NBA Draft Primer: Three Michigan First-Rounders? Comment Count

Ace June 25th, 2014 at 2:08 PM

Michigan's trio of early entrants will learn their NBA Draft fates tomorrow night, and it appears there's at least a puncher's chance Nik Stauskas, Mitch McGary, and Glenn Robinson III all find their way into the first round. Here are the most recent projections and rumors for the three Wolverines as they await the moment they officially realize their professional dreams.

Nik Stauskas

It doesn't appear Stauskas will fall any further than the #13 pick (Minnesota), and there's a solid chance he cracks the top ten. The Philadelphia 76ers own two lottery picks, at #3 and #10, and Stauskas appears to be an ideal fit for their second selection. CSN Philly states Stauskas would fit the team's needs "perfectly," as they lack shooting, which you may know Stauskas does rather well:

The Sixers are in desperate need of shooters to complement Michael Carter-Williams, Nerlens Noel and whomever they draft with the third pick. Nobody in this draft shoots the ball better than Stauskas. Defenses always have to account for a shooter like Stauskas when he's on the floor. This would open up driving lanes for Carter-Williams and create more room inside for post players like Noel to operate.

Stauskas and Carter-Williams would form a dynamic backcourt. Both have good size and their skill sets complement one another very well. Stauskas is a solid enough ballhandler and decision-maker to play point guard in a pinch. Brett Brown would also have the option of bringing Stauskas off the bench. He would thrive in that role, providing instant offense the minute he enters the game.

The two other prospects who fit that mold and are expected to go in the same range are MSU's Gary Harris and Kentucky's James Young. After pre-draft workouts, Stauskas and Harris have seemingly separated themselves from Young, and Stauskas is consistently projected to go a spot or two above Harris.

A Sixers squad featuring MCW, Stauskas, Thaddeus Young, Nerlens Noel, and the #3 pick could be a really exciting young team to watch.

Mitch McGary

McGary has taken a cautious approach to the pre-draft process as he recovers from back surgery, as he detailed after working out for the Milwaukee Bucks, per UMHoops:

“It’s a little different, my situation with the surgery and everything else going into (the draft),” McGary said. “I thought this was was the best possible outcome for me — having a couple of limited workouts and getting my body back to where it needs to be and have the best chance in the draft. I talked to the assistant GM and the GM and they’re definitely interested in me.”

The Bucks own the #2 pick (not happening) and the first pick of the second round, but it appears they'll have to move up if they want to snag McGary. According to ESPN's draft insider, Chad Ford, there's good reason why McGary hasn't pushed himself through workout after workout:

That's a little higher than the most recent spate of mock drafts had McGary going, but not by much: he was projected to go anywhere from the Miami Heat's pick at #24 (Ford) to the Dallas Mavericks' selection at #34 (CBS's Gary Parrish, who seems to think the marijuana thing will actually matter to the NBA, so... grain of salt) before Ford unveiled the info above.

While the Hornets don't have the NBA's most talented roster, they have some promise in the backcourt (namely PG Kemba Walker), a consistent 20-10 guy in center Al Jefferson, and a big hole at power forward filled last year by Josh McRoberts (an unrestricted free agent) and Cody Zeller. If McGary landed there, he'd have every chance at playing time once he's 100%, and he'd fit in great as an energy guy alongside the older, more polished Jefferson.

Glenn Robinson III

This is where it gets interesting, as nobody seems to have a great idea where GRIII could end up; he's projected to be picked anywhere from #21 by Oklahoma City (NBADraftNet) to the LA Clippers' second-round selection at #39 (Parrish). Most, however, have him right on the edge of the first round; ESPN's Jeff Goodman has him going to the Clippers at #28 overall, while his colleague Ford has Robinson playing for his father's old team after Milwaukee selects him with the first pick of the second round.

The Clippers seem like an ideal landing spot for GRIII. He wouldn't be asked to do too much right away on such a good team, but there could be opportunity for some early minutes at the three if Danny Granger doesn't re-sign after opting out of the final year of his deal, and at the very least Robinson would provide another high-flying fast break threat for Lob City.

Homerism caveat granted, I believe it'll be difficult for a player with Robinson's athleticism, pedigree, and potential to slip out of the first round, especially since most of the teams picking at the back end of the draft can afford to grab a guy who needs some development before being a major contributor. The development of his midrange game during his sophomore season could prove the key to him being the third Michigan first-rounder in this draft.



June 25th, 2014 at 2:17 PM ^

just the sound byte we had three first rounders selected last year, two years ago, etc is huge in assembling a MEGA class...could very well land us at least one blue chip in the next couple years that we wouldnt have gotten otherwise


Space Coyote

June 25th, 2014 at 2:19 PM ^

While McGary provides more rebounding a likely a little better defense, I'd also consider Zeller an "energy" guy. Zeller averaged 16.5 and 8.1 his senior year at Indiana and was always high energy on offense (and a bit of a flopper). He clearly has a little more rounding out required for his NBA game (think he has the offensive skill set, but lacks great athleticism), but that would give the Hornets a nice front court in terms of potential, if not really filling an immediate need (which for McGary's development, may be nice).


