Yesterday, ESPN College Hoops and International Draft expert Fran Fraschilla, who is also a former men’s basketball coach, discussed the 2015 NBA Draft Combine prospects and next month’s NBA Draft on a media conference call. This is the first year that ESPN has conducted an NBA Draft Combine call.
ESPN2 will televise the Draft Combine coverage from Chicago, both today and tomorrow, that’s May 14 and May 15 from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. ET each day. Mark Jones will host coverage with reporter Andy Katz along with Fraschilla and social media correspondent Brook Weisbrod.
Click here for the replay of today’s conference call.
Q. When you look at this draft class and all the needs surrounding the Lakers, if they end up with the number one pick, who would you select?
FRAN FRASCHILLA: The best player available. If you’re talking about the overall No. 1 pick, the healthy discussion will likely be between Jahlil Okafor and Karl‑Anthony Towns. But if they end up somewhere in the top 5, then I think that given their needs at virtually every position, maybe discounting the fact that Julius Randle will be healthy next year, that’s where I would start
To me, there will be some disagreement about this, but to me the first tier is six players, and it starts with Towns and Okafor, the two point guards D’Angelo Russell and Emmanuel Mudiay, Kristaps Porzingis, the 7’1″ Latvian who is 19 years old, and Mario Hezonja, the 6’8″ Croatian, who is the only player in this draft that I think eventually could win both the NBA dunk and three‑point contest.
But certainly if you’re picking as early as 1 or 2, you’re focusing on the two big kids.
Q. Give me your thoughts on D’Angelo Russell, because there are a lot of people here in Philly who think he could land with the Sixers, and how do you feel about that and his abilities and where he fits in with the Sixers?
FRASCHILLA: Yeah, I’m a huge D’Angelo Russell fan. I think D’Angelo Russell has a chance in time to be an NBA star. He is a combo guard who is more of a point guard, in my opinion, than he is a two‑guard. He is the best passer, I think I can remember in recent years this high in the draft. He has incredible court vision. He throws passes to teammates that don’t even realize they’re open. That is the mark of a great passer. He’s got size, he’s got a terrific IQ. He shoots over 40% from three.
As with many of these kids in this draft, the fact that he’s 19 years old means that he’s going to have a steep learning curve early in his career. But I just happen to be a huge fan of his. Just to throw some more stuff out there, don’t worry about some of his numbers going down late in the year because teams ganged up on him. He played basically 1-on-3, 1-on-4, much of the latter part of the season, because this was not a vintage Ohio State team. But I think D’Angelo Russell has a chance to be an outstanding NBA player once he physically matures. He’s very deserving, I think, being in that first group of five or six players.
Q. As you know, Kentucky has several guys in this draft, and three or four of them are not seen or not projected as first‑round picks. How can they move themselves into a position of getting in the first round?
FRASCHILLA: Oh, I think, Jerry, if you’re talking about Dakari Johnson and the two twins come to mind. I think that the other four are clearly in the first 20 picks, I believe. But I think that it’s going to come down to workouts and interviews with regard to the Harrison twins and Dakari Johnson.
All of them have, I think by NBA standards, limitations that keep them from being drafted high. In Dakari’s case it’s that he’s a big kid who is not a great athlete. He’s kind of a plodder. But he’s very young still, and size, as my friend Tom Penn often says, size rises in this draft. Dakari is not 20 years old yet, so it’s possible that somewhere in the late 20’s a team would see his value in developing him in the long‑term.
As far as the twins are concerned, I think you’re talking about while they have prototype NBA size, you’re talking about they’re not elite athletes. Neither one of them is an elite athlete. They’re both big, physical kids. Andrew I have rated higher. I think he plays the point guard position better than Aaron plays the two‑guard spot right now. Both of them will have to prove that they can shoot the ball well from the perimeter, because right now shooting is at a premium in the league. Because if you’re a perimeter guy and you cannot shoot the ball, your team becomes easier to defend. We’re watching that in the playoffs right now. So the twins have work to do.
But I think that both of them will end up on rosters when it’s all said and done.
Q. Do you think prototypical big men in the NBA now have to float on the floor or does it seem that way because there are so few low‑post scorers produced anymore?
FRASCHILLA: No, I think the reason that by necessity the league has gone smaller and more spread. You’re seeing more, what I would call, small lineups. What we call the stretch four‑man. In part, this is because there are just a handful of low‑post scorers. But I don’t know.
