The beauty of the NBA draft — any professional sports draft, for that matter — is that a player does not need every team in the respective league to covet him. 96.7 percent, if we’re talking NBA, of the general managers could have no interest in a player’s services, but that 3.3 percent, that one general manager or scout of a given team, could, leading to that player hearing his name called by David Stern or Adam Silver.
Vander Blue is certainly no exception. The 6-foot-5 combo guard’s deficiencies have been well-documented, yet there’s plenty to like about the 21-year-old Madison native. Per his own Twitter account, Blue has worked out with Memphis, Dallas, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Houston, Oklahoma City, Utah, Orlando, Phoenix, Detroit and Boston. That’s 12 of 30 teams, and if Jae Crowder’s own path to the NBA last year was anything like Blue’s, there were more teams who wanted to see Blue in an individual workout, but Blue chose those 12 teams.
A few of the teams on that list don’t make a ton of sense; others make all the sense in the world. Below we give our take on the five best spots Blue could land, based on the 12 teams he worked out for, in reverse order — so you have to scroll down to see the top spot. The ranks are based on the best chance for Blue to be drafted, and the draft order (some teams do not have second-round picks) is taken into consideration as well.
5. Utah (no. 46): The Jazz’s point-guard situation has been ugly ever since they traded away Deron Williams to New Jersey (now Brooklyn), and it gets significantly worse as Mo Williams, Earl Watson and Jamaal Tinsley are unrestricted free agents. They could very well take the best PG available in Round 1 (no. 14) and still look for depth at the position in Round 2 as they re-work the position.
4. Dallas (no. 44): Darren Collison and Rodrique Beaubois each have qualifying offers around$3.2 million, and rookie Jared Cunningham was nothing special last season. Assuming Collison returns or Mark Cuban addresses the position in free agency, back-ups will be needed. Blue would have a friendly face in Jae Crowder, and the front office has to be pleased thus far with what Marquette products have yielded them.
3. Philadelphia (no. 42): The 42nd pick seems far too high to consider Blue, but if the Sixers trade back in the second round he may be a nice fit for such a young team. Jrue Holiday is quickly becoming one of the top young point guards in the game and he’s the only court general under contract for next season. Blue may not do as well in a slower-paced offense, meaning he’d need to have dominated his individual workout with the Philly brass. The opportunity is there for Blue to succeed, and it’s a position of need for the 76ers.
2. Orlando (no. 51): Jameer Nelson and E’Twaun Moore make up the only depth at point guard, making it clear that a versatile point guard is necessary for the Magic. Furthermore, they need as much raw talent as they can get in this draft. Since Blue likely will be selected as a project more than anything, he’s someone they can stash in the D-League or work in very slowly, a la Marquis Teague with the Bulls last season.
1. Phoenix (no. 57): As perfect a fit as Blue could get, the Suns are in complete makeover mode as a franchise and need to get talent out on the court. Goran Dragic is entrenched as the starter and, like Blue, is a tall, strong finishing point guard who excels in an uptempo pace. Blue can also provide help on the defensive end, where Phoenix was atrocious last season. Earlier this month we wrote on why Phoenix is the perfect landing spot. It’s also this author’s prediction that Blue lands with the Suns at no. 57 (or wherever they wind up picking in the round).