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UNC Basketball: Theo Pinson and Joel Berry emerge as second round picks in a recent NBA mock draft

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Someone out there believes the Heels’ two seniors have value in the Association.

NCAA Basketball: Final Four Championship Game-Gonzaga vs North Carolina Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Theo Pinson and Joel Berry II’s college basketball careers came to an end this past Sunday, and it’s been a tough pill to swallow. Pinson and Berry have meant so much to the program, as well as the university, and one can imagine they will go off into the world to do great things following graduation. I don’t know that anybody will miss Joel and Theo more than Roy Williams himself, who managed to get both players to commit during one of the toughest times the basketball program has ever gone through.

What has been a bit of a question mark for these two players is whether or not they have NBA potential — Berry’s most common criticism is that he is undersized for a potential NBA point guard, and Pinson really hasn’t made that strong of a case for himself until this year. Well, despite these concerns, one mock draft site believes these two will manage to land spots in the NBA after all.

Last Monday, NBADraft.net released their latest lottery mock draft. Pinson shows up in the mock draft as the 54th overall pick in the draft, while Berry is the 60th overall pick. This means both players in this mock draft have landed spots as second round picks, with Berry being the last player to be drafted overall.

Theo Pinson finished this season averaging 10.3 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 5.1 assists per game. This is the first time in his UNC career he managed to stay healthy for just about the entire season, Clemson game withstanding, and his health translated into a higher amount of production. Not only was Pinson the same stat-stuffer that he was last year, but he managed to get to the basket enough to flirt with a triple-double on several occasions, including the win against Lipscomb when he finished with 15 points, 10 rebounds, and 7 assists.

The biggest knock on Theo’s game has been his shooting ability, which this year really only proved to be an issue from long range. Pinson shot at a 47.3% clip from the field, but only made 22.6% of his three-point attempts. It’s hard to believe that an NBA scout would be incredibly hard on him because of his perimeter shooting, seeing how he does so many other good things on the court. However, the NBA definitely considers it a huge plus if you’re able to knock down shots on a consistent basis from deep. We’ll have to wait and see what kind of performance he puts up in the draft workouts.

Joel is coming off of his best season ever in terms of scoring. He finished the year averaging 17.1 points per game, along with 3.5 rebounds and 3.2 assists. While his scoring production went up, his efficiency went down quite a bit — Berry shot at a 39.6% clip this year from the field, after making 42.6% of his shots in 2017, and 44.6% in 2016. His three-point shooting efficiency took a little bit of a dip as well, as he made 34.4% of his attempts this year, compared to 38.3% last year. It is worth noting that Berry took 98 more shots than he did last year, so that may have contributed to his dip in efficiency.

One of the biggest knocks on Berry getting drafted right now is his size, as he is listed as a 6’0” point guard. This issue can be looked at from one of two ways: he is the same height as 9-time NBA All-Star point guard Chris Paul, so the argument doesn’t hold much water. The second way to look at it? Berry’s skill set makes it hard to figure out what the NBA scouts will actually think when he goes through the draft process. He is a very productive offensive player and a solid defender, but his ball-handling skills and ability to create plays isn’t the strongest we’ve seen from a UNC point guard. In fact, this year Pinson did a lot of the playmaking, and the Heels struggled whenever he wasn’t on the court. Berry definitely could find a place in the NBA, but he has to show scouts a lot of good things during workouts in order to hear his name called on draft night.

One final word about mock drafts in general: they are to be taken with a grain of salt. This particular site usually isn’t too far off in its mock drafts, but there are a lot of outliers that could absolutely make things happen differently from what’s being predicted. Still, it is good to see that Theo and Joel are on someone’s radar. Hopefully we get to see more from these two young men in the near future.