Here’s the official RR prediction for tonight’s 2015 NBA draft.
Kevon Looney, PF, 19 years old, 6’9″, 222 lbs, Freshman, UCLA
He’s 19 years old but can be thought of as a “contribute now” type player, because of his defensive versatility and three-point shooting. In a league where stretch fours are becoming more and more valuable, he’d be a nice complement off the bench. Though he doesn’t have the greatest quickness, I still think he could get by playing at the three in Dwane Casey’s chaotic lineups where he’ll be able to press on high-screens and still be able to get back (something Patterson, Hansbrough, and Johnson all struggled with). At worst, he’d be in the local D-League where the Raptors can keep a close eye on him.
Defensively, Looney shows nice versatility, often playing at the top of UCLA’s zone and covering ground nicely on the perimeter, contesting shots impressively with his long reach. His lateral quickness is solid, and he’s able to get in a low stance, which aids him in keeping smaller players in front of him. He’s much more limited as a post-defender at this stage, where his average frame and lack of strength is not a good combination. While he’s clearly a competitive player, he can get pushed around relatively easily at this stage, which may be an issue for him in the NBA early on in his career.
Delon Wright, PG, 23 years old, 6′ 6″, 181 lbs, Senior, Utah
I remember when everybody coming out of college used to be around this age. Having played four years in college, Delon Wright requires less breaking-in time and could easily fill a void as the Raptors third-string point guard, a position they haven’t fielded in some time. Not blessed with the quickness of someone like Dennis Schroeder, Wright uses legit basketball moves to get into lanes and surveys well to make the right pass. He’s got a very herky-jerky style (almost like T.J Ford way back when), and uses hesitation moves to get going. Defensively, he uses his height well to block the offensive player’s view, and though the wingspan isn’t great, there’s a lot to be said for getting someone of his size and maturity level onto the roster.
Wright’s best attribute from a NBA standpoint is likely his defense. He has quick feet, excellent instincts and a scrappy nature, putting outstanding pressure on the ball. His instincts for getting in the passing lanes and overall timing for making plays off the ball is extraordinary, helping him average an outstanding 2.6 steals per-40 minutes pace adjusted in his two seasons at Utah, with a ton of blocks and rebounds thrown in for good measure.
Wright’s anticipation skills are off the charts, and he does it without gambling in the passing lanes excessively, but rather by simply sniffing out when to help out teammates, and when to make a reflexive play as a sort of free safety. He’s big enough to guard either backcourt spot, which gives his team coveted positional flexibility that is very much in demand in today’s NBA.
Montrezl Harrell, PF, 21 years old, 6’8″, 253 lbs, Junior, Louisville
Here’s a guy who could’ve been picked in the first round last year but decided to stick around for his junior season. He’s a very different type of PF than Looney, one who relies on motor and hustle. He’s going to make his mark in the NBA on defense, and there are a lot of Kenneth Faried comparisons already being made (though he’s an even poorer defensive rebounder than Faried). He’s got athleticism, length, and strength, and in my view could easily replaced Tyler Hansbrough as that type of player on the roster. His offensive game isn’t much to talk about, but do you really want to bring in a guy who needs shots? He does gamble on defense, and is often over-aggressive which means he’s termed as an undisciplined defender. Don’t matter, at that age and that experience, there’s plenty of room to grow and he’s certainly a willing defender. The red flag here is that he can’t really shoot (did hit a few threes last year) and he’s not the stretch four that Looney would be.
Harrell’s relentless nature, combined with his quick second jump makes him a very solid presence on the offensive glass. He averaged 3.9 per-40 offensive rebounds for his career, despite his lack of height, as he often seems to simply want the ball more than his opponents, and will go well out of his area to pursue it.
Defensively is where Harrell figures to make his mark at the NBA level, as he has a relentless motor to go along with strong physical tools (length, strength, athleticism), and will often be seen sacrificing his body and diving on the floor for loose balls, not being afraid of anyone or trying anything to get the job done.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, SF, 6’7″, 211 lbs, Sophomore, Arizona
He can’t shoot and gets a deer-in-the-headlights look on offense, but he can dominate defensively. So, there’s your trade-off. He can matchup with most NBA wings, and has the frame, strength and quickness to give them trouble. Making a pick like him basically concedes that you’ll be drafting a role player, and the chances of him amounting to a great offensive talent are very low. If you’re looking for NBA-readiness, this is the guy to pick because he could come in tomorrow and matchup with Bradley Beal or Joe Johnson in the playoffs.
Hollis-Jefferson was one of the best defenders in college basketball, and will need to make his mark on this end of the court at the next level as well. While he guarded multiple positions in college, he was best matched up against wings, where he can match their quickness and bother them with his strength and wingspan. He is locked in on this end of the court, taking pride in shutting down the opponent’s best scorer. He moves his feet well to stay in front of dribble penetration and can finish the play with a strong contest of the shot, blocking 1.1 shots per 40 minutes pace adjusted.
My personal pick: Delon Wright. The Raptors need a point guard more than they need another flawed wingish player, and though Looney and Hollis-Jefferson have defensive potential and the former can shoot the three, they’re not going to fill the void that exists at SF, only paper over the cracks. I get drafting a role player, but at this point, you need to maximize the return on this pick and get someone who adds a little different look to your offense and defense. With Vasquez on the last year of his deal, Wright could be promoted to a backup next season at a cheap rate.
Who will the Raptors will pick? Montrezl Harrell to replace Tyler Hansbrough.