Notebook: Draft stock in flux for Michigan sophomores

Dylan Burkhardt

Glenn Robinson III, Mitch McGary and Nik Stauskas are all firmly on the NBA Draft radar. Where they rank is anyone’s guess.

Mitch McGary’s injury has obviously added question marks to his NBA Draft resume. He’s had very little chance to play (fully healthy) this season to back up his NCAA tournament performance and he most likely won’t get another one this season. The 6-foot-10 sophomore isn’t even expected to rejoin team activities for quite some time, focusing on recovery, class and rest.

Glenn Robinson III started the season in a slump but has stepped up with McGary sidelined, playing the best basketball of his career. Seen as a lock for the lottery last season, Robinson’s stock slipped a bit this fall. Still projected as a first-round pick by most, Robinson appears to have fallen closer to the later-third of the round.

Nik Stauskas is leading Michigan in points, assists and efficiency and has improved nearly every element of his game since last season. The 6-foot-6 sophomore has started to emerge as on the NBA radar – an early second round pick on many draft boards – after entering the season as an afterthought.

Here’s a roundup of the latest draft speculation and reports.

The newest 2014 Mock Draft from Draft Express features all three Wolverines: Glenn Robinson III at No. 20, Mitch McGary at No. 29 and Nik Stauskas at No. 33.

ESPN’s Chad Ford posted an updated mock draft which isn’t as favorable to the Wolverines with just one Wolverine tabbed in the first round, Glenn Robinson III at No. 28, down from No. 25.

Robinson is in the same boat with most of the other hyperathletic small forward wannabes on our Big Board. If only they could shoot. Alas, Robinson, like Gordon and Grant, can’t hit a shot right now and is stuck in tweener land until he develops a reliable jumper.

ESPN’s Jeff Goodman feels that McGary should ‘absolutely’ return to school for his junior season, Chad Ford also weighed in recently.

Brian (Chicago) What should Mitch McGary do if (when?) he misses the rest of the season after his back surgery? Go back to school or come out and hope to go late first round?

Chad Ford: He’s in a very tough position. If he had gone to the NBA last year, would’ve been a late lottery pick. Now? He’s going to slide. Not only do back injuries scare teams off (it’s why Jared Sullinger slid so far in the draft) but McGary turns 22 in June. If he waits another year, he’d be 23 entering the draft. While that sounds young to most, for NBA scouts, it’s like saying you’re 50.

Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix posted an updated mock draft as well. Mannix projected the top 20 spots in the 2014 draft and didn’t include a single Michigan player. McGary (18) and Robinson (20) were both included in his last draft board, but have slipped out of the top-20.

The list features four other Big Ten players including Noah Vonleh (9), Gary Harris (10), Adreian Payne (15) and Sam Dekker (17).

CBS Sports’ Gary Parrish also updated his draft board, featuring Robinson at No. 27

“It’s obvious that Robinson misses playing beside Trey Burke. But he’s still doing enough to hold his place in the first round of this mock draft.”

Robinson’s position held steady at No. 27, but McGary slipped from No. 23 to No. 30 due to his back surgery.

“McGary is likely out for the season following back surgery. At this point, it’s possible, he’ll never be drafted as high as he would’ve been drafted after last season.”

Stauskas is also listed by CBS, projected 47th overall. Parrish couldn’t miss out on the opportunity for a ‘not just a shooter reference’, but Stauskas fell three spots.

“Stauskas is a great shooter, but not just a shooter. He’s averaging 17-plus points per game for the Wolverines, and could turn pro after two years of college.”(Previous: 44)

NBA has Robinson slotted at No. 11 in its most recent ‘extended mock draft’, and has Mitch McGary and Nik Stauskas projected in the second round of the 2015 Draft.

McGary’s back surgery has caused many to question his decision to school, but Mike Decourcy wrote a column defending McGary’s decision for the Sporting News:

McGary had shown an amazing collection of basketball skills in the tournament, from his jumpshooting to his passing against the Syracuse zone to his punishing board work and his all-out energy throughout every performance. NBA talent analysts – Chad Ford at, Jonathon Givony at – pegged him as a mid-first-round pick before any of the actual pre-draft testing and trials took place. Some had him as low as the 20s.

So spare him the “coulda-been-a-lottery-pick” nonsense. If he’d left last year, he probably would have been selected in the later portion of the first round, and that’s a tenuous position to be. It’s not so hard to slip out of the first round altogether.

