ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Bilas spoke with media on a conference call this afternoon to preview the 2018 NBA Draft. ESPN is doubling up its coverage of the 2018 NBA Draft presented by State Farm on Thursday, June 21, at 7 p.m. ET, with two unique, simultaneous telecasts on ESPN and ESPN2.
Below is a transcript from the call.
You’ve been analyzing the NBA draft for 16 years now. I’m wondering how you try to keep it fresh for yourself or does it become more of a routine sort of thing?
JAY BILAS: That’s a good question. I don’t know that it’s routine at all. I have certain habits that I follow in the way that I prepare, but every draft has been different. I didn’t know it was 16. I knew my first one was ’03, but I haven’t counted them up. The first draft I did was the LeBron James draft, and so that’s obviously very memorable, probably the best one that there’s been in that time frame. But each one has its own unique feel to it, and this one’s unique itself in that there are so many big guys at the top of the draft.
You don’t often see that, especially in an age when all we’re talking about is positionless players and the value of guards that can shoot it and handle it. You know, we got a bunch of big guys at the top of this draft that are going to be the first names called.
And just as a follow, I happened to come across a gambling site earlier today that had an over-under on how many times you said words like “potential” and “stretches the floor” during the draft coverage. I wondered what you thought of that. Should we take the over or the under?
BILAS: I did see that, and I would take the over on each one of those, especially wingspan.
I’m curious in watching Virginia play this year, when you saw Devon Hall, did you see him as a guy that even then before he kind of went on these draft boards as somebody that might be an NBA player, and why do you think during these past weeks and months he’s kind of gotten on draft boards?
BILAS: Yeah, I felt that Devon could make an NBA team because he’s a lefty. He can shoot it, and he’s an excellent defender and a guy who’s — he’s a solid all-around player, and because he can make shots, he can move the ball; and he guards, you know, he can guard multiple spots, and he’s got size and strength. You know, I think he can be a rotation player in the NBA. He’s a very good catch-and-shoot player. He’s among the 95th percentile in being able to catch it and shoot it. But he’s very well schooled, and he doesn’t make a lot of mistakes. And I think Malcolm Brogdon’s success in the NBA, I think, opened a lot of eyes that you go into the league — I think Brogdon is a much better player than Devon is. But you go into the league and you’re a solid team player that has an NBA skill, he can shoot it and he can guard people. He can find his way to the floor, and he’ll find his way onto a roster somewhere.
Jay, how do you assist Trae Young defensively and how do you think he will perform as a defender in the NBA?
BILAS: Well, the first thing is with Trae is he’s small, so he’s going to have to guard point guards, and he did not do a very good job defensively last year, but he wasn’t really asked to do that. He couldn’t really — with the amount of responsibility he had for that team’s success, he couldn’t really afford to get in which foul trouble. So I would not project him as a good defender. I think he can be much better than he was last year where he wasn’t a very focused defender. But that’s really not his — might be a little bit harder to hide a smaller guy like him. You can hide a bigger guy by putting him on a bigger guy. But Trae Young’s value is going to be his offense first. But, you know, I rank him as a Top 10 prospect in the draft; and offensively, you know, he’s special, and I think he — I’m not one of those that jumped off the Trae Young bandwagon in the second half of the season. I was on it the whole way. I think he’s going to be a very good pro.
Well, you answered most of my second question, which was just how special is he offensively?
BILAS: He is really special on the offensive end, because he’s got low-go range as a shooter. When he takes good shots, he’s very efficient. I think he felt like he had to take some bad ones, some challenged ones and some unusually deep ones last year. His teammates, while I don’t think he has — he’s compared to Stephen Curry in college, and Curry had, frankly, better teammates, and I don’t mean that to denigrate the teammates that Young had, but they were all sort of one dimensional. They could do one thing. And so a lot fell on Trae Young’s shoulders.
