With the NBA Draft mere hours away, beginning at 7 p.m. tonight, and three Blue Devils who may be selected in Mason Plumlee, Ryan Kelly and Seth Curry, writers from The Chronicle sat down to predict where they believe the Duke seniors will be drafted and why.
Michael Schreiner—17th or 18th pick to the Atlanta Hawks. Plumlee shone early on in his senior season, but concerns about his age and low ceiling have likely undermined his chances to be a lottery pick. Instead, selecting the 23-year-old is now considered one of the safer bets in draft, something Atlanta will be able to get away with if they spend the draft's next pick on someone with more upside. Mature and athletic for his size, Plumlee would provide the Hawks with solid minutes off the bench at center or power forward. Plus, Danny Ferry, a former Dukie and Atlanta's general manager, will be deciding the teams' picks Thursday night—once a Blue Devil, always a Blue Devil, right?
Daniel Carp—20th pick to the Chicago Bulls. With former Blue Devil Carlos Boozer always a threat to be amnestied and backup big man Nazr Mohammed set to hit free agency, the Bulls will be in the market for a big man. If Plumlee slips to the 20th pick, he'll be hard to pass up. Plumlee has been projected up and down draft boards from the late lottery to the mid-20s, but reservations about his age and ceiling will cause him to fall into Chicago's lap for an absolute steal. He would be a great fit with the Bulls.
Bobby Colton—22nd pick to the Brooklyn Nets. The Chicago Bulls are a real possibility at 20th overall, but they are in talks to swap the pick to the Houston Rockets for former Kentucky Jayhawk Thomas Robinson. If that trade doesn't come to fruition, any other team who may acquire the Bulls' selection could take Plumlee for good value that late in the draft. If the Bulls keep the pick, the more pressing need in Chicago is a guard to replace impending free agents Nate Robinson, Marco Belinelli and Richard Hamilton. That should allow one of the top big men in the NCAA to fall into the laps of the Brooklyn Nets, a team in real need of help up front.
Michael Schreiner—60th pick to the Memphis Grizzlies. Once projected as a likely first rounder, Kelly has watched his draft stock plummet during his injury-plagued senior season. The White Raven is too skilled to not get picked up, but whether a team spends their second (or third) pick on the 7-foot forward remains to be seen. Memphis needs to add a 3-point threat, however, and Kelly's ability to stretch opposing defenses will likely entice the Grizzlies into spending one of their two late-second round picks on the Raleigh native.
Daniel Carp—50th pick to the Atlanta Hawks. Unable to work out due to his offseason foot surgery, Kelly has met with teams that hold selections throughout the draft's second round. One of these teams is the Hawks, who are led by their shrewd general manager, Duke alum Danny Ferry. As Ferry continues to rebuild in Atlanta, he will decide that Kelly is worth the risk.
Bobby Colton—Undrafted. Kelly's inability to work out for teams will ultimately cost him a selection in the draft. The sharpshooting big has the potential to be a solid stretch-4 in an NBA where Matt Bonner makes $3.6 million and Steve Novak $4.1 million. The only problem is, Kelly isn't viewed as the best late-draft stretch-4. That title belongs to Erik Murphy, brother of Blue Devil Alex. Kelly still may be drafted after Murphy is off the board, but teams often use second round picks not to bolster the current roster, but to find international players who can develop overseas, and off the salary cap. Kelly will find work in the NBA however, regardless of whether he gets drafted.
Michael Schreiner—Undrafted. At 6-foot-3 and 179 pounds, Curry does not have the size to play shooting guard at the next level, and he does not have the athleticism or experience to play point guard. Lacking a single attribute or skill that sets him apart, Curry is not warranted a pick in this year's draft. But Curry's shooting ability and intangibles—he silently played through a stress fracture all of last season—will position him as one of the most eligible undrafted free agents after the dust settles Thursday night. A possible suitor? With Manu Ginobili nearing the end of his career, the San Antonio Spurs will be on the lookout for a backup guard who can both score and lend some minutes at the point.
Daniel Carp—Undrafted. Curry really got the short end of the stick during his senior season. Kelly battled a devastating injury as well, but he played some of the best basketball of his career right before it happened. Curry had an exemplary senior season playing through his injury, but he still came into offseason workouts with something to prove, and was also unable to work out due to his recent ankle surgery. Curry will get a shot to prove himself and earn his way onto a roster during Summer League, but I'd be shocked if he heard his name called on draft night.
Bobby Colton—Undrafted. Curry, like Kelly, was hurt by the fact that he couldn't work out for teams in the pre-draft process. Even if he did work out, one thing would have been made abundantly clear—Seth Curry is not his brother. Stephen Curry is a budding superstar in the NBA, but Seth lacks the athleticism to play point guard and the size to play shooting guard. With strong ties in the league—brother Stephen Curry with the Golden State Warriors and father Dell Curry played 10 seasons in Charlotte, was temporarily an assistant coach with the Bobcats and has been the Bobcat's color commentator—Curry will get a shot somewhere. Plenty of teams will look at Curry when trying to find a 3-point specialist in free agency.
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