An enormous contingent of NBA executives and scouts will descend upon Portland this week for the Nike-sponsored PK85 event (Phil Knight Invitational). This 12 months’s major early-season faculty basketball extravaganza consists of 16 groups, two completely different brackets in honor of firm founder Phil Knight’s eighty fifth birthday and, naturally, a wealth of future NBA gamers who can have a say in how the 2023 draft goes down. As a result of there’s not a lot else competing for groups’ consideration throughout Thanksgiving week—many high-level decision-makers will head on to Portland from the Maui Invitational—the PK85 is kind of arguably the most important scouting occasion of the season.
Gamers can have an enormous alternative to depart impressions right here, and I can be in attendance all week to maintain tabs. This is what I am wanting ahead to as Thursday attracts shut. Remember that that is not a listing of the 5 greatest prospects within the occasion, merely a number of buzzy names who I am most interested by getting into Thursday’s slate of video games.
Brandon Miller, Alabama
Peak: 6’9″ | Weight: 200 | Age: 19 | Freshman
On the heels of a optimistic spring and good showings in apply, Miller had been one of many buzzier freshmen names circulating amongst NBA scouts getting into the season. The 6’9″ ahead has opened November in robust type, averaging 20.3 factors and 9.3 rebounds on 50% taking pictures from the sector and 51.7% from three, whereas attending to the foul line 20 instances in 4 video games. He is coming off his greatest recreation of the season, scoring 28 factors and pouring in seven threes final week towards Jacksonville State.He made pictures off the dribble and catch whereas utilizing his size to affect the sport across the rim and defensively.The motor considerations that often adopted Miller as a youthful participant appear to be a non-issue, and he is legitimately expert and agile sufficient to play small ahead on the NBA degree.
Granted, like many groups, Alabama has performed a cupcake schedule up to now, positioning the PK85 as Miller’s first severe check of the season. The Crimson Tide open Thursday evening towards a bodily, skilled Michigan State group that can presumably attempt to run Miller off the road and pressure him to make performs off the dribble and within the paint. Greater than half of his shot makes an attempt by him up to now have been three-pointers, and he is not a extremely explosive finisher on the rim, so this three-game event is an enormous alternative to be taught extra about his tendencies and weaknesses by him, contemplating the standard of competitors.
Miller is kind of previous for a freshman—he turned 20 on Tuesday—however his mixture of measurement and ability ought to mitigate these considerations a bit so long as he continues to provide. It is a large week for him to make his lottery case, and I am curious to take an extended take a look at him up shut.
Kyle Filipowski, Duke
Peak: 7’0″ | Weight: 230 | Age: 19 | Freshman
After watching Duke fall to Kansas in Indianapolis final week, I positioned Filipowski within the second spherical of final week’s mock draft. However he performed properly in that recreation and I’ve since been pondering precisely the place to undertaking him. He might wind up being one of many extra polarizing prospects within the class. Filipowski is kind of expert with the ball as a stretch large at his listed 7’0″, and he is been Duke’s most efficient participant by way of 5 video games, averaging 15.6 factors and 10.4 rebounds whereas taking part in with a fiery, aggressive edge (although maybe, often, to his detriment).
The opposite facet of the coin right here is that Filipowski shouldn’t be an distinctive athlete by NBA requirements, missing blow-by pace with the ball in his arms and relying totally on his heft to provoke contact with defenders. He is a below-the-rim finisher who should show himself additional scoring in visitors. And he is not notably agile laterally, which is simpler to cover in faculty however, as we have seen repeatedly, he’s typically simply uncovered in an NBA recreation that options extra pace, ability and house to assault on the ground.
A lot of this may hinge on how he performs: I can envision situations the place Filipowski impresses along with his effectivity and productiveness and performs his method into the center of the primary spherical, but additionally ones the place he winds up within the second spherical and even returns to Duke as a result of athletic and defensive considerations. Above all else, he’ll have to shoot the ball rather well to show his level. I used to be n’t blown away by his play di lui in Indianapolis, and Filipowski doubtless wo n’t be the highest-drafted prospect on his group (keep watch over each Dariq Whitehead and Tyrese Proctor), however I am to observe him up shut once more with an open thoughts.
Jordan Hawkins, UConn
Peak: 6’5″ | Weight: 195 | Age: 20 | Sophomore
Hawkins entered the season as a captivating breakout candidate and has a reasonably textbook ability set for a two-guard. He has clear, fast taking pictures mechanics, twitchy motion expertise and sufficient of a deal with to play off of a number of dribbles and create pictures. And it appears he is stepped into a large function for a reasonably robust UConn group, as evidenced by an environment friendly 20-point displaying final week towards UNC-Wilmington. Hawkins is n’t gigantic by NBA wing requirements, however he is acquired the size and explosiveness to play larger than his body.
