INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 11: Draymond Green #23 of the Michigan State Spartans reacts in the second half against the Purdue Boilermakers during the quarterfinals of the 2011 Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament at Conseco Fieldhouse on March 11, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Michigan State won 74-56. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
It feels like it has been a decade of Big Ten basketball...seeing Robbie Hummel and Draymond Green wreak havoc on opponents. Although it obviously hasn’t been THAT long, those two along with many other players have competed in their final game as a member of the Big Ten community. A select few get the chance of playing at the next level in the NBA, and there are five seniors who have a chance to this time around.
Adam Silver, the voice of the second round of the NBA draft, announced the names of four Big Ten players last June. Prior to that, only one player from the Big Ten Conference (Goran Suton) was selected in the second round between 2008-2010.
The second round is where the ends of rotations are filled and where no name players get chosen and have a chance to make a name for themselves. Beside the considerable amount of Big Ten players last year, the second round featured success stories of Chandler Parsons, Lavoy Allen, and Isaiah Thomas.
Thomas, among many others in the past, prove that talent can be found in the second round. In the first round, teams look for players with a combination of a ton of talents. The second round is hinged on how players can do a certain attribute extremely well. Thomas understands the role of the point guard and finds holes in opportunities for easy buckets. Allen has an array of post moves that allowed him to make it at the next level. Parsons showed at Florida that he has a deadly three-point shot, which allowed the Houston Rockets to take a flyer on the forward.
If you hone your talents, you can succeed at the next level. So, which (if any) of these Big Ten players will be drafted and contribute in the NBA?
Draymond Green, 6’7" Senior, Michigan State
Born leader. Fills a stat sheet. Fan favorite. Draymond Green. In four seasons in East Lansing, Green went from a chubby forward who showed little to no quickness to a completely changed man. He progressed each and every season at Michigan State and showed the ability to play any position on the court.
Outlook: What’s there to say about Draymond Green that hasn’t already been said about the man? He’s unique. He can do it all on the hardwood; he possesses an extremely high basketball IQ and court vision for a player who is 6’8" and weighs about 240 pounds. Green is able to put the ball on the floor and take it to the lane with ease. The ability to drive along with the vision to pass to any point on the court will allow ‘The Dancing Bear’ to have a career in the NBA.
Prediction: The Miami Heat just won the NBA title. As the team basks in the glory of winning a championship, it has to be known that Miami has a lot of older pieces on its squad. While Shane Battier showed to be huge in the NBA Finals, Green could be a reliable substitute to Battier and do similar things. Also, Green can take reps at playing the point forward at times. He is the perfect pick for the Heat. Green can play instantly and add to Miami’s success without skipping a beat. The Heat have pick 27 in the first round…Green won’t fall past Miami.
William Buford, 6’5" Senior, Ohio State
It seems like Ohio State always has a bona fide shooter or two each and every season. Buford epitomized that in Thad Motta’s system for years. After Evan Turner left to turn pro, the program turned to Buford and others to grab the torch and lead the Buckeyes to a Big Ten Championship. While he has won at Ohio State, Buford hasn’t impressed many. There is huge concern for the digression of Buford. His stats leveled off after his sophomore year as a Buckeye and his percentages went down dramatically this past season. He was supposed to be the leader of the regime for Motta along with Sullinger, but Buford was highly inconsistent at times.
Outlook: Buford has really shadowed the game of former Buckeye Daequan Cook. Both are 6’5" players from the state of Ohio that really play unselfish basketball and wait for their shot to come to them. That is something that is appreciated in the NBA. The range that Buford possesses is also similar to Cook. A flaw in Buford’s game is his lack of driving to the lane and battle for shots.
Prediction: Cook was drafted 21st overall and has had a pretty good career so far by coming off the bench for the Oklahoma City Thunder. While Buford’s name won’t be called nearly that early, he should be able to drafted in the second round. The Knicks are looking to add pieces at all positions, including more guards to come off the bench and score in bunches quickly. I have Buford being selected 48th by the New York Knicks.
Robbie Hummel, 6’8" Senior, Purdue
A few years ago, Hummel seemed to be heading to a first round selection in the NBA draft. Then, the Boilermakers traveled to the Twin Cities to face the Golden Gophers. As I personally witnessed that game, I watched a legit first rounder lose it all in an instant as he crumbled to the floor with a torn ACL. Not even a year later, he tore his ACL a second time. And, even though he played extremely well this past season with career highs in points and rebounds, his field goal percentage dropped.
Outlook: While it was hard to see at Purdue that Hummel can be physical inside and play the part of power forward, it’s totally true. The upper body strength and total quickness allows Hummel to play almost every position on the floor, just like Green. Two torn ACLs won’t help Hummel’s draft stock whatsoever. Even with all the good parts of Hummel’s game to mention, it may not be enough.
Prediction: I have gone back and forth on whether Hummel will get drafted on Thursday. He has the talent and can do almost everything on the court. Yet, the injury concerns is a huge deal. The NBA has learned its lesson over the past decade to stay away from injury-ridden players. On the same account that Sullinger is likely to fall down in the first round on Thursday, Hummel will not get drafted.
(Dear Purdue fans that hawk this blog, I promise to never bring up Hummel’s injury ever again. You have my word.)
John Shurna, 6’8" Senior, Northwestern
When I think of Northwestern, I think of the great color of purple, the best journalism school in the country, and John Shurna. Shurna scored over 2,000 career points in his four years as a Wildcat. He has a solid three-point percentage and knows how to play defense. While his years at Northwestern won’t be forgotten, it’s hard to see Shurna getting drafted.
Outlook: Could Shurna be this year’s Parsons? While the shot is similar and deadly, Shurna lacks the overall athleticism that Parsons possesses. Shurna excelled in an offense that was very stagnate and relied on jumpshots. Usually, that isn’t the case in the NBA. The lack of strength and athleticism hinders any chance of Shurna playing in the NBA.
Prediction: Come Thursday, don’t expect Shurna to hear his name called. That does not mean he won’t play professional basketball. Shurna is the type of player that can easily go overseas to Europe and play well. I expect him to do so.
Jordan Taylor, 6’2" Senior, University of Wisconsin
Perhaps the forgotten Big Ten member in the NBA draft, Taylor has flown under the radar since the season ended for Wisconsin. Taylor was an early favorite to be an first-team All-American as a senior point guard in the 2011-2012 season. Taylor fell slightly short of expectations in his senior year as a Badger, but he has definitely accumulated enough in four years to have a chance to be a second round pick on Thursday.
Outlook: The complete physicality and knowledge of the point guard position should allow Taylor to get some draft workouts. Combine that with his basketball IQ and fine shooting abilities, and there is a thought that Taylor could be a late second round pick and stick in the NBA. On the other hand, the Wisconsin guard is undersized in today’s NBA and lacks the overall quickness to manage the NBA floor.
Prediction: If I was a general manager in the NBA, I would take a chance on Taylor in the late second round. But…obviously, I don’t have that job and it seems likely that Taylor won’t hear his name called on Thursday night. Taylor should find a job in the D-League or overseas as many talented players do. The D-League fits him better, and the Badger could start in a league lacking in point guards.