Inside the NBA Draft Combine: Who could be a future Bull?
Sam Smith dives deeper into the players who might be available with the No. 7 pick
In an NBA draft filled with polarizing players, Cam Reddish, Coby White and Jarrett Culver are confident in their abilities and excited to take the next step.
I was talking Cam Reddish this week with an NBA executive during the NBA Draft Combine at Quest Multisport. Talk about conversations I never expected to occur, and whether there was a chance to get back that 10 minutes of my life.
The executive shrugged about one of the more polarizing players in an NBA draft filled with polarizing players.
"He might go out and get you 50," the executive was saying. "He gets out there and looks the part of an NBA player. Just looking at him, you say, ‘That's it.' But then next game you're not sure if he'll show up, and if he does if you even remembered he was on the court."
Talk about your risk/reward players, which seems a lot what this NBA draft is about after the top two or three players, expected to be Zion Williamson, Ja Morant and likely R.J. Barrett.
The Bulls have the No. 7 overall pick. If the Bulls don't make a trade or move in the draft, Reddish likely will be one of the players who should be available.
I'm really looking forward to making that next step. I feel like my game's more ready for the NBA than college.
Worth the risk?
Time to take a chance?
"It's difficult to say," Reddish told reporters when asked about being overshadowed by his Duke teammates expected to be drafted in the top three. "I'm really looking forward to making that next step. I feel like my game's more ready for the NBA than college."
Reddish does look the part, measuring 6-8 with shoes, a nine and a half foot reach with large hands.
"I feel like I can do everything," Reddish said. "I feel like I was more a shooter this year. I don't really want to classify myself as a shooter. I feel like if I just go out there and play my game, I can do a lot of different things. I (am) kind of reserved; just my personality. So people might take that as lazy or too laid back. But that's not who I am. I'm just naturally kind of a reserved guy."
You know, quiet and somewhat withdrawn publicly. Like, say, Kawhi Leonard?
Or maybe Tony Snell?
That's the biggest problem with the NBA draft. You probably never really know until they join your team. Leonard was the 15th selection in his draft, acquired for George Hill in a trade Spurs coach Gregg Popovich initially believed might be a mistake.
It did seem to work out reasonably well.
Reddish clearly played in the shadow of his more famous and high scoring teammates even as he was perhaps more celebrated coming to Duke, a Pennsylvania Mr. Basketball and AAU superstar.
Sometimes, however, that's where they peak. That's also what the draft is about: Who is on what trajectory.
Reddish averaged a reasonable 13.5 points per game at Duke, though shooting just 33 percent on threes despite a reputation for marksmanship. He was expected to emerge from the shadows when Williamson was hurt. But in two of his next four games he scored fewer than 10 points and would sit out a tournament game. But he did have 27 points in the game Williamson was hurt, showing he is capable of exceptional offense.
The early consensus among several NBA executives interviewed this week was the obvious top three of Williamson, Morant and Barrett. Vanderbilt point guard Darius Garland has been moving up the boards. He left the camp early amidst the belief he received a promise to be selected high. The speculation was Phoenix at No. 6 since the Suns are desperate for a point guard. But some speculated Garland could go at No. 4 to the Lakers or No. 5 to Cleveland in a trade possibility because of the lack of point guards in this draft.
Wherever I land in this year's draft, it's going to be an extremely high blessing for me. I'll be happy wherever I land. I'm a point guard. Whatever role it is, I'm going to play it to the fullest.
The talk was that the 2020 draft will be much stronger for point guards.
If Garland is off the board at No. 4, the view was Virginia wing player DeAndre Hunter would be No. 5 and then North Carolina point guard Coby White No. 6. Executives and scouts were discussing the picks more on talent—though there always are players who are misjudged and picked lower than they should be—rather than fit for a team. For example, Cleveland drafted a point guard last year in Collin Sexton. Would they draft another?
If White, a scoring type point guard, were available at No. 7, would the Bulls be interested?
"Wherever I land in this year's draft, it's going to be an extremely high blessing for me. I'll be happy wherever I land," said White, who measured just under 6-5 with shoes. "I'm a point guard. Whatever role it is, I'm going to play it to the fullest. I've been shooting it well in the workouts. I've always had deep range.
"Naturally," said White, who some see as more of a scoring guard, "I think I'm more of a point guard. Put the ball in my hands. But growing up when I was in middle school, I played the two. So I've played both positions for awhile. I feel like my speed, my shotmaking ability, how well I can score the ball (are strengths). I'm a competitor. I have the will to win. At the end of the day, it's all about winning games."
But White could be taken before No. 7 if there is a run on point guards, which probably would leave Texas Tech shooting guard Jarrett Culver. He measured almost 6-7 in shoes, but not with a long reach. Would No. 7 be a reach?
"I'd be (appreciative) anywhere I go," Culver said. "I really don't have any preferences. I'm just trying to make it. That's everything I worked for and it's been a dream to be in the position I'm in right now. I feel like (I bring) defense. We were one of the best defensive teams in the country in college and I feel like I take pride in defense. That's something I want to do.
"(I'm) a two-way player that can score on all three levels on offense and then on the defensive side, someone who plays hard each and every night," Culver said. "I'm kind of level-headed when I play. I don't really yell a lot and all that stuff, but once I get on the court it's a different beast out there. I need to improve on my ball handling for sure at the next level, being able to come off screens and get my shot off. And just being more vocal with my teammates."
And then there's Reddish, who also figures to get through to No. 7. He looks the part.
Or do the Bulls roll the basketball dice for a big man like Bol Bol, a remarkable 7-2 shooter, athletic seven footer Jaxson Hayes or the international big man Goga Bitadze and hope he's the next Nikola Jokic? It's only just begun.
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