Let’s say I’m Sam Presti, general manager of the Oklahoma City Thunder. I have the 29th pick of the draft. Somehow, Shabazz Muhammad has fallen all the way to 29. Despite all the hype he’s received over the past year, I would pass on Muhammad entirely and instead draft one of the players I’m about to mention.
These players would have received a passing grade as having a high probability of NBA success if the scouts viewed them as first-round prospects. I respect the scouts’ opinion, so I didn’t want to lump them in with the first-rounders, but they deserve special mention.
MIKE MUSCALA – 21 years old, C, Bucknell (+4.78)
If I’m a general manager, Muscala is at the top of my list of potential late first-round or early second-round draft steals. His numbers are remarkable in that he’s good at just about everything.
Muscala was efficient on offense, scoring 1.06 points per possession on 21.3 points per 36 minutes. He was an outstanding rebounder, grabbing 12.6 boards per 36. To top it off, he showed solid defensive metrics as well, with 3.3 blocks and steals per 36.
At the same time, there are some concerns about how well those numbers will translate to the NBA. One is that Muscala is on the verge of turning 22 years old, which makes him the oldest prospect in this draft that I think has a good chance of success.
Another is that Muscala played at Bucknell, which doesn’t exactly play against elite competition on a weekly basis. Muscala’s numbers did dip when he played tougher opponents. Overall, Muscala’s numbers were so good that I’d have to take him in the late first round, but there is bust potential as well.
BRANDON DAVIES – 21 years old, C, BYU (+1.26)
Davies is interesting because he’s currently projected to go completely undrafted. He showed good scoring ability for BYU, scoring 21.8 points per 36 minutes, although he wasn’t particularly efficient at 0.99 points per possession.
What Davies also showed was a terrific ability to draw fouls, and solid rebounding ability as well. His 3.0 assists per 36 minutes is a good number for a big man, and his 2.8 steals and blocks per 36, while not great, isn’t something to scoff at either.
Davies is the guy I’d pick if I had a choice in the middle or late second round. At least, of the players likely to be available at that point, he’s the one I think has the best chance of NBA success.
Two other players I think have a decent chance of success are Nate Wolters of South Dakota State and Ray McCallum of Detroit. I initially had both players as having a passing grade, but erroneously had them as 21 years old instead of 22. That one year makes a big difference, and knocks Wolters and McCallum out of the group of players I’ve given a passing grade. Still, they had passed initially for a reason. The talent they’ve shown may be enough to overcome their status as older draft prospects.
Thanks for reading my 2013 NBA draft previews! I’m excited to see how the actual draft unfolds, and will have post-draft commentary on Thursday night. See you then!