If it’s Saturday, it must be the roundtable. Where I ask the staff a question and share their thoughts with you.
As this article will be posted on Saturday the 27th of May we will be just 4 days away from the deadline to withdrawal from the NBA draft and return to school with eligibility intact. This obviously will mean a lot for Purdue. Given everything we’ve seen about Zach Edey’s performance at the NBA Combine do you think it’s more or less likely that he comes back and why? Plus, what’s your final guess as to if he returns.
I’ve felt all along that Edey was going to come back. Not because I don’t think he’s talented enough to be a professional but simply because the NBA isn’t the same as it was 30 years ago. 30 years ago Edey is probably a high first round pick. Now, I’m not so sure what his place is in the modern NBA, Edey needs to show an ability to hit mid range and deeper jumpers as well as defend much more athletic bigs.
I’ll grant that Edey did great at the Combine, as we knew he would, but I’m sure a lot of NBA execs want to see him hit these shots and show that speed on defense in actual game play and not on their payroll. They know that if Edey goes back to Purdue he gets one more year of seasoning at no cost to them and he can show additional skills. Matt Painter has been known to allow his guys to try additional things in order to make their NBA prospects better and I’d expect that to be the case with Edey next year. Expect him to have more freedom on offense to take some jumpers.
All that’s a long way of saying that I expect Edey back for one more year.
A month ago, I thought the answer was pretty easy for Zach. Yes, he had one of the best college basketball seasons from an individual player in the last 20 years or so but it appeared getting drafted was still out of reach. However, he went to the NBA Draft Combine and performed really well and then the videos surfaced of his workout that saw him looking very quick for his size with an ability to hit jump shots at from 15-23 feet and looking good doing it. This shouldn’t be a surprise as he is a 70%+ free throw shooter and that typically translates to that facet of the game most times, but Edey literally took zero shots from that range in his first three seasons with Purdue.
I think the biggest thing recently for Edey was his quickness and agility times as compared to other big men in this draft who haven’t had the ‘he is too big and can’t move’ argument thrown around about them for years. Edey timed in at a 11.37 lane agility time, and although not breaking records with that time, he timed better than Adama Sanogo (C-UCONN), Emoni Bates (PF-EMU), Kobe Bufkin (SG-Michigan), Trayce Jackson-Davis (C-Indiana), Oscar Tshiebwe (C-UK), and Ryan Kalkbrenner (C-Creighton). He also timed faster than Grady Dick (SG-Kansas) in the three-quarter court sprint.
With that in mind and the way he has shown in the workout season, I think Zach ends up leaving and gets drafted late in the first round as a high value pick. If the event he does drop to the second round, a team will likely give him a guaranteed deal to give him some time to show development since he has proven he isn’t just a tall, stiff, unathletic big man like Tacko Fall.
I really was in the “team come back” camp after the season. I didn’t know how high he’d get drafted and figured he may have some unfinished business after FDU… I mean the tournament being cancelled this year. After hearing his combine performance I’m leaning towards him leaving. Even if he doesn’t get a high draft pick he can still work solely on what needs to be developed at the next level. He can hire a coach to help develop his outside game and focus all his energy on that. Painter wants to win games next season obviously, it’s his job. I’m certain he wants Edey back but can he promise to let him work on that or will he be pigeon holed in his original role? I’m guessing conversations will be had on that but my gut is telling me he’s gone. My gut also said we were going to a final four so take that as you will.
I think the NBA Combine did nothing but help Zach Edey as it proved he’s laterally quicker than we all thought and just a sheer monster in size. That said, I don’t think it was enough to sway teams to take him that much earlier in the draft, if at all. I still believe that Zach will be playing for Purdue next year and bringing in huge endorsement deals under NIL. He reportedly made around 800k last year so I think it’s definitely in the realm of possibility for Big Maple to continue to hone his skills for the NBA at Purdue and earn a seven-figure paycheck.