McGary thought he was better than that, and it was not a small factor in his return.

  • matt b.

    Interesting stuff. The notion that Robinson’s shooting ability is the same as Gordon and Grant is totally off base in my opinion, and I think him missing Burke is probably unlikely too; as he doesn’t get lost in the offensive pecking order nearly as much as he did last year. It seems like a good example of a player falling because the newness factor is gone.

  • Dana

    I think Robinson fell because he wasn’t showing anything new. But lately he’s been much more diverse. If he contunues to post up, dribble drive, run the fast break as he has lately his stock will improve. A hot shooting stretch wouldn’t hurt but I really feel a diverse skillset is the key to Robinson moving up.

    • guestavo

      I have a felling most of these “Internet scouts” haven’t watched a UM game since Arizona.

    • mikey_mac

      I think he’s fallen because his 3P% is unacceptably low, even lower than it was last year, which was not good. He’s still a first-round pick, though, and definitely NBA rotation material.

  • guestavo

    None of these dudes know what they are talking about *right now*. No one does. I look forward to this article after tournament play, combine testing and one on ones. There aren’t 15 better pro players than Glenn. Teams like The Spurs make a living drafting guys like Nik and Mitch in the late 1st that incompetent pass on.

    • kam

      You really think mitch should go first round?

      • guestavo

        If his back is healed? Sure. A big that can handle, rebound and pass has TONS of value in a euro style offense i.e. Spurs or to backup Bosh in Miami or Lee in GS or just a extra body in general since bigmen are a commodity in the NBA.

  • Alex

    That would be rough if all three left. I think GRIII should leave since it’s highly likely he will be first round if he continues this play for the rest of the season. I think Stauskas and McGary should go if they are locks for first round slots which may not happen. If it looks like they are going to be second round or not drafted then they should come back.

    If everyone but GRIII comes back next year we could be in for a special season and then I could see McGary and Stauskas leaving after being captains of an elite team. Rising tides floats all boats.

    Obviously a lot can happen through April and the guys need to make the best decision for them but the second round is not a great place to start a career especially as an underclassman.

    • guestavo

      It’s actually more lucrative and gives more agency to be a second round pick over a late first. Sure a late first makes a half mil more but their contract is longer and they don’t get to choose where they sign. A second rounder can sign a 1 year deal from a host of teams, if their original team releases them, and outplay that 1 year deal and make significantly more than their 1st round counterparts.

      • gobluemd16

        But second round picks have unguaranteed contracts, and although we don’t want it to happen, if a second round pick underperforms then they could be without a team and searching for a job after their first season. Obviously there will always be pressure, but the longer contract may be safer for a rookie, especially transitioning to the pros, than a 1-year deal.

        • mikey_mac

          Second round picks can be out searching for a job well before their first season, even. Many teams don’t even have a roster spot available for their second round pick. Getting a full-length guaranteed rookie contract as a first-rounder is incredibly beneficial.

          • guestavo

            And there are tons of second rounders that do make rosters. If you can play in the league, you will make it regardless.

          • mikey_mac

            If you’re going to stick, you better be ready immediately, because there’s no margin for error as a second rounder. You won’t necessarily make it regardless.

          • guestavo

            There’s no margin for error as a first rounder, either. Two years guaranteed and then team options or you’re out.

          • mikey_mac

            Those two guaranteed years are the margin of error. You can develop in that time and earn another contract or exercised options.

          • guestavo

            IDK I don’t think it’s the number of years as much as it is finding the perfect system to compliment a skillset. A second rounder can be more cerebral and mindful of where they could be utilized well.

        • guestavo

          Yeah it is tricky.

  • brian coburn

    I cannot stand to read one more word about the draft from Chad Ford. How did the Darko thing not obliterate his career?

    The quote from Parrish is similarly clueless. GR3 misses playing with Burke? In what way did Robinson flourish last season in a way he’s not now? He’s doing the exact same things but just more of it because there are more shots for him.

    These guys don’t watch anywhere near as much of these players as we do and their history as draft “experts” are all dubious. I know Dylan is trying to inform us, but I hate seeing the guys put on a pedestal. They know little to nothing about which they speak.

    • guestavo


    • mikey_mac

      The quote from Parrish smacks of pre-B1G-season echo chamber talking points. Nothing even like analysis in there.

