"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

Saturday, May 07, 2016

Henry Ellenson's draft stock - An interview with DraftExpress founder Jonathan Givony

I was fortunate to spend a few minutes yesterday with Jonathan Givony, the founder of DraftExpress to discuss Henry Ellenson and the 2016 NBA draft.  Givony has been kind enough over the last four or five years to give his time to us as he has weighed in on MU draft hopefuls like Vander Blue, Jimmy Butler, Dominic James, Steve Novak and Wes Matthews.

Jonathan and his wife Rebecca just had a baby last week, so we kept the questions short and sweet.

Cracked Sidewalks:  Why do you have Henry at #9?  Earlier in the year you had him as high as 5 or 6.  Other mock draft sites and draft experts have Henry anywhere from 5 to 18.   That seems a pretty big range for someone that is considered a top ten pick.  What have you seen that puts him in that 9 or 10 spot at this point?

Jonathan Givony:  If you are top 10 pick, that's pretty good.  That shows how good we think he is, nothing negative.  We are always evaluating not just against yourself, but others in the draft class.  Other guys are stepping up, improving their draft stock, so some guys will move down when others move up.  There is a give and take.   

I would say some of it, if he were in the draft 5 years ago, there might be a little more excitement about him.  That 6'10" power forward who struggles on defense and doesn't really give you a lot of rim protection to be a full-time small ball center, there isn't as big of an appetite now for those guys now as there was 5 years ago for guys like that.  There is more of a trend moving toward guys that block shots, or more agile and mobile in terms of moving their feet and guarding on the perimeter. That isn't to say he can't get there.  I think he already made and improved substantially just off this year in college, the kid is 19 years old, so hard to say he can't continue to improve moving forward.

CS:  Does he have the athleticism at the NBA level to guard the type of guys he has to guard.  Secondly, does he have the shooting skills today to play on the outside, if needed?  Can he make the improvements there to be an outside threat

JG:  I think a lot of guys...there's not many 6'10 or 6"11" guys that start off where he is as a shooter, especially those that can do other things, too.  I think he will continue to improve there over time. He's not consistent right now, shoot's it a little flat, has a little extra motion going on. He's probably better in the mid-range spots than at the three.  He will get there, but you're not going to throw him into a NBA playoff game tomorrow and say go to make shots for me.  He's more like an all around scorer, but not necessarily a great shooter.

CS:  A general question about the draft and the NBDL.  Seems like the last few years a rather large number of draft picks have been sent down to the D-League to work on their game as opposed to say 5 years ago.  Do you see this as a potential option for Ellenson...I know that is difficult to answer without knowing who is going to draft him.

JG:   The NBA has become a lot more closely with the D-League, adding their own franchises.  Teams understand they need to invest in it, more money into scouting, coaching staffs, facilities and such.  It's really no longer a negative to send a guy down to the D-League at all.  You're giving them extra reps with an extension of your coaching staff, put them in real games, real situations, and help them work on the things you want them to improve on.  A lot of the best teams in the NBA utilize the D-League really well.  The Spurs, Oklahoma City, Cleveland, Toronto, and others are very invested.  That's the difference between now and 5 years ago.  They may not have seen the value, but the D-League has become so much more serious, more professional and a good place to develop young players.

CS:   Final question.  Final prognostication.  If you were to think 10 to 12 years down the road, is Henry a future all-star or more of a 12 and 6 type guy.  One of the criticisms that we have heard some Marquette fans or basketball fans in general state that he is already closer to his ceiling than others.  Perhaps not as much upside is the argument.  Would you agree or disagree with that assertion?

JG:  Maybe he is closer to his ceiling because he is already a really really polished player at age 19, and I don't think that's not something you want to hold against him.  While other guys are only now getting into shape for the pre-draft process, he transformed his body 2 years ago.  He took this seriously for a longer time isn't something you hold against him.  At the same time, he's only 19 years old.  If you look at the NBA playoffs now, there are so many guys who are big time impact players and if you look back and say what were these guys like at age 19 and they were really nothing.  I think he has a chance to be really really good, especially if he becomes a better shooter and as he becomes more serious about playing defense.  I wouldn't project him as an all-star.  There's only a couple of those in every draft class, but I do think he has a chance to be a starter in the NBA.  

That was the end of our questions, short and sweet this time.  Perhaps we'll do a post draft recap with Jonathan as a follow-up.  

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