After a tumultuous career at Michigan State, Keith Appling has finally graduated and declared for the NBA draft. A high volume scorer in high school, Appling was asked to defer to more prolific offensive players like Kalin Lucas,Draymond Green, and later in his career, Gary Harris. While Appling was an uncomfortable fit at times, he showed defensive skill and good decision-making in fast break opportunities.
Which NBA team would be the best fit for Appling? If drafted, he'll be a late second round pick. More than likely, he'll have to try out for a team in Summer League.
1. Phoenix: The Suns would be a good place for Appling to try out. A distributing point guard like Appling in Phoenix's fast paced offense would fit well, and he would also allow the Suns to play Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe at the shooting guard position more, something they experimented with at times last year.
2. Washington: Behind John Wall, the Wizards have the fourth oldest player in the NBA in Andre Miller. Washington is built to run and utilize Wall's speed and has to slow down to keep up with the older Miller. Appling could come in and spell Wall, especially surrounded by shooters like Bradley Beal and Trevor Ariza stretching the floor. Miller's also used as a good off-ball defender, a role Appling has the skill set to fill.
3. Detroit: Detroit made a sizable commitment to the point guard position, signing free agent Brandon Jennings last off-season. However, backup point guard and point of fan contention Will Bynum is a free agent this offseason, leaving unproven Peyton Siva as the only other point guard on the team. Appling played his best at MSU when big men Derrick Nix and Adriean Payne were patrolling the paint. A situation with Greg Monroe/Josh Smith and Andre Drummond banging down low would lend well to Appling's abilities.
4. Minnesota: The Timberwolves already have a team set up to highlight a point guard that has limited shooting ability in Ricky Rubio. While Appling shot the best he had at MSU in the first half of the season, a wrist injury hampered him tremendously. Backup point guard JJ Barea is approaching his mid-30s. Appling could be a less expensive option for the second team.
5. Toronto: With Kyle Lowry entering free agency, the point guard position for the Raptors is very much up in the air. Raptors GM Masai Udrji has said resigning Lowry is the team's number one target. With that being said, they have no answer for backup point guard. Udrji also said that they're targeting a player who will play tough, rugged defense while keeping pace with an up-tempo offense. While they likely won't have to draft Appling, he certaintly fits the mold.