NBA Mailbag

NBA Mailbag: Best handles in the Draft? How does it feel to be selected?

20-year NBA veteran Jamal Crawford answers 20 questions on the Draft, free agency and Boston's championship.

Top Draft prospects Alexandre Sarr (left) and Zaccharie Risacher have landed in New York for Wednesday’s NBA Draft.

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The NBA Mailbag is here to answer your questions on the 2024 NBA Draft! Have a question for Jamal? Submit it at the bottom of this edition of the NBA Mailbag.

If you were an NBA scout, what’s a question you would ask Draft prospects in the interview process?

– from Thomas in San Antonio, TX

I would ask, how do you spend your time when you’re away from the game? I want to know what interests they have and what they’re into. Honestly, I want to know how much they’re thinking about basketball when they’re not playing and working on their game. That would help me get indicators of their goals and how much they want to work. I’ll be able to tell a lot by their answers, without them telling me every specific goal.

Who in your opinion is the best player in this year’s Draft?

– from Shiloh in Chicago, IL

I haven’t researched this incoming Draft class, so it would be unfair to pick one person. But I do like what I’ve seen from Alexander Sarr and Rob Dillingham.

How do you feel about the comparisons to you and Lou Williams when talking about Rob Dillingham? Do you think he can find similar success in a similar role?

– from Dylan in Kentucky

Yes, he could find success in that role. But if I was him, I’d be going for it all first. Obviously, he won’t start from day one. But he should be viewing himself as a starter and a young franchise point guard. That’s the mindset Lou Will and I had when we entered the league. So if I was Rob, I’d be viewing myself like that and hopefully land in the right situation to help me grow into that. Then you go from there.

Who has the best handle in the Draft?

– from Beny in New York, NY

Rob Dillingham. Best handle not only in the Draft, but I think immediately when he walks into the NBA he’ll have one of the top 10 handles currently in the league.

The world has seen you working with Wemby. We all are curious if you think he’ll have handles like you. What transformations have you seen him have already this summer?

– from Kyle in Phoenix, AZ

I would’ve never put it out there. It’s his journey. So I’ll let him speak on the experience and his thoughts first. Then I promise I’ll answer after he does.

Let’s just say, he will be beyond one of the special ones.

Who in the upcoming Draft do you think would pair best with Wemby?

– from Zachary in Denver, CO

A type of player with winning intangibles who can play off-ball and shoot or can dribble and be a playmaker. He doesn’t necessarily need to be a point guard. But I think somebody like that. Or they could go for a big who has a different body type than Wemby.

What was your first feeling after getting drafted?

– from Oliver in Columbia, IL

It was surreal. People see it just as Draft day. But there are so many days, months and years that go into it. You dream about hearing your name called and shaking the commissioner’s hand. If you’re a student of the game, then you’ve seen all the legends have this moment. So it was unbelievable to personally experience it.

Before I got drafted, the cameras would go around to the table of the player they knew was about to get selected. The Cavs had the 8th pick and the cameras came around my table. I was like, “Oh, they must be wrong. I didn’t work out for the Cavs.” Then they said my name and it felt like everybody was screaming. I hugged everybody, and then the walk seemed so long, but it felt like you were shining so brightly because you knew the whole world was watching.

After your name gets called, what happens after?

– from Eugene in New York, NY

After you shake the commissioner’s hand, you’re immediately interviewed by TV for the world to see. I talked with Craig Sager and my son tried to steal the mic. Then they hustle you to a room to talk with the press. As I was talking with them, Andy Katz told me, “Jamal, you just got traded to the Bulls.” I was like, “What? Oh, I always liked Chicago” and everyone started cracking up.

Did you eat any specific food before Draft night?

– from Kelley in Mariposa, CA

I did not. But here’s a funny story. That whole day, they had food for the draftees. I went to breakfast with Chicago Bulls shorts, a Chicago Bulls cutoff, and my Jordan shoes. So I wore Chicago that entire day, without knowing that’s where I would land that night.

What team did you want to draft you and why?

– from Devon in Hot Springs, AR

The Bulls! Everybody knows my affinity for Michael Jordan and how much I love him. I’ve always followed Chicago. “From North Carolina, at guard, 6-6 …” is iconic. So to hear my name called out in a similar type of way was surreal. I wanted to go to the Bulls or the Sonics.