I watch Mark Gasol play or guys like that, I think there is still room for a guy like Jahlil Okafor. I think if Minnesota ends up with the first pick, there is going to be a long, healthy debate about both Towns and Okafor, and it’s going to take a few weeks to sort itself out.
In Okafor, you have a kid whose limitations, right now, may be on the defensive end, but you’re talking about a very skilled young offensive player at 6’11”, who I think in his early 20s is going to be un-guardable. Whereas Towns is not as ready‑made as Okafor may be offensively, but he’s got tantalizing shot blocking potential. He’s developing into a low‑post scorer. And something that was not seen this year, that many of us have watched him since he was about 16 know that he can do, is that he can step away from the basket and shoot threes.
So Towns probably has the edge to me right now because he’s the grand slam, and Okafor is just the home run. But I think if you can find a low‑post scorer at 6’11” who I think scores eventually as effortlessly as Okafor can, that’s hard to pass up.
I’ll say one more thing about Okafor watching him on tape. If you watch all of the NCAA Tournament games with which Duke played after the Robert Morris game, the low post is more crowded than Grand Central Station. He’s going to have more space in the league to operate, and you’ll see the kind of effectiveness that we’ve come to expect from the kid. And he’s still had a great year by anybody’s measures.
Q. Given the Timberwolves needs in the post, is it imperative that they get No. 1 or 2? Is their depth given their roster to go to 4 if it falls that far?
FRASCHILLA: Well, they want to have the ability to make their own decision, certainly. But I look at the T‑Wolves, quite frankly, as a team that basically, I think right now they need everything. They need everything except maybe the wing position that Andrew Wiggins is going to occupy. So they’ve got to shore up a couple of different areas: size, point guard, and they’ve got to improve their defense. I don’t know if that can happen with one pick, obviously, if they get a guard.
I think Minnesota, if they don’t pick one or two, then I think the likelihood is they’re going to be staring at a really good point guard in either Mudiay or D’Angelo Russell. Emmanuel Mudiay, or they’re going to see what I call the tantalizing, long‑term potential of Kristaps Porzingis, who is a 19‑year‑old, almost 7’2″ power forward who can shoot threes, and defend the rim. But he’s a couple of years away strength‑wise. But I’m telling you, he’s in the same long‑term potential range as both Towns and Okafor. I just don’t think anybody’s going to have the guts to take him one or two.
So they’re going to have a lot of options presented to themselves if they have anywhere in the top three or four picks.
Q. With the Thunder not making the playoffs, it looks like they’ll have a late lottery pick. Who do you think they’ll be looking at?
FRASCHILLA: Oh, gosh, they’re going to have their choices there, really. They’ve got some good, young bigs, obviously with the kids that are growing, Kanter, and McGary, Ibaka is still there, and he’s young, relatively. I think what Sam usually does it is take the best player available. So if you’re asking me who is going to be there, I can tell you that if you’re talking about late lottery, you’re talking about it could be a Cameron Payne from Murray State who is a terrific talent. A shooter like Devin Booker may fit in with them, who is the youngest player in this draft at 6’6″, a young man from Kentucky that can really shoot it. It could be a Kaminsky type, though I’m not sure they need another big man like that.
I think that they’re going to have a myriad of options in that particular ‑‑ if they’re picking late lottery.
Q. There were some questions with regards to Chris Walker and Michael Frazier both declaring early, but I read on Chad Ford’s most recent projections he had them as second round picks. So I’m curious of your thoughts on their likelihood and possibility of getting drafted and what they need to do between now and June to put themselves in a position to get drafted?
FRASCHILLA: Yeah, I think that they both have a chance to go in the second round. I mean, you saw Chris more than I did. I did watch him a number of times this year. I saw him at Kansas, I saw him on tape. I still think that he’ll get drafted because of his size and athleticism. There are a lot of guys in this draft because of their age and, let’s say the fact that they’re not polished players that are going to be drafted and red‑shirted. Many of these guys right now are not ready to play meaningful NBA games. There will be a team in the second round that sees the 6’10” and athleticism and may take a chance.
I actually saw glimmers of hope from him this year in the tape I watched and when I saw him in person. So I could see him easily going anywhere from 40 to 60.
Then Frazier, I peg him as second round to undrafted, actually. He’s a small shooting guard in terms of prototype and NBA size. He’s shown at times, obviously, that he’s a street shooter. He probably had a better sophomore year than he did this year. So I think he’s going to get an opportunity whether he gets drafted or not. Whether you go to Las Vegas or Orlando, you’re going to see Michael Frazier on somebody’s Summer League team.
