LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — You start with mid-season chatter from NBA scouts. You move to the mock draft. You advance to the Draft Night blog.
Then you finish the job with the NBA Draft Report Card. Here is mine on the local NBA Draft scene:
PJ Washington, from Kentucky to Charlotte
The Pick: Washington went No. 12 to Charlotte. He was also the fourth sophomore selected, jumping 20-30 spots higher than he would have been taken if Washington had remained in the 2018 Draft. He is slated to make $3.19 million next season and $10 million over the next three seasons. Works for me.
The Fit: Better at small forward than power forward, but Washington is behind Miles Bridges, the Hornets’ top pick last season, and perhaps Nicolas Batum, a veteran with a player option for next season, at small forward.
The Question: This franchise has won one playoff series in the last 17 seasons and could be without its top player, guard Kemba Walker, an unrestricted free agent, next season? As a team president, Michael Jordan is no Red Auerbach.
The Trivia: Washington is the fourth UK player Charlotte has drafted since 2012. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Malik Monk remain on the roster but Charlotte dealt Shai Gilgeous-Alexander to the Clippers on draft day last season.
The Grade: B.
Tyler Herro, from Kentucky to Miami
The Pick: Herro went 13th to the Heat, making one of the biggest climbs of any freshman. Ranked No. 37 nationally by 247Sports as a high school senior, Herro surged past Immanuel Quickley, Louis King, Tre Jones, Keldon Johnson, Quinton Grimes, Romeo Langford, Bol Bol, Nassir Little and others on the ability to shoot and score. His defense in the NCAA Tournament helped.
The Fit: Former Tennessee shooting guard Josh Richardson led the Heat in scoring at nearly 17 points per game last season. Herro will also have to contend with former Syracuse star Dion Waiters. But Miami is rebuilding and Erik Spoelstra has been fine using young guys.
The Question: Can Herro earn some of the minutes Dwyane Wade burned before he retired?
The Trivia: Pictures of Herro in a Heat jersey as a toddler surfaced not long after the selection.
The Grade: A-minus.
Romeo Langford, Indiana to Boston.
The Pick: Nobody bounced around the draft board more relentlessly than Langford. A year ago he was a consensus Top 10 pick. Then he became a pinata. Then he gained. Then he really dropped, dealing with forecasts that had him going as late as the 25th pick. On Thursday afternoon, Jeff Goodman of Stadium had Langford sliding again. Considering the issues Langford had with injuries and his shooting stroke, No. 14 was a reasonable spot.
The Fit: Kyrie Irving is likely gone and Terry Rozier is considering a departure. Although those two are primarily point guards, their departures would leave Boston with Marcus Smart, Gordon Heyward, Jaylen Brown and Brad Wanamaker as their primary wing/backcourt guys before they add free agents. Should be playing time available. Brad Stevens was effusive in his praise of Langford after the pick.
The Question: Can Langford deal with the scrutiny of playing in one of the NBA’s most unforgiving markets?
The Trivia: He’ll have to select a new number. At Indiana, he wore 0, which was retired for Robert Parish. For New Albany High School, Langford wore 1, which was retired for team founder Walter Brown.
The Grade: B-plus.
Keldon Johnson, Kentucky to San Antonio
The Pick: Johnson was on the brink of sliding out of the first round before the Spurs called him with the 29th pick, about 15 spots lower than he was projected in mid-season. Questions about his athleticism and strength contributed to the fall.
The Fit: The Spurs finished with the seven-seed in the Western Conference playoffs on the strength of their backcourt/wings — Bryn Forbes, Derrick White and DeMar DeRozan. They need help in the post Tim Duncan/Tony Parker/Manu Ginobili era.
The Question: How much playing time will Johnson earn from a coach — Gregg Popovich — who has never been gaga about playing rookies? Pop don’t mess around.
The Trivia: The Spurs are one of the few NBA teams without any Kentucky players.
The Grade: C.
Jordan Nwora/Steve Enoch, from Louisville to Louisville.
The Pick: Neither guy was called because they made the sharp decisions to return to U of L for another season. According to my sidekick Eric Crawford, 49 underclassmen went undrafted Thursday. They were possibly Nos. 50 and 51.
The Fit: They’ll look great in the middle of the Cards’ lineup.
The Question: How much can they improve their weaknesses (defense and rebounding for Nwora; two-way post presence for Enoch) to climb in what projects as a more talented 2020 draft?
The Trivia: Nwora and Enoch are in line to be the first NBA picks of the Chris Mack Era at Louisville.
The Grade: A-plus.
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