Well, Thursday was the big night for the NBA and last year’s graduates as the 2018 NBA Draft was held in New York City. And the Big Ten showed up well, having eight players taken in the two-round event.
Here’s a breakdown of each pick.
-No. 4 - Jaren Jackson (Michigan State) - Memphis Grizzlies
The first Big Ten player off the board on Thursday night was Jaren Jackson and it came as no surprise. He had a really productive freshman season for the Michigan State Spartans and most thought his raw athleticism and wingspan would make him a great NBA prospect.
Jackson now joins a Memphis team that has regressed in recent seasons. While the Grizzlies made the playoffs in seven of the last eight years, Memphis was 22-60 overall last season and hasn’t made it out of the first round since 2015. Most will hope that Jackson can improve the team’s defense upfront and give Mike Conley another weapon on the floor.
-No. 12 - Miles Bridges (Michigan State) - Charlotte Hornets
The second Big Ten player off the board was another Spartan. Although most expected Miles Bridges to go pro after his freshman season, he made the stunning decision to return and helped lead Michigan State to the Big Ten regular season title. His unique offensive skill set made him an intriguing prospect at the next level.
While Bridges was technically drafted by the Los Angles Clippers, he was quickly flipped to Charlotte and will now join the Hornets. Bridges will have the challenge of trying to help a franchise that has only made the playoffs twice in the last eight seasons and hasn’t made it past the first round since 2002. It will be tough sledding early on.
-No. 19 - Kevin Huerter (Maryland) - Atlanta Hawks
Many Big Ten fans might not have fully appreciated Kevin Huerter during his two years in the league, but he was a very productive player for the Terps and deserved more national attention. His ability to create his own shot and his range made him an enticing prospect for a league that continues to focus on the perimeter game.
Huerter will now join an Atlanta team that had a plethora of assets in this year’s Draft. This is good news for Hawks fans, as the team missed the Playoffs next season. It will be interesting to see how Huerter can mesh with fellow rookie Trae Young in the backcourt.
-No. 25 - Moritz Wagner (Michigan) - Los Angeles Lakers
After helping lead the Michigan Wolverines to last year’s Final Four, Wagner opted to go pro and take his chances at the next level. Wagner may not have had the athleticism and defensive abilities of some of the major prospects, but his shooting and rebounding made him an attractive option for a number of teams.
The Lakers were, ultimately, the team that took a shot on Wagner, as he ended up making it safely into the first round. Wagner will now join a young team that appears to be trending up. Notably, Los Angeles is also knee deep in the LeBron Sweepstakes, which could drastically change the direction of the franchise. Either way, it’s hard to be disappointed with Wagner’s situation heading into next season.
-No. 43 - Justin Jackson (Maryland) - Orlando Magic
There’s little debating that Justin Jackson had one of the more disappointing calendar years of anyone in last night’s Draft. He opted to return for one more year at Maryland, but ended up being sidelined due to an injury. It was probably the biggest factor in what derailed what figured to be a promising season for the Maryland Terrapins.
But Jackson will now get his chance to get back on track in the NBA with the Magic. And while the Magic haven’t made the playoffs since 2012, fans will hope that Jackson can be part of the movement that gets the team back into the postseason. It’s a relatively young team that continues to add pieces.
-No. 48 - Keita Bates-Diop (Ohio State) - Minnesota Timberwolves
Last season wasn’t just a good one for Keita-Bates Diop. It was a great one that ended up with him winning the Big Ten Player of the Year award. Few could argue it either, as Bates-Diop put up massive numbers and pushed the Ohio State Buckeyes back into the NCAA Tournament and through the first round.
And Bates-Diop will now join a roster that is quickly trending upward. He will join Karl-Anthony Towns and Jimmy Butler in what looks like one of the more exciting teams around the league. Bates-Diop will have to fight for team, but he could very well be playing on a contender at the end of next season.
-No. 51 - Tony Carr (Penn State) - New Orleans Pelicans
After a season that included an NIT championship, Tony Carr opted to declare for the NBA Draft and take his chances at the next level. He was just the second Penn State sophomore to earn first-team All-Big Ten honors and averaged 20.1 points per game.
Carr will now join a Pelicans team that took a major step forward last season and is hoping to take another next season. He will get to play alongside one of the best frontcourts in the league and Anthony Davis. It doesn’t get much better than that.
-No. 52 - Vincent Edwards (Purdue) - Houston Rockets
The final pick for the Big Ten this year was Vincent Edwards. It was a bit of a surprise to see Edwards sneak into the second round, but after a brilliant career with the Purdue Boilermakers, he’s certainly worthy of consideration. He was a huge part in the team’s great run over the last four seasons and will try to replicate that at the next level.
Edwards was initially drafted by the Utah Jazz, but was quickly traded to the Houston Rockets and will now get to join one of the best rosters in the NBA. Playing time will be difficult to get, but he could very well be making plays in the playoffs next season.