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NBA Draft Takes

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NBA: Los Angeles Clippers at Los Angeles Lakers Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA Draft is tomorrow, and while most of you are focused on realignment, here are 10 quick takes:

1) Evan Mobley is the most underrated prospect in years- Mobley is the clear No. 1 for me. He won PAC-12 Player of the Year and PAC-12 Defensive Player of the Year. As switching becomes paramount in the NBA, few can defend the perimeter and play inside as effectively.

Mobley needs to add strength. Even if he doesn’t, he’s a defensive monster with some perimeter skills. That makes his bust potential very low, and it gives him an unmatchable ceiling.

2) It’s hard me to be objective about Jared Butler and Davion Mitchell- I’ve gotten to known the pair well over their time at Baylor. I know Jared’s parents and Davion’s uncle. I really like all of them.

So even though I think I’m objective by saying, “Jared Butler has outlier IQ and an unprecedented ability to change speeds,” I recognize that I’m too close to the situation to think I can judge him fairly.

When it comes to Davion, I face the same problem. I think he legitimately has outlier defensive abilities, as evidenced by making Cade Cunningham’s life miserable in the Big 12 Tournament, and that it overwhelms concerns about his age; I know that I could be missing something.

Gun to my head, I’m wondering why the University of Texas wants to destroy more of the Big 12 by killing me. But after that, I’m still betting on the pair.

3) Cade Cunningham won’t bust, but the hype has gotten out of control- I saw Cunningham play in person in Waco and Kansas City. When he’s good, his scoring and height give him a major advantage.

He has warts. His assist to turnover ratio is concerning. Most people explain away his flaws by saying his team wasn’t good, but the Cowboys missed him and their second best player and beat West Virginia in Morgantown. The cast is better than people think.

I can see Cunningham ending up as Khris Middleton. That’s worth a top pick in most drafts, but he has shades of Andrew Wiggins. Cunningham has a higher basketball IQ, but he doesn’t have Wiggin’s level of athleticism. I don’t think he’s Wiggins, but I think he ends up a bit below Middleton. With Mobley in this draft, I think the idea Cade is the clear No. 1 is wrong.

4) I’d take a flyer on Kai Jones- Texas’s big men have tended to outperform their college production in the NBA (though Mo Bamba looks dicey). Jones didn’t shoot much from beyond the arc, and he didn’t get on the court as much, but his length and athleticism are next level, and the pieces didn’t always fit well at Texas. Once you get into the middle of the lottery, I’d prefer his ceiling over some of the “okay, he’s the fifth best player on a decent team” guys.

5) Jalen Suggs is undervalued- Suggs will probably go fourth or lower. He played a ton of football growing up, which leaves room to thin he improves from just playing more basketball. Maybe Gonzaga’s talented roster hid some of his decencies, but I think he brought the best out of that roster and didn’t have to score as much as he could have. His passing and athleticism are incredible. If he improves his shot, he’ll make multiple All-NBA teams.

6) The G League hasn’t paid off yet- Jalen Green will go No. 2 after shooting well and earning rave reviews, but he didn’t overtake Cunningham, and if Mobley had more interest in playing in Houston, I think the Rockets would take him. Kuminga didn’t move up much. Given the G League’s salary doesn’t pay enough to make up the NBA Draft difference, I think most guys will keep going to college, especially with NIL.

7) Ayo Dosunmu is too low- He may be just okay at everything. Without an elite skill, his NBA career could fail to take off. Still, when you look at some of the guys going in the top 25—are you winning a title with Trey Murphy or Sharife Cooper as a top three player—I’d just take a talented point guard on a top program.

8) Luka Garza can’t play in the modern NBA- Despite how good he was offensively, you have to be able to switch or stay mobile and athletic in drop coverage. Garza is an amazing college player. His weight loss since the season ended proves he’s going to do everything to make it. But you can’t be that slow and make it. Unless the rules change to make his style of play acceptable, he won’t last long.

9) I’d gamble on the Kentucky guys late in the draft- The Wildcats couldn’t figure it out, but the back of the draft is usually about trying to cash a lottery ticket. If BJ Boston or someone else just needs a different setting, his recruiting ranking might be more accurate than his work in Lexington.

10) My confidence in my draft takes is lower than usual this year- Even without the bevy of information NBA teams possess, I usually think, “I’ve watched a lot of these guys play and looked at the stats.” But with COVID and an eclectic mix of players, I have fewer strong takes this year. If Mobley busts though, please dunk on me.