BOZICH | Final NBA Draft projections for Louisville, Kentucky, Indiana players
What are the final projections for Chinanu Onuaku, Jamal Murray, Skal Labissiere, Tyler Ulis, Yogi Ferrell and other local players for the 2016 NBA Draft Thursday night?
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- I hope you enjoyed all three days of the NBA off-season. Next season has arrived. It's time for the NBA Draft.
At least four and (hyper optimistically) as many as eight players with ties to Kentucky, Louisville and Indiana could be selected Thursday during the 2016 NBA Draft, which begins at 7 p.m. (on ESPN) at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.
As always, I have talked to scouts from across the league. Here is my compiled scouting reports and projections on how the draft will unfold for the eight guys, in order of their likely selections.
The consensus is Louisiana State forward Ben Simmons will be taken first by Philadelphia. Then the Lakers will summon Duke freshman Brandon Ingram.
"Then the draft will begin at pick number three," one scout said. "Good luck figuring it out from there."
Let's try from a local perspective
Jamal Murray, Kentucky – fifth to Minnesota or sixth to New Orleans.
Scout's take: "I really like him. He's a terrific shooter. He'll have a nice career. But is he the first overall pick, like (UK coach John) Calipari has been pushing? Not even close. That's just Cal. He could sell ice at the North Pole.
"Murray could be very good, but he still has to prove that he can play the point guard position against better athletes. That’s not a guarantee. But shooting is always at a premium and he can really shoot."
Skal Labissiere, Kentucky – 15th to Boston or 16th to Denver.
The best guess is that he will be drafted by a team that has multiple picks in the first round because Labissiere's lack of production at UK last winter makes him a gamble. Scouts are concerned that he did not play in the games at the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago last month and that his only workouts with teams have been one-on-none. Labissiere did not participate in traditional three-on-three scrimmages.
Scout’s take: "He could be taken anywhere from 14-to-40. I think he's all over the place. Some people are still interested in him. Some people have written him off.
"His workouts are designed to fool you. It's one on none. We all know he can run and jump.
"I mean, c'mon. Everything changes when you play against defense. You know that. I've watched a lot of guys go in a gym and shoot lights out. Then the game starts and they can't find the basket. The game is five on five.
"That's why he's all over the board. You've got to remember there are 30 teams. Everybody doesn't think alike. Everyone always thinks they know something about some kid that no one else knows or very few know. We'll see who really likes him when they have to call his name."
Tyler Ulis, Kentucky – Philadelphia (which has picks 24 and 26)
Ulis' has slipped several spots on multiple mock drafts because of questions about his size (only 149 pounds) and a hip issue. Some have bumped him out of the first round. But most scouts still project him late in the first round because of his dazzling quickness and leadership skills.
Scout's take: "I think Ulis can go anywhere from 22 to 35. Is the hip an issue? Yes, a little bit. As long as he can stay healthy he'll have a long productive career in the NBA.
"Kentucky wasn't the same team when he wasn't out there. Scouts noticed that. They know what he meant to that team. Calipari believed in that kid and knew he was the answer, the coach on the floor. He was an extension of himself. Any question about the kid playing on the big stage has been answered."
Chinanu Onuaku, Louisville – Boston with picks 31 or 35 or Milwaukee with picks 36 or 38.
Onuaku could move into the end of the first round but questions about his offensive game and the minor heart issue that surfaced at the Draft Combine have pushed him into the second round in many mock drafts.
Scout's take: "He's a second round pick, a nice second-round pick. Could he go in the first round? Maybe late. I like him. I like his toughness and the way he plays. I like the way he changed to shooting free throws underhanded. That showed confidence.
"He can run the floor and block shots.
"Is the heart thing an issue? To some teams, yes."
Alex Poythress, Kentucky -- Utah at 52.
Scout's take: "The word is that he's had a lot of very good workouts. He shot the ball well. He ran the floor well. He defended well. He outworked a lot of people. Of course, he has a great physique.
"There's a possibility that he could have an upside and break into the rotation, be in the top eight or nine as a defender, an off the bench defender. He'll learn how to hit his shot and how to play a role.
"He could be 50 to 60. You're looking at a role player. You're looking at a guy who is going to play 10, 12, 16, 18 minutes, if he is really playing well. Those guys are hard to come by and they're important to have.
"In today's NBA if you are a high level role player, you can have a helluva career and make a lot of money. He's never going to be a main man. He's never going to be in the first three options."
Yogi Ferrell, Indiana – Memphis No. 57
Ferrell has also helped himself with a string of solid workouts. His overall conditioning and particularly his upper body strength have impressed scouts. He's likely to start in the Developmental League, like many undersized guards.
Scout's take: "He's a 50-to-60 pick or somebody who could be undrafted. He's had some excellent workouts.
"The word is out that he's had some very, very good workouts. He's already said if you're late in the second round you're better of to go to the team you want to go to.
"Shot it well. Handled it well. Made intelligent decisions. He showed his speed. He's smart, solid. I think he's undervalued."
Troy Williams, Indiana – undrafted.
Scout's take: "Won't get drafted. He made a mistake. Believe me he was told not to come out. Has a lot to work on with his decision-making and defense. He should have gone back to Indiana and tried to play way into the first round next season. And he was told that."
Damion Lee, Louisville – undrafted.
Scout’s take: "I like him. I come down on the side that he has a chance. I think he's a legitimate second round pick. I thought he had a very good year. He's a question mark, but a legitimate second-round talent. Can shoot it but just not quite good enough athletically to get drafted."
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