Sean Merriman, web editor, Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, May 10, 2016

The NBA Draft is just over a month away and players are getting ready to participate in the upcoming combine in preparation for the big night.

[ MORE: Twelve Big Ten players invited to NBA Draft Combine ]

As it stands right now, 12 former Big Ten standouts have been invited to participate in the combine, which is set to take place May 11-15 in Chicago.

The new draft rules allow underclassmen players to go through the pre-draft process all the way through the combine. Those who haven?t signed with agents have 10 days (May 25) after the combine to withdraw their name from the draft.

Diamond Stone, Caris LeVert, Deyonta Davis and Denzel Valentine are a few Big Ten names that have been pegged as potential first round draft picks.

With that said, I proposed the following question to senior writer Tom Dienhart: Which former Big Ten star in this year's draft would you choose to start an NBA franchise?

Tom and I debate that question here.

Which former Big Ten star in this year's NBA Draft would you choose to start a franchise?


I would go with Denzel Valentine of Michigan State. Can any player in this draft impact a game on more levels? Nope. Valentine is the ultimate jack-of-all trades, a true Swiss army knife who can play the point, off guard and small forward with aplomb while hitting jumpers or driving to the hoop. Valentine also can defend and is a fabulous passer. And did I mention he?s also a selfless player who spills his guts on the court for his team?

Yes, there may be sexier players in this draft who can shoot better, dribble more deftly and look better in shorts and a tank top. But no player embodies what it means to be a complete player and teammate than Valentine.


It is awfully tough for me to not side with Valentine as well here, but I'm going with Diamond Stone. It is so rare in this day and age to find a true franchise big man in the NBA, and Stone could very-well fit that description. He is 6-11, 255 pounds of pure power and strength. In fact, there were multiple times last year when I remember asking myself — why are the Terps not going to this guy more often?

While I do think Valentine is the safer pick, Stone has a higher ceiling. Remember, he is only 19 years old and is still growing into his already NBA-ready body. If he can land with the right team and continue to develop his low-post game, this kid has the potential to be one of the best big men in the NBA in 3-4 years. Yes, I know that is bold, but there was a reason every scout in America had Stone pegged as a five-star prospect coming out of high school.