Doubts are the lifeblood of any draft process, especially in the NBA, where age and potential are considered divergent factors.
To be sure, there are doubts about N.C. State’s T.J. Warren, just not as many as when he decided to go pro two months ago.
Warren, the ACC Player of the Year for the Wolfpack this past season, has steadily worked his way up the NBA draft board – to the point that he will be in the Green Room in New York on Thursday night for the draft.
Warren, a projected top 20 pick, has been impressive in workouts, Wolfpack coach Mark Gottfried said, by showing NBA teams he’s more than just a scorer.
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“All the teams knew he could score; in most of the workouts he has proven that and then some,” Gottfried said.
Warren, projected by DraftXpress to go No. 15 to the Atlanta Hawks and 17th to the Boston Celtics by NBADraft.net, would be the first N.C. State player taken in the first round since J.J. Hickson in 2008 and only the fourth in the past 20 years.
The Durham native, who wasn’t available for this story, would be the first Triangle product to go in the first round since Raleigh’s John Wall in 2010.
Warren, a 6-foot-8, 220-pound small forward, was a proven scorer on the college level. Warren led the ACC, and ranked third in the NCAA, with 24.9 points per game during his sophomore season.
He led the NCAA in field goals made (342) and led the ACC in field goal percentage (52.5). His 871 points established a new single-season school record, breaking the old mark set by the legendary David Thompson in 1975.
Warren was the first N.C. State player since Thompson to score at least 40 points in consecutive games. But Warren has been strong in workouts with his defense and rebounding skills.
“For me scoring the ball so well, people don’t really appreciate the other things I do,” Warren said in his pre-draft media availability in New York on Wednesday. “(I’m) just trying to show my all-around game.”
Warren ranked fourth in the ACC with 1.8 steals and second in offensive rebounds (3.23) per game.
“Teams have been impressed about how quick his hands are,” Gottfried said. “He’s a better defender than most people realize.”
There are still questions about Warren’s overall athletic ability and his shooting range – he was 31 of 116 from the college 3-point line. He had better numbers than Duke’s Jabari Parker, and was selected by the coaches and media as the ACC Player of the Year over Parker, but Parker has a chance to be the No. 1 overall pick on Thursday night.
In terms of scoring small forwards, Warren also is projected to be taken after Creighton’s Doug McDermott.
But Warren has already shown an ability to either carry a team, which he did as a sophomore, or blend in and contribute in a supporting role, which he did as a freshman, averaging 12.1 points in 2012-13.
One big reason the NBA scouts have liked Warren, Gottfried said, is how Warren got in shape after his freshman season. Warren lost 20 pounds and was noticeably fitter during his sophomore season.
Gottfried said it has given Warren a defined position at the “3” in the NBA instead of being between the forward spots.
“(I’ve been) just improving my body even more and keeping a strong focus,” Warren said. “It really translated well to the workouts.”