2nd Round Notables:
G – Tyler Ulis
Tyler Ulis may only be 5’9,” but don’t let his height fool you; Ulis can play. As a sophomore at University of Kentucky, Ulis earned SEC Player of the Year behind averages of 17.3 points, 7.0 assists, and 1.5 steals per game. Ulis also finished first in the SEC in win shares (7.1,) win share rate (.221 per 48 minutes,) assists, and offensive rating (128.8.)
A player of Ulis’ height’s transition into the NBA is always difficult due to the increased rim protection and physical attributes of the opposing players and teams, but Ulis was excellent in summer league. He averaged 14.5 points, 6.3 assists, 2.8 steals, and 2.5 rebounds per game. Ulis also hit an incredible buzzer beater shot in Summer League action, and he was named to the All-Summer league team. Serving as the primary back-up point guard to injury prone Eric Bledsoe on a fast paced team like Phoenix, expect things from Ulis early on.
F/C – Deyonta Davis
Deyonta Davis’s slip to the 2nd round was shocking. CBS had Davis going 13th to the Suns, NBADraft.net and ESPN’s Chad Ford had Davis going 10th to Milwaukee, NBA.com had Davis going 11th to Orlando, and just about no mock draft had Davis slipping past 20th overall. Even with Davis’ mediocre freshman season at MSU, Davis still has great size (6’11” and 245 pounds,) potential (19 years old,) and ability in his limited playing time. Despite playing just 18.6 minutes per game, Davis finished 7th in the Big Ten in offensive rebounds (72) and 3rd in blocks (1.8 per game.) Davis had excellent offensive and defensive ratings of 121.4 and 90.9, 3.3 win shares (.204 per 48 minutes,) he shot 59.8% from the field, and had a PER of 23.9.
If Memphis suffers from the same kind of injury problems last season as injury history and the players’ age suggest, then Davis could have a sizable role very soon. Even without the injuries, Davis’ lottery potential and ability to play faster than Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph could get him a bigger role at the start. Everyone is on level playing ground in learning new head coach David Fizdale’s sets as well.
G – Kris Dunn
Kris Dunn was a great college player, and I think he will be a top three player from this draft, but this will not be his year. Dunn is joining a loaded Minnesota Timberwolves team, and he likely won’t be able to carve out a big enough role to make the 1st team with Ricky Rubio and Zach LaVine in the starting line-up, and then Tyus Jones, Shabazz Muhammad, and Brandon Rush off the bench. With all of this talent, and a new President of Basketball Operations notorious for not playing rookie guards in Tom Thibodeau, Dunn will be on the bench slightly more than his lottery selected peers.
Dunn averaged 16.4 points, 6.2 assists, 5.3 rebounds, and 2.5 steals per game last season. He left the college game on a bang; putting his under-dog Providence team on his back against the #1 ranked UNC in the NCAAs last season. Dunn had 29 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 steals on 10/16 shooting in a loss. Dunn then came out on fire in summer league; he averaged 24 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, and a block in a quick two-game stint in Vegas. Dunn’s time will come, but it is not this season.
Realistic potential averages: 16.7 minutes, 5.6 points, 2.4 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 45% FG, 30% 3P
G – Jamal Murray
Jamal Murray is another player I have high expectations for in his career. He averaged 20.1 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 2.1 assists per game as a freshman in a power five conference, which only three players have done since the stats were kept track of. The other two were Carmelo Anthony and Michael Redd. That is very good company to be in for Murray, and it shows his immense talent at such a young age. Murray did this on a very efficient 45.6% from the field and 42.1% from three. Murray could very easily have the most points scored of anyone from this draft.
Denver, however, is loaded with talent and depth across the board. At guard, the Nuggets have Emmanuel Mudiay, Jameer Nelson, Malik Beasley, Will Barton, and Gary Harris. Small forwards Axel Toupane, Wilson Chandler, and Jakarr Sampson will also likely play minutes at guard. Murray is also a below average defensive player at the moment, and that is just less reason for Mike Malone to play him big minutes.
Realistic potential averages: 19.3 minutes, 7.8 points, 2.1 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 43.5% FG, 39% 3P
F – Jaylen Brown
Jaylen Brown was going to be a top ten pick going into draft night, but not too many people expected him to go as high as 3rd overall. I, for one, had Dragan Bender, Buddy Hield, and Kris Dunn all as more likely picks to Boston. I do, however, believe the Brown pick was a good one. Brown, a very raw freshman offensively, managed to average 14.6 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 2.0 assists in just 27.6 minutes per game. He led the Pac 12 in usage percentage (31.2%,) and he finished top-ten in free throws (142,) defensive rating (97.1,) and defensive win shares (1.8.)
