Rob Dauster

2017 NBA Draft Preview: Who are the value picks in the late first, early second round?

Leave a comment

Over the course of the last three weeks, we’ve been churning out NBA Draft Prospect Profiles of the best players in this loaded draft for the fellas at Pro Basketball Talk.

You can find them here:

You can also find the latest NBC Sports Mock Draft here.

RELATED: Lottery Busts | First Round Values | Draft Sleepers

Today, we’ll be going through some of the players projected to be picked late in the first round or early in the second round that could end up being a steal.

Harry Giles III, Duke: Everyone knows the story of Harry Giles by now. He was widely considered to be the best prospect in the loaded Class of 2016 throughout much of his high school career, but a trio of knee surgeries left him playing as a shell of himself during his one season at Duke. Now, instead of being a top pick in this draft he’s going to be a roll of the dice towards the end of the first round.

Giles is a gamble. There’s no doubt about that.

But I think that it’s worth whatever risk there is for a team with a mid-to-late first round pick.

Giles never found his groove this past season. No one would tell you otherwise. He wouldn’t tell you otherwise. There are, however, two things that need to be understood when talking about Giles:

(Photo by Lance King/Getty Images)
  1. He never really had a chance to get into shape. His second torn ACL was suffered during the first game of his senior season in high school, back in November of 2015. By the time that he was finally ready to return to the floor following surgery to repair that injury, he underwent a arthroscopic procedure in his other knee, one that kept him off the court until the middle of December. By the time that he finally returned to action, he had been forced to sit out for 14 months only to immediately be thrust into the fold with less than two weeks to get into shape for a run through the ACC? That’s a big ask, and it was clear for much of the year that Giles didn’t have the legs or the wind that he needed to truly compete at that level.
  2. At this point in his career, Giles has never really had an opportunity to develop his basketball skill. He tore the ACL, the MCL and the meniscus in his left knee in the summer after his freshman season, and lost that summer and his entire sophomore year. By the time he returned to the floor the following summer, he was trying to get into shape for a run through that live period and to get into shape for his junior season. The summer after his junior year, Giles was utterly dominant. He looked every bit the part of a future franchise player, and then his knees gave out on him again. In other words, Giles still showed some flashes of having the physical tools that made him so promising, but he has spent so much time focusing on rehabbing and getting into shape during offseasons that he’s yet to have the chance to learn how to be a basketball player.

Giles is far from a lock, and at the end of the day, a team’s doctors are going to be the ones that decide whether or not he is worth the pick; can his knees hold up over the course of an 82 game season?

At some point, that potential reward is going to outweigh the risk of Giles already being broken. Maybe he already is Greg Oden, and he’ll probably never end up being Chris Webber or Amare Stoudamire like we thought. But if you can get a rich man’s Leon Powe or a poor man’s Tristan Thompson in the 20s, isn’t it worth it? If you’re paying a dollar for a lottery ticket, do you want to play Powerball or but a scratch-off?

D.J. Wilson, Michigan: I’ve long been on the D.J. Wilson bandwagon, and the rest of the basketball world has caught up. From a tools perspective, Wilson is everything that NBA teams are looking for these days. He’s a 6-foot-11 forward with a 7-foot-3 wingspan that made 37 percent of his threes and blocked 1.5 shots per night. Rim protection and floor-spacing. That’s what everyone wants in a player.

But what makes Wilson an intriguing prospect for me is that he’s more than just a spot-up shooter. He has a really nice base of perimeter skills. He has some impressive footwork and is a more dextrous, fluid athlete than you may realize. He’s also something of a blank canvas. He grew three inches late in his high school career, he spent much of his high school and college career battling injuries and he only just cracked the Michigan rotation as a redshirt sophomore. Put another way, he’s greener than a typical 21-year old prospect would be. There’s still room to grow.

And he needs to do some growing. He’s still pretty soft when he’s asked to battle inside — he averaged fewer rebounds than both Markelle Fultz and Lonzo Ball — and blocking a couple shots in the Big Ten is far different than blocking shots in the NBA. No prospect is perfect at the end of the first round, but Wilson is precisely the kind of project that can be built into something valuable.