Like anything else it won’t matter where he got drafted or if he got drafted. It will just be able to prove to people in the league that he can play in the league.
Q. Just your thoughts on Towns and Okafor not going to Chicago, and also Emmanuel, that’s sort of a separate thing because he had a different background also not going to Chicago.
FRASCHILLA: Let me discuss Winslow first. I think I have him 7th. I realize that there are people that have him higher. What Justise Winslow has going for him is tremendous athleticism, even by NBA standards. Because when we cover college basketball season, we say a guy’s a great athlete, and you get him in the league and you realize he’s an average athlete. But I can tell you that I think Justise Winslow is a tremendous athlete with size, speed and power. He really benefited from playing power forward the last 12 games of the season where he became un-guardable because bigger guys were trying to stay in front of him, and that was not working.
In the NBA he’ll see guys that are more his like size and athleticism. But I like him. I don’t like him ‑‑ I like him 7th on my board.
The other three guys not coming to Chicago just makes perfect sense. They’re all going in in the top 5, they’re all going to have private workouts for the teams that have those selections. And since we don’t know the order of the draft lottery until next week, it really doesn’t mean anything that they’re not here, because, first of all, all three guys that you mentioned are high‑character guys. There are not going to be a whole lot of red flags with their background checks. They all seem to be healthy. So the medicals will take care of themselves when they visit the teams. And strategically there doesn’t seem to be any benefit from being here in Chicago in what essentially is a cattle call.
Q. Assuming the Warriors match whatever offer Draymond Green gets, they’re not going to have a ton of needs in this draft, but they’re always looking for shooting. Can you tell me who might be there at the end of the first round for them?
FRASCHILLA: Sure. That’s a big concern. What I’ve noticed in talking to my NBA friends is the league has gone smaller, and obviously the Warriors is a perfect example of this. And obviously, shooting is at a premium because it stretches the floor. But by the time they are picking, and it’s safe to say that Booker, Russell and Hezonja, the Croatian, will all be off the board but guys that I look that have good value towards the end of the first round.
And I think I’m not as high on R.J. Hunter from Georgia State going in the first 15, so he could be ‑‑ you’re talking about R.J. Hunter, you’re talking about Rashad Vaughn from UNLV, Joe Young from Oregon, who is kind of a tweener, but a great shooter, and has proven to be able to help out at the point a little bit. So I would say those three guys are guys that I have pegged as late first‑round type guys that should be there.
Pat Connaughton is a kid that’s played at Notre Dame and will be there in the early second, mid‑second that can really shoot it. So if they go shooters, those are some guys that jump out at me.
Rashad Vaughn is very interesting, because he’ll be one of the younger players in this draft and at 6’5″, and coming off what seemed to be a successful first season at UNLV until he hurt his knee, is a kid the Warriors could draft, and, again, bring him along slowly because he’s not going to be really ready to help them win for a couple of years.
But most of these guys right now who are getting drafted by and large are not ready to play meaningful minutes.
The final thing I’ll say about that is anywhere between 15 and 20 of these kids who go in the first round will be teenagers, so keep that in mind when you draft late in a round. You’re getting prospects and not ready‑made guys.
Q. We already touched on D’Angelo Russell, obviously. But one knock on him is some of the teams aren’t considering him to be an elite athlete. How concerned do you think teams at the top of the draft will be about that and can he assuage those concerns at the combine?
FRASCHILLA: There was a guy that was drafted a handful of years ago who had the same rap. His name was Steph Curry. He wasn’t an elite athlete, supposedly. I don’t think it’s a big deal.
There is no question that D’Angelo has to physically mature. When I saw him in person this year, and I watched him practice, actually, the one thing I thought to myself is as much as I loved him, he was still 15 pounds away and a couple of years from physically maturing. But let me just tell you something ‑‑ I’m just going to mention some names and I have it on a list here. These are guys that were very fast starters in the NBA as point guards: Damian Lillard, Kyrie Irving, Steph Curry, Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul. They all got off to great starts to their careers. Some weren’t one‑and‑done guys. But the point here is while he’s not an elite athlete, he’s a good enough athlete, and he may be the most skilled player in this draft. I didn’t say the best player, but maybe the most skilled from the standpoint of shooting, passing IQ, and then the requisite size to play guard in the NBA. So I don’t think he’s going to have much of a problem once he starts to physically mature.
Q. As far as position or types of players in the draft, where do you think the strength of depth lies for like a team late in the lottery?