But he’s special out of pick-and-rolls. He’s an excellent passer. He’s got terrific vision. And you know, I don’t think it can be diminished that he did something last year that no player has ever done in college basketball history since assists were being kept. He led the nation’s scoring in assists, and I don’t think that was an accident. So I think he’s a very special offensive player.
Jay, obviously I’m kind of interested in guys the Cavs might end up with. I just wondered if you could maybe discuss a little bit of the pluses and minuses about Collin Sexton and Wendell Carter, Jr., please?
BILAS: I think Collin Sexton is overall the best point guard prospect in the draft. He doesn’t shoot it particularly well. That’s not a strength of his, but he makes free throws. He shoots free throws at a very high clip; he makes close to 80 percent of them, and oftentimes when a guy that does not shoot it well from the field makes his free throws, that means he can really improve, and I think Collin is going to improve as a shooter. He’s a fantastic athlete. He’s got a good-size wingspan, even though he’s not that tall. He’s only 6’2 and a half or so, but he’s got a 6’7 wingspan. He is really athletic, especially in the open floor, and he’s fearless attacking the basket. And he may be — this is something that’s harder to quantify, but he may be the most competitive kid in the draft. He’s a real fighter, and I think is going to make an excellent NBA point guard in time. So I really like him, and I think — I’d be surprised if he lasts past the Top 10, so I think you’re right that he’ll be right there at No. 8, if the Cavaliers decide to pull the trigger on him. He should be there anyway. But you never know.
And then Wendell Carter, Jr. is one of the most undervalued big guys in the draft, even though he’s valued as a Top 10 pick. He played basically every minute of his freshman year with Marvin Bagley, III in the lineup. Bagley is the top 3 pick. And I think Wendell Carter, Jr. is capable of so much more than he showed. He’s a real workhorse as a player. Every rebound he grabs he grabs with two hands. And he can block shots. He scores with his back to the basket. He’s showed a good touch stepping away from the basket, and I think he can really improve there. I really like him as a player. I think he’s going to be very good. The question mark you have is how he will guard when put in — how will he defend when put in pick-and-roll situations, you know, what are his feet like and his ability to move his feet, stay in front as a guard and help out pick-and-roll situations. But he’s very, very good, and I think — I’d be surprised if he were still there at eight.
Just one quick thing. I mean since the Cavs don’t know what LeBron is doing, could you see those — either one of those guys being someone you could build a team around?
BILAS: I wouldn’t say build your team around. They could be really good pieces to a good team. But you know, there’s a big difference, I think, between — you know, there are only a handful of players you can build a team around. And obviously LeBron is one of those. But you don’t see a lot of real superstars in the NBA. There might be a dozen of those guys. And then everybody else is, you know, you have levels of star. But as far as a guy that can help carry a team, I don’t think they’re — either Sexton or Carter, Jr. are the type that would — you know, would carry a team. They can carry a load, help carry a load, but they’re not sort of the same as a LeBron James type or Kevin Durant or something like that.
Two quick questions. One, what makes these bigs so attractive? I mean obviously you don’t have the space-eating guys and the back-to-the-basket guys anymore like you did in the past decade. What makes these guys so attractive? Have the bigs now become more versatile and it just happens to be a year there’s a lot of them, and secondly, what can the Celtics get at 27? Can you get an impact? Can you get a Kuzma as the Lakers did last year at that spot, a player who can impact your team?
BILAS: Yeah. First with the bigs, I just think it happens to be the way things fell this year. I mean all these guys are more skilled and athletic than we saw big guys years and years ago that were anchored down on the low post and went block to block. These players are far more versatile and far more athletic and can change ends. And really what teams are looking for, are they able to protect the rim, rebound, and can they step away and make a perimeter shot, because if you can — if you can help stretch the defense, you are a much more valuable asset out there. All these offenses are more spread floor in nature rather than being sort of a permanent post. So we don’t have many guys that are — I think Wendell Carter, Jr., it was just mentioned, is more of a traditional big guy, but he can step away and he’s got a nice touch. He needs to develop it.
