The NBA Draft takes place Thursday night in New York City. While NBA fans in Seattle no longer have a local interest, Marquese Chriss and Dejounte Murray should hear their names called on draft night.
The duo were invited by the NBA to New York to attend the draft in person. Only 16 players received such an invite. The invite is hedging that Adam Silver will call their names in the top half of the first round on Thursday. A quarter of the players invited were from the Pac-12 as The Vertical reported Cal’s Jaylen Brown and Utah’s Jakob Poeltl on the list of in-person attendees. Notably, Washington and Kentucky are the only two schools with multiple players invited Thursday.
As Husky fans know, Chriss and Murray decided to leave school immediately after the Husky season to enter the NBA Draft. Both hired agents. Chriss signed with Kobe Bryant’s agent (and former Michigan Wolverine basketball player) Rob Pelinka. Murray signed with LeBron James’s sports agency and is represented by Rich Paul.
Both are projected to be taken in the first round of the two-round NBA Draft.
As with the NBA Draft, picking players is premised upon potential rather than whether the player is ready. As many Seattle Supersonics fans recall, Robert Swift was a lottery pick due to his potential. We know how that turned out. Of course, we hope for a better outcome for Chriss and Murray.
Many laud the tremendous upside of Chriss. Marketers think the same as Chriss secured a shoe deal with Nike. He's shot up the mock drafts since announcing his intent to go pro. Still, some have their reservations about him.
There is also this issue:
Chriss is projected to go in the lottery. A reason his stock has gone up in the months leading up to this week is his length and athleticism. He's able to be a rim protector and can step out and hit a shot. NBA.com, ESPN’s Chad Ford, and DraftExpress.com are among those that project Chriss to go as high as 4th to the Phoenix Suns. If picked by the Suns, Chriss could slide right into the starting lineup after the team got rid of Markieff Morris at the trade deadline this past season.
Murray is projected as a mid-to-late first-round pick. NBA.com sees him going at number 20 to the Indiana Pacers. The Vertical sees him going later than that, to the 76ers at 26th. Teams like his size for his position, his ability to get to the basket, and his athleticism. Of course, teams question his shooting prowess and turnovers.
It looks like Murray is working on his shot.
Murray will need to put in the necessary work with a team and may have to learn while being a 12th man.
One could only think "what if" if Chriss and Murray had stayed to play one more year for Lorenzo Romar. But, it looks like both Chriss and Murray should realize their goal of playing in the NBA. Whether or not they are ready really is not relevant. Teams are willing to make an investment in them based on their physical attributes and potential. Ultimately, it's up to the player to determine whether he is willing to put in the time and effort to be a contributing player in the NBA.
As for the top of the draft, the consensus is that LSU’s Ben Simmons and Duke Brandon Ingram will go 1-2 in the draft. Simmons will be with the Philadelphia 76ers and Ingram will head to the Lakers.