  • A2JD

    I think if any player is not slotted in the Top-20 in every mock, you’re better off coming back.

    • Indiana_Matt

      Was Timmy slotted in the Top-20 in all the mock drafts :)

      • A2JD

        He was in a few but he certainly improved his stock in workouts. Darius Morris was also in at least one Mock’s top 20 so it can go the other way.

        Now, if you feel you’ve maxed-out at college, that might form your considerations. I think TIMMAY may have felt that his stock wouldn’t be any higher since this year was already thought to be the deepest one in the last 10 years.

        • Indiana_Matt

          Yes, I couldn’t imaging Tim doing anything to raise his stock in college this year with such a deep draft.

  • Chris De Sana

    I hope they all have great NBA careers eventually but hoping they continue to fly under the lottery radar because as the longer they stay the better chance we have at winning a title.

  • Indiana_Matt

    My prediction is that GR3 goes pro and it turns out to be a good decision for him. I am not sure what to think about Mitch. Tough call if he rehabs well and is in good shape for the combines. My guess is that Nik should come back and go after his junior year. But who knows. Want to see them all succeed and try to balance that with seeing our team succeed.

  • JVS

    I have trouble not over-posting on this topic as I find it super interesting. A few thoughts: 1) From a pure financial perspective, there is a curve that you can more or less forecast that based on your age, the quality of the current/next year’s draft classes, that you have to improve X% in order to maintain your slot and Y% to improve it year on year, and that curve is a lot steeper the older you get [meaning potential is a lot more valued in a 19yr old than a 22yr old]. 2) One’s ability to show those improvements is in no small way correlated to who of their teammates stays/goes, as well as the development in our case of their point guard to put them in position to look good [If Glenn goes, the other two have a lot clearer roles in the offense, and if he stays we have a similar mix to this year where if Walton doesn’t take control, everyone looks a bit lost] 3) A lot of this comes down to the personal psychology of the player, how mature they are, and how ready they are for the massive lifestyle change that is to come [THJr last year had the presence of a guy who was ready to go, Mitch clearly didn’t purely on maturity]. My prediction assuming an expected Mitch recovery around the time of declaring: Glenn goes b/c he potential and combine metrics should push him into the teens especially if he is playing well in March, Nik stays to become the 20/5/5 guy in next year’s weaker draft. Mitch, I think is probably doing a lot of thinking about last year, and may view the risk of not going as too high, but hopefully would see a strong offensive role next year at the 4 and stays after much deliberation.

    • Alex

      Interesting. If McGary did go last year he may have been a fringe lottery pick. That’s what some people were saying but that’s only based off of six games. I just looked it up and Greg Oden did only play one season with Ohio State before being drafted and then getting immediately injured at the beginning of his career. I can’t believe he’s still on an NBA roster as he only just returned to the court a few days ago. Maybe the same thing would have happened to McGary but I’m sure the Heat can’t be pleased that they’ve been paying Oden for this long and he’s only now starting to play.
      I guess what I’m saying is there are advantages to both college and the NBA and I don’t begrudge these guys their dream. They’ve worked their entire lives for the shot and should have it by all means but the nice thing about college is you’re still an amateur and can take time to get better. In the NBA you have to perform. It is an interesting discussion and at the end of the day the players have to make the decision best for them. I just hope they consider all the contingencies and weigh the risks of each option rather then blindly listening to shady agents.

      • guestavo

        Being a bigman, even if injured, is a commodity in the league. Miami signed Oden specifically to matchup against Roy Hibbert in the playoffs. It’s the reason Bynum is still getting paychecks. Mitch will be on a roster.

        Let’s not forget that overseas is a pretty lucrative lifestyle too!

        • JVS

          Guestavo, Agreed with all of the points, but they all apply whether he stays or goes in 2014/15/16 so hopefully he doesn’t see too much downside in staying to try to improve his standing, and working on some elements of his game (more set offense/post work) to move beyond being the handles/motor guy. But I agree that if/when he goes his floor is probably 30th pick so long as the back is clear.

          Alex, completely agreed as well. So much bad advice out there hyping people’s self assessed value. Manny Harris, Darius Morris probably both had different expectations for how the league would see them, but I think our current group of guys has a culture and trust of Coach B and know that he will guide them they way he did with Tim/Trey who both I think left at the opportune time for their career in terms of what they could still learn/mature at, and what the league could do for them.