Grant Nelson

Draft Notes: Strawther, Bagley, LeDee, Flanigan, Nelson, Gaines

Gonzaga forward Julian Strawther has decided to remain in the draft, Jeff Goodman of Stadium tweets. Strawther averaged 15.2 points and shot 41 percent from beyond the arc last season. He’s ranked No. 56 on ESPN’s Best Available list, making him a potential second round pick.

Arizona’s Marcus Bagley – the younger brother of Pistons big man Marvin Bagley III – has also decided to remain in the draft despite appearing in just five games over the last two seasons, CBS Sports’ Jon Rothstein tweets.

Several other players who declared for the draft have opted to remove their names as the withdrawal deadline for early entrants nears. Here are some of the players who are headed back to school:

Central Notes: Pacers, Pistons, Duren, Cavs

Indiana will be hosting six prospects on Friday for the team’s first pre-draft workout, the Pacers announced in a press release.

The six players are UConn’s Andre Jackson, UCLA’s Jaime Jaquez, Missouri’s Kobe Brown, Creighton’s Arthur Kaluma, North Dakota State’s Grant Nelson, and Liutauras Lelevicius, a Lithuanian prospect who played for Zalgris II this past season.

Jackson (30), Jaquez (32), Brown (43), Kaluma (90), and Nelson (94) all appear on ESPN’s top-100 prospects list, while Lelevicius is unranked. The Pacers control their own lottery pick, two late first-rounders (26th and 29th), and two second-round picks (either 50th or 32nd, plus 55th).

Here’s more from the Central:

  • Hiring the right head coach, having a successful draft, and acquiring forward depth in free agency are among the top offseason priorities for the Pistons, according to Mike Curtis of The Detroit News (subscriber link), who thinks the team should pursue Nets restricted free agent Cameron Johnson.
  • Pistons center Jalen Duren, who was recently named to the All-Rookie Second Team, was mostly pleased with his debut season, but he’s going to work on his conditioning and consistency in year two, Curtis writes in another subscriber-only story. “Consistency is a huge word,” Duren said. “To be great, you have to be consistent. For me, it’s honestly just being locked in and trying to understand what’s going on. ‘Being where my feet are,’ I like to say, and try to take over games, dominate games and affect games in any way possible. … I feel like that will come. I’m excited about what I can be in this league.”
  • Josh Richardson, Kelly Oubre, Max Strus, Gary Trent Jr. and Jalen McDaniels could be the types of wings the Cavaliers choose to go after in free agency with their mid-level exception, Kelsey Russo states in a mailbag for The Athletic. I don’t see Trent falling to that price point, especially since he could just opt in to his $18.8MM player option if he isn’t confident about getting a better payday, but the other four might be attainable (whether or not they’d be a good fit is another story).

NBA Reveals Players Expected At 2023 Draft Combine

The NBA has announced 78 players that are expected to attend this year’s draft combine, scheduled for May 15-21 at in Chicago, Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports tweets.

Additionally, a select number of standout players from the G League Elite Camp, which takes place May 13-14 in Chicago, will be invited to participate in the combine.

Players will have interviews with NBA teams and participate in five-on-five scrimmages, as well as shooting, strength and agility drills. Some top prospects opt out of the scrimmages.

Victor Wembanyama, the projected top pick, is not on the list. His French League season is still ongoing.

The list of invitees is as follows:

Draft Notes: Bona, Walsh, Nelson, Broome

UCLA big man Adem Bona has decided to test the 2023 NBA draft waters after wrapping up his freshman season, he tells ESPN’s Jonathan Givony. He’ll maintain his remaining NCAA eligibility during the process.

Bona had a promising year in 2022/23, averaging 7.7 PPG, 5.3 RPG, and 1.7 BPG in 22.9 MPG (33 games) for the Bruins, earning Pac-12 All-Defensive and Rookie of the Year honors. He’s the No. 45 player on ESPN’s big board, making him a solid candidate to be drafted.

However, Bona injured his shoulder in the Pac-12 tournament last month, then aggravated the injury during the NCAA tournament. He underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum and isn’t expected to fully recover until the fall, Givony writes.

Bona will be able to go through interviews with NBA teams during the pre-draft process, but will be unable to conduct full workouts, so it remains to be seen whether he’ll opt to keep his name in the draft pool or withdraw and return to school for his sophomore year.

Here are a few more draft-related updates:

  • Freshman forward Jordan Walsh has decided to test the NBA draft waters following his first college season at Arkansas, he tells Curtis Wilkerson of The No. 51 prospect on ESPN’s board, Walsh started 22 of 36 games as a freshman for the Razorbacks, averaging 7.1 PPG, 3.9 RPG, and 1.1 SPG while playing strong, versatile defense.
  • North Dakota State junior power forward Grant Nelson is entering the draft while preserving his remaining NCAA eligibility, he announced on Instagram. A member of the All-Summit first team and the conference’s All-Defensive team in 2022/23, Nelson averaged 17.9 points and 9.3 rebounds in 30 games (30.7 MPG). He ranks 94th on ESPN’s list of 2023 prospects.
  • Auburn junior forward Johni Broome is testing the NBA draft waters for a second straight year, he announced on Instagram. Broome transferred to Auburn after two standout seasons at Morehead State, where he was named the Ohio Valley Conference’s Rookie of the Year in 2021 and Defensive Player of the Year in 2022. He averaged 14.2 PPG, 8.4 RPG, and 2.4 BPG in 33 games (26.5 MPG) as a junior with the Tigers.