An updated look at the draft stock of two former Jayhawks now that the 2020 NBA draft order is set
The NBA held its annual drawing to determine the lottery order for this year’s draft on Thursday night.
And while the time and events leading up to the 2020 draft have been drastically different from the past, the unveiling of the draft order brings about a feeling of normalcy within the process.
While neither of them has any dreams about going No. 1 overall to Minnesota or even in the lottery later this year, former Jayhawks Udoka Azubuike and Devon Dotson now have a slightly better understanding of what their futures might hold and what teams might be interested in drafting them.
Throughout the past 18 months, Azubuike and Dotson have been on a wild ride up and down mock draft boards across the country.
At times, both have been projected as first-round picks by at least one prognosticator. At other times, mostly before their stellar 2019-20 seasons, both were buried deep in the second round. And still there were moments when neither player appeared in a handful of mock drafts out there.
That’s no longer the case, as the 2019-20 season and the work they’ve done since it ended has elevated both players into potential Top 40 status in the draft, which will take place in October this year instead of June because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
No one knows exaclty what will happen on draft night, of course. And it’s still possible that both former Jayhawks could wind up as first-round picks or could both go in the second round.
But now that we have an order and we actually know what teams are picking where, the mock drafts start to carry a little more weight.
It remains to be seen if there will be any kind of pre-draft combine this year, virtual or otherwise. If there is, both Azubuike and Dotson will be a part of it. But even if there’s not, both players have done enough work to paint themselves in a favorable light for the NBA teams looking for their next immovable big man or lightning-quick point guard.
KU coach Bill Self said a couple of months ago that the lack of individual workouts and a pre-draft combine could benefit his two All-Americans as much or more than anybody in the country because it would force NBA teams to create their draft boards based on what they already knew and saw from these players before the pandemic arrived.
Whether that’s the way it plays out or not remains to be seen, but it certainly makes sense.
Neither player is a perfect prospect. If they were, we’d be talking about automatic lottery status instead of late first-round. Both have tremendous talent but they also have flaws. But regardless of what skills they do and don’t possess, it seems as if people are starting to see Azubuike and Dotson in a clearer light and looking at them more for what they bring to the table than what they’re lacking.
That has elevated their draft stock throughout the past several months and both could continue to see it rise as we move toward October.
For now, though, let’s take a quick look at some of the immediate reactions from the aftermath of Thursday’s draft lottery drawing.
We’ll start with Jonathan Givony and Mike Schmitz at ESPN, where the best mock draft in the world is housed.
I talked to Schmitz about both players in Maui last November and he’s come a long way on both of them from what he thought about their NBA futures last November.
Delivering a couple of All-American, No. 1 overall seed type seasons has a way of doing that.
Here’s part of a recent interview Schmitz did with Dotson about his jump to the NBA.
Speaking of that mock draft, ESPN currently has Dotson going as the No. 35 overall pick — fifth pick of the second round — to the Sacramento Kings.
It’s not impossible to picture Dotson jumping up six spots and sneaking his way into the first-round between now and October. But this is the slot where he has been pretty consistently ranked since the end of his college career.
The Sporting News, however, has Dotson listed as the 24th best overall prospect in the 2020 draft, proving that anything is possible.
That’s not to say they’re projecting that he will be drafted No. 24 overall by Milwaukee, but they don’t see 24 better players than Dotson, regardless of team or needs.
Team needs play a big role in ESPN’s current projection for Azubuike.
Givony and Schmitz currently have Dok slotted at No. 30 overall to Boston, with the last pick of the first round.
The blurb on this pick reads: “When Al Horford walked, the Celtics experimented by turning to undersized Daniel Theis to start at center. Danny Ainge might look to add a different dimension to the frontcourt in Azubuike, a unique physical presence with at 270 pounds with a 7-foot-8 wingspan and 9-foot-4 standing reach.”
Azubuike’s age (20), legit size and ability to move, which he showed off better than ever during his senior season at Kansas, are all attractive traits for teams looking to add a player with the potential to dominate down low without being a liability on the perimeter.
The Sporting News lists Azubuike as the 39th best prospect available in this year’s draft, continuing to push that flip-flop reality that these two have faced throughout the past year.
They battled for team MVP and Big 12 Player of the Year honors. And they have seemed to be on opposite sides of the line in most mock drafts throughout the past several months, with one projected in the late first round and the other in the early second.
It will be interesting to see where they end up, and, of course, how they’re pro careers play out.
For what it’s worth, Thursday night or Friday morning mock drafts from CBS Sports, Yahoo Sports, Bleacher Report and Forbes did not have either former Jayhawk listed in the top 30.
The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie has Dotson plugged in at No. 43 overall, with a note saying he sees him going in the 25-45 range, and Azubuike going two picks earlier, at No. 41, to San Antonio.
As we move closer to the Oct. 16 NBA draft, it seems safe to say that their stock continues to rise in NBA circles.