Six Big 12 players taken in the NBA Draft
Six different players from Big 12 universities were selected this past Thursday in the NBA Draft. Oklahoma, Texas, Texas Tech, West Virginia, and Kansas all had at least one selection. The Big 12 was fifth in overall selections behind the ACC (10), Big 10 (8), Pac 12 (7), and SEC (7). Here is a brief rundown of every Big 12 player taken, starting with Oklahoma’s Trae Young.
Trae Young (Atlanta Hawks)
The Big 12’s highest draft pick this year was none other than freshman phenom Trae Young. Young was taken fifth overall by the Mavericks, however his rights were traded to Atlanta for Luka Doncic and a future first round pick. Young led the country in scoring and assists, and has drawn comparisons to Steph Curry due to his elite shooting and court vision. One area of concern is his defense, which has made critics compare his game to that of Jimmer Fredette. Young will look to be the face of the Atlanta Hawks, as they try to rebuild after losing coach Mike Budenholzer.
Mohamed Bamba (Orlando Magic)
It was quite fitting that Mohamed Bamba came off the board to the Magic only one pick after Trae Young given how similar their respective seasons went. Bamba was the defensive anchor for a Texas team that managed to fail to live up to expectations yet again. A below .500 Big 12 season was followed up by a first round exit in the NCAA Tournament for the Longhorns. Bamba will join a young team in Orlando, with promising young players in Aaron Gordan and Jonathan Isaac that could make the Magic’s defense lethal for years to come.
Zhaire Smith (Philadelphia 76ers)
Zhaire Smith got to be a Phoenix Sun for about 30 seconds before the news broke that he was being traded to the Philadelphia 76ers for Philadelphia local and Villanova standout Mikal Bridges. Philly fans were clearly upset at the deal initially, however the move allowed the 76ers to clear up enough cap space to have a max contract available, get a future first round pick, and acquire the promising former Red Raider. Smith was an instrumental part in Tech’s run to the Elite 8, and he will have a chance to contribute to one of the NBA’s promising young teams.
Jevon Carter (Memphis Grizzlies)
There was not a more fitting selection in this year’s draft than Jevon Carter going to the Memphis Grizzlies with the 32nd overall pick. Carter was a two time Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, and was known as a tough competitor and hard worker. Memphis is known for their “grit-n-grind” culture. I would expect Carter to compete with Kobi Simmons to back up Mike Conley, and with Conley’s future in Memphis being uncertain, Carter could have the opportunity to carve out a huge role for the consistent Grizzlies.
Devonte’ Graham (Charlotte Hornets)
Devonte’ Graham should have the opportunity to play from day one in Charlotte, as the 2018 Big 12 Player of the Year was drafted by the Hornets in the second round with the intention of becoming the backup Point Guard for Kemba Walker, or potentially starting if Kemba gets traded. The Hornets had one of the worst benches in the league last year, so look for the Kansas product to get the opportunity to prove his worth off the bench.
Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (Los Angeles Lakers)
Svi Mykhailiuk was one of the best shooters in the Big 12 last season, and the Lakers decided he was worth investing in by trading into the second round to get him. While Mykhailiuk was a key piece in the Jayhawks’ Final 4 run last year, he was not the most consistent throughout the season. Svi shot over 50% from three at Allen Fieldhouse, however in other games he was just under 40%. For him to get a major role in the NBA those splits need to even out, as his defense has been a limitation throughout his career.
Which Big 12 player that was drafted intrigues you the most? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!