As the college basketball season comes to a close, players are approaching the April 22 deadline to enter the draft, while NBA teams are trying their hardest to tank their way to a top pick.
The order for this mock draft is based upon 538’s CARM-Elo projections as of April 2. For each pick, team needs are taken into consideration, as well as fit.
This pick comes from the Rockets, who own the league’s best record.
Brunson went somewhat quietly during this year’s tournament, shooting 15-41 in the final three games as Villanova cruised to a national championship, Brunson’s second. It will be difficult for teams to parse through this new data, deeming it representative of the junior point guard’s status in big games or somewhat of a fluke, a bit of chance in a six-game tournament run in which randomness is almost the only certainty.
I actually think Brunson’s play against Texas Tech in the Elite Eight can be looked at optimistically, as Brunson refused to be taken out of a physical, close game with so much on the line. He drew fouls and played aggressive defense despite his shot not landing, and was a surprising positive in the Wildcats’ closest game of the tournament. I think that’s what you can expect from Brunson in big-game situations, more than the foul trouble and inefficiency we saw out of him against Michigan. He is too smart, and has too many skills to fail.
His ability to make smart decisions with a spaced floor, create his own offense and put in effort consistently on defense makes him a good fit in Atlanta, who simply need steadiness if they develop star-level players out of their higher picks.