B1G basketball is cherished by many a Midwestern household. Teams are known for their stout defense and tough position players. The conference has produced many of the all time greats in NBA history, but the recent history of the B1G has been portrayed by the national (ahem, east coast) media as not being a top tier conference any longer. This past season was an exception to that portrayal, but none the less the conference has struggled to get high level talent into the NBA in recent years. In fact, the B1G is the power conference with the least number of players currently in the NBA.
This year's draft will be no different, with only two real possibilities at first round picks entering the draft. After the jump I will take a comprehensive look at the B1G first round hopefuls.
6'10" Power Forward
JaJuan comes off an impressive senior year at Purdue. He was a consensus first team All-American and was the conferences player of the year and defensive player of the year. He led the B1G in scoring and was by far the most consistent player in the conference. JaJuan bulked up his spindly frame before the season to answer the doubts on his strength, but he will need to do more to become a solid player in the NBA.
His rebounding, strength, perimeter shooting and free throw percentage were all vastly improved during his college career. He is also one of the most athletic big men in the draft. His perceived weaknesses are his lack of eye opening rebounding production, the diversity of his post game moves, difficulty defending the post and lack or strength. These are all major points that he needs to address at the next level.
Johnson is currently projected to go anywhere from the late first round into the early second. He will always have his athleticism to fall back on and his outside shooting is really what is keeping him alive as a first round possibility. If he continues to gradually improve as he did in college and can fill out his frame a bit more, his upside could be immeasurable. Draftexpress has him going to the bobcats in the second round at pick number nine, I personally believe he will be picked in the late first round by the Boston Celtics. Johnson is unfortunetly caught in the middle of a lot of international big man hype, and it has hurt his draft prospects.
6'5" Point Guard
This season was Darius' coming out party at Michigan. He was one of two reasons they were able to make the tournament this year and stay competitive against top teams, like Kansas, all year. He was the ultimate teammate with his B1G leading and Michigan record breaking assist numbers this year. Darius is also very tall for his position in college, and will be able to use that to his advantage at the next level.
His assist numbers were absolutely incredible this past season and it is his by far his greatest strength. At times he tends to force long passes and try to drop some show boat dimes, but in general he is very good with the ball and has a knack for finding open teammates. His shooting numbers need to improve in order to become a real dangerous threat in the NBA.
Morris has some fantastic upside in the next level. He is great with the ball, distributes effectively and is big and quick enough to cover two positions in the NBA on defense. He is also only 20 and if he can improve his shooting could be a very good point guard. Draftexpress has him going in the second round as well to the Sacramento Kings. I also do not agree with this assessment and I believe he would be a great help two spots up to the Miami Heat. The Heat need to get younger and more athletic at point guard and a pure distributor like Morris would hit the ground running in South Beach.