June 25th, 2014 at 2:21 PM ^

the Hornets take Nik at 9 and Mitch at 24. GR3 to the Spurs would be awesome. Perfect place for him to develop. 

I would be ecstatic if the Pacers did a sign and trade of Lance Stephenson for Stauskas. The Pacers don't have any three point shooters that get minutes. I do not think there is any chance of this happening.

Ron Utah

June 25th, 2014 at 2:47 PM ^

As a Clippers fan and former season ticket holder, I'd love to see GRIII as the pick.  Adding an athletic wing with shooting range would help the team a lot.  My only question about GRIII is his defense...he certainly has all the tools to be a great defender, but never has been.  If he can add that to his game, there's no reason he couldn't start for a team that got very little production from the SF position when it counted.

Of course, Mitch McGary wouldn't be a bad pick either, especially if DeAndre Jordan gets shipped off in an effort to score LeBron.


June 25th, 2014 at 3:12 PM ^

for anyone this year, especially not a contender.  I'd be impressed if he got more than 10 minutes a game.  It'll take a few years for GR3 to make a real impact, but he could end up being the best player out of the 3 in the end.

McGary would be a much better fit for LAC's immediate needs. He'd thrive passing to Blake and receiving from CP.  LAC doesn't have much frontline depth and  Rivers likes physical PFs.


June 25th, 2014 at 3:08 PM ^

On Stauskas:

  • Many pundits now think the Sixers take a guard with #3. If they go that route there is little chance they take Stauskas at 10 unless they have a MCW deal in place.  FWIW, Exum/Stauskas seems like a better fit than MCW/Stauskas.
  • I wouldn't bet against some team taking Young over Harris or Stauskas, primarily due to age/potential.
  • Best guess: Minnesota at 13.  Top 10 would surprise me.  Ultimately teams will be weary of the defensive concerns.

On McGary:

  • They're making a good effort to bounce back, but Charlotte has been an awful franchise.  I don't see McGary fitting real well around Jefferson, MKG, McRoberts, Zeller.  Those guys all clog the middle and/or aren't significant rim protectors.  Ideally, McGary is beside someone like Bosh or Ibaka or Davis, who can space the floor a bit and let him do the banging inside, without his lack of shot-blocking being a liability.  McGary'd be much better off with a bench role on a winning franchise like OKC, SAS, or Miami.  Let's hope this rumor is BS, but it probably isn't - Charlotte has been transparent historically.
  • I think he's a first round lock.
  • Would anyone be totally shocked if he went in the late teens?  His upside is evident to everyone and he has the potential to help right away as a rebounder and hustle presence.  Someone may leapfrog the transparent Hornets. 
  • Wouldn't shock me if the Bulls took him at 19 to mitigate the impending loss of Boozer or Gibson. He'd fit great beside Rose, Noah (,and Melo?) and has the raw tools to succeed in that defensive scheme.

On Robinson

  • The leaping ability was probably overhyped a bit, but he did register in the top 5 at the draft combine so his athleticism is legit (duh).
  • The buzz has not been strong with him, but it only takes one team to believe.
  • Obviously it'd be great if he landed with San Antonio, but I think he'll ride pine on a contending team like OKC or LAC. He could be better off with a bad team since it would offer him more opportunity to play and assert himself offensively.  The Knicks or Lakers could fit nicely for him, since they'll be terrible next year.
  • Best guess:  Cleveland at 33.  Regardless of what they do with #1 they need 3&D wings and Robinson's high character and unselfishness would help in that lockeroom.  OKC wouldn't shock me at 29 though...they're always patient. 


June 25th, 2014 at 3:09 PM ^

I think that would be a great fit for Mitch and the team, although the Bulls doctors don't have the greatest track record (ask Noah's feet or Deng's spine). He'd be a perfect 3rd big there, Thibs would love the effort and he could fit with either Noah or Gibson moving forward - they're both shot blockers and can guard either the 4 or the 5, and Noah passes about as well as any big man. Thibs has used mostly a 3 big man rotation and if they don't amnesty Boozer I'd be shocked. There are minutes to be had and a city that would appreciate the effort of Big Puppy.

As a Bulls fan, yes please.

Blue In NC

June 25th, 2014 at 3:38 PM ^

Good analysis.  One thing is if a team takes Young over Nik, I believe that will be a colossal mistake.  IMO Nik is going to have a solid (not spectacular) career, probably 8-10 years in the NBA.  He has a skill set that many teams need and will not diminish quickly.  Plus I think he is an underrated passer and ball handler.  Maybe it will click with Young but I think that's a significant gamble at that spot.  He had teammates taking a bunch of pressure and still didn't produce that much.