Mohamed Bamba you don’t see very often, because he’s got the longest wingspan I’ve ever seen at 7’10, is going to be a special shot blocker, and they don’t make big guys like DeAndre Ayton very often. And Jaren Jackson, Jr. is maybe the youngest player in this draft. Has a lot of talent and is one of those guys that can block shots, rebound and step away and knock down threes consistently.
And as to the second part of your question with regard to what would be available later in the draft when the Celtics are drafting, you know, you got a bunch of guys that are capable, so could you find someone that’s like a Kyle Kuzma you mentioned that the Lakers grabbed late in the first round or Draymond Green went in the second round. I think you could absolutely do that. There are certain guys in this draft that I think are very good, whether it’s — and have a lot of ability. Whether it’s Jerome Robinson, from Boston College who’s a complete player that can really score and excellent in the mid range and can shoot it from deep. And Chandler Hutchison from Boise State is an excellent prospect, a guy who’s got some experience coming in; not a great shooter, but very, very complete and does everything well.
Josh Okogie from Georgia Tech is another guy that’s got really long arms, just gigantic hands and is just a bulldog on defense and is always in attack mode. He’s raw, but he’s going to continue to get better.
So there are a number of prospects that are sort of later in the first round, even early in the second, that are going to have really productive NBA careers in my judgment.
Jay, the Lakers are going to be looking for a shooter or big guy that can space the floor at 25th. Wondering what kind of depth you think there is for those things and what they can expect to be available for them right around that position?
BILAS: Yeah, it depends how the draft falls, if you don’t know as much. Once you get past sort of the lottery, things can shift around pretty easily. But as far as shooters are concerned, one of the better shooters in the draft is Kevin Huerter from Maryland. He’s 6’6, 6’7 very, good passer, and excellent range; a really, really good shooter. I’d be surprised if he’s still there at 25. Jacob Evans from Cincinnati is a good shooter and talented young player.
Gary Trent, Jr., from Duke, who I think will probably — likely to be taken in the second round in my judgment. He’s a shot-maker shooter, and if they need somebody, they might take him a little bit earlier than he’s projected. And then Grayson Allen actually is a really good — is one of the best shooters, an excellent catch-and-shoot guy with big-time range and a very good passer. I project Allen being gone by 25th, the 25th pick. But certainly those guys, I would say, in that range are the best offensive players, best shooters.
Is there a difference in how you have to evaluate that, you know, how you project a guy into the NBA because of how different the game can be in college versus the NBA?
BILAS: Yeah. That’s a good question. I mean, yeah, you look for — you know, their physical profile is one thing, and I think you have to look at the types of shots they make; is it all catch and shoot, can they shoot off the dribble, where do their shots come from, how many of their shots are challenged shots or are they open shots, because as you know, the NBA three is a deeper shot. And so do they shoot it with ease, and how far can they extend it out. And you know, there are guys — I think the NBA has proven over the years you can take a guy who may not project as a great shooter in college and make him a much better shooter. I still don’t think you can make a bad shooter into a great shooter, but you can make an average shooter into a good one, just with the amount of time they put into it, the reps, change in mechanics, things like that. The NBA has proven they can do that over the years with guys that are willing workers.
I’m just wondering if you can kind of break down two, three, four, we all pretty much assume that eight is the lock at No. 1, but how do you see the next three or four picks after that going? And in particular, if you could also kind of give me a rundown on Luka Doncic, I’d appreciate it.
BILAS: Yeah, I think two, three and four is gonna be from the group of Marvin Bagley, III of Duke; Jaren Jackson, Jr. of Michigan State; who you mentioned, Luka Doncic, and Mo Bamba from Texas. That seems to be the consensus for most people, and that’s certainly the way I have it.
