NBA Draft Preview: Atlantic 10

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Have NBA draft fever?

Then you are in luck! With the NBA draft approaching, Slim Phil and I have teamed up to give you a comprehensive very superficial look at the Atlantic 10’s standing in the draft. This year was one of the most successful A10 seasons in decades with six teams going to the NCAA Tournament and Dayton reaching the Elite 8. Will this post-season success translate to a strong draft showing by former Atlantic 10 players? Probably not!

However, in the fantasy land of the UMBR all of these players have a shot at being drafted by an NBA team, so Phil and I are gonna talk about them.

Chaz Williams, UMass

Chaz has been getting quite a bit of attention in the New England sports media as a possible draft pick. (See Comcast SportsNet article here) He is the perfect underdog story as he is the smallest guy in the draft class yet has an incredible work ethic. It seems he has a workout with every NBA team, so hopefully he can impress somebody.

Despite his size, Chaz was one of the best players in the Atlantic 10 and ranked third in the country in assists per game. Unfortunately I think in addition to his size, his ability to score against NBA defenders is going to be questioned by GMs and head coaches. CSNNE wrote a recent story comparing him to Sacramento’s Isaiah Thomas, who after being drafted last in 2011 worked his way up to a starting position. Another player with similar playing style who has had success in the NBA is Nate Robinson.

Will NBA teams give Chaz Williams a shot hoping he has the same potential as guys like Isaiah Thomas and Nate Robinson or will he be forced to settle for a contract in Europe? If he doesn’t get drafted a big part of that will come down to the result of the Minutemen’s disappointing trip to the Big Dance. If the Minutemen had gone deeper into the tournament, Chaz would have gotten some much needed media coverage that always comes in handy on draft day.

Slim Phil’s Take: It feels like I’ve been comparing Chaz to Nate Robinson for years now. They have a similar size and a similar skill set (which includes similar deficiencies). Shorter players like Chaz and Nate tend to get caught up in the air during a pass attempt in an effort to get a better look of the floor. While this makes for acrobatic moves and highlight-reel dishes, it also leads to turnovers. I’m sure Chaz could make a solid NBA career for himself if given the opportunity and development time. As it stands, I think he’ll go undrafted, have a few training camp invites, but ultimately no contract offers.

Raphiael Putney, UMass (LOL !)

Raphiael Putney is another UMass player who is a long shot in the NBA draft. To be honest, I have a better shot at dating Kate Upton than Putney does at being drafted on June 26th. MassLive reports that he was given a tryout with the Charlotte Hornets. For Putney to have any chance at making an NBA squad he would have to play out of his mind for the next few weeks and probably put on thirty pounds.

Slim Phil’s Take: Scouts were talking about Putney’s NBA potential three years ago when he was a rising star. As a junior and senior though, the Marklar plateaued and maybe even regressed. Ditto Adam’s analysis, but instead of 30 pounds I’d go with 50, entirely from a beef jerky diet.

Langston Galloway, SJU

Langston Galloway only makes this list because of his uncanny scoring ability. He has a great fade away jumper and can make buckets in the paint pretty much at will. I think his biggest weakness in the eyes of NBA scouts is going to be his lack of size and versatility. Galloway put on a great performance in his final game as a Hawk (25 points against eventual champions, UConn) and probably would have benefitted from a few more NCAA Tournament games.

Slim Phil’s Take: A pure shooter! Dicky V. would love this guy if ESPN had ever bothered to put an A10 game on national TV. I like to think of Galloway as a less extreme case of Jimmer Fredette from a couple years ago. A scoring machine (not as good as Jimmer) who is questionable on defense at the next level (though maybe less so than Jimmer).

Juvonte Reddic, VCU

Reddic is the hands down favorite to be the highest draft pick out of the A10 this year. Scouts have been talking for a few years about his size and scoring ability. I think if VCU had played deep into the NCAA Tournament he would be a lock, but unfortunately the Rams got bounced in the first round.

Ronald Roberts, SJU

Another long shot, he was the third best player on a team that won the Atlantic 10 Tournament but couldn’t get out of the first round of March Madness. It’s too bad because he does have a great NBA name.

Halil Kanacevic, SJU

Kanacevic was one of the most impressive big men in the Atlantic 10 this season. UMass fans know especially well as was lights out in both regular season contests. A testament to his skill is that in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament his Hawks team took UConn to overtime. In fact, it was Kanacevic’s foul out in OT that allowed UConn to come away with the victory.

If you ask Slim Phil, he’ll say that Kanacevic is “Just as good as Mitch McGary in my opinion.” That is one hell of a comparison and if Kanacevic doesn’t get drafted it will just go to show how much of a disadvantage A10 players have in the draft when being compared those who play in the power conferences.

Slim Phil’s Take: My recollection of that statement is foggy at best, likely due to severe intoxication

in an attempt to will UMass through the tournament on the sheer power of beer consumption alone. But you know what? I’m not wrong. Kanacevic played his best on the big stage, something which can hardly be said of the UMass stars this year. Of all the players on this list, he may deserve a shot at the next level the most.

What does this mean for the Atlantic 10?

Well, it doesn’t mean much. It’s great that the conference sent so many teams to the tournament this season, but without high profile draft picks it is not much of a victory. Recruiting is the fundamental goal of every basketball program and good players want to play where they have the best chance of making it to the NBA. Yes, there are some outliers (Stephen Curry out of Davidson, the A10’s newest member, comes to mind) but for the most part top draft picks come from the top conferences. The Atlantic 10 is on the verge of becoming a great conference, but it won’t get there without a great draft class to propel it.

Anyways, Only 161 days until tip off!

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