And I think Mitch has bunches of potential as a pro.  If he can further develop that 15-ft face up shot, he could be a starter for a good while.


June 25th, 2014 at 4:44 PM ^

I think Nik is a really fun player and will have a solid career, but he'll have to be REALLY REALLY good at offense to overcome the D probelms.  I kinda think he'll be "just a shooter" as NBA defenders will prove too tough for him to beat off the dribble. (Note: I said the same crap about Redick and he ended up a pretty good player.)

Compare Young to where Nik was at a year consider he's even younger than that.  He's long, a great athlete and he can shoot pretty well. He gets to the rack without turning it over. I'd take him over either Harris or Stauskas. It's not like being a lefty is a bad thing...

On another note - LaVine has reportedly received a promise at 13, so he may leapfrog Harris and Stauskas as well. 

...I'm starting to worry that Nik is going to end up being the last guy in the green room.  I hope not.

Blue In NC

June 26th, 2014 at 10:18 AM ^

Nik really didn't "beat" many college defenders off the dribble either one on one. He does not need to.  What he did do is use picks to get the advantage and then was a good shooter off the dribble, good passer and strong and athletic enough to never allow the defender to regain the advantage.  Plus defenders cannot cheat because he shoots it too well.  IMO all of those skills will directly translate.  Sure, it will be more difficult and he will not dominate but he doesn't really rely on his athletic advantage to put up numbers.

Young has the potential to develop but IMO you see guys like him every year.  Could be good but once his athletic advantage disappears, he is just an athletic guard that doesn't really shoot or pass al that well.  Young will probably be an okay player and probably has higher upside than Nik but IMO is much more unlikely to achieve that upside.  IMO Nik is likely (after a year or two of developing) to either be a starter or a 6th man, and a solid one at that.

I guess time will tell.


June 26th, 2014 at 10:45 AM ^

Young does seem like the riskier pick.  I just put a lot more stock in defense.  Young should at least be able to do that adequately as a backup.  There's a chance Stauskas goes the way of Fredette, though being taller helps that a bit.

Your assesment of Nik's skills is on point, but I think NBA athletes will be able to recover.  He doesn't possess the same type of skills that Ray Allen has, for example - not that it's fair to compare to a HOFer.

Redick remains the best comp, IMO.  If Nik puts in that same type of effort to get smart defensively he could have a very nice career.

Son of Lloyd Brady

June 25th, 2014 at 3:21 PM ^

That would be huge for recruiting down the line if all three were selected in the 1st round.

Also, here's hoping my nephew (by way of marriage) Shayne Whittington out of WMU gets selected and his broken leg doesn't deter any potential suitors.


June 25th, 2014 at 3:29 PM ^

Ace, I'm not sure that you've heard any chatter about JMo, but in his interviews JB said that if Jordan isn't drafted he's going to be getting calls right away. Do teams see Jordan as a summer league guy? Potential D-League guy? 15th man? What are the odds he gets drafted at #60?


June 25th, 2014 at 8:08 PM ^

I'm shocked no one else is hoping one of the three end up with Trey in Utah.. unless LeBron comes back to Cleveland to fulfill his commitment,watching a team of former Um players is about the only thing that would get me to watch a game.

Oh yeah, or LeBron losing if he decides not to come back


June 25th, 2014 at 10:16 PM ^

I don't know enough about basketball or how the NBA evaluates prospects to make a strong assertion on JMo. However, from a layman's point of view, I would think he has shown enough at the college level (in arguably the nation's most competitive conference) to be picked up as an UFA. Heck, maybe he'll even be a late round choice seeing as he's worked out with at least a few teams. That would be pretty cool to have four players drafted, especially if three go in the first round.

JMo's defensive and rebounding abilities are there, so if he's given a chance to develop more on the offensive end, primarily by adding range to his jump shot, he could possibly turn into a nice role player. He's definitely got the work ethic and character it would take.


June 25th, 2014 at 9:29 PM ^

The draft should be great. I think there are going to be quite a few surprises.

I don't have a fav team, just follow the Michigan guys but I'm really happy Melo left the Knicks for THJ's sake. They also got rid of Felton and Chandler so they are freeing up some money.

I don't get Vonleh getting that much love. I'd rather see Utah take Randle or Gordon.

If I was Cleveland I'd trade out of that first pick now that Embid isn't an option. Or is he?

Cleveland was trying to get Love as of the other day.

I'm rooting for McGary or GRIII to go to SA

It doesn't look like Love is staying in Minny. I hope they don't pick Nik.

I wonder how far Marcus Smart will fall.


June 26th, 2014 at 7:55 AM ^

So. Had they waited one more year... we would have had FOUR first rounders, and all juniors at that. (LeVert). At this point, if top recruits arent screaming to come here, then its the bag men