Semi Ojeleye (Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Semi Ojeleye, SMU: Ojeleye is as close to a finished product as you’ll find in this draft. After spending a year-and-a-half riding the bench for Duke, he transferred to SMU where he erupted to average 18.2 points while shooting 42 percent from three on more than five attempts per game. He did all of this while playing the four for the Mustangs. Should I mention that he’s 6-foot-7 and 241 pounds of solid muscle with a 40.5″ vertical and the kind of burst that let him finish near the top of the participants in this year’s NBA combine in lane agility and the 3/4 court sprint?

Ojeleye has all the tools to be a mismatch four in the NBA, the kind of player that can slide over and play the three when needed while filling in as a small-ball five when needed. If he was more productive defensively — he has low steal, block and rebounding numbers — or had a monstrous wingspan to make up for his relative lack of height, we’d be talking about him as a lottery pick. He’s my favorite late-first round pick in this draft.

Josh Hart, Villanova: On paper, Josh Hart looks like precisely the guy to follow in Malcolm Brogdon’s footsteps next season: four-year college star turned second round steal. On the one hand, it makes sense. They’re roughly the same size, they put up roughly the same numbers, they played for one of the sport’s best coaches who would grace the cover of NCAA GQ. On the other hand, the comparison makes no sense. Brogdon thrived in the NBA because he’s essentially a point guard that played out of position in college. Hart, on the other hand, entered Villanova as something of an undersized four that has turned himself into an NBA-caliber perimeter player.

The two situations are very different. But Hart is an experienced, versatile wing that can make threes, has developed his ability in the pick-and-roll and will play his tail off defensively. There’s a spot for him in the league, just don’t bet on him winning Rookie of the Year.

Derrick White (Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Derrick White, Colorado: Derrick White’s story is incredible. If it was the plot of a movie it would be slightly more believable than Space Jam. As a high school senior, White is a sub-6-foot point guard that was gifted an offer to play for a Division II program in Colorado because the coach that was recruiting him to an NAIA school — the only coach recruiting him — got a bigger job. Fast forward five years and White has since grown to 6-foot-5 with a 6-foot-8 wingspan and a 36.5″ vertical that can play, and defend, either guard spot.

This isn’t just some feel good story, either. White averaged 18.3 points and 4.3 assists while shooting 40 percent from three as the star of a Colorado team that finished in the middle of the pack in the Pac-12. He’s legit, and he is probably going to be a first round pick on Thursday night.

Jordan Bell, Oregon: If, back in October, you would have told me that the first Oregon player to get drafted in 2017 would be Jordan Bell, Dana Altman’s undersized, 6-foot-7 center, I would have laughed at you. But after his performance this season — which included a run to the Final Four where he looked like the second-coming of Ben Wallace — Bell has turned himself into a guy that could sneak into the back end of the first round. He’s short but he is a mesmerizing athlete his a 7-foot wingspan that protects the rim and will be a nightmare switching pick-and-rolls.

Kyle Kuzma (Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Kyle Kuzma, Utah: Kuzma has been rocketing up NBA Draft boards in recent weeks, as he has all the skills that NBA teams look for out of a power forward in the modern NBA. He is nearly 6-foot-10 with a wingspan above 7-feet. He’s a plus-athlete that has proven to be an above-average passer for the four-spot. He played four years for Larry Krystkowiak, who has proven to be capable of identifying and developing talent that requires his guys to defend. The key for Kuzma’s longterm potential, however, is going to be becoming a knock-down three-point shooter. He shot just 32.1 percent from three as a redshirt junior, and that was his best season shooting the ball.

Sterling Brown, SMU: Brown is 6-foot-5 with a 6-foot-10 wingspan that, at 225 pounds, is quick enough to defend on the perimeter and tough enough to guard bigger players in the paint all while shooting 45 percent from three. The younger brother of former first round pick Shannon Brown, Sterling has all the attributes that you look for in a 3-and-D guy.

Former college coach Chris Craig sentenced to 60 days in jail for school bomb threat

Utah County Sheriff's Office
2 Comments

Chris Craig, a former Division I assistant coach that played collegiately at UTEP, has been sentenced to 60 days in jail stemming from an incident in September of 2016 when he threatened to blow up an elementary school.

