There are exactly four weeks left until the NBA Draft, and the five Tar Heel NBA hopefuls are making rounds across the country, trying to improve their draft stock and impress the teams in their range. They have certainly been busy, so let’s review the work that each has put in.
Justin Jackson, who is currently projected by DraftExpress as a borderline lottery pick (they have him going #14 to the Miami Heat), has drawn interest from several teams, and he also might have shown some reciprocation through this Tweet published the day after the NBA Draft Lottery:
For those unfamiliar with the NBA, from the far left and going clockwise, those hats represent: The New Orleans Pelicans (1st pick at #40), the New York Knicks (#8), the Denver Nuggets (#13), the Charlotte Hornets (#11), the Miami Heat (#14), the Dallas Mavericks (#9), and the Sacramento Kings (#10).
Aside from the Pelicans, which is just kind of weird (and I haven’t seen any reported interest in him from the team, either), this picture makes it clear he expects to be taken in the mid-late lottery.
The Knicks will host Jackson on June 13th, and while 8th is considered too high for Jackson by some, the possibility of a trade down is certainly worth considering. The Mavericks have not officially invited Jackson, but according to Dallas sports insider Mike Fisher, Dallas hopes to host Jackson and Tony Bradley in a pre-draft workout in the coming weeks.
The Kings have shown interest in Jackson, including inviting him to their 3rd pre-draft workout. He is by far the highest-profile prospect the Kings have invited in several years. The Hornets have not yet shown interest, at least that which has been publicly reported. Tar Heel extraordinaire Michael Jordan is involved in basketball decisions in Charlotte, though, so you know he’s got a close eye on Jackson.
Denver reportedly met with Jackson at the NBA Combine but haven’t brought him in as of now. Finally, Miami has also not shown public interest, but there is a lot of speculation that their front office has their eyes on him. Further, Jackson said after the Combine that he had talked to 10 teams, with all of whom he communicated well. This obviously includes teams not on this list, but this information has not come up as of now.
Tony Bradley has also had a busy offseason. Two weeks ago, he had scheduled meetings with the Knicks (picking 44th), Los Angeles Lakers (picking 28th), San Antonio Spurs (picking 29th), Milwaukee Bucks (picking 17th and 48th), and Oklahoma City Thunder (picking 21st).
He also interviewed with the Detroit Pistons (picking 12th) during the NBA Combine, after which he made clear to the Detroit Free Press that he believes he can play both the 4 and 5 positions in the NBA. As mentioned above, the Dallas Mavericks (picking 9th) have since been linked to Bradley as well. A lot of teams that aren’t drafting in Bradley’s range seem to be interested in him, so a trade for Bradley is definitely not out of the question. Maybe this is the kind of guarantee he got...
Kennedy Meeks, for a player who most believed would go undrafted, has gotten a couple of looks. In the past week, he has visited the Lakers (no picks in the 2nd round) and the Phoenix Suns (picking 54th).
His classmate Nate Britt worked out with the Toronto Raptors. It will be a big surprise if Britt is drafted, but he will get some work in the Summer League and it’s good to see him getting his name out there.
Finally, Isaiah Hicks has been relatively quiet since his excellent Combine. He had interviews there with the Golden State Warriors (no picks), Miami (no picks in the 2nd round), Milwaukee (picking 48th), Houston Rockets (picking 43rd and 45th), Washington Wizards (picking 52nd), and Los Angeles Clippers (no picks), but does not seem to have had any workouts since then.
There is still plenty of time, however, as there is for all the other players listed here. With four more weeks, there is a lot yet to happen, and we shall continue to monitor what teams are showing interest in drafting this year’s Tar Heels.