Whereas Hawkins is a bit previous for a school sophomore, turning 21 in April, this season is his first main alternative to showcase himself (he got here off the bench and did not play constantly as a freshman). That ought to most likely earn him some advantage of the doubt as groups get extra acquainted, and above all, his taking pictures and burst appear to be translatable expertise. He is a high-level athlete by NBA requirements and must primarily show he can rating effectively and put stress on the rim as a slasher. Hawkins’s freshman 12 months stats did n’t fairly validate the attention check parts right here, however his burgeoning catch-and-shoot recreation ought to open a variety of issues up for him.
As an athletic defender who ought to have the ability to play out of the wings and the corners, Hawkins has a baseline function projection that makes a variety of sense. He nonetheless must again it up with manufacturing and can have alternatives to try this in Portland as UConn navigates a tough a part of the bracket. The Huskies open towards Oregon on Thursday evening and can face both Alabama or Michigan State on Friday, and their final offensive ceiling is tied to Hawkins’s shot-making. He could make strides towards the primary spherical with a collection of fine showings.
Kel’el Ware, Oregon
Peak: 7’0″ | Weight: 210 | Age: 18 | Freshman
I flew out to the West Coast slightly early this week to see Houston play at Oregon on Sunday evening, with a handful of projected and potential draft picks taking the ground in a high-level non-conference tilt. Ware, at present a projected first-round choose, hardly impacted that contest, coming off the bench behind N’Faly Dante and Nathan Bittle with out leaving any kind of dent within the recreation. Ware had an excellent recreation towards Montana State final week that raised expectations slightly, however this feels very very like a wait-and-see scenario shifting ahead.
It will likely be laborious to leap to any kind of conclusions about Ware’s one-and-done candidacy till he begins to carry out constantly. His capability to earn extra minutes is probably going contingent on his motor trending up, which is a degree of concern for NBA groups because it pertains to his precise readiness to contribute within the professionals. Ware constructed up buzz with an excellent spring and summer season, however typically has a demonstrably languid perspective on the court docket that does not actually do him any favors by way of a important lens. If he performs on the PK85 like he did towards Houston, the barometer will nearly actually be trending down as Oregon heads into convention play.
Having stated all that, Ware does have apparent first-round-caliber instruments, so it might not take all that a lot of an uptick for him to nonetheless wind up with a considerably favorable draft place. He is fairly agile and fluid for a 7-footer, and whereas he clearly envisions himself as extra of a finesse participant, he could possibly break up the distinction if he embraces bodily play and continues to change into a reliable flooring spacer. Cell facilities who can shoot the three nearly at all times get a number of probabilities to discover a area of interest within the NBA, and bigs typically take longer to get comfy. Proper now Ware does not actually scream lottery candidate, however he is most likely a long-term improvement choose regardless. All he has to do is earn himself some advantage of the doubt, and that he begins with being extra lively and concerned in no matter sort of minutes he receives. He’ll get a number of alternatives towards high quality competitors this week to depart a long-lasting impression.
Cam Whitmore, Villanova
Peak: 6’7″ | Weight: 232 | Age: 18 | Freshman
Whereas it is but to be introduced as as to whether Whitmore will make his season debut in Portland, there appears to be a little bit of optimism going round that he may return sooner or later. He is a projected lottery choose for good motive, as a robust athlete and high quality three-point shooter who can defend each ahead spots and performs with power. Whitmore made an enormous particular person bounce over the previous 12 months, together with a robust displaying with USA Basketball on the FIBA U18 Americas and on the All-Star recreation circuit. He’s additionally on the youthful facet for this draft class, as he will not flip 19 till July. At any time when he returns to play—hopefully on an enormous stage this week—he is somebody NBA groups will proceed to get fairly aware of.
I saved him for final right here merely as a result of query of whether or not he’ll play, however Whitmore is a straightforward participant to love: he competes laborious and does a variety of issues that translate to the trendy recreation. If he is certainly ready to make a leap as a shooter, his perceived upside di lui may wind up as interesting as his flooring di lui, which appears to be fairly excessive as a contributor. Whereas instant expectations ought to doubtless be tempered as Whitmore works again from thumb surgical procedure, if he performs as much as his capability over the course of the season and solidifies himself as a prime 10 choose, it additional strengthens what could be a really deep lottery class . Keep tuned.
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