Brown isn’t going to get much playing time as the back-ups to Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder, two high level NBA starters, but he will be the primary back up to both of those players. If one of them gets injured, Brown will likely play 30 minutes in whatever games either of them miss. Brown showed some great improvement offensively in Summer League play; he averaged 22.0 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 3.7 steals per game in the last half of his Vegas summer league season. He will get some opportunities this year.
Realistic potential averages: 17.7 minutes, 4.7 points, 4.2 rebounds, 2.1 assists,
F – Marquesse Chriss
I am skeptical about Marquesse Chriss – there is something about him that just strikes one as the type of player who won’t justify his high 8th overall selection. This isn’t fair criticism of Chriss, but everyone gets criticized in the NBA. He still will likely make the 2nd team because of the lack of other options for 2nd team all-NBA. Chriss was impressive for a college freshman, and he had some great outings for Washington over the course of 2015-2016. Chris averaged 13.8 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks in 24.9 minutes per game on 53.0% shooting. That is very efficient play – especially considering Chriss integrated a three point shot into his play, shooting 35% on 2.8 attempts per game. He also was great during the postseason; Chriss averaged 18.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2.0 steals, and 1.0 blocks in 32 minutes per game in the Conference tournament, and he averaged 23.0 points, 7.5 rebounds, 1.5 blocks, and 1.5 steals in 28.5 minutes per game in the NIT.
Chriss’ role on Phoenix this season is a mystery, especially with Chriss and Bender being drafted by the same team in the same draft to play similar positions. Chriss is going to have to compete for power forward minutes with Bender, T.J. Warren, Alex Len, and P.J. Tucker, but Chriss will see about 20 minutes per game or so.
Realistic potential averages: 22.5 minutes, 5.2 points, 4.7 rebounds, 0.5 assists, 46% FG, 32% 3P
C – Thon Maker
Thon Maker is the biggest enigma of this draft. Not many people heard of him before draft night, and those who had didn’t know his age, whst position he will play, or what his role on the Bucks is. What. We do know about Maker, is that his summer league was fairly decent. Maker averaged 14.2 points, 9..6 rebounds, and 1.0 blocks in 30.4 minutes per game this summer – highlighted by his 17 point, 17 rebound, and two block showing against D-League Select.
Maker is someone who will fit in well with Milwaukee. If Maker can shoot three pointers as well as his hoop mixtapes advertise, then he will be a crucial fit along the non-shooters like Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jabari Parker, John Henson, Greg Monroe, and Michael Carter-Williams. On the defensive end, his 7’0″ frame is going to be a nightmare for the opposition – he just needs to stay out of foul trouble.
Realistic potential averages: 8.0 points, 5.5 rebounds, 0.3 assists, 44% FG, 35.5% 3P
G – Denzel Valentine
Dunn and Murray are better long-term professional prospects than Valentine, and their selections of 5th, 7th, and 14th respectively reflect that. Valentine, though is more NBA ready then the others as the four-year college player in the group, and his role is more clear. Valentine figures to be the primary guard off the bench to back-up Rajon Rondo, a player who’s emotions have gotten him into trouble, Dwyane Wade, an aging guard (34) with a growing injury history and declining defense, and Jimmy Butler, a former league leader in minutes who began having stress injuries last season. None of them can shoot three pointers as well as Valentine, and Valentine has showed he can play excellently.
Valentine won AP Player of the Year, Big Ten Player of the Year, and NABC player of the Year. He wasa finalist for multiple other awards, and he led the Big Ten in points (19.2,) assists (7.8,) points produced (20.1,) win shares (7.3,) and win share rate (.284.) Valentine finished in the leader boards on many other categories as well. In summer league, Valentine averaged 11.7 points, 6.7 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 1.6 steals per game. He also hit a big shot to force overtime against Minnesota in the summer league championship. Expect him to be NBA ready.
Realistic potential averages: 23.9 minutes, 9.1 points, 4.3 assists, 3.6 rebounds, 42% FG, 37% 3P
G – Buddy Hield
Buddy Hield had a magnificent senior season at Oklahoma in which he won the Naismith award, the Wooden award, the Sporting News Player of the Year, and the USBWA Player of the Year. Hield averaged 25.0 points per game on 50.1% shooting and 45.7% shooting from three. Hield finished either 1st or 2nd in the NCAA and/or Big Ten in three pointers (147,) win shares (7.6,) three point percentage, free throws (176,) free throw percentage (.880,) points (925,) minutes per game (35.4,) points per game (25.0,) PER (28.2,) usage percentage (30.2%,) points produced (803,) Box plus/minus (11.5,) and win shares per 48 minutes (.232.) On a career and all-time scale, Hield is 1st all-time in the Big 12 in minutes (4182,) points (2291,) points produced per game (15.8,) and offensive box plus/minus (26.6.) Hield is also high up on the leader boards for many other statistical categories.
