The NBA Draft is Thursday night in Brooklyn. After months of mock drafts, combines, and workouts; there is less than 48 hours until Commissioner Adam Silver takes the podium. It’s where the college game meets the pro game. A ray of hope to fans of bad NBA teams everywhere (Hawks fan here). Specifically for this website, it’s where the G5 conferences (American, Mountain West, Conference USA, MAC, and Sun Belt) meet the NBA.
It could be a big night for the G5, as many as six guys could get drafted, possibly as many as four in the 1st round. A significant increase from 2017 when only a pair of SMU players were selected, Semi Ojeleye and Sterling Brown, both in the 2nd round. This year’s draft will be much more lucrative for the G5 conferences and the AAC in particular.
1. Jacob Evans, Small Forward, Cincinnati
Height: 210 lbs
Strengths: It’s almost cheating to include the two-time national champs Cincinnati Bearcats, but hey they count. Jacob Evans will be the next Bearcat to play at the next level. Evans is your prototypical 3&D wing prospect. He’s an excellent shooter from outside (41%) and has good length to guard the perimeter. Evans is smart with the ball and had nearly 2:1 A/TO ratio last season. He’s also a junior and ready to contribute right away.
Weaknesses: Although he is an above average athlete, he is not much of a creator off the dribble. He’s not an elite athlete and lacks explosion. He’s primarily a catch-and-shoot shooter at this point and has yet to prove he can shoot coming off of screens. There’s questions about his quickness on defense.
Projected: Mid-to-late 1st Round
I’ve seen Jacob Evans selected as high as 18 to the Spurs. 3&D wings are in high demand and Evans takes little seasoning. As long as you can play defense and space the floor on offense you are useful to NBA organizations. Evans looks like a guy that can adapt to any system.
2. Chandler Hutchison, Shooting Guard/Small Forward, Boise State
Weight: 197 lbs
Strengths: Another 3&D wing prospect. I’ll be honest with you, most of the guys on this list are wings. As the NBA drifts further and further into the realm of positionless basketball, lengthy wings that can play multiple positions are in high demand. Chandler Hutchison is a senior which is rare these days, especially in the 1st round where potential determines everything. Hutchison has a 7’1″ wingspan which allows him to finish at the rim and get to the line at a high rates. He was Boise State’s primary scorer and is a good shooter. He’s quick enough to get out in transition and can run the pick and roll effectively. Showed leadership ability the last two years with the Broncos. Good rebounder.
Weaknesses: He’s 22, which is on the older side of NBA prospects. He’s a little too careless with the ball, averaged 3.4 turnovers per game last season. His mid-range and outside shot have room for improvement. Must get used to not being the focal point of the offense at the next level. Will need to beef up a bit so he doesn’t get pushed around by larger 3s and 4s.
Projected: Late 1st round
Number 22 to Chicago seems to be a popular destination for Hutchison in most mock drafts. There is a glut of wing prospects in this draft. As high as the backend of the lottery is conceivable if a franchise falls in love with Hutchison’s length and scoring ability.
3. Melvin Frazier, Small Forward, Tulane
Weight: 198 lbs
Strengths: Frazier is a junior wing out of Tulane. He’s shot up the draft boards after his impressive showing at the NBA combine. His wingspan is a shade under 7’2″ Somewhat of a late bloomer and has improved his shooting and passing during his time at Tulane. True explosiveness that makes him dangerous in transition or slashing to the basket. Even though he’s 22 he still has room to grow.
Weaknesses: Not a great ball handler, struggles in Iso. Struggled as a shooter his freshman and sophomore years. Lacks form on his jump shot. Turnover prone. Not a great feel for the game yet. Tulane was 14-17 so Frazier played in very few meaningful games. Poor FT shooter.
Projected: Late 1st round, early 2nd
There are 10-12 wings that could go in any order in the backend of the 1st round. Frazier’s measurables make him standout. He’s the sort of guy you could see the Spurs take and develop into the next Kahwi Leonard, or worst case scenario the next Danny Green. He’s a bit of a project for a 22 year old, which could drag him down into the top of the 2nd.
4. Shake Milton, Shooting Guard/Point Guard, SMU
Weight: 207 lbs
Strengths: Malik “Shake” Milton out of SMU is a combo guard with size to play the 3. Milton was the primary ball-handler for the Mustangs. At 6’7″ with a 7′ wingspan he’s tall for a ball handler. He’s a good playmaker off the dribble and a smart decision maker. One of the highest +/- in the country. He has a smooth shot and is great at catch and shoot. Good rebounder for a guard. Was seen as the leader of the SMU team, they struggled while he was injured.
Weaknesses: His defensive fundamentals could be better. Below average team defender and struggles on switches. Not an elite passer despite being a good playmaker. Lacks athleticism to get to the rim. Broke a bone in his hand last season.
Projected: Late 1st, early 2nd
5. Landry Shamet, Point Guard, Wichita State
Weight: 189 lbs
Strengths: The junior guard out of Wichita State is one of the best shooters in the draft. Fluid, quick release on his shots. Can shoot off the dribble or catch and shoot. Advanced at running through screens. Very smart player that can both run the point and play off the ball. Good size allows him to be a combo guard at the next level.
Weaknesses: Shamet has a limited frame weakens his ability to finish at the rim. Lacks burst off the dribble. Needs to add bulk to prepare himself for larger, more physical guards in the NBA. Not quick enough to stay in front of guards. Projects to only be at-best an average team defender.
Projected: Top of the 2nd round
He’s an intelligent player, good ball handler, and an elite shooter. He’s going to fit in somewhere at the next level. He has to shoot well enough to make up for his defensive deficiencies if he wants consistent playing time at the next level. I’ve seen him go as high as 27 to the Celtics and as low as 43 to the Nuggets. Consider that his range.
6. Kevin Hervey, Power Forward, UT Arlington
Weight: 212 lbs
Strengths: Hervey’s wingspan is damn near 7’4″ and he has the strength to play the 4. Has a high motor and is a good rebounder. Was the primary scorer for UTA last year at 22.9 PPG. Can score on the block and athletic enough to run the floor in transition.
Weaknesses: Two knee surgeries on both ACLs is the top concern. Decent three point shooter but not great. Low FG% for his size. Doesn’t get a lot of blocks. Turns the ball over too much.
Projected: Late 2nd round
Recently got a shoutout by Kevin O’Connor at The Ringer:
Kevin Hervey was the most intriguing player of the combine. At 6-foot-8 with a 7-foot-4 wingspan, the UT Arlington forward hit spot-up 3s, defended multiple positions, and hit a tough contested jumper off the dribble, which is something he did a lot of in college. Health is a concern—he’s torn both of his ACLs already—but his potential is tantalizing in the late first or early second round, areas where risks can be taken. With Hervey, a team may hit a home run.