With the 2014 NBA Draft on the horizon, we decided to have a few of our writers sit down and express some thoughts on where they thought the Big Ten prospects stood this year. Here is the chat:
1. In most mock drafts, many writers, pundits, and experts alike have Indiana’s Noah Vonleh being the 1st player from the Big Ten Conference being selected. Michigan’s Nik Stauskas Michigan State’s Gary Harris, meanwhile, have been the second and third players respectively taken in these mock drafts. So the question is, in your mind, what guard from the state of Michigan will be the first to fly off the board in the upcoming draft?
Christopher Novak - I’m going to take a wild guess and say that it’s going to be Stauskas. His style may be better suited for the teams that re drafting higher and while I think the state of Michigan will be represented with three lottery picks (Payne joining the mix) I can see a scenario where Stauskas winds up in either Charlotte or Minnesota.
Thomas Beindit - This is a tough call. It’s always tough to predict where someone will get drafted just for the fact that it only takes 1 team to screw everything up. Just look at last year with Anthony Bennett. There was no way he was the #1 pick, but Cleveland still took him there. For me, I think Stauskas is the better prospect, so I think he gets snagged first. Plus, for anybody that’s seen him warmup live, it’s hard to imagine him not doing extremely well in a workout. His shooting is just plain unbelievable.
Nick Moyle - I'm really torn on this. Philadelphia at No. 10 would be a great landing place for either player, playing alongside Michael Carter-Williams in an uber-talented, uber-young backcourt. I could even see Charlotte at No. 9 (thankfully back in their rightful Hornets gear) snagging one of the two to pair with Kemba Walker in a backcourt stacked with exceptional young talent. Beyond that, Denver, with the No. 11 pick would be a likely destination to snag either Stauskas or Harris. Stauskas has supposedly had some electric workouts, but I think scouts are still a bit higher on Gary Harris overall. It could go either way at this point, but I'm going to say Stauskas will go first, as he's been the more hyped name in the weeks leading up to the draft.
2. We’ve all seen in the past that NBA Drafts have had no shortage of surprises. What Big Ten player do you think has a chance to be selected highly that few are talking about at the moment?
Christopher Novak - Adreian Payne seems to be gaining a lot of momentum over the last few weeks so he’s a guy that may not be discussed heavily right now, but somebody who could be taken pretty highly in the lottery portion of the Draft.
Thomas Beindit - The prospect that I believe is going to move up the most in this draft is Glenn Robinson III. He was fantastic at the NBA Combine and I feel confident in saying that I believe he locked up a 1st Round selection with his performance. Maybe I’m wrong, but I think somebody is going to buy into GR3’s high ceiling and potential and snag him higher up.
Nick Moyle - Mitch McGary's name has been spoken only in whispers leading up to this draft, and with good reason. A back injury has raised some serious concerns among scouts. However, I believe a very good team in need of some serious backup big help will take a flyer on McGary late in the first round. If Shabazz Napier isn't around when the Heat pick at No. 26 (a player they covet) I could see Miami taking McGary in an effort to add some much needed toughness and big man help for the aging Bosh and Birdman (that is, if Bosh returns). After the Heat, the Clippers would be a likely candidate at No. 28. Most have McGary slipping into the second round, but should his back hold up to medical evaluation, he should be a no doubt first round pick.
3. To rebound off of that question, what Big Ten prospect do you think will see himself "fall" on draft day?
Christopher Novak - Depending on how you view it, Vonleh, I think, could see a bit of a tumble. Most have him going in the Top 5 right now but a guy like Julius Randle or Aaron Gordon could gain steam coming into this final week. So because of that, Vonleh may not wind up being a Top 5 pic. He still should be able to be picked in the Top 10 though.
Thomas Beindit - This depends a lot on how you evaluated the prospects before hand, but I think the guy that’s going to fall the most based on earlier projections is LaQuinton Ross. Mitch McGary is another candidate for a drop, but I’m going to lean with Ross here for two reasons. First, Ross was not exactly impressive at the Combine and I definitely think it hurt his status. Second, Ross is living on a fine line. Prospects in the 2nd Round can easily go from drafted to undrafted in the blink of an eye. I’m not sure Ross will go undrafted, but it would be a big fall for a player that jumped pro early.
Nick Moyle - Glenn Robinson III is a name that has gained a lot of traction recently. Some have him cracking the Top-20, but I would be surprised to see him go that high. GR3 is an athletic specimen that has shown brief, albeit brilliant, flashes of offensive excellence. He is more suited to be a role player, which is still a great find, but this draft just has so much talent at the forward position that I believe more proven, reliable college players will be selected ahead of Robinson. He'll be a late first or early-second rounder.
4. Indiana’s Victor Oladipo and Michigan’s Trey Burke nearly took home Rookie of the Year honors this past season. Does the Big Ten have an opportunity to make a big splash in this year’s rookie class?
Christopher Novak - The field may be a bit too loaded this time around. With players like Jabari Parker, Andrew Wiggins, Julius Randle and Dante Exum, those players may gain more notoriety from the get go than the players from the Big Ten. That said, it’s a wide open race as always and there’s no guarantees to be made in June. I think it’s probable that a player from the conference makes a run at the ROTY award, but not likely.
Thomas Beindit - Will be the Big Ten make the type of splash like last year? Probably not. This Draft class is simply better. Even though this is a great Big Ten Draft class, when you’re talking about guys like Embiid, Parker, and Wiggins, there are already a bunch of top notch candidates. However, I think there are several candidates that could turn into starters and strong contributors down the line including Harris, McGary, Stauskas, and Vonleh. In the long run, that’s more important for the conference than All-NBA Rookie team memberships.
Nick Moyle - I would be shocked if any Big Ten player took home Rookie of the Year hardware. This draft is simply too loaded with rookies who will be asked to immediately shoulder huge burdens on their respective teams -- Jabari Parker, Andrew Wiggins, Dante Exum are a few of the likely culprits. I don’t foresee any Big Ten players having the amount of playing time, statistical success and overall team success to win the ROY this season. I would, however, be shocked if one or two did not make the All-Rookie First and Second teams. Vonleh is going to be a Top-8 pick at least, but he’s still very much a work in progress and I expect his future team to take things a bit slower with Vonleh than they would with say, Julius Randle or Aaron Gordon.
5. Finally, make your prediction about how many players from the Big Ten will be drafted.
Christopher Novak - I’m going to take a stab and say nine.
Thomas Beindit - Funny you should ask. I did a massive breakdown on the class a few weeks ago and I feel pretty good about picking 8 selections.
Nick Moyle - Seven. Vonleh, Harris, Stauskas, Payne, Robinson III and McGary are the definites. Aaron Craft and LaQuinton Ross are going to be cutting it very close in my opinion. Craft has worked out for nine teams so far, Ross 10. Teams are clearly interested in what they have to sell, they’re just unsure of whether to buy in the draft or wait to get a look at them in the Summer League, the final proving ground for NBA hopefuls. My gut tells me someone will take a chance on Craft late in the second round simply because of his collegiate reputation. Ross will find himself on some NBA teams summer squad next month, trying to fight his way into the league.