On Luka Doncic, he is a — he may be the most accomplished European teenager to ever come into the draft. You know, there’s very little that is unknown about him. He’s not some workout wonder that people are projecting. He’s accomplished things, and he has been seen in five-on-five against high-level competition for a number of years. He’s played professional basketball since he was 13. And the best I’ve heard it described is from any colleague, Mike Schmitz, who said that Luka Doncic has the highest floor in this draft, which I take to mean that, look, we may be able to argue over how good he’s going to be, but he’s going to be good, and he’s not going to fail. He is really good in pick and roll. I mean he’s basically a 6’8 guard that makes really good decisions. He is a great passer, not a good one, a great passer that’s got terrific vision with the ball. He knows how to play. He knows how to read defenses. The concerns that you have with him are he’s a streaky shooter. He makes shots, but streaky, and he’s not a fabulous NBA athlete. So who he guards can be an issue, but he’s the real thing. I mean he can really play. The question is just — I mean I think the only question is just how good of a player is he going to be. You know, does he have greatness in him, because he’s got the attributes of a great player. It’s just a question of, you know, would you take — who do you think is going to be better, and I think most people would say Ayton. You don’t turn down a player like DeAndre Ayton. He’s one of a kind.
You talked about Collin Sexton’s hyper competitiveness, and given the fact the way he attacks the goal and also, you know, his size, how do you think his body holds up over the course of an NBA season and plus the playoffs?
BILAS: I think he’ll do fine. I have no concerns about Collin Sexton’s durability. He’s not the biggest guy out there. It’s not like he’s a 6’7 guard or a Magic Johnson size or something. But, you know, in today’s game where it’s not clutch-and-grab like it used to be, where, you know, it was just a foul fest all the time and you had to have the body of a linebacker to make it through. You know, I think he’s going to be just fine. And heck, you know, he almost won a game three on five this last year against Minnesota. So if it ever breaks out to a three-on-three game, I’m picking him.
Yeah. Is that game in particular something that you gather stood out to NBA executives?
BILAS: It’s memorable. Look, it’s not something you compare it with how other guys did in a three-on-five situation. It doesn’t happen very often, but I think it was just another data point that shows that there’s not any quit in Collin Sexton, that he’s really competitive and he will fight you from start to finish. And look, we can talk about it, well, Minnesota didn’t handle this correctly or they were just trying to hang on and they should have won by more. They should have. But that was — that may have been the most — I don’t want to say the most — it was one of the most entertaining games of the year simply because of, you know, how Collin Sexton battled and he just wouldn’t give in.
With Mo Bamba spending some time with Joel Embiid studying film and modeling his game after him this summer during workouts, what kind of potential do you think Bamba has of developing into a player like that at the next level?
BILAS: Well, he’s different than Joel Embiid. He’s a better shot blocker, and Bamba is unique. You don’t find guys like him. He’s got crazy length. He’s basically Rudy Gobert with better offense at this stage of his career. He’s very, very talented. He’s one of the most intelligent players in the draft. And I think his college coach, Shaka Smart, did a very good job with him working with him to think of himself as more than just a low-post big guy. Most of the pick-and-roll stuff they did in drill work, he would pop and shoot jump shots. And he worked with him not only on ways to be a better player in Texas, but ways to be a better player going forward for the length of his career. You know, I think anytime you have a guy that’s as smart as Mo Bamba and shows an interest in things outside the court, it seems like those are the guys that are always questioned as to how much they love the game. But he has shown to be a worker, and I think he’s going to be an excellent NBA player that is going to be very impactful on the defensive end on the glass from the first day.
So going a little bit more into that, what kind of impact do you think Bamba could have on a team from day one versus how much more development he needs perhaps in his offensive game? And what kind of situation do you think he would fit in? What kind of teams fitting around that five, six spot do you think he would work really well with?