In the incident, Craig, who had been referring to himself as “the Radical Islamic Jihadist Muhammad Allah Al-Khidr”, entered Eagle Valley Elementary School in Utah in a ski-mask and threatened to blow up the school if the children weren’t evacuated. That led to a three hour standoff with police, after which he was booked on charges of interference with an arresting officer, failure to disclose identity, disruption of operation of a school and disorderly conduct, all misdemeanors. He was also charged with threat of terrorism, a second-degree felony.

Craig has been in jail since his arrest and will spend 60 more days in jail before being released. From the Salt Lake Tribune:

Judge Roger Griffin ordered Craig, who has been incarcerated since his arrest in September, to spend 60 more days in the Utah County jail before being released on what Griffin called a “zero-tolerance probation” for the next five years, during which time he will be required to receive treatment for the mental illness doctors, families and lawyers believe caused the once promising basketball coach to act out as a religious fanatic in recent years.

Craig is believed to suffer from schizophrenia as well as bi-polar disorder.

The incident at Eagle Valley was not the first time that Craig had run afoul of the law. In 2013, he was arrested for making terroristic threats in two different states and a year later was arrested after driving a car onto an elementary school playground. He was profiled by Sports Illustrated in 2014.

VIDEO: Mixtape for UCLA freshman Kris Wilkes

Leave a comment

Kris Wilkes is one of UCLA’s incoming five-star freshmen. Here is a look at what he can do and what Bruin fans are so excited about him.

Milwaukee tabs Northwestern assistant Pat Baldwin as new head coach

Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Northwestern assistant coach Pat Baldwin has been hired by Milwaukee to replace the recently-departed Lavall Jordan, a source told NBC Sports.

Jordan replaced Chris Holtmann at Butler. Holtmann was hired to take over for Thad Matta at Ohio State.

Baldwin was given a five-year deal, according to ESPN. He has spent the last four seasons on Chris Collins’ staff at Northwestern, helping the program get to their first NCAA tournament last season and sit as a projected top 25 team heading into next season. He was in the mix to take over Milwaukee last year, when Jordan was hired.

This will be Baldwin’s first head coaching job. He has been an assistant at Green Bay, Loyola Chicago, and Missouri State.

CBT Podcast: Louisville’s NCAA penalty and the Ohio State, Butler coaching changes

Joe Robbins/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Rob Dauster was joined today by Jeff Greer of the Louisville Courier-Journal to discuss the sanctions handed down by the NCAA last week while Brian Snow of Scout.com hopped on the pod to discuss the changes in leadership made at both Ohio State and Butler.

Powell sorry for Louisville fallout, says ordeal ‘worth it’

Leave a comment

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Katina Powell said Saturday that she is “so sorry” about the fallout of the sex scandal that resulted in sanctions against Louisville’s basketball program, but added that her experience was “worth surviving.”

In her 2015 book, “Breaking Cardinal Rules: Basketball and the Escort Queen,” Powell alleged that former Cardinals staffer Andre McGee hired her and other dancers to strip and have sex with recruits and players. Several investigations followed, including one by the NCAA that resulted in a decision Thursday to suspend coach Rick Pitino and levy other penalties against Louisville. The NCAA described the activities as “repugnant.”

Powell reiterated that money was her sole motivation for writing the book during a nearly hour-long Facebook Live interview on Saturday with comedian Jason English that was later removed. She said she has dealt with depression since the scandal, but added that everything “was very well worth it.” She’s even been approached about a possible movie and a second book.

“It was worth putting food on the table,” she said. “It was worth me driving what I drive. It was worth me living the way I live.”

Louisville plans to appeal NCAA sanctions that include Pitino’s suspension for five Atlantic Coast Conference games and a 10-year show-cause order for McGee. Powell wrote that McGee paid her $10,000 for 22 shows from 2010-14 in Louisville’s Billy Minardi Hall dormitory.

The governing body also placed Louisville on four years’ probation and ordered the vacation of victories in which ineligible players participated. Players deemed ineligible would be those involved in the sex parties, which are considered impermissible benefits.

Compliance consultant Chuck Smrt estimated that as many as 108 regular season games and 15 NCAA Tournament games are in question, including Louisville’s 2013 national championship and 2012 Final Four appearance. The NCAA accepted Louisville’s self-imposed ban from the 2016 postseason.

During the Facebook Live interview, Powell said she held no grudge with the school, but added that “they knew what it was going in.”

“At the end of the day I have to live with what I did, the decision that I made,” she added.