NBA draft prospects: Where will Tide players end up?
By WVUA 23 Digital Reporter Jeremy Bryant
The NBA Draft is inching up by the day, with more top college prospects declaring for the draft with hopes of fulfilling their lifelong dream, but the gamble for teams is always taking the chance on a player who may or may not display the best results. Three players from the University of Alabama have already declared with the hope of landing in the perfect spot that fits their skill set during the June 23 draft.
Here’s where the Alabama prospects have the best chance of succeeding in the NBA:
Jaden Shackelford, Guard
Last off-season, Shackelford declared for the 2021 NBA draft before he decided to come back and improve on his draft stock. He enjoyed his best year as his numbers rose across the board, as he took on a bigger role in Alabama’s offense. He showed off the ability to put the ball in the basket at a high clip whenever his team needed. His off the dribble outside shooting put defenders in bad positions, because he has the nimble ability to finish strong at the rim if they push him off the 3-point line.
The downside to his game is that he has a tendency to take more contested shots than needed, and his free throw shooting will also need improvement at the next level. One of the main problems that teams may find with Shackelford’s skill set is that his poor defense will make it hard for a team to use him for long periods of time if he’s not scoring the ball.
Shackelford should be viewed as a mid to late second-rounder for a team looking for a shot creator off the bench. The team that best fits the bill for a player of his caliber would be a club like the Cleveland Cavaliers, who are in need of more scoring options in their back court.
Keon Ellis, Forward
Ellis may be the most NBA ready of all three Alabama players entering the draft. He can defend multiple positions because of his size and wingspan, and his two-way ability will surely get him on the floor faster than the other players. Ellis was the main defender for the Crimson Tide last season, guarding the opponent’s best scorer, but his athletic ability also helps him in offensive areas like shooting off the dribble or finishing at the basket in transition.
Ellis will need to add some weight to be able to defend against bigger players at the next level, and improve on his shot selection if he wants to make a good impression on the team that chooses to draft him.
Ellis will likely be a early second-rounder because two-way players have become a bigger commodity in the NBA. Teams have grown a liking to players like former Alabama forward Herb Jones which should make Ellis a target for a team like the Portland Trailblazers. The Blazers have a Top-10 pick to possibly gain a player to answer their offensive woes, but a second-round flier for Ellis would benefit them gaining more of a defensive presence.
JD Davison, Guard
The former five-star recruit was looked at as a clear-cut first-round pick coming out of high school because of his ability to jump out of the gym paired with great playmaking skills. For some reason, things didn’t pan out the way many thought they would in his lone season in Tuscaloosa. Davison averaged just over eight points and four assists off the bench, shooting over 46% from the field off the bench. He showed flashes of his game where he has the full package of being the lead scorer with blow-by speed and facilitating capabilities to get teammates open.
The part of Davison’s games that has a few scouts and experts scratching their heads is that there were too many instances where he disappeared in games. There were more putrid games like his zero-point performance against Auburn than his 20-point outburst against Gonzaga. Another fault people found out is that sometimes he’s too much of a pass first point guard, where he passed up open shots at the rim to players for contested jumpers.
After deciding against raising his stock in another season in college, Davison is being looked at as a late first or early second-rounder for a team that has time to wait for him to piece his full game together. Davison has the makeup to be a productive player at the next level for a team like the Toronto Raptors who should be looking for a spark player off the bench.
Players still have the option to withdraw from the draft pool and return to college until the June 13 deadline.