With the college basketball season over, we turn our attention to the upcoming NBA Draft. While the Pac-12 didn’t exactly impress in the NCAA Tournament, (not a single team made it out of the first round) we can at least take comfort in the fact that for the second straight year, the number one pick will likely come from our conference.
Here I will be doing my best to predict where the top players from the Pac-12 will be going.
Note: this isn’t a a prediction on what team will draft the players, only what pick I think they will go as. Draft Predictions will come later.
DeAndre Ayton: Arizona, Center, Freshman
Prediction: first or second overall pick.
As I said before, this is likely the second straight season that a player from the Pac-12 will go number one overall. Ayton was a man among boys this season and he checks a lot of boxes as a big man in today’s game. He’s fast, athletic, can competently handle the ball, is a dominant rebounder and has a developing jump shot that should improve over time. Ayton has work to do to improve defensively, but that should develop with more coaching in the pros.
The only prospect who could supplant Ayton as the top pick is the European phenom, Luka Doncic, but I think Ayton will go first and Doncic second. Ayton’s combination of established talent and upside is too good to pass on.
Troy Brown: Oregon, Forward, Freshman
Prediction: 15th-19th overall pick.
Brown had a solid first and only season with Oregon, where he showed a knack for scoring off the dribble and in transition. A solid rebounder/defender, Brown has potential but needs to improve his shooting and become a more consistent player. Often times, Oregon went as both Troy and Elijah Brown went. If they struggled, Oregon generally struggled.
I’m guessing Brown will go anywhere from the end of the lottery to the end of the first round. He’s a solid prospect who’s best game is yet to come and I would be very surprised if he fell out of the first round.
Aaron Holiday: UCLA, Guard, Junior
Prediction: 20th-32nd overall pick.
Holiday is a prospect who used a solid season to boost his name into first round consideration. Taking over the point from Lonzo Ball, Aaron displayed his talent as an athletic scoring point guard that can knock it down from any spot on the court. Holiday projects well as backup point guard, as his size and defensive limitations could possibly hold him back.
While he was more of a scorer than a passer at UCLA, Holiday has the skills to become a better passer at the next level. I believe he is a late first round pick and will be drafted for need rather than potential/as best player available. It also doesn’t hurt that he has two brothers, Jrue and Justin currently playing in the NBA.
Allonzo Trier: Arizona, Guard, Junior
Prediction: 45th-60th overall pick/undrafted free agent.
Trier comes out of Arizona with the reputation of a good scorer who can shoot it from anywhere, with defensive limitations and can’t seem to stay out of trouble. After foregoing the Draft last season, Trier returned to school in an attempt to boost his stock, but now he risks going undrafted entirely.
While scorers will always have a place in the NBA (see Beasley, Michael), Trier needs to prove that he can develop into a more well-rounded player if he wants to stick in the big leagues. Getting suspended twice for PEDs puts Trier on thin ice, but developing his game and showing that he can avoid trouble will definitely help. I have him going anywhere from mid-second round to being an undrafted free agent.
Chimezie Metu: USC, Forward/Center, Junior
Prediction: 25th-40th overall pick.
Metu is an athletic big who runs the floor well and has a lot of potential to be a defensive game changer. He is a decent playmaker for a player of his size and there is some potential to be a stretch big, but he has some ways to go in order to reach that stage.
While talent isn’t a question, his consistency is, as it frequently is with young college players. There is no doubt that Metu has grown by leaps and bounds since his freshman season, improving as both a scorer and a defender, but he still has some room to grow. Look for him to go as a best-player-available situation towards the end of the first round/early second.
All of the players listed here have what it takes to make it in the NBA, but also have room to improve. No prospect is perfect coming out of college and i wouldn’t label any of these as finished projects. Stay tuned as I predict where these guys go when the NBA Draft rolls around.