Rescheduled five months after its original June date because of COVID-19 concerns, the (virtual) 2020 NBA Draft begins on Wednesday at ESPN headquarters in Connecticut, and a few college basketball players with Washington high school ties hope to hear their names called.
Sixty players will be taken during the two-round draft, which starts Thursday at 4 p.m. PST. The draft will be televised on ESPN.
Here is a look at three top in-state NBA Draft hopefuls – with comments from CBSSports.com NBA columnist and draft expert Gary Parrish:
Malachi Flynn, San Diego State (Bellarmine Prep HS)
Measurables: Point guard, 6-foot-2, 185 pounds.
High School: Bellarmine Prep.
Draft position: Mid- to late first round, Nos. 20-30 range.
The skinny: Seemingly out of nowhere, Flynn went from Washington State University transfer to consensus All-American at SDSU in one season as a junior, averaging 17.6 points, 5.1 assists and 4.5 rebounds in 33.5 minutes per game for the Aztecs. He was the unanimous Mountain West Conference player of the year as well, showcasing himself as an efficient decision-maker and reliable 3-point (.373) and free-throw shooter (.857). He should be one of the first point guards off the NBA Draft board on Wednesday, along with Iowa State’s Tyrese Haliburton, Michigan State’s Cassius Winston and Duke’s Tre Jones.
NBA player comparison: Fred VanVleet.
What Gary Parrish says: “Being able to run a team as a reliable point guard, and make a jump shot – those are things that translate to the NBA. Malachi checks that box.”
Jaden McDaniels, Washington (Federal Way HS)
Measurables: Small forward, 6-foot-10, 200 pounds.
High School: Federal Way.
Draft position: Late first round, No. 25-30.
The skinny: On paper, McDaniels is everything you’d want in a scoring wing player – long and rangy with a smooth-looking perimeter shot and very quick off the dribble. And the five-star prospect who chose the Huskies over Kentucky accomplished plenty (McDonald’s All-American, Washington state Gatorade player of the year) to warrant high NBA Draft consideration. So what is the issue? McDaniels’ up-and-down freshman season with the Huskies (13.0 points, 5.8 rebounds) brought up questions about his on- and off-court demeanor, putting a dent in his draft stock.
NBA player comparison: Dermarr Johnson.
What Gary Parrish says: “He might be the biggest bust-or-boom prospect under consideration in the top 30. … If you do spend a first-round pick on him, it is not because of anything you saw him do at Washington. It is because of everything you think he can maybe be despite what he was at Washington.”
CJ Elleby, Washington State (Cleveland HS)
Measurables: Shooting guard, 6-foot-6, 200 pounds.
High School: Cleveland.
Draft range: Late second round to undrafted.
The skinny: The all-Pacific 12 Conference first teamer was one of the most dangerous 3-point shooters in the league – and finished among the conference leaders in scoring (18.0 points), rebounding (7.8 rebounds) and steals (1.7 steals). At the NBA level, the question is – can he be a consistent enough perimeter shooting threat to stick on a roster? His sophomore-year percentage (.339) was a big step down after shooting 41 percent as a freshman. But he has proven to be a quality scorer, even against tough pressure.
NBA player comparison: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson.
What Gary Parrish says: “If you don’t hear your name called on draft night, it doesn’t mean you’ll never make it in the NBA. It just means you are going to have to take a more difficult path to get there – and I feel strongly that CJ is going to take a more difficult path to get there.”