With the 2018 NBA Draft quickly approaching, we figured it would be a good time to check back in on the league and with regard to how some of its players sit heading into Thursday. Fans can watch the NBA Draft on ESPN at eight eastern on Thursday night.
Let’s dive into all of the Big Ten’s major prospects below. For reference, we will be going off of ESPN and NBADraft.net’s latest Draft projections.
-Keita Bates-Diop (Ohio State Buckeyes)
After being named as the Big Ten Player of the Year for the 2017-’18 season, Bates-Diop declared for the NBA Draft and will now take his talents to the next level. It was no surprise to those who followed him over the course of last year.
ESPN currently projects Bates-Diop as the 29th pick and NBADraft.net has him as the 41st pick. Obviously, the takeaway here is that he’s somewhere between a late first rounder and a mid-second rounder. Those picks would put him to Brooklyn and Orlando, respectively.
There’s no debating that this will be a stressful situation for Bates-Diop heading into Thursday night. Second Round picks are not guaranteed deals and often find themselves outside the league just a few years after getting drafted. Buckeye fans will have to hope that Bates-Diop lands in the first round or finds a spot in the second with a team that wants to invest in him for the future.
-Miles Bridges (Michigan State Spartans)
Although it was a surprise to see Bridges come back for his sophomore season at Michigan State, he put up some impressive numbers. And after leading the Spartans to the regular season Big Ten title, he opted to take his talents to the professional level.
ESPN and NBADraft.net currently both have Bridges as the 15th pick in their projections. That would send him to Washington to play alongside Otto Porter and John Wall. The Wizards were the eight seed out of the Eastern Conference in the Playoffs last year.
What’s certainly notable here is that Bridges is sitting right at the edge of Lottery range. That could mean a pretty significant pay bump, if he can be picked 14th or higher. Keep an eye on the Los Angeles Clippers, who have the 12th and 13th picks.
-Tony Carr (Penn State Nittany Lions)
Despite putting up massive numbers in his sophomore season, Carr is still on the outside looking in on many Draft boards. NBADraft.net has him as the 58th pick and there are plenty who think he will end up going undrafted. Unfortunately, there isn’t a whole lot to discuss here. It’s all about whether a team will take a shot on him late on Thursday night.
-Kevin Huerter (Maryland Terrapins)
Although Maryland didn’t have the season that fans hoped to see last year, one player who did get the job done was Huerter. He was a dynamic scoring option from the perimeter that could create for himself. Not only could he shoot from long range, but he also could drive it inside and find open teammates as well.
While Terp fans certainly hoped to see him for at least one more year, Huerter opted to leave school early and is now projected as the 20th pick by ESPN and the 19th pick by NBADraft.net. That would put him to either Atlanta or Minnesota.
Huerter is currently projected in the “tricky” part of the Draft. He’s almost assuredly not going to land in the Lottery, but is a pretty safe bet to go in the first round. The question is whether he ends up on a contender or a bottom feeder. There’s a huge mix in this range, so stay turned on Huerter going into Thursday night.
-Jaren Jackson (Michigan State Spartans)
There is little debating that Jackson is the Big Ten’s best prospect heading into this year’s NBA Draft. He has elite size, athleticism, and an impressive wingspan. Jackson can also shoot from long range, which is a huge bonus in today’s game.
ESPN currently projects Jackson to go third and NBADraft.net has him going fourth. That would slate him to either the Atlanta Hawks or the Memphis Grizzlies. Neither team was anywhere close to making the Playoffs last season.
The reality here for Jackson is pretty simple. He’s going to be taken at the very top of the board. The only question is where he will land between the second and sixth picks. A lot of that comes down to the personal preference of those teams. DeAndre Ayton seems very likely to go first, but there are five guys all pretty close behind him.
-Justin Jackson (Maryland Terrapins)
Like Carr, there isn’t a ton to discuss here. NBADraft.net has Jackson slotted as the 56th pick in the Draft and this will all come down to whether a team takes a shot on him. Either way, he’s going to have to earn a deal through Summer League play.
-Moritz Wagner (Michigan Wolverines)
After a banner season in Ann Arbor and a speculatur postseason performance, Wagner opted to declare for the NBA Draft and take the challenge at the next level. It was expected after he pushed Michigan to a Final Four appearance last season.
However, his Draft projections are more interesting. ESPN has him outside the first round and NBADraft.net projects him 30th to the Atlanta Hawks. Additionally, SBNation also puts Wagner outside of the first round in its own “perfect picks” projection.
Like Bates-Diop, there will be a lot riding on Thursday night. Wagner could find himself playing on a contender with a guaranteed deal next season, or could have to earn a roster spot this summer. Fans will have to wait and see in the coming days.
As for the remaining players, all are expected to go undrafted. This list would include players like Leron Black, Vincent Edwards, Issac Haas, Bryant McIntosh, Duncan Robinson, Corey Sanders, and Jae’Sean Tate. All of these players will have to earn deals through Summer League play and individual workouts.