12 days until we get our first look at a lot of the top prospects! Let’s take a look at some questions for this upcoming season:
- How will Hamidou Diallo’s jumper look? He has been practicing with the Kentucky team since the spring semester, which hopefully means he has had time to improve upon arguably his biggest question mark: shooting. He is a freak athlete, and if he has a passable jumper, his shot creation and ability to get to the basket will become significantly better.
- Is Marvin Bagley III as good as advertised? His jump shot is likely his biggest weakness, but will he be able to put together his elite tools and make them work in-game versus such a high talent level? He has A+ athleticism and frame, and if he can put all his tools together he has a great chance of becoming the #1 overall pick in June.
- Is Collin Sexton a point guard or shooting guard offensively? Collin Sexton has the build of a point guard with the playing style of a shooting guard. Sexton is 6’2 with a 6’7 wingspan, and excels in isolation situations. He can play with his head down at times, which is not a trait you want from a point guard. He will get his baskets, but may not always integrate teammates into the offense. Doing so would greatly boost his stock, and he has a great chance to do so with NBA talent around him in John Petty, Donta Hall, and maybe even Braxton Key.
- Can Moritz Wagner be a first round talent? Wagner had a very nice year at Michigan last year, shooting the 3 at a high clip and showing some athleticism on his drives. Wagner fits the role of the rising stretch 5 and is able to compete in other areas as well. He has a very safe floor, especially if his shot falls. A shooting big man from Germany is always attractive in Dallas.
- Can Austin Wiley have a breakthrough season? I wrote about Austin Wiley’s FIBA performance over the summer, where he played very well on the glass and down low on defense. He had a limited year in an early arrival at Auburn, and has a great chance to put himself on the radar.
- Is Chemezie Metu a first round talent? Metu had a great NCAA tournament run, where he showed off his mid range scoring ability and excellent speed for a guy his size. He is one of the most inconsistent returning college players in this draft, but when he is on he looks like a late first round talent. Eliminating inconsistencies would go a long way for him. The Mavs likely own their 2018 2nd round pick, which means if Metu falls to the early second round, and the Mavs do not select a center with their first pick, Metu may become a realistic option.
7. Will Rawle Alkins take a step forward? He had a really nice freshman year and Arizona added some incredible talent. Alkins used a lot of drive-and-kicks last season, and with more talent around him, he may be able to see a rise in assists. His ball handling is good, but not great for a secondary ball handler. Two big weaknesses of his that I gathered from last season are that he has a low release point and that he uses strength too much to bully opponents. While I have low expectations for his release point on his jump shot to be fixed, I do believe he can beat defenders with more finesse more often.
8. Can Mikal Bridges perform at an elite level of shooting again? Mikal Bridges shot the 3 pointer at a high percentage and also shot 90% from the line on limited attempts. If he can get to the line more and keep a high percentage, he may lock himself into a mid/late first round selection. He has incredibly long arms and excellent defensive traits, making him a prime 3&D candidate. You can read my scouting report of him here.
9. Who will pull ahead of the other: Mohammed Bamba or DeAndre Ayton? Both are heavily considered the best big men in the draft. Will Bamba’s length and rim protection elevate him above Ayton’s athleticism and length? These two will be near the top of my watch list, as the Mavs are likely to be in on a big man this upcoming summer.
10. Which mid-major players will break through and enter first round discussion? Depth in a draft class often doesn’t become visible until about halfway during the season, or even towards the end of the season. We know that the top of this class is unbelievably strong, but what about the other end? Some guys I have pegged as mid-major threats are Kevin Hervey (PF, UT-Arlington), Tyler Hall (wing, Montana St), Jaylen Adams (PG, St. Bonaventure), and Jordon Varnado (F, Troy).
11. Can Justin Jackson live up to the hype? Justin Jackson of Maryland was one of the NBA combine standouts in May, posting an incredible 7’3 wingspan and playing well in the scrimmages. If he plays like he did in the scrimmages, he will without a doubt be a first rounder.
12. How much will Joel Barry’s hand injury impact his draft stock? In case you haven’t heard, Berry broke his hand after losing in a video game. Theo Pinson will get some run at point guard, as will former top recruit Seventh Woods. Maybe Raymond Felton’s nephew, Jalek Felton, could have a run at point guard as well. Felton is a dynamic playmaker.