FRASCHILLA: Yeah, I think two positions, Paul: point guard and the bigs. If you take the bigs right off the bat, you’re talking about after Okafor and Towns and Porzingis, and that’s three right there. Then you’re talking about guys like Kaminsky, and Willie Cauly‑Stein, different types of centers from each other, but needless to say, both big guys.
Then point guard. You talk about Russell, Mudiay, and then you’ve got Cameron Payne, you’ve got Jerian Grant, you’ve got DeLon Wright, Tyus Jones comes into play, you know, later on in the first round.
So I think point guard is the other position where you could see six point guards go in the first round, in the first 30 picks. So bigs particularly at center and point guards in the two deep spots.
Q. Is there anybody who you still feel like has to prove themselves as a playmaker?
FRASCHILLA: No, I don’t. I think each of the guys I’ve mentioned, they’re all very capable of distributing the basketball. I think Cameron Payne, late lottery slightly after that has a chance to be a tremendous NBA player. Then when you talk about DeLon Wright and Jerian Grant, neither one will have the upside that teams like, because they’re both going to be 22 or 23 playing in the league next year. But both of them really know how to play. Both of them have been in the family business. Jerian’s dad played in the league. His older brother is in the league. And of course DeLon Wright’s older brother, Dorell is in the league.
And Tyus Jones, it’s kind of like I hate to say it, but it’s true, he’s kind of like Tyler Ennis a year ago. You’ll probably relate to this, but he’s a very good, solid, cerebral player. I don’t see stardom for him, but I see him being in the league and going towards the back end of the first round, 20 to 30.
Q. You’ve seen Aaron White over the years here at Iowa, how does his game translate to the next level and what does he have to show scouts and GMs this week to get into that conversation to get into the draft?
FRASCHILLA: Well, he’s going to get drafted. There is no question. There is a possibility that a team ‑‑ it only takes one team to like you, and there is an outside possibility that he could sneak into the late first round, if my opinion. The one thing about Aaron, right off the bat, he’s athletic, and he’s versatile, and the proof is in the pudding based on his career.
The thing that I think ‑‑ let’s take the bad first. The bad is he’s going of it to prove that he can defend one of the two positions that he’s going to play at in the league, that is, is he mobile and athletic enough to guard NBA small forwards? And at this point in time, he’s not strong enough to guard the elite power forwards. But that’s okay because if you’re a second unit power forward in the league, there are a lot of guys that he matches up with.
The best thing about Aaron White’s opportunity right now is the way he ended his career at Iowa. The last eight games he averaged almost 23 points a game. He shot it well from deep, and he made his free throws, which is what he’s always done. I think he’s a terrific jack‑of‑all‑trades type guy, and I see him somewhere between 25 and 40. But he’s got to defend better, because there were times this year that he was a conscientious objector on that side of the floor. But I’m a fan.
Q. I have a question about Michigan State’s guy there at the combine this week, Branden Dawson. What do you see him needing to do to kind of solidify himself as a second-round guy?
FRASCHILLA: Well, he’s the classic tweener. He’s built like a small forward, but he really was a better power forward at Michigan State. I don’t have it right in front of me, but I don’t think he made a three in his career at Michigan State, and that doesn’t bode well for him with regard to him playing away from the basket, and particularly stretching the floor like former Spartan, Draymond Green can do.
With Branden, it’s going to have to be try to carve out a role as an energy guy, anyway he possibly can, defensively in particularly. But he’s a tweener, and at this point in time, I don’t have him in my top 50, even though he was a good college player. Doesn’t mean that he can’t prove people like me wrong, but at this point I think his skill level is such that he’s going to have to do something remarkable at the combine and in private workouts.
Q. You spoke about Porzingis earlier. How about talk about Hezonja’s NBA rating?
FRASCHILLA: Hezonja is 6’8″, and maybe I didn’t mention it on this call, but maybe I did, but he’s the only guy in this draft that someday potentially could win either the Dunk Contest or the three‑point contest or both because he’s a phenomenal athlete. He’s mercurial in that maturity has been an issue as a young player.
Do not go by his statistics at Barcelona. In some years Barcelona is as good as some of the bottom five to seven NBA teams. They’re very deep. They do things differently over there. Coaches in Europe are like college coaches, they kind of rule with an iron hammer. And once they knew that he was leaving for the NBA, his minutes started to shrink. So statistics mean very little with these European kids because of how the coaches are.
