McDermott was one of the most exciting players in college basketball the last few years, and his ability to score will surely lead to a lot of teams paying close attention to him during workouts. The major question mark with McDermott is whether he is starting-caliber wing in the NBA or more of a reserve or specialist due to lack of athleticism. Playing against the lower level competition that he did will make his workouts even more important. McDermott measured in a shade under 6-7 and lacks the length that teams crave from their wings, but there is no denying his ability to score. Charlotte needs scoring from the perimeter to play off Al Jefferson, and McDermott would be a good fit. There is a split around the league on whether McDermott can get his shot off but I hear the team formerly known as the Bobcats is convinced.
Saric is a skilled perimeter player with great length and enticing abilities to handle and facilitate an offense. Only 20 and with at least another year overseas, Saric is a draft-and-stash candidate and could be a great investment for a team missing out on one of the top eight players. Saric could be an intriguing prospect for a lottery team looking to break the bank in free agency and not wanting to have a rookie deal on the salary cap this season. Saric is the top European prospect in this draft and a lock to be in the lottery. With Nerlens Noel and whichever rookie the 76ers take at No. 3, there is almost no chance Philadelphia brings in a third lottery pick as a rookie. Saric is a talented offensive player and could be a nice addition in a year or two.
Smooth and aggressive are two of the words many around the NBA use to describe Harris. In two seasons in East Lansing, Harris showed he is a capable scorer that can attack the rim and defend but needs to improve as a shooter. Harris’ stock suffered a bit at the combine when he measured in at a shade under 6-3. While a bit short for your prototypical shooting guard, Harris is a prospect to watch during predraft workouts as I am told he is a strong competitor and very polished off the court as well. Denver is on the verge of returning to the playoffs and will want a player that can provide them with the instant contribution that other rookies cannot.
12. Elfrid Payton, PG, Louisiana-Lafeyette, 6’3″, 170 lbs
Payton reminds me a bit of Rajon Rondo in that he is a long, athletic point guard that is a relentless defender and fills up the stat sheet. Payton has plenty of work to do offensively and must become a better shooter. At this point, Payton is shooting up boards based on excellent workouts. Payton recently matched up against Marcus Smart in Sacramento and looked very impressive, according to scouts. With the Magic adding a big with their first pick, expect them to address their backcourt here. Pairing Payton with Victor Oladipo would be intriguing. Jusuf Nurcic or Clint Capela are options here as well, as I think the Magic are open to a draft and stash player.
Stauskas surprised many with his athleticism while at Michigan, but his true calling card is shooting – and that is what has most GMs intrigued. With the ability to score from anywhere on the court and range well beyond the 3-point line, Stauskas is a safe pick in the lottery because at the very worst he is a 3-point specialist but has the length and athleticism to develop into a borderline starting shooting guard. Word around Chicago is Stauskas was a top interview for teams and that he could solidify himself in the late lottery with strong workouts. With Kevin Love’s status in the air, it is hard to guess what direction the Timberwolves will go. But adding a shooter like Stauskas would be a nice complement to the current roster.
14. James Young, SF, Kentucky, 6’7″, 205 lbs.
A lot of the scouts I’ve spoken to have a high regard for James Young and believe that while not a great shooter yet, he will be one in time as he has a great stroke. During Kentucky’s impressive NCAA Tournament run, a lot of players stepped up, but Young might have been the player to shoulder most of the load. Young is a smooth athlete that can score by attacking the rim or stepping out beyond the arc. The Suns are armed with three picks in Round 1 and will be quite active in trade talks. Young was a creative scorer at Kentucky, and as he improves his shooting could be a great value.
15. Jusuf Nurkic, C, Bosnia, 6’11”, 280 lbs
Nurkic’s combination of size and skill at just 19 has teams watching closely. He must improve his conditioning but is a prime candidate to crack the lottery as teams get to see him up close. One executive I spoke to said Nurkic is the most polished center prospect in the draft, which says everything you need to know about this position and the type of prospects in this draft cycle. The Hawks and their front office love Nurkic, according to my sources, and would not hesitate to draft him. Nurkic, whenever he arrives, would be a great complement to Al Horford.
16. Adreian Payne, PF, Michigan State, 6’10”, 245 lbs.
There may not be another player who benefitted more from coming back for his senior season than Payne, who played himself into a first-round pick. I tend to see Payne’s range being between the late lottery and top 20. While Payne did many things for a Spartans team that fell short of its goals, his signature for NBA teams is being a stretch 4. Payne is a solid shooter with nice range who knows how to play defense. Combined with Joakim Noah, the Bulls would have a nice 1-2 combo in the front court and Payne could play off of Noah quite effectively. The Bulls are also enamored with several wings including Rodney Hood and James Young.