If you’re still checking on these daily tournament watch guides you are the true Draft Road Dogs. I see you. I appreciate you. Now let’s get it.
If you’re just stumbling in to this series for the first time, welcome. Here at Mavs Moneyball we’re aiming to get you ready for this summer’s NBA Draft. And the tournament is an exciting crash course in scouting. It won’t tell us everything about a player, but it’s nice to see them all in one long pressure-packed event.
The Mavericks at the very least will have their early second round pick, with a chance to hold on to their lottery pick if it falls in the top five. So we’re trying to spread the wealth on first and second round prospects that you should be watching in this tournament. There is still plenty of NBA-level talent in this tourney. Here are the players and matchups we find intriguing for Friday night’s games:
Naz Reid (LSU)
vs Michigan State - 6:09 CT, CBS
Everyone could recognize the talent level on the roster at LSU, but few expected them to make this deep of a run in the tournament. So it’s nice we’ll get some extra looks at LSU big man Naz Reid. The 6’10 250-pound freshman is a smooth, athletic big man. He moves well away from the basket, and has shown some ability to distribute from the nail in the offense. And while it’s a small sample size, he’s shooting 35 percent from three on 79 attempts this season. Tonight he’ll be going to battle with Spartans big man Nick Ward — should be a slug fest. Reid’s had a decent tournament, and could be a second round option if he decides to enter the draft.
Auburn vs North Carolina Perimeter Battle
Auburn vs North Carolina - 6:29 CT, TBS
Both teams have plenty of perimeter firepower and it should be on full display tonight. We’re most intrigued by the Cameron Johnson - Chuma Okeke matchup. These two were featured in this series last weekend, and to see them go head-to-head should be fun. Johnson was going to be a sneaky second round steal in this summer’s draft, but his play of late has been turning a lot of heads. Also keep track of Auburn senior Bryce Brown opposite UNC freshman Coby White. The Tarheels point guard has been shooting up draft boards alongside Johnson. And both could make big impressions tonight against a hot Auburn squad.
Duke’s Big 3 vs Virginia Tech’s Big 3
Duke vs Virginia Tech - 8:39 CT, CBS
This site’s draft coverage has been pretty clear that Zion Williamson is the only option for the Mavericks this summer off this Duke squad. There are places where RJ Barrett and Cam Reddish will fit, and could eventually thrive. But it just doesn’t make sense next to Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis. But their matchup against Justin Robinson and Nickeil Alexander-Walker from Virginia Tech should be intriguing. These are ACC opponents that have familiarity. Tech beat Duke in their lone game this season (a game that Robinson and Zion neither appeared in).
Barrett and Reddish, to their credit, were both efficient and connecting from three last weekend in their nail-biting win against UCF. And they both made clutch plays to help Zion and Co. seal the win. The battle to watch is how NAW, a solid first round draft prospect, tries to contain the Duke perimeter duo. While Kerry Blackshear Jr. will have his hands full down low as VaTech faces Zion for the first time.