The NBA Draft is just over one week away, which means that former Big Ten stars such as Noah Vonleh, Nik Stauskas, Gary Harris, Adreian Payne and Mitch McGary, among others, will soon find out where their NBA homes will be. It also means that NBA general managers are doing their homework and completing their final evaluations.
Being an NBA GM is no easy job, but let’s flip the script and put yourself in those shoes. If you were an NBA general manager, which former Big Ten standout would you want on your team the most?
I asked the BTN.com team that very question, and you can see our answers in the post below.
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STEPHEN BARDO: Noah Vonleh, Indiana. He wasn’t a featured player in Indiana’s system, yet he is a Top 10 lottery lock. His athleticism, size, demeanor, and work ethic are impressive. He’s still very young and will progress quickly under the right guidance for a more open game. I think Vonleh possesses the ability to eventually move his game to more face-up than post-up. He’s not going to a good team so his role will depend heavily on where he goes. I remember the Indiana coaches raving about his attitude and passion for the game. He took coaching very well, even when he wasn’t getting the ball. His efficiency this season with limited touches had to be near or at the top of the Big Ten.
SEAN MERRIMAN: Adreian Payne, Michigan State. It is fascinating to me that a 6-10, 240 pound power forward who can shoot from outside, as well as dominate inside, is not higher up on team’s NBA Draft boards. I understand that his age (23) doesn’t do him any favors, but this guy has all the needed attributes to have a successful career at the NBA level. Payne can score in a variety of ways, whether it be posting up, shooting from long range, or taking it to the hoop off the dribble. Playing under Tom Izzo, you also know that Payne is a solid defender, which seems like such a rarity in the NBA in this day and age. It’s tough to find a weakness in his game, which is why if I were an NBA GM, I would want this guy on my roster.
BRENT YARINA: Nik Stauskas, Michigan. The critics will point to his defense, but few NBA prospects are flawless. Make no mistake, it’s Stauskas’ stroke, athleticism, confidence and ability to distribute that will make him an immediate success. This is a “cold-blooded” player who isn’t afraid to take the big shot; in fact, Stauskas is cocky, a quality that fuels his game and often irritates opponents. A prospect who made significant strides from his freshman to sophomore seasons, Stauskas is trending in the right direction and showcased he can thrive as a role player (No. 3 scorer on 2013 national runner-up) or a star (2014 Big Ten Player of the Year).