By Harry Allison
So, the NBA Draft Combine is in the books, and one of the biggest question is:
Who’s the Donovan Mitchell of this draft?
In other words, an explosive mid-to-late first-rounder whose athleticism, aggressiveness and intelligence displayed in his rookie season make teams who passed on him feel tons of regret.
CBSSports.com thinks it’s
2018 draft prospect: Donte DiVincenzo, PG/SG, Villanova.
DiVincenzo has a 43-inch vertical and is very explosive, and has aggressiveness and basketball IQ and the work ethic to greatly outperform his draft position. He could end up being the best NBA player to ever come from Villanova.
The next question:
Who’s the Joel Embiid of this draft?
AMassive talent whose college injuries impacted his draft position – and could impact the beginning of his NBA career.
2018 draft prospect: Michael Porter Jr., SF, Missouri
The true player comparison with Porter is Jayson Tatum, because the two young men are insanely similar in their styles as natural scorers on the wing. Yet Porter’s situation reminds me more of Embiid’s when he came out of Kansas: The talent was obviously there, and Embiid was considered a potential No. 1 overall pick in a draft that was stacked at the top. Yet ultimately teams passed on him (two teams, much to their later regret) because you didn’t know if he would become the next Hakeem Olajuwon or the next injury-riddled Sam Bowie. In a draft that was weak at the top — say, the 2013 draft, when Anthony Bennett was somehow the No. 1 overall pick — it would be a lot easier for a team to justify taking Porter with the No. 1 overall pick. But this draft is stacked at the top. Can you overrule the medical concerns that derailed Porter’s single collegiate season and take him over potential franchise-changers like DeAndre Ayton, Luka Doncic orMarvin Bagley III? I wouldn’t, even though I know Porter could end up as the best player from this draft.
Who’s the Fred VanVleet of this draft?
Player archetype: Overlooked because of a lack of obvious physical attributes, but a player whose work ethic, tenacity and basketball IQ will secure him a productive spot in the NBA for more than a decade.
2018 draft prospect: Jalen Brunson, PG, Villanova
Why: Brunson will not go undrafted like VanVleet somehow did — if Brunson slips out of the first round then plenty of general managers will have made a big mistake — but I see him as the same type of NBA player as VanVleet: not someone who’ll become a star, but the perfect backup point guard who’ll stay around the league for a very long time. Like VanVleet, he’ll also bring a winning locker room personality to whichever team selects him.
Who’s the Robert Covington of this draft?
Player archetype: Undrafted (or lightly regarded) player from a mid-major school.
2018 draft prospect: Melvin Frazier Jr., F, Tulane
Why: Frazier certainly could get drafted, maybe even late in the first round. But like Covington when he came to the NBA out of Tennessee State, even hardcore college basketball fans would have a tough time identifying Frazier. But NBA scouts know: He’s a long and athletic wing player with a decent shot and excellent defense. In other words, he’s exactly the player who is in demand in today’s NBA.
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