He has a chance to be an NBA star if everything comes together for him because he has that unique ability and got the unique package, I should say, of ridiculous athleticism, and he is a streaky but above‑average shooter. He made eight straight threes in a Spanish ACD game this year, which is, as I would point out, is the farther three‑point line in the college line, its closer to the NBA line.
So he’s going to be staring the Pistons in the face if the Pistons are picking where they’re projected to pick right now.
Q. I was just wondering with Arizona, and like a lot of high‑profile programs they make a point to say that NBA scouts are at virtually every practice and they’re heavily scouted in games. They’ve got four guys going this week, with McConnell being at it. Can any of them gain anything this week in particular that they haven’t maybe shown already?
FRASCHILLA: No, depending on who works out and who does the drills and obviously who plays, I think they can all help themselves.
Let’s take Stanley who is likely to be a lottery pick. That’s fairly evident. But based on his workouts now and over the next month and a half, he certainly can help himself.
Rondae’s situation, there are teams that really love a lot about Rondae, but it gets back to the old story. If you’re not making perimeter shots and you happen to be a perimeter player, then teams basically are going to play defensively 5 on 4. So Rondae’s got a chance to prove that.
Brandon Ashley has to prove that he has the athleticism to play in the league. He’s not in anybody’s first round, and there are teams I’ve talked to that don’t have him in the second round. So he certainly has room to help himself.
And finally, T.J.’s one of those guys that may be one of the older guys in this draft, but T.J.’s one of those guys like a Matthew Dellavedova, and others as I think about, could stick because every NBA team usually carries three point guards. And in T.J.’s case, he’s got the toughness, he’s a great quarterback, great leader, and so he certainly has some more things to prove this week.
I think Arizona’s guys can all help themselves over the next six weeks because each one of them can move up based on where they’re perceived to be by NBA teams right now, and that varies with each, obviously.
Q. Do you think it makes a big difference if they’re playing in these games? If they’re playing Johnson and Hollis‑Jefferson are not, but Ashley and McConnell will.
FRASCHILLA: I think it helps them. I think it helps them. Because I don’t think they have anything to lose. Neither one of them is projected to go in the first round, nor could both find themselves out of the second round. So I say go for it. Swing for the fences.
As I might have mentioned earlier, Jamal Crawford, George Hill, Devean George, Beno Udrih, all played at the combine and helped themselves, so I think in this case it can’t hurt.
The Kings have been looking for shooters the last three, four, five years. They lost their drafted shooters the last couple of years. Are there guys in that range that they could look at that can help them with shooting, particularly at the power forward spot because they’ve been trying to find a stretch forward for a while too?
FRASCHILLA: Well, I think they’ve got to be careful. They’re in that range where they don’t want to reach and take a guy who may be top 15 talent just because it’s a need. My suggestion to the Kings would be take the best player available and hope that guy is a shooter, you know? And as I look at the Kings right now, I think they’d be fortunate if a guy like D’Angelo Russell slid to six, and let’s say Winslow goes early, earlier than I have him projected.
The other guy, if they really are looking for shooting, you might look at a guy like Hezonja. Nobody thinks Towns will be there, so let’s forget about him. But Hezonja, and Porzingis, one is a three, one is a four, but both of them could shoot the ball well enough in time to take a little heat off of DeMarcus inside.
But to me, point guard is shooting are the two areas that they must shore up, and if D’Angelo Russell slid to six, they would find themselves in a very, very fortuitous position. I would not reach up and take somebody that is not in the top six, say like a Kaminsky or Cameron Payne or Devin Booker, if they’re 9 through 15 talent. I would take the best player available and find shooting somewhere else.
Q. Let’s say the Knicks had their pick of any draft‑eligible player, which player do you think could make the biggest impact for them given their system and personnel immediately? And which player do you think can make the biggest impact for them given their system and personnel in the next five years when he’s a fully developed player?
FRASCHILLA: Well, it’s a good question. I think my answer is assuming they pick number one, that the likelihood is the league ‑‑ it seems to me and the people I talk to in the league, and I’m the college guy here, but I think I study the league, size really matters, as does shooting, but size first. So if the Knicks pick one, they’re going to be scratching their heads for about a month figuring out whether they want to go with Okafor or Towns in my opinion.
I think Okafor may be more ready to average 18 and 9 as a rookie, and Towns has a chance to be the better player over the next decade. And that’s going to be something that they’re going to have to really study that process closely. Towns has more versatility because he has the ability to play away from the basket. And in the triangle that doesn’t hurt, especially in that elbow area, but the triangle has also been made for low‑post players in the past, like Shaq.
