With less than two weeks remaining until the NBA Draft and the NBA Combine out of the way, eligible players now have just individual and group tryouts for teams remaining until the June 28 Draft.
Jae Crowder received a beneficial growth spurt in between the New Jersey combine and Chicago. Listed at 6-foot-3.75 originally, Crowder measured in at 6-foot-6.5 with shoes, a much more favorable height to NBA general managers.
What stood out most about Crowder in Chicago, which came as no surprise, was his 20 repetitions on the 185-pound bench press, the most of any player. The basketball player in an NFL tight end’s body was equally impressive on hand measurements. While a good showing in the hand department won’t shoot Crowder up draft boards, it should give NBA general managers a better sense of the versatility he can provide on the defensive end.
What was interesting to note was Crowder’s weight: 242 pounds. Earlier in the process, Crowder had said he was hoping to lose 25 pounds to fill in better at his new position on the perimeter. That didn’t happen, but it’s out of character for Crowder to lose control on his conditioning, so this was more than likely a planned occurrence.
But for as nicely as Crowder did last weekend, the Marquette winner may have been Darius Johnson-Odom. He measured at 6-foot-3 in shoes, which was surprisingly taller than Marquette listed him (6-foot-2). It’s clearly short for a shooting guard, but taller than projected lottery point guard Damian Lillard and projected second round point guard Scott Machado.
The most impressive number from Johnson-Odom’s weekend was his 41.5-inch maximum vertical jump. It was the highest jump of any combine participant, and combined with his 17 repetitions on the bench press (T-5th most) should put to rest any doubters that he can finish in the paint. That, and three years of game film of him doing just that.
With those numbers and measurements in mind, here is a look at where Crowder and Johnson-Odom may wind up on June 28. Double asterisks indicate who we believe would be each player’s best team.
It’s worth noting that it is near impossible to predict the actual draft position of players and teams past the first five picks of the draft. With so many draft day trades bound to take place, there’s a good chance that Johnson-Odom and Crowder will be drafted by teams currently not in that slot.
27. Miami Heat: Jae Crowder
This is a bit of wishful thinking, because Michigan State’s Draymond Green seems a perfect fit for what the Heat need: rebounding and outside shooting. But if a team snatches up Green earlier than pick No. 27, Crowder has a similar skill set and would be the third Marquette prospect to jump into the first round on draft night. A player of Crowder’s mental strength seems necessary in Miami, meaning he could be the pick. He has worked out for Miami once already.
**33, 34. Cleveland Cavaliers: Jae Crowder
According to Crowder, the Cavaliers have had him in for two individual workouts. And it makes sense, as the Cavaliers like their wings to play bigger, and will have a need for it next year. With four draft picks (4, 24, 33, 34), the Cavaliers may move their second round picks, but they also make look at Crowder, who would provide youth to a team and, at the same time, a senior leader who could play right away. With Anthony Parker assumed to retire this off-season, Crowder could fill in.
35, 52. Golden State Warriors: Darius Johnson-Odom
Point guards T.J. Ford, Charles Jenkins and Nate Robinson could all be gone next year, leaving a major void behind starter Stephen Curry. The Warriors tend to play undersized at every position as it is, so Johnson-Odom’s height wouldn’t be as big a deal. Plus, he could learn under the tutelage of head coach Marc Jackson, making Golden State an option if Johnson-Odom continues to rise up the boards before draft night. DJO could also be the pick at No. 52 if he falls.
36. Sacramento Kings: Darius Johnson-Odom
The Kings are wrapped into plenty of money next year, but none of that includes a back-up to last year’s No. 60 pick Isaiah Thomas. Johnson-Odom had a notable interview with the Sacramento brass, and he would give an athletic complement to Jimmer Fredette, currently listed as the back-up point guard.
40, 41. Portland Trail Blazers: Jae Crowder
The Trail Blazers gave Wesley Matthews a giant contract after just one year with Utah, and he has provided good value in two seasons. Jamal Crawford has a player option he is expected to decline, and Crowder could be a nice replacement in a reserve role. The Blazers’ 2010 first round draft pick Luke Babbitt has been a major bust, and the team should decline his team option after next season. A team looking to rebuild on the fly, Crowder would make sense.
43. Atlanta Hawks: Darius Johnson-Odom
The Hawks have over $50 million invested into Joe Johnson, Josh Smith, Al Horford and Marvin Williams next year, so this pick will be an important one. Jannero Pargo, Willie Green and Kirk Hinrich are set for free agency, so a reserve point guard behind Jeff Teague could be needed.
45, 54. Philadelphia 76ers: Jae Crowder
The Sixers paid Thaddeus Young big money to be their sixth man, but Andres Nocioni is a free agent and only six players are under contract for next season. Crowder has proven he can play well in a half-court setting, and he gets after it on the boards like all Philadelphia players do. With two picks in the second round, the Sixers could take a hard look at Crowder.
**48. New York Knicks: Darius Johnson-Odom
The Knicks are sure to be looking at point guards come June 28, and there may not be a better fit than Johnson-Odom. Baron Davis has all but retired after his gruesome knee injury, Mike Bibby most likely will not be back and Iman Shumpert will miss the start of the season after reconstructive knee surgery. That leaves Johnson-Odom, a shoot-first point guard who loves to get out on the break. The Knicks may look at more of a passer, but Johnson-Odom seems like a perfect fit behind Jeremy Lin.
60. Los Angeles Lakers: Jae Crowder
Crowder’s favorite player is Metta World Peace, so who better to mentor him (strictly in an on-court setting) than he? The Lakers have major changes coming this off-season to get under the luxury tax, and with Devin Ebanks and Matt Barnes set to become free agents on July 1, Crowder would be a cheap option who could yield impressive results. And don’t think Crowder would mind being Mr. Irrelevant: the Lakers were the team he most wants to play for.