James Bouknight will hear his name called early NBA draft Day thursday night. It’s going to be a big breakthrough for UConn, which hasn’t had an NBA draft lottery pick since Andre Drummond and Jeremy Lamb in 2012. Before that, it was more of a regular occurrence.
It will also be a major breakthrough for Bouknight, who “helped himself as well as anyone else in the pre-draft process,” according to him Jonathon Givony from ESPN. He said Bouknight did this by “shooting out the lights on his professional day in Chicago, measuring well and continuing his strong momentum in private practice”.
Immediately after the college season ended, the mock draftsmen saw Bouknight as a marginal lottery tip and told him about it Curtsey in 19th place or the Wizards in 15th place. A few months later it looks like he won’t make it through the top 10.
The most common predictions for Bouknight are now at number 6 out of 6 Oklahoma City thunder and No. 7 to the Golden State Warriors. The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie said he would be “stunned” if Bouknight was there after the eighth pick.
Head coach Dan Hurley also commented on Bouknight’s ideal landing target.
“James wants to be trained. He wants to be in a professional culture. He wants to play with other players who have a tremendous passion for basketball. You are competitive and want to fight for a championship. I hope it will be convened by an organization that is not afraid to coach its players and that has a strong responsibility in terms of professionalism in its culture. “
Here’s our quick breakdown of how Bouk would fit in with these teams.
No. 6 – Oklahoma City Thunder
Givony represents Bouknight into what has become an outpost for ex-huskies. Landing in Oklahoma City would bring Bouknight together with his husky alum Kemba Walker, as well as head coach Mark Daigneault, a former UConn team manager, and give non-conformist UConn fans an easy team to get excited about. The Thunder have a star-in-the-making with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and the connection between him and Bouknight is fascinating.
With Walker and Alexander in tow, Bouknight wouldn’t have to shoulder a huge offensive load right away and can take more time to get used to the NBA game while still having plenty of playing time.
The Thunders have plenty of future draft picks in store, however, so their direction remains pending at this point. The way in which General Manager Sam Presti hoards, presents and then packs young talent for established stars makes the destination a little less attractive. Just ask Jeremy Lamb. Regarding Hurley’s comments, Daigneault seems like a player-coach who could win the young rookie over right away.
No. 7 – Golden State
Bouknight is associated with the Warriors for a need rather than the best available player in that position. The Warriors need bank scoring when Steph Curry and Klay Thompson need a break, and Bouknight has been typed as a microwave scorer, possibly the best on the draft. The Warriors also need to consider the potential trade value of the player they select in 7th overall, and Bouknight fits that calculation as one of the fastest rising players in the draft.
John Hollinger from The Athletic says the Warriors will try to grab their two picks (7 and 14) for a player like Portland’s Damian Lillard or Washington’s Bradley Beal. We’ll cover these two teams in the end. It would be impossible to gauge teamwork because who knows who would come or go, but the chance that Bouk will come to rebuild the teams is an exciting prospect.
Golden State and head coach Steve Kerr still have a reputation for being a great place to develop talent, and learning from Steph and Klay is never a bad thing, so Bouknight would do well to end up with the Warriors.
No. 8 – Orlando
Josh Robbins of The Athletic got Bouk on the way to Orlando. The Magic pressed the reset button on NBA trading deadline, Dispatched by Aaron Gordon, Nikola Vucevic, and Evan Fournier. They finished on the third worst record in the NBA and are essentially a clean slate as they are looking for a head coach other than Penny. You have two picks in the top 10, No. 5 and No. 8.
Fit-wise, they have Gary Harris, Terrence Ross, RJ Hampton and Dwayne Bacon in Bouknight’s position. It’s a jam while waiting, but magic needs more than just the right talent at this point, and Bouk has plenty of that. With two picks, they could pick someone with more advantage and then roll the eighth pick with the best available player.
Going to Orlando would mean many opportunities for Bouknight, but the Magic are miles away from competing and are stuck in an apathetic sports market. Combined with a new, first-time head coach at Jamahl Mosely, this is not an ideal destination for Bouknight.
No. 11 – Charlotte Hornets
Before he mostly shot into the top 10 everywhere, Self-service nation had Bouknight No. 11 go to the Charlotte Hornets.
LaMelo Ball has grown to be one of the NBA’s most exciting young stars, and it’s now Charlotte’s job to build around him. The Hornets already have a backcourt partner for him in Malik Monk, but if they wanted to move up from 11th place, Monk would be a first-rate figure in the last year of his contract.
Bouknight could be the great athlete and goalscorer Charlotte wants to target at 11. They may just need to advance in the draft to select him. James Borrego is a well-respected but relatively new name in the coaching field, so this isn’t an ideal target in terms of Hurley’s hope.
Most NBA teams enter the lottery for a reason; They stink. But a lot of the teams that Bouk has on their radar fit together well as an organization and in terms of the squad.
Wherever it lands, you don’t have to wait long for Bouknight’s name to be called.