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2018 NBA Draft: 7 Biggest Movers After March Madness

Michael Porter Jr during the 2017 MCDAAG
Did Michael Porter Jr help or hurt his draft stock in his lone NCAA Tournament game? Photo by Patrick Gorski/Icon Sportswire.
  • NBA hopefuls can seriously impact their draft stock in the NCAA Tournament.
  • Did Donte DiVincenzo turn himself into a top-40 prospect?
  • How did lottery picks Trae Young and Michael Porter Jr. do under the bright lights?

Donte DiVincenzo, Jevon Carter, Rob Gray: if you watched the 2018 NCAA Tournament, you watched all three ball out and boost their NBA Draft stock in the process. But note that I used the word “changed” in the headline instead of “raised,” because not every pro prospect played up to his potential.

*Odds below assume that underclassmen declare for 2018 NBA Draft. 

Donte DiVincenzo (G, Villanova)

DONTE DIVINCENZO GP MPG PPG APG 3P%
2018 NCAA TOURNAMENT STATS 6 27.5 15.0 3.7 50%

Before his monster title-game performance, Nova’s 6th man was not really on the NBA radar, at least not for 2018. The 6’5 guard showed off every facet of his game against Michigan, dropping 31 points on 10-15 shooting (5-7 3P) with five boards, three dimes, and two huge blocks.

While starting point guard Jalen Brunson struggled and got himself into foul trouble, DiVincenzo played the role of primary ball-handler more than usual, and he used the opportunity to showcase his tight handle and off-the-bounce abilities. Anyone who had serious worries about his athleticism should be at ease after seeing this block.

There’s a good chance DiVincenzo returns for his junior season. But he may also view Grayson Allen’s college experience as a warning — Allen’s draft stock was at its highest after he went off in the 2015 title game — and make the jump now.

If he does, he has a shot to go in the first round. Not a great shot, but a shot nonetheless.

OVER/UNDER 2018 NBA DRAFT POSITION … DRAFT SPOT
PRE-2018 NCAA TOURNAMENT UNDRAFTED
POST-2018 NCAA TOURNAMENT 34.5

Trae Young (G, Oklahoma)

TRAE YOUNG GP MPG PPG APG TOPG 3P%
2018 NCAA TOURNAMENT STATS 1 39 28.0 7.0 6.0 33% (3-9)
2017-18 SEASON STATS 32 35.4 27.4 8.7 5.2 36.1%

If Trae Young had kept up his insane early-season pace, he would be in the mix for first overall. But that was never realistic. If he’d only moderately regressed, he would have stayed in the top-five conversation. Unfortunately, he laid some absolute duds in the second half of the year and shot terribly. In the last nine games of the Big 12 season, he connected at just a 23.5% rate from three.

If you’re going to convince scouts you’re the next Steph Curry, you can’t afford slumps like that. Nor can you afford to turn the ball like he did.

If you’re going to convince scouts you’re the next Steph Curry, you can’t afford [to shoot 23.5% from three].

Given how limited Young is defensively, and how average he is finishing at the rim, the decline in accuracy and the turnover issues led to a significant drop in his draft stock, to the point where he fell out of the consensus top six.

He managed to gain some ground back in his one tournament game — an 83-78 OT loss to #7 Rhode Island. Coach Lon Kruger once again asked Young to shoulder basically the entire offensive load against the Rams, and Young responded pretty admirably against URI’s tenacious perimeter defense, especially early when he was still fresh, starting the game 4-4 from the field.

He didn’t finish well at the rim and he committed six turnovers, but he was also the only reason Oklahoma was able to force overtime, dragging his team back from a seven-point second-half hole.

OVER/UNDER 2018 NBA DRAFT POSITION … DRAFT SPOT
PRE-2018 NCAA TOURNAMENT 8.5
POST-2018 NCAA TOURNAMENT 7.5

Rob Gray (G, Houston)

ROB GRAY GP MPG PPG APG RPG FG%
2018 NCAA TOURNAMENT STATS 2 37.5 31.0 1.5 9.0 42.6%
2017-18 SEASON STATS 34 31.9 19.3 4.4 3.7 44.7%

Playing in the under-the-radar AAC, Rob Gray’s dynamic scoring abilities went largely unnoticed during the regular season. But two phenomenal tournament games remedied that. In the Round of 64, he scored a tournament-high 39 points against #11 San Diego State, including an acrobatic game-winning lay-up with one second to go.

He followed that up with a solid 23-point, 10-rebound double-double against Michigan’s elite defense in round two, and would have ousted the national runners-up if not for Jordan Poole’s heroics.

Did that turn him into a legitimate NBA prospect?

No, not really. Gray certainly has a much better chance to be drafted than he did before the tournament, but realistically, his game is too one-dimensional: he can score, but he doesn’t do much else and his range is limited (35.9 3P%). Someone may take a flyer on him at the tail of the second round, at best.

OVER/UNDER 2018 NBA DRAFT POSITION … DRAFT SPOT
PRE-2018 NCAA TOURNAMENT UNDRAFTED
POST-2018 NCAA TOURNAMENT 59.5

Jevon Carter (G, West Virginia)

JEVON CARTER GP MPG PPG APG SPG 3P%
2018 NCAA TOURNAMENT STATS 3 35.0 20.3 7.0 4.7 46.2%
2017-18 SEASON STATS 37 34.6 17.3 6.6 3.0 39.3%

West Virginia guard Jevon Carter had already convinced scouts that he had a viable 3-and-D floor at the next level before the tournament. He used his three March Madness games to raise his perceived ceiling.

