Stock watch: Where does Devonte' Graham's NBA candidacy stand after his junior year?
From the moment Josh Jackson decided to play at Kansas, everyone knew he would spend one season with the Jayhawks before becoming an NBA lottery pick. And now that his freshman year is done, we can see Jackson’s a near lock to go in the first three picks this coming June.
The immediate future of KU junior guard Devonte’ Graham — and his whole should I stay or go conundrum — qualifies as far more cloudy.
At various points before and during the Jayhawks’ now completed 31-5 season, Graham’s name appeared on mock drafts near the bottom of the first round and/or hovering close to the top of the second round. At DraftExpress.com, his stock peaked at 28th overall, in October.
However, in a Draft Express projection updated this past weekend, the name of the 6-foot-2 guard from Raleigh, N.C., didn’t appear until near the bottom third of the two-round mockup, with Graham predicted as the 50th overall selection, by the Denver Nuggets.
What’s to be made of him going from a possible first-round pick to the 20th choice in Round 2? It could have to do with Graham’s shooting.
In his third season at Kansas, Graham took 32 more 3-pointers than he did in his first two years combined, but only totaled two more 3-point makes than when you add up his freshman and sophomore numbers. In other words, his accuracy took a noticeable dip.
Here’s a look at his percentages from beyond the arc at Kansas:
- Freshman year: 17-for-40, 42.5% (29 games, 17.8 minutes)
- Sophomore year: 75-for-170, 44.1% (38 games, 32.5 minutes)
- Junior year: 94-for-242, 38.8% (36 games, 35.3 minutes)
Graham definitely has other qualities that will help him as he tries to make an NBA roster, but his 3-point marksmanship a year ago made the idea of selecting a 6-2, 185-pound guard more appealing. Graham’s mark of 38.8% this season wasn’t bad by any means — it currently ranks tied for 52nd nationally — but that 44.1% really made him stand out as a shooting prospect.
We still don’t know whether Graham will enter the draft or return to Kansas for his senior year. He could opt to test the waters without hiring an agent. Should he choose option No. 3, Graham could go to the NBA Draft Combine in May, get feedback on his status from various franchises and determine then what to do next.
Withdrawing from the draft in order to pad a pro résumé worked well over the past year for Purdue big man Caleb Swanigan, North Carolina wing Justin Jackson, Oregon’s Dillon Brooks, Villanova’s Josh Hart and Clemson’s Jaron Blossomgame.
A late second-round draft pick isn’t guaranteed anything, so Graham could be more interested in returning to Kansas for the 2017-18 season and another run at a Final Four next March if his stock doesn’t take a jump upward in the next several weeks.
Of course, it’s ultimately his decision, and if Graham is ready to become a professional, Bill Self won’t stop him. The coach only will help his 22-year old guard make the most informed resolution possible.