SPOKANE, Wash. - On the eve of the 2019 NBA draft, we take a look at the local players worth keeping our eyes on and where they might be headed.
There are two names we will hear in the first round of the draft, both Rui Hachimura and Brandon Clarke will be taken and have both been invited to the NBA's greenroom in Brooklyn. But there are several other players hoping to join them.
We start with the two names we know will be taken.
Rui Hachimura - Gonzaga
Rui is the West Coast Conference Player of the Year and a first team All-American. He has the highest ceiling of any player on our list. With size, speed, athleticism, and youth, he has everything NBA teams are looking for. Rui is still pretty new to American basketball as the language barrier was a big hurdle he had to overcome at Gonzaga.
Rui chose not to participate in the NBA combine, the same route as Domantas Sabonis took in 2016. It's unclear whether that helped or hurt Rui in his draft stock as his teammate Brandon Clarke wowed scouts with is workout numbers.
Rui will not challenge Adam Morrison's spot as the highest drafted Gonzaga player at #3 overall, but could be in the mix where Sabonis went at number 11. Expect Rui's name to be called in the middle of the first round.
Brandon Clarke - Gonzaga
What a crazy two years from Clarke who transferred from San Jose State, sat out a year, and left Gonzaga early. He came to the Zags as an athletic player without a jump shot. He still has a long way to go to be called a great shooter, but his off-the-charts athleticiscm and nose for the ball make him very attractve in the NBA.
He's the best above-the-rim player to come out of Gonzaga since Ronny Turiaf and with the NBA changing to allow players without a true position to succeed, Clarke will also hear his name called in the first round.
The only real drama surrounding Clarke and Rui is, which one will be taken first. Odds are Rui will go first, but don't be too surprised if Clarke jumps him Thursday.
Zach Norvell, Jr. - Gonzaga
Norvell is an interesting name here simply because he can shoot the ball so well. Most experts probably would have thought Killian Tillie would be in the draft and Norvell would not, but here we are.
Norvell is one of the best pure shooters in the draft as he knocked down 37 percent of his three's while at Gonzaga.
His size isn't ideal for a non-point guard at 6'5, but he has shown the ability to create his own shot as well as hit spot up three's. Being left handed doesn't hurt as he can take players off the dribble to both sides.
If Norvell is taken in this draft it will more than likely be late in the 2nd round. A team that makes a ton of sense here, is the Lakers who are trying to buy up as many 2nd rounders as possible to side-step the salary cap. Norvell toeing the three point line as a kick-out option for a driving Lebron has to be interesting to the Lakers who have had success with Turiaf and Johnathan Williams in recent years.
Josh Perkins - Gonzaga
Gonzaga's all-time assist king is a longshot to be drafted Thursday but has been brought in for personal workouts with several NBA teams. He's a pure point guard and would translate as a pass first player at the next level.
While at Gonzaga Perkins showed an ability to score when called upon, but really shined when others carried that load.
If Perkins is taken in the draft it will be late in the 2nd round, but expect him to be scooped up by a team quickly for the Summer League if he goes undrafted.
Robert Franks - Washington State
Another longshot to be drafted, but not because of his ability. Franks was a great player on a bad team at Washington State and if he had USC, or Oregon on his jersey, he would more than likely be a lock to be taken in the 2nd round.
Franks has great size and shooting ability that should translate nicely to the NBA.
Being an underdog is nothing new for Franks who received only one Pac-12 offer (WSU) and turned into the conference's leading scorer. Every team knew they had to stop Franks when playing the Cougars, and he still averaged over 22 points per game last year.
If Franks is taken, he will become the first Cougar since Klay Thompson to do so.
If Franks is drafted it will be at the end of round two, but going undrafted might give him more of a chance to find himself in the right opportunity to make an opening day roster.
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