The way he was able to generate his own shot and facilitate off the bounce against #12 Murray State and #14 Marshall was impressive. Granted, that wasn’t NBA-level competition, but it’s still what scouts needed to see to move him higher on their big boards.

As a 22-year-old senior, teams will be worried that the 6’2 Carter has already maxed out his potential, so there’s little chance he winds up a first-rounder. Early second is plausible, though, after his sterling tournament, which also put his elite one-on-one defensive game on full display.

OVER/UNDER 2018 NBA DRAFT POSITION … DRAFT SPOT
PRE-2018 NCAA TOURNAMENT 52.5
POST-2018 NCAA TOURNAMENT 46.5

Moritz Wagner (F, Michigan)

MORITZ WAGNER GP MPG PPG RPG FG% 3P%
2018 NCAA TOURNAMENT STATS 6 29.8 15.0 7.3 52.3% 38.5%
2017-18 SEASON STATS 39 27.6 14.6 7.1 52.8% 39.4%

Michigan’s leading scorer was up and down in the tournament, but mostly up. He continued to display a versatile offensive game with heady post moves and decent range. He was also good on the glass, especially against Loyola in the Final Four, grabbing 15 boards, including six at the offensive end. Neither his offensive upside nor his hustle will be in question when draft day rolls around.

What will be in question is his defense. Wagner was routinely victimized in the post by Cameron Krutwig in the semifinals, and watched Eric Paschall beat him to the rim in the title game. At 6’11, 231 pounds, he doesn’t seem to have the size to be a rim protector, and he also doesn’t have the footspeed to defend quicker bigs on the perimeter, at least not the type that he’ll see in the pros.

His stock is nonetheless higher after a solid overall tournament.

OVER/UNDER 2018 NBA DRAFT POSITION … DRAFT SPOT
PRE-2018 NCAA TOURNAMENT 48.5
POST-2018 NCAA TOURNAMENT 44.5

 

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (G, Kentucky)

SHAI GILGEOUS-ALEXANDER GP MPG PPG APG RPG 3P%
2018 NCAA TOURNAMENT STATS 3 38.3 20.3 6.0 6.3 50%
2017-18 SEASON STATS 37 33.7 14.4 5.1 4.1 40.4%

One of John Calipari’s more unassuming freshman at the start of the year, Kentucky’s 6’6 point guard put himself in the lottery conversation around mid-season when he took over the starting role from Quade Green. From Jan. 6 onward, he averaged over 36 minutes, nearly 16 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 5.7 assists per night, while shooting almost 50% from the field. In the 14 games prior, he averaged 28.9 MPG, 12.1 PPG, 3.5 RPG, and 4.1 APG.

When March Madness rolled around, he raised his game even further, averaging over 20 points in three tournament games to go along with six dimes and over six boards.

Yes, he missed the would-be game-tying shot when Kentucky fell to #9 Kansas State, but when you couple his innate defensive talent, his 6’11 wingspan, his ability to get into the lane, and his smooth and improving stroke, the combination is a sure-fire top-15 pick.

OVER/UNDER 2018 NBA DRAFT POSITION … DRAFT SPOT
PRE-2018 NCAA TOURNAMENT  13.5
POST-2018 NCAA TOURNAMENT  11.5

 

Michael Porter Jr. (F, Missouri)

MICHAEL PORTER JR. GP MPG PPG RPG FG% 3P%
2018 NCAA TOURNAMENT STATS 1 28 16.0 10.0 33.3% (4-12) 25% (1-4)
2017-18 SEASON STATS 2* 25.5 14.0 9.0 33.3% (10-30) 30% (3-10)

*Porter technically played in three games, but was only on the court for two minutes in the first. That game has been excluded from the stats above.

Thanks to a back injury kept him off the court for almost four months, it didn’t look like scouts would ever get a meaningful look at Michael Porter Jr., who had a chance to go first overall entering the season. The 6’10 forward managed to return in the SEC tournament, however, and suit up for Missouri’s one tournament game.

Whether that actually constitutes a “meaningful look” is debatable, though, since Porter was clearly less than 100% and out of game shape.

In addition to obvious injury concerns going forward, the worrying part of Porter’s brief college career was his shot selection. He was constantly jacking up tough looks instead of distributing, which was a knock on him coming out of high school as well.

But the NBA is starved for wings right now, and Porter would be a welcome addition to almost every team picking in the top ten if he gets back to his high-school form. He flashed enough of his huge upside to remain a top-six pick.

OVER/UNDER 2018 NBA DRAFT POSITION … DRAFT SPOT
PRE-2018 NCAA TOURNAMENT 4.5
POST-2018 NCAA TOURNAMENT 5.0
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Sascha was a hockey player in his youth. He gave that up to do something much more practical: become a lawyer. He gave that up to do something much more enjoyable: write about sports. SBD's lead odds-maker/number cruncher since 2014, Sascha writes and edits about anything and everything you can possibly put odds on. He's happiest when those things are baseball, hockey, football, and basketball, though. In his spare time, Sascha likes watching Jeopardy with his wife, building train sets with his son, and pretending he's still an athlete, not necessarily in that order.