As day three of the NBA draft combine comes to a close, updates are still coming in from reporters stationed in Chicago for the event, which runs through Sunday. We covered the news from the first part of the day in this post, and we'll round up additional items here:
One year ago, Alabama forward Tony Mitchell left school early to enter the NBA, and went undrafted. Now, the North Texas forward with the same name intends to declare his intent and hope for a better result. According to Jeff Goodman of CBSSports.com, Mitchell is expected to announce today at a news conference that he'll enter this June's draft.
Mitchell, 20, seemed to take a step back during his sophomore season at North Texas. After posting 14.7 PPG and 10.3 RPG, along with .567/.439/.739 shooting in his freshman year, he averaged just 13.0 PPG, 8.5 RPG, and .440/.300/.675 shooting this season.
Despite a disappointing year for Mitchell and North Texas (12-20), NBA executives still expect the 6'8" forward to be selected late in the first round this June, according to Goodman. That seems to match up with prospects lists by Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress.com and ESPN.com's Chad Ford, who rank Mitchell 26th and 30th, respectively.
With a number of NCAA teams having finished their respective seasons now, and another handful to be eliminated from March Madness later this week, we should see plenty of underclassmen declare their intent to enter this year's draft over the next several weeks.
Jeff Goodman of CBSSports.com surveyed 35 NBA executives, most of whom said they'd rather trade the No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 draft than select from a thoroughly disappointing crop of prospects that lacks a franchise-changer like last year's No. 1, Anthony Davis (Twitter link). One GM called the field, "The worst I've ever seen."
"I'd trade the pick for sure," another GM said. "No one wants to pick first this year -- and no one can live up to the No. 1 billing."
Goodman compares the draft class to 2006, when Andrea Bargnani was taken first overall and Adam Morrison, Shelden Williams and Tyrus Thomas were also top-five picks. No prospect among this year's bunch was favored by a majority of the executives Goodman polled, though Indiana center Cody Zeller garnered 31% of the vote. Kentucky's Nerlens Noel was second, with 23%.
Zeller's defensive shortcomings worry the executives, while Noel's offense and skinny frame similarly concern them. UCLA two-guard Shabazz Muhammad, the DraftExpress.com No. 1 prospect, tied for third in Goodman's poll amid doubts about his shooting and athleticism. Maryland center Alex Len, who tallied 11% of the vote just like Muhammad, has shot up draft boards thanks to the weight he added this summer, Goodman writes.
Others garnering votes as the No. 1 pick include Alex Poythress, Rudy Gobert, Tony Mitchell, Archie Goodwin and Anthony Bennett, though many of the executives say they wouldn't be surprised if someone emerges "out of nowhere," much like Andrew Bogut did in 2005.
Earlier today, I asked Hoops Rumors readers whether Spurs coach Gregg Popovich was in the wrong for sending his star players home before last night's game against the Heat. Over 83% of respondents so far have sided with Popovich rather than with commissioner David Stern, who called Pop's decision "unacceptable." Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports agrees with you in his take on the subject, calling Stern's statement a "temper tantrum that left everyone around him embarrassed, humiliated and wondering why he insisted on staying until February of 2014."
Here are a few more odds and ends from around the NBA as we prepare for the weekend:
With just two nights left in the 2011/12 regular season, the draft lottery waters are still fairly murky. While the Bobcats and Wizards are locked in with the league's worst and second-worst records, six teams have between 21 and 23 wins. Games like tonight's Wizards/Cavaliers matchup and tomorrow's Nets/Raptors contest will go a long way to clearing up the lottery picture, with tiebreaking coin flips coming on Friday. Until then, be sure to check out our tentative draft order and our breakdown of just how the lottery works.
Here are today's draft-related items:
The NCAA underclassmen who have entered the NBA draft receive more attention and will make up a majority of the first round, but a number of international players have been making themselves eligible for the draft as well. Today's draft updates from Jonathon Givony of DraftExpress.com (via Twitter) focus on those international names....
North Texas power forward Tony Mitchell is "almost certainly" going pro, reports Jonathan Givony of Draft Express (via Twitter). The move comes on the heels of LSU hiring North Texas coach Johnny Jones to take over its program. Givony says Mitchell may reconsider if North Texas hires one of Jones' assistants, but calls a change of heart unlikely.
The 6'9", 220-pound Mitchell is ranked No. 26 on the Draft Express list of the top 100 prospects. The site projected him to go eighth in the 2013 draft and NBADraft.net has him at No. 7 if he stays in for one more year, so coming out early may adversely affect his draft position. Nonetheless, he could still wind up as a first-round selection, putting him in line for a guaranteed contract.
Mitchell was one of the top players coming out of high school in 2010, but academic issues cost him the entire 2010/11 season. This year, he put up 14.7 PPG, 10.3 RPG and 3.0 blocks per game for the Mean Green, who compete in the Sun Belt Conference.
In what's somewhat of a surprising decision being that he was projected to be a first round pick, North Texas freshman Tony Mitchell will return to school, according to the Denton Record-Chronicle's Brett Vito. Mitchell averaged 14.7 PPG, 10.3 RPG and was named the Sun Belt Conference's Freshman of the Year.
According to Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski, sources say Vanderbilt junior John Jenkins and Villanova junior Dominic Cheek will soon declare for the draft, but Duke junior Mason Plumlee will go back to school.
Jenkins averaged 19.9 PPG on 43.9% shooting from beyond the arc last season and is projected to be an early second round pick. Cheek put up averages of 12.5 PPG and 3.9 RPG. In a separate report, Steve Wiseman of The Herald Sun writes that Plumlee still has not decided whether or not he'll enter the draft. Plumlee has until April 29th to make a decision.