The NBA Draft has come and gone and several Big 12 basketball players heard their names called. Here is a pick-by-pick grade for those Big 12 players hoping to launch successful NBA careers.
#5: Atlanta Hawks (via Mavericks): Oklahoma G Trae Young
The Steph Curry comparisons just aren’t fair. He’s one of the best players in the world. But the Hawks should get an offensive boost from Young, as they averaged only 103.4 points per game, which was tied for 23rd in the NBA. Problem is, Young will in no way help the team’s perimeter defense, which allowed opponents to shoot 37.7% from three-point range, which was second-worst in the NBA. Also, the Hawks allowed 108.8 points per game, which was also 23rd in the league.
#6: Orlando Magic: Texas C Mo Bamba
Bamba’s 7’10” wingspan and defense will help a team that allowed over 108 points per game, which was in the bottom third of the NBA and the Magic’s 41.6 rebounds per game was 26th of 30 NBA teams. Bamba should help in these areas right away and his untapped offensive potential is unlimited. The Magic did very well here.
#16: Philadelphia 76ers (via Phoenix Suns): Texas Tech F Zhaire Smith
The Sixers continue to “trust the process” and Smith should be a solid plug-and-play rotational player for Philadelphia and can contribute right away off the bench. The Sixers were one of the best rebounding teams in the NBA and are just outside the top 10 in points allowed per game. Smith will only help in these departments, but is not the difference maker between Philly taking down Boston in the East.
#32: Memphis Grizzlies: West Virginia G Jevon Carter
Carter will only strengthen a solid defense and has really good value here in the second round. Memphis was 13th in the NBA in points allowed per game, but their perimeter defense was less than stellar, allowing teams to shoot 36.8% from deep, which ranked 20th in the NBA. Carter will help there immediately off the bench and maybe even provide a little offense when needed.
#34 Charlotte Hornets (via Atlanta Hawks): Kansas G Devonte’ Graham
It’s a feel-good story, as Graham is from North Carolina. He’s a veteran, four-year player at the college level who brings plenty of experience to the next level, which is unusual in the NBA these days. Graham will have a chance to get on the court right away, as the only guard that is signed to the roster is Kemba Walker, who is entering the final year of his contract. Graham will get by on his high basketball IQ and efficiency at the next level, but if Charlotte expects him to be able to replace Walker’s production, that’s a tall ask.
#47 Los Angeles Lakers: Kansas G Svi Mykhailiuk
At this point in the draft, Svi provides far greater upside than downside. In a best-case scenario he’s Kyle Korver, and the downside at No. 47 is fairly limited. The Lakers were the second-worst three-point shooting team in the NBA last season at a 34.5% clip. Svi should be able to help them in that department right away. His negative wingspan (6’8” height vs. 6’5” wingspan) was a deterrent to some teams, but at this point in the draft, you’re probably not finding a superstar and just looking to add value in a specific area, which the Lakers certainly did.
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