Rivals Roundtable: NBA Draft, stock boosters
Rivals recruiting analysts Rob Cassidy, Jamie Shaw and Dan McDonald tackle several topics about college basketball and hoops recruiting.
2023 Rankings: Top 30
1. Who do you think could end up looking like the steal of the 2021 NBA Draft down the road?
McDonald: It’s hard to call the fifth pick in the draft a “steal,” but I can’t believe the Magic were able to get Jalen Suggs at No. 5. As much as I love Cade Cunningham and think he’s going to be special for the Pistons, I could make a really strong argument Suggs could have been a great choice with the top pick. He has great size for a guard, scores it, makes good decisions with the ball, and can be a lockdown defender. I also love his intangibles as a leader and face of a franchise. The Magic were big winners with this pick.
Shaw: Jalen Green. He was the top talent in the draft coming in, having a huge upside in the league. Green has consistently progressed from the time he was a sophomore in high school. He was gifted with incredible natural tools, but when you add in his developed shooting touch, his ability to get open looks for himself in the half court, you see a player who is tailor made to get buckets. Any time you can get the best player anywhere but No. 1, that has to be considered a steal.
Cassidy: Sharife Cooper has certainly looked a lot better than his second-round draft slot in summer league thus far, so I’ll go with him. Seeing him slide to the second round was certainly understandable seeing as his college sample size was just 12 games, but I think that may also signal that there’s tons of upside yet to realize. It might take a year or two, and he will likely never be a bona fide superstar, but I think the Hawks are going to look really smart for taking a flyer on the Auburn Tiger at No. 48 overall.
2. Who do you think will be the top pick in the 2022 NBA Draft?
McDonald: It’s going to be an interesting draft because it appears to be a class where the majority of the top picks will be forwards or centers, so it really comes down to which one of those guys you like most. I personally believe Chet Holmgren needs to be the pick. He has a ridiculous combination of overall athleticism, skill and length. Despite being very thin right now, he has a healthy amount of toughness to him as well. He has star potential in the NBA.
Shaw: Paolo Banchero. He was the top prospect for me in the 2021 class and I have not seen a reason for him to not continue along that path, directly to the NBA draft. Banchero has the physical tools, standing 6-foot-10 and a chiseled 250 pounds. The standout trait for me with Banchero is his vision, his ability to play as an initiator from the 5 position along with his upside as a switchable defender. The versatility is there and his floor is the highest of anyone in the class.
Cassidy: Chet Holmgren isn’t the interesting or sexy answer but his skill set is so rare that I think he’ll be tempting at No. 1. Seven-footers that can handle the ball like Holmgren don’t come around often. Add in the fact that he has range and is an elite shot blocker, and I just don't see a more complete prospect anywhere. He’s not as exciting or athletic as some other options, but it’s mighty hard to pass on a guy that can do it all.
3. Which player not viewed as a future first-rounder right now do you think will play his way onto draft boards this season?
McDonald: Depending on which mock drafts you look at, Johnny Juzang from UCLA appears to be just outside of first-round range in next year’s draft. I’m predicting that the Bruins have another terrific season this year and he’ll play a huge role in that. Given his size and ability to make shots from deep, I think he’ll slide into the back end of the first round at worst.”
Shaw: Moussa Diabate. He has the size, he is listed on Michigan's official website at 6-foot-11 and he carries a 7-foot-2 wing span. However, it is the way he moves that really opens my eyes. Diabate is one of the rare breeds who can act as a rim protector at the back end of a defense or he can switch along the perimeter and move his feet. Diabate will be playing under Juwan Howard, so continued development will be there. His skillset fits the NBA game as it is and there is still some ceiling to be had for him.
Cassidy: Baylor’s Matthew Mayer ended last season on a high note and really seemed to come into his own down the stretch. He has the feel of a guy that turns some heads as a senior and wiggles into the late first round. He has size at 6-foot-9 and can handle the ball relatively well to boot. He’ll see his playing time increase exponentially this season and the stats should come along with that.