BILAS: There’s no team that he would not work well with because of his skill set. He’s a rim-protecting big guy that can rebound. He can run. And I think he’s — even though he’s a little bit raw offensively, he’s shown that he’s got an improving offensive game because he got better throughout the course of the year. And he’s still really young. So he’s going to develop, and he’s going to get bigger and stronger, and he’s going to look a lot different in five years than he does now. The only question mark that you have with Mo Bamba is his motor, his want-to. He needs to be a more assertive player, in my judgment, that he had too many games where — like if you go back and look at the films, his game against Kansas at Texas in Austin where he basically dominated the game from the beginning. I mean his want-to was as high as in any game of the season. But then there would be other games where you’re wondering when he was going to kind of get it going. And I think as he becomes older, he’ll become a more assertive player and he’ll be much, much better.
Two questions. First, what in your opinion is the best to have an idea what a player will be like potentially in the pros? Watching them play in games? At the combine? Or individual workouts or a combination of the three? And secondly, have you been asked about the NBA looking into going back to allowing high schoolers get drafted? If you could talk on those two things, please.
BILAS: Yeah, as far as evaluating players, I think if you put it in order, most people would tell you that they learn more from watching a player play five on five. I mean basketball is a five-on-five game. And you know, I think last would be the workouts. And then in the combine there’s some value, but not everybody plays. So you’re not able to look at the top prospects. You know, you see guys go through testing and you go through the interview process where you get to spend time with them, and I think that’s very valuable. But it’s always a combination of things. But if you’re just going strictly off basketball ability, I don’t know anybody that wouldn’t rather see a player in five-on-five situations.
As to the one-and-done rule, all I can go by is what I’ve heard, and I do believe there’s movement that the NBA will take high school players again at some point in the next few years. I don’t think it’s going to happen before 2020 or 2021, something like that. But I can tell you my judgment with it. I think a lot of people are forgetting that the landscape when the one-and-done rule came in. The one-and-done rule came in for a reason, and the reason was the NBA was tired of having high school players and they were tired of having their scouts and NBA personnel sitting in high school gyms. And college coaches were thrilled with the one-and-done rule when it first came in because they were having to recruit players that ultimately, whether they projected them or not, went pro out of high school. So they still had to recruit guys in a belt-and-suspenders approach. And then you had coaches that were recruiting guys they knew were going to go pro just so they could have them in their recruiting class and raise their recruiting profile and raise their recruiting rankings so as to help sell their program.
So it was a mess when we had — before the one-and-done rule came in. And I wouldn’t argue with anybody that says there are messy parts to it now. But my stance has always been for any college team, if you don’t want a one-and-done player, it’s pretty easy; you don’t have to recruit them. Nobody is making you do it.
We go back to it — we blamed all our problems in college basketball on the one-and-done rule, and the one-and-done rule is not responsible for all our problems. We had those problems before one-and-done, and we’re going to have them after, and we’ll conveniently blame something else when we have the same problems after the one-and-done rule is gone.
What would you say Mo Wagner’s feeling is, and how do you see him fitting into today’s NBA?
BILAS: I think Mo is going to be a solid NBA player. I think he’s a very late first-round or early second-round pick. He’s got — obviously he’s got good size and can stretch the floor a bit. He’s a skilled big guy that can make a play. He’s disciplined and does a good job of putting a body on somebody and boxing out. He’s not a great rebounder, but he does do a great job of boxing out on every possession; and he’s gotten better and better throughout the course of his young career. He plays hard, and I think he’s going to need to continue to improve on the defensive end. He’s not really a shot blocker, and he’s not a high-volume rebounder, but in today’s game he can play out on the perimeter and draw big guys away from the basket and he can make open shots. So I think he’s got a chance to be a good NBA player.
Is there a current NBA player that he reminds you of?
BILAS: Yeah. That’s the one thing I’ve always been terrible at is the comparison game, because I wind up going by what a guy looks like rather than what his — height, weight, athleticism level is, and so I don’t really keep a list of that. I just go by what I think of the player. Sorry about that. That’s always been — even though, you know, sort of draft analysis is that there’s a big part of it that goes toward comparables, that’s the one area where I’ve never felt comfortable making comps.
Not a problem. What about maybe a team fit then? Is there a team somewhere in that back of the first round or early in the second that you see his skill set fitting in with?