Do you think the Hawks will keep the 1st pick or trade it?

– from Sawyer in High Point, NC

I could see them trading it. If they want to change up their guard tandem, then it could work to pair the pick with a player and see if they could get a veteran, established star.

Where do you think Bronny James will end up? Will he fall to the second round, or will he be at the end of the first?

– from Brayden in Independence, KY

I could see him going near the end of the first round. He has the tools to be successful at the pro level. How he evolves? Who knows. But he definitely has the “it” factor.

Which team do you think will be the most aggressive with trading picks this year?

– from Christian in Geismar, LA

I could see the Thunder being active since they have so many future picks they could package together. They could use this year’s 12th pick and some of their future picks to get another big to play alongside Chet.

Will OKC draft a big man or will they trade for one?

– from Gave in Supply, NC

I would trade for a big. But I wouldn’t want him to be much older than this current group of players. I wouldn’t go get a 15-year veteran. I would look for a player somewhere in the five-year range.

Who was your favorite teammate in your rookie season?

– from Natalie in Lafayetta, CA

I’ll say A.J. Guyton because he was like the mixture of a rookie and a veteran. He was my Draft class, but he was a senior. So he had a certain level of maturity coming in. He really took me under his wing as far as things like getting to practice early and finding time to get shots up. It was almost like I was still in college as a freshman and he was the senior leading the way. Shoutout to A.J. Guyton.

What was the hardest part of your path to making it to the NBA?

– from Ayaan in Ontario, Canada

The unknown was the hardest part. But to be honest with you, I saw my whole life playing out the way it did when I was a kid. You make this shot in the backyard, you’re going to Michigan. You make this shot, you’re going to the pros. It’s been unbelievable because I literally saw this whole thing playing out the way it did. Not so much the media stuff, but the basketball part I saw exactly how it played out.

And it’s crazy thinking back to those moments of dreaming about it. I was like, “I know it’s going to happen, I know it. But it hasn’t happened yet.” I bet I was one of a million kids who had similar thoughts. So the hardest part of the journey was having faith that it was going to all work out, but not knowing when or exactly how it would happen. In the end, my dreams became reality.

Do you think this Celtics team is one of the greatest champs of all time?

– from Michael in Worcester, MA

I would have to do a deep dive on it. The stats support them being among the greatest champs ever. But I’m not sure I would take them against the Warriors teams with KD, or the Bulls, or the Spurs team in 2014, or so many other incredible champions. It would’ve been interesting stylistically to see this Celtics team against the 2004 Pistons. They played so tough and rugged. If they were up 4, it felt like they were up 8. So while the stats back it up, I’m not sure I’d put this Celtics group in that elite level yet.

What do you think was the wildest moment this season?

– from Abdul in Toronto, Canada

I’m going to go with a personal moment. You couldn’t have told me at the beginning of the season that at the end of the season I would be calling games with the great Kevin Harlan and Reggie Miller. They’re as good as it gets and to have that opportunity was incredible. I was nervous every time until I got comfortable. It still seems surreal that I was in that position. I’ve studied this game and they’ve been part of so many iconic moments. So joining them in the playoffs was the wildest moment this season for me personally.

Which free agent are you most intrigued to see where they land?

– from Sam in San Francisco, CA

Klay Thompson. There’s so much history between him and the Warriors. I understand how you always want to feel appreciated and valued. But they’ve made so much history together, things that will live on past all of us. So it will be intriguing to see if he returns or if he really leaves and plays another 5 years with a different franchise. If he does, how will we look at those five years versus the 13 seasons he had in Golden State? Where Klay ends up is the most interesting free-agent storyline to me.

Have you been watching much WNBA this season? What’s standing out to you?

– from Destiny in Phoenix, AZ

Yes, I watch the W. I love watching it. I love the team play, I love the fundamentals, and I love that everyone is talking about the W. There are so many schemes to follow and so many little things that impact winning, like passing from good shots to great shots, that I love to watch as a coach. The interest it’s drawing is so deserved and I think the game will continue to grow. There’s talent all across the league. And I’m loving that the Storm are doing so well in Seattle.

Have A Question For Jamal? Submit It Below!