Following what seemed like an eternity since the NCAA Tournament ended last month, the NBA Draft process has finally begun. Players from all over the country have traveled to Chicago to work out for NBA personnel to either try to prove how high they should be drafted, or to try to get some feedback to take with them back down to the NCAA ranks. Tuesday night the NBA Draft Lottery took place, and so we now know which teams (trades pending) own which picks in the top 15.
As far as the former Tar Heels go, we also now have a rough idea where Coby White, Nassir Little, and Cameron Johnson may end up. As of right now, there’s some room for movement for each player to move up and down a couple of spots depending on how workouts and interviews go, but there are already a lot of whispers when it comes to White and Little. As far as Johnson goes, there’s a wide range of places that he could end up according to NBA pundits, which will make things really interesting after the lottery picks are in.
So then, what did we learn to this point, and what were we able to learn from the NBA Draft Combine after the first day? Let’s take a look at what we know about each player to this point, and what each player’s situation might look like by the time the draft process is completed.
Height w/shoes: 6’4 1⁄3
Height w/o shoes: 6’3 1⁄2
Weight: 191.4 lbs
Body Fat: 4:3%
Coby White entered the college postseason having increased his NBA Draft stock to unexpected levels, depending on who you ask. Following the lottery, it became clearer and clearer that we were destined to see White become a top-10 pick, and it looks like all signs are 100% pointing in that direction.
Cody Westerlund with 670 The Score in Chicago reported live from the combine, and he was able to confirm White’s draft position via the feedback provided to him by NBA personnel:
North Carolina point guard Coby White has received feedback projecting him to go in the 5-9 range in the NBA Draft, he says. He hasn't yet met with the #Bulls, who own the No. 7 pick.— Cody Westerlund (@CodyWesterlund) May 16, 2019
When speaking to the Bulls media at the combine, White stated that not only does he think he’ll be able to increase his draft stock during the combine, but he thinks that he is more of a point guard than a shooting guard. He stated that he’s currently working on slowing the game down, working on his change in speeds, and has been working a lot on his decision-making as a facilitator. As far as the positives go, White should have no issues shooting his three-point shot in the NBA, as he was never shy about taking (and making) deep threes during his time at UNC.
As it stands right now, it appears that the Chicago Bulls are the current favorite to land White. His services are greatly needed for a team that just had their worst season in franchise history, and have had big issues at the point guard position. It’s possible that White could start with Zach Lavine in the backcourt, but the optimal situation would be for the Bulls to bring in a veteran point guard to help White ease into the game by coming off the bench. However, they seem unwilling to part ways with Kris Dunn just yet, which perhaps is a story for another day.
Another popular landing spot for White is to the Atlanta Hawks. They are coming off of a 29-53 season after drafting Oklahoma Sooners star Trae Young this time last year. With Young starting to find his footing in the league, White would be able to come off the bench for them, be an additional scoring threat, and hopefully bolster a team that couldn’t find a way to put it all together this season.
Height w/shoes: 6’6
Height w/o shoes: 6’4 1⁄2
Wingspan: 7’1 1⁄4
Body Fat: 5.9%
Let’s go ahead and get the messiness out of the way: yesterday when speaking to the media, Nassir Little made some comments about his experience at UNC, and what he said wasn’t particularly received well by some Tar Heel fans:
“I’m not sure what I was able to do at UNC,” Little said. “It was hard to understand exactly what my role was — especially on offense. It created a lot of hesitancy.
“It was being unsure, playing out of position, not knowing my position on the floor was the cause of my hesitancy.”
There is a good amount of context missing from the quote that has been floating around the internet, which is clear when Little also stated how much the college game has helped him bridge the gap between high school and the NBA:
“It was a struggle statistically, is what y’all are talking about, but over the year, I developed, my body developed in the weight room,” Little said. “I learned more about the game.”
When addressing the difficulty of playing in college as opposed to high school:
“Playing against actual defense,” Little said. “In high school, there’s no help, you beat your guy and dunk. If you think you’re going to the NBA and you think it’s going to be that easy, you’re in for a rude awakening.
“Going to college exposes you to that a little bit and I think it’s helpful for guys going to the NBA.”
Directing focus back to workouts, Little was the only UNC player to go through on-the-court activities yesterday. He participated in the strength and agility drills, and here were the results:
Lane Agility Time (Seconds): 12.15
Shuttle Run (Seconds): 3.09
Three Quarter Sprint (Seconds): 3.31
Standing Vertical Leap (Inches): 31.0
Max Vertical Leap (Inches): 38.5
It’s also worth noting that Nassir shot really well during workouts, and showed off his ability to shoot from the perimeter during three-point shooting drills:
North Carolina's Nassir Little shooting it well in the NBA Combine drills. pic.twitter.com/fSRKJrZycg— Jonathan Givony (@DraftExpress) May 16, 2019
Following the NBA Draft Lottery, mock drafts have had Little going anywhere between the 11th and the 23rd pick. His performance during the drills should have him near the top of that range, which means he could fall into the lap of a team like Minnesota or Charlotte. It will be worth keeping an eye on how the rest of the process plays out for him, as it seems like everyone to this point has a lot of good things to say about him.
Height w/shoes: 6’8 1⁄2
Height w/o shoes: 6’7
Body Fat: 5.8%
Of the three UNC prospects, Cam Johnson wasn’t around for the combine yesterday. However, that doesn’t mean that there haven’t been whispers coming from various fanbases within the NBA.
Sites that cover both the San Antonio Spurs and the Philadelphia 76ers seem really interested in Johnson, mostly due to his potential to be a deadly perimeter shooter in the pros. San Antonio Express believes that a player like Johnson would be a nice addition to the Spurs, who are coming off of a season where they made 39.2% of their three-point attempts. They stated, that the biggest drawback is Johnson’s age, which in the grand scheme of things isn’t much of a negative at all.
As far as the 76ers go, The Sixers Wire had this to say about Johnson’s potential to help a team that is just coming off of a series defeat in the Eastern Conference Semifinals:
At this point, Johnson looks one of the more NBA-ready wings available, with a potentially elite catch and shoot profile that makes him a good first-round bet despite his advanced age and history of leg injuries. He’ll only be average defensively, but his touch and mechanics are for real, and Johnson will have to be accounted for on the floor at all times. A playoff team like the Sixers might be able to use him immediately as a plug-and-play floor spacer.
Between the two teams, the 76ers have the best chance of landing Johnson with the 24th pick of the draft. There’s always the chance that he could go higher first, but also he could go lower depending on various circumstances. Right now the HoopsHype aggregate mock draft has him as the 22nd pick, so we will see if he goes through workouts to improve his stock, and also if other players force his stock to move around.