On June 20, Jordan Poole, Ignas Brazdeikis and Charles Matthews will have a new home — that is, assuming all three are drafted on draft night. With none of them expected to come off the draft board in the first round, the former Wolverines figure to be available in the second round and even after the draft.
“In the second round, you're not drafting stars, you're drafting guys you expect to make your team,” said ESPN analyst Jay Bilas on a conference call. “You would like to be rotation players, perhaps one day starters. But it's pretty rare that you get to middle of the second round finding a star-caliber player. It's not unheard of, but it's pretty darn rare.”
Bilas had high praise for Poole and Brazdeikis and believes that both have shown enough to get drafted in the second half of the night. Though Poole seemed to show more promise with his shooting and ability to pass, Bilas admired Brazdeikis’ aggressive mindset. But regardless of each player’s pros, Bilas indicated that both are still raw talents that have a long way to go before becoming a staple in the NBA.
“Jordan Poole would be probably the best prospect of the three (Michigan players), I would say,” Bilas said. “He's a good creator, I think a good passer. Did a good job of seeing open people off of ball screens. I think he could be a secondary ball handler in the NBA and facilitate at times. But a good, solid shooter. Shot just under 40% from three, makes over 80% of his free throws.
“I think Ignas Brazdeikis has a good shot of getting drafted. I've got him ranked right in the second round. Another guy that's got talent, tough-minded. I think he has ability to play in the NBA. He can score, he can use either hand. He shot a pretty decent percentage from three.
I think he's going to continue to get better. One of the things I liked about him a lot is he attacks closeouts, doesn't shy away from anything.”
The oldest, and perhaps most NBA-ready, is Charles Matthews. In pre-draft workouts, he proved himself to be one of the best defensive prospects in the draft after anchoring Michigan on that end of the floor for the last two years.
But on June 8, his journey took a turn for the worst when he tore his ACL in a pre-draft workout with the Boston Celtics. As a result, Matthews may have to play his way onto a professional league roster once he’s completed his recovery, though Bilas hopes teams will recognize his motor and defensive potential on draft night.
However, with poor shooting performances during the NBA Combine backed by subpar shooting percentages as a Wolverine, Matthews’ draft stock is very much up in the air.
“I was really sad to see that Charles Matthews got injured because I think he would have been drafted,” Bilas said. “It will be interesting to see whether that injury affects that. He's well-built for an NBA player, so he's got size, a wingspan of 6-foot-9, 6-foot-10. Can guard multiple positions. I always saw him as being a solid defender, he can switch. He's got a good motor, plays really hard.”
With former Michigan coach John Beilein with the Cleveland Cavaliers, it’s safe to assume that each Wolverine will get looks from their college mentor — Brazdeikis even had a pre-draft workout with Beilein and the Cavaliers on Monday.
And though nothing is guaranteed, expect at least one of the Michigan trio to have his name called towards the end of the night.