It came as little to no surprise to Michigan State Spartans‘ fans when freshman forward Deyonta Davis opted for the NBA Draft after just one season in East Lansing.
Widely regarded as one of the best prospects in the draft, Davis had the look of a lottery selection on draft night. Several mock drafts had him slotted within the 14 picks in the lottery, while the vast majority had him as a first round pick.
On draft night, Davis remained in the green room, listening as names were called in the first round.
Davis’ name wasn’t one of them.
As the first round wound down, Davis was still waiting to hear his name as the Golden State Warriors made their pick at 30th overall. They went with big man Damian Jones, thus sending Davis into the second round.
When big man Jonas Valanciunas went down with an injury in the 2016 NBA Playoffs for the Toronto Raptors, many thought that the team wouldn’t advance far in the post-season.
But, as he showed over the course of the regular season, backup center Bismack Biyombo showed that he was no slouch. He was capable of playing big minutes and being an impact player on both ends of the floor for the Raptors. Biyombo was a key piece of the Raptors’ run to the Eastern Conference Finals.
After Toronto’s season came to an end, Biyombo opted out of his contract, becoming a free agent on July 1st. With Biyombo in a position to see a massive pay raise, and the Raptors possibly letting him go to another team, the focus turned to a backup center on draft night.
Several names were thrown for the Raptors in the 9th slot. From Henry Ellenson to Jakob Poeltl, and Marquese Chriss to Domantas Sabonis, the Raptors could have went several directions.
Over the last year and a bit, you’d be hard-pressed to find a player who has had a faster rise than that of Canadian guard Jamal Murray.
After bursting onto the scene for Team Canada at the Pan American Games, showcasing his talents against men and standing out without having played a collegiate game. He re-classified to the Class of 2016, and committed to the high-powered Kentucky Wildcats.
From there, he emerged as a star in the SEC, and across the NCAA as a whole. From his “bow and arrow” celebrations to record-breaking performances over the season, Murray quickly became the star of the loaded Wildcats’ team.
One of the biggest question marks coming into the 2016 NBA Draft was how the Boston Celtics would handle their eight(!) draft picks on the evening.
Throughout the day, General Manager Danny Ainge was actively shopping the third overall selection. According to various sources, Ainge was ‘playing hardball’ with the pick, and the Celtics’ offers were too high for other teams.
One report that came out close to the start of the draft was a three-way deal that worked in the Chicago Bulls and the Philadelphia 76ers, resulting in the Celtics landing Jimmy Butler. Nothing came to fruition from that deal.
Philadelphia reportedly offered the Celtics Nerlens Noel, Robert Covington, and picks #24 and #26 for the third selection, but again, the Celtics didn’t budge.
With the new NBA Draft rules, there were a number of underclassmen who declared early for the draft without signing with an agent. Players were able to go through the pre-draft process, and 70 players were invited to the NBA Draft Combine.
Depending on the feedback players heard, projections, and how the players felt in general, they were able to return to school if they so chose. The deadline to either sign with an agent or return to school was May 25th.
As the deadline came and went, several key players opted to return to school for another kick at the can in the NCAA. Some are back to improve their game with the hopes of becoming a lock for a first-round selection in future years, while others simply went through the process to get noticed and the experience.
With the recent changes to the NBA Draft process for underclassmen in the NCAA, the number of players who declared early for the draft increased this season in comparison to past years.
In the past, players had to make a final decision on whether or not to stay in the NBA Draft before the combine. This year, players could declare for the draft, not sign with an agent, and go through the pre-draft process (combine, individual team workouts, etc.). This allowed for players to see where they were projected to be selected, if at all, and gain feedback from executives and scouts from around the NBA.
The deadline for a final decision this year is May 25th.
Several talented mid-major players opted to go through the process, but many were expected to return to school for the 2016-17 season. It doesn’t hurt to get the extra feedback, and going through the process can help spread the word about your talents.
One player who took that route was Bakari Copeland. After a strong 2015-16 season, he opted to declare early for the NBA Draft. While many expected him to return to school, it wasn’t until Friday afternoon that he made his final decision.
Copeland will be returning to the Maryland-Eastern Shore Hawks for his senior year in 2016-17.