So I think the dilemma is going to be do you want maybe the sure thing early in Okafor versus rolling the dice a little bit and maybe Towns becomes the better player over time. That’s the way I would go.
Porzingis is not going to be in the mix because the Knicks are just not going to take a chance on an international guy that they don’t know as well as these other two guys.
Although I think D’Angelo Russell has a chance to be the best player in this draft someday, I doubt that they’ll roll the dice with the number one pick on either Russell or Mudiay.
Q. What is your overall evaluation of Justin Anderson from Virginia? What does he have to do to solidify himself in the first round or possibly move up a little bit?
FRASCHILLA: I’m hearing good stuff about his workouts. People tell me he’s been impressive. I think he’s out in LA, if I’m not mistaken. But be that as it may, Justin is your prototypical three‑and‑D guy, which is becoming important in the league, a guy that can make threes. Again, if this last year was not fool’s gold. He had an incredible first part of the year before he got hurt. Did not shoot the ball as well in the second part.
But he’s an explosive athlete. If he becomes a really consistent three‑point shooter and defends his position, he’s going to have a chance of developing into a good NBA player.
Two things ‑‑ and I coached Justin at the high school All‑Star camps, so I think I know his game pretty well. Two things that he has to improve on is his ability to beat people off the dribble. I thought even in Tony Bennett’s system this year, he gave up at times defensively, let’s say, in pick‑and‑roll situations where I thought he needed to be a little more hungry fighting through screens. But overall the combination potentially now of athleticism, positional size, defensive ability, and ability to make threes, I think is going to keep him in the first round or in fact help him move up.
Q. With Cameron Payne, what do you think is his best case scenario, and also his worst‑case scenario as far as the first round? Is there one system that you see him fitting in more than any other?
FRASCHILLA: No, because he’s had the benefit in Steve Prohm’s system of playing in an NBA style offense, where it was heavily pick‑and‑roll basketball, which is going to help him tremendously. Cameron’s range is anywhere as high as nine, and anywhere as low as 20. Here’s a guy that didn’t even start on his AAU team and high school in Memphis, as you know. But you love his size, his ability to shoot the ball and his ability to play pick‑and‑roll basketball. He’s a very good athlete. He’s going to end up being one of the best defenders in this draft. He’s got a lot of promise.
He also, as I would say, the other thing that helps him is guards from mid‑major schools in recent years, Steph Curry, Damian Lillard, George Hill, C.J. McCollum for the Blazers have all been able to adjust to the NBA game relatively quickly. I would expect the same thing from Cameron.
If I nitpicked a little bit, I would say he has to improve on his ball handling and his ability to attack going to his right, because he’s very left‑hand dominant. He goes right to pull up for the jumper, he goes left to drive. But he’s got great court vision, and I think he’s got a chance to be an instant, help somebody instantly next year if they stick him in as a starting point guard.
Q. What about the other three guys from Kentucky, Cauley‑Stein, Lyles and Booker? What is the question mark for each one of them, and what is the biggest upside for all three of them?
FRASCHILLA: Well, I think Willie Cauley‑Stein’s upside is Tyson Chandler. No one’s throwing Willie the ball in the low post and asking him to score when he gets to the league. The league is about length and rim protection. So his upside is Tyson Chandler.
The other thing about Willie that is as good in this draft as anybody is just his ability to defend everywhere on the floor. The NBA, as I mentioned, is a rim protection league, and it’s also a pick‑and‑roll league and Willie can not only be effective in pick‑and‑roll defense, he can switch on to good NBA guards and stay in front of them, and we saw that this year.
Devin Booker is an interesting case, because as I mentioned earlier, he’s the youngest guy in this draft. He’s another guy that comes, he’s in the family business because his father was a tremendous European player for upwards of a decade. He’s mature. He gets it. He’s going to be low‑maintenance off the court. He’s an elite shooter. He’s a deceptive athlete, and he’s young. So all these things come into play with his being drafted probably in the first 15 picks.
And Trey Lyles is a very interesting case, because he spent the majority of his year playing out of position by necessity. Trey is, again, a young player who is a teenager at 6’10”, 235, I think he can develop into a good, solid, low‑post player who can pick‑and‑pop a little bit on the perimeter. I like his long‑term potential. Not a great athlete at this point, maybe never will be, but I could see him being a solid NBA player fair decade. Whether he becomes a star or not remains to be seen. But he’ll add great value to a team wanting to add a good, young, quality big guy.
Media contact: Gianina Thompson at [email protected] (@Gianina_ESPN)