In addition to our weekly chat, which Chuck Myron facilitates every Wednesday, we have added a second opportunity for you to hit us up with your questions in this, our weekly mailbag feature. Have a question regarding player movement, the salary cap, or the NBA draft? Drop me a line at [email protected] or @EddieScarito on Twitter. Now for this week’s inquiries:
“What players helped their draft stock the most with their NCAA tournament performances?” — Matthew
While I don’t think the tournament impacts where players are selected quite as much as the pre-draft workouts do, a standout performance can definitely get a player’s name on the lips of scouts and GMs around the league. With that in mind, the players who I think helped their draft value the most were Sam Dekker (Wisconsin), Jakob Poeltl (Utah),and Karl-Anthony Towns (Kentucky).
Dekker really opened a number of eyes around the league with his 21.7 points and 5.5 rebounds per game during March Madness. He has also shown that he can play the stretch four role, which is a position that is continuing to grow in importance in today’s NBA. Dekker may have vaulted himself from being a late first round selection to hearing his name called in the late teens.
Poeltl showed a nice inside presence in his work against Jahlil Okafor of Duke during Utah’s tournament loss to the Blue Devils. Poeltl answered a number of questions with that game, and if he decides to leave school he’ll be off the board by pick No. 20. He’s a player who should probably return to school for another season though, since his post game is about as refined as mine is right now. If Poeltl continues to develop he could be a lottery pick in 2016.
As for Towns, he was already going to be a top three selection, so he hasn’t jumped all that far. He has been held back statistically by Kentucky’s platoon system and ridiculous depth this season, but in the tournament he’s really getting a chance to shine. He may have vaulted over Okafor for the top pick already. Once individual workouts begin his athleticism is likely to boost his stock even further. I’d say he’s probably going to end up going No. 1 overall at this point thanks to his late season production.
“If you were an NBA GM with the first overall draft pick…who would you take in June?” — Connor
The answer to that depends on which team I was selecting for. Roster composition is important, and if I were selecting for the Sixers for instance, I would focus on selecting a guard since they already have Joel Embiid and Nerlens Noel. But if I have to make a choice I would take Towns with the top overall pick. Selecting Okafor wouldn’t be a bad move by any means, but I firmly believe that Towns’ ceiling is much higher than Okafor’s as a two-way player in the NBA.
“Does Al Jefferson opt out of his deal this summer?” — Hank
That’s a tough one to call. Jefferson is 30-years-old, and has a ton of mileage on his legs. He will have to weigh the security of opting out and signing a long-term deal against risking injury next season to try and cash in on the 2016 cap increase money that will be out there. If Charlotte were a playoff team instead of struggling mightily this season, the chances of Jefferson opting in would be much greater than they are. The seriousness of his right knee injury could also play a big part in his decision. I’d say right now that the big man will likely opt out and test the market this summer.
“Where does Rajon Rondo end up playing next season?” — Lukas
I’ll say right off the bat that I don’t believe it will be in Dallas. Rondo hasn’t been a great fit there on the court, nor with coach Rick Carlisle. This will likely be the 29-year-old’s last chance at a big contract, unless he decides to ink a one-year deal with the hope of cashing in on the salary cap increase in 2016. So he’ll likely be shooting for a maximum salary deal this summer, which many around the league, and myself, don’t believe that he is worth. But desperation can do funny things to NBA GMs, and franchises like the Knicks and Lakers, who will have plenty of cap space this offseason, just may bite the bullet and pay Rondo what he wants. If I had to pick where Rondo will end up, I’ll go with the Lakers.
That’s all for this week. Thanks for continuing to fill up my inbox with all of your submissions. Please keep them coming! I’ll be back next week with more thoughts, opinions, and answers…