In addition to our weekly chat, which Chuck Myron facilitates every Wednesday, we have 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:
“I know that Grayson Allen blew up in the final four for Duke and everything, but was he really that highly touted of a prospect coming out of HS, and is he really going to be a lottery pick in 2016?” — Steve A.
Allen wasn’t that highly a ranked prospect entering Duke, with the guard being slotted No. 34 in the RSCI for the freshman class of 2014. So he was projected to be a borderline NBA draft pick when he headed off to college, but as you pointed out, his NCAA tourney performance certainly made him a household name. What’s funny is that he likely wouldn’t have seen the court in March if the team hadn’t have dismissed Rasheed Sulaimon.
As for Allen’s draft prospects, he’s a probable first-rounder if he were to leave school after his sophomore campaign. Allen can certainly shoot it from the outside, which is a skill that is always at a premium around the league. Even more so in today’s NBA. But he also has shown a surprising level of athleticism, which should certainly increase his overall stock. The 2016 NBA draft is being projected as a somewhat weak one overall, so Allen could move up as a result. I’m not ready to label him a lottery pick just yet, nor should most NBA scouts. Allen will have to prove that he was more than just a March wonder, and it remains to be seen what flaws will be exposed when he gets on the court for more than the 9.2 minutes per game he averaged as a freshman. For now, I’ll say he’s a mid-to-late first round prospect who has the opportunity to move up in the rankings as the 2015/16 college season wears on.
“What are the draft prospects for Washington’s Robert Upshaw?” — Paul.
Upshaw is going to be an interesting player to watch on draft night. If he hadn’t been dismissed from school by the Huskies the big man would likely be a lock to go in the middle of the first round, perhaps even higher. His draft combine measurements were rather impressive, and he definitely has the potential to make an impact in the NBA. The big man’s problem is that this year’s draft is loaded with big men, and most come without the character red flags that Upshaw does.
If Upshaw impresses scouts and executives during his pre-draft workouts I can see him going as high as the 12-18 range. Teams will go out on a limb for potential, especially when that potential is encased in a seven foot frame. I like Upshaw’s game, though he’s not going to be NBA-ready his first season. A team that can snag him in the No. 24-30 range should get a steal, but should hand him a D-League jersey immediately since that is where he’ll likely spend the bulk of his rookie campaign.
“Now that Monty Williams has been fired by the Pelicans, who do you see taking over the team next season?“ — John.
I think this is more than likely Tom Thibodeau‘s new job if the Pelicans and Bulls can agree on the compensation. Prior to the end of the season I believed that Thibs would get one more season in Chicago before moving on, but that’s not likely going to be the case now. We’ll know much more next week on this as teams begin to gauge what Chicago wants in return for its coach. Thibodeau has also been mentioned as a candidate to take over the Magic, but the Pelicans are a much better fit for him. I can just imagine Thibs’ head exploding while trying to coach such a young Orlando team on how to play his style of defense.
If not Thibs, I can see New Orleans taking a hard look at Mark Jackson, who would be an interesting fit with the team. Whomever the franchise hires will almost assuredly be the coach the team believes gives them the best chance to retain star big man Anthony Davis. One darkhorse candidate I throw out here is John Calipari. I’m well aware that he’s close to an extension through 2022, but never say never. Eventually he’ll tire of the grind of recruiting and want to erase the sting of his first venture into the NBA. Plus, what better coach to entice Davis to re-sign than his former college one?
“Will the Raptors make a big splash in free agency this offseason?“ — Tim.
If you’re asking me if they will ink a max contract type of free agent, then my answer is probably not. There will certainly be changes in Toronto this offseason, but I think if the franchise is to make a big move it will be via the trade market rather than free agency. Toronto has some cap space to play with this summer with roughly $49,049,074 on the books in guaranteed salary commitments for 2015/16. So the Raptors will likely make a run at a few big name players, but I’m not so sure that max-type free agents see Toronto as a desirable free agent destination. Cold weather teams don’t traditionally do great in this regard, nor are the Raptors seen as a team ready to compete for a championship next season. The higher taxes in Canada also don’t aid the franchise in pursuing free agents. So if you are dreaming of LaMarcus Aldridge or Marc Gasol, I wouldn’t buy a Raptors jersey with either of their names on it just yet. Probably not a real possibility.
That’s all the space I have for this week. As always, thanks for all of the submissions. Please keep them coming! I’ll be back next week with more responses.