For the second time in four years, the first name called in the NBA draft could belong to a former Duke player. If that happens Thursday night, they could end up on the same team.
Jabari Parker could go first overall to the Cleveland Cavaliers, joining Kyrie Irving, the first pick in the 2011 draft. Parker likely will be the first of four former Triangle products expected to be picked in the first round, along with teammate Rodney Hood, North Carolina’s P.J. Hairston and N.C. State’s T.J. Warren. Another Tar Heel, James Michael McAdoo, widely is projected as a second-round pick.
It’s hard to read the tea leaves and separate fact from fiction ahead of the draft (7:30 p.m., ESPN). But here is our best breakdown of the future for the former Duke and UNC standouts:
Jabari Parker• 2013-14 numbers: 19.1 points per game, 8.7 rebounds per game, 30.7 minutes per game
• In college: Duke’s offense primarily revolved around Parker. The Blue Devils’ offensive possessions last season finished with Parker 31.8 percent of the time, the highest percentage of any player since analytics guru Ken Pomeroy began compiling the data. Parker was the first freshman to lead Duke in points and rebounds, and he was the first freshman to earn consensus first-team All-America honors. He was a threat to score from anywhere, shooting 35.8 percent from 3-point range (and 50.4 percent from two-point range). He was named the Blue Devils’ most valuable player.
• Scouts love: Parker is considered the “safest” pick of the contenders to go No. 1 overall – his offensive game is NBA-ready and he is expected to start from Day 1. Given the quality of team he likely will be playing for – either Cleveland (33-49 last season) or Milwaukee (15-67), which is scheduled to pick second – he will be expected to be among the squad’s leading scorers.
• Scouts loathe: If coach Mike Krzyzewski can’t get Parker to play defense, who can? Parker was sitting on the bench through critical stretches of the season-ending loss to Mercer because he was such a defensive liability. Defending won’t get easier in the NBA. Questions have risen about Parker’s conditioning. According to an ESPN report, he showed up for his workout in Cleveland out of shape.
• Best draft case: Parker is projected to go No. 1 or No. 2 overall. He and his camp strongly prefer ending up in Milwaukee.
• Worst draft case: Going No. 1 overall to Cleveland. Not bad, huh?
• Our take: According to ESPN’s Chad Ford, Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert is leaning toward Andrew Wiggins while the rest of the front office prefers Parker. After Cleveland’s head-scratching decision to take Anthony Bennett No. 1 last year, can anyone really predict what will happen? One thing is certain: Parker’s wait in the green room won’t be long.
Rodney Hood• 2013-14 numbers: 16.1 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 32.9 mpg
• In college: Hood was option No. 2 behind Parker, but he frequently had the ball in critical end-of-game situations, including vs. Vermont, at Notre Dame, twice against Syracuse and vs. Clemson in the ACC tournament. He ended 22.5 percent of Duke’s possessions while on the floor, second highest on the team. Hood was Duke’s best defender, frequently tasked with guarding an opponent’s most effective scorer.
• Scouts love: Hood is projected as one of the best shooters in the draft. His left-handed stroke is quite efficient and he has good range. He can score off the dribble or spotting up. His height (6-foot-8) is a plus, too.
• Scouts loathe: Hood weighs just 215 pounds, and there are questions as to how strong he can become. Can he get to the basket against bigger and stronger NBA defenders? He’s also old for his class (21), leaving him less potential than some of his peers in the eyes of scouts.
• Best draft case: Hood is a lottery pick, fulfilling the draft potential those around Duke predicted for him one year ago.
• Worst draft case: late first round.
• Our take: Hood seems to have helped his stock during the post-combine workouts. Shooting always will be a coveted asset in the NBA, so look for him to come off the board somewhere in the 13-25 range.
P.J. Hairston• 2013-14 numbers: 32.3 mpg, 21.8 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 1.5 spg (26 games with the Texas Legends of the NBA Development League).
• In college: Hairston was UNC’s most productive offensive player as a sophomore in 2012-13. He entered the starting lineup midway through that season and averaged nearly 20 points per game from that point on. He would have entered his junior season as the focal point of the Tar Heels’ offense, but his trouble-filled summer of 2013 led to the end of his time at UNC.
• Scouts love: There’s no denying Hairston’s shooting ability, which UNC rode to the 2013 NCAA tournament. Even during his freshman season, when he struggled to shoot well, it was clear he had NBA range. He showed significant improvement between his freshman and sophomore seasons and became one of the best scorers in the ACC.
• Scouts loathe: Hairston’s off-the-court issues have created doubts about his character; he undoubtedly has had to answer a lot of questions about his decisions that cost him his college eligibility. On the court, there’s not an aspect of his game that jumps out aside from his shooting and scoring. He has the ability to be a capable rebounder and defender.
• Best draft case: Most projections have Hairston going somewhere in the 20s, and it doesn’t seem too likely that he becomes a surprise mid-first rounder. The Phoenix Suns have three first-round picks and Hairston could get a look at No. 18.
• Worst draft case: Hairston’s place in the first round seems secure, but it wouldn’t be unfathomable for him to go somewhere early in the second.
• Our take: The Memphis Grizzlies need some offense – and a capable perimeter shooting threat – so it would make sense to take Hairston with the 22nd pick.
James Michael McAdoo• 2013-14 numbers: 30.1 mpg, 14.2 ppg, 6.8 rpg.
• In college: McAdoo arrived at UNC as one of the most heralded members of the 2011 recruiting class. While he was productive, he struggled to live up to those expectations. His most memorable stretch likely was when he elevated his play and intensity to help the Tar Heels recover from their 0-3 start in the ACC last season.
• Scouts love: Physically, there’s not much to dislike. McAdoo has quick feet and hands. Though he’s a bit on the small size for an NBA power forward, he’s strong and in excellent condition. He can defend the perimeter and interior, and he’s disruptive in the passing lanes. Offensively, he excels in transition and runs the floor well.
• Scouts loathe: McAdoo never quite seemed to find his niche in UNC’s half-court offense. He seemed to avoid contact down low on offense, and at times he struggled to finish plays at the basket. He was prone to disappearing for long stretches offensively, though he was more assertive during his junior season.
• Best draft case: It’d a be a real surprise if McAdoo went somewhere late in the first round. It’s much more likely that early in the second round is his draft night ceiling.
• Worst draft case: DraftExpress.com, one of the most authoritative predraft resources, didn’t have McAdoo in its most recent mock draft. That would be the worst-case for McAdoo: going undrafted and leaving a year of college eligibility on the table.
• Our take: It’s difficult enough to project likely lottery picks, let alone players most believe will be selected in the second round. McAdoo could go anywhere in the second round, but if he’s around late, San Antonio seems to value players with some of McAdoo’s intangibles.