NBA Draft: Will the Triangle players succeed?
Posted June 29, 2013
It's been almost 48 hours, but there still aren't a lot of ways to explain what happened at the top of the 2013 NBA Draft. Unfortunately, most of those questions won't be answered for a few months or even years in some cases.
For the four Triangle players taken late in the first and second rounds, the coming weeks of summer-league play will be key.
Plumlee will fill specific need for Nets
Prior to the blockbuster trade that sent Paul Pierce, Jason Terry and Kevin Garnett (combined ages: 102) to the Brooklyn Nets for a collection of draft picks and guys with expiring contracts, Mason Plumlee’s role with his new team may have been up in the air.
But after the deal, and after another look and which teams ends up with which players (or picks), it’s quite clear what the Nets want out of the Duke big man.
They want him to be Kris Humphries.
Well, the on-the-court version of Kris Humphries. Not the....well, you know. The Nets want Plumlee to be the guy who plays 15-20 minutes a night, uses his six available fouls, sets a fair amount of high ball screens and gets his fair share of rebounds and putback buckets.
That’s exactly what Humphries was for the Nets in 2012-13. His season-high of 20 points came in the second to last game of the year against the Wizards, and he quite often didn’t see the court depending on matchups with other teams. He finished the year averaging 5.8 points and 5.6 rebounds per game.
Based on his development at Duke (see what I did there?) and performance during his senior season, there is little doubt Plumlee can match those numbers. In fact, if given the chance, he might better them. Early on, however, Mason will more than likely be used sparingly on a team that will have a fairly formidable starting lineup (Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Pierce, Garnett and Brook Lopez).
More or less, it’s a perfect situation for Plumlee to continue to work on his face-up game and free throw shooting. He won’t be under pressure to produce right away like some of the players taken ahead of him, and he’ll be able to learn from a talented center in Lopez.
Of the Triangle players drafted Thursday night, Plumlee may be in the best situation right out of the gate.
Bullock’s versatility could be great fit in Lob City
There were plenty of eyebrows raised in April when North Carolina junior Reggie Bullock announced he would leave a year of eligibility on the table to take his chances in the NBA. For many, the “he’s not a first-round lock” talking point seemed to be the best reason Bullock should have decided to return to the Tar Heels in 2013-14.
Heck, even his own coach seemed to doubt his Bullock’s prospects. Roy Williams was quite clear about how he felt in a May appearance at a Tar Heel Tour event.
Williams said he was more worried about Bullock’s draft stock than any of the 12 players he’s had leave early for the NBA: “I’m more worried about Reggie than I have been any of those other guys, but gosh, what a great, great kid.”
He went on to recall how he told Bullock, a “youngster,” that going early might not “be the smartest thing to do.”
Umm....about all that.
Not only did Bullock end up at the bottom of the first round (25th overall), which guarantees him some money that many thought he wouldn’t get, he ended up in a pretty good spot for his game. Not. Too. Shabby.
The L.A. Clippers need perimeter shooters, and the wide-open style seems perfect for a player like Bullock, someone who can run the floor and get open looks in transition. It won’t hurt to have one of the NBA’s best points guards -- Wake Forest alum Chris Paul -- trying to get you open looks. If Bullock gets those looks, perhaps he can help the Clippers improve on their 35.8 percent 3-point shooting percentage in 2012-13. He shot better than 43 percent for the Heels a season ago.
Bullock will also provide value to the Clippers because of his ability to defend multiple positions. Los Angeles defended well a season ago, allowing just 94.6 points per game (4th best in the league), but it never hurts to have another versatile athlete who can defend as many as four positions. Los Angeles vice president of basketball operations Gary Sacks said Thursday the Clippers targeted Bullock because of his shooting and his “surprising” ability to defend.
“He takes pride in guarding his man,” Sacks said. “I think he’s really good as a team defender and working within a system.”
Assuming D’Antoni stays, Kelly a good fit for Lakers
On the surface, the Ryan Kelly pick -- even late in the second round at No. 48 -- is a bit of a head scratcher. Kelly played 23 games in his senior season, and his recovery from a second surgery on his foot kept him from taking part in any of the pre-draft workouts.
That said, there two hard-to-miss factors that made Kelly the "best available player" on the of Los Angeles Lakers' draft board moments before his name was called: He's 6-fooot-11 and can flat out shoot the basketball.
Regardless of senior-season production or relative health at the time of the draft, Kelly won't be losing his height or jump shot any time soon. That late in the second round, he's worth the risk. He won't be guaranteed anything, and he'll have the opportunity to shoot his way onto the roster.
Perhaps the key for Kelly moving forward will be the job status of head coach Mike D'Antoni and what ends up happening with center Dwight Howard. If the latter leaves (disregard this sentence if Dwight Howard is already in Houston or Dallas) and the former stays, Kelly will likely fit in well in D'Antoni's system. He can space the floor and draw bigs away from the basket, and when teams sag off to help in the post, Kelly has the skill to make them pay from deep.
Despite missing a good chunk of the regular season a year ago, Kelly made 42 percent of his 3-pointers while averaging almost 13 points per game. In Kelly's unforgettable return to action March 2 against Miami, Kelly poured in 36 points and went 7-of-9 from deep. Several of those 3-pointers came in transition or secondary break situations, when Miami's bigs would sag too far into the post and leave Kelly wide open on the wings. If he can get similar looks for the Lakers, Kelly will find a spot on the roster and have a chance to contribute.
Brown's future uncertain behind Rubio
While the other three Triangle draftees will likely be used to fill specific team needs in Los Angeles and Brooklyn, Lorenzo Brown's future with the Minnesota Timberwolves is a bit more foggy. He's behind Ricky Rubio, an All-Star caliber guard when he's healthy, and he's on a roster that includes other guards with years of NBA experience. Will he be able to get on the court?
First, it would help if Luke Ridnour or J.J. Berea, those two guards with a combined 17 years in the league, got traded. Both saw time at shooting guard a season ago, a spot Brown probably won't play in the NBA, but having one less backcourt player to compete against will help Brown's chances.
From there, a lot of it is going to depend on how Brown performs in summer league games and how – or if – he coexists with Rubio. Perhaps there are chances for the pair to get on the court together. If so, Brown will likely see more minutes.
Minnesota president of basketball operations Flip Saunders called Brown a "first-round talent" Thursday night after the Timberwolves picked him at No. 52 overall. If Brown proves to be that valuable to the T'wolves, he could end up being a trade piece down the road to a team looking for a point guard.
Based on recent history, Brown could end up starting at the point by mid-season due to a Ricky Rubio injury. Time will tell, time will tell.
Where did other ACC players end up?
Based on Twitter reporting in the last 24 hours, here is a quick list of where some of the undrafted ACC players ended up signing free agent contracts. This will be fluid for the next few days, more than likely. If you have additions to this list, find me on Twitter: @DerekMedlin.
Devin Booker (Clemson) -
Seth Curry (Duke) -
Michael Snaer (FSU) -
Mfon Udofia (Ga. Tech) -
James Padgett (Maryland) -
Kenny Kadji (Miami) - Cleveland Cavaliers
Reggie Johnson (Miami) -
Durand Scott (Miami) - San Antonio Spurs
Trey McKinney-Jones (Miami) -
Julian Gamble (Miami) -
Dexter Strickland (UNC) - L.A. Lakers
Scott Wood (NCSU) - L.A. Clippers
Richard Howell (NCSU) - Denver Nuggets
C.J. Leslie (NCSU) - New York Knicks
Jontel Evans (UVa) -
C.J. Harris (Wake Forest) - Denver Nuggets