NBA Draft Insight From Ryan Blake
The NBA’s co-director of scouting dishes on the Draft’s biggest names.
SLAM: Can you list a few guys from Eurocamp or what you’ve heard from workouts or saw at the Combine who might be overrated or slipping because of concerns?
RB: I would say [Donatas] Motiejunas is a guy who I like. He’s got a good skill set; he’s just not developed as quickly as we thought he would. He’s not as strong, he tends to float sometimes. Again, with a size of 7 feet he’s hard to overlook but a guy who’s going to be under contract. International guys under contact tend to scare me and you only have a $500,000 buyout.
[Jonas] Valanciunas is in that. His agents kept him in the draft, which is probably a good move for him. As an agent, you look at next year and you see it might be a deeper draft next year, maybe not. But he does not have a buyout right now. And again, you have to remember that a team can put in only $500,000 towards a buyout. They don’t have to. So, if you have a team with a multiple pick and you have a guy like Valanciunas, who’s really good, and you say, ‘Okay, he doesn’t have a buyout but he can really develop in the next three years’ there’s still that risk factor. There’s still that buyout, you still hope he doesn’t sign another contract or you hope he can still have that buyout.
Remember, Rubio two years ago came over with a $6 million invoice. But he said, ‘Hey, if I’m in the top five then I’m coming regardless.’ Did he come? No. Did Fran Vazquez come? Did Frederic Weis come? No. And when you’re a GM and you only have one pick, that’s a huge risk. If you have two picks, it’s still a risk.
SLAM: The last one before you have to head out. Who are the lockdown defenders in this draft from the perimeter and in the post?
RB: Well, first off Jimmy Butler straight up. You just put him out there. [Travis] Leslie doesn’t have an offensive game, but he’s one of the best athletes and defenders right there. He’s a guy who doesn’t shoot the ball well, but he rebounds and defends. We have guys in the League who will do that. Having a guy like Leslie, who’s 6’4, 6’5, plays 6’7 and rebounds and defends. That’s a valuable player. He’s a passer, too. He’s just not a shooter. Jimmy Butler, same thing. Wes Matthews, Landry type who defends. I think Butler has more of an arsenal because of his all-around game.