BILAS: Yeah, I don’t think a player like him would be ill suited for any team. There are only 30 teams in the league, and it’s not like some teams play zone and other teams are going to run flex or stuff like that. They all basically do the same thing. There are different cultures in locker rooms. That’s the difference. But Wagner has got a skill set. Anybody would be happy to have a player like him.
Brandon McCoy is more of a throwback center. How do you see that affecting his draft status?
BILAS: Brandon was probably born 10 years too late. In today’s game he’s more of a low-post back-to-the-basket guy. That’s not to say that you don’t need that at all in the NBA, but it’s not at a premium. So he’s a second-round pick, in my humble opinion. I think he does some very good things. And he’s got a chance to be a good player, but it’s awfully early in his career, and he’s got a long way to go. He, as you know, came out after just one year, and he did very well. He rebounded at a high level. He finishes around the rim and has — you know, has, I think, a good ability to block shots and affect the game, but he’s not a superior athlete. So he’s not the same kind of athlete that a guy like DeAndre Ayton is or some of these other guys at the top of the draft. But he’s not without ability. It’s just going to take him a little bit longer to figure it out.
Do you think he’s going to have to work his way up through the G League?
BILAS: That’s where a lot of guys go, even if they’re a second-round pick or sometimes you can have a late first-round pick that winds up playing in the G League. It happens. So it’s a very good opportunity. Really, it doesn’t matter — what difference does it make when you’re in high school, early on in your high school career if you play JV or varsity when you’re a sophomore; big deal. It’s just a question of getting experience, so if the G League provides him some more experience and some more reps and the ability to be more prepared when it’s time to step onto an NBA roster, then I’m all for it. But you know, with two-way contracts now, there are a lot of opportunities to work your way into the league. And whether Brandon gets drafted or not, because of his size and ability level, he’s going to get a look.
And I was going to ask about Troy Brown. Do you see him sort of a high-risk-high-reward type player? Where do you see him going in the draft?
BILAS: I don’t know that Troy is all that much of a risk. He’s a really good player, and he’s got a lot of talent. I mean the thing that I like best about Troy Brown is his versatility. He can really do everything out there. He’s a very solid passer; another guy that — you know, he knows how to play. He’s skilled. He’s not a spectacular NBA athlete. A lot of times when you say guys are super athletic, you’re talking about, you know, NBA super athletic. You’re not going to be in Troy Brown’s position as a player without being a really good athlete. But then you start comparing him against guys like Russell Westbrook and all that. When you say super athletic, that’s the sort of athleticism you’re talking about, and that’s not what he has. But he’s an above-average defender that should be able to guard multi spots, which is important at that level. And he — I just think his complete game is really attractive, and the fact that he’s still so young and he’s really long armed. He might only stand 6’6, but his wingspan is like 6’9 or 6’10. So with his length and skill set, I don’t see that there’s a down side with him. It’s just a question of how good you think he’s going to be.
Jay, I wanted to ask you about Mitchell Robinson and what do you like about him and what are the concerns of a guy like that who didn’t play at all this past season, sat out and chose to work on the draft?
BILAS: Yeah, Mitchell Robinson is sort of a mystery man in this draft. He’s seven feet tall basically and another guy that’s incredibly long. He’s got one of the longer wingspans of the draft at like 7’4. So he’s a Top 10 talent that may wind up going in the second round because of, you know, sort of concerns that, you know, you haven’t seen him in a while. He’s a bit of an unknown. But with his size, his length, his ability to block shots, how quick he is off the floor, his talent level, somebody’s going to get a steal in him if they wind up taking him in the second round. I know that there are — have been sort of comparisons to could he be like a Clint Capela type player. That’s what it’s going to take for him. He’s really an interesting prospect. His mobility sets him apart because he can run to the rim. You can just throw the ball up to him and he can catch lobs, and he’s got a burst to him with his athleticism level and his size. So, you know, I think there’s a lot of — you’ve got a lot of positives there. It’s just sort of a question of, you know, there are a lot of things you don’t know as well with him not having played at Western Kentucky at all last year.