He is one the best college players of all-time, and his NCAA tournament run only affirmed this fact. Excluding the Villanova game, Hield averaged 29.3 points, 6.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 0.5 blocks, and 0.5 steals per game on 56.7% shooting from the field and 47.5% from three. These games were against high level defenses too. Oregon, VCU, and Texas A&M were all high level defenses with NBA-sized wing players guarding Hield. Yet he made easy work of them. Hield didn’t perform up to expectations at the NBA summer league, but his dominance over high level collegiate teams is much more indicative of success than summer league play. He fits in the Pelicans line-up perfectly alongside Jrue Holiday, Tyreke Evans, and Anthony Davis. Hield is going to get plenty of playing time on this team, whose next best guard off the bench is E’twaan Moore.
Realistic potential averages: 31.8 minutes, 13.7 points. 4.2 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 41% FG, 40% 3P
F – Brandon Ingram
Brandon Ingram showed a lot as a freshman at Duke. He averaged 17.3 points, 6.8 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.4 blocks, and 1.1 steals per game. In conference play, it was 17.4 points, 7.6 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.5 blocks, and 0.8 steals per game. He finished in the top ten in minutes (1246,) field goals (214,) three pointers (80,) defensive rebounds (177,) blocks (49,) points (624,) and points produced (591) in the ACC. In the NCAA tournament, Ingram averaged 23.0 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.3 steals, and 1.0 blocks per game on 45.1% shooting and 37.5% from three. His excellent play in the tournament made many question what was supposedly Ben Simmons‘ lock as the to-be number one overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. His long frame suggests a career as an elite NBA scorer for years to come.
Ingram is going to have to develop first, however, as he needs to add muscle mass as well as fight Luol Deng, Julius Randle, and Larry Nance Jr. for starting forward spots. Ingram will get plenty of minutes, maybe just not a starting role. The Lakers’ best shot at winning games now will be with Deng and Nance Jr. in the starting line-up at the forward spots, the Lakers’ best shot at developing their talent long term, however, will be with Ingram and Randle at the three and four spots. It will be interesting to see how new head coach Luke Walton handles this dilemma.
Realistic potetntial averages: 27.6 minutes, 11.4 points, 4.8 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 43% FG, 35% 3P
F – Ben Simmons
Ben Simmons was handed the keys to the 76ers the minute they drafted him #1 overall this off-season. Unlike with the other draftees, Simmons immediately becomes the best player on his team. His averages of 19.2 points, 11.8 rebounds, and 4.8 assists per game on 56.0% shooting are unparalleled. That is literally true in that no player since 1994 has achieved those per game statistics of Simmons’, and he is doing that as a freshman. He has shown big game potential as well, as Simmons went off for 43 points, 14 rebounds, 7 assists, 5 steals, and 3 blocks on 75% field goal shooting against North Florida, and 36 points, 14 rebounds, 4 assists, a steal and a block on 66.7% shooting against a solid Vanderbilt team.
Simmons took it noticeable easy during summer league, but he still showed off flashy passes many a time – and the court vision and potential for dominance that warranted his high selection. Simmons, however, could have one of three very different roles on Philadelphia. They could either play towards his size and lack of shooting touch and start him at power forward alongside some perimeter players and another big man, they could try to play towards a strength advantage by starting him at small forward, or they could play towards his high level of court vision, as well as giving him a great size advantage, by playing him at point guard. Point guard is the best of the three options because of the vast wealth of young front court talent Philadelphia has, but he will play minutes at just about every position.
Realistic potential averages: 30. 2 minutes, 14.7 points, 6.2 rebounds, 5.5 assists, 47.5% FG, 28% 3P
C – Dragan Bender
Dragan Bender hasn’t really shown many encouraging signs in Europe or Summer League, but the opportunity for him to show them hasn’t been there either. Bender did not receive any legitimate minutes on Maccabi Tel Aviv, and in the Summer league, the Suns played him at small forward – a mistake which led to Bender being forced to take many three pointers: a shot Bender has yet to develop.
At center, however, Bender will be much more able to use his size 7’1″ and 225 pounds and athleticism combination much more advantageously. While he will have to earn a starting front court position over Alex Len or Tyson Chandler, Chandler is now in his 15th season with a lot of wear and tear in his body, and Len has showed enough in the three years since his drafting to merit a starting role. Bender is a better fit for this fast paced team in the present and the future.
Realistic potential averages: 21.1 minutes, 6.6 points, 7.2 rebounds, 0.9 assists, 1.0 blocks, 45% FG