"My rule was I wouldn't recruit a kid if he had grass in front of his house.
That's not my world. My world was a cracked sidewalk." —Al McGuire

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

CrackedSidewalks interview with DraftExpress

I had the pleasure of speaking with Jonathan Givony today about Vander Blue and other Marquette players and their perspective NBA draft status.  Givony is the owner and founder of DraftExpress.com.  The site has information on the top high school, college and international basketball players as well as the D-League.  Part of what draws fans to their site is the mock drafts they do for the NBA.  Though it is not an exact science, Givony and his team do their best to talk to agents, GMs, coaches and others to get a feel for where a player may be drafted.

Today we caught Givony on the phone in Portland where he is attending the Nike Hoops Summit and asked him some questions about Vander Blue and other Marquette related topics.

Q:  Were you surprised to hear Vander Blue declare for the 2013 NBA Draft yesterday?

A:   I was not totally surprised because I had numerous agents call me throughout the year and especially in the month of March asking my thoughts on where he might get drafted.  They were telling me he really wanted to enter the draft and essentially didn't want to take no for an answer as he was determined to find someone to tell him he was a first round pick.  Most of the people I spoke with believe he is probably a second round pick that could work his way up, but that he would be better off going back for his senior year because he is very young for his class...he is only 20 years old.  Blue would be a young senior at 21 if he had returned.

Q: Is it your opinion that he is probably a second rounder?

A:  Tough to say what every NBA team thinks. It's very possible 25 or 26 teams feel one way, but if one or two teams like him in the first round, they might take him.  Or maybe some say they will take him early in the second round.  He was very active early on getting information about the NBA so its possible that some discussions have been had that lead to an earlier pick based on those discussions.  But my general projection is that he is a second round pick right now that could work his way up.  Depends how he does in workouts, interviews.   (EDITOR NOTE: as of today, DraftExpress has him going 26th in the second round, or the 56th overall player out of 60)

Q: What are his weaknesses or strengths?  Is size a hindrance?

A: I don't think he has bad size for a shooting guard, he doesn't have great size but he's not too small for that position. He needs to improve his shooting.  He's not a guy that can't shoot, he's made some 3's, but his shot selection isn't great, which he will have to work on.  I don't think it's out of the question that he develops and improves his shooting.  Wes Matthews, wasn't a great shooter at Marquette, but he developed into a good shooter in the NBA and is paid a lot of money as a result.  You can't rule out that Blue won't improve in this area like Matthews, but it depends on his work ethic.

Q: When you put your mock draft together, do you only focus on players that are for sure coming out or do you speculate also on those you think might come out?  Vander Blue wasn't listed in your mock draft for 2013, but is listed in 2014 as a first rounder for example.

A: We try to project who we think is going to come out based on what we are hearing.  Also some educated speculation, for example, we had Phil Pressey in our draft all year long because he is older and we expected him to go to the draft.  We also had Marcus Smart in our mock draft for 2013, but were surprised last night when he decided to go back to school so he is no longer on the board this year.  Its not an exact science. I thought Vander Blue was going to go back to school from what we heard, but then he changed his mind and decided to enter so now he is in our mock draft.

Q:  Your perception of the draft this year?  Is it weak and driving people to enter early?

A:  You need to separate different parts of the draft.  If you are the Bobcats, Cavaliers, or Magic, for them it might be a weak draft because for them they probably won't get the return on their very high picks they would hope for.  There aren't many sure fire superstars at the top.  However, as you move
down the board there are a lot of good players, good depth.  Teams in the mid first round or later, they are excited about this draft.  They know there will a number of interesting prospects to choose from.  There's a ton of big men, which you usually don't see, some good wing players, some depth at some positions.  I think this is a pretty normal draft to be honest with you, but it depends really from where you are drafting.

Q: One final question, what are your thoughts of Davante Gardner and Jamil Wilson of Marquette and their NBA draft prospects?

A: Both of them have very interesting attributes that will be interesting for the NBA.  Wilson has great size and length for a 3, some decent versatility.  Needs to be more consistent as he can fade in some games and you wonder if he needs a bit more toughness.  I think he is someone that has a chance to help himself with a strong senior year.  Gardner, if he has a really good off-season and loses some more weight, he can be a very interesting prospect.  He is so productive, even with limited minutes.  Great hands, great touch, great feet and he's pretty skilled player offensively and rebounds, too.  If he has a good off-season and into play next year, he can creep up into some discussions.  He led the Big East in PER (Player Efficiency Rating), which is pretty impressive.

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