Jay, you described many reasons to draft Collin Sexton. But what are the question marks that would dissuade you from selecting him and what are the skills you’d like to see him develop long term?
BILAS: Yeah, there are only two things that you would count as concerns with Sexton. One is his shooting. He is not a great shooter, but he’s got a floater, and I think his shooting has improved and will continue to improve. And I think I mentioned — if I didn’t, I apologize — earlier, but one of the things that makes me believe he’s going to be a really good — you know, he’s going to be a good shooter going forward is the fact that he makes his free throws. So he gets fouled at a high rate, and he makes almost 80 percent of his free throws. That’s usually a pretty good sign that your perimeter shooting can improve. Now, that doesn’t mean he’s going to wind up being Steph Curry, but he’s going to improve. And the other concern that you have is he’s not a big guard. He’s only 6’2, 6’2-and-a-half. He’s got long arms. He’s very athletic, but he’s not a super-sized guard. And I think most people would rather have a bigger guard if they had a choice. But in today’s game where it’s not — today’s NBA where it’s not — I think I mentioned this before. It’s not the clutch-and-grab, sort-of-Detroit-Pistons-bad-boys game where nothing was a foul that didn’t draw blood or lose an appendage. It’s not going to be — it won’t be a problem for Sexton, I think, to be a little bit smaller. Smaller guards have made it in the league just fine over the last several years.
Jay, I wanted to ask you about Grayson Allen. You mentioned earlier you thought he’d be gone by the 25th pick, and I think a couple of months ago a lot of the chatter on him was he might be a second-round guy and he seems to have really improved his draft stock lately. What are you hearing from NBA people that makes you think he’s moving up and he’s thought of a little better now than maybe he would have been two months ago?
BILAS: I have no idea what NBA people like about Grayson Allen. I just know what I like. I don’t think he’s going to be there. He can really shoot it. I know he had a workout where a lot of NBA teams were there recently where everybody walked out of there talking about how well he shot the ball. And he’s bigger and stronger than even he was last year. He tested extraordinarily well at the combine athletically. And I think one of the things that I know NBA teams like about him, not only his shooting ability and his range and his ability to consistently hit shots, but he’s not one dimensional. He can pass. And he’s not afraid out there.
There are concerns about him. He’s not — he doesn’t have great lateral quickness. Even though he’s super athletic in a straight line and can really jump, he’s not super adept at staying in front of really quick guards. So his lateral quickness gives you a little bit of pause, but you know, you’re splitting hairs on some of this stuff because he’s going to be a really good player in the NBA. He’ll play a long time.
Jay, thanks for taking the time. Appreciate it. Going back to Josh Okogie. He’s a guy that went under the radar as far as being recruited. How did you see him grow the most over these last two years and do you see him continuing to grow and making it on the NBA level?
BILAS: Oh, he’s definitely going to make it on the NBA level. He’s going to be a first-round draft pick, and he’ll be gone the first 25 selections, I believe. Josh is a bulldog, man. He’s a fighter and a competitor. His profile athletically is unique. He’s got crazy long arms and huge hands. So for a guy that’s only — I mean he’d have to get on his tiptoes to be 6’5, and his wingspan is close to seven feet. So he can really extend. And he needs to improve. He’s a little bit raw offensively, and I think he’ll improve there. But he’s really a talented player that’s going to continue to get better. But he can — you know, he’s aggressive. He gets to the free throw line pretty good in pick-and-roll situations. But he’ll be able to guard people and guard multiple spots and affect the game on defense, and I think he will emerge on offense with his attack mentality. He’s going to be a — he’s got a chance to be a very good player.
Down at Georgia Tech I don’t know how we feel about you calling him a bulldog, but I’m sure he appreciates the rest of that.
BILAS: Yeah, bulldogs aren’t all bad, even in Atlanta.