With the NBA draft just a few days away, how are things looking for Duke’s candidates?
Let’s run it down.
- Jayson Tatum: He’s a highly desired pick in this draft. Tatum has a mature offensive game, he rebounds really well for a smallish forward and he understands how to work within an offense. He’s not the most athletic guy in the draft, but as important as it is, it’s not everything. Guys like Larry Bird and Magic Johnson proved it a long time ago.
- Luke Kennard: Kennard has made up a lot of ground in the last couple of weeks. He’s a deadly shooter, he’s completely ambidextrous, and his basketball IQ is off the charts. He may be a Top Ten pick if things break his way. Everyone can use a deadeye shooter.
- Harry Giles: In some ways the most intriguing player of the draft. Knee injuries limited him at Duke but in recent workouts he’s reportedly dramatically better. Some team will shy away with his injury history and interestingly he’s seen as a pick for Portland at #20. The Blazers have a history with balky big men though: Bill Walton, Sam Bowie and Greg Oden were all drafted by Portland and all had spectacular injury histories. Come to think of it, we don’t want them to draft Giles either.
- Frank Jackson: Generally seen as Duke’s lowest draft pick, Jackson has hovered around the end of the first and the beginning of the second. He had foot surgery which obviously limited his workouts.
- Amile Jefferson and Matt Jones: if you love college basketball you have to love both of these guys because they were wonderful college players. It’s going to break a lot tougher to crack the NBA and neither one is likely to be drafted. We could make an argument for Jefferson more easily. He developed into a tremendous rebounder and defender at Duke and those skills, especially rebounding, are always in demand. It’s a tougher path for Jones though. We’d never put anything past him though. He’s a smart, resourceful player and he’s at least a D-League player who, like Lance Thomas, could work his way up. But we see him as a future coach and the sooner he gets started the faster he’ll rise.