Best Fits for Hog’s Future Draftees
For the first time in his career, Arkansas head coach Eric Musselman will have four players drafted to the NBAon Thursday, a feat not achieved by many. With two potential lottery picks, Musselman continues to show he can develop and put players in the league year-in and year-out. Many wonder where the quartet of players will end up, and rightfully so. Most players, no matter how talented they are, can’t blossom to their full potential unless they’re in the right system. Here are my best landing spots for each Hog who entered their name in the NBA Draft.
Anthony Black- Washington Wizards
After an extremely successful freshman season, Black is essentially locked into the top ten of this year’s draft. The 6 ’6 guard showed he is league ready throughout the year, and should be a day one starter for most lottery teams. The Wizards traded Bradley Beal to Phoenix on Sunday, and are expected by many to go into full rebuild mode after his departure. Washington would be a perfect fit for Black as they have very little depth at the guard position, meaning he’ll get the chance to play big minutes, and grow as the season goes on. While Black may be extremely polished already, he still has a lot of developing to do in order for him to reach his potential. His three-point shot is a work in progress, and there’s no better way to fix your shot than repetition, and he’ll have plenty of opportunities to get reps in Washington. While the Wizards may not be so fun to watch next year, Arkansas fans and basketball fans in general could see Black slowly develop into a star if he lands in the nation’s capital.
Nick Smith Jr.- Toronto Raptors
Most would have elected to stay on the sidelines to protect their draft stock after suffering a brutal knee injury, but not Smith. He knew he would hurt his stock after electing to return from an undisclosed knee injury, but he didn’t care, he just wanted to play with his team. The talented freshman was projected to be the first college player off the board before he came to Arkansas, but after a leg injury he suffered in the pre-season world tour, Smith never looked the same, causing his stock to fall rapidly. No one really knows how healthy Smith is, or how his injury will affect his NBA career. Draft scouts and analysts have mixed opinions on Smith, some saying he’s a bust, while some saying he’s a steal. Because of that, there’s a wide range of projections on where he will get picked. The chances of Smith being drafted to Toronto may be slim, but the fit is absolutely perfect. Whether they keep their valuable assets like Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby, or choose to rebuild, Smith will land in a well run organization with a good culture. The Raptors have lacked a player like Nick Smith for a while, a guard who can playmake, defend, and get a bucket when you need him to. Smith definitely has a way to go before he’s able to be a player like that in the NBA, but the ceiling is high. Barring injury, I can see Smith being a steal for a team like the Raptors, or falling to a contending team like the Lakers or the Heat. Smith is a great example of a player who needs the best fit for him to shine, and the Raptors can give him that opportunity.
Jordan Walsh- Charlotte Hornets
The biggest key for Jordan Walsh to succeed in the NBA is to get as many minutes as possible. Charlotte is coming off one of the worst seasons in franchise history, and isn’t an attractive destination for any big free agents, meaning it should be another rough season for the Hornets. Unless the Hornets trade the 2nd overall pick, the bench minutes should be wide open next season. Going to a struggling team may not be the most exciting move for Walsh, but getting meaningful minutes and growing on the fly is the quickest way to really get him keyed in offensively. His defense however, could be the way he gets on the floor. Fouling is most definitely a major issue, but should resolve itself over time. I genuinely believe Jordan Walsh has First Team All-Defense potential. It will take a perfect situation for him to be that type of player, and Charlotte is one of them. The Hornets need a perimeter defender who can guard 1-4, and Walsh is the perfect candidate to fill that role.
Ricky Council IV- Oklahoma City Thunder
Council was somewhat thrown into the fire after Nick Smith and Trevon Brazile’s injuries, having to take over the duties of being the number one scoring option. He adapted, but his performances were streaky. Before the injury to Trevon Brazile, Council was playing the best basketball of his life. Council played on the wing, benefitting mightily off kick-outs and lobs, which should be more of his role in the NBA. The Thunder have great guard play already, but there’s lots of room for improvement on the wings. Former Hog Isaiah Joe signed a 3-year deal with OKC last season to add depth, but they still don’t have as much as they’d like. Taking a flier in the second round on a player like Council who can, well, fly, wouldn’t hurt, especially when you have loads of picks.