Tonight is the annual NBA Draft and it is regarded as one of the worst in years. Is it as bad as Michael Olowokandi going No. 1 overall in 1998? I don't think it is quite that bad, but that explains why the NBA after the second Michael Jordan retirement was pretty awful for a few years. Only five players from that Draft were ever selected for an All-Star Team and only three of those (Paul Pierce, Dirk Nowitzki, and Vince Carter) ever made an all-NBA team.
It is generally expected that this draft is full of solid role players, but no sure-thing Hall of Famers. Much of the talent is expected to be in next year's Draft with a huge crop of one-and-dones.
As Purdue fans we have been in a pretty good position on Draft night of late. Last year Robbie Hummel went to the Timberwolves. The year before that we had JaJuan Johnson and E`Twaun Moore going to the Celtics. In 2010 there was at least the hope that someone would pick Chris Kramer. In 2007 Carl Landry was picked in the second round and has built himself a nice NBA career.
Going forward, what are the chances that Draft night becomes a regular party for Purdue fans? Well, let's look based on the current roster.
2013 Draftees: Likely None
Purdue only has two players draft eligible tonight: D.J. Byrd and Dru Anthrop. It would be absolutely shocking if either was selected. Of the two, only Byrd has even a small chance of getting picked. If teams saw his shooting before this season and how he could be a complimentary weapon of the bench there is a small possibility he gets selected, but it is highly unlikely. He doesn't fit the mold for any position and really has one strength: he can shoot when teams lose him defensively. Even then, he is streaky. With 48 underclassmen declared, 18 international players, and all the graduating seniors I would be stunned if anyone takes Byrd tonight.
We could see a Purdue guy in next season's draft, but much of it depends on how the 2013-14 season goes. Errick Peck, Travis Carroll, Sterling Carter, and TJ are the players that will exhaust their eligibility and of them, I can really only TJ having a chance. He would likely need a season that sees him become a first-team all-Big Ten player and even then NBA teams would want him to play the point like E'Twaun does at times.
Hammons, however, is far more likely to get picked if he declares after two seasons. He already has the size that has him at least getting looks. If he has a big 2013-14 season (I am talking an average of 18-10 per game) he could easily jump into the first round if not the lottery. He presents the rare true center that plays near the basket. He has already had some good games, but with consistency as a sophomore and a good season overall from the Boilers I wouldn't be surprised if he made the jump early.
2015 Draftees: Hammons, Ronnie Johnson
If Hammons stays three years the likelihood of him staying all four seems small. It is almost like there is a breaking point for college bigs. They are either hot NBA prospects and leave early or they won't get drafted period. I guess it comes from most people thinking that if they can't prove themselves and dominate in three years the fourth year doesn't matter. Because of that, I think Hammons is gone by this season at the latest.
Ronnie Johnson is here mostly on speculation. He is not exactly Trey Burke, but with two more years of seasoning he could be a really, really good point guard for a team. Even as a poor shooter he averaged 10.3 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists as a true freshman in one of the toughest Big Ten seasons in decades. His shooting improved drastically as the season went on as well.
Say Ronnie starts dropping a 15-7-5 with consistency and is a catalyst on a Purdue team that breaks through and makes the 2015 Final Four in Indianapolis with Hammons anchoring the middle. How is that different from what Burke did this last season? A consistent jumper might be the only thing separating him from that. He is at least on a level playing field with Kevin Ferrell at Indiana and the two have some excellent battled at the point ahead of them (If Delaney lets Purdue and Indiana play, that is).
RJ would be a senior after this season, so I think we can at least expect him to be in the discussion by then based on his freshman season. The only reason he would be is that he did not improve at all in the following three years.
For Simpson, this would mean and early departure, but coach Painter has been very high on him. Much depends on how he comes out of this redshirt year. He at least has the size to turn heads, but we still know so little about him.
As for Davis, we have seen flashes. The Notre Dame game, the regular season finale against Minnesota, the game against Michigan at Mackey. The kid can clearly play and is a hard worker, but he needs consistency. He has a very similar body type to Victor Oladipo, who could easily be a top 5 pick tonight and is a prime example of how hard work can pay off. Could that be Ray D. in a few years? I hope so.
2017 Draftees: Simpson, Basil Smotherman, Kendall Stephens, Bryson Scott
This is obviously way, way out there, but all four could see their names called depending on how the next four seasons go. We've discussed Simpson, but Smotherman could be an excellent athletic defender that evolves into a two-way player. Bryson Scott is tough as nails and could make the NBA simply on motivation from someone telling him he can't. Stephens could make it as a guy that can fill it up and has the size to play on the perimeter.