There are three prospects still playing in this year’s NCAA tournament that shortly, will have a tough choice to make. Trevon Duval (Duke), Mo Wagner (Michigan) and Zhaire Smith (Texas Tech) are all experiencing the madness we call March. Yet, there seasons will be coming to an end sooner or later as the NBA Draft deadline slowly approaches. Decisions, decisions. Two of these three players should enter the NBA Draft, but which ones?
Trevon Duval – Duke, Point Guard
Although not entirely Westbrookian in athleticism, Duval is a beast in his own right. Playing alongside some serious high usage players at Duke, Duval did not always have the chance to get his own. Despite this, the kid’s measurables scream NBA point guard. He stands at 6’3” with a monster 6’10” wingspan. He has improved as passer and quarterback of the game. Defensively, all the potential is there too. Oh, and he has hops to boot. Check the way he splits the defense against UNC and then rises for a dunk. This is an NBA move, for sure.
Yet, Duval has some flaws. His three point shot isn’t entirely broken but, he still releases on the way down way too often. The mechanics need a summer in the gym. When defenses slag off him it truly limits his game. So, what’s the verdict?
Duke has the top 3 ESPN 100 recruits next year. And guess what, they should all be drafted in the top 7. Not one of them is a point guard, meaning Duval will have another year to start. The team should be uber successful and Duval will not have to worry about exposure. If Duval leaves for this year’s draft, he could potentially be the 5th point guard drafted. Ouch. Next year, he could possibly be the first point guard off the board. Staying won’t hurt his stock, if anything, it will improve it. He could go from a late first round pick to a late lottery pick.
Moritz Wagner – Michigan, Power Forward/Center
Wagner has lit up various NCAA tournaments throughout the years. The dude is a big game player. Still, he does not scream long-term NBA prospect. Despite this, he does have some strengths and his stellar play of late has landed him on some draft boards. For starters, the guy hits 41% of his threes and takes a good amount of them per game. He is crafty around the basketball, has a knack for making plays and owns a good basketball IQ. The game slows down for him on offense.
…but it speeds up for him on defense. Who will Wagner guard on the next level? Nobody. The 6’11” big man is slow-footed and simply put, not an NBA athlete. Sure, he can provide you treys on offense and will make the right pass but, at what cost? In today’s game, defense is a surefire way to keep you on the court, of drag you to the bench. Ask Jah Okafor why he doesn’t get minutes? That being said, he should…
Wagner’s draft stock will never be higher. If he stays another year at Michigan he skills will improve however, his athleticism won’t. Take advantage of the exposure the tourney run is getting you. You’re draft stock will never be higher! It would be a huge risk to return to school…a million dollar risk.
Zhaire Smith – Texas Tech, Wing
Who doesn’t love watching this kid play? Smith and his Raiders are making an incredible run in this year’s tourney, having just knocked off Purdue. So, what’s the scouting report on Smith? The kid is RAW. Still, he has an ideal NBA body. 6’5” with long arms, Smith would be the best athlete in this year’s draft. I thought about adding a gif of his dunk against SFA, but if you haven’t seen it by now then you just don’t deserve to…okay fine, I’ll show it.
Besides elevation, what else is in Smith’s repertoire? Although he has not taken many attempts, his shot from deep looks alright. The guy’s shot isn’t broken but, he just needs more reps. Yet, scouts will question what else he can do besides dunk and maybe shoot the ball. His handle is either underdeveloped or, Smith just does not feel comfortable showing it off yet. Can he create on his own? Signs do not look promising as of now. Regardless, the potential is there and that’s why Smith should…
The Red Raiders keep winning and that means the shine only gets brighter on Smith. Some sights have him listed as a top 20 pick, and this is based off potential alone. Next year’s draft class is brimming with wings (hint, they all go to Duke). If Smith left now, I will officially declare him as my surprise lottery pick. One GM will fall in love with his measurables and roll the dice. Smith should roll them too.