot be said about Indiana’s Zeller, who isn’t even a lock to declare for the NBA draft after his team’s own loss to Syracuse on Thursday night.
One NBA GM told Mike Wells of the Indianapolis Star that Zeller “lacks toughness and rarely took over games,” something that’s been his problem all season long. The Hoosiers have lost a handful of games this season they had no business losing, and Zeller’s inability to shift the tide in those contests is what is keeping NBA teams from falling for him.
“What you saw against Syracuse is exactly why his stock has fallen,” an NBA scout told Wells. “He couldn’t get his shot off and he played passive against a physical, athletic team. That’s not the way to show you’re ready for the NBA.”
Zeller was, at one point, a candidate for the top overall pick in this upcoming draft, but most boards have him outside of the top two now, and should he declare it’s possible he could drop even further.
With Burke moving up and Zeller moving down, there’s a real chance that the former overtakes the latter on draft boards. If Michigan goes much deeper into the tourney behind Burke’s leadership, it’s going to look even more possible.
Are Any NBA Records Breakable At This Point?
While the Miami HEAT fell a little short of the consecutive wins streak set by Wilt Chamberlain’s Lakers, that doesn’t mean all of the NBA’s records will stick forever. HOOPSWORLD’s Yannis Koutroupis and Stephen Brotherston debate which records have even a small chance of being toppled at some point in the relatively near future:
Malcolm Thomas Gets Another 10 Days With Chicago
Joe Smith and Jim Jackson still hold the record for having each played for twelve different NBA teams. That sounds miserable—having to interview with teams on a yearly basis just hoping to stay employed, and then once the contract is signed, getting moved around in trade after trade after trade.
But if asked how those guys felt about the uncertainty associated with hopping around so often, they’d shrug it off because they were always at least talented enough to play full seasons in the NBA. They both stayed relevant through long careers, so there never really was that much anxiety over finding work.
That’s not necessarily the case for Chicago Bulls big man Malcolm Thomas, who was recently signed to his second ten-day contract. In fact, ten-day contracts are literally the only NBA exposure this kid has ever seen, despite his having had the best 2012 Summer League this side of Damian Lillard.
In fact, it was only a few weeks ago that he saw his first NBA action of the year, a ten-day contract with the Golden State Warriors. When that was up, the Bulls finally, mercifully, brought back the kid who killed it for them in Vegas last summer. It just took a while (and a couple of injuries to Taj Gibson and Joakim Noah) to realize he was worth a shot.
“It didn’t happen for me after summer league, so I just didn’t hang my head,” Thomas said. “It felt like you didn’t know why it didn’t happen, and you’ll never know because it could have been so many things. I just felt that I needed to get better, and if I did it would happen. I felt patience was the thing that I needed to improve on, so I did that and now I’m here.”
Now that he’s wearing a real Bulls uniform in the actual United Center, he can hardly believe it.
“It’s wild to be here,” he gushed. “My mom is here right now—she came to visit, and she’s just taking pictures and telling me that she can’t believe that I’m here. It’s crazy to me, and I don’t think it really hit me yet. I think once I’m a little more set with the team I’ll be a little more excited. I am excited about it, but once I know that I’ll be here long-term, I’ll be more excited.”
That, of course, is no guarantee, even though the Bulls could use some backcourt depth for the remainder of the season since Joakim Noah probably will need some rest as the playoffs approach. No one hopes for injuries, but they may be Thomas’s best shot at sticking with this team through the playoffs.
“I get my chance, I’m going to be ready and stay ready,” he said. “I couldn’t ask for a better situation; Joakim Noah is an All-Star, Carlos Boozer, who is one of the best big men in the league, Taj [Gibson] is becoming one of the best big men in the league, so I have a lot of guys that I can learn from and help me improve. I feel like this is the best situation I could be in.”
There is, of course, the possibility that he doesn’t get retained for the remainder of the season.
“I’m definitely not scared if it doesn’t work out,” Thomas added. “I’m going to do my best while I’m here, but if not, I’m not going to hang my head. I feel God blessed me for so long and blessed me with this situation. Anywhere I can go where I can play is fine with me.”
Of course, he’s not exactly playing with Chicago, despite being on the roster. He’s only appeared in one game so far—a few seconds at the end of the first half in the HEAT upset last week—and that could make it hard to make an impact, even with tons of injuries and a Bulls bench that it mostly incapable.
But if he does get his chance, he plans to make the most out of it. He’s talented enough to find a more permanent spot in this league—maybe not for 12 NBA teams, but it’d be nice